Bible Treasury: Volume 12

Table of Contents

1. Absent From the Body-Present With the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:8.
2. Notes on 2 Corinthians 2:12-17
3. Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6
4. Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:7-11
5. Notes on 2 Corinthians: 3:12-16
6. Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
7. Notes on 2 Corinthians: 5:4-5
8. Reading on 1 Peter 1; 2: Part 2
9. To Correspondents.
10. Conscience.
11. Notes on Job 38:1-33
12. Notes on Job 42
13. Notes on John: 14:1-4
14. Notes on John 14:5-12
15. The Holy Ghost in Person
16. The Church of God, and the Two or Three Gathered Together in My Name.
17. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ?????? and ???? AS USED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
18. From Troas to Miletus
19. The Book of Joshua, and The Epistle to the Hebrews. 1.
20. Notes on Matthew 22
21. The Lord's Table, and Its Place in the Church
22. Notes on Job 28
23. The Closing History of the Lord and of Paul
24. Fragment: 2 Corinthians 5:14
25. Fragment: Didaktikos
26. Thoughts on Isaiah 7-9
27. Divine Life
28. Notes on John 13:1-5
29. I and We in 1 and 2 Corinthians
30. Notes on 2 Corinthians: Introduction
31. Testimony of Peter and John Compared With Paul's
32. The Day of Atonement: Leviticus 16
33. Life by the Word
34. Notes on Job 29
35. Notes on Matthew 16-17
36. Notes on John 13:6-11
37. Notes on 2 Corinthians 1:1-7
38. Epistles of Paul
39. Fragment: God's Promises
40. Fragment: The Spirit's Guiding in What We Say
41. The Gospel of God
42. John 1-3
43. Deliverance: Part 1
44. Notes on Job 30
45. Notes on Matthew 18
46. Notes on John 13:12-17
47. The Truth
48. Notes on 2 Corinthians 1:8-14
49. Deliverance: Part 2
50. Thoughts on the Atonement
51. Righteousness and Peace: Part 1
52. Letter on Hebrews 10:2
53. Notes on Job 31
54. Notes on John 13:18-22
55. Notes on 2 Corinthians 1:15-20
56. Discourses on Colossians 2: Part 1
57. The Bible and Its Critics
58. The Sea and the Song
59. Righteousness and Peace: Part 2
60. Pauline Greeting
61. Difference of Romans 12 and Ephesians 5
62. Deuteronomy
63. Notes on Job 32-33
64. Notes on John 13:23-30
65. Notes on 2 Corinthians 1:21-24
66. Discourses on Colossians 3
67. The Unsearchable Riches of Christ
68. All of One
69. Righteousness and Peace: Part 3
70. Notes on Job 34
71. Notes on John 13:31-32
72. Notes on 2 Corinthians 2:1-4
73. Discourses on Colossians 2: Part 2
74. The Beginning of the Creation of God
75. In Christ and the Flesh in Us: Part 1
76. The Rest of God
77. On the Greek Words for Eternity and Eternal
78. Notes on Job 35
79. Notes on Matthew 19
80. Notes on John 13:33-38
81. Notes on 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
82. God's Purposes
83. Discourses on Colossians 1
84. In Christ and the Flesh in Us: Part 2
85. Two Sticks: 1 Kings 18:12
86. Watchman, What of the Night? Part 1
87. Science and Scripture
88. Notes on Job 36-37
89. Notes on Matthew 20
90. Judas, Not Iscariot
91. Watchman, What of the Night? Part 2
92. Thoughts on John 20
93. Two Greek Words Translated as House
94. Notes on Job 38-39
95. Colossians 1
96. Watchman, What of the Night? Part 3
97. Conversion and Salvation
98. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Breaking of Bread
99. 1 Corinthians 5
100. Notes on Matthew 21
101. Notes on John 14:13-19
102. Christ in Heaven and the Holy Spirit Sent Down
103. The Heavenly and His Heavenly Ones: 1 Cor. 15:46
104. On War
105. Scripture Queries and Answers: Giving Thanks to the Father
106. To Correspondents: 1 Corinthians 5
107. Notes on Job 40-41
108. Notes on John 14:20-24
109. A Letter on Separation
110. To Correspondents
111. Notes on John 14:25-31
112. Wherefore Comfort One Another With These Words
113. ?The Book of Joshua? and ?The Epistle to the Hebrews? Part 2
114. To Correspondents: Letter on Separation
115. Notes on Genesis 1-3
116. Notes on John 15:1-4
117. Notes on 2 Corinthians 4:1-4
118. ?The Book of Joshua? and ?The Epistle to the Hebrews? Part 3
119. Saul and David: 1. The Responsible Man and the Man of God's Choice
120. Saul and David: 2. The Responsible Man and the Man of God's Choice
121. Letter as to the Principles of Gathering
122. ?The Book of Joshua? and ?The Epistle to the Hebrews? Part 4
123. Notes on John 15:5-8
124. Notes on 2 Corinthians 4:5-6
125. The Law and the Gospel of the Glory of Christ
126. The Penalty Paid and Sins Forgiven
127. Saul and David 3.
128. Notes on John 15:9-11
129. Notes on 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
130. Thoughts on Hebrews 11
131. From Antioch and Back to Antioch: Acts 13, 14
132. Affection and Consecration
133. The Oneness of the Church
134. Penalty Paid, Sins Forgiven, and the Debt Cancelled
135. Notes on Matthew 23
136. Notes on John 15:12-17
137. Notes on 2 Corinthians 4:12-15
138. Paul at Philippi
139. Fellowship, Not Independency: Part 1
140. ?Neutrality? Its Value in the Things of God Briefly Tested and Examined by Scripture
141. The Penalty Paid, Sins Forgiven, and the Debt Cancelled
142. Letter on the Lord's Death
143. Matthew 24-25
144. Notes on John 15:18-21
145. Notes on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
146. How Judaising Was Met in Jerusalem
147. Fellowship, Not Independency: Part 2
148. Christ of the Gospels as Seen in the Epistles
149. Legality and Spiritual Elation
150. Notes on Matthew 24
151. Fragment: Rejecting the Word
152. Notes on John 15:22-25
153. Notes on 2 Corinthians 5:1-3
154. The Ground of the Church of God
155. I, Sins, Sin
156. Brief Sketch of Matthew
157. Due Spirit of Discipline
158. Correspondence on God's Grace and Man's Ruin
159. Fragment on Discipline
160. Scripture Queries and Answers: 1 John 1:7
161. Notes on Matthew 25
162. Giving
163. Notes on John 15:26-27
164. Thoughts on 1 John
165. A Note on the Similitudes of Matthew 13, Especially the Treasure and the Net.
166. The Blessing of Jacob
167. Gilgal
168. Notes on Matthew 26
169. Notes on John 16:1-6
170. Thoughts on John 14
171. Notes on 2 Corinthians 5:6-9
172. Abigail
173. Notes on James
174. God's Answer to the Exercised Heart
175. Reading on 1 Peter 1, 2: Part 1
176. Fragment: "We Have the Mind of Christ"
177. Thoughts on Revelation 11-12
178. The Hebrew Servant: Exodus 21:1-6
179. Notes on Matthew 27
180. Notes on John 16:7-11
181. Notes on 2 Corinthians 5:10-11
182. Thoughts on Revelation 13
183. Christ Dwelling in Our Hearts by Faith: Ephesians 3:14-21
184. God Sufficient in Himself
185. The Lord's Supper
186. Propitiation, Substitution, and Atonement
187. Christianity in Contrast With Rationalism
188. Notes on Matthew 28
189. The Lord in Matthew 28
190. Fragment: Cast Out by Man
191. Notes on John 16:12-22
192. Notes on 2 Corinthians 5:12-15
193. God's Dealings With David
194. King Agrippa: Acts 26
195. How to Get Divine Affections
196. The Lord Standing or Sitting on High: Acts 7 and Hebrews 10
197. Thoughts on Revelation 14-16
198. Thoughts on Revelation 14-16
199. Thoughts on Deuteronomy 16
200. Ruth: Part 1
201. Psalm 105-106
202. Notes on John 16:23-28
203. Notes on 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
204. A Word on 2 Peter 3:17-18
205. Thoughts on Revelation 1:5-6
206. The Israel of God and Abraham's Seed
207. Scripture Query and Answer: Daniel 9:24
208. Son of Man
209. Ruth: Part 2
210. Notes on John 16:29-33
211. Notes on 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
212. The Epistle of Christ: 2 Corinthians 3
213. It Must Needs Be That Offences Come

Absent From the Body-Present With the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:8.

Two things go together for us as saints; the certainty of the Lord's coming, and the uncertainty whether or not we shall fall asleep before He come. Known to God only is it whether I shall have put off the tabernacle of the body, or be found in occupation of it when Christ returns in the cloud: but in presence of the certainty of His coming, the uncertainty whether I shall then be in the body, or out of the body, however much it may interest, does not disturb, me. In either case a blessedness is assured to us richly surpassing our present blessing, and we can happily entrust to His sovereignty the disposal of our earthly house of tabernacle! It is good to be for Him here; it is “far better” to fall asleep and go to Him; but best of all to awake in His likeness if I have slept, or, if living when He comes, to see Him as He is! This, the superlative thing, and not the comparative, though that also be blessed, is what the Lord always puts before us as the object of our hope; nothing short of this is the “mark for the prize,” or the desired consummation when He and we are glorified together! The fact that in scripture the Holy Ghost uniformly connects our hearts' aspirations with the return of Christ should suffice to satisfy every saint of God that the superlative thing, that which is the subject of “that blessed hope,” is His coming, and that if we substitute anything else, it only indicates that we are out of the mind and current of the Spirit of God. But while that be incontestable, and cannot be too emphatically maintained, the fact that so many saints have fallen asleep since the assembly of God first acquired “that blessed hope,” and that one after another around us is over and anon retiring to rest, necessitates to our souls a very deep and ever renewed interest in the character of their blessing.
The thief in whom grace wrought on the cross, blessed as was the new-born desire of his heart, got help on three points, each of exceeding interest. He asked (1) to be remembered by the Lord, (2) at His coming, (3) in His kingdom. The Lord both corrected and surpassed each feature of his request, for He promised (1) that he should be with Him (2) that day (3) in paradise! This affords the fullest scripture teaching as to the blessedness of those who put off this tabernacle, and connecting it with Paul's testimony, that “absent from the body,” the saint is “present with the Lord;” that “to depart and to be with Christ is far better;” and that “to die is gain,” clearly establishes that the emancipated spirit enjoys (1) the blessedness of being with Christ, which is far better than any blessing enjoyed below, (2) that such blessedness is immediate, and (3) it is in the elysium of His own presence, a locality otherwise undefined.
But if this summarizes the direct instruction which the Holy Ghost has given us in the word, yet may we safely and soberly predicate a variety of aspects of the blessedness involved in that momentous change of condition into which the spirit is introduced when the earthly house of its tabernacle is vacated. Disencumbered of the body, it is at once relieved from the drag or resistance which a sinful body, however well adapted for the exercises of faith, and as an instrument for service to the Lord in a sinful world, must inevitably impose upon its freedom. With what new gladness shall we reflect that we can never grieve His blessed heart any more, nor ever again bring dishonor upon His peerless name; that sin and sorrow, toil and trouble, care and conflict, and all that tends to weaken our love and attachment to the Lord, or hinder its outflow, with every other thing that tells of the fall and the curse, are left behind forever I Whether it be the needs and weakness of humanity as created, or its sick and suffering condition as fallen, or as the vehicle in which my will would work, that abode in which the flesh dwells—all this I am freed from on leaving the body: no more can I know want or weariness; no more pain and anguish; no more workings of a perverse will, of a carnal mind, of a heart at enmity with God! By vacating the body I have broken every link with the flesh and its activities, with the world and its elements; I have parted company, never to be resumed, with the first man and the Adamic creation, with man's world and the world's god. What a release from Satan's hostility and subtlety; what an escape from every snare of the fowler; from the world, too, Satan's usurped empire; no further exposure to its hydra-headed opposition to Christ and to those who are His; the wilderness past, with all its painful experiences of battlings and buffetings, and the haven reached where all evil is excluded, and all toil ceases in the eternal calm and sublimity of His presence!
It is a happy and a refreshing thought that my body, being a member of Christ, is assured of resurrection, because of His Spirit who dwelleth in me, and this secures the body for that day; while being “one spirit” with the Lord, one with Him in living, eternal union, whether in or out of the body, my spirit, in returning to God, finds that eternal haven in the presence of Christ which secures it for reunion with the body at His coming!
Save the Lord Himself, no one was ever more superior to circumstances than Paul, he who could say, “I am initiated both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer privation. I have strength for all things in him that gives me power;” yet he says, I have “a desire to depart.” No one had a more important service to detain him below, and no one was more singularly qualified, and more thoroughly devoted, as a servant. It is summed up—this remarkable identification of himself with Christ's interests on earth—in the words, “For me to live is Christ,” and yet he adds, “to die is gain!”
There are three aspects in which the departed saint may be regarded; as to what he escapes or resigns, as to what he retains, and as to what he acquires. What he escapes has been already sufficiently touched upon. What he resigns is equally apparent, though not, perhaps, sufficiently recognized, otherwise we should value and turn to account more than we do the present unique period of the soul's history! Each of us has doubtless looked back to the days of his youth, never to be recalled, and found occasion to mourn over days of evil that cannot now be corrected, and opportunities for good that can never return: as that spring-time of life has left its stamp on all after-years, so surely will the soul's spring-time bear its mark for eternity, for I learn now, and I gather here, that which, missing the present opportunity, I shall never learn or gather at all; in fact, this is the time of the soul's pupilage in the place where it takes its degree! All this we resign when we leave the body; surely, were saints sufficiently alive to the fact, we should not find so many droning away the precious spring-time, unmindful of the word, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from among the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee.” (Eph. 5:14.) But, further, I forego, if I leave the body, the outward and visible fellowship of saints, the table of the Lord, with its rich and endearing associations, the endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, the exercises of brotherly love, of prayer, of sympathy, of generosity and hospitality, of practical separation from evil, what James calls “Pure religion, and undefiled” —all these exercises, in fine all that is demonstrative in Its character, I have passed out of for the time being, while such principles as faith, patience, dependence, and obedience, if in exercise, are in exercise under such new conditions as constitute, or at least imply, a generic change!
In respect to the second point—that which we retain—I content myself with suggesting that I retain all that which divine grace has conferred upon me for eternity; I carry with me, and shall continue to enjoy, the eternal life, the new creation blessing, union with Christ, the peace which surpasseth understanding, the joy that is unspeakable and full of glory, and the relationships into which grace has introduced me, which can never be weakened or annulled!
Lastly, as to the “gain,” it is clear that I have finally entered into rest—a rest never to be disturbed, a full and deep repose, never to be broken! What a wonderful expansion will my spirit experience as it emerges from the density of an atmosphere so oppressive as this into that of His presence, and how sweet the conviction that steals over me, that I have passed into that blissful presence forever; that I am at length in that new region of unruffled peace characterized by the presence of my Savior and my Lord:
“There shall all clouds depart,{br}The wilderness shall cease,{br}And sweetly shall each gladdened hear{br}Enjoy eternal peace.”
But though with Himself in the profound quietude of an eternal calm, and enjoying an unalloyed happiness with Him, I wait for His coming on that cloudless morning, when He shall bring forth from the grave, to the joy of His own heart, the bodies which, in all ages and in every clime, He had hushed to sleep! In the scene of His rejection I had once waited for Him, but sleep overtook my body, my heart was still wakeful, my spirit passed into His presence, and I waited on—my waiting became more like His, I kept vigil with Him It was not enough to be in His presence, I wanted to see Him as He is; it was not enough to be with Him, I wanted to be like Him, for this would give peculiar joy to His heart; for this I needed a glorified body, and I waited still! It was not enough that He should be crowned with glory and with honor upon the Father's throne, I longed for His manifested glories in heaven and on earth: I longed to see His brow bedecked with many crowns, and I longed to swell the harmony of the new song which should extol His worth; I longed to see Him in the Father's house, to be there at home with Himself; I longed to see Him express, as there only He fully can, the fervor of His faithful love to His bride, and to set forth in blessed array the untold joy and delight that will thrill His heart when He shall have things all His own way, and make everything around in the heaven of His own presence subserve the object of that heart from eternity!
All these blessed longings of spirit, which have Himself for their object, I can now unhinderedly and undistractedly indulge, and thus the superlative thing, the glory itself, is blissfully and powerfully anticipated. All that, if absent from the body, my heart will but the more ardently long for and watch for in the patience of Christ, and as to which cannot be fully satisfied short of its consummation; all to which my heart aspires now, and would aspire then, whether in these circumstances or in those, only His coming in the cloud can possibly supply an answer to!
Then shall we resume the functions of worship in the conditions alone compatible with it; then shall we sing as redeemed saints, and in the body, only are said to do! Then only will He see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; then only will He present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy; then only will He make us to sit down to meat, and come forth and serve us; then only will He satisfy for us every desire which our knowledge of Himself has inspired in our hearts! Upon this, then, the superlative thing, His own heart is set, as well as that of the Spirit and the bride, saying, “Come;” and He who loves to be thus greeted, loves too to reply “Surely I come quickly,” adding His own “Amen;” and, if we, like the beloved disciple, have pillowed our heads upon His bosom, though in another way, we shall love to respond, whether in the body or out of the body, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” R.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

The apostle resumes for a moment the account of his course, but the aim is to testify his affectionate concern for the Corinthian saints who misjudged him, and, failing in love themselves, saw not his love which spared them, as much as it sought their blessing to the Lord's glory.
“Now when I came unto the Troad for the gospel of Christ, a door being opened to me in [the] Lord, I had no rest in my spirit at not finding Titus, my brother; but having taken leave of them, I went forth unto Macedonia. But thanks [be] to God that always leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the odor of his knowledge through us in every place. Because we are a sweet odor of Christ to God in those to be saved, and in those that perish: to the one an odor from death unto death, but to the others an odor from life unto life; and who [is] sufficient for these things? For we are not as the many, retailing the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, before God, we speak in Christ.” (Vers. 12-17.)
We see two things here: the apostle's deep value for the gospel; his still deeper value for the saints as in danger of compromising Christ. Hence, whatever his purpose in coming into a new region, and in the face of a distinct opening for the work of reaching souls outside, he could not rest without hearing of those souls, so dear to him for the Lord's sake, and so exposed to Satan's wiles. He had hoped to have heard news of Corinth through Titus; but Titus he did not find; and so, turning his back on those on the eastern side, where he then was, he repairs to Macedonia. His heart was on the saints. Anxiety for the assembly decided him to abandon for the time even so promising a field for the gospel. The church has the nearest claim, and the apostle acts on it. It was not only that the letter he had written bore witness of his love for them, and grief over the grave circumstances of the Corinthian assembly, but also his relinquishment of the gospel work in the word he so valued, and this spite of an opening in the Lord. His heart was tried greatly, as he thought of the saints and of his own letter. Would they accept it as of God, and judge themselves by the light? Would they resent his plain and searching, but deeply affectionate, appeals? The situation was most critical. Taking leave, then, of the saints in Troas, he goes forth where he hoped to hear the most speedy and authentic tidings of their state, and the effect of his own letter.
But, instead of stopping to describe the intelligence conveyed by Titus, the apostle breaks forth into a burst of praise and thanksgiving. It was, no doubt, characteristic of his deep feeling and immediate appreciation that he should thus turn from the human instrument to His grace who had wrought such a happy result, where things were so painful and perilous; but no means can be conceived more admirably adapted to express at once what grace had effected in the Corinthian saints, nor any more becoming a servant of Christ. There is thus the most complete absence of self-vindication, there is no credit taken for superior wisdom. The gracious power of God is celebrated immediately as His victory. Not merely is every means attributed to Him, and the blessing from Him, which piety would always feel and utter gladly, but he speaks in the most forcible way of God always leading us in triumph in the Christ. The best proof of this is the fact that so many commentators, Protestant and Catholic alike, pare down and alter the meaning. Among the rest, our own Authorized translation was so affected by this impression, that they rendered θριαμβεύειν, “to cause to triumph,” instead of lead in triumph, as they should. This it has been attempted to be sustained by the Hellenistic causative usage of μαθητεύειν, βασιλεύειν, καπηλεύειν, and χορεύειν, even in classical Greek. But the usage of the apostle in Col. 2:5 is adverse, nor am I aware of a single instance in which it can be proved to be ever thus employed. Besides, it really weakens, if it does not destroy, the beauty of the apostle's image, and makes it to be his triumph rather than God's. The one would be a rather unseasonable, and perhaps galling, reminder to the Corinthians that he was as right as they were wrong; the other, a singularly beautiful, though bold, predication of a divine victory, in which he had part as a willing captive, or part of the train. There is no over-coloring of the figure, no representation of himself as humbled and conquered, still less any reference to their fighting against God or His servant. But he turns his joy over their being brought to repentance, and a recognition of his apostolic authority, as well as of his loving services, into a thanksgiving to God, who, instead of letting him feel his abandonment of evangelistic work, always leads us in triumph in the Christ, and makes manifest the odor of his knowledge through us in every place. The allusion is to a Roman triumph, where aromatics were burnt profusely; and on this, too, he seizes to illustrate the going forth everywhere around of his testimony to Christ in the gospel. But the sweet perfumes in a triumphal procession were accompanied by life to some of the captives, and by death to others; and this is naturally turned to point the twofold issues of the gospel.
The unbelieving Jew or Gentile saw no more in Jesus crucified than a dead man; the message founded on Him could not be powerless to such. They could not deny the gracious words of it, any more than of Christ in the synagogue of Nazareth, where He announced His mission in the wondrous citation from Isa. 61
But they saw not, heard not, God in either. But as God delighted in His Son, a Savior, so He pronounced beautiful the feet of those that announced glad tidings of peace, of those that announce glad tidings of good things; and so, too, He smells a savor of rest sweeter than that of Noah's offering, or any other. “Because,” says the apostle, “we are a sweet odor of Christ to God in those to be saved, and in those that perish;” and this be explains carefully: “to the one an odor from death unto death,” which we have seen; “but to the other an odor from life unto life.” Such is the message where it is mixed with faith, for faith sees and hears Him as the Son of God, yet Son of man, who died for man, for sins, but rose in the power of an endless life, that we might live also, and live of His life, where sin can never enter, nor death have dominion more.
No wonder, as the apostle weighs the responsibility of a service so blessed on the one side, so tremendous on the other, that he exclaims, “And who [is] sufficient for these things?” For if the gospel is a word of delivering grace, it causes the truth to shine out so as to intensify the servant's estimate of responsibility. This is just what should be—full liberty imparted, instead of bondage; but solemn responsibility, realized as it never was before, and could not be, in any other way. But here the mass of the Corinthians sadly fell short, not the apostle, whom they had slighted in their self-sufficient folly. “For we are not, as the many, retailing (or adulterating) the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, before God, we speak in Christ.” He did not, like the many, traffic in the word of God; but as of transparency, not this only, but as of God, and this, too, with a present sense of having to do with Him, as all must later, “before God,” “we speak in Christ,” which is far more intimate and forcible than merely of Him.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

From this the apostle turns in a peculiarly touching way to the saints at Corinth. His spirit felt that his last allusions to a triumph, in contrast with those who trafficked in truth (never then given out with genuine purity), might expose to unkind personality. He therefore, in disclaiming the need of human commendation, in any form, lets out what grace forms in the heart before contrasting the law with the gospel.
“Begin we again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some, recommendatory epistles unto you or from you? Ye are our epistle inscribed in our hearts, known and read by all men, being manifested that ye are Christ's epistle ministered by us, having been inscribed, not with ink, but [the] Spirit of [the] living God, not on tables of stone, but on fleshy tables of [the] heart (or, hearts). And such confidence have we through the Christ toward God; not that we are competent from ourselves to reckon anything as of ourselves, but our, competency [is] of God, who also made us competent [as] servants of [the] new covenant, not of letter but of spirit, for the letter killeth but the spirit quickeneth.” (Vers. 1-6.)
It is plain that there was then, as now, the practice of giving and receiving letters in commending stranger brethren to the assemblies. And a valuable means of introduction as well as guard it is, provided we hold it in spirit, not in letter: otherwise we might fail doubly, in refusing those who ought to be received, where circumstances have hindered the requisite voucher, and in receiving those who, being deceivers, can supply themselves with any letter which may the more effectually mislead. The aim of all such provisions is to afford adequate testimony to the assembly of God, which is in no way bound to a form however excellent, if wanting, provided perchance other means of godly satisfaction leave no reasonable hesitation to those who judge fairly and in love. It is mischievous when that which God uses for our mutual comfort is perverted by legalism into an instrument of spiritual torture, as may be sometimes the lack of a commendatory note, or some kindred informality.
But the apostle turns, from the supposed imputation of seeking to commend himself, to foster in the Corinthian saints somewhat of the love which burned so warmly in his own bosom. If he, if an apostle, could be supposed to need a commendatory epistle, surely not Paul to or from the assembly in Corinth! As he adds, with as much beauty as affection, “Ye are our epistle,” not in process of being “written,” but this already done, and abidingly (ἐγγεγραμμένη) “in our hearts,” whereas it was but becoming “known and read by all men,” as was also their manifestation that they were Christ's epistle, “ministered” as a past fact (διακονηθεῖσα) by us, “written” as it has been and was (ἐγγεγραμμένη) “not with ink, but the living God's Spirit,” not on tablets of stone, but on fleshy tablets—hearts, or of the heart.
It was a wonderful thing to call any company of saints in this world Paul's epistle, that which set forth his mind and heart, the fruit of his testimony in the Spirit to the world. Such he declares the Corinthian assembly to be, no mere tongue-work this, but “written in our hearts,” yet without doubt intended for men generally to learn by, as he says, “known and read by all men.” Such is the church, not a thing of creedism, or a subscription to paper-and-ink articles, however pure in their place, but an epistle to set forth livingly what the apostle taught and felt. Here he goes farther still; for even of those saints, who had caused him such shame and pain, but now consolation and joy, he does not hesitate to say that they were manifestly showing that they were Christ's epistle ministered by him. Paul might be the means, but Christ was the end; and just as God wrote the law on stone for Israel, so now does the Spirit grave Christ on the fleshy tablets of the Christian's heart, that the world may read Christ in the church. It will be noticed too, that this epistle says they are; it is no mere question of a duty, but of a positive relationship which is the ground of the duty. If we are Christ's epistle, as the apostle declares to the Corinthians, we should assuredly convey His mind and affections truly and without blot. The truth abides for us, which wrought on them; and so does the Spirit of the living God; and thus we are inexcusable in our failure. At least may we own and feel it, that grace may work in us as in those who had fallen so short!
“And such confidence have we through the Christ toward God.” Christianity not only excludes despair but gives assurance, and this on the firmest ground with God, even Christ, whose work puts the believer into the same acceptance, nearness, and favor as our Lord enjoyed through His own personal relationship and perfection as man. This is the meaning, aim, and effect of a Savior such as He is: less than this would be to slight Him and His work, and the new creation and relationships which are the fruit of it. But here the apostle speaks of confidence as regards his ministry, which is no less true and flows from the same grace. For it is all the expression of God's love in Christ to us and to Christ in the delight of His glorification of God; and in the power of one so able to give it effect as the Holy Spirit. Therefore the apostle could not doubt, but cherishes a confidence, measured by God's estimate of what was due to Christ whom He had sent to testify and prove His love, and now had glorified on high in witness of the perfection of His work, But along with it goes the most earnest disclaimer of any intrinsic competency, while owning it given of God to serve in new covenant order, but even here of spirit, not of letter. For literally it remains to be applied to the house of Israel and of Judah, though the blood is shed and accepted, on which its efficacy rests. But this only the more suits the genius of Christianity, where the principles stand out in the light, and the truth is told plainly as here: “for the letter killeth, but the spirit [that is, the mind of God couched under the forms which unbelief never seizes] quickeneth.” And this is universally true; for if the letter were more glaringly perilous of old, there is always the danger of deserting the spirit for it, even under the gospel.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

The apostle proceeds next, in a long parenthesis (7-16) to contrast the respective services of the law and of the gospel, the ever rising debate wherever Christ is named and known. And no wonder, for sovereign grace is not natural to the heart, though it alone reveals God fully. The believer himself never keeps grace fresh, pure, or even true, save as consciously in God's presence, with Christ before him. As in Christ thus, it is simple and appreciated as the one principle and power which snits either God on the one hand, or those He saves on the other. Grace alone puts each in the place which befits them. But the effect or assumption of the mind even in the believer to take up grace and reason it out, apart from present dependence, is as bad or worse than its use of the law; for conscience answers to the law when it condemns every evil way, but faith is needed for grace. Outside God's presence it is but allowance of sin. In His presence it deals with sin far more overwhelmingly than law, as is evident in the cross of Christ. Only there can the believer enjoy grace safely, happily, and holily: and there is no possibility of having peace in His presence but through grace—grace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
“But if the ministry of death in letter, graven on stones, came in with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently toward the face of Moses for the glory of his face, that was to be done away, how shall not the ministry of the Spirit more be in glory? For if the ministry of condemnation [have] glory, much more doth the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For even that which hath been glorified, hath not been glorified in this respect on account of the surpassing glory. For if that to be done away [was] with glory, much more what abideth [is] in glory?”
It is of moment to notice that the apostle reasons here on Ex. 34, not on Ex. 20 as in Heb. 12. It is a question, not of law pure and simple, when God's voice shook the earth, with a sight of terror which caused even Moses to be full of trembling; but of law when given the second time, accompanied by the mercy which not only forgave but accepted mediation. It was a mixture of law with grace, and precisely what people now conceive to be Christianity. But this is what is designated the ministry of death in letter, engraven on stones. For the second time, not the first, was it introduced with glory (ἐγενήθη ἐν δόξῃ), and then, not before, was there any difficulty for the sons of Israel steadily to gaze at his face. Only then are we told that the skin of the face of Moses shone (Ex. 34), and that the Israelites were afraid to come nigh him. It was the glory of Jehovah which caused his face thus to shine, an effect entirely peculiar to the second occasion, Nevertheless this is styled “the ministry of death.” The mercy which had spared Israel did not alter its character, nor did the glory which shone in the Mediator's face. How different is that which the Spirit now ministers in a dead, risen, and glorified Christ! The reflection of glory in Moses' case was but a passing thing: it was neither intrinsic nor permanent, but to be done away. Not so Christ's. Here all that is the fruit of His work abides. It has everlasting value. It is no question of letter, nor of graving on stones, but of a divine Savior yet a man, who has glorified God atoningly as to sin, not in living obedience only, but up to death, the death of the cross, and is thereon glorified in heaven, yea, in God Himself, and gives the believer, once a wretched, guilty, and lost ginner, now washed, sanctified and justified, a righteous title to stand in perfect grace, to be with Him in glory, one with Him even now by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. This is the gospel, this the ministry of the Spirit which abides and is assuredly in glory.
But the law requires righteousness, and man being a sinner cannot yield it. Such is necessarily, therefore, a ministry of death (ver. 7), and the more brightly God's goodness shines, the worse it is for the sinner, for he is only the more proved worthless and guilty. In the gospel righteousness is revealed to faith, not required: for Christ Himself is the righteousness of the believer, and the work was done and accepted before God sent out the gospel of His grace to man. The Spirit, therefore, testifies to a Man at God's right hand, Who suffered once for sins on the cross, and declared that by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. Hence the Holy Spirit as He sealed Christ the righteous One without blood when on earth, now seals us when washed from our sins in His blood, and rests on us as the Spirit of glory and of God. (Ver. 8.) We are put, therefore, in association with Christ on high and await His coming to bring us there. The law, on the contrary, not only kills but condemns; it brings sense of guilt on the conscience, and God as a judge of the evil actually done. Hence it can only be a ministry of condemnation (ver. 9), as well as death, whatever the glory that marked its enactment; whereas the gospel is the ministry of righteousness already accomplished in Christ and the portion of the believer; and that righteousness abides unchanged and glorious in Christ above. Hence the ministry of the Spirit is also that of righteousness. As the righteousness is a fact of free grace in One who loves us perfectly, so has the glory the same attraction, unlike the glory which alarmed Israel, even in the face of Moses. The light which shines from Christ glorified speaks of the efficacy of His sacrifice; the brighter the light, the clearer the proof that our every sin is cleansed away by His blood. It is the light of divine glory, doubtless, but flowing from, redemption. His title to be in heaven is not His person, but the work which God His Father gave Him to do, that as surely as we know Him in the Father, we should also know that we are in Him and He in us. Most wondrous yet the simple truth of Christ and the Christian. But what is so wonderful as the truth? Yet Christ accounts for it all, and His work brings us who believe into it all. Such is grace in the ministry of the Spirit by righteousness.
And as the glory of God's grace in Christ completely dims by excess of brightness His glory in the law, (ver. 10), so also does the transitory or temporary character of the latter proclaim its incomparable inferiority to the former which abides, (ver. 15), as indeed it ought, inasmuch as it flows from and expresses the will of God, while the other only condemns and executes sentence on the evil of man.
A few details may be useful in helping the reader to appreciate the remarkably compressed phraseology of these verses. ἐγενήθη ἐν δόξῃ means that the law was introduced in or with glory, rather than it existed in glory. The verb is changed when we come to the Spirit and His ministry, subsisting in glory. It is an error, however, to suppose that the future ἔσται is one of time, but rather of inference. There is no allusion here to the coming glory. The apostle points emphatically to what the Spirit is ministering now. It is hard to express, but important to bear in mind, the abstract nature of the contrast, τὸ καταργούμενον and τὸ μένον, the present participle of character, apart from time, not of actual fact. Lastly, it is at best oversight to affirm that διἀ δόξης and ἐν δόξῃ present a mere variation, of expressions without a difference of meaning. Never does scripture thus change words without a fresh thought and a distinct purpose. έν δ is admirably adapted when connected (not with ἐγενήθη, but) with μένον, to set forth permanence of glory, διὰ δ. a mere accompanying condition of what was to pass away. Rom. 3:30; 5:10, prove difference, not sameness, of force, whatever Winer may say (Moulton's edition, pp. 458, 512), or the commentators misled by such laxity, as Alford, Hodge, &c.

Notes on 2 Corinthians: 3:12-16

This leads the apostle in the Spirit to apply the incident of Moses with and without a veil, as before of the glory of his face. He glories that in the gospel all is open. It is no longer the unhappy though wholesome detection of sin in man, but the plain revelation of good from God in Christ, and this righteously through His cross, yea, gloriously in His place at God's right hand in heaven: the ground of our association with heaven now, and of glory there not in spirit only but in body at His coming. In Judaism man could not bear to hear the truth, which was the sentence of death to flesh; in Gentilism all was doubt or deception. In the gospel we can speak plainly: it is God's good news of His Son. There is no reason or motive for reserve, but just the contrary. We cannot be too open. So the love of God who gave such a treasure would have it. Leave darkness to Rabbis and philosophers, who love it rather than light.
“Having then such hope we use much openness of speech: and not as Moses used to put a veil on his own face, that the sons of Israel should not look steadfastly unto the end of that to be done away. But their thoughts were darkened [lit, hardened]; for until this very day the same veil at the reading of the old covenant abideth unremoved [lit. unveiled], which in Christ is done away. But unto this day when Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart. But whenever it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken off.” (Ver. 12-16.)
Christianity is no system of restraint as evil in the first man, with ordinances suited to the flesh in the world, and God afar off in the dark, but founded on the grace of Christ, who, after establishing righteousness by the cross, is gone up into heavenly glory, and is ministered by the Holy Ghost in power. Hence, the unseen, the future, and the everlasting converge on the believer now; and having such a hope one can be thoroughly outspoken: there are the strongest motives for openness in every way, in contrast with the dimness, distance and reserve of the law. Not only did God in Christ come down to man, but, now that his evil has been judicially and conclusively dealt with in the cross, man can go up—nay, has already sat down at His right hand—in the person of our Savior and head. The accomplishment of redemption, as it closed the ministry of death, opened the way and became the basis of the ministry of the Spirit, to abide in glory. The previous state of concealment, where man had such reason to dread the sight of glory according to the law, is set forth in Moses putting a veil on his face when he spoke with the children of Israel outside, whereas he invariably put it off whenever he went in before Jehovah.
The Christian position is in the fullest contrast with that of Israel, to which tradition and human thoughts of unbelief would ever in principle reduce us. It suits reason and conscience guided by it, and our estimate of self as well as of God, where Christ and His work have no distinctive and commanding place. Hence not only do the utmost extremes meet here, popish and puritanical, but also that via media, which pleases the moderate men of all parties, rationalist or nonconformist, who on the one hand rightly venerate the law, as clothed with God's authority, but on the other, see not the wholly new position grace has placed us in by redemption, answering to Christ glorified on high, who has sent down the Spirit that we might enjoy it to the full, and walk accordingly. For we find our privilege Godward typified in Moses unveiled, not with the veil on. We behold Christ and His work in the ritualistic system, which conveyed to the Israelite only precepts to kill a lamb, a goat, or a bullock, with the blood brought in before God, and to sprinkle themselves with the water of separation, or the like. The law made nothing perfect. It (and not the speculative thought of the Greek, nor the political wisdom of Rome) was the true nursery of man in his nonage, the divine pro-paedeutic, shutting up to the faith about to be revealed.
Israel through unbelief slighted grace when shown to them abundantly, and forgot the promises which God had made to the fathers, which faith would have remembered and felt the need of. They therefore doubted not for a moment their ability to keep His law, and so maintain their place with Him. Granted that this was their deepest ignorance, both of God as a judge according to law, and of themselves as guilty and powerless sinners; and that scripture reveals their ruin under law, that the Gentile should avoid the snare and find their resource, strength, and blessing, all and only in Christ by God's sovereign grace. How awful then the darkness which has deliberately put Christendom back into the self-same position of law, as the rule of people to live by, after the proclamation of God's mercy! This is what not only the multitude believe, but the doctors have taught, Protestant no less than popish; this is the prevalent doctrine, alike Presbyterian and Prelatical, Methodist or Congregational. It is the mind active and exercised on what God used as a probationary system, but as unable to look to the end of it as the Jew of old, as rebellious against its transitory character, as blind to the surpassing glory of what is now revealed in Christ.
It is solemn to reflect on those once the people of God, now Lo-Ammi, in zeal for their forms rejecting Christ who gives them their real meaning and chief, if not only, value. But so it is and must be. How could the infinite gift of the Son of God, and then the witness of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, in virtue of redemption, have any other consequence? It is the rejection of God's fullest grace and heavenly glory, not merely of the law which demanded and defined a man's duty. God would be a partner to His own utter dishonor if He passed by the refusal of His Son dying in love for man's sin, or despite to the Spirit of grace who testifies of it and Him. This the Jew, did formally, before God swept them from their land by the Romans, not because the scriptures are not express as to Christ and His work, but because of their own unbelief. “But unto this day, when Moses is being read, a veil lieth upon their heart.” (Ver. 13.)
It is humbling however to know that their hardening is but the shadow of a guiltier and incomparably wider unbelief which is settling down on Christendom, not profane only but even religious after the flesh, into more and more dense delusion and self-complacency in resistance of the Holy Spirit and an ignorant contempt of Christ's glory as of our own portion in and with Him. So proceeded the Jew with his darkened thoughts till divine judgment fell on their temple and capital. Their (it was no longer God's) house was left to them desolate; yet do they persist in their most ruinous infatuation, to be punished with a yet more awful tribulation, not (thank God) forever but till they say, as they will ere long, Blessed He that cometh in the name of Jehovah, and own in their rejected Messiah their Lord and their God. “Whenever it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken off." (Ver. 16.) Alas! it is not so with Babylon as with Jerusalem. For the Gentile city of confusion there will be exterminating judgment without hope of recovery. It behooves then all the faithful to beware of the evils which end in such strokes from God; it becomes them to inquire whether they may not have fellowship with her sins, which dishonor the excellent name which He called upon them. To the law and to the testimony: if men speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in (or morning for) them.
“Until this very day,” says the apostle, “the same veil at the reading of the old covenant abideth unremoved, which in Christ is done away.” (Ver. 14.) So it was and so it is; but it is graver still and no less sure, that the same veil rests on the hearts of the baptized at the reading of the latest revelation of God, when they refuse to submit to the righteousness of God, and their eyes and hearts are turned away to self, or to the church so called, from the only true Light. They do not truly acknowledge the Son, nor own the present efficacy of His work. The veil will envelop the heart for them (perhaps we may say) no less than for Israel; and what greater danger can there be than that such darkness should prevail where Paul is read no less, yea, far more, than Moses? Is it not that, though it be for the Gentile the day of grace, their thoughts are increasingly darkened? Those born of God will no doubt come out of Babylon; for His grace will work, and it may be in ways we little anticipate, to extricate souls that they may await His Son from heaven. But there is no revival, no restoration, for corrupted Christendom. It is salt that has lost its savor, fit neither for land nor for dunghill, only to be cast out, or burnt with fire, recompensed at last as the great city recompensed during her unrighteous career. For strong is the Lord God that judges her.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

The central portion of the chapter, from verse 7, contains not only the remarkable allusion to Moses veiled and unveiled, but the contrast between the ministry of letter in the law with that of the Spirit. The parenthesis being closed, he forthwith recurs to that contrast of letter and spirit which preceded it. “Now the Lord is the spirit, but where the Spirit of the Lord [is, there is] liberty.” (Ver. 17.) Scarce any scripture shows more instructively than this the necessity of understanding the mind of God, in order even to present it correctly in form. For it is an utter mistake to give “the spirit” in the first clause a capital letter, which would imply the Holy Ghost to be meant; and whore would be the sense, where so much as the orthodoxy, of identifying the Lord with the Holy Ghost? To me the meaning, without doubt, is that the Lord Jesus constitutes the spirit of the forms and figures and other communications of the old covenant. These, if taken in the letter, killed; if in the spirit, quickened. “The Lord” was their real scope; and now this comes out into the fullest evidence. Faith sees in Him contrast with Adam, analogy with Abel; the light of which shines even on Cain and Lamech. Yet more manifestly do we see types of Him in Joseph and Moses, and in that vast system of sacrifice and priesthood which, coming in by Moses, furnished those shadows so abundantly. Unbelief never laid hold of the coming One, faith always did; though it might not apprehend the bearing of all, nor perhaps fully of anything, till He actually died and rose. But “the Lord is the spirit,” and the new testimony is so precise, that there is no excuse for misapprehending the old longer. “The true Light now shineth,” and “we who were once darkness are now light in the Lord.” In the light we walk, and we ought to walk as children of it; and an immense help it is to our souls intelligently to apprehend the Lord in every part of the word. It is this which gives the deepest interest, and truest solemnity, and living power, to every part of the Old Testament. Thus only have we communion with the mind of God with positive and growing blessing to our own souls. Now that He is revealed, all is plain.
But there is more than this, for “where the Spirit of the Lord [is, there is] liberty.” Here the truth requires that there should be a capital, for the apostle means not merely the true inner bearing of what was communicated of old, but the presence and power of the Holy Ghost now; and He is not a spirit of bondage unto fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind; not a spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of the Son, whom God had sent into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Hence the effect is liberty, not alone because it, is the Son that makes us free, but the Spirit of life in Him risen from the dead, after the mighty work in which God, sending Jesus in the likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Thus all was condemned that could be condemned, and we by grace are delivered—free indeed. “Where the Spirit of the Lord [is, there is] liberty,” as opposed to Gentile license as to Jewish bondage.
It is liberty to do the will of God, “for sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace.” Yet do we yield ourselves slaves for obedience; and having got our freedom from sin, and become slaves to God, we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end eternal life. We are no longer in the flesh, and are clear from the law, so that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter. “Where the Spirit of the Lord [is, there is] liberty.” It is not yet the liberty of the glory of the children of God; it is the liberty of grace before glory dawns at Christ's coming.
But we are creatures, though a new creation in Christ, and we need an object that we may be kept and grow, and be formed and fashioned spiritually according to God, while here below. Without the cross of Christ all this were vain; yet are we not called simply to be at the foot of the cross, or to behold no object but Jesus Christ crucified, as men misuse the passage. Not so; “but we all beholding the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from [the] Lord [the] Spirit.” Such is the present business, we may say, of the Christian. It is alike the duty and the privilege of all Christians, not the perquisite of a favored few who attain to it. It is not a state reached in a moment by an act of faith, but a gradual process, which ought to characterize every Christian all the way through. At the coming of Christ we shall be conformed to His image—that of the Son, the First-born among many brethren. Meanwhile thus does “the Lord the Spirit” (for such, I suppose, is the meaning in the last clause) work in us from glory to glory, as all that Christ is glorified on high becomes more familiar and real to our souls by faith. We need, most assuredly, the lowly grace which came down as a servant, obeying to the uttermost, even to the death of the cross, if we would have the mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus. But, blessed and indispensable as it is thus to know His love, faith in the Christian does not rest there, nor ought it, but, holding all this fast, to look on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, and thus be changed, according to the same image, from glory to glory. For the Spirit, though Lord equally with the Father and the Son, does not work independently of Christ, but by presenting Him to us, from first to last.
It is scarcely needful to add, that one rejects the translation of the closing phrase, which pleases Olahausen, De Wette, Meyer, &c., “Lord of the Spirit,” as being clearly against the truth of scripture—a serious fault in a subject of this kind. So Macknight, who paraphrases it, “the Lord of the covenant of the Spirit!” but those who expect either spiritual intelligence or sound scholarship from that divine, must be bitterly disappointed, if not deceived. Dr. Thomas F. Middleton, in his able “Doctrine of the Greek Article,” mistakes the margin of the Authorized Version, which agrees with my view, against its own text. So Luther, Beza, &c., had rendered it. The reader may compare ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρός (Gal. 1:2; Eph. 6:23), and analogous phrases in many other passages.

Notes on 2 Corinthians: 5:4-5

Having given so solemn a word of warning for conscience, the apostle returns to the groaning and the longing spoken of in verse 2 in order to clear the truth more fully.
“For also we that are in the tabernacle groan, being burdened, because we desire not to be unclothed but clothed upon, that what is mortal should be swallowed up of life. Now he that wrought us for this very thing [is] God, that gave us the earnest of the Spirit.” (Vers. 4, 5.)
The true knowledge of the living possession of Christ, far from neutralizing one's sense of the groaning creation, deeply increases it. Peace and joy in believing there is most really and to the full; but it is in Him who suffered here and is glorified above the sorrow and death that He tasted and the sins which He bore in His own body on the tree. Our body is the tabernacle in which we are, a part itself of the creation made subject to vanity; and we who are in it groan under the oppressive sense of its utter ruin, not because we are not delivered in Christ, but the rather because we are and feel deeply therefore what is under the bondage of corruption. We know that deliverance is at hand, not merely for our body but for all that is now travailing in pain, and that Christ will have the glory, as all creation will have the joy in that day.
Difficulties have been made about the phrase, which opens the next clause; but it seems rather needlessly, for ἐφ’ ᾥ, the true reading, is not uncommon in our apostle, whose use of it quite falls in with its regular application in all correct Greek to express the condition, or occasion, under which a thing or person is characterized, and maybe rendered “for,” “seeing,” “in that,” or “because” —qualifying what precedes. Compare Rom. 5:12, Phil. 3:12; 4:10, with the clause before us, in all of which may be found a like sense substantially, though modified by a different context. “Wherefore,” or “in which,” seems as feeble as misleading. The fact is that it is but a special case of its general sense as the ground, condition, or occasion of anything—the term on which a thing is based.
Here the apostle qualifies our burdened groaning in the tabernacle, as no selfish desire to escape trial, however aggravated. Yet no man experienced this so deeply, variously, or unremittingly as himself; none therefore was so exposed to wish that such a path should be closed by departure to be with the Lord. But this he deprecates for the saints as well as himself, not for that we wish to be unclothed but clothed upon, that what is mortal should be swallowed up by life. He is contrasting the power of life in Christ at His coming with going to Him in the separate state. No doubt this is better, far better, for us than abiding here in sorrow and suffering. But the apostle thought of Christ's glory in this scripture, as of the need of souls in Phil. 1 Hence in the latter he recognized the value of his staying for their help, and that so it would be. Here he expresses the exceeding blessedness of bringing the body under the power of that life which he already knew for his inner man in Christ. Nothing less than this therefore could satisfy him.
To be “unclothed” is to be rid of the body by death when the believer goes to be with Christ. But this is expressly what he did not wish, however blessed in itself, for the very reason that the blessing was only for himself in His presence. What he desired was fresh glory to Christ when He comes; for then and only then is the believer “clothed upon.” He resumes the body then, no longer like the first Adam, but like the Last, once having borne the image of the earthy, thenceforward bearing that of the Heavenly. We will have put on our house which is from heaven, according to our longing desire. For it is not even necessary to be “unclothed,” that is, to put off the body by dying. All turns on the coming of Christ who is our life in all its fullness. If He tarry and call us meanwhile to be with Him, we shall of course be “unclothed;” but if He come while we wait for Him here, we shall be “clothed” upon without the putting off of our tabernacle. For from the heavens we await Him as Savior, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory according to the power which He has even to subdue all things to Himself. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Hence it is said here “that what is mortal shall be swallowed up by life,” not merely raised up out of death, but the mortal in us yielding to the superior and all-transforming power of the life in Christ, the body no longer as it was in Adam, but as in the Second man coming again from heaven.
The New Testament apostle goes considerably and characteristically beyond the Old Testament prophet, though both statements be true and one writer be inspired as really as the other. Yet the truth is not quite the same; for Isaiah speaks of Jehovah swallowing up “death” in victory [or, forever], and this will be verified ex abundanti at Christ's coming, when there will be not only the raising of the dead in Christ but the arrest of mortality in the living saints, or, as it is here figuratively designated, the swallowing up of what is mortal by life, Even such a resurrection of the faithful would be a manifest triumph of gracious power over utter ruin: how much more that mortality should never work out into death, but be absorbed by the all-conquering power of life in Christ
Nor does the apostle allow the smallest uncertainty in the hope before the believer; nay, he affirms an actual and divine pledge which cannot fail. “Now he that wrought us for this very thing [is] God that gave us the earnest of the Spirit.” (Ver. 6.) How blessed to have come under the operation of His grace, even while here we groan in the tabernacle! But so it is. We have life in Christ, yea, everlasting life, and everlasting redemption. God, who cannot fail, does not begin to leave His work an unfinished thing. He that wrought us for this very thing, the swallowing up of the mortal by the life which triumphs forever, the self-same portion as Christ, is God, as indeed He only would have thought of it or could have so wrought; nor this only, for He gave us the earnest of the Spirit that we might taste the joy of coming glory, having its pledge even in our utter weakness. It is not the “anointing” us here as elsewhere, which has a larger force, not yet the “sealing” us, but that aspect of the Spirit given to us which is in relation to Christ's coming again, and our entering on the inheritance with Him. It is “the earnest of the Spirit” given in our hearts, that we might not rest here, vainly contenting ourselves with what is present, or groaning without a divine taste of that which we shall share with Christ, as even hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that was given to us.
It is instructive to notice how the coming of the Lord is not only urged continually in the scriptures as the constant and proximate expectation of the saints, but underlies all and accounts for much even where not a word is said about it directly or openly as here. It is the failure of the divines, and even of commentators, in perceiving this which has exposed them to such poverty (if not perversity) of interpretation in speaking of this momentous passage, which ought not to present a difficulty to a single believer, but to be the cheer of every Christian heart, as evidently intended of God. Had the coming of the Lord been a practical truth living in the souls of good men like Dr. John Gum and the mass of even orthodox and godly Protestants, could they have applied these words to that which is immediately after their death, merely allowing that, as the happiness of the soul in heaven will be followed and completed by the resurrection of the body, the apostle might also have that in his ultimate view? No, it is not true, (whatever the happiness of the separate state with Christ, of which we shall hear anon,) that he is here treating of “the transcendent undefiled felicities of an immortal life, which the soul shall enter upon as soon as ever it is separated from the body,” but of the resurrection or change when Christ comes. Of this theology stops short; and hardly any other cause has produced wider or deeper effects on saints in Christendom than such habitual and systematic forgetfulness of our proper hope. On the other hand, nothing has contributed more than its recovery to awaken the faithful by self-judgment to their past low estate and their true posture of waiting for the Lord, yea, going out to meet Him, according to His own parabolic prediction.

Reading on 1 Peter 1; 2: Part 2

(Concluded from page 313.)
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” is another idea; he is a new creation, and belongs to an entirely different state of things. In Gal. 5 it is more applied to the individual. It is the thing so many will not have. Some men openly ridicule the idea of two natures; but “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” Methodists always took wrong ground, having no thought of being born again at all, and this has run very much through all the body of the evangelical world. New creation takes in everything, new birth is my having a nature that is fit for it. New creation, if you take it in its full sense, leaves nothing else. If you say, I am the same man after I am born again, I do not doubt you are, but you will find a difficulty in saying what “I” now is. I have life from Adam; that is never mended one atom, but I get a new life from Christ, a totally new thing— “He that hath the Son hath life.” Adam had not that, but I have the life of the second Adam. Adam innocent had not that life one bit more than Adam guilty. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and Adam was not born of the Spirit, but God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. But this is a new thing, that eternal life which was with the Father, and has been manifested unto us. That is the Christ who becomes my life through the operation of the word, and is a totally new thing, it does change the man.
As to the Old Testament saints, eternal life was no part of the Old Testament, even if the Old Testament saints had it; “life and incorruptibility are brought to light by the gospel;” not that they were brought to existence, but “brought to light.” And. when He in whom life is came down, and died, and rose again, then a totally new thing is brought out. Eternal life is twice found in the Old Testament, but both passages are prophetic of the millennium. And therefore you never get conflict between flesh and Spirit, in the Old Testament. You get “born in sin” (Psa. 51), but no thought of flesh lasting against spirit.
“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” and so you get a contradiction twice over, and somebody else put in instead of you, So, in Rom. 7,” What I hate I do,” and “it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me,” but in the verse before he said he did do it. All that the psalmist can say is, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” He there takes this ground, if God wash him he will be whiter than snow. It is not washing with the blood of Christ in that passage, and what I insist upon is, not to put into a passage what you cannot get out of it..... The Father raises up the dead and quickeneth them, that is, those who are dead in sins are quickened, it is not the simple fact of receiving a new life; it is not the way scripture speaks, to say, “There is a living man, and I quicken him.” “Quickens” refers to both soul and body, as for the last in” quicken your mortal bodies.” But it is always a dead man when you talk about quickening. And “quickened us together with him” involves a great deal more. He was lying in death, where we were lying, and there was quickened; but that is a great deal more than life.
A man is changed, the flesh is never changed. In the history of the flesh I get it as an outlaw, and under law, but it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; again, I get it having Christ presented to it, and man crucified Him; then I get it with the Holy Ghost come, and find “ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye;” and then I get it in the third heavens, and Satan tries to puff Paul up about it. In the Old Testament dealing with the nature was no part of the dispensation, though saints were quickened, or born again; but eternal life they ought to have found out, and the Pharisees had picked it out. The young man came to Christ, and asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” But the Lord, in answer, takes the law upon its own footing, and says, “This do, and thou shalt live?”
In John 20:8 the other disciple “saw and believed.” What was it he believed? That Christ was risen, only he believed when he saw, but had no knowledge of the scriptures (ver. 9) that Christ must rise; so he saw and believed that He was risen; did not know it by faith in the word of God, but believed when they saw. Peter only gives it us in hope. The seed here is the divine life, but it is by the word, which is the seed of life. In verse 23 we are born of God, but by this word instrumentally. It gives you the character and source of the thing, but the instrument is the word, and so the word is the seed. It “liveth and abideth forever,” and it is a great thing to see that clearly in the word; “He that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” The word is the revelation of what is in God, in His nature and character, His love, His ways—in short all that He communicates. And it is what God uses to quicken. “Forever,” in verse 23, is left out by the editors.
Is there any difference between λὀγος and ρὴμα? λὀγος is the deeper word, and the ρὴμα is the giving of it out. λὀγος is that which is known in the mind, and known by expressing it. I cannot think without having a thought, and λὀγος is used for that and the expression of it, but ρὴμα is the mere utterance, and that is it which by the gospel is preached unto you. Then the word of the Lord is that which is in mediatorial communication, I suppose—that is all. It is a great thing to see that character in the Word, for if I have not an inspired word here in this book, the inspiration of God's mind, I have not got it all. The Bible is the ρὴμα written down. And the Lord gives importance to it, “If ye believe not Moses' writings, how shall ye believe my word?”
It is not Christ here, but it is Christ written down. You get the two thrown into one in Heb. 4. And “Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live;” so it is God's own mind, of course. In the middle of a world that is away from God, and has rejected Christ, as it has rejected God, you have one thing, that is of God and from God, and that is the word of God, and this is all. God Himself is here, of course, but the word is the only thing that is of Him. And, when everything else has passed away, this will remain until it is shown that everything it said is true.
“The word of God is living.” That is the very thing; it is divine, it is not merely a word that I give out, and it passes, but a word that comes out from God, which abides, and never changes, and never can change. It comes down into my heart, and shows me everything that is in it. In these days it is a great thing for saints to carry with them the conviction that the word of God is the word of God, and can never be broken, but endures forever. It is, and will ever be, the truth. Many of the things spoken of old have passed, and many others may pass, but the word will be the truth hereafter, just as much then as it is now. But as for this world, and the infidels and their reasoning, there will not be one atom of them left. Man's breath goeth forth, and his thoughts perish.
Then comes another thing in chapter 2, and that is growing by the word to salvation. It is the only thing here which is positively of God (in one sense all the creation is, of course, but that will all be burnt up); but that which is of God nourishes. There is a sense, too, in which we are all new-born babes, and it is the new life in simplicity and purity that desires the sincere milk of the word; whenever I come to the word to get nourishment, I come as a new-born babe.
Peter looks at salvation as ready to be revealed, and means by “if so be” that he is supposing you have tasted, or else you will not desire. It is the knowledge of the graciousness of Christ that makes us desire to get more and more.
In chapter 2: 4, 5 follows the house that Christ builds, and in contrast with the house in 1 Cor. 3 There you get the house built on the ground of man's responsibility, “according to the grace of God which is given unto me,” &c. (Vers. 10-15.) There is man in responsibility building the house. But in Matt. 16 the Lord says, “I will build my church,” and that is going on; the house is not yet built.
Here, in Peter, you have no responsibility of man, but the living stones built together. In Ephesians Paul says, “groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; groweth, is growing yet. Matt. 16 answers to Eph. 2:21, verse 22 being a matter of fact; one is “growing to a holy temple,” the other is a habitation of God through the Spirit. It is the confounding of these two together which has brought in all the pretensions of popery and high churchism. A house is not a body; the two ideas are totally different. It is Christ's body, and God's house. In Heb. 3 it is “Christ as on over his [God's] house.” I believe the “own” ought not to be there. A person may be in the house, and not in the body; wood, hay, and stubble will be burnt up, but no members of the body will be.
People often ask if Christ is precious, but the terms, “elect, precious,” are His character, not my estimate of Him: the words are connected with the corner-stone.
The Jews were appointed to stumble at Christ—that was to be their judgment; but they were not appointed to be disobedient. Judas was not appointed to be a sinner; but, being a sinner, he was appointed to be a betrayer of Christ.
“The wicked for the day of judgment” means in this world; there is a day of judgment that comes upon them here in this world. “Ordained to this condemnation” is not condemnation as people think; it is to this condemnation. The Stone of stumbling was such to the house of Israel.
You see we are all lost, to start with; not that I believe in what is called reprobation, for I do not, but God brings about His own way. Israel was appointed, as I said, and prophecy had declared that they would do this when Christ came, and then they stumbled upon Him; it was the form that their wickedness took in the purposes of God.
In Rom. 9 you have, first, the sovereignty of God, and if He chooses to make vessels for distinction, nobody can say “No” to Him; you cannot help it. Then be takes up the ground, “What if God,” &c., in verses 22, 23—another thing. And when he comes to the good side, God prepares them; when he is on the bad side, God endured the vessel fitted to destruction. Is that “fitted,” fitted themselves? He found them fitted you must not bring in what is not there. He finds things fitted for destruction, and He exercises endurance. Rom. 9 is simply absolute sovereignty; people talk about national election there, which is the very thing he is denying. You are the children of Abraham, are you? Very well, then, says the apostle, if you plead that, you must let in the Ishmaelites, for they were of Abraham. But they were slaves! That ground is gone. Then take Esau and Jacob: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Then come to Israel, but if God had not been merciful, all of them would have been cut off, except Moses' own children. God is sovereign, then, and if so, He can let in the Gentiles as well. It is a smashing argument to them, for they had broken the law, and they could not deny it. Ah! but, says the Jew, I have got the unconditional promises, and so have a right to have them. And then the apostle takes up that principle, and says, in rejecting Christ, they had rejected the promises too. And then he takes up this national election.
When I was young you might have found an infidel or two, but now you may almost say people are appointed to infidelity, though they were as bad then as now, one way or another. Infidelity is often according to the increase of light, and the increase of light often according to the infidelity. Now, it is like that in our Lord's time. The Pharisees are the Puseyites, and you may find as well Nicodemnses and Josephs, or Nathanaels even.
Then come verses 8, 9. Two kinds of priesthood here, “holy,” and now “royal.” The holy is a kind of Aaronic priesthood; “royal,” more Melchisedec. “Going in and out” (John 10) is liberty. One “fold” is a sad piece of error in translating, to keep up an established church; it should be, “one flock.” You get three things there: eternal life, never perish, and saved; going in and out; and finding pasture. Salvation, liberty, and feeding of God's sheep are thus before the mind of the Lord, and now made good to us. They are not shut up in a fold, but under the care of a good Shepherd. He keeps them safe. So it takes the image first of the Aaronic priesthood; and we are the epistle of Christ in our life, and words, and everything.
“The offering up of the Gentiles,” in Rom. 15:16, I take to be an allusion to the offering up of the Levites in Num. 8:11, “acceptable by Jesus Christ.” They could not be so without Him. I cannot carry anything up to God, except in Christ's name.
We have to offer our bodies, but he is not speaking of that so much as of praise, and thanksgiving, and adoration. It is in the man, the same character as in Heb. 13, and that is Aaronic. To show forth the praises is somewhat of Melchisedec. It all refers to Ex. 19, “a kingdom of priests, a holy nation,” and it is putting these despised believers in the place given to the nation Israel. And they will be it by-and-by. Melchisedec comes out with blessing up and down, and not intercession properly at all. In Hebrews Paul takes Melchisedec as the stamp which was to mark out Christ, but there was another priesthood, that of Aaron, and this offered sacrifices, and so on. “Darkness” is always ignorance of God, and light is the knowledge of God.
It is never said that Christ presents our worship, but in the midst of the church He sings praises.
Advocacy is a definite thing, but the priesthood in Hebrews is as for grace to help in time of need. But Christ presenting, as though we could not go in, is not the fall character of Christian worship at all. It is “the Father seeketh,” &c. I do not talk of a priest with a Father—priest over the house of God—and so draw near. I know He is there, and so draw near with boldness. But that is not Father. Worship of the Father is peculiar for the Christian, but there is a tendency to bring worship down merely to Hebrews. There is no Father in Hebrews. “The Father himself loveth you;” could you bring in a priest there. In John you got the obligation and necessity, and it is also the Father; so our fellowship is with the Father, and that is the necessity of His nature, “God is a spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

To Correspondents.

The Invercargill Circular Of April 1878.
The recent New Zealand Circular has appeared in this country, and indicates such an advance in the writer's soul that, if strengthened in faith to walk consistently with its avowed principles, he cannot abide in the ranks of neutrality, but must seek his place with those branded as Exclusives. He owns that he wrote erroneously in his former tract (entitled “Discipline and Position,” &c.) on the question of wicked association, which is the hinge on which the controversy turns. He dwells on the incompatibility of fellowship with evil and Christ, as in 1 Cor. 8-10, and the still deeper sin of countenancing those who bring not the doctrine of Christ, as in 2 John. But he is, in my judgment, mistaken in grounding the answer of God to this solemn question on the omission of εἰς σέ in Matt. 18 as read by Tischendorf in the eighth edition of his New Testament, following such slender evidence as the Sinai and Vat. MSS., two cursives, and fathers who cites loosely and insert as well as omit.
The mass of the uncials and cursives, and every ancient version known, save one, as far as I can speak, add the words, as Tischendorf did in his valuable seventh edition, and almost all editors, save Lachman, including one so extreme as the late Dr. Tregelles, disposed as he was to the narrow line of a very few witnesses of extreme antiquity. Dean Alford even suggested hierarchical reasons as the motive for the omission, in order to enlarge the church's discipline; but this seems questionable, especially as the Latins, ready enough for practice of that kind, give unanimous testimony to what limits the scope to individual trespass.
But surely the writer will see on reflection, that if we disown rightly (as he allows) an assembly which receives or retains those whose walk or doctrine denies their profession of Christ, it is a plain duty to refuse everyone who intelligently upholds or winks at that “wicked association.” Satan would be pleased indeed at high-sounding abstract condemnation in word, coupled with allowance of the evil, by thoroughly responsible souls who help it on. He does not appreciate the difference between the mere religious systems which never took the stand of owning the Spirit's presence to carry out the Lord's will in their midst, and those who owe their rise to the determination of combining holy claims with unholy associations. We have always made allowance for the ill taught Christians in systems as unintelligently but honestly framed as themselves; and for dealing in grace with ignorance; was express provision made in the abused Bethesda Circular. But it was soon discovered that many pleaded ignorance who knew far too much for their integrity or the Lord's honor; and this did lead to caution in wise men, as it engendered suspiciousness in weak men. But it would be folly to place the companies of those who gather to the Lord's name (however loose, neutral, open, or whatever they may be called) on the same ground as the ordinary denominations. It would be their deep dishonor if it could be done righteously, and they really wished it themselves, for it is to avoid the consequences of unfaithfulness in favor of their friends—the essence of party work and worse:
One can only pray that the writer may see this for his own clearance, therefore, and not let “holding the principle of believers' fellowship” as he calls it, swamp the maintenance of practical holiness in the assembly, the Lord's name being bound up with it. The open meetings cannot enjoy the allowance made for ignorance which one accords to a sect, together with the privileges and responsibility of an assembly met in the Lord's name, and recognizing the one body and one Spirit. If they were denominations, like a Wesleyan Society, the English Establishment, or the like, one might receive godly individuals at such, without question; but not so since they have assumed the place of owning the Lord's presence and the free action of the Holy Ghost, which makes every intelligent person among them solemnly responsible after another sort. For honest ignorance we should still make allowance wherever it exists. Now it is for intelligent but willful partisans that the plea is usually set up: is this really defensible? Is it loyalty to Christ? What is more deplorable than this thick-and-thin support of friends in the things of God? It is of esteem among men, but an abomination in His sight.
The writer acknowledges also that the evil is immensely aggravated by full testimony and patient admonition. Any evil might enter any assembly; but it is the want of genuine zeal in judging it scripturally for Christ's sake, which is so fatal that no assembly ought to be owned if it distinctly abandon this paramount duty. The deliberate acceptance of evil, the persistent failure to clear itself, ought to unchurch; and those who, with conscience before God, leave such a defiled meeting, are the very inverse of schismatics, if they also hold fast to the one body. Nor is it a sort of clergy, (that is, men here or there, who set up to an exclusive right to judge these questions,) who have to decide this, nor other meetings in the neighborhood, but saints in the circumstances who have to act for God in their own duty, with the interests of Christ and the church in their hearts.
There are other points, and not without moment, in the Circular needless to notice. Only let the writer beware of being influenced by the imaginary difficulties of ad infinitum contact with evil, which speculative mind's urge to destroy conscientious action. No sober mind but rejects a theoretical association extending through endless ecclesiastical receptions and ramifications. If he believes we are right in refusing a sound man who cleaves to and justifies an unsound or wicked association, he surrenders the principle of “Open Brethren,” and is bound to act accordingly. The more devoted the saints may be individually, the worse is their sanction of what is unholy. The writer endorses this himself, which is really the principle, and defines the position, of the so-called Exclusive Brethren.

Conscience.

Conscience is a great difficulty with infidels. It is practically the weak point in their armor. Protect themselves with reasonings as they may, yet they cannot shield their conscience.
It would be, doubtless, a convenient thing for modern infidelity, if it could show that conscience—instead of being a witness to evil present, and good lost—is a part of the system of human development, but “the history of the conscience, from an evolutionist point of view, remains yet to be written,” and we may safely assert, that the evolutionist will find such “history” difficult writing.
The beasts which perish possess consciousness of various kinds in common with man, but the beasts which perish possess not that which makes mortals quake. Man alone, of the creatures upon this earth, has a conscience. However, as some beasts possess a power through which they acquire the knowledge that some of their actions will receive the reward of their master's favor, and others punishment, from his hand, and because some beasts can be instructed in obedience by their masters, there are not wanting some men to assert that, consequently, a moral link exists between such consciousness in the beast and the conscience of a man!
By the aid of a stick a cow can be educated into refusing to pluck the green leaves over the fence which her tongue longs after. The memory of the beating she has more than once received for interfering with her master's wishes, teaches her to forego her inclinations. But memory is not conscience. A parrot soon learns to fear the word “stick,” learns to associate the sound of the ward with a beating, and so will leave off screaming when “stick” is said. The parrot is unquestionably wiser than the cow, but the intelligence of the creature is not conscience. Yet we are invited to accept this kind of consciousness as a link in the chain of evolution, the end of which in ourselves is conscience!
It is remarkable how infidelity degrades man as a creature, while puffing up his pride. Yet, while asserting that the human race is but the outcome of former shapes, things, and being—that man is but a link in the long chain of unknowable beginning—that man is but a brute developed, a creature evolved out of atoms and apes, the infidel pauses, and inquires, “How did man become possessed of a conscience?”
Conscience is; it cannot be shelved. I am, and my conscience exists in me. And to him who is conscious of his sinful being, it is a terrible reality. Besides doing battle daily within the breasts of men, against their very wills, conscience spoils the pleasures of sin, renders the prosperous wicked man miserable, scares the skeptic, ruins the fine theories of no future, and forces men, against their judgment and their feelings, to confess their crimes, and to yield themselves to justice and to death.
We do not deny that man may harden himself, till, despite his conscience, he becomes like the beasts, and shuns evil only because of its consequences, or, worse, till his conscience, seared as with a hot iron, is so dulled to every righteous influence, that his fellow-men drive him from their midst as too brutish for their society. In such case we may, perhaps, allow the claims of modern infidelity, by accepting the affinity between the savage element in dog and man, and own that there is a doctrine of evolution—that out of evil evil is evolved.
How came man by this inward force, this mighty power within his breast, called conscience or, first, what is conscience?
Clearly it is not the will, for conscience frequently pushes its way in opposition to the will. Neither is it reason, for while a man's reason will demonstrate to him that a given course of action will work him injury, yet his conscience will impel him forwards to do the right thing, even to the wronging of himself. It is not a conclusion arrived at in the mind upon weighing over the right and wrong of a question. Conscience is the moral sense of right and wrong which is innate to man. It is as much a part of his present being as his reason or his will. We may describe conscience as the eye of man's moral being, or liken it to a voice within his breast commanding him concerning right and wrong.
Conscience is not a faculty in man, enabling him to know abstractedly what is right and wrong, but, given the law of right and wrong, conscience appeals to man according to the precepts of the law he knows. Conscience needs instructing, it does not instruct; and according as the conscience is faithfully instructed, so will its utterances be more or less just. In proportion as this eye is tutored will be the truthfulness of its perceptions.
Men say, we will act according to the dictates of our consciences. But conscience is no standard of right. The conscience of a heathen does not address him as that of a man knowing the letter of God's word. The conscience of a Christian, instructed in the spirit of his Father's will, speaks very differently from that of him who knows merely the letter of the scriptures. And amongst true Christians there is a vast difference in fineness and sensibility of conscience. Conscience is very like a window, which lets in much or little light, if clean or dirty. Some labor to keep the window clean, others are slovenly, and their whole body is not full of light. Some Christians exercise themselves to keep the window clean, others are exercised because it is dirty.
Now, according to man's knowledge of right or wrong, is his responsibility. Having heard what is right, we are bound to obey, and conscience will speak upon the question. The heathen have the book of nature before their eyes. “The invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and divinity.” (Rom. 1:20, 21.) And more, for “when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written upon their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing, one another.” (Rom. 2:14-16.)
The nominal Christian has heard of the character of God, he has heard of God's holiness and righteousness, his conscience bears witness, and condemns him. God has revealed a standard in His word, and man's conscience tells him how utterly evil he is. Where the word of God has been heard, we cannot dissociate God from conscience. Our moral instinct, our sense of right and wrong, bear witness to the unseen God; within us there is that which knows together with God.
How came man by this voice within him? Where all was right, the voice warning of wrong was silent. It could not testify to right if no wrong existed. If man were not a sinner, he would not fear the holy God. God made man upright, and set him in a scene of good, where evil was not, and in those days man had not learned it. Had, then, man before the fall a conscience?
We do not say that he had not a conscience in the sense that he was not perfect. Conscience in itself is a good thing, but it was got in a bad way. Before the fall, man's conscience was like the wings of the insect within the chrysalis, for man had not then broken out into that condition when he should be as gods. Innocence is not perfection, any more than ignorance is maturity. The lack of knowledge of evil is a lovely thing, and thus to us is childhood's simplicity so sweet; but vastly different is the state of innocence from that “new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4:14.)
In the creation, as at first, man lacked the knowledge of evil, and his state was beautiful, and he was happy. At present man has lost that simplicity, He is mature. He knows evil; he is acquainted with the contrast between right and wrong; but he is a fallen creature, he loves the evil, and cannot do the good. When we say fallen, we mean fallen from God, and that condition in which God set him. Man gained knowledge by his fall. “The Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” (Gen. 3:22.) The knowledge is unquestionable, but, together with the knowledge, there is a nature contrary to God which loves iniquity. What kind of development shall this be called?
To the Christian it is said, “Put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Not innocence regained, nor a return to the first state, but righteousness and true holiness. For man has acquired the knowledge of good and evil, never to lose that knowledge, but in Christ he is no longer under the power of evil. And in the future the believer will possess the knowledge of good and evil, yet without a desire after the evil, and rejoicing in the good. That will be perfection. Even in this scene of sin, and having the flesh in him, the man in Christ is shown the path of perfect bliss below.
How came man by his conscience? By disobedience. He stole his knowledge, and thus his eyes were opened. Disobedience was the key wherewith the door into the world was unlocked. Paradise was not the world, but the garden of earth, but when man's eyes were opened to the fatal knowledge of evil, he feared and fled from God; and so the world began, and so it develops. Man's knowledge condemned him, and condemns him still. The one step over the boundary-line set him where the darkness reigns.
Adam, made upright by God, and never having an idea of evil till he disobeyed, not acquainted as are we with sin from childhood, must have had a conscience of exceeding sensitiveness. Man now is used to evil, is well versed in sin, he learns it alas! from his childhood. It comes naturally to him without education, for he is born in sin, and shapen in iniquity. It is as he is instructed in right, and taught of God, that he becomes sensitive to wrong. There is a vast moral difference between those first hours in the world, when conscience awoke in man, and these last days, when it is a subject for infidel analysis.
But there is one thing respecting the sensitive and refined conscience which is self-evident—conscience is not strength. If it be a light within, showing to man the right path, it is a light to feet which are paralyzed” How to perform I find not.” Conscience makes men “cowards,” and miserable. To be sure, a man may pride himself upon a clear conscience, and we do not deny that many men not “in Christ” possess consciences so high-class and refined, that they put many Christians to shame. They would not do willfully an evil thing for any consideration. But this must not be mistaken for new life in Christ. Surely, if Adam, as he was just after his fall, could see the world as it now is, he would be astonished at its low order of conscience; and it is astonishing that even infidels can really believe the doctrine of the evolution of conscience, and credit the theory that man's conscience is to-day nearer perfection than it was six thousand years ago.
Now when the Spirit of God works within a man, he begins with the conscience. True, some are apparently moved through their emotions, others through their minds; but man is gained for God through the conscience. In little children the affections do usually seem to be first reached, but in them the knowledge of good and evil is comparatively slight, and it is invariably the case with the child, that with the growth in grace there is increased sensitiveness as to the evil of sin. If a man's emotions or mind only be reached, there is no solid foundation within hire. The deeper the conscience-work, the firmer will the building stand. Man's departure from God was by disobedience, his first hidings from God were because of the fears of his conscience; God begins with man where man left Him. Man's way of return to God is by obeying the gospel, and his first laying bare of himself is the cry wrought in him by the pangs of his conscience— “I have sinned.”
It is a horrible deceit of infidelity, which bids us believe that the cry, “I have sinned,” is my development as a creature! It is the responsible creature now coming to his senses, awaking to the sense of what he has done in the sight of God. Quite true, I ought to be good, and to love God and to hate sin, but alas! I have sinned.
Now that kind of gospel preaching which lets the conscience alone, or only deals softly with it, will produce either unreal or weakly converts. There is no going on for an hour with God unless the conscience be right with Him. And this is very true of the Christian, as of the unconverted. The latter may become a nominal Christian, and be apparently all that is required, but until the Spirit of God apply the living and powerful word to the conscience, and lay all bare, a man is no nearer to God than Adam was when he was hiding from God. And with the Christian; unless his conscience be right before God, he cannot have communion with God. He has life in Christ, but so long as his conscience is not right with God, he is like a man asleep, or a ship, ashore,
One word about Christian consciousness. Conscience is the sense of right and wrong, and for those who have heard of God, this sense in relation to God. Christian consciousness is the sensibility to right and wrong. As the sense of the thing itself increases within us, so does our sensibility to it grow. Some heathens do not possess any consciousness that it is wrong to steal—they try not to be found out, but a monkey will learn to hide what he purloins. Now hiding the treasure lest it should be taken away, or lest punishment should ensue, is totally different from the moral consciousness that to steal is an evil thing. The Lord Jesus tells us that to look and long is like doing the very sin itself, and it is written of the effect produced by the law upon the quickened soul. “I had not known sin unless the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”
As the believer grows in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord, he becomes more acute in his consciousness. He mourns over the sins of the soul. It is not punishment that he fears, but he grieves that he has done wrong against his God. It was this acute consciousness which made the apostle exercise himself day and night in keeping a clear conscience before God and man. With too many there is such sloth of spirit—resulting from so little communion—that there is remarkably little exercise in keeping the conscience clear. The blood of Christ has purged our consciences. We know good and evil, but do not fear God, for we know that the blood of His Son has satisfied the righteousness of God. We do not ever fear a man who has nothing against us, and we do not fear God since He is entirely for us. He gave His Son for us, who shed His blood for us. Our consciences, instructed by the Spirit of God concerning the death of Christ, know together with God, that God has not one thing whatever against us.
Such clearness of conscience in the presence of our holy and gracious God surely leads to increased consciousness of every kind of evil thing. The window of the Christian's soul is unshuttered: he wishes the light to shine in, and his earnest desire is to keep every speck and spot from off the glass of that window; therein doth he exercise himself. H. F. W.

Notes on Job 38:1-33

JEHOVAH'S INTERVENTION.
IN a material age which questions the personality of Him who created and governs, who saves and will judge, one cannot wonder that it seems wholly incredible that He should appear and speak. Yet the great facts which abide before all eyes, and attest to every upright mind and conscience the only writings worthy to be considered divine revelations, bear witness to the same great truth, only on a larger scale. For it is impossible adequately to account for either the law or the gospel, either Old Testament or New, apart from the intervention of God. How God manifested His voice at this time is no more set out in detail here than elsewhere, save that He is said to have answered Job out of the storm or whirlwind. The fact is distinctly revealed, and this is enough for faith. It was what Job had ardently longed for, though dreading it, not because his conscience was bad, but through not yet knowing himself in His presence, and the end of the Lord that He is exceedingly pitiful and of tender mercy. The moral profit of such an intervention is beyond man's estimate.
And Jehovah answered Job out of the storm and said,
Who [is] this darkening counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up now thy loins like a man, and I will ask thee, and make me know.
Where wast thou when I founded the earth?
Declare if thou hast understanding.
Who fixed its measure that thou shouldest know,
Or who stretched the line upon it?
Whereon are its sockets sunken,
Or who laid down its corner-stone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
And [who] shut up the sea with doors,
When it burst forth—came out of the womb,
When I made the cloud its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling-band,
And broke for it my law, and set bars and doors,
And said, Hitherto shalt thou come and no farther,
And here let one set against the pride of thy waves?
Hast thou, from thy days, commanded the mornings,
Made the dawn to know its place,
To take hold of the wings of the earth,
That the wicked might be shaken out of it,
That it may change like signet-clay,
And things stand forth like a garment,
And from the wicked their light is withheld,
And the uplifted arm is broken?
Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea,
And walked about the secret of the deep?
Have the gates of death been disclosed to thee?
And seest thou the gates of the shadow of death?
Hast thou strictly attended to the breadths of the earth?
Declare if thou knowest the whole of it.
What [is] the way the light dwelleth,
And darkness, where [is] its place,
That thou mightest bring it to its bound,
And that thou mightest know the path [to] its house?
Thou knowest! for thou wast then born,
And the number of thy days [is] great.
Hast thou entered into the storehouses of the snow,
Or hast thou seen the storehouses of the hail,
Which I have reserved against the time of trouble,
Against the day of battle and war?
Where is the way the light is distributed,
The east wind is dispersed over the earth?
Who divideth watercourses for the torrents,
Or a way for the lightning of thunder,
To cause it to rain on the land [where is] no man.
The wilderness wherein [is] no man,
To satisfy the desolate and waste,
And to make the place of the green herb to sprout?
Hath the rain a father? or who begetteth the drops of dew?
Out of whose womb cometh the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who bringeth it forth?
The waters hide themselves like stone
And the face of the deep cleaveth together.
Canst thou bind the bands of the Pleiades,
Or unloose the traces of Orion?
Canst thou bring forth the Zodiac in his season,
And as for Arcturus with its young, guide them?
Knowest thou the laws of heaven?
Canst thou set its dominion over the earth?
Canst thou apply thy voice to the cloud,
And abundance of water shall cover thee?
Canst thou send forth lightnings, and they shall go
And say to thee, Here we [are]!
Who put wisdom in the inward parts?
Or who gave understanding to the perception?
Who regulateth the clouds by wisdom,
Or who inclineth the pitchers of heaven,
When the dust is poured into hardness,
And the clods are compacted together?
Thus magnificently does Jehovah challenge Job to that conference he had yearned after. But where is the here now? Why silent before Him to whose seat he was so prompt to go? Doughty words he had uttered in abundance when he silenced his three friends. But now he must learn his own measure from Jehovah and confess it to Him, if the words of Elihu still left him silent, and his own mouth failed as yet to vindicate the unfailing ways of God with His people.
The first thing done is to overwhelm him, who pretended to sit in judgment on God's moral ways, with the sense of his utter ignorance and powerlessness in the least things, of divine energy, even in the creation. Where was Job when Jehovah founded the earth? What knew he of its measure fixed, or the line stretched on it, any more than of its deep sunken bases, or its corner-stone? And where when He set limits to the sea? He whose understanding stood baffled at such a question was not in a position to judge of His deep things. Angels were there indeed to shout for joy when the sea was born and swaddled in the clouds and thick darkness; but, while its wild lawlessness strove to rise up against the divine restraint, bars and doors were set and the irrevocable sentence fixed, Hitherto shalt thou come and no farther; and here be the pride of thy waves staid. Where was Job in all this? Yet was it but a little and comparatively low part of the Creator's power and wisdom. For what of the sky, of the dawn? Had Job, since the beginning of his days, commanded the morning, or caused the day-spring to disclose the wicked in their ways, setting all out plainly as the impression of a seal, or the embroidered figures of a robe, so that evil had no longer its congenial darkness, and the arm was arrested in the very act of striking? Had Job so much as visited the fountains of the sea, and gone to explore the secret of the great deep? Had the gates of death been revealed to him, or those realms of darkness impenetrable to mortal eye? Or even to the breadth of the earth, could he say that he had bent his attention, or assert that he knew it all? Where the way to light's dwelling, and where the place of darkness, that he might undertake their direction at their source? Of course Job must know, whose immense space of life took in their creation! And then the magazines of snow and hail, had he entered and seen their vast stores reserved by Jehovah for the time of trouble when the day of battle rages for men that war? And where the way whence light or the lightning is parted, and the east wind is driven over the earth? Who divided the courses of the torrents from above, or the path of the thunder flash, followed on the one hand by rain, where man is pot, but all is desolate and Waste, and on. the other to swell vegetation where it is already? And what could Job say of the rain or the process of dew, of ice or of hoar-frost? What part did he play in these arrangements of God for the supply or the check of moisture here below? And what force could he exert on the heavenly bodies? Could he bind the Pleiades or loose the traces of Orion? Could he lead forth Mazzaroth in its times, or guide the Bear and its sons? What did Job know of the laws of heaven? and could he arrange their dominion over the earth? Could he call aloud to the clouds to cover him with abundance of waters? Could he commission the lightnings to stand submissive at his summons? Yet how small a part is all this of God's ways, whose it is to put wisdom within and to give understanding to the spirit, who numbers the clouds and inclines (or stays) the pitchers of heaven, when the dust is dissolved, and the clods are compacted together!

Notes on Job 42

We have now the second and closing answer of Job to Jehovah, while the three friends have not a word to say, as silent before His solemn intervention and appeal, as they had been silenced by the sufferer, and unable to speak with Elihu. Here is the moral solution of the book before formal sentence on the great controversy was pronounced in verses 7, 8, or the open mark of divine blessing followed, as in verses 10-17.
And Job answered Jehovah, and said,
I know that Thou canst do all things,
And no purpose is cut off from Thee.
Who [is] this darkening counsel without knowledge?
Therefore I declared what I understood not,
Things too wonderful for me, that I knew not.
Hear, I pray Thee, and I will speak:
I ask Thee, and make Thou me to knew.
By the hearing of the ear I heard Thee;
But now mine eye seeth Thee:
Therefore do I loathe [myself], and repent in dust and ashes.
The work is now effected in the sufferer's soul. Sincerity there had been throughout; but the very consciousness of integrity had put off the lesson when taught, or rather turned aside, by the thorny suspicions of the three friends; and he who needed to learn his own nothingness before God, and absolute indebtedness to grace, was as much lifted up in spirit above their insinuations, as crushed by dealings of God, of which he could understand nothing. Elihu had brought in the blessed light of soul discipline, whether to make God known where utter darkness reigned, or to purge away hindrances to a better knowledge and deeper faithfulness. But Jehovah's intervention brought him into His presence, in a self-judgment which made him feel, not the glory of God only, as never before, but himself nothing but an object of His grace. How much more should this be true of us who now know Him in redemption, and behold His glory in the face of Jesus glorified on high.
The friends are silent; Job does not believe in his heart only but makes confession with his mouth. He murmurs, he resents, he questions no morn, but frankly owns, as a thing realized in his soul, that Jehovah is able for all things, and no purpose withheld from Him. Evil in men or Satan, ruin everywhere in this fallen world, had touched Him in no wise. His own difficulties and reasonings were but the insubmissiveness of heart of one who, as Jehovah had Himself said in His exordium, darkened counsel without knowledge. It was Job that proclaimed his own ignorance, declaring that he did not understand, things too wonderful for him that he knew not. Not a word now about his friends, or their lack of intelligence, as of candor and charity, however true. He judges himself before God; and uses the words which God had applied to him, the withering proof of his presumption, as the lowly expression of one who felt his need of learning from God, and of desire that it might be wrought in him. Finally, he acknowledges that anything he had previously known of God was but like a report from afar, compared with that near and deep sight of Him which made him loathe himself, so as to repent in dust and ashes. He humbles himself under God's mighty hand, that he may exalt him in due time.
But God humbled the proud, and this meanwhile where He is more or less known, as He will for the most stubborn in a day at hand. So He turns to those who had displeased Him in His dealings with Job—
“And it came to pass that, after Jehovah spake these words to Job, Jehovah said to Eliphaz the Temanite, Mine anger is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends, for ye have not spoken to (or of) Me rightly as My servant Job. And now take unto you seven bullocks and seven rams, and go unto My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering; and Job, My servant, shall pray for you—for surely his face I accept—that I may not deal with you [after your] folly, for ye have not spoken to (or, of) Me rightly as My servant Job. And Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite [and] Zophar the Naamathite, went and did as Jehovah had said unto them; and Jehovah accepted the face of Job. And Jehovah turned the captivity of Job in his praying for his friends; Jehovah increased all that Job had two-fold. And there came unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all his former acquaintance, and ate bread with him in his house, and condoled with him, and comforted him over all the evil which Jehovah had brought upon him; and they gave him each a kesitah, and each a ring of gold. And Jehovah blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. And he had seven sons and three daughters; and he called the name of the first Jemima, and the name of the second Kezia, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And there were not found in all the land women fair as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them inheritance in the midst of their brethren. And Job lived after this a hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, four generations; and Job died, old and sated [with] days.”
Thus did the Supreme Arbiter of all moral relationship decide in Job's favor, not because of his patience, great as it was proverbially, but because, in spite of the most severely searching trial—and not least from those who should have helped on the work of grace, instead of judging him ruthlessly according to appearances, which made. them unjust to the sufferer, and left them wholly ignorant of God's mind—he had at length submitted absolutely to God, and vindicated Him in the recognition of his own worthlessness; while his friends failed to own their error, not to Job only or Elihu but even to Jehovah, preserving to the last the sullen reserve of pride, not judged but wounded. No repudiation of themselves did they manifest, no repentance in dust and ashes, like Job, any more than a real and thorough magnifying of Him who thus deigned to make known His decision for the profit of faith throughout all time here below. It is clear and certain that all done in the body, yea, that the counsels of the heart, with the hidden things of darkness, are all to stand out in that day that is coming; but God reveals this to act on our souls now, in promoting, to the highest degree, both self-judgment and the refusal of censoriousness. No notion can be more false, or less holy, than putting all off till then. Faith seeks and finds the blessing of it now; but if of faith, it is by grace, which judges self in God's light, and abhors all hasty and censorious judgment of others. In that day shall every true soul have praise of God, who may, as in this ease before us, vindicate one, and rebuke another, even now. But then, and only then, does the Christian look for it absolutely, which keeps him peaceful and dependent while waiting till, the Lord come.
Here the reversal was complete. Jehovah intimated to Eliphaz His anger against himself and his two companions: they had not spoken to Him rightly, like His servant Job. They must needs, therefore, approach Him by sacrifice through the very one they had so grievously misjudged, Godward and manward, persecuting him whom, we may perhaps say, God had smitten, and certainly talking to the grief of one whom He had wounded. And His servant Job, whose prayers they had contemned, would pray for them, lest they should be blotted out of the book of the living, for indeed they had wrought folly, in their thoughts and words at least, and Jehovah otherwise must deal with it on them, for they had not vindicated Him like Job. They, therefore, had thus to bow; while favor and blessing more than ever crowned Job, Jehovah turning his captivity when he prayed for his friends. How gracious, as well as righteous, His ways! How holy and wholesome! So He proved Himself then; and so He is still, when far more fully, yea perfectly, revealed in Christ. And as we see then the form of pious confession by burnt-offering, so, in accordance with that day, the outward seal follows of earthly blessing in divinely marked abundance. Men may point to the twofold increase with wonder, and compare Job's household and stock at the end of his trial with its account before the trial began. Do they think God cannot act as He will, or count, or write? What senseless unbelief! He is Sovereign, and nothing could be more suitable or impressive then, and in itself be a lesson for man always; and if He does not so bless now, it is because other and higher ways of grace are in accomplishment, in harmony with the cross of Christ on earth, and His glorification in heaven. But He is the same God, and ever good and wise, and His end then, as also His beginning now, is, that He is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Nor does it seem to me uninstructive that the daughters are singled out by name, especially in a quarter, and before the days, where men are all, and women but playthings, or upper slaves. Not such was God's mind, even for those who feared Him, outside the privileges and polity of Israel. How contrasted the imposture of man more than two thousand years after! The days of Job, confirmed by all else in the book, fall in with the patriarchal condition; as the style of the book seems to point to Moses.

Notes on John: 14:1-4

The way was now opened to bring out the Christian's hope. Death, in its most solemn and most blessed aspect, had been put before the disciples, however little, as yet, able to follow their Master in thought, impossible, then, in deed in any way, as the Lord let the too confident hear, though he learned it not till he proved his own utter powerlessness by the basest denial of Him he loved. How much we have to learn by most painful and humbling experience of ourselves, because we fail in sustained subjection to, and dependence on, our Lord! But now, this cleared, the Savior turns to what is unfailingly light, because it centers in Himself. It is no coming as Son of man to judge, no appearing in glory, to set all that is crooked straight, and govern all righteously. It is His own coming for His beloved ones, that they may be with Him where He is, in the Father's house on high.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe in me also. In my Father's house are mail), mansions: if not so, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and will receive you unto myself, that where I am ye also may be. And where I go ye know the way.” (Vers. 1-4.)
A greater break with Jewish feeling could not but be than such a hope, a shock, assuredly, as wholly changing all they had expected, but only as supplanting an earthly prospect, however blessed, by a heavenly one incomparably more blessed. If His going away by death, not yet understood, either in its depth of suffering or in its efficacy, but as departure from them on earth, might naturally disturb their heart, He begins to explain its all-importance as making way for faith. He was no longer to be as the Messiah of Israel, according to prophetic intimation, on earth, still less displayed there in indisputable glory and resistless power. He is about to go a man yet to heaven, and there to be an object of faith, as no longer seen, even as God is. “Ye believe in God, believe in me also.” This was a quite new thought about the Messiah, rejected here, glorified in heaven, believed on in earth: simple enough now, but then a. strange sound, and an entirely new order of associations, which set aside for a time all that saints and prophets looked for; not that these were more than postponed, but that those things, altogether unprecedented and unexpected, were to come in by the Lord's going on high after redemption, with just enough in the Old Testament (as in Psa. 110:1) to stop the mouth of a Jew who might pervert the law to deny the gospel.
This, then, is the central fact for the Christian as for the church—Christ not reigning over the earth, but glorified on high, as the fruit of His rejection here below. But it is far from all, though all else be but consequences in divine grace or righteousness. The next thing He proceeds to unfold is that there is room above where He is for the saints who follow their rejected Lord. “In my Father's house are many mansions: if not so, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you.” He would not have raised a hope incapable of realization for these saints. If He discloses His own bright abode with the Father, there is ample room for them as for Him, and His love, which was giving Himself for them, would keep back nothing else. His love, and the Father's love—for indeed they were one in purpose as in nature—would have them near Himself there. There are many abodes in the Father's house. It is no question of crowns, or cities, or place in the kingdom. There will be reward according to walk, though grace will secure its own sovereign rights. But here differences vanish before the infinite love that will have us with Himself before His Father. Were it too much, or not so, He would have told us, because He goes to prepare a place for us. Love never could, nor does, wittingly disappoint its object.
There is another thing of deep moment contingent on this, but plainly revealed, instead of being left for us to infer. He is coming to fetch His own to heaven. And this was meant to be ever acting on the heart, as we see by the subsequent teaching of the Holy Ghost throughout the rest of the New Testament. Our new place and home is where Christ is, and whither He is to translate us, we know not how soon. Times, dates, signs, circumstances, are purposely excluded. The Christian understands them by a sound intelligence of the word which takes cognizance of all things, but knows nothing of them for his own hope. He reads them about the Jew or the Gentile for the earth; but his are heavenly things, where such measures do not govern. He looks above sun, moon, and stars, where Christ sits at God's right hand, and knows that Christ is coming again, as surely as He went, and this to prepare a place for us. And mark, He is not sending angels to gather us above. This were a great thing, but how immeasurably more the love as well as honor, since He, the Son of God, is coming again, and will receive us to Himself, that, where He is, we also may be. He came for us to die for our sins, to God's glory; He is coming again, to have us with Himself in the same home of divine love and nearness to the Father where He is. He could not do more, He would not do less. There is no love like that of our Lord Jesus; nor is the predicted exaltation for Israel, still less for others, to be compared with it, any more than earth is with heaven.
“And where I go ye know the way.” His own Person, the Son of the Father, in grace and truth, presented to man, and revealing the Father, is the way which could not but lead to heaven. He came from God, and was going to God. No earthly blessedness could adequately express His glory: He might, and would, take it, and glorify God in glory as in humiliation; but the saint constantly feels there is, and must be, more and higher. Heaven is His who could communicate with His Father, and command its resources, though never whilst here abandoning the place of the lowliest of men and servant of all need. Yet, as He was the conscious Son, so the saints knew He must be going to the Father, as He was the way there.

Notes on John 14:5-12

The Lord had laid down the inward conscious knowledge of the disciples, according to God, and the glory of His own person, whom they confessed soon, by redemption and the gift of the Spirit to bloom in full intelligence. But in this they were as yet dull to apprehend His meaning; and he who was remarkable among them for his gloomy thoughts expresses this for all.
“Thomas saith to him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; [and] how know we [or can we know] the way? Jesus saith to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father but by me. If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also; and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (Vers. 5-7.)
No the thoughts of Thomas limited the Lord to that earthly horizon which formed the boundary of his own hopes of Israel clustering around their Messiah. He could not conceive, any more than the rest, whither the Lord was retiring, now that He had come to the people and the land which, he knew, He was pledged to bless richly and forever. How, then, know the way? His mind was yet earthly. As he had no thought of heaven for the Lord Jesus, so he overlooked the way. But this furnished the opportunity for the Lord to announce, in words as simple as profound, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Much conveyed in them might have been gleaned from testimonies to Him, most from His own previous discourses, as given in this very Gospel, but nowhere so much combined with so brief an expression. It was worthy of Him, and at that moment above all.
A way is a great boon, especially through a wilderness which characteristically has no way. Neither had Eden, or unfallen creation, a way; but then it needed none. For all things everywhere were good, and as long as man ate not of the forbidden tree, there was no straying. All else it was for him to enjoy, giving thanks to God. But sin came in, and death, the harbinger of judgment, and all was changed into a wilderness, and men wandered in all directions, and all of them away from God and irreparably wrong: a wilderness-world truly, a void place, where there is no way. Not that promise did not, less or more, bold out the hope of better things; not that law did not, in due time, thunder and lighten; but God's way was not known, as His grace alone could show it. Now it is; for Christ is the way, the only sure way, for the most erring of sinners, avowedly for the lost, whom He is come to seek and to save; and He is the way to the Father, not to God displayed in power and glory on the earth, as the Jew should expect for the day that is coming, when the rejected Messiah returns as the glorious Son of man. But He is much more, and above all time or change, the deepest rejection only forcing out what was there always, His own personal glory as Son of God superior to every dispensation. And in the fullest consciousness of it, He says to dimly-seeing Thomas, “I am the way.” Why should one wait for the time when the wilderness shall be gladdened by His presence and power? Then, doubtless, the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; and a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called, The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. But He is this, and more now, to all that believe in Him, and faith delights to own, as God to make known, all He is, when unbelief disowns and slights and casts Him out. He is accordingly the one divine way; and as there is none other, so is He all, sufficing for him who has no strength or wisdom or worth in any sort. But Christ is the way now for the steps of such as know Him, the wisdom of God in an evil world—Himself the highest and perfect expression of that wisdom, and thus open to the babe in faith, no less than to an apostle.
Further, He is the truth, the full expression of every one and of everything as they are. He tells us in His own person what God is; He shows us the Father, being Himself the Son. But He, not Adam, shows us man. Adam, no doubt, shows us falling, or fallen, man; Christ alone is man according to God, both morally, as once here below, and in counsel, as now risen and in heaven. Moreover, as He shows us holiness and righteousness, so also He brings out sin in its true colors; as He says Himself, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth Father also. If I had not done among the works Which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” Hence He, and He only, brings out His adversary the devil personally, the prince of this world, but the constant enemy of the Son. Even the law, holy, just, and good as the commandment may be, is not the truth; for it is rather the demand, on God's part, of what a man should do; but Christ tells out, not merely what he ought to be, but what he is. The law claims his duty; Christ declares that all is over, and he is lost. But Christ also shows us a Savior in His own person, and this from God, and with God. Not that He is not the Judge, for He will judge living and dead, as surely as He will appear and set up His kingdom; but He is Savior now and to the uttermost. Indeed it would be impossible to say what of good and glorious He is not, nor from what evil He does not deliver. He is the truth, the exhibition of the true relation of all things with God, and consequently of the departure of any from God. He, and He only, to the challenge, Who art thou? could answer, Absolutely that which I am also saying to you. He is what He says, as no other man was, the truth; and this, as He intimates in the same chapter viii. of our Gospel, because He is not man alone but God.
But He is more than the way and the truth; He is life, and this because He is the Son. In communion with the Father, He quickens. It is not so in judgment; for the Father judges none, but has given every kind of judgment to the Son, and this because He is the Son of man; and as men dishonored Him because He deigned in love to become man, so the Father will have Him honored, not only as God, but as man in judgment. Believers honor Him in a very different and far more excellent way. They bow to Him now, they willingly gladly exalt Him while rejected by the world. They are thus by grace in communion with God, who has set Him on high at His own right hand, and will by-and-by compel every creature to bow and own Him Lord, to His own glory. But those that believe have life in Him now, Which issues, by the Spirit's power, in the practice of good, and hence they will enjoy life-resurrection at His coming; as those that have done evil must be raised to resurrection of judgment in its day.
Thus the believer had Christ for all possible need, and all the blessing that our God and Father can bestow. One cannot have Him as the way and the truth without having Him as the life also, for indeed He is the resurrection and the life; And this life, which we have in Him, the, Son, the Holy Spirit strengthens and exercises, as His word flourishes it, revealing Him afresh to our souls. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord; and as the way in Christ is a path of love and liberty and holiness, so the end also is everlasting life.
Nor is there any other means of blessing: “No one cometh unto the Father but by me,” says the Lord.
There is the surest guarantee, the amplest and the highest good, but it is absolutely exclusive. By none but the Son can one come to the Father; by Him can come any, the proudest Jew, the most debased Gentile. Through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father, as says the apostle expressly, when showing the nature of that church which now takes the place of the ancient people of God. And be it observed that it is not to God only in sovereign grace above sin, saving the most guilty and wretched it is to the Father; in that relationship of grace which the Son knew eternally in His own right and title, and none the less, but the more, to His Father's honor, when He glorified Him on earth as the perfectly dependent and obedient man. How wondrous that we should come to the Father, His Father and ours, His God and ours: all glory to Him and His work of redemption, through which alone it could be to us who believe!
Next the Savior lets them know that the knowledge of the Father is inseparable from that of the Son. “If ye knew me, ye would know my Father also; and henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him.” He is the image of the invisible God; in the Son is the Father known; and this the disciples are given to learn now objectively.
But there is no capacity in the bright and active-minded disciple to enter into divine things, any more than in the most reserved or sombre one. “Philip saith to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” (Ver. 8.) An excellent wish for one who had not seen Jesus and helped others in their desires to see Jesus. But it was sad unbelief in Philip, especially after the patient gracious words just uttered to lead them on.
“Jesus saith to him, Am I so long with you, and hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; [and] how sayest thou, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I [am] in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words which I says to you, I do not speak from myself; but the Father that abideth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I [am] in the Father, and the Father in me; but, if not, believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works which I do shall he do also; and, greater things than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father". (Vers. 9-12.)
The Lord thus poured a flood of light on the perplexity of the disciples. The Messiah Himself was not a mere man, however endowed and honored of God. He was a man, and the lowliest of men, but who was He that was pleased to be born of the virgin? He was the Son—He was God, no less than the Father, and in Him the Father was displaying Himself as such. It was God in grace, forming and fashioning His children by the manifestation of His affections and thoughts and ways in Christ the Son, a man on earth. This they had known, and yet had not known. They were familiar with Him, and the facts of His every-day works and words, little feeling as yet that they were words and works for eternity of the Creator displaying Himself in incomparably deeper fashion than in the wonders of His creation, or of His government in Israel. No one hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. It was for this He came, not only to annul sin by the sacrifice of Himself, but to manifest the eternal life which was with the Father, and this as the Son revealing the Father. How new the order of being, how strange the range of thought, to the disciples! Yet this had Jesus been ever doing here below, occupied with His Father's business long before the beginning of His ministry.
“Believest thou not that I [am] in the Father, and the Father in me?” All turned on the glory of His person; and the very unity of the Godhead, the cardinal truth Israel had to testify, makes a difficulty to the reasoning mind of man, unable to rise above its own experience. Not only had law and prophets prepared the way, and John the Baptist's witness, but the words that Jesus said were not as any other man spoke. They were no mere human things, nor independently of His Father. He had been made flesh, but never ceased to be the Word, the Son; and the works He did bore the unmistakable imprint of the same gracious One—the Father. It was He that did the works, or His works. The disciples were therefore called to believe that He was in the Father, and the Father in Him; a state of being only possible in the divine nature, to which the works themselves gave a witness that left the incredulous without excuse.
And this the Lord follows up with His formula of special solemnity in verse 12, wherein He intimates the testimony that would be rendered to the glory of His person when, and because, He was going to the Father, the power which should invest the believer, and enable him to do, not only what they had seen Jesus do, but things greater still, in honor of His name. And this was to the letter fulfilled. For never do we hear of the Lord's shadow healing the sick, nor were napkins taken from His body (save in lying legends) to cure disease, or expel demons, not to speak of the multitudes which were brought in, far and wide, by apostolic preaching. What greater proof of divine power than to work as He Himself did, and yet more by His servants; and more, again, when He went on high than when He sent them out from His presence on earth! But if the power displayed—if the works were to be greater, who could compare himself with the Lord in self-renouncing love, dependence, and obedience Certainly none that believed on Him.

The Holy Ghost in Person

Each of the divine persons in the eternal Godhead has, in connection with Christianity, obtained a blessedly distinctive expression, which never previously had any place in the revelations made to faith. The Father has been Himself revealed; the Son, as man, risen from the dead, has been glorified in heaven; and the Holy Ghost has for eighteen centuries been a dweller in the house of God upon earth, and in each member of the body of Christ.
Yet it would be difficult to predicate which of these blessed facts—facts which constitute the essential character of Christianity—has been most ignored, not to say denied, by Christendom. How many are they who rank as Christians, but have no solid apprehension of the revelation which has been made of the Father, who have no divine perception of union with Christ in glory, and perhaps, least of all, have clear, conscious possession of the Holy Ghost in person.
These remarkable verities of Christianity which, impinging at every point upon our souls, are unfolded in all their wondrous bearings in Paul's epistles, constitute the framework—the very bone and sinew—of that special character of truth which sitting at the feet of Gamaliel gave no qualification for apprehending, but for which the “light above the brightness of the sun,” and the voice that spake with him, afforded preparation, and which was itself divinely supplied by the revelations made to him in the third heaven. But the Christianity which prevails around us, even where divine life really exists, is the crude, and alas! almost purely selfish, thing which is undisturbed by divine claims, and unimpressed by divine desires. Relief from the load, deliverance from the guilt, escape from the wrath, in a word, forgiveness of sins, and, at the most, some knowledge of justification, exhausts the ordinary conception of it as a present reality; finally, heaven after death!
Could anything more perfectly ignore every divine thought of God's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus before the world began, which not only requires the meeting the exigencies of the sinner, but the satisfying in righteousness every claim His holiness preferred; and, above all, the fulfilling those cherished desires of His blessed heart which can find no adequate answer until His Christ is invested in all His glories, heavenly and earthly? Nothing could, perhaps, more strikingly indicate how imperfectly people enter into God's thoughts, than the comparative readiness with which they accept truth as to themselves, as to Israel, and as to the nations, without ever grasping the scope of divine purpose to which all these things are absolutely subservient, being really but the means to that preordained end. Man's unhappy egotism shuts God out, even where God must be everything, or He is nothing; for if, as to His eternal purpose, or as to His ways with us in time, we lay claim to be anything more than vessels of mercy, “afore prepared unto glory,” but meanwhile broken pitchers, for the light to shine out, we entrench upon what is due to the divine persons, and thus is the Head dishonored in His members, and the Spirit of God grieved. Practically, what more than anything else conduces to this deplorable failure in the appreciation of these things is a defective apprehension of the presence of the Holy Ghost in person, and what it carries with it to faith.
The great mass of souls have no personal knowledge of the Father, nor sense of union with Christ, the glorified Man on high, and this because they have not the Holy Ghost in person. They stand, as it were, between the two things of Eph. 1:13— “After that ye believed ye were sealed.” So far from believing, and sealing being synchronous, the word “after” clearly marks how positively it is otherwise in every case, although setting no limit, long or short, as to duration of the interval. In point of fact the Christians around us are just there; to speak broadly, they are all occupying that interval; they have made it their halting-place; they have not gone “on unto perfection” (Heb. 6:1), and since the Holy Ghost is given of God “to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32), many remain unsealed, and consequently fall short of the knowledge of the Father, and of eternal life, which embraces it. (John 17:8.) To take another scripture (1 John 5:18), they believe on the name of the Son of God, but do not know that they have this eternal life; and, though God's children by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26), they are scarce, as to stature, up to the “little children” who have known the Father. (1 John 2:13.)
Where shall we find believers in the great Christian communities who have practically, to the joy of their souls, a real, precious, personal acquaintance with the Father and the Son? So blessed and so abiding a privilege is absolutely beyond the reach of souls, until the Holy Ghost is known in person as the indwelling divine Paraclete, by whom alone that holy, blessed, happy intimacy can be enjoyed!
If we turn to the Lord's words to “His own,” as given in the Gospel of John, we find how wonderfully He stamps a reprobate character on this scene, by the fact, with its issues, of the Holy Ghost being here in person. “I will send him to you, and, having come, he will bring demonstration to the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” (Chap. 17: 7, 8.) It is the fact of His presence in person which convicts the world of its sin in having made away with the blessed Son of God, and these are its present relations to God in blood-guiltiness, thus and thereby infinitely enhancing His grace in delivering eclectically the souls whom He brings out of the world to Himself. Then, farther, the Holy Ghost's presence demonstrates God's righteousness in His exaltation of the Son to the throne of the Father, consequent upon His finished work, and in attestation of the divine satisfaction in it and in Him. Again, His presence demonstrates that judgment is pronounced, for that the world and its prince are alike judged, is proved by the fact that He, who was refused of the world, and afterward met the power of Satan at the cross, has through death annulled him that had the power of death, has been received up as a Man into glory, and has Himself sent down the Holy Ghost in person as the promise of the Father.
But if His personal presence has this threefold aspect towards the world and its prince, so also has it a singularly blessed tripartite character in respect to Christ and His saints. In this same pathetic discourse of our beloved Master the same night in which He was betrayed, He unfolds the deep and precious significance of the Comforter, for whose advent it was even gain to them for Himself to go away, and connecting chapter 14:26 with chapter 16:13, we find how blessedly the past, the present, and the future are comprised in the wonderful scope of His current ministry to our souls.
“He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (Chap. 14:26.) What the Master Himself had done or had said, but which could not then be communicated in power to the heart, and precious, and beautiful, and full of divine import as it was, was often unheeded or forgotten, because its significance was wanting to their souls, should all come back in mighty volume and enhanced blessedness, every word melodious, and every act fragrant with the virtue and the value of His atoning work and glorified person, now disclosed to faith, and ministered by the Holy Ghost, that other Comforter. For an instance of this character, compare chapter 7: 39 with chapter 12: 16.
“Whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.” (Chap. 16: 13.) If we might reverently say so, He is the mighty, living, divine Telephone, by means of which celestial harmonies are convoyed to the soul, the mind of heaven conducted into our hearts, and all the present thoughts of Christ, not only as to the assembly, but also in respect to His interests of grace in the world, are brought home and unfolded in divine power and heavenly freshness to the members of His body here.
In same verse— “He will show you the things to come.” (Compare 1 Cor. 3:9, 10.) All of the church's portion, whether her path of sorrow and, alas I of defection here, or of glory beyond; all of the new creation, wherein is no sorrow and no defection, but “all things are of God,” to the glory of its exalted Head; all of the coming kingdom of the Father above, and of the Son of man below, when Israel shall be gathered, and the nations universally blessed, after the indignation and wrath have been poured out, as they must be; all of the new heaven and the new earth for eternity, so far as revelation of it has been vouchsafed; all this, and much more—yea, every precious thing of God and of Christ—does the Holy Ghost in person occupy Himself in ministering to those who, by His indwelling presence, are personally sealed for God, as of the many sons He is bringing to glory, and are corporately constituted the body of Christ.
But further; certain things are set forth in a very definite way. The word is “the sword of the Spirit.” (Eph. 6:17.) How clearly does this imply, not only that the Holy Ghost is here in person, but that He alone enables us to use the word rightly! Prayer, supplication, and intercession are very distinctly in connection with Him. (See Rom. 8:26; Eph. 6:18; Judo 20.) So that I may not trust myself either as to how to pray, or what to pray for; but He, divine person though He be, “joins his help to our weakness.” Do I mortify the deeds of the body? It is through the Spirit. (Rom. 8:13.) Do I want guidance, as a son of God away from home in this world? I am led by the Spirit of God. (Ver. 14.) Do I covet to be more like Christ in glory? This practical transformation is by the Lord the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18.) Do I need a positive check in service, or the sounding of a warning note as to where I should labor? The Holy Ghost knows how to bring it to pass. (Acts 16:6; 20:28.) And in fine, all the personal path of the saint, if according to God, whether as to growth, devotedness, service, communion, worship, or whatever the spiritual exercise may be, as well as the whole administration of gifts in the assembly, and their exercise in subjection to Christ, must be in the energy and power of the Holy Ghost, or it is mere fleshly activity, and the workings of the human will. (1 Cor. 12:3-13.) And while speaking of the assembly, it may be added, that when the glorified Head of His body draws out the affections of His members, and inspires towards Himself the ardent longings of His bride for His coming, the Holy Ghost, in unison with the saints, takes the lead in this desire of heart also; “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” (Rev. 22:17.)
Once again; “All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that he [the Spirit of truth] shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:15.) Is there anything so dear to the Father as the person, the character, the ways, the work, the interests, the glories of Christ? In all this our fellowship is with the Father, which is only possible to us by possession of the Holy Ghost in person. Has God children on earth through faith in Christ Jesus? He gives them the Holy Ghost to witness of this to their spirit, and that they may address Him, “Abba, Father” by that “Spirit of adoption,” who is “the Spirit of his Son.” (Rom. 8:15, 16; Gal. 4:6.) Do they, then, seek access to their Father? It is “by one Spirit.” (Eph. 2:18.) Are they strengthened of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with might in the inner man 2 It is “by his Spirit” (Eph. 3:16). “Fellowship of the Spirit” (Phil. 2:1), and “love in the Spirit” (Col. 1:8), are alike theirs. So wing to the Spirit, they “shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:11); and, should they fall asleep, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken their mortal bodies by, or on account of, His Spirit that dwelleth in them. (Rom. 8:11.)
May we not fittingly ask ourselves (implicitly accepting, as we do, the doctrine of the Holy Ghost's presence) whether we anything like adequately apprehend all that is involved in it, either as to the world, or as to the saints of God? He whose presence here in person is the pledge of the world's impending doom, is “the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” (Eph. 1:14.) Meanwhile, in this interregnum, Christ, the glorified Head, has “One body” and “One Spirit” here below (Eph. 4:14), to whom His interests are confided. How little have we understood all that is implied in “the communion of the Holy Ghost.” (2 Cor. 13:14.) How little, for instance, is it practically recognized by saints, that not only every spiritual victory obtained, but every single thing done that is truly and purely spiritual, everything essentially pleasing to the Father, or glorifying to Christ, is due to our possessing the Holy Ghost in person! Every bit of divine love that descends into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), as well as every bit of true, divine apprehension of heavenly things and heavenly joys, is the result of our possession of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Ought we not, then, to be free to confess how much we need the touching appeal which He, the Holy Ghost, has addressed to us, and which is found in the midst of that divine unfolding of the very highest truth—the Epistle to the Ephesians? “Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” R.

The Church of God, and the Two or Three Gathered Together in My Name.

The idea of a church (or an assembly) of God is one foreign to scripture. We find in scripture “the assembly of God” in a particular locality, and also as applied in a corporate sense to the totality of the church in the world—to the system which is built upon the profession of Christ's name, admittance into which is by baptism unto His name. To these two ideas (facts as they were at first), and to nothing else, is the term “Church of God” applicable. No assembly of Christian people can now be designated as “the assembly of God” in a locality; this would be to ignore the real and received condition of the church, and would be an unjustifiable and untenable assumption. The remedy for those Christians who desire to quit what they know to be evil is in Matt. 18:20, the “two or three gathered together” in Christ's name, but proving the reality of it by subjection to Him. His name is owned in all orthodox denominations; the proof of the being gathered together in His name, and the reality of it, depends upon the principle of those so gathered, and upon practical obedience to His word. Otherwise it would be as easy to say, (and certainly more guilty) “I am of Christ,” as “I am of Apollos.” But when gathered in that name, and practically subject to His word, they have the assurance of His presence as the object of their affections, and the living source of authority, and they have likewise the teaching of God's word, both as to their individual privileges as Christians, and as to the doctrine of the church, whether as to its calling or as to its interior action and economy. It is our duty, as well as our privilege to be guided by the latter, as far as is possible under the circumstances, for God's rules as to His church remain, however long and generally they have been set at naught, and the Holy Spirit yet dwells in the church (not merely in a particular section of it), in spite of the church's utter disobedience and insubjection. Special blessing is, without doubt, with those who seek to be obedient; but there should be no assumption of what in the present divided state of the church, would not be true—of what would be true only of all believers together, and in common with ourselves.
Moreover, “the church of Christ” is a phrase never found in the New Testament as applied either to a single local assembly, or to the church collectively. In these senses it is always as we have seen, “the church of God.” We meet, it is true, with the expression, “the churches of Christ,” and that remarkably enough in the Epistle to the Romans (chap. 16:16), an expression as anti-Popish, and as anti-Roman Catholic as the apostle, under direct inspiration could have used.
Again, Christ is never spoken of as “Lord of,” or “Lord to,” the church. It is well to search scripture carefully, not for the sake of making distinctions, but with the object of (by God's grace) learning what God would teach us by distinctions He Himself has made. We need to search scripture in the present day—when in the department of scripture knowledge as in every other, men's minds are active, and a mistake, which might at first be unobserved, as though immaterial, may in due time be at the foundation of and vitiate a vast superstructure built upon it Godly vigilance and care were never more needed than at the present time.
But though Christ is never spoken of in scripture as Lord of, or to, the church, there is very much which is connected with His Lordship, and indeed everything pertaining to individual responsibility. Ministry, discipline, church government, even our individual faith (“stand fast in the Lord"), is connected with the Lordship of Christ. So also we read of “brethren in the Lord,” and of the church, till it grows “unto an holy temple in the Lord.” So likewise the table is the Lord's table. All responsibility is unto the Lord. But with this is closely connected the name of Christ; for “we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ,” and, as the head of the woman is the man, so the head of the man is Christ. Headship certainly is involved in the name of Christ, though the term “Lord” may express His rights as such more specifically and more generally.
Now it is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that a few Christians (few at least comparatively), who desire to quit evil, are gathered together. They feel, although His name may be owned in the various ecclesiastical systems as part of their creed, that His authority is extensively and systematically set at naught in these systems, and that the Holy Ghost is, as to church action, almost entirely prevented from acting by human rules and organization. This necessarily is destructive of true unity. Such Christians see and feel that this is a very serious state of things. God has supplied a resource, rather than a remedy, in His word, for those who seek it and care for it; and in His love and mercy He shows us in what it consists. It consists in forsaking such systems and in coming together in Christ's name, believing in His promised and assured presence, and being really and practically subject to Him, that our meeting in His name should be a reality, and not a mere form (in which even less of His presence may be felt than He vouchsafes in the systems which we have left), whilst it might be saying, “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these.”
But we can arrogate to ourselves nothing, of what belongs only to the saints as a whole. True, God teaches us by His word. He has taught us what “the church, of God” is—what it is in its true and responsible state—what, it is in His mind and purpose, whilst in the world—what it will be when its true state is over. All this it is our privilege to know, and to enter into the joy of. We learn that the church of God is the house of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and that even though this house is in sad confusion, so as to be comparable to a “great house,” containing vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor, yet till it pleases God to take away true Christians, and to give up what is left to demolition, His house, and no particular body of professing Christians within it, is the temple of the Holy Ghost. We learn also that the church (viewed spiritually) is the body of Christ, and we have to act, so far as in us lies, upon the principles laid down in God's word for His church. For instance, we should do nothing which would contravene the truth of the unity of the body—we should act upon the principle of the unity of the body as far as we can, yet not say that we are God's church or Christ's body, for we are but a fragment of the former, and as individuals are members of the latter. We have not a corporate existence of our own in God's eight, even though endeavoring to the utmost of our ability to keep the unity of the Spirit, and to observe the unity of the body. Water baptism admitted us into the house of God, but “by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.” Of the latter the one loaf is a figure, whilst it is a symbol also of Christ's body given for us. Our earnest desire should be to maintain the holiness of the Lord's table—that holiness which alone is consistent with His presence. If it be asked, “as those thus gathered around our Lord Jesus Christ, what are we?” Simply the few or remnant, gathered to His name and in subjection to Him. At all events, if the word church is used, it should be understood to be limited to mean, that we endeavor to act as far as we can on church principles, without being strictly and formally a representative body, and owning that we are but a remnant strictly and formally.
J. B. P.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ?????? and ???? AS USED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

THE word τέκνον (from τίκτω to bear) is used for “child,” irrespective of sex, as descended by birth from its natural parents. (See Matt. 2:18.) Whilst olds, “son,” is the word used to distinguish a male from a female child (see Matt. 10:37), it is also used in a general sense to denote descendants as representing the family or line of the particular person. (John 4:12.) When we look into scripture to find the use of these words, in reference to the relationship of a believer to God, we remark that the word υιὀς—son—is the word always used in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and τέκνον does not occur in the book, whilst in the Gospels and Epistles of John τέκνον (child) is used to express that relationship with only one exception, which will be referred to hereafter. The word υιὀς occurs frequently in John, as applying to Christ, or in the simple sense of male, child, or descendant, (and once in John 17:12, son of perdition), never (save in chap. 12: 36, the exception referred to), in allusion to a believer's relationship to God.
Our English version does not give the distinction, as both words are translated promiscuously, “child” and “son.” A Greek Testament, or the Englishman's Greek Concordance, will show the distinction, and at the end of this paper a list of the transposed renderings is given. When we consider the character of the Epistle to the Hebrews as contrasted with the writings of John, we shall find a key to the difference, and it is one which opens up many other portions of scripture where the words are used.
The Gospel and Epistles of John treat, as all admit, of life and nature, and they teach that the life which a believer has is the same that is in Christ, and the nature is derived from God and is thus divine. On the other hand the “Hebrews” takes up the position rather than the nature of a believer, and shows his heavenly calling and access to God, in contrast with the earthly calling and distance from God of the Israelites.
Hence we find, as we might expect, that John uses the word τέκνον—child—expressive of a being deriving its life and nature from another, as children do from their parents, whilst in Hebrews we have υιὀς—son—expressive of the distinctive position and dignity which a son has in a household. The former word “τέκνον,” carries with it more thought of internal intimacy, moral characteristics, community of life and nature, whilst the latter word “υιὀς” directs the mind to a position given or recognized and the dignities resulting from it. A “child” delights in the intimacy and affection of the family, a “son” may have to submit to parental authority (Heb. 12), but will be, displayed in manifested glory. (Heb. 2:10.) If we turn to Rom. 8:19, 21, we find this very distinction carefully brought out, as we read of the “liberty of the children of God,” on the one hand, and on the other the “manifestation of the sons of God.”
In further development of this, we, shall find a distinction made between that which morally characterizes a person, that is, his nature, and that which his ways externally proclaim him to be, and the two words under consideration are respectively applied to each. The distinction is more subtle, and not quite so easily grasped in some cases, but it will be found that it always assists in understanding the subject to which the words apply. For example, in Eph. 2 we read in verse 8 of “children of wrath,” where the apostle is speaking of the condition in which they were “by nature,” but when he speaks of that which they had manifested themselves by their acts to be, he says in verse 2, “sons of disobedience.” Again in Rom. 8:16, where the purely internal action of the Spirit (testifying to our spirit) is spoken of, the words τέκωα θεοῦ, children of God, is used, but in verse 14, where the leading of the Spirit is in question, but may be displayed externally, we find υίοὶ θεοῦ—sons of God, in Rom. 9:26. It is clear from the context that the question is of positional relationship owned by God, and so, as we should expect, it is “sons” and not “children” as in our version.
In John 12:36 (the exception referred to) we find the expression “sons of light,” and on examination of the context, we find that the Lord urged on those whom He addressed to have faith in the light that they might become (that is, get into the position of) “sons of light.” In Eph. 5:8 we find almost the converse of this, where the apostle exhorts them to display in walk the moral characteristics which were theirs already as “children of light.”
By observing the distinction between the words we shall find a connection in passages, which does not appear to exist as they are now translated. For instance, in Gal. 3:26 the Greek is, “For ye are all SONS of God, through faith in Christ Jesus,” and we see at once how beautifully chapter 4:6 is connected with it, “And because ye are sorts, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father.”
It is scarcely necessary to add that the same person may be, and the believer of course is, both “child” and “son;” but the comparison of such passages, for instance as John 1:12, and Gal. 3:26, where the Greek gives “children” in the first, and “sons” in the second, enables us to appreciate the value of the precious distinction which the Holy Ghost has marked by the use of the different words, and surely it is a loss to us when we do not apprehend what He has pointed out. It is not necessary to trace out here all the passages where the words are used, but we shall find that, although in some cases the exact distinction may not be easily seen or of great importance, we shall always be helped in our understanding of scripture by noting where the difference exists. There is one use of the word τέκνον (child) which may be noted in conclusion, because it bears on the person of the Lord. It is used, just as with us, in an affectionate way, “My child, go and do so-and-so,” (see Matt. 9:2; 21:28,) and in this way the Lord is addressed by His mother (Luke 2:48), “Child (τέκνον) why hast thou thus dealt” &c., but in no other passage is this word applied to Him. It may be that this word is not applied to the Lord, because as He was never less than “God over all,” it would be inconsistent to use one implying life and nature derived from another, or it may also be because it might appear to weaken the thought of His deity on the one hand, or of His true humanity on the other, if He were called τέκνον ἀνθράπου or τέκνον θεοῦ. There is no such difficulty about υίός, because this word does not, like τέκνον, necessarily include by implication the time or manner of becoming υίός referring simply to position. Hence we find ωίὸς ἀνθρύπου and ωἰὸς θεοῦ. The more we examine the word of God, the more do we discover the wonderful wisdom of Him who inspired it; and we find also that not a word can be altered without a positive loss to our souls. J. S. A.
τέκνον (child) is translated “son” in the following passages—Matt. 9:2; 21:28; Mark 2:5; 13:12; Luke 2:48; 15:31; 16:25; John 1:12 Cor. 4:14, 17; Phil. 2:15, 22 Tim. 1:2, 18 Tim. 1:2; 2:1; Titus 1:4; Philem. 1:10 John 3:12. It is also translated “daughters” in 1 Peter 3:6.
υἰός (son) is translated “child” in the following passages—Matt. 5:9, 45; 8:18; 9:15; 12:27; 13:38; 17:25, 26; 20:20; 23:15, 31; 27:9, 56; Mark 2:19; Luke 1:16; 5:34; 6:35; 16:8; 20:34, 36; John 4:12; 12:36; Acts 3:25; 5:21; 7:23, 37; 4:15; 10:36; 13:10, 26; Rom. 9:26, 27; 2 Cor. 3:7, 13; Gal. 3:7, 26; Eph. 2:2; 5:6; Col. 3:6 Thess. 5:5; Heb. 11:22; 12:5; Rev. 2:14; 7:4; 12:5; 21:12. It is also translated “foal” in Matt. 21:5.

From Troas to Miletus

Let us remark in this brief narrative, which is not accidental, that when Paul had planted the gospel in a country, he did not abandon the converts, but returns with affectionate solicitude, instructs, exhorts, edifies, and watches over the seed planted by his instrumentality, in order that it may be preserved and grow in the knowledge of Christ. He does not neglect the Lord's garden, well knowing that tares may spring up where the good seed grows, and that the enemy can spoil the harvest, if it is not well guarded. It is more needful now than ever to do this, for we are in the perilous times of the last days. Though the enemy can never pluck the sheep out of the Good Shepherd's hand, yet he may disperse them; they may be subjected to the effect of every kind of evil doctrine, by which their growth is hindered, the Lord's glory trampled upon, testimony to Him destroyed, and the candlestick taken away. Let the Lord's servants take warning!
Paul then returns to Macedonia. It is not important, but in verse 4 we should read, “Gaius and Timotheus of Derbe.” From verse 5 we see that many attached themselves to Paul in the work: and others, besides those in verse 4, went before.
Luke accompanied the apostle in his journey towards Troas. The others tarried for him at Troas. It is not without interest to see this emotion of hearts moved by the gospel which Paul preached. All were free; some, such as Apollos, laboring apart; the others, the companions of the great central figure—great for his faith in Christ, and as sent directly from Him by the voice of the Holy Ghost—occupied and sent by him to carry on and accomplish the work in places he would himself have visited, had he not been obliged to go elsewhere, when the opportunity presented itself for them to be thus sent.
Leaving Philippi in five days, they come to Troas, and there remain seven days. Everywhere assemblies had been formed. Here a door had been opened to Paul in coming from Ephesus, but he had not been able to remain long, being uneasy about the Corinthians, since he did not find Titus there, whom he had sent to them. It was at Troas that Luke, who wrote the Acts, had attached himself to Paul, to accompany him the first time he visited Macedonia. We do not know how the gathering at Troas was formed; but there was one, and we are given to see into it a little, not its discipline or gifts, as in Corinthians, but its ordinary walk.
The first day of the week the disciples met together to break bread. This was evidently their custom. It was the first day of the week, and the disciples gathered themselves together, according to their habit, to break bread. It was the first object of their meeting, the center of their worship. Other things were done; they spoke or taught, as Paul did, they sung; but they met together to break bread. This is confirmed by 1 Cor. 11:20, where the apostle says that the Corinthians did not really assemble for the Lord's supper, since each ate his own supper, not thinking of the others, but eating and drinking for his own pleasure. Now this shows clearly that the object of the assembly was the Lord's supper. At the beginning they broke bread every day. (Acts 2:42, 46.) When gatherings were formed everywhere, and zeal had been enfeebled, they met only on the first day of the week, the day of the Lord's resurrection. This was not a rule, but Luke speaks of it as a usage well known everywhere among the Christians. It seems that Paul had awaited this day to speak to the disciples, simply because it was the day of their meeting together; nevertheless, that is not certain. However it may be, he profits by the occasion to preach to them before setting out, and he speaks till midnight. They met, it seems in the evening.
The discourse was long, and they had not yet broken bread; the weather was hot, and there were many lights. Such is human weakness, that all this so affected a certain Eutychus, that he was overcome with sleep, as Paul was long preaching, and fell down from the third floor, where he was sitting by the window.
He was taken up by the men dead. Paul naturally interrupts his discourse, goes down and throws himself on him, declaring that life is still in him. The separation had not yet taken place; he was stunned by the fall, and, if the power of God had not interposed, he would have been caught in the clutches of death. Life, however, had not yet gone out of the body; and by the Spirit Paul so works on it, that the functions of life are restored. The bonds between soul and body are reestablished. In the case of the child restored to life by Elijah (1 Kings 17:21, 22) the soul had already left the body, and must return to it. From these cases, as always elsewhere, we see that the soul is entirely distinct from the body; and though in our present state it works by means of the body, yet it is in its habitation; that life in this world is the activity of the soul by means of the functions of the body, the activity of which is restored by sleep, because we are feeble; that when the soul leaves the body, the man is definitely dead, but that the activity of the soul by the functions of the body may be interrupted, as is partly the case in sleep; and this action is re-established, the soul not having left the body, if God does so or permits it.
In its highest part—the spirit, the soul in relation to God is alas! at enmity against Him; it will not and does not submit to Him. With its inferior part it works in the body: marvelous creation! in relations with God above, and with nature before. It is a mixture of thoughts which seek to rise to God, but cannot, and of creature thoughts. It is responsible to God according to the nature it has originally received from Him. When born of God, it receives a totally new life, in which it is in relation with God, according to grace and redemption, a life animated by the Spirit which it receives from above, and which makes of the body an instrument for the service of God. Possessing this life, we know that, “if our earthly house of the tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” I have said this in reference to Eutychus, because in these days the simplicity of the truth regarding the soul is lost sight of by many.
Paul then goes up again, and, having broken bread, talks still even till day-break, comforting much the smile he saw perhaps for the last time. He then departs leaving Eutychus alive to the joy of the brethren. Paul sends on his companions by ship, and goes himself on foot, desiring to be alone. For us this is often a wise thing; to be alone, apart from men, but alone too with God, where we can think of Him, of ourselves before Him, of the work, as He sees it and where in His presence responsibility is felt, instead of activity before men. No doubt this activity ought to appear in His presence, because it is holy; but at all events the activity of man is another thing than to place oneself before God, such as He is for us. It is not less true that this communion with Him, as His servants, gives and sustains a blessed confidence in Him, an intimacy of soul with Him, full of goodness and of grace.
Paul had instructed his companions to take him in at Asses, which they do: from thence they proceed to Mitylene, to Chios, and finally to Miletus, half a day from Ephesus. Paul had determined not to stop there, desiring if possible to be at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. If he had stopped at Ephesus, he must have remained some time, as he had labored there for a long period, and with great blessing. He passes on therefore, sending from Miletus for the elders of the assembly at Ephesus, the center of the work in that region. It is evident that the apostle was pre-occupied with the circumstances in which he was placed—with the apparent end of his career. This thought, it is probable, exercised an influence over him, when he went alone on foot to Asses. And also it was the cause of his long speech at Troas.
It is not mere imagination which suggests this idea. The apostle expresses (at the end of the Epistle to the Romans, written when he was about to leave Corinth, Rom. 15:31) his fear that he might be an object of hatred to the rebels in Judaea; and he desires the Romans to pray that he may be delivered out of their hands, hoping thus to be able to see their face with joy, and from Rome to continue his work in Spain. We know that in Palestine he was taken, and after two years' confinement at Caesarea, went a prisoner to Rome; that he remained there as such two years more; and that there, as far as the word is concerned, his history terminated. It is possible that he may have been liberated; I believe so, from what we find in the Epistles to the Philippians and to Philemon. (Phil. 1:25, 26; Philem. 1:22)
From 2 Timothy, too, it seems that he was set free, and that he returned to Asia. But as to the Biblical record of his labors, all is finished at the end of the Acts, which leaves him a prisoner at Rome. According to God's thoughts, such as they are communicated to us in the scriptures, that was the end of the apostle's work. And he felt that such was the case; and it is no more a question of going to Spain, or traveling anywhere beyond Rome. The Holy Ghost spoke of bonds and tribulations; and Paul's thoughts now turned towards his departure from this world.
The elders being come from Ephesus and assembled before him, Paul speaks of his ministry as of a thing accomplished. A little before he had told the Romans that he had no longer any place in those parts, his Career there being over. (Rom. 15:23.) Revisiting the scenes of his work in Asia, and the regions of Asia Minor, he shows us the character of this work, and the effect of his departure; and this renders his discourse very important. He had served the Lord with much humility, in trials and in tears, caused by the snares of the Jews, whose opposition was continual and without conscience. In spite of it, however, he never failed both in public and in private to preach and teach all that was necessary for them, repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ, as the true state of a soul brought to God. Nothing is said as to the order of these two things in the heart, although in such order there is something practical, but of the true character of repentance and faith. Repentance was to be preached in the name of the Lord Jesus (Luke 24:47); so that His name might be owned and that sinners might repent. It was founded on the ground of the grace and truth that came by Him; but true repentance takes place in the presence of God, and goes beyond sorrow for having done wrong, or shame, or the mere work of the natural conscience.
The soul revealed to itself through grace comes with open eyes into God's presence. All is judged according to Him whose presence is manifested to the soul; everything is judged as it appears in His eyes. The word of God is His eye in the conscience, and makes us feel that He has seen all, and then things appear to us as they do to Him. We no longer excuse ourselves nor do we desire to do so. The result is confession to God by a conscience which feels itself in His presence (Heb. 4:12, 13); while the heart restored desires holiness, and the soul feels its responsibility for all that we have done. We justify God in our condemnation (Luke 7:29); though in such a case there is always some confidence in His grace, not peace but confidence: for He who has become light to the soul is also love, Himself being both these things. When He reveals Himself as light in order to show us our sins, it is in love He does so in Jesus; and He is love. He cannot reveal Himself to the soul without being the two things, for in His nature He is both.
Take the case of the woman in Luke 7. The light and the love of God had penetrated into her soul; she did not yet know what it was to be pardoned, but her heart had confidence in Jesus; and at the same time her conscience was deeply convinced of sin.
Take again the case of Peter (Luke 5:8); of the prodigal son (Luke 15:17-19); and of the thief on the cross: (Luke 24:47). Repentance thus is the effect of the revelation of God to the soul, which then shows itself; and up to a certain point it knows God as light which manifests everything. “Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did.” But as love to the soul, the Lord inspires confidence, though the remission of sins be not known. This is discovered by the soul by faith in Christ Jesus—not only that Jesus is the Christ, but that by Him its sins are pardoned, for He suffered for our sins: and if we receive the word of God, we believing in Him know that He has taken all our sins on Himself on His own body on the tree. When He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; because by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified by that sacrifice.
Although faith in the work of Christ is necessary in order to possess peace, yet His person ever remains as the object of the heart—the Christ who has loved us, and given Himself for us, who now is glorified at the right hand of God, after having borne our sins, and submitted to death and the curse for us, but ever living for us now; who Himself will return to seek us, and make us perfectly like Himself in glory. We believe in Him, not only in the efficacy of His death. He is our righteousness before God, made such by God Himself; and we are accepted in the Beloved. John 17 tells us that we are loved with the same love wherewith the Father loves the Son. If true repentance is made in the presence of God, and in respect of Him, confidence and peace come by means of the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has made peace by His own blood.
Such was the testimony of Paul, the truth of the conscience, peace, and the knowledge of God by His Son Jesus come down here in love, ascended into heaven as man, having accomplished the work which His Father had given Him to do. So great were the truths and the revelation, and so like the apostle in the execution of his ministry! But this ministry was drawing to its close, without knowing that such was the case. The Spirit testified in every place that bonds and tribulations awaited him; and he foresees that they would see his face no more. This furnishes the opportunity to speak of the effect of His departure. The sheep of Jesus are safe in His hands; as to the life He has imparted to them, they can never perish—none can pluck them out of His hand. But a temple had been established, a house on the earth, of which the apostle was by grace the founder according to the will of God, the wise master-builder. (1 Cor. 3:10.) According to another figure, He has placed a candlestick on the earth to shine round about Himself, and this He can take away. There will always be a house of God built with His hand, and by His power which will never grow less—Christ the foundation, the stones living, by grace placed on this chief corner stone, and growing to an holy temple for the Lord. (Matt. 16:18; 1 Peter 2:4, Eph. 2:11.)
Against this work of the Lord—a work carried on by grace in the heart—the gates of hell cannot prevail; for it is the fruit of the power of the Lord Jesus, working in grace. Moreover, this temple is not yet entirely built—it is growing. At least we may expect that by grace every soul can be introduced into it. God alone knows the moment when the work of grace which forms the assembly, the body of Christ, shall be accomplished. (See 2 Peter 3:9.) But God's will has been to form an assembly on the earth. The work of Jesus, of which we have spoken, is done here below; but beyond this, as we have seen, God formed an assembly by the ministry of Paul, a temple on the earth, confiding the building of this temple into the hands of men, and under their responsibility. It is now the habitation of God through the Spirit, Jews and Gentiles being built up together, founded according to the will of God, but left to the responsibility of man. “But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon.” “Now if any man build upon this foundation [Jesus Christ] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall he revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is.”
There are three kinds of workmen: a good Christian and a good workman, such as Paul; a good Christian and a bad workman, himself saved, but his work to be consumed; then he who seeks to corrupt and destroy the temple of God, whose work, as well as himself, shall perish. Such were the heresiarchs, who, moved by the enemy, sought to corrupt the faith. Three sects of them existed during Paul's own time; but as long as he remained in the world, his spiritual energy resisted and overcame evil; such as immorality among the Corinthians, and the loss of the doctrine of grace among the Galatians. But with his departure this energy disappeared. He had already said (Phil. 2:21), that all sought their own, not the things which were Jesus Christ's. No soul was to be found like that of Timothy to care for the state of the Christians.
Paul tells the elders then that, after his departure, grievous wolves should enter in among them, and that even of their own selves perverse men should arise, and draw the disciples away. Till Satan be bound, and the Lord come to do it, there will ever be conflicts. Since the beginning of the world, whenever God has established anything good, man's first act has been to destroy it. First, there was man himself. Then, in the world after the flood, Noah got tipsy, and his authority was lost. Israel made the golden calf before ever Moses came down from the mountain. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire the first day after their consecration, for which cause Aaron could no more enter into the inner sanctuary with his priestly garments of glory. Solomon having loved strange women, his kingdom was divided. So in the assembly established on the earth, soon after the apostle's departure, evil presents itself; and it is of this that the elders are forewarned.
Where were the other apostles? At Jerusalem. Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, leaves the gathering scattered by the destruction of Jerusalem. The chief of the apostles abandons to Paul the preaching of the gospel among the Gentiles, to which work the Lord Himself had called him at the first, and then again expressly by the Holy Ghost at Antioch. To the other apostles, therefore, he does not entrust his ministry. Still less does Paul imagine that there can be successors in his office. He knows nothing of successors; but he exhorts the existing elders to faithfulness and watchfulness, commending them to God, and to the word of His grace, “which,” he says, “is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Christ, ascended up on high, can still give evangelists, pastors, and teachers; and He does give them; but the office of personal apostolic care has disappeared. “After my departure,” says the apostle. This is a departure without succession. It is sad, surely, yet true; and we have seen it in all that God has established among men. His grace continues, the faithful care of Christ can never fail. The Spirit has given His instructions for this time, as at the beginning, and the Lord is enough for the present condition, as He was faithful in the past. But such a thing as a succession to his apostleship is unknown to Paul when he speaks of his absence. God, and the word of His grace, are for him the refuge of God's people. They can meet together, and Christ will be in their midst; they can profit by the gifts He has granted according to His promise. The rules for our walk are contained in the word; but the apostleship, as a personal energy watching over the organization of the assembly, has disappeared, leaving no succession behind it.
This is a solemn truth, which should be well borne in mind. But we must never forget that Christ is always enough for the assembly; that He is faithful in His care of it; and that He can never fail in strength, in love, or in faithfulness. What we have to do is to count on Him, and that with purpose of heart. Divine power is manifested more in Elijah and Elisha than in all the prophets of Jerusalem from the time of Moses himself. The Lord gives what is needful to His people. The word of God confirms sadly, but abundantly, what Paul says here. His testimony is that not only should evil appear in the exterior constitution of the church, but that it should continue till the Lord come in judgment. Let us consider what the word of God says.
Jude declares that it was already needful to write to them, to exhort them to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, because certain men had crept in unawares who turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness. They were corrupting the assembly from within; and, what is very remarkable, he declares that these are they (that is, the class of persons) who will be among the objects of the Lord's judgment, when He comes with ten thousands of His saints. The corruption, begun during the time of the apostles, will continue till the coming of the Lord. So much for internal corruption.
But this is not all. Evil unfolds itself from the other side, as we find in the Epistle of John. Some had abandoned Christianity openly. (1 John 2:18.) “Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us.” Thus we see that though this apostle survived Paul for many years, and certainly watched over the assemblies in Asia Minor at least, dwelling, as it is said, at Ephesus, it was only in order to record the fact that the last time was already come, which was shown by the presence of these antichrists, and by the apostasy of many.
If it be asked why God waits so long before executing judgment, the answer is to be found in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” To Him a thousand years are as one day. In the time of the Jews, judgment was pronounced (Isa. 6) eight hundred years before it was executed, that is, when they had finally rejected the humbled but also glorified Son of God.
The epoch of this ruin of the assembly on the earth is determined, namely, on the death of Paul— “After my departure.” Doubtless, corruption had been rapidly growing. The mystery of iniquity was already working during the apostle's life; but his spiritual energy knew how to resist it. He being gone, however, it went on increasing without hindrance, except from the grace of God in individuals, and the chastisement by which God arrested the decline into ruin and corruption. The testimony of God, although hid under a bushel, has never yet been extinguished; and God has from time to time raised up witnesses in the midst of darkness, feeble perhaps but true: and, at the time of the Reformation, delivered whole countries from open corruption. But we have seen that the evil, introduced in the time of Jude, was to continue till the judgment.
This solemn and humiliating truth is confirmed. by other passages. The assembly has never been restored. Not only does John say that the last time has come, but that this is marked by the presence of antichrists. Now Antichrist shall be destroyed by the coming of the Lord. Paul reveals to us that the apostasy that began to show itself in John's time will be fully unfolded at the last time; when the lawless one himself shall be manifested, whose coming shall he after the working of Satan, and whom the Lord shall destroy when He comes in glory. The mystery of iniquity was already working, even during the apostle's life, and the progress of evil was to continue from his days till the Lord should come. Thus too the Lord says that the tares are to grow till the harvest.
It seems to us, then, that the death of Paul is the moment from which we must count the prevalence of evil. We say “prevalence,” because evil was already working, though Paul resisted it by the power of the Spirit; and because this evil was to go on increasing till Christ should come; because in the last days perilous times should come, and the form of godliness without the power of it. Then in 2 Tim. 3 we also get the word of God set forth as that which is necessary, and sufficient to render the man of God perfect and furnished unto all good works. All this truth is powerfully confirmed by what is said in Rev. 2, where the Christian who has ears to hear is called upon to hearken, not to the church, but to what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Hence in His words we find judgment pronounced by Jesus Christ on the state of the church.
We would add that it is one thing to submit to the discipline, or practical judgment of an assembly regarding evil, and quite another thing to suppose, when we are called upon to judge of the slate of the church by the words of Christ and of the Spirit, that the authority of the assembly is the perpetual safeguard of the faith. The universal assembly, Christianity, is corrupted and divided, and cannot, even as an instrument in the hands of God, secure the maintenance of the truth. It is submission to the word of God alone that can do it.
In order to show how far the primitive church wandered from the truth, we shall quote from a book read in the assembly, one hundred and fifty years after the death of John, cited by one of the best fathers of the primitive churches as part of the inspired scriptures, and esteemed as such by another who was less orthodox, it is true.
The author, pretending to have received a revelation says, “A man possessed a vineyard, and commanded his servant to gather the fruits. The servant, being very faithful, did what was entrusted to him, and besides, out of devotedness to his master, rooted all the weeds out of the vineyard. The master was so much pleased with the servant that he consulted his son and his friends as to what should be done for the faithful servant, and it was decided to make him heir with the son. Now the master is God, the son is the Holy Ghost, the friends are the angels, and the servant is Christ. God had sent Him to establish the clergy for the support of the faithful, but He had done much more than this, and what God had not told him to do—He had taken away sins. Thus it is, according to the consultation of God with the Holy Ghost, and the angels, co-heirs with the Holy Ghost, who is Son and Heir of God.” Such is what was read in the churches, written by the brother of Pope Pius, and pretended to have been inspired by God! and this a hundred and fifty years after the birth of Christ. What is in the same book recounted of holiness is no better. What is there related as holy in the visions of Hermas, it is impossible to transcribe on these pages!
Such then, is the testimony of the apostle; after his departure evil would prevail, active both within and without. He tells them nothing of the nomination of successors to the elders, any more than he does of a successor to himself. He insists on the faithfulness of those who were there, whom the Holy Ghost had made bishops (for bishops and elders were one and only one office); and commends them to God and to the word of His grace, which was able to build them up, and give them an inheritance among them that were sanctified. In fact, no means is established in the word for the continuance of the organization of the assembly. People are mistaken on this point. The disciples were waiting for the coming of the Lord, the Lord Himself. (See the parables of the servant, Matt. 24, of the virgins, and of the talents.) But the apostle shows that this coming might be delayed till long after the life of those then on the earth. The sleeping virgins are the very same that are revealed; the servants who received the talents, those found afterward at the coming of the Lord. Paul says, “We which are alive and remain till the coming of the Lord.” They did not know when He would come, but still they waited for Him. (Luke 12:36, &c.) What has produced the moral ruin of the assembly is, that, having ceased to look for the Lord, she has said, “The Lord delayeth his coming.” (Matt. 24:49.) She has taken and beaten her fellow-servants, has eaten and drunk with the drunken. The hierarchy has been established; worldliness has invaded the assembly; and thus alliance has been made with the world.
The apostle recalls his own faithfulness, how he had been an example to the elders, laboring with his own hands, since it is more blessed to give than to receive. Then, kneeling down, he prays with them all. And they, weeping, embrace him sorrowfully, chiefly for the word that he had spoken, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship. Solemn departure, the end of the apostle's public work! He speaks of it as of a finished work, announcing that henceforward, in consequence of his absence, evil would prevail in the outward assembly of God on the earth, but assuring the faithful that God and the word of His grace would be enough to build them up, and give them an inheritance among those that were sanctified. This remains certain. The power of Christ secures it; but the exterior system, Christianity, would be corrupted, having given up the expectation of the Lord's return.
Paul teaches the same truth in 2 Tim. 3. John tells us that the last time has already arrived.
The patience of God continues to accomplish the work of grace; and Christ to supply the gifts necessary to the perfecting of the saints, and the building up of the assembly, although our coldness greatly hinders the Spirit. And this will be the case till the end of the gathering of saints. Christianity has ripened in the midst of evil, as foretold by the apostles. It is evil which began in apostolic times, and which was already sufficiently mature in John's time, the last of the apostles; for he says that the last time had already come. We trust that the cry, “Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him,” has already begun to go forth, and that many hearts will respond, and kindle their lamps. May the Lord add daily to their number!

The Book of Joshua, and The Epistle to the Hebrews. 1.

The leadership of the people of Israel by “the ark of the covenant and the priesthood,” under Joshua, when the time was come for them to cross over Jordan into Canaan, form the magnificent fore-front of this book. Besides this, their history reveals the coming forth of “the captain of the Lord's host with the drawn sword in his hand,” followed by their victories, and overthrow of all their enemies. Nor is this all; for it is not till after this clearance is made, that “the tabernacle of the congregation was set up at Shiloh,” under Eleazar the high priest, in order that the covenant relations of Jehovah with the twelve tribes might be seen to stand upon election and grace, and be maintained inviolate amongst them, on what God was in Himself. Moreover, “the tabernacle at Shiloh in the land of Canaan” was as necessary a part in the book of Joshua, as opening the way of approach to God for Israel as worshippers; as was Gilgal, and their recurrence to it, indispensable in the history of their conflicts, for their renewal of strength in the day of battle.
If we look into these subjects we must take a larger view than this circle embraces, and think of the nation of Israel in their primary relations to Jehovah. For this we must obviously refer to the books of Numbers and Exodus, that we may not lose sight of the original ways of God and His purposes, as declared to them by Moses, when he was their commander and mediator, and Aaron their great high priest. Indeed this link is manifestly kept up in the early chapters of the book of Joshua, and applied in a most encouraging way to him by the Lord, who said, “As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee, I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” Besides this assurance to Joshua personally, as the appointed successor of Moses, there was the necessary continuation. of the high priest, and the Levitical priesthood in their midst for services connected with the ark of the covenant and the order of the tabernacle at Shiloh, which neither Joshua nor his armed men dare touch. Each of these great functionaries held their respective appointments directly from the Lord; and the two in their combined action, whether in the sanctuary of God, or in the camp of Israel, carried out the mind of Jehovah concerning His own holiness and majesty, or His people's glory.
Indeed, the priesthood and the tabernacle were indispensable as the way of approach for them as worshippers; whilst outwardly the relations of God with Israel by the ark of the covenant were manifested in the sight of all their enemies. This was true during the ministration of Aaron in the wilderness, or the Levites with Joshua when Jordan fled; or when marching round the city Jericho, and the walls fell down flat. Moses and Aaron were inseparable in their varied ministries at their exodus from Egypt, as were the priest and the captain at the door of the tabernacle in Shiloh for the settlement of the twelve tribes in the promised land. Indeed, these orders and services were not only established by God at the first, but when Aaron died on Mount Hor (as recorded in Num. 20) “Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son,” as the Lord commanded him. So likewise when Moses was to die on Mount Abarim, and he prayed the Lord “to set a man over the congregation,” he was directed to take Joshua and put him before Eleazar the high priest, and give him a charge in the sight of all the people. The connection, and yet the contrast between these two, are also marked in Num. 27, “And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him, after the judgment of Urim before the Lord, at his word shall they go out; and at his word shall they come in; both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.”
It is necessary to gather up this divine order given to Moses respecting the man who was to succeed him for a commander—as had been previously done on Mount Hor concerning the successor of Aaron as a priest. “And Moses did as the Lord commanded him; and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands upon him and gave him a charge.”
The book of Numbers (and especially chapters 20 and 27.) introduces to us Eleazar and Joshua, and the latter is seen to be under the guidance of the former, who was to ask counsel of God by the mysterious Urim. This order, and these enactments and appointments (one need scarcely say) are the basis for the onward history of Israel under. Joshua, and the anointed priesthood with “the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God;” and also “the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth,” which they bore along. This ark was not only the witness of Jehovah's presence, but the symbol of His relations with His people; and embodied typically to their faith by the costliness of its construction and its marvelous contents, together with its staves and rings, the coming forth from God of the Word made flesh. In due time Christ would begin His mysterious journey in this wilderness world, or else, like the tabernacle at Shiloh, dwell among them, or later still in Jerusalem, fill the temple itself. In result He would finish that work which the Father had given Him to do for His own glory, and our eternal redemption, to which the ark and all the vessels of the sanctuary pointed.
It is of the greatest moment for us who are Christ's, and who are now sealed by the Holy Ghost, to gather up this precious fact, that God always takes care of His own glory; and of the full and final blessing of His people according to His purpose; yea, that He never lets them be separated, or pass out of His own hands, but works them out together, because (wonderful to say) He has made His people and their blessedness a constituent part of His glory. How suited, therefore, was this ark of the covenant to be in advance of the twelve tribes on their way to rest in the habitation of God, upon the mountain of His holiness, that Mount Zion which He had chosen for the full display of Himself in the midst of His people, in the still future day of their millennial joy. Such was the ark at Gilgal.
On our part, we may charge ourselves that we neither separate our present communion with God from the pathway of His own glory in the life we live on earth; nor accept any other object for eye or heart, than Christ Himself, in whom and through whom the glory of God and His people's present and eternal blessedness meet, and are counseled and established.
Every eye was upon “the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God” who had gone forth before them to find a resting-place worthy of Himself, and in which to keep His appointed feasts, and to share his delights with Israel, whom He had chosen. Their journey out of the wilderness had begun, for “it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host, and commanded, saying, When ye see the ark, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place and go after it.” Besides the hidden but glorious contents of the ark, as typifying the Christ of God, since manifested in His life, and death, and resurrection, and besides being the external and abiding symbol of God's presence in sovereign goodness, the ark was a witness from Himself of the manner in which He was to be known by them, and approached.
This was two-fold in its declaration. First, Israel was to learn by it that God, as Jehovah, had put Himself into covenant relationship with them, “it was the ark of the Lord your God” by means of which (or rather what it foreshadowed) not a jot or a tittle of all He had ever promised should fail. Secondly, they were to learn by it that God, as creator of the heavens and the earth, would pass before them in His majesty and power, to make a way for them and drive out all their enemies. Therefore it was “the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth,” for He weigheth the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance, and taketh up the isles as a very little thing. These are some of the characteristics, both of the hidden and manifested glories of the ark that preceded them, and which charged itself with the entire weight and burden of the people, and the dangers and difficulties of the way. They and the ark were to inaugurate a new history, for God had come out of the heavens to walk with His people on the, earth, and lead them into His rest.
In the next place, who are the persons which demand our attention in this movement out of Shittim? This company is “the priests the Levites,” who are appointed to bear the ark, which, when Israel saw to be in motion, was their signal for advance, “then ye shall remove from your place and go after it.” This the congregation do, and the first act they behold is the way in which God gets glory to Himself, or puts a seal upon His own title, as “the Lord of the whole earth,” by the power through which Jordan, when it intercepted their path, was driven back, and stood up as in a heap. Nor was this merely an act or seal to the title and rights of God as “the Lord of all the earth,” (for how could He be this if Jordan were allowed to bar the way?) but Jehovah loves to give the seal to His own people, at the same time and by the same act, that He is the “Lord your God,” for it was when the priests feet that bare the ark touched the brine of the waters, that Jordan rolled itself back. The priests and priesthood thus gain a distinguished place in the book of Joshua, and are in the foreground because of their consecration and appointment to the services of the sanctuary. “And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people,” &c. The prominence of the priests, as bearing the ark, does not interfere with the place of Joshua (in this chap. 3.) as the leader, for he “spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant;” nor indeed, throughout the book, when Eleazar comes out more distinctly into the forefront, to divide their inheritances.
Indeed, the value of these records is, in the concurrent action of Eleazar and Joshua, where they can be combined, as in chapters 14, 17, 19, 21, which we need not anticipate just now.

Notes on Matthew 22

The parable of the husbandmen refers to the responsibility of man, even when it treated of Christ's coming. Now the Lord proceeds to speak of the ways of God in grace toward Israel and also toward the Gentiles. In the preceding parable it was a question of seeking fruit as God was doing in Israel. Here a king makes a marriage-feast for his son, and invites the guests to the feast. Remark also that it is a likeness of the kingdom of the heavens (ver. 2), whilst in the preceding parable they were seeking the fruits according to a fixed measure of obligation, that is, the law, though this were by the ministry of the prophets and the Son, without the kingdom being in question.
Those first invited were the Jews, and of course also during the lifetime of Christ. (Ver. 3.) Afterward, when all things were ready He sent once more His servants—the apostles after His death—to invite them to the wedding-feast (ver. 4); but they made light of it. We find here the two characters of men: the preoccupied whose interest is in the world, and who do not trouble themselves about the Lord; and the violent who persecute His messengers. (Vers. 5, 6.) Luke, as is so often the case when moral things are treated of, enters more into detail, whilst for the other part he recounts in few words a crowd of incidents which do not make a moral picture. Luke 1 say, enters more into details for the purpose of showing what excuses men present for neglecting Christ; then he gives us to see the Lord seeking in grace the poor despised ones of Israel when the chiefs would not have the Messiah.
Here we have the great historical fact that Jerusalem and the Jews as such would not have anything to do with Him and would persecute those that are His, bringing on themselves as they have done the judgment of God and ruin.
Afterward He causes them to seek out the Gentiles, sinners where they are, and the guest-chamber of the wedding-feast is filled with people. But then comes a judgment which is exercised with regard to all these guests. We have only one example here, but this to lay down the principle. Christendom gathered by the message of the gospel is the object of God's judgment according to the nature of the invitation which has been made. For a wedding-feast there must be a wedding-garment. One must have put on Christ to have part in His joy.
We find here too another principle important and worthy of remark, a principle which flows from the form of the parable: the judgment is an individual judgment.
Here is that which I would say. The first part of this parable, of which the subject is grace, brings judgment on the Jews, who had despised the invitation of the King acting in grace and summoning them to the feast, who had evil-entreated the messengers, and who, following up their refusal to render Him the fruits of the vineyard, had outraged His servants the prophets, and finally laid their hands on His only Son and put to death His beloved. But at the end of the parable, when, the invitation having been sent on all sides, the house was filled with guests, though Christendom be cut off like Judaism, another sort of judgment is revealed to us, an individual judgment, in which it is a question of knowing if the individual is in a state which suits the privileges he enjoys. It is not a question of the destruction of a city and of the nationality of. God's earthly people, of an exterior judgment which closes the economy, the existence of the nation under the old covenant, all the Jewish system. It is a question of knowing whether the state of him who is present at the feast suits the marriage-supper of the Son, of the great King: if not, whilst the feast continues, the individual unfit for the marriage-supper is cast into outer darkness where is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The principle established, one sees that it applies alas! to many: many are called, but few chosen.
The parable of the husbandmen is the history of Judaism up to the rejection and the crucifixion of Christ; that of the marriage-feast is the history of the reception of the gospel, first by the Jews, then by the Gentiles, with that which results from the exterior participation in that grace, and the sorting which takes place in the very bosom of those privileges.
In resuming the order of the thoughts from chapter 20:29 we have seen thus far: the presentation of Jesus as Son of David at Jerusalem; the state of the Jews laid down as to the fact in the parable of the two sons; their judgment as a nation in the parable of the vineyard, a judgment which besides had been already described in the fig-tree become dried up.
Here it is useful to draw attention to the difference between these two cases. In the two it is Israel without fruit, judged and set aside; but in the case of the fig-tree it is Israel in fact, such as the Savior found them: plenty of leaves, a fair appearance, but no fruit answering to what the Savior was seeking, to what His heart wanted; also the judgment has another and more profound character. The tree was bad; human nature under the culture of God Himself was worth nothing. On His entrance into this world there was on the Savior's path but one people which had enjoyed this culture; it was Israel—man having all the advantaged which man could have as placed on his responsibility here below. Now man according to the flesh is condemned; never will he bear fruit: it is all over with him.
The parable of the husbandmen attaches itself rather to the nation, as sphere of the ways of God, an economy on the earth; not human nature under the law, but the chiefs of the nation to whom the vineyard of God had been confided. God had had long patience. He was seeking fruits which were due to Him; and His messengers, His servants, had been dishonored, ill-treated, and even killed. There was one thing more that God could do, and He did it; He sent His Son. The husbandmen cast Him out of the vineyard and killed Him; they must undergo the judgment they had deserved. It is not the incurable evil, the flesh which cannot please God, which perishes before His eyes; it is an exterior and terrible judgment falling on the nation which, notwithstanding all the patience of God displayed toward it in its long career, has crowned its iniquity by rejecting and crucifying His Son. This people suffers the public judgment of God; it is a body ruined, broken, in consequence of its sin; it will be ground to powder (save the small remnant God has reserved for Himself) when in the last days it will be found an adversary and apostate.
After this parable we have the kingdom of the heavens, the grace which Israel equally rejects, but which, being spread far and wide, fills the house with guests, Gentiles as well as Jews. Here we find also judgment, but bearing on the question whether the individual is suitable for the position in which he is found.
Now after these great principles, after these features which give us the situation, all classes of the Jews, each in its turn come to be judged, just whim they thought they were to cast divine wisdom into perplexity by questions it could not answer; for they believed themselves wise and thought they had to do with a poor unlettered Galilean. How blind this world, and religious men; and how wicked the heart of man! The Lord is in their midst in grace, and these men, the one as much as the other, would show that He is in the wrong!
First (ver. 15), the Pharisees gather together and take counsel together, seeking to entangle Him in His words. They hold strongly themselves to the Jewish self-government, as being the people of Jehovah who were not to be subject to the Gentiles. The Herodians, on the contrary, attached themselves to Herod's dynasty, representing the imperial power of Rome which had placed him there as a subordinate king. They thought that, if Jesus acknowledged the Roman authority, He would lose in the eyes of the people His character of Messiah who was to deliver them from that yoke: if He rejected that authority, they might denounce Him to the civil power. It was of small moment to them that they should be inconsistent, if they could only get rid of God and His truth. The bitterest foes become friends to rid themselves of Christ. As Herod and Pilate, Pharisees and Herodians, Pharisees and Sadducees, all the world agree for that. The Pharisee and the Herodians came then together to question Him, and ask, while flattering Him for His integrity, if, yes or no, one ought to pay tribute to Caesar. The Lord, perceiving clearly their hypocrisy, points it out to them; then He asks them to show Him the current money with which they paid the tribute in the country. Whose image and superscription did this piece bear? They say to Him, Caesar's. Render then, said He, to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to God the things which are God's. God had subjected the Jews for their sins to the Gentiles; they should own His hand and submit to this yoke, until God according to His promise should free them from it. Meanwhile they should render to God the things which are God's. They were doing neither the one nor the other. Rebels against God in all their ways, they were constantly rising against the Romans. Astonished at the Lord's answer, they leave Him and go their way.
The same day the Sadducees who deny the resurrection, came to submit to Him the case of a woman, who, according to the law of Moses, had had seven husbands. Whose wife of the seven, demand they, should she be at the time of the resurrection? Here a fundamental truth was in question: also the Lord's answer is formal and precise. To put the resurrection in question was to be ignorant of the scriptures and of the power of God. Death did not terminate the existence of man. If God was the God of Abraham, of Isaacs, and of Jacob, He was not the God of those who did not exist. All live for Him, if they are dead for men; and, though life and incorruption are only brought to light by the gospel, the Old Testament sufficed to show that God had been, and was, and would be the God of the faithful, in order that they should be with Him, not only as souls but as men, soul and body, even as He had made them; only risen, a thing necessary after death. When God said, I am the God, of Abraham, Abraham was a man living for Him and was to be raised. But the Lord treats also the positive side of the question. In the resurrection all is changed: it is no question either of marrying or of giving in marriage; one is as the angels of God in heaven. It is not the question here of the position one, may be found in, but of the character in which one subsists. The resurrection is a foundation of the gospel. Our faith is vain if Christ is not risen: a thing evidently true, for if man rises not, Christ Himself is not risen. He is then dead also without remedy or answer; He is vanquished, not victor. The Sadducees are put to silence, and the two great sects of the Jews have nothing more to say.
But the Lord having done what the Pharisees, adversaries of the Sadducees, could not do, the curiosity of the Pharisees is excited, and they were gathered together. (Ver. 34.) One among them questions the Lord; but his demand has for result that Jests lays the true foundation of the law and the prophets, and then establishes clearly the situation of things, the question of the moment, as God regarded it. Which, asks the lawyer, is the great commandment in the law A question much debated among the Jews, for whom each commandment had a special value, the observance of each of them gaining, as in an examination, so many good marks from God. The Lord seizes the occasion, offered in the ways of God, to establish the fundamental principles of the divine law. To love God with all the heart, such is the first commandment. The second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. All in man hung on these two things. It is the Summary of what man ought to be, the root and the measure of human righteousness. It is not in any way a revelation of divine love; it is not at all a question of grace, nor of an open way for the sinner to come to God; but it is the perfect rule of what a man should be, a divine compendium of the substance of the law, the law on which the prophets insisted in seeking to recall the people to its observance.
Now all changes. In His turn Christ questions them. He had been clear and positive as to the resurrection, clear and positive as to the essence and the foundation of the law that man should have kept (and in keeping it he would have enjoyed the life of God; but he is a sinner); now He presents to them the question, grave and decisive for them, of the judgment they formed on Christ and thus on His own person. What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He? They say to Him, David's. How then, says Jesus to them, does David in Spirit call Him Lord? saying, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool? This is what was going to happen. He was about to quit the position of Son of David on earth, Heir of the promises made to the Jews, to take His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high. No one could answer Him a word, and from that day no one dared to ask Him any more questions. All was closed between the Jewish people and the Lord, save alas! to put in execution the thoughts of hatred which they had in their heart.

The Lord's Table, and Its Place in the Church

The Epistle to the Romans lays the foundation of Christianity. There, first, we see man, whether Gentile or Jew, a guilty sinner under the judgment of God which awaits him, and God as a justifier through Jesus and His blood; secondly, man, connected with Adam, born in sin, and God a deliverer through the same Jesus, whom He gives as His gift of eternal life. (Rom. 1-7) The fruit is that the Holy Ghost is also given to him that believes, and Rom. 8 shows his full place as being in Christ, and Christ in him, and the Holy Ghost dwelling in him, bearing witness with his spirit that he is a child of God. In this position he waits for his body of glory, and the deliverance of creation by the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven.
1 Corinthians follows in beautiful order. The individual place of the Christian having been settled, his corporate place in the church of God is then seen. We have there the internal condition of an assembly of God laid before us, and the true place the church holds in the midst of the world explained. It is addressed to the assembly of God at Corinth, which is looked at under two aspects, namely, the body of Christ and the temple of God. In chapters i.-x., the church is looked at as the temple of God, and in chapters x.-xiv. as the body of Christ. This double portion is seen in the first few verses, where the saints are first looked at as sanctified in Christ Jest's, and then as those who in every place called on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (See chap. i. 1-8.)
The first great point in the epistle is to bring out the three great foundations on which Christianity as a corporate thing is founded; to correct that human wisdom which was acting amongst the saints, and creating Paul, Apollos, and Cephas into heads of schools of opinion, and thus forming sects. These three great foundations of corporate Christianity are, first, the cross of Christ as the judgment of everything of man as looked at in the flesh. (See chap.. i. 18-29.) Second, Christ in glory made unto us wisdom, righteousness, justification, and redemption. (Vers. 30, 31.) Third, the Holy Ghost come down here as the Revealer and Communicator of that wisdom of God, which was written in Spirit-taught words, namely, the scriptures. (Chap. ii. 6-16.) This is Christianity in its foundation-principles as contrasted with the world's wisdom and power.
The fruit of these three great principles that make up Christianity is seen in chapter 3. The temple of God is formed by Paul, the wise master-builder; God had handed over the work of His temple to him to lay the foundation, namely, Christ Jesus, and to other Christians as the builders to build upon it. The walls were being built of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, bay, stubble; and the builders were warned as to the material with which they would build it; but the assembly or the temple was God's, and God the Holy Spirit dwelt in it. All this is brought in as a corrective to the evil of divisions, which was the fruit of that human wisdom that created great philosophers in Greece, as the heads of human opinion and schools of thought. This leaven was working among the saints at Corinth. The true corrective power was for the saints to see that the vineyard was God's, that the building was God's, that they were the temple of God, and that God the Holy Spirit dwelt amongst them as in a house. Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were but laborers in the vineyard and in the temple, servants of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God; but the assembly was His, not theirs.
Thus we see that, Christ having been rejected of the world, it has been judged by His cross; and God having exalted Him to His right hand in consequence of His obedience unto death, the Holy Ghost has come down from heaven, and baptized all believers into one body, and builded them together on earth to be His habitation, His temple. How important, then, for the saints in these last days to gather on these principles, to realize the judgment of the flesh, their place in Christ where He is, and their union with Him by the Holy Ghost come down, as members of His body, builded together as God's temple and under God's rule.
It is only as thus gathered that God can in any way own a remnant as His assembly. For where the people of God are united together in any other way than to Christ, the Head of the church in heaven, and where they submit to human rules and ordinances, instead of the Holy Ghost, they are verily a sect; they are not gathered as God's assembly, and He cannot own them as such.
Now the church set up in its responsibility to God is the way in which it is looked at in the Epistle to the Corinthians, especially in the first ten chapters. It is looked at in chapter 3 as the temple of God, founded by Paul, built up by Christian builders, and the Holy Ghost dwelling in it. In chapter 12 it is the body of Christ, as we shall see further on.
Chapter v. introduces us to the assembly of God gathered together to exercise discipline, and the Lord's table is introduced as the place on earth from which the evil that had got into the assembly was to be put away. (See vers. 4, 5, and 7, 8.) Consequently the Lord's table hold a special place, as it were, in God's temple, that is, the then gathered assembly; just as the feast of the passover had its place amongst the Israelites as the memorial of their redemption out of Egypt. At that feast the lamb was slain, the blood was sprinkled, and each household fed on the roasted lamb inside their house, under the shelter of the blood, and at the same time put away all leaven out of their house. So Christ, our passover, has been once sacrificed for us on Calvary's cross, and Christians gather to the Lord's table, on the ground of the blood of Christ, to remember this, and feed on the Lamb slain, which they see by faith in the memorials spread before their eyes, baying put away all evil from amongst them, of which the leaven was the type. (See vers. 6-11.) If any Israelite ate leavened bread, he was cut off from the congregation of Israel; so a Christian who eats the Lord's supper, having fallen into sin morally or doctrinally, ought to be put away from the assembly.
Thus we see that the Lord's table holds a most important place as the gathering place for the assembly of God. It is the memorial of redemption from sin, Satan, and the world, and consequently sin and untruth can have no place there. If it enters as a public known thing, it must be judged and put away, as the leaven was put away from the houses of the children of Israel when they kept the passover. Thus the death of Christ holds a double place; whilst it is that which saves and redeems us, it is at the same time that by which all evil is judged.
Thus the temple of God is kept clean; thus the assembly preserves its character of being an unleavened lump. (Vers. 6, 7.) Formed by the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God on the ground of redemption, and by the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, the assembly was a new creation outside the world; it is called practically to walk up to its standing, by exercising discipline and putting away manifested evil from the midst.
This the assembly at Corinth were not doing. A man had committed adultery among them; and, instead of mourning that such a sin was there, and that it was not taken away from them, they were puffed up, and glorying in their gifts. The apostle, therefore, writes to them, and connecting the holy name of Christ with the assembly, and bringing to their remembrance His power for the judgment of the evil, he forces them to do it, not for the destruction of the man's soul, but on the contrary for the destruction of the flesh; the outside thing which he would not judge, that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
All this brings out that God's assembly is the place of judgment for the saints on earth. The world is outside, and God will judge it in the day of judgment; but the responsibility of the gathered assembly is to guard the Lord's character and doctrine; hence discipline must be exercised. There, also, difficult cases amongst the saints should be settled by some wise brother or brethren; for saints should never take their causes before the world's law-courts. (See 1 Cor. 6:19.) The world's law-courts are the place of judgment for the world; but the assembly of God, of which the Lord's table is the place of gathering, is the place of judgment for the children of God.
Chapter 10: 14-22 brings out the more blessed place the Lord's table holds in connection with the communion of the saints, and the unity of the body of Christ. It is the place where the fellowship of the saints with Christ, and His death, and with one another, is exhibited, and that on the ground of the unity of the body of Christ.
The assembly is the body of Christ. (See chap. 11: 12, 13.) The Lord's table is the place where that unity is exhibited by the members, all partaking of the one loaf, the symbol of unity. (See chap. 10: 17.)
This is put in contrast with Israel, and the Gentiles, in chapter 10:18-22. The Israelites, by partaking of the sacrifices offered on the altar of Judaism, showed their fellowship with that system of worship. The Gentiles, by partaking of the sacrifices offered on their altars, showed their fellowship with that system. But they offered to demons, consequently it was fellowship with demon worship.
At the Lord's table the Christian exhibits fellowship with the Lord, and His altar, His death, and that as a member of the body of Christ with the others gathered on that ground. This would show the Corinthians the utter impossibility of mixing up fellowship at the Lord's table with fellowship with devil worship. Thus we see that the Lord's table holds the very central place in Christian worship; so much so that if saints are not gathered as members of Christ's body to that table, there is no exhibition of the church of God in the place. The Lord's table is where the members of Christ are gathered as members of one body, to show it by partaking together of the one loaf, which is the symbol of unity, and where the authority and claims of the Lord are owned. It is the Lord's table. The Lord therefore invites; the assembly, as representing Him there, receives in His name. (Rom. 15:7.)
In chapters 11-15 we have an orderly exhibition of the assembly and its working. Chapter 11: 1-16 gives the introduction to it, in showing God's present order in His creation, and the place the man and the woman hold in regard to it. Thus whilst these verses go wide of the assembly, yet they bring out the place the man and the woman hold in it. And this, too, explains why there are regulations about the praying and prophesying of the woman with her head covered, this having reference to her place in creation; whilst, inside the assembly, there is the absolute prohibition, in other places, to speak when the assembly is gathered together.
Chapter 11: 17-34 shows plainly that the Lord's supper is the assembly meeting, though the apostle would not allow that the way in which they were celebrating it was to eat the Lord's supper. They were mixing it up with a common meal, and making it a time of feasting, forgetting altogether its real import.
To correct this the apostle lets us into the secret of having had a spiritual revelation from the Lord in glory in reference to the administration of the Lord's supper. Before leaving the world (we know, in fact, before the Lord's death) He instituted the feast, putting it in the place of the passover, which was the memorial of Israel's redemption out of Egypt. But the full revelation of Christianity had not been brought out then. But now the Lord, having been finally rejected by Israel as a nation, had taken a new place at the right hand of God, so that not only was the kingdom of heaven set up in a new form, but the assembly of God, the body of Christ, was formed. The special revelation of this mystery was given to Paul, namely, that Jew and Gentile were not fellow-heirs, members of one body, common partakers of God's promise through Christ by the gospel (Eph. 3) and the Lord's table was the place where the truth was exhibited, as we have seen in chapter x. In the kingdom the Jew always had the first place, and the Gentile was to get the blessing sent through him; but in the body of Christ there is no difference—Jew and Gentile are quickened out of a state of death together with Christ, are raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ. The cross of Christ ends the enmity; the law of commandments contained in ordinances that kept them apart is abolished, and one new man is formed, united together on earth by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, and to Christ the Head in heaven.
The further revelation connected with the unity of the body of Christ did not annul the former institution as given us in Luke by the Lord Himself. In fact we have it renewed from the glory in almost the identical words that we have it in Luke, only with the further light which had come in since the rejection of the Lord. Thus the individual remembrance of the Lord, which is so precious in the original institution, is still there. The little photograph, as it were, of our absent Lord, as pictured in the broken bread, and poured out wine, is handed round to each one. “Do this in remembrance of me,” comes out in all its original freshness. But, besides the original thought of the Lord's absence, is brought in the blessed thought of His coming. “As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.” It is the gathering of the family of God at the Lord's supper to remember their absent Lord, to remember His death for them, to show His death till He come. The aspect of the Lord's death is rather His death for us here, which seals to us all the blessings of the New Testament, though also we show His death, which leads us on to the judgment of the flesh. (See verses 26, 27.) In chapter 10 it is fellowship with the sacrifice—we participate together as members of the body of Christ in His death; but here it is more individual—we remember the Lord dying for us, we show His death till He come. But this last thought, as I said, leads us on to the judgment of the flesh, for the flesh killed the Lord; to allow it at the Lord's table, to eat and drink in an unworthy manner, is then to allow that which killed the Lord, and to be guilty of His body and blood. Thus we are led to individual self-judgment. And where there is not this in exercise, the Lord's hand is laid on us in chastisement, sickness or even death, to the end that the flesh in us may be judged.
Chapter 12 brings out the truth of the presence of the, Holy Ghost in the assembly, and His workings in the several gifts He gives to men; then the unity of the body, formed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and its working in the members. Thus, the Lord's supper being the great assembly meeting, we are prepared to see there how the Holy Ghost works in the assembly, which is now wholly viewed as the body of Christ, not using one member only (for the body is not one member, but many), but working in the unity of the whole body which should be there exhibited; many members, and yet but one body. Thus the principle of one-man-ministry and many different bodies is entirely set aside. The double principle in the order of God's assembly, is many members, yet working in one body. Chapter 13 shows the true character of Christ and the Spirit, which is love, the true bond of union of the members. Chapter 14 regulates the working of the assembly, for the Corinthians had turned the liberty of the Spirit into license. But all through the principle is, the reality of the presence of the Holy Ghost in the assembly, His free workings in the members of the body which He Himself formed, and His character love, which should mark each member. In the assembly the women were to keep silence, for it was not permitted to them to speak.
Thus we have seen in this blessed epistle the assembly in its double aspect of being the temple of God, and the body of Christ. In the former aspect it was the fruit of the wisdom of God in contrast with that human wisdom which was forming sects and parties, following leaders. It was founded on the cross of Christ which judged the flesh, Christ Himself in the glory, God's wisdom and the Holy Ghost come down here as the Revealer and Communicator of that wisdom. In chapter 5 the Lord's table is seen as the gathering place of the assembly on earth, a place from which all evil must be put away, as the leaven from the houses of the Israelites when eating the passover. Thus the assembly is the place of judgment for the saints on earth, where also amongst wise brethren any difficulties among the saints may be settled. (Chap. 6.) In chapter 10 the Lord's table is seen connected with the thought of the assembly being the body of Christ. There the saints have communication together over the Lord's death. There they exhibit the unity of the body. This also guards them from fellowship with any other false system of worship. In chapter 11 we see the Lord's supper plainly flown forth to be the assembly meeting, yet seen rather in the family aspect of the supper, the saints there individually remembering the Lord's death till He come, and exercising themselves in habitual individual self-judgment before they come there, so that the flesh might not dishonor the Lord. The great thing to realize is that it is the Lord's table—the Lord's supper. The Lord is present in Spirit, though actually absent in body. His authority, therefore, should be owned there. According to the word in Eph. 4:4, 5, there is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. The ground of gathering is the unity of the body, the center of gathering is the Lord's person, the place of gathering on earth is the Lord's table. Here the Christians gather to be occupied with the Lord Himself, to break bread (Acts 20:7) in remembrance of His death, and to worship the Father through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:6.)
Nay the Lord bless these few thoughts to the reader, that he may be enlightened both as to the true place the church holds, and as to the place the Lord's table holds in connection with it.
A. P. C.
Courtesy of BibleTruthPublishers.com. Most likely this text has not been proofread. Any suggestions for spelling or punctuation corrections would be warmly received. Please email them to: BTPmail@bibletruthpublishers.com.

Notes on Job 28

The connection between this chapter and the preceding has perplexed readers and writers on the book; but, though it passes (as not infrequently do Job's discourses) into a sort of soliloquy, there seems to be an intelligible and weighty link with what went immediately before, where the miserable end of the ungodly fool is set out most vividly. This might appear an extreme case; but in truth it is the too general experience of the race, that men walk after a vain show, zealous after every other object under the sun, yea, in the bowels of the earth, and in the depths of the sea, overlooking that wisdom which consists in and is inseparable from the fear of the Lord, and that understanding which departs from evil. Such is God's saying, who knows the place of wisdom inscrutable to all others, for destruction and death can only say that they have heard its report with their ears. Not seeing the connection, the Vulgate, followed by Luther, &c., gives no expression to the particle éÌÄë as others soften down into a musing ejaculation, “Yes truly,” “Indeed.” The antithesis in any case is in verse 12, “But wisdom,” &c.
For there is a vein for the silver,
And a place for the gold they refine.
Iron is taken out of earth,
And stone molten into copper.
He [man] putteth an end to darkness,
And to the end searcheth he all,
The stone of darkness and death-shade.
He breaketh a shaft away from a dweller,
Forgotten of a foot they hang suspended,
Away from men they swing:
The earth, out of it cometh bread,
And under it is turned up as it were fire.
Its stones [are] the place of the sapphires,
And nuggets of gold it hath,
A path no bird of prey hath known,
Nor vulture's eye hath seen.
The sons of pride have not trodden it,
Nor the dark lion passed over it.
He [man] layeth his hand on flint,
He overturneth mountains by the root,
He cutteth rivers in the rocks,
And his eye seeth every precious thing.
Floods he bindeth from dripping.
And bringeth to light what was hidden.
But wisdom, where shall it be found?
And where this, the place of understanding?
No mortal knoweth its price,
Nor is it found in the land of the living.
The depth saith Not in me [is] it,
And the sea saith, It [is] not with me.
Pure gold is not given for it,
Nor is silver weighed, its price.
It cannot be weighed with gem of Ophir,
With the precious onyx or the sapphire.
Gold and glass cannot equal it,
Nor its exchange [be] a vessel of fine gold.
Coral or pearl is not to be mentioned.
And the acquisition of wisdom [is] above rubies,
The topaz of Cush doth not match it,
With the clear gem it is not weighed.
And wisdom, whence cometh it,
And where this, the place of understanding?
And further it is hidden from the eyes of all living,
And is concealed from the birds of the heavens,
Destruction and Death have said,
With our ears we have heard its report.
God understandeth its way, and He knoweth its place.
For He looketh to the ends of the earth,
He seeth under the whole heaven.
In making to wind its weight,
And meting out the waters by measure,
In making a law for the rain,
And a way for the lightning of the thunder,
Then He saw and declared it,
He established and also searched it out;
And unto man He said,
Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom,
And to depart from evil understanding.
It is impossible to overlook the comprehensive grasp of nature, and even art, here surveyed, especially as the passage stands correctly rendered in verses 4-11, where even the Authorized Version fails in duly presenting particular phrases as well as the connection. Both are given more accurately, I believe, in the version before the reader, and in general by those who have translated during the last century and more, when attention was drawn by A. Schultens to the allusion made to mining operations, misunderstood in earlier days.
Job then speaks of the realm of nature searched out with the keenest avidity by man, Who familiarizes himself with the vein or mine where silver lies, as he takes care to refine the gold he discovers not so disposed. So too with iron and copper ore molten for use. He knows how to pursue his way spite of darkness, overcome with artificial light, no matter what the danger, learned every holy and then at cost of life. We see described the shaft formed far away from human dwelling, and means used to convey men where none could walk, suspended by ropes, it would seem, and swinging to and fro. We see not only the earth cultivated on its surface, but means of fuel found beneath its stones, the place of the sapphire and nuggets of gold. Into such depths, ransacked for its hidden treasure, no bird has penetrated, nor vulture's eye seen a path; not the boldest of beasts has trodden there, not even the dark or fierce lion has passed over it Man's daring resources, with covetousness behind, conquer all difficulties. The hard flint yields to his hand, and mountains he overturns by the root if they stand in his way, as he cuts rivers in the rocks, to reach the precious things his eye discerns. Nor is it only letting the waters off in suited channels, but he binds floods from oozing and making their way through, so as the better to bring to light what lay Concealed.
But if such is man's successful pursuit of the least accessible objects in the bowels of the earth, where shall wisdom be found? and where the place of understanding? And it is the harder to find, as no mortal knows its price, and in fact it is not found in the land of the living. The depth disowns its presence, the sea yet more emphatically. Vain is the hope of adequate exchange; gold or silver is weighed in vain; nor gem of Ophir, nor onyx, nor sapphire, nor golden glass, nor work of art in gold, nor coral or pearl, nor topaz, nor jewel of clearest luster. Again, then whence comes wisdom? and where the place of understanding? But if besides it be hidden from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the heavens; if destruction and death can only say that they have heard its report, God understands its way and He knows its place. The universe in no degree distracts Him: He looks to the ends of the earth, He sees not only in but under the whole heaven. Nothing is too ethereal or too vast for His ken end sway. In appointing to the winds its weight (surely a remarkable thought and word for these days), and meting out the waters by measure, in controlling the rain and the lightning, He none the less laid down the foundation of all righteousness, and this for favored man on earth to hear. It is to give God His rights. Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, is understanding. It is to be subject morally to God as Master, fearing Him and departing from evil—the true wisdom and understanding of man.

The Closing History of the Lord and of Paul

I have been much struck with the comparison between the blessed Lord, at the end of His life, and Paul, in his last visit to Jerusalem, faithful and blessed servant of the Lord as He was. Christ, aware of the purpose of the Jews, as indeed the disciples were, remains calmly at a distance when He had gone away from Jerusalem, moved by no human claim, touching as it was, till God His Father's will was manifest, and then goes up without fear; dismayed as the disciples were at the thought of it, He walked in the light, and stumbling was not before Him. Paul, bound in his spirit, warned in every city of bonds and afflictions, and, not only so, but told by those who spoke by the Spirit not to go up, goes, no doubt under the hand of God overruling it all, but listening to the counsel of Judaizing Christians, to be taken, and, as we have seen it recorded by the Holy Ghost, close his public ministry, not carrying out his purposes as to Spain, &c. He is taken in a tumult, and then seized by the Romans. The blessed Lord delivers Himself up, saying, “If ye seek me, let these go their way.” In the temple all classes of the Jews come to prove and try Him, but are judged one after another, and, unable to answer Him, dare ask Him no more questions, and then He is condemned for the testimony to the truth He gave Himself, both before the chief priests and Pontius Pilate. All was simply perfect, as it became One who, if in grace among men, must have manifested His perfection among them. If ever man was honored and blessed, it was Paul; but he was a man simply, a divinely raised up and divinely gifted testimony to Christ, and faithful in his walk. But Christ was the subject of testimony (through the Faithful Witness), Paul a testifier to Christ, and, however prominent in service, a man as we are.

Fragment: 2 Corinthians 5:14

To apply 2 Cor. 5:14 to death to sin, instead of death by it, is more wrong than I thought, because πάρτων is absolute. “He died for all,” and οἰ ράντες applies necessarily to the same all.

Fragment: Didaktikos

The word διδακτικός is not the gift of teaching, properly so called; it means suitable to communicate the truth he might have. It is a practical qualification as all the others, not a specific gift. What confirms in this is 2 Tim. 2:24, where it is among the qualities characterizing the manners to the Lord's servant, as avoiding foolish questions, and dealing with souls for their instruction. (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1)

Thoughts on Isaiah 7-9

I take this passage because it contains a great outline, and is an instance of what is common in the prophets, the taking what was passing then and connecting it with the great counsel and plan of God which has its full result in Christ. In Isaiah you generally get the whole scheme or plan of God, who was thus revealing as Peter says, “no prophecy of the scripture,” &c.
You do find a present application to encourage faith while the prophet looks out to the full result. But this as to the earth. The events were to happen there. We belong to heaven.
There are two great principles of judgment. One is departure from original standing, the other is fitness to meet the Lord when He comes. See the vine for the one (Isa. 5.); the other we see in Isa. 6, the Lord high and lifted up, and “I am undone,” &c.
Another point is in Isa. 7 There had been a special dealing of God in giving the house of David. All was gone as to responsibility when the ark was taken. Then He sovereignly raises up a prophet, Samuel; after that David (figure of Christ). I just add here, God has put everything first on responsibility in man and man fails; then afterward God sets up in Christ all that has failed in man's hands, as the promises, the law, the house of David, and Nebuchadnezzar, or the Gentile empire. Then comes the church. Taken as to responsibility, that too is gone. Hereafter you get all these things definitely fulfilled in the Second man.
It was not merely that Israel failed under the law, but the house of David had wearied God. He goes to the house of David with Shear-jashub—the remnant shall return. The last resource of Israel having failed they must go to captivity. But God Himself shall give you a sign—Immanuel the Christ. Having got this footing, this rook, he can talk now of all the future history of Israel. He sees the whole power of hostile evil coming in, it will all flow up to the neck, referring to the last days. Then also, but he goes on from this time through the whole history of Israel, to what is yet to take place in days to come. What of these conspiracies and intrigues? It shall not stand, for God is with us. This is just the wisdom of the Christian, I may say, whatever plots, intrigues, &c., may be going on. Never mind it; God is with us. These great principles run through all dispensations. You cannot deal with a Christian except for his good. He unfolds the history. Do not you be plotting and planning to counterplot their enemies. Sanctify the Lord God, that is, give Him His own right place in your hearts. Taking the Lord God of hosts for a sanctuary brings in Christ. There is judgment on the nation, but the remnant is brought out. “Bind the law,” &c. The law and the testimony are sealed up among the disciples. The spirit of faith looked on to the Lord. We see a remnant separated by the revelation of Christ and judgment comes in. Israel have to wait for them. Christ and the remnant meanwhile take a separate place; and all is stopped as regards the nation. Christianity and the church come in between.
The time will come when all Israel shall be saved; but I cannot take this up now. But in the last days the law and the testimony have to be looked to. The dimness is greater than when Christ is here. In the last dreadful darkness for Israel they could not put out this fact that Immanuel has come in and will take up Israel's cause.
First, Christ is revealed. Secondly, the remnant are His disciples separate to and with Him while Israel rejects them. Thirdly, we come to the last days. As Israel was to be rejected, the remnant could not be turned into Israel and therefore in Acts they are added together and make the church.
The Holy Ghost comes out while the great High Priest is still within. Our place is thus in heaven.
But there is another thing. We are still pilgrims on earth and to this the Sermon on the mount even still in some sort applies.
The question was raised who is going to get into the kingdom, and the answer is, “Except your righteousness,” &c. That is the character which suits the kingdom, not the Pharisees with their legal righteousness. We are in the kingdom— “translated into the kingdom of the Son of his love.” The kingdom will be set up in power, but now we are in it in this mysterious way. You must wear such or such a coat to be admitted to court—well, but it suits me when I am at court. We are born again and so see and enter the kingdom. The way we are brought in is not described in the Sermon on the mount, any more than redemption or anything of being dead and risen. Still the character of those who could enter suits us now that we are in it.

Divine Life

There are three especial privileges and their effect in divine life—obedience, love of brethren, and confidence in God, all manifested in Christ. So in the temptation, and in death as in life, loving His own. Love is the divine part properly, the love of God shed abroad, the spring being God's revelation, and this by the Holy Ghost given. Christ was it in the world. God was in Christ. There the human aide is obedience, God's will the motive as well as rule, Christ's obedience, to which we are sanctified. Confidence is the natural fruit of this revelation of God in the dependent creature, only it is but as walking in obedience, and not grieving the Holy Spirit, that we have this confidence. Not that there ever should be doubt of His love, but not liberty in love with Him. Obedience (righteousness) and love are the two figures of divine life, both prevailing in Christ. Thus love to the brethren is the divine side, which is not without importance. It is love to God, the reflex and outgoing of the sense of divine love in the heart; God in us, and so known. “As my Father loved me, so I you: abide in my love.” As I have loved you, that ye also love one another. But this is really a weighty proverb. Love never fails.

Notes on John 13:1-5

We enter now on a new section of our Gospel—the last communications of the Lord to His disciples, closing with His opening out His heart to the Father about them. The entire drift is in all points and ways to lead His own into a true spiritual understanding of their new place before God the Father, and in the world in contrast with that of Israel. It is not the church, but most fully and distinctively the Christian position.
“Now, before the feast of the passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto his Father, having loved his own that [were] in the world, loved them unto [the] end.” (Ver. 1.) He was the only man whom nothing took by surprise. All was read, and known, and felt in the presence of God His Father. Not only did He know throughout that He was to die, and its form, character, and object in God's purpose, as well as in man's and Satan's malice, but we see here that its immediate proximity was before His mind. Yet in John it is not man's or God's forsaking Him in that bitter hour, but the hour came for His departure out of this world to His Father, instead of staying here as Jews expected according to the Old Testament in their Messiah. As the other Gospels bring out the evidence of His rejection by the people, our evangelist sees Him from the first rejected, and at the end preparing the disciples for the immense change at hand, when the Messiah should be in heaven, and the Holy Spirit sent down to be in and with His own on earth, the Father too being the relation of God not to Him only, but in due time and way to them also.
Further, He would show His love in fresh and suited forms: “Having loved his own that were in the world,” He loved not merely till the end, but taking up each need, and incurring all labor for them, whatever the draft in it, unremittingly and without wavering. Such is the love of Jesus to His own in the world, where it is constantly wanted. We know what love He expressed to them at that last passover (Luke 22:15) and how infinitely it was proved in His blood and death for them as a lamb without blemish and without spot, foreordained before the foundation of the world, but manifested at the end of the times for their sakes who believed. But now He would show them a love as active for them when He should depart to His Father, as when He fulfilled the passover in dying for them.
“And, supper being come, the devil having already put [it] into the heart of Judas, Simon's [son], Iscariot, that he should deliver him up, Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came out from God and goeth unto God, riseth from supper and layeth aside his garments, and, having taken a towel, girded himself.” (Vers. 2-4.)
The Authorized Version regards the phrase δ. γ. as implying the end of the repast; but I agree with those who take it to mean the arrival of the time for supper, which is confirmed by the wondrous action we are about to hear of. It cannot be doubted that it was usual to have the feet washed before, not after, supper. But if Jesus had ways of love before His heart, the devil had already planted in that of Judas Iscariot the awful treachery to his divine Master, which no rolling ages can erase. So it was with Jesus; the enemy's hate came out most, as the love of God manifested itself in and by Him; but how withering to human pretension it was, the devil working by a man and a disciple, the close personal honored follower of the Lord Jesus! “It was thou, a man mine equal, my guide and mine acquaintance.” In that holy companionship he had trifled with sin, with his besetting covetousness; and now the devil prompted the gratification of it by betraying the Son of God. The Lord, as we shall later see, deeply felt it, but here He pursues the design of love with the consciousness of the Father's purposes and plans, with the consciousness, too, that He was going back to God with the same absolute purity in which He had come out from Him. It was no merely Messianic sphere, not even that of Son of man. The Father had given all things into the bands of His Son, and He was going back a man with not a shade over that intrinsic holiness which marked His coming out from God to become a man. He abode ever the Holy One of God, yet rises from supper, lays aside His garments, takes a towel and girds Himself.
Jesus occupies Himself with a new service, the removal of the defilements of His own in their walk as saints through the world. This is the meaning of what follows. “Then he poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.” (Ver. 5.) Be it carefully observed, that it is a question here of water, not of blood. The reader of John's Gospel will not have overlooked that he makes much of “water” as well as “blood.” So did the Lord in presenting the truth to His own, and no one shows this more than John. His first epistle also characterizes the Lord as “he that came by water and blood; not in water only, but in water and blood.” He purifies as well as atones. He employs the word to cleanse those who are washed from their sins in His blood. The apostles, Paul, Peter, and James insist on this power of the word, as John does. It is disastrous and dangerous in the highest degree to overlook purification by the washing of water by the word. If “the blood” is Godward, though for us, “the water” is saintward to remove impurity in practice as well as to give a new nature, which judges evil according to God and His word, of which it is the sign, adding to it the death of Christ, which gives its measure and force. Out of His pierced side came blood and water. (John 19.)
As to this grave and blessed truth, Christendom remains, I fear, as dark as Peter, when he declined the gracious action of the Lord. Nor did Peter enter into the truth conveyed by that most significant dealing till afterward, that is, when the Holy Spirit came to show them the things of Christ. On the occasion itself he was wrong throughout. And so are men apt to be now, even though light divine has been fully afforded. They still perversely limit its extent to teaching humility. This only Peter saw, and hence his mistake; for he thought it stooping down excessively, that the Lord should wash his feet; and, when alarmed by the Lord's warning, he fell into an opposite error. We are only safe when subject to His word in distrust of ourselves.
The fact is that, since apostolic times, the truth has been either wholly lost, or perverted into a lifeless ordinance. Evangelicals, as the rule, ignore it, or merge it in the blood of Christ. Catholics (Anglican, Roman, Greek, or Oriental) misapply it to baptism. Hence not only do they miss the Lord's special lesson of washing in water, but they enfeeble propitiation. Consequently non-imputation of sins is all but unknown from the earliest fathers till our own day. The Reformers wrought no deliverance in this respect; and the Puritans increased the confusion and darkness by pressing not ordinances, but the law as the rule of life, instead of recalling by the Spirit of the Lord to Christ as the object according to which the Christian is being transformed here below. The Lord suffered once for sins, Just for unjust. The efficacy is as perfect for the believer as is His person; and the unity of this sacrifice is therefore the great argument of Heb. 9; 10, as contrasted with the repetition of Jewish ones. By His one offering we are not only sanctified but perfected in perpetuity. Is there no failure in the saint afterward? Alas, there may be. What then is the provision for such? It is the washing of water by the word which the Spirit applies in answer to the Son's advocacy with the Father.

I and We in 1 and 2 Corinthians

Remark the singular beauty and fitness, as to feelings, of the way in which the apostle passes from “I” to “we” in 2 Cor. 2:14, and more variously in chapter where he passes from one to another: so in chapter 8, and the chapters which follow, as chapter 9, save verse 11. See how he turns in chapter 10: 2, and the mixture in verse 8. The apostle is one. Paul is “I;” and his heart made him so with the Corinthians. See much of the “I” (as it were foolishly). Chapter 11: 21 brings in “we,” but is generally “I;” chapter 12, “I,” save verse 19. The same interchange in chapter 13 as in chapter 8. Chapter 3 is all “we,” chapters 1 and 2 being naturally varied. Save Paul and his children, chapters 6: 3; 3, 4, 5, 6, is all the ministerial “we.” But the natural appropriateness is striking. See the change in 1 Cor. 2:6 as characteristic. So chapter 1:23: so chapter 2: 12, 18. See the change in chapter 4:1, 2, 3. See verse 9, changing in verse 14. In chapters 5, 6, 7 we turn to “I.” In chapter 9 we return to the apostolic “we;” in verse 15 to Paul again, and to the end, save chapter 15: 15: only he has mentioned the apostles.

Notes on 2 Corinthians: Introduction

Very distinct in tone from the first Epistle, yet not less distinctly from the same mind and heart, is the second Epistle to the Corinthians. No writing of the apostle bears more unequivocally the marks of all which characterized him; none more corresponding with the state of those whom he addressed; but this in rich restorative grace and deep triumphant feeling before God. Of all the epistles none abounds in more rapid transitions; as indeed it flowed from profound exercises of soul. The circumstances through which he had passed evidently fitted him for the work in hand, which forbids any division of orderly treatment of subjects. This however is just what should be; nor does any epistle afford a finer example of what is suitable.
Personal experience, and this used for the help of others in their trials; the work of the Lord in all its varieties, with the action of the Holy Ghost answering to it; the truth of God in its distinctive shape and highest forms, or the glory of Christ in contrast with the spirit, in former days hidden under the letter; the walk and service which befit such revelations of grace; the affections called into action by all this in the midst of sorrow and suffering, with evil abounding and grace much more abounding; the trials and wants of saints, calling out the loving remembrance of others; the opposition of self-seeking men, employed of the enemy to hinder the blessing of saints and to lower the glory of Christ, to distract the weak and give scope for unscrupulous activity; but on the other hand the energy of the Holy Ghost working not only to give heavenly visions, and so give faith its object, but to manifest Christ in weakness and suffering where the power of Christ may rest, are all brought out with remarkable fullness.
Hence the expression of feeling is far more frequent and pronounced in the second Epistle than the first. Not that the first fails in showing that the apostle loved the Corinthians, and still hoped all things. But the second brings out still more manifestly how he bore all, believed all, endured all. Here therefore he speaks with far more confidence of his sure reward, in a love which sought not his own things but theirs. Here he explains his motives with much greater openness. Their subjection to the rebukes of his first epistle, their obedience to the word of the Lord which he had charged on their consciences, left him free now to explain himself. But even so he speaks with the greatest delicacy, lest he might seem careful to vindicate himself instead of cherishing jealousy for the Lord alone. Their edification was the nearest object of his heart, next to the glory of the Lord, if indeed we may even thus far sever what faith knows to be inseparable. More than once he takes up the case of the soul under discipline (as in the first epistle he had urged them to act in holy jealousy for Christ), first to show grace in restoring him who was surcharged with grief; and secondly to own how they in every way had proved themselves pure in the matter.
We may in a general way regard the epistle as consisting of the following divisions. The first seven chapters present a sketch of his ministry in its trials and dangers and the conflicts of soul which the state of the saints, of the Corinthian saints themselves above all, occasioned, in the mighty power, glorious character and blessed result of the service of Christ, triumphing over all opposition, even death itself, in love to its objects; and this not only in those ministering but also in those ministered to, as being the working of the Holy Ghost in the life of Christ; and hence superior to all that could oppose, even to death and judgment; but exercised in suffering and in holiness; yet having to do with the judgment of unholiness which grace turns to a deeper repentance on the part, not only of the guilty, but of all who have to do with them, so as to bring glory to the Lord in Satan's defeat, as well as in quickened and strengthened divine affections.
Next, in chapters 8 and 9 we have an admirable exposition of the divine principle in giving and receiving among Christians, combined with his call to the Corinthian saints, whom he could now freely exhort, as brought back by grace, to abound in grace towards the poor saints in Judea: a constant and most grave duty, and a blessed privilege of the church towards the poor saints at all times, when they take it up in faith of the Lord's grace, and in love towards His own, as the apostle here lays down.
Lastly, from chapter 10 we have an apologetic discourse, in which the truest humility goes hand in hand with burning indignation against those whom Satan employs to oppose the glory of Christ and destroy the blessing of the saints under cover of exposing the imaginary faults of His servants. Nothing can exceed the propriety, as well as profound feeling with which the apostle handles this difficult and delicate theme; nothing more withering to the adversaries of grace, whatever their pretension to light and righteousness. To a spirit so disinterested, loving, and lowly as Paul's it was a very great pain to speak of himself; and he calls it his folly, as he calls on them to bear with it. Vanity loves to speak of itself and its little doings; true greatness, while it delights in that which is its own source—the all-surpassing One in whom it loses thoughts of self, can for the sake of others afford to speak of labors and sufferings for that loved object and for all that He loves, so as to refute these heartless detractions and calumnies. And as the unworthy insinuation of levity of purpose was dispelled by the first chapter, so in the last those who had undermined his apostleship he warns of the just severity which must befall them if they persevere in a course as dishonoring to the Lord as it was destructive of their own souls.

Testimony of Peter and John Compared With Paul's

It has been of old noticed how Peter and John are ministerially brought forward in John 21, Paul's ministry being of course omitted. But I want to inquire more into the two former, and first John. The main teaching of the Spirit of God by him is the person of the Lord as come from heaven, bringing life; and after having His sheep and His heavenly care, after being owned in His three characters, His sending of the Holy Ghost. In his epistles eternal life in Him become our life, and its characteristics, with one remarkable statement of the love of God. But dispensationally he has to do with earth, as Peter, that is, Christianity as developed on earth. In chapter 6 the Lord is owned prophet, refusing to be king, and goes up on high as to the priestly place; but His going up on high only just alluded to in His discourse, the disciples having the character of the Jewish remnant when He rejoins them, whereupon they come to land. Our individual place in Him we have fully, but the church never; rarely what is heavenly: what is divine manifested here, but not man in heaven. Literally in the former chapter (17.) we have the whole time skipped over, from the Jerusalem church to appearing in glory (only in ver. 24 coming to what is heavenly), in verse 21 the immediate converts of the twelve; in verse 22 the glory. The Jews are set aside from the first chapter, and Christ is the true vine on earth. As a general truth the Spirit replaces Him. In chapter 20:17 is the Christian's individual place by redemption. The Lord is then in their midst on earth. From that place He sends them, and, as risen, confers the Holy Spirit in the power of the breath of life, and gives the title of administering forgiveness of sins. This is the remnant, there as Thomas, when they hereafter see and own Him. Personal revelation, then, three times, and the case of the remnant committed to Peter as his present service.
John's ministry reaches mysteriously over till the Lord comes. And this we have with warning in the epistle that the last time was come already in apostasy and Antichrist; and in the Revelation the judicial account, first of the church, then of the world, the Christian's place being found in chapter 1: 5, 6; but all an earthly Christ, though what He has made us in it; and chapter 22: 17, where the whole circle of their affection as on earth is described. The church formed on earth is unnamed by Peter and John. We have sheep and a flock, one flock and one shepherd, children and family unity, but no body. Then Christ builds His church: the living stones come to the Living Stone. It grows to a holy temple, but there is no present body or present house. Peter has the keys of the kingdom entrusted to him, and what he bound on earth was bound in heaven (so of the two or three in Matt. 18; cf. 2 Cor. 2:10). In the kingdom I get conferred authority and administration, and I think in this Jerusalem church sphere, administrative forgiveness, as distinct from redemptional forgiveness (though founded on redemption), which is eternal. But this administrative forgiveness, as a present dealing, is very important; only there is another and greater redemption through His blood, and consequently no sin imputed to us at all, no more conscience of sins. Redemption and salvation of the soul we have in Peter (and in his sermon baptism to the remission of sins), but not peace (save salvation), nor completeness in Christ. In John we have believers in Christ, and as He is so are we in this world, personal standing in Him. We have cleansing by Christ's blood and propitiation. But all this was in this world—blessing enough too.
But Paul's ministry was wholly apart. He was delivered from Jew and Gentile, united to a glorified Christ, and thus witnessed of our sitting in Him in heavenly places, and of a new creation. The foundations were all the same, but the distinct heavenly position as entered into now was his alone to tell, death being on all the past, and so the church's place. Christian and apostolic forgiveness he could speak of down here, but administered forgiveness of past sins, a reception of it, as to the past, is not his affair. He is not an administrator with authority from heaven, as in Matt. 16, but one who brings us there. The nearest to it, “ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified.” But this just shows the difference: it is not forgiven. If there is forgiveness, it is identical with imputing no sin. There may be no government, as in James. So that the forgiveness in John 20. is a wholly inferior thing. He could bind and loose, his orderings were the commandments of the Lord, but with him all this was church detail. What he had was a new dispensation, an οἰκονομἰα, dating from Damascus, not Antioch, though formally in mission inaugurated at Antioch, showing its second great proof, the power of the Holy Ghost present down here, as the glorified Christ was the basis and starting-point of it. Hence He owns no apostles before the ascension of Christ. It started entirely anew, independently and directly from Christ, though recognizing, and, in one sense, tacked on through Ananias to the old thing; for he washed away his sins in baptism, but not sent, therefore, to baptize at all. The basis of the mission of the twelve, as in John, not merely in Matt. 28, is resurrection, which is indeed the seal of salvation work, but knows no union with Christ—our resurrection with Him leads into it; but even baptism for Paul was not for remission of sins, however true, but to Christ's death, putting on Christ. Hence, of course, with Him alone we have the rapture, not merely the revelation of Christ.
The Peter ministry, then, closed by the destruction of Jerusalem, Jewish restoration by Christianity failed, as by Christ, John's testimony, personal, especially as to Christians, follows the church to the time it would not repent, and judgment came on it, is neither cold nor hot, was spewed out of Christ's mouth (the little flock having kept the word of His patience with little strength), and then going on in judgments to His appearing. Paul takes up what is for heaven from heaven, and gives it by the Holy Ghost its full character. It is a great thing for conscience to have forgiveness presented to it as a present thing here, but it is not our place in Christ nor the Christian. Peter, with a full statement of redemption, puts the believers (Jews) in the wilderness, and suffering with Christ, a hope being laid up for them in heaven, and they awaiting the glory to be revealed, pilgrims and strangers here, and the government of God going on. But you have no Canaan warfare as Jehovah's host. Satan is a persecutor, a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Christ is building a spiritual house with living stones. Believing, they rejoice, receiving the end of their faith, soul-salvation, but they have to hope to the end for the grace to be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Withal the time was come for judgment to begin at the house of God. Peter himself was a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory to be revealed. Paul looked for the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Nor do you ever get in Peter God's love to the world, or God in this outgoing grace, but a people called by redemption under the government of God.
In John, as the revelation is above and beyond dispensation, the revelation of the Father and the Son in the Son, so it is eternal life in the Son manifested in Him, and thus “true in him and in you.” God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in. His Son. He that hath the Son hath life. Thus we have fellowship in the nature we have got with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ; and here the Holy Ghost is not mentioned; it is nature, and so subjected to captivity by it. There is more than this by the Holy Ghost. We know that we are in Him, and He in us, but thus far as to life. Hence we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, and he that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself as he is pure. Peter was an eye-witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory to be revealed. Paul says we shall appear with Him when He shall appear; now the power of His resurrection, and the fact of His sufferings: John, we know we shall then be like Him, and so now purify ourselves as He is pure; Paul, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord, and then we shall be ever with the Lord. And “with” is a leading word with the apostle, as John has more “in.”
In Hebrews the same ground is taken as Peter in respect to the pilgrim character; but there we have much more of the person and offices of Christ, and of His present position on high, and consequently the perfect purging of the conscience, and an eternal redemption to enter into the holiest. In this respect it is present approach to God in the holiest.

The Day of Atonement: Leviticus 16

It is of some importance to see, and I therefore remark it at the starting-point, that atonement differs sensibly from redemption. In the book of Exodus stands the great type of redemption, and in Leviticus of atonement; the truth in both centers in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament redemption was the deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh and Egypt. In His mercy God interposed to set free the people from the house of bondage, and as the passover set forth its righteous ground in the blood of the lamb, so was there the figure of Christ's death and resurrection in the passage of the Red Sea, or rather of death with Christ, and hence of faith living to God. But this is not so much what is taught in the book of Leviticus, as a sacrifice for sin perfectly glorifying God within the holiest, and a testimony to the people without that their sins were confessed and borne away to be remembered by Him no more.
On one day alone every year in Israel there was a sacrificial work done which had for its object to fit the people and the priests for their respective measures of nearness to God. It was now a question, not of enemies, nor even of Israel's being delivered, but of conciliating with God's holiness and righteousness a people guilty and defiled. Could He own in living relationship a people with sins and transgressions upon them? Were they by these defilements to be utterly incapacitated in the person of the high priest from coming into or standing in the presence of God?
Atonement met their need and His glory; for therein God proposed for that very people while in the wilderness—the place where uncleanness abounds and men are always exposed to it—to provide a way worthy of Himself and suited to them whereby their representative might approach Him. He proposed Himself to give them a ground of access to His sanctuary, and this in such a way that there should be no lowering of His character on the one hand, and on the other no denial of their uncleanness, but both known far better and more deeply felt than before. There was such a laying bare before God of their evils on that great day as was never witnessed on any other of the year. But the same institution which exposed did also cover them, at the same time judging and canceling their guilt, and this, one may add, by the most unsparing dealing on God's part and the most solemn confession on man's. Nevertheless that judgment fell not on the guilty but on a God-appointed sacrifice. This is the truth with which the chapter opens. Here of course it is but a figure; but the figure of a most blessed and efficacious reality, of the utmost interest to us to whom God has now revealed its fullness in the death of Christ. For this very figure of atonement in Israel the Spirit of God takes up in the New Testament to show, not merely that we have an atoning sacrifice no less than they, but that theirs was but a feeble shadow and not the very image, of what grace has given us now in the one offering of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Heb. 9; 10)
I shall pursue the chapter just as God's word has given it. He communicated it in such a way as to be not merely a most solemn rite for Israel, but also evermore for our instruction. Assuredly too it will be a profit to Israel, in the day when their eyes are opened to recognize in the crucified One the true Son of David, and they cast away every rag of beggarly elements that they may follow Him. This favor is reserved for them beyond all doubt; but in this very chapter, as is now somewhat known, we can read our distinctive portion as Christians, if not as the church, a foreshewn blessedness which they are not to taste even in that day. It is revealed so distinctly, and at the same time so simply, that any child of God, no matter how little instructed, should be able to discern it with his own eyes and feel it in his heart. The goodness of the Lord has thought of us now in this chapter, not merely of the people as they shall be restored by-and-by, but of those who are being called by grace while Israel are no people at all.
For I may assume that you are aware how for two thousand years and more the children of Israel have ceased to be the people of God; and you ought to know also (I am obliged to say this, for some may not know it) that they will yet be restored to that position. The scriptures that predict the sentence of Lo-Ammi (not-My-people) are equally explicit that the title they have lost is to be given back to them by God's grace. Hos. 1; 2 Not less distinct is the testimony of the New Testament in Rom. 11. Is God doing nothing meanwhile? Has He left an unoccupied blank between Israel's ceasing to be His people, and their final blessing and glory in their own land? I speak not merely of “the times of the Gentiles” which span the interval; but within these He has brought out, founded on accomplished redemption in Christ, the mystery hidden from ages, Christ given to be head over all things to the church which is His body. By the one Spirit sent down from heaven all that believe in Christ are now baptized into this one body. Thus, within the Gentile parenthesis of judgment on Israel, there is an inner one of heavenly blessing, through association with Christ at God's right hand. The typical intimation, to go no farther, of our chapter teaches this, not merely leaves room for better than Israel's place, but in a measure shows it fulfilled during the present period only, besides pointing to the future resumption of their title by the children of Israel.
In many ways, therefore, is the type of the atonement day instructive to all who can read it in the light of a dead, glorified, and returning Christ. What gave rise to the ordinance of atonement day in Lev. 16, was the death of the two sons of Aaron. They had presumptuously trifled with the presence of the Lord, and they perished. Aaron is now informed by Moses of the way in which he might safely, as the representative of the people, draw near the presence of God.
It is clear that in this we cannot regard Aaron as in analogy with our Lord Jesus. Types must be taken not merely as resemblances but as contrasts. It is of the nature of a type that it never rises to the fullness of the truth. No shadow could ever match the Savior. Hence we must remember that, although there are certain intimations of truth in all these types, yet (as the apostle shows us) they all fall short. What in the type was done once a year is accomplished in Christ's death, once and for over, as far as we are concerned. What was formally outwardly effected by the washing of water in the case of Aaron points to the purity of Christ's person of human nature in Him as well as divine. Christ was the Holy One at all times. There was no such thing as a process to fit the Lord Jesus for His work. He was a divine person and needed nothing from without. In Aaron's case there was a process of cleansing. It was only this that could give a feeble intimation of what was absolutely necessary in order to atonement, namely, One who is Himself spotless. Such was Christ, “Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” He was not made holy, or harmless, or even separate from sinners; He was so. He was made higher than the heavens. This language views Him as a man, a servant, and a victim here, because of which He is now exalted. It is in connection with what He was made that His exaltation is spoken of. Where only His own divine glory is the subject, there is no word about exalting Christ; but if He goes down, then He can be lifted up; and He did first descend that He might ascend far above all heavens. His resurrection, &c., like His death are not of Himself alone, but for us. In His humiliation for God's glory and in His love He was laying a foundation for the blessing of others; in His ascension He was triumphing righteously for others too. He was made sin on the one hand, and on the other He is made Lord and Christ and far, far more. He was made flesh, He became man; but there was no sin in Him. Sin does not, as philosophers and heretics taught, necessarily belong to humanity. When God made Adam at first, there was no sin in him. Sin came in by listening to Satan, but Christ ever obeyed and ever abode the Holy One of God.
Atonement is for sin and for sin alone—no doubt in the first aspect of it for the glory of God, for sin was an outrage on God Himself here below, quite apart from anybody being forgiven or saved, and the Lord Jesus in this very chapter is shown, in type, dying as the primary truth that God might be glorified in respect of sin. Hence the blood was carried in and sprinkled in the holiest. But we must not overlook the necessary limitations of types, indeed there is no part of scripture where there is greater danger to those whom the apostle Peter calls “unlearned and unstable.” Men see enough to invite and exercise their thoughts; but Christ as fully revealed is the one safe-guard. Human intellect never can be trusted; and for this reason its natural and invariable tendency is to exalt man: the object of God's Spirit is to glorify Christ. We therefore need the Spirit of God to keep us right, otherwise we exalt ourselves instead of Him; and self-exaltation cannot but depreciate Christ.
Here then we find God laying down moans by which there should in future be no such thing, either as ignoring sin, or as involving judgment in drawing near to Him. It had been fatal, not merely to Israel, but even to Aaron's sons. How could a sinful man venture into the presence of God? The very priests had not completed their consecration before two of them died, and the other two were in danger of dying. So we learn in chapter x. Now God sets forth in type by what means guilty men, a people who own their uncleanness of all sorts, may nevertheless, in the person of their representative, draw near into the holiest of all. This is what comes before us in the type of atonement day. “Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place with a young bullock for a sin-offering” —that is the first thought— “and a ram for a burnt-offering.” There is no coming short of blessing, no incompleteness in the thoughts of God. He would not be content with merely meeting sin; He would give in type the sign and means of acceptance; not merely blot out the consequences of evil, but invest us with conscious favor in drawing near to Himself. How full of grace He is! How bent on the blessing of His people!
“He shall put on the holy linen coat.” In this we have the character needful for approaching God, what was displayed outwardly to the eye in Aaron. What did not man, what God, see in our Lord Jesus? “He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen miter shall he be attired; these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.” A sinful man, Aaron needed thus to have all the consequences of sin removed, as far as that could be done figuratively; needed to have himself invested in a way fit for the holy presence of God. These were holy garments, not the garments of glory and beauty, but specially holy for this day and work.
The sixth verse shows another marked contrast between the type and the Antitype. Aaron has to bring a sin-offering “for himself;” but this were impossible where Christ is concerned. Needing no offering, He could be exclusively for others; He had neither defects nor wants of His own. His love therefore could be occupied with God and us, without thought of Himself. “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live” [not merely “by,” which is far short of the truth, but] “on account of the Father.” What a glorious picture of One who had not an object apart from His Father, nor a motive for anything that He did What was the effect of it? The most perfect outgoing of affection—holy and gracious affection—ready to respond to every call, a poor sinner, a leper, a paralytic, or a blind beggar of the city, or a babe in its mother's arms. He was here a divine person, as open for every cry of need, as able to meet it in the power of God. He lived on account of the Father. He came down for the purpose not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him; so that, whosoever came, He welcomed. If He had lived for Himself, He might have preferred this one to that. But no! If the Father brought any, this was enough; if the Father drew, He received: “him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out; for I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” There met love and holiness; among men but entirely set apart to God, and the effect was blessing flowing out around Him. He was, as scripture says, consumed by zeal for His Father's house. An insult to Himself He ever bore with perfect patience; but He could not tolerate any affront to His Father. He never scourged one who spoke against Himself. But when He saw what grieved His heart in His Father's house, He at once drives out what was a disgrace to God and destruction to men. Indeed the two things go together, whatever man may dream. And what will His God do in the day of retribution to those that despise Him?
We see then in the type that the high-priest offered his bullock for himself as a sin-offering, but in Christ, just because His offering was not needed for Himself, it could be perfectly for others. This contrast is warranted, not merely by the general truth of scripture as to the person of Christ, but by the direct and positive statement of the Holy Ghost in the epistle to the Hebrews. He contrasts the Lord Jesus with Aaron in this respect. It seems strange a Christian should need to be recalled to it now. But some have been drawn into license in their thoughts and language as to Christ, than which nothing is more dangerous.
In the beginning of Heb. 5 the apostle is not describing Christ but the Aaronic priesthood, with which he proceeds to contrast the Lord Jesus. Aaron was taken from among men, an infirm man himself, he could feel for others. But to apply such words to Christ is serious indeed. The Spirit really contrasts it with Him. Christ was the Son of God, as is elaborately proved in this chapter, in order to be priest (though no doubt He must also become a man); so that, instead of deriving His honor from the priesthood, He conferred the highest on it. Quite the reverse was Aaron's case, whose honor it was to be called of God to the priesthood.
The Lord Jesus was the Son of God who glorified not Himself to be made a high priest, but, called of God after the order of Melchisedec, gave priesthood an honor it never did nor could otherwise possess. There was found for the first time a priest, not only perfect according to God's mind and glory, but consequently of unfailing avail for man.
In verse 7 we have another offering, and an offering of a kindred character. Only in this case there is not one animal only, but two. “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for Jehovah, and the other for the scape-goat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which Jehovah's lot fell, and offer him for a sin-offering; but the goat on which the lot fell to be the scape-goat shall be presented alive before Jehovah, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scape-goat into the wilderness.” Here is a marked difference between the two goats which together constitute the sin-offering for the children of Israel. The difference is told out in the fact and name of the two lots. What can be plainer than Jehovah's lot, and the people's lot? The reason too is most important; yet, spite of this early teaching of the Spirit, it has been constantly forgotten.
For what do we find even among those who really preach most earnestly, and are, by the grace of God, blessed to souls? What is the character of their preaching? Is the first place given to God's glory? Do they start aright from Jehovah's lot—how Christ has glorified God? Not so. What they continually iterate and reiterate is what Christ is for man. Consequently there is the tendency to dwell most on the circumstances in Christ's work which move the feelings, which bring out the incomparable patience and grace of Christ towards man. They see and press sufferings from man and on behalf of man. It is quite otherwise in what the Holy Ghost shows us here. He begins with what was for God. The first lot was Jehovah's, not the people's. In evangelical preaching the one thought ordinarily is the people's lot. The value of Jehovah's lot as distinct from the people's is not known. Not but that they believe that God was needed, and had, as their divines commonly say, “satisfaction.” Is this denied? Surely not; but there was really a great deal more. What I would now point out, however, is that, in the teaching of the Holy Spirit, Jehovah's lot is put first, while in the common teaching even of beloved men of God it too often has no place at all.
I am not speaking of ritualists. We may pity their self-complacency, while on ground of extreme danger, groping with their tiny tapers, where God alone can give light as He has given it most fully in Christ and His word by the Spirit. I am speaking of such as are generally held up as the soundest preachers now and for hundreds of years. And I affirm as unquestionable, that Jehovah's lot has no such distinctive place in their preaching, as God's word laid down even in the law of Moses. The people's lot is all but exclusively dwelt on, and consequently the great point in the minds of these preachers of grace is the removal of the iniquity and transgressions and uncleanness of the people. But in the death of Christ there is incomparably more. He did bear our sins in His own body on the tree. This is most true and exactly what is conveyed by the people's lot. But what is taught by Jehovah's lot? There you will find a great and general defect in the gospel preached by those reputed to hold the doctrines of grace. And this goes far to explain why we so seldom hear of the “righteousness of God.” God's own glory in Christ's work with respect to sin is not understood. Hence, habitually the most learned of their theologians question what is meant by such expressions as “coming short of the glory of God.” The uncertainty of their maturest men even on these capital points, which every Christian should know clearly, is truly lamentable. Why is it so? Mainly because they slip over the truth that answers to Jehovah's lot—that side in Christ's work which secured in the first plane the glory of God.
Let us listen to the words of our Lord Jesus: “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” Not a word about sinners, though no doubt this never could so have been, had there not been sin: but it is not the first thought. How was He glorified? By being seated on the throne in heaven? By being lifted up on the cross on earth. It was the moral glory of Him who restored what He took not away; who gave up everything that God might be vindicated; who not only surrendered all, but suffered to the uttermost, and this not in the first instance to save sinners but to glorify God about sin. True, He did save sinners; but the prime thought with Christ, as in all His life, so in His death, was Godward. You do not see the difference? It is really immense, and of all possible moment. During His life it was the Father that He was pleasing in all the affections and all the obedience of the Son. But then came the otherwise insoluble question: Would He endure the judgment of God? Would He not merely abandon everything, but be Himself abandoned of God and suffer that He might be glorified where He had been dishonored, in the place of sin? He had been glorified throughout the life of the only obedient One who ever walked this earth. But would He glorify Him by bearing that which was most hateful, not only to God, but to Himself the Holy One of God? The answer is, He gave Himself up for His glory, and so passed under, not merely death, but also divine judgment. In His case judgment came before death. And such is the meaning of that most wonderful scene, where all is wonderful, at the close of the life of our Lord Jesus. Wherefore was that strange, that infinite, abandonment of Himself? That God, in all His moral being, His truth, love, holiness, righteousness, and majesty, might be glorified.
There is another thing. “If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself.” The glorifying of the Lord Jesus at the right hand of God was the answer to the moral glory we find in His cross. “And shall straightway glorify him.” God did not wait for the restoration of His kingdom to Israel. He raised Him up and set Him at His own right hand, far above every name that is named. This was the answer to the cross, the only adequate answer to the Lord's giving Himself up to the judgment of God against sin. I say the judgment of sin, because therein the question is not yet raised as to who is to be saved. The matter in hand was God's glory in presence of sin. And so we find our Lord in John 10 saying, not that He was loved because He laid down His life for the sheep, but, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again.” None doubts the delight of the Father in His dying for the sheep, but apart from that work, for surely in the absolute laying down of His life, there was manifested perfect confidence in His Father as well as devotedness to His glory. He would lay it down and take it again; and on this account the Father loved Him. Surely this should—could—not be forgotten by our hearts if we love God and feel how He has been outraged by sin. To lay down His life because of the glory of God; to show the most absolute confidence in God and the moat complete surrender and self-sacrifice for God is of an essentially higher character than any application of His work to bear our sins and secure our pardon. Putting the people's lot first—that is, making what Christ suffered for us the principal or only thing—is not only unscriptural, but an essentially God-forgetting and selfish consideration. It is the outcome of that natural instinctive egoism which, even when we are awakened and in some degree instructed by the Spirit, is apt to rise so readily to the surface in us. How inveterately the heart turns to think, if not what we are to do, at any rate, how things affect ourselves in the first place! One easily understands it as being natural. Still it is incomparably more blessed to estimate God's side of Christ and His work confiding in Him about ourselves without question. If God proposes aught for our learning, it is well to weigh it; but if God gives, it is according to His own thoughts and heart, and this will always prove the best portion. Be remembers our every want as well as His glory; and this finds its fullest illustration in the death of Christ as scripture puts it.
We look then first at Jehovah's lot. The first goat was in respect of that which, having been compromised by sin, and had to be cleared. And if we look into the New Testament, we shall find that this has a marvelous effect which could not be shown in the Old. You are aware that there was no such thing as the going out of the message of grace to men during the period of God's special dealings with Israel. But when our Lord died on the cross, He died not merely for “that nation” (the old people of God), He tasted death for every man. I know there are many Christians who would narrow this if they could. How few are those who really believe there was such largeness of grace in God's mind. But it is vain to resist scripture. Our wisdom is to learn, and we cannot learn except by subjection to the word of God. We may understand it little at first; but the path of wisdom is to bow and accept even what we do not comprehend. We shall understand better as God sees to His glory who never forgets, and as we are fit for it.
In Rom. 3 we may see this truth in distinct reference to the very type before us. “God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiatory [or mercy-seat] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God,” &c. I do not quote the A.V. in the word “propitiation,” as it is translated in our version, but have given you what I believe to be the truer idea, as it also stands in the Authorized Version of Heb. 9:6. Here there is clearly a reference to the first goat in
Lev. 16; in the second there was no blood shed whatever. The whole point in the second is that the goat was presented alive, and sent away into a land of forgetfulness to be seen no morn. But the first was killed, and the blood carried into the holiest to be sprinkled there, and on the altar, “To declare his righteousness.” Up to this time man's righteousness had been in question, and man completely failed, never more so indeed than in the cross. But in that cross of Christ God established forever His righteousness. There Christ who knew no sin, was made sin, and so glorified God perfectly, even as to sin. It was God made Him sin; and I understand thereby, that God charged Him with all its consequences as far as this could be done by imputation to the Holy One, who suffered for sin as really, yea, far more perfectly, than if it had been His own. Christ went down as truly and unsparingly under the divine judgment of sin, as if He had been Himself guilty. He was so completely charged with sin that God dealt with Him not only in death but in judgment. For nothing more distinctly marks judgment than God's forsaking one. If you say it is also marked by punishment, what punishment was not there? He was bruised and wounded, and He had stripes, by which, I do not mean, what He received only at the hands of man, but above all from God.
When it is said, “By his stripes we are healed,” is it credible that a saint could believe they refer to His being scourged by the soldiers? These figures so multiplied in Isa. 53 express not merely of what man did to Jesus, but what He suffered from Jehovah, when He laid the iniquity of His own on the rejected Messiah—figures taken from what is common among men, but above all to express that which He Himself inflicted. It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him, it was He put Him to grief; and it was for the transgression of His people that He was stricken. He bare the sin of many.
So in Rom. 3 the death of the Lord Jesus is to declare God's righteousness. Now that Christ had done this work, it remained for God to show His estimate and acceptance of it. What is God's measure even now of His value for what Christ suffered? That every believer in Him is justified, their guilt gone at once and forever It is no longer then a question of man or his ways, but of Christ and His death. The believer has, at God's call to him as a sinner, given up all pretension to do anything for God or himself, and found in Christ redemption. God found His all in Christ, even for the lost in His death, and proclaims this truth to man that believing he may be justified. Thus God's righteousness is declared not only in receiving Christ to His right hand, but in the justification of the believer. God set such a value on Christ's surrender of Himself to death for God's glory which sin compromised, that man's righteousness is not now in question but God's. The justification of the believer is a question of God's marking His value for Christ's work. This is connected first with “the remission of sins that are past,” meaning not our sins in our past lives, but the sins of the saints in times gone by, which had been passed over in anticipation of the work of the coming One. I repeat, “the passing over” of these sins; for the word here used is peculiar, in fact never found elsewhere in the New Testament. It is not exactly remission, but pretermission. In fact, God forbore to judge. From Old Testament times, God was waiting for the work of Christ, and, because of that work, He passed by the sins of the elders who obtained a good report of all that believed on Him who was coming. But is this all we enjoy now? Far from it. “To declare at this time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth on Jesus.” (Ver. 26.) There is not a word about “forbearance” here, the work being now accomplished and indeed accepted. The difference may be compared to that between a creditor who had every confidence that the debt would be paid, and therefore forbore to press for payment; and that creditor when he has received payment of the debt. In this case we do not speak of forbearance, but of acknowledging that payment has been made. God is now “just, and the justifier of him that believeth.” This is the gospel of God.
But remark also in connection with this what is found in verse 22. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” This also has its place in the type; we can at any rate connect the two. The blood, whether of bullock or of goat, which was put upon and before the mercy-seat, could not be limited in its value typically before God. Certainly we learn from the apostle that the testimony to the blood of Christ was meant to go out far beyond those that believe. The righteousness of God is “unto all,” without restriction, though only upon all them that believe. There are two things, therefore; the universal aspect, and the special effect. Its actual efficacy is only on those who believe, but the rights of the blood of Christ demand that the gospel should be preached to every creature under heaven. It is due to Christ, and His blood, that every poor sinner in the world should be met by the message of God's righteousness in the gospel, a righteousness which condemns not but justifies all who believe. But what would be the effect of this alone? Had there been no more than the gracious message presented to all, not a sinner would have been saved. Just because we are sinners, and such by nature, we give God credit for no hard ways with us who deserve condemnation, instead of saving grace. We believe not Him, but our own competence, instead of our total ruin. Because a man is a sinner, he is an enemy of God. He may be ever so decent a man in his way among men; but the moment you measure him by his conduct towards God, you come to another conclusion. He is found totally wanting; he has not a right thought of God, nor a true judgment of himself, nor sound sense of what he needs, still less of what is due to God. Hence had God done nothing more than send out to all the good news of Christ's sacrifice for sin, infinite as it is to all, not one would have been saved. There is naturally in us such a repugnance to face our true state before God, such a shrinking on the one hand from the conviction and confession of our sins and guilt, and, on the other, such indisposition to believe God's grace and submit to His righteousness, that not a soul would bow to His message. Was it not so once with every one of us? I speak to you that believe. Were you always believers? Why were you not? Christ's blood had been shed ages before we were born. Why did we not believe the first time we heard the gospel? Because we were not wretched and guilty only, but self-willed, haughty, and rebellious sinners. How came we to believe at last? By some goodness or truth in us? In no wise, but because God's Spirit wrought to make us sensible of our evil and of His good; brought us down in our own eyes and exalted God's grace to us in Christ. Thus facts agree with the written word, and there is a further dealing of God essential to the saving of every soul, the intervention of the Spirit with us personally by the truth to make us feel and own our sins and sinfulness in presence of His love and thus bring us to God by the faith of Jesus. For naturally every soul is either opposed or indifferent, and in one or the other way shows that carnal mind which is enmity against God. But we are not to suppose that this resistance always takes the same form. All have gone astray, but every one in his own way. The same particular manner of unbelief is not found in all. The calm unbelief that thinks highly of itself is quite as offensive in the sight of God as the bold unbelief that openly despises the scriptures. When the grace of God works personally, the result is that we break down in repentance and truly believe.
First, then is the righteousness of God unto all without distinction: and this answers not to the people's, but to Jehovah's, lot. The sacrifice of Christ has made it consistent with God's character to send out the gospel to every one. It is another thing where the word takes effect, and His righteousness is “upon all them that believe.” There is a gracious result produced, according to God, and by His Spirit they believe. To believe on Christ is as truly given as to suffer for His sake. (Cf. also Eph. 2:8.) The one is just as much the fruit of God's grace as the other. No soul ever believed savingly till it was given of God to believe. Not one of us ever would have believed on Christ's name, unless also born of God. It is not a question therefore of God vindicated alone, but of our being quickened also. We had still been lost, had God merely sent out the message announcing His love in Christ's death, addressed to our responsibility. It is of grace alone that any believe. I know that men as such would deny this, because they think more of their own character than of God's. But if a man really judges himself in the light of God, he will find little difficulty in believing that he is as bad as God says he is. What we find here is, however, Jehovah's lot in the first instance; we shall, by-and-by, see the people's lot.
In verses 11-14 a fresh distinction is brought in. But first there is the fullness of the fragrance of Christ. We must remember that it was not the offering of Christ made Him fragrant, it was what attached to His own person. He was ever the Father's delight. Not a particle in Him offends God. The Son became a man, the Word was made flesh. He was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, though for that reason not sinful flesh. On the other hand, neither is it true that He was merely in the likeness of flesh. He was made really flesh, but when “sinful” is added, then only in the likeness of it. He was really and properly a man, and He is so still. His being risen from the dead does not in any way detract from His real humanity. He is man and will be so forever. He is much more, we know; He is the Son of God. That blessed One deigned to be a man, but a man without sin, and so He could be made sin. He never was made sin before the cross, but He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, the moment He entered the world.
In this type then we see a beautiful testimony to the fragrance of the Lord before His work on the cross. The blood for others was not presented till after the incense had been brought in and had ascended to Jehovah. Then the blood of the bullock is brought in and sprinkled once on the mercy-seat, before it seven times—a perfect witness. Next, “he shall kill the goat of the sin-offering that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock.” Why are both the blood of the goat and the blood of the bullock thus sprinkled? I know there are those who find in the death of Christ nothing but God's providing for His church. But there is more every way. I have already shown that the first requisite is for His own glory. But even when we restrict our thought to man, I deny that it is only for the church that Jesus died. The blood of the bullock and the blood of the goat were not two offerings for the same class. The difference was made too precisely in the type, to allow the thought of mere repetition in the antitype. As the priests and people differed, so yet more what was represented. There is one manifest enough instance how loose and incorrect are the notions of theology. I am not aware of any theologian that ever lived who distinguished rightly the truths taught by the bullock and the goat. Perhaps one may say so after having read more than most. So far as my memory serves me in recalling the ancient fathers—both Greek and Latin—and modern theologians in our own and other countries, I fail to think of one who makes the obvious distinction. Do I mention this for the purpose of showing that any of us now understand better? God forbid such a thought! I say it not for exalting men now above those of the past, but to show how rich and deep God's word is, and that theology is an empty thing after all, for it cannot explain even the simplest scripture about the death of Christ.
What then are we to learn from this double presentation in type of the offering of Christ? Why the bullock and the goat? The New Testament enables us to answer this very simply. Christ was to die “for that nation” —Israel— “and not for that nation only, but that he should gather together in one, the children of God that were scattered abroad.” Thus two distinct objects meet in the death of Christ. First, we see His people—then rejecting Him. Yet He died for them. But who were the children of God that were to be gathered together? This is going on now. It is not merely saving souls, but gathering together God's children. The saved are gathered together in one. Hence, every Christian owns as a brother (and, according to the epistles, as a member of Christ) a believer from the ends of the earth; the truth of which relationship makes it so offensive to hear people talk of this church and that, forgetting that, if scripture should decide, there is but one. Whether in John's writings, or in Paul's, we find always of course the same substantial truth, the unity of those now gathered by the Spirit of God. Indeed the word of God by no apostles allows the splitting up of this unity into various distinctive bodies or sects. Not that there may not be ever so many meetings, even in one city, as in Jerusalem or Rome; but there was maintained the testimony to unity not only in each place but all over the world.
We do not of course hear of this unity in the type, but when the antitype appears. But we might see that Christ's work goes on beyond “the people” to those whom the priestly house represents now brought into blessing, as the people will be by-and-by through the death of Christ, While Israel are still the rejecters of Christ and therefore themselves rejected of God, God is gathering together in one His children who formerly had been scattered. Instead of being hidden among Jews and Gentiles, and mixed up with them, they are now called out to form a distinct company. “And, being let go, they went to their own company.” (Acts 4:23.) Instinctively believers had begun to ant on the truth. So again, if they went to another place, they found children of God gathered together as such, and companied with them. This had never been the case before. Where they went, the preaching of the apostles, &c., was used to gather them. What brought them together'? The power and presence of the Spirit who gave them the knowledge that Christ had died for this very purpose. How wise, full, and precise is scripture. We little know its worth.
Here then we see not the unintelligence of man, but the work of God; His provision for man's necessity—and this in two distinct aspects—the bullock and the goat. Now let us, marking what the blood of the bullock is for, search the New Testament for divine light on all. “And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin-offering which is for himself and shall make an atonement for himself and for his house.” (Ver. 11.) It was for the priest himself and for his house.
The Epistle to the Hebrews states expressly that Christ's offering was not for Himself, but it shows also a priestly house for whom it was. There were those that God gave to Him, as it is written, “Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me.” The true Aaron has a house and a family now on earth—Christians! He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren. And hence one object of this epistle is to prove among other things that now not only are our sins forgiven, but we have a title to enter into the sanctuary. And who can enter into the sanctuary but a son of Aaron? There was nothing so characteristic of the Aaronic family as entrance into the holy place. An Israelite could not do so; he could only go beyond the court of the tabernacle. The Hebrew believers, or Christians, are invited to enter not into the holy place only, but into the most holy. The privilege of a Christian is beyond type of Aaron's eons, just as the glory of Christ is beyond Aaron. The apostle can say, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus.” Who are meant by “brethren?” Surely not the early believers only, but every child and saint of God now. All these are “brethren,” and exhorted now to draw near with boldness into the holiest. And that he means nothing short of the holiest of all is evident from the words “through the veil.” Therefore it was that, when Christ died, the veil was rent from top to bottom. It was to show that there was an end of that which kept man outside. The believer can now go into the presence of God. Of course it. is by faith, and by faith in the blood of Christ. What characterizes a Christian according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, is this right of entrance into the holiest. He is not merely one of the people but a priest, yea, is more free of the holiest than Aaron. Men, women, and children who believe on the Lord Jesus, are Christ's house, and associated with Him.
And here let me say that we must never confound priesthood with ministry. They are quite distinct things. Every person who can draw near into the holiest is a priest, but not every person is a minister. A minister of the word is formed by the Spirit bestowing a distinct gift of Christ. Ministry is a matter of the sovereign choice of the Lord among the saved, and depends on a gift which the Holy Ghost imparts. It is quite a distinct thing from priesthood. So that I trust I may say without offense that Luther was entirely wrong in his idea of a Christian democracy. If all are teachers, it is hard to know who are to be the taught. If God had been pleased so to constitute His people, of course one would have heartily accepted it. But it was a confusion of thought, however great and good a man he may have been.
Aaron's house, then, was the priestly family, which typified the whole Christian family. For them the blood of the bullock was shed. For whom then was the blood of the goat? For the people. “Then shall he kill the goat of the sin-offering that is for the people.” (Ver. 15.) Further we read, “And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place until he come out.” There He is now in the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not men. He is gone in not with the blood of others, but with His own, and that not merely for us who believe and who have now the incomparable privilege of entering in spirit into that sanctuary “whither the fore-runner is for us entered” —but for the people. You may ask, why have we such a privilege now? why cannot the people by-and-by in their time of blessing have the same? Because it is not the same thing to believe in a rejected Christ, as to welcome One who comes forth in manifest power and glory. God puts special honor on those who believe while He is hidden from the world. Surely those who see Him by-and-by will be blessed, but “blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.” This is our portion, the portion of those who now by the sovereign grace of God are severed from the world to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to pursue with the heart's delight the path He has traced into the very presence of God, knowing that there He has sat down for us and that we may now freely draw near where He is.
But He will come out. Has He come out yet? No. Now mark the difference and what fixes the true interpretation of the goat. I said that the goat is for the people as distinct from the priestly family; that is, for those who are to believe by-and-by, in contrast with those who believe now. And this may be made perfectly plain, spite of every prejudice. “And he shall go out,” &c. (ver. 18), just as we know the Lord Jesus Christ is coming from the right hand of God in heaven.
There is not a creed in Christendom that does not own His coming again. Not that I cite creeds as any authority: but to those who value them more than I do I do say they habitually teach that He is coming again. That is what answers to Aaron's coming out in the type. “He shall go out unto the altar that is before Jehovah and make an atonement for it.... And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times and cleanse it and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.”
When the Lord does come, He will come to reign over this world, to take the lower heavens and the earth under His own power and rule for the glory of God. We find in the Epistle to the Colossians that He by the blood of His cross not only made peace, but is to reconcile all things whether in heaven or on earth. This corresponds with what we have here. The blessing of all creation coalesces with the forgiveness of Israel.
“And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar he shall bring the live goat; and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.” Remember this is after He has come out of the sanctuary. Are the Christians waiting for our portion? Are we looking for the Lord Jesus to come out and take away our sins then? What sort of doctrine would this be? You know well that what the gospel proclaims is, not that the Lord is going to do something for our sins then, but that He has already done it perfectly and forever, and that He is gone into heaven where we now draw near through the rent veil, which is characteristic of Christianity. He is to come forth and be seen by His own people, the Jews; and there applies the live goat.
Why is it put after His coming out? The goat already was slain is the type of the work done for the people, the live goat of its future application to them. The reason why the latter is put at the end of all is because God foresaw that the time when the people will be brought under the effect of the work of Christ is not while He abides in heaven but when He comes out. Then the Spirit of God will be poured out afresh upon the people broken down under a sense of their sins, and learning that the very One whom they despised, and hated, and slew, is the Redeemer, the Lord God of Israel; learning too that He will forgive them and put away all their most grievous offenses in that day when He returns.
This is predicted plainly in Zech. 12. It is precisely what we have here in the scone of the scapegoat: not of course, the actual work of suffering for sin, but the application of it, when Israel comes under its efficacy. The work was His death. Here it is their really learning that in consequence of that blood-shedding their sins are completely gone. It will be a work of divine grace in their souls.
But it is worthy of all note that in the case of the sacrifice for the house of Aaron there is no second animal. There is no scape bullock. There was a bullock slain just as the first goat was, but there was no live bullock sent away into the wilderness! Why is this? We who are represented by those for whom the bullock was offered are not looking for the Lord to come out for the application of the work like Israel in the day of power and glory. We wait for His coming, but “apart from sin unto salvation.” For our bodies are to be there brought under His power as now are our souls. We now hear the grace of God in the gospel, and we are led, though often through a certain conflict of unbelief which afterward is made profitable to us, into full peace and liberty by Christ's work. We have not to wait till He comes out again to know our sin blotted out and gone. Instead of waiting without till He comes forth, we follow Him in where He is gone. This is the essence of Christianity. We enter into blessing where He is, in heavenly places. The Jews, on the contrary, wait for Him to come out and bless them on the earth. They will then see and believe. We believe without seeing. Consequently we, looking by faith into the sanctuary, do not require to see a visible and separate sign to show all our sins confessed and put upon Him and borne away. We rest simply on the blood that went in before God. Nothing can be more marked or more beautiful than the difference in the type between those who believe now, and those who in that day will look on Him whom they pierced.
I must close without entering into details. I will add just one point more, and that is, the state of cool that is produced even in those who will then rest on the atonement. This is very important. There is a certain state of heart that goes along with the knowledge of that infinite work of the Lord Jesus, and the man whose heart is not wrought upon suitably to it is not a true believer. What is that state of heart? I will answer in the words of the chapter. “In the seventh month, in the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls and do no work at all.... It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls by a statute forever.” (Vers. 29-31.) It is a beautiful fact found elsewhere, that on this same day the jubilee trumpet was sounded and everything was rectified, every man was reinstated in that which was his own. But there was exercise of heart too. First, his soul was to be afflicted in that day, not to be merry. Wherever there is genuine faith, there is genuine repentance: where souls do not feel their sins, it is vain to look for the remission of them. Instead of talking lightly of receiving the word with joy, there is deep self-judgment, resting on that most solemn, humbling scene, where the Lord Jesus died for us. Secondly, there was no pretension to work on that day, it was to be a sabbath-day, the work was Another's. There was no thought of their doing anything towards atonement, but real brokenness of spirit in the presence of such incomparable mercy.
May God bless His own truth, and make us feel more and more how complete it is, how every part of the Old is bound up with the New! The man who understands the New best will most value the Old.

Life by the Word

My Dear Brother,
I have nothing very especial on the points you speak of, save holding fast the great foundations that it is a new life communicated. “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life;” only 2 Peter 1:4 is more conformity to the divine nature, as you say, though not merely attainment.
The word is the instrument as it is said, faith comes by hearing, ἀκοή, report, and hearing, ἀκοή by the word of God. It is hard to say how the word merely works, save that it is God's method of the revelation of Christ, and where accompanied by the quickening power of the Spirit, it becomes thus the means of life, what is spoken of as the word communicated to the soul by the Spirit becomes life.
In Paul's case it was sight, yet revealing His Son in him, indeed the words of Christ too came to his car. The Holy Ghost gave reality in his soul to that which his senses told him of. The written (or spoken word if true) is a revelation of that which is true of Christ, and of Christ Himself, so that while it is the divine power of the Spirit by which we are quickened, it is the revelation of Christ to the soul (which) is objectively that which quickens me, what the Spirit brings to my soul, so that it is faith, faith in the report, which is the outward means, while the thing contained in the word which is life, Christ. The word in itself is merely the outward means or instrument, and by itself, though all truth be in it, produces nothing (unless to leave us without excuse).
The incorruptible seed is clearly in contrast with corruptible, or nature. But as the living Word was the carpenter's son, without the work of God in the soul, so the revelation of truth, and Christ, and grace in the written word too. His words were the expression of Himself, and the Spirit of God has given us what is needed for salvation and blessing, and also revealed Him as in glory. Each make us responsible to receive them, but to have life-giving power, the Holy Ghost must reveal what is in them. It is a comparison or allusion to natural birth, but there is a divine nature communicated, a new life, Christ our life, brought spiritually into the soul by the operation of the Holy Ghost, with the word which reveals them. God reveals His Son in us, and so we have life, Christ our life, and so morally and intelligently, by the word which reveals Him. God begets us, though it be by the word, we are born of the Spirit, the Son quickens us, the Spirit is the immediate power as in all God's works, but He is pleased to do it by the revelation of Christ by the word. By the word in James, and in 1 Peter is either meant “by” as an instrument, or what is called the instrumental dative. It is of all importance to see that a new life is communicated, that Christ becomes our life, just as we had the life of Adam in the old man, the flesh.
Your affectionate brother in Christ,
J. N. D.

Notes on Job 29

A fresh discourse of Job here begins, and it is his final one, which naturally parts into the three chapters which follow, each presenting a distinct portion, and the whole a very complete summary of the case, as it now presented itself to the sufferer's spirit. He takes a retrospective glance at his past life, when divine favor lavished on him every enjoyment that an upright soul could desire on earth, and this in the relief of the needy and distressed, quite as much as in the universal honor of those that knew him. Then in chapter 30 he contrasts his actual circumstances of degradation, an object of scorn and insult to the lowest, even of the young, and this without the smallest comfort within, yea, the bitterest dregs of his cup lying in the fact that he cried unheard to God who indeed with strong hand was putting him down, as surely as He had once blessed and exalted him; so that he could only surrender himself to hopeless sorrow as regards this life. Yet does he, in chapter 31, with the utmost detail and solemnity repudiate all consciousness of secret iniquity, whether wandering in lust, or in any stain on domestic propriety, either in public or in religious life, so as not only to imprecate judgments if there was hidden evil, but to speak with unbecoming boldness in the presence of God, who however well knew that His poor servant was far more distant from hypocrisy than his friends that suspected him. Thus runs the first of these sections.
And Job continued to utter his parable and said,
Who giveth me like the months of old,
Like the days when God guarded me,
When His lamp, it shone over my head—
By His light I walked [through] darkness;
As I was in the days of the harvest
When God's familiarity [was] over my tent;
While the Almighty [was] still with me,
My young ones around me;
When I washed my steps in cream,
And the rock alongside me [poured] rivers of oil;
When I went out to the gate by the city,
In the open place I established my seat;
Youths saw me and hid themselves
And the aged rose—stood up,
Princes refrained from words
And laid the hand on their mouth,
The voice of nobles was arrested,
And their tongue cleaved to their palate.
For the ear heard and praised me,
And an eye saw and testified to me.
For I delivered the poor that cried,
And the fatherless that had no helper.
The blessing of the perishing came on me
And the heart of the widow I made sing.
Righteousness I put on, and it put me on,
As a robe and a diadem mine equity.
I was eyes to the blind, and feet [was] I to the lame,
A father to the needy, and the cause I knew not I searched.
And I broke the jaw of the wicked,
And flung the prey out of his teeth.
And I said, With my nest I shall expire,
And as sand shall multiply my days.
My root is open toward the waters,
And dew lodgeth all night on my branches.
Mine honor remaineth fresh with me,
And my bow is renewed in my hand.
They hearken to me, they wait, and are silent for my counsel.
After my word they repeat not,
And my discourse droppeth on them,
And they wait for me as rain,
And their mouth they open wide [as] for the latter rain.
And this sense would fall in with the context excellently. But the Jewish Rabbinical commentators, following the Talmud, and followed by Ewald, RosenmUller, Dillmann, Delitzsch, &c., regard it as “the phoenix.” Bochart (Hieroz. 819) reminds us that 80 some of the fathers took the φοῖνιξ of Psa. 92:13, as a testimony to resurrection. It is needless to argue against the reference to this fabulous bird, which suits the context as badly as it does in itself. For the common view see Psa. 139, Hab. 1:9 where the sea or shore is not added; and here it was the less necessary, as the sand of the desert is no less countless: so in Targ., Syr., Arm.; so Luther, Trent. and Jun.; so even Gesenius, Umbreit, and Rattan, not to speak of orthodox scholars in general.
I laugh on them when they have no confidence,
And the, light of my face they cannot cast down.
I choose their way for them, and sit head,
And dwelt as king in the troop, the comforter of mourners.
Some of the finest compositions of genius in ancient and in modern times embody a similar retrospect, out of the depths of present misery, on past prosperity and honor; but, touching as they may be, they fall as far short of that which has just come before us, as the character of an Oedipus or a Lear is inferior to this holy man of old. None need travel out of scripture—I do not say for truth, found nowhere else, but—for the most admirable and affecting picture of reverses, borne patiently, though not perfectly, till He came whose alone it was to sum up all, divine and human, unalloyed and unconfounded in His own person. Immeasurably far below Him was Job, yet as far above the favorite sufferers of dramatists and other poets as faith is beyond unbelief. Nor is it only on the human side that we see the gulf that separates the inspired book from the best writings of men, but yet more on the divine, where no vengeful being looms behind to take a spiteful pleasure in blighting at length man's earthly happiness. There is indeed such a being, yet a creature of vast but limited capacity of malicious power, whose defeat is here revealed for our comfort; and yet more fully the delight of God in the final joy and blessing of those who honor Him with subjection of heart and word and ways, and this even on earth before men, as it will be on the largest scale when the Lord appears in His kingdom.
Job then sets before us a beautiful account of his previous life, when God shone on the days and months as they glided by, His lamp above his head, His light enabling him to walk through darkness. Especially does he recall the days of his harvest, of maturity rather than youth, when he enjoyed the familiar presence and counsel of Eloah over his tent life, and beneath the shadow of Shaddai, his young surrounding him, and the proverbial blessings of earth beyond measure abundant and accessible. Nor did honor fail outside his own domains; for if he went from [or to] the gate up to the city, and took his seat in the broad-way or market, youths hid themselves in awe and the gray-headed rose standing up till he seated himself. Leading men or rulers abstained from speech and imposed on themselves respectful silence; those nobles or men of mark whose voices were wont to be heard, were hushed with tongue cleaving to the palate; so great the reverence that greeted Job's presence in their midst, with an influence all the more because it was unofficial.
Other testimony too did not fail: what distress had ever sought his help in vain? What tale of woe been slighted? What sight of wretchedness forgotten? And those relieved did not see or hear their benefactor unmoved, if his left hand knew not what his right had done. God does not let die the memory of unselfish goodness; and the poor can render as true a witness to lovingkindness, as the rich to a greatness beyond, their own. And was not Job the deliverer of the poor, the orphan, the perishing, and the widow? Indeed this field of his beneficent, aye and righteous, activity was large. As he put on justice, so did it fit Job, and judgment became him like mantle and turban. Eyes was he to him that had none, and feet to the lame, and to the needy a father, refusing no pains to search out a cause unknown; nor was his just zeal less to be dreaded by evil-doers—so would he break the tusks of bad men, and pluck the prey from their teeth.
Assuredly, if ever mortal was entitled to look for a tranquil future from God and before men, it was the man of Uz. And he did say, “In [or with] my nest shall I expire and like the sand [or palm], multiply my days, my root open to the water, and the dew all night on my branch, my glory remaining with me, and my bow renewed in my hand.” For how could he ignore the weight attached to his words, the waiting and silence for it; the absence of rejoinder; the welcome reception of it, as thirsty land waits for rain, with open mouth as for the latter rain? His laugh was suited to dispel distrust, instead of their despondency darkening the light of his countenance. In short, Job was their cherished counselor in difficulty, sat as chief, dwelt like a king in the army or troop, and really was one that comforted the mourners. Such without a break had been his life of yore.

Notes on Matthew 16-17

Chapter 16. We arrive at that part of the Gospel where other ways of God, other manifestations of His character and of His glory, are substituted for Judaism. The kingdom and the form that it would take have been already revealed to us in chapter 13. However, though the form announced in the parables was to be new, the kingdom itself was in view since the time of John the Baptist, though it could not be established then, Jesus being rejected. Purposes of God, important in, very different respects, were to be accomplished through the death of the Lord. And although the judgment of Israel had been plainly declared, and the new condition of the kingdom depicted in the parables of chapter 13, the power and the patient grace of the Lord were manifested in the midst of the people, up to the close of chapter 15. But now all is terminated: the church and the kingdom of glory take the place of an Emmanuel Messiah in the midst of the people. The unbelief of the heads of the nation is manifested in their request for a sign from heaven; signs enough had been given. It was not genuine faith, and the Lord reproves them and goes away. They knew well enough how to observe the signs of the weather that was coming; how was it then that they did not see the far clearer signs of Israel's condition—signs which were precursors of the judgment of God? It was nothing but hypocrisy: they should only have the sign of Jonas; the death and the resurrection of Jesus bringing the judgment, the terrible punishment of the nation, as a natural and necessary consequence of the scornful rejection of their Messiah come in grace.
The disciples themselves participate, not in the want of sincerity, but at least in the want of intelligence, of the Jews. Their faith understood no more than that of the Jews did the power that had manifested itself daily before their eyes. Jesus was to find nowhere a heart that understood Him. This isolation is one of the most striking features of the ordinary life of the Savior, a Man of sorrows in this world. The Lord introduces what was going to be substituted for the kingdom in Israel by a question destined to bring out the doctrine of His person, the first foundation of everything recognized by faith. “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” This is the character assumed by the One in whom God was proving men according to His own thoughts and according to His counsels. The heir of all the glory which belonged to man according to the determinate counsel of God taking His place among men here below, and before God the representation of the race, a race then accepted by Him, although He associated Himself with all their miseries, the true heir and representative of the race alone perfect before God.
Psa. 8; 80:17, and Dan. 7 represent Him thus to us in the Old Testament according to the thoughts of God. Men, struck by His miracles and His walk, had their opinions; faith, through the revelation of God, acknowledges His person. Peter, answering the question addressed to all, proclaims this truth, the foundation of every hope, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It is worth while saying a word as to the character of the great apostle.
We know what was the burning ardor of this man, an ardor which placed him in difficulties from which his moral power could not succeed in extricating him and which even brought him, when God permitted it for his good, to deny his Savior and his Master. So far as he was sustained by human strength, this ardor was a continual snare; but under God's hand, when grace took hold of the vessel, he became the instrument of the most blessed activity. I find this instructive difference; human energy cannot sustain the trials of faith. It may bring us into circumstances where these trials are found, but the strength of man's will cannot make us triumph. If the power of God is there, we triumph over temptation; the flesh which has brought us into it cannot do so. Nevertheless God can make use of the vessel which He has formed; then the power of God is there to hold us up, sheltered from evil by His arms. Now what I desire to remark here is that God makes use of the vessel for His glory; whilst, when the vessel alone and the energy which is in it are at work, it fails in time of trial, and the energy, which God makes use of as an instrument, brings us, when it acts alone, into temptation, in which it cannot cause us to triumph. Sincerity and zeal in that case only cause us to fall because there is too much confidence in ourselves. Here it is the ardent confession of what the Father Himself had revealed to Peter. There are two parts in this confession—Jesus is the Christ, that is what the Jews denied. This was the first thing to be acknowledged in Jesus. He was the One who had been promised to the fathers and to Israel; but, further, He was of the fullness of that eternal Godhead, in which was the power of life; “the Son of the living God.” Resurrection was the proof of it in the very place where death had entered. Thus, at the commencement of the Epistle to the Romans, He is of the seed of David according to the flesh, and marked out Son of God in power by resurrection of the dead. The promises of God were thus not only accomplished in His person, but the person in whom they were accomplished was Son of God in a power of life which is in God only; not only Son of God born into this world according to Psa. 2—Nathaniel had acknowledged that—but Son of the living God as to His person. Up to that time this had not been acknowledged; the Father had revealed it to Peter, the Father in heaven had made known to him His Son upon earth.
At the same time the Lord also shows His authority by giving to Peter a name in accordance with the confession that he had just made, with the truth which (while establishing His divine person, His relationship with the Father, and that as a man) laid the firm foundation of what was above all promises, of what had never been promised of the new thing, the church of the living God. Against this power of life in the person of the Son, the might of Satan, who had the empire of death, could not prevail. It is not here the death and the resurrection of Jesus, or His work, and the proof by this power of life that He was the Son of God in power; it is the essential character of His person revealed by the Father to Simon Bar-jona. Christ also says something to Him. As the Father had revealed the true character of Jesus to Simon, Jesus also (it is thus that we must take the sentence) gave him a name and a position. His person as Son of the living God was the foundation of the church called to have its true place in heaven, for it is in this character that it is presented to us here. It is Christ who builds, and up to this day the building is not yet completed. What we have here is not what Paul speaks of in 1 Cor. 3. He, Paul, had laid the foundation of that house; others brought materials, each one on his own responsibility, so that wood, stubble, hay, were to be found in the building. That was what has been built under human responsibility upon the earth. What we have here is found again in 1 Peter 2:4, 5, where there is no human architect, but where living stones come and are builded together into a spiritual building. The same thing is found again in Eph. 2:20, 21. It is Christ who builds a spiritual house, and the power of Satan could not touch it. It is the assembly which Christ builds for heaven and for eternity.
But there was yet another thing. The Lord, Master of all, gives the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter. He receives from Christ authority to administer the kingdom upon earth, and whatever he might decree here below would be sanctioned. It is no question, remark well, of keys of the church; one does not build with keys. Further, although Simon may receive the name of Peter, a testimony to his personal faith, which linked him with the Rock, and an acknowledgment of the fact, that like a stone in its nature he belonged to the Rock; nevertheless here he does nothing at all, nor has he any authority, in the church. Christ Himself builds, “I will build my church.” No one else has any part in this. Peter himself acknowledges it in his epistle (1 Peter 2:4, 5), by an evident allusion to this passage; the living stones come to the “living Stone.” The administration of the kingdom of heaven is confided to him. The keys of that kingdom are confided to him. For, I repeat, no such thing exists as keys of the church. Christ builds it, that is all. Now one can see well in the Acts that Simon Peter was the chief instrument of God in the work; and no true Christian doubts that what he established by his apostolic authority, with the sanction of the Lord, is from heaven. We must further remark that the only succession in that authority is found in two or three gathered in the name of the Lord. (Matt. 18:17-20.) Christianity has accepted with strange facility the idea that there are keys for the church, an idea which is nowhere found in the word. Then, this error being once admitted, another was accepted, namely, that the church and the kingdom of heaven are the same thing, an idea also which has no foundation in the word. The passage that we are considering clearly shows that they are two distinct things. Christ does not build a kingdom, He is the king of it; whether as such He be either hidden or manifested. Further, a kingdom is neither a bride nor a body, as the church is, and the reader must remark, that since it is here Christ who builds, He certainly places none but true living stones in the house. At most there is a certain analogy in regard to historical limits and circumstances, with the house of which Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 3 in which were found hay and stubble, the building in that case being left to the responsibility of mall. What is positive is that in no case are the church and the kingdom the same thing. Further, to have confounded the church, which Christ alone builds, and which is not yet completed, with the house which Paul founded upon earth, is one of the origins of the Romish system, and of the high church, wherever it may be.
The church then, so far as built by Christ, is the kingdom of the heavens replacing the Christ coming to the Jewish people according to promise, and the disciples receive the peremptory command not to announce henceforth Jesus as the Christ. On the other side the Lord from that time begins to make known to them that He was to be rejected, to suffer and rise. Peter cannot receive such a declaration. We see here how one may receive from God a revelation of the truth and be found in a practical state below the effect of this truth on the life. Peter had been taught by God Himself touching a truth which necessarily brought on the cross. For this his flesh was not at all prepared; further he who had just been called blessed by the Savior is now denounced as doing the work and as having the thoughts of Satan. As a natural affection there was nothing to blame; but it was the mind of the flesh, not of God. It is a solemn thought for us that one may possess a truth as really taught of God and be opposed to the consequences which flow from it in the life. In this case the flesh is not judged according to the measure of the truth known, so that the divine effect of this truth should be produced in us. But the Lord, always perfect, puts Himself under the yoke of what was absolutely necessary to realize that which was worthy of God-redemption. The things which are in the world, its ease and its glory, are not of the Father. Man is carnal; Peter savored what was of man. It is terrible to see that it suffices to say the things which are of man to show what was evil and opposed to God. It is only the cross which is truly worthy of God. Christ always walked in obedience and in the love of the Father, which were fully manifested in Him. Also the earth was for Him a desert land, dry and without water. He savored always and perfectly the things which were of God; but this brought on the cross in this world. Also each of us who would enjoy the blessing of God must take up his cross and follow Christ. If one spares himself, one spares flesh; one loses Christ so much and finds oneself in opposition to God. He that loses his life for the love of Christ will have it with joy when all is according to God. The soul is not to satisfy vanity and carnal selfishness; it is gained forever in tasting the things of God: such is what the cross means in a world opposed to God in all that He is.
There is besides more than this moral fact; there are positive ways of God. If the Son of man is actually rejected by the world, as presenting perfectly the ways and the character of God in its midst, the time comes when God will make valid the lights of Him who was faithful, and when He will manifest it in the glory which is due and belongs to Him. The Son of man will come in the glory of His Father; not in the humiliation of the obedience in which His moral perfection was manifested, and in which, at His own cost, He perfectly glorified God, but (for He is Son of the living God) in the glory of His Father, and with His angels, then He will render to each according to His conduct.
This gives room for the manifestation of the kingdom such as it will be manifested when the Son of man will come in His glory. It is what the transfiguration meant as shown in chapter 17. Chapter 16 had replaced Israel and the Christ in Israel by the church and the kingdom of the heavens, by a Christ put to death and risen, basis of the establishment of God's counsels in divine righteousness, man being thus placed in a position entirely new.
Chapter 17 replaces the transitory system of the law and of the Christian in Israel by the kingdom of glory and by the order of things flowing from it. The mountain of transfiguration is not Horeb. It is no longer the first Adam put to the proof by a law, perfect role of what ought to be in this fallen world. It is the second Adam seen in the result of the trial He had undergone; He, the victorious Redeemer who could bring other men to the same glory; He the head of all, perfectly approved by the Father; a Man in whom He found all His good pleasure; His Son, His well-beloved seen in glory, and Moses and Elias with Him. And these two men represent the law and prophecy in its highest order, for Elijah was not a prophet at a time when the law of God was recognized. He was in the midst of apostate Israel, as Moses in the midst of a captive people. Elijah returned to Horeb to denounce this apostasy and the refusal of the testimony of God, whatever had been His patience; for in fact nothing was then left but the election of grace, and Elijah went up to heaven after having displayed his grief on Horeb. Elisha was the prophet of resurrection, having returned across the Jordan which Elijah had crossed to go up to heaven. People have wished to see in this the living changed and the dead raised, and I have no objection. In fact, these two classes will be with the Lord in the glory of the kingdom. Still I do not see that this is the chief object of the Spirit, but rather the putting aside of the law and the prophets, of the law and the patience of God towards Israel. They now give place to the Son Himself, to God's well-beloved, whilst they bear witness to Him.
Something is still left to be remarked. A bright cloud comes and envelopes them: it was the Shekinah of glory. The cloud had led Israel and filled the tabernacle with the glory of God, in such a way that the sacrificing priests could not stay there for their service: the word used here is the same as that used in the Septuagint when the cloud filled the tabernacle. It was in the cloud that Jehovah came to speak with Moses at the door of the tabernacle which he had set up outside the camp. Peter calls it “the excellent glory.” (2 Peter 1:17, 18.) What is presented to us here, however, is the glory of the kingdom in which Jesus is recognized by the Father as Son. The disciples do not enter into the cloud like Moses and Elias, as takes place, I suppose, in Luke 9:34. That is to say, the heavenly part, the Father's house, is not found in Matthew, the glory indeed is, and the Son come in glory with His own, but not the dwelling near the Father on high: here we are in relation with heaven, but not in heaven.
These words, “hear him,” present to us the voice of the Son as the only one which ought to be heard henceforth. Not that Moses and Elias had not preached the word of God, but the order of things which they represent is past; and the words of the Son revealing the Father are those which we have to listen to. The law and the prophets have given testimony to the Savior Himself, as it is said; but they addressed themselves to man in the flesh. Now it is the Son of man after death, raised and glorified: redemption being accomplished, the counsels of God in grace are revealed. The former witnesses disappear and Jesus remains alone: Son of God to whom the Father gives testimony, in whom the Father reveals Himself. Peter, like so many Christians, would have wished to mingle the three, but such is not the instruction of the Father. However, until Christ was raised, this new testimony had no place, nor cause of existence. (Ver. 9.)
The difficulty suggested by the opinion drawn from Malachi by the scribes, the last testimony given, (namely, that Elias was to come before the glorious day of the Lord) presents itself to the disciples. The Lord confirms this testimony and speaks of it as a thing which was to come to pass. He comes in the first place; the idea is true, and he will restore all things. The prophecy of Malachi shall be accomplished, but as Jesus came to suffer before His glory, so too there had come one to go before His face, and he had had to be rejected like Him whom He announced. Then the disciples understood that He spoke of John the Baptist, come before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elias. For what concerned the kingdom all in fact was only provisional. The king was there indeed, the Son of God Himself, but for a greater work even than establishing the kingdom: to save sinners and glorify God Himself by His death. To establish the kingdom He will return; but then all was prepared for faith to have its foundation, and for man to be without excuse; it was for that reason that the Lord could say, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come” (chap. 10:23), although He was there. However, His establishment as king has been deferred, the last half-week of Daniel still remains unaccomplished, and even the whole week, for unbelief; Christ is seated at the right hand of God till His enemies be set as the footstool of His feet, having by Himself purified our sins, gathering, as we know, His co-heirs according to the counsels of God, co-heirs given to Him before the foundation of the world.
Afterward we find here, on our way, that which, without arresting the accomplishment of the counsels of God, made impossible all idea of the establishment on earth of His power, such as it was then manifesting itself. The disciples themselves did not know how to profit by the faith of this power to make it effectual; the power of Satan was in the world, whether directly or indirectly. The Lord was there to remove all the effect of this power and the consequences of sin. He had bound the strong man. A case of this power of evil presents itself to His disciples, and they cannot make use of the Lord's power to subdue it. It was then useless to continue to exercise this in the world if His disciples themselves did not know how to profit by it. And the Lord says, “How long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?” However, as long as the power is there, Jesus, unchangeable in His faithful goodness, exercises it in grace. “Bring thy son hither.” Great consolation for us! If the faith of all fails, the Lord's goodness never is lacking. We can count on His power and on His grace, as always sure and indefeasible till all is finished. However the want of faith in His own is the sign that the patience of God is on the point of finding no more room for its exercise; the power of evil brought the Lord to this point; the practical unbelief of His own drives Him away; it puts an end to these ways, in regard to which unbelief manifests itself.
Two great principles are laid down by the Lord in reply to the question of His disciples. First, faith can do everything, according to the willed action of God at the moment of its exercise; but to overcome the enemy where he shows his strength specially, a life of retirement is needed, which, in the consciousness of the strife in which we are engaged, refers to the presence of God, and places itself before Him in abasement of the flesh, and in entire confidence. This confidence displays itself in dependence on Him, owned in order to seek divine action. The Lord (ver. 22) returns to His instructions with regard to His rejection and His crucifixion. Delivered up to men, He must be put to death, and He must rise again. The disciples entirely ignorant of salvation are deeply pained by it, but at the end of the chapter the Lord places His disciples, at least Peter, and according to His grace all of us, in the same relation with His Father as that in which He was Himself, whilst at the same time manifesting the divinity of His person. It is one of the most torching expositions of what was about to happen through the change that His work would produce—the revelation of a position always true as to His person, true as to His relationships, having become man before God, but which was about to be demonstrated in a glorious manner by His resurrection. At the same time He introduces His own beforehand into His own position, now that He was about to give up the kingdom in Israel, as far as it belonged to Him there; not that He had just announced to His disciples His death and resurrection as necessary for introducing them into greater blessings than those which they enjoyed through His presence.
Peter wished that He should be considered a good Jew; when the tribute collectors asked Peter if his Master paid the didrachma (owing by the Jews for the service of the temple), the disciple answered, Yes. When Peter returns, the Lord anticipates him, knowing, without having been there, all that had passed. He asks him if it is from their children or from strangers that the kings of the earth take tribute or taxes. Peter answers, From strangers. “Then,” said the Lord, “the children are free.” He and Peter, children of the great king of the temple, were not liable to pay; but, adds the Lord, “that we may not offend them, go thou to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up, and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a stater [two didrachmas].” Then the One who not only knows everything, but who disposes of creation with equal power and knowledge, places Peter afresh in the same position as Himself: “That take and give unto them for Me and thee.” Peter therefore is also a son of the great king of the temple. At the same moment in which the Lord shows that He knows everything divinely, and that He disposes of everything as Master of the creation, He places Peter in the same relationship as Himself with Jehovah. He submits to the prescription of Judaism in order not to stumble the Jews. But He and Peter are really exempt, as sons of the great king. What perfect grace! At the very moment in which He must give up His relationship with the unfaithful people, He introduces those who follow Him into a far more intimate relationship with the God of Israel, and at the same time with Himself. He is Son, being man, and His own are with Him in the same blessed relationship.

Notes on John 13:6-11

The Lord proceeds to the work in hand. “He cometh then unto Simon Peter. He saith to him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said to him, what I am doing thou knowest not just now, but shalt know afterward. Peter saith to him, In no wise shalt thou wash my feet forever. He answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith to him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed [bathed] hath no need to wash [other] than his feet, but is wholly clean; and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew him that was delivering him up: on this account he said, Ye are not all clean.” (Vers. 6-11.)
In divine things the wisdom of the believer is subjection to Christ and confidence in Him. What He does, we are called to accept with thankfulness of heart, and as Mary said to the servants at the marriage feast, “whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” This Simon Peter did not. For when the Lord approached him “in the form of a servant,” or bondman, he demurred. Was there not faith, working by love in Peter's heart? Both undoubtedly, yet not then in action, but buried under superabundant feeling of a human sort: else he had not allowed his mind to question what the Lord saw fit to do. He had rather bowed to Christ's love and sought to learn, as He might teach, what deep need must be in him and his fellows to draw forth such a lowly yet requisite service from his Master. Ah! he knew not yet that Jesus must go lower down far than stooping to wash the disciples' feet, even to the death of the cross, if God were to be glorified and sinful man to be justified and delivered with an indisputable title. But the grace which was undertaking that infinite work of propitiation, the groundwork for meeting every exigency of the divine nature and majesty and righteousness in view of our guilt, and unto the glory of God, would provide for every step of the way where defilement abounds, that we might enjoy communion, spite of Satan's power and wiles and our own weakness, yea spite of failure be restored to communion with Him in the light and glory of God to which He was going back, and into which we shall in due time follow Him.
Peter did believe, but he did not yet believe “all that the prophets have spoken.” He feebly entered into what He Himself afterward called the sufferings as to Christ, and the glories that should follow them. He continued to regard the Lord too exclusively as Messiah, little estimating till afterward the depths involved in the Son of the living God, though his own lips had thus confessed His glory before. Nature was too little judged in Peter, so that he did not yet appreciate its meaning and application and results as subsequently under divine teaching when the cross manifested its worth or rather worthlessness before God and man. Too self-confident and indeed ignorant not only of himself and the defiling scene around, but of the depths and constancy of Christ's love, Peter says to Him, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” Granting that he could not know what was not yet revealed, but was it comely in him, was it reverent, to question what the Lord was doing? He may have thought it humility in himself, and honor to the Lord, to decline a service so menial at His hands. But Peter should never have forgotten that as Jesus never said a word, so He never did an act, save worthy of God and demonstrative of the Father; and now more than ever were His words and ways an exhibition of divine grace, as human evil set on by Satan, not only in those outside, but within the innermost circle of His own, called for increased distinctness and intensity.
The truth is that we need to learn from God how to honor Him, and learn to love according to His mind. And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. This too was Peter's mistake. He should have suspected his thoughts and waited in all submissiveness on Him who, as many confessed that knew far less than Peter, “hath done all things well,” and was absolutely what He was saying, truth and love in the same blessed person. The thoughts of man are never as ours; and saints slip into those of man, unless they are taught of God by faith, in detail too as well as in the main; for we cannot, ought not, to trust ourselves in anything. God the Father will have the Son honored; and He is honored most when believed in and followed in His humiliation. Peter therefore was equally astray when he once ventured to rebuke the Lord for speaking of His suffering and death, as now when he asks, “Dost Thou wash my feet?”
But the meek Lord answered in fullness of grace and said to him, “What I am doing thou knowest [οἶδας] not just now, but shalt know [γνώσῃ] afterward.” Was not this a grave but compassionate intimation to Peter, had he been in the mood to learn?
He ought to have gathered from the Lord's words, if he did not at once bow to His act, that there was a meaning worthy of Him who deemed it due to the Father in truest lowliest love to the children to wash their feet; he ought to have gathered more than this, that what he did not know of himself then, he was to learn afterward, I presume, after the things now in progress, His rejection an death, resurrection and ascension, when the Holy Spirit should be given guiding them into all the truth.
But Peter was not yet of those who are guided with the Lord's eye, he did not feel the need of being instructed and taught the way in which he should go. There was too much of the horse or of the mule in him, too much need of being held with bit and bridle; and, failing to receive of the Lord that he should submit now and learn later, he plunges farther and more boldly into error with himself. “In no wise shalt Thou wash my feet forever,” the strongest repudiation of it, and this not merely in this life but for that to come—forever.
It was feeling, it was ignorance, no doubt; but should he have trusted himself to utter words so strong of the gracious way and act of his Master! How blessed that he had, that we have, to do with One who does not hold His peace so as to bind the soul with a bond, who knows when and how to disallow the foolish and even God-dishonoring word, so that it shall not stand and the soul be forgiven! See Num. 30. The Lord made Peter's words utterly void the moment He heard them, as we shall see, in the grace which corrects every fault, and bore all our iniquity.
“Jesus answered, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” Solemn assurance, not for Peter only, but for all who slight the same gracious provision on His part, who forget or have never apprehended their own need of it. It is a question not so much of life as of fellowship, of a part with Christ, rather than in Him, though not really separable. Christ was going on high to God, Peter and the rest still on earth and surrounded by defilements in the way. Christ would neither abate His love to His own, nor would He make light of their, failures. Hence the need of washing the disciples' feet, apt to be soiled in walking through the world. And this is carried on by the word applied to the conscience by the Spirit. The believer bows, judges himself, and is practically cleansed. His communion is restored, and He can enjoy the things of Christ. He has part with Him.
Alarmed by the Lord's warning, His servant instantly flies to the opposite extreme: “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” Now Peter cannot have too much. He seeks to be bathed all over, as if all the value of his previous washing could evaporate, and he needed it afresh, no less than if it had never been. But it is never so. To see and enter the kingdom of God, one must be born afresh, born of water and of the Spirit. But this is never repeated. The new birth admits of no such repetition. It was wrong to suppose that, born of God, one needs nothing else, that defilements either cannot befall a believer, or that, if they do, they are of no consequence. What Simon thus thought in his ignorance, a certain school of divinity has formulated in its presumption. But this is not true knowledge of God. If law punishes transgression, grace condemns sin still more deeply. Impossible that any system of religious thought could be of God which slurs over or ignores evil. But Simon Peter convicted of danger on this side falls into another on that side, and, roused to own the needful washing to have part with Christ, claims it all even for the believer as for the natural man. And here too an opposite school presents its corresponding dogma, denies the standing of the believer if unhappily he be yet defiled, and insists that he must begin over again, perhaps many times in his life. Thus eternal life as a present possession in Christ is done away, and the constant responsibility which flows from the constant relationship of a child of God. One might be often lost, often saved spiritually!
The Lord corrects by anticipation both schools in correcting Peter. “He that is washed (λελουμένος) hath no need to wash (νίψασθαι) [other] than his feet, but is wholly clean; and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew him that was delivering him up: on this account he said, Ye are not all clean.” Thus simply, but perfectly does He put each truth in its place and in relation to the truth. Grace is maintained, but so is righteousness. Not a sin is passed over lightly. Not a believer has reason for discouragement; his every failure is an object of fresh concern to the Lord, a fresh proof of love that will not let him go, but bless him, spite of the carelessness which let the Lord go. But He will not go. He washes the feet of him that is already washed all over, that he may be wholly clean. Thus the new birth holds and is never renewed, because it abides true and good; while the failure of him who is born again comes under Christ's active love and advocacy, and the soul is brought to judge himself in order to restored communion. And the case of Judas is not one of losing life, but of manifesting that he never had been born of God, as indeed no scripture ever affirms it. It was not a sheep of Christ becoming unclean, but a dog returning to his vomit, yea far worse, because of such proximity to Him whose intimacy he abused to betray Him for lucre to His enemies.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Restorative grace, according to the character and power of life in Christ, is the key-note of this epistle, and that accompanied by the deepest exercise of the heart under the disciplinary ways of God. If the Corinthians had to learn in a manner suited to their state, the apostle too, far more profoundly, that he might be enabled fittingly to carry on and complete the gracious work of humbling and self-judgment begun in them by his first epistle. The Lord called him to pass through the severest personal trial and suffering in order the more effectively to serve and sympathize with them, now that their state interpreted by love admitted of unreserved affection and its free expression to them. The influence of all this, as we may see, is very considerable on the style of his second letter, which abounds in the most rapid transitions and abrupt allusions, as he tells out for their profit his own affliction, and the faithfulness of God, intermingling experience, doctrine, comfort, and warning, most intimately; yet so far from confusion that all helps on the great aim of bringing home the lessons of grace to the annihilation of self-confidence or glorying in man.
“Paul, apostle of Jesus Christ by God's will, and Timothy the brother to the assembly that is in Corinth, with all the saints that are in the whole of Achaia; grace to you and peace from God our Father and [our] Lord Jesus Christ.”
The opening words of the second epistle naturally resemble those of the first, yet with well defined marks of difference. There is no repetition here of his calling to the apostolate, nor is the assembly at Corinth qualified as sanctified in Christ Jesus, and saints by the analogous calling of God, which one cannot but judge intrinsically calculated and intended by grace to exercise their consciences in the then state of things in that city. Sosthenes was there graciously associated with the apostle, as one known to and probably of themselves, whom he could honor if they did not; as here we find Timothy from elsewhere, as to whose worthy reception by them the first epistle shows him solicitous. But in the first the apostle had joined the Corinthian church “with all that call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, both theirs and ours,” here “with all the saints that are in the whole of Achaia.” It is clear that the first gives a far wider extension than the second, and leaves room for a profession which might not be real, as indeed the apostle evidently feared as to the Corinthians themselves in both epistles, especially the first. But the direct force seems to be to embrace, in the express address, saints here or there in Achaia who might not be gathered into assemblies, or such as called on the Lord's name everywhere. As it was of moment that all these should know their heritage in the privileges given and revealed, and be kept from the snare of unbelief which denies their catholicity and continuance, so it was of moment that all the saints throughout Achaia should know and rejoice in the grace that had wrought restoratively in the Corinthian assembly, whatever might remain to be desired from the Lord. It was their common interest and profit for others as well as those immediately concerned. If one member suffer, all the members with it; and if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. In both Epistles he could not but wish them characterized by “grace” the spring and “peace” the effect of love above evil and need, flowing richly and freely “from God our Father and [our] Lord Jesus Christ,” the source and the channel of every blessing, but here again characterizing the desired grace and peace.
“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, that comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those that are in any tribulation through the comfort into which we are comforted ourselves by God, because even as the sufferings of the Christ abound toward us, so through the Christ aboundeth also our comfort. But, whether we are in tribulation, [it is] for your comfort and salvation, that worketh in endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer (and our hope [is] steadfast for you); or whether we are comforted, [it is] for your comfort and salvation, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also of the comfort.” (Vers. 3-7.)
How striking the difference as compared with the opening of the first epistle! There he thanked his God, not indeed for the spiritual state of the Corinthian saints—very far from it, whatever some might but most unintelligently have inferred—but for their rich endowments. Now he can bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the grace which turns to account all our tribulation, designating Him the Father of compassions, and the God of all comfort. And surely if one adore such a God, that adoration is enhanced when one thus comes in contact with a heart (once how far from it till purified by faith!) which could thus welcome any and every trouble, be it the sorest, comforted by God so as to comfort those that were in any conceivable trouble through the comfort with which He had already comforted itself. It is well to look at the operation of grace in a man of like passions, and not only in the fullness and perfection of all, even in Christ Himself. And certainly, if Paul was remarkable for an energy of loving labor beyond every other, he was yet more so for the variety and greatness of what he suffered for Christ's name. So here he can speak of what he had just proved afresh. The sufferings of the Christ abounded towards us, as he says; so through Him did our comfort, he adds. His faith laid hold of the Lord's way and end, and applied it to his own circumstances, and the working of grace in the face of all. As love never fails, so all things work together for good. And whether we are in tribulation, it is for your comfort and salvation. Love interprets boldly and liberally. He had heard enough to cheer his spirit: “whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort and salvation, that worketh in endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer.” Far other were the sufferings of the Corinthian saints from his own. But grace delights in sharing all it can; and faith gives the highest character to whatever it can discern to be of God. In this spirit the apostle seems here to regard the sufferings of the saints at Corinth, and to hope the best results, “Knowing that as ye are partakers of the suffering, so also of the comfort.”

Epistles of Paul

Roman, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians were not addressed to assemblies. Why? It is not only a chronological mark, though it be the last ones which do not speak of churches, which were addressed in the midst of his active ministry and moving among them.
When, as a wise master-builder, he had laid the foundation, he was still the immediate responsible caretaker of those he had founded. This public ministry was closed when he wrote to the Romans. He had never been there. It was not the case of a church he had founded. It is, before he went, an elaborate treatise on justification, and the position of the Jews as a people in reference to the “no difference” principle.
To the Philippians, though to a church he had founded, the epistle was a thank-sending for their love, showing also what walking in the Spirit really is, and its power. It is the experience of the individual in the power of the Spirit of God. It was no ordering of a church, but individual walk, and he a debtor to them for their care of him. It was therefore necessarily to the saints, not to the church, though their church order is specifically recognized.
We have still Ephesians and Colossians, the former the mystery, and, as supposed, a kind of circular, and of universal character, a thesis for all that could enter into it; and the latter (Colossians) life as it stood in the believer connected with the Head, whose fullness is largely brought out, as the doctrine of the body is unfolded in the Ephesians. The Holy Ghost shines out in Ephesians, life in Colossians, the last developed here, as contrasting in Ephesians between the old and the new man.
Philemon has a character of its own; it is to an individual, and the church in his house is added.
Thus it is Romans, and the three written in captivity in Rome, which are not to churches. It is another character of ministry. If this thought be just, we get two very distinct sets of epistles of Paul, his church ones, and his general or treatise ones, the personal ones being apart from both.

Fragment: God's Promises

God’s promises are precepts to Himself, binding on Him, and, as His to us, showing us what He is in Himself.

Fragment: The Spirit's Guiding in What We Say

What appears frankness is not always full openness. What is the Christian part? To say nothing unnecessary on principle; and then one is simple in both. Let the Spirit guide us in all we actually say.

The Gospel of God

In the opening verses of the epistle to the saints at Rome, the gospel is spoken of as God's gospel—God's power unto salvation. It is that in which the righteousness of God is revealed. All is of God; and we are told what the gospel is about, what it reveals, what its power, and on whom its marvelous blessings are conferred. God is the source of all our blessings, and all is made ours on the principle of faith. We observe that Paul was an apostle by calling, and separated unto the work of the gospel by the sovereign acting of the Holy Ghost. He tells us he had received grace. Those too, in Rome, to whom he wrote, were saints by calling, beloved of God, called of Jesus Christ. All these ways were entirely of grace, and completely opposed to the principle of law.
The real value and point of the glad tidings of God, however, can only be rightly estimated by the consideration of the alarming fact, stated in connection with these verses, that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness” (ver. 18), which shows that God's terrible judgment against all that is contrary to Himself is coming upon men from heaven. It is not a local or partial intervention of God's anger, but “against all ungodliness.” Divine wrath then is coming, and happy are those who like the Thessalonians can say they are “delivered from the wrath to come.” But let us not fail to notice, that wrath is revealed from heaven, not only against all that is hostile to God, but against all those who, while holding fast the letter of the truth, are practicing unrighteous ways. In the days of our Lord the Jews were the holders of the truth. All the truth of God known in the world was with them. The oracles of God had been committed unto them; but alas what grievous unrighteousness was among them, culminating in preferring a robber to Christ, and spitting upon and crucifying the Savior whom God had sent. In our day Christendom holds the truth—professes to be for Christ in contradistinction to Mahometanism, Judaism, and idolatry; but the prophetic delineation of the last days is being rapidly fulfilled, that men would be “covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers.... lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5.) What is this but holding the truth in unrighteousness? And on such may we not expect that the heaviest blow of the wrath of God will speedily fall? Are we not told that God will judicially send “men strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: because they received not the love of the truth, that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness?” (2 Thess. 2:11, 12.) However the solemn and arousing fact remains unmistakably clear that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.” It is in connection with this alarming warning that the glad tidings of God are sent forth.
Firstly, it is well to observe that the gospel is “the gospel of God” —God's message to man; a ministry that makes no demands on man, but communicates glad tidings, which can make him happy (sinner though he may be), and at rest in God's infinitely holy presence. In the gospel God speaks, and it becomes man to hearken. If a prophet in olden times said, “Hear and your soul shall live,” the blessed Master was wont to say, “He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, path everlasting life,” and an apostle could write that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
It was then “the gospel of God” that Paul preached; and these glad tidings he was ready to minister in Rome by the will of God. It appears that up to that time no apostle had visited Rome. The gospel had effectually reached souls in that city by other instrumentality. Many there had evidently received it as the word of God, inasmuch as their “faith was spoken of throughout the whole world.” But there seems to have been something wanting in them, as to their grounding in “the righteousness of God” —the prominent subject of the epistle—so that Paul expressed himself as ready to preach to them at Rome as well as to others. He opens the epistle, therefore, with the foundation principles of the gospel; first of all asserting that it is “the gospel of God;” not like the law which demanded righteous. ness and love from the creature, but God manifesting Himself in the activity of His own grace for man's eternal salvation and blessing.
Secondly, let us not fail to notice what the glad tidings of God are about. We are told they are “concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” Whatever may be its effects, its source is from God, and the subject of it the Son of God—David's Son and David's Lord—who was raised from the dead. The gospel of God then sets before us the person and work of His Son, who was essentially and eternally divine, and yet perfect man. And only such a Savior could meet our need, or answer the just claims of the Majesty on high.
To redeem us He must be a sinless, spotless, perfect Man, for, had there been the least flaw attachable to Him, He would have had to be judged for it, and therefore unfit to be a substitute for us. But, blessed be God, He was the “holy thing” as born of Mary; and after thirty years of trial and temptation in a path of sorrow and grief, the heavens opened over Him, and a voice from the excellent glory declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Beside this, because of His perfect spotlessness, the Holy Ghost came down and abode upon Him. This could not have been, had there been in Him the least taint of imperfection. When the Holy Ghost indwells in a believer now, it is in virtue of his having received remission of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus, for the Holy Ghost could not take up His abode in any one not cleansed from sin. The Holy Ghost then coming down and abiding on the Son of God, was another infallible proof of the perfect spotlessness of His person.
But while we needed a Savior who was perfect Man, that He might, as our Substitute, bear our sins in His own body on the tree, and be made sin for us, it was also necessary that He should be a person having such capacities and attributes, that He could bear God's eternal judgment of sin, and be able to satisfy all the demands of infinite holiness and righteousness. All this He could do because He was Son of God, and also Son of David—God and man—in His own Sacred person. By His one offering on the cross then He discharged all the claims of divine righteousness as to our sin and guilt, and in it glorified God. The “gospel of God,” therefore, must be concerning His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, and raised up from among the dead. Thus He was made somewhat inferior to angels on account of the suffering of death, in which He once for all so fully atoned for sin, that He was raised from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness, and was in this way declared to be the Son of God with power. The gospel is therefore concerning the person and the work of the Son of God.
Thirdly, in the gospel is revealed the righteousness of God on the principle of faith. “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (or, on the principle of faith unto faith), as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Ver. 17.) No doubt it was the gospel of the grace of God of which Paul testified; but we are told that in it is the righteousness of God revealed. We know that God in His acting cannot sacrifice righteousness to love, nor love to righteousness, but works all His counsels according to the unchanging character of His own nature. Thus He magnifies the law, vindicates all the claims of justice, and yet in richest grace justifies the ungodly who believe. Hence we read that “grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Chap. 5:21.) In the gospel then it is not righteousness demanded from man, not legal righteousness enforced, but God's righteousness revealed; not God requiring righteousness from man in the way of works, but God bringing righteousness to man suited to Himself on the principle of faith. It is then not human righteousness, not the righteousness of the law, but “the righteousness of God” which the gospel reveals. It is righteousness wholly apart from law. It is a righteousness suited to the nature of God, and we participate in it by faith. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” (Chap. 3:21, 22.) This scripture then speaks clearly of another righteousness than the one connected with law, and also that the law and the prophets gave testimony to it. Hence we find in the ceremonial law, as it is called, the burnt offering showed that the worshipper was accepted in its sweet savor— “It shall be accepted for him;” and the prophet Habakkuk, as we have quoted, declared that “the just shall live by faith,” showing that life and acceptance in another were contemplated by the law and the prophets, not on the principle of law-keeping, but on the principle of faith. David also, who lived under the law, wrote of the blessedness of the man unto whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works, saying, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Rom. 4:6-8.) Again, we find some hundreds of years before the law was given, that Abram was accounted righteous on the principle of faith. We read that “he believed in Jehovah, and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6.) Abel also, by his “more excellent sacrifice obtained witness that he was righteous;” and we find also, that “Noah became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” It is unquestionable then that a righteousness which was of God, and wholly apart from law, was reckoned to believers long before the law was given, that it was gloried in by the faithful who lived under the law, and that it is now revealed in the gospel toward all and upon all them that “believe on him who raised up Jesus our Lord from among the dead, who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:23-25.)
Another point which scripture brings before us is God's righteousness in forgiving the sins of those who believed before the, sacrifice of Christ. God, having now set forth Christ as a propitiation (mercy-seat) through faith in His blood, declares His righteousness in passing by the sins of Old Testament saints. His forbearance had been shown at the time, but now His righteousness in having done so is declared; for the atoning work of Christ, though then not accomplished, must have been always present to the eye of God. (See chap. 3:25, 26.)
And further, when Jesus was bearing our sins on the tree, we know that God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. There was unsparingly poured out upon Him all that, justice could inflict in the condemnation of sin. Though He was the righteous One, yet He endured all the righteous vengeance due to sin in His own self on the cross, and completely drained the cup of wrath, so that He could say, “It is finished.” Thus in His death the wages of sin was fully dealt out, for He died for our sins according to the scriptures. He died unto sin once. All the demands of righteousness were fully met, and peace was made. There righteousness and peace kissed each other. How then was it possible that He should be holden of death? The debt having been justly canceled, how could the prisoner be longer detained? The Savior having made a just atonement for our sins, and having satisfied divine justice and glorified God, was it not a righteous thing that He should be raised from among the dead? And having been raised according to the Spirit of holiness, was He not marked out Son of God in power? Having brought eternal glory to God in the stupendous work of the cross, was it not a righteous thing that He should be exalted and glorified? Hence we hear Him saying, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” (John 13:31, 32.) And again, “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:4, 5.) This demand we know was granted, and we are sure that He was righteously entitled to be glorified as Man. Hence we read elsewhere, “He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore [that is, on account of His so glorifying God in His death on the cross] God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:8-11.) Thus not only is the Man Christ Jesus righteously raised from the dead, exalted to the right hand of God, and has received a name that is above every name (there being made Lord and Christ), but He is righteously entitled to Lordship over heavenly, earthly, and infernal beings—universal dominion, not only by reason of His personal glory as the Son, but because of the infinite worth of the work of the cross. Hence, when He takes unto Himself His great power and reigns, He will do so as righteously entitled to it in virtue of His obedience to death, even the death of the cross. He will then judge both the living and the dead, and put all enemies under His feet; for to this end Christ hath died and risen again that He might rule over both dead and living.
But mere than this. It is because, in marvelous grace, Christ died for our sins under the righteous judgment of God that we have remission—that God can and does in righteousness forgive us. “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins;” for we have forgiveness through the blood. How could God in righteousness condemn our sins in the person of His own Son, and afterward condemn them on us? Impossible. The idea would accuse God of injustice. But, blessed be His name in virtue of the atoning work He justifies us— “Being now justified by his blood.” Is it not due to Christ, just to Him, when blood was shed for many for the remission of sins, that God should forgive us and manifest the full outflow of His love in justifying the believer from all things? This we know He does. O, how forcible and assuring are the words, “It is God that justifieth!” Instead of God condemning us, He now justifies us, and declares that He is “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Precious words of comfort!
And yet further, “He who knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him “ Christ Himself our righteousness. When the father fell upon the neck of the repentant prodigal, and imprinted on his cheek the kiss of love, he said to his servants, “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him.” It was the best robe. There could be nothing superior to it. It was the highest possible character of fitness for the father's presence. But the illustration fails to convoy the full blessedness of the righteousness, which every believer now is in Christ, for He is not only graced for the Father's presence, but his acceptance is in Another—the Beloved—so that we are become “the righteousness of God in him.” It is due to Christ, that in virtue of His God-glorifying work of obedience we should be accounted righteous in Him—the Lord our righteousness—according to the eternal purpose. God in His grace has therefore made Him to be unto us “righteousness,” and this on the principle of faith. We are not then ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish our own righteousness, but have gladly submitted ourselves unto the righteousness of God. Having found all our righteousness as filthy rags, and all hope of righteousness by law-keeping having come to an end, we are rejoiced to find that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Chap. 10:4.)
Thus “the righteousness of God” revealed in the gospel is presenting in widest contrast with “the righteousness of the law,” and is entirely apart from it. It flows to us from the sovereign love of God through the accomplished work of His Son, and is upon all them that believe. How sweet it is to know that Christ glorified is our righteousness, that through matchless grace we are the righteousness of God in Him. Christ then is our subsisting righteousness in God's presence. What rest of heart this gives! What boldness too in the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world! Who can condemn whom God justifies? How these truths melt our hearts, and draw us out in worship and thanksgiving! What comfort too they give in darkest circumstances! It is no marvel that so many have found the true expression of their souls in such lines as these—
“Without one thought that's good to plead,{br}O, what could shield me from despair?{br}But this: “Though I am vile indeed.{br}The Lord my righteousness is there.”
Fourthly, the gospel is God's power unto salvation. (Ver. 16.) We say, with reverence, that in no other way could God's power be put forth to save sinners, for apart from the accomplished work of the person of the Son, He can only judge sinners, and must be against sinners; but in the death and blood-shedding of Jesus God shows that He hates sin but loves sinners, and is able to save the worst of sinners. The apostle Paul therefore gloried in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and was not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes. It brings salvation to Jew and Gentile on the principle of faith, though in point of order it was preached to the Jew first.
Observe then that the gospel is preached for salvation, not to improve man in the flesh but to save him; not to help the efforts of nature religiously, but to bring him to God; for the obedience of faith not of all nations, but among all nations; it is not therefore preached to better the world, nor to convert the world, but it is the power of God unto salvation to individuals, to every one that believes. Now the power of God unto salvation is very specific in its meaning, a large expression; for while the freeness of the grace of God is shown in its blessing to every one that believes, fullness is set forth in not stopping short in its blessing of planting the saved one bodily in the presence of God in heavenly glory. We know that we are “called unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus,” and that “he suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 5:10; 3:18.) Not but that it is quite correct now to speak of believers as “saved,” for we have the salvation of our souls now by faith, as scripture says, “Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” But we wait for salvation in its full sense, “The redemption of our body,” “the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time,” when in spiritual bodies, suited to heavenly and eternal glory, and conformed to the image of the Son, we shall be in full possession and enjoyment of this great salvation.
The gospel then is the power of God unto salvation, because in the cross of Christ the foundation was laid in righteousness for its accomplishment, according to the eternal purpose and grace of God, to give life and righteousness in Christ Jesus to every one that believeth. We have therefore, by the power of God in the gospel, deliverance from the wrath to come, remission of sins, present possession of eternal life, justification by the blood of Christ, peace with God, sonship, the gift of the Holy Ghost, hope of glory and much more As the Father has made us fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light, we must wait for God's Son from heaven, for then we shall know the full power of God to us in this great salvation. Our hope then is glory. We do not hope for righteousness, for, as we have seen, the gospel reveals that Christ is our righteousness; but we hope for that to which righteousness established in the accomplished work of Jesus entitles us, even glory. “We, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” (Gal. 5:5.) “We look for the Savior who shall change this body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil. 3:20, 21.) Then “salvation” will be fully consummated; and in this sense we can say, “Now is our salvation nearer [not surer] than when we believed;” because, as time rolls on, it hastens the blissful period of our Lord's return. Well has an apostle called it, “this great salvation.” It will not then be only salvation from the guilt and dominion of sin, the salvation of the soul, and deliverance from the wrath to come; but salvation from this old creation and its belongings, from a body of frailty and infirmity, changed in a moment, and bodily translated into the presence of God and the Lamb forever. Then, in untreated light, we shall see His face; then we shall realize fully what we now apprehend so feebly, and sound forth so faintly, that “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” H. H. S.

John 1-3

John 1; 2 are complete in themselves. What Christ was (not relatively, however, but what He was), then what He became (σὰρξ ἐγένετο); then His work and operation, Lamb of God, and Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, and then John's gathering when He is owned as Messiah, and His gathering on earth (specially the remnant in Israel), then the guileless Nazarite, known under the fig-tree, that is, in Israel owning Him, according to Psa. 2, and the Lord assuring Him he should thenceforth see Him, according to Psa. 8, that is, as Son of man, with the highest creatures waiting on Him. Then comes the marriage (of Israel), and the water of purification turned into the wine of joy, and judgment purging His Father's house, His death and resurrection being the warrant for such acts of authority.
But this before His public ministry, which, though in Israel, was not in Judea, brings in the whole new ground of what was coming in. Reception by outward just human conclusions is of no avail; subjectively we must be born again, a new divine life (ἄνωθεν), even for the kingdom, to see or enter in, and Messiah rejected and crucified, the Son of man bringing in redemption and eternal life, association with what is heavenly, meeting man's necessity as Son of man, and revealing God's love as Son of God given, and this for the world, the wind blowing where it listed, though even for Israel's future earthly part in the blessings promised in the kingdom, the teacher of Israel might have known, e.g., from Ezek. 36 that this new state must be. Eternal life is connected with the cross, not with being born again, though it was the action of sovereign grace, and went out where God pleased, as the wind. But men were perishing, and now received eternal life, salvation, through the cross. He did not come into the world to judge it now, but to save it; but then came the responsibility and consequent judgment which hung on the believing on Him or not. This was from light coming into the world, and men loving darkness rather than light.
On the other hand, in the end we have the fall blessing in Him by faith. He is above all coming from heaven, tells what He has seen and heard, and now receives this new kind of knowledge. So verse 11. But His words are God's, the Spirit not being given by measure. Such is His place on earth. Further, as Son the Father loves Him, and has put all into His hand. The believer in Him bas everlasting life; the unbeliever shall not see life, but God's wrath abides on him. He is set up as God's testimony, with God's words from heaven whence He came, and besides, as the loved Son, the Father has put all things in His hand. Eternal life and wrath depend on His being believed in, or the contrary. The responsibility is light come into the world, but the full character of what is involved in His presence. (Vers. 31, 36.) Here we are far away beyond Judaism; even if the bride is taken as Judaism, though it be a generic idea. Chapter 4 begins the history of sovereign grace in a rejected Savior, neither at that mountain, nor at Jerusalem.

Deliverance: Part 1

Rom. 8:1-4.
The beginning of Rom. 8 is the full answer to the cry of wretchedness in chapter 7: “O wretched man that I am I who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” There are three great parts in the deliverance: first, the setting free of the soul at the commencement of its career; then practical freedom in its course; and, finally, ultimate deliverance for the body in resurrection at the coming of our Lord. What concerns souls pre-eminently, in the first instance, is that spiritual freedom, without which there can be no practical power, any more than in the service of the Lord, or in worship. Hence it is this first part of the deliverance that it will be my main business to dwell on at present. Not that the application to practice is not of the highest moment; but we should remember that practical freedom and power depend on this primary deliverance. Again, final deliverance must not be supposed to be forgotten; but that is a question of the Lord's intervention by-and-by, when there can be no possibility of a flaw. Now there may be first, failure, in appreciating the soul's deliverance, as in verse 2; and, secondly, in turning practical liberty to the Lord's account in walk. But when the Lord comes to quicken these mortal bodies—and they are called mortal in contradistinction from the soul—no failure will be possible. It was not necessary to call the soul immortal, because immortality is essentially bound up with its nature.
Let us, then, turn to a little consideration of the first grand truth, the setting free of the soul. And this remark may be made at the threshold, that the deliverance in question is quite distinct from quickening. Rom. 7 is the strongest possible proof of this; for we have, from verse 7 onward, exactly the experience of a man quickened, but not delivered. We see there a soul going through much painful exercise inwardly, ending in the cry, “O wretched man,” &c. It is not a careless or unawakened person, but neither is it one delivered. There are two errors to be avoided here, over-rating and under-estimating the condition of the case in Rom. 7. These two mistakes carry away far the largest part of Christendom, and perhaps of real Christians. There are those who consider that the soul in this distress is unconverted; and one reason why they do so is, because in the progress of its exercises it says, “I am carnal.” But such an inference is unwarranted, and arises from confounding carnal with natural, which is ignorance of scripture. There are three classes, and not two only; there are natural, carnal, and spiritual men. Now Rom. 7 describes the intermediate class; the person there is neither natural nor spiritual. This is where the great mistake is made, and by none more than by the theologians. They confound a carnal with a natural man, supposing that “carnal” means one dead in trespasses and sins. But in 1 Corinthians this distinction is plainly drawn. In chapter 2 the apostle, speaking of the natural man, declares that he “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” In chapter 3 he takes up the other term, and distinctly tells the Corinthian believers that they were carnal; not, of course, natural, but “carnal.” They were believers, but in a wrong and low condition. They ought to have been, but were not, “spiritual.”
Thus every believer is not by any means a spiritual person. For this reason the apostle, in addressing the Galatians, says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.” He did not mean by this that every believer is a spiritual man, but, on the contrary, distinguishes certain believers more fitted than others for the delicate work of restoring a man who has slipped aside. And who are they? The men who know best the hateful evil of flesh, as well as what is of far deeper moment, the grace of God. These can therefore feel for souls ensnared and drawn away from the Lord. A carnal man knows God and himself so partially, that he is unfit for such work. He would err, either on the side of easy-going amiability, which would slip over sin, or in overwhelming harshness. The spiritual man, by grace, holds the balance even. He would condemn the wrong, but also meet the soul in a restorative grace.
This distinction appears everywhere. Among believers, who does not know some spiritual, with not a few carnal? As believers, they are no longer natural, but they are not therefore necessarily spiritual. Not that they have not the Spirit, but that they do not walk or judge in the Spirit. The possession of the Spirit does not necessarily make a man spiritual. The Corinthian saints clearly had the Spirit, but there was unjudged activity of the flesh in many. There is a shade of difference between the word, and the sense, I also think, in Rom. 7, compared with 1 Cor. 3, which does not call for notice now. It is only one letter, and the Authorized Version always translates both as “carnal.” Do not suppose that we are going into critical points now; but it surely is of interest and importance to apprehend the difference between being born of the Spirit, and having the Holy Ghost dwelling in me. A man may be born of the Spirit, and yet may require to have the Holy Ghost given to him. Now the word in Rom. 7 does not necessarily suppose that the Spirit is there, the word in Corinthians does. However this may be, we may now turn to the fundamental Christian truth of present deliverance.
In Rom. 7 a struggle is described, and fully argued out; but this conflict supposes life. While a man is dead in trespasses and sins, there is no such conflict. Mark the language of this soul. He has a hatred of evil, and yet falls into it; he loves what is good, and yet fails in doing it. It is a state, not of natural wickedness, but of spiritual powerlessness. At Corinth the fleshly activity of the intellect overruled the mind of the Spirit in too many saints. Here it was a dead weight of evil within, that always dragged him down when he wanted to do the will of God. He is like a person in a quagmire, not drowned, but sunk deeply, and struggling; yet as soon as he gets one leg out, the other is more deeply in. And so his state is most miserable. This increases, though with growing discernment of himself, until he turns to Christ. It is not a man who has not seen Christ, but one who, looking to Him, thought it was enough for all need, and never expected to find, as a believer, evil continually within him. He wakes up at length to the humbling fact that there is this constant inward evil ever seeking to break out, and that having the blood of Jesus for his forgiveness does not fully deal with the ease. It is a question, not of pardon only, but of deliverance. “wretched man that I am I who shall deliver me?” He has life, and the law has probed him as born of God, and killed him in conscience. It is far from true that he is dead in trespasses and sins; but an awakened conscience has given the law killing power, and he is slain in the conviction of sin, which he had not been if an unconverted man. The unconverted knows nothing of this inward exercise and soul trouble. Here I am obliged to part from my Arminian friends, who generally regard this latter part of Rom. 7 as a description of the natural man. “I am carnal,” says the apostle. They are wrong.
But on the other side are those who tell you that this is a description of a spiritual man in as blessed a state as he over can expect here. The apostle, they argue, says, “I,” and from this they infer that he means himself personally, and, moreover, in his then spiritual state. Just as if we did not often see the apostle using the first person singular to put a case. Nothing is more common, even in the language of every-day life. You hear a person who is unmarried say, “I as a husband,” or “I as a father,” would do so and so. The speaker does not assert that he is either, but merely uses himself as an illustration. In his First Epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle speaks of transferring to himself and to Apollos a case which really was meant to apply to others. But we have the beat reason for saying that this mast be the case in Rom. 7. The same epistle goes on to say in continuous argument, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” He could not be spiritually both a slave, “sold under sin,” and made free at the same time.
Therefore it is clear that the latter part of Rom. 7 does not describe the state of the apostle himself at the time; and the Calvinistic view, that the condition of soul there exhibited is the normal state of the Christian, is just as great an error as the Arminian notion that it is the description of an unconverted soul. The fact is, that both Calvinists and Arminians confound the carnal with the natural man. They have not seen the distinction that scripture makes. Appeal to any of their writings you please. Though acquainted with their best writers at different times, I believe that, without a single exception on either side of the controversy, they both confound the carnal and the natural man. I do not say this in any way as a reproach, but for the purpose of our learning the truth more fully and exactly. To omit this distinction obscures the whole subject.
It confounds things that differ, and you never can mistake scripture without being involved in serious consequences. The natural man and the spiritual man do not comprehend all possible conditions of soul. There is the natural man who has not Christ at all, the carnal man who has Christ, but is not yet delivered from himself—there is such a thing possible in believers—and the spiritual man. In the intermediate condition, as I may call it, there is always a craving after that deliverance which is not possessed. It was this that led to the movement, which we all remember, a few years ago regarding what was called” the higher life,” and “holiness by faith.” All that was just a yearning after deliverance. Now I shall endeavor to show that we need only what is in the Bible, not new views. We want rather to be delivered from speculations, and to be more deeply grounded in the imperishable truth of scripture.
The experience of the soul is a valuable thing, and that the state described in Rom. 7 is one of no little moment to pass through. No soul ever values freedom, without having known something of bondage. And I very much question whether those that slip over this seventh chapter ever really know what it is to get into the eighth. In the proper experience of every believer there is a most seasonable breaking down of self, which is the consequence of measuring ourselves before God. We have to learn a grave and important lesson from God in this way, and it cannot be learned by a mere effort of the mind, nor is it without practical working in the soul. Here we have the process followed out in detail. The apostle takes up the case, supposing a person who was quickened but who had not fully learned himself. How is this necessary lesson learned? He tries to do what he knows he should and what he desires, but he breaks down; he tries again, and breaks down again. He betakes himself, of course, to prayer and reading; he tries to better himself by fasting and other forms of self-denial; in short, everything is tried except the one and only right way. He has not yet learned this—to abandon himself, and rest in another. No doubt he himself is proved and discovered. God has not let him try all these ways of his own without profit. He gets humbled about himself as a saint, learns to distrust himself, even as a converted man, and is thus fitted to receive more and more from God of the value of Christ. The truth is, that the effect of sin is far deeper than men suppose. Life and forgiveness are not all that is wanted. Both are given in the gospel: but besides there is present deliverance. And this deliverance comes after there has been practical proof, not merely that we are sinners, but that we are without strength, which is a deeper thing. Here the soul is brought to the pass; “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?” He looks out of himself; there was the turning-point. He had looked to. the Lord to find life and forgiveness; but when he had Christ, he thought, “Surely I shall be able to soon now happily glorifying the Lord.” He finds out his weakness, he struggles and strives, but finds it out more and more. At last he looks about himself, and not his past sins only, to Christ, and this is the consequence, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are In Christ Jesus.”
The first part here stated of this deliverance is, that grace puts us in a new place, or position, in which there can be nothing against us. At once we see the contrast with Adam. It was not merely that the first man fell, and that his children were sinners, but the whole thing is involved, and involves them in condemnation. In contrast, then, with fallen Adam stamping the fall on all his family, there is another, or second Man, and last Adam. What is His position? Risen and in glory. The apostle does not pursue all the consequences here, but particularly presses this, that Christ is dead and risen. He is not merely an expiatory sacrifice, but a dead and risen Savior. And thus He is applied to the condition of the man who believes in Him. Nothing so frees from claim as death. Have there been debts? Death cancels them. Claims? Death comes in, and dissolves their force. Do I deny, then, the responsibility of the Christian? The very reverse. But his responsibility is not that of a man naturally, which comes to an end in death (not his own, but Christ's, and the believer's with Him,) and where man ends, the Christian begins. The Christian, therefore, is baptized into Christ's death. It is thus a dead and risen Christ that characterizes Christianity. A living Christ was what the Jew wanted. They would have liked a mighty Messiah born in the world to lead them on to victory and supremacy. And this is very much what many Christians think and crave after. But it is not Christianity, which is founded on the death of Christ; and He is risen.
Therefore it is that the Christian now is not merely forgiven, but identified with a dead Christ; and the consequence is, he is dead to sin. Such is the argument of the apostle in Rom. 6. The Christian is likewise dead to the law. I know there are those who tell you that the law is dead, but they are quite wrong. The law, far from dead, is a living and killing power; and you must therefore pronounce death, not upon the law, but upon yourself. (See Gal. 2) God gives the believer in Christ to take the place of being dead, both to sin and to law: but is this all? Surely not; it is only negative. No, he is in Christ Jesus, the One risen from the dead. The Christ that the believer possesses is One who, after His death, not only for our sins but for sin itself, passed into resurrection life, and that, too, as a life-giving Spirit. Who receives this life? The Christian. As a believer in Christ, and submitting to God's righteousness, he has received new life and the Spirit, and consequently his position is in Christ Jesus. Therefore he partakes of all that Christ is, as risen. All His blessedness—not speaking of Him as a divine Person, the eternal Son of God, but as Man risen from the dead—now attaches to every believer in Him. And for this reason it is that the apostle says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” You might as well talk of condemning Christ as of condemning the Christian. Since Adam's fall, the curse rested on him and on all his seed. So now, since His death and resurrection, the favor of God rests just as thoroughly on Christ and all who are His. For in point of fact they are in Christ as men naturally are said to be in Adam. No doubt it is a mystical way of speaking, but it is a real thing. The expression is a figure, but the fact is certain. Are the effects of connection with Christ less real than of connection with Adam?
What a blighting thing is the unbelief that perverts and distorts, or destroys, the force of such deep realities! Do you say they are not facts? Are the only facts things that you can see and feel? Are you a positivist? Is there nothing real but sin and misery? Is God nothing? or are you as unbelieving, or worse, than a Jew or a heathen? Is not Christ as real as Adam? I admit the reality of sin. Alas, we know it too well! We know it even as natural men, and we felt it even when we were carnal—if indeed we are spiritual now. Let us search and see how far our souls have passed out of human thoughts, for this is carnality in a Christian. The Corinthians were in that state; they allowed the thoughts of men to sway them. We are called, on the contrary, to enter into the revealed truth of God. We are said to “have the mind of Christ.” The Corinthians, as all Christians, had the title to this, but did not make it good; they had the ground, capacity, and power, but did not use what they had, through value for the world's wisdom—surely an important distinction, and a common danger.
Here, then, is the first clearing of the Christian position. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” It is not merely no condemnation for this or that—for particular acts or things—but no condemnation whatever; it is absolute. Were there no faults or blemishes? Too many and grave; but for what did Christ die? And Christ is risen, and there is no condemnation. Are you still afraid to rest in Him? Better not be distrustful of Him or the word of God; far better to believe it, and be afraid of ourselves. This is both wiser and humbler. I know there are many who read the word of God, and hesitate to accept the clear and absolute language of scripture. But we ought, in this respect at least, to be calm and confident. Remember that I am not now resting on an isolated bit of scripture, though a single text is stabler than heaven and earth; I refer to what is the very back-bone and substance of this epistle. I am not pressing you with a mere fragment of scripture, torn out of its place and context. I leave that to others; and there are plenty who preach thus on scraps. Beyond controversy, the apostle is sheaving that believers have an entirely new position in the dead and risen Christ. They are as truly partakers of the acceptance in which He stands risen from the dead, as men naturally inherit the condemnation of the first man. No condemnation can any longer touch His person who secures the Christian. We are in Christ.

Notes on Job 30

Now Job sets forth the misery and degradation to which he had been suddenly reduced. And, first, he dwells on the disdain which was his portion, not from the high and haughty, but from the most wretched and despicable of men. None was so low that he could not regard Job with derision and scorn. It would be hard to find such a picture of utter baseness in the habits of men; yet was there no expression of malicious contempt which he had not to endure from these loathsome objects, who set on him, not only with their vulgar ribaldry, but with the coarsest of practical jokes and rude indecorums, which utterly unnerved him. But then a deeper and more constant sorrow oppressed him, for he could not shut out from himself the harrowing conviction that his ceaseless sufferings in the body were from the hand of God, from whom he might have looked for compassion. Whereas now he could not but abandon all hope of relief or deliverance from above, any more than of the commonest sympathy from men ordinarily quick enough to feel for the misery of their fellows.
And now at me they laugh, younger in days than I,
Whose fathers I had disdained to set with the dogs of my flock!
Even the strength of their hands, what [was] it to me?
In them the prime was lost through want and hunger,
Who yesterday were gnawing the desert, the waste, and the wild,
Plucking saltwort in the jungles, roots of broom their food.
At them, driven out of the midst, they hooted, as at a thief,
To dwell in the horror of glens, in dens of the earth, and in rocks.
Among the bushes they brayed, under the nettles huddled,
Sons of folly, sons of no-name, who were whipped out of the land.
And now I am become their song, and I am their bye-word;
Abhorring me, they get far from me,
And even refrain not from spitting in my face.
For He hath loosed my cord, and humbled me,
And they have cast away the bridle before my face.
On the right riseth up a brood; they push aside my feet,
And cast up against me their destructive ways;
They tear up my path, helping on my downfall;
They have no helper; they come as [through] a wide breach,
Under the ruin they roll onward.
Terrors turn on me; they pursue like a storm my dignity,
And my prosperity like a cloud is gone.
And now my soul poureth itself out upon me;
Days of suffering hold me fast;
The night pierceth my bones, and my gnawers rest not.
With great violence is my clothing changed;
It girdeth me as the collar of my vest.
He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become as dust and ashes.
I cry to Thee, but Thou dost not answer me;
I stand, and Thou dost look fixedly at me.
Thou art changed to a cruel one towards me,
With the strength of Thy hand Thou warrest against me.
Raising me on the wind, Thou makest me borne off,
And in my very substance dissolved me.
And I know that Thou art bringing me to death,
And to the house of assembly for all living.
Surely there is no prayer when He putteth forth the hand,
Though they cry out, in His destroying.
For have I not wept over one whose day is hard?
Was not my soul sad over the needy?
Yet when I looked for good, evil came,
And when I waited for light, darkness came.
My bowels are made to boil, and are not silent;
Days of affliction have overtaken me.
I am going as blackened without the sun;
I stand up in the assembly, I cry out.
Of jackals am I become brother, and companion of ostriches.
My skin of me is black, and my bones are burned with heat,
And my harp is turned to wailing, and my pipe to the voice of weepers.
The acute feelings of the eastern grandee come out vividly in this resumption of complaint. His sensitiveness was in no way impaired by his astonishing reverses, and his deep and varied sufferings, but, on the contrary, as one might expect, quickened thereby to the highest degree. Thus he does not merely speak of the cruel age of mockery he had to endure from a crew of youths, incapable of appreciating worth, or of feeling for others in trouble, but breaking forth into shameless mirth over his unparalleled misery. He looks at the antecedents and belongings of these his juniors, who spared no unseasonable and unfeeling jibe that could wound to the quick, and cannot but express the reflection that he would have disdained to rank even their fathers with the doge of his flock. Even for physical strength they were worthless, their prime being perished through want and hunger. What else could be expected from such as had been till now gnawing what they could find hi the desert? and this not where bright spots smiled, but where was unrelieved waste and wild, plucking saltwort, when they could find it, in the jungles, and finding food, wretched as it was, in roots of broom or, juniper. How sad to think of such degradation for members of the human race even in those early days! Such social outcasts, with whom we commonly connect the overthronged dens of infamy and crime in some great city, were not wanting then behind the scenes of desert life. At them, says Job, driven out of the midst, men hooted as at a thief, compelled to find a dwelling in horrible glens, in dens of the earth, and hollow rocks. Among the bushes, they could hardly be said to speak; but brayed, he adds, under the nettles they herded, after some beastly sort, sons of folly, and, obscure for a name, notorious for vice and its surrounding punishment.
And now Job was become their song and their bye-word. Even such as those, wretched troglodytes, if not worse, from their origin, dared to turn him into merriment and spiteful outrage. In their abhorrence they would retire far away, or, if they drew near, it was to pour on him the lowest mark of ignominious contempt. But Job could see that God's hand was behind all the humiliation to which he was subjected. The Keri gives “my,” that is, Job's, cord; the Kethib, “His,” that is, God's, which Ewald interprets as a bowstring, Conant as a rein. The sense seems to be the letting loose of trouble end persecutions. They took their stand as bearing witness against the sufferer as the right (see Psa. 109:8; 1), as has been noticed by others. Thus was he deprived of firm ground to stand on; so that he could only compare himself to some place exposed to all the ways. and means of a siege and assault, the tenor of his life being violently broken up, and they needing no help who helped to precipitate his ruin. For they poured in as through a wide breach, rolling onward under the crash of ruin; while a crowd of terrors turned on him, each chasing his dignity away like a hurricane, and his prosperity vanishing like vapor.
Hence he was utterly unnerved, and his soul dissolved, as it were, in sorrow, as days of suffering held him fast; and the night, which ordinarily affords a respite to the most wretched, aggravated his misery to the piercing of his bones, as if they were picked out from him, and the gnawers of his flesh not only began their work before the time, but this sleeplessly. Such was the condition of his body, that it was only by the utmost violence his clothing could be changed; it surrounded him as tightly as the collar of a close-fitting vest. What could he feel but that God had cast him into the mire of abasement, so as to become like dust and ashes? Job crying to Him, and He not answering; Job standing, and He gazing fixedly at him! for there seems no warrant for transporting the negative into the later clause. Job did not doubt God's contemplating all, which made His non-intervention the keener pang; and he ventured to say that He who had erst blessed him was now changing Himself into a being creel toward him, and making war on him with all His might, raising him up in a storm-car, and causing him to be borne away only the more thoroughly to dissolve his very being. So that he knew it was God bringing him 'to' death, and to the house where living men assemble at last.
Lastly, Job contrasts his own misery, thus without a hearing or alleviation from above, with his tenderness towards incomparably less troubles among his fellows, whereas, when he cried, worse followed: Yet what could exceed his inward feeling, or what the effect outwardly on his person, and this, not by natural or external causes, but by unheard-of blows and consuming disease, and by sad exercises worse than all? He had even cried out among men, and not to God only, and this so dolefully as to set him with brutes and birds notorious for their yells and screeches.

Notes on Matthew 18

The three chapters, 18,19, and 20, up to the end of verse 28, form a subdivision of our Gospel. They show us from the Savior Himself the principles that ought to characterize the disciples in the new order of things on which they were entering—principles of life and conduct, individual and collective. Nature, as far as established of God, is owned; but the state of the heart is sounded, grace and the cross characterizing all the new system. The first principles enjoined by God in the Christian order are humility and simplicity.
The disciples, as usual, wished to have a good position in the kingdom, each for himself, this time, however, more in relation with moral character, with qualities. The Lord's answer is limited to calling a child, and placing him in the midst of His disciples, as an example of the spirit which ought to characterize them: he who resembled that little child should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The child pretended to nothing, and passed for nothing in the eyes of the world. He who was nothing in his own eyes should, be great in God's eyes. Whoever should receive a little child in the name of Jesus had entered into His thought—into the estimate that He had of the world, and of the things that were in it. As to the principles of his conduct, he received Jesus Himself, acting upon the principles which governed Him. But, further, should there be in the child faith in Jesus, then, whoever should cause him to stumble in the way of the Lord, or should put an obstacle in the way, so that he should not follow Him, was fastening a millstone around his own neck to drown himself; and, worse still, there were stumbling-blocks in the world, but woe to him who should place them before the feet of others. The question between man and God was entirely laid down. They were either for or against Him. Neither was it any longer a question of a captivity in Babylon, of a governmental chastisement, however severe it might be, but of being finally cast into hell; it would be better to lose the best of one's members than to find oneself there.
But the special principle of the ways of God which were then being manifested was grace. The Son of man had come to save that which was lost—a testimony of immense range! It was no longer the accomplishment of the promises made to Israel, nor the Messiah, as Head of the kingdom, expected by that people, and reigning in their midst, but a Savior, Son of man, but of man lost without Him. Man was lost. The difference between the Jew and the Gentile disappeared before the total ruin which was common to them, and before the salvation which was coming in His person. According to this spirit of grace, it was unsuitable to despise even the least important of human beings. Salvation was there, and the little child was of value in the eyes of God. God, who was giving His Son for the lost, took account of children. He took an interest in the happiness of men, and the child was not the least part of it. The work of Christ was available for them; He had come to save that which was lost. It is no question here of bearing the sins of the guilty, but of the general principle of the coming of the Savior. “Lost” speaks of our condition; “guilty,” of what we have done: we are all lost together, every one will give account of what he has done in the body. Judgment relates to this latter point; bearing the sins of many does also; but lost is the condition common to all. Now children under the benefit of the work of Christ are accepted of God; “their angels continually behold the face of my Father which is in heaven,” said the Lord: a comforting passage, which gives us the happy assurance that children
The Lord uses the image of the shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, as in the case of other sinners. It is a question here, not of bearing sins, but of saving the lost. As to the condition of man, all are together lost; children, as a condition before God, are the objects of His love; through the work of Christ they can see His face. The Lord does not go further than the fact of their position, through the work that He has done according to grace. Small, and despised by men (by the learned, great in their own eyes, but who are, after all, of this world), God set great value on them. They had not yet learned the spirit of the age: evil itself, in them, had not developed itself before the eyes of God: there was simplicity and trust, so that, as a condition, they were a model. Nevertheless the work of Christ is laid down as the foundation of all. It is not man in his pretensions, it is God in His grace, that we have before us.
The same principle of grace (ver. 15) applies to the Christian walk in regard to wrongs which may have been done to some one. Only what we have just been looking at spoke of what concerned the individual and sin before God. In what we are about to examine, we find our relations one with another, and along with that the assembly and discipline.
In what precedes we have seen what must characterize the individual and the counsel of the Lord with regard to the evil which would exist in the individual himself. We have seen that man ought to be like a little child, and that, having to do with God Himself in the light, evil should be intolerable to him. He must put it away at all cost. With others evil is not allowed, but the Christian must act in grace. He warns his brother, if the latter has done him a wrong, then takes two or three witnesses with him, in order that the facts may be confirmed, and that it may not be mere personal recrimination without proofs, if he does not yield to them. In this case the complainant will tell all to the assembly, and the witnesses are there; and if the one who has done the wrong does not listen to the assembly, the one who has suffered is free to regard him as a stranger to all common privileges. It is no question here of the discipline of the assembly. It may be that the one who has done the wrong deserves to be put out, but what the Lord regulates here is the conduct of the individual who has suffered the wrong. The first object is to gain the guilty brother. If one cannot do this, one must no longer act of one's own accord as judge of one's own cause. The facts must be confirmed, as well as the perverse will of the individual, by others who have no interest, in carrying their own views; then the assembly intervenes with its authority.
Here we are entirely upon new ground. It is not a question of Jehovah's patience in grace with His people on the earth, but of the conduct of those who have part in the new privileges which flow from the new position taken by the Son of man. Important principles are also brought out. Authority resides in the assembly, the authority to bind and to loose. The true apostolic succession is in the two or three met in the name of Jesus. It is not in individual successors, either of Peter or of the other apostles, but in the assembly, that is found the spiritual authority sanctioned by heaven. Let the wisdom of an apostle, if there is one, guide them; it is nonetheless the assembly which judges as a last resource. It is the assembly that must be listened to. In it is found judicial authority—the power of binding and of loosing, and the reason for this is given, namely, that, where two or three are met in the name of Christ, He Himself is there. The same principle applies to the requests one presents to God. Where two or three agree to ask a thing, it is granted. It is not individual will, nor a purely personal desire. The two or three being met in the name of Jesus, Jesus is there. The request is the fruit of a spiritual agreement, and God answers the request. The value of Christ and the thought of the Spirit are found there.
This position of the two or three, and the relationship in which grace has placed them in virtue of the name and presence of Jesus, is evidently of all importance. The privilege which was given to Peter to establish the kingdom upon earth, falls as a heritage to the two or three truly gathered to the name of Jesus. There, and there only, is the divine sanction put upon what is done on earth. God can no doubt sanction and guide an individual, but an individual has not the authority which is conferred upon the two or three thus gathered. The promise made to the prayer of the two or three thus gathered to the name of Jesus, and agreed as to what they wish to ask, is also infinitely precious. Thus placed, Christians dispose of the power of God. It is a question of the things to which the Spirit of God leads their thoughts by common agreement. Now, for a soul which is sincere, and which seeks only the will of God, to be assured of God's power being employed with that object is a great favor. In what a blessed manner this associates us with divine activity in love in the work that this love wishes to do on earth! The basis on which this favor is confirmed to us is equally precious. Jesus Himself is present where two or three ere gathered to His name. What encouragement! Now that He is in heaven, absent bodily, He is Himself present spiritually with those who trust in Him here below. What an immense privilege it is to feel that, until the Lord Jesus come to take us to Himself, we may count on His presence in our midst when we gather to His name!
The remainder of the chapter (ver. 21) presents to us the spirit in which a Christian must act with regard to the one who may have offended him. It is no longer a question here of the way traced higher up, if he refuse to acknowledge his wrong, but of the disposition of the Christian to forgive it him, even if he should often repeat it. The Christian should always forgive—should never get weary of showing grace towards the one that may have offended him, for a man might acknowledge his wrong, and yet repeat it. Ought this always to continue, and the Christian always to be ready to pardon? Yes, we must always act in grace. God has pardoned us much more. In Luke 18 the repentance of the one who has offended his brother is supposed. Here the principle is that forgiveness—such a case occurring—must always be granted. It is the Christian spirit which is established. I do not doubt, although the principle may be universally established as a Christian principle, that allusion is made here to what happened to the Jews. God, in His ways with the nation, having pardoned them the crucifixion of His Son, they would not have grace shown towards the Gentiles, and were placed in consequence under discipline, under punishment, until they shall have paid the last farthing. It is not a question of expiation, nor of an individual, but of the nation and of the government of God.

Notes on John 13:12-17

It is of capital moment to hold fast along with atonement the washing of water by the word. Else the blood of Christ is diverted from its true aim and effect before God, and practically used as the resource in case of failure. Let us hear Calvin as an influential witness of the error it involves, where he teaches from the word of reconciliation in 2 Cor. 5:20 (“Be reconciled to God"), that Paul is here addressing himself to believers, instead of illustrating the message of grace to the world. “He declares to them every day this embassy. Christ therefore did not suffer, merely that He might once expiate our sins, nor was the gospel appointed merely with a view to the pardon of those sins which we committed previously to baptism, but that, as we daily sin, so we might also by a daily remission be received by God into His favor. For this is a continued embassy, which must be assiduously sounded forth in the church till the end of the world; and the gospel cannot be preached unless remission of sins is promised. We have here an express and suitable declaration for refuting the impious trust of Papists, which calls upon us to seek the remission of sins after baptism from some other source than from the expiation that was effected through the death of Christ. Now this doctrine is commonly held in all the schools of Popery—that, after baptism we merit the remission of sins by penitence through the aid of the keys (Matt. 16:19)—as if baptism itself could confer this upon us without penitence. By the term penitence however, they mean satisfaction. But what does Paul say here? He calls us to go, not less after baptism than before it, to the one expiation made by Christ, that we may know that we always obtain it gratuitously. Further, all their prating as to the administration of the keys is to no purpose, inasmuch as they conceive of keys apart from the gospel, while they are nothing else than that testimony of a gratuitous reconciliation, which is made to us in the gospel.” (Comm. Epp. to the Cor. Calvin Soc. ii. 240, 241.) Clearly this teaching is erroneous, not only founded on a misapplication to saints of the gospel ministry to sinners, but consequently unsettling their reconciliation as a great finished fact. It is not true that the apostle declares this embassy to believers every day. He declares on the contrary that the work is done, and the worshippers once purged so as to have no longer any conscience of sins, that is, no question of imputing sins or errors, nor of God's judgment of them by-and-by. The error undermines or excludes the constant relationship of the Christian on the ground of peace made by the blood of Christ's cross, and present and permanent fitness for showing the justice of the saints in light. (Col. 1) The one offering of Christ does not merely once expiate our sins but has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified. The Romanist meets the need created by failure after baptism by penitence aided by the keys; the Protestant by fresh approach to the sacrifice of Christ, the one being as ignorant as the other of the washing of the defiled feet by the word in answer to the advocacy of Christ with the Father. The continued embassy is by the Lord's servants in proclaiming the gospel to the world. There is no such thing as God's receiving the believer by a daily remission into His favor. There may be the necessity of removing the uncleanness of flesh or spirit which hinders communion, but this supposes the groundwork of propitiation undisturbed and of the favor in which we stand. That the Christian requires to be reconciled afresh, that the call “be reconciled to God” goes out to failing believers proves that Calvin, able as he was and a saint himself, was ignorant even of the elementary and distinctive truth of the gospel, and opened the door to the opposed error of Arminianism which takes its stand more consistently on the same mistake, that the failing believer has to start afresh, as if eternal life had no meaning, and the blood of Christ lacked everlasting efficacy.
The truth puts everything in its place. The blood of Christ abides in its unchangeable value before God sacrificially and judicially; but the failing believer is inexcusable, and needs to wash his feet. The word must deal with him morally, producing self-judgment and confession; and the Lord looks to it in His ever watchful grace by taking up His cause in living love with the Father. The Spirit too has His own suited function in producing, not the joy of fellowship with Christ in the things of Christ, but grief and shame, pain and humiliation in recalling the man's own ways—haste, levity, pride, vanity, and perhaps corruption or violence; for of what is the flesh unjudged not capable? By that word of truth he was begotten of God, awakened to self-judgment in His sight; by the same word in each defilement judged day by day, making it so much the more painful because He reminds the soul of what Christ suffered for the sins which the flesh feels so light. But far from dissolving the relationship, it is the sense of inconsistency with it, and with the grace which at so much cost and sovereign grace withal conferred it on us, that most of all tries and humbles the erring one. Flesh would like exceedingly to have its way and indulge its pleasures, and the soul begin again; but God holds the believer to a relationship, which if real, is everlasting and makes every delinquency therefore to be so much the deeper sin, because it is against not conscience and righteousness only, but the richest grace God could show Christ. We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. There is no repetition of reconciliation any more than of the new birth. There is complete remission of sins through His blood, and hence no longer a sacrifice for sin. The one and only offering which could avail is made and accepted. But there is, whenever needful, a fresh application of water. And this ever deals with the soul. The word detects whilst it removes the defilement, applying the death of Christ thus to the man, as the blood dealt with the sins before God. Thus is the work carried on holily without weakening the sole foundation for a sinful man's peace as well as for His glory.
“When then he washed their feet and took his garments and reclined again, he said to them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me the Teacher and the Lord, and ye say well, for I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, wash your feet, ye also ought to wash. one another's feet; for I have given you an example, that even as I did to you, ye should also do. Verily, verily, I say to you, A bondman is not greater than his lord, nor yet an apostle greater than be that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (Vers. 12-17.)
Undoubtedly the humility of the Lord was beyond question in His washing the disciples' feet, and that He would have them cultivate it He had solemnly urged on them in the plainest terms, as we see in all the synoptic gospels. But then there is another and deeper instruction. It is the renewal of their defilements in walking through the world which is before His mind, now that He is about to leave them; and about this He would exercise their hearts by the question, “Know ye what I have done to you?” It is His way indeed to teach us afterward the good He has already done us; and as we grow up to Him in the truth we appreciate better what we understand but slightly at first. Grace teaches us, as well as acts on our behalf; and it is humbling to find out how little we have understood while its activity has never staid. But how good and strengthening it is to learn its ways and lessons
The Lord next enforces what He had done by appealing to the titles they habitually gave Him. “Ye call me the teacher and the Lord; and ye say well; for I am.” One to obey as well as to instruct, as could not but be where His personal glory is known. If He then stooped in love to wash their feet, what did they not owe one another? It is not only that we should serve the Lord in the gospel. By this shall all men know, He says, later on in this very chapter, that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Here however it is a definite call where we are apt most to fail to share His grace, in seeking the restoration of each other where failure has come in. On the one hand it needs faith and self-denial and divine affections. Indifference about it detects our own failure. But on the other hand the righteousness that censures another is as far as possible from washing the feet, resembling rather the scourge than the service of the towel and basin. And assuredly, if grace be needed to bear the washing, a far larger measure must be in action to wash the feet. Hence says the apostle, “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any fault, ye that are spiritual restore such an one in a spirit of meekness.” Where flesh was judged, love could act more powerfully and with deeper sense that all is of grace. Self is the greatest hindrance in dealing with another's trespass.
The service of love in every form is the mind which was in Christ. Hence He calls them here to weigh what they had first seen. “For I have given you an example that ye also should do even as I did to you. Verily, verily, I say to you, A bondman is not greater than his lord, nor an apostle greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” The Lord knew the end from the beginning, and how soon His ministry would degenerate into a worldly institution, and become a title of pride, instead of being a work of faith and labor of love. Hence the need for His solemn formula, as a standing witness to all His own so prone in a world of vain show and selfishness to forget His word and wander from His way. But there His warning abides, to decline His service in washing the feet of His own is to set oneself above the Lord and to claim a greater place than His who sends even an apostle. O for the blessedness of doing as well as knowing these things! It is the fellowship of His love in one of its most intimate forms; and love is of God, and everyone that loveth hath been begotten of God and knoweth God.

The Truth

Christ is the truth; the Father's word is the truth; the Spirit is the truth. The word is the perfect and divine revelation of God's thoughts from and of heaven (John 3:11, 12, 31, 32), but perfectly suited to man on earth as Christ, the living Word, was. Thus begotten by the word, by God's will, the new man lives by every word that proceedeth out of God's mouth, follows Christ, is led by the Spirit in the path through the world which the vulture's eye hath not seen. An act of obedience, for which he has perhaps but one word, is acceptable to the discovery of divine wisdom, not unrighteousness, but perhaps not righteousness, according to man, but a divine path in the desert where is no way. The spiritual man judges all, but is himself judged of none. The word of God abides in the young man. He that doeth His will abides forever. The anointing abides even in the babes, who shall abide in the Son and in the Father. With them is one Spirit. So Peter from Isa. 40, and the same prophet later, “With thee is continuance.” But here we have our abiding through the word abiding in us. The word and Spirit both abide, and in us; and so we abide in the Son and in the Father. So here, too, we abide in Christ, and do not sin. The abiding is applied to God and love in chapter 4.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 1:8-14

The apostle now refers to the afflicting circumstances into which God had been pleased to bring him, in order the more deeply to teach, not merely him, but the Corinthians, and indeed all saints, His ways. The process is painful, no doubt, the profit immense, to others, as well as the soul itself, and this to God's glory. How good is the God we adore!
“For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, as to our tribulation that came to pass in Asia, that we were excessively pressed beyond power, so as to despair even of our living. But we ourselves have had in ourselves the sentence of death, that we should not have our trust in ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and doth [or will] deliver, in whom we have hope that he will also yet deliver, ye also laboring together by supplication for us that from many persons the gift toward us may by many be matter of thanksgiving for us. For our boasting is this, the testimony of our conscience that in holiness and sincerity before God, not in carnal wisdom but in God's grace, we conducted ourselves in the world, and more abundantly towards you. For no other thing we write to you than what ye read, or even recognize, and I hope that ye will recognize unto the end, even as also ye recognized us in part that we are your boast, just as ye also are ours in the day of our Lord Jesus.” (Vers. 8-14.)
Thus does God prove Himself rich in mercy, and this, not in conferring objective favor only in Christ, but in rendering His tried ones superior to all trouble, not by exempting those He loves from suffering and sorrow, but by giving the faith that accepts all at His hands with confidence in His love. Here we see, not the Holy One of God, who suffered as He was tempted to the uttermost, sin apart, and on the cross knew not sin indeed, but what it was for God to make Him sin; here we see a man of like passions with ourselves, strengthened with might in the inner man, and the outer crushed in every way, yet out of the eater meat coming forth, and out of the strong sweetness. Nor is this all. But he had to do, as we too, with One who knows how to order the tribulation so that its fruit, in divine consolation, should come out just at the right moment for the saints that needed succor and comfort. The apostle's mouth is opened to the Corinthians; his heart, which had been repelled by their evil and hardness, has expanded. He can now speak freely of deliverance, that they too, humbled, if not humble, may hear and be glad, with him magnify the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, and exalt His name together. By the trouble that happened in proconsular Asia he had been pressed excessively beyond his power, so as to despair, as he says, even of living, but grace, as suits God always, wrought unfailingly. It was not by a providential intervention to screen the apostle from suffering, still less by a miracle which might confound the adversaries, but because he had abidingly the sentence of death in himself. This Job had not, and so his long struggle, as he writhed under his sorrows from without and within; to it, as far as could be, he was brought at the last before his deliverance and blessing came. The apostle bowed to it all along, and hence was above all that Satan could do, for he has no power beyond death, and was utterly baffled by the faith which accepted such a sentence, and this “in ourselves, that we should not have our trust in ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and doth, or will, deliver, in whom we have our hope that he will deliver.” It is the power of the resurrection brought into the present, so as not to shrink from, but to retain, the sentence of death in himself. If Abraham learned this in his last lesson of faith in Isaac (Heb. 11:17-19), the apostle declares that he had it in himself. Such was to him the power of life in Christ, not ascetically, so as to exalt self after all, but finding strength in faith, giving glory to God, the perfect and unlimited deliverer. But his unburdened heart brings them in also as laboring together by supplication on his behalf that the gift of grace towards him by many persons may be matters of thanksgiving from many on his behalf. Thus would he by grace bind together, at whatever cost to self, the hearts of saints in thanksgiving for him, once in danger of wanton and utter alienation through the levity which exposed them to Satan's wiles. How far from Christ is independence, whether personal or ecclesiastical!
Yet is there nothing good, loving, or holy without God, to whom conscience, as well as the heart, purified by faith, and free, ever refers. Therefore does the apostle next turn to the ground and proof of spiritual integrity, though he writes for their sakes rather than his own. “For our boasting is this, the testimony of our conscience that in (simplicity or rather) holiness and sincerity (literally of God, but in sense) before God, not in carnal wisdom, but in God's grace, we conducted ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you.” He could the more boldly ask and count on their prayers from the persuasion that he had a good conscience as to his general conversation in the world, as before God, and especially as towards themselves. (See Heb. 13) He did not seek to conciliate men to and for himself, but as bent on pleasing God, he did not doubt that a conscience cleared in them would acknowledge a conscience void of offense in himself. Activity of self blinds the person, and genders bitter thoughts, especially of the one whose course morally condemns others; if the eye be single, on the contrary, the whole body is full of light, and love flows freely. “For no other things we write to you than what ye (well know or) read, or even recognize, and I hope that ye will recognize unto the end, even as also ye recognized us in part that we are your boast, as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Now that self-judgment had begun to work in the saints at Corinth, they would not fail to see the folly of taxing him with inconstancy, whose life as a saint and servant of God had been one of unmovable firmness and unbending truth. There is much difference as to the force here of ἀναγινώσκετε. Elsewhere in the New Testament the meaning, beyond controversy; is to “read,” which very many hold to, like the Authorized translation; others, like Calvin, contend for “well know,” which is rarely, if ever, found, save in poets. It is a question between what they might gather from his presence in their midst, or from his epistle. But he writes with the calm confidence of one before God which fails not to tell on, the conscience of saints wherever they feel freely, apart from the heat and bias of party; and as he had ground to trust that they had thus recognized him in part at least, so also he hoped that they would to the end own that he was their boast, even as they were his in the day of our Lord Jesus. It was good for all to anticipate that day.

Deliverance: Part 2

Rom. 8:1-4
The apostle gives two conclusive reasons for this “For,” says he, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made me free from the law of sin and death.” Before saying more, perhaps one ought to explain why the last clause of the first verse is quite ignored. It is not scripture. The same clause is scripture in the fourth verse, but not in the first. It is as perfect and divine in the one case, as it is wrong and human in the other. But the monastic scribes who copied for us the writings of the apostle seemed to have thought the first verse as it stood meager, and rather dangerous too, and so did their best to improve and guard it by this addition. Was not this rationalistic? Rationalism does not mean conscience judging what is wrong, but man presuming to judge where he should believe and learn of God. Any attempt to mend the scriptures is about as bold and bad rationalism as can be. You may find it in a monk just as much as in a monkey-loving professor. No doubt the monks included many a rationalist of the middle ages; I leave you to judge who are such now. In the first verse there cannot be a question that the words referred to are a mere human accretion. Ask any one entitled to speak: Mill, Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, Tischendorf or Tregelles, will tell you that the clause is an interpolation. They rejected it, not because all, or any of them, liked the truth resulting from the true text, but because they were honest men, and competent scholars, and stuck to the best witnesses. In the Catholic Greek Testaments of Munich, 1847, and of Dublin, 1860, you will find the same thing; the clause is omitted, and quite correctly, spite of the Vulgate. So also Bishop Wordsworth and Dean Alford, in their editions of the Greek New Testament, omit it.
Do not mind what people say about, “peculiar views.” For that is just what I eschew, at least as much as they. I want to help souls more fully into the truth, which surely ought not to be “peculiar.” I call human views, old tradition or modern speculation, peculiar, if not wicked too. But I do not call it peculiar, and I hope you do not, to adhere uncompromisingly to the words of the Holy Spirit, and to seek the genuine, simple, and sure sense of God's word. The true form of the verse, then, is, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” The apostle so speaks without the smallest qualification. If you add, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” if you translate it more correctly as not “who,” but “if,” “when,” or “because they walk not,” &c., you bring in another idea—walking in the Spirit, not standing. It would amount then to this: that there is no condemnation to them if they walk in holiness. But this were to mix up the walk with the position, the effect of which is that you can never be sure of your position. All is plunged in uncertainty. Place in Christ and walk in the Spirit are two distinct things. I do not know what a man's position is by looking at his walk, for he may often shift and move. The walk is surely of the utmost importance. But the first verse of the chapter speaks only of position, and if you bring in walk there, the position is unsettled, and the truth is spoiled.
When you speak of walk, you bring in Christian responsibility (which I entirely admit); but if the apostle is teaching “no condemnation,” how can our conduct, our desert, our possible faults be introduced? Do not faults deserve to be censured? Whose walk is such as to claim “no condemnation?” If the walk is mixed up in the question, it is impossible for one over to know it. The word is thus made void, the apostolic comfort is also nullified, and people get to a religion of doubt, in consequence of this confusion. They find themselves on a quicksand instead of a rock, and miscall it Christianity, whereas it is so far a mere consecration of naturalism. The object of the verse is to show the rook on which God has placed His people.
Surely there is a walk that suits people placed in that position, and scripture furnishes abundant instruction as to it. But the first need is to know that I am placed by the grace of God where no condemnation can reach us. This gives solid peace, and becomes the means of power to the believer. Do we want to know the ground of it? The answer follows. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Mark the precision of the language. It is “the law of the Spirit of life,” meaning that fixed principle. Let others boast about the law of Moses; the apostle says, this is the law for me, a Christian. Has Moses delivered you? He could only condemn. “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.” This is the proper starting-point of the Christian, the soul set free. It is a place of deliverance that nobody ever had till Christ died and rose again. And it is a remarkable fact that our Lord acted on this truth on the very day He rose from the dead. He never did so before, coming into the midst of His disciples, He breathed on them the breath of His own resurrection-life. His own people were plunged into the deepest distress by His death on the tree; but He imparted to them life more abundantly than before His death. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” While He was here, He was no doubt the life of the believer; but risen from the dead, He gave life more abundantly.
It is familiarly known that some apply His in-breathing as if it meant inspiring the disciples to write the scriptures, as others take it to be power to work miracles, and so forth. The truth however is that it means neither one nor other, nor anything but what is said here: “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Therefore it was that He said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted,” &c. They were to go forth, as in Christ, in the power of the Spirit. They were to take Christ's place in this world; dead to law and sin, and alive from, yet among, the dead. The world outside is the place of death, not of life. The believer owns this, but thanks God that there are some living among the dead. And whence comes this life? From Christ risen—the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It was not a life breathed into any before He rose from the grave. If it had been before the cross, it would never suit a sinner to receive it, any more than God to give it; nor could it be a guarantee of deliverance. But when the Lord Jesus went down into the fight, the rule of that war was, that those who tarried with the stuff should share just as much in the spoils as He that went down to battle. Such was the law of David; and it is the way of a greater than David. He alone fought the fight; but we reap the full fruits of His victory. Grace has set me in this position, so that sin and death are no longer a law to me.
Sin is not a law, because I am no longer sold under and in bondage to sin; I am inexcusable if I do sin. There is no such necessity if I come under grace. If I fail in prayer and vigilance, I am sure to sin; but I ought never to be unwatchful, and so never to sin. No Christian should deny this. A Christian may sin, and a Christian does, if he is not walking in dependence on God. He is only kept so long as his life is practically one of faith. “The life that I now live in the flesh,” says the apostle, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Where one walks in the Spirit, the believer does not sin.
Sin, then, is not a law to the Christian, but what about death? Must not we all die? This is exactly what unbelief says—that we must all die. “Surely,” some untaught soul cries, “you have not the face to say that we are not all to die.” Men are so appointed, but not Christians. We shall not all sleep, but all be changed: I believe because God says it. “We shall not all sleep.” The moment Christ comes in bodily presence, not a Christian falls asleep; on the contrary, those asleep arise. We are changed without dying. I say therefore that death is not a law to the Christian. He is not doomed to die like a man naturally. It is quite true that death is the common portion of humanity, as such, but not of God's children. “It is appointed unto men once to die.” But, as said before, a Christian is not a mere man. He is already delivered, taken out of the lot of sin and death in which all mankind are naturally. We enter in Christ a supernatural state. Do you shrink from the supernatural? If you believe in Christ, the Son of God, you must accept its fullness, for surely He is so. And on all who are His He imprints His own incomparable blessedness, as He is their life and righteousness. I quite admit that we may die, just as we may sin. But I deny that either the one or the other is a necessity for the Christian. When life in the Spirit was given, there was power against sin, and when Christ comes, death shall disappear for all that are His. It is the effect of life in Christ, the life-giving Spirit. When my soul sees Him, my soul gets life; when my body sees Him, my body will be immortalized and transformed. Such is the Christian's portion, and he should enter by faith into the blessedness of Christ's triumph now. Consequently we are entitled to have peace, joy, power, and conscious victory now.
But along with it must be kept up the exercise of self-judgment; for if we are in Christ for no condemnation, Christ is in us for the continual detection of the flesh already condemned by God, that the walk should be truly in the Spirit. “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, and the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” As surely as Christ is ascended and the Holy Spirit now given, the two sides for the Christian are inseparable for privilege and responsibility. Even as our Lord said, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you;” and what God has joined, let not man put asunder.
This deliverance has a great deal to do with a man's being spiritual. One may doubt that a person can be truly spiritual, in the scriptural sense of the word, before he is delivered. Not that a delivered man will necessarily always walk as such, because we are liable to be off our guard, and turn aside. What may not a Christian be dragged into when he forgets the Lord? But certainly the consciousness of deliverance by Christ's death and resurrection is a weapon of great power. Like Goliath's sword in David's hand, none is like it. Nevertheless, one needs dependence, as much after being delivered as before.
Could God condemn the life that is in Christ? But this is the life the Christian has. Do you suppose Christ's grace shown in that act was limited to those who lived then? “Because I live, ye shall live also.” Was this true of the disciples alone? It was a sample of what He has done for and gives to every Christian. I speak not of walk, but of what is at the bottom of it, when I say it is life in Christ. In Adam I have the natural life, which is alas! depraved, proud or vain; willful and selfish. And where do I get the life that hates these and all evils alike? From faith in Christ. It is no credit to the receiver. It is all and solely of the grace that was in our Lord Jesus. The risen Savior has a family instinct with the same life that was and is in Himself. And the life is that, of One risen from the dead after all judgment was undergone. This last is the point the apostle adverts to next. “For, what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh.” (ver. 8.) God has already executed sentence of condemnation, not on us (else we should be lost forever), but on Christ. The cross of Christ was not merely blood-shedding as the final answer to the various sacrifices; the explanation, after long waiting, of why it was that God attached such importance to the offering of a bullock, a lamb, or a goat. Surely it was not with slain beasts that God was occupied. He was giving sensible signs of the One sacrifice—presentiments of His Son that was coming. He was setting plainly and distinctly before the eyes of a dull people that One who was to shed His blood for the sins of men.
But more than this: that One was to bear the judgment. There are two things appointed of God to men because of sin—death and judgment. Christ bore judgment as well as death; and the consequence is that the believer now receives a double blessing. Not merely has he life, in contrast with death, and pardon through that blood shed for the remission of the sins of many, but also deliverance in Him risen, and no condemnation, through the condemnation having fallen wholly on Christ. This the law could not do. It could condemn the sinner, and nothing else, because it was a good law. If it had been bad, it might have let off bad men. The law was therefore powerless to deliver; it condemned, and only could condemn, the guilty. Had this been all, we were hopelessly lost. But sinners were the very people that God intended to save by grace. In Christ He would save sinners, but condemn sin. The law could not deal with sin apart from the sinner. It dealt with a sinful man for his sins, and the end could only be death for him. But it could not execute judgment on the nature, any more than extricate the man himself. Whereas “God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin [that is, as a sin-offering] condemned sin in the flesh.” The Son was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, not in sinful flesh; else He must have suffered for Himself, and could be no unblemished victim for others. It was not in the likeness of flesh, but really in flesh, He came.
How guarded is scripture! How much better than any formula, even the so-called Athanasian! What a meager effort at symbol is the vulgarly styled Apostles' Creed! No wonder Whiston and other Arians could admire and use it. But the word of God is divine light to deal with man's heart and conscience.
Look, then, at the truth of Christ as presented here. God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin. He was the Holy One, and yet became a man—as truly man as He was God. He, ever Son of God, came in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was born of a sinful mother, so that none could have known, except by the revelation of God, that there was not the same state of humanity in Him as in her. It was a revelation, distinct and positive, that He was the Son of God incarnate, not the son of a human father. He was the Son of God and the Son of man as born of Mary, but certainly not Joseph's son, save legally. The Gospels, though some with more particularity, affirm distinctly, making it blasphemy to deny it, that He was Son of God in the supremest sense.
That Blessed One came “in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin.” Mark this last, for it means as a sin-offering. “For sin” is its technical expression in both Old and New Testaments. It was to deal with “sin,” not merely sins, that Christ was sent; to meet and remove that dead weight which, in Rom. 7, the believer discovered—to have the root, as well as fruit, wholly disposed of. The burden of all fell on Christ. Sin in the flesh God condemned in His cross. It is not pardon that is wanted for an evil nature, but condemnation. Pardon for sins one does want, but condemnation, unqualified judgment, of the nature that produced them. And in order that you or I should be saved, that condemnation must fall, not on us, but on the Savior. This is exactly what God has done. The condemnation of sin in the flesh, and by an offering for sin, fell on the only One who had no sin in Him. If there had been sin in Him, I say not done by Him, then condemnation must have fallen on Him for Himself. Such a falsification of His person was the peculiar and fatal error of Irvingism. In that system, in order to make the Lord Jesus sympathize with us as much as possible, He was made to have fallen humanity. It was taught that He had taken into union with the divine nature, not merely human nature, which is true, but fallen and peccable, which is a ruinous lie. If it had been so, Christ Could not have suffered for us, but for Himself. But being the Holy One of God, the only One in whom was no sin, He could suffer, not only for sins, but for sin. Consequently, in executing judgment on Him crucified, God condemned sin in the flesh.
And what was the moral end of it, as here shown us by the apostle “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Ver. 4.) Here comes in the walk of the Christian, in its proper order and only true plate. When the Christian's standing, by grace, in Christ is a settled fact, when consciously delivered, in a new life by the Spirit, when he knows his nature judged in the cross, then his walk according to the Spirit follows. And do you not know how, when you are not happy and free, everything goes wrong? You are tried with, this and that, vexed with circumstances and with other people, and, most of all, if you told all out, with yourself. Such is the condition of the soul in chapter vii. But now see here the efficacious excellence of what, God has wrought and gives in Christ, Not only are sins forgiven, but the evil of flesh is already dealt with in His death. So that one has not to wait for one's own death for deliverance. To faith the believer died with Christ, is alive in Him to God, and is therefore entitled to be no longer a self-tormentor because of the total ruin and corruption within. The old man is as surely condemned in the cross, as the sins of the believer are washed away by the blood of Christ. He submits to the humbling certainty that the nature is hopelessly evil, but accepts the blessed truth that it has been already condemned by God in Christ's death. No part of scripture, no rite of Judaism, ever taught that man's nature gets better; Christianity sets forth, even in baptism, that it is judged and set aside forever in Christ. It is only the fond fancy of a Brahminist, or of others hardly less dark in principle, this notion of improving the flesh. It is the religion of human nature all over the world. But any effort to deliver myself, as it begins, so can end, only in a religious imagination. It is by righteousness and in Christ, not by power, that victory comes over self. To trust oneself is not to be delivered, but only deluded. Whereas, in the sense of total weakness, and ruin, and evil, to rest on Christ dead and risen, is to find myself in Christ, and “no condemnation” my portion.
But we do well to mark the ground of “no condemnation.” First, God has given me a perfectly new life, the life of Christ risen from the dead; and this He cannot surely condemn. The life of Christ is the. Christian's life, to which no condemnation can attach. But what about my old and evil nature? God has already dealt with it, having executed sentence of death on it in the cross of Christ. Thus God gives the believer a new life, which cannot be condemned, and has condemned the old man, out and out, in Christ's death. Therefore now no condemnation falls on those that are in Christ Jesus. This is the truth for the soul to seize, a spring of confidence for going on with God (Rom. 7:7-23): a wholesome, but painful, discipline, a transition state, during which the soul, desiring what is good, because converted, learned its utter powerlessness, because it was under law, and did not yet submit to the sentence of death. Now it bows experimentally, and sees itself by faith delivered according to the import of Christ's death in His resurrection. Thenceforth all is clear as to present as well as past, as to what you are, no less than as to what you have done; and this, not at all because of what you were or are, but on account of Christ, whose death settled all questions for you, and in whom you now live—alive from the dead to God.
Hence the righteousness of the law, instead of being a claim against you, and so condemning you, is now fulfilled in you, which is more intimate than by you. Knowing God thus, you cannot but love Him; and, loving Him, you love your neighbor also, and even your enemy. By the grace of God you are able to rise above the evil to which you once succumbed. If the believer loves God and his neighbor, is not the righteousness of the law fulfilled in him? I do not admit such a thing as a Christian, in whom the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled. The grace of God has wrought this immense change. The vain or proud man, who made himself his center, but now a believer, and in Christ, has his heart drawn out in true love to God and love to his neighbor. And no wonder, when one is by grace so blessed! There is nothing that tends to practical holiness so much as being, not pardoned only, but made perfectly happy by and in divine love. One does not become holy first, and then happy, but if made happy, practical holiness follows. I speak now of what is wrought by God and His grace in the believer. But Christ is all—not only He dying for us, but we living in Him risen.
Thus, as we see, this subject has its practical side. Grace has wrought in Christ for us “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” It is carefully added afterward, that, though one be delivered, he may not always walk in the Spirit. He may yield to the flesh, and prove its bitter consequences. Who knows sorrow so humbling as that of the unfaithful Christian? His is not the same wretchedness as that of Rom. 7 but of a still deeper kind. What anguish, after such mercy and grace, after knowing such a God, to have forgotten and dishonored Him, grieved the Holy Spirit of God, and brought shame on the name of such a Savior! How exceeding sinful does sin then appear in my eyes, and what self-reproach for having yielded to it! Chapter 7 describes the exercises of one quickened, but not delivered in chapter 8 he is delivered, and consequently knows far deeper affections, nominally in good but it may be as to evil, if he sin.
There is thus and thenceforward the constant necessity of discerning between flesh and Spirit. The flesh is the old stock, but there is a new graft inserted. The old stock was nothing but a crab-tree, which, no matter how cultivated, would only bring forth Grabs. Its nature is not changed, but a good tree is grafted into it. Still, if the old stock is allowed to bear at all, its fruit is, and must be, bad. The point, then, is not to tolerate the least sprout of the old stock. Cultivate the new graft, and let it bear freely, but do not spare a single bud of the crab. This is just what we have to do with the old man—the flesh. Walk after the Spirit, and not after the flesh. They are contrary to each other, that ye may not do the things ye would, says Gal. 5 And this is practically carried out by applying the blessed truth, that I am entitled to reckon myself dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ. It is a part of what grace teaches, and enables me to hold fast, being, we have seen, involved in the declaration of baptism. Otherwise what means it? Is it merely the application of the blood of Christ that makes a Christian? Did not Christ come by water and blood? We are not baptized in water, not blood. We needed not only His death for us, but ours with Him. Faith in His blood gives remission of sins. But His death writes God's sentence on the flesh, treating it as a thing done with to faith. But Christ is risen, and we are in Him accepted according to His, acceptance. Is this what men present or believe? Is Christianity short of it?

Thoughts on the Atonement

The sacrifice of Christ was one and indivisible, but the doctrinal (like the practical) application of that sacrifice, as taught us in scripture, is another thing; that is, these are various. Thus, as to His death, “He died for our sins.” (1 Cor. 15:8.) But also, “In that he died, he died unto sin once.” (Rom. 6:10.)
Again, as to His blood, “He hath washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Rev. 1:5.) But we nowhere read that we are washed from sin in His blood. “Sin is lawlessness;” that is, it is a state or condition, and there is no such thing as being washed from a state or condition. The very state or condition is destroyed by death, and we are dead with Christ, as well as” quickened with him,” “raised with him,” &c.; though we did not die when He died, &c., for evidently we did not die before we were born. Hence, being dead with Christ, we have passed out of the old condition of sin, and being quickened and raised with Him, are as to our souls, in a new condition, namely, resurrection: we may add that in spirit we are ascended with Him. It is God who has done this. (Eph. 2:4-6.) And though it ever be divine power in the Son, there is a difference between “with” Christ, and what Christ Himself does. (John 5)
The death or blood of Christ has expiated the sins of those who believe in Him; but the obedience unto death of the Son of God—death too to Him, as expressing the divine wrath against both sin and sins—the death of Christ is now to believers complete deliverance, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. Hence practically, we are exhorted to mortify our members which are upon the earth, whilst as a matter of privilege, there is the “bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus.” (2 Cor. 4:10.)
In fact, sin is neither atoned for, nor forgiven, nor does sin properly come into question in the Old Testament, though birth in it is recognized in Psa. 51:5. When in Lev. 1 blood was shed, and atonement (propitiation) made, yet all is a sweet savor; that is, the condemnation side is not what is in view, but acceptance. God has indeed been glorified in the offering of Christ, where by sin He had been dishonored. It is as a περἰ ἁμαρτἰας that God condemned sin in the flesh in Christ for us; but a sinful condition in itself is not atoned for, but condemned (κατακρἰνω, to adjudge to punishment).
Christ having suffered the condemnation due to sin in the flesh, we are dead to sin (Rom. 6:2), in God's sight, and are called to “reckon ourselves dead to sin.” (Rom. 6:11.) Actual death to the believer destroys at a stroke and forever, sin in the flesh; but till then, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,” &c. (1 John 1:8), that is, we are dead to Him, but sin is not dead in us.
God, by visiting upon His own Son His abhorrence of sin (as lawlessness), the penalty due to the sins of His people, and the cost of the redemption of all things (for “he tasted death for everything"), has so vindicated the divine glory, that the death of Christ is our refuge from the condition of sin, and is the atonement (propitiation) for our sins, so that sins are forgiven. The result is, that we are already reconciled to God—brought into a state of harmony with His nature and will. We have “justification of life.” The word “atonement” occurs only once in the English New Testament, namely, Rom. 5:11, where it should be rendered “reconciliation.” It might be better always to use instead of it the word “propitiation,” as in 1 John 2:2; Heb. 2:17. So “to make propitiation for,” instead of “to atone for,” on what was called the “annual day of atonement,” the Lord's lot and the scape-goat formed together one sin-offering. Blood was presented to God, remission of sins was the result to the people, that is, propitiation and substitution. The Lord's lot was the ἀντίλυτρον, or ransom for all. (1 Tim. 2:6.) Such was the value of the blood of Christ; the application to individuals of the efficacy of that blood, represented by the scape-goat, was the λύτρον, or ransom for many. (Matt. 20:28.) This was, as it were, that part of the former which is made good to believers personally, in the remission of their sins.
J. B. P.
[It ought not to be overlooked that Christ's propitiation, as set forth in Jehovah's lot or the slain goat, did so deal with sin before God that God could go out in grace to the whole world (1 John 2:2). This was not for their sins as met in Azazel; else all would be pardoned. Yet no one holds that it was for sin in the flesh. And so in John 1:29, Heb. 9:26; it does not mean a sinful condition, or “the flesh” as in the Pauline teaching, but sin as a whole. The writer, I think, narrows too much the meaning of “sin.” So too, Jehovah's lot and the scape-goat from one offering for His people; but is it so for the whole world? Are their sins sent away to a land of forgetfulness? I trow not.-Ed.]

Righteousness and Peace: Part 1

Rom. 3:19-28; 4:23; 5:1-11
It is very blessed to preach the fullness of the grace of God, as we were seeking to present it last night—all things of God, all things ready, all finished; God's own precious grace flowing like a river, the river of the water of life, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, to a barren world, and for every thirsty soul. But I never yet found that a soul got really established in peace by hearing only of the Love of God. The riches of His grace must be unfolded, but also the absolute perfection of His righteousness, His righteousness in justifying the sinner. Until a soul gets thoroughly grounded in righteousness, if it knows only of the grace of God, it will fail to have settled peace. I will give you an illustration, which may help to put the matter more clearly before you. A young man was arrested in London for a grave offense (on a charge of forgery); and it so happened that his father was a friend of the Lord Mayor; so that, when the young man was brought into his presence as his judge, and saw the face of his father's friend, of one who had often nursed him on his knee, he was convulsed with emotion. When he saw the tears began to trickle down the Lord Mayor's face—tears of love and compassion—he covered his face with his handkerchief, and sobbed as if his heart would break. What was it made him weep? What added to the acuteness of his sufferings? The consciousness of the love that he knew was in the mayor's heart. But here was the difficulty; no amount of love on the part of the judge could justify that young man, for he was a criminal; and how could love justify a criminal, or make him feel at ease? Indeed the sense of love only made him more unhappy, only deepened the intensity of his sufferings as he stood there.
Now such exactly is the condition of many a soul that knows the love of God. The more you think of the love of God, the more intense is your suffering and self-condemnation. How can a criminal stand before a judge, and look for justification, when he is guilty? With man this is impossible; and it is far from easy to open up satisfactorily how God can justify a guilty person. It was a great difficulty in days of old, e.g., in Job's ease. Bildad asks (Job 25:4), “How can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” How can a sinner be justified with God? This is the point. Job's friends could have shown well enough how an innocent man can be justified with God; it would be an easy matter then; but he is guilty; and how then? The law will justify him who keeps it; and if there be one here who has kept it, I tell him “the law will justify you at once.” Law is extremely profitable for you in that case; but if you break it, what can it do for you? And where is the person who has not broken it? Show me the man, and Job's friends would justify him at once; but they could not justify the guilty. If your little girl did something naughty (stole a piece of sugar, say,) her mother could not justify her, though she be her mother; and suppose she grew up to be a thief, her mother could say and do nothing to justify. There is a lady who belongs to one of the highest families, not only of England but of Europe, who from a child sank step by step into the deepest degradation, and may now be found haunting the lowest gambling places of the continent. Could her mother justify her, however her heart might bleed for her? Of course not. Suppose your child—God forbid it—grew up to be a thief, whatever amount of love you may have to your child, it will not lead you to justify the child. What! justify a thief, or thieving! Love alone neither can, nor will, justify the guilty; indeed it rather adds to the condemnation. I never yet met with a magistrate who could justify one guilty of the most trifling offense. You cannot justify either the sin or the sinner. That Lord Mayor loved the young man, his heart was breaking to see his friend's son stand before him in such a position, and proved guilty. What a dreadful thought and word and reality “guilty” is! But do you think he could have taken that young man up in his carriage, and say, “I will drive him to the Exchange, and proclaim to every one that he is innocent?” He could not. It would have been untrue and unjust.
Thus it is easy enough for any one to justify another if innocent; the difficulty is to justify him who is guilty, and has been proved to be so. You see the difficulty that is before us, and how God can be righteous, and justify the sinner. And I very much question if the righteousness of God has ever once been duly put before many here now. It is a thing scantily and rarely touched on in the sermons you are in the habit of hearing. A few words are taken from the scriptures, on which man's thoughts are told out. Such is an ordinary discourse, One would desire to deal differently with God's word.
I know there are many here who have never been pulled up about this question of righteousness, and that it is well they should be pulled up. Be God's love what it may, He is and must remain righteous, and in righteousness what is He going to do with such a man as you? It is no use trying to make as good a case for yourself as possible before God; for He knows all about you—far more than you do yourself. He knows the source of that iniquity which has shown itself more than once, in overt acts of transgression.
The occasion of the writing of the Epistle to the Galatians, was that Jews or Judaizing teachers had come down from Jerusalem, and were trying to seduce the believers from Christ, or rather to add something on to Christ, to substitute something for Him in part. They must be circumcised, not exactly in the place of faith; but after believing, circumcision was brought in in some way to get righteousness by; it was something added to the work of Christ. This might seem a small matter, but the apostle never wrote so vehemently as he did on this subject. The different gospel that was not another was, that it was insufficient for a man to have Christ without circumcision and the law. And this is the gospel (if so it can be called), of the present day; the gospel in which we have been bred. Even Peter got infected by it, when certain came from James, not before. Before he took the ground, that to have Christ is to have everything, he did eat with Gentiles; but when those Judaizing teachers came down, he no longer felt free to eat alike with those who had only Christ (Gentile saints), and those who had circumcision, and the law besides Christ; and he withdrew, fearing those of the circumcision. This opposition to God's grace originated at Jerusalem where lived great numbers of believing Jews; so that the entire system, city and all, had to be destroyed, and the people scattered, in order to break it up.
These teachers who came down from Jerusalem were zealous of the law, just exactly as they are in some parts of Christendom. People are far more religious than Christians now-a-days. Peter feared them, dissimulation followed, and they ceased to walk uprightly according to the truth of the gospel. The believing Jew had got Christ and the law; the Gentile only Christ. Peter, when thus astray, admitted practically that the law added something to Christ; and it was to correct this that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians. He saw that it destroyed the whole character of the gospel. It was the question of righteousness: “You must be saved by Christ,” said they, “and then keep the law for righteousness.” You will see in this epistle how very simply the subject is introduced to us. (Chap. 2:21.) “For if righteousness Come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” So he goes on to say (chap. 3:10), that as many as put themselves on the principle of law, no matter who they are, they are under the curse. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.” And we know that no one has kept or can keep the law. This is the doctrinal statement in Galatians, which is fully unfolded in the Romans. Why was the law given? It was added for the sake of transgressions, not surely to produce sin. For two thousand years before the law, sin was in the world; and the law came in by the bye, that the offense might abound, that is, that sin might be manifested in open transgression, so as to prove what fallen man is, to show his sinful and lost condition, and the need of a Savior who could meet his case. Then he goes on to show the importance of standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free.
The Epistle to the Romans opens up this whole subject in detail. The beginning is characteristic of the whole. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” In “the gospel of God” we have the key-note of the entire epistle. Its great theme is the glad-tidings of God in contrast with the legalism, which others sought to introduce, the system which man has brought in, and in which we have all been brought up. The apostle was separated unto the gospel of God. What I would preach to you now, is entirely from God to man, not from man to God. It comes down from Him, instead of going up to Him. It is not of man, neither is it by man, nor yet about man, but about His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. God is the Author of His own good news, His Son the burthen of it. The object of faith is the Son of God, and this is important to notice, for unless I bring before you the person and character of the Son of God, you will surely mistake and undervalue His work. We must believe in His personal glory before we can appreciate His sacrifice. There must be one competent to go into the holiest before the sprinkling of the blood; the blood must be carried in there to make atonement, but something else must come first, and what was that? The high priest with the golden censer and its incense, symbolizing the sweet savor of the holy uncreate divine person of the Son of God, concerning which we have no account of its formation. And the golden censer was full of incense, the holy fragrance of His person. When the cloud of that incense enveloped. the mercy-seat, then the blood was to be brought and sprinkled. God must have His only Son presented first, His work afterward. It is the value of the person that infinitely enhances the work.
To see the importance of apprehending aright the person of Christ, turn to John 4:9: “His only begotten Son” (ver. 10), “and sent his Son” (ver. 14); again “the Son” (chap. 5:9); “This is the witness of God which he hath testified concerning his Son.” The gospel is not concerning your feelings and doings, or the church’s in any shape, but concerning His Son; so that.” he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” I hope you see the importance of really owning the true, eternal, divine person of the Son, by whom the heavens and the earth were made, for “all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
After thus dwelling for a moment on the key-note of the epistle, read one or two verses in the same chapter (1.), as to what the gospel is. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel ['of Christ' is an interpolation], for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Ver. 16.) God is the source, and His righteousness the subject of the gospel; and this is its effect for the believer—it is the power of God unto salvation. And now comes the question of righteousness. If a magistrate cannot possibly lower the dignity of the law in order to justify a theft or thief, surely God has not lowered His righteousness by slurring over sins. On the contrary, we read in verse 17, “Therein [that is, in the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed.” There is the solemn background in verse 18: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” This looks like a difficulty, does it not?
On what principle then can God be righteous in justifying the ungodly? This is the question, and I want you to look it fairly in the face. Man always tries to make his case a little better or more hopeful than it is. “A little more prayer, a little more religion, a little more reading of my Bible, and by-and-by I shall be good enough for God to justify.” The Epistle opens with the truth which reverses all this. Here we have the apostle opening up what man is at his worst and vilest condition; showing first the shameless idolatry, and shocking moral corruption, into which the Gentiles had sunk: as afterward he proves from the Old Testament that the Jews were not a bit better.
(To be continued.)

Letter on Hebrews 10:2

Dear——
I believe Heb. 10 is absolute and forever. It is a question of imputation and a purged conscience, not of sensibility to failure, and confession of it, which is a state of soul connected with communion, or fellowship, to which 1 John 2 applies. But here the apostle says, if this were not perfecting forever; (εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς) Christ must often have suffered from the foundation of the world, but He was once offered to bear the sins of many. And when I go to God, even to confess failure, He is there, and all the value of His blood, so that imputation is impossible. Hence, in 1 John we have Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation. This is the basis of advocacy. And the very ground in that part of Hebrews, that the falling into sin is fatal and final's drawing back to perdition,” is, that there is no more sacrifice for sin. But this for such, and for the believer, is founded on there being but one, but thus that one for the believer must finally and forever settle the question, or it never could be. And this is to the furthering of holiness, because what would be otherwise a question of acceptance and righteousness is now a question of holiness and walking with God, and present divine favor and communion. But as to conscience of sins, I cannot go to God and not find Christ there, not without blood, who bore them all, so that it is impossible they can come in question as to imputation, or my conscience be burdened with them, as yet unsettled between me and God; but it makes them doubly hateful as to holiness, that one in the light as God is should do them, and find even momentary pleasure in what made Christ's agony; but if it did, it cannot be imputed. Num. 19 is applicable here; the great day of atonement was valid, or he could not have had that, and he was an Israelite. I believe it to be of great moment to true holiness to know that the worshipper once purged has no more conscience of sins. When He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down. It is absolute for the divine glory, eternal in, its value, and unchangeable, and wholly finished, and εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς.

Notes on Job 31

Here, as the conclusion of his last discourse, Job makes the most solemn and complete protestation of his innocence; not, of course, denying what he had already owned of man's condition—of his own among the rest, but absolutely repudiating the thought of grievous wickedness concealed under a fair exterior, with which God could be now waging war, as his friends had surmised. In personal purity—and this again as a married man, in his behavior toward his domestics, in his remembrance of the poor and exposed, in his abhorrence of idolatry and avarice, in his cultivation of generous and hospitable ways, in his hatred of hypocrisy, he prays that, if false, he may be put to utter shame, appeals to the Almighty for an answer, and avers his willingness to endure the closest scrutiny, where no evil can be cloaked or tolerated; nay, more, he imprecates a curse on himself from His hand, that, if it can tell of fraud or violence, baneful weeds and thorns may take the place of wheat or barley.
I have presented a covenant to mine eyes,
And how should I think on a maiden?
And what [would be] the portion of Eloah from above,
And inheritance of Shaddai from on high?
[Is there] not destruction to the wicked,
And a strange [dream] to the workers of iniquity?
Doth not He see my ways, and count all my steps?
If I walked with falsehood, and my foot hosted to deceit,
(Let Him weigh me in a balance of justice,
And let Eloah know mine integrity,)
If my step turned aside from the way,
And my heart walked after mine eyes,
And a blot cleaved to my hands,
Let me sow, and another eat, and my produce be uprooted.
If my heart was enticed about a woman,
And I laid wait at my neighbor's door,
Let my wife grind for another, and others bow down on her.
For this [is] an infamy, and that a crime for a judge.
For a fire it [is], it consumeth to destruction,
And it would uproot all my increase.
If I despised the right of my bondman
Or of my bondmaid, in their contending with me,
What then shall I do when God ariseth?
And when He visiteth, what shall I answer Him?
In the belly did not He that made me make him?
And did not One fashion us in the womb?
If I kept back the poor from [their] desire,
And the eyes of the widow made to pine,
Or ate my morsel by myself,
And the orphan had not eaten of it
(For from my path I brought him up as a father,
And her I guided from my mother's womb).
If I saw [any] perishing without clothing,
And the needy without covering;
If his loins blessed me not,
And he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
If I shook my hand over the orphan,
When I saw my help in the gate;
Let my shoulder fall from the blade,
And mine arm be broken from the bone.
For the destruction of God was a terror to me,
And before His majesty I was powerless.
If I made gold my confidence,
And to the pure gold said, My trust;
If I rejoiced because my weal [was] great,
And because my hand found much;
If I see the light when it shineth
And the moon walking splendidly,
And my heart was secretly enticed
And my hand kissed my mouth
(And this were a crime for judges,
For to God (El) above I had lied);
If I rejoiced over the ruin of my hater,
And got uplifted when evil found him;
Yea, I suffered not my palate to sin
By asking that his soul might be under a curse;
If the men of my tent said not,
Who giveth one not satisfied with his flesh?
The stranger passed not the night in the street;
I opened my doors to the traveler;
If I, like Adam, covered my transgressions,
Hiding in my bosom mine iniquity,
Because I feared the great multitude,
And the contempt of families terrified me,
So that I am silent, I go not out of the door.
O that One would hear me! Lo, my sign.
Let Shaddai answer me,
And mine adversary with the charge:
Would I not carry it on my shoulder?
I would bind it as crowns on me.
The number of thy Steps I would tell Him,
As a prince would I go near to Him.
If my land cry out against me, and its furrows weep together,
If its strength I consumed without wrong,
And caused the soul of its owners to expire,
Instead of wheat let thorns come up,
And weeds instead of barley. The words of Job are ended.
Deeply interesting and instructive is this closing burst of indignant self-defense on Job's part. Valuable as the law might be—for surely God does nothing in vain—we can see how high was the moral standard for the soul and for the walk of godly men outside Israel, before the legislation from Sinai, as appears in the patriarchs of Genesis. Nor is it only in matters of right and wrong, of which the conscience could judge with more or less precision, according to the amount of light possessed; but we see the effect, in the soul and its affections and judgments, divine revelation. God had spoken words, and had wrought too in solemn ways with men individually and universally, in grace and in judgment, long before He had. inspired men to write His mind by divine power. And faith received His word, and pondered on His dealings, to rich profit, before scripture; though scripture, when it was vouchsafed, added much to the blessing, and increased the responsibility, of those who possessed it, and alas! of all who despise it.
For it is an immense favor to have God's words in a permanent as well as perfect form, as communicating His mind, whether about Himself and His ways, or about man and man's ways: how much more when He spoke ἐν Υἱῷ, not by servants, but in His Son, by whom He wrought eternal redemption! On this, however, we dwell not now, but weigh what God gives us of those early days, where we see, as here, how the Holy Spirit, spite of scanty revelation, enabled saints, like Job, to feel so becomingly as to God, no less than in their ordinary walk of every day. But let us remember that the same faith which turned the little then to such admirable account will not be satisfied now without a deep and growing entrance into all the written word, and a hearty fellowship with Christ in all of joy or sorrow that His name entails on us, whether we think of our being in Him above, or of His being in us here below. Grace never enfeebles the sense of what is due to God's nature or authority, but, on the contrary, strengthens him who knows it by faith, to walk, and worship, and testify. accordingly. Knowledge or privilege, however precious intrinsically, is to us worse than useless, if we love not the good and hate the evil, as He judges each. And now our responsibility is measured by the fullest light and the nearest relationship; for Christ is revealed, and the Holy Ghost given, and we are His children by that Spirit, crying Abba, Father.
Law, as the apostle teaches us, came in by the bye (παρεισῆλθεν), not as a rule of life, as men perversely imagine, but rather of death and condemnation. (See 2 Cor. 3) Christ is really that rule—Christ as revealed in the word of God as a whole, and applied by the Spirit. Law came in parenthetically that the offense might abound, the power of sin, not of holiness, as grace is, the exact counterpart of law. Hence we see right ways and holy thoughts before the law; as we are called so much the more, that sin should not have dominion over us, because we are not under law, but under grace. We have died with Christ to law as distinctly and assuredly as to sin: such is the teaching of the Holy Ghost in Rom. 6-8, where it is a question of life, not of blood, as the ground for holy walk, not for the remission of sins. Would that God's children cast their theological idols to the moles and to the bats, and sought to know and enjoy better the liberty wherewith Christ sets free! Let them be assured that as they would be all the gainers in solid peace, so His name would have glory in their exceeding and abounding in love toward one another, and toward all, to the confirming of their hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
To return, then Job formally and minutely tests himself by the comprehensive bill of delinquency, and this toward God as well as man, by failure in good, as well as by self-gratification or other sins. We may be assured that not one of the friends who virtually arraigned could have afforded to try himself as Job proceeds to do here. He judges unclean lusts as well as actions; and this in the fear of Him who had power to cast soul and body into hell—Him who meanwhile took cognizance of all his steps. Vanity or falsehood, too, was just as far from Job's spirit and ways as impurity. Whatever men might think who drew conclusions from appearances, he could ask God to weigh him in a just balance, whether he had resorted to deceit, or turned aside from the way, and if so, that another should reap the results of his labor, and that retribution, even as to his own wife, should follow any such consuming evil on his part. Most touchingly does he show that, if in an exalted position, his heart never forgot that his servants were of the same race, of the same human family as himself, to the exclusion of unfeeling personal pride. Nor was it merely a strong sense of relationship within the household, for his compassion ever went out to suffering humanity—the widow and the fatherless, the needy and the naked—and this not casually, but with constant and unwearied care as a father, and with vigilance against taking the least advantage through influence with others: so powerfully, he could say, had the fear of God, and his indignant vindication of all such acted within him, as to render that hardness a total stranger to his heart. And trust in gold, the covetousness which the New Testament calls idolatry, was as abhorrent to his spirit as the giving to the highest orbs of creation the glory due to God alone; which iniquity would seem to have been in those patriarchal days as distinctly punishable before the judge, as the insidious corruptors of domestic sanctity. (Compare vers. 9-11 with vers. 26-28.)
Further, he most solemnly abjures all joy over an enemy's calamity, though he had not in the most indirect way asked it; and he could appeal to those most familiar with the habits of his life, whether a single soul had ever gone from him discontented with his fare, or even a stranger near him was left shelterless; and he could absolutely deny the tendency to conceal evil, which we have all derived from our first father, uninfluenced by the fear of man which is its habitual motive.
Finally, he again renews his desire for the Almighty Himself to answer, this being his affidavit, as we say, with his mark or signature, as he earnestly wishes the counter-statement in the case, which, far from dreading, he longs for, and declares he would wreathe it round his head like chaplets of honor, and, far from hiding, tell all out, as he drew near like a prince, instead of a conscience-stricken coward. No violence nor fraud lay within; not a field could cry against Job, nor its furrows weep together, as the ground did where Abel fell, as many a plot has since testified against kings and queens, down to the basest of men throughout this world's sad history. But he asks that, if any wrong had sullied his life, even in such transactions as these, thorns and darnel might curse his toils, instead of the wheat or barley he had sown.
The friends were wholly wrong, unjustifiable, and uncharitable; what Job says was true, but he knows not yet all the truth about himself, as none could of God, till He came who is the Truth, and proved it in grace to the uttermost in His cross. But Job was occupied and satisfied with himself. From this God would deliver him, and bless him then more than ever. No flesh shall glory in His presence; and this Job must learn to glory only in Him. We shall see in the sequel how he was taught it, humbly and graciously. But Job ended his words before it was even begun.

Notes on John 13:18-22

The hint which closed verse 10 is now expanded into the growingly solemn intimations in word and deed that follow. It is no longer Christ's love caring for His own, either once for all, in atoning self-sacrifice to God for them, everlasting in its efficacy; or in unintermitting cleansing by the word, as for them He died on earth, living for them in heaven, that they might be practically in unison with the relationship of grace into which they had been brought, spite of the defilements of the way. Here it is the faithless indifference of nature, with a conscience increasingly seared by indulgence in a besetting sin, which Satan was about to lure into and blind to high treason against Christ, availing itself of the closest intimacy to sell the Master and Lord, the Son of God, for the paltriest price of a slave—to sell Him into the hands of enemies thirsting for His blood. It may not be the hatred of these; it is utter lovelessness, betraying Him who was at this time more than ever showing and proving His love, not only up to and in death, but in life beyond it evermore. Now the unbelief which, having eyes and heart, sees not nor feels such love, precipitates, above all, into Satan's deceit and power. This we sorrowfully behold in Judas; and no one felt the sorrow as the Lord.
“I speak not of you all: I know whom I chose out, but that the scripture may he fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me [hath] lifted up his heel against me. Henceforth I tell you before it come to pass, that, when it hath come to pass, ye may believe that I am [he]. Verily, verily, I say to you, he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. Having said these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, that one of you shall give me up. The disciples [then] looked one on another, doubting of whom he spoke.” (Vers. 18-22.)
The Lord, then, did, and does, look for activity of love among His own. If they were objects of a love which could never fail, He would have them instruments or channels of it one toward another, and this in respect of evil to remove it, whereas legality could only condemn. Himself the Son, yet the servant in love, He would exercise them in the service of love, where defilement otherwise would repel. But as He came to suffer for our sins, so also He was going away to form us while on earth into His own mind and affections, through the truth, and in doing so to cleanse from every way which might grieve the Holy Spirit, whereby we are sealed till the day of redemption. For it is not a question of removing the guilt of a sinner only, but of restoring the communion of a saint, whenever interrupted by allowed evil. And in this last dealing of love, He would have His own caring one for another. But He did not speak of all the disciples then present: sad presage of what was to be far more common in after days! He knew whom He chose out: Judas was not among such, though called to be an apostle. He had never known the Lord—knew nothing truly of His grace or of His mind—was not born of God. Why, then, had he been selected for that place of honor, the apostolate, in immediate and constant attendance on the Lord here below?
It was not that the Lord was unconscious of his character, conduct, or coming catastrophe, but that the scripture might be fulfilled, He that eateth bread [hath] lifted up his heel against Me. Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked of old; he forsook God his Master, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. Judas went incomparably farther in his guilty indifference to the Son of God come down in love and humiliation, and in his eagerness to serve himself at all cost, betraying his gracious Master for the merest trifle. Never was such love, never such slight and abuse of it, and this in one of those specially responsible to be faithful. Doubtless it would be through Satan's power; but to this flesh exposes, and so much the more because of nearness outwardly to the Lord who is not believed on to salvation. There comes out, most palpably and fatally, the hard baseness of the unrenewed heart, and this against the grace of the Lord above all. Thus, if the disciples were in danger of being stumbled by such an one's defection, the evident fulfillment of scripture was meant to strengthen their faith in every written word of God. By this man lives Godward: bread, money, anything here below, may be the occasion of his ruin. How wondrous the patience which, knowing all from the beginning, bore all to the end, without a frown or sign of shrinking from the traitor. But so much the more withering must be the sentence of judgment when it comes from His lips, the Lord of glory, the hated and despised of man!
The Lord gives precision to ancient oracles, hitherto applied only to others, as here to David suffering from Ahithophel. But the Holy Spirit wrote of Him preeminently; and He too, before the event, cites the word about to be verified in the treachery toward Himself. Thus did the Lord prove alike His perfect and divine knowledge of what lay yet in the future, while He taught the inestimable worth of scripture, and, not least, of not yet fulfilled prediction, meeting in every form the incredulity of believers as well as of unbelievers. For who knows not the accepted maxims which assume the dark and doubtful character of unfulfilled prophecy, which denies prophecy even to the prophets, still more to the Psalms and to the law? At least men should fear to give the lie to Him who declares Himself the Truth, and spoke as never man did; they have reason to fear, if they turn away from Him to lying vanities, which, far from being able to save their votaries in the day of need, shall themselves be as stubble to burn themselves, and all who trust them. Jesus, on the contrary, is never so transparently the Messiah as when beforehand He points to the word of scripture about to be accomplished in His own rejection and death of the cross, and affords in it a firmer ground of blessing for the poorest of sinners than in all the glories of the kingdom to be fulfilled in their season.
Then, with His usual mark of profound solemnity, the Lord binds the reception of His sent ones with Himself and His Father. “Verily, verily, I say to you, he that receiveth whomsoever I may send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.” This was the more important to be added here, for some might question their standing before God because of the awful doom of Judas, when and where known. The Lord comforts such, and turns from occupation with the fallen servant to the Master who abides forever the same, as does the Father. Did Judas betray the Lord? This sealed his own doom, but touched not the authority any more than the grace of Christ, as of God Himself. If they received one whom Christ sent, be his end even what it might, they received the Son, and so the Father, instead of sharing in the guilt or danger of punishment of the servant who dishonored his Master.
The Lord then, manifesting the deepest emotion, proceeds to urge the sin home, limiting its worst form to one only of the disciples. “Having said these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, that one of. you shall give me up.” It was holiness, it was love, which took thus to heart the impending iniquity of Judas. In every point of view the Lord felt it—in itself, in its contrariety to God, in its bearing on others, as well as on Himself, and in its awfulness for the wretched guilty one. It is not self, but love, which is associated with the truest sensibility; and the Lord expresses it as a testimony also, “Verily, verily, I say to you, one of you shall give me up.” They were all faulty, but one, and only one, thus about to become a prey to Satan, and the tool of his malice against the Lord. Their doubts were as honest, as his place in their midst was now a lie against the truth. If he joined the rest in looking one on another, it was hypocrisy, for he could not really doubt of whom Jesus was speaking. Yet no blush, no paleness, betrayed Judas. The disciples must have recourse to other means of learning the sad truth.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 1:15-20

The apostle now explains circumstances which some in Corinth were as quick to misunderstand as ready to turn to his advantage. He is free to explain now as things are, but he is more anxious to turn all to the account of Christ and the truth, and this in the truest interests of the saints.
“And with this confidence I was intending previously to come unto you, that ye might have a second favor, and through you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come unto you, and by you to be sent forward into Judea. Having, then, this intention, did I, pray, use lightness? Or what I purpose do I purpose according to flesh, that with me may be the yea yea and the nay nay? Now God [is] faithful that our word that [was] unto you is not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, that was preached among you by us, by me, and Silvanus, and Timothy, became not yea and nay, but is become yea in Him. For as many as [are] God's promises, in him [is] the yea; wherefore also by him [is] the amen for glory to God by us.” (Vers. 15-20.)
The injurious impression, and even charge, of some at Corinth against the apostle was based on the slenderest appearances, and these severed from the action in him of power and love and a sound mind. How opposed to the Spirit were not such thoughts in them! The modification of his plans in not going before to visit them was as distinctly in subjection to the Lord, as his actual desire to see and help them. It was not dread of any there, still less was it from lack of moral purpose in himself. His heart was toward them in the large and holy activity of divine love. Blessed before to them, he sought that they might be favored of the Lord again, on his way to and from Macedonia for Judea; and their affectionate care in sending him on to the East he valued and counted on. His true motives he let them know afterward. Those who yielded to such surmisings proved both their own bad state, and their ignorance of the apostle; for character and state are according to the object before the man. If it be Christ in love to His own, and even to man generally, the result follows in a walk according to God. This is to imitate God, and serve the Lord. If there be an absence of purpose on the one hand, or on the other a planning according to flesh, in either way self governs, and there could be for others no just ground of confidence. The man is as he loves, or loves not. He that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him. He that lacks an object, lacks character, and can only be frivolous and inconstant; he that seeks personal influence, power, honor, money, &c., is degraded according to what his heart is set on. What is of the flesh is worthless, and its purpose untrustworthy. In God only is continuance, and His Spirit alone works it in the heart and ways, where Christ displaces self as the object. For man otherwise is incapable of walking or serving according to God. He is either and evidently fickle, or his planning, however positive, is without God's guidance and strength.
Beautifully does he turn, in a spirit of grace, from their insinuations against himself to the doctrine he preached. “Now God [is] faithful, that our word that [was] unto you is not yea and nay.” There is no shift of purpose, no uncertainty, in the gospel, whatever may be thought of the man. God Himself is pledged to, and concerned in, it. His glory and His grace are not more concerned in it than His truth and righteousness. In the mighty work of redemption, all that God is shone out as nowhere else in past or future. There He vindicated His own nature in everlasting hatred of sin; there He demonstrated His love, rising above the worst evil of the creature. Did He compromise His word? He accomplished it, letter and spirit, to the full. Did He abandon His holiness? Never was His absolute separation from it so manifested, nor His righteous judgment of it ever so seen as then; yet then it was that every obstacle to the outflow of all-overcoming grace toward sinners, whatever and wherever they might be, fell before the efficacy of the one offering and sacrifice of Christ. And as in the work which is its ground, so in the preaching, there is no inconsistency. On the contrary, every fact and thought, otherwise irreconcilable, are there brought into harmony. Our only absolute consistency is in Christ and His cross.
Here it will be observed that the apostle associates others with himself. For the grace and truth that Game through Jesus Christ over enlarges the heart, and gives enduring fellowship; and this appears still more clearly in what follows. “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, that was preached among you by us, by me, and Silvanus, and Timothy, became not yea and nay, but is become yea in him.” The glory of the person proclaimed answers to the certainty guaranteed. Doubt, difficulty, hesitation, or inconsistency can have no place in the Son of God, now the glorified Man, who suffered on the cross for the annulling of sin; and the apostle and his companions knew and preached no other doctrine. As the truth is one, and they believed, so is the doctrine the same which they preached. Others might seek novelties, and it is natural to the active, restless, spirit of man. They could not so deal with such a person, such a work, or such a message. That divine person, in His infinite grace, governed their minds and filled their hearts; and out of the abundance of their hearts they preached the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation, and this as consistently each with himself, as all with each other.
Thus he declares most unequivocally that the preaching of him and his companions had none of the vacillation or conflict common to the schools of human opinion, and this because all truth is verified in Christ's person. It is become yea in Him. It abode the same. Perfection is come in Him, and also as available for others. This is far more than the witness's agreement with themselves and one another, which is eclipsed by Christ, who is personally the truth, and all is become verified in Him. Nothing more distant from the subdued, hesitating, style of Greek thought and expression, where even what was not doubted they put as opinion. Here all is sure, and unclouded, and peremptory. The gospel, as Paul preached it, admits of no doubtful answer, any more than doable dealing; and this, because it is revealed in the Second man, who has set aside the first, with his darkness and doubt, no less than with his guilt and corruption.
More than this: “For how many soever [are] God's promises, in him is the yea; wherefore also through him [is] the amen to God for glory, by us.” Hence it is not only that there is the affirmation of all promised of God in Christ, and therefore in the highest way, before the fulfillment in others, as the effect, and the outward display before every eye in the universe, but there is a present application of the surest character, through apostolic ministration, to God's glory. God is glorified in the Son of man, as the Son of man is glorified; but there are results of the deepest sort which God vouchsafes now to faith, in the administration of which (not the kingdom merely, as Peter) our apostle had the chief place, and the Christian is entitled to reap the blessing, as heartily and in the Holy Spirit assenting to the truth. So Bengel, long ago, said tersely enough, “Nae respectu Dei promittentis, Amen respectu oredentium.” But to bring the believer into the enjoyment of what God has wrought in Christ more has to be said, and immediately follows. Here it is the firm foundation, not God's promises as of old, still less the law, which proved that man could not make them good, but all accomplished in Christ, but also as surely verified through Him, for glory to God by us.

Discourses on Colossians 2: Part 1

There is practically one subject in what I have read, but divided into two parts: one, Christ as contrasted with all the thoughts of the world; and the other, the true place of the Christian as in Him. It is a new place, even in Christ. He begins by pressing on them a warning against all the philosophy and Judaism abroad. They really ran into the same channel; and this is connected with the second point referred to, because they belong to this world. Christ is put, first, in opposition to all that; and, secondly, he unfolds that what is in Christ is in a risen Christ, outside of this world. There are the same things current now, for people are turning back to “the rudiments of the world.” All this infidelity and ritualism have just the same root, though not the same shape; both belong to this world, and are what man's mind and imagination, as a child of Adam, can take up. The contrast is Christ risen—Christ out of this world.
This chapter brings out both. They are the workings of man's mind and imagination—what man can do; whereas the moment you get what God has revealed in Christ, and the place Christ is in, man has nothing to do with it. They are the rudiments of this world: the one is reasoning, mental flesh; and the other is imaginative flesh. This Ritualism—Christ offered every Sunday, &c.—is as if there was not one offering for sin. But I find “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Then it is not perfected! This makes all the difference. My imagination and fancy can take hold of these things, or the mind rejects them; but they are the denial that Christ has finished the work.
We are very little aware (though they are quite different parts of human nature) how it all has to do with man—man not delivered from himself—and having Christ instead: The apostle first warns them, and then shows what the real thing is, that is, Christ in heavenly places. God had taken up human nature among the Jews to see if it could be brought into connection with Him, and it could not. It was, in a certain sense; but God had to hide Himself behind a veil: if there were no veil, you must be able to stand in the light, as God is light. God never came out, but He gave a gorgeous worship, and He gave the law as a more perfect rule for human nature, for man as he is. The question is, has man kept it? No one has. Where a person is going on under Judaism, he will take all the gorgeous part of it, and, on the other hand, be takes the law, without the consciousness that he has not kept it. Of course numbers fear the law when their conscience is awakened; and, where there is truth of conscience under such a system, they are always unhappy. Man's mind takes its own course, and ends necessarily without finding God. “Can man by searching find out God?” Instead of that, you get God fully revealed in Christ, and man brought to God in Christ. Christianity supplants the darkness of the natural mind (I do not say soul), which could have nothing to do with God, add which, take it in its fullest broadest sense, it is necessarily atheism, as it never reaches to God, it confining itself to what my mind can find out; and that is what they were all at here.
The apostle was anxious about them, because they were constantly mixed up with these things—living in the midst of these Greek philosophers. Although he had never been there, yet his heart knew experimentally, by the power of the Holy Ghost, what the snares were, and he says, “I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you.” He felt the dangers that were there, and he looked on these saints as belonging to Christ, whom he so loved and labored for, and he showed interest in them.
Verse 2. Here I get the understanding of the mystery of God, and that is another thing altogether. It is not the way we are accustomed to understand the word “mystery,” as a thing not to be found out; but it is a thing only known by revelation—it is not known save to the initiated. It is that which by divine revelation and teaching we know, and it brings us into a totally new world.
You get, then, another important thing needed. Supposing I was the greatest scientist in the world, there is not a bit of love about it: it is connected with nobody, and there is not an atom of soul-work in it. Therefore God cannot be known, for God is love. Faith gives us an inlet into all the things that love has done. Science is as cold as ice—dead cold: you cannot let a bit of feeling in. There is no relationship with anything in the world or any One above it. (Ver. g.) But revelation lets in “To the acknowledgment of the mystery of God” —God the source of their life, God the One who dwells there by the Holy Ghost among them, and gives the feeling that flows from the relationship into which they are brought. The mind may get developed, but there is no moral [motive?] in it—it is not in its nature. The Christian acts by a motive. Science does not touch the ground that the soul is on. What has feeling to do with the discovery of how the physical nature works? In Christ I learn the blessed truth, that God dwells in me by the power of the Spirit in the divine nature, and. I have communion with the Father and the Son. I get into a new world altogether.
Then I rise “unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding.” Understanding of what? Of how animals were born? No; of the hidden mystery. I get my heart opened to see all the scope of God's plans and counsels in Christ. You get the “full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22.) (that is not science!) that “he that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true.” Science says, “I think this, and I think that” —such is all it has. I find adequate certainty about all common things, but if I have the testimony of God, I get the positive certainty of faith—the only certainty we have. I have set to its seal that God is true—He cannot but be true.
I get another “full assurance,” and that is “hope” (Heb. 6:11), for there you have the affections engaged, and the things realized. It gives much greater reality—the very acquaintance imparts great reality. I am going to be in the same glory with Christ, and that is the full assurance of hope. Am I going to be there? Yes, of course, if you are a believer, and you have the earnest of it in your hearts. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” —that is the full assurance of hope.
The third thing goes much higher— “Full assurance of understanding” —for it is part of God's plan and counsel in Christ; and if we are not there, Christ's glory is not complete, and it cannot be otherwise. “We have the mind of Christ.” If I have the full assurance of hope, then I see these things as a part of God's plan and Christ's glory, and that is the full assurance of understanding.
“To the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, wherein are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” There is nothing so certain in the world as the revelation of God, known only by redemption. Now you belong to another world: these things (philosophy, Judaism, &c.) do not belong to the world I am in. Of course there is God's creation, but it is His first creation; it passes away, or we perish from it. It is a wonderful creation, but that is not being reconciled to God, and being in the new creation. In this mystery are all God's wisdom and knowledge—all summed up—all His counsels there, to which the natural mind has not even an entrance, and never can, for “they are spiritually discerned.” It rests on the revelation of God. The soul finds its affections in the new creation; it has a world it belongs to, and “they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” You get the figure of it in Abram. He had not so much as to set his foot upon; he was not in the land, but he belonged to it, and that is just where we are, “As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” The world attracts Lot's heart in the character of its efforts at grandeur; but Abram was a stranger and pilgrim, and he says, “If thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Lot goes down to the plain just ripening for judgment, and pitched his tent near Sodom; then he gets nearer and nearer, till he is snatched out of it. As soon as Lot had gone down and chosen this prosperous place, then God says to Abram, “Lift up now thine eyes,” &c. As soon as he had completely given up the world in heart, then the promised land rose up before him. He realized the thing that was promised to him. It was separation to God in faith. He got the fall assurance of hope.
Now he goes on to show where the Christian is, not what he is yet. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” It is Christ up in heaven in another world. “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Here I find the actual starting-place, and this is, that in Christ all the fullness of the Godhead bodily is revealed; I have the perfect revelation of the fullness of the Godhead in Christ. I have nothing new to look after (save, of course, to know it better), for I cannot go beyond the fullness of the Godhead, and it is revealed to me. In Christ, in that Man—more than man, for He was God too—has been the revelation of the /illness of the Godhead. It requires eyes to see it; but to faith, which saw through the veil of His humiliation when here, there was not a trait in His character, an act in His conduct, or an expression of the feeling of His heart going out to the misery around Him, that was not the revelation of the Godhead: the Father was revealed, as in John 14, all was revealed, and nothing else to seek after, except to know it better.
Then I get the other blessed side (ver. 10), “In him dwelleth all the completeness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him” (just the same word in the original). Yes, and I say I am complete iii Him before God—God is completely revealed to me in Christ; but what about you? can you stand before Him? I am before Him, complete in Christ, with not a single thing wanting. This makes it such a full statement of what the mystery is—the positive revelation of all the fullness of the Godhead in One who has come close to me in love, that I may know He is love: When Christ was in this world, He did not seek anything great or grand for Himself. What did He seek? Sorrow, poverty, misery. That is what God has been doing in this world—perfect love (and power too) relieving distress—love that brought down perfect goodness to where I was; that is what God is to me. Perfect goodness in the midst of all the sorrow and misery of this world, and the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily! Ah, poor science! it is a long way off from that. It can tell me about protoplasms, but about divine love never!
The mystery of Christ shows me this completeness without going to outside things—not, up in the clouds to reach it if we can, but brought down to me here. I am complete in Christ, but as I find God perfectly revealed (none of us can measure it, of course, or even go through it—we have to search it out, and grow in it), then I find this on the other side: How can I stand before Him, and grasp all that? Are you fit to be in His presence? Yes; I say, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” That is the place you are brought into, lust as the completeness of the Godhead was brought to us in Christ. Then I find that I am complete according to all God's thoughts. Just as God stood in Christ before man, man stands in Christ before God. It is not merely philosophy spelling out what has been all around us since the creation, it is the One who created it all. And besides this, I find the personal blessedness in it. I am complete in Him, I have everything I want, and that I want for eternity. “Both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one” —all one set. What life have I got? Christ. What righteousness? Christ. What glory? Christ. Just in one position and state. How can I tell how much God loves me? This I can tell you (or rather Christ has told us), that you are loved as Christ is loved. And we know it now. “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it,” &c. He dwells in us, and the Holy Ghost brings down this love into our hearts; “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.”
Now the apostle turns to a special thing which was their difficulty then, that, while he gives the whole scope of God's mind in the mystery, he goes down and deals with this fleshly religion. The Colossians were accustomed to be in the midst of these things. The Jewish system was bringing out for us whether man in the flesh could have to do with God. How many souls there are now under the law in their hearts (they are lawless if they are not)! You must get the knowledge of sin by the law, if rightly applied. It is man, as responsible man, getting a perfect rule of what he ought to be, and circumcision is merely the expression of that death of the flesh. All that was shadowed forth in those things you have in Christ.
The apostle turns more to details to show where we are as Christians. (Ver. 11.) A totally new thing it is—the putting off the body of the flesh. They never had circumcision in the wilderness, not till they crossed the Jordan—a figure of our dying with Christ. Gilgal was the place where they rolled away the reproach of the world. I get the same here. Before it was a circumcision made with hands—now without. I have the true circumcision. Instead of the mere outward ritual of the thing, I have the thing itself. I am complete in Christ. How so? Why I am dead and gone! I have put off the old man altogether. I am not speaking of carrying it out: this you get in 2 Cor. 4:10. A risen Christ is my life, all connection with this world is gone. I am dead to sin, and alive to God. I have put off the body of the flesh, I have died with Christ. I reckon myself dead. I have got a risen Christ as my life; to faith then I have done with this flesh—done with it altogether. I have got this new thing; I am in it (of course I am in this poor earthly tabernacle still, but) I do not belong to this world; I have died through the death of Christ. It is not merely saying you must die—saying “you must” does not give a thing. If you have died with Christ, you are risen with Him—you have left it all behind. It is the very character and meaning of baptism. I have died, I am baptized to Christ's death. Here am I, a living man, and I go through death with Christ (an outward sign, of course). A person who has gone with Christ into His grave, and come up out of it again. He passed out of the condition He was in here as a man on the earth into a totally new place—God raised Him from the dead. You then get, “Wherein also ye are risen with him,” &c. As a Christian you are risen; I have got into this new state. I say that is myself, for I am a Christian.
And now we get much further light on our condition. “And you being dead in your sins.” (Ver. 13.) I was living in sins in the other, but the truth of “dead in sins” goes a good deal farther. Alive as regards my sins, but dead as regards God. This goes farther, and takes up the nature that likes doing them. There is not one single thing in your heart with which God could link Himself. “They that are in the flesh cannot please God.” There is nothing in heaven your nature would like.
I get now, not merely “quickened,” but “quickened together with him” (ver. 13); because, supposing I am alive, I may be spiritually alive, or I may be in Rom. 7. Any one there says, “I think Christ is precious to me, and I love His word, and His people,” but He is examining himself to find out if he is in the new creation. Like the prodigal, he has not met the father; but that is not quickened together with Christ—quickened, no doubt, and when I speak of being quickened in that way, it is the divine operation of a new life in my soul. But quickened together with Christ is different. Where do I see Christ Himself? Not as quickener, but as quickened. Christ as man has been raised from the dead. He died under our sins—for them—He went on unto death for us, and God has raised Him up, and, supposing I am a believer, I am raised up with Him. If I look at myself, it is as raised with Christ, as it says here, “Quickened together with him.” It looks at Christ as a dead man, but that in coming down to death He put away my sins, and therefore I am raised with Him. It is not merely the fact that I have life; I have life in a new condition where Christ is. I have got into a new place before God—Christ's place—and all my sins are left on the other side of Christ's grave. I do not own the old man, it is the horrid thing that has been deceiving me.
There are two more things I would just mention. There are these ordinances—all “blotted out.” All the things the flesh can do in order to gain acceptance are dead in the flesh that did them. Where do I find Christ now that we are risen? Where do I find Christ in the Lord's supper? It is His death. “Bringing Christ into the elements,” as people say; there is no such thing, for it is a dead Christ. The shed blood shows forth His death, and there is no such Christ now. After His resurrection He is alive, death can have no more dominion over Him. And so baptism, as to its signification, it is unto His death. I have gone down with Christ to death, and I am risen with Him.
Only one thing more. In order to bring us thus complete in Him, there were other things against us—these “principalities and powers.” (Ver. 15.) Christ has destroyed Satan's power in the cross; I was a living man in sin—that is gone. Then all these ordinances I was bound to—they are gone. Well, then, Satan's power (not that he has not power) Christ has triumphed over him, “Through death destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil;” so death has lost its power too. The cross of Christ has closed the history of the old man, and of all its associations. I was a slave of sin, “I am quickened together with Him.” A slave to ordinances, they are “nailed to his cross. A slave to Satan, his power is destroyed. I am risen with Christ beyond these things, and that is where the Christian is. I am going to have an everlasting holiday; I have it even now in spirit. I am going to God's rest in heaven. I do not keep days, for that is going back to heathenism. Do you think the sun going round will make them keep days in heaven? It is an everlasting holiday; it is only in our hearts now, for if we follow Christ, we learn its sorrows and griefs too, for He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” We are taken out of all the speculation of philosophy, for we are in a world into which it cannot get.
Now, beloved friends, are your hearts ready to accept such a Christianity? The flesh clings to what the flesh likes—clings to the world, and that which Satan has power over us by, and therefore there is still the combating. But are you content with this? I do not talk about realization, but are you content to take that path which Christ walked as your path?—to take up your cross daily and follow Him? It looks bitter to the flesh, for it is in another world that the flesh can have nothing to say to, even in thought. We shall fail in many things, but are you content to have done with the world into which you were born—to be dead out of it? It is the character and essence of what Christianity really is. My place is as a Christian come up out of Christ's grave. Are you content to take such a Christianity as that? You will never escape the wiles of the devil—either philosophy or Ritualism—you have not got what takes you out of their sphere and dominion. It is the wiles of the devil we have to stand against, not his power—resist him. We have still that allowed in us, in our lives, which Satan can use and get a hold of. You say I must have done with this world that does not want Christ; but if I am risen with Christ, I say I have done with it. The more we go on, the more we shall see it is what is needed. If we are not using the power of Christ in that way, we shall not succeed. If we are risen with Christ, there is a world that the life belongs to, and a world that the flesh cannot touch. Is my heart living for the world where Christ is gone, or for this world?
The Lord give us to see Him so precious, that those things that were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. It is all very easy with a single eye, but “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” If Christ is up there, then, of course, our hearts will go after Him. It must be a thorough thing.

The Bible and Its Critics

Dear Mr. Editor,
With the question now stirring the Free Church of Scotland, respecting the teaching of one of its professors, the readers of the Bible Treasury have no direct Concern. Yet when the scriptures are assailed by criticism to prove that large parts of the Pentateuch were not written by Moses, but by others after his time, all Christians are deeply concerned in the accuracy of Such startling statements. The Lord quoted from the Pentateuch as the writings of Moses. “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” (John 7:19.) The Spirit of God teaches us, that “the law was given by Moses.” (John 1:17.) Professor Smith, in his recently published statement in vindication of himself, would, by criticisms on Old Testament scripture, invalidate such teaching. Now what are such criticisms worth? To a consideration of them let us now turn, first quoting his own words (page 36): “Apparently, says criticism, the only way to make the new law an integral part of the old legislation was to throw it into such a form, as if it had been spoken by Motes, and so incorporate it with the other laws. Of course, if this plan was adopted, the statute-book ceased to be pure literal history. The ascription of a law to Moses could no longer be taken literally, but could only indicate that the law was as much to he observed as if it came from Moses, and that it was a legitimate addition to his legislation. Such a Method of publishing laws would not be free from inconvenience; but the actual unquestioned inconveniences of the Pentateuch, when measured by our ideas of a law-book, are so great, that this cannot prove the thing impossible. On the other hand, there is no deceit implied in the use of an artificial literary form proceeding on a principle well understood, and so it is a pure question of literary and historical evidence whether the Hebrews did at one time recognize and use such a principle. There is one piece of direct historical evidence which seems to sheer that they did, for in Ezra 9:11 a law is quoted from Deut. 7, expressed in words that throw it back into the wilderness period, and yet the origin of this law is ascribed, not to Moses, but to the prophets.”
Leaving it to the simplest Christian to determine whether there is no deceit in stating that Moses wrote what he did not write, and remembering that God in His word, and the Lord Jesus, speak only of Moses as the one by whom the law was given, let us examine the scriptures to which the professor turns in support of his statements and position. A law, he tells us, is quoted by Ezra 9:11 from Deut. 7, and yet the origin of this law is ascribed, not to Moses, but to the prophets. Now it would scarcely be credited that any one contending for, and engaged in, critical studies, could have made such a statement. A quotation the professor calls it! Why, the fact is this: there is not a word in the one passage quoted the same as those in the other. Of the three verbs in the law in question in Deuteronomy, only one of them is made use of in the passage in Ezra. The negative particles used by Ezra are not the same as those in Deuteronomy; and the nouns in the one passage are in the singular, and in the other are in the plural. With these important differences in a raw of only eleven words, it is surely trusting too much to the credulity or inability of his readers to verify his statements, to assert that a law is quoted in Ezra 9:11 from Deut. 7:8. That the ready scribe in the law of. Moses referred to this passage of Deuteronomy we may well believe; but, that he meant it to be a quotation of it, his words would surely negative. He speaks of what God commanded by His servants the prophets. It was the tenor of prophetic teaching that he spoke of. Now Deut. 7 is not the only passage in the Pentateuch which refers to such a subject. In Ex. 34:16 we have a reference to it; and elsewhere, in Josh. 23:12, likewise. Ezra does quote from in Deuteronomy that passage, but it is from Deut. 23:6. A quotation, then, from the law of Deut. 7 the passage in Ezra clearly is not.
But we are further told that “the origin of the law is ascribed, not to Moses, but to the prophets,” because Ezra speaks of God's servants the prophets. Was not, however, Moses a prophet? Is he not termed one in Deut. 18:15; 34:10? But Ezra makes mention of prophets, and surely correctly; for in the book of Joshua (classed by the Jews among those called the former prophets), as well as in the books of Moses, the people were warned against the sin of intermarrying with the nations in the land. Ezra's words, then, seem well chosen; and the professor's attempt to make him a witness of the use in scripture of “artificial literary form” sorely falls to the ground.
Again, writes Professor Smith (page 37), “If, for example, Num. 18 assigns the firstlings to the priests, and Deut. 12 bids the people eat them themselves, and if both laws are perfectly clear and unambiguous in the tenor of their words, it is vain to ask us to believe that both laws wore given by Moses to be observed together.”
Let us examine this. In Ex. 13 we meet with the first command about the firstlings. The Lord claimed them as His for evermore. He had the right to dispose of them as He would. In Ex. 22:30; 34:19; Lev. 27:26, He reminded the people of His claim. In Num. 18:17, 18 He gave them to the priests to eat. In Deut. 12:6, 17, 18; 23; xv. 19, 20, He told the people who brought them, to partake of them with their families and the Levites who were within their gates, at the place where He would choose to put His name. Now it is clear that there is an alteration made in the law. The principle however, that God claimed the firstlings as His, to dispose of as He would, remains the same throughout. In the wilderness God gave them to the priests. (Num. 18) In the land the people were to eat of them likewise. God, of course, had the right to modify His law, and doubtless there was an adequate reason for it. How well the priests were provided for when in the land, we have evidence in the reign of Hezekiah. (2 Chron. 31:4-14.) God's provision was ample when the people conformed to the law about it. Some useful remarks on this point, too long to be here quoted, will be found in “Synopsis of the Books of the Bible,” vol. i., pp. 267, 268. They will well repay perusal.
“But,” adds the professor, “it is vain to ask us to believe that both laws were given by Moses to be observed together.” Who, we may ask, said they were to be observed together? Read Num. 18, as the provision for the wilderness, and Deut. 12; 14, as the arrangement for the land, and all is simple and easy. For it is not a solitary instance of a change made consequent on the people's entrance into the land. Compare Deut. 12:15, 16 with Lev. 17:3, 4, and Deut. 22:1, 2 with Ex. 23:4, for other changes necessitated by their leaving the wilderness, and entering on the land of their possession.
Again, it is objected that the law of Deut. 12:11 could not have been given by Moses, for Samuel, it is assumed, and Elijah knew nothing of it, as they did not conform to it. Now Samuel must have remembered the days of his youth at Shiloh, when men abhorred the offering of the Lord. For certainly then the law of Deut. 12:11 was observed, though the people had had the greatest provocation to break it, from the sins of the two sons of Eli. But what says the law of Deut. 12:11? The people are told to bring to the altar of burnt-offering all that God had commanded them. The words are, “All that I have commanded you.” Now did the offerings of Samuel at Mizpeh, and those of Elijah at Carmel, fall under this category? They were such as God permitted, but were not of those which He had commanded. Now a law of Ex. 20:24 clearly provided for the building of other altars than that in the tabernacle or temple. In Judg. 6:25, 26; 13:16-20, 1 Chron. 21:18-28, as well as 1 Sam. 7:9, and 1 Kings 18, God commanded on some occasions, and sanctioned on others, altars for exceptional offerings. For such the law of Ex. 20 provided, whilst that of Deut. 12 clearly did not. Deut. 12 was to guard the people from all admixture of idolatrous rites with the worship of God. Ex. 20 provided for the exceptional instances of which we have the proofs of the divine approval. There is, then, really nothing contradictory in all this.
Again, in page 55, attempting to support his theory about Deuteronomy, the professor seeks to make the opening words of the book itself to be a witness in his favor. His words are these: “But does not Deut. 1:1 show that the whole book claims to have been written on the east side of Jordan, before the people entered Canaan? On the English translation, yes; but the translation is wrong, and the verse really says, ‘These are the words which Moses space on the other side of Jordan.'“
Now here the professor is incorrect in saying that the English translation is wrong. Grammatically it is quite admissible, for the Hebrew, b'ngehver, øÆáÅòÀÌá may correctly be translated, “on this side,” or, “on that side,” for it does not of necessity by itself determine anything as to the locality, east or west, of Jordan. For proof of this I would refer to the book of Joshua. In Josh. 1:14, 15 the word is used of the east side of Jordan, where Joshua was at the time he addressed the children of Reuben, of Gad, and of the half tribe of Manasseh. In chapter v. 1 it is used of the west side of the river. Again, in chapter ix. 1 it is used of the west aide, and in verse 10 of the east. In chapter xii. 1 it is used of the east side, in verse 7 of the west; and there, as at times elsewhere, defining words are introduced to make plain to which side reference is made, “towards the sun-rising,” 1; “on the west,” verse 7. Anything, then, but on the meaning of b'ngehver, to discredit Deuteronomy being really written by Moses, must fall to the ground.
Three other scripture proofs of the position the professor has taken up, may be more briefly noticed. In page 38 he suggests the chronicler (2 Chron. 20:36) has misunderstood the phrase in 1 Kings 22:48,” the ships of Tarshish.” May not the chronicler be right, and the critic wrong? Further on (page 40) he Calls attention to the introduction of the word Samaria (1 Kings 13:32) in a speech of the old prophet, years before Omri built the city, which he celled Samaria, after Shemer, the owner of the hill (1 Kings 16:24), adding, “we shall misread the history, if we assume that the speeches were given word for word as they were written.” Now this remark is not to the point, the question being, not whether we have a summary merely of the old prophet's speech to his sons, but whether he is made by the historian to use a word which was not in existence till years afterward. This is a very different matter. On what ground is such a statement based! In 1 Kings 13:32 Samaria is used, it would seem, as the name of a district— “cities of Samaria” —like Heshbon and her cities (Josh. 13:17), or “cities of Hebron.” (2 Sam. 1:3.) But in Kings xvi. it appears for the first time as the name of the city built by Omri on the bill he bought of Shemer, its former owner. Such are the facts of the case.
What explanation can be offered? Critics, we learn, cut the knot in a very summary manner. “The history,” we are assured, “is consistent, and the critic is only anxious to reach a standpoint, from which the consistency shall become manifest.” (Page 40.) And the standpoint to which we are conducted is, that the Spirit of God sanctioned “artificial literary form,” making a person say what he did not say, and which it was well known he never uttered. Without dogmatizing on the example from 1 Kings, may it not be that, after all, 1 Kings 16 gives us the clue to the difficulty? The hill was called Samaria, and the city on it was called Samaria, after Shemer. May not the bill have been so called from its position suited to be a watch-tower, whilst the city received its name from Shemer? The hill, then, may have been known as Samaria before Omri built it. The historian only tells us why the city was so named. Is there anything opposed to this in the sacred record? 1 Kings 13 appears to speak of a district of Samaria; 1 Kings 16 clearly tells us the origin of the name of the city, but mentions the hill Samaria as well.
One remark more. On page 47 we read,” In the Old Testament the prophetic word, as a whole, and not merely prophetic vision in the narrow sense, is called a seeing, or intuition. (Chazon Isa. 1:1; Nah. 1:1.)” Such a statement surely needs explanation. Intuition, in the common acceptation of the term, is not the same in sense as “vision” in the prophets. Did Nahum by intuition pour forth the burden of Nineveh? And did Isaiah by intuition give forth his predictions about God's people and the nations?
Having passed in review the different scripture witnesses adduced by Professor Smith in support of his teaching, a simple-minded Christian will perhaps say, What are such criticisms worth? But a more solemn question remains: Is this the way to deal with God's word written?
C. E. S.

The Sea and the Song

Ex. 14; 15
When Israel crossed the sea, there was a visible manifestation of power to a double end—the rescue that Jehovah effected for them, and the destruction with which He overwhelmed the pride and flower of Egypt. But the victory was so signally of God, so purely miraculous an interposition, in a way foreign to all human thought, that it fittingly betokens, with a force peculiar to itself, the crushing defeat of the enemy about to be displayed before all worlds, and suggests that which our souls welcome with divine joy and delight—the final and total eclipse of every agency, human or Satanic, which has ever raised an impious front before God Jehovah wrought so conclusively that day for His own glory, in vindication of His title to have and to hold His people, that one cannot but be struck with the sublimity and finality of the action. But how much more with its twofold fitness for stereotyping upon every heart, on the one hand by the deliverance He wrought, His desire and His purpose to bless; and on the other, by brushing away to utter destruction, with the breath of His mouth, all the hosts of Pharaoh, that the marshalled forces of the enemy, in their mightiest array, are but as a cobweb in the pathway of the onward march of His counsels from eternity!
What could be more sublime than the command before Pi-hahiroth— “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will show to you to-day. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace!” Six hundred thousand men were to stand still in the profound silence that befitted them in a scene where so unparalleled a drama was about to be enacted, moving neither foot nor finger! How calculated was such an inspiriting word to draw the trembling heart of Israel from a fatal occupation with its own exigencies to faith in Jehovah of hosts! A Savior-God was there, and, according to the word of His power, was about to interpose for them to a degree not determined by their own conception of their extremity, but by the fitness and adequacy of the occasion for bringing into bold relief a revelation of Himself in that character, the character in which He loves to present Himself to faith. The One who “plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm,” stood by the Red Sea shore on that momentous night, to give effect to the rod of Moses in cutting a narrow channel through the surging waters for His beleaguered people to slip through! Who shall arrest His hand, or have the temerity to curse whom He blesses? Apart from Jehovah those waters were death and destruction, but Jehovah and the sea (Christ's cup of death in principle) meant life and liberty, deliverance and redemption, for them, but an eternal collapse for their enemies and His, to whom, when He makes bare His arm, He will give no quarter.
The way in which God gave demonstration in that hour of signal victory of the validity of His title to Israel as His purchased possession (types of us assuredly), and the way in which the selfsame night He (lug a grave for Pharaoh and his chariots in the bed of the sea, wrapping its waters around them in one mighty winding-sheet, suggest to us the prophetic utterance of Hos. 13:14: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes” —thus bringing into view further assured victories, both for an earthly and a heavenly people!
“Thus Jehovah saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore. And Israel saw that great work which Jehovah did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared Jehovah, and believed Jehovah and his servant Moses.” (Ex. 14:30, 31.) Now what could be more in keeping with these wondrous issues than that Moses (type of Christ, of course) should celebrate the achievement of Jehovah with a song, the only fitting mode of expressing the new and triumphant resurrection ground upon which the typical Redeemer stood in the midst of his typically redeemed brethren! For the very first time were lips opened, and opened of Himself, in melody before God, for He had wrought salvation!—a salvation of which they knew not the frill significance, it may be; but in all this it is our privilege to learn the higher lessons of His work of grace as now revealed to faith. They are now a typically saved people, not merely as so lately in Egypt, sheltered by the passover-blood, but brought out of Egypt for God, and the power of Egypt broken under their foot Under shelter of the blood God had pledged His word for their safety as against judgment, but now they were saved indeed, and they knew it They ate of the pass-over standing, as it were; loins girt, staff in hand, “in haste” to leave, being yet on the enemy's ground, and shackled beneath his stubborn power.
The very nature of the instruction given them precludes the thought of resting thus, and yet, alas! how many now-a-days tarry in such an attitude of soul, as though it were rest with God, whereas God took pains to prohibit the rest, and was Himself outside. Clearly it was, on the contrary, the prelude to departure, the sound of the give: trumpets, as it were, preparatory to the final break-up of their relations to Egypt, its associations and its penalties; they had been sheltered in Egypt that they might go forth to God. He who bought them with blood to make them His bondman, redeemed them by power to make them His freemen. He who, as the Paschal Lamb, would give His blood to shelter, was also God's Male of might to bear the judgment to deliver. He would have them a separated, enfranchised, people to Himself, and none should stay His hand. Short of this it was not salvation, and short of salvation there could be no divine song. God has been pleased to make salvation and song correlatives, and thus song has become the unique privilege of the redeemed, whether earthly or heavenly saints, as looking forward or backward to that stupendous work of redemption which could alone give perfect rest to the conscience, and suffice for leading the heart into communion with the Father and the Son. I require for this to know, not only that the blood has been shed to put away my sins, and is my perfect, security as against the destroying angel, but that I have been brought to God in redemption effected once and forever, and thus I have perfect peace with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Instead of its being, as before, my sins between myself and Him, it is Himself who is now between me and my sins, and the One who has thus interposed has given me to know that in the doing it He has brought me to Himself, and tuned my heart to His own praise. He has borne the judgment due to my sins, and condemned sin in the flesh; in the Person of my Substitute I am clear from, and carried beyond, the judgment forever; the power of death is annulled, of Satan finally broken. I raise, with joyful heart, a song of victory; for sin, and death, and judgment, that gnashed their teeth upon me, are behind me now, and even “as he is, so are we in this world!”
The angels who kept their first estate, if we may safely interpret the silence of scripture, are not privileged to sing; the vault of heaven has never yet resounded with the accents of song. The earthly paradise was the handiwork of God, and, as everything else, He made it “very good;” but even so fair a scene with man, in innocence and uprightness, its intelligent and richly-endowed center, furnished no suited conditions for song. God spake with man, and man with Him, as also the angels are said to do; but it is the crowning work of redemption, and that alone, which strikes a chord in the heart of God, and tuned the heart of man to respond. It is when redemption is an accomplished fact, and God is glorified therein, that He in whose person it was wrought says, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” (Psa. 22:22.) Then only can He lead the praises of His saints, for song is born of salvation!
Salvation is a signal interposition of God, when every other resource has failed, between us and the state of things into which we have plunged ourselves by our sins, not only averting from us in a way consistent with His righteousness, the eternal penalties incurred, but delivering us from our old, and translating us into a new, position in the activity of His grace, to be permanently enjoyed with Himself, according to His eternal purpose. It is this which legitimately gives birth to song, and it is as natural to the saints of God, as for a bird to carol when the shades of night are chased away by the morning sun. And what a song was that we are considering for compass and for power! How it must have gladdened for the moment the heart of God, as it ascended from the serried ranks of Israel, fresh from their baptism unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea! How suggestive of all the after-consequences of what God had achieved! For the first time an indulgent God permits us to speak of a habitation amongst His redeemed family for Himself; such a thought could only be acceptable to Him in connection with a people set apart as they, by blood and by power. Had Israel but understood its rich and precious import, what a cheering, invigorating, thought would it have been to their hearts, that Jehovah of hosts would deign to dwell in a habitation they should build for Him in their midst, the God of such sheltering grace, and such wonder-working power! “Glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders” —consistently enough do we now for the first time hear of “holiness.” God was pleased to withhold the revelation of this attribute of His character until redemption had been typically accomplished, for not only is it one of His attributes, but through grace are we made partakers of it, and without it shall not see Him! How beautifully, then, is it in keeping with His blessed ways that He should first present it as based upon the great redemption work!
In short, the song is the celebration of victory, in view of the full accomplishment of the counsels of God for Israel, and also typically for us. It accordingly takes no account of the wilderness, which is no part of His counsels, but rather of His ways; but the crossing of the Jordan enters into it (ver. 16), and the conquest of Canaan, the setting up of His sanctuary in the land, and the establishment of His kingdom on earth. Thus the habitation for Him, in verse 2, contemplates the temple in Zion, and concurrently with this, for the first time we hear of the Lord's reign—in a word, His house and His throne in Jerusalem. All the special features of God's counsels of blessing to Israel are thus before us in this divine carol: salvation for a redeemed people, a habitation for God in their midst, God revealed in holiness, the enemy dashed in pieces, the Jordan crossed, all opposition subdued, the land enjoyed, Jehovah King forever and ever!
In conclusion, how beautiful and how significant is the fact that, though they sang in the wilderness, it was as upon resurrection ground, and thus they sang not a word about it. Faith, privileged to be occupied with the counsels of God, bridged all the distance from the sea to the promised land, from the cross to the glory. Not a note could be raised until the vanquished enemy sunk “as a stone,” and the people were free; but when that was achieved, the song which God inspired, and which Moses led them to take up on the farther shore of the sea, raised melodies in the desert which shall reverberate in mightier volume throughout eternity
For us, along with this, a sweeter song is reserved (Rev. 5:9.) Here are our hearts tutored in its touching strains, its tender cadence, and, as in spirit, already within the scene which ever opens freshly to faith, and where alone it can be fully rendered, we rehearse, but all too feebly, its heavenly harmonies. May He who is the burden of our song forever inspire, as He loves to do, our poor hearts to take up in loftier notes its blessed refrain, as the sweetest privilege we know this side the glory! R.

Righteousness and Peace: Part 2

Rom. 3:19-28; 4:23; 5:1-11
If you plant a tree in your garden, and want to know what it is, you wait and see what kind of fruit it bears. What then was the fruit produced by man? The latter half of Rom. 1 to the first half of chapter 3 is the answer. Read first that awful category of evil, which blackens the page of ancient history, for these are historical facts, and facts, I may add, that live to this moment. Who but God knows the sin and the misery in this town the groanings of those poor brokenhearted wives and children, the wickedness which is crushing hearts into the dust, even here and now? Will you say that some were better than that? The apostle answers by going on to show, that there were those who were in the schools of philosophy and the seats of government, moralists, magistrates, and the like, who assumed to judge of right and wrong, but then the very things which they condemned they practiced themselves. Then he proceeds to prove that the chosen people, the Jews, were no better. They might have God's law, but they broke it before all the world. Is not this terrible, that professors are no better than the world which makes no profession at all? If a man kept the law it would be excellent, but what good is it if not kept except to condemn the man who is under it? He then quotes in chapter iii. the Jewish scriptures, to prove that they were as bad as, and so more guilty than the Gentiles. The aim and the object of all this must inevitably be, not to improve man's case, but to demonstrate what it is. Yet the fact that man has no righteousness whatever, no strength, that he is the slave of sin and of Satan, utterly dead to everything that is good before God, his heart and his ways as well, yet the very badness of his condition commends the righteousness of God. The greatest sinner that bows to God is welcome to the Lord Jesus, because he is the Savior of the lost.
Still, how can a righteous Judge justify a sinner? how get over from his sins righteously? How is God righteous in justifying the believer? What then is righteousness? Righteousness is what one does consistently with relationship. Holiness is what one is according to God's nature. If the righteousness of man is what he does, the righteousness of God is what God does, or has done. Now man is found to have no righteousness at all, nor is there anything but sin in him, and the law brings it out evidently in transgression; so that, as you know, the more a man tries to keep the law, the more he finds himself breaking it. Nay, I will go farther, and assert that when you come and question a man converted if not delivered you will find the same principle true. As I, the other day, asked of a lady elsewhere, How can God say to us, “There is therefore now no condemnation?” “This,” she said, “is just my difficulty, for the longer I live the more I condemn myself.” Look at a Christian or at an unconverted person, the difficulty remains. How can you as a man stand before God and say that there is nothing in you that He can condemn when you are every day condemning yourself? Did you ever abhor yourself so much as to say, “Oh! that I had never been born?” As you walked along the streets, did you wish to sink into the earth from the gaze of men? If this was your judgment of yourself, what, think you, will God say to you, who knows the very thoughts of the heart, and every sin, infinitely better than you? God who cannot look on sin with the least allowance? Does He say of you, “I do not see anything in that person that I can condemn?”
Let us see how this can be, this wonderful non-imputation. But we shall have to take it bit by bit, “line upon line, and precept upon precept.” How can God justify the very worst sinner before Him here? It will not do to try to mend your case, so as to make it look as well as possible, for God knows all about it far better than you do yourself.
I will illustrate my meaning by an anecdote, which may help you to see this a little more plainly. A German prince was visiting the prisons at Toulon, and, in honor of the presence of so great a personage, the governor gave him liberty to pardon one prisoner. “Well,” said the prince, “you must give me time to go round the prisoners, that I may select my man; I do not want to act at random, but must see who is fit for it.” Permission was given to visit and examine the criminals; and, as he went round, he asked each one of his case. “What brought you here?” “Oh!” said the first prisoner, “my offense was not a very bad one, only a trifle, but the jury and the judge were against me, and they made my case out much worse than it really was; I did not deserve nearly so heavy a punishment as I got.” “This will not do,” said the prince. Number 2 made his case look still better, and Number 3 said he was not guilty at all; he had been arrested and convicted on a fable charge! At last he came to a poor broken-hearted-looking fellow; and on asking, “Well, what brought you here?” “Oh!” said the poor man, in anguish, “I was the greatest wretch that ever lived, and my punishment has not been half so great as it ought to be; I deserve to be broken to pieces on the wheel. You do not know how wicked I have been, and it is a mercy I am here at all.” “That is the man for the pardon,” said the prince. Why? Because he was honest and upright, not like the rest trying to make their ease look as well as possible, but confessing the truth. The upright man is the man who owns the truth, and he is the man to be pardoned.
We see this distinctly in Job 33:27: “He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and have perverted that which was right, and it profited me not, he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” “I have sinned:” this is uprightness. A sinner's uprightness consists in owning his condition. God says he is a sinner, and his uprightness is to own it. This is the way God is going to aim some at this time. The truth must be out, and owned, as to what you are. God will not, as it were, electro-plate you over, and make you look like silver, when you are nothing but dross. The very first step in the conversion of a soul is the owning of his sins before God, not to your fellow-man, not to a priest, but to God. Sin confessed is sin forgiven. Do you say, “I never thought that before; I thought I had to become better in order to be fit to be forgiven?” You have been occupied with your own thoughts about yourself, with self-righteousness; but what we have to bring before you is God's gospel about His Son, and God's righteousness revealed in it. If you put yourself under law to obtain righteousness, and God deals with you on the ground you take, He must curse you. Now where is the man who will take this position under law, when God has already been at such pains to show how bad we are, and how utterly powerless to keep it? The world stands already guilty before God; how can it be anything else? It has murdered the Son of God. Man cannot be more guilty.
Measured thus, can he do worse than he had done? He has been tried in every way, and shown to be entirely worthless in all. What further trial is necessary or conceivable? He cannot be made worse, nor can he do worse than is already done. Hence, when I hear of dreadful crimes committed by men, through allowing their evil passions to flow over, I am not in the least surprised; for my heart turns to a still worse exhibition of human evil—to the cross of Christ. And the guilt is as bad, or worse, of disbelieving it. Every rejecter of Christ is morally judged already, just because he is not subject to the Son. (John 3:36.) “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” If you are not justified by God on His principle of faith, then you must be condemned by the righteousness of God, which will by-and-by judge those whom it does not justify now. God must act in consistency with all His attributes, and every person stands justified or judged morally—one of the two.
Now God is absolutely consistent in what He has done. He has given the Son, His Son, the Creator of heaven and earth; He has set Him forth as a mercy-seat. There was in the mercy-seat wood and gold, symbols of the humanity and the divinity of Christ; and the boards rested on sockets of silver, made from the redemption-money. Redemption is the basis of all. The blood was shed, and sprinkled on the gold of the mercy-seat, and before it. There was thus a place where God could righteously remit sins and pardon sinners. The blood of the Son of God has been shed, and accepted; and God now sends out the gospel in virtue of the infinite sacrifice of His Son, by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, to every creature on earth; He is perfectly righteous in proclaiming forgiveness of sins to every soul that believes, and He put on every believer the whole value of the person and work of Christ. Thus does He accept the believer, not according to what he is, but according to what Christ is and has done.
God comes out now, and deals with men on the ground of the death of the Lord Jesus. This death shows how God forbore to judge, and could justify, saints of old, the Abrahams and the Davids, on the ground of what was to come. But if Abraham could look forward in faith to what God would do, we have to declare unto you; what is still more blessed, what God has done. If we believe on Him who raised Jesus from the dead, righteousness is reckoned to us. Believing God about His Son, in virtue of the death and the resurrection of Christ, we stand righteous in the presence of God. Such is the efficacy of Christ and His work. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” (Rom. 5:1.)
The last time I was in Glasgow, a lady said to me after the preaching, “I do not understand it; but I have been seeking peace with God for many months, indeed for some years, and I cannot find it.” My answer was simply, “Peace with God is a thing that you will never find in yourself: God never produces it in any human heart.” “I do not know quite what you mean,” she said. “Well, suppose you had a garden,” I said, “and in that garden an old dead tree, and you tried to produce apples on that old tree; you could not. Impossible to get any fruit from a dead tree. But suppose a friend brings a basket of apples from a living tree, and gives them to you, it is a very different thing, is it not? In fact peace is a thing you cannot grow in your garden; it is not produced in our hearts, but given by God to you.” And the poor woman said, “Why, then, I must go home and pray for it?” “No,” said I, “peace is preached to you, not prayed for; God gives it to faith as distinctly as a person gives you a basket of apples.” Peace is not something grown in the heart, but made by the blood of Christ's cross, and given to the believer. Are you without spot in the presence of God? And are you quite sure there never can be a cloud nor a spot upon you there Unless you have got Christ thus, you have not peace solidly. Can this be found in man's heart?
But I must ask you for a few moments to drop your religious life, or anything concerning yourself. Let not self occupy you in the least, but let every eye be fixed now on Another. Turn to two scriptures that are well known, probably, to all here; for I wish to read to you things that you know, that you may get to know things that you do not know. In Isa. 53 we have the death of Christ distinctly foretold. “He was wounded for our transgressions.” See also Zech. 13, where we find that in the latter days the Jews are to ask, “What are those wounds?” and He replies that He received them in the house of His friends. This will be the discovery to the Jews in those days, as I pray it may be also to many a soul here now. But fix your eye on the person of the Lord Jesus. I do not dwell on the sorrows of His life, as given in the opening verses, but come at once to the great point—His death—in Isa. 53:5. Now, do you really believe that the Lord was judged, condemned, bruised, put to death for our sins “He was delivered for our offenses.” Not the Jews did so, save instrumentally, but God really. Do we believe that? Forget yourselves altogether, and look at the Son of God under divine judgment on the Cross. Did He not cry from the center of that darkness which foil at least on the land, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Whatever needed to be judged in me has been judged and condemned to the uttermost, beneath the stroke of unsparing judgment, in the adorable Substitute. Read Isa. 50:6-8. Did God help Him? Did He not justify Him? Not, of course, from aught His own—sins He had none. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us.” The very sin of our nature was judged on Him. For this the holy, the infinite, Son of God bowed His head in death, and His body was laid in the grave among the dead, Aaron's rod, you remember, was laid among the other rods, but it alone budded. So with Christ: He was laid down among the dead, but lies He there yet? Is He condemned yet? Is He bearing sins still? Far be the thought. God raised Him from the dead. The King of Righteousness arose, the everlasting gates opened, the King of Glory ascended, entered, and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. But not this only: “He was raised from the dead for our justification.” The Man that was condemned to the cross, that bare our sins, that cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” the Lord of glory, has finished the work given Him to do, and God has raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His own right hand. Was it not “for us?” Tell me, do you think He has peace with God? Look not at yourselves, but at Him. What do you mean by peace with God? There is One seated in the unclouded presence of God, where a cloud or shadow can never come, that One, the beginning and head of a new creation, crowned once with thorns, now with glory, and this, too, after bearing in His own body our sins. He is seated in the unclouded presence of God. Can sin and death have any more to say to Him? Do not you think he has peace? Assuredly; and more than that, if I turn to Eph. 2:14 I find something still more blessed: “He is our peace.” And if He is our peace, the peace that He has in the presence of God is ours, not as a thing apart from Himself, but His very Person in glory is the believer's peace.
(To be continued, if the Lord will.)

Pauline Greeting

We have now to inquire why in some of Paul's epistles the salutation is only in his name; some have merely, “Grace be with you,” and others a fuller form.
1 Timothy alone is individual, σοῦ. In Titus it is, “be with you all.” The general fact stands thus: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” or our Lord Jesus Christ, which last is more general (2 Corinthians adding, love of God and fellowship of the Holy Ghost), found in Rom. 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Phil. 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon; “Grace be with you,” or with you all, in Ephesians, Col. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, The former seems more elaborate and formal from one sitting down to address them as an apostle commissioned so to teach them from Christ, and speaking from Him in a didactic way; the latter, the personal expression of his own feeling, the wish of his heart. He had finished what he had to say, and then closes by wishing them grace, a natural feeling. The former was a formal part of the epistle, and which he added formally. In the latter he had finished what he had to say, and wishes them grace. In 1 and 2 Timothy this is natural, and in Titus.
There remain only Ephesians, Colossians, and Hebrews. In Eph. 6:24 it is clearly a distinct and personal wish of his heart, as is manifest from what precedes, and it closes according to the former character, and the objects which follow. So in Colossians it is expressly his personal salutation, written with his own hand. The same character is in Hebrews, which is in fact a treatise, not an epistle. What is epistolary, the last verses, is finished. Ephesians and Colossians are pretty much treatises too, but addressed formally to certain saints. Romans is in a great measure a treatise, but in an epistolary form, the last part fully so, and the salutation forms part of it.

Difference of Romans 12 and Ephesians 5

The beginnings of Rom. 12 and of Eph. 5 are evidently different, and the difference is not only interesting, but according to the tenor of the epistles.
In Romans the Spirit looks for an entire separation to God as men on earth, the giving up of self in consecration to Him as a living sacrifice. I am a man here, and am to be as one offered up to God. But love, as going out, does not come in here. We living men give ourselves by grace up to God.
In Ephesians we are sitting in heavenly places, and come out from God as Christ did, and that in love. And this is the direct connection, we forgiving and forbearing, as God in Christ did. Do you therefore, says the apostle, be imitators of God, and walk in love, as Christ did, giving Himself for us.
Hence in Romans we are responsible men, giving ourselves up to God as in the world. In Ephesians we are children of God, dear children, who are to imitate Him according to the great pattern, Christ, the Son of God, come out from the Father, giving Himself for us, which is love, only to God as a sacrifice, which maintains absolute perfection as the One in view in doing so. The new creation had been brought out before, after God, in righteousness and true holiness. Here, when the Spirit of God is brought in, love, according to the divine nature, is to display itself, and does so in a remarkable character and place, Christ being the absolutely perfect model of it. Romans puts us on the ground of proving His will, Ephesians of displaying His character, going forth in love as Christ, though always with a view of pleasing God, which makes the motive perfect.

Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy is a recital to the people, not simply a reiteration of the commandments. Hence in its solemn reference to the commandments the addition of motives, which, clearly are no part of the commandment. Unbelief is blind, as well as bold and bad.

Notes on Job 32-33

A new, and hitherto unnoticed, person joins the great debate, now that even Job is silent. It is not that he only just enters the scene, for he soon gives the fullest proof that one present had listened more attentively to all that had been urged, and very especially to his arguments who had stopped the mouths of those that misjudged him. He is careful to apologize for his own intervention, and would evidently have preferred to listen, if any one older than himself had produced matter relevant to the question, and adequate to expose the not infrequent occasions in which the sufferer had been provoked into impropriety. There is no lack of moral courage or of force in dealing with Job's actual words and line of thought. Whilst he avoids insinuating evil of which none knew, he does not spare where there was too high a thought of self, or a lack of reverence toward God, in one under His correcting hand. He has juster thoughts as to the divine discipline of the soul than any one of the interlocutors, not excepting Job himself, who had not yet been brought down to the true place of nothingness before God. The introduction and first discourse of Elihu go down to the end of chapter 33.
Chapter 32.
And these three men ceased answering Job, because he [was] righteous in his own eyes. And the anger of Elihu, son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Barn, burned: against Job his anger burned, because of his justifying himself rather than God; and against his three friends his anger burned, because they found no answer, yet condemned Job. And Elihu had waited for Job in words [that is, till Job had spoken], because they [were] older than he in days; and Elihu saw that [there was] no answer in the mouth of the three men, and his anger burned. And Elihu, son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said,
I [am] young in days, and ye [are] aged:
Therefore I did shrink,
And feared to show you mine opinion.
I said, Let days speak, and the multitude of years teach wisdom.
Surely the spirit [it is] in mortal man,
And the breath of Shaddai giveth them wit.
Not the great [in years] are wise,
Nor do the aged understand judgment.
Therefore I say, Hearken to me;
I will declare my knowledge, even I,
Lo! I have waited for your words,
I gave ear to your reasons,
Until ye might search out replies,
And to you I gave attention;
And, behold, there is none that refuteth Job,
That among you answereth his sayings,
Lest ye should say, We have found wisdom.
God shall drive him away, not man.
But at me he directed no word,
And with your words I answer him not.
They broke down, they answer not again,
Words are fled away from them;
And I waited, but they did not speak,
For they ceased, they answered no more.
I also will answer my part,
I also will declare mine opinion.
For I am full of words;
The spirit of my inwards constraineth me.
Behold, my inwards [are] like wine not opened,
Like fresh wine-skins it is working.
I will speak, that I may be refreshed,
I will open my lips, and answer.
Let me not, I pray you, accept any one's face.
Neither to man will I give flattering titles.
For I know not to give flattering titles;
[Else] my Maker would soon take me away.
Chapter 33.
Notwithstanding, Job I pray thee, hear my speech,
And hearken to my every word.
Behold, I pray thee, I opened my mouth,
My tongue speaketh in my palate.
My words [shall be] the uprightness of my heart,
And my knowledge shall my lips utter purely.
The Spirit of God hath made me,
And the breath of Shaddai gave me life.
If thou canst, answer me;
Draw up before me, take thy stand.
Lo! I am God's, as thou;
Out of clay was I also formed.
Behold, my terror will not affright thee,
And my hand shall not be heavy on then.
Surely thou hast said in mine ears,
And I heard the voice of the words:
I am pure, without transgression,
I [am] clean, and have no iniquity:
Lo! He findeth hostilities against me,
He counteth me as His enemy;
He putteth my feet into the stocks;
He watcheth all my ways.
Behold, in this thou art not right, I answer thee;
For God [Eloah] is greater than a mortal.
Why hast thou contended against Him?
For He answereth not of all His matters.
When God [El] speaketh once, and twice—
[Man] regardeth it not—
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
When deep sleep falleth on mortals,
In slumberings on the bed;
Then He openeth the ear of mortals,
And sealeth up their instruction,
To withdraw man [from] doing;
And pride from man he concealeth.
He keepeth back his soul from corruption,
And his life from passing away by the dart.
He is also chastised with pains on his bed,
And the strife of his bones [is] lasting.
And his life loatheth bread,
And his soul meat of desire.
His flesh wasteth out of sight,
And his bones that were not seen stand out,
And his soul draweth near to corruption,
And his life to the destroyers.
If there be by him a messenger,
An interpreter, one of a thousand,
To declare To man His uprightness;
And He is gracious to him, and saith,
Deliver him from going down to corruption:
I have found a ransom.
His flesh [is] fresher than childhood,
He returneth to the days of his youth.
He supplicateth [Eloah] God,
And He accepteth him.
And he shall see His face with rejoicing,
And He requiteth to mortal man His righteousness.
He singeth before mortals, and saith,
I sinned and perverted right, and it satisfied me not.
He ransomed my soul from passing to corruption,
And my life looketh on the light.
Lo! all these worketh God [El] twice, thrice, with man,
To bring back his soul from corruption,
That be may be enlightened with the light of life.
Attend, O Job, hearken to me;
Be silent, and I shall speak.
If thou hast words, answer me—
Speak, for I have a desire to justify thee.
If not, hearken thou unto me;
Keep silence, and I will teach thee wisdom.
Jerome, or the pseudo-Jerome (Opera, ed. Vail. iii., App. 895 et seqq.), seems to have led the way in attacking the new speaker, as others followed, including the venerable Bede, who confounded him with Balaam; a Jewish writer dared to count him Satan in disguise; whilst too many to name, Protestants and Catholics, down to our own time, held a view of him only less disparaging. But those who weigh far more in godliness and discernment see in him one who brings a juster and more comprehensive appraisal of Job and his friends, and the first real insight, displayed in the book, of the place and aim of discipline through suffering.
The opening verses of chapter 32 show the deep emotion and displeasure of Elihu at the unsatisfactory issue of the discussion, unprofitable to man, and not to the honor of God; whereas, comparatively young as he was, he could not but feel a burning desire for the reproof of what was rash and wrong on man's part, and for the vindication of God's character and glory. But if Elihu feels reluctantly forced to speak in presence of men from whom he would gladly have learned, if they could have taught, the mind of God, he is careful to stand only for what comes from God. He is taught, as never before, how spiritual wisdom is of God's spirit, not of man's age. It is the very reverse of self-confidence or vain-glory, though out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks.
On what other ground, could a younger speak, and speak in terms corrective of all who had gone before? His silence, sustained till even Job had no more to say, broken when Job, no less than his friends, could not but feel that the riddle was as yet unexplained, is the strongest proof how little he deserves censure as bold, forward, officious, conceited, arrogant, boastful, and I know not what more; while the scope of his remarks exposes the folly of those philosophizing dreamers who brand as an aimless and unanswered talker left in the shade that he merited. One can only reply that all men have not faith, and that such as thus judge of scripture manifest a mind void of discernment, and scarce anywhere more than in a verdict like this on Elihu. He certainly sets in the most vivid light the total failure of those who had condemned Job without confuting him, and not without insinuations which condemned themselves. He feels that, as being unassailed by the sufferer, and in no way sharing their uncharitableness, he is in a position to lay bare not a little that was uncomely and presumptuous. He was amazed at the total rout of the friends, when he could not but own how much was in his heart claiming utterance irrepressibly, without respect of persons, and in the fear of God.
But he addresses himself, above all, to Job, to whom he was about to speak with all possible candor. He did not set himself up unbecomingly, speaking of what he could not know, but as man to man, wholly dependent on God. He did not judge, but would fain appeal to him, and plead with him, as belonging to God, just like himself, and as he, a fellow-creature made of clay, so that awe had no place, but weight of truth only. (Compare chap. 13:21.) For this already had Job expressed the longing desire, even though he had too boldly declared his readiness to litigate with Him who is over all. In disputing God's dealings with him, in asserting his own purity, without aught amiss, in imputing ungracious, capricious, arbitrary ways to God, Job had evidently put himself in the wrong. It is enough to answer that God is greater than weak man, and is necessarily sovereign, giving none account of His matters. Yet He speaks to man, slow to hear His voice, in dreams and visions of the night, to open the ear, and seal instruction, so as to restrain man from activity and pride: also by chastenings of bodily sickness and pain, for the awakening of the soul, when all else becomes distasteful. But most fully does He use a messenger, as interpreting his mind, however rarely found, to let man see his uprightness, as well as how gracious He is, in delivering from what is incomparably worse, by virtue of what He had ever before Him (Rom. 3:25), when the guilty one, now won to God, returns to more than wonted health, enjoys lowly, happy intercourse with Him, and gives a testimony, humbling but bright, to his fellows of the undeserved mercy that delivers.
Such are the ways frequent with God, by dreams, chastenings, and messengers, to arouse man to a due sense of himself before God, and thereby rescue him from corruption, that he may be enlightened with the light of life. It is intelligible that men, no matter how erudite or superstitions, who knew not the gospel nor even the Spirit's application of the law to their own condition, should overlook the value of this wonderful appeal from Elihu, himself doing the part of the interpreter with Job, the appeal of a man's heart purified by faith to unfeigned love, and filled with the sense of God's goodness, rich in resources to arrest the self-willed madness of the race. The everlasting gospel had its witness in Elihu, as surely as Noah preached righteousness to the ungodly antediluvians, whose judgment of old was not idle, nor did their destruction slumber. Mark the personal earnestness of the man, equally ready to listen as to speak, if by any means the soul should be won to a better appreciation of God, and therefore importunate in repeated calls, which weary all who share not the like love of souls for the Lord's sake. He was only the truer, and more effective also, because he never dreams of sparing sin, even in word or thought, and was quick to feel for His honor who is the spring of all that is good. Not one of the disputants shows such a reckoning on grace in God as this young and valiant champion of the truth.

Notes on John 13:23-30

The announcement of a traitor among the twelve troubled the disciples and led to anxious thought, as they looked one on another. What a testimony to His perfect grace who had known it all along, and had given no sign of distrust or aversion! How solemn for the saints who have to do with the same unchanging One day by day! Nothing precipitates into the enemy's hands more than grace abused and sin indulged, while outwardly one is in the presence of the only One whose life rebukes it absolutely. Let us look a little into the scene.
“[Now]” there was at table one of his disciples in the bosom of Jesus whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter then beckoneth to this one and saith to him, Tell who it is of whom he speaketh. He then having just fallen back on the breast of Jesus saith to him, Lord, who is it? Jesus [then] answereth, That one it is to whom I, having dipped the morsel, shall give [it]. Having then dipped he giveth the morsel to Judas [son] of Simon Iscariot. And after the morsel Satan then entered into him. Jesus then saith to him, What thou doest do more quickly. But no one of those at table knew why he said this to him; for some supposed because Judas had the bag that Jesus saith to him, Buy the things that we have need of for the feast, or that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the morsel went out immediately; and it was night.” (Vers. 23-30.)
Peter and John are often seen together. So here in their perplexity Simon Peter beckons to John as he reclined at table in the bosom of Jesus; for that John and no other was this favored disciple cannot be doubted from chapters 19:26; 20:22; 21:7,20,24. And how truly of the Spirit that one enjoying such favor should describe himself, not as loving Jesus, though indeed he did, but as beloved by Him, and this too as the disciple whom Jesus loved, withholding his name as here and elsewhere of small account, though plainly described at the close, where needed, and named where men might deny the authorship as they have done I It is intimacy with Jesus that gathers secrets, but imparts them, for others' good. Falling back just as he was on the breast of Jesus, John asks who it is; and the Lord answers, not in word only but with a sign, strikingly according to Psa. 41:9, though an even more special mark of intimacy. In Judas' state that token of love only hardened the conscience long seared by secret sin, which shut out from the heart all sense of love. His very familiarity with Christ's passing through the snares and dangers of a hostile world may have suggested that so it would be now with his Master, while he himself might reap the reward of his treachery; the knowledge of His grace, without heart for it, may have led him to hope for mercy he had never known refused to the most guilty. The moment comes when holy love becomes unbearable to him who never relished it; and the sin he preferred blinded his mind and hardened his heart to that which had otherwise touched the most callous. “After the morsel, then Satan entered into him.” The devil had already put it into his heart to deliver the Lord up; now, after receiving without horror or self-judgment the last token of his Master's love the enemy entered. At being thus designated, there may have been irritation, which if retained gives room for the devil, even in ordinary cases, much more in his who had trifled with unfailing grace, and thus forgot wholly His glory, as he had ever been insensible to God's nature and his own sin. Jesus then saith to him, What thou art doing do more quickly, that is, sooner than was indicated by his pretension to share the doubts of the disciples or to join in what was before their hearts.
Never does God thus abandon to Satan poor man, however wretched and sinful, till he rejects His love and holiness and truth, above all shown in the Lord Jesus and this Gospel. There He may and does judicially harden, and this to irretrievable ruin, but only after the heart has steeled itself to the appeals of His most patient goodness. Still judicial hardening is a real thing on God's part, whatever may be argued by those who seem unwilling to allow frankly and fully the activity of God on the one hand and of Satan on the other. Not a whit better is the opposite school which seems to banish from conscience the solemn fact of responsibility, whether in a man or in a Christian, or as here in one who, though in the unremoved darkness of a man, drew so near the Son of God, the personal expression in man of all God's light and love. We have heard already how deeply our Lord felt the sin of Judas as the Moment approached and the design was allowed in his heart. Now the sentence goes forth, which closed the door of life for the earth on the Savior—of everlasting wrath on Judas. Yet did the disciples look on and listen without knowing the awfulness of the issues then pending. Not even John penetrated the meaning of words soon to be clear to all. It was not to buy things needful, but to sell their Lord and Master; it was no preparation for the feast but that to which it, not they, had ever looked onward, the fulfillment of God's mind and purpose in it, though it were the Jews crucifying their own Messiah, by the hand of lawless men; it was not that Judas should give to the poor—the last thing which would occupy his mind, but that He should who was rich yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. It was man's, a disciple's, worst sin; it was God's infinite love, both meeting in the death of the. Lord on the cross; but where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
Judas then having received the morsel immediately wept out. What darkness rested thenceforward on that soul! “It was night,” says our evangelist. And that night deepened in its horrors on the faithless man; given to see his irreparable evil only when done, till it closed on his going to his own place.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 1:21-24

The apostle refutes yet more the insinuation of uncertainty in his preaching, by the drawing out, not merely of the verification of the truth, and accomplishment of all God's promises in Christ, but of our firm association with it all in Him.
“Now he that establisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us is [God], who also sealed us, and gave the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (Ver. 21.) It is not man's own will or effort that is able to secure us Christward, nor, consequently, is it a mere question of his fickleness, feebleness, or failure in any way. He that binds us fast to Christ is God; and the emphasis is all the greater, because God is expressed, not objectively, but as a predicate. It is truly surprising, then, that a professed commentator, and a distinguished scholar, should have said that ὁ δὲ βεβ....ἡμᾶς is the (prefixed) predicate, and θεὀς the subject; for this is to reverse all that is certain in the language, and to lose the true force of what is here insisted on. Had ὁ δὲ β.....ἡμᾶς been affixed to θεὀς, instead of prefixed, the sense had been the same, the order of the words in a sentence affecting it only as a matter of emphasis, and in no way disturbing the relation of the subject to the predicate, which it is the chief function of the article to distinguish. Compare chapter 5:5, where a precisely similar construction occurs. Nor is this a casual mistake, for it re-appears no less distinctly in the comment on Heb. 3:4, where θεὀς is said to be the subject, and ὁ πάντα κατασκευάσας the predicate, though it is allowed that the ancient expositors, almost without exception, take θ. as predicate, and ὁ π. κ. as a designation of Christ, thus making the passage a proof of His deity. It ought not to be disputed that in all these, or the like, instances, the object before the mind, or subject of each proposition, designated as operating in the way described, as to either the saints or the universe, is declared to be God. Man is excluded by the nature of the case, as in Hebrews; or he that is said so to act is affirmed to be God, for the confirmation of the saints, as here. Had it been ὁ θ. in these cases, the propositions would have been reciprocal, and either might have been viewed as subject or as predicate. But the effect of the absence of the article is to characterize Him who works as is described in each instance. He as divine is God: a very different statement from saying that God so works.
Here, then, it is laid down that He who firmly attaches us to Christ is God, as elsewhere we are declared to be in Him. Man is weak and vacillating, and yet more in deed than in word; but He who binds fast unto Christ is God, and this, not the strong only, but the weakest, as needing most such securing grace and power. Hence, in a love that rises above all that wounds the spirit, the apostle adds, as coupling the saints in Corinth with himself and Timothy, “He that establisheth us with you.” Christ for both was the impregnable fortress, the rock that never can be moved.
But more than this follows: we are anointed as believers, we receive the unction from the Holy One, whereby, as John says, we know all things. God anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power the Lord Jesus, who went about doing good and healing that were oppressed by the devil. (See Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27, 28.) To us who believe it is rather energy of communion with His revealed mind; still the Spirit given is of power, and love, and a sound mind; and He that anointed us is not man, but God. Hence, as the apostle with the last hour before his eyes says, the unction as surely abides as it teaches us of all things. It is no transient display of power over Satan outwardly, no qualification of apostles only, as some have thought. It is the permanent privilege of the Christian for his own soul's entrance into the revealed mind of God; and “the babes” (τὰ παιδία) have it as truly, if not so manifestly, as the most mature. The apostles and prophets of the New Testament received, of course, gift or energy for their work; but they are never said to be “anointed” as such.
But our apostle tells us that God also “sealed us, and gave the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” Not as if the Spirit were given in so many distinct epochs according to the difference of His operation. The gift of the Spirit to us, as believing in Christ and resting on His redemption, is really the powerful source of all. He that establishes us in Christ, and anointed no, as we had seen, also sealed us, and gave us the earnest. The Father, even God, sealed the Son of man. This, we can easily understand, was only meet, for He was not only from eternity but as man His Son, the constant and perfect object of His delight. But how could we be sealed who were in sin and wretchedness, the marked contrast of the Lord Jesus? His redemption completely delivers us from Satan's thraldom, and we are not only born of God and His eons, but washed from our sins in His blood, and sin in the flesh is condemned in His death as a sacrifice, as truly as ourselves forgiven. Hence, in virtue of that work, God also sealed us, and gave the “earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” The Holy Spirit is not only the seal of redemption, but the pledge of the inheritance. The meaning is in no way the Spirit given in measure as the earnest of more. He is the witness of what has been done and accepted on our behalf; He is also the foretaste of the glory that is assuredly to follow. And all things are of God, who sent first His Son, that every promise should be verified, and then His Spirit, that we who believe should be brought into the security, knowledge, and enjoyment of all this blessedness, past, present, or to come, in Christ our Lord.
Having thus turned in grace the Corinthian disparagement of his own word to the praise of the gospel, the apostle next passes, with great solemnity, to explain his real motive for not coming before to their city. “But I call God as witness upon my soul, that to spare you I did not yet come unto Corinth; not that we rule over your faith, but are fellow-workers of your joy, for by faith ye stand.” (Vers. 23, 24.) Had he come before, it must have been with a rod. (Cf. 1 Cor. 4:21.) Desirous of uniting them in love, and in a spirit of meekness, he had deferred his coming till grace had wrought self-judgment among them. The delay, and turning elsewhere meanwhile, furnished the occasion for unworthy insinuations, already touched on. It was really as sparing them he did not come; but he carefully guards against the charge of assuming undue authority; “not that we rule over your faith, but are fellow-workers of your joy.” Nothing is truly done that is not in the soul before God. Even an apostle like Paul or John sought not for a moment to step between the faithful and God. The apostles communicated His mind, that the saints might have the same assurance of it as themselves, and so their joy be full. “For by faith ye stand.” So it must be in order to please God. Without faith it is impossible. It is not by the fear or favor of men, however blessed, that the saints stand, but by faith. A fellow helper of their joy, he would rather expose himself to the charge of changing his mind, if any were low enough so to think and speak of him, than to deal harshly with them, as he in faithfulness must, had he come as he first purposed. He waited, that the word of God might work its salutary aim, mixed with faith in those who heard it. He wished to do his work with joy, and not groaning, for this would be unprofitable for them. Was this to lord it over them, as proud men might allege? It was to further their joy of faith, as their servant for Jesus' sake.

Discourses on Colossians 3

We get here the great groundwork of Christian life, and the development of Christian life itself, both negatively and positively—what we put off, and what we put on.
It is of all moment for us, not only to understand it as stated in scripture, but to have the statements of scripture transferred to our hearts and consciences, that we are in an entirely new creation, “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” So the first man was made in the image of God, though now a lost ruined creature. In death and resurrection man gets a new place altogether, not only quickened, but quickened together with Christ. A man may be quickened as to the state of his mind, and yet think he is alive in the world, which is the very thing we are not. As to our condition before God, we do not belong to the life that is on this side of death. A new life may be given, and the man left down here; but Christ is looked at as a man who has died here, after having come into our place, taken the judgment, the cup, and gone away beyond it; and this is our place; not as to our bodies, of course, for we have the treasure in earthen vessels, waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our bodies; but our place in faith and in life is Christ's place, the second Man's place, and not the first man's. If our bodies, it is the first; if our souls, it is the second. We are taken out of the old place by redemption. I repeat it, for it is very important for the apprehension of faith, that Christ the Son, a divine person, communicated life, but Christ died, and now we are quickened together with Him. The place we were in by sin and disobedience, He was in for us, and having perfected the work needed to redeem us, we are taken up into the place where He is, and when He comes to raise the dead, we shall be there actually. Now it is putting on the character of Christ, then it will be actually the thing in glory.
All through, the teaching here is not simply that we are born of God, but raised with Christ, He as man actually thee, and it is the basis of Christianity to understand it, and the love that gave Him too. We have to watch and deny the ways of the old man; he seeks a place in the world, likes consideration, &c.; but Christ took the lowest place, and calls us to follow Him. As to our place with God, it is as near Him as Christ is. “If you died with Christ, how can you be alive spiritually in this world?” It is very strong as to a Christian's place; the world is always soliciting the Christian back into it; it is an immense system which Satan has built up to act on the flesh and to hide God. This cannot satisfy conscience, and therefore, when a. man's conscience is awakened, he bows his head as a bulrush—saying, “Shall I give the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” and gets under ordinances. He has not got out in spirit and state from this world—not dead to it; it is the religion Paul had when he was Saul the Pharisee. An unconverted man can do these things better than a converted one, for the latter has too much thought to be satisfied, though he may be doing it. He may go on his knees, and be vexed and angry if you do not think well of him for it: he is making out his religion as a living man, not as a redeemed man.
Man is a religious animal, it is a necessity of man's heart. His reason may reason him out of the want of God, but there it remains at the bottom, and breaks out again, as it was after the French revolution, It is part of man's nature to have to say to God; it is the consciousness that he cannot supply his own needs in this world, and must turn to a God above him. It may be miserably corrupted, but man wants help, he wants to look up. The devil used this to let him make gods of his passions; but in man's nature is a craving after God, and man, when not set free by the work of redemption, will be religious; it is Pharisaism—there have always been Pharisees. It is just ritualism, alive in the world, and subject to ordinances, not dead with Christ. (Chap. 2:21,22.) I may fancy there are precious mysteries in these things, but they are all to perish with the using, and therefore the old nature makes its religion in them. “A shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.” They go back to the shadows, as if they were something real, and are subject to ordinances; man's will is in it, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. It is to the satisfying of the flesh. Who was satisfied when the Pharisee thanked God he was not as other men are? To whose credit did it go? To God or Christ?
Supposing I were to fast seven times a week. Well, I think myself better than the man who only does it six times; it is satisfying the flesh. Supposing it is prayer (I need not say prayer is the most blessed privilege a man has); but if he says so many prayers, the one who says five is better than the one who only says three; it is satisfying the flesh, though neglecting the body. That is, as regards being dead with Christ, I am clean out of it, I have left it all behind; what is it to me if I am dead? No good thing in you at all, for the religious doings of the flesh are flesh still; it is merely saying, I am not dead with Christ. What, as Christians are our greatest privileges may be used in this way.
Chapter 3:1. If risen with Christ, you are not in the world. If I have got this Christ-place, that I have died to the world, making Christ my life, I reckon myself dead, and alive to God, not in Adam, but in Jesus Christ our Lord. It is a great thing for the believer, it strikes at the root of a number of things in detail as we go on. Am I, a living man as born of Adam, to question my place with God as such? or am I dead with Christ, risen with Christ, and having my place, with God as such?
“Where Christ sitteth;” there is one Man who has gone there, a blessed Man who loved me and gave Himself for me. I am a risen man, knowing redemption, forgiveness, and my affections resting on Him up there. I see Christ on high. “Set your affections on things above,” &c. He is looking for the state of the affections here. Having the consciousness that Christ is my life up there, my heart follows Him. A dead man cannot have his affections on things of earth.
Verse 3. Another thing which comes out most blessedly here is our complete thorough association with Christ. What is true of Him is true of me. He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one. Christ is dead, we are dead: Christ is hid in God, our life is hid in Him: when He appears, we appear. “Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” There is this blessed identification with Christ, our sins put away; and as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall bear the image of the Heavenly. “As he is, so are we in this world;” not that we are actually in the glory, but it is our place before God. It gives wonderfully settled peace, beloved friends—all sins completely blotted out; but that is not all, there is another thing—in what kind of a way am I going to be received, supposing He had forgiven us, and left us here to go on as best we could? That is not what He has done. “Accepted in the Beloved” —that is what a Christian is. What the flesh has done is blotted out, and put away, but then we are in Christ, “as he is, so are we” —the positive side, in short, not only the negative—loved as Christ is loved, “the glory thou hast given me, I have given them.” “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them,” that is, now. The world will know we are thus loved when it sees us in the same glory with Himself.
Christ was totally alone with God when He was made sin for us, bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, and when that was done, sitting down in glory, He sent down the Holy Ghost to give us the consciousness that we are in the same place.
You find many such passages, as in 1 Cor. 15, if Christ is not raised, we are not raised. He was really a dead man, and if I am not raised, Christ is not raised. We get all in this blessed association with Christ. But where it pinches is, if that is true, he that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked. That will not do with the world. It pinches our poor wretched hearts if the flesh works; but when the heart is on Christ, it is freedom and blessed liberty; but it is a hard thing to the feeble heart that I am to be like Christ down here. I know I am going to be like Christ in glory, to bear the image of the heavenly, and so thorn is one object on earth to win Him, and to purify myself even as He is pure. Beholding the glory of the Lord, I am changed into the same image.
Here is the groundwork which is thus laid: dead with Christ, risen with Christ—not there yet, of course, but our affections set upon things above, not on things of earth; they cannot go together: “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Our affections follow Christ where He is actually gone; our hearts have got into the place where He is risen in glory. How far have our hearts got there? We have actual acceptance, we know we are in Christ before God, but how far are our hearts content to follow Him, as He said, “Follow thou me?” A very strong word, it is as taking us right out of this world—a full and absolute object for the heart. There is a way the vulture's eye hath not seen, the following Christ, the one thing God delights in.
In verse 5, &c., you find more fully than anywhere in scripture what this life of the Christian really is. But it is “members which are on the earth only.” But mark this, the moment I am here I have power, which in the flesh I have not. “When we were in the flesh, the motions of sin which were by the law did work in my members to bring forth fruit unto death. The renewed man under law has no power; when dead and risen with Christ we get power. “Mortifying” is putting to death. Scripture does not say “dying;” but we are called to reckon ourselves dead because he has done it, and has become our life, and then I say to the flesh, I do not know you, I have had enough of you; I am dead.
Colossians gives the fact, Rom. 6 faith's estimate of it; 2 Cor. 5 is practically carrying it out, and so death works in us, and life in you; there is power, the power of Christ.
Verse 6. Unbelief is not the only ground of judgment. The world is condemned as such for having rejected Christ, but judgment is for works.
Verse 7. “In the which ye also walked some time when ye lived in them.” They are not supposed to be in them now, that they were in Christ; they had walked in them, like other Gentiles.
Gross things come first, what is plain and evident; but he does not stop there, for he will not have the flesh stir. How is it that you get angry? Is it not this, that the flesh is not subdued practically? Impatience—where does that come from? You say, “Oh, but it is so vexing, so provoking.” Would Christ be impatient? And you have Christ's life. “Lie not one to another, seeing ye have put off the old man and his deeds.” I get three characters of sin—devil sins and brute sins; corruption; violence in anger and malice; and then, added to that, “Lie not one to another,” with the ground of this, “seeing ye have put off the old man.”
And now we have the putting on. Mark the measure of this here, “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” My standard of what is good is spiritual knowledge of God's nature. We are renewed in knowledge. I say that does not suit God.
If I take the character and image, I see that manifested in a Man, in Christ. In Ephesians it is, “Be ye followers of God as dear children.” He takes the essential names of God, light and love, and in both cases he takes Christ as the pattern. A person says, An imitator of God! how can I be that, a poor worm like me? But what is your pattern? Christ—that is the way we are to walk. It is not simply what is claimed from man under the law, but my walk is to be the expression of God, and I see that in Christ—love manifested in the midst of evil. It is not, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, but, the world being an evil world, you must go and show out God in it as Christ did— “made partakers of the divine nature.”
Verse 11. It is not said here, Christ is all in all, though that is very well in its way, but it is something more here, which is very important. Christ is all; no object but Christ. And what does that mean? The cross, perhaps; we may have to go through it. He is in all, the power of life, and the sole object of life. When it is affections, He is all, everything, to me, and in me the power of divine life too.
I have here also a most important principle: if I am to produce these fruits, and walk in this way, as He tells us, and there are a thousand different details in which it comes in every day, and all day—well, I go as the elect of God. If I send my child out, I say, Walk as my child, and he must recollect that he is my child; if he has lost the recollection of it, the whole nature and character of the walk is gone. Be imitators of God as dear children; do not forget that. So here, Put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved. Just think, if I carried that with me all the day long! Here am I, the elect of God: God has chosen to delight in me. He will surely make us know our own nothingness, but there is the consciousness of this love, just as a child knows its father's affection, not at all that be is worthy of it. Separate to God, and loved of God, I go through the world in the blessed sense that God, in His sovereign goodness, has taken me into His delight. We find all these things are said of Christ. Was not He the elect of God, One chosen out of the people? Was not He the Holy One in the fullest sense? Was not He the beloved One, the beloved Son, all His life sanctified to the Father in an absolute sense? And He says, Walk as such. You cannot do it unless you have got the motive, that which moves the affections, though there may be duty. We are to walk through this world, not to attain anything, though I shall get joy and blessing; but, having got this place, there is the putting off the old man, and the putting on the new. Being in that place, and having that life, I put on the things that become it— “meekness, long-suffering, humbleness of mind, lowliness.” He always took the last place; when rejected, He said, “Let us go to another village.”
“Forbearing one another, forgiving one another.” Did not Christ forgive us when He was insulted, spit upon? Yes, and you go and do that too. If you look at 1 Cor. 13, you will find there is not one atom of activity spoken of there as to charity, but it is all self-denying, meekness, patience. If you know what self is, you know that is where we are tested. I must bring not merely kindness into the path, but the divine element which checks anything that is contrary to holiness, while humble, lowly, &c. It has with it the divine thing which cannot acquiesce in an evil to itself; love, the bond of perfectness, will put it all in its place. The moment I bring God in, I bring in what has a claim upon the heart, in thorough consistency with the One who says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” If your heart were always perfectly peaceful, quiet, and gentle, how many things which provoke would not be there. It gives, too, calmness of judgment, so that we know what to do. Christ's peace was never disturbed. You never find Him in a position where He was not Himself; even in Gethsemane, when in an agony, He turned round to His disciples, just as if nothing had happened, and said, “Could ye not watch with me one hour?” He goes from one to the other, just what He ought to be with His Father about this dreadful cup, and just what He ought to be with His poor disciples in love to them. Of course we fail, but that is the principle.
Verse 16 is not merely negative, nor the putting on the character of Christ, but the unsearchable riches of Christ, the soul opening out on all that belongs to the Christian; “teaching and admonishing one another.... singing with grace,” &c.. Not merely knowledge, but the affections expressed as human beings do express them, and as they will be expressed in heaven— “singing,” the word giving the knowledge of all things, and then melody in the heart.
“Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” How can I bring Christ into the common things of this world? Whatever word comes out of your mouth, or whatever ye do, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. You say, Is there any harm in that? Can you do it in the name of Jesus? if not, do not leave Christ to go and do it without Him. Are you going to see that Exhibition? Why not? I cannot go in the name of the Lord. I take the common things of life purposely to make it simple. Do you smoke? No, I cannot smoke in the name of Jesus. I do not mind what it is—everything in word or deed. The gross things of evil all cast off, and then what would be called by man indifferent things. It is an indifferent thing if I put the book this way, or that way; but supposing my Father held very much to my putting it this way, and I do not, you may say, Well, I do not know about the book, but I know where your heart is. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” If you make a law, it will be very hard, but if Christ is everything to me, it will be easy. If I love my father very much, I shall take great care to put the book as He likes.
Then another thing that marks where the heart is— “giving thanks.” These wretched things, which distract the heart, and force the Holy Ghost to be judging, are not there, and He becomes the Spirit of joy and thankfulness to God, the love of God shed abroad in the heart, which constantly goes up for everything in thankfulness to God in the sense that He is the Author of everything. Even sorrow is blessing: it is more profitable to be in sorrow than in joy. We can give thanks, if really the love of God is in our hearts, walking as to everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, no distraction in the heart; where there is that, the Holy Ghost necessarily becomes a rebuking Spirit, instead of a Spirit of joy and thankfulness.
Are we in His favor which is better than life? Our lips shall praise Him. The Lord only give us, beloved brethren, to walk in that way, confiding in divine love, and seeing the proof of it in the love that gave Himself for us, kept privily in His presence from the provoking of all men, to go through a world of confusion and restlessness with the peace of Christ in our souls.

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Eph. 3:8
“Enough is as good as a feast,” says the world, and as to that which perishes with the using it is true in its way. Yet even here the world convicts itself; for it acknowledges that by enough every man means something more than he has; so that practically he never reaches his “enough,” and how much less the feast? This only makes good the conclusion of the preacher, “the eyes of man are never satisfied.” (Prov. 28:20.) And again, Eccl. 12:8, “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” The human heart is too large for any terrestrial thing to fill it!
But on entering the now creation, that blessed expanse where “all things are become new.” I begin with God's feast; I find “all things are ready,” and I prove that “all things are of God,” as He says, “my dinner, my oxen, my feelings” all is of Him; I have come to a marriage feast; it is the initial thing in “the creation of God!” We road in Luke 15 that, as soon as they entered the house, “they began to be merry;” and since that joy met no reverse, we may conclude it is without a break and without a bound; assuredly then that newborn joy ought to go on characterizing all who know that they are within that festive scene, and as truly now as by-and-by in the glory, though then, of course, circumstantially and manifestly:
“He spread the banquet, made me eat,{br}Bid all my fears remove,{br}Yea, o'er my guilty, rebel head{br}He placed His banner—Love!”
Is it not a seasonable inquiry, whether as vessels—emptied of care and every ill, and filled as He who has formed us for Himself, loves to fill us—we do in any adequate way experience and express the blessedness which we are not only aware of being ours, but are familiar with as such? I may know even to familiarity what God has given me, but I have never known it in power and consequently have never truly made it mine, much less can I be the expression of it, if I do not practically and positively enjoy it, and, as it were, jubilantly, it being the habitual delight of my soul.
In the Lord's ways with Israel, gracious and merciful as He was to them, the blessing was a measured one: according to their obedience did He mete out blessing from His hand. But if we seek analogy to the principle and character of our blessing, we must revert to that of Noah and his sons; there we find God declaring on the ground of the sweet savor of the superb sacrifice He had just accepted from the first altar ever erected— “Even as the green herb have I given you all things:” this surely suggests the church's unmeasured portion in the new creation as “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” which blessing being based upon the value before God of Christ's sacrifice of Himself, is as immeasurable as it is illimitable. As immeasurable as the excellency of Christ; as illimitable as the Father's delight in Him. It may be interesting to trace this profuseness of blessing in each of its varied and wonderful characters as it met us at first, waits upon us at present and stretches us on into glory, indicated by such words as “riches,” “fullness,” “abound,” “abundantly,” and the like, as found in the writings of John, Paul, and Peter, premising as one loves to do, that it finds its center and its extent in Christ; root and stem, branch and twig, tendril and cluster, “from me is thy fruit found!” Hos. 14:8. “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall.” Gen. 49:22.
John says “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, and of His fullness have all we received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:14-16. So in Rom. 5:15: “The grace of God and the free gift in grace has abounded unto many;” in verse 17, it is termed the “abundance of grace,” and in verse 21 we find that if the offense abounded and how wide spread soever sin has abounded, the grace has over-abounded, grace is regnant: so also in Eph. 2:7, “the exceeding riches of his grace;” again, 2 Cor. 4:15, “grace abounding through the ninny may cause thanksgiving to abound.” It is the abounding grace of God multiplying itself in its objects! In like manner, mercy. Peter says, “According to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again,” I Peter i. 3, and Paul says that He who has quickened us together with Christ found a motive in the riches of His own mercy, Eph. 2:4, 5, and in the same scripture as to love, we read, “For his great love wherewith He loved us” (the word “great” being rendered “plenteous” in Matt. 9:37, and “abundant” in 1 Peter 1:3); in John 13 “having loved his own which were in the world, He loved them,” not “to the end” in point of time, but to the uttermost, “going through with everything.” Oh! love unmeasured and untold, filling our lives with its unwearied ministrations in priesthood and in advocacy, how truly is it love abundantly! So from the Lord Himself we get not only “I am come that they might have life,” which an Old Testament saint had, but “and might have it abundantly.” John 10:10.
This deeper, fuller, brighter reality was doubtless fulfilled in the communication of His risen life after His resurrection. John 20:22. As the risen man He is constituted head or “beginning of the creation of God,” and as such His first work, a work in which His heart went out, was to impart to His beloved disciples, His “brethren” now, His life in resurrection, the “life abundantly!” And when that same blessed One, who down here received the Spirit without measure, is exalted on high, the glorified Man, He makes it His first service from the new platform of glory gained to bring them into positive, eternal union with Himself by baptizing them with the Holy Ghost, the promise of the Father, and accordingly we read “which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Titus 3:6. Before His departure He had tutored the hearts of His disciples in His own joy for their joy, in respect to obedience, John 15:11; in respect to dependence, 16:24, and as to the Father's unwearied care, 17: 13, their joy must be full and His joy must be filled up in them!
In Ephesians—wondrous, blessed ground for faith—we read (chap. 1: 8-10), “He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known unto us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself;” this we may therefore term the abundant revelation of His counsels! Again (19) “the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead,” &c. Here is power working transcendently in an objective way, its correlative being chapter 3: 16 and 20, “that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man—according to the power that worketh in us;” clearly this is the highest energy of power working subjectively.
Before we quit Ephesians we may see also the provision for our defense while engaged in true Christian conflict. The apostle says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor,” or panoply, “of God,” chapter 6: 11-18; and in other epistles we read, “The arms of our Warfare are not fleshly, but divinely powerful to the overthrow of strongholds,” 2 Cor. 10:4; we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom. 8:37.) In a similarly triumphant strain does Peter speak (1 Peter 1:11) of the saints' departure to be with the Lord, “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
So in Rom. 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost;” only here does hope find its sphere of exercise and only in us its full fruition. How strikingly again, do we see in the Epistle to the Colossians to what surpassing blessedness our participation in the mystery introduces us for “God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations,” the apostle agonizing as to the saints “that their hearts may be encouraged, being united together in love and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the full knowledge of the mystery of God in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 1:27; 2:8.) Lastly in chapter 2: 9, 10: “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are filled full in him,” which signifies as toward God our present completeness in Christ—may we not say abundantly?
Seeing then from scripture these varied characters of blessing, taken without much regard to order, in respect to grace, mercy, love, life, the Holy Ghost, joy, counsels of God, power, defense, hope, the mystery and completeness in Christ, we may fairly remark that if God speaks of each of them in this uniform way, it must be because He would impress our hearts ever and anon with the exuberance of the blessing which He has poured into our bosom, giving us, indeed, “all that love could give!” But the question arises, what is the practical effect to our souls of the sense of such supreme, such magnificent blessing—surely to draw out the heart to joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ and all the faculties of the soul in worshipping the Father in Spirit and in truth; surely to fit us for closer, deeper, fuller fellowship with the Father and the Son; surely, also, while learning herein what an object we are to the Father's heart, to assimilate us more and more in an ever increasing degree, to Him who has been essentially the object of that heart from eternity!
What a striking illustration of more than regal bounty is furnished in Solomon's munificence to the Queen of Sheba; all she had given to him, the many camels' load of spice and gold and precious stones, he gave her back, shall we not say enhanced a thousand fold? Next she got “all her desire, whatsoever she asked.” (2 Chron. 9:12.) Lastly “Solomon gave her of his royal bounty.” (1 Kings 10:13.) But in the closing chapter of Revelation (20: 1, 2), we have an illustration of divine bounty in the new creation, “He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river was there the tree of life which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Only here is an adequate illustration of our twelve-fold blessing; for surely it is the privilege of faith to be ever drinking of the water of life, and feeding even now upon the fruit of that tree of which it is significantly said it is “on either side of the river.” Though the nations have yet to learn, as one day they will, that the leaves of the tree of life alone can heal them, yet we are already privileged as knowing our place in the new creation, to eat of the fruit which is alone “sweet to our taste” and to drink of the stream which alone refreshes the new nature!
But if instead of illustration we turn to instances we find that when Christianity was inaugurated at Pentecost, the typical idea was a full vessel; the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4); the apostles were full of the Holy Ghost, great power and great grace was upon them all, chapter 6: 3 full of the Holy Ghost, verse 5; full of faith and power, verse 8! Paul the pattern man in living, says that “the grace of our Lord surpassingly over-abounded” to him with faith and love, 1 Tim. 1:14; when his sufferings abounded his consolation also abounded by Christ. (2 Cor. 1:5.) Again he says, “I am filled with encouragement, I overabound in joy.” (2 Cor. 7:4.) When slighted by the Corinthians the abundance of his love is displayed. (2 Cor. 12:15.) When caught up into the third heaven he received abundance of revelations (verse 7); he testifies of the Corinthians that they were enriched in all utterance and in all knowledge, that they abounded in faith and word and knowledge and in all diligence and in love; also of the Macedonians that they abounded in affliction and joy, poverty and liberality.
When he had received a present from the Philippians, and was unable to requite it from any visible resource, he says, “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19.) When he desired that the Corinthians should have the privilege of contributing of their bounty to other saints, in what a wonderful strain he speaks! “God is able to make every gracious gift abound towards you, that, having in every way always all-sufficiency, ye may abound to every good work. Now he that supplieth seed to the sower, and bread for eating, shall supply and make abundant your sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; enriched in every way unto all free-hearted liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God.” (2 Cor. 9:8, 10, 11.) He brings their souls into contact with God, as it were, for their enlargement. Never, surely, can we lose sight of the fact that we are finite vessels; but what is of moment is to observe that the Holy Ghost is a wonderfully expansive power, and He dwells in a singularly expansive vessel. It is no marvel, then, that as He fills the vessel it enlarges by the divine afflatus, as in Eph. 3:16—the Holy Ghost in the inner man, and Christ in the heart, we apprehend the immeasurable height, and length, and depth, and breadth, and we know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we might be filled even unto all the fullness of God! As though a tiny egg-cup were expanded to the dimensions of a gigantic vase, magnificent in its capacity and proportions; and yet, says the apostle, the confines are not reached, for God delights to bring our finiteness into constant contact with His infinitude, and not only all we ask, but all we think, He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above! What vessels of blessedness and of blessing would His heart delight to make us!
“Now into him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the assembly hi Christ Jesus, unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen.” (Eph. 3:20, 21.) R.

All of One

(Heb. 2)
We never know our place rightly till we know Christ's place. What we find in this chapter is, that we are completely associated and identified with Him. “For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Ver. 11.) Then God's way is to settle our relationship with God Himself first, and then to pass us through the wilderness, till the time comes for the full accomplishment of His purpose in glory. If we do not connect our place with Christ, we do not get the key to it. He passed through the wilderness, dying for us too, and He is now crowned with glory and honor. This chapter puts Him in this place.
The wilderness is no part of God's purpose for us at all; it is a part of His ways, not His purpose. Christ could take the thief straight to paradise without any wilderness at all, so absolute was that work of His in its efficacy. Bringing us to God and into the wilderness are the same thing. Christ's work is complete, and the effect of redemption is to bring us into the wilderness. The Israelites began the wilderness, properly speaking, after Sinai. As soon as they had passed through the Red Sea, they could say, “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them by thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” (Ex. 15:13.) At Sinai Jehovah said, “Ye have seen.... how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.” (Ex. 19:4.) They were brought to the wilderness and to God.
Ex. 15 goes on to show God's purpose: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Jehovah, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the sanctuary, O Jehovah, which thy hands have established.” (Ex. 15:17.) That Israel had not got, and we have not got it, but Christ has entered in, and that is the difference.
If you look at Ex. 3, you will see that the wilderness formed no part of God's purpose: “And I am come down to deliver them, and to bring them up out of that land, unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Ver. 8.) In Ex. 6 you find the same, and in Ex. 15, where faith celebrates redemption, you have the same thing. “Thou hast guided them by thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” (Ver. 18.) This leaps right over the wilderness. He did bring them through the wilderness, but it was no part of His purpose for them. Redemption was accomplished when they were brought through the Red Sea. In that way the Red Sea and the Jordan coalesce: in both there was the passing on dry ground through the water that formed the barrier, the real difference of moaning being, that in the Red Sea we get Christ's death and resurrection—not merely blood-shedding, we had that in Egypt—and in the Jordan, our death with Christ.
The blood at the passover kept God out, but the Israelites were in Egypt all the while. In Christ's death and resurrection there was the bringing us out of the state we were in into a new one; in Christ risen we have a totally new position. Christ coming and taking our place died to that, not merely bearing our sins—though that is true too—but He was made sin for us; and now He is risen up into a new place as man, a place that is the effect of redemption, and He is gone into glory too. This brings us into this totally new place, which forms part of the counsels of God.
The first man was the responsible man; the Second Man was the man of God's counsels. At the beginning all depended on Adam, and he totally failed: then Christ becomes man, according to the counsels of God, and in His own person He takes manhood into the place of God's counsels about man. The wilderness comes in by the bye, very profitable, but only by the bye.
I have got God perfectly glorified in a Man—much more than man, for He is “God over all, blessed forever” —but still in a man. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Cor. 15:21.) He comes into this scene of ruin, manifests God in it, and then manifests man to God. God raises him from death, and puts Him into His own glory as Man. In virtue of the work which has glorified God, man is at the right hand of God. “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself (the second step down), and became obedient unto death, oven the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given, him a name which is above every name.” (Phil. 2:6-9.) Because of that He is in glory. As the eternal Son He was always in glory, and He could speak of Himself as “the Son of man who is in heaven.” In John 13 you find it there. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” (John 13:32.) He cannot wait for the kingdom and glory that are coming, but personally He glorifies Him at His own right hand.
Then, redemption having been accomplished, the people are brought out through redemption. We get in Jordan, not Christ dying for us, as at the Red Sea, but our dying with Christ; consequently there is not the smiting of the water, as at the Red Sea; there is no judgment, but the ark stood in the midst of Jordan till all the people passed over.
Canaan was a rest in the purpose of God, but instead of that the Israelites found it a place of fighting: Joshua met there the man with a drawn sword in his hand. What characterizes heaven now is fighting.
Therefore there, and not till there, we get circumcision: the manna ceased, and they ate the old corn of the land. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.” (Eph. 6:12, 13.)
We get the two things: the accomplishment of redemption brings us into the wilderness, and the purpose of God brings us into heavenly places. Faith realizes these, redemption perfectly accomplished, and Christ sitting at the right hand of God because it is accomplished. He is not on His own throne at all: “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psa. 110:1.)
Then the Holy Ghost comes down, and connects us with Him in that place. The believer, therefore, if he knows his place, says, “Thou hast guided them by thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” That is all settled, but we are not there, except in spirit; we are in the wilderness all the way.
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come.... can never with these sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the corners thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.” (Heb. 10:1, 2.) “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” They were always at it, clearing people of sins; every sin committed required a fresh sacrifice. This is in contrast to Christianity, though people do not see it; for, inasmuch as Christ is sitting down, the believer, not like the Jew, has no “more conscience of sins.” Then, as Christ is sitting there because He has finished the work, our conscience is perfect, not we: it is “once” and for all. If failure come in, “We have an Advocate with the Father;” but the Christian who knows Christ's place has “no more conscience of sins.” “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14.) “For over” here is a specific word, meaning continuous, not eternal, though, of course, it is eternal. The point here is, that as Christ is always, continuously, sitting there, my conscience is continuously perfect, because it is the person who bore my sins that is sitting there. The Christian is not in his right place till he is there—he may be on the way. “No more conscience of sins” —that is what I get in scripture. “Blessed is the man unto whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity.” (Psa. 32:2.) He has not got the blessedness, if he thinks it possible that sin can be imputed to him. Such is the basis—that, and the Holy Ghost coming down from heaven—of our whole Christian place. “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22.) It does not say, “without sprinkling of blood” (though the blood is sprinkled); but if anything is to be done for sin now, you must get the blood shed. “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:26.) If we are believers, we are under the effect of that work of Christ that never changes. We shall know more of its blessedness and value, but there is no renewing of this work of Christ in any sort.
This is only the entrance into the wilderness. He does not bring us into the desert till we are out of Egypt; until Christ has met God for us, we are not brought into the desert at all. We have trials and exercises there, but it is redemption that brings us into it; our path flows from that. In telling of redemption in Egypt, there is not a word about the wilderness; but when the Israelites have gone through it, then, in Deut. 8, the wilderness is reviewed. He talks of the forty years there. “And thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no.” (Deut. 8:2.) There we find all these ways of God proving the heart, yet He was watching their clothes and their feet all the time. He adds another thing— “to do thee good at thy latter end.” Redemption was at the beginning, Canaan at the latter end; the wilderness comes between the two. Through the wilderness we have God with us, and for us, not imputing anything to us, but exercising our hearts. These are the ways of God, the government of God, and so on.
He begins by leading a redeemed people to God. The force of Rom. 8:9 is, that we are in a new place “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” The flesh is not your standing or place before God at all: before God you are not a child of Adam, but a redeemed child of God.
Heb. 2 puts the world to come in connection with Christ. “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.” We speak of a world where Christ shall reign; that is God's purpose, and it is not come at all. “What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the Son of man that thou visitest him?” Job says the same thing; he wonders why God takes such trouble about him. “What is man that thou shouldest magnify him, and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? and that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? How long wilt thou not depart from me, and let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?” (Job 6:17-19.) Here is the answer: “Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thine hands. But now we see not yet all things put under him, but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor.” Christ, who is the man of God's counsels, to be over all things, is now sitting at the right hand of God, “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” He has accomplished redemption, and gone to the right hand of God as man, and He is sitting there till the time comes when He shall take His great power, and reign. All things are not put under Him yet, but He is crowned with glory and honor.
In Psa. 2 you find Christ spoken of as come to this world, and rejected, and then it goes on to say, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, Jehovah shall have them in derision. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.” In that character as King in Zion, and Son of God, as born into this world, He was utterly rejected; yet God will set Him on His holy hill in Zion. Psa. 8 tells us what He will be when He is rejected.
To show how scripture all hangs together, when Nathanael owns Him as Son of God and King of Israel according to Psa. 2, the Lord answers, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” (John 1:51.) Psa. 8 comes in, and we see the highest creatures subject to the Son of man. He was Son of God and King of Zion (Son of God, even as born into this world). It was all right for Nathanael to own Him as such, but that is not going to be now; so He speaks of Himself as Son of man. In Psa. 8 you get the purpose of God; the Son of man is to be set over all the works of His hands. We do not see the works set under Him yet, but we see Him crowned with glory and honor: half the psalm has been fulfilled, but not the other half. He is waiting, and we wait; meanwhile we have the wilderness, where we have to learn ourselves and God, because we are redeemed.
Therefore, to show the perfect completeness of Christ's work, He could take the thief straight to paradise. The thief was looking to share in the glory when Christ came: “Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42.) “Oh,” says the Lord, “you shall not wait for that.” “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:48.) It is more blessed to wait up there, than to wait down here: “To depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.” (Phil. 1:28.) The apostle says, I do not know which to choose, but if I am beheaded, I can do no more work for Christ: it is better for you that I should remain—so I shall remain. He decided his own course; it was Christ who settled those things, not Nero.
As regards acceptance, that is a settled thing. Giving “thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Col. 1:12.) Even in Colossians you get them passed through the desert. “You are reconciled, but you must hold fast to the end.” Whenever a saint is looked at as going through the wilderness, you get ifs, only with a promise that He will keep us, but we have to be kept. Why is it said that no man is able to pluck the sheep out of Christ's hand? Because, if He were not there they would be plucked. “The wolf catcheth them;” this is the same word. The wolf may come, and scatter the sheep—that he has done; “but,” says Christ, “not out of my hand.”
Now see where in the chapter before us we come in, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one.” There is never such a thing in scripture as the thought of Christ being united to men by incarnation. “He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one.” Here we have that blessed truth which is at the root of all these thoughts and purposes of God, but you never get this without His personal pre-eminence: you will never find His personal glory compromised. As another has said, “He never speaks to His disciples of our Father;” but He has brought us into His place as Man. “All of one,” all one set, kind, and state—an abstract expression. Adam was the head of the mischief; he and his descendants were all of one: now “He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” In wonderful grace He takes us into union with Himself— “My brethren.” There we come in, and we come into the desert. Christ has gone through the desert before us, that He might understand what we have to go through.
There are four reasons why He became man:
1. Because of what becomes God.
2. What was necessary as to Satan.
3. Then as to our sins; and
4. As to His sympathy with us.
The glory of God required it; therefore, if Christ took up our cause, then God had to treat Him accordingly. If God had cut off Adam and Eve, it would have been righteous, but there would have been no love in it: if He had passed over all, there would have been no righteousness. In the cross God's majesty was made good as nowhere else. Christ there perfectly glorifies God as to His majesty, His righteousness against sin, His love, and His truth: all that is in God was perfectly glorified in the cross, therefore the Man that did it is in glory. That is the righteousness of God. He has set Christ at His right hand: the Person that glorifies God goes, as the only adequate measure of His work, into glory. “For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The consequence is (that being the grand basis of all), “For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, for which cause be is not ashamed to call them brethren.”
Then I get Satan in view (we had God in view before): “That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” It was through death that Satan exercised all his power; he committed himself wholly to that, and in the resurrection of Christ all his power was over—that is, as to the work that annuls it.
The next reason was for our sins: “To make reconciliation (or, atone) for the sins of the people.” We have got God glorified, Satan destroyed in his and our power, sins—those of all believers I mean—gone. All that is not wilderness work, it is accomplished work. God is glorified; Satan's power destroyed; our sins all borne: that is all done—if it is not, it never can be.
Then comes the wilderness. Therefore He has not only made “reconciliation” or propitiation “for the sins of the people,” but He has “suffered, being tempted,” that He may be “able to succor them that are tempted.” This is the fourth reason why He became man. He has gone through every trial, everything that could hinder or be opposed to Him; He has gone through ten thousand times more than we can do. “He is able to succor them that are tempted;” He has experimental knowledge.
There are two kinds of temptation. Look at James 1:2: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” this means trials in fact. Lower down, at verse 14, you will find quite another kind of thing: “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” This is what is in my own heart. If we confound the two kinds of temptation, we either put Christ into this evil condition, which would be horrible blasphemy, or we take away the bad kind of temptation from ourselves. That is the reason it is said, “but was in all points tempted like as we are, except sin.” (Heb. 4:13.) We are tempted by all trials from without, and by sin within. He was tempted by all, sin excepted. I get by redemption into this totally new place, but I am waiting for the redemption of the body. I have got now my soul and spirit in heavenly places with Christ; my body is not there yet, it belongs to the old creation; I belong to the new.
In Numbers we get, consequently, the red heifer, the provision for the wilderness, which is not among the sacrifices in Leviticus. If you touch death, you want your feet washed. The ashes of the heifer came in for restoring communion, when they had lost it in going through the wilderness. We have an immensity to learn about ourselves, and about God too; we have been left down here, being redeemed, to know ourselves and God, in His own faithful, blessed, ways with us.
In Joshua circumcision comes in (when there was circumcision before, they simply followed their fathers); as merely redeemed in the wilderness, they were not circumcised. It is a different thing to say, “I am safe, and my sins are gone,” from saying, “I am dead to the world.” It is only as sitting in heavenly places that I do not belong to the world at all. In Ephesians only we have God's purpose completely; and there, consequently, we have Christ raised from the dead, and seated in heavenly places; while we are with Him there, and there only, we have conflict properly. We get the three things— “Ye are dead,” “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3) We have not got there yet. In Rom. 6 faith is told to reckon self as dead, and in 2 Cor. 4 we get the carrying it out in practice: “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor. 4:10-12.) They were so bona fide realizing this death, that nothing but the life of Christ comes out in them.
“We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake,” Paul could say: he was really carrying it out. When God puts him right in face of death (2 Cor. 1:8), he could say, “You are killing a dead man.” “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.”
I do not know that I could quite say that in Hebrews we are walking down here, while Christ is up there. Hebrews gives us the desert rather than the Jordan. Deliverance has nothing to do with sins, but with sin working in the believer. Then I get, not forgiveness or justification, but deliverance from sin. “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” (Rom. 7:5.) “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:9.) “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17) liberty with God, and liberty from the power of sin. The way you get it is in having died with Christ. When I believe in forgiveness through the work of Christ, then I am sealed with the Spirit, and this makes me know I have died with Christ, and am risen with Him. We get there, in Rom. 4:25, “who was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification;” and in Rom. 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus;” this is a new place. Could you charge Christ, who is up on high, with sin? You cannot separate “the law of the Spirit of life” from the Spirit in Rom. 8 “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” (Rom. 8:8.) Where was the condemnation? In the cross. He did condemn sin in the flesh, when Christ was there for sin. This goes with it, that, when it was condemned, it died there; that is all right—then I am dead. Death and condemnation came to; Christ took the condemnation, and I got the death. “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” (Gal. 2:19.) I have got now not only that Christ lives in me, but that I have a title to reckon myself dead because I died with Him. There is a great difference to note between guilt and Attire. That state of which I have spoken is the consequence of the Spirit of God dwelling in us, not of our being converted merely. “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin.” (Rom. 8:10.) If I let the body live in that moral sense, it is all sin. Suppose a person was lying dead on the floor, could you charge him with evil lusts and a wicked will? He is dead. We are dead to faith, though not in fact, and we have a new life in Christ. “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.”
“No more conscience of sins” would be true if the believer were falling into sin; which makes it ten thousand times worse. None but a purged conscience can ever be a bad conscience.
The priesthood of Christ in Hebrews is never for sins, except when He offered Himself on the cross. It does people a great deal of mischief to think of Christ as a Priest for sins. I get in John another thing: “If any man, sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 3:1.) If there is even an idle thought, you have lost fellowship with the Father and the Son; but then you have Christ as the Advocate on high. “And he is the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 2:2.) He acts as Advocate, and the soul is restored as to its state; the conscience is purged, and we are brought into the light, as God is in the light. As long as there is a question of guilt, I cannot go to God; I cannot have boldness; therefore I do not get into the place where holiness is unfolded, and where there is the Advocate. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7.) This is an abstract statement; John always gives us abstract truth. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (1 John 5:10.) The devil has nothing for the new nature.
We are in the light as God is in the light: if I cannot stand before God, where the light is, I must be off. What is the consequence of being in the light? Fellowship one with another. Divine things are totally distinct from human things. We must have meum and tuum down here; if I give you this book, I have it no longer; but if I enjoy fellowship with God, do I lose by bringing you into it? There common joy and common blessing characterize the Christian state; and you are always perfect, because you are there in virtue of the blood that cleanses from all sin.
We have these three things:
1. We are in the light, as God is in the light.
2. We have fellowship with the Father and the Son, and with one another.
3. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” This is an abstract statement, as if I should say, “Quinine cures the ague.”
Propitiation in John is in no sense a present thing; it is all finished. The blood was on the mercy seat for a year; now it is with us for eternity; that is what I get in Hebrews.
Rom. 7 is not Christian state at all; it is no proper conflict, for I am there a captive to the, law of sin and death. In Rom. 7 you never find a man doing right; neither Christ nor the Holy Ghost is mentioned until you reach the end: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The moment I am in chapter viii., it is all about Christ: conflict begins then, in one sense; that I get in Gal. 5:17. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;” that conflict you never find in Rom. 7.
In Rom. 6 we are dead; in 7 we are not under the law—the man is not there to be so. If alive in the flesh, you never do right. What is learned in Rom. 7 is not sins, but that there is no power” Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Perfectionists think you can jump through Romans. But you will never get out of it till you get into it. That we have no power is a harder lesson to learn than that we are sinners. The man in Rom. 7 learns,
1. That in his flesh dwelleth no good thing.
2. That it is not himself at all; this is relief, not deliverance.
3. That though he hates it, it is too strong for him.
Gal. 5 is proper Christian conflict. Conflict in the Christian state is there. “I am crucified with Christ.” (Galatians “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24.) “For ye are dead, and year life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3.)

Righteousness and Peace: Part 3

Again, He said (John 14), “My peace I give unto you.” Ah 1 this is an apple brought from the new creation garden, not something produced in me; it is mine, but it comes from Him. He has made peace; I have not to make it, as you hear people speak of making their peace with God. “He is my peace,” but I cannot enjoy this till Christ gives me light. Unless the table with the twelve loaves was placed before the lamp, the light could not fall on the loaves. If you make an imitation table (as Jeroboam did), and place it somewhere else, away from the presence of God, the light cannot shine upon it, you can never there enjoy the peace of God in its perfection. But the first thing to be ascertained is—what is our peace?—to see the foundation on which it rests. When I, a sinner, could not be justified, what could be done with me? I might be condemned, and this I have been, but God has done it in the person of His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin. Everything in me that was not in Him, everything offensive to God, had the sentence of condemnation executed on it in the cross of Christ. And now I bring you back to that lady's question. “Now just tell me,” I said, “if God has condemned all that He could detect in you, if He has laid the whole of the sins, and the sin, on the person of His Son, and if everything that God could see wrong in you has been already condemned in His cross, how can there be anything left to condemn in you?” “Now,” she said, “I see it: I never did so before.”
I ask you, can any man stand up, and say that God was not righteous in raising Christ from the dead? Did He finish the work, or not? Did He glorify God for sin on the cross? Could the Infinite offer a finite sacrifice? Could the eternal Son fail in the work He was engaged in for you? No; He glorified God perfectly; He put away sin completely; He is now crowned with glory, and God is righteous in so crowning Him. And He is your peace. He was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Christ is all, and in all that believe. And if God has crowned Him with glory, He will crown me with glory too. His glory is ours. (John 17)
“Well, if that is the case, as a believer I am justified!” Of course you are; God says so. “Be it known unto you that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things.” (Acts 13:38, 39.) Christ is the propitiation for the whole world. Jehovah's lot, you remember (Lev. 16), was offered and slain, and its blood carried in; but there was no laying of hands on it, no identification of the people with it. There was no substitution in this case. Christ is not the substitute for the whole world, for then the whole world would be saved. He is the ransom for all. (1 Timothy Scripture nowhere speaks of Christ being the propitiation for the sins of, but simply for, the whole world. When you come to the scape-goat, then you have substitution; the people were identified with it, and their sins confessed upon its head—faith is the hand on the head of the sacrifice. And thus you see how immensely important is the principle of faith, because otherwise you have no part in the thing. If you read Lev. 16, you will see that on Jehovah's goat, which was for all the people, there was no hand laid. The propitiation is for the whole world, so that mercy and pardon may be proclaimed unto the world, but none are pardoned and justified, save those who believe. Faith alone gives you a part in the thing. It is only where the soul believes God, and says, “I believe that God sent His Son, and that He died for sinners, and that He was raised again, If this is enough for God, it is enough for me.”
This is faith, and the soul is identified with all that Christ is. I ask not if you feel at peace, but if He who suffered for sins, Just for unjust, made and is peace. Joyfully you will answer that since the cross no cloud can come between God and the Son of man, who glorified Him. I believe, and am sure; I know, and enjoy it. The peace the Lord Jesus has with God the Father is my peace, and there is no other, for the peace He has with God is the peace He made for us, and gives to us. As to the past, we have perfect peace; as to the present, we have absolute favor; and as to the future, nothing short of the glory of God to hope for, and even now boast in.
The apostle never reasons from man up to God (which is what men are constantly doing), but from God to man. I once asked a young preacher what that verse meant, “the love of God shed abroad in our hearts.” He immediately commenced to reason upward, as he had been accustomed to do, from himself to God, and, after thinking some time, replied, “Well, I suppose it means that, the more we love God, the more He will love us.” He put himself first, and God second. Now, as to our loving God—supposing I do—but I walk along the street, and look into a shop window, and something attracts me that I would like to have, where is my love to God? How soon I forget God! My love is not to be depended on; but does God's love vary, or ever change? Thus the Holy Ghost puts God first, and man second. If I know that He loves me, then I love Him who first loved me. It is not by trying that we love God. Who ever knew such a thing, even in human affections? Who ever heard of a mother trying to love her child? I never heard of a man who tried to love his wife but one—who would give a straw for his love? And as to the mother loving her child, why, she cannot help doing so. But in our case with God, it was when we were enemies, when there was distrust and dislike in our hearts to God, that He loved us. “If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we, shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:10.) If God only loved us as we love Him, He never would have loved us at all. I know that many dear Christians doubt this. They think that God does love them because they love Him, and that if they feel cold toward God He will cease to love them.
“My dear friend, do you not know that God's love is an everlasting love? that it does not change when you change, or cease when you fail to deserve it, and that all these twenty years He has been loving you, whilst you did not know it?” So said I once to a poor man who, although a converted soul, had been going about for twenty years with the idea that God hated him. The relationship of a child is permanent; the Father will chasten the child. He cannot wink at sin; but He does not make me a servant only if I am a child. Whatever my failure, I do not cease to be a child. The one offering of Jesus Christ has forever perfected all them that are sanctified before God. C. S.
(Concluded from page 61.)

Notes on Job 34

The second discourse of Elihu has for its scope to prove that the divine equity in government is in no way to be doubted, and that Job, who did venture to impeach it, is himself deserving of grave censure, as giving countenance, in thought and word, to the evil and scornful. God, sovereign in Himself, cannot err in His ways, but is necessarily righteous. So Abraham reasoned in Gen. 18:25; so all men, unless their mind and conscience be defiled. Impossible to conceive of injustice in the Almighty. His servants may fail—never the Fountain of all good. And if it be in the highest degree unseemly to tax a king with worthlessness, how much more to impute wrong to Him who is infinitely above all kings, and knows not the rich before the poor, having made both alike! Therefore falls under the invisible hand of God the mighty ruler whose guilt was marked of Him, spite of the darkness that enveloped it, now in the night, now openly, so as to warn others, as well as to dell with himself, and to relieve the oppressed. Submission of heart is, then, the only due feeling for man, that he may be taught more, as becomes one conscious of his faults, and turning from them in the fear of God. And what can be less consistent than, like Job, to insinuate unrighteousness in God, and withal appeal to His decision and desire his intervention? Elihu (who is sure of the sympathy of intelligent men) could not wish Job relieved, but rather tried to the uttermost for thus adding rebellion to his sin, and multiplying his words, not only among them, but at God.
And Elihu answered and said,
Hear, ye wise men, my words,
And ye men of knowledge give ear to me.
For the ear trieth words, and the palate tasteth food.
Let us choose for ourselves judgment,
Lot us know among ourselves what [is] good.
For Job hath said, I am righteous,
And God [El] hath turned aside my right:
Against my right I shall lie.
My wound [is] mortal, without transgression.
Who [is] a man like Job?
He drinketh mockery like water,
And goeth in company with workers of iniquity,
So as to go with men of wickedness.
For he hath said, It profiteth not a man
That he should delight himself with God.
Therefore, hear me, ye men of heart;
Far be it from God to do wickedness,
And [from] Shaddai to do perverseness.
For the work of man he reporteth to him,
And causeth each to find according to his way.
Yea, verily, God doth not act wickedly,
And Shaddai doth not pervert the right.
Who committed to Him the earth?
And who established the whole world?
If He should set His heart on Himself—
Gather to Himself His spirit and His breath,
All flesh would expire together,
And man return to dust.
And if [thou hast] understanding, hear this,
Give ear to the voice of my words.
Yea, doth a hater of right govern?
And wilt thou condemn the mighty just One?
Shall one to a king say, Belial; to princes, Wicked?
Who accepteth not the person of princes,
Nor hath known the rich before the poor?
For the work of His hands [are] they all.
In a moment they die; oven at midnight
Is a people shaken, and passeth away,
And the mighty are removed without hand.
For His eyes [are] on the ways of a man,
And He seeth all his steps.
There is no darkness nor death-shade,
Where the workers of iniquity may hide.
For He doth not regard man more,
That he should go to God in judgment;
He breaketh the mighty without inquiry,
And He setteth up others in their stead.
Therefore He knoweth their works,
And overthroweth them in the night, and they are bruised.
As wicked did He strike them publicly,
Who purposely turned aside from after Him,
And attended not to any of His ways,
So that the cry of the poor should come to Him,
And the cry of the oppressed He heareth.
And He giveth rest, and who can disturb?
And hideth His face, and who beholdeth it?
Whether as to a nation or to a man, the same,
That a corrupt man reign not,
Nor snares [be] to the people.
For had man [but] said to God,
I have suffered, I will not offend:
Things beyond [what] I see teach me:
I have done iniquity—I will not do it again.
According to thy judgment shall He requite him?
Nay, but thou hast rejected,
Thou hast chosen, and not I.
And what thou knowest, speak.
Let men of heart tell me,
And let a wise man hear me:
Job hath not spoken with knowledge,
And his words [were] not with wisdom.
Would that Job were proved to the uttermost,
Because of replies like men of iniquity.
For he addeth to his sin rebellion,
In the midst of us he mocketh [lit. clappeth],
And multiplieth his words against God.
Thus does Elihu vindicate God and His ways with man, which the three elders had so painfully misconstrued, not only to their own loss and the increased anguish of the sufferer, but to the dishonor of Him whom they knew too little to represent aright. Elihu would have his words subjected to the keenest discrimination. Truth has nothing to fear from this, if men listen with conscience toward God, not with the misjudged will which refuses all that lowers man, as all truth cannot but do, for he is fallen. But the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom, as surely as fools despise wisdom and instruction. Therefore does he call men of wisdom and knowledge to hearken. There is an inner man no less than an outer, and he cannot escape responsibility. Judgment surely becomes, and to know what is good in an evil world.
At once Elihu seizes on Job's self-justification, as if God could set aside the right, or treat with unfairness. This he brands as worthy of a scorner, and expresses the individual pain with which he had heard Job's heroic strain, drinking not indeed iniquity like water, as Eliphaz had harshly said, but a taunting style, or mockery, which really tended to the encouragement of evil-doers. And was it comely to say that man is not profited from having pleasure with God? Elihu scouts the thought of iniquity with God, the Judge of all; and who or what was man to sit in judgment on the Almighty? Was it he, or who, that put Him in charge of the earth? And who founded the universe? Creation owes its being and conservation to His disinterested goodness, who had only to absorb His care on Himself, gathering up His all-quickening Spirit, and all flesh would breathe its last, and man, the chief of all here below, return to dust.
Besides government has its rights, and reverence is due to those in power and dignity. Therefore be appeals to his understanding whether a hater of right governed, and he condemned the mighty Just One If no man could address a king or prince with a disrespectful word, what was it to speak unworthily of Him who, infinitely higher than the highest has no respect of persons, nor knows the rich before the poor, all being the work of His bands? Death comes in a moment; and the night is half spent when a people is shaken and pass away, and the mighty are removed, and not by hand. For all things are naked and open to His eyes with whom we have to do, the ways of a man and all his steps. Nor is there darkness or death-shade dense enough to hide the workers of iniquity; neither needs He to look a second time on a man ere going to God in judgment, but is entitled, without further scrutiny, to break the mighty, and to set up others in their room. He takes cognizance of their deeds, and overturns in a night, and they are crushed, as wicked, struck openly before others, for deliberate slight of Him and His ways, and in vindication of the poor and oppressed who cried to Him. So truly sovereign is He, and withal just and merciful: nation or man makes no difference, He being above both, lest a corrupt man reign, and the people be ensnared.
Man—Job—should have rather humbled himself to God, bowing to His hand and owning his fault, with desire to be taught, and to sin no more. Was God to recompense according to Job's mind? It was he that repudiated, and be that chose, not Elihu. It was for Job, then, to speak what he knew. Elihu turns to men of discretion, that they may say whether such language was wise, or according to knowledge. He wished him not afflicted, but proved thoroughly, because of answers meet for or countenancing the wicked. For this was to add presumption in divine things, or a breaking away from authority, and this not without a sense of exultation over the rest, in a multitude of words to God, wherein there lacked not sin.

Notes on John 13:31-32

The Lord felt the gravity of the moment, and sew the way and end from the beginning. All the wondrous and everlasting consequences of His death were stretched out before Him, and now that Judas is gone, He gives free expression to the truth in divinely perfect words. “When therefore he was gone out, Jesus saith, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” (Ver. 31.) His own cross is fully in view, and there was laid the basis for all true abiding glory, not for God only (though assuredly for God, for there can be none really unless He be foremost) but for man also in the person of the Lord, the Son of man, who alone had shown what man should be for God, as He had shown what God is, even the Father, in Himself the Son.
It is indeed a theme of incomparable depth, the Son of man glorified, and God glorified in Him; and no statement elsewhere, though from the same lips, was meant so to present and fathom it, though each was perfect for its own object, as the one before us.
In chapter 12, when certain Greeks came to Philip the apostle, desiring to see Jesus, and Andrew and Philip tell Jesus, He answered them, saying, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified, and forthwith, with His most solemn emphasis, He speaks of His death as the condition of blessing to others. So only should He bear much fruit. Otherwise the grain of wheat abode alone. A living Messiah is the crown of glory to Israel; a rejected One, the Son of man, by death opened the door, for the Gentile even, into heavenly things, and is the pattern thenceforth; so much so that to love life in this world is to lose it, to hate it here is to keep it to life eternal; and hence following Him who died is the way to serve Him, secure the Father's honor, and be with the heavenly Master and Lord. It is by death that He takes the place, not of Son of David, according to promise (though this in grace He does also, according to Paul's gospel), but of Son of man, and thus have all things and all men, Greeks no less than Jews, according to the counsels of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. There was no other for guilt to be taken away, for heaven to be opened and enjoyed by those who were once lost sinners. Thus the heavenly glory follows the moral glory; and every hope, for the Gentile most manifestly, turns on Christ's obedience even unto death, wherein Satan's power was utterly broken, and the judgment of God perfectly satisfied; but if the world was therein judged, and its prince to be cast out, Christ lifted up on the cross becomes the attractive center of grace for all, spite of degradation, darkness, and death.
In chapter 17, the Son looks to the Father whom He had glorified, that the Father might glorify Him in heaven. He was Son before time began; He had therefore, of course, glory with the Father before the world was; but He had taken the place of servant in manhood on earth, and now asks that the Father should glorify Him along with Himself with the glory which He had along with Him eternally. A Man to everlasting, He would receive all from the Father, albeit Son from everlasting; and when glorified, it is that He may glorify the Father.
Here, in chapter 13, He speaks of the Son of man glorified, and of God glorified in Him. This has its own peculiar force. The first man was an object of shame and judgment through sin; the second Man, Jesus Christ the righteous, was glorified, and God was glorified in Him. He sees it all summed up in the erode, and so speaks to the disciples, now that the traitor's departure left His heart free to communicate all that filled it. It is not the Father, as such, glorified livingly by His Son in an obedience which knew no limit but His Father's will, but a man, the rejected Messiah, the Son of man, devoting Himself at all cost to the glory of God. This was indeed the Son of man's glory, that God should be, as He was, glorified in Him. Blessed Savior! what a thought, and now a fact and a truth, the truth made known to us, that we might know, not merely God come to us, but ourselves brought to God, and this in peace and joy, because man is glorified in this person of Christ, and God is glorified in Him, a Man, the man Christ Jesus.
And in deed and in truth God is glorified in the cross as nowhere else—His love, His truth, His majesty, His righteousness. Herein, in our case, was manifested the love of God, that God has sent His only-begotten Son, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved Him, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as a propitiation for our sins. And His truth, majesty, and righteousness have been maintained, no less than His love; for if God threatened guilty man with death and judgment, Jesus bore all, as man never could, that His word might be vindicated fully. Never did man prove his enmity to God, never did Satan prove his power over man, as in that cross where the Son of man gave Himself up, in supreme devotedness and self-sacrificing love, to the glory of God. Nowhere was so demonstrated the holiness of God; the impossibility of His tolerating sin; nowhere such love to God, and such love to the sinner. The Son of man was glorified, and God was glorified in Him. When, where, was Jesus so glorified as in stooping to the uttermost when God made sin Him who knew no sin, that we, might become the righteousness of God in Him? where Jesus, feeling the, truth of death and judgment as none ever could, bowed His head, not merely to man's contemptuous hatred and to Satan's wily malice, but to God's indignation against sin-despised of man, abhorred of the nation, abandoned of the disciples, forsaken of God, when most of all needing comfort, doing and suffering His will perfectly in the only unstormed fortress of the enemy's power—to God's glory, and. in His grace? No, there is nothing like it, even where, and where alone, all was perfection, in the life of Christ. This was glorifying the Father as to good in a devotedness and dependence with which none can compare; that, a glorifying God as to evil by an endurance of all that the Holy One of God could suffer from all that God could, and did, inflict in unsparing judgment—both the one and the other, in absolute obedience, and love, and self-renunciation to His glory. And all this, and more than this, blessed be God! we see in Man, the Son of man; that in Him, in that nature which had wrought foul dishonor and rebellion against God from first to last, God might be glorified. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
In that person, and by that work, all was reversed. The foundation was laid, the seed was sown, for an entirely new order of things. Previously God forbore, not only with man, but even with the saints, looking unto Him who should come; and sins were, not remitted exactly, but praeter-mitted (Rom. 3:25), if we would speak with dogmatic propriety. Man was simply and solely a debtor to God's mercy. Nor would we weaken for a moment that man is still a debtor to His mercy, and must ever be. But there is a revelation now in virtue of Christ's death, a new and different and infinite truth, that God is a debtor to the Son of man for glorifying Him as to evil no less than good, not only fulfilling all righteousness, but suffering for all unrighteousness, and this alone in the cross, which constitutes its specific glory, ever fading away from feeble man's eyes, unless filled with light from Christ in glory, never forgotten of God the Father, who, in answer to the cry, “Glorify thy name,” said, “I have both glorified and will glorify it again.” And so He does, and ever will, whatever appearances may for a little while say to the contrary.
His righteousness, once so dreaded a sound, armed (as it could not be without Christ) against us, is now by His death as distinctly for us, as is its spring, the grace which reigns through it unto eternal life. And we boast in hope of His glory, which, without Christ's death, had been instant and everlasting destruction to us, as surely as we have an access by faith into His favor, in which we stand as a present thing. Oh, what has not the death of Christ done for God and for us?
Hence the Lord adds, in verse 32, “If God be glorified in him, God also shall glorify him in himself, and shall glorify him immediately.” If we may reverently so speak, it is God now who has become debtor for the vindication of His glory to the Man who suffered on the cross. Was He not God, from everlasting to everlasting, no less than the Father? yet did He become most truly man, and as man the Son of man—which Adam was not—brought glory to God, even in the matter of sin. Therefore it is that God, having been glorified in Him, could not but also glorify Him in Himself. This He has done by setting Him (not on David's, but) on His Own throne in heaven, the only adequate answer to the cross. There He alone is sat down, the Son, but a man, on God's throne, and this” immediately.” God could not, would not, did not, wait for the kingdom, which will surely come, and Christ in it, when the due time arrives. But the work of Christ was too precious to admit of delay, and God had counsels, long hidden, to bring out meanwhile. There should He glorify Christ immediately; and so it is, as we all know now, however strange to Jewish expectation then.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 2:1-4

The apostle now explains more fully his motive for not going before to Corinth. They ought, from 1 Cor. 4, to have gathered plainly enough why it was. But the flesh never appreciates motives of the Spirit; and the enemy takes pleasure in embroiling the saints, if he fail with those that serve them for Jesus' sake. Now, however, that grace had begun to work in the Corinthians, the language is modified accordingly. The apostle had then asked if he was to come with a rod, or in love and a spirit of meekness. Here, as he had already stated that it was to spare them he had not as yet come to Corinth, he follows up with words that show how far from him it was to lord it over their faith, as some might have drawn from his threat of a rod.
“But I judged this for myself not to come again [or back] unto you in grief. For if I grieve you, who then [is] he that gladdeneth me, if not he that is grieved by me? And I wrote this very thing, that I might not on coming have grief from those from whom I ought to have joy, having trust in you all that my joy is [that] of you all. For out of much tribulation and distress of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that ye should be grieved, but that ye may know the love that I have very [lit. more] abundantly unto you.” (Vers. 1-4.)
It is a mistake that these words imply a former visit in grief; and therefore a second intermediate and unrecorded one, distinct from the first. The work began, as described in Acts 18. The next visit of which scripture speaks was in Acts 20:2, 8, after both epistles were written—the first from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8), the second from Macedonia—but whether from Philippi (as is the traditional idea), or from some other place, as Thessalonica, does not appear. Tradition is certainly wrong in asserting that the first also issued from Philippi, as it may be about the second. 2 Cor. 12:14, 21; 13:1, in no way indicate the fact, but the intention of a second visit, put off because of their state, and in the hope that the delay might give occasion to the intervention of grace, and thus the need of judicial severity be spared, on the apostle's part, toward many in the assembly. Indeed chapter 13: 2 seems plainly to indicate that he had not really been a second time: “I have declared beforehand, and say beforehand, as present the second time, and now absent,” &c.
There is no evidence, in my judgment, that he had gone once to correct abuses, and to exercise discipline. He was anxious to avoid any such necessity; and therefore, instead of going as intended, he went to meet Titus, spite of work most attractive to him, that he might know how his first letter had fared at Corinth.
Actually he had not been; this was the third time he had the purpose of going; and it was the putting off the visit when intended which gave rise to the charge of light-mindedness. The change was due to their failure, and in no sense to his. On the contrary, he preferred in love to them to be grossly misconstrued, and so, instead of explaining to others, he decided this for or with himself, not to come back to them in grief.
At that time his visit would have been sorrow all round—to him certainly—at the sight of the saints, divided by party zeal, entangled by fleshly lusts, dabbling with the world, tampering with idolatry, un-worthily communicating, disorderly in the assembly, and denying—implicitly at least—fundamental doctrine, and not less surely to them, if he convicted their consciences, and dealt with their state as it deserved. Graciously, therefore, had he deferred his visit till the issue of his first letter appeared, wherein he had brought the light of God to bear on all these evils and more, of which report mainly, not a fresh visit, had apprised him. The good news he had received of the effect produced by his letters opened his heart, and let out the deep affection he had for them, spite of their grievous faults. For he is convinced that their grief was his, as also that his joy was theirs. What a wondrous power there is in Christ to produce communion in grief over evil, in the joy of grace, above self and its divisive character and consequences! His desire was the happiness of the saints. No wonder, then, he shrank from going where and when his visit must be one of grief. “For if I grieve you, who then is it that is to gladden me, if not he that is grieved by me?” That is, none but they could satisfy his heart. What love, and delicacy too! He individualizes the saints in this phrase: “And I wrote this very thing, that I might not on coming have grief from those from whom I ought to have joy: having trust in you all that my joy is [that] of you all.”
It is clear thence that it is not only inflicting, but receiving; grief of which the apostle speaks, as indeed it is always according to God in His church, whatever it be in the world. His motive in writing was the removal of what ought to pain them as it did him, that he and they might at his coming rejoice together, Christ being the spring, who can tolerate nothing offensive to God in His temple, which the saints are. And the circumstances, as well as inward feelings of the apostle, were eminently adapted to bring about the result. “For out of much tribulation and distress of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that ye should be grieved, but that ye may know the love which I have very abundantly unto you.” It was very abundant love, but hardly more than to others, as some conceive.

Discourses on Colossians 2: Part 2

We see in this epistle that Christ is all: there is life in Him; then we see the object into which this life grows—the child grows up into that. We get, further, all the scene into which Christ has entered, as the child grows up into the scene around him. Christ is all, and He is in all too. Then another thing, which we are all conscious of—the way in which He has met our need as poor sinners, the work of Christ which He has wrought for us all alone; all that meeting our consciences, and the effect of it too, which is that the Christian is looked at in two different ways—as a sinner saved, and as one who stands in the system and circle of God's purpose; they are two very distinct things, and the way of treating them is distinct too.
There are many thorough and devoted Christians who do not get beyond this first thing that. God has done; but there is another thing—the thought and purpose God had in doing it, our portion looked at as connected with the Second Adam.
He is our Savior as regards the first man, looked at as responsible man, but behind all that, and beyond all that, there is the purpose of God, in which we are looked at, not as in the first man, but in the Second. You get the old man looked at (vers. 12, 18), one dying for our sins, standing in our place as guilty sinners, saving and justifying us; and then you get the second point, “quickened together with Christ.” Whenever he speaks of quickening in these epistles, it is not merely the fact of having life; He looks at us as dead in our sins, not responsible people, but dead, and God not dealing with a responsible man, but a new creation, totally new; it is quite a different aspect, though they run into one another. I have died in Christ— “in which things ye walked when ye lived in them,” and death had to come in as to that life.
There are two things in connection with that, though he does not go much into the second in this epistle. First, we are a new creation, then there is the sphere in which this new creation has its life. Our conversation is in heaven. As to myself, I know that in me dwelleth no good thing, but I am placed, like Christ, before God; He has said, “My Father, and your Father;” as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly—that takes another scope altogether.
We come in as guilty sinners. If I merely get hold of the purpose of God, without conscience being reached as to sins, there is no truth in it; I must know what I am in myself before I can know what I am made in Christ. That is the point I had in my mind, which I desire to have your hearts turned to—the difference between saving a sinner, and one whom Christ is not ashamed to call a brother; that is not true about sinful Adam. Looked at as new creatures, we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. In Colossians he does not go much farther than that. A new creature which grows up as a child does in the sphere in which it lives, in which all its thoughts and affections are developed.
Verse 2. You do not want the wisdom of the world here; the life is of God. We are passed through this world, left here for exercises and trials, much to learn and much to unlearn, but still we get this sphere into which we are brought by grace, as well as the nature which is capable of enjoying it.
Verse 6. So walk ye in Him. If Christ is our life, let us walk in Him, the heart not getting out of this sphere which belongs to the new creation. You must all know, if you know anything of your own hearts, that double-mindedness is a great snare, even in the most sincere. We are constantly surrounded with that which belongs to the old man. I am not talking of sins. Take an unconverted man—his heart is like a highway for everything that comes before him in the world. That is an extreme case, but for us there is the danger of distraction, politics, all the things going on around us, and the heart is not living in the sources of strength, it is double-minded—I do not mean in will, but that which determines the conduct of a Christian is not there, it is not the strait and narrow way for his heart, but that running through his mind and heart, which saps the spiritual strength, and the manna is light food for him, not sweet as honey, but light food. That is the danger of distraction, and so he says, “Beware.”
Verse 8. “Not after Christ.” That is the turning-point. The world has its principles, its rudiments, and all these things that distract us belong to the world's estimate of things, and we do not suspect danger. People are talking of things around, and we are drawn into the ordinary conversation, and we come out with the consciousness that we have been unfaithful to Christ, and our spiritual strength is weakened. When the people were thinking of the leeks, the onions, and the cucumbers, they forgot they had been making bricks without straw in Egypt. A glorified Christ on high is the testimony that the world would not have Christ, and it goes on with its own rudiments and principles. Look at the prayer in Eph. 3—what infinite blessedness! the poor world has not got that, and there you get the sphere of the life.
“In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” I get this wonderful central object, that where all the fullness of the Godhead is, it has all been in a Man: how little our hearts reach up to it! He says, “Strengthened with might,” that we may. But there it is for us, and in us too we can say in one sense; but that which He looks for is, that, having got in a Man, the object of the Father's delight, all the fullness of the Godhead, I should feed upon that with joy. If my soul has really felt and seen the fullness of the Godhead in Him in this world, if my eyes are open to see what He was there, I find this wonderful thing, a Man who is much meeker than I am, who thinks about my feelings much more than I do about His, and He is here close to me—a Man much more true, humble, gracious, affable than any other; and now we are united to Him where He is. You find what people do when they are settled in the truth of justification—they go back, and feed upon the Gospels, He becomes the food of the soul, and its object, and we find this unspeakable truth, that He who is sufficient for the Father's delight is sufficient for mine—my thoughts poor enough, but His perfect. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;” that is what is before us in “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” and this truth was the very first one that was attacked, And this is the reason of one of those cases of gracious thoughtfulness which we get at the well of Samaria: “If thou knewest who it was who had come down so low as to be dependent on a woman like you for a drink of water”
He was utterly alone in a world of sinners, and then worked redemption, and now we are brought through the power of redemption and the Holy Ghost to see Who He is.
He never gives up His Godhead place. It does not cease to be condescension when the thing is complete, and instead of waiting on our infirmities, it is bringing us into His blessedness. What are all the distractions of the world in the face of such a thing! It was His intention we should walk by faith; when He speaks of sight, it is the sight of heavenly things, but it is equally true we cannot live by sight here.
Verse 10. If the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him, we are complete in Him too—complete according to God's mind, in Christ before God. What is the measure of that completeness? Christ. And what is that “in Christ?” God looked down at Christ; looks at Him now, He is all the desire of His heart, and we are complete in Him. All that satisfies God's delight, His spiritual judgment (if I may use such an expression of God), He also brings us into (of course, He keeps His Godhead). All His thoughts as to righteousness, holiness, love, are satisfied in Christ, an