Bible Treasury: Volume 13

Table of Contents

1. Psalm 84
2. Letters on Subjects of Interest
3. Thoughts on Revelation 22
4. Daniel 9:24-26.
5. A Few Words on Leviticus 16
6. The Threshing-Floor of Ornan the Jebusite: Part 1
7. The Threshing-Floor of Ornan the Jebusite: Part 2
8. Moses: 1. Moses' Loss of Canaan
9. Thoughts on Psalm 91 and 102
10. A Word on Luke 2
11. Notes on John 17:1-5
12. Christ's Burial Supper
13. The Service of a Good Man Full of the Holy Ghost and of Faith
14. Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:1-3
15. The Prayer of a Saint
16. Glory and Virtue
17. A Purged Conscience
18. Moses: 2. Moses' Heavenly Glory
19. From Gilgal to Bochim
20. For She Loved Much
21. Notes on John 17:6-13
22. Paul: a Good Conscience Before God
23. Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:4-7
24. Brief Words on 2 Corinthians 11-12
25. Thoughts on Ephesians 1
26. The Seal and the Earnest of the Spirit
27. Testimony for Christ: Part 1
28. Women's Work
29. Scripture Queries and Answers: 2 Corinthians 5:19
30. The Mount of God: Part 1
31. The Guidance of Grace
32. Notes on John 17:14-19
33. John 20
34. Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:7-10
35. Ephesians 5:17-21
36. Testimony for Christ: Part 2
37. Remarks on the Revelation: Part 1
38. Foundation of Christianity (Fragment)
39. Publishing
40. The Mount of God: Part 2
41. Unbelief on the Way
42. Notes on John 17:20-21
43. Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:11-13
44. Spirituality
45. The Holy Spirit in Relation to Testimony Corporate and Individual
46. Rulers and Clergy
47. Remarks on the Revelation: Part 2
48. Rationalism Contrasted to 1 John 5
49. Publishing
50. Brief Words on Genesis 17:1-8
51. Psalm 25
52. General Remarks on Prophetic Word
53. Thoughts on Isaiah 1-5
54. Notes on John 17:22-23
55. Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
56. A Happy Close
57. Varieties in the Coming Glory Answering to Christ's Titles
58. Letters on Subjects of Interest: The Church
59. Publishing
60. The Mount of God: Part 3
61. Brief Thoughts on 1 Chronicles 11-17
62. Thoughts on Psalm 16
63. Psalm 25
64. Thoughts on Isaiah 6-7
65. Notes on John 17:24-26
66. Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
67. The Conflict in Ephesians 6
68. Psalm 1-41: 1-15
69. Thoughts on Isaiah 7-12
70. Notes on John 18:1-11
71. Notes on 2 Corinthians 7:2-18
72. The Prospect
73. Strength in Weakness
74. Letter on Subjects of Interest: Fellowship
75. Psalm 1-41: 16-22
76. Thoughts on Isaiah 13-18
77. Notes on John 18:12-27
78. Notes on 2 Corinthians 8:1-8
79. The Lord's Dealings Now: Part 1
80. Letter on a Subject of Interest: Romans
81. Psalm 1-41: 23-41
82. Thoughts on Isaiah 19-25
83. Communion
84. Notes on John 18:28-40
85. Notes on 2 Corinthians 8:9-15
86. The Lord's Dealings Now: Part 2
87. The Seventh Day and the First
88. Remarks on the Revelation: Part 3
89. Letters on Subjects of Interest: Justification
90. Fragments: Dependent Being Elevated by Want
91. Psalm 4
92. Thoughts on Isaiah 26-30
93. Notes on John 19:1-15
94. Notes on 2 Corinthians 8:16-24
95. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 1. The History of Faith
96. Remarks on the Revelation: Part 4
97. Fragment on Matthew 21-22
98. Acts 13:9
99. Thoughts on Isaiah 31-35
100. John 8:12 Compared With 9:5
101. Notes on John 19:1-30
102. Notes on 2 Corinthians 9:1-7
103. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 2. The History of Faith
104. Letters on Subjects of Interest: Numbers
105. God's Comforts the Stay of the Soul
106. Remarks on the Revelation: Part 5
107. Thoughts on Isaiah 36-39
108. Notes on John 19:31-42
109. Notes on 2 Corinthians 9:8-15
110. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 3. The History of Faith
111. Remarks on the Revelation: Part 6
112. Notes on John 20:1-2
113. Notes on 2 Corinthians 10:1-6
114. Another Gospel Which Is Not Another
115. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 4. The History of Faith
116. An Address to My Brethren and Follow-Members of the Church Which Is Christ's Body, Known by Whatever Name?1
117. Burnt-offering Compared With Those of Atonement Day
118. Notes on John 20:3-10
119. Notes on 2 Corinthians 10:7-12
120. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 5. The History of Faith
121. An Address to My Brethren and Follow-Members of the Church Which Is Christ's Body, Known by Whatever Name?2
122. Exodus
123. Notes on John 20:11-16
124. Notes on 2 Corinthians 10:13-18
125. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 6. The History of Faith
126. Ye Serve the Lord Christ
127. Saul Who Also Is Called Paul
128. Remarks on the Revelation: Part 7
129. Scripture Queries and Answers: John 10:36
130. The Lord's Coming: Correction
131. The Heavenly Calling Foreshewn: Part 1
132. The Last Words of David
133. Notes on John 20:17-18
134. Notes on 2 Corinthians 11:1-15
135. The Galatian Error
136. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 7. The History of Faith
137. Remarks on the Revelation: Part 8
138. The Heavenly Calling Foreshewn: Part 2
139. Psalm 22:17
140. Notes on John 20:19-23
141. Notes on 2 Corinthians 11:16-21
142. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 8. The History of Faith
143. Thoughts on Revelation 2:8-17
144. Revelation and Rationalism
145. On Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15
146. Notes on John 20:24-29
147. Thoughts on Romans 7-8
148. Notes on 2 Corinthians 11:22-33
149. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 9. The History of Faith
150. Thoughts on Revelation 3-4
151. Revised New Testament: Introduction and Matthew
152. Revised New Testament: Matthew
153. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 10. The History of Faith
154. Our Priesthood
155. Notes on John 20:30-31
156. Peter and Paul
157. Notes on 2 Corinthians 12:1-6
158. Revelation 5
159. Revised New Testament: Mark
160. Revised New Testament: Luke
161. David and Solomon: Part 1
162. Notes on John 21:1-6
163. Notes on 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
164. The Elements of the World
165. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 11. The History of Faith
166. Thoughts on Revelation 17
167. Revised New Testament: John
168. David and Solomon: Part 2
169. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 12. The History of Faith
170. Notes on John 21:7-14
171. Notes on 2 Corinthians 12:11-18
172. Liberty
173. Thoughts on Revelation 18-19
174. Revised New Testament: Acts
175. David and Solomon: Part 3
176. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 13. The History of Faith
177. Notes on John 21:15-17
178. Notes on 2 Corinthians 12:19-21
179. Thoughts on Revelation 19
180. Practical Hints on the Ruin State of the Church
181. Revised New Testament: Romans
182. Publishing
183. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 14. The History of Faith
184. Notes on John 21:18-19
185. Notes on 2 Corinthians 13:1-5
186. Conversion and Sealing
187. Open Exclusivism
188. A Few Remarks From a Private Letter in Reply to a Friend Who Enclosed the Paper
189. Thoughts on Revelation 22:16-17
190. Revised New Testament: 1 and 2 Corinthians
191. Publishing
192. On Leviticus 4 and 6:24-30
193. The Declared Purpose and Present Moral Processes: 15. The History of Faith
194. Not Many Folds One Flock
195. Notes on John 21:20-25
196. Notes on 2 Corinthians 13:6-14
197. Revised New Testament: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians
198. Revised New Testament: Ephesians
199. Not Man's Conscience or Spirit but God's Spirit
200. Publishing

Psalm 84

This psalm is the expression of the desires of those who had long been deprived of the joy of being in the courts of Jehovah during the captivity. It is the expression of the joy of seeing them again, and of taking the road which leads there even by the valley of weeping, of Baca. The church also moves forward toward the tabernacle of God, but it is that which is not made by human hands.
The subject of each psalm is ordinarily expressed at the beginning in the first verses. The tabernacles of Jehovah are His house. The faithful soul is there at home in his rest. One cannot find oneself at rest when the object of the heart is still beyond the point we have reached, even were that place we have stopped at the most desirable in the world. The first thing which is here presented to us is that the house of Jehovah is the Israelite's abiding-place. (Vers. 1-4.) “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be still praising thee.”
But blessed also is “the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways,” that is, the ways to Jehovah's house. Verse 4 contains our joy in hope; verse 5 contains actual experience along the way. Passing through Baca, they make it a spring; “the rain also filleth the pools [or, with blessings]. They go from strength to strength, appearing [each] in Zion before God.” When we begin our course here below, we know God, and we learn also more to know Him; it is a feeling which grows and strengthens by communion. God has thereby bound the hearts of Christians. It is the manifestation and accomplishment of His love. The more I know the perfectness of God, the more I know His love, the more also I feel how precious He is to my soul. If my knowledge of God is separated from the knowledge of the love of God, I have not the life of God. The highest perfection of God is manifested to the heart by the first visit He makes to the heart of sinners, and in this respect it cannot be known more by the most advanced child. Here below the heart of man does not answer to the praise of God. One could not praise Him in the streets of a town: the heart of man is enmity against God. The children of God together enjoy God and prepare to go into a world without an echo to raise the voice of the gospel. It is the desire of the converted heart that God may be praised; and he will be fully satisfied in the house of God. Impossible to find repose of soul till God is praised unceasingly by those that surround Him.
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee.” If I have a difficulty, I in my feebleness have need of strength to sustain me in patient endurance. Peter without this strength denied Jesus. We may be weary when we act in our strength, for what is the strength of the flesh? When we act in the power of God, it is impossible. No creature can separate us from the power of God or the love of God: what is stronger? Jesus ever dependent was the strongest, and overcame the world. God has set our rest at the end of a path that we are treading; and it is good for us in order that we may make the experience of our own heart. It is the persons already redeemed who are on the road toward the rest of God. The word of God renders the thing surer than any other testimony could. It is a defile to pass on the other side of which is the glory. Into this defile we must go down. One may there lose sight of the glory; and the way may be difficult; but we have the certainty that it is the road to the glory. God has told us that in this road we shall be despised by the world and in conflict with Satan. He has told us these things before; that, when they do come, we might believe His testimony to be true.
Here below we find not the rest but the way; but the way should be in our heart. Thus the valley of Baca, a ruined earth, is changed into a fountain. If we are in communion with God, every difficulty becomes the occasion for the display of the glory of God. (2 Thess. 1) The timid child finds joy in the assurance of its mother's love when some danger presents itself. We are often overwhelmed because our strength is not in God, who would have His grace sufficient for us; which is more precious than the removal of the thorn in the flesh. “The rain also filleth the pools.” It comes not from the earth, but from heaven, to which we should be attached and whence we may expect everything. There is no such sense of refreshment here below, that I may know that God takes extra care of me, to give me water and manna and strength, and in a word everything. It is a blessing that we should be thus brought low: He has not done so either to the Egyptians or to the Canaanites. We ought to live on that word which comes out of the mouth of God. (Deut. 8: 2-5.)
The effect of these things is to make us “go from strength to strength.” The difficulties are meant to make us know new strength on God's part. We are not actually capable of enjoying all that there is in God. Also all is not yet given us. God gets more place in our hearts. The empty or hard places of the heart are manifested; and God has to fill or clear them. The Lord God of hosts, that is to say, the God who governs all things, He who is faithful to His promises and who has all things at His disposal, the God of His people, God ever the same, God presents Himself in three different ways: Jehovah or the Eternal, God of Jacob, and God of hosts. “Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.” There is the assurance, the pledge of divine favor. God regards us in Christ; and all that we ask of Him in the name of Jesus He will do. Better be a doorkeeper in the house of God than dwell in the courts of the world. If our confidence is in man, we shall find ourselves sooner or later where man will fail us; and there is what Satan waits for in order to sift us. To trust in God is the hardest thing, as it lays the flesh under our feet and flesh can gain nothing by it; but it is inexpressible joy for the heart.

Letters on Subjects of Interest

Beloved Brother,
I thank you for your letters, which always interest me. God is so faithful to His own, that, if there is any disposition to rise, God humbles, as we see in the meeting at—. He would not have us out of the place of security and blessing. Discipline is more difficult than people think, because they are not humbled enough to think of a brother's sin. They do not feel enough what one is oneself, nor love consequently for others.
I have been deeply interested and touched by the reciprocity of concern between the Father and the Son in their love for us. (John 17) They communicate mutually, or at least by the mouth of the Son who addresses the Father, and I learn in what way they share this love. The Father has given us to the Son; the Son has manifested to us the name of the Father; He has kept the disciples in the Father's name. Now the Father is to keep them, and to bless them because they are His own, but also because the Son is glorified in them. The Son has also given us all the words the Father had given Him for His own joy. What a thought that the Father and the Son think of us thus!
Generally in John it is the love of the Father and of the Son which characterizes grace. God is light, but light shines in darkness, and the darkness comprehends it not. But if no one has ever seen God, the only-begotten Son who is in the Father's bosom has declared Him. So in chapter 8 it is His word, and “I am;” in chapters 9, 10, it is grace, and “I and the Father are one.” They would believe they were doing God service [in persecuting His own]; and this, because they knew not the Father nor the Son.
New York, April 23rd, 1867.
The Lord is come from the Father to reveal Him to us as He has known Him. We come from Christ to reveal Him, as we know Him; that is true ministry-a happy and blessed thing, but serious in its character. “Peace be unto you,” said the Lord; “as my Father hath sent me, so have I sent you.” What a mission, although we are not apostles!
September, 1871.
Dear Brother,
That which constitutes the difficulty of the first chapter of John's first Epistle, and even of all the epistle, is, that the doctrine is there presented in an abstract manner. But in sum I believe that the mind of the Spirit is this: God is no longer hidden. We have fellowship with Him in the full revelation of His grace-with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Under the law God did not come out; man did not go into His presence. Now the Father is revealed in the Son and has given us a life in which we enjoy His fellowship. But then it is with God Himself-no more veil-and God is light He is perfectly pure and reveals everything. Now since there is no more veil and God has revealed Himself, we must walk in the light, as He Himself is in the light. But in this position one is perfectly cleansed by the blood of Jesus; next, we enjoy fellowship one with another.
It is this full revelation of God which is of the essence of Christianity: fullness of grace, introducing us into fellowship, and the Father known in the Son; but it is with God, if the thing is true, and God is light. The fellowship is with God, according to His nature, and without veil. But if we come to Him, it is as washed in the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, and we are before Him, without veil, white as snow. Now the Christian walks in the consciousness of this, having a nature which is connected with it: we are light in the light in the Lord. But this must be in the light, as God is in the light; all is judged according to the revelation of God, who judges all things. One is in the light, as God is in the light. These things are written that we sin not; if any man sin, the remedy is in the first verses of chapter ii. But the verses of which you speak teach us that we are in the light, as God is in the light. Now if we speak of fellowship when we are not in it, we lie, for He is the light.

Thoughts on Revelation 22

The prophetic, part of the Book of Revelation closes at chapter 21:8. Then we get from verse 9 a description of the heavenly city, in that shape and form. As to what it is-what cannot enter into it, and what it reveals-this chapter gives more the outgoings of it, the river of the water of life, tree for healing of the nations, &c. This closes at verse 5, and ends entirely at verse 7. Then it was, “I, John, saw these things,” and certain addresses are given which I desire to speak about; also a general truth, bringing down the light of the heavenly city on us now.
The Lord put Israel under the law, and there was complete failure; but still He will accomplish, in infallible power, what He had promised to Israel, for “He will write his law on their hearts,” He will accomplish in power to Israel what He had given in responsibility. The same in regard to the church-He has set it in responsibility among men now.
The practical application we should derive from these promises is, that there is nothing here morally that we ought not now to be looking for. By the power of the Holy Ghost we should have a present anticipation or realization. Of course, when there is the full result, there will be a great difference-the body freed from sin and death, &c.; but still more, “The river of the water of life;” for it is said now, “He that believeth, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” The tree of life was the manifestation of grace, the leaves being for the healing of the nations-a beautiful character of the church, to be ministering the healing power of grace. In Israel will be seen, when reigning, righteousness-” a Savior that is an hundred years old, shall he die?” &c. But here I find, even in the glory, the blessed principle of divine grace through which we came there. The earnest is given us now. Christ “having been made a curse for us,” the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it: the immediate throne of God is now within the church. Do we not judge those who are within? The Holy Ghost also sets up His throne in the heart of a saint, because it is the witness that there is no curse; he is not judged for sin, the word of God being the judge, a discerner between good and evil according to God. When this is not accomplished, it is a testimony against the saint. “His servants shall serve him.”
Then there are many hindrances and conflicts with the enemy in service, but still, what I am called on to do now will then be fully accomplished; now, as far as we are spiritual, we enter into the anticipation. His name shall be on their forehead. By-and-by there will be a perfect display of Him whom we serve; but now all men ought to see the display of Christ's name in us—to speak, and walk, and meditate as He did. In the glory it will be Christ reflected in everything. So now it ought to be. The more we search into the details of the glory in this blessed book, the more shall we learn the higher blessings to enjoy. The Holy Ghost brings it out for us to anticipate now, learning the grace that comes in, and the life that flows out. God will accomplish the highest desires that now we have for our comfort and joy to anticipate; all will be accomplished. God produces desires within us that nothing but the glory can satisfy. The Holy Ghost produces the power now to enter into these things. This shows the importance of our minds dwelling there. The lovely fruit then is seen, “Whatsoever is lovely” or “of good report, think on these things.” How bright the heart would be! What growing up to the knowledge and preciousness of Christ, if accustomed to be where God dwells! Christ was one over whom circumstances had no power, except to draw out God's grace; and so should we be, for He is our example. Mark the outgoings of His grace to those in need. Christ was not governed, though of course acted upon, by circumstances to show grace, the power of His affections being drawn up to His Father—there was no effect in Christ, only expressive of what was in Him-the very fountain of life, the source of all He did.
“He that testifieth of these things saith, Surely I come quickly.” At the end of the chapter three times it is repeated. What has the Spirit of God declared? Two things have been shown in this book. The terrible history of man's pride, and God's judgment against it. Then he takes the saint out of that scene, and sets His heart at the end of these things, even bringing before him the heavenly Jerusalem. This has always a sanctifying effect, it stops many a haughty word. In the former part of the book I see God knowing everything. This I might not be able to explain, but I see the result of all. We are called on to “keep the sayings of the book.” The soul has given a sort of gravity in the world, not to be meddling with what will be judged. The next thing, beloved brethren—it is a step further He goes, when addressing you, or what has been before, or going on now, or is to be hereafter: whoever receives these things may find this stay for his soul, “I am Alpha and Omega,” &c. There is the rest, as to all that has been performed, and what is unaccomplished. The heavenly Bringer-in of the light that is to shine in the world-the Star of heaven to arise on this benighted world.
What is the spiritual feeling of the church after all has been gone through-after the terrible schism between light and darkness! What does the church say? “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” Those who have the place of the bride desire the Bridegroom, having the blessed fellowship together. Look at chapters i., iii.; there you see the full expression of this. As the Faithful Witness He was seen on earth, for no man could see Christ on earth, but saw God in Him. Whether He took the little child in His arms, or comforted the poor widow whose son was stretched on the bier, all exhibited God, and I know Him as such. He is also “the First-begotten from the dead,” witness to God for us, hereafter as “Prince of the kings of the earth.” What does the church cry at this contemplation The Spirit of God in her breaks forth at this revelation of joy, and says, “Unto him that loveth us; and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” she testifies to the world, “Lo, he cometh.” The church's own position is of the testimony for Christ. The Spirit cannot speak to the saint's heart without the saint giving a response. We get the result of all the testimony, closing with what Christ is in Himself. It turns from the city now to Him who is the center. Why am. I in the golden streets? Because Christ is in the Midst of the city, not now washing my feet, for the place I walk on cannot defile, for it is righteousness and true holiness. In the whole scene all is summed up— “I, Jesus.” He must have the heart of the church, He may tell the church many things, open to them His mind. As to Abraham, it was said, “Shall I hide from Abraham the thing I will do?” Also says Christ, “Ye are my friends.”
After He has communicated what He was going to do, and done all, He says, “I, Jesus.” He Himself comes and addresses the church. Beloved brethren, when the Spirit of Christ works in the heart, it says to Christ, “It is You I want-come and bring in the glory.” “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” Not merely the bride, but the Spirit. The source and substance of what is in the heart is the Bridegroom. What is the next desire? “Let him that heareth say, Come.” He calls on the saint to join and say, “Come.” Those who have entered into the full apprehension say to others, “Come.” This is the next step. The church at the same time has the blessing in itself, that is, the water of life, and turns round and says, “Let him that is athirst come,” because we have the waters of life-not yet in all the blessed fullness, but we are sure the river of life is flowing in the heart of each saint, however feeble. Christ said this first, in John 7, “Whosoever is athirst,” &c., and now sets the church in the very same place of invitation, because it has got eternal life. Perhaps some here would not say this? See here the blessed consciousness of what the church has got: salvation no uncertainty, though many may pass through trial in getting it; but I speak of the portion of the church. Do you doubt that Christ has life? Is there a word to the contrary? But what is the record? Not one of uncertainty, “but this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
There is the gospel, the answer of peace given by God to those whose souls are working in this way. Peter, in his address to the Jews, shows this. The gospel, the revelation of what is in Christ, and the answer of peace to the conscience under all the anxieties produced by having neglected Him. He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit; so the Christians can say,” Let him that is athirst come” —not merely say it, but go and testify to Christ as hard as ever he can.
“Whosoever will, let him come,” is another step. There is the same certainty of having life. It comes fresh from the throne of God and the Lamb. Having the water of life, I ant looking for the glory in saying all this. “Behold, I come quickly.” The way in which, both importunate and solemn, Jesus presses it on the hearts of His saints, to say, “Come quickly,” as much as to express, “I leave on your hearts the last words;” with which He closes the book, and solemnly adds, “Amen.” The Christian again breaks out, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Whatever has been testified about, this is to be laid on the heart of the church. Could your heart say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus"? Having heard this word of comfort and encouragement, can you say this? If you are not at peace, you cannot say so, but rather the Lord would come and take you to-morrow, and not today. If I look for Him as a Judge, I cannot say, “Come.” if the conscience is at peace, it does not enter into the question of sin. Having blessed me with every spiritual blessing, Christ comes without sin to receive me to Himself. In practice the affections enter in. You may see a person truly in Christ, and not happy in God, not before God; the conscience active, but the affections not right there. I must have my affections in my conscience. The effect of His work is to bring me to God. The Holy Ghost sets an His throne in the heart, and judges what we are not to be judged for.
If, by careless walking in the flesh, or having my interest in the world, I cannot discern my state, the Holy Ghost takes these things that are in my heart, and makes me see what 1 have allowed, and I get exercised, troubled, and ashamed. I doubt not of being saved, but have lost the fountain of joy. My heart cannot be in this state, if I am doing things in His house that are not pleasant to Him. I shall not like for Him to come and see I am neglecting Him. Any one of these things, contrary to His mind, will hinder our looking to God. There ought to be that sifting in the heart, that the desire of our souls may rest in confidence in the work done for us; and the desire too, that the Holy Ghost may drive away everything from our affections that is not of God, and our affections may be so brought into our conscience, that we may say, Come, Lord Jesus; even so come.
There is peculiar graciousness in this invitation to the world to come and take of the river of the water of life. Here is the authority of the church for considering herself as the bride before she really is so manifested. The angel (in ver. 16, and other passages) is the representative of the Lord; even though declared to be an angel, he stands as the distinct messenger of the Lord Jesus, and speaks as His representative.

Daniel 9:24-26.

My Dear Brother,
I beg to submit to your consideration, and that of the readers of the “Bible Treasury,” the following reflections on the subject of Daniel's seventy weeks, or rather of the sixty-nine weeks. If the Lord enables me to contribute any true thoughts on this subject, I shall be very thankful. Concerning Himself, as it so directly and immediately does, it cannot but be of the greatest interest to the Christian. We all agree that the seventy weeks date their commencement from the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, according to Neh. 2; but I have never seen a satisfactory elucidation of this period with respect to dates. This has caused me no little consideration, and with the result which I here lay, not dogmatically, but tentatively, before you. To me the matter has been rendered more difficult by the fact that the birth of our Savior was really three years before the nominal epoch; for it is evident that historical reckoning is affected by this circumstance. I also assume that the date of the accession of Artaxerxes (Longimanus) was 464 B.C. (common reckoning).
Before entering upon the computation, there are two or three introductory remarks I wish to make. In the first place, it does not appear that the birth or life of our Lord is referred to in Daniel, but only the crucial fact, or period, of His death. (Chap. 9: 24-26.) The prophet refers elsewhere to what would follow in due season, as also to political events preceding His being “cut off,” but he nowhere refers explicitly to the birth or life of our Lord. In the next place he refers to Him as “Messiah, the Prince” (chap. 9: 25), that is, as the royal Son of David. Moreover, the wicked king, or direct opposer of Christ as king, is spoken of in chapter 11: 39. It is as the Prince, as the rightful King, that Christ is spoken of, not as Prophet, or as Priest. Hence the Antichrist, but as the wicked king, is also brought upon the scene, and all is connected with Jerusalem, whether locally, or as to dates.
At His birth Jesus was announced as the Christ, and as the Son of God. Also at His baptism He was acknowledged as Son of man and Son of God. Thus there could be no mistake as to His personal glory. But I believe the terminus ad gum (as to the sixty-nine weeks) was not at His birth, or at His baptism, but at the formal presentation of Christ to Jerusalem as the King, the Son of David, as recorded in Matt. 21, John 12, and which was followed by His cleansing the temple. But the city of the great king as formally refused Him. This is the event we are, it appears to me, to reckon to, and His death, following almost immediately, leaves no great gap which the word “after” otherwise implies in, “after the three-score and ten weeks shall Messiah be cut off.” His presentation to Jerusalem as King, and as Son of David, and rejection, followed immediately by His death, is the grand point in the prophecy or revelation made to the prophet. The Messiah is at once brought into view, not as Prophet, but as King, and that in connection with Jerusalem, and He is rejected and “cut off.” No sojourn of His in the world (so precious to us) is alluded to.
Now as to the reckoning. Assuming that Artaxerxes came to the throne in B.C. 464, and allowing that the birth of Christ was three years before the nominal epoch, we find that the twentieth year of Artaxerxes would be 441 years before the actual birth of Christ. To this we should have to add 33, or rather 35, years (as it is usual in scripture to include parts of the first and last years as entire years), so that we get in all 476 years, and reducing these to prophetical years of 360 days to the year, the 476 become 483 years, that is, taking the complete number. But multiplying 69 by 7 is equal to 483. Hence the period seems thus made out, on the assumption of the correctness of dates now probably pretty well authenticated.
Yours affectionately, J. B. P.

A Few Words on Leviticus 16

This chapter treats of the great sacrifice which was made once a year. The Red Heifer was a sacrifice whereof they kept the ashes for purification with water every time one was defiled by a dead body.
Propitiation for our sins was made by Christ once forever. (Heb. 9; 10) The presence of God accompanies all the sacrifices. It is only in His presence that we can enjoy His communion. (Ver. 2.) The high priest entered alone before God and made atonement for himself and for his house. (Vers. 3, 6.) Then taking the two goats for Israel he cast lots, one for Jehovah and the other for Azazel, that is, the scape-goat; the one to offer for sin, the other to let go, with the sins of the people confessed on its head, into the wilderness. (Vers. 7-10.) By the blood of the slain goat expiation was made for Israel as a people. Jesus who interceded for them on the cross does so still. But He is not yet come out from the holiest to make the application of this sacrifice to the people, though those of the Jews who believe enter anticipatively into the blessing, being fore-hopers in Christ (Eph. 1), as also the Gentiles who have heard and believe the gospel. The Jews as a people will believe when they see; the Christian, the church, believes without having seen, and there is an especial blessedness in this respect. Having the call of grace, we have all the efficacy of these sacrifices. Indeed typically Christians are foreshewn in the offering for Aaron and his house, in distinction from the people provided for in the goats. To speak fully, our position is identification with the high priest himself within the rent veil. The Jews await the reconciliation when He comes. We in the Spirit are viewed in Him already within according to the efficacy of Christ as the bullock, His sweet savor having previously filled the sanctuary. ( Vers. 11-14.)
There were, as we have said, two goats, one for Jehovah, the other for the people. The first was killed and its blood brought within, and sprinkled like the bullock's upon and before the mercy-seat, the figure of Christ's blood presented to God. (Ver. 15.) The other goat, charged with the sins of Israel, is not brought forward till after an end is made of reconciling the holy place and the tabernacle and the altar (vers. 16-20), when Aaron lays his hands on its head, and makes confession, and sends it away into the wilderness.
That God might be fully glorified and act freely in love to sinners, expiation must be made and the blood be offered to Him. If God tolerated sin, it would not be love to sinners, but indifference to evil which would dishonor His character: such is God's love as worldly men conceive it. (Psa. 50:21.) But it is God who is to judge man, not man God; and when God pronounces in His word, man has no right to say, Wherefore? The converted have spiritual intelligence that knows God cannot accept evil.
It was meet that the Captain of salvation should be made perfect through suffering. (Heb. 2) The Son of man must be lifted up, the great responsible surety, put to death as man for sin. The character of God must be perfectly glorified, and our sins be completely banished from us, in order for us to have everlasting fellowship with God. The blood having been presented and expiation made, love can flow freely from God's throne, and grace be preached to the sinner. It is what puts the conscience at large as to our sins which were all put on the head of Jesus who confessed them.
Observe the three things: 1st, the blood presented to God in the holiest; 2nd, the sanctuary and tabernacle and altar cleansed by the blood from defilement; 3rd, the iniquities of Israel confessed on the scape-goat. To these correspond: 1st, Christ gone into heaven by His own blood where God dwells in light inaccessible; 2nd, this world in relationship with God, where Christ suffered; our altar of burnt-offering, where we find our Savior in His sacrifice, the ground of reconciling all things; 3rd, sins confessed and borne by the great Substitute, which literally belongs to the people beholding Him come forth at the end of the age, but of course true of us now. He died for that nation, though not for it only, but for the scattered children of God who meanwhile believe, while Israel remains outside. We draw near into the holiest through the rent veil and look on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face. The way into the holiest was not yet manifested while as yet the first tabernacle had its standing. It is to-day, which makes a great difference between the Jews and us. The Jews could, according to their light, do things which would be great sins for us. We have been let into the presence of God without veil as to the principle of our relations with God. There is nothing between God and us. If the veil is rent, God in all His holiness and the world in all its sins are in presence without anything between. How is it God does not destroy the world? Jesus was made sin; but therefore it is that the sin of the Jews subsists without veil.
All the means God employed in vain till the death of Christ have shown the result of the experience God has made during four thousand years. Grace, that is, the activity of God in love toward condemned sinners—grace begins to be manifested. Christ's blood presented to God leaves God to act holily in His love toward the lost. Grace has appeared and goes forth. The world is condemned, but judgment is not yet executed. It is to-day the acceptable time, the day of salvation. Such is the actual economy. The blood is the life, the way of God's love. There is no inconsistency on God's part, if we should find our rest in Him. The blood of Christ's rejection is not on us, His blood is before the eyes of God; it has been shed, and sprinkled on the throne of God which becomes necessarily a throne of grace.
If my soul lives to God, I feel how precious is the blood. But my thoughts are not the measure of my assurance. Faith looks to the thoughts of God; and I know by faith that God estimates the blood of Christ as it ought to be estimated. He regards it always with the same eyes. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” There is the assurance of faith and our security. Nothing more than redemption has brought out God's horror against sin. To be always in God's presence; to be in rest as to our relations with God, we know the blood of Christ accepted, of God. He has received the expiation. There is no more question then of sin between God and me. That does not settle the warfare against sin. If I think of myself I have the conscience of sins; if I think of Christ before God, I have it no more. The blood is before God, and, if the sin is not entirely expiated, the blood is worth nothing. The blood, is God's answer to every accusation of Satan against me. His accusations thus fall; there is a source of continual peace. There is a perfect expression of God's love toward us. God loved us in our sins, and when wearied with them, in place of getting rid of us, He got rid of our sins by Christ. God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son. He manifested His love in the cross. He did not spare His own Son for us, and the most precious object of heaven He gave up for us. The love of God, in Christ's expiation for man-this is what Christ's cross teaches and manifests. Conscience awakes, but finds in Christ a full repose.
In the goat Azazel we see Christ substituted for us, as if He had committed all our sins laid and confessed on His head; for He was at once victim and priest. It is a great comfort to know that all my sins have been confessed before God, and it encourages and engages me to confess them. Impossible to confess my sins to God if I think that those sins will make me condemned; whereas, if Christ did, and if wrath has already fallen on Him, our heart is comforted, and we can boldly confess our sins without fear of being condemned. This is what takes guile from the spirit. (Psa. 32) Thus we understand the church to be everlastingly saved, unless Christ died in vain. Would it be just to impute to me the sins of which Christ already bore the penalty? Impossible to fathom this love of Christ. The more holy He was, the more He felt the weight of our sins. The more He understood the holiness of God, the greater was His horror of sin.

The Threshing-Floor of Ornan the Jebusite: Part 1

1 Chronicles 21
It is an affecting and solemn truth presented to us by scripture, to which we desire that our thoughts may ever be fully subject, that our God has, through our transgression, been separated from His due place, as over the work of His own hands; that this world which is all His handy-work has acknowledged another god and prince. (John 14:30; 1 Cor. 4:4.) Since the day when the Lord God walked with Adam in paradise, He has had no abiding place among us. He has visited the earth in divers manners, to bring mercies to His chosen in the midst of it; but when His errand of love has been finished, He has, as is said, “gone his way” again. (Gen. 18:33.) He would, it is true, have found a place among His chosen Israel, but He was, even by them, too speedily disowned, and His tarrying there proved to be but as that of a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night. (Jer. 14:8.) “The ox knoweth his owner,” said the God of Israel by His prophet, “and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isa. 1:3.)
But the Lord's title to the earth, of course, stands unimpeachable; “the cattle on a thousand hills” are His, “the earth, and the fullness thereof;” and accordingly, in one way or another, He has been making continual claim to it in the face of the usurper, so as to express His purpose of finally taking it into full possession again. This indeed was so clearly intimated by the first promise, that the whole creation is represented as hoping and waiting for it. (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 8:19-21.) And so in the day of the kingdom of our God these hopes of the creation shall not be ashamed; for the “heavens shall then rejoice, and the earth be glad, the sea and the fullness thereof; the field shall then be joyful, and all that is therein: the floods, and the hills, and the trees of the wood shall rejoice before Jehovah.”
By tracing for a while the dealings of the Lord with this world of ours, we may discern the ways in which He has been pleased since the day when man sold himself and his inheritance into the hand of a strange lord thus to claim the earth as His. When the giants of old had finished the antediluvian apostasy, corrupting the earth and filling it with violence, doing with it as if it were their own, the Lord asserted His right by judging that generation as oppressors and wrong-doers. (Gen. 6:1-13.)
Then in the new world He witnessed His title to the earth by making man the tenant of it under Himself, delivering it into the hand of Noah, under express condition imposed according to His own good pleasure. (Gen. 9:1-7.) And again, when these children of men, doing the deeds of their fathers, affected independency of God, their rightful Lord, as they did in the matter of Babel, He again asserted His right in the way of judgment, scattering the confederates over the face of the earth. (Gen. 11:1-9.)
But the Lord, in His fruitful sovereign wisdom, had now another mode of continuing His claim to the earth. This scattering of the nations from Babel He so orders as to have respect to His setting up one of them as the future witness of His name and rights. (Deut. 32:8, 9.) And in the meantime He separates the father of this nation to Himself (Gen. 12:1), making him also personally the witness of the same truth—that, let the people imagine what vain things they might, Jehovah, and He alone, was “possessor of heaven and earth.” (Gen. 14:18-22.)
Accordingly, then, when in due course of providence Abraham's nation was manifested, the Lord, who had chosen them to be His witnesses, puts them into possession of a portion of the earth, to hold it under Him, their Lord; thus showing that He who took what portion He pleased had title to the whole; as He says, “Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine.” (Ex. 19:5.) And Israel, thus established as God's people, should have continued in the midst of, but separated formally from, the nations, reflecting the light of God's glory as King of all the earth. But again and again they revolted, and rejected Jehovah-Christ from being king over them. The nation first (1 Sam. 8:7), then the house of David (Isa. 8:13; Jer. 21:12), give up their testimony to God; and at length the wicked husbandmen cast “the heir” himself out of the vineyard, and slew him. (Matt. 21:39.)
Abraham's seed thus refused to do the works of Abraham, and then Abraham's God abandoned their land, leaving the boar out of the wood to waste it, and the wild beast of the field to devour it. But the Lord has had pity for His holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, and has called forth another witness to the glory of it. By the voice of heralds He is publishing “Jesus and the resurrection,” opening the kingdom of heaven and the Father's house to all believers, and letting all men know that the kingdoms of the world are become His, and that all things are to be put under His feet again. (Heb. 2:8; Rev. 11:15.)
But how is the kingdom of the world to become the Lord's? And how is His presence to be preserved among us? We can prepare Him no habitation or dominion, for we have been found unable even to retain that which in His love He once committed to us. The Lord, then, must, and so He will, prepare Himself a place over and among the children of men, so as to secure His presence and authority (O blessed expectation!) from ever being clouded or denied again.
When the Lord took Israel of old, as we have seen, to be His peculiar people, of course He prepared Himself a place among them—the tabernacle first, and then the temple. The tabernacle was but a moveable pavilion; there Jehovah dwelt as between curtains, and walked as in a tent, refusing, with infinite grace, to enter into His rest while His Israel sojourned from one nation to another people. (2 Sam. 7:5-8.) But the temple was fixed; for when Israel was brought into the land of their covenant, and all their enemies had been reduced, then the Lord would enter into rest among them. In their affliction having been afflicted, He would now rejoice in their joy (Isa. 63:9); and He whom the heaven cannot contain seated Himself in the midst of His chosen nation.
But where was the honored spot? Who of us that clings with all desire (as, if we be saints, we at least should) to the hope of God's restored presence and kingdom in this world, that would not but know something of it? I speak not of what travelers have told us of it, but how the oracles of God mark it out. And from them we learn this simple story of it: that it had been the threshing-floor of Oman the Jebusite, and was the place where the angel of God stayed his destructive course through the city of Jerusalem, whither he had been summoned by the sin of the king and the people. It was this spot which became the place of the temple, and most fitly so, as we shall see, if we can a little more narrowly survey the ground as it is spread out before us by the Spirit of God in 1 Chron. 21.
(To be continued.)

The Threshing-Floor of Ornan the Jebusite: Part 2

1 Chronicles 21
Verses 1-6. “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said unto Joab and the elders of the people, Go number Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. And Joab answered, The Lord make this people an hundred times so many more than they be; but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? Why, then, doth my lord require this thing? Why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel? Nevertheless the king's hand prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the number unto David; and all they of Israel were a thousand thousand, and an hundred thousand men that drew sword; and Judah was four hundred threescore, and ten thousand men that drew sword. But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them, for the king's word was abominable to Joab.”
At the time when this scene opens, the sword of David and of Israel had been victorious over all their enemies. The Philistines had been subdued—Moab had brought gifts—garrisons were put in Damascus, and the Syrians, as also the Edomites, had become David's servants. With all promised blessings the house of God's servant had been blest, and naught of the goodness of which the Lord had spoken to him had failed. “The fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.”
But Satan, we read, too soon serves himself of all this; and Israel proves again that man utterly without strength is unable even to hold a blessing. The gifts with which their gracious Lord had thus endowed Israel, and which had been ordained for their comfort and His praise, became, through the craft and subtlety of the devil, an occasion to them of self-congratulation and pride, as to Adam of old. (Gen. 3:1-8.) For David's heart in all this was moved by the old lie— “ye shall be as gods.” Anything for poor fallen man but the living God! “. Nay, but we will have a king to reign over us,” said Israel to Samuel of old, rejecting Jehovah-Christ, “that we also may be like all the nations.” (1 Sam. 8:19, 20.) But the Lord will not give His glory to another—none have ever forsaken Him, and prospered—as it is written, “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many, and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord.” (Isa. 31:1.) “The Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose.” (Isa. 30:7.) David here, like Hezekiah afterward, in the pride of his heart, would exhibit his magnificence, and, like a child of this world, in the unbelief of self-confidence, would survey his resources.
The infatuation in which David was sunk is marked by the fact of Joab expostulating with him; for though a man of blood, and eminently one of the children of this world, as all his policy bespeaks him, yet wiser far in his generation, looking not to the ungodliness so much as to the impolicy of this purposed wickedness of the king, Joab at once discovers that which his master refuses to see.
The whole system of Israel, by this national transgression, was now defiled and tainted, and ripe for severity or judgment; this pride was the giving up of God, and God would have been dealing righteously had He at once laid Israel aside, as He did Adam, in such a case— “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Verses 7-14. “And God was displeased with this thing; therefore be smote Israel. And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away, the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done foolishly. And the Lord spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying, Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, choose thee either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me. And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait; let me fall now into the hand of the Lord, for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel, and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.”
For nine long months the pride of the king's heart deceived him (2 Sam. 24:8); as, alas! lust had before dimmed his eye for the same time. He had too long walked in the ways of his heart, and in the sight of his eyes; but after his hardness and impenitency was but treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of the righteous judgment of God, now about to be revealed. Sinners should be stopped in their course by the remembrance that God, though He suffers long, “hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness.”
But David, as a child of God, might be tempted, overtaken in a fault, and thus brought to shame and grief, but could not be left impenitent. (Luke 22:8k.) And so Israel, as God's nation, could not be consumed, because God's gifts and calling are without repentance (Born. xi. 29), because His compassion towards them could not fail. (Lau]. iii. 22.) Their transgressions were to be visited with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes, but the divine loving-kindness was not to be utterly taken from David and his nation. (Psa. 89:33.) Correction is ever in covenant love. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth, and therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2.) To walk comfortably, and without interruption, as in an even path, we must walk watchfully as with the Lord. Had David walked still in his integrity, and humbly with his God, he would have been spared this discipline; but now “he must bear the rod.” And he is required to choose the rod; by this much grace might be exercised in his soul; he would by this be brought to consider well the fruit of his transgressions, and thus be more humbled and broken in spirit, and he would also have occasion to encourage himself afresh in the Lord who was slaying him, as we find he did.
But corrected he must be, and that too just in the place of his transgression; having boasted of his thousands, his thousands must be diminished. God would now number to the sword whom David had numbered to his pride. And so the day of the Lord is to be upon every one that is proud and lifted up. (Isa. 2:12.)
Verse 15. “And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it; and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld; and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
In this verse we have the threshing-floor of Ornan first brought within view, a mean spot in itself, but destined of the Lord to be the joy of the whole earth, the place of the glory, the rest of God and His Israel. It presents itself to us at once as the witness of that blessed precious truth, which is the sure ground of all our hopes, that with our God “mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13.) The whole system of Israel had, as we have observed, exposed itself to the severity or displacing judgment of the Lord; He might have broken it at once as a vessel wherein was no pleasure, He might have taken away His vineyard from His unthankful and wicked husbandmen; but “mercy rejoiceth against judgment” in the bosom of their God: He repents Him of the evil with which His people, “because of their transgressions and because of their iniquity, were now afflicted,” and He commands the destroying angel to stay his hand by this threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
Here the same mercy displays itself as that which shone out on rained condemned Adam in the garden. He had there no plea to plead with the Lord, all that remained for him was to fly and be concealed, if that were possible; when in the bosom of the Lord mercy rises over judgment, and He decrees that “the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” (Gen. 3:15.) Often do the scriptures, as here, present our covenant God and Father, opening, as it were, His own heart, and showing His thoughts to His people how kind they are; as He says within Himself concerning the husbandmen of His vineyard, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved Son.” (See also Jer. 3:19.) O that we may drink, at this fountain of Israel, the love of the Father—the spring-head of all the healing waters that visit us.
Verses 16,17. “And David lifted up his eyes, and sew the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces; and David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me and on my father's house, but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.”
David as yet was not given to read the secrets of his God and Savior; the grace that was rejoicing in the bosom of his covenant God over him was not as yet opened to him; all that he saw was the fearful agent of death and ruin hanging over his city and people. And oh how often an afflicted soul is thus reduced, how often does the eye fix itself on the cloud that darkens all around, without a single glimpse of the bright and peaceful heavens that lie beyond it, not knowing, or refusing to know,
“The clouds they so much dread,{br}Are big with mercy, and shall break{br}In blessings on their head.”
Verse 18. “Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshing-floor of Oman the Jebusite.”
“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9.) The relief for David in this dark hour is announced by the angel of destruction: the eater himself yields meat, the strong man sweetness. The law itself prophesied of Jesus, who was to displace it, as here the altar was to displace the angel who directed it.
An altar needs a priest, or an accepted worshipper; the Lord would not have directed the one, if He had not provided the other. “The Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering.” (Gen. 4:4.) His person was first accepted, and then his sacrifice; and here the Lord's readiness to receive an offering at the hand of David was the pledge that David himself, through mercy rejoicing against judgment, had been received, and his iniquity put away. “If the Lord had been pleased to kill him, he would not have received a burnt-offering or a meat-offering at his hand.” (Judg. 13:23.)
Verses 19-26. “And David went up at the saying of Gad which he spake in the name of the Lord. And Oman turned back and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Oman was threshing wheat, and as David came to Oman, Oman looked and saw David, and went out of the threshing-floor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground. Then David said to Oman, Grant me the place of this threshing-floor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord; thou shalt grant it me for the full price, that the plague may be stayed from the people. And Oman said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes. Lo, I give thee the oxen for burnt-offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat-offering—I give it all. And king David said to Oman, Nay, but I will verily buy it for the full price; for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt-offerings without cost. So David gave to Oman for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight: and David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, and called upon the Lord; and be answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt-offerings.”
These verses present to us David's thankful believing acceptance of the mercy revealed to him. He received not the grace of God in vain. He at once went up at the saying of the prophet, while Oman and his sons hid themselves from the angel. Here we may observe, that while no flesh can stand naked, as in its own resources, before the Lord, yet that sinners may come fully up to His heavenly presence in the power of simply believing in His grace. Oman and David here illustrate this; Oman had not the grace of the Lord revealed to him, he knew nothing of the altar that was to be set up in his threshing-floor, and therefore as nakedly a creature in the sight of God-like Adam before in such a case—he hid himself. But David knew the remedy which mercy rejoicing against judgment had provided, and therefore he dares to stand, though shamed and humbled; without distraction he fulfills his appointed service, he purchases the threshing-floor, prepares the altar, offers his offering, and calls upon the Lord. The sword, still unsheathed, has no alarms for him now; believing, he is not ashamed or confounded; he stands to see God's salvation; his soul is brought simply to be a receiver of grace which God Himself brings nigh to him. Hence we see in all his action no disturbance or motion of the flesh, but all is the assurance and quietness of faith resting in the word of the Lord. And the Lord gives him his answer before he calls, and hears him while he is yet speaking. (Isa. 65:24.)
Verse 27. “And the Lord commanded the angel, and he put hp his sword again into the sheath thereof.”
The reconciliation was complete; being justified by faith, there was peace for David with God. As the accusings of the adversary, the demands of the law, the complaints and howlings of conscience, are all and forever to be silenced by the voice of the blood of sprinkling, which tells us that with our God “mercy rejoiceth against judgment;” so, as soon as David had trusted in this grace, as soon as he had built his altar in the threshing-floor of Oman the Jebusite, where mercy had thus rejoiced, the angel of destruction puts up his sword again into the sheath thereof, at the commandment of the Lord.
Verses 28-30. “At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshing-floor of Oman the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there. For the tabernacle of the Lord which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt-offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon. But David could not go before it to inquire of God; for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord.”
David was given grace to interpret the writing on the Jebusite's floor. That mystic sacred plan had brightly reflected the glory of forgiving love; there he had seen that with his God “mercy rejoiceth against judgment” —the oft repeated, but ever sweet and blessed truth. Close, therefore, by this floor he keeps. The corn which his faith had trodden out there was the finest wheat, the very fat of the kidneys of wheat; and having tasted it, he dared not to forsake his own mercy; having fed at an altar whereon had been spread for him the dainties of a father's love, he could not return to serve the tabernacle. (Heb. 13:10.) He had not feared to prepare his altar in the angel's presence, but he does fear now to return by the way of the angel's sword. “This is the house of the Lord God,” said he of Oman's floor, “and this is the altar of the burnt-offering of Israel.” (1 Chron. 22:1.) His heart, by the Spirit who ever witnesses to grace, was knit to this spot; and he proceeds at once to make preparation to link the name of the God of Israel inseparably with it also. What Moses had given them should be no more remembered or sought unto: in grace the system should be set and confirmed, and Israel and their God should meet forever where mercy had rejoiced against judgment.
Here, with David, we also meditate for awhile, and trace our interest in all this precious truth. Our souls, if we are saints of God, will breathe,” If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand but there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared” —or worshipped. (Psa. 130:3.) All service of the name of our God comes of this; and our thankful acceptance of forgiveness, sealed as it is to all who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, is our entrance into His temple, our assumption of that character in which alone we can do service in the heavenly temple, that is, of sinners pardoned. We are to know no affection at variance with such a character. None else gives full glory to God. We stand in presence of a mercy-seat, before a throne of largest richest grace, and yet of brightest untainted righteousness, because blood in which God smells a savor of rest is upon it, through which He can be just, and yet let mercy rejoice against judgment. (Gen. 8:21; Rom. 3:26; Eph. 5:2.) “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” are the temple in our heavens; “salvation to our God" is the burthen of our worship there, “blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.”
And as mercy through the Lord our righteousness has thus “raised us up, and made us sit in heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6), so in the day when “all Israel shall be saved,” mercy shall in like manner rejoice in the lower parts of the earth. As the church is now set in grace, so will the people then be. That covenant, and that alone, which takes away sin through the Deliverer, shall establish them as it now establishes the saints; “for all are included in unbelief, that God may have mercy upon all.” (Rom. 11:26-32.) Ex. 32; 34 exhibits this truth, and most interestingly presents Israel as drawn-forth from their standing under Mount Sinai, to take their stand in the last days in and under Christ. And their last tenure of the land by grace will be the accomplishment of the promises made of old to their father Abraham; for the land and its accompanying blessings were given to him and to his seed, not as through the works of the law, but by promise, or grace. The closing scene of that lovely portion of the divine word gives us the same truth in mystery. Moses veiled typified Israel as they now are, and the flesh under law, or in blindness of heart. (Isa. 6:10.) Moses unveiled typifies Israel as they shall be, in the Spirit under Christ, or in the light of liberty of the new covenant (Rom. 11:27; 2 Cor. 3: 26); and when the heart of the Jewish people shall thus “turn to the Lord,” and the “veil shall be taken away,” this turning of Israel to Jesus shall be followed by the unveiling of—the nations, or the life of the world. (Isa. 25:6; Rom. 11:15.)
Thus in the end shall all be established alike by grace, not only the children of the resurrection in the Father's house in the heavens, but Israel and the nations “from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same” on earth.
“Mercy shall be built up forever.” (Psa. 89:2.) “With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee (Zion), saith the Lord thy Redeemer;” and then shall Zion's children be many, and her seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and the Redeemer of Israel shall be called the God of the whole earth. (Isa. 54:1-8.) The Gentiles shall be embraced in the same mercy, for, as it is written, “In thee shall all nations be blessed;” as it is written again, “Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.” (Rom. 15:10.) Thus shall the whole earth be the extended floor of Oman the Jebusite, and be the altar and dwelling place of Him with whom mercy has rejoiced against judgment. Thus shall our God show the rich fullness of His wisdom, providing a way whereby He can be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus—whereby He can preserve the righteousness of His throne in all its brightest glory, and yet allow mercy to rejoice against judgment, seat Himself again in the earth as His temple and kingdom. Mercy with righteousness, peace with truth, shall rear that temple, and uphold the kingdom. His shall all things then be, not only by title, by creation, but by purchase—His “peculiar treasure,” His “purchased possession.” Thus will the Lord fully repossess Himself of the kingdom of this world, and walk again among the children of men; the saints who have acknowledged Him while absent shall, be acknowledged in His glory; “the righteous shall see it, and rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her month.” (Psa. 107:42.) J. G. B.

Moses: 1. Moses' Loss of Canaan

Moses had his ordinary shepherd's rod in his hand, when God called him to feed Israel. (Ex. 4) It then became God's rod, for God made it the symbol and instrument of Moses's authority and grace in Israel. He was thenceforth to take it, that by it he might do his wonders in Egypt and in the wilderness, for judgment on the enemy, and for blessing to the people. (Ex. 4:17.)
It first swallowed up the rods of Egypt, to show that no strength could stand before God's strength, thus giving Egypt notice that it was hard to kick against the pricks. (Ex. 7:12.) But Egypt would not learn that lesson. And then the rod brings the plagues of blood, of frogs, and of lice, till the magicians own that they could not measure their strength with the Lord's. (Chap. 8: 19.) It is then used in the plagues of hail (chap. 9: 23), locusts (chap. 10: 13), and darkness (chap. 10: 22), and finally for the destruction of the firstborn as well as the deliverance of Israel, and for the overthrow of Egypt in the Red Sea. (Chaps. 12-14.)
Thus was it the instrument of judgment and of grace in Egypt. It was but a weak shepherd's rod at first, but as such it was the more fit to become God's rod, for He ever perfects His strength in our weakness, and chooses the weak things to confound the mighty.
But we are still to see the rod in the wilderness, for Moses with it opens the rock in Horeb. (Ex. 17:5, 6.) By the same Shepherd's strength and grace He now feeds the camp in the desert, as that by which He had redeemed them from bondage.
By all this use of the rod, Moses (and Aaron, his associate) should have been fully submitted to by all the congregation. The wonders they did (of which this rod was the symbol) had fully accredited them, and entire subjection to them as the king and the priest, or God's dignities, was the righteous place of the congregation. But it happens otherwise. The congregation despise these dignities, and are for setting aside this king and this priest of God. (Num. 16:3.) That was a solemn moment in Israel. The rebellion of Korah and his companions was an awful consummation of despite of the Lord. But then the Lord pleads the cause Himself. He judges the offenders, and in a solemn trial of the question, He determines by the budding rod who His dignities or officers were, that the murmuring of the congregation might be silenced forever, and that they might thus be saved from death. (Num. 17:8.)
Now we have much of the way of the Lord Jesus in all this. Jesus was set forth to Israel at the first as their Shepherd. He did His wonders of grace and strength. His miracles and healings and teachings were enough to accredit Him, so that they owned for a season that this was He. (Matt. 12:23.) But Israel at length rose up against Him, they despised God's king and Priest, like Korah and his company, crucifying the Lord of glory. But God pleaded His cause against the nation by raising Him from the dead. Jesus brought forth in resurrection is the budding of the rod, the dead stick blooming blossoms and bearing almonds. Jesus in resurrection has all the virtue of this rod, both in silencing the murmur of every rival, and securing from death the soul that will trust in him, and allow His claims. These two virtues of the resurrection are largely preached by the apostles. The resurrection has made Jesus a Prince and a Savior. It has vindicated His claims and made Him the dispenser of life. By it God has fully declared that all power is Christ's, that He is the spring of life and the executor of judgment. And the apostles were the preachers of the resurrection in these its virtues, and the angel at the tomb so witnessed to it. (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:36; 17:31; 3:13, 16; 5:31; 1:22; 4:10-12; Rom. 1:4.) And now all blessing must flow through it, through this new rod, the budding rod, not Jesus as before, born of a virgin, but Jesus brought from the dead; not the rod that was first in Moses's hand, but the rod that was brought from before the Lord. (Num. 20:9; 18; 7)
It is quite true that many, perhaps, at future seasons would not hear the voice of the budding rod, as now many will not hear the voice of the resurrection; but that does not alter the voice. Whether they will hear it or not, it silences murmurs-the budding rod and the resurrection have established those claims, for which Moses and Jesus the Son of God had been previously rejected and reproached.
This seems to me a simple following out of the history and the mystery of the rod. But then this also gives us the character of Moses's and Aaron's sin, by which they forfeited the land.
God will be sanctified in them that come nigh Him.
(Lev. 10:3.) He will have the provision which He has made, for either His own service or His people's blessing, honored by them. And the contrary of this was the sin of Nadab and Abihu. They took fire of their own, and did not use God's fire, the provision He had made for His own altar. Thus they did not sanctify Him. And this was the sin of Moses and Aaron here. They did not sanctify God in His ordinance of the budding rod. They did not use it according to God's mind about it. They did not give it its ordained place, or duly own its virtues before the congregation. They acted as they did before, striking instead of speaking. They did not know the power of this rod-using strength instead of preaching the virtue of it. Nor did they duly honor the grace of the rod, for in it God's grace had greatly abounded. In spite of all their sin in the matter of Korah, God had set up this other witness for His praise and their blessing. But Moses and Aaron act no more in full sympathy with the grace than they had with the power of the rod, for they upbraid the people as well as strike the rock, while they were told merely to speak to the rock, and to do nothing with the people, but bring them forth the water. Their conduct, therefore, was unbelief in the virtues of this mystic rod. It was unbelief in the present ordinance, and a return to previous dispensations. They forgot the lesson of Num. 17 for a moment, and thus they forfeited the land.
Such was their sin, and such their judgment. And it is like present unbelief in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For Christ risen is God's great ordinance now. The resurrection, as I have said, is the true budding rod. It is that ordinance which has the virtues of Aaron's rod in it. When the resurrection is not honored in its fullness of grace to sinners, and of glory to God, as that which silences every tongue that should rise against the holy claims of Jesus, and also hinders the death and feeds the life of the poor sinner that will trust in Him, God's ordinance is not honored, and then comes forfeiture of all blessing. For God must be honored in His ordinances, and sanctified in them that come nigh to Him.
Now to this I would just further add, that Saul of Tarsus offended against the resurrection. He was chief among those who killed the witness of it. (Acts 8:1.) But Saul was brought to know it, and by that knowledge to die himself, and to live to be the witness of a higher glory still, even of ascension or heavenly glory. And so with Moses here. He offends against the budding rod, and loses Canaan, but afterward shines in the glory of the church on the top of the hill. (Matt. 17:3)

Thoughts on Psalm 91 and 102

The thing we have to learn is Christ. We may learn a good deal in ourselves, but all that is for blessing will be in Christ. This is what the apostle means (Heb. 6:1) when he speaks of going on to perfection. It is vain to learn the first principles over and over again; if we have learned that, let us go on to learn Christ—learn Him in all His characters, or in all our exercises. To know Christ is to know Him in all His various characters. At one time we have to look on Him as Jehovah—at another, as a suffering Man.
Here comes a testimony concerning the Most High. We have in this verse 1 a general truth: the person that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Verse 2. The words of Jesus are brought out: I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust. The apostle, in Heb. 2:13, refers to this and other parts in the Psalm as the words of Christ. The apostle declares, I will put my trust in Him, as our Lord's expression whilst walking in the midst of trial on the earth. Then (vers. 3-13) we come to the testimony of the Spirit concerning Jesus. Verse 9. This was true in its perfectness only in Jesus; it is true in all its extent only in Him. In verse 14 we get the declaration of the Father, “because he hath set his love upon me.” This was true, and true only of Jesus. He was the only One who set His love on God. We love Him because He first loved us. In our Lord's sufferings we learn the principle and fullness of love.
“The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me, but that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” He was showing this principle of love to the Father. There is deep blessing in seeing our Lord thus. “Wherefore God hath highly exalted him.” (Phil. 2:9.)
He knew His name. God's greatness is shown by despising nothing. His love is so great that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without His knowledge. Christ always trusted Him. (Psa. 20; 21) In the case of Jesus is the practical exhibition of this truth—He dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High; in us in measure, being one with Christ, we are able to appropriate this to ourselves. All His actings on earth came from the perfectness of communion with the Father. The promise was, He shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I do always those things that please the Father, and abide in His love. (Ver. 2.) What He calls for is complete recognition of Himself, then come all the promises. The one thing we have to do is to own God in all His fullness. Imperfectly, but in principle, we dwell in the secret of the Most High. Why we are often in trial, &c., is because we are not dwelling in the secret of the Most High. Verse 4. “He shall cover thee with his feathers,” &c. As His power covers and shelters us, so His truth is our shield and buckler. God's truth always comes to us in Jesus. Just so far as we are in the secret of the Most High, we are under the shadow of the Almighty. If we are going our own way, we shall have chastening and trial, and in mercy too. What we have to seek is to make the Lord our habitation. He leadeth us forth in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
This psalm (102) is one of peculiar strength and blessedness to the believer, as it brings, in one point of view) the identity of Christ in spirit with His suffering people; and, on the other side, His identity with Jehovah, His being Jehovah the basis of all hopes that belong to the Jews, and to the saints consequently. Our Lord's sufferings become the earnest of glory to those that are His. The triumph of Christ comes to be the pledge of deliverance and blessing to them. This makes the testimony of His deliverance, when suffering for us, so blessed, because the earnest of ours. “In the day when I call, answer me speedily.” The craving of the godly soul in trouble is the Lord's hearing him; this is their anxiety, for otherwise there would be wrath in the case. Of this the resurrection of Jesus was the great witness.
In this psalm our Lord enters into every protracted suffering of His people. In all His sufferings, as a righteous man on earth, He could say, “I know that thou hearest me always.” I watch, &c.—the very opposite of ease. Verses 9, 10: I never find the deepest sorrow of our Lord spoken of exclusive of indignation. “Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.” The lifting up here spoken of was true of Jesus with the Jews. For what nation is so great? who hath God so nigh unto them? &c. Jesus is looked at as the Messiah, as coming in the flesh, most exalted, as Head of the people, yet had to be “cast down” for the indignation that was come upon this people. He never took the headship, but took the casting down. The spirit of Christ in us always takes portion with sorrow. “My days are like a shadow that declineth.” Then comes the assertion of strength, of all comfort, the perpetuity of Jehovah: “Thou, O Lord, shalt endure; thou shalt arise, and have mercy on Zion,” &c. Here is contrasted the way in which Messiah was cast down in the lowest degree of suffering, and, in the midst of it, the certainty of Jehovah's taking mercy on His people.
If you set up Zion, all the nations who disbelieved that it would be set up “shall fear thy name.” Then comes another positive declaration: He shall appear in His glory. How Jehovah is to appear brings out the identity of the suffering Messiah with Jehovah: The people which shall be created, &c.—they shall be new creatures then. Messiah's prayer (ver. 17) will be then regarded, and fully answered; it was not apparently regarded during His sufferings on earth. The great statements in this psalm are, Messiah cast down, but Jehovah faithful, and will build up Zion. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will look down from heaven on what takes place on earth. Then comes in the repetition of the sufferings of Messiah, then His glory, not merely taken in consequence of suffering, but in virtue of His glorious person. The secret of all our strength is this unfathomable mystery—Christ's being Jehovah, and His identity with the sufferings of His people. It is just the portion of the church to know the glory is His, that He is the Jehovah-God who founded heaven and earth, and to understand how He was on that earth cast down, was bruised, was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and to rest in the happy consciousness of the perfect sympathy of Christ in all our trials, in all that in which wrath may appear to us. In all our sorrows and troubles we must find, whilst under them, wrath, although we know it is chastening in love; it produces in us, not merely the sorrow of the world, but sense of the displeasure of the Lord under them, and we shall be looking out for His hearing our cry, just as a child grieves to see the frown of a tender parent, because of his displeasure shown in it.
Thus should we, not only on account of the trouble it brings us into—then we are thinking of ourselves instead of God. The great comfort of the believer is, that the Lord Jesus having passed through all this trial, is itself a witness to us of the love of God in them; and thus we are more than conquerors, not in carelessness, knowing that nothing shall separate us from the love of God. We may ourselves be the occasion of chastisement—then must there be humbling, but love in it surely. One learns in Christ, having gone through all, the faithfulness of God in all the exercises we may have to pass through. We (believers) must take everything as coming from God: otherwise we do not give sufficient value to our sufferings, but give value to ourselves in them. When wicked men cut our Lord down, He took it all as coming from God: “Thou hast cast me down,” &c. Faith always looks to the great source, and not to casual instruments.

A Word on Luke 2

It is beautiful to see the simplicity of the account in the message, the wonderful message, given to the shepherds in their occupation. God comes down in grace, bringing the greatest things down to the commonest circumstances, because He cannot take up the pride of life; for when this comes out, God, as it were, shrinks from it and hides Himself. The dove could have no rest in the earth, neither could Jesus in the world; and here we find Him beginning at the manger, and ending at the cross. Here we find an assembly of angels, not merely to speak to His people as Israel, but to proclaim the great fact that Christ is come into the world, though they address the Jews according to their expectation: “Unto you is born in the city of David.” Such is the truth: Christ came into the world, but there was no place for Him in it. Nothing could show more the spirit of the world, than when Christ came into it He had no place in it! Creation was obedient. The winds and the waves obey Him. The fish comes from the ocean at His command-the animals bound to receive Him; all more than men did, who, having the great spring of rebellion in them, could allot the Savior only a manger.
But it is also the truth that the Lord comes down to the circles in our hearts, even though very narrow ones. The Lord is pleased to take notice of our circumstances. The saints that apprehend this, and know the comfort of a God of providence, are apt to stop there, finding their need thus met by Him in providence. There must, then, be a great danger of slipping—making God a helper to them in the world, thus having limits to their hearts about Him and His truth; and this is often seen where there is true faith. Whilst guarding against this, as deriving our experience of His goodness and dealings about ourselves, instead of following the Spirit in the wide range of all that affects His own glory, we still find He does come down to our several circumstances-even to the one most weak and cast down. So He came to the shepherds in their circumstances. This is a blessed instruction, that God is thinking about us when we are not thinking about ourselves. When, too, our thoughts are unworthy of Him, He is pleased to come down.
If I am firm on the Rock, I can stretch out my hand to meet others in need in their circumstances. When the heavenly hosts commence their strain-our proper place, then we get the knowledge of what God is. Man's place for God on earth is a manger; God's thoughts to man on earth are “Good-will in men.” There is glory to “God in the highest,” because He did come down to the very need of man's wants. God's nature of love is thus shown, and peace also in its nature. But man so opposes and hates it, that, instead of receiving the peace, it comes as a sword into the household-” the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law,” &c., and the “man's foes shall be of his own household.” But this is not the case with those who get their hearts in heaven, there is peace. Glory here is worthy of Himself. It is exceedingly glorious to sing glory to God. They sang on earth, and all is the portion of real saints who see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, for when cast out the Spirit of Christ is theirs. “if ye are reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you.” (1 Peter 4) Christ has peace stamped on Him. The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace,” &c. The Spirit of Christ is from Him in heaven; but God's dealings to man are seen in grace downwards. He finds delight in showing His “good-will to men.” As it is said in Prov. 8, “My delight is with the sons of men.” If we understand this, not merely to the church, but the outflowings of love and kindness to all, it would lead one to act in the same spirit I receive from Himself. Even if I met a little child in the street, I should thus feel according to the love God took when the angels brought this news of good-will towards men. Here is what God is showing, and, if we have His Spirit, we shall show God's nature towards all.
Two marks of Christ are: one in total opposition of nature and principle to the world, and therefore no room for us; the other is, by having a place in heaven, to have all the love of God's nature flowing forth in love. Let us plead our weakness, for God's strength can then come into us; and what a loss it is to our souls not to have this! We should be like Solomon, desiring to have our hearts enlarged as the sands of the sea, the very principle of grace.

Notes on John 17:1-5

Next follows a chapter which one may perhaps characterize truly as unequaled for depth and scope in all the scriptures. Holiness, devotedness, love, reign throughout. Who can wonder, seeing that it is unique in this respect as it is the Son opening His heart to the Father when just about to die and leave His own for heaven? Yet profoundly interesting and momentous as the case was, it is the Son addressing Him thus which is so wondrous a privilege for us to hear. But all this may well fill our hearts with the sense of utter insufficiency to speak of such communications suitably. Nevertheless as the Savior uttered all within the hearing of the disciples, so the Holy Spirit has been pleased to reproduce His words with divine precision. They are therefore for us now, as then for His favored followers. Encouraged by this grace we would count on the Lord's real and living interest in us and on His faithfulness who still abides with us to glorify Him by taking of His things and showing them to us.
“These things spake Jesus, and lifting up his eyes unto heaven said, Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy [or, the] Son may glorify thee, according as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that, everything which thou hast given him, he should give them eternal life. And this is the eternal life, that they know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou didst send forth, Jesus Christ. I glorified thee on the earth, having finished the work which thou hast given me to do; and now do thou, Father, glorify me along with thyself with the glory which I had along with thee before the world was.” (Vers. 1-5.)
The Lord had closed His parting instructions to the disciples who had now to testify of and for him, and so much the more because He was just about to leave them, His own personal testimony being already complete. To them not only had He spoken with fullness, but promised the Holy Spirit from heaven on His departure, that there might be power as well as truth. Unto heaven therefore did the Savior lift up His eyes in addressing His Father. He who even as Son of man is in heaven as a divine person was going there in bodily presence, when the work of redemption was effected. In virtue of this work accomplished in death, proved in resurrection, He would take His seat there, the witness of its infinite acceptance. His proper ministry on earth, not merely to men but to the disciples, had been fully rendered. To the Father He turns as ever, but now in the hearing of His own, as indeed He would open His heart, if unto Himself and His work, about them yet more, always the Sent One and Servant in divine love, though Lord of all. He looked to heaven when He blessed and brake the five loaves to feed the five thousand. He looked there and groaned as He made the deaf stammerer to hear and speak. Upward He lifted His eyes when at the grave of Lazarus He said, Father, I thank thee that Thou hast heard Me. To heaven He raising them once more said, “Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee.” He is ever a divine person, the Son, but a man; not here as in the other Gospels the rejected and agonized sufferer, but the perfect executor of God's purposes, heavenly and everlasting.
Hence, whatever the necessary and all-important intervention of His death, without which all else had been in vain for God's glory in presence of sin and ruin, He nowhere speaks of it here, nor does He ask for resurrection but glorification. “Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son;” but, even so, it is “that thy Son may glorify thee.” He is man, and asks the Father to glorify Him; He is Son, and when there, if glorified, it is still to glorify the Father. “According as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that, everything which thou hast given him, he should give them eternal life.” Though God, He exerts no power in His own right; He is true to the place into which He was pleased to come, and as man receives authority from the Father, but authority inconceivable, either in its universality of sphere or in its specialty of object, were He not God. For the authority given is over “all flesh,” and the special aim now, as to whatsoever the Father had given Him, is to give them eternal life. Thus the right of our Lord extends without limit, the Gentile being no more outside His title than the Jew; whilst eternal life is the portion of none beyond what is given of the Father to the Son, as elsewhere it is said to belong to the believer only.
This leads to the explanation of “the eternal life” in question. Life for evermore, life to eternity, is the blessing commanded by Jehovah on the mountains of Zion; and of the many Jews that sleep in the dust of the earth, some shall awake to everlasting life, as surely as some to shame and everlasting contempt; but both these scriptures contemplate that great turning-point for the earth, the kingdom when it comes in manifest power and glory. The Lord speaks of life as given in Himself to faith now. “And this is the eternal life, that they know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, Jesus Christ.” If it be distinguished from that which is to be enjoyed in the displayed kingdom by-and-by, it stands as to its character in the knowledge not of the Most High Possessor of heaven and earth, but of the Father and of His sent One, the only true God now plainly revealed in the Son, and the true Melchisedec, a Priest on His throne, the one Mediator between God and man. If distinguished from the past, it is no longer the Creator-God giving promises to the fathers protected and lodging as under the shadow of the Almighty, nor the sons of Israel in relationship with the name of Jehovah the moral governor of that chosen nation. It is the children of God in possession of the revelation of the Father and of Jesus Christ whom He had sent; and this knowledge identified, not with promises nor government, but with “eternal life,” as a present thing in
Christ, the portion of every believer. A deeper blessing it is impossible for God to bestow or for man to receive; for it is exactly what characterized the Lord Himself who is that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us. Only Christ was that life; we as believers are not, but have it in Him; and as by faith alone it is received, so in faith it is exercised, sustained, and strengthened.
It may be noticed further that, as eternal life is bound up with the knowledge of the Father, the only true God, in contrast with the gods many and false of the Gentiles, so it cannot be where Christ is not known whom the Father sent, in contrast with His rejection by the Jews to their own deeper guilt and ruin. Neither the Son nor the Holy Ghost is excluded from the deity, which is elsewhere predicated or assumed of both equally with the Father. Here the object is to assert it of the Father and to state the place taken hereto below by Him who did not regard it as a prize [act or object of plunder] to be on equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondman. He was here to obey, to do the will of the Father that sent Him. But that He took such a place in lowly love is the strongest if indirect proof of His proper and eternal Godhead; for even the archangel is a servant and can never rise out of the position or relation of a servant, whereas the Son was pleased to take it in order to the full blessing of redemption unto the glory of God the Father. So life was in Him, and He was eternal life from everlasting; but here He is viewed as coming down to impart it in a scene departed from God, and to a creature, which otherwise must know death in its most terrible shape in judgment as now in guilt.
Next, the Lord presents His work: we have seen His person as the Son pleaded. But now He urges what He had done hereto below. “I glorified thee on the earth, having finished the work which thou hast given me to do. And now, Father, glorify thou me along with thyself with the glory which I had along with thee before the world was.” The language here is more general than in chapter 13:31, 32, where it is a question of glorifying God, before whom sin comes into unsparing judgment. Here it is glorifying His Father, and so there is no special contemplation of that final dealing where all that God is and feels came out against, evil imputatively laid on the head of the Son of man. Here the entire path of Christ on earth in giving Himself up to obey and please His Father is summed up. Therefore it was the more needful to specify its completion, “having finished the work which thou hast given me to do.” He speaks not more as the faithful servant than as the conscious Son of God who sees all completed to the Father's glory, Who had given Him the work that He should do it who alone could. And thereon does He ask the Father to glorify Him, not because of His personal glory and relationship only, but in virtue of the work completed to His glory here below, that He might thus lay a valid and sure title for us to join Him in the same heavenly blessedness. It is not that He ever did or could cease to be God, any more than after becoming incarnate He will ever cease to be man; but, having, in divine love come down to be a servant and a man to glorify God the Father and make a righteous channel for all the purposes of divine grace, He asks to be glorified by the Father along with Himself with the glory which He had along with Him before the world was. There He had been from everlasting as the Son; there He asks to be as the Son but now also a man, the Word made flesh but risen, to everlasting. It was His perfection as man to ask for this glorification. Not even as risen does He glorify Himself. He had emptied and humbled Himself for the Father's glory; He asks the Father to glorify Him, though He states His eternal and divine competency by asking to be glorified with the glory He had with the Father before the world was. Never so weighty a plea, never so solid a ground of righteousness, never such exquisite and infinite grace.

Christ's Burial Supper

A little but most affecting scene is here brought out, Christ at His burial supper; for now the Lord let in His thought and mind upon the path He was treading, that we may see in Him the meekness of the prepared Lamb; and this last circumstance brought out in the treachery of Judas casting its shadows before. He well knew what He was entering on, but this was wrapt deep in secrecy; we do not dwell on it, nor would Christ. “If it were an open enemy that had done me this wrong, I could have borne it.” Oh, it was a sad hour! (See ver. 13.) We dwell on the circumstances. It was the place where Lazarus was-that Lazarus who was dead, whom Jesus raised from the dead. There He was called to supper. Strange scene! The Lord in a sense of what He was, and Lazarus were sitting there. Martha served, willing, but according to her custom. Oh, keep as near the Lord in heart our service.
Mary anointed, the memory of whose love is as fragrant as the burial ointment of the Lord, in the remembrance of His disciples, filling the house, for love to Him does fill the house: even now it is very precious. This ointment, this grace of love, all is on Jesus; she, however poorly, could thus express it, and she anointed His feet with it, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Strange to many, but the Lord, the perfect Lord, knew where it was applied-yea, He knew whence it came-the sweet savor of the Father's witness of love. The beauty of the pearl of great price was in it; He was a skilful Merchant to know His Father's love was there; it was balm of love poured of God the Father into the heart of this poor woman, that it might reach the heart of Christ in the wounding of the house of His friends, and the love was suited here—it was the return of new nature. Treachery for the moment lost its baseness; that is, it was so soothed in the balm of His love, the wound lost its power. “Let her alone” with Me; and then He was occupied, not with Judas only (for indeed, but for saving grace, they were all in the same state, and He is now before us as generally deserted, even by His disciples), but He speaks as driven into His own grace.
Note also how, when there is simple love and devotedness, how the Lord directs into conduct, which, from its perfect suitableness of affection, He recognizes as the expression of the sympathetic thoughtfulness of love. “She hath kept it for my burial.” More, she had had it a long time. There she might and, even assured, was willing to now spend it on Jesus, but the Lord ordered she should keep it until that fitting moment when it was, in effect, the soothing expression of thoughtful expression now graciously ordered. “It was that Mary,” says the beloved disciple. Now Martha loved Him, and the Lord loved her. She served before, and she served now, but this was not what fervent affection called for now, though accepted unto this. Mary was led in knowledge-nay, but by the Lord of knowledge-though by affection, and the Lord interpreted according to its real value from the Lord upon her; and so are we, and shall be, led when there is this suitableness of affection, by the Spirit into right acts of suitable affection, when we wait upon the Lord, for He directs unseen every step.
“She hath kept this,” she could have spent it on Him before, and it might have gone. His heart would not have spared it to the poor, but the Father's love in her-she in the estimation of God. Nothing can be more exquisitely beautiful. Be at rest. “The poor ye have always with you,” says the blessed Redeemer. Lord, may we bow at Thy feet, and show the odor of our love to Thee, that whilst we think of Thee the bowels of Thy saints may be refreshed by it; and then, such is the balm for evil in the world, Christ's comfort in apostasy-” she hath done what she could.” This opened the scene of deliberate apostasy-the touching scone of Christ's comfort in it-not from His disciples, though no traitors through His grace.

The Service of a Good Man Full of the Holy Ghost and of Faith

The Spirit of God has seen good to give us for our profit this notice of one whom He could use fully, in service to the saints, for the glory of Christ; one, a pattern, doubtless, and worthy of imitation by all. It is here unreserved devotedness which is so essential to blessing in service, whatever may be the line in which the servant may move, or the place filled by such a member of the body of Christ.
Let us notice, first, the start of this “good man.” It is “Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation) a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.” (Acts 4:36, 37.)
Here is one disentangling himself from the things of this life, and ready to enter on the service of Him who had called him to be a soldier, with a heart for the needy too; but we see him getting rid, for Christ's sake, of the things which might burden and fetter him in the race. (Heb. 12)
Thus is he ready (a convert on the day of Pentecost) early for the Lord's work; nor do we find him long unemployed. If the apostles were tardy in carrying out the Lord's instructions (given after His resurrection, and consequent on their being endued with power from on high on the day of Pentecost, for which they were told to wait), “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15), He is not at a loss for instruments for the work. If the children do not cry “Hosannah” in praise of Messiah, Son of God, the “stones will;” for God's decree is that His beloved Son must be owned and honored when here; neither is He going to be hindered in having the name of that blessed One told out to the ends of the earth, as a Savior for man lost in trespasses and sins. If some had settled down, He can fit instruments for His purpose out of materials more unlikely than “the stones.”
There is the chief of sinners standing by the clothes of those who had laid them down at his feet to take care of, until they stoned the Lord's faithful servant, Stephen—mad with rage against Christ and all that owned Him. This man is to be made a willing instrument to carry the name of Christ, “the Son of God,” to all the nations.
The Lord speaks from heaven, and in a moment he is turned and ready. “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” is what expresses it. He must, however, tarry awhile, and then he shall know, not only what the Lord would have him to do, but what “he should suffer for his name's sake.”
And now has the Lord a service ready for the “good man,” whose eye was so single at first, and as a clean vessel, to be honored and used by the Master.
Saul, escaping from Damascus, would “join himself to the disciples at Jerusalem: but they were afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.” They did not know of his conversion; but Barnabas knew; and the Lord uses him to bring in Saul to the assembly at Jerusalem. “But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” We are not told how Barnabas knew all this, but it is remarkable that he should know so much better about Saul's conversion than the apostles and disciples at Jerusalem. His heart was in it all, and the Lord, doubtless, had put him in the way of knowing all this, in order to form a link between these two for future work together.
The persecution which arose about Stephen opened out this. Saul had been the means of scattering abroad the church at Jerusalem, also Judea and Samaria. These simple disciples, driven away from their homes for their faith in the Lord Jesus, yet carrying Him in their hearts, must needs speak of Him wherever they go, even at last “to the Greeks;” and “the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.” This spontaneous work is specially owned of God, carrying out His purpose by the gospel, to the glory of Christ, among the Gentiles.
The apostles had not done this work. Saul was the instrument used. “The Lord makes the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder He restrains,” by stopping the wrathful man on his way to Damascus, and fitting him to labor, side by side, with those whom his wrath had driven among the nations, to tell of God's love in Christ.
Here there is more work also for the “good man,” “son of consolation,” fit instrument to be used and honored in service.
“Then tidings of these things came to the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem, and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch, who, when he came and saw the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord.”
The church at Jerusalem had perfect confidence in this “good man,” as having spiritual discernment as to the work of which they had heard. Their confidence is not misplaced. He discerns at once the Lord's hand, and the reality of that which was wrought thus far, apart from any official channel. His whole heart is in it. “He was glad when he saw the grace of God,” and in service follows up by “attending to exhortation,” All was right thus far; they must have “full purpose of heart, and cleave unto the Lord.” It is but the echo of his own state of soul; he was but leading them, and encouraging them to walk in the path he had trodden hitherto himself. There had been “full purpose of heart” in “Joses, surnamed Barnabas,” from the day that the grace of God had met him, and delivered him so completely. He did not lead them beyond himself—this was not possible. Blessed state of soul, and blessed the servant, or saint, who was, or is, in it, and increasingly blessed its results: “and much people were added to the Lord;” “for he was a good man,” &c. The Spirit of God gives as a reason for the large blessing, “full of the Holy Ghost and of faith,” the state of this man's soul. What could hinder large blessing when such was the state? May we lay this to heart.
Next we see what is most beautiful. The work is enlarging, and help is needed in this field. Barnabas knows of the one whom he introduced to the church in Jerusalem, and he knows what he is. “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus for to seek Saul.” The disciples do not send for Saul. This “good man” judges Saul to be fitted to help in this work. Was Saul unemployed at Tarsus, waiting for the Lord's call? If so, he has it by Barnabas, and immediately responds to it; for “he found him, and brought him to Antioch,” and there these two labor, and “teach much people for a whole year,” after which the church sends them to Jerusalem, with relief to the brethren there in their distress; and they return to Antioch, bringing with them John Mark,
This work, then, at Antioch goes on not independent, indeed, of Jerusalem, Barnabas being the link of connection in service; yet was it the free and spontaneous action of the Holy Ghost for Christ, if I may so say; and He (the Holy Ghost) is in Antioch, as in Jerusalem at the first, not only in the salvation of the souls of much people, but in giving gifts; so we find “at Antioch certain prophets and teachers, as Barnabas, and Simeon, that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen—and Saul;” five in all, harmoniously ministering in Antioch, the mention of the names beginning with Barnabas, and ending with Saul. These two distinguished ones must yet go together in service.
“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Thus the Holy Ghost still keeps this “good man” in his preeminent place in service. I do not follow them in this their first tour, taking John Mark with them to help, who lowers himself by turning back to Jerusalem, at Perga in Pamphylia (lacking the faith and full purpose of heart needed in a true servant), just remarking in passing that Paul increases in energy, and is the “chief speaker,” changing his name to Paul, it would seem, at Paphos.
This service being completed, they return to Antioch, “and declare all that God had wrought by them.”
Up to this point, with the exception of John Mark's defection, all had gone on harmoniously in this new work, at and from Antioch; the freshness of first love was there, until certain men come from Judea, and introduce, or try to introduce, circumcision. I pass by this to notice the place that Barnabas still held in service; but now it is “Paul and Barnabas, who had no small dissension and disputation with them;” and this not settling the question, it is “determined that Paul and Barnabas should go to Jerusalem about it.”
Their mission there is successful, and they return to Antioch, with “letters from the apostles, elders, and brethren,” settling the question in dispute, which, when read at Antioch, caused them to “rejoice for the consolation;” “Paul and Barnabas continuing in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with, many other also.”
Here we would gladly stop in following the path of this “good man,” if the Holy Ghost stopped here. But no. Up to this all had been bright; and how sad that such a light should be dimmed How it grieves one's heart that these two beloved ones, laboring so long and faithfully together, should quarrel and part Mark, indeed, whose default was the occasion of it, is afterward deemed “profitable unto Paul,” as he writes. Had the Lord called away His beloved Barnabas then?
Yet so it was. Had he forgotten his own beautiful exhortation, “with purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord?”
His relation, John Mark, and his native island of Cyprus, doubtless weigh too much with him as a man naturally, and not Christ's interests; and the Holy Ghost drops him out of the record further given in the
Acts. Up to this last all was worthy of imitation, and full of encouragement; this last is but as a beacon light, to warn our souls of danger, when and where it may be least expected. In all there is instruction and profit.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:1-3

The apostle now follows up the striking specimen he had given of the ministry of reconciliation toward the close of chapter v. by an appeal to the Corinthians themselves. There we saw how erroneous it is to treat verse 20 as a call to the saints; for he is illustrating the word they had to preach to the world. Hereto the opposite error is common through fear of compromising the security of the believer; and the more so, as men like Olshausen say, It is undeniable that the apostle assumes that grace when once received may be lost: the scriptures know nothing of the dangerous error of the advocates of predestination, that grace cannot be lost; and experience stamps it as a lie. This the more orthodox Calvinist, like Hodge, attempts to meet by saying that the apostle is only exhorting men not to let God's grace be to no purpose in making His Son sin, as it regarded them; that is, that a satisfaction for sin sufficient for all and appropriate to all had been made and offered to all in the gospel. But this is incorrect. It is a direct exhortation to the Corinthians, and not a declaration of the method in which the apostle preached, like the concluding verses of the preceding chapter. He is not exhorting all men, but the Corinthians who bore the Lord's name not to receive the grace of God in vain. Were there no ὑμᾶ “you,” expressed, it might be so argued; but there it stands, not in chapter 5:20, but here, a distinct and effectual disproof of those who would assimilate the two; and its reserve to the last place gives such an emphasis to the pronoun that the only wonder is how grave and godly men should have ignored its force. The aorist inf. δέξεσθαι does not necessarily imply, as Meyer alleges in at least an early edition, a past reception of His grace, but may mean the act complete and decisive irrespective of time, which is thoroughly if not more consistent with the application to the Corinthians. What the apostle has in view is the danger of easy-going self-satisfaction in those who already called on the name of the Lord. So He Himself in the parabolic marriage of the king's son had warned, first, of despising or maltreating the messengers of the gospel; secondly, of indifference to what alone suits those who come, of wearing one's own garments instead of having put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism would aggravate, not hinder, the most condign judgment.
“And working together we also beseech that ye receive not in vain the grace of God (for he saith, In an acceptable season I listened to thee, and in a day of salvation I helped thee: behold, now a right acceptable season, behold now a day of salvation), giving none offense in anything that the ministry be not blamed.” (Vers. 1-3.)
There is no authority for inserting “with him” as in the italics of the Authorized Version, though supported by many commentators. It is an unscriptural familiarity, if not irreverent. 1 Cor. 3:9 gives it no real countenance; for the messengers are said to be, not fellow-workers with God, but His fellow-workmen, or journeymen together doing His work. So here, but by and on behalf of Him they work together, and exhort not men only to believe the gospel, but those who already professed faith not to receive His grace in vain. And “beseeching,” while just applied to those without in token of the incomparable goodness of God to His enemies, is still more suitable in urging on His professing saints to beware of all inconsistent with His grace. The security of His children is unquestionable, not so much through their perseverance as men say, but by His power through faith: but the Corinthians needed and received faithful entreaty, for their ways were not such as became the gospel. They were compromising His glory who had called them to the fellowship of His Son, and the apostle instead of comforting them with the blessed assurances at the close of Rom. 8, would here exercise conscience as well as affection in presence of God's grace.
Nor is this enfeebled but strengthened by the following verse in which Isa. 49:8 is applied. It is a quotation from that section of the prophecy in which Jehovah arraigns the Jews, not for idolatry but for rejecting the Messiah; and it is deduced to be a light thing in consequence to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of Israel. Jehovah would also give Him, thus cast off by His own people, for a light to the Gentiles, that He might be His salvation unto the end of the earth. If man despised and the nation [Israel] abhorred, His glory as on earth should be secured among kings and princes, whereon follows the word here cited. It is the principle, not the mere fact, which is taken up.
There is no need of supposing in this case that a promise to the Messiah included at the same time His people, though we see how strikingly this appears in the use made of Isa. 1 by the apostle in Rom. 8 Here the blessing to the Gentiles is expressly mentioned, so that it seems more akin to James's use of Amos 9:11, 12, in Acts 15. And this is confirmed, it would appear, by the fact that the apostle breaks forth into a strong expression of the grace God is now showing, surpassing as it does the actual fulfillment in the days of the kingdom, when the earth shall be raised and the desolate heritage is enjoyed, when the prisoners shall go forth and those in darkness show themselves, when hunger and thirst shall be no more, and heat and sun shall not smite, but the merciful Jehovah shall guide even by the springs of waters, when the mountains shall be made a way, and the scattered return from every quarter under heaven; and the heavens themselves shall sing and the earth be joyful in Jehovah's mercy and comfort for His afflicted people. Yet in presence of such an anticipation, bright as it was in the apostle's heart, there shone a light brighter by far in Him who is exalted into a new and higher glory at God's right hand, which leads him to say, “Behold now a right acceptable season, behold now a day of salvation:” words suggested by the prophecy, but designedly rising above them in strength as expressive of God's present display of grace in the gospel.
Then resuming the thread of his exhortation to the Corinthians, the apostle shows how far he was from refusing to measure himself and his service by that which he meted to others, “Giving none offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed.” Who knew better that inconsistency above all things undermines preaching or teaching? Christianity is real and living, not dogmatic only, still less official: else it becomes of all things the most contemptible; just as when genuine it is heavenly and of the Holy Spirit, as the moral expression of Christ in those that are His. In Moses' chair sat the scribes and the Pharisees, it was a duty to do and keep all things whatever they might bid, whilst not doing according to their works; for they said and did not. But unreality, as it is a lie against Christ, destroys the weight of Christian teaching, which derives its power from the Spirit of God. And no more eminent witness of his own words ever lived than the apostle, not more to endure the heaviest burdens for Christ's sake than to bear those of any or of all others. His life, not only as a whole but in every detail, was a comment on his ministry; and who so vigilant to cut off occasion from those who sought it?

The Prayer of a Saint

The tenor and subjects of our prayers will ever be in accordance with our knowledge and apprehension of God, and of the relation in which we recognize Him as standing toward us and us to Him. Thus, if we regard God as having given us only the hope of the attainment of salvation by Jesus Christ, our constant desire before God will be for the brightening and strengthening of that hope, as that which we feel to be needful for our comfort and peace of mind. But as to any farther revelation which God may have given of His mind and purpose, we can feel but little interest, whilst there remains a doubt as to our being personally concerned and having a portion therein.
But if we are enabled, in the undoubting simplicity of faith, to take our stand upon the sure foundation which God has laid for every sinner, in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son, our desires will naturally go forth after the knowledge of more of what is the purpose of God, in connection with the manifestation of the glory of Him in “whom we have obtained an inheritance.” Now, one great design of God in the gift of His Son was the manifestation of His love. His power, His unspotted holiness, must be exhibited; His justice, as the Supreme Governor, must take its course. But in Jesus all can be displayed and exercised in love. God is love. And in Jesus “dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” What Jesus expressed of God was love, as set forth in that short summary in His own blessed words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16.) Thus the first step of a sinner's knowledge of God is, that He so loved him.
But it is in the farther increasing knowledge and apprehension of the love of Christ that we are led on to the fullness of God. Now this is the prayer of the Spirit of God, Him who makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God; asking, of course, only for that which it is our blessing to receive and know, and God's glory to bestow and communicate. We are too apt, judging of God by the narrowness of our own hearts, to remain satisfied in the attainment of a clearness of hope as to a future and final deliverance, looking upon the glory to be revealed as no portion of our present knowledge. But this is surely wrong, it is all the portion of faith now. “We have the mind of Christ,” and the Holy Ghost abiding with us and in us; and although “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” yet “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2)
It is true that in present circumstances, as being yet in the body, and in the region of sin, we “see through a glass darkly,” but yet it is “all things,” and thus our power and capacity of understanding are now in kind, though not in degree, the same as they will ever be. But we are not sufficiently careful to distinguish between the perceptions of the natural mind and the perceptions of the spiritual mind by faith. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3.) “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned; but he that is spiritual judgeth [discerneth, marg.] all things.” (1 Cor. 2:14, 15.)
Being born again, and having spiritual life and perception, we are capable of receiving the things of the Spirit of God; and it is in the exercise of our spiritual powers, in the diligent study and meditation of what God has revealed, that we grow up “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13.) To be satisfied with any measure of attainment in divine things is fleshly, natural; so it is to be satisfied with less than God has seen fit and necessary to give-” the fullness"-” all things. But the true secret of our willing ignorance, is, that every step of attainment in the knowledge of God involves painful self-denial and crucifixion of the flesh. It is the prevalence of the “carnal mind,” which is “enmity against God,” over the “spiritual mind,” which receives and delights in the things of God, as being of Him. Thus there is so much of death in our life, for the “carnal mind is death"-” the spiritual mind is life and peace.”
Oh, how much of present joy and peace in believing should we experience, if, at once discarding from our hearts all fellowship with the “weak and beggarly elements of the world,” we took our stand practically and constantly on the “sure foundation” of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, yea, risen and ascended to God; “growing up into him in all things, which is the Head.” Hence, indeed, would the deep vistas of eternity open to our view, stretching out in peaceful calm and light-the King in His beauty-with all around subject in the holy and blissful harmony of love. The fellowship of all this would give joy and repose to the soul, in the trying scenes around us, and the conflict within us.
The testimony of the Spirit in the scriptures is characterized as being to Christ-” the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Peter 1:11.) “And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in ALL the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27.)
Christ is the mystery of piety. God “created all things by Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:9.) “All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3.) “All things were created by him and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Col. 1:16.) “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” (Rev. 22:13.) The mystery of Christ is “the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 5:32); the man and the woman, in the great purpose of God-” This is a [the] great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:32.) “And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first.; born from the dead.” (Col. 1:18.)
In Genesis we read that “God created the heavens and the earth,” and man “in his own image;” and He looked upon all that He had made, and pronounced them “very good.” But we find that both the heavens and the earth became defiled by sin. “The angels kept not their first estate” (Jude 6); and man, listening to the temptation of Satan, likewise fell and sinned in disobeying God. Thus did the design of God seem to be frustrated, and the course of this world, dead in trespasses and sins, has ever since been running on in sin unto death, under the power of him who has the power of death. But God's purpose was not defeated, for it was in Himself He purposed, “according to the good purpose of his will,” “according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” — “before the foundation of the world” —as depending, not at all upon the obedience and rectitude of His creature, but upon Himself. And herein we learn the needful lesson-that, separate from God, there is no endurance for the creature, and that it is only by the grace of His own imparted power that the creature can live. All God's dealings have tended to show us what we are, yea, more, what all creatures put on their responsibility of obedience must be; and what He is—God—the sustainer of all things. Thus man continued to stand, apparently upon his own responsibility, but as a sinner, and incapable for ages, but with obscure intimations, known to faith, of grace. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17.) And the incarnation of the Son of God contains the whole of the mystery of God (developed to faith by the Spirit), as to creation, redemption, and the sure standing and continuance of the creature by grace IN HIM. “By him all things consist” —him was life."
Thus, in the Gospel by John, the especial testimony to the Son of God, we are at once led back by the Spirit to that which was before the visible creation existed. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) “And the Word was made flesh.” (Ver. 14.) This, as the sure foundation of the state of things, whereby to be made known and manifested, and as enduring (κατὰ πρόθεσιν), and that wherein shall be shown the TRUTH of that said of man, “in the image of God” —and of all things-” very good.” But redemption required that there should be blood, death, resurrection; and all these intervened before the full declaration of the hidden mystery could commence—and that He should take His place as the Head of all things, in order to the Spirit's testimony going forth as to what was. (John 7:39.) But now is come forth from the Spirit the full announcement of the mystery of “the dispensation of the fullness of times;” and surely to know our place and portion in those arrangements which are to be enduring, and forever built up securely in God, must be a matter of the highest interest and importance; and also, in knowing that we have a portion therein, to be enabled now to enter into the mind of God in the revelation of the mystery He has given, should be a subject of interest. This is our present portion, for we have the Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance. It is in the knowledge of what we are in Christ, as before God, and what God is to us in Christ, that we are capacitated to receive the further communications of the mind of God, as to what Christ is to all things, and this in order to our being “filled into all the fullness of God.”
It should be the subject of our prayers, the object of our unwearied diligence, to be filled with God, and to have His mind in all things. It is the power, ever so regarded in scripture, of our deliverance from this present evil world, into the world of faith—God's world—into that state of things which shall endure with the permanency of God, under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this, as God's object and purpose, should be our object and desire, in attaining true knowledge and understanding therein. It is, moreover, the true secret of power and facility in the discharge of those duties which more especially belong to our present position and circumstances as being in the world, as the children of God here, in a place of testimony and service to Him. We may observe, that this prayer of the Spirit by the apostle (Eph. 3:14) is on behalf of those who had been made partakers of the “riches of his grace,” in redemption through the blood of Jesus, and who had been sealed with that “Holy Spirit of promise, the earnest of the inheritance.... to the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13.) It is now on the ground of glory that the apostle prays “according to the riches of his glory.” It is not only of grace, though all be of grace, but of glory, that we are made partakers, “who by him do believe in God that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God.” (1 Peter 1:21)
The character in which God is recognized and addressed here is “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole [every] family in heaven and earth is named"-His children thus as named of Him, standing in the same relationship to God, and the glory of God, as He Himself does. (Eph. 1:3.) And indeed, in any recognition short of this, the whole character and subject of the prayer would be unmeaning and presumptuous. But this is true, and the character and standing of every believer in Jesus, as known to God, and as being one with and in Christ in resurrection life. Thus, in the declaration of the Lord after His resurrection, “I ascend to my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17.) This more fully shown by the Spirit, as sent from Jesus, returned to the bosom of the Father, as showing us “plainly of the Father,” in the abundant testimony of the Spirit in the epistles to the churches. “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians iv. 6.) “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:16.) “Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet [ἰκανώσαντι ἡμπαςi] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Colossians i. 12, 13.)
Hereupon the apostle prays that we may be “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man,” the “new man” in Christ Jesus; strengthened in that which alone is capable of receiving and understanding farther communications of God-that which is of God, born of God, begotten of God, a new, a spiritual and a holy nature. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” That all that Christ was and is to us, and all that He has done and will do for us, may be constantly and habitually present (κατλικῆσαι) with us-not drawn away by, objects of sense and present attraction, but having Christ as the one great subject of our meditation: and what a blessed field of thought is here! Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Gethsemane, Calvary, the crown of thorns, the cross, the grave, Emmaus, Mount Olivet, heaven, the right hand of God-” a little while, I will come again.” And all this of Him who is the Eternal Son of God, the Word, in the beginning with God, and God-the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, yet Himself truly man. We sometimes hear of the first principles of the truth, but the first principles are all; Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; He is all and in all; the beginning and the end, the first and the last; the beginning of faith, the end of faith; wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; the power of God, the wisdom of God, the glory of God, the love of God; and, O blessed thought “Ye are complete in him.”
It is thus when strengthened in spirit, Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith, our power and capacity to “comprehend” become enlarged and expanded, and this in proportionate measure, progressive and increasing, “the love of Christ that passeth knowledge.” We come to know that here is the unfailing stream of love, gushing forth in unabated freshness and fullness, through the ages of a boundless eternity. It is that wherein GOD shall be known to the whole family in heaven and earth, when, every cloud of sin forever removed, the calm and hallowed light of His unveiled glory shall shine forth, to gladden their hearts forever. The love of Christ is that wherein the boundless infinity, the fullness of God, is and shall be manifested.
Its height is hidden in God, coming forth thence, as the counsel of the infinite mind in the beginning, of which all we can know or say is, that “God was.”
Its depth is infinite, it has reached below the lowest possible depth of sin and pollution, and distance from God, even beneath that depth where there was no hope.
Its breadth comprises the utmost limits of God's creation, to gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and on earth.
Its length, too, is infinite as God and eternity. When God ceases to be, and eternity comes to an end, then, and not till then, shall we find the limit of the love of Christ.
In a word, it is the fullness of God, into which it is our joy, our blessing, our portion present and future, to be tilled; and this in the increasing comprehension of the love; of Christ. IT IS THE LOVE OF CHRIST, THE Fullness of GOD.
“Now unto 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 church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen,” G. V. W.

Glory and Virtue

There is an expression of the Spirit of God here that brings out our true blessedness now in contrast even with man before the fall. We are often in the habit, and rightly so, as it is with profit to our souls, of contrasting our place with man fallen; but it is also certain that the grace of God has given us a wholly different place from man unfallen. And there is an expression at the close of this verse that brings out the difference in a way that I think the Lord may use to help our souls and strengthen our faith. The whole runs thus: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to (by) glory and virtue.” Now such was not at all the case with Adam in the garden. There he was made the head of creation, and everything around him was very good. God looked upon it, and pronounced it good, and Adam's place was simply to enjoy with thanksgiving. He was tested in one small particular, but still he was tested, adequately and wisely, by this point whether he would obey, as in the place of subjection to Him. To abstain from the fruit of one forbidden tree was no hardship, but a real acknowledgment of God's authority, in itself small indeed, so to speak, compared with what was left entirely and thoroughly at his disposal. Just as among men: it may be a person has a vast estate, and all he pays to the sovereign is a peppercorn-that is, it is a pure and simple acknowledgment that he is not independent. Certainly in divine relationships there is sought to be on man's part subjection to One above him, because without this man would be altogether wrong. This accordingly had to be remembered by man, and was maintained by God, who put him to the proof in this particular point. But for man otherwise it was a question simply of enjoying what God had given, and the only spiritual exercise that Adam or Eve could have known in such a state of things was thankfulness of heart in owning the gifts of God's bounty and goodness.
But there was no setting forth at all at that time of heaven or hell. God at first never said anything about either. He warned of death, but not a word more. There was no revelation about another world for man. Consequently their way of looking at God and the things of God was wholly different from ours in every respect. The only point of contact between Adam in that state and a Christian now is this: God to be acknowledged with thanksgiving, God to be obeyed absolutely. In itself the test might be a very small point, and so it was. It was not all the giving oneself up to God in the way we are now called on to do, as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Obedience is now of a far more absolute nature than it could be then, because it is tested at every point, instead of being only tested at one. There is not a single thing that we are called upon to do in the course of the day, but what is intended of God to exercise our hearts, not merely that the end should be to Him, but that the way of it should be always according to God too. And Christ is both the only means of knowing the end and the only one by whom we can see the way. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Now Christ was not unveiled to Adam at all; he, unfallen, had no knowledge of Christ whatsoever. He knew God above him, enjoyed the fruits of God's mighty hand, and his heart was to return in thankfulness to God for the enjoyment of all that was his, abstaining from that one tree in the middle of the garden which God had prohibited from his use.
But our place is wholly different. Now we find “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” There is no restriction whatever in what God gives us. He rises up in His own majesty, and in His divine power gives us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. We have not so much creature gifts for this life-indeed these seem hardly included in what is here said to be given with a spiritual end in view. Outward mercies are around us; and we have whatever share of them God is pleased in His providence to give. We confide in His wisdom, and are sere that He knows what is the very best thing for us, and He never fails. He puts us exactly in that place which is the best for us, as well as for Him. Confidence in Him is what makes the heart perfectly happy, because, whatever comes, whether trial, or difficulty, or sorrow, we can never as believers suppose that it is haphazard. It comes from Himself, and there is not a single form of trial or grief but what God can turn, as He means that we by grace should turn it, to His own glory. This is a part of what He calls “all things that pertain unto life and godliness:” because the dispensation of trial and difficulty is the path in which that life has to be exercised, and that godliness to be maintained.
Here, too, we have the manner of it-” through the knowledge of him that hath called us by glory and virtue.” It is not merely certain things around us. When the various animals came before him, Adam knew and gave the appropriate name for each animal that was put under his dominion. He discerned their nature, and assigned to them designations, according to the wisdom with which God endowed him. But our privilege is to know Him who has called us. It is the knowledge of God Himself, and of God Himself, not merely as a Creator, but as the God of all grace. “Through the knowledge of him that hath called us by glory and virtue.” What did Adam know then about these things? There was not even a question of a “call” of God in Adam's case at that time. There could not be the call of a man unfallen. Calling does not apply to an innocent, but necessarily to a fallen, creature; because calling means that God speaks to take that creature out of the condition in which he then is, and put him into a better. Adam was to magnify God by honoring Him where he was, and by enjoying what was given around him, not by seeking something unseen or greater, and that was why Adam, seeking in disobedience to be greater, lost everything he had so bountifully. Listening to Eve, and really to the devil, he sought to be as God; but in this vain search after becoming as God, he became a sinner. In a certain sense he did become as God, namely, as knowing good and evil; but this is what the creature, as such, could not bear. Only God can have in Himself the knowledge of good and evil, without leaving the good and falling under the power of the evil. If the creature, left to itself, have the knowledge of good and evil, the result is that the evil overpowers and carries him away: he gives up the good, and falls a prey to the evil. The intuitive knowledge of good and evil, apart from law, was what Adam gained by sin. This is not lost to the Christian.
The believer is met by God in the midst of his ruined estate, and the grace of God sends a call to him. This is what God does in the gospel. He calls us, and we hear His voice, and come forth from the grave of our sins at His call, and we are thus the fruit of the resurrection-power of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are thus called out of that misery, and distance, and death before God into which our sins have plunged us. This does not apply to Adam unfallen. He, while innocent in the garden, was not at all in that state: and consequently there was no call to him. Afterward there was a call. After he had sinned God did call to Adam, who trembled at the sound, and hid himself. There is where the call comes in; but the call of God is not to the conscience only, it is the revelation of His grace and as a deliverer. God's grace accordingly always wrought by the revelation of this coming Deliverer. But now He is fully revealed as well as come; and our chapter supposes this, but still brings in the great principle that is true ever since the fall, though brought out incomparably more fully since the Lord Jesus Christ and redemption have been revealed. We are now called to (or, rather, by His own) glory and virtue Adam was not. He was simply to enjoy what he had, and what God had given him: but we are called out of everything here, and the force of Christianity, as a practical thing, depends upon our souls entering into this. A man of the world is one that sets himself down to enjoy present things. He has got his good clothing, and his good food, and his good retinue, and everything good around him, or at least what he calls good. But he has not a thought or feeling that all has passed under sin; and it is in his case sanctified in no respect by the word of God and prayer.
All this is a denial of the fall, and this is the whole character of man's course here below. When fallen, he denies the fall. He acts in a way that would have been suitable if he were not a fallen creature. It was Adam's place to enjoy what was around him, and to own God in it, and the worldly man now has his own way of owning God's hand. He perhaps says grace before a meal, or gets another to do it for him, for he generally likes to do religion by deputy. Such is fallen man. There is no real knowledge of God, no knowledge of Him that calls, because, in point of fact, he is not called, he has never heard the voice of God-never met Him in his conscience to own his sins to God, or God's grace to him-and so he is entirely outside the grace of God; having heard with his cars, he has not heard. It has not entered mind, heart, or conscience-nothing but the outward ear. Now the Christian has heard, and he is called through the knowledge of Him that has called him by His glory and virtue. He is called not to repair the world, not to improve man, not to make a better state of present things; this is not the place of a Christian, but the very reverse. It is just what infidelity attempts to do, because it does not believe in the ruin that sin has brought in, or in God's judgment, any more than His grace in Christ. And wherever a Christian is carried away by the world, he always slips into this.
If any of us who are in this place were to tamper with such thoughts and efforts, we should become worse than anyone else. We should be doing so in the face of truth that condemns it all, and with better knowledge of what God's mind is; and therefore should go back from all we have heard and confessed as the testimony of God. There are none that would so completely bring shame on the truth, and who would lose all conscience, so much as those who are familiar with truth without obedience. The persons who dishonor the Lord most are those who know the truth, but are not subject to it. We find this in the case of the Corinthians. They were true saints of God, and yet there was evil amongst them, such as was not even named among the Gentiles. This did not at all surprise the apostle. It horrified him, but did not take him at unawares. The greater the truth you know, if you deal lightly with it, the worse will be your conduct; and therefore no persons require so earnestly and perseveringly to watch against sin, and to use every means, whether of prayer or of the word of God, for the purpose of our souls being kept pure, simple, and uncompromising. Adam was simply to enjoy what he had in his unfallen state. Man, now fallen, attempts to do the same; which is contempt of God in every way. The character and full picture of this we see in the rich man with Lazarus: “Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things.” There we have the selfishness of the heart blotting out God and man, and only living to gratify self. Is it not an awful, but a common, spectacle in a ruined world?
But the Christian is called to another thing altogether, perhaps to be as Lazarus; but, whether he have evil things or not, he is called by God's glory and by virtue. And, oh, may we think of this, and lay it to heart, that this is what we are called to, every day of our lives God has, by and in Christ, unveiled heaven to us; His own presence there is our hope. He does not give present enjoyment of things around us. And there is what the grace of God brings out of the fall, or rather from the fall out of Jesus Christ the Lord. Thus has God, so to speak, taken advantage, in His own unbounded grace, of the fact that sin has spoiled the first creation, to bring in a better one. There is no good around us now to act on our souls, nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit; but God has unveiled to our hearts in Christ above a scone where vanity will never enter, and where vexation of spirit cannot be known. And therefore, instead of this being something that will bring praise to ourselves, it is entirely His grace and His calling-” by the knowledge of him that hath called us by his own glory and virtue.” Thus does He put His own presence in glory before us, and calls us out by faith thereby. This is why it is said in Rom. 3, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"-an expression that has perplexed many. Before there was sin, no such thing as the glory of God was set out in any way before man; but when sin came in, this is the standard and measure; and for this Christ's work fits us. It is not a question of whether I am fit to stand on the earth-sin has spoiled that; but am I fit to stand in the glory of God? The answer is, that only the man who has received Christ, with faith in His blood, is fit for that glory. We are called out of all that we see and are in; we regard and love Christ, who first loved us, as our only Savior and Deliverer. He is in the glory of God, and we rejoice in hope of it.
Following, but along with this, comes the “virtue,” or moral courage, which does not allow the gratification of self, which does not turn the grace and the promises of God to a selfish account. Does faith ever say, Now that I have in hope the world of glory, I must try and enjoy the present world of self? He has called us by His own glory and by virtue. If saved by hope, we have, as the treasure of our hearts, Christ and the glory before us, it is incompatible with Him to seek this world also. The best of this world is a thing to be slighted for Christ, even if we could command all its treasures. And I pray God that we may live upon that which is unseen, assured that, having Christ, we can well afford to be forgotten and cast off, because we cleave to the name of the Crucified in the glory of God.

A Purged Conscience

A purged conscience makes all simple. I do not discuss with a bad conscience; I can principles with my reason. With a bad conscience I want cleansing; and, because I have offended a loving Father and God, forgiveness too; and, thank God, I have it in Christ. There is no personal having to do with God without this. I may theorize, and honestly enjoy my ideas; but theorizing is not the knowledge of God. A truly upright soul, a divinely taught soul, has a moral need that the love of God, the favor which is its light and its joy, should be a righteous favor (as scripture speaks, grace reigns through righteousness)—hence, that God should righteously not see sin upon it: it has need, therefore, that the conscience should be purged. And this it has through the truth that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses from all sin. Without it, God's love would be an unholy love—would not be God or love at all. We walk in the light, as God is in the light; and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. Hence comes that bright and blessed testimony, though there in outward figures, “He hath not seen iniquity in Jacob, nor beheld perverseness in Israel.”

Moses: 2. Moses' Heavenly Glory

IN the previous paper I have meditated on Moses's loss of Canaan. I would now trace the testimony to his heavenly glory. For though he lost the one, the Lord through abounding grace had prepared for him the other.
From Acts 7 we learn that the rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ by the earth was the occasion (I speak, of course, as remembering that “known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world") of giving him a glory in heaven, and in connection with a family there, of an order higher than any glory He would have known or gathered, had the earth received, instead of rejecting Him. But that chapter also tells us, that that mystery had been typified in the histories of both Joseph and Moses. Joseph was sold, and Moses was refused by their brethren, but, by reason of that, Joseph got joy and glory and a family in Egypt, and Moses got the same in Midian; and each of them was thus, in his day, a foreshadowing of the glory and joy of the Son of God, in the midst of the church or heavenly family, consequent on His being rejected in His day also by Israel and the earth.
But, in the progress of Moses's history, we get him a second time separated from Israel, such separation being also followed by the same heavenly results. The sin of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, by which the covenant was broken and the blessing forfeited, casts Moses again into the same heavenly character. Upon that sin of the golden calf the tabernacle is removed, and pitched without the camp, the Lord in righteousness disowning His revolted people. But there Moses meets Him, and meets Him too in a new way, “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” (Ex. 33:11.) This had not been so before. It was the expression of increased intimacy between the Lord and Moses. It was letting him into friendship with the Lord, such as the church now stands in. (John 15:15.) It was a new thing with Moses, a fresh character of glory in Him, as his previous dwelling in Midian among the Gentiles had been new in its day. And it was just the thing that distinguished Moses from all Jewish worthies or prophets, and took him above them; as we read, “there arose not a prophet since in Israel, like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (Deut. 34) And being in this place of intimacy, or in this heavenly place, he acts according to the high prerogatives of it. He passes and re-passes between the glorious tabernacle which the cloud guarded, and the camp of the congregation. (Ex. 33:11.) And this movement expressed his equal access to heaven and to earth, and thus that he was the mediator, the shadow of our heavenly Priest, Christ Jesus. Joshua the while was kept in the tabernacle, as the servant separated, it is true, from the defiled and revolted people (as the righteous remnant will be in the latter day), but still not let into the place of intimacy, the heavenly place, which Moses filled.
And in another case he acts according to the high prerogatives of his new and heavenly character. He marries an Ethiopian woman. (Num. 12) He takes another wife from among the Gentiles, and those too who were, in common esteem, the very basest of the Gentiles. (Jer. 13) His natural kindred, his connections in the flesh, are not prepared for this; and they speak against him, and are for refusing his place and authority. He being a man of heavenly temper, more meek than any who could have been found on the earth, says nothing to all this. But the Lord pleads his cause, and in doing so vindicates him on the very ground of that heavenly character which he had acquired in the days of the golden calf, or of the apostasy of the earthly people. “Hear now my words,” says the Lord to Aaron and Miriam, “if there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream; my servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house; with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches, and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore, then, were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
Here the Lord very strikingly pleads in favor of Moses, and in full vindication of his doing an act which earthly or fleshly kindred did not understand, and were not prepared for, the intimacy with Himself which Moses had acquired by the former sin of that earthly people. That intimacy, or speaking “face to face” with the Lord, had thus raised him quite above the Jewish or earthly level, and had clearly given him a heavenly character, one of the prerogatives of which he had been now exercising, in marrying an Ethiopian woman, as he had before, as I have shown, exercised another of them, in passing and re-passing between the Lord in the tabernacle of glory and the camp of the people.
And I must notice the value of the word” all” in this passage. It is very striking in connection with my subject-” who is faithful in all my house,” says the Lord, words which went to tell Aaron and Miriam that Moses was a person of special dignity, having access to all parts of the Lord's house. It was not only that he was faithful, but faithful in all parts of the house, baying title to be in the holiest, or heavenly place, as well as in the tabernacle of the congregation or the courts. For it is Moses's dignity as well as fidelity that his divine Advocate is here pleading.
All this strikes use as being very clear and strong; and thus Moses's second marriage, or with the Ethiopian, has the same voice as his first marriage, or with the Midianite. Both show him in heavenly character, or as the type of the Lord in union with the church.
Thus Moses becomes a partaker of the heavenly calling, and according to this, as we may now further see, at the end he occupies the heavenly place.
We see him for instance, in the Mount Pisgah, viewing the land of Canaan stretched out beneath him. (Deut. 34) That was a new mount of God to him. It lay a little outside the promised land, but it afforded him a full view of it. It was a high eminence, the top of Pisgah on Mount Nebo, in the mountains of Abarim. The earth had now ceased to own Moses, Israel also knew him no more the wilderness too had all been passed, and the Lord alone is his company on the hill that overlooked the land of promise. What an expression of the place of the church or heavenly glory, the whole of this is On high with the Lord, Moses looks down on the earthly inheritance, the place of the tribes of Israel, Gilead and Dan, Naphtali, Ephraim and Manasseh, with all the land of Judah to the sea, the south too, and the valley of Jericho, with the city of palm trees unto Zoar! A place that could command such objects beneath, and in such company, is heavenly indeed. Moses is on high with the Lord, looking on the cities and plains where the redeemed and happy families of the earth were to dwell. It is from heaven alone that such blessing and occupation of the earth, in righteousness and peace, will be seen by the Lord and His children of the resurrection.
And again as another witness of Moses in the heavenly place, we see him: in the New Testament, on another mount, the Mount of the Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John are there, representing Israel and the earthly people, and they are on the outside. But Moses is there, again in company with the Lord and another co-heir of the heavenly glory, and they are within, enwrapped in the cloud of the excellent glory, the true veil that is to separate the holy place from the courts, or the heavens from the earth. Moses is on the heavenly side of that veil, glorified in the likeness of the very Lord of the glory Himself.
These are two strong and clear testimonies to the heavenly glory of Moses striking exhibitions of him in the heavenly place, being in company with the Lord on the top of two hills, from the one of which he sees the earthly inheritance beneath him, and from the other, the earthly people outside him. And thus I judge, from all these witnesses which we have here listened to, we gather both the heavenly calling and glory, or the heavenly character and place of this honored and faithful servant of God. A child of the resurrection he is, and a joint-heir of God with Jesus Christ.
Thus does Moses lose the earth, but gains heaven. He loses Canaan by his own wrong, trespassing, as we have seen, against the grace and power of the budding rod, but he gains glory on the top of the hill that overlooked Canaan, through the abounding kindness and love of God his Savior. Law says that “no man shall take advantage of his own wrong,” and justly so; for righteousness forbids the thought that anyone shall gain a benefit by his own misdoing. But grace does not act by law, for the glory we reap through it, as pardoned sinners, is richer and brighter far than that which Adam in innocency knew. God's riddle is solved in our history-the eater has yielded meat, and the strong man sweetness. Moses and the church both illustrate it; both are traveling onward through forfeiture of the earth, led by the hand of the Son of God, to the top of that hill which looks down on the goodly tents of Jacob beneath. O beloved, what manner of people should we be! May the life and energy of the indwelling Spirit keep us more and more separated to heavenly character and heavenly hopes! Amen, Lord Jesus.

From Gilgal to Bochim

The Book of Judges is the book of the unfaithfulness of Israel after God had performed the promises made by Joshua. The Israelites had to sojourn in Egypt until the iniquity of the Amorites was full. God only pronounced His judgment, on the world since the world rejected Jesus. The Book of Joshua contains the account of the accomplishment of the promises. The Canaanites represented the influence of Satan, the prince of this world. God gave judges to Israel to chasten him for his unfaithfulness, and to deliver him from the hand of those that spoiled him. It is the history of man from the beginning. Every time that God has set him in blessing he falls immediately into iniquity. Such is what happened to Israel from the entry into Canaan. How? This is what we must examine for our instruction.
It is only when iniquity comes to its height that God judges. The death of Christ is the height of the iniquity of the world. God withdraws His children from the world because the world is judged. Therefore God acts in grace and sends His gospel. God would give a law if the world were not condemned, because it would need a rule of conduct. God has employed all the means possible to act on the heart of man before condemning men. Before the condemnation came on the race, there was no grace to receive. Before Jesus God sent prophets to withdraw men from evil; since Jesus God by grace would reconcile the world, His enemies, to Himself. The friendship of the world is enmity against God. If I had seen yesterday the city of L—crucify my father, it would be impossible for me today to be their companion, or to retain friendship under such circumstances. The gospel of grace is the sole language which one can hold. The disciples of Christ found themselves in this situation. They could not make themselves friends of the high priests, and of the chief men; but they proclaim to them the grace and the mercy of God.
Nothing is changed at bottom. We have the proof of what the heart of man is. All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. There is a barrier which cannot be crossed. As regards our affections and our habits, we are often of the world. Israel wished for Canaan, but in the wilderness pined after the potherbs of Egypt. To have heaven one must vanquish the world and its habits in the circumstances where we are. There is only the grace of God which can give us strength. It is in vain that one desires heaven if the perseverance which is produced by the Spirit of Christ is not in us to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye. One must often break ties the most intimate. The approbation of God can alone sustain and suffice us.
God enters into alliance with us, and wishes us to break every alliance with the world, because the world is judged. One cannot be of the world and of Jesus at the same time. God had fully manifested His power in favor of Israel; the walls of Jericho fell. But the sin of idolatry enfeebled the people; Israel makes leagues with their enemies. Every time that he fought his enemies, the Eternal was with him, and he conquered. The enemy was vanquished by the power of God. But in place of relying on the Eternal, they let in the heathen to live with them, or they lived with the Canaanites. They made alliance with the judged enemies. But God cannot be with His children when they join that which God has condemned. If the church makes concessions to the world, the world is often an aid to the church, but the church becomes its tributary. There is no longer the feeling of the almighty power of God; and the church falls.
It was at Gilgal that Israel was sanctified to the Eternal. The angel of the Eternal was there, because He honors faithfulness. Bochim signifies tears. The alliance of Christians with the world leads them to sorrow and tears. The Eternal had made Israel come out of Egypt, and had accomplished all for him. God has also accomplished all for us, He has conquered death for us. “Ye have not obeyed my voice; why have ye done this?” God then leaves the Canaanites among the sons of Israel: it is a judgment He pronounces against them. God cannot sanction the world which has condemned His Son. When the heart fails in confidence in God, it treats with His enemy, but it cannot be at ease with God. He who has had beside him the altar of a false god, cannot go up to the sanctuary of the Eternal. Communion with God and discernment are lost. Conscience even cannot any longer condemn evil, because it has got hard. From him who has not, even that which he has will be taken away. Then comes continual sorrow. If the soul finds itself at ease, it is that the Spirit of Christ is not there. To recognize the principles of the world there is the source of the fall of Christians and of the church; it is to recognize that which God has condemned.
That which leads us from Gilgal to Bochim is this unfaithfulness. God permits the slipping back, but does not sanction it. Our enemies and worldliness are there in order to test our faithfulness and to teach us war, until rest comes. God acts in us, and Satan in the world; therefore we are the stronger. If there is even an error of judgment, it is because the eye was not single. And because we have come out of Egypt to be the people of God, we ought to combat all the deceitful habits of the world.
O that by the presence of the Holy Spirit we may see clearly. “Ye are not of the world,” says our Lord Jesus, “as I am not of the world;” and this whilst in the world.

For She Loved Much

To explain the expression, “Her sins are forgiven, for she loved much,” we must distinguish between grace revealed in the person of Jesus, and the pardon He announced to those whom the grace had reached. The Lord is able to make this pardon known. He reveals it to the poor woman. But it was that which she had seen in Jesus Himself, which, by grace, melted her heart, and produced the love she had to Him-the seeing what He has for sinners like herself. She thinks only of Him: He has taken possession of her heart so as to shut out other influences. Hearing that He is there, she goes into the house of this proud man, without thinking of anything but the fact that Jesus is there. His presence answered, or prevented, every question. She saw what He was for a sinner, and that the most wretched and disgraced found a resource in Him; she felt her sins in the way that this perfect grace, which opens the heart and wins confidence, causes them to be felt; and she loved much. Grace in Christ had produced its effect. She loved because of His love. This is the reason that the Lord says, “Her sins are forgiven, because she loved much.” It was not that her love was meritorious for this, but that God revealed the glorious fact that the sins-be they ever so numerous and abominable-of one whose heart was turned to God were fully pardoned. There are many whose hearts are turned to God, and who love Jesus that do not know this. Jesus pronounces on their case with authority and sends them away in peace. It is a revelation-an answer-to the wants and affections produced in the heart made penitent by grace revealed in the person of Christ.
If God manifests Himself in this world, and with such love, He must needs set aside in the heart every other consideration. And thus, without being aware of it, this poor woman was the only one who acted suitably in those circumstances; for she appreciated the all-importance of the One who was there. A Savior-God being present, of what importance was Simon and his house? Jesus caused all else to be forgotten. Let us remember this.
The beginning of man's fall was want of confidence in God, by the seducing suggestion of Satan that God had kept back what would make man like God. Confidence in God lost, man seeks, in the exercise of his own will, to snake himself happy: lusts, sin, transgression follow. Christ is God in infinite love, winning back the confidence of man's heart to God. Removal of guilt, and power to live to God, are another thing, and found in their own place through Christ, as pardon comes in its place here. But the poor woman, through grace, had felt that there was one heart she could trust, if none else; but that was God's.
God is light and God is love. Revealing Himself, He must be both; so Christ was love in the world, but the light of it. So in the heart. The love through grace gives confidence, and thus the light is gladly let in, and with confidence in the love, and seeing self in the light, the heart has wholly met God's heart: so with this poor woman. This is where the heart of man and God always and alone meet. The Pharisee had neither: pitch dark, neither love nor light were there. He had God manifest in the flesh in his house, and saw nothing—only settled that He was not a prophet! It is a wondrous scene to see these three hearts: man's, as such, resting on false human righteousness, God's, and the poor sinner's, fully meeting it as God did hers. Who was the child of wisdom? for it is a commentary on that expression.
And note, though Christ had said nothing of it but bowed to the slight, yet He was not insensible to the neglect which had not met Him with the common courtesies of life. To Simon He was a poor preacher, whose pretensions he could judge, certainly not a prophet; for the poor woman, God in love, and bringing her heart into unison with His as to her sins and as to herself, for love was trusted in. Note, too, this clinging to Jesus is where true light is found: here the fruitful revelation of the gospel; to Mary Magdalene, as to the highest privilege of saints.
Our Lord was accustomed to be heard, to look to be heard. A groan in the perception of difficulty is often power in it; it has lost its power in the groan, and the eyes will follow thoughtfully to that God in the secret of His love, who is present in the answer of His love shown in His presence.

Notes on John 17:6-13

The Lord then explains how souls were brought into such nearness of relationship to Him before the Father.
“I manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world. Thine they were, and to me thou gavest them, and they have kept thy word. Now have they known that all things as many as thou hast given me are of thee; because the words which thou gavest me I have given to them, and they received [them], and knew truly that I came out from thee, and believed that thou didst send me.” (Vers. 6-8)
Thus the manifestation of the Father's name is first laid down. It was a characteristic and most influential truth, the Son being the only one competent, though none of course could enter in even so but by the Spirit, as we know and as is taught elsewhere. But as the Son could manifest His Father's name, so this He did in unjealous love, that the disciples, the men whom the Father gave Him out of the world, might know what He is as the Son knew Him; not, it need hardly be said, infinitely as was proper to the Only-begotten, but after that manner, as children of God, to whom the Son would impart that which was wholly outside and above man, and intrinsically of God for the family of God. For though the Lord had come to the Jews as their promised Messiah on earth, Him they would not have but had rejected, as they were just about to do even to the death of the cross. Hence, whatever may be the divine retribution another day when God makes inquisition for blood, and above all for His blood which they had blindly imprecated on themselves and their children, it became wholly a question of sovereign and heavenly grace, which, coming in the person of the Son, manifested His Father's name as no saint had ever enjoyed, no prophet so much as predicted, save perhaps in such a sort as to fall in with and confirm this most precious privilege when communicated. But even Hos. 1:10 is comparatively vague. Here all is as full as it is precise. It was the positive side of what the Lord undertook with His own here below, and its highest character: not the meeting sin and misery in grace, not even the display of excellency as the righteous One, the Servant, the Man and as such Son of God, but the manifestation of what His Father was and is as He knew Him, and as they were learning who were given to the Son by the Father out of the world. For the world is now defined and judged as alien and opposed to the Father. How blessed for the disciples to hear themselves thus singled out and designated as His!
Nor is this all. “Thine they were, and to me thou gavest them, and they have kept thy word.” It appears to me that they err who refer the Lord's description to His followers as formerly of Israel merely, and as walking in all the commandments and ordinances of Jehovah blameless. They were His elect. The Father had a purpose about them, and thus they belonged to Him, who gave them to the Son, the object of His love and effectuator of His counsels, as He is also the accomplisher of redemption, to His own glory. And as the men given out of the world are thus viewed on a divine ground outside Jewish ties, so that which formed their souls and their ways was quite distinct; they had kept, says the Son, His Father's word, made known by Himself when with them on earth hitherto. This we have, speaking generally, in the Gospels, with not a little they could not then gear in the Epistles. Everything refers to the Father: the Son, a man on earth, is always exalting Him, and in view of his own departure would endear them to Him and give them the assurance of it.
This is developed yet more in what follows. “Now have they known that all things as many as thou hast given me are of thee.” (Ver. 7.) They had entered into the secret of which the world knew nothing: the Father was the source of all that was given to the Son. Some wondered at His works and His words; others in their enmity blasphemously attributed what was beyond man to Satan. The disciples had learned that they were all of the Father, as the Son desired that they should. It was not only that He came out from the Father, nor that He had finished the work the Father had given Him to do, as their title to blessing with the Son before Him; but the means for bringing them into the blessing were also of the Father; “because the words which thou gavest me I have given to them, and they received [them], and knew truly that I came out from thee and believed that thou didst send me.” (Ver. 8.) Thus the Lord handed over to His disciples those intimate communications of grace which the Father gave to Himself. It was no longer a question of the ten words given by Moses, the measure of man's responsibility to prove his sin and ruin which he neither owned nor felt. The words which the Father gave the Son were the expression of divine grace and love according to that blessed relationship in which the Son stood, though man; and the disciples, once mere men, but now born of God, have eternal life in Him and are given these words by the Son that they might know and enjoy the new relationship which grace had conferred on them. Nor was it in vain, however slow of heart they might be in believing all. For if He had given to them the words the Father gave to Him, the disciples received the truth really, though no doubt imperfectly; and the result was that they knew truly that Christ the Son came out from the Father, and believed that the Father sent Him. This is all the reckoning of grace here, not measuring degrees, but making much of reality, as He can well do whose love gives, deepens, and secures from first to last. Even for them to know assuredly that the Son came out from the Father does not suffice His heart, for this would not necessarily prove more than His own love in so coming; but the disciples believed the further truth that the Father sent Him, the proof of His own love to them. How rich, how needful, is every word of His grace!
“I ask for them: not for the world do I ask, but for those whom thou host given me, for those whom thou hast given me, for they are thine (and all my things are thine, and all thy things mine), and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee.” (Vers. 9-11)
It is concerning the disciples He makes request, not for Israel nor the nations, not for the land nor the earth at large, but concerning those whom the Father had given Him. It is no question of taking up the world for government or blessing now: He is occupied with the joint-heirs, not with the inheritance as yet. By-and-by, as Psa. 2 lets us know, Jehovah will say, Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. But then the Son will be upon His holy hill of Zion, instead of being rejected on earth and received up on high. Then, instead of sustaining the suffering family of God who bear His reproach here below and wait for heavenly glory with Him, He will break the nations with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. It is not the interval of the gospel as now, but the day of the kingdom in power and glory. Here the Lord is praying for His own as the precious gift of the Father to Himself, while cut off and having nothing that was promised Him here below; and He asks the more, because they were the Father's. But this gives occasion for a parenthetic statement which lets out much of the light of His personal glory: And all My things are Thine, and all Thy things Mine. As the Son of David, the Messiah, could this reciprocity have been so expressed? Is it not evidently and only in virtue of His being the Eternal Son, one with the Father, that they have rights and interests no less boundless than common? After this however He returns to the saints as those in whom He was glorified as a fact, not past but abiding, urging their care on the Father, both because He sees Himself no longer with them in the world and themselves so much the more exposed in it, as He was going back to the Father. Hence arises afresh appeal.
“Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one even as [also] we. When I was with them, I was keeping them in the name which thou hast given me, and I guarded [them], and not one of them perished but the son of perdition that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now unto thee I come, and these things I speak in the world that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” (Vers. 11-13)
The Lord asks His Father, as a holy Father, to keep the disciples in His name that they might be one, even as also the Father and the Son. And this was accomplished by the power of the Holy Ghost in those very men who then stood around Him. Never before or since was such unity produced in human beings on earth. Yet the Gospels are the plainest proof that they were far from it whilst our Lord was here below with them. It was to be the fruit of His grace through redemption after He went on high and sent down the Holy Ghost to effect it. And it was essential as a practical basis for Christianity. For doctrine is not enough without reality in life, and this most of all in those who were raised up of God to lay down the foundation. Granted that they were men of like passions with ourselves or any; granted that they displayed varied and not slight infirmities even under their Master's eyes and ministry on earth; granted that they then from first to last betrayed petty prejudices and narrow hearts and no small jealousy of each other, even in presence of the deepest love and lowliness, and words and ways which made their contrasted jars (and the selfishness which gave rise to all) most humbling and painful: all this, and more, only add to the blessedness of what God wrought in these very men by His Spirit in answer to the Lord's demand. The power of the Father's name, which the Lord here below knew so well, was manifest in them, and the twelve were one, even as the Father and the Son. None would have ventured so to describe but Christ; but if He did, He is the truth; and in fact with whom or what else could their unity as witnessed in the Acts and Epistles of the apostles be compared? Never elsewhere was seen such rising above egotism in the aims, measures, objects, the life and service of men on earth; never such common devotedness to, and absorption in, the will of God for the magnifying of the risen Jesus.
The Lord then, in committing His own to the Father whom in that name He was keeping whilst here, speaks of having kept them safe, save that one who was doomed to destruction. Awful lesson! that even the constant presence of Jesus fails to win where the Spirit brings not the truth home to the conscience. Does this enfeeble scripture? On the contrary, the scripture was thereby fulfilled. Chapter xiii. referred to Jades that none should be stumbled by such an end of his ministry. Here it is rather that none should therefore doubt the Lord's care or the scripture. He was not one of those given to Christ by the Father, though called to be an apostle: of those so given He had lost none. Judas was an apparent, not a real, exception, as he was not a child of God but the son of perdition. To see the awful end of so heartless a course would only give more force to His works of grace who, if He left the world for the Father, was bringing them into His own associations before the Father. Judas may never have meant the worst, as Satan did who entered him; but he did mean at all cost to gratify his love of money, trusting that He who had heretofore baffled His enemies would be able to extricate Himself. But he trusted his own thoughts to the death of His Master, and to his own eternal ruin; as Jesus carrying out His love in obedience to His Father would bring His own by His death to glory on high and His own place there: and expressed it here that even now they might have His joy fulfilled in themselves. And now that the Lord was going to the Father He speaks these things in the world that the disciples might have His joy fulfilled in themselves. The Father would surely prove the value of His name when the Son was not here in person to watch over them; and the very ruin of Judas rightly read should make the scripture still more solemn and sure to their souls.

Paul: a Good Conscience Before God

The Holy Spirit often puts Paul forward because in him are manifested the ways of the heart, and this under grace. He displayed a patience truly admirable in caring for the church. We can sound the ways of God and of the human heart in the history that the Holy Spirit has given us of Paul. He had an immense activity and great force of character. This chapter contains circumstances which show what a good conscience before God is.
If the conscience is not good, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and some, having put it away, have even made shipwreck concerning faith. If a child has offended his father, he is no more at ease before him, and cannot open his heart.
In the history of Paul we see his conversion in verses 3-16. Then he is in a trance or ecstasy (vers. 17-21), in which the Lord commands him to depart from Jerusalem. It is for him to regulate these things. Paul in his answer says to the Lord that he is precisely the man suited to bear witness for Him in Jerusalem. I have persecuted Thee, and they know it; will they not see in me the efficacy of Thy grace? Such was the reasoning of Paul. But the Lord takes no account of it.
That which strikes one most is that Paul recalls to the Lord all his iniquity; and this, because his conscience was perfectly purged before God. It is necessary that it should be thus if one would dare to speak to God in detail of all our offenses, of all our sins. There is a false repose in the child of God when the conscience is not perfectly good and opened out before God. Paul replaces before the eyes of the Lord all the detail of his sin. He does not confine himself to saying, Thou knowest all; he puts all before God, without having the idea that anything can be imputed to him. He talks about his sins as of an affair irrevocably settled. He can even present these sins as a motive for being an apostle, for bearing testimony to Jesus in Jerusalem. Paul reasons with the Lord as a person with his intimate friend. This is what Ananias also does. (Acts 9:13-16)
When God has purified the conscience for us by His perfect grace, the interests of Jesus are ours. Jesus is no longer our judge; He has taken our sins, He, has united us to Himself, having taken our cause in hand. Instead of seeing in Jesus our judge, we see in Him a friend. Instead of being affrighted at Christ, we are full of confidence in Him, because we are assured of His love. There is in the heart a complete change.
The reasoning of Paul was true, as we see in 1 Tim. 1:15. God had prepared Paul in that he had been the greatest enemy of the Lord Jesus, and chief of sinners; because, if Paul had spoken of other things than God's righteousness by faith and man's perfect pardon, his mouth must have been closed.
Peter was prepared by denying Christ, which is even worse than being His enemy. That closed his mouth for every other thing than preaching grace. They had, the one and the other, a profound conviction of sin. If we would be strong and bear testimony to grace, we need to have the sense of the evil whence God has taken us up. If the occasion presents itself, we can speak before men of our sins, provided that all has been laid clearly before God. The Christian converts at Ephesus brought their books of magic, and confessed all their actions by the power of the Holy Spirit. If the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, we have more shame for our sins before God than before men. To have a good conscience we must keep the conscience pure. Paul exercised himself to have in everything a conscience without offense toward God and men. When we have grieved the Holy Spirit, we do not feel the love of God in the same way. A conscience defiled cannot be at its ease before God; and when God enters, there are dark corners that one hides from Him. Impossible then to have that perfect confidence in reasoning with God as with a friend. If we have beforehand the sense of our feebleness, we shall be forced to seek strength in God.
Can we with boldness and without pain recall before God all we have thought, said and done? To be unable to do so is not to be in the presence of God; to do so is to recall to God His immense grace in having pardoned us. Without Christ who would venture such things? Sin hidden corrupts the heart, hardens the conscience, and renders us blind and proud. It is of all moment for us that our conscience should be entirely emptied before God. We can afterward forget those things; we shall not be judged because of it. Be faithful in this sense-to have a pure conscience before God and men.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:4-7

IT is a right and needed thing to begin with giving no offense in anything which might occasion blame to the ministry. How often there is unguardedness of which the enemy takes advantage, not merely against the servant, but the objects of his work and above all the Master whom He serves! The apostle however would go much farther:—
“But in everything as ministers of God commending ourselves, in much patience, in affliction, in necessities, in straits, in stripes, in prisons, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, in pureness, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in kindness, in [the] Holy Ghost, in love unfeigned, in [the] word of truth, in [the] power of God.” (Vers. 4-7)
Earlier in the Epistle (chap. 3) we have seen the character of the ministry. In contrast with the ministry of death and condemnation, as set out in the law graven on stone, it is of the Spirit and of righteousness, the Spirit given and righteousness revealed to the believer in virtue of Christ's redemption. Later (chap. 5) we saw its source in the God who reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and gave to suited instruments, called and qualified by sovereign grace, the ministry of the reconciliation: how that it was God in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not reckoning to them their offenses, and having put in us the word of the reconciliation. And as all the thoughts and feelings of men fall immeasurably short of the simple but deep truth of God here made known, so does the apostolic statement of the spirit and manner of its exercise rise above all the practices and theories of Christendom, never so alien, never so low, as when it indulges in the haughtiest pride. And no wonder, for it is then most remote from Christ; and Christ here as everywhere alone gives us the truth. Under law priesthood was the characteristic, the intervention of a representative class charged with maintaining before God the interests of His people who could not draw near into His holy presence for their own wants or His blessing. Under the gospel ministry it is no less characteristic, as being the instrument of God's active love, both in reconciling His enemies as it goes out to the whole creation under heaven, and in building up the faithful who in one Spirit were baptized into one body and were all given to drink into one Spirit. Christ is the fullest expression of this love in its activity both to the world and to the saints; and those who desire the will and the glory of God have Him before their eyes as the test of all.
So we know it was with the apostle; and such is the revelation here of the spirit in which God would have His ministry exercised. He never meant it only for the pulpit, as men say, nor for set occasions, nor in a little or a larger sphere of one's own, nor as a matter of vested rights or of personal authority. Conversion did not of itself correct the tendency even in the apostles toward a direction the most opposed to Christ. “There was also a strife among them which should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth.” (Luke 22) So here the first quality set before us is “in everything as ministers of God commending ourselves;” if not as His ministers, what are we? Worse than useless. And that as a fixed purpose of the soul, not now and then, nor in specified duties only, but in everything as God's ministers commending ourselves.
It may be noticed that in this version “as God's ministers” is placed before the participle, whereas in Greek it follows. The reason is that our idiom does not admit of the order which is correct in the original because of its definite case-ending. The Authorized Version really expresses ὡς θεοῦ διακόνους which is the reading of the Clermont manuscript, and the more extraordinary, because the corresponding Latin is “sicut Di [ Del] ministri.” The Vulgate falls into the error of translating ὡς θ. διάκονοι “sicut Dei ministros.” If the same order were sought in English as in Greek, it would necessitate, I think, the addition of “should;” for there is a difference of sense attaching to the difference of construction, and the apostolic phrase expresses precisely what the context requires. Were it the accusative, διακόνους, the meaning would be commending ourselves as competent to be God's ministers, whereas with the nominative διάκοναι, as it is, the force is that in everything we in the capacity of His ministers commend ourselves, &c.
What then is the prime quality which is looked for? “In much patience” or “endurance.” So the apostle in chapter xii. 12, where he sets “all endurance,” or patience, before signs and wonders and works of power as apostolic vouchers. God Himself is called the God of patience no less than of comfort or encouragement, and this with a view to grant the saints to be like-minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus; nor is there a happier proof of moral power in His servants than such constancy in the face of suffering, opposition, trial and temptation. When impatient, one is overcome of evil instead of overcoming it with good in the lowliest form.
Then follows a threefold cord of the several ways in which endurance is put to the proof: “in afflictions, in necessities, in straits.” “Afflictions” or tribulations (θλίψεις) are cases of pressure which every saint has in the world. We are set for this, and must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God. Necessities (ἀνάγκαι) express distresses which take the shape of need or constraint, and so, as the early Greek writers noticed, indicate an advance in suffering; as straits (στενοχώριαι) point to such troubles as shut a man up without space to move or turn.
Next come specific inflictions, “in stripes, in prisons, in tumults.” As to the first of these three, the apostle further gives us the fact that from the Jews he five times had received forty stripes save one, and been scourged thrice. As to “prisons,” we know of but one, recorded minutely in Acts 16, doubtless for its momentous connection with the first planting of the gospel in Philippi; but 2 Cor. 11:23 speaks of the apostle's being “in prisons more frequent,” so that we know such shame to have been abundantly his lot. There remains “in tumults” (ἀκαταστασίαις), which some apply to the forced changes of the apostle's unsettled life, comparing 1 Cor. 4:11 with Isa. 54:11, 70. And so not moderns only, but apparently Chrysostom. Nevertheless New Testament usage does not support such a meaning, but either a “riot” in the world or “confusion” among saints; and here the context confirms the former: a shocking trial to one of well-ordered habits. But we see in the Acts how often it befell the apostle in his preachings; and doubtless very much more frequently than that history records.
Then we pass on from inflicted to voluntary trials, “in labors, in watchings, in fastings,” which are not the least witness to sustained devotedness. The language so clearly intimates one's own agency here that it might have seemed needless to say a word more. But scripture fares as no other book; and this at the hands of friends as well as foes. Dr. Bloomfield will have it that this application to voluntary sufferings is not only unfounded, but devised to afford countenance to monkish austerities; that κ may very well refer to his corporal labors at his trade, dγρ to the abridgment of rest to make up by over-hours at night for evangelizing by day; and v. to the scanty fare that must follow such a trade. But 2 Cor. 11 is the true parallel, and not merely 1 Cor. 4; and in the former we have “fasting” distinguished expressly from “hunger and thirst,” clearly as voluntary from involuntary suffering. No! the apostle's “labors, watchings, fastings,” had to do with the gospel and the church, as well as individual souls, and were quite above the circumstances of trade good or bad.
But now we turn from circumstances and sufferings to quite another class, to qualities which God looks for in His service: “in pureness, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in kindness, in love unfeigned, in [the] Holy Ghost, in [the] word of truth, in [the] power of God.” There is thus not only perseverance in the face of antagonism and enmity, but the exercise of all that is holy and wise, long-suffering and gracious, and all this, not in mere amiability but in love unfeigned, yea, in the Holy Spirit, and hence in the word of truth and in God's power, not mere human wisdom and ability, that its excellency might be of Him, and not from the man though by him.

Brief Words on 2 Corinthians 11-12

Christ's care of the church does not flow from prerogative only, but His care and tenderness are exercised over it. Christ nourishes and cherishes the church. The love we have to learn is not supremacy in love, but caring, as it were, for Himself. (Eph. v. 29) “No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ the church.”
The union of Christ with His body is the great secret of the church standing altogether. No man ever hated his own flesh. Hence we may as much reckon on His loving us under all circumstances, if we may so speak, as His loving Himself-it makes us understand the ground of the apostle's jealousy that we do nothing to grieve Christ. “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy.” Think of Eve representing the church. It was Eve going out into new thoughts, &c., that led her astray. It is not by remaining ignorant of anything that is in Christ that gives us strength, but knowing all that is in Him.
Whatever is of the Spirit, that is to be learned: the great thing is to have the Spirit so in the soul that the superstructure will be borne. There are two ways to remedy it-by a foundation of deep grace, and by not building what can be shaken.
Verse 4. Or, “if ye receive another spirit.” They had received the Spirit. Where the glory of Jesus is, and the work of Jesus, there the Spirit is received: another Jesus means another gospel. There seems a great difference between Jesus as an object and the work of Jesus; for instance, my resurrection is not Jesus, my being pardoned by the Father is not Jesus, but it is by virtue of what Jesus has done or spoken. Now the Spirit is dwelling in us. And the Spirit of God makes us know His own mind, and be patient as to results; but I do find the immense importance of “another spirit.” It is the Spirit not only that acts on the believer, but he is possessed of it. Forasmuch as we are united to Christ, the Spirit must dwell in us; for union with Christ implies that His Spirit deigns to dwell there. It involves immense responsibility that the Spirit dwells in us. In Rom. 8 it is the work of the Spirit in us all through.
John 4. It is in him there shall be a spring, not showers on him; and then it shall flow out, because the well is there. It is not only looking for refreshing, but having the Spirit dwelling in us, the well in ourselves. We see two persons decided Christians: the one having the objects of faith before his eyes, and another living on his experience; the one is little advantage to the church, in the other there is great danger to himself. It requires a mind very rightly exercised to have both these things brought out. You will see where the Spirit of God is there will be much experience. “Search me, and try me.” I am convinced that the responsibilities of religion are not enough thought of. The life of Christ was an invariable life of responsibility. In measure, as we are in grace, we shall be in constant responsibility. “I was with you in much fear.” In proportion as we are in fear, we shall be blessed in our testimony. If we were more in the Spirit, we should feel the world more against us, and this would bring us into fear. It makes religion a personal thing, Jesus who is preached.
When the children of Israel had only two cities, they listened to all the curses and blessings, they did not wait till they got to Mounts Gerizim and Ebal. It is exactly the ground we should be on, only that the curse they had we have not-Christ having taken the curse. It is an unsanctified intellect that is the ground of all heresies. “When I am weak, then I am strong,” shows such complete identity with Christ. It is said that here is a prayer not given to his importunity. No; but an answer was given: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I had rather have a buffet, and the Lord's grace. It is remarkable how a person that is spiritual judges himself-responsibility with the exercise of all love to the church. The Apostle Paul could not have gone through all these things unless he had a knowledge of paradise.
There is a positive evil in talking much of experience or thinking of self; it ought to be what is seen in us, or told of us, by others. We may occasionally glory for others' profit, but it is only some necessity in others that makes it allowable. The strength of the Christian comes from the privacy of communion with the Lord. To exercise itself with God is the thing in which the soul should be exercised; then what it has to speak of is God-His strength; but telling it for the sake of telling is breaking the intimacy of the soul with God, though there may be an unhealthful feeling of concealment in the mind.

Thoughts on Ephesians 1

Is Ephesians, although the church is put in the highest place it can be, yet the doctrine is individual, and is used for the building up of individual souls. Being a heavenly thing, the place where it is spoken of as being already is heaven—its proper place—and there only it is seen; yet it ought also to have been manifested on the earth. “He gave some apostles, and some prophets,” &c “for the edifying of the body of Christ.” That is the end, and ought to be always kept in view. Paul always speaks of the church as a body on the earth; he treats it so in Ephesians, although numerically it will only be in heaven, when complete. But the Holy Ghost is sent down to form the unity of the body down here, and this is “the mystery” of Christ and the church.
It ought to be looked at more as a body on earth. Through neglect of this, the unity of the body down here has been lost sight of; and this makes the language one hears about what is really union so unsatisfactory. I want unity-I want to see that manifested which is spoken of, “for by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body;” seeing the heavenly character of the church will lead to this, and that is the object in this Epistle. Till the glory comes, the church must be contemplated on the earth, though a portion of it is already in heaven, and, seen by faith, happy up there, “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” Those that are gone before, although their position is most desirable, and blessed, nevertheless are not in a condition in which they can glorify Christ now, because this must be down here; but they are gone, and are with Christ. They do not form a part of that body which ought to display Christ down here. When the day comes, they will be brought back, and all will be then displayed together.
The church is looked at in Ephesians in its individual character, as seated in heavenly places in Christ; and therefore the coming of the Lord is a truth not mentioned. The manifestation of its unity should be as a body on the earth. In Ephesians we get that which belongs to the whole church-the church; in 1 Thessalonians it is local. Ephesians speaks of children and the Father, not the bride of Christ, though as the bride of Christ they will also have a peculiar place in relation to the Father as children. In Hos. 1:10 I believe the Christian calling is alluded to, and that it does not apply to Israel in that day: “in the place where it was said to them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” We find another use, as quoted in 1 Peter 2, in reference to Hos. 2:23. “I will say unto them which were not my people, Thou art my people, and they shall say, Thou art my God.” But the apostle Paul, in applying it, says, “In the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called the Children of the living God.” (Ver. 26.)
The Gentiles were always “Lo-ammi,” and he says to Israel, “Lo-ammi;” so all are “Lo-ammi.” But now we get a new principle. “In the place where it was said unto them, Lo-ammi, there shall they be called the children of the living God.” And this is going on now. When Israel is restored, it is as “the people of God.”
In the third verse we get the condition and standing; in the fourth verse our present condition; in the fifth verse relationship and standing; and in the sixth and seventh, our known actual condition before God as a realized fact. He has done this that we should be something, but something before Him. It is a great thing to have the consciousness of being this in His sight. When I know God is looking at me, I am not occupied in looking at myself, but thinking that God is looking at me; and this acts upon the affections, and I know God is interested in me. So it speaks of the “good pleasure of his will.” “Adoption of children to himself,” not merely adopted us as children-He wanted something for Himself. “Chosen us in him before the foundation,” &c. It is not the eternity of the predestination that gives it its sovereignty, for it would be as much an act of sovereignty if chosen to-day; but that takes us clean out of the world. We have precedence of the world, where we are manifested. So in John 1 get life that He had with the Father before the foundation of the world, “for thou lovedst me before the foundation,” &c. Now the world is against Me, you must take Me without the world. The election was before the creation of the world. Christ was loved before it, so that the church is outside the creation of the world. The world has its creation in time. This is spoken of as before it was founded.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He speaks as man of God, as Son of the Father. Thus whenever He speaks of God, it is as a man whom God has raised from the dead, of His God and our God. He has gone up, and taken the place of the risen man, even as Son of man. In verse 17 it is, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ;” in chapter iii. 14 it is, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is His title, and in the same sense applies to us. It is taken in connection with Christ as risen and gone up. Now the Jews' place of blessing is the earth; we are blessed in heavenly places. There are a few passages in the New Testament where “Lord” means “Jehovah,” and where it means Jehovah it is simply “Lord;” but not in every instance that it is simply Lord does it mean Jehovah, but merely His name as exalted Man. Jesus means, Jehovah will save, as Joshua meant of old. “Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory that thou hast given me. The glory that thou hast given me, I have given them.” The link in the beginning of the chapter connects them. He takes this glory in display as a man, and He can therefore share it with us. The glory Thou hast given Me-not given to Him as the Son eternally with Him, but as the Man. So He speaks in John 17 as a Man, and yet as equal with the Father. “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me"-and “all mine are thine, and thine are mine"-showing He is one with the Father, and at the same time that it is a truth that as a Servant He receives everything. Yet the Father was morally indebted to Him for all this glory. “I have glorified thee on the earth.”
His Lordship is conferred upon Him as Jesus, a Man, though it means Jehovah. The conferred title is because He is Jehovah. In reading the New Testament, Christ is often taken as though it were part of His name (it is so in two or three places), and it loses much of its effect when it is so read. Jesus is the name; Christ is the title, and means Anointed. Jesus means Jehovah-Savior, and it is His glory that is spoken of in Isa. 6 “In the year that king Uzziah died,” quoted by John. (Chap. 12:41) In Hebrews also we read, “whose voice then shook the earth,” but now He has promised, saying,” Yet once more I shake,” &c., declaring it to be the same voice in Hebrews to us now that spake in thunders at Mount Sinai. Where Lord and Christ are used together, it is the risen Man. Where Jehovah is meant, it is simply Lord (not always meaning Jehovah). In Hebrews the word, “by his Son,” does not convey the meaning fully-it is, “in the Son.” Wonderful grace, to become a man and a servant for us! “Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers,” &c. “And to the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God,” &c. When He is in the highest place, and He owns Him as God, God makes Him our fellow. But when He is in the lowest place, smitten as man, God calls Him His fellow. “Awake, O sword, against the man,” &c. (Zech. 13)
In this verse 4 God has chosen to have the saints before Him. He is pleased to delight Himself in us. He can delight in His creatures, but in us He has special delight, “holy and without blame before him in love,” thus surrounding Himself with us. If we really believe the saints are loved by Christ, we do not get the measure of His love unless we love them too-” love to all saints;” then we may look to have our mind filled with all the intelligence of His glory. Here is special relationship in Him. He not only predestinated us to be holy and without blame before Him in love, but to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself; and here we get the character of sonship; He “the firstborn among many brethren.” We are put into the same position as Christ. He has taken this place before God as the Son, and He has been pleased to give us that place. It is in Christ He gives us all the grace, and before Him; and thus we take His position, “made us accepted in the Beloved.”
The whole character of God's grace is set forth in this word, “in the Beloved.” But it means more in the original than can be expressed by an English word. It is more than acceptance, including all His dealings in grace. “Dealt with us in grace” will not do, for it is more than that: He put us in the same position with Christ really, but it is, perhaps, best expressed as we have it, after all. Thus we are made partakers of all the Father's grace and love. “In whom we have redemption,” &c.-this is the introduction to all else. He has made this grace abound unto us in all wisdom and prudence, that the church should understand what He has done for it in Christ-revealed all His thoughts to it. As a part thus He has put us in grace, and has abounded over all this by giving us now the knowledge of what His pleasure is in the fullness of times. He has established something for the fullness of times, as now He tiles been, and is, preparing the joint-heirs to reign with Christ. God's plan, when everything is complete, is, that Christ shall be Head over everything in heaven and in earth. (Ver. 11) “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.” We have got redemption and the earnest of the inheritance, and are waiting for the inheritance in the fullness of times.
How much he speaks of saving grace in the beginning! “Sealed” is introduced to show the special care of God, to secure to the Gentiles, and show them they should have part, specially to the praise of His glory. We who have anticipated the time, and have taken part in the suffering, we are to be to the praise of His glory. God sealed the poor Gentiles after they believed to show them that all was sure to them also. In reading Ephesians you have to pay attention to the “us,” sometimes meaning Jews, and sometimes meaning all, as in chapter 2:7.
“You,” in chapters i., ii., means Gentiles (we were both dead together, and He raised both up together), in verse 13, “in whom ye also trusted:” when the sealing of the Holy Ghost is brought in, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. “Out of his fullness have all we received grace for grace,” heaped benefits on benefits. Sealing means God has put His seal to say, That is Mine. Jesus was sealed by the dove descending and abiding on Him at baptism. The disciples were sealed with cloven tongues of fire. They were to go forth to all nations, and they needed the tongues to set right the confusion of Babel. But of Jesus it was written, “His voice shall not be heard in the streets.” He was not to raise His own voice. Tongues are signs and gifts too. The gifts of the Holy Ghost are not to be confounded with the Holy Ghost Himself. The use of the tongues, though they were the gifts of the Holy Ghost, might grieve the Spirit whereby they were sealed, who exercised the gifts to the day of redemption.
A good man full of the Holy Ghost, like Stephen, can act according to-God in the outward circumstances, instead of being acted on by them. “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit. We have to watch ourselves, if God gives a certain energy of service, that the moral state of our soul keeps on a level with it; otherwise one may go on and on, and when there is much power of service, without the inward communion, he is suddenly spent, and breaks down. Take Elias, &c. After praying to God in the presence of all the priests of Baal and the people, and God answering by fire, he slays them all, so that not one priest escapes, and the name of the Lord is proclaimed. “The Lord be is God.” Yet Jezebel does but threaten, and Elias runs away, and hides himself from the face of a woman. God says, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” It is a great thing to have our souls at the level of our service, or we shall get trouble somehow. The apostle asks, “Do all speak with tongues?” They were special signs-not of universal gift or conferring. The consequence of Christ's ascension, the Holy Ghost is received in a new way. He seals us in virtue of Christ's redemption, but He sealed Christ as being Himself perfect in His personal excellence as Son. The oil is upon the blood in us. We must receive the redemption of the Son before we can be anointed with the oil. Aaron was first anointed without the blood.
The powers of the world to come are spoken of in connection with tongues and miracles. Like Abraham, we have left our Father's house and kindred-come into the inheritance too, but yet we have got nothing. He had got into a Canaan, but had not so much as to set his foot on. There is not a single thing I shall get in heaven, except the glorified body, which I cannot by faith say I have got now. Eternal life, entrance into the holiest, Christ's righteousness, the Holy Ghost, as the power of enjoyment. The distinct realization of this gives us to see what a thin veil there is between us and heaven-only the body. The first-fruits of the Spirit is spoken of in reference to the pouring out of the Spirit in the latter day. So it is said, the “former and the latter rain.” We are the first-fruits of the Spirit now. We are called to know what is the hope of “his calling"-not your calling-and what the riches of God's inheritance, for all things He inherits in His saints. The apostle wants us to see not only the things to which we are brought, but the power that has brought us there: “and what is the exceeding greatness of his power,” &c.
What a thought! if we get the truth of God by the Holy Ghost into our minds, how all the world's vanities fall before us!

The Seal and the Earnest of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit has not only sealed us, but is the earnest of our inheritance. He is the source of our strength, and of our communion. This chapter shows us, first, what we possess already as redeemed; secondly, the hope of the glory; thirdly, the Holy Spirit given us here below in the absence of Christ as the pledge of our inheritance whilst waiting for the redemption of all things. The Holy Spirit is given to those who already believed. From the time of the apostle this was by the extraordinary gifts or signs. The fact of the presence of the Comforter is today too much misunderstood and forgotten. In fact we do not see the children of God relying on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to direct them. It is not the subject of our habitual thoughts. It is thus that in fact we do not consider Satan as governing the world and being its prince. If Satan governs the world, the Holy Spirit was to guide the church. The word never speaks of the influence of the Spirit, as a person, as God. He acts.
The Spirit communicates to us life. This however is distinct from the presence of the Spirit who ought to guide us, and the church too. No more are the gifts (χαρόσματα) His presence. There may be in fact those who had the power of working miracles whom Jesus will deny that He knew. The Holy Spirit should act in us and be the link between Jesus and us. The Lord said that when He went away He would send an Advocate or Comforter who should abide forever with His own. Jesus having accomplished all is seated on the right hand of God. The Spirit was to be sent not to the world, but to the disciples only. He is the immediate agent of God in our hearts, as in the creation of God. (Gen. 1:2) He produces life in us. (John 3:5) We receive the Spirit for communion and worship. (John 4) But it is not only a fountain of living water springing up; it is also as rivers flowing out of us. (John 7) The gifts must be distinguished from the Spirit in person, even His presence. Balsam prophesied of old (as there might be a like gift now); nevertheless he was a wicked man. Judas wrought miracles without being converted. Saul prophesied; yet he fell under the judgment of God. Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit is God, He acts as God in His sovereignty, without regard to the state of the heart. In the church He distributes the gift as He will, but this is not the Spirit as Comforter or Advocate. The life which the Spirit has communicated to us is the principle of all good; but the Holy Spirit acts on this life to make it grow and produce all its effects. It is thus that He becomes the pledge of all that belongs to us.
All that the child of God does ought to proceed from the Spirit. It is by the efficacy of the Holy Spirit that we are begotten of God. He convinces us of sin and troubles us for a moment by the sight of our evil and weakness. One is still a little child which then begins to catch a glimpse of the difficulties of the career. We arrive thus at the sense of an entire powerlessness which has for object to bring us into the sense of a direct responsibility to God that flows from grace and is not under law. One can listen to the gospel with grace without entering into the sense of this responsibility. One can enjoy the effects of the gospel without enjoying communion with God which puts us in responsibility as regards Him. When the Spirit acts in producing life, He gives rise to the sense of this responsibility; afterward He sets us free and produces joy. (Gal. 4:6.) At the beginning of the work in our souls the Spirit communicates life; but when one is a child, one receives the Holy Spirit as a spirit of adoption and cries, Abba Father. (2 Cor. 1:20-22.) John 7:37 shows the Spirit is given to the believer. In believing they have life eternal; the Holy Spirit becomes the power of this life. First, the believers are saved; the righteousness of God is applied to them; secondly, their position before God is not to be servants, but to be sons of God. (Gal. 4) We are the sons of His house. The Holy Spirit is the seal of our salvation, and spring of emancipation. (Rom. 8:15.) This gift is the consequence of the accomplishment of the salvation; He could not be given before the accomplishment of this salvation, before that Jesus was glorified. he was formerly the Spirit of prophecy; whilst He is now necessarily for believers the seal of what is accomplished, the seal of their salvation. In our hearts He bears witness to the thoughts of God. He cannot be in us a spirit of fear. He does not put us under law. He reveals to us the thoughts of God; and these thoughts are that God considers us not as servants, but as sons. The word we, us, is found since Pentecost in speaking of the church. Christ loveth us; He washed us; He made us kings and priests. God raised us up together with Him. It is no more a Spirit of prophecy who makes him that speaks a stranger to the events predicted. He is a Spirit of accomplishment, of communion, the source of my adoption, of my salvation, of my glory. It is not humility that says, I do not know if I have the Holy Spirit. The testimony of the Spirit cannot be doubtful; it is the knowledge alone of Christ that sets us free: the Holy Spirit is the pledge of all that.
One may be joyful without being converted. But the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of liberty, of joy, of power. The fruits manifest themselves and make us see if this joy is true or false. There is always in the heart of him who is converted, spite of his joy, a conscience quickened by the introduction into the presence of God. The joy of Christ was to do the will of God. If we do it not, we are sorrowful. Privileges always make us more responsible before God; our conscience is so much the more jealous as it is nearer God. The child of God hates sin and not the consequences of sin. He does not hate it to escape hell, but in love to his Father. The child of God is grateful for his pardon, and rejoiced to do the will of his Father. He who would rejoice at being pardoned and would not fear to sin, who would not hate sin if with sin he were permitted to enter heaven, that man could not be a child of God. The joy of him who is not converted is not a joy in the presence and the communion of God Himself; it is excited by the presence of the children of God or by a good preaching: A delicate conscience, joyful in the presence of God, more joyful than out of that presence, cannot be found, save with a true child of God. He feels himself ill at ease in the world, he can find himself altogether free in the presence of God. The effect of a false joy is to harden the conscience. Such is that which distinguishes the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the child of God who is delivered.
Another characteristic of the Holy Spirit is the knowledge and intelligence of the things of God. The unction of the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of understanding which makes all things known. (1 John 2) it is the anointing from the Holy One, it is not said from the wise one. If we are guilty of sin and grieve the Spirit, we cannot have this knowledge in large measure. It is in full power with God that we understand and know the thoughts of God. In a friend we know intimately his thoughts. If one is habituated to see in Christ the counsels, the thoughts, the promises of God, one comprehends His mind. This does not reveal itself to him who does not live in fellowship with God. These things are hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed to the babes. When we feel ourselves little, we feel the power of the riches of God. Sin obscures to us the word of God, but the unction from the Holy One makes us know all. The Holy Spirit in revealing to us the accomplishment of salvation is the seal of our adoption. He is a Spirit of joy, of deliverance, and of liberty.
He is a Spirit of power. (2 Tim. 1.) The new man is not power. The Holy Spirit strengthens those who have life. He communicates to us the things of Christ with the sense that they are ours—what distinguishes it from the Spirit of prophecy. If I pass through this defiled world, the heart turned toward God, the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of power, because He pre-occupies us with Christ, with heaven, with God, and He makes us enjoy Christ's things as ours. He gives us in full power with God the assurance that God is for us. The eye is single, the body full of light; we are on God's side in the world. If all that is true, the church of God bears testimony by its state that it has grieved, and that we have grieved, the Spirit of God. It is feeble, deprived of knowledge, certainty, and power. It is not distinguished in the world's eyes by the effects of full power with God. It is a humiliating state. Let us content ourselves with little things; retrace the way; humble ourselves before God, pray for one another, and intercede for the church.

Testimony for Christ: Part 1

Preaching is a testimony for Christ; but the more practical thing here referred to is different. There is a testimony which God secures, as in Ephesians “Unto angels, and principalities, and powers,” &c. Now the very existence of the church is this testimony in heavenly places. Whenever God acts, He necessarily testifies to Himself; but the church is that which comes in between the earthly dispensations, and set for a peculiar testimony, and the only right testimony we can bear must flow from knowing what Christ is in connection with us. If I acted as a righteous Jew, it would be no testimony to Christ as Head of the church. All other testimony would be idle, useless, and false. To the Jew it is said, This people have I formed for My praise. This only could be as they knew what God had done for them. So the Christian can only glorify Christ by this new kind of witness, which the church is made to be. Now that the Messiah is lifted up, it brings in altogether a new kind of witness. The witness down here is according to the place God has given it in Christ, bringing down into details before men the great principles in which we stand before God. As He said, “I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world.”
Another testimony is, that Christ has glorified the Father, and the testimony is to Christ not merely the scriptures, but a testimony according to scripture. We have it not in an apostolic manner, but He has committed unto us the word of reconciliation. This is the third species of testimony. Here we have the meaning and use of the word spoken, not merely the truth, but the testimony given to Christ. Another is, “The words which thou gavest me, I have given them.” Thus the church is the depositary of all that the Father gave to the Son. The Son, as a Prophet, gave them to the church, thus giving the church delight by association all that communion which was between the Father and the Son. “Now they have known all things.” Thus we see the church is brought into an intimacy with the counsels that existed before the world was, and out of which the whole creation came forth, though not as the greatest work, for the church is to show out His glory in a greater measure than all the creation besides. Jesus says, “I have given them the glory which thou hast given me.” This glory, into which the Son went back, was that glory which He had with the Father before the world was; its source, God Himself, before all creation.
Supposing the saint had apprehended this association with Christ, the practical results would be such as the question implies—announcement of the word. An ambassador cannot be one in his own country. The word is a present deposit given to the church— “I have given them thy word” —a commission before the world; the words given by Christ are another thing.
The salt of the earth—mark “of the earth,” but light of the world. The earth is that which may be in relationship with God, and have light and darkness all around it, and then there was to be the distinctive principle of preservation. There was the exclusive power of grace, not merely security. Light was a character of diffusive grace, and not distinctive grace—light of the world, where all is darkness. Whenever there is the profession of the name of Christ, there ought to be the distinctive manifestation of grace. Every sacrifice shall be salted with fire—all shall be brought under divine judgment. Light of the world, in a certain sense, is a happier thing; “God is light,” and He is so called in the first manifestation to the Gentiles. Law was not light, it descended through men, and did not show what God was. There are three things in it: first, loving God and one's neighbor; secondly, prohibition of what one ought not to do; thirdly, ceremonies. We cannot speak of the second Man as light only, because He was the Life. Then, having communicated this to His disciples, it could be said, “Now ye are light.” The manifestation of what God is to man when in darkness.
The salt seems to be that which the saint essentially is from his heavenly nature. Fruit, in John 15, is something more than individual fruitfulness. The fruit that Christ bore is the living church of God. So much as the living power of Christ is in the church it would remain, and all thus gathered was living fruit to God. Christ was constantly occupied in putting the disciples in the same place as Himself; not only in individual grace, but in all the results of that grace.
As to the writing of the letter (2 Corinthians 3) the force of this seems not so much individual, but the assemblies of believers are specially the epistles. The church is the epistle of Christ, because the church is looked on as entrusted in everything by Christ (I speak not now of the church's failure). Ye are His epistle, a testimony of reconciliation. If there had been any doubt of Paul's testimony, the saints in every place who had been converted through him would be the epistle commendatory—the letter commending his ministry, recommending Christ as written in them, and that wherein the world is to read the character of Christ. The assemblies of the saints should be that which gives Christ's character to the world, and the fact is, Christ is so judged of by the world. Humbling as this is, infidels judge of Christ by what they see, though the Spirit of God, doubtless, works in sovereignty beyond this testimony. The only source of power in the church is the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, the ministration of the Spirit in contrast to the law—the present manifestation of God to the world. It shows what God is in grace, which a righteous law could not do. In the church Christ has commended His life, that it may become a living epistle, and the thing we have to inquire of ourselves is, Can men learn from us what Christ is? I speak of great principles, and if the church be not a living epistle for Christ, it is nothing and good for nothing—Christ revealed by the Holy Ghost, Christ in heaven. “We all beholding as in a glass,” &c. Another person cannot behold for me. I am to be changed into the same image by beholding Him.
Another may tell me of Him, and I may thus be brought to look on Him.
I cannot be changed by looking at ordinances. The practical part, peace and joy, go together; and if I am changed into the image of Christ, I am seen as the epistle, the expression, of the heavenly Man down on earth—the One in the glory who has put away my sin; and I can stand by and look at the glory, the Holy Ghost a witness to me of it. As in Stephen, Jesus was reflected on earth, for there was not a principle in his whole conduct which was not drawn from heaven. He might compassionate the multitude, but the compassion flowed from knowing the infinite care of the Good Shepherd. Morally we should be like what Stephen was actually. The church reflects the glory sent down from heaven, as connected with it. Walking with God implies, to my mind, communion. I can converse with the man I walk with. Walking before God involves more particularly responsibility to set the Lord before us as pleasing Him. We can never have privilege without responsibility.
But I suppose that being “in God the Father” refers to our place. Whatever we know of God we learn by fellowship with Him. He that loves is born of God, and knows God. He must have His nature, which is love, to know Him who is love; as I must have the nature of a man to understand the things of a man. The Jews were not “in God the Father,” for the relationship had not been revealed to them. The church has its relationship to Christ, as well as affiliation to God. Looking to the conduct of the church, there is Lordship as well as perfection of the divine nature.
As to the distinction in the heavenly things, shown us in Hebrews, Colossians, and John, the expression, “heavenly calling,” is common with us, and a great deal has, I suppose, been mixed up with this. In the Hebrews, where the phrase is used, the Holy Ghost never rises to the highest glory of the church; it contrasts the Lord with Moses, showing that we have got a ground of confidence to go into the holiest place; but the set of thoughts is about God, and not about the Father. In Heb. 12, where the Father is mentioned, it is not as to privilege, but in the exercise of chastening.
There are two things for a Christian to look at in Christ: as a priest in the holiest, I can go through His blood, and in my failure can use His advocacy. But there is another thing which I learn—what I am as a child of God. It is a different thing, when I know that the Father loves me, from knowing that He hears, because I have an Advocate. Both are of the last importance for us to know, and a most blessed place there with the saint. The subject of the Epistle is requiring blood before a sinner can come—Christ between me and God. My union with Christ is another aspect. This does not separate me from the One Christ as Mediator, Advocate. In one sense I look on Christ as one with Him above, and in another His relation to me here below, Christ coming down in all the relations in which I need His grace and tenderness. Writing to the Hebrews, the subject of Mediatorship. The heavenly calling comes in as association with Christ as Mediator. The heavenly culling comes in because I learn my failure by what Christ is set up in heaven for me, and it is not the same thing as when Christ says, I go to my Father and yours.
The heavenly calling may be regarded as morally in contrast with earthly things, or I may look at it (though perhaps the phrase is not so used,) but I may think of my heavenly calling) as connected with my union with Christ.
Colossians teaches this union. All other mediation denies the union of the church with Christ. Whenever I put anything between me and Christ—men or angels, or ordinances—I deny the very existence of the church in union with Christ. Whenever we get back into ordinances, we get back into nature; it may be an amiable nature, but it is nature. The principle of the church is, “I am one with Christ.” The difference between Ephesians and Colossians is, that the Ephesians had not then failed in declining from the first love. The failure of holding the Head is supposed in Colossians, the privilege of the church in Ephesians. The Colossians had forgotten their Head, and Paul was obliged to speak of it; so that in Ephesians we get really more of heavenly relationship, not the approach to God as in Hebrews, but union with Christ above, the Head and the body, sitting not with, but in, Christ. This carries us up higher; all the affections of God thus rest upon the church. It is important not to confound the phrase, “heavenly calling,” with the sitting of the saints in Christ. What do I find the practical consequence in Hebrews? It is the earthly path of faith, by virtue of the blood shedding of Christ. The practical part in Ephesians flows from God dwelling in the church—not merely, Ye must walk by faith, but, Be ye imitators of God. In Ephesians the commonest things are spoken of as based upon our union with Christ, even to avoiding deceit, &c. He looks upon the church as one body; “Because ye are members one of another.”
The heavenly calling in John's Epistle is the character of God's family. The whole Epistle draws down various principles from the family being partakers of the divine nature. They love, they keep His commandments, &c. From this the disciples ought to have seen that the Father was in Christ, and Christ was in Him. (John 14:14-20.) He afterward promises them the Holy Ghost, and then they shall know that Christ was in the Father, because they have the Holy Ghost, and thus are cognizant of their union with Jesus Christ, and know the Son to be one with the Father, and myself to be in Him. This is unfolded to us in the Epistle of John. The saint knows this in this world. All that is of the world is not of the Father. Why, the church is in the world! Yes, but God sees the church as a heavenly thing, and so shall I see it, if I love the church as I ought to love it. It is a fact: there is no such thing but being in Christ, or quite out of Him; either we are living in nature, or taking our standing in Christ. Christ lives in me now. If I am risen with Christ, I can come down, and judge all the circumstances of my life on earth; my place, if risen with Christ, is to seek those things that are above. Resurrection is shown out below, by being dead with Him to the rudiments of the world—not only to sin, but to the religiousness of human nature. The Jew was called to righteousness, and God cultivated it, but it brought not forth fruit, it produced wild grapes. Now men strive to cultivate the religiousness of human nature, and so introduce themselves into heaven by some other way than death.
Christ has taken His place where death and resurrection have placed Him, and there I am where Christ is. Supposing the saint to be united to the Head, it has its own world and sphere of affections. God does not look at the church in the world at all. “All that is in the world is not of the Father.” The new nature can be set on nothing down here. The church has no standing on earth, it is clearly in Christ before God. The things above are not merely a general tendency, but a positive line, brought down between earth and heaven. “Christ liveth in me.” Christ has gone up as a heavenly One, and there is our sphere of affections. Christ has taken our hearts, where death and resurrection have placed them. If Christ communicates this life to me, He gives this principle—that we are dead already. Resurrection life is manifestly walking through this world, without being actuated by the motives of this world. A Christian has new motives. Do you think that Christ in you would be seeking riches, or using power? Perplexity comes in by having some motives which are not drawn from heaven. There is always a tendency to decline from this singleness of eye. When we first receive this knowledge of life in Christ, we are absorbed in Him; but when decline comes in, we get old motives, and return. People say, What harm is there in this? No harm in the thing, but the thought about it shows that you are not absorbed in heavenly things. When the sense of grace is diminished, we decline in practice. Our motives must be in God. Some little thing begins to act, and then motives begin to act, and re-commencing of certain things that engage the attention, and the first love is left. Efforts are made to press conduct and practice, because full grace was preached before, it being felt. The conscience, if active, condemns things, or sometimes it is dead, and then what was approved before is considered legal. We may fall into two faults—preaching fruits, or getting at ease. We shall not get back by dwelling on the details, but it is a terrible thing to tamper with God, and we must rise up into the knowledge of resurrection in Christ to remedy the details.
The effect of walking in Christ is, I am sure, always to walk with reverence. The soul will not only be happy in God, but will bring the tone of that house with him, and the sense of his joy in God, and the ten thousand anxieties which trouble others will disappear. No matter what the trouble is, we bring quietness of spirit into all circumstances while abiding in God. One will carry it about with him, the evidence of being risen with Christ—quietness. I have my portion elsewhere, and I go on. This connects itself with the fellowship of the Father and the Son—not only joy, but the thought of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost in us. The third person of the blessed Trinity is our power of entering with the affections into all these things of God. “The Father loveth the Son.” What a place this puts me into, to be so cognizant of the Father's feelings towards His beloved Son! I see the Son as Head of creation, &c., and we are enabled by the Holy Ghost to enter into the counsels of Him who made it. When thus our souls are taken out of the world, and into our place with Christ, we get our association with His counsels, &c.
The new thing, connected with Christ before the world was, makes this world looked as a bit not to be regarded. In our proper place we get our minds filled and associated with things that leave this world as a small thing, a little mite, in the vastness of that glory which was before the world was. How we are led by the Spirit is a practical question. Providential circumstances are not the guide of the Holy Ghost, though God is present everywhere, but the Holy Ghost is in the church. A spiritual man requires no spiritual actings of the Holy Ghost, because he has the mind of Christ, leading by the plainest motives possible all drawn from His own word. It is the Shepherd leading when the Holy Ghost has given us such a knowledge of God, that we walk in the liberty of communion with His thoughts and purposes. The Holy Ghost may lead, as He did Paul, “Go not to Bithynia,” or now by the plain revelation of the word.

Women's Work

The part that women take in all Christ's history is very instructive, especially to them. The activity of public service, that which may be called “work,” belongs naturally to men (all that appertains to what is generally termed ministry), although women share a very precious activity in private. But there is another side of Christian life which is particularly theirs, and that is personal and loving devotedness to Christ. It is a woman, who anointed the Lord while the disciples murmured; women, who were at the cross, when all except John had forsaken Him; women, who came to the sepulcher, and who were sent to announce the truth to the apostles who had gone after all to their own home; as women before ministered to the Lord's need. And indeed this goes farther. Devotedness in service is perhaps the part of man; but the instinct of affection, that which enters more intimately into Christ's position, and is thus more immediately in connection with His sentiments, in closer communion with the sufferings of His heart—this is the part of woman: assuredly a happy part. The activity of service for Christ puts man a little out of this position, at least if the Christian is not watchful. Everything has, however, its place. I speak of that which is characteristic; for there are women who have served much, and men who have felt much. Note also here, what I believe I have remarked, that this clinging of heart to Jesus is the position where the communications of true knowledge are received. The first full gospel is announced to the poor woman that was a sinner who washed His feet, the embalming for His death to Mary, our highest position to Mary Magdalene, as the communion Peter desired was to John who leaned in His bosom. And here the women have a large share.

Scripture Queries and Answers: 2 Corinthians 5:19

Q. 2 Cor. 5:19. What would have happened if men had received the Christ of God? We see Him forgiving governmentally, as in Matt. 9 R.
A. The blessed Savior was “reconciling,” acting toward this gracious end, during His life. “God was in Christ,” &c. He was rejected. God knew that redemption by His blood was necessary to reconcile; so that in reality He was made sin in order to put the ministry of reconciliation in the apostles. And when it is said, “God was in Christ reconciling,” it is a question, not of the basis necessary for giving effect (which is the thing treated in the verse but one following, 21), but of the ways of God with regard to man by Christ during His life. If Christ had been received, the result would have proved that the evil was reparable. Now we know that the truth is quite otherwise. But God presented the thing to the responsibility of man before manifesting this moral impossibility. Though He called to it, He was calling them according to the knowledge He had Himself of that which He was going to-do. “What shall I do? I will send my beloved Son. It may be they will reverence him, when they see him.” There, is what was presented to man. The object of faith is the person of Christ. Believing in Him one enjoyed the efficacy of His death, during His life true to Him in ignorance, later on with intelligence.
There is a governmental pardon, which could not be save in virtue of expiation, it is true, but which is notwithstanding another thing. Besides, the pardon accorded in detail in view of the offering of Christ was according fully during His life here below in view of the ways of God in grace. The effect was shown, the case occurring, by a healing as proof. But grace at all times has its application in view of the work of Christ. (See Rom. 3:25, 26)

The Mount of God: Part 1

I SEPARATE these chapters because they present us, I judge, a distinct subject for meditation, and afford us some of the grounds on which it is that Horeb, or Sinai, in Arabia, is called in scripture “the Mount of God.”
They open with Israel in Egypt, and that land is seen in her guilt before God, for it is here written of her, “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” That land was thus the ungrateful, the rebellious. She had departed from Joseph, and so from God Himself, from Him who had filled her storehouses with plenty, and her throne with honor and strength. Thus Egypt was in miniature the world—the great apostate from its rightful Lord and gracious Benefactor. And the Lord had no sanctuary, no altar, there. His people would have sacrificed the abomination of that land (chap. 8:26), and therefore they must go into the wilderness to hold their feast, or do their service to the Lord. All was apostate and ripe for judgment. Joseph's memory had been despised, and all that remained to Joseph was put to the brick-kilns. (Chap. 1)
But in such a place the Lord has a cluster, and in the cluster a blessing. The cluster of Israel in the vineyard of Egypt at this time savored, it is true, too much of the soil where it grew; for as the one had forgotten Joseph, so does the other now refuse Moses, saying, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” But God has His remnant even in such a generation, his blessing in such a cluster (Isa. 65:8), and it is found in the tribe of Levi, to which this second Joseph (the offered, but rejected, deliverer of his nation) belonged. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child, and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.”
But the name of this child, this predestined deliverer of His people, has its meaning. Pharaoh's daughter, as we know, called him “Moses,” because she had “drawn him out” from the waters. But God had His purpose, it appears, in that name also, for it is from henceforth to the end owned by the Spirit of God. He was another Noah. Noah had been “drawn out.” An ark had kept him in the waters till the dry land again received him; and that was, as we are divinely taught, a like figure with baptism of death and resurrection. (1 Peter 3:20, 21.) And so Moses now. He had been kept in an ark through the waters, that place of death, till he stood again in the place of life, as one that had died and has risen. (Chap. ii.)
Thus was he mystically the dead and risen man; and he acts, “when he was come to years,” in the power of resurrection, refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, rather choosing affliction with the people of God; that is, disclaiming his advantages in the flesh and in the world, and walking by faith, seeing Him who is invisible, and having respect unto the recompence of the reward.
Such an one is he, thus, both in his person and character, ere he goes forth to run his appointed service, whether among strangers or in Israel. Through their present unbelief, rejecting this deliverer, the children of Israel are left for a time longer at the Egyptian brick-kilns. But he whom they thrust from them is accepted in another place, and seated, not at the head of a nation, but of a family, enjoying intimacies and affections sweeter and closer than ever he had known among his own kindred. A stranger receives him. Jethro, the Midianite, opens his house to him, and gives him his daughter in marriage, because he had been her deliverer, though, in spite of the same grace towards them, Israel had just refused him.
This family of strangers is mystically the church taken from the Gentiles during the Lord's estrangement from Israel, as has been often observed among us, beloved. I do not therefore stop to look at it particularly. But (as we generally know) the blessing is not to be spent on this family of strangers. Israel is had in remembrance still, though they have once refused the deliverer. Accordingly Moses, in due season, is called forth to change the scene of his action again, and bear God's redeeming love and strength back to Israel in Egypt. For He is their only hope and channel of blessing. If in their distress Israel cry to the Lord, the answer must come by the hand of Him whom once they refused. The Lord has no other help for them. From the outcast Joseph alone is the Shepherd and stone of Israel. But He can and will answer. The ears of the Lord of Sabaoth have heard the cry, and Moses is immediately put in readiness to return from Midian into Egypt for the help of Israel.
The burning bush is now the symbol of God's constant care of Israel, though in the furnace of Egypt. It tells Moses how in all their affliction the Lord had been afflicted, and how the angel of His presence had still preserved them. And it is in connection with this mystic bush that Horeb is first called “the Mount of God.” For now it is that the Lord is first telling of Himself there. He “who dwelt in the bush” had a “good-will” towards them, for if the Son of God be in the furnace with His people, it is to preserve them. And this same spot which now thus testified of grace should by-and-by testify of glory to them, as is here said to Moses, “When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God on this mountain.” (Chaps. 3, 4)
Thus was it now between the Lord and Moses at this holy mount. Then by miracle upon miracle, in the sight of Egypt, and with plague upon plague, and fury poured out, this deliverer rescues Israel from under the hand of their taskmasters. It was the day of judgment to Egypt, as afterward it was to Canaan. For Egypt was the world, as I have said. She had filled up her sins. She had despised the day of grace in Joseph, and now comes the day of judgment by Moses. It is as the wrath of the Lamb coming on those who refuse the blood of the Lamb. Pharaoh said he knew not the Lord, but Pharaoh must know Him. (Chap. 5:2; 9:14) If Pharaoh would disown Him in goodness, he must know Him in righteousness, for His judgments were now to be made manifest, and “the Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth.” As His holy prophet says to Him, “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” God would be known in grace; but if that lesson be refused by Egypt, she must know Him in the uplifted hand of power, as she now does, till the strength and flower of her people lie on the banks of the Red Sea. (Chaps. 5-15)
But I desire, in the midst of these scenes which these chapters give us, to look for awhile at the children of Israel between the paschal night and the banks of the Red Sea.
The blood on the lintels had secured the first-born, and the Egyptian had then allowed Israel to pass out of the land. But the Egyptian himself was not yet destroyed, neither was Israel clearly beyond the borders of the enemy. These results waited till the Red Sea was reached and crossed. And till then they are not at ease, nor have they any song. The Egyptian has gone out after them, and they judge, as it were, that it is nothing but death before and behind. They see the cloud, and they cannot but remember the shelter of the blood, and that they have, in some sense, left Egypt. But in some sense also they judge themselves to be in a worse state than ever. And such often is a stage in the history of a converted soul. There is the quickening, the rising up as out of Egypt, the sudden new direction which the soul takes, with some sense of the value of the blood of Christ. But withal, this quickening, this rising up, does but lead the soul to judge worse of its condition than ever. A new sense of death comes in, guilt by trespasses and sins is apprehended, and no adequate assurance of the completeness of redemption. There is a shutting in between Jesus and God, if I may so speak. The soul can look to Jesus-His blood on the doorpost has told of His love, but God has not been so apprehended as to give certainty and ease of heart. All the virtue of the cross is not known, as all the virtue of the cloud and the rod is not known by Israel here. For the cloud had virtue not only to lead the redeemed, but to overthrow their pursuers. It could change its ground, and stand between the two camps, and while it was light to the one, be darkness to the other; as its companion, the rod, could make a passage for the one, and bury the other in the mighty waters.
And so in like manner has the cross its full and double virtue. It rescues the sinner and silences all his accusers. But until those virtues be understood, the soul will be kept as in the interval from the passover to the Red Sea. Let, however, the cloud and the rod fully display themselves-let the cross of Christ publish all its virtue in the ear of faith, then Israel can sing their song, and the believer can say, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” God as well as Jesus can then be triumphed in, the whole character of the cross being made known to the soul. The enmities are seen to be all abolished (Eph. 2)-the law to have found its end (Rom. 10)-sin to have paid its wages, and thereupon discharged (Rom. 6)-the great enemy to have been led a captive with all his powers (Colossians death to have been abolished (2 Tim. 1)-and the flesh to have been found out, rebuked, and discharged also. (Rom. 7; 8) And as the enemy is thus seen dead on the shore, so the believer sees himself fully rescued—accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1)-happy in the adoption and love of God (Rom. 8)-treated as in the Spirit, and not in the flesh (Rom. 8)-safe in that hand out of which none can pluck (John 10)-dwelling in that love which leaves no room for fear. (1 John 4) Israel has passed the waters.
Thus is it ofttimes still with the soul, as here it is with Israel. Of course the full victory of Jesus for the sinner may be understood at once, for the gospel publishes it without reserve. But till it be, the song is not learned, the redeemed one is on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea.
But the sea once crossed, Israel understands the cloud and the rod, and Egypt and its enmity are gone forever. Ere; however, they reach “the Mount of God,” where they were to hold their feast, they are to learn the hand that would lead them, as well as the arm that had just saved them. For there is to be a journey from the sea to the mount, as there had been from Egypt to the sea; and on this second journey we would also linger with them a little space. (Chaps. xv.-xvii.)
Five distinct lessons are taught the people on this journey, the value of each of which the soul of the saint, still also enters into. The song has already instructed them in the Lord's victory, and that song should be kept alive in their hearts all through, whatever other lesson they might learn, for that was a deathless victory, and the fruit of it they were gathering every step of their way. But after it we get the healing of Marah, the wells and palm-trees of Elim, the manna, the water from the rock, the discomfiture of Amalek. These five distinct actions, displaying the Lord's varied grace and power, pass before us in this interval from the Red Sea to “the Mount of God.” And each of them tolls us of His care for His congregation in the wilderness. The healing of the waters of Marah by the tree tells us of the consolations which are provided to meet the sorrows of this evil world. Paul gathered of that tree, when he could say, “sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing.” The wells and palm-trees tell us of the occasional refreshings which the saint gets through communion and ministry. The camp passed them, and saw them no more, after taking, as it were, one repast of them. So the apostle could sit down at them for awhile, when comforted by the mutual faith of himself and others. The manna, in its turn, tells us of blessing also. It speaks of Jesus, the bread of life. Unlike the provision of Elim, it remained. It waited, morning and evening, for forty years on the camp, and fed them till they reached the land of corn and oil-as the true bread which the Father gives can feed us, let the plane of the desert be what or where it may. The water from the rock tells us in due order of the Holy Ghost, the abiding Comforter. Unlike the wells of Elim also, this water follows through all the way, as the Giver of the true water says, “that he may abide with you forever.” And, lastly, the overthrow of Amalek tells of the strength of the right hand of the Lord over that which would dare to withstand the way of that ransomed people over whom the Lord of the glory was hovering.
Thus they learn the sufficiency of God's grace and strength for all their necessity. He has the bread and the water for them, the healing tree, and the palms of Elim, though the place be desert and dry, and victory for them when the enemy appears.
And here let me say that the Lord acquires His holy honors by all those acts and mercies which He accomplishes for His poor people. Thus His memorials are engraved on our blessings. Wonderful grace and perfection of goodness this is, that God should be celebrated by and in that which blesses us He got the title of “Jehovah-jireh,” because He graciously provided a ram in the place of Isaac; He was celebrated as” a man of war,” because He got the victory for His people in the Red Sea; He was “Jehovah-rophi,” because He healed the bitter waters for the camp; He was “Jehovah-nissi,” because He was their banner against the face of Amalek. And so I might show still further. But this is enough to tell us how the Lord makes Himself a name, as Jeremiah says (Jer. 32:20), by His doing for us, and acquires (such is His grace) His own praise and honor by that which secures His people their blessing. The victory of Christ was over our enemies. If we believe His victory, we must believe our own salvation. To question our blessing is to refuse Him His praise. And it is a blessed economy of goodness that thus weaves the two inseparably together.
But the last of these lessons has large instruction in it, and I would look at it a little more particularly. Amalek was the grandson of Esau, and Esau, as we know, was the profane one-the man of the world. And Amalek appears before us in this place as one in that long line of willful ones who run their course across the face of the earth, “mighty hunters before the Lord,” or defiers and rivals of God Himself. At this moment the glory was seen over Israel, and the rock was following them with its streams. But what was all this to Amalek? What did he care for the glory? Such as Isaiah or Daniel might learn their own vileness from it, and Peter in its presence might know himself to be a sinful man, but the glory had no lesson of holy fear for such as Amalek. He comes out the rather to measure strength with it. He is as the one who by-and-by will dare to plant his idols on the battlements of the holy city, and his tabernacles on the glorious holy mountain. What is the glory to such as these? “Our tongues are our own,” say they. Their standards may rival the Lord's pillar. But the hand that holds them shall wither, as Amalek here falls, and as the last of the race shall hereafter fall (Dan. 11), with none to help him.
This may be fearful, and it is so; but it ends the trial and discipline of Israel. As in that future day also, when the last Amalek falls, Michael will stand up, and every one found written in the book shall be delivered, so here the discomfiture of this enemy makes full and easy way for Israel to “the Mount of God.” That place, out to which they had been called from Egypt, under promise that there they should serve the Lord, and hold their feast to Him, is now reached, their toil and discipline and danger all over.
And this long promised and now attained mountain is again called “the Mount of God.” The first time Moses is seen there, the burning bush, as we then saw, told him of grace; but now there is to be something to tell him of glory. Then he saw the pledge of redemption, now he is to see the pledge of the kingdom. (Chap. 18)
Zipporah and her children had been sent home to her father's house; and, as far we can judge, immediately after the circumcision of the child (chap. iv.), and naturally so. For there was something in that action that was not according to the mind of a Gentile wife. But Moses, when returning into connection with Israel, should have owned the circumcision of the God of Abraham. Coming back to his kindred in the flesh, he should have remembered the legislative national token in the flesh. The reproach of Midian should have been put away then, as the reproach of Egypt was afterward. (Josh. 5) But Zipporah, who had no fleshly kindredness with Israel, could not have been prepared for this, and therefore with her the Lord had no controversy. It was Moses or his child, and not Zipporah, whom the Lord would have slain at the inn, according to the, ordinance. (Gen. 17:14.) And his life being forfeited to that ordinance, it was grace that spared him. And it is altogether likely that it was just at that moment Zipporah was sent home. The Spirit, however, has left it without certainty. And justly so, as I judge, because her departure home to Midian is typically the hiding of the Gentile, or heavenly family, in the Father's house, till the Lord, the true Moses, conducts those judgments on this Egypt-world, which are to issue in the deliverance of His earthly people and the kingdom.
But Egypt being judged, Israel redeemed, disciplined, and led to the borders of the mount, the due time had come for the re-appearance of Zipporah, the Gentile wife. She is now manifested, led out by the hand of her father, for re-union with Moses at “the Mount of God,” when all the action of judgment and redemption was now gloriously and fully accomplished.
The scene here is thus strikingly beautiful and significant. We have here (as another has justly called him) “the mysterious Kenite,” for Jethro is a type or mystery, a sign of that which is especially the mystery. He here meets the redeemed heirs of earthly blessing till now a stranger to them. He comes from regions unknown to Israel. But when they meet there is no want of full companionship. A common hand seems to have led them towards each other. The deeds of the Lord, His famous deeds for Israel, are rehearsed, when Jethro and Moses had kissed each other, and the family affection had taken its course. The strangers congratulate the earthly tribes on their recent rescue and prosperous journey to “the Mount of God,” and now the union of the great deliverer of Israel with this distant unknown family was made manifest. Hitherto this had been a hidden union. But now the wife and the children, led forth by the father, appear in the presence of his fleshly kindred, and take a place nearer to Moses, the great center of the whole scene, than any of them.
The stranger likewise soon takes the highest dignities, as well as fills the place of nearest affection. He occupies, as it were, both the throne and the temple, giving direction to the lawgiver, and offering sacrifice in the presence of the priest. The last is first—the younger before the elder-the stranger in higher honor than the kindred.
But what is all this but in figure the dispensation of the fullness of times, the gathering together in one of all things in heaven and in earth? What is it less than the raising of the ladder between heaven and earth? Do we not here listen to the intercourses of the kingly priestly stranger with redeemed Israel, rejoicing in their blessing, but holding still the place of holiness and honor? Jethro assumes the place of Melchizedek. In no less glories than those of king and priest together does he here shine before us. He offers the sacrifices and spreads the feast for Aaron, and sits as chief in the seat of judgment with Moses. And when he had thus displayed his glories, rejoiced in the prosperity of God's chosen, and led their praise for the mercy, “he went his way.” As was said of the God of Abraham before, “and the Lord went his way as soon as he had done communing with Abraham.” (Gen. 18) So now Jethro, having rejoiced with Israel and displayed his glories, goes his way. For both were as strangers in the earth, and a distant way led them to their proper home.
Thus we have great things in this chapter. The opening of it shows us the heavenly One descending, and the close of it shows us His return or ascending in figure, as the angels of God once ascended and descended on the mystic ladder, and will again upon the Son of man. And it shows us also in figure all things in heaven and earth gathered in that one who has connection with the two great households, though in different ways, while they themselves were unknown to each other till now. All this tells indeed of the dispensation of the fullness of times. (Eph. 1:10.) This mount, where all this is seen, is now again called “the Mount of God,” as being in this manner the place of glory, as before when it was called “the Mount of God,” it was as strikingly the place of grace, or the burning bush. It well deserves the praise. It surely is the mystic holy ground where the traces of the blessed God are thus to be seen, and when, we learn those ways of His, that establish the heart both in faith and hope.
This intercourse between the heavenly and earthly families having one great center, as it will be enjoyed in the coming kingdom, so has it been typified in many past shadows. The ladder which Jacob saw, and to which I have alluded, gave it in figure to us. The passing and re-passing of Moses from the cloudy tabernacle to the camp of the congregation (Ex. 33), was another expression of this intercourse between the place of the glory and the earth. The vision on the mount of transfiguration, where the glorified family were seen, and also the representative of Israel, gives us another pledge of it The interviews between the risen Lord and His disciples, still in their earthly places, is a like figure: for then at seasons He showed Himself to them, but His place was more duly in heaven, His word being “touch me not,” though at times He would eat and drink with them as before. So, the notice that is taken of the ascent, by which Solomon went up to the house of the Lord, and which was one of the principal objects that rested on the vision, and filled the spirit of the queen of Sheba, is another intimation of the same (2 Chron. 9); for it looked somewhat above, and apart from, the mere earthly places, to which the sitting of the servants, the furniture of the tables, and all the royal magnificence and fullness pertained, and would properly have drawn her thoughts upwards. And so this our closing chapter shows the same. Here is the ladder again, the communion of the heavens with the earth in the days of the glory. Moses's estrangement from Israel for a season, his secrecy among the Gentiles with his father, his wife, and his children there, then his return to Israel, and their redemption and discipline under his hand, the overthrow of the great enemy who dared to affront the glory of the Lord, and finally, the place of peace, “the Mount of God,” where the strangers and Israel (both, though differently, having found their union with Moses the common deliverer) meet for the first time to rejoice together, while the stranger fills the nearer intimacies and the higher dignities: all these tell out the mystic tale of the heavens and the earth in the coming kingdom or fullness of times. The union of the bride and the bridegroom, which before had been hidden, is now published, and the Gentile stands nearer to Moses than all his kindred in the flesh.
There is a voice in all this, beloved, that we cannot but hear. For thus will it be in the kingdom, surely. Is not all that is royal and glorious to be on the earth then, with the ascent to heaven from Jerusalem? Is not the true ladder to be there, and the ministers of the kingdom passing and re-passing upon it? Is not the glory then to be a covering on the dwelling-places and assemblies of Zion? “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad.” Tales of mercy and salvation will then be rehearsed, as here; and the church will learn the joy of Israel's deliverance, though they never knew each other before, for the church's path had been heavenly, and Israel's earthly, and thus they lay not in the same regions at all. But then they will find that all the while they have had a common center in the true Moses, the true Bridegroom of the true heavenly stranger, the true deliverer and leader of the tribes of Israel. And then as Jethro here spreads the refreshments and gives the blessing, so the golden city, the city of the heavenly strangers, will pour forth its light and its waters, the effulgence of its glories and the streams of its fountains, to gladden and refresh the earth, and Israel with her attendant nations shall be blest in the millennial kingdom of the Son of man.
The next chapter (19) introduces us to other scenes and thoughts altogether, so as to allow us to look at this scripture (chaps. 1- 18) by itself. And it is, as it were, one of the title-deeds of Horeb to the holy dignity which it bears. It shows us why it should be called “the Mount of God.” For grace and glory, as we have now seen, both display themselves there, and they belong to God. The next scenes are still, however at the same mount, and they will give us to read again, though in other lines (the Lord giving us grace and His blessing), the title of that mount to bear the same holy inscription upon it. And if we still linger upon it, beloved, may our souls get some little increased strength to rise above the level of this corrupted earth, and all its low ambitions and vanities.

The Guidance of Grace

We have here the blessing of the Lord which precedes always our miseries and our complaints. God ever begins with grace. He promised redemption after the fall before it was a question of repentance of sins. We have also here the history of our privileges. The people were guided by the Lord. We are led by grace. From the moment that God owned a people, He abides in their midst. God abides in the church by the Holy Spirit. The sin of the church is to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit, to extinguish the free action of the gifts. The Israelites were to be guided of the Lord, as we should be; they are the picture of what we are. All that happened to them as recorded in scripture was written as types.
The two privileges of the church of God are to have the purpose and will of God written in the word, and the Holy Spirit to make us understand it.
Redemption places us in the wilderness with God. It is the presence of God Himself that conducts us. The presence of God must be owned if we would be strong and courageous in crossing the wilderness. “On the day that the tabernacle was reared up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony.” The presence of God is attached to His law. “At even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire until the morning. In the darkness and difficulties the presence of God is even more manifest and visible.” So it was always; the cloud covered it [by day], and the appearance of fire by night. When the cloud rose, Israel journeyed; where it abode, there they encamped. “At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not; but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed: they kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord, by the hand of Moses.” (Chap. 9:18-23.) They marched or encamped at the Lord's will. Nothing simpler or more beautiful than the manner in which Israel if faithful attended each moment to the will of God.
That which does us most harm is our attending to our own will, even doing the things of God according to our own will. Israel knew not whither they were going, but they marched without question or hesitation, following the movement of the cloud. Circumstances make no difference to the child of God: he does the will of God in all circumstances, he has no other rule than God's will. How could they find the way night or day in the wilderness without a way? Circumstances were nothing. It was needful to attend to the Lord.
Philip was extremely blessed at Samaria; but in the midst of all that the Spirit says to him, Arise, and go southward on the way that goeth down from Jerusalem to Gaza (which is desert). And he arose and went. God had a sheep there. He obeys, and when the work is done, he is found at Azotus, preaching the gospel to all the cities till he came to Caesarea. His obedience is a fine example of the guidance of a child of God. To obey is more important than all the rest. Christ comes to do the will of Him that sent Him. When it is necessary to act, He does act. He says, If one walketh in the light, he stumbleth not. To rise, to rest, all this ought to be done according to God's will. In Matt. 11:25, 26, Jesus gives His Father thanks, because it was His good pleasure to hide the things of God, from the wise and prudent, while revealing them unto babes. He adds, Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. Take My yoke upon you: submit entirely to the will of God. The child of God ought to have unswerving confidence in God, and to obey Him completely.
In the midst of the night the fiery pillar moves; God says, Go. They go without knowing whither, but knowing it is God who guides them. It is no question then of taking account either of time or of circumstances; God gives the word.
In John 10:7-9 Jesus says, I am the door of the sheep. When He has put forth all His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, because they know His voice. It is our privilege to be guided at each moment by God. But it is necessary to pay heed to the Lord: if not the cloud might rise, and no one perceive it. It is thus in paying heed that one goes onward when the cloud lifts; it must be done in the details of each day. If the aged Simeon, guided by the Holy Spirit, had not come into the temple, he would not have had the privilege of meeting with the child Jesus there. The least circumstance may have serious results, and we are the purchased of the Lord without anything to do if it be not to pay heed to the Lord and to march when He leads the way.
The silver trumpets were the testimony of God. (Chap. 10:1-10) To own openly, frankly, the truth of the Lord concerns us much, because the Lord puts Himself forward to render testimony to His truth. Here the main object was to gather the people of God around Him, or to make them journey, though other purposes were served, as for the chiefs to gather and for alarm in war, besides for joy over the sacrifices. But the alarm in war was to remind them of God's intervention. Let us sound the testimony without fear. He will not fail to appear.
For the march the prescribed order is modified (vers. 11-28) from chapter 3:27, when we come to fact. Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun went first; then the tabernacle was borne by the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari; then came these other tribes, Reuben, Simeon, and Gad; then the sanctuary with the Kohathites; after them Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, and Dan, Asher, Naphtali in due place.
Moses besought his father-in-law to be for Israel instead of eyes (vers. 29-32); but here again grace acts extraordinarily. (Ver. 33) The ark of the covenant of Jehovah went before them in the three days' journey to search out a resting-place for them. God knows very well that even in the desert we need rest before Him.
See what God's faithfulness does for us. When Israel had to cross the Jordan, the ark of the covenant goes before them and is set in the midst of the river, which is clean dried up. Yet did it then overflow its banks, as it was the time of harvest. There it stays till every Israelite had crossed. The passage is an image of our death and resurrection with Christ. God accommodates Himself, not to sin, but to the effects of sin. When Israel failed in faithfulness and was affrighted by the Canaanite, He turns them away from Canaan, but the cloud turns away also. The most faithful souls must suffer from the state of the whole church. (So the faith of Elijah was extraordinary; but he could not go to Jerusalem.) Caleb and Joshua must for thirty-eight years accompany Israel in the desert and undergo the exterior consequences of sin. We must in the wilderness not follow sin, but undergo the painful consequences of the state of the church. But we can count on the cloud, on the faithfulness of God. When the Holy Spirit has been grieved, He cannot sanction the evil, but He does not fail in His faithfulness toward us. Jesus was isolated; He passed through the wilderness Himself. He understands and feels the state of the people of God and prepares them in the wilderness places of rest.
We can always count in the wilderness on the goodness of God. We cannot see then on the road. Moses wished to find a guide in Hobab: this was to forget the guidance of the cloud. There, is no way in the wilderness; but God is there. It is because we do not discern the cloud when all is easy, that we do not see it when all is difficult. After sin what is not more difficult. Two things give us confidence-the written word, and the Holy Spirit. For human reason cannot sound the word; without the Spirit it comes to nothing. The Holy Spirit guides us by the word. The two things are necessary: neither the word only without the Spirit, nor the Spirit without the word. The Holy Spirit is needed to have the desire to understand the word, as well as the strength to walk and obey. We need God and the word of His grace. And we have God to instruct and conduct, us. The child of God may, when he is attentive to it, discern clearly the direction of the Holy Spirit. One cannot be guided of the Spirit when one does that which is contrary to the word; we can, if we can make it say like Moses in verse 35, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered.

Notes on John 17:14-19

From verse 14 the Lord pleads for another object on behalf of the disciples. He had entreated for them to be set in His love in presence of the Father; He now asks that they may have His place in presence of the world. As He had sought their association with Himself in the one case, so in the other He would have no less an association. There it was for His joy to be fulfilled in them; here it is for the Father's testimony in and by them; His place on earth, as in heaven.
“I have given them thy word; and the world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. I do not ask that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them out of the evil. Of the world they are not, as I am not of the world.” (Vers. 14-16.)
It is not here as in verse 8 “the words” (ῥήματα) given of the Father to the Son which the Son had given to the disciples, the communications of love, whence they knew truly that He came from the Father, and believed to their joy that the Father sent Him. It is here the Father's “word” (λόγος), the expression of His mind. This, it was said already, they had kept. But the Lord resumes the notice of it in connection with testimony in the world which for Him was closed. In the world they were to be witnesses of Him, and the Father's word He has given them, and the world hated them, not for that word only, offensive as it is to the world, but because they, the disciples who had it, were not of the world even as their Master is not. This is the true measure of unworldliness, and it is intolerable in the world's eyes, and nowhere so much as in the religious world. For men on earth to know themselves possessors of eternal life sounds presumptuous to such as know not Christ and His work. But to add that they are not of the world the world will have to be intolerance. The truth is that nothing is so lowly as faith, and faith works by love, the very reverse of despising others or trusting in themselves that they are righteous. Christ is all to the believer, as He is to the Father; and as He is not of the world, so they are not. That they are not of the world depends on the former truth, that they are the Father's and given to the son, who manifested the Father's name to them and kept them in that name; as He besought that the Father would keep them still during His absence from the world. Christ in John is from the outset unknown to the world and rejected: they know not the Father and the Son. So it is with the children of God. “Therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew him not.” The breach is complete. “The world hated them,” as it hated both the Father and the Son.
Never had there been such a breach before. It was not so during God's dealings with Israel of old; nor yet in their ruin during the ensuing times of the Gentiles. Man was still under trial; and even while the Lord was here below, the character of His ministry was God in Him reconciling the world to Himself. But the world would none of Him, and is judged in its prince. And as man is now in the light of the cross pronounced lost, so is the saint crucified to the world and the world to him. They are not of the world, as Christ is not of the world. It is a fact, and not merely an obligation, though the firmest ground of obligation. They are not of the world, not merely they ought not to be; whilst if they are not, it is grievous inconsistency even to seem to be of the world. It is to be false to our relationship, for we are the Father's and given to the rejected Son who has done with the world; and if it be said that this is to bring in everlasting and heavenly relationships now, be it so: this is exactly what Christianity means in principle and practice. It is faith possessing Christ, who gives the believer His own place of relationship and acceptance on high as well as of testimony apart from and rejected by the world below; which he has to make good in words and ways, in spirit and conversation, whilst waiting for the Lord. Hence if going back to law or flesh, as in Galatia, was to fall from grace, no less thorough is the departure of the Christian when he seeks the world of which he is not. That the world improves for Christ or His own is as false as that the flesh can ameliorate. It is the light become darkness, and how great is that darkness! There may not be the reflex of the latter part of Rom. 1, but it answers to the beginning of 2 Tim. 3. It is the natural man knowing enough to forego what is shameless, and invested with a religious veil; it is the world essentially, occupying itself with the things of God in profession but in reality of the world, where common sense suffices for its service and its worship, and the mind of Christ would be altogether inapplicable. What a triumph to the enemy! It is just what we see in Christendom; and nothing irritates so much as the refusal so to walk, worship or serve. It does not matter how loudly you denounce or protest: if you join the world, they will not mind your words, and you are faithless to Christ. Nor does it matter how much grace and patience you show; if you keep apart as not of the world, you incur enmity and hatred, and contempt. A disciple is not above his Master; but everyone that is perfected shall be as his Master. To act as not of the world is felt to be its strongest condemnation; and no meekness or love can make it palatable. Nor does God intend that it should, for He means it as part of the testimony to His Son. And as the world neither receives nor understands the Father's word, so it hates those who have and act on that word.
Doubtless there is a moment when the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we the living who remain shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air, when He shall Himself with a shout, with archangel's voice, and with trump of God, descend from heaven; and thus we shall ever be with Him. But the Lord did not ask yet that the Father should thus take His own out of the world, but that He should keep them out of the evil. This He does by His grace through His word, as we shall see presently. Only the Lord, before He explains how the Father keeps the saints, reiterates in a new form so as to give greater emphasis, Of the world they are not, as I am not of the world. Nor is anything more speedily forgotten, unless the eye be fixed on Christ above, with continual vigilance as to our motives ways and ends, as well as unsparing self-judgment. It was of all moment to have it firm and clear that the world and the Christian have no common ground, and that Christ Himself, according to whose grace and for whose glory in communion with the Father we are here, is the pattern of our unworldliness. What separateness so absolute? or dependent on relationship to the Father so near, save only His, who is in the highest way its pattern? For the world in the sense here conveyed is that vast system which man has built up away from God in independence and self-reliance, and to the exclusion, not of His nominal honor, but of any real submission to His righteousness, His will, or His glory, which fully came out in the rejection and cross of His Son, who thereon reveals as wholly distinct in source, nature, character, and aim, those that the Father owns as His in the world, whose fellowship is indeed with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Of the world they are not, as He is not. They are Christ's.
Now comes the formative power, as wholly new as above man, and not of God merely but of the Father. “Sanctify them by [or, in] the truth: thy word is truth. As thou didst send me forth into the world, I also sent them forth into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify thyself that they also may be sanctified in truth.” ( Vers. 17-19.)
It is impossible to overrate the importance of the Savior's words for His disciples; it is easy for men to misapprehend them, as those do who lower and narrow the word to separation for ministerial service. But He had at heart a more personal and intimate want, that the disciples should themselves be imbued with, formed and fashioned by, the truth. The law now sufficed not; not even in the most comprehensive sense, as embracing the prophets and the Psalms. For Christ was come, the Only-begotten who declared God otherwise unseen of any one. He revealed the Father, who would make a fresh and full yet permanent revelation, as we have it not only in Him but in the scriptures as a whole. The sanctification or setting apart was therefore as new as complete. It was to the Father that the Son spread His request for men who were none of them heathen but of the holy seed. Yet for such does He say, “Sanctify them by the truth.” The truth was revealed as it never was before. “Thy word,” the Father's word, “is truth.” Truths had been made known, never the truth till Jesus who is it. For He first, He only as an objective display, showed out every one, God, man, Satan even, and everything, heaven, earth, hell, and all things in them, as they really are, for His person (the Word made flesh) alone was competent to do it. His advent and redemption gave the suited occasion and needed object for the full revelation, as being Son of man and withal true God and eternal life. By the truth then, the Father's word, were the disciples to be sanctified. The Father revealed, not only in the Son personally but in His word detailedly, changed all for the soul. None but the Son, and the Son a man on earth, glorifying the Father perfectly in His life, glorifying God as such in His death, could furnish the adequate motive for the Father's love, object for His ways, center of His counsels or manifestation of His glory. Hence all is out and in perfection: testimony higher, deeper, fuller is looked for in vain, as those know who acknowledging the Son have the Father also and are not of the world.
Then comes their mission, which is drawn from the same unworldly source and is characterized by it. “As thou didst send me forth into the world, I also sent them forth into the world.” Moses disappears even as a pattern; so do the prophets. Even John the Baptist (and among those born of women was no prophet greater) was but man in mission from God; but he that is least in the kingdom is greater than he. He that cometh from above-from heaven-is above all. Such was Jesus; and as the Father sent forth Him, so He too sent those who then surrounded Him, their mission as new as the word which formed and furnished their souls. It flowed from One apart from the world and above it, who had been sent into it on an errand of infinite love to the Father's glory and was in spirit no more here but in heaven, whither He was actually going soon. It was thus the Son sent the disciples associated with Himself in heaven and charged with the Father's testimony to the world. Not of the world as He was not, they could be and were sent into it. Had they been of the world, they could not he sent into it; but, as taken out of it by grace in Christ, they were not of it.
This is fitly followed by another and crowning means of sanctification of which the Lord speaks. “And for their sakes I sanctify myself that they also may be sanctified in truth.” It is not the Father's word now as given to them here and revealing Him in every detail as the disciples needed, though inseparable from Christ's person as come into the world, where they too were sent. This was essential both for themselves and their work. But grace does more; and the Lord goes on to show how He is setting Himself apart on high, the Son as ever but model Man before the Father in heaven, so as to complete their sanctification in seeing Him thus in glory. Thus it is not only the truth brought out here in all its application, but the truth also in the glorified Christ as the suited object to animate and strengthen as well as transform, while we behold Him with unveiled face: God revealed in man, the Son of man; the Son of man now glorified by God in Himself, and this straightway, that the disciples might be sanctified “in truth,” both bearing on their nature and walk. For, without such an object above, the fullest demonstration of God's righteousness and power were lacking, and so too, one might add, of the Father's love and glory, as well as what was due to His own person foot only as divine but as man, and man glorified according to the counsels of God. And the disciples also needed His blessed person thus before them at God's right hand in order to fix and fill their affections, beside the word which perfectly reveals all the mind of God in grace. Thus it is not simply as incarnate that the Lord sanctifies Himself on their behalf,-nor yet as dying sacrificially, according to Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria, with a crowd of followers since their day, but as glorified, consequent on death and resurrection, that He becomes the pattern of His own. Beholding Him they are transformed into His image from glory to glory even as by the Lord the Spirit; and, when He shall be manifested, they are to be like Him, seeing Him as He is, and conformed to the image of the Son in resurrection glory. God Himself could give no other portion so blessed, when Christ shall be the firstborn among many brethren.

John 20

It is impossible to one, in giving great principles for the help of those who seek to understand the word, to develop all that is so deeply touching and interesting in this twentieth chapter of John, on which we have often pondered with (through grace) an ever-growing interest. This revelation of the Lord to the poor woman, who could not do without her Savior, has a touching beauty, which every detail enhances. But there is on point of view to which one cannot but call the reader's attention. There are four conditions of soul presented here which, taken together, are very instructive, and each in the case of a believer:-
1st. John and Peter, who see and believe, are really believers; but they do not see in Christ the only center of all the thoughts of God, for His glory, for the world, for souls. Neither is He so for their affections, although they are believers. Having found that He was risen, they do without Him. Mary, who did not know this, and was even culpably ignorant, could nevertheless not do without Jesus. She must possess Himself. Peter and John go to their home; this is the center of their interests. They believe indeed, but self and home suffice them.
2nd. Thomas believes, and acknowledges, with true orthodox faith, on incontestable proofs, that Jesus is his Lord and his God. He truly believes for himself. He has not the, communications of the efficacy of the Lord's work, and of the relationship with His Father into which Jesus brings His own, the assembly. He has peace, perhaps, but he has missed all the revelation of the assembly's position. How many souls-saved souls even-are there in these two conditions!
3rd. Mary Magdalene is ignorant in the extreme. She does not know that Christ is risen. She has so little right sense of His being Lord and God, that she thinks some one might have taken away His body. But Christ is her all, the need of her soul, the only desire of her heart. Without Him she has no home, no Lord, no anything. Now to this need Jesus answers; it indicates the work of the Holy Ghost. He calls His sheep by her name, shows Himself to her first of all, teaches her that His presence was not now to be a Jewish bodily return to earth, that He must ascend to His Father, that the disciples were now His brethren, and that they were placed in the same position as Himself with His God and His Father-as Himself, the risen Man, ascended to His God and Father. All the glory of the new individual position is opened to her.
4th. This gathers the disciples together. Jesus then brings them the peace which He has made, and they have the full joy of a present Savior who brings it them. He makes this peace (possessed by them in virtue of His work and His victory) their starting-point, sends them as the Father had sent Him, and imparts to them the Holy Ghost as the breath and power of life, that they may be able to bear that peace to others.
These are the communications of the efficacy of His work, as He had given to Mary that of the relationship to the Father which resulted from it. The whole is the answer to Mary's attachment. to Christ, or what resulted from it. If through grace there is affection, the answer will assuredly be granted. It is the truth which flows from the work of Christ. No other state than that which Christ here presents is in accordance with what He has done, and with the Father's love. He cannot by His work place us in any other.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:7-10

There is a slight change in the middle of verse 7 indicated by a difference in the preposition and beginning with the needed arms of the Christian servant. We have ἐν (“in” or “by") no longer, but διά. Even the latter cannot here, or elsewhere, be restricted to the sense of “by means of;” for though this might suit the first occurrence, it does not fit in with the two which follow, but rather “through,” or “with” as with the genitive it sometimes means (as in chap. 2:4).
“Through [or, with] the arms of righteousness on the right and left, through glory and dishonor, through ill report and good report, as deceivers and true, as unknown and well-known, as dying and behold! we live, as chastened and not put to death, as grieved but always rejoicing, as poor but enriching many, as having nothing and possessing all things.” (Vers. 7-10.)
As the Holy Ghost naturally precedes love unfeigned, and the word of truth is accompanied by the “power of God,” so “the arms of righteousness” in full equipment follow. Some here as elsewhere take “righteousness” as that which is secured by justification before God. But this is to mistake both the figure and the context. As a figure it is a mistake, inasmuch as armor is used to protect one against the assaults of an, enemy, which God assuredly is not to the believer. Hence, where we have details as in Eph. 6, we see beyond controversy that we are told to put on the armor in order to withstand the powers and wiles of evil; not to stand before God, in which case we hear of a robe, not of arms. Clearly then righteousness in the practical sense is in question, rather than the righteousness of God. And the context equally requires it; because the apostle is insisting here, not on the standing of the believer, but on the avoidance of all which could expose the ministry to reproach, and on the cultivation of all that should approve it to universal conscience, representing God aright in a world where everything is opposed, and spite of a nature which is enmity against Him, and this in an earthen vessel as weak as the pressure of circumstances was great and varied and constant, so as to test the workman in every conceivable way.
Next we have a series of contrasts, not more paradoxical in appearance than strictly true. “Through glory and dishonor, through ill report and good report.” Who among mankind ever touched the extremes of both as he who thus portrays the path of service according to God? Who ever served the Lord Jesus so superior to circumstances? Who less elated? Who farther from depression? Revered as a divine being and afterward stoned, now suspected of murder and immediately after regarded as a god, he experienced vicissitudes only less wild and rapid among the saints themselves, and among none more remarkably than at Corinth and in Galatia, where he had to vindicate even his apostleship among his own children in the faith, ready enough to bow down to arrogance and pretension.
Then by a simple transition we come to instances of ill or good report: “as deceivers and true, as unknown and well-known.” Never was it true of Paul, never can it be with a thoroughly devoted and unworldly servant of God, that all speak well of him. So did the Jews of old to the false prophets, not to the true. Faith loves not, but refuses, the chief place in feasts, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. The servant cleaves to His name whom the world knew not and so is unknown; yet as with the Master grace in service cannot but make itself felt in a world of need and misery; it cannot be hid.
The clauses which follow have a rather distinct character, sliding from matters of report into actual fact: “as dying and behold! we live, as chastened and not put to death, as grieved but always rejoicing, as poor but enriching many, as having nothing and possessing all things.” If the Lord alone, when challenged as to who He was, could say of Himself as man here below, Absolutely that which I also say to you, the Truth in word and in deed, in everything and in every way; Paul inspired of God could speak with so much the more freedom as his heart entered into the spirit of seeing God according to Christ with a largeness and a humility, with a tenderness and a courage, with unwearied patience and unflagging energy, with a purity and a love, with a jealousy for Christ's glory and an exercised conscience before God, never seen so combined in another. Out of all this he exhorts, feeling all acutely yet moved by nothing, and making no account of life itself, that he might finish his course with joy and the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus, not only testifying the gospel both to Jews and Greeks, and preaching the kingdom of God, but also announcing to the saints all the counsel of God. What suffering did it not involve! What faith and perseverance under discipline and sorrow! Yea, surely, joy in the Holy Ghost was there if in any, and triumph by grace over all seeming disadvantages. He knew, if any servant did, the force of the Lord's word in Mark 10:29-31, as poor but enriching many, as having nothing but possessing all things.

Ephesians 5:17-21

One thought was particularly on my mind in reacting this portion-the astonishing grace implied in such an exhortation as this: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is not a mere duty. I need not say we cannot deny the duty part; but it is evident that the Holy Ghost supposes that the saints will feel and understand it is rather the directing of the heart than the exacting something from it. There is great difference between these two things: so legal are our hearts naturally, that even with the knowledge of God we have, we are apt to clothe the words of our God to us under the form of a law to which we have to bend, instead of seeing that such being the goodly portion God has given us, this thanksgiving always for all things is naturally the expression of the heart taught of the Holy Ghost. It is indeed pure unbelief, wherever the heart is not thus able. The hindrance lies here-we can readily acknowledge that if God were giving us nothing but what we could see and own as the fruit of His love, Christ, and the Holy Ghost to make Christ known-that then we can thank Him for all things, for Himself-He has created us for Himself.
The exhortation in Colossians is, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” But here the Holy Ghost goes much further, “Giving thanks always, for all things, unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is not giving thanks in all things that we do. It is more. No matter what God does, or permits to be done, I am entitled by faith to receive it as a blessing to my soul, and for this therefore give thanks. Whatever the trial may be, disappointment, scorn, distraction, the thousand influences that come from an evil world; it is not that I am to thank for these, but for the blessing that God designs for me through them. We are called of God to be outside the camp with Jesus. We find things there to try our faith, things that test us whether we have come out for one another, or because of certain truths received and enjoyed in common, or whether it is that we may be where Jesus is, sharing His reproach, having fellowship with His sufferings. And if we see that God has given us this portion, we can say that God Himself could not have given us anything better. He has not called us out to a partial blessing, but to a complete one. He calls us to enjoy what he is to us in Jesus-to learn His love more and more. He is leading on His saints in this: that through which we learn it, involves the crushing of nature, the denial of self, and if there is one single thing, however small, in which we should like to have a little reserve, it is the very thing we have to pass through and yield. For God desires we should know our full blessing. If we are looking after the well-watered plains, as Lot did, we may be suffered to get them, but there we shall have sorrow, as Lot had. And we see cases like his now. Indeed for one Abram we see fifty Lots.
But where the heart is made up to cleave to Jesus, let what will come, where Christ is known as the portion now for us, for walk as well as for salvation, God would have us to know not only that He has written this, but that there is not one word that He will not make good to the heart that desires it. God has sent the Holy Ghost to be in us, and what can there be beyond the power of the Holy Ghost? The flesh? Whatever the strength of the flesh may be, the Holy Ghost is stronger. There is no such thing as that we must fail. It is not so in the mind of God. There are not certain things in which we may not expect to get the victory. Therefore the Lord grant that in looking at Christ we may always have good courage that this word may be before our hearts continually, by night and by day, whenever we are able to think at all. God would have our hearts to enter into this goodly portion, that there is not one thing He allows about us, but what He turns into a stream of blessing, if we only look at it in the presence of Jesus.

Testimony for Christ: Part 2

In the record of the actings of the Most High, can we trace a case to exhibit for Himself as Creator and God of providence; or is the testimony committed to the character of the Savior?
What is the bearing of this upon the preaching of the gospel, in the acts and on the scene, as shown us by prophecy? How far was and is that which is of nature or providence used of God in the church 7 Can we learn anything from our present horizon?
The peculiar position the church of God assumes was vividly brought before the eyes. One thing rests on my mind—the entire distinction of the church of God from everything else besides, rejoicing in God Himself, and estimating His ways. “We have the mind of Christ.” When the prophet asked, “Who had been his counselor?” there was no response; the mind of Christ, the Holy Ghost, are in the church. This intelligence is such as there never was before. They were but servants. I may tell my wishes to my servant, but he had no participation in my thoughts. The first principle of the Jewish dispensation is marked by the veil, Jehovah dwelling in the darkness: they did not really know God, they had no access into the holiest; but when Christ came, it was impossible He should not be revealed; and how He could deal with His own Son but as what He was? We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God could lead David to say, “My soul panteth after God": we know Him now. When God said to Abraham, “I am thy shield,” &c., His “friend,” who in some respects stood higher than Old Testament saints, yet did not know God in the character as we do. “What wilt thou give me"? he asked. When God gives Himself as a reward, He necessarily brings out the heir. Abraham talking with God could look down on all things below.
To us is given all that God gives in and with Christ. The church is told everything. The scriptures are so exceedingly precious because we have all God's mind from beginning to end, even about the Jews, given to us. This assumes perfect reconciliation to God, the being brought into fellowship with the Father and the Son. It also implies perfect peace; for if I had any doubts about myself, how could I at all care to be inquiring about God's dealings with the Jews? The conduct and character of a child who has no doubt of his relationship is altogether different from a servant's, the moment I see the truth.
“For their sakes I sanctify myself,” said our Lord, going as Man on high. This is not a testimony against evil, but to get to the sanctification of the believer through the truth. Even before I saw the coming of Christ, I saw that the Spirit of prophecy condemns the world and its ways; but in the setting apart of the new man in Christ, I see what draws my affections and acts on the conscience. The setting apart of the church according to the model of Christ, the new Man, acts on the affections. God does not become what He reveals Himself to be, for that He effectually is. So as to creation, Christ travels across all dealings with the Jews and others, and says, Your Father gives rain to the just and unjust; go, and do likewise. Christ was God manifest in the flesh; not merely a perfect Jew, but the heavenly Man above all evil, and the conduct of man is to be based upon what God is in Himself—my Father, of whom ye say that He is your God—the Father of Jesus their God.
We say we trust in the living God, and this is the difference between a Christian and a man who talks about God. We trust not as in a dead God, who has given rules and leaves them, but in One who lives and watches over me, and I can walk through any danger with the fullest certainty of “Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father,” &c. You as a child are an object of all good; all providence was for them of every kind, because of their association with Christ. Thu church is not the sphere of providence as Israel was. The church has not its root in the systems of the world at all. When Israel is no longer His witness, when the world asserted its power uniting with the Jew to crucify the Messiah, then the church is brought out in connection with Him before the foundation of the world. Men may think they can do what was not done when Christ was here. “The world hath not known thee, but I have known thee.” The display of Himself is to the saint. The church is not the sphere of Providence, but the Jew was. In God's mind the church is not of the system of the world at all. Christ had glorified the Father on earth, and then closed by saying, “The world hath not known thee.” “The world seeth me no more, but ye see me.” Thus did He, sanctify His disciples. The church ought to have here another thing, because all power is given to Christ; so Christ has all power in heaven and earth. Hence, when the appeal is made, it is, “Kiss the Son.” The church ought to have been the witness of the same, of the power of Christ on earth, even the powers of the world to come, a testimony in the Spirit to the power Christ will exercise in the world to come (healing the sick, raising the dead, were powers of the world to come). Where shall I find creation put to rights but in Christ? There was a fresh testimony in man to the power of Christ over creation. When the spirits were cast out, He said, I saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven, a sample of the end, when all the powers of Satan will cease.
The church is not only a testimony to the grace of God, but to the power of God, in creation and providence. Full peace is a settled state of happiness, which people do not talk much about if walking in it, and engaging every thought, and feeling, and plan, and act of His, and as connected with it. The church had her own place in all the testimony she had to give. You that were her enemies are now able to enter into the power of the new life, to enter into all the hopes of redemption, &c. Miracles now are a different thing from what they were. Egyptians had been swallowed up, Dathan and Abiram, &c.; but miracles in the church were a sign of the power of the world to come. They confirm faith, but they are not to us in any sense the basis of faith; to the Israelites, in a certain sense, they were. Who brought you out of the land of Ham? Nicodemus speaks of miracles, but Christ stops him, and says, “Ye must be born again.” Adam had his garden taken away from him. The flood afterward came—then men's imagination made sticks and stones into gods. The prophet speaks of the folly of worshipping and warming themselves by a bit of wood; but the Spirit leads the saint behind the scenes, and he sees that the idolatry is not merely the folly that could be seen, but men worshipping demons.
When I come to the principle that God is Creator of heaven and earth, I see that Israel bound their idols with the very things the true God had given them. They would offer these gifts to the queen of heaven. Generally the Gentiles were given up to their own ways. God revealed as Jehovah was not only the Most High, Almighty to Abraham, but the Covenant-keeper to Israel. (Psa. 91) Whosoever dwells in the secret place of the Most High lodges under Almighty shelter. Jehovah was the revelation of the place of safety—Jehovah is the resting place. Satan tempted the Lord Jesus to take this up, not in obedience; but He said, No, I am come as a servant, and must take the place of obedience. In, spite of everything, Jesus will show Himself the possessor of earth. In Isaiah, up to chapter 49, the Lord takes up Israel as the servant; but from that time Messiah is called the Servant, because Israel had been destroyed, and lost his standing.
No reclaiming power was of any use whilst the tree was bad. Man as a sinner may be polished, but he is a sinner still. The law was weak through the flesh. Man ever knows that precept is a sharp accuser, but a useless friend; there must be power. With all man's immense faculties—and I do not believe that they are half developed yet—he cannot please God; there is no good in acting on the old life, so God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
I could not speak to you, beloved friends, about these things, if I did not assume that you and I are enjoying perfect peace. We thus can contemplate all power in heaven and earth, and this in Christ. God, of course, never resigns any of His titles; but all power is given to Christ, and when He returns, all this power will be manifested, and the church its sharer with Him. Till the heavens are cleared, we have to do with principalities and powers in—heavenly places, but ours is power in suffering. I am to bear witness that there is salvation in Christ. Man is done with for the present. How does God deal with His title actually on the conscience? I find Christ will exercise this power on earth. When on earth Jesus continually said, “Fear not,” but after His resurrection He said,” Peace be unto you.” Now I see in Job that his friends thought that the things going on in the world were an adequate testimony to God. Job said many naughty things, but there was a craving of soul after God which his friends knew not. So a man may understand all doctrine, and yet not be in a state of mind God could meet, save to correct or judge. Job went on wrestling after something he could not find in himself—a better state than all mere doctrine—he was standing in need. We often find wants in heart which we should know how to apply to God for.
The church, being a heavenly thing, has her warfare there. Christ first clears the heavens, and the church takes with Him the seat of power. As has been said, the church was at first not only a saved thing, but the witness of the power of Christ as the possessor of heaven and earth. There are two ways in which God deals with man: firstly manifested to the Jews, so that every nation that came against them was punished; secondly, the testimony in rain and fruitful seasons. Now the church as a heavenly thing manifests God on earth, as we see in the deliverance of Peter. The Holy Ghost “convinces the world of sin,” &c., because they rejected Christ. The very presence of the Holy Ghost is the consequence of man's rejection of Christ and crucifying Him. The Holy Ghost down here virtually says, “I am here because you have rejected Christ, the Son of God.”
As to providence, Israel being God's earthly people, His providence, so to speak, rallied round them. I think the Jews were not finally rejected till the last chapter of Acts. As the Gospels are a transition from law to gospel, so the Acts are a transition from Judaism to Christianity. I find the Lord Jesus sanctioning the law, and giving in further light from the kingdom of heaven: so to speak, it is neither law nor gospel. In Acts there is the further proof that the ten thousand talents would be forgiven them; therefore, to the Israelites Jesus Christ risen was sent to every one of them, to turn to Him in repentance. By virtue of the resurrection of Christ, they were treated as having done it ignorantly, till Paul applies the words of Isaiah, “that their hearts were waxed gross,” &c. Then the truth was brought out, that every saint, whether Jew or Gentile, had his life hid with Christ in God. He was dealing with the Gentiles now, as intending to judge the world in righteousness by “that Man,” &c.; not “now,” but God having appointed a day. The testimony against the idols was that God will deal with this earth again.
Prophecy always acts on the judgment of the world. There cannot be prophecy about heaven, though it may describe heavenly things. In all that I read in Rev. 22 there is nothing about rest, but blessed activity, showing us God's governmental administration. All the proper prophetic part (not descriptive, which goes up to heaven), is on earth, the place of testimony on earth, but to hear what has been heard in heaven—God on the throne acting on earth. The church's testimony, on the other hand, is about heavenly things; not the Father is spoken of in Revelation, but the throne of God, the displayed, not the hidden, joy. The people walk in the light of the city. This great secret of government—God dwells in the midst—the seat of government is in heaven when Satan cast out.
How far may the things of nature and providence be used? There seems to me some confusion between man's using nature and God's using it, because man can never take God's place of sovereignty over evil. But I make an entire distinction between faculties and man's will. God may let Satan have this place of sovereignty, as He did with Job. God can use everything, even Satan. He can reverse the effect of evil in producing good. The church is placed altogether out of the place of using the things of nature and providence. As to man's faculties, God uses tongue, limbs, &c., but I make an entire distinction between faculties and man's will. The church enters into Christ's character of subserviency, it can never get out of the place of obedience. Faith, said a philosopher, is subject to man. Then said I, I am in the place of God. Faith alone places God in the right place. I have only to look up to Him, to trust in and depend on Him. Of course the Spirit works on my understanding—it is not as a brute that He communicates with me. Now I believe that nature is always used. When the talents were given, it was according to every man's ability, therefore I should not hesitate to say, with brother C., that twelve men with different faculties might be used for opposite purposes (mental faculties a step further), for I believe God's purposes are more exactly prepared than we think. God may have given man a capacity to speak, but does the man think about the capacity? When I find the apostle speaking in power, I find he says, “I was with you in weakness,” &c. When God acts in power, He suppresses the man, and so must I, if I am His faithful servant. The vessel is prepared, as Paul was a chosen vessel. It carries a gift, it reveals Christ. Faith always trusts in the living God. As much as the gift is occupied with Christ, it shows that it is an earthen vessel.
What do I learn from the present horizon? It is useful in alarming the consciences of men, but never in awakening affections, unless to rescue something of value. Sometimes the fairest thing that appears turns out to be bad. If my horizon does not lead to heaven, it will keep back to earth. As to the growth of evil, which I recognize as much as any man, if my horizon does not lead me to heaven, it will to earth. The way evil works now is not by saying, Give up the name of Jesus, but use Jesus not as revealed by faith. So Aaron said, “To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah,” and then made a golden calf. Unless we recognize the union with Christ in the heavens, we have no security. Everything that is most amiable in Christ, and most excellent in man, will be connected together, and nothing can preserve a saint from gross denials of Christ, but seeing the church in union. There is a sentimental part in man which loves to take up something about Christ, but this is not what I learn by faith. One touch of Christ (as our brother Bellett said) does not dispel evil till the church is in heaven. There is no preaching acknowledgment of Christ but by the Holy Ghost. I must believe God as He has spoken in His word. There may seem faith, and great faith too, in approaching to God, as when man believed that Jehovah was in a calf. People talk about judging the word, but I do say that nobody has received the word until it has judged him, and then he truly listens to it. The word judges you. I do not think we can trust ourselves to look at the horizon: we must take a Jeremiah's place to be able to do so, and God had, as it were, to frighten him into giving His word faithfully. If I look at the evil, it presses dreadfully on my spirit, and if I look on the church, I see evil where we ought to be looking for the beauty of holiness; when I do look at it, I must keep the ruin as in the back of my heart.
No man is fit to deal with evil till his heart is broken with it. When Jerusalem was prepared for blessing, it was occupied with the blessing by which they were to be drawn out, and be saved. I could not get on, and get my heart tender, when occupied with evil, though to have an understanding of what is going on is of great importance. How did the apostles act when they thought of the untoward generation? “Save yourselves from it.” Grace in Christ is the power that delivers the heart from the poor world, as in it. My heart would, I believe, be broken, if I looked at the horizon, rather than the power given of the present blessing.

Remarks on the Revelation: Part 1

Before entering upon the consideration of this portion of the Rev. 1 would briefly revert to chapters 4, 5. The substance of the instruction I derive from them, in one little word, is this—that the Divine Power has taken another and a new position, in which and from which to exercise itself, separate and distinct from that in which it had revealed itself as connected, properly speaking, with the present dispensation. Such I conceive to be the instruction meant to be conveyed by the representation in chapter 4; while the purpose and object of this new throne seem taught by the circumstances revealed in connection with it, especially in chapter 5—even the bringing in, for Christ and the church in Him, of the day of glory; and this brought about by the exercise of the Almighty power which created and upholds all things, so over-ruling all things for Christ and the church from this throne,. This throne will be found to be the center, source, and regulator of all the vast machinery and means presented in the sum of the book, as well as the place whence the Lamb revealed to John, for the church, the history of these coming actions of the power of the God of creation and providence.
These two things are in themselves, and must be kept by us, very distinct: as connected with the active energy of the former, the Lamb never appears in the character of the Lamb upon the throne throughout the book; the latter being the only circumstances in which as the Lamb He acts from this throne; for He is on the throne, and has had this blessed honor and service assigned to Him there, thence to reveal to John, for the church, the history of the actions of the power of God as Creator and Sustainer, bringing in the day of His own glory as Redeemer. The doing of this, however, is the work of God, properly speaking, as Creator—unto whom, when in weakness, He (Jesus) “committed himself as unto one that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23); concerning whom He has said, “I will put my trust in him” (Heb. 2:13); and on whose word to take the kingdom and glory He waits. While the Lamb takes no part, as upon the throne, in the actions subject to it, which are to prepare the way for His coming glory, it is He preeminently to whose intervention the church is indebted for the knowledge of these coming things. And this gives us as saints our confidence in studying what is thus presented to us—it is shown to us by the Lamb Himself. It enables us also (since He whose book it was intended it should be thus revealed by the Lamb from the throne to John) to understand the preparative character of all that precedes the opening of the seventh seal. Till He has opened the seventh seal, the Lamb is seen upon the throne, showing to John, for the saints, things which must shortly come to pass; but upon the opening of the seventh seal, we see no more of the Lamb upon the throne, but Himself in the new character of an angel by the altar, gives the signal for its tale of disaster to be told.
The object of the first seals is, I conceive, to prepare the saints' minds for the sum and substance of the seventh; for I cannot for a moment admit that the unity of the roll and the consecutive order of its seven parts, is to be set aside by supposing that the revelation, consequent upon the opening of any of the seals preceding the fast, leads down to the end, and that a subsequent seal recommences from the beginning. I know some have thought that the seals thus present three courses from the beginning of time to the end; but such an interpretation is to me incorrect, and destructive of the internal perfectness and unity of the book. To proceed with the seals, which commence the portion proposed for inquiry. The four first are distinguished from the rest by the call severally, upon the breaking of the seal, of the living creatures, to “come and see;” these four present us with living agents going forth to the earth: the result of the fifth seal is different; John looks under the altar, and learns what is the present state and expectation of the souls of those slain for the word of God, &c., and that their number is still to be added to from the earth; during the doing of which they must still wait for the full enjoyment of the white robes then given to them, for the day of vengeance was not yet come.
The sixth introduces a great earthquake, and such as might take place any day, and the thoughts of men about it—thoughts very natural to man as a fallen being about such things at all times. Then comes a parenthesis: four angels come forward, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, but they are withholden from so doing till the servants of God on earth are sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel are then sealed on earth, and from them the eye of the apostle rises to the great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, standing before the throne and the Lamb. They are certified to him to be the heavenly family; and these from among the nations are thus seen at rest before the remnant of Israel gets into trouble. Then (chap. 8:1) the Lamb breaks the seventh seal, and the seven trumpet-angels of sorrow and woe take their place. Yet another parenthesis follows, for the first blast is not until upon a signal given by another angel, and He confessedly the Mediator. There, at the golden altar, with his golden censer and much incense, having offered up the prayers of all saints, he casts the censer, filled with fire from the altar, to the earth; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, and the angels begin to sound of woe. There is something very gracious in these parentheses, the subject-matter of which gives so much repose, as showing how nothing can touch the disciple of Christ—even the messengers of God's sorrows to the wicked utter not their messages, save as at the command of Him who is Mediator to us.
The unity of the book will, I believe, be found to be to many the clue to much of the difficulty; in examining hereafter more closely the substance of the book as a whole, and the exact import of the revelation which follows the breaking of each seal, this will be, I believe, abundantly confirmed and established; at present I would only say, that so naturally and strongly does unity and consecutiveness of order in the seals suggest itself upon the first aspect of the matter, that very strong evidence ought to be required from those who would have the contrary received by us. The idea of consecutive order in the seals is more strongly suggested to the mind by the writing being upon a roll, than if in such a thing as a modern book. The order of breaking would be the reverse of that of making the seals. For when the whole was written on both sides, the first seal would be placed after rolling a little of that which, by further rolling for the second seal, would become the roller on which the winding afterward proceeded. The opening of the seal first made, of course, could not take place till the whole of the outer six seals had been broken. The object of the six first, and of the parenthesis which follows the sixth and precedes the seventh, I conceive to be simply preparative. This parenthesis also seems to be just a commentary on the fifth and sixth seal; as showing who these brethren and fellow-servants that were yet to be killed are, and why, when the earthquake came, there was only fear from the men of the world, and no joyful shout from the disciples, “Jesus is come!” for this parenthesis tells us a remnant of Jews upon earth were sealed, and the disciples out of the trouble and trial in the heavens—not, however, in the full enjoyment of their glory, for their Bridegroom has not taken His own throne; but they rest before Him still sitting upon the throne of divine Providence. Thus I find the Lord sitting in rest at the right hand of power, and His sole action (as connected with this throne) the communication of the history of its actings to John; but directly the disciples are housed, and God's purposes as connected with the earth are alone in question, I find Him in action (as the emissary of this throne, however, still), till He takes His place definitely on Mount Zion with the one hundred and forty-four thousand redeemed from the earth unto God and Himself.
To examine now more closely the import of the revelation which follows the breaking of each seal, as was proposed.
The four first seals seem marked off, in some respects, from the rest by their having, in common to themselves alone, the introduction of the cry from the living creatures to “come and see,” and by the substance of each of them being a horse and a rider going forth in aggressive agency from the throne to the earth.
The living creatures, as I have said, find this throne the place of their support, “for they were in the midst of the throne and round about the throne” (chap.4:6), and are, if my interpretation of them is correct, the representative heads of those classes of creatures which needed and found refuge in the ark, in the deluge, and with whom the covenant to Noah was formed—the wild beast, the cattle, the fowls of the air, and may; parts of the fifth and sixth day's creation—they are representative heads of all the classes wherein was the breath of life; the rest of creation, as the fish and plants, &c., needed not a refuge from the deluge. From their connection with these four riders, and their works, I judge that there must be some natural and palpable connection between that which the living creatures represent, and that which the riders represent and do; and, more than that, a connection of deep interest to the living creatures, for no sooner do they discern the horses than they cry, “Come and see.” If creation, as connected with the Noahic covenant, is what the living creatures represent (as I believe it assuredly is), then creation, as connected with the Noahic covenant (the signs and marks of which are also pre-eminently stamped upon the throne which sustains these creatures, see chap. 4.), must, I believe, be deeply interested in the works of these riders.
As to the riders, what they are, I do not think any one can doubt who takes a review of the passages in which horses, and riders, and chariots of horses are representatively presented as connected with other things than those which literally they are the names of. Whether we turn to 2 Kings 2:12; 13:14, or to Zech. 1:8; 6:2, 3, 6, I find them uniformly to represent angelic agencies, never to be symbols of earthly things, as far as I remember. Any one, running in thought through the connection of Israel's history, in its various parts with God, may see at once the use our God makes of these angelic powers in His kingdom of providence; and the throne now before us is the throne of the Lord God Almighty, His names as Creator and Sustainer of all things. Of the distinctive character of each of these aggressive angelic agencies, thus going from the throne of providence, we shall see more hereafter. For besides these things possessed in common by the four first seals, each of them has its distinctive peculiarity, which we will now consider, and then their interpretation.
First Seal.—There seems much peculiar to the first seal as distinguishing it from the rest of the four first. For instance, “the voice of thunder” is not mentioned in any of the others; the color of the horse is the same as that on which the King of kings and the Lord of lords, with His attendant bands (in chap. 19: 11-14) ride; the color, too, used as expressive of glory (Matt. 17:2; 28:3, &c.), of divine majesty (Rev. 1), of purity (chap. 7: 9-13, &c.). Again, the rider had neither the implement of his aggressive action, nor any commission given to him—neither indebted to, nor restrained by, a commission. He possessed a bow, was recognized as conqueror by the gift of the crown, and went forth, in the energy of his own might, unordered, conquering and to conquer. The bow also is the weapon of aggressive war from the distance.
Second Seal.—The whole seal is evidently very subordinate to the preceding. No voice of thunder heard, no emphatic “I saw and behold;” but simply, “there came forth another horse, red,” with a rider on its back: he has no power of his own, like the first; no implement of his own, like the first and third; nor any name, like the fourth. And though the action be more definite than the first, it is of narrower range, and in character lower than that of any of the rest. No commission is definitely given to him, but only liberty and authority to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; liberty and authority (the great sword), that is, to do that to which there is in fallen man the fullest propensity and readiness, just simply when left to himself. Who can remember the first scenes of man's history, after his exclusion from Eden, and not sigh at this likeness of fallen Adam stamped upon our Cainish race?
Third Seal.—Besides the announcement of the living creature, “Come and see,” and John's emphatic “I saw and behold,” there is a peculiar energy in this vision” there was a black horse, and its rider self-possessed of his implement;” his commission also is definitely given either by Him that sat upon the throne or the Lamb, for they only were in the midst of the four living creatures whence the voice came. The commission is very definite, but in nature it is very high; because, to an office not altogether above the range of man, but one most closely connected with the testimony God has been pleased to give of Himself even to the heathen, in fruitful seasons—to the regulation of famine. The corn and the barley, the oil and the wine, are all had in remembrance.
Fourth Seal.—The natural name and attendant of the fourth rider (whose horse was greenish-white), Death: his name and Hades his pursuivant, give him (as well as the language in which he is described) distinction. His service is not under a formally given commission, even as the second, yet more is implied here, I think, than there. There it is said, “it was given to him to take peace from the earth and a great sword;” but here, “power was given to them [both] to kill on the fourth part of the earth with sword, and famine, and death, and the beasts of the earth.” There the second rider set others to kill one another, here these two themselves are at the deadly work. Liberty and authority to stir up the bad passions of men seem to be less of commission than the communication of power to mow down a fourth of the earth, not only by the sword, which is in man's hand—in one sense at least—but also by famine, death, and the wild beasts, which are in God's. The pre-eminence of this rider also is seen in the power conceded to him to use those things over which the two preceding riders were set.

Foundation of Christianity (Fragment)

The foundation of Christianity is that I pass through death. If I held myself always for dead, Satan would have no hold on me. Why have you sinned? You have let the flesh act; you have acted as a child of Adam. A child of God sinneth not.

Publishing

The Bible Treasury
No. 287. APRIL, 1880. Pride 3d.; by Poet add.
CONTENTS.
PAGE
The Mount of God.-Ex. 19-40 49
Unbelief on the way—Num. 11 52
Notes on the Gospel of John—Chapter xvii. 20-21 53
Notes on 2 Corinthians—Chapter vi. 11-13 54
Spirituality—Gal. 6:1 55
The Holy Spirit in relation to testimony corporate and
individual 58
Rulers [or those that guide], and Clergy 61
Remarks on the Revelation 63
Fragment 64

The Mount of God: Part 2

Ex. 19-40
I have already looked at Horeb, “the Mount of God,” as the witness of grace and glory, or of redemption and the kingdom, being the spot where the Lord of Israel first showed Himself in the burning bush, the symbol of grace or salvation, and afterward displayed the glories and joys of the kingdom in the intercourse of Jethro with the ransomed tribes of Israel.
But though all this has passed, the congregation are still in the same place; and the place, as we shall now see, is still giving us to read its title to be called “the Mount of God.”
In the opening of our present chapters we reach the third month since the exodus. A new era is thus noticed by the Spirit, and accordingly new scenes and new thoughts will be found to unfold themselves. The heart of the people is here called into exercise. Moses the mediator passes and re-passes between them and the Lord; and all this tests the mind that was in them, and ends in proving the security of the natural man, and his confidence in himself to do all that the Lord shall command. (Chap. 19.)
But this their way was their folly. They had been brought out of Egypt by Him who dwelt in the bush, “the God of grace,” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and the same hand had led them through the desert up to the mount where “the God of glory” had in figure shown His kingdom and joy to them. But now, as soon as the Lord, having thus shown what He was, turns, as it were, to inquire what they were, and whether they would now trust in themselves rather than in Him, the ground of the heart is discovered. Man is found to be self-confident and boastful, ready to enter upon terms with God, rather than be simply debtor to Him for grace and glory.
Accordingly this mount, where all so lately was the peace and honor of the kingdom in the presence of Jethro, now on the departure of that mysterious stranger becomes the fiery mount. It puts on new attributes altogether. It is preparing itself to consume the sinner, a mount of blackness and darkness and tempest, where the voice of God is heard in righteousness, where the ten words (or the covenant of the law of works), putting man to the trial which he had too confidently submitted to, are now to be published.
But what will such trial end in? It must leave all their comeliness as rottenness. The burning mount of the law here gives them at once to know the terribleness of that righteousness which they had challenged, and they can but cry out in the fear of it. (Chap. 20.)
This, however, so far was as it should be. This cry of fear was the proper seasonable fruit of the ground on which Israel now stood, as the Lord Himself afterward says. (Deut. 5, 18.) And according to this fear they stand afar off. But the mediator draws near to the thick darkness where God was, and there, as between the Lord of Israel and His people, he receives the statutes of the kingdom which were to make Israel the Lord's nation-a separated people, who were to have the Lord for their God and King, bearing His image and superscription upon them. And he is promised also an angel to go before him, presiding, as it were, over this covenant of the nation, in whom the name of the. Lord of Israel was to be; so that if they obeyed Him they should be blest, but, if they refused, He would not pardon their transgressions. (Chaps. 21-23.)
The mediator having thus received the book of the statutes of the realm, and the promise of the angel of the covenant, the covenant itself is solemnly sealed. It is dedicated with blood. (Heb. 9:18, 19) The altar and the twelve pillars are raised, and the altar is sprinkled. Then the book of the covenant is read; and, on the people undertaking obedience, they are sprinkled likewise. Thus Jehovah and Israel are joined in the conditional covenant, the blessing of which rested on their allegiance; and the representatives of the nation are called up to eat and drink in the presence of the God of Israel. For all as yet is reconciliation, the blood of the covenant being upon them, and no trespass as yet committed. It was the sight of “the God of Israel” they now get. They may look unhurt and unalarmed. There is no danger of gazing here as there had been when the law of the ton words was delivered. (Chap. 19: 21.) It may last but for a short moment, but this is a sample of that day when the God of Jeshurun shall be known as riding on the heavens for Israel's help, and in His excellency on the sky (Deut. 33.); when the King shall be seen in His beauty, when Zion shall be a quiet habitation, a city of solemnities, and the glorious Lord shall be there, Lawgiver, Judge, and King. (Isa. 33) The glory did not make them afraid, the hand of such an one was not heavy upon them. There He was in all His honor, but they could eat and drink before Him. (Chap. 24.)
Thus the covenant in which the nation was now to stand is settled, the parties to it bound, and the whole avouched and concluded. Moses is then called to take up another position. And this is done with due solemnity also. His minister, Joshua, accompanies him a certain stage, but he goes upward to the mount where the Lord was. The glory was still there, as devouring fire in the eyes of the children of Israel, but the cloud covers it for six days. Then on the seventh (expressive, it may be, of the rest into which Moses was now about to be conducted, beyond all the terror of the fiery mount), the voice of the Lord out of the cloud calls him, and Moses goes up into the midst of it, and gets him into the mount. Hitherto he had been either on a level with the people, while the ten commandments, the moral law, was delivered, or it little separated from them as the mediator of the nation, while the statutes of the realm were published. But now he enters into further intimacies with the Lord. He is called to the top of the hill, beyond the region of darkness and thunder altogether. The heads of the nation are left in the camp, the vision of the God of Israel is folded up, and he is called to the very midst of the cloud, where the Lord was dwelling and shining.
But he is not long there before we learn the secrets of that holy place, and how it was that he got there, and in what that virtue lay which could enable him to pass, as it were, all the devouring fire unharmed. He is there in company with Christ. That is the secret. The shadows of good things to come there pass before him, and one by one tell out the glorious truth-that God can be a just God, and yet a Savior-that He can conduct a sinner safely up the fiery mount, without the smell of it passing on him. For Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth. God's claims in righteousness are all answered in the person and obedience of Jesus. The brazen altar, with all that intervened from that to the mercy-seat itself in the holiest, is shown here to Moses. All pass in review before him. And the minister of the sanctuary, in his mystic garments, is shown to him also. And thus he learns Christ in His fullness; and, learning this, he learned how he could stand in such peaceful communion with God beyond the summit of the fiery mount. He saw in Him that mercy could rejoice against judgment; that provision was made in Him, and by Him, for the discharge of sin, for the magnifying of the law, fur the acceptance of the sinner, and for the letting out the full flow of boundless and unmingled goodness to save and to bless us. (Chaps. 25-31.)
All this, however, was to Moses only. The people were still within view of the mount as a mount of devouring fire. (Chap. 24: 17.) And they speedily show themselves to be material fit for such fire, vessels fitted to destruction, incurring the vengeance of that holy place, by refusing the very first voice that had issued from it. For instead of having none other gods than the Lord who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, they take a golden calf, which their own hands had made, to be their god. This was entire forfeiture of all blessing under that covenant; and in token of that, Moses, on returning down the hill, breaks the tables of the law to pieces, and never puts them into their hands to keep and to do them. (Chap. 32.)
This was a great moment for the discovery of what man was. O how differently the path of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had ended, the God of grace and salvation, who dwelt in the bush! He had led them forth in entire safety out of Egypt, the place of the taskmasters. Not a dog had wagged its tail against them, not a hoof was left behind, not a feeble person was among their tribes; all harnessed and full-handed they had gone forth; and He never left them, as we saw just now in our previous paper, never forsook them through the droughty desert, till He had planted them in the joy and glory of “the Mount of God.” But they then trusted in themselves and took their own way; and all now is closed in disaster and ruin, the very pledges of their covenant, the ground of their confidence, being shattered to pieces. This was sad and shameful indeed. But while we thus mark their sin, we are called to see their repentance also. They mourn on hearing the word and anger of the Lord. They put off their ornaments. They go outside the camp, as conscious that the place of convicted sinners or unclean lepers became them. They watch the ways of the mediator, and stand adoring. And, may I not add, that they feel unable to stand before the bright light of righteousness, so that Moses has to veil his face? (Chaps. 33, 34.)
All this was repentance, the way of poor convicted, self-condemned sinners. And while they are thus, the Lord is preparing something blessedly suited to them. He makes known to them His secret. Moses delivers the patterns of heavenly things to them. And all that they have to do for their full comfort is to follow by faith this unfolding of God's counsels concerning them. They have only to do according to the patterns, and they shall soon read their title to unmixed blessing. Just like Noah. He had only to build an ark according to God's command, and he should soon find that he was building something for his own safety. Obedience was his blessing. And so here. They have but to render the obedience of faith, by just giving forms and substances to the patterns as Moses commends, fold then they will see in the sanctuary a refuge and relief for guilty sinners destroyed by the thunders of Sinai, as they now were.
And so they do. Blessedly are they here seen rendering the obedience of faith and of a changed mind. They do all for the tabernacle, as Moses commands, and that too with willing hearts, so that he has to restrain their zeal and devotedness. And with all this willingness, there was no willfulness, for they are careful to follow the patterns in all things that all may be according to God's purpose, though rendered willingly by them.
All this was further proof of repentance. I do not know that in any period of their history we see them in a healthier, happier, condition of soul than now during their making of the tabernacle. The materials were supplied by the willing offerings of the people, and the silver half-shekels which they had paid as atonement-money. These materials were then fashioned by workmen divinely skilled, according to patterns divinely exhibited. And when all was finished, they brought it to Moses; and Moses had but to say of it, that it was all good, all according to God, and to bless them. Judgment they reaped before (chap. 32: 28), but now blessing. (Chap. 39: 43.) Then after all had been finished for the sanctuary in this obedience of faith, the mediator presents the whole in due form to God, compacted, as it were, and fitly framed together; and then the Lord has only to crown and quicken it all with His presence. The cloud rests on it, and the glory enters into it. (Chaps. 35-40.)
And other fruit of repentance continues to be produced, while they remain round “the Mount of God.” Thus their waiting on the consecration of Aaron (Lev. 8; 9), their clearing of themselves of the blasphemer (chap. 24.), their dedication of the altar (Num. 7), their surrender of their brethren, the Levites, to the service of the house of God (chap. viii.), their keeping of the passover (chap. 9.), and, finally, their Quitting of the mount in holy order, the light and approval of the Lord resting in full satisfaction upon them (chap. 10.): all this evidences their state of faith and obedience. And there is no public trespass committed from the day of the golden calf till they leave Horeb. They maintain their place and allegiance all through, and finally move onward to the land of promise under the unfurled banner of the Lord God of Israel.
Thus it is indeed that the Lord now meets them; not as obedient servants, but as pardoned sinners. As debtors to obedience under the burning mount, they did not stand for a moment; but in His own grace the Lord provides a sanctuary of salvation for them, and there they rejoice as pardoned sinners, debtors to mercy. And how truly blessed their new standing is! They come into vision of things altogether differing from the fire on the hill. The form of something that Moses himself had seen, in regions far higher than that of the lightning and thunder, now fills their vision also. They now get into his secret. If he then stood in peace beyond all the reach and terror of the law, so may they now. Christ in His fullness and grace, and not the law in its judgments, was bore. Here was an altar shown to them that could attract the fire from the mount, and let it spend itself on the victim that was there, and not on the people around. Here was provision in God Himself for all the mischief which man had wrought, and all the penalty he had incurred. Mercy was here heard to rejoice over judgment.
This is what “the Mount of God” now tells us; and thus telling of God Himself and His ways, it shows us again its title to be honored with such a name. Here God first showed Himself in the burnings and thunders of this mount, to tell us of the terribleness of righteousness; but then here He showed Himself also in the shadowy tabernacle pitched at the foot of it, to tell us of His provision in Jesus to let mercy rejoice over judgment. And thus He is still declared here. His name is still written on this holy hill, the name of the just God, and yet the Savior. The tables of testimony, as we find here (see also Deut. 10:1-5), are now laid up in the ark, that is, magnified and made honorable in the person of the Lord of the temple, while sinners who come up to worship see only provision for their sins in the various furniture of the sanctuary. And if sinners now (as the tribes might have read their names on the priest's breast-plate) will by faith only see themselves borne on the heart of Jesus before God, they may know at the same time, to the full repose of their consciences, that the law is there before them. As he says, “thy law is within my heart.” So that the sinner's blessing and salvation is thus kept in closest intimacy and company with God's fullest praise and honor in righteousness. The sinner is borne on that heart in which God's law has been kept and treasured up. These tales of redeeming grace, which are here told out at this mystic mount, are indeed wonderful, beloved. The glory now changes its place. It had seated itself, as we have seen, like devouring fire on the top of the hill (Ex. 24:17), but now it comes down to fill the tabernacle that was pitched at the foot of it. In its first place it was death to approach it. If so much as a beast did then but touch the border of it, it was to be stoned or thrust through. But now it is life to come up to it. If a poor trembling sinner now do but touch the hem of it, she shall be made whole.
And we may well know the readiness with which the glory thus changes its place. It was its own delight to do so. As our hymn says, beloved, “'Tis His great delight to bless us-O how He loves!” To quit the fiery mount, and seat itself in the sanctuary; to put the place of judgment behind it, and to fill the place of grace; this was its happy path. As afterward, when it came to occupy the house which Solomon built for it, it took its throne there with full complacency. “Arise into thy resting-place,” said Solomon. “This is my rest forever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it;” answered the Lord. It was the good pleasure; the desire of the glory, to fill the place. And so when it does come down actually (as we see here, and also in 2 Chron. 5), it spreads itself, if I may so speak; it stretches itself out as though it felt itself at home. The holy and most holy places are filled, and its train so flows forth into the courts, that neither Moses now, nor the priests then, could stand to minister.
But what comfort this is to the poor sinner, that the Lord delights to take those paths which thus bring Him into the midst of His people in grace and with blessing! They are not strange or uneasy to Him. And what have we sinners to do, but to let the blessed Lord take His own way of grace with us? It is true that we have, like Israel, by our golden calves sinned away all right to blessing. But it is as true that the Lord has spread out before us His golden sanctuary, furnished with its altars, its laver, and its mercy-seat, to tell us of His abounding grace, and Christ's victory for sinners. I learn salvation in Jesus from that same word which tells me I have destroyed myself. And there is not a thing in God's sanctuary that does not tell of mercy through Jesus. No trace, no voice, of judgment or of death, is there. And we have to shout, like Israel, at the door of this sanctuary. (Lev. 9:24.) And this is faith. Love may bring services afterward to testify obedience, but faith first tells God of His goodness. The glory has taken its path from the fiery top of the hill to the mercy-seat in the sanctuary; and we have only by faith to follow it-to follow it as simply as it has moved willingly, and thus to meet our God, not in the fires of judgment, but in the dwellings of love and peace.

Unbelief on the Way

The Book of Numbers gives us the history of the journeying of the Israelites in the wilderness and of their continual rebellion. As the history of God's people, it is most encouraging, inasmuch as it exalts God and shows all His patience toward His people. Toward the end of the journey, God gives this judgment that He has not seen iniquity in Jacob.
Israel encamped at the commandment of the Lord; the ark of the covenant conducted them. God gave them in everything directions. After that the ark had directed them for three days, they complained of fatigue. It is the first time that Israel complains of the road, and the beginning of the action of unbelief, even in the hearts of the faithful. After having passed the Red Sea Israel sang the song of perfect deliverance. But when it is needful to march through a desert where there is no water nor road, and where one must depend for everything on God, flesh begins to get weary and regrets the enjoyments it had in Egypt.
We may be wearied, not of God but of what we are, and of carrying this treasure in earthen vessels; nor does this weariness estrange us from God. The Lord Jesus could say, How long shall I suffer you? The flesh, when it manifests itself in presence of God, does not complain of the weariness that it finds and from which it desires relief. Notwithstanding the difficulties and the flesh, as Christ is stronger than Satan, if we were ever in presence of God, we should discover in His sight all that which is in us, we should go forth strengthened by His grace, and the flesh would not manifest itself in an evil way. The more I am in the presence of God, the more will my heart be weary of evil. This will be a weariness and a sadness according to Christ, who was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. God loves this weariness and relieves it: it proceeds from the love of Christ in us; it does not grow slack in the work nor does it yield in temptation. If I am faithful, impossible that I should not be weary of the sin that is in me.
The weariness which comes from the flesh, which does not resist, nor loves it, and yields to complaint, is not pleasing to God. (Ver. 1.) “And the LORD heard it, and his anger was kindled.” For this complaining was a rejection of Himself. They despised their Lord, though it took the form of weeping. (Ver. 20.) When the flesh is allowed activity in us, we are weary of the road and the Lord is set at naught. Such is what the flesh ever does. God takes care of everything, but the flesh finds weariness and breaks into complaint. Jehovah shows first His presence in burning fire, and consumed some in the uttermost part of the camp. It is thus Jehovah recalled them to His presence. Humiliation follows, and at Moses' intercession mercy resumes its course. There were among the people not a few whose hearts were yet in Egypt. For the journey we have need of but little; the lighter our baggage, the easier will be our march. God does not give us what would attach us to this world of sin, but what suffices for the journey toward Canaan. The worldly-minded cannot content themselves with this provision, because they have no hope of Canaan, which is not their inheritance. “And the children of Israel also wept again and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick. But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” (Vers. 4-6.)
They seek something else than God gave them as the suited food for the way. If God were to give His people some food which would bind them to the earth, it would be a misfortune. He gave them manna from heaven. “And the manna was as coriander seed, and the color thereof as the color of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.” (Vers. 7-9.) This is not our rest, nor is it here. The heart desires rest now after a fleshly sort; and the remembrance of worldly things comes up again. It is a remembrance, and not a hope. The manna that God gave day by day is the grace in Christ sufficient for the journey.
Israel do not recollect the bondage, and the bricks, and the blows in Egypt. Satan does not recall to us the miseries of the world; and God would not be satisfied in His love to us if He made us happy here below. He would not give us that which makes us forget that we are in the wilderness, traveling (not resting) here below. God would prove His grace sufficient for us. When He no longer suffices us, the activity of the flesh begins. Impossible in grace to make provision for to-morrow nor to rest on the grace of yesterday. There is no resting-place but God: absolute dependence on Himself is that which God desires. God remembers Israel every morning (allowing for the sabbath, which was no real exception) for forty years. The unbeliever may like to receive the gifts of God; the believer loves Him who gives them. If God had only given the manna once a month, He would have shown His love but once, and not every, day. God shows every moment how He loves us. To be filled with the mind of God, to depend constantly on Him, is to be in the joy of the faithful. If our eyes are not content with seeing the manna every morning, we despise the love of God. Are we happy to be wholly dependent on God?
Moses was justly displeased (ver. 10), but he failed in faith. “And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers? Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favor in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.” (Vers. 11-15.)
He forgets that the difficulty is before God, and that it concerns God. The disciples in the ship tossed by the tempest were afraid, as if with Jesus they could perish As God has bound up His glory with our interests, our unbelief separates our interests from the glory of God. It is the greatest chastening from God when He gives that which the flesh craves. “Say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and, ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; but even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?” (Vers.18-20.) He strikes at the same time. “And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's journey on the other aide, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth. And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was showed, the wrath of the Loan was kindled against the people, and the LORE emote the people with a very great plague. And he called the name of that place Kibroth-hattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.” (Vers. 31-34.) The Israelites at the sight of the quails ought to have confessed their sin and returned to the Lord. On the contrary they feasted on the quails to the satisfying of their lusts, and were punished.

Notes on John 17:20-21

The Lord now proceeds to plead for those to be brought into faith in Him by apostolic testimony that they too might form a unity according to God and bear witness before the world to His mission of the Son. Verse 11 had contemplated only those disciples who were then surrounding Him in view of special grace and the consequent responsibility which attached to them.
“And not for these only do I ask, but also for those that believe on me through their word, that they may be all one, even as thou, Father, in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou didst send me.” (Vers. 20, 21.)
There was to be, as we have seen, an astonishing exhibition of unity in the apostles. But there is another and larger unity here. Those believing on Him through their word are now presented to the. Father, “that they may be all one.” Room is thus left for multitudes of believers, for confessors of His name, Jew or Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; for those that had hitherto clung tenaciously to legal forms, the substance of which they refused through their unbelief of Him; for those that had been well-nigh as obstinate in cleaving to the dreams of heathenism and its debasing immorality, in utter ignorance of the only true God only known through Him whom He sent. The gospel was about to go forth to every land and in every tongue, as the Holy Ghost bore witness on the day of Pentecost; and the more strikingly on that day, because they as yet were Jews only from Gentile countries as well as Palestine, and the miracle was not the obvious and comparatively easy one of enabling all, home or foreign sons of Israel, to understand the wonderful works of God in the Hebrew tongue, but conversely that they, every man in his own dialect in which they had been born, should hear the disciples speak. God has of old smitten men's pride and divided them into ever so many differing tongues. Grace now rose above judgment, not reducing them all to one lip and the same words, but meeting each where thus scattered. Nor was this all; but the power of the Spirit baptized all the believers into one body, the church. The unity here however, though produced of course by the same Spirit in those who compose that body, is not that which fell to the apostle Paul to set out. Of a spiritual nature it nevertheless displays itself in that which the world can see and appreciate in measure. It is not precisely “one as we,” that is, as the Father and the Sons which verse 11 had predicated of the disciples. As the Father and the Son had but one mind and affection, purpose and way, so was this oneness desired for the apostles in their work and life; and wondrously was it realized in them as we have already noticed. Here the saints at large, those who believe through their word, are in view; and the thing sought is that they should be “all one,” “even as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” —not “as we” but “in us,” in the Father and the Son. It is communion in virtue of the Father made known in the Son, and of the Son the object of the Father's love and delight, into which we are brought by the Holy Ghost. With the Father we share the Son; with the Son we share the Father. Into this blessedness the saints were now for the first time to be introduced, and in such sort that they should be all one, even as the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father, so they also one in the Father and the Son.
This was to be a testimony to the world, not preaching only, but this oneness so singular, so unprecedented among men, oneness in the joy of divine grace which drew together souls so diverse and by the power of divine objects, motives and affections, those who had been once utterly indifferent or bitterly opposed, hating and hated. What a call for the world to believe that the Father sent the Son! For this and this only, but this adequately, accounted for it, when the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven gave the truth energy in hearts purified by faith. For as flesh tends to scatter by the assertion of its own will, so the Spirit operates to unite in the Father and the Son; and when the world sees the fruits of such gracious and holy power in the oneness of men otherwise alienated, and by nothing so keenly and permanently as their varying religions, what a demonstration that the Father sent the Son! For here at least was no power of the sword, here no pandering to lust, here no inducement of wealth or worldly honor, here no allowance any more of sin than of human righteousness, no pride of philosophy any more than religious show or ritualism. None can deny that as built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets there was constant and unresisting exposure to the world's scorn and violence. Self-sacrificing love reigned, grace we may say through righteousness in devotedness to the name of Jesus; and a heavenly separateness to Him for whom they avowedly waited from heaven. What then accounted for so astonishing a change from all that had previously characterized mankind, not merely among the Gentiles but in Israel even in its most flourishing estate? What did it attest but that the Father sent the Son? What of grace and truth, of perfect and eternal redemption, of near and heavenly relationship, does not this involve?
For if the Father sent the Son, it could not but be for ends impossible otherwise and worthy of the true God revealing Himself in sovereign grace, yea in intimate love, as well as in the light which makes everything manifest. Nor was the Son only to make the truth known and to impart the divine nature, the eternal life, capable of receiving and enjoying it and walking in it by the Spirit of God. There was an incomparably solemn yet blessed work to be wrought to God's glory as well as for man's deep need and everlasting salvation: sin had to be borne in judgment, a propitiation made for our sins so complete that God should be righteous in justifying the believer, and that believers should become God's righteousness in Christ. Thus washed, sanctified, justified, children of God consciously, the Holy Ghost given, they find others in the communion of the same blessing; they are all one, as the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father, and brought out as they are of the strongest prejudices into a mutuality of enjoyed blessedness, into oneness in the Father and the Son, what could more powerfully bear witness to the world that the Father sent the Son?

Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:11-13

Having closed the blessed sketch of Christian service from its source and power to its moral characteristics and effects, the apostle now turns to the saints with the expression of unhindered affection. There had been a barrier to that expression in their state; but God had wrought in grace, and they had in a great measure judged themselves, and faith working by love looked for all that is worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing. Hence he could say—
“Our mouth is open unto you, Corinthians, our heart is expanded: ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels; now for the same requital be expanded also yourselves.” (Vers. 11-13.)
Love was no longer driven back, for God was at work; and joy and thankfulness open the lips, as sorrow isolates where sympathy fails. So he can and does speak freely. “Our mouth is open unto you, Corinthians.” He similarly names the Galatians (chap. 3: 1), and the Philippians (chap. 4: 15); but each with a characteristic difference. The Galatians he blames severely, as senseless and bewitched, for turning aside from faith and the Spirit to law and flesh. To the Philippians he mentions that they alone had the privilege of communicating with him at the beginning of the gospel as now when the apostle was drawing near his close. The personal address to the Corinthians lies between those two. He could not accord to them that token of confidence in their spiritual simplicity and unworldliness which the Philippians had enjoyed first and last; whilst he is pouring out the fullness of his heart on the restored condition of the Corinthians instead of the stern censure on the Galatians. “Our heart is expanded,” Lo says. There can be no doubt that this is the word and sense intended. But it is an instructive fact that the two oldest and best uncials unite in a positive and evident error. The Vatican and the Sinaitic uncials give your, not “our.” Such facts should correct the exaggerated confidence of some in a few very ancient copies. The context has its grave importance where the external authorities differ. Here there can be no doubt that the mass of other and later authorities is right. The argument requires “our” imperatively, if ever so many voices had pronounced differently.
There was no narrowness in the apostle. His heart was ever large; and now he could show them so. It was in their own affections the Corinthians were contracted. (Ver. 12.) There was free and full room in his heart for them, but not in theirs for him. They had been lax, and he is about to warn them solemnly on this head; they were still narrow. How great an error to count narrowness fidelity, whereas it may well go as here with laxity! In the apostle we see largeheartedness with real holiness; and they too go together. But the apostle counts yet more on grace, and as he had declared how his heart was expanded, instead of being shut up, he adds, “and for the same requital (or, for requital in the same), I speak as to children, be expanded also yourselves.” (Ver. 13.) Love never fails; and that their affections should answer his was the only recompense he sought at their hands.

Spirituality

Gal. 6:1
Those who have received the Spirit are not for that reason spiritual as here meant— “Ye that are spiritual.” All the Galatians had received the Spirit, as we know from chapter 3, where the apostle asks them the question in verse 2, “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
They were being enticed back to the law after having the Spirit, which they did not receive by the works of law. It was retrogression, thus seeking perfection in the flesh. But they had the Spirit, and the way that they received Him was by the hearing of faith. What had Paul preached in the regions of Galatia?
Was it not Christ crucified which he had “set forth amongst them?” The Holy Ghost can testify to nothing else, in giving liberty and a sense of sonship, and by this truth, namely, “Christ crucified,” preached amongst them and believed, they had received the Spirit, and knew that they were sons. Blessing was by the hearing of faith, as curse by the law.
Yet were they not for that reason all spiritual—at least we may say when he wrote to them. The power and source of spirituality they had by receiving the Spirit. But some needed restoration, and it was not anyone who was able to restore such, even though they might not as yet have been overtaken in a fault themselves; they were in a feeble state of soul, and had not wisdom nor strength to assist others who had sunk below feebleness into a fault.
The spiritual only had ability to help; the Spirit could work deliverance and restoration for others through them, fit instruments for His work, when others were not. How, then, comes this, when all had received the Spirit as believers at the first? It is from this; that there was another power in them besides the Spirit, and other influences brought to bear upon them than what were from Him, the “Spirit of truth,” who testified of Christ. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other; in order that ye may not do the things that ye would.” (Chap. 5:17.)
It is plain that thus the flesh had hindered. They had not “walked in the Spirit,” and, because they had not, the lusts of the flesh had been fulfilled. At first they had run well, but they had been hindered through having turned back to the flesh by the law, and thus manifested the flesh, and not the Spirit, in their state and ways. Hence the apostle has to make the selection. The spiritual alone could help when the general state was low, and some had been overtaken in a fault. These (the spiritual) had walked in the Spirit. He ungrieved not only dwelt in them, as He had sealed them, but ruled them, and was listened to; and the flesh was not yielded to: this made all the difference in their state, and thus, in this state only, they could help others who wore needy, and lift up those who were fallen. This is our individual resource, and the resource of the church, when things are low and in confusion. The Holy Ghost, though often grieved and discarded, has not returned to (heaven (and what a mercy and comfort this is, and an unfailing power available to us!) leaving all to man's will and way.
Who, then, are the spiritual? I suppose that by their fruits we are to know them. Neither is this difficult, nor far to seek. The apostle had just before written, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” The law was on the side of the spiritual: though it had not made them to be so, yet it approved of them as such. The command to love God and our neighbor, given by the law, did not give the power to do it, and thus the law was weak through the flesh. The Spirit, working through faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified, produces love by a new nature, which the law never gave. Now the moment that love is there, the law is fulfilled; for “love is the fulfilling of the law,” and we love God and our neighbor. Those who have the Spirit have this, and it is the bags of all. “We love him because he first loved us,” and “love worketh no ill to his neighbor.” The first three fruits mentioned are the individual state, and enjoyment of “the spiritual,” that which ought to continue in everyone without interruption. But it does not always, as we know. “Thou hast left thy first love,” as is said by the Lord. And here, in the Galatians, it had not continued, though they had started well, having received the Spirit.
The spiritual had gone on well, and the fruits had continued to be manifested in them. The power was with all, and they all ought to have gone on well, and might too. Alas, how often is this the case! We cannot guarantee spirituality always in any. Peter was spiritual on the day of Pentecost, as on many more occasions; but he was not “when certain came from James,” and he dissembled because of them, refusing to eat with the Gentile believers (as given in this same epistle), beloved Barnabas (that “good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith") being carried away also with their dissimulation. Paul, pre-eminently faithful, purposed in his own spirit to go to Jerusalem, and carried it out, though “the Spirit forbad him.” (Compare Acts 20:22; 21:4.) If then these, so eminent as servants, and in whom the Spirit wrought so mightily, thus (through nature and associations, with even true zeal for the Lord's glory, as Paul) failed to be ruled by that Holy Guide who dwelt in them, how much more we in these last days of evil, sorrow, and weakness! Solemn truth, that to have the Spirit is not necessarily always to be spiritual!
The apostle would not write thus to his beloved Thessalonians: “Ye that are spiritual,” for such they all were, as manifested in their “work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” With joy of the Holy Ghost,” their faith to Godward was spread abroad, so that we need not to speak anything.” The fruits of the Spirit in them were manifest to all. They were walking in the Spirit, to the praise of the Lord, and so were all spiritual. Neither in such a state did anyone need restoration. It was not so with the Galatians as a whole; and thus he falls back for restoration upon those through whom the Spirit could work, those Christ could use, in whom His voice had been listened to, who bore the fruits of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh.
Love was their state, and “He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13-16.) Joy and peace, too, were the fruits of the Spirit, and the experience of the spiritual. They rejoiced in Christ Jesus, and had no confidence in the flesh. (Phil. 3:3.) They had His joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13), besides boasting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Horn. v. 11.) They had peace with God; and “the peace of God which passeth all understanding keeping their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus:” the “peace of Christ ruled in their hearts,” for they had Christ before them. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” Such were the spiritual personally; and, being such, they could be used, and they only, to bring others into the sphere in which they themselves lived and moved, or to bring back such as had fallen from it—to restore such.
Now the manner of this is shown next by what we may call the relative fruits of the Spirit, characteristic of the spiritual, those by which they are known, and the character of their operation towards others; for spirituality is ever active in lowly love for the blessing of others to God's glory.
Spirituality then is shown, first, in a passive form “long-suffering.” What more needed in helping saints, or in the Lord's service towards the world, as in the daily walk of the saint, than long-suffering? God is “long-suffering and gracious;” so are they who have and walk in the Spirit. Difficulties are many, and the opposition great—the contradiction—of sinners, the waywardness of saints, the enmity of Satan, and the working of the flesh. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind.” It must be patient endurance, the labor of love, and if the Spirit works in us it will be, for such are the spiritual. “The God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus.” As God is patient, and Christ also, so the spiritual are long-suffering and patient.
Next we have “gentleness.” This is relative too. The spiritual are very careful to be considerate, not of and for themselves, but of others. Is overbearing, or abruptness, of Christ? Is harshness of Christ? The gentleness of a nurse cherishing her children is that by which Paul illustrates his manner of caring for and helping on the saints. “To the weak he became as weak,” &c., and this to win. A stern or short way, which stuns or snubs, is not of the Spirit, but unspiritual.
“Goodness.” As long-suffering is not stoical, things endured because they cannot be avoided, so gentleness is not assumed as an exterior polish, the fruit of education, and because roughness would be considered bad manners. Beneath both, and that which acts by both, is goodness—a “good and honest heart.” There is a difference between a righteous man and a good man. The former is upright, strict, and scrupulous as to his obligations to others, but requires from them the same in return. He does his duty, but looks sharply after others that they do theirs. A good man will do much more, without expecting returns. A righteous man may be respected; a good man is loved. He is a truly philanthropic man in God's sense. For God's philanthropy has appeared to us in Christ. (Titus 3:4.)
A good man is like God in this, and is called to be His imitator. So Eph. 5 exhorts us to be “followers of God as dear children, walking in love.” Such is the real thing at the bottom of the spiritual man's heart, and characterizing him; and this to all persons, evil and good, and in all circumstances, and thus he is “perfect, as his Father in heaven is perfect; who causeth his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” This goodness of the spiritual flows out to all, irrespective of circumstances or claims. Being reviled, he can bless; being persecuted, he can suffer it; being defamed, he can entreat; and though he be not loved, yet can he still love.
Then comes “faith,” not for the soul's salvation, nor that by which they received the Spirit by believing the gospel of “Christ crucified,” but trust, or reckoning in God by which they live, as it is written, “The just shall live by faith;” and by this they stand. The spiritual man has been taught to cease from man, and to confide in God, who is above all circumstances. By this he is led to be active, or by it to be passive; standing still or going forward as this living precious faith connects him with God in everything. In their measure the spiritual walk in the path of Him who began and ended a perfect life of faith (Heb. 12:2); and they look to Him as the only perfect one in it, though a great cloud of testifiers there had been from the beginning who had trod that path. To faith difficulties are unknown, or, if felt, do but give occasion for its exercise. God hath delivered, doth deliver, and faith says that He will still deliver—yea, from all and every evil work. This confidence in God is a lever to remove mountains, to lift up and restore fallen saints. So the “spiritual” reckon.
Yet is there no ostentation. It is not demonstrative in the way of human strength. If faith brings in God, it shuts out man, and thus can afford to take a low place in His presence, and in the presence of man too, shown in “meekness.” The “spiritual” have not only come to Christ, who gave them rest when laboring from a guilty conscience, but they have “learned of him who was meek and lowly in heart;” and this in the face of “the contradiction of sinners against himself.” He did not cry nor strive; neither must the “servant of the Lord” strive, but meekly instruct those who oppose themselves, that thus peradventure God may give them repentance. We know one who lost his characteristic meekness, and said in haste, “Ye rebels, shall we bring water for you out of the rock?” and by it lost a place in the promised land. In the spiritual love abides, and “doth not vaunt itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked.” How these moral traits, as fruits of the Spirit, seen and manifested in the “spiritual,” dovetail one into the other! The links are one inseparable chain produced by the Holy Ghost in those who “walk in the Spirit.”
This divine power works thus in man, and produces what man was a stranger to, and what the world had never witnessed till the Holy Ghost came down on the day of Pentecost, and made them all of one heart and one soul, leading them to meek and quiet testimony in the face of trial and persecution. Low thoughts of self the spiritual would have in the Lord's service towards others, seeking their profit in meekness, “in lowliness of mind, esteeming others better than themselves.” (Phil. 2) So, if any desired to oversee and look after the church (1 Tim. 3) “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”
It is a good work to be occupied in the well-being of the saints; but there are qualifications needed, amongst which we find, “No striker but patient, not a brawler.” And why so? Because such will find in serving the saints that their patience is amazingly taxed, and, if not kept in the spirit of meekness, they soon become irritated, and striking or brawling is the result, when, instead of gaining any that may need restoration, they but make bad worse. So Titus 1:7, “Not self-willed, not soon angry, no striker.” Such were the bishops (overseers) to be, and if not such, how could they “take care of the church of God?” If not such, they were not “spiritual,” and could not help nor restore any. The Spirit did not act in them, but the flesh.
Lastly, “temperance” is given as a fruit of the Spirit. The spiritual would not act rashly or hastily.
He that believeth shall not make haste.” They would be preserved from excess. They, as to the feelings and judgment, would keep the mind evenly poised and unbiased. The loins of the mind being girded up, they would be sober. So Titus gives us, as needed for an overseer, “sober, temperate.”
Thus the “spiritual,” having the mind unbiased by temperance, have not the judgment warped. “He that is spiritual judgeth all things,” and this by the word, as in 1 Cor. 14:37, “If any man think himself to be spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that we write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” And thus are we preserved from error by the word. A person might suppose himself to be spiritual because he had by the Spirit a great gift; but this did not follow at all as a consequence, as we see at Corinth: the moral fruits of the Spirit were lacking there, and this because they were not walking in the Spirit, but walking as men, and carnal. It was not Christ and all in relation to Him, but man and things in relation to him. They were not spiritual, but carnal. The thing lacking was God's love working in them, as we see in chapter 13. Tongues might be there, prophesying there, the understanding of all mysteries; and all knowledge, and even faith to remove mountains; yet all was nothing if love were not there. “Knowledge puffeth up; love buildeth up.”
They had forgotten God's ways in grace by His Spirit, forming them morally like Himself, like Christ, who walked according to God here; they were using the power and knowledge which they had received for their own aggrandizement; they were puffed up, and had lost the sense of what God required in the place where His grace had put them. Spirituality, then, is not knowledge intellectually held, but is primarily a thing of the heart and affections, the Spirit of God forming these according to Christ. The believer, by grace, having God to dwell in him, and he in God, manifests it in every way, as Christ walked and manifested God in grace to man. The new man is also “renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” (Col. 3:10.) And the mind is renewed, “that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12)
Thus does the Spirit of God work still, and by these fruits are the spiritual ever known. The Holy Spirit is still here thus to work: may it be ours to know His working, and leading, and transforming power, through occupying us with Christ, having all that opposes set aside in our hearts and minds; and this for our own joy and strength, and for the lifting up and blessing of the saints of God, to His praise, who only worketh thus to His glory!

The Holy Spirit in Relation to Testimony Corporate and Individual

The latter part connects itself with the former, with this difference: the one is His presence in the church; the other in individuals. We must bear it in mind, to understand the doctrine of the Holy Ghost; we must not confound the working of the Holy Ghost in the church with the general working of God. It was not a question of dwelling in creation. By the Spirit God garnished the heavens. In scripture, whenever there is any act of God upon creation, it is the Holy Spirit that does it, not shutting out, of course, the agency of Father and Son. By the Spirit Jesus cast out demons. We must bear this in mind to understand what was said “The Holy Ghost was not yet,” and may cease to be in one sense, as Jehovah created the heavens and the earth long before He dwelt in Jerusalem. Jehovah was acting in the same power long before He dwelt in Jerusalem, and He is working in the same scene since He left it. Therefore no extent of the Holy Ghost's operation in individuals is necessarily connected with its being the “habitation of God through the Spirit.” Now the church is the habitation of God. The Trinity having been manifested, we in a special manner come to be God's dwelling-place in the church. There is the operation of the Spirit, for which man is responsible as a natural being, and also the record of this which increases man's responsibility. In the same way the law was given to Israel; and they were responsible for this and the testimony. So now there is the whole Bible, for which we are responsible, even where there is not life.
It is not merely the existence of creation as a natural thing, but that there is in it a testimony for God. For though man's will is opposed to God, yet all His ways and doings are absolutely and excellently adapted to man, as there are natural feelings which show out God's relation as a Father. Thus the existence of certain things is not only a testimony, but the Spirit of God intends them to teach certain truth. So with the Jews-” Hear ye my voice;” and Stephen said, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost"-not a question of giving life, but of responsibility. We must remember that the effect of the fall facilitates all this. Two things came in by the fall-the knowledge of good and evil. In the very act of guilt man got this. Secondly, in the fall Man got into a state of certain wretchedness and ruin for the life of God; we see there was wretchedness, which gave him the opportunity to make known the knowledge of His kindness. As Jesus, perfect in grace, could reach man in his sorrow, in times of death and hunger-raising the widow's son, feeding the multitude, &e. The miseries of human life came as an available opportunity for love to minister to.
We must distinguish between responsibility, will, and power. “Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life.” They are not necessarily connected. If I told my child to come, and he would not, and it was afterward proved that the door was shut, this would make no difference. If he showed the will to come, perhaps I might have opened the door. God never supposes there is life in conscience. There is a knowledge of good and evil, but Satan can act altogether on the conscience of a Hindoo widow, or of a Paul conscientiously opposing Christ; but still there is such a thing as conscience on which the Spirit of God acts. There was a sense of responsibility before the fall, but conscience, as discerning between good and evil, came in with the fall. The communication of life is a distinct living thing. Even in paradise there was the tree of good and evil, and the tree of life. The knowledge is one thing, and another is the sustaining power of Christ.
There is such a thing as conscience on which the Spirit of God acts, and presents the claims of God-even on fallen man. The law took up man in this state—that side of responsibility without life at all. Christ comes in the scene of life, and instead of putting man into the responsibility, takes it Himself, and charges Himself with it. There was the grand final question answered of the knowledge of good and evil. Christ thus gives man the responsibility of love, not of judgment. Any light previously given increases condemnation, as now when Christ is rejected. Christ not only becomes a testimony to the Jews, but that which applies to man in every possible condition of the human heart. The perfect Light in Himself, besides the perfect universality of it. I take Simeon, Anna, the thief on the cross, a godly Jew, the most wretched sinner called a dog: to the wisest man He was made wisdom-Christ to all comes in as light, to those in every position. So man is left without excuse; so we have done with the knowledge of good and evil. The law presents what we ought to do; but cannot produce the power-cannot touch the springs of men's hearts. We cannot love because we are commanded. Take a man in every condition: Christ must touch the spring, though he may resist it, and this demonstrates the perfect ruin. But still Christ is adapted to meet the affections-everything is in Him to touch the heart.
The tree of life could not heal man-if he had been allowed to touch it, he would have perpetuated his misery. Christ is another Man. The Lord from heaven, He became the source of a new life, communicating life on the ground of forgiveness. Not that we have always the consciousness of it when we first have life, though it is said, “Having forgiven you all trespasses.” That is the principle. Everything that the old man produced is looked on as dead in the grave of Jesus. Christ, having risen from the dead, has atoned for all the sin for which man is responsible. The conflict coming brings in the exercise of Mediatorship, teaching us to know God by wants. It is of great importance to know God by wants.
The moment that man separates from God, he is ruined. In this sense we are above angels. Angels were never made the center of a system as man was, and man therefore is always aiming to be a center, and Christ, the new Adam, is truly the center of a system, and it becomes horrible sin for man to be the center. The sinner is not only one who has fallen away from God, but when fallen, and everything is presented to call him back, he will not come. Here is the condition of man. Christ came into the world; man hated Him, and turned Him out of it-the extent of sin. Everything that God could present to man, He has, and man has failed when put into responsibility. This is the demonstration of the Son of man, not being merely turned out of paradise.
When Judas went out, Christ said, “Now is the prince of this world,” &c. “The judgment of this world.” Jesus died to be the source of a new life, has risen from the dead as Master over the consequences of sin, and put hereby a new ground of responsibility to man. Christ is the center of a new world and system. Now I go to a sinner, not to reclaim him, but to show him there is pardon obtained by the blood of Christ, the new ground of responsibility, as having rejected Christ. Still, there is grace in the gift offered. There is the accessibility of the place, and capability of man to enter. All may come to a room, but some may be lame, and cannot. distinguish between responsibility and the giving of life. God comes in as a Giver, and there is no responsibility in this, only as based on what is given. God was in forbearance till Christ came, because the atonement was before His mind; but the whole measure of man's responsibility was filled up before He declared His righteousness. Romans fully opens this. The life never could have been declared till the work of Christ was wrought. The consummation of man's sin being seen in the death of Christ, God brings in His own righteousness, and faith owns it in producing all manner of fruits, but only recognizing that Another had done everything. Hezekiah could only speak of the darkness of death. There was no declaration of life, any more than of righteousness. Hezekiah said, “There is no remembrance or thee.” The prophetic notices are no declaration of life.
It was only consequent on the death of Christ that God manifested life. Christ brought life and immortality (that is, incorruption) to light by the gospel, as in 2 Timothy. “Except a corn of wheat die,” &c. The Son of God becomes the life-giving power by which God acts, and the word. We get a new thing-the fact of life. The second Adam becomes a living Spirit, quickening by resurrection,” having forgiven you all trespasses.”
When God's righteousness is declared, the whole course of the saints is based on the knowledge of it. In the first sermon of Peter, in Acts, there is the full conviction of sin, and immediate joy, and now we look for fruit to the glory and praise of God. “Therefore be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Christ having the double character of taking up the law, and taking up the righteousness of God, He becomes light. The latter is our responsibility. Another thing: Christ being set up as the Head of all things, we come to the counsels and purposes of God, even that the church is to be the bride of His Son as the glorified Man. Not only Jesus glorified God, by perfect obedience, but God was glorified in Him, and we are associated with Him in His fullness. God communicates this life to the church through Christ, and the Holy Ghost thus associates with Him on the basis of the glory. In our bodies all this is to be displayed; God has been pleased in the meanwhile to display all this on the defiled earth. The church has righteousness and life, and in the world it is associated with the power of God's life, and having all the sympathies. The Holy Ghost comes into the church to dwell in it, in the energy of Christ at the right hand of God; not merely as gifts-that is not the highest-but God was there. The Holy Ghost being there, the effect is seen in the judgment of Ananias and Sapphire. They thought to have the credit of grace, when they had not grace in their hearts. The sin was the same, whether there was gift to adjudge the punishment or not. The same as Dagen falling down-God there acting for Himself. Also the power over creation, seen when the cows went straight up with the ark. Nature was not changed, but God turned it. The ark was there, whether they lowed or not. The indwelling of God in the church was not made known before the coming of Christ.
David said, “I will build God a habitation.” Now when this was said, it was a mistake, but it sprang from love, and the Spirit always notices the affections. (Psa. 132) The heart's desire was to be near His habitatation-to make Him one; but the truth is, that His own hands will make Himself a habitation. I was a defective thought, though not a wrong one. The Holy Spirit leads to holy desires. Read the song of Moses for this. “Thou hast guided them in thy strength to thy holy habitation.” There is a created scene into which God will bring His people, as in Ex. 29: “I will sanctify and dwell among,” &c. Redemption and deliverance make the way for God to dwell amongst them. God dwelt with. them in a certain sense then, and so He does in the church now. In 2 Sam. 7 you will see the same thought brought out. Until the true Solomon builds, God is going from tent to tent, till He builds a house. “Unless the Lord build the house,” &c. The church is not in a place of its own, for God has set it in heaven. In the meanwhile we are “builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.”
The giving of gifts, and all other privileges, flow from this-God the Holy Ghost dwelling in the church. Timothy was to stir up his special gift, because God had given him the Spirit of power, love, and a “sound mind.” The Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind was to control the gift. Particular gifts were thus used by the intelligence of the saints as superior to the gift in the man, God acting for the saints; and we ought to have a spiritual intelligence. Better have five words in the Spirit than the finest discourse without; and you ought to have a spiritual judgment to see the purpose to be edification. The Holy Ghost, the demonstration of God's power and goodness in the midst of the evil, is not gone away. The Holy Ghost displays God in the midst of all the wickedness of Jew and Gentile, giving us our place around Christ, the heavenly center, and surmounts the miseries that sin had brought in, in the confusion of tongues, and uses them as a proof of the wonderful works of God, proving that He was the God of Jew and Gentile. God has taken His dwelling-place here because righteousness is established in heaven. Weakness may flow if they do not walk according to His presence, and God will say, as He did to Joshua, “Ye cannot stand before your enemies.” Thus thirty men fell before Ai; and so should we in fact see manifest evil, if saints own the presence of the Holy Ghost, and do not walk consistently, more than where He is not owned.
Difference there is in gifts: those personal, such as ministry; and those He has put into the church as signs of His presence-the church set in unity with Christ. He gave persons, such as apostles, prophets, not for the display of the Holy Ghost in creation, but for the edifying the church in love (χάρισμα is used in various senses); Christ has given one to be an apostle, another to be an evangelist, &c. The ministry to the church is not displayed to the world. The Holy Ghost may make a man speak with tongues, or lead to the most common act of kindness. (See Rom. 12) Do not think you are here told to cultivate gifts, but that every act should be the working of the Holy Ghost, according to the measure of individual faith. Do not go out of your gift-ministry; wait on ministry, &c. Do not go out of your sphere-be sober. The working of the Holy Ghost is in all the various developments of the church of God. How far the sin of the church has hindered the display, or edification may be a question; but whilst the church is here, the Holy Ghost is here.
Restoring grace is not bringing back to the same place, but bestowing that which is suited for the present remedy-the deeper sense of God's grace. It is not needful to pass through sin to know this; God always prepares the vessels.
Barnabas was full of the Holy Ghost. He took up all his faculties, and, instead of thinking or acting as a man, the Holy Spirit took him up and used him for Christ.
“The truth as it is in Jesus.” This applied to doctrine. It is the new man, instead of having corrupt lusts; it is walking according to Christ. The Holy Ghost maintains His own nature, and reveals, being given us as a seal. The new nature cannot reveal. It is dependent on Christ, is athirst for God, and to it the Spirit reveals the glory of the new world. Having this new life in Christ, the Holy Ghost comes and connects our desires with Christ.
In Rom. 8, suitably to the epistle, the Holy Ghost takes another character-He takes a place in the midst of evil, and helps us in the midst of infirmities. The grieving produced by the evil around us is by Him, connected with the love of God, and thus the Holy Ghost uses all to bring the soul of the saints into sympathy with God, according to the evil around. The Holy Ghost takes notice of all in creation, natural sympathies, &c., because the judgment of the Holy Ghost enters perfectly into all that produces sorrow. He takes His place amongst the sorrows of man, and makes the hearts of the saints the place of expression, according to the will of God. The Holy Ghost, in a certain sense, just as the Son was looked on when in our tabernacle, as down here, has that particular character, and thus speaks what He hears. He reveals and gives us power to feed on what He reveals. The heart was won to the sustaining at once. There is more difficulty in guiding, as it becomes acting in responsibility, and this leads to anxiety—and except in the Christ of God, I see this anxiety. There is a guidance by knowledge, and also a guidance without knowledge.
In Christ we have everything exactly according to God. Christ, in a certain sense, had no character. He had never-failing obedience, because He was the thing to be testified about. A difference is in man's character, but not so in Christ: all was in Him that demonstrated God—tender when He should be tender, gracious when He should be gracious, faithful when He should be faithful. The apostles, who were only vessels, were not the thing itself, but only the witnesses of the thing, and had their own individual character. The Apostle Paul said, “I do not repent, though I did repent.” “My flesh had no rest,” &c. “In weakness and fear.” See the feelings of a man in its workings there-obliged to have the thorn in the flesh, an antagonistic power against the power in him, to keep him humble. God inspired him, and made Paul's own feelings to be guided by the divine life, and for our instruction in all this. I do not think the command, “Go not into Bithynia,” &c., the most blessed operation of the Spirit. This was like the government of “prohibition,” not in the intelligence of God met in communion, such as in Philippians, “Filled with the knowledge of his will with all wisdom,” &c. The divine will is as evident as possible to the spiritual mind. A vast quantity of the character of the Spirit is according to that in communion, the result of much prayer, though not necessarily resulting from prayer at the time.
Now I may be rightfully exercised about that in which five years since I was quite at rest. If we have lost ourselves, He may put it in our mind to go here or there, and it assumes a person walking with God. Assuredly we find, if we are walking humbly, God will guide us. “I will guide thee with mine eye.” If I exalt myself, God will deny me. If I have not the mind of God, and am asked, “Will you go to Hereford, or elsewhere?” if I have not the mind of God, I must pray, and this assumes I am not walking in the knowledge of God's mind. I believe Providence never guides us, it guides things. I may be going to preach in a place, and find the train gone. God has ordered things about, and I may be thankful for that; but it is not God guiding me, for I should really have gone.
Evidence of divine life and guidance of service are closely connected, but distinct. There may be a special guidance which may not be exactly taking Christ as a direct model, as when Paul was not suffered to go into Bithynia. The Holy Ghost acts for the church and in the church, and never severs from responsibility to the Head. We have seen the divine life flowing through all. Individual devotedness and brotherly love would be the same, if we were guided by the same Spirit of God, but life being an individual thing which continues in glory, as the white stone (no man knows the name, it might be insignificant to another, but it is a secret between the saint and Christ which none other knows), and He never gives up His title of knowing His sheep by name. There is a vast principle that is hung on it. The Holy Ghost is seen forming and caring for the church, ministering for the church and in it. “The same Lord” to make him a servant of Christ, and the effect of the working of the Holy Ghost. Most important it is to remember I am a servant of the Lord. The apostle states the servant to be free from all men, but his bondman.
Another point is if co-operation weakens individual responsibility, it will weaken the whole church. I get the whole body in the church. There is the eye, and ear, &c., each in its own place. Love unites in love and intelligence. The moment God puts Paul in subjection, then it was seen Paul was mighty, and the intelligence of the mind of God as to individual action. If that is not the case, there is no love in service. I see the Holy Ghost going before the church. Paul, in evangelizing, was the servant of Christ, and of nobody else. We are servants of the Lord, if walking in the same spirit; we have a common joy, and altogether free from all men as servants of Christ. Important to see individual responsibility-then I afterward see the body, which necessarily involves co-operation. See Paul acting with the most perfect independence, and in the same epistle he speaks of going up to Jerusalem for counsel of the apostles about his ministry. In another place we have co-operation in regard to individual service. The apostate mind may like to be a center; but a man conscious of weakness, depending on God, delights in co-operation and fellowship in service. Even an apostle found it sad to have no man like-minded.
I see a great politician, and he brings the most diverse means possible to promote the same end, to bear on his own point. Satan also combines the most gracious forms of human nature as well as firm independency, &c., all to bear against God, and promote the same apostasy. The Holy Ghost's power shown in the same thing. He obliterates the differences of character, and brings them to co-operate to one purpose. See a man of firm nature and a man of yielding nature: Christ has both righteousness and grace, and the measure of Christ in each is brought into subjection, keeping that which is merely individual in subjection. If there had been two Pauls, there never would have been Paul and his son Timothy in the faith. The individualization of service shows weakness.
The danger with us may be on the side of individual responsibility, or acting apart from those whose graces are necessary to the order of the church. In order to this, it is necessary that Christ should be the common object of all; and, after all, to so trust Christ, that He will care for us individually. A person like Paul I could see unconsciously had Timothy under his eye. Christ could direct all alike as one subjected to Paul, others perhaps alone. The Holy Ghost acts and works in subordination to Christ. One truth pushed alone will lead to absolute heresy. The Spirit divides to everyone several, as He will, acting in His divinity, yet always as taking the things of Christ-taking His place of glorifying Christ.

Rulers and Clergy

The principle of Heb. 13:17 (to which I would add 1 Thess. 5:12, 13 Cor. 16:15, 16) is in our days more important than ever, because a regular authority, established by the apostle and confirmed by his sanction, no longer exists. Only one thing modifies the application, namely, that the case which is in question in these verses is so extensive generally in practice that it has not the same hold on the conscience.
Then on the other side God permits jealousy of the clergy, the pre-eminent bane of the church, the great barrier to the progress of souls. Clericalism is opposed to the progress necessary for their deliverance from the influences of this present age and from the principles which carry away the exterior church in the way of perdition which will be accomplished in the last days. Whatever the case be, examine the effect of a clerical position, and you will find souls stunted, hardly any spiritual growth, or intelligence in the ways of God.
As to the moral state of individuals, I believe that it consists in many cases in despising the influence God gives the services rendered to His church by the power of His Spirit. But as soon as this influence is placed between the action of the conscience and God, the clerical principle is established, and moral decline begins.
The relation of individual conscience with God is the great true principle of Protestantism, without doubt much buried now by what has happened to it. It is not the right to judge for oneself, as they say, but the direct relation of the conscience with God. “We must obey God rather than man.”
Man has no right to judge; but no more has he the right to interfere between God and man so as to intercept the direct action of God on the conscience. The ordinary interpretation of this principle of Protestantism is the root of rationalism; the denial of this same principle, taken in its true sense, is Popery. The true relations between God and the soul preserve the Christian from each of these errors. When there is only man, he has only room for the one or for the other of these two things, because it is but a question of man. If God enters the case, He can have neither the one no the other, because God is there. But for it to be practically, one must be kept before Him.
When the conscience is before God, one is individually humble, and in that very place one owns God in others. When the will acts, one rejects God, in person as well as with others, and there is what is evil; it is also what the apostle had in view in the above exhortations. When the influence of true ministry is exercised (and it is of great value), it is sweet as the relation of a nurse with its child, as Paul says; so much the more as spiritual power acting in personal devotedness is hardly manifested now as in the cases indicated by the apostle. Also it supposes a workman “manifested to God,” and consequently manifested to the consciences of those in the midst of whom he acts. I have never seen that, when such an one acts and his action flows from much communion with God, this influence, this moral authority, has not been acknowledged. Further, such a workman is not pushed in that case beyond what he has received from God, so that his ministry is found justified in hearts without any pressure.
Nevertheless there are cases where things go badly, and the workman is put to the proof. In such a case he should keep himself before God and act only for Him; he should be at the service of Christ, and leave the result with Him alone. The Lord will always hold the reins, and decidedly, if patience have its perfect work, the wisdom and justness of the judgment of the person who has acted will be made plain. Without seeing it, his authority will be even greatly increased thereby, although it may have perhaps in appearance been wholly lost. But for that one must have to do with God. I speak of what happens, and of the principles connected with this question.
I find that in these times the principle of our passages makes them of great value, because it is a question of a sort of authority which no state of the church can weaken. Every other authority will be lost; this will but shine out the more. It is exercised by the direct action of the Spirit of God in service. Besides, he who seeks this authority will not have it; whilst he, who heartily and with the love of Christ acting in him makes himself servant of all as Christ did, will obtain it. To be servant of all is what Christ is essentially in grace—is what love is always.
There is another kind of authority. Christ exalted on high could establish apostles to represent Him officially; they could establish other servants to exercise a delegated and subordinate authority, each in his sphere. This has taken place. In the passages that occupy us the apostle speaks of another sort of authority. He does not speak of that which represents Christ exalted on the throne, regulating the official order of His house, but of that which represents Christ's servant in love. Be this my portion!
Now, in the present state of ruin and scattering of the church, this last authority, which is acquired by service in love, is of great value. But it is evidently exercised in the conditions of devoted service, humility, and nearness to Christ such as to exclude all other influences and make us act only on His part. As to the measure of confidence afforded, it is a question as in every other case of spirituality. By-sloth flesh confides in flesh. The soul is not then before God. Walking according to the Spirit I am before God, and I have the consciousness that there is more spirituality, more of the action of God, in another; and I own these things. This never stifles spirituality in me and cannot stifle it, for it is the same Spirit who produces spirituality with the workman and with me; only it increases my spiritual capacity as to the fact which is realized and raises it to the height of him who has more of it. An inferior degree of spiritual intelligence and affection in a Christian can discern what is more excellent in another, and accept it where the will does not act, although he could not himself have made the discovery of such or such a step proposed by greater spirituality and love beyond his own. As I have said at times in Geneva, wagoners know if a road is good and well formed, and can make use of it; but engineers alone could have planned and made it.
Now the presence of God in the church comes in aid and regulates all when the difficulty does not without that vanish. God is there for the purpose, and He suffices to do so. If the assembly is too unspiritual, if the will acts with such force that one can only follow what one knows by divine intelligence to be God's will, one has but to leave the thing to God and wait till He manifests His will or manifests Himself so as to put others in the good way.
I do not speak of that which demands an absolute separation. When an assembly accepts positively an evil which the Spirit of God cannot endure, God maintains His rights in favor of what He has given. One must have recourse to Him for that. I believe that the confidence of a simple soul and its submission by conscience, not to man as man, but to the manifestation of God in man, is one of the sweetest and most useful things possible.
The difference between the influence of true ministry and that of clerisy which has borrowed its name is as clear and simple as possible. Ministry presents God to the soul and places it in His presence. It desires to do so, seeks to do so, by blotting itself out in order to succeed in it. Clerisy puts itself between God and the soul and seeks to guard its position before others. Every spiritual person will discern clearly its place. He will find God in one of the cases; in the other he sees Him despised and sent off to a distance that the influence usurped by man may be exercised.

Remarks on the Revelation: Part 2

I feel, prevented by ignorance from tracing out the distinctive connection between the respective parts of creation, as represented by the four living creatures, and the works and spheres of these riders. Each of the riders is announced by a living creature: and if the living creatures speak here according to the order. in which they are mentioned in chapter 4, then that order would be, first, the lion-faced creature; then, secondly, the calf-faced creature; thirdly, the man-faced; and fourthly, the eagle-faced creature. In this order they are mentioned in chapter 4: 7, but the word, the first, is there found as before, the lion-faced creature; while in chapter 4: 1 it is not said the first, but simply, I heard one; which, of course, might have been that which is called the fourth in chapter 4, and so the order of the rest of the series called the second, third, and fourth be quite deranged. I desire, therefore, here simply to plead, “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant,” and to wait on the Lord for further light.
As to the interpretation of these riders, I would speak not with decision, but merely as suggesting to others, who have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things, who with me also are learning to prove all things, and hold fast that which is truth, what has struck my own mind in communion with the Lord as His mind about them. I do this with the more confidence, as believing it to be the will of our Father, and of His gracious ways of leading us all on, for us to have great liberty of speech one with the other as to what we believe to be the mind of our God, never putting forward either the notions we have learned from others, nor being backward to put forward in its proper place and season that which we believe we have learned in holy, blessed communion from our God. And sure I am that we should all be ready to say, “We seek not to establish, we love not our own opinions: if others can prove they savor not of both ‘grace and truth,' as in Him, let them pass as the morning cloud!” These four riders, then, seem to me the representation of the Lord God Almighty's recognition of what I may call “the ways and means” of providential rule. Those things which from the beginning were used by God to keep man's wickedness in a lapsed world so far in check, as to render it possible for His own people to abide in it, and His own purposes to be carried on, here seem recognized, as connected with this new throne and its objects. The throne, be it remembered, is a new throne; not the throne of God as the Father—not the throne of the Divine eternal glory, as seen in the light to which no man can approach—not the millennial throne either, for that is the Lord's in the character of Messiah, and not as this, which presents the Lord God Almighty overruling (for the Lamb, so as to bring in His name of Lordship) all in nature, creation, and providence.
None of the actions of the riders seem to me to be judgment, properly so called, so as for a disciple to be able to plead exemption from them. Any one, whose mind sweeps through the disastrous history of the earth with the eye of faith, will see how the very goodness of God has been aggressively acting upon the course of things below, even when there was no pillar and no cloud to sight, marking His near presence. It is just this which seems taken up here, as the first means to be used toward bringing in the Lordship of the Lamb that was slain. As to the first, we know, concerning the Son of God as God, that it is written, “by him all things consist.” (Col. 1:17.) “Upholding all things by the word of his power.” (Heb. 1:3.) Now the thought which presses upon my mind is, that this first horseman is the Son as God, not as the Lamb, nor as the Lord, but as God, secretly and from the distance using the powers of providence in their natural course, as thus witnessing for God; using, not the delegated power which grace makes it his boast to wait for (see Phil. 2), but in the power and majesty of His own Godhead acting as He will. And while we worship and love the meek and lowly Jesus, we never surely should forget that even all through His course on earth, and while now as the Man He is waiting for His appointed inheritance, He has been, and is, and ever must be, as God, the Sustainer and Director of that which Himself created. The Lord pardon His servant if a dim eye, or a film upon it, has seen Him in that in which He is not! But I do feel very strongly the peculiar dignity of that first rider.
Secondly: the more immediate and natural connection, in a world of sin, between man and war, may account for the comparative insignificancy of the second as compared with the third and fourth seal; while the positive character of wickedness in war, not merely like sickness and affliction and trouble, proofs of sin, but fuller developments of it, may account for its commissioned agent; besides, as connected with the object of the throne, the needs be of its being guided and directed and its course.
Thirdly: the close connection between God as the Creator and God of providence, and His testimony of Himself as such, fully accounts, to my own mind, for the comparative importance of the third rider. His action is not aggressive to appearance: balances were in His hand when first He appeared, but nothing seemed his to do, till his commission comes forth that he should rule in the famine and necessity which not he had made, but the God who commissioned him. Reference might be made, as illustrative of the balances, to Ezek. 4:10-16.
Fourthly: this seems indeed to have a service of sadness and horror, but all, still (though faith would see God in it, as it does in everything), merely in the natural course of events apparently. His commission seems limited to a fourth of the earth. His name, Death; his follower, Hades; and the powers used by them, black famine, red warfare, death and the beasts.
When I look through the earth, I see sorrow, trouble, affliction, and trial of every kind natural to man as fallen. I see too not merely natural death, but warfare and all its attendant horrors; famine, and its wretchedness; and sometimes, as has strikingly been the case lately in India, all of these combined together, and not only so, but, ere combined, each so augmented in itself as to be fearful. How fearful is the account of the item of famines alone in India during the last thirty years! by one, three millions swept off in a few months, the atmosphere of districts putrid from unburied corpses, rivers choked with the bodies of the famished dead and of babes and children cast therein by their parents! These wild fruits of the fall are growing everywhere naturally and spontaneously, yet not now to us as disciples without our God. As upon the throne of the Lord God Almighty, He has commissioned agents over them all. The swelling and flowing of their course is all overruled, little as we may see it, for the bringing in of the Lordship of Jesus. As disciples also, we may be subject to them in whole or in part, for they are not, properly speaking, either judgments or chastenings: if in them, we should know not only that all things are of Him who hath reconciled us to Himself (the blessing we get from our adoption by Him), but more than this, that they are the precursors (His purpose in them who sits upon the throne) of the Lordship. They are the cover of the hand of God overruling even wickedness, so as to keep it in check, and give it guidance, that it may, though unconsciously, work on toward the introduction of the glory of the Lord; and, while so doing, work together for good to them that love God even now. How wonderful are the ways of our God! If warfare or famine, or aught else, sprang up, the thought it surely should awaken in us is that of the preparation for Jesus' coming Lordship. And while I recognize that into judgment we cannot come, because accepted in the Beloved, I do not see that the saints are guaranteed against providential trials of any kind; nor do I see in these four horsemen any signs whatsoever, as for a particular season or period of time for which we must look as to precede the appearing of Jesus to us. The whole, for what I can tell, may have had its full accomplishment long since.
The gradual increase of the pressure from the first to the fourth seal assures me of the consecution of their order, though I fully believe that the actions of the preceding cease not necessarily with the introduction of the succeeding. I would merely remark, that while I state the very deep interest which is common to the living creatures collectively in all the works of these riders, whose services to the throne are in that which these living creatures represent, I incline to believe that fuller light will show a distinctive connection of some one of the living creatures with the works in particular of each several rider.
Hitherto, then, the Lord God Almighty had been acting simply in the common routine of his providential arrangements; those who knew and loved Him, who might be on earth, being partakers of the heavenly calling, and thus not only dissociated from the earth, but fully associated with the person of the Lamb wheresoever He might be: definite judgment, as a thing let loose to take its course through the earth, there had been none, for that would have been dishonor unto Jesus. As a Father He may in the church have both judged and chastened, but as the Lord God Almighty ruling in the world He had kept His children distinct in His mind from the world, and either spared it entirely for their sakes, or merely judged it in measure (as in seal 4) for their sakes—but distinct general judgment there had been none. Now, however, the time was nearly come when it should commence; but preparatorily to it we must have, first, the removal out of the way of those who had been partakers of the heavenly calling; and, then, the bringing in of another witness in connection with the earth.

Rationalism Contrasted to 1 John 5

1 John 5 is exactly the opposite view to rationalism on every point. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” There is obedience to a commandment, the proof of love; “and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” There is a new nature, and the world not educated, but overcome. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” There is faith on a perfect external revealed object, the only means of obtaining the victory. At the end of 1 John 3 you will find, as in Rom. 8, the Spirit, the Holy Ghost given, carefully distinguished from the spirit or conscience within. Christianity is a deliverance sent by God to form the spirit according to a new life on an object supremely blessed without, so as to take out of self, and fix the heart on that supreme object of blessedness. The rationalist's system is a rejection of it for the spirit or fallen nature of man to form itself by heathenism and Christianity as pretty nearly on a par; the latter being reduced by him to within a shade of the level of the former.

Publishing

THE BIBLE TREASURY.
No. 288. M A y,
CONTENTS.
PAGE
Brief Word on Gen. 17:1-8 65
Psa. 25 65
General Renm,ks on the Prophetic Word 67
Thoughts on Isaiah the Prophet G8
Notes on the Gospel of John—Chapter xvii. 22, 23 71
Notes on 2 Corinthians•—Chapter vi. 14-16 72
A happy close—2 Tim. 1:12 73
Varieties in the coming glory, answering to Christ's titles._ 75
Letters on subjects of interest 80

Brief Words on Genesis 17:1-8

God brings good out of evil, and in every kind of the trial of our faith He finds occasion of ministering to us, not only according to His heart, but according to our own. Of this there was none in innocence, as none in heaven. He brings all the fullness of His grace into trial to prove there is One who is interested in us in our varied sorrow. He has brought Himself nearer to our hearts in trial than at any other time, showing the perfectness of His heart of love to us. He has purged our consciences entirely. Without this our hearts could never reflect upon all that He is.
There are two characters of our intercourse with God. In Canaan Israel dwelt in God's land, in the desert they did not. In them God dwelt in ministering to their need, and in blessing them. Through daily life the Christian learns what God is for us in the desert; here God especially shows His grace and mercy, but it is not quite right to rest here, in what God is to us, in ministering to our wants in the desert. Whether in the desert or in Canaan, we are with God; but it is a different thing to have God abiding with us in the desert, and we abiding with Him where He is. Christ comes down here; He bears our sicknesses, and carries our sorrows. There is not a sorrow of the human heart that Christ does not enter into it-tried in all points like as we are. This wins the affections, because it speaks to our hearts. Cain was in the place of what you call duty, he had not a sense of sin, nor of the new thing. There is not a single thing in the character of sorrow into which Christ did not come. Trial ought not to be needed; but yet God has to put us through all kinds of sorrow and trial, that we may feel our need of God, so proud and self-sufficient are we. Jesus says, Come to Me; I stand wholly alone and out of the world. If you have a want, come to Me; if you have found the world is toil and labor, come to Me. I have tried the world, and find not one thing in it; if you have found this too, come to Me.
I meet self in its wants, sorrows, and trials. God comes to meet us where we are; but we are not to stop here.
If a friend help me in difficulty, and supplies all my need, I do not stop here, I seek fellowship and communion with that friend. God came, and said to Abraham, Fear not; this world is a place of fear. We want a shield: God says, I am thy shield. We are poor: God is our reward. Walk before Me, be with Me according to what I am-perfect, walking with God according to the revelation that God gives us of Himself. God comes into the heart, and there is not a fiber but He puts in tune by His own grace. You will have sorrows where self-sufficiency is at work; you will have trials where self-will is not judged to show you what is in God, and to ripen you for heaven; to make us think of the sorrows of others, and love others, caring for the wants of others, and not our own. When God talked with Abraham, he fell upon his face; ha did not ask God for anything. When He has emptied us, and we have learned Him, He talks with us, telling us of Himself— “I am the Almighty God.” He expects us to care for Himself. He cares for us surely. Whatever your trial, come to Himself; do not reason about it, but bring it to Him. God talks to you of His plans and purposes, of His own blessedness. I put Myself into this blessed relationship with thee, that I may bring thee into enjoyment with Myself. Abraham falls upon his face. This is holy reverence, the spirit of worship. God is not ashamed to be called your God.
How far can you intercede for others? I find this often a test to my own soul. God would have us live in the knowledge of Himself, and in the blessed enjoyment of Himself, in a spirit of intercession. If I am in the presence of God, I shall fall on my face and be nothing-God is everything.

Psalm 25

There is something to touch in seeing a soul open out to God without yet enjoying deliverance. It knows well that he who waits on God shall not be confounded; but peace is not there though seen from afar. We must remark the manner in which God receives this opening of heart. He takes cognizance of all that passes in the soul: fear, hope, sins, deliverance. God would have us understand that He occupies Himself with it all.
The Psalms, because of their prophetic character, are the expression of the Holy Spirit's operation in the soul before it finds peace. They do not give the definitive answer of the love of God. There is in our hearts a depth of hardness, of insensibility, of levity such that it is needful God should take; sins with them to fix them and bring them down to the feeling of their incapacity. God fixes the soul by the sense of its wants. We are so miserable that the only means of giving us the ides of God's love is by fixing the heart through its wants on the contemplation of what God is; so that where the sense of want fails the love of God is totally unknown, as if it did not exist.
In verses 7-11 there is a deep principle. It is only when we are thoroughly convinced that our iniquity is “great” that we feel the need we have of God and of His pardon. One might think of a little iniquity, that one had just to remedy oneself, or that God might pass it over. The heart of man upsets everything. He puts the uprightness of Jehovah before His grace, His truth before His mercy, and thinks that, if a man walk as he ought, God will be good toward him. That is just the contrary of what is said here. “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.” (Vers. 7-11.) Jehovah who is “upright” loves uprightness; but before all He would have the wretched sinner know Him as “good.” The ill-enlightened soul that knows its faults up to a certain point desires to arrive at enjoying the goodness of God by its own uprightness. It is the proof of a state of heart which knows not God and which hardens itself against all the history He has given of man's heart, as well as of Himself, in the word. Hardness of boast rises against the grace of God, and nothing more hinders grace from acting than the thought that, if one is Upright, God will be good; and this, because the heart is neither lowly nor softened, and pride is not, yet destroyed therein.
Man wishes that one should not speak to him of his sins. The action of the Holy Spirit on the contrary makes one own and confess sin in detail. We can speak of sin in general, or yet more of the sins of which we are not guilty, but otherwise a man does not speak of his own sins. Did not Peter say to the Jews, “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just,” although he had done so himself in a manner still more shameful? Why did he speak of that sin without blushing? The Holy Spirit alone could give him to do so through Him who came by water and blood. Paul when converted and in peace speaks freely to the Lord Jesus of the sins he had done against His name and saints. An unconverted man can speak of evil or of other sins than his own, having no confidence in God's grace for eternal life or remission. A thief may blame a drunkard; but no one naturally speaks of his Own sins, because the conscience avoids being upright before God. Men would hide their sins and show their good qualities; they would pass as honest good sort of people, and get rid of God. In that case one has no need of the goodness of God. People will try to meet the goodness of God by a certain uprightness; but there is no true confidence in God, and every hope of rendering worship to God in this state of things is a fraud. God begins with what we are; He takes us such as we are; and man will not have it so.
God presents to us in the Bible the most extraordinary things. He lays out all His counsels and all His resources on the evil state in which man is found. We see then all the efforts and the pains God has taken to put Himself in relation with the heart of Matt. It is the greatest hardness of heart to see, without being thereby touched, all that which God has done, and the action of His Spirit in those who are saved. One sees hearts with God's goodness out before them, yet abiding far from Him, such as they are. The hard heart sees all that and goes its own way. The heart that is thus has not yet received the least seed of life.
But one may also be convinced of sin and seek to recover before God the place one has lost. This soul believes that there is some means other than pure pardon. It has not yet true relations with God. It cannot any longer seek the world; it observes the Lord's day; attends meetings, and rests on the like. But then the soul is not convinced that God is love, any more than it is in the presence of God with a true knowledge of itself. Not being humbled, it chooses itself a way to arrive at God, and cannot say, “I wait on thee,” as in verses 5, 21. It is when we are convinced that it is no question of getting to God, but that we are in His presence and lost, that we can say, “For thy name's sake, O Jehovah, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.” There is no more thought of bettering the conduct in order to get to God; there is no more a way to pave. We no longer desire then to avoid God, but we see ourselves before Him such as we are. If God is revealed, we have to understand that which He is Himself, and then comes the knowledge of His grace. It is a question of knowing what God is in respect to the sinner who is always in His presence. God is always” good,” and He will not sanction the wickedness of man in leaving him quiet though hardened. Instead of reproaching with the sin, God brings to the conviction of sin in making felt that He has seen the sin, that He has thought of it, and that He has found a means of pardoning and of teaching sinners the way they should follow.
“For thy goodness' sake,” “for thy name's sake:” there is ground on which the soul founds its confidence. Impossible that God should fail His own name. (John 17:6.) He is “good and upright.” What does the goodness of God to a trembling and miserable sinner? It does not cast up to him his misery, but takes cognizance of it to inspire him with full confidence and give him courage. God would deny Himself if He failed in His goodness in this case. God cannot do otherwise; He sees to His own name, His glory, His truth, His grace, in a word to all that He is, as we see in the father of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:20-25.)

General Remarks on Prophetic Word

There is at the outset a great distinction to make between the prophets. Some wrote before the captivity and called the Jews to repentance, as hoping that they might still heed the warning, whatever the solemn light on the future judgment, but with blessing at last. The others wrote a little during or after the Captivity on the basis of the judgment of God. Isaiah is in the first class, Jeremiah and Ezekiel being transitional; Daniel is in the second, as well as Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Jonah stands alone as a sort of final testimony to the Gentiles while Israel was still owned as God's people.
Isaiah prophesies in general of all the hopes of the people of God and of the nations in their relations with Israel. The book is divided into two very distinct parts, the first ending with chapter 35, the second beginning with chapter 40, and an historical portion forming a parenthesis between those two parts. The former part contains the judgment of God on Israel and on the nations; the latter presents the consolation of Israel by sovereign grace and in view of their guilt, first by idolatry, next by the rejection of Messiah, who comes again for their deliverance to the glory of God.
Chapter 1 prophesies about Jerusalem; chapter 2 is the judging of the nations in relationship with the Jews, chapters 3, 4 developing yet more the grounds of the judgment and its divine character and result; as chapter 5 sets forth Israel's sin and ruin notwithstanding all the goodness and painstaking of God from the first. In chapter 6 we see a kind of introduction which gives us the character of prophecy as to the Jews only. The prophecy of chapter 7 does not close till chapter 9: 7. It divides into two sections: from chapter 7 we learn of Immanuel, from chapter 8 of Immanuel's land. Then commences a new subject at chapter 9: 8 which terminates with chapter 12.
Chapter 13 opens a series of judgments on the nations, beginning with Babylon, in chapter 24 involving all the earth, and concluding with chapter 27. It is to be remarked here as elsewhere that every judgment ends with blessing, the glory of Christ being the object of all these prophecies.
From chapter 28 to chapter 35 inclusively are found special judgments on Israel in the last times.
In chapters 35 to 39 we see the overthrow of the Assyrian, the sickness unto death but raising up (in type) of the Son of David, and the lover of Babylon as carrying away the Jews foreshewn.
Chapters 40, &c., to the end predict the state of Israel, not externally like those before the history, but internally and Godward, as tested by their call to witness the one true God and to await the Messiah, with the grand results when mercy rejoices over judgment in glory at the end and forever.
As for Jeremiah, we see that, Manasseh having fully consummated the iniquity of Israel, judgment becomes necessary. (2 Kings 23:26; 24:3; Jer. 15:4.) This judgment is irrevocable: Jeremiah is the prophet of it in the midst of Jerusalem. Up to the end of chapter 24 he does the pleading of Jehovah against His people to convince them of sin in every manner.
From chapter 25 Jerusalem (considered as quite pagan) is judged with all the nations. The new covenant is introduced in these chapters. The throne of Jehovah ceases to exist at Jerusalem; but Jerusalem shall surely be so called once more when all nations shall be gathered to it.
We have in Ezekiel the rejection of all that was Jewish or Gentile. He prophesied among the captives of Israel, not of Judah. He pronounced judgments upon the nations as a whole, on those who remained in the land after the captivity, on Pharaoh who wished to help them to hinder the establishment by Jehovah of the first of the four great empires, and he speaks of what will happen to the nation (ten tribes and all) when the last of the four monarchies shall have been judged. The restoration of Israel begins with chapter 24.
In Daniel we have the history of the four great monarchies which have replaced the throne of Jehovah for the earth. They subsist on His part who reigns by them. Thence it comes that Paul declares all the powers that be are ordained of God. Kings reign by His sanction; as on the contrary the principle that it is by the will of the people is the presage of the anti-Christian spirit. What restrains the manifestation of the lawless one is the presence of God's Spirit on the earth in the church. This being the object of the grace and work of God, He will not let the bridle loose to the nations for them to spoil and destroy. The presence of the church on earth hinders then the manifestation of the lawless one. The Holy Spirit being in the church recognizes the powers as ordained of God, whilst the Antichrist will own no man, either God or any authority whatever. Men are advancing evidently toward this epoch; but there is something that hinders its manifestation and holds back the lawless one it is the presence of the church, and of the Holy Spirit in the church.
In Hosea we have the judgment of Israel, though also that of Judah, and their restoration together in the latter day. Meanwhile Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi tell the tale, Judah being specially in view up to the end of chapter iii., whilst in general the details that follow from chapter 4 look at Israel.
Joel gives the revelation of the great and terrible day of Jehovah. To announce it the Spirit of God take the occasion of some particular judgments at that time.
Amos occupies himself particularly with Israel and the nations connected with Israel.
Obadiah predicts the judgment of Edom, which alone among the nations is to be destroyed without a remnant.
Jonah furnishes the last prophetic appeal to the nations before they have assumed the Babylonish character, to prove the interest God takes in all the creation, although in His mercy He has chosen a people for Himself to preserve the knowledge of His name on the earth. The power of Nineveh was anterior to that of Babylon as imperial.
Micah prophesied during the period of Isaiah. He treats of the invasion of the Assyrian and his threats in order to present in a special manner the judgment of Judea, but at the same time Jehovah's blessing in Christ.
Nahum is the judgment of the world in general, not of the corruption of Babylon lint of man, of his power which is presented in the case of Nineveh.
Habakkuk complains of the iniquity of God's people end develops the chastening that will fall on them to he effected by those still more wicked than they-the Chaldeans—who, because they give loose rein to their violence, became in their turn of jests of the judgments of Jehovah. But His glory and His righteousness shall be manifested in both one and the other, types of the Jewish people and of the world.
Zephaniah speaks of the awakening that God in His grace works in the midst of His people so that judgment should not fall on them. In that day shall be a time of repentance and salvation for many souls. He proves nevertheless that the divine counsels cannot be changed, that evil is always in man now, and that God will gather all the nations to punish them, but that then the remnant shall be blessed in every way.
Haggai, insisting on the re-building of the temple, takes occasion thereby to reveal the manifestation of Jesus in His glory coming to the house of God in the latter day.
Zechariah takes up all the relations of Israel with the nations after the captivity. He sets out the mutual rejection of Christ and the Jews at the time of His first coming, and the ways of God toward the Jews and the nations at the time of His second coming.
Malachi pronounces the judgment of Judea after the return to the holy land; and he makes known the message of Elijah to call the people to repentance before the clay of Jehovah.
II. New Testament.
Matt. 24 up to verse 44 is the judgment of the Jews; from verse 45 of the same chapter to verse 30 of chapter 25 it is the judgment of those to whom the Lord Jesus has confided His service during His absence; and from verse 30 to the end of chapter 25 it is the judgment of the nations, not of the dead but of the quick.
2 Thess. 2 shows the mystery or secret of lawlessness, even in apostolic days already at work, ending, when the restraining power is gone, in the display of the lawless one in the power of Satan. It is the same personage called in the epistles of John the Antichrist, who is predicted in Dan. 11:36 as the king who “shall do according to his will;” that is, his character not moral but political in his relations with the land and people of the Jews.
After that which concerns the seven churches, the Revelation presents the government that the Lord Jesus exercises in the midst of the throne on the earth before His manifestation here below. The general history of this government terminates at the end of chapter 11.
Chapter 12 shows the opposition of Satan to the glory of Christ; chapter 13 lets us see the instruments of that opposition, as chapter 14 the ways of God after He begins to act towards the remnant on the earth until He judges finally the body of the apostasy. These three chapters contribute to give us one vision.
Chapters 15, 16 are another vision showing us the last judgment of God (not of the Lamb) on the earth. The saints were already before God.
Chapters 17, 18 describe the guilt and judgment of the great harlot, Babylon, the features of her character, and her relations with the beast or Roman empire.
Chapter 19 reveals the marriage of the Lamb, and the judgment of the beast and the false prophet, who is identical with the second beast of chapter 13. Chapter 20 gives us the binding of Satan in the opening verses; then front verse 4 the reign of the glorified saints over the earth for a thousand years; next the loosing of Satan for the last insurrection of the wicked then alive and their destruction; and then the final eternal judgment of the dead, or all the wicked since the world began, followed by the new heavens and earth when God is all in all, the mediatorial office of Christ being closed, and all evil in the lake of fire. From chapter 21: 9 to chapter 22: 6 is a vision of the state of things in the millennium; from verse 7 final exhortations.

Thoughts on Isaiah 1-5

The great subject of the introduction to this prophecy is the way in which Jehovah presents Himself alter declaring their state of ruin. There is a day of Jehovah on all the earth, and if there were not a remnant, all the people would be as Sodom and like Gomorrah. The hand of Jehovah will be against all that the world exalts. Everything or one that is lifted up shall be brought low: Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day. (Chap. 2: 17.) God will purify the earthly people by His judgments. The rest will be the object of a terrible judgment. (Chap. 2:18-21.)
I desire to consider the character of the prophecy as given to the Jews. It takes in a circle much greater and concerns the nations as well as Israel.
There is an important principle to remark, namely, that every prophecy supposes ruin of the state of things in which the prophecy is presented. When all goes according to the mind of God, there is no need of warning. It is manifest here in a striking way. Prophecy reveals all the hopes that belong to the faithful when the dispensation breaks down. It announces the failures, and the judgments on what man essays to do because of the evil.
The mass of the Jews is not saved, but there is a remnant saved in the midst of them. The church is but a remnant. We begin as a remnant, and where the Jews end. This supposes that the state of the world is bad and that the world has not gone on well. God sends threatenings and warnings to the mass when all goes ill; and He makes promises to the faithful remnant to sustain and encourage it. When Israel failed, or the priesthood, in Eli, God raises up a prophet, Samuel. It was when all failed under the kings even of the house of David, that God raised up Isaiah. Ahaz had introduced idolatry into the house of God, and the testimony of Isaiah was sent to announce not a remnant only but the Messiah.
The state of what God established in presence of the glory of God shows that the people cannot stand before this glory. (Chap. 6: 5.)
God sends prophet after prophet, and chastisement after chastisement, during seven centuries, and He only struck fully when the Son was cast out of the vineyard and slain. Meanwhile the promise of the Messiah sustained the hope of the faithful. They felt the state of things whilst waiting for redemption. Anna spoke of the infant Jesus to all those that looked for redemption. The principle of such immense importance in prophecy is, that because of the unfaithfulness of the mass God rejects that which He has Himself established; and He announces that He is going to replace what is ruined by something which is infinitely better. God in His goodness gives the light beforehand to brighten up the hearts of the faithful. The goodness of God treats them as friends and fills them with confidence. If one recognizes the prophecy, one must recognize that God has judged and condemned that which exists. If God had not set aside man, there were no need of a new Adam. If the ark of the covenant had not been in the hands of the Philistines there would have been no need of Samuel the prophet, any more than of Isaiah if the house of David were not fallen. Wherefore prophecy is called a charge or “burden.”
It will facilitate the understanding of the book if one point out the divisions of the book.
Chapters 1 to 4 are the introduction, and blessing at the end. Chapter 1 speaks of the Jews, chapter 2 of the Gentiles.
Chapter 5 is a prophetic discourse which compares the state of the vineyard with that which God had done for Israel at the beginning; interrupted by
Chapter 6 which compares it with the glory of Christ. It is thus God judges His people. The prophet is installed in his work.
Chapters 7 to 9: 7 are a prophecy of Immanuel and of the remnant, of Immanuel's land and of the Assyrian when Immanuel is there.
Chapters 9: 8 to 12 are a prophecy about Israel.
Chapters 13 to 27 look at the nations and the circumstances of Israel in the last days (chap. 18.) among the nations.
Chapters 28 to 35 are details about Israel, each prophecy closing with a blessing.
Chapters 36 to 39 are a history of Hezekiah and the Assyrian as typical of the dead and risen Son of David, and the Assyrian of the last days, closing with a prediction of the Babylonish captivity.
Chapters 40 to 46 are the restoration of Israel, witness against the idolatry of the nations but idolatrous, and rejected because of rejecting the Messiah. Israel is found at last among the rebellious when Jesus shall come back, the remnant being kept on the earth for the glory of Jehovah.
Chapter 1.
We see the summary of the burden of the prophecy in verses 1-9.
There was much piety according to the world. They continued in a round of religious forms to render worship to God without perceiving the lack of life, faithfulness, and purity by which they were characterized. (Vers. 10-18.) Having a show of godliness they had denied its power. They made long prayers at the corners of the streets; but their conscience was not right with God. There was a moral blindness before the judicial blindness. As we learn from the next chapter, the land was full of silver and gold, with horses and chariots, full of outward blessings but also with idols. The multitude of sacrifices did not make their ways true in relation to God. Hence (vers. 14, 15) the very things God had instituted or enjoined became in their hands such as He hated, because the conscience in His people was not according to His mind.
The word therefore is (vers. 16, 17), “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well.” There is the weighty matter. Have a good conscience before God: if not, you become blind of yourselves before you are blinded of God. God distinguishes between actions. One cannot learn to do good before ceasing from evil. One cannot have the light in the conscience, without leaving first that which wounds the conscience.
Jehovah imputes not iniquity. (Ver. 18.) Moral government follows. (Vers. 19, 20.)
The saddest thing for the heart of God is, not that the world is wicked, but that the city which bears His name, on which His eyes rest continually, should be so evil. “How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: everyone loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither cloth the came of the widow come unto them.” ( Vers. 21-23.) His judgment begins with His house. We see in Ezek. 9 that, when the remnant are marked, He causes all the city to be smitten, beginning at His sanctuary. He points out afterward the iniquities in detail. We have here a great present principle: if Christendom has deserved the judgment of God, His judgment begins with His house to purify it. In this sense we are with difficulty saved. It was over Jerusalem that Jesus wept.
“Therefore saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies: and I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: and I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.” (Vers. 24-26.) He will avenge Himself of His enemies who corrupted Zion; He will satisfy Himself in dealing with His adversaries. And when He shall have executed His judgment, He will restore Jerusalem as of old. But if judgment must fall on Israel, the consequence will be that out of Zion shall go forth the law. Jerusalem will be then more truly than ever the throne of Jehovah. “Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall he together, and they that forsake Jehovah shall be consumed. For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.” (Vers. 27 -31.)
Thus the first chapter of the prophecy applies to the state of the Jews, announcing the judgment, and gives the hope across the judgment that God will purge His people therein. This will be the means of gathering the nations.
Chapter 2.
In the last days the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. Some might think the law's going out of Zion might be by the gospel. But the gospel is not by the execution of judgment on the nations as here. God will deal with the nations by public judgment and righteousness on earth. (Vers. 1-4.) It is not the church, but the Lord who is spoken of; and this has evidently never yet been. They have dreamed these things for Christianity; but it is the judgment of God that is to bring all this about. (Compare Matt. 24:6, 7.)
The intelligent Spirit of prophecy always speaks as in verses 5, 6. “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of Jehovah. Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.” The rejection of the people had not yet happened. Judgment begins at the house of God, but does not stop there. God will judge His people; and will He not judge the idolatrous world?
The nations boasted of their power and of their riches. They will be the first to be judged; but above all the so-called Christian countries, where profession is found highest, must be found at last the objects of the indignant wrath of God. When He exercises judgment on man's idols and pride, He resumes the course of His earthly government on the earth.
Chapter 3.
Divine judgment notices every detail of iniquity, oppression, and even vanity. All must be brought low.
Chapter 4.
God pushes the judgment and the ruin to the uttermost; but Christ the Branch of beauty and glory shall appear at that time for the remnant. All the wicked shall have been cut off. (Vers. 2-4.) The Branch of Jehovah shall be beauty and glory. The glory will be displayed over all the extent of the holy city. (Ver. 5.) Verse 6 describes an active protection on God's part. Those who remain after the purifying are saints, and the glory of God shall be manifested over the city that He has chosen to place His name there.
One can see in these four chapters the importance God attaches to the land. He takes cognizance of the iniquity of His earthly people, cleansing them by His judgment. He washes away the filth of the nations also.
This does not concern the church which will come again with Jesus in glory. Such is the position in which Christendom is found. Meanwhile, since the rejection of Jesus until He come again, God has visited the world by His Spirit to gather God's joint-heirs with Christ for heaven.
The nature of prophecy, which enters into the mind of God on the ruin and rejection of His people, is of all importance. It is what distinguishes the faithful who have the intelligence of Christ-faithful in the fallen state of things. Their conduct at the same time is directed and governed by the revelation they possess of another order of things to come.
Chapter 5.
There are two great principles presented in chapters 5 and 6: in the former the judgment God pronounces on the vineyard in reference to the fruits He must look for from it; in the latter the introduction of the glory of the Messiah, and what this glory demands from the people. Prophecy supposes a fallen condition, and would be superfluous if the state God established had no need of a special testimony. God bears witness against the state of things and gives promise in Jesus.
God considers whether the vineyard bears the fruit that a vineyard so cared for ought to bear. It is a general principle that applies to the Jews, to the church, and to each individual. If the church has received more than the Jews, God is entitled to expect that it produce more. When one takes the glory of Christ, one sees what ought to correspond to that glory. The two principles constantly turn up. God has formed the state of things, whether among the Jews or in the church, with reference to Christ.
Here is what God says of Israel: “Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come of Driers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain upon it. For the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and be looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” (Vers. 1-7.) The “well-beloved” is the Lord Jesus. God asks that people-even the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah-should judge between Him and His vineyard. He has done much for a nation that had a certain responsibility on the earth. He will accomplish all His counsels, but first of all He proves Israel to see if they will make good themselves the design of God.
But man always fails for what God expects from him, and He would have it seen what man is. God does all that man could ask, and this only manifests the ill will of man. Sacrifices, temple, service-God had arranged all. The people fail in all; and God destroys what He had Himself made. He breaks the fence. All that the father had the elder brother possessed. But God destroys what He had made, and He will accomplish all His counsels. (Lam. 2:1-9.) The Lord has cast off His altar, He has abhorred His sanctuary. His people having been unfaithful to His blessings, the means He had placed for the blessing of His people He has taken all away. When the people are far from God, they attach themselves to ordinances: it is the mark that all is going to ruin. From the moment that God is of little importance to the conscience ordinances become the objects of superstition and take the place of God. Here it is “the temple of the Lord! the temple of the Lord!” When God is just about to destroy them, it is then men attach the more importance to them. God confided to man true privileges: but man fails: God takes all away, and the result is a judgment.
From verse 8 God enumerates the various sins which were in the midst of Israel. “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: that say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink; which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Vers. 8-11, 18-23.)
The Israelites despise the warning of judgment; the wicked take advantage of the delay; just as the like was to happen in the last days of the Christian testimony. (2 Peter 3) But God does not hurry His counsel. He is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He knows well that He must judge at the end. Man attaches himself to his own wisdom, and as long as God does not chastise, man hardens his heart. God has done all for His vineyard, but this producing nothing but wild grapes, He judges His vineyard on the earth.
The church is also on the earth ender responsibility here below. It has more light and more knowledge than Israel. This changes nothing as to the counsels of God, who commits His glory to the faithfulness of the church here below. If we do not represent aright this glory, judgment is impending on the church here below.
Instead of enfeebling the sense of our faults, the more that we feel the blessings, the dearer will be the glory of Christ to us; and the more also that we are alive to His glory, the more do we understand that the church here below must be judged as an economy here below. if anyone can say that the church has duly guarded the glory of Christ in the world, he must have lost the idea of what the glory of Christ demands, just as an unconverted person has no notion of what is due to the righteousness and holiness of God.

Notes on John 17:22-23

There is yet another unity of the deepest interest which our Lord next spreads before the Father: not discipular or apostolic, which was so marvelously sustained, nor of testimony in the grace that would embrace all Christians, which after a bright display at first has long painfully broken down, but unity in glory where all is stable and according to God.
“And the glory which thou hast given me I have given them, that they may be one as we [are] one, I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one, that the world may know that thou didst send me and lovedst them as thou lovedst me.” (Vers. 22, 23.)
This is wholly distinct from what we have seen, though all be to the praise of Christ. It is an exclusively future unity, though the glory be given to our faith now, and grace would have us apprehend it and feel and walk accordingly. For all is revealed to act now on our souls. But this unity will be in glory when we shall be one as the Father and the Son are. Hence failure here is impossible. The weakness of man, the power of Satan, can damage no more.
The manner of this unity is to be noted also. It is not the mutuality which we had described in verse 21, that we should be one in the Father and the Son, as the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father. Such is the admirable way in which the Savior set out what we are called to now by the Spirit, that the world may believe the Father sent the Son. But by-and-by, when the glory is revealed, there will be this new character, that, while the saints are to be one even as the Father and the Son are one, it will be Christ the Son in them and the Father in Him. And this as exactly agrees with Rev. 21 as the former answers to 1 John 1:3.
For as the holy city, new Jerusalem, is the bride the Lamb's wife, the symbol of the glorified saints in that day, so we are shown that the city had the glory of God, and the Lamb its lamp, while the nations walk in its light. (Vers. 11, 23, 24.) Thus are the blessed on earth to enjoy the heavenly glory, not directly like the glorified on high who have the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb as their temple and need none other; whereas those on earth have it but mediately. Yet how constant and impressive the proof before them that the Father sent the Son! For how else could there have grown up such a holy temple in the Lord? And what adequately could account for men thus called out of the earth and glorified on high? Sovereign grace had given them that heavenly portion as the fruit of His mission who at all cost to Himself had glorified God on the earth. And now they share His glory above, and are so displayed before the wondering world. The salvation-bearing grace which had appeared to all and had done its suited and appointed work in redeeming and purifying these to God as a people of possession will then have given place to the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, but this through the church reigning over the earth, at any rate as the ordinary or normal method of its manifestation during the kingdom. As we by faith saw the Father in the on to eternal life, they in that day will behold and learn them in the church, the glorious vessel of the light of Christ in whom God's glory shines. For then the false glory of man is forever judged, never more to mislead the heart, and Satan will never regain his bad eminence in the heavenlies whereby he found means most effectively to misrepresent God, oppose Christ, accuse the saints, and deceive the world. It is thenceforward the glory of God that is established before all eyes, so that men “know” it in and by the glorified saints, instead of being objects of testimony that they might “believe.” For the earth shall be full of the glory of Jehovah (Num. 14:21) and of the knowledge of Jehovah (Isa. 11) and of the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea, when Christ shall have come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believed, in that day.
Therefore do we hear for the first time of being “perfected into one.” The apostolic unity first spoken of, unity in counsel and action, as the Father and the Son gave pattern was as blessed as it was all-important for the place they had to fill and the work to be done in the testimony of Christ. Still it was comparatively partial, and necessarily on a small scale. Far wider was the second unity of fellowship in the Father and the Son exhibited in the Pentecostal assembly at large, when thousands of souls walked together superior to selfish influence and great grace was upon them all, and of the rest durst no man join himself to them, but the people magnified them, and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. But this was only transient. The third will be perfect in glory, and so permanent as well as complete.
And the effect will be immense and immediate, as indeed one could not conceive it otherwise. The world will contemplate with amazement the church in the glory and the glory of God in the church, or (as the Lord says) the Father in Him, and He in them glorified. It is unity perfect both in connection with its source and in manifestation of the divine glory. And what a demonstration that the Father sent the Son and loved the saints as He loved Him! For how should the Son be there as the glorified Man unless previously sent here in love? and how should we be manifested together with Him in glory, unless loved with the same love? It is no question of “believing” this being undeniable fact. The world will “know” it. We may know now what is only revealed in the word to our faith; but this will be a display of divine glory.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

The Corinthians were not only straitened in their affections. They were lax in their associations. Had Christ been the object, the new life had not been hindered in either way; for as He creates, directs, and sustains the affections according to God, so does He guide and guard the feet in the narrow way, His own path outside and above the world. Where He is not before the heart, the world in one form or another fails not to ensnare, fair excuses which cover unholy alliances escape detection, and His honor somehow is ere long compromised.
The apostle's jealousy was alive to this danger in a love that bound together Christ and the church. Love speaks and acts freely, though with tender consideration. The apostle comprehends in his wide warning not only idolatry, but every kind of worldly association as defiling and unworthy of the Christian, because it suits not Christ nor the presence of God. If blessed with Christ for eternity, you cannot without sin have relations with the enemy in time.
Some have narrowed, if not perverted, the passage, by restricting it to an exhortation against the marriage of a believer with an unbeliever. But while the principle undoubtedly condemns the contracting of any such union, it is clear on the face of it that, strictly speaking, this cannot be the direct intent; for the corrective insisted on is exactly what one ought not to follow, even in so sad a case. Thus a Christian woman who had sinned in marrying a worldly man ought not to come out or be separate from her husband; and she might expect the strongest censure from God and His children, not promised blessing, were she to act thus rashly, whatever the purity of her motives. In fact, 1 Cor. 7 is the true and direct weapon for the question of marriage; our passage has a far larger bearing. It is the prohibition of every evil connection for a Christian, and it calls for thorough clearance from all; and no wonder, since the Christian has Christ for his life, righteousness, and hope, even now by the Spirit able to behold His glory without veil. It is incongruous, it is treason, if one has taken Christ's yoke, to accept also that of the world which rejected and crucified Him.
“Be not diversely yoked with unbelievers; for what partnership [is there] for righteousness and lawlessness? or what fellowship [hath] light with darkness? and what consent of Christ with Beliar? or what part for a believer with an unbeliever? and what agreement for God's temple with idols? for ye are [the] living God's temple, even as God said, I will dwell and walk among them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Vers. 14-16.)
The figure with which the paragraph opens is obviously taken from the law which forbade yoking together heterogeneous animals, as the ox and the ass in plowing. (Deut. 22: 10.) It is not now the Jew severed from the Gentile, but the Christian separate from the world in every shape and degree. Principles, motives, interests, ways, are not only different but opposed; what common ground is possible? But this is not all. Faith is the life-breath of the Christian, and his only-avowed power the Holy Ghost, whom the world cannot receive as neither seeing nor knowing Him; and He works to reduce every thought to the obedience of Christ in absolute judgment of the world and its prince.
In detail what can be stronger than the clenching blows of every clause? First the apostle points to the radical difference of principles, low or high, righteousness and lawlessness, light and darkness. Next he points to their characteristic heads, Christ and Beliar. Then he contrasts the partisans or followers, believers and unbelievers. Lastly he closes with their joint place as God's temple, contrasted with idols. Thus all that forms the life outward and inward is embraced so as to exclude alliance with the world and claim the saints wholly for Christ apart from the world. This in no way bars doing good to all, or especially seeking the salvation of any. On the contrary, the truer the separateness to Christ, the more forcibly can grace be preached to the world as a lost thing, and Christ the only Savior. For righteousness was even looked for in a saint; light, now that Christ was revealed, is characteristic of a Christian.

A Happy Close

2 Tim. 1:12
The words of “such an one as Paul the aged” would at all times be pregnant with deep interest; how much more so when they are his parting words, his paternal legacy What marks this epistle is the blending of the most solemn truth with the greatest tenderness. It is the utterance of chastened affections, and the language of a man who, in the midst of unparalleled trials, can look into the past without regret, and into the future with the confidence of triumph. Yet nothing looked more unlike triumph than the circumstances in which the apostle was. From chapter 1 he states that “all in Asia had turned away” from him, and such was the contagiousness of defection, that his own beloved son himself needed the exhortation, “Be not thou ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me his prisoner.” When we come to the last chapter, the sight is that of a battle-field, where, when the fight is over, a list is drawn, not alas! of wounded only, but of deserters as well, the commander himself heading the first class. But faith rose above appearances, and then it was that the victorious prisoner could say, “I know,” and “I am persuaded.” Blessed confidence!
Great is that end of the journey which resembles in what can be imitated that of our blessed Lord. He, the Author and Finisher of faith, resisted unto blood, striving against sin, but did it by self-surrender. So His faithful servant Stephen, whose end Paul recalls long afterward in these touching terms, “And when the blood of thy martyr, Stephen, was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiments of them that slew him.” And so now the persecutor of that day, condemned and worsted in human eyes, can with inexpressible satisfaction say, “I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure [release] is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” Like his Master,
“By weakness and defeat{br}He won the meed and crown.”
No end is more sweetly triumphant than this. He had fondly cherished it before, when he said, “I count not my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus.” He was now being gratified in this respect. The few years that elapsed between his last interview with the elders of Ephesus, and his last defense before the Roman tribunal, had been, as he knew beforehand they would be, fraught with many a danger and sore temptation; hence the charm, now that the last contest was over, of saying, “I have finished.” This means he was conscious of having left nothing undone, or half-done, of his extensive service, “That by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear.” O that each of our days went towards such an end! that we knew more of this holy and sober confidence as regards our feeble service!
In the first epistle we find the apostle in the full active energy that produced such immense labors, and, in beautiful consistency with it, we see a spirit not slow to rise in indignation against those who gave up “a good conscience,” and the indignation sternly expressed in these words, “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme;” but in the second, whilst his estimation of a “pure conscience” has in nowise been lowered, he seems to feel that it was now best to leave it to the Lord to deal with such cases as that of Alexander; and although the latter had been frightfully bitter and wicked towards the apostle personally, he calmly says, “The Lord reward him according to his works"-not in the least anxious to have the last word himself.
Then, next, when he thinks how the ranks of his fellow-soldiers had been thinned by desertion, he sorrowfully says, “Only Luke is with me,” instead of qualifying the conduct of the deserters by withering words as it deserved, he enters into the difficulty of standing the storm, and gently adds, “that it may not be laid to their charge.” So with the blessed Master, in the hour of His incomparable trial, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” The servant said, “Only Luke;” but that was one to watch with him; whereas the yet more deeply tried Lord had none-no, not one. And, then, the gentleness of His rebuke! “Sleep on now, and take rest.” How true that in all things He must have the pre-eminence, even in sorrow, and in the patience that tribulation worketh! Yet it was the faithful apostle's lot to have, at this trying final moment, the precious words made good to him, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord;” and thus the conformity is completed by linking together these two blessed utterances: “Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me;” and, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.”
This much for his immediate circumstances. But the scripture heading this paper takes in a wider range yet. It was not merely in the face of death that he could say, “I know,” “I am persuaded,” but in the face of rapid declension in the church, which would culminate in nothing less than the awful picture so faithfully drawn in chapter 3: 1-5. And why not? Man is at the best but a broken reed, and when the last page of his sad history is read, faith turns towards another, and says, with immense delight, “He is able.” Steadfast peace and perfect confidence are thus maintained, the clouds not allowed to weigh the spirit down, nor to dim the light of His blessed countenance. We are so foolish, and so forgetful of our good-for-nothingness, that we often need trials, in the shape of disappointments, to cast us more absolutely upon the Lord. Were our faith stronger, the trials would not take this shape. With Paul it never came to that. He was given to witness that which was most painful, and to predict that which was most terrible; yet the peace of his spirit and the confidence of his heart remained unmoved, undisturbed. He knew “WHOM” he had believed. The abstract way in which he speaks of the Lord is very telling. It is the peculiar feature of John; and the way of one who is so engrossed with His person, that he cares for naught beside. “Whom” and “Him” convey the thought of profound, yet holy, intimacy.
It was not only, I apprehend, with regard to his own individual safety that he said, “I know,” and “am persuaded.” We may fairly conclude that the “deposit” alluded to in this verse is more than himself. The very manner of his conversion had taught him Christ's estimate of and love for the church” Why persecutest thou ME?” and ever afterward was this the prominent feature of his own character. It was by this standard that he measured his former life and path. To him there was nothing so humblingly had as that he had “persecuted the church of God.” How these words tell of the intense love he now bore it, of the beauty and excellency he now saw in it, when looking upon it with the eye of Christ! Oh, for more of a kindred feeling in us! We need it pressingly. Much of our dryness and narrowness is due to the lack of it. We need not fear lest this feeling should produce indifference to the evil of the church. Is Christ indifferent to it? Nor shall we be; but tenderness will cause us to make more frequent use of the basin and towel, and more unfrequent use of the stone and of the sword. We shall not lose thereby. I cherish the thought that this “deposit” comprised that church which, next to Christ, Paul loved most. When he had committed it to the care of its Nourisher and Cherisher, he could calmly speak of the worst times, saddest departure, and darkest evil, as powerless to sever it from that diligent care. And beyond this present dark and evil day there is a day mentioned-” that day"-when all will look different from now.
“THAT day.” How suggestive It needs no other qualification; it stands alone in the estimate of Christ, as His “hour” stood alone in the estimate of God-this for suffering, that for joy. It is the time when He will “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” The spots and wrinkles tell of failures and cares with which we are sorrowfully acquainted. Do you want comfort in the midst of this heart-breaking scene? Think of “THAT day.” Our apostle thought of it, as well as of the present faithfulness of God's grace, and the sufficiency of His word, when he spoke to his beloved Ephesians, even then yet so fresh in their first love, the words of Acts 20:29, 30. Wolves and perverse men might, and would, make a fearful havoc in that best and most fertile of the apostle's fields, where a labor of “three years and a half, night and day, with tears,” had produced such an abundant harvest; and in the field would grow tares, in the shape of giving “heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith.” But, notwithstanding all, he who knows the love of Christ to the church does not faint, because he can reckon upon Christ being fully gratified in “that day;” and if He, surely we also.
Faith never surrenders anything to man and his unfaithfulness, and when God prepares it by His word for dark shadows and blighting winds, it refuses to stop therein, and passes right beyond, where Christ is seen, unchanged and unchangeable, and where the church stands as closely connected to Him and as cherished by Him as ever.
May our hearts be more filled with this enlarging love! And while we grieve and sorrow over our own faults and the faults of all, let us remember that God has not given us the spirit of cowardice, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” C.

Varieties in the Coming Glory Answering to Christ's Titles

A very solemn subject; and I feel thoughtful as to its being brought before the mind, for if one attempts to grapple with the divine glory, there is no saying what danger we may be brought into, though in the liberty of the Spirit I may see all things. For there is liberty to those who are brought home to God, the contrast to the law. When we come to consider that the coming glory is not only ours, but the Lord's, we are like John, a little, in the Revelation, who found the book first sweet, and afterward bitter. Also Jeremiah said, “Thy words I found, and did eat them,” &c.; but he was soon found in a different way. Whenever there is a reception of God's truth, whilst talking of the church, instead of to the church, it is bitter. I see that there is a sadness in the knowledge of the future which some of us may not have counted upon. Jeremiah, prepared by sorrow, would so prophesy; and we shall find preparedness of mind for the future by sensibility with the sorrows of the church. If we let a trouble come in between us and God, we shall break down. If God comes in between us and the trouble, we get strength to sustain it and, like Paul, bear it. We suffer the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. The moon shines upon the earth, but there is always the sun, behind it, giving light to the moon. Paul found everything slipping away, as in bitterness of spirit, shown in the Epistle to Timothy, and he clings to Timothy always.
It is not surprising, then, that we should feel. Jeremiah feeling the sorrows was a fit vessel to wail over Jerusalem, as expressed in Lamentations. If there is not the energy of faith, there is not the support of faith. The first may fail, but the dependence of faith cannot be taken from us. In Psa. 42, concerning the affliction, “Where is thy God?” the word is, Hope in God—nothing else. He should praise Him for the help of His countenance; he knew it would shine again, and he could afterward say, He” is the health of my countenance.” Here God comes in between the soul and the trouble, and there is help. Hope was exercised when in the midst of affliction, knowing God would shine on him, and then he would reflect it. “To go up with those who keep holiday “was demonstration of joy. It is good for us to look out for the glory; a secret looking for it makes us more sensible of evil, but yet kept in communion. Anticipation of evil would deaden, it would unsanctify the heart, unless we could connect all with God. It is the contrivance of Satan to fill the mind with the evil; but if I look clear out of the evil into the glory, I get rest and peace. “Be not afraid with any amazement” — “be not afraid of their terror.” Satan seeks to give evil its power over the mind; and, looking at it, I get either insensibility or terror.
There is a blessing in meeting thus together. The world shut out for a season, we can have enjoyment of fellowship, each saying, “I will hear what the Lord will say.” Feeling as a man failure and sorrow, here is a certain concentration of life gathered up that has set on the heart with better application of what God sees. It is a sort of epitome of the state of things which has set the heart on the road of service the Lord would have us pursue.
I think we are apt as the general rule to lose sight of the distinct place of the state of the church. There is something very peculiar and special in the blessing of the church of God: more and more we should recognize the distinct place it has. The vast variety of the glory of Christ cannot he grasped by the mind. The essential position of the church of God is knowledge by faith. We are associated with Christ in hope upon the throne, and as our brother spoke largely of Joseph, in the thought that Joseph's employment, before he had the strength of the throne, was to he that of an interpreter of dreams; so surely it is now the place of the church to interpret the purposes of Christ, for we have His mind. Joseph was the interpreter of God's mind, as Christ is the wisdom of God. When glory is displayed, it will not require this wisdom. A sample of that glory is named in Heb. 6— “Having tasted of the powers of the world to come.” Maintenance of unity will then be by power, not a principle.
Tradition did not see this; but God has made the distinction as wide as possible between His own inspired word and the writings of the Fathers. This had been permitted, I think (for nothing can be more unlike the pure word of God than their writings), to show the difference between the treasure and the interpretation. Thus we understand that the Spirit of God is that alone which the church is dependent on. The writings of the Fathers contain the greatest quantity of nonsensical trash, that could anywhere be found in like compass.
Men confound inspiration with gifts. The agency of the Holy Ghost in guiding may be quite as real as the apostles when they were inspired, but it is not of the same character. What business have I to speak in the church of God, but in virtue of the Holy Ghost? It is not a fresh revelation. We are stewards of the manifold grace of God to “speak as the oracles of God.”
One of our brethren spoke of Genesis having in view heavenly and earthly glory. I agree that it is prospective of the future, but cannot agree that it gives a full view of the future glory. In Genesis we get earth begun—not a word is disclosed to me of heaven. I hear afterward that the sons of God shouted for joy. The Christ of God is before all time. The Gospel of John is before Genesis; in it I get the genealogy of the Son—in Genesis the genealogy of the earth. In John I find everything that Christ is, from being Son of God, through every scene up to the future glory. There is only one point in which the world comes in here— “The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin (not the sins) of the world,” a relation founded on blood. John only talks of “Jews,” but as putting them aside. I find everything the Christ was from God, and afterward every name and title. Christ baptizes with the Holy Ghost, the only symptom of the church down here.
I find Christians not connected with anything whatever, but before the world was. “Of his fullness have we all received.” The church is thus not connected with heaven and earth, but with Him who was before the world was. No wonder the church is displayed as having all grace in Jesus. I get the secret standing of the church. I do not yet see anything ever brought into that place of the union before the world was, and all the glory gathered round us. I distinguish this from all displays of power. Even in Abraham, I find him heir of certain things, but each a properly distinct thing. If God chooses to place His glory in the heavens, but a place of displayed glory, different from communion with Himself, I doubt not if the knowledge of the Trinity does not come in. The church is led into the knowledge of the very Godhead. This is unintelligible to a Jew, who has the earth for an abiding-place for man. The Spirit of God might show all to a Jew that is to happen in a covert way, it might have been shadowed imperfectly; but all this has nothing to do with our fellowship with the Father. The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of promise, but earth is not the home of the church, though she is displayed here. There is something superior even to the display of God in the church, the vessel of the power down here.; the place nearest to God with Christ is a mystery. The more I shall understand what I am to God, I learn the lowest place here on earth is the one for the saint. I see this in Jesus: what distinguished Him from all other men was that He lived by every word of God, in unceasing unremitting dependence. Satan tempted Him to take the place of a Son, but He would not be tempted to depart from that of a servant. He would do nothing without a command.
Everything, therefore, is made to wait on this Man; as Man He is perfect in the fullness of glory. (Phil. 2) As we become emptied of self shall we become depositaries of power. The power of divine life is death to the creature; it is only when the church has been brought through death, she will be the depositary of power, morally now, actually by-and-by. Christ would not establish His relationship with earth, till death and the resurrection. Altogether a distinct thing is this from His communion with the Father. His relationship with this earth was unaccomplished till after His death. I do not believe that this is a dispensation at all; it may be a parenthesis, but it is the gathering out of the elect out of all, Jew or Gentile, into Him who is above all dispensations.
John's Gospel, beyond all others, comes out as revealing the divine person, &c. The fullness of the divine nature is brought out: two distinct things—what Christ was in Himself, and communion with God; also the place on earth and the place in glory. What dispensation was Christ in on the earth? No doubt He became a man and under law to accomplish redemption; but what was Christ in Himself? The church also can only be known by the knowledge of Himself. Incomprehensible, supposing the church all saints. Take it up in Ephesians: it is the body of the Head that looks down on all others. God's ways are suspended till the church is come in, and none can understand this but by the Spirit. The essential place of the church is above in the Son of God. If I were to own Christ as Messiah only, I should deny that I know Him to be in the Father or ascended on high. Our essential place is union with Christ, and all our difference in glory must flow from this.
I feel thoughtful about the subject before us. I am impressed with the thought that we should begin at the other end, even the love of God. Let us receive end believe the thoughts of God; but do not bring our thoughts to them, though the place it brings us into is the place of reciprocity. When we get into this as recipients, it is safe. I was endeavoring to show that the Gospel of John took the church higher than the creation; by the way in which the church is united to Christ, she is partaker of His fullness; but the moment I get into the Revelation the church passes, for 1 get into that which is anterior to creation. It is not “God created,” but “God was.” The mystery of the incarnation was not so much the glory given to Christ as the divine nature united to the human, and consequent on this, Christ passing sentence of death on all that was of man. We look up to be sharers with His glory which He had with the Father before the world was. We are brought into unity with Christ the Creator. The mystery of the church is God's association with it by being life—our union to Him in the power of this life in a double way—taking it up into the glory which Christ had before the world was. The moment it was Christ, the Head of the church, the Holy Ghost came down from, the Head, the necessary power of uniting. Christ says; Whom I will send to you from the Father, and therefore reveals the Father. Where He says, Whom the Father, He comes as a witness of all the work and power of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Ghost is a demonstrator of the name in which it was shed. The Holy Ghost shed abroad in our hearts gives the power of divine love. To enjoy God as born of God, whether Jewish glory or heavenly, I cannot enter into the free-heartedness of that which is connected with God, not merely as having a new nature, but the Holy Ghost is there. Throughout the varieties of glory there most be throughout a consciousness of God's love. There is no such thing as loving God unless one is born again; but it seems to me Rom. 5:5, this to speak of the love of God shed abroad by the Holy Ghost. There is here the truth that God the Holy Ghost is there according as His divine power hath given (2 Peter 1:3. δεδωρημένης translated actively);, (ver. 4, δεδώρηται translated passively): a sentence that cannot be translated, because God is the giver and the gilt; you cannot make grammar of this, for it is beyond the reach of human tongue. “He that loveth not knoweth not God.” You cannot separate God's love to you and having love to Him. If His love is shed abroad, it enables us to enjoy that love. It is only upon the principle of annihilation of self that we can go into the subject, for it is infinite. As the apostle says, “The breadth, and length and depth,” &e., and finished with saying it is past finding out. Inasmuch as the Holy Ghost comes down, and shows us Jesus in present various glories, He is Himself the very witness of these things.
Now in the confusion of tongues, instead of a servant using a gift responsibly, having the modesty to remain in his place, some take the place of a master, as we see in 1 Corinthians. When I see Christ in His various glories—not the display of the glories, but the fellowship with it—it is out of the displayed glory altogether, which He comes down to take. When I see the vastness of the glory to which the Holy Ghost witnesses, I see that there is something beyond the reach of all knowledge, even fellowship with the Father and the Son. The Son in subjection is equally the Son of the Father. I can traverse all this glory, see Him in the lowest humiliation, and follow Him as King of kings, &c., &c. till He at last give up the kingdom (and this never touches His fellowship with the Father); and wherever we are placed, it is because of His place in it. After traversing all the glory, I can never get higher than God Himself. God is love, and His glory cannot be greater than Himself. What says the apostle when he was in the third heavens, and beheld things unutterable?
We say, “the blessed Jesus,” and so on. When the Holy Ghost speaks of Him He never gives Him epithets; and this seems excellent, for, after all, they are only names, and cannot describe Him. The Holy Ghost, thus naming Jesus, leaves the results to be produced in people's hearts, to have our affections brought out to Him.
“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hands;” and the Son going down into the dust of death, He takes up the church with Him into the same place. In John 17 Christ takes everything as a recipient from His Father, and yet declares His own essential glory with Him. “Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” Now this goes up higher than the creation of the world, yet it leads the thoughts to this truth, that Jesus was ever the object of the Father's love. In Matt. 11, “I thank thee, O Father,” &c. Here was counsel, “It seemed good in thy sight.” He thanked the Father for the very thing that broke His heart. He submitted to all that was in obedience to God. None could know His own being but the Father, and none but He could reveal the Father. He was so bright that none but the Father could fully know Him. We get into the very height (when the eon reveals the Father). Then, “Come to me, all ye that are weary,” &c. He is Himself the nearest to the heart that comes to Him.
I see in John 17 that there was a glory He had “before the foundation of the world,” yet as Man it was given to Him. When Jesus was upon the earth, He said, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” But when He speaks of their having the Holy Ghost, He says, “Ye shall know that I am in my Father, ye in me, and I in you.” The unity He had with the church, the like unity there was between Himself and the Father. John 17 is a conversation, and in the presence of the church, between the Father and the Son respecting the church. I get now more insight into the occupation of thought between the Father and the Son. He takes the creature up into. the glory wherewith He had glorified the Father, and gives Him all the words the Father had given Him. He has come to me, not only with a message of the Father's love, but He has taken me up to hear what the Father says. The Father was seen in Christ when on earth, but Christ could not say, Ye are in Him, because they had not the Holy Ghost. He came necessarily in a different character after the resurrection of Christ. The church is brought up into unity with the Father on the ground of unity with Christ: After Christ goes down into death He takes us up with Him. This is not Messiah's glory, but all that God had communicated to Christ. I am brought into this apprehension; I am brought near enough to hear what He said to the Father. Christ closes the chapter by saying, “The glory thou hast given me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.” The delicacy of our Lord's love is shown in the tenderest manner, that “the world may know [not that I have loved them, but] that the Father loved them as he loved the Son.”
I do not see in this chapter the Lord speaks beyond those who heard Him and those who believe on Him through their word. He stops at the church (though I do not speak now as a teacher). The brethren should stop short and learn. I cannot reason from our element, but only believe. I regret all inferences from scripture, I cannot have faith in an inference, I can only have faith in revelation. Inferences may be true, and I am thankful to receive them as leading to farther examination. In Ephesians it is, “In ages to come we shall show the extraordinary riches of his grace” to others, who will then learn the exceeding riches of His grace. Ephesians is occupied with the glory as displayed. There are certain things down here of which I am not capable. Paul heard things which it was not lawful for a man to utter. But do not let us confine our souls. Do I get nothing? A great deal. I know there are things of which a man is incapable. My soul enters into a state of expectancy. Every word of revelation corresponds with former truth; whereas man's thoughts always lead, sooner or later, from Christ. Whatever the Holy Ghost reveals, He never takes me from the revealed Christ.
It is remarkable the subject Peter was employed to write upon never required him to use the word Son of God, though fully believing and implying it; because his service was to declare that a Man had been raised from the dead, and that glory had been given. This is a just answer to the prayer in Ephesians, “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ;” that is, Jesus Christ looked on as a man—one raised by the power of God. The grand subject and great truth is man raised from the dead, and received to glory. This is founded on God, the Father of glory. It is a question of the glory of the inheritance.
In chapter 2 we are seen upon earth “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Now I get the union of Jew and Gentile for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Now what is the prayer? It is that Christ may dwell in their hearts, &c. Here it is not merely inheritance, but state: “To him be glory in the church,” &c. Mark here what is said. Men quote this text, leaving out the great truth, “that it is according to his power which worketh in us.” What do we find, having unfolded this high calling? what is the exhortation that flows out? Why, that I should be lowly. As Paul says, “I, as prisoner, beseech you,” &c. God necessarily identifies Himself with His own unity in which He dwells. Christ cannot have two bodies.
I find two characters in this place—the bride and children. “Christ loved the church.” Whenever I find gifts, they are not for the display of power to the world, but gifts for the edifying of the body. There I get, “He gave himself for us, that he might present unto himself a glorious church.” Inasmuch as He presents this church to Himself, it is surely at the commencement of the millennium. And who will be the witnesses? Surely the saints in the millennium. They do not find their place in the bride. What God's intention is about them, that He does reveal. The Holy Ghost snaps everything that is of man, and then brings in something new. The association the Holy Ghost gave the apostle Paul to the Thessalonians, “Ye are my crown,” differed from that where He speaks about his “sister's son.”
The soul can enter into God's presence but by the blood of the Lamb.
As to the Epistle to the Galatians I cannot see anything further than that they are the children, and have the inheritance, but I see nothing to show that there is a higher glory. What I dread is, saying that because they are sons they are to have all the same glory. I throw out these hints: Paul says, “That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” It is plain that the saints who lived before the coming of Christ were adopted as sons, though they had not the Spirit of adoption. There is the difficulty, the sons having the glory; the curse taken by Christ, that we should have the adoption of sons. God had been forbearing up to that time.
The subject in the Epistle to the Hebrews is priesthood, not Jew and Gentile in the unity of the church. In Hebrews, properly speaking, it is His official glory. I do not rise to the truth that the Father loved the Son, and gave all things into His hands. No mention of the Father in Hebrews or Rev. 1 find promises to Abraham—blessed promises—and accomplished in his Son; but I find no mention of unity with the Father and the Son. I am not carried on to the place John takes me, where it is important we should feel our own place in God's love. As to the point in Hebrews, that “without us they should not be made perfect,” this is according to the whole Epistle. I do not see the perfection goes beyond the Epistle. Where are we come to? Not the Father, but Mount Zion—spirits of just men made perfect—general assembly—the church of the first-born—but not brought into fellowship with the Father, though I do not doubt this. As regards the place we are set in, it is in heaven.
A brother asked how far the living creatures had the character of the church. It is assumed to be the church because of Rev. 4; 5, where also we get the four heads of creation. I cannot admit this; but that the church, by associating with Christ, may be put ministeringly in that place in a much higher way than the angels. All this rises to the throne, but surely not into fellowship with the Father and the Son. We must not look at them absolutely as the church, though there is intelligence and glory, but relatively the church may fulfill this office in service.
The variety of glory would launch itself in all that Christ is. The Son of man shall come in His own glory, the glory of the Father and the holy angels; He is glorified in the church, also the Man set over all. These are glories which are merely dispensational as Son of David, for instance in Zion, city of God. In Psa. 132 the temple was then far away. He brings up the ark there. “The Lord hath chosen Zion. This is my rest forever.” Zion became the center of the earthly dominion. Christ's glory is of a general double character— “First-born from the dead,” Head of creation, Head of the church, and all fullness in Him. The church, in that part of the vision, shall see Christ as He is, the secret delight of the Father.
What was the hidden manna? That which was laid up as a memorial for Israel to know how God had fed them in the wilderness—a memorial of the ways of grace; and I see none will partake of this but the saint, who has been feeding on the manna that came down from heaven. On such a subject as this we may say, The half has not been told us, as the queen of Sheba did, and the danger is of dragging it down, rather than getting into the height. There are a thousand rays of God, and we cannot enter into all at once. “The Father loved us” is the special place.
As to the varieties of glory, I see some subordinate. We turn to Revelation, and see the living creatures and twenty-four elders settled in their places round the throne: God there shines out without veil; and, further, certain persons who praise God day and night. Secondly, some are on the sea of glass—a certain position each set in, which seem to show different places in the glory. I see two things: the work df Christ, whereby we are all brought into common acceptance in Him; but I also find Jesus appointing their places, to some one thing—to some another; for He takes the place of a servant. We must not meddle with God's counsels. Christ says,” It is not mine to give.” The right and left hand He gives to those for whom it is prepared, to Paul one place, and to Peter another. Also the work of the Spirit of Christ in me prepare. In one case the talents are given absolutely; in another, the possession according to their ability. One is connected with God's sovereignty, the other with man's responsibility. The talents brought out, in Matthew, exclusively God's sovereignty forming the vessel. In the other Gospel the pounds give responsibility. The twelve apostles are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. I, as a Gentile, have nothing to do with this—it is a special arrangement. Whilst the principles of grace hold, the Lord can say, After all, I do what I will with mine own. As to the hundred and forty-four thousand, I cannot help seeing they are such as are faithful followers of the Lamb, who are not of the church. They are near enough to catch the song of heaven, but are not in heaven; the harvest follows, and those on the sea of glass. Three classes are in Rev. 20. Then begins earth's blessing under the reign of Christ and the glorified; not only of the Jews here below, but the spared of the nations.
“I saw the new Jerusalem descending from heaven,” (Rev. 21:2). This is the eternal scene. When repeated in verses 10, 11, it is the millennial retrospect; and it is described as “having the glory of God” —His glory put upon the church. There was what it was which came down from heaven, had its character from God. He could not clothe it with less than His own glory in hope of which we boast. The nearer we are, the more humble we shall be. The nations walk in the light of the city; the world will know that we have the same glory as Christ. Holy energies connected with this, but not affections. All this description of the heavenly city is so wonderful as almost to exhaust my mind in contemplating the splendor; but splendor is not rest. I have my mind on the stretch in Revelation—power, service, golden streets; but I do not find what gives my soul rest. It is another class of blessing, a most blessed display, but it is not rest. I find God on the throne, but I do not find the Trinity; I find the seven Spirits, and Jesus coming forth, but I should say it is altogether dispensational, something that governs and brings blessings on the earth. I have all the intelligence of the throne, and, last, Christ manifested as King of kings. I find all connected with dispensation, but no connection as between Father and Son, as in John 17.
In the Gospels we get Christ acting down here in Acts another part, the last dealings of the Son of God with Israel, while He hangs over them. It is remarkable, in Peter's sermon (Acts 3), he tells the Jews, “Ye are children of the fathers.” There he says, If they repent, Christ will come back.
In the Epistle of Peter I find the house modeled, sustained, guided; in Revelation the dread of worldliness, and looking into the world, in Jude, warning that all was going down. I see the Holy Ghost sometimes addressing the church about the church, but the converse of this in Daniel. This is a vast difference. Daniel was not a prophet, addressing Israel, but gives a long story about them. The church is the depositary of all.

Letters on Subjects of Interest: The Church

February 10th, 1855.
The time to come is the church's glory and perfection; the present, that of fidelity and faith, but of a faith which counts on God that the church, by His power, may manifest His glory in this very world by its common superiority to all that governs it and to all that exercises an influence over it. The church is the seat of God's power in the world. What have we made of it? (See Eph. 3:20, 21.) The Epistle to the Ephesians presents the perfection of the position of the church before God; that to the Thessalonians gives, in a manner most interesting and to me in the highest degree edifying, the perfection of the Christian's position individually.
March 25th, 1871.
Dear Brother,
One knows little about the history of what they call the church, of what the church is as to its responsibility, nor the walk of the clergy, nor even that of all the world. It is a happy thing only to have the word to follow, and to know that it is the word of God. What an immense privilege to have His word, the revelation of His grace toward us, the perfection of the person of Jesus, and the counsels of God, what God has ordered for our glory! It is in His kindness to us that He will show in the ages to come the unsearchable riches of His grace.
From the beginning, trusting to the enemy rather than to God, man has been estranged from Him, and the two questions, “Where art thou?” and “What hast thou done?” showed where man had got to. The responsibility completely put to the test until the rejection of Christ, then God glorified in justice, His love and the counsels of His grace, before the foundation of the world, have been put before us. This places the gospel in quite a particular position, as it shows the relation of responsibility and sovereign grace with great clearness.
More than this, there is no veil on the glory of God. From thence His wrath revealed from heaven, but also the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, a witness that all the sins of those who see it are no longer before God; then all that God is morally fully revealed and shown. We know it according to His glory, and our relationship with God, our position before God, is founded on it. We are changed from glory to-glory, according to this image, for we can pin on it: it is the proof of our redemption, and that our sins are no longer before God. We are renewed also in knowledge after the image of Him who created us; we are created according to God in righteousness and true holiness; for, according to this glory, He puts Him in our hearts to bring forth the glory of Christ in the world. We are like a lantern; the light is within, but to shine without, but a dim glass (the flesh, if it interferes) will hinder the light from shining as it ought. Thus, what is given us becomes an inward exercise, the treasure is in an earthen vessel; and it must be only a vessel that we should he dead, that the life of Jesus should be made manifest in our mortal bodies. It is not only a communication of what is in Christ as to knowledge; but, if it is real, we drink from the source of the river. It is a communication which exercises the soul, makes it grow, and judge the flesh in everything, so that we do not spoil the witness which has been confided to us.
In Christ Himself the life was the light of men, and it is necessary that the light which we receive should become life in us, the formation of Christ in us, and that the flesh should be subject to death. Death acts in us, says Paul, life in you.
That is the history of ministry-of true ministry. What we communicate is ours. It enlightens us, but it acts in us morally; and the glory of Christ is realized in us, and all that does not suit Him is judged. Now the flesh never suits Him.
The death of Christ put an end to all that was of Paul; thus the life of Christ acted by him on others, and only that. This is saying a great deal. Thus, with regard to this, there may be progress. As to my position before God, I reckon myself to be dead; and, as to living, death acts in me. There is the vessel, but it must be only a vessel, and the life of Christ acts in it and by it. If the vessel acts, it spoils all. In fact we live, but we must always bear about death, so that the glory of Christ, the image of God, may shine for others. But all the glory of God is revealed; there is no longer a veil upon it on God's side; if it is veiled, the veil is upon the heart of man by unbelief. An all-important truth! Under the law man could not enter; God did not come out. He has come forth, but in being nothing, in order to bring out grace. Then, the work of redemption accomplished, He has gone in, and there is no more veil on the glory.

Publishing

THE BIBLE TREASURY.
No. 289. U N E, 1 8 8 O. Price 13(1.; by Poet 84d.
CONTENTS.
PAGE
The Mount of God 81
Brief Thoughts on 1 Chron. 11-17 83
Thoughts on Psa. 16 83
A few words more on Psa. 25 87
Thoughts on Isa. 6; 7 87
Letter on Dan. 9:24-26 91
Notes on the Gospel of John—Chapter xvii. 24-26 92
Notes on 2 Corinthians—Chapter vi. 17, 18; vii. 1 93
The Conflict in Eph. 6 94
Letters on subjects of interest 96

The Mount of God: Part 3

This we get here in these chapters, and thus read, though in other lines, the title of this mount to be called “the Mount of God.” For here God is thus still revealing Himself. Grace and glory had passed before us on this hill in the previous chapters, as we saw grace in the burning bush, and glory in the assembly of the strangers and Israel. Judgment, and mercy rejoicing over it, have now in their turn passed also before us at the same place-judgment in the fire at the top of the hill, mercy in the tabernacle at the foot of it. And thus the Lord, in these ways and at this place, makes Himself known to us, and Horeb is indeed “the Mount of God.”
Thus I have with desire surveyed this holy hill. But I cannot finally leave it till I have another little meditation at the foot of it.
All that we have seen is Revelation of God. This hill is the place for God's showing Himself. Now our obedience to revelation is faith. If God reveal Himself, faith is man's obedient response. And on faith I would now in closing say a little.
There is a peculiar character of excellence in faith, and no wonder the scriptures so much speak of it. It glorifies God above everything, just because it takes God's account of Himself, and lets Him do His pleasure-” He that cometh to God must believe that he is.” Adam ought to have been a believer, for God to him was a revealer. God had revealed Himself in a warning, and Adam should have had faith. But Adam failed in that; and through unbelief, or making God a liar, he sinned and fell.
We now, in like manner, are called to have faith in God, for God has revealed Himself to us also-in another way, it is true. But still God is a revealer of Himself to us sinners now, and we have now to render the obedience of faith. And “without faith it is impossible to please him.” Just as with Adam: all his joy in the garden was as worship. If Adam delighted in the flavor of its fruit, the scent of its flowers, or the singing of the birds there, all might be counted as worship. But Adam should have believed also, and his faith would have been the highest act of worship. For the heart would have rendered its service to God by faith or confidence in His word, while the eye and the ear and other senses would have been exercising themselves in the garden of God as in the holy places of a temple.
Thus Adam was called to faith, and faith would have been his best service and worship. Sin having entered does not at all change this. Faith still renders the best service, and performs the highest acts of worship. Only we sinners have other objects proposed to faith than untainted Adam had. Necessarily so. One threat of death was revealed to him. [Not life only but] union with the Christ of God, and all its consequent glory and joy, is made known to us. Our circumstances give opportunity of returning to God larger service and worship, through faith, than Adam's did. If faith gives to God His highest glory from the creature, we, by our circumstances as sinners, being called to larger exercise of faith, have competency to yield larger praise. There is more, much more, in our condition than there was in Adam's to exercise faith. Sin and its necessities and sorrows have induced this. This world is the very place for the largest possible exercise of faith in the blessed God: and if we indeed desired God's praise, we should rejoice in such opportunities of giving Him the worship and honor of faith.
And such an one in this world of ours was Jesus. Without sin, He was made sin. He came into this world of sinners. And how did He carry Himself here? “I have put my trust in him,” says He. All through He was rendering to God the obedience and worship of faith. He trusted Him, and trusted in Him. He believed and was confident. Nothing weakened or disturbed His cleaving by faith to the living God. He had laid hold on Him, and nothing slacked His hand. With all against Him, He trusted in God. This was glorifying God beyond all glory that God had ever received. The life of faith which the Man Christ Jesus led in this world was constant worship of the highest order. Angels could never have so glorified Him, or rendered such worship. But that was worship and praise indeed which was brought by the faith of this “wondrous man,” in scenes which our fallen world alone could have afforded. For “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It deals with such things as are neither enjoyed nor visible. And it is our circumstances in this world that admit of such most abundantly. Adam had present things to which he might give himself, and through the joy of which he might glorify God, and only one warning or threat revealed to his faith. Angels, too, have their full visible present delights. But the saint is in a world where all that is present is more or less astray from God, and against Him, so that he must go forth from them by faith towards things hoped for and unseen. This calls faith into the most varied and constant exercise, and this makes the saint a competent worshipper of God in the highest order of worship. And Jesus valued this opportunity of worshipping Him, for He loved God perfectly. He waited in such a temple continually. But we (with sorrow may we learn to say it!) want a heart to value God and His praise.
But while we thus look at the principle of faith, grieving that we know it so poorly, we may also look at the object of faith, and there we shall find abundant cause for joy. For God is good, unspeakably good. God is love. His delight is in mercy, and accordingly that which He reveals to our hearts, or that which He proposes as the great object of faith in this fallen world, is salvation. He offers this to our faith, that our hearts may at once rejoice before Him. The apostle says, “we have an altar whereof they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle:” a strong testimony to God's salvation, or the object of the sinner's faith. The servants or worshippers in the tabernacle were not made perfect in the conscience. The very place bore witness that the way to God was not then made manifest; and the sacrifices, with which the worshippers dealt continually, kept their sins in remembrance. (Heb. 9; 10) For such sacrifices could never dispose of sin. There was no such blood in them as could ever, let it be applied again and again, take it away. But now the saint has a purged conscience, because on his altar he sees blood which has obtained eternal redemption. His altar witnesses remission, and not remembrance, of sins.
This is the mighty distance between them. This keeps the worshippers in the tabernacle and the attendants on the New Testament altar, as the apostle tells us, asunder. The one cannot stand in company with the other. To understand the virtue of the altar is of necessity to quit the tabernacle. Assurance of heart in the remission of sins, or a purged conscience, is the due attribute of him who waits on the one, constant sense of sin the due condition of, him who serves or worships (λατρεὑοντες, Heb. 13:10) in the other. And this being so, what offering is that which the worshipper at the altar brings? Having apprehended the virtue of the blood there, what sacrifice does he in return pay? The answer comes, “by him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.” (Ver. 15.) Praise is the due fruit of a heart that has learned salvation, or the value of the altar-not prayer, but praise. A sinner has not prayer to make, but praise to render. A saint has many and many a prayer, it is true; daily weakness and short-coming and necessity lead him that way. That a sinner in prayer denies the value of the altar. Praise suits salvation, and it is as God the Savior that our altar reveals God to faith.
And what has faith to do but to let the blessed God take His own way, and show Himself in His goodness and glory? The heart that believes is silent before Him while He passes by. He is pleased by this altar which He has raised and revealed to provide for sinners; and who are we that we should stay His hand, or narrow the flow of His rich mercies? Let Him do His pleasure: He is the Lord. If the gospel propose to let us sinners see Him in the exercise of unspeakable goodness, it is the duty of the sinner just to look at Him; it is the way of faith to do nothing else. Faith thus in filthy Joshua allowed change of raiment without a question. He never broke silence, but just accepted the blessing and the glory. (Zech. 3) Faith in the convicted adulteress was silent while Jesus passed by in the still small voice, writing the memorial of her shame as on a sandy floor, which the next breeze would efface forever. (John 8) Faith in the camp of Israel, as we have now seen, after they had sinned away all their blessings by the golden calf, followed the patterns which were, one after another, unfolding the pledges of God's salvation in the golden sanctuary. (Ex. 35-40) All this was faith, which ever lets the Lord take His own way with the sinner, taking His own blessed revelation of Himself without a question, and thus honoring above everything, allowing that He has a right to bless even sinners if He please, and us ourselves as well as other sinners.
And this was the voice of the basket of first-fruits. (See Deut. 26) On the nation being settled in the land, they were to fill a basket with the various fruits thereof, and offer it before God's altar; acknowledging at the same time that all His promises had been made good, that He had accomplished all the goodness and mercy of which He had spoken to them, of which this mystic basket was now the witness and sample. And then they were to rejoice before the Lord their God, the nation thus simply owning all He had done for them, and all that He had been to them, and that they, poor perishing Syrians in themselves, could indeed rejoice in Him.
And this is just the pattern of a perishing sinner's faith, be he Syrian, Greek, or Jew. We have to lay out our basket before the Lord. This is faith. Conscience may confess sins that we have done; love may bring services and obedience: but faith tells what God is, and what He has done, in a rich and varied and overflowing witness. Liberty of conscience, joy in God, assurance and ease of heart, hope, largeness of desire, with other exercises suited to a soul consciously brought home to God, these should be the holy fruit to fill our baskets before the Lord. Affections, such as our altar may well awaken, should fill the heart and run over; affections that become pardoned sinners, the due fruit of that land to which the Savior brings us. This is our “first love,” our basket of first-fruits. Ephesus lost it. The fruit in the basket there had withered a little. For let come what other sacrifices may into God's house, this first offering should be always there in its freshness. Faith should always rejoice in what God has done, that thus the first love may be over young and lively.
But this is far from being the way of the, natural heart of man. His mind is not of this order. He clings to the law. Grace is too great and generous a thought for him. Work, rather than faith, is his master-principle. And this separates between his mind and God's mind. And this principle in man shows itself at times in God's choicest servants. For it is of the flesh, which is in us all. Look at David in 1 Chron. 17. He thought to do something for the Lord. But in that he wronged God. He did not think so, or mean so, but so it was; by that he was wronging God's love. For shall David be before the Lord in kindness? Shall David be better than God? Will David think of building God a house before the Lord has built him a house? That must not be. God will be God in His love as in everything. He will be better as well as greater than we. And therefore that very night, as though He could not rest under such a thing, the Lord tells Nathan to go and stop this purpose of David's heart. God's love had been wronged by it. The Lord would build him a house first, and then David or his son (in this sense the same) might build the Lord a house. And when David hears this through Nathan, the whole temper and current of his soul is changed. He at once sits before the Lord as a receiver, and does not act for the Lord as a giver. He does not talk any more of building a house for God, but rejoices in the thought of the Lord building a house for him. He leaves Martha's place, and takes Mary's more excellent place. (Luke 10:38.)
And this was faith again-faith that ever allows God to take His way and show Himself. What right has man to stop the way of the Lord? Shall he say to the Lord, when the Lord rises to unseal the sources of the river of life, “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther"? If goodness will glorify itself, shall unbelief dare to dim it? Who shall close the hand of the Lord of the vineyard, if He be pleased to give the penny? If they talk of law, is it not lawful for Him to do what He will with His own? God is the Lord of the well of life, and may He not turn its streams, if He please, to water the dreariest lands? He owns the springs themselves; and therefore let His rights as such owner be weighed and tried even in the balances of law, and it will be found that it is lawful for Him to use them as He may-He has a right to bless sinners if it please Him.
Faith simply gives Him His rights, and allows the lawfulness of God acting in grace to us; yea, even to ourselves, as well as to other sinners like us. For the less is blessed of the better; and as God justly claims for Himself the place of the better, faith fully owns the claim, and receives the blessing from Him, even the richest blessing, the blessing of eternal salvation, life and glory.
Thus it is faith which chiefly glorifies God, for it sets Him in the place of “the better.” Service renders to God, faith receives from Him, and thus faith honors Him in the holiest place that He graciously fills for us. In a sinner walking before Him, in the artless liberty and confidence of faith, God is especially honored. For “God is love,” and to glorify such an one we must be free and happy in Him. Love can be satisfied by nothing less than that. Of course, love knows how to “comfort the feeble-minded;” and where is “little faith,” it can well come and “support the weak,” for it tells us to do so. But still our joy in Him is His will, and even His commandment. The bread of mourners was not to be eaten in the sanctuary; it would have defiled the presence of God, as the offering of an unclean heart would have defiled it. For if holiness become God's house, so do liberty and joy. And it is faith that brings in this liberty and joy, for it apprehends the altar of which I have spoken; it apprehends God engaged for the sinner in a love that is perfect, so as to have nothing in the soul inconsistent with itself, as the bread of mourners would be. It casts out fear, and fills the temple within with its own clear, free, and refreshing element.
May our faith, then, beloved, grow exceedingly! May we know the repose of heart, the silence of conscience, the triumph of hope, and the song of praise in the spirit, which it gives, more and more! The revelation which our God has made of Himself is so blessed, that it is only such a faith that can duly honor it. O that in connection with our subject we were, beloved, more in harmony with the spirit of those sweet words which we sometimes have sung together-
“Look forward to that happy place,{br}Beyond the bounds of time and space,{br}The saints' secure abode:{br}On faith's strong eagle-pinions rise,{br}And, force your passage to the skies,{br}And scale the, mount of God:”
(Concluded from page 37.)

Brief Thoughts on 1 Chronicles 11-17

There is a great difference between the David of Chronicles and that of Samuel. The king in 1 Chronicles is the David of grace and blessing according to the counsels of God. The king in Samuel is the historical David exercised in responsibility.
In Chronicles we do not find the matter of Uriah nor that of Absalom. Even Joab with all his crimes, who is not cited in 2 Sam. 23, is here mentioned because he took the stronghold of Zion. This makes us understand what value Zion has in the eyes of God, and in what way the Chronicles regard the history. There is absolutely no evil reported, save that which is necessary to make us understand the history. In the books of Kings it is the history of Israel and the conduct of the kings under responsibility. In the books of Chronicles it is a question of God's mind, and in chapters 11 to 17 of the first book as to placing David in Jerusalem, chapter 10 having given us the fall of Saul.
Chapter 11.
David begins to reign over all Israel with the desires of the people; he begins at Zion. Afterward we have his valiant men, and their joy at installing him as king.
Chapter 12.
Here we see the heart of Israel returning to David, as it will return to Christ when He shall have established the throne in Zion. It is the heart of Israel which concentrates itself round the Beloved of God. Certain persons came when he was a stranger; now it is all Israel.
Chapter 13.
Then it is a question of putting the ark of God in its place. Before this the ark had been taken. (See Psa. 78:59-72.) It is sovereign grace which returns. He chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which He loved.
1st. God was wroth and greatly abhorred Israel, so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand.
2nd. With David God takes up His people and sanctuary. David re-commences all the history of Israel.
Then, if Psa. 132 be looked at, this feature will be seen as to the ark: it was the sign of the covenant finally, and a new thing to be set in Zion. When Moses in Num. 10 said, “Rise up, Lord,” he did not add “into thy rest.” The tabernacle in the wilderness could not be the rest of God. But Zion is the place that Jehovah chose for His rest. He desired it for His habitation. (Ver. 13.) And David enters into the mind of God. Compare verse 4. (“I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until,” &c.) We see in the Psalms generally all the deep feelings in the heart of David for God.
On the other hand God makes Himself respected, as we see in His dealing with Uzzah.
We have thus as a summary of all this: first, that God had rejected His tabernacle, Shiloh; and secondly, that meanwhile He gives prophets to sustain sovereign relations with His people till Messiah comes. Samuel had truly begun prophecy, which is not anything established, but only serves meanwhile. See the song of Hannah who figures the remnant there. Prophecy declares that God is all, come what may, and that He sustains all things till He have raised the house of His anointed. Thirdly, at last in His anointed He accomplishes His mind. The people no more wished to have God working by prophecy than when He wrought by priesthood. They demand a king, and God gives Saul. Meanwhile God prepares His anointed by affliction: Hebrews is just the counterpart of David's history. So, too; Jesus will reign over Judah before reigning over all Israel. In the Chronicles we have no history of David's reign in Hebron.
Chapter 14.
David king over all Israel renders himself terrible to the nations (ver. 17), as the Lord will in due time. (Zech. 9; Mic. 5) Victory follows dependence and obedience; and as the blessing of Jehovah comes, the fame of David goes out everywhere. Psa. 18 finds its place here: in taking it all one must place it a little later.
Chapter 15.
David now has no rest till he has prepared a resting-place for the ark of Jehovah; even as the Lord also, in the midst of conflicts, will have no rest till He establishes the tie between God and His people.
Knowing that the tabernacle was abandoned, David did not dream of putting the ark in the tabernacle. This would have been to restore things on the spoiled footing of the law. The external routine had quite fallen short of God's glory. The king takes the lead, as priesthood had failed; and the ark is put in the seat of kingly power; as Christ the deliverer in grace will order all by-and-by in Zion, whence the rod of His power is to go forth.
Then (ver. 16) David institutes choral worship or psalmody: Heman, Asaph, and even David himself in an ephod of linen danced and played. It was he that recalled the due place of the Levites, and summoned the priests in their due order, who also had the singers appointed with instruments of music, psalteries, and harps, and cymbals sounding by lifting up the voice with joy. All is new here and in relation to David's mind touching Zion, the center chosen, after having left aside the tabernacle at Gibeon and all the order established primitively by Moses. “So David, and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of Jehovah out of the house of Obed-edom with joy. And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams. And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen. Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of Jehovah with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps. And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of Jehovah came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing and playing; and she despised him in her heart.” (Vers. 25-29.) Nevertheless David was not king and priest like Solomon, though it be true that his faith made all the joy of the people of God. It is a sort of anticipation of the true Melchizedek.
Chapter 16.
This song is composed of several Psalms. We find here all the principles on which God founds the blessing of His people for the last day. But there is a remarkable difference—that He does not put them in the definitive blessing.
There is to begin a part of Psa. 105 He shows how He kept Abraham. He recalls the faithfulness of God toward them until then and bids them recollect it. Only He bids Israel be mindful always of His covenant without saying yet that He remembers it, because it is not yet the full blessing.
From verse 23 we have Psa. 96 It is always an invitation. It is not yet Psa. 98 where all is accomplished. The temple is wanting, &c.
From verse 84 we have the beginning of the Psalms which celebrate the faithfulness of God, 106, 107, 108, and 136. Psa. 106 is His goodness faithful forever, in presence of all the unfaithfulness of Israel. Psa. 107 is that which He has done to gather at the last day. Psa. 108 is the celebration of the Messiah come back. It is the psalm in which it is said that the stone rejected by the builders is become the head of the corner. Psa. 136 is the celebration of God's goodness which begins from the creation, and goes through to the millennium. In this psalm mercy occupies the place from one end to the other. After this in verses 35,36 he cites still the end of Psa. 106. One sees by verse 35 that at this moment, as in Psa. 106, all Israel is not yet brought back and everything not yet restored. Only the pledge of the covenant is there. Alt the scene of the re-commencement of the relations of God with Israel is found in the Chronicles.
In verses 39-43 the altar was still with the tabernacle at Gibeon. It was a high place which one had to condemn in following David who had the fresh truth. Faith did so, though Solomon did not, but clung to the altar. However David with the priests to offer burnt-offerings established Heman and Jeduthun, &c., to give thanks to Jehovah because His mercy endures forever. It is thus that one can judge what is old system in the church; though we can also say, His mercy endures forever. The altar there was a testimony to the fallen state of the people, for the ark was not in the tabernacle.
It is touching to see that the Chronicles were written in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. At that time it was less necessary to say all the sins of the people than to say, His mercy endures forever.
A basis is laid for all in Christ's death, and by His resurrection all are sure mercies to be displayed at His coming and kingdom.
Chapter 17.
Here the condition laid upon the seed of David is not found as in 2 Sam. 7 God did not allow David to build the temple; because, when He would glorify Himself in the midst of the people", it was necessary that it should be in peace and that there be no more enemies. The warrior was the character of David, though at that moment there was rest all around. Because of that David could not build the house of Jehovah. Nevertheless as depositary of promises he learns that Jehovah will build him a house (ver. 10), and that his son should build Him a house, as He would establish his house for evermore. ( Vers. 12-14.)
How touching is the prayer of David on this occasion! (Vers. 6-27.)

Thoughts on Psalm 16

As Psa. 15 gives the character of those who will have their portion with Christ in His kingdom, when God sets Him as King in Zion, so in Psa. 16 Christ Himself seems to say, I have come down from that place God Himself had assigned me, and taken my place in the pathway of faith—the very same that you are in—the place of rejection, of sorrow, of suffering, the place that the godly remnant find themselves in. Therefore is His cry to God. He used not His own divine power to escape any suffering; and, remember, it was not suffering for sin, not chastening, but the path of faith—as He says, “Thou wilt show me the path of life.” Therefore had He His ear opened morning by morning. He fully entered into the sorrows of the wilderness. There is not a sorrow comes upon a saint, not a trial of faith in which we can find ourselves, but Christ can fully sympathize with us in it. If we only set our foot in the narrow way (it is with the new nature He sympathizes), then we find this blessed One has been before us. It is astonishing how much we are sustained by circumstances, how we lean upon the circumstances that the Lord had never in His path. Much of our joy is derived from a thousand things that Christ never had joy in, that never gave Him a moment's sustainment. We may find ourselves losing, or in danger of losing, some of these things by faithfulness. What then! We shall only be brought nearer to the Lord Himself. If the path becomes rougher than it ever was before, surely we shall find only the more of the sympathy of Him who has trodden it in all its roughness. Therefore can He be called “the Author and Finisher of faith,” because He has run the whole course of faith. He has suffered every kind of suffering and trial that besets the path. We may each one of us have this or that peculiar trial or sorrow. Ours is but a taste of that which He drank to the dregs—like a shade of that which in its real depth of grief He knew. The contradiction of sinners beset Him on every side.
We may know somewhat of it in any little measure of faithfulness we show. We may be called to give up father and mother, or, as the Lord says, “hate father and mother,” &c. But what had He to comfort Him from any such sources? Everything like a prop here was gone, yet could He say in the face of all that, “The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, yea, I have a goodly heritage. Thou wilt show me the path of life.”
Suppose death comes, Jesus could say, “My flesh also shall rest in hope.” Hezekiah knew and said in his trial, By all these things men live, and in all these things is the life of the Spirit.
There is chastening, and the like, needed by us; but Christ never sought to do anything but to please God. His sufferings therefore proceeded only from His walking in the path of life. All that could try faith came upon Him, while He was without anything that we have so fully that could sustain nature. Still, we find Him in death trusting in God. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither,” &c. The path of life was perfectly opened out to us in Christ. There is a deep joy in entering in spirit into Christ's paths. The remnant enter into it in Psa. 20. The thorough realizing of what Christ was as a man down here. There is nothing lays hold on the heart, nothing feeds it, like that. Every sorrow that the heart of any can go through, as walking in the path of righteousness, Jesus knew in His path. This renders His sympathy so peculiarly sweet. Any exaggeration would be dangerous on this subject, thus taking away our portion. It is true fellowship with Christ's sufferings that gives the energy of hope.
That is drawn out by the glory being unfolded to us by His sufferings. I am more and more struck, in reading the Psalms thus, as connected with the Jews.
When I look at the church, I can only say it is nothing but sovereign grace that picks up wretched sinners, and links them with Jesus, giving them the same place, the same portion, “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” I can only gaze with wonder, and adore. It was the counsel of God from everlasting—His sovereign grace! I cannot then talk of God's government, or His dealings with us, since no principles of government could make us members of Christ's body, &c. It was all sovereign grace! The church is the fullness, the body, of Christ. Once lay hold of that, and what is the consequence? It draws out wonder, admiration, worship! But that is not all; there is another thing.
What mercy to know that my salvation is secure! But now as set free from anxiety about myself I am to be occupied with Him by whom all this wondrous work was wrought. I find there is not a sorrow or difficulty in the pathway of life which He is not interested in. This is other knowledge than the knowledge of salvation. It draws out trust, and confidence, and love, as Job says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” We find Christ Himself going through it all—not suffering for sin indeed, but for righteousness. Only on the cross did He know what it was to suffer for sin—our sins. There indeed He knew the forsaking of God. If I suffer as a saint, I find the full sympathy of Jesus. If for sin, the Lord has no sympathy with sin, though He Himself needed to suffer for us, and thus to become known to us as the Bread that came down from heaven, and giving His flesh for the life of the world. (John 6) Do you thus feed upon Him? Do you know Him as thus made the food for your souls, that which turns into the substance of life? Then feed on Him. This is what the knowledge of Him leads to. It is another ling from the energy of hope. The effect of being occupied with the glory, where Christ now is, is to enable us to overcome the difficulties that obstruct our way, to reach forward; as occupation with His walk as a man shows us the path of godliness. We tee Him taking it in His baptism. When those whose eyes were opened to see the principles of the kingdom (conscious that they were bearing anything but the good fruit) took the place of confession, Jesus was there. The One who had so fully taken the place as man as to say to God, “Thou art my Lord,” says also of the saints, “In them is all my delight.” We find this in Heb. 2— “He is not ashamed to call them brethren, for both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one.”
“Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,” &c. His state was not having a will to do something or other that must be stopped; no, He could say, “Lo, I come to do thy will.” Such is Christian obedience, and true liberty, not to require checking in our wills, but to have the same kind of obedience as Christ's. He stands alone in His sufferings in our stead. Nothing equals the glory that He will have as the Savior of sinners. Other glory we share with Him, but in that He is alone. In His walk He set us an example. In His trust in God, &c., He never takes a single step to get the reward of obedience, but asks of His Father, as in John 17, “Father, glorify thou me,” &c.; and here, in the simplest confidence, “Thou wilt not leave my soul,” &c. Patience with Him had its perfect work. He never stirs even when they told Him, “He whom thou lovest is sick.” He waited patiently till the right time; and now His desire for His people is that they might have His joy fulfilled in themselves—that joy which He knew when He said, “My meat is to do the will,” &c. He trod the path of sorrow and rejection here, but He had joy in that very path, as He says, “The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places.”
In Psa. 22 we get the cry of the Lord at the cross. No suffering for sin till then, but the great principle of the communion of Christ with the sorrows of the new nature in the saints was true before them.
In the measure in which we enter into the path, we get communion with Christ. The affections of Christ more known to us, we become better acquainted, as it were, with the heart of Christ. This is not a question of safety, but of growing up unto Him.
The heavens were opened over Him when He took the place publicly of identifying Himself with those who were in reality the godly.
When we get into that place, the Spirit of God can lead us into the understanding of these things—taking of the things of Christ, and showing them unto us. But if we say, I am not there, cannot we delight in tracing Christ in it? Even if we are not walking in the place as we should be, it is most blessed to trace His walk in it. It is our privilege to walk in it, our highest privilege here; and so only shall we be fully able to enjoy our proper portion, Christ, as led and taught of the Spirit.

Psalm 25

God makes us understand that He occupies Himself with our sins long before we ourselves were occupied with them. If the goodness of God is occupied with them, it must be that He is so to get rid of them altogether, and He has given Jesus for this purpose. To blot out our sins completely—there is what God's goodness would and must do. But if one would arrive at pardon by progress in holiness, it is to choose the road for oneself. God puts the sinner at his case in His presence by showing him his sins on the head of Jesus. His glory would not be complete if the believer were not justified. It is a salvation accomplished forever that God presents to us, and the soul is in peace. All this is for His name's sake.
If the soul is assured of the goodness of God, would it love to keep some sins? No; the conscience set free from the thick layer of old sins becomes more delicate. If we are truly quickened, what we find in ourselves after our conversion is much more painful to us than the sins were before conversion. But Jesus is dead, knowing what we were and because of what we are. Such as I am, God loves me; His name is here in question, and His name in goodness. God has condemned sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3.), in that Christ, having become man, was made sin for us. (2 Cor. 5:19-21.) He has been sacrificed for us. (Heb. 9) The name of God who is love is thus revealed by everything that God has done for us in Jesus.
God is upright also, and He teaches the sinner and leads him. This comes after pardon. The first is He is good; then comes truth, though man's heart thinks the inverse. if we are in relation with a God of goodness, how will that appear? Up to what point should He be manifested to us? Up to showing to the ages to come the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:7.) God has before Him the most wretched of sinners (take the robber on the cross); and what will He do to display to the angels, &c., in heaven the riches of His goodness; He will take us, once wretched, and set us in the same glory as Christ Himself.
It is in us God shows what He is. You, who say you are most feeble and miserable, it is you God would choose, if he would show the immense riches of His grace. He cannot stop in this goodness; and it is not humility to put limits to His goodness by saying we are too little and unworthy. He forgives for the sake of His own name. (1 John 2:12.) He restores and leads for His own name's sake. He begins, continues, and finishes up to heaven itself and always for the sake of His name. (Phil. 1) There is the only thing which makes the soul upright, sincere, and open before God, because there remains no subject of fear with regard to sin, and there is never uprightness in the heart till our consciences have seen and felt what we are before God as sinners pardoned. The moment that the soul says, “For thy name's sake, O Jehovah, pardon mine in iniquity; for it is great,” it cannot but be that God manifests Himself. One then makes progress in Him, and one finds the sweet assurance that God is ever good and upright for the sinner.

Thoughts on Isaiah 6-7

Here it is a question of the glory of Christ, as we see by comparing John 12:40 with verse 10 of our chapter. The prophet sees here Christ as Jehovah of hosts who is manifested in the temple; the Spirit of God, putting together His glory and the state of His people, judges this state in reference to that glory. This is the Spirit of prophecy and of faith.
The unity and the condition of the church, do they answer to the heart of the Bridegroom Everything for us is to be in accordance with God. The state of His people, was it according to the glory of Christ which it is my privilege to share?
Woe is me for I am undone.” He judges the state of the people, his own conscience being touched. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, &c. God establishes the prophet. The witness of prophecy consists in the setting forth of the holiness of God in the midst of His people. The live coal from off the altar had touched his lips, and his iniquity was taken away and sin purged.
There is a moment when the people of God become, as happened to the land of Pharaoh, the occasion of the outward manifestation of God's judgments: a serious and terrible thought, yet suitable. For where ought God to execute His righteous judgments if not where His light has been diffused and disobeyed? There must fall most stripes. (Luke 12) It is Christendom which is now charged with this responsibility. It is for these times the vine of the earth, the grapes of which shall be trodden in the winepress of His indignation. (Rev. 14) God will send them strong delusion. (2 Thess. 2:9-12.) It is just so here for the Jews of that day. “Make fat the heart of this people,” not the Gentiles. (Ver. 10.) Christendom that received not the hive of the truth that they might be saved shall be judged in the same way. God will send them the working of delusion that they may believe the lie.
The judgment must go on to an entire desolation. (Vers. 11, 12.) There is a manifestation of glory, the prophetic testimony of purged lips, judgment on the people and land; but there is also the spirit of intercession, along with and by the Spirit of prophecy. Only we must remember that the Jews are to be restored on earth, the church will be glorified in heaven.
The Spirit of faith knows that it is impossible for God to abandon His people forever. He subjects them to judgment up to desolation; but says the prophet, “Lord, how long?” He knows that there is a term and that finally grace abounds for the people. There will be a tenth (ver. 13); then it is over again cropped down; but the holy seed, that is, the remnant, will be manifested. During winter the tree seems dead; but in spring when the grace of God renews its shining on the people, the tree recovers.
This prophecy was given in the year that Uzziah died, and iniquity began to draw near under Jotham. The spirit of faith is pre-occupied with the glory of God, does not hide sin, but counts on grace spite of sin. The principles which apply here are found again also for the church, though the details of application may not be the same. The church cannot say, Lord, how long? for the earth; but the responsibility of the vineyard, cultivated yet bearing bad fruit, abides. We may desire for our souls intelligence in God's ways toward His people, and the application to ourselves and to the church of these great principles.
Nothing is more important for our souls than the church as an order of things here below for manifesting the glory of Christ during His absence. Our judgment on the state of the church should have as its rule the manifestation of Christ's glory as the Head in heaven. I cannot have a deep feeling of the benefits conferred by anyone without having the sense of the responsibility that results from the relationship. If we have unclean lips and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; we shall gain nothing by hiding from us the glory of Christ.
Chapter 7.
In general the prophets date their prophecies from the name of the kings during whose reign they prophesied. One always finds in their writings something which gave rise to their prophecy. Here it is the reign of Ahaz. The prophecy of Isaiah pertains to his last days.
Prophecy does not appear when the people walk according to God's mind. There might be a walk which appears good, but which goes little by little into evil. Before Israel made the fall of the golden calf, there was no need of a prophet, any more than during the leading of Joshua; for Israel enjoyed the goodness of God. When the state of the people is bad generally, God must encourage the remnant by prophecy, which is not only the revelation of things to come but also a testimony given. Prophecy is also a means of deliverance; it always condemns those in whose midst it takes place; it is the judgment of existing evil and the revelation of the method God is going to employ to deliver. Noah divinely warned condemned the world by building the ark; he prophesied the deluge for 120 years, because the wickedness of men was come to its height, and deliverance was in the ark. That judgment should be executed on the world, it was needful that it should be announced beforehand. Such is the principle. Prophecy is an appeal to repentance, for it is a manifestation which exists; it is not yet judgment, but still grace. There is always necessarily revelation for the faithful remnant from Him whose strength never fails. It is always Christ, in whom everything ends without exception: even all the course of this world concurs to the glory of Christ.
If we examine these two reigns, we see prosperity, and in part fidelity. It is said of Uzziah, “he did that which was right in the sight of Jehovah;” and the same of his son Jotham. God not having yet withdrawn His hand, there were blessings belonging to them; but look at what there was below. When the Spirit of God acts, He takes cognizance of evil and sees what sin is; He does not pass lightly over things and persons as the heart of man does, but wishes the good of the people and their conversion. Therefore does He take account of evil, and that before it is manifested; for He does not withdraw His hand till there is no remedy.
Such is the place prophecy holds in the ways of God, but at the same time it nourishes and strengthens faith by showing in the glory of the Messiah the remedy for all evil. All the moral power of prophecy is taken away if we do not consider the things to come without considering the action of God for the moment. Anna spoke of Christ to all those who, feeling the state of things, looked for redemption.
To understand prophecy one must understand what God says as He says it, just believing simply the things as they are said. It is because of not following this plain rule that people find so many difficulties.
There is one circumstance more, which shows God's attitude toward Ahaz and Hezekiah. Ahaz took away the altar which was before Jehovah and put in its place a pagan one. At that time the house of David being the last support, its fall dragged with it and displays the end of Israel; while Hezekiah who succeeded is like the resurrection for Israel, and displays the coming blessing for the remnant when Christ shall appear in His glory.
The Spirit of God thinks always of His people according to their privileges; when the heart is far from God, it judges otherwise than God does and according to its actual evil state. But God cannot do so. One must see the church as God formed it for Himself; and God cannot derogate from His holiness nor from the estimation He has made of it. Conscience cannot judge soundly if it judge according to its state and not its privileges; for it is according to our privileges that God always judges. When God judges, He compares the state of things present with what was when He set it up: and He sees only wounds and putrefying sores, and nothing whole. God judges and thinks according to our privileges; and we cannot judge soundly save when we judge as God judges, and this makes us humble.
“Make the heart of this people fat,” &c. (Isa. 6:10): when was this an accomplished fact? Seven hundred years later, after Christ and even the testimony of the Spirit had been rejected. Before the execution faith judges, and the judgment is in God's mind long before it happens. When the Christian is divinely warned by prophecy of the state of condemnation before the end, if he wait for it, all is lost. Prophecy supposes the knowledge of God, who was in relation with Israel till John the Baptist.
Let us now look back and compare all we have had with chapters vi., vii., and all the rest of the book. When Jehovah says (Isa. 1:24), “I will ease me of mine adversaries and avenge me of mine enemies,” He spoke of those in Israel. It is most terrible when the people of God take such a place as is not said of the poor sinner ignorant of God. There is a consuming fire for the adversaries. (Heb. 10:27.) God's people become of His judgments. There will be a remnant, but for the mass of the people judgment. Yet Zion shall be restored according to God's faithfulness. The separation of the remnant will take place at the end, judgment will fall on the people, not on the remnant. Those that return shall be redeemed by righteousness and Zion by judgment. It is a great mistake to think that chapter 2: 2-4 is yet accomplished. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he shall judge, among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” There are two things: Jerusalem the center, and Jerusalem compared with what it was. Judgment must be executed; and Zion, delivered by this judgment, becomes the center of power, all nations flowing to it. In what follows one sees the moral judgment which was not executed till seven hundred years after it was pronounced. The day of Jehovah will be against all that is lifted up, for His Spirit judges all, and His hand will subject all to His power. It is only His people that are His enemy, none on earth like those who have not received the love of the truth that they might be saved, they will be faithful to Antichrist. There is nothing so opposed to God as what is near God, as we see in Judas. There must be judgment on all that is proud and lofty. The haughty looks of man shall be humbled. If there is in our hearts a single object that we desire to exalt us, it will be judged and broken. That clay is against all the oaks of Bashan, &c.
Such is the sum given us in this book as to Jews and Gentiles, the first four chapters being introductory, with details in chapters 3, 4. Chapter 5 begins a pleading with God's people, chapter vi. interrupting the prophecy to give the prophet his mission, and chapters 7 to 9:7 the birth of Messiah in relation to Israel and the land, the Assyrian attacks, and the power of Messiah triumphant. Chapter 9: 8 resumes the chastisements on Israel with deliverance in the end, chapters 11, 12, for there is always deliverance after judgment.
From chapter 13 to 35 are the details of judgments on the nations, and of what will happen to Israel, that is, Judah and Ephraim, followed by the typical history of Hezekiah in chapters 36-39.
Chapter 40 begins with comfort for the people from Jehovah, with their chastening from His hand for their wickedness, first, in idolatry, next in rejecting the Messiah, and their glory and blessing when they repent and He is received. The thought of God does not stop till He has shown that grace over-abounds and till He sets His people in blessing. The way in which the Holy Spirit judges all is by referring all to His blessing if we have not full confidence in His goodness. One cannot have full confidence in His goodness without also having a full conviction of the sad state of God's people; if we avoid pronouncing this judgment on the actual state of things and on ourselves as sharing the same moral state, we cannot know all the goodness of God. Israel is taken as His witness against idolatry and also of the rejection of Messiah; so that the end is to identify the nations with Israel, and all that which is identified with evil shall suffer the effects of the evil. Two things shall happen together, terrible times and the return of Christ in power and glory.
We see in chapter 4: 3 that all the escaping of Jerusalem shall be written to life. There will be a manifestation of glory in this world, as in a little measure there was in the wilderness. “And Jehovah will create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” (Vers. 5, 6.) We have here the judgment of Israel and the glory manifested. The first four chapters give us the end of all as to Israel, but glory at last. Prophecy always supposes a state of displeasure on God's part, but blessing and glory after judgment. It was given to be believed and understood before accomplishment. If God charges anyone by a message, he must understand it before the judgment, else for him it is useless: to say the contrary is Satan's snare, for in understanding it only when accomplished, the moral effect is lost. To have God making known His mind in what does not touch ourselves directly, we have the great proof of His love and enjoy communion with Him, which always separates us more from a world about to be judged.
Jerusalem being the center of the things which must come to pass, one must be at the center to take in the circle. There was but one prophet sent to the heathen, Jonah to Nineveh. God ever sends warning before judgment, showing also the interest He takes in the creature.
Hear what the Spirit says in chapter 5. It is important to remark that it is always the Spirit of Christ. (1 Peter 1:10, 11.) We shall ever find allusion to Christ; and if we read without understanding that it is Christ who speaks or is spoken of, they are lost for us.
In general prophecy applies as here to a people with whom God is in relation. God calling His people to consider their state, He would reveal His judgments to them, but begins by making them pay attention. “My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; and he fenced it,” &c. (Ver. 12.) It is the plaint of God in recalling to His people what He has done for them. This applies to our consciences. God has a right to look for fruit according to the pains He took, and if there were none, there must be necessarily judgment. God never stops at what is spoiled to repair the breaches; He looks at what He did at the beginning, and compares it with the actual state. Therefore does the Lord say to the angel of the church in Ephesus, “Thou hast left thy first love.” (Rev. 2:4.) What God demands of us is that we look at what He did at the beginning, and that we compare ourselves, not with the actual state that is spoiled, but with the fruits and testimonies given at the start; and if we do not bear these fruits, we are guilty, and here is the consequence. “Judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.” The principle of verses 3, 4 applies also to the church.
The fact is that God's people are reduced to silence. Israel was placed under responsibility, as is the church; and, if enjoying all the privileges, they failed, all fails on man's part. God has chosen Israel for His glory on earth, and the church also for His glory in heaven; and we must not confound ourselves with Him. We have failed, but God will accomplish all in Christ. There is always man failing under responsibility and Christ who does not fail; and God executes by Him judgment on the creature, whether Israel or the church. Judgment will come before God accomplishes His purposes of glory.
“And now go to: I will tell you what I will do,” &c. ( Vers. 5-7.) Judah was the plant of Jehovah's pleasure, but it brought forth wild grapes. God judges the vineyard, as also Christendom. We have enjoyed superior advantages, and, our Christian responsibility being greater, judgment will also be greater. God enters into details to show the righteousness of His judgments. It is not only covetousness ending in desolation, and corrupt luxury in death and hell, but excuses for iniquity growing up to contempt of divine judgment, as we see in the profane indifference of Christendom when men have God's warnings and think they will never be executed. “There shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3, 4.) It answers to the insult of God in verses 18, 19. “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: that say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it.”
Another character still is lack of discernment in good and evil. Satan brings about transgression and hardening of the conscience; his desire is always to darken the intelligence, as the desire of the Christian should be always more and more to judge according to God. It was the prayer of the apostle that the Colossians (chap. 1: 9) should be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. So Eph. 1:17. It is what distinguishes from those of whom it is here said, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Vers. 20, 21.)
“Because they have cast away the law of Jehovah of hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel, therefore is the anger of Jehovah kindled against his people, and he hath stretched his hand against them and hath smitten them.” (Vers. 24, 25.) God does not strike all at once. He sends partial judgments, and since they do not awaken, worse judgments; but there is always before it forbearance and mercy on God's part. What God did at the beginning is the great principle that God recalls to His people. Therefore is He just in His judgments.
In chapter 6 is another principle. God speaks there, not of what He did at the beginning, but of glory. When I compare the state of the primitive church, I say, Where are we? I can also say, What glory! There is what God would give, and He shows the glory of God in His temple. Israel will be blessed by His manifestation and the enjoyment of this glory. But if the people is unclean, they must have only judgment and not glory. Read verses 1-4 for the manifestation of the glory of Christ Himself. They could not comprehend, because the heart of the people was grown fat, as we see in verses 9, 10. But where the glory was presented to Isaiah, he says, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts.” (Ver. 5.) Such is the conviction of the prophet before God; he has the understanding of good and evil, instead of being overjoyed that he had seen Jehovah. This makes him say, Woe is me! The only thing that it becomes one to say is Woe is me! “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” (Vers. 6, 7.) Because he is thus purged, the prophet is rendered capable of being a messenger and says to God, “Here am I; send me.” (Ver. 8.) “And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.” (Ver. 9.) From the moment it is a question of presenting the people, it is “Make the heart of this people fat,” &c. It is no longer a question of repentance. The time of judgment is come: repentance is for the remnant. This will be infallibly. Pharaoh was blinded that God might deliver His people; and for those who refuse to receive His testimony, God shall send them strong delusion. For He has been patient to the last degree, but they refuse instruction from Him. He deals with Christendom as with Israel.
God is long-suffering; for seven hundred years elapsed since the threat till its execution. When He sent the Heir, every means had been exhausted: I do not speak of efficacious grace. His people said, We shall have the world without God if we get rid of the Heir. If the Christian understands the mind of God, this separates his heart from the actual state of things, because he sees the course of this world which does not understand God. If the Spirit of God gives intelligence to the prophet and to us, one also understands that it is not forever. “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a toil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” (Vers. 11-13.) One must own that the judgment is just, but God is faithful. It is only for a time; though it will come, and though there be judgments, the church shall be in glory. So there will be a remnant of the Jews, but it will be anew consumed; they will come into the land, but the Gentiles will come also: as the oak and the teil-tree, which being cut down have still the trunk; “so the holy seed shall be their stock.” God guards His remnants.
When the prophet's mouth was purged, God tells him the judgment, when he turns to intercession. We ought to understand these principles and apply them, not to Israel only, but to the church and to each individual. The beginning of conversion goes well, but afterward —! One must judge oneself, or God judges us in His love, for He is always love. If God saves us perfectly in Christ, we are brought in to be the objects of His Father by government; and when a Christian walks for the glory of God, he is happy and can say, Send me; for God never fails for those who trust in Him.

Notes on John 17:24-26

The closing section of our Lord's words is quite distinct in its character, and yet more intimate, as is marked by His use of θέλω “I will” (or “desire") for the first and only time throughout His prayer.
“Father, those (or, that) which thou hast given me, I will that where I am they also may be with me, that they may behold thy glory which thou hast given me, because thou lovedst me before the world's foundation. Righteous Father, both the world knew thee not, and I knew thee, and these knew that thou didst send me; and I made thy name known to them and will make [it] known, that the love wherewith thou lovedst me may be in them and I in them.” (Vers. 24-26.)
First, the Lord desires of the Father that those whom He had given Him should be with Him where He is. He is in spirit on high before the Father, and would have His own with Himself there, It is no question of display in glory before the world, even though in the closest association with Him; it is to be with Himself where no stranger can (I do not say merely, intermeddle with the joy, but) look on Him or them, in the hidden scene which divine love forms for its deepest satisfaction. There the Father has the Son after glorifying Himself perfectly in the face of all possible difficulty, and the suffering entailed not by creature opposition and malice, but by divine judgment of God on that evil, the consequences of which must be borne unsparingly by Him, who would vindicate God on the one hand, and on the other deliver to the uttermost the guilty, so far as suited the gracious purpose of God. And this Jesus did in absolute obedience, as became Himself a man in grace beyond measure and at all cost; this He did in infinite suffering to His Father's praise, who acquired fresh and everlasting glory and could thenceforward act as freely as righteously according to His nature and His love.
And now, as we have seen at the beginning of the chapter, going to heaven on the ground not of His personal title only but of His work, He expresses His desire that His own also, the disciples whom the Father had given Him, should be with Him above, “that they may behold my glory.” It is not on the one hand that which is personal from everlasting to everlasting, beyond creature ken, that in the Son which I presume none really knows nor can, save the Father who is not said to reveal Him. Neither is it on the other hand the glory given to the blessed Lord which is to be manifested even to the world in that day, in which glory we are to be manifested along with Him. Here it is proper to Himself on high, yet given Him by the Father, as we are in His perfect favor to behold it: a far higher thing than any glory shared along with us, and which the Lord, reckoning on unselfish affections divinely formed in us, looks for our valuing accordingly, as more blessed in beholding Him thus than in aught conferred on ourselves. It is a joy for us alone, wholly outside and above the world, and given because the Father loved Him before its foundation. None but the Eternal could be thus glorified, but it is the secret glory which none but His own are permitted to contemplate, “blest answer to reproach and shame,” not the public glory in which every eye shall see Him. Nothing less than that meets His desire for us. How truly even now our hearts can say that He is worthy!
Next, the Lord draws the line definitively between the world and His own, and makes it turn not on rejecting Himself but on ignoring His Father. Here therefore it is a question of judgment in result, however grace may tarry and entreat; and therefore He says, “Righteous Father,” not “Holy Father,” as in verse 11 where He asks Him to keep them in His name, as He Himself had done whilst with them. Now He sets forth not the lawlessness of the world, not its murderous hatred of Himself or of His disciples, nor yet of the grace and truth revealed in the gospel, nor of the, corruptions of Christianity and the church which we are sure lay naked and opened before His all-seeing eyes, but that on the one side the world knew not the Father, and on the other that the Son did, as the disciples that the Father sent the Son: words simple and briefly said, but how solemn in character and issues!
Never was so competent a witness of anyone or anything, as Christ of the Father. Yet the world knew Him not, nor received His testimony for a moment, but rose up more and more against it till all closed in the cross. Thenceforward He is hid in heaven, and those who believe in Him are heavenly. False pretension to it is salt that has lost its savor. And all those who are true are the first to own that all turns for them on the Son's knowledge of the Father, as they themselves knew the Father sent Him. It is no question of themselves at all, but of the Father; and He is only known in the Son, whom He sent; and this is eternal life, whether now had in Christ or enjoyed without alloy when we behold His glory on high; as ignorance of the Father implies the guilty rejection of the Son, to the everlasting loss, and not merely passing judgment, of the world.
But, lastly, where Christ is known as the Father's sent One, the deepest blessing and the highest privileges are even now given, and not merely what awaits the saints at Christ's coming. “And I made known to them thy name, and will make known, that the love wherewith thou lovedst me may be in them, and I in them.” If ever there was one capable of estimating another, it was the Son in respect of the Father; and His name, the expression of what He was, with equal competency He made known to us. He had done it on earth to the disciples; He would do so from heaven whither He was going; and this that He might give them, and give us, the consciousness of the same love of the Father which rested ever on Himself here below. As if to cut off the not unnatural hesitation of the disciples, He adds the blessed guarantee in His own being in them, their life. For they could understand that, if they lived of His life, and could be somehow as He before the Father, the Father might love them as Him. This is just what He does give and secure by identification with them, or rather as He puts it, “and I in them.” Christ is all and in all.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

It is not here said that the body of the saint is the temple of God, as we see in 1 Cor. 6, but that the saints are His temple; and it is added that accordingly God said, I will dwell among them and will walk among [them], and will be their God, and they shall be my people: an Old Testament promise and privilege (Ex. 29; Lev. 26; Ezek. 37:7), but better enjoyed now, when His presence is given not in a merely sensible sign as then, but in the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven since Pentecost. Redemption in figure or in reality, as often observed, laid the ground for God's dwelling thus.
With this great privilege is ever bound up the imperative obligation of separation to God from all evil. Holiness becomes, and must be in, the dwelling-place of God. No doubt the heathen then as ever are characterized by all sorts of corruption morally: but it is not from heathenism only but from every evil that God calls out the believer and insists on habitual avoidance and judgment of it.
“Wherefore come out from the midst of them and be separated, saith [the] Lord, and touch not an unclean thing; and I will receive you and will be to you for Father, and ye shall be to me for sons and daughters, saith [the] Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us purify ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God's fear.” ( Vers. 17, 18; chap. 7: 1.)
If privilege abide and be deepened since redemption, more obviously moral truth is seen with increasing clearness and force. The conscience is purged by blood, the heart by faith. God must have His own holy, for He is holy; and this not only in an inward way, without which all would be hypocrisy, but in outward ways also to His own glory, unless He would be a partner with us to His own dishonor. He will have us clear from associations which are worldly and defiling; He will exercise our souls in order to freedom from all that denies or despises His will. He would not force others, nay He refuses not things only but persons also that are of the world; He commands those that believe to come out from those that believe not, and to be separated. Indeed the union of the two is so monstrous that it never could be defended for a moment by a true heart; it is only when selfish interests or strong prejudices work that men gradually accustom and harden themselves to disobedience so flagrant and in every way disastrous. For as the man of the world cannot rise to the level of Christ, to be together with him, the Christian must descend to the level of fallen Adam and the world; and God is thus and ever more and more put to shame, in what claims to be His house with a loudness proportioned to its departure from His word.
Here again the Holy Spirit led the apostle to borrow words from various parts of the Old Testament, especially Isa. 52:11, Ezek. 20:34, 2 Sam. 7:8, 14, Isa. 43:6. Apostolic gift only enforced divine authority, and expressed itself in terms drawn freely from various parts of scripture. Nor could any other way have been chosen so wise or pertinent if the aim was to show the will of God and His promises. It is here to encourage individual submission to His word, as before for the enjoyment of His presence in common. There they were His temple in virtue” of His dwelling and walking about among them; here He says, “I will receive you and will be to you for Father, and ye shall be to me for sons and daughters.” It is our new relationship in positive blessing and supposes the divine nature given to us.
But there is another thing of much moment as well as interest to observe. Jehovah as such is introduced under the Septuagintal form of “Lord” (κὐριος) and so without the article; and still more “Lord Almighty.” That is, in Old Testament form Jehovah Shaddai now brings out His New Testament relationship to those who in the obedience of faith come out from among the men of the world to be His sons and daughters. For these are the great relations into which God—Elohim—enters, as revealing Himself, first to the fathers as Almighty (Gen. 17:1; 27:3; 35:11; 48:3), then as Jehovah to the children of Israel (Ex. 6:3, &c.), lastly as Father, which was reserved for the Son to declare, not only out of the fullness of enjoyment and in testimony, but bringing us into it in virtue of His death and resurrection (John 20:17, &c.) And to our souls what more instructive than the fact everywhere patent, that those saints who cling to the world, which is enmity against God and involves in what is unclean at every turn, never seem to rise into the liberty of God's sons, especially in their public worship, but habitually drop into language more befitting the days when God was dealing with a nation and dwelt in the thick darkness, instead of being revealed as He now is in and by His Son, according to His true nature and that relationship which is so sweet to the believer as led by the Holy Ghost, the relationship proper to us now, though of course He be evermore Jehovah Shaddai?
Clearly too the possession of these promises is the great incentive to personal purification in practice. Nor is anything more hateful than the position of separateness from the world along with indifference to holiness. There are those who inculcate what is personal only and apologize for ecclesiastical evil as if it did not compromise them in the Lord's dishonor; there are others whose zeal is solely for ecclesiastical purity and whose personal ways are light and loose and far below those of many a saint in humanly formed and ordered societies. Both classes are condemned by the solemn words before us: the first by chapter 6: 14-18, the second by chapter vii. 1. May we, as having proved the truth and blessing of the former, have grace to find the constant value of the latter also, and to cultivate purity outward and inward, perfecting holiness in God's fear!

The Conflict in Ephesians 6

One great thing in Christianity is that it brings us back to God; not only that we have mercies from God, providential and the like, but we are brought to God. Towards the Jew God put a veil before His face, and He said, “I dwell in the thick darkness;” and once a year, on the day of atonement, the blood was sprinkled on the mercy-seat; but now, once and forever, sin is condemned in the sacrifice of Christ, and we are brought into the very presence of God. Good and evil being known, the question between good and evil had to be settled before God. The redemption of the cross brings us out of the evil-from all evil to Himself. God's Son suffered, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God. The consequence of this is that the whole life of the Christian is to go on with God, every day becoming better acquainted with God, everything going on in the presence of God. All our ways are elevated by this. If but a servant, he not only serves his master but Christ; and therefore, if he has a froward master, he can serve him just the same, because it is Christ he serves. All the life of the Christian is perfect liberty, because he is in the presence of God. It is liberty from sin, from fear, from wrath. Children are to obey their parents in the Lord. The commonest things in life are raised in their character through service to Christ. The parent must not allow evil in the children, but “train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;” and the master to the servant “must forbear threatening.” In virtue of our place before God, our liberty and happiness are as perfect and blessed now as they will be hereafter; only the body will be set right then.
Verse 10. After speaking of the common details of life, the apostle rises up to speak of the proper position of the Christian as such, free in all things, but also to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might;” and goes on to speak of the “whole armor of God.” We are supposed, though in conflict, to be in our, proper position of blessing with God, standing in the power of redemption, not having to get there. The warfare is to stand when there, and Satan's aim is to get us out of that place. There can be no conflict between us and God, but between us and the power of evil. There we are as being God's army. We are naturally under Satan's power, but redemption brings us into God's army. This was the position of Israel when warring with Amalek. They were on God's side, and He said He would have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
Christ's conflict in Gethsemane was quite another thing. He was enduring, but before accomplishing redemption. We have it through Christ, and now have to stand. God can never use our flesh, but Satan always can: there is the difference. The new nature Satan never can touch, but unjudged and undetected flesh he can, and cause one to fall. The first and last thing, that is, all through, as a question of power, is entire dependence. Satan will come in all manner of ways-worship, &c.-and if the flesh is not judged, he will deceive us by it. The thing is, we want the evil of the flesh detected by the word of God, and not by temptation. “The word of God is quick and powerful,” &c. There is no good in the flesh. This, when I see how bad my flesh is, casts me only on God, making me feel the need of dependence. With our Lord Jesus there was entire dependence, and this is the perfection of a man. With us how different it is! You know how many things you do of your own suggestion, not perhaps knowingly or willingly, but you are betrayed into it. “To stand against the wiles of the devil"-such is the use of the armor of God.
Christ has overcome, and therefore we have only to resist the devil, and he will flee. If we resist him, he knows he has met Christ, who has all strength against him, for he has vanquished him. The devil can never touch Christ in you, only the flesh; so, if there is a fall, it is a proof you were walking in the flesh. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood,” &c. The contrast here is between the conflict with men that Joshua led the children of Israel against: flesh and blood as man, not sinful flesh, is meant here. Now we are not fighting with men, but we are men, and fighting with all these mighty beings whose subtlety we are apt not to detect, because they are so elevated-against “principalities and powers, against the world-rulers” of this darkness; and Satan can easily overcome a man with his wiles if we are not found in the strength of Christ. I must have God's armor; man's armor, intellect, or power is nothing in conflict with Satan. Satan used his wiles to Christ, but He answered him with the word of God, and there was no power against that.
We must have the whole complete armor. If I have a breastplate but no helmet for my head, I am assailable at that point. If it is only a matter of theory with me, I shall forget my helmet; but if I am in the place of dependence, I shall feel my need of it, and take care to have it on. Independence makes us careless. If Satan can get a Christian to give an un-Christian testimony to the world, he is satisfied. If he can dim the heavenly testimony for Christ here, his object is gained. Christ was God's testimony here; we ought to be so now, and what Satan is striving at now is to dim it. “That ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,” &c. All this time is an evil day. Though there is darkness in the world, we ought to be light in it. There are peculiar days of evil heresy, infidelity, &c.; so to an individual there are peculiar season's of buffetings, tossings, exercises, evil days; but to stand is the great thing. We are sitting in unchangeable blessedness before God, but our position in this world is standing. So David sat before the Lord; yet he had to fight the battles of the Lord. Our salvation is complete and perfect, for we are set clown with Him who has by “one offering perfected for over them that are sanctified;” but we are standing in conflict, just as the poor man, out of whom Legion was cast, was sent back to his house to tell them how great things the Lord had done for him. His house (Gadarenes) would not have Him; and the world will not have us, but we are to be God's army in this world, and a witness to Him, though they will not have us.
It is a question of struggling against Satan, while having the flesh in us; therefore we need the “loins girt about with truth,” that is, the affections girt up by the power of truth, and not to have all hanging loosely about. It is not merely having and knowing truth that will do. If the loins are girt about with truth, if the heavenly calling has power over you, you cannot follow the world, your affections will be in heaven, and Satan can have no power with you. The “loins” are the reins, inward thoughts and feelings and affections of the man; all that is going on in the mind needs to be exercised in the truth, so as to be girt with it. I can never use truth but in the presence of God, because truth is light, and light makes manifest darkness. Man on a sick bed will show what is in his heart; there is reality, sincerity there, when brought into the presence of God, and abstracted from other things. There may have been much profession before, but nothing but what is real stands before God.
All the perfection of divine life in man we get in Christ, and He is our example. In having on the armor of God, we have on what Christ was and had: e.g., the “breastplate of righteousness.” All these things, which are ours in Christ, are to be applied to us. Take truth-Christ is the truth; righteousness-He is my righteousness; and it is here to be used for conflict against Satan, not for God but for practical power. I must have it before God first, or I shall not be able to contend with Satan. I am made righteous before God-that is a settled thing; and now I want all that Christ is and has been for my power against the enemy. If a man has a bad conscience, there can be no power against Satan; there must be “the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” The loins must be girt with truth first, and then a man will walk as in the presence of God. There will be a savor of Christ's ways in his character. What a difference there is between a man walking before God, and one walking before men! What a trouble there is for a man walking before men to keep things straight! While one who is walking before God, though in the presence of men, can leave things quietly to God. The real difference between a mere profession of Christ and a Christian is just this.
“Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” This is not only having peace with God, but walking in the spirit of peace. There is sure to be peace in the spirit of a man who is girt about with truth, and walking in the power of true righteous ness. A man who has been walking with God many years will be more gentle with others than one who has just begun to know Him. He will not be raving and irritated at evil in another, for his own soul has tasted what the peace of God is, in walking with God in the power of it. Then suppose a man has all this on, there is the need of dependence. Independence is sin, and there is need, therefore, of always being in conflict, and having the undeviating confidence that God is for me.
The thing wanted, then, is the “shield of faith.” Satan comes and tempts me. Is God for you? How do you know? There are, of course, different kinds of temptations (not lusts, but) questions whether God is for me, come what will. Then the shield of faith is needed. Christ was in an agony in the garden, but He could say, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee"-on the cross, when He said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” “But thou art holy.” God has this place, come what will: we are not to be afraid with any amazement. If Satan succeeds in terrifying a man, he flies, and there is no armor for the back. Of Saul David said, “the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away” (amongst the Philistines)-” the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” To Christ he threw a fiery dart when he said, “Cast thyself down;” are you quite sure God is for you? Cast yourself down, and try. No, Christ says, I know God is for me; I need not try. “It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” The dart is quenched by the word of God. If the dart of doubt or fear, &c., gets in, you have no power at all. The moment the heart gets troubled, remember, “if God be for us, who can be against us?” If thoughts arise about yourself, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” God is for us through all, even chastening. If there is an Achan in the camp, God says, I will not go out with you, and they are beaten by a very little city; but if God be for us, &c. The “shield of faith” is mentioned after the others, because there cannot be this lively faith (not the certainty of salvation here meant, but practical faith) if sin is allowed, and if the loins are not girt about with truth.
Recognize yourselves as a people connected with God in respect to this power that is in Him, that is faith. Moses might have reckoned on God through all the murmurings of the people, &c. All this is defensive armor, the “helmet of salvation” also. There is not a single blow aimed by the Christian warrior yet. What is the helmet? God has saved me, and will save me. “Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell,” &c. It is a general, broad, full apprehension that through all God will be with me and for me-not only faith in the particular thing, and at the particular time, but as expressed in Romans 8, “Nothing can separate me from the love of God,” &c. Therefore I may lift up my head with joy.
Now I can use the word of God as the “sword of the Spirit;” now I can fight. We ought to be able to confound every enemy, not with man's wisdom, intellect, or understanding, but in the power of the Spirit. If men do not believe in it, I am not going to give up the sword of the Spirit because you do not think it will cut. I know it will cut, and therefore use it. There is a power and authority felt by the person who uses it. There must be a sense of dependence for this; and therefore prayer, the sense of dependence expressed, is needed-praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Of one it was said that he “labored earnestly in prayer for the saints.” This was because of the sense of the conflict from Satan going on with the saints; therefore is labor needed, “watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” If other things come in, I have no power to turn everything into prayer; therefore watching is needed. “Give yourselves to prayer,” you are in God's interests, connected with all saints, therefore pray for all saints. There is nowhere that conflict is so much felt as in prayer; that is where Satan desires to come in.
Verse 19. We want to be bold for God in such a world as this.
How far are you identified with Christ in the world? And are you careful to avoid everything that dishonors Christ? Whatever destroys Christ's character before men is really a fall; it may not be positively gross sin.

Psalm 1-41: 1-15

The five Books of Psalms are divided thus:-First, from 1 to 41 inclusive;
Second, from 42 to 72;
Third, from 73 to 89;
Fourth, from 90 to 106; and
Fifth, from 107 to the end.
The subjects of each are different, and may be thus briefly distinguished.
In the first book the Jews are not driven out, but go up to the temple, and mix with those in the land. The name of Jehovah regularly occurs; he is in recognized relationship with them.
In the second book they are driven out, and only a small seed left. The Gentiles combine with the nations against the godly, who flee to the mountains. It is Judah driven out. “God” is characteristically used here, not Jehovah, except when hope is expressed.
In the third book it is not Jews in Jerusalem, or driven out, but all Israel are taken up. The ways of God with the people and the nations, as such, are found here.
The fourth book begins another range of subjects. While they own Jehovah the dwelling-place, the bringing of Christ into the world again is celebrated; the progress of His presence in glory; His sitting between the cherubim; and the nations coming to worship.
Then the concluding or fifth book is a review of all, winding up with a chorus, which consists of thanksgivings for the blessings brought in, of which Israel is the earthly center around and under the Messiah.
Book 1. (Psa. 1-41.)
Psa. 1-16
There are two great subjects laid hold of from one end of scripture to the other, founded on the relationships conferred: the government of God; and the church of God. When I speak of the church of God, I speak of His grace, that which stands only in grace; and when Christ reigns, the church reigns with Him, the weakest and feeblest saint is taken up, and put in the same place with Christ. Grace is conferred on those who least deserve it. There is also the government of the Father for those in the church, but this is quite different from the government of God in a general sense. It is true that gracious principles come in there; but the church is the body of Christ, members of His body, by the Spirit. To be His brethren is another relationship. God's government of this world is quite a different thing from that. It is interesting for us, because we have a personal association with the Lord Jesus in His humiliation and His glory, and there is nothing connected with Christ but should interest us.
The immediate government of God is brought out in connection with Israel, and the book of Psalms has a peculiar character in relation to this. The Psalms express the feelings and thoughts of those who find themselves in the circumstances that give rise to them. When under government, the power of evil must be set aside, in order for those who are separate from it to get free of their sufferings. With us it is quite different. We leave the evil, and rise into the glory. There is also the difference of reigning and being reigned over. The government of God for earth is entirely connected with Israel-our home is elsewhere. They are on earth, and government is connected with earth.
In Israel God gives certain laws. Now grace reigns through righteousness which another has accomplished. There will be righteousness on earth when He comes again. Now it is exactly the contrast. Righteousness is only in connection with heaven now. Christ is exalted in heaven, but rejected on earth. The principle on which all God's dealings with the Jews go is government, although you find mercy put first.
Two things are connected with them in Psa. 1; 2: God's law written on their hearts (Psa. 1); and their Messiah coming to them, God's king set up on God's throne. (Psa. 2) These are two fundamental principles connected with God's people on the earth.
In Psa. 1 we have the effect of godliness, present blessing; and in Psa. 2 the place Christ has as King.
In the first is the application of God's government on the earth, on the godly and the ungodly ones. There will be the cutting off of the ungodly ones like chaff, and those who remain are the godly. There is a godly remnant in the midst of the ungodly, and the ungodly are to be cut off. That is the basis of all we have in the Book of Psalms.
The first characteristic of the godly ones is in contrast with the ungodly. They delight in the law of Jehovah. They have tasted the sweetness of the principles in God's word, and know a Christ, not in heaven, but come down. The law characterizes all the moral condition of the godly man. (Psa. 119) The remnant in the latter day are associated in character and circumstances with the remnant who believed and followed Christ at His first coming.
The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, which is spoken of as a present thing. The godly are set in the midst of the ungodly in the presence of judgment, which brings in the day of the Lord.
Psa. 2 is the time when the judgment is ending, and government is made good by the power of the Son exercising His wrath. “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings,” for if the Son's wrath be kindled, all will be over with you. This has nothing to do with the gospel of God's grace. The kings of the earth are not in rebellion against the Father and the Son, but in rebellion against Jehovah and His Christ. It is a direct question of judgment-the closing scene-distinctly brought to the last day, the day of Jehovah. He is setting up the King of Israel, never mind what the kings of the earth do. God's King shall laugh at them. When Christ was born into this world, God had this purpose in view, and when the King is brought in, the eye will be turned to Him who was before born into the world. He is to be set up King in Zion, and He is to have the heathen for His possession. But what does He do? He breaks their bands in sunder. I can understand this if it is government, but not if it is gospel. Matt. 10 shows the gathering out of a remnant, and passing over this time to the end, when the Son of man will be there. All connected with the gospel is left out, and the kingdom is the subject-those worthy, not sinners. It is the witness of the kingdom that is carried on to the time when He comes.
In John 17 Christ says, “I pray not for the world;” I ask not for the heathen now, “but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world.” He is gathering these now, but He will have the heathen. He is asking for those who are to be with Him, the results of redemption-work; nothing about the world, not even breaking nations to pieces. Again, in John 20, He says to Mary Magdalene, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended,” &c. The time was not come for Him to be King, but He would make His brethren know the relationship into which He brought them. He was not coming to take the kingdom yet, but He would give them the same place that He had.
Rev. 2:26, 27 alludes to this psalm 51. Under the government of God there is law for rule. (Psa. 1) Psa. 2 declares that, in spite of all the world, He will bring His Son in again, and set Him King. In the one psalm we get the principles of His government, and in the other His counsels. The godly ones are exercised amongst these ungodly ones who are in power.
Then remark that Psa. 3; 4; 5; 6; 7 express the exercises of the godly. In these psalms we find the righteous remnant in the presence of the judgment, looking for the Lord's coming to sustain their faith, and make good His word; but they go through all sorts of trial:-Christ not yet reigning, evil not yet judged, yet the trials and exercises of the godly remnant before God's judgment on the ungodly helps their faith. God is standing back, as it were.
Psa. 8 is of another character. Jehovah is to be glorified in this. earth, and His glory above the heavens. He has never been so yet. The Father's name is glorified in the hearts of His children, but Jehovah is not glorified universally. 1 Cor. 15 shows Christ as the Head of the new creation: government in the kingdom is to come in, and, as in Col. 1, it is to be as Head of the church He will take the kingdom as Son of man. The psalm presents Him thus coming, and is not yet fulfilled. “We see not yet all things put under him, but we see Jesus,” &c. He is now gathering the church, who, when He comes, come with Him. The only thing in which I can separate myself from Christ is, where He became sin. Looking at His glory is looking at our own.
Psa. 9 looks at the wicked as not yet put out. The time is not come for righteousness to be made good. Divine righteousness is accomplished through His death, but government in righteousness is not yet established. Psa. 2 is not fulfilled, only the opposition of the kings, &c., as fully shown by Jew and Gentile in the cross of Christ.
In Psa. 10 there is distress for the remnant until the interposition of God comes. It is the inner enemy.
Psa. 11 to xv. disclose the feelings of the remnant; but there is confidence in God in time of trial. Christ puts into their hearts just what they want in the circumstances. Psa. 12 is the extremity of their distress—a godly man scarcely to be found. Psa. 13 is deeper distress of soul because of a sense of its being from God. The faith of God's people cannot go on forever; they cry, “How long?” “Art thou treating us as if given up? If it goes on thus, I shall faint under it!” Psa. 14 is the character of the wicked to be cut off. Psa. 15 is the character of the remnant who stand. The practically godly remnant will have the blessing when Christ comes.
Thus in Psa. 9; 10 is the history of the tribulation-the fact of judgment; and then, in Psa. 11; 12; 13 their condition, thoughts, and feelings; and in xv. the character of those on the holy hill contrasted with the wicked set forth in Psa. 14
In Luke 9:21, 22, being morally rejected as the Christ, He therefore would not set Himself up as the King. Then He takes another name-” Son of man,” and as such He must suffer. He drops for the time the title of Christ, and Psa. 2, which sets Him forth as the anointed King, and takes the title of Psa. 8” Son of man.” But He must suffer. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die,” &c. As the Christ they may say nothing about Him then. As Son of man He is to have all under Him, not only is He to be King in Zion. This will be accomplished too; but, according to Isa. 49:6, He is to have the Gentiles also. He is to be over everything; and as a man He is to take all things. He will gather together in one all things in Christ, we being in the heavenly part, and Satan under our feet. In the Psalms we get the Christ we are associated with, but not our association with Him. The scheme of the government of God has never yet begun. It has not yet been the new covenant, but the old. Christ is to be King, and this is prophetically, not historically, given in Psa. 2; He is also Son of man in Psa. 8, which is prophetic.
“In thee do I put my trust.” This is quoted in Heb. 2 to prove Christ's humanity. There are two things make perfection in a man-dependence and obedience. They were in Christ, the contrast of what was in Adam when he sinned. His heart could be moved with compassion, and not only could He show His power to work miracles, but He would take this place of the dependent and obedient One, where the heart gets food.
God has His food in the offering, but there was the meat-offering, and part of the peace-offering, which the priests ate. He says, “therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” Then we feed. The Father has given us the very object He delights in for the object of our affection.
In Psalm 16 then He first definitely takes His place with the excellent of the earth. He is thus the comfort of His people in sorrow; and when we have peace, He is the food of our souls-the heart has the perfect good to feed on. He is the object before the soul; He is properly the food of our souls, not in glory, but in humiliation, as here. “I am the true bread that came down from heaven.” It does not say, the bread that went up to heaven. Then His flesh is needed for life: we must know Him as dead. We cannot feed on Him as the living and glorified Christ, but as the dead Christ. What draws out our affections to Christ is what He was down here, going through all the difficulties, making His passage through everything about which He has to intercede for us now.
In Psa. 16 Christ, before taking His place on high, has experimentally “the tongue of the learned.” “Thou hast said to Jehovah, Thou art my master.” Now I take the place of a servant; I am my Master's-I am taking the place of dependence, leaning on Thee, looking to Thee. Christ is the Jehovah of the Old Testament, not excluding the Father and the Spirit. (John 12; Isa. 6) “My goodness extendeth not to thee;” I am not taking a divine place now. That is, “To the saints, and the excellent, in them is all my delight.” If His soul disclaimed the one, He had joy in the other. He became a babe-was growing in wisdom and favor-anointed to service-has the tongue of the learned; then comes fellowship with the excellent-He takes His place as identifying Himself with them. (Phil. 2)
The saints cannot have a sorrow, or a difficulty, that is not Mine. See Prov. 8: “My delights were with the sons of men.” In the first movement of spiritual life in them, however poor and feeble they are, He goes with them; they are the excellent: it is not what they had, but what they were. During His life He was going with them-at the cross He went for them, they could not go there. If they begin to live for Him, He lives with them; not one difficulty on the road, but Christ has gone before in it; and as to sin, that He has borne. “When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them.” He met the lion on the way, and destroyed him that had the power of death. Every step that the Spirit of God in a man treads through this world, Christ has gone. I cannot get into a trouble that Christ has not been in before.
“Thou maintainest my lot.” This is just what the poor saints will want in the future day. Could the Man of sorrows say that? “Thou maintainest my lot; the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.” Yes, He knew who had given Him all. “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup.” Jehovah was His portion, and always He could say it. This truth of Christ's entering into all our sorrow, when the Spirit of God works, He going into it, and as to our sins, helping against them, is immense comfort. I get all the sympathies of Christ in this way.
In Psa. 16 Christ is the link between Jehovah and the remnant. He is passing through this world so as to be able to speak a word in season to the remnant in the last day. He could not go and associate Himself with them in that way without the atonement being made. We have the figure in Aaron going into the holy place on the day of atonement. We are associated with Him within. In Isa. 53 “We hid as it were our faces from him” is the expression of the Jews in the latter day, linking themselves with those who rejected Christ when He was here the first time.
In this first book of the Psalms the godly remnant are not driven out of Jerusalem. It applies to Christ personally. He was on this side Jordan, with the poor of the flock, He was walking with them-His path in life. There is more personal association of Christ with the remnant in the latter day. There is more appeal to Jehovah in this book than to God, which characterizes the second book. Jehovah is the title God has especially connected with the people of Israel, the seed of Abraham; and their relationship with Him in the land is thus acknowledged. It is better to read Jehovah instead of Lord, which we have very vague and undefined in our minds generally, though it is a most blessed title.
There is not a step of the path of life that Christ has not trod, Jehovah showing Him the path of life up to blessing. “Thou wilt show me the path of life.” There was enough in Christ, and He did draw out the affections of the Father as a Man down here (of course as the Eternal Son also) in this path of life. How dependent for everything! He does not say, “I will rise up,” but “Thou wilt show me.” He passes through death in dependence on His Father: there was the blessed perfectness of a Man with God; and at the close of His career, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came from God and went to God, &c. He could go back unsullied to the throne of God, and take man back with Him into the glory out of which He came: there is manhood now in the presence of God.
Matt. 3 gives John's baptism. They came to Him confessing their sins-” fruits meet for repentance.” The beginning of all excellence is to confess we have none; “fruit” was confessing they brought forth none. The instant the Spirit of God is working, Jesus goes to be baptized with them (not having any sin to confess, of course, but) doing His Father's will. He takes His place with them. He had come for that, and the consequence is that after death and resurrection He takes His place to praise in the midst of the congregation.
“Thou wilt show me the path of life.” It is most blessed to hear Christ saying this. It is the path of holy death in verse 10: how did he find that of life? Adam found the path of death in his folly and his self-will, but back from it never! The tree of life was never to be touched in the garden of Eden; he had taken the other path. These two trees set forth that which men are always puzzling themselves about-responsibility, and the gift of God which is life. All that man does ends in death, but it is too late to warn of this now, for he is “dead in trespasses and sins.” But Christ came, bringing life into a world that drove Him away, where Satan, the prince of it, reigned, and everything was bearing the stamp of his guilty dominion. In this place of death Christ makes out a path for us. He is shown by His Father “the path of life.” He was “the Life;” but then the path of life had to be tracked through the place of death, where no one thing testifies of God-one wide waste, where there is no way. Christ has gone there before us Himself. It is for the Christian I am speaking now; the gospel shows He gives it to those who believe. He had to make out the path of life, through a world of sin and wretchedness, in obedience, up to God. It must be through death, if for us, because we are sinners. Now He says, “If any man serve me, let him follow me.” We must take up the cross. The cross to Him was atonement; this was the path. As He came for us, it must be by the cross. He has gone through it perfectly and absolutely.
What is the consequence? The blessed end is, “in thy presence is fullness of joy.” He would rather die than disobey. Notice, death is gone to us, the end is gained: we have to tread this very same path that He trod, up to God's presence, where there is “fullness of joy.” Why all this? It was for His Father's glory, doubtless, but it was for these “excellent of the earth.” His identifying Himself with them involved this. Jehovah was His portion, but His delight was in them.
Psa. 17 next shows the results of-His thus taking His place with them. It brings out the controversy with man in the path; “Let my sentence come forth from thy presence;” and the end is, “I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.”
Psalms 16, 17 give us two great principles of divine life-trust and righteousness, or integrity; and we find them running all through the Psalms, and any godly person's life, as well as that of the Jew: but this does not give the foundation fully on which we stand according to the New Testament. You do not find in Psa. 17 the foundation of God's righteousness at this time. Souls in the condition of having divine life, but not knowing their standing in divine righteousness, find the suitability of the Psalms to express their experience. It applies to Christ, but not exclusively like Psa. 16.

Thoughts on Isaiah 7-12

We find here not only the great principles of the government of God, but moreover the introduction of a personage (Immanuel, the Lord Jesus) on the scene of prophecy and the consequences of this introduction. God had raised up to Israel a stay in David. It was the last support of God's people on the earth. Before raising up the house of David, God had tried all means possible to maintain relations with His people. The priesthood had failed in Eli, the ark was taken, and God had pronounced Ichabod, The glory is departed. Samuel is brought in, and God abides by His channel in sovereign grace toward His people. Saul (“asked for") is unfaithful. Under priesthood, under royalty, under prophecy, in a word under all forms and all means that God had prepared, Israel always failed. Yet God raised up the house of David. Solomon fails. Though more faithful than others, his family also fails. God had promised to chastise it, but that He would never entirely withdraw His favor. Christ Himself has been the accomplishment of this promise as of all others. Man always fails to keep his relationship with God, but all is accomplished in Jesus. The family of David failed, and it is in Christ alone that the Jews find the blessing that is attached to it.
In the person of Ahaz the family of David abandons completely its fidelity. Ahaz associates himself with the king of Assyria, imitates the altar seen at Damascus, and places it in the very temple of God. When the family of David itself thus fails, and every hope is ruined, prophecy introduces the promise of Christ to be the support of the faithful. This sign was to be in the family of David itself. It is a fact of all importance. The Messiah, the Son of God, was to show Himself in Israel, and Israel to show itself unfaithful spite of the presence of Messiah. What is before us here is the house of David, not Israel alone. By iniquity the conscience is bad and faith is feeble. Ahaz does not ask for a sign. He makes a show of not wishing it by reason of piety.
Though the house of David failed, God does not at all fail; and He says to Isaiah, “Go forth now to meet Ahaz,” He intervenes at the moment the thing is necessary. Shear-jashub signifies the remnant will return. The people being unfaithful have no force against their enemies. But there, in the circumstances where all hope is taken away, God presents the promise that the remnant should be sustained by the testimony of God Himself. He comes in between the sorrowful circumstances and the faithful that his faith should not fail. At the extreme point of the misery God manifests Himself, and all is light. God would have it so; otherwise the heart rests on the flesh and forgets God. If the heart loved. God naturally, this would not be necessary; that is to say, it would not be necessary for every outward prop to fail His children, if their heart were only occupied with counting on Him; but the bent of the heart estranges from God. He had not yet delivered His people from the Assyrian; but where there is a lack of faith, the heart is fearful before the enemy, even before a powerless enemy. God shows comfort to His people. He has a perfect knowledge of all that is done and despises the strength of the enemy. He knows who Pekah and Rezin are, and that Damascus is head of Syria. When it is God who sends our enemies as a chastening against us, we have no strength against them. God knows all the difficulties. What is wanting is the faith which gives a perfect security against all the circumstances possible.
God points out the intentions of the two kings (vers. 4-6), intentions which perhaps Ahaz did not know. But God has, besides, His king at Jerusalem, and they will not succeed in setting up another. “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within three-score and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” (Vers. 7-9.) God knew all the details, as He gives Ahaz to see. Whatever Syria, Damascus, or Rezin might plan, it was not what God willed. On this all turns. What the Christian wants is consciousness of his relationship with God: then there is nothing to fear. It is not the strength of the enemy which the people have to dread, but their own iniquity which enfeebles them. The danger presented ends in nothing; but if we seek any support whatever in something of this world, God abandons us, leaving us to the consequences of our relation with the support we have chosen. Thus Pekah and Rezin had no strength against Judah, for God would not deliver Jerusalem to these confederate kings; but Ahaz fearful and unbelieving rests on Assyria, and it is from the Assyrian that Judah must be delivered. Meanwhile the true Deliverer, the real support, namely Immanuel, is revealed, when he failed who should have reigned according to God. Therein is a most important lesson.
God offers a sign to the feeble-hearted Ahaz and to the people seeking a prop apart from God. He would show to the worldling all that is possible for Him to show of grace and power; and He would make His children feel that their incredulity and unfaithfulness are without excuse. God bids the king ask a sign below or above (vers. 10, 11); but Ahaz (ver. 12) shrinks from being too near God and having a real proof that God was there, for fear of being obliged to follow Him, to abandon the outward supports of his infidelity, and to renounce everything but God. There is nothing that the outward people of God dread so much as nearness to God; though His nearness is a blessing without limit, the heart dreads it, because it will not quit what God condemns.
Nevertheless God will not abandon the house of David. He promises Immanuel. (Vers. 13-15.) The application of this promise concerns the house of David and the people of Israel, not here the salvation of the church. God gives the sign in spite of them. It is the birth of the Messiah. Ahaz did not wish God to be near him; but God would be with them, and Immanuel is the sign.
The two kings occasioned fear to Ahaz; but he on whom he sought to rest is sent as a chastening on him. (See 2 Kings 16) There is what one should fear-that God should take the rod. He will hiss for the enemy, for the fly far off in Egypt, for the bee in Assyria; He will shave as with a hired razor, “so as to sweep all clean. (Vers. 17-20.) God would be our strength: the heart of man never wishes it. The fear we have of evil befalling us makes us seek support in that which appears to us a way without danger; and these are the very things God employs to chastise us. The kings of Israel and of Syria came against Judah of their own will. God stops them. Ahaz and his people would lean on the king of Assyria; and God makes the Assyrian come against them in the end.
It is always what the will of man seeks that becomes the instrument of chastening. When the assaults against the people of God flow only from the will of man, there is nothing to fear. Beware of dreading the nearness of God: it is to be far from the source of all blessings.
Chapter 8.
Notwithstanding the grace of God abides toward His people. The scourge of God comes; but if He brings the Assyrian, He promises at the same time Immanuel. If Maher-shalal-hash-baz testifies to the Assyrian in making speed to the spoil and hastening the prey, God cannot abandon the house of David and Immanuel's land. (Vers-1-10.) The Assyrian shall go over and reach even to the neck; but no farther. God thereon vindicates against him the rights of Messiah, even as it is ever our resource that we are Christ's. This people had refused the softly flowing waters of Shiloah, they had despised the house of David, rejoicing in Rezin and Pekah, not in God's gentle way which keeps the heart ever dependent. If the flesh can have a support, it is in man, in what looks strong; it has no confidence if there be only God for the morrow. From the moment we would for tomorrow rest on a good thought of to-day, it is our own righteousness. God would have us be in appearance the most feeble, that He should be our only strength.
As they despised the waters of Shiloah, the Lord brings on them the waters of the river strong and many; He sends against them as their muter him on whom they leaned. Such is the end of man's wisdom. “Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. For Jehovah spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.” (Vers. 9-12.) How busy is human prudence, and how vain! We are taught of God not to imitate this. The nations shall do all this, but their counsels come to naught, “for God is with us.” The one counsel for the faithful is Immanuel. “Neither fear ye their fear nor be afraid.” Their word shall not stand. The thought of the Assyrian is to do his own will, not that of God. All depends on this only word, Immanuel. What avails confederacy against Him? The Lord spoke in strength of hand. Therefore His word is, “Sanctify Jehovah of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And be shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” (Vers. 13-15.) Give to God all the holy heed that is due to Him. Nothing then can shake us, because nothing can shake God. Yet is He in Jesus for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both houses of Israel; for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem—this because of their infidelity. They too did not like to have the Eternal near them. The introduction of the Messiah is in view of the power and the invasion of the Assyrian. (Compare Mic. 5) But the result for the mass of the people is that they reject Immanuel, and stumble on Him to their own utter ruin.
The remnant is separated, the testimony bound up and sealed. (Ver. 16.) The Eternal came Himself in the person of Jesus. He is the confidence, the sanctuary, of those that believe; He is a rock of offense to the unbelieving. Hence results a relation more intimate: “Seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” (Vers. 17, 18.) The testimony is sealed there, while God turns away His face from the house of Jacob: nay more, “Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me.” They are for signs and for wonders in Israel.
The people have lost God who disowns them meanwhile, and, seeking light but finding none, they turn to familiar spirits and wizards. But the true heart, having Christ before it, cleaves to God and his word” To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Vers. 19, 20.) And then we pass from the anguish and darkness of despair for the Jew when he refused the Messiah to the last days when light begins to dawn once more. ( Vers. 21, 22; chap. 9: 1, 2.)
Thus chapter 7 presents to us Immanuel heir of David's house and hope of the remnant which shall return (Shear-jashub); chapter 8, the land of Canaan in relation to Him. It is Immanuel's land. There the remnant separated; and the nations in misery and darkness, till the despised light re-appears in glory (chap. 9: 1-7), overleaping the mystery of Christ and the church of the heavenly places, after which the general history of Israel is resumed in continuation of the judgments of chapter v. Chapters 6-9:7 are a parenthesis to introduce Messiah.
We have seen in chapters 7, 8 Messiah born to reign. It is no longer only principles, or reasonings of God with His vineyard. There abides the absolute promise of God, though the son of the virgin, Immanuel, be rejected. Christ and His disciples, instead of being received, become a sign in Israel. Incredulity seeks a support, and this support becomes a difficulty and scourge, but there remains for faith the accomplishment of God's mind in Christ.
The waters of Shiloah being despised, the Assyrian comes into the country. The prophet with the two children is for a sign to the two houses of Israel. The Jews have in unbelief rejected Jesus, who is become a stumbling-stone to them, and their chastisement is in anguish and darkness. Two consequences result from this. The remnant could not enjoy the earthly promises made to the Messiah, but they have the testimony sealed up. Those who have rejected the testimony wander without light from God in the land which is trodden under the feet of the Gentiles. The Jews abide in bondage. Syria attacks Zebulun and Naphtali; it is the first invasion. Tiglath Pileser comes into Galilee; it is the second. But what follows is worse. Nevertheless the light shines in this land of the shadow of death; but all becomes graver still by the rejection of this light.
There is then a new element on which depends the lot of Israel. Christ has been there (Matt. 4:15), and He has been rejected. The election from among the Jews is based on this foundation. All the Jewish election is added to the church (Acts 2:47), in place of being saved for another end as in Mic. 5:3.
Christ having been manifested to but rejected by the nation, they are blinded. A judicial darkness is fallen on the Jews. His rejection by them opens the way for the election from among the Gentiles, whilst the elect from Israel are added to the church. Jehovah hides His face from the house of Jacob (chap. viii. 17); but the prophetic Spirit waits for Him to act in favor of Israel. The church anticipates the faith of Israel when the Messiah is rejected, believing in Him; and this even becomes the occasion of provoking Israel to jealousy.
If Israel had received Jesus, Israel would have been blessed; the wickedness of man would not have been proved, and Israel would not have lost their right to the promises. The wisdom of God places Israel under mercy like the Gentiles (Rom. 11), and opens thus the door to the Gentiles in accomplishing the promises. Jesus is minister of the truth of God for the Jews and of mercy for the Gentiles. (Rom. 15) We have pre-trusted in Christ (Eph. 1:12); that is, those of the Jews whose hope was in Christ before the nation bows at the end when He is seen in glory. We have believed without seeing, in contrast with Thomas and Israel. Those who shall believe when they see Him are to be blessed, but are not to be in His glory. This changes nothing as to the promises on God's part. Israel had lost all right to the promises; but these abide, because God had sworn to Abraham, and He is faithful. He judges Israel, hides His face from Jacob; nevertheless He keeps all His promises, and Israel waits till judgment falls on faithless Christendom, as it fell on the Jews. God can resume His ways with His people, and Israel shall be blessed.
From the first to the second verse of chapter 9 the present economy is quite passed over, and we light on the accomplishment of the promises for Israel. It is a question of Israel and the world, not of the church. The prophetic Spirit waits for what God will do, and beholds across the ages the glory of Jehovah in the Messiah shedding His blessing on His people Israel. The first coming of Jesus has not accomplished verses 2-7. He has not delivered His people from the yoke of the Gentiles, the reign of the false king, or the efficacious lie of Satan. One often sees half a passage of the Old Testament cited in the New Testament, because the accomplishment of the other half is not arrived. Thus Christ is gone on high and has received gifts for men, but not yet'“ for the rebellious,” that is, the Jews who will receive the rain of the latter season. All the present economy lies in the interval. It is no question at present either of Jews or Greeks, but of man, a new creation in Christ and called out of the world for heaven.
The Child was already born, the Son given; but Israel have not owned Him. When they are renewed, Christ will be owned, as born “unto us” and given “unto us.” The church anticipates the people in all this; but for heaven.
There is here a principle of intelligence for prophecy to see how we can employ the passages put in the mouth of the Jews. In chapter 53:1-4 it is the Jews who esteemed Christ “smitten of God and afflicted.” They said if He were the Son of God, let Him come down from the cross. Not so the believer, who enters into the enjoyment of the fruits of His suffering. “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” It remains true that He died for the Jews as an elect nation, but also to gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. These in the name of Jesus can say, that God caused the iniquities of us all to meet on Him. But Gentiles as such cannot say “we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted;” as grafted on the olive, they can now say what Israel will say by-and-by. The church can say more, for on our behalf Jesus sits on the throne not of David, but of His Father. We shall sit on Christ's throne, but not on the throne of David; to it we have no right whatever, not being of David's lineage. But we shall be seated on the more elevated throne of our Lord as the glorified Son of man. We are one with Christ the coming King and shall reign with Him, kings and priests to God, even His Father. In this sense it is not for us to say like Israel, “Unto us a child is, born,” because we shall not be subjects of the kingdom but co-heirs with Christ the King, not the people reigned over but kings reigning with Him.
Christ has not yet the government here spoken of upon His shoulders, nor is there the increase of government and peace without end, nor is His name yet called Prince of Peace as here in the exercise of His functions. He is prince or originator of life whom God raised up from among the dead. He has not come yet to give peace in the earth, but a sword and division. He would have us fight, clothed with all spiritual armor. When Christ shall reign, He will be Prince of Peace as Son of David, and peace shall be on the earth. Christ must have the pre-eminence in all things, and have every sort of glory, as Son of God, Son of man, Son of David, &c., all things put under Him, and not merely Israel or the Gentiles. We shall sit with Him on His throne, as now He sits on the Father's. Up to the present we are seated in heavenly places in Him, not with Him as yet, on high.
But He will also have the throne of David. God loves the people, and Jerusalem is the city of the great King: Jesus will have this glory, the church has it not. The Jews will enjoy it under His reign. It is an earthly state, and more limited. Jesus is also head of angels, and will have that glory too. He is personally the image of the invisible God, and Son of man, head over all things, as all the ends of the earth shall call Him blessed. (Psa. 72)
Jesus only took up the promises when risen, in a life to make all sure on the other side of the grave: a mere man could not do this. (2 Sam. 23:5; Isa. 55:3; Acts 13:34.) Jesus must introduce the blessing of God among creation. It is not here the Father and the Son, but Jehovah and the Son of David; and there is a counsel of peace between them both, to the end that creation should be blessed (Zech. 6:12, 13), Israel being restored to their own land.
We have been instruments of mischief to all creation, which now waits for the manifestation of the children of God for its, blessing and happiness too. We are gathered a kind of first-fruits of the new creation, while God hides His face from the house of Jacob. What gracious consideration in God towards us, for whom, having been in Adam the instruments of the ruin of creation, the creation waits, that we should be manifested with the Second man for the blessing! When Christ shall be Priest on His throne, the counsel of peace shall proceed for the blessing of the earth. As to us identified now with His humiliation, we shall be identified with His glory; alone, we shall see Him as He is in the intimacy of His love. The Jews will Lee Him as He shall be manifested in earthly glory.
In the expression of faith, as in the Psalms, mercy is always before righteousness, because Israel had failed completely in righteousness, and there must be recourse to mercy and grace.
We find in prophecy great principles of truth which can guide us, Christians, but also circumstances which do not concern us. Spiritual intelligence seizes the place of the church and the exaltation that God reserves for His Son Jesus, that all glory may center in Him. The Christian's heart is happy in seeing Jesus exalted everywhere and with all glory. The scriptures bear testimony to Him, and, in proportion as we apprehend better the glory of Jesus, the scriptures become more easy for us to understand.
Chapters 9: 8-12.
The Spirit of God has given in the preceding chapters the Messiah (hope of the remnant and deliverer from the Assyrian), whose presentation to the Jews changes all the conditions of the nation. He resumes now the prophetic history of the people of Israel. God has chastised His people, but this has not yet dealt with their pride: they confide yet in themselves. (Vers. 8-12.) The anger of Jehovah is not yet turned away, but His hand is stretched out still, for the people do not turn to Him that smites them, and has not discerned His hand. And till this is seen, there is resistance and a strengthening of self in one's own power.
There are three things in the chastenings of God's people: 1st, the instrument; 2nd, the enemy's malice; 3rd, the hidden intention of God. If one looks at the instrument, it is only to accuse, or to be discontented. But even behind the malice of Satan there is the goodness of God. Sometimes the heart avows that the chastening is come in consequence of known evil, and then would just reform itself a little. But the hand of God abides stretched out still because there is no return to Him that smites, but the effort by a certain quantity of hypocrisy to appease God. The conscience has not been put in direct relation with God.
The consequence is (ver. 14) His cutting from Israel Lead and tail, branch and root, leaders and led. So God takes away even a Christian from this world as a chastisement. (1 Cor. 11)
When the people of God go wrong, there is always the spirit of false prophecy which would make them believe that all goes well. Men in authority love that they should not be discouraged: see the opposition to Jeremiah in Jerusalem. To this the false prophet lends help, to hinder the conscience from turning back to God, who would by chastening bring the conscience into direct, contact with Him. The spirit of falsehood would persuade that they are very happy. They that call them blessed are the misleaders. Those that are so called and believe them are swallowed up. (Ver. 15.)
When the people of God are in a good state, they have at heart the glory of God, without which they cannot be satisfied. It is not enough for them that there is no evil going on-this suffices man, but not the glory of God. There are still divisions and miseries because of their iniquities. (Vers. 18-20.) But the people is not yet turned to God, and His hand is stretched out still. (Ver. 21.) God does not crush His people even when He mites. He leaves some consolation. Nevertheless His people take up their pride again. (Chap. 10: 1-4.)
At last God calls the great instrument of His anger. (Chap. 10:5, &c.) The Assyrian is the rod of His wrath.
There are two phases in the history of the Jewish people. There is first the time when they are owned as the people of God, who chastens them by Egypt and Assyria, yet owns them. Later on He rejects them, and the people become Lo-ammi, Not-His-people. When Israel was carried away captive, it was Lo-ruhamah, but there was not yet an absolute cutting off as a people. When Nebuchadnezzar takes Jerusalem, the people became Lo-ammi. Israel is rejected. God no more owns His people. He watches over them still for final restoration to their land, but the times of the Gentiles begin.
Messiah has been presented to the Jews, but not to the ten tribes which had been carried away by the Assyrian. All the history whilst Israel is not owned belongs to the times of the Gentiles. Now in this part of Isaiah we leave aside the times of the Gentiles to follow Israel. God owns His people even in chastising them. The Assyrian is the instrument of the chastisement.
We see in Mic. 5:1-7 that, when the Assyrian shall come into the land, Christ the ruler in Israel will be found there, “the peace.” This is not yet arrived. He shall be the peace then when the Assyrian enters. There is a remarkable type of this final attack of the Assyrian in the history of Sennacherib against Hezekiah. Therefore it is that chapters 36-39 are given. The Holy Spirit takes the actual and real circumstances of the Jews to bind up with them the prophecy of the last days. When Sennacherib came, it was Hezekiah who was in Jerusalem. He is a type of the time when Christ is to be there.
God employs the pride and iniquity of the wicked for the chastisement of His people; and after wars He destroys the instrument. The Assyrian, God's rod to strike Israel, glorifies himself against God, who breaks the rod. So in the early part of this century Napoleon Bonaparte smote all the people of the Roman empire, but, being wrong, was after that smitten.
When the Assyrian shall have done his work, it is the ceasing of the indignation against Israel: an important point in Israel's history. The destruction of the Assyrian (not of Antichrist) is the end of Jehovah's anger. The Antichrist will have appeared and been judged before. The remnant shall return, the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God, who will search out and punish the glory of man's high looks on all sides, and shall make a consumption even determined in all the land. Christ will maintain Israel,
Chapter 11.
It is no question here either of Christ as head of the church or of the church's glory. He is presented as Messiah for the earth ruling, the judgment on the enemy being executed. He is not here called the Root of David, the source of blessing, but a Branch. In Rev. 5 He is the Root of David, in chapter 12. He is Offspring as well as Root. For the church He has a suited relation. He is not judging the earth yet. When He comes again, He will judge, and slay the wicked (Compare ver. 4 and 2 Thess. 2) Consequently Christ must be looked for to reign over the earth, ruling in righteousness and deciding with equity for the meek of the earth. Actually it is the haughty and unjust who possess the earth. Christ and His own have not yet His rights here below.
In verses 5-9 we see the fruit of the curse gone from the earth, which, by the presence of Christ and the Spirit poured from on high, shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea. Christ is not here glorified above, nor is it the gospel here below.
Verse 10 is not at all realized yet. Christ is an object of reproach, not of glory. But “in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” He will be the center and the Gentiles will seek Him then: now it is the hour when God the Father seeks true worshippers, a people from among the Gentiles for His name.
In that day not only will the curse of the earth be taken away, and the nations flock to Christ the exalted King; but “the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, froth Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Vers. 11, 12.) As He of old brought His people out of Egypt He will recover the remnant of them from the north and south, east and west. Ephraim and Judah will not only be re-united as a people, but in heart also (ver. 13), as they never have been.
From verse 14 we learn that the neighboring nations, which escape the last great Assyrian, or king of the north (Dan. 11:41), shall become objects of judgment to returned Israel, when they spoil their more distant enemies. The comparison of the two prophets shows exactness in detail, where unbelief sees only extinct races and thinks accomplishment impossible.
It is plain that verses 15, 16 can only apply to an earthly deliverance of Israel like that out of Egypt.
Chapter 12.
Here we have a song of praise and thanksgiving for their deliverance. “Thou shalt say,” &c. (ver. 1) means unequivocally Israel. God's anger has not only turned away and ceased, but He is their salvation. (Ver. 2.) For all Israel in that day shall be saved. Therefore with joy they draw water out of those exhaustless wells and say Hallelujah. (Vers. 3, 4.) But it is Jah Jehovah, not the Father as we know Him now through the Lord Jesus. The effect of their deliverance is that His glory as the Eternal is known in all the earth. (Ver. 5.) The Father is known in His family, not in all the earth as such, though by His children everywhere. But here it is the kingdom, and He is known as the Holy One of Israel in Zion. Jehovah reigns, and by Israel He makes Himself known in all the earth.
If one have well seized these two chapters, we cannot confound what is said of Israel and of the church. Christ as the Judge of all must have slain the wicked with the breath of His lips (see chap. 30: 33) in order that the blessing should come to pass. Otherwise we confound the kingdom of Christ's patience with the kingdom of righteous government. If one makes the church believe that this happy time is come, and that she is to make good all these things, it is to mislead the faithful and to encourage unbelievers. For natural pride is increased by these misapplications of what can only be realized by Christ's coming to reign. Our place meanwhile is to suffer with Christ.
Here we can remark the force of 2 Peter 1:20: no prophecy of scripture is of its own [particular] interpretation. It is not a question of Nineveh, &c., nor of any other thing in or by itself, but finally of the glory of Jesus, where all meets and all ends. It speaks of a vast and connected system of glory which must be taken as a whole, even as the Spirit wrote it.

Notes on John 18:1-11

The Lord had concluded His words to the disciples and to His Father. His work on earth now about to close had been before Him, as well as His departure on high, and contingent on both the approaching mission of the Holy Spirit to abide with His own apart from the world. That rejection of the Savior which has been in view throughout our Gospel was now to reach its extreme in the cross; but its dark shadow, far from obscuring, only serves to bring out the True Light more distinctly. He is man, but a divine person, the Son throughout wherever He moves.
“Having said these things Jesus went out with His disciples beyond the torrent-bed of Kedron, where was a garden, into which he entered himself and his disciples. And Judas also that was betraying him knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. Judas then, having received the guard and officers from the high priests and from [the] Pharisees, cometh there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus then, knowing all things that were coming on him, went out and saith to them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus the Nazarean. He saith to them, I am [he]. And Judas that was betraying him was standing with them. When then he said to them, I am [he], they went backward and fell to the ground. Again then he asked them, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus the Nazarean. Jesus answered, I told you that I am [he]: if then ye seek me, leave these to go away; that the word might be fulfilled which he said, Of those whom thou hast given me, I have lost not one of them. Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it, and smote the bondman of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. Now the bondsman's name was Malchus. Jesus said then to Peter, Put the sword into the scabbard: the cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (Vers. 1-11.)
It was the same orchard or garden which in the other Gospels is called Gethsemane (a word formed from the Hebrew words meaning a winepress and oil), but giving no real ground to say, as some after the patristic and medieval style, that here emphatically were fulfilled those dark words, “I have trodden the winepress alone,” as Isaiah has foretold, and as the name imports. For the treading of the winefat is when the Lord comes to judge, not to suffer, as the connected text, Rev. 14:20, ought to have been plain. Indeed no reader save one perverted by theological tradition could mistake the earlier prophet any more than the latest. For what is described in these prophecies is not agony but vengeance, not His bloody sweat with strong crying and tears, but His treading the peoples in His anger and their blood sprinkled on His garments.
But an intelligent and thoughtful reader would remark the striking absence of that wondrous scene where even those who loved the Lord, yea Peter, James, and John, could not watch with Him one hour. For His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, and though He asked them to tarry and watch, whilst He went a little farther to pray, He found them sleeping for sorrow, and this repeatedly. I am aware that some left out of their copies of Luke the verses which record the angel which appeared from heaven strengthening Him, and the conflict such that His sweat became as great drops of blood falling down on the earth; as if the Lord were lowered by such an expression of real humanity and unspeakable grief, instead of seeing how characteristic the facts are of that Evangelist and adoring Himself who could so love and suffer as there portrayed. Yet John, who alone of all four writers of the Gospels was near the Lord, nearer than Matthew-John is the only one who does not describe that conflict at all: and this, not because it was not infinitely precious to his spirit, nor because the others had given it to us, but because what he gave, as they also, was by inspiration and in no way a question of human judgment or feeling. John records, no less than Matthew and Mark and Luke, the miracle of the five barley loaves; and this because it was as essential to the work given him to do as for the others in theirs. For the same reason he, led by the Holy Spirit, does not give the agony in the garden, as not falling within his assigned province. He knew it of course, and must have often dwelt on it in his spirit deeply meditative beyond all the others, yet is silent.
Can anything more attest the overruling wisdom and power of the inspiring Spirit? Yes, in every part and every detail, one almost as much as another, were we not so dull of hearing; not only in what is omitted, but in what is inserted by infinite grace. Witness what our evangelist tells us next. He brings before us, no doubt, the appalling spectacle of Judas availing himself of his intimate knowledge of the Savior's habit and haunt to guide those who wished to take and slay Him. With the guard and officers from His enemies, Judas guides them to the spot of nightly prayer, with lanterns and torches and weapons to make sure of their prey, though full moon shone and He had never struck a blow in self-defense. But Judas really knew not Him any more than his companions did. How terrible the sight of a soul blinded to the deadly malice at work, no less than to the Savior's glory and His love! How surely Satan had entered, when we look at him as he stood with them and betrayed Him!
Jesus, knowing all that was coming on Him, goes out to them saying, Whom seek ye? and at His confession of Himself in reply to their answer of Jesus the Nazarean, they went backward and fell to the ground. How manifest the proof of His intrinsic divine glory! A Man sent and come in love, yet the true God, and this the constant and special testimony of John, the true key to what he does not say, no less than to what he does say. Yet is there no effort, but the most charming simplicity along with this deep and divine under-current. Not all the treachery of Judas, not all the hatred and enmity of the Jews, not all the power of Rome could have seized the Lord, had not the time arrived to give Himself up. His hour was now come. He could have destroyed the company which sought to apprehend Him as easily as He caused them to fall prostrate before His name; as by-and-by in virtue of His name every knee shall bow, of beings in heaven and beings on earth and beings under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
But when He asked them again, Whom seek ye? and they said, Jesus the Nazarean, grace shone out, not power: the former now, as the latter before, expressing the true God who was now manifesting Himself on earth in His own person. “If then ye seek me, leave these to go away; that the word might be fulfilled which he said, Of those whom thou hast given me, I have lost not one of them.” (Vers. 8, 9.) Like the ark in Jordan He would go alone into the waters of death, and His own pass over dry-shod. He gives Himself up freely for them. The great salvation which is infallible includes every lesser one which suits and serves the glory of God meanwhile. And blessed it is to trace to the same spring of gracious power in Christ all the passing mercies we experience, where His hand shields us from the enemy's malice. He puts Himself forward to endure all. His people go free; His word is fulfilled in every way. Where the Father gives, the Son loses none. What comfort and assurance before a hostile world!
But even His most honored servants fail, and are apt to fail most where they push forward in natural zeal and their own wisdom, too self-confident to watch His ways and heed His word and thus learn of Him. So Simon Peter then displays his haste in total discord with the grace of Christ; for having a sword he drew it and struck Malchus the servitor of the high priest, maiming him of his right ear. Had Peter watched and prayed instead of sleeping, it might have been otherwise; when we fail to pray, we enter into temptation.
Luke alone, true to his testimony to God's grace, tolls us of the Lord's answer, “Suffer ye thus far,” and of His touching the ear to heal the wounded man. Matthew alone, in harmony with the rejected Messiah but true King of Israel, gives the reproof which warned His servant of what it is for saints to resist carnally. Mark mentions the fact, but no more. John, agreeably to the purpose of God in his work, presents the Lord in unfaltering obedience to His Father, as before in divine power and grace. Nothing more calm than His correction of Peter's energy; nothing more distinct than His submission to the Father's will, whatever it cost. “The cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” It is the same Jesus as in Luke and the other Gospels, yet what a difference! Everywhere worthy, never a word or way beneath the Holy One of God, but here above all the Son with perfect dignity and withal perfect subjection of heart in suffering as in work. It was His drink now in doing His will, as before His meat in doing it. As the living Father sent Him and He lived on account of the Father, so He lays down His life that He may take it again; but if He says, I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it again, He adds, This commandment I received of my Father. Never was such deep and holy conflict as the second Man knew in the garden; but none of this appears in John: it is all the power and grace and calm of the Son with no motive but the Father's will. Never was there an approach to such glorifying of God the Father.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 7:2-18

The apostle returns to the expression of his affection towards the Corinthians, as he desired their love.
“Receive us: we wronged none, we corrupted none, we overreached none. For condemnation I do not speak; for I have said before that ye are in our hearts to die with and to live with. Great [is] my frankness toward you, great my boasting in respect of you: I am filled with encouragement, I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction. For also when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but [we were] afflicted in every way; without fightings, within fears. But he that encourageth the lowly, God, encouraged us by the coming of Titus, and not by his coming only but also by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in your case, declaring to us your longing desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I the more rejoiced. Because if also I grieved you in the letter, I do not regret, if also I did regret; for I see that that letter if also for a time grieved you. Now I rejoice, not that ye were grieved but that ye were grieved unto repentance, for ye were grieved according to God that in nothing ye might suffer damage from us. For grief according to God worketh repentance to salvation not to be regretted; but the grief of the world worketh out death. For, behold, this very thing that ye were grieved according to God, how much diligence it wrought out in you, nay self-clearing, nay indignation, nay fear, nay longing desire, nay zeal, nay avenging! In everything did ye prove yourselves to be pure in the matter. Wherefore, if also I wrote, [it was] not for the sake of him that wronged, nor for his sake that was wronged, but for the sake of your diligence for us (or, ours for you) being manifested unto you before God. On this account we have been encouraged; but in our comfort we rejoiced the more exceedingly over the joy of Titus, because his spirit hath been refreshed by you all. Because if I have boasted to him anything of you, I was not put to shame; but as we speak all things to you in truth, so also our boasting of you to Titus was truth. And his affections are more exceedingly toward you, calling to mind the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. I rejoice that in everything I am confident in you.” (Vers. 2-16.)
Thus does he call for room in their hearts: a touching appeal when we reflect who and what he was, who and what they were. The lack of love was certainly not in him; nor was lowliness absent from him who deigns to repudiate the unworthy insinuations whispered against him, which they had better see whether they might not be more applicable elsewhere: neither injustice nor corruption nor fraudulent gain were true of him. He was careful to exclude even the appearance of these evils. But if the Holy Spirit work in the saints, Satan is ever busy and knows how to avail himself of all circumstances to detract and undermine, especially where love should most abound. In speaking thus however the apostle is careful to guard his words from the semblance of a condemnatory spirit. As he had already implied in chapter 6: 11, they were in his heart to die with and to live with. He that is familiar with the Latin lyric may remember the well-known line which resembles this sentiment in form—O how different in reality! “Teem vivere amem, tecum obeans libens.” And how infinitely superior, in strength as in purity, is this outpouring of unselfish affection, where the Christian begins with dying together whilst the heathen can but end with it!
Far from a word to wound their spirits now restored, he can and does speak freely and in the strongest confidence. “Great [is] my frankness toward you, great my boasting in respect of you: I am filled with encouragement, I am overflowing with joy in all our afflictions.” Sorrow closes the heart, joy opens it; and now the apostle's gladness of heart was proportionate to the depth of his pain over saints so dear in the Lord. “For also when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way: without fightings, within fears. But he that encourageth the lowly, God, encouraged us by the coming of Titus, and not by his coming only but also by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in your case, declaring to us your longing desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I the more rejoiced.” It was not only in Troas he was full of heaviness and anxiety, but also in Macedonia whither he had gone in the hope of hearing the latest tidings from Titus. There he had yet more pressure of trouble till the good news came. Deeply interesting and affecting it is to hear the apostle opening his heart thus freely and to know how distracted and burdened he had been by all. “Our flesh” (ver. 5) is a peculiar expression, signifying I suppose his human weakness as such; “afflicted in every way” describes the circumstances (“without fightings, within fears") inward and outward. But God does not fail. He is the encourager of the depressed as He resists the proud; and He it was who now appeared to cheer the distressed apostle by the coming of Titus, above all by the tidings of what grace had wrought in the Corinthians, restoration in affection, and, as we shall see later, in conscience too.
The reason or explanation of his former severity, given in the verses that follow is highly interesting and important in various respects. It is not “a” but the letter, clearly referring to the first epistle to the Corinthians. Did our translators wish to conceal this? It is not the only instance here of want of faith in men of God; for Calvin also shirks the truth, when he contends that μετεμελόμην “I repented” is used in the passage improperly for being grieved. For (argues he) when Paul made the Corinthians sad, he himself also shared in the grief and in a certain way inflicted sadness on himself at the same time. It is therefore just as if he said, Though I unwillingly pained you, it grieved me too that I was forced to be harsh to you; now I cease to grieve on this account whilst I see it has been useful to you. Otherwise if we own that Paul was concerned at what he had written, Calvin thought it would involve the grave absurdity that the former epistle was written under inconsiderate impulse rather than by the direction of the Spirit. So Erasmus considered that the supposition was not the fact.
But there is not the smallest need for toning down or altering the language. It is indeed, however common, an erroneous view of inspiration, which does in no way preclude the working of motive as we see in Luke 1:1-3, any more than deep exercise of mind as here. We are bound to accept the plain words of the apostle, which show his anxiety after he had written an unquestionably inspired epistle. “Because if also I grieved you in the letter I do not regret, if also I did regret; for I see that that letter if also for an hour grieved you. Now I rejoice not that ye were grieved but that ye were grieved unto repentance; for ye were grieved according to God that ye might in nothing suffer loss from us.” He recognized the indubitable fruit of the Holy Spirit's operation through the very epistle which had harassed his spirit after he had written and sent it off. He had no question more. It was of God, as he was divinely convinced and reassured; but now in his joy at their restoration he could tell them all his feelings freely, even a passing regret for having written the first epistle, truly inspired of God as it was, though joy abounded the more now for the blessing that had resulted.
It is a mistake to call even an inspired man infallible: none but Christ was, and He was pleased to write neither Gospels nor Epistles, without overlooking of course what He commanded His servants to write in the great and final book of the Canon. But the Spirit of God guided and kept the vessels of His inspiration, so that, maintaining the individuality of each writer, He should give a result perfectly according to God. In the first Epistle the apostle distinguishes between the fruit of his spiritual judgment and the positive commandments of the Lord; but he was inspired to give us both in chapter vii. Here he is inspired to tell us how his spirit was agitated even about that inspired epistle, in no way as to its absolute truth, but through his anxiety lest the very desire to win his beloved children back might not have estranged them forever.
Farther, we have precious light from God here as to that great work in the awakened soul, repentance. It is quite distinct from regret or change of mind. Even sorrow however deep is not repentance, though sorrow according to God works it out. Again, it is not correct to confound repentance with conversion to God, which is surely a turning from sin with earnest desire for holiness. Repentance is the soul as born of God sitting in judgment of the old man and its acts, its words and its ways. And as repentance for remission of, sins was to be preached in Christ's name, so He was exalted to give both. It is not a changed mind however great about God in Christ, which is rather what faith is and gives; it is the renewed mind taking account of the man and his course according to God's word and nature. Hence it is said to be not about God, but “toward God” or Godward; for the conscience then takes His side in self-judgment before Him, and all is weighed as in His sight. It is of course of the Spirit, not intellectual but moral. “Surely after that I was turned, I repented.” It follows conversion and consequently that application of the word which arrests the soul by faith, though it be not yet the faith of the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, which brings into peace.
Here of course it is the repentance of saints who had sinned. But it is the same principle, and in contrast with the world's grief which, knowing not God, gives itself up to despair and works out death. However overwhelmed may be the believer, God takes care that there shall be enough hope in His mercy to guard from the despairing fear which Satan wields for his deadly purposes.
And what a picture the apostle draws of God's recent work in the repentant Corinthians! “For behold this very thing, that ye were grieved according to God how much diligence it wrought out in you, nay self-clearing, nay indignation, nay fear, nay longing desire, nay zeal, nay avenging! In everything did ye prove yourselves to be pure in the matter.” (Ver. 11.) Of course its precise character was modified by the generally bad state of the assembly before grace thus used the first epistle. No indifference now, but earnest care; no extenuation of the evil, but thorough cleansing of themselves; a burning sense of indignation, fear, longing desire, zeal, and revenge, all had their place; so that he who had sternly reproved them could say that they had proved themselves clear in the matter: a, if not the, grand aim of the Spirit in discipline, and not merely getting rid of the offender.
Sometimes in a case of disciplinary truth, it is a question as at Corinth of the assembly's state as a whole. Before the first Epistle they were wholly ignorant that all were involved in the evil which was before their eyes, and which they did not know they were bound to judge. When we read that they were puffed up and had not rather mourned, we must bear in mind that they were quite inexperienced, and that the mind of the Lord as to dealing with wickedness in the assembly or its members, had not yet been revealed to them. Still as saints they ought to have felt the sin and scandal deeply, and if they did not know how to act, they should have betaken themselves to mourning in order that he that had done this deed should be taken sway out of the midst of them. Spiritual instinct should have felt thus and laid it with shame and earnest desire before the Lord who never fails. But that epistle was blessed of God, to deal with their souls, not only as to the offender, but, as to their own state, and thus gave occasion for the apostle to open his heart so painfully burdened, and sorely agitated with all the fervor of a real love which only overleaps its old channel, because of the temporary repression.
Where souls since then, in the face of these epistles, have tampered with grave evil whatever it be, where palliation has been at work, where ingenious excuses have blunted the sense of right and wrong, as may be at any time among Christians, it is a state of things worse in some respects than that at Corinth. For there ignorance of the duty of the assembly in discipline prevailed, and we cannot wonder at it, though the sin was appalling. The mere getting the wicked person outside, important as it may be, is not what comforted the apostle's heart, but the working of deep and united moral feelings all round. “In everything ye have proved yourselves to be pure in the matter.” Where there had been such indifference to their complicity, even though in ignorance of their responsibility as at Corinth, the saints had to clear themselves and prove it for the Lord's vindication. But it is, I doubt not, a general principle, and always incumbent. Merely to have done with the offender would show in others an unexercised conscience, or but judicial hardness. The happy contrast with all this was here manifest. They had indeed been grieved according to God.
Hence the apostle adds that, if also he wrote to them, it was not for the sake of the wrong-doer nor of the one wronged, but for the manifestation to them before God of their diligent zeal for them or of the apostle's for them. (Ver. 12.) It seems passing strange that the early clauses should seem obscure; as to the latter in opposite ways, the copies singularly differ, some as the Sinaitic and the Boernerian yielding no good sense. Whatever the adversary had wrought for a while, their true zeal for the apostle was made plain to themselves at last before God. This is the best supported sense.
“On this account we have been encouraged; and in (or in addition to) our encouragement, we rejoiced much more abundantly at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.” Grace had given the happiest issue to that which fleshly energy or ease had ruined for a time. And joy abounded not in them only but more in Titus, most in Paul himself. And there were other grounds beyond, though connected with, their present state. “Because if I have boasted anything to him over you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also the boasting about you before Titus was truth; and more abundantly toward you are his bowels, while calling to mind the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. I rejoice that in everything I have good courage in respect of you.” Such an allusion to his feelings towards the Corinthians, when they must have been conscious of their temporary alienation, and deplorably low state, would more than over seal their affection, as it proved his to have been true from first to last. His heart was not inconstant, nor was his tongue insincere. He loved, if also he had blamed his beloved children at Corinth, and they could now appreciate all better, as he could tell out all freely, however delicately.

The Prospect

Beloved, let us sit down, and consider how long it will be before we shall see His face! His face, His own, even His, who is the chiefest amongst ten thousand, the altogether lovely-Jesus, our Lord. Some of us are but young, others are hoar-headed. Even should He not come in our lifetime, it cannot belong, a very few more years at the very longest, and we shall see Jesus.
It will do you good, beloved, to sit still in your chambers, and to meditate upon the greeting, the meeting, so close at hand. Perhaps it shall be that, lying upon your bed, the flesh failing, the body perishing, your last hour shall come, the last moments of which shall be the soul's straining to catch a sight of Him. Then He shall smile upon you, and your friends shall see His beauty beaming upon your dying countenance, and shall watch your responding smiles of greeting, as your spirit hastes away to be “forever with the Lord.”
What is this life? A vapor that appeareth for a short time, and then vanisheth away. Yes; but it is our time for learning the Lord, and longing to see Him. Come back, brethren, to the love of Jesus. True, of many of us our spring-time is past-true, the early sweetness of our affectionate devotedness to Him is gone by. What have we penned—Is it true? Is it so that we love Him not as once we did? Is the measure, as well as the manner, less? He knows all things, let Him answer; we will be silent. But the early freshness has gone, like the bloom of childhood from our cheeks; we are getting into years, and the years, each one of them, declare to us, “Nearer home, nearer to the Lord Jesus.” Those who have lived to middle age have lived long enough to have their hearts broken. This, it would seem, is one great object for which we are allowed to live a handful of years in life's school. We have seen our parents die, we have seen our children's spirits wing their way home; and we have seen and felt His presence by the dying couches of the aged and the young. Yet we have lived long enough to have our hearts bound up by His hand, beloved, as we are broken by the sorrows of life. And each succeeding year heaven becomes not only nearer, but dearer to our hearts; more treasures are stored there yearly, as the years roll by, and each period of time teaches us what we could never have conceived of Jesus, had it not been for sorrow.
He is so real, as a person who is the beloved of our hearts; so near as a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother. Hence, we say again, let us sit down, and count up the longest time that it possibly can be before we shall see His face. We know the shortest time it may, be-” a moment, the twinkling of an eye;” yes, we may be winging our way home before the next tick of the clock, for come He will, and will not tarry. But the longest, how long shall it be? Sit down in your solitude, alone with the Lord, and consider His greeting, and your meeting of His eye.
What is life? It is the privileged moment for glorifying the Lord on earth. Here we are set to walk as He walked-to shine as lights in the world for Him-to be His epistle, known and read of all men. And as we think of seeing Him, we can but think of pleasing Him. Is it too much to say that many of the Lord's people have a tissue between their affections and the Lord's heart? A something exists. They are not bright. Peace, this through His blood, they have, but His peace does not fill their hearts. It is of no use disguising—the truth-many of God's people are not at this hour in personal intercourse with Christ. The spiritual countenance lacks expression. The features of Christianity are there, but the spiritual eye lacks luster; Jesus is not close to the soul, Christ is not dwelling in the heart by faith.
This is not heaven upon earth, nor is it longing after Himself. Spiritual intelligence is not spiritual affection, and without its love the lamp is dim. And with such thoughts, again, we say, Come, sit in your chamber alone; meditate upon the hour beyond this life and this world, when we shall behold His face. What a remedy this is for present spiritual ailments! Some have one nostrum for the soul's state, then another, but all fail, save “Jesus only.” We thank God for the doctrines, and thank Him more that each doctrine is a door opening into the presence of the Lord. Are we outside these doors? Many are! They know well what they are like. There is that of shittim wood, and that of silver and that of gold; there is knowledge of His spotless humanity, of His redeeming blood, of His God and Father's glory through Him. But open the door of His humanity, and behold Himself, beloved. Before you is the perfect Man; open the silver door of redemption, and behold His once streaming wounds; open the golden door, and see Him where He is in the glory on high. It is Jesus only with these hearts of ours; let us seek more of His blest company. His presence will shed its holy glow over our very selves. It is but a little while, and we shall walk with Him in white; and now, in this day of Christian talk, our words shall speak the one language of heaven, if only we are in His presence.
Ah! fellow-Christians, our souls sigh out, “What a change there would be in us if Christ formed our hearts.” The strife of tongues would cease, pride would vanish, sin would be confessed, and men would take knowledge of us that we had been with Jesus.
H. F. W.

Strength in Weakness

The apostle is nearing the end of his journey, and knowing that shortly he must put off this his tabernacle, as the Lord Jesus had shown him (John 21:16-18), after He had so thoroughly probed his heart to see whether any self-confidence was still left there. Precious faith and true love to the Lord there had always been since the day that his brother sought him, and brought him to Jesus, when He gave him his name and place in view of the assembly not yet built. (John 1:42). “And he brought him to Jesus; and when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon, son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone.” “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he signifying by what death he should glorify God; and when he had spoken thus, he saith unto him, Follow me.”
There had been much else besides faith and love in the heart of Simon, son of Jonas, and that much undetected by him. Man admires his natural character, his ardor, boldness, and self-reliance. A will not yet judged is not subjection to grace, and what Christ values is not nature, but the Spirit of God by grace working, and shown out in patient dependence and long-suffering for His name's sake. All this, so largely treated of in his first epistle, as that which is suited for all Christians, he had yet to learn. The key-note he gives us in 1 Peter 4 “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” Christ did God's will, and suffered for it; so the believer arms himself with the same mind, that is, to walk in the path of suffering, and thus has done with sin. God's will guiding, the flesh does not act, and the lusts of men have no place. All this Peter had yet to learn when first called to follow the Lord.
Leaning on nature is ever the source of failure, and, if it does not lead to a thorough break-down, always leads to weakness and mistakes. To find out this was Simon's great lesson (as it is of all). The way he learned it may not be needed for all, nor always; nay, may we not say, that it was not absolutely needed for him? A low opinion of himself, dependence on God, and self-judgment, watchfulness and prayer, would have saved even Peter from his dreadful fall. But he must learn what he was as a natural man, and know the true source of strength for service, and for feeding the sheep of Christ; and, in Paul's words, have “the sentence of death in himself, not trust to in himself, but in God who raiseth the dead.” Here alone is strength for patient service and endurance in the conflict and sorrow, for Paul as well as Peter—yea, for all.
Satan is God's allowed instrument in Peter's case, and in passing through that fearful sifting of the adversary, there is much to get rid of. His practice failed lamentably, but Satan could not destroy that which the Lord had prayed might be preserved. “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” Beneath all the rubbish which seemed to bury that “precious faith,” from the first it had been deposited in Simon's heart, unseen by man, and unindicated outwardly, yea, belied by oaths and denial whilst in the hands of the adversary, yet at that moment proved to be there by the look of Him on whose heart this poor sifted disciple had been all the while. That look of the Lord broke down pride, self-will, and natural energy—deeper self-judgment following. “He went out, and wept bitterly.”
On the shore of the sea of Tiberias the Lord would make this work a thorough one in Peter's heart, testing the strength of his love. Was it love beyond the love of others? Peter had said, “If all forsake thee, yet will not I” —yea, though prison and death itself should be in the path. This was Simon's measure of his own love, compared with the love of others—too large a measure doubtless, when nature was there, and as the strength for executing it (though love there was too); for, when true love would use natural energy (and this is disallowed by the patient, lowly One, who was led as a Lamb to the slaughter) it suited nature to use the literal sword and fight for Christ, at all to suffer patiently, and endure in meekness. The weapons for the latter were not carnal. The wrath of man did not work the righteousness of God. Peter was warring after the flesh, and there needed a “casting down of his imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10)
When Peter hears these words, “Put up thy sword again into its sheath,” what else had he to fall back upon in nature? The path of self-sacrifice was not of nature. Thus is there a complete collapse in heart and service—not patient endurance—where natural energy had wrought, impelled doubtless by true love to Him for whom in this way be was proving it. Going to prison and death was out of the question now for him. He was even more scared and crest-fallen than Elijah, who fled to Horeb from the face of Jezebel when she threatened his life. Will was working when the servants of the high priest challenged him as a disciple of Jesus; and what is it worth before death or danger?
The Lord would know from Peter's own lips whether he had now curtailed the measure of his love to Him, by Himself using it in its original dimensions. “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” This is thrice repeated too.
How deeply probed was that heart, which, whilst now discarding the measuring of its own love, yet could not but plead the truth that love was there, though none but the Omniscient could give him credit for it! “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.” Here then is one whose heart is fitted to feed the lambs and to feed the sheep; and that now, following in the path of patient suffering and self-sacrifice which the Good Shepherd Himself had trod, giving His life for the sheep.
Natural will and energy would at last be thoroughly dealt with, as expressed by the Lord's words immediately added. “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he signifying by what death he should glorify God; and when he had spoken this, he said unto him, Follow me.”
Was it to end thus, and Peter to follow his Lord to death? Even so it was. What nature was not competent to do, grace would accomplish. He had become weak, and by it had gained divine strength. This then was Peter's own original measure of his love to Christ: was he to be privileged to do even as he had promised at the first? This was to be his privilege—self-emptied and passive, he would when old stretch forth his hands for another to gird him, and carry him whither he would not. It was contrary to nature and will, but these were displaced, and, when thus, the spirit of his Master enabled him to follow Him thus. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh,” in order to hinder us from doing the things that we would. Now this strife was over. The Spirit predominates, and the flesh is set aside. As another could say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Blessed state, and unfailing strength for every saint as well as Peter and Paul!—to be strong in weakness, to live daily dying, to make ninny rich though in poverty; to know how to be abased, and how to abound; everywhere and in all things being instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Phil. 4) Who or what could disturb the repose of a heart in such a state of dependence and confidence in the Lord?
This, too, not only gives true rest and strength, but leaves the heart at leisure to be occupied with and for others. Having got rid of our own cares, we the more fully care for all saints; and, having judged our own will, we do God's will, or suffer for it. Thus Peter, knowing that shortly he must put off this his tabernacle as the Lord had shown him, with a true shepherd's heart and care thinks of the Lord's blood-bought sheep, and would now the more fully warn them, exhort them, put them in mind, that after he was gone they might have those things always in remembrance. Though they knew them, yet would he put them in mind, and press upon them what would sustain them, so leading them on in diligence, that they might have an abundant entrance administered unto them into the glory, and be kept from falling whilst here. Failure was not a necessity, though he had fallen; but they never would, did they but give diligence to do the things of which he speaks to them. G. R.

Letter on Subjects of Interest: Fellowship

London, 1871.
I have not the least doubt that the apostle, when he said (1 John 1:7), “We have fellowship one with another,” spoke of fellowship with saints among themselves. There are three elements of Christian life. The first is to be in the light as God is in the light, without a veil. One must be found in the presence of God fully revealed. If one does not keep oneself there, one cannot be in communion with Him.
The second is, that, being in His presence, it is not with us the egotism of the individual, but the fellowship of the saints by the Holy Ghost, in the enjoyment of the full revelation of God Himself.
The third is, that we are white as snow, so that we can find ourselves with joy in this light, which only makes manifest that we are all that the mind and heart of God desires in this respect, that which our heart desires also before him. The idea is abstract and absolute, it is the value and efficacy of Christ's blood. It is not only the washing away of sin; there is an efficacy besides, which is not lost. My soul once washed, I am always before God, according to the efficacy of this blood. The washing away is rather by water, although in virtue of this blood. (See John 13, and the “red heifer.") But here it is the value of the blood in itself, and mark it well: “if we walk in the light, as God is in the light.” It is indeed a real state; but the apostle does not say “according to the light.” It is our position, now that the cross has revealed God without veil. As men interpret this passage generally, they ought to read, “If we do not walk according to the light, the blood cleanses us.” But it is not a question of any such thing here.
It is at the beginning of 1 John 2 that one finds that provision made, or what is necessary in case of failure. I do not doubt that the light searches us; but here God does not see evil, He sees the man cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
At verse 8 the consideration of acknowledged sin begins. No doubt the blood purifies us from everything, but when we think of the existence of sin in us, the knowing that the blood purifies us from everything, we are led to another gospel truth, namely, that we are dead with Christ. (Rom. 6; Col. 2; 3; Gal. 2) It is for practice, and is directed against the movement of sin in the flesh. If sin has acted, we are led to confess, not the sin in the flesh, but that which it has produced (1 John 1:9); then we are pardoned and cleansed. This is true at the beginning, but true also in the details of life.
The different characters which Christ takes in respect to these last days are these-” the Holy and the True.” Yes, this is the character which He takes, what He wishes in His own, in their walk, when He shall come soon. We have to watch over ourselves, and over our brethren, that thus it may be. I feel, for my own part, that we have in these days to watch very particularly over this holiness, though it is always an essential thing for the children of God. Evil is in the world, but we are in the hands of God. Christ has entered after the evil, and gained a complete victory over him who was the chief of it; thanks be to Him! He holds in His hands the keys of death and hades; but the time has not yet come to take away the evil from off the earth. God uses it for our good, but the evil is there.

Psalm 1-41: 16-22

In Psa. 16 it is divine life in dependence, obedience, and communion. The first characteristic of divine life is trust-Christ putting His trust in Jehovah. As a man He does it. We see Him praying, the true expression of dependence; and in Luke's Gospel this is especially brought out. Then another principle of divine life is the consciousness of integrity, there may be both these-trust in God and consciousness of integrity, without peace with God. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him;” and he pleaded his own righteousness against God. “Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” He had the consciousness of sin and the sense of righteousness, integrity in himself, at the same time. The soul cannot be at peace in this state. Job was wrong in making a righteousness of his integrity.
This second principle of divine life we have in Psa. 17 It is the kind of righteousness the Jews will have in the latter day-the same which they had of old. God stays up the souls that trust in Him until they see Christ. Having a promise, they trust, but cannot say, “I have the righteousness of God.” Christ having taken up their condition, and borne it, they have the consciousness of integrity through Him; and it is the stay of their souls, but not peace. They will find such utterances as this, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee,” suit their own experience; they will be comforted by finding the word of God giving expression to their thoughts and feelings; it will be a prop and stay to them in the midst of their exercises, but they will not get peace in it. This Psa. 17 applies to the remnant surrounded by their enemies-ours are spiritual enemies. Here is the reality of enemies pressing round Christ. The remnant will find every imperfectly formed feeling of their hearts has been perfectly gone through and expressed by Him, He having put Himself in their place. In trusting, and in the consciousness of integrity, He has been before them.
In the Psalm mercy for man goes before righteous. ness, and they never meet till Christ appears at the end to the remnant. It cannot be said, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” until the perfectness of redemption is known. I may get. hope, but I cannot get peace until I get righteousness. It maybe said, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” for the Jew. When Christ comes again, a Jew under law would put righteousness before mercy-that is the law—and Israel stood on that ground. They had made the golden calf before the law was given to them; then God retires into His own sovereignty, and, to spare any, mercy comes in. It was the resource of God when wickedness came in. They have been going about to establish their own righteousness, they would not have Christ who is the end of the law for righteousness, &c., and when they come back, it will be on the ground of mercy and hope.
We, on our proper ground, are not like those who refine to believe until they see Him; we have the end of our faith now, even the salvation of our souls. We know that righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Christ has gone into the holy place, as the Holy Ghost has come out to us, the proof of it, and we are certain Christ is received within, the full accomplishment of divine righteousness. Rom. 3:20: “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh,” &c. But it is said, “In Jehovah shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” It is not “shall” to us, but “being (that is, having been) justified by faith,” Sec. God had been forbearing in mercy with the Old Testament saints, because He knew what He was going to bring in. Now it is declared. It was not declared then.
“Not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things,” &c. “To declare at this time his righteousness.” They could, say, “being fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able also to perform.” I do not simply believe that He is able, but that He has raised up His Son from the dead. I may trust He will help, but not be conscious of being helped yet; that was the patriarchs' portion. Yet I do not expect Him to do it, but know that He has done it; it is the ministration of righteousness. I have the knowledge of accomplished righteousness; righteousness is declared to faith. I am not merely hoping for mercy, trusting, and having consciousness of integrity. They could not judge sin in the same way when they had not righteousness as a settled question, which it now is forever for those who believe. The Spirit of God now demonstrates righteousness to the world by setting Christ at God's right hand. Christ said, “I have glorified thee on the earth,” &c.; God says to Him, “Sit thou at my right hand until I make,” &c.
As regards the believer now, righteousness is on the right hand of God for him. The affections ought to be more lively now that there is the certainty of accomplished righteousness.
There is another thing connected with righteousness here; righteousness is appealed to on the ground of promises, as well as that mercy goes before it. In their state there must be alternation of feeling, in the sense of hope in His mercy-trusting in God; in the consciousness of sin-down in the depths. Yet they will find One has gone down into the depths for them. The Spirit of God in Christ going through all these things shows that not one place, from the dust of death to the highest place in glory, but He has been in-sins and all having been gone under.
The weakest saint now knows more than the apostles could when Christ was on earth. They trembled and fled at the cross. We feed on that which frightened them—a dead Christ. When once founded on righteousness, our position is so different. It is sad to see a saint crouching down on the other side of divine righteousness, instead of having on the “helmet of salvation,” having communion with Him in the efficacy of His death.
There is another thing to mark in these Psalms-the character of hope running all through them. Christ looked onward to being in the presence of God, where is fullness of joy; this was the reward He looked for as the end of trusting in God's love. (Psa. 16)
The reward of righteousness-glory: “I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” Christ looked to return into the same glory He had left for the path of humiliation down here; the reward for it would be glory as a crown. The reward of walking with God in communion is joy in His presence (end of Psa. 16); the reward of faithful walk, the place in glory (end of Psa. 17), It is the same difference for us. Paul looked for the crown of righteousness, but his highest hope was to win Christ.
Christ will come to set everything to rights in power; judgment will return to righteousness, and all the meek of the earth shall see. This has never been known yet. When Christ comes in power, judgment and righteousness will go together. Power will be given to the Judge, who will act in righteousness. The great hindrance to our understanding the Old Testament scriptures is our putting ourselves into them. God's faithfulness, of course, is always true; but when the Spirit of prophecy speaks of the people, and state of the people (e.g., God biding His face from them), we know it does not apply to us literally. He cannot hide His face from us. His face is shining on us in Christ. Does He hide His face from Christ?
Psa. 18 Here are Christ's sufferings even unto death. The death of Christ is the ground of all Christ's dealing with the people from Egypt to glory.
Psa. 19 is the witness of creation and witness of the law (7). Whatever man touches he defiles; but the heavens maintain the glory of God-they are what man cannot reach. Law is broken. Man cannot change it, but he has broken it.
The Psalms that follow, namely, Psa. 20; 21; 22, are all connected, and show the result of the position Christ takes in Psa. 16, where He stands in the place of caring for “the excellent of the earth,” &c.; as though saying, The old world, the people in the flesh, I have done with, and now all My delight is with the excellent. These are they who have received Him. The connection of that, as we have seen, is that He must go through death. He must be the resurrection Man. There must be atonement. Peter was reproved for desiring this to be avoided. Flesh cannot go there; Christ must go there. “Whither I go thou canst not follow Me now.” The moment He has to do with us, it must be Hades or death. He cannot bless man with union with Himself in the flesh. In the millennium He will; and we are blest now, but it is all in virtue of this-He has died and risen; therefore we are told to reckon ourselves dead. The life has come into the world that had power to go through death; the life has gone through death, and risen out of it.
Psa. 20 The remnant sympathize; and, looking on Him in His trouble, pray for Him.
In Psa. 21 the excellent of the earth come to this terrible conclusion-that they must give their Messiah up as to the flesh. They never could understand how it was to be. In the history we know the result of this when He was on earth; they all forsook Him, and fled. Then, mark, we have the character of His sufferings brought out-sufferings from man. They hated Him. “Their soul abhorred me,” as Zechariah says. The history of the Gospels is that they would not have Him. They sent a message after Him, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” All this was from the hand and heart of man. One betrayed Him, another denied Him in the hour of trial, even of His disciples. Then look at the priests: what heartless indifference and unrighteousness in Pilate, who was afraid of the Jews, and washed his hands to be clean of His death! Christ looks round for companions, but finds none, for righteousness, none! for sympathy, none for intercession, none Mary at Bethany was a single exception; a gleam of light was there in the midst of the darkness. She, spending her heart on Him, was an appropriate witness to the Son of man-the Son of God All except that was darkness. The more perfect His feelings, the more He suffered. It was a deep mire in which He was standing. He had to prove the wickedness of the human heart, that it is open and complete enmity to what is good.
Such is flesh. Christ experienced what it is on His own person. The result of all that suffering from the hand of man is judgment on man. (See Psa. 21) “Thou hast given him what he asked of thee.” (See Heb. 5 also: “Heard for his piety.") “Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies.”
There are two very distinct characters in Christ's sufferings. There was His suffering in the world, and especially in connection with Israel; and there was this other-He came to give His life a ransom. “This is my blood of the new covenant, shed for many:” that is outside all dispensation. “We are by nature children of wrath;” ALL are one as to that condition. There was a ministration “of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises,” &c., and the Gentiles, the objects of mercy; but through Christ's coming into the world there was the end of promise. There are blessed promises made good to us as Christians, and God will fulfill all He has said for earth, but this will be in the world to come. Christ came as the vessel of promise. He came into the world, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. Then there was a third party; “As many as received him,” &c. The world knew Him not; His own received Him not. But some did receive Him; these were born of God. It was a new thing, not from the first Adam. Every Christian knows we are born anew. It is no modification of the first Adam, but a new life. “The Life was manifested, and we have seen it,” &c.; and in chapter 2 of that epistle it is said, “which thing is true in him, and in you.” In chapter 1 of the Gospel He had said, “the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” John the Baptist drew attention to the “Light;” the Light comes into the world, and the world knows Him not. Then, again, He comes among the Jews with everything to attract; but they saw nothing in Him to desire Him. This gives a double character to Christ's coming into the world. He was connected with all who came of Adam, being born into the world. He was the Life and the Light of men. He did not receive life-He was it. He was the Life from heaven. God has given to us life, and that life is in His Son; not life in ourselves. This divine person comes into the world, “God manifest in the flesh.” This is the first thing-He tries human nature, that is, the world and the Jews. He was a minister of the circumcision, bound to come because of the promises.
Christ's coming as God manifested in the flesh tests man. Then, secondly, He became the Second Adam (I am not now speaking of Him as Head of His body, the church, but as risen man), the Head of everything, the First-born from the dead. In the Second Adam-Christ-we have the Man of God's counsels; as Zechariah has it, “the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts.” This is a different thing from His merely testing the old thing, which even in Him, ends in death. True, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Even then He could speak of resurrection, and in that resurrection He becomes the Head of a new thing, and He will be this forever. This new position He never took on the earth. It was in resurrection. We could not have had it with Him without death-” Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone,” &c. Such is the essence and center of all our relationships with God. If man could have had connection with God in the flesh, on this side death, it would prove flesh good for something. It is the best thing it could be if it could delight in God; but all testimony shows us this is impossible.
Christ was here in perfect graciousness, speaking as never man spake, bringing out all His resources to meet the need of men; but the result of all this is entire and utter rejection. The history gives us Him presenting divine grace and graciousness, but His rejection in consequence. Not only has man broken God's law-that he had done already, made a calf, &c.-but now the question was raised between the display of God's heart and man's heart. He says, For my love I have hatred” they hated me without a cause.” That is the whole history of the flesh-God was reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. It is this gives the true character to the world now. Christ has been here, and has been rejected. The people were prepared by prophecy, promise, &c. Messiah came in by the door, was feeding the hungry with bread, doing all things well, as some were constrained to acknowledge; but they would not have Him.
John begins with His rejection; there is no genealogy given by him. The other Gospels give us the history of His rejection, but in these three verses of John 1 we have the results of what is told in the rest. The Jews are treated as a reprobate people; Christ is taken up as the rejected One. This is the starting-point with John, but grace is brought out. The result of man's treatment of Christ will result in judgment on man.
The result of His atoning work is exactly the opposite. Why did He suffer from man? It was for righteousness. When He suffers from God, is it for righteousness? Just the opposite. He suffers for sin under the wrath of God. He was made sin! Aye, and He suffers for sin. The moment He was made sin, He had to do with God about it. He was absolutely alone in this; there were none to look on, man could not contemplate. We have not such an expression as that we have in Psa. 20, “Jehovah hear thee,” in this Psa. 22. The disciples were even as the world-they could not go there. The ark must stand in the midst of Jordan until the people are over. There was Satan's power, God's wages against sin. When He appeals to God for deliverance, He is not heard (on the cross). He tasted death for every man. He must drink the cup of wrath-it is between God and Himself. If He had had the least comfort from God, He would not have drunk the cup. Man had nothing to do with it. If man had been there, it would have been damnation; He must be alone when suffering from God. In the thought of this suffering from sin He prayed against it. Could He say of that, “My meat is to do the will"? &c. No! not on the cross. This was the power of death, and in prospect of it, in the garden of Gethsemane, He said to His disciples,” Tarry ye here and watch;” and to God, “If it be possible, let this cup pass,” &c. Then He takes the cup from His Father's bands. When on the cross He cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He is forsaken of God. His soul drinks the cup of wrath due to Him when He is made sin. We have His thoughts and feelings expressed where the facts are going on. In the Psalms we have the privilege thus of knowing how He felt when under them-Psa. 22 gives “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” His feelings-the fact was atonement.
All that was closed in the death of Christ, and now it is another and a new thing. He comes out free, discharged, clear of all He bore on the cross, and is the resurrection Chief, the heavenly Man according to the counsels of God. It is into union with Him we are brought by faith: a place of unmingled and perfect grace is the result. Verse 19 shows what was the peculiar character of Christ's sufferings through the place He took in this world, and then the place before God which results in this full blessing to us.
“Save me from the lion's mouth for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” He was transfixed, not saved from it, so as not to be on it; when on the horns of the unicorns (a figure expressing the awful suffering of that moment), He was heard. “Thou hast heard me from the horns,” &c. “He hath appeared once in the end of the age to put away sin,” &c. All is judged, and this new resurrection Man is now in the presence of God, instead of the sinful man cast out of the presence of God; the risen Man heard from such a death.
Then He is seen coming to give testimony of the place into which we are brought as delivered. Angels had never seen such a thing as this! God has now a new character as Savior-the Savior-God. Christ had thus manifestly revealed it. It is not now responsible man; which has been gone through and settled in the death of Christ. Man would not have Him: then there must be judgment on enemies (not only wicked people); this is the result. Now God says, “I am going to do something in the Second Adam.” “What is 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. “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins” hath he quickened, &c. “Not of works,” &c. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” There is the responsibility of Christians.
This new name of Savior God, so often mentioned in Timothy, is made known by that Man who is set at His right hand by divine power, giving new life. God came down in the person of Christ, who went into death and rose again. He is the Savior. What is the first thing He does after His resurrection? He comes and tells His brethren of the full deliverance He has wrought. He comes to tell them, You are saved-you are brought before God-by virtue of this that I have done. Then He says to Mary Magdalene, Touch me not; I am not here among you as a King, but “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father.” He puts them into the same relationship as Himself. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” When He has told them of the blessedness of being saved, the full joy of the deliverance, He is not going to let them praise alone. The first thing is to reveal the new relationship, and then to praise in the midst of them. What is the character of His praise? Can a single note jar in His praise? If He praises, it must be in the power of a full redemption, a finished complete deliverance; and everything not founded on this does not answer to His note of praise.
Speaking of our answering to God on the ground of this redemption, what position are we to take? We can take none but what He has taken. He comes and declares His name to His brethren, and He leads the praise Himself, so that we must in worship acknowledge the full blessing into which He has brought us. We have to follow Him in His praise in this new relationship, not in flesh but in risen life. People say, But I must be humble! Nothing is so humble as following Christ, and He has left sin behind-death behind; and, blessed be God for it, there is no other position for us, “Ye that fear Jehovah, praise him.” This goes on to the end of verse 24.
But we come in verse 25 and the following verses to millennial time-” in the great congregation,” when all Israel shall be satisfied. Not only they are meek, but they praise Him. They shall praise the Lord that seek him.” People now are often sorrowful and, unhappy in seeking, but not then.
Verse 27. All Israel is not enough, but “all the ends of the world shall remember, and turn to the Lord.”
Verse 31. “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness, &c., that he hath done this” (borne their sins).
All this latter part (vers. 25-31) as we have seen refers to millennial blessing on earth; but we know our position is spoken of as “sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” He has suffered from God, and there is not a word of judgment afterward; He has suffered for sin, and exhausted it. He is the exalted Man, and as such He will execute judgment as the result of His being rejected of man. As to the saints” the excellent"-His connection with them is the key to all the blessing for us. Two things are connected with this: first, unbounded grace; and, secondly, the place we are practically set in-a new footing. We have new life from God, we are not of the world, and should be nothing in the spirit of grace, because not of the world.

Thoughts on Isaiah 13-18

In the preceding chapters we have the relationship of God with His people closed by the manifestation of Christ in glory. Here begins a new prophecy, which presents to us the relationship of Israel with the nations. This series of the prophecy goes from chapter 13 to the end of chapter 17, terminating with songs of joy and deliverance, as in the first section.
Chapter 13
The first of these predictions begins with what is in contrast with Zion-begins with Babylon, and the answer to the messengers of the nations, which is in chapter 14, that Jehovah hath founded Zion, and the poor of His people shall betake themselves to it, when Babylon is destroyed.
Babylon is not only the capital of Nebuchadnezzar and of the habitable world. It is Babel, signifying confusion. It is there men are united to exalt themselves and make themselves a name and a reputation in the world. At the end all the world sets itself to get exaltation for which commerce furnishes the means; and everything there, men's bodies and souls, will be for sale, as we see in Rev. 18. The Spirit of God taking the city of the Chaldees as an occasion gives the mind of God on the city of idolatrous corruption and pride up to the end, and even brings in here future circumstances of which history presents no accomplishment, and whose order is the contrary of that which is already arrived. Thus the Assyrian, if we follow the history, was destroyed before the grandeur of Babylon; whilst the Spirit speaking of what will happen in the last days tells us that the Assyrian is to be destroyed after Babylon. In the time of the prophet Babylon had not yet any pretension to be the capital of an empire, but a provincial city or at most a secondary power, seeking independence of Assyria, and at times gaining it, till it at last became not only aggressive but supreme.
In verse 5 the fall of Babylon is announced as the day of Jehovah. That which will happen in that day is indicated in verses 6-12. There is all that the world has to look for.
One sees in the world either the arrogance of him who has the upper hand, or the envy of him who is below. God will cause to cease the pride of man in both ways; He will punish as here, not the dead only, but the living, the habitable earth, all that from which the world draws its glory. Its great chiefs, its victories, its wealth, ease, luxury, splendor, what is it but arrogance and self-exaltation? That day will be blessed for those who are poor in spirit, because they will enjoy peace; but the destruction will be so great that a man will be more prized than the gold of Ophir.
“Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove,” &c. (Vers. 13-22.) All this is “a promise” to the Christian. (See Heb. 12:25, 26.) If he is in his place, he is separate from all the interests of the world, he belongs to heaven, to Jesus, which cannot be shaken. The world passes away, and God will make it cease, and this will give rest. It is for us a “promise,” as we have seen. Jesus speaks to us from heaven and makes us this promise of shaking once more not the earth only, but also heaven; because all that which surrounds us is an obstacle which hinders us from enjoying what Jesus has promised us. Christians hasten this time by their faith. God would have us wait for it because His patience is great, and the work of saving souls still goes on here below. (2 Peter 3) If the destruction of all the world-system is not a promise to us, it must be that we are attached to what is on the earth. There is a kingdom which cannot be moved and which will move all others: and it is for this that Christian simplicity waits. Can we truly desire as the accomplishment of a promise that God should shake the heavens and the earth? Are our hearts attached to not one thing which shall be the object of that destruction? May God make us see the end of it, that our hearts may be separated from all that is going to be destroyed!
Chapter 14.
When God acts in judgment, there is always care taken of His people. “For Jehovah will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of Jehovah for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were: and they shall rule over their oppressors.” (Vers. 1, 2.) When the devastation of the habitable world takes place, there will be the deliverance of the people of God, Israel, who will take possession of the earth.
From verse 3 to the 23rd there is a beautiful picture of the fall of Babylon's king in its last representative—the beast of the close. The prophet takes occasion from events at hand in that day; but no prophecy of scripture is made to be of its own interpretation, none has been fully or entirely accomplished. And the reason is that the Holy Spirit has always Jesus and His kingdom in view. God has always the Second man in His mind. Even the first prophecy, that the woman's Seed should crush the serpent's head, is not yet fulfilled. All that there is in God's word points onward to the glory of Christ.
There is a crowd of prophetic examples in the word of God, where but half is accomplished. Thus Psa. 8 is not yet accomplished in verses 6-9. We do not yet see all things put under His feet. (Heb. 2) Again Psa. 68 is not yet accomplished fully; hence the apostle omits “for the rebellious also” in Eph. 4, because it will apply to the Jews in the latter day. It would be to lose the purpose of God to believe the prophecies accomplished on this side of Christ's glory; for it would give to prophecy a particular interpretation.
In verses 12-15 we see that, as long as “the beast” is on the earth, he passes himself off for God. Nevertheless he is doomed to destruction. (Ver. 19.) God has but to give the signal, and he who broke kings like reeds is himself a broken reed.
To the Christian Christ is the true Morning Star; but “the beast” claims to be so. He attributes to himself all the glory of Christ. All these details here vaunted in verses 12-15 are true of the Lord Jesus; but the last holder of the power, given first to Babylon's head, would also ascend into heaven, and sit too on the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north, taking possession of Christ's kingdom in Zion. Compare for part of the language Psa. 48:2: there was the city of the great king. The beast would also possess himself of Christ's heavenly glory, and be like the Most High; but He who is Son of God and Son of man will overthrow the man of the earth, who shall cause no more fright after that. (Psa. 10:18)
The beast and the false prophet being destroyed, Christ is King in Zion. In due time comes the destruction of the Assyrian, as we see here in verses 2427. “Jehovah of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass: and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then snail his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For Jehovah of hosts hath purposed, and, who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” The Assyrian is no less senseless in rising up against Christ associated with Israel, the Prince of princes. The indignation is accomplished then, and Israel long chastised is owned of God. When Christ reigns in Zion, Israel is owned, but all the enemies are not yet destroyed. That which follows the destruction of Babylon and the beast is the destruction of the Assyrian, or king of the north. It is a mistake to confound the little horn of Dan. 7 with the little horn of Dan. 8, which last elevates himself not against the God of gods, but against the Lord of lords. For the indignation to cease completely the Assyrian must be destroyed. (Mic. 5) He will trample down the Assyrian in His land, because He owns Israel for His people. God will assert in the person of Christ all His rights over the earth.
In verses 28-32 is the judgment of the. Philistines, the remains of the Canaanites. Hezekiah labored for their submission. The Lord Jesus will finish it by a destruction more terrible when He stablishes His throne in Zion. When Babylon, the Assyrian, and the Philistines are put down finally, the poor and needy remnant shall lie down in safety, and Zion shall be their bulwark. (See Psa. 132) Never in God's word does that mountain mean anything but itself, being wholly inapplicable to the church.
Chapters 15, 16.
From chapter 13 we have begun to see Israel the center of all the providence of God in the world in contrast to all the other nations. Deut. 32 shows Israel as the center of God's ways in the world. In antiquity there is no profane history of any importance which is not in connection with the Jewish people. God has a people in the midst of whom He governs and manifests His ways and the consequences of His character. This is true of Israel and the church. All that happens to them is the manifestation of the principles of God's government. God abode visibly in Israel, His throne was there. He abides by the Spirit in the church. He acts always in government in the midst of His people; it is there He would manifest Himself and not abide only in heaven.
From the moment God is in Israel He identified Himself with His people. In consequence of this the nations are treated according as they treated Israel. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” says the King. The moment they, touch Israel, they touch the apple of His eye. In all these chapters we see the relations of Israel with the nations, and the nations judged of God because they trod down His people, though He used them also to punish His people. But the world enters not into God's mind and assails His people, because they are not unfaithful to Him but hateful to them, as they would swallow up all they have. When His people are unfaithful, God sends a testimony to them, as Jeremiah, but they accuse him of conspiring against them, of weakening them, &c., because he tells them that in consequence of their departure from God He will give them over to the Chaldeans.
Here we have Moab wasted and cut off with bitter sorrow, the more humiliating after all their pride. And the very burden which proclaims Moab reduced hopelessly declares that David's throne shall be prepared in mercy with One sitting on it in truth, judging and seeking judgment and hasting righteousness.
Chapter 17.
Next comes the burden of Damascus and the degradation from a city to a ruinous heap. In verses 4-6 we see the judgment of Israel, but gleaning grapes are left there. God chastises His people till they cease to rest on their own strength, instead of relying on God alone. Yet when dwindled down to a remnant of two or three here and four or five there, they shall look to Himself, the only source of strength, the Holy One of Israel. For their idolatry they had been desolated. But in the hour of their desperate grief, when nations seem once more ready to engulf and overwhelm them, rebuke comes, and the rushing multitudes are as chaff before the wind. ( Vers. 12-14.)
When God's people are faithless, they are able to act even after the prudence and wisdom of the natural man. When they do not rest on God, they are feebler than the world; and when they are given over to a chastening, they are immediately broken to pieces.
The prophet Habakkuk demands the judgment of God, because he is broken-hearted at seeing iniquity in the dwelling of righteousness. When God says He will punish and shows the prophet the desolation of His people, Holdest Thou Thy tongue, says the prophet, when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? Jehovah answers, The just shall live by his faith. Our relations with God, because He dwells in the midst of us, bring His judgment on men because of what they do to the people of God.
Chapter 18.
It is needful to remember the position of the land of Israel. The rivers of Cush are the Nile and the Euphrates, which represent the two nations on the frontiers of Israel that had oppressed them, Egypt and Babylon.
The country here summoned, “shadowing with wings” (ver. 1), is beyond those rivers. It was a country unknown at the time when the prophet lived, and was consequently in no connection as yet with Israel; but it will be so in the last days. To shadow with wings is an expression often employed in the word of the Lord for marking protection. It will be a powerful nation undertaking to protect Israel.
The great nations of those days occupy themselves with the Jews. (Ver. 2.) From the time the nations. begin to be the object of God's judgment, they will be crushed. (Zech. 12:1-3.)
“All ye inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the mountains” (ver. 3): God summons attention to that which He is going to do. “See ye when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.”
“For so Jehovah said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling-place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” (Ver. 4.) We see what God will do when the nations, following their own policy, will have restored the Jews to their land. He lets them act, and keeps quiet, but He keeps His eye on His dwelling-place.
“For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.” (Ver. 5.) It is not yet judgment, so all comes to nothing, whatever the promise, as in all human things when God is concerned. (Cf. Isa. 6:10.)
“They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.” (Ver. 6.) The people are brought back to their land to be given over as a prey to the nations, like wild beasts in winter or ravenous birds in summer. Such will be their fate when anew returned to Palestine, for God is not yet putting His hand to it. Jerusalem will again be the central object of political schemes for the world, though the world despises God's people, and never occupies itself with them but to exalt itself. The Jew will be oppressed by the Gentiles once more in their land; but deliverance is at hand.
“In that time shall the present be brought unto Jehovah of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of Jehovah of hosts, the mount Zion.” (Ver. 7.) A present is to be brought of Israel and from Israel to Jehovah. They will bring an offering and themselves be as it were an offering to Jehovah, who will manifest anew His abode in Zion (after all the long sorrows and desolations), but also His hand in judgment of the nations. After this will begin His relationship with Israel for everlasting blessing under Messiah and the new covenant. The mount of Zion is the place God has chosen, in contrast with Sinai, the mountain of the nation's-responsibility and ruin. (See Heb. 12) At Sinai God gave, not His promises, but His law, and Israel stood afar off and fell under its curse. Zion is quite another thing. Israel failed under Moses and Aaron, the Judges, Eli, Samuel and Saul, under priest, prophet, and king. But David is chosen in sovereignty and places the ark of God in Zion, which becomes the display of royal grace on earth, after man in every respect had failed in his relations with God.
The mountain of Zion is for the earth the same thing in principle (save royalty) as heaven is for God's relations with the church. The majesty of God no more requires righteousness in man. It establishes itself in grace on the earth when man broke down in everything. This will be true in all, though we shall not be there but above. Jehovah of hosts, that is, the God of government here below, will place Israel, not the church, in connection with the mount Zion. The Father will have us with the Son in His house on high as His children, instead of governing us as His subjects on the earth. It is always important to distinguish our part from that of the earthly people; if not, we necessarily lower our calling, our privileges, and our responsibility.
God puts Himself in relation with the world as King by means of His people Israel.

Notes on John 18:12-27

The believer will note the bearing of our Lord throughout these closing scenes, His lowliness and dignity, His infinite superiority to all who surrounded Him, friends or foes, His entire submission and withal His power intact. He is a man, the Sent One, but Son of God throughout. It is He who shelters and secures the disciples; it is He who offers Himself freely. The traitor and the hand, the torches and the weapons, had all failed, if He had not been pleased in letting His own go to give Himself up. For this indeed had He entered this world, and His hour was now come. But it was His own doing and according to the will of His Father, whatever man's wickedness and Satan's malicious wiles. Not more surely was it the power of His name which overwhelmed the armed crowd of His would-be captors than that His grace alone accounts for His subsequent subjection to their will.
“The band therefore and the commander [chiliarch], and the officers of the Jews, took Jesus and bound him and led [him away] unto Annas first; for be was father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest of that year. But it was Caiaphas that counseled the Jews that one man should die for the people. Now Simon Peter was following Jesus, and the other disciple. And that disciple was known to the high priest and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest, but Peter was standing at the door outside. The other disciple therefore, that was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the porteress and brought in Peter. The maid therefore, the porteress, saith to Peter, Art thou also of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not. But the bondmen and the officers were standing, having made a coal fire, for it was cold, and were warming themselves; and there was with them Peter standing and warming himself. The high priest then asked Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered, I have openly spoken in the world, I always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews assemble, and in secret I spoke nothing: why asked thou me? Ask those that have heard, what I spoke to them: behold, these know what I said. But as he said these things, one of the officers as he stood by, gave Jesus a blow, saying, Thus answerest thou the high priest? Jesus answered him, If I spoke ill, testify of the ill; but if well, why smitest thou me? Annas [therefore] sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him, Art thou also of his disciples? He denied and said, I am not. One of the bondmen of the high priest, being kinsmen of him whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did I not see thee in the garden with him? Peter therefore denied again, and immediately a cock crew.” (Vers. 12-27.)
Our evangelist notices the fact that the band carried our Lord, not only to Caiaphas the high priest, but before that to Annas his father-in-law, who had preceded him in that office, but was succeeded by Caiaphas before his death. All things were out of course, and in nothing was this more evident than in the closing scenes of the Savior. And therefore does the Gospel recall what was already recorded in chapter 11, where the highest religions office blended with the lowest expediency, and the prophetic Spirit wrought in the wicked high priest, as of old in the unprincipled prophet of Midian. As the rule the Holy Spirit actuated holy men for God's will and glory; but exceptionally He could and did use for that glory those whom Satan was employing to thwart it as much as possible. Nothing can be more striking in Caiaphas' case than the way in which his heartless sentiment is turned by grace into the expression of a great truth wholly outside his ken. (Vers. 12, 13.)
Again we see, Simon Peter following the Lord, but not in the Spirit, nor was the other disciple there to his own honor, still less to the Lord's. For he finds access to the high priest's palace, as known to that functionary, and in no way as a follower of Jesus. And how he must have soon grieved over the kindly influence he exerted to get Peter let in, who had been obliged to stay without! Little did he think that his word to the porteress would give occasion to the terrible and repeated fall of his beloved fellow-servant! But every word of the Lord must be fulfilled. It would seem that the maid who kept the door was not ignorant of John's discipleship, for she says to Peter,” Art thou also of this man's disciples?” But the trying question was put not to John, but to Peter; and Peter, in the garden so bold, now utterly quails before this woman. Such is man, though a saint: what is he to be accounted of? Nor is fleshly energy better really in Christ's eyes than fleshly weakness, which not only lied but denied his Master in denying his relationship to Him as a disciple. And this was warm-hearted, fervent, courageous Peter!
Yes, but it was Peter tried under the shadow of the coming cross. Death is an overwhelming trial to the disciple till he knows what it is to have died with Christ to sin and law, crucified to the world which crucified Him, and able therefore to glory in the cross. It was not so yet with Peter, and he fell; nor can we say more of John and the rest than that they were not so tried. That they would have stood the test better is more than any can accept who believe what God says. (Vers. 14-17.)
The high priest pursues his investigation; Peter renews his sin. And no wonder. For he had slept when he ought to have watched and prayed, and he had ventured into the scene of temptation instead of heeding the warning of the Lord. “But the bondmen and the officers were standing, having made a coal-fire, for it was cold, and were warming themselves; and there was with them Peter, standing and warming himself.” (Ver. 18.) Evil communications corrupt good manners; and the confession of Jesus before friends is very different from confession before bloodthirsty enemies; and Peter must learn by painful experience what he was too unspiritual to realize from the words of Christ. It is blessed to learn our nothingness and worse in His presence who keeps from falling; but every saint, and specially every servant, must learn himself, if not there, in the bitter humiliation of what we are when we forget Him. May we abide in Him, and have His words abiding in us, and so ask what we will and have it done unto us! Peter had not thus failed before men if he had not failed before with his Master. Doubtless it is by the power of God we are kept, but it is through faith.
“The high, priest then asked Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine.” He desired grounds against the Lord. Was this the procedure of-I will not ask the grace which should characterize a priest, but-ordinary painstaking righteousness? It was not to screen Himself that the Lord points to His open and constant testimony. Others unlike Him might cultivate private coteries and secret instructions, not to speak of darker counsels inciting to deeds that shunned all light of day. “Jesus answered, I have openly spoken in the world, I always taught in synagogue, and in the temple, where all the Jews assemble; and in secret I spoke nothing: why askest thou me? Ask those that have heard what I spoke to them: behold, these know what I said.” It was unanswerably true and right. The only reply was a brutal insult from a Jewish underling who would thus, as he could not otherwise, sustain the high priest. But the Lord answered the low as the high with a righteous dignity immeasurably above them all: “If I spoke ill, testify of the ill; but if well, why smitest thou me?”
So fared the Lord with the high priest: how painful the contrast of the disciple warming himself with the slaves? More than one assailed him with the crucial question, “Art thou also of his disciples?” Again the fear of man prevailed; and he who truly believed in Him did not confess but denied and said, I am not. But this was not all. For “one of the bondmen of the high priest, being kinsman of him whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did I not see thee in the garden with him? Peter therefore denied again, and immediately a cock crew.” (Vers. 26, 27.) Oh what fear of man bringing a snare! What blinding power of the enemy thus to involve a saint in direct and daring falsehood, and this to shame Him who was his life and salvation! But of what is not the heart capable when the Lord is not before it, but fear or lust or aught else by which Satan beguiles? God however took care that the dread of man to His dishonor should cover the guilty disciple with self-reproach and contempt and utter humiliation when an eye-witness could brand him before all with his reiterated lying in denial of his Master.
It will be noticed that we have in this Gospel neither the Lord's antecedent praying for Peter and assurance of restoration, nor His turning and looking on Peter after his last denial, when he, remembering the word of the Lord, went out and wept bitterly. These are given explicitly in the only Gospel whose character they suit and sustain. (See Luke 22:31, 32, and 60, 61.) Here all turns, not on the discovery of what man's heart is, and the grace of the Lord's, but on the person of Christ as the one central object, not so much the Second man despised by man, and the energy of His love acting on a disciple spite of utter failure in himself, but the Son of God glorifying the Father in the midst of complete and universal ruin.

Notes on 2 Corinthians 8:1-8

The apostle was now free, so far as the state of the Corinthian saints was concerned, to introduce the great duty of remembering the poor. Even the most honored servants of the Lord were forward in this work, and not least Paul himself. This he would lay on the heart of the Corinthians. As he sought not his own things, he could plead for others; and he would draw out the affections of his children at Corinth toward saints suffering from poverty in Judea, whither he was going.
Yet we may notice how the character of the man comes out. He did not like the task of appealing to others for pecuniary help even though for others. The directness of his language in the first epistle is therefore in the strongest contrast with his circumlocution in the second. The need was deeply on his own heart; and he has no more doubt of the generous feelings of the Corinthians than of their ability, so far as circumstances were concerned, to respond; but the delicacy with which he deals with all is most marked and instructive. Personal influence has no place; faith and love are called out actively; the cheering example of saints where such devotedness could have boon least expected opens the way; and Christ is brought in, carrying it home with irresistible power for those that know Him.
“Now we make known to you, brethren, the grace of God that is given in [or, among] the assemblies of Macedonia; that in much trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality; because according to power [I bear witness] and beyond power [they gave] of their own accord, beseeching of us with much entreaty the grace and the fellowship of the ministering unto the saints; and this not as we hoped, but their own selves they gave first to the Lord and to us by the will of God; so that we exhorted Titus, that, even as he before began, so he would also complete as to you this grace also; but as ye abound in everything, faith and word and knowledge and all diligence and love from you to us, that ye abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but through the diligence of others proving the genuineness of your love also.” (Vers. 1-8.)
How blessedly “the grace of God” changes everything it takes up! And what can it not reach in its comprehensive embrace? Where is the demand too hard for it to entertain? Or the evil too deep for it to fathom? What sin is beyond forgiveness? Whose misery or of what sort can it not tarn into an occasion for the all-overcoming goodness of God? See here how that which is among men but “filthy lucre,” an especial object of the covetousness which is idolatry, becomes the means of exercising faith in love to the glory of God and the exceeding blessing of His children, while it draws out the wisdom of the Holy Ghost through the apostle, who did not deem it beneath the fullest consideration in all its details.
First, the mighty influence of example is brought to bear on the saints in Corinth. (Ver. 1.) Nor is this surprising; for are they not one family with its common interests, yea, one body with its fellowship undivided and immediate? Granted that the wants are in carnal things; granted, that it is no question of pleading rights or claims. But a relationship in the Spirit is no less real and far more momentous than one in the flesh; and, if there be suffering, love feels accordingly. In the next place God took care that the first to respond should be saints not in the wealthy city of Corinth, but in the long desolated and impoverished district of Macedonia, that the work might be of God's grace, and in no way a matter of worldly circumstances. Even in writing to the Corinthians the apostle had reminded them, as all experience shows, that the confessors of Christ are for the most part from the poor and obscure and foolish: and we know that in the Macedonian assemblies at this time the saints were no exception to the generally distressed condition of the country. On the contrary, we are expressly told here of their poverty down into the depths. They gave no gifts of superfluity; it was faith working by love, whilst they were proving themselves a great trial of affliction. The circumstances of Macedonia might have seemed eminently unfavorable; the reality of their liberality was the more evidently from a divine source; for in the face of tribulation their joy abounded, and their deep poverty, instead of appealing for aid to others, abounded unto the riches of their open-hearted generosity. (Ver. 2.) It was unselfish devotedness, loving others better than themselves; and as God gave them the grace that so wrought, so the apostle names it in love to the saints in Corinth, and, indeed we may say, to us all, that our hearts too should go forth in no less love. For love is as energetic and fruitful, as it is holy and free; and God would have not a grain of the good seed lost.
Nor does love calculate what it can spare nor what it can effect. (Ver. 3.) The heart animated by love thinks not of its own trials or deep poverty, but of those it hears to be suffering in any special degree, and acts at once. At least the apostle testifies of the Macedonian saints, that according to means, and beyond means, they gave of their own account. No earthly incentives were here; no pressure of agents, no rivalry of donations, no moving appeals among multitudes, no circulated lists to shame or to stimulate, no personal or party aims of any kind. It is the grace of God given from first to last; and as God treasures it, so His servant testifies of it so much the more because those in whom it wrought thought nothing of it in the love that felt only the need of its objects.
But this is not all: the Macedonian saints, far from being solicited, were themselves the suitors of Paul and his companions, and begged of them with much entreaty the grace and the fellowship of the ministering unto the saints, that is, to be allowed a share in the grace or favor of thus caring for the suffering saints of Judea.
It will be noticed that the Authorized Version, following the common Greek text, contains the words, “that we would receive” (δέξασθαι ἡμᾶς), which again involves the insertion of “take upon us” in verse 4. But as the former is not warranted by the best authorities, so the latter is needless and indeed worse; for both additions enfeeble and falsify the sense, which is, that the Macedonian saints might have the grace and fellowship of the service which was to be done the poor saints, not the mere idea that the apostle would receive their collection and undertake its distribution.
But the apostle goes farther in his fine sketch of Macedonian devotedness; for it was not only spontaneous, but beyond all expectation of himself, accustomed as he was to live in the walk of faith every day. “And this not as we hoped, but their own selves they gave first to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” Is not this the reflection, yea reproduction, as far as it goes, of Christ's love in giving Himself? Doubtless directly and necessarily there is a perfection in Christ's offering which is altogether unique. He gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor; it was all this and more to God and for us, as nothing else could be. But these humble and loving saints, the grace of God in whom is commended to the Corinthians, did not merely go beyond their means, but beyond the apostle's hope, who did not wish to be burdened with the wants of others those who were themselves in the depth of poverty. And no wonder that they thus exceeded, seeing that, as he adds, “their own selves they gave first to the Lord, and to us by the will of God.” Had they not caught a vivid impression of the Savior's love, where God always had the first place, whatever His infinite compassion for man? When love for the saints follows in their case, it is qualified by that which was the constant motive of Christ, “by the will of God.”
This acted on the heart of the apostle up to the point of beseeching Titus to carry out what he had formerly begun among the Corinthians when he delivered the first epistle. (Ver. 6.) Paul's love for them was holily jealous that their love should not slacken and that an early promise should not wither in the bud. And Titus was the meet instrument, as he before began, so also now to complete as to the Corinthians this grace also.
“But, as ye abound in everything, faith and word and knowledge and all diligence and love from you to us, that ye abound in this grace also.” The apostle exhorts the Corinthians too, as he had Titus. They had their part now, and as God had enriched with everything else, were they to fail in this grace? Nay, He looks that they should abound in it also. (Ver. 7.) Yet he is careful that it should not be by injunction but of grace. “I speak not by command, but through the diligence of others proving the genuineness of your love also.” (Ver. 8.) What a blending of tenderness, delicacy, and of faithfulness withal!

The Lord's Dealings Now: Part 1

Heb. 9
My thought now is to enter a little more into detail with the Lord's dealings in the dispensation in which we live. But first I would take up a more general view of God's dealings with man from the beginning; and for this purpose I now read Heb. 9, as verse 26 is the great center truth on which it all hangs: “Now once in the end of the world [that is, morally] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” All that God had done up to that point was the bringing out of sin in the first man. But there followed immediately the putting away of that sin in the second Man. Then, passing over the present interval, he speaks of this second Man appearing again a second time.
Here, then, is the grand turning-point of all God's ways: the death of Christ, and its consequences—His coming again to take possession of all that His first coming had given Him a title to. They were His before, “For by him were all things created,” &c. But in His second coming He takes possession of that which His blood had bought back to Himself again. “For he shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.” (Ver. 27.) “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” The end of man is to die (or rather, we may say, he there begins for eternity, and, it is terrible to think of it, begins in judgment). But God in Christ has introduced another thing; for as the end of man, either Jew or Gentile, is death and judgment, so “unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” The first time Christ came it was about sin, in the sense of bearing it; being occupied with it, He was made it, in Himself the sinless One. But having put sin away, He comes the second time without sin unto salvation. In His second coming there is no question about sin whatever, but the full bringing out of God's purpose of blessing in consequence of the putting away of sin. Man's portion is death and judgment, as contrasted with the salvation Christ brings. But then mark another thing. In the meanwhile priesthood comes in; He is hidden from the world, as He said, “The world seeth me no more,” but He appears in the presence of God for us. The word “appears” is a legal term, as the One who represents His people; so He, as our High Priest, is representing us in the presence of God. He has taken His place, and sat down at God's right hand, having by Himself purged our sins. And we need such an High Priest in our daily walk; but then, as regards His bodily presence, He is gone, and therefore we have to walk as pilgrims and strangers in a seducing world, though not of it, our life being hid with Christ in God.
And then comes out another thing. The veil being rent, He has sent down the Holy Ghost to be in us, and to associate us in heart and life with Him in heaven, thus giving us the proper exclusive heavenly character of a family belonging to them now on the earth. For Christ being in the presence of God for us, our portion is in heaven. We are in the position of Stephen, who being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up into heaven through the rent veil, saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. The heavens were opened to his spiritual gaze, which is now always true to us, and all we are now waiting for is, that Christ may come and take us bodily up there.
The crucifixion of Christ was the utter rejection of the Second Adam by the first Adam. This was man's turning-point; for man had been tried in every possible way, but all in vain. Then God says, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved Son; it may be they will reverence him when they see him.” But when they saw Him, they said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.” All the dealings of God with man, as man, ended here; and therefore it is called “this present evil world.” The rending of the veil, which closed all the previous dealings of God with man, opened the way to heaven; and, while it condemned the sinner, it saved the believer. It morally judged the world, but brought out full salvation to all that believe, associating them with heavenly things; for through the rent veil, that is, Christ's flesh, we have access into the holiest of all.
Then comes the question, how far such saved ones (for I speak now of real Christians) have been faithful in maintaining as a heavenly witness their testimony to the world's condemnation, and of their own association, as a heavenly people on the earth, with their Head in heaven. I hope, by the help of the Lord, to take up this question. But before entering on it, we will go a little through God's dealings with the first Adam from the beginning, up to the introduction of the Second Adam. We will trace all the different changes in God's dealings with the first man, till we come to this new starting-point— “Created anew in Christ Jesus.” God has taken away the first, that He may establish the second. All God's actual dealings with man, till he came to the point of crucifying His Son, show how the patient goodness of God had tried man in every way, until obliged to pronounce man, on experimental evidence, to be utterly bad (of course, God knowing what man was all the while).
First, then, we will trace God's dealings with man, as man; secondly, with the Jews; and, thirdly, with this new man in Christ. For in whatever position man has been placed, it has been only to start aside like a broken bow-to turn from God. This is a solemn truth, and one that Christians ought to know well, for never was there a time when man's thoughts of man were so exalted, when so many efforts were being made, so many theories maintained, as at the present-that man, as man, may be turned to some profit. The great cardinal truth is, that there is no good in man; and it is most important that the soul should thoroughly understand this, as it gives both simplicity and stability; for the simple knowledge that man is thoroughly bad cuts at the root of ten thousand theories, all based upon the notion that good is to be found in man. But all these deep-laid theories will drop off by thousands, like autumn leaves, if it be only believed by the soul that in man good is not to be found. The death of Christ is the great and infallible contradiction of all this. “When we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Thus on the cross was proved to the whole world that God could find no good in man. It is also given doctrinally in the Romans, and historically, in the Old Testament. The next point is, that it is God's work to bring man back; and mark the blessed way in which God works to bring man back. For, after sin entered, there was no more rest for God or man, but in that rest which God hath prepared for us. The only rest the poor sinner can find is in “God's rest.” God works, and then enters into His rest. Man rests in Christ, and then works for the glory of God. For there is no rest now but that into which Christ entered, and we which have believed do enter into that rest. It is in glory.
The sabbath rest was in connection with Jews, a sign of the covenant between them and God, which supposes that, after the work of the week is done, then rest comes; and, doubtless, in connection with creation it is a blessing to all. When Christ was on the earth, the question of the sabbath was constantly raised, and, when He healed a man on the sabbath-day, they charged Him with breaking the sabbath. And how does He meet this charge? By saying, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” A good and holy God could not find rest on a sabbath amidst the wickedness of man; there must be in such a state of things, either judgment, or working in grace. God's Son therefore came down to the earth, not to keep a sabbath in its polluted state, but to work in grace. And through communion in life with the Second Adam (God's rest) believers get all the fullness of the blessing of that rest, before it comes in fact.
But now we will look a little into this working from the beginning. And for this let us go back to the garden of Eden, for there we shall see man first put to the test in a state of innocence. And what do we find? A total and complete failure; for nothing could possibly exceed man's insensibility to God's authority, to His goodness, and to His truth. Man abandoned God to gratify his lust in eating the forbidden fruit. Nor was this all, for Adam sets up Satan as the one to be trusted instead of God. God had surrounded Adam with every blessing, and Satan comes, and says, “Ye shall not surely die.” God is jealous of pout prerogative, for He has not spoken truth when He said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” And on this liar's and murderer's word man treats God as a grudging God, for Satan says God has kept back from you that which is good; thus man believes Satan, and makes God a liar. I am not here speaking of the rejection of grace, but of the entire casting off the authority of God and His truth, and of the open manifestation of sin. Thus there was an end, without possibility of return, of man's innocence-it was gone, and gone forever. There could therefore be no return to innocence, no going back to man's paradisaical happiness; and, that he might not live on in his misery forever, God turns him out of the garden, and sets the cherubim, with a flaming sword, to keep him from the tree of life.
But what does God, in the face of this failure? He sets aside the first Adam, and brings in the Second Adam. In Gen. 3:15, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” And mark here, the Seed of the woman is the second Adam; there was no promise to the first Adam, for he was in no sense the Seed of the woman (though we may trust he was a partaker of the blessing). There was grace, but not in connection with the first Adam. Sin had come in by the woman; and therefore Christ, the putter away of sin, came in by the woman also. All God's ways and purposes tend to the Second Adam, “who shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” The turning-point is the rejection or acceptance of Christ. Whenever the least reality of Christ is apprehended by a soul and used, the Holy Ghost can come in, and give power to the testimony, although in the Midst of many mistakes; but where Christ is not, and the dependence is on the first Adam and his resources, there may be the appearance of fruit for a season, but perishing must be the final result.
I see no signs of idolatry before the flood, but men being the children of the wicked one, who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, corruption and violence filled the earth; and these two principles continue up to the end, as we see corruption in mystical Babylon, and violence in the persecutions carried on by the beast in the latter day.
Even in the garden of Eden we saw the two trees-the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. The first of these trees shows man's responsibility; the second tree is the symbol of God's gift of life. And in these two trees are set forth the two great principles that have given rise to all the controversies that have agitated the mind of man from the beginning, The simple truth is this: if man is put under responsibility-say the law, for instance-he fails; but Christ comes and glorifies God by fulfilling man's responsibilities; and then God can freely give life. Thus, in the work and person of Christ, we have the perfect and eternal solution of every abstract principle. For the very weakest saint knows that Christ bears the whole responsibility, and that He gives life; and he wonders that men should find such difficulty, when to him all is simple. For the soul that has Christ within knows that it is not merely an abstract truth to be reasoned about; for how can the Christian reason about Christ's having borne the curse for him, while be himself is in the possession of life in Christ? The saint owns his responsibility, but, he having failed, Christ has come in to suffer for his sins, and life is given in grace.
But now we will return to the double character of corruption and violence, which became so insupportable, that God was obliged to come in with the flood. Then we get Noah saved out of it, and with Noah God begins the world over again. Man is again put under trial, for God brings in a new thing: government is added. Thus man is strengthened against the violence which had prevailed before the flood, and which, man not being altered, was still to continue. That which is technically called the power of the sword is given into man's hand: “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” Well, failure comes in again, for after a while Noah plants a vineyard, and gets drunk with the fruit thereof; and Ham dishonors his father.
Before the flood there was the prophecy of Enoch (Jude 14), which was a mark of what God was going to do, and after his testimony Enoch goes up to heaven. This is the church's testimony now to man of the coming judgment which will take place when the church is removed. Noah's testimony was quite another thing; for he,” moved with fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his house,” &c. Thus Noah passed through all the judgment, and begins the world again-the type of Israel in the latter day. But Enoch warned others, and then went up to heaven, our type, before the judgment came.