Bible Treasury: Volume 11

Table of Contents

1. Abraham: Genesis 22
2. Christ a Sweet Savour to God for Us
3. Notes on John 7:1-13
4. Notes on 1 Corinthians 9:1-14
5. The Value of Scripture Knowledge
6. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 9
7. Abraham: Genesis 23
8. Notes on John 7:14-31
9. Notes on 1 Corinthians 9:15-27
10. The Olive, the Vine, and the Fig Tree
11. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus
12. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 10
13. In the Wilderness Alone With God
14. Advertisement
15. Abraham: Genesis 24
16. Notes on John 7:32-39
17. Notes on 1 Corinthians 10:1-11
18. The Saviour and the Sinner
19. Elements of Prophecy: 10. The General Design of the Apocalypse
20. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 11
21. Discipline in the House of God
22. Scripture Queries and Answers: "Two or Three"
23. Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 6
24. Scripture Queries and Answers: Place of a Dead Man
25. Scripture Queries and Answers: Eternal Life
26. Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 6:7
27. Scripture Queries and Answers: The New I and the New Man
28. Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 6
29. Scripture Queries and Answers: Being Dead
30. Ad
31. Abraham: Genesis 25:1-10
32. Notes on John 7:40-52
33. Notes on 1 Corinthians 10:12-22
34. Elements of Prophecy: 11. The General Design of the Apocalypse
35. On Power in the Church, Not Imitation but Obedience in the Sense of Present Ruin
36. Brief Thoughts on the Church, as the Body and the House
37. Dr. Bonar's Rent Veil
38. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 12
39. Scripture Queries and Answers: 1 Corinthians 6:2
40. Notes on John 7:53 and 8:1-11
41. Peace: John 20:19
42. Notes on 1 Corinthians 10:23 and 11:1
43. Elements of Prophecy: 12. The General Scope of the Apocalypse
44. A Slight Sketch of the Holy Spirit's Ways: Part 1
45. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 13
46. Scripture Query and Answer: Romans 8:9
47. Notes on John 8:12-20
48. Notes on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
49. Elements of Prophecy: 13. On the Year-Day Theory
50. A Slight Sketch of the Holy Spirit's Ways: Part 2
51. Notes on Matthew 13
52. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 14
53. The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 1
54. Notes on John 8:21-29
55. Notes on 1 Corinthians 11:17-26
56. Receiving the Holy Ghost
57. The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 2
58. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 15
59. Notes on John 8:30-46
60. Notes on 1 Corinthians 11:27-34
61. Elements of Prophecy: 14. The Year-Day Theory Continued
62. Divine Love in the Gospel and the Believer
63. Not Ashamed of the Gospel
64. The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 3
65. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 16
66. The Record and Christian Standard
67. Errata
68. A Few Words on Elijah
69. Notes on John 8:48-59
70. Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:1-6
71. The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 4
72. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 17
73. Short Papers on Church History
74. Advertising
75. Notes on 1 Chronicles 13-17
76. Notes on John 9:1-12
77. Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:7-13
78. Elements of Prophecy: 15. The Year-Day Theory Concluded
79. The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 5
80. Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 18
81. Scripture Queries and Answers: Beginning to Break Bread
82. Advertising
83. Printed
84. Notes on 2 Chronicles 18-20
85. Notes on John 9:13-25
86. Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:14-25
87. Elements of Prophecy: 16. Concluding Observations
88. The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 6
89. Conflict in Heavenly Places
90. Letter on Receiving the Spirit
91. Just Published
92. Notes on John 9:26-41
93. Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:26-31
94. Elements of Prophecy: Appendix A
95. Elements of Prophecy: Appendix B
96. Letter on Receiving the Spirit
97. Just Published
98. Notes on Job: Introduction
99. Notes on John 10:1-10
100. Notes on 1 Corinthians 13
101. Jesus the Shepherd: John 10:1-80
102. The Lord's Supper: A Memorial of Christ
103. Smyrna and Pergamos: Revelation 2:8-17
104. On Atonement
105. Thoughts on Jacob: 1. Genesis 28:20, 21
106. Notes on Job 1-2
107. Notes on John 10:11-18
108. Notes on 1 Corinthians 14:1-12
109. On Responsibility: 1-2. Introductory and The Principle of Responsibility
110. Sardis and Philadelphia: Revelation 3:1-12
111. Thoughts on Jacob: 2. Genesis 28:20, 21
112. The Two Rich Men (Duplicate): Luke 18, 19
113. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Hour of Temptation
114. Notes on Job 3-7
115. Notes on John 10:19-30
116. Notes on 1 Corinthians 14:13-25
117. Love of God and of Saints and Overcoming the World: 1 John 4, 5
118. On Responsibility: 3. The Establishment of Responsibility: Part 1
119. Thoughts on Jacob: 3. Genesis 28:20, 21
120. Breaking Bread and Preaching in the Same Room
121. Notes on Job 8-10
122. Notes on John 10:31-42
123. Notes on 1 Corinthians 14:26-40
124. Remarks on the Hebrews
125. On Responsibility: 3. The Establishment of Responsibility: Part 2
126. The Resurrection of the Body: Part 1
127. Rome, Turkey, and Jerusalem
128. Published
129. Notes on Job 11-14
130. Notes on John 11:1-10
131. Notes on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
132. Quotations
133. The Two Adams
134. The Resurrection of the Body: Part 2
135. On Responsibility: 4. The History of Responsibility: Part 1
136. Notes on Job 15-17
137. Notes on John 11:11-29
138. Notes on 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
139. The Spirit of God and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost: Part 1
140. Thoughts on Jacob: 4. Genesis 28:20, 22
141. The Resurrection of the Body: Part 3
142. When Did the Church Begin and What Are Its Privileges?
143. Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek
144. Fragments: Two Classes in Psalms
145. Notes on Job 18-19
146. Notes on John 11:30-44
147. Notes on 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
148. God's Dealings With His Children
149. The Spirit of God and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost: Part 2
150. Letter on the Sufferings of Christ
151. Thoughts on Jacob: 5. Genesis 28:20, 22
152. Neil's Palestine Re-Peopled: Review
153. Notes on Job 20-21
154. Notes on John 11:45-57
155. Notes on 1 Corinthians 15:29-34
156. The Spirit of God and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost: Part 3
157. The Sufferings of Christ
158. Christianity Viewed in Its Object
159. Thoughts on Jacob: 6. Genesis 28, 20, 22
160. Ascension of the Lord Private or Public
161. Notes on Job 22
162. Notes on John 12:1-11
163. Notes on 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
164. The Advocate or the Accuser: Whose Side Do You Take?
165. Thoughts on Jacob: 7. Genesis 28:20, 22
166. Reply to Tract on the Tenets of the (So-Called) Plymouth Brethren: Part 1
167. Colossians 1:15-18
168. Errata
169. Notes on Job 23-24
170. Notes on John 12:12-26
171. Notes on 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
172. On Responsibility: 4. The History of Responsibility: Part 2
173. Thoughts on Jacob: 8. Genesis 28:20, 22
174. Reply to Tract on the Tenets of the (So-Called) Plymouth Brethren: Part 2
175. The Most High
176. Scripture Query and Answer: Romans 7-8
177. Notes on Job 25-26
178. Notes on John 12:27-36
179. Notes on 1 Corinthians 16:1-12
180. The Son
181. Thoughts on Jacob: 9. Genesis 28:20, 22
182. Reply to Tract on the Tenets of the (So-Called) Plymouth Brethren: Part 3
183. Notes on Job 27
184. Notes on John 12:37-50
185. Notes on 1 Corinthians 16:13-24
186. Natural and Supernatural
187. Superiority of Christ Over Circumstances
188. Thoughts on Jacob: 10. Genesis 28:20, 22
189. Notes on Greek Tenses, Moods, and Prepositions
190. Reviews
191. Advertisement

Abraham: Genesis 22

The last chapter closed that series of divine dealings with our patriarch which opened with Gen. 15. We can readily see that it forms a natural conclusion. The long promised heir is come; the legal covenant and the child of flesh are cast out; the prince of the Gentiles is reproved instead of reproving, and seeks the friendship of the father of the faithful, who plants a grove and calls there on the name of the everlasting God. Thus, as in chapter 14, we are brought again to a picture of millennial peace and power and blessing.
In Gen. 22 we begin another series of yet deeper character and moment—final too, as far as Abraham and Sarah are concerned.
“And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham'; and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” It was the greatest trial to which God had ever put the heart of a saint. It was not tempting with evils any more than God is tempted with them. It was, on the contrary, His own good that was before God, who would make His friend the witness of it, while testing his confidence in Himself and His word to the uttermost. Isaac was loved as only a child so promised, born and reserved for a wondrous destiny, could be—to say nothing of personal qualities that must endear him to his parents. How the father's heart must have pondered on God's covenant with “thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant,” and the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession; especially after Hagar and Ishmael were expelled, and the word of promise came, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called!” The father was assured, therefore, that this son, and no other, was that of the promises. God could not lie; but He might, and does, try, and those most whom He loves best. So with Abraham now. God demands that the father shall offer up his only son for a burnt-offering on Mount Moriah. It was the shadow of His own incomparable and infinite gift, but only the shadow; for Christ really did suffer and die, and God the Father sent Him, in divine love, to be thus a propitiation for our sins.
Abraham was only “tried;” still he was tried most severely, and by grace endured the trial, and was blessed accordingly. There was no delay in giving up his son to God, any more than he had doubted of God's word that he should have a son of Sarah when both were as good as dead.
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” (Vers. 85)
The moment was come when Abraham must challenge his heart for the last time, counting on God to make good His promise, and give him back that very Isaac to be the heir of all assured to himself, and the channel of blessing to all families of the earth. God must raise Isaac assuredly, as his own mind was made up to sacrifice him at God's bidding. “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering.” (Vers. 68.) “God will provide himself a lamb!” Unconscious prophet of a truth too well, too little, known, he anticipates exactly what God has done, in the gospel, of which this very scene stands out, in some respects, the most eminent type. Guilty man, in his heart of hearts, thinks all depends on some atonement he is to make, even if he also, in ever so orthodox a manner, confesses our Lord Jesus, as a Savior. But this he confesses for all the world: for himself to get the benefit, he really trusts to a sort of compounding for his sins. He hopes to give up his sins, most or all, and that God will be merciful. Such is the gospel of the largest part of Christendom, where it is not even an avowed confidence in life giving ordinances, and saving rites and works of goodness. What a contrast with “God will provide himself a lamb!” What grace on God's part! What a call for faith on man's! “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be of grace."
Nor could any other way suit either. Sins are thus borne and judged, and forgiven to the believer but yet to God's glory, while His grace reigns to eternal life. Anything else would depreciate God, as it would exalt the sinner, for which certainly Christ did not die, but suffered once, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God; and this He has done for every believer cleansed from every sin by His blood.
"So they went both of them together; and they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of Jehovah called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not: thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Vers. 9-14.) Thus was Abraham fully tried, and God magnified and honored by his simple hearted trust in Himself. Yet not a drop of Jacob's blood was shed. God remains God. He spared not His own Son, but gave Him up freely for us all. In all things Christ has the preeminence.
Still Abraham shines brightly in the scene, and God marks His appreciation of it. “And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Vers. 15-18.)
Galatians 3:16 casts fresh light on the blessing here pronounced. The blessing is twofold. In verse 17 it is Jewish, and consists in a countless progeny, which possess the gate of their enemies. In verse 18 no number is attached to “thy seed.” This, accordingly, is what the Holy Spirit contrasts as “the seed” of Abraham to which the promises were made. “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Thus the seed with no number or multiplicity annexed to it is shown to be Christ, typified by Isaac, risen again from the dead in figure, who blesses all the Gentiles, as now in the gospel, contradistinguished from the numerous Jewish seed, who are to subject the nations and rule over them, in the age to come. The Seed risen from the dead has evidently broken the link with life or relationship on earth, and is in a wholly new condition wherein He is able to bless the Gentile as freely as the Jew. This Christ is doing now, as the epistle shows, wholly apart from law or circumcision which suppose the flesh and the Jew still under the probation of God, and so in effect deny the cross.
The rest of the chapter (vers. 20-24) calls for no particular notice now. It was meant to prepare the way for Rebekah, by showing her relationship with Abraham's lineage, in view of a still closer tie.

Christ a Sweet Savour to God for Us

Leviticus 1, 2
The first sacrifice offered was one of sweet savor. For this there had to be taken of the cattle, from the herds, or the flocks, a male without blemish representing Christ without sin. On its head the offerer laid his hand when brought before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, that it might be favorably received for him before Jehovah: not taking from the offerer his iniquities but transferring to him its · sweet savor when wholly burnt on the altar, yet making an atonement for him. If of fowls, the offering was to be of turtledoves or of young pigeons.
In chapter 2 we have a meat or rather a cake offering of fine flour with oil poured on it and frankincense, which like the burnt sacrifice was consumed on the altar, though not wholly, for the priest took from it his handful of the flour and of the oil with all the frankincense. Christ alone is unleavened. He was conceived of the Holy Ghost as well as Son of Mary. (Matt. 1; Luke 1)
God has accepted the offering that Christ presented to Him, not only the sacrifice for sin, which comes afterward in chapter iv., &c, but also the sweet savor of His life which was perfect.
Christ accepted the will of His Father in all its extent, going down, so to speak, from humiliation to humiliation, going on from obedience to obedience, always perfect but perfect as He grew up a man. He advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2); not that His obedience was ever less than perfection, but that it became ever more painful and difficult, till it went even up to death—death of the cross. The world rejected Him always more and more. There was only found in the world a sepulcher for Him.
Christ perfectly glorified His Father. He rendered testimony to the holiness of His will by accepting it altogether. We on the contrary seek but too often to exalt ourselves even among our brethren; we want their esteem and their respect. Christ sought but “one thing,” the glory of His Father and not His own. For it, and so for us, He always went lower and lower down in this world. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him. He is accepted fully and on high; and if God is satisfied with Christ, we also ought surely to be satisfied with Him. We can find all repose for our hearts in Christ. Are you tired with the world, weary of the desert of sin, of strife? Well then look to Christ, where only is rest, perfect rest for conscience and heart. He is the sacrifice and the offering of good savor.
Christ was perfectly holy, though He took part in blood and flesh, as the children had their common lot in the same, and was tempted in all things in like manner with us, sin excepted. He fulfilled all righteousness. (Matt. 3) He had been Himself baptized, when the penitents flocked to John confessing their sins. If He thus put Himself on a level with the Baptist (“thus it becometh us,” &c), He puts Himself also on a level with Peter (Matt. 17) when the temple tribute was demanded, whilst displaying His divine wisdom and power in making the most unruly and inaccessible of creatures serve His good pleasure.
But it was not allowed to burn cakes which contained leaven or honey. (Lev. 2:11.) Oil was there, the Spirit of God, and also the salt of His covenant; but leaven represented the sin we have in us which gives its character to our bodies as they are; and God could not accept it as being corrupt. Neither could honey thus be offered, representing the sweetness of nature which God gives to us by the way, in which our hearts can find some refreshment. So literally did it happen to Jonathan when faint. (1 Sam. 14) All that man has at his disposal is spoiled and cannot be offered to God; nothing but the life of Christ as the meat offering, and His death as the burnt sacrifice, to say nothing here of His suffering for our sins and trespasses. In His perfection throughout God the Father finds His pleasure. Christ is all, and in all.
As a new creation in Christ we are called to manifest what God is, not in miraculous power, but in doing and suffering all the will of the Father, owning and proclaiming it as alone good in obedience. It is only Christ who has thus absolutely glorified the Father. Even when He poured forth His deepest expressions of grief such as He alone knew, not a murmur escaped Him. Yea, when forsaken of His God and acknowledging it, He adds,” But thou continuest holy, Ο thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” (Psa. 22) Job, on the other hand, though he had not his equal on the earth, could only say, “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.... Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, which long for death, and it cometh not,” &c. Such was a perfect and an upright man: how different was Christ?

Notes on John 7:1-13

The Lord had thus propounded His humiliation and His death, with His ascension to heaven, completely setting aside the carnal expectations then prevalent as to His kingdom. He had done more than this; He had taught the absolute necessity of appropriating Himself, both incarnate and dying, for eternal life. He had pointed forward all hope to resurrection at the last day, however unintelligible to the Jews, and repulsive even to many of His disciples. They looked for present honor and glory through the Messiah; they could not bear death with Him, opening into resurrection life and glory.
“[And] after these things Jesus walked in Galilee, for he was unwilling to walk in Judaea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the feast of the Jews, the tabernacles, was near. His brethren therefore said unto him, Remove hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples too may behold thy works which thou doest; for no one doeth anything in secret, and seeketh himself to be in public. If thou doest these things show thyself to the world. For not even did his brethren believe in him.” (Ver 8:1-5.)
Thus we see the Lord in the despised place, the True Light, not in the city of solemnities, where darkness reigned the more, because it was least suspected; and in Galilee He walks about on His errand of love. He does not wait for souls to seek Him; He seeks them, that, believing, they might have life in Him. Judaea He avoids, knowing that the people of that part of the country, identifying themselves with the murderous hatred of their rulers, were seeking to kill Him. He was unwilling, not (one need not say) afraid, to walk about there. He was subject to His Father's will in this. He must complete the work given Him to do. As He said to certain Pharisees who sought to move Him by naming Herod's desire to kill Him, I cast out demons and accomplish healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I am perfected (that is, reach the end of my course); but I must proceed today, and tomorrow, and the next (day), because it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. He knew perfectly the end from the beginning. He feared not man. He goes up at the appointed moment to do and suffer all the will of God, as well as all from man and Satan.
The festival then at hand, the feast of tabernacles, tests man afresh, or rather our Lord tests by means of it. Those attached to Him by natural kin, His brethren, were impatient at His Galilean sojourn, at His separateness from the center of religious life and honor. As the Passover closely connected itself with the truth of the last chapter, so the Tabernacles furnished the occasion for what the Lord brings out here. There the blood of the lamb, itself eaten by the Israelites, points to His death, let them hear or forbear. Here the gathering of the people to rejoice was after the harvest and the vintage, types of the various forms of divine judgment at the end of the age when Israel, at rest in the land, will remember their former days of pilgrimage. It was preeminently the season of triumph, which proclaimed all the promises, fulfilled.
But was it really so now? Because Jesus, the Messiah, was there, and working each works as He did, was the time come for the accomplishment of Israel's hopes? So His brethren thought, because they wished it for themselves, though they put forward His disciples, and their need of seeing His works, and this in Judaea. No thought had they of God, not the faintest conception that in the obscurity of Galilee Jesus was glorifying the Father, and manifesting the Father's name to those the Father gave Him. They betrayed their own condition, their ignorance of God, their lack of self judgment, their unconsciousness, not only of their own ruin, but of the world, their unbelief of Him who deigned to be born of their family—who He was, and what He had come to do, was in none of their thoughts. They reasoned from self, not from God, and were thus so much the more hopelessly wrong as it concerned the Lord. “No one,” said they, “doeth anything in secret, and seeketh to be in public. If thou doest these things, show thyself to the world.” It was what they would have done. They sought, and conceived that every wise man must seek, present glory. Had they never heard One who taught even His disciples to do their alms, and pray and fast, in secret to their Father, who will render accordingly? If they had, the truth and will of God certainly had left no impression. The real ground of the wish and words was in this, that, as the evangelist solemnly adds, even His brethren did not believe in Him.
“Jesus therefore saith to them, My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify concerning it that its works are evil. Go ye up to the feast. I go not up to this feast, for my time is not yet fulfilled.” (Vers. 6-9.)
In no sense does flesh profit, and the friendship with the world is enmity with God, Satan taking advantage of both against man as well as God. Jesus abides in perfect dependence (to speak of this only). His movements were invariably in obedience. In everything it was a question to Him of the Father. His single eye saw that His time to show Himself to the world was, and could be, not yet. Death, as He had implied even before His Galilean ministry began (John 2:19- 22), and still more emphatically opened out in John 6, was before not displayed to the world. This will be in its due time; but here, as ever, the order is the sufferings that pertain to Christ, and the glories after these. First must He suffer many things and be rejected of this generation. Man's time, contrariwise, was always ready. They spoke as of the world, and the world heard them. They loved the world, and the things of the world; and the love of the Father was not in them, but, what they valued more, they were loved by the world as its own. Terrible position for His brethren, but not more terrible than true! How could the world hate those who so prized its honors? Jesus it did hate with a deadly hatred, because He bore witness about it that its works are evil; a testimony most of all galling to the religious world, to the men of Judaea and Jerusalem. Hence the Lord bids them go up to this feast, while He tells them that He goes not up, His time not yet being fulfilled.
The significance of this is the more marked by His action in contradistinction from theirs, and, as read above all, in the light of His subsequent testimony on the great day of the feast. “Having said these things to them, he abode in Galilee. But when his brethren had gone up, then he himself also went up not manifestly, but as in secret. The Jews therefore sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? And there was much murmuring about him among the crowds. Some said, He [is] good; others said, No; but he deceiveth the crowd. No one, however, spoke openly about him because of fear of the Jews.” (Vers. 10-18.) The seventh chapter of John, for the truth taught is based on the sixth, has this point of view; it supposes the Lord not only in death but in ascension. There is a manifest break with the world, and flesh is treated as no longer capable of association or communion. It really never was capable; but now it takes its own way, and the Lord withdraws. His brethren go up to the feast of tabernacles without Him; He does not go up, but abides in Galilee. Only after they had gone does He go, and then not manifestly, as they desired, but as in secret—more so than ever before. He is content to be, as it were, hidden, type of that which He really is now, and we with Him, as far as our life is concerned—hid in God.
This gives rise to questions and whispers about Him among the crowds, some speaking patronizingly, others with the utmost ill will and contempt; but even so there was no discourse in public, or plainly. The leaders of Judaea kept men in fear.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 9:1-14

The apostle now enters on the vindication of his office which some in Corinth had sought to undermine and of ministry in general which they tended to corrupt. Title is asserted, but with full room for grace. For ministry is of Christ the Lord, not of the first man, and the spirit of man or of the world if allowed is its ruin.
“Am I not free? am I not an apostle? have I not seen Jesus our Lord? my work are not ye in [the] Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet at least I am to you; for the seal of my apostleship ye are in [the] Lord. My defense to those that examine me is this. Have we not authority to eat and drink? have we not authority to take about a sister wife, as also the other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? or I alone and Barnabas, have we not authority to abstain from working [lit. not to work]?” (Vers. 16.)
Most strongly had he declared his readiness to give up anything for natural life rather than jeopardize his brother. Yet does he affirm his independence of human yoke as distinctly as his apostleship. Liberty thus went hand in hand with the highest responsibility. Nor was his office vague or secondary. He had seen Jesus our Lord. His detractors were thus far right: he had derived no degree from the apostolic college, no mission from Jerusalem. From the twelve others might pretend to succession, and falsely: Paul had his authority immediately from the Lord seen on high. Were the Corinthians the men to question this?—the “much people” whom the Lord had in that city? whom Paul had begotten through the gospel? Was this their love in the Spirit? If not an apostle to others, surely such should not deny it who were its seal in the Lord. But what may not the saint do or say who slips out of the Lord's presence? Too, too like Jeremiah's figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. In none is evil worse than in the Christian. The corruption of the best thing is not the least corruption. Was it come to this, that Paul was put on his trial, on the preliminary inquiry at least, to see whether an action would lie against him, and that he had to make his plea or speech in defense to his own Corinthian children in the faith? He then asserts the title of an apostle, as we may say too in general of him who ministers in the word, and here in the gospel particularly. “Have we not authority to eat and drink?” that is, right to maintenance. “Have we not authority to take about a sister wife, as also the other apostles and the brethren in the Lord and Cephas?” that is, not only to marry a sister but to introduce her where he himself went, an object of loving care to the saints with himself. So it was with the apostles in general, notably with the Lord's brethren or kinsmen and above all with Peter. (See Matt. 8:14.) “Or I only and Barnabas, have we not authority not to work?” This is the alternative ordinarily where support is not given. But the saints should never take advantage of the grace that foregoes such a title to relax in their own plain and positive duty. To cut off the plausible self-seeking of false apostles who wished to ingratiate themselves and to insinuate evil against the true, the apostle did not use his title, especially at Corinth, but wrought with his own hands, as it would seem Barnabas did also. But he is careful to lay down as unquestionable the title of the spiritual workman to a living for himself and his family.
Very fittingly does this follow his exhortation in the preceding chapter, where he reproves such an use of liberty as might stumble the weak. It was certainly not so with him who did not even use his right to support when in their midst; so had he done as to marriage (1 Cor. 7) through all his career in order to serve the Lord the more undividedly; even as he could tell the Ephesian elders at a later day how they themselves knew that his hands had ministered to his wants and the wants of those who were with him, and had shown them everyway that so toiling we ought to come in aid of the weak and call to mind the words of the Lord Jesus, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
But he proceeds to show that even nature teaches better than to neglect those who serve the Lord in His saints or gospel. “Whoever serveth in war at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of its fruit? or who tendeth a flock and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Do I speak these things as a man, or doth not the law also say these things? For in the law of Moses it is written, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that is treading out corn. Is it for the oxen that God careth, or doth he say it altogether on our account? For it was written on our account, because the plower ought to plow in hope and the thresher in hope of partaking. If we sowed for you the spiritual things, [is it] a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others partake of the authority over you, should not we more? But we used not this authority, but bear all things that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of the Christ. Know ye not that those that minister about the holy things eat of the temple and those that attend the altar share with the altar? So also the Lord ordained those that announce the gospel to live of the gospel.” (Vers. 7-14).
All live on the return of their work, soldier, husbandman, shepherd. The propriety of this, according to man, is unimpeachable: did the law of God speak otherwise? It is even stronger in the same direction; and if He spoke of not muzzling the ox when treading out corn, He had not cattle in view but His people, His servants in the word. The figure is kept up accurately. The plower ought to plow in hope, and the thresher (ought to thresh) in hope of partaking, the last phrase being more appropriate when the time for a share was obviously near.
There is also, it may be well to notice, in verse 11 a guard against him who would object that the analogy falls, in that the laborer thus specified received in kind, whereas the spiritual laborer might need help in the things of this life. The apostle meets the senseless or selfish cavil by showing the duty of a recompense a fortiori, as what is of the Spirit transcends what is of flesh. If we for you sowed the spiritual, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal?” He appeals in verse 12 to their own practice as owning the title of others. “If others partake of the authority over you, should not we more?” He takes care however to show that he was wholly above selfish aims in thus pleading for the spiritual laborer and his title to support: “Yet we used not this authority, but bear all things that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of the Christ.” He would plead for others and their title, and the duty of the saints ministered to on a right consideration of the work done; but he used not the right for himself, on the contrary bearing all sorts of trial in order to afford no hindrance to the gospel.
Lastly the apostle draws a testimony from the Levitical system in contrast as it is in many respects with the gospel, in that it identified the ministrants with what was brought into the temple and laid on the altar. Jehovah being the part and inheritance of the priestly name among the sons of Israel, He gave them a share in His offerings and sacrifices. So now under the gospel the Lord forgets not those who preach it but appoints them to derive their maintenance from it, though there may be exceptional cases as in his who has written the rule for us.

The Value of Scripture Knowledge

I feel strongly that one has to cast oneself on the Spirit of God, for speaking of mere circumstances sometimes creates difficulty. I would say that it has struck me, where the King is spoken of, the bride is Jerusalem; when the Lamb is spoken of, the bride is the heavenly Jerusalem. Of course, there are many analogous principles in both. Psa. 45 is entirely concerning the King's wife—the Revelation entirely the Lamb's. I would say there is a good deal of interest in seeing the different characters of blessing in their relationships. I see two grand characteristics in the Lord's dealings. The one that of righteousness, as it is said, “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness, his countenance doth behold the upright;” and the other grace: not that in His dealings in grace He gives up righteousness, but righteousness, simply as righteousness, could not be to sinners; but they needed grace, which is maintained in righteousness in the Lord Jesus. The position of the church, as knowing their righteousness in Him, comprehends the character of grace. I see this distinction going on all through. In Isa. 60 we have the King and the bride. God could not identify Himself with His people Israel when they failed in their responsibility to Him, and He cast them off; but when, in Isa. 60, we see them in the stability of glory, their iniquity having been forgiven, and carried away into the land of forgetfulness,” the sons of the strangers are to build their walls, and the nation and kingdom that will not serve them are to perish,” &c. They will exercise dominion, but not in grace; power is mentioned in the seat of righteousness at Jerusalem. This made the apostle cry out,” Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his ways, and his judgments past finding out."
He saw Jerusalem to be the place, properly speaking, of righteousness, and yet if God had received the Jew, on his own proper ground of righteousness without Christ, brought out the fullness of their iniquity, and concluded all in unbelief, it was thus that God might have mercy upon all. That just “as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also not now believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy,” has been brought forward to prove that through the mercy of the church the Jews are to come in; but it should be rendered, “even so have these also now not believed in your mercy, that they also may be the subjects of mercy.” They would not believe in the Gentiles' mercy, and are themselves therefore made the objects of mercy. Even the Jew, who stood on the principle of righteousness, comes in on the ground of mercy. We see how different the character of the bride, the Lamb's wife, is from that spoken of in Isa. 60 In the first place, of the former it is said, the nations [of them which are saved] shall walk in the light of it, &c.; not only light goes out from it, but life and grace are its characteristics. The fullness of the love and grace of Christ is expressed in His receiving the church, and it becomes his helpmeet in expressing His grace in that day.
As regards the heavenly Jerusalem, it is not righteousness maintained in power, but grace, that will be its characteristic. There is nothing more instructive than taking that which is to be the character of the heavenly Jerusalem, and comparing it with that of the church now. We ought to be now anticipating that which we shall be actually in the day when the Lord gives us glory. Nothing that defiles was to enter into that heavenly city: the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations, &c.—that should be the character of the church now; purity, love, and grace towards the world. Our place is just that of drawing down now the character of grace that will be displayed in the glory. We do not see in the heavenly Jerusalem the security of righteousness exhibiting itself in power against others, but in grace. Paradise knew nothing of grace; innocent men might live in it; but there was no tree of life there for those who had failed. We read that “the streets of the city were pure gold."
This is that which the mercy seat and girdle were made of. Purity is the very walking place of the saints there: instead of its defiling us, as the world does now, and making our feet need the washing of our High Priest, the very place on which they walk will be purity and righteousness. “Transparent glass” denotes true holiness. The character of the divine purity is aimed at in the laver, ministering death and resurrection. The very place of our conversation, that on which we stand and walk, will be righteousness and true holiness. In us the world will see that glory which we shall see immediately. “Every several gate was of one pearl.” They will discern in us then the beauty and comeliness which Jesus will have put on us.
We read of the church under the character of a goodly pearl, which the merchantman finding, sold all that he had for it. Its comely beauty is thus exhibited, and its desirableness to the merchantman, which made him willing to sell all that he had for it; and Christ, for that loveliness which God clothed the church with, did the same. The doorway of the city has the character of grace in the flowing forth of the river of the water of life. Here are no plagues and curses. It is most profitable to bring the light of the glory of the coming dispensation to the circumstances in which they are, so that the character of that light may be expressed in those circumstances. In the case of the Jews who walked in the light of the coming dispensation, those who had faith and hope in that which was not present, and who thus obtained a good report through faith, brought in the energy of the divine thoughts into their circumstances, though walking obediently to the dispensation they were in.
A passage in Psa. 145, speaking of the blessing of that day, I would refer to, where we have brought before us the blessing of the saints on earth: Messiah taking His place in the kingdom; conversation between Messiah and the Jewish saints in that day, stating what their happiness will be, &c. The deliverance of Israel, and God's dealings with them, will make them competent to declare His acts to the people which shall be born. Messiah and His saints speak these things together, and they tell the nations what their God is (vers. 11, 12); and then we have the character of the kingdom. Their business will be that of learning the character of God, and to make it known to the Gentiles; and this should be the business of the saints now. The world cannot know God, but we are called to be the “epistle of Christ, known and read of all men.” The church has to be Christ's letter of recommendation to the world. The church, being made a partaker of grace, can rise above all law demands. Innocence could not do this. There was no healing tree in the garden of Eden, but, the church being made partakers of grace now, the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
The greatest part of the blessing of the church is that it is united with the Lord Himself. It is not merely that it is glorified and loved, but the Father loves us as He loves Jesus; the best proof of this love is that He has given Jesus for us. That love which is brought out through the glory associates the church with the Son—He comes in the glory; and the glory which it will have is consequent on love. The source of the glory which will be displayed is more blessed even than the manifestation of it. It is blessed to be manifested in favor; and why? Because the favor of the person is precious to me. In John 17:23 the Lord prays that the world may know that “thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” While the Lord has obtained all for us, yet, when He comes to give His bride her glory, He does not say that it is a proof that He has loved her; but, in the blessed self hiding of love, He says that it is the Father's love: “and thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” This is exceedingly blessed and beautiful: the Lord gives witness before the world, not that He loves her, for that was shown in the necessity of her sinfulness; there is nothing more precious than that between the church and Himself; but to the world He exhibits the church as loved by the Father, which gives it honor, not in connection with sin and shame. We see the same principle brought out in the history of the prodigal son, however touching that love may be between the ruined sinner and the Father, which causes Him to fall on his neck and kiss him; yet before the servants He takes him home in honor, with the best robe on, and the ring on his hand, &c.
We have to understand the depth of the love of Christ in meeting the sinner. This brings out the costliness of His love; but there is something besides this. When He loved the church before the world, it is as the Father's giving her glory, and taking delight in her. The love of our Jesus is perfectly blessed, and touching, and considerate towards us; there the heart's affections learn to delight in Him. I would now merely refer to one passage, Eph. 5:27: “that he might present unto himself a glorious church,” &c. As God took Eve, and presented her to Adam, so the second Adam will present the church unto Himself. There will be all the divine delight in doing it. The church is called the Lamb's wife, because He suffered for her. It is impossible without suffering to bring out the fullness and savor of love.
The heavenly Jerusalem is shown [in Rev. 21] to be really a divine thing, “descending out of heaven, having the glory of God.” When we think about sin, without reference to the glory of God, we come short of a right estimate of it. The moment we have tasted of the “glory of God,” compared with this everything is sin. The blessing of the church must not come short of this glory: The Father has loved the church, and given it to the Son. It is taken out of Christ (as shown in Psa. 139:15, 16), and as the bride it has the “glory of God.” Man having got the knowledge of good and evil, he must either be miserable in using his knowledge against God, or he must rise above the evil as God is above it; and it is this which is the place of the church in union with Christ, and grace is wrought into glory. We see that “the glory of God did lighten it,” and that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it, not the Father. While God unfolds Himself in His various characters, in His wisdom, in different dispensations, the very place of the worship of the church is that which is the whole display of God's wisdom and power; “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” In Eph. 3:21 we read, “unto him be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end.” This seems to set the church as the crown of all dispensations, setup as over, and the link of God with, all dispensations. Great glory will then be His: “to him be glory in the church,” &c, according to the power which worketh in us.
With that of Father there are three great characters of dispensations: first, that of Almighty; then of Jehovah; then that of Father. The apostle, in 2 Cor. 6, speaking of the place of the church as being separate from the world, says, “wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” This was the first character in which God manifested Himself in dispensation, but at this time God Almighty did not say, I am your Father. The very principle and essence of this dispensation is that God is revealed in the character of Father. Jehovah and Almighty are not the proper relations of God to us. When the glory comes, there will be the full perfection of everything: “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.” The Lord God Almighty as concerns the glory, and the Lamb as having brought us into security through His sufferings, are united. For eternity, in chapter 21:1-8, it is simply, “the glory of God did lighten it,” &c. We have nothing about the Lamb after the millennium: the bride, the Lamb's wife, will be His helpmeet, as the minister of grace.
I would now turn to the question of Messiah's kingdom. There is a difference between the state of things in which there is a King reigning in righteousness, and “the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” If it dwells there, there is no need for rule. When there is a liability to evil, we want power to secure good.
During the millennium there will be the King reigning in righteousness—not merely dominion in righteousness, but securing righteousness by power. I distinguish between the states of “dwelling” and “reigning."
The time when God will be all in all will be analogous to that of paradise in its character; the millennial time, to that of Noah's power, though there will be a great deal of the Adamic power brought in. Noah, if he had been faithful to the power given him, would have had a great deal of the Adam blessing; but he failed entirely, and then failed family discipline. The character of millennial blessing on earth will be the security of righteousness by power; but when “God shall be all in all,” the new Adamic character of Christ will be displayed over a new creation, and all evil will be done away: “the tabernacle of God shall be with men, and he will dwell with them; and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be their God.” Therefore on the incarnation the heavenly host sounded, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” But when the Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the word was, “Peace in heaven.” If Christ takes His place on earth and in heaven, there must be peace between God and the people on the earth.
Then, as to the Scriptural phrase “forever,” there are one or two points on which I would speak. I do not acquiesce in the alteration of that passage in Heb. 10— “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” I believe it is right as we have it in some Bibles—the comma after “for sins,” not after “forever.” It does not refer to the length of the time that He sits there, but to the fact that Jesus is not as those high priests who stand daily offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin, but that He has sat down, as the continuous evidence of the perfection of His sacrifice, that the believer might have always a purged conscience. This is the force of the passage, and not that He is perpetually in heaven.
I see distinctly, in regard to the saints as to Christ, that they shall reign forever and ever. It is not said with Him forever, but more generally as regards His reigning forever. I see distinctly in Dan. 2:44 the same thing presented as in the passages which have been quoted, merely the merging of the human character into the divine perpetuity of the kingdom, not looking at the King in relation to the specialty of the kingdom as to the necessity of its continuance, but showing the blessing of supremacy that belongs to Him as Lord. In regard to the quotation in Ezekiel, it must be taken in a modified sense, for this reason—it is about Israel a question of generations in the land; “your children's children shall dwell in it forever"; yet the very elements—not the earth only, but the elements—are all to melt, but the kingdom of the Lord God of Israel shall not be destroyed. They are but witnesses for an appointed time that Jehovah reigns.
I would now turn to 1 Cor. 15. It does not refer to Messiah's kingdom down here. The kingdom that is to be given up refers to that spoken of in Psa. 8 Here is the question of all things being put under man's hand; when judgment comes, the Father (we read) judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: then the Son has a sort of independent kingdom. In the person of the Lord Jesus God has set man over the works of His hands. Is this title in Christ now? Yes, and the church owns the title, and the world does not; but if He were to take the power, He must exercise it in righteousness. In the sense spoken of we own Christ as reigning, but not as sitting on His own throne. Psa. 109 describes the rejection of the Lord, and His deep humiliation. In Psa. 110:1 Jehovah says to the Son,” Sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” He shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. His kingdom comes at His appearing. This is a question between man and God, not the question as to Messiah's kingdom. Does He deliver up the rule as man when He appears? Clearly not; but He must reign until His enemies be under His feet, till He has put down all rule and all authority and power. His enemies are not yet put under Him, though the Father has put all things under His feet in title now. But you must recollect that Satan is to be let loose at the end of the millennium, and fire comes down from heaven, and devours those whom he deceives. If death, as has been said, will be used to destroy the enemies, still this proves that there must be enemies to be destroyed, and we must look to something afterward to render death void; as to the saints, we know that it is rendered void. The apostle, in this chapter, drops anything but the resurrection of the church. When all things shall be subdued, then the Son, as man, the second Adam, shall be put in subjection at the end. It will not be then man governing the world, but man will be done with, and God (the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) will be all in all. God shall wipe away all tears. Nothing about the Lamb; the mediatorial character will be then removed.
I separate entirely Messiah's kingdom from the bride, though both are most blessedly connected. His glory will shine upon the earth, and the nations will see the glory in us; we shall see it in the Lamb, seeing Him as He is, we shall be made like Him. We shall have nothing to do with the destruction of Antichrist; Christ will not be revealed as Prince of princes, but as the Lord from heaven. In the description of Antichrist, in Isa. 14, we have first his human love of power: then thou hast said,” I will ascend into heaven,” &c. He takes every character of Christ, and asserts that he has it. The Son of man, who is in heaven and from heaven, comes down in power, and puts down this man, and people must then believe that Christ is King; Messiah's kingdom will not, in its full sense, be established then. The character of the rule of Antichrist is that the pride and power of His kingdom proceeds from self, and God will show man's will to be a horrible lie against His power, and prove the truth of that word, “by me kings rule;” but Antichrist cannot be touched till his iniquity is full, and he says, I will go up to heaven, I will be like the Most High; and therefore, because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil.
I believe there will be a testimony of remission of sins preached in the name of Jesus, the instrument of the Holy Ghost, to effect a penitence, an Elias ministry, that will draw out the hearts of the remnant after Him, something similar to that described, in the Song of Solomon; then, when they have looked on Him whom they have pierced, they will mourn because of Him. Whilst Antichrist rages they are preserved. Israel is brought up through the wilderness, and they appoint themselves one head, and great shall be the day of Jezreel. In this David-reign of Christ He has also to subdue the enemies that are in the land; and after the Assyrian comes up and is destroyed, the indignation is over and will cease. Thus Christ is associated, with Israel and begins to secure the earth; here goes out the gospel of the kingdom to the nations; after this the Son of man sits upon the throne of His glory, and judges the nations according to the manner in which they have treated His messengers. Messiah having thus established His kingdom, there is peace, and then the heathen know that Jehovah He is God.
I would here remark that all the nations mentioned in Gen. 10 are comprehended under the two powers, Gog and Antichrist; and it is remarkable that the nations are now arranging themselves just according to the order which scripture describes, though I would not speak as the oracle of God as to their identification with present circumstances. The Lord may hold back His hand, but I believe it hastens greatly. In Isa. 18 is described the land shadowing with wings, spreading its protection over other nations, and the whole chapter is a distinct account of what will happen to Israel at the time of its restoration. Many details are given elsewhere.
There is a little confusion sometimes as regards the instruments of power; the promise to the saints is that they shall reign with Christ as kings; but when Christ takes the earth, it will be as Prince of Judah. It is also written,” Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?” We find the blessings of the world secured by righteousness and true holiness—heavenly rule. The saints may accompany Christ in glory when He comes to judgment, but His robe will be red, theirs white. Though the saints are with Him, they are not the executors of vengeance, but of grace that sustains all righteousness.
As to the third part of the question, let me say that these words, “differ essentially,” must refer to the standing of the saints, for, as to the ground on which any man is a saint, there cannot be any difference. The development of the character of God does alter in different dispensations, but we know His character can never alter. For instance, sanctity: God is known in this His character; whether it be among the Jews, or in the church; and two cannot walk together except they are agreed. Fellowship may not have the same external form, but it must have been the same principle. The Lord Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” and the Spirit of Christ is the same. This is always the ground on which there is dealing on the conscience. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” The principle is essentially the same, before the flood, after the flood, and at any time. Holding fast these things is very important: certain things that we have learned from God become necessary principles in all dispensations; but as to the character and form in which they are developed, they are different, save that this great principle is the same. Sin having come in, there must be grace, and there must be righteousness.
As to the difference of the saints' standing, therefore, on the earth daring the millennium, it will be quite different from that of the saints now on earth, for this great reason—the millennial dispensation, as regards the saints on earth, will be a dispensation of judgment. In one sense it is grace to the Jew, and grace in paradise. There can be no dealing with the sinner except in grace; but the Jewish economy is not one of grace, but of the law. The law is of works, but grace is not. There never can be departure from the principle on which the soul can stand with God, but the economy of a dispensation is a different thing. The economy of the church is judgment within itself. The church consists of persons separated by internal sanctity from the rest of the world; into the outward forms of this a person may enter, but the church is essentially an assembly of separated persons. The moment it is not, it ceases to be a church. It consists of those whom God has called out of the world. In the millennium it will not be so, inasmuch as the Lord Jesus will manifestly govern the world on certain principles; until Satan is loosed again, there is no necessary manifestation of who is not of the world, and who is, but the character of the church is quite different.
When persons speak of an invisible church, it is merely the assertion of apostasy, for the Lord says of the church, “Ye are the light of the world.” Now what is the good of an invisible light? “No man when he hath lighted a candle,” &c. (Luke 11:33.) I do not say that there are not invisible saints as individuals; but the term, invisible church, conveys no other idea to my mind than that of apostasy, and that the church has ceased to be what the Lord set it to be—the light of the world. The church is to be a distinct, manifested, gathered body, while the world is under the dominion of Satan, and in this dispensation is the special manifestation of the church. The Lord gave Himself to gather together in one the children of God scattered abroad on the face of the earth. This oneness can only be maintained through the power and energy of the Holy Ghost. Wherever the Holy Ghost has been grieved, the church has ceased to fulfill in the world what it was sent for; though God's purposes cannot be altered. The church is not one, and the world does not believe that the Father has sent Jesus. The church is called on to believe the glory that has been given them, that by their being one the world may know that the Father has loved them as He loved Jesus. This will be known in the millennium. Then it will not be the Holy Ghost working secretly, as He does now, but the manifestation in the world of God's righteousness.
The proper duty of the saints now is by secret association with Christ to withstand evil, that they may be fashioned in suffering and grace with Christ. There all the fine traits of fellowship with Christ are brought out, “the trial of your faith,” &c. The vessel of earth being put into the furnace, when it comes out it shines forth with all that was in its Master's mind. In the millennium we shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of the Father under the government of the Son of man. A new nature is always, necessary to fellowship with God. The man who is taught of God knows that his old nature is bad, knows by experience “that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” The knowledge of this principle I believe the Jewish believer had, and he had a new nature above the dispensation. If he could say, I delight in the law of God after the inner man, then he had a new nature and the Spirit of Christ, as the apostle says, though he might not get beyond the standing of the dispensation; but in the millennium it will not be merely that man born again will be a new creature, but the creation itself will be also new; Satan will not then be corrupting it by our lusts. Now the whole creation is subject to vanity, then it will not be so: still, man will exist in nature, but the whole creation will not be actually subject to vanity. We are subject to vanity as to the fact of man's will in it, and the consequent dominion of Satan over it. When permitted, he could bring down the wind on Job's house. When the Lord comes as the second Adam, the saint shall be clear out of all present subjection to vanity—it will be gone, because Satan will be bound.
Through our fallen nature and lusts the creation is wholly under Satan's power—not that he can do a tittle more than he is permitted. The more blessed man is, and the more blessings he has by-and-by, the more will he enjoy God. It is not so now. I believe they will then have an enjoyment of natural happiness of which we can scarcely have any idea. God having stamped vanity on everything that is under the sun, whatever is sought as an object takes us away now from God. Happiness in the things of nature must therefore now be restrained, as the liberty of the manslayer was in the city of refuge, though we have liberty through other hopes. There will be a vast difference between the position of the saints on earth and ours in this respect. The affections of their hearts can fully flow forth on everything around them. The happiness of the saints on earth wilt be in ministering fullness of joy and blessing through Christ to others: their joy will not be merely in being blessed as recipients, but in having the mind and joy of the blesser. Being the administrators of government, they shall be the ministers of blessing. Then will be fulfilled that promise, “They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."
It will not be then, as now, “one sowing, and another reaping.” They will not only not have to stir up their hearts to watchfulness against the flesh, having no temptations to resist, but, Christ then ruling over the world, men may lawfully enjoy everything that is in the world. When temptation comes, then those who have not faith will fail. No hypocrite could enjoy natural things unto God, but, the temptation not being there to draw out his evil, it remains unknown to him. “The man who anon with joy received the word” was not a hypocrite, but, when trial came because of the word having no root in himself, he is offended.
As to the fitting posture of the saints. This is a very solemn question; it takes the heart out of the things of knowledge to that which acts on the conscience. The Lord constantly speaks according to His claim of revelation, and not according to our knowledge of it. The Lord said to His disciples, “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?” The thing had been revealed, but he answers on unbelief. The measure of our apprehension of it must be according to our faith. The fitting posture of the saint is to have his mind completely in heaven, knowing that he is redeemed and made a priest to God, and that he shall reign over the earth. The things of the flesh cannot enter here; but it is quite another thing how far the body may hinder us. This throws us, day by day, on the Lord for strength in our inner man. While we can say, we are raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in fact we are in an unredeemed body, waiting for the Lord from heaven. This is all I want. And what sets me to work now? The knowledge “that when he shall appear, I shall be like him, seeing him as he is.” As the apostle says, his hope was not to be unclothed, but clothed upon; having the resurrection life in his soul, he reached over everything that may come in between the present time and the coming of the Lord Jesus, when he should be clothed upon.
The apostle was morally right; he was not looking for death; he could say,” not that he would be unclothed;” if he died, he would be happy, being always ready; but a special revelation was needed to tell Paul and Peter that they were to die. When the disciples were in sorrow because they had lost Jesus, they were told for their comfort that Jesus should so come in like manner as they had seen Him go into heaven, and the Lord tells His disciples that “they should be glad, because he was going to the Father, and would come again and receive them unto himself.” If the kingdom and glory are mine, what difference is it whether I have to put off this tabernacle, or not? It will be only waiting here or there. The crown of righteousness is laid up by the Lord, the righteous Judge, for all them that love His appearing. Eight habits of thinking are formed by looking at the glory. A person's whole habit of thinking is often a lie of Satan. All knowledge that gives another set of thoughts, and a link of mental association with Jesus in glory, is very valuable. All these great facts, which upset all things here', say, “I am not a debtor to you, body.” All the Lord's judgments are promises to the new man. If judgment did not come, evil would be perpetual. It is deliverance to the saint. The promise of the Lord may shake something on which your heart is set; if this is broken by the hand of the Lord in chastening even, there will be blessing and benefit, but it is more blessed to be separated in obedience by the word of the Lord.
The posture of the Thessalonian church was that of suffering, and looking for rest from that suffering; this is the proper posture of the saints, Not wanting to be terrified by the prospect of suffering, but needing the prospect of something to relieve them, from the Suffering they are in. (2 Thess. 1:6, 7.) This they have in the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Let us then exhort one another, and so much the more as we see the day approaching. When you see these things, do not be disturbed, look up, do not look down, for your redemption draweth nigh. I do not deny that dark circumstances are coming, but may this cause us only to look up like Stephen, and see the glory that is also coming! This would separate us from all that is contrary to the purity, holiness, and love of the Lord Jesus. We want much this separateness. We should look at ourselves in thorough and deep humiliation, seeing how divided and scattered and weak the church of God is. (Isa. 22:9-14.) We go and philosophize about principles, but the Lord tells us that we are but making a ditch. There is a great deal of planning and wisdom and order—a great many sacrifices—to make up the ditch,” but there is not a looking unto the maker thereof, nor having respect unto Him that fashioned it long ago.” That is what we want. As regards our moral condition, and as regards results, we have to be looking for the Son from heaven. May the Lord keep us firm, looking unto Him that fashioned the church long ago.

Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 9

The first parable does apply closely to the church as a professing thing under responsibility to God, add the professing church will indeed meet with the fate of the evil bondsman; but the church—the bride—can never be said to have gone forth to meet the Bridegroom, and probably the second parable accurately applies to faithful ones of Israel (five wise virgins), who shall take the place on earth of the church immediately it is called away; and the professing thing to be destroyed—the five foolish. The words of our Lord suggest this; for after describing the destruction; of the evil bondsman, He says, “Then shall the kingdom of the heavens be made like...."
In the first of the second pair of parables, the Lord takes up again the case of that which occupies the place of responsibility to Him as a bondservant to his lord, but it is no longer to feed those that are within the house, but to traffic with those who are without. Here also the faithful ones in Israel responsible for witness, having their Lord's substance to traffic with, even His name and word, seem to be shown forth; or, perhaps, it is the church in its character as witness on earth, manifested in its first and last developments: first as the bondsman with five talents, where we get it as gathered out principally from the remnant of Israel, with a large measure of gift bestowed and consequent responsibility; and afterward as the bondsman with two talents, where it 18 as brought out wholly from the Gentiles with but little strength or gift, but still faithful in that which it has. The one that had the one talent is the empty shell of profession, which will remain on earth when the kernel of faith is gone, but still held responsible as owning the word and name of its Lord, but which all the way through has but hid the heavenly treasure, turning it to a base use, making it serve an earthly purpose; whose lot, therefore, shall be to be cast out into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth; for at the least the talent of profession should be placed in the hands of those who really deal in the heavenly treasure, and not be placed in the earth, where it can produce no fruit, but only become soiled by the contact.
As this parable shows us judgment and reward of those who on earth deal with heavenly things, so the next brings to view the judgment of those who on earth have had to do with heavenly men. In this case we are taken clean off anything approaching church ground, and even that of profession, whether Christian or Jewish.
Here the King comes forth in the fullness of His power and glory, and all the nations are gathered before Him, and the blessing or cursing, the reward or punishment, shall be simply according to the reception or rejection of those who have represented the King (His brethren), whilst He waited in His longsuffering, sending forth the gospel of the kingdom—the everlasting gospel, ere He set His throne in judgment to judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity; to rebuke the heathen and destroy the wicked; to bring the wickedness of the wicked to an end, but to establish the just; causing all the ends of the world to remember and turn unto Him, and all the kindreds of the nations to worship before Him. But now His throne is set, the kingdom of the world, of our Lord and of His Christ, is come, and, according to the treatment of His brethren, His ambassadors, His little ones, so shall the judgment be.
The end is now at hand, and the Lamb which had been set apart three and a half years before is now to be slain, that the blood of deliverance (the Passover) may be sprinkled. But while the wicked, whom Jehovah will use as His sword (Psa. 17:13, 14), are taking counsel together in the high places of the land against Jehovah and against His anointed, faith, by the lowly hand of a woman in the house of a leper—an outcast—receives Him, owns Him and honors Him Lord of all power and might, King of kings, and Lord of lords, though apparently so poor, despised, and destitute, that His nearest friends counted it an act of foolish waste to anoint that kingly head which, while giving rest to all, had not itself “where to repose, and wheresoever that gospel of the kingdom shall be preached, there shall this woman's act be spoken of for a memorial of her—an example of believing love—the path for faith to walk in; her deed of love and faith standing out in solitary beauty and grandeur amidst that dark and terrible scene—the single bright gleam which shone alone through the thick oppressive gloom of selfishness and pride which pressed in on every side, shall be the note harped upon by every proclaimer of the glad tidings of the coming kingdom; it shall be set forth as a specimen of that faith which shall obtain entrance into and participation in that blessed state. This incident is therefore given in direct reference to the time and circumstances previously described by our Lord to His disciples, and is reserved for direct application until then.
Judas is found an exact contrast, for his expectations of present profit being all disappointed, the very one he hoped had been the King of Israel now speaking about being buried, and what little he might have possessed himself of having been wasted upon his master's head, he determines to make what he can while yet he has the chance, and in order that he may save something out of the coming wreck of every hope which he foresees, he sells his Master for the price of a slave; and as Mary's blessing shall be the portion of all who shall have ministered to the needs of the despised and persecuted proclaimers of the coming of their King, who will reckon it as having been done unto Himself, so shall the curse of Judas come upon all who have neglected and despised the least of the brethren of their Lord.
So conscious are the disciples of their lack of simple trust in their Lord and Master, and of confidence in one another, that while they could one and all unhesitatingly pronounce indignant judgment that it was a waste to spend three hundred fence in an act of private homage to Him, yet they feel that any one of them might be guilty of an act of grossest treachery. Their eyes were fixed upon an earthly portion, though doubtless in connection with their Lord (excepting Judas, who had decided to have this world's treasure, if not by following Him then by selling Him), and if this earthly portion were to fail, then all beyond was darkness and a blank which they could not penetrate. They began to feel like sheep without a shepherd, that they might run into any kind of evil; like ships without a rudder, at the mercy of every wind and current; and Peter's protestation of fidelity proceeding from the same source as the trembling doubt of the others showed that all alike would fail in the hour of need, and that flesh, whether in a Peter or a Judas, was a rotten thing, a broken reed that would pierce the hand that leaned upon it.
The blessed Lord knowing that it is at this point (the cross) that flesh must have an end—the testing place of faith—the terrible gulf, at the brink of which the natural heart lingers tremblingly so long, where every hope and thought and joy of nature must be lost forever, and that He, the only one who had ever yet been called upon to go down into that bottomless abyss, that shoreless fathomless ocean of the wrath of God, was going through it in all its solemn awful terrors, in order that He might bring through scatheless all who should believe on Him; and that the work He had undertaken He would perfectly perform, leaving not a hoof behind, but bringing all in the joy of perfect deliverance to the other side; yet knowing the terrible trial for faith to trust itself in those dark waters, though it pass dry shod, now leaves a memorial for the heart to cling to in the dreadful path, which should buoy it up and give it peace, taking its eyes off all the fearful scene and fixing them upon Himself, unseen yet realized and touched by faith.
So while they eat before the dreaded hour arrived, all (except Him who had undertaken the work) unconscious of the imminence of the time, pregnant with eternal consequences, Jesus takes the bread, blesses, breaks, and gives to His disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Never now will they be able to anoint that head; wise in their own conceits, the opportunity passed away forever. Now if they would honor that body, they must receive it as a piece of bread, not anointing Him as King, nor fighting for Him as Lord, but feeding upon Him as life and strength, nourishment and comfort. No longer a body to be seen and touched and handled, but an unseen presence having a seen memorial, through which it might be seen and touched and handled by the soul.
Then, having taken the cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying,” Drink ye all of it. For this is my blood, that of the new covenant, that shed for many, for the remission of sins.” This was to assure their souls the sea was dry, the fire was quenched, the sword had drunk its fill, and the overflowings of that blood were for their stay and joy in the way. The cup once filled with wrath had been emptied and its dregs wrung out, and instead, the blood, which told of pardon, peace with God, and separation from a world of sin and woe, now filled it to its brim. Real and absolutely true for the soul and faith as the Lord has made the cup of His blood which we drink, yet He goes on distinctly to declare that the fruit of the vine is not His blood; for He says He will in no wise drink of that until He drinks it new with us in the kingdom of His Father.
The Lord having thus given some tangible thing for faith to cling to in its passage through the dark and terrible gulf of judgment against sin—full and overflowing indeed for Him, but therefore dry for all who followed Him—He now permits three of His disciples, who were to have a separate testimony, distinct in its character for each to deliver, to behold the deep grief and sorrow of soul even unto death, which He suffered on account of righteousness through the blind and hardened rejection of Himself and His claims by those among whom He had cast His lot; whose blessing it had been to have received Him, but upon whom utter judgment and the irrevocable curse should come by occasion of their unbelief. The complete blasting of every hope which He might have entertained as the true Messiah, the apparent frustration of the will of God and breaking of every promise, the shameful dishonor about to come upon the place, the city, and the people, upon which the name of God was called, a byword, a hissing, and a reproach throughout the nations, brought upon them by their own hand; and not alone the cutting off of Himself, God's anointed One, but also the smiting of Him as the Shepherd of the little flock, the few sheep in the wilderness, and their scattering.
Thus the piercing of the only Son—the Son of David, the wounding in the house of His friends, the smiting of the Shepherd with the awful consequences to people, friends, and flock, and shame upon the great name of Him who owned them, beat with such vehement force upon His soul, that the lifeblood, distilling as drops of sweat upon His brow, fell thence to the earth. “Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians say, For mischief did he bring them out to slay them in the mountains? Turn from thy fierce wrath and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.” And He in drinking this one cup of death was about to taste all the bitterness and suck out its dregs of the reproach and shame and curse decreed upon alt alike, king and people, place and name, root and branch, head and foot: for in Him all of promise, blessing, glory, peace, power, goodness, was treasured, and to cut Him off was to cut off all and leave not a hope behind, but with Himself to plunge all into a black and bottomless abyss, from whence there was no return.
Yet in obedience to a Father all wise, all gracious, omnipotent, He drinks the dreadful draft, and gives His bondman James to behold His cheerful submission, that he may exhort the twelve tribes by that example to count it all joy when they fall into divers temptations, trusting in the Father of lights, from whom cometh every good and every perfect gift, with whom is no variation or shadow of a turning, that therefore they may have patience and await the precious fruit of the earth, having patience for it until it receive the early and the latter rain, stablishing their hearts since the coming of the Lord is drawn nigh.
To Peter likewise, the apostle of Jesus Christ to the sojourners of the dispersion, that he might uplift Christ as our model that we should follow in His steps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who, when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering, threatened not, but gave Himself over into the hands of Him who judges righteously, exhorting us to arm ourselves with the same mind, for if we have likewise suffered in the flesh we shall have done with sin.
To John also, that he might show us that fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ involves absolute separation from all that is of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, since if any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him; that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, and walking in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin; and he that loves his brother is one that abides in the light, and we thus know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren; whereas the world hates us, because its works are wicked and ours righteous.
The Son of man, the one to be the anointed firstborn, is now delivered up into the hands of sinners. The Rabbi, Teacher, Prophet, delivered up by the false friend, is now wounded in the house of His friends. The Shepherd of Israel, who had, daily teaching in the temple, made the flock to lie down in green pastures and had led them beside the still waters, restoring their soul and leading them in the paths of righteousness; the shepherd, who was the fellow of Jehovah of Hosts, and could have commanded more than twelve legions of angels, is now smitten with the sword and the sheep are scattered; His dearest friends who could sleep while He watched for that dread hour in agony of soul and supplication, but who waking, when bid to sleep, wound Him more with ill-timed fleshly energy, now all forsake Him, who had with such loving powerful hand guided them through all their journey in the paths of pleasantness and peace. But Peter, in the power of fleshly love, through which he had before proved himself an adversary and now an enemy to his Master's work though not to His person, follows Him afar off, to see the end; and the high priest, and the elders, and the whole council, sought false witness against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death, saying, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours;” but they found none until two come forward and say, “He said, I am able to destroy the temple of God and in three days build it.” But it was indeed false witness, for He had said that if they destroyed the temple of His body, truly the temple of God, in three days He would (not build it, but) raise it up. This was the sign He had Himself given them, as proving His authority to cleanse His Father's house, to demand the fruit of His Father's vineyard, even worshippers, who should worship Him in spirit and in truth; but the husbandmen had refused to render thus the fruits, and had corrupted the temple of God still more, so that, from a house of merchandise, it had become a den of thieves—nay, more, of murderers, for not only had they openly refused to render the fruits to their Lord's just claims, but now had they compassed the death of His beloved Son, the heir of the vineyard.
And now there stand together the spiritual man, and the man of flesh—the man after God's own heart, and the people's choice. God's High Priest, and the false usurper, who, wielding fleshly power and authority, seeks to compel the spiritual man to acknowledge his right to judge, but to no purpose, until, finding his claims met by a superior authority at every point, he dares to challenge a decision between them before the throne of Him whom both acknowledged as the source of all their claims. He demands the sentence upon one single issue, abandoning all secondary counts, requiring judgment upon the one point which was really the only one at issue between them—which of them was the true Anointed One of God. “I adjure thee,” he says, “by the living God that thou tell us if thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” Then comes the sentence forth, and from the mouth of Him whose right the usurper had denied, for in the person of that meek and lowly One the living God was present in their midst, though not indeed to judge, unless His judgment were demanded, but to save, and that by suffering: therefore is He silent, when to speak would be to judge: but when the righteousness and holiness of His throne is called in question, and He Himself called upon to decide whether He will have fellowship with truth or falsehood, then speak He must, and speaking declare His judgment. “Thou hast said,” Jesus says. “Moreover I say to you, from henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Much as they had hated Him when, silent as a sheep dumb before his shearers, now that His full title and glory and power and majesty are revealed, proved by righteousness, holiness, and truth—blameless before God and man, so that not even false witness can be brought to convict Him—then outburst all the malignities of man's heart, and hatred against God; and since in His love to them as the creatures of His hand, He had come to save them from the unutterable curse, to be to the praise of the glory of God, in eternal life and joy; and in obedience to His Father's will, having emptied and humbled Himself, and being by the will of God delivered up into the hands of sinners, they wreak upon Him all the spite that the paltry mind of man, urged on by the malevolence of the devil, can suggest. They spit in His face, and buffet Him, some strike Him with the palms of their hands, saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ, who is it that struck thee?” So do they pierce and lacerate the soul of Him who should have been to them precious as a firstborn, an only son.
Terribly bitter as this cup was to Him who had wept over the hand that struck Him, knowing the requital of vengeance that would follow, saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stones those that are sent unto her, how often would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Yet a much deeper wound, going right to the quick, was given by one who counted himself His dearest friend; thrice did the sharp sword of denial pierce His soul. Those three years of constant loving care forgotten: the tender sympathy and love, the watching night and day with prayer, the patient endurance of folly, pride, self-will, hardness of heart, and unbelief—the unwearied teaching, the words of wisdom given as able to be borne, here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept; the mighty acts of power, words of truth, and ceaseless outflowings of perfect self-sacrificing love, all forgotten in a moment, at the question of a maid, increasing in shamelessness and sin, from a public denial before all of any connection with his Lord, to a denial of the person of his Lord, attesting that denial with an oath, and going on to a further denial of his Lord, beginning to curse and to swear, being ready to deny his own identity.
But the night of agony and shame for Shepherd and sheep, Master and disciple, the Lord and His friends, is at its close, and at the first note which heralded the day dawn, Peter comes to himself, remembers the word of Jesus: his faith fails not—the prayer of his dear Lord receiving a triumphant answer, so that, going out outside, he weeps bitterly. The morning has arrived, and the natural heart of sinful man, arrived at its perfect development, takes counsel to destroy the only perfect thing the world had ever seen: but it must be done so as to appear a praiseworthy and just action—nay, more, as being themselves quite free from motive, except a regard for what was due to God and man—a righteous deed, to put a blasphemer to death but so merciful are they, so sensitive, they shrink from doing it themselves; but God will not permit them to throw the flimsiest veil of decency over their deed, to screen in anywise its abhorrent vileness from their eyes, for scarcely had they delivered Jesus up to the heathen governor, thus proving traitors to their God and King, than Judas, the representative man of the fleshly people, returns to them the wages of his iniquity, declaring he had delivered up guiltless blood:—now they must go on to an act of premeditated, willful, murder, and not, as hitherto, of ignorant and unbelieving hate.
Peter denied his Lord, delivering Him up, in a certain way, to secure his own safety. Judas delivered Him up in order to make a profit out of Him, not wishing to kill Him; but the heads of the people deliver Him up of malice aforethought, that He might be put to death. Compare Peter with Reuben—the remnant of faith—the poor of the flock—the little ones (Gen. 37:21); Judas with Judah—the nation—the royal seed—the people of God, house of David (Gen. 37:26); the high priests and elders of the people, with the eight other brothers (Gen. 37:18-20).
Jesus denies Himself, delivers Himself up, surrenders altogether His claims to the throne and kingdom as a natural man, that He may take them up again in resurrection; and this is the force of the prophecy of Jeremiah mentioned, of which the quotation in Zechariah is the complement. In Jeremiah it is the Lord as Son of David, Son of a virgin, the Jewish Messiah (Hanameel, the one whom God has graciously given) selling all right and claim to His inheritance—to all that He inherited in that capacity, and buying it back for Himself, as represented in Jeremiah (may the Lord establish Him), at the cost of seven shekels, a perfect price, and ten pieces of silver—the seven shekels representing the price of His own life, and the ten pieces the believing remnant of Israel, whose hopes He completely destroyed by humbling Himself unto death—laying down His life. Thus, as the Shepherd that should feed His people Israel, He lays down His life for the sheep, and the sheep are scattered. But in order that He may take it again in a new power and character, and bring the scattered ones and those who were not of that fold, no longer to a fold, but into a flock, making one flock, and one Shepherd. Thus, as Judah bartered away her Ruler for a potter's field, a place to bury strangers in, so the Lord should count them but as strangers, and defiled, breaking them as a potter's vessel, and burying them in Tophet, till there should be no place to bury; casting down the price of blood in the house of Jehovah, that it might be called a field of blood unto this day.
The religious system claiming acknowledgment from God having thus been shown to be disowned by Him, accounted by Him a blood field, not His “house of peace” —a valley of lamentation, not a mount of praise; they, on their part, having wrested the judgment of the poor man, and compassed the slaying of the innocent and righteous one; the fleshly man—Cain—violently enforcing his claim to be God's priest by smiting the spiritual man—Abel; the spiritual Man, as God's King, His Anointed One, is brought face to face with him, who, as in the place of God, wielded governmental power over the peoples of the earth, who immediately challenges His title— “Art thou the king of the Jews?” and at once receives reply, “Thou sayest.” He is there before His murderers and persecutors, not to answer their malicious and false accusations, but to assert and prove His claims, by being just in the presence of injustice, and making falsehood manifest by truth. But though the professed witness for God upon earth had proved its utter ruin by rejecting, and aiming to destroy His pure and holy One, there was one step more in evil which they could take—having refused the good, there was only left to choose the evil in its place: this they now proceed to do. To rid themselves of God's good Man was their aim, and they cared not at what cost or loss to themselves. Give us Barabbas, and let Christ be crucified, say they; and as His weight of worth and innocence more and more inclines the scale of justice to His side, the greater their hate and madness grows, and the more recklessly, like fevered gamblers, do they cast their dearest treasures into the balances to make the issue meet their will—power, honor, title, at last life itself “His blood be on us and on our children” is cast, that their end may be gained, and now they take ground on which law and justice can meet them.
Life for life—eye for eye—tooth for tooth. If His life were innocent, then they agree to pay according to law its worth and value. Though they had refused to relieve Judas of the responsibility of betraying the innocent, yet now they eagerly accept the consequences of spilling guiltless blood; and Pilate, who had made the condemnation equivalent to a verdict of innocent, delivers Jesus into their hands to be crucified. In mockery the soldiers bow the knee to the lowly Nazarene—soon will come to pass a repetition of that scene in terrible reality: no longer a scarlet cloak, but clothed with a garment dipped in blood; not a crown woven out of thorns, but many diadems upon His head, not now mutely bearing taunts and scoffs, but smiting with a sharp two-edged sword going out of His mouth; an iron rod for scepter, not a reed wherewith to beat Him on His head: no more the gentle One, reviling not again, who had walked so carefully through the world that not a bruised reed was broken nor the smoking flax quenched, but treading now the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty; not in solemn mockery hailed king of the Jews, but every knee now bending, and every tongue confessing Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords—His name in manifestation and the place of power, written upon His garment and upon His thigh—once His accusation, written over His head upon the cross, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews,” while the passersby reviled, the chief priests mocked, the scribes and elders also, and the robbers even who had been crucified with Him casting the same reproaches on Him. Though man the Monarch of creation mocks, inanimate nature mourns, and for three hours darkness covers the whole land, as though veiling from view that awful agony by which the great sin debt was paid, and creation bought back into liberty and blessing. The tide of woes rose, wave after wave, upon His soul, and the sorrows of death compassed Him, the floods of ungodly men rolled in upon Him, the cords of the grave compassed Him about, and the snares of death overtook Him—mutely, meekly, did that brave, strong, gentle bosom bear the fearful load, till from His heart was bruised the bitter cry, fragrant to God because the cry of faith, My God, my God, why hast thou abandoned me?
Turning back to 1 Sam. 17, after Saul had called down the judgment of God which had fallen upon guiltless Jonathan, as substitute for the guilty nation, and had himself been rejected of God for disobedience and hypocrisy, the Philistines gather together at Shochoh of Judah, that is, “enclosure of praise,” and pitched between it and Azekah, that is, “field broken up” —in Ephesdammin—that is, “ceasing of blood-shedding” —and Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together at the valley of “Elah,” that is,” strength.” Just so, after Jesus had been smitten for the transgression of God's people—had been made a sacrifice for sins, and the whole Jewish system had been given up for unbelief and falsehood—its sacrifices and worship being rendered null and void by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ [once for all, the powers of evil, permitted by God to sojourn here for a season (Philistines— “sojourners")—gather together to fight against the “enclosure of praise,” that is, “the temple worship,” and pitch between the temple worship (Shochoh) and the devout worshipper (“Azekah"), effectually separating the one from the other—having made the daily sacrifice, and all shedding of blood to cease (“Ephesdammin"), the one sacrifice for sins having been offered. The earthly system of religion (Saul) gathers its forces together in the place of its strength—Elah—its rites and ceremonies.
But out of the camp of the Philistines there goes out a champion, named Goliath of Gath, who cries to the armies of Israel, “Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” And when Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. So one, hitherto concealed, now is manifested as the champion of the world powers (Goliath of Gath, that is, captivity of the winepress): he that, through the righteous judgment of God against sin, had the power of death, that is, the devil: and under that power of his the Lord of life has gone, and, as far as Israel knows, is shut up forever, so that he, to all appearance, is master of the situation. Jesus, the rightful heir (Jonathan) is altogether put to silence, under God's judgment—the new man is not yet revealed, and the adversary can boldly challenge all the powers of the Jewish system to choose a man who could cope with and kill him. They themselves had been the means by which the only one who could have conquered him had been put to silence, and now, seeing the things that took place, they can only return beating their breasts (Luke 23:4.S; 1 Sam. 17:11), or commune together in sadness, or assemble with shut doors for fear, and the enemy can defy the armies of Israel to produce a man able to fight with him.
Is it the Jew, as such, that is challenged? He beholds the only Jew of power nailed to a cross, and beats his breast in impotence, despair, and shame. Is it the remnant of faith? They can but commune in sadness at the thought that the One whom they had hoped was about to redeem Israel had been delivered up to the judgment of death, and crucified. Is it the disciples assembled on the first day of the week? It is within closed doors for fear.

Abraham: Genesis 23

The death of Sarah follows, and God takes special notice of it, not only for Abraham's sake, but, as it would seem, for its typical bearing, since it comes after the sacrifice and resurrection of the son, and before the call of the bride. In this point of view we must remember that, as Hagar represents the legal covenant of Sinai, Sarah is the shadow of the covenant of promise. (Gal. 4) One cannot wonder that her death as a figure is unintelligible to those who regard her as symbolic of our best and characteristic church blessings. But it is not so: scripture is right, theology as usual wrong. Sarah sets forth the covenant of promise presented to the Jew after the cross, (but on his unbelieving refusal) passing away to make room for the call of the church to heavenly glory and union with Christ on high. Of all this the reader may find the key in studying the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. Compare especially chapter 3, which answers to Sarah, with chapter ix., on the total rejection of this in the death of Stephen, when God begins to send the gospel outside Jerusalem, raising up Paul as minister of the church in its full character.
Certain it is that Abraham's wife is the only woman whose years are carefully noted. To her death and the account of the purchase of a buryingplace the whole chapter is devoted. “And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.” (Vers. 1, 2.) Faith does not enfeeble affection; it heightens our sense of the havoc sin has wrought. But we sorrow not as others who have no hope, looking for His coming who is the Resurrection and the life.
Again, we are expressly told in Heb. 11 that these all (Sarah included) died, not in possession, but in faith. Of this the scripture before us is the most striking witness. Till the burial of Sarah Abraham possessed not so much as to set his foot on. He abides the pilgrim and stranger to the last. He has to buy even for a buryingplace. He would have Canaan only under the glory of the Lord, and in the day of resurrection. He is content to wait till then. The time of faith is the time of Christ. While He is hidden, believers are hidden also; when He appears, then shall they also appear along with Him in glory.
There can be no greater mistake than that faith destroys lowliness, or promotes a want of considering others. It really brings God in, and thus is self judged, and love can flow. See the admirable bearing of Abraham with the children of Heth.
"And Abraham stood up from before his, dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchers bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulcher, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you. And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying, Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead. And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.” (Vers. 812.) God had given him the moral respect of his neighbors; but he neither presumes on his favor in their eyes, nor will he take advantage of their feelings. As he rises above the sorrow that pressed on his heart, so he does not accept what cost him nothing for the burial of his dead. If he exceeded the sons of Heth in courtesy, he was nonetheless careful that, the fullest value should be paid in due form, and with adequate witness.
“And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there. And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead. And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.” (Vers. 13-18.) Faith never was meant to encourage a careless spirit, as Abraham's conduct in this business exemplifies, at a moment when any one else would have rather availed himself of another's help. Whatever the circumstances, faith makes the believer superior to them all.
"And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.” (Vers. 19, 20.) God works, doubtless; but the believer himself is exercised before Him and is delivered from his own will, or from the influence of objects such as the enemy uses to divert from God. So it was here. God gave Abraham such a place in the esteem of his neighbors that there was no difficulty whatever; but Abraham bore himself as one who sought not his own things but the will and pleasure of Him who had called him out by and to His promises—promises as yet unfulfilled.
Burial in the land began with Sarah. It was no mere feeling or fancy, sentiment or superstition, but a fruit of faith in Abraham. He looked to have from God's hand the land wherein he laid her body. The gift of Canaan was far surer than any possession of a buryingplace meanwhile. I deny not that he desired a better country, that is, a heavenly, that he looked for the city which hath foundations whose maker and builder is God. But he rejoiced to see the day of Christ and expected in it the wresting of the earth from the hands of the enemy, and knew that all the land of Canaan would be his for an everlasting possession. Hence the importance to the patriarchs, while preserving their pilgrim character, of burial in Canaan. So, when Abraham was gathered to his people, his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the same spot, “in the cave of Machpelah in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre, the field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.” (Gen. 25:9, 10.) There too was Isaac laid by his sons Esau and Jacob. (Gen. 35:27-29.) And so it was with Jacob, though he died in Egypt, for Joseph had him embalmed; “and his sons did unto him according as he commanded them, for his sons carried him into the land of Canaan and buried him in the caves of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a burying-place of Ephron the Hittite before Mamre.” (Gen. 1:12, 18.) Joseph again (chap. 1. 25, 26) “took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” Hence he too was embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt; but when deliverance came, Moses took the bones of Joseph with him (Ex. 13:19), which the children of Israel in due time buried, not in the cave of Machpelah but in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver; and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.” Josh. 24:32.

Notes on John 7:14-31

That the Lord had a deeper purpose in view was soon apparent. He had refused to go with His brethren; He had affirmed that the fit moment for displaying Himself to the world was not come. But God had a present mission for His Son, and He goes to Jerusalem to fulfill it.
"But now in the midst of the feast Jesus went up unto the temple and taught. The Jews therefore wondered, saying, How knoweth this [man] letters, having not learned? Jesus therefore answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If one desire to do his will, he shall know about the doctrine whether it is of God or I speak from myself. He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, he is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” (Vers. 14-18.)
There was no secrecy now: Jesus was teaching in the temple. It was His actual work. Soon He would suffer in atonement. Now it was the time for giving out the truth, to the astonishment of those who lived in the region of law and ordinance, who could only ask how He could know since He had not learned. They knew Him not, they rose not above human sources. Jesus was quick and careful to vindicate His Father. What is learned from man man is proud of. His doctrine He would not allow to be His own in the sense of independence, any more than of derivation from human teaching which they owned to be out of the question. It was not of man but of Him that sent Him. Was this a high claim and easily made? Any one of single eye would soon see its reality. Faith alone gives a single eye. Others speculate and err. God guides and teaches him who desires to practice His will, as Christ gives the positive assurance that he shall know concerning the doctrine whether it is of God or whether He speaks from Himself. How comforting as well as surely verified! The Son was making known the Father; and God is faithful in this as in every other way. He who counts every hair of our heads and apart from whom not a sparrow falls to the ground cares for His children. Every one that is of the truth hears the voice of Christ. Whatever their pretensions, all others are not of the truth: else they would know that His teaching is of God. Where we do not know, we must suspect ourselves, not blame God; if we really desired to do, we should soon learn, God's will. Certainly He did not speak from Himself. Yet of all men He was most entitled. But if He is the true God, He is true man and came to exalt His Father, not Himself. He had no private ends to serve. Lord of all He became the servant of all, above all of God. Self is what blinds the race, even the faithful, so far as it is allowed to act. He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but Jesus never did so—always served to the glory of Him that sent Him. There is, there can be, no solid guarantee of the truth where God's glory is not sought and secured. Christ in this was perfect; and so He here declares that He is true and no unrighteousness is in Him. As self is what hinders the truth, so it is just to neither God nor man. Jesus is both true and righteous.
Further, when men boast, they are sure to be wrong not only in other things but most where they are haughtiest. Did the Jews pique themselves on the law of Moses? How vain to boast of that law which none of them practiced! Yet so it was, as the Lord pressed on their consciences here. They reasoned, but what was their walk? “Hath not Moses given you the law? and none of you doeth the law. Why do ye seek to kill me?” (Ver. 19.) Jesus is ever the touchstone. One might never have learned their murderous malice but for Him who brought God close and convicted them of sin. This they could not bear and so sought to get rid of Him, in their zeal for the law violating it utterly, and in their dark rebelliousness rejecting Him who gave it by Moses. But is it now uncommon to glory in the law and hate the truth?
Yet the people in general were not aware how far hatred was impelling the leaders, and had no suspicion that they were bent on the death of Jesus. “The crowd answered, Thou hast a demon: who seeketh to kill thee? Jesus answered and said to them, One work I did, and ye all wonder because of this. Moses hath given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses but of the fathers), and on a sabbath ye circumcise a man. If a man receiveth circumcision on a sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are ye angry at me because I made a man entirely sound on a sabbath?” (Ver. 20-23.) In their ignorance the crowd spoke with rash irreverence and violence against the Lord, who stops not to notice it but draws attention to the absurdity of their quarreling as well as wondering at one work of His, the cure of the infirm at Bethesda on the sabbath, when it was a common matter of course to circumcise a male child on the eighth day spite of its being a sabbath, and this in honor of the law of Moses, though in fact circumcision was rather of the fathers. The Lord closes His reproof with an exhortation which touches the root of their cavils: “Judge not according to sight, but judge the righteous judgment.” (Ver. 24.) They had brought in God, and were consequently wrong not on the surface merely but altogether. If the readings (as in Tischendorf's text) be κπίνετε.... κρίνατε, the first warns against the evil habit in general, the second urges the righteous judgment they should follow on this occasion. It is clear that one wants divine guidance if we are not to judge according to appearance, but that is what God is so willing to vouchsafe His children, not teaching only but direction and judgment. Knowing all, He knows also how to communicate what is needed by His own.
The Lord's plain speaking surprised, if the multitude, not such as knew the enmity of the rulers. “Some therefore of them of Jerusalem said, Is not this he whom they seek to kill? And, behold, he speaketh openly, and they say nothing to him. Have the rulers indeed decided that this is the Christ? Howbeit we know whence he is; but when the Christ cometh, no one knoweth whence he is. Jesus therefore cried in the temple teaching and saying, Ye both know me and ye know whence I am; and I have not come from myself, but he that sent me is true whom ye know not, I know him, for I am from him, and he hath sent me.” (Ver. 25-29.) The men of Jerusalem, knowing too much of the rulers to accept their decisions absolutely, indulge in irony, but they too prove their ignorance like the rest. They did not know whence Jesus was, whilst they ought to have known where and when the Messiah was to be born.
Jesus in replying contrasts their assumed knowledge of Him and His origin with their positive ignorance of the Father who sent Him. He assuredly knew the Father as He was from Him and sent by Him. And the Father was not only truthful but true, as the Son could attest in all its force, not the Jews who knew not the Father. This drew on Him the very desire to lay hold of Him with which He had charged them. How little man knows himself any more than God, as Jesus shows! “They sought therefore to take him, and none laid hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. But many of the crowd believed on him, and said, When the Christ cometh, will he do more signs than these which this [man] did?" (Vers. 30,31.) Those who rejected the Lord for their tradition and will were only the more exasperated by the truth; but they were powerless till His hour came. God abides God, spite of man and Satan. His purpose stands though the enemies betray and commit themselves; but even when they do their worst, they but fulfill the scriptures they deny and the will of God they detest. Another effect also appears: “many of the crowd believed on him.” The truth might not enter conscience, and so the result be human; but at least it was felt and owned that from the Messiah none need expect more signs. Still all is vain Godward but Christ and the faith that receives Himself.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 9:15-27

The apostle had now affirmed the principle. It was for others however, not for himself. He is careful to make this understood by the Corinthians. He had written in love for the glory of the Lord, “but,” says he, “I have used none of these things. And I have not written these things that it should be thus in my case, for [it were] good for me to die rather than that any one should make vain my boast. For if I preach the gospel I have nothing to boast, for necessity is laid upon me, for woe is to me if I preach not the gospel. For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if I unwillingly, I have an administration entrusted to me.” (Vers. 15-17.) Divine love cares for others, and sacrifices self. The apostle was the living exemplification of the gospel he preached. There were rights, and grace does not forget them for others—does not avail itself of them. He is even warm in repudiating any such thought in the present case. It was living Christ so to feel and act, who taught that it was more blessed to give than to receive. His own life and death were the fullness of its truth; but the apostle was no mean witness of it, though a man of like passions with us. Nor has he been without his imitators in this, even as he also was of Christ. He would not afford a handle to those who sought it at Corinth. Others have had grounds equally grave for a similar course.
It is important to see also that to preach is not a thing to boast of. It is an obligation—a duty to Him who has called one, and conferred a gift for this very purpose. It is thus a necessity laid on all such, not an office of honor to claim, nor a right to plead. Christ has the right to send, and He does send, laborers into His vineyard. This makes it truly a necessity laid on him who is sent. According to scripture, the church never sends any to preach the gospel. Relations are falsified by any such pretension. Again He who sends directs the laborer. It is of capital importance that this should be maintained with immediate responsibility to the Lord. Therefore it is that the apostle adds, “For woe is to me if I preach not the gospel.” Undoubtedly, he who does this voluntarily has a reward, and the heart goes with the blessed work, whatever the hardness and reproach which accompany it. But if not of one's own will, an administration, or stewardship, is entrusted to one. Now of the steward it is sought that a man be found faithful.
“What then is my reward? That in preaching the gospel I may make the gospel without charge. So that I use not for myself any authority in the gospel.” (Ver. 18.) It was meet that such an one as the apostle, extraordinarily called, should act in extraordinary grace; and this he does. He made the gospel without cost to others, at all cost to himself. He did not use his right to a support for himself. It is no question here of “abuse,” any more than in chapter vii. 31. It is the giving up of one's right for special reasons of grace, and it is the more beautiful in one who had as deep a sense of righteousness as any man, perhaps, who ever lived. The plea for the rights of others was therefore so much the more unimpeachable, because it was absolutely unmixed with any desire for himself.
"For being free from all, I made myself bondman to all, that I might gain the most. And I became to the Jews as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; and to those under law, as under law, not being myself under law, that I might gain those under law; to those without law, as without law, not being without law to God, but under law to Christ, that I might gain those without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak; to all I have become all things, that by all means I might save some. And all things I do for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (Vers. 19-23.) How bright a reflection of the spirit of the gospel! The apostle was ready to yield at every side where Christ was not concerned. He was free, but free to be a bondman of any and everyone, in order that he might gain, not ends of his own, but the most possible for Christ. Hence among the Jews he raised no question about Judaism. His heart was set on their salvation; he would not be turned aside by legal questions. He became as a Jew; but while he declares that to those under law he was as under law, he carefully guards his own standing in grace by the clause left out in so many of the more modern copies, “not being myself under law,” that he might gain those under it. Such was the only gain he sought—not theirs, but them; and them for God, not to mold after any opinions or prejudices of his own.
He was just the same with the Gentiles. (Compare Gal. 4:12.) Such is the elasticity of grace. “To those without law, as without law,” while he carefully adds, not being without law to God, but duly or legitimately subject to Christ, that he might gain those without law. It is in vain to speak of natural character or education. If there ever was a soul rigidly bound by Pharisaic tradition within the straitest limits, it was Saul of Tarsus. But if any man be in Christ, there is a new creation. The old things passed; behold they are become new. Such was Paul the apostle; and so he lived, labored, and speaks to us livingly. He would not wound the scruples of the feeblest; nay, to the weak he became weak, that he might gain the weak; in short, he could, and does, say, “to all I am become all things, that I may by all means save some.” It was not, as some basely misuse his words, to excuse tampering with the world, and so spare one's own flesh, which is really to become the prey of Satan. His was self-sacrifice in a faith which had only Christ for its object, and the bringing of every soul within one's reach into contact with His love.
"Know ye not that they who run in a racecourse run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And everyone that contendeth is temperate in all things. They indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, as not uncertainly—so combat, as not beating air. But I buffet my body, and lead [it] captive, lest by any means, having preached to others, I myself should be reprobate.” (Vers. 24-27.) The figure from these games would be most striking to the Corinthians accustomed to those of the Isthmus. Indeed, the use is plain to anyone. Spiritually, the prize is not for one, but for all, if all ran well. But even in the games the candidates must be temperate in all things, though theirs were but a fading crown, ours an everlasting.
The apostle then applies it with touching beauty, not to the faulty Corinthians, but to himself. His was no rhetoric of the schools or the law courts, but of Christ for heaven. He therefore transfers the application to himself for their sakes, if I may apply his own language in chapter 4. “I therefore so run as not uncertainly.” How was it with them? I “so combat, as not beating air.” To this alas! they were habitually prone, as the epistle shows throughout, especially chapters 14 and 15. “But I buffet my body, and lead it captive, lest by any means, having preached to others, I myself should be reprobate."
Would that the Corinthians had so dealt with themselves! Alas! they were reigning as kings, while the apostles were, as it were, appointed to death. It is an utter mistake to suppose that the language of the apostle supposes any fear of perdition for his own soul. He had grave fears for those who were living at ease and carelessly. It is very possible for a man to preach to others, and be lost himself; but such an one does not buffet the body, nor bring it into subjection. Had the apostle lived without conscience, he must have assuredly been lost, as indeed one of the twelve was. Here we are shown the inseparable connection between a holy walk along the way, and eternal life at the end of it. Who can doubt it? and why should any man make a difficulty in the passage? There would be difficulty indeed, if the apostle spoke of having been born again and afterward becoming a castaway. In this case life would not be eternal. But he says nothing of the sort. He only shows the solemn danger and certain ruin of preaching without a practice according to it. This the Corinthians needed to hear then, as we to weigh now. Preaching or teaching truth to men without reality, self-judgment, and self-denial before God, is ruinous. It is to deceive ourselves, not Him who is not mocked.

The Olive, the Vine, and the Fig Tree

I trust, dear brethren, that our souls may be directed to the importance of speaking as before the Lord. What we are speaking of is not merely like man's thoughts and circumstances, but the things of the Lord. May we all keep this in mind. I would take up in connection with Rom. 11 the wild olive tree. It is the expression of the character of the Gentiles, who are told in the Epistle to the Ephesians, to remember that they were “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” It is of great importance to understand the exceeding wideness of that expression, “Gentiles in the flesh” — “the wild olive tree.” What we want is “to have no confidence in the flesh.” We see what the flesh is in Phil. 3 “We are the circumcision,” says the apostle, “who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. All the character which, he gives to the flesh is the “concision,” strictness of ordinances, legitimacy of descent, works of our own: these three things are marked as repudiated flesh, though of a religious claim. They are also of great importance as marking the character of the flesh under all circumstances. The resurrection cuts off all boasting in natural descent. My descent is that I am born of God. (John 1:18.) We are “sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty.” When we come to look at the fairest character of the flesh in the world, what is it when it is compared with being sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty? If there were any title to anything in the flesh, the Jew had it; for the Gentile to talk of ordinances, descent, &c, is indeed folly.
When God has settled anything, it is settled. In the, flesh we are Gentiles; in the new man we are born of God. If I get out of this, I get out of the Spirit into the flesh. In this Phil. 3 we have very severe names—dogs, evil workers, the concision. It is too bad for the Gentiles to come in and attempt to bring in that which has been set aside in the Jew by our Lord. Judaism had proper glory in the flesh; as concerning the flesh, Christ was a Jew. Here would have been the crowning of the flesh, if there had been anything good in our flesh. But He was rejected. There was no good thing in man, and therefore death intervenes.
We have the two principles of descent and works brought before us in this chapter. Works never satisfy the conscience, for it appeals to something that is not in itself. This is all set aside, and therefore the apostle says, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” The character of the flesh is that it is “without God in the world.” This leads us to see the character of the “wild olive tree” —the Gentiles. When the commonwealth of Israel is spoken of, it is not that they are strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope, but the contrary. (See Rom. 9:4-6.)
The point of distinction between the wild olive tree, and the good one, is this: the last was an election of grace and promise; the first, the nation itself which failed. From the days of the fall there has been a remnant according to the election of grace. Abel, in this sense, was a remnant and a suffering one; but there was no interfering in judgment till the flood; then the world refused the Lord, and the remnant was preserved.
Here was interference in judgment, God's acting in the world; thereon Satan came in, and pretended to be the agent in the good and evil that was going on in the world. Then came in idolatry. Satan, having reduced man to misery, set himself up as God over him. Next Abram was specially called out as the remnant, as one connected with God. The church comes on in the accomplishment of its own redemption, though its glory is still held in hope, a remnant according to the election of grace, made the deposit of promise. And this is the olive tree. It is true that it becomes afterward Israel nationally, and “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” God never repents of His calling, neither of Abraham, nor of Israel. All our hopes would be shaken if that purpose were not infallible, but (before this) faith is spoken of as accounted for righteousness.
Faith is never spoken of in the scriptures as brought out before the time of Abraham. Abraham believed in Him who was to raise up Jesus from the dead. The character of his faith was, that it was faith in the resurrection. Resurrection alone takes man ruined in sin and brings in something beyond the reach of evil in a new scene—the risen man. We get the promises made to Abram (that are alluded to in the Galatians) in Gen. 12, when he is first called out. There was the first breaking of the whole link of flesh as regarded Abram, and then the promise was confirmed to his seed after being risen from the dead. The promise was given to Abram, as the remnant called out, then confirmed to Isaac consequently on the resurrection (in figure). The reasoning out of this we have in the Epistle to the Romans. The apostle there shows that the ground on which the promise comes is justification by faith.
The Jews chose to take the promises, not on the ground of the faith of Abraham, but on that of their own obedience conditionally; and the moment they got on this ground they failed. They tried to do some good thing, like the young man in the Gospels, who, wrong in principle, knew not that “none is good, save one, that is God.” Israel took the law, not on the ground of promise, but of law, The law rests on the stability of another party; the promise rests on the stability of the Promiser. The prophets always take Israel off the ground of law on that of promise. In taking the law they must rest on descent and ordinances; and this is what the apostle combats in Rom. 3; 4 Up to chapter 3 he proves the universality of the guilt of the world, and the necessity of the blood of Christ to cleanse from sin. In chapter 4 we have the principle of the resurrection. He leads us out of natural life, out of the law, into the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus. Chapter 8 plants the Christian in his own proper place in the grace of God.
Then the apostle turns to the question of what becomes of the Jew. Has God cast them off? No; their bringing in again rests on the promise of God in resurrection, as we read in the Acts: “And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he saith on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.” The apostle's argument in chapter 9 is just this: he asserts God's title (the election of the nation of the Jews still subsisting) to elect whom He pleases. How come believers to have all these privileges mentioned in chapter 8? Because they are God's election; the principle is in God, not in the circumstance only of the election of Israel. Christ while necessarily the root of blessing is also the object of the promises.
Then there is another principle brought in, God's enduring with great longsuffering the vessels of wrath. God's dealings are suited to the bountifulness of His grace. The Lord brings out the remnant associated with Himself in entirely a new character; as we read, “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent taketh it by force.” “If by any means,” says the apostle, “I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead,” and it cost him a great deal of suffering. This is the character which the Lord attaches to His ministry. He came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel till John 9; 10. Then He puts forth His own sheep, taking them out of the fold, to be one flock, one shepherd.
What the church has to do now is to pitch its tabernacle outside the camp. We read in Ex. 33 that every one which sought Jehovah went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation that was without the camp. Israel had failed, and then there was this seeking Jehovah, and Moses talking to Jehovah face to face. Christ's character is that He went without the camp, and in Heb. 13 we are told to go forth also unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. Israel's camp was not properly the world. If you look at it in its moral character, it was the world, but still it was called the holy city. But the believer is now called to go without the camp.
The children of the flesh, or Israel, (the apostle shows in Rom. 11:7) reckon on what the flesh could reckon on, and are cut off; and if the Gentile branch continue or have faith in God's goodness, well. If I am bringing in anything between me and God's goodness, I am not continuing in God's goodness, though this may be only failure for a moment. He who has the Spirit, seeing what the apostasy of the flesh in him may lead to, watches against that power of the flesh that would separate him from God; and this is the right use to make of the lists of the evils of the flesh that we have in the word of God. Continuance is not of the flesh; it does not depend on ordinances, but on living faith: “otherwise thou shalt be cut off."
Thus the remnant is clearly brought out. Inasmuch as the first remnant was amongst the Jews, the flesh in them turned back to ordinances. Will the remnant make progress? Undoubtedly, though it will always be comparatively a little flock. The majority will turn back to the flesh, and we shall have to say in humbleness of soul, “my work is with my God.” The aspect of the work is towards all—the end towards God. Our strength in the way should be drawn from God only. Nothing may seem to be produced here sometimes in the way of results, but this should not cast us down. Our temptation is to look to the blessing that is produced and not to the source that produces it, and this is the cause of much weakness. In the Galatians and other parts of scripture we have this most important and clear testimony that it is mere fleshly unbelief to go back to descent and ordinances—to the weak and beggarly elements. The moment we rest in them, we go on the ground of Judaism. “Ye observe days, and months, and years, and times. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed labor on you in vain.” This was Judaizing clearly, and Peter himself was ensnared by it. (See Gal. 2)
The flesh is not opposed to religion, but to Christ who brings the flesh to nothing. The Christian's character is not to be respected in the devil's kingdom. When God came into the world, where was He found? Go to the manger, and there you see Him; but there was no room for Him in the inn. If the Christian take the place of rank and honor in the world, it is not of the Father but of the world.
All this being settled as not being of the Father, that is quite enough to settle what is of man, and the Lord's answer to Peter on the point was, “Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou art an offense unto me; for thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those which be of men.” This turning back again to Judaism, to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, is in the judgment of the Spirit of God exactly identical with the worshipping of Juggernaut, and of stocks, and stones, and demons; it is contrary to the fundamental principle of justification by faith. That is the reason why the, apostle says, “I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice, for I stand in doubt of you” —you have gone off the ground of Christian principles. There he changes his voice, and talks of the old law to those who wish to be under, the law.
The remnant running all through from Abel downward were a poor remnant, not having its life here; it had no continuance here, for death must come in, and their hope must therefore be in the morning of the resurrection, for the sentence on the nation was, “they shall never see life."
I would say that I believe the vine is more ecclesiastical in its character, the fig tree national. We have the fig character in Luke, where the nations too,” the fig tree, and all the trees,” are brought in. (Luke 21:29.) We read of the vine in Psa. 80: “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt, thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.” The vineyard was the circumcision, the nation generally. It was planted to produce fruit, but it failed. The distinctive character of the true vine is that it is judged by its fruits; it is not a question of ordinances.
Matt. 12 is clearly judicial judgment on the nation. The parable of the sower (13) clearly, to my mind, presents an external operation after the nation had been found to be without fruit. There was no tree in human nature that produced fruit, and then it is said, “Behold a sower went out to sow.” The three first parables are addressed to the multitude; the four last are the Lord's own mind about things addressed solely to His disciples.
In the first place the Jews rejected John the Baptist, next they rejected the Son of man. Then there was the testimony of the Holy Ghost that the atonement had been really made, and that, if they repented, Jesus would come back again: all this closed with Stephen's rejection, whose spirit goes to be with Christ in heaven. Then Paul is called out to carry the testimony of grace to the Gentiles; but Israel, having rejected grace themselves, became the deliberate opposers of grace to others, as it is said, “forbidding us to preach to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sin alway, for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” They would not allow grace to go to the Gentiles any more than they would receive it themselves.
Still, dear friends, it is a blessed testimony to the patience of God that, after the church had been established from its Gentile center—Antioch, Paul is found at Rome, a prisoner, testifying of Jesus still to Jews, the Lord standing with him and strengthening him in the very lion's mouth in Caesar's household. When brought? before the Emperor, there was no dimness of light in the apostle, no hiding that all which is not of the Father is of the world, but the expression of this plainly to Caesar's household. God does not depart from His principles, nor dim His light that men may bear with it.
After David's house had failed, the sentence of blinding passed on Israel. It hung over them through this long period, and was not fully executed until they had rejected the testimony of the Holy Ghost, and resisted the grace of God to the Gentile.
As to the word “mystery,” I believe, in principle, the mystery is just this. There is such a thing as loving righteousness and hating iniquity acting on the conscience. “Thou shalt not kill,” for instance. There is no mystery in this. God could not deal in righteousness with the world. We know how it failed in this. Then the secret came in. Anything that was above and beyond the principle of the law of righteousness were the secret things. “The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear him,” and here comes in faith. The bringing in of the Gentiles, for instance, to be one body was known only by fresh revelation.
All, of course, that is consequent upon man's sin is “the mystery of iniquity.” The mystery of iniquity is Satan's taking the form of God's goodness, and claiming the worship that belongs to Him; and the apostle calls the worshipping of angels (referring to something that was not of God), will-worship, and the satisfying of the flesh. Paul was, when he came to be the object of worship, a more dangerous demon than Theseus or Apollo. (See Acts 14) The way to judge of a thing is by the way in which it acts on the conscience, and the tendency of it is to draw away the soul from God and His worship. The Athenians worshipping the “unknown God” show the very extremity of evil—the confession that in utter iniquity they did not know God.
Then as to 41 apostasy,” it is simply the departure from the principle of faith on which the dispensation is based, to the law for instance, the very taking of which was an evidence of the Jewish apostasy. God had borne them on eagles' wings on their way, given them manna for their food, held them up in blessed dependence on the constant exercise of His grace; but they chose conditions of their own, and then departed from the first principle of obedience. “Thou shalt have none other gods but me,” Man's doing was making the calf. When it was made, Providence, they said, did it; as Aaron told Moses, “I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.” Then they worshipped it. When Moses saw it, he had it ground to powder, and made them drink it with water. This was faith.
The church is set on the ground of faith, on the discovery that the flesh has utterly failed, and that the risen Savior has to be looked to; but it has departed in principle from being in the favor of God in grace as united to Jesus, and the apostasy is coming in. The record of the apostasy is in Jade and John especially. The spirit of Antichrist is not merely natural enmity to God, but “they went out from us because they were not of us.” There is no hope at all then of restoration. There is unbelief; and is this continuing in God's goodness? “That day shall not come except there come a falling away first.” The flesh always fails in the deposit entrusted to it. This is apostasy, darkening God's light. The flesh may have the form and keep up the form, but it will end in apostasy. What does Stephen say as to the rejection of the Holy Ghost by the Jews in that dispensation? He does not refer so much to the rejection of Christ or of the intermediate prophets, but he goes back to their original departure from God in the wilderness.
Church history is just the progressive history of what the church has done when it has ceased to lean on God and has leaned on itself. This is a most solemn, thing. We have indeed “seen the end of all perfection,” but God has given us one thing on which the soul can rest, the Lord Jesus Himself. “He is precious,” not only because He has redeemed us, but if “we have tasted that the Lord is gracious” in the consciousness of failure, how blessed to have something that the eye can rest on and be satisfied with! And God the Father is satisfied there. There our hearts are sure to get rest, and we can get it nowhere else. When the eye of Jesus passed over the wide field of His labor, and He could see no answer to it and could do nothing but pray to the Father, He was able to say, “I rest in the Father, and the Father rests in Me, and here you may find rest.” We find rest in the One in whom God the Father finds rest—in Jesus. What rest there is to our souls, in the sense of their feebleness in glorifying the Father, to know that in Jesus He has been perfectly glorified, and that now there has been fresh glory brought to Him by what Jesus has done for the church, and here the church is united with the glory of the Father.
As to the remnant, I believe it is properly Jewish. They are those who, in the midst of apostasy, are leaning only on God.
What is the duty of the saint as to those relations in which the word does not recognize him? I would leave a great deal to the individual's own conscience. Unless the principle were there, I do not see any good in enforcing effects. Many who are most faithful in pressing things on the consciences of others did act for a long time in those things they now condemn, when in principle they were just as faithful as they are now. We must have patience very often with those who do not understand. I like never to sanction the principle that is evil, but to stretch out my hand to help out the person who is in the evil. When Moses had been talking to God, and returned to the people, did he sanction their evil? No, not a bit, though he pleaded with God for them.
As to the fact of what the world is, when we say of a person, “He is getting on in the world,” that is well understood. God does not own those relations which constitute the world. All natural and personal dependence can be owned by God. In these we have given directions how to act; in none else. The moment this is departed from, you must get another principle to act on than simple fidelity to the service of Christ.
The place of the Christian is that of implicit obedience to “the powers that be,” even supposing that Nero were king; for he could not touch my portion which is heavenly, and therefore whatever the question be, unless it interfered with my obedience to God, I would not mind, for he could only bring me into the lion's mouth, and this might turn to a testimony; but he could not touch my resurrection life. Unless it were a question concerning God's honor, I would not come down from this principle and judge of what is right or wrong as to the things of the world. We are told to submit to the king as supreme, and unto governors as them that are sent by Him, &c. Whoever is king, he is “supreme;” for there can be no power but of God, or we deny the omnipotence of God. I have nothing to do but to own what God owns. I get my example in Christ, who appealed to none but God, but still in the darkest hour of iniquity, when God's priests were interceding with Gentile power for the crucifixion of His Son, the Lord says, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” The power from God was submitted to by our blessed Lord, who committed His cause “to him that judgeth righteously,” and this is our example.
I could not be a magistrate while Satan is the god of this world, for I cannot serve two masters; and if I cannot say on the bench that what Christ says is true, I must be dishonoring Him and serving the world. In the millennium it will not be so. Then we shall rule; but I cannot now, because the principle on which power is exercised is not the honor of God. The magistrate is the resister of evil, but His word is,” If you do well and suffer for it, this is acceptable with God.” I would rather have what is acceptable to God than all the civil rights in the world.
The duty then of the saints is submission. I know no other, or I must act on the principles which the flesh recognizes. I cannot seek a good object in a bad way. The object must be God's, and the way God's.
The Christian, having a new nature, is entitled to judge all things, and to ask, Does this come from the Spirit, or from the flesh? What is the standard of the new man? “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Christ's example and the Father's perfectness are the principles on which the Christian ought to act, as it is said, “Love your enemies,” &c. How have I drunk into the understanding of God's love? In His having brought salvation to my own soul? And I am therefore called to be the personal witness to the world that “none is good” but God, and that He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil, &c. It is not now, “be perfect with Jehovah.” This has been settled in Christ, but the Father sends me now to present His perfectness to the world.
The world is withered in the activity of disappointed selfishness, and wants the beneficence of God. If a Christian gets his heart sunk in the listlessness and vanity of the world, a pretty witness will he be of God's character to it.
I see the Lord going “about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with him;” seeking not “his own,” satisfied with the Father, and we ought to be satisfied with Him, and not to be seeking our own, but to be seeking grace from the fountain of grace. How can a Christian broil and travail his soul in the things of the world? If the Lord said that there was no rest to be found in the world, it is a foolish thing to seek. There is only rest in Him, who said, “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Fellowship with Christ in the expression of God's goodness is the place of the Christian.
Strange to have to discuss whether the honor or power of the world belongs to the saint! As it is said, “that no flesh shall glory in his presence.” What is honor in the world? There is one good in it, that it can be given up for the Lord's sake; this is the only good that I know of. Let me spend every shilling that I have in the service of the Lord, still it will be the mammon of unrighteousness; but the Christian has the privilege of even turning the mammon of unrighteousness into the expression of grace. There would be no money or rank at all if there were not sin in the world. The person of rank is the receiver of respect, &c, and others are the givers. As a Christian I give willingly, but he is the beggar in the world. I do not say this in the spirit of disrespect: that would be quite wrong; for the spirit of disrespect is ruinous in Christianity. Still the secret of the Lord is that what passes current in the world is given by those who, having heavenly riches, can give freely, because they have nothing to hinder them. Am I in principle to take what Christ did not? Never. If heaven rejoiced over the Son of God and the King of Israel placed in a manger, what should our feelings as to the honor of this world be? And yet we know how we should feel under similar circumstances in this world, where everything is measured by the standard of selfishness.
Let us remember those words, dear friends, “though he were rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.” J. N. D.

The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus

All Christians are agreed that the death of Christ is the basis of all our blessings. Of this there can be no doubt, for “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Without the death of Christ we could never be with Him— “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.” He could not then, but in virtue of the death of the cross, have us in glory with Him. But, while all our present and eternal blessings are founded on the death and blood shedding of Jesus the Son of God, scripture points us again and again to Christ risen and ascended, as the One in whom we stand, and are fully blessed and accepted.
The use so often made of the apostle's resolve “not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” as if he meant that he confined his preaching to the fact that Christ died for sinners, is very far wide of the truth. As a matter of certainty we know that he preached much more than this. The truth is that in Corinth, where human wisdom was so much extolled, and human righteousness so ardently contended for by Jews, the apostle determined, that instead of regarding either, he would continually have a crucified Savior before him and minister Him. For he saw in the rejected and crucified Son of God the worthlessness both of human wisdom and human righteousness. He beheld also in the cross, the divine estimate of man in the flesh. Whether it be a question of man's righteousness or wisdom, he saw both alike laid low there by the righteous judgment of God. In the crucified Savior he knew that God had entirely and judicially set aside man in the flesh, as scripture says, “our old man is crucified with him.” The crucified Son of God must therefore be the abiding witness that the “wisdom” of the one, and the “righteousness” of the other, had equally rejected Him who is “the wisdom of God and the power of God,” and ever also constantly sets forth that man had there been judged by God as utterly unfit for Him, so that “no flesh should glory in his presence.” The apostle then was forbidden by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ to have any confidence in the pretended good qualities of the natural man. So that when he entered Corinth he determined neither to recognize the boasted wisdom of the Gentile, nor the pretended righteousness of the Jew; for he had a crucified Savior before him, the Holy One of God, hated and rejected by both. He would be occupied with the cross not only as manifesting God's love to man, but as setting forth God's verdict on the thorough depravity and incurableness of man in the flesh. To imagine that the apostle only preached the death of Christ, foundation as it is of all our blessings, would be contrary to the fact; for we know how largely his ministry entered into the resurrection, ascension, glorification, and coming of Christ, and many details also concerning each of these glorious truths.
It is a brief consideration of what scripture teaches about the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, which, as the Lord may help, is now to engage our attention. It is the all-important truth of the gospel. We read of the apostles being enveloped in mist and perplexity, because “as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."
Notwithstanding the present extensive amount of Bible knowledge, and acquaintance with the facts and literal details of scripture, it may however be truly said that the children of God are suffering much through “lack of knowledge.” As in the last days of Israel's history the prophet had dolefully to exclaim, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6), it may now be truly said that God's people are immense losers through lack of knowledge of Christ. For who now delights to tell of the comfort, joy, victory, and blessings they enjoy, from having to do with Christ risen, ascended, and coming? The highest blessing many appear to think that they can know here is the present forgiveness of sins, and the consequence is they become associated and entangled with much that is contrary to the Lord's mind, and injurious to their own souls; which those that have a better acquaintance with Christ avoid, because they perceive another path set forth by the scriptures to the true Mends of the Lord Jesus.
As we have seen, the error of the disciples was ignorance of the scriptures as to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Their hearts were true and fervent, but they were sad, and looking in the wrong direction for comfort, because they knew not the scripture “that he must rise again from the dead.” They knew not that “it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” The consequence was that they were looking into the sepulcher, and were sadly disappointed because they found not the body of the Lord Jesus, instead of rejoicing in the reality of His mighty victory. They knew not that it was absolutely necessary that He must rise again from the dead. Had His body remained in the sepulcher, what assurance could we have had of His having redeemed us? Nay, more, had He been holden of death, we should have had no Savior and no salvation. The resurrection of Christ is therefore the fundamental truth of the gospel. To take away the truth of the Lord's resurrection is to remove the keystone of the arch of divine truth—to leave the soul without hope. Hence we find Peter, after this disappointment at the sepulcher, blessing God for having “begotten us again unto a lively [or, living] hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:8.)
When some sought to persuade the saints of Corinth that there was no resurrection of the dead, the apostle at once refers to the resurrection of Christ, and asserts that, if he is not raised from the dead, then we have no gospel, no comfort, no salvation. He says, if Christ be not risen, our preaching is vain, your faith is vain, we are false witnesses, ye are yet in your sins, all who have believed are perished, and we are of all men most miserable. Thus the fundamental truth of the gospel is asserted in connection with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and our resurrection too is affirmed because there is one Man who has passed through death and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
In looking through the Acts, when the Lord's servants were so much under the guidance and power of the Holy Ghost, we cannot fail to be struck with the prominence the apostles gave to the truth of the Lord's resurrection. In the first chapter of that book before the Holy Ghost came, when exercised about the choice of an apostle, Peter insists that one must be a witness with us of His resurrection. And the sermon on the day of Pentecost not only insists on the guilt of the Jews in slaying Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God, but it also sets forth His resurrection from the dead, and declares that He is now in glory made Lord and Christ, the true object of faith, and the giver of the Holy Ghost. In chapter 3 Peter again addressing the guilty Jews says, “Unto you first, God having raised up his Son [servant] Jesus, and sent him to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” In chapter 4 we find that the people were grieved, and persecuted the apostles, because “they preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead;” and when Peter addressed them about the miracle he had wrought on “the lame man, he said, “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand before you whole.” In the same chapter after waiting upon God in united prayer we are told, among other manifestations of divine mercy, “With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” In chapter 5 Peter witnesses again to the people, that “the God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” In chapter 6 Stephen says that he sees heaven opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” In chapter 10 when Peter preaches to the household of Cornelius, speaking of the Jews, he says, “Whom they slew and hanged upon a tree, him God raised up the third day and showed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead” In the account of Paul's famous sermon at Antioch, he again and again insists upon the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. After alluding to the rulers of Jerusalem who desired Pilate that He should be slain, he said, “they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher, but God raised him from the dead, and he was seen many days.” He also says, God hath raised up Jesus again, as it is also written in Psa. 2, “Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” [?] Again he tells his hearers at Antioch that “he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.” He further adds that “he whom God raised again saw no corruption.” After this when preaching at Thessalonica (chap, 17) Paul “reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead;” and his great offense to the Thessalonians seems to have been saying “that there is another king, one Jesus.” At Athens, also, we are told that some thought Paul was a setter forth of strange gods, because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection, and others mocked when they heard of the resurrection of the dead. In Paul's first speech of defense at Jerusalem, he says, “of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question” (chap. 22:6); and before Felix, he not only asserts that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust, but repeats what he had said on a former occasion, “touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.” So prominently was the doctrine of the resurrection set forth by Paul, that when Festus takes upon himself to explain Paul's case, he says, “his accusers had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and if one Jesus which was dead whom Paul affirmed to be alive.'“ (Chap. 25:19) Before king Agrippa also he says that he witnessed “none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come; that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead” &c. (Chap. 26:28)
All these quotations plainly show, when the Holy Ghost was acting in mighty power with the apostles, that they not only preached the death of Christ, but that the precious truth of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus was largely set forth in their ministry; and the more we consider the subject by the testimony of scripture, the more convinced we shall be not only that the resurrection is the fundamental truth of the gospel, but that those souls must be in a defective state who are always, as they say, at the foot of the cross. That ministry of the word too falls far short of the Lord's mind, which does not enter upon the resurrection of Christ, and the glorious doctrines of divine teaching associated with it.
The truth is that, if Christ be not raised from the dead, then death has gained the victory over Him, the grave has closed upon Him, Satan has triumphed, and we have no living Savior and no salvation. The subject therefore is of vital importance. But, blessed be God, Christ is risen from the dead! He is alive again, and that for evermore, and has the keys of hades and of death; He has obtained the victory for us, and is become the firstfruits of them that slept.
The apostle Paul tells us that the gospel which he preached was that which he also received, “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:8, 4.) But it may be inquired, where in the Old Testament scriptures, to which we presume the apostle here referred, are we taught that Christ would rise, again from the dead on the third day?
The resurrection of Christ was plainly foretold by David in Psa. 16, which was quoted both by Peter on the day of Pentecost, and by Paul at Antioch, to prove the fulfillment of scripture in His rising again from the dead. They argued that David did not then speak of himself; for, though a prophet, he was buried and saw corruption; but that He whom God raised up saw no corruption. In death His soul was not left in hades, the place of departed spirits, neither did His body see corruption; but He entered upon resurrection, the path of life, and ascended to the right hand of God. The words are, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psa. 16:10, 11) Thus the resurrection of the Lord Jesus was plainly foretold, and the instruction is clear that Messiah would not only rise again from the dead, but be exalted to the “right hand of the majesty on high."
But with regard to the third day in scripture, which would seem often significant of resurrection, we are not so plainly instructed; and yet to the spiritual mind little doubt can remain but that the third day would be the day of Christ's rising from the dead. Abraham seeing the place afar off for the sacrifice of Isaac on the third day (Gen. 22:4) makes it more than probable that Isaac was loosed from the altar on the third day. But this is not clear enough to be relied on as positive evidence on the point. Our Lord Himself referred to Jonah as a type, when He said, “As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40) Here we have the clearest instruction that the Old Testament record of Jonah did typically set forth the resurrection of Christ, forasmuch as Jonah, after this, was vomited out by the fish on dry land. The third day is also stamped with the divine mark of resurrection by the prophet Hosea— “After two days he will revive us; in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” (Chap. 6:2) Again, we find in reference to the peace offering, that “the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire,” that is, that it shall be entirely for God on the third day. (Lev. 6:17)
But the third day was also most remarkably and divinely stamped at creation. Before that day the waters of death covered everything; but on that day the waters receded, and out of the dry land sprang forth living fruitful things. “The earth brought forth grass, the herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind.” And we are twice told in this day, and on this day only, that “God saw that it was good.” And what could this be for but to teach us that the third day, the day of life springing out of death, was good not only as to creation, but also as to resurrection? Thus, without question, the Old Testament scriptures did mark the third day as specially connected with resurrection. We refer only to another ancient type, to show that the resurrection of our blessed Lord “the firstfruits of them that slept,” would be on the first day of the week; for the sheaf of firstfruits to be accepted for the people was to be waved before Jehovah on the morrow after the sabbath. “Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest; and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted for you, on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.” (Lev. 23:10, 11)
From all these scriptures we cannot fail to enter somewhat into the apostle's meaning when he said that Christ “rose again the third day, according to the scriptures;” and we can also perceive the serious mistake, and consequent perturbation of the minds of the disciples, because “as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.” But how great their joy was when they saw their risen Lord, and could understand something of the mighty victory which He had accomplished for them!
The apostle however asserts the fact that “now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then the end.” (1 Cor. 15:20-24.)
And here we do well to notice, 1st, That the resurrection of Christ is the divine demonstration of the person of the Son of God, the foundation truth of Christianity; for “he was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:4.) It also confirmed the truth of His own testimony to His personal glory, when He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them.” (John 2:19-22.) The apostle Paul also quoted Psa. 2 to show that it was the person of the Son of God that was raised again from the dead. He said, “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again, as it is written in Psa. 2, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts 13:33.)
2nd, The resurrection of the Lord Jesus overcame death, and showed that though He died for the ungodly as an offering for sin, yet having laid down His life and lain in the sepulcher till the third day (thus showing the reality of His death), it could detain Him no longer. “It was not possible that he should be holden of death,” for He was “the life,” “the Prince of life,” and “he saw no corruption.” That great and terrible foe, which we have because we are sinners, Christ triumphed over in His resurrection from the dead. It is because of this that it is not now absolutely necessary that we shall die. Instead of this, we are told that “we shall not all sleep,” but some of us will be “alive and remain to the coming of the Lord,” and then, instead of dying, we shall be changed in a moment, our mortal bodies will put on immortality, and we shall be forever like the Lord and with the Lord. Thus the Lord vanquished death in His resurrection from among the dead.
3rd, He triumphed over the grave. Covered as the mouth of the sepulcher was with a great stone, and a seal set upon it, guarded too with soldiers, all could not prevent the Son of God rising out of it. And be it observed that this the greatest victory ever obtained was wrought noiselessly. No flourish of trumpets announced this wondrous triumph. The sepulcher was left in perfect order, the linen clothes carefully put by, and the napkin that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. The whole scene tells us of the most perfect order and quiet. Had He still been in the sepulcher, the grave would have obtained a victory over Him. But, blessed be God, it was not so; and now looking at the triumphant risen One, we can truthfully say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” And know that all this victory is ours, by God's free gift in the depth of His abounding mercy; so that we can also say, “but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
4th, Satan no doubt thought when Christ was nailed to the cross, and the power of death let loose upon Him, so that He bowed His sacred head in death, and gave up the ghost, that the Lord was then made an end of and got rid of. And to the eyes of those who had said, “not this man, but Barabbas,” it so appeared. Such however was not the fact. Instead of Satan, who had the power of death, triumphing over Jesus, Jesus triumphed over him. He rose victoriously out of death, and not only destroyed death, but him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. The blessed Son of God thus raised from the dead spoiled principalities and authorities, made a show of them publicly, leading them in triumph by it. He led captivity captive, ascended into glory, received gifts for men, and is henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.
5th, The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is also God's public attestation to His finished work upon the tree. If in the cry “It is finished,” it is implied that everything had been then accomplished according to the purpose and grace of God, every type fulfilled, every scripture obeyed, all the stern demands of justice satisfied, righteously established, and all the claims of holiness met, so that nothing more remained to be done, all was fully responded to by God in raising Him from the dead. If it had been possible that one sin which He bore had been unjudged, He could not have been raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. But now we do see Him crowned with glory and honor who had been numbered with the transgressors and forsaken by God. We now behold Him righteously welcomed to the place of highest exaltation, instead of being abandoned in unsparing wrath because our sins were upon Him. Thus His being raised from the dead by the glory of the Father is the best possible proof that in bearing our sins He had perfectly satisfied God, He was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God hath highly exalted him.” The resurrection of Christ therefore is the undeniable proof of His finished work, that sin had been fully judged, and God glorified.
6th, Christ, having triumphed over death, and gone up the path of life, He has made a new and living way for us. When He poured out His soul unto death upon the cross, we are told that “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” Thus a new and living way was consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. But, after this, He rose from the dead and entered into heaven itself by His own blood. He rose from the dead as the “firstfruits” because others are to rise from among the dead; and He went into heaven as the forerunner, because other runners are to follow. What never-ending blessedness God has given us in a risen victorious Savior! Well may we sing—
"His be the Victor's name,{br}Who fought the fight alone;{br}Triumphant saints no honor claim:{br}His conquest was his own{br}{br}By weakness and defeat{br}He won the meed and crown;{br}Trod all our foes beneath His feet{br}By being trodden down.{br}{br}He hell in hell laid low;{br}Made sin, He sin o'erthrew;{br}Bow'd to the grave, destroy'd it so,{br}{br}Bless, bless the Conqueror slain!{br}Slain in His victory;{br}Who lived, who died, who lives again,{br}For thee, His church, for thee!"
ew.
7th, In Christ risen, we see Him who was dead alive again and that for evermore, and know that God has, in the riches of His grace, given us life in Him. “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” —a new life surely, risen life, life in One who is beyond death, the mighty conqueror of Satan, death, and the grave. He who is now in the very glory of God is then our life. Hence we are spoken of as “risen with Christ,” having been quickened together, raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. What a marvelous blessing to be thus associated in life with One who has risen triumphantly put of death, and sat down on the right hand of God! What liberty as well as gladness it gives us! How natural therefore it is because of this, that we should be enjoined to seek the things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, to set our mind on things above, and not on things on the earth. And these surely must be the exercises of risen life in us, for its associations are above, its proper element is where Christ sitteth. Were this more practically the case with us, how familiar should we be with the things which are above; and how careful we should be not to be occupied with earthly things beyond our necessary duties! We should enjoy “the holiest of all” as our proper dwellingplace. “The throne of grace” world assures us of continual access with confidence, while reading continually our title to glory in “the blood of sprinkling.” The risen and ascended Man in the glory would be the constant object that attracts, commands, and satisfies our hearts. We should be joyfully contemplating Him as our life, righteousness, peace, and hope. His various offices too on our behalf in the glory, as our “High Priest,” “Advocate,” “Washer of our feet,” “Shepherd and Bishop of our souls,” are enough to fill us with overflowing, consolation and refreshment. While holding the Head, from whom all blessings flow to every member of the body, we should be in communion with Him in His present work on earth. Contemplating Him also as “Head of all principality and power,” we are reminded by the Spirit that, if He is above every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come, we are complete in Him. These and many more lines of precious instruction must occupy our souls, if we are seeking the things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Many saints are already with the Lord, “absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” Like us they are looking forward to His coming, when He, who rose so victoriously over death, will apply His resurrection power to our bodies, and then all who are in Christ, whether dead in Christ or alive and remain, will be brought together in resurrection life and glory to be “forever with the Lord."
Η. H. S.

Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 10

Forty days does the Philistine present himself in triumph, but meanwhile God is preparing Himself a champion to take up the challenge. He is feeding the flock of God in the place of Rachel's sorrow and grave, of Ruth's fruitfulness and joy, from whence between the time of the smiting on the cheek and the return of the remnant of His brethren to the children of Israel, He should come forth unto God, who is to be ruler in Israel, even Jesus, acting by the Holy Spirit—the body of Christ upon earth, indwelt by and in the power of the Holy Ghost. The time of His manifestation to Israel, as such, was not yet, until the forty days had elapsed (Acts 1:2, 3; 1 Sam. 17:12); but at length the Father sends the Beloved with a full supply, for all His brethren of Israel, of perfect blessing, the fruit of a finished work, in which each one should share individually, and also collectively participate, even resurrection! He takes from His Father for His brethren ten omers of parched corn, a share for each of Israel, a perfect portion for each, of the firstfruits of resurrection, waved before the Lord on the first day of the week after the passover, raising them up in Himself, and causing them to sit together in heavenly place in Him; but making them also in themselves, though baken with leaven, the firstfruits unto the Lord, a new meat offering unto Him—their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him; this by taking His place for them in the glory, forty days after the morning of resurrection, they having to wait a perfect interval of time, seven days before they are brought into the power of His work and place. Now they, and all the Jewish people and polity, were still in the valley of Elah, the place of strength (1 Sam. 17:17), looking for some exhibition of earthly power and sovereignty (Acts 1:6), still entrenched amidst Jewish forms and ordinances (Acts 1:15-26). To them thus entrenched He comes. No longer the flock in the wilderness, but either as Saul's host, to conquer by a fleshly religion, or to be baptized into one body and be accepted in the Beloved— “David” —to conquer in the power of the Spirit. For the fiftieth day has arrived, the day of Pentecost is now accomplishing, the harvest is ripe: shall their souls' food, and nourishment, and strength for the battle, be such as Saul or David gives? Shall Saul's host going forth to the fight, and shouting for the battle, be the champion, or David, the shepherd lad, armed with an empty sling?
He runs into the army, comes, salutes his brethren, and talks with them; and as he talks, the sojourner of the winepress—Captivity by name—comes forth, and utters his defiance, and David hears. How was it that Jonathan, God's man of faith, who heretofore had driven back the whole army of the aliens, aided by his armor bearer only, permitted such a reproach to Israel and Israel's God? Ah! reproach had broken his heart, shame and dishonor had made him full of heaviness; but for the sake of the God of Israel had he borne reproach for His sake, shame had covered his face, and his mighty enemies, they that should have lamented, and comforted him, had given him gall for meat, vinegar to drink, had persecuted him whom God had smitten, and talked to the grief of His wounded; therefore he became a stranger to his brethren, an alien to his mother's children, and, instead of Baying them, he must curse them. “Let their eyes be darkness, that they see not, and their loins continually to shake. Let their table become a snare, and what was for welfare a trap. Let their habitation be desolate; let none dwell in their tents. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous."
They had fought against him without a cause; for his love they were his adversaries; they had rewarded him evil for good, and hatred for love; when he had wrought salvation in Israel, Israel's chief had called down the curse upon him, and now had the curse recoiled. Saul had loved it—it had now come unto him. He had not delighted in blessing, so now it was far from him; he had clothed himself with cursing as with a garment, and it now came unto him like water, and as oil into his bones, as a garment which covered him, and a girdle which girded him continually. A wicked one was now set over him, and an adversary stood at his right hand; his days should be but few, and another was about to take his office. The blood of one who had served so faithfully and well was on him and his people, and Jonathan awaits deliverance by David, that they might know that the Lord had done it, and had laid on him the iniquities of them all. As they had brought the curse upon him, so are they now ashamed, clothed with shame, and covered with their own confusion; for all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.
This clearly sets forth the state of the Jewish system, and the position the Lord held towards it as the heir in whom the earthly hopes were centered: they had said, “Come, let us kill him,” and the Lord of the vineyard was about to destroy miserably the wicked husbandmen, and let out the vineyard to others. Judas, the type and representative of the system, in whom the evil principles that worked in the mass found their most perfect development, because brought into nearest contact with light and love, and therefore forced to be that, or its opposite, hypocrisy and hatred, Judas was indeed tasting the full bitterness of being under the power of the adversary: he had gone out guilty, his prayer had become sin, his children were fatherless, his wife a widow; his days had been few, his habitation desolate, and another appointed to his office. So that the decreed woe had come upon him by whom the offense had come, and whoso chose to consider might see that God's smitten One was guiltless, and that judgment should overtake the guilty; therefore, while wrath was treasured up against the day of wrath, and righteous judgment of God, yet mercy through the One who died, and rose again, might rejoice against judgment, and salvation come to Israel by the new man, David, the Beloved. The One who, as the rejected and murdered heir, could call upon the Lord of the vineyard to destroy, as the Son of the Father, the Beloved, could pray, “Father, forgive them;” and thus David, the children of God baptized into one body, the body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, has power from God, the Holy Spirit having come upon them to witness for Jesus, speaking the great things of God, and saying, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, seeming to possess the power of death, and defying the armies of the living God, keeping them all their lifetime subject to bondage through fear of death?” But if the youngest, hitherto in the wilderness feeding his father's sheep, stands forth for God, he surely incurs the jealous anger of his elder brother. Is it Abel, worshipping the living God, and by faith offering to Him a life out of death, Cain will surely be wroth; does Jacob count the birthright worth possessing, then Esau will hate him, when he finds that he cannot inherit the blessing: does Joseph declare the mind of God to his brethren, it does but stir up the malice of his brethren to purpose his death. So there is an elder one now, a kinsman according to flesh, an Israelite (whose is the Revealed mind of God), whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the lawgiving, and the service, and the promises—who, seeing this youngest one come down, can mocking say, “They are full of new wine.” But David has an answer to the point— “What have I now done? is there not a cause?” Let this be known to you, and give heed to my words: these are not drunken as ye suppose. It is the third hour of the day: let no man's heart fail him. When with the little flock in the wilderness, single-handed were the powers of evil smitten and destroyed, whether working by Jew or Gentile, whether using God's judgment or man's malice (the cheek teeth of the great lion had been broken, and the northern beast had been driven into a land barren and desolate,” Joel 1:6; 2:20, that is, the power that would work by these in the time to come), and the Lord that delivered then would deliver now. The Spirit of God which had raised Christ from the dead had come down now to dwell in mortal bodies, and would hereafter be poured out upon all flesh, before the great and gloriously appearing day of the Lord come, so that whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But the clothing and armor of Saul; his helmet of brass, and coat of mail, and sword, do not fit David, any more than Joel's prophecy exactly applies to the church, but to the Jewish remnant, which will be the owned thing of God in its generation, and out of which the church was formed at this time; so Peter soon puts off Joel's prophecy, saying, I have not proved it, and instead takes the name of Jesus for his staff, and the five parts or stages of His work, as the smooth stones for his sling, namely, His life, death, resurrection, exaltation, and pouring out of the Spirit, and thus draws near to the enemy, who, on his part, comes armed with circumcision, the law, and the temple, as his power for victory, by which to keep Israel in bondage, disclaiming the church for its youth and freshness.
What was this broken staff to Him, this rod lifted up, this Jesus the Nazarene, the crucified—was He a Gentile dog, to be thus spoken to? Ah! he might boast that he had the power of death, could crucify and slay, but the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel's armies, could raise again from the dead. He whom lawless men had crucified and slain God had raised up, and exalted to His right hand, who had poured out His Holy Spirit, that all the earth might know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly, the whole house of Israel, might know assuredly that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear (compare Hos. 1:6-11; Rom. 9:25-28; 1 Sam. 17:47; Acts 2:36-40); for the battle is the Lord's, and He hath made this Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ. Thus hastens Peter to meet the Philistine—him that had the power of death, keeping God's Israel in bondage all their lifetime through fear of death—taking, by the Holy Spirit, from his bag of bread of life the stone which told of resurrection, taken from the brook, now dry, in which the waters of death had rolled, slinging it, smiting him in his forehead, that the stone sunk in, and he fell upon his face to the earth; for, having heard, they were pricked in heart, and said, what shall we do, brethren? Then said Peter, “Repent, and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” So he prevailed, with a sling and a stone, and smote and slew the enemy.
But no outward sign of power, or weapon of offense, save the sling and stone, had the church so to give proof and token of the victory, it must use in figure the very weapon of the enemy, even death, and that a death by judgment (the sword, Rom. 13:4)—baptism; for those who accepted his word were baptized, and there were added that day three thousand souls, turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, realizing in some little measure the truth of death and resurrection, even that deliverance was to them, since wrath and judgment had been fully satisfied. Not wholly, however, did they know the power of the work that had been done, for, though they were together, and had all things common, breaking bread in the house, yet they were also every day being constantly in the temple. God, doubtless, making them a sign and token to the whole house of Israel of the work He was then doing in their midst, though the body of the Man in heaven became so connected with the earthly power, recognized by it, treated with an amount of condescension, “having favor with all the people,” that it was like rending soul from body, even after being subjected to the cruelest treatment, to separate. God used it, in His grace, to draw out of the mass of unbelief the truehearted ones, the remnant of Gath, the Jonathans of Israel, whose souls were knit to David—the church loving Him, who was its head and life, as their own soul, making a covenant, acknowledging Him alone as worthy to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing, and giving up all hopes and expectation of a man on earth, and centering all their confidence in One in heaven.
Thus the church prospers, and is accepted in the eight of all the people (1 Sam. 18:5; Acts 2:42-47), and fear was upon every soul; and when the Lord Jesus, by the hand of Peter (Acts 3:6), cures the man lame from his birth, the people are filled with wonder and amazement, and run together, greatly wondering, while the man himself, once hopelessly lame, in the place from whence all blessing should have flowed to Israel, now walks and leaps, and praises God, singing and dancing in heart with joy. Saul may indeed have slain His thousands, but David his tens of thousands. The despised rejected Nazarene, crucified but now raised and glorified, hidden in the heavens but working in and by us unlettered Galileans who are His witnesses (Acts 2:32; 3:15), hath done this which ye behold and hear, has made this man strong, whom ye behold and know (Acts 2:33; 3:16; see ver. 24), and is sent blessing you, in turning each one from your wickedness. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But they who receive honor one of another, seeking not that which comes from God only, will be worth to hear such honor ascribed to one who spoke not of Himself, nor pleased Himself, but always did His Father's will; who, because of the Father's judgment, and to do the Father's will had emptied Himself, made Himself of no reputation, humbling Himself even unto death, And that the death of the cross; giving His garments to be parted, and His vesture to be cast lots for; laying down His life, as Jonathan, the rightful heir, for the sheep of His pasture, that He might take it again, as David, the beloved, whose throne should be established forever.
Surely would the priests and captains of the temple, and the Sadducees, be distressed that such honor should be ascribed to Jesus whom they had crucified, and the quick-sightedness which characterizes the children of this world in worldly things would make them say, “What can he have more but the kingdom?” This new thing will usurp our place and power in the people's mind, for the number of the men had become five thousand; therefore with jealousy did they eye the church from that day and forward, laying hands on them, and putting them in ward till the morrow. And it came to pass on the morrow that the evil spirit (1 Sam. 18:10; Acts 4:5) was permitted from God to work upon the whole Jewish polity, officially represented in its responsible heads at Jerusalem, its headquarters. Annas, the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and as many as were of high priestly family, and the Holy Spirit plays upon the harp of God before them by the hand of Peter, testifying to the power of the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, whom they had crucified, whom God had raised up, that in His name, by Him, the infirm man stood before them sound, and salvation is in none other, either for king or people: “for neither is there any name under heaven which is given among men by which we must be saved.” But the sweet notes of God's glad tidings fall now upon ears strung by the evil spirit of jealousy, and hearts quivering with wounded pride; the mouth of God's witnesses must be stopped; if God gives grace to Abel, Abel must be bruised to death. If David prospers, Saul must kill him. If, by means of the church, an evident sign has come to pass, the council being in the place of fleshly power and authority—javelin in hand, must exercise it, and threaten them severely. Twice does the God of all grace, by the hand of Peter, strike cunningly the gospel strains before the responsible fleshly religious system: this second time more completely representing the whole people, for besides all who were of high priestly family, it now comprised all the elderhood of the sons of Israel; but no cunning charmer could move the heart of the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear. Their poison was like the poison of the serpent, the more genial the warmth, the greater the venom, urged to increasing bitterness and wrath, in proportion to the increasing grace and power manifested by the church, till at last nothing would be left for God but to break their teeth in their mouth.
At first were they witnessed to of resurrection, now of exaltation, of the lowly One, made by them, a shame and reproach in an ignominious death, at God's, right hand, to give repentance and remission of sins, and the Holy Spirit also, that they might likewise be His witnesses, if now they would obey Him. But neither the gift of tongues, nor the life of grace, nor the power to heal, nor the words of life and love, can move their jealous heart, except to greater bitterness and wrath, and a more determined purpose to smite, even to the wall. This second time also was their murderous intent frustrated, and the church avoided out of their presence twice, the reason of their enmity being still the same, the rage of jealousy and lust of power; for the people glorified God and magnified the church for all the mighty works that were done, and therefore fear the church, because the power of God is upon it, and because it behaves wisely before the people, fearing lest, after all, the work should be from God, and they be found also fighters against God.
(To be continued)

In the Wilderness Alone With God

“I do not know whether my heart apprehends things in England aright as to the work of the Lord; and I would desire to see His thoughts ere I speak or write about a work in which His hand is engaged and which is either His own work and then all-important, or else a mixed thing which is not indeed and in fact the very preparation for the Bright and Morning Star though it may link on with that which, or be that out of which, what is prepared for the Bright and Morning Star shall emerge. The great want of soul trust in individuals is God and Christ. The want of clear understanding of expiation and of the new revelation of the character as brought out to light of God, (as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb upon the throne) has pressed upon me not a little as seen in England; and I have feared a tendency to enlarge and to restore without due reference to souls being really in faith and spirit in His presence. I give you my thoughts as they rise afresh, though they have long been again before me.
In early days there was much of patience and a wall to jump over; this gave more character to both workman and those worked upon. The Lord grant that in the removal of barriers (many of them removed through infidelity and rationalism, &c.) we may not have fallen and may not fall into a superficial kind of work. The work has become so vast that one can only commend it to Him, but at the same time, and in proportion as it augments, one needs to keep oneself more and more apart with Him.” G. V. W. to J. B. S. December, 1871.

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Review of Mr. Eres' “Four Letters to the Christians Called Brethren.'“ G. Morrish, 24, Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row

Abraham: Genesis 24

It is not my purpose to dwell at length on the call of Bethuel's daughter to be the bride of Isaac, however attractive the subject may be, but would only point out in passing the striking propriety that here, after the death of Sarah, we should have the introduction of Rebekah. He who is at all instructed in the ways of God recognizes in the latter the bride for the risen Son and Heir of all things, and this after the figure of the covenant of promise in Sarah has passed away. Till the Jews had refused the fresh summons of God to own their Messiah, now risen and glorified, there could be fittingly no bringing in of the Gentiles—no formation of a heavenly bride, the body of a heavenly Christ. Not that the tale of Rebekah opens out the mystery which was reserved hidden in God for the Apostle Paul to reveal to us, itself revealed not to the Old Testament writers, but to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This however does not hinder, but rather help, us, now that the secret is revealed, to understand the type of Rebekah as far as it goes; but it may be noticed that it does not set out either of the two great parts of the mystery—first, Christ, the Head of all things, heavenly and earthly; secondly, the church, in which Jewish and Gentile distinctions disappear, united to Him as His body in that universal supremacy, conscious of the relationship even while here on earth by the Holy Ghost sent down from on high. The type fits in with all, but cannot be said to reveal it.
My task now is to say a little of Abraham's part in what is here recorded. “And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and Jehovah had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: and I will make thee swear by Jehovah, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou earnest? And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. The Jehovah God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.” (Vers. 19.)
In all this the Father's purpose seems clearly foreshown; a new thing was in progress—a bride to be fetched for His Son. None but the most careless can forbear to see the great and unusual solemnity of the transaction. Thus his trusty Eliezer is employed “that ruled over all he had,” who aptly prefigures the place, of service which the Holy Spirit is pleased now to take in executing the purpose of God as to the church in this world. In no other case, not of Genesis only but of all the Old Testament, do we find an oath introduced, the purport of which is so urged again and again. The subject of it too is no less to be observed. A wife must on no account be taken for Isaac from the daughters of Canaan. She must be sought from the country and kin out of which the father of the faithful had himself been called. Angels are not called, fallen or unfallen: sovereign grace chooses from the world. But there is another provision no less insisted on—the risen son must on no account be brought again to the world for calling his bride. It is the Holy Ghost who accomplishes this work, not the Bridegroom. The Spirit is sent down from heaven to preach the gospel, and so to effect the formation of the church. The risen Bridegroom abides exclusively in heaven, while the call proceeds. Most impressively does Abraham admonish us in type of what moment it is to see that Christ has nothing but a heavenly relation to the church, and in absolute separation from the world.
How true this is in Christ for the Christian! “We all with open face beholding [or reflecting] the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Lord the Spirit.” “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” So our Lord Himself said (John 16), the Comforter, on coming, should “convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe on me; of righteousness, because I go away to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” The righteous One was cast out by the unjust and lawless world, but God the Father has accepted and exalted Him at His right hand. This is the righteousness of God in its heavenly aspect; and there we know Him, not as the Messiah reigning on earth, but as the rejected One exalted in heaven. He is in no sense of the world; and Christians are not even as He is not. Nay, more, “As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly; and as we have borne the image of the earthy, so shall we also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor. 15) The practice depends on the principle: the position of Christ determines the walk, as well as the spirit, of the Christian. Rebekah was to have Isaac in Canaan before her; there only was to think of him. On no account—not even to win his bride—must the bridegroom leave his place, save only to receive her to himself at the end. Isaac stays in Canaan and there only is known, while she is being led from her father's house, across the desert, by trusty Eliezer.
We may notice next the place which prayer receives in the servant, and this, not through pressure of trial as in Jacob, but in giving (as here) character to the walk of faith. “And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water, at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said, Ο Jehovah God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: and let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master.” (Vers. 10-14.)
So is it with the Christian in the world. “We walk by faith, not by sight.” “Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Intercourse is established between the believer and God. He knows whom he has believed. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we seek anything according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to, look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. And the man wondering at her, held his peace, to wit whether Jehovah had made his journey prosperous or not.” (Vers. 15-21.)
Thus faith is kept in constant happy exercise. It is the work of the Spirit in man, especially now that redemption is known. Conscience is at rest, and the affections are free.
But there is more than prayer which distinguishes the Christian and the church. The power of the Spirit finds ground of thanksgiving, as well as of prayer and supplication. It is indeed the hour when the true worshippers worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him, and the figure of this we find here. “And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; and said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in? And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. She moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped Jehovah. And he said, Blessed be Jehovah God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, Jehovah led me to the house of my master's brethren.” (Vers. 22-27.)
That which came forth from God in guidance goes forth to Him in praise, a still more evident characteristic of the Christian. If we live in the Spirit we should walk as well as worship in the Spirit.
Along with this difficulties disappear. As the Lord directs, so He opens the door and blesses. There is the comfort of this—the comfort of knowing that it is His own hand that does all. Whatever may be the hindrances, the mission of the Spirit is accomplished. It stands not in persuadable words of man's wisdom, but in the power of God. No doubt there are gifts which accompany from the first the message of the witness, and array the bride, but the work is eminently one of faith and not of human influence. And hence it looks for, and has, the blessing of the Lord.
"And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things. And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban; and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. And it came to pass, when he saw the earrings and bracelets upon his sister's hands, and When he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man: and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well. And he said, Come in, thou blessed of Jehovah; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels. And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him. And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on. And he said, I am Abraham's servant. And Jehovah hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great; and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath. And my master made me swear, raying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell; but thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son. And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. And he said unto me, Jehovah, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house: then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath. And I came this day unto the well, and said, Ο Jehovah God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little of thy pitcher to drink; and she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom Jehovah hath appointed out for my master's son. And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee. And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and: I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels, drink also. And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands. And I bowed down my head, and worshipped Jehovah, and blessed Jehovah God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter unto his son. And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me: that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left. Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from Jehovah: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as Jehovah hath spoken. And it came to pass that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped Jehovah, bowing himself to the earth. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.” (Vers. 28-53)
Lastly it is the work of the Spirit to give, and keep up, and strengthen the desire of being with Christ—of His coming—whatever communion of saints may be enjoyed here. “And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master. And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing Jehovah hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master. And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.” (Vers. 54-58.)
So, in the Revelation, the Spirit and the bride say, Come, when Christ presents Himself as the bright, the morning, star. It is the cry, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him,” which awakens the slumbering virgins at midnight. It is this which recalls the saints now, as they were called at the first, to go out to meet the Bridegroom. “And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her. nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men. And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi: for he dwelt in the south country. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: And he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.” (Vers. 59-67.)
So will it be with the heavenly bride. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, With the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up, together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The Father's purpose shall not fail of accomplishment, and all heaven shall rejoice and give honor to Him, “for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."

Notes on John 7:32-39

The religious leaders are disturbed at any impression made on the multitude and show their fear as well as their enmity. They dislike the truth they did not themselves possess and would gladly get rid of Him who told it out. “The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things about him, and the high priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize him. Then said Jesus, Yet a little while am I with you, and I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and not find; and where I am, ye cannot come.” (Vers. 32- 34.) The Lord speaks with a solemn calmness. All efforts to apprehend Him would be vain till the appointed moment; nor need they hurry. It was but a little while for Him to be with them: then He is going to His Father. So it is ever in this Gospel. It is no question of the rejection of men nor of the Jews despising Him, though both were true and fully set out by the synoptic evangelists; but here the Spirit shows us One fully conscious of where He was going, and so speaking to all, if any by grace might believe and see God's glory in Him. Soon unbelief would seek and not find Him. What does the world know of the Father? Heaven is to it more dreary than the earth. “Where I am, ye cannot come;” nor would they if they could. Nothing is so repulsive to a sinner as the light, presence, and glory of God.
“The Jews therefore said unto each other, Where is this [man] about to go that we shall not find him? Is he about to go unto the dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What is this word which he said, Ye shall seek me and not find; and where I am, ye cannot come?” (Vers. 35, 36.) It was blindness indeed; nor is any darkness so dense as that of unbelief. But it is striking that what the unbelieving pride of the Jew deemed incredible is what God has made true of Christ exalted to His right hand. It is not more certain that He went on high than that He came and preached peace to the Gentiles that were far off and peace to them that were nigh (Jews), giving both access by one Spirit to the Father. The dispersed among the Greeks, are those that Peter shows to have found in Him the object of their faith, believing on Jesus in the Father's house as they believed on God; and Paul no less clearly shows that He is teaching the Greeks. To those that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God's power and God's wisdom—Christ crucified, let others count it an offense or foolishness. But He is none the less the Lord of glory, which none of the princes of this age knew: had they known, they would not have crucified Him. And so it was that scripture was verified, man humbled, and God glorified; even as those that dwelt in Jerusalem and their rulers, not knowing Him nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath, fulfilled them by their judgment of Him. And now is God pleased to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, “which is Christ among you the hope of glory.” He is lost meanwhile to the Jew, who seeking Him not in faith cannot find Him nor come where He is, for He is in heaven and they given up more and more to an earthly mind, groveling after filthy lucre.
But the Faithful Witness speaks. “Now in the last, the great, day of the feast Jesus stood and cried, If any one thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, even as the scripture said, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this said he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were about to receive, for [the] Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Vers. 37-39.)
It is not the new birth, but the Holy Ghost in power of testimony, rather than of worship. Thus is it distinguished not merely from John 3 but also from chapter 4, even though He be given at the same time to be a fountain of living water springing up to eternal life within the believer and rivers of living water flowing out, which suppose the soul already born afresh. It is not here however communion with the Father and the Son in the energy of the Spirit which goes upward in adoration, but the same Spirit going outward to refresh largely the weary and parched in the wilderness from the inmost affections of the believer. Both figures are strikingly true, but they are different though enjoyed by the same individual. They are the characteristic power and privilege of the Christian, not only the divine life but this in the power of the Spirit going up to its source in praise or flowing out actually in testimony to Christ in a dry and thirsty land. Here it is the glorified man who is the object, as in chapter 4 the Son of God is the giver.
Even so there is the most careful guard against coming to the Lord merely for teaching as a scholar or for material as a teacher: both in divine things attitudes of peril to the soul. “If any one thirsty let him come unto me and drink” It is the heart met in its own need, not men invited to draw for others, but to drink for themselves; and thus it is they safely and best learn so as to teach others also. “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Such is the general testimony of Old Testament scriptures; and so the Lord urges even more distinctly. But this follows not only the coming but the glorification of Jesus founded on His work. Only then could the streams flow thus abundantly from “the inward parts,” truth being there already and God on His part perfectly glorified in the cross. The Holy Spirit could act freely and in power, on the owned ruin of the first, to the glory of Him who is at God's hand and in those who are His for a little while in a dry and thirsty land where otherwise no water is. But now to His praise whom the Spirit is here to glorify water is given, not alone the fountain to refresh within, but rivers to flow out. The Israelites never rose to this, even in figure. They drank of water from the rock, and afterward, when the rod of priestly power had budded, the rock was but to be spoken to in order to yield abundantly. But no Israelite, not even a Moses and Aaron, could be the channel of living water, as every believer now; and this, let it be repeated, no premium on the Christian, but solely in witness of God's delight in Christ and appreciation of His work, wherein as He is, so are we in this world.
The feast, and the day of it so noted, are not without deep significance. It was not Pentecost as might be thought natural in view of the gift of the Spirit, but Tabernacles. Indeed if the feast of weeks was ever the epoch of any acts or discourses of our Lord in the fourth Gospel, it is carefully kept out of sight, and this because it falls within the province of Paul rather than of John whose characteristic truth is the revelation of God and of the Father in the man Christ Jesus on earth, not the Head of the body on high. It is not therefore the Spirit baptizing into one body which is here treated but power of testimony, and this from the most intimate enjoyment of the soul, through that Spirit who comes from Jesus glorified. We are not in heaven yet but passing through the wilderness. The day of glory is not come, but He who died in atonement is in glory, and thence sends down the Spirit on us who are here that we may have a divine association with Him there. What could give such force to testimony? There is more than the brightest hope; for the Spirit is a present link with Him who is on high; yet is there all the power of hope bearing us onward and above surrounding circumstances, for the glory itself does not yet appear, though He who will introduce it is already in it, its center and in its highest sphere. His hour will come to show Himself to the world; meanwhile we are in the secret of His exaltation and waiting for His display, while we have the Holy Ghost sent down by Him from that glory which He gives us to know and so much the more to fee] the dreary desert through which we pass. This is not our rest; it is polluted; and here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. But we are awaiting, not righteousness nor the Spirit of glory, but through the Spirit by faith the hope of righteousness (that is, the glory of God). And He who is not only in the glory, the Head and Heir of all things, but will shortly come to bring us like Himself there, gives us the Spirit as rivers of living water to fill us inwardly and to flow abroad, let the wilderness be ever so parched.
I do not know a stronger expression of the intimacy of the Spirit's indwelling in us as contrasted with His working of old even though by saints. But here there is supposed such a deep intermingling with the inner man's affections and thoughts as is eminently characteristic of the Christian's possession of the Spirit, and the more remarkably because it is in view of a rich outflow of testimony to Christ on high. Hence there could be no such privilege till Jesus was glorified consequent on His glorifying of God morally by the death of the cross.
The phraseology of verse 39, though at first it may sound strange, is strictly accurate and suitable. The Spirit is beyond doubt a person, but He is viewed here as the characterizing fact of a state not yet in being. Hence it is πνεῦμα without the article. Again it is ἧν not ἐγένετο. He never began to exist, for His being was divine and eternal. But it was not yet a fact for man on earth. At Pentecost He was sent down from heaven. Compare Acts 19, where the question was, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? and the answer is, We did not even hear if the Holy Spirit was. The meaning is not at all as to His existence but His baptism, of which John the Baptist had testified to his disciples.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 10:1-11

The apostle had warned the Corinthians against carelessness and self-indulgence, instancing himself as one who must be a reprobate if he preached without keeping the body under. He now makes a pointed application of Israelitish history in scripture to clench the exhortation.
"For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they were drinking of a spiritual attendant rock (and the rock was Christ); but in the most of them God had no pleasure, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. But these things happened [as] types of us, that we should not be lusters after evil things, even as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, even as some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, even as some of them committed, and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand. Neither let us tempt the Lord, even as some of them tempted, and were perishing by the serpents. Neither murmur ye, according as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them typically, and were written for our admonition, unto whom the ends of the ages have reached.” (Vers. 1-11)
Israel are adduced as a warning to those who professed Christ. Did the Corinthians boast of their privileges and endowments? They are here shown how little security such institutions as baptism and the Lord's supper confer on those who rest in them. “For [this is the true reading, γάρ, not δέ, now, or moreover] I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” It was not only that preachers were in danger, but professors—not some, but all. Witness the ancient people of God, who similarly trusted not in God but in His acts and ordinances, their own special favors; and this from the beginning, not in days of coldness and deadness. So ready is the heart of unbelief to depart from the living God. To presume on institutions of the Lord, initiatory or even continuous, is fatal. A recent commentator regarded this passage as an inspired protest against those who, whether as individuals or sects, would lower the dignity of sacraments, or deny their necessity. To my mind the aim seems wholly different, to guard those who were baptized, and joined in the Lord's supper, from the illusion that all was therefore right and safe, that such might not grievously sin and miserably perish. The apostle solemnly disproves the superstitious and Antinomian error that men must have life because they partake of these rites. Not so; they were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, they might all therefore be said to be there and then baptized to Moses; but what was the end? It is impossible however to suppose here an outward professing mass, who had the initiatory privilege, and no more; for he takes particular pains to show that they “did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink [ἔπιον] the same spiritual drink; for they were drinking [ἔπινον] of a spiritual attendant rock (and the rock was Christ)."
Here we have figuratively the highest outward sign, that which answers to the Lord's supper, and not to baptism only. But the express point is to deny that there was necessarily life in the participants, still less efficacy in the signs. It is really the importance of the holy walk of faith in those who partook that the apostle is pressing, not at all to cry up the sacraments, still less to affirm the necessity of what nobody thought of denying.
But we must also beware of a mistaken notion which has misled most Protestants, some more partially, others completely, but all with inconsistency enough. They assume that by the expression, “all our fathers,” the Christian church is regarded as a continuation of the Jewish, and the believer as the true descendant of Abraham. Whatever is taught elsewhere under certain limits, it is plain that here the apostle teaches nothing of the sort. “For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that all our fathers,” &c, maintains the distinction which is sought to be got rid of. There is no fusion of the Jews of the past with the Gentiles who now believed. The same distinction is maintained in Ephesians and in Galatians. Within the church and in Christ the difference vanishes. There is oneness in Him, and such is the effect of the Spirit's baptism, who forms the one body. But it is not true retrospectively, as is commonly supposed, and drawn unintelligently from, such words as these.
Again, even so sensible a writer fell into the kindred but yet grosser view, that the apostle, by the words “the same,” identifies the sacraments of the old and of the new economies. “It is a well known dogma of the schoolmen, that the sacraments of the ancient law were emblems of grace, but ours confer it. This passage is admirably suited to refute that error, for it shows that the reality of the sacrament was presented to the ancient people of God no less than to us. It is therefore a base fancy of the Sorbonists, that the holy father? under the law had the signs without the reality. I grant, indeed, that the efficacy of the signs is furnished to us at once more clearly and more abundantly from the time of Christ's manifestation in the flesh than it was possessed by the fathers.....Some explain it to mean that the Israelites ate the same meat together among themselves, and do not wish us to understand that there is a comparison between us and them; but these do not consider Paul's object. For what does he mean to say here, but that the ancient people of God were honored with the same benefits with us, and were partakers of the same sacraments, that we might not, from confiding in any peculiar privilege, imagine that we would be exempted from the punishment which they endured?"
That the apostle is drawing an analogy between Israel and Christians is plain; but the very language employed, that their things were “types” or figures of us, should have prevented the identification either of them and us, or of the facts that resemble baptism and the Lord's supper more or less. Doubtless the doctors of the Sorbonne were wrong in virtually denying quickening faith to the fathers under the law; but Calvin is even more culpably wrong, if deluded by their error of saving sacraments now, he conceives that the signs under the law were thus efficacious also. Christ alone, received by faith, has quickening power, through the Holy Spirit, either of old or now; but now there is accomplishment, as then there was only promise. Then was only pretermission of sins; now remission, and life more abundantly, and the gift of the Spirit. This is a vast deal more than a difference in degree only, as so many Protestants dream, not to speak of Popish darkness; but their legalism, where they are not the victims of rationalism, deprives them of perception as well as power. The veil is on their eyes, though not on their hearts.
As a question of interpretation, it is evident that by all eating the same spiritual meat the apostle is speaking of the fathers, not of the Corinthians or other Christians, the point of warning and instruction being, that in the most of them God took no pleasure, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. He is speaking therefore in these verses solely of Israel, and in no way predicating the sameness of their manna and water with our signs of Christ's death, or what men call the sacraments. The sense then is, not that they were in the very same condition with us, or had the same sacraments with us, but that, though they all partook of the same spiritual meat and drink, in the most of them God had no pleasure. Title as God's people, and participation in sacred privileges, which are expressly made like to the two institutions so familiar to us in Christendom, did not save the mass from being overthrown, by divine judgments, in the wilderness.
Next the apostle shows us how the things that happened in their case are “types of us (ver. 6), that we should not be lusters after evil things, even as they also lusted.” This is general; but those things are successively specified which were perilous to the Corinthians. “Neither be idolaters, even as some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” There was, in the first place, a yielding to fleshly gratification, then pleasurable excitement followed, which told the result one sees in the scripture cited—the judgment. Were not the Corinthians in danger? “Neither let us commit fornication, even as some of them committed fornication, and fell in one day twenty-three thousand,” In the history (Num. 26) where twenty-four thousand are said to have died in the plague, it is not said “in one day,” as here, where we hear of a thousand less. To me such a difference implies the greatest accuracy, nor have I named all the points of distinction which deserve the thoughtful reader's consideration, small as the matter may seem, and to some grave men only a question of general numbers on either side of the precise amount. “Neither let us tempt the Lord, even as some of them tempted, and were perishing by the serpents” To tempt was to doubt His presence and action on their behalf, as Israel, not only “ten times” (Num. 14), but also just before Jehovah sent fiery serpents to cut them off. “Neither murmur, even as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer.” This, if it be not more general, seems to allude to the gainsaying of Korah and his company, which so excited the evil tongue in Israel.
“Now these things happened to them typically, and were written for our admonition, unto whom the ends of the ages have reached.” There cannot be a more important canon for our intelligent and profitable reading of these Old Testament oracles. The facts happened to them, but they were divinely cast in systematical figures, or forms of truth, for admonishing us who find ourselves at be critical a juncture of the world's history. They contain therefore far more than moral lessons, however weighty. They do disclose man's heart, and let out God's mind and affections but they have the larger and deeper instruction of events which illustrate immense principles, such as sovereign grace, on the one hand, and pure law on the other, with a mingled system of government on legal ground, while mercy and goodness availed through a mediator, which came in when the people worshipped a calf at Horeb. There is thus an orderly, as well as prophetic, character in the way these incidents are presented, which, when lit up with the light of Christ and His redemption and the truth now revealed, prove their inspiration in a self-evident way to him who has the teaching of the Holy Ghost. Israel only witnessed the facts, and the writer was enabled, by the Spirit of God, to record them in an order which was far beyond his own thoughts, or the intelligence of any before redemption; but now that this mighty work of God is accomplished, their figurative meaning stands out in the fullness of a wide system, and with a depth which reveals God, not man, as the true Author. Be it our happiness not only to know but to do the truth!

The Saviour and the Sinner

Luke 7:29-50
This is one of the passages found here and there in scripture which bring out in strong relief the grace of God, and what is in man's heart too.
Here we get the Pharisee, this poor sinner, and the Lord Himself. We see these three characters, these three hearts all together: the man righteous in his own eyes; a person outwardly in wickedness; and then the heart of God, and the way in which He looks at and judges these two cases.
What precedes in the history is this. John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to ask, “Art thou he that should come; or look we for another?” (ver. 19), and this gives occasion to the Lord to speak of God's ways and dealings, the principles of which are of all importance to us. John had come with his solemn testimony, but the conscience did not bow to it. Then came the gracious testimony of Christ, but the heart was not moved by it. “But wisdom is justified of all her children.” God's ways, whether in the testimony of John the Baptist, or in that of the Lord Jesus, are justified by the children of wisdom. The Pharisee is here, and the poor sinner: then comes the question which is the child of wisdom.
We get a most important principle here: these publicans and sinners “justified God” both in the testimony of John, and in that of the gospel. When we know what we are as sinners, we justify God, never ourselves; and then in His ways with us He justifies us. The moment we begin to justify ourselves, it is only the utter darkness of the human heart.
We find these two testimonies. John the Baptist came requiring fruit, calling to repentance: the publicans and sinners justified God in this: the ax was laid at the root of the trees, these poor sinners acknowledged it and repented: they justified God. The first good fruit that is produced is always the acknowledgment that we produce bad fruit.
Then came the blessed Lord, telling of sovereign grace that rose above all their sins; they justified God in this too. The man that justifies God in condemning him most thankfully justifies God in sending His Son to save him. Those who owned the truth of God's judgment, and that they deserved it, confess their sins. (Matt. 3:6.) Are we all willing to justify God in condemning us?
John was so strict he would not even eat with any one; he could have nothing to say to these sinners: that was the reason they said, “he hath a devil."
“There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10.) This is plain enough; the “great white throne” will not make it plainer. “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rom. 3:19.) This is God's testimony, and in the gospel of grace too.
Now we see around us numbers of religious people, going on decently and reverently; but their delight• is not in God. Take such a person, and see where his heart is; leave a man alone three or four hours, and he thinks of his cares, game, pleasures, never of Christ. Christ has no place at all in his heart.
We all have the idea that we shall be happy in heaven; so we shall, perfectly, blessedly happy. But put the natural man there, and he would get out as quickly as ever he could: there is nothing above he would like. When the blessed Lord came down in grace, man would not have Him.
If you take a false religion, you never find a man ashamed of it; you never see this among Mahometans, heathen, or even in corrupt Christianity. Take a Christian, a real Christian, is he not ashamed to confess Christ before men? He is ashamed of himself for it, surely. You never find a person ashamed of a false religion, but you find Christians ashamed of the true. Take man as man, and every mouth is stopped. Do we justify God in condemning us? The child of wisdom says, 'It is true, I deserve to be cut down: I am a child of wrath; I justify God!' When that is the case at once we are thankful for grace. When I am personally convinced that I deserve condemnation, I say, 'I justify God in the grace that rises up above all my sins: I do not justify myself.'
The Son of man came in grace carrying the testimony of goodness wherever there was a poor sinner who would receive Him. God's wisdom in this double way is justified. Wherever there is truth in the inward parts, we justify God.
Then as to the fact of the history we find who this child of wisdom was. We see it was not the Pharisee who set up to have a righteousness for God. The woman justified God's testimony by John (I do not mean in fact, but it was the same testimony), she acknowledged her condemnation, but she justified God too in another way.
We cannot pretend to be righteous (I do not speak of what grace produces, but of the natural man), we do not love our neighbor as ourselves, we are not troubled if our neighbor's house is burned down as if it were our own. If I take the law of God, we may deceive ourselves about loving God with all our hearts, but a man must be a dishonest man if he says he loves his neighbor as himself.
Paul could say of himself, “Touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless” (Phil. 3:6), but the moment the law said, “Thou shalt not lust,” it might as well say, “Thou shalt not be a man.” If I take the law, you see it is most useful; it probes the heart and brings the consciousness that we have not kept it. Take all of you here this evening; God has said, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Can any of you say He is mistaken? It is perfectly true that, unless we are probed, we are all disposed to have a good opinion of ourselves; we are all disposed to be Pharisees. When a man is in this state, Christ is not the object of his heart at all: he calls himself a Christian, but, if he is honest, he will have to acknowledge that Christ has no place in his heart.
In this wonderful history in Luke 7 we get these three hearts unveiled: the man's heart, not that of an open profligate sinner; the heart of the woman who was such; and God's heart. We see too who was the child of wisdom.
The Pharisee, who is curious to know about Christ, asks Him to dinner, but he gives Him no water for His feet, and no oil. He is curious to know this preacher, and he thinks himself perfectly competent to judge about religion. The Lord noticed it all. There into this fine house the woman comes confounded as to her sins, but her heart fixed by what is in Jesus, her whole heart going out to the blessed One. The Pharisee sees the woman washing the Lord's feet with tears, and anointing them with ointment, and he says within himself, ‘That is no prophet.' When the conscience is reached, it is under judgment; but when it is not reached, a man thinks he is perfectly competent to judge whether God is right or wrong. “And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him. Thou hast rightly judged.” He says to Simon, you are right, showing that He was more than a prophet. “Seest thou this woman?” Her whole heart is upon me. We see too a person who has the Lord Himself in his house, and he is settling that He could not be a prophet! Where the conscience is exercised, it never judges, but it is judged. We all have a natural conscience, that is perfectly true. God took care man should have that, but the intellect of man knows nothing of the things of God. If my intellect could measure God, I must then be the master of my subject. If I understand mathematics, I am master of that subject; if my mind were capable of judging of God my mind would be the master of God. When conscience awakes and says,” Thou art the man,” you have been sinning against God, there is no attempt then to judge. All true knowledge of God comes in through the conscience. Nothing but faith, which is the eye of the conscience, can put man in his right place with God. God brings me to justify Him: He is a holy God, I am not holy. That is the way the knowledge of God comes in. God is love: that is true of course, but this is the way true knowledge of Him comes. The Pharisee thought he was all right, but in the presence of the Lord in grace he settled that He was no prophet. The mind of man is pitch darkness when we justify ourselves, not God. When we turn to the poor woman, we get owning in the fullest way her sinfulness, confounded by it; but what had she found in Christ? What does Christ mean? Who was He? What brought Him here? Was it our wishing, our asking? We rejected and crucified Him when He came. I find, beloved friends, God acting when man was an utter sinner, all mouths stopped, then God manifest in flesh comes down amongst men. What brought Him down? I see in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, and more fully still in His death, that “God so loved the world.” This love of God had come into the world so that sinners could look and trust Him, while owning their sins.
The two names of God which express what He essentially is are light and love, light which is the purest thing we can conceive, and love. You see the law did not reveal God. It gave a perfect rule for the children of Adam, but Christ is not that (I do not say that He is not a model for Christians): but He is God Himself come into this world as light and love, showing me my sins because He is light. Show me any society you please where men are enjoying themselves, bring in Christ, and this spoils it all.
But then if God is light, He is love too. When God has shown me! as light, all that I am, I find I am in the presence of the perfect love which brought Him here, and now instead of fancying I can meet the judgment, I have God Himself here showing me what I am. The heart of this poor woman and the heart of God perfectly met. “God is light,” and the woman had not a word to say for herself, but God is also love, and so she goes into the Pharisee's house. The light and the love manifested in God are both revealed to this woman's heart; the light showed her that she was, an utter sinner; the love was what brought her there. She did not yet know that she was forgiven, but there was this blessed revelation of God which required nothing from her, but which was for her just what she wanted. Christ was God in this world come to win back the confidence of man's heart to God. I get this blessed One in this world, and He says, 'Are you ashamed to show yourself to a decent person? Well, come to me.' He was here in this world, using the holiness that could not be defiled, to carry the perfectness of His love to every poor sinner. We see a perfect example of this in the poor leper of Matt. 8:14. If a man touched a leper he must be put out according to the law. Well this poor leper saw the power that was in Christ, but he did not know His heart, and he says, “If thou wilt thou canst make me clean,” then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched him. I find the blessed Lord using the holiness that could not be soiled, that He might touch man in his sins! When my heart has seen that, I have got both truth and grace, truth in the knowledge that I am a sinner, and grace in Christ. The poor leper might have said, 'I am vile, not fit to show myself to God or man, but I find One who can touch me,'
Christ is God come down to sinners in their sins. The law could only say, “If you do not do this, you are cursed.” Christ comes to these sinners, and He shows us what we are; but He shows us also what He is—love, that brought Him down to us as we are, the vilest, the most willful, sinners. Have not you committed sins, all of you? Well, how much sin will shut you out of heaven? Why did you sin? Because you liked it, your conscience tells you so. You cannot say to me, “You are a big sinner, and I am a little one.” Suppose you have committed ten sins, and I eleven, then am I to be shut out, and you let in? If I find two crab trees, one bearing one crab, and the other one hundred, I say the one is a crab as well as the other. How many sins had Adam committed when he was driven out of paradise? One. That one sin proved his distrust of God, and his confidence in Satan. One crab proves the tree. It is quite true that some are living in flagrant sin, like the poor woman: it would be well if they were like her here. There is no good in sin but there is good in being convinced of it, as she was. God must deal with all sin, and this is what He does. If you have not found Christ, if you have not been washed in the blood of the Lamb, you are under judgment.
The woman could not talk about theology, but she has found God, and what is in God's heart.
The Lord could say to the Pharisee, “You are perfectly dark as to your own heart and as to God's heart. If you gave no water for my feet, this woman has washed them with tears; if you gave me no kiss, she has not ceased to kiss my feet. Everything she had she has given me. You had the Lord in your house, and you did not know it."
Then He says of the woman, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little,” She had really met God's heart as expressed in Christ, though she could not explain how it was: light was in her heart, love too, and they met. Why do I go to the cross? God manifests there His righteousness against sin, and His love to the sinner, and I justify God in His blessed love: as a child of wisdom, I justify wisdom.
Then we get Christ's answer to the woman's faith: “Thy sins are forgiven.” She did not know it when she came in, but she loved Christ, she trusted Christ; and now the sins are all gone. He said to her—it was not a mere doctrine in the air, but He gives her the comfort of it— “Thy sins are forgiven.” God has sent love and light here, out He has sent forgiveness here also, “according to the riches of his grace,” not narrowly, closely, measuring our need. He pronounces this judgment upon her, “Thy sins are forgiven,” as He did to the thief, who was fit to go to paradise, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The dying robber was bearing the fruit of his ways before man, but Christ was bearing it before God, and therefore he was a fit companion for Christ in paradise. This is true, of every believer. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Col. 1:12.) “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14.) This sanctification is entirely uninterrupted, because Christ gives it perfection.
People call in question what the Lord has said to the woman, “Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” What is the good of preaching the remission of sins, if you do not believe it? Do you think, when God calls you by His grace, that He means you to be happy with Him or not? If we do not know we are forgiven, it is impossible to be happy. John, writing to all Christians, says, “I write unto you, children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.” (1 John 2:12.) You will not find after the day of Pentecost unforgiven sins in a believer. Did Christ die for half my sins? I believe Heb. 10, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Though I deserve death and condemnation, I believe that Christ, in the fullest grace, has taken my place, and He did not sit down till the work was perfectly finished. If the work that puts away your sins has not been done perfectly, when is it to be done? Can Christ die over again? Can another Christ come and die? “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” Christ cannot shed His blood over again, but the work by which He put away our sin never loses its value in the presence of God.
All through the Gospels we see that it is the soul that clings to Christ, touched by His love and grace, that learns most: that is where light and understanding come in, and so here the first full testimony of the gospel is given to this woman— “Thy sins are forgiven?” Did He deceive her? “Thy faith hath saved thee” —a blessed world If you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are saved. What did He come for, but “to seek and to save that which was lost?” It is an accomplished work that can never be repeated. There is no veil now: we are brought into God's presence by Christ's work. If our sins were as scarlet, they are now as white as snow, because this work of Christ, perfectly accomplished, puts me before God in the value of it.
Mark another thing. He says to the woman, “Go in peace.” “Peace I leave with you.” Are you before God in the perfect peace He was in? He has made peace by the blood of His cross. He met God there on the cross, and the testimony of the gospel is that of a finished work. Now, beloved friends, remember the Lord's love takes all pains that He might do this for us. His sweat was as it were great drops of blood, when He was only thinking of the cup He was about to drink.
I justify God in condemning me, but I justify Him also in saving me. He is righteous and holy, and He could not bear the sins; but He is love too, so He put away the sins. Whatever I do now is to be done in the name of Jesus; I am called to walk like a child of God. All duties flow according to the place we are in: duties cannot exist till we are in the place to which they belong. How can I have a child's affections if I am not sure if I am a child? You must be a Christian before you can have Christian duties. We had duties as men, but we are lost on that ground.
Be assured of this, that scripture is perfectly plain on the point that we know our relationship with God. We own the judgment that was due to us, but we know the relationship in which we are. “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” This is the effect of the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Am I to doubt the value of Christ's blood shedding? Does the Holy Ghost make me doubt? God says, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” I do not doubt it: the Spirit cries, “Abba, Father.” Ought I to doubt it? We shall go through exercises—the deeper the better; but the love of God has been revealed, and the fact is that I was a poor sinner, but here this blessed One came into the world when I was such, and died for me when I was such. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all engaged in this work.
Have your hearts been opened to see the unutterable love in the Son of God coming to die for you, and that God has accepted this work? We shall have conflict with ourselves surely, conflict with Satan and with the world; but we are in perfect peace with God. God calls us to own our sinfulness, but to know His love. The Lord grant, if this is not yet your case, that you may submit yourselves to God's righteousness.
"Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

Elements of Prophecy: 10. The General Design of the Apocalypse

From early times scarce any consent has been more general than to view the Revelation as a comprehensive prophecy which extends from the days of the apostle to the end of time. A few, chiefly since the Reformation, would confine most of it to the fall of Jerusalem; a few more began to apply it to the end of the age, as the early fathers did. It seems desirable however to examine the question afresh with all brevity. There can be no doubt that faith in the future application has spread much of late years. It is the more incumbent therefore to examine what is urged by such as plead for the more extensive range of the prophecy throughout the times of the Gentiles since the days of the apostle. The objections usually pressed against historicalism appear to me of little weight.
I. The variety and even discordance of the popular expositors, I have already allowed to be a feeble disproof. The truth might be in a few without being apprehended by most or even by all true Christians. Spirituality of mind is needed to discern truth, nor is it difficult to muster objections to that which is most certain. How many saints are cloudy in their views even of grace as well as righteousness! How many fail to see intelligently the return and the kingdom of our Lord Jesus! Besides, the variety is not small among the futurists themselves. To be distracted by such clashing of opinions on either side is really to give up certainty as to all truth.
II. The adherence to a literal interpretation is necessarily absurd where the language of the book is beyond doubt figurative or symbolic. Now of all books of scripture, certainly in the New Testament, none so abounds in symbols as the Revelation. To insist upon a rigid literalism here must end in continual straining, disappointment, and error.
III. The same exaggeration is apt to appear in looking for events of a character wholly transcending the past. That such wonders do appear in certain parts of the Revelation is clear. It is unfounded to expect them everywhere.
IV. The attempt, not to run merely a parallel, but to assume identity between the prophecy on the mount and the seals, &c, of the Revelation, is unfounded. An analogy may be allowed, but no more. Such reasoning altogether fails to fix the time when the Revelation will be fulfilled.
But there are weightier grounds of a wholly different nature which may be now advanced. The Lord Himself in opening the book to John distinguishes “the things which are” from “those which must be hereafter” (or “after these things"). “The things which are” comprise the messages to the seven churches. It is the church period. “The things which shall be after these” are the visions of God's dealings and judgments on man's ways in the world which follow that period till the end of all things. But “the things which are” maybe viewed in two ways. They are either the churches viewed exclusively in John's time, and hence now past—after which would begin to apply the prophetic visions of the rest of the book. In this point of view the historical school of interpretation ought not to be discarded as untrue or unprofitable. On the contrary I believe that God was pleased to use the book for the comfort of His saints both in their early trials from the hostility of heathen Rome and in mediaeval as well as later times from the persecutions of Babylon, the meretricious antichurch of the Apocalypse. But in this point of view the prophetic vision must be allowed to be vague; and no wonder should be felt that discord abounds among the interpreters.
But there is a second point from which we may view “the things that are,” or the messages to the seven churches. They have a prolonged and successive application whilst God owns anything of a church condition on earth. This He clearly does as yet; and according to this view chapters 2, 3, of the Revelation give the things that are still, and are not passed but rather fulfilling before our eyes. Till they are past, “the things which must be after these” cannot even begin to be accomplished. Then only will commence the accomplishment of the prophetic visions in their full sense and application to the crisis which closes this age and introduces the kingdom. Of these seven, the first indicates the declension from first love which characterized the day when John saw the visions of the book; the second, the outbreak of heathen persecution which followed not long after; the third, the exaltation of the church in the empire under Constantine and his successors. Thyatira is marked by more tokens than one which prove that this state, which was fully out in mediaeval times, is the first of those which thenceforward go on not merely successively but contemporaneously from their rise to the Lord's coming. As Popery, though far from Popery alone, was therein found, so Sardis presents Protestantism; as Philadelphia, the reviving not only of the brotherhood with its love but of separateness to Christ's name and word, while waiting for Him, so Laodicea concludes the seven with the self-complacent latitudinarianism of our day which takes shape and position more and more as time goes on.
But after these it is all-important to the understanding of the general scope and design of the Revelation to see that there is nothing of a church character recognized in the book. “The things that are” will be then terminated. An entirely new state of things follows, visions chiefly of judgments on earth, saints in suffering, with testimonies and warnings from God, but never in any instance assemblies or churches here below.
Indeed the case is far stronger than this. For “the things which must be after these things” (that is, after the church-state) open with a prefatory scene of the deepest interest in heaven, wherein is seen round the throne of God (which is neither that of grace as now, nor that of millennial glory, but of a judicial character suited to a transitional space between the two, the end of the age) the symbolic circle of the crowned elders in heaven, and this in their full complement, which is never added to till the heavenly hosts follow Christ from heaven when the day of Jehovah dawns on the earth and the reign for a thousand years is begun. That is, the elders thus seen above show us the heavenly saints translated and enthroned round the throne of God, evidently corroborating and following up the previous fact that the church-state was done with and a new condition entered on preparatorily to the kingdom of God in power and glory.
Entirely in keeping with this we hear henceforth of thousands sealed from the tribes of Israel, and, separately from these, of countless Gentiles brought out of the great tribulation (for so it is, not out of great tribulation as a general fact or principle, but out of that special time of trouble which we know from many scriptures will be at the close of the age). There is no gathering more from among Jews and Gentiles into the church where these distinctions vanish. The seven churches in their protracted application had given that condition up to their last seen on earth. God thenceforward works among Jews or Gentiles as distinct and with a view to putting the habitable earth under the rule of the glorified Son of man, the risen saints being on high, and from Israel and the nations spared ones to enjoy the blessings of that day on earth; as He executes judgments first preparatorily though with increasing intensity under the seals, trumpets, and vials, till Christ with the translated saints appears in glory and reigns of judging the quick first, then the dead, after which is the eternal scene. Such is the general outline of the Revelation. In anything like a clear and comprehensive view of the book the futurists seem to be scarcely better than the historicalists. Neither party know what to make of the vision in chapters 4, 5, which follows the seven churches and introduces the strictly prophetic unfoldings of coming dealings with the world. Hence their views are almost equally uncertain and foggy. The key to the intelligence of the book lies in a right apprehension of this vision.

Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 11

So great is the honor in which the church is held of all the people (Acts 5:13, 1 Sam. 18:16), going out and coming in before them, that the Jewish council find that it is not politic openly to persecute them further (Acts 4:16, 17; 5:24, 26, 28); but having determined their death, seek to procure it without implicating themselves. Just as Saul sought to compass David's death at the hands of the Philistines, by promising him his eldest daughter Merab ("increase") in marriage, so the chiefs of the people, represented in Gamaliel, are glad to see the church “increase” so mightily; not because it is the Lord's battles that are fought, but that whatever the result, they confidently anticipate profit to themselves. If this counsel, or this work, have its origin from men, and the Romans destroy it, as had happened in previous cases, well, their dirty work will have been done, and their hands clean; but if from God, well, the Philistines will be the sufferers.
At this time it seemed as if the nation promised well to be knit to Christ (Acts 5:11, 16, 28; 6:7, 8), but when the moment came to take the final step, God's flock preferred to wander into the meadows of delight of the earthly system, rather than follow the Good Shepherd, who would have led them into green pastures, and beside the still waters (1 Sam. 18:17-19. Adriel the Meholathite, “God's flock in the meadows of delight.” Acts 5:33; 6:9-11.) But a younger daughter has this earthly thing— “Michal,” a brook, a remnant, running out from among the rest—who loves the Beloved, the brook in the way, of which He should drink, as pledge that the rod of His strength should go out of Zion, that His people should be willing in the day of His power. But, blessed as is the foretaste of the fullness hereafter to be enjoyed, it can be used by the evil spirit working in the earthly system to accomplish under a cloak what it dare not do openly, so the prejudices and jealousies of system, working in the disciples' hearts, bring more trouble, and threaten more damage, to the church than persecution from without, for the Hellenists and Hebrews begin to murmur one against the other, but the overruling sovereign grace of God uses even this as a means of greater glory to David, His beloved. For the twelve apostles are more entirely separated unto prayer and the ministry of the word; and seven men, whose sympathies were led out into wider connection with the outside Gentile world, are brought to the forefront. Thus the secret working of the spirit of evil in system is the occasion of double honor to the church in Jerusalem, which is the body of Christ.
Thus the hearts of all the simple ones are joined to Christ, for the word of God increased, the number of disciples in Jerusalem was very greatly multiplied, and a great crowd of priests obeyed the faith. But with all who clung to earthly things this exhibition of power and glory only stirs up greater fear and hatred, which, smoldering awhile, burst out at length in disputation against Stephen; but he behaves more wisely than all the servants of Saul (1 Sam. 18:30; Acts 6:8-10), so that the name of Christ is much set by. Much as the chief priests and the elders of the people, led by jealousy of the spiritual power manifested in the church, conscious that they were themselves destitute of it, desired to get rid of this David, and left no stone unturned by which to do it under a fair pretext, yet the work wrought was of such a character as appealed to the heart and expectation of every Jew. Gamaliel is the expositor of this feeling, common alike to the Jonathans—the remnant of faith as Jews—and to all the servants of the earthly religion, when he speaks good of David, in the council warning them as to what they were going to do as regards the men, that they should not sin against those whose works had been very good, and by whom, it might be, God would work a great salvation for all Israel; advising them to withdraw from these men, and to let them alone, and sin not against innocent blood. And they hearkened unto his voice, and discharged the apostles.
Thus God uses Gamaliel (that is, “kindness of God"), and these Jewish hopes, common to all, as a means of giving the church time and opportunity fully to declare the glad tidings that Jesus was the Christ in the presence of Saul himself; for every day in the temple they ceased not teaching and announcing that Jesus was the Christ (1 Sam. 19:1-7; Acts 5:34-42). And there was war again, and Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought wonders and great signs among the people, but ever the more the grace of God shines out, the fiercer the spirit of evil in the earthly system; for there rose up certain of the synagogues, disputing with Stephen, hearkening not to the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke, but seeking to smite him unto death, rousing the people, the elders, and the scribes, they seize him, and bring him to the council. First it had been those of the high priestly family who had sought the life of the church, afterward those in conjunction with all the elder hood of the sons of Israel; and now, this third time, we find, not these alone, but the people also associated with them in the persecution of the church. Their object, like Pharaoh's of old, was to smite back into bondage the escaped of Israel, by treachery and force to smite David even to the wall; but the attempt ends in disastrous failure, the blow recoils upon themselves, and the system to which they sought to transfix the body of Christ is, in the effort, shaken to its fall, for while the earthly thing brings against God's man by His member Stephen a witness which is false, the Holy Spirit of God brings a true witness against them as a nation, a crushing and unanswerable accusation, and their violent, illegal, murderous act; but freed Stephen from their power forever, while it must have shocked every pious man amongst them. It was also, by the will of God, made the occasion of delivering the church from every connection with the Jewish system as the seat of its life and power; for all the assembly fled and escaped and were scattered into the countries of Judea and Samaria. But the apostles, who seem to have formed themselves into a company, and were in that but an image of the true David, remain in Jerusalem, apparently desirous of keeping up an appearance of connection with the Jewish system, as having Jewish standing and Jewish hopes, while the assembly, acting in the mind of Him who is the Head, escapes forever from the authority of the Jewish hierarchy into secure habitations among the Samaritans, Ethiopians, Greeks and Romans, never more to have its life exposed to their treachery and caprice. Thus Philip goes down to a city, and baptizes both men and women into the name of Jesus Christ. Again, by the Holy Spirit, he goes to meet an Ethiopian, on the desert road to Gaza, and announces to him the glad tidings of Jesus. Afterward, sent by the Spirit of the Lord, he is found in the Gentile city of Azotus, announcing the glad tidings to all the cities till he came to Caesarea. But, great as was the measure of liberty into which the church was thus brought, it had not yet reached its true place of separation. Stephen was, as it were, the messenger of the church to tell the Lord Jesus all that Saul had done. He had seen Him as Son of man standing at the right hand of God—a high place—and he went to dwell with Him in the habitation there.
The answer to the message was the sending of the body on earth into places of habitation among the Gentiles, where it was with difficulty, and by a great stretch of authority, that the chief priests could reach them. But what the spirit of evil, working in and by means of the guilty religious system, cannot do by outward violence, he seeks to procure covertly, but without success, his instruments and messengers being turned into monuments of the grace and power of God. For instance, when Philip goes down to Samaria, healing and working signs, the crowds give heed to the word spoken, as they had before done to Simon; and Simon also, and perhaps others; but when brought into the direct vision of Christ by the gift of the Holy Spirit, He separates between the precious and the vile, appointing each to his own place, purging out the hypocrite and him that had no part nor lot in the matter, and bringing to naught the wiles of the enemy, in introducing secretly, by means of the prospect of advantage, that which defileth, worketh abomination, and maketh a lie into the holy thing of God. Again, when the church by Philip meets with the bond servant of the Jewish system, and reveals to him the person of Jesus by faith, at once the devotee is changed into a worshipper; the wanderer in the desert of Jerusalem worship, hungry, thirsty, and fainting, is brought forth into a right way, rejoicing to go to a city of habitation.
And, thirdly, the glad tidings are announced in the strongholds of flesh, whether Jewish or Gentile, even in all the cities between Ashdod and Caesarea. At length the chosen champion of the earthly system, who stood a head and shoulders above all others, had profited more in the Jews' religion than any others of his own age: a Hebrew of the Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, of the strictest sect of his religion a Pharisee, in whom is centered the hopes of the nation, Saul of Tarsus, determines to take the matter up himself, and asks letters to Damascus of the high priests, that he may take the disciples of the Lord, and bring them bound to Jerusalem. But suddenly, when near his journey's end, He who is the great exhaustless well of living water, and who had long looked from His watchtower on high upon this parched soul, all the more thirsty because of his restless zeal, suddenly reveals Himself by the Holy Ghost, as David the beloved, the Head of His body, the church, the despised thing, Jesus of Nazareth, whom Saul was persecuting, A moment before he was the embodiment of fleshly religion, wrought on by the spirit of evil, now the member of the body of Christ, indwelt and inwrought of the Holy Ghost. “Walking in the light of sparks of his own kindling, suddenly shone upon by a light out of heaven, once blind, with eyes for all but Jesus, but having seen that Just one, his opened eyes see none other. He whose feet had been swift to shed blood is now led by the hand as a helpless child. Clothed in all the pomp and pride of authority and power—stripped of all, lying down naked, without sight, he neither eats nor drinks for three days.
Wondrous change! Well might they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” Is not this he who destroyed in Jerusalem “those who called on this name?” for “he preached Jesus that he is the Son of God.” The church having, by means of the tribulation that took place on the case of Stephen, been completely and manifestly severed from all connection with, and bondage to, the Jewish system, God, in His longsuffering grace, sends another testimony, gives another trial, still by the church, but by the church taking a place, in a position it had never claimed before. Hitherto it had owned obedience, now it takes a distinct and separate place, and declares a testimony altogether apart from any Jewish hopes and expectations, for Jesus is preached no longer as the servant, the one like Moses, the Messiah of the Jews, foreordained to them, as Peter preached: nor is it as Son of man, as Stephen saw Him, that He is now declared; but that He is the Son of God, and though, through the mercy of God, He is thus revealed to the Jews first, yet it is a word specially intended for the Gentiles, and sent by the hand of one who, though a Hebrew of the Hebrews, yet was the apostle to the Gentiles, and not to the circumcision. But there was ever deep in his heart, and in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, in the feeling, an earnest longing and desire for his brethren according to the flesh; having great grief and uninterrupted pain in his heart because of their hardness and consequent rejection; and God uses this devoted love to his kinsmen, and fervent wish to preserve for them as a nation the blessing of the glad tidings of Christ, to send by Paul the best and last declaration of His grace. For straightway in the synagogue he preaches that Jesus is the Son of God; but with little avail, for when he falls to proving this is the Christ, the Jews consult together to kill him. And when, having left Damascus inconsequence, he arrives at Jerusalem, and speaks boldly in the name of the Lord, the Hellenist Jews seek to kill him. Thus, whether it is the strict orthodox Jew, or the Hellenist, half Sadducean, freethinker, or any of the sects between these extremes, each and all alike resist the Holy Spirit, and reject the completed revelation of the goodness of God. Anxious as Paul is to preach the gospel to the Jews, so that he could have wished himself a curse from Christ for them, yet he is conscious of his calling as apostle to the Gentiles, and longs to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ, for His body's sake, which is the church: but it needed a personal communication from the Lord Jesus Himself before Paul could give up his cherished plan of preaching the gospel to his nation. These two, in a measure, conflicting powers are found working in Saul, the Jew, with Jewish aspirations and sympathies, and Paul, the Christian, with but one object filling his whole being, and that object Christ. The former he counted dead, the latter was his life. Yet if, as apostle to the nations, he glorified his ministry, it was with a desire to provoke to jealousy those who were his flesh, in order to save some from among them, both was he to believe that his nation was so hardened and blinded through unbelief that they would reject the witness of such a one as he was. Thrice, as we have seen, does he declare unto them the good news, that there is a rich repast in the house of bread for those who hunger for the bread of life; a sacrifice for the sin laden, to which all the family are welcome.
But while thus his bowels yearn over his brethren according to flesh, yet obediently he bows to the commands of the Spirit of Christ, leaving Damascus for the wilderness, afterward submitting to be let down through the wall, being lowered in a basket by night; and thirdly, being warned by the Lord Jesus in the temple, suffers himself to be brought down by the brethren to Caesarea, and sent away to Tarsus. However much he felt his mission was to the Gentiles, and gloried in it, yet the remnant of Israel had ever the first place in his heart, as well as in his preaching: so, during these three distinct testimonies, he conceals, as it were, himself, as representing the body of Christ, the church, and takes his place among Jews, as one with Jewish hopes and expectations. But nothing can conceal the plain fact that his seat is empty, that he is not where he once was, though at first it only excites surprise that he, who formerly persecuted, should now announce the glad tidings of the faith which formerly he ravaged. But this feeling soon changes, for when, during the second period, he confounds the Jews, proving that this is the Christ, this despised Nazarene, that Messiah must no longer be looked for out of Jerusalem or earthly system, but that He is to be found in the smallest among the many thousands of Judah, even in Bethlehem, where the brethren have a sacrifice: then prejudice stirs up malice, both against the witness and the One witnessed of, the Jews plainly seeing that the position taken up by the church entirely excludes the earthly kingdom, so long as it should remain, and therefore they seek to put it and those who represented it out of the way, and nothing more remained but to shoot one more arrow of witness against, rather than to, the nation, and that in the very stronghold of their system—Jerusalem—and then to bow submissively to the command, make speed, haste, stay not,” go quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.” Bitter as was the grief of Saul, as a Jew, to find that unbelief and fleshliness had thus finally cut off the nation from the glad tidings, it was in the Holy Spirit, in Christ, that he sorrowed most for his brethren, having uninterrupted anguish in his heart for them, though, through it all, he rejoiced that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. God's word fails not, and that a remnant was being, and would be, saved, and the nation, by-and-by.
(To he continued)

Discipline in the House of God

The real object in every act in the long run will transpire, however concealed or disguised it may be at first. Hence the more important the act, the more conspicuously will the object come out as the course of the act proceeds. The object of Balaam is more and more evident, and Jehu's is disclosed at last, while the object of every faithful servant must eventually be owned.
The object of discipline is to free the church from leaven. “Not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you."
To clear of leaven is the end and object of discipline. This can be effected in one of two ways; either by pastoral service, or when this is unavailing, by putting away from among ourselves the wicked person.
In the latter case, as has been said, the assembly must feel that it is guilty of the sin; and hence to clear themselves they put away from among themselves that wicked person. If they do not feel that they are guilty of the evil for which they excommunicate, they are merely a criminal jury, giving a verdict against the guilty person, and there is really no clearing at all.
Hence conviction of the guilt of any one is not produced by any overstrained interpretation and strong statement of probabilities, but by the irresistible persuasiveness of clear positive testimony—simply manifestation of the evil, as with Judas; and as light which works conviction by expelling darkness.
I must not go beyond what I see and know, nor can I charge myself with more than is manifested, for if I cannot charge myself and all the assembly with it, I ought not to excommunicate.
It is also essential as ensuring the Lord's support that the elder or bishop, who is prominent in his care of the church of God in the place, be “not a novice,” lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the snare of the devil; and again, that his own house and all believers be so well ordered and ruled that he has given proof of his ability to care for the church of God, for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? Again, he should feel to the assembly as the father of a large family, and after making every effort to restore the erring one, he leads the rest of the family, in deep sorrow of heart and feeling the family slur, to refuse to eat with the wicked one; but if he have any ill-feeling or vindictiveness towards any, he actually produces in the assembly a worse state of things than that which he attempts to correct, for where there is a root of bitterness springing up many are defiled, and where envy and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work. A father would take care how he would corrupt his family.
If I see an evil, and feel I am not the one to act prominently in it, I can at least pray to God to raise up an instrument according to His own mind, lest in my unholy zeal like Uzzah I perpetrate a great grievance.
Finally, the church of God is a nursery and not an inquisition, and if I am a true leader I warn the unruly, I do not subject them because of their unruliness to church or family censure; I comfort the feebleminded and I support the weak: otherwise I should deserve the censure in Ezekiel. “The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up the broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost, but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them."
J. B. S.

Scripture Queries and Answers: "Two or Three"

Q. Matt. 18:18-20. In a company of 40 or 50 saints gathered to the Lord's name, can 11 two or three” be said to constitute the assembly to the exclusion of the rest? Is the decision of a few to be regarded as that of God's assembly, and binding not only on all the rest, even if their consciences are distressed, but on all assemblies elsewhere, even though some of the grounds taken are now acknowledged by the few themselves to be unfounded? Is a hasty act thus done to be viewed as ratified in heaven and irrevocable?
G. W. Y. (Hamilton, Canada.)
A. Such a pretension is intolerable. It is not only without an atom of scripture but directly opposed to the nature and truth of God's assembly, where exclusion e.g. is not binding unless carrying with it the consciences of all. In peculiar cases there might be of course near relatives or friends, perhaps even partisans or accomplices more or less, whose opinions ought not to be given and if given ought to be rebuked rather than heeded. But as a rule discipline according to the Lord must and does carry the simplest as well as the spiritual with it. Where will or personal feeling works, it would destroy weight, and such persons are not in a state to guide the assembly. It might be that the condition of those gathered might show such a lack of conscience, destroyed by error or given up to self-will and laxity, that godly souls might be forced after: due waiting and solemn warning in vain, to withdraw from the meeting as no longer God's assembly. This is possible no doubt, but a very delicate and extreme case. But the notion of two or three out of forty or fifty constituting the assembly, and staying in with those whose protest they ignore and despise, is a snare of Satan to force their own will, and is a return to the Popish principle that the clergy are the church. I do not believe that such a decision is bound in heaven or binding on assemblies on earth or individuals; though it does not therefore follow that hasty action would be right, either as to receiving elsewhere the one wrongly dealt with or as to the withdrawal of those aggrieved by it. Prayer and humiliation would be the resource, not agitation nor separation. The Lord knows how to interfere and correct what is amiss; for it is the merest superstition that a wrong or mistake by an assembly is to abide unrescinded. And if the assembly deliberately accepted such a principle as that “two or three” could make up their minds and go through the form of putting away, for instance, contrary to the judgment of the rest, yet binding it on the consciences of all, it is evident that neither the discipline nor the assembly is really according to scripture; and, after due testimony if the evil were persisted in, both should be disowned as not of God.
Indeed the truth is more stringent far. For the putting away to be valid must be through God's action on the consciences of all (allowing for such exceptions as have been stated); and the action of a few, if ever so right in their thoughts, against the consciences of others is no longer the assembly's act. Not even two or three godly men who do not go with the action can be rightly ignored. The rest are bound to wait. The majority is a human principle and essentially different from the assembly where God dwells and in which He acts to glorify the Lord. As the rule, it is when action is precipitate or excessive that it fails to carry along the consciences of all. Nor is haste a slight fault in such cases. It is flesh, and not of the Spirit; it breeds parties, no less than excess does, which produces reaction in the saints, and leads to sympathy with the evildoer who is thus wronged, instead of all the godly uniting in their horror of his evil. If a few were ever so right in their judgment, yet forced it on spite of others who conscientiously differed, it would not be of God, as being a practical denial of His assembly. Hence one must not push things beyond their conviction as before God. Nothing is rightly done unless they prove themselves clear in the matter. Grace thus turns the godly exercise of extreme discipline by the assembly into exercise of soul and positive blessing in their humbling of themselves before God. Human will, whether in one or in many, brings in terrorism or wheedling, confusion and every evil work, self-exaltation and party spirit, to the utter destruction of waiting on God by faith, subjection to the word of the Lord, and the gracious and holy uniting power of the Holy Ghost.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 6

Q. 1. Rom. 6 Does scripture anywhere, in speaking of the Christian being dead, separate it from his having died in Christ?
A. 1. Not so: the ground is that we died with Christ, buried with Him by baptism to death—His death. Thus are we become identified with Him in the likeness of His death. Therefore also we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Place of a Dead Man

Q. 2. Is it not possible to deceive one's self, by applying this doctrine to a sort of holding yourself in the place of a dead man, so as to be afraid really to do anything, lest it should be your own life acting?
A. 2. One may of course turn even this truth into bondage; but it is far easier to make our death or having died with Christ the mere fact of knowing about it; and this might, not to say must, soon land one in light and careless ways, as being powerless.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Eternal Life

Q. 3. Is eternal life not a thing but a Person (Christ)? and is it true that a Christian has no life, inasmuch as Christ is in heaven?
A. 3. Eternal life is a thing that we have, though we have it only in the person of Christ; but it is our life here as Christians, with its mind and affections, quite as real and much more important than the natural Adamic life of man.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 6:7

Q. 4. Is it true reasoning to argue that because Rom. 6:7 says, “He that is dead is justified from sin,” it must be the new I that is spoken of as dead, inasmuch as no one could say that the old I is justified?
A. 4. The most that can be allowed is that justification from sin supposes a sinner, though now a believer. It is of course the same person, but one who being a believer has passed from death into life, and has died with Christ.

Scripture Queries and Answers: The New I and the New Man

Q. 5. Can you understand a distinction being made between the new I and the new man, and would you say that the former is spoken of as dead, and the latter not? Does scripture use the expression new I at all?
Α. 5. I can understand the distinction, “the new I” being the soul as now born again, but referring to what was, “the new man” being only what is by and in Christ. But metaphysics are best avoided in Christian teaching.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 6

Q. 6. Does Rom. 6 teach that the old man was crucified with Christ, but that the new I died with Him? Is there such a distinction between “crucified” and “died?
A. 6. That our old man was crucified with Christ is what the chapter says; and that he who died with Christ is justified from sin, that is, the believer, not whilst he did not believe.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Being Dead

Q. 7. Is it profitable to ask a Christian, “Are you dead!” since scripture says, “Ye are dead?” Does it not tend to throw one on feelings and experiences?
A. 7. Such a query to an unestablished soul would inevitably lead to an inward investigation. But he who rests simply on Christ might be led to weigh and learn more thoroughly what death with Christ implies, and what becomes him who died with Him. Scripture assumes that the Christian has thus died.

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Abraham: Genesis 25:1-10

The first part of the chapter, comprehended in these verses, gives us the closing scenes of Abraham's eventful and instructive history. The Jewish tradition which identifies Keturah with Hagar is not only without proof but set aside by verse 6, which speaks of “the sons of the concubines which Abraham had;” and as Hagar was one, so Keturah was the other, not (as I think) to imply that she filled this relation during any part of Sarah's life, but rather to affirm her inferiority of place. Keturah is expressly called Abraham's “concubine” in 1 Chron. 1:32; as Hagar, on the other hand, is styled his “wife” in Gen. 16:3. Nor need we revert to the Gentile difficulty, that sons were begotten of Abraham after Sarah's death, which has induced not a few of old as now to believe that Abraham took Keturah during Sarah's lifetime, and that the whole paragraph, if not chapter, is placed out of its chronological sequence in order not to break the main narrative. Proof of this is wanting, as the whole paragraph flows naturally, after Rebekah's marriage with Isaac, up to the several portions of the sons, as distinguished from the heir, and the death of the patriarch which was severed from Sarah's by at least thirty-seven years.
“Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.” (Vers. 16.)
Here then we see, after the call of the bride, the blessing of nations associated with Abraham. It is a very distinct thing from that which faith receives now; for they which are of faith, the same are the children [sons of Abraham. It is now a blessing open to all or any of the nations; and they are blessed with faithful Abraham. Through the cross the blessing comes to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith; and as Christ is dead and risen, and thus the accomplisher as well as object and crown of the promises, so there is no Jew nor Greek. Fleshly distinctions disappear. All are one in Christ Jesus. In that which is typified by the concubines' sons to Abraham we see the strongest possible contrast with Isaac. Midian may be there, and Jokshan, with the rest; perhaps Sheba and Dedan, Ephah, the sons' sons. All these were Keturah's children.
Still it is written that “Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac.” The risen son is the heir of all things; and if we are of Christ, then are we Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise. But unto the sons of the concubines which Abraham, had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away. They receive gifts, not the inheritance of the promises; and they are sent away, instead of abiding in the house forever, as does the son.
So it will be in the age to come on earth, when, the church being completed, the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready. Blessing will flow, and the land of the morning will be no longer “the immovable east.” I do not speak of Israel, the head of the nations under Christ's reign here below; still less of the glorified saints on high; nor do I mean only those that may then be born of God in every nation or people or tribe under the sun. But all the Gentiles are to rejoice with His people—a principle more deeply true, doubtless, in the present election for heaven from among Jews and Gentiles, but to be far more openly and widely seen in that bright day; and this, too, even in that quarter of the globe where dark superstitions of Christendom grow up rank, and side by side, with the Mahometan imposture and heathenism of every type.
"And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; the field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.” (Vers. 710.)
Thus peacefully passed away the man who, of all in Old Testament story, most strikingly combines the title of “friend of God” with “stranger and sojourner on the earth.” Not that others—his son, grandson, and other descendants—did not carry on the blessed line of pilgrims who also walked with God. As a whole, however, what saint of old equaled him in these respects? Still less could any be said to surpass “the father of all them that believe."
Let us not at the same time forget that we have to do, not so much with the promises as he had, but with accomplishment in Christ (Rom. 4); and that, whatever promises of God there be, in Christ is the yea, and in Christ the amen, for glory to God by us. We are more than Abraham's seed, being blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph. 1:8.) Sovereign grace alone accounts for a purpose so rich and above the thoughts of men or even the ancient oracles of God. Do we believe it for our own souls and for all that are Christ's? Do we walk and worship accordingly as we wait for Him from heaven?

Notes on John 7:40-52

We have had, then, the Lord's anticipative declaration of the power of the Spirit which the believer was about to receive, which he did receive at Pentecost and thenceforward: not the quickening of the unbeliever, nor yet power rising up in worship, but flowing forth abundantly from the inner man in testimony, both eminently characteristic of Christianity. How painful that Christendom should now, and for ages, show itself incredulous and hostile! But thus it is that God's warnings must be verified in every tittle. In man's hands each dispensation makes manifest nothing so much as faithlessness to its own special privileges and responsibility. Thus Israel not only rebelled against the law but renounced Jehovah for heathen vanities, the remnant even rejecting their own Messiah. Is the Spirit now sent down and present since Jesus was glorified? Christendom, since the apostolic days, ran greedily after law and forms, reinstating thus the first man, to the denial of the cross on earth and of the Second man in heaven about to come again. It opposes itself to no truth so expressly as to that which it is called above all to testify in word and deed.
The words of our Lord made a certain impression; but all is in vain unless conscience be reached before God. “[Some] of the crowd, therefore, when they heard these sayings, said, This is truly the prophet; others said, This is the Christ; others said, Doth the Christ, then, come out of Galilee? Did not the scripture say that the Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was? A division therefore took place in the crowd on account of him; and some of them wished to seize him, but none laid his hands on him.” (Vers. 40-44)
Men do not only join what God separates, but separate what God joins. Some called Him the prophet, others the Christ, as we have seen from the beginning of this Gospel, a distinction then prevalent but unfounded. The objections which lack of knowledge makes expose an ignorance which the least conscientious inquiry must have dispelled. With faith too there may be, and often is, want of light; but, spite of obstacles, it holds on to what it discerns to be of God, instead of being stumbled by a difficulty which further knowledge would have shown to be unreal. Bartimaeus, when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was at hand, did not fail to cry,” Son of David, have mercy on me;” and his faith reaped the blessing immediately. None the less was He the Messiah from Bethlehem, and of David's line, because He was the despised prophet of Galilee. But unbelief is blind to His glory, and finds only an occasion of division in the only center of union. Yet, whatever the hostility of men, they could not take Him till the hour was come, little as they thought it, for God to accomplish the reconciliation in His cross.
There were darker traits, however, in the religious leaders than in the crowd; and this the Spirit next brings before us. “The officers therefore came unto the high priests and Pharisees, and to them they said, Why did ye not bring Him? The officers answered, Never man so spake as this man. The Pharisees therefore answered them, Are ye also deceived? Did any one of the rulers believe on him, or of the Pharisees? But this crowd, that knoweth not the law, are accursed.” (Vers. 45-49.) Here conscience answered to the words of the Lord in such a manner at least as to draw out before their masters an involuntary confession of the power with which He spoke. It was not as the scribes. But the Pharisees, with invincible hardness, retort on their weakness, challenge them to produce one of the rulers of the Pharisees that believed, and betray their contempt for the mass of their countrymen. Boasting in law, they, by transgression of the law, and far worse, were then dishonoring God. But God brings forward an unexpected, even if feeble, witness from among themselves, not only a Pharisee but a ruler.
“Nicodemus saith unto them, being one of them, Doth our law judge the man, unless it have first heard from him, and known what he doeth? They answered and said to him, Art thou also out of Galilee? Search and see that no prophet ariseth out of Galilee.” (Vers. 50-52.) Unable to resist the righteous requirement of their own law, they proved that their insubjection had a deeper root by their haughty contempt, not now of the ignorant rabble, but of not the least of their own chiefs; and, as usual, they manifest that men are never so sure to err as when most confident in an arm of flesh. Indeed, it is the fatality of tradition mongers to be always astray, whether in Judaism or in Christendom. Scripture alone is reliable; and those who profess to be ruled by scripture as interpreted by tradition, will be found, like all who serve two masters, to hold to tradition and its uncertainty, and to despise scripture spite of its divine authority, with a blindness to their own state which is truly pitiable though not less censurable also. Thus Eusebins, though by no means the least able or the most superstitious of the Fathers, makes the grossest mistakes in reporting ecclesiastical facts from the Acts of the Apostles, or elsewhere. So here the Pharisees assume that no prophet arises out of Galilee. They were wrong in every possible way. Were they prophets to speak for God at that time? Had they never heard of Jonah or Nahum? The greatest of the prophets who wrote not—the mysterious Tishbite—who had arisen, and will yet again arise, was of Gilead, and so even more remote than Galilee from the seat of religious pride, being on the east of the Jordan. But the truth is, that the One their soul abhorred, on whom the poor of the flock waited, had come forth out of Bethlehem Ephratah, whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity. Of Him they were profoundly ignorant, though law and prophets everywhere testified to Him; but the pillar of the clouds which encompassed Him gave no light to the proud men of Jerusalem. Their darkness comprehended not the true light.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 10:12-22

The scriptural history of Israel is thus exceedingly solemn as well as instructive. It was so recounted by the Spirit as to be typical of us. “So then let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. No temptation hath taken you save a human one: but God [is] faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what ye are able, but will make with the temptation also the issue that ye may be able to bear [it].” (Vers. 12,18.)
On the one hand the self-confidence of the Corinthians, as of every one else, is precisely the source of danger. In the world as it is, and in man as he is, there must be constant exposure; for evil exists, and an enemy is not wanting to avail himself of it; and the people of God are the especial aim of his malicious activity to dishonor the Lord by their means. If others slumber in unremoved death, those that are alive to God in Christ need to watch and pray. On the other hand they had been tried by no temptation beyond the lot of man: Christ was tried beyond it in the days of His flesh, not only at the end of His service but at the beginning; not only in all things in like manner, apart from sin, but beyond what belongs to man, tempted as He was for forty days in the wilderness. But we can only overcome in our little trials as He in His great ones by dependence on God and obedience of His word which the Spirit clothes with might against Satan. We may and ought to confide in God. If He is faithful who called us to the fellowship of His Son, equally so is He in not permitting us to be tempted beyond measure. It is His power by which the saints are kept through faith, not by their perseverance. Hence with the trial He makes also the issue or escape, and this not by removing the trial but by enabling His own to endure.
Now comes the special warning. “Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to prudent [men]: judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not fellowship with the blood of the Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not fellowship with the body, of the Christ? Because we, the many, are one loaf, one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” (Vers. 14-17) To count idolatry impossible for a Christian is to trifle. This the Corinthians were doing. They knew, said they, that the idol was a nullity, and therefore it was nothing to them to eat meat which had been offered to heathen idols; nay, they could go a step farther and sit and eat in the heathen temples. The apostle on the contrary maintains the principle of partaking in an evil which you may not yourself do, and especially in things sacred. The true wisdom in such cases is to keep wholly aloof. It is a misuse of knowledge to participate, or even give the appearance of participating, in what is religiously false. It is in vain to plead that the heart is not in what one allows outwardly, not only on moral grounds but because it slights Christ and ignores Satan's wiles. Is not the Christian redeemed from bondage to the enemy? Is he not bought with a price to glorify God? At once the apostle makes themselves judges by putting them in presence of the central and standing institution of church fellowship. Where was their practical understanding now? “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not fellowship with the blood of the Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not fellowship with the body of the Christ?"
Clearly the apostle reasons from the public symbol of Christian communion; he is not laying it down to correct wrong any observance: else he would not have put the cup before the loaf here. He begins his appeal with that which had the deepest meaning as to Christ; he leaves for the next place what most impressively conveys the fellowship of the saints with Christ as one body. It is so viewed as to compare it best with the peace offerings of Israel and the sacrifices of the heathen. Fellowship there is in each. The worshippers share in common what distinguishes them from all others. In the church's case it is the blood and body of Christ. The blood of Christ awakens the gravest thoughts in the Christian; the body of Christ, the most intimate unity possible, “because we, the many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of the one loaf.” There is neither transubstantiation nor con substantiation. It is the loaf that we break, it is the one loaf of which we all partake. Representatively it is the one body of Christ; and if the loaf be that body, just so we, the many, are that one loaf also. This scripture, like the rest which speak of it, is wholly irreconcilable with Romanism or Lutheranism, which here present mere superstitions, not the truth of God. The words on which they essay to base their errors do really refute them.
There is not a thought of sacerdotal consecration of the elements. “The cup of blessing which we bless,” “the loaf which we break,” prove that it is no act of one endued with extraordinary power and transmitted authority. It is “we” and “we, the many,” in the very context which speaks of “I” and “ye.” But all such individuality vanishes from this feast, as being radically opposed to its nature. None that truly entered into its spirit could have so marred the fellowship as to make the minister first receive in both kinds himself, and then proceed to deliver the same to the clergy if present, and after that to the people also in order. Who that is faithful to its scriptural meaning could say, The body.... which was given for thee, the blood.... which was shed for thee? Still less could there have been such a contrast with the Lord's words in letter and spirit, such an oblivion even of the form as a wafer expressly unbroken placed by the priest on the tongue and no cup whatever for the communicant. These are the palpable and fatal signs of a Christendom at war with the Lord, of His word set at naught, and the Holy Spirit quenched. One of course may give thanks at the breaking of the bread; but in truth, if duly done according to Christ, it is all the saints that bless, all that break the loaf. Such is the essence of its meaning; and he who departs from it must account for it to the Lord who commanded all that are His to do thus.
It may be added that in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark we read of the Lord, after taking the loaf, blessing, and then giving thanks after taking the cup. In Luke He is said to give thanks after taking a loaf. The decisive disproof however of what gross ignorance mistakenly infers from it is that, on the occasion of feeding the multitude with bread, the very same language is used; that is, when a sacrament confessedly was out of the question, He took the five loaves and two fishes, and, looking up to heaven, blessed them. (Luke 9) It is not that ενλοηεω is exactly equivalent to ενχαριστεω, but clearly they can be used to a certain extent interchangeably; they express with a shade of difference the selfsame act, neither prayer for a miracle nor the form of effecting one, but very simply a benediction or thanksgiving. If our ordinary food be sanctified by the word of God and prayer, who could think of the supper of the Lord without blessing and thanksgiving?
Again that not faith only is possessed but the Spirit of God is supposed to have sealed the communicants is plain from all that is said. Nobody doubts that a hypocrite or selfdeceived soul might partake; but the Lord's intention is as clear as that the character of the feast excludes such. They may drink the wine or break the bread; but they are as distant as ever from the grace and truth therein celebrated, and only add presumptuous sin to the selfwill and unbelief of their habitual life. Individually the believer has already eaten the flesh of the Son of man and drunk His blood; he eats it, knowing that he has eternal life in Him, and otherwise no life in himself. Together we bless the cup, together we break the bread in thanksgiving before Him who has blessed us beyond all thought; and herein is communion. To suppose that unbelievers share it is profanity, and deliberate profanity if we systematically open the door for them and invite them in.
But the point before the apostle was rather that the Christian cannot go out to another fellowship if he enjoy this. Communion is the joint participation of the blessing for all whom it concerns; but it excludes as rigorously those who have no part or lot in it. Further it forbids from any other fellowship those who share this. Even the Israelite after the flesh who ate the sacrifices was a partaker with the altar of Jehovah, and severed in principle and fact from the vanities of the heathen. “See Israel according to flesh: are not they that eat the sacrifices in fellowship with the altar?” How much more did it become the Christian to judge and walk according to God! If they lived in the Spirit, let them walk in the Spirit.
“What say I then? that an idol-sacrifice is anything, or that an idol is anything? but that what they sacrifice: they sacrificed to demons and not to God; and I wish you not to be in fellowship with demons. Ye cannot drink [the] Lord's cup and of a cup of demons; ye cannot partake of [the] Lord's table and of a table of demons. What! do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (Vers. 19-22.)
To eat of sacrificial offerings was evidently then no light matter. As the Jew who ate was in communion with the altar, so he who partook of what was offered to an idol had fellowship with the idol. Such is its real meaning. Does this contradict the previous reasoning of the apostle as of the prophets of old, that the idol was a mere nonentity? Not at all. But if such products of man's device have no existence and their images see not nor hear, demons are very real and avail themselves of man's imagination and his fears and arrogate to themselves the idol sacrifices. The emptiness of idols is therefore no ground for partaking of meats sacrificed to them; for “what they sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God.” (See Deut. 32:17; Psa. 95:5.) The idols and their sacrifices maybe utterly powerless; but demons hiding behind can and do thereby shut out the true God from souls and usurp the homage due to Him alone. This is the effect of heathen worship, not the intention of the worshippers or of those who partake in their sacrifices. They no more purposed to revere demons or fallen and evil spirits than the unconverted now mean to serve Satan. But they did and do so none the less. The truth puts things in their real light which the reasoning, the imagination, or the indifference of man leaves in the shade.
The Corinthians loved ease and sought to escape the cross. Why trouble, they might argue, about trifles? The idol is nothing, nor its sacrifices, nor its temple. How unwise then to offend for nothing! Communion with demons, answers the apostle, is the result. He that eats and drinks where the Lord's blessing is not, partakes in the demon's curse. We shall see in the next chapter what it is to eat and drink unworthily at the Lord's supper. Here it is the real character of the evil where one partook of things sacrificed to idols, which the vain Corinthians prided themselves on doing freely because of their superior knowledge. But no one can have fellowship with the Lord and with demons: if he tampers with demons, has he not virtually abandoned the Lord? They may delight to have and harm the Christian professor; the Lord refuses His fellowship to the idolater. If fellowship is inclusive, it is exclusive. “He that is not with me is against me,” said He Himself; “and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matt. 12) “What! do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” Love cannot but be jealous of wandering affections; it were not love if it did not resent unfaithfulness. And is He so powerless that we can despise Him with impunity? Are we stronger than He? Do we court destruction?

Elements of Prophecy: 11. The General Design of the Apocalypse

It must be owned that the actual state of Apocalyptic interpretation is humiliating. The book has been treated with silent slight or turned into an arena for busy conjecture rather than found to be a rich source of blessing according to the promise of the Lord. Not that God's grace or truth have failed, but that most have lost the blessing through misreading it. In the midst of unbelief, however, God has vindicated the value of His own word for those who have clung to it, eschewing either historicalism or mere futurism. They have read it in faith, using not only the lamp of prophecy but the still brighter light to which the Christian is entitled as blessed in heavenly places in Christ. It is well then to bring to the test what men allege as to its character, and to examine fairly and fully whatever evidence scripture affords for a decisive judgment. It will be found impossible to have either a comprehensive view of its scope or a correct application of its parts, without a solid establishment in the gospel and an adequate understanding of our own special relationship as Christians individually or as the church of God. As being the closing book of the New Testament canon it naturally supposes acquaintance with the rest of revealed truth. None can truly appreciate the Apocalypse who has been used to misapply the Old Testament prophecies of Zion and Israel to Christian subjects, any more than such as fail to see the entirely new character of the body of Christ, now that redemption is accomplished and the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Every one knows that the Fathers, so-called, entirely broke down, and most of them in this way, both in the mass of the older catholic bodies and in those which followed in their wake. No less have Protestants in general failed to recover the true character of the church, in consequence of confining their attention for the most part, even when orthodox, to truth for the individual, such as justification by faith and ordinary Christian practice.
Let us turn then to certain arguments which are supposed to determine the true direction of the book. Does it spread over the entire period since the apostles in its prophetic visions? or does it also bear strictly and fully on the closing crisis before the Lord appears in power and glory, though embracing this too and carrying us forward even into the eternal state?
I. The title of the prophecy, it is thought, points to the right conclusion— “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Some have imagined that these words denote simply the second coming of Christ, and would therefore limit the book to that great event, its antecedents and consequences. But this view is not more erroneous than to interpret the words as a removal, for the instruction of the church, of the veil which conceals the Lord now that He is ascended to heaven. Nay, of the two, the latter is much the most misleading; for the characteristic truth of the apostle Paul even as a part of God's righteousness is that the Christian sees His glory with unveiled face. It was no insignificant fact that at His death on the cross the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom. The Christian walks in the light even as God is in the light. He is brought nigh by the blood of the cross; and God looks for the fruits of light in all goodness and righteousness and truth. To make the Revelation therefore to be the unveiling of Jesus Christ in person would really be to deny that the veil was completely gone and known to be so ever since the cross and His ascension to heaven. The title then does not mean the removing of the veil from His person, but rather that unveiling of what is coming which God gave to Him, and which He communicated to His servant John and through him to us. But this leaves the question of the time still to be solved, save indeed that the closing words of the preface declare that “the time is at hand” and not in course of fulfillment. The examination of the prophetic visions too confirms this; for each of them presents to us some distinct view of our Lord in heaven, and some fresh aspect of God's providential dealings here below, but wholly different from what is found in the rest of the New Testament which directly applies to the church in its passage through the world. Further, we have already seen that Rev. 2; 3, does not suppose a chasm between the apostle's day and the future crisis of the world, but rather bridges it over by a most instructive transition which furnishes light increasingly as God lengthens out “the things which are” —that is, the seven churches or the epistles to them. They are not yet past.
II. The analogy of Old Testament prophecy tends rather to mislead than to fix the true character of the Apocalypse, for the people of God then had to do with times and seasons in a way wholly different from us. There is contrast therefore really, rather than analogy, though one would not deny, as often remarked, the bearing of principles and help from them for Christian sufferers from the Apocalypse. But the fact that the Lord has accomplished redemption, sent down the Spirit, and is ready to judge the quick and the dead, shows the total difference from the state of things before His first advent. The analogy therefore wholly fails instead of being full or complete.
It is easy to assert that the church has derived such light from the Apocalypse as the early triumphs of the gospel, the downfall of Rome, the troubles and temptations which intervened to the church, and the final triumph of Christ's kingdom. But such instances as these rather disprove than demonstrate the assertion. He who could apply to gospel triumphs the first seal, for instance (the white horse with its rider going forth conquering and to conquer), has certainly derived little true light from the Apocalypse. And as to Rome, though Babylon be unquestionably its symbol, there is much to try and exercise the heart for those who are occupied with outward circumstances; for that “great city” is far from fallen yet, though fall it must in due time. One has no wish to doubt that more or less may have been gathered from the book as to intervening troubles and temptation in principle at least; but I fear that those who drew from it the final triumph of Christ's kingdom have fallen into interpretations as unworthy as those of Eusebius, and this as time advanced, no less than in earlier ages. It would be easy, in fact, to show that the effort to apply the book, in its prophetic visions, to the course of the church on earth has led to little more than mistake in detail as well as wholesale. The church of God was meant to be from day to day expecting Christ. “Known to God are all his works from the beginning;” but He has carefully abstained from revealing to us that which might set aside the constancy of our hope. This was not at all the case before redemption. Even the rejection of the Messiah was a matter of prophetic date. Those who overcome during the various stages of the church on earth are seen translated to heaven and glorified there in Rev. 4; 5, before the properly prophetic visions begin to apply.
III. The special analogy of the visions of Daniel breaks down when examined closely. For though there be in his visions a scarcely broken succession from his day to the first advent, it does not follow that the visions of John must reach from the apostolic age, without break. In none is a break more conspicuous than in the seventy weeks, where we have continuity up to the death of Christ, but a distinct gap after it. The destruction of the city and sanctuary no doubt is recorded as subsequent, and a vista of desolation and war follows to the end; but otherwise this is all vague and unconnected with any date whatever. That it is after the sixty-nine weeks, and before the seventieth, is all one can learn from Dan. 9 There is no hint of time between; the last week remains to be fulfilled. Eighteen hundred years have already elapsed within that gap. So it is with the Apocalypse. Its prophetic visions converge on the great future crisis, the accomplishment of the seventieth week, within which fall also “the time, times, and half a time” of Daniel. The resemblance between the Revelation and Daniel is found here only. That is, they do not resemble where the visions of Daniel are continuous, but coalesce after the gap for the end of the age! The analogy is that while Daniel only gave succession up to Christ, both converge on “the time of the end."
IV. The prophecy of our Lord must be perverted in order to apply the Apocalypse continuously from the apostles' day on to His coming. For in Matt. 24 the grand question is as to the consummation of the age and not the sequence of events before it. And in Luke 21 where alone we hear of the “times of the Gentiles” we have no more information than the general fact of Jerusalem being trodden down by the Gentiles till then. We are next plunged into the signs external and moral which mark the end of the age— “signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” It is after revealing all these events that our Lord solemnly declares, “This generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled.” This generation therefore lasts till after the second advent no less than the fall of the temple. It is a mistake that there is a twofold affirmation with regard to the times: the first, that all the events predicted concerning the fall of the temple should certainly be fulfilled in that very generation; and the other, that the day and hour of the second advent was at that time purposely concealed. One has only to read carefully our Lord's own words in order to see that there is no such distinction and that the Christ rejecting generation of the Jews was not to pass till all was fulfilled, including the second advent—not merely till the temple fell. Scripture teaches nowhere that that day and hour are now revealed.
1. Hence there is no continuity in the Lord's prophecy, any more than in the vision of Daniel, which justifies the name of a “law” and affords a presumption that the prophetic visions of the Apocalypse must stretch over the last 1800 years.
2. The Lord's prophecy in Matt. 24; 25 consists of three main divisions: first, the Jewish part in chapter 24:4-44; secondly, the Christian part in chapter 24:45 to 25:30; and, thirdly, the Gentile part in chapter 25:31-46. The disciples who were then instructed by the Lord could fittingly represent the future Jewish remnant, as this they were at that time themselves before they were brought into church standing by known redemption and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Hence the argument founded on their Christian character to insinuate the propriety of prophecy about Christians and their circumstances all through entirely fails.
3. The mention of the “times of the Gentiles” in Luke 21 seems a slender ground for assigning to the Apocalypse an application to so many centuries instead of to the last week of Daniel.
4. Nor does the resemblance between Rev. 11:2 and Luke 21:24 blot out their differences, still less warrant the conclusion that the Apocalyptic visions are the expansion of the earlier prophecy.
V. The presumption from the prophetic notices in the Epistles is equally Blight. Thus, though the mystery of lawlessness already wrought, there was nothing in 2 Thessalonians 2 to indicate that either the apostasy or the manifestation of the lawless one will be before the time of the end; other scriptures prove that they will be then exclusively; with which the notices of this chapter quite agree. Still less force is there in 1 Cor. 10:1-10, where we have Old Testament facts used as types, which no doubt might apply then or at anytime. But this is moral admonition, not continuous prophecy. Again, 1 Tim. 4 speaks only of “some” and “in latter times.” It is no more the end of the age than a prediction ranging over all the times of the gospel. Solemnly true and needed as is the warning of 2 Peter 2:1-12, there is nothing here to decide the application of the Apocalypse all through.
VI. The distinctive character of John's writings is alleged to point to the wider application rather than to the crisis. Undoubtedly the choice of the penman was in the fullest harmony with the message to be conveyed; but there is also variety as well as a common principle. The Gospel, the Epistles, and the Revelation do not only come from the same writer, but manifest a character of truth peculiar to themselves. To call his the spiritual Gospel (as by the Greek Christians of old τὸ εύαγγέλιον τὸ κατὰ πνεῦμα), as contradistinguished from Luke's, Mark's, or Matthew's, seems far from precision and rather derogatory to the others; quite as much so to contrast his Epistles with those of Paul. The Gospel of John shows us really eternal life in the Son of God, the glory of the Only begotten who reveals the Father; the Epistles show us the effect of this revelation where faith received Him,” which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness passeth and the true light already shineth;” the Revelation, the results not only in the overcoming and glory of those who are His but in the iniquity, lawlessness, and judgment of those who believe not, that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. Hence it is that, while He is God and man in one person. throughout all John's writings, He is more prominent as Son of God in the Gospels and Epistles, as Son of man in the Revelation. Authority to execute judgment is therefore given to Him on those who would not come to Him that they might have fife; and thus there are two resurrections, of life for those that practiced good, of judgment for those that did evil, the turning point being faith or unbelief in His person who is the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us. The crisis therefore falls in far more with this, the evident object of the Revelation, than any mere course of providential judgments spread over the continuous history of Christendom.
The opening verses of the book correspond with this; for if John is said to bear “witness of the word of God and the witness of Jesus Christ,” it is qualified by “whatsoever things he saw.” That is, it is not the person of the Son as in the Gospel nor our possession and manifestation of the life that is in Him as in the Epistles, but visions. And when in the course of the prophecy Christ is named The Word of God (Rev. 19), it is evidently in destructive judgment whilst in the Gospel we see Him in the fullness of grace. With such marked distinctness does the Spirit guard us against wrong inference from the rest of John's writings, and condemn those who would foist in the miscalled spiritualizing of the Revelation. Details only confirm this, if we bring each distinctive mark of the Gospels and Epistles to test the prophecy.
1. To argue that, because the Gospel and Epistles dwell not on the external and transient and earthly but on eternal truth, therefore the Apocalypse cannot disclose outward signs and wonders from the end of the age onwards till eternity, is to fly in the face of the evident scope and contents of the book. It has been already pointed out that its character is judicial (not the revelation of life in Christ), and this also enjoyed by and manifested in the saints. In. the Revelation we have first the churches judged by the Son of man; and this state of things being closed, the world judged first preparatorily and with increasing intensity till (with the risen saints) Christ appears to judge in person, first the quick in the reign for a thousand years, then the wicked dead at the end before the new heavens and earth in the final and fullest sense. It is admitted however that, as in 1 John 2 we hear of many antichrists even now, the forerunners of the Antichrist of the close, so the Apocalypse may afford light in a general way now, while it shines most distinctly on the great future crisis; and thus it is larger, as well as more exact, than either historicalists or futurists can see.
2. If both Gospel and Revelation open with the Lamb, each strikingly employs a different word, though it be about the same person: the Gospel, ἀμνός as expressive of God's grace in all its extent and in relation to sacrifice; the Revelation, ἀρνίον as the holy earth rejected Sufferer, whose blood indeed has bought believers to God, but whose wrath is about to fall on a guilty world and the still guiltier apostates at His appearing till Satan himself perishes forever.
8. The Gospel and the Epistles do suppose the Jews disowned for a new work of God; but even so not without distinct pledges both in type (John 1:45 to 2:21; 21:24-29) and in direct terms of mercy reserved for them. (Chap. xi. 51, 52.) The Revelation unveils the fresh working of God on their behalf when the church state is done with; and this both in Israel (chap, 7) and in Jews. (Chap, 14) It is as false to restrict it with the futurists to the narrow limits of Judaea as to efface the Jews from a distinct and precious portion in its predictions, as most historicalists do.

On Power in the Church, Not Imitation but Obedience in the Sense of Present Ruin

I feel a little difficulty, my dear friends, in taking up a subject in which my mind is exercised with you all. There is exceeding grace of expression in that word in Nehemiah, “The joy of Jehovah is your strength.” The mere principle of imitation, as regards power, is very mischievous. When the church has become awakened to the discovery of what she has lost, the very probable tendency will be to seek to imitate that power. Such is never the condition of faith. What the church has to do is to know its actual condition, and to turn to God in the condition that it is in. Many have gone astray in trying to be like the state of the early church. The place of faith is to be cast on God, and not to assume what we have not. This dispensation is one in which the kingdom of God is not in word only but in power, and this must be had from God. All imitation of it is worthless. This leads us to a point of great comfort. While we are guilty as to what is lost, yet God in no sense hindered by the resources which He had given; He has yet all fullness to bestow on us. The church is cast on God's own resources. I believe, as our brother has said, the church may find a blessed excellency of grace which they had not at first. This was the case in the days of Nehemiah with regard to Israel; the joy of Jehovah was to be their strength, and therefore he stopped the weeping. Though they were in great distress, and in subjection to evil, yet we read, “Since the days of Joshua, the son of Nun, unto that day had not the children of Israel kept such a feast, and there was very great gladness."
I find that this was one of their gladdest feasts, they had never had it till the day of their sorrow. Being cast, then, on the resources of God, “the joy of Jehovah was their strength,” not the joy of Moses in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. I feel very strongly that this principle is of great practical importance. Though there is the discovery of sin, in comparing the state of the church with what it once was, yet we have the fullness of God in giving blessing suited to our own present condition brought out. The children of Israel did anything but pretend that they were not in sorrow. The next chapter shows this; they were in great distress, they had no glory, but they had the joy of Jehovah, and they kept the feast. The secret of this confidence is direct reference to the Lord. I am as much entitled to have confidence in God as anybody since the foundation of the world. I can never qualify the resources of God, am limited by nothing but His own holy grace, which does all that I want now. Imitation of the early church is not faith, but reference to the word of God, as applying itself to my condition, is. You cannot imitate power, it is folly—you must have power.
As regards the first part of the question. The source of power is the same in the church now as it was in the days of the apostles, but its exercise manifestly is not the same. “Our word,” says the apostle, “was in demonstration of the Spirit, and with power.” I believe that the demonstration was the external witness of the power, the exhibition of the deposit that was in the church to the world. As it regards the question of the power in the church being the same as in the days of the apostles, it does not exist; there can be no question as to that. If we come to discipline in the church, there is no limit to its power but the extent of its existence. We have not, in fact, the same power in exercise as the apostles had. I see two distinct divisions in the apostolic office: the one antecedent altogether to the church as gathered by testimony; the other did not exist till the Holy Ghost was poured out on the day of Pentecost. Then we have apostolic power for the church in the inspiration of the scriptures. This is evidently closed, for Peter says, “Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able, after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance.” (2 Peter 1:15.) This would have been most monstrous presumption in Peter if any other apostles were to have followed him. Paul, in like manner, commends the believers at Ephesus to God, and to the word of His grace, which was able to build them up, &c. (Acts 20:32.) Why did he do this? Knowing that after his departure grievous wolves would enter in among them, not sparing the flock, therefore he commended them to the word of God's grace, and not to the apostles who should follow him. In 2 Tim. 3 we read that in the last days perilous times shall come (not wonderfully blessed times, but perilous ones); but, says the apostle, continue thou in the things which thou hast learned. The holy scriptures were what the apostle referred Timothy to when the perilous times should come.
We read in 1 John 2, “Ye have an unction from the holy one, and ye know all things; I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it.” When the apostle was present even, he did not teach the saints without reference to their competency to prove all things. On that I see the church of God is cast. Then, as regards anything that is called for now, we have not apostolic power to meet it, but we have God's resources, and there is no limit to them but the faithfulness of God, which cannot fail. I feel bound to exercise all the power with which God has entrusted me, not minding anything in the wide world; there is no limit to our responsibility of using what God has given us. God deals invariably on this principle. He gives to man a deposit, with the responsibility of using it aright. I believe the responsibility of the apostles was to give the deposit, and that of the church to keep it, but it has failed, as man always has. Moses gave the people of Israel the law; they had the responsibility of keeping it, and failed. In the different characters of deposits man failed in each. God could never propose man's sin, though He might give prophecies, and show what He would do when they did fail; so that the apostle could say, “All seek their own, not the things which are Christ Jesus.” Even before the apostle died, he saw the departure from their high privileges of those who were not their own, but bought with a price.
“God is faithful” in whatever state we are to minister the supply that is needed. Our proper place is to present ourselves before God as we are, and this will always humble us. In reference to the passage which has been quoted in Mark 16:17, if the question be asked, wherefore is the power in the church now not the same as in the days of the apostles? Clearly because of man's unfaithfulness. The promise in Mark is not made to the apostles, but to those who believed in the apostles' ministry. It did follow those who believed, and that promise was accomplished; it is left in a vague manner, because it was to be the proof of the faithfulness of the church in the deposit that was given to it, and it failed. Paul and Jude describe the very persons who crept in unawares as the object of Christ's coming with ten thousand of His saints to judge.....In the word of God I get the positive testimony that the church has apostatized, and thus, as to wherefore there is a difference between its state now and in the days of the apostles, there is no difficulty in deciding it (though the cause of the difference should deeply humble us). We have failed in our responsibility as to that which they deposited with us, and that is reason enough.
John's falling down at the feet of the angel to worship him was the very thing which Paul speaks of as the sign of apostasy, though of course in him it was only a momentary error; but it shows the tendency of the flesh, even in the holiest man. The spiritual discovery of the condition in which we are, and the casting ourselves on the resources of God as those who have failed, is perfectly humbling and sorrowful, but “the joy of Jehovah will then be our strength.'“ What was the lesson God was teaching His church when He suffered Paul to be cast into prison? Satan thus appeared to have gained a great advantage, but God's meaning in depriving the church of the presence of the apostle was, that we might get His judgment as to the duty and state of the church without an apostle. The first great duty of the saints now is to humble themselves. (See Phil. 2) The first Adam exalted himself, and soon got humbled; the Second Adam humbled Himself, wherefore God hath highly exalted Him. We read too, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,” &c. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you,” &c. In the distinct consciousness that it was God, and not Paul, who wrought in them, He shows them where they are cast in the absence of an apostle—on God. I do see a distinct difference between what we find in Luke, and the Acts, and that which is opened out to us in John 20 The first was testimony to the Jews respecting Christ, as the anointed Man led of the Spirit, having been rejected by the Jews in that character. He is presented by Peter as the exalted Man, and it is clear to me that He was presented as such to the nation, not to a remnant, as we read in Acts 3:26: “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son, Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” But the rejection of the message delivered to them by Stephen, and his death, close this ministry.
Saul was converted by a testimony to the union of the saints with Christ, who appears to him from the glory, saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” There was in this the direct discovery that, in touching the saints, he was touching the Lord Himself. I do not find anywhere the union of the church with Christ, and of the Jew and Gentile being “fellowheirs of the same body,” &c, except in Paul's epistles. Saul was the willing, active, apostle of Israel's rejection of the Holy Ghost's testimony to Jesus; he is met on this very errand by the Lord in glory, and made the witness of Christ and His saints being one, and he was the instrument of communicating this mystery to the Gentiles. John 14; 15, and 16, I believe, treat of the Spirit quite differently, though they have been all classed together. In chapter 14 the Lord was putting His disciples on the ground of privilege on what had been given them, and not on what they had apprehended, and the condition in the latter part of the chapter I would say has been fulfilled, although I deny not that it should have a practical effect over us; but in the Comforter the church has its own peculiar blessing. And then comes another thing, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” The old vine had been proved to be degenerate, it was one dependent on ordinances. Christ, the true Vine, was the power of fruit bearing, and therefore this is the necessary character of the Christian vine; if it were not to bear fruit, it must be cut off.
Immediately consequent on this we have the promise, “I will send the Comforter,” and now it is as the Spirit of testimony to the world sent by Christ from the Father, and not merely the Spirit of communion sent by the Father in Christ's name. One part of this Paul was incapable of: “Ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning;” but Paul says, “Yea, if I have known Christ after the flesh, henceforth know I him no more.” He does not call himself a witness of the things which happened to Jesus in Jerusalem. I see the same thing in the Hebrews, “which was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;” As a Jew he was the object of testimony, not himself a witness.
I find in 1 Cor. 12, where the various gifts are spoken of, the Lord is spoken of as sending the Spirit, to make us servants of the Lord, and that He is not given as the promise of the Father to children—this was for the perfecting of the saints. Eph. 4 speaks of the same thing. The apostle, having developed the fullness that is in Christ, unfolds the operations of that fullness in those gifts which are for the maturing of the body. The gifts spoken of here are to continue, because the body can never cease to be the object of the care and love of Christ, let it fail ever so much in witness to the world. The question may be asked, had not the church at Corinth failed, and yet the gifts remained amongst them? No; not in the sense in which the church has now failed. Apostolic power could restore them, as it is said, “Ye have perfectly cleared yourselves in this matter.” We there see the exercise of apostolic ministry, not in judging the church when it had failed, but in sustaining the church when it was failing. People sometimes speak of gifts as though they were the instruments of restoring the church. But this is a most mistaken idea. For the Corinthian church came behind in no gift, when it was in a most disorderly state, but still this church was not then put out of its place of testimony to the world through these gifts. The Lord had not then said, “I will remove thy candlestick out of its place."
In the Epistle to the Ephesians we see the blessed source of the church's own fullness, and that it is the habitation of God, where He dwells; and what we want to comprehend is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know that love which ministers to the church, to make it grow up into the fullness of its Head. If God were to exhibit His power now in the church, by giving it the gifts it once had, He would be acting inconsistently with His own righteousness, in identifying Himself with that which has lost its moral character; for surely it is not now the exhibition of what Christ was in the world. But, on the other hand, if the Lord did not now minister the gifts mentioned in the Ephesians, He would fail in maintaining the blessedness of His character, and. the steadfastness of His love to the church.
As to there being positive gifts for ministry in the church now, no doubt there are pastors, teachers, evangelists, as distinctly as possible. One great cause of the confusion and disorder in which the church is now, is the want of wisdom in recognizing these gifts, so that we often find evangelists teaching old saints, and pastors going out to preach to sinners. This shows the confusion which man has produced by his own arrangements.
I could not exactly say that gifts necessarily accompany the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. It is not merely that God has set in the body all these things. If I were asked in what state God made man, I should say, “upright;” but this would not be true of him now. Has every man necessarily a gift now? No there are many services now that cannot be called gifts: the giving a cup of cold water in the name of Christ is a service to Christ and to a saint, but it is not the exercise of a gift, though of more importance than a gift, because it is the proof of love. Whilst the gift is God's and supreme, yet He forms the vessel, and suits it for the distinct gift which He gives to it.
Paul was a highly educated man; Peter was a poor fisherman. He glorified Himself in them both. God chooses the vessel as well as gives the gift. God will be supreme—He uses what vessel He pleases. Paul never went to the feet of Gamaliel for wisdom after he was a saint; he was a prepared vessel in providence, filled in grace. How may any gift be ascertained, &c.? There is not a more important principle than that every gift ascertains itself in its exercise, as says the apostle Paul, “the seal of my apostleship are ye in the Lord.” In the exercise of any gift, nothing can remove us from individual responsibility to the Lord. The Lord gave the gift, and the Lord requires the service. Do not mind the whole church (they are but “chaff") when they interfere with our responsibility to the Lord. Exercise the gift in subjection to God's word, and those who will judge, let them judge. I could not give up my personal responsibility to Christ (miserably as I may fail in it) for all the church ten times told over. The mark of the wicked and unfaithful servant was, that he was waiting for some other warrant than grace to use the talent which had been committed to him. People may say, but many false prophets may go forth thus. Yes, surely they may; and what control can you have over an evil spirit? In John's epistle to the elect lady, we find him saying, even to a woman, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not,” &c. She even was made a judge of the truth. The remedy he had to secure the little ones against the snares of the devil was the truth.
The first thing we want is faithfulness, and real humbleness of mind, and then each one will find his proper niche.
As regards the prayers of the saints for the Spirit, I could not pray for the Holy Ghost, though I could pray to be filled with it, that He might so take possession of my soul, that the power of outward things might be taken away, and that thus He might be able to work in me with unhindered power. While recognizing the Holy Ghost as having been given to the church, and that therefore He cannot be given again, it is very important to remember that the Holy Ghost is God, and therefore the church has to look for fullness which is infinite, and I could most earnestly pray that the Holy Ghost would put forth His energy (I know not how) in the church of God; and this is not stirring up the gift that is in us individually.
On the other hand as to God's dealing with His children in discipline, I do not believe that there is such a thing as God's hiding His face from a Christian; his standing is in God's faithfulness, and God looks on His people in Christ; but I do know that His people get out of communion themselves. I believe that, as to fact, communion may exist, and people think, because of it, that they have none. The feeling of finding out that you have been far from God is because you have found out His presence, which discovers to you the evil of the state you have been in, which was the lesson you wanted to learn. If a child had been slighting his Father's commands, when he was in his Father's presence, it would make him feel very uncomfortable, because it would bring to his mind his disobedience.
When chastening comes to the soul, it is out of communion with God as the Father, and consequently it is as from the Lord, but when I find out the meaning of the discipline, there is distinct apprehension that it is the Father's doing—the Father purging the branch; when the soul is restored to communion, there is the discernment of the parental feeling. It is “the Lord” who judges the church. If as an individual child I look to the Father, when the church is concerned I look to the Lord.
The use of dispensations is to nurture our minds into the knowledge of what God is, from whence all dispensations flow, and to lead them to look on to that time when “God will be all in all."

Brief Thoughts on the Church, as the Body and the House

As in science, so in scripture, one truth leads to another; and the more we learn, the simpler we become: for it is in human things the mastery of a subject that enables us to be simple.
Thus, to take a familiar example, the most profound research into the science of optics results both in the improvement and cheapening of the common telescope. So clearer conceptions of the truth of God, in whatever department we study it, and although pursued in the way of what might be called minute differences, result in a simpler and yet a more substantial gospel. Experience abundantly witnesses to this.
Some may remember when, in the current theology of the day, the Holy Ghost's presence was not even named. It was at best justification by faith; and the Holy Ghost was spoken of as “an influence,” but not going so far as a power and a person, both of which He truly is. Nothing was known of His indwelling in the Christian, nor did they speak of His descent from an ascended Head, because of Christ's—that Head's—exaltation in heaven. It was at most God the Father, Christ the Savior, and the Holy Ghost the Sanctifier. All true, but all for the individual, and even for him imperfectly.
But now that further research into scripture instructs us that, as a dispensational truth, the Holy Ghost is a person sent down here (see John 14; 15:16), inquiry into His action and into the relationships into which that action molds us is of moment. He indwells us individually. (John 4:14; 7:38; Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:19; 1 John 4:15.) But just as pointedly does scripture assert that He indwells us collectively as God's house or temple. (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:22.) And it is on the latter, that is, our collective or united condition, that a few hints are offered with a view to induce the reader to search for himself.
We find several relationships formed, which suppose the presence of God the Holy Ghost in the church, such as the body, and the house or temple. There is another aspect in the kingdom, but this we do not touch on. These just mentioned are the principal terms by which such expression is given to the relationship which the saints corporately hold to Christ through the Holy Ghost. Thus, “the church which is his body.” (Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:24.) Again, “God hath set some in the church” (1 Cor. 12:28), in close connection with “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (Ver. 27.) Thus we have the church and the body in a manner identical, before any failure comes in. In like manner church and house are interchangeable. “If I tarry long that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” (1 Tim. 3:15.)
We have no absolute identification of the body and the house, though the church, a middle term, being identified with both, seems to connect the three together. And this is indeed the truth; for the church looked at as on earth, and under the responsibility of man, may be viewed as the house—nay, even as the “great house” of 2 Tim. 2:20—which, entrusted to man, fails, as everything else does which he undertakes; whilst, as connected with God and His Christ, it maybe viewed as the body of Christ, which never fails. In strictness it is not the body that is said to be indwelt by the Holy Ghost, but the house “in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:22.) And of course the figure of a house and a body are distinct, and neither are used without a meaning; nor is the body liable to failure, as both the church, or rather churches or assemblies, and the house are; and as in fact they do fail. (1 Cor. 3:10-16; Rev. 2; 3:1 Tim. 3:15; compared with 2 Tim. 2:20.) The house of the first Epistle becomes as the great house of the Second, with vessels to dishonor as well as honor.
The body is that into which we are formed by the descent of the Holy Ghost from the Head in glory. The gifts for its edification are looked at in their full result, that is, “till we all come to a perfect man.” Failure therefore is not supposed; whilst the church (or churches) and the house fail from the fact of man having to do with them.
Not that God will ever be disappointed. Whilst man fails in what is entrusted to him, building bad materials upon a good foundation (1 Cor. 3:11-18), God knows how to take care of His own work. (Eph. 2:20, 21; 5:25, 27; 1 Peter 2:4, 5.) In the church, as body or building, His own purposes cannot fail, and they will be realized in the glory.
Doubtless it is of great value to know that the Holy Ghost is here at all; it is something too to be aware that bad men may be found where He dwells. (1 Cor. 3:17.) “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” It is thus that we account for the present condition of Christendom. Perhaps, as to terms, speaking corporately, we should not go wrong in saying that the Holy Ghost forms and energizes the body of Christ (Eph. 4:16), and dwells in the house or temple (1 Cor. 3), over which Christ is as a Son. (Heb. 3:6.) He is Son over His own house, and Head of the body.'
But it is not necessary to over-refine on such a subject. As a practical matter it would seem that, as sovereign grace formed, nourishes, and cherishes the body (Eph. 1; Col. 2), responsibility attaches to the church looked at as the house. (1 Cor. 3; 5:11:29-32.) It is important then, if we learn our place and relationship as thus viewed, to remember it is Christ's house and God's church or assembly, not ours; and things are to be regulated, not by our will, but according to His will as revealed in His word.
In looking into these relationships, established by God Himself, we are at once delivered from the presumption and delusions, no less than the superstitions, of popery and its kindred systems.
The Lord give us to realize all His claims upon us, and to feel them in divine power!
High Littleton, September, 1875. W. W.
[The above paper was the last written by our beloved and departed brother, who desired, even when bodily weakness and suffering left him little respite, to help the least of God's saints. A few expressions have been corrected, which he might have done more fully himself, had he seen the essay in print.—Ed.]

Dr. Bonar's Rent Veil

I do not withdraw anything I have said as to Dr. Bonar. I have never seen him, have no motive for passion or anger against him; but when a man publishes abroad that God did not allow Christ to sleep in Jerusalem, because it was a holy place, and that He stood with the rest of the crowd to get the blessing when the High Priest came out, after offering the blood, on the great day of atonement—no earnestness of judgment or indignation of heart is misplaced. It is the fashion now to get up union without regard to Christ's honor, or the truth, and to put the names of men in the place of what is due to Him. It is well that those who float with the crowd in this should know that there are some, at any rate, who cannot do it—that true Christians should have before their consciences language, such as I have referred to, and be on their guard against the teaching of one who can so speak of the blessed Lord. I never knew any one who made statements so utterly unsupported by scripture, even when there is no particular harm in them, as Dr. Bonar; but this would never have moved my pen, my lips, or my heart. To speak thus of Christ, when it is brought before me, does; and the more the credit in which Dr. Bonar stands, the more need there is that what he says of Christ should be known. But I have done with it. I only hope my testimony may reach the consciences of those who might be misled. It has nothing to do with controversy, or the spirit it is carried on in, but with disgraceful statements as to the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor should I have thought the article in “The Christian,” on its own account, worthy of any reply. The statements of the word I should have thought a sufficient answer, the truth having been put forth. But I feel the subject of the greatest possible importance, and therefore do not let it drop. I use no strong words here; many dear souls do not see clearly the truth on the point, and suffer by it. They have not the liberty before God they might have, and true holiness suffers by it; but it is a want of light, and that is not a subject of reproach.
To be reduced to such an argument, taken from a possible but uncertain illustration, as one coming up from bathing having to wash his feet, dirtied in coming up, to prove that since the first washing was by blood, the second must be, is to show that a person has not much to say.
There is a cleansing or washing by water as well as by blood. I have little doubt that the real allusion is to the priest, whose whole body was washed when they were consecrated, and afterward washed hands and feet—here only the feet. But weak as it is, the whole of the argument is founded on the first washing in John 13 being with blood, which it surely is not. All blessing is founded on the value of Christ's precious blood, from the cleansing of our conscience from sin to the new heavens and the new earth; yea, the glory of God Himself and the Son of man's glory above. God's glory, our peace, and the immutable stability of all blessings depend on it. That is not the question, but whether our consciences are cleared once for all by the sacrifice of Christ, known of course by faith. The article in “The Christian” insists in substance, though enveloping the matter in a mist, that we are not so cleared once for all—that the blood must be reapplied for this purpose. The Epistle to the Hebrews declares that we are perfected forever, and that God remembers our sins and iniquities no more; that there being only one offering implies that the worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins; that if it were not so, Christ must have often suffered. Now I do not call in question the putting or sprinkling of the blood on us. He has washed us too, it is said, from our sins in His own blood—only He has done it.
In the Old Testament we have the covenant sealed by the sprinkling of blood, or putting it on the person—the leper cleansed by it, the priest consecrated by it; but these once for all. But there is another aspect of the blood, which is that insisted on in the Hebrews, namely, its being presented to God. You have not the application of it in the Hebrews, but its being taken within the veil. No doubt the value of this is enjoyed by faith, but the great subject of the epistle is its being presented to God. On the great day of atonement referred to (Heb. 9:12), there was no sprinkling of blood on the people, but on and before the mercy seat, whore God sat between the cherubim, and the transfer of the sins to the scapegoat (and this, note, was what cleared their sins); and it is this that these chapters insist on, adding an allusion to the red heifer, of which I will speak. Hence, note, so far from the sprinkling of the blood of bulls and goats in the first part of verse 15 of Heb. 9, necessarily involving, as is stated in “The Christian,” its being the sprinkling of blood in the latter part (as both included in the antitype in verse 14), there was no sprinkling of the blood of bulls and of goats at all on the great day of atonement referred to, except on the mercy seat; it was not any sprinkling of the blood on the people which cleared them. There is no foundation for this argument at all. Sprinkling of blood on us is not spoken of in the passage. The whole argument in it is founded on Christ being offered only once, and then sitting down, having entered in once by His own blood. The only sprinkling with blood in the chapter is in verse 19—the blood of the covenant at Mount Sinai: which was certainly not repeated, and is not the question indeed before us.
In verse 14 even, no sprinkling or application is spoken of, but of the value of it to purge the conscience—He having offered Himself without spot to God. It is always this that is insisted on. Shedding of blood is what is urged—the value of the sacrifice, not its application by sprinkling. From verses 24 to 28 we have carefully urged, in a manner that leaves no question as to it, that it is Christ's offering Himself, and entering into heaven to appear in the presence of God for us, which is the subject the Holy Ghost insists on; suffering once, appearing once in the end of the world, to put away sin, bearing the sins of many, and being now at the right hand of God—in the presence of God for us—after accomplishing it once for all, or He must often have suffered. This is what is set before our minds—the value and character of the one act, and Christ being gone up on high—and this only.
Chapter 10 is equally clear. It is the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all that sanctifies by God's will. Christ is not, as the Jewish priests, ever standing, occupied with a work which can never finish. He is set down when He had offered one sacrifice for sins, having no more to do for His friends, till His enemies be made His footstool— “for by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified;” and to this the Holy Ghost testifies. God's will, Christ's work (now set down), the Holy Ghost's testimony concur to give constant assurance in coming to God. There is no thought of sprinkling or applying the blood to us in the passage. It is another order of thought—many offerings, which can never take away sins, or one, offered once by Him who is now gone to God. Another remark is needed here, the force of “forever." It is continuous or continual. It is translated rightly in verse 1—offered continually. It was constantly going on. Now, Christ, having offered one sacrifice of Himself, sits down continuously, and we are continuously perfect; our conscience is as constantly perfect as Christ is constantly sitting at God's right hand.
The solemn warning which follows confirms, in the strongest way, the same truth, and the true sense of the passage. If this sacrifice be given up, if we sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is no more an offering for sins, but a fearful looking for of judgment. It is not reapplication, the value of the blood sprinkled on us being lost, but an impossibility of repetition of what has been done, because it has been done once for all. The whole passage is the urgent insisting on this, that this blessed efficacy cannot be repeated. Indeed this is universally the case in the Hebrews. Sin, if returned to, is always looked at as finally fatal. It is drawing back to perdition—impossibility to renew to repentance. At any rate, the point here is not repetition of sprinkling to cleanse, but the impossibility of repetition of that which cleanses, as that which is done once for all. Nor is it exactly justification, though akin to it; justification has judgment in view—is judicial in its character. This contemplates entrance into the holiest, and a present and constant cleanness suited to and necessary for it—a perfect conscience—no more conscience of sins—or a new sacrifice must be offered, and repeated suffering of Christ, which is impossible. By one offering He has perfected forever—for a constant state—them that are sanctified. I do not see how anything can be clearer or more definite and positive. I am as constantly perfect as Christ is constantly sitting at the right hand of God, and, indeed, because He is, appearing in the presence of God for me, the perpetual living witness that all my sins are gone, for He is there who bore them, and all the value of His blood who has cleansed me by it.
But I am told that the washing of the feet in John 13 is by blood. The simple answer is, the chapter speaks of water, not of blood— “The Lord poured water in a basin;” that is not blood. What Peter looked for when the Lord said, “If I wash thee not,” was water, not blood; and to this the Lord answers, “He that is washed” (replying to Peter, who referred to the water He had in the basin) “needeth not, save to wash his feet.” The whole chapter speaks of water, and of nothing else. It is what He had in the basin—what He was cleansing their feet with, and what the whole chapter is about, the Lord actually using it then, and referring to it. I speak of the word, as signified by it, because, as the Lord, referring to this water washing which was before their eyes, says, “Ye are clean, but not all,” Judas being there; and in chapter 15, Judas being gone, “Now [already] ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you;” it is a gratuitous and mischievous alteration of the passage to apply it to blood, when the Lord had the water there, and was speaking of it. A man cannot be converted and born twice of the word, any more than he can be justified and cleansed with blood twice.
The red heifer remains. One thing is perfectly clear—there is no sprinkling the man with blood in the account given. The blood was sprinkled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation seven times, and as it was on the mercy seat on the great day of atonement. As a fact, the man was sprinkled with running water with the ashes in it. If it is merely meant that the blood of Christ is the basis of all cleansing, I receive it fully. But the sprinkling of the blood is brought in here definitely and positively, elsewhere than on the man the blood was sprinkled with perfect efficacy, seven times, at the door of the tabernacle, where the people met God. There was no sprinkling with blood to cleanse, and what was noted was, that the sin had been dealt with long before, and consumed, so to speak, when the heifer was killed and burned. The thing the man was cleansed with, the running water and the ashes, which were a witness that this was so. There was no application or sprinkling of blood, as blood, but the witness that this had been done long ago, the blood was gone in the fire, shed and sprinkled at the door of the tabernacle—the sin gone—according to the holiness of God's nature, and the efficacy of Christ's offering, and the value of it, perpetually before God, at the place where the people met Him. There was no sprinkling with blood, but the witness of the unbearableness of sin to God, according to that which had consumed and put it away, as to us, long ago; and the blood had disappeared in the sacrifice which had been consumed, and in which sin had been judged, while its efficacy remained constantly under the eye of God, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, where, and where only, it was sprinkled as shed blood. For the rest, as made sin, all had been consumed in the fire of God's judgment.
This is all they have to say to deny the plain statement, the blessed statement, that we are perfected forever. No instance, no word of reapplication of the blood, or resprinkling with blood, can they find. This is quite certain. It is only an effort to make out that what is expressly water in scripture means blood, in order to deprive us of what scripture gives—a perfect conscience—no more conscience of sins when once purged.
As to the remarks on our washing one another's feet, forgiveness has nothing to do with it, that is only as to what concerns ourselves. We cannot apply blood to another, but we can, by grace, apply the word, and not suffer sin on our brother. What is said is hardly worth the words I have spent upon it. The statement that the passage quoted from the Hebrews applies only to the objective efficacy, not the subjective condition of the soul, is met by the simple remark, that the passage speaks of the objective efficacy in its effect on the subjective condition, namely, no more conscience of sins.
I never saw a more hopeless effort to get rid of the direct statement of scripture, a more utter absence of apprehension of what it says, in any comment in my life. I insist on its being its objective efficacy, not application, here; but the whole object of the passage is to show that this, known by faith, has complete efficacy on the subjective condition, namely, that it purges the conscience; in this sense making us perfect forever—continuously. Is not that a subjective condition? I wish for no greater testimony than the opponents of this blessed truth are denying what scripture states, and have not apprehended God's testimony at all. If you want a proof of the incompetency of unbelief, you have only to read this paragraph, and compare it with Heb. 9 and 10.
A purged conscience—a perfect conscience. This, they say, is “conscience as to objective efficacy of the sacrifice, not the subjective condition of one's own soul:” the whole object of the passage being to show that faith in the objective efficacy has this subjective effect. Such is unbelief. That should draw out only gracious diligence to remove it. The effort to cultivate unbelief in the blessed word, and hinder souls receiving it, is a graver wrong.
As to hypothetical circumstances for a Jewish conscience, as is alleged as to Heb. 10, they are Christianity as it there goes on to explain. This is all very bad. But I repeat here, the question is not treated judicially in Hebrews It is a question of boldness to enter into the holiest, and that is always ours. Psa. 32 just proves the contrary of that for which it is cited. The confession spoken of led to being forgiven, and no imputation left. The confession was not of sin committed subsequent to the forgiveness spoken of in the first verse, but what led to it, as plain as words can make it, and then no sin was imputed. He had kept silence, was at last brought to confess, and so had forgiveness: and the apostle uses it to show a state of no imputation of sin. There too the apostle urges, the objective faith gives the subjective state of peace with God.
The whole paper then is simply a denial of the truth of the purging of a believer's conscience—a perfecting us forever in an uninterrupted state as to this before God. It seeks with vain efforts to make the water mean, blood, leaving no place for the scriptural use of the water—plunging the believer back into uncertainty of conscience before God, instead of applying the judgment of failure to a question of holiness, for one who walks in the light, as God is in the light, never allowing the soul to get beyond the question of guilt, and making it content when that is settled, falsifying, as has been done ever since the scriptures have been closed, the whole truth of Christianity for the souls of men. Unbelief in the true force of Heb. 10, and the truth contained in it, as to the true subjective condition of the Christian, was the real origin of all the superstition and corruption of the church.
I knew the case of a charitable institution in Ireland, where New Testaments were left to be read by those for whose advantage it was carried on, where Heb. 9 and 10 were torn out, and when the guilty ones were discovered, they said if those were true the priests misled them, and that they did not believe. And now Protestant teachers are trying to do away its force; but this began immediately after the apostle's decease. The utter weakness of the effort here to get rid of the truth is more manifest than usual, by the attempt to say that the conscience being purged, and we perfect as to it, is not a subjective condition of the soul.
It is tantamount to a confession they have no ground to stand upon, Other points I might notice; but my object, and only object, is to keep, by answering this paper, the great truth before the soul—that by one offering Christ has perfected us forever; and that the worshippers once purged through that offering should have no more conscience of sins.

Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 12

Saul having been safely shipped away to a far-off place, the Jews recognize that they have nothing to fear from the rest, and consequently leave the assemblies throughout the whole of Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria in peace: but the time has come for the other sheep, not of the Jewish fold, to be brought also into the flock; for the children's bread to be cast to the dogs, for the middle wall of partition to be cleared off the ground, for it to be plainly shown that no man must be reckoned common or unclean, and the one chosen of the Holy Spirit to set his hand first to this work was one whose ministry, appointed him of God, was just in an opposite direction, even Peter, whose mission was to the circumcision, the one least Jewish of the apostles in birth, home, and education, being an unlearned Galilean, but just as the learned Hebrew of the Hebrews, Saul of the Pharisees, was sent to carry the gospel to the Gentiles, yet was used by the Holy Spirit to declare a final testimony—a testimony of that character—to the Jews; so to Peter, the apostle to the circumcision, was it given to be the first to open the door of faith to the Gentiles.
How strikingly is the wisdom and love of God manifested in this. For the Lord would have all His members in perfect rejoicing fellowship with Himself, and with one another, in their separate lines of work and service. How gently does the Lord lead His saints! Peter, who, when last heard of, was fixed at Jerusalem, is now passing through all quarters—Lydda and Joppa—but still confining his ministration of blessing exclusively to the children, leaving the Gentiles, the unclean outsiders, to starve. But the time had come for the hungry to be fed, because they were hungry, no matter whether Jew or Gentile, clean or unclean. The same Lord over all, who is rich unto all that call upon Him, had heard a hungry one crying continually to be fed; the time had come to feed him, and Peter's hand must do it. Cornelius, a man who had prayed and not fainted, and with whom delay had made him cry out so much the more, thus doing, has moved the hand—how willing to be moved—of Him who bowed Himself to the earth, and had died under the curse against sin, that He might feed with the bread of life all who should hunger for Him—to take of the holy bread, the bread of God, and feed this hungry one—no common bread, but hallowed bread, such as is lawful only for the priests to eat. The heavenly King, at the right hand of power, the very sight of whom casts the chiefest earthly man prostate, now claims, upon His own authority, from priest like Peter this holy food, to give to whomsoever He might choose, and He had chosen to knit up in that great sheet of grace all sorts and kinds of men. But a full portion is not committed to the hand of Peter, and a man can only give that which he has received, pure, fragrant, most holy, the sweet savor of an offering made by, fire, but only five loaves instead of twelve—a half completed testimony by a remnant to the sojourners of the dispersed of Israel—and this is the Gentile strangers first taste of the food of God, become already common, in a manner, since a fresh and full portion, a better thing, had that day been presented by the hand of Paul, namely, that this spotless Man that in the fire sent up such sweet odors unto God, was Son of God; this hallowed bread, that Jesus of Nazareth, the good-doer, slain by crucifixion, raised up of God, is by Him determinately appointed Judge of living and dead, that through His name every one that believes on Him will receive remission of sins—the Gentile boldly takes, the Holy Spirit owns the right and due authority of Him who demanded it for them, setting His seal that they are children of God, therefore with right to eat the children's bread: “for to as many as received him, to them gave he right to take their place as children of God, even to them that believe on his name.” All is joy, and glory, and power; but amid it all the Holy Spirit lifts for a moment the veil that covers the designs of the adversary. One of the chiefest instruments by which the spirit of evil, working by the prejudices of system, sought to destroy the work of God, was the clinging to circumcision as a needful thing; and the Holy Spirit writes, that astonishment was the feeling in the heart of the faithful of the circumcision when they saw the grace and work of God.
May the Lord ever keep us subject to Him, knowing His mind, having no thoughts of our own. Timorous ones of the stock of Esau are thus selling their birthright for a mess of pottage, bartering the heavenly inheritance for an earthly portion, counting the heavenly bread, the word of God, as not sufficient for all their need, but must have some earthly ceremonies also, something for the flesh to glory in. They thought to have Christ was well, but to have Christ and Moses was to make assurance doubly sure, not knowing the grace of God, who, having spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will with Him freely give us all things, not as bringing anything besides, or making up anything that is lacking, but that, with the gift of Him, all other good is given. Thus the man of earth, who loved his life, has lost forever the place and blessing he owned by birth; while the younger son, the supplanter, has taken away his blessing: so that the first is last, and the last first, for many are called, but few chosen. The Lord give us to find all our treasure in Christ, nothing—not a desire or thought—outside of Him, lest our souls should begin to loathe this light, this heavenly food, so that, having our heart's desire—meat for our lust—we should get leanness to our souls, and having preached to others, should be rejected ourselves as to our measure of blessing.
But great as is the work which is accomplished in the pouring out upon the Gentiles the gift of the Holy Spirit, something more is needed to complete it. The instrument used by the Lord to show forth the great deliverance He had wrought for Israel, even baptism must be used on this occasion also, and for all future time, until He shall come in power, having put His enemies under His feet. The man fed with this new food must now be armed. The church, the body of Christ, just come up from the wilderness—Himself as indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and in resurrection—had nothing but a sling and stone, the word of life, and therewith gained the victory, then uses Goliath's sword—baptism, the type of death—to let all Israel know. So now Peter, as representing the head of the body, the church, demands that it shall no longer be set apart for Jewish use alone, but for Gentile also.
Henceforth the church stands alone, absolutely distinct and separate from all else on the earth, claiming to be entitled, by a right in itself, to all that was good, for food or fight, life and service, whenever needed, and wherever found, though still covertly and in mystery: and for the moment we pass over the formal recital by Peter to the assembly of the manner in which God had granted to the nations repentance to life by his ministry, and also how at Antioch they were formally brought into the fellowship of the church, taking an identical place and name with the Jew, under the teaching of Paul and Barnabas; for these are the starting points of a new era in the history of the church, and one reason for which they are mentioned here, is to show that the old path, as well as the new start, were both according to God, and that it was a state of transition, in which he who had ministered in the line of things that was closing up, yet had perfect fellowship with those who superseded him: and we pass on to the closing scene of Peter's ministry.

Scripture Queries and Answers: 1 Corinthians 6:2

Q. 1 Cor. 6:2. Έν ὑμῖν is by competent scholars translated “before you.” May not this decide the meaning of the world and even angels being judged? That is, not by the saints as assessors with Christ but as witnesses in whose presence the judgment takes place.
Α. Wetstein has shown by sufficient examples that κρίνεσθαι ἐν is a technical phrase for being judged at such or such a tribunal: Aristides de Soc. i. p. 128; Platon. ii. pp. 214, 261. Polyb. v. 29. Plut. Themist p. 128. Cat. p. 849. Lysias c. Philost. and Diod. Sic. xix. 61.
With κρ. therefore ἐν is quite distinct from ἔμπροσθεν or ἐνὼπιον and beyond controversy confirms instead of enfeebling what had been just laid down as an axiom of common Christian knowledge, that the saints are to judge the world and even angels, not merely to be present when their judgment proceeds before the Lord. So Raphelius and Kypke, the last explaining the idiomatic use of ἐν from a company of judges in the midst of whom the case is disposed of. But the truth is that the preposition branches out from a mere local or material idea of inclusion into various applications characterizing what is spokeν of, and so even meaning “with” or “by,” as grammars and lexicons will show. κρίνεσθαι ἐπί is much more to be “judged before” as any one can see in the preceding verse 1: ἐν ὑμῖν should be distinguished from this, as it unquestionably is the strictly proper phrase for the closer sense of “by you.” It is not the final judgment, that of the dead, which is in the hands of the Lord, the Son of man (John 5), but of the quick, judging akin to the sense of reigning. (See Matt. 19:28; Rev. 20:4.) Even now angels are ministering spirits sent out for service on account of those who shall inherit salvation: how much more when the saints shall be glorified and reign with Christ!

Notes on John 7:53 and 8:1-11

We are now arrived at a section of our Gospel, the external condition of which is to the reflecting mind a solemn evidence of human unbelief, here as daring as usually it appears to hesitate. No evangelist has suffered as much in this way, not even Mark, whose close disappears from two of the most ancient manuscripts. But as, we saw, the angel's visit to trouble the waters of Bethesda was unwelcome to not a few copyists of John 5, so here again incredulity indisposed some to reproduce the story of the adulteress. This is plain from some copies (as L A), which leave a blank—a fact wholly inexplicable, if the scribe had not been aware of a paragraph which he knew to exist, but, for reasons of his own, thought fit to omit. Others, again, transposed it to another place, as the cursives, 1, 19, 20, 129, 135, 207, 301, 347, &c, to the end of the Gospel (and 225 after chap. 7:36), and even to another evangelist, as 13, 69, 124, and 461, though alien in tone from all but John, and suiting no place in John but here, where the mass of authority gives it. à A (probably) Β C (probably) Τ X with many cursives and ancient versions simply omit the passage; D F (defective) G Η Κ U Τ (defective), not far short of 300 cursives, and many versions have it. It is marked by an asterisk, or obelisk, in E M S Λ, &c. The variations of the copies which do give it are considerable. This brief view of the evidence may suffice for the general reader, as it is more than enough to prove the peculiarity of the case externally.
As regards the internal evidence, some have alleged against the passage its entire diversity from the style of the Gospel elsewhere; and this, not merely in words and idiom which John never uses, but in its whole cast and character, which is said to savor more of the synoptic Gospels.
All this, however, fails to meet the positive weight of truth in the passage, and its fitness at this very point of the Gospel utterly unaccountable in a forgery or a tradition. The Lord is displaying the true light in His person, as contrasted with others who boasted in the law. We have seen their conscienceless discussion in the preceding chapter. “And they went each to his home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” Afar from man's uncertainty and contempt, the Son of God retired to enjoy the fellowship of the Father. Thence He returns for service. “And early in the morning he came again to the temple, and all the people were coming unto him; and he sat down, and was teaching them.” (Ver. 2.) The Lord's habit in this respect, recorded by Luke (21:37, 38; 22:36), is a strange reason for discrediting John's mention of this particular instance. Nor do I see any reason to question that it was not merely “the crowd” (ὄχλος), but “the people” in a large sense (λαός) which here flocked to the Lord's teaching in the temple.
“And the scribes and the Pharisees bring to him a woman taken in adultery, and having set her in [the] midst, they say to him, Teacher, this woman was taken in the very act of adultery. Now in the law Moses charged us that such should be stoned: thou, therefore, what sayest thou? But this they said proving him, that they might have [whereof] to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger was writing on the ground.” (Vers. 8-6.)
Such is man at his best estate when he sees and hears Jesus, but refuses the grace and truth which came by Him. They were not ignorant men, but learned in the scriptures; they were not the crowd that knew not the law, but possessed of the highest reputation for religion. Nor could there be a question as to the guilt and degradation of the woman. Why they brought her, and not her paramour, does not appear. But her they brought in the hope, not only of perplexing, but of finding ground of accusation against, the Lord. It seemed to them a dilemma which allowed of no escape. Moses, said they, bade the Jews stone such as she. What did Jesus say? If He only confirmed the decree of the law, where was the grace so much boasted of? If He let her off, did He not evidently set Himself in opposition, not only to Moses, but to Jehovah? What profound iniquity! No horror at sin, even of the darkest dye, but an unfeeling perversion of the exposed adulteress, to entrap the Holy One of God.
But if the Lord wrote on the ground, it was in no way as if He heard them not. Rather was it to give them time to weigh their guilty question, and guiltier motive, while their hope of entrapping Him betrayed them more and more to commit themselves as He stooped to the ground.
“And when they continued asking him, he lifted himself up, and said to them, Let him that is without sin among you first cast the stone at her; and, again stooping down, he was writing on the ground. But they, having heard [it] and being convicted by their consciences, kept going out one by one, beginning from the elder ones until the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in [the] midst.” (Ver. 79.) Thus did the Lord show Himself the true light which lightens every man. Occupied with the law in its condemnation of the adulteress, and indeed far more essaying to condemn the Lord Himself, their darkness is laid bare by these few solemn words. God judges sin, not gross sins, but all sin, be it what it may be; and the Judge of quick and dead was He who thus searched them through and through. It was no question of the law for either now: they shrank abashed from the light, even though Jesus stooped down again, and was writing on the ground. Assuredly He heard their question, and discerned their iniquitous aim, veiled as it was; and now they heard Him, and cowered before His all scathing words of light. Convicted by their consciences, but in no way repentant, they sought to flee, ashamed to see His face, who stooped once more, and thus gave them time to retire, if they refused to bow with broken spirit and heartfelt confession. This, however, it is not the object of the passage to illustrate, but the supremacy of divine light in Jesus, let Him be ever so lowly, and in presence of the proudest. And they were going off, one by one, beginning at the elder until the last, beginning at those who dreaded most their own exposure—an exposure which the youngest could not bear, only less ashamed of their fellows than of Jesus, who had awakened the feeling. How awful the contrast with their own sweet singer, who, spite of his sins, could say by grace, “Thou art my hiding place!” —hiding in God, not from Him, and having before him One who could, and would, cover all his iniquities, and impute nothing. Vain indeed is our effort to cover our sins, or to escape from His presence. But unbelief trusts itself, not Him, and shows the will to get away from His light, as it may for a little season, till judgment come. How will it be then? It will be theirs to stoop in shame and everlasting contempt, when evasion cannot be even for a moment, and all is fixed forever.
Jesus, then, was left alone, as far as the tempting scribes and Pharisees were concerned, and the woman in the midst; for “all the people” appear to have been around, and He addresses them in a subsequent discourse, which seems to be founded on this very incident, as giving occasion to it. (See vers. 12 and seqq.) “And Jesus lifting himself up, and seeing no one but the woman, said to her, Woman, where are they, thine accusers? Did no one condemn thee? And she said, No one, Sir. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” (Vers. 10, 11) It is the mistake of Augustine, as of others in modern no less than ancient times, that we have here “misera” in the presence of “misericordia,” which is much more true of the scene at the end of Luke 7. Here the Lord acts as light, not only in the detection of His self-righteous and sinful adversaries, but throughout. There was no need, however, for His exposure of the woman caught in the very act of sin. Hence the ignorance of the scribes who left out the tale was as glaring as their impiety was without excuse. There is not the last semblance of levity in dealing with her evil. The Lord simply brings out the fact that her accusers retreat from the light which convicted their conscience, when the law had utterly failed to reach it; and as they could not condemn her, because they were sinners no less truly than herself, so He would not. It was not His work to deal with causes criminal any more than civil. But if grace and truth came by Him, He is none the less the true light; and so He abides here. As we do not hear of repentance in the woman, so we have no such words from Him as,” Thy sins are forgiven thee,” “Thy faith hath saved thee,” “Go in peace.” He is the light still, and goes not beyond “go and sin no more.” By-and-by He will act as a king, and judge righteously; on their own showing He speaks as a “teacher,” not a magistrate. And it was a question of sin, but most unexpectedly of theirs as well as hers, if they face the light of God.
The words of our Lord are utterly lowered by each as infer that, either to the accusers or to the accused, He restrains sin to that offense against purity of which the woman was guilty. He means any and all sin as intolerable to God, who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all.

Peace: John 20:19

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and stood in their midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."
It is a great thing to say with authority “peace,” and a great thing for the heart to feel the power of these words.
The Lord had said before, “My peace I give unto you;” and this too is the portion of believers now. But the disciples had not peace without: witness the door shut on account of the Jews. They thought it had been He who should have redeemed Israel; and so they were in much confusion of heart, and great fear of those without.
They still trusted in the Savior, in a sort, though He was not returned, and therefore they were in dismay as regarded their hopes, and they feared because of the Jews. God might sustain their hearts, but there was nothing to rest on as a present thing.
Now to this point the soul must be brought—to see no hope but in Christ, even though at the same time Christ may not be found.
The Spirit of grace speaking to the sinner convince him of his lost condition; but the power of grace alone can give peace in the knowledge of sine forgiven.
It is to be remarked here that the disciples had leant on Jesus as the Messiah, their thoughts had been that He should have redeemed Israel, that is, lead them on to comfort and blessing; there was this character of trust in Messiah, through whom, while with them, they lacked nothing, for He gave them power and blessing; but to the disciples at that time all this was gone. Jesus on whom they rested, to whom they looked for support and strength, was not there; and to them that knew Him not as risen, everything was gone.
So we may hear of Jesus' name, and His love; and this may please and attract the mind, when the Lord is working in grace. But at the same time it is like the disciples resting on a living Savior, yet with no knowledge that we are lost. Jesus may have so attracted our minds, that the world may appear to us but lost, and nothing but Jesus valuable, and we may say even as the disciples, in Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life;” but this is not seeing that we are lost, or knowing the power of the resurrection.
The convincing of sin is a time of most special distress, the world gone, Jesus lost as to sense and appearance, and not found again; but it is when in this state and condition, Jesus reveals Himself, and how? Saying “Peace be unto you.” And this is not simply blessing and strength to the weak, it is not supply to need that suits the lost: there must be a Savior for the lost. A man in want may go to the world for supply, and will do so undoubtedly if he be unregenerate; but if a soul feels itself lost, nothing will satisfy him until he finds a Savior, and here the value of the cross comes in. The cross is not only the image of our lost condition, but all that belongs to us is there expressed, as borne by another, and here the case of a sinner is met. We may have been before looking for supplies from Jesus to meet our supposed need, but the discovery of our being lost is only met in the cross. The natural man can see it a happy thing to be saved, a happy thing to have his sins forgiven. But to see the power and the effect of the cross, the wrath borne, the cup drunk, to see the curse laid upon Jesus, meets the need of those who have a sense of what is due to sin; the heart that knows what it is to be lost responds to this, a new light breaks in on the soul in the perception in Jesus of what sin has done; had we to learn it in ourselves, it could only be in everlasting destruction. And what is the sense of a curse passing on the head of that blessed one, if it was net for us? It does not merely draw our affections, but the knowledge that we are lost is forced upon us, in the death of Jesus. What sense is there in the Son of God in the grave, if not for us? A sinless person in life and conduct, the brightness of God's subsistence, and perfect as man; what relation has this to us? What bearing has it on our souls? I speak not now of grace or supply to the believer, but what meaning is there of oar souls in the cross of Christ? what sense is there in the death of Christ, if you are not lost? Lost by all the evil, the sin, the vileness, the transgression that required nothing less than the blood of Christ to blot it out; if your condition is not that to which the blood alone is the answer, let it alone; but if it be, there is One on whom the judgment of God came for sin, One in whom all is accomplished for us, and there it ends. The knowledge of this by the Holy Spirit brings the complete sense of ruin, but with it the perception of being saved; for the knowledge of our being lost, when fully known in Jesus, brings with it the knowledge that we are saved, and then come those blessed words, “Peace be unto you.” But the poor disciples with the power of Satan round them, and Jesus gone, show the state of those who do not fully understand the power of deliverance in the cross.
The Lord said of Job, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him?” The candle of the Lord shone upon him, but in the character of Job it is revealed to us that none can stand in the presence of the adversary. The comforts of the Lord are first of all withdrawn from Job, and then an evil disease cleaves to him; yet in this he sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. But afterward we see him entirely broken down in the presence of the adversary; he was a man whom God could point out then as having none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man; yet could he not, with Satan as his adversary, stand before God; and this causes him to make himself more righteous than God, and to curse the day on which he was born. But what is the result, but the opening of the lips of Job to say, “I have heard of thee, by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes?” Not so Christ; He was one who stood before the adversary in the presence of the Lord. And the resurrection proved how unfailing His service was; and we learn in the sorrow and the suffering of His righteous soul, and in His death what sin is. The Lord coming under the title of death which Satan had against u8, bearing our sins—this is what the cross is. It was anticipated by the soul of Jesus, when sore amazed in the garden. It went on in the soul of Jesus when He said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the weight of the wrath upon Him we learn what the cross was; and if you feel that you are lost, you will know the meaning and the value of it.
It is not a crucified Savior now, but a risen One who speaks to us, the giver of all victory to us over all that was against us, having delivered us from suffering under it. And consequently the word “peace be unto you” is the authoritative expression of One who knew the ruin, and yet could say “peace,” because in the full knowledge that everything was done that could bring peace to the soul; for He had risen from the power of sin and death, having met the adversary to the face; and what could a risen Savior say but “peace?” Could He speak of wrath when He had borne the sin and the curse, and He risen over it all? What could He say but this? And it is a risen Savior who does say “peace” to those who have no peace; to those who know the meaning of the cross, what the cross showed the requirement of, is finished forever, and therefore to those that believe, it is “Peace,” “Peace."
The first person whom the Lord addresses after His resurrection is one out of whom He had cast seven demons; but grace had won her affections. She was drawn to Jesus, though looking indeed for the living among the dead, but still she was looking for Jesus; and the Mary He singled out to reveal Himself to was the one in whom the full energy of evil had been shown out; and to her the blessed Lord spoke that one word which revealed at once to her, that He who had died was alive again—Mary—giving her a hope that was beyond destruction, because Jesus was beyond the grave. Jesus, He whom her thoughts and affections were set on, was alive for evermore, and all her hopes rested in the endless life of Him who died for her. What could be darkness to her if Jesus was alive? The darkness had been gone through, for in Jesus' death she had tasted it for a time; but He was risen for evermore, and the riches of God's grace through the power of Christ, we find, was first revealed to one who had been possessed with seven demons.
And if the Lord speaks “peace” to the soul, what is the meaning of it? This gives it power, that it is not a mere passing word of kindness, but peace, eternal peace, because peace is made by His having borne our sins, by virtue of what He accomplished on the cross. It is on this ground He says “peace;” and if you see that in this sense He never speaks “peace” till He is risen, you see that “being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Much more then being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Rom. 5:19.)
Have your souls known this peace? and have you known what it is to be lost? Not merely acknowledging the need of a Savior or looking for supplies from Jesus; but knowing that what was due to you was borne by Jesus?
It presses too keenly on the heart and conscience to look at the cross unless you can say, It is peace.
The careless heart of man cannot bear to look at the cross, except he be at the foot of it, acknowledging his need of it; for he has to measure himself by the wrath poured out on Jesus. But if your back is turned on the cross, there is none to give peace. The cross may cause us shame when it leads us to see what sin is, but itself it is the power of God unto salvation.
Haste then to God who beseeches you to be reconciled; and may the Lord in the riches of His grace show you the vileness of sin, and that Jesus has drunk the bitter cup of wrath; that Jesus is the risen Savior; that you may enter that life of peace, through Him, who, in that He died, died unto sin once, that he who liveth might live unto God.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 10:23 and 11:1

Thus had the apostle shown the danger of idolatry, from the inveterate tendency, not of the Gentiles merely in their habitual worship of idols, but of the very people separated to Jehovah as His witnesses against it. He had also proved that to partake of sacrificial feasts in a heathen temple is none the less idolatrous, because, if the idol is nothing, the demons are very serious indeed, as the enemies of God and man. The meat in itself maybe harmless, but to eat it thus is to have communion with the demons behind the idol, and so to renounce the fellowship of Christ. For one cannot have both: Christianity, Judaism, heathenism, are exclusive of each other. The Lord must feel and judge such unfaithfulness on the part of His own; His love and honor could not pass by a virtual renunciation of Himself.
But if a Christian should abstain from idol sacrifice out of love to a weak brother, and yet more for fear of provoking the Lord's jealousy, is it wrong in itself to eat such meat? Certainly not. As he began, so he closes. “All things are lawful, but do not profit; all things are lawful, but do not edify. Let no one seek his own [advantage], but his neighbor's [literally, that of the other].” (Vers. 28, 24.) The principle laid down in chapter 6 is enlarged. It is not merely lawful “to me,” nor it is a question here of being brought under the power of any. There indifference as to meats exposed some to impurity, here to idolatry. The apostle urges not merely exemption from evil, but positive edification. This love alone secures; because it looks not at its own things, and seeks the good of others. It would please one's neighbor, with a view to good to edification. Even Christ, in whom was no evil, did not please Himself, but rather took on Himself the reproaches of those that reproached Jehovah. Thus it is not enough to avoid being brought under the power of anything, but one should seek the profit, not of self, but of others, and the building up of all.
Hence we have the principle applied in general, and tested particularly, in verses 25-80. “Everything that is offered for sale in the shambles eat, examining nothing for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord's, and its fullness. And if any of the unbelieving inviteth you, and ye desire to go, all that is set before you eat, examining nothing for conscience sake. But if any say to you, This is sacrificed, eat not for his sake that pointed [it] out and conscience, but conscience, I say, not one's own, but the other's; for why is my liberty judged by another conscience? If I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?” Thus the principle of God's creation holds good for all that is on sale in the market, as well as for what might be on an unbeliever's table, if one should go there, and one may eat in either case without special inquiry. It is otherwise, not merely in an idol temple, but even in private, where one should say, This is offered to holy purposes, because he evidently has a conscience about it, though one otherwise might have perfect liberty. It is good in such a case to deny oneself, and not expose one's liberty to be judged by another, or incur evil speaking for the thing for which I give thanks. One must in love respect the scruple of the weakest saint, while holding fast by the intelligence and liberty of Christ.
The apostle then lays down the still larger and golden rule of Christian conduct: “Whether, then, ye eat or drink, or do anything, do all things unto God's glory. Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews or Greeks, or to the church of God; even as I too please all in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but that of the many, that they be saved. Be imitators of me, even as I too am of Christ.” (Ver. 31; 11:1) Thus, if one does all to God's glory, self is not sought to be gratified, but given up; and in this way is no stumblingblock presented to man, on the one hand, whether Jews or Gentiles, or to God's assembly, on the other. Love alone so walks, seeking God's glory and man's good. Against the fruit of the Spirit there is no law, even among those who vaunt law most, and least love grace. So it was with the apostle habitually; the most uncompromising of all the apostles, none equaled him in gracious concession, where it could be consistently with Christ.

Elements of Prophecy: 12. The General Scope of the Apocalypse

VII. The date and place of the prophecy are supposed to yield further and very distinct signs of its true meaning. It was revealed to the last of the twelve apostles, as the fullest evidence shows, under the last of the twelve Caesars. The first century was closing, the temple and city of Jerusalem destroyed, the Jews dispersed. The gospel was in all the world, bringing forth fruit, and growing. The church gave its testimony to Christ in the various lands and tongues of the known habitable world. The Old Testament had borne witness to the rebellious iniquity of Israel and Judah, not merely in the worship of idols, but in the rejection of the Anointed of Jehovah, and had pointed out sufficiently the consequences, not only to the chosen people in judgment, but to the Gentiles in grace. The time was now come for a final revelation, which, first of all showing that Christendom would be equally faithless to its responsibility, next hides not the dealings of God which should succeed, whether preliminary and partial before Christ appears, or completed when He executes judgment in person; and this, not only on the quick throughout the thousand years' reign, but on the dead who had not shared the holy and blessed “first resurrection,” the wicked dead raised after it. That John stood in a relation toward the church similar to that of Daniel toward the Jews is plain, the latter having been a captive of the first Gentile empire, as the former of the fourth, neither of them occupied himself with the details of providence, both with the end of the age, as ushering in the rule of the heavens wielded by the glorious Son of man. Only as Daniel was given to predict the ways of God consequent on the ruin of the Jew, so John what was to follow Christ's spewing out of His mouth the last of the seven churches. As the privileges of the church far transcended Israel's, and the testimony for which the Christian is responsible was limited to no race, land, or tongue, instead of being cooped up in one narrow country and people, so doubtless the issues from God's hand are incomparably graver, and proportionably extended; and these, therefore, it fell to John's lot to have unrolled before his wondering and aggrieved gaze.
If all the circumstances indicate a reference to the new economy rather than to those special Jewish relations which had been suspended, no less do they suppose that God is judging the failure of man under the gospel, and disclosing how He will take up all under Him, the second Man, who never failed. The prophecy therefore no more shows us Christendom the direct object of God's dealing, than its Jewish prototype did the Jews. It points out what will follow, and as the future crisis was the main aim of Daniel, so it is yet more effectually and fully of John; only John expands, as Daniel does not, not only into an incomparably vaster sphere, but also into the endless ages which follow the Lord's return. Such in fact was the uniform character of prophecy in the Old Testament. There was a series undoubtedly, and each wrote from his own time as the starting point; but not one of them was limited in his predictions either to events which occurred during his lifetime, or to the next main event of Jewish history. They all looked onward to the coming of Messiah, and most fully indeed to His coming in power and glory. So did our Lord at the close of His own ministry. It is a total mistake that He merely took up the end of their thread, and prolonged it to the fall of Jerusalem, leaving it for John to carry it on continuously throughout the centuries which have elapsed since. One can understand such theories where the heart is in the world as it is, and man therefore as he is possesses our admiration and our interest. Doubtless there is light for the faithful at all times, and especially in an hour of ruin, through the Spirit of prophecy; but being the witness of Jesus, that Spirit hastens on to the grand consummation when evil shall be judged righteously, according to the light given but despised, and the Lord Himself shall take the reins. If Christianity superseded the finally proved antagonism of the Jews to their Messiah, the corruption of Christianity gives occasion for God to indicate how He will replace the apostasy and man of sin by His kingdom at Christ's coming, and the eternal state, when God shall be all in all. This widely differs from the Protestant scheme of the Apocalypse.
VIII. A guide or mark to determine the general scope of the Revelation has been drawn from the parties to whom it was first sent. It was given to John, and through him the seven churches of Asia were addressed. It has been argued therefore that, if the Apocalypse records the history of the church, the address to the Asiatic churches is most suitable, and in full harmony with the precedents of scripture; but it is equally incongruous if the main reference of the work be to a Jewish remnant alone, during a few years at the end of this dispensation. The truth is, however, that the epistles to the seven churches are but introductory to the strictly prophetic part of the book, or in the things which shall be after” the things which are; and “the things which are” exhibit the churches coming under the judgment of the Son of man. Thenceforward we have visions of the world judged, and the most conspicuous absence of a church; nay, more, the presence of Jews and Gentiles objects of divine grace, and this separately, instead of being united in one body. That is, the book, as a whole, in its predictions contemplates an entirely new state of things, as the result of the faithlessness of Christendom, and the removal of the faithful to heaven, paving the way for the reign of the Lord and the glorified saints. That state, however, is no return to a mere Jewish remnant, though such a remnant be one of its elements; but on the proved ruin of Christendom, as of Judaism, the visions show us God's measures for investing the Lord with the world as His inheritance. We hear the first church threatened with the removal of its candlestick, we see in the last its setting aside with abhorrence as the Lord's resolve; and this in order to make way for the visions of woe, not without testimonies of mercy, the process which introduces the Firstborn in judgment of the whole earth. Clearly it was meant that those in the churches, or a church position, should profit by all the communications of the book; but the book itself is the strongest proof that churches, or even Christians properly so-called, are nowhere contemplated in the scenes of its predictions. Its object is to reveal what follows in the world when those that overcame in the church state are no longer on earth.
IX. The direct statements with regard to the time which begin and close the prophecy are another evidence of its true application. It was sent to show God's servants “things that must shortly come to pass.” “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear, the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” The motive is neither that the things are in course of fulfillment, nor that they are about the church. Compare Rev. 22:10. And this last is the more striking, because Daniel was told to seal his book even to the time of the end; whereas John, receiving still further and deeper details, was told not to seal the sayings of the prophecy of his book. The true inference is, not that there was a merely human or ordinary scale of time applied to either, but that since redemption and Christ's session at God's right hand, ready to judge the quick and the dead, the end of all things is at hand to John and the Christian, as it was not to Daniel and the Jew. Having the Spirit meanwhile, the Christian has divine capacity to understand all that the word, prophetic or not, reveals. It is no question of comparative distance or nearness merely, but of the immense change effected by Christ, who has brought all things to a point before God; so that the same apostle, John, could say, “it is the last time,” or “hour.” This was neither manifest nor true when Daniel lived. A revealed series of events necessarily intervened. It was otherwise when John wrote. In both prophecies the Spirit had the crisis in view. None can conceive that the earlier events predicted by Daniel belong to the time of the end, or were for many days. “The last end of the indignation” has no reference to the siege of Titus, nor will it fall within the limits of the so-called Christian dispensation. “The indignation,” it appears from Isa. 10, &c, is evidently God's anger against idolatrous Israel; and “the abomination of desolation,” in Matt. 24 and Dan. 12, will not be till the end of the age in the sanctuary of Jerusalem. These allusions are demonstrably outside the times of the gospel; but the Christian is entitled to comprehend what the Jew must wait for. To us, therefore, it is always morally “the time of the end;” and nothing, accordingly, is sealed or shut up from us. It is an evident mistake that 1 Peter 1:10-12 refers to these texts in Daniel, but rather to such as Dan. 2:34, 35; 7:18; 9:26, “the sufferings respecting Christ, and the glories after these,” which are now reported more fully still in the gospel, as some of them will be fulfilled only at the revelation of our Lord. Thus the contrast of the words in Revelation with Daniel's lends no support to the hypothesis that even the seals apply to gospel times from John's day.
X. The character of the opening benediction bespeaks the true references. It is not from God, as such, or from the Father, as such, His special revelation in grace and relationship which we know as Christians. It is rather His name of Jehovah, hitherto made known to the children of Israel, now for the first time translated from the Old Testament idiom into Greek, but Hebraistically. This surely suits a prophetic book which was intended to unfold, not Christian privilege or duty, but judgment on a world guilty of rejecting as well as corrupting Christianity, where God begins to prepare an earthly nucleus for the returning Lord, and this from Israel, as well as all nations, but expressly distinct from each other. There is a difference between the form of the name in Rev. 1 and in Rev. 4; but on this we need not enter, as being beside the present argument and purpose. It is undeniable, however, that He is not in either revealed in Christian or church relationship, but in a form and character suited to One who is to act thenceforward as governor, not merely of Israel, but of the nations. In accordance with this, we do not hear of the “one Spirit,” as in 1 Corinthians or Ephesians, nor yet as the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit, but with a difference no less striking, “the seven Spirits which are before the throne” —a phrase which suggests His fullness governmentally, and refers to Isa. 11, but is never used when Christian standing is in question. So the characters of Christ Himself pointedly leave out what is heavenly and in church connection. It is neither priesthood nor headship; but what He was on earth, and in resurrection, and will be when He returns. What He is displaying now on high is left out. Continuity is not in the least expressed; but rather a break from His resurrection, till He takes His great power and reigns. So with the associated title, “I am Alpha and Omega;” it may be of Gentile source, joined with one familiar to Jewish ears, and thus together most suitable to a prophecy which lifts the veil from the future crisis, when it is no longer that body wherein is neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christ is all and in all.
As to Rev. 1:7, it is in no way to be limited to Jews, whatever the resemblance to the Septuagint version of the words in Zech. 12. Indeed, this is but one case of the general principle, that the Revelation, like the New Testament as a whole (save in application of fulfilled prophecy) enlarges the sphere, and deepens the character, of what is borrowed from the older oracles of God. But allowing that “all the tribes of the earth” should be here meant, rather than “of the land” merely, and as distinguished from “those who pierced Him,” it seems strange that the bearing of “every eye shall see Him” should be overlooked. For if the object had been to guard the reader from the vague providential line of interpretation, and to fix our attention on the Lord's coming again to the earth, it could hardly be secured more plainly than by such a text. There is a larger and more comprehensive scope than in Old Testament prophecy; but it is in relation to the world, not to the church, and to the visible display of glory, not to the kingdom of God viewed spiritually. We walk by faith, not by sight. The book is for, but not all about, the church.
XI. The special occasion when these visions were revealed is supposed to be very significant of their bearing on the church rather than the Jews. For the apostle “was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Domitian was persecuting; the conflict was begun between the witnesses of Christ and the idolatrous power of Rome; John's exile exemplified the warfare and suffering which was to continue for ages; as Rome is seen, near the close of the prophecy, drunk with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. Thus the book traces the moral war, from first to last, without token of any abrupt transition. Such is the reasoning. If the extremes are fixed, and the intermediate links many and various, what reasonable doubt of the continuity of the whole?
The truth, however, is that John is seen throughout as “a servant,” rather than a son or.” child,” as in his Gospel and Epistles; and the word of God and testimony of Jesus are narrowed to visions ("all that he saw,” Rev. 1:2) to prepare the way for taking in as servants those saints who could not be placed on the same ground as the members of Christ's body. They will follow us on the earth, and will be His servants, having the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, when the Lord will have taken us to heaven. The Christian, like John himself, should seek to read the Revelation from his own standpoint of association with Christ risen; but the book clearly makes known other saints on a quite different footing throughout the prophetic periods. The inference drawn is therefore unsound. Rev. 4; 5 show us the church as a whole, glorified; and Rev. 6-18 others on earth who, though saints, are quite distinct from the church.
Doubtless, the attempt to interpret “the Lord's day” as the day of the Lord is mere ignorance, though men of learning have so argued. The force of that day really is, that, though John was speaking as a prophet of what is coming on the world, he did not forfeit his proper portion as a Christian. He was in the Spirit, and saw the visions “on the Lord's day,” as the first day of the week was now called in virtue of Christ's resurrection. But is it not almost equal ignorance to apply the sabbath in Matt. 24 to the past? It clearly refers to the future crisis, when Jewish saints must pray that their flight be not on that day nor in the winter. At that time the abomination of desolation will be their signal to escape from Jerusalem, according to the Lord's warning.
ΧΠ. The emblems of the opening vision are supposed to be a further key to the nature of the prophecy. The first, expounded by our Lord Himself, is the seven golden candlesticks, denoting the seven churches of Asia: a type borrowed from the Jewish sanctuary, but without a local center or a visible head, so as to suit the wider character and greater liberty of the church. If the candlesticks be symbolic, why restrain the ark, altar, and temple, with its outer and inner courts, to an outward sense? And so with the stars in Rev. 1. If used to denote living intelligent persons, why should the star of the third trumpet, for instance, denote merely a meteoric stone? Why not those spiritual realities which belong to the whole church of God?
The answer is plain and decisive. The Lord Himself draws, in Rev. 1:19, the line of demarcation between the opening vision, with the connected “things that are,” and the “things which are about to be after these.” Hence it is a rash assumption, at the very least, to say that the symbols abide the same in parts of the book so distinguished. If churches and their angels are found only in Rev. 1-3, disappearing absolutely from the prophetic visions which follow, it is natural that so vast a change must modify in a corresponding way the application of the symbols, though of course the essential idea remains. They cannot describe these spiritual realities which belong to the church of God, when it, as a whole is no longer seen on earth. And, confessedly, quite different symbols denote the church in heaven. But we are not driven to the pseudo-literal alternative of two Levitical candlesticks in Rev. 11, any more than to one meteor in Rev. 8. We must interpret them in congruity with their context, not therefore in reference to the church, which is gone, out to the world, with which God is then dealing, whether among Gentiles or Jews. The star here means a fallen ruler, and in the western Roman earth, not supreme, like the sun, but subordinate; as the two candlesticks may be an adequate testimony to Christ's priesthood and royalty among the Jews. But one need not dwell on details.
ΧIII. A similar remark is true of the allusion to the “Jews” in the first chapters when used to govern the application in the rest of the Revelation. Certainly the seven churches (viewed either literally as the past assemblies in proconsular Asia or as foreshadowing so many phases of Christendom till the faithful are caught and the Lord utterly disowns the last outward state) suppose the title of Jews ("those that say they are Jews but do lie") misused by those in Christendom who boast of antiquity and. not present power in the Spirit, succession and not grace, and of ordinances and not Christ; and just as certainly such a phrase could only be used during the Loammi time of Israel's rejection. But it is a hasty inference thence to argue to the prophetic visions when God begins to seal a people out of the twelve tribes of Israel and the church is withdrawn from the earth.
XIV. It is in vain for the same reason to argue from the general character of the Epistles to the seven churches, for they stand in evident contrast as “the things that are” or church state with the succeeding visions of the future, though no doubt a moral preparative of the highest value for them. Thus the season of trial in the epistle to Smyrna might be blessed to the saints similarly tried during the prophetic periods later on; but there is the strongest possible internal cause why we should not apply these as the true meaning of prophecies which suppose the church no longer existing on earth, and new witnesses, Jews or Gentiles, succeeding who are expressly in a different relationship. 2. As little does the reference first to “the doctrine of Balaam” in Rev. 2., compared with the false prophet in Rev. 13:14-17; 16:13; 19:20, warrant the conclusion that the marks of a regular connection and sequence are herein given. Similar evil, though modified in form, is all that can be fairly drawn from the earliest and later passages. So it is with the types of the wilderness. It applies to us now; it will be as true, though in greatly altered circumstances, of others after we join the Lord above, before the kingdom be established in power and glory. 8. The mention of Jezebel in Rev. 2 and of her great counterpart in the prophetic vision (Rev. 14; 16:17; 18) stands on just the same ground. 4. So does the local fulfillment of the opening predictions. They may be of profit at all times; but we cannot intelligently apply to the church what God predicted of His government of the world, or of witnesses raised up for that state of things.
XV. The nature of the prophetic scenery as described in the following chapters (Rev. 4; 5) yields abundant and irrefutable disproof of the notion that the prophetic visions of the Apocalypse contemplate the church or its history on earth. For the purpose in hand there is no need of entering into the details of specific interpretation; but a few broad features may be briefly pointed out which are decisive against the notion in question—a notion entertained by not a few futurists as well as by the Protestant school generally.
1. It is perfectly true that the opening of the visions is eminently symbolical. The living creatures, the lamps of fire, the elders, the Lamb and the sealed book, the vials and the odors, all have this character, not to speak of the voice of thunder, the four horsemen, &c, in what follows. But it is a mistake that either the heavenly calling of the Christian claims especially Such a veiled or emblematic mode of instruction, or that the end of the age must through all its extent see the cessation of silent mystery and the commencement of visible and material wonders. It is plainly enough revealed that it will merge gradually into a brief period in which the western powers will adopt a peculiar political order and partition with its suited chief, the northeastern will advance for a final struggle, the Jews in their land and under their king be a main object of defense and attack, and Satan avail himself of the apostasy he has effected to reveal the lawless one in all power and signs and wonders of lying, God Himself sending those who believed not the truth a working of error that they should believe the lie. But these horrors do not begin at once, and the worst of them will steal over men by degrees. There is no such abrupt change as is conceived by such as oppose. On the one hand Jerusalem and the temple will be the scene not only of renewed and strange idolatry but of man arrogating the glory of God. On the other God will not leave man throughout the world without suited testimony and solemn judgment, increasing in intensity till the Lord appears in glory.
Let the reader remark the total change of scenery at this point. It is no longer the Son of man in the midst of seven golden candlesticks, nor the successive messages to the angels of these churches, but a throne in heaven, the prophet being called up to see and hear. The actual or church state exists no more, giving place to “things which must be after these.” It is a question of government in heaven, and the throne one of judicial glory, not of grace as we know now, and hence out of it lightnings and voices and thunders, not the message of peace and salvation; and the saints now glorified surround it as the heads of the royal priesthood, no longer on earth as in Rev. 1:5, 6. It is a company, be it noted, complete from first to last (Rev. 4-19), so that for this as well as other reasons it cannot be separate spirits but glorified men. The seven Spirits of God, or the fullness of the Spirit in attributive power, are seen as seven lamps or torches of fire burning before the throne. There is no altar, as it is no longer a question of coming to God; and, instead of a laver with water to cleanse the defilements contracted by the way, there is a sea of glass in witness of perfect and fixed purity. The cherubim, or living creatures, are no longer two but four, and seraphic as well as cherubic, characterizing the throne in executory judgment according to the holiness of God. If the aim were to reveal a new state wholly distinct from the present, and a transitional relationship, before Christ and the risen saints come out of heaven to reign over the millennial earth, it would be hard to say how it could be made more apparent or unquestionable. In full keeping with this Christ is seen after a new sort as the Lamb in the midst of the throne, yet the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David: the holy earth rejected sufferer, slain for God's glory, who had bought a people to God by His blood, who alone could and does open the otherwise sealed book of divine purposes and plans for the deliverance of the world and reign of God; and the elders fall before the Lamb with vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints, clearly not their own but of others on earth in a different position from themselves in glory, as the visions that follow will confirm.
2. Equally true is it that the action of the prophecy is derived from the opening of the sealed book; and that the taking and opening of it is grounded on the personal power, worth, and victory of the slain Lamb. But on the face of the scripture the scene does not follow His ascension. It rather awaits the close of the church state and our translation to heaven, when the present work of gathering the heavenly coheirs with Christ is finished. This in no way treats the atonement of our Lord as for eighteen centuries idle and powerless, unless the forming of the bride of the Lamb be nothing; it shows on the contrary, that, so far from exhausting the virtues of His blood, fresh counsels of God, to us long revealed, are all in His hand and for His glory who will take the earth as well as heavens under His headship, and who, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believed, will take all peoples and nations and tongues as well as Israel in chief under His sway. No Christian doubts the truth and importance of Matt. 28:18 or Phil. 2:8, 9; but the character or time of application is another question. And we may well doubt that these or any other texts determine that the Revelation sets forth in its visions the triumphs of the cross while the church is on earth, called as she is now to be the follower of Christ in His earthly shame and suffering.
3. Further, it is said that there is no event between the ascension of our Lord with His solemn inauguration in heaven and His visible return in glory, and especially now in the last days, which can claim to be the true commencement. But this leaves out the vision of Rev. 4; 5 in its evident import, especially as following up the sevenfold message to the angels of the Asiatic churches or the mystery of the seven golden candlesticks, and as introducing the predicted dealings of God with the world in the rest of the book. The throne of God assumes a relation notably distinct from that of grace as we know it, and even from that of glory as in the millennial day; it is clothed with a judicial character akin to that which Ezekiel beheld when Israel was judged and carried into captivity, but with special features as must be in view of Christendom's πμη and God's judgment of the earth generally, and in particular what had been faithless after such unexampled favors. And the absolutely new object seen on high is neither God's throne with the cherubim or seraphim nor yet the Son of man long before ascended, but the twenty-four crowned and enthroned elders. It is strange that men should have all but universally overlooked so patent and grave a fact corroborated by circumstances already pointed out, which furnish a very defined starting point from which the succeeding visions begin. To neglect this is to act the part of a voyager who should take his departure not from the main shore but from a floating bank of mist into uninterrupted fog.
For what worthy point of departure follows the seven churches of John's day? It is wholly incorrect, as is thought, that till the return of our Lord (that is, to reign) all is one continuous dispensation—one ceaseless progression of Divine providence. The translation of the saints to meet the Lord and be presented to the Father in His house before they appear with Him in glory for the government of the world is assuredly a fact and change of amazing interest. It had been not only disclosed by our Lord, but fully opened out by the apostle of the Gentiles in his earliest Epistles; and it is now put into its relative place by John in the grand systematic prophecy which winds up the New Testament.
The peculiar mode in which the Spirit here records it is worthy of all note as flowing from His own consummate wisdom; for there is no vision of the actual rapture of the saints to heaven when the Bridegroom meets them, as if it were one of many prophetic events like those under the seals, trumpets, or vials. It is the accomplishment of the Christian's hopes, and in no way confounded with the subject matter of prophecy, such as the appearing or return is, when every eye shall see the Lord and them in glory. It is a preliminary vision of the saints already in heaven after the church state on earth is ended, and before the special judgments and transitional testimonies begin which terminate in the Lord's coming out of heaven followed by the saints (Rev. 17:14; 19:14) already there since the end of chapter 3 as proved by chapter iv. His “coming” or presence (παρουσία) thus embraces and overlaps the day of the Lord, as it leaves room for the gathering of the saints risen or changed to Him with an interval in heaven, which the Apocalypse shows to be filled up by solemn dealings of God on earth mainly judicial but not without special mercy to saints on earth, both Jewish and Gentile, some of whom suffer to death as others are preserved for the kingdom when Christ and the glorified ones appear in His “day” to execute judgment and reign over the earth for a thousand years.
If “the second advent” be restricted, as it commonly is by almost all schools, to the day of the Lord, it leaves the fact of our seeing the heavenly redeemed under the complete symbol of the twenty-four royal priests from Rev. 4 entirely unaccounted for. Distinguish His coming for His saints and His coming with them, and all is so far plain, though it is easy to see difficulties and conjure up objections to the surest truth of revelation, or even of our being, and of the world around us. But the word of the Lord abides forever.
One may add too that the prophecy nowhere describes near its close (that is, in chap. 19 or 20) the removal of the saints to heaven; they follow Christ to the judgment of earth, but how they got there so as to be in His suite in His day is not described.
It is evident then that the translation to heaven of the coheirs, witnessed as a fact from the beginning of Rev. 4 is a fixed and clear point of departure, which the ordinary schemes of Apocalyptic students, Protestant or futurist alike, have failed to observe. It becomes then not only possible but easy to test the alleged fulfillment of the book. Before the seals or trumpets which prepare for the investiture of Christ with the inheritance, there must be in heaven an adequate answer to the plain facts, that churches are thenceforward seen no more on earth, and that a new company appear in heaven, never before seen there, under the symbol of the twenty-four elders. If men explain away or pass over so important an introduction as Rev. 4; 5 to the strictly prophetic portion of the book, they naturally confound our gathering to the Lord on high with the day of the Lord on the earth, and a moral or partial application of its contents with its proper meaning, to the utter lowering of the church's calling, place, and walk, as well as hope.
XVI. The oath of the mighty angel is imagined to furnish another not less decisive mark of the historical acceptation of the prophecy: “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel the mystery of God shall be finished.” What it really says is that there should be no more delay, but under the last trumpet, which ushers in the end of man's day, God would bear with evil no longer in the grace which works meanwhile for higher purposes. He would bring in the manifested kingdom of the Lord forthwith. Israel's rejection and the times of the Gentiles may fall within “the mystery of God,” as well as the calling of the church; but not a word implies that the church was still on earth during the trumpets. Doubtless the trumpets are accomplished before Israel's restoration, but not before Jews return to their land in unbelief, set up their king, and other awful scenes of the latter-day wickedness ensue. Nor is there anything to intimate that the seals and trumpets measure the mystery of God, but simply that it closes with the seventh trumpet, as one sees in the latter part of Rev. 11. The world kingdom of our Lord of His Christ is come. It is no question of secret providence then, as it was during, and had been before, the Apocalyptic period.
XVII. Concurrence for sixteen centuries, even if universal, is but human opinion; and what is this worth in divine things? It is but the recent tradition of the multitude; and in these ages of declension, what can the maximum of such agreement yield but the minimum of truth? It is the refuge of unbelief at all times, and can never be right since Christendom went wrong. One need not wonder at lack of intelligence during many a century when even saints had lost the sense of eternal life, of accomplished redemption, of standing in Christ, and the varied energy of the Holy Ghost, not to speak of the church as the body of Christ and the house of God. The notion of a continued advance, slow at first but afterward steady and discernible, is a dream, more worthy of a mere humanitarian progressionist than of one who looks for Christ to receive the saints and judge the world and above all favored but guilty Christendom. A symbolical history of the church on earth might be founded with some show of truth on Rev. 2; 3, not on what follows, which is expressly not “the things that are” or church state, but what must be after these things, when the overcomers are all and “ever with the Lord."
If people only saw the special calling and heavenly character of the church, the Apocalypse from chapter 6 (and indeed 4, 5) to chapter 19 never could have been supposed to predict its course or circumstances on earth. Men have not distinguished the various dealings of God, and hence as some scrupled not to apply Israel and Judah, Zion and Jerusalem, in the Old Testament prophets to Christianity or the church, so still more fell into the kindred error of tracing it here below throughout the prophetic visions of John. But it is hard to conceive a fuller combination of evidence than that which the book itself has just afforded us against the common hypothesis, and in confirmation of our being on high while the providential judgments of the seals, trumpets, and vials intervene, till we follow the Lord from heaven to reign with Him over the earth. Its preface and its conclusion; the analogy of former prophecy and, most of all, of that book which it resembles so closely; the season and the place and the writer; the churches to whose angels messages were sent; the repeated declaration of the nearness of the time; the whole character of its introduction repeated often and in the most various forms; the plain contrast between the churches as “the things that are” with those “which must be after these things;” and the intermediate vision of the elders in Rev. 4; 5, respecting the heavenly redeemed in their complete and glorified state around the throne above, seem to leave little question as to its scope to the believer, unless he sacrifice the authority of scripture to the general consent of Christendom during the very centuries when it had lost even a clear and full gospel for the world and forgotten its own privileges as well as responsibility to the grief of the Holy Spirit. In truth no one is fit to form a sound and spiritually intelligent judgment of the bearing of the Apocalypse who is not clear as to salvation and the church, as well as prophecy; and where were such to be found since the second century remains disclosed the early and utter ruin of the Christian profession? Neither antiquity nor consent, if universal, can sanctify error, though they may expose to the charge of rashness or even innovation such as go back to the once revealed truth. But wisdom is justified of her children. Far from being self-evident, the mind of God in His word cannot be severed from our practical state in fellowship with Him. “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light,” is as true in scripture study as in walk; nor could one wish it otherwise.

A Slight Sketch of the Holy Spirit's Ways: Part 1

The Spirit, τὸ πνεῦμα, the Holy Spirit, τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, seldom τὸ Ἅγιον πνεῦμα, but very frequently, πνεῦμα Ἄγιον, is the Person in the Godhead mentioned last in order wherever the three are named (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14).
Of His personality the word does not leave us in doubt. The New Testament is very plain about it. He acts, He directs, He controls, and that, not only in the character of the Spirit of God, but as a divine Person Himself (Acts 2:4; 5:3, 4; 13:24; 16:6 Cor. 12:11); and even in the Old Testament His personality is acknowledged (Num. 11:26; 1 Chron. 28:12; Isa. 48:16), though, for the most part, He is therein described as the Spirit of God, רוח אל1זים, the Spirit of Jehovah, His Spirit, His Holy Spirit, His good Spirit. Throughout scripture, then, we meet with the Holy Ghost. In the first chapter of the Bible we read of Him; in the last chapter of the sacred volume we hear of Him. In Gen. 1:2 He is described as moving, or brooding, over the face of the waters, when all was in a chaotic condition on earth. In Rev. 22 He speaks from earth, on which He now dwells, and in company and concert with the bride asks the Lord Jesus to come in His character of the morning star.
To prepare the earth for man's abode and use, the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters. He acted in power on creation. He acts in power still. The fact, however, of His activity, whether moving upon the face of the waters, or dealing with men's hearts, indicates the existence of a state of things which is not perfect in God's sight. “By his Spirit,” Job declares, God “garnished the heavens” (Job 26:13). Of the Spirit men are born again (John 3:5). Yet it is not in every age of the world's history that we read of the Spirit being at work. He did work, He does work constantly, on men upon earth, as the catalog of saints from Abel to our day bears witness; but His activity is not at all times a subject of divine teaching. Till the days of Moses we hear but little of the Spirit. Throughout the biographical notices of Abraham and Isaac, He is not so much as once named. In the book of Joshua He is never mentioned. And neither in the books of Jeremiah, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, nor Zephaniah is His existence even hinted at. Yet all these, were born of Him. He was in Joshua, and the prophets were one and all His penmen and mouthpieces, speaking as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21). In the New Testament His presence and actings are more generally acknowledged and the Epistle to Philemon, and the Second and Third Epistles of John, are the only portions of the word in which He has not been pleased to make mention of Himself in one way or another. For His manner of working is manifest, and the terms in which it is described are various. To these the reader's attention is now sought to be directed. Of evil spirits there are many, characterized in the word by their manner of acting, as displayed in men. For we read of a lying spirit, an evil spirit, an unclean spirit, a dumb spirit, a spirit of a demon, a spirit of Python, and, in the case of the Gadarene demoniac, it was not one, but many, which were in him. The Holy Ghost, on the other hand, is but one (1 Cor. 12:11). Each unclean spirit can act in accordance with its character. The Holy Ghost can act in very different ways in different people and at different times. To a consideration of these let us now turn.
Before the flood He acted on men certainly in three distinct ways. He strove with man in his rampant wickedness, till God would strive with him no longer (Gen. 6:3). What a scene for God to be engaged in! In garnishing the heavens, and in brooding over the face of the waters, the Spirit of God had been once engaged; now He is described as striving with God's puny, fallen, and actively wicked creature man. But man would not yield, so the flood came upon the world of the ungodly, and took them all away, except Noah and those with him in the ark. Besides this, in two other ways He had acted, whilst striving with man. By the Spirit dead souls had been quickened: of this Abel and others are witnesses. And not only did He act in vivifying power on souls, but He fitted saints as well to be channels for divine communications to their fellows around them. God had spoken to Adam, and in the presence of the guilty pair announced to the old serpent, in the day of his apparent triumph, his final doom, which is to be accomplished by the Seed of the woman. God had also spoken to Cain, and acquainted the fratricide with His future governmental dealings with him. To Adam and to his son communications had been given. Now through Enoch, with whom we may perhaps class Lamech (Gen. 5:29), prophetic announcements were made, which concerned others beside themselves. And Noah was raised up, a preacher of righteousness, a witness for God in the midst of abounding and unrestrained wickedness.
The waters receded from off the face of the earth. Noah and his family came forth from the ark to people the world afresh, and the Spirit of God, who had acted on men, and by men, before the flood, acted in similar, but also in new, ways after it.
Men were born again. Of this Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Job are examples; and a testimony for God was raised up in the midst of idolatry, which now began to corrupt and debase mankind. Prophecy, too, in the common acceptation of the term, again burst forth. Isaac, though his eyes were dim with age, blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. And Jacob, ere gathering up his feet into his bed, acquainted his family with that which should befall them in the last days.
But another feature of the Spirit's ways was manifested during the patriarchal age. Saints were made acquainted with God's purposes hitherto concealed, without becoming, as far as we know, channels of inspired communications. Thus God talked with Abraham as His friend, and began that unfolding of His counsels to man, which was not completed till the New Testament canon was closed. Communications had passed between the Lord and His saints before the flood. To Enoch a testimony was given that he pleased God. Noah received definite instructions as to the measures of the ark, and its inhabitants. In these communications the individuals so favored were personally concerned. In the case of Abraham it was different. God not only revealed things which concerned the patriarch, but, before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, He distinctly declared that He would not hide from Abraham that which He would do. And Abraham is the first person to whom the appellation of prophet, נביא is given in the Pentateuch (Gen. 20:7), an appellation evidently of significance in those days, and one, as we learn from the Psalms (Psa. 105:15), which was common to the patriarchs. A prophet then does not only mean one who can predict future events. The messenger of God who reproved Israel in the days of Gideon (Judg. 6:8) was a prophet, נביא. And Abraham, as we see, is so called, who would pray for Abimelech, the Philistine king. And God it was who so styled the patriarch, who had acquaintance with the divine mind, being in possession of God's thoughts, as far as the Lord had been pleased to impart them to God's friend. On me too, and through men, the Spirit continued to work. By dreams and visions, as well as by prophetic inspiration, God's mind was revealed. Jacob, whether sojourning east or west of Jordan, received instruction from God by dreams (Gen. 28:12-15; 31:11-13). And Laban, the Syrian (Gen. 31:24); Abimelech, the Philistine (Gen. 20:3); Pharaoh, the Egyptian (Gen. 41); and Eliphaz, the Temanite (Job 4), alike attest the reality of such channels of intercourse between God and the soul.
"With Moses, however, there commenced a new era. Dealing with souls individually, and using men as instruments by which God's mind could be made known, still characterized the ways of the Holy Ghost. For Balaam, besides Moses, prophesied, and Saul too, as well as others who were really saints. In addition to this, miraculous powers were exhibited, wonders being accomplished by the finger of God (Ex. 8:19), as the magicians rightly confessed; that is through the energy of the Holy Ghost, as the New Testament teaches us (Matt. 12:28 compared with Luke 11:20). And now in several new ways the activity and the power of the Spirit were displayed. In Bezaleel we have an example of one filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and understanding, and knowledge, for the work that he was called upon to undertake in connection with the erection of the tabernacle (Ex. 31:8; 35:31). The Holy Ghost was in Joshua (Num. 27:18), who was thereby full of the spirit of wisdom (Deut. 34:9). On the elders He rested, to fit them for their official duties in the congregation (Num. 11:25, 26). Again, the Spirit was on Othniel, who judged Israel, and conquered Cushan Rishathaim (Judg. 3:10); on Jephthah, who warred against Ammon (Judg. 11:29) on Amaziah, the son of Oded, who encouraged Asa (2 Chron. 15:1); as well as on Jahaziel, the Levite, who directed Jehoshaphat in his campaign against the children of Ammon and Moab, and those of Mount Seir (2 Chron. 20:14). Further, we read that the Spirit of the Lord clothed, or enwrapped, Gideon לב&ה (Judg. 6:34), and Amasai, chief of the captains, who answered so beautifully to David's challenge (1 Chron. 12:18), as well as Jechaniah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, who reproved the people and Joash, the king (2 Chron. 24:20). He pressed, too, or fell upon, צלחה Samson (Judg. 14:6, 19; 15:14); on Saul (1 Sam. 10:6, 10; 11:6); and on David (1 Sam. 16:13). He entered into Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:2; 3:24), and set him on his feet. He fell upon him (Ezek. 11:5), נפל, and he prophesied. Moreover, the Spirit lifted him up, and transported him to any place that the Lord desired him to visit (Ezek. 3:12-14; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 43:5). Very marked, then, were the ways of the Spirit with certain men, who manifested by what they did, when energized by Him, how His power could be exercised on and through individuals. Besides this, the Spirit of the Lord, which had instructed Israel (Neh. 9:20), remained among the returned remnant, according to God's solemn engagement, in spite of all that they and their fathers had been (Hag. 2:5).
Greater blessings are yet, however, in store for that people. For, great as have been the displays of the Spirit's power among them, they can look forward to a blessing they have never yet enjoyed. God will put His Spirit within them individually (Ezek. 36:27), and pour it out on them collectively (Isa. 44:3), when their time of trial, and of the desolation of the land, consequent on their sins, shall cease (Isa. 32:15), never to return (Ezek. 39:29). Nor will this blessing be confined to Israel, for God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, as Joel clearly predicts, who also tells us after what public event that will take place. God must first act in victorious power on Israel's behalf, and overthrow the northern army which will invade the land. The aggressive power overthrown, and the fertility of the land restored, the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all flesh, and prophecies will be uttered, dreams be dreamed, and visions be seen (Joel 2:28-30).
With the promises of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on Israel, and on all flesh, we close the volume of Old Testament scripture, leaving Israel to wait for their fulfillment, which the New Testament teaches us are still to be desired by them. But what, in the meantime, is the Spirit of God doing? Is He working, or only awaiting the advent of those times of which Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Joel have foretold? This is an important question for all to understand. So, now turning to the New Testament volume of inspired writings, in what terms, let us ask, is the Holy Ghost mentioned, and in what ways do we therein learn He was, and is, manifested?
And, first, as to the terms in which He is pleased to speak of Himself. For be it remembered that the inspired writings are the words of the Holy Ghost. (1 Cor. 2:13.)
Besides those mentioned at the commencement of this paper, we read of Him as the Spirit of God, of the living God, of the Father, of His Son, of the Lord, of Jesus (Acts 16:7), of Christ, of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19), of truth, of grace (Heb. 10:29), of promise (Eph. 1:13). He is called the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14), and is said to be “the truth” (1 John 5:6). Furthermore He is the earnest of our inheritance, the seal wherewith God seals believers, and the unction by which believers know all things (Eph. 1:18, 14; 1 John 2:20, 27). Moreover He is the other Comforter, or Paraclete (John 14; 15:16)
Next, if we inquire about His ways of acting, we learn that what He did before the flood, that He did after the cross, and that in a way He does still. By Him men are born again. He acts on the heart, and deals in life-giving power with souls. And as saints were enabled to bear witness for God in the midst of the evil around them, so, by His power and instrumentality, a testimony for God is carried on still. The character of the testimony may vary according to the wants and condition of men, and the times in which the Spirit is working. Thus, before the flood we read of Noah, a preacher of righteousness. Since the cross we have been made familiar with preachers of grace. The character and object of the testimony has changed, but the energizing power is one and the same. Again, before the flood, and in patriarchal times, we meet with prophets. After the Lord had ascended we learn that there were fresh ones raised up, not only to foretell future events, like Agabus (Acts 11:28), but to communicate divine teaching by revelation, as well as to set forth God's truth in such a way as to make men feel that it is His word which is spoken to them. For on the foundation of apostles and prophets saints are built (Eph. 2:20; 4:11), and prophets are used of God to edify His people (1 Cor. 14:8, 24).
After the fall, and before the flood, the Spirit manifested Himself in ways of testimony amongst men. After God took up Israel as His people, the Holy Ghost, in addition, displayed Himself in works of power, as we have seen. In power, too, we learn from the pages of the New Testament, did He work when the Lord was upon earth, and whilst the apostles continued with the church. Hence terms, similar to those met with in the Old Testament, are used to describe His workings in the New. Of Bezaleel, it was said, that he was filled with the Spirit, and of Joshua that he was fall of it. Of both of these states have we examples in the New Testament. John the Baptist, Elizabeth, Zecharias (Luke 1:15, 41, 67), the hundred and twenty on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), Peter (Acts 4:8), those assembled together (Acts 4:31), and Paul (Acts 9:17; 13:9), were filled (ἐπλήσξησαν) with the Holy Ghost.
The six deacons, on the other hand, with Stephen and Barnabas (Acts 6:3, 5; 7:55; 11:24), are said to have been full (πλήρης) of the Spirit. Filled with the Spirit is used in both Old and New Testaments of those fitted for special service, as Bezaleel, John the Baptist, and Paul (Acts 9:17), or taken up, and used for a passing purpose, as Elizabeth, Zacharias, the hundred and twenty, Peter, and Paul at Paphos (Acts 13:9). Full of the Spirit seems characteristic of the general tenor of the life.
And here another Person must be mentioned, very different from the rest—the man Christ Jesus. To Him, “filled with the Spirit” is a term never applied. Scripture writes of Him as “full of the Holy Ghost” (Luke 4:1). A reason for this it is surely not difficult to discover. And in confirmation of the difference to which attention is here directed, the reader is requested to note the description of believers at Antioch (Acts 13:52), and to mark the exhortation given to God's saints in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 5:18). For though in a translation the distinction may, perhaps, not be made, in the original it can readily be seen. Of believers we read, “they were being filled” (ἐπλήρουντο) with the Holy Ghost. To the saints it is said (πληροῦσξε), “be ye filled” with the Spirit. The general character of the former is told us. Of that which should characterize Christians the apostle reminds us. Πληρόω can be used when saints are exhorted, πίμπλημι is only employed when a special condition is described.
Again, as we read of the Spirit being on Othniel and others, so we find that He was on Simeon (Luke 2:25), and He came upon Mary the Virgin (Luke 1:35), on the twelve disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:6), and, as the Lord promised, on the eleven after His ascension (Acts 1:8). Besides this, what Ezekiel describes, that the Spirit fell upon him (Ezek. 11:5), saints of New Testament times, believers in Samaria and at Caesarea, could speak of as experienced by them. He fell on them, and Peter adds, with reference to the company in the house of Cornelius, “as on us at the beginning” (Acts 8:16; 10:44; 11:15). The pouring out, too, of the Spirit we are made familiar with in thought through the writings of the prophets, before we meet with an illustration of it recorded in the Acts. “An illustration” we must say, for the outpourings of Acts 2 and x. were neither of them the fulfillment of the predictions of Joel, or Ezekiel, or Isaiah. These prophecies still await their accomplishment. Meanwhile we have to own that the outpouring of the Holy Ghost is not peculiar to Christianity) though as yet it has been confined to Christian times. And, further, we can add that the act was never repeated after that of which we read in Acts 10:45. On two occasions only did it take place, and in two chapters only of the Acts (2, 10) does the historian describe it; and Paul, the only other New Testament writer who mentions such an action (Titus 3:6), lends no support to the common idea that it may be looked for in our day. Poured out first on believers from amongst the Jews, poured out too on believers from amongst the Gentiles (thus putting the latter company on the fullest equality with the former, each receiving the gift direct from God) the Holy Ghost has never been poured again. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, or for the Spirit to fall on any one, is spoken of individuals; but the outpouring of the Spirit, is mentioned, in the New Testament, in connection only with a class, Jews or Gentiles (Acts 10:45), and hence is never repeated. And the former statements, it is clear, do not necessarily imply any descent of the Spirit from above, they only describe His reception by saints for the display of His power, through the individual in whom He was acting, as Bezaleel, Ezekiel, and others can bear witness.
Many, then, of the ways in which the Spirit acted before the first advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, can be illustrated from the manner of His working after. In what, it may be asked, have His ways of working since that event differed from His ways before it?
With the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ a new thing was manifested. A man was upon earth, the woman's Seed, conceived of the Holy Ghost. Believers throughout all ages had been, and are, born of the Spirit. The Lord Jesus, however, as man, was conceived of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. 1:20.) Born of the Spirit is true of every one who partakes of the new birth. But begotten of the Holy Ghost, as the virgin's child, is true only of the Lord Jesus Christ. At His baptism by John another action of the Spirit was manifested, differing from any which had been hitherto known, and described in language peculiar to itself. On Him the Spirit descended, καταβαίνων, as Matthew (3:16), Mark (1:10), Luke (3:22), and John (1:33), all carefully record. The Lord was full of the Spirit; so was Barnabas, so was Stephen, so were the rest of the deacons. The Spirit too was on Him. Of this, which Isaiah foretold (61:1), the Lord Himself announced the fulfillment. (Luke 4:18.) But the Spirit was also on Simeon. So far then the Lord Jesus might seem to be in the same category with these holy men; but in truth the difference between Him and them was immense, and He stands out alone in this, that on Him the Spirit descended. The Spirit which had clothed Gideon, and had worked in power on David and others, the Spirit which had moved upon the face of the waters, now descended on the Lord Jesus in a bodily form like a dove, and, as John the Evangelist adds, giving us the testimony of his namesake the Baptist, that it abode on Him, thus furnishing the son of Zacharias with the double token, by which he should discern the One who would baptize with the Holy Ghost. (John 1:32-34.) And now not only could it be said of Him that He was begotten of the Holy Ghost, and that on Him at His baptism the Spirit descended, for we are taught that, by the descent of the Spirit upon Him, He was both anointed with the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:38), and sealed by Him likewise (John 6:27). In all this whilst on earth He was alone, others however according to the counsels of God were to be both anointed and sealed, the fruit of His atoning work and the consequence of His ascension to heaven, Hitherto any action of the Spirit on men beyond that of the new birth has been, as far as we read of such things in the word, restricted to special objects of God's choice. All saints had been born of the Spirit, but all did not prophesy, nor were all energized for special service by Him. The Lord however announced a blessing which would be common to all God's people, and one which He could even impart whilst still on earth. And the time when this was announced, as well as the place, and the terms too in which the communication was conveyed, were in character with the blessing of which God was now pleased to speak. The time chosen was, when the Lord had appeared in humiliation, but in grace, amongst men; and had met with a poor sinner, who could not procure such a thing for herself. The place was a well side, to which all were free to resort. The figure used was that of water, which is met with in all parts of the earth. And the class which could benefit by it was so comprehensive, as to include within its limits every one who was willing to receive it. So free, so full, so general was to be the blessing, that a poor Samaritan could share in it, and whosoever should once drink of that living water could never thirst, for the water which the Lord would give would he in the recipient a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:10, 14.) This could be enjoyed before the cross, and the woman, if she knew the gift of God, and Who it was that accosted her, might have asked, and have received it—the Spirit of God within her for communion with the Father and with the Son.
But in other ways would the Spirit be manifested, only, however, after the cross. Of such the Lord spoke whilst on earth. (John 7:38; 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15.) The prophetic word told Israel that on them and on all flesh He was to be outpoured. John the Baptist had announced the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Lord spake of both (Acts 1:5-8), and dwelt more at length on the objects and results of the Spirit's coming to earth. “When he is come,” He said (John 15:26; 16:13), intimating most clearly that the Spirit is not a mere influence but a divine person, Who could not abide on earth whilst the Lord was here (John 16:7), and Who never had been dwelling on earth in any previous age of man's eventful history. (John 7:39.) The Holy Ghost, John the Evangelist in that passage of his Gospel declares,” was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” Clearly it is not of the Spirit's existence, but of His dwelling on earth that the apostle writes. “He was not,” a phrase any one familiar with Old Testament phraseology would readily understand. Enoch “was not,” when he ceased to live on this earth. The Spirit was not, till He came to dwell upon it. (See also Psa. 37:10; 103:16; Jer. 49:10; Matt. 2:18.) And not as a passing guest, a wayfaring man that tarries just for a little time, was the Holy Ghost to be known, but as the divine Person who would abide “with you,” as the Lord said “forever” (John 14:16). As such then He is surely present in the assembly of God's saints which is His habitation. No need then was there for Him to write of His presence. God's saints were conscious of it as Peter lets us know. (Acts 5:32.) Are we wrong then in speaking of it? It is true, παρουσία a term never applied to the Holy Ghost, though it is used of the Lord. But it should he observed that even to the Lord it was never applied when on earth, and it is used only of Him in connection with the looking for His return. If we meet a person in his house, we do not expect him to be telling us of his presence. If he is absent for a time, he might well apprize us that he would by-and-by be present.
(To be continued)

Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 13

The assembly at Jerusalem seems to have been brought at this time specially under the notice of Herod, perhaps in consequence of the character of their witness for Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews, which would excite his jealousy and enmity. The apostles seem also to have been still gathered as a distinct body in Jerusalem, at least the chief of them were certainly there at this time, which gave the assembly a Jewish tone, not in the mind of the Spirit, nor in the line of God's present actings, which were directed to the demolishing of any kind of classification, and the obliteration of everything which gave it an earthly character. They are slow to learn this lesson, and the sharp »hip of persecution must be used, and by the hand of him in whose power they placed themselves—a clear type of the Antichrist of the day yet future, who shall persecute the faithful remnant unto death. Herod the king lays hands on some of the assembly—slays James, and takes Peter. Here we find the king and people alike opposed to the remnant represented in Peter and the assembly, and this distinction and double character of persecution is prophesied of in Psa. 34 and lvi., where the experience, trouble, cry, and deliverance of the remnant of the latter day are brought out.
Psa. 34 shows the persecuting power of Antichrist; the confidence and path of faith amid all, and final deliverance, with the destruction of the oppressing usurper. “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.....The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all.....Evil shall slay the wicked, and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servant, and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate."
Psa. 56—the other referred to—also written by David upon this occasion, prophesies of the persecution which the godly remnant will suffer at the hands of the people in unbelief. It is noteworthy that Peter, to whom Psa. 34 has an application individually, and finds a fulfillment in the circumstances attending his imprisonment by Herod, his subsequent escape, and Herod's dreadful death, quotes it several times in his first Epistle, namely: 1 Peter 2:8; Psa. 34:8 Peter 2:22; Psa. 34:18: 1 Peter 3:10-12; Psa. 34:12, 13, 14, 15, 16; also compare 1 Peter 4; 5 with Psa. 34:15-22; also compare Psa. 34:4-7 with Acts 12:5-18; also Psa. 34:15-22 with Acts 12:21-24. Now, that the Spirit of the Lord has thus used the hand of the persecutor to bring the Jewish believers in Jerusalem to a proper sense of their position, he is, in his turn, to be dealt with (see 2 Thess. 1:6-9; 2:3, 4): for, having first opposed, be now exalts, himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped (Acts 12:21-24); so that he, sitting in the temple, showing himself that he is God, is smitten by an angel of the Lord, and expires, eaten of worms; but the word of God grows and spreads.
The church, which is the body of Christ, having thus escaped from these fleshly powers (Philistines in the land) Herod, and the people, is found in power at Antioch, where the current of the Lord's ways is at length fallen in with; for His glad tidings are preached unto the Gentiles, and His hand being with them, a great number believe, and turn to the Lord, and not only Jew, but Gentile— “everyone in debt, and everyone in distress, and everyone discontented, gathered themselves unto Him,” and He becomes Captain over them, for the disciples are first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26), and the church is gathered upon ground according to His mind. Paul and Barnabas being among the prophets and teachers, there would be sufficient to quiet any prejudices and misgivings likely to arise in the minds of the Jewish believers; and these two now take up the work which Peter had let fall, after being taken to task about the matter of Cornelius. For the assembly is commanded by the Holy Spirit to separate Barnabas and Saul for the work whereto He had called them, which was the gathering out from Jew and Gentile into the church of God all who confessed and worshipped the one true God, and were willing to receive the gospel. Thus Sergius Paul, who is intelligent, doubtless, in the things of God, is delivered, though a Gentile, and also at Antioch of Pisidia Paul declares this salvation to his brethren, sons of Abraham's race, and also to those who among them feared God, the consequence being that many Jews and worshipping proselytes followed Paul, and the next sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God; but when the Jews contradicted, Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles, who, hearing that this salvation was sent for them, glorified the word of the Lord, and believed, as many as were ordained to eternal life, and the word of the Lord was carried through the whole country. Similar results followed the preaching at Lystra and Derbe; as a rule the Gentiles gladly receiving the word, until the Jews, being jealous, stirred up opposition and persecution. And having thus passed through the country, and returned through the cities they had evangelized, the apostles came back to Antioch, from whence they had been committed to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled.
Turning back to chapter xi., and connecting it with chapter xv., we find the spirit of evil working on the hearts of believers by means of the prejudices of system, in order to destroy, if possible, the work of God, seeking to bring the assembly into bondage to Judaism, and thereby to cut it off altogether. For the apostles and brethren having heard that the Gentiles had received the word of God, when Peter went up to Jerusalem the party of the circumcision contended with him, their eyes being fixed upon the earthly things instead of the heavenly, through not understanding their true position, their hearts being still captivated with the honor, glory, and profit attached to the earthly system, and, little conscious as they were of the terrible evil they were doing, they continued in their foolish and ignorant clinging to the carnal ordinances and rudiments of the world, until they brought destruction upon their people, even to the remnant of faith. Afraid they were to leave all for Christ, accounting that they must have some worldly thing to console themselves withal: what a moat solemn and deeply important lesson does this teach us! Christ cannot have any one or anything to share the heart's affections with Him; however commendable in men's eyes, or plausible in appearance—because all blessing is in Him alone, all without is cursing. It may be red in the cup, and move itself aright, but in the end it stings like a serpent; it may seem a savory mess, but there is death in the pot. He that gathereth not with Me scattereth; he that is not with Me is against Me. If a man come to Me, and shall not hate his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yea, his own life too, he cannot be My disciple.
This mistrust of God's love, this evil and fatal thought, that we should be happier by having our own way, than by doing God's will, has ever been the devil's instrument to destroy the life or peace of man, persuading us that, if we do but appropriate what the eye sees and the heart lusts after, we shall be enjoying something now, misdoubting the promise that they which do the will of God shall endure forever. “What profit shall this birthright do to me?” Thus for bread and pottage of lentils does Esau barter, despising, his birthright! In Psa. 3 the Holy Spirit gives God's estimate of the man who should be the devil's instrument in persuading others to choose the treasures of Egypt rather than the reproach of Christ. The antidote to all the deceitful offers of the world, and to him that wields the glory of it, is that the goodness of God endureth continually. The soul that trusts the love of God has a shield that quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one. But he comes with a very plausible tale, here in a religious guise, smoothly working, deeply wounding, covering the evil work with lying words; a tongue which deceives, while its words devour, like the vampire but fanning the sleeper while sucking his lifeblood. Therefore God shall destroy him and his fleshly religion forever. The Lord shall spew him out of His mouth, pluck him out of his dwelling-place, and root him out of the land of the living. But the feeble remnant of the righteous shall see, and fear, and laugh at him; for this is the rich man clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day, that made not God his strength, but pulled down his barns to build bigger, Baying to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry;” trusting in the abundance of his riches, and strengthening himself in his substance. But the feeble ones are like a green olive tree in the house of God, and trust in His mercy forever and ever. (Psa. 53)

Scripture Query and Answer: Romans 8:9

Q. Rom. 8:9. What is the difference between the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God? and how can one have the former, and yet not have the latter? E. C.
A. It is not a question here of new birth: this one might have as in chapter 7., and yet have no power but be wretched also. If one have the Spirit of God indwelling, one is in the Spirit, not in the flesh; one is in the Christian place of liberty and peace. It is not said that one could have the Spirit of Christ here spoken of and not have the Spirit of God; on the contrary the Spirit of Christ is supposed to be the Spirit in practical power forming us according to Christ; so much so that if one has it not, one is not of Him (αὐτοῦ), one is not Christ's in redemption power. The Spirit of God might work in or at least by a man who professed Christ without life, as we see in Judas. (Matt. 7:22; Heb. 6:4-6.) But this is not His dwelling in the believer; it is not the Spirit of Christ.

Notes on John 8:12-20

The Lord continues His teaching of the people, but not without allusion to the incident which had just occurred, or rather to the character in which He had dealt with it. Nothing can be more evident than the True Light which was then shining and lightening every man. It is the more striking because the word “light” does not occur in that transaction; but the fact is thoroughly in harmony with what immediately follows.
“Again then Jesus spoke to them saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall in no wise walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (Ver. 12.) His rejection by the Jews always brings Him out in a still larger character of blessing and glory to others. In our Gospel however the Spirit speaks of what He is personally or independently of all circumstances. He is “the light of the world.” His glory, His grace, could not be confined to Israel. He is come to deliver from Satan's power and give the enjoyment of God. Hence, whatever be the darkness of men, and it was now profound among the Jews, “He that followeth me shall in no wise walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” The Christian is not only called out of darkness into God's wonderful light, but he becomes light in the Lord, a child of light, and he walks in the light, being brought to God who is light; and in the light, as John says, we have fellowship one with another, for in Him is life as well as light; or, as He says here, His follower has “the light of life.” He has Christ who is both.
So energetic a testimony rouses the pride and enmity of those who listened. They could not but feel that He spoke of a privilege and blessing which they did not enjoy. “The Pharisees therefore said to him, Thou bearest witness of thyself; thy witness is not true.” (Ver. 13.) They turn His own words in chapter v. 31 against Himself, but most unfairly; for there He was speaking of testimony alone and human, such as vanity gives itself; here, as He proceeds to show, He has the very highest support in God Himself. “Jesus answered and said to them, Even though I bear witness of myself, my witness is true; for I know whence I came, and where I go, [but] ye know not whence I come or where I go.” (Ver. 14.) They were wholly ignorant of the Father as of the Son. They never thought of heaven. The Lord had the constant consciousness of the truth of His person and mission; and His witness was inseparable from the Father's. As He says elsewhere,” I and my Father are one” He never lost the sense for a moment whence He came and whither He was going away, whereas they never had a thought of it. They were in utter darkness, though the light was there shining in Him. How truly then He could say, “Ye judge according to the flesh, I judge no one. And if also I judge, my judgment is true, because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” (Ver. 15, 16.)
Self is the source and object of all the activity of the flesh, according to which the Jews were judging. Christ brought love as well as light into the world. He was judging none; He was serving all. This made Him intolerable to the self-complacent. Yet is He to be the judge of all. In His resurrection God has given the pledge that He is to judge the world, even as in His own person He is the fitting one to do so, being Son of man as well as Son of God. “And if also I judge, my judgment is true, because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” (Ver. 16.) It was an admitted principle that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word should be established. To this the Lord here appeals: “And in your law too it is written that the witness of two men is true.” (Ver. 17.) How much more then the testimony of the Father and the Son. “I am he that testifieth concerning myself, and the Father that sent me testifieth concerning me.” (Ver. 18.) Of this too the Lord had spoken before (in chap, 5) but they had not heard to receive it, but only to despise Him.
“They said to him then, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye know neither me nor my Father. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” (Ver. 19.) Such ignorance of the only true God and of Jesus whom He sent is death, eternal death; and the more solemn, because it was said not to the heathen but to Jews who had the oracles of God. And these things they were saying because they knew not the Father nor the Son; as the hour would come when they would think to render God service by killing Christ's disciples. Their sayings and doings betrayed their state of utter alienation from and ignorance of the Father. All that followed of persecution and hatred, whether for Christ or for the church, was but the consequence. “These words he spoke in the treasury, teaching in the temple; and no one seized him, because his hour was not yet come.” (Ver. 20.) Their malice was as manifest as it was deadly; and it was against the Father as much as the Son.
But, spite of will, they were powerless till the time was come. Then was He given up to their murderous iniquity; then too still deeper counsels were in accomplishment through the sacrifice of Himself. If on the one hand He was cut off and had nothing of His Messianic rights in the midst of the Jews in the land, He was on the other suffering for sins, just for unjust, to bring all who believe to God, to be glorified on high and to have a bride given Him associated with Himself in His supremacy over all things. But this would carry us into the apostle Paul's teaching. Let us pursue the line given to John, where we behold the Word made flesh, and His divine glory shining through the veil of humiliation, and in this chapter particularly, first as light convicting, then as the light of life possessed by His followers; but if His word were rejected, no less was He the Son who alone can make free, yea the I AM, let men avail themselves of His manhood to scorn and stone and crucify Him as they may.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

It is not without instruction for us that the apostle can praise in the midst of so much too justly merited reproof. He loved to approve all he could.
“Now I praise you that in all things ye remember me, and hold fast the traditions according as I delivered [them] to you.” (Ver. 2) Tradition in scripture is used, not only for the added maxims of men, as in Matt. 15, but for what the apostles enjoined on the saints, first orally, then in inspired writings, as also in both ways, while the canon was in course and not yet complete. Compare also Rom. 6:17 Thess. 2:15.
“But I wish you to know that the head of every man is the Christ, and woman's head the man, and the Christ's head God. Every man praying or prophesying with head covered [literally, having something] on [his] head shameth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with the head uncovered shameth her own head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn; but if [it is] shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For man indeed ought not to have his head covered, being God's image and glory; but the woman is man's glory. For man is not of woman, but woman of man. For also man was not created on account of woman, but woman on account of man. On this account ought the woman to have authority on the head on account of the angels. However; neither [is] woman without man, nor man without woman, in [the] Lord; for as the woman [is] of the man, so also [is] the man by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman should pray to God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you that, if man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him; but if woman have long hair, it is a glory to her? Because the hair hath been given her instead of a veil. But if any one seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor yet the assemblies of God.” (Vers. 316.)
This is a most characteristic specimen of the apostle's dealing with a point of order. He deduces the solution from first principles involved in divine dealings from the beginning. It is an admirable way of settling questions, not by mere abstract authority, even where the highest lay, but by conveying to others the ways of God in creation and providence, which drew out the admiration as well as submission of his heart. It is no question of new creation. There difference disappears. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. But here on earth there is a relative order established of God; and as the man is woman's head, so the Christ is the head of every man, and God is the Christ's head. It were still more perilously false to use these words to disparage Christ than to turn aside their force to deny the subjection of woman to man. The Christ is viewed as such, not in His own intrinsic personal glory, or in the, communion of the divine nature, but in the place He entered and took as the Anointed. God, therefore, is the head of the highest; and as woman is bound to own the place given her by God, so is man to fill suitably his own assigned relationship. The principle is applied to correct some Christian women at Corinth who out stepped the limits of propriety. The apostle puts the entire case, and even a man's mistake as to it, though it would appear that it was as yet a question of the other sex. For a man to have his head covered would falsify his witness to Christ; so for a woman not to be. It is not argued on grounds of habit, modesty, or the like, but of the facts as revealed by God. It would be the sign of authority taken by the woman, of authority abandoned by the man. A woman without a veil is like a man, without being really so. It is to renounce, as far as the act goes, the subjection she owes to man; it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven. Let her also be shorn, says the indignant servant of the Lord; but if either be shameful for a woman, he adds, let her be covered. (Vers. 26.)
There is a still farther opening of the ground as to man and woman in the verses which follow. “For man indeed ought not to have his head covered, being God's image and glory; but the woman is man's glory. For man is not of woman, but woman of man. For also man was not created on account of woman, but woman on account of man. On this account ought the woman to have authority on the head on account of the angels. However, neither [is] woman without man, nor man without woman, in [the] Lord; for as the woman [is] of the man, so also [is] the man by the woman; but all things of God.” (Vers. 7-12.)
Thus the apostle points out man's standing directly as God's image and glory: woman is man's glory, having no such place of public representation for God. Whatever she has relatively is essentially mediate and derivative. Creation is the proof, not of course the ordinary course of things since. It is impossible, therefore, to form a right estimate without looking to the beginning. If verse 7 then refers to the origination of man and woman respectively, verse 8 sets forth the making of the woman for, and subsequently to, the man, as grounds of woman's subordination to man. It is easy to see that, where creation is denied, or even ignored, men naturally reason and labor for their equality. But there is another consideration, which only faith could admit—the testimony to divine order which should be given by man and woman to those spiritual beings whom scripture declares to have the most intimate connection with the heirs of salvation. (Compare 1 Cor. 4:9; Eph. 3) “For this reason ought the woman to have power on the head on account of the angels” a sentiment entirely mistaken by the mass of commentators, who have gone off, some into degrading thoughts about bad angels, others into lowering the word to the sense of the righteous themselves, the Christian prophets, the presidents of the assemblies, the nuntii desponsationum or persons deputed to effect betrothals, or mere spies sent there by the unfaithful.
So also the expression, “authority on the head,” has given rise to endless discussion. To have authority on the head unquestionably means to wear the sign of it in a covering or veil. On the other hand, in verses 11, 12, the apostle is careful to insist on the mutuality of man and woman, denying their independence of one another, affirming God the source of them respectively, and of all things.
Further, he appeals to the sense of propriety grounded on the constitution of both man and woman. “In your own selves judge: is it becoming that a woman uncovered should pray to God? Doth not even nature itself teach you,” &c. If it be as natural for man to have short hair as for woman to have long, is it not a revolt against the nature of each to reverse this in practice? God's creation must govern where the word of His grace does not call to higher things, and this could not be pretended here.
Finally, the habitual usage of the churches, as regulated by apostolic wisdom, is no light thing to disturb, and this the apostle puts with great moral force. “But if any one seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor yet the churches of God.” It is a contemptible sort of independence which sets itself up, not only against the spiritual feeling of all the public witness in God's assemblies, but above those endowed with heavenly wisdom to direct all. It is neither conscience nor spirituality, but a fleshly love of differing from others, and at bottom sheer vanity. The “custom” negated was the Corinthian innovation, which confounded God's order in nature, not disputatiousness, as many ancients and moderns strangely conclude,

Elements of Prophecy: 13. On the Year-Day Theory

It has now been shown that, though there may be special characteristics in the symbolical visions of Daniel and the Revelation, there is no ground for the notion that they relate to gospel times, still less that they present the church's predicted history on earth from the close of the Jewish dispensation to the second coming of our Lord. There is a transition of the greatest importance on which the details of these visions converge—an interval which has for its main object to disclose the consequences, on the one hand, of Israel's evil and ruin, and on the other of Christendom's. God has taken care that the church should not be without divine light on its path, but He has done so with perfect wisdom so as not to interfere with its own proper and peculiar privileges; whereas the interpreters of almost every school have sacrificed them to their theories, overlooking the true scope of the book.
It is quite true then that the difficulty is due, not so much to the various and complex nature of the symbols themselves, as to the spiritual condition of the readers and the moral character of scripture itself, judging as it does the degeneracy and corruption of Christendom. It carries the war at once into the strongest fortresses of ecclesiastical pride and Christian worldliness. The scriptures, predictive or not, which reveal Christ rejected on earth and glorified in heaven, are as obnoxious to professing Gentiles as those of His humiliation and cross were to the unbelieving Jews. In either case faith in God is called for; in the gospel especially unsparing judgment of self and separateness from the world. This is so distasteful to flesh that one need not wonder if souls shrink back from the truth which exposes their unfaithfulness, and either neglect the Apocalypse or take up schemes which allow more room, for human energy and distinction on the one hand, or for earthly ease on the other. If Christ's glory were the one object, there would be more simple subjection to the truth; and it would soon be seen that, as Daniel unfolds the times of the Gentiles on the proved downfall of the Jews, so John gives us the judgment first of Christendom, next of the world, though not without dealings of rich mercy to the faithful at all times to His glory who was cast out from the earth.
I. Let us proceed however to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the hypothesis called popularly the year-day theory, as one not only long held by Protestants but claiming of late to have its basis made sure and simple by scripture proof. It is supposed to rest on these maxims:—
1. That the church was intended to be kept in the lively expectation that Christ who had ascended would speedily come again.
2. That in the divine counsels a long period of near 2000 years was to intervene between the first and second advents and to be marked by a dispensation of grace to the Gentiles.
3. That, in order to strengthen the faith and hope of the church under the long delay, a large part of the whole interval was prophetically announced, but in such a manner that its true length might not be understood till its own close seemed to be drawing near.
4. That in the symbolical prophecies of Daniel and John other times were revealed along with this, and included under one common maxim of interpretation.
5. That the periods thus figuratively revealed are exclusively those in Daniel and John, which relate to the general history of the church between the time of the prophet and the second advent.
6. That in these predictions each day represents a natural year, as in the vision of Ezekiel; that a month denotes 30, and a time 860 years.
Such is the general nature of the theory and of its foundations. Its statement is supposed to remove at once the main difficulties that have been felt; as for example concealing the length of the delay when the knowledge might have been injurious, and revealing it when once it became a help to the church that it should be known.
The answer however is that, as Daniel contemplates manifestly only the Gentile powers of the world and Jewish saints with the mass of the people apostate, so the Revelation does provide for the church's direct instruction as such in the seven epistles of Rev. 2; 3—epistles which applied at once to the seven literally addressed assemblies of John's day in proconsular Asia, but surely also meant in a mystery to embrace the successive need of saints on earth as long as the Lord has any here below possessed of similar privileges and with like responsibilities. It is only when these seven states could be looked back on as fairly developed that God permitted the evidence to be at all distinct and complete; that is, when the light derived from the messages would strengthen rather than weaken our waiting for Christ day by day. In this point of view we see that the direct bearing of the prophetic visions is on the same elements as in Daniel, Israel and the nations, with the aggravated guilt of having despised the grace proclaimed in the gospel as well as exemplified in Christ and even in the church while here below. The times and the seasons are or ought to be well known to us, but about the earth and the earthly people. Those who belong to heaven are not so regulated. The prophetic dates therefore are about suffering Jewish or their Gentile oppressors. Those who apply them to the church ignore its heavenly title and the fact that, when they apply, the heavenly redeemed are demonstratively on high, not here below. We may dismiss the clashing of swords between Mr. Mede or Dr. Maitland, their defenders or their assailants. Protestant or Romanizer, neither of them really understood the nature of the church as distinct from the Jew and the Gentile, and consequently they are almost equally dark as to the prophetic word.
II. On the nature of the evidence to be expected we need not dwell. It is freely granted that there may be a literality in interpreting no less spurious than the so-called spiritualizing. We have to weigh on the one hand whether the form be simple or symbolic; but we have to discern on the other whether a particular part belong to the vision or its divinely given interpretation, bearing in mind the fundamental fallacy of expecting no more from the words of God than from the writings of any man as such. Whatever is conveyed in a specially mysterious form should be weighed proportionately. The least change in scripture intimates an adequate design.
III. The general character of the passages themselves has next to be considered. Do they occur in the explanation or in the vision to be explained? Are they worded in the most simple, equal, and natural terms, or do they bear plain marks of a singular, uncommon, and peculiar phraseology, perhaps even prefaced by words importing concealment?
The following are all the passages in Daniel and St. John to which the year-day principle has usually been applied:—
(1.) Dan. 7:24-26. (2.) Dan. 8:13, 14, 26. (3.) Dan. 9:24-27. (4.) Dan. 12:5-9. (5.) Dan. 12:10-13. (6.) Rev. 2:10. (7.) Rev. 9:5, 10. (8.) Rev. 9:15. (9.) Rev. 11:2, 3. (10.) Rev. 11:9-11.) Rev. 12:6. (12.) Rev. 12:14. (18.) Rev. 13:6.
That a mysterious character attaches to all or almost all these expressions of time naturally insinuates something more than the barely literal dates. The general application then of the longer computation may be allowed; but one must not thereby set aside the brief and definite periods of the closing crisis.
IV. The general symmetry of the sacred prophecies is supposed to yield a presumption as strong against the shorter acceptation of these numbers as in favor of the longer view. It is urged that, when a declaration of future events is attended also with one of definite seasons, one expects some degree of correspondence between the two parts of the revelation; and that scripture precedent confirms this; as in the one hundred and twenty years delay of the flood, the four hundred years and four generations of sojourn in Egypt, the forty years in the wilderness, the sixty-five years before Ephraim's captivity, the seventy years captivity of Judah, the forty years of Egypt's desolation, the seventy weeks before Messiah's kingdom with its minor terms, the three days of our Lord's burial, and the seven years to follow on Israel's restoration. (Ezek. 39) In these an evident proportion is held to exist between the time predicted and the event announced; whereas it is argued that in the twelve or more specified seasons which extend from Cyrus to the second advent, on the shorter reckoning all proportion is lost between the range of the events and the periods entering into the predictions: especially as features even on the surface suggest more than the letter. The answer is that, besides the principle of the break or interruption which we have seen to obtain in Daniel regularly, which leaves us free to take the times in their strictest force at the end of the age, there is no need to deny the Christian's title to gather help from the great prophecies of Daniel and John which contain them all through.
V. The presumption drawn from the symbolical nature of the books is of a similar kind. Since the prophetic dates are found exclusively in those two books which possess, also exclusively, a symbolical and mysterious character, it is a natural inference that those dates have or may have themselves a covert meaning. This may be allowed if one do not get rid of the short reckoning which finds its limits within the last or seventieth week of Daniel. The reserve of that period (seven years) is surely significant.
VI. Again the dispensation as being one of mystery is pleaded. But the comparison of Dan. 12 with 1 Peter 1:10-12 conveys no thought of the peculiar reference of the times to us. Prophets that prophesied of the grace toward us sought out and searched out concerning salvation, searching what or what manner of season the Spirit of Christ which was in them was declaring, while testifying beforehand the sufferings as to Christ and the glories after these; to whom it was revealed that not to themselves but to you they were ministering the things which now have been announced to you by those who preached the gospel to you in the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. Here is no distinct assertion whatever that the times fall within our lines. As often noticed, there are three things: the predictions of old; the gospel now preached in the power of the Spirit; and the future manifestation of the Lord Jesus, when the promises shall be accomplished. It was revealed to them, not that the prophetic dates belong to our day, but that to us, Christians, they were ministering the things now announced by the gospel, not yet the glory in which Christ and we shall be manifested together. To confound the mystery of God in Rev. 10 with Eph. 3 or even Rom. 11 is singular lack of discrimination; and this confusion is the reason for the hasty conclusion that the six trumpets and all the numbers connected with them must be contained within the limits of this dispensation.
VII. Their mysterious introduction is the last of the presumptions that they are not designed for the shorter periods, but in some analogical meaning which may restore their harmony with the wider range of the prophecies they belong to. But we have already conceded that a larger reference may be admitted if the distinct application to the future crisis be kept intact.

A Slight Sketch of the Holy Spirit's Ways: Part 2

With the Spirit's coming however was to commence the time when He would dwell with the Lord's people on earth, and also be in them, teaching them too all things, and reminding them likewise of all that the Lord had said unto them. (John 14) Moreover the Spirit would Himself bear witness of Christ (John 15), and that not merely through the Lord's people, for they were to bear witness in addition; and by His presence on earth He would demonstrate to the world its sin, and at the same time He would guide the disciples into all the truth. (John 16) Great indeed and marked were to be the results of His coming, and believers who received Him would become reservoirs or cisterns, out of which refreshing fertilizing vivifying water should flow to others. (John 7:31) A man on whom the Spirit could descend and abide, anointed with and sealed by Him also, energized too by Him, and begotten of Him in a manner peculiar to Himself, able to give the Holy Ghost, and about to baptize with the Spirit, led of Him, and full of Him—such was the Man Christ Jesus, the Son of God most high. Alone begotten of the Spirit, the only one too on whom He has ever descended, as well as the sole Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, there are, on the other hand, certain statements made about Him, which are applied to others as well. Men in earlier days had been energized, and fresh ones would be energized by the Spirit, who would also be written of as indwelt by the Spirit of God, anointed with Him, and sealed by Him. But for all this the Son must go to the Father. Yet ere He went to heaven, He breathed on His disciples, and gave them the Holy Ghost, communicating thus the Spirit from Himself the risen One, that, sent by Him, they might be authorized to act in discipline in His assembly upon earth. (John 20:21-23; Matt. 18:18.)
And now we meet with a term used more than once on future occasions— “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Does this of necessity imply an outpouring of the Spirit each time He is received? The use of the term in John 20 clears up that point. The disciples received the Holy Ghost from the Lord before the outpouring took place; after that had taken place, believers received the Spirit, and each one does in whom He dwells; but to receive the Holy Ghost, an outpouring each time is clearly not requisite, and further the Spirit may be received without the imposition of hands, and apart from the miraculous powers with which at times believers were endowed. Of this too John 20 is a witness. And though the Galatian saints had received the Spirit, and those of Ephesus and Rome as well, with the exception the twelve at Ephesus, we have no hint of miraculous powers being shared in by these saints at all.
At length the day of Pentecost arrived, and the Lord Jesus having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, shed forth that which the astonished multitude both saw and heard. The Holy Spirit had come, the third person in the Godhead now took up for the first time His dwelling-place on earth, an event fraught with important issues for believers collectively, for the world, and for saints individually.
And first as to the bearing of the coming of the Holy Ghost on believers collectively. The Lord Jesus, as we have seen, had been marked out by the descent of the Spirit upon Him at His baptism by John as the One who should baptize with the Holy Ghost. This baptism, peculiar in its character, and for a special purpose, now for the first time took place. Baptism with water was nothing new; John had administered such a rite. The disciples too were empowered to baptize with water. The Lord Jesus alone has baptized with the Holy Ghost. But on two occasions only have we any hint of such a baptism having taken place. On the day of Pentecost in the upper room in Jerusalem it was first administered. In the house of Cornelius (must we not say?) it again took place. (Acts 11:16.) John the Baptist had foretold it, the four Evangelists record his testimony about it, the church's historian, Luke, recounts the occasions and circumstances under which it took place (Acts 1:5; 2; 11:16), and Paul in writing to the Corinthians states doctrinally the results of it. (1 Cor. 12:13.) But as with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, so with the baptism of the Spirit, no hint have Christians to ask for repetition of it, nor is there ground to look for it. For its effect being the baptizing believers into one body, this, when once done, was not to be repeated. Believers from amongst Israel were baptized into one body on the day of Pentecost; believers from, amongst Gentiles were also baptized by the same Spirit into the body in the house of Cornelius. Had it been otherwise, converts from the Gentiles might have never been allowed a place of equality, or the recognition of oneness, with converts from the race of Israel. To mark the equality and oneness both companies received the Holy Spirit in the same way, direct from above, without human intervention of any kind. One sees the reason for the second outpouring and baptizing. One may surely, too, easily discern why they did not, and could not, take place afresh. And whatever may be said by men, we should remember that One person only in scripture is said to baptize with the Spirit (Matt. 3:11), and nowhere in the word is there any statement from which to draw the inference, that an apostle could baptize with the Spirit, or that laying on of hands was ever requisite for this baptism to be bestowed.
But are the outpouring and baptizing, some may ask, distinct actions of the Spirit? At one and. the same time both took place, though the ideas conveyed to us by the terms made use of are very different. The outpouring reminds us of the plenitude of God's gift; the baptism describes a special effect upon believers, who, thereby made one body, were henceforth to be conscious of it and declare it. The lines of demarcation between nations were not obliterated, but believers of whatever nationality were members one of another, being members of the body of Christ, the Spirit which was in Him uniting them to Him the Head, and to one another as members of His body. Thus a double tie existed. Believers at Antioch, in Syria, in Macedonia, in Achaia, and Galatia, owned the poor saints at Jerusalem as brethren, with whom they were closely connected by the tie of birth, being children of one Father. Believers too were members of the body of Christ, being united to Him, the Head by the Holy Ghost; and this so really, that one member could not say to another, I have no need of thee (1 Cor. 12:21); nor, if the proper development of the body is to take place, can one member be dispensed with. (Eph. 4:16; Col. 2:19.) And although the body of Christ may be termed a mystical body, it is none the less a real body, and Christians are reminded that there is but one such, the unity formed by the Spirit, which all believers are exhorted to keep (Eph. 4:8), and which, by partaking of the one loaf at the Lord's table, we openly declare that we really are. (1 Cor. 10:17.)
Besides this, the Spirit has builded believers into an habitation κατοικητήριον of God (Eph. 2:22), called elsewhere God's house οἰκος (1 Tim. 3:16), and God's temple ναός. (1 Cor. 3:16.) In this the Holy Ghost dwells. He is not said to dwell in the body. He forms that, but He dwells in the house. The outpouring then of the Spirit was not merely the bestowal of power, but the coming of a divine Person to take up His abode upon earth in the assembly of God's saints, as the Lord had previously declared. And so really is He on earth, that Ananias and Sapphira tempted Him, and lied to Him. (Acts 5:3-9.) So truly does He dwell in the assembly of God, whether local or general, that if any man corrupts the temple of God, him will God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple, addressing the Corinthians, the apostle declares, “ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:17.) And so surely does the Spirit abide with the church whilst it continues on earth, that with the bride (not merely through the bride) He asks the Lord to come as the Morning Star. (Rev. 22:17.)
Secondly, the Spirit's presence on earth concerned the world, and had an important bearing both on mission work in general, and on the due regulation of local assemblies. He was to testify of Christ. This, which the Lord predicted (John 15:26) Peter announced was actually taking place. (Acts 5:32.) His presence too on earth, as come, sent by the Lord Jesus Christ, attests the world's sin in rejecting God's Son, and witnesses of righteousness, because He has gone to His Father, as well as of judgment, for the prince of this world is thereby judged. Three solemn conclusions for the world does the Spirit by His presence here set forth. It is true the world has never seen Him, it cannot see Him, yet His presence is none the less sure, and does concern it most deeply, however it may refuse to heed His testimony.
Further, He directed in mission work, as well as appointed officers in the local assemblies. He selected Paul and Barnabas for their missionary work among the Gentiles, and sent them forth from Himself to accomplish that to which He had called them: (Acts 13:2, 4.) He directed Philip to join company with the eunuch (Acts 8:29), and encouraged Peter to enter the house of Cornelius, escorted thither by the centurion's servants, whom the Spirit had sent for that purpose. (Acts 10:19, 20.) He hindered Paul and his company from laboring in Asia, and would not suffer them to enter Bithynia. (Acts 16:6, 7.) Neither to the left hand nor to the right was Paul to turn, for he was to journey straight on in order to enter Europe by way of Troas. On another occasion He forbade Paul by the instrumentality of others to go up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4); a communication however to which the apostle gave no heed, and with what results to himself we all know. With the Spirit's action within the assembly the apostle Paul acquaints us. Overseers or bishops were placed by Him (Acts 20:28) in different local assemblies, and He divides to each man gifts χαρίσματα severally as He will. (1 Cor. 12:11.) Opportunity then should be given in the assembly for the manifestation of the Spirit by whomsoever He may select. And true worship now, that which God owns as such, is by the Spirit of God, as we should probably read in Phil. 3:3.
But not only to work as believers, but to be in them individually, did the Holy Ghost come. “He shall be in you,” the Lord declared. (John 14:17.) In accordance with this we read of saints receiving the Spirit (Acts 19:2; Gal. 3:2); of the Spirit being given to them (Rom. 5:5; 1 Thess. 4:8), and supplied, or ministered, to them (Gal. 3:5); of their having the Spirit (Jude 1, 19), being led of the Spirit (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18), and walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16); of their being sealed with the Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30), and indwelt by the Spirit, as well as of the Spirit making intercession for them, helping their infirmities, and witnessing with their spirit of their relationship to God. (Rom. 8:9, 11, 16, 26.) But any, and all, of this is true only of believers. For, whilst souls are born of the Spirit, He dwells only in such as are already believers. He was in the prophets of old as the Spirit of Christ. (1 Peter 1:11.) He was with them as David declares. (Psa. 2:11.) But that which was true of every prophet of old, and of every vessel taken up by God for special service, was not true of all God's saints before the cross. Now it is different. And though all are not gifts from the ascended Christ, to minister in the assembly; nor are all pastors, to care in a special way for the flock; nor are all prophets, to edify God's saints, though all can prophesy, if qualified by the Spirit to do it (1 Cor. 14:31); yet to each one a gift, or gifts, χαρίσματα, are given to profit withal. And it is the distinctive mark, as well as the common privilege, of every believer to have the Spirit of God within him. (John 14:17.) And everyone, who now with the heart believes God's testimony of forgiveness of sins through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, does share in this great, this blessed, gift (Acts 2:38; 10:43, 44; Gal. 3:2; Eph. 1:13) which it needed as a rule no apostle of old to give.
So, addressing the Corinthians, Paul reminds them that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (1 Cor. 12:7-11) Writing to the Galatians, he mentions the gift of the Spirit as common to them all. (Chaps, 3, 4) And, though desirous to impart to the Romans some spiritual gift, to establish them whom he had never as a body seen, and to whom as an assembly none of the eleven had ministered, he writes of them as having the Spirit given to them by God. (Rom. 5:5.) In a similar strain John writes in his Gospel (7:39), and presses on the youngest believer in his Epistle. (1 John 2:20, 27.) And so really does the Spirit dwell in each believer, that his body is a temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 6:19), and will, if it dies, be raised up, because He has dwelt in it, as Rom. 8:11 really states. Further, any Christian who deals deceitfully with a brother in the matter of his wife is told that he despises not man but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thess. 4:8.) How practical is the teaching in connection with this truth!
Again, the Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance; by Him too we are sealed, as well as anointed. Of the two first Paul alone writes. He is the earnest, as in us, of the inheritance we shall share by-and-by with the Lord Jesus. By the Spirit too we are sealed of God, thus marked as those who are His. Besides this, the Spirit is the unction. Paul just mentions this (2 Cor. 1:2.1), but John expatiates somewhat on it. (1 John 2:20, 27) Thus of our future portion are we reminded and assured, as well as of our present relationship to Him whose Spirit dwells in us. God would have us informed of all this, and by the Spirit it is effected. He bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearty crying Abba Father. (Rom. 8:16; Gal. 4:6.) What mighty and what blessed results flow from the coming of the Holy Ghost! He wrought on men, and worked through men, before the flood. He acted in person by men in addition after the flood. After the cross, in addition to all that, He came to dwell in believers, as well as in God's habitation upon earth. All then which follows from His dwelling upon earth is distinctively Christian truth.
Just one more fact should be mentioned, ere this slight sketch is concluded. Scripture predicts a time of apostasy (2 Thess. 2; Rev. 13), and the appearance of a minister of iniquity called the lawless one. (2 Thess. 2:8.) What has hindered his manifestation up to this very hour? The germs of the evil, which will develop into that apostasy, were on earth in apostolic days. But what hindered then has hindered, and still hinders, the full carrying out of Satan's plans? Scripture seems to intimate that it is the Holy Ghost. It is a power, and a person, τὸ κατέχον, ὁ κατέχων. What so well answers to this double description as the Holy Spirit of God present on earth, who restrains, because present, the bursting forth of that flood of iniquity, which for a time in Christendom will seem to carry all before it?
The Spirit, however, though He will then have ceased to dwell upon earth, will yet work here as a Held for the manifestation of divine grace and power. Souls will be converted, testimony for God and for the Lord will go out and very extensive results will be the consequence, and at length, when the Lord shall have come to reign over Israel, and God's opponents have been by Him overthrown, the outpouring of the Spirit, of which the prophets have spoken, will taken place, and rest and peace will find a dwelling-place upon this earth.
E. S.

Notes on Matthew 13

In these parables we have the character and importance of the word shown, and its effects. The object of revealing truth in this manner is made known to us by the Lord in His answer to the disciples, saying, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Parables then, we find, unfold the word to those who already know Jesus, and they are spoken consequent upon the unbelief of the Jewish people, amongst whom the Lord had previously ministered and cast out devils and healed the sick, and who then in the very principle of apostasy had asked a sign. The character of this evil and adulterous generation is spoken of as having corrupted themselves; their spot is not the spot of God's children; they are a froward generation, children in whom is no faith; and here it is as though He were just declaring, I will hide my face from them, and see what their end will be. And this is the reason He speaks in parables. The spirit of unbelief was clearly developed in the Jews after His taking the utmost possible pains with them, and then He hides His face from them, telling them their condition is this, that “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” (Matt. 12:34, 43-45.) Having seen this, then, we see that the parables are the unfolding of mysteries to those who believe.
The Lord, as the apostle of our profession at His first coming, spoke the word of God, and when He returns to judge the world, He will judge by the word which He has spoken, as He says, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you."
The Lord's testimony was of grace, expressive of all that God was in grace to sinners. And when He comes again, He will come judging by it; having given the mind of God, He returns to heaven, and then He returns as king to judge by the word which He had spoken. In the first of these parables we find the Lord going forth to sow the seed. I would speak of the effect and operation of this.
The last six parables have a very different character.
The three first unfold what goes on in the world consequent upon the sowing of the seed; and the three last, the mind of Christ internally as regards the effect.
First, we have the seed sown in the field; and parallel to this is the field bought for the sake of the prize which He knew to be in it.
The grain of mustard seed becoming a tree in which the birds of the air lodge is the indiscriminate place of shelter afforded by the organization of professed doctrine; on the other hand we have the pearl of great price, and understood in its value by a merchantman; here we find the spiritual understanding of Christ, and what every Christian has in his measure.
The leaven, which is a corrupt and a hidden thing, leavens the whole three measures of meal; that is, a given part is filled with it. The whole from the field is gathered, and the whole of the net is drawn to shore; and then comes the separation.
We always find in the interpretation of parables and symbols more is included than the parable or symbol states.
So here the explanation states what the Son of man should do when the angels are sent forth. And here we get the Lord's judgment consequent upon the effects of the seed sown, and that which follows, even that all things that offend and do iniquity shall be gathered out of His kingdom, and cast into a furnace of fire, where shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth; and then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The interpretation here embraces more, and carries us farther, than the parable itself. So in Dan. 7 we have first a vision declaring the power of four beasts, and of a little horn which should come out of them; then their destruction, and the setting up of another kingdom; but it is in the interpretation, in verses 18 and 22, that we learn that the saints of the Most High shall possess that kingdom.
These interpretations carry out the child of God into the next dispensation.
In the parable of the tares the servant asks if they shall gather them out (that is, now—at this present time; but the interpretation shows us what takes place consequent upon the time which the parable describes. Christ came into the world, and sowed wheat; the devil sowed tares; this is not simply unconverted men, but the operation of Satan to injure and mar the work of God; there were unconverted men before Christ came, and Satan presented adequate temptation to man's pride, covetousness, and self-esteem, to guide them to his principles, and this is the wise man of the world. But there is another thing now; Satan comes to introduce mischief where God had introduced good. The world is not now in its natural state; Jesus, as the apostle of our profession, has come and sown good seed; but while men slept, the enemy has come in upon this, and sown tares, to injure and to corrupt the profession of the church. It may be great and flourishing in appearance as the tree—it may fill the three measures of meal as the leaven—but it is a corrupt thing.
But to confine myself to the parable of the tares. It is not only the weeds of the field, that is, natural evil, but the subtle evil of the tares growing up to a harvest of judgment, that is, the church nominally; but where were they to be let grow together with the wheat? In the world; there is not to be the judicial process of excision here. The Son of man sows; the Son of man, as king, gathers out of His kingdom all things that offend and do iniquity; but what is this but the condemnation of a judicial process of excision in the world now by the saints? This is not to be executed until He comes.
I take notice, in passing that this has nothing to do with discipline, because this is exercised in the church on the children, or on those we hope to be such; while the proposed excision was to be exercised on the tares, those known to be tares, that is, discerned iniquity.
The parable of the net cast into the sea comes within the class which is the subject of the spiritual apprehension of disciples only, and is addressed only to them, its very subject being within the scope of their understanding only; while, on the other side, it presents the gathering of a company out of the world, in which good and bad are alike found; the process on which is the subject of their occupation and apprehension, and which the fishermen who draw the net carry on, and not the angels.
Note here, the servants or the fishermen are not occupied with the bad; extermination from the world was not their business; here the dealing with the good is the subject of the parable, the explanation determines the portion of the bad.
So the tares are gathered into bundles to be burned, and before they are cast into the furnace of fire, the wheat is gathered into His barn. We find in this the separation of the saints from the evil, and not the carrying into effect the judgment of the wicked; the good are gathered previous to the judgment upon the ungodly. In the parable we find they are told to gather together the tares in bundles ready for the burning, but they are not told to burn them; then the wheat is to be gathered into a barn, a place of security. But in the explanation there is the gathering out of all things that offend and do iniquity, and they are cast into the furnace of fire, and then the righteous (before gathered into the barn) shall shine forth in the kingdom of their Father.
The principles of iniquity and the providence of God now go on together. First the tares are gathered, and then the wheat; then the tares are judged, and the good shine forth—that is, first of all we have the practical separation, the providential gathering of the wheat out of the way of judgment into the barn, and then the actual judgment of the tares, and consequent upon that the wheat shines forth. When the fish are separated we have, not the good shining forth in glory, but the good gathered into vessels, and then the had destroyed.
In this parable of the tares we find Satan was waking and men were sleeping, and the effect produced is the mixture of the evil and the good, and this is now the work of the devil, mixing evil with good in this world; and we can still say “an enemy hath done this.” Competence to remedy it is another thing; but let us settle this as a first principle, that if we see evil and good mixed in the profession of Christianity, this is the work of Satan, and remember the tares are not simply unconverted men, (there were plenty before the Lord came,) but the tares are the work of Satan consequent upon His coming.
Is the thing the Lord proposes in sowing the seed to set the world right? No; for the servants ask, Are we to root out the tares? and the answer is, No, they are to grow till the harvest; in the world the process of mixture will go on till then, when the Lord will interfere Himself. Here, then, we have the express revelation that the idea of setting the world right by the word comes not from a spiritual understanding; but the Lord's answer to, Whence came these things? and Whither should they be? is, I have bought the world for the sake of the treasure that is in it; and the saints learn to their comfort that the good are gathered into vessels while on the shore, that is, while they are practically together, and, of course, while they have to contend with open and subtle evil, and this we must expect in the world, until He gathers out of His kingdom all things that offend and do iniquity.
In the practical application of this it is of great importance to see that the mixing anything with God's wheat is sanctioning the iniquity of the world. If I see anything with the spirit of the world, or the power of it, stamped upon it, I see a plant which is not of the Lord's planting; and if I see this mixed with Christianity, that which is of Christ, and that which is not of Christ, I say, “an enemy hath done this.” We have been slumbering, but the enemy was awake. The spirit of a believer necessarily involves total separation from the world, for where there is a spirit to join the world, there is not the Spirit of God, but the spirit of the world. But this state of things will not go on forever.
I would ask you, dear friends, whether there be in you this recognition of the total separation in spirit which these things mark out to us? If this is not the case, we are either the natural weeds of the field, or what Satan has sown to do mischief; you may be those God will convert, but you are one of these, or you have the principle in your hearts, that the love of the world is enmity against God.
The thing of price to my soul is that Christ is coming. The beauty and glory of Christ is clearly opposed to the things of the world. Are your hearts under the control of the spirit of disobedience? or, if the Lord were manifested, is it the thing you delight in? Because He will appear the second time without sin unto salvation. And you who love Christ, cannot you discriminate between Christ and this heartless evil world? Have you given up its interests and its intercourse, save in doing good? Can it be that the things by which Satan governs our hearts are topics of mutual interest to Christians and to the world? No. All that is of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. The world is alienated from God, and if mixed up with the saints, it is “an enemy hath done this” —the saints of God taught of Christ by the Spirit know that it is an enemy. May the Lord press its truth, dear friends, on your hearts, that you may be separated from the world; may He show you it is impossible to mix these things, and keep you from the wish to do so!

Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 14

Thus, first and last, from beginning unto everlasting, for all trials, temptations, times, and circumstances, the strength and victory of the believer is in trust in God, who so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, and commends His love to us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. We, seeing that He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, are assured that with Him He will freely give us all things. Thus the cross of Christ is not only the cause, but the power, of our separation from the world, for we see in it the measure and power of the love of Him who met thus our need and us as sinners, and for His own love's sake brought us to Himself, that we might dwell with Him forever; therefore we praise Him forever, and wait upon His name.
In Acts 11 is seen the first deliberate opposition to the work of God from within the church; the spirit of evil, using the party of the circumcision for the purpose, who were believers, but not walking according to the Spirit. It is such instruments the devil delights to employ. They are sincere; what they do has a commendable appearance; they are utterly helpless for good, being cut off by self-will and unbelief from the only source of spiritual power, and therefore, but for the sovereign grace of God, would, like the herd of swine possessed by the demons, rush madly to destruction, with all that follow them. Hitherto the assembly had endured persecution from without, now it is opposition from within, but whether it be Saul persecuting outside in vehement rage, or the party of the circumcision within opposing the liberty of Christ, through slavish fear and timorous unbelief, it is the same flesh in each, and the same evil spirit working in it. On this first occasion, however, the intention of Satan is frustrated by the wise answer of Peter, and the ingenuousness of the believers; for he shows that all he did was by the positive command of the Lord and the guidance of the Spirit, that God had first acknowledged the Gentiles in giving them the Holy Ghost, and he could but allow them likewise: and when the brethren heard these things, faith revives, they refused to put forth their hand to do the bidding of the adversary (1 Sam. 22:11-17), but held their peace, and glorified God (Acts 11:18). On the second occasion, for a moment, as it were, the scene shifts from Jerusalem to Antioch, for so powerfully had the old leaven worked in the assembly at Jerusalem, that its influence spread as far as Antioch, and in a more corrupt form than before, for now it is not only that a Gentile is unclean, but that God cannot cleanse him unless he be made a Jew (Acts 15:1). But the flood of evil is met by those able by the Spirit to stem the tide, and is rolled back from whence it came, and once more Jerusalem is the place of strife. Here Peter and James take the work out of the hands of Barnabas and Paul, but are not so able for the conflict; for whereas on the former occasion Peter took God's side, now he simply refuses to take the enemy's, for, leaving the yoke upon the neck of the Jewish believer, he exhorts them only not to put it on the Gentile.
James does not even reach thus far, for, like Peter, not seeing the true distinct standing of the church, outside everything earthly, and seated in heavenly places in Christ, he does not even stand aside, and let God work unhindered, but must needs put a little obstacle in the path, no great burden, as it were a pebble only, but enough for some to stumble over. Necessary things, doubtless, but laid upon a neck not made to bear a yoke. Thus the thin end of the wedge of law is introduced, which, if driven home, would separate from grace, and the first blow struck at the distinctively priestly place of the Jewish remnant of faith added to the church as law administrators, not as law keepers, a first success, followed up with such energy by the great enemy of souls, that we find Paul alone standing in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, Peter,, James, Barnabas, and the rest of the Jews playing a dissembling part, which, if persevered is, was equivalent to Betting aside the grace of God, and saying that Christ had died for nothing (Gal. 2:11- 21). An evidence of how the poison had begun to work is seen in the chapter before us (Acts 15:36), in the dissension which arose between Paul and Barnabas respecting Mark. From this point Peter, Barnabas, and Mark drop altogether out of the history of the church as given in the Acts. Paul and the Gentile disciples almost entirely occupy the theater of action, the spirit of legality and Judaism having, as it were, cut them off from service: for what at the first, by the gracious action of the Spirit of God, the assembly at Jerusalem refuse to listen to (Acts 11:3), but hold their peace, and glorify God (Acts 11:18), they now give ear to (Acts 15:5, 7, 13); the result being that even the apostles are cut off from the truth (Gal. 2:11-21; 1 Sam. 22:18). The third and last occasion on which the evil crops up in the church is when Paul for the last time, recorded in Acts, arrives at Jerusalem, where, having related to James and all the elders the things which God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry, they, unheeding the leadings of the Spirit of God, tell Paul of the many myriads of the Jews who believe that they were all zealous of the law, and desire him to show that he also kept it.
But notwithstanding that Paul obeyed the desire of James and all the elders of the assembly at Jerusalem, yet, listening to the calumnious reports of the circumcision, the remnant of faith from among the Jews allow themselves to be led into the snare so artfully laid for them by the great enemy of souls, and from that time scripture records no instance of the conversion of a Jew, and history declares the fact that the gospel of God's grace has no more determined opposer than the Jew, that prejudice and unbelief have effectually cut him off from that which was ordained for his salvation, and refusing, in pride and hardness of heart, to bow to the lowly Nazarene who came, manifesting grace and truth, the perfect revelation of the mind, and nature, and being of God, and choosing rather the lofty things of flesh and sense, has been hardened and blinded in his unbelief, being left a monument of the terrible and righteous judgment of God, a mark for the finger of scorn, a hissing, and a reproach among all nations; while the younger son, who had been as a stranger, and afar off, starving amidst the unclean, is brought into the Father's house, where there is feasting and music, merriment and dancing.
Acts 16 shows us that the Lord's time has arrived for a further extension of the work of evangelization, and upon hitherto altogether untrodden ground, even among the intellectual and educated people of Greece. Barnabas and Mark would have proved hindrances, doubtless, from Jewish prejudices, to the work, stumble at the outset, and are shut out altogether from the work of God then proceeding. In their place the Spirit of God raises up two instruments fit for the work, prepared to follow fully wherever He should guide, though the path should take them outside the sympathies and cooperation of all, however dear: for this Paul and Silas were alone prepared in the condition of their souls, though quite unaware of the service to which the Holy Spirit was then calling them. How strongly this shows us the necessity of keeping our souls waiting upon the Lord, and instead of blindly running hither and thither, perhaps carried away by the ardor of natural affection to run after our relatives, or through prejudice withholding our hand from the appointed work, as Barnabas and Mark, seeing to it that our souls are in such a state of obedience, faith, and communion, watching the eye and hand of the Master, be that, like Paul and Silas, we may be ready to go forth unhesitatingly whenever He calls, confident that He will guide us according to His will.
The Lord now brings another hand to the work, fitted by natural circumstances for the line it was then taking—Timothy, whose mother was a believing Jewess? but his father a Greek. He goes forth with Paul and Silas, and following the guidance of the Spirit, which was contrary to their intention and natural inclination, they pass from Asia into Greece. Whatever may have been their fear in announcing the glad tidings among the Jews, as shown in the circumcision of Timothy, how great must have been their trembling in venturing upon this unknown track; but faith always goes with a surrendered life, so that nothing comes amiss—surrendered because its trust is in God who raises the dead.
Soon they reach Philippi, and there the Lord shows that they are in His way, and His hand is with them; so Lydia's hungry soul is opened, and filled with the bread of life: the slave, famishing under the power of the devil, is delivered into that for which she cried. The gaoler at death's door, starved in the ignorance of nature, is fed with Salvation by faith in Christ, though it took the shattering of every earthly barrier to do it. But system soon becomes aware of the presence of the heavenly Man in His body, the church, for having come to Thessalonica, Paul reasons in the synagogue three sabbaths, which results in the deliverance of a multitude of starving souls into a place of plenty. Here, for the first time, the adversary, Satan, working by the earthly system, brings a new weapon against the church, even the civil authorities, bringing political prejudices to bear: but God delivers His servants, and the Holy Spirit sends them away to Berea, from whence Paul is sent to Athens, and here for a time the work of God goes on altogether unhindered by the enemy.
Note here, that for the first time in the history of the church the apostles stand their ground. Up to the end of Acts 14 those who witnessed for Christ kept up one continued flight from city to city; this was evidently not because they were afraid to die, but because the Jewish system from which they fled was still outwardly the owned thing of God, and under responsibility to Him, and also because the Spirit of Christ would not bring the Jews, as a nation and system, into such mortal conflict with Himself in His church, as to cut them off entirely from the gospel, by raising an insuperable barrier of prejudice. Passing to Acts 16:1-8, Paul, the acting member of the body, is still seen using every endeavor to avoid a collision with the Jewish system, and is warned by the Spirit of Jesus not to preach the word in Asia or Bithynia, doubtless because of the excited state of the Jews there (Acts 21:27), but at Troas his aid is solicited for the Lord's people shut up among the heathen Greeks of Macedonia; and now the witnesses of Christ go out, not to fly from, but to fight against, the world rulers of this present darkness: so that, though the magistrates rend off their clothes, beat them with many stripes, thrust them into an inner prison, and make their feet fast in the stocks, yet, by their spiritual weapons of faith, and prayer, and praise, the earth quakes, the foundations of the prison shake, all the doors are opened, and the bonds of all loosed; the keeper, who was the real prisoner, is set at liberty, and the apostles march in triumph out of prison, and out of the city, while their opposers, as it were, sue for mercy at their feet.
At Thessalonica the apostles come again into contact with the earthly professing thing, for the unbelieving Jews, stirred up to jealousy, treacherously seek to destroy them by means of the heathen rulers and magistrates: but no sooner does the religious foe appear upon the scene, than Paul and Silas immediately flee to another city (Berea), being sent away by the church. At Berea the same events take place. At length Paul comes to Athens and Corinth, cities of Achaia, where for a season the work of God proceeds without opposition. At Athens it deals prominently with Gentiles, declaring facts from God, and their consequent responsibility as His creatures: but when at Corinth the Lord by Paul seeks to bring the Jews into submission, and the acknowledgment of his claims, they only oppose themselves, and speak injuriously, their right to any further consideration is declared forfeited, though grace lingers over them, and leaves them not, so long as they are left. This step of judicially giving up the Jew, and going forth to the Gentile, was not taken without much anguish on the part of Paul, as we may judge from 1 Cor. 2:3; doubtless it was in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, but he had the sympathies and presence and comfort of his Lord amidst it all, for even as the sufferings of the Christ abounded towards them, so through the Christ did encouragement also abound. The church now stands forth in all its distinct character and separateness from every earthly thing—Jew or Gentile, religious or political.
Paul felt the momentous importance of the occasion, and much would he need to be comforted by the Lord's visit to him in a vision of the night, saying, “I am with thee;.... I have much people in this city;” thus showing that so long as He had a work for Paul to do, none could injure him, or frustrate His own purpose: and so has it been throughout the whole history of the church, and will be, until it be taken out of the way—an earthen vessel, but the power of God; afflicted, but not straitened; no apparent issue, but the way not entirely shut up; persecuted, but not abandoned; cast down, but not destroyed: her confidence through it all being the same as her Lord's, that there are twelve hours in the day, and if walking in the light of His will, none can injure or stumble her. The Lord, in this vision to Paul, reveals Himself in two aspects—as the exalted One, able to succor and deliver in every time of need, and as Jesus, the rejected One, in His people, still despised and persecuted. His people in Him in the glory, and He in His people under reproach. But after the word of God had been taught among them a year and six months, the deadly enmity of the Jews is aroused by the power of God displayed in the church, plainly perceiving that, if suffered to continue, they must surely be supplanted, and brought to naught, consequently, with one consent they rise against Paul, actuated, it would seem, by a fleshly zeal for the law, and perceiving him to be depositary of that which was about to supersede it.
On this occasion all the plans and powers of the adversary are brought to a focus in order to crush the truth; never had the peril been so imminent, and since the death of Stephen, the church, in him to whom the truth regarding it was committed, had never been so nearly gripped by its deadliest foe. Peter had been imprisoned by Herod from motives of policy; Paul had been stoned at Lystra, through the blind fury of the heathen multitude, but on this occasion the Jew and the church of God stand face to face, and demand that justice, occupying the judgment seat between them, shall decide which of the two is teaching the lawful way to worship God. But Gallio will not take cognizance of the case, and thus standing immovable between them, allows the church to escape; and the Greeks, stirred by a sense of the malevolence of the Jews, beat the ruler of the synagogue before the judgment seat. Thus mere human justice, though inert and oblivious, convicts the Jews of murderous malice, and though, as a rule, a convenient tool wielded by Satan at his will, is here used of God to confound all his plans, and display His own power and glory, and fulfill His will.
At Corinth the Lord brings another kind of instrument to the work, not the bold proclaimed of the truth, the public preacher of the glad tidings, as Paul, nor the spiritual gifts and worker of miracles, as Peter or Stephen, but the quiet, homely, ministry of Christ in the household of Aquila and Priscilla brought out by the power of God from Rome, in order that Paul might find a place of rest amid the turmoil of the tumultuous scene around him; and not alone for this, but also that they might carry on the work of God, while Paul, urged by his ardent desire for the honor of Christ and the salvation of his brethren, was wandering in the wilderness of Judah—Caesarea, Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia. His desire in Christ is prophetically expressed in Psa. 63. He thirsted and longed to see the power and glory of God manifested amidst the Jewish nation, who were as a dry and weary land without water, as it was in the church, the sanctuary; and though he should not see this, yet, because he counted the loving kindness of God better than life, his lips, his hand, his soul, his mouth, should praise, and bless, and be satisfied. While Paul is thus engaged, system, in its most dangerous form, is brought into contact with the church—first, in the case of the Jewish synagogue at Ephesus, who receive the word with all readiness of mind, but do not permit it to have its due weight and authority over their hearts and conscience, for they still remained where they were and as they were. Their conduct seemed fair and plausible; but if in this condition they had been permitted to have fellowship with the church, a principle would have been allowed bringing in ruin: therefore Paul, acting in the Spirit, did not remain, but bids them farewell, leaving the word to work; the second occasion is in the case of Apollos, who is an eloquent man, mighty in the scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, speaking and teaching exactly the things concerning Jesus, but knowing only the baptism of John, therefore, as to his own conscience, but an upholder of system after all. Not knowing Christ as Head, but a follower of Saul, Aquila and Priscilla, being in the way of the Lord, take him to them, and unfold the way of God more exactly, thereby defeating the schemes of the enemy, who would have brought Apollos into the ministry of the word in his uninstructed state, thus introducing an element of confusion and schism into the church.
When Paul returns again to Ephesus, he discovers a third source of danger to the church in the disciples, twelve in number, received apparently in fellowship[?], but who had been baptized only into John's baptism. He immediately rectifies the error by causing them to be baptized to the name of the Lord Jesus, and to receive the Holy Ghost. In each of the three cases above noticed, however near to the ground of truth they might have appeared to men, and however plausibly they might have claimed fellowship with the church on their own footing, yet in fact they were on ground altogether apart from the truth, and were the choicest supporters of system, though covered up, and gone to sleep. But so easily and completely were they brought under the power of the word, that men would have thought every Jew might have been converted in the same way—that the church had the whole Jewish system in its power, and doubtless, in a measure, it might, by outwardly conforming itself to Jewish usages, and permitting an intellectual acknowledgment of the truth to be sufficient warranty for fellowship, have occupied the place of the Jewish system, but God's time had not arrived to cut off the earthly man, and the heavenly One had to keep the fugitive's place on earth; therefore the church, by an unlawful act, and one which it could scarcely take without some prickings of conscience, shows what it could have done had it chosen. For instance, before preaching the word in the synagogue at Ephesus, Paul shaves his head, having taken a vow, and the Jews, seeing this sign of obedience to the law, unlawful for Paul as member of the body of Christ, receive the word readily, though apparently with unexercised consciences, the prejudices of system in them being lulled to sleep.
So also in the case of Apollos, having received the baptism of John, his mind was disabused of all prejudice, and receives the revelation of the way of God immediately it is communicated to him. The twelve disciples who had been baptized into John’s baptism are likewise effectually cut off from all part in the Jewish system, and brought into the full privileges and powers of the church of God. And now that the covering of the nakedness of the earthly thing, even the man of faith, is cut off from it, its deformity is plainly seen, and this in direct contrast with the beauty and glory manifested in the church. For while the unbelieving Jews can only speak evil of the way by the mouth of Paul, all, both Jews and Greeks, who inhabited Asia heard the word of the Lord; and when by the hands of Paul great miracles were wrought, diseases healed, and wicked spirits sent out, the Jews, endeavoring to do the same, and they sons of the high priest, are leaped upon by the wicked spirits, mastered, prevailed against, and compelled to flee out of that house naked and wounded; and, lastly, while the books of charms are burned, to the value of fifty thousand pieces of silver, the word of the Lord with might increased and prevailed. [To some statements exception might be justly taken; but I leave them for others to judge. Ed.]

The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 1

Being A Review Of “Church Doctrine, Bible Truth,” By The Revelation M. S. Sadler
There are many things I accept in this book, truths that the evangelical world have, from circumstances, lost, or which have been thrown by them into the background. I shall refer to some of the chief ones here.
First, I believe the person of the Lord has lost the place—at least in revival preaching—it ought to have, and it makes that preaching, though I doubt not often blessed, seriously defective. Salvation by the love of God to sinners—surely a blessed truth—is preached rather than Christ. This I have long felt and remarked. Still, Mr. Sadler is all wrong about it, as I shall show. He leaves out the salvation—rather a serious defect, and certainly unscriptural.
Secondly, I have no doubt that worship, with the Lord's supper as the great and characterizing center of it, and not preaching, is the great object of Christians assembling themselves together. Preaching and teaching is the work of individuals, and goes on pari passu. But it is not the assembly's (and church simply means assembly) part to teach or set forth the gospel, but the apostles', evangelists', or whoever is able. The assembly is taught, and confesses the truth.
Thirdly, going to heaven—an unscriptural expression—has displaced in the evangelical mind the coming of the Lord and resurrection. But, for all that, Mr. Sadler has wholly missed the mark here too. He has read the scriptures enough to see the defects of the evangelical school, but has not the faith of God's elect so as to know the truth either as to the gospel or the church. Moreover, as to church history, his representation of it—I do not mean intentionally—is far away from the truth. He must have read it with a very prejudiced eye.
I must first take notice of his statements as to the Gospels in a few words. Here, as to what is evidently vital, his statements are quite unfounded. Gospel is not applied, as he states, exclusively to the announcement of certain events occurring at a particular time in the history of the world. Gospel means simply glad tidings, whatsoever they are. The verb is applied to the good news Timothy brought of the Thessalonians to Paul. (1 Thess. 3:6.) As to Mark, the incarnation and birth of Christ form no part of what he calls the gospels. Further, the gospel of the kingdom being at hand, which above all is called the gospel in the four Gospels, is not included in Mr. Sadler's list, and could not subsist, as chiefly there spoken of, till all the events which are were past. All that is peculiarly Paul's gospel (though surely recognizing all) is outside all the events contained in Mr. Sadler's list. It did not begin, in fact and in doctrine, till Jesus was glorified.
Paul calls it the gospel of the glory, and this is vital to his mission, and that which connected it with the assembly or church, which he alone speaks of in his teaching as formed on earth, and speaks of as a distinct and separate ministry; and he is specially the apostle of the Gentiles. Nor even does what is said by Mr. Sadler as to the beginning of Romans give any true idea of Paul's statement as a whole there, nor even of that part of it which Mr. Sadler does refer to. I think it of great moment to note, as I have often done, in public and in private, how the apostle puts Christ personally forward here as the great subject of the gospel, but Mr. Sadler's use of this fact is partial and false. As “made of the seed of David according to the flesh,” we have nothing to do with Christ. He was “a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers;” the Gentiles stand on other ground. They “glorify God for his mercy,” having no promises, though prophecies spoke of them. As Son of David Christ was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and could not take the children's bread and cast it to dogs. He declares, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone."
As God manifest in the flesh, He is the object of infinite delight to the believing soul—its food, as the bread come down from heaven; and when we have found peace through the divine commentaries of the apostle on the value of His work, the soul returns to the Gospels to feed on the bread come down from heaven. But even as to this, though souls may be drawn by the adorable grace manifested in His life, yet, till they eat His flesh and drink His blood, they have no life in them to feed on Him as bread come down from heaven. But, to show how little foundation there is for this statement of Mr. Sadler, the meaning he ascribes to 'gospel' is not the meaning of it in Mark. In the same chapter as that to which Mr. Sadler refers, the evangelist says, “Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel [the glad tidings] of the kingdom, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” The preaching is the same, Matt. 4:12, 23. Such was the constant tenor of Christ's preaching.
The twelve, consequently, were sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. So, in Luke 4:18-21, He preached the fulfillment of promise, not His death for our sins, or resurrection; and so, verse 43, He preaches the kingdom of God. In chap. 9:2 He sends them to preach the kingdom of God. As regards His death and resurrection, we read that, from the time immediately preceding the transfiguration, He forbade them strongly to say any more that He was the Christ; and so far from preaching His death, or that being the gospel then set forth, we find that, when He told them of it prophetically, they could not bear to hear of it. Yet His death and resurrection, now they are accomplished, are become the great subject of testimony (1 Cor. 15:8, 4), and that for our sins. Christ according to the flesh (that is, as presented to the Jews as their Messiah, come according to promise) Paul knew no more. (2 Cor. 5:1G.) See Matt. 16:20, 21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:21, 22.
I turn to what is said of it in Romans. We have seen that Paul begins with the double character of Christ, known as Son of David according to the flesh, and Son of God by resurrection. But Mr. Sadler leaves out that Paul was not ashamed of the gospel, or that it was the power of God to salvation, because the righteousness of God was revealed in it (Rom. 1:16, 17); and that he largely sets forth (chap. 3:19-20) how Christ was set forth a propitiation through faith in His blood—how, further (chap. 4:25), He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. I believe the gospel will have power in the measure in which it is stated as facts, and I bless God that it comes in the shape of facts, because the poorest can understand it. But what it is for us is spoken of. God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The Shepherd seeks the sheep, the woman the piece of money, the father has his joy in recovering the prodigal.
It is not merely objective facts concerning Christ, but God's disposition towards us as displayed in them, not merely that Christ was raised but raised for our justification; not merely that God's Son came, but that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have eternal life. It is not exclusively applied to the announcement of certain events; it is God's dealing with us revealed in them, and our conscience and heart directly dealt with by it. God was in Christ. Yet that is not the way the ministry of the gospel is put, but, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” This was Paul's estimate of the gospel history, and then of his own gospel when Christ had died, that, as though God did beseech by us, we beseech in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God. In the passage quoted by Mr. Sadler from 1 Cor. 15, it is not that Christ died, “a certain event occurring,” but Christ died for our sins; the purpose and grace of God to us as sinners is stated.
Mr. Sadler's account, then, of the gospel in the New Testament is a totally false one as to every part of the New Testament, and falsifies the whole bearing of it, and the way God deals with man in it. And this is connected with his whole system. His gospel is a system of facts, contemplated by persons ecclesiastically born of God in baptism. The gospel in scripture is the expression in facts, and the public declaration by the Holy Ghost (sent down when the facts were accomplished, and Christ, having by Himself made the purgation of our sins, had sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens), of what God is in His love to sinners, and of how they might be righteous before Him through faith in the work accomplished by the Savior. The gospel is addressed to sinners in the attractive power of grace. “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Mr. Sadler's gospel, whether during the lifetime of Christ or after His death, is not what scripture makes it. With him it is a history for saints: the scriptures make it glad tidings for sinners. The facts may be the same, and these facts we have to announce; but he announces them to those whom he deceives as to their state (calling them saints when they know they are not) as objects of contemplation, while the scripture gospel presents them to sinners as what they need, and the expression of God's love to them.
“The gospel,” says Mr. Sadler, “does not appear in scripture under the aspect of certain dealings of God with the individual soul apart from its fellow souls. It does appear as certain events, or outward facts,” &c. We have seen how the gospel is stated in scripture. Glad tidings are hardly actual operations in individual souls, but such dealings are as much presented in scripture as pertaining to the gospel, as the blessed facts concerning the Lord. “Except a man be born again” is not exactly glad tidings, but it is with this truth the Lord meets Nicodemus. “In the day,” says Paul, “when God shall judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus, according to my gospel.” The whole Epistle to the Ephesians is occupied with what Mr. Sadler says is not the gospel, but in a large part is dealing with individual souls; and he is wholly mistaken in saying, as he does, that it is only of the church. The church relationship with Christ only comes in at the end of the first chapter; the previous part of the chapter is occupied with individuals and their relationship with the Father, and if it be not gospel, I know not what it is. The whole of the doctrinal part of the Romans—and I suppose there is some gospel there—is occupied exclusively with individual souls, and the church does not come in at all. The church is not found in the Romans, save in the hortatory part (chap. 12), and for the plain reason that responsibility is individual, conscience individual, justification individual, judgment individual; 1 Cor. 1, where Paul says he was sent to preach the gospel, is individual.
To whom did Paul preach the gospel? to sinners standing on individual responsibility, or to the church? The answer to this will at once show, not only the falseness, but the absurdity, of Mr. Sadler's statement. See 2 Cor. 2:12-16, this was preaching the gospel, and nothing could be more peremptorily individual, and dealing with individual souls. We have only to go to scripture times to learn the absurdity of the whole system. The gospel is for responsible sinners, not for the church, however needed for what Mr. Sadler calls the church now, as it surely is, because they are largely unconverted sinners, though far more responsible sinners than the heathen, but of the church anon. Read 2 Cor. 4:14: we have there “the glorious gospel,” or rather the gospel of the glory. Paul fancied he was by manifestation of the truth commending himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. He had not had churchmen to instruct him, it is true. Quite true, he spoke of the death, resurrection, and glory of the Lord Jesus in his gospel. This assuredly is not what I am opposing; but that he spoke of them only as events and outward facts, apart from dealing with the individual soul: that is, what Mr. Sadler says about it is wholly and entirely false; and I repeat, this is connected with and involves the whole system. Scripture tells us God of His own will begat us by the word of truth; churchmen tell us it is baptism. Which am I to believe? This is the question.
I might multiply proofs of what the gospel is as presented in scripture; what I have given must suffice. Mr. Sadler seeks to prove his statements by the Gospels, forgetting that these are records of Christ's life and death, and most precious ones for those who believed already (though surely the Holy Ghost may use them to give faith), not the preaching the gospel at all. They are memoirs, as called in old times, richly setting forth the Lord Jesus in the different characters in which He came among men, according to the wisdom of the Holy Ghost. He is Son of David, Emmanuel, in Matthew; the Prophet Servant in Mark; the Son of man, in grace, amongst men in Luke; and His whole person, with the mission of the Holy Ghost, in John.
What little we have of the preaching of the gospel in Acts is altogether the contrary of what Mr. Sadler states. Peter, who never preaches that He is the Son of God, after explaining what Pentecost was, at once charges their individual sin home upon their conscience: You have crucified and slain, God has raised up, Jesus. What was their condition? And they were pricked to the heart, and he tells them, on their urgent demand, what they were to do, It is not a mere outward event, but their act of sin, and God's having owned Him whom they had slain, so as to act by grace upon their consciences. It was for as many as the Lord their God should call. It was individual, and those that received the word profited by it. It is the same story in Acts 3:18-15, though with a different object.
In Paul's discourse at Antioch (Acts 13), it is the same thing; verses 38-41 dealing with individual souls. The same principle governs them, verses 46-48. We have no preaching to Gentiles, only we learn that its effect was individual faith. God opened the heart of Lydia, they so spake that they believed, and Paul at Athens preached Jesus and the resurrection. When the jailor asked what he should do to be saved, Paul in his answer knows nothing of Mr. Sadler's system, but says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. No thought of Mr. Sadler's system here, though there can be no doubt he was added to the assembly. As he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, salvation is always individual, never what Mr. Sadler makes it to be. The discourse in Acts 17 is Paul's apology, not his preaching. Of course the apostles preached Christ, not His incarnation (perhaps, as Acts 10:37, 38, His service as “anointed"), but man's rejection of Him, and God's testimony to Him in resurrection, and then whosoever believes shall receive remission of sins; that is, they did not only give many, doubtless all-important, facts, but they did always deal individually with souls. That in reasoning they sought to prove with the Jews that Jesus was the Christ is of course true, but it proves nothing. The commission given in Luke is the one that runs all through the Acts; and this was, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name, which is strictly dealing with the individual soul.
One other point remains to be noticed under this head. The church, we are told, after speaking of these “outward events,” makes provision that this gospel of the kingdom should be set before her children; “she provides for the setting forth of the gospel, under this one scripture aspect, by the arrangement of her yearly round of fast and festival.” We have seen how little true this statement as to the one aspect of the gospel is; but here, assuming the facts of the gospel, a second point arises, the means of communicating it. The church gives a yearly round of fasts and festivals, so that mere outward events may be before the mind without any dealing of God with the individual soul. Such is Mr. Sadler's approved method, adding a small complement of saints and saints' days—whether to complete the gospel, or for what other purpose, he does not tell us. He seems to bring it in charily (p. 12). Scripture says, “it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe;” but this foolishness of God dealing with the individual soul does not please the wisdom of the church. It has its own way of doing it. It keeps days, and months, and years. They turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which they desire again to be in bondage.
"I am afraid of you,” says the apostle. It was, he tells us, going back to heathenism. And Mr. Sadler, with his knowledge of ecclesiastical history, must know that, except Easter, which was the Jewish Passover, and Pentecost, and perhaps some more recently added saints' days, the church festivals were deliberately and formally adopted from heathenism. Christians, so-called, would have festivals, and they tacked on Christian names to heathen ones, The great Augustine informs us that “the church” did it, that if they would get drunk (which they did even in the churches), they should do so in honor of saints, not of demons. One of the Gregorys was famous for this, and left only seventeen heathen in his diocese by means of it. And another Gregory, sending another Augustine to England, directed him not to destroy the idol temples, but turn them into churches, and as the heathens were accustomed to have an anniversary festival to their god, to replace it by one to a saint. It was thus Europe, Africa, and Asia Minor at least were Christianized. Sicily, which in spite of all efforts had remained heathen, as soon as it was decided that Mary was the mother of God at what I must call the disgraceful and infamous general council of Ephesus, gave up all her temples to be churches.
It was as easy to worship the mother of God as the mother of the gods. But everywhere drunkenness in honour of the saints, and even in the churches, took the place of drunkenness in honor of demigods, the great Augustine and other fathers being witnesses. Such were festal anniversaries; Christmas having been (and it is still celebrated in heathen countries) the worst of heathen festivals, to celebrate the return of the sun from the winter solstice, without a pretense that Christ was born that day, but, as they could not stop the revelry, they put Christ's birth there. Such, in real fact, is the church's celebration of anniversaries and saints' days. This is certain, that the apostle declares that it was a return to heathenism, so that he was afraid his labor was in vain—avowedly turning the great and mighty parts of Christianity, by which God acted on souls, to bring them into blessed and divinely wrought relationship with Himself, individually and collectively, into certain outward events, or outward facts, and exclusively to their announcement as occurring at particular times. “I am afraid of you."

Notes on John 8:21-29

The next discourse turns on our Lord's announcement of His departure—a truth of the most solemn import, especially for Israel responsible to receive Him as their Messiah.
“He said therefore again to them, I go away, and ye shall seek me and shall die in your sinwhere I go away, ye cannot come. The Jews therefore said, “Will he kill himself because he saith, Where I go away, ye cannot come? And he said to them, Ye are of the things beneath, I am of those above; ye are of this world, I am not of this world. I said therefore to you that ye shall die in your sins; for, unless ye believe that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.” (Ver. 21-24.)
The departure of Jesus after His coming is the overthrow of Judaism and the necessary condition of Christianity. We must not be surprised then, if our Lord again and again recurs to it, to its moral associations and consequences, and above all to its bearing on Himself personally, ever the uppermost thought of our evangelist. He was going, and they should seek Him and die in their sin. They sought amiss and found Him not. They sought a Messiah that they might gratify their ambition and worldly lusts; and such is not the Messiah of God, who is now found of those that sought Him not, after having spread out His hands all the day to a rebellious people that walked in a way anything but good after their own thoughts. But God is not mocked, and he who sows to the flesh reaps corruption: if it be not public judgment, it is none the less the recompense of evil into the guilty bosom. “Ye shall die in your sin.” They were rejecting Christ and cleaving to their own will and way. There was no fellowship between them and Him. “My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me.” The issue would make it still more apparent: “Where I go away, ye cannot come.” They could not follow Him.
The Lord was going to heaven, to His Father. Their treasure was not there, nor therefore their heart, as both were on His part. So too as grace attracts the heart of the believer to Christ, faith follows Him where He is; and He will come and bring us there in due time that, where He is, there we may be also. Unbelief clings to self, to the earth, to present things; and so it was and is with the Jews: “Where I go away, ye cannot come.” They were rejecting the only One who could wean from earth or fit for heaven, meeting them in their sin that they might not die in it but live through Him. But Him they would not have and are lost, and proved it by their utterly false estimate of Him and of themselves, present or future, as we see in what follows. “The Jews therefore said, Will he kill himself because he saith, Where I go away, ye cannot come?"
But he tells them out more. “And he said to them, Ye are of the things beneath, I am of those above; ye are of this world, I am not of this world. I said therefore to you, that ye shall die in your sins.” Here the Lord solemnly unveils the sources of things. To be of this world now is to be not merely of earth but from beneath. Such is the Jew that rejects Jesus who is of the things above. Therefore should they die in their sins: their nature and their works evil, and they refusing the only light of life, how else could they end? “For, unless ye believe that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.” The truth shines out fully from a rejected Christ—not only His personal glory, but their subjection to Satan who employs them to dishonor Him. But His rejection is their everlasting ruin. They die in their sins and have to judge them Him whom they refused to believe in for life eternal.
“They kept saying therefore to him, Who art thou? Jesus said to them, Absolutely that which I also am speaking to you.” (Ver. 25.) Jesus is not merely the way and the life but the truth. He is, in the principle of His being, what He speaks. A less expected answer could not be, nor one more withering to their thoughts of themselves and of Him. He alone of all men could say as much; yet was He the lowliest of men. His ways and words were in perfect accord; and all expressed the mind of God. It is not merely that He does what He says, but He is thoroughly and essentially what also He sets out in word. The truth is the reality of things spoken. We cannot know God but by Him; nor can we know man but by Him. Good and evil are displayed or detected only by Him. Such was the One the Jews were then rejecting. They have then lost the truth. Impossible to have the truth apart from Jesus, who adds “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you; but he that sent me is true, and I, what I heard from him, speak these things unto the world.” He was a servant though Son, and uttered what the Father pleased as needed truth, not according to the affluence of what He had to say and judge respecting the Jews. “They knew not that He was speaking to them of the Father. Then said Jesus [to them], When ye shall have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I am [he] and from myself am doing nothing, but, even as the Father taught me, thus I speak. And he that sent me is with me: he left me not alone, because the things pleasing to him I do always.” (Vers. 26-29.) It is the actual truth presented by God which tests the soul. A former testimony, however true, does not provoke opposition in the same way. Often indeed unbelief avails itself of the past to strengthen its present antagonism to what God is doing. Thus the Jews avail themselves of the unity of God to deny the Son and the Father, and they knew not of whom Jesus was speaking. His cross might not convince them divinely or win their heart to God; but it would convict them of deliberate and willful rejection of the Messiah, and prove that what He spoke He spoke from the highest authority. As He was sent, so was He taught. The Father was with Him too, for Christ was doing always the things that pleased Him. If we know this in our measure, how much more fully and unwaveringly was it true of Him who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth!

Notes on 1 Corinthians 11:17-26

The apostle had settled the point of comely order as respects women. He now turns to a still graver matter, the Lord's mind about His supper. From this the Corinthians had sadly departed there and then, slipping into the grossest evils, as we shall see.
Yet is it important to take note before we go into detail that, according to the modern mode of administering the sacrament, such a disorder was impossible. The reason is beyond measure a grave one. Christendom has radically altered the supper—a more serious state of things than even the distressing and immoral levity which then disgraced the Corinthian assembly. The latter could be judged and rectified; the former demands a return to first principles which have been wholly given up, not merely as to the institution itself but as to the nature of both ministry and church, and their mutual relations.
What gave occasion to the grievous impropriety of the assembly in its then low and careless estate was apparently the mixing up the love feast with the Lord's supper. The love feast (or Agape) was a meal of which the early Christians partook in common, the aim being to cultivate social intercourse among those who are strangers and pilgrims called to suffer on earth and to spend eternity together in glory with the Lord. The Corinthians however had lost the sense of Christian strangership, and as they had lot in the rivalry of the schools from the world in zeal for favorite teachers, so they degraded even the Agape by holding to class distinctions, the rich feasting on their own contributions to the meal, while those who had nothing to give were made keenly to feel their poverty. Thus the principle of Christian society was destroyed at the very meal which ought to have displayed it in practice; and as they thus selfishly forgot wherefore they thus came together, God gave them up to the deeper sin of degrading the Lord's supper, which was partaken of at the same time, by the effects of their license in eating and drinking.
This doubtless was a scandalous irreverence; but the sacrament as now observed is the deliberate and systematic abandonment even of the form of the supper, the change of it into a superstitious ordinance from the thanksgiving of God's family in view of the deepest solemnity in time, nay for eternity, the death of our Lord on which it is based with the remembrance of Himself in infinite love, humiliation, and suffering for our sins. Nothing but the appreciation of its spiritual aim preserved it from becoming a scene of shame; if not kept in the Spirit, it quickly passed into fleshly lightness; and this is the will of God in order that it may necessitate the looking to the Lord who promises His presence to those gathered to His name. It is with the supper as with all other parts of Christian worship and service. They are nothing if not sustained by the Spirit according to the word of God. Change their principle in order to secure appearances, and all is ruined. This is precisely what tradition has done in the Lord's supper as elsewhere. From the sacramental eucharist of post-apostolic times the Corinthian excesses were excluded, but so was the Holy Spirit from guiding the saints according to the word. Clericalism was introduced to preside, formalism and distance imposed on the rest, and the rite made more or less a saving ordinance, instead of the communion of Christ's body and blood enjoyed by His members in His presence.
But let us weigh the apostle's words. “Now in enjoining this I praise [you] not, because ye come together not for the better but for the worse. For first, when ye come together in an assembly, I hear that divisions exist among you, and in some measure I believe [it]; for there must be even sects among you that the approved may become manifest among you.” (Vers. 18,19.) We have here important help toward deciding the difference between these terms as well as the precise nature of each. Schism is a division within the assembly, while they nil still abide in the same association as before, even if severed in thought or feeling through fleshly partiality or aversion. Heresy, in its ordinary scriptural application as here (not its ecclesiastical usage), means a party among the saints, separating from the rest in consequence of a still stronger following of their own will. A schism within if unjudged tends to a sect or party without, when on the one hand the approved become manifest, who reject these narrow and selfish ways, and on the other the party man is self-condemned, as preferring his own particular views to the fellowship of all saints in the truth. (Compare Titus 3:10, 11.)
They met in one place. “When ye come together therefore into the same [place], it is not to eat [the] Lord's supper. For each in eating taketh his own supper before [others], and one is hungry, and another drinketh excessively. Have ye not then houses for eating and drinking? or despise ye the church of God, and put shame on those that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you? In this I do not praise.” (Vers. 20-22.) They had not as yet broken up into sects: this evil was reserved for a later and worse day. If however they did come together into one place, the apostle will not allow that it was to eat the Lord's supper, but each their own: so utterly were they losing the truth of things while the form lingered on. Not only was Christ gone, but even the social element. They were a spectacle of greed; and, what made it more flagrant, those who had means were the worse, despising the church of God, and putting to shame the poor. With all his desire to praise the Corinthians, in this the apostle could not.
This leads to the revelation on the subject vouchsafed by the Lord. “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was being delivered up, took bread, and, having given thanks, brake [it] and said, This is my body which [is] for you: this do in remembrance of me; in like manner also the cup after having supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink the cup, ye announce the death of the Lord till he come.” (Vers. 23-26.)
It is interesting to notice that to Paul was given a revelation of the supper, not of baptism. He was baptized like another himself, not by an apostle even, lest this might be perverted to make him dependent on the twelve, but by a simple disciple, Ananias. Baptism attaches to the individual confessor and would have its place as the sign of the great Christian basis, the death and resurrection of Christ, if there had been no such thing as the baptizing believers by the Spirit into one body, the church. But the supper, besides being the memorial of Christ and emphatically of His death, is now bound up with the body of Christ, as we have seen in chapter 10:16, 17. This is so true that he who willfully or under an act of discipline does not partake of that one loaf ceases to enjoy the privileges of God's assembly on earth; he who partakes of it cannot free himself from the responsibilities of that holy fellowship. And as Paul was the chosen vessel by whom was to be revealed the mystery of Christ and the church, so did it seem good to the Lord that he should receive a special revelation of His supper, the standing sign of its unity, and public witness of its communion.
It is striking to observe that, plainly as the Lord has revealed His mind here, even the Protestant Reformers failed to recover its lineaments. They have individualized the Lord's supper. They make it “for thee.” “Take thou,” &c. This is consistent. They had not seen the one body and one Spirit. Even if they had limited it to those who were believed to be justified by faith, still this would have been only an aggregate of individuals. They never received the truth of the church as Christ's body on earth. On the contrary they began the system of distinct or independent national churches on earth; they delegated the unity of the church to heaven. The one body, as an existing relationship to which the Christian belongs now, and on which he is bound to act continually, was unknown as a present reality; and this ignorance betrayed itself even in their mode of celebrating the Sacrament, as it does to this day.
Even where there is no such form of individuality, there is as little sense or expression of the one body. The reason is obvious. They do not contemplate all the faithful, being avowedly associations of certain souls, on the ground of points of difference (that is, sects), or embracing the world as well as believers. In either way dissenting or nationalist, being off the basis of God's church, they naturally drop the words, as they are revealed for God's order of things, and change them, perhaps unconsciously, into what suits their own condition. Communion there cannot be but in the Spirit, who exalts Christ, not opinions, and goes out toward all saints, not some only, nor the world at all in such worship.
It is the holy, gracious, and deep meaning of the Lord's supper, and in no way the elements or the ministrant, which invests it with such value and blessing. He is in the midst of His own to give them the enjoyment of His love in present power, but as recalling their hearts to the sacrifice of Himself for their sins to place them without charge or question before God. The bread remains bread, and so does the wine; the thanksgiving, or blessing, we find as at all times of ordinary life in receiving the creatures of God; of miracle at this time the word of God whispers not a word. The Lord breaks the bread and says, This is My body which is on your behalf: this do in remembrance of Me; in like manner the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do as often as ye drink it in remembrance of Me.
The Lord's supper then is to remind us of Christ, of His death; not of our sins but of our sins remitted and ourselves loved. It is in no wise the old covenant of condemnation, but the new covenant, God known in grace, iniquity forgiven, and sins remembered no more; not yet made with the houses of Israel set forever in the land under the reign of Messiah, but the blood is shed which is its foundation, and we who believe, Jew or Gentile, have it in spirit, not in letter. (See 2 Cor. 3) Of this the cup especially is the pledge.
But Romanism takes away the cup from its votaries, and consistently enough; for as a system it supposes sacrifice going on, not finished, and consequently it administers a sacrament of non-redemption. The bread, say they, contains the blood, flesh, soul, divinity, all in the body; that is, the blood is not shed, and therefore no remission of sins, no perfecting of the sanctified, for the one offering is always going on and not yet accomplished or accepted. Romanism therefore stands in contrast with Christianity in the capital truth of the efficacy of Christ's death, indispensable both to God's glory and to the cleansing of the conscience of the Christian.
But Protestantism has infringed on Christ's institution, not only by impairing the grace of God in the Lord's supper, but by letting in the world as we have seen and by insisting for the most part on an authorized official to administer it. All these ruin its simple, profound, and most affecting significance. Not that one denies for a moment ministry or rule; they are of exceeding moment and will be treated of in their place according to scripture. Yet in the Lord's supper, not only as He instituted it at first but as it was revealed by Him to the apostle in its final shape, none of these things appear. It is essentially as members of the one body that we communicate. Even the gifts are introduced separately and afterward. Elders, if any, are ignored; and this is the more remarkable, as the occasion might have seemed exactly one to have reminded them of the disorder allowed at Corinth, if it had really been their duty to preside at the supper. But, instead of reprehending any one's neglect as specially responsible, the apostle deals with the hearts and consciences of all the saints and brings out its true meaning, object, and guard for the instruction of the entire church of God. To discern the body, to appreciate the unfathomable grace of our Lord in His death for our sins, is the true corrective for all who have faith in Him who deigns to be in their midst as thus gathered to His name. To introduce a human order however reverent in appearance, without divine warrant, for the purpose of shutting out the Corinthian excesses or any others, is more offensive to him that trembles at the word of the Lord than any abuse of His supper as it was instituted. Even under such circumstances as those of Corinth the apostle adds nothing, takes away nothing, corrects nothing of that institution; in which we are called to announce the death of the Lord until He shall have come.
These last words convict of a great, perilous, and irreverent error those who count the Lord's supper a relic of Judaism and argue for its disuse among Christians like the community of goods practiced only for a brief space after Pentecost. A fresh revelation to the apostle of the Gentiles ought to have put such a notion to the rout, even apart from words such as those of verse 26 which suppose the constant and frequent observance of the supper till Christ returns in glory. And in fact the history of such theorists as the Society of Friends is the strongest proof of their error; for no Christian sect has more thoroughly lost the force of the truth of redemption, in discarding its signs. As is well known, they refuse as a whole (I speak not of evangelical individuals) both baptism and the Lord's supper. In accordance with this they do not see death sealed on the race, nor the efficacy of Christ's death in grace for the believer. They think of Christ as putting all mankind into a state of indefinite improvableness and so of saving those who do their best, Jew, Turk, or heathen; they repudiate therefore both institutions which set forth objectively that one can have no part with Christ risen but through His death. Subject to the word, we were buried with Him by baptism to death; and now continually announce His death till He come. Self is thus judged, yet are we kept in the constant sense of His grace. Is it not the truth as to ourselves, and due to Him? Is it not in perfect harmony with the gospel, which combines peace and salvation in Him with the confession of good-for-nothingness in those who are thus blessed to the praise of God's mercy in Christ?

Receiving the Holy Ghost

Till the advent of the Lord Jesus in humiliation none had ever received the Holy Ghost, though in all ages the Spirit had worked, and at times had made use of men as instruments for the display of His power. Γη apostolic days believers did receive the Holy Ghost. Do they still? Such a question, one would have thought, could have been answered but in one way by any believer who studied the word. The contrary, however, it would appear, is the case, judging by the following extracts from a pamphlet, entitled, “Are ‘the Brethren’ right?” recently written by Mr. R. Govett, who introduces the subject, he tells us, not “as an enemy, but as a brother in Christ” (p. 2), and who desires the profit of his brethren, “whom, as I suppose,” are his concluding words, “I have led to consider the scriptures bearing on these solemn questions, so important to our present welfare. The Lord and my brethren in Christ accept what is according to scripture.” (Page 65.)
Accepting the scriptures as the only standard to which we can appeal, and by which all that may be written on such a subject must be measured and weighed, what position does the author of that pamphlet take up on this subject, that constrained him to ask the question which he has put on the forefront of his brochure? “In short,” he writes, “since we have neither apostles, nor the falling of the Holy Ghost upon any, we have not the gift, or the gifts, of the Holy Ghost.” (Page 16.) “Was the laying on of an apostle's hands the ordinary way of procuring the Spirit of sonship? O, then! apostles are as much needed now as then. [The italics in these quotations are the author's.] They were not merely workers of signs, they were agents of sanctification, and. edification. Do we not need edification and sanctification still? Do we not need power to witness for Christ still? Then we need either the Holy Ghost's falling on us still, or apostles to bestow that power.” (page 17.)
“As then, we have no falling of the Holy Ghost on any, and no apostles, we have not the baptism of the Holy Ghost; which is the great promise of our dispensation.” (Page 21.)
“In like manner it may be proved that we have not received the Spirit. This appears on the face of the record concerning Samaria. Those in our day who have advanced the farthest have believed, and been baptized. But as yet the Spirit has not fallen on us; and no apostles have arisen to pray for us, and to bestow the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands. (Acts 8) In the sense which 'Brethren' put on the words 'receiving the Spirit,' He is received. But not in the scripture sense; Nor have we ‘the sealing of the Spirit.'“ (Page 22.) “Believers now have no sealing.” (Page 23.)
These and kindred statements are not wanting in clearness; but surely the reader, as he perused them, must have opened his eyes in astonishment. The possession now of the Spirit of sonship is denied. Let the child of God, who cries Abba Father, witness if the author's teaching on this point is to be accepted. Are all Christians in the condition to which Mr. Govett would by his words reduce them? The great promise too, as the author calls it, of the dispensation we have not. Has God then failed to perform His word? Baptism of the Spirit, the author tells us, was only by the falling of the Holy Ghost on any, or by imposition of apostolic hands. How then could Paul write? “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” (1 Cor. 12:13.) Paul owed nothing to other apostles (2 Cor. 12:11; Gal. 2:6), yet he shared in the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Hands were laid on him, but they were those of Ananias at Damascus, and subsequently those of the prophets and teachers at Antioch. On his head we may feel pretty certain that no apostolic hands were laid to impart to him the Holy Ghost. Of an illapse of the Spirit on Paul the word is silent. The last illapse of the Spirit, by which believers were baptized with the Holy Ghost, took place, our author tells us, at Caesarea, in the house of Cornelius. (Page 51.) Paul clearly was not there present. Yet he shared in the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Again, the sealing by the Spirit now is denied. The gift of the Holy Ghost we have not, nor any of His gifts. Of edification we are deprived, and the Spirit in the present state of matters we cannot obtain. And yet the author admits the need of edification. Christian reader, can you endorse the character thus drawn of your God? Not such was the character that the Son gave of the Father. (Matt. 7:11.) Have saints since apostolic days been deprived of that which they really needed? And must we continue thus lacking, till fresh apostles are raised up? For these the author looks, basing his expectation on Luke 11:49, 50; Matt. 23:34-36; 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46: passages surely, a reference to which is enough to demonstrate the instability of his ground. Luke 11:49, 50; Matt. 23:34-36; refer to the Jews, not to the church. Matt. 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46 treat of the Lord's servants, and not of any company of apostles as such. Peter's question and the Lord's answer make this pretty plain. “Lord speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?” was the son of Simon's interrogation. “Who then is that faithful and wise steward,” &c, was the Lord's immediate rejoinder.
On this point, however, we have not to pit the opinion of one man in the nineteenth century of our era against that of another. The valedictory address of Paul to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20), the exhortation given by Jude (ver. 20), and last, but not least, the strain of Peter's Second Epistle, the very apostle who put that question, and received that answer, all make it evident, that they knew nothing of a second twelve to arise. And Peter surely, by what he wrote (2 Peter 1:15), had not received the Lord's answer to him in the seven churches, delivered when most, if not all the same light as Mr. Govett regards it. (Page 52.) Apostolic teaching, then, lends no countenance to the supposition of the rise of new apostles, by whom the gift of the Spirit, or His gifts, would be conferred on believers.
Nor is there so much as a hint in the Lord's addresses to apostles, but John, had departed to be with Christ, that the saints would lack anything as from God, which was needful for faithfulness and service upon earth. Hear the Lord addressing the godly company in Thyatira: “That which ye have, hold fast till I come.” In what terms does He address the angel in Sardis? “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard; and hold fast and repent.” But, says Mr. Govett, if we have not apostles we have not the baptism of the Spirit. (Page 52.) Did apostles, it may be asked, ever baptize with the Holy Ghost? One alone do we read was to do that—the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 1:33.) Apostles in common with all believers shared in that baptism (Acts 1:5; 11:16 Cor. 12:13); but we never read that they are needful now to bestow it.
Dismissing, then, as unsupported by scripture, any expectation of the rise of fresh apostles whilst the church is on earth, let us endeavor to find from the written word the answer to a question put by our author (p. 13): “What is the meaning of receiving the Holy Ghost?'"
Of this John in his Gospel (chap, vii, 39) has made mention, where we first meet with that term. Now, to receive the Holy Ghost is to be indwelt by Him (Rom. 8:9), and hence such are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit, and their bodies become His temples. (1 Cor. 6:19.) Was it then simply divine power coming on individuals that is meant by the term, receiving the Holy Ghost? Old Testament saints had known that, but of none of them do we read that they received the Holy Ghost. Was it an endowment of spiritual gifts, as tongues, miracles, &c.? These might he, and were at times shared in by some who had received the Spirit. But in truth it was far more. It was the Holy Ghost that was received. And nothing less than this is the common privilege of believers since the day of Pentecost. To the multitude, who were pricked to the heart that day, Peter announced that, on certain and specified conditions, they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38.) For this same gift Peter and John prayed on behalf of believers in Samaria. (Acts 8:15, 20.) The company in the house of Cornelius received it. (Chap. 10:47) The twelve disciples at Ephesus were asked if they had been recipients of it. (Chap. 19:2) And this gift was shared in by all who obeyed God, as Peter asserted before the rulers assembled in council at Jerusalem. (Chap. 5:32) The Galatians too had received the Holy Ghost. (Gal. 3:2) To the Romans God had given the same gift (Rom. 5:5); and the Spirit had been given to the saints at Corinth (1 Cor. 2:12), and at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 4:8), as well as to those to whom James (chap. iv. 5), John (1 John 3:24), and Jude (ver. 19) severally wrote.
In short, apostolic testimony on this point is uniform, clear, and decided, that believers received nothing less than the Holy Ghost, which was the gift of God. (Acts 8:20; 11:17.) Hence they received all that the Spirit could be to them, and might, if He pleased, share in all that with which He could endow them. Receiving the Holy Ghost they had the earnest of the inheritance, for the Spirit is the earnest. (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14.) They were sealed too, for He is the seal. (Eph. 1:13; 4:30.) They were anointed also, for He is the unction. (2 Cor. 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27.) Again, receiving the Holy Ghost, the love of God was shed abroad in their hearts (Rom. 5:5), and they could know the things that were freely given to them of God. (1 Cor. 2:12.) The Spirit of sonship too was theirs, for He is the Spirit of God's Son; hence they could cry 'Abba, Father.' (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6.) Moral likeness to Christ they could seek after, for they had the Spirit of Christ. (Rom. 8:9, 10.) Members of Christ they each and all were (1 Cor. 6:15-17; 12:12, 27); and their mortal bodies would be quickened, they were taught, for they were indwelt by His Spirit, who had raised up Jesus from the dead. (Rom. 8:11.) All this was theirs through receiving the Holy Ghost.
Here it may be well to point out the distinction between the gift of the Holy Ghost, the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12), and the gifts bestowed on men by the ascended Christ. (Eph. 4:8.)
The first of these called δωρεά, intimating that it is freely bestowed, is the gift of God. The second, termed χαρίσματα “favors” the Holy Ghost divides to every man severally as He will. The third, spoken of as δόματα gifts, are from Christ in glory. The two former were given only to Christians, the third is bestowed on men. The first, δωρεά, is given by God, and is common to all believers. The second, χαρίσματα, are various, and were divided to different individuals. Thus, as believers, some might have one of these gifts, some another. Some more than one. But probably it was a rare thing to meet with one Christian endowed with them all. Perhaps, we may rightly question the existence at any time of such an individual. At Corinth some had the gift of tongues, others that of interpreting tongues. A man might have both (1 Cor. 14:13), but it is clear, that at Corinth all who were endowed with the former, did not possess the latter. (1 Cor. 14:28.) All however had the gift of the Holy Ghost, δωρεά (1 Cor. 6:19), but His gifts, χαρίσματα, were divided amongst them. So, whilst of some it was true that they had a gift of tongues, others that of prophecy, others the power of working miracles, we never read that one had the earnest, and another the unction. A believer could not have the earnest without the unction also, for the Holy Ghost is both; so having the Spirit he had both. All such then were sealed, all such had the earnest, all such had the unction, all such had the Spirit of sonship, whereby to cry 'Abba, Father.'
The third, the gifts of Christ are quite distinct from the gift of God, which is the Holy Ghost, and the gifts of the Spirit, for they are individuals, apostles, prophets, &c, given by the Lord to men for the furtherance of His work here below. So an apostle, or an evangelist was a gift of Christ to men. That same servant might have the gift of tongues, or some one or more manifestations of the Spirit, to enable him to labor effectively amongst men. But, though himself a gift of Christ to men, and partaking of the gifts of the Spirit, he had also received the gift of the Holy Ghost. In one laborer then as Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or others, we could have traced out these three, the gift of God, the gifts of the Spirit, and the gift of Christ, and distinguished them.
Leaving aside however the gifts of Christ as foreign to our subject, we would direct special attention to the difference between the gift of God, which is the Holy Ghost, and the gifts of the Spirit, for where this is not seen, confusion is apt to be engendered. But scripture makes things clear; and, from the language uniformly used, it is evident, that receiving the Spirit must be something different from having divided to us of His gifts. Into this confusion however Mr. Govett has fallen, as he tells us, “The gift δωρεά is a general term, including all varieties of the gifts.” (Page 16.) Again he writes, “What was received (that is, in the house of Cornelius)? The gift of tongues? Do we receive them? Did any one ever know an assembly called to hear the Gospel, which broke forth in foreign languages?” (Page 8.) “Apostles then ask for this gift of God and bestow it, that is, the gifts of tongues, prophecy, &c.” (Page 18.)
Now scripture says, that what was received in Samaria, and in the house of Cornelius, was the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:17; 10:47; 11:17.) How the reception of the Spirit at Samaria was manifested, the sacred historian does not inform us. On such a point we then may well be silent. What, however, took place in the house of Cornelius Luke has recorded, and the manner of its manifestation he has carefully noted. While Peter was speaking to them (having just mentioned the universal testimony of the prophets, regarding forgiveness of sins through the name of Jesus Christ for all who believed on Him), the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word, and they spake with tongues and magnified God. By the illapse of the Spirit they were empowered to speak with tongues. But of what was that gift, χάρισμα, a witness? Let the historian tell us: “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost; for they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” (Acts 10:45, 46.) What then had taken place? An illapse of the Spirit? Granted. But there Was more. On these believers the Spirit had been poured. They had also just received the Holy Ghost, of which the manifestation through His falling on them, so that they spake with tongues, and magnified God, was on the present occasion the outward demonstration. Concerning them four things are affirmed. The Holy Ghost was poured on them, they were baptized with the Spirit, they received the Holy Ghost, and He fell on them.
At Pentecost cloven tongues of fire had appeared, which sat upon each one in the house, besides which they spake with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. At Ephesus the Spirit came upon the twelve disciples, on whom Paul had laid his hands, and they spake with tongues and prophesied. The manifestations, therefore, of the Spirit were not exactly the same on each occasion; one manifestation was common to all these three, and the reason of it the word makes apparent. They all spake with tongues, which was a sign that would commend itself even to unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:22); for there were, as the apostle tells us, what may be called sign-gifts and edification-gifts. Of these, speaking with tongues is an example of the first, and prophecy an illustration of the last. There was a propriety, then, on these occasions in marking the Spirit's power in a way every one could understand, so those who received the Holy Ghost also spake with tongues. But at Pentecost, besides that, cloven tongues as of fire appeared, and sat upon each of them. Of the like of this we never read again. At Caesarea they magnified God; at Ephesus they prophesied.
Here, then, naturally arises the question, on the right answer to which a great deal depends, is the term, receiving the Holy Ghost, identical in meaning with the Spirit falling, or coming upon, saints? Can we have the first without participating in the second? Is the latter a needful prelude to the former? We must answer the former of these questions in the affirmative, and the latter in the negative. Receiving the Spirit, and the falling of the Spirit on any one are very different. The Spirit is given by God. He is never said to give Himself. The Spirit is given to believers—that is an act on God's part. The Spirit might fall on the same believers—that would he an act on His own part. In apostolic days both actions could, and did, at times take place, yet they are not to be confounded. We say at times, because Paul's question to the disciples at Ephesus would surely have been superfluous if the Spirit had fallen on them, or had come on them. Why ask them whether they had received the Holy Ghost, if they could not have the former without the latter? For, wherever the Spirit fell on souls, or came on them, those around them, in some way or other, were made sensible of it. (Acts 2; 8:16-18; 10:46.) But if, as indeed is the case, receiving the Spirit is one thing, and His falling on people quite another, we can well understand the question put, and its propriety likewise. For the fact that the apostle put it suggests this very forcibly, that souls in apostolic days could receive the Holy Ghost without sharing in any illapse of the Spirit. The former is the common privilege of all true believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, and is treated of, where no falling of the Spirit on individuals is so much as hinted at. Witness the Romans, the Thessalonians, and those to whom John wrote. All these had received the Spirit, yet we have no authority for supposing that on any of them had He fallen.
But was there not more in that question than some may perhaps have surmised? On those to whom it was addressed the Spirit did subsequently come; in order, however, for Him to come on them they had first to receive the Holy Ghost. This seems pretty evident from the evangelist's statement about those in Samaria to whom Peter and John went down, and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost “for as yet,” Luke adds, “he was fallen upon none of them.” Had He already fallen on them, it would have been evident that they had received the Spirit. But He had not. How, then, were they to share in all the fullness of blessing, and manifestation of it, in common with their brethren in Judea? They must receive the Holy Ghost before becoming instruments for the display of His power. The apostles therefore prayed, not that He should fall on them, but that they might receive the Holy Ghost. To uninstructed minds it might have seemed, that what was wanted, was an illapse of the Spirit. Peter and John, taught of the Spirit, prayed for something else, namely, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Thus the narrative of events in Samaria throws light on the fitness of the apostle Paul's question at Ephesus. That question suggests that there may be the receiving of the Spirit without His coming on the individuals; and Peter and John's procedure at Samaria intimates, that no illapse could be looked for, till believers had been made partakers of the gift. Believers might receive the Holy Ghost without sharing in any illapse of the Spirit. To share, however, in the latter it was necessary for them to be recipients of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
How, then, can we receive the Holy Ghost? Our author tells us that it cannot take place unless the Spirit falls on us, or apostolic hands are laid on us. We trust it is made sufficiently clear that it was not by an illapse of the Spirit that souls received the gift of God in apostolic times. By the imposition of apostolic hands we cannot receive the gift—on this point we are agreed. Can we not, then, receive the Spirit? Must we be, and continue to be, deprived of this gift unless new apostles are vouchsafed us? To this Mr. Govett answers, Yes. We answer, No. There was a way by which the Spirit was received in the earliest days of Christianity; that way is available still. At Jerusalem Peter indicated it. At Caesarea it was exemplified. Isaiah Galatia it was found to be sufficient. The obedience of faith, submission to God's word and truth about His Son, is the available way to which we refer. To the multitude, pricked to the heart, Peter declared that if they repented, and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38.) No hint is there here of the need of laying on of hands, nor of any illapse of the Spirit being requisite. Their part was to believe God's announcement, and submit to it, and they would receive the Holy Ghost. The company at Caesarea heard the word, and believed it (Acts 10:44; 15:7), and received the Holy Ghost. By the hearing of faith the Galatians had received it. (Chap. 3:2) To those, in short, who obey God this gift is given. (Acts 5:32.) By the laying on of an apostle's hands the Spirit, it is true, was on two occasions given, but were not these exceptional cases, and for special reasons, as has been pointed out by another? The Samaritans had to see they were not independent of Jerusalem, as they and their fathers had so long pretended, so from two who came from Jerusalem they received the Holy Ghost. Paul's apostleship was evidenced at Ephesus to be in nothing inferior to that of any of the twelve, for by him believers could receive the Holy Ghost. But neither Paul nor Peter, both of whom were used in that remarkable way, ever bade disciples to look to such a channel in order to receive it. As far as light is cast on the subject from the written word, and there only can we learn about it, the conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost by the imposition of apostolic hands was an exceptional manner of bestowing it. The conferring of a gift (χάρισμα) seems to have been part of the ordinary apostolic service. (Rom. 1:11; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6); the communication of the gift (δωρεά) of the Holy Ghost was an unusual act.
But Mr. Govett joins issue on this point, and adduces, as he thinks, scripture warranty for the supposition, that the normal way of receiving the Holy Ghost was by the imposition of an apostle's hands. For scripture warranty he turns us to Heb. 6:1, 2. For scripture examples he points to 1 Tim. 4:14 Tim. 1:6; Rom. 1:11. Now the reference, to Heb. 6:1, 2, assuming that his translation, “baptisms of instruction” could stand, is quite beside the point. The apostle is here writing of truths common to Jews and to Christians, called by him “the word of the beginning of Christ,” that is, doctrines known and accepted when the Lord was upon earth. On these he would not then dwell, his object being to get those believers on to full and distinctive Christian ground. So he tells them he would then leave aside such truths as they held in common with Jews. But was the gift of the Holy Ghost a truth known and shared in by Jews? It never was enjoyed till after the Lord had risen. So that scripture, it is clear, cannot apply to the matter in hand. A reference to it, to substantiate Mr. Govett's position, is clearly inadmissible. Besides this, the word βαπτισμός, baptism, found in this passage is never elsewhere used for baptism, either of water or of the Holy Ghost. When that which we understand by baptism is treated of, we meet uniformly with the word, βάπτισμα. βαπτισμός, wherever else it occurs, is applied to the washing of cups, &c. (Mark 7:4, 8); and to ceremonial cleansings (Heb. 9:10), carnal ordinances with which all Jews were familiar. Hence, on exegetical and etymological grounds, we must demur to our author's use of that passage in Heb. 6. Similarly, for reasons already stated, we cannot accept as pertinent the illustrations to which he would turn us.
Many other points in his pamphlet might be remarked on; but we must forbear, and will conclude with noticing just two, which Mr. Govett presses strongly on the attention of his readers. The first is the use of a hymnbook; the second is the scriptural meaning of prophesying.
As regards the hymnbook, he asks, “Is the Spirit grieved at being thus confined to these five hundred hymns, and these two hundred tunes? Is it scriptural to come prepared with hymnbooks and tunebooks? or is it not?” (p. 38.) Again, “Why, then, must God's free Spirit be tied to the letter? Were not the hymns of Zacharias, of Mary, and of Elizabeth, inspired and extemporaneous? How is it the church has none? How is it she is confined to the same printed selection?” (p. 40.) Again, “We want to know, if singing by book is right, why praying by book, and preaching by book, are not right also?” (p. 88.)
In these remarks there is a fallacy, and there is a confounding of things that surely differ. It is assumed that the assembly is restricted to the hymnbook. And hymn singing is here treated of as if it were similar to prayer or preaching, from both of which it is very different. To sing together, we must acquaint one another with that in which all are to join. We listen to one who preaches; we follow one who leads in prayer, so as to say Amen to that which he rightly utters. But we sing together. The exercises, then, are distinct, and that of singing most markedly different from the other two. Need we also point out the incongruity of calling attention to the song of Zacharias, and the utterances of Elizabeth and Mary, when writing on such a subject as congregational singing? Zacharias, we read, filled with the Holy Ghost, prophesied; his was an inspired communication. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, gave vent to her thoughts by addressing Mary the virgin. Mary, in the fullness of her heart, poured forth her praise alone. It is difficult to understand anyone seriously referring to these three when writing on such a subject. Zacharias was uttering inspired predictions. Is that congregational singing? Elizabeth addressed Mary, whose visit formed the theme of her communication. Is that the character of congregational psalmody? Mary, in the presence of Elizabeth, poured forth alone the Magnificent. Is that, we ask, an instance or illustration of congregational singing? But further. As all sing together, it is necessary to communicate to all the words about to be sung. Hence we must know before we utter it what it is we are to sing. Does this, then, necessitate an assembly being restricted to a certain selection of hymns? By no means. If any one was led to give outwards to be sung not in the collection—and such a thing has been done—there is nothing to hinder it, provided the scripture rule is observed, “Let all things be done unto edifying.” (1 Cor. 14:26.) This rule, and the other,” Let all things be done decently and in order,” are to be observed when the church comes together.
That they did sing psalms in the assembly is clear. There was room for singing, and that exercise is regarded as suited to the assembly. The apostle does not forbid it, nor does he say it was wrong to have a psalm; he only lays down principles to direct those who would teach or lead the rest. It is clear, moreover, from his notice of the practice, that the psalms commonly sung were not inspired communications, for he writes of each one having a psalm, &c, the pressing of which on the attention of the assembly, without reference to the edification of all, induced a state of confusion, against which for the future they were to watch, as well as to correct the bad habit into which they had fallen. But was God the author of confusion? Paul distinctly asserts He was not. And surely Mr. Govett would cordially agree in this. Then He could not have inspired each one to have a psalm, and sing it, for that was productive of great confusion. Nay, more, as there is but one Holy Ghost, we know that He does not, and would not, so act on different people at once as to produce discord instead of harmony, confusion instead of order, strife and contention instead of peace. The edification of saints is that which He aims at and provides for. Psalms might then be sung, and prophesying be in exercise, subject to the rules already referred to, and the only allowed interruption was on the occasion of a revelation then and there vouchsafed. That was to take precedence of all regular prophesying. If therefore the psalms were inspired, it was right, according to this direction, to bring them out as they did; Paul, however, blamed them for their practice, because, he knew, and they knew, they were not singing by inspiration.
But this leads naturally to the consideration of the question, what is the prophesying of which the apostle here treats? Mr. Govett affirms “that it always supposes God's inspiration, whether spoken of Old or New Testament prophets.” (Page 53.) Here again we are compelled to differ from him. Prophesying might be the utterance of an inspired communication—of course it often was. But nothing can be more certain from the tenor of the word than this, that a prophet was not of necessity inspired of God. For, first, the apostle distinguishes in this chapter (1 Cor. 14) between prophecy and revelation. The prophet was to give way, and be silent, if a revelation was vouchsafed to another man in the assembly. Secondly, we are not left to elaborate for ourselves a definition of inspiration. God, by that same apostle, and in the same epistle, has furnished us with an explanation of what it is. It is the setting forth God's mind in words which the Holy Ghost teacheth. (1 Cor. 2:13.) Now, keeping this in view, let us see in what terms prophets are addressed in the New Testament. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.” (Rom. 12:6.) How could such an exhortation be addressed to one who was speaking in words which the Holy Ghost taught? How could he do otherwise, as the mouthpiece of the Spirit, than prophesy according to the proportion of faith? Again, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” (1 Cor. 14:29.) Does the Holy Ghost authorize men to sit in judgment on God's word? A rationalist might claim for man the possession of a verifying faculty, whereby he could distinguish, as he would say, between what was of God and what was of man in the written or spoken word. But are we to believe God sanctions that? We must, if our author's statement be correct. Such injunctions, however, show pretty plainly that God did not regard all prophets as inspired. Nor must we. Mr. Govett complains that Mr. Kelly gives no proof that Rom. 12 does not apply to inspired prophets. We should have thought none was needed. Surprise we should have felt had Mr. Kelly taught otherwise.
Here we must stop, citing only one more extract from the pamphlet. “You have no other gifts than Christians in general. But Christians in general confess they have not the anointing and sealing of the Spirit. So then neither have you.” (Page 64.)
We must confess to a feeling of amazement as we read these words. Truth there is in them certainly, for we have no gifts which are not common to Christians. But is the experience of Christians in general to be taken as the standard by which to estimate what is truth? Surely our author did not think what it was he was writing. Who, too, deputed him thus to answer for his brethren in Christ? We must leave it with them to repudiate or not his statements on their behalf. For ourselves, believing Peter's words, who spake when filled with the Holy Ghost, “The promise is unto you, and unto your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39), we would ask, has God failed in His promise? If this pamphlet teaches correctly, He has. But what if its doctrine is wrong? The subject is confessedly of great importance. Let Christians look to it, and learn about it from the word for themselves. C. E. S.

The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 2

In result the gospel is founded on a series of mighty and divine facts, by which, through the foolishness of preaching, God, in the power of the Holy Ghost, does act on individual souls for salvation, and gather them into one. The church system makes of them a set of outward events, historically remembered by anniversaries, Mr. Sadler rejecting the dealing of God in souls by them. According to him these are born, not by the word as scripture declares, but by a sacrament without any personal faith or operation of the word on their hearts whatever. Of this system I will now speak. The author's statements are as follows:—
“It may be called the great ‘church' truth of God's word; and may be stated somewhat as follows:—
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“This body has always been an outward and visible body known by certain outward and visible marks. Men have always been admitted into this church by a rite or ordinance which betokened God's special goodwill towards each one of them. This church, or body, has always been governed and instructed by a visible ministry. This church, or body, or family, always has been, and, till the second advent, always will be, a mixed body; that is, it has always consisted of two sets of persons, good and bad, penitent and impenitent, those who realize God's love, and those who do not."
Every one of these statements is unfounded. That in Israel and the church there was an assembly, or gathering of individuals, is quite true. Of these we will speak in due time. But it was never God's plan to save people by joining them together in a body or family, kingdom or church; specially it was not so from Abraham's time, and men were called of God before. It is false to say they were always admitted by a rite—false to call them all a church—false to say this church or body has always been governed and instructed by a visible ministry—false to say it has always been a mixed body. The statements following are all equally false, some openly absurd.
People are saved, and always were, individually, by grace, through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and life received from Him, begotten by the word of truth, justified by faith. I admit an outward visible body in Israel and in the church, though in different forms, and on different principles. That God has set His manifested blessings in a known place, as Israel or the church, since He raised them up, is true; but in neither is personal salvation by coming into it as a system set up on the earth, though figuratively and formally administered there in Christian times, and, if connected with the personal confession of Christ, then formally received and enjoyed. The church, or assembly of God, has more than one application or aspect, is never the kingdom, has, in its truest sense, privileges other than salvation, and in this sense is distinct from the outward and visible body as it exists at present, though it may be found in it if viewed in a certain aspect. But we must examine the statements.
Abraham is the beginning of the religious institutions of God in the new world, and is the root of the olive tree of promise. When the world had turned to idolatry (Josh. 24), God called Abram out, and established the promises in his seed. He was the first head of God's family, as Adam of the sinful one. There was no root of a family of God, as Adam was the root of an evil family, till Abram, though there had been saints. This, then, I recognize. But this did not begin salvation. About one third of the world's history had passed away ere Abram was called of God. Abels and Enochs, and surely many others, had been saved before Abram's time. They were saved, according to Mr. Sadler's own statement, for he begins with Abram, without family, or church, or nation. Was the salvation different in its nature and its ground then? Were they saved in a different way? If not, the whole Statement is without foundation. That, as a rule, manifested saved ones are found, where God has publicly and outwardly called a people amongst that people, is quite true. But that is a very different thing from saving men by joining them together as a body, family, kingdom, or church. Either Mr. Sadler must have two kinds and ways of salvation, or his principle is upon the face of it false. For during a third of the earth's existence, taking his own date and commencement of this process of saving men by joining them to a body, family, church, or kingdom, there was nothing of the sort to join them to. Mr. Sadler's system falsifies the nature of salvation. In the next place the scripture states the contrary of what Mr. Sadler says. It is expressly said of Abraham (Isa. 2:2), “I called him alone, and blessed him.” “It is next, with Mr. Sadler, a body, and then a church, as if it was all the same. But the blessing of Abraham was neither in a body nor a church. It was in him, and in his seed, really Christ, The true heavenly promises were made to one Seed only, “and that seed is Christ.” The apostle carefully tells us it was to one. “Now to Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” “If we are Christ's, we are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise.” Now, that these were in the church, and baptized too, the passage itself shows. I will speak of both, but the promise is exclusively to Christ. (Gal. 3:16-29.) “All the promises of God are in him, yea; and in him, amen.” (2 Cor. 1:20.)
As to Abraham himself, our immediate subject, men have always, we are told, been admitted into this church by a rite. A church means an assembly, and nothing else. Into the church as formed on earth, an external body, or Christian profession, men were admitted by a rite, and that rite baptism; into the body of Christ, decidedly not. But as to Abraham and his seed according to the flesh, this is wholly a mistake. Righteousness—and I suppose that is the way of being saved—was reckoned to him in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised. (Rom. 4:10, 11.) That is, scripture insists on exactly the contrary of what Mr. Sadler teaches. Circumcision was the seal in Abraham of the righteousness of faith, and the formal token of the covenant, according to the title possessed by his family. The title was the being of Abraham's house. Uncircumcision was a condition of forfeiture: one who was of the seed of Abraham, and who was not circumcised, had broken God's covenant. Just as if the old man be not put off we have no part in grace, though baptized twenty times.
But though this was the formal covenant token in carrying out the covenant, God was sovereign. Every one actually born in Abraham's house, or indeed bought with money, was bound to be circumcised. Circumcision was the seal of the promise made to Abraham, and if one of the promised seed was not circumcised, he lost his title, but it was a seal to which he had a title by birth. But, further, the real blessing was by promise, circumcision did not bring into it at all. Abraham's seed was called in Isaac, and the covenant promises to that seed, not with Ishmael; but Ishmael was circumcised as much as Isaac. (Vers. 19-21.) Nor was, indeed, circumcision, as Mr. Sadler speaks, an ordinance which betokened God's special goodwill towards the men of the family: the promise did that. It was an imposed condition subsequent, giving a required state, and, if it was neglected, the person was cut off.
Further, this body, or church, we are told, has always been governed and instructed by a visible ministry. Here, note, family is dropped. It would not do. No one instructed Abraham but God immediately, which He did very often. A large part of Genesis, and a very important part, consists of these revelations. When there was a people gathered, there was a priesthood besides Levitical assistants. When the Christian assembly was gathered, there were gifts bestowed in principle on all, though in distinctive efficacy on some, as apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers, and evangelists, and others called miraculous, or which were subsidiary. There were besides this, local overseers and servants.
The family is now introduced again. This church, or body, or family,” has always been a mixed body.” The family was never a body, nor was the church always a mixed body; for at the beginning the Lord added such as should be saved; afterward, as manifested on earth, it became such; but first by false brethren creeping in unawares. (Jude 4.) Israel never was a mixed body. In Israel moreover it was never a question of salvation, but of the place and inheritance of the promises according to the flesh, and none but those who were of the fountain of Israel, or joined by being circumcised, could enjoy them. There was a strict middle wall of partition. Each part of the statement is false.
To pursue the statements of the book: “The covenant of God has always been with this visible church.” God's covenant was with Abraham, but he was no assembly, which is all that church means, and the promise was confined to his seed—Christ; but God's church of the New Testament was not revealed then (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3-11; Col. 1:26); the circumcised alone had part in the blessings. If they were in the covenant of promise and were not circumcised, they were cut off. Israel subsisted by keeping the middle wall of partition up, this made the church, or the revelation of it, impossible; the church exists consequent on its being thrown down. (Eph. 2:11-22.) With Israel there was the covenant of the law, or the old covenant, and later, in Jeremiah, the promise of a new one to the same people. Of this covenant we reap the benefit of having it, in the spirit, namely, forgiveness of sins, and to be all taught of God, and know Him. But with the assembly there is no covenant made. The Mediator is come, the blood of the new covenant shed. Israel refused to enter into it; and we, while enjoying the spiritual benefit of it, have, if indeed believers, what is far better—an accomplished salvation, and the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, (the witness, present power, and seal of it, and the earnest of the glory that belongs to it) being heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, and this individually.
Our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which we have of God. Of this “the church” knows, perhaps, nothing; but they cannot deny that it is in scripture, even if they call it fanaticism. They seek to reduce us to the condition of Judaism, but this is not Christianity nor God's church. He has set Judaism aside to establish it. Even in the lowest aspect of it, He has taken away the first to establish the second. The application of church to Israel in the Christian sense (for the word merely means assembly), that is, as the body of Christ or the habitation of God through the Spirit, is without the slightest foundation in scripture. Nay, more, it contradicts its clearest and most important principles in reference to this subject. Every principle of the one system is in direct contrast with those of the other, save that both belong to God. What the church is I shall consider presently.
“The word of God,” we are next told, “has always been addressed to this outward visible body.” The Epistles, where addressed to churches, were so no doubt, but all composing churches were held to be really saints. But to say “the word of God has,” &c. shows only what a mist of their own raising these people are living in. Paul's gospel, he specially declares, was to every creature under heaven. I suppose that was the word of God. In Mark we read, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” And Paul, in the passage quoted (Col. 1), carefully distinguishes his being a minister of the gospel, and a minister of the church to fulfill or complete the word of God; and here was one contrast between Israel and the church. Israel had no such commission. It was a nation; and those of the fountain of Jacob had the word and the promises, and there was no word of God to others, but a law and prophets to them. God has raised up a ministry in Christianity because it is grace to sinners, wherever they are.
Before I proceed further to examine Mr. Sadler's views of the church, I will, because of its importance to souls, examine definitely and more at length whether salvation is individual. The church to which I attach the greatest possible importance I will examine fully; but salvation is individual. If there was but one saved person in the world, he would be saved as men are now, but he could not be an assembly. When the Lord says, “Ye must be born again,” he speaks necessarily and clearly of individuals. Whether it be by baptism we will inquire just now, but it is individual. “So is every one that is born of the Spirit,” is individual. “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” At the end of chapter 3, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” The promise of living water in John 4 is individual. “The Son quickeneth whom he will” in John 5 is individual. The promise in John 6:40 is individual, and whatever the eating means (and most certainly it is not the Lord's supper), it is individual, as verses 85, 44 plainly show. Verse 47 is conclusive as to individual salvation. John 7 is individual, as verses 87, 88. So are chapters 9, 10, ver. 27,28, is as clear as words can make it; and this even if the sheep are all scattered by Satan. “Catcheth,” in verse 12, and “plucketh,” in verse 28, are the same word. Chapter xi. 25, 26 is individual.
I might quote other passages, but the truth is that all John's writings are strictly individual. The church is never introduced as a truth in them at all; not even in chapter 17, which seems most like it. It does not speak of the assembly or church, but of the unitedness of the individuals in grace. There is indeed a threefold unity, of the eleven disciples, of those believing through their word, and of all Christians in glory. It may perhaps surprise some, that in the Epistles the church is never spoken of as a body formed on earth by any besides Paul.
In the Acts, Peter's words apply to individuals. “Repent and be baptized every one of you for [to] the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” It was to as many as the Lord their God should call. They are addressed as individuals, and there is no hint of a body or assembly. Men repent individually, and are forgiven sins individually. I do not doubt they came into the assembly, but nothing is said by him about it. The first intimation of union with Christ in one body is at Paul's conversion. (Acts 9:5.) In Peter's sermon to Cornelius it is the universal testimony,” Whosoever believeth in him.” (Acts 10:48.) So Paul: “By him all that believe are justified from all things.” (Acts 13)
The same story with the jailor at Philippi, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” —no word of joining a body to be saved. I do not doubt a moment that they became part of the assembly of God, but not a word is said of it connected with salvation. So Paul preached “Jesus and the resurrection” at Athens, “kept back nothing that was profitable” at Ephesus, preaching “repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,” individual dealing with souls, and nothing of the assembly or church, and that in the very place where he afterward unfolded it.
In Paul's account of his preaching before Agrippa, there is no word of the church in his commission to sinners. He was sent to open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me;” consequently he showed everywhere that men “should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” It was individuals; he pressed a work wrought in them; but not a word of the assembly, or joining it, in his testimony to the world.
Now this is the more remarkable, because Paul was the one who specially, and indeed Paul only, built up in church truth those who did believe. But, as we have seen, it was a distinct part of his ministry, as unfolded in Col. 1 I believe what we may call church truth is more important than ever; and in going to the Gentile as he did, Paul laid the foundation of it, for their free admission was externally the basis of that truth, which God is now mercifully bringing out again; but for salvation he preached “repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."
I have already spoken of the Romans, where all in the doctrinal part is individual, as responsibility, repentance, justification, and being dead to sin, must be in their very nature with sinners. Hence, having spoken of what Christians knew as such of the spirituality of the law, he changes from “we” to “I” — “We know,” “I am carnal.” But all is without exception and carefully individual.
In Corinthians he speaks of the assembly; but so far is the church, as God's building, from being the way of saving, that he speaks of wood, and hay, and stubble, which was to be burnt; and presses upon them in chapter x., that they might be partakers of the sacraments, so-called—be in the external or sacramental church, and fall in the wilderness all the same. From that on he speaks more of the body than of the house. But of these points anon. But when, as in 2 Cor. 5, he turns to the gospel and salvation, Individuality takes its full place again.
In the end of Gal. 2 again, we see individual state. The promise by faith of Jesus Christ is given to them that believe. The putting on Christ is not salvation, but the giving up being Jew or Gentile, bond, free, male, or female, and being Christians and nothing else. It was, begging pardon of the Thirty-nine Articles, a badge of their profession. But we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and heirs crying, Abba, Father; but all this is individual (Gal. 3; 4,), and they are then carefully warned against keeping days and months and years. Faith that worketh by love was the availing thing. All is carefully individual. They were all in the assembly already.
In Eph. 2:8 salvation is individual, though it be the Epistle in which the doctrine of the church is most fully unfolded; but it is a second order of truth, not salvation. It is when speaking of the individual, that he speaks of the gospel of their salvation, and then they were sealed, by which they were members of the body. (Chap. 1:13) The first truth is children or sons by faith, as in Galatians.
Philippians is all individual, though the assembly be fully recognized.
It is in Colossians the apostle distinguishes his ministry of the gospel and of the church. Holy days were but a shadow of things to come, now passed away; Christ being the body, they were now mere heathenish Judaism, against which he was warning them. Take chapter 3, from chapter 2:20, indeed, and see how all is individual.
In Thessalonians men obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, not by the assembly, as in chapter 1:9, where it is clearly individual. In 2 Thess. 2:13, 14 we have a formal statement that it is by sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, whereunto they were called by Paul's gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of Timothy I will speak. Titus tells us that the grace of God brings salvation, but adds no word of the church. Of chapter 3:6 I will speak.
Of Hebrews and the rest I need not speak at large. The assembly or church forms no part of doctrine there.
That Christ leads our praises in it (chap. 2:12) we learn, and (chap. 12:28) that there is an assembly of firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. Conscience, which is always individual, is perfected, and this gives us boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus. Faith is that of an individual coming to God, and by that he obtains witness that he is righteous through the more excellent sacrifice. That salvation is through joining an assembly is alike unknown, and opposed to scripture. Men are justified by faith, then sealed by receiving the Holy Ghost, through which they are of the one body. Baptism is their formal admission into the external company on earth. Of this we must now speak, and show all Mr. Sadler's theory utterly false.
I believe, let me now say, that the truth of God as to the assembly is, in these days, of the last importance; that God's order was to gather souls as well as to convert and save them, and that many of our highest privileges are connected with it. But the assembly or church has two very distinct aspects in scripture, consequent upon its being formed by the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost—that of the body of Christ, and that of the dwelling place of the Holy Ghost. Besides this, in the latter aspect, that is, as God's house, it has a double character—what Christ builds, and what man builds responsibly.
All this, which is declared in scripture, is missed by Mr. Sadler. All his thoughts are vague and in confusion; all his statements as to the Ephesians unfounded. He says (p. 45), “a kingdom or fellowship which He deigns to call His body.” He never calls His kingdom His body. “He instituted means of grace, by which they were to be brought into this fellowship” (p. 45), and (p. 46) “all baptized into His name are to be accounted as belonging to it.... In this case the baptized are the church (p. 46), and responsible for the grace of having been made members of Christ.” All this is false.
In 1 Cor. 12:18 we read, “By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.” That this is the Holy Ghost, and not baptism by water, is as clear as words can make it. The apostle is speaking of spiritual manifestations—gifts given by the Holy Ghost: “All these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” One has only to read the chapter to see, with unquestionable evidence, that the apostle is speaking of the Holy Spirit Himself.
But, to leave this beyond all controversy, we have a positive declaration by the Lord Himself of what the baptism of the Spirit is: “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:5.) Accordingly, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spake with tongues. That coming of the Holy Spirit was the baptism of the Holy Ghost spoken of, and of these and other gifts, which were the fruit of it, the apostle is speaking in 1 Corinthians.
That the apostles even ever received Christian baptism there is not a trace in scripture, nor indeed the hundred and twenty who were together. They were to wait for the promise of the Father, receiving power by the Holy Ghost coming upon them, which took place accordingly, and “Christ being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:38.) This was the baptism of the Holy Ghost, by which they were baptized into one body. That water baptism introduced into the body, or made men members of the body, is a notion wholly unknown to scripture. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” The gift of the Spirit is always distinguished from it moreover. They were to repent and be baptized for (to) the remission of sins, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38.)
(To be continued)

Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 15

Paul's method of action, in the case of the preaching at Ephesus, is stated in 1 Cor. 9:19-23. To the Jews he became as a Jew, in order that he might gain Jews: to those under law asunder law, that he might gain those who were under law: to those without law, as without law (not as without law to God, but as legitimately subject to Christ), in order to gain those without law: to the weak he became as weak, in order to gain the weak. To all he became all things, that at all events he might save some. And it is with these three classes of Jews the church deals here. The Jew in the synagogue, where Paul takes the place of a Jew, shaving his head. Apollos, still under law in its most searching form, gained for Christ, perhaps almost unconsciously to himself, by the unfolding of the way of God. Aquila and Priscilla, acting for Christ, taking a place, as it were, by his side; and, lastly, the twelve men who are disciples, in the place of utter weakness, Paul comes to them in their need, and delivers them for Christ; and so greatly is the power of God shown in the church, and that, though hunted and persecuted, there was neither evil nor transgression in her hand that fear fell upon all—Jews and Greeks—who inhabited Ephesus, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. It is here the last recorded instance is met with of men owning the baptism of John; these are brought into the church, and the last link which might seem to have connected the earthly with the heavenly thing is finally snapped, and the testimony distinctly declared to the Jew which had been formally closed at Corinth, but which divine grace, lingering over them, had continued through Paul and Apollos at Ephesus, even through an apparently unjustifiable course, for Paul shaved his head, and Apollos at the time was not in the church, as to his own conscience and outward place, now ceases forever.
Paul, as we shall see, makes one more effort, at an apparently greater sacrifice of principle, without effect; but there is no further testimony of any kind to the Jews, except a witness of rejection and judgment. In conformity with this, it is at this period in the history of the church, namely, while Paul is at Corinth and Ephesus, that the Holy Spirit first brings to the work of building up the church that abiding and perfect instrument, “the written word.” The perfect revelation of the grace of God had been declared to the Jews during three successive periods; the first of these was during Saul's witness at Damascus and Jerusalem, that Jesus is Son of God. (Acts 9:21.) The Christ (Acts 9; 22); the Lord (Acts 9:29): the result being that the Hellenist Jews seek to kill him, and the Lord Jesus appears to him when praying in the temple, and says to him, he having become in ecstasy, “Make haste, and go quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.” Coupled with this rejection of the Jew is the command,” Go, for I will send thee to the nations afar off.” Thus, at the outset, the casting out of the Jew, and the calling in of the Gentile, is distinctly set forth; though divine grace carries on the witness of fulfillment of promise and manifested love in the Son throughout the whole three periods. The result of the first witness clearly shows that the Jew and the church of God could not exist together on earth as the owned servant of God—that the one, when its measure had filled up, must give place to the other—that because of unbelief the Jew would be cut off, the vineyard taken from him, and given to others bringing forth the fruits thereof.
The epistles written by the hand of Paul at this time clearly bring out these truths, with the further revelation that though the Jew had fallen, and thereby salvation come to the nations, yet they should be gathered in and blessed again, to the great blessing of the world, that blindness, in part, had happened to Israel, until the fullness of the nations were come in. The Epistle to the Galatians deals, as its main subject, with the complete setting aside of Judaism, and everything connected with it—the law, the temple, the customs, and worship—the people and nation—just bringing in the new family, and showing its characteristics. Paul first exhibits himself as an example of what God was doing, for, having himself been foremost in Judaism, God had set him apart from the womb, called him by His grace, and was pleased to reveal His Son in him, that he might preach Him among the nations, and therefore it was impossible for him to go back to the old thing, since he had died to law, that he might live to God: he was crucified With Christ, and it was Christ that lived in him, and that in Christ all who believed in Him were delivered from the curse of the law, He having become a curse for them. In Him were brought into the possession of the promises a prior thing to the law, and are brought out of the place of bondage into the liberty of sons, and heirs through God.
Wherefore the bondmaid and her son, Hagar—the Jewish system—must be cast out, for the son of the bondmaid shall in nowise inherit with the son of the freewoman. The Epistles to the Thessalonians take up the next stage of truth regarding this new family, starting from the utter rejection of the old; wrath having come upon them to the uttermost, it shows the new thing to be wholly heavenly, with heavenly hopes only, to await God's Son from the heavens—the Lord Jesus—at His coming, and to be unblameable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints—the catching up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air—to be always with the Lord—to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the same epistles the opportunity is taken to show the perfected manifestation and final destruction of that spirit of wickedness which had caused the setting aside of the old thing. The Epistle to the Romans covers the same ground, showing that God is just in dealing with Jew and Gentile upon the same footing; the Jew, as such, having failed, was set aside, and a new blessing brought in, which all, Jew or Gentile, characterized by faith were partakers, in even an utterly new race, the Head and source of which is Christ, wholly spiritual in character, conduct, and condition, flesh being obliterated. (Rom. 9; 10:11:1-10), reveal the Jew, except a remnant, refusing to enter in, and consequently broken out, and cast away (Rom. 11:16-36), and the Gentile grafted in, and occupying their place of witness for God on earth (Rom. 11:25, 26, 11-15). But the Epistle proceeds a step further, showing that the Jew is again to be restored to his own place in superabundant blessing, and in the overwhelming grace of God the whole world to be blessed through him.
Thus the Epistles to the Gal. 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Romans, clearly bring out what marked the first period of witness regarding Christ in the glory, namely, the casting out justly the Jew, as a Jew, the bringing of all who believe into a new thing—not yet fully shown—and then proceeding a step further to show the gathering back again into more than former blessing of the Jew, when the new thing had been perfected. The second period commences from Acts 18. The first period of witness regarding Christ in the glory dealt more with the rejection of the Jew as God's earthly witness; the second with the place and portion of the new thing—the body of Christ, the church—the truth regarding which is brought out principally in the Epistles to the Corinthians; the period commences with the sending forth of the gospel to the heathen Greeks of Macedonia and Achaia, but Paul uses the opportunity to announce it to the Jews wherever he can, the consequence being that, though some believe, yet the unbelieving Jews pursue him from city to city, until at Corinth he testifies to them in the Spirit, “Your blood be upon your own head; I am pure; from henceforth I will go to the nations.” At the commencement of Paul's first witness to the nations, he had said to the Jews, “Since ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, so we turn to the Gentiles,” leaving still an opportunity for repentance; but now the case is hopeless, the master of the house has, as it were, risen up, and shut-to the door, and he declares that their blood is upon their own head. Here the setting aside of the Jew is complete, and consequently, in 1 and 2 Corinthians, where the truth is revealed connected with this second period of witness to Christ in the glory, the church, in its character, objects, and condition, is the prime subject; but in 1 Corinthians there is an undercurrent of Jewish reference through it all, and the second epistle brings clearly out the old thing, in order to contrast it with the new, showing the abiding nature of the one, and the temporary character of the other.
The opening of the first epistle strikingly sets faith the perfectly opposite character of the new thing. It is the assembly of God set apart in Christ Jesus—the Man in heaven. Born by a heavenly means—foolish to them that perish—of God in Christ, standing in the power of God, endowed with the Spirit of God, taught by Him the things of God, having the mind of the Lord Christ. Not only having thus a heavenly character, but heavenly objects—bound to observe a heavenly conduct—not mixing with fornicators, avaricious, or idolaters, though they be called brethren—being washed, sanctified, justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God; as to the body, members of Christ, also one Spirit with the Lord. One loaf, one body, and that the Lord's body. Christ's body, and members in particular, having the same concern one for another; living in a condition of things in which love is the spring and course, the motive and guide.
Not only is the new thing, as a whole, thus heavenly, but each individual is heavenly, even as to his body which is down here for a time, and that after the nature of Christ's body, who died and rose again, through His Spirit that dwelleth in it, waiting to bear the image of the heavenly One, immortal, incorruptible. The second epistle brings out the further truth regarding this heavenly thing, the new creation, that in it God establishes us in Christ, has anointed us, has sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts; and where He is there is life, abiding glory, and liberty, the ministry of the letter to the old thing bringing darkness, bondage, and death.
In 1 Cor. 15:20-28, in a parenthesis, is given the condition of the old man, consequent upon its connection with Adam, its fountainhead, and the portion of the new in Christ, who is the firstfruits of those in Him. Death marks the one, life out of it the other: the one pledged in the resurrection of Christ, and proved at His coming to reign on earth; the other continuing so marked until the end, when He gives up the kingdom to Him who is God and Father, having put all enemies under His feet. Then shall death itself be brought to nothing. There is here a hint of an earthly kingdom in judgment and power, during the interval between His coming in His kingdom, and giving up the kingdom. Thus reigning in two circles of power over the heavenly thing, of which He is the firstfruits now, where all is characterized by life and righteousness, and also in an earthly kingdom, characterized by power and judgment, and where death is found. But death appears to have now power over those who are Christ's, yet, as even the first of the race became a living soul, the last a quickening Spirit, thus all His, having borne the image of the natural out of earth, shall as surely bear also the image of the spiritual and heavenly One, the second Man. Besides, not all shall have part in the completed result of having borne the image of the one made of dust, since in the heavenly One law does not apply, consequently death is powerless as to its sting, and only waits to be swallowed up in a victory already achieved.
Therefore the second epistle begins with a life down here in the power of resurrection, the earnest of the Spirit being already possessed, which gives the confidence of being the work of God for the building from Him, the house eternal in the heavens. From this place of glory and blessing follow the solemn, weighty, holy exhortations to be agreeable to Him, He having done away, in its entireness, with the old thing, giving His Son to take it up as a whole, developed to perfection, and to obliterate it, bringing us reconciled to God, and in Himself God's righteousness. “Wherefore, as walkers down here, we must come out of the midst of, be separated from, touch not, the unclean thing.
The third period of witness to Christ in the glory is at Ephesus, where the Jew is shown out in all the malice and impotency of fleshly religion, in the presence of the full manifestation of all grace and power in the church, so that wicked spirits, which are cast out by means of handkerchiefs brought from Paul's body, leap upon Jewish exorcists when attempting to wield the same power, and overcome them.
The first period coincides with Saul's preaching at Damascus and Jerusalem, where the Lord says, “Make haste, and go quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.....Go, for I will send thee to the nations afar off;” and deals principally with the total setting aside of the old thing, the earthly religious—system—and bringing in both Jew and Gentile into a new thing, a heavenly, upon an altogether different principle, truth developed in Galatians, Thessalonians, and Romans, which show what the death of Christ is to the believer.
The second period dates from Corinth, where Paul witnesses to the opposing, injurious Jews, “Your blood be upon your own head; I am pure; from henceforth I will go to the nations.” And the Lord says to him by vision in the night, “Fear not, but speak, and be not silent, because I am with thee, and no one shall set upon thee to injure thee; because I have much people in this city.” The truth characterizing this period is brought out in the Epistles to the Corinthians, and is occupied chiefly with the order and establishment of the new thing, its position and abiding character, contrasted with the temporary and inferior nature of that which it superseded, and dealing with the resurrection of Christ and its results to the believer.
The third period centers at Ephesus, where the Jew, having been given over judicially, is only introduced to show his utter impotence for good, and the rotten state of the religious system he belonged to, the revelation proper to this period deals, therefore, exclusively with the church, as seen in its ascended Head, showing the glory of Christ in the heavens, and the church in Him, and is communicated in the Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. Thus we find in Acts 19 intimations that the Jewish system, as such, is finally deprived of all spiritual power and blessing, and given over unto the power of the spirit of evil. The church, on the contrary, from this time takes a distinct standing, existing not as by sufferance, but upon proof of superior power and authority, commanding the allegiance of all who owned the truth of God, and looked for the Messiah of Israel. The Epistle to the Ephesians reveals the sanctified in Christ in the heavenlies in Him, blessing God who had thus blessed; chosen before the world's foundation, marked out beforehand, taken into favor in the Beloved in whom all things are to be headed up (the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth), having obtained inheritance in Him, being sealed thereto by the Holy Spirit, which is the earnest. The aim of the Holy Spirit is therefore to open their eyes to the things amidst which they are set, and that they might have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him in whom they became partakers in the calling, the glory, and the power which had wrought in the Christ, in raising Him from among the dead, and setting Him down at God's right hand in the heavenlies, above every principality, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name named, and that as head over all things to the assembly, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all; the members of which, Jew and Gentile, having been alike dead in trespasses and sins, sons of disobedience, children of wrath, are now created of God in Christ Jesus unto good works, formed in Him into one new man, reconciled to God by the cross—a thing hitherto hid, but now revealed and accomplished for God's glory. And this body—the body of Christ on earth—is perfected, and ministered to, and built up by means of gift direct from its Head in heaven, in order that it may arrive at the full-grown man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, holding the truth in love, and growing up to Him in all things, from whom the whole body builds itself up in love.
(To be continued)

Notes on John 8:30-46

It is an encouraging fact that a time of unbelieving detraction may be used of God to work extensively in souls. “While he was speaking these things, many believed on him.” (Ver. 30.) But faith, where divinely given, is inseparable from life, exercises itself in liberty, and is subject to the Son of God; where it is human, it soon wearies of His presence, and abandons Him, whom it never truly appreciated, for license either of mind or of ways in rebellion against Him. Hence the urgency of the Lord's solemn appeal. Continuance in and with Him is of God.
“Jesus therefore said to the Jews that had believed him, If ye abide in my word, ye are truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We are Abraham's seed, and have never been in bondage to any one: how sayest thou, Ye shall become free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, every one that practiseth sin is a bondman of sin. Now the bondman abideth not in the house forever; the Son abideth forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham's seed, but ye seek to kill me because my word maketh no way in you. I speak what I have seen with my Father, and ye therefore practice what ye have seen with your father, They answered and said to him, Our father is Abraham. Jesus saith to them, If ye are Abraham's children, ye would practice the works of Abraham; but now ye seek to kill me, a man who hath spoken to you the truth which I heard from God: this Abraham did not practice. Ye practice the works of your father. They said [therefore] to him, We were not born of fornication; we have one father, God. Jesus said to them, If God were your father ye would have loved me, for I came forth from God and am come; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not know my speech? Because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father, the devil, and ye desire to practice the lusts of your father. He was a murderer from [the] beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him: whenever he speaketh, he speaketh the lie of his own things, because he is a liar, and the father of it; but because I speak the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? If I speak truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth the words of God; for this cause ye hear them not, because ye are not of God.” (Vers. 31-47.)
To abide in His word then is the condition of being in truth Christ's disciple. Others may be interested greatly, but they soon grow weary, or turn ere long to other objects. Christ's disciple cleaves to His word, and finds fresh springs in what first attracted. His word proves itself thus divine, as it is faith which abides in it, and the truth is thus not only learned, but known. Vagueness and uncertainty disappear, while the truth, instead of gendering bondage, like the law, makes the soul free, whatever its previous slavery. “There is growth in the truth and liberty by it. Law deals with the corrupt and proud will of man to condemn it on God's part as is right; the truth communicates the knowledge of Himself as revealed in His word, and thus gives life and liberty, privileges unintelligible to the natural man, who hates the sovereign grace of God as much as he exalts and loves himself, while he despises and distrusts others. Man's only thought therefore of obtaining righteousness is through the law; he knows not the virtue of the truth, and dreads liberty as though it must end in license, while at the same time they are proud of their own position, as if it were inalienable, and God were their servant, not they bound to be His. Hence the Jews answered Jesus, “We are Abraham's seed, and have never been in bondage to any one: how sayest thou, Ye shall become free?"
Far from this was the truth. Even outwardly, not to speak of the soul, the Jews were, and had long been, in servitude to the Gentiles. So Ezra (chap, 9) confessed at the evening sacrifice: “Since the days of our fathers have we been in great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hands of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is thin day. And now for a little space grace hath been showed from Jehovah our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia,” &c. So, again, Nehemiah (chap, 9): “Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in thy prophets; yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hands of the people of the lands..... Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers, to eat the fruit thereof, and the good thereof; behold, we are servants in it, and it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins; and they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress.” Thus had men of conscience felt when they lay under conquerors milder far than the Romans who now ruled. It was not that the Jews today were lightened, but that they had grown so used to the yoke as to forget and deny it altogether. And if it were in face of God's righteous government externally, much less did they estimate aright their true state before God, as the Lord Jesus was bringing it out now. Their haughty spirit was nettled at His word, which laid bare their thralldom to the enemy. “We are Abraham's seed, and have never been in bondage to any one: how sayest thou, Ye shall become free?” Jesus in His answer brought in the light of God, for eternity indeed, but also for the present. “Verily, verily, I say to you, every one that practiseth sin is a bondman of sin.” How true, solemn, and humiliating! No bondage so real, none so degrading, as that of sin: could they seriously deny it to be theirs?
But the Lord intimates more. None under sin is entitled to speak of permanence. Such an one exists only on sufferance till judgment. Bondage there was none when God created and made according to His mind; nor will there be when He shall make all things new. The bondman, in every sense, belongs only to the transitory reign of sin and sorrow. So says the Lord: “Now the bondman abideth not in the house forever.” Another and contrasted relationship suits God's will; “the son abideth forever.” But there is infinitely more in Christ. He is not merely son, but “the Son.” He is the Son in His own right and title, as God and as man, in time and in eternity. He is therefore not “free” only, as all sons are, but such in His glory that He can and does make free in virtue of the grace which pertains to Him alone. Thus it is not only the truth which sets free, where law could only condemn, but the Son also gives and confirms the same character of liberty according to His own fullness. It is a question of what suits, not them merely, but Him. He could make free those who hear Him, and abide in His word, and nothing else but free. It is worthy of Him to deliver from sin and Satan; and “if the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” He frees after a divine sort. He brings into His own character of relationship out of the bondage to sin, which the first man made our sad inheritance. The last Adam is a quickening Spirit and a Deliverer. Let us stand fast in His liberty, and be not entangled again with any yoke of bondage, as the apostle exhorts the Galatians against that misuse of the law, whatever its shape.
To be Abraham's seed, as the Lord lets the Jews know, is a sorry safeguard. One might be of Abraham, and be the worst enemies of God. Such were the Jews then, who were seeking to kill Christ because His word had no hold in them. Every one acts according to his source; character follows it. So our Lord deigns to say, “I speak what I have seen with my Father; and ye therefore practice what ye have seen with your father.” To be of Abraham does not save from Satan. To hear the Son, to believe in Him, is to have eternal life and derive one's nature from God. They boasted most of Abraham who were still in the darkness of unbelief and the enemy's power. Hence “they answered and said to him, Our father is Abraham. Jesus saith to them, If ye are Abraham's children, ye would practice the works of Abraham; but now ye seek to kill me, a man who hath spoken to you the truth which I heard from God: this Abraham did not practice. Ye practice the works of your father.” (Vers. 39-41.) It was allowed already that they were descended from the father of the faithful; but did they bear the family likeness? Was it not an aggravation of their evil that they stood in contrast with him from whom they vaunted themselves sprung? Abraham believed, and it was counted to him for righteousness. They believed not, but sought to kill the man, albeit the Son of God, who spoke to them the truth which He heard from God. Whose works were these? Certainly not Abraham's, but a very different father's.
The Jews felt what was implied, and at once take the highest ground. “They said [therefore] to him, We were, not born of fornication; we have one father, God. Jesus said to them, If God were your father, ye would have loved me, for I came forth from God and am come; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not know my speech? Because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father, the devil, and ye desire to practice the lusts of your father. He was a murderer from [the] beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him: whenever he speaketh, he speaketh the lie out of his own things, because he is a liar, and the father of it; but because I speak the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? If I speak truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth the words of God; for this cause ye hear them not, because ye are not of God.” (Vers. 41-47.)
The case is thus closed as regards the Jews. They were of the devil beyond all doubt, as this solemn controversy proved. It is really the conviction of man as against Christ, in every land, tongue, age. He turns out no other when tested by the truth, by the Son; however circumstances differ, this is the issue, and it comes out worst where things look fairest. If there was a family on earth, which might have seemed removed the farthest from impurity, it was the Jews; if any could claim to have God as their father, they most of all. But Jesus is the touchstone; and they are thereby proved to be God's enemies, not His children; else they would have loved Him who came out from God, and was then present in their midst, who had not even come of His own motion but at God's sending. He came and was sent in love; they rose against Him in hatred, seeking to kill Him.
The Jews did not even know His speech, such utter strangers were they to Him, or the God who spoke by Him. The reason is most grave—they could not hear His word. It is through understanding the thought, the scope, the mind of the person speaking that one knows the phraseology, and not the inverse. If the inner purpose is not received, the outer form is unknown. So it was with Jesus speaking to the Jews—so it is preeminently with the testimony in John's writings now. Men complain of mysticism in the expression, because they have no notion of the truth intended. The hindrance is in the blinding power of the devil, who is the source of their thoughts and feelings, as surely as he is the adversary of Christ. Men's judgments flow from their will and affections, and these are under the sway of His enemy. And as he pushes on men, especially those who are specially responsible to bow to Christ, as the Jews then were, to practice the lusts of their father, so violence follows as naturally as falsehood. For Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and stands not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Jesus alone of men is the truth; He is not only God, but the One who reveals God to man. In Him is no sin, nor did He sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. He was the manifest opposite, in all respects, of the devil, who, whenever he speaks, speaks falsehood out of his own store, because he is a liar and the father of it. Jesus is the truth, and makes it known to those who otherwise cannot know it. “But because I speak the truth, ye believe me not.” How awful, yet how just, God's judgment of such! For we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth; and what can be the end of these things but death and judgment?
Finally, the Lord proceeds to challenge them, in order to lay bare their groundless malice: “Which of you convinceth me of sin? If I speak truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth the words of God: for this cause ye hear them not, because ye are not of God.” He was the Holy One, no less than the Truth, and surely both go together. And thus were they convicted of being, in word and deed, in thought and feeling, wholly alienated from, and rebellions against, God. They were not of God, save in haughty pretension, which only made their distance from Him, and opposition to Him, more glaring. Instead of convincing Christ of sin, they were themselves slaves of sin; instead of speaking truth, they rejected Him who is the Truth; instead of hearing the words of God, they hated Him who spoke them, because they were not of God, but of the devil. Terrible picture, which the unerring light failed not to draw and leave, never to be effaced, of His adversaries! To be not of God is to be wholly without good, and left in evil, exposed to its consequences, according to the judgment of Him who cannot, will not, change in His abhorrence of it. Such were and are the rejecters of Jesus.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 11:27-34

Such is the institution and the aim of the Lord's supper. Let us pursue the consequences pressed by the apostle.
“Wherefore whoever eateth the bread or drinketh the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty as to the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body. For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many are falling asleep. But if we were discerning ourselves, we should not be judged; but when judged we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when coming together to eat, wait for each other. If any one is hungry, let him eat at home, that ye may not come together for judgment. But the rest will I arrange when I come.” (Vers. 27-34.)
But the more precious the Lord's supper is, as the gathering of Christian affection to a focus in the remembrance of His death, the greater the danger, if the heart be careless, or the conscience not before God. It is not a question of allowing unworthy persons to communicate. Low as the Corinthians might be through their unjudged carnal thoughts and worldly desires, they had not fallen so grievously as that; they had not yet learned to make excuses for admitting the unrenewed and open enemies of the Lord to His table. But they were in danger of reducing its observance to a form for themselves, of partaking in the supper without exercise of soul, either as to their own ways, or as to His unspeakable love who was thus reminding them of His death for them. Hence the solemn admonition of the apostle, “Wherefore whosoever eateth the bread (for the added emphasis of the common text is uncalled for), or drinketh the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” To eat or drink it as an ordinary meal, or a common thing, without reflection or self-judgment, is to eat and drink “unworthily;” and the more so because it is a Christian who does so; for of all men he should feel most what he owes the Lord, and what the Lord expressly brings to his remembrance at that serious moment. It is to be guilty of an offense, not merely against Himself in general, but in respect of His body and His blood, if he treat their memorials with indifference. There meet together the extremity of our need and guilt, the fullness of suffering in Christ, the deepest possible judgment of sin, yet withal grace to the uttermost, leaving not a sin unforgiven: what facts, feelings, motives, results, surround the cross of the Lord Jesus! It therefore appeals, as nothing else can, to the believer's heart, as well as to his conscience, and therefore does the apostle censure and stigmatize the Corinthians' fault so strongly.
“But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body.” Grace is thus maintained, but through righteousness, as ever. Each is to put himself to the proof, and so to eat and drink. The Lord would have His own to come, but not with negligence of spirit or levity; this were to be a party both to His own dishonor, and the deeper evil of his followers. Still He invites all, if He urges the trying of our ways. Self-judgment is with a view to coming, not to staying away. For it is a question of those whom grace counts worthy; whatever their past or personal unworthiness, they are washed, they are sanctified, they are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Having the Spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind, they are assumed to be in peace with God, and delivered from the law of sin; they are contemplated as jealous for the Lord's glory, and hating what grieves the Holy Spirit of God, whereby they are sealed unto the day of redemption.
It is not supposed that they could persevere in evil that they discover themselves exposed to, or that they confess sin in which they begin again to indulge, as if God were mocked by an acknowledgment which would thus aggravate their wickedness. Grace strengthens the man who tries himself with integrity, and it emboldens him to come. Where there is lightness on the other hand, the Lord shows Himself there to judge. “For he that eateth and drinketh (most add “unworthily,” but the most ancient omit) eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body,” that is, the Lord's body, as the mass add, in both cases needlessly, though right enough for the sense which is implied. To bring in the church would falsify the thought: the wrong was forgetfulness of the Lord's self-sacrificing love. He instituted the supper to remind us of it continually.
But there is another error still more prevalent, and even long and widely consecrated, which has wrought as much mischief as almost any other single mistranslation of a scripture. It is not “damnation” of which verse 29 speaks, but in contrast with it, judgment, κρίμα. Yet all the celebrated English versions, from Wiclif downward, have sanctioned the grievous mistake, save the worst of them, the Rhemish, through their servile adherence to the Vulgate, which here happens to give judicium rightly. The curious fact however is, that of all systems none is really so tainted with the unbelief which led to the mistranslation as the Romanist. For it naturally regards with the utmost superstition the Lord's supper, and with it interweaves its idolatry of the real presence. Hence its interpretation of guilt as to the body and the blood of the Lord. Hence its notion of “damnation” attaching to a misuse of the sacrament, followed by almost all the Protestant associations. But the Protestant is misled by his version, while the Romanist is the less excusable, inasmuch as his Vulgate and vernacular versions are so far right, yet he is even more deeply under the delusion which denies Christian relationship and an atom of grace in God.
Here the Spirit really teaches us that, where the true and holy aim of the Lord's supper is slighted, and the communicant does not discern the body (that is, does not discriminate between the memorial of Christ and an ordinary meal), he eats and drinks judgment as a present thing. He brings on himself the chastening hand of the Lord in vindication of His honor and His love. Hence it is added, “For this cause [are] many weak and sick among you, and a considerable number are falling asleep.” There sin sickness was to death. And there is still further intimation: “For if we discerned ourselves we should not be judged; but when judged we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” This is conclusive. The express aim of the Lord in inflicting these bodily sufferings at the present is in order that His faulty saints may escape damnation. Condemnation awaits the world because, rejecting the Lord, it must bear, its own doom. He has borne the sins of the faithful; but if they are light about His grace, they come under His present rebukes, that they may be spared condemnation with the world whom they so far resemble. If they discerned the evil in its working within, they would avoid, not only its manifestation without, but His chastening; if they fail in this self-judgment, He does not fail in watchful care, and deals with them; but even such judgment flows from His love, and takes the shape of chastening, that they may not perish in the condemnation which falls on the guilty world. How grievous on the part of the saints; how gracious and holy on His part! But it is evidently and only present judgment that they may not fall into future condemnation; that is, it is in contrast with “damnation."
The apostle closes his grave censure and instruction with the exhortation to wait for each other when coming together to eat; self would thus he judged, and love in active exercise. “If any one is hungry, let him eat at home, that ye may not come together for judgment.” The indulgence of flesh in one provokes flesh in another, and the Lord must then judge more than him who first dishonored Him. The apostle did not say all he might. “The rest will I arrange when I come.” It would not be for the best interests of the assembly if all were laid down formally. The Spirit in living power is the true supplement to the written word as the unerring standard, not tradition. We need and have the Holy Ghost as well as scripture; but scripture is the rule, not the Spirit, though we cannot use it aright without Him.

Elements of Prophecy: 14. The Year-Day Theory Continued

The Year-Day Theory Continued Chapter 13
The general indications of a figurative meaning having been briefly discussed, let us now as briefly notice the special evidence for the year-day system
I. The prophecy of “the Seventy Weeks” has always held the foremost place in the direct arguments for that view. It is clear that the Weeks in this case are not of days, but of years; and it is hence inferred that, since all such predictions of time bear one common character, occur in the same prophets, and have the same general object, they ought to be explained by one common rule. But theoretic consistency has its snares as much as the inordinate love of variety; and it is dangerous in the revelations of God to reason from a special prophecy to others before and after wholly distinct from it. Were the supposed key given in the first of Daniel's prophecies where dates occur, there might seem reason for it; or if it were given at the close, where dates abound, as an appendix of instruction. Whereas it is plain, on the face of the visions, that Dan. 9 has a remarkable isolation in its nature, and might therefore have a special form in this respect, as it certainly has in others. Were the time, times, and half a time, expressed in that way, the argument would be more plausible. It is rash to draw an analogy of sameness, from a single instance differently situated and characterized, to all that precede or follow. There are grounds in the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, which forbid the shorter reckoning; but this is not at all the case in any of the others. Hence the resemblance fails, and the reasons which determine in the case of Dan. 9 do not appear elsewhere.
Π. The sentence of Israel in the wilderness is habitually cited as another testimony. (Num. 13:25; 14:33, 34.) It is plain that a retributive dealing with Israel in the desert is a slender ground for interpreting symbolic prophecies given many centuries after.
III. The typical siege of Ezekiel is another witness called to sustain the system. (Ezek. 4:4-9.) Here again we have to note that an argument is based on this, not for the dates in Ezekiel's prophecy, where it is recorded, but for Daniel and John, where it is not. From such special instances, so carefully explained, it would seem safe to conclude that a day not so applied was to be taken literally, especially if given in the explanation, and not in the symbolic form only.
IV. Another argument has been drawn from the words of our Lord, given in Luke 13:31-33. But it must be owned that the color for giving this the definite meaning of three years is slight indeed.
Let us turn to the prophetic dates themselves which are in question.
V. The “time, times, and dividing of time” (Dan. 7:25), may be first considered, as it is thought to contain many distinct proofs to confirm the year-day theory, and to refute the shorter reckoning. The peculiarity of form is due to the prophetic style, which loves to arrest the attention of the reader, and to suggest matter for reflection, instead of limiting itself to the phrases customary in common life. The comparison of the different phrases for the same period in Revelation makes it perfectly certain that three years and a half were meant, even if there could have been a doubt before, which there was not: Jews and Christians alike accepted the phrase as comprehending that space. It has been already intimated, however, that there is no objection to allow of a protracted application in a general way, provided that the crisis be not set aside, as is done almost always by the historical school. And it may be that such a twofold reference accounts for the enigmatic appearance of this date.
VI. The dream of Nebuchadnezzar stands on exactly similar grounds. The seven times were assuredly accomplished in the seven years' humiliation of the great Babylonian chief. It is possible that there may be a prolonged application figuratively to the times of the Gentiles, from the beginning to the end of the four great empires.
VII. Without doubt the phraseology is unusual; but Mr. Mede, the greatest advocate of the year-day system, here allows that the vision applies to Antiochus Ep., and consequently views the date as a brief period only. It seems scarcely worth while to dwell on such assumptions as that the vision is of the restored sacrifice! before a fresh desolation!! including several centuries!!! not only without scripture, but against the text commented on. Such proofs might be multiplied, but where is their worth? I believe myself that the “many days” are not before, but after, the numeral period, and that here, as elsewhere, the vision concentrates on the close, though not without the accomplishment of grave facts comparatively close at hand.
VIII. The oath of the angel in the last vision, and all the attendant circumstances, are supposed to be in favor of the mystic view of the historical school, and against the brief crisis at the end of the age.
But why the solemnity of the oath should require the lengthy application to the past, and not the awful lawlessness of the future, seems hard to understand. That the deepest interest should converge on the outburst of evil which brings the Lord judicially and in glory into the scene is most intelligible, and the desire be expressed to know how long such horrors are to last before the end come. To the prophet, intensely feeling for the Jews in their sorrow, and wholly ignorant of the present calling from among the Gentiles, not to speak of the one body wherein is neither Jew nor Greek but Christ is all, can anything be conceived more suitable? We may rest assured that 1 Peter 1:12 does not refer to this passage, for the apostle speaks about inquiry among the prophets, not, as here, the celestial beings whom Daniel saw and heard. Nothing can be clearer or more certain than the convergence of the thought here on the end. It is of this only Daniel inquires, and learns that the words are sealed till then. The point is not the immediate history.
IX. The supplementary dates have been pressed into the same service, and with as little result in favor of application to the past. For, however sorrowful it is to see men so occupied with the world's doings and sayings as to overlook the abyss that is opening, not only for the Jews, but for Christendom, the Lord Himself directed attention to this part of Daniel in such a way as to make argument of small moment to the believer. Compare Matt. 24:15, &c., with Dan. 12:11. Whatever Antiochus Ep. may have done similarly (Dan. 11:31), it is certain that there is to be a future abomination of desolation set up in Jerusalem's sanctuary, that a brief but unexampled tribulation will ensue, and that the Son of man will immediately after appear to the deliverance of His elect. The Lord does thus supply the amplest proof that the theory which shuts out the crisis is false, and that the end of the age is precisely the era when these things are to be fulfilled.
X. Of the cyclical character of the prophetic times I would rather avoid speaking. The truth needs no support from science. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Even the sturdiest advocates of the protracted and intervening application have to own here the literality of the specified times, where explanation too had been sought. The mention of so many days does not convey any necessary thought of a prolonged period, but of God's gracious counting up the daily sorrow that must befall those who bore His name, and of the dishonor put on His own sanctuary and sacrifice, after they had too hastily assumed that He could own them as they will be then. The wicked will not care for this, but hail the abominations then to follow; the wise will understand and confide in the word of God which deigns to reckon up the time before deliverance comes day by day. An immense series of years would be cold comfort at such a time. No doubt the two periods of thirty days, and of forty-five added to the thirty, are a supplement to the times already mentioned, but they are really connected directly with the date in Dan. 7, without any reference to Dan. 9 (though less obviously, I presume there is a bond between all, namely, the last half week of the seventieth, which is identical with the time, times, and an half, overlapped doubly by the supplemented twelve hundred and ninety and three hundred and thirty-five days, as we have seen). But there is no hint of a long period when these dates proceed, whatever the interval before they begin. Indeed our Lord appears to intimate the express contrary, when He says, “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved, but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened;” and it is in reference to the same period that, in the Revelation, the devil is represented as come down in great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. Does this look like more than a thousand years? Finally, the assurance that the prophet should stand in his lot in the end of those days does not imply that those days are themselves of a longer continuance than might appear from the letter of the prophecy. The long delay was before the days commence, not in their long continuance. The prophet knew well that he lived (then a very old man) at the beginning of the second of those four empires, though he might have no knowledge of the strange vicissitudes of the fourth, and of the mysteries which the New Testament would reveal in due season during its continuance and disappearance, before its revival, and the portentous crisis, terminating in its judgment, when these days have run their course, after which the prophet should stand in his lot.
Thus, even in the symbolic prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, the point is not at all the course of secret providence in history of which men love to weave systems, but the announcement of divine judgment, when the overt unrestrained blasphemy of the powers makes it morally imperative on God's part. This is the reason why scripture passes so curtly over the long periods of which the natural mind is so boastful, in order to fix attention on the closing scene when the responsible holders of authority come into collision with the God who originally delegated the authority. No one doubts the importance of what God works secretly; yet it is not of this that prophecy treats, but of His public inflictions when man's evil becomes intolerable by openly denying God and setting up himself instead. And as secret providence is thus excluded from prophecy, still more is the church, whereby God now displays His manifold wisdom to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. (Eph. 3:10.) Even when He does deign to furnish light as to His working in the church during a day of decay, till the spewing out of its last form, He chooses seven existing assemblies, “the things that are” as the means of it, so as not to falsify His own principles in the Christian's constant waiting for Christ, and in our having a heavenly position in Him, instead of being an object of prophecy on earth. When the properly prophetic part of the Revelation commences, “the things which must be after these,” those who had enjoyed the church's relationship with Christ are seen already glorified on high, and we return to Jews or Gentiles, unjust or righteous, filthy or holy, on earth. The bride is above during the visions of judgment, or at least their execution.
It is no question then of speculating about God's ways, but of submission in thankfulness, to His word who tells us the end from the beginning, and dwells not on the mere intervening stages which are noticed—if at all—in the most passing way, but concentrates our gaze on the closing conflict between good and evil, when Satan fights out his last campaign against the Lord and His Anointed, and we can the better discern by such an issue the frightful character of wiles which looked specious at an earlier day. The real difficulty to a spiritual mind would be to conceive the Spirit of God occupied, not merely the Christian now, but even the godly Jew of old or by-and-by, with Gentile politics and the details of their godless history. It is quite simple to understand that all the blessing is not introduced, when judgment intervenes first to destroy the beast and the false prophet, other enemies needing to be put down, other measures necessary to clear away evil and its effects, and that two or three months more beyond the three and a half years are added in this way. But that so seventy-five, or even thirty, years should follow the destruction of the beast and the antichrist, before the full blessing of the millennium comes in, is a most unnatural supposition; yet it seems inseparable from, and therefore destructive of, the system which interprets these days as so many years.

Divine Love in the Gospel and the Believer

The apostle in this part of the chapter returns to the great doctrine of the whole Epistle. It is not here so much the great work that sets the soul before God, but the truth we have when we are before God. We were before seeing the difference between Paul and John. While Paul sets the church as in Christ before God, opening out the counsels of grace, John brings out the nature of God in the saints. It is not so much the ground of that which brought the soul to God—righteousness (although he does speak of this too), but the character of the life that is communicated, the life which is in God the Father derived through the Son. It is first given in Christ and then to be manifested in the saints. The traits of God are brought out wholly in Christ but through the Christian, and this is what is particularly shown in John.
There is also another thing:—not only a nature and capacity to enjoy God, but the Holy Ghost dwelling in us gives us the power of enjoyment, that there may be no vacillation or uncertainty. He grounds the testimony on the public manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the capacity of enjoying the source of the life is by the power of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. God is love, and this is first openly seen at the cross of Christ; then in the new nature we have a capacity to enjoy that love. But the fear must be taken away, because fear has torment, and torment is not enjoyment; and thus he shows what removes the fear. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” If it be asked, How do you know God loves you? Oh! I reply, I have a certain and constant proof of this in the gift of His Son, and then besides that, I have the daily and hourly enjoyment of God as my Father, and I know it because I am enjoying it.
I may prove to another the love of God by certain acts, such as the gift of His Son, which is an open manifestation of God's love; but this does not take away from the daily enjoyment of God, the capacity for which I get in the new nature and by the power of the Spirit. It is remarkable to see how the apostle guards from mysticism by bringing the mind back to the plain statement of the gospel: “We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” In the seventh verse he begins by saying, “Beloved, let us love one another.” Here we have the love of God in exercise in the new nature; and the characteristic of this nature is to recognize it in another. If I have got this divine nature, I cannot but love it in another. I may have many prejudices to overcome, but there is the attractive power in the thing itself. I do not speak of it as a mere duty; it is there in the nature, and being divine it is much above angels, although they are higher as to creation. Nevertheless we need something more than the new nature, because it is a dependent nature, and therefore wants something else. Christ when down here lived a dependent life in one sense. (“I live by, or on account of, the Father.") The old man sets himself up and pretends to be independent, but all the while he is under the power of Satan.
But the new nature is a dependent nature, and says, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Life in Christ leans on God's power, and delights to do so. The Holy Ghost is the power: “strengthened with all might by the Spirit in the inner man,” and there is the full blessing, both in the individual and in the church of God. Although we have the new nature, we want also the power of the Holy Ghost to remove the obstacles to its display. Labor will not do. You may labor on the cold snow, but the sun must shine before it melts. So the Holy Ghost is needed to dissolve the thick ice of our hearts and melt away that which is in us to obstruct and hinder its fuller manifestation. “God is love, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.” When I have got this nature, I am born of God, I am brought into a position to refer everything up to God, for the nature we get from God has God for the object of that new nature to act upon; when I see the traits of this new nature, I say, He is born of God. I see love in natural affection, but here it is in a divine sense. In natural affection selfishness is the ground of it all, but in the saint he that loves is born of God. I see love in natural affection, but here it is in a divine sense. While selfishness is the spring of everything out of God, we find in a soul that is born of God another principle which takes a man clean out of himself. A man makes himself a fortune by some new invention that makes the world more comfortable, and what is this but selfishness? And all that gives an impulse to the progress of the world is selfishness. But here is the difference, because we are in a world where we all have to follow our various occupations and callings. In a Christian it is not selfishness, it is love; he is born of God, and love is the principle of God's nature. It may be very feeble in me, but am I to be satisfied that it should remain so? No; whatever is born of God came down from God, and returns to God again; therefore “Be ye imitators of God as dear children."
This perfect love came down from God that it might return to God again, for whom did Christ come to glorify in this but His Father? So all that Christ did returned to God a sweet-smelling savor, or else it would have been lost. There are many beautiful qualities in a creature of God, but do they return back to God again? No. Then it becomes sin. I get a good thing, I enjoy it and leave God out, and this is man's sin. There may be a great deal of selfishness under that which outwardly appears like liberality. And you will see a Christian help his brother and look up to God as doing it to God because He loves God; but if he helps him and says to himself, I have done well, it is not love, it is self-righteousness. The new nature has God for its source and God as its object; the new nature acts in us like God, so that others can see it, but then it knows God. “Every one that is born of God knoweth God,” and it is a great comfort to say in everything, I have found God knew.
Then mark, there is something else in verse 8: “He that loveth not; knoweth not God.” There is a knowledge of God. But, without the possession of the nature of God, there is no power to apprehend His love. You may see His works and say there must be a God, but is that knowing Him? I must have God's nature to know Him, because none can know love but by loving, and he who thus knows Him will apprehend Him. “In this was manifested the love of God towards us” This is no abstract notion about love; it is not said merely, “in this was manifested the love of God;” but, “In this was manifested the love of God towards us.” Man's mind cannot measure God. Mind can measure mind or thoughts, but mind cannot measure love, for love is only known by being loved. If man's mind was a competent judge of what God should be, God would not be God; and how must this love be found? In a most humbling way (and so much the better). The soul must come in as wanting this love; for if it can come in in any other way, it does not want God. The moment any soul finds its need of God, there and then God is waiting to meet its need. It was so in the case of the Syrophenician woman; and it brought forth that word of the Lord,” Ο woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” The great faith is knowing my great need and counting on God's power to meet it. It may be vague; it was so in the woman who came into the house; but still there was faith. When I find that manifested in God which meets my need and receive it as a poor needy one, that is faith. I never get into the place of God's meeting my need, till I know God is God and I am a sinner. When we are in our place, we shall find God acting towards us in His. When I am brought down to the sense that the only thing I have is sin, then God can act. “When we were without strength in due time, &c.” God acted in due time. God being the doer, He does it in the perfectness of His own love and time.
I can stand before God, and talk to sinners, and say, I know God in a way that angels do not know Him, “which things angels desire to look into” —God's love towards us. I do not say me, but us, taking all in who believe the love. That little word us, how it rings on our ears by the power of the Holy Ghost, putting me in the full consciousness of the favor of God towards us, that we might live through Him! It was manifested when we were dead. Not only was God's love manifested where it was needed, but at the time it was needed, when we were dead. Nothing of man was needed to add to the perfectness of this love and of its manifestation. If I examine my own heart I cannot find it out. I know more of God's heart than of my own, for mine is “deceitful above all things,” &c, and the best man upon earth will be the first to own this. But God has manifested His love. Not only is it there, but it is manifested. I do not get the full character of God to my soul till I see it in the cross, for what was in man was nothing but sin, and when that sin was met, there was none between God and His Son, and if He was alone in His work, this is a proof of what God has done in my circumstances of death. He sent His Son that I might live through Him, but, my sins being all put away, I see there is eternal life for me, and, He being the propitiation for sins, I find all mine are gone, and life is come in Christ for the believer.
After such manifestation of God's love, let us not be thinking of our love to God. Who am I that I should be coupling His love with mine? The moment I begin to think of my love to God, that moment it ceases, it is gone, like the manna that had worms and stank. Heaven will be when I have entirely forgotten myself and am filled with God. That very same love which will fill heaven was manifested in the cross. God's love is not exhausted, though my need may be and is great, and my failures many.
Verse 11. The apostle, having given us a proof of God's love, goes on to the exercise of it in us while down here. “If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another;” and this principle we find in other parts of the word. (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13.) I cannot know God by seeing Him, but (John 1:18) “The only begotten Son,” &c, the one who knew what God's love was, has told it out. The Son, who dwelt in the Father's bosom, who knew Him in the intimacy of a son, who enjoyed His love without alloy, He tells it to me as He knew and enjoyed it in Himself.
But in the Epistle of John he goes a step farther: it is communicated livingly to us, “true in him and in you.” “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us."
This is the source of it, the enjoyment is by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is not my love perfected in God, but His in me; and I know (being in Him that is infinite) that I can never get out of it. It is not that I am infinite, but that I am in Him who is so. “Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” Here it is communion, not merely power; the qualities of His nature are, as it were, wrought in me. Angels know not this joy! Why is this? Because they have not the Holy Ghost dwelling in them. But God has given us of His Spirit, because we are members of Christ, the fruit of the travail of His soul.
Verse 14. Observe how the apostle gets back to the person of the Son, but it is in a more advanced state of soul, as knowing Him who sent the Son. “We have seen and do testify.” It was a known and enjoyed love. While Paul gives us the church and the purposes and counsels of God, John speaks of the nature in which God dwells. And what is the effect of this? Worship! Because the highest thing we can enjoy is the knowledge of God, as the little hymn says, “What joy, twill be with Christ to reign.” Look at the scene in Revelation. God is on His throne and the elders are on thrones around. Can anything be higher than this? Yes! They fall down and worship before Him that sits upon the throne, and cast their crowns, &c.
So in the present life we see that, when the apostle realized the privilege of getting up to the Giver of all good and perfect gift, he returns to the very simplest truth, “the Father sent the Son, to be the Savior of the world.” Thus we see the saint who knows most of the heart of God the best evangelist. The fathers in Christ will be the most careful to take account of the weakest babe in Christ.
Oh, our littleness I our narrow hearts! Why have we difficulty in believing what He is? Just because it is so simple. May our hearts be like wax to receive the impress of Him every time He speaks to us, if we cannot learn all about Him at once.

Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Rom. 1:16
The apostle had met with many trials and difficulties; “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft!” &c. He had known privations more than most for the gospel's sake; yet he says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” There was an energy and a power in his own soul that brought home to his conscience the truth of what he was about, that amidst disagreeables made him bold to persevere, as he says, “I was bold at Philippi to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.” There is nothing more shameful in man's sense than to be beaten and flogged, but he says,” I am not ashamed.” The reason is that “it is the power of God."
The message that he carried about is what souls want—to be forgiven their sins and to be delivered from sin. It is a bitter and evil thing to forsake the living and true God; and this is what man has done and is doing. He is hewing out to himself broken cisterns that can hold no water; he seeks happiness, and, if he gets any signs, puts all into a broken pitcher. But sin stings like a viper in the end. This may be found out with sorrow and regret. Power against it is wanting. It is a sorrowful thing to see sin mastering a soul. Man is a slave of his own lusts, as well as of Satan. Sin is degrading, and for all that there is no power. Man is lying under it. A child may have been carefully guarded by a loving parent from the indulgence of its natural propensities; but what sorrow for the parent, when the guard is removed, to see them break out in full energy, the will at work and no power against sin! Unconverted persons know they love the things that are not of God. Whence does it all come? From a heart that is contrary to God—a nature at enmity with God. The heart loves the things that suit its own lusts. We all by nature turn away from God; and all are alike in this, those who have been most restrained by natural checks, and the most vicious; there may be least care about it in the least vicious, because a very vicious man would be glad to be out of the scrape.
When the prodigal left his father's house, he was as wicked as afterward; he was glad to get away from his father and to do his own will. There may be a desire to please the father from natural affection; but there is the wish to have the opportunity to do one's own will, and that was all the prodigal wished. What can we say of such a heart as that? The prodigal son was as guilty, though not so degraded, when he crossed his father's threshold as when eating husks in the far country.
Then there is another thing brought out in testifying of Christ to the sinner. Present Christ to the heart, is there any inclination for it? No; the mere absence from God makes a man set up for something in himself. When in His presence, man shrinks and would get behind a tree if he could, as Adam did. To get mercy from the grace of a Savior does not suit him. “I never transgressed.” There is the natural self-righteous man, whose pride makes him reject the presence of the father, and so puts him farther off than the vicious man, though both alike would be right glad to have nothing to say to God. And is there never to be any remedy? It is plainly shown now. Now there may be an end put to sin. There is a remedy given in the cross of Christ. The time is hastening when He will come as it were to see, and then execute judgment. When God left man to himself, in a sense, there must come the deluge. So afterward the land spews out the inhabitants thereof. Do you say the law of God is broken and it is no matter? God's authority is no matter? His power in government is no matter? His wrath must come. Is sin to go on and no wrath on God's part? The law to be broken and no wrath? The Son of man to be smitten and slain and no wrath? Impossible! Wrath must come against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of man. All had been done to try man when Christ died. “Now is the judgment of this world.” The very fact of the cross closes up the scene towards man as a sinner. The wrath is revealed from heaven (not as under the law, for He is not now come out of His place to punish): the very speaking of wrath thus beforehand is grace. It is not come, but plainly revealed that it will come. Are you then despising the warning of that wrath which is coming? Do you not know that you are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, not by committing the sin, but by rejecting the testimony of God's Son?
You all know (I speak to the unconverted) whether you have peace with God, whether you are in the state of the prodigal or the elder son, whether you are within or outside. God will not take your thoughts of yourself, but He will judge you by His thoughts of you—by the word Christ has spoken. You may think yourself all right as the elder son did; but God does not unless you have come within and are at peace with Him. See the activity of love to those to whom wrath is revealed. They are children of wrath, natural heirs of it; yet though the wrath is fully proved to be due and the vineyard given up, He sends His Son and shows grace to the sinner; He gives up seeking fruit and provides a marriage supper for His son, furnishing Himself everything that is needed. The prodigal was perishing. It is not only that there was a famine—the man feels and would get what he can; but he is perishing and nothing is to be got. Satan has not life to give in his country, though he may sell things to keep from dying. The world may get pleasures and vanities to feed its lusts, but nothing more.
You who are not converted, you who have not eternal life and are indifferent about it, you are totally away from God. You must be either indifferent or miserable, because you do not know that you have it. Whichever state you may be in, you are talking about something that we have and you have not. Yet the gospel of God is sent for you. The activity of God's own love was shown you when you cared nothing about it. If you struggle to get it, you will find it hard. Conscience cannot master itself. Conscience talks a good deal, and it talks to itself. When conscience is at work it feels that one ought to confess the evil, to judge oneself, not only the sin but the guilt. Conscience will say, I cannot get rid of this; and more, I do not wish to get rid of this. Conscience knows it should be in the presence of God, though the more it gets there the more terrible.
The gospel that is preached is what God has Himself done for you. A person may say, I must get power over my sin; but he cannot. He may seek the power, but he cannot do it himself. What can you do then? You must be brought to this—I can do nothing. The truth brings out what you are, and what you cannot do. In Rom. 7, it is not, How shall I get strength against myself—this “wretched man,” but, I want a Deliverer; not strength for tomorrow, but pardon for today (though I shall want that). You need mercy; and if you want anything else, you are not yet brought to own what you are. The gospel will give power, but first of all what is wanted is God's righteousness, and it is this which is revealed in it. Are you going to add to His righteousness? Has God only half met your need? He puts the soul as a sinner into His own presence, but reveals His own righteousness in the gospel to him that believes. He has met the poor prodigal all in his rags and He Himself has clothed him in Christ. I have nothing short of the righteousness of God. In learning this I have found God for me.
Thus another precious fact in Christ is come in—God must be and is love to have done this. I am accepted in the Beloved. There is abundant help given for living the life of the Christian; but we are now speaking of standing in the presence of God, with no sin to disturb His eye, and therefore I can stand in perfect rest before Him. His eye rests on Christ, who has perfectly glorified Him, and He is perfectly satisfied: His glory can ask nothing more. God is now glorifying Christ, and as a believer I can rest in conscience in His presence. It is all a settled and accepted work; and it is thus revealed on the principle of faith. So from Abel downwards all born of God have believed; and I too believe. Then can I add anything to Christ? No; I bow before Him. I believe in Him, and rest in Him. I cannot believe the gospel if the righteousness of God is not revealed in it. But as the gospel is true, so God's righteousness is perfect, and faith takes it as He gives it in full grace. Therefore the just shall live by faith.
Then God is for me; and what shall separate me from His love? I want spiritual strength; I need temporal mercies; hew shall I get them all? Because God is for me. He seals me by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost cannot seal the fruits without having produced them. We are sealed when we have believed. Those are sealed whose souls have bowed to Christ in God's presence, and to whom this righteousness has been revealed. Do you say that you are striving? Your striving will do nothing for you, unless it be to discover your powerlessness to you. You are one foot in and one out all the time, until you find yourself utterly needy and helpless. It is only God can attract the heart to receive that which the activity of His own love has provided.

The Gospel and the Church According to Scripture: 3

In the case of Cornelius, he received the Holy Ghost, God's proof that He would have him in His assembly, as formed down here, into which consequently Peter orders him to be admitted by baptism. Whether before or after, they are always distinct. So in Samaria they believed what Philip preached and were baptized. After that two of the apostles go down and pray that they may receive the Holy Ghost, for as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. So in Acts 19 twelve men, on Paul's instruction, were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied. Baptism and the reception of the Holy Ghost are distinct; and it is by the latter that believers are baptized into one body, which is a real union with Christ. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit,” by which we are members of His body, He being the Head.
I turn now to being born of God in baptism. This is equally unwarranted by scripture—nay, formally contradicted. “Of his own will,” says James, “begat he us, by the word of truth;” and Peter, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.” (1 Peter 1:23.) Paul tells us, “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15), and he was not sent to baptize—strange if men were born of God by it. He tells the Thessalonians God had chosen them to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, whereunto He called them by his gospel; and the Lord declares, “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.” I have quoted positive passages. He who keeps to the word will find it confirmed in every page.
But we will examine the passage which speaks of being born, as they allege, in baptism: John 3:5. It is only an effort to squeeze it out of the passage, for of baptism directly it does not speak. Further, it is well to remark that it is not said, born of the Spirit by, or with, water, but born of water and the Spirit. I have already said the apostles were never baptized (they were clean through the word spoken) nor is there the idea of communication of a nature by water. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The water is necessarily dropped here. (John 3:6.)
As a testimony of the extreme ignorance of Mr. Sadler as to scriptural truth, I would cite from page 54 the declaration that we find no allusion to such a use of water in the books of the Old Testament. This is a singular preoccupation of spirit. The Lord demands how Nicodemus, being a teacher of Israel, did not know this: the Old Testament, that is, furnished him fully with this truth. Let us turn to Ezek. 36:25: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh: and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them, and ye shall dwell in the land.....And I will call for the corn,” &c, dwelling on temporal promises to Israel in the last day, which last promises lead the Lord to say, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” and He goes on to the fuller doctrine of the cross, which involved the rejection of Messiah, and the impossibility of the present fulfillment of earthly promises.
This leads us at once to see what being born of water means; it is purifying from evil, sanctifying through the truth; and the Father's word is truth, that by which we are positively told by James we are begotten, born again, according to Peter, who distinctly says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit.” “Ye are clean,” says the Lord Himself, “through the word which I have spoken unto you;” so Paul, “that he might sanctify and cleanse it, by the washing of water by the word.” There are two things, and, to set Mr. Sadler quite at ease, at the same time communication of a new life or nature. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” and the purifying the soul by obeying the truth, for this birth is by the word, the incorruptible seed of God. The whole tenor of the Lord's statement contradicts the “church” doctrine. “The wind bloweth where it listeth. So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Whereas it is tied in that system to a formal rite, which all are bound by the system to carry out universally. Besides, it is the way of seeing the kingdom, as well as entering it, with the solemn statement of “Verily, verily.” Does baptism make people see it? Not now, for the child at any rate, to whom that system habitually applies it, does not see it at all; not the kingdom of glory, for they admit that many baptized never see that at all.
To a Jew, a rabbi, who looked for the kingdom of God, and had read Ezekiel, and looked for the kingdom according to that and other passages, the being born of water and the Spirit had the clearest and fullest signification. But nothing blinds like the church system. Speaking of the insignificance of water does not concern me, as I do not apply it to baptism by water at all. But this is a mistake, because baptisms by water were the universal figure for cleansing among the Jews, even with proselytes, at least women. All the rest of Mr. Sadler's statements have nothing to do with the matter; save that when he rejects believing as the way of being born, the scripture replies, “We are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus.” The word nowhere joins the Holy Ghost and water as baptism, as if the Holy Ghost acted in it and by it. It is always a distinct thing.
But further: baptism is not even a sign of the new birth, but of death. We are baptized to Christ's death. It is a figure of death and burial, as Rom. 6 and Col. 2 clearly testify, and hence is connected with remission of sins because (in coming up out of death—death with Christ, which is figured by it, and risen with Him) we come up forgiven all trespasses, as is said in Col. 2, and having, as to our profession, left the old man behind us, put off the old man, crucified with Him, reckoning ourselves dead.
And note, our resurrection with Christ is not the same as quickening. In resurrection Christ is viewed as a raised man. God raised Him from the dead, and us, for faith, with Him. But we are baptized to His death. I go down there into His death, and am raised with Him, “through faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.” It is not the Son quickening whom He will, nor pimply our being born, but Christ a dead man raised, which implies the remission of sins for those who have part in His death, buried with Him, and consequently to walk in newness of life, reckoning oneself dead to sin, and alive to God in Him.
What Mr. Sadler says as to Ephesians is a mistake. Church union with Christ is not the only or great subject of the epistle, doctrinal or hortatory. You do not come to it till the very end of the first chapter. All the previous part, our calling and inheritance, is based on our relationship with the Father, and being in the same place as Christ, as to this, as sons. In the hortatory part we are to be followers (μιμηται) of God as dear children, and walk like Christ. In our relationship with Christ, it is with Him as man, whom God has raised. Then the body, and our quickening with Him, is spoken of. There is no reference to this relationship in the hortatory part, except in speaking of husband and wife.
Now as to other passages connected with baptism, the “church principle” gives remission of sins by it regularly, when the person has committed none. So that the application of all this is singular enough in this system. A heathen or a Jew, baptized to Christ, does, I doubt not, receive administratively forgiveness of all past sins—I believe a great deal more in connection with Christ's death (a believer, as to his conscience, is perfected forever), but I believe that he comes in as one who has died with Christ, and left all the old things behind him—is indeed as a risen man.
But we must consider the passages, which are of great importance in their place. We are all baptized to (never into) something, as “to Moses,” “to John's baptism,” where it is the same word; and where it is said, “baptized to,” or “for, the remission of sins,” it is that which is the portion given in Christ, and we come to partake of it, just as we do to have death to sin; where a person has been a sinner, he receives it, as to all he had done, in it. Baptism is that by which we are introduced into the enclosure in which God has set His blessings administratively on earth, though He be sovereign. There is forgiveness there, the Holy Ghost there, the administration of all God's blessings down here. On entering, I enter into the condition and place where these blessings are enjoyed. Hence we find, washing away sins, the consequent receiving of the Holy Ghost, indeed every blessing, in Christ, as far as they exist down here, connected with it. But no one, save those blinded by “church principles,” could, as having read the scriptures, ascribe operatively and effectually to baptism the possession of these privileges. The blood of Christ, and nothing else, washes away our sins before God; but I come professedly to Christ in baptism, in whom and where this blessing is. It is the admission into the open confession of His name and death, and, in a certain measure, resurrection. Hence, guarding it where he says it saves, Peter says, “not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer (request, ἐπερώτημα) of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
As to being born in it, such a thought is never found. Regeneration is connected with it in Titus, and modern language has connected that word with being born again. It is only found in one other place in scripture. “In the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory” —the millennial earth, a new state or order of things. Thus Peter, when he speaks of saving us, is referring expressly to Noah, who came through the flood, which was death to the old world, into a new one, and was buoyed up by that which was death to them, into that new one—was saved by or through water; so we, seeking a good conscience, find it in Christ's death, brought safe with Him into the new place of resurrection. I believe regeneration in Titus refers to baptism as a sign of this. But we are washed by passing out of the old condition of heathenism, or Judaism, or fleshly life in any sense, into the new state of things, which is, where real, a new creation altogether, of which we are thus—professedly at any rate—partakers. But then Paul carefully distinguishes this from the renewing of the Holy Ghost. I have no doubt he is thinking of the regeneration as a real thing, but not as the renewing of the Holy Ghost as an actual inward work. It is a change of state and position, the renewing an actual internal work. This is never connected with baptism.
I have spoken of Acts 2:38, and of Acts 22:16. Eph. 5:26 has, on the face of it, nothing to do with the matter; the washing is by the word. Mark 16:16 brings in faith on preaching. Now, if a heathen believed Jesus was Son of God, and refused to be baptized, he refused to be a Christian when he knew he ought; for him it was refusing to confess unto salvation. It has nothing to do with any efficacy in baptism. (Titus 3:5 Peter 3:2.) I have spoken of Rom. 6:14 and of Col. 2:12. To say that being baptized to Christ's death is being born of God is as absurd as to the meaning of the rite, as it is groundless. That death is the force and meaning of the rite is quite true, and it is so used by the apostle; but it has nothing to do with any inward work, or being born again.
On Gal. 3 (p. 58) also I have spoken. Rom. 6 and Col. 2 are both used as public profession; Romans, as showing that living on in sin denied it: Colossians, that this profession of being dead subverted the religion of ordinances, which Mr. Sadler is insisting on. We are no longer alive in the world in Colossians, we are dead to sin in Romans. The conclusion Mr. Sadler draws from the passage in Romans, in page 56, is exactly the contrary of that drawn by the apostle. The difficulty was, if one man's obedience made us righteous, we might continue to live in sin. How shall we that have died to sin live in it any longer? And that is what you did professedly, he goes on to say, in baptism; you were baptized to Christ's death. You are denying your profession of Christ by such an argument.
As to Col. 3:1-10, it is not “yet” (p. 67), but “because,” and the passage proves the contrary of what it is cited for. If I am risen with Christ, I have power, and am to mortify these evil members—for he will not recognize the Christian as having his life in this world; he is professedly dead and risen with Christ.
What Paul is showing in 1 Cor. 10 is that, belonging sacramentally to the church, taking in both sacraments, did not secure salvation, which I wholly accept. It was a professed deliverance out of the world, but not the new birth. In Jude he shows the same thing, they had an outward deliverance, like Israel, but, he adds, not having believed, and we are children of God by faith, He afterward destroyed them. This is a poor argument for the value of baptism, and note, saving out of Egypt has nothing to do with personal or eternal salvation. It was the deliverance of a people, a change of situation; which is just what baptism effects, not involving any real change or internal salvation at all. And so both the passages declare: a very necessary warning when such a book as Mr. Sadler's is written.
It is perfectly true that in his epistles to the various churches the apostle treats those to whom he writes as saints; not indeed on the ground that Mr. Sadler puts it, but on the solid ground of God's work—on that of real faith—as I shall show. In the Galatians alone he speaks doubtfully in one passage, but recovers his confidence in the next chapter. And observing days, and months, and years, was one great cause of his doubts—the Judaism Mr. Sadler recommends. (Gal. 4:10, 11-20.) He recovers his confidence, looking to the Lord. (Chap. 5:10) He anxiously warns the Corinthians, but is not in doubt of their real Christianity. Brought out of heathenism by the word and Spirit of God, and passing by baptism formally, as Mr. Sadler says, into God's established place of blessing, the apostle treats them as real Christians, but on the ground of their real faith, never on the ground of a fancied work in baptism. He does show in two instances what baptism implied in the Christian (Rom. 6; Col. 1), but never as the ground of addressing them as saints. When he does in this way refer to it, it is to warn them not to deceive themselves by such a thought. (1 Cor. 10) Let us see this.
In Rom. 1:7 they are saints by God's calling, and (ver. 8) he thanks God for them all that their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world. He Sought to be comforted by their mutual faith.
The church of God at Corinth were saints by God's calling, sanctified in Christ Jesus. The formal profession id even distinguished as those who everywhere called on the name of the Lord, though treating them as true, unless proved otherwise; and, so far from not esteeming them as real saints, he declares that God would confirm them to the end, so that they should be blame, less in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. God had called them into the fellowship of His Son, and He was faithful. The worst among them turned out in fact, sad as his conduct was, a real Christian, and was restored. Accustomed to heathen habits, they had everything to learn morally. Indeed, as we read in the Acts, God had a great people in this notably corrupt city. In those days dissipation in sin was called Corinthianizing. In the second epistle, they, being restored in state by his first, he speaks of them with full confidence, “having confidence in you all.” (Chap. 2:3) Titus's spirit had been refreshed by them all. His boasting of them was found to be a truth. The whole epistle shows his confidence in the reality of their Christianity. In chapter 12 he is afraid he may have to use sharpness as to some who might have sinned, but of their true Christianity no doubt.
Of the Gal. 1 have spoken. There for a moment he stood in doubt. But this proves what I am saying, and that Mr. Sadler is all wrong. For they had been all baptized like all the rest. It was their actual state which raised the question, though they had been, and when that was turning from the truth, their baptism availed nothing as to their being treated as saints. “Ye did run well: who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth?” Nor does he therefore boldly call them saints at the beginning, though in looking to Christ he regained his confidence. Their baptism did not suffice for this.
In Ephesians there is no doubt. They were not only saints, but faithful in Christ Jesus; but here the apostle distinguishes between one Spirit, one body, and one hope of our calling; and one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. The latter as public profession. But of the Ephesians he affirms that they were quickened of God, when dead in trespasses and sins. They had been sealed after believing. His address is not founded on their baptism, but on their faith. Every verse of the Epistle bears testimony to it. The church is one which Christ has loved, sanctified by the word, and will present glorious to Himself: one was as true as the other, His loving, sanctifying, and presenting glorious to Himself.
The Philippians gives the same testimony—that he looked to a real work. He was thankful for their fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He that had begun a good work would perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ. He writes to them on the ground of true faith and grace, not on that of baptism, assured moreover that the work would go on to the day of Jesus Christ.
In Colossians “faithful brethren” is again added. And what was the ground of his writing? He had heard of their faith in Christ Jesus, and their love to all the saints. It was reality, not baptism. They too had been dead in their sins, and God had quickened them with Christ and forgiven them all their trespasses. Would Mr. Sadler say tins to all his congregation, and, as Paul to the Corinthians, that God would confirm them unto the end? and to the Philippians, that He who had begun a good work in them would perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ—that they were all complete in Christ? or with Ephesians, that the same power had wrought in them which had raised Christ from the dead and set Him at God's right hand? He knows he would not; his whole theory is false and delusive. Preach to them as baptized, and not as heathen—all well and right. But the Epistles go on the ground of real Christianity in the soul.
With the Thessalonians, he knew not their baptism but their election of God, because his gospel had come to them, not in word only but in power and in the Holy Ghost; so that they were ensamples, and so spoken of that he needed not say anything. The word worked effectually in them; they were his hope and joy and crown, when Christ came. In the Second, their faith grew exceedingly, and the love of every one of them all towards each other abounded.
Of Timothy, Titus, and Philem. 1:1, 1 have no need to speak; they were individually known and chosen brethren.
The whole thing is an awful delusion, which the reading of the Epistles exposes at once, in its bare nakedness and soul-deceiving character. But we have an Epistle which speaks of the converse of this, and, if possible, proves more strongly, because negatively, what I say. The church was soon corrupted.
Jude tells us that false brethren had crept in unawares. Who could creep in unawares to Mr. Sadler's system? Baptized, no doubt, but crept in, and unawares, but showing distinctly that, where they were not real saints, they were not recognized as saints on the ground of baptism indiscriminately, but detected as having no business there. They had crept in unawares, spots in their love feasts, feeing themselves without fear. If Mr. Sadler's theory were right, why not address them as saints, like all the rest, by baptism?
Peter equally takes the ground of true saints, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, and declares they were kept by the power of God, through faith, to the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. They had purified their souls in obeying the truth. Christ was precious to them. In the Second Epistle he stirs up their pure minds by way of remembrance. The other Epistles are more treatises, not addressed formally to Christians.
Only that in John some had gone out that it might be manifested they were not all of them. They had slipped in undetected, but were manifested as “not of us.” God did not allow them to remain: if of them, they would have continued, showing clearly what “of us” means. But baptism is never laid as the ground of addressing saints as such, but faith and being obedient to the truth: in a word, being Christians in truth, though some false brethren began to creep in unawares.
I conclude then that (while baptism was the public and outward admission into the Christian assembly, as formed on earth, and so to its privileges here, and so formally to the remission of sins, which was found there, and hence, when sins were already committed, their remission received administratively, and men passed into a new place and position, being accounted to have wholly left in Christ's death, to which men were baptized, their old standing) it is not being born again at all according to John 3, it has nothing good or had to do with being a member of Christ's body, nor was it any way receiving the Holy Ghost, which is always carefully distinguished from it. It is not receiving life, not being made a member of Christ's body, not receiving the Holy Ghost. The whole theory is anti-scriptural as to the meaning and import of baptism, as well as to any fancied actual efficacy.
I now turn to the scriptural view of the church or assembly of God. It is formed, we have seen, by the descent of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is given to believers as a seal on God's part of their faith, by reason of their being cleansed by the blood of Christ. They are sealed to the day of redemption. The effect of this in the individual, though full of blessing, and as important as the others of which we shall speak, is not our subject now. But the result, as stated in scripture, as to the assembly, is that it is the body of Christ, each individual who is thus sealed being united to Christ the Head, and a member individually of His body; all thus sealed constituting His body. This, though it will be perfected as a whole in glory, is constituted on earth; for the Holy Ghost has come down here consequent on the Head being a Man exalted to the right hand of God. This may be seen in Eph. 1:19-23, as it is in the counsels of God; and in 1 Cor. 12 as in fact down here.
But there is another aspect of the assembly, the house of God: only we must remark that the body of Christ exists by true union with Christ by the Holy Ghost. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit,” and “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” If he be thus united to Christ, it is a real thing. “If Christ be in you,” says the apostle. People have taken the Spirit of Christ here to be a temper or state; but the words cited which follow show at once the fallacy of this. “If Christ be in you” is the sense the Holy Ghost puts upon it. Eph. 5 clearly shows what this body is—the bride of Christ. It is what Christ loved, and which He will present to Himself, as God presented Eve to Adam. It is no doubt established on earth, because the Holy Ghost is come down to earth, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost took place then; but it is real—if one member suffers, all suffer with it; if one rejoice, all rejoice with it. We are members one of another. Of this the Lord's supper is the symbol and the outward bond. (1 Cor. 10:17.) Baptism with water is not what makes us members.
But I now turn to the house. God's dwelling amongst men is a great truth, and the consequence of redemption. He did not dwell with Adam innocent; He did not dwell with Abraham. But as soon as Israel was redeemed out of Egypt, though by an external redemption, He came to dwell among them in the Shechinah of glory. We read in Ex. 29, “They shall know that I Jehovah their God have brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them.” Consequent on a true eternal redemption, Christ as man being at the right hand of God, the Holy Ghost comes down, making the assembly His dwelling place. But here we have to look at the house, as scripture presents it to us, in two distinct ways; according to the purpose of God, and indeed as founded by Him on earth; and as administered by man responsibly.
According to the purpose of God, it is not yet complete. The Lord says, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is not yet complete. At least, we trust that souls will be yet converted. God is not slack concerning His promise, but longsuffering. So Peter: “To whom coming as unto a living stone... ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house.” (1 Peter 2:4, 5.) So in Eph. 2:21: “In whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” Here, in the first case, the Lord Himself builds, in the others no instrumentality is spoken of; the living stones come, the building grows, to a holy temple. This is the Lord's work and it cannot fail, and the stones are living stones, built on Christ the living Stone. It may be visible, as it was at the beginning; or invisible, as it has become through man's sin. But the Lord builds His temple, and that cannot fail, and His work cannot be frustrated.
But the external body, as a house and temple down here, in which we are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit, has been entrusted to the responsibility of men, as everything has to begin with. “As a wise master builder,” says Paul, “I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” Here is man's responsibility. Wood and hay and stubble may be built into the house. Till God judges it, it is the temple of God, as the Lord calls the temple His Father's house, though it was made a den of thieves. We have instruction how to conduct ourselves in a state of things which, in its hidden germ, began in the apostles' day. Where there is the form of godliness, denying the power of it, we are to turn away; to purge ourselves from the vessels to dishonor. In the beginning it could be said, The Lord added daily such as should be saved, and that visibly. Now we say, “The Lord knoweth them that are His;” and “every one that nameth the name of Lord” must “depart from iniquity.” The wolf may catch and scatter the sheep, but cannot pluck them out of the Savior's hand.
The mystery of iniquity wrought in the apostles' days. All, at the end of his career, sought “their own, not the things of Jesus Christ;” and he knew that after his decease, the barrier gone, grievous wolves would enter in, and from within men arise speaking perverse things to draw the disciples after them. Jude tells us that false brethren had already crept in unawares, and these, we learn from him, were the class who would be judged by Christ at His coming. And John tells us that the last times were already there, manifested by apostates. The church then, as God's house, might be largely composed of what would be burned up—wood, and hay, and stubble. But when this was so, when there was a form of godliness and the power denied, from such true Christians were to turn away, and walk with those who called on the name of the Lord out of a pure heart. True saints would be hidden, or might be, so that we could only say, the Lord knows them that are His. But there are explicit directions what to do when this is the case—turn away from them. The church could have no authority, for Christians were called upon to listen to Christ's judgment of it. See the seven churches. Jezebel would be its teacher, the mother of its children; and from its lukewarmness it would be spewed out of Christ's mouth. And the apostle in 2 Tim. 3, when the perilous times of the last days should be come, refers to the scriptures as able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. When the church would be a false and insecure guide (having the form of godliness, denying the power of it), the believer is referred to the scriptures as a secure one, and called on authoritatively to listen to and hear the Spirit's judgment of the church.
(To be continued)

Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose - 16

The Epistle to Ephesians thus shows this new man complete, as seen in its Head in heaven, perfect after His perfection, and urges to corresponding walk down here. The Philippians takes it up here, and contemplates it going on to completeness in the day when the Head is revealed, though the connection is not seen, but the result only manifested. In Ephesians it is love from the Head working in the body, which is therefore complete in Him, according to the power working in it. In Philippians it is love in the members working out likeness to the Head, in fruit of righteousness, pledged to completeness in the day of Christ, since God had begun the work, and the power was of Him. The exhortation, therefore, proceeds from the fact that all have a mutual source of comfort, consolation, fellowship, and affection, and therefore should think the same thing, have the same love, be joined in soul, doing all things in lowliness of mind, after the example of their Head, who once took a bondsman form—the likeness of men—and became obedient unto the death of the cross, but now is highly exalted, with a name above every name—the name of Jesus—at which every knee of heavenly, earthly, or infernal beings shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to God the Father's glory. In chapter 3 is a man possessing perfectly all the outward qualifications of a Jew, counting all that, and everything else, loss and filth, that he might gain Christ, and be like Him; the measure and the power of separation from every earthly thing, whether religious or fleshly, being the cross of Christ, through which we are brought into the commonwealth in the heavens, from which we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory. In Ephesians Christ in love delivers Himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savor. In Philippians, love working in the body presents an odor of sweet savor, an acceptable sacrifice, agreeable to God. In Ephesians the Head is seen in heaven, and the body perfected in Him. In Philippians the body is seen on earth, and the Head working out perfect results in it. In Colossians we see the body on earth linked to the Head in heaven, needing the full knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, in order to walk worthily of the Lord, unto all well pleasing; fruit bearing, and growing, being strengthened unto all endurance and longsuffering, giving thanks to the Father, who has delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, who is image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation, all things being created by Him and for Him; before all, upholding all, the Head of the body, the beginning, firstborn from among the dead, having first place in all things, since all things are reconciled by the blood of His cross, whether things on the earth or in the heavens.
In Ephesians the mystery is Christ Jesus in heaven, and Jew and Gentile made joint-heirs, and a joint body, and joint-partakers in Him. In Colossians it is this body on earth, the assembly, and Christ in them, the hope of glory. Therefore, as they have received Christ Jesus the Lord, the exhortation is to walk in Him, seeing that in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and they are filled full in Him. Therefore have no part in anything else, being buried with Him, raised with Him. Once dead in offenses and uncircumcision, now quickened, offenses being forgiven, and all ordinances taken out of the way. For them, therefore, all earthly connection is forever severed, Christ, the Head in the glory, being the measure of the separation of the body on earth. From all earthly religion, from all fleshly sin, and every circumstance and relationship being now undertaken, in the power of a life in the glory. All resulting to the believer from the cession of Christ in the glory, as Head of His body, the assembly.
The first period of witness deals, therefore, with the death of Christ, and its results to the believer, obliterating every former thing, Himself the sole object of hope Romans, Galatians, Thessalonians.
The second period takes up the resurrection of Christ, who gives to His gathered ones down here a life raised from out of the dead; thus they belong to a new creation, old things having passed away, and all things become new, these new things being all of God. 1, and 2 Corinthians.
The third period shows Christ in the glory, working in the power of His glorified life, in His separated ones down here, livingly united to Him, and responsible as a body to the Head to walk here according to Him. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians: the witness to the Jew having thus finally closed, and judgment waiting only until the cup of their iniquity was filled up, the Gentile now comes prominently upon the scene as the object of the testimony of God; and so long as the effect was only seen in the bringing of light, life, and peace, where darkness, death, and discord had formerly reigned, the word of the Lord increased and prevailed, but immediately it was found to touch the pocket, to threaten the loss of their idol making trade, then at once bursts forth the spirit of covetousness, which is idolatry, in railing against Paul and his doctrine. This is the first occasion recorded in which the issue is plainly put before men, as such, whether they will serve God or mammon. In every way the word of the glad tidings had commended itself to the consciences of men; it had been a word of peace and blessing; for not only did it declare the way of peace, a so great salvation, but God besides bore witness with signs and wonders, and acts of power and healings, so that all Asia heard the word of the Lord, and fear fell on all who inhabited Ephesus, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
(To be continued)

The Record and Christian Standard

Under the head of “The Mildmay Hall Annual Conferences,” these two journals venture to circulate, what a correspondent justly calls, an outrageous libel. They speak of threats issued against Dr. H. Bonar and the eight who censured Mr. Pearsall Smith by “Plymouth Brethren of the Darby School.” How is it that these journalists are so rash and abusive? The persons they accuse rightly or wrongly are as opposed to us as themselves. As against “Darbyites,” as they style us, there is not one word of truth in the charge. Will they never learn to inquire before they speak, and speak injuriously? No man of weight among us goes to Mildmay, and we have always rejected Mr. Pearsall Smith's views no less than Dr. Bonar's.

Errata

On page 99, ten lines from bottom, in text, read relegated for delegated.
On page 101, six lines from bottom, read, “And Peter surely, by what he wrote (2 Peter 1:15), had not viewed the Lord's answer to him in the same light as Mr. Govett regards it. (Page 52,1 Apostolic teaching, then, lends no countenance to the supposition of the rise of new apostles, by whom the gift of the Spirit, or His gifts, would be conferred on believers.
Nor is there so much as a hint in the Lord's addresses to the seven churches, delivered when most, if not all, the apostles, &c."

A Few Words on Elijah

1 Kings 17-20
These chapters set before us several important principles; and we see there pointed out several very different characters; we learn in them also the ways of God.
Ahab and Jezebel appear on the scene; Elijah prophesies; Obadiah is seen and the seven thousand men of God mentioned in chapter 19:18.
The character of Ahab is presented to us in chapter 16:29-83. Ahab, Jezebel, and the four hundred and fifty prophets were at the head of the apostates of Israel who at that time worshipped Baal. And Obadiah and the seven thousand were mixed up with the people (chap, 18); not that they served the idol, but they were friends of Ahab. As for Elijah, he was the friend of God, and, separated entirely from the apostasy, he was the only witness of the truth in the midst of all the evil.
Let us distinguish then these three different classes of persons: Ahab and Israel, apostates on one side; Elijah, on the other, the faithful servant of God; and again, somewhat different, Obadiah and the seven thousand connected always with the evil. Now let us examine the different characters of these persons.
What were the circumstances of Elijah? This feeble and poor man had no force and strength save what he found in the Lord, his only support. (Chap. 17:19) He was a man of faith and prayer; and, keeping before the Lord, he could boldly testify against the apostasy of Israel and denounce the judgments of God.
It is said to him (chap. 17:3), “Get thee hence and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith that is before Jordan;” then in verse 5 we read that he obeyed this command. We see already then that Elijah had no power, but had faith in God and knew that all blessing is in obedience. Also from the moment that the word was addressed to him, he submitted to it and went to the brook Cherith where he learned to depend on God.
Ahab and all Israel were the enemies of Elijah (chap 18:10); but God was his friend, and in each step that he took in fidelity to the Lord he learned the fidelity of the Lord to him. By this means he was more and more strengthened for the mission on which he was about to be employed. (Chap, 18:1) God sent him to be with a poor widow who entertained him during the famine, after he was fed by the ravens at Cherith. During all the time that he was cared for by the ravens at the brook, and by the widow at Sarepta, he learned to know the riches of the love and grace of God. It is there precisely that we learn to know ourselves also in all the circumstances in which we are placed by the Lord.
We see then in chapter 17 the simple and entire obedience of Elijah. Whether the Lord sent him to a brook to be fed by ravens; whether he was sent to a widow during the famine; whether he was sent before his real enemy Ahab (chap, 18), he made no objection, but counting on the Lord he did that which he was ordered. He was nevertheless a man subject to the same passions and to the same infirmities as ourselves (James 5:17, 18); but he had much of that faith the power of which is infinite. By it he could say that there should be no rain, and there was none; by it he could raise the son of the widow, and overcome Ahab the king, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. These circumstances show us clearly that Elijah was in the place where one is blessed, namely, in that of obedience. Men were his enemies; Ahab had sent everywhere persons to find him out; but the Lord was his refuge, and he had learned to trust in Him.
Let us examine now what concerns Obadiah. (Chap, 18:8, &c.) He feared the Lord greatly, but, spite of that, he was in the service of Ahab's house and did not bear testimony against its evil. He did not suffer the reproach of Christ. He was not like Elijah, pursued and chased from country to country. He did not know what it was to be fed by the ravens or the widow; that is to say, he lived little by faith and knew little of the ways of God. He lived at his ease in the midst of the world. Ahab was his lord. But who was Elijah's? Jehovah. (Compare chap, 18:10 and 15.) Oh, what a difference! Obadiah knew the good things of the earth; Elijah, the good things of heaven.
Let us read now verses 7-11. All the thoughts of Obadiah were about his master, whom he dreaded; but all the thoughts of Elijah were centered on the Lord, his only Master. The superiority of his position to that of Obadiah is further indicated by this circumstance, that the latter fell on his face before Elijah when he met him. (Ver. 7.) And when Elijah tells him to go and announce to Ahab, Obadiah is all frightened. Yet Obadiah was a child of God; he had even hid the prophets; but he had no strength whatever to bear testimony to the Lord, because he was associated with evil. As to Elijah, he could say fearlessly to Ahab and to all the people, “If the Lord be God, follow him.” (Ver. 21.) Whence did, therefore, this boldness and power come, as seen in Elijah, a poor and weak man, who had been straitened to this point, that he depended upon ravens and upon a widow for his food? From the fact that he stood aloof from the apostasy, that he lived by faith and had a single eye fixed upon his God. Oh! how far better his position was than that of Obadiah.
There is in these things an application for us to make to ourselves. Let us gather from them this lesson, that since the Lord is God, it is He whom we must serve, and that in order to be faithful to Him, we have to separate ourselves from all the principles of the apostasy by which we are surrounded.
We know how Elijah triumphed over his enemies; there is therefore no need of repeating the issue of the scene on Carmel; but let us observe that when Elijah prayed the Lord that He might give him the victory, what he asked was, that it might be known that the Lord was God. (Ver. 37.) All the desire of his heart consisted in these two things, that the Lord might be glorified, and that His people might know Him. There was not in him the least desire to lift himself up, to exalt himself; it mattered not to him if he was nothing, provided that God might be glorified and His people brought to know Him. Oh! that the same desire might be in us and that all thought of vainglory may be cast far, far away.
Let us now read chapter xix. Poor Elijah! he had a lesson to learn, which we ourselves, weak and poor as he was, need to learn also. When Elijah stood before the Lord, he could by the Lord's power stop or send rain to the earth, raise up the widow's son, &c. But when he stood, not now before the Lord, but before Jezebel, he was then without strength, and this ungodly woman was able to cause him to fear. Downcast, Elijah therefore goes into the wilderness, sits down under a juniper tree and asks the Lord to take away his life. (Ver. 4.) How different he is here from what he was in the chapter before! How little did he remember what the Lord had done for him; how little did he have the mind of God, and did he expect that chariot of fire which would shortly take him up to heaven! (2 Kings 2:11.)
So is it with us. We are downcast, discouraged and weak in ourselves as soon as we fail to live in faith and prayer, and that we cannot say, as Elijah in chapter 18, “The Lord before whom I stand."
In chapter 17 Elijah by faith could make the widow's oil and meal last; but here he is weak and needs that an angel come to strengthen him and give him some food. (Read chap. 19:5-8) He eats, drinks, and like a man without strength lies down. But the Lord sends the angel back again, for He is plentiful in grace and mercy; He watches over all our ways and feeds our souls according to all our wants and according to all our circumstances. The Lord therefore bore with Elijah and succored him, and it is also what He is with respect to us. As He was afflicted in all the affliction of His people, so is He with us in ours now. (Isa. 63:9.)
In chapter 17 God was leading Elijah and telling him where to go, and Elijah obeyed. But in chapter 19 Elijah, fearing Jezebel, flees away and does not wait for the Lord's commandment to go into the wilderness. Se therefore what a sad message is sent to him, as recorded in verse 18, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” In verses 11 and 12 we read that a wind, an earthquake, and a fire are sent; but Elijah did not find the Lord in these things, and they could not bring comfort nor strength to his soul. God was appearing in His grandeur and power; but what Elijah needed was the still small voice, what he wanted was the manifestation of grace, and communion with his God. When, therefore, Elija