Bible Treasury: Volume 19

Table of Contents

1. Psalm 45
2. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:1
3. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:22-24
4. Scripture Queries and Answers
5. The Gospel and the Church: 29. The Church as the Temple of God
6. Hebrews 10:32-39
7. The Psalms - Book 4: Psalms 95-100
8. Justified by Faith
9. Distinctive Blessing on Obedience
10. Scripture Sketches: 1. — Silhouette Balaam
11. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:4
12. Saul: the Third Sign and the Test
13. Thoughts on 1 Chronicles 21
14. The Psalms Book 2: 42-44
15. In Him a Well of Water
16. Hebrews 7:1-3
17. The Gospel and the Church: 19. The Power of Binding and Loosing
18. Scripture Imagery: 87. Israel's Diet
19. Ritualistic Misuse of Incarnation
20. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:5-7
21. Saul
22. Thoughts on 1 Chronicles 22-29
23. The Psalms Book 2: 45-49
24. Go Call Thy Husband
25. The Lord's Table
26. Hebrews 7:4-10
27. The Gospel and the Church: 20. Christian Discipline: 2
28. Scripture Imagery: 88. Lepers and Leprosy
29. Peace
30. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:8-9
31. Saul's Rejection of the Word of the Lord
32. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 1-5
33. The Psalms Book 2: 50-54
34. Psalm 50
35. Psalm 52
36. Psalm 53
37. Psalm 54
38. Worship of the Father
39. Hebrews 7:11-14
40. The Gospel and the Church: 21. The Way of Church Discipline
41. Scripture Imagery: 89. Provision for the Leper
42. Effectual Power and Imitative Effort
43. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:10-14
44. Jonathan
45. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 6
46. The Psalms Book 2: 55-58
47. Psalm 56
48. Psalm 57
49. Psalm 58
50. Worship in Spirit and Truth
51. The Lord's Testimony to the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch: 1
52. Hebrews 7:15-19
53. Scripture Imagery: 90. Provision for the Leper (continued)
54. Results of the Cross to Faith
55. God's Purpose Inside Seen Events
56. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:15-17
57. Nabal and Abigail
58. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 7
59. The Psalms Book 2: 59-63
60. Psalm 59
61. Psalm 60
62. Psalm 61
63. Psalm 62
64. Psalm 63
65. I That Speak Unto Thee Am He
66. Seeing Christ Glorified
67. The Lord's Testimony to the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch: 2
68. Hebrews 7:20-22
69. Scripture Imagery: 91. The Two Goats
70. Figurative Language of the Bible
71. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:18-20
72. Exodus 6
73. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 8-9
74. The Psalms Book 2: 64-67
75. Psalm 64
76. Psalm 65
77. Psalm 66
78. Psalm 67
79. Thoughts Suggested by John 1:14
80. The Woman Then Left Her Waterpot
81. Salvation, Service, and Rest
82. Hebrews 7:23-25
83. The Lord's Testimony to the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch: 3
84. The Gospel and the Church: 22. Church Discipline
85. Christ's Obedience and Ours
86. Teaching of the Twelve Apostles: Review
87. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:21-23
88. Eliab and David
89. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 10-11
90. The Psalms Book 2: 68-69
91. We Have Heard Him Ourselves
92. Thoughts on John 16:9
93. Forgiveness of Sins
94. Hebrews 7:26-28
95. Ploughing, Sowing, Reaping
96. The Spirit of Heaven and That of the World
97. The Gospel and the Church: 23. Christian Discipline, Closing Remarks: 5
98. The Incomparable Love of God
99. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:24-25
100. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 12-16
101. The Psalms Book 2: 70-72
102. The Saviour of the World
103. Hebrews 8:1-2
104. Brief Thoughts on 1 Timothy 1:15 and 2 Timothy 4:6-8: Part 1
105. God Dwelling in Us and We in God
106. The Gospel and the Church: 24. Order in the Church of God, Being the House
107. Scripture Imagery: 92. The Feast and Holy Convocations
108. The Unreason of Darwinism
109. To an Enquirer About the Law
110. Musical Service: Is It Right?
111. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 17-19
112. The Psalms Book 3: 73-75
113. Hebrews 8:3-6
114. Brief Thoughts on 1 Timothy 1:15 and 2 Timothy 4:6-8: Part 2
115. Christ Crucified
116. The Gospel and the Church: 25. Order in the Church of God, Being the House
117. Scripture Imagery: 93. The First-fruits and Pentecost
118. For or in Remembrance of Me
119. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:2-5
120. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 20-22
121. The Psalms Book 3: 76-78
122. Thoughts on John 16:27
123. Peace With God
124. Hebrews 8:7-9
125. Brief Thoughts on 1 Timothy 1:15 and 2 Timothy 4:6-8: Part 3
126. The Gospel and the Church: 26. The Church as the Temple of God
127. Scripture Imagery: 94. Atonement and Tabernacles. the Feasts of Trumpets
128. Facts and Persons: Not a Myth
129. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:6-7
130. David
131. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 22-24
132. The Psalms Book 3: 79-85
133. This Grace Wherein We Stand
134. Hebrews 8:10-11
135. The Gospel and the Church: 27. The Church
136. Scripture Imagery: 95. Painting the Lily
137. The Known Isaiah: 1
138. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:8-9
139. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 24-25
140. The Psalms Book 3: 86-89
141. Thoughts on John 6:68
142. The Glory of God
143. Hebrews 8:12-13
144. Aspects of the Cross
145. The Gospel and the Church: 28. The Church God as Habitation of God in the Spirit
146. Scripture Imagery: 96. The Lamp and Shewbread
147. The Known Isaiah: 2
148. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:10-13
149. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 25
150. The Daysman
151. The Psalms Book 4: 90-94
152. We Glory in Tribulations Also
153. Hebrews 9:1-5
154. The Known Isaiah: 3
155. Scripture Queries and Answers: On Daniel 8
156. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:14-15
157. The Passover
158. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 26: Part 1
159. Isaiah 6
160. The Love of God
161. Hebrews 9:6-10
162. Scripture Imagery: Balaam's Curse
163. The Gospel and the Church: 30. The Body of Christ
164. The Known Isaiah: 4
165. Scripture Queries and Answers
166. Notice Of
167. Advertisement
168. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:16-19
169. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 26: Part 2
170. The Psalms Book 4
171. The Blindness of the Jews
172. Christ Died for the Ungodly
173. Hebrews 9:11-14
174. Scripture Sketches: Phinehas
175. The Gospel and the Church: 31. The Church
176. The Known Isaiah: 5
177. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:20-21
178. David: His Escape From Saul, Flight to Samuel and Thence to Ahimelech
179. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 26: Part 3
180. The Psalms Book 4: 105-107
181. The Shepherd, the Sheepfold, and the Sheep: The Proverb of the Sheepfold
182. God's Own Love
183. Hebrews 9:15-17
184. Scripture Sketches: Zelophehad's Daughters
185. The Gospel and the Church: 32. The Church
186. The Known Isaiah: 6
187. Recent Explorations in Bible Lands
188. David: From Nob to Gath and Thence to Adullam
189. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 26: Part 4
190. Psalm 63: Continued
191. The Psalms Book 5: 107-111
192. The Shepherd, the Sheepfold, and the Sheep: To Him the Porter Openeth
193. The Measure and the Manner of God's Love
194. Justified by His Blood
195. Hebrews 9:18-22
196. Scripture Sketches: Death of Moses
197. The Gospel and the Church: 33. The Church
198. The Known Isaiah: 7
199. Scripture Queries and Answers: Right Hand of God to Come Down; 1 Cor. 15:47; ROM 5:11, HEB 2:17
200. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 4:1-4
201. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles
202. The Psalms Book 5: 111-118
203. The Shepherd, the Sheepfold, and the Sheep: The Door
204. The Washing of Water by the Word
205. Reconciled to God
206. Hebrews 9:23-28
207. Scripture Sketches: John the Baptist
208. The Known Isaiah: 8
209. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 4:4-8
210. David: From Adullam to Moab and Return to the Land of Israel
211. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 26: Part 5
212. The Psalms Book 5: 119:1-85
213. John 14:9
214. We Shall Be Saved
215. Hebrews 10:1-4
216. Scripture Sketches: Miriam
217. The Gospel and the Church: 34. The Church
218. The Known Isaiah: 9
219. Beginning of Recent Testimony
220. Scripture Query and Answer: Descents of the Spirit
221. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 4:9-12
222. David: Treachery in Israel, Regard for Saul
223. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 27-28
224. The Psalms Book 5: 119:86-176
225. The Coming and the Day of the Lord
226. We Also Joy in God
227. Hebrews 10:5-7
228. Scripture Sketches: Matthew the Publican
229. The Known Isaiah: 10
230. Professor Drummond's Ascent of Man
231. To an Exercised Soul
232. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 4:13-15
233. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 29-30
234. The Psalms Book 5: 120-134
235. Our Gospel
236. Be Careful for Nothing
237. Hebrews 10:8-14
238. God Created
239. Scripture Sketches: Joshua
240. The Gospel and the Church: 35. The Lord's Supper
241. The Known Isaiah: 11
242. Drummond on Evolution
243. Scripture Queries and Answers: Difference Between "Carnally" and "of the Flesh"; Fleshy
244. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 4:16-17
245. David: Life in Ziklag and Its Experiences
246. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 31-33
247. The Psalms Book 5: 135-139
248. The Shepherd, the Sheepfold, and the Sheep: Therefore Doth My Father Love Me
249. Hebrews 10:15-25
250. Righteousness and Love
251. God Said
252. Scripture Sketches: the Herods
253. The Gospel and the Church: 36. The Lord's Table
254. The Known Isaiah: 12
255. Revelation 2-3
256. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 4:18-22
257. David: From the Ruins of Ziklag to the Throne of Hebron
258. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 34-35
259. The Psalms Book 5: 140-145
260. The Shepherd, the Sheepfold, and the Sheep: The Sheep
261. The Gift of Eternal Life
262. The Security of the Sheep
263. Hebrews 10:26-31
264. Adam
265. Christ's Life and Death
266. Scripture Sketches: Achan
267. The Known Isaiah: 13
268. Recent Works on the Revelation and Prophecy
269. Ruin and Glory
270. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 4:23-26
271. Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 36
272. The Psalms Book 5: 146-150
273. Walk in the Spirit
274. The Two Trees
275. Scripture Sketches: Simon Peter's Brother
276. The Gospel and the Church: 37. The Lord's Table
277. Divine Facts and Human Theories
278. Correspondence on Mark 13:32
279. Scripture Query and Answer: "To Bring Us Unto Christ"

Psalm 45

The theme of Psalm 45 is the King; yet not viewed as in Psalm 21, when He has experienced a great salvation, but shown as coming forth with His sword girded upon His though for the establishment of His kingdom. This psalm is the divine answer to the cry of the distressed remnant in the preceding: they own Him as “King” (Psalm 44:4), imploring Him to arise and “command deliverances for Jacob” (verses 23-26), and to show favour as of old. The experience of the remnant meanwhile is (in language quoted by the apostle Paul in Romans 8:36), “For Thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter” (Psalm 44:22).
The Spirit of God is at His accustomed work in the Psalm. He is our ready writer when it is a question of the glories of Christ. The departing Lord said of Him, “He shall glorify Me.” And herein is a test for our souls: —anything that tends to the dishonor of the One at God’s right hand is not of the Spirit; and the glory of Christ is His great theme and sacred charge.
But though the Spirit is inspiring here (as in all other scripture), the Psalmist’s own affections are engaged: he tells us that his heart is overflowing with a good matter, and to him it is a source of delight that the Spirit should use his tongue as His pen. And so full is he of his theme that in ver. 2, &c., he seems to see the Blessed One before him and bursts out rapturously, “Thou art fairer than he children of men, grace is poured into Thy lips: Therefore God hath blessed Thee forever.” (See Isa. 33:17.) The grace of His lips came out throughout His wondrous path here: He was full of grace and truth; and even enemies had to confess, “Never man spake like this man “; while others marveled at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth.
It is a question here of the Kingdom and of putting down foes; and that is by power and by judgment. Therefore is He seen coming forth, as in Rev. 19, the girded One; not indeed with the towel as now to serve His saints, but with His sword upon His thigh that His right hand may teach Him terrible things. Strange that any should suppose that His kingdom will be introduced by the quiet means of His gospel: the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms (and surely the N.T. also) render their united testimony of judgment, and judgment only, as His path to His throne. Israel were not willing in the days of His flesh that He should reign over them; man was not willing; nor will they be willing until His power is established in the earth as in the heavens. He will not wait for a message from men such as the trees in Jotham's parable said to the bramble, “Come thou and reign over us” (Judg. 9): man's heart is such, He would wait in vain for that.
David sets Him forth as the warrior King. David's day was one of warfare and subjugation of enemies; as Solomon's day, on the other hand, was one of peace and joy for Israel, the throne being firmly established. The Davidic type is seen in our Psalm in verses 3-5; the Solomonic in ver. 6., &c. (the latter phase being more fully declared in Psa. 72) Having established His kingdom by judgment, He takes His seat upon this throne; not then His Father's throne as now, but His own throne as King in Zion. The Spirit uses this in Heb. 1 to demonstrate His divine glory, showing there that the One through whom God has now spoken is “Son,” “God,” “Jehovah.” I suppose “thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity” would refer particularly to the days of His flesh. He was ever this in the midst of a godless and God-hating world. He obeyed then; in Psa. 45 He rules.
He has “companions” in His kingdom; but He exceeds them all. Grace may raise high its objects, whether heavenly or earthly: but in all things He must have the pre-eminence. We do well to remind our hearts of this. His grace may bring us into a wondrous place of relationship and association with Himself, but reverence and godly fear become us in the presence of it. Some such thought seems implied in verse 11, “He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him.” Whatever grace may do, still He is the Lord. (Compare John 10:23, 24, and note the Lord's important transition from “Father” to “God”).
The Queen is here seen by his side, sharing His earthly glories; and such will Jerusalem be in the day that is approaching. “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” For that day He will “make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62:5-7.) We must not confound the Queen here with the Bride, the Lamb's wife, in Rev. 19. There are heavenly things, and there are earthly: the vision of John sets us in the heavens; our Psalm directs us to Judea.
The Queen stands at His right hand “in gold of Ophir.” Gold is typically expressive of divine righteousness, and Israel shall yet know the blessing of this. The apostle's sorrow of heart concerning God's people after the flesh was that they were going about to establish their own righteousness, and not submitting themselves to the righteousness of God. But in the coming day of glory all will be changed; the filthy rags of human righteousness shall be abandoned; and she shall say, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed use with the garments of salvation. He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isa. 61:10). Zech. 3 gives us a picture of this: Joshua the high priest is seen standing before the angel of Jehovah clothed in filthy garments, picture of Israel's condition before God. The filthy garments are removed, a change of raiment is given; and a fair miter is put upon his head. Now Joshua and his fellows are distinctly said to be men of sign (Zech. 3:8.); and here we have a picture of how (after the glory) Israel shall be given to know the blessing of full justification—standing before God, not in human righteousness, but in that which is of God by faith. In Jer. 23:6 the King is called “the Lord our righteousness” (Jehovah Tsidkenu); and in Jer. 33:16, Jerusalem is called by the same name. Does not the wife bear the husband's name?
On that day she shall forget her own people and her father's house; all that in which flesh might glory in no more. One in Phil. 3 had much in which he might glory after the flesh. It was no mean thing to be a circumcised man of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; but he had learned to count all things but Christ “loss” and “dung.” Verse 16 seems to show the same thing—the fathers and all fleshly advantages gloried in no more; but grace and its work for them the alone subject of boast. “Mercy” will be their glad theme in that day (Rom. 11:32). Then shall down-trodden Jerusalem be an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations, and sought after by all the ends of the earth. “The daughter of Tire shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favor? “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.” “Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces or wealth of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.” “They shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious name forever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen and Amen.” (Isa. 60:11, 14. Psa. 72:18, 19). W. W. F.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:1

We have seen the first Adam in all that variety of relationships which chap. ii. reveals from ver. 4 to the end. No history follows unless so we designate the fact next recorded, the sad and solemn fact of THE FALL, with the righteous but withal gracious intervention of Jehovah Elohim, above all in the woman's Seed. How momentous the issues! Unbelief resists, derides, or at best neglects the word of God to sure and irreparable judgment; faith receives it to such a blessing even now, with heavenly glory soon and forever, as primeval innocence in no way contemplated. For if there be divine counsels revealed when Christ dead and risen was hid in God, all the ways of God are in view of the fall, whether in grace or in judgment, promise or law, government or salvation.
This accordingly the truth continually puts forward and presses, as philosophy no less invariably ignores it. So does man's religion really, though in form owning sin and striving to remedy it after its own fashion. God took care that when man fell, he acquired not only a conscience in the sense of an inward discernment of good and evil, but a bad conscience. He was consciously guilty. When innocent, such an intrinsic sense did not exist in man, and would have been incompatible. But a bad conscience never brings back to God; rather does it, without His grace and truth, lead farther and farther from Him. Sin is not canceled so. Only a Mediator can avail for man with God; and that Mediator God no less than man; and even He by death as a sacrifice for sin. Philosophy ignores the truth, because it seeks the glory of the first man, of the race; human religion, even while professing to acknowledge the Second Man, seeks the same false glory, by priesthood and ordinances. Both undermine the grace of God, are wholly ignorant of His righteousness, and deny present everlasting salvation for the believer; so little or null is the efficacy of Christ's cross to God's glory in their eyes, whether humanly religious or openly profane.
God never made man, the earth, and the lower creation as they are. “He saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” It is now a ruin; mortality works in animated nature, as sin pervades mankind, and the whole creation groans together and travails in pain together until now. Bible or no Bible, the world is in a state of departure from God; Bible or no Bible, man is a sinner and unable to stand before the God Who judges sin and sinners. But the Bible alone in its own inimitably simple, holy, and dignified way tells the truth how it came in. The myths of men in their little measure testify here, there, and everywhere, to that truth which scripture alone sets out so profoundly that the deepest plummet has never sounded it, so helpfully that the least draft has ever refreshed a truly thirsting soul. Here is not a word to puff a Jew more than a Gentile. Here man reads God's just sentence on his own inexcusable sin. “Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived; but the woman, being beguiled, is involved in transgression.” What a key to the moral history of man! What a ground for divine order in God's church! Yet all in a fact which the O.T. records, and which the N. T. applies, as only God could reveal in either.
Undoubtedly the man was first in being, the woman first in sin; yet another being mysteriously intrudes, not yet alluded to, but availing himself of a creature best adapted to his fell purpose.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any animal of the field which Jehovah Elohim had made. And it said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (ver. 1).
Truly we may say, An enemy, the enemy hath done this. There is no allegory whatever, any more than in a dumb ass which, speaking with man's voice, forbad the folly of the prophet. Here it was the great adversary of God and man, who employed the crafty serpent as the vehicle of his temptation. The great apostle of the Gentiles in 2 Cor. 11:3 has ruled in the Spirit that Gen. 3 presents the actual, no fable or myth, but a positive fact: just as we have seen the fallacy of confounding the six successive days with the vast periods of geology that preceded them. A “scientific” account of creation Gen. 1 is in no way; but it does supply with plain certainty the divine revelation of that creation of which all true science professes its total ignorance. The records written in the rocks are wholly out of view in the scriptural account, which speaks solely of the absolute beginning in general, and in detail only of the time immediately connected with man's earth. The scene of geological research lies between, and is passed by in scripture as quite outside its moral scope, so that those labor in vain who look for a scientific tally there.
But true to God's design scripture here brings before us how Satan directed his first assault on man, a fact of the gravest import and nearest interest to all; and this precisely as it happened. On the other hand John 8:44 is a clear reference to the essential truth, stripped of the actual phenomena; and therefore only is the devil named as a liar and murderer. But the same inspired writer in the last book of the N. T. alludes to the first of the O. T., and here employs symbolically the literal instrument of the earliest temptation. See Rev. 12:3, 4, 7, 9 (where the allusion is put beyond doubt), 13, 15, 16, 17; 13:2; 20:2, to say nothing of vers. 7, 10. With this we may compare Isa. 27:1. But to treat the story of the Fall as myth or allegory, while allowing the essential reality of the truth conveyed, to maintain that the Mosaic narrative is not to be understood as literal history any more than the Apocalyptic visions! is, one may fear, to prove oneself incapable of appreciating either the one or the other.
The universal prevalence of serpent worship is the most powerful witness outside to the fact scripture reveals. For otherwise to worship it is far from being natural like that of the sun. But the form of this strange idolatry also, at many times and in unlikely places, points to that which made the deepest impression on the human mind and was handed down, less or more corrupted, from the beginning. It prevailed from China and Japan to Java; through Africa from civilized Egypt to savage Whidah in Guinea; from Scandinavia to Asia Minor, Phenicia, Canaan, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Persia, and India. North America knew it no less than Mexico and Peru; Russia, Prussia, Poland, France, Macedonia, Greece and its isles, perhaps no country more distinctly than England. Nor are any remains more striking in their way than those of Abury in Wiltshire, or of Stanton Drew in Somersetshire, where the Druids according to their vast conceptions did not merely raise the emblem for the entrance or at the altar, but formed the great temples in the figure of the serpent. In Ireland and Scotland the same worship was found extensively; and in the N.W. of France the ruins of Carnac attest a dracontium of not less than eight miles in length, with many of lesser extent.
Perhaps the engraving given in Humboldt's “Researches” (i. 195) of a hieroglyphic painting of the Aztecs may prove the vividness of the tradition more than most other witnesses. For a naked woman, mother of men, converses with a serpent, not fallen but erect. Why too before a tree? In the Mex. Antiq. iii. of Aglio are representations, in one of a human figure smiting a great serpent on the head with a sword, in another of a divine figure destroying it. In plate 74 of the Borgian series in the same work is a god in human form thrusting the sword into the dragon's head, and his own foot bitten off by the dragon at the heel. Can this be mistaken? Faber too, in his Pagan Idol. i. 274, cites Marsden as testifying that the New Zealanders had “a tradition that the serpent once spoke with a human voice.” From what basis do these scattered fragments come?
Classic fables, as being more familiar as well as divergent through poetic handling, need not be added. But in that universal worship of the serpent we see the superstition into which fallen man sunk, growing out of the fact which Moses relates from God. The time or rather place was not yet come to lift the veil and disclose the evil spiritual agent that made the serpent his vehicle. The book of Job gave the suited opportunity to mark him as the great “adversary.” 1 Chron. 21:1, Psa. 119:6, Zech. 3 add a little more. All is in harmony, and utterly different from the Persian myth of Ahriman in conflict with Ormuzd. Scripture knows no dualism, but a rebel against the true God, a slanderer and tempter, of which after all Gen. 3 abides the witness, only less than Matt. 4 and Luke 4, with a vast detail over the entire N. T.
How then did he approach Adam? Through. Eve, the weaker vessel. It was but a question, as if surprised, at most an insinuation. “Is it so that Elohim hath said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden”? If He made and pronounced all very good, why keep back any? Is this love? Did Elohim really say this? Are you not mistaken? Distrust of God and His goodness was his first effort. And it will be noticed that he carefully withholds the title of divine relationship, Jehovah Elohim, vers. 1, 5, and ensnares Eve into fatal forgetfulness of it, ver. 3, in a section which everywhere else carefully maintains it: phraseology consistent with moral purpose, not at all so with an Elohist scribe, a Jehovist, a junior Elohist, a redactor, or any of the other fancied actors in the rationalistic farce. Scripture tells things simply as they were with the calm and simplicity of divine truth.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:22-24

We have still to consider the word and act with which the chapter concludes. They are of importance in clearing yet more the true standing of man before the fall, and the anomalous condition of the race henceforth, wholly confused and lost in reasoning as men are apt to do from present experience. The a priori path is misleading to all who betake themselves to it, whether philosophers or theologians. The believer who yields to the snare is inexcusable; for grace has given an unerring account, concise and clear, of all that divine wisdom deemed well to tell us of the entrance of sin into the world through one man, type of Him that was to come, the Second man and last Adam. Here we have neither legend nor myth, but facts related in the language of unaffected simplicity and transparent truth fullness. What is revealed is as worthy of God, as it is remote from the instinctive popular representation of man, ever averse to self-judgment, ever prone to lower or shirk righteousness, ever blind to grace and hating it. Myths and legends are natural and should be left to heathen destitute of the truth, groping in the dark after God if haply they might find Him. But it is sad to think of Christians slipping after the philosophizing Jews of Alexandria, who turned their back on the Light already shining, lost the plain yet profound historic truth of scripture, and set up a Philonic Logos of their own in consonance with human thought, will, and unbelief.
“And Jehovah Elohim said, Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever,...Therefore (and) Jehovah Elohim sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken. So (and) he drove out the man; and he placed eastward of Eden's garden the Cherubim and the blade (flame) of the flashing sword to keep the way of the tree of life” (vers. 22-24).
Philosophy or fear of philosophers has misled very many to conceive that the utterance here received was a taunt on man's groundless pretension and an exposure of Satan's cheat. But scripture is plain, and the truth important. Opposition assumes to it what is false, that unfallen man already knew good and evil. He was innocent and upright, but is never said then to be righteous or holy. Nor could he be so called; for both suppose knowledge of good and evil, which he as yet had not and only got through transgression. In truth such a knowledge would have been useless in, not to say, incompatible with, an unfallen nature and world, where he had only good to enjoy in thankfulness to God, avoiding but one tree because God forbade it. There was not, as afterward, a moral government as to good and evil, which man could discern intrinsically apart from an outward law. And that special law under which man innocent was placed consisted solely in not eating of a tree which was prohibited, not because the fruit was in itself evil, but simply as a test of subjection to God. It was a question of death by disobedience. Disobedient, he lost paradise as well as life; but he acquired the knowledge of good and evil with that of his own guilt. Their eyes were opened, as we saw; they knew that they were naked, and were ashamed. “The man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil.” Sense of responsibility he had; but now, when fallen, he could distinguish things as good and evil in themselves. He had along with guilt the moral sense to pronounce this wrong and that right; he had conscience, sad but most useful monitor ever present when man was fallen from God.
Freedom of choice in paradise (or out of it) is an impious absurdity. Was Adam free to choose disobedience? That he did choose it was the fall and ruin. His responsibility was obedience. When he transgressed, God took care that in his sinful estate he should now possess an intrinsic sense of good and evil; and in due time, but not till long after “the promises,” absolute and unconditional to a known object, “the law” came in by-the-bye (Rom. 5:20) to raise the question of righteousness which can never be settled save to faith in Christ and His redemption. In the gospel God reveals His righteousness in virtue of Christ's work, and so is just while justifying the believer in Jesus.
A holy being knows good and evil of course, as God does perfectly; but this consists with the revealed fact that man while innocent had it not, and gained it only by disobedience and to his misery. Grace meets the guilty; but it is in the Second man, not by mending the first. Life is in the Son; and he that believes on Him lives of the same life, the ground of a holy walk, even as our responsibility as sinners is met by His atoning death. Righteousness and holiness therefore have no terror for the believer; but this is because of Christ dead, and risen, and at God's right hand. And such faith produces practical and kindred fruit acceptable to God. For not Adam, but the new man was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
But there is further the divine arrest of presumptuous sin. It would have been a chaos morally, and everlasting ruin if the tree of life had been eaten by our first parents in their sin. There was even mercy to them in foreclosing such a peril.
The natural tree of life for innocent man is refused to him fallen. How awful to be everlastingly fixed in sin! Christ thenceforward becomes the object of faith; and as He died for our sins, that they might be blotted out, so because He lives, we also were to live, as He said. Truly all enduring good now is of grace and in Him. There is no restoration to innocence, but to a far better standing. “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
The expulsion of the man therefore followed. He was now an outcast from paradise, to till the ground whence he was taken. So Jehovah Elohim drove out the man, and set the Cherubim, the symbols of judicial power, so familiar to every Jew, as represented not only on the vail but overshadowing the mercy seat, to bar the way. Here the force was the less to be mistaken, because there was also the flame of the revolving sword to menace the intruder. There is no way back to the lost paradise. Christ is the way, and “this is He that came by water and blood “; He is the way for the believer to the Father and the paradise that shall never pass away. There accordingly is no tree of knowing good and evil, no tree of responsibility: this was settled for everlasting righteousness in the cross of Christ, and hence in favor of all that believe to God's glory. There is but one tree, the tree of life, whose fruits full and fresh are for the heavenly ones, as the leaves are for healing the nations; for ha the kingdom will be not only heavenly things, but earthly, as our Lord pointed out to Nicodemus. According to the symbolic description of the new Jerusalem, there are twelve gates, shut not at all by day (for there is no night there), and at the gates twelve angels; and the names inscribed, which are those of the twelve tribes of Israel, witness of the mercy that endures forever. But there is no flame of revolving sword to threaten, though there shall in no wise enter into it aught common or one making abomination and a lie, only those that are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Scripture Queries and Answers

1. Q.—Did the high priest, after coming out of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement, bless the people?
D. T.
A.—People confound that day's rites with the eighth day of priestly consecration, Lev. 9 There we find the figure of Aaron as Christ, the Priest after the sacrifices, blessing the people; then under he combined types of Moses and Aaron i.e. King and Priest, going in and coming out to bless them, the glory of Jehovah only appearing on this. But the holy force of Atonement Day is kept intact as the judgment and remission of sins. Only in Aaron and his sons we have the Christian place, indeed better than even Aaron's, as made free of the holiest at all times while Christ is within on high.
2. Q.—Does 2 Cor. 5:21 teach that the saints become in glory the righteousness of God in Christ?
X. Y. Z.
A.—There is no room whatever for such a force in the language of the Spirit; imported into the words, it is a meaning which distracts from what the apostle lays down from God, and therefore it tends to destroy His aim. The full scope of what is conveyed is its true meaning, not an imaginary sense which the words taught of the Spirit will not bear. The object of the enemy is plain: now as ever anything new or old to enfeeble the blessed fruit of Christ's work. Nobody doubts that righteousness was proved in setting the rejected Christ in glory (John 16) But here we are taught that, as God made Christ sin for us, so we become His righteousness in Christ. It is simply and solely our present standing in Christ. Nor does anybody question the future glorification of the saints; but this hope is wholly outside the passage, which refers exclusively, as its full scope, to what we Christians become (or were made) now in Christ—even God's righteousness. This is what many saints fail to believe. And the objection to apply in an absolute way to the believer, in his mixed condition down here statements in scripture which refer to what he is in Christ, shows that it is pure unbelief, which is so blindly put forward as “advanced truth,” to ensnare, unsettle, and overthrow the unwary. For the truth, which is to deliver from the weakness, and doubts, and all other evil to which the mixed condition is naturally subject, must be received and applied absolutely if taught of God: the faith is made void, and what is worse and goes along with it, the work of Christ and the grace of God alike. If I am not to believe in the most absolute way what the Holy Ghost declares I, a Christian, am already made in Christ, not only is all claim of advanced truth vain, but the gospel in any full sense is systematically denied. And the more evidently is it of Satan, because those who adopt such destructive reveries flatter themselves that they are going on to higher things, instead of virtually, though unwittingly, abandoning that distinctive truth, even as to the foundations of the faith, which used to characterize those waiting for God's Son from heaven. A sober and duly instructed Christian cannot doubt, unless under the strong bias of personal or party feeling, that the teaching is retrograde, false, and incompatible with the gospel.

The Gospel and the Church: 29. The Church as the Temple of God

During the second decade of this century God raised in England some eminently gifted witnesses of the truth. One of them, endowed with gifts of an exceptional measure, was used of the Lord to bring to light again the truth of the gospel in such fullness, as had never been known since the days of the apostles. But not only was the gospel in its original purity and completeness recovered by that highly honored witness of the truth, but the pure light of the scriptural doctrine of the church (which in the course of centuries of decline had almost disappeared beneath the heaps of rubbish of human religious ordinances and dogmas) was put again on the stand in England in a clearness and scriptural simplicity, unknown in the history of the church since the days of Pentecost.
What characterized that movement was especially the practical acknowledgment of the presence, authority, and guidance of the Holy Ghost in the assemblies of believers. But that acknowledgment was closely united with the practical recognition of the written word of God and its authority, unlike many religious revivals, so called, where Satan endeavored to conceal the assumptions of the religious flesh set in motion by him, and to set aside, under the pretense of guidance by the Holy Spirit, the authority of the word of God indited by the same Spirit. The believers, referred to above, acted upon the thoroughly sound principle:—"Neither the Spirit without the word, nor the word without the Spirit.”
The Spirit of God, who glorifies Christ, receives of His and shows it to us, dwelling in His own recognized authority in the assemblies of those Christians; His powerful and blessed activity was unimpeded in their midst. It almost seemed as if the glorious days of Pentecost were about to reappear amongst them, to judge from the freshness, simplicity, devotedness, love and unity that characterized them.
“The effect of the truth on the hearts and conscience,” said A. Miller in his excellent “Short Papers on Church History,” “soon was manifest. There was great freshness, simplicity, devotedness, and separation from the world. All was new. They flocked together and gave themselves to the study of the word of God, and soon experienced the sweetness of Christian communion. They found the Bible,—as they said,—to be a new hook. It was no doubt, in those days of virgin freshness a most distinct and blessed work of God's Spirit. the influence of which was felt not only throughout this country, but on the continent and in distant lands.”
“It was no uncommon thing at this time to find valuable jewelry in the collection boxes, which was soon turned into money, and given to the deacons for the poor.”
The eminent servant of Christ referred to already, who was God's instrument in the marvelous movement, wrote in those days at the request of a French religious journalist: “We were only four men, who came together for the breaking of bread and prayer, on the authority of the word, Where two or three are gathered unto my Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20); and not, I hope, in a spirit of pride or presumption, but deeply humbled at the state of things around us; and praying for all Christians, members of the body of Christ, wherever they were ecclesiastically. We thought of nothing else but satisfying the need of the soul according to the word of God; nor did we think of it going any farther. We proved the promised presence of the Lord; and others, feeling the same need, followed in the same path, and the work spread in a way we never thought of in the least.”
“It is very apparent,” says Mr. A. Miller, “from this extract, that they had no thought of constructing a fresh system, or of reconstituting the church of God, as God had constituted it at first,—of restoring it to its Pentecostal glory. They seem to have had no statute, no system, no organization. They held the faith of all orthodox Christians with regard to foundation truths; but having received light from God's word as to what the calling, position and hopes of the church are, they could no longer remain in what man and the world called “the church.” These thoughts and searchings of heart issued in the secession of many individuals from the various bodies of professing Christians, and in their coming together for worship and communion on the ground of the “one body,” as formed and directed by the “One Spirit.”
The secret of this Christian devotedness was their devotion to the Person of Christ in the power of an ungrieved Spirit practically acknowledged as dwelling among them. “They made,” as Marsden says in his “Dictionary of Christian Churches,” “no show of an especial creed. They simply proposed the practice of Christian truth, as taught by our Lord and His apostles in the New Testament. They taught that it is the presence of the Holy Spirit which forms the church. It is the acknowledgment of the Holy Spirit as the really present, sole, and all-sufficient guide of the church during the Lord's absence.” This was a chief feature in the testimony of these Christians.
But the enemy of the truth did not rest. He who in Israel tried everything to counteract the divine testimony of the prophets of Jehovah by means of false prophets, and later on in the earliest days of the church, even during the lifetime of the apostles by false teachers, introduced such also amongst the happy Christians referred to above. Those tools of the enemy sought to paralyze, obscure, and, if possible, put aside those divine truths brought to light again by the above mentioned faithful servant of Christ and his fellow-laborers. Their efforts were, in an especial though indirect way, brought into play against the scriptural truth of the presence, guidance and authority of the Holy Spirit in the church of God, which these “evil workers” sought practically to set aside, supplanting it by the human demands of teachers of their own, and claiming for them absolute authority. Soon evil doctrines, derogatory to the honor of Christ, made their appearance; whence arose the necessity of godly separation from all those who tolerated and adhered to these false teachers and their doctrines according to the solemn words of the inspired apostle of the church: “There must be divisions among you, in order that those who are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19). The faithful servant of Christ, alluded to above, was again honored at that time by his heavenly Master with being the champion of the truth and chief promoter of this godly separation, however humbling for all.
“Then had the churches rest” —for many years. But the adversary, who never sleeps, did not rest. He resorted to one of his old stratagems, by introducing the demon of religious party spirit, as he did of yore in that so richly endowed but elated church at Corinth, with no less contending parties and consequent moral and doctrinal evils. A second division was the fruit of those machinations of the evil one. “They have sown the wind and they have reaped the whirlwind;” whilst a small remnant, kept by the mercy of our God from being carried away by those party currents and undercurrents, still remains in undisturbed peace on the terra firma of God's own word. May grace deepen the sense of our common shame and humiliation and of the sad havoc amongst that once so happy portion of the flock of God, and of the irretrievable damage to the testimony of divine truth! May the Lord in His mercy grant “repentance not to be repented of,” ere that solemn day appears!
J. C. B

Hebrews 10:32-39

There evidently had been ground for the extreme warning given us in chapter 6 also; and of course the danger of apostacy is always real among those who name the Lord’s name. Only those who become partakers of divine nature by grace surmount the difficulties and overcome the world through faith. Yet here as before the actually bright side is not forgotten, but enlarged in for the comfort of those who held fast.
“But call to remembrance the former days in which, when enlightened, ye endured much conflict of sufferings, partly being made a spectacle by both reproaches and afflictions, and partly also having become partakers with those thus conversant. For ye both sympathized with those in bonds, and accepted with joy the plundering of your goods, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better substance and abiding. Cast not away therefore your confidence, since it (the which) hath great recompense. For of endurance ye have need, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. For yet a very little while he that cometh will be come and will not delay. But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him. But we have no shrinking back unto perdition, but faith unto soul winning” (verses 32-39).
Relaxation is ever a danger for soldiers when on service, as Christians always are here below; and those who had been Jews were exposed to it as much at least as Gentile brethren, which we may see for those last in 1 Cor. 4 and 15. The Hebrew believers had begun well; they are here urged to continue enduring the fierce conflict of the enemy. All the old English versions save that of Rheims (1552) narrow their sympathy according to the Text. Rec. to the bonds of him who now wrote; but the better reading seems to be “the prisoners” i.e. of the Lord in general. To some of feeble faith this is no small trial; to others the plunder of their property. These saints had shone in both respects. “In heaven” appears to be a copyist's addition, as is “in” (ἐν) just before. Still the great guard is against casting away their confidence or boldness of soul, the root within of outward suffering as of service. Patient endurance is needed as ever, of which the love of Christ is the spring, glory with Him the cheer along the road, where the will of God is for us to do, as it was done by Him perfectly. The recompense assured is inseparable from His advent; which here as elsewhere is kept immediately before the Christian.
The application of Habakkuk's words is modified in accordance with our hope by the same divine Spirit Who inspired the prophet. “For the vision is for a time, and it shall shoot forth at the end, and not in vain: though he should tarry, wait for him; for he will surely be come and will not delay.” So runs Hab. 2:3 in the Sept. Christ's first coming and work give occasion for the beautiful and true modification in our paraphrase, while the prophecy abides in all its undiminished force for those who received Him, and others like them up to the end. For the Christian the known person of Christ shines; He is all. Death is in no sense our hope, but the coming of the Bridegroom, not the mere fulfillment of the vision. If we depart to be with Him meanwhile, it is far better than remaining here absent from the Lord. Present, or absent, we are still waiting, as He is, Who will surely be come and not tarry. Times and seasons have do with “the day of the Lord,” when execution of divine judgment comes on the world, not on the dead yet, but the quick. “The coming or presence of the Lord,” as the hope of the heavenly saints, is altogether independent of the revelation of earthly events, as it is before their accomplishment; and therefore is that hope precisely the same for us now as for those in apostolic times.
Christendom fell away, though never so much as in the last century and half, into the dream of the church triumphant, not suffering, and of a worldwide victory for the gospel during the Lord's absence. All distinctive truth and heavenly hope are surrendered by an error as stupendous for principle as for practice. For it levels the N. T. to the footing of the O.T., and obscures, where it does not destroy, the characteristic force of both. The result for thoughtful minds, we say not for believers, is an enormous impulse given, both to superstition, which in its blindness seeks to amalgamate Judaism and Christianity, and to rationalism, which has no faith in the word of God, and no divinely given perception of either, as Christ is little to both.
But the language of the prophet in the verse (4) that follows is also turned to suited and serious use: “It he should draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him; but the just one shall live by faith in (of) me.” It is plain that in this epistle the order is adapted to the object in hand, which is not to enforce justification by faith as in Rom. 1:17, nor to set aside the interpolation of the law in opposition to grace as in Gal. 3:11, but to insist on faith as the power of life, and this too practically, as in all else: of which the chapter that follows is the weighty and interesting illustration.
If the true reading here is, as it appears to be on adequate authority, “my just (or righteous) one,” it is excellent sense, as testifying God's appreciation of the one who walked in faith and righteousness—of the power of his life. In contrast is “his soul which is lifted up,” instead of dependent on God and His word. Like Cain, there was no uprightness in him, but evil works and hatred, the end of which is drawing back to perdition: nothing more offensive to God. The notion for which Delitzsch very improperly contended, that “thy righteous one” is the necessary subject of the sorrowful supposition that here follows, is quite unfounded, as ought to have been plain from verse 39 which encourages every believer. Never does the Holy Spirit lead such an one to a doubt; but many a professor does draw back to his ruin. W. K.

The Psalms - Book 4: Psalms 95-100

These six Psalms may be viewed as completing the group which began with 93; yet of themselves they make an evident and well-ordered progress. The first of the six (95) summons the people of God, in the Spirit of prophecy which animated the godly, to rejoice in Jehovah no longer to be hidden but revealed in Christ Who brings in salvation, glory, and rest; but no blessing is without hearing His voice. In the second the summons goes forth beyond Israel to the nations and peoples; as the third is the new song that is sought. The fourth demands a new song of Israel; and the fifth is the answer. This is completed by Psalm 100, which expresses Israel in the joy of grace, while owning their own portion, inviting all the earth to shout aloud to Jehovah, and with enlarged hearts welcoming into His grates with thanksgiving those whose approach they used jealously to fend off.
Psalm 95
“Come, let us sing aloud to Jehovah, let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his face with praise, let us shout aloud to him with psalms. For Jehovah [is] a great God (El), and a great King above all gods. In his hand [are] the deep places of the earth, and the strength of mountains [is] his; whose [is] the sea, and he made it; and his hands formed the dry [land]. Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before Jehovah our Maker; for he [is] our God and we people of his pasture and sheep of his hand. To-day if ye hear his voice, harden not your heart like Meribah, like the day of Massah, in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me,—also saw my work. Forty years long was I disgusted with the generation and said, A people erring in heart [are] they, and they have not known my ways, so that I swore in mine anger that they shall not come into my rest” (vers. 1-11).
It will be noticed how Jehovah is worshipped as the Creator but the God of Israel; then a warning is given from the unbelief of their fathers in the wilderness. Their failure from of old will not debar them from His rest to-morrow, only unbelief to-day.
Psalm 96
“Sing ye to Jehovah a new song, sing to Jehovah, all the earth. Sing to Jehovah, bless his name, proclaim his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the Gentiles, his wonders among all the peoples. For great [is] Jehovah and exceedingly to be praised, to be feared he above all gods. For all the gods of the Gentiles [are] idols (nothing), but Jehovah made the heavens. Honor and majesty [are] before him; strength and beauty in his sanctuary. Give to Jehovah, ye families of the peoples, give to Jehovah glory and strength; give to Jehovah the glory of his name, bring an offering and come to his courts. Bow down to Jehovah in the majesty of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the Gentiles, Jehovah reigneth! Yea, the world is established, it shall not be moved; he will judge the peoples in equity. Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; let the sea roar and its fullness; let the field exult and all that [is] in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest shout for joy before Jehovah, for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; he will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth” (vers. 1-13).
It is “ye” here to the nations, not “us” as in the preceding psalms. Yet Jehovah holds to His ordered place on earth, and the people are invited to the courts of His sanctuary, then indeed a house of prayer for all the peoples.
Psalm 97
“Jehovah reigneth; let the earth rejoice, let the many islands be glad. Cloud and darkness [are] around him, righteousness and judgment the foundation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his foes round about. His lightnings lightened the world; the earth saw and trembled. Mountains melted like wax before Jehovah, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. Ashamed be all that serve graven images and boast themselves of idols! Worship him, all ye gods (angels, as in Ps. 8)! Zion heard and rejoiced, and Judah's daughters were glad, because of thy judgments, O Jehovah. For thou, Jehovah, [art] Most High above all the earth, thou art exceedingly exalted above all gods. Lovers of Jehovah, hate evil! He keepeth the souls of his saints (pious ones), from the hand of the wicked ones he delivereth them. Light [is] sown for the righteous one, and gladness for upright in heart. Be glad in Jehovah, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness (vers. 1-12).”
Such is the song in reply. It is the earth rejoicing through the execution of divine judgments because Jehovah reigns in that day. And Zion rejoices on hearing, and Judah's daughters; a blessed trait in it, for naturally how different had all been! So the heavens here declare Jehovah's righteousness; the earth certainly was far from it, though we, Christians, know it still more gloriously in Him Who is on the Father's throne.
Psalm 98
“Sing ye to Jehovah a new song, for he hath done wonders; his right hand hath wrought salvation for him, and the arm of his holiness. Jehovah hath made known his salvation; in the eyes of the Gentiles he openly showed his righteousness. He remembered his mercy and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout to Jehovah, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, and sing psalms. Sing psalms to Jehovah with a harp, with harp and voice of psalm; with trumpets and sound of cornet shout before the King Jehovah. Let the sea roar and its fullness, the world and those dwelling in it; let floods clap hand, let mountains sing for joy together before Jehovah, for he cometh to judge the earth; he will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in equity” (vers. 1-9).
This is the call on Israel for a new song, though all the earth is to shout to Jehovah thereon, as Zion was glad when all the peoples saw His glory to the shame of idolatry. Here the sea too, the world, the rivers, and the hills all rejoice at His coming to judge the earth, Who is Jehovah the King.
Psalm 99
“Jehovah reigneth; let the peoples tremble. He sitteth [above] the cherubim; let the earth be moved. Jehovah [is] great in Zion and he [is] exalted above all the peoples. They shall praise thy great and terrible name; holy [is] he! and the king's strength loveth judgment. Thou hast established equity; thou hast wrought judgment and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt Jehovah our God and worship at his footstool: holy [is] he! Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among those calling on his name, they called unto Jehovah, and he answered them. In a pillar of cloud he spoke unto them; they kept his testimonies, and the statute he gave them. Jehovah, our God, thou answeredst them; a forgiving God (El) wast thou to them and taking vengeance on their doings. Exalt Jehovah our God, and worship at the mountain of his holiness; for holy [is] Jehovah our God” (vers. 1-9).
This is Israel's song in answer. Jehovah is great in Zion, and executes judgment and righteousness in Jacob. He sits between the cherubim. All the peoples therefore are to praise His name. As in the early days of the people, so yet more at the end of the age will He answer those that call on Him, while punishing their doings; not then one or two here and there, but “so all Israel shall be saved.” “Thy people also shall be all righteous” in that day. Jehovah's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear.
Psalm 100
“A psalm of thanksgiving. Shout to Jehovah, all the earth. Serve Jehovah with joy, come before him with singing. Know that Jehovah he [is] God; he made us, and not we, his people and sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise; give thanks to him, bless his name. For Jehovah [is] good; forever [is] his mercy, and his faithfulness from generation to generation” (vers. 1-5).
Here Israel calls to universal thanksgiving; no churlishness to the Gentile more. Jehovah's mercy enjoyed makes His people bountiful.

Justified by Faith

“How should a man be just with God?” Solemn question! To which man can give no satisfactory answer. If righteousness rule, love is annulled; if love govern, righteousness is swamped. Man can devise no way which does not sacrifice the one to the other. The anxious soul is thus left a prey to fear, apt to drown his doubts in religious efforts if not in the pleasures of sin for a season. Self is unjudged, and conscience unpurged; God unknown, Christ a mere make-weight or help and an impossible example. In such a state (and nothing is more common even in Christendom), the very gospel is turned into a law more galling than that of Moses; and some souls sink into indifference or despair, whilst others clothe themselves with the rags of their own righteousness, to find out too late that they are naked in God’s sight.
Christ, Christ’s redemption, alone meets the dilemma, alone puts in their true places God and man, guild and judgment, peace and holiness. Without Him all for the sinner is a hopeless chaos of contradiction. By Christ’s death, as God is glorified, so remission of sins is proclaimed to man: mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.
But man, hitherto living to himself and without God, even if an observer of forms and duties, is summoned to believe the gospel, not merely that there is grace and truth in Christ, but to believe o nHim and His work for his own soul before God. This necessarily involves repentance toward God, as indeed is often expressly insisted on (Matt. 21:32, Mark 1:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, 17:30, 20:21). The word of faith, which we preach, says the apostle, is “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10). His words in Rom. 4:23-25 set the truth in the clearest light. “Now it was not written for his (Abraham’s) sake that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus from the dead, Who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith,” &c.
None need ask language more precise, none can desire more authoritative. It is scripture (2 Peter 3:15, 16); and scripture is the word of God, whatever the human instrument, communicated by the Holy Spirit for permanent use, written not for their sakes only to whom it was originally given, but for us also. Being God's word, it binds the conscience of every man whom it reaches: his abuse of it, his refusal to heed it, will but aggravate his condemnation. Caviling will not blot out his sins nor rescue him from the wrath to come. Faith is the reception of God's word, and now pre-eminently of His message to every man, the gospel of His grace. We are called to believe that God raised Jesus our Lord from among the dead—Jesus expressly declared to be given up for Our offenses and raised for our justification or justifying. The efficacious work was entirely on God's part. We had contributed alas! our trespasses: He gave up His Son Who suffered for them, Just for unjust, and raised Him from the dead, the sure proof that the sacrifice was wrought and accepted for those that believe. Do you ask further demonstration? Rom. 8:34 adds, “Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us.” His resurrection and glory on high are the answer, not only to His person but to His work, glorifying God as to sin and suffering for our sins. God is righteous in thus raising and glorifying Him. But His righteousness avails much more, and justifies him that believes in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).
Here is the blessed ground of the gospel. Fallen and guilty, man has no righteousness for God (Rom. 1, and 2.). But God justifies freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Who bore the judgment of our sins on the cross, and now risen declares the believer free. Hence it is “by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe.” It is open “to all,” but for this very reason far worse off with God is he who rejects Christ and the gospel of God. He who believes on Him is justified, yea is made God's righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). He is justified by faith. There is no other way. It is not a process going on, but a fact accomplished and made known by that surest of testimonies—God's word. For He loves that we should know what Christ has done for us, and what He can afford to give in consequence. If we believe in Him, He would not have us doubtful, or burdened, but enjoying the inestimable favor of being justified in His sight. It is the fundamental blessing, anticipated in the Psalm (32.), accomplished in Christ, and proclaimed in the gospel.
It is “upon all them that believe.” The weak believer as well as the strong, may rest on the Savior, Whom God set forth a propitiatory, or mercy seat, by faith in His blood. And why was the blood sprinkled seven times before it, if not to furnish the fullest confidence to every soul that believes? The veil is now rent; all is manifest, not only your sins in the light of the cross, but the blood upon the mercy seat, the witness of atonement forever accepted. For God has before Him, not your sins, but the blood that cleanses from every sin.
More than that, it was to declare God's righteousness; and this doubly. It was first to vindicate in the prætermission or passing over of the foregone sins in the forbearance of God. How else could He have dealt as He did with such as Abel, Enoch, and Noah, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with crowds of others named and unnamed of old? But it is also to show His righteousness in the present time when He sends the glad tidings to all the world, to bear fruit and grow in all that hear and know the grace of God in truth. For it is no longer His ancient people under the law, but the gospel sent to all; no longer man's righteousness claimed, to convict of sin and powerlessness and ruin, but God's righteousness in Christ's death, that Himself might be just and justifier of him that has faith in Jesus.
Therefore, as the apostle triumphantly challenges in Rom. 8:33, “It is God that justifieth: who is he that condemneth?” Christ Jesus by His suffering work alone accounts for it. For our sins afforded righteous ground against us; but Christ bore them in His body on the tree, as His resurrection proves them to be altogether and righteously gone. It is God's righteousness, as the Epistle to the Romans lays down, not only to raise Him from the dead, but to justify all who believe in Him. His righteousness goes far beyond, even to heavenly glory for Christ and Close that are His. But here the Holy Spirit urges the foundation alike for God and for the soul through faith. May it be your portion, dear reader, through sovereign grace!

Distinctive Blessing on Obedience

It is ever important to distinguish things that differ, particularly in the things of God, as Timothy was enjoined by the apostle to rightly divide the word of truth. Seeing too that responsibility flows from privilege, the blessing of the latter should be known, so that the former should be intelligently entered into and carried out. The truth of this is clearly shewn in the earthly people of God, from whom with God’s blessing an instructive lesson may be gathered. Distinctive privilege and blessing, in its manner and continuance, is set forth in Deut. 11, where Moses, in verses 10-12, contrasts Egypt from whence they came out with Canaan into which they were going. In the former the seed sown was watered with the foot, as a garden of heros; but the latter was a land of hills and valleys, drinking water of the rain of heaven, a land moreover that Jehovah cared for, having His eyes always upon it “from the beginning of the year unto the end.” The distinction was therefore most marked; in the one was application to human means by which fruitfulness came, whereas the other wholly depended upon its supply from heaven. The rain must come from above to water the land, and this the Lord made dependent upon the people’s obedience, who were to “hearken to His voice and obey His commandments,” yea they were to love and serve Him.
Obedience therefore was the appointed means for the giving of the early and later rain, which was most needful for the continuance and enjoyment of their blessing. The book of Deuteronomy significantly sets forth the mind of the Lord as to the people's conduct in the land, and is rightly termed the book of obedience. Hence the needed word “Take heed to yourselves” lest strange gods, and other things rather than Jehovah, His land, and His things, should have any place with them, and thus involve judgment; a special form of which shut up the heaven, and witheld the rain, so that blessing ceased. How important therefore to yield an obedience, consistent with their given position, and privileges; to remember the word of the Lord, in the confidence of His promised care, crowned with the truth that the eyes of the Lord would be always upon the land. Surely such a promise implied no failure of blessing, if the people answered to their privileges, assured that He is ever faithful to His own word. But alas! the scriptures give unmistakable testimony, that the break-down is ever with man, and that all blessing dependent on him fails from Eden onward.
The brightest day that Israel ever knew was when Solomon their king sat on the throne, certainly as to manifested glory and blessing, despite the recorded fact, that continuous failure and unfaithfulness had previously marked them; not least in the time of the Judges, when the enemy frequently possessed the produce of their land, whereas abundance in peace and liberty, was enjoyed in Solomon's day. He, and not David, was favored to build the house of the Lord, where the ark of the Lord found its resting place, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. It was then that Solomon was told that the name of the Lord would be in and His eyes upon the house. Thus a double privilege so to speak comes out, not only the Lord caring for the land, but dwelling in His house. In 2 Chron. 6 is given the wonderful prayer of the king, in relation to the Lord dwelling in His temple. Among the many things anticipated by him, as a resource in failure, he in verses 26 and 27 speaks of heaven being shut up, and no rain, because of their sin, adding “If they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin,” Jehovah would hear, and send needed rain from heaven.
Thus Deut. 9 is bound up with 2 Chron. 6 as to the land and the house of the Lord; Moreover, obedience finds its central place in Israel's king, who is enjoined to walk before the Lord, according to all His commandments, otherwise the throne, temple, and land, would be destroyed. All their privileges were thus linked up with obedience, yet coupled with a gracious resource, should failure come in, a resource which, it is evident, they failed to use in time of need. Not only did Solomon sadly fail, but most of the kings after him, particularly those of Israel, so that the time came for the heaven to be shut, and the rain to cease. King Ahab committed the crowning sin leading up to this, for he not only married Jezebel, but reared an altar for the worship of Baal. At this crisis, the prophet Elijah appears to Ahab, with the solemn words “As the Lord God of Israel liveth before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” 1 Kings 19:1. Such a judgment wrought sorrow and desolation in the land, but with no lasting effect upon king or people, notwithstanding the public witness Jehovah gave to Himself by Elijah, to the overthrow of Baal and his worshippers. Though recovered for a time, Israel and their kings (and in the end Judah also) sank deeper into sin, with no true self-judgment, or turning to the Lord, so that they were finally carried captives into a foreign land; thus ending their Canaan blessing, under given responsibility.
Thanks to an ever-faithful God, blessing lost through Israel's unfaithfulness, only made way for the unconditional promises, and unfailing resources, of Jehovah, both as to the people, and the land. Though Israel became barren and destroyed herself, hope still remained in Him, Who was first in His promise, but last in fulfillment; yea it was at last that God sent His Son, whilst as to purpose, He was first. The two samples in promised blessing as to the land and throne were unconditionally given, before the responsibility of Deut. 11 or 2 Chron. 6 For by Abraham and David, Jehovah had declared, that the land should be possessed, and the throne filled so as never to be lost, or to pass into Gentile hands. This most assuredly awaited the coming of Him, Who was Abraham's seed, and David's Son, though as to His person, it was before the former, and the root, yet no less the offspring, of the latter; the One in, and by Whom, the land should he possessed, with all its promised blessing and fruitfulness. This, Gen. 12; 15 and 22. plainly state, that Abraham's seed should possess the land; no less does a failing David anticipate and speak of One infinitely beyond his typical son Solomon, when “The God of Israel said, the rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling the fear of God; and he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without cloud, as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” 2 Sam. 23:3, 4.
If Matthew's Gospel presents Jesus specially as Israel's Messiah, the true son of Abraham and of David, Luke also blessedly speaks of what the angel Gabriel stated. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:32, 33. Thus all real interest blessing invests itself in Him Who was presented to the nation according to promise and prophecy, the One to Whom at Jordan's banks the heavens were opened upon Whom the Spirit descended and abode upon, Him, and the Father's voice said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” But as in the past, there is persistent failure as to such distinctive privilege, for they not only refuse to own their Messiah, but finally they join together saying, “This is the heir; come let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” Matt. 21:38. Not one only, but all the Gospels, bear witness to the rejection of Christ the beloved Son of God; for in answer put to the final question of Pilate, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? they all say unto him, Let Him be crucified.”
Thus the cross terminated hope of blessing for God's earthly people, on the ground of their responsibility, involving them in a judgment infinitely greater than shutting heaven in Elijah's day. But the cross fully proving the guilt of Israel (no less of man generally) has manifested fully what God is in infinite love and grace. For there the question of sin was raised by forever settled by His beloved Son, Who by the grace of God tasted death for every man. The sin of man, and its alone remedy, found an answer at the cross, where Jesus by His death and shed blood not only secured the glory of God, and eternal salvation, but laid a holy and righteous basis for all blessing, both for the heavens and the earth. Notwithstanding all the past, crowned with the hatred and rejection of God's Christ, all blessing lost by Israel and man will be established and more than made good, in and through Him now exalted, with other blessed purposes before Him in the hour of His absence. Yet the apostle Peter declared, that God shall send back Jesus “whom the heavens must receive, until the times of restitution of all things.” For to Him, as the apostle Paul states, are given the sure mercies of David. Already, therefore, is the future of Israel and the land clearly made known, when infinitely more than was enjoyed in Solomon's brightest day will be realized under Him, Who will not only reign gloriously in Jerusalem but from the river unto the ends of the earth. In that day will righteousness and judgment be united, and Israel brought under their new covenant blessing, when Jehovah will blot out their transgressions and remember their sins no more. Indeed it will be said of them, “Thy people also shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land forever.” Isa. 60:21. Then blessing will flow from the throne of the true David, causing mountain, hill and valley, to yield abundantly; yea, “the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed, and the mountains shall drop sweet wine,” and Jehovah's unfulfilled promise will be realized, “I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.” See Amos 9:13-15. Thus Israel will be securely blessed, having been made willing in the day of Jehovah's power, and fitted for an obedience in character with their distinctive blessing. The glorious privileges for Israel and the earth, recorded in Psa. 72, will be entered upon, when the prayers of the typical David will be ended; and the long rejected Messiah will reign gloriously to the joy and satisfaction both of Israel and the nations, for “All kings shall fall down before him, all nations shall serve him.” Then will happy and blessed Israel answer to the words “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him and bless his name, yea “; in grateful obedience they will worship continually; saying, “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name forever; and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen.”
G. G.

Scripture Sketches: 1. — Silhouette Balaam

The prosperity of divine favor that rested on Israel in the wilderness did not please the king of Moab—there are few things that give universal satisfaction;—and so in order to effect a change, he sent an embassy 600 miles for Balaam, who was a most respectable man and evidently in great repute, to arrange the matter more to his wishes. Balaam's respectability was not merely that “gig-respectability,” which used to excite Carlyle's ire so much. To be sure Balaam kept his gig—or the saddle-ass which was the Oriental equivalent for it. He was an extremely “religious” man, his religion having moreover no desire to wed poverty like that of St. Francis. But besides this it is manifest that he was a man of the very highest order of mental and spiritual power and capacity,—of far-seeing prophetic vision, of vast and comprehensive knowledge, of lofty and splendid eloquence. But, like the centaur or satyr of the ancients, the upper part of him was like a demi-god and the lower part of him was like a beast. He was corrupt; and, as the Latin proverb says, the corruption of that which is best is the vilest thing of all. He had that cursed appetite for gold, auri sacra fames, which eats into the soul like a cancer.
There have been many who have followed in his footsteps—but afar off; for the race does not often produce men of his capacity. Solomon is an instance of a man who had god-like wisdom and at the same time a most animal libidinousness; but Solomon was incapable of the deliberate wickedness that Balaam perpetrated. The first Duke of Marlborough was an instance of a man of almost superhuman comprehension in war and diplomacy, who could yet sell his own sister, or his own country, for a little gold; who could rob the starving soldiers that were dying for his fame, and send information by which 800 of them were slain for a few guineas. But the only one who has at all completely resembled him was, I think, that lofty and wise philosopher, whose writings have scanned the whole province of knowledge and come home to “men's bosoms and businesses,” who spake as one who had inquired at the mouth of God, and took bribes to wrest justice and sold his friends and benefactors to imprisonment and death, and yet who almost compels us to love him notwithstanding his wickedness,— “the wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind,” Francis Bacon. It usually takes men a long time to learn that the Satyr is not a myth: it is reality; that there are those who have, what Montaigne calls, “Opinions super-celestes et moeurs souterraines,” who have the brow crowned with the light of heaven and the heel nailed in hell.
When the ambassadors came to Balaam, he told them they must wait till he consulted the Lord. But this was only a way he had, so as not to make himself too cheap. He never dreamed of doing anything of the sort. He went to bed, and the Lord then takes the initiative in the matter. “God came to Balaam and said, What men are these, with thee?” and commanded him not to go with them. This was very embarrassing to the prophet. He had meant to make a little money out of this business, and here he is hindered at the outset. He cannot go. They urge him. He says at last he cannot go even if they give him a house. full of gold and silver. There they have his price now. When a man like that says that he cannot do a bad action for so many pounds, that is about. the amount required. “Make it guineas, and it is a bargain.” He is given another chance. When the ambassadors come again, and Balaam is “wearying” to go with them, God tells him that he may go with them, “if the men come to call thee.” But Balaam does not wait for the test to work. We read that he “rose up in the morning and saddled his ass and notwithstanding the original command not to go, the failure of the test, and the warning of the angel and the dumb beast on the way, he beats down all opposition and goes on to his gold, his honors, and his damnation.
The worst of his conduct is that he saw and knew perfectly the will and judgment of God in the events. We are not dealing with a mere stupid atheist. A man with the highest order of intelligence is never an atheist, though his followers often profess to be so. The great Darwin was no atheist, but the little Darwins frequently are. Neither Voltaire nor Thos. Paine nor Bonaparte were atheists. As Bacon says, “A little philosophy inclineth a man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.” It is not “knowledge,” but “a little knowledge” that is a dangerous thing. But the man that has intelligence to know that God lives and judges is more guilty in his wickedness than the man—if there really be one—who is stupid enough to believe in a creation without a creator.
His great reputation for sanctity and spiritual power he is prepared to put out to market to Moab. And truly what was the good of it to him if he could not turn an honest penny by it? When Jonas Hanway suggested to his coachman that he would like him to have family prayers, the man replied that he would willingly, and he hoped it would be considered in the wages;—and certainly it ought to be, because piety of this nature must be rewarded in this life, for it has not much to expect from the next. Balaam hoped to die the death of the righteous, but like many another who has the same desire, he prefers to live the life of the wicked, and this is not the way to attain to it. He goes up deliberately prepared for a little sordid gain to curse into misery and disaster a whole nation of people who never offended him; and when God turns his curse into a blessing, in the middle of pronouncing it he murmurs in the king's ear—doubtless in calm, unctuous, sanctimonious accents—a fiendish plot by which to destroy them. “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end [just the “last end” of it only] be like his,” he said; but he died the death of the wicked in the midst of the enemies of God and by the sword of judgment,—a man of noble and splendid endowments, with the “golden mouth” of a Chrysostom in his life, and the gold-filled mouth of the ghastly Crassus in death.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:4

A manifestly new section begins with chap. 2:4, though with unmistakable reference to the chapter before, which it summarizes as an introduction to a fresh point of view that looks on to the end of chapter 3. The opening words here and elsewhere are supposed by some who deny neither Moses nor inspiration to indicate that Moses thus interwove separate documents preserved by the heads of the Semitic race, and that this fact is one of the strongest internal testimonies that we have to do with genuine historical records. No believer need deny the principle if God's inspiration be truly maintained. Moses truly have been inspired to incorporate ancient records where authentic, as Luke gives us the confidential letter of Claudius Lysias to Felix. Only it is hard if not quite impossible to conciliate some eleven such documents with the perfect unity that pervades Genesis, especially as a divinely ordered type, i.e., prophetically of the future. But the grand truth overlooked is the reality of divine inspiration and its incomparable character and depth. Documents or not, this is certain. And what document could there have been of the creation? God alone could have given that. Take also this first of “the generations “; how could even Adam have furnished anything of the sort?
“These [are; the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah Elohim made earth and heavens.”
The change in the divine designation harmonizes with no less change in the subject matter and calls out phraseology in keeping with it. It is no longer as in chap. 1. “God” (Elohim) only, but “the LORD God” (Jehovah Elohim). We may see, not only here but everywhere, how wise is the design, and how worthy of God; for the instrument employed may not even have understood the full force of what was given him to write. On the one hand difference there is, though not discrepancy; on the other, call for the exercise of faith and spiritual intelligence. “By faith we understand.”
Of all attempts to solve the questions that arise, none so weak or crude as the fancy of distinct remains of independent authors here put together, not to say slashed or mangled. There is no account of creation but that which we have already had. Now we are told of the relations established, which bring in the specific title of divine government, Jehovah, and identify it with Him Who created all. Can aught be conceived more in place, right, and seasonable? It is impossible fairly to call the new section Jehovistic; for throughout Jehovah never occurs without Elohim, though on a few exceptional occasions easily explicable Elohim occurs without Jehovah. How in the least degree does a different writer account for the usage? It is at best a child's guess and can only mislead. See its absurdity in 1 Kings 18:36, 39, and in Jonah 1; 3; 4, &c.
Jean Astruc in 1753 seems to have first suggested the chimera in his “Conjectures sur les memoires originaux, dont ii parait que Moise s'etait servi pour composer le livre de Genese,” which appeared simultaneously at Brussels and Paris. He was a medical man of strong memory, wide reading, and mental activity, but totally devoid of depth or large views even in the science of his own profession. Yet a supposition equally shallow and easy of refutation, inadequate to meet the facts of the case, and barren of a spiritual thought or a godly feeling, drew after it not a few ingenious and learned Germans with their British and American admirers. For this but one circumstance accounts—the skeptical spirit that preceded and accompanied the last century of revolution. Astruc conceived a double set of longer documents by authors respectively Elohistic and Jehovistic, with nine or ten others of lesser extent, all independent. Even to give unity to such various materials was no small task. This some would assign to Moses: others are keen to bring down the unknown “redactor” or digester as late as is plausible by specious arguments. Of truth and divine design these daring speculators have no notion: God is in none of their thoughts. It is a trifle in their eyes to give the lie virtually to the Lord or any of the Twelve or Paul the apostle. To this their “higher criticism” speedily drags them down. It is a snare of the enemy.
As for scriptural usage, the facts are simple, and the principle plain. Elohim expresses the divine Being, the Originator of all other beings, with fullness of power displayed in wisdom and goodness, and so in contrast with man and creature weakness. Hence “God” is used generally where no specific manifestation is intended, or required; and the term is applicable to judges who represent God in delegated authority on earth, and to angels that execute His will from heaven, or even to the “gods many,” as the apostle speaks of heathen worship. The singular form, Eloah, occurs not only in Deut. 32:15, 17, &c., but with frequency from Job 3 to chap. 40, yet rarely in the Psalms and in the Prophets. Still more common is the kindred El, the Mighty One, not only in the Pentateuch (save Leviticus most appropriately) but in Job pre-eminently, as well as in the Psalms and the Prophets, often qualified and even compounded.
Jehovah is His personal name, “The Name,” and this in relationship with man on earth, especially with His people; the Self-existent and Eternal, always the proper name of the true God for those on earth, and in due time that by which He made Himself known as the covenant God of Israel, in Whose presence they were to walk—not El Shaddai, the Almighty God of their fathers, but the LORD God of their sons, His people. Ehyeh (I AM, Ex. 3:14) and Jah (Lord, Ex. 15:2; 17; 10, &c.) are akin to Jehovah, but each used distinctively where a different author is untenable and sheer delusion. Neither is quite Jehovah God, the Governor of man; but as Jah is the absolutely existing One, so Ehyeh expresses His existence as the Everlasting Now consciously felt and asserted, therefore subjective, as Jah is objective.
Hence, in describing creation from first to last as in Gen. 1-2:3, God (Elohim) is the sole suited designation, as giving existence to everything that is, heavens, earth, and all in them. With no less propriety Jehovah Elohim at once appears when He establishes moral relations here below. Hence in chap. ii. alone man is seen (not simply as a creature, whatever his singular honor as head and lord of all on earth) but formed in immediate association with Himself, though his body be of dust. In chap. 2. only do we hear of the garden of delights, with its two mysterious trees, the scene of his trial. Here the lower creatures are “called” as man saw fit, having title from the Eternal God to name them. Here only we learn of the woman taken out of Adam and builded up divinely—she likewise “called” by her husband, yet as part of himself. Here have we no cosmogony as men say, but God, and the creature, in due relations. There is clear recognition of all in chap. 1, but new and special information of the most important kind morally, peculiar to chap. 2 and preparatory to chap. 3. Inconsistency there is none: only prejudiced ignorance can talk so. Still less is there contradiction, save in the mind and mouth of an enemy of God's revelation. The solemn facts of the fall are the continuation, and the same name follows regularly.
This is exactly what ought to be, were one writer inspired to write all three chapters. It was of all moment to know that the One true God, the Creator, is the living Judge of all the earth; and this is simply and impressively conveyed by the combined title. How much better as well as more dignified than by a labored human argument to prove it! In due time (chap. 17.) Jehovah appeared to Abram, the depositary of promise and chief patriarch of Israel, I am El-Shaddai (God Almighty) he. And God (Elohim) talked with him—not man nor angel, but the true God, Whose name is Jehovah. Yet not this but “God Almighty" was the revealed title of Him before Whom the patriarch and his sons were to walk. All the force and beauty of the truth is lost by the low and irreverent conjecture which dreams of so many authors using different names of God, with other points equally misunderstood. “Higher criticism,” indeed! It is really the criticism of the scissors and fit only for the dust-bin of learning without sense. Later still Israel were to have Jehovah given as their God, their national object of worship, and revealed ground of dependence; but He was none other than the God Who created the universe. What a shield against idolatry, had not man been a rebel, a weak and perverse sinner! “He that Was and that is and that is to come” will yet make good His promises in the kingdom. This of course failed under the first man and the old covenant, as everything does; but it will stand forever under the Second Man, the Messiah, and the new covenant when He appears in His glory.
In the chapters that follow it was enough in general to use one or other name alone; and they are invariably employed with purpose, not only throughout Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch, but in the later historical books, in the Psalms, and in the Prophets. In no instance can they be shown to be confounded; in every case where the generic “God” is not used, special motive calls for “Jehovah “; yet these two by no means exhaust the designations we find. In Gen. 14 El-Elyon (the Most High God) dawns on us, reappearing also in the Psalms and the Prophets wherever it was most appropriate. It is that name of God which upholds His title as “possessor of heavens and earth,” to put down all rivals above or below, when the true Melchisedec appears in the exercise of His royal priesthood on the final defeat of the enemy, even before the last and eternal judgment. See Psa. 92:1, as well as Num. 24 and Dan. 4.
Thus Jehovah had been familiar enough from the first; but it was never before revealed to Israel, still less to others, as the specific ground of assurance to them and so of their appeal to Him. God Almighty was the assigned name on which their fathers relied as heirs of promise; and they never found it to fail. Henceforward the sons of Israel (in their greater circle of change than any other people) were to prove Him true, according to the perpetuity of His being, Who is sure to effect His promises in due time; for He is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever. Alas! they became false witnesses to Jehovah, and even rejected the Object of all promise, Jehovah Messiah. Therefore God has hid His face from Israel for a while, and is now, by the Spirit, making Himself known under the gospel to all who believe, Jew or Greek, as “Father” (2 Cor. 6:18), a still higher and nearer name than that of Jehovah, which was for earth as Father is in and for heaven. The word “Father,” like Jehovah, had been long known, but never all the given name of recognized relationship till the Lord Jesus Who eternally knew it as the Son in His bosom, after declaring it through His living ministry, sent it definitely to His brethren when He rose from the dead, having accomplished redemption (John 20:17); and the Holy Spirit was given them subsequently, crying, Abba, Father.
Clearly therefore the same principle runs through the N. T. as well as the Old. The special name of God, definitely given, is expressive of the relationship in which He is pleased to be known: yet there is also not less but more enjoyment of “God” Himself as such. “The hour cometh and now is,” said our Lord, “when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth".. “God is a Spirit; and they that worship must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24). Both statements are profoundly true and weighty, but they are far from being the same. No key is so false and foolish as imputing the difference to different authors. But this is modern theology.
Nor is it otherwise with those titles disputed in Genesis, where the Spirit led Moses to employ each in accordance with the subject in hand. Even what might seem exceptional is susceptible of ready solution. The serpent is represented as saying (Gen. 3:1), “Yea, hath God said,” and the woman replies, “God hath said” (3), and the serpent rejoins, “God doth know” (5), never in the temptation saying, on either side, Jehovah Elohim. The claims of the divine Governor were in abeyance through the wiles of the evil one. Jehovah Elohim was no longer before the deceived woman. Otherwise the chapter invariably proclaims the two-fold name most appropriately. Now had it been a, composition made up by many successive hands, or the uninspired writing of even Moses or any other man, is it credible that a difference of such delicacy and expressiveness when duly considered could have appeared, to say nothing of the moral wisdom shown in the Elohim of chap. 1 and the Jehovah Elohim of chaps. 2, 3? The suggestion of independent authorship has no basis and therefore no real evidence to commend it; and were it conceded for the moment, it proves quite unequal to explain the single name or the compound, still less the intervening exception. The intention on His part Who inspired the writer renders all simple, especially when the reader learns to understand the propriety in each case.
In a general sense it will be seen that Elohim would have sufficed, and in some cases is most forcible and becoming; but the addition of Jehovah gives special relation and contextual beauty, especially on the supposition of the same hand. It was not nature or evolution that generated the heavens and the earth with their host. Elohim created all to make it as it was for man; as Jehovah Elohim tested man who fails in the face of every advantage. It would have been incongruous to have said Jehovah in describing the creation; and equally so to have said Elohim in laying down relationships. But the creation being attributed to Elohim, it was of all consequence to identify the Creator with the One Who orders all morally and governs man; and this is best expressed by the actually combined terms, Jehovah Elohim, and not casually but consistently till the sad end of the exiled pair, not without a blessed outlook left them on His part Who pronounced judgment on the serpent.
The self-vaunting “higher criticism” means the destruction of the deep interest and profit spiritually derivable from the inspired use of divine titles, as of all else in scripture. The truth is that there never was a drearier nullity, or a more palpable nuisance of learning falsely so called. Who can wonder, since God thereby is divorced from the scriptures? which they cut, apart from all fear of God, as a profane king of Judah the roll that he dreaded. In modern times as in ancient a vain and wicked illusion! God is not mocked. Other opportunities may occur in detail for laying bare the fragment hypothesis, as well as for clearing alleged inconsistencies and disproving what ill will claims to be corroborative evidence. But the main original plea is already shown to be as shadowy as it is unintelligent, as far as could be expected within a short paper such as the present. There is divine design in every change of God's name, as indeed in every other word which the Holy Spirit gave to be written by the chosen instruments.

Saul: the Third Sign and the Test

1 Samuel 10:5-8
No one can carefully read Samuel's description of the third sign without being impressed with the importance of it. The former were remarkably suggestive, and if the force and application of them had been understood by Saul they were calculated to furnish him with needed and valuable instruction for the new and important position which he was thenceforth to occupy. But the last was more than this. It was accompanied with a marvelous gift of power—the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. Such a gift to such a man invites inquiry; may we enter upon it with unquestioning faith in the inspired record. It will not he without profit to have our attention directed to the amazing extent of privilege and blessing that has been bestowed on men, and, as to themselves, bestowed in vain. The same gift was conferred on Balaam. The Spirit of God came on him, his eyes were opened, he had the knowledge of the Most High and saw the vision of the Almighty (Num. 24), yet the darkness of his soul was not reached by all this light. We are solemnly warned against his doctrine, his error and his way, and he perished with the enemies of God. coming to the time of our Lord, we have the case of Judas Iscariot whose privileges exceeded all that ever went before him. Prophets and kings desired to see those things which he saw, and to hear those things which he heard, but were not so favored: he was also numbered with the apostles and obtained part of the ministry, preaching the kingdom of God and working miracles, yet he was guide to them that took Jesus, and afterward destroyed himself. Still later after the descent of the Holy Spirit, we find some who were made partakers of the Spirit and shared in other Christian privileges, yet, notwithstanding all, fell away and crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame (Heb. 6:4-6).
These are serious cases and are made known to us for a serious purpose. The void that sin has made in the soul cannot be filled by the richest and the most abundant gifts, short of Christ, and heart-belief in Him. A man may be enlightened, have tasted of the heavenly gift, been made partaker of the Holy Ghost, have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, and yet fall away. He may preach with the gift of Paul, but, if that be all, his gift and the exercise of it will not save him (1 Cor. 9:27). As Rutherford said, “Preaching is not Christ,” though it may be about Him; and Matthew Henry, “Saul prophesying among the prophets is Saul still.” However great the difference in dispensational gifts and blessings, it will be found that the grand essential for man remains the same all through. Not light, nor even power will suffice, though both are needed. From Abel onward the great concern of the soul can only be met and answered by the Lamb of God and faith in Him. As John Forster said, “I only found relief from poignant sorrow and anxiety on account of my sin by placing a simple reliance on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for acceptance before God “; and the most gifted must come to this, or be a stranger to true peace.
“Of sinners chief—what but the blood
Could calm my soul before my God?”
We do not forget that our subject is Saul, but to refuse the further light afforded us in later scriptures would be to deprive our inquiry of all point and application to ourselves and our times. There are, it is to be feared, those who like to bear the Christian name, to share in Christian privileges and even aspire to Christian offices, without true conversion to God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is therefore of great moment to know to what lengths the flesh can go, to have before us examples, such as those already quoted, men upon whom the Spirit of the Lord came, men who have had the gift of prophecy and who have preached to others, yet were not saved. “The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God. But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Heb. 6). The showers which fall on both do not change, but do make manifest the true nature of the soil. In David, upon whom the Spirit of the fjord came (1 Sam. 16:13), we have an example of fruitful ground; in Saul, of a barren waste.
But let us apply ourselves to the facts as narrate After leaving Rachel's sepulcher, Saul might have been reminded that, though now an anointed king, he was but dust, a Benoni, the son of his mother's sorrow, and that God alone could make him a Benjamin, His instrument of power; but after parting with the three men going up to God to Bethel, who could have taught him to put his trust in the God of Jacob, ever faithful to all His promises, he is brought to the hill of God, and there (remarkable spot) he finds the Philistines securely entrenched. He is thus face to face with the difficulties before him, for the people had desired a king to fight their battles and the Lord had given him to be their captain, to deliver them especially out of the hand of the Philistines, their bitterest as well as their strongest enemies. He could well have done it, had he proved obedient; for here, in the sight of the foe, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he is at once seen prophesying with the prophets, with all the accompaniments of joy and triumph, the psaltery, the tabret, the pipe and the harp: the battle was the Lord's, therefore he might well rejoice, for then the victory was sure. To awaken faith in his soul, speedy proof of this was afforded him. When the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead sought deliverance from Nahash the Ammonite, in the energy of the Spirit he called out the people, led them victoriously against the enemy, and rescued Jabesh. That he was a gifted man was thus put beyond question, and nature will appreciate gift. He was admired of all, was at once confirmed in the kingdom, and he and all the men of Israel rejoiced together greatly (11.). With Samuel only was there reserve. He was not carried away by the popular enthusiasm, and the Lord sent thunder and rain in wheat harvest to confirm His word of warning (12.).
The period of the judges was now closed. The king superseded the judge, but any attempt to set aside Samuel as the prophet-mediator would be contempt of the supreme authority of Jehovah, and of the provision of sovereign grace when sin had brought the nation to ruin, its priesthood gone and the glory departed. The word of the Lord was explicit as to this. Saul was to tarry for Samuel till he should come to offer the sacrifices and show him what he should do. Though his office and his gift were unchangeable, he was not independent to use them as he pleased. Samuel was the one link remaining of connection with God. It was given to him to draw near to the Lord on behalf of the people and to communicate His will—a type in this of Christ. Were they to have a king who should do his own will in worship and service? David was a man after God's own heart. Why? Not because he was a prophet, how far from it! But because the Lord had said of him, “he shall fulfill all My will” (Acts 13:22). Saul, alas, was not this. He did his own. A more serious lesson can hardly be read to these who are in office or have gift in the church, for none are in greater danger of trenching on the mediatorship and authority of Christ; but a great house has diverse vessels in it, so we read in 2 Tim. 2:20. The office may be honorable, and the gift undeniable; but what is the vessel, and for whose use? The test is needed, and it is a serious one.
It was all well outwardly with Saul at first, but at length the impatience of the flesh refused restraint. His religion could do without Samuel, and he kept not the commandment of the Lord. He thought, doubtless, to cover his willfulness by a show of piety, but it was a bandage for his own eyes only. Samuel's question, “What hast thou done?” showed that he was not blinded by it. Mere religiousness may make a man satisfied with himself, as Adam with his apron of fig leaves; but this question must come sooner or later, “What hast thou done?” and then all is upset. Saul's miserable pleading for an unlawful sacerdotalism was of no more avail than Adam's wretched device of laying the blame of his conduct on his wife (13.).
The contrast in the next chapter is striking and beautiful. On the one hand we see exalted position, gift, numbers, religiousness and assumption. On the other two men out of the whole tribe of Israel relying on the strength of the Lord alone (14: 6), united in His name and going forth in the mighty energy of faith to attack and overcome the Philistines, and to recover from their hand the possessions given of God but of which they had robbed them. That there were but two is an indication of the low condition of the people, but it had been lower. The first chapter of this book reveals yet greater weakness. Hannah was alone and in reproach; around her was either spiritual deadness or shameless wickedness, while judgment from the Lord, dishonored in His sanctuary, was impending. It was at such a moment that it pleased God to reveal Himself by a name which He had not taken before, or rather, which is not found before in the scriptures. The time was come for such a revelation of the divine glory, so suited to encourage the faith of the weak in the presence of adverse power. Hannah was the first that we read of who cried to the Lord as Jehovah Tzebaoth (the Lord of hosts or armies, 1:11). David also met and overthrew Goliath in the might of that name (17: 45), and looking forward to the final triumphs of Jesus in the earth, where He was crucified, in the spirit of prophecy, and in the loftiest strain, he applied it to Him in Psa. 24
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates!
Yea, lift them up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
Jehovah Tzebaoth,
He is the King of glory.”
How perfectly this ray of the divine glory shines now in the face of Jesus Christ, those who are oppressed may learn in a remarkable passage in James. “Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” Yes, the labor question is before Him, and the balance of justice is safe in His hands. Be patient, Christian, His coming draweth nigh. As Jehovah Tzebaoth He heard Hannah's cry, so He hears yours. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.”
But as to Saul, had he any real knowledge of the glory of the Lord or care for it? Who can seriously consider His course, and that last sad scene on Mount Gilboa, and entertain a hope of him? The events of his life are vividly portrayed by the Holy Spirit. They were “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4); and here “our” is emphatic: we need them therefore. W. B.

Thoughts on 1 Chronicles 21

The world in its friendships and the flesh in its worst forms have under the cunning wiles of Satan rudely shaken the king on the throne; and he would have stumbled to rise no more, but that the word and the purpose of God are in question. So grace meets and triumphs over the sin, for God is pledged to bring the king through all. “Yet again there is war.” David is still the point of attack, as it were the citadel, hitherto found impregnable, of the kingdom which stands or falls with him. After proving that all attempts have as yet only established David more firmly (if possible) in his kingdom, Satan turns to other means to attain his end. David's heart is lifted up with vanity, and he seeks to gratify himself with his own glory, as if independent of God, forgetting that it was God Who had clothed him with honor and renown as with a garment.
It is a like vain glory which has wrought ruin in the church. It began in the admiration of itself. The attributing to itself, as the source, all the things it admired, early shut out the Lord from view, and then it became a question only of proselytizing. The Lord was forgotten, and increased numbers the aim. The professing church has boasted of its own riches, saying it has need of nothing; while the truth is, it is wretched and miserable and poor, blind and naked (see Rev. 3:17). Becoming more boastful, yet more wretched, it awaits a fuller development of pride, to be followed by sure and unsparing judgment. “I will spue thee out of my mouth” is not all. Compare Rev. 17, 18.
David's sin lies not in the bare fact of numbering the people; for they had been numbered by God's command before. God looks at the hidden spring. Fleshly and worldly ostentation, springing up in his heart, for the moment shut out the thought of God. Had David forgotten the grace that took him while yet unknown, and even unthought of by his own family, and anointed him to be king? His heart swelling with his own greatness, as if acquired by his own power, he would know the extent of his rule from Beersheba even unto Dan. God judged the secret motive, and later on David judges himself. “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 very foolishly” (21: 8). Does not Psa. 30 refer to this time when prosperity for a moment hid God from his soul? “And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.” When restored, all breaks into the praise of God, “To the end my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent; O Lord my God. I will give thanks unto Thee forever.”
To trust in prosperity, in earthly riches, is a danger for most if not all saints. It was so in the days of old when prosperity in earthly things was a mark of God's favor. How much greater the folly of trusting to them now, when our true riches are revealed to be heavenly and not earthly! To boast of spiritual gifts and attainments as if acquired by our own skill is even more offensive to the Lord, Who alone gives as it pleases Him. It is to put God's blessings and favors in the place of God Himself. If the perishable things of this life are His gift, how much more the spiritual and eternal! Forget not all His benefits, but bless the Lord.
It was the same spirit of pride and self-complacency as in Nebuchadnezzar. The self-complacency might be greater in him, but the sin was greater in David. It was but natural in the heathen king, and he had a wider domain than David; but David knew God, therefore his guilt was greater. Hear the heathen's confession of sin. For one year after the warning from Daniel he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon and said, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty.” In like spirit David looked on Jerusalem and all Israel, and in the consciousness of being king would know the extent of his power and the number of the people. The iniquity of his sin in the sight of God may be seen in the manner of God's judgment. On his fall before when owned, the prophet said, “The Lord hath put away thy sin.” In this the confession is not met with the declaration of mercy, but with an offer of three kinds of judgment. Had David dared to choose, he would have found how vain was his numbering the people. As it was, piously choosing to fall into the hand of God and leaving all in His hand, thousands were cut off as in a moment. It was a solemn rebuke to David. The Lord is saying to him, “All souls are mine"; and He can increase or diminish the number at a word.
Though the same kind of sin in both David and Nebuchadnezzar, how different the manner of judgment! David confesses his sin and the chastisement comes after. Nebuchadnezzar confesses after his recovery. In both we see how swiftly judgment overtook the sin. When the numbering was completed, immediately Israel is smitten and the angel of the Lord with a drawn sword stands over Jerusalem: David makes confession and rears an altar. Here grace triumphs over judgment. There is submission to the Lord, and confidence in Him. David chooses nothing but to fall into the hand of the Lord, “for very great are His mercies.” Remark that faith accompanies true confession; and it would appear before the three days are ended the Lord said to the destroying angel, “It is enough, stay now thine hand.” In this case the people suffered, for the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. We do not read of any special judgment on the Babylonians, it falls upon the king alone. Upon him it was sudden and terrible. In the same hour of his boasting the judgment fell on him (see Dan. 4:25, 33), swift and unexpected. So it was with the antediluvians, so with Sodom; so it will be in the days of the Son of Man (Luke 17:26-30). There doubtless were consternation and fear in his court, for it was no ordinary case of insanity, as infidels since have dared to say, as they do of the possessed of demons in the Gospels. Were there such infidels then? Wonderful as the account is, believers know that it is true. Indeed the words of scripture are far too precise to admit of any meaning short of literal fact. He was driven from the abodes of men, did eat grass as oxen, his body was wet with the dew of heaven (i.e., wore no clothing), his hair grew like eagle's feathers, and his hair like bird's claws. It was God's rebuke, terrible in its measure, but blessed in its ultimate result.
Dan. 4 appears to be in the main the confession of Nebuchadnezzar after his restoration to his throne. He relates how he was warned, his exceeding pride and sin, and how great the judgment upon him; how at the end of the days he lifted up his eyes, at the end of the seven times meted to his punishment; and his reason came as suddenly as it was taken from him; and his first thing is to honor Him that liveth forever. Therefore he thinks it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God had wrought towards him (ver. 2). And he tells of a miracle at his return to his kingdom as striking as when men drove him away (he was not shut up in a madhouse). “At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me, and I was established in my kingdom and excellent majesty was added unto me.” That his lords and courtiers should seek him after seven years' estrangement, that excellent majesty should be added unto him, mark the miraculous controlling power of Him Who holds all things in His hand. Nebuchadnezzar, in the opening and closing verses of this chapter (Dan. 4), praises the King of heaven, the One Who had shown signs and wonders to him.
David's praise rises higher, but then his confession was deeper, “I have done very foolishly.” This was an intelligent saint, that an ignorant heathen. But the word of God closes its history of the mighty man of the earth, the head of gold, with his being a worshipper by grace. There is a faith that believes “that He is,” and God is a rewarder of such. Shall we not see him in the kingdom of God among those who come from the east and the west, from the north and the south? There was not “much” given to him, but God looks to what a man hath.
This attempt of Satan against Israel is also baffled, and becomes the occasion for a further and greater display of that grace which is the only foundation of God's kingdom among men. If the sword of the Lord is drawn out against rebellious man, His grace lingers over him, and puts back the sword, for a time into its sheath. It is here as we read in the prophets, “But I wrought for My name's sake.” That wondrous name had been declared to Moses. A name which shot forth bright but transient rays before the glorious light was displayed in Christ. Oftentimes mercy and goodness rose above the law on which man had perched himself. What more glorious proof of that name could there be before Christ came than when Jehovah restrains the avenging sword that was already stretched out over Jerusalem?
In Chronicles this is the last recorded attempt of Satan against the kingdom during David's life. In it David failing, but grace triumphing, brings to view, in a little, the grace now fully displayed in Christ; for here in result an altar is built on the floor of a Jebusite, a Gentile. The ark of the covenant was in the tent in the city of David (16:1). And the old altar of burnt offering and the tabernacle of the Lord which Moses made in the wilderness, “were at that season in the high place at Gibeon,” and David is afraid to go there, because of the sword of the angel of the Lord. This sword is always connected with the old altar and the tabernacle that Moses made. But here is an altar altogether new, built by the man who feared to go to the other. Is not David's son made the occasion of showing that grace without law is the only foundation even for the kingdom, and that the priests of the Aaronic type have nothing to do with it? For it is David the king that builds it, and sacrifices on it, and the Lord answers by fire. It is a new way, unknown to the law, where are found both Israelite and Jebusite. What right had the priests who served at the altar in Gibeon to the altar built by the king? And what right have those who plead works as a ground of acceptance with God to the altar which is the expression of pure, unmingled, sovereign grace, without works? Here is a transient ray from that name long before declared to Moses, and now in far fuller character to all that have ears to hear. R. B.

The Psalms Book 2: 42-44

The second collection of the Psalms begins here and closes with Psa. 72 It is characterized by the prevalence of “Elohim,” as the first by that of “Jehovah “: not of course that Jehovah is absent from Book II. or that Elohim is lacking in Book I., for both occur where they are required in these books; but that the predominance of each divine term appears as just stated. Of this a comparison of Psa. 14 with Psa. 53 is a striking illustration to the sober enquirer. Yet in Psa. 14 “God” is used thrice appropriately; in Psa. 53 it is uniformly and with no less propriety “God,” and in no case Jehovah.
The reason underlying this difference is not the superficial assumption of two authors thus distinguished, which Psa. 14 dissipates as mere windy talk, but that the second book contemplates the Jews as driven from Jerusalem, and the house of God then in possession of His enemies both Gentile and Jewish. Those whose cry to Him is given in these psalms of book II. are no longer in the enjoyment of the ordinary privileges of the covenant through the apostacy of Jewish as well as the oppression of Gentile foes. Hence they are cast on the Unfailing faithfulness, mercy, and goodness of God. Thereby a deepening work goes on in their souls, as they learn more of what God is intrinsically when His outward blessings are cut off and the worst evil seems to prosper; and this most painfully to them, in the circumcised still in Jerusalem, under the man of sin seating himself as God in the temple of God.
Hence we may notice that the sons of Korah appear first in the inscriptions, though there are many of David, that most fertile of singers and with the most varied experience expressed in his songs; and Asaph is not wanting, though abundant in book 3 where a few psalms for the sons of Korah come in before the end. It suffices here to recall the awful crisis in Israel's history when Korah's sons were saved so as by fire. Compare Num. 16 with Num. 26:11. Mercy that day gloried against judgment, as it will in the future when the power of evil appears so overwhelming that judgment might appear the sole possible issue. If testimony fails to Jehovah for the present, God cannot cease to be God and infinitely good; and who more suited to sing than the delivered sons of the rebellious Levite? So it was in a measure in David's time, when most clouded; so it will be in days to come, when all things come out definitively and fatally for man on earth, before the Man of Peace reigns over it publicly in power.
In harmony with this peculiarity even Messiah is acknowledged in this book as “God,” and His throne as forever and ever, Psa. 45:7 (6); yet the same psalm both before and after fully shows His manhood, and consequently both blessing and anointing by God. This may be a difficulty to an unbeliever; it is the essential truth of His person to every Christian's heart. But as a whole it is a clear anticipation of His Messianic victories and reign, yet suitably to the book of which it forms a part. So Most High occurs in Psa. 46; for His supremacy is before the heart at that fearful time when “God” is the sole refuge, no matter what the desolations, no matter how the nations rage. In the psalm following Most High is coupled not with El, but with Jehovah, and this a call to all the peoples, though “God” is still the prevailing term.
So it is even in the touching psalm of Messiah's sufferings (69): He begins with “God” and ends with “God,” though Jehovah occurs with the usual fitness. It is even so in the closing psalm “of Solomon,” the beautiful melody for the millennial day, when “the prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” Christ had sorrows set forth in Psa. 69, no less than in Psa. 22 which is the characteristic psalm of His sufferings suitable for book 1. As Christians we are entitled to enter into His mind in both; but it ought to need no argument to prove that the latter has a closer application to ourselves (especially in vers. 22-24, A. and R. Vv.); whereas Psa. 69 passes by our present blessing, and anticipates the judgment of His foes and God's saving Zion and building the cities of Judah, when heaven and earth praise Jehovah, the seas and everything that moved.) therein. The death and the resurrection of Christ do not appear in this book; but in Psa. 68 is His exaltation on high that He might dwell among the rebellious: what grace to them what glory His!
Psalm 42
“To the chief musician. Instruction. For the sons of Korah. As the hart longeth after the brooks of water, so my soul longeth after thee, O God. My soul hath thirsted for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been food for me by day and by night, whilst they say unto me all the day, Where [is] thy God? These things I remember and pour out my soul within me, how I passed with the crowd, and went on with them to the house of God, with the voice of singing and praise, a festive multitude. Why art thou cast down, my soul, and disquieted within me? Wait for God, for I shall yet praise him [for] the help [or, health, lit. salvations] of his countenance. My God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore do I remember thee from the land of the Jordan and the Hermons, from mount Mizar. Deep calleth to deep at the noise of thy cataracts; all thy breakers and thy rollers are gone over me. By day Jehovah will command his lovingkindness, and by night his song shall be with me, a prayer unto the God of my life! I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of mine enemy? With a sword in my hones mine oppressors have reproached me, when they say unto me all the day, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Wait for God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God” (vers. 1-12).
Psalm 43
“Judge me, O God, and plead my cause with an ungodly nation; from a man of deceit and iniquity deliver me. For thou art the God of my refuge; why hast thou cast me off? Why do I walk mourning under the oppression of the enemy? Send out thy light and thy truth: they shall lead me, they shall bring me unto the mountain of thy holiness and unto thy tabernacles. And I will go unto the altar of God, unto God the gladness of my joy; and I will give thanks unto thee on the harp, O God, my God. Why art thou cast down, my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Wait for God, for I shall yet praise him, the help of my countenance, and my God” (vers. 1-5).
These are clearly companion psalms, and so under one title. The prophetic aspect is the remnant cast out or fled: compare with Matt. 24:15 et seqq., Mark 13:14 &c., Joel 2:17. The historic occasion was when David and his faithful following abandoned Jerusalem under Absalom's conspiracy. The closing days of our Lord had in the highest degree this character, though modified by other considerations; for what sorrows had not He, the Holy One of God? Yet the former of the twain is more general and looks at Gentile enemies as much as or more than any; whereas the force of the later psalm is the complaint against the Jews as “an ungodly nation.” Professedly holy (in the sense here of piety from being the object of divine mercy), they had none; they were now goi lo-chasid. How true, yet how bitter, that the driven out godly ones should so speak to God of the chosen people! And so in fact it will be. The one psalm without the other could not adequately express the grief of the remnant at this juncture, when the Antichrist sets up the abomination of desolation in the sanctuary, instigated and protected the Beast (or Emperor of the Western powers). See Rev. 13 The thirst here is to drink once more of the waters, whence the abominable amalgam of Gentile self-will and Jewish apostacy had driven them out; so they confidently expect from God Who cannot deny Himself, and loves His people.
Psalm 44
“To the chief musician. For the sons of Korah. Instruction. O God, with our ears have we heard, our fathers have declared unto us the work thou didst work in their days, in the days of old. Thou by thy hand didst drive out the Gentiles, and plant them; thou didst evil to nations, and didst spread them out. For not with their sword did they inherit the land, nor did their arm deliver them; but thy right hand and thine arm and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst pleasure in them. Thou [art] he, my King, O God; command deliverances [lit. salvations] for Jacob. By thee will we push down our adversaries; in thy name will we tread under foot them that rise up against us. For not in my bow will I trust, and my sword shall not save me. For thou hast saved us from our adversaries, and those that hate us thou hast put to shame. In God have we praised all the day, and we will give thanks to thy name forever. Selah.”
“But thou hast cast off and put unto shame and goest not forth with our hosts. Thou had made us turn back from the adversary, and those that hate us have spoiled for themselves. Thou givest us as sheep [for] food, and among the Gentiles hast Thou scattered us. Thou sellest thy people for naught [lit. without wealth], and hast not increased by their price. Thou settest us a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to those that are around us. Thou settest us a by-word among the Gentiles, a shaking of the head among the nations. All the day my shame [is] before me, and the confusion of my face hath covered me, for the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth, because of the enemy and avenger. All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, and we have not been false in thy covenant. Our heart is not turned back, nor hath our step declined from thy path, that thou hast broken us in the place of dragons [or, jackals] and hast covered us with death-shadow. If we have forgotten the name of our God and have stretched out our hands to a strange god, will not God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart. For because of thee are we killed all the day; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Awake: why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, cast not off forever. For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaveth to the earth. Arise, a help unto us, and redeem us because of thy mercy” (vers.. 1-27).
From their now outcast condition, which they knew to be just, they cry to God, Who had done all the good their fathers had ever experienced; and God abides the same, he is their God.

In Him a Well of Water

John 4:14
To the unrenewed mind there is nothing so foreign as grace. God's grace to a sinner seems to a moral man making light of sin; and therefore the higher his idea of divine holiness, and the greater his reverence, the less is it credible. The sinner himself regards it as too good to be true. Only when we stand convicted in our own consciences before God, revealed as He is in Jesus, do we believe it; and only as we walk by faith, are we enabled to use His grace without abusing it. Nothing so needful to the sinner, nothing so blessed to the saint, as grace, unless it be the God of grace in Christ, the source and fullness and display of it all in the Only-begotten.
Here the woman of Samaria was at first bewildered, though struck and attracted by the wondrous Man that brought God so near her in compassionate love to meet her sin, misery, and want. She answers the expression of infinite grace with the difficulties she considers insuperable. “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: whence then hast thou this living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” (vers. 11, 12.) It was but natural thought and natural religion; wholly inadequate for man's case, now that he was sinful and an outcast from God; and how much less adequate for God, dishonored and disobeyed, unknown and disliked, because He must judge sins? What then must become of the sinner? How can he save himself?
Jesus spoke of another well incomparably deeper, of which as yet she had no comprehension. Jesus had—yea, was—everything to draw with; Jesus has and gives the living water. He is the Son of the Father, and entitled to give the believer eternal life, and, more than that, the Holy Spirit as the power of enjoying it in fellowship with the Father and the Son; and all this on earth now, in spite of what we naturally are, by virtue of His redemption. He is both the life eternal and the propitiation for our sins. He had the living water as the Son; He could and would give it to the poorest sinner that believes the gospel as the Savior of the world, fruit of His sufferings unto death of the cross, and of His resurrection.
“Greater than our father Jacob"! ay, immeasurably greater than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; than Moses, Aaron, and Samuel; than Noah, Daniel, and Job; than all the saintly men and women that ever were; than Michael and all angels and principalities, to say nothing of powers. For He is God, the eternal Word, the Only-begotten of the Father. He is therefore divinely competent as He is absolutely reliable. And He is full of grace and truth—the very thing that lost man has not and can find nowhere else. Could the law, truly of God as it was, save the guilty? It could only condemn; and to this an awakened soul sorrowfully but humbly and thoroughly submits. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which is lost. Is not this grace, the saving grace of God?
But no one receives it who doubts the full glory of Christ's person. For indeed there is otherwise no sufficient basis before God for sinful man. No mere man could dispense the living water. The Samaritan saw Jesus wearied with the journey, sitting just as He was at the fountain; and she heard Him to her surprise ask of her to drink, though then she judged Him but a Jew, though she could not but feel increasingly as He spoke how extraordinary He was. Come of woman indeed He was to save lost man, come under law to redeem those under law, that either and both might receive sonship as a gift of God's grace, and not this only but the Spirit of God's Son sent out into their hearts, crying Abba, Father. This could only be because Jesus is the Son of God, as no other is or could be, though by grace every believer is truly child and by adoption son of God.
Hence, that the faith should be of divine source and character, the necessity of believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (1 John 5:1, 5). As yet, the Samaritan was in the dark, though moved and drawn by His gracious ways and words; and so she understood not His words no less plain than marvelous. God's grace was no more believed than Christ's person, and thus the blessing was to her inscrutable. Yet to her unbelieving and unintelligent question the Lord replies with what, when she did believe, would prove a truth full of comfort to man as of goodness from God. “Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water which I shall give him shall never thirst. But the water which I shall give him shall become in him a well [or, fountain] of water springing up into eternal life” (vers. 13, 14).
The Lord thus explains more clearly than ever how the living water is the great supernatural gift man needs. The water of an earthly spring, however good, like every natural boon, lasts but for the moment. It quenches thirst, only to recur soon and constantly, as is the nature of all things seen and temporal. The soul, immortal as it is, needs more to satisfy, as God delights in giving when He is looked to in felt want. But here the Lord vouchsafes what satisfies the believer and God Himself, what forms a blessed and permanent and intimate relationship with the Son and the Father. It is not only eternal life, as in John 3, but the Spirit of adoption given, and therefore said to become in him, the believer, a fountain of water springing up into eternal life. Not only are creature things no longer an object of desire, but a fountain of divine refreshment is within through the indwelling Spirit, Who ever leads the believer to worship by His own power, to rejoice in Christ Jesus, and to have no confidence in the flesh. It is not holy longings only as of old, but present possession and enjoyment by virtue of Christ come and redemption. It is inexhaustible and leads the soul to the sources on high.
My reader, have you thus found rest and everlasting joy in the Son of God? The Holy Spirit is given, now that His atoning blood is accepted for the believer, to glorify Him. It is as free as air, but only to faith in Christ. “Whosoever"! Forsake not your own mercies; despise not God's grace. Receive Christ, believing on His name: and all is yours forever. For God Who calls is faithful.

Hebrews 7:1-3

The portion on which we enter develops the type of Melchisedec as far as it applies to Christ in heaven and the Christian portion. The future earthly part is but hinted at and in no way opened out.
“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, that met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham assigned a tenth of all, first being interpreted king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace, without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but likened to the Son of God, abideth a priest continually” (Heb. 7:1-3).
Here the Spirit of God gives us a fine sample of unfolding an incident of the Old Testament in the light of the New. The glory of Christ as ever is the true key, without which the mind of God in His word is never apprehended. And it is striking to see that the reticence of scripture is only less instructive than its disclosures. All has to be weighed; but who is sufficient for these things? Our sufficiency is of God, Who now works in us who believe by the same Spirit that inspired both Testaments, and works to glorify (not the Christian nor the church, blessed as both are, but) Christ, Whose grace and glory are the substance of our best blessings.
In Gen. 14 we have the last notice of the public life of Abraham as chosen and called out to walk in faith of God's promises; for chap. 15. begins the dealings of God with him personally. The occasion was the rescue of Lot carried away, family and goods, with the rest of his neighbors whose worldly advantages he had coveted. The man of simple faith and self-sacrifice, of whom he had taken advantage (chap. 13.) unhesitatingly pursues and vanquishes the victorious kings of the east. Thereon appears Melchisedec, the more unexpectedly as there is not the smallest ground to doubt that he was a prince akin to the guilty race that soon after were punished by the most solemn judgment of God. Yet was he not an idolater, but priest of the most high God. “And Melchisedec, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (vers. 18-20).
The all-important truth to grasp is that the Epistle reasons solely on “the order” of Melchisedec in contrast with that of Aaron. When it speaks of the exercise of priesthood, Aaron is the type and not Melchisedec; and then we hear of sacrifice and intercession, of bloodshedding and a sanctuary, with the Levitical ritual in general. Self-evidently all this has no relation to Melchisedec, only to Aaron as typifying the Lord's present action above, grounded on His atoning work for sin.
The exercise of the royal priesthood looks on to the earth in a future day, when the Man Whose name is the Branch shall build the temple of Jehovah, even He shall build the temple of Jehovah, and He shall bear majesty, and He shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne; and a counsel of peace shall be between Them both. Of that day Hos. 2:14-23 is a bright witness: only here it is according to His title of Jehovah. “And it shall be at that day, saith Jehovah, thou shall call Me my Husband, and thou shalt call me no more Baali [my Master]. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth [He will be in fact and affection El-Elyon, the Most High God], and they shall no more be remembered by their names. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground; and I will break bow and sword and battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know Jehovah. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith Jehovah. I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn and the new wine and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto Me in the land, and I will have mercy upon Lo-ruhama, and I will say to Lo-Ammi, My people thou; and they shall say, My God.”
This will be the kingdom of God, not in the moral sense which applies now and always, of which our Lord (Matt. 6:33) and the apostle Paul (Rom. 14:17) speak, but in the future display when adversaries are put down. Our Epistle alludes to it as the habitable earth, or world, to come (chap. 2.), and as the age to come (chap. 6), as indeed in other forms most expressive. It is the great goal of prophecy whether in the Old Testament or in the New. Great must be the gap for his soul who does not look onward to triumph for mercy and truth, for righteousness and glory, not in heaven only but on this earth placed under our Lord Jesus, when Israel shall be by grace repentant and subject, and thus fitted to fill their allotted place in that day as God's people, His son, His firstborn (Ex. 4:22), and the Gentiles, humbled by divine judgments as well as by unmerited and inexhaustible goodness, shall know that Jehovah sanctifies Israel, with His sanctuary in their midst forever. The glory of the Lord manifested here below will be the answer to His sufferings and shame; and those who in faith and love have shared the latter shall enjoy the former, reigning with Him over the earth. This is not the eternal state, but the kingdom for a thousand years before eternity begins or that judgment of the dead, the wicked dead, which precedes it.
Nor has any one an adequate conception of the coming kingdom of God, who does not look for it administered by the risen Lord in person, the glorified saints being on high, Israel and the nations here below. For there are earthly things as well as heavenly. Of this the Lord reminded Nicodemus, teacher of Israel though he was (John 3:3, 5, 12); and many more in Christendom need to be reminded of it now. For men are ever apt to be occupied with their own things, and easily confound this purpose of God for Christ's glory with a vague and general view of eternity. But doctrinal scripture is as distinct and indisputable as the prophetic word. “For the earnest expectation of the creation” (expressly distinguished from ourselves also having the firstfruits of the Spirit) “waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God"; which without doubt is when we follow Christ out of heaven and are manifested with Him in glory (Rom. 8:18-25, Col. 3:4, Rev. 17:14; 19:14). This indeed is the regeneration (Matt. 19:28), that age, and the resurrection from the dead (Luke 9:35) when the Father's kingdom is come from above, and His will is done on earth as in heaven; yet it is not the end when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, but His reigning till He put all the enemies under His feet. And it is plain that death as last enemy is not annulled till just before the great white throne. For the millennium, however blessed beyond example, is not absolutely perfect like the eternity which it ushers in. See 1 Cor. 15 and Isa. 65.
One of the most distinctive marks of that day, dispensation of the fullness of the times, is God's heading or summing up all in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth. No doubt as we are children of God, so are we His heirs and joint-heirs with Christ, the Heir of all things. Hence we are here said (Eph. 1:10-11) to have obtained inheritance, which will be manifested in that day; for the glory that the Father has given Him, He has given us, though we have to wait, in a hope that does not make ashamed. (John 17; Rom. 5) He that descended is the same that ascended far above all the heavens that He might fill all things. By Him the sacrificial work is done to reconcile all things to God, whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens; and meanwhile we have been already reconciled, so as to await with joy His coming in glory. But when He does come, He with His glorified bride will take the universe, heavenly and earthly, as the scene of His glory. To make His kingdom the earth only is as false as to confine it to heaven. Scripture excludes the narrowness of either view, one of which obtained in sub-apostolic times, as the other in modern. The truth, as usual, is larger than all; and the truth demands both, worthily to magnify the Lord Who is the true Melchisedec and will bring forth bread and wine to refresh the returning victors. For there and then too captivity will be led captive. The faith that unselfishly refused the world conquers the world that had for a while the upper hand.
Such is the action of the Royal Priest in that day: not offering sacrifice, nor incense burning, but suited refreshment when the victory is won at the end of the age, and God proves Himself the Most High, the highest else being overthrown. It is emphatically blessing, as that day will be its irrefutable evidence. And the word of blessing is twofold: Abram (representing Israel as their father) blessed on the part of the Most High God, “the possessor of heavens and earth"; and on the other side, “blessed be the Most High, Who delivered thine enemies into thine hand,” Melchisedec thereon receiving tithes as duly and gratefully rendered.
But in Hebrews, as we may see, what is future exercise is barely alluded to. It is beautifully pointed out how significant is the name and place: “first being interpreted king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.” For this alone can be according to God, whether for heaven or for earth, for the Christian now or for Israel by-and-by: no true peace save on a basis of accepted righteousness flow blessed and sure this as every believer ought to know. What is dwelt on mainly is the order of this priest in contrast with Aaron's order, where limits of age and succession were indispensable. Here it is one sole ever living Priest: “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” Not of course that as a matter of fact Melchisedec had not parents, forefathers if not descendants, birth and death, as other men. For the notion of an angel, or divine power, or Christ, are as absurd as that of Shem, &c. Scripture intentionally veils all these; and the priest-king suddenly appears on the scene and vanishes from the inspired history, so as to furnish the typical shadow of our Lord as the Royal Priest. Hence he is said to be “likened, or assimilated, to the Son of God": language quite improper, if the Son of God had then really appeared. All we see of him is that “he abides a priest continually.” Nothing else is recorded. There is no preparatory record, and no sequel to the story. He is a king-priest without a hint of terminating his office or devolving it on a successor. He abides a priest for continuance, or without a break, the contrast of the Aaronic line.

The Gospel and the Church: 19. The Power of Binding and Loosing

The words “binding” and “loosing” signify power in both ways. The religious as well as the natural flesh loves power and authority, and each uses it sometimes “with a vengeance.”
To whom does the power of “binding” rightly belong? Every believer will agree with me in saying, To Him who “bound the strong man and spoiled him of his goods.” And who has the power of “loosing”? He alone Who said to that daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound those eighteen years, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” He Who recalled Lazarus from death and corruption into life and said, “Loose him, and let him go; “He Who Himself was “loosed from the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it” —to Him alone rightly belongs the power of “binding” and “loosing.” If it has pleased Him, during His absence from this earth, to delegate part of His powers to His apostles and disciples or to the church, who would dispute His right of doing so? But He alone is and remains the source of all power and authority. He Who gave them can withdraw them again, and has done so, where that power and authority had been abused by unfaithful stewards and false shepherds or by Laodicean indifference for self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment and oppression of the flock of Christ.
“Unto him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not, even that which he hath (or, as the Gospel of Luke has it, “which he seemeth to have”) shall be taken away from him.”
Let us now consider:
What is the character and purpose of the power of “binding” and “loosing”?
To whom was it given?
For what time was it given?
1. Their Character And Purpose.
The former is indicated by the very words themselves. To “bind” some one means to take away his liberty. To “loose” him means to give him back his liberty. Through sin man became Satan's slave, bound by the fetters of sin. By faith and regeneration he is set free from that terrible bondage and becomes in the liberty wherewith Christ makes us free, the willing and cheerful servant of God and Christ. The natural man is spiritually and bodily a prisoner, bound by Satan. God in His wisdom may permit Satan even outwardly to make manifest the terribleness of those bonds, as in the case of the demoniac and of the lunatic (Matt. 17:15-21), and of that daughter of Abraham who had been bound eighteen years.
But there are other bonds, those of legal bondage and fear, as expressed in the 7th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Satan and the law (however good and holy the latter) can bind but not loose, i.e., set free. Christ delivers from both, “having found an eternal redemption.” He alone, Who “has ascended on high and led captivity captive,” possesses the supreme power for “binding” and “loosing.” He will ere long bind and shut up in the “bottomless pit” Satan, the prince of this world, who keeps the world chained in the bonds of sin and of the fear of death, “that he may deceive the nations no more.” But after the millennial reign of Christ Satan will be “loosed out of his prison” and make manifest that man, even after a millennial blessing, ever remains the same; whereupon the “deceiver of the nations” and “accuser of the brethren” will be assigned to his final doom in the “lake of fire and brimstone forever and ever.”
But Christ, Who holds the supreme power of “binding” and “loosing” as He holds all power in heaven and on earth, can, as observed already, transfer upon others a part of it according to His good pleasure, as a king may transfer part of his power upon substitutes of higher or lower degree. So Christ, as Son over His own house, has for the purpose of discipline in the church during His absence, delegated to others part of His power and authority; be it for “binding” in cases where the honor and authority of our great Deliverer from the bonds of Satan, sin, and death, and judgment, and the holiness becoming His house have been practically disregarded by one of His redeemed; or be it for “loosing” where the “binding” has had its intended effect and the stray repentant sheep returns to the good “Shepherd and bishop of our souls.”
The “binding” may be of a spiritual or of a bodily character or both, as in the case of the sinner at Corinth, or even extend unto death, as with Ananias and Sapphira. In 2 Cor. 2:5-11 we have the “loosing,” as in 1 Cor. 5 the “binding.”
Sin binds, i.e., deprives of liberty. One who has sinned against God does not feel free before Him. We find this already with Adam and Eve as the effect of the first sin. They endeavored to hide themselves from God. If some one has sinned against his neighbor, he feels no longer free in his presence, but restrained and oppressed. Repentance and confession remove the pressure and restore liberty and easiness. So it is between God and us, and in our communion one with another. But if the one who sins will not confess it nor judge himself for it (I speak of course of believers), the Lord has graciously provided a way of binding the sin on the heart and conscience of the impenitent one, to make him feel its burden, by giving power to His own to exclude him not only from fellowship with the assembly but even with Him Who is in the midst, Matt. 18:18, thus depriving him, till he repents, of all liberty and joy, and so to bind him
2. Upon Whom Has The Lord Conferred The Power Of “Binding” And “Loosing”?
The Gospel of Matthew is the only part of the New Testament speaking of that power. In chap. 16 Jesus had announced to that “adulterous generation” which desired a “sign from heaven,” the “sign of the prophet Jonah,” so fatal for Israel, i.e., the death and resurrection of their rejected and crucified Messiah. Then “He left them and departed.” All was over with Israel. It was night. But in the same chapter the Lord shows to His disciples the morning dawn of the church, saying, “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” But as to Peter himself, the Lord adds the special personal promise, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." That promise was given to the apostle Peter personally, evidently in close connection with the power of the keys for Israel and the Gentiles.
And in chapter 18 of the Gospel of Matthew, where we behold the morning red of the church, so to speak, the Lord says, “Verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Here the Lord confers the power of “binding” and “loosing” on all His own, i.e., on the disciples then with Him, and on every assembly; for His words are here in close connection with what He said just before and after.
But we must not forget what the Lord adds immediately after, which naturally brings to the third question:
For What Time Was The Power Of “Binding” And “Loosing” Given?
To the Lord's apostles and His then disciples it was, of course, given for their lifetime, and also to the churches existing in the days of the apostles. But Christ, knowing before what use an unfaithful church in fleshly self-elevation would make of the privilege of the power of binding and loosing, has added the gracious promise, “Where two or three are gathered unto My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Wonderful privilege of grace, granted by the glorious Head of the church, foreseeing these days of deepest decline, even to two or three (the smallest number to constitute an assembly) who look up to Him from the ruins, as themselves forming a part of them, in the sense of their own weakness and our common shame. What are two or three thousand without Christ in their midst? Nothing but so many cyphers without a figure before them. Put the figure 1 before them, and it makes with the two following “naughts” one hundred, and three of them one thousand.
But think you, Christian reader, that the Lord will put His seal upon the decisions of gatherings small or great, and grant them the power of “binding” and “loosing,” which are founded on human statutes and ordinances, or such as were originally founded on scriptural ground, but have left the way of truth and followed man's will instead of the word of God? Never! That would mean setting His seal to what is contrary to His own word. Or could He recognize church actions. on the part of meetings which had been gathered according to scriptural principles, but have sunk to such a degree of moral and spiritual degradation that they have become destitute of spiritual discernment? Impossible. That would be nothing less than making Christ the servant of sin. It was Paul, but not the church at Corinth, who delivered the wicked person “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." The Corinthians, as every assembly of God, were responsible to “put away from among themselves that wicked person,” but could not “deliver him unto Satan.” Only the apostle as such could do this. But in the Corinthians “godly sorrow had wrought repentance not to be repented of” (2 Cor. 7); or they would not have been able to exercise “loosing” discipline in the power of the Holy Ghost and with the seal of Christ's authority.
To exclude or receive persons after the good pleasure of human leaders or of a party is easy enough; but such “bindings” and “loosings” are not recognized in heaven. J. A. von P.

Scripture Imagery: 87. Israel's Diet

In regard to the quadrupeds selected and rejected then we can see a fair evidence of a spiritual application, but that may not be quite so obvious in regard to the fish and birds.
A fish to be accepted must have both scales and fins. The scales were considered by Agassiz to be of sufficient importance to form a basis on which to distinguish the different species, and this basis has been generally accepted. They form a bright, strong, flexible, defensive armor, and may remind one of Eph. 6:11. With this armor the fish are more hardy, and less liable to be injured and influenced by passing external impressions. The fins are serviceable for balancing, guiding and staying. (Of course all fish swim through the water by means of the tail, therefore fins can—in a way—be done without, as far as mere progress goes.) In addition to this the fins are rudiments of higher powers. We see this in the development of the pectoral fins into a kind of limb in the climbing perch, and into a kind of wing in the flying gurnard and Exo Volitans. Fins consequently suggest a nature which has poise and self-control, and has also in itself the impulses and rudiments of faculties which belong to a higher existence, a life in a celestial sphere. We need not believe in the evolutionary dogma, that one animal changes into another just because it has rudiments of faculties which that other possesses, any more than that a kettle will ultimately become a teapot because it has a spout: still there is a relationship between the wing and the fin which is traced back even to the saurians of the paleozoic times, and there is an embryo wing implanted even in the most unlikely places, as in caterpillars. The human caterpillar, feeling his proneness, sighs, “O that I had wings like a dove!” Some day perhaps, when he has passed through the chrysalis stage, they will come.
The birds of prey are excluded—"... the vulture and the kite after his kind, every raven after his kind.” These feed not only on death like the carnivora, but on corruption. This is the nature that finds delight in the contemplation and appropriation of what is not only dead but foul and putrid. But is there any such nature? Unfortunately we know too well that there is, and when we stand outside the cage of a bird like the African “Sociable Vulture,” and see it plunge its reeking beak in some loathsome carrion, we are apt to wonder what enjoyment it finds in that. But this is typical. There are European Sociable Vultures as well who feed on garbage, it may be.
All of this description are unclean, whether they are characterized by power and dignity like the eagle, cruelty like the hawk, impudence like the cuckoo, or the ponderous and shallow gravity, the stupid wisdom, of the owl. “I don't believe,” said Fox, “any living man is half so wise as Lord T—— looks.” Amongst them all there is none so impressive looking as the owl—to those that do not know that his omniscience is only parochial; that his attitude of grave impartial rebuke is only the fear to commit himself; that his preference for the twilight is not because he loves meditation (for he is only dozing when he looks so thoughtful), nor because of his exceptional devoutness, but simply because he is always confused by the daylight. His demeanor of calm disparagement does not mean a bit that he is superior in sanctity to everyone else: it only means that he thinks himself so. It is the general censoriousness which characterizes this predaceous nature. We can forgive him much on account of his purblindness, but surely it is going too far when, like the mantis religiosa, he spells “pray” with an “e,” instead of with an “a.”
A habit of inherent fault-finding is one of the most commonly known features of this nature and one of the most rapidly developed. But it finds faults not so much from a desire to correct them as that, from a natural aptitude, it looks for them in every direction (except inwardly). It loves to pick up morsels of evil from all sides, and whilst shaking its head over them and appearing to condemn them, quietly puts them in the mouth, masticates and ruminates them. Finally, whatsoever things are untrue, whatsoever things are dishonest...unjust...impure...unlovely and of bad report; if there be any vice; if there be any blame, the carrion-feeding nature thinks on these things. The elements of all these evil tendencies are of course in each of us. But if we have also been granted new natures, we have the power to “reckon dead” and “make no provision for the flesh.” Was not old Ulysses right (to speak as a man) when he smote down the scurrilous Thersites with rough blows, and Achilles when he slew him?
But oh, for the wings of the dove “covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold!” “Though we have lien among the pots” yet may we be so. “Not as a raven but a dove The Holy Ghost came from above,” —that wisdom which is from above, first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. It is simple concerning evil, wise concerning that which is good. Far from the carrion-feeding natures, it rejoices not in iniquity, but in the truth, imputes no evil but hopes all things and believes all things. Nay, even when the evil is unquestionably there, it is slow to see it, as to which we read even of the Most Blessed, that if He should mark iniquities who shall stand; that He had not seen iniquity in Jacob nor perverseness in Israel... (though there was little else there). The Lord, I think, would be well pleased to see more of the same nature in us all; that we might have dove's eyes and not vulture's. Thus the Bridegroom says, “Behold thou art fair, my love; behold thou art fair; thou hast dove's eyes within thy locks!”
In general too, all creeping things—all crawling, prone, and groveling natures—are rejected. But if they “had legs above their feet to leap withal upon the earth” like the locusts, they were accepted. For these had an inherent power that could overleap those earthly obstacles that the absolutely prone nature is stopped by. “If you cannot plow through the log,” Abraham Lincoln used to say, “plow round it.” It is better still when there is that inward faculty, which he himself possessed so largely, that enables us to rise over it.
J.C.B.

Ritualistic Misuse of Incarnation

To make the blessed truth of Incarnation (the source indeed of all our blessings) to be, not the display of divine life as of God Himself in man, but in that state the medium of communication to others as imparted to humanity, as a reconstructing of it in this form (declaring that rationalism, or the power of the human spirit, is the only alternative), is apostacy from the true foundations of Christian truth and a denial of the real effect of the fall, of the condition of the sinner under it, and of the true need of the death of Christ in order to our participation in life. “Except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have no life in you,” that is, you cannot be associated with Him living. It is a Savior by means of death that will introduce you to God.
I am aware that it is urged as regards baptism, that by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. Now, in the first place, the one body into which they are baptized here is the unity of the church; and the truth is that 1 Cor. 12:13 does not speak of baptism by water but very definitely of baptism “with the Spirit.” “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (cf. John 1:33.) This, we know, was accomplished at Pentecost. When Cornelius is called by grace, he receives the Holy Ghost as they did at the first-called baptism of the Spirit (Acts 11:16), and thereon is baptized or received into the visible church on earth. In 1 Cor. 12 The subject expressly treated of is spiritual power, πνευματικά, the baptism of the Holy Ghost by which, the Head being exalted on high, all are brought into the unity of the same body, and exercise the gifts through the Spirit given to members of the body.
Baptism by water is nowhere spoken of as engrafting into the unity of the body. The Lord's Supper is the expression of this truth though not of this alone. We are all one body, for we are partakers of that one bread (loaf). But no such thought is connected with baptism. It is simply death and resurrection, terms applicable to individuals. We are baptized to His death, buried with Him by baptism to death. It may be the natural consequence of putting on Christ, but the act is individual: the individual puts on, Christ. It is the sign of his regeneration in the death and resurrection of Christ, whereby he is received into the visible church of God on earth. We learn in the case of Samaria that those thus received had not yet received the Holy Ghost, and Simon Magus never did though baptized; as Cornelius receiving the Spirit as the seal of faith was the warrant for his being publicly received by baptism.
Besides then its connection with the fundamental doctrine of the necessity of redemption, and of our total ruin by sin, the truth that death must come in, in order to our union with Christ, is clearly established by the characteristic institutions of the Christian religion. And it is shown that it is not by a rectifying of the old man, in connection with the filling humanity with divine power and grace by the incarnation when Jesus was in the likeness of sinful flesh by which we are regenerate in union with the Lord Christ. It is by the establishment of a new man, of which the pattern in power of life is in Christ risen and glorified, to Whose image we are to be conformed; and that consequent not only on His living in the likeness of sinful flesh (though sinless), but in His being “for sin” a sacrifice for it), so that by His death sin in the flesh was condemned (Rom. 8:3). The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, thus risen from the dead, freed us from the law of sin and death. Hence, having Christ for our life, we reckon ourselves dead and do this one thing—press toward the mark of our calling on high. The effect is the walk of a heavenly man, such as Christ was on earth, because we are in Him Who is in heaven. It is when He was raised from the dead and set in heavenly places, far above all heavens, and filling all things, that He was given to be Head over all things to the church, His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
This is the question:—Is redemption the necessary ground of our living association with the Lord Jesus Christ? Ritualism is merely the old effort of Judaism against the doctrine of Paul—the doctrine of a full salvation through a dead and exalted Savior. The not thus holding the Head, as risen with Christ, is the cause of insisting on ordinances, as though we were alive in the world in connection with the old man, that is “in the flesh,” and not as risen before God in the Spirit. J.N.D.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:5-7

Following up the summary of ver. 4, the peculiar condition of the vegetable kingdom is brought before us just before Adam comes from the hand of God. There is no warrant hence to predicate it of previous ages, even though a similar principle may apply. But all that the text states is that so it was at this time for the abode in immediate preparation for Adam, when Jehovah Elohim made earth and heavens.
“And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for Jehovah Elohim had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground, but a mist went up from the earth and moistened all the surface of the ground. And Jehovah Elohim formed Man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils breath of life [lit., lives]; and Man became a living soul” (ver. 5-7).
It seems clear that it is the description of plants and herbs of the third day's production, before man, the head of creation, appeared. Like man they were of full growth, and not from seed as ever since. It is not a repetition of the general fact of their origin as in chap. 1., but, like all else in chap. 2. from its true beginning, a presentation of special circumstances is here added in the only right place. On the one hand, it is not denied on geological evidence that rain can be proved to have fallen at least as far back as the carboniferous period, however immense the lapse of ages before man. On the other hand, it has been contended that it was a circumstance quite unworthy of notice that the inspired historian should notice these explanatory particulars of vegetation now existing for a few natural days without rain or culture. Evidently this is merely a difficulty and an effort on behalf of the theory of periodistic days. The admirable condescension and interest of Him Who is here shown entering into gracious relations with man are manifested by the intimation, which, in the vast geologic ages, would seem not only unmeaning but untrue. Whatever may have been the divine method before such relations could be, it was of importance for man to know authoritatively that Jehovah Elohim made not only earth and heavens, (changing for similar reason the actual order,) but “every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew.” These productions are specified as needful for the food of the living creatures when called into existence on earth; and there they were by God's ordering in suitable maturity, in contrast with subsequent experience. Two reasons are annexed: one that rain had not yet been caused to fall on the earth as it was now constituted; the other that man was not yet there to till the ground. Nobody could mistake, one might think, so plain a hint, but for the blinding influence of a previously conceived theory. He Who made all, even in His every arrangement, considered man and acted in view of him, now especially revealing it when He made man to know Himself in any measure and to enjoy His goodness. Hence also He would have man to know the especial provision even for that brief and peculiar while, “but there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.” This would be strange for scientific men to predicate of the vast geologic periods since vegetation first began. We may see that it is the simple truth for the few days after the third of the first week; and the naming of it here is not only in keeping with the design of the new section, but most worthy of the special place in which man is now set as recorded.
Next, we come to a revelation of transcendent moment, the formation of man, not merely as chief of the earth's denizens (chap. 1.), but for living relationship with Him Who made all. Here, not in the previous chapter, we learn the particulars of man's constitution. “And Jehovah Elohim formed Man [ha-Adam] of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils breath of life; and Man became a living soul.” To this, the apostle refers in his sublime comparison of the first man with the Second in 1 Cor. 15, which every believer should weigh well and make his own. Here it is simply the first man; but what is said is great indeed: dust from the ground the outer man; the inner animated by the breath of Jehovah Elohim. Certainly it was not everlasting life, but none the less an immortal soul. The immediate in-breathing of the Creator is the ground of its immortality. Other animals of the waters or of the earth are called souls,” and justly so; but man alone from God's in-breathing.
In Eccl. 3:21 we hear also of the “spirit of the beast,” for the beast has soul and spirit suited to its nature. The soul is the seat of will for every living creature; the spirit is its capacity. But for the beast all goes “downward to the earth,” not body only, but soul and spirit, having not only a will but also a faculty of its own. But as to man, his spirit (and so of course soul) “goeth upward;” the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Other animals when produced breathed the breath of life; man was formed externally, as clay by the potter, but did not breathe, till God gave him distinctly and immediately His own breath. Thus did he alone on earth become a living soul, the body mortal, the soul never said so to be, but what is said implying the contrary. Hence is man alone of earthly beings responsible to God. Thus the seat of his individuality and responsibility is in his soul, though the spirit, his inner capacity, goes along with it, greatly enhancing that responsibility; and the body is the outer man, a vessel for serving God or Satan, as the inner man directs.
It will be seen therefore how far they err from the truth who think that Christians only have “spirit” as well as soul and body. Even beasts have, though in them it may be but instinct, in man an incomparably higher and larger faculty, rising with the immensely higher character of man's immortal soul; whereas beasts, however wonderfully endowed according to God's will, are creatures without reason, mere animals to be taken and destroyed (2 Peter 2:12). Consciousness of “I” is in the soul, and on its real existence hangs personal identity; but capacity of reflex reasoning on that consciousness, as on every other object, is in the spirit of man; as capacity for the things of God is with “I” quickened, the power of which is in the Holy Spirit given to the Christian. It is wholly false therefore to confound mind, still more knowledge, with the soul, though the soul has a kindred spirit capable of reflection, discrimination, and all other mental operations within the order of its being. Reflective self-consciousness distinguishes man; still more does God-consciousness. “There is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8).
It makes the separate and superior position of man the more impressive, compared with all the subjects of his realm, that he adapts himself to every climate, and to all variety of food, in marked contrast with the brutes whose superficial resemblance is closest. Thus it is plain that the Chimpanzee and Orangutan (or “Hutan” probably) are of small number, limited to a few spots in Asia and Africa, and can live elsewhere, spite of the utmost care, for a short while only.
Yet, of all creatures infant man is the most helpless and dependent on care and shelter during his slow growth; yet he attains in all lands and tribes a longevity thrice as great as his nearest mythical connections. But it is the inner man that differentiates him most truly and essentially from every other earthly being, and enables him (through the family bond that is appointed him) to live above his feeble and defenseless beginning, to make good the dominion given him over fish of the sea and bird of the heavens, and every animal that moves on the earth. Let the waters swarm as they in particular do, let birds multiply on the earth ever so, men were to fill the earth and subdue it as no other being does. Nevertheless, living as he alone does by the in-breathing of God, (he only having his soul thus) is an incomparably higher privilege than all his other natural advantages put together; though in this privilege he perishes everlastingly if he defiantly repent not nor believe in the Savior, instead of submitting to Him, the Lord of all, Who is also full of grace and truth. If by faith subject to the Son, how blessed his portion now and forever, even though his human lot were “most miserable!” Eternal life, eternal redemption, eternal salvation, eternal inheritance, eternal glory: such is the Christian's roll of grace through Jesus Christ our Lord; and he is now sealed of the Spirit accordingly.

Saul

1 Samuel 14
To the professing church the history of Saul affords an instructive lesson. In it we may learn something of the conduct of the flesh when, under the most favorable circumstances, it takes the lead among the professed people of God. Far happier would it be to trace the way of the Spirit in a man subject to the will of God; but Saul reigned before David. We have already noticed that his first act, when confirmed in the kingdom, was an open transgression of the commandment of God to tarry for Samuel, and a public display that he could be independent of Him and could fulfill his kingly duties without the counsel of the Lord communicated through him. The impatience of the flesh and its desire to be unfettered in its operations thus early displayed themselves, and were accompanied with an astonishing want of conscience and with no little hollowness of heart.
At the very time when Saul was setting at naught the word of God by His prophet, he went forth to meet and salute (bless) him, apparently well satisfied with himself for showing him this outward honor. The immediate and solemn reproof which he received, the judgment that was at once pronounced on him, “thy kingdom shall not continue” (13. 13-14), are surely warnings against a too common lack of reverence and godly fear. What must it be to go ostensibly to meet and bless the Lord while living and acting contrary to His revealed will?
If Saul would not humble himself at this reproof (and there does not appear a sign of it), and if he would not take a true measure of his solitary helplessness brought about by his disobedience, the Philistines did. They could desire nothing better than for such a man to be the captain over Israel. They could ravage the country with impunity, and did at once send out spoilers in all directions; so that caves and thickets, rocks and pits, were sought for as shelter by the majority of Saul's trembling followers. The few that were left were disarmed, the king and his son only being allowed to retain their weapons. Was this in contempt? It might be so; but the over-ruling hand of the Lord brought blessing out of it for His afflicted people. Their enemies might safely trust a man after the flesh with a sword; it was another thing to leave one in the hand of a man after the Spirit, a man of simple faith, who looked not at the strength of the foe but up to God. Such was Jonathan, the reserve of grace for the hour of need. To him the Philistines were but “the uncircumcised” who had no connection with the Lord; and apart from Him all mere creatures are “as void as air.” He believed that the Lord would work for Israel, for it had pleased Him to make them His people, and there was no restraint to Him to save by many or by few. A sword in the hand of such a man (like the word of God in the hands of those who know it and use it as the sword of the Spirit) was mighty through God to the overthrow of these powerful foes. Accompanied by his armor-bearer only, he advanced upon them, and they fell before him. “And there was trembling in the host: the garrison and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked; so it was a very great trembling.”
And where was Saul? Where the flesh always is, not in the secret of the Spirit at all. Jonathan's action was altogether irregular according to nature. “He told not his father.” Significant words! He sought neither the sanction nor the co-operation of the flesh. Saul felt it, no doubt, and we fear, from subsequent events, only waited his time to resent it, and to assert his authority; for the natural heart can be cruel when its pride is wounded. In the meanwhile he could not fail to perceive that the energy of faith had brought Jonathan into a place which officially belonged to him, and the flesh is sensitive as to the maintenance of official importance. He must therefore do something; so he said to Ahiah, “Bring hither the ark of God,” as if, like Hophni and Phinehas, he could dispose of it as he pleased. Boldness to take and use the most sacred things, not as truly caring for them, but to cover ambition with the semblance of devotion, is as marked a characteristic of the flesh as its unwillingness to be subject to the word. But mark his inconsistency. When the ark was brought to him, he turned as quickly from it as from Samuel. Hearing the noise in the host of the Philistines increase, he said to the priest, “Withdraw thine hand.” The service was a short one; his impatience made it so. If the rout of the Philistines were complete before he arrived on the scene, he would have no opportunity to signalize himself. It is painful to make these discoveries in another; but they help us to form a truer judgment of ourselves. We greatly need to see self stripped of every disguise, but as it really is, and to get distinctly God's judgment of it, which has never changed. We may be sure that the lowest estimate of oneself fitly accompanies the highest enjoyment of Christ; so that repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ go and grow together.
Saul and his followers came to the battle (14:20), and we can now learn what help the flesh brings to those who are engaged in conflict with the enemies of God and His people. His first act was to put a curse on any man of Israel who should eat any food until the evening: a more effectual way of weakening them he could not devise. Jonathan discerned at once, on hearing of it, that his father was not acting in concert with the mind of God, that he was troubling and not helping them. Whence came this decree? From the written word of God defining the duties of a king in Israel (Deuteronomy 17.)? It was opposed to the spirit of it. From Samuel? He never consulted him. From the priest before the ark? He would not wait there for an answer. Confessedly it was to serve his own ends— “That I may be avenged on mine enemies.” Self was the glass through which, unhappily, he saw everything; and instead of his enemies receiving hurt, they profited by this anathema to make good their retreat; and the whole weight of it fell on Jonathan, “who heard not when the charge was given, and who put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth.” When has an anathema of the flesh not fallen on the spiritual? and when has there been a greater display of religiousness than when enforcing it? Saul made a great show of zeal for God in passing the death sentence on his son; but the people intervened and rescued him. They said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day.” Saul was saved from a great sin, but at the expense of his authority.
Humbled for the moment by his subjects and a check put upon his will, his day of probation is prolonged, and gleams of sunshine pierce through the gathering clouds. The people share in the blessing; for the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. Their brave stand also for the servant of God is not forgotten. Saul is strengthened to deliver Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them. “He fought against them on every side, and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.” We have here a lesson that the natural mind fails to understand. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” Whenever manifest blessing attends a work, the natural conclusion is that the doer of it is approved of the Lord. Facts ought to make us slow in coming to a judgment. The Lord delivered Israel twice out of the hands of the Syrians by Ahab after he had driven out Elijah at the instigation of his wife Jezebel; and Saul here gained victories over his enemies after his evil course with Samuel and Jonathan. While thankful for blessing, the Lord in these cases takes us behind the scenes, to teach us that we must fail if we judge after the sight of our eyes or the hearing of our ears. Nothing relieves us from judging everything by the word of God and the Spirit.
The last words of the chapter disclose the real state of Saul's heart at this very time; “When Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.” He hoped in this way to establish himself in the kingdom which he had forfeited. by his sin, and to aggrandize himself and his house in the view of the people, In the case of David, those who came to him were drawn by love. Not so with Saul, “he took them unto him.” He made great preparations for future service; but the final proof made by the Lord of the quality of his work disclosed its utter worthlessness. All was for self-exaltation, or fleshly importance, obtained by fleshly means, and imposing only on those who were of fleshly mind. To the remnant, whom the Lord was preparing to welcome the king after His own heart, all Saul's glory was nothing, and all his rewards were nothing (22:7). They turned their back on everything to share exile and privation with the son of Jesse. To be with him outweighed for them all the glitter of Saul's court and surroundings. This was the work of God, and so David owned it (1 Chronicles 29:11-13). It brought around him, as another has said, “an army of heroes.” As a type of Christ and of those who “go forth to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach,” what lessons are these!
The next chapter is a most serious one as to Saul, while Samuel's inspired utterance as to obedience, strikingly put into rhythmical form, makes it of imperishable value to us; but we must reserve our notice of it, if the Lord will, for another paper.

Thoughts on 1 Chronicles 22-29

The opening words of chapter 22 taken in immediate connection with ver. 28 of the preceding chapter (of which the 29th and 30th are parenthetical) show David, as it were, recognizing and bowing to the truth that neither himself could stand, nor the kingdom be established, save as the fruit of grace without the works of law. For that was the great truth stamped upon the altar built on Oman's threshing floor. It was in connection with, and the immediate sequence of, the word of grace, “It is enough, stay now thy hand,” i.e., mercy free and pure. The old altar is connected with law, and judgment, and the sword; and David is afraid. His fear is not the result of having no confidence in the Lord, but rather a tacit confession that he deserved death and could not stand before the sword. He builds an altar and turns to it where there is no angel with a drawn sword to fear, and says, “This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel.” This is the altar of thanksgiving for the mercy which rose above the law that demanded righteous judgment. With what deep feeling of heart David would say, “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 148), and while fearing the just judgment of God, yet peacefully resting upon His grace symbolized by a new altar exclaim (as in Psalm 144), “I will sing a new song unto Thee, O God.” A new altar demands and necessitates a new song. But the time was not yet come for the full display of this grace, indeed could only come by Him of Whom the Holy Spirit wrote by the pen of John, “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). So afterward Solomon and all the congregation go to the high place at Gibeon, the place of law, turning from the new altar on the threshing floor of the Jebusite, where only sovereign grace untrammeled by the requirements of the law was found. There were deeper evils in man yet to be brought into the light before God's due time came, when His grace revealed in the cross could meet the need of the worst. Therefore a little longer for Israel to continue under the law, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
This is the last attempt of Satan, recorded in Chronicles, against the kingdom during the life of David. He failed, but grace triumphed, and brings to view a better blessing, with victory through the grace of God, deliverance from the snares of the devil. Satan was bruised under his feet; and in the same manner we shall be victors, for it is written, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20)—your feet!
David's closing days are in peace, and the house of God is his uppermost thought. Though not allowed to build it, it is his part to prepare all the material, to give the patterns and appoint the order of service; and in giving these he was greater than Solomon who only built according to the prepared plan. God made David to understand (28:19), even as He made Moses understand when He showed the patterns for the service of the tabernacle, “See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:5). Besides the things, there were the twelve legions and their captains, and their monthly service. Surely all this care and minute arrangement will have its answer in the peaceful glories of Messiah's reign!
Not without a special divine purpose are all the sons of Moses reckoned among the mass of common Levites. “Now concerning Moses, the man of God [he himself is most prominent, and distinguished by that title], his sons were named of the tribe of Levi.” (23:14). No succession here of that kind of which a Judaizing Christendom boasts. His immediate successor in leading Israel into the promised land was Joshua the son of Nun. It was according to the wisdom of God in that dispensation that the sons of Aaron should inherit his honors, and ordinarily that the eldest should be high priest after him. All this necessarily passed away when the True and Great High. Priest came, Who abides forever. But to be the leader of His people was an appointment that God kept in His own immediate hand (Joshua 1:1, 2); and both were needed.
We pass over the names and the apportioned work in the following chapters; not that they are unimportant, but the full meaning of their enumeration may be only clearly seen when all shall be accomplished under the reign of the true Solomon. But we may be allowed to point out that in all this the singers have a prominent place (25. is all about the singers). How the Lord delights in the songs of His people! He names the families of the singers, and gives through David the psalms to be sung; and so we read as the heading to most, if not all, of the psalms, “To the chief musician,” &c. Is it only Israel who is called to sing? Is it not so now, while the church, the future grand choir of the courts above, is now below? Yea, “Rejoice in the Lord alway, again I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
In the presence of the assembled chiefs David encourages and warns his son: a word for him, but as in their hearing, for them also. Solomon was foremost among them, and the earthly link between Jehovah and the people. But this picture of the future glory and the kingdom will be soon dimmed; for the glory of its then appearance is to be committed to the hand of man. Will he maintain it? Solomon is warned that his present glory and magnificence, which was not of his own acquiring but a special gift from God, would soon pass away if he were not faithful. And with the glory of the king would pass away the happiness of the people. How intimately the king's glory, the kingdom's prosperity, the people's joys and obedience to the law of God are interwoven; and he, Solomon, would be responsible for all. How earnestly David exhorts him to be faithful and to take heed (28:1-10).
David in the presence of all the congregation blesses the Lord, ascribing all his glory to God. The people and he were but strangers and sojourners as all their fathers were. And of the gold and silver which they had so abundantly given, after all it was what God had already given them, and he acknowledges God's claim over it all; “for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.” How beautiful and acceptable to God this low but only right place of humility and thanksgiving; how different from the human boastful spirit that led him to number Israel (21.)! But now he has reached the end of his course, a point where for the display of the future glory of God's King he must give place to another. He has risen, step by step, through changing scenes, through sorrows and victories, and not without slips, personally to this point where Israel are now found worshipping God, and the joy is great, “And (they) did eat and drink before the Lord on that day with great gladness” (29:22).
In this joyful festive scene how apparently abrupt the transition appears from David to Solomon. The man of war makes room for the prince of peace. David vanishes, as it were, swallowed up in the glory (we may say that in the person of his son), clothed upon with immortality; not here in the typical scene taken away by death, but, as the poets sing, like the star of the morning absorbed in the surpassing light of the rising sun. Surely a fitting close for him who was chosen to be a type of the Lord as a Man of war; and more by this divine silence was he honored than was Jacob when all the elders of Egypt, with the chariots and horsemen, followed him to his grave. Nor need we ask how, for it is not David nor yet Solomon that fills the eye of the Holy Spirit, but the Christ and His never ending and unbroken glories.
The last act of David is to call Israel to the feast, and his last words are “Now bless the Lord your God” (29:20). The congregation respond, and bless the Lord God of their fathers. But there is in this feast more than meets the natural eye. This was a feast of the Lord, and anticipative of a greater feast, and of a greater congregation, when the Son of David will say, “My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation” (Psa. 22:25). Though not many souls might then have been able to be glad in its prophetic light, yet nonetheless it does point to a future feast, never to be thrown into the shade by succeeding rebellion and shame. For then a new heart will be given to the people, and clean water will be sprinkled upon them, and all shall know Jehovah. David begins the feast, clothed with the renown of a mighty conqueror who was never defeated, but whose course was marked with power and victory from the time that he rescued the lamb from the mouth of the lion and the bear, until the sons of the giant, the last of his enemies, fall by his hand, or by the hand of his Servants (20: 8). But these warrior glories are mellowed in the golden splendor of Solomon, of peace and plenty and undisputed supremacy.
“And they [the people] made Solomon, the son of David, king the second time.” This marks a change. David disappears. Solomon sits upon the throne of the Lord. Looking for a moment at this scene apart from its typical aspect, what a coronation (to use an earthly term) had Solomon! In the annals of the world, of its triumphs and rejoicings, was there ever such a national rejoicing as this? Yet how short even this magnificence falls of the exceeding glory and gladness to come! And this future gladness is unmingled with woe of any kind, while there is not a scene of the world's glory and apparent joy but has beneath its surface in not a few hearts a feeling (it may be) of incurable sadness. Here is no masked grief, but joy unfeigned. Yet it is not the very image, but a shadow of that to come. For Israel, David, and Solomon, in this first book of Chronicles, are but the frame containing God's picture of His Son in His earthly glory. What if some of the colors in that picture are human and therefore dark? They only enhance the brightness of Him Who stands in the foreground, Who is the center of all; the sun illuminating not only Israel but the whole world.
The last verses (29:26, etc.) are an addendum; for the 25th verse is a fitting close to the announcement that Solomon “sat on the throne of the LORD.” What other in such a position could there be that “the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before hint in Israel.” The picture of the glory is rolled up. The following verses are but the notice of David's death, and where the records of his reign may be found—his death as a man, not in his typical aspect, (that has ceased,) and Solomon takes his father's place.

The Psalms Book 2: 45-49

The first group continues to 49 which is a sort of homily concluding them. As the saint in the extreme trial endured could only look to God as his King (44:5), here we have the prophetic intervention immediately following. It is of course in the Messiah that the kingdom of God is anticipated. His personal grace is celebrated; His divine nature and glory, at the very time that He is anointed by God as man above His companions; for such He has and will have. But it is His triumph and rule and association with the godly Jews, no longer cast out of all but honored beyond all that had been in the psalmist's days of Israel; and Jerusalem is no longer trodden down by Gentiles, no more desolate and sitting on the ground, but the city of righteousness, the faithful city, the queen at Messiah's right hand in fine gold of Ophir. The virgins her companions are presumably the cities of Judah; and the peoples to give thanks forever are the nations of that future day in relationship with the Jews. It is in no way the Bride, the Lamb's wife in heavenly glory. (Rev. 19-22)
Psalm 45
“To the chief musician upon Shoshannim [or lilies]; for the sons of Korah; instruction, a song of loves. My heart hath overflowed [with] a good matter; I am declaring my works to the king: my tongue [is] the pen of a ready writer. Thou hast been very fair above the sons of men; grace hath been poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee forever. Gird thy sword upon the thigh, O mighty one, thy glory and thy majesty; and [in] thy majesty ride prosperously for the cause of truth and meekness of righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows [are] sharpened—the peoples fall under thee—in the heart of the king's enemies. Thy throne, O God, [is] forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness [is] the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy. companions. Myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, [are] all thy garments; from palaces of ivory stringed instruments have gladdened thee. Daughters of kings [are] among thine honorable women; at thy right hand doth stand the queen in gold of Ophir. Hear, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear; and forget thy people and thy father's house. And the king will greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him. And the daughter of Tire with a gift, the rich of the people, shall entreat thy face. All glorious [is] the king's daughter within; of gold embroidery [is] her clothing: in needlework she shall be led to the king; the virgins after her, her companions, shall be brought unto thee. They shall be led with rejoicings and gladness; they shall enter into the king's palace. Instead of thy fathers shall be thy sons, thou shalt set them for princes in all the earth [or, land]. I will make mention of thy name throughout all generations; therefore peoples shall give thee thanks forever and ever” (vers. 1-18).
Psalm 46
This is the calm but joyful answer to the taunts of all their foes without who asked, Where is thy God? Their refuge and strength, their refuge in distress very readily found, God is owned Most High and Jehovah of hosts, the God of Jacob, but God as He is in His own nature exalted among the nations and in the earth.
“To the chief musician, for the sons of Korah, upon Alamoth, a song. God [is] to us a refuge and strength, a help in distresses exceedingly found. Therefore will we not fear in changing of the earth and in moving of mountains into the heart of the seas. Its waters roar, they are troubled; the mountains tremble with its pride. Selah. [There is] a river; its streams make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God [is] in her midst: she shall not be moved: God shall help her at the dawn of morning. Gentiles raged, kingdoms were moved; he uttered his voice, the earth melted. Jehovah of hosts [is] with us; the God of Jacob [is] a refuge unto us. Selah. Come, behold the works of Jehovah, who hath set desolations in the earth; he breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear; he burneth the chariots in the fire. Be still and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the Gentiles; I will be exalted in the earth. Jehovah of hosts [is] with us, the God of Jacob [is] a refuge unto us. Selah” (vers. 1-12).
Psalm 47
Here there is more: a call to all the peoples who seek association to join in their triumph and joy, but the deep sense that it is God Who has rights and glory on the earth; and therefore all is of grace to those whom He loved, and for whom He chose their inheritance. It is the millennial day which faith sees and sings.
“To the chief musician, for the sons of Korah, a psalm. Clap your hands, all ye peoples, shout unto God with voice of rejoicing. For Jehovah Most High is terrible, a great king over all the earth. He destroyeth peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chooseth our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he hath loved. Selah. God hath gone up with a shout, Jehovah with the voice of a trumpet. Sing praises unto God, sing praises unto our king. For king to all the earth [is] God; sing psalms of instruction [or, understanding]. God hath reigned over the Gentiles, God hath sat down upon the throne of his holiness. The princes of the peoples are gathered together [with] the people of the God of Abraham; for unto God [belong] the shields of the earth; he hath been greatly exalted” (vers. 1-10).
Psalm 48
The remnant rise in the expression of their faith and can now begin with Jehovah, as they see the vision of Zion in its beauty and glory, and all confederacies confounded, yea, vanished away. It is an advance even on the last. The glory of the king penetrates as it were place and people. So predicted Isa. 2; 60; Mic. 4; 5, Zech. 14.
“A song, a psalm for the sons of Korah. Great [is] Jehovah and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, the hill of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth [is] the mount Zion, [on] the side of the north, the joy of the great king. God hath been known in her palaces as a refuge. For lo! the kings met, they passed through together, they saw, so they wondered, they were terrified, they fled in alarm. Trembling seized them there, pain as of one bringing forth. With an east wind thou hast broken the ships of Tarshish. As we have heard, so we have seen, in the city of Jehovah of hosts, in the city of our God; God will establish her forever. We have meditated, O God, on thy mercy in the midst of thy temple. According to thy name, O God, so [is] thy praise unto the ends of the earth; of righteousness is thy right hand full. Mount Zion rejoiceth, the daughters of Judah exult because of thy judgments. Surround ye Zion and encompass her; count ye her towers. Set your heart to her rampart; consider her palaces, that ye may recount it to the generation following. For this God [is] our God forever and ever; he will direct us until death” (vers. 1-15).
Psalm 49
This is a word of exhortation founded on the moral truth of the crisis just surveyed. The Jews understood not God's ways more than the Gentiles, and hence the abominable amalgam at the end of the age which is fast approaching. Both idolize present wealth and power, ease and honor: God will be in the thoughts of neither. But as a vapor all passes away that is not of God and in God and with God, and nothing is apart from Christ. Only God can and does raise from the dust of death; and as we know this now for heaven, so the godly Jews at the close will learn and preach as here for the earth, the honored ones to welcome Him when He comes to take Zion and all the earth.
“To the chief musician, for the sons of Korah, a psalm. Hear this, all ye peoples, give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together. My mouth speaketh wisdom, and the meditation of my heart [is] understanding, I incline mine ear to a parable, I open upon a harp my riddle. Why should I fear in days of evil? The iniquity of my supplanters surroundeth me, those trusting in their wealth and boasting themselves in the multitude of their riches. In no way can a man redeem a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him (and precious [is] the redemption-price of their soul and it hath ceased forever), that he should still live forever and not see corruption [or, the pit]. For he seeth [that] wise men die; together the fool and the brutish man perish and have left their wealth to others; their inward [thought is] that their houses [are] forever, their dwelling-places to generation and generation; they have called their lands after their own names. But man in honor abideth not; he hath become like the cattle; they have been cut off. This their way [is] folly for them; yet those who come after them will take pleasure in their words. Selah. Like the sheep are they laid in Sheol: death feedeth upon them, and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; but their comeliness is for Sheol to consume, that there be no dwelling for it. Surely God will redeem my soul from the hand of Sheol, for he will take me. Selah. Fear not when a man becometh rich, when the glory of his house increaseth. For he taketh not all this away when he dieth; his glory shall not descend after him. Though he blessed his soul in his life (and men will praise thee when thou doest good to thyself), it [his soul] shall go to the generation of his fathers: they shall never see light. Man in honor and not understanding becometh as the cattle that perish” (vers. 1-21).

Go Call Thy Husband

John 4:16-18
It is the way of grace to speak and act in a love beyond creature thought to one that deserves only blame. This had the Lord Jesus shown thus far to the Samaritan. In every way He is the image of the invisible God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Nevertheless grace alone suffices not; for man is fallen, evil, and hostile to God without knowing it aright if at all. Now his ruin morally must be known if he is to be saved and blessed. He must therefore know himself as well as God; and himself in God's presence as God sees him. How can this be? Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. And He is “full” of grace and truth. Grace and truth came by Him; and both shine as none can deny, through His person and words on the Samaritan. She felt already in a measure His grace; but truth enters through the conscience in order that both grace and truth should be really known in the soul. Therefore, when the woman betrays by her dark request in ver. 15 (“Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw”) that she was still outside the marvelous light of God, “Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband and come hither.” It seems abrupt and at first sight strange. It was the direct path to her conscience and divinely wise. For grace cannot accomplish its purpose, God's purpose of love, till man is brought to see and own the truth of his own state. Then only can one appreciate the truth of what God is in the holy mercy that saves the unholy through Christ our Lord; and righteously too, for sin must be judged as it deserves.
The woman was still walking like the rest of the world in a vain show. From this the Lord delivers her. “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” “I have no husband,” she answers quickly. “Jesus saith unto her, Thou saidst well, I have no husband; for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly” (ver. 18). How overwhelming, yet how gracious! Not a reproach in His mouth; but He Who knew all men drew from her, by a word of His, the confession of her actual state of sin and shame, and set before her such a sketch of her life as testified to her conscience, that in her case at least all things were naked and laid bare to His eyes with Whom she had to do.
Her answer proves that His words had entered her conscience, and that her soul fell under them. There was no effort to parry, no attempt to excuse, no seeking to hide or escape from His presence. On the contrary, she stood there a convicted sinner and owned, not merely that He spoke truly, but that she perceived Him to be “a prophet” (ver. 19). It was the word of God living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. She was manifest in His sight, but by the grace now applied, however humbled to the dust, content to own what she really was and to receive from Him as from God's mouth. For His is not man's word, but, as it is truly, God's word, which also works in every soul that believes.
Thus divine light must act out he soul now, in order that for it all things may be real before God. Hence where His word enters, discovering a life of sin and self, yet in full grace on God's part, the soul bows to God in confession. There is moral reality truly begun, however little developed in detail. How wondrous is God's intervention in Christ, as worthy of Him as suitable and cleansing to the sinner! It is the washing of water by the word, as says the apostle, speaking of Christ's love to the, church all the way through. And this the woman here proves.
So it ever is. The message of God to sinners (and all are such), when by grace received, deals with the conscience and not merely with the affections. Repentance ensues no less than faith; repentance by God's word judging all within, and faith in receiving God's word and God's gift from without. This now is fully revealed in Christ; and He is life, “Christ our life.” For the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining, and in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, and consequently the seal of the Spirit. For it is of God that the soul, repentant and believing, should know grace and truth, beyond even what the Samaritan could then bear. Nor does any falsehood more dishonor the gospel than the dim religious light or rather darkness, which would plunge souls and even believing souls in uncertainty, and belie the God of all grace as if He begrudged the blessing to the contrite spirit.
Listen not, dear reader, to those enemies of the cross of Christ, who are so blinded as to teach that our Lord practiced reserve about His own precious work. It was He that announced, even before His Galilean ministry, that the Son of man must be lifted up (that is, on the cross) that whosoever believeth on Him may have eternal life; and that God so loved the world, the sinful, guilty, Christ-rejecting world, as to give His Only-begotten that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have eternal life. It was He, that in its course and in the presence of incredulous and blaspheming scribes, would have a most crowded company to know that the Son of man hath power, yea rightful title, on earth to forgive sins—a title assuredly not less since He died and rose, and has all authority given Him in heaven and on earth, saying to His servants, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all the creation. It was He Who even before this lovingly rebuked the aspiring or murmuring twelve, who were in danger from vain-glory, with the words, “The Son of man came not to be ministered to but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” That Satan would stick at nothing to cloak from needy souls such words of grace is as certain as that the Holy Spirit was sent at Pentecost, among other ends worthy of God, to empower those that preach the gospel unto all the nations, beginning from the city wherein our Lord was crucified.
It is thus that the soul meets God, not in truth only but in grace; it is in His Son, Jesus Christ. “This is the true God and eternal life.” It is after the sin, but before the judgment, that the dead may hear and live—believing, have eternal life and come not into judgment, but have passed from death into life. Less than this is not the gospel of God—is not Christianity—as the Holy Spirit has revealed it.

The Lord's Table

The state of the church at Corinth was serious. Various disorders in doctrine and practice had crept in. Party feeling ran high in the assembly. And, amongst other vagaries, apparently not a few of the saints were publicly dishonoring the name of the Lord and virtually threatening to wreck the testimony of the church by open participation with idol-worshippers in their feasts. The apostle therefore, in 1 Cor. 10:14-22, deals with the question of the Christian's relation to outside observances of a professedly religious nature.
The apostle begins by warmly exhorting them to “flee from idolatry,” adding in that almost deferential manner which he so well knew how to blend with the dignity and authority of an inspired apostle, “I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.” Proceeding then to contrast Christian and heathen feasts, he refers first of all to that part of the Eucharist, which, though not the first in the order of observance, was the fuller of grave associations. “The cup of blessing, which we bless” (in contrast with the cup poured out as a libation to the gods) “is it not the communion of the blood of Christ”? How then could this cup be a mere matter of form when it was thus significant of the closest identification with the Christ? and that too, in the exceedingly solemn moment of laying down His life on their behalf? Therefore to degrade this cup of such profound and sacred meaning, to the level of a heathen ceremony by partaking of both, was and must be fraught with the most serious consequences to themselves as well as to the public testimony of the church of God at Corinth. In fact to attempt it showed an entire misapprehension of the true characters of both acts. Neither the solemnity of the one nor the profanity of the other was before their minds; else why equalize the cups by drinking of both? For as the apostle emphatically states, “Ye Cannot (i.e. with due appreciation) drink the Lord's cup and the cup of demons.”
And if the cup of blessing was thus significant, the bread did not lack hallowed import. It was nothing short of fellowship with the body of the Christ, and at the same time it set forth the intimate unity of His saints on earth. “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread, [and] one body: for we are all partakers of the one bread.” Thus, however numerous the saints, their spiritual unity was acknowledged and expressed by partaking of the one loaf. The act of communion testified that the children of God at Corinth, and indeed “all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:2), were unified by the power of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 12:13), and thereby of necessity separated alike from Jews and Gentiles. What therefore could be greater inconsistency than to own this truth in the breaking of bread, and to disown the same by feasting in idol temples? It was in vain for the Corinthians to argue with a show of superior wisdom that, since idols were nonentities, to sit at their feasts was a matter of indifference and could be the source of no possible harm. True, these indecorous deities were destitute of even human power, much less divine; and the apostle implied nothing to the contrary (verse 19). But if they saw that the idols were mere puppets, he would not have them ignore those who pulled the strings. Did not the very scriptures that affirmed the nothingness of all heathen worship affirm also that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God (ver. 20, Deut. 32:17)? Satan, the prince of cheats, and his impish subordinates held these benighted souls in the delusions of idol-worship; and should saints of God be parties to such works of darkness by so much even as their presence? It was this which troubled the apostle. “I would not” says he, “that ye should have fellowship with demons.” So much is this point insisted on that he does not mention the shameless excesses which so often attended the heathen orgies, but only unmasks the terribly evil principle underlying them, pressing the fact that, if the Lord presided at one table, demons presided at the other. And they could not be partakers of the Lord's table and the table of demons (ver. 21). If so, where was the Lord's glory? Where the claims of His holy person? Where the love and loyalty of His saints? Did they wish to provoke the Lord to jealousy by such flagrant contempt of His name? Were they mightier than the Lord? Did they expect to act so with impunity?
The term used by the Spirit of God in this connection—the Lord's table—is highly expressive. The cup and loaf are both pregnant with sacred meaning. But here we are reminded not of the memorials of His death or of that which is memorized thereby, but of the person Himself, not so much of what is on the table as of Him Who is at the table, not so much of the feast as of the Host. It is the table of the Lord. This at once stamps a divine and holy character upon the observance, despite its otherwise apparently barren simplicity. The Lord is there, and His name and person sanctify the whole.
The phrase— “the table of the Lord” —is not unknown to the O.T. In Ezek. 41:22; 44:16, Jehovah speaks of the altar of incense as the table that is before Him. Evidently this is to enforce the fact of its holiness, being in the sanctuary in His immediate presence as well as bearing the offerings made to His name. And in Malachi the phrase is again used, even more strikingly, in connection with the holiness of the altar. Jehovah there expostulates with the priests who offered polluted bread on His altar and profaned His name, saying that the table of Jehovah is contemptible (Mal. 1:7-12). It was the fact that the altar was before Jehovah and that it was called by His name, which made the desecration so terrible. And there was no excuse for ignorance of what was suited to the Lord; for His word of old had plainly forbidden that the blind, the lame, or the sick, should be offered in sacrifice (Lev. 20:11-22). This word however they had deliberately disobeyed (Mal. 1:8). And what they would be ashamed to bring to the governor, they brought to Jehovah. What was this but the most inexcusable levity in the most sacred things? It was despising His name; and therefore the burden of the word of the Lord was against Israel.
Accordingly we find that the Spirit of God to the Corinthians uses this phrase in a similar way to invest the simple supper with dignity and sanctity. When the holy character of the feast of remembrance was impugned, and the blessed institution placed on a level with an idol feast, the saints were at once reminded that the table was the Lord's table. The divine claims were revived, showing that the retrogression was owing to a want of consideration of what was due to His name.
It may be profitable here to briefly distinguish the term employed in 11:20—the Lord's supper—from the one before us, the Lord's table. While the same blessed memorial feast is referred to in both cases, it must, at the same time, be admitted by all who believe in the inspiration of the word that there can be no distinction made in scripture without a real difference. The Lord's supper must, of necessity, be the phrase most in harmony with the subject of the Holy Ghost in the eleventh chapter as the Lord's table is in chapter 10; and the subjects of the two portions are by no means difficult to distinguish. A cursory examination shows that in chap. 11 internal matter, and in chap. 10 external relationships, are discussed. In 11 The error of the Corinthian saints was as to the manner of eating the feast, but in 10 as to the character of the fellowship involved in breaking bread. The contrast in 11 is between the Lord's supper and their own, and in 10 between the Lord's table and that of demons. Eating unworthily in 11 is followed by judgment, while unholy association in 10 resulted in a ruined testimony before the heathen world. In 11 we have no word of the unity of the body which is pressed in chapter 10, but rather a concentrated enumeration of those affecting circumstances which speak so eloquently to the heart of the believer. The Lord's request on earth re-iterated from the glory—His betrayal—His last wish—His death—His coming again—all these are shown as associated with the Lord's supper. The Corinthians however (11:17-22) had allowed a social meal, the agape or love-feast, to efface all these touching reminders from the feast; and, by allowing pride and envy to work amongst them, had made it a supper of their own and not the Lord's. In fact they were eating and drinking unworthily, not discerning the Lord's body, but displacing His death by petty notions of dignity and real shame. And on this account the apostle gives them a most serious call to self-examination, in order that these affronts to the Lord might not continue.
The above short consideration of these terms in their context, which is the only reliable criterion of any interpretation of scripture, shows a warranty, it is believed, for the two following conclusions:(1) that fellowship with the Lord's table and with what is opposed to His name cannot co-exist, being mutually destructive; and (2) that the Lord's supper cannot be eaten without a spiritual apprehension of what the emblems convey. Moreover, both are essential to a proper and godly participation in this incomparable feast. So that the important point to be weighed is not the possibility of having either without the other, but rather the necessity of having both, in order that this divine institution may be maintained in all its pristine sweetness and sanctity. Therefore without here entering on the question whether one can eat the Lord's supper and yet not be at the Lord's table, or, on the other hand, be at the Lord's table and yet not eat the Lord's supper—neither of which can be at all a desirable position—, let it rather be pressed on each saint to judge his own heart and his association in reference to this ordinance in the holy light of divine truth.
How grievous to call that the Lord's table which is based on man's will and not God's! Can it be right to shield an express denial of His word by the sacredness of His name, making the Lord nominally untrue to His own cause? If the presidency of the Lord is supplanted by that of a man, howsoever grave or pious, if the agency of the Holy Spirit in the assembly (1 Cor. 12:11) be forbidden save in one stereotyped direction, if godly men are excluded who cannot say shibboleth, if traitors to the Lord are allowed to mingle with the true, if, in short, the plain truths of scripture are disowned in a given assembly, are the Lord's representatives on earth justified in describing such a fellowship as the Lord's table? While fully allowing for individual faith and piety, it is surely a contradiction in terms to say that a congregation of people not maintaining the honor of the Lord's name is nevertheless sitting at His table. Are you at His table? God's word, and not your own judgment, can alone be the basis of a true answer.
And, on the other hand, to partake of the emblems, when the person of the Lord in His suffering and death is crowded out from the vision of the soul, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. And surely every saint knows by experience what little things, intruding at those holy seasons, are sufficient to shatter the precious memories of His love. Not to speak of a gaudy and impressive ritual, an unintelligent legalism, or a cold formal indifferentism, the slovenly soul will be easily overcome by vague wanderings, vagrant thoughts and even worse, so that all sense of the sweet solemnity of the occasion will be utterly lost. Shame it is that our affections should be so sluggish. For how dead must we be if the remembrance of His woe for us fails to revive us to an earnest review of His grace? May the apostle's exhortation be ever before the saints of God: “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. 11:28).

Hebrews 7:4-10

The sketch hitherto given is wonderfully graphic and comprehensive. We come now to closer points of comparison between Melchisedec and Aaron.
“Now behold how great [was] he to whom [also] Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth out of the spoils. And those indeed out of the sons of Levi that receive the priestly office have commandment to take tithe of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren through having come out from the loins of Abraham. But he that hath no genealogy from them hath tithed Abraham and hath blessed him that had the promises. But apart from all gainsaying the less is blessed by the better. And here dying men receive tithes, but there one hath witness that he liveth. And, so to say, through Abraham Levi also that receiveth tithes hath been tithed; for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him” (Heb. 7:4-10).
The facts recorded in the close of Gen. 14 are made the groundwork of weighty teaching. On the one hand the patriarch, whom every Jew looked upon as the historic head of Israel, gave Melchisedec a tenth of all the spoils taken from the vanquished kings. On the other hand Melchisedec as priest of the Most High God blessed Abraham most solemnly and significantly. Both circumstances were the more notable because they stand out in marked isolation from the ordinary life of the fathers, save where an inconsistency is recorded for our profit and that no flesh might glory. Thus Jacob vowed that if God would be with him and keep him, so that he should return in peace to his father's house, Jehovah should be his God, and of all He gave him, he would surely render the tenth to Him (Gen. 28). And in the land of the stranger, Jacob the pilgrim blessed Pharaoh, king of Egypt though he was (Gen. 47): a simple but real testimony to the superiority of faith over all earthly honor.
But here all is seen reversed to furnish an adequate type of what was due to Christ, however repulsive to Jewish pride and the petty reasoning of man's mind. There was a personage, a king-priest, so great in dignity that Abraham gave him a tenth of the spoils at an epoch when God had just crowned himself with singular honor. From this is deduced the undeniable inference, according to a style of teaching which no pious or intelligent Israelite would question, that not Levi only but his priestly sons, the house of Aaron, entitled to tithe their brethren by the law, paid tithes in the person of Abraham to Melchizedek, to one who derived no succession and was absolutely void of genealogical link with the tribe, the priestly family, or with the lineal chief of them all. There stood the fact in the foundation book of holy scripture, and of that law to which even the incredulous party of Sadducees clung tenaciously. It was no question of a new revelation, nor of a doubtful reading, nor of an interpretation that could be challenged. In the plainest terms God had revealed a fact, the bearing of which may never have dawned on any until the Holy Spirit now applied it to Christ so unexpectedly.
Nor was Levi, any more than Aaron, degraded by pointing out the decisive act of Abraham recorded for permanent use in divine revelation, which proved a priestly office superior to the Aaronic. For He to Whom Melchisedec stood as type was their own Messiah, Jesus the Son of God. To His mere shadow the father of the faithful, the friend of God, bowed down, acknowledging the highest representative of the Most High God, Possessor of heavens and earth, and involving in that willing homage all that sprang from him, even Levi and Aaron. Thus according to God it was shown that Aaron and his house had paid tithes to Melchisedec in their forefather. And herein was no failure of Abraham, but an act of faith, of which God has made much, as we shall see in the Old Testament as well as the New.
But we are directed to more than this. Abraham was a receiver from Melchizedek, who “hath blessed him that had the promises.” These might seem to exempt from the blessing of man the one who had the promises of God more characteristically than any other of the sons of men. But not so, this royal priest, who had no connection of flesh with Aaron and his sons (whom, Jehovah ordained to bless the sons of Israel, putting His name upon them to secure His blessing Num. 6), Melchizedek blessed Abraham with all publicity and in the most special manner—blessed Abraham on the part of God most High, and blessed God Most High on the part of Abraham. But beyond all controversy, all gainsaying apart, “the less is blessed by the better.” So in Luke 2 Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary, but ventured not to bless the Babe, even when in another sense he blessed or gave thanks to God. In that Babe his eyes had seen God's salvation; as in like spirit, though with beautifully suited difference of act, the wise men from the east fell down and worshipped, not the mother, but the young Child, and, opening their treasures, offered unto Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh (Matt. 2). Well had it been for the men and women of the west had they pondered the lesson.
Melchisedec then blessed Abraham; how much more is He the Blest and the Blesser of Whom that mysterious priest was but the foreshadowing! But another hint is given, more developed later, on which the less may be said now. “And here dying men receive tithes, but there one having witness that he liveth.” This is what we hear of Melchisedec; not a word of his birth or of his death. He is simply presented a “living” priest, with nothing before or after; whereas death is written on Aaron and all his sons, yet are they priests receiving tithes according to the law. But, so to say, the same law attests that through Abraham as the medium Levi too that receives tithes paid tithe in principle; for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him and received the tenth of the spoils. Had Levi been born previously, he might plead independence and exemption. As it was, Israel, Aaron, and all were united in that one man's homage, the father of the chosen people.

The Gospel and the Church: 20. Christian Discipline: 2

3. In what spirit and way should Christian discipline be exercised and carried out?
Christian discipline must be exercised in the spirit of grace and truth. By grace we are saved. Grace keeps our inward man as our outward man is kept by the power of God on our way, through a cruel and subtle enemy's territory, towards our final rest and glory with Christ. Grace then should be the keynote of all true Christian discipline, and truth in righteousness and holiness should characterize it. Throughout Holy Writ, grace and truth go hand in hand, from cover to cover. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,”
“He dwelt among us full of grace and truth.” But scripture does not say that, from His fullness we have received “grace and truth,” but “grace upon grace.” Grace then ought to be the keynote of Christian discipline. We are but too much inclined to deal in grace with ourselves, and (at least in our own opinion) in truth with our fellow Christians. Whenever our own faults are to be dealt with, we want our brethren to deal with us in grace and truth; but in case of a brother's failure, we proceed but too frequently as if it were written “truth and grace.”
When the Lord was speaking of Christian discipline, Peter asked Him:— “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? until seven times?” He evidently thought he had expressed the fullest measure of grace by saying “seven times,” this being the expression of spiritual perfection. But what was the Lord's answer? He named a still more perfect number. “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven,” and then adds the solemn parable of the King “who would take account of his servants.”
Let us ask ourselves, Christian reader, “How often have you and I forgiven a brother who had sinned against us? I am afraid, if the same brother should sin against us the seventh time, grace would become an effort to us. We should in that case be inclined to think that with us “grace has had her perfect work,” and that he is “turning grace into lasciviousness.” But if you and I, reader, have once got beyond the number “seven,” we shall get such a relish for exercising grace in “forgiving one another,” “even as Christ forgave us,” that long before we have reached the number seventy,—not to speak of seventy times seven, i.e., 490, we shall have left off counting, in case we really had exerted ourselves with that unpleasant task “until seven times.”
In the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of John the apostle, that grace manifests itself in all its lovely and touching character. There we behold Jesus as “Son over his own house,” exercising discipline in the most solemn case of Judas Iscariot. There the darkest treason that ever was or will be had to be dealt with. And in what spirit and way did Jesus exercise that discipline? Was it with the rod, the “whip of small cords,” in His hand, as in the quite different case of John 2? No, but in perfect grace from first to last, though all the time in truth. For He dwelt among us in “grace and truth.” How often in cases where church discipline has become necessary, are we inclined to deal graciously with the sinning brother, if he has not offended us personally, especially if he is our friend or related to us! We are then often but too inclined to lay full stress upon grace at the expense of truth. But in cases when he has been irksome or personally disliked by us, we are inclined to do the opposite, laying all the stress upon truth. How different was His procedure, Who is our pattern as He is our Savior. When the holiness of His Father's house was in question, He dealt in truth with those that defiled the temple. But in Judas Iscariot's case of the blackest treason and ingratitude against His own Person, He acts with such perfect grace, that to the natural mind it almost appears as if there had been too much of grace before truth. But we shall soon see that this was not, nor could be, the case on His part, with Whom grace never was separated from perfect truth, and truth never from perfect grace.
Not a few refuse to believe that Jesus could have washed the feet of Judas Iscariot; as such grace, shown to such a hardened unconscionable traitor, would not only appear to be thrown away, but scarcely in keeping with the dignity of the Lord. I am afraid that those who think so have very little entered into the spirit of that glorious chapter. From its whole tenor and connection there can be no doubt but that the Lord washed the feet of His betrayer as He did wash those of His other apostles. (Compare verses 10 and 11).
The same grace and love, which made the “Good Shepherd” exchange His glorious heavenly home for this sin-benighted world, the home of misery and death, in order to look, first for the lost sheep of Israel, and then for sheep who were “not of that fold,” moved Him, Who was grace and truth personified, to exhaust all the means of that grace and truth, to reach the heart and conscience even of him, who whilst eating His bread, had lifted up his heel against Him,
“But why all these attempts,” some perhaps will reason, “as Jesus must have known before that they would be in vain, Judas being the son of perdition!”
His thoughts are not our thoughts, reader, nor are His ways and His heart ours. The omniscience and perfect knowledge of the Son of God could not limit the grace of the perfect Son of man in its activity. What could be more adapted to reach the conscience even of a Judas and to soften his hard heart, than seeing Him, Whom he was about to betray, stooping down at His feet to perform the menial service of washing them? We should have thought, that (each time when those hands, which had fed those thousand hungry ones, healed the sick and blessed the little children, and during more than three years had given to His apostle the daily bread and blessed it and broken it with him, with their gentle touch applied the cleansing water to Judas Iscariot's feet), his heart must have welled up and discharged itself through his eyes, until the purifying streams of penitent tears had mingled with the cleansing water around his feet. And when He heard Peter say, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Thou shalt never wash my feet,” and then the Master's holy yet ever gracious voice saying, “Ye are clean, but not all;” and when He, whom Judas too called Lord and Master, then went down at his feet to wash them likewise, should we not have thought that the betrayer's trembling feet would have shrunk back, bringing him on his knees publicly to own his deep fall and the covetousness that had caused it? And when the same calm, unimpassioned, and yet so gracious voice added those warning words, “He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me;” and when Jesus, “troubled in spirit, then testified and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me,” (these last words of grace and truth, addressed to Judas Iscariot's heart and conscience); and when “the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake,” —should we not have thought that if even the least spark of a better feeling had been in his heart, or the slightest movement of repentance in his conscience, such words, spoken by such a Master, would have evoked there a response?
But Judas Iscariot's heart and conscience had become as hard as the thirty pieces of silver, which he had received from the chief priests and Pharisees. For more than three years he had walked alongside with the Son of God. He had seen and heard His mighty and gracious words and deeds. But whilst walking day by day as an eye-and-ear-witness, nay as an apostle, by the side of Him, who was “God manifest in the flesh,” his heart was a secret idol-shrine, where the “mammon of unrighteousness” was enthroned. Only his body, but not his heart, was in the presence of the Son of God. Thus all his privileges had only served to harden his soul entirely, and render his measure of responsibility and his deep fall and following judgment all the greater.
The bosom disciple “whom Jesus loved,” and who in our most solemn and yet so blessed chapter asks Him in childlike simplicity, “Lord, who is it?” addressed in his old age to all the children of God the solemn injunction, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Jesus replied to His beloved disciple's inquiry with “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.” “And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”
Grace had done its utmost and exhausted its last remedy. Nothing remained but judgment. That portion of holy writ, spoken in solemn warning by our gracious yet true Master, had been fulfilled: “He that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me." “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” “He then having received the sop, went immediately out: and it was night.” Solemn words!
The Lord, the “Son over His own house,” had exercised discipline, but not until all the means of grace had been exhausted. Compare 1 Cor. 5:2.
Christian reader, I have dwelt at a greater length than usual on this case of discipline, unique in its terribleness, not in order to sit in judgment upon a traitor, but to judge our own treacherous hearts. Judas, though unconverted, was a man of like natural passions as we. How little, alas! have we learned from our gracious Master, Who showed such patience and grace to His betrayer, to exercise grace and patience towards our erring brethren in Christ, being unmindful of the injunction of the apostle of the church, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Hear the words of the inspired James:
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
How often have we exercised grace without truth, or handled truth without grace! It is difficult to say which of the two would be the worst.
In my next paper I shall, if the Lord will, offer a few remarks as to the way of carrying out Christian discipline.

Scripture Imagery: 88. Lepers and Leprosy

Pursuing the subject of the natures of creatures in Lev. 11, we have man brought before us in the succeeding chapters. In the twelfth we find him to be of such a nature—shapen in iniquity... conceived in sin— as to require that there should be a sin offering even in connection with his birth, before he had committed any action good or bad, and then under the figure of the leper we have a truly frightful picture of that which a sinful man may become.
This horrible and melancholy disease is not, I think, so much a type of sin in general—other diseases typify that—but of some of the worst forms of sin, especially in respect of its loathsomeness and corruption, its contagion and its impossibility of cure, save by the direct power of God.
That the type is of this character, and not, as has been so frequently supposed, a type of sin in general, is shown by the fact that the leper is invariably shut out from the camp. Now “the thought of foolishness is sin;” but it would be very wrong to suppose that one should be shut out of the assembly for that or any such offenses as those for which milder forms of discipline are prescribed. On the other hand the apostle refers to various kinds of sin with which if professing Christians were corrupted, they were not to be kept company with, not so much as to be eaten with. Thus Peter, guilty of an error of judgment and a lapse of moral cowardice that even such a wise and brave man at times falls into, commits a most sectarian offense in refusing to associate with certain Gentiles. He is rebuked, but it would have been outrageous to expel him from the assembly for that. Whereas the incestuous man in the church at Corinth they were peremptorily commanded to put away from amongst them; and the same extreme treatment was necessary in cases where the corruption was of a spiritual rather than a moral character, as with the blasphemers Hymenus and Alexander; or where it was of a doctrinal character, as for instance in the case of the Nicolaitanes, Spinitualism, Blavatskyisin, &c.
This action has to be taken, not from harshness and severity, but because of the corrupt and deadly nature of the contagion. There is place enough indeed for compassion and sorrow. The subjects of such disease—whether spiritual or physical—are of all the afflicted race of mankind the most to be pitied. There is no condition more terrible except one; and that is the condition of those who could shut a leper out of the camp, or a sinner out of the church without sorrow and reluctance. Angels must look on such beings as these with indignation, and devils with complacency.
But is the thing itself so very bad? for so many are constantly saying that the disease is not infectious or contagious at all. At St. Kitts they thought so till lately when they find the number of lepers nearly doubled in the last few years through their being allowed to pass to and fro amongst the people. So now there is “great alarm” and will probably be a reaction toward stringency like the reactions in former centuries, when there were laws such as those in Scotland, where one who escaped from a leper asylum was hanged or buried alive. M. Pasteur lately said that the Swedish Dr. Hankel had found the microbe; but two years ago at a meeting of the Epidemiological Society, high medical authorities, speaking in vigorous terms of warning as to the increase of the disease in India and England, brought in two London lepers and showed the leper germ in their saliva by a microscope. Dr. Thompson, who had had charge of a leper hospital, said his experience satisfied him that the disease was contagious. Other authorities testified to the same effect. Pere Damien, it is said, received the disease through flies settling on a part of his head where the flesh was abraded. In Robben Island they distinctly traced the contagion in the cases of two boys lately. That is a terrible place, Robben Island. Conceive an abode of maniacs, convicts—half of whom are murderers—and lepers. “We passed through one ward, and then another and another,” says a visitor. “Here one could see a poor fellow sitting huddled up on his bed, ceaselessly rocking himself to and fro to ease the pain.... A truly awful sight was a poor man with both eyes gone... In a corner, working quietly was a leper tailor....”
In dealing with the matter, the first thing necessary is to prevent contagion and therefore anything resembling the disease was regarded with suspicion and the patient for a time secluded. While things are even doubtful, it is so desirable to be on the right side that a state of quarantine is requisite. Precise and elaborate tests were given by which to distinguish the disease from ailments which resembled it in appearance. These are detailed, but the importance of the inquiry hinders them from being trivial. A mother sometimes looking at her sick child, will feel her heart beat with a suffocating anxiety as she watches the doctor examining the little pimples upon it. If they are rose-colored, it is only chicken-pock; if they are red colored it is the smallpox. The mark of leprosy is at first the “white bright” spot It doesn't look at all so bad in beginning. The Roman poet had a good deal of reason for saying that, if Sin were only to be seen in her natural deformity, instead of being disguised with all false attractions, men would hate her instead of loving her (though I think this is chiefly true at first; after awhile all her foulness does not repel). Leprosy does not look at all bad—at first.
There must be the utmost deliberation and care in judging. It is either malice or wicked thoughtlessness to attach so horrible a stigma, whether in a physical or spiritual sense, without entire certainty. When the professing church shut out Arius (notwithstanding his eloquence and accredited piety), I believe it was entirely right. When it shut out men like Luther and Wesley, it discredited itself and not them. The same is true as to private judgments. The main test of leprosy was that, whereas the other ailments tended to become better and more restricted as they were watched and cared for, leprosy always tended to become worse and to spread. Everyone who has noticed the course of leprous and zymotic morals or doctrines will recognize the accuracy and importance of the similitude.
Bacon says it is of the philosophia prima that, whereas in medicine when a disease is at its height, it is less likely to be communicated than when it is in progress, so also in morals, when a man's life is quite abandoned in wickedness, his example is much less likely to be pernicious than the example of one in whom vice has not yet extinguished all the good qualities. Macaulay, while objecting to this being regarded as a first principle, says that it is a” very happy similitude.” Undoubtedly the principle illustrates the striking verses in Lev. 13 where it was commanded that when “the leprosy covers all the skin of him that hath the plague from his head to his foot,... the priest shall... pronounce him clean.” It was on the distortion of a principle like this that the Spartans used to thoroughly intoxicate their slaves in order that their children, seeing them in their debasement might be shocked and repelled. Had they however only partially intoxicated them, their children might have been only amused and attracted.

Peace

The connection or plan of peace in Luke, and the last or application to us in John also, is extremely interesting. As soon as Christ is born, the unjealous angels, delighting in the glory of God and man's blessing, celebrate His birth. They pass over man's fault which put the born Savior in a manger and are filled entirely with the divine thought in it. And what was their praise? “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men.” Such was the result in its own nature of the Savior's birth. This presence of the Lord, the fruit of infinite grace, was in itself, if received, peace and blessing—carried it necessarily in what is in itself, if received, peace and blessing—carried it necessarily in itself, and will produce it finally.
But the Lord was rejected, and, as some received Him, He had to say, “Suppose ye that I am to give peace on earth? Nay, but rather division. For, from henceforth there shall be three against two, and five shall be in one household against three.” (Luke 12)
In the end of Luke the kingdom is celebrated, which will indeed bring peace on the earth. There it is said, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” All that God had done on earth had been marred and spoiled by Satan; and as long as the wicked spirits are in heavenly places, thus it must be. But at length there is war in heaven (Rev. 12), the devil and his angels are cast out, and there is no more place for them. Then peace comes, and in due time Satan is hound. Peace follows on earth, and this under the Lord's rule for a thousand years. Between these two we stand.
In the same Gospel of Luke the Lord comes after His resurrection, and pronounced peace of a far deeper and fuller character; not peace on earth, governmental peace, but peace made with God. He had made peace, perfect peace; so that the soul might enjoy cloudless communion with Him, all that is of this world or of this scene, as alive in it, being shut out. He had brought them, or had done what brought them, into this peace by His death; and now He pronounced it. And if we turn to John, this will shine out with the brightest evidence. The Lord had warned His disciples that He did not come to bring peace but a sword; so that the peace on earth was not there, but the fire already kindled. But He had ineffable peace of soul as not of the world; His soul was in the unclouded light of His Father's countenance. It was a link between man and God, infinite in blessing (in Him in every sense infinite, and in us objectively and as regards the power of the Holy Ghost, and as being in Him and so in cloudless light with God), no matter what the circumstances. Now Jesus through His death brings us (as being in Him and He in us) into this blessing: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you.” This is unspeakably blessed.
The peace of the Christian is not the same as being justified: “being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” This must be according to His nature—hence completely what He is. This makes it very blessed, and though in us connected with our being alienated and enemies by sin, yet in itself it is only measured by what He was before sin existed—in the outgoing of His own nature in itself before sin, and we in absolute harmony with its full display and proper nature. Sin has been the means of bringing us to know what holiness, righteousness, and love are; but they are all in God, the last is His nature. Thus, in hearing what Christ says, we learn what it is. “Peace, I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.”
Now this peace was consonance in every way with the divine nature, and the consciousness of communion with it. It rested on Him unclouded, but that was not by sins put away. It was in itself divine and, though now in man, eternal consonance. But for us it had of course to be made. He “made peace by the blood of the cross.” And this was to perfect us to the whole nature and character of God, that He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and is glorified with God in virtue of that work, in which He glorified God perfectly, and in respect of what we are as sinners; but He glorified God perfectly.
Hence we are brought into this: “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” It is in the midst of evil no doubt, with conflict and warfare around, so that it has the character of peace. Still it is, and this makes it specially to be, “peace with God.” It is not as to circumstances: this is “peace of God” keeping our hearts, &c.—a blessed thing, but not so deep and direct as “peace with God” —peace with Himself, our secret with Him and His with us. I think it will turn to delight in His own glory in heaven, to which it ministers now. But here it has the character of peace with God.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:8-9

In chapter 1 we saw that God allotted to the human race dominion over fish, fowl, cattle, and every living thing that creeps or moves upon the earth, as well as over all the earth. That was all general. Here we have, as regularly, a special portion, a domain peculiarly assigned to the first man in his innocence. The deep moral question of the first man was about to be tried.
“And Jehovah Elohim planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put Man whom He had formed. And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowing good and evil” (verses 8, 9).
As for Israel long afterward, there was full preparation now. Nothing was lacking on Jehovah's part. “My well-beloved 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” (Isa. 5:1, 2). So at the beginning Jehovah Elohim planted a garden eastward in Eden. However fair all the earth might be before ruin came through sin, and everything that God had made “very good,” the garden was distinctly superior, and the object of peculiar care to God in His moral government. Man had to be tried; and no excuse was possible, no flaw could be alleged. If He planted the garden, all was there for use and beauty suitable to creation's unfallen estate. If He loves a cheerful giver, He is Himself the pattern of all bountifulness. He had “formed” Man exceptionally; and so did He “plant” the garden into which He put him; “and out of the ground Jehovah Elohim made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowing good and evil.”
In the last clause we have the elements peculiar to the case, and to that epoch, which as they then were for a little moment did not exist for man at any other time, nor can they be so again. Innocence lost is irrecoverable. God may and does bring in for faith a better condition through the Second man at His first coming, as in manifest power at His second; but there is no restoration of the first estate. The continual tendency is to forget this, even among those otherwise taught of God. They exalt unduly the pristine condition of Adam. They fail to see the completeness of the ruin caused by sin. They lower or ignore the new creation in Christ. And the singular fact is that these errors are confined to no school of theology, though more prominent and glaring in some quarters than in others. Andover, Geneva, Leipzic, Leyden, Montauban, and Oxford differ considerably; but they fairly chime together in assigning too much to the first man, too little to the Last.
Thus it is by almost all men affirmed that Adam was created in righteousness and in holiness of the truth. Not so. This is how the apostle describes the new man exclusively. In no way can it apply to man as originally created for he was simply untainted and upright, but in no real sense cognizant of “the truth” any more than “righteous” and “holy.” He was innocent; he had not what scripture here calls “the knowledge of good and evil.” Man only gained it by the fall. He had, of course, the consciousness of responsibility. He knew that he was bound to obey God, though the test of his obedience lay solely in his not eating, as we shall see in ver. 17, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now holiness implies that, having this knowledge, we are separate from the evil to good. Adam had no such knowledge. Unfallen, he had no lust. He could not have understood the Ten Commandments, still less the Sermon on the Mount. He had neither father nor mother to honor. Nor was there a neighbor to traduce or aught to covet, to say nothing of theft, murder, and adultery. When neighbors began to be, man had been long an outcast from the garden, and the one prohibition in it applied no more. Henceforth as a fallen being he knew good and evil, but he had that knowledge with a bad conscience. As a heathen wrote of himself, we may say of fallen Adam and his race, that they saw the better and followed the worse. Such became the state of man till God intervened with fresh dealings which involved other responsibility.
But there is revealed in ver. 9 another fact of the deepest interest. The tree of life was distinct from that of knowing good and evil. The test of responsible obedience was one thing, quite another the means of life. They are thus from the first shown to be separate; and, in fact, as we know, when man disobeyed by eating of the one tree, he was driven out lest he should take also of the other (ch. 3:22, 23), and thus make his fallen sinful estate everlasting. The tree of life was for one who did not eat of the forbidden tree. Be clearly was it here marked that responsibility and life are wholly separate.
In due time (as the apostle shows, 430 years before the law) came promise, like a tree of life alone. And the fathers clung to it by faith, and were blessed. This, however, was not a complete blessing, but provisional. It was important and necessary that the question of righteousness should be raised; and that of man's righteousness was raised in Israel by the law. But man, Israel, was sinful, and could not answer save to condemnation.
For the law as given by Moses made life contingent on obedience. “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them” (Lev. 18:5). Nor did the failure lie in the law but in man; “for if there had been a law which could have given life, truly righteousness had been by the law.” But man was guilty, without strength, and, in short, lost. “As many (men) as are of the works of the law (or on that principle) are under the curse.” The just shall live by quite another principle—by faith. “And the law is not of faith.” They are given for quite different ends, and so (and only so) consistent: the law, to convince the sinner that he cannot thus be justified; faith, to assure the believer that he is thus justified. “By grace are ye saved through faith.” For it is by faith in Christ; Who accepted the responsibility, bearing the consequences of our disobedience and evil state generally on the cross, and is now risen from the dead, manifestly the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. Thus has He, He only, conciliated the two trees, which the law had proposed only to prove that to man as such it is impossible. Our new responsibility as believers is grounded on the relation to God and our brethren, which we enter as having eternal life, along with redemption, in Christ. God is glorified even as to sin in the cross; and we who believe have life eternal and are made God's righteousness in Christ.
It is blessed to see how beautifully the last book of the N. T. answers to the first book of the Old. In the New Jerusalem, fruit of divine grace and of heavenly counsel, when all is accomplished and pilgrim days are over, there is found only the tree of life, with the richest and most varied fruits for those within, and even the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations. How beautifully in season, and absolutely true, this will be, needs, or ought to need, no words of mine to enforce.

Saul's Rejection of the Word of the Lord

1 Samuel 15
“When God Himself speaks, all the reasonings and imaginations of men must be silent. Everything may deceive—who can venture to deny it? But the word of God never deceives.” Important truth, and needed, for most certainly “God will be justified in His sayings and overcome when He is judged.” Will man implead his Maker and think to carry his cause? In view of the destruction of Sodom by fire, Abraham said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And Paul, when writing, not of temporal visitations, but of the final judgment when heaven and earth shall flee away and the award be eternal, added, “We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth.” Men reason from human feelings, but (quoting again) we ask, “Has God ever suffered Himself to be hindered in executing His righteous threats by what men call love?” Was not Saul rejected because of his rejection of the word of the Lord, the righteous sentence pronounced by Him on the Amalekites, and sparing, when he was commanded to spare not? And are we to judge these ways of the Lord by our feelings, thoughts, and standards? Let us consider the facts. “Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment.” This was certainly true of the Amalekites.
The Lord had delivered Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, and had brought them to Himself. Never were they nearer to Him. The pillar of cloud and of fire, the manna from heaven, and the water from the rock were visible proofs of it; yet it was at that time that the Amalekites sought their injury, and this from real hatred to them as the people of the Lord, for they could reap but little advantage from their attack. It was made in the presence of “the glory,” a wicked insult to God, a lifting up of their hand against His throne (Ex. 17:16, marg.). It was both cowardly and cruel, for they fell upon all that were feeble and hindmost and when they were faint and weary. The righteous sentence went forth at once against them, and was subsequently written, the people they had wronged being appointed as ministers of judgment (Deut. 25:19). Thus the Lord made His people's cause His own. To touch them was to touch the apple of His eye.
Dean Milman may be right in saying that the Amalekites were the most harassing of Israel's foes; but he was scarcely so in adding, “It was a cruel but inevitable policy to carry a war of extermination into their country.” Saul last his kingdom and was rejected of the Lord, not because of a mistaken policy in sparing Agag and the best of the spoil from destruction, but for disobedience to an express command. “Now go,” said the Lord of hosts, “and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
No truth is more clearly revealed in scripture than that the Lord put the sword of judgment into the hands of Israel and commanded them to use it with unrelenting severity in certain cases (Deut. 20:10-18). It was an honor conferred on them to execute the judgment written, and this will yet be true of them again, strange as it may sound in our ears (Zech. 9; 10; Psa. 149:6-9, and col. freq.). How different now! Those who have been led to discover in Jesus a Savior, to know the ransom of their souls by His blood, and to receive in Him risen and glorified the free gifts of righteousness and eternal life, are made God's ministers of love, of mercy, and of grace to a rebellious world. The same Divine Lawgiver who, in perfect harmony with the dispensation of the law, said to Saul, “Utterly destroy, and spare them not,” now, in the day of salvation, says to His redeemed, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Matt. 5: see also Romans 12:17-20,
1 Thess. 5:15, 1 Peter 3:9). This is the superlative honor put upon those that are Christ's, and to hear these sayings of the Lord and not to do them is to be like unto a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. Rejection of any of the words of the Lord will assuredly entail loss. The path of obedience in every dispensation is not only the safe path, but the path of present blessing and future glory. The believer is saved, for he has received the word of the truth of the gospel; but let him not stop there. Having life, he is to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. He may lose his crown, though not his soul. To receive Christ is everything now; and as Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord, so the Holy Spirit by the word deals unsparingly with all that is of the flesh in Christians (Gal. 5:17).
In this final test of Saul it is important to observe that there were no difficulties in the path of obedience. The resources at his command were abundant, and the victory was an easy one. The temptation to disobey came wholly from within.
The commandment tested his heart, and it is the heart that the word of God lays bare. As for actions, how many in Saul wore a fair appearance! At first he was modest and humble, little in his own sight, and he ascribed his victory over the Ammonites to the Lord. When “the sons of Belial” insultingly opposed his elevation to the throne, he controlled his feelings and “held his peace “; and afterward, when he was urged to use his power and put them to death, he refused, “For,” said he, “to-day the Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel.”
Indeed most of his expressions savored of piety and his doings of religion. On his introduction to David, when he was refreshed and relieved by the music of his harp, he loved him greatly, and desired of Jesse that he might remain with him; and these memories seem never to have left him. How well, to almost the last, he knew David's voice; and how deep was his remorse in the cave of Engedi when with tears he confessed to him, “Thou art more righteous than I... The Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done to me this day.” And so we read that immediately after his anointing, when he left Samuel to return home, he “was turned into another man,” not only gifted to rule and made valiant in war as became a king, but his whole character got a religious tone. In this latter respect it is one of the most solemn examples, in the most solemn examples in the Old Testament, of what is described in 2 Peter 2:20-22, as true of some in Christendom; and as Saul, more than most, brought ruin on Israel, so have these caused the most mischief in the church. Mere change of character, even when accompanied with forms of piety, is of no account with God so long as the gospel of his grace is not received by faith in the heart. In is a totally different thing when it is.
When that gospel is an implanted word (logos emphutos), not received naturally, but implanted by the Spirit, is believed as the word of God, and is rooted in the heart, then the reformation is radical, permanent, and saving (James 1:21, 1 Peter 1:23, Matt. 13:23). The mind is renewed, the truth is in the inward parts, Christ is received, the soul is saved.
Saul's extreme deadness of conscience is one among many proofs that he was never really converted to God. He never received with meekness the implanted word, but was to the last a rejecter of it, turning at last to witchcraft and necromancy. When Samuel was grieving over him, and spending the whole night crying to the Lord because of his sin, he was setting up “a place” —that is some memorial of his victory—but like Absalom's pillar, a monument to himself (15:12; 2 Sam. 18:18, R.V.). So, when the prophet came to announce to him the judgment of God on his rebelliousness, he boldly met him with a blessing and said, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord” — “a benediction and a falsehood in a breath.”
So callous had he become that he seemed surprised to hear that rejecting the word of the Lord was sin, that “rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry;” and when this was pressed, he, although the king, pleaded his fear of the people! and thought to cover his robbery of the spoil by saying that they took of it to sacrifice unto the Lord.
It was but too evident that, with all his show of religion, the word of God had no place in his heart, and nothing remained for Samuel but to pronounce the sentence passed on him; and never did a judge set before a convicted criminal his guilt in clearer terms. And with what effect on Saul? When everything was at stake with him for time and eternity, when there was no hope save in taking his true place as guilty, self-ruined, and helpless, and seeking mercy of the Lord, he thought only of his position in the world. “I have sinned” he said, “yet honor me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people and before Israel.” Oh! this fatal lust of the praise of men. How many are the souls that have been eternally ruined by it! (John 5:44.)

Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 1-5

The wars of the Lord are now ended, Solomon is on the throne of the Lord. Further glories appear, and a fresh page is turned in the book of God's counsels. The prince of peace is on the throne, and we have the building, and the numbering, the order, and the arrangement of the servants of the temple. Not now as when David ascended the throne, then the numbering was of mighty men of valor, ready armed for war “a great host like the host of God.” Now all enemies are subdued; even the internal disturbers, as Adonijah, Joab and their adherents are not even worthy of mention—the last but equally impotent effort of Satan against God's chosen man. In the joy and glory with which the second book of Chronicles opens all else is either annihilated or enshrined in its brightness. As when the feeble rays of a lamp are over-powered and lost in the light of the mid-day sun, but the precious gem shines in a splendor beyond its own; so the glory of Jehovah rests upon all. It filled the house; and Solomon on his knees before the altar shines more than when sitting on the throne.
The Gentile has the privilege of having a little share in the building of that house; he has the readiness and free-giving of an Israelite, but he has a place there, and we may say a blessed place. And a more blessed place is yet to come. For that house is to be a house of prayer for all nations (Mark 11:17). And the presence of king Huram's laborers may have been the occasion of the psalmist's prophetic utterance. “And the daughter of Tire shall be there with a gift” (Psa. 45:12). And the Tyrian Gentile will shout then with more intelligence.” “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel that made heaven and earth, Who hath given to David a wisdom endued with prudence and understanding that might build a house for the Lord and a house for His kingdom” (2:12). The Gentile's place was subordinate, but participating in Israel's blessedness.
This fact and the psalmist's prophecy must have been known to the scribes and Pharisees who boasted of their knowledge of their law, that in the days of the temple's pristine glory Gentiles were there. Why then raise such a tumult in Paul's day, saying that he had brought a Gentile—an Ephesian into the temple? There was more hatred of Paul than against the Gentile; not so much jealousy of the Gentile as dislike of the truth. No difference! and that salvation was as greatly needed by the Jew, as by the Gentile!
The abiding presence of Jehovah in His house was dependent upon the obedience and faithfulness of the king, and Solomon knowing his responsibility prays for wisdom to govern Israel aright. Doubtless David as a saint knew that he was responsible; but Solomon is presented here as responsible for the right exercise of his kingly functions, and he accordingly asks for wisdom. He asked because he needed. God uses him and sets him in a position, that we may, as it were, look through him as through a glass on to the glories of the Messiah; yet He meets him as a man in his necessities, which became all the greater because he was so highly exalted. The unwisdom of a mean man might pass unnoticed, but folly found in a king would be like dead flies in the apothecary's ointment.
But Messiah, the Lord Jesus, is wisdom, both the wisdom and the power of God (see 1 Cor. 1). and He will ask in that day, yet not for wisdom but for the accomplishment of God's decree. “Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psa. 2:8). Grace postpones that day, for it is the day of judgment. God forbears long with the wicked, and His long-suffering is salvation. When the Lord was about to suffer, He made a very different request to his Father from that which He will make in the day of vengeance. He was occupied with His disciples and said, “I ask for them, I ask not for the world,” (John 17:9).
The present time is characterized by divine patience, and He Who is the coming king reveals Himself now as the Savior. In that day He will ask and receive, and dash them—His enemies—in pieces like a potter's vessel.
The Lord exceedingly magnified Solomon in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him. Alas! no sooner has he reached the topmost glory, than he begins to use his high position, and riches, as a means for the gratifying of the flesh, and the pride of life. He multiplied chariots, sent to Egypt for horses, and multiplied wives and silver and gold (see Deut. 17:16,17). The Lord God had laid down a rule for the guidance of the king. and Solomon disobeys in all points. This could not fail to bring judgment. It was delayed for a little, for the accomplishment of the counsels of God concerning His Son must have the first place. The house of David began to feel the first strokes of judgment in the last days of Solomon. In the following reign the kingdom was rent in twain.
But God's purpose to give a picture of the future blessedness was not yet complete, and judgment must stand aside awhile. The temple must first be built, the glory must fill it. The priest must be sanctified, and the singers—not the least important in that joyful time—must be arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps. Then when the glorious future is presented, the whole panorama is rolled up, and the history of the kingdom is briefly given so as to mark each downward step unto the end.
We think of another white-robed company, whose robes are made white in the blood of the Lamb, whose voices will join in a sweeter song than that of the singers of Israel. It will be the shout of all, “For He is good, for His mercy endureth forever.” But there is a specialty about the white-robed company in Rev. 7:13, &c., &c. The Lamb spreads His tabernacle over them, rather than dwells among these Gentiles. Jehovah, as it were, came down to receive the tribute of praise from Israel's singers, and filled the temple with the cloud of His presence. The picture would not be complete without it.
The foreshadowing of the glories of the millennial reign of Christ is close, for what more can he added, when His glory fills the house? It is the crown of Israel's blessing.
There are seemingly two occasions when the glory filled the house so that the priests could not minister. The first (5:11-14) is before Solomon's prayer, when the trumpeters, singers, and all join with one voice saying, or singing “For He is good, for His mercy endureth forever,” that then the house was filled with a cloud, the cloud appears as an answer to their shout of praise. Jehovah steps down from the heaven of heavens, His dwelling place, to His earthly throne, to receive the praise of His people and reveals His presence by a cloud. On the second occasion (7:3) after Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. Two facts are recorded, the same as on the former occasion. The priests could not enter the temple by reason of the glory, and the people worship and repeat the same words, “For He is good, for His mercy endureth forever.” But when there were two occasions, the Holy Ghost is repeating the joyous record, returning to it after having given Solomon's prayer which gives more cause for grief than for joy, occupied with Israel's sin, and captivity in the end; this scene is the climax of their blessedness, the essence. of their glory. Henceforth the glory declines, the fine gold becomes dim. Not many years after that glorious display, the dark shades of night spread a funeral pall over the guilty city and captive people, which will not he removed, till the nation's moral resurrection, when “many of them that sleep in the dust shall awake” (see Dan. 12).
At this point—Solomon's prayer—there is a transition from the setting forth of the kingly glories and power of the Only-Begotten, in spite of man's failure and errors, to the committal of what was used by God as a vehicle to declare these glories, to the care and responsibilities of man; to a man who was made a king, and endowed with wisdom and honor beyond and other king, before or after, but who was not able to sustain the weight of it. The throne and the temple were entrusted to king Solomon's keeping, and the glory of each dependent upon one man. Solomon knows his position, and prays. He blesses the Lord God, blesses the congregation, then takes the attitude of supplication, and spreads forth his hands towards heaven. As David before the ark, so Solomon before the altar; but what a difference between David's psalm and Solomon's prayer! Though the ark be only in a tent, and the altar be in the gorgeous temple, yet David's view of the coming glory is not hidden by the intervening failure of Israel which limits the outlook of Solomon.
God said to David, “there shall not a man fail thee to sit upon my throne.” There was always a man whose birthright it was to sit upon David's throne. Unworthiness was found in each, but the line of descent continues till Christ came. He is the Man on Whom the Holy Spirit looks. In Him there was, and is, the divine right as well as the human title; for He is the Son of God as well as Son of David, and whatever may intervene between the promise and its fulfillment, He will assuredly sit there. Solomon, unlike David, looks not on to the bright future unless the last words of his prayer (v. 40, &c.) express his faith in God remembering. His mercies to David. The word that presses upon his mind is “Yet so that thy children [David's] take heed to their ways, to walk in my statutes, as thou [David] hast walked before Me.” This gives a supplicatory character to his prayer. David's psalm is rather thanksgiving and praise, for he contemplates Israel in the land, in the enjoyment of God's uninterrupted favor, Solomon sees them rebellious, suffering, and scattered. David calls upon the heavens to be glad, and on the nations to say “The Lord reigneth.” Solomon prays for mercy when Israel shall be dispersed among the nations. David calls on the God of salvation, rejoicing in that name. “Save us” he says, not in view of Israel's backsliding but that the heathen should he finally subdued, for the ark in the temple—the evidence of final victory—was not yet. He is full of the promise. Solomon thinks of his present responsibility, of Israel's sin, and deprecates the righteous anger of God, and, pleading, as it were, the pity and compassion of God in view of the broken covenant, explains, “What man is there that sinneth not?” In a word, David calls upon a happy people to praise the Lord, Solomon prays for mercy and forgiveness for a sinful people; the dominant note in David's song of praise, and with which he closes is “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel forever and ever;” the constantly recurring petition in Solomon's prayer is, Hear Thou from the heavens, and when Thou hearest, forgive.
The time when Messiah will sit upon His throne was then and is still future, but it was present to David's faith. Solomon's prayer is not prophetic of the coming happy time but of the near future when Israel would forsake the Lord, and the Lord forsake His house and dwell in the heaven of heavens. Even there would He hear the supplication and confessions of the repentant. The Holy Spirit through His inspired instrument gives this repeated cry, “Then hear Thou from the heavens, Thy dwelling place,” thus teaching the contrite and humble to look up through the surrounding gloom to God's eternal dwelling place. A gracious intimation that in the last and closing days of the people's long captivity, when in a far country, and no access to the temple, when every outward mark of their still being the chosen people of God is gone, let them only look up to the heaven of heavens, and He Who sits on the throne will hear, and will forgive.

The Psalms Book 2: 50-54

A new series appropriately follows in this cluster of Psalms, which opens with God's summons of His people to judgment; and this calls forth the remnant's confession of corruption and blood-guilt, in both acknowledging the insufficiency of legal sacrifice and offering without brokenness of spirit and confidence in divine grace. In Zion we have an instruction that takes the shape of a plaint against their violent and deceitful oppressor with the assurance of his destruction on God's part, Who will deliver and bless His godly ones in His lovingkindness forever. Then comes the moral exposure of the lawless one, but in terms which the apostle in Rom. 3 applies to those under the law; for indeed the Jews as a mass will be first as their chief, the son of perdition; and the heart of a sinner, where not law only but Christ in grace is abandoned, is no better than an Antichrist; and this is morally true since the cross and the rejection of the gospel. The sense of this in the remnant turns by the Spirit into desire for Israel's salvation when God has scattered the bones of the foes who beleaguered the object of His choice. In Psa. 54 the Spirit of Christ identifies the godly with Himself in resting every expectation on the name of God when covenant mercies are gone; but the end is thanksgiving to Jehovah when He has delivered the godly Jew out of all trouble in the displayed judgment of his enemies.
“A psalm of Asaph. God (El), Elohim-Jehovah, hath spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God will come and not be silent: a fire before him shall devour, and around him it shall be tempestuous. He calleth to the heavens from above and to the earth to judge his people. Gather unto me my saints making my covenant by (over) sacrifice. And the heavens declare his righteousness, for God [is] judge himself. Selah. Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify unto (against) thee: God, thy God, [am] I. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices and thy burnt offerings continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, [nor] he-goats out of thy folds. For mine [is] every beast of the forest, cattle upon a thousand hills; I know every bird of the mountains, and the wealth of the field [is] mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee, for mine [is] the world and its fullness. Shall I eat the bulls (strong ones), and drink the blood of he-goats? Sacrifice unto God thanksgiving and pay unto the Most High thy vows: and call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and the), shalt glorify me. And to the wicked God saith, What [is it] to thee, to declare my statutes? And thou hast taken my covenant into thy mouth, and thou hast hated correction, and hast cast my words behind thee. When thou saweth a thief, thou didst take pleasure in him, and with adulterers [was] thy portion. Thy mouth thou hast sent (let loose) unto evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sitteth, thou speakest against thy brother; against thy mother's son thou utterest slander.
These things hast thou done, and I kept silence, thou thoughtest I was altogether like thee. I will reprove thee and set (them) in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, forgetters of God (Eloah), lest I tear in pieces, and there be no deliverer. He that sacrificeth praise glorifieth me, and to him that ordereth [his] way will I show the salvation of God” (vss. 1-23).
Psalm 50
“To the chief musician a psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him after he went unto Bathsheba. Be gracious unto me, O God, according to thy mercy; according to the multitude of thy compassions blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sins. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is continually before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and have done the evil in thy sight (eyes); that thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, and be near when thou judgest. Behold, in iniquity was I born, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou hast desired truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden [part] thou wilt make me to know wisdom. Thou wilt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; thou wilt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Thou wilt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones thou hast broken shall rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create for me a pure heart, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from thy presence, and the spirit of thy holiness take not from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and let a free spirit uphold me. I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall turn unto thee. Deliver me from blood, O God, God of my salvation; my tongue shall celebrate thy righteousness. O Lord, thou wilt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare thy praise. For thou delightest not in sacrifice, else would I give it; in burnt offering thou dost not take pleasure. The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit; a heart broken and contrite, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure to Zion; thou wilt build the walls of Jerusalem. Then thou shalt delight in sacrifices of righteousness, burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar” (vss. 1-21).
Plainly these two psalms are closely bound together, though the first is a public and general summons, the second a private and personal confession, which at the end the godly remnant will take up as their own in view of corruption and the blood shedding of the Messiah, the great transgression. Real godliness is requisite, not sacrifice, in the former; in the latter not sacrifice but genuine repentance. Ceremonial observances are in vain, when God judges us even on the earth, yet more for eternity. Boasting of the law serves only the more to condemn the sinner
.
Psalm 52
“To the chief musician upon Mahaleth; a psalm of instruction of David, when Doeg the Edomite went in, and told Saul and said to him, David went to the house of Ahimelech. Why boastest thou thyself in evil, O mighty man? The mercy of God [is] all the day. Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs, as a sharp razor, working deceit. Thou hast loved evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking righteousness. Selah. Thou hast loved all words of destruction, O tongue of deceit. God shall also destroy thee forever; he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of tent, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah. The righteous also shall see and fear, and laugh at him. Behold the man (strong one) that made not God his strength, but confided in the abundance of his riches; he strengthened himself in his wickedness. But for me, I [am] like a green olive-tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise thee forever, for thou hast done [it], and I will hope in thy name, for it is good before thy saints (vss. 1-9).
As we had the saints brought to renounce ceremonies as a substitute for righteousness and repentance, now we have the treacherous enemy portrayed, and the saints in their helpless exposure suffering, but delivered by the destruction that falls on the Edomite at the end, when good shall flourish like the olive and give thanks forever.
Psalm 53
“To the chief musician upon Mahaleth; a psalm of instruction of David. The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They have corrupted themselves, they have done abominable iniquity; there is none doing good. God looked down from the heavens upon the sons of man to see if there were one understanding, seeking God. Every one hath departed; together they are become corrupt; there is none doing good, there is not even one. Have not the workers of iniquity known, eating my people [as] they have eaten bread? They called not upon God. There have they greatly feared [where] no fear was; for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee. Thou hast put [them] to shame, for God hath rejected them. Who will give; out of Zion the salvation of Israel? When God turneth the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, Israel shall be glad” (vss. 1-8).
This is the great folly of man, but most guiltily among the Jews, denying Him to Whom we owe all, Who had above all chosen and favored them. Their fear is to come, whatever their contempt and hatred of God's people now. As for the righteous, they had no reason to fear: God's judgment will fall when least expected. And His word proclaims it across the ages.
Psalm 54
“To the chief musician upon Neginoth (stringed instruments); a psalm of instruction of David, when the Ziphites went in and said to Saul, Is not David hiding himself with me? O God, by thy might judge (vindicate) me. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors sought after my soul; they set not God before them. Selah. Behold, God [is] a helper for me; the Lord. [is] with them that uphold my soul. He will requite the evil to my adversaries: in thy truth cut them off. With a freewill offering I will sacrifice unto thee; I will praise thy name, O Jehovah, for [it is] good. For out of trouble, he delivered me; and mine eye hath looked (seen its desire) upon mine enemies” (vss. 1-9).
The name of God (Elohim) will be everything in that dark hour to the godly Jews in the latter day, when they find themselves driven away by their apostate brethren amalgamated with the lawless Gentiles, and Antichrist at their head. God's. name is the revelation of what He is, and to this they cling in faith, when they have lost all else. As they besought by it, so they will give thanks and praise it when it emerges as Jehovah (ver. 8), in the power and glory of His day when His hand makes good what His mouth had spoken.

Psalm 50

“To the chief musician a psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him after he went unto Bathsheba. Be gracious unto me, O God, according to thy mercy; according to the multitude of thy compassions blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sins. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is continually before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and have done the evil in thy sight (eyes); that thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, and be near when thou judgest. Behold, in iniquity was I born, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou hast desired truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden [part] thou wilt make me to know wisdom. Thou wilt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; thou wilt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Thou wilt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones thou hast broken shall rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create for me a pure heart, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from thy presence, and the spirit of thy holiness take not from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and let a free spirit uphold me. I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall turn unto thee. Deliver me from blood, O God, God of my salvation; my tongue shall celebrate thy righteousness. O Lord, thou wilt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare thy praise. For thou delightest not in sacrifice, else would I give it; in burnt offering thou dost not take pleasure. The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit; a heart broken and contrite, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure to Zion; thou wilt build the walls of Jerusalem. Then thou shalt delight in sacrifices of righteousness, burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar” (vss. 1-21).
Plainly these two psalms are closely bound together, though the first is a public and general summons, the second a private and personal confession, which at the end the godly remnant will take up as their own in view of corruption and the blood shedding of the Messiah, the great transgression. Real godliness is requisite, not sacrifice, in the former; in the latter not sacrifice but genuine repentance. Ceremonial observances are in vain, when God judges us even on the earth, yet more for eternity. Boasting of the law serves only the more to condemn the sinner

Psalm 52

“To the chief musician upon Mahaleth; a psalm of instruction of David, when Doeg the Edomite went in, and told Saul and said to him, David went to the house of Ahimelech. Why boastest thou thyself in evil, O mighty man? The mercy of God [is] all the day. Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs, as a sharp razor, working deceit. Thou hast loved evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking righteousness. Selah. Thou hast loved all words of destruction, O tongue of deceit. God shall also destroy thee forever; he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of tent, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah. The righteous also shall see and fear, and laugh at him. Behold the man (strong one) that made not God his strength, but confided in the abundance of his riches; he strengthened himself in his wickedness. But for me, I [am] like a green olive-tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise thee forever, for thou hast done [it], and I will hope in thy name, for it is good before thy saints (vss. 1-9).
As we had the saints brought to renounce ceremonies as a substitute for righteousness and repentance, now we have the treacherous enemy portrayed, and the saints in their helpless exposure suffering, but delivered by the destruction that falls on the Edomite at the end, when good shall flourish like the olive and give thanks forever.

Psalm 53

“To the chief musician upon Mahaleth; a psalm of instruction of David. The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They have corrupted themselves, they have done abominable iniquity; there is none doing good. God looked down from the heavens upon the sons of man to see if there were one understanding, seeking God. Every one hath departed; together they are become corrupt; there is none doing good, there is not even one. Have not the workers of iniquity known, eating my people [as] they have eaten bread? They called not upon God. There have they greatly feared [where] no fear was; for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee. Thou hast put [them] to shame, for God hath rejected them. Who will give; out of Zion the salvation of Israel? When God turneth the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, Israel shall be glad” (vss. 1-8).
This is the great folly of man, but most guiltily among the Jews, denying Him to Whom we owe all, Who had above all chosen and favored them. Their fear is to come, whatever their contempt and hatred of God's people now. As for the righteous, they had no reason to fear: God's judgment will fall when least expected. And His word proclaims it across the ages.

Psalm 54

“To the chief musician upon Neginoth (stringed instruments); a psalm of instruction of David, when the Ziphites went in and said to Saul, Is not David hiding himself with me? O God, by thy might judge (vindicate) me. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors sought after my soul; they set not God before them. Selah. Behold, God [is] a helper for me; the Lord. [is] with them that uphold my soul. He will requite the evil to my adversaries: in thy truth cut them off. With a freewill offering I will sacrifice unto thee; I will praise thy name,
O Jehovah, for [it is] good. For out of trouble, lie delivered me; and mine eye hath looked (seen its desire) upon mine enemies” (vss. 1-9).
The name of God (Elohim) will be everything in that dark hour to the godly Jews in the latter day, when they find themselves driven away by their apostate brethren amalgamated with the lawless Gentiles, and Antichrist at their head. God's name is the revelation of what He is, and to this they cling in faith, when they have lost all else. As they besought by it, so they will give thanks and praise it when it emerges as Jehovah (ver. 8), in the power and glory of His day when His hand makes good what His mouth had spoken.

Worship of the Father

John 4:20-22
When the conscience is awakened, the need and the duty of worship are felt. So we see of old in Naaman when cured of leprosy by the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 5:27). Yet the difficulty is great for souls, as men differ in nothing more, and too often plead this patent fact to excuse themselves from all concern. Not so does the Samaritan now at least. fie Who had told her the truth and brought her conscience before God could surely solve the dilemma. Directly therefore after owning Him as a prophet, she presents the case. Divine authority must clear up what was contested so stoutly. And she is the more bold to ask after the wondrous persevering grace she had experienced.
“Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what; we worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews” (vss. 20-22).
A venerable antiquity has a strong hold on human feeling, and especially in religion. Even a Samaritan could go back a long way and boast of succession. “Our fathers... in this mountain.” It was a serious thing virtually to condemn their race and ancestors! It is more serious still to leave God out of a question which He has the right to answer. The Samaritans after all never had been a great nation. Yet what great nation ever had God so nigh to them as Israel had their covenant God Jehovah whensoever they called on Him? But did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as Israel heard, and live? They alone were His chosen nation, as Jehovah is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath: there is none else.
Therefore the Lord Jesus could not but allow the plea for Jerusalem as against “this mountain” of Samaria. The Samaritans worshipped that which they did not know. The Jews were used to worship that which they knew; and this on a firm foundation, because “salvation is of the Jews.” Theirs are the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the law giving, and the service, and the promises; theirs the “Fathers” in the best sense; and of them as concerning the flesh is the Christ, Who is over all, God blessed forever, Amen. He as the woman's seed, as David's and David's Lord, Son of God (Psa. 2) and Immanuel, had been evermore the One to Whom Israel looked and on whom faith rested; and this Himself here vindicated.
“Salvation is of the Jews “; in that line only is the promised Seed in Whom dead and risen shall all the nation be blessed. For if the promise be to the Jews, pre-eminently to their Messiah, never was it for them alone, but that the grace of God might bless faith wherever it wrought, and so in particular where need was greatest and man could least boast.
So did the Lord now deal with the woman, guiding her to boast only in the Father, the only true God, far from the vain confidence of man; and assuredly Samaria had nothing better than others. The truth comes not by succession. Natural descent is no guarantee, any more than human priests or sacred places, still less scribes and lawyers. Jerusalem was proving itself as far from the Father as Gerizim; for His Son was “rejected by men,” and by none so bitterly as by the Jews. This gives occasion to the richest display of grace in the gospel; and the Savior announces it more fully than ever before, not to Nicodemus who heard much but to her of Samaria who heard far more. “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father.”
That hour is now come.. When the crucified Lord died, the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom. This solemn act on God's part ratified the Savior's sentence. The place of worship is changed from earth to heaven. The earthly people refused, even to the death of the cross, the Lord of all the earth. But He is no less the Lord of heaven; and on high God has highly exalted Him Whom not man only but His own people chiefly cast out, and thus proved their own evil and ruin to the uttermost. This is just the moment for God to prove His own good; for through that very death of Christ propitiation was made for sins. Thereon the Holy Spirit was sent down to proclaim God's glad tidings to guilty sinners; so that the vilest may be forgiven by the faith of Christ and His blood, yea become thereby sons of God, free and called to worship the Father. Even the babes or little children of God's family know the Father (1 John 2:13.), and are capable of worshipping Him, not as Jehovah now, but as Father.
Nor is any other worship now acceptable. For God is thus fully revealed: the Only-begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. The partial measure of Judaism has passed away, no less than Samaritan pretension or any other. Grace and truth came through Jesus; and the testimony of the Holy Spirit is to Him as the sole way to the Father.
My fellow-sinners, renounce self, renounce man; for all sinned, all are lost, and are seen to be so when the true light shines as it does now, as truly as in the day of judgment. This, however true, would be the saddest news, were it all. But the Son of God is come and has given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. If we believe in Him, our sins are forgiven us for His name's sake. For this is He that carpe by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because He is the truth. The Son of God is the Son of Man Who came to seek and to save that which is lost.
Say not that you are too bad for Jesus to receive and bless, and bring you to God. You are indeed too bad for anyone but Jesus, Who has assured us that “him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.” Fear not then to cast your soul on His grace just as you are. Beware of Satan and his ministers who would persuade you to make yourself more worthy before you believe on His name: there is no surer way to put Him off and lose your own soul forever. Undoubtedly your sins apart from Jesus deserve perdition; but Christ and His death have infinitely glorified God as to sin, so that the door of salvation is open to you or any other that believes in Him. Then and not till then will you worship the Father. There is nothing higher in heaven; yet you on earth begin that worship, which is of heaven and will never end.

Hebrews 7:11-14

Thus far in our chapter the scripture unfolded is that given in the close of Genesis 14; and there is shown a priesthood incontestably superior to that of Aaron, royal in character no less than in place, expressly in relation to God's supremacy, and exercised at the moment of the victory of faith over the hitherto victorious powers of the world; distinguished by blessing, emphatically by blessing downwards and upwards, the father of the faithful blessing God Most High, and God Most High blessing him; and we can add from the ancient oracle, as “possessor of heaven and earth": to say nothing more now of the varied points of contrast with Aaron, which can be realized only in that Man who is God, the sole Man of whom the Spirit could say, “The same yesterday, and today, and forever.” If Melchizedek in the type abides a priest continually, the Son of God so abides in very deed.
Three proofs of inferiority in the Levitical priesthood follow. Melchizedek received tithes of him whom all Israel acknowledged as their father and chief. Abraham, the original depositary of the promises, and heir of the world, was blessed by the same august personage; and indisputably the less is blessed by the better. Again, Levitical priests without exception up to Aaron are but dying men, whereas we only hear of Melchizedek living, without one word of his death. And none can deny that the patriarchal head of the tribe that boasted of the priestly family, if he receive tithes from the people, paid tithes in Abraham to Melchizedek whose superiority was thus indelibly marked in God's word.
But the scripture quoted already (Heb. 5:6) from the book of Psalms (110:4) is distinct in predicating of the Messiah this highest priesthood of the Most High God. Here only is found perfection of priesthood. His person and His work alike warrant this confidence. Nowhere else is it, or can it be even conceivably. Jesus only is saluted of God as high priest after the order of Melchizedek, as the inspired Psalmist spoke of Jehovah, in the most solemn way, owning Him in this style, alone and forever. Hence our Epistle deduces another proof of Levitical inferiority.
“If then perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for upon it the people have received the law), what further need that a different priest should arise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called [or said to be after the order of Aaron? For the priest changed, there taketh place of necessity a change also of law. For he of whom these things are said belongeth to a different tribe, from which no one hath given attention to the altar. For evidently out of Judah hath our Lord sprung, as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests” (Heb. 7:11-14).
If Moses testifies of a prophet to come like himself but greater far, so does David in Spirit of an ever-abiding priest according to the order, not of Aaron, but of Melchizedek. This is and secures perfection. It is Jehovah, Himself that announces it, long after Aaron, longer still after the historical king-priest of Salem. It unequivocally points to Messiah, but Messiah on the one hand to sit on the right hand of Jehovah, and on the other to strike through kings in the day of His wrath and to judge among the nations. The bearing of this is immediate, powerful, and beyond mistake. Aaronic order gives place to a far surpassing one, of which Melchizedek was but the shadow, in the person and offices of Christ, the center of all glory, intrinsic and conferred; with the momentous basis of His redemption work, that He might be free to bless righteously, according to all the love and counsels of God, those who could have no other claim, but contrariwise had sin, guilt, and curse.
Perfection thus is manifestly not through the Levitical priesthood, which is but provisional, from first to last characterized by infirmity and even sins; and indeed it was to make propitiation for the one and to intercede for the other, with imperfection everywhere attending its transitory nature. How different in every way the true and great Melchizedek! How glorious His place on high! How unfailing too the blessing, not only for those who now believing follow Him in Spirit where He is at God's right hand, but for those spared on earth when the rod of His power is sent out of Zion, and blessing flows here below as the exercise of His priesthood. God Most High will be then the manifest possessor of heaven and earth, as the rejected but exalted Messiah will be the channel and guarantee of blessing, the King as well as Priest in the displayed glory of that day.
But Israel had the law given them under the condition of the Levitical priesthood, and on no other footing could it be. A faulty people could not draw near to God as things then were with no more than a figurative redemption and sacrifices. A failing priesthood must intervene tremblingly and with rigor of rite and ceremonial on pain of death if transgressed. There was clearly nowhere in that system “perfection"; yet perfection there must be to meet the mind, love, and holiness of God. It is attainable and found only in Christ, as it is here shown in Him “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Therefore, as is argued, the further need of a different priest arising as the Holy Spirit has predicted, according to that supreme order of blessing without fail, the glorified Messiah, and not said to be after Aaron's order. And the change of the priest necessitates a change also of law. This is the true statement of inspiration here; not of “the law” as has been said by a lively but often erratic commentator, but “of law.” There is a totally different principle henceforth. Grace only can save a sinner, not the law, nor a mixture of law and grace, which only the more condemns the guilty as being the less to be excused. It is by grace alone that the believer is or can be saved; through righteousness indeed, but this exclusively in Christ, however truly the faith of Him produces its fruit abundantly through Him unto God's glory and praise. It was when He had made purification of sins, as we read at the beginning of the Epistle, that He set Himself down on the right hand of the Majesty, though it is only in the tenth chapter that we learn fully the perfected status of the Christian.
And the change is shown further by the fact which is next noticed, that He of whom these things are said belonged to, or had His part in a different tribe, not Levi but Judah, from which no one had ever been officially attached to the altar. For it was plain before all that our Lord, as it is added, “hath sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe Moses spoke nothing about priests.” The break was as clear as decisive. Messiah was to be born of David's line, of a virgin espoused to a man of the Solomonic branch: so prophecy declared; and as He on high, after His sacrificial death and His resurrection, was saluted of God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, it was undeniable that the change from Aaron's family tribe was divinely marked beyond all controversy.
Thus Christianity is essentially different from Judaism. No doubt that man's rationalism and ethics are radically worthless and false. There is in both, there was for the Jew visibly, a priest and a sacrifice, a sanctuary, and an altar; but their nature wholly differs by the intention and word of God. Therefore there is no excuse for ignorance; for the O.T. prepares for what the N. T. propounds with all plainness of speech. The essence and substance of all blessing to faith is in Christ, rejected of men and of the Jew especially, but risen and at God's right hand; and we who believe belong to Him for heaven, as this Epistle elaborately proves. He is coming to bring us there in His own likeness. Every Christian is already not sanctified or hallowed only but perfected by His one offering. But in these days of declension and self-complacency, is there aught that Christians need to learn of God more than their own Christianity as He has revealed it, unless it be Christ Himself on whom all depends? Even saints are slow to believe the grace and glory of His cross, as they instinctively shirk the crucifixion of the world to them and of themselves to the world which it entails. But this is the word of the Lord for His own now. (Gal. 6).

The Gospel and the Church: 21. The Way of Church Discipline

In what way ought Christian discipline to be carried out?
Having spoken already as to the way of carrying out Christian discipline in its two first aspects, we now only have to consider the way and manner, in which church discipline is to be effected.
First of all we shall do well to remember that the way of transacting church discipline is closely connected with the spirit in which it ought to be practiced, on which I have dwelt in the preceding paper. For if in the exercise of church discipline the Spirit of grace and truth is active within us, that divine Guide, dwelling in us, being ungrieved, will not fail to guide in the way and manner of carrying it into effect. Only let us ever be mindful that this blessed Spirit of truth can and will never prompt us to act without, let alone contrary to, the word indited by Himself, which is truth.
And what is it especially, that we find expressed so distinctly and decidedly in the word of God as to the way of carrying church discipline into effect? Is it not the common responsibility of the members of Christ before Him our Head in glory, as well as their mutual responsibility, as to any unjudged God-dishonoring sin, defiling the assembly as such? Let us take again the case at Corinth. That church had sunk to such a low spiritual condition, that they had become unmindful of their responsibility to “purge out the old leaven.”
How did the apostle proceed in that, humanly speaking, desperate case? Did he hold a private conference with Titus, Timothy, Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus and a few others of his fellow-laborers, in order to come to a conclusion and decision in this matter? Did he say to them: The condition of the church at Corinth is so bad and spiritually so low, the spiritual life so feeble, the flesh so strong and prevalent, and the consciences so sleepy and inert, that there remains nothing but to take matters into our own hands, and to decide instead of them to put away that wicked person from the assembly? Does he send Titus or Timothy or Stephanas to Corinth with a message to the assembly, that he as an apostle, or, let us say, he and the other brothers with him had resolved to take the necessary church discipline into their own hands, and, carrying it out for them, had put away that wicked person from amongst them?
What would have been the effect of such an action? Why, the church at Corinth, had it “bowed” to such a resolution, and, acting upon it, had considered that wicked person as having been put away from among them, would have acted in the fear of the apostle and of the brethren with him, instead of under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in the fear of the Lord. The consciences and hearts of the Corinthians would not have been exercised before God in His holy and gracious presence as to the evil they had allowed in their midst. In getting rid of one evil, they would only have opened the door to another evil, thus exchanging one “leaven” for another.
But what did the apostle? In his character and authority as such he indeed did say, “For verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
But first of all the apostle says (ver. 4), “When ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Whilst speaking as an apostle, he entirely identifies himself with the church at Corinth simply as a member of the body of Christ, by saying, “When ye are gathered together and my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ” (not “with my apostolic power”). He seeks to bring the consciences of the Corinthians into the presence of Christ instead of into his own apostolic presence, so that they might. act “in the fear of Christ,” and not in the fear of the apostle, i.e. in the fear of men. Whilst, in virtue of his apostolic authority, delivering that wicked person to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (Job 2:6-7), he at the same time takes care to remind the Corinthians of their own responsibility for acting themselves in carrying out the church discipline, for he continues, “Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth.” He does not say, “We have excluded from among you that person, and all you have to do is to notify this to the assembly,” but, “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”
True, the same apostle writes to the Hebrews, “Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” We also do well to remember that the apostle writes to the Corinthians at the close of the same Epistle, “I beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints), that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.”
God forbid that any should say or write anything that would tend to weaken or undermine the spiritual authority of rulers, pastors, teachers or overseers given by the Lord Himself, and to incite or foster in the churches a spirit of disregard and opposition against any true spiritual authority, appointed by God. Such a spirit is not from above but from beneath, as we learn from the Epistle of Jude, by where we are warned against two evil extremes. The one is that of “having men's persons in admiration because of advantage,” and the other that of “despising dominion and speaking evil of dignities.” Each of the two is a great sin, but whilst the former is innate in human nature (though none the less sinful and hateful), the latter is directly devilish and abominable.
But when those who have been looked up to, as leaders, have become so unmindful of their responsibility to the Lord and of their obligation to the church of God, accruing from the position they had held there, as to have attempted, especially in cases of church discipline, to lead the consciences of the saints practically away from Christ under their own superintendence and authority, they are no longer to be regarded nor treated as “leaders” but as “misleaders” or “seducers.”
Only a few years ago the writer of these lines stayed some time as a visitor in a certain district (not of Great Britain), where there were numerous gatherings consisting of those who professedly avowed, held, and taught the simple truths of the church of God as presented in the scriptures. Amongst them it had become a usual practice, that by a certain gathering in a large town (the “Jerusalem” as it were, for all the gatherings in the land, at least for as many as were willing to own such an allegiance and there were hardly any who dared to disown it),—cases of church discipline were taken in hand and carried out, not only for neighboring but for distant gatherings likewise. Daring their Saturday night's private sittings at a private house some “ruling brethren,” as they were called settled among themselves any case of church discipline that had arisen in the gathering at that metropolitan center. Their decision was then made known on the Lord's day morning to the church as an accomplished fact which admitted of no contradiction. But those “ruling brothers” did not confine their activity to cases of church discipline in the gathering to which they belonged. They also took up questions of church discipline that had arised in neighboring, and even in distant gatherings, and then sent one or two delegates to the gathering in question, in order to notify to that meeting on the next Lord's day as an accomplished fact that such or such a brother or sister had put away from among themselves by the brethren at “Jerusalem.” On one of those occasions it even occurred that a brother, who protested against such a procedure, was also put away because of “insubordination.”
Where is the fear of God in such proceedings? Where is the word of God to justify it? What becomes of the guidance of the Holy Ghost in the assembly? What of the due respect to the consciences of the saints?
“With force and with cruelty ye have ruled them” (Ezek. 34:4). “I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (10).
There may be questions of church discipline, as for instance in cases of immorality, dishonesty and evil doctrine where true wisdom, love and godly care for the flock of Christ would equally forbid to make the whole of an assembly, young and old, acquainted with all the details of such gross sins. Such a procedure would not only not be helpful to the spiritual condition of the saints, especially the young, but only too often the very, opposite. One can hardly imagine anything more injurious to the spiritual life, progress and growth of an assembly, than such a procedure. The same it would be in cases of evil doctrines, where the soul-poisoning influence would often prove more disastrous still.
In cases like these it appears not only advisable but indispensable for the spiritual welfare of an assembly, that some elder brothers of spiritual weight and intelligence, should take up cases of discipline referred to above and sift the whole before it is put to the assembly for decision. In this way the consciences of the saints forming the assembly are properly exercised before God, without their hearts having been defiled by being occupied with the specialties of the leaven that had to be purged out. The assembly having then decided as to the necessity of exclusion, it is made known on the first day of the following week.
This way of carrying into effect the solemn act of discipline is according to God and His word, and very different from the above mentioned ungodly ways of procedure. In the former case, where a few “ruling brothers” take upon themselves the discipline to be exercised by the assembly, the consciences of the saints are left without exercise before God and put under human authority instead. In the latter of those two mischievous procedures, that is where the whole meeting, young and old, are made acquainted and, so to speak, familiar with details of the defiling leaven in all kinds of disgraceful cases, there is but too great a danger for the hearts, especially of the tender lambs of the flock, getting familiarized with evil and consequently callous or indifferent if not actually poisoned by it. It is difficult to say, which of the two would be the I worst: the hardening of the conscience from want of exercise before God; or the defiling and poisoning of the heart from too much of exercise and details demanding discipline.
May the God of all grace, through the Spirit of truth, power, love and of a sound mind, guide and bless us with that wisdom which is from above, in order that we may be filled “with fruit of righteousness unto the day of Christ,” and not be ashamed away at His coming.
Finally I would remark that there are two cases where a saint's personal withdrawal from a meeting would be not only justified, but imperative. The first is that of an assembly obstinately refusing to exclude such are guilty of unrighteousness and immorality. The second is that of a gathering remaining in fellowship with such are guilty of heresy and heterodoxy (evil doctrine). For discipline being one of the essential characteristics of the church, as the “house of the living God,” a gathering which refuses that discipline, ceases to be an assembly in the sense of the word of God, by willingly harboring the evil and refusing to judge it and put it away. Only every scriptural effort is due in warning and entreaty before such an extreme step can be lawfully taken.
As to the godly obligation for every believer of absolute separation in cases of heresy and heterodoxy, this has become, especially in these “perilous times” and “last days,” a subject of such paramount importance, that, before closing these remarks on Christian discipline, I purpose to offer D.V. in my next paper a few distinct remarks on this subject.

Scripture Imagery: 89. Provision for the Leper

It seems pitiless to put the leper out from the camp, but in reality it is in pity that it is done, pity to others. Moreover there are some evidences that God has a special consideration for the dreadfully unfortunate creatures thus expelled from the company of their fellows, and that—on some occasions at least—He reveals Himself in an especial nearness to the Banished, as in the case of that ecstatic vision to the exiles of Judah in the forty-fifth Psalm. And here is matter for thought: “Where God can go, I may go,” say some; but no; not always. To go there may mean defilement to the disciple, but He can no more be defiled by any contamination than the sunbeams which fall on the pestilent swamp. The Lord who touched the lepers without contracting defilement goes where and does what He pleases: we should go where and do what we are told.
But we have not learned the first rudiments of Christianity if our sympathies do not go out after the outcast and afflicted, to pray and desire that their way may be through darkness to light, through sorrow to joy, through misery to God. How must the celestial light of the gospel seem to shine with unutterable brightness in a place like the Leper Settlements in Molokai or Robben Island, like a constellation in the blackness of a midnight sky. These poor wretches who have no hope on earth have appeared to be especially ready to welcome the proffer of hope for a future life, and divine sympathy. The four lepers shut out of Samaria reached the spoil first after all, and became privileged ambassadors: the ten lepers of Samaria lifted up their blighted eyes and saw One approaching them whom the princes of the earth shall seek in vain. There may be more compensations than we know of in some of these afflicted lives, especially if we join on time to eternity, for the one is not complete without the other.
Here is a chord sounded in the bass,—discordant, jarring, wailing, repelling... Wait, till we sound this treble chord with it... Ah, that is different; now it is a complete concord; the higher clef is joined on to the lower, interblends with it, explains and harmonizes it. The celestial answers to the terrestrial and resolves its wailing discords. It may be that the higher chord is a long and weary time withheld... and meanwhile the jarring and wailing goes on, “No one so utterly desolate, But some heart, though unknown, Responds unto his own:
“Responds—as though with unseen wings
An angel touched its quivering strings;
And whispers in its song,
Where hast thou stayed so long?”
When shall we cease to reason within ourselves as though time were all and death ended all. It transfigures everything to lengthen our view and widen our horizon, to see that eternity is joined on to time, that our journey does not cease at the cold disconsolate wharf, but stretches out beyond over the illimitable and infinite sea. In the poem beginning “La tombe dit A. la rose,” the grave inquires of the flower what becomes of all the “tears” that fall upon her bosom in the dawn, and the rose replies that she transforms them into a perfume “d'ambre et de miel.” She demands then what the grave does with all those who fall into its ruthless maw, and the grave says he transfigures them into celestial spirits. Death does not end all. It is merely the line which comes between the bass and treble clefs.
Is there not a special design and appeal of the heavenly invitation to those who have a miserable destiny in this world? “The poor have the gospel preached unto them.” Christ is specially at home in the Lazarettos. He can contract no contamination and His sympathizing words give present consolation and future hope. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. I think of the times when the Black Death, the Plague, and Cholera stalked, grim and ghastly, through the habitations of men, and of the red cross painted on the plague-stricken houses, with the words “Lord have mercy upon us” underneath; and think how strange it is that this Roman gibbet, once the infamous symbol of a penal death, should be now a universal symbol of sympathy and mercy. What misery has it covered through the long dark ages! What consolation it has yielded! I cannot easily forget what a Negro once told me of the Christian leper assemblies in the West India Isles; what solace it is to them in all their misery to have a hope and portion in Christ; how they fulfill His dying request to eat bread and drink wine together in remembrance of Him; how the bread had to be broken and placed on the wrists of some, because their hands were gone!...
Resuming consideration of the matter typically, we find that God has made especial and elaborate arrangements to meet the desperate need of persons in this terrible condition. There were four things required, namely, Healing, Pardon, Cleansing, and Consecration. As to the first, men have tried many things but there seems no authentic case of real leprosy cured by human means on record. Dr. Koch's injections are the latest means used in Robben's Island, but without the slightest success. We think we know everything now that they tell us that the white blood-corpuscles or phagocytes eat up the disease germs. We have only to increase the number of phagocytes and disease is killed; yet somehow men still suffer and die. Nor would we in any way undervalue the skill and service of those who have advanced the medical science in the van of all the others; but simply say that leprosy, or sins of leprous types, God alone has been able to cure, and—so far as we at present know—God alone by direct power ever will be able to cure.
But there was much more besides curing. “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought unto the priest, and the priest shall go forth out of the camp. . .”
It is not a thing that is to take place in heaven by-and-by, but now and here (as to the antitype). “And behold if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper.” Then succeeds a long and elaborate, though happily familiar and well-understood, series of types; concerning which it is perhaps simplest to say that when our blessed Savior stretched out His hand and touched the leper with the words “I will, be clean,” He fulfilled them all and supplanted them all.
Peace with God is a state of mind in the unclouded consciousness of what God is (but necessarily according to His nature) to us according to the value of Christ's work, and in Him.
There is another order of peace from the conformity itself to this nature—a subjective peace. “The mind of the Spirit is life and peace.”

Effectual Power and Imitative Effort

Divine spiritual power is said in scripture to operate in three spheres, viz; (1) in the individual believer's life, (2) in the assemblies of the saints and (3) in the proclamation of the gospel. And in each of these relations there is found counterfeit action to which is may be profitable briefly to refer by way of warning.
First then, it is plainly declared that God gives to believers the Spirit of power (Acts 1:8) in order that even the feeblest may boldly partake of the afflictions of the gospel in testimony for Him (2 Tim. 1:7, 8). And in proof of its divine origin, this power has the peculiar property of becoming more abundant and more easily available in proportion as it is needed and drawn upon, contrary to mere human power which must of necessity lessen the more it is used. This blessed fact the apostle learned from the Lord's words, “My strength is made perfect in weakness “; and on that account he gloried in his infirmities, so that the power of Christ might rest upon him (2 Cor. 12:9). Not only, however, in times of difficulty but constantly, the power of God keeps (1 Peter 1:5), strengthens (Col. 1:11), establishes (Rom. 16:25) and works in us (Eph. 3:20), bringing our self-willed hearts into the obedience of Christ, and, instead of anger, lust and malice, producing love, joy and peace. Indeed it is only as God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13) that we can live acceptably before Him.
But it is by no means impossible to imitate the more manifest fruit of the Spirit; indeed hypocrisy is recognized and most severely denounced throughout the word of God. But however good the counterfeit, it must be empty and vain, being the product of human and not divine power. For instance, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed to shut and to open the very heavens above. James 5:16-18. But the street prayer, despite its punctiliousness and though accompanied by a disheveled beard and unwashed face, was of no value before God (Matt. 6). Although it counted much among men, it was neither heard in heaven nor answered on earth. For external imitations of love, zeal, beneficence to the poor, and the like, never deceive God Who views the motive in the heart. When the glory of God, however, is before the soul, His power works to the accomplishment of that end. But if self-glorification be the motive, the divine power ceases to act and human energy has to take its place. And often when there is a loss of real power, it is sought to remedy the defect by an increase of outward zealousness and devotion.
As Samson, though shorn by Delilah, went out and shook himself even as at other times; but his strength had departed and would not return with a shake. It is always easier to pretend to power than to confess to failure; though, for all that, the latter is the real source of strength. “When I am weak, then am I strong.” And as it is characteristic of these days to have a form of godliness denying the power thereof (2 Tim. 3:5), may sincerity of motive and humility of heart be cultivated by those who desire to be faithful amid such unreality.
In the second place, the power of God operates among the saints in their corporate capacity. All that believe are united by intimate and indissoluble bonds (1 Cor. 12:11-13); and an indwelling energy is ever acting “according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). Thus at the beginning, the whole body of saints, led on by the power of the Spirit, was filled with the reciprocating desire for the well-being of the members, to such an extent that they sold their possessions and had all things common (Acts 4:32 -37). These beautiful acts of self-denial for one another's benefit were counterfeited by Ananias and Sapphira, who laid down at the apostles' feet a part of the price of their possessions as if it were the whole. This intended deception was immediately judged by the Holy Ghost as abominable in His sight; and they were both cut off as a solemn warning to all such hypocrites.
Again, the assembly from the beginning was empowered to remit sins in a governmental way (Matt. 18:18, John 20:23). This is exemplified in every case of reception at the Lord's table, wherein the saints formally declare their belief that the Lord has forgiven the sins of such and such a one; and, accordingly, they welcome him or her to a place of fellowship among those who have also been forgiven. Compare the case of Saul (Acts 9:26, 27). In like manner, the assembly has the power of retaining sins. Thus if a believer persists in unrepentant sin, the assembly gathered together “with the power of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5) are capable of casting that one without the pale of the church in order that the honor of the Lord's name and the holiness of His table may be maintained, and also that the offender himself may be thereby brought to repentance.
A misuse of this power is seen in 3 John 8, 9. There we find that malicious self-will worked in Diotrephes to such a degree that he, usurping lordship over the flock of God, forbade the assembly to receive the apostle and moreover cast out any who would. This was mere groundless pretense to the power of excommunication. And the history of the church abounds in similar examples; and even our own times are by no means destitute of instances of such unwarranted assumption. And therefore it is by no means needless to point out with what supreme care these powers of exclusion and inclusions, vested in the church, should he exercised so that the action in every case may be of God and not a human sham.
Referring to another phase of the same fact, we find 1 Cor. 12 and 14, show in detail that power has been bestowed in the assembly for worship and ministry. Now man supposes that, unless a plan or system of worship is devised and adhered to, the result will be confusion, On the contrary confusion has a human origin (1 Cor. 14:33) and springs from a want of faith in the Spirit of God to conduct the exercises of the saints in prayer and praise and in dispensing the word of life for the nourishment of His people. Everything, in fact, apart from the divine order is confusion; and examples of this are not far to seek. In place of the unhindered movements of the Spirit of God in supplication or thanksgiving, a petrified liturgy may be seen, as unmerciful to the desires of the people as ever was Procrustes to his victims. And instead of allowing the Spirit to energize the various gifts in the assembly, “dividing to every man severally as He will,” the saints themselves in other cases undertake the management of their “minister,” prescribing his collegiate course, his special qualifications and his mode of ministry to their own satisfaction, expecting the poor man to be pastor, teacher, evangelist and what-not with equal facility and success. These and all other set ecclesiastical arrangements of a similar nature can only be but bad imitations of the real thing, differing one from another, and all from the truth, and therefore (despite outward appearances) a source of permanent weakness to the saints of God.
In the third place, the power of God is made manifest in the proclamation of the gospel; for it has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Cor. 1:21). Naturally the Acts, which narrates the founding of the church is very full of this subject. From the sermon of Peter at Pentecost to the preaching of Paul the prisoner at Rome, we have a practical exposition of the words, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Rom. 1:16). Far and near the gospel went forth, “not in word only but in power” (Acts 4:33; 1 Thess. 1:5). Unlike the lifeless philosophy of the day, it laid hold of men of all ranks and classes, and won them to its embrace. For though philosophy had refined eloquence, a certain knowledge of the human mind and character, a personal devotion to principle and a code of morality beyond its times, it possessed not the power of God like the gospel. And since that power has not yet departed, it is obviously of the very highest importance that it should be allowed to operate in the preaching of Christ's cross.
And like all God's gifts this power seems to be readily accessible. It would appear from the Acts that it is to be had for the asking, always remembering that prayer in scripture implies a thorough sense of inability to act without God. When the apostles had prayed, we are told, “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.... And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:31, 33). And we know what mighty results followed.
When the power of the apostles to cast out demons was sought to be imitated by the sons of Sceva, they signally failed. Though there were seven of them altogether, and though they used the name of Jesus as the apostle had done, the demons exposed their deceit, and they had to flee in confusion (Acts 19:13-16). Is it not possible for preachers to-day to fall into the error of these “vagabond Jews” and think that a mere recital, rhetorical or otherwise, of the facts of the gospel are sufficient to save the soul? The failure of such will be a striking parallel to that of the exorcists.
And none will deny how easy it is to allow care for external appearance to minimize, if not obliterate, the conscious need for internal power, or even to suppose, like Jacob who planned first and prayed next, that the perfection of human arrangements is after all the best recommendation for divine aid. It may be well therefore to remind one another that the divine power does not reside either in logical analysis or vivid imagination, in the apt illustration or the striking simile, in the appropriate gesture or the rotund voice, in the novel subject or the odd treatment, in humorous remarks or in graveyard solemnity. For that which commands human attention cannot be said of necessity to command the blessing of heaven. And if God deign to use one or the other of the more worthy characteristics just named in an honored servant of His, it is not that the rest should imitate him in this particular and thereby pretend to that which they do not possess. But as the secret of success lies in the co-operation of divine power, let that be earnestly sought above all things. Let the closet be occupied more than the study. Let the prayer-meeting be looked to as the source of blessing. For it is useless to have everything else if there is no power; it becomes in such a case no more than the affectation of a grand display.
The difference between real power and outward pretense was seen on Mount Carmel ages ago (1 Kings 18). There at the outset the cause of Baal appeared to the best advantage. He had his choice of the sacrifice, the sympathy of the court, and numerous priesthood, zealous for his (i.e. their own) interests. Throughout the day they rent their throats, if not the heavens, with their cries, “O Baal, hear us.” They madly gesticulated, leaping frantically upon the altar, and cutting themselves with knives till the blood gushed out upon them. But the very exuberance of their efforts showed how ineffectual were their endeavors. There was no reply. The mountain of zeal brought forth not even a mouse-like result. But it was not so with Elijah. He, though alone, was supremely confident in Jehovah. He even took elaborate precautions to exclude every suspicion of human collaboration. The altar and sacrifice were repeatedly drenched with volumes of water. Then, in answer to his prayer, the sacred fire fell from the cloudless sky and consumed everything. God acted humanly speaking, under, the most unfavorable conditions for the glory of His name.
This great lesson of God's sovereignty is repeated in the Epistles to the Corinthians. Paul speaks of his being with them “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling:” yet, as they well knew, his preaching was “with power")1 Cor. 2:3,4). That weakness and power should thus coalesce seems most paradoxical to man but was a most blessed fact to the servant of God. For he could and did rejoice when the excellency of the power was thus seen to be of God and not of man.
However, leaving this subject to be pursued farther to greater advantage, the following points in connection therewith seem of sufficient importance to be briefly summarized:
(1) That since the power of God is the only efficient power in the proclamation of the gospel, this fact deserves most serious consideration; (2) That the glory of God as our object and the sense of humble dependence in the souls of His servants seem connected with the exercise of this power; (3) That a formal routine of gospel work denies the power of God as much as a system of worship; (4) That the imitation of a successful evangelist ascribes the power to him and not to God; (5) That weakness in point of numbers or the like is no bar to the working of this power, provided there is real faith and earnestness. W.J.H.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:10-14

Chapter 2:10-14
Next, we have the position of paradise set out with sufficient definiteness to mark the locality in a general way. Eden was the country; “the garden” was that choice portion not in the west or center, but “eastward” which Jehovah Elohim planted for Adam, to which scripture alludes subsequently, not only in this book (3,4,13:10), but in the prophets repeatedly (Isa. 51:3, Joel 2:9), and most at length in Ezekiel (28:13, 31: 9-19, 36:39). It is quite distinct from another Eden, spelled in Hebrew somewhat differently, in Babylonia seemingly, referred to in 2 Kings 19:12, Isaiah 37:12, and Ezek. 37:23).
“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and became four heads. The name of the one (first) [is] Pison, that which compasseth all the land of Havilah, where the gold [is], and the gold of that land is good; there [is] the bdellium (B'dolach) and the onyx stone (Shoham). And the name of the second river [is] Gihon, that which encompasseth all the land of Cush. And the name of the third [is] Hiddekel, that which goeth forth before (or eastward to) Assyria. And the fourth river [is] Euphrates” (vers. 10-14).
That the district indicated is the plateau of Ararat ought not to be doubted, though it may be beyond the means of man to determine the great center of interest with precision. What is given clearly it was of interest to know: such particulars are withheld as might only gratify man's curiosity, or perhaps expose to dangerous superstition. The burial place of Moses is not the only spot which divine wisdom has veiled from human ken. And the site of the lost paradise might have been perverted to a still wider, yea universal, pilgrimage of folly and evil. The sad truth is that sin led to man's expulsion. He is an outcast. The natural tree of life was thenceforth barred with unmistakable power and rigor. But a better hope was set before the guilty, if we may anticipate a little, in the to be bruised Bruiser of the old Serpent, the Devil and Satan, who too easily overcame the first man. That God should have sooner or later effaced the Adamic paradise (for it was an extensive park, rather than what a garden ordinarily means) is as intelligible morally, as it accords with the fact that no such scene has greeted the eyes of man in the quarter where it must have been when our first parents were introduced there.
This is confirmed by the notable fact that the river which watered paradise is without a name; silence the more striking, because the four rivers, into which, after its allotted service, it was parted, are carefully named. One can readily understand that fact, if it were caused to disappear as well as paradise. It is implied in the description that it flowed through Eden before it watered the garden, and only after that was severed into four chief streams, two of which are the well-known rivers, Hiddekel or Tigris, and P'hrath or Euphrates. The last was notorious enough to need no description, its companion calling for the very few words, “that which floweth toward,” or in front of, “Assyria.” The first and second are described more fully, as being comparatively unknown to Israel, and in fact nowhere else mentioned in the scriptures. But the account has the difficulties arising from countries obscure to later generations at least, both in their own names and in those of their products. Havilah and Cush have been debated nearly as much as Pison and Gihon; and not less the exact force of B'dolach and Shoham.
Josephus, in the first book of his Antiquities, led the way in strange departure by interpreting Pison as the Ganges! and Gihon as the Nile! Him not only many Rabbis follow (some reversing the case) but the best known of the Christian Fathers, as Eusebius, Epiphanius, Augustine and Jerome, &c., without speaking of allegorists like Origen and Ambrose, who adopted the idea of heaven, as others did the misty ideas of Philo Judæus. They accounted for those distant rivers by the supposition of their immense disappearance in the earth and rising again in the east and the south.
The great Reformed commentator, J. Calvin, was too sober to allow such reveries; but he adopted, or rather invented, the notion that by the four heads were meant, both the beginnings from which the rivers are produced, and the mouths by which they discharge themselves into the sea. Thus he argues that the Euphrates was formerly so joined by confluence with the Tigris that we might justly say one river was divided into four heads. But he misunderstood Strabo (Geog. lib. xi.) who nowhere says that at Babylon these two rivers unite, only that at Babylonia they approximate. The junction (save by artificial canals) is really far below at Kurnah (? Digba), whence their united streams form what is now called the Shatt-el-'Arab, discharging its waters into the Persian Gulf by the town of Bassorah.
Clearly therefore the scheme of Calvin, modified by Huet, Vitringa, and Wells, cannot stand, though the facts were not fully or accurately known before the publication of Colossians Chesney's Expedition of the Survey of the rivers Euphrates and Tigris (London, 2 vols. 4to, 1850). There is not the semblance of reason in making out two new rivers from the confluence of the old ones; nor did they diverge again, as he imagined and displays in his map. Dr. Hales in the second edition of his New Analysis acknowledges the error of this hypothesis (entertained in the first), and owns it to be untenable in every point. Calvin confounded the Eden which had paradise in it with that of a distinct spelling in Babylonia; whereas on the face of Gen. 2 it lay not far from where the Euphrates and the Tigris rose, their beginnings, not the end of their divided course. Nor can language be more perverse, than to count their separate streams after that union, had they really existed, the Pison and the Gihon, still less the mere canals higher up. And it is no improvement of the scheme, to make out that these rivers are the waters which wash Khusistan on the east and Arabia on the west of the Gulf. Another manifest confusion is the Havilah of our chapter with that of Gen. 14:7, Num. 13:29, and 1 Sam. 15:7.
But it is needless to point out the incongruities which will occur to intelligent readers. Reland has proved clearly in his Dissertationum Misc. pars. i. (Trajecti ad Rhenum, 1706) that the Gihon is the Araxes, or. Aras, and given strong reasons to conclude that the Pison is the Phasis, though Colossians Chesney pleads for the Halys. Indeed the great Orientalist contended that Colchis, through which the Phasis flows is no other than the Greek form of Havilah; and certainly the connection of gold and precious stones with that land is attested from ancient times more clearly than can be done for the land skirted by the Halys. That the Cossaei, or descendants of Cush, were compassed by the Gihon or Aras cannot be doubted. There was an Asiatic Cush no less than an African, and widely dispersed too. It is the certainty of this fact which explains “The rivers of Cush” in Isa. 18:1. The nation predicted to intervene for Israel is to be “beyond” those rivers (the Nile and the Euphrates) with which they ordinarily had to do.
On the whole then it is plain that the most celebrated men of research (and but a selection of their less strange speculations is here presented) have failed where they trusted either tradition or personal requirements, one swamp of uncertainty only succeeding another. If Dr. Adrian Reland first stood out speaking with more authority than his predecessors, it was because he adhered with commendable tenacity to the word of God. Not that his vast learning failed him here, for he wielded it with a simple mastery found in no other essayist; and this because he put it in its only just place of subservience to the words written with divine authority, while honestly owning difficulties not yet solved. Those who in our day boast of man are no less uncertain according to their unbelief of God's word.
But it may be noticed that in these verses we first hear of a “river.” Of course, to say nothing of previous conditions, there were such in the Adamic earth since the third day. But it was fitting that mention of a river, should be reserved till the Holy Spirit gave it first in connection with paradise. What the river was which went forth from Eden to water the garden seems intentionally withheld: if it vanished when the garden was no longer seen, it is not hard to see the wisdom of the scripture's silence. But it is certain that those who contend like our Milton, that it was the Tigris, which watered paradise, or, as others, the united streams of Euphrates and Tigris, do violence to the inspired text; and “scripture cannot be broken,” says our Lord. An unnamed river, having its rise in the territory of Eden, flows by the garden which it refreshed, and from thence (how far off is not said) it parts and becomes four heads, or chief streams, two of which (P'hrath and Hiddekel) are beyond doubt, Gihon only not certainly the Aras and Pison, probably the Rioni, if not the Kizil-Irmak (or Halys). For the river, after watering the garden in the east, may have run so as to cover the beginnings of these four in the west of that region.
As the chief modern explorer shows, even the Tigris has in Central Armenia two principal sources, both of which spring from the southern slope of the Anti-Taurus, near those of the Araxes and Euphrates, and not very distant from that of the Halys (Chesney's Exped. 1. 13). The Kizil-Irmak, he had already said, has its sources at two places, both of which are much farther to the eastward than they are generally represented on the maps. The sources of the Aras and those of the north branch of the Euphrates are about ten miles from one another (J. of the Royal Geogr. Soc. 6. part 2, p. 200). It is a curious statement, cited by 1. 274, from Michael Chamish in his history of Armenia, himself an Armenian, that Araxmais built a city in the plain of Aragaz, near the left bank of the Gihon, the name of which was then changed to Arast or Araxes after his son. Also, Benjamin of Tudela, the Hebrew traveler who visited the east in the twelfth century, calls the whole tract, east of the sources of the Aras, Cush or Ethiopia, and speaks of the river as the Gihon (Chesney 1. 282).
The text then is conclusive for the Armenian table-land as the true locality, and disproves every modification of the scheme that conceives the garden and the described rivers as in Babylonia or even farther south along Khusistan and E. Arabia. Nor does it compel one to explain away the meaning of a “river” or to give to “heads” any meaning which is not the natural and correct one. As to the moral lesson, it was but creature trial, and no permanence in either river or paradise. How different the paradise of God on high, or even that river the streams whereof make glad the city of God on earth! God is in the midst of her: this accounts for all in His grace. But the manifestation of divine grace and fidelity for both awaits the coming of the Lord. Here was but the responsible man in the midst of the garden; and we see how quickly he fell and dragged down all in his own ruin. Christ alone overcomes, and through Him God gives us the victory.

Jonathan

(1 Samuel.)
We enter now upon a history which, though brief, is rich in spiritual instruction. Presented to us in the clear light of inspiration, without any of the false coloring of human imagination, it is intended to warn as well as to interest us. As a narrative, it certainly is “one of the most pleasing incidents in the Jewish annals;” but if read aright, it will search the heart of every sincere Christian even more than delight his mind.
The most memorable event in Jonathan's life, as it is also one of the first recorded, marks him as a man of faith. When Saul's carnal arrangements for carrying on the work of the Lord in Israel failed, his standing army (his first care) reduced to about six hundred men, deprived of their arms and practically shut up in the. fortress of Gibeah by the Philistines, Jonathan, in fellowship with one of like spirit and by faith in the Lord alone, met and broke the whole power of the enemy (1 Sam. 14). Both father and son were workers in the Lord's inheritance. The father, with every external advantage, had given up the word of the Lord; the son, with none, relied upon it and refused the resources of the flesh.
The conviction that, if he wrought with God, it must be in separation from Saul must have deeply exercised the affectionate heart of his son; but it was the secret of his power, as subsequent events clearly proved. Is it possible then that he who thus by faith “waxed valiant in fight and turned to flight the armies of the aliens,” could ever forget this first, this all-important, lesson? Could he ever enter into an alliance with carnal authority and power, and make flesh his arm? The end of his career, alas! was not at all in keeping with the beginning. He gave up the holy vantage ground which he occupied at Michmash, and, in company with Saul and his army at the terrible battle of Gilboa, was defeated and slain. We have both scenes vividly depicted by the Spirit, and how great the contrast (14. 31.)! The final one is briefly told, but with simple and touching pathos. Saul, forsaken of God, his army overpowered, he himself wounded and paralyzed with fear and despair, having in vain sought death from the sword of his armor-bearer, fell upon his own. “So he died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men that same day together.” His body was found soon after by the Philistines among the slain and treated with every indignity. Jonathan's also was not spared. They were then fastened together on the wall of Bethshan until rescued by the gratitude and courage of the men of Jabesh-Gilead.
Thus the overcomer at Michmash was overcome at Gilboa, and he who wrought with God at the beginning of his course fell with Saul at the close of it. Why was this?
We are apt to forget that, while every true believer from Abel is, through. Christ, a child of resurrection, a vessel prepared for glory, yet is he subject to the government of God on earth Who, in the firmness of His love has chastened His people by the infliction of even death itself. The case of the prophet in 1 Kings 13 is in point. The lion met him by the way and slew him for his disobedience; yet he was a “man of God,” and this Is insisted on even when the sentence of death was pronounced. His eternal salvation therefore is not by this extreme discipline put in question. It would be to question the faithfulness and the love of God. So Jonathan was a man of faith, though he fell with Saul at Gilboa. This, then, will simplify our inquiry.
The trials of Jonathan and the difficulties that surrounded him were of no ordinary kind. On the one hand, there was what was righteously due from him to Saul. As the anointed of the Lord and in possession of the throne, all the sacredness of office and external claims to authority still attached to him, and moreover he was his father. On the other hand, in Jonathan there was spiritual life which gave to God His supreme place and delighted in His will and in the unfoldings of the purposes of His grace. There was not a trace of this to be seen in Saul. Under every test he manifested only the characteristics of an unregenerate, though religious man. He was not without some noble qualities and generous impulses, but, as we have seen, they were powerless to subdue his personal will or to extinguish his causeless hatred of David. It is, alas! the history of man epitomized, and of Israel in particular; the will refuses the restraint of the law and the heart the attractions of Christ. Jonathan by pace was in both respects unlike his father. He truly acknowledged the Lord, and David he greatly loved. We have seen the results of the first at Michmash; we have only to trace the course of the second, and must begin at chap. 17. “When David returned from the slaughter of the Philistines, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hands.”
We might naturally suppose that David, thus presented before Saul and his court, would at once draw the hearts of all to him in admiration and gratitude; but Jonathan again stood alone. “When David had made an end of speaking with Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul... And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.” It is clearly one thing to be saved, and another to give up all of self to exalt and magnify the savior. How many profited by the marvelous work accomplished, yet Jonathan alone thus openly confessed his love for him who accomplished it. Later on indeed the women sang their songs in his praise, but we know how easy it is to do this, even in the case of Him Who is infinitely more worthy of gratitude and love than David. It involved no sacrifice and resulted in no separation. Yet love delights in a sacrifice, both in making it, and accepting it. David greatly valued this open confession of the love of Jonathan and sought to assure him of it again and again by entering into solemn covenant with him. The most touching part of his elegy is that which refers to him.
“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me:
Thy love to me was wonderful,
Passing the love of women.”
Yet he could but allude, though in the most delicate manner, to the fact that he never gave up his position with his father for his sake, never, like Samuel and others, followed him in exile.
“Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided."
The test for Jonathan was this. Faithfulness in service he had displayed in a remarkable manner, and his love for David was very real and at times self-sacrificing. He could speak for him, and speak nobly and well; but he could not, or rather, did not follow him. He was taught of God to love, but failed in the lesson “love not.” He overcame the enemy, but not the world (1 John 2:14-17). He brake through the host of the Philistines; but this was to deliver the people, not (as some) to bring the water of Bethlehem to refresh the soul of God's elect (2 Sam. 23:15-17). He kissed and wept, but suffered him he embraced to go his solitary way, a banished one, while he returned to the city (ch. 20:41, 42). So, alas! is it with Christ. He is wounded still in the house of His friends, who, like Jonathan, talk of the future, of the day of His glory, and even of being next to Him then—Thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee (23:17)—but in the day of His rejection are more often found with His enemies than with Him.
Yet Jonathan was not idle in the cause of David, though misdirected in his efforts. He labored to induce Saul and his followers to receive him again, and for a moment appeared to succeed so that “he was in his presence as in times past.” But his father's heart was unchanged, and David once more had to flee for his life. It is the story of Christendom, briefly rehearsed: amiable efforts on the part of true Christians to reconcile worldlings to an acknowledgment of Christ, while their hearts are far from Him.
Jonathan himself did not escape the effects of his father's wrath. He was cruelly and grossly wronged before all the court. To his praise, however, it is recorded, that he made no complaint of the injury done to himself, but “was grieved for David because his father had done him shame.” This is a family feature. The most worldly child of God at the bottom of his heart loves Christ better than himself; and, let it come to persecution, Satan will find that out.
Still Jonathan was a great loser by the course he took. He relinquished much communion with David and many opportunities of effective service. He was not even consistent with his expressed hope, for, if the kingdom was sure to David it must depart from Saul. He was thus in constant peril of falling in its overthrow. Gilboa only made manifest what was true before; that is, that judgment was on the whole system. How needed then the blow that fell there!—needed for the truth of God—needed for David's
glory—painfully needed for poor Jonathan himself; and surely needed for our profit, if we will but profit by it. Identification with Christ in His rejection must be trying to the flesh. What ties must be broken! what friendships forfeited what hostility provoked! what scorn excited! Yet is not the call of the Holy Spirit becoming daily more and more earnest, to “go forth unto Jesus without the camp, bearing His reproach?” The heroes of Israel were found in the caves with David, and not enjoying the fields and vineyards and dignities bestowed by Saul (2 Sam. 23:1 Sam. 22:7).

Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 6

In Solomon's prayer there seemed to be two different grounds on which he stands to prefer his requests. The first he takes is the promise conditionally given to his father. David. In the second, it is the mercy of God that can forgive after sin is committed. For sin having appeared whether in any man, or in the nation at large even though Solomon himself personally be not guilty, the whole kingdom would be lost unless God in His mercy went beyond the terms of His covenant with David. Hence in the case of transgression there can be no cry but for forgiveness.
These essentially different standpoints appear, the first from vv. 14 to 20, and the second in ver. 21, and following. In the latter Solomon is no longer on covenant ground. Forgiveness would not be needed if he and the people had righteously fulfilled the conditions laid on them, for God's promise was made contingent upon their obedience. In the former part there appears no doubt or fear of his own, or the people's, taking heed to the law; and in this his request is “let thy word be verified.” It is calling on God not to forgive, but to fulfill His promise. There seems this confidence in himself, for though he speaks of any man sinning, or even of all the people, he never says, If we sin. The Lord does not fail to remind him that he was as liable to sin as any man (see 7:17), and that it is upon his failure, dragging all the people with him, the solemn judgment of God is pronounced.
He recognizes the infinite majesty of God. “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have built.” The thought of the infinite greatness of God subdues him, and henceforth his prayer becomes more supplicatory in character. “Have respect therefore to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplication; O Lord my God to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which Thy servant prayeth before thee that Thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof Thou hast said that Thou wouldest put Thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which Thy servant prayeth toward this place. Hearken therefore unto the supplications of Thy servants and of thy people Israel which they shall make toward. this place; hear Thou from Thy dwelling-place, even from heaven, and when Thou hearest, forgive.”
Forgiveness is linked with God in His dwelling-place, the heaven of heavens, and not with the house. For grace is sovereign and has its source in God dwelling in the heavens. The temple and its magnificence were well suited for the law and the covenant, but forgiveness is with God in. His dwelling-place. Thither Solomon looks. Nothing could be hidden from the all-searching eye of God and as if the thought expressed in ver. 36— “there is no man which sinneth not” —were pressing upon his heart, he prays for forgiveness. For if God judged on the principle of law, and righteousness apart from grace, He would, yea must, forsake His house and leave Israel under the awful judgment of a broken covenant. Often does he say “hear and forgive.” And God did repeatedly hear and forgive (governmentally) till He was compelled to judge, and say “why should ye be stricken any more?” Solomon's prayer to this point is general; but he knows there is no man that sinneth not, and he is in presence of the holiness and righteousness of God, Who can only meet man on the ground of infinite mercy and sovereign grace. He did not know, as we, how that mercy is secured, yea, abounds, through the cross of Christ.
“If any man sin against his neighbor.” Such a thing might happen as an exception to the general obedience of the people. Had the people never become idolators and externally at least maintained the righteousness of the law, there was still the possibility of an individual sinning against his neighbor. And Solomon's prayer in such a case is not, Hear and forgive, but “Hear thou from heaven [where he knew that forgiveness could only be found] and do, and judge Thy servants by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head, and by justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.” This is law. If the sinner had been immediately requited in judgment, neither land nor people would have been polluted. But when the whole nation are sinners, when those whose office it was to vindicate the law were equally guilty, who then could righteously take vengeance for a broken law? Such the whole had become in the time of the prophets, and for this reason the prophets were sent, and dark pictures are given of the chosen people's sin and guilt. It was even worse when the Lord was here; for in His presence they dared. to appear as vindicators of the law when their own conscience could and did bear witness against them. Their incompetency to act was made manifest (see John 8). Only the mercy that endureth forever could act for such a people. And he who at the first said “Verify Thy word” can only now say “Hear and forgive.”
What a mingling of law and grace is here, if the way of the wicked is recompensed upon his own head? where is forgiveness? The law never brought out the depths of sin in man. Nor, while the law obtained as a rule of life, could forgiveness be known as the gospel proclaims it. While the saint of old as under law knew that if the Lord marked iniquity none could stand, and has not the knowledge, nor could have of a perfect redemption—can only say, “But there is forgiveness with Thee that Thou mayest be feared” (Psa. 130), he had not the knowledge of God's perfect love which casteth out all fear. By the unspeakable grace of God this knowledge is ours. The experience of these saints never rose to Christian experience. Looking to law as a rule of life, along with grace for forgiveness, was a condition that did not meet the mind and love of God (see Heb. 8:8). Now the believer in Christ has died to law, is separated from the whole order of things, which was suited for God's earthly people, and quite right then, but wrong now.
The believer now has a heavenly calling, being in a sphere which is beyond the reach of the law which pressed upon the saints of old so that they were in bondage all their life. Is then the believer lawless? Nay, but as risen with Christ, he is to live to God, and Christ is his law in the new resurrection sphere. The grace that came by Christ teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age; the law said, Thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, &c. But the grace goes farther, giving the impelling power to fulfill the righteousness of the law (which the law itself never could, and was never intended to do). The grace adds, to look for the appearing of the glory, and this is a chief part of Christianity, and is always accompanied (where it is not mere sentiment but a divine reality) with power so to live as the grace given teaches. Shall a forgiven man go to the law for the measure of his holiness and obedience? That same law which when in force by the authority of God could only stir up the flesh and excite its opposition?
There was a time when obedience to the law, or disobedience, was the dividing line between the saints of God, and all others. But it did not separate saints from the world. For there was then no cross. Now saints, believers, are crucified to the world, and the world to them. This is a complete and absolute severance not merely from its sins and condemnation, but from it as a system which may have good things (good naturally) as well as bad. We as believers in Christ belong to an entirely different sphere, as separate from the old system in which Solomon lived, as the Lord Jesus risen.
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17).
The requests of Solomon go not beyond temporal evils and temporal judgments. For Israel is God's earthly people; but they are Jehovah's people and Solomon constantly says Thy people. And though the wickedness of the people seems to spread out before his eye, so does also the goodness of God, and for the worst sins he can beseech forgiveness. He had before said, “If any man sin,” as if such a thing would be an exception in Israel; but now in ver. 29, the exception to the general prevalence of iniquity would be if any man prayed or confessed his sin.
Still in this desperate condition of the people, he says, “and render unto every man according unto all his ways” (ver. 30). But forgiveness is blended with the law, which had no place in the law as given by Moses, though the forgiving character of God was revealed to him in the mount (Ex. 34:6, 7). It is now brought prominently out, and God's perfect absolute knowledge of the heart is, as it were, pleaded as a reason for forgiveness. Under the gospel it is not law alone, nor law and grace mixed, as under the intercession of Moses, but grace reigning through righteousness by Christ our Lord.
The stranger is prayed for, and comes in to share in Israel's blessings and privileges, even to pray in this house. The Lord said it was written “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17). The comparatively few strangers that worshipped in that temple cannot be the full answer to Solomon's request, He was led by the prophetic Spirit of God beyond the time then present to the time when all Israel shall know the Lord; and he goes on to say “that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name as doth Thy people Israel.” In that day Israel will be the greatest nation and bear rule over the gentiles, but will also be a model of obedience and worship.
But before the brightness of that millennial day bursts on the world, a greater sin and a heavier judgment than all before it shall be found with that people. Their sins and their judgments had been in the land; the outpouring of the wrath of Jehovah drove them out of their own land into one afar off. Captivity to the Gentiles was to succeed pestilence and famine and war. These which they suffered in the land were sufficient to teach them to be obedient to the law of God if they had had ears to hear and hearts to understand. But they were heedless to every call, their hearts were impervious to God's patient dealing, restoration after chastisement only gave them further opportunity for sin until the cup ran over. And God said, Why should ye be stricken (chastised) any more? and gave them up to the Gentile. Even the sorrows of the Babylonish captivity so deeply felt by Jeremiah were comparatively light before those under the power of the Romans, and the two tribes that represent Israel feel Gentile oppression much more now than when carried to Babylon. And greater woe awaits them before that day comes. But the prophetic prayer of Solomon comprehends a return and a gathering of all back again to their land. He reaches forward to the millennial day. “Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into Thy resting-place. Thou, and the ark of Thy strength; let Thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice in goodness” (41). It is in the form of a prayer, but it is not the less a prophetic description of their millennial gladness. And as it were recognizing that all this blessing is not because of Israel's repentance, but for His sake Who is appointed to reign over them, Solomon closes with the feeling that all rests with Him. “O Lord God, turn not away the face of thine Anointed; remember the mercies of David Thy servant.”
Sin and its judgment, a possible repentance, and forgiveness from God, occupy his mind and are the subject of his prayer. But the mercy of God is as prominent in Solomon's prayer, as was the inflexible righteousness of God in the law given by Moses; and it was on this mingled system of grace and righteousness that God dealt with Israel until, the Lord came, the fruit of mediatorial intercession really. God (to speak after the manner of men) accepts Solomon's modification of the old covenant. “And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer” (7:12), and takes up special cases of judgment; if the people repent, He will hear and forgive. But He did more; He did not wait for their repentance, but sent prophets to rebuke, warn, of the inevitable judgment that must follow sin; to invite, yea plead with, them to repent, and if they did repent, to say what grace would do for them.
God's gracious words to Solomon form a fresh starting point with Israel, and the message of the prophets is founded on it. Isaiah says, “Repent, and God will abundantly pardon.” The law visited the sins of the fathers upon the children. Ezekiel says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,” nor his own, if he turn from his unrighteousness. And in view of this grace rising above law, both the people and their kings sank deeper in iniquity until God says, as if giving a reason for His judgment, “What could I have done more for my vineyard that I have not done?” The first words of Isaiah are that God had brought and nourished children that became rebellious, and that the ox and the ass were more faithful to their owners than Israel to God.
Nevertheless Solomon is reminded of his own responsibility. The continuation of the kingdom, as it was given to him, hung upon his own faithfulness. God says, “If thou,” &c., and adds, “if ye turn away,” for the people would assuredly follow their king. And the consequent judgment would (and did) fall upon all Israel. “I will root up them “: even the house called by His own name should become a reproach. But the nations, the Gentiles, would know why God so dealt with them.
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The Psalms Book 2: 55-58

These psalms continue in various forms the feelings produced by Christ's spirit in circumstances which look on to the last crisis when the godly Jews suffer from Antichrist and his partisans, especially in Jerusalem and the land. David had these trials in the case of Absalom, and Ahithophel; our Lord far more deeply through the treachery of Judas. But the Spirit of prophecy links all that is past with the coming hour, when the outward oppression and inward apostasy bring the sense of evil at its worst on the true-hearted Jews; and God is more and more looked to as the result, not man or circumstances, not only to sustain the sufferers in patience, but to bring in deliverance and blessing in power.
Psalm 55
“To the chief musician, on Neginoth (stringed instruments): an instruction of David. Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not thyself from my supplications. Attend unto me and answer me. I am restless in my plaint and moan, because of the noise of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked; for they cast iniquity upon me, and in anger they persecute me. My heart is pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. And I said, Who will give me a wing as the dove? I would fly away and be at rest. Behold, I would flee far off, I would lodge in the wilderness. Selah. I would hasten my escape from stormy wind, from tempest. Swallow up, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they surround it upon its walls; and iniquity and mischief are in its midst. Mischiefs [are] in its midst; and so oppression and deceit depart not from its streets. For [it was] not an enemy reproached me: then I had borne [it]; neither did he that hateth me magnify [himself] against me: then hidden myself from him; but thou, a man mine equal, mine intimate, my familiar! we who together sweetened counsel, in the house of God we walked in the throng. Let death seize on them, let them go down alive [to] Sheol. For evils [are] in their dwelling, in their midst. As for me, unto God will I call; and Jehovah will save me. Evening and morning and noon I will complain and moan; and he will hear my voice. He redeemed my soul in peace from the war against me, for many were [contending] with me. God will hear and answer [afflict] them—he that is seated of old, Selah—who have no changes and feat not God. He put forth his hands against those at peace with him; he profaned his covenant. Smooth was the butter [words] of his mouth, and war his heart; his words were softer than oil, and they [were] drawn swords. Cast upon Jehovah thy burden (what he giveth thee), and he will sustain thee; he will not suffer the righteous one to be moved. And thou, O God, wilt bring them down to the pit of corruption: men of blood and deceit shall not live out half their days. But for me, I will trust in thee” (ver. 1-24).
It was an awful time for a godly Jew to feel and to say that the wilderness was better than the city; but so it is here. The worst was within, in the nearest circle. How Christ was moved at this, John 13 testifies. But it looks onward to a day of more literal and wider accomplishment. In all their affliction He was afflicted. Divine judgment alone will solve and fulfill all.
Psalm 56
“To the chief musician, as the silent dove of the distant, Michtam; when the Philistines took him in Gath. Be gracious unto me, O God; for man would swallow me. up; all the day fighting he oppresseth me. They that lie in wait for me would swallow [me] up all the day, for many fight proudly against me. The day I am afraid I will trust in thee. In God will I praise his word. In God have I trusted, I will not fear: what can flesh do unto me? All the day they wrest my words; all their devices [are] against me for evil. They gather themselves together, they mark my steps while they wait for my soul. Shall they escape iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God. Thou, countest my wanderings: put my tears in thy bottle; [are] they not in thy book? Then shall mine enemies turn back in the day I shall call: this I know, for God [is] for me. In God will I praise [the] word; in Jehovah will I praise [the] word. In God have I trusted, I will not fear: what shall man do unto me? Upon me, O God, [are] thy vows: I will render thank-offerings unto thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death: [wilt thou] not [deliver] my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living” (ver. 1-14).
This is a distinct advance on the overwhelming anguish of the preceding psalm, where the cry to God comes late, and confidence is attained only at the close. Here the soul begins with an appeal to His mercy; and enemies are in view, without the aggravated bitterness of traitors in those who were once near friends. The haughty fighting of foes threw him in the day of his fear on God, and, what is more, on His word as especial ground of praise. All this our Lord knew more calmly and profoundly; and this is our portion, the, clearer to us as impressed with His name, as the Spirit is given us to make it good. But the godly Jews will also know what God's word is in their day of supreme trial when imposture and blasphemy succeed existing incredulity and superstition.
Psalm 57
“To the chief musician; Al-tascheth (destroy not), of David, Michtam, on his fleeing from Saul in the cave. Be gracious unto me, O God, be gracious unto me; for my soul [is] trusting in thee; and in the shadow of thy wings will I trust until mischiefs (or calamities) shall pass. I will call unto God most High, unto God that perfecteth for me. He will send from the heavens rand save me (he that would swallow up reviled! Selah). God will send His mercy and His truth. My soul [is] in the midst of lions; I will lie down with those on fire, the sons of men, their teeth spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted above the heavens, O God, above all the earth thy glory! A net they prepared for my steps; my soul was bowed down; they digged a pit before me they fell into the midst of it. Selah. Fixed [is] my heart, O God, fixed my heart: I will sing, yea I will sing psalms (play). Awake, my glory! awake, lute and harp! I will wake the dawn (or with it). O Lord, among the peoples, I will give thee thanks. For thy mercy [is] great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be exalted above the heavens, O God, thy glory above all the earth!” (ver. 1-12).
In this psalm, the evidently close companion of Psa. 56, the progress of soul in confidence is more complete. It is no longer the plea, “for man would swallow me up,” but the quiet assurance, “for my soul is trusting in thee.” And God's word was not praised in vain. Intervention from heaven is counted on, God's loving-kindness too and truth, with the grand result of His exaltation above the heavens, and His glory above all the earth. All things work together for good to those that love Him, as the godly remnant will; and as we do now by grace.
Psalm 58
“To the chief musician, Al-tascheth, of David, Michtam. Silence indeed! do ye speak righteousness? Do ye judge equitably, sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work iniquities; in the earth ye weigh the violence of your hands. The wicked are estranged from the womb; they err from the birth (belly), speaking lies. They have poison after the likeness of the poison of a serpent, as the deaf adder which stoppeth its ears, which will not hearken to the voice of enchanters, of one charming charms most wise. O God, destroy their teeth in their mouth; shatter the great teeth of the young lions, O Jehovah. Let them melt away as waters, let them go away. He will send his arrows as at those cut off. As a snail melteth, let them pass; as abortion of a woman, let them not see the sun. Before your pots feel a thorn, whether green or burning, he will whirl them away. The righteous one shall rejoice, for he hath seen vengeance; his steps he shall wash in the blood of the wicked one; and a man shall say, Surely the righteous one has fruit; surely there is a God judging in the earth” (ver. 1-12).
Here we have the solemn warning of the righteous, and the call of God to execute that judgment on the living wicked which will deliver the godly Jew of the future and clear the earth for the reign of Him Who is alike Son of David and Son of man, and with divine complacency as He is Son of God, yea the true God and Eternal Life. It is inconceivable that any unprejudiced mind could fail to see that the psalm, the due sequel of those before it, expresses not in the least the sentiments proper to those that now confess the Divine Savior and are therefore the sharers of His long-suffering grace toward the evil and injurious, but the desire for long-slumbering and righteous vengeance of God on the iniquity that will then rise to a prouder lawlessness than ever. The time for patience will then he past; and most holy will it be for those who then fear God and are in the secret of His ways to pray for His judgment on His and their enemies (they are in truth the same). And the time is at hand; and the Spirit gives them to anticipate it, whilst preserving them from carnal measures. Even a tear of the eye God puts into His bottle, as the figure is, and His vows are on them—they are consciously devoted to Him. They look for His exaltation above the heavens, for His glory above all the earth; but this, not as Christians do by being gathered together to Christ on high, but by His crushing destruction of the wicked here below, who would have swallowed them up. Lions they may be, and with the poison of serpents; yet they melt as snails when He appears in His glory, and the sword that proceeds from His mouth prepares the scene for the throne of His glory over the earth. Israel will be the vessel of God's earthly righteousness in that day; as we ought to express the grace and glory of Christ in heaven now. Hence the godly Jew rightly utters his satisfaction at the terrible things in righteousness with which the God of their salvation will answer their prayer.

Psalm 56

“To the chief musician, as the silent dove of the distant, Michtam; when the Philistines took him in Gath. Be gracious unto me, O God; for man would swallow me. up; all the day fighting he oppresseth me. They that lie in wait for me would swallow [me] up all the day, for many fight proudly against me. The day I am afraid I will trust in thee. In God will I praise his word. In God have I trusted, I will not fear: what can flesh do unto me? All the day they wrest my words; all their devices [are] against me for evil. They gather themselves together, they mark my steps while they wait for my soul. Shall they escape iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God. Thou, countest my wanderings: put my tears in thy bottle; [are] they not in thy book? Then shall mine enemies turn back in the day I shall call: this I know, for God [is] for me. In God will I praise [the] word; in Jehovah will I praise [the] word. In God have I trusted, I will not fear: what shall man do unto me? Upon me, O God, [are] thy vows: I will render thank-offerings unto thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death: [wilt thou] not [deliver] my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living” (ver. 1-14).
This is a distinct advance on the overwhelming anguish of the preceding psalm, where the cry to God comes late, and confidence is attained only at the close. Here the soul begins with an appeal to His mercy; and enemies are in view, without the aggravated bitterness of traitors in those who were once near friends. The haughty fighting of foes threw him in the day of his fear on God, and, what is more, on His word as especial ground of praise. All this our Lord knew more calmly and profoundly; and this is our portion, the, clearer to us as impressed with His name, as the Spirit is given us to make it good. But the godly Jews will also know what God's word is in their day of supreme trial when imposture and blasphemy succeed existing incredulity and superstition.

Psalm 57

“To the chief musician; Al-tascheth (destroy not), of David, Michtam,- on his fleeing from Saul in the cave. Be gracious unto me, O God, be gracious unto me; for my soul [is] trusting in thee; and in the shadow of thy wings will I trust until mischiefs (or calamities) shall pass. I will call unto God most High, unto God that perfecteth for me. He will send from the heavens rand save me (he that would swallow up reviled! Selah). God will send His mercy and His truth. My soul [is] in the midst of lions; I will lie down with those on fire, the sons of men, their teeth spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted above the heavens, O God, above all the earth thy glory! A net they prepared for my steps; my soul was bowed down; they digged a pit before me they fell into the midst of it. Selah. Fixed [is] my heart, O God, fixed my heart: I will sing, yea I will sing psalms (play). Awake, my glory! awake, lute and harp! I will wake the dawn (or with it). O Lord, among the peoples, I will give thee thanks. For thy mercy [is] great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be exalted above the heavens, O God, thy glory above all the earth! ' (ver. 1-12).
In this psalm, the evidently close companion of Psa. 56, the progress of soul in confidence is more complete. It is no longer the plea, “for man would swallow me up,” but the quiet assurance, “for my soul is trusting in thee.” And God's word was not praised in vain. Intervention from heaven is counted on, God's loving-kindness too and truth, with the grand result of His exaltation above the heavens, and His glory above all the earth. All things work together for good to those that love Him, as the godly remnant will; and as we do now by grace.

Psalm 58

“To the chief musician, Al-tascheth, of David, Michtam. Silence indeed! do ye speak righteousness? Do ye judge equitably, sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work iniquities; in the earth ye weigh the violence of your hands. The wicked are estranged from the womb; they err from the birth (belly), speaking lies. They have poison after the likeness of the poison of a serpent, as the deaf adder which stoppeth its ears, which will not hearken to the voice of enchanters, of one charming charms most wise. O God, destroy their teeth in their mouth; shatter the great teeth of the young lions, O Jehovah. Let them melt away as waters, let them go away. He will send his arrows as at those cut off. As a snail melteth, let them pass; as abortion of a woman, let them not see the sun. Before your pots feel a thorn, whether green or burning, he will whirl them away. The righteous one shall rejoice, for he hath seen vengeance; his steps he shall wash in the blood of the wicked one; and a man shall say, Surely the righteous one has fruit; surely there is a God judging in the earth” (ver. 1-12).
Here we have the solemn warning of the righteous, and the call of God to execute that judgment on the living wicked which will deliver the godly Jew of the future and clear the earth for the reign of Him Who is alike Son of David and Son of man, and with divine complacency as He is Son of God, yea the true God and Eternal Life. It is inconceivable that any unprejudiced mind could fail to see that the psalm, the due sequel of those before it, expresses not in the least the sentiments proper to those that now confess the Divine Savior and are therefore the sharers of His long-suffering grace toward the evil and injurious, but the desire for long-slumbering and righteous vengeance of God on the iniquity that will then rise to a prouder lawlessness than ever. The time for patience will then he past; and most holy will it be for those who then fear God and are in the secret of His ways to pray for His judgment on His and their enemies (they are in truth the same). And the time is at hand; and the Spirit gives them to anticipate it, whilst preserving them from carnal measures. Even a tear of the eye God puts into His bottle, as the figure is, and His vows are on them-they are consciously devoted to Him. They look for His exaltation above the heavens, for His glory above all the earth; but this, not as Christians do by being gathered together to Christ on high, but by His crushing destruction of the wicked here below, who would have swallowed them up. Lions they may be, and with the poison of serpents; yet they melt as snails when He appears in His glory, and the sword that proceeds from His mouth prepares the scene for the throne of His glory over the earth. Israel will be the vessel of God's earthly righteousness in that day; as we ought to express the grace and glory of Christ in heaven now. Hence the godly Jew rightly utters his satisfaction at the terrible things in righteousness with which the God of their salvation will answer their prayer.

Worship in Spirit and Truth

John 4:24
God never accepted in His worship the efforts of man or the imitations of self-will. But He gave a system of beautiful and instructive forms to Israel, who had His law till Christ came to Whom they all pointed, and Who superseded all by a fulfillment which more than accomplished all. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. The law, having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never, with the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, perfect those that approach. Else would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, having been once purged, have no longer conscience of sins?
Totally different is the standing of the Christian through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Who came to do perfectly the will of God. “He taketh away the first (i.e. Levitical offering) that. He may establish the second (i.e. God's will), by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9, 10.) Yea more; “for by one offering He hath perfected forever (uninterruptedly) them that are sanctified” or set apart to God (ver. 14).
Our Gospel here views Christian worship from another point of the highest importance, the need and blessing of eternal life in Christ and of the consequent gift of the Spirit that dwells henceforth in the believer. The Epistle views him as in himself at a distance from God, needing propitiation, and his conscience to be purified from dead works to serve religiously (or worship) the living God. Both blessings attach to faith. They are the portion of the believer only. For Christ is his life; and his sins are forgiven for His Name's sake; and the Holy Spirit seals him as having believed the glad tidings of his salvation.
Thus pardoned, furnished, and blessed by grace, the Christian draws nigh to God, instead of standing far off like a Jew; he is exhorted to approach with boldness, as may well be, since it is “unto the throne of grace” (Heb. 4), to enter into the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, a new and living way which He dedicated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh. There alone is a Great Priest over the house of God. All others are human pretenders over their own society, even if they have ambition enough to claim the whole of Christendom, or all the world. In this respect an apostle or a prophet takes common ground with all the faithful; for the blood of Christ is equally efficacious for all that believe. It perfects them each and all before God, and this here and now; so that all various efficacy of that blood is excluded, whatever the different positions in the church the sovereign will of God may assign as He does (1 Cor. 12:28), and whatever the differing place in glory, as we know from Matt. 25:14-22, Luke 19:1, 15-19 Cor. 3:8), and elsewhere. But the inspired word to all brethren is, Let us approach “with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our body washed with pure water.”
And what is worship but thanksgiving and praise? Thanksgiving for what God has done in Christ and gives freely to us who believe; praise for what we know by His word and Spirit He is, not only to us, but in Himself, His majesty, holiness, truth, goodness, mercy, love, and delight in us, the eternal self-existing One, now revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?
Dear reader, do you know the only true God? Do you know the Father? From 1 John 2:13 we learn that the little children, the babes of God's family, know the Father. But only he that confesses the Son has the Father also. God is no party to His Son's dishonor. “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father,” Faith is the operation of the Holy Spirit by the word. But to worship we need, besides, the gift of the Spirit, which is received when we rest on Christ's redemption; as in the O.T. oil was put where the blood (not merely the water) had been. Indeed as we see in Lev. 8, though Aaron alone had the oil without blood (12), Aaron's sons as well as he were sprinkled with the oil and the blood after the blood sprinkling (23, 24).
Is it so with you? Are you resting by faith on the sacrifice of Christ? Then you are anointed also; you are sealed with the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption—the redemption of the body, as you already have in Christ redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of your offenses.
See then that you worship the Father in spirit and truth. We have in the N.T. the clear impression how the believers worshipped since redemption. No doubt there were at first the effects of their old religious associations. But the fresh grace and mighty truth of a risen and exalted Savior led them out surely if slowly. And the Lord's Supper became by His institution the central symbol and ever-recurring observance every Lord's day at least. Nor did the now sent and ever abiding Spirit fail to work in the assembly, not only in teaching, and exhorting and edifying, but in singing, blessing, and giving thanks. Flesh might deceive and intrude; but the holy responsibility of all was to worship in spirit and truth—to worship the Father in that near and blessed relationship, as the Son revealed Him and the Spirit gives us to enjoy, to worship God in that holy nature and majesty Whose perfect love has cast out our fear; for He has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ made sin for us that we might become God's righteousness in Him.
It is not enough to be “true worshippers,” blessed though this is. “God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” How sad for the true worshippers to swamp themselves with notorious men of the world, and in acts and words suited to a mixed multitude! This He called not for nor accepts. It is not worship in spirit and truth which our Lord declares “must” be.
It is a necessity of His nature, and of theirs too, seeing that believers are become partakers of it in His grace (compare James 1:18, 2 Peter 1:4, 1 John 3:9). If true worshippers, look to it that your worship be, according to His will, “in spirit and truth,” not in forms or falsehood, but as we have been taught by the Lord Himself and His inspired servants. Since the Son of God is come and has given us understanding that we may know Him that is true, formal and false worship is hateful to Him and a shame for “true worshippers” who have the Spirit and know the truth, and are called to worship consistently.

The Lord's Testimony to the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch: 1

The question involved in the denial of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is not one of merely correct literary and historical criticism. If so, simple believers could well afford to let the critics of one school strive with the critics of the other schools, while they chose the better part of enjoying the Christ of the scriptures, Who is the theme of the Old Testament no less than of the New, and of the Pentateuch no less than of the Psalms or the Prophets. It is not however the soundness of human theories, but the character of our Lord Himself that is involved. For if Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible— “the law” —as our Lord asserted more than once, but which the advocates of “modern criticism” deny, then the Holy Son of God stands convicted of ignorance or error, if not deliberate deception. Such a horrible and blasphemous imputation to the Person of Christ, which it is painful even to repeat, needs only to be mentioned to be instinctively repudiated by every godly and devout soul. Can the saints of God allow for a single moment that He Who was emphatically the “Truth” was either imposed upon by the baseless traditions of the day, or ignorant of the true writer of the very scriptures He came to fulfill? Yet such is the daring and defiant position occupied by that which vaunts itself as “higher criticism.” And as this inflated assumption of worldly wisdom is developing in pernicious influence upon the people of God, and widening its line of attack upon all that is holy and divine, it may be profitable to briefly examine the words of Christ in reference to this subject, and also the principal arguments of those who have the unblushing effrontery to refuse to accept our adorable Lord as even a credible witness in the matter.
In the first place then it is proposed to refer to the direct statements of the Lord as reported by the Holy Ghost through the evangelists. In the latter part of John 5 the Lord Jesus is reproving the unbelief of the Jews. He points out the abundant witness to His Person and mission. John the Baptist testified to Him (verses 32-35). The character of the works He was doing in obedience to His Father testified to Him (ver. 36). The Father himself testified to Him (ver. 37). S I did the Father Himself witness from heaven (ver. 37). And the scriptures, which it was their duty to search, likewise testified to Him (ver. 39). Yet in spite of this fourfold testimony they refused to come to Him. And the Lord thereupon solemnly warns them of the gravity of such an attitude of unbelief. Not that He would accuse them of hardness of heart to His Father; but the very Moses in whom they trusted and boasted would rise up in judgment against them. “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?” (verses 45-47). Now it is submitted that the Lord here emphatically affirms that Moses under God was the author of those books commonly ascribed to him; “περὶ γὰρ έμοῦ έκεῖνος έγαψεν,” “for HE wrote of Me.”
In fact nothing else can be drawn from the passage. Moses, not Christ, was to be the accuser; therefore the writer, Moses, must be referred to as much as the person of Christ. Thus no room is left for the objection that Moses is here used tropically for the writings which bore his name; for if such be true in some other places, here, at any rate, Moses is expressly distinguished from his writings. “He wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, etc.” Surely the most violent rationalist would never seriously contend for the interpretation, “the Pentateuch wrote of Me.” So that this portion appears decisive in establishing that our blessed Lord accepted and confirmed the current belief of the Jews, that Moses was God's agent in composing the Pentateuch. Compare also Mark 10:5 with 12:19.
Further, the denial of Moses as the author of the first five books robs this appeal of the Lord of its entire force. He adduces Moses, the human founder of their system of worship, as a witness to Himself. And it is well known with what reverence Moses was acknowledged by the Jews; therefore of what extraordinary weight with them would be the evidence of one who was their leader out of Egypt, and their law-giver at Sinai? And where was his testimony to be found at that late day? Nowhere but in his own writings, as our Lord plainly states. Now if it be true, as the critics dream, that the Pentateuch was fathered upon Moses, centuries after his death, how can it possibly be said that he witnessed of Christ in writings which he never wrote? But such theories are neither true nor worthy, but self-destructive; and the truth is sealed by our Lord's words before us, and expressed as the ordinary belief of every godly Jew by Philip of Bethsaida when he said “We have found Him of Whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph” (John 1:45).
Moreover, this scripture— “he wrote of Me “indicates a unity of purpose in the writings of Moses, as well as a prophetic outlook into the future which could be nothing short of divine inspiration. However many “documents” Moses may have used in the compilation of the Pentateuch, all were coordinated to subserve one dominant purpose viz. testimony to Christ. And “if Moses testified the truth of Christ some fifteen centuries before He lived and died, he was a prophet, and inspired of God in what he wrote; and if God gave him, according to the Lord Jesus, to prophesy truly of Him, is it credible that he has written falsely of that of which even an ordinary man might have written truly? If the rationalist speaks aright, the Pentateuch is not Moses' writing, but a bundle of tales true and false, and in not one word written really of Christ; else it would be bona fide prophetic, which the system denies in principle; because true prophecy implies God's supernatural communication, and this would be necessarily a death-blow to the criticism of the rationalist.”
And the indication of this lofty object in the writings of Moses is by no means confined to these verses. The Lord points out the same thing to His disciples after His resurrection. To the dejected and sorrowful pair wending their way to Emmaus He reproachfully says, “O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27). Thus the true spiritual nexus of those ancient writings, missed by the dissecting critics, is “Christ,” as another passage in the same chapter also states, “These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). Here, too, the Lord alludes to the well-known triple division of the books of the Hebrew canon, viz. the law, the prophets, and the psalms. These together comprised the “scriptures” as the next verse shows, “Then opened He their understanding that they might understand the scriptures.” So that as has been said, “we may accept the Hebrew scriptures from the pierced hands of Christ Himself in resurrection:” though it is not hereby implied that His words were more true one time than another.
Other references in the evangelists also agree in teaching that our Lord added the whole weight of His authority to the generally received view of the authorship of the Pentateuch. When the rationalists of that day came to Him with their alleged difficulty about the resurrection, they said “Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die and leave his wife behind him &c.", quoting from Deut. 25:5, and manufacturing there from a highly complicated objection, as they thought (Mark 12:18-23). The Lord, at once, utterly condemns their interpretation of Holy Writ, saying, “Ye know (μὴ εὶδύτες) not the scriptures nor the power of God.” But it is important to notice that He does not condemn them for ascribing Deuteronomy to Moses, and He did not accept their fabulous interpretation. Why should He accept their fabulous authorship, if indeed it be fabulous, as the critics groundlessly imagine?
The Lord, however, proceeding to instruct them concerning the resurrection, takes up the very one to whom they had just referred and shows that he was opposed to their erroneous and skeptical notions. Neither was there any excuse for their ignorance of this. If they had read Deuteronomy, surely they must have read Exodus which Moses also wrote. “Have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham &c?” The Lord thus directly appeals to the Pentateuch as the book of Moses. And this phrase means simply the book which Moses wrote. For the word of God in another gospel, as if anticipating the mouse-holes through which the critics would fain creep, entirely forbids any thought to the contrary, such as the “book containing the law of Moses.” Accordingly in Luke we read in the same connection, “Now that the dead are raised even Moses showed in the bush, (or “the place concerning the bush.” R.V.) when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham” &c. (Luke 20:37). This indicates unmistakably that the human author was Moses, while the parallel passage in Matt. 22:31 adds a word as to the divine inspiration of the same. “Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham” &c. And it should he observed that it is the written word which is thus authorized in this scripture. For though the words themselves were originally addressed by God to Moses, in the written form they are said to be addressed by God to them, being divinely preserved for the profit of all. Compare also Mark 7:10. with Matt. 15:4.
In another place also the Lord again affirms in very precise terms that Deuteronomy was written by Moses. It was this time to the Pharisees, who, though they agreed with the Sadducees as little as possible, had at any rate no difference of opinion as to owning the hand of Moses in writing the law. They came to Him temptingly with a question concerning divorce. Jesus said, “What did Moses command you?” They at once referred to Deut. 24:1. Jesus answered and said unto them “For the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this precept” (Mark 10:3-5). Language can scarcely be more distinct and definite than this. So that we can but marvel at the audacity of men professing to be shepherds of the flock of God who appear to have no compunction whatever in contradicting their Master and saying “it is certain that Moses himself could not have written the book of Deuteronomy." And again “on the dramatic hypothesis, Deuteronomy (was) not written by Moses but in Moses' name to incorporate the Mosaic tradition.” “We may suppose Deuteronomy to be a republication of the law in the spirit and power of Moses put dramatically into his mouth.”
It is hoped (D. V.) to attempt next month to point out in more detail the real character of these and similar assertions contrary to the words of our Lord.
(To be continued.)

Hebrews 7:15-19

It has been shown then that a change of priesthood (and consequently of the law also) was involved in the priest addressed by God in Psalm 110. As the subject of the Psalm is confessedly Messiah and so of necessity David's son, He must spring out of Judah, not out of Levi as did the house of Aaron. But there is another and far weightier difference to which he next proceeds: He was David's Lord. No wonder that singular dignity of office attached to a person so glorious. He was no priest according to the law.
“And it is yet more abundantly evident if (or since) according to the similitude of Melchizedek ariseth a different priest who hath been made, not according to the law of fleshly commandment but according to power of indissoluble life. For it is witnessed, Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. For there is a putting away of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the law perfected nothing), and an introduction of a better hope, through which we draw nigh to God” (Heb. 7:15-19).
It was conceivable that a more exalted being might have taken up, in the sovereign will of God, the priesthood of Aaron, and shed new luster on it according to His superior glory. But the Holy Spirit here leads the writer to press, not only the change already urged, but the still more striking distinction of a different (ἕτερος, not ἅλλος merely) priest to arise according to the likeness of Melchizedek. This leaves Aaron or any successor of his, and the law with which they were bound up, completely aside. Thus the great weight of the testimony extracted from Psalm 110 comes more and more into evidence. Of Messiah it speaks beyond controversy, of His intermediate position at the right hand of God, of the divine recognition of His priesthood after the order, not of Aaron but, of Melchizedek, and not only of His Kingdom introduced as it is here and elsewhere shown to be, by divine power and judgment of His foes. And the more intelligently that Psalm and others are read, the more convergent the light on Christ, and the more indubitable the inference in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the truth alike of Jewish hopes for the future and of Christianity at present.
For it is the rejected Messiah that we see all through the Psalms, opposed by the nations and peoples, by kings and rulers; but God declares His decree not only on Zion to set His anointed, but to give Him the nations for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession, when He will rule them with a rod of iron and break them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Clearly this is not yet accomplished; nor has Messiah yet asked for it. He is waiting on the Father's throne; He will at His coming sit on His own throne, when those who are now being called shall reign with Him in glory. Meanwhile we have to pray that our hearts be directed into God's love and the patience of Christ (2 Thess. 3:5). We keep the word of His patience (Rev. 3:10). As He is waiting on high, so are we below, knowing that He that shall come will come and will not tarry. If made a little lower than the angels, He is because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor in a higher and larger sphere than David's Son in Zion; He is the suffering but exalted Son of Man in heavenly glory, and about to come with the clouds of heaven, invested with universal dominion, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him: an everlasting dominion and a kingdom which shall not be destroyed.
But while He waits on high, He is active as a priest in sustaining His own suffering ones, tried as they are on earth. And the order of His priesthood is not after the likeness of Aaron but of Melchizedek. It was not the day of His power when He came the first time. He was crucified in weakness then. So only could there be reconciliation to God by His blood. Redemption otherwise was impossible, and that glorification of God concerning sin without which there could be no righteous, no stable, blessing for any one or anything. Now the infinite work of atonement is wrought and accepted; and He Who was delivered for our offenses was raised for our justification, is at the right hand of God, and also maketh intercession. He died for the nation too, as well as to gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad, though the application of His work to “the nation” awaits the hour of their repentance and faith in Him, their own Messiah, Whom they slew by the hand of lawless men. He will sit as a priest on His throne when Jehovah shall send the rod of Messiah's strength out of Zion.
But He discharges priestly functions, a priest for us now, and He only is competent and all-sufficient, and must needs be so; as the very essence of His order is that, like Melchizedek, He stands alone with no companion in it nor subordinates, with neither predecessor nor successor, the one sole priest after the order of Melchizedek. The day of His wrath is future and introduces His kingdom; and He is Jehovah as well as Messiah. Thus it is that Jehovah shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall Jehovah be one and His name one: never till then a universal religion and universal kingdom, but all this then of the God of Israel in the person of the Lord Jesus.
And the heavens shall no longer be aloof but be united in homage to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Then He will have the glorified, who shall reign with Him. The suffering church will be manifested by His heavenly Bride. Nor is anything more opposed to all truth than that they are so reigning now: one of the evil roots of popery and of other self-exalting delusions. On the contrary now is the time to suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. It is an error as old as the ease and honor loving Corinthians, in the germ at least. See how nobly the apostle dissipates it as chaff in 1 Cor. 4:8-16, comparing 6:1-9; 7:29-31; 9:24-25; 15:23-24,42-58. But in fact where is not this truth underlying if not on the surface? The reign of Christ and His heavenly ones will take in the heavens, but be over (not on) the earth.
But to return to our chapter, the reasoning is conclusive. The change to a different priest of unique and surpassing glory is the teaching of that O.T. which every Jew owns to be divine. The infirmity of the Levitical priesthood is thereby demonstrated, and Christ alone answers to the type of Melchizedek. He is beyond controversy the other and different priest that arises, Who has been so made or constituted, not after a law of fleshly commandment, but after a power of indissoluble life. For he is testified of, Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. What can be conceived plainer or more conclusive? Even the royal priest who blessed Abraham was but typical and shadowy. The body is Christ's. Aaron's priesthood was fleshly, Christ's according to power of an imperishable life. It is as risen and in heaven that He is Melchizedek priest.
Our chapter however draws a still larger deduction, not only an incomparably higher priesthood, to which Aaron's gives place, but disannulling of a foregoing commandment as weak and unprofitable; for, as he adds parenthetically, the law perfected nothing. Christ is not only perfect Himself but brings in perfection, and in every way. And this is what was exhorted in Hebrews 6:1, “let us go on unto perfection.” It really is Christianity in contradistinction from Judaism, wherein even the heirs were under age (Gal. 4:1-3). The Christian is a son and heir of God, and we know it by the Spirit of His Son sent forth into our hearts and crying, Abba, Father. Compare also Rom. 8.
Thus the change of the priesthood from the order of Aaron to that of Melchizedek is shown to be exceeding deep and wide and permanent. Even now, whatever glorious results are in the womb of the future, there is on one hand an abolishing of antecedent injunction because of its weakness and unprofitableness, but on the other an inbringing of a better hope, the parenthesis simply summing up and clenching in a few pithy words the failure of the law to perfect one thing. Perfection is in and by Christ alone; and this by grace so fully as to glorify God and meet the believer's need in everything—even in the body at His coming again.
But meantime “we draw near to God.” How blessed! It is the standing truth of access: never true even of Aaron, save once a year and then with solemn rite “lest he die.” Now it is alike and always true of the Christian family. For here is no question of differing gift or of special position or local charge. It is the common blessedness of all, due to the work and blood, the person and priesthood, of Christ. “We draw near to God.” To assert difference in this is to resuscitate the abolished injunction, and to despise the introduced better hope. It is to set aside the gospel and go back to that law which, if God's word is to be believed, made nothing perfect. This is what is seen in much the greater part of Christendom. It was the wedge of Tractarianism; it is the flag of Ritualism. And it is the weakness of true Christians which leaves the door open for all such dark rebellions against divine grace and truth. For to say that there are no priests now on earth is but half a truth. The truth is that Christ is the great Priest on high, and that believers now on earth and since Pentecost are free of the sanctuary. “We draw near to God.” How so if we have not priestly nearness of access? To claim, to allow, that some have it for others virtually denies Christianity.
But the perfection goes far beyond our being now made of age, in contrast with legal minority, as we shall find throughout this Epistle and in what remains no less than what we have had; so that this need not be more than noticed according to the brief allusion in the text.
Only it is well to observe that the A. V. of the passage is untenable, and so are the various antecedent translations. Thus Wiclif muddles the entire context, though he is right as to the last clause. It is the more curious as the Vulgate is correct, which helped the Rhemish, though their English is here clumsy, and their punctuation cuts all thread of sense. Tyndale, by failing to see the parenthesis, led the way into the strange error of understanding (seemingly for it is preposterous) that “the law made nothing perfect: but was an introduction” &c. Cranmer followed in his wake. The English version of Geneva erred in another way of like misapprehension by giving, “the law made nothing perfect: but the bringing in of a better hope made perfect” &c. The A. V. followed this by inserting “did.” The truth is that no verb is needed other than the text supplies in the beginning of ver. 18, which stretches over to ver. 19 also. There is a doing away of a foregoing commandment, and an introduction of a better hope, by which we draw near to God; the legal state is annulled, and a better hope supervenes now. It is Christianity, and by it we draw near to God, instead of standing at a distance as is essentially Jewish. There is nothing more characteristic of the gospel, as the result of Christ's cross and blood-shedding by which we are brought to God. All priesthood for us save Christ's vanishes away; and Christ's is to maintain us in that nearness which His work gives us even now, all Christians being priests.

Scripture Imagery: 90. Provision for the Leper (continued)

In accordance with the principles already referred to, there was a special provision made for the leper, even in respect of his cleansing and consecration. Besides the usual sin, trespass, and burnt offerings required by others, there was the impressive and expressive ceremony of the Two Birds. By the command of the priest these birds were taken, and one of them “killed in an earthen vessel over running water.” That is—of course the death of Christ “come in the flesh,” —the earthen vessel,—and in inseparable connection with the living “water of the word.” Birds pertain to the ethereal sphere; that is to say, the highest conception of His being and personality is required in such a case as that before us. Of course it is always the same Christ in absolute perfection that is our atonement in fact, but the different values of the figures used indicate the different degrees of estimation in which His work is held by persons of different capacities. The poor man, that is, the man with a poor capacity and apprehension, brought a handful of meal that was his apprehension of Christ—very meager the rich man brings a bullock; that is his apprehension of Christ, a far higher degree of estimation. A great difference in apprehension but no difference whatever in application, for in each case the infinite merits of the infinite Savior apply. This difference of capacity to apprehend is often caused by the sense of the evil of sin being weaker in one than in another. The poor woman in Luke loved much, for she felt that she had been forgiven much; “but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little”.
In the leper's case it is not so much amplitude of apprehension as altitude of apprehension that is contemplated. It is the soul from out of its dungeon in the deepest abyss of human woe looking up and apprehending the advent of the heavenly Christ in His most celestial aspect, imprisoned and dying in the “earthen vessel,” —albeit over running water,—and the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop—that is to say, all that pertains to the glory, majesty, and ambition—and even the humility—of the world, dipped in the blood, buried in the grave of Christ.
Happily that is not all, or it were but a dead hope. The priest takes in his hand, with the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop, the second bird, the living bird; and plunging them all under the blood of the dead victim, he sprinkles the leper seven times there from—thus identifying him in the most solemn and awful way with the whole of these transactions. He then lets the living bird loose in the open field, and the leper is. pronounced clean. The meaning of all this is very obvious. It is the death and resurrection of Christ. In the slain bird He is delivered for our offenses; in the freed bird He is raised again for our justification. It is liberty out of condemnation. The idea of setting birds free in order to express deliverance from captivity,—as, for instance, the lazzaroni of Naples did in honor of Nelson after the battle of the Nile, by which conflict they considered their liberties secured,—is a very old and well-known one. In this case, the bird being dipped in the blood of the slain one is identified with it. It is in a sense the same bird. It is the same Savior risen again from the dead, and the fact is full of infinite meaning. Yet unfortunately how few give it consideration. How few consider what is implied by the resurrection of Christ, “for if Christ be not risen ye are yet in your sins;” there is no justification., nor is there assurance that the sacrifice is sufficient and acceptable, nor that there will ever be any resurrection at all.
Yet how many Christians there are who see only the slain bird, who stop at the cross and do not go forward to the opened sepulcher; and in consequence of this do not see how great and thorough their deliverance has been. That is why at the beginning the apostles used to preach “Jesus and the resurrection.”
The details are then given of the cleansed leper's consecration. He is the only one except the priest concerning whom such particulars are given. He is submitted to the action of water (the word), of blood (the Atonement) and of oil (the Holy Ghost) The water goes all over him. The blood is put on the tip of his right ear, the right thumb, and great toe, and then the oil on the same places, signifying that all that pertains to his actions, “walk,” and receptivity should be in accordance with the solemn ordeal through which he has passed—should be such as is not unbeseeming to one who has been cleansed by the blood of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit. Noblesse oblige. For the future his position demands of him a certain course of action, attitude, and thought. No blood is put upon the head but the remainder of the oil is poured thereon. “The head of every man is Christ,” and when Christ personally is typified, He is anointed without blood, for He was personally sinless and needed no expiation. Thus when the High Priest is separately consecrated, he is bathed and then directly the oil is put upon him in the same way as, when our Lord was baptized in the Jordan, He was “anointed by the Holy Ghost” by the immediate descent, in the form of a dove, of the divine Spirit. Had it been anyone else, atonement (either typically or otherwise) would have been required before the anointing could take place.
Thus is the leper raised from the very lowest depths of human misery to the highest altitudes of divine felicity, the variety and extremity of his need only serving to disclose—in a way that nothing else could—the exhaustless affluence of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
(continued from page 45.)

Results of the Cross to Faith

How divinely precious for the heart of the simplest saint of God, to be enabled through His word to rise to His mind! Thus one learns that He Who alone is the Blesser does no less delight in blessing, not only refreshing us with His love, but bringing us by Christ's blood without a spot and in perfect peace into His presence, the holiest of all. It is here we learn something of the results of the cross not only in the blotting out of all our sins, so hateful in the sight of God: but in the positive efficacy of the sacrifice which fits the believer for heaven as truly as it has glorified God about sin.
In Christ God found His highest delight and expressed it over and over again. But sin was not judged till the scene of His own Son made sin on Calvary's cross, at which the earth quaked, and the rocks rent, and the very sun shrouded itself in darkness. It was indeed the long-looked-for hour that stands alone in all time, yea, eternity, when the atoning work of Christ was accomplished, never again to be repeated.
God was herein glorified even as to sin, and He gave the immediate pledge of His entire satisfaction, in rending the vail of the temple from the top to the bottom. By the cross any and every soul that believes His testimony to the work of His beloved Son is called to see the blood on and before the mercy seat. By His blood peace is made and himself meet to enter His holy presence, in the full rest of God's estimate of eternal redemption. To faith not only sin and death but His judgment were met in Christ's death; and the glorious triumphs which crowned the ascended Lamb were given and made known to us. Thus by grace we can now take up the language of the hymn and sing,
“We triumph in thy triumphs, Lord:
Thy joys our deepest joys afford;
They taste of love divine.”
The gospel goes out to every creature under heaven proclaiming God's righteousness to all, and upon all that believe. But how unutterably solemn also is the cross for this Christ-rejecting world, already judged and only awaiting the day of its execution. Then will be the day of the Lord, when everything will give place to the One Who alone is worthy, alone able to rule with equity and govern in righteousness to the glory of God the Father.
In answer to the cross all things in heaven and in earth will be reconciled to God; and the universe will be suited to Him and the redeemed above and below. Then will Psa. 68; 72; 85; 103 etc., and Isa. 11; 35; 65; 66, etc. be realized and displayed not in spirit only but in full result. “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” This and much more than it we through grace already know in Christ's work for God's glory and our souls; but even Israel and the nations in that day shall know it beyond all question, and every creature of God enjoy the effects of His mighty deliverance when the sons and heirs of God are revealed in the likeness of His resurrection glory without a shadow to intervene. It is only as we keep this blessed hope and the appearing of the glory before our hearts in communion with Himself, that we can rise above the seductions of this present evil age and the trying circumstances of the wilderness through which we pass, so as to bring glory to Christ's peerless name. “For if we suffer with Him, we shall be glorified together.” We cannot serve God and mammon.
But He knows we are weak, faulty, and needy, however blessed in Him. We cannot do without Him. Therefore has God provided and revealed a throne of grace, to which we are invited to come boldly, that we may obtain mercy and find grace for seasonable help. For He has been ever gracious, and He gives more grace, and this liberally and without upbraiding, so that we are thus enabled to go on our way rejoicing. E. P.

God's Purpose Inside Seen Events

The external course of events tells us nothing of what is really going on, which is inside it all. If the external plannings of men or of Satan further God's plans, they succeed; if not, they come to nothing. But what is really going on is still inside them all. Thus the Jews would not have taken Jesus on the feast-day, to avoid uproar; but He was to be the Paschal Lamb, and He is taken. They would have often taken Him; but His hour was not yet come: when it was, they take Him and their wicked plans succeed. When the heartless superstition of the Jews had the malefactors' legs broken, that which they really did in the one case was to send the man into paradise.
To the outward eye there happened to Job raids of Arabs and Chaldeans, ordinary predatory raids; and a violent storm blew down the house. Satan was in it all, and above him God arranging to purify Job's heart and to instruct us in all ages.
The political measures of Augustus as to the census of the empire brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus; and then it would seem that it was not carried out for nine years when Cyrenius, or Quirinus, was governor.
All we have to do is to discern God's will, and find by faith the courage to do it. All His strength is power to carry us forward. It may seem all to turn out ill, or to be a cross—it may be so; but we shall have the result of God's counsels and blessing by the way. Man succeeded in crucifying Jesus; because, however wicked the act on their part, it was just carrying out God's plan. Jesus knew His Father's will, and sought only to glorify His name, and had faithful obedience to act upon it; though to man's eye it was the ruin of everything, of every religious hope even. And so it was in man and in flesh, but the birthplace of all counsels in glory, of that new thing in Man wherein God will be glorified forever, of that wherein He was glorified in all He is essentially. The outside was wicked men's success, and the end of pious men's hopes; the inside (what all blessing that ever was, or could be really and permanently) is entirely founded upon that wherein alone God is fully glorified. Christ learned and did His Father's will: Satan's power and man's wickedness were there and triumphed as nowhere else; yet His death was the foundation of all true and everlasting blessing. J. N. D.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:15-17

Chapter 2:15-17
We hear again of the Lord God putting Man, the man (Adam) into the garden. This is no vain repetition. In verses 8-14 the general fact was stated, and those special precincts described within a country of delight and pleasantness, where He Who built all things stocked it particularly with everything beautiful and good for His favored creature and representative on earth, but also with two trees, there only, which some have designated “sacramental.” Whether this be quite just or not, certainly they were most momentous and significant, the tree of life evidently and absolutely distinct from that of knowing good and evil, which alone was prohibited. In that garden was Man placed to abide in dependence and obedience, sovereign of all around him, subject to Him Whose goodness set him there with but one test of his loyalty. This we hear only in the second statement of his introduction there, where a river afforded its refreshing waters, which on leaving the garden parted into four heads or chief streams outside, two less known and more described, two more notoriously connected with man's sad history, of which the end is not yet.
The second mention gives the peculiar tenure of man in divine relationship, which is utterly lost when men, or even Christians, trust their a, priori reasonings All is false when inferences are drawn from man and creation under the fall. And philosophical theory is even more remote from the truth than the various and uncertain traditions in almost all lands and races of old, which may partially disguise but ultimately confess a pre-existent state of man and the earth in peace, purity, and happiness. The true golden age is to come when the Man of righteousness, not of sin, the Savior, not the son of perdition, shall rule to God's glory, and His heavenly bride shall reign with Him. Man and the earth are not ever to be the sport of the enemy, but the Most High shall vindicate His possession of heaven and earth. Adam was but a type or figure of the coming One. It ought to be plain, that, as we can know nothing of the glorious as well as solemn future save from God's revelation, so we can have across the ages nothing sure of man's primeval state save from His testimony. It was of the utmost interest and importance to know, not guess, how and for what ends, with what endowments, and on what conditions man was formed, especially, in relation to God; and if accountable to Him, as none but a wicked person doubts (brutalized morally, if he confound himself with brutes, as in effect but a superior brute), surely not left to a cruel and destructive darkness, but with light from God.
“And Jehovah Elohim took Man, and put him into the garden of Eden to till it and to keep it. And Jehovah Elohim commanded Man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou shalt freely (eating) eat; but of the tree of knowing good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it thou shalt surely (dying) die” (ver.. 15-17).
Now we have, not the locality, its resources and surroundings, however far-reaching, but the moral aspect and end. The divine Governor took Man and put him into the paradise He had prepared. Though all was in unfallen order and beauty, and no taint in Adam or the subject creation, and of course not in its fairest scene, Man was put there to till it and to keep it. Lordly indifference would have been unbecoming, though Man was blessed and everything very good, and toil or sorrow unknown, and no sentence yet pronounced of death or curse, or even of eating bread in the sweat of his face. Still he was to dress the garden and keep it.
But more than this, “Jehovah Elohim commanded Man,” with liberty to eat freely “of every tree of the garden;” there was one and but one restriction, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was prohibited on pain of death. “In the day of thine eating thereof thou shalt surely die.” It was a law, not the law; positive, not moral; a simple test of obedience in what otherwise was indifferent: the only conceivable condition for an innocent, being's probation in an unfallen earth. For the law supposes a fallen state with lust already existing to do the evils which God interdicted. In both cases, as scripture expresses, transgression resulted; not sin simply or lawlessness (ὰνομία), but transgression of law (υόμου παράβασις); for as the apostle justly argues, where no law is, there is no transgression, though there may be sin (as death attested e.g. between Adam and Moses, cf. Gen. 6 and Rom. 5:12, 14). Hence is evident the deplorable misrendering of the A. V. in 1 John 3:4, and its proper and needful correction in the R. V., from which systematic divinity, long deceived, has much to learn.
We may remark the charming simplicity of the earth's prince, but also the suited directness of. God's dealings with man. As there could be no prophet nor priest, there was no angel to intervene. The intercourse was unbroken, and communication immediate. Man needed no argument on the being of God, no disquisition on His attributes Who “blessed” and “commanded” him, Whose voice, or sound, as He walked in the garden in the cool of the day they heard to their fear when they had transgressed. Yet no man had ever imagined such a condition. The truth of it accounts for it to all save those who naturally love a lie and prefer the dark. For present experience would rather lead men to deny it.
The unbelief, which blinds skeptics where it is complete, darkens God-fearing men in the measure of their pursuit of human thoughts and theories. Thus soon after the apostolic age a patristic tradition grew up, from Rabbinism and philosophy, as if Adam, like Israel or fallen man generally, was under a moral government in respect of known good and evil in itself, or such a moral sense as man got by sin and a bad conscience. On the contrary he had only goodness to enjoy in thankfulness to the blessed Giver of all, abiding in that normal condition which was the peculiar position of primeval Man. A general state of government where he could judge intrinsically between good and evil was in no way his originally, though it became his when he transgressed and God drove him out from the garden, with that sad but useful monitor along his fallen pathway. Before he fell, it was his place to live in the constitutional enjoyment of divine goodness and its abundant gifts with a simple test of his obedience. His condition therefore stands in plain contrast with ours, who, being naturally sinful, by faith know Him that called us by glory and virtue, whereby He has granted to us His precious and exceeding great promises. But Man, when unfallen, had just to abide in, not quit his first estate, instead of being called out of a fallen one as believers are. No reward was proposed to him in obeying God's gracious call as to us now, nor was there the least room, as we need, to have senses exercised for distinguishing both good and evil. Adam was simply warned against disobedience in one particular, which was evil because forbidden. Free to act in the sphere subjected to him, he was responsible to obey in refraining from the forbidden tree. Nor can notion here be more evil and false than the thought of freedom to choose. Alas! this suits man's pride, but it is bad and senseless to boot. Free to obey or disobey God! Can these abstract reasoners mean what they say? Unfallen or fallen, man is only and always bound to obey God. He was not a slave of sin then; he is now. This is the truth according to scripture. It was then a natural relationship to God where all was good, but with responsibility to obey, and loss of all—death if he disobeyed. Sin put man out of that relationship to God; grace by faith alone gives a new and better and eternal one in Christ. Reinstatement there is none. The paradise of man is not regained, but the paradise of God opened by Christ to the believer, whom grace makes a child of God and teaches to walk in obedience, as Christ did perfectly and unto death—death of the cross.

Nabal and Abigail

1 Sam. 25
This remarkable chapter opens with the announcement of the death of Samuel and the gathering together of all Israel to lament for him and to bury him. They had, indeed, abundant cause for mourning. Although he had for some time been in retirement, yet while he lived the Spirit of God wrought in Israel, and so powerfully that Saul's messengers and even Saul himself could not resist it, however unchanged in their hearts (ch. 19:20-24).
But this link with the Lord no longer existed; and what was there left to His people of all the blessings lavished on them? Inspiration only can set before us a true picture of their condition, and Psa. 78 furnishes a very vivid one. We quote from ver. 59.
God was wroth, And greatly abhorred Israel:
So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh,
The tent which he placed among men;
And delivered his strength into captivity,
And his glory into the enemy's hand.
He gave his people over unto the sword;
And was wroth with his inheritance.
The fire consumed their young men;
And their maidens were not given in marriage.
Their priests fell by the sword;
And their widows made no lamentation.”
It is a distressing scene. What more so than such a people stricken of God? The last lines disclose such a state of despair in those who were once the most honored of the nation that we cannot think they refer to the death of Hophni and Phinehas only. Saul, surely, was the author of this crowning calamity, and if so, how fatal the course of the people in choosing their own way of deliverance and desiring him, rather than the Lord, to be their king. His worst passions had been stirred by Doeg, and he summoned Ahimelech the priest and all his father's house before him on a charge of conspiracy with David. With unscrupulous ferocity he commanded this Edomite to fall upon them; “who slew on that day fourscore 1., and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.” This was not all. The man who in defiance of God's express command spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, now devoted the whole city of the priests to the sword; women, children and even sucklings were to be slain. This unlooked for and overwhelming stroke fell with all its pitilessness on hearts already crushed by the slaughter of their husbands, and turned their sorrow to despair. They made no lamentation! And now Samuel was dead, and Saul was increasing in power, in resources and in wickedness. How feebly at best can we enter into the feelings of those in Israel who had a heart for the Lord and the things of the Lord. The glory had departed, the tabernacle was abandoned, the king was apostate, the priests were slain, the ephod, with Uri's] and Thummim, was with Abiathar a fugitive, and the prophet was dead. There was no one to offer sacrifice, no one to minister to them the word of the Lord. Could spiritual destitution be more complete, or their helplessness more manifest? But Israel, notwithstanding all their sinful failures, was still precious in the sight of the Lord, and the Psalm already quoted, when things were at the worst, breaks forth in triumphant strains (vers. 65-72), recounting the results of His intervention, and brings before us David as the hope of the nation; God's chosen king, chosen to be the deliverer and restorer, the leader and blesser of His people. At this time, however, he was in suffering and want, an outcast, fleeing before Saul in fear of his life, hunted, as he said, like a partridge in the mountains.
To see his future glory through the dark cloud of his present circumstances needed faith, and this some, as Jonathan, had. To confess him needed love, and this Jonathan had too, wonderful love; but to go forth to him, to bear his reproach and to share his sufferings, needed something more, needed a true judgment of the whole system which cast him out, whatever its present wealth and power. This Jonathan had not. At first he stripped himself for David, even to his sword and his bow; but we find him at last using his weapons in companionship with Saul, and was stripped of them by the Philistines. Solemn lesson whatever the Christian reserves for himself and the world falls into the hands of the adversary. Christ can keep for him, he cannot keep for himself (2 Tim. 1:12). Abigail in this was wiser than Jonathan.
A few touches suffice to set Nabal, her husband, before us. He was a man of great possessions, but without understanding. Spiritual destitution did not trouble him. His flocks had increased and were in safety, and these were his only care; therefore he would feast and make merry. Unwelcome as the truth was, it was none the less certain, that he owed his prosperity to one on whom he bestowed not a thought. It was characteristic of David to seek the welfare of all of Israel, and it was he who had protected Nabal's flocks from the incursions of enemies (vers. 7, 15, 16). Would he acknowledge this? Would he own his indebtedness and seek to make some return? Nothing could exceed the grace with which the claims of David were set before him. How were they met? With unmingled contempt. “Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? There be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it, unto men, whom I know not whence they be?
“How various are the passions of men which Satan can take hold of to get the better of them.. What was there in common between Saul and Nabal? What opposites they were, in disposition. Especially the one of indomitable energy and ambition, the other a common sample of inert, sordid selfishness. Yet they were united in their rejection of David. They were both indebted to him, yet they were one in their hatred of him. Is there nothing in this to remind us of Him Whose claims on men are infinite? Every possible variety of character, of position in life, of attainments, and even of religion and race, was united against Christ. As He said, “The world hath hated me.” What a power there must be behind all that is seen to bind together such discordant elements, and to maintain to the present moment such a unity as this; a unity that is appalling to think of in the light of Calvary; a unity from which it needs omnipotent grace to detach a single soul.
Abigail, in her day, is a most interesting example of such a soul. Her firmness and decision are bright features in her character, because her relationship to Nabal made a faithful course exceedingly difficult. She could not deliver hers elf from her position, and she did not attempt to do it; but she could, and did, unequivocally manifest that the king of God's choice had the loyal allegiance of her heart. She would confess David as her lord, come what may, and such a confession of him as she made, we may safely say, is without a parallel. When she heard of him, she responded without a moment's hesitation to his claims, and sent to him a munificent offering, yet humbly owned it was unworthy of him. She bowed before him to the ground. Looking for mercy, taking upon herself her husband's iniquity, for she fully judged Nabal's conduct to be iniquitous. Then her “heart overflowed with goodly matter,” and she rehearsed the counsels of God concerning the king; for already David was king to her faith, and she magnified his work and his worth. “The Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.”
Glancing a moment at Saul, she saw only “a man” whose attempts to frustrate the will of God must prove vain. David was safe, whoever might rise up against him, “bound in the bundle of life with the Lord;” while “the souls of his enemies should be slung out, as out of the middle of a sling.”
Her only request for herself was, “When the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.” There is a singularly interesting and instructive similarity between this petition and that of the dying thief to the Lord Jesus; especially as we call to mind that, to sight, there was nothing for either on which to build a hope. In both cases too, the answer far exceeded the request. In about ten days the Lord smote Nabal that he died, and David took Abigail to be his wife, to suffer with him and to reign.
Various reasons have been suggested why the history of Nabal and Abigail was introduced at this crisis in Israel. We may say, that the course of divinely given wisdom and human folly has rarely been so simply, yet so vividly, depicted; and the crisis gave occasion for this. It is also our conviction that, if Matt. 11 (a still more important crisis in Israel) were read in the light of it, there would be less difficulty in understanding ver. 12 (see margin). The law, the prophets and even John, afforded no rest; here it was the king, but the king in rejection. The precious rest of the soul was to be found in and with Him; but oh! the opposition and the hindrances (Luke 12:51-53).

Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 7

Chapters 8-9
The Lord manifests His acceptance of the worship of Israel, and of Solomon's prayer, for fire descends from heaven and consumes the sacrifices, and His glory fills the house, and He also graciously grants the King's requests. He will hear and forgive if the people humble themselves and pray to Him. He will look on that house and be attentive to the prayer that is made in it. And the Lord is as minute and particular in His answer as was Solomon in his prayer. “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people, if my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open and mine ears intent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house that my name may be there forever and mine eyes and mine ears shall be there perpetually” (7:13-16). Solomon prays for Israel as the Lord's people; he said in his prayer, Thy people. And the Lord owns them as His, and says, My people.
It was in the night the Lord appeared and answered his prayer. As the chief if not the sole responsibility rested on him, a private word is given, not in the hearing of the people but special to him. “And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments, then will I establish the throne of thy kingdom according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.” This is a word for Solomon himself as to his own ways and obedience to which he made no reference in his prayer—unless it be contained in the words, “there is no man which sinneth not.” Yet are they remarkable words from one who was under law (for at that time the two tables that Moses wrote were in the ark, but not the budding rod, nor the manna), and therefore on the ground of establishing his own righteousness. The words are almost a confession that his righteousness at the best would only be as filthy rags. Be his thoughts what they might, the Lord reminds him of what he seemed forgetful. “And as for thee” must have awakened in him thoughts and feelings which perhaps had till that moment lain dormant; if faithful and obedient, the unbroken continuance of his throne is promised. But if he failed, though the forgiveness which the Lord had pledged Himself to would certainly be shown to him and to the people, yet persistent sin would ultimately bring upon them unfailing judgment. “But if ye turn away and forsake my statutes and my commander which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods and worship them, then, will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them, and this house which I have sanctified for my name will I cast out of my sight and will make it a proverb and a byword among all nations. And this house which is high shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it, so that he shall say, Why hath the Lord done this unto the land and unto this house? and it shall be answered, Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt; and laid hold on other gods and worshipped them and served them, therefore hath He brought all this evil upon them” (7:19 etc.).
Solomon was disobedient, and “did evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings 11:6): all these evils fell upon them. Solomon's throne was overturned, the house was destroyed, and the people made captives; even the righteous remnant had to share in the national calamity. And it is Solomon himself who in the first years of his reign shadowed forth the peaceful glories of Messiah's rule and kingdom; in his later years he becomes the leader, the first link among the kings of Israel of the abominations which in the end brought on king and people the long-threatened judgment of God. Thus, the first idol, after the temple was built and the Lord's name called on, was found in the family of the king, of him who had so earnestly prayed that the Lord God would turn not away the face of His anointed. And the idol was not a secret thing worshipped by his servants, but by his wives in public, and he built altars for them. He who had led the people in the worship of Jehovah, is now and thus the leader in idolatry.
The typical character of Solomon's reign ceased when, or soon after, the temple was filled with glory, and the honored type gives place to failing man. In Solomon's greatness and his subsequent fall we have an answer to the all-important question:—Can man sustain himself in the position of the highest favor and dignity possible, the immediate gift of God (short of new and eternal life) by his own strength? Let Solomon's fall answer, and in the N. T. see Heb. 6. But was it upon Solomon's fidelity that the promise of God depended? Nay, the kingdom of God is not contingent upon Solomon's faithfulness, but rests on One greater than Solomon, Who at the right and appointed time will surely establish it.
Solomon said, “Verify Thy word.” Truly the word is verified in their judgment. But there is one promise that their sin and judgment do not touch. While every blessing which depended upon their obedience is lost, this one becomes more necessary (so to say) through their unfaithfulness. The Lord had said, there shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel; that God's king should sit upon His throne in Zion. It is His eternal purpose and declared in His word (Psa. 2), though kings and rulers take counsel against Him. This decree could not be annulled even if all Israel were forever destroyed. There is nothing in God's righteous judgment on the land, the people or the house, not even on the royal family of David of whom the promised king was to come, that could in any way set aside God's immutable decree concerning His Son. This promise shines with increased luster when all apparently is lost; for when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city, when Jeremiah was in prison for his testimony when their cup of iniquity was full, and the Gentile was to rule over them, then the word of the Lord came to the imprisoned prophet,
“David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel” (Jer. 33:17), and now joined to the priest and Levite (see whole chapter) there shall not want a man before the Lord to offer burnt-offerings—a sacrifice continually... Thus the throne and the temple shall be both on a foundation of God's laying. “Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation” etc. (Isa. 28:16).
There appears to be a delay to the setting up of this glorious kingdom, and, though Israel is under the appointed judgment during the delay, their judgment is not the sole reason of the delay (apparent), but that through Israel's fall salvation might come to the Gentile (Rom. 11:11), or, as Peter says, the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation. The Man, Who is to reign, has appeared. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh to lay a righteous foundation for the bringing in of a greater glory than Solomon knew, yea, and much more. For as the prophet said, “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). It is now salvation to the Gentile. When He comes to restore the preserved of Israel, this present day of long-suffering will have closed, forever. He Who is coming—our Lord Jesus—is now sitting on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Exalted to the highest, He is waiting there on God's throne till His enemies are made His footstool. Meanwhile, He has all power over all flesh to give eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him. As the ark floated over the waters of the deluge (for God's word—The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head—was, contained in it) while the earth that then was perished, so does this decree of God, this promise to Israel, this blessing for the whole earth, the eternal decree, rise above the moral and judicial flood that now overwhelms Israel.
Solomon is still the connecting link between God and the people, and he is responsible to maintain it. And when he as it were broke that link, there was none but that sovereign “mercy endureth forever to keep the earth before the mind of God as an object of pity and compassion, till Christ came Who brought grace and truth, not to mend the old broken link which truth cast away forever as a useless thing, but that grace might establish a new and better link between God and (believing) man. And the Lord Jesus, God and man, brings the believer into relationship with God. “For ye are all sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 3:26). A mere human link might, with the law, serve the purpose of God for the time. But now that eternal redemption is proclaimed, there must necessarily be One Who in accomplishing eternal redemption could bring not only God down in love to man, but believing man up to God. This is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of man. “He hath done this” (Psa. 22). Now there is a link everlasting between God in heaven and men on the earth through faith in Him Whom God has highly exalted. And the Spirit is both unction and seal.
But Solomon is also responsible for the right use of the wisdom God gave him as befitting a man that is to be a type of God's king, and for all the accessories of power and riches and honor. For these things did not leave him when the typical aspect of his reign ceased; but he was surely responsible to God for them in the use he made of these great gifts and endowments. He asked for wisdom and knowledge that he might judge and rule God's people aright, and God approves of his request. And the Lord added riches and wealth and honor such as no other king had. He was wiser than all men; he spake three thousand proverbs, one thousand and five songs, he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall, he spake also of beasts and of fowls, and of creeping things and of fishes (see 1 Kings 4:29-34). Amazing knowledge! Earth, air and water disclose the secrets of the vegetable and of the animal creation of God. But was this wealth of knowledge needed for the government of Israel according to the law? Was it a necessary part of that wisdom for which he prayed (2 Chron. 1:10)? Did he not waste that power, that wisdom with which he was so eminently endowed? And was there no misuse of the abundant riches, which the Lord added to him? Were they given that he might bring horses out of Egypt, possess chariots, and multiply wives, things expressly forbidden? Can we wonder that when he looked upon all his labor, his verdict is, Vanity and vexation of spirit. (Eccl. 1). He failed in nothing upon which he set his heart, and his word upon all is—no profit under the sun. We hear the words of our Lord Who said long after, What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? We do not dare pronounce on his soul; but he gained much of the world's riches, and found—no profit. The conclusion he comes to is, “There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor &c.” (Eccl. 2:24); and that all this was nothing but vanity and vexation, he saw or had learned, was from the hand of God. The rich man in Luke 12 Said, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry;” but God said Thou fool. Treasure for self and not toward God must end in vanity and vexation of spirit; and this was Solomon's experience. And in it his responsibility lay.
Alas! man being in honor abideth not. Impossible that a mere man could maintain such a place as being the channel of God's word to man or of man's supplication to God. Only One could do that mighty work of connecting heaven with earth, and only One could bring the eye of God to be open on that house, and His ear attentive to the prayer that is made in it; only He everlasting. It is not now the old link of creation, as of God with a sinless creature, as with Adam before he sinned, or even with Israel under a modified law, but on the ground of redemption, a new and eternal link; through faith now, through the manifested glory in the coming time.
The consequences of disobedience are not limited to himself, yet all hangs upon him; his turning away involved that of the people. That vast outlook of glory and power and dominion was presented to Solomon as the reward of his obedience. But as resting on his faithfulness it was but a house built on the sand. The floods of idolatry overthrew it, and great was the fall thereof.
When the appointed time comes, all will hang on Him Who cannot fail. For He is the man of God's right hand, and to Him praise is ascribed by every creature. “Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever” (Rev. 5:13).

The Psalms Book 2: 59-63

The next two psalms are part of the group which began with 55., itself closely following in spirit those that precede, in which we do well to trace the varying shades of iniquity in their enemies which by the Spirit of Christ had a blessed counterpoise in God's ways toward them, as we see historically in David with his adversaries within and without. All things work together for good to those that love God, though we by grace learn in light what the godly Jews spell out in the dark. God is the defense, “the God of my mercy.” Evil never improves but grows worse till divine judgment. And God is right in our defeat, for evil is then in us even if unperceived: else He would uphold the banner He has given us. He cannot sustain pride in His people but dependence only. Even so faith looks to God and will surely receive His deliverance.
Psalm 59
“To the chief musician, Al-tashheth (destroy not), of David, Michtam, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to put him to death. Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; set me on high from those that rise up against me. Deliver me from doers of iniquity, and save me from men of blood. For, behold, they laid wait for my soul; strong ones assemble against me: not my transgression, not my sin, O Jehovah. Without iniquity they run and set themselves: awake to meet me, and see. And thou, Jehovah, God of hosts, God of Israel, arise to visit all the Gentiles; be gracious to no traitors of iniquity. Selah. Let them return at the evening, let them howl like the dog, and go around the city. Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords [are] in their lips; for who heareth? But thou, Jehovah, wilt laugh at them; thou wilt mock at all the Gentiles. His strength! I will watch for thee, for God is my high place. The God of my mercy will come to meet me; God will make me gaze on mine enemies. Slay them not, lest my people forget; scatter them in thy power and bring them down, O Lord our shield. The sin of their mouth [is] the words of their lips; and they shall be taken in their pride, and for cursing and falsehood they will tell. Consume in wrath, consume [them], and let them be no more; and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob to the end of the earth. Selah. And at the evening let them return, let them howl like the dog, and go around the city. They shall wander for food; if they be not satisfied, then they tarry all night (or murmur). And for me, I will sing of thy strength, and will in the morning shout for joy of thy mercy; for thou hast been a high place to me, and a refuge in the day of trouble to me. O my strength, unto thee will I sing psalms, for God is my high place, the God of my mercy” (verses 1-18).
As it is the Gentiles or heathen who are here before the heart, Jehovah God of hosts, the God of Israel, is also the God of his mercy, his gracious God. To the ends of the earth is anticipated His rule in Jacob. To faith overwhelming danger is the signal for triumph.
Psalm 60
To the chief musician, on Shushan (lily) of testimony, Michtam of David to teach; when he strove with Syria of Mesopotamia and Syria of Zobah, and Joab returned and smote Edom in the valley of salt, twelve thousand. O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast rent us, thou hast been angry; turn again to us. Thou hast made earth (or the land) to tremble, thou hast rent it: heal its breaches, for it shaketh. Thou hast shown thy people hard things, thou hast made us drink the wine of reeling. Thou hast given to those that fear thee a banner to be raised because of the truth. Selah. That thy beloved may be delivered, save [with] thy right hand and answer me (or us). God hath spoken in his holiness: I will exult; I will divide Shechem, and the valley of Succoth will I mete out. Gilead [is] mine, and mine Manasseh, Ephraim the strength of my head, Judah my lawgiver (or scepter?). Moab [is] my washpot; on Edom will I cast my shoe; on me, Philistia, shout aloud. Who will bring me [to] the city of defense? Who hath led me up to Edom? (Is it) not thou, O God, (who) hast cast us off and didst not go forth, O God, with our hosts? Give us help from trouble, for vain [is] man's salvation. Through (lit. in) God we shall do valiantly; and he will tread down our troubles” (ver. 1-14).
In this fine psalm, the fitting close of its series, God's temporary rejection of His people is felt and acknowledged frankly. Yet they cleave to His calling them, and while justifying Him in His displeasure and sore chastening, they see, for those that fear, a banner to be raised for truth which He gave them. Hence their bold challenge even in their lowest state, as well as their identification with the whole elect nation and all the land. The God who restores is the more surely theirs against all their foes and oppressors; and man once leaned on is seen to be but vanity.
Psalm 61
“To the chief musician, on a stringed instrument, of David. Hear, O God, my cry; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth I will call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: to a rock higher than I thou wilt lead me. For thou hast been a refuge unto me, a tower of strength from before the enemy. I will sojourn in thy tent forever, I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows, thou hast given the inheritance of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt add days to the days of the king; his years shall be as many generations (lit. generation and generation). He shall abide [sit] before God forever: mercy and truth afford; let them preserve him. So I will sing psalms to thy name forever that I may pay my vows from day to day” (ver. 1-9).
Here it is the soul more than the people and their enemies. And though the heart is overwhelmed, the cry is to God. From the end of the earth is strange and sad for a Jew, but makes no difference to God, Whose chastening is accepted, and His leading to a Rock higher than himself is counted on. He cannot fail, though His people have. Nor does the Spirit look for a refuge only but “the king,” not as erst to be rejected, but to abide forever. So will the godly praise His name forever, performing vows day by day.
Psalm 62
“To the chief musician, on Jeduthun, a psalm of David. Only on God [is] my soul silent; from him [is] my salvation. Only he [is] my rock and my salvation, my high place; I shall not be greatly moved. How long will ye set upon a man? will ye murder, all of you, one like a wall inclined, a fence thrust down? Truly from his dignity they consult to thrust; they delight in lies; they bless with their mouth, and in their inward part they curse. Selah. Only on God be silent, my soul, for from him [is] my expectation. Truly he [is] my rock and my salvation, my high place; I shall not be moved. On God [rests] my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, my refuge [is] in God. Confide in him at every time, O people; pour out before him your heart: God [is] a refuge for us. Selah. Truly vanity [are] sons of man, a lie are sons of man; in a balance they go up, less than vanity together. Confide not in oppression, and in robbery be not vain; if riches increase, set not your heart [on them]. Once hath God spoken; twice have I heard this, that power [belongeth] to God. And to thee, O Lord, [belongeth] mercy; for thou wilt render to a man according to his work” (ver. 1-13).
Thus, as is well known, this psalm divides into three strophes, each opening with “only” or truly, and the first and second ending with Selah. Throughout God alone is declared worthy of trust. Unworthy objects are exposed in the last, where God is shown emphatically worthy.
There is manifest progress in Psa. 62 as compared with its forerunner. The soul learns to be silent or still, as well as to call on God importunately. It distrusts its own activity, and is assured that God's will alone is good. Only He therefore is looked to; no deliverance from another quarter would satisfy. Mercy, power, and justice are His.
In the psalm that follows the soul rises higher still as we may clearly see.
Psalm 63
A psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, my God (El) [art] thou; early will I seek thee. For thee thirsteth my soul, for thee longeth my flesh, in a land dry and weary without water, so as I have beheld thee in the holy place, to see thy power and thy glory; for thy mercy [is] better than life; my lips shall praise thee. So will I bless thee in my life, in thy name will I lift up my hands. As [with] marrow and fatness thou wilt satisfy my soul; and [with] lips of rejoicings will my mouth praise thee. When I remember thee upon my bed in night watches, I will meditate on thee. For thou hast been a help, and in the shadow of thy wings I will rejoice. My soul cleaveth after thee; thy right hand maintaineth me. And they to ruin are seeking my soul; they shall go into the depths of the earth. They shall be given up to the power of the sword (lit. they shall pour him out into the hands of the sword); a portion of foxes they shall be. And the king shall rejoice in God: every one that sweareth by him shall glory, for the mouth of those that speak falsehood shall be stopped” (ver. 1-12). Higher than this, in its kind, no soul can go, though the covenant blessings cannot be enjoyed far from the city and the sanctuary. But the blessedness of God is enjoyed as never before, the Giver Himself; when the righteous are outside the prostitution of His gifts. Our Lord knew this, as no man ever did. Even deliverance is not sought; and the thirst is not of the desert but of the soul after God, and this too to see His power and His glory where He revealed Himself. A dry and weary land only brings out the more the longing for God fully manifested. It is meanwhile what the apostle calls joying or glorying in God (Rom. 5), and in the close what the Lord desires for us in John 17:24. When the Bride and Lamb's wife is glorified, she rejoices that she has in fact the glory of God (Rev. 21:11), in the hope of which we now exult.

Psalm 59

“To the chief musician, Al-tashheth (destroy not), of David, Michtam, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to put him to death. Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; set me on high from those that rise up against me. Deliver me from doers of iniquity, and save me from men of blood. For, behold, they laid wait for my soul; strong ones assemble against me: not my transgression, not my sin, O Jehovah. Without iniquity they run and set themselves: awake to meet me, and see. And thou, Jehovah, God of hosts, God of Israel, arise to visit all the Gentiles; be gracious to no traitors of iniquity. Selah. Let them return at the evening, let them howl like the dog, and go around the city. Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords [are] in their lips; for who heareth? But thou, Jehovah, wilt laugh at them; thou wilt mock at all the Gentiles. His strength! I will watch for thee, for God is my high place. The God of my mercy will come to meet me; God will make me gaze on mine enemies. Slay them not, lest my people forget; scatter them in thy power and bring them down, O Lord our shield. The sin of their mouth [is] the words of their lips; and they shall be taken in their pride, and for cursing and falsehood they will tell. Consume in wrath, consume [them], and let them be no more; and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob to the end of the earth. Selah. And at the evening let them return, let them howl like the dog, and go around the city. They shall wander for food; if they be not satisfied, then they tarry all night (or murmur). And for me, I will sing of thy strength, and will in the morning shout for joy of thy mercy; for thou hast been a high place to me, and a refuge in the day of trouble to me. O my strength, unto thee will I sing psalms, for God is my high place, the God of my mercy” (verses 1-18).
As it is the Gentiles or heathen who are here before the heart, Jehovah God of hosts, the God of Israel, is also the God of his mercy, his gracious God. To the ends of the earth is anticipated His rule in Jacob. To faith overwhelming danger is the signal for triumph.

Psalm 60

“To the chief musician, on Shushan (lily) of testimony, Michtam of David to teach; when he strove with Syria of Mesopotamia and Syria of Zobah, and Joab returned and smote Edom in the valley of salt, twelve thousand. O God, thou -hast cast us off, thou hast rent us, thou hast been angry; turn again to us. Thou hast made earth (or the land) to tremble, thou hast rent it: heal its breaches, for it shaketh. Thou hast shown thy people hard things, thou hast made us drink the wine of reeling. Thou hast given to those that fear thee a banner to be raised because of the truth. Selah. That thy beloved may be delivered, save [with] thy right hand and answer me (or us). God hath spoken in his holiness: I will exult; I will divide Shechem, and the valley of Succoth will I mete out. Gilead [is] mine, and mine Manasseh, Ephraim the strength of my head, Judah my lawgiver (or scepter?). Moab [is] my washpot; on Edom will I cast my shoe; on me, Philistia, shout aloud. Who will bring me [to] the city of defense? Who hath led me up to Edom? (Is it) not thou, O God, (who) hast cast us off and didst not go forth, O God, with our hosts? Give us help from trouble, for vain [is] man's salvation. Through (lit. in) God we shall do valiantly; and he will tread down our troubles” (ver. 1-14).
In this fine psalm, the fitting close of its series, God's temporary rejection of His people is felt and acknowledged frankly. Yet they cleave to His calling them, and while justifying Him in His displeasure and sore chastening, they see, for those that fear, a banner to be raised for truth which He gave them. Hence their bold challenge even in their lowest state, as well as their identification with the whole elect nation and all the land. The God who restores is the more surely theirs against all their foes and oppressors; and man once leaned on is seen to be but vanity.

Psalm 61

“To the chief musician, on a stringed instrument, of David. Hear, O God, my cry; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth I will call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: to a rock higher than I thou wilt lead me. For thou hast been a refuge unto me, a tower of strength from before the enemy. I will sojourn in thy tent forever, I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows, thou hast given the inheritance of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt add days to the days of the king; his years shall be as many generations (lit. generation and generation). He shall abide [sit] before God forever: mercy and truth afford; let them preserve him. So I will sing psalms to thy name forever that I may pay my vows from day to day” (ver. 1-9).
Here it is the soul more than the people and their enemies. And though the heart is overwhelmed, the cry is to God. From the end of the earth is strange and sad for a Jew, but makes no difference to God, Whose chastening is accepted, and His leading to a Rock higher than himself is counted on. He cannot fail, though His people have. Nor does the Spirit look for a refuge only but “the king,” not as erst to be rejected, but to abide forever. So will the godly praise His name forever, performing vows day by day.

Psalm 62

“To the chief musician, on Jeduthun, a psalm of David. Only on God [is] my soul silent; from him [is] my salvation. Only he [is] my rock and my salvation, my high place; I shall not be greatly moved. How long will ye set upon a man? will ye murder, all of you, one like a wall inclined, a fence thrust down? Truly from his dignity they consult to thrust; they delight in lies; they bless with their mouth, and in their inward part they curse. Selah. Only on God be silent, my soul, for from him [is] my expectation. Truly he [is] my rock and my salvation, my high place; I shall not be moved. On God [rests] my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, my refuge [is] in God. Confide in him at every time, O people; pour out before him your heart: God [is] a refuge for us. Selah. Truly vanity [are] sons of man, a lie are sons of man; in a balance they go up, less than vanity together. Confide not in oppression, and in robbery be not vain; if riches increase, set not your heart [on them]. Once hath God spoken; twice. have I heard this, that power [belongeth] to God. And to thee, O Lord, [belongeth] mercy; for thou wilt render to a man according to his work” (ver. 1-13).
Thus, as is well known, this psalm divides into three strophes, each opening with “only” or truly, and the first and second ending with Selah. Throughout God alone is declared worthy of trust. Unworthy objects are exposed in the last, where God is shown emphatically worthy.
There is manifest progress in Psa. 62 as compared with its forerunner. The soul learns to be silent or still, as well as to call on God importunately. It distrusts its own activity, and is assured that God's will alone is good. Only He therefore is looked to; no deliverance from another quarter would satisfy. Mercy, power, and justice are His.
In the psalm that follows the soul rises higher still as we may clearly see.

Psalm 63

A psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, my God (El) [art] thou; early will I seek thee. For thee thirsteth my soul, for thee longeth my flesh, in a land dry and weary without water, so as I have beheld thee in the holy place, to see thy power and thy glory; for thy mercy [is] better than life; my lips shall praise thee. So will I bless thee in my life, in thy name will I lift up my hands. As [with] marrow and fatness thou wilt satisfy my soul; and [with] lips of rejoicings will my mouth praise thee. When I remember thee upon my bed in night watches, I will meditate on thee. For thou hast been a help, and in the shadow of thy wings I will rejoice. My soul cleaveth after thee; thy right hand maintaineth me. And they to ruin are seeking my soul; they shall go into the depths of the earth. They shall be given up to the power of the sword (lit. they shall pour him out into the hands of the sword); a portion of foxes they shall be. And the king shall rejoice in God: every one that sweareth by him shall glory, for the mouth of those that speak falsehood shall be stopped” (ver. 1-12). Higher than this, in its kind, no soul can go, though the covenant blessings cannot be enjoyed far from the city and the sanctuary. But the blessedness of God is enjoyed as never before, the Giver Himself; when the righteous are outside the prostitution of His gifts. Our Lord knew this, as no man ever did. Even deliverance is not sought; and the thirst is not of the desert but of the soul after God, and this too to see His power and His glory where He revealed Himself. A dry and weary land only brings out the more the longing for God fully manifested. It is meanwhile what the apostle calls joying or glorying in God (Rom. 5), and in the close what the Lord desires for us in John 17:24. When the Bride and Lamb's wife is glorified, she rejoices that she has in fact the glory of God (Rev. 21:11), in the hope of which we now exult.

I That Speak Unto Thee Am He

John 4:26
Now that the conscience of the Samaritan was reached and in exercise before God, the grace of the Savior was not in vain for her heart. She had listened to words that brought home to her unmistakably the love of God, whereof His Son was at once the witness and the fullness. One thing more she needed, which He was waiting to grant, the knowledge of Himself come, the Father's sent One, without which there is no Christianity. He is “all,” as He is “in all” that are His; but He is also for any, as the gospel announces, and the woman here discovers. She felt that the flood of light which the Lord shed on the worship that was at hand, was too much for her apprehension, and accordingly says to Him, “I know that Messiah cometh (which is called Christ): when He is come, He will tell [declare] us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.”
The Lord had declared the Father's name, little as she took it in; He had also confessed and denied not but confessed, that He Himself was the Christ. And we have His word for it, whatever the difficulty and the darkness unbelief pours over all, that this is life eternal, that they may know the Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom He sent. For such knowledge is of the Holy Spirit, and, unlike all other knowledge, is inseparable from life. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God.” Grace had opened her heart, the truth had searched her soul; and the Lord laid hold of the confession she made (however feebly) of a coming Messiah, to declare Himself the satisfying object of trust. It was far from being His highest title; it was not the everlasting glory of His person; it was what He became as man on earth the promised One, and what He, rejected of men, is now also made on high. For His death that seemed to disappoint all hopes was essential if only to efface our guilt, and His resurrection restored (and more) what death took away. Thus He graciously met her, in that recognition of what He truly was, to her unspeakable comfort and rest.
Faith always meets Christ. He is the great divine discovery to the soul. All must meet Him, on the throne one day; but this will be everlasting ruin to such as do not meet Him now. For them it will be judgment. Now it is the grace of God which gives and forgives. The unbeliever refuses Him now and comes into judgment then. To meet Him now by faith is life and salvation, as the Samaritan proved. Thousands saw and heard Him while on earth; but where no faith was, there was no life. It was when the woman believed that she received the blessing. And this blessing is no less offered to all that believe on Him without seeing or hearing. Indeed there is emphatic blessing, as He told Thomas, for those who have not seen and have believed.
The Holy Spirit has recorded the tale for your soul, dear reader, that you too may believe, and be saved if you are not already. To you the word of salvation is sent; for Jesus is still a Savior, not yet a Judge. By and by He will be Judge and not Savior. Never are the two functions mixed. Nor does the believer, as He assures us, come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. His work fails no more than His person; and he that believes has eternal life. The unbeliever will hear Him pronounce all, but too late. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6).” “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven” (Heb. 12). He is the truth: rely on Him.
The unworthiness of the Samaritan up to that very day did not hinder His grace nor her blessing. Why should you doubt His willingness to receive and help you just as you are? For the blessing depends entirely on Him and His sacrifice. To receive it through Him, confessing your guilt and need, is to submit to the righteousness of God; to prefer your own efforts and sacrifices is going about to establish your own righteousness, as the unbelieving Jews did. Those who are indifferent to their sins, God's warning, and Christ's salvation, defy judgment and despise mercy. Alas! they assuredly must meet the due reward of their deeds and unbelief. For God is not mocked; and those that sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.
Hear then His words in faith. He pleads with your soul. “I that speak unto thee am He.” And He is the same, yesterday, and today, and forever. Doubt yourself; for indeed you have the gravest reason. Believe foulest sinner and His worst enemy, if they repent and believe the gospel. His was all the worth, His all the suffering, His all the grace. Give Him then all the glory, as He willingly gives you all the blessing. This is God's truth, God's love, and God's way. It is His gospel, His glad tidings, sent that you, may believe. He does not begrudge you life and salvation in Christ; He delights in blessing; and this too, most rich and needed blessing.
But He warns too. “If the word spoken by angels (i.e. the law) was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” Thus judgment at the close vindicates the God Whose saving love in His Son is set at naught. The sanction is as solemn, as the blessing is full and plain, immediate and everlasting.
The message meanwhile bespeaks God for its author; He is the God of all grace. But it is grace reigning through righteousness, for Christ suffered for sins, Just for unjust. Not otherwise could the defiled and guilty be brought to God. Our ransom is not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with Christ's precious blood as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. And faith honors both Christ and the God Who gave Him, as unbelief adds rebellion and contempt of God to our other sins which are many and deep. No doubt you deserve nothing from God but judgment, which, without faith in Christ, is perdition. But Christ deserves, and has secured by His work, that every believer should be saved. If this does not gratify man's pride, it suits God's love and glory, in which the believer finds his everlasting blessedness.

Seeing Christ Glorified

How powerful is the effect! It absorbs the heart. “I have suffered the loss of all things,” said the apostle, “and I do count them but dung.” It is not only that we have given them up, but their power is gone: the actual trials on the path become a matter of joy. They are the fellowship of His sufferings and conformity to His death. It gives unity of action and perseverance. It gives a heavenly character to the path, the calling being above, no less than confidence and joy in reference to God. It is His calling, and in the most blessed way, in Christ Jesus. Christ Himself is the object; but this is united on us as on Him — “resurrection from among the dead.” For this too divine righteousness in Christ Himself can only be fit or suffice. J.N.D.

The Lord's Testimony to the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch: 2

In the previous paper it was pointed out that our Lord not only frequently referred to the Pentateuch as the law of Moses, but that He unequivocally stated its writer to have been Moses (John 5:46, Mark 10:5). And surely with all simple and godly souls the word of the Lord is sufficient, but it is avowedly not so with the critics. They, forsooth, have their own opinions to maintain, and accordingly endeavor to evade the direct force of this evidence by expedients, the character of which more than strongly hints at the desperateness of their position. Their principal theories are two, and have been not inaptly described as (1) the adaptation theory, and (2) the self-limitation theory. The first of these involves an attack upon our Lord's moral character and the second upon His Person. And from this their ultimate origin is sufficiently indicated.
The “adaptation” theory, as the term suggests, asserts that our blessed Lord adapted Himself to the mistaken beliefs of those among whom He lived. It states that the Jews wrongly ascribed the Pentateuch to Moses, and that the Lord gave His verbal assent to the notion though He knew it to be false. Now, in order to show that this representation of the theory is not unjust, the following quotations are made. Referring to the words “He (Moses) wrote of Me” (John 5:46), it is said “We may regard them as an address ad hominem, as an incidental and temporary adoption of the conceptions and language of those to whom He was speaking, in relation to a subject foreign to His immediate purpose. We may understand Him as if He had said: Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for the books which, as you suppose, Moses wrote, concern Me. “He accepted, as the basis of His teaching, the opinions respecting the Old Testament current around Him; He assumed, in His allusions to it, the premises which His opponents recognized “ “It is not derogatory to our Lord's Divinity to maintain that it was necessary for Him to argue with the Jews from their standpoint without necessarily endorsing the truth of the popular opinion “ The sentiments herein expressed are by no means obscure or difficult of apprehension. The assumption common to all is, as has already been observed, that the ordinary belief of the Jews of that day in the Mosaic authorship of the first five books was quite erroneous; and further that the Lord accepted this, together with other current opinions, as the basis of His teaching.
Such a hypothesis is most serious to all who desire to he loyal to Christ; since its acceptance unquestionably casts no small slight on the moral character of our adorable Redeemer. For the Lord, in some cases, made the entire force of His argument to rest upon the fact that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. To refer again to but one instance; in John 5:45-47 the point of our Lord's remarks is that Moses witnessed to Him. He is not alluding to the scriptures as such, for this He had already done (ver. 39). But here He takes up the great lawgiver himself as a personal witness. Moses would be their accuser, and that because they believed neither him nor Christ. Truly, if they believed not the writings of him who wrote of Messiah, how should they believe the words of Messiah? Thus Moses and Christ, Moses' writings and Christ's words, are so antithetically placed that to all unbiased minds there can be no manner of doubt that our Lord meant His hearers to understand that Moses himself had testified to Him in his writings. Now, supposing it be true, as the advocates of the theory in question allege, that the Jews were all wrong in thinking that Moses wrote the law, then we are at once forced to the abominable conclusion that our Lord (may He forgive even such a thought!) declared to them that Moses, their great leader, wrote of Him, when, at the same time, He was perfectly aware Moses did nothing of the kind. So that He, herein, resorted to mere artifice and unworthy cunning in order to win the ear of His opponents. He thus exaggerated before them the value of the testimony borne to Him and sought to take advantage of their ignorance to advance His claims. In short, if the “adaptation” theory be true, Christ is found guilty of duplicity! Where can be the reverence, not to say love, of those who brave such an issue as this? Once more the Lord is wounded in the house of His friends. Will they never cease their unholy handling of the Word of life and truth? Is it either, wise or good to seek to degrade our Lord to the level of a mere rhetorical trickster, in order to sustain what is, after all, no more than supposition? On whom then can we rely, if not on Him, Who was the Truth? And the Lord was not only the fullness of truth in His Person, but His words were the expression of Himself. As He Himself said to those who asked Him “Who art thou?” “τὴν ἀρχὴν ὄτι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν” “Absolutely that which I also am speaking to you “ (John 8:25). This is a direct reply to those who charge Him with equivocation. He was, what none ever were before or since, in exact correspondence with what His words expressed. So that all notions of “adaptation,” save that He became a man amongst men, sin excepted, amount to ignoble calumnies against His holy and blessed Person. It is incredulity.
But this theory will not bear the light of facts on record. The allegation that Christ accepted the opinions current around Him is entirely visionary and altogether opposed to the words of the evangelists. On the contrary, from the commencement to the close of His ministry, He invariably upheld the sanctity and divine authority of the law as originally given, and condemned the human fancies and speculations with regard to it which were prevalent around Him. Did He, for example, accept “the current opinions” of the rabbis as to what was or what was not permissible on the Sabbath day? Was it wise accommodation to popular views when He drove out the traders from the temple courts at the beginning as well as the end of His public life? Was it a measure of conciliation to charge the teachers of the law with “laying aside the commandment of God” whilst “holding the tradition of the elders”? (Mark 7:5-8) Do we find that in order to gain general favor He spared either the hypocritical punctiliousness of the Pharisees or the proud skepticism of the Sadducees? On the contrary, it is made manifest throughout the Gospels, that, wherever the Truth went, error was necessarily exposed. And as such was His general practice, it remains for the critics to explain why there was this exception, if indeed there is an exception, as they groundlessly imagine. Had the belief that Moses wrote the law been a blunder, it would not have been attested but would have been condemned, like their broad phylacteries and their divers washings.
But the theorists further assume, without warrant, that the “law of Moses” was the only name under which the Pentateuch would have been recognized; so that the Lord was obliged to speak thus in order to be understood. “Jesus must have alluded to the books of the Old Testament by their recognized names, just as men will always speak of the poetry of Homer, even if the composite origin of the Iliad and the Odyssey comes to be universally recognized." “Unless He had violated the whole principle of the Incarnation by anticipating the slow development of natural knowledge, He must have spoken of the ‘Deuteronomist’ as ‘Moses’ (John 5:46, 47) as naturally as He spoke of the sun rising.'" Now, it is not necessary to refer again to the applicability of the allusion in this passage to the “man Moses,” and not to a fictitious “Deuteronomist.” But it is quite an error for Mr. G. to assume that He must have spoken in this way, as if no other term were intelligible. A very slight examination of the Gospels would have revealed that the single word “law” was well understood by the Jews to refer to the first five books, and not merely to the decalogne. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets” (Matt. 5:17). “Have ye not read in the law etc..” (Matt. 12:5). “This people who knoweth not the law are cursed” (John 7:49). If the addition of “Moses” was not necessary in these and other instances, neither was it at all necessary for purposes of distinctness. So that, if our Lord merely wished to avoid anticipating “the results of scientific inquiry or historical criticism," He might, when referring to the Pentateuch, have uniformly made use of the word “law,” and thereby left the question of authorship unaffected by His words, and escaped the condemnation of the critics. Neither would He, by this means, have been impaled on the other horn of Mr. G.'s dilemma; for silence on the point in question could not “have violated the whole principle of the Incarnation by anticipating the slow development of natural knowledge.” Therefore the simple truth can only be that Moses wrote the law, and the Lord confirmed the belief in the same by His authority, using such words as could leave no other impression on the minds of those who heard Him.
Another statement in connection with this theory should be pointed out because of its misleading character. Professor D. says “There is no record of the question, whether a particular portion of the Old Testament was written by Moses or David or Isaiah having been ever submitted to Him; and had it been so submitted, we have no means of knowing what His answer would have been." Now this is really throwing dust in people's eyes. There is good reason why no such question as “Is it true that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?” was brought to our Lord; for not even the skeptical Sadducees doubted it in that day (Mark 7, Luke 20). But though no such question was asked, the fact is affirmed under such circumstances that the testimony thereto is nonetheless certain. For instance, when the Pharisees came to the Lord with a question concerning divorce, they referred to Deuteronomy and said “Why did Moses command so-and-so?” Here was an opportunity for the Lord to have shown, if such were the case, that this permission was granted not by Moses but by the “Deuteronomist” who lived many centuries after him. However, instead of saying the “Deuteronomist because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives,” He said, confirming their own words, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts etc.” (Matt. 19:7, 8). So that, in this instance, a particular portion of the O.T. is submitted to the Lord as written by Moses; and those who have no theories to maintain, like Professor D., will surely agree that our Lord gave a verbal assent to it.
Even the advocates of these notions themselves appear to feel the insufficiency of the “adaptation” theory, and accordingly the “self-limitation” theory is also advanced. The real effect however is not the mutual support and consolidation of the theories but their mutual destruction. As the false witnesses against the Lord before the high priest were valueless because their witness agreed not together, so the critics, in their eager desire to silence the Lord's testimony against them, have overreached themselves and destroyed one another. The “adaptation” theory declares our Lord was aware that Moses was not the author of the first five books, but that He said so in deference to the teaching of that age; while the “self-limitation” theory declares that our Lord was ignorant of the true author of the Pentateuch, being restricted in His knowledge to the current opinions of the day. Thus one says He did, the other He did not know. But it is impossible for both assertions to be right, though very possible for both to be wrong.
The following quotations give the terms of the latter theory in the writer's own words. “Now when He speaks of the sun rising He is using ordinary human knowledge. He willed so to restrain the beams of Deity as to observe the limits of the science of His age, and He puts himself in the same relation to his historical knowledge." “He never exhibits the omniscience of bare Godhead in the realm of natural knowledge; such as would be required to anticipate the results of modern science or criticism.” “Indeed God ‘declares His almighty power most chiefly’ in this condescension, whereby He ‘beggared Himself' of divine prerogatives to put Himself in our place.” “Why should it be thought that He would speak with certain divine knowledge on this matter (i.e. the authorship of the Pentateuch) more than upon other matters of ordinary science or history?
The first thought that strikes one in reading these brief extracts is the utter want of reverence displayed for the Holy Person of Whom they speak. The very attempt to limit the knowledge of “God manifest in the flesh” is, to say the very least, audacious in the extreme. And when He is thus reduced to the level of a poor ignorant Jew for the sole purpose of proving the vast superiority of nineteenth century wisdom, it is high time for such wolves to he stripped of their sheep's clothing that the flock may be warned. What more flagrant dishonor than to take advantage of His humiliation to seek to prove that His manhood was not even perfect, but could be imposed upon by the blunders of the “uncritical age” in which He lived? Have they forgotten the solemn words of the angel to Mary “That Holy Thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” Luke 1:35? Will not the remembrance of His Deity (for in spite of His lowliness He was never less than God) stay them from laying lawless and defiling hands upon His Humanity? But the fact is the intellectual pride of men will not brook the thought that even the inscrutable mystery of the Incarnation is beyond their ken. Defying the Divine utterance, “No man knoweth (ἐπιγινώσκει) the Son but the Father,” Matt. 11:27, they “rush in where angels fear to tread,” proving their own folly and worse. Let them remember Kirjath-jearim. Surely this, above all subjects the most holy, demands reverence, not curiosity, faith, not speculation. Yet it is asked “why should we permit in theology what we ruthlessly exclude from every other region of science” Therefore it is sought to enlighten theology “the most difficult of all sciences” (sic) by instituting an “honest inquiry” into our Lord's knowledge as a. man. Is it any wonder that theories such as these under examination, are promulgated, when our Lord, instead of being revered as the Truth, is treated and discussed in the same manner as a fossil, a zoological specimen, or a cuneiform inscription? It really means that faith is thrown to the winds, and man's mind and will made the judge of all.
(To be continued.)

Hebrews 7:20-22

Another proof of superiority for the priesthood of Christ over Aaron's is found in the oath which Jehovah is declared to have sworn in the former case, as attested in the same fruitful verse of Psa. 110. We have already had this argument drawn from His dealings with Abraham after he was tried and found faithful as to the sacrifice of Isaac (Heb. 6). It was God's appreciation of the faith that surrendered the dearest object, and in the most painfully trying way, to Himself trusted absolutely. And the divine oath was added to the word of promise, that, by two unchangeable things in which it was impossible that God should lie, we might have a strong encouragement who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. Here it is yet more solemn as His appreciation of Christ's priesthood which is final and forever, as being perfectly satisfying to His nature, love, and glory, in His Son as well as the Man Who had alone glorified Him even as to sin, competent alike as God and man in one person and in all His work.
“And inasmuch as [it was] not without swearing of an oath (for they have been made priests without swearing of an oath, but he with swearing of an oath by him that saith unto him, Jehovah swore and will not change his mind, Thou [art] priest forever), by so much also hath Jesus become surety of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:20-22).
Thus did God mark the incomparable honor of Messiah's priesthood; as the Aaronic was transitory, His forever. How strange at first sight that a Jew should overlook what was so distinctly involved in this solemnity on Jehovah's part in that dignity peculiar to his own Messiah! But it ceases to be strange, if one reflect on their habitual history, not as they flatter themselves in modern times but as God has recorded it imperishably in His living oracles, where we see them ever stiffnecked and rebellious, ever forsaking their most needed mercies and their brightest glory. All this would be inexplicable if one did not remember the wily adversary, the old serpent, who has wrought with not less ruinous success in Christendom now than in Judaism of old. Nor will that sad history close for either, till He appears in His glory for the judgment of both.
But no mark of God's estimation of Christ's priesthood above the Levitical is simpler or surer than swearing as He did when inaugurating Messiah in that position. The deduction is equally irrefragable: “by so much also hath Jesus become surety of a better covenant.” If He took aught in hand, if He became responsible, heaven and earth must sooner pass than His word or His work. The Second Man stands forever. And “blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” The old covenant cannot but be death and condemnation to the sinner. The new covenant rests on His blood shed for the remission of the believer's sins, and is truly a better covenant; as the Jew will one day be the loudest to proclaim, whatever may be his obstinacy now, proud of what has ruined him and his fathers blind for ages.
“Testament” is here quite out of place; for what has a giver of security to do with making a will? Heb. 9:16-17, is the sole passage of scripture which requires or even admits of such a sense, which is there due to “eternal inheritance” in the verse immediately preceding. The word in itself is capable of either sense, meaning in human relations a disposition, especially of property by will, and in divine things a covenant, which naturally predominates in the Septuagint and the N. T. The context decides with certainty. Thus, in Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, remission of sins is expressly bound up with the “new covenant,” not testament, as in Jer. 31:31-34. Even the Vulgate has here “novum foedus,” not testamentum, which ought to have sufficed to have kept Jerome right in the Gospels. And what has “blood” to do with a “will"? That it should be the basis of a covenant is a familiar truth. A will or testament is unknown to the O. T. Not less clearly is it the God of Israel's “holy covenant,” as it is rightly rendered in Luke 1:72: testament can have no relation to the oath sworn to Abraham; though the Vulgate gives that word followed by Wiclif and the Rhemish translators, as it misled all the English in the three texts first referred to in the Synoptic Gospels. Acts 3:25; 7:8, are equally plain for “covenant;” and there all the English versions are correct, save Wiclif and the Rhemists, servile as usual to the Vulgate. But they were all inexcusable, particularly as to Acts 7:8, which directly alludes to Gen. 17, where the Vulgate has uniformly “pactum,” never once “testamentum.”
The Epistles are just as unambiguous. Thus in Rom. 9:4, “the covenants” (cf. Gal. 4 and Eph. 2:12) can be the only right sense, referring to Jer. 31:31 for the new, and to Ex. 24:8 for the first or old. Here the Vulgate follows the erroneous singular, as in B D E F G etc., against the true text in A and the mass of uncial and cursive copies &c., (save that A and L omit so as to be out of court), and all critics except Lachmann, who, great a scholar as he was, can never be reckoned on for a spiritual judgment. The English are right, save Wiclif and the Rhemists and the margin of the A. V. In Rom. 11:27 the meaning is beyond doubt “covenant,” as in the English with the same exceptions; where the error of the Vulgate is the more flagrant, because in Isa. 59:21, it gives “foedus” rightly yet mistranslates as usual in the N. T. citation. 1 Cor. 11:25 falls under the remarks on the Lord's Supper in the Gospels as already seen. 2 Cor. 3:6-14 can only mean “a new covenant” and “the old covenant,” the reference being indisputable; yet here the influence of the Vulgate misled all the English discreditably. Even Beza had corrected himself; for while wrong in his edd. of 1559, 1565, and 1582, he abandons “test.” and substitutes “pactum” in his last two editions of 1588 and 1598, though without a reason given in his notes. The connection of Gal. 3:15 is conclusive for the more general “covenant” even though human only, rather than the narrower “testament,” which is here more excusable in the Vulgate, Wiclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, and the version of Rheims, while the Geneva rendering of 1557 led the A. V. to “covenant,” with “testament” in the margin. This is confirmed by ver. 17 where a last “will” or “testament” cannot rightly be understood, though here again we have the same parties similarly ranged. In Heb. 4:24 the A. V. alone of English is correct, with the marginal alternative for which there was no good reason. In Eph. 2:12 The Geneva V. was the forerunner of the A. V., Beza being right all through. This brings us, according to the usual arrangement, to our Epistle, and to this the first mention of the word, where “covenant” has been shown to be right. In Heb. 8:6, 8-9 (twice), and 10 it is unmistakably and uniformly “covenant;” for what has a “mediator” to do with a testament? Other proofs are so obvious as to need no further pointing out. So in Heb. 9:4, the ark was of the “covenant,” with which a will or testament had no congruity: and with the “tables” too in the same verse. It has been remarked also that “a mediator” goes with “a covenant,” not a testament (ver. 15), and the bearing of the “first covenant” is determined by O. T. reference. “Testament” it cannot be. But the inspiring Spirit, in the parenthesis of vers. 16, 17, avails Himself of the signification so familiar to all who spoke or read Greek, in order to impress the place that death has for introducing and giving effect to the blessing of the Christian. A covenant does not imply in any case the death of the covenanter to give it validity; a testament invariably supposes the testator's death to bring it into operation. All learning or argument to set aside testament and testator here is but beating the air. Equally vain is it to establish testament in ver. 15, or in 18 and 20, where “covenant” alone suits, alone is warranted by the O. T. God enjoined a covenant, not a testament, and that by blood. The same proof applies no less stringently to Heb. 10:16-29, Heb. 12:24, and Heb. 13:20; as also to Rev. 11:19. Now these are all the occurrences in the N. T.; and the sum is that “testament” is out of place everywhere save in Heb. 9:16-17, where alone special contextual bearing gives occasion to that sense; whereas the universal O.T. force prevails in every other. The question is here gone into fully, that no reader may allow the unbelieving notion of the least uncertainty hanging over the usage. It is in vain and even injurious to parade a crowd of the learned men opposed to another crowd not less learned, save to prove that our faith ought in no case to rest on man but on God's Word and Spirit. Thus regarded, the uncertainty of men confirms the believer in the value of the provisions of God's grace.

Scripture Imagery: 91. The Two Goats

One of the incidental proofs of the inspiration of the Scriptures is the way in which the precepts and commands are intermingled with the principles and historical circumstances whence they originally sprang. In that way not only is avoided the monotony, which is the bane of classified theology, but the ethical lessons are conveyed gradually and are impressed mnemonically by the context; whilst the precept throws light on the principle and the principle on the precept, the book interpreting and illustrating itself; as Giuliani used to say that Dante was his own interpreter, “Dante spiegato con Dante.” If the Bible had been constructed by professional theologians, it would have had a methodical arrangement like their own writings, no doubt,—doctrines here, history there, precepts somewhere else—all neat, symmetrical, and useful as a kitchen garden. Whereas it has been arranged more in the way in which God makes a continent, with a gigantic appearance of disorder which becomes more and more orderly and magnificent as we view it from higher and more comprehensive standpoints. Moreover, it is more difficult to avoid meeting the precepts when they are everywhere interspersed with the text.
After dealing in Leviticus with the subject of the leper, where human nature is shown in its most repulsive forms, we find some chapters of precepts which show by implication what horrible things it is capable of doing, and these are immediately connected with the atonement in the important and well known sixteenth chapter. They were very real sinners, these Israelites, these men for whom the atonement was provided. But, thank God, the atonement provided is very real too. And that is the difference between a divine gospel and a human religion. The human inventions are so grotesquely inadequate, inconsistent, and inconsequent, that they are seldom or never meant to be taken seriously. The reply of the ancient oracle (which fairly represents popular religion in all ages) is that men “To the pure precincts of Apollo's portal” must “come pure in heart, and touch the lustral wave.” There is no hope for the real sinner, but for the fictitious “pure in heart” it says, “One drop sufficeth for the sinless mortal; All else e'en ocean's billows cannot lave! “Now if a man be pure, he does not require cleansing at all; whereas those who really require and desire cleansing are informed that there is no power that can accomplish it. Men do not practice such preposterous foolishness in any other matters; no one ever saw a doctor professing that one drop of his medicine was sufficient for those who were perfectly well, and that not all the medicine he possessed could save any sick person. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” The fountain which God opens is “a fountain for sin and for uncleanness.”
Thus as these chapters which recount such a fearful catalog of sins are connected with the Great Day of Atonement, so does the sense of sin at all times—in some form and degree—lead to the apprehension of the atoning work of Christ. And it is the weakening of this sense of sin that in recent times has been undermining the doctrine of atonement and other foundational doctrines of Christianity. A recent writer in the Revue des Deux Mondes says, “With us the notion of sin has long been abolished. Adultery is the contravention of a certain article of the Code—the violation of a contract signed in the presence of such and such lawyers.” Though I refuse to believe that such words are true of the bulk of the French people, yet unquestionably they are true of a very large number in that and all other nations professedly religious.
There are a great many who fancy they can see quite well; but when their eyes are tested, it is found that they are very defective: that they are myopic or, it may be, suffer from “Daltonism” —they are incapable of distinguishing certain colors, most frequently red. These people are astounded when told of the defect and find that others can see what they cannot. There is often the same kind of defect in the spiritual sight, and frequently those who assume to guide are unwittingly stone blind to the most important things which exist, and exist terribly, without their knowledge. These blind guides are more dangerous than the engine drivers who cannot distinguish the red lights on the railway that we hear of sometimes, for those lead only our bodies to destruction. One of the most fatal infatuations is for me to suppose that a danger does not exist because I do not see it, as one of the most stupid is to think that a phenomenon cannot exist because I do not understand it.
But the “advanced” theologians will find it more difficult to remove the atonement from the hearts of the people than probably they think. They have not yet quite succeeded in removing it even from the creeds. Heidelberg and Brooklyn must have been somewhat surprised lately when at the burial of that strong man of God who repudiated their “modern criticism,” the multitude burst with a great emotion into singing, “Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood Shall never lose its power”
The great Day of Atonement was ushered in with the most solemn, awful, and imposing ordinances. When modern criticism says that atonement by blood is shocking and terrible, it says what is true. It is meant to be shocking and terrible, for sin is shocking and terrible. The especial feature is the taking of the Two Goats, which give the two great aspects of the death of Christ. The first goat is the LORD'S lot: it is slain in order that His justice may be vindicated in respect of the presence of sin in the world, (apart altogether from the question of the forgiveness of sins). On the head of the second goat all the sins of His people are charged and it is sent into the wilderness bearing their offenses forever away from them to a land not inhabited—where there is no one to know them or charge them upon us. The first aspect—where God has the first and highest claim on the atonement—is perhaps little considered by us. In this sense Christ “tasted death for every man.” The blood was sprinkled once on the mercy seat, for one testimony is sufficient towards God, but it is sprinkled seven times before the throne out towards men, for the testimony must be repeated over and over again to man in order to be effectual. Goats are taken, because whilst they are really clean, yet they are put in the place of being unclean and regarded as symbols of impurity — God sent His Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” yet was He “holy, harmless, and undefiled.”

Figurative Language of the Bible

It is not pleasant but a duty to question and even condemn a few of the author's positions. There is always a danger of exaggeration when a point is made of style (and indeed of other things less weighty), and an unconscious effort to justify a new work by multiplying technical manner and distinctions. It is true that Mr. N. spares his readers J. Holmes' 252 figures! and Mr. G. W. Harvey's systematic discussion, giving them a quantity of chatty remarks. But it is too much to say that no branch of Bible study is more important, and none so utterly neglected. Figures belong to rhetoric for the most part rather than to grammar, but far more generally common sense; for Christians a spiritual mind is the best guide. The general outline is set out in any ordinarily full grammar. For scripture, Glassius' Phil. Sacra is well known, whence Keach drew largely for English readers; also W. Jones, J. Brown, T. Home, and others. Dr. Alex. Carson in our day wrote still more ably and with less prolixity; as also Drs. T. Leland, Blair, Campbell, Lord Kames, and many more since Quintilian.
No doubt the author meant a short, cheap popular treatment. But he greatly over-estimates the value of knowing eastern habits. The true wonder of the Bible is its superiority to age, clime, or race in the main; and there is a real danger, especially in our day, of losing the kernel in excessive attention to the husk of local and temporal surroundings, and the like. Even we, English, talk figures incalculably more than most perceive; and though it might furnish matter for ingenious lectures and interesting papers to analyze this character of every day intercourse, it would be little better than pastime and might readily turn away the mind from the really important. Origen was a greater scholar than any man who ever wrote on figures of speech, and could scientifically explain the simile, metaphor, and every other figure beyond most; yet he fell a victim to a glaring misconception of our Lord's words in Matt. 19:12, and wasted a life of study in windy allegories. It was assuredly no lack of learning that exposed him so greatly to misapply the third case, nor lack of zeal to act at all cost on the supposed meaning.
Now the temptation to which Mr. N. has yielded is not anything corporeal as befell the Alexandrian divine, but divorcing scripture from its spirit. He must be singularly preoccupied to set the ascension of Christ to heaven, and His having a risen body, against the reality of His presence in the midst of those gathered to His name The presence of the Holy Spirit sent here below is an absolute truth; that of Christ, whatever the mode which we pretend not to define, is contingent on gathering to His name collectively, and on obedience individually (Matt. 18, John 14). To confound truths so distinct is to lose one of them, perhaps both.
So his treatment of Hendiadys is precarious. “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory” is an ecclesiastical gloss, and not scripture. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” he emasculates into “the true and living way.” Nor does Peter mean apostolic ministry in Acts 1:25, but service generally and apostleship in particular; hence he speaks of himself as an “elder” as well as “apostle.” So Paul's “hope and resurrection” is curtailed into “the hope of the resurrection,” though it signifies far more. Nor does “kingdom and glory” import “glorious kingdom,” any more than “life and incorruptibility” “incorruptible life.” And “a kingdom and priests,” is debased to “a great priestly kingdom,” which is refuted by Rev. 1:5; 20:6. Still more serious is the misapplication of John 3:5; 4:24.
But passing over lesser matters, John 3:13 is an instance of the daring to which the hobby exposes the author. It is of the essence of the truth of Christ's person that “ὁ ῶν here as in John 1:18 means “who is,” not “who was;” and so the Revised no less than the Authorized Version. So even Winer and other Germans, poor as they are, and all men taught of God. It is true that the present participle, combined with a past tense or qualified by an adverb of time, may have an imperfect force, as in i. 29, v.13, &c. But here nothing enters to weaken its simple, special, and emphatic force. The words are only difficult to unbelief. The late Dean Alford was bold enough in free thought; yet he expressly affirms that in both texts the present participle is used to signify essential truth without any particular regard to time. The figurative truth here as elsewhere; and here it is fundamental. A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing. To read this “Who was” may be natural perhaps, but is certainly neither spiritual nor accurate, but downright, though of course ignorant, perversion from an inveterate hunt after figurative language.
Just before, the beautiful truth of Luke 2:14 is lost through similar vagueness. It is not “toward man, goodwill,” but “goodwill (or rather good pleasure) in men,” as evinced by the incarnation of the Son of God. It would appear that it is borrowed from the American Mac Beth, who published not many years ago a treatise on Figurative Language. But this should have given the author time to weigh. Again, what can be feebler or more nugatory than the remarks on Acts 15, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us”? How does it help the reader's better understanding to remark that “the words doubtless are a strong form of the figure of Omission” etc..? I should have thought that no reverent mind could have lowered it to “us [as a church and people acting under His influence and teaching to whom He has revealed it],” but must recall the sense they had of the Spirit's action, as well as the weight of the apostles present, however they might associate not only the elders but the assembly with the decision to which the words, of the prophets had given an inspired basis.
The rest of the work calls for no notice in particular, save the illusion of counting what is really trivial and often erroneous to be a “vast and important subject.” No intelligent reader will be surprised to see misapprehension of prophecy here, and so inadequate a notion as “a princely people!” in Dan. 9:26, in the Romans, as almost all admit. He is just as far from the truth as the writer who makes “a coming prince” to be Antichrist. It is really the chief of the Roman empire in its last form (not the willful king, the Antichrist that reigns in Jerusalem over the land, Dan. 11:36-39), who confirms covenant for a week, or seven years, with the many or mass of apostate Jews. These are the personages symbolically presented in Rev. 13 as the two beasts rising out of the sea and out of the earth, the beast and the false prophet of Rev. 19. The close of Dan. 11 shows us the king of the north, the Assyrian of many prophets, whose course is antagonistic to both the Latin Beast and the Jewish Antichrist; but he too, as we see in Dan. 11:40-45, shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:18-20

Here again it is manifest that we have not a second account of creation, but first of all the declared purpose of a moral relationship between husband and wife given through the same inspired writer, every difference of thought and word being strictly required by the divine design in each case. Here therefore the words “male and female,” so appropriate to their creation by Elohim, are out of place where the deeper question of such a relationship comes before us; and Jehovah Elohim expresses His judgment on that which is the chief bond of human society here below. It is accordingly “a help as before him,” his like or counterpart, that is now spoken of, not in Gen. 1 where the race are regarded simply as creatures of God, though constituted chief of all on earth. Each part of the communication is perfect for the varying design of divine revelation, both in entire harmony, the blessed instruction of all which is lost when men sink into the unbelieving superficial hypothesis of documents from different hands, whereby God, the real author who employed Moses, is excluded. No wonder that by such a process the light is quenched in darkness, and that the men who cheat others of the truth (themselves cheated by a subtler rebel against God) boast of their criticism, which sees only men in the case and, according to most, men dovetailing incoherent statements without perceiving it. It is never of such to glory in the Lord, but to rejoice in the works of their own hands. For “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.”
“And Jehovah Elohim said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone: I will make him a help answering to him. And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim had formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the heavens, and brought them to the man, to see what he would call them; and all that the man called a living creature (soul), that was its name. And the man gave (called) names to all the cattle, and to bird of the heavens, and to every animal of the field; but for Adam was not found a help answering to him” (ver. 18-20).
Even when perpetuation of the race was in view as in chap. i., we saw the marked distinction of Man. There was a single pair, and whatever the varieties to be in different parts of the earth, not a hint of “after his kind” as in the merely animal population of land, sea, or air. Man exclusively was made from the beginning in Elohim's image, after Elohim's likeness, with dominion given over fish of the sea, and over bird of the heavens, and over living thing that moveth upon the earth. But here in chap. ii. Jehovah Elohim, alike moral Governor and Creator, enters with gracious consideration into the daily life and comfort of man on earth, not only has a perfectly kind and wise mind about his well-being but expresses it that it be known as His, and this not by an imperative word as in ver. 16,17, but as the benevolent judgment of Him who absolutely knew all and abounded in favor to Man. “And Jehovah Elohim said, It is not good that the man should he alone.” Interchange of affection and interest is good for Man. No wonder that solitude is in general a most severe punishment short of death. Here no doubt intimacy of the nearest companionship is meant, and this as the revealed object of divine counsel. Indeed it is distinctive of the Jehovah Elohim section as a whole to develop, not mere creation, but creation, Man above all, in special relationships as He was pleased to order all; and hence the garden and the trees, &c., could suitably be here only. Difference of authorship or document has nothing to do with the matter, and is the shallowest resource possible, as it explains nothing. Difference—of design—is all the more strikingly instructive because the same writer gives both consecutively.
The lack of a fitting help for Man, as his counter part, is shown and accentuated in what follows. “And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim had formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man, to see what he would call them; and all that the Man called a living creature, that was its name.” This is the more noticeable, because it beautifully confirms in the style and associations of the new section what had been said in the foregoing one of the Adamic dominion over the inferior creation (chap. 1:26-28). Here their subject relationship to Man appears by their being brought to him by Jehovah Elohim to see what he would call them. Man's government is not only asserted but exercised in the most precise way. It is not their rank in the scale of creation which is laid down, but their place relatively to Adam formally acknowledged. They are therefore brought by the Supreme to Man who gives names to beast and bird, as their appointed lord. Divine authority in the regulation of all is as manifest here in its moral beauty, as the majesty of creation cannot be hid in the previous chapter. Who was sufficient for these things? God alone Who inspired Moses to write both. Nobody pretends that Adam wrote these particulars as to himself and the subject creation, the garden, and all. And what could Adam of himself have told of the creation before he was made? The divine inspiration of it as it stands accounts for all as nothing else can. God assuredly knew and could give the truth with precision through Moses; and for this we have the highest authority, even the Lord Christ's.
“And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to bird of the heavens, and to every animal of the field.” Giving names is a right of sovereignty universally recognized in scripture, as may be seen not only in the book of Genesis but throughout the Bible, even when Gentiles were allotted the upper hand. Indeed, it is inherent in man and exercised to this day over all things or persons subject to him. But the most weighty application of the title, and full of interest, lay in unfallen man fresh from his Creator's hand, Who, Himself Sovereign Ruler, had pleasure in the rule of His earthly representative. Man naturally is not a mere creature, but, apart from the yet higher relationships of saving grace was originally son of God, His offspring, deriving the breath of life from Jehovah Elohim's immediate inbreathing. Thus did not any other on earth become a living soul, and therefore shared in no such relationship with Him. They are irrational, naturally made for capture.
Otherwise Man is regarded as but a brute of greater inward capacity, or, as some dare to think and say without authority and in the face of all truth, a development from any or all. But this is not science nor even its province, which is not to imagine or discuss origins, but to interpret accurately the general laws deducible from phenomena. Evolution is but scientific mythology in contempt of scripture; and the worst class in that school consists of those who are audacious enough to reduce the written word of God to an analogous growth from human elements. The sole field or groundwork of science is the fixed order everywhere observable in the created universe; but of creation, of the production of what exists, true science avowedly and necessarily knows nothing, only of existing natural order, and consequently should be wholly silent where its ignorance is blank. Faith alone understands it on the warrant of God's word, which is infinitely simpler and surer to every individual than in any other way. Nor can any proof of man's need be conceived more demonstrative than the adoption by scientific men of an hypothesis so irrational, which is at issue with every fact really ascertained in the geologic ages no less than in historic times. Speculation is not science, which does not exist save by just deduction from fixed principles or constant order among the beings that exist. This is quite compatible with God's creation; not so the ancient notion of a constant flux or the modern evolution, both of which are ultimately due to man's anxiety to get rid of God and His will and energy here below.
We have further to note that it was this very survey of the subject and dependent creation which evinced the gap for its head. “But for Adam was not found a help answering to him.” God did not create the human pair together for the weightiest reasons, as we shall see conveyed in the verses that follow: a fact only in its due place in the second section, not in the first, where creature hood is the truth stated, not that circle of relationship which fills the scripture now before us. Discrepancy there is none, for chap. 1. gives no detail about the forming of the man or about the building up of the woman, but all is purposely general. “Male and female created he them.” Here throughout the later section we have details which bear on the relations in which they were placed, not with God only but mutually. And the moral importance of this fresh truth is felt increasingly as we ponder it with conscience and heart before God; otherwise it passes easily without a thought save of ignorance to slight or of malevolence to slander. If any one thinketh himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him take knowledge that the things which Moses wrote are the revealed truth of God; but if any one is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

Exodus 6

Exodus 6 is the beginning of God's proper relationship with Israel. He gives Himself a covenant name What goes before is preparatory, as in ch. 3. a personal name (Eh' yeh) not repeated here, where He gives the name (Jehovah) by which He was to be known by them. It is in no way said that Elohim had not that name, His nature and character. Yet He did not appear to the fathers by it, but as Shaddai. He was making Himself known to the children of Israel by His name Jehovah. J. N. D.

Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 8-9

We are now on lower ground (ch. 8). Not here a foreshadowing of the peaceful reign of Messiah; but a man is presented who is in possession of glory and honor which was given that he might, as far as a mere man, display the glories of the coming kingdom; a man who used his excellent wisdom in searching out the things of nature and found no profit in them.
In his wisdom he utilizes the cities that Hiram refused (1 Kings 9:12, 13); he built store cities, secured his communications with outlying districts by fortifying the upper and the nether Beth-horon, fenced cities with walls and gates and bars. This is the display of prudence and strength in the presence of possible enemies. It is the evidence of that wisdom with which he was endowed, which, if he had not misused it, would not have been applied in accumulating horses and fortifying cities. This is not the aspect of Messiah's peaceful reign, when peace and safety is the portion of each Israelite; for the strength and impregnability of a kingdom may subsist under the oppressive power of a tyrant, and the showy splendor of the king may be only a veil to hide the oppression and tears of the subject.
As yet this was not the case with Israel. The Canaanites who were not consumed are made servants and pay tribute; the Israelites are captains and chiefs.
We are reminded of our Lord's words to Peter: they may allude to this period of Solomon's reign and throw a ray of light upon the future condition of the children of Israel. “Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom, or tribute, of their own children or of strangers? Of strangers, said Peter. Then, said the Lord, are the children free.” Solomon had not yet so sunk in the slough of idolatry and forgetfulness of God as to deal with Israelites, the chosen people, as he did with Canaanites. His fall into idolatry, though rapid, was not as if proceeding at once from building the house of the Lord to the erection of an idol's temple. Even the heathen said “nemo fit repente turpissimus.” The cause of his fall is given in few but pregnant words. “But Solomon loved many strange women.” This was the steep incline.
The fame of Solomon's wisdom had brought the queen of Sheba to hear and prove it. She is astonished and overcome. But what will be the outshining of Him, of Whom the brightest days of Solomon were but a faint resemblance? She is only one of many, for “all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom that God had put in his heart.” But what are these kings of the earth compared with countless numbers that heaven and earth and sea will send forth to sing the praise of Him that liveth forever and ever?
Solomon passes away, and a brief resume is given of his riches and power (ch. ix). Pagans speak of the golden age of the world. This was surely the golden age for Israel. (apart from their glorious future); the world's richest and most prized are but common things. Yet this is only the image of good things to come, when righteousness shall characterize Israel, as gold did the throne and the temple.
All this magnificence soon vanished. The display of glory rested upon the presence of the Lord in His house, and His abiding presence there depended upon Israel's obedience. From Chronicles we should not learn that the old enemy of idolatry, older than the calf at the foot of Mount Sinai, was secretly sapping the foundation of that visible display of glory. For while the outward service and worship of the temple were doubtless duly observed, idolatry was taking root and spreading in the king's own family. This evil is not recorded here; for the Holy Spirit in Chronicles is foreshadowing the glories and the kingdom of Christ, and not giving the history of Solomon's failures. All here is in intimate touch with the future, and the failures are recorded elsewhere. Those here mentioned are with the view of showing not so, much what man is as of Satan's subtle attempts to prevent the establishment of the kingdom in God's appointed way. Every sin or failure which the Spirit records is always overtaken by judgment, not unmingled with mercy, proving that grace alone can meet man's sins and fulfill the counsels of God.
When the glory of the Lord filled the temple, the typical aspect of Solomon's reign ceased, for what more was needed to fill up the picture? Afterward we have the doings of a wise man who uses human means to strengthen his kingdom. This is not the character of Messiah's peaceful reign, for His glory and rule shall be over the whole earth. The Spirit of God is not occupied with the doings of either David or Solomon, save subordinately as a frame fitted for the picture of Christ and His glory. The genealogy in the first book attests it. There was no need to begin with Adam to prove David's call to the throne, nor that Jesus of Nazareth was the son of David and the true heir to David's throne. But as Man having the right and title to reign over all, besides His special rights over Israel, His genealogy is traced from Adam leading through Abraham and David, and by Matthew carried on till He appears. So it is manifestly up to Adam in Luke.
Many events are omitted in Chronicles which were needed to show what manner of men these favored types were, but not necessary to the Holy Spirit's design in Chronicles. For instance, there is not the sad story of Bathsheba. No mention of the rebellious attempts of Adonijah and his associates, who are, as historical excrescences, swept aside out of the path of the Holy Spirit occupied as He is with the kingly glories of Christ. We have the sure establishment of the kingdom, the subjugation of the nations (of all who are in contact with Israel), and the worship of God. This glory is committed to man with every advantage, but alas! proved to be utterly incompetent to retain it. And none but the Man Whom God made strong for Himself could uphold it, and He is both able and worthy, yea to exalt the glory of God.

The Psalms Book 2: 64-67

The first of these psalms appears to close the series wherein is set out the iniquity, of the adversaries against those who look for Christ, the godly Jewish remnant. The three following portray their feelings as having in the Beloved a plea for deliverance which waxes stronger and clearer by His Spirit working in them according to the word provided for their souls.
Psalm 64
“To the chief musician, a psalm of David. Hear, O God, my voice in my meditation; from fear of the enemy, thou wilt preserve my life. Thou wilt hide me from the secret of evil-doers, from the tumult of workers of iniquity, who have sharpened like the sword their tongues, have bent their arrow, a bitter word, to shoot in the secret places at the perfect; suddenly they will shoot at him and fear not. They will strengthen for themselves an evil matter; they concert to hide snares; they have said, who will see to them? They devise iniquities: We are ready [finished]! a well-devised device! and man's inward (thought) and heart [is deep. But God shall shoot at them: with an arrow suddenly the wounds have been theirs. And they shall be made to stumble, their own tongue against them; all that see them shall flee away. And every man shall fear, and they shall declare God's doings, and his work they shall understand. The righteous one shall be glad in Jehovah, and trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory” (ver. 1-11).
Thus the godly are consoled by the assurance of God's sudden and retributive judgment of their enemies, who are here described not as reprobates only but as malicious against the righteous, plotting and conspiring; but suddenly God's judgment falls, others fear as they behold God's doing, and the righteous rejoice in Jehovah Who has thus appeared at length in vindication of His name.
Psalm 65
“To the chief musician, a psalm of David, a song. To thee waiteth praise, O God, in Zion, and to thee shall vow be paid. Hearer of prayer, to thee shall all flesh come. Iniquities [lit. words or matters of] have been far too strong for me: our transgressions, thou wilt purge them. Blessed [he whom] thou wilt choose and bring near: he shall dwell in thy courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, thy holy temple. Terrible things in righteousness thou wilt answer us, O God of our salvation; confidence of all the ends of the earth and sea, afar off; establishing mountains by his strength, girded with power, stilling the roar of seas; roar of their waves, and the tumult of peoples. And those inhabiting the uppermost parts shall fear because of thy signs; the outgoings of morning and evening thou wilt make to shout for joy. Thou hast visited the earth and watered it; greatly wilt thou enrich it; the river of God is full of water; thou preparest their corn, for so thou preparest it (the earth). The furrows thou dost water, thou dost break down its ridges; with showers thou wilt soften it; its springing thou wilt bless. Thou crownest the year [with] thy goodness, and thy paths drop fatness. They drop [on] the pastures of the wilderness, and the hills are girded with joy. The sheep-walks are clothed with the sheep, and the valleys are covered with corn; they shout for joy, yea, they sing” (ver. 1-14).
Here the positive side of blessing is before the heart; for to Jewish thought the people and the land (and indeed all the earth) are blended in their expectations of goodness at length triumphant. And terrible things in righteousness are not absent, even if the joyous change be more prominent. Not such is our proper but heavenly hope in the coming of our Lord Jesus; it is to be with Himself in the Father's house, though we surely love His appearing and expect to be manifested with Him when He is manifested in glory. Our hope is to be translated to heaven, as Christ ascended, apart from all judgment of the world, in which the Jew shall be involved but delivered out of it, when the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
Psalm 66
“To the chief musician, a song, a psalm. Shout aloud to God, all the earth, sing forth the glory of his name, make his praise glorious. Say to God, how terrible [are] thy doings; in the greatness of thy strength shall cringe to thee thine enemies. All the earth shall worship thee and sing psalms to thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah. Come and see the works of God, terrible in dealing toward the sons of men. He turned sea to dry land; through the river they will pass on foot; there will we be glad in him. He ruleth by his might forever; his eyes over the Gentiles watch; let not the rebels exalt themselves. Selah. Bless, ye peoples, our God, and make the voice of his praise to be heard, who setteth our soul in the life and hath not given our foot to be moved. For thou hast proved us, O God, thou hast assayed us as silver is assayed. Thou hast brought us into the net, thou hast put pressure upon our loins, thou hast caused men to ride on our heads; we went into the fire and into the waters, and thou hast brought us into abundance. I will go to thy house with burnt offerings, I will pay to thee my vows, which my lips uttered and my mouth spoke in my distress. Burnt offerings of fatlings will I offer up to thee with incense of rams, I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah. Come, hear, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul. I called to him [with] my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I had regarded iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. Verily God hath heard, he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed [be] God who hath not turned away my prayer nor his mercy from me” (ver. 1-21).
It is the godly Jew anticipating deliverance after the sorest but justly inflicted trials. But God is faithful, and proved so at the close Who had of old redeemed them from Egypt.
Psalm 67
“To the chief musician, on Neginoth (stringed instruments), a psalm, a song. God be gracious to us and bless us; cause his face to shine upon us (Selah), that thy way may be known in the earth, in all Gentiles thy salvation. Let the peoples give thee thanks, O God, let all the peoples give thee thanks. Let the nations rejoice and shout for joy, for thou wilt judge the peoples equitably, and the nations on the earth, thou wilt guide them. Selah. Let the peoples give thee thanks, O God, let all the peoples give thee thanks. The earth hath yielded its increase; God, our God, will bless us; God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him” (ver. 1-8).
Here the wonder is how any believer can fail to see that the Jew praising God's grace at length delights in the blessing of the Gentiles, all of them, whether in association with Israel or outside. Not only shall Ephraim not envy Judah, and Judah not envy Ephraim; but far from them in that day an atom of narrowness toward the nations. Their heart is enlarged by God's mercy to themselves. If the casting away of Israel was the world's reconciling as now, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?

Psalm 64

“To the chief musician, a psalm of David. Hear, O God, my voice in my meditation; from fear of the enemy, thou wilt preserve my life. Thou wilt hide me from the secret of evil-doers, from the tumult of workers of iniquity, who have sharpened like the sword their tongues, have bent their arrow, a bitter word, to shoot in the secret places at the perfect; suddenly they will shoot at him and fear not. They will strengthen for themselves an evil matter; they concert to hide snares; they have said, who will see to them? They devise iniquities: We are ready [finished]! a well-devised device! and man's inward (thought) and heart [is deep. But God shall shoot at them: with an arrow suddenly the wounds have been theirs. And they shall be made to stumble, their own tongue against them; all that see them shall flee away. And every man shall fear, and they shall declare God's doings, and his work they shall understand. The righteous one shall be glad in Jehovah, and trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory” (ver. 1-11).
Thus the godly are consoled by the assurance of God's sudden and retributive judgment of their enemies, who are here described not as reprobates only but as malicious against the righteous, plotting and conspiring; but suddenly God's judgment falls, others fear as they behold God's doing, and the righteous rejoice in Jehovah Who has thus appeared at length in vindication of His name.

Psalm 65

“To the chief musician, a psalm of David, a song. To thee waiteth praise, O God, in Zion, and to thee shall vow be paid. Hearer of prayer, to thee shall all flesh come. Iniquities [lit. words or matters of] have been far too strong for me: our transgressions, thou wilt purge them. Blessed [he whom] thou wilt choose and bring near: he shall dwell in thy courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, thy holy temple. Terrible things in righteousness thou wilt answer us, O God of our salvation; confidence of all the ends of the earth and sea, afar off; establishing mountains by his strength, girded with power, stilling the roar of seas; roar of their waves, and the tumult of peoples. And those inhabiting the uppermost parts shall fear because of thy signs; the outgoings of morning and evening thou wilt make to shout for joy. Thou hast visited the earth and watered it; greatly wilt thou enrich it; the river of God is full of water; thou preparest their corn, for so thou preparest it (the earth). The furrows thou dost water, thou dost break down its ridges; with showers thou wilt soften it; its springing thou wilt bless. Thou crownest the year [with] thy goodness, and thy paths drop fatness. They drop [on] the pastures of the wilderness, and the hills are girded with joy. The sheep-walks are clothed with the sheep, and the valleys are covered with corn; they shout for joy, yea, they sing” (ver. 1-14).
Here the positive side of blessing is before the heart; for to Jewish thought the people and the land (and indeed all the earth) are blended in their expectations of goodness at length triumphant. And terrible things in righteousness are not absent, even if the joyous change be more prominent. Not such is our proper but heavenly hope in the coming of our Lord Jesus; it is to be with Himself in the Father's house, though we surely love His appearing and expect to be manifested with Him when He is manifested in glory. Our hope is to be translated to heaven, as Christ ascended, apart from all judgment of the world, in which the Jew shall be involved but delivered out of it, when the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

Psalm 66

“To the chief musician, a song, a psalm. Shout aloud to God, all the earth, sing forth the glory of his name, make his praise glorious. Say to God, how terrible [are] thy doings; in the greatness of thy strength shall cringe to thee thine enemies. All the earth shall worship thee and' sing psalms to thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah. Come and see the works of God, terrible in dealing toward the sons of men. He turned sea to dry land; through the river they will pass on foot; there will we be glad in him. He ruleth by his might forever; his eyes over the Gentiles watch; let not the rebels exalt themselves. Selah. Bless, ye peoples, our God, and make the voice of his praise to be heard, who setteth our soul in the life and hath not given our foot to be moved. For thou hast proved us, O God, thou hast assayed us as silver is assayed. Thou hast brought us into the net, thou hast put pressure upon our loins, thou hast caused men to ride on our heads; we went into the fire and into the waters, and thou hast brought us into abundance. I will go to thy house with burnt offerings, I will pay to thee my vows, which my lips uttered and my mouth spoke in my distress. Burnt offerings of fatlings will I offer up to thee with incense of rams, I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah. Come, hear, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul. I called to him [with] my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I had regarded iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. Verily God hath heard, he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed [be] God who hath not turned away my prayer nor his mercy from me” (ver. 1-21).
It is the godly Jew anticipating deliverance after the sorest but justly inflicted trials. But God is faithful, and proved so at the close Who had of old redeemed them from Egypt.

Psalm 67

“To the chief musician, on Neginoth (stringed instruments), a psalm, a song. God be gracious to us and bless us; cause his face to shine upon us (Selah), that thy way may be known in the earth, in all Gentiles thy salvation. Let the peoples give thee thanks, O God, let all the peoples give thee thanks. Let the nations rejoice and shout for joy, for thou wilt judge the peoples equitably, and the nations on the earth, thou wilt guide them. Selah. Let the peoples give thee thanks, O God, let all the peoples give thee thanks. The earth hath yielded its increase; God, our God, will bless us; God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him” (ver. 1-8).
Here the wonder is how any believer can fail to see that the Jew praising God's grace at length delights in the blessing of the Gentiles, all of them, whether in association with Israel or outside. Not only shall Ephraim not envy Judah, and Judah not envy Ephraim; but far from them in that day an atom of narrowness toward the nations. Their heart is enlarged by God's mercy to themselves. If the casting away of Israel was the world's reconciling as now, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?

Thoughts Suggested by John 1:14

It is well to be jealous of any mere intellectual appreciation of the word of God. For undoubtedly, even in the case of those who are truly converted, there is a danger of mind and fancy being gratified at the expense of heart and conscience. It is admitted of course that the intelligence must play a necessary part in the apprehension of any statement, secular or sacred, as it is also true that the poetic temperament will not blind the soul to heavenly glories, where sin is judged and Christ is paramount. Only let us realize that the Bible is God's voice to us, “quick and powerful,” and “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Then indeed shall we be slow to indulge an uncontrolled fancy; and, on the other hand, distrusting self, we shall not miss the needed blessing and refreshment.
Now it is hardly necessary to say we are not concerned with those who take merely a literary interest in the Bible. There are those we know, who do indeed discover a moving and pathetic story in such a history a s that of Joseph, but nothing beyond; as they see merely a tale of sweet and inimitable naturalness in that of Ruth. Clearly no spirituality is necessary for this, as in fact those who see no more in these histories are in general infidel. This is not the danger to which believers, as a rule, are exposed. The latter are well aware that these Old Testament narrative are not of any “private interpretation,” any more than prophecy is, but that they point with undeviating constancy to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our danger, on the contrary, is to rest too much in our apprehension of the admirable variety and fullness of these precious types, and in our possibly keen appreciation of them, without much practical result as to our ways. It is the same with the material symbols of the Levitical economy as with those of a personal character. It is one thing, for instance, to note with what exquisite precision the Holy Spirit enjoins the blue, and the scarlet, and the purple, according as heavenly character, earthly grandeur, or royal dignity were to be symbolized by the coverings of the mystic furniture of the Tabernacle; it is quite another to be formed and molded by the varied teaching of these different scriptures.
But the dangers attending the study of the New Testament are somewhat different. As the “very image of the things” is there unfolded with divine clearness and exactitude, there is a directness of statement which leaves less room for ingenious and far-fetched interpretations, and there is less risk perhaps of the imagination running wild. Doubtless there are snares of another kind, more purely intellectual as with the Gnostics of old, and more subtle.
Witness too some recent vagaries, not confined to one quarter, with regard to our Lord's Person. The fact is that there are snares for imaginative and intellectual alike, and both can find material in either division of the Book of God. Yet, while we should judge self unsparingly, it is becoming to cherish simplicity, equally free from legal bondage and from self-confidence. Indeed they are not wise who are always analyzing their feelings—an occupation as unhealthy in spiritual as in physical matters. Hence it is enough to have pointed out a danger before turning to a verse than which there is none sublimer or more majestic even in the fourth Gospel—so simple in its language, so profound in its significance.
Simple language, profound meaning—do not these words sum up the characteristic features of St. John's Gospel, as of his Epistles? Whether his aim were to enforce the great truth that Jesus is the Christ, as in the Gospel, or that the Christ is Jesus, (Whom they had seen and handled) as in the first Epistle, clearly no complicated arguments were necessary in order to “declare what he had seen and heard.” We know that there are arguments, and indignant ones, though most suitable in their season, in the writings of the apostle Paul. Burning words and sharp remonstrance were necessary at times from one who had the “care of all the churches,” and who was jealous with a godly jealousy for the honor of Christ. But in the Gospel of John how different it all is. And yet he was a “son of thunder;” nor is the remark of Augustine inapt that John begins his Gospel with a peal of spiritual thunder. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” But all is calm and reposeful in the manner; the thunder is not in the collision of earth-born clouds, but in the majesty of the revelation. He who declared the eternal life that was with the Father, speaks in accents that breathe the calmness of the Son's own divine dignity and glory. The Word was (ἦν) God; but we read further that the Word was made (ἐγένετο) flesh. Already a touch of pathos in the announcement of His Incarnation; no exemption from human vicissitudes, though wholly apart from sin. And so He “tabernacled” here for some three and thirty years, most of which, as we know, were spent in holy seclusion, whence God has not thought fit to withdraw the veil, but of which more may be known (who can tell?) in the coming day. We are permitted one or two glimpses of exquisite loveliness (Luke 2); and then the silence of almost twenty unrecorded years. But even of the three years of that wonderful ministry, only some of the miracles and some of the sayings are told us; there are the “many other signs,” and the “many other things” that “are not written in this book.” So He displayed His glory, not only those moral perfections that could not be hidden, but each miracle, as the one in Cana of Galilee, manifested the majesty of His Person to such as had eyes to see.
But there is more. It is glory as of an Only-begotten with a Father. And indeed, though doubtless the apostles raised the dead, and did other miracles—not to speak of the greater (spiritual) miracles they wrought after Christ had gone to the Father—yet in truth there was a stamp of peculiar dignity in our Lord's own works and words. For He alone could and did touch the leper without being defiled, as on the same occasion, with full consciousness of His divinity, He said, “I will” —fitting words for One, Who could say “I am.” He answered the governor nothing, so that Pilate marveled. The people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, saluted Him, when He had just come down from the Holy Mount; the glory still lingered that had been so dazzling at the transfiguration. And so we might recall many an incident situation described in the Gospels, where the splendor of His divine Sonship seemed to pierce the veil.
Yet surely are we, who by grace rest in Him, not less, but more, favored than those who had His bodily presence. R. B. Junr.

The Woman Then Left Her Waterpot

Blessed effects follow faith when it is the work of God's Spirit as here. “He that believeth hath everlasting life;” and life from God does not fail to show itself in ways pleasing to Him if not to man. A faith of mere tradition, or founded on evidences, is powerless. The conscience being untouched, in no case is it before God; nor is He trusted for everlasting life.
Little acts as well as matters of great moment disclose the work of God in a believer. The Holy Spirit notices both in the Samaritan woman. In the opening of the interview her pre-occupation with present things was evident. When the Lord seized the figure of living water in contrast with that before her, we see her total insensibility. She was unable to rise above earthly wants and desires. Only when her conscience was reached, did God and His word deal with her soul, however amazed and attracted she might be by the grace of Christ. Even when her life was suddenly laid bare by the wondrous stranger, so as to convince her that everything was known to Him divinely, she has no wish to escape into the darkness in which she had heretofore lived; she desires light in what most nearly touches the right state of the soul with God. She is assured that He could and would guide her aright in the worship of God, where men differ most and so keenly. She had to learn of a new worship superseding Jerusalem no less than her vain traditional mountain—the worship of the Father. This He, the Son, was alone competent to announce; as also the Holy Spirit is the needed power to enable the worshipper, even the true worshipper, to render it suitably to God's nature as well as His relationship as Father. But the work in her soul was not complete till He stood revealed in her spirit as Messiah come, the Declarer of all things to us: so she expected and confessed, and yet how much more the reality and fullness!
At this point, the most solemn and blessed for every soul that knows it, when God reveals Himself in Christ to the needy and guilty but now the sinner repentant, came His disciples marveling that He was speaking with a woman. For even they still shared the Jewish pride which despised the sex. How much greater their astonishment, had they known what she was, and what were His communications of infinite grace! “The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”
It was the simple effect of divine truth acting on her heart, now that her conscience was before God. To everything there is a seasons and a time to every purpose, or matter, under heaven, a time to seek, and a time to lose. So she rightly felt the all-importance of the moment, not for herself only but for others. Her ordinary duty could well wait. It was nothing to her now to avoid the concourse of women at the well, for she clearly had been alone there. What were censorious tongues now? She had heard the Shepherd's voice. Had He not called her, knowing all she was and had done? She left her waterpot therefore. To know Him was the great business. Another time was equally good for the waterpot. But here was the Messiah, the Christ; and if He deigned in His compassionate love to make Himself known to her, convicted as she was, surely no sinner need despair. Without a command, as the fruit of His grace, she leaves aside what was earthly and perishing, she seeks to spread the blessed news, which filled her soul and made her forget herself and every consideration but of Christ and His goodness to such as she had been. “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” just expressed her new-born feelings, the activity of that life she had in Christ.
And so it is with souls born of God, who learn from Christ that the Father seeketh such to worship Him. As yet she was ignorant of dogma, but by grace she had received Christ, the despised Messiah, and the more despised because He was and is infinitely more, the Son of God, the Only begotten, full of grace and truth. Little she knew of Him; but she believed in Him as the Promised One, the destroyer of Satan, the Redeemer, not merely to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel, but given for a light to the Gentiles, that He might be God's salvation unto the end of the earth.
The Samaritan woman had already proved that His divine knowledge of her sins did not in the least hinder the out-flow of divine grace to her soul. Grace had used truth to search her and put her in her true place, that she might be fully blessed of God and able to draw near in adoration as a true worshipper. Nor is there anything so humbling as the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ. When the prodigal came to himself, he made up his mind to say, “Make me as one of thy hired servants.” Had he adequately judged himself, he could not have asked even this; he must have felt his unworthiness (so far as he was concerned) of any place whatever. But when his father ran and fell on his neck and kissed him in his rags, he owned his sin and unworthiness; but not a word of being made an hireling. It was, he now learned, no question of himself, but of the Father's love. So is it with our God and Father. He acts in His own love and for His own glory. And Christ alone has made it possible righteously by His propitiation; as He alone is the truth, the way, and the life, revealing Him as Father and God, that we may know the true God Whom we adore.
The woman in the energy of faith, not only leaves her waterpot for a more fitting season, but in her own way shows the effect of the truth that the Father is seeking true worshippers, as she also knew that grace can and does make poor sinners such. So it was with her. Now the positive power of the truth discloses itself. She seeks others, any, in the faith of His grace. “She saith to the men (that is, of the city), Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” And she was right, truly guided, where human learning and genius have utterly failed and prove their possessors to be but blind guides who only lead and fall into the ditch. She was right and testified of, and in, the grace that blessed her. For Christ is man, yet as truly God, the only Man Who ever thus told all to the sinner, the only bearer of his sins on the tree, that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness. It is a suspicious faith that does not subordinate earthly claims to Christ, and that burns not to make Him known to the lost.

Salvation, Service, and Rest

The salvation of these Thessalonians is clearly stated in the first verse of our chapter. They were “in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Divine association was established. They were made partakers of the divine nature, and were children of God. They knew the Father, and were in Christ also by the Holy Spirit. Of them, as of all that are in the simple yet full standing of Christians, it could be said, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Salvation this is indeed, rich and complete: grace could do no more for believers here below.
How then had they received that wondrous salvation? The apostle Paul was accompanied by Silas, whom he had chosen as his companion in this second circuit of service from Antioch; and both had been commended by the brethren there to the grace of God (Acts 15:40, 41). After calling at Derbe, Lystra, and Philippi, &c., they come to Thessalonica; and in the synagogue of the Jews Paul reasoned with them out of the scriptures “three sabbath days,” “opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, Whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” In Acts 17:3 we have a short, but very comprehensive, epitome of the apostle's discourses during these three sabbaths in the synagogue. First, that “Christ must needs have suffered,” as Psa. 22 Isa. 53 and many other scriptures would prove most clearly that the Messiah should suffer. Second, that He must rise again from the dead: Psa. 16:9-11 gives this very certainly, and is so used by both Peter and Paul in the earlier chapters of the Acts. Third, both are true only of “this Jesus, whom I preach unto you.”
The effect of these discourses of the apostle was, that “some of them believed and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout (or worshipping) Greeks, a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few” (ver. 4).
The decisive moment had come. The believers were manifested, and identified themselves with Paul and Silas, joining themselves to them, or “consorting” with them. Like the two disciples to whom John Baptist says “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:36), they followed Jesus, and consorted with Him that day. So it is ever, when Christ is preached. The unbelievers are manifested too, who beset the house of Jason, where the apostle Paul and his companion were staying, “assaulting it.” Therefore the brethren send them away to Berea. Thus through the apostle's preaching Christ unto them, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, were those who believed the gospel in the synagogue brought into God's salvation. He speaks of this in 1 Thess. 1:5, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” And no wonder. It flows from a divine Savior and His perfect work of reconciliation to God (Eph. 2:16, 17; Col. 1:22).
Now comes service. Salvation is first; service second. It is false and fatal to depart from this order; alas! it is far too common.
Their faith was divinely active, and known far and wide by the proofs to be seen of all. “From you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to Godward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything” (ver. 8). They had “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (ver. 9). Marvelous change before all who knew them as pagans! Nor was it thus proved before men only, but to the joy of the apostle's heart, so that they became ensamples to all believers round about them. They received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost, and became imitators of the Lord and His servants. Such was the manner of entering in Paul and Silas had unto them. What a distinct and blessed testimony in service! would to God, it was always so with the faithful.
Such was the very clear and unmistakable proof, to all men, of the remarkable change which had been wrought by God's power through the gospel, among souls for the most part heathen till now; and a bright example to all believers in the neighborhood. The apostle's heart rejoices and is filled with thanks to God alway for them. “We give thanks to God for you all, making mention of you in our prayers”
(ver. 2).
But more than all, there was the character of their service, which the apostle points out in the third verse. “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” Faith is properly energetic and active. It must, so to speak, do something for God, Who had done all in Christ for them. There had been faith in God. They had believed in “Him Who had raised up His Son from the dead,” “even Jesus our deliverer from the wrath to come” (ver. 10). What could they now do for Him? They could serve Him There was labor too; yea, “the labor of love.” And what can sustain in labor like love? Divine love sustains the servant.
“The love of Christ constraineth us.” Here all was fresh, and love is the mainspring and power, with faith simple and hope bright and enduring. Thus the work became a labor of love, for “love never faileth.” There might have been work and labor kept up mechanically when faith decayed, and love cooled down, and hope was no longer enduring. Alas! so it was late in the day at Ephesus (Rev. 2:2-4). “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have (somewhat) against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Much yet remained good. Here we have work, labor, and patience; judicial zeal too, in the rejection of what was false and evil. They could not bear evil, they had tried and refused all high pretenders, and judged according to God. This was right in its place.
What of the power and mainspring which should have given character and real power to the whole, and joy to the Lord's own heart Who saw to the bottom of all? “Thou hast left thy first love.” What was the real difference between the spiritual state of these old Ephesian saints, and those young believers in Thessalonica? In the latter “at the fresh springs” it was a work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope. In the former were works, toil, and patience, but “first love was left.” There was joy for the heart of the apostle Paul in the “labor of love,” and thanks to God continually for their loving labor. Where was joy for Christ in all that the Ephesians were doing, when first love was gone? May we take heed, and “repent and do the first works.” Such then was service; but the rest was in prospect, and they were giving diligence to enter into it (Heb. 4:9-11). The Lord was coming, and they were waiting for Him daily, and had been ever since the day of their conversion. They had “turned from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son, from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (verses 9, 10). The rest is with Christ in glory. Clearly the apostle had preached the Lord's second coming, as well as the first, in the synagogue at Thessalonica. It is part of the gospel testimony, not to believer only, but to unbeliever also, who must see His appearing in that day; and thus they knew it on God's authority, and looked for Himself from heaven habitually whilst still working for Him. They needed further instruction as to its manner, with regard to those who had fallen asleep in Him This he gives them in chap. 4. in its details as to those who sleep, and those who are alive and remain. The rapture will be simultaneous, for all will together meet the Lord in the air, and be forever with Him. Blessed hope, and most sanctifying truth, as we see throughout both of these Epistles! Here, at the end of our chapter, language could not be plainer or more explicit for babes in the faith. They were to wait for “His Son from heaven even Jesus,” our deliverer from the wrath to come. It cannot be wrested to mean death, or any other event. It was Christ Himself that they waited for from day to day. In chap. 2. ver. 19, we read “For what is our hope or joy or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” Again, chap. iii. 13, “To the end He may stablish your hearts, unblameable in holiness, before God even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” Chap. we have already noticed briefly. Lastly, chap. 23, “Your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Everywhere His advent is pressed. I do not at present go into the second Epistle; but, the Lord willing, I may at another time attempt to distinguish a little between His coming and appearing or day. May we serve God, and wait for Jesus from heaven. G. R.

Hebrews 7:23-25

Another proof of superiority over the Levitical priesthood is claimed for our Lord Jesus in His abiding triumph over death, from which neither Aaron nor his successor had exemption any more than other men. They all succumbed to death, which rendered their priesthood necessarily successional in order to its very existence.
“And they have been made priests more in number, because they are hindered by death from continuing; but He, because He abideth forever, hath the priesthood unchangeable: whence also He is able to save completely those that approach to God through Him, ever living as He doth to intercede for them” (vers. 23-25).
The text had already been applied twice in this chapter (Heb. 7:8,16): the first time, in reasoning on the type of Melchizedek paid tithe to and testified of only as “living,” scripture being as silent about his death as about his birth (whereas under the law none but “dying” men receive tithes); the second time, in contrasting the respective principles, a law of carnal injunction, weak and profitless on the one side, and on the other, power of indissoluble life through the perfection of which we draw near to God. Here, as has been remarked, we have the Holy Spirit noticing the appointment of numbers of priests Levitical, because death hindered continuance; whereas the high priest of our confession, because of His abiding forever, hath the priesthood unchangeable. The personal contrast of His abiding forever with the many sons of Aaron who could not but pass away through death, emphasizes the priesthood in His case as indefeasible.
Nor can any demonstration be conceived so convincing and irrefutable. For death tells the tale of man's weakness and sin; and the more as he was constituted to live, with suitable provision for it, had he obeyed God. Nevertheless Jesus did taste of death, but in no way by sin, yet for it as a sacrifice. By the grace of God He tasted death for every one (or, thing). And this infinite act of His love not only availed for us before God in a way and measure with which nothing else can compare, but gave occasion to display the power of an imperishable life in Him. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” When scripture records its remarkable list of antediluvians (Gen. 5) living 930, 912, 910, 895, 962, 969, 777 years, the solemn words follow in each case, “and he died.” Had Jesus lived as many as any, or double the oldest, men might still have said, Wait and see what the end will be. But He, after taking humanity just long enough to do the will of God perfectly, as its climax laid down His life in a single generation, that He might take it again in resurrection. Thus was marked out, on the one hand, the annulling of Satan's power in his last fortress of death, on the other the victory of the Son of God after full submission to God's judgment of sin. It was His resurrection that proclaimed death defeated. He only is the Living One, Who became dead and is now alive again forever more, in possession of the keys of death and Hades. And as thus living He carries on His priesthood on high.
Therefore is there but one. Death has no more dominion over Him, as sin never had. No successor is needed, none to replace Him Who ever abides. Vain search! for none else had the qualification. Through death there was no continuance. Hence is He in manifest contrast with Aaron's sons who followed in a family succession more numerous than the sons of David, till He came, the promised and predicted Son, Who is the King after God's heart not in type alone but reality, as He is the Priest, the one Mediator Whose love and effectual love has been proved to the uttermost, and Who now lives to sustain, guard, and sympathize as well as intercede on our behalf.
And the power by which He lives forever is the guarantee of a commensurate salvation (ver. 25). For if the priests, the sons of Aaron, could not save themselves from death, still less could they save others. Christ only when His work was done, having been perfected, became author of everlasting salvation to all that obey Him. “For if, being enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved in His life,” i.e. in virtue of it. He abides forever and because it is so, He has His priesthood unchangeable. Thus also He is able to save completely those that approach to God through Him. In His case it is not the cold or poor plea of a divinely ordained office administered by an unworthy occupant, which brought death on many a son of Aaron as we may see in early days, and which filled with grief and shame far more “Israelites indeed” to the end of the sad story. If the law made nothing perfect, still less did the numerous priests as they succeeded one another supply strength and profit.
But here the glorious presence of God's Son gives a fresh and unfading and incalculable luster to the office, enhanced as all is by an unwavering obedience which glorified His Father absolutely. He therefore is the sole priest able to save completely (εἰς τὸ παντελὲς) those that approach to God through Him, since He ever lives to intercede for them. As their need here below is great and unceasing, so is He above always free, competent, and efficacious to interpose on their behalf. Do they approach by Him to God? He saves them throughout and entirely. Divine love and righteousness are thus at one in carrying through to God's glory and salvation in the face of every difficulty or danger. Nor is there salvation in any other. For there is none other name under heaven that is given among men whereby we must be saved.

The Lord's Testimony to the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch: 3

Nevertheless, since the astounding fact is revealed that He, “Who is over all, God blessed for ever” (Rom. 9:5), was pleased to dwell among men in the “likeness of sinful flesh,” there can be but one proper attitude for the soul of man in presence of such a marvel. That attitude is to bow in adoration before such an incomparable display of grace, and to receive in humble faith whatever God has deigned to place on record in regard to it.
Now a cursory survey of our Lord's life on earth as found in the Gospels yields abundant testimony to the truth that, though He appeared among men in lowly guise, the knowledge He displayed was ever superior to what was others' and was, in itself, a sufficient proof that He must be a Divine Person. It is proposed, therefore, to cite some of the most striking of such passages, in order to show thereby that it is quite a gratuitous piece of assumption to say that our Lord was ignorant of the true authorship of the Pentateuch.
The first portion to which we naturally turn is Luke 2:4, 6. There we read that, at the age of twelve years, “They found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Afterward His public ministry was such as to cause His hearers to exclaim “Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works?” (Matt. 13:54); and again, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:15). This shows that His knowledge was not apparently derived from the usual sources, that is, from rabbis or from writings, but was personal and intuitive. Further, His insight into men's hearts and motives (as it was said, “He heard men thinking”) is so often evidenced that even the writer of “Lux Mundi” is constrained to allow this much in a footnote, page 265. Compare Matt. 9:4; 12:25; 16:8; 22:18; Mark 12:15; Luke 9:47; 20:23.
When the Lord told Nathanael that He had seen him under the fig-tree, the guileless Israelite, accepting this proof of His Divinity, at once replied, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God” (John 1:48, 49). The testimony of the Samaritan woman concerning Him was “Come, see a man, who told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29.) Now if the Lord was thus acquainted with the past history of both Nathanael and the woman at the well, surely it is not too much to believe that He knew the history of the Pentateuch, including the name of the man used of God to pen its pages. Even a Samaritan knew that Messiah when He comes “will tell (declare to) us all things.” Think of a Christian, of a professed Christian minister, lowering Christ beneath the standard of a Samaritan woman!
Moreover, in certain cases it is to be noted that His knowledge is especially shown to be most extraordinary. When, for example, His garment fringe was touched, He immediately knew “in Himself” that virtue was gone out of Him (Mark 5:30). Similarly Mark 2:8 and John 6:61 prove that His knowledge was of no human order but divine. It is also stated that He “knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him” (John 6:64), and indeed “all things that should come upon Him” (John 18:4). He could and did indicate beforehand the piece of money in the fish's mouth, the whereabouts of the ass's colt, and the man bearing the pitcher of water. He also displayed His knowledge of the future by predicting to His disciples, His betrayal, His denial, His crucifixion and His resurrection.
These scriptural facts are sufficient to show how utterly untrue is the statement that Christ in His Incarnation “beggared Himself of divine prerogatives." On the contrary, it is clear that it was as man He manifested omniscience, knowing equally the past, the present and the future, and thus demonstrating, beyond question, that He was both God and Man. When therefore the Son of God says that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, we dare not doubt His word. Shall not the Judge of all the earth speak rightly as well as do right? He that searcheth reins and hearts (Rev. 2:23)?
However, as might have been expected, the critics have not advanced these theories without endeavoring to fortify their position with Bible texts. It will be remembered that the Jews quoted scripture against our Lord, and so did a greater enemy for a worse purpose. Therefore it is no matter of surprise to find that it is sought to support the dogma of our Lord's ignorance in certain matters by the word of God. And it should be equally no matter of surprise to find upon examination that the passages cited refuse to yield the support claimed from them.
We are told that when our Lord “asked for information, it was because He wanted it” (Matt. 15:34, John 11:34), implying thereby that He was ignorant of what He asked about. The first reference is to the feeding of the four thousand when the Master said to His disciples, “How many loaves have ye” (Matt. 15:34)? On turning to John 6:5, 6, the unworthy inference is entirely and expressly exploded. There the Lord on a similar occasion said to Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove Him; for He Himself knew what He would do.” In the other reference (John 11:34) we have the question concerning the grave of Lazarus “Where have ye laid him”? And we are asked to conclude from it that, though the Lord became aware of the death of Lazarus without human intervention and came to awake him out of sleep (John 11:11), He was yet unaware of the whereabouts of the sepulcher! We prefer to believe that as the weeping displayed His human sympathy, so the question indicated that human interest in the departed so precious to sorrowing hearts at such moments. It is, therefore, denied that there is any ground in scripture for the assertion that when He “asked for information, it was because He wanted it,” that is, because of His own ignorance. It needs no study of Socrates to know that a question may be put for the sake of the questioned. Luke 24:18, 19 furnishes a sufficient illustration. When Cleopas said to the Unknown One, “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” The Unknown One, Who was none other than the Lord Jesus, said, “What things?” not assuredly because He was ignorant of His own recent sufferings, but with a view exclusively to the instruction of the two disciples.
Again we are told that the verse “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” Luke 2:52, implies that “He could not have had perfect wisdom in His childhood.” It might be retorted that this is no proof whatever that He did not possess perfect wisdom in His manhood. But the intention is to show that our Lord's knowledge was limited. Such a thought, however, is entirely foreign to the verse. The reference is plainly to that which was made apparent to an observer. An eye-witness would have marked an advance both in stature and display of wisdom. Surely it is not necessary to explain to a Professor that wisdom can only be seen or known in its exercise. So that this passage leaves altogether untouched the question as to the extent of the Lord's knowledge. It simply informs us that as to outward appearance He was found “in fashion as a man,” and is significantly silent as to the secrets of that incomprehensible Mind.
Further: incontestable evidence is supposed to be found in Mark 13:32; concerning which, it is said, “He declared His ignorance in regard to the date of a future event." The passage is as follows: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” But even this, their citadel, yields to a careful and prayerful consideration. It is significant that the phrase, “neither the Son,” is to be found alone in Mark who writes of the Lord as the Servant-prophet. It is therefore, as such, that He declares His ignorance of what the Father had put in His own power (Acts 1:7). This should not be strange to a reader of the N.T. Luke 13:25-27 is an example of official ignorance. The master of the house says to those who have eaten and drunk in His presence “I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” The word also to five virgins will be “Verily I say unto you, I know you not” Matt. 25:12. Thus the real point of Mark 13:32, is the exclusive knowledge of God in regard to the day and hour. Even the Son, in taking the place of subjection and service, had received no direction to reveal that time. For, as He says, “the Father which sent Me gave Me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49). See also John 15:15. The true inference therefore from the passage in Mark is not the limitation of the Lord's intrinsic and divine knowledge, but of His teaching in the servant position He took for the glory of God. The propriety of the phrase, too, is striking. Seeing that the day refers to the time when the once lowly Son of Man will be manifested in glory, what more in accordance with His place of dependence than that He should be in an expectant posture till it pleases the Father to make His enemies His footstool?
In conclusion: it has been shown that the Lord's testimony to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is definite and unequivocal: and, also that the theories advanced to invalidate that testimony are purely hypothetical, having not a tittle of support from the Word of God, but tending, as all deep error does, to undermine, not scripture only, but the Incarnate Word and Only-begotten of the Father.
W. J. H.
(Concluded.)

The Gospel and the Church: 22. Church Discipline

SECOND PART.—THE CHURCH.—XIV.
CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINE.
As to the scriptural way of procedure in the case of those who cause sects and divisions, the word of God is clear enough:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:16, 17).
The duty of the church in such a case is unmistakable. For no godly Christian asserts that the apostle here (as in 2 Thess. 3) would rest in withholding personal fellowship with such as. act contrary to the doctrine of the apostles, undermining and destroying the church, the temple of God, by causing divisions and offenses, and deceiving the hearts of the simple. An assembly which sanctions such in its midst, thus opening the door to the enemy and destroyer, would only show that it. has no sense of what is due to God and to His Son, and to the church, as being the house of the living God. If they persevered, in spite of the remonstrances of the godly, in refusing church discipline, they would finally forfeit the character of an assembly of God, and to the godly among them no alternative would be left but separation from that which would be an assembly of God no longer. But the apostle justly began with calling on the faithful to mark such in order to their repentance.
And if separation becomes a duty for every true and faithful believer where the defilement of the temple of God is in question, how much more so, where the honor of God, and of His Son Himself is at stake, as when heresy has assumed the character of heterodoxy, i.e. false and God-dishonoring doctrine! The injunctions of Holy Writ, though plain enough in the former case, are here still more distinct and solemnly decisive, as the following passages show: 1 Cor. 15:12, 13-19, 33, 34, 13-19; Gal. 5:7-12; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; Titus 3:10, 11; 2 Peter 2:1-3;.1 John 2:18-26 John 9-11; Jude 3, 4
No upright and right-minded Christian will contend that the passages cited above, dealing with those tools of Satan, who by false doctrines seek to undermine the foundations of Christianity, do not go on to exclusion from the assembly, when self-will rejects all admonition. False doctrine, heterodoxy, is of all evils the worst, for it directly dishonors God and His dear Son, our precious Savior, ruining the souls of those for whom Jesus suffered and died, to a far wider extent and in a much more destructive way than in the case of moral evil. And if the apostle enjoined the Corinthians not even to take a common meal at the same table with that incestuous wicked person, could he have intended to say, think ye, that they quietly might sit down and break bread with those who attacked the very foundations of the Christian faith, nay, the person of Christ Himself and His work? What! associate and break bread with them at the table of the Lord (Whom they had blasphemed) to “show His death till He come!” The very thought of such a Judas-fellowship is so revolting to every Christian sentiment, that I need not say more about it.
“Be not deceived: evil-communications corrupt good manners,” the apostle writes to the same Corinthians. By this he certainly did not mean that they were to continue with those false teachers in the fellowship of breaking the bread, thus giving them opportunity, gradually to poison the whole assembly? “Awake to righteousness and sin not,” the apostle continues, “for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” He began, as we ought, with correcting the error in order to repentance. But if they refused the correction and thus became hardened in the evil, was this to be tolerated under plea of unity?
It is to be feared, there are not a few Christians in these days of Laodicean lukewarmness, to whom that solemnly warning rebuke of the apostle would apply. There are some who say that it could not have been the intention of the apostle to insist on the Corinthians excluding those false teachers from the assembly, because he did not expressly enjoin them to do so. Do not his words, “Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners,” express the warning of the Lord and of His Spirit through the apostle distinctly enough? We might just as well say, that the “elect lady,” whom the apostle John warns against receiving into her house any who did not bring the doctrine of Christ (nay, not even to greet him, because by doing so she would make herself “partaker of his evil deeds”), would have been quite free to break bread with the false teacher, the apostle not having expressly forbidden her to do so How crooked and deceitful is the natural heart in its thoughts and feelings, especially in a Christian who abuses grace!
These remarks hold good as to other portions of holy writ mentioned above, which are initiatory.
If then individual Christians who receive a heterodox teacher into their houses, or even greet him, become his accomplices, how much more solemnly is this true of a whole assembly according such an one a place at the Lord's table! The whole assembly would make itself partaker of his evil deeds. “Know ye not,” writes the apostle to the Corinthians, “that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” This principle of divine truth holds good not only in cases of gross immorality as at Corinth, but also in cases of evil doctrine; for the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth,” applies the same words through the same apostle to the Galatians, where it was a question of evil doctrine or heterodoxy (ch. 5:9, 10), adding, “I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (ver. 12). In 1 Cor. 15:33 the apostle urges the same principle with regard to evil doctrine as in the same epistle, ch. 5., to immorality, only in different words, as is clear from the whole tenor of ch. 15.
“But,” somebody would say, “suppose, some one has belonged to a gathering, where, without his being aware of it, an evil doctrine has been tolerated, though perhaps not publicly advanced. He is entirely ignorant of it all. Would it not he unjust, nay, cruel, to refuse to such an one a place at the Lord's table in other meetings?”
Yes, the Lord's table! This makes all the difference. It is the Lord's, and not our own table; and for this very reason that which is due to the Lord, and also to His saints in holy fellowship, ought to be our chief consideration. To receive such would be nothing less than linking ourselves with them, the Lord's table being the expression of the one body (1 Cor. 10:17). Thus we should make ourselves partakers of their evil deeds. Let us put Christ number one, and the “nice Christians” number two, and we shall make no mistake, but if we put the “dear Christians” first, and Christ in the second place, we are all wrong. If we magnify Christ, all is plain. Leave Him out, or make Him—practically—secondary, and all is confusion.
As to the objection referred to above, an incident occurred some years ago which will furnish us with a satisfactory answer. A lady presented herself at a meeting in London wishing to break bread. She had been in fellowship at one of those indifferent gatherings, but said she had been ignorant of the doctrinal question. The brothers to whom she applied, believed her to be honest.
They, however, thought it right to enter into a conversation with her, to ascertain whether she might not, perhaps unwittingly, have imbibed some of those fatally erroneous doctrinal notions. And, behold, in the course of that conversation it became but too evident that she, though unwittingly, had imbibed not a few of them. Of course, she could not be admitted that morning, but had first to be convinced and delivered as to those errors, before she could be “received to the glory of God.” What would have been the consequence if she had been received without such helpful conversation? She would have, just as unwittingly as she had received them, imparted those poisonous doctrinal notions to the minds of other saints in that meeting, perhaps to some of the young. Thus the deadly poison would have been gradually instilled into the meeting.
What has been said shows the indispensable necessity for the greatest watchfulness and care in such cases of impure, God-and-Christ-dishonoring doctrines with their destructive effect upon the children of God. True love for the sheep and lambs of Christ ought to make us all the more careful for them, even where that love might have the appearance of harshness, lest they should be led astray by false shepherds to poisoned pastures. In a meeting where evil doctrine is treated with indifference, i.e. tolerated and harbored, the spiritual atmosphere becomes more or less impregnated with unsound doctrinal notions, though the open teaching and confession of them may be carefully avoided. The doctrinal virus which, though perhaps at first in small quantities, is floating in the air. The devil does not administer the poison to souls by spoonfuls, but in drops, or homeopathic doses, so to speak. It acts more gradually, but all the more sure in its effects on account of being not perceived. For instance, some one in such a meeting uses an ambiguous expression as to the person of Christ, talking about the “sinless infirmities of our blessed Lord.” That expression falls not only upon the ears, but sinks into the minds and hearts of the hearers, who think it quite harmless, the suspicious word “infirmities,” applied to the person of Christ, being guarded by the preceding word “sinless.” Now we know that all human infirmities are the result of man's fall and sin. Hunger and thirst, weariness with its consequence, sleep—are not “infirmities.” Adam and Eve were hungry and ate before they sinned, a deep sleep fell upon Adam before his fall. God had made man perfect. But infirmity implies imperfection, which is the effect of sin, as death is its wages.
“But,” some might say, “do you think that some erroneous notions, floating in the atmosphere of a meeting and thus ignorantly received, could have such an injurious effect upon the souls of honestly ignorant Christians?”
Indeed, they have. I will explain what I mean, by a simple illustration. I remember when a student at the University of Berlin, one day hearing of a remarkable incident which happened in one of the offices of the Ministry of Finance. Several of the officials had been taken ill. At last one of them died suddenly. This led to a close examination of the walls of the office which were painted green. It was then found that the paint contained a great deal of arsenic, and the rooms being heated to a high degree, the atmosphere had become impregnated with the arsenic, to the serious injury of the health of the occupants of those rooms, and with fatal effect upon one of them. Thus their constitutions had been gradually poisoned, without their being aware of it. Were they less injured, because they were ignorant of the presence of the poison? It is just the same as to the effect of doctrinal poison upon the spiritual constitution of Christians.
Those who seek to cover their lukewarmness about the honor of our Savior with the cloak of Christian love and large-heartedness, are often heard to say, that we must admit to the Lord's table every one who has life from God, provided he walks consistently. But suppose, some one came from a neighboring country where the pestilence is raging, the question would not be whether he is dead or alive, but whether he is infected or not. He would be put under quarantine for some time till it became evident that he had not been infected. It would be in vain for him to say, that he does not feel that he is infected. He might have borne the germ of the malady within himself for some days, without being aware of it. Besides, is it consistent for a Christian to be indifferent to a true Christ?
One word more in conclusion. Take the case of some unnatural son having written and published a disgraceful libel against his father. What would be the effect of his scandalous conduct? Why, not only the mother but every right-minded member of the family would insist on the immediate withdrawal of the disgraceful paper on the part of that degenerate son, and on his penitent confession at the feet of the outraged parent. The author of that paper might have been a very kind brother toward his brothers and sisters. Would this be a reason for them to wink at his terrible sin, or to be less jealous for the honor of their father? On the contrary their love for the erring brother, however deeply grieved, as well as their reverence for their common parent, would equally impel them to insist on either the withdrawal of the bad paper, or the removal of the disgraceful son from the house, if all exhortations had proved fruitless. Would not every member of the family that would continue friendly intercourse with the wicked offender, just as if nothing had happened, rightly be looked at as taking the part of the unnatural son? (2 John 11). And if in such a case a decisive procedure becomes imperative in a respectable natural family, how much more in the family, the house, of the living God, when His own and His Son's honor is at stake.

Christ's Obedience and Ours

The obedience of Christ was marked by the unvarying character of perfect uniformity with the Father's will; and the manner of His compliance with that will was always unhesitating and unquestioning. So that His obedience was of the very highest order. There is an obedience among men which is the result of persuasion or even fear, as when an adverse will is overcome by tender entreaties or powerful reasons or a superior will. But the Lord's obedience was not of any such nature. It was His very meat to do the will of Him that sent Him. “I delight to do Thy will, O My God.” His own will never asserted or exercised itself but in one direction alone; and that, in faultless unison with the Father's. In connection with this thought, it will be observed that the Spirit of God, in witnessing of the obedience of Christ, uses a term highly expressive of its character. The word employed is always ὑπακοή, or its cognate forms, indicating how completely He was governed by what He heard from God. So the prophet had testified beforehand, “He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” (Isa. 1:4). This position of continual dependence the Lord never left. “I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear I judge.” “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do “(John 5:19-30). In contrast with the men around Him, self as a ruling motive was obliterated and the spring of His actions lay without Himself in the Divine Will. “If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak from myself. He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory” (John 7:17, 18, R. V.)
Never had there been or could have been such obedience on earth, nor even in heaven. For although the will of God was and is perfectly done above, the angels only fulfill the purpose of their creation in “hearkening to the voice of His word.” But this obedient Man, scorned for that very reason by all the disobedient, was the beloved Son of God in Whom He was well pleased. It was the transcendent dignity of His Person that elevated the obedience beyond compare, to say nothing of the adverse and afflicting circumstances in which it was rendered up to death, and what a death! As the eternal Son, He was the ruler over all. From the meanest creature on earth to the archangel on high nothing stirred but at His bidding. Yet “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). What a marvel was this, that the divine Son should become a bondman and “learn” (subjection being foreign to the Lord of all) “obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8). And the lesson was learned perfectly. From first to last not a single exhortation was needed; for, without exception, He invariably did those things that pleased His Father.
This obedience was unparalleled, and gave infinite satisfaction to God. By so much as He was displeased by the disobedience of Adam, by that much, and far more, was He pleased by the obedience of the Second Man. Not, however, that the obedience was primarily on man's account, nor in any proper way, or strict sense, vicarious; but therein God found a perfect answer upon earth to the divine mind in heaven. Christ alone, as being ever the dependent and subservient One up to the death of the cross, was worthy to be Head of the new creation. In the very particular wherein Adam failed, Christ perfectly glorified His Father and His God upon the earth. Therefore all that are Christ's are bound to exhibit the same moral attitude toward Him Who has called them. For as surely as we are elect, sanctified, and sprinkled, so surely are we called unto the obedience of Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 1:2). This not only refers to outward action but we are to bring into captivity every thought even to “the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). And the significance of this phrase is not so much that we are to obey Christ as our Master—which, of course, is in itself true—but rather that the peculiar kind of obedience which characterized Christ should characterize us. There had been obedience of old. “By faith Abraham obeyed” both in leaving his father's country and in offering his son (Heb. 11:8, Gen. 22:18). Again, the allusion seems to be to Israel's obedience of the law under the sanction of death set forth in the victim's blood sprinkled on all concerned. But the obedience of the Son transcended all and afforded an example beyond all. He lived upon every word proceeding out of the mouth of God, His life, as a Man, being the prompt and joyful response below to the divine will above. He obeyed as a Son; while we also are privileged to obey as children. This is in entire contrast with legal obedience in view of a threat or a reward.
And no less than this is what God looks for in His saints.
When the Spirit portrays in detail the incomparable stoop of grace, He precedes it by the exhortation “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). Conformity to Christ commences in the heart and mind. So that the mind of the saint, like that of his Exemplar, should ever be open for directions from above. Obedience is implicit subjection to that which is heard. This principle marks even the initial stage of the believer's life. The ὑπακοή of faith, was the aim of Paul's preaching (Rom. 1:5; 16:26), for faith cometh by hearing, “ἀκοή” (Rom. 10:17). And no saint, however advanced, gets beyond dependence on the word of God. The most obedient child is the one whose words and ways are most influenced by the scriptures. Not the dull, wearisome, legal-minded, external conformity tp His word, because such and such is known to be His will, and, therefore, must be obeyed; but a running in the way of His commandments a saintly alacrity in divine things, a holy anxiety to know His will and to do it. Such a cheerful obedience to His revelation will be a savor of Christ in His people, well pleasing before Him. And is not this worth seeking? Thank God, He has made us “partakers of the divine nature” and given us of His Spirit, in order that the task may not be in vain. W. J. H.

Teaching of the Twelve Apostles: Review

Such is the title of a recently discovered Greek MS.; or perhaps, more literally, the longer and more pretentious form, “Teaching of the Lord, through the Twelve Apostles, to the Gentiles.” Meager and incorrect, it serves to manifest the melancholy and rapid decline of the second century from revealed truth. The MS. is of the 11Th century, and was found a few years ago by Philotheos Bryennios, who afterward became Metropolitan of Nicomedia, in the library of the Patriarch of JeruSalem in Constantinople. Any scholar can see the strong analogies between it and both the Epistle of the Pseudo-Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas, which have been generally referred to the beginning and middle of the second century. Some have argued for its priority even to the former; but even the enthusiastic discoverer does not contend for so early a date as either. The sole value of them all is their united yet unwitting evidence how grievously the church had fallen through Judaism. The exaggerated estimate of the late discoveries, formed by men of various schools in our day, demonstrates the same thing now. In the whole treatise of sixteen chapters, if we except the Lord's prayer and a few texts substantially drawn from scripture, there is not one sentence of weighty truth, not one which indicates the enjoyment of the liberty of Christ, no distinctness as to redemption, not an inkling of the presence of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, nor of the heavenly relationship of the church, nor of the special privileges of the Christian.
It is worse than defective, as may be shown by a brief notice of chap. 1. only. In it the law usurps the place of the gospel from first to last. Clearly the writer had before him, besides the Old Testament, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, the Gospel of John, the Epistles to the Romans and the Corinthians, and that of James; but where is true intelligence of anything? All is letter, and not spirit. There is no testimony how souls receive life, so as to take its way and refuse the broad road of death; no right. sense expressed of that grace which alone keeps by the power of God through faith. What a contrast with Rom. 5 or 8., which last shows us how the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in those that walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit! So it is with Rom. 13 where love, in us impossible apart from faith and life in Christ, is truly said to be the fulfillment of the law, which the law itself never did make good. Still less is the doctrine an approach to that in the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians and in the First of John.
The writer interpolates “fasting” unwarrantably into his citation of Matt. 5:44, and holds out a false promise to those that love such as hate them (“But love ye those that hate you and ye shall have no enemy”). Had the author never weighed the death of Stephen, or of James the son of Zebedee, or of others who were slain for Christ's sake, to say nothing of Himself, the substance and test of all truth? It is amazing that any Christian should think that this weak and even false expectation could be a probable oral tradition of the Master's words. No doubt as an ordinary rule those zealous of good disarm the injurious, as 1 Peter 3 shows from Psa. 34. But the same apostle teaches that our place is to do good, suffer for it, and take it patiently, which is certainly not law but grace; as Christ also suffered for us, leaving an example that we should follow His steps. Even this Teaching goes on to cite words quite incompatible with his preceding comment; but when he adds “for thou canst not,” he exaggerates, unless he means consistently with grace. Indeed his remarks are singularly poor everywhere and in no case suggest a single oral tradition worthy of the Savior. How strange, in the face of Matt. 5:42, to fancy some traditional commandment of the. Lord on the subject of giving! And it is really too bad for any sensible Christian to say of the closing sentence (“Let thine alms sweat into thy hands, as long as thou knowest to whom thou givest") that it clearly refers to some unwritten saying of authority spoken by our Lord! or by one of His near followers. Most men instructed in the truth and at home in the scriptures will rather judge it as vulgar in style, as beneath inspired sentiment. Indeed it is hard to reconcile with what goes before or with our Lord's words.
There is little or nothing noteworthy in chaps. 2., 3., save perhaps the sentence which Clement of Alex. quotes as scripture from this treatise, “My child, be not a liar, for a lie leads to theft.” It would be as true to say, “Be not a thief, for theft leads to lying.” Neither sentiment is scriptural, but wholly beneath its tone. But chap. 4. opens with a call to honor him that speaks God's word as the Lord or Jehovah (for it is anarthrous) and for the strange reason, for, when the lordship is spoken of, then the Lord is. Soon after, in urging liberality, comes the word, “If thou professest, by thy hands thou shalt give ransom, or redemption, for thy sins.” What sort of doctrine is this? Not God's but man's. It is in vain to refer to Dan. 4:27, where the prophet exhorts the vain and self-willed king, not to ransom, but to break off his sins by righteousness (the LXX say “by alms"), and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor (or afflicted), “if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” How sober is the divine word, as man's is wild and false! I am aware of the effort to make the Chaldee version utter a similar error, and how Greek and Latin and other superstitious minds seized it. But De Dieu and others long ago refuted the heterodoxy, and on linguistic ground. The A. and R. Vv. are right. It is useless to pursue the review into less weighty questions; but in these, too, the treatise departs from scripture.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:21-23

The singular formation of woman is another detail reserved by the Holy Spirit for the section of Jehovah Elohim. Nor could it be appropriately elsewhere, supposing one inspired writer to have indited the preceding section as well as this. In the general account of creation Elohim made man in His image after His likeness, with dominion over all that peopled sea and sky, the earth and all that crept upon it. Or, as it is summed up, Elohim made Man in His image, in the image of Elohim created He him; male and female created He them. Impossible to conceive a more distinctive and express place assigned to the race from its beginning, with marked pre-eminence over all those creatures here below, as God's viceroy and their head on earth. Yet, whatever its exclusion of the evolutionary fable, and the more evidently inspired because it is by anticipation in the simple statement of the truth, special relationships are untouched. Creature nature and position are alone laid down with perfect precision and in language as noble as all was very good even in the Creator's estimate.
From 2: 4 on the other hand we receive an equally fine and suitable development of man's moral constitution and the special scene of his probation in the garden of Eden with its mysterious trees, and his relations, not only to God on the tenure of obedience, but to the subject creatures as their appointed lord, peculiarly also and with the nicest care to woman as counterpart. Hence here only do we hear of Man formed by Jehovah Elohim, dust of the ground, yet the breath of life by Him inbreathed only into his nostrils; so that he alone thus became a living soul. How admirably each in place, Elohim's image in ch. i., constituted a living soul by Elohim's direct inbreathing in ch. 2., yet outwardly dust, His offspring thus as no other on earth was! The perfectness of the revelation is clear from the impossibility of displacing a single particular of either account, which is at once intelligible if the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write both; whereas it would only add to the magnitude of the miracle, where all miracle is denied, if we imagine two uninspired men writing two accounts going over the same ground in part at least, neither inconsistent in any respect yet without repetition, each true to an evident and most important design, and together issuing in a complete result, necessary to give the believer intelligence in the truth of creation and in the moral mind of God so far as it was then revealed.
The material differences, as well as those of form, flow from the design of each and are the more strikingly instructive as indited by the same writer. To assume that they preclude their being the work of the same hand is ignorance of scripture and of the power of God. That creation should be revealed in a style un ornate, measured, precise, with its recurring forms of expression, exactly suits a subject matter so majestic. That the revelation of the moral place of Man, in relation to all above him and beneath him and in the nearest association with him, should be couched in special terms freer and more varied, with a fullness and picturesqueness of detail out of keeping with the generality of creation pure and simple, is just what was requisite. What more worthy of creation than “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast”? And so it is in Gen. 1-2:3. But from 2:4 et seqq., how proper and affecting the change to Jehovah Elohim “fashioning” Man, and subsequently “in-breathing” the breath of life, “planting” a garden in Eden for him, and “placing,” “taking,” “setting” him there with its two trees, suited to that scene and time and object, and no other, and with a described environment as full of interest as expressive of goodness on His part; then again bringing the inferior animals to their rightful lord; and, as the suited crown, bringing the woman whom He had “builded” from one of his ribs to fill that place of helpmeet, the lack of which all other creatures only made more apparent!
To call this a “duplicate” of the account of creation is the dregs of skeptical criticism, “higher criticism” only in the eyes Of men divinely ignorant and unsteadfast, who wrest these as also the other scriptures unto their own destruction. No doubt a different hand might account for separate accounts with varied phraseology and style, and distinct objects in each, and this regularly reappearing throughout. But the beauty, truth, and power of inspiration are only maintained by the inbreathed power of God, which enabled the same writer to vary his style and representation, in accordance with the varying design of the narrative, marked by the divine name employed as each part required with all its suited concomitants. We may see in every instance that the unbelieving hypothesis miserably fails to explain the phenomena, or the facts, which to the believer make manifest the divine energy that inspired Moses as every other writer of scripture. It is a libel to impute inconsistencies and contradictions. None but an enemy so says or thinks. To call, a wholly distinct aspect bringing forward different objects, an inconsistency, yet more a contradiction, is not criticism, but ill will. How absurd in the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” to set chap. 2. on its union and external prosperity as a contradiction of chap. 1. on its extent and military forces! Yet this is a merely human view, immeasurably short of the comprehensiveness, and depth, the far reaching wisdom and prophetic scope, of the divine word.
In the verses before us is another example falling under the same principles. “And Jehovah Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man; and he slept. And He took one of his ribs, and closed up flesh in its stead. And the rib which Jehovah Elohim had taken from the man He built into a woman, and. brought her unto the man. And the man said, This time [it is] bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh this shall be called Woman [Ishshah], because out of man [Ish] was taken this” (Gen 2:22-23).”
Apples of gold truly in baskets of silver! The God Who wrought has communicated the truth worthily to us. He would give man the boon of companionship, the joy of fellowship, the interchange of affection; and as the end into good, so the way. For He threw the man into an ecstasy, as the LXX. render it, that he might not feel painfully, yet know perfectly what God was giving him. It was not a separate human being independent of Adam, nor yet a female half severed from the male half of a Janus-like creature as Rabbins fancy. It was not from the head nor from the feet, an absolute equal nor an utter inferior, but from his side, as has been remarked by others, of old, the object of nearest love and sustaining cafe, an associated yet dependent sharer of all joy, and sorrow.
As Jehovah Elohim deigned to build his rib into an Ishah (woman), so He brought her to the man, the highest and best form of marriage; a source never absent from faith at any time, but as it was then, how admirably suited to primeval simplicity in the innocence of both! He who knew all had said that it was not good for the man to be alone. The recognition of Adam's authority in giving a name to the inferior creation only made the gap more sensible. And now that the woman was received as it were from the divine hand, not from Elohim only but from Him Who in all His action here recorded was laying perfectly the ground for mutual duty in the relationship of marriage, “the man said, This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: this shall be called Ishah, for out of Ish was taken this.” He was instantly conscious of the intimate and suited relationship, though hitherto unacquainted with the divine purpose; and he gave her a name admirably expressive of the fact. How poor are all the imaginations of man on this theme in presence of the truth thus revealed to us! But it, could be appropriately communicated, not under the head of creation simply (Elohim), but of its moral government (Jehovah Elohim). So simple, sure, and unforced is the usage of the divine designations here employed, without the crude, superficial, and skeptical hypothesis of distinct writers, destructive as it is of all real intelligence, and of that good and profoundly wise design for God's glory which is the surest mark of inspiration from first to last.
Attention may also be drawn to the refutation which the simple facts here revealed give to the vain hypothesis that the use of intelligible. speech was a human invention. We need not quarrel in the least with the science of language, any more than with other Science. The ablest of comparative philologists cannot rise above the root welds in the Aryan, Semitic, and Turanian families of speech, pointing to a common source, the darkness of which science utterly fails to penetrate. Nor need it be doubted that imitative sounds and interjectional cries have added to the force and variety of language since early days. It is only when speculators cry up their little contributions, as if they were an adequate account of the origin of language, that they expose themselves to the derision of the Bow-wow and the Pooh pooh theories. For those who believe the word of God the question does not exist. It is certain that Elohim blessed our first parents, and said to them, Be fruitful, &c. It is certain that, When moral relations were established, Jehovah Elohim brought the subject creatures to Adam as to their lord for the names he would give them. Even before this the man had received the injunction imposed on his tenure of the garden with the solemn sanction of death on disobedience; as after naming the animals Adam intelligently expresses the woman's nature and relation to himself in a way beyond all Rabbins on the one hand and all philosophers on the other throughout the ages, giving her and self names accordingly.
To deny the reality of all this is worthy of the, irrationalism of the Rationalist. It is untrue that God addressed the sea monsters and their congeners, though He blessed them. It is the revealed fact that He did from the first address Man. He puts honor on His word throughout; but He “commanded” in ch. 2. as Jehovah Elohim, and was thoroughly understood. So Adam is declared to have exercised speech according to that power of God, alone suited to the beginning, which formed him a grown man in mind as well as in body, and with language as set over the animal kingdom, and with woman the meet companion of his life, where imitative lessons or interjectional outbursts could have no place, any more than rootwords.
This is the truth; and reason is bound to admit that it is as worthy of God as suited to man: even the vain Rousseau, after all sorts of efforts to account for it, was “convaineu de l'impossibilite, presque mantra, que les langues aient pit naltre, et s'etablir, Dar des moyens purement humaines.” (Inegal. des Hammes.) That Adam at once named the animals brought to him; that he learned to speak from their cries is an infidel reverie, not, an honest exegesis. Science even in its lowest yet haughtiest form, the Positive Philosophy of Comte, abandons all inquiry into the beginning of things as hopeless, abjures causes, and heeds nothing but the laws of phenomena. Rational science undertakes to treat of no more than the established course of nature; but absolute silence about the beginning! It can give no light on the ultimate producing cause; yet a beginning, a primordial and permanent producing cause, there must have been; and this, whatever the mode or means employed, was none other than God.
To unfold creation is not the function of science, which therefore, if alone, leaves men infidel. But scripture supplies what science stops short of, speaks with divine authority and admirable clearness to the open ear, and makes the truth a matter of testimony, not reasoning, and hence adapted to all who believe. This was the way and the pleasure of God, if it is not to the taste of men apt to boast of a little science or learning. As the Hindu could not go beyond his imaginary tortoise, neither can the boldest modern speculator beyond the blank wall which bounds his array of secondary causes. Yet to assume that there is nothing, and no one, behind the blank wall is evidently on man's own ground illogical; for he is wholly ignorant. God Who created all knows all, and has revealed what no science can teach, what is of all moment for man to learn; not creation only, but redemption in Christ the Lord. But all have not faith; and faith alone receives what God alone wrought and revealed, momentous to understand on His authority in order to be saved from the lie of the enemy.

Eliab and David

“Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
1 Sam. 16
In refusing his own thoughts and receiving the thoughts of God a man is blessed. The parents of our race were quick to feel the ruin in which their sin had plunged them, and they became absorbed with their thoughts of a remedy. The abundance of Eden was then of less value to them than a few fig leaves to hide their shame. Had they called on the mountains to cover them and the rocks to hide them, it would have availed them as little as the work of their hands. Then the Lord God, the Creator of all things, stooped to make for them coats of skin and clothed them. Notwithstanding their changed circumstances they had greater cause for joy out of Eden than when in it, for they knew the Lord better; they knew that His thoughts were thoughts of peace and not of evil, while their own were vain.
In the period we are considering, Saul was man's remedy for Israel's shame and sorrow. He was to unite the twelve tribes under one head, to judge them and lead them to victory; and the joy in Israel when he was made king was greater, doubtless, than when the self-invented coverings were completed. Both failed; and shame and grief, trouble and confusion, followed. Nothing of man was left in either case to trust in. A second apron, or a second Saul, would prove as disappointing as the first. It was not the thought of God that they should try. He, Who in His mercy made a covering for Adam, raised up David for Israel.
We enter upon his history in chap. 16., and at once we learn how little in harmony with the mind of God are the natural feelings and thoughts of the best of men. Samuel, after all his ministry as a prophet and a judge, and his experience of men, had yet important lessons to learn. He was still in trouble about Saul. He had left him, but had not in heart done with him. There was that about him that detained his thoughts, and the Lord in his grace would deliver him from all this. He said to Samuel, “How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided me a, king among his sons.”
Was it not natural for Samuel's thoughts to linger over Saul? Had he not kissed him, honored him, served him, and hoped in him? It was quite natural, but not divine. The Lord had rejected him, and Samuel must yield up his own thoughts and accept those, now clearly revealed, of God. “I have rejected” — “I have provided” —were words of unspeakable mercy to Israel, the way of the Lord's intervention, the only way of their deliverance and blessing. And Samuel accepted them, though he faltered through the fear of man. “How can I go?” he said, “If Saul hear it, he will kill me.” This unhappy interruption has given occasion to cavilers to suggest that, in directing him to take a heifer and to offer sacrifice, there was something like prevarication, a covering of his real errand by an ostensible one. There is not the slightest ground for this unhallowed thought. The Lord was about to instruct His servant as to an indispensable prerequisite to David's anointing when He thus broke in with his fears. In Saul's case there were no such instructions; but for David all was ordered of God, even to so small a matter as a horn full of oil instead of a vial of oil, “scanty and brittle,” as used for Saul.
The Lord God is now looking beyond Israel. His words to Samuel, “How long wilt thou mourn?” are addressed, we may say, with far deeper meaning to all who are weary and heartsore because of sin. It is no question now of Israel's need, of Saul and of David; but of soul need, of self, and of Christ. We may have done the best for self we could, have served it, honored it, loved it (for who so dear as self?), hoped in it, and yet been disappointed. As Samuel mourned for Saul, we may mourn over ourselves. Is this wrong? Far from it. The deeper our abhorrence of ourselves (Job 42:6), the better. The question is not “Why dost thou mourn? “, but “How long wilt thou mourn?” “I have rejected” — “I have provided” —rejected the flesh and all its efforts and doings, and provided Christ. God looks at the heart, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit to tell us what He sees there, its desperate wickedness. But the same Spirit testifies of Jesus—the Lamb of God's providing —taking our place in judgment and giving Himself a ransom for us. We need both. Not only “I have rejected,” but “I have provided.” Christ is provided. Salvation is secured; and when Christ is received by faith, “He is all.” The Spirit of God, unless grieved, occupies us with Him and not with ourselves. Souls under law invariably make “I” predominant; under grace “Not I, but Christ.”
To return to the history. Samuel, as instructed of the Lord, sanctified Jesse and his sons and called them to the sacrifice. “And it came to pass when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
This, we must remember, was the age of the law. The Jewish system, as we read in Heb. 9:13, provided for the purification, ceremonially, of the flesh; so that Samuel (without seeking to know the real state of Jesse and his sons, the state of the heart) could sanctify them according to the ordinances of the law; and he did so. But he was tempted to go beyond this, as are many who take Jewish ground, and rest much on ordinances. If all be fair to the sight, if the conduct be well regulated, and religious duties and services be diligently and devoutly fulfilled, what more will the Lord require? The simple but momentous answer is—the heart. Eliab's heart was separated from God. We see it in the next chapter (ver. 28). He was a scorner, the first to openly resent the operations of divine grace in David—as the flesh, in spite of its religion, always does; yet the prophet, deceived by appearances, thought him suited for the service of the Lord, the chosen ruler over His inheritance. Happily, however, Samuel had been long trained in subjection to the word of God. “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth,” was the formative principle of his character from childhood. He at once left Eliab—where the Lord left him— “refused” as also the rest of the sons of Jesse who were brought before him; until David, evidently little thought of or cared for in his own family, and not even called to the sacrifice, was by commandment brought from the sheepfolds into his presence. Then “the Lord said, Arise, anoint him, for this is he.”
It is most helpful to souls to have such living examples of dependence and subjection, as here in Samuel, and of electing grace, as in David. Eliab was more attractive to sight than his youngest brother, who was left in the retirement and obscurity which doubtless he preferred. He stood higher in position, and, as the first-born, evidently desired pre-eminence. He was, moreover, devout and honorable, as is said even of enemies of the truth (Acts 13:50). We cannot question that Satan has pressed such men forward in the church, and they have got into the place of rule and authority, and “have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom the Lord hath not made sad, and strengthened the hands of the wicked.” It would have been so at this time in Israel, had Samuel acted on his own thoughts; and where would the nation have sunken if Eliab had succeeded Saul? God must be sovereign, or ruin, universal and without remedy, would be inevitable. God refuses, and God chooses, and there is no unrighteousness with Him (Rom. 9). This was Samuel's lesson, as it is ours. The purpose of God, according to election, stands; so
“He chose David also his servant,
And took him from the sheepfolds;
From following the ewes great with young he brought him
To feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.” (Psa. 78)
Every incident in the history of this distinguished example of electing grace must be of deep and abiding interest, and the inspired records are ample. We not only have his doings fully and faithfully disclosed, but the secret exercises of his soul are revealed. We know more of him by his Psalms than from the narrative of his life. We learn from the latter how he served his generation by the will of God, but from the former how he has served all succeeding generations by his inspired delineations of the ways of God, of the sufferings of Christ, and of the inward experiences of the righteous remnant in Israel, of whom he was a conspicuous example. The most afflicted have received consolation through him, the most despairing, hope, and the most timid, courage. As “a companion of all them that fear the Lord and keep His precepts,” he is unequaled among the saints of old.

Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 10-11

Now all apparently depends on man's faithfulness, and necessarily the brightness is increasingly overshadowed until completely extinguished. The distant, as yet, black cloud had its beginning in Rehoboam's reign, morally its dark shadow began when Solomon multiplied his wives; it was the penumbra of the coming eclipse. In such a crowd of heathen women is it a wonder that Rehoboam proves to be a foolish son and constrained Solomon to say, “A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her that bare him.” His first act was one of extreme folly more like the cruel despotism of an oriental tyrant than of wisdom that should have characterized the son of Solomon. But this folly, the immediate cause and occasion of the revolt of the ten tribes, is the consequence and fruit of Solomon's sin, and the beginning of the public manifestation of divine wrath. Solomon in his later years made Israel's yoke heavy, he chastised them with whips, but Rehoboam's foolish resolve brought their discontent to a head and the slumbering tribal jealousy now blazes forth with increased virulence and a leader appears who gives form and cohesion to the rebellious spirit of the ten tribes. A prophet had told Jeroboam that he should rule over them. This man is the appointed executor of God's judgment, and a breach is made in Israel which will only be healed when the true and wise King shall come and sit on the throne.
When Rehoboam gathered an army to punish the revolted tribes he is forbidden by the Lord. “Ye shall not go up to fight against your brethren: return every man to his own house: for this thing is done of me” (11: 4). They obeyed. This seems like bowing to God's judgment; and for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon. The priests and the Levites leave their possessions and come to Jerusalem; for Jeroboam's policy would I not permit them to execute the priest's office unto the Lord. And so they strengthened the kingdom of Judah. For three years this foolish son acted wisely. Yet that the glory of Solomon's earlier years was gone, what greater proof than Rehoboam building and fortifying cities in Judah? Against whom? Against Israel, as against others. While he dealt wisely, he prospered. But the same snare which caused Solomon's fall brings Rehoboam into more open guilt. And the people follow him, true then as the prophet said later, “My people love to have it so.” When he had strengthened himself he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. Why is it said here, “all Israel with him” when the ten tribes had forsaken the law and the temple led by Jeroboam's priests? May it not be that Judah is called Israel as remaining true to David's house, and so far on covenant ground when the ten tribes had forsaken it and morally were no longer Israel, which name is here limited to the two tribes which slave to the house of David and to the temple? The priests and the Levites, who had before left their possessions for the sake of the temple, now follow the king in his departure from the Lord; and thus it is “all Israel with him.”
“This thing is done of me.” This explains how it was that ten tribes as with one mind so suddenly shook off allegiance to the house of David. A fugitive servant no sooner blows his trumpet than they follow him. It was the judgment of the Lord, pronounced in Solomon's day, executed in the days of his son. “But I will take the kingdom out of his son's [Rehoboam's] hand and will give it unto thee [Jeroboam] even ten tribes” (1 Kings 11:35).
There were two great tribes, Ephraim and Judah, and there was exhibited on more than one occasion a spirit of rivalry and jealousy by Ephraim, if not by Judah. God allowed this old rivalry to reappear. It had been repressed under the splendor of the reigns of David and Solomon, but not extinguished; and Rehoboam's folly brought it to the surface as bitter as in times of old. Ephraim, as the representative of Joseph, was always jealous of his birthright privileges and importance, and claimed pre-eminence. For did not all his brethren bow to Joseph? The past history seemed to confirm his claims. He was in the first rank in their march through the wilderness. Manasseh, though the elder, was officially and prophetically placed second by Jacob (Gen. 48:19). Ephraim resented the prominence of Judah. Was not Joshua an Ephraimite? and he was their great leader after Moses. Samuel was born within the borders of their lot. Shechem and Shiloh were places of renown and of resort for all Israel, and these places were in their territory. All these, if not advantages, were circumstances which would lead the other tribes to give Ephraim the most prominent place, which he was not slow to take.
Hence Ephraim had preponderating influence; so much so that in the prophecies the ten tribes are often called Ephraim. See their jealousy in not being foremost in Gideon's victory over, the Midianites (Judg. 8). His meek answer mollified their wrath. The same spirit was seen when Jephthah had overcome the Ammonites. In this case they were called, and refused. Nevertheless they resented his victory. Who was Jephthah, the child of a concubine? Should Ephraim follow him? But the man they despise is victorious; and this they resent. It was resenting the mercy of God Who had wrought a great deliverance for them. Their jealousy rose to the extent of civil war, in which they were defeated. This defeat apparently kept them quiet even when Saul the Benjamite was made king. And there was no pretext for manifesting it (save in the case of Sheba, 2 Sam. 20) during the lives of David and Solomon. It was the folly of Rehoboam that gave occasion for its reappearance, never to depart till the true and wise King comes, Who will unite in His own Person the power of the Ruler, and the privileges and glory pertaining to the birthright.
Judah may have taunted Ephraim that the Ruler came not from Ephraim, and then what was the advantage of having the birthright? Ephraim envied Judah the privilege and honor of giving the Ruler which naturally belonged to him who held the birthright. In the coming day Ephraim will acknowledge that the birthright is His Who fulfills in His own Person the original promise when He appears to reign over all Israel. “The envy also of Ephraim shall depart and the adversaries [? Ephraim] of Judah shall be cut off. Ephraim shall not envy Judah and Judah shall not vex Ephraim” (Isa. 11).
As we read that Solomon loved many strange (foreign) women, and then of the establishment of idolatry; so here is the turning point in Rehoboam's prosperity: “he desired many wives” and then when he was strengthened in his kingdom, he forsook the law of the Lord. The next recorded event is the invasion by Shishak king of Egypt, the Holy Spirit expressly adding, “because they had transgressed against the Lord” (ch. 12).

The Psalms Book 2: 68-69

The first of these psalms fittingly, as regards those we have seen, and splendidly sets forth the glory in which the rejected Christ makes good the purposes of God with His people and Zion as the earthly center, but from above; and hence appropriately cited by the apostle in Eph. 4. There is also an allusion full of interest to Num. 10:35, but with a notable difference. Moses before Israel in the wilderness said, Rise up, Jehovah, and let Thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee. Here it is Elohim. Each is precisely right, and Elohim as little in keeping for Moses as Jehovah for the psalm, which has Elohim throughout as the expression of faith for a day of confusion when covenant was not enjoyed, anticipating God's intervention in Christ from on high after He had suffered to the uttermost. Indeed the psalm abounds in divine titles, as Jah, Adonai, El, Shaddai; but the staple unequivocally is Elohim, and Jehovah is only used for His dwelling on Zion when power and grace meet for His people blessed evermore under Messiah and the new covenant. Sheer spiritual ignorance invented the will-o-the wisp of Elohistic and Jehovistic documents: evidently inapplicable here, really everywhere, in no case giving a key to the mind of God as the truth does.
Psalm 68
“To the chief musician, of David, a psalm, a song. Let God arise, and his enemies be scattered, and those that hate him flee from before him. As smoke is driven, thou wilt drive away; as wax melteth before fire, the wicked shall perish from before God. And the righteous shall be glad, they shall exult before God and rejoice with gladness. Sing unto God, sing praises to His name; cast up a way for him that rideth in the deserts: his name [is] Jah, and exult before him. A father of orphans and a judge of widows [God is] in the habitation of his holiness. God maketh the solitary to dwell in houses; prisoners he maketh to come forth in prosperity: surely rebels dwell in a parched land. O God, in thy going out before thy people, in thy marching in the desert (Selah), the earth trembled, yea the heavens dropped from before God, the God of Israel. A rain of free gifts thou, O God, didst pour; thine inheritance, even when wearied, thou didst establish. Thy flock hath dwelt in it: thou wilt provide in thy goodness for the wretched, O God. Adonai giveth the word: a great host [are] the (women) publishing. Kings of hosts flee, flee, and the housewife divideth the spoil. Though ye lie among the cattle-pens (or ash-grates), [ye shall be like] wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it snoweth in Zalmon. A mount of God [is] mount Bashan; a mount of peaks [is] mount Bashan. Why, mounts of peaks, look ye with envy on the mount God desired for his dwelling; yea, Jehovah will dwell [there] forever. God's chariots [are] two myriads, thousands multiplied: Adonai is in them, [as in] Sinai in the sanctuary. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts in man, yea, rebels also, to dwell [there], Jah Elohim. Blessed [be] Adonai day by day loading us, the God (El) of our salvation. Our God (El) is a God (El) of salvation; and to Jehovah Adonai [belong] the issues from death.
Surely God will smite the head of his enemies, the hairy scalp going on in his guilt. Adonai said from Bashan, I will bring back, I will bring back from the sea, that thou mayest dip thy foot in blood, the tongue of thy dogs its portion from enemies. They saw thy goings, O God, the goings of my God, my King, in the holy place. Before went singers, behind players, in the midst of maidens playing on timbrels. In assemblies bless ye God Adonai, [ye] from the fountain of Israel. There [is] little Benjamin their ruler, princes of Judah their council, princes of Zebulon, princes of Naphtali. Thy God hath commanded thy strength. Strengthen, O God, what thou hast wrought for us. Because of thy temple at Jerusalem kings shall bring tribute to thee. Rebuke the beasts of the reeds, the crowd of bulls (strong), with the calves of the peoples, [each] crouching with pieces of silver. Scatter the peoples delighting in war. Princes shall come from Egypt, Cush shall haste to stretch out her hands to God. Kingdoms of the earth, sing ye unto God, praise Adonai (Selah), him that rideth on the heavens of old. Lo, he uttereth his voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe ye strength to God: his excellence [is] over Israel and his strength [is] in the skies. Terrible [art thou], O God, out of thy holy place; the God (El) of Israel, he giveth strength and might to the people. Blessed [be] God” (vers. 1-36).
Here, where things are out of course, God is counted on, and this by the intervention in heavenly power of Him whose rejection was the fullest evidence of the state of the Jews as well as of man. But He Who had obeyed to the cross and thus glorified God to the uttermost was exalted in the place of indisputable power and glory, and would thence make good the choice of Zion as His earthly dwelling and center, the deliverance and blessing of Israel, once and alas! still “rebellious,” the overthrow of every enemy, even of such as led all captive, to the joy and well-being of all the earth. It is “the regeneration” in prospect.
Psalm 69
“To the chief musician, on Shoshannim (lilies), of David. Save me, God, for the waters have come unto [my] soul. I sink in a deep place of mire where is no standing. I am come into depth of waters, and the flood hath overflowed me. I am wearied in my calling, parched is my throat, failed are mine eyes, while waiting for my God (Eloah). More than the hairs of my head [are] those hating me without cause, strong my destroyer, mine enemies of falsehood: what I took not away, then I restored. O God, thou knowest as to my foolishness, and my trespasses from thee are not hid. Let not those be ashamed in me that wait on thee, Adonai Jehovah of hosts, let not those be disgraced in me that seek thee, God of Israel. For on account of thee I have borne reproach; disgrace hath covered my face. A stranger I am become to my brethren, and an alien to my mother's sons; for the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of those reproaching thee fell on me. And I wept, in the fasting [was] my soul; and it was for reproaches unto me. When I made my clothing sackcloth, I too was to them for a proverb. Those that sit at the gate talk of me, and [I am] songs of drinkers of strong drink. But as for me, my prayer [is] to thee, O Jehovah; (give) an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of thy mercy answer me, in the truth of thy salvation. Deliver me from the mire, and let me not sink; let me be delivered from those hating me, and from the depths of waters. Let not a flood overflow me, and let not the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut its mouth upon me. Answer me, O Jehovah, for good [is] thy mercy; according to the multitude of thy tender mercies turn unto me"; and hide not thy face from thy servant, for I am troubled; speedily answer me. Draw nigh to my soul, redeem it; because of mine enemies, ransom me. Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my disgrace; before thee [are] all mine adversaries. Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am overwhelmed, and I looked for mourning, and there is none, and for comforters, and found none. They gave me also gall for my food, and in my thirst they made me drink vinegar. Let their table before them become a snare, and when at peace a trap; let their eyes be dark from seeing, and their loins continually cause to swerve. Pour upon them thine indignation, and let the heat of thine anger overtake them. Let their habitation be desolate, and in their tents be no dweller. For whom thou hast smitten they persecute, and to the grief of thy wounded ones they talk. Add iniquity unto their iniquity, and let them not come into thy righteousness; let them be blotted from the book of life, and with righteous ones let them not be written. But I [am] poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me on high. I will praise the name of God with a, song, and I will magnify him with thanksgiving. And it shall please Jehovah more than an ox, a bullock horned [and] hoofed. The meek have seen [and] are glad; ye that seek God, your heart shall live. For Jehovah heareth the needy, and despiseth not his prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, seas and everything moving in them. For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, and they shall dwell there and possess it. And the seed of his servants shall inherit it, and the lovers of his name shall dwell in it” (vers. 1-37).
Whatever be the intrinsic glory of Christ, all scripture shows that His sufferings are the ground of His exaltation. So it is here. This psalm tells of His sufferings, though in a way evidently distinct from Psa. 22, where divine abandonment crowns all, as here human evil is prominent and calls for judgment, instead of the grace which is the answer in the former. But He was afflicted in all their affliction, as says the prophet. David was the occasion, but the Spirit of Christ enters into all their wrong doing, not only to vindicate God but to give expression to the confession of the godly remnant, who will thus pour out their heart in the latter day, when His wrath shall fall on their oppressors and betrayers.

We Have Heard Him Ourselves

There is no salvation without the revelation of God to the soul, and this is in Christ His Son. The warrant is the word of God, and now the written word (or scripture) on which rests all the authority of what is preached or spoken. This the Holy Spirit in quickening power carries home to the soul, not only convicting the conscience but winning the heart to God through faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
God graciously employs, not an angel, but a sinner born anew to convey the truth to others, as we see here in Samaria. “And out of that city many of the Samaritans believed on Him because of the word of the woman testifying, He told me all things that I did.” It was a true work of God, and in the ordinary way of grace through the word dealing with the conscience. There was no miracle, any more than persuasive words of human wisdom, but demonstration of the Spirit, that their faith might stand in God's power.
And the Lord Jesus acted in that grace which the apostles only learned in their measure years afterward when propitiation was made and the Spirit was sent down. For when the Samaritans came to Him, they besought Him to abide with them, and He abode there two days. “And many more believed because of His word, and said to the woman. No longer because of thy speaking do we believe; for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
It was the simple and blessed fact for these Samaritans, the beautiful foreshadowing of the true and unchangeable ground of faith for all that should hear and believe the gospel when the Lord would not be personally on earth. Any one and anything may arrest souls by revealed truth; a man, a woman, a child; a sermon, a conversation, a book or a tract. But whatever the means, the soul believes God; and without believing God there is no true faith, no divine authority and grace over heart and conscience.
Hence the Samaritans, struck by the converted woman's testimony, justly bore witness to the word of the Lord Himself. Hearing Him, they knew and believed the love that God has to us. Having received His testimony, they set to their seal that God is true. And as they thus believed God in the full revelation of Himself in Christ, we may surely say of them what scripture attests of Abraham when he believed God in a far less measure of light, that it was counted to them for righteousness. For living faith ever brings the soul before God, where it has His light whereby to judge itself. But God revealed in Man, and that Man His only-begotten Son, brings His love near to the heart in a reality beyond all thought, and rises above all sinfulness, proved (as we can add) in His death, that we might possess known remission of sins through His blood, and thus the conscience purged from dead works to serve a living God.
It is a universal truth, in short, that the sheep hear the Shepherd's voice, and that they follow Him, for they know His voice. What these Samaritans enjoyed as a literal fact is no less true of all who believe the gospel. And Christ came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly; or, as His servant wrote, died for all, that they that live should not henceforth live to themselves but to Him that for them died and was raised. Thus all things are of God Who reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and gave us the service of reconciliation, the spirit of which is plain for the Samaritan woman; as the contrary of it appears in such as place themselves or other men between God and the soul, denying His grace and intercepting His right.
The Lord Jesus was just the One to do the work of God; for as on one side He was God, so on the other He was Man, in one person, come here below to declare God and reveal the Father, to bear the sins in His own body on the tree and thus enable the believer to draw near to God without fear and assured of His perfect love. “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” said the psalmist prophetically (Psa. 40) of Jesus. More than a thousand years after inspired David, wrote one equally inspired to expound him, “by the which will we have been (and are) sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10).
Christ alone reveals God as light and love. By Him alone mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. All other systems, all adversaries of Him, are but thieves and robbers whom the sheep hear not. But His word is as divine as His work. As one of them said, Thou hast words of eternal life; as He said Himself, The words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. When He went away on high, the Holy Ghost was sent down to abide forever with those that believe, to glorify the Son that glorified God the Father, and to guide into all the truth. So that no excuse for unbelief is valid on the score that Jesus is gone. It is expedient for you, said the Lord, that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (Advocate) will not come unto you, but if I go, I will send Him unto you. Thus the Spirit ever fully takes of the things of Jesus and declares them to us, teaches all things, besides bringing to remembrance all that He had said, bears witness of Christ far beyond what the apostles saw or heard though with Thin from the beginning. For the Spirit was sent forth from heaven where Christ is now exalted, as He had indeed many things to say to them, which they could not hear till He was glorified.
How blessed then that, when we hear the apostles' words, it is still Christ speaking in them! If any believe not, it is because they are not of His sheep, the test of whom is that they hear His voice. But He adds “I know them, and they follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall pluck them out of My hand. My Father who gave them to Me is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).

Thoughts on John 16:9

It is not the part of wisdom to deny, but rather freely to acknowledge, that fragments of truth, more or less numerous, are to be found in the ancient philosophies and religious systems. Undoubtedly such are often accompanied by much folly, and perhaps seem all the brighter because of the surrounding darkness. Still they bear eloquent testimony to the fact that God created man upright, whatever his subsequent degeneracy through the fall. But when these philosophers stepped beyond the praise and vindication of morality, it is clear they encountered a serious difficulty, inasmuch as everything of what may be called a constructive character must obviously have been only so much speculation. In other words they could claim no authority, no “Thus saith the Lord,” even if reason (which for the most part it did not) led them up to the conviction of a Supreme Being. Hence one great and broad line of demarcation between the heathen systems and Judaism, which was a revelation of God. The former, even where most incrusted with sound moral notions, when consequently they were at their best, offered, it is needless to say, no anchorage for the soul, being in truth but the surmises of men. Such were the doctrines of Stoics and Epicureans, of Socrates and Plato, and, in more remote antiquity, of Confucius. At their worst these systems were a conglomerate of poetical romancing, e.g. the mythologies of Greece, or they were the monstrous dreams of orientalism: the former beautiful, the latter grotesque, but both corrupt.
But when we come to the New Testament, we have a line still broader and more striking, in that Christianity is not merely a divinely-given unfolding of truths that deeply concerned mankind, as was the Hebrew dispensation, but God revealed in full personality, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In short, as has been often remarked, the religion of Christ is Himself. It is not merely that He speaks with authority, as Moses did, and as heathen teachers could not; but, though the humblest of men and the meekest, He ever enforces His own claims as absolute and unquestionable. He is not merely the prophet like unto Moses, though far greater, come down to inaugurate a loftier system, to exhibit a sublimer abnegation, but He was—is—Himself the center and circumference, the Alpha and Omega, of all that He did and taught. We hear from His own lips that it is in vain to pretend to honor the Father without honoring the Son. Such is our Lord Jesus Christ; and as the Father attested, so the Holy Spirit sealed.
Nor in any portion of Holy Scripture does our Lord more emphatically enforce His claims than in the verse under consideration. The Holy Ghost, we read, would reprove or convict (or haply afford demonstrative proof to) the world “of sin, because they believe not on Me.” It is not because men are base, or deceitful, or immoral, not because of any specially heinous form of violence or corruption, not for one sin, as men count it, singled out of the dark catalog of human misdeeds; but “of sin, because they believe not on Me.” Nor is it hard to understand the reason of our Lord's solemn statement. Clearly unbelief as to Himself, and the refusal of His claims, whether openly aggressive, or coolly indifferent, is the crowning sin of which the human heart can be guilty. Not that in these words of Christ there is any palliation of human evil. If by the law was the knowledge of sin, and by the commandment sin became exceedingly sinful, how much more so when He came, Who was “full of grace and truth,” Who is the truth! What would not the truth and the light make manifest? But when the truth was manifested in its most winning form, that of grace, only to be rejected, evidently sin is not only seen at its blackest because confronted with perfect holiness, but the unbelief that will have none of God's remedy becomes necessarily the sign of utter sinfulness and blindness. We have, as it were, a climax of wickedness in the rejection first of righteousness as under the law, then of the fullness of truth in Christ, nay, of “grace and truth,” grace pre-eminently, but grace made living and energetic by its intimate union with truth. No wonder then if it is written, “Of sin because they believe not on Me.”
How belief in the Son becomes effectual to the salvation of the soul is not the point in this verse. We know it is by His death, and that our Lord is not more surely the Way, the Truth, and the Life, than the propitiation, even as He came “by water and by blood.” But His person is the theme here as the supreme object presented to mankind, and in Whom the Father was to be seen. How admirably in keeping is this verse of John, the latest, with the “Come unto Me” of the earliest Evangelist! one mark out of a myriad of the deep harmonies of the word of God. While critics are occupied in discovering (sometimes, it is to be feared, trying to discover) difficulties and discrepancies in the letter, the humble child of God, better so engaged, will find beauty upon beauty, token upon token, of its incomparable accuracy, in proportion to the diligence of his search, and the reality of his self-distrust.
Finally, we may note that our Lord uttered these words after having declared His manifold offices of mercy and benefaction. He had already said, in words of living power, “I am the Living Bread,” “the Light of the world,” “the Resurrection and the Life,” “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” “the Good Shepherd,” “the True Vine.” May we not liken these glories to so many glowing colors into which the white light of His Deity is refracted in the prism of the Gospels? At any rate in the majestic words, “I am,” which occur so often in John, His Godhead is implicitly conveyed. How great then, unless they repent, the loss of those, whom the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, because they believe not on the Son of God!
R. B. Junr.

Forgiveness of Sins

All forgiveness is founded on the blessed work of the Lord Jesus. Without the work of Christ, a holy and just God (yea, a God of truth) must have held man to be what he really is—a guilty sinner, who must be judged according to his works. And we know beforehand from His word that there is none righteous, no, not one. The love of God, great as it is (so great that for us He did not spare His Son), could not say that sin was not sin, or that He was indifferent to good and evil; for He is not, and in His own nature cannot be. And if He judges, and makes man himself answer for what he has done, He must judge him righteously.
Besides, we are alienated from God in heart and mind, and so really lost already. It is not now meant finally, nor that we cannot be saved out of that state; but if we can, it is because Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. If we come unrepentant and unbelieving before the judgment-seat of Christ, judgment will be according to our works, and therefore condemnation; for all have sinned.
But God is love: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God in grace has thus anticipated that day of judgment. The same blessed Son of God, (who will as Son of man sit on the judgment-seat, and judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom), has already, before that day, come as a Savior, and died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and “he that believeth on the Son of God shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned.” The statement is plain enough and solemn enough without adding anything to it. They die in their sins, and are doubly guilty; they have not only sinned against His holiness, but despised His mercy.
Do we now really in heart believe in the Son of God, with a faith wrought in us by the Holy Ghost, and a conscience which feels the need of grace and forgiveness? For that is the great point—a faith which has wrought true repentance, that godly sorrow and sense that we have deserved to be condemned which make Christ and His grace and His work precious to us. We may have been all brought up to believe in the blessed Lord Jesus as a divine history; but that is very different from believing in Him as meeting the need of an awakened conscience.
But supposing I have this true faith in Him, then it behooves me to be able to say what He has done for me. “He died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3); “He bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24); “He once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
So that here is our question: Supposing I have true heart-faith in Him (Christ having thus died for me), what is the efficacy of His death for me? I have a perfect and eternal forgiveness and redemption according to the glory of God. Those who neglect this great salvation are doubly guilty; but what is the value of His work for those who have really a part in it? “Be it known unto you, therefore, men [and] brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38, 39). “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7); “Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 4:25; 5:1, 2). “By the obedience of One shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). “Whom He justified, them He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). “By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). And its effect is complete— “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (ver. 14).
But is this valid forever?
We have seen that it is eternal redemption, that it purges the conscience from dead works, and gives peace with God; but scripture is more explicit. Christ is always at the right hand of God, and has presented His precious blood to God. It is always before His eyes; but scripture is very distinct on this point— “But This [Man], having offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down at the right hand of God.” He is not, like the Jewish priests, standing continually at the altar, offering sacrifices which could never take away sins (Heb. 10:11); He sat down because, for redemption and forgiveness, He had done already the whole work; for (Heb. 10:14) “by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” He sits there at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool; then He will come to deal with them in judgment. But all is done for His friends (that is, true believers); and He has sat down, having finished the work, so that those who come by it have no more conscience of sins (ver. 2). “Blessed is the man to whom Jehovah will impute no sin.” “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Rom. 4:7, 8). And is it only some of them? No, that were useless. The Holy Ghost testifies of it clearly in the same Heb. 10 from which we have quoted, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (ver 17). And so plainly does He put it that He even declares “where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (ver. 18). So that, if all were not completely pardoned and effaced, there could be no remedy.
The more we consider it, the plainer it is. Christ is the Judge. But if now I can say by faith, He loves me and washed me from my sins in His own blood, how can He, when I stand before the judgment-seat, impute to me the sins He Himself bore away? He would be denying the value of His own work, which is impossible.
Again, if we are believers, we are then raised in glory (1 Cor. 15:43); nay, Christ shall Himself come to present us to Himself, “Who shall change our body of humiliation that it may be fashioned like unto His body of glory.” If Christ comes to fetch us, and puts us in glory, where is the place for raising any question then about our sins? And this is clearly said in John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [judgment], but is passed from death unto life.”
Is it because God is indifferent to the sins? Impossible! But, He having given His Son for us, Christ has borne them already, and cannot impute them to those who believe in Him and in the Father Who sent Him in love. We know that the Lord says, “If ye do not believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). But if we believe in Him, we have the forgiveness of our sins (not of some, to be condemned for the rest). “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more,” because “by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” And we possess the blessedness of this word, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom Jehovah will not impute sin.” Hence repentance and remission of sins were to be preached in Jesus' name. The Christian has a new life from Christ, and this will show itself in his walk. He is born of the Spirit; and the faith in Christ by which he has forgiveness makes Christ everything to him, (as it is written in Col. 3, “Christ is all, and in all” —the “everything,” that is, of our hearts); and He is our life. But I now confine myself to redemption and forgiveness.
There is, then, a forgiveness identified with redemption and the abiding value of Christ's blood, so that our sins are none of them imputed to us: God remembers them no more. We have part in this through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and the door by which we enter is repentance toward God, which faith in the word of Christ always produces. We have our eyes opened, we are turned from darkness to light—from the power of Satan unto God, and we receive remission of our sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Jesus (Acts 26:18).
Under the Old Testament, among the Jews this full forgiveness was not known. They got a kind of absolution for each sin they committed; they were shut out from entering into the holiest by the veil, which hung before the place where God revealed Himself. Thus in Heb. 9 it is written, “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” But, when the real work (of which all these things were figures) was accomplished in the death of the Savior, we learn that the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom (Matt. 27:51). And we are exhorted (Heb. 10:19), in virtue of the work of Christ and the remission of our sins (ver. 17,18), having “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh,” to “draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” That one work done once for all, never to be repeated and effectual to give peace to the conscience, is the ground on which we have eternal redemption, and full forgiveness (so that God remembers our sins and iniquities no more); an entrance into God's presence; and a part in the everlasting inheritance of God's children in glory.
This great difference in the state of believers before and after the death of the blessed Lord is celebrated by Zacharias at the birth of John the Baptist, Christ's forerunner:— “To give knowledge of salvation unto His people, by the remission of their sins” (Luke 1:77). So the repentant thief went straight into paradise with Christ; so to the repentant woman in the city that was a sinner the Lord said, not only, “Thy sins are forgiven thee,” but “Thy faith hath saved thee” (Luke 7:48-50).
There is then for faith a present but eternal forgiveness, founded on Christ's bearing our sins in a work which can never be repeated, its value never diminished, nor anything added to it. God has proved His value of its worth in setting Him Who did it at His right hand in the glory, where He was with Him as Son of God before the world was. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” This cannot be repeated. “Christ is not entered into holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet to offer Himself often... otherwise He must often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the consummation of the ages He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time apart from sin unto salvation.” Those whose sins were put away the first time He comes to take into glory; as to them He will have no more to do with sin, which He was made for them the first time. J. N. D.

Hebrews 7:26-28

The superiority of the true Melchizedek is thus shown in every respect incontestable and manifest; and in the unjealous ways of grace, His purity and His glory are bound up with the heavenly dignity of the believer, as it is here expressed.
“For such a high priest [also] became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens, who hath no need day by day, as the high priests, first for his own sins to offer up sacrifices, then [for] those of the people; for this he did once for all, having offered up himself. For the law appointeth men high priests having infirmity; but the word of the oath-swearing that [was] after the law, a Son perfected forever” (Heb. 7:26-28).
The reason assigned (for the sentence takes that shape) is made all the more striking when compared with a designedly similar one in Heb. 2:10. “For it became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The glory of God, His truth, His justice, had been compromised if sin were not judged unsparingly in His person Whose grace made Him responsible for all its consequences. Therefore did it become God to make Him Who knew no sin sin for us. Here no less wonderfully does the Holy Spirit say that “it became its” to have a high priest in every point of view and beyond comparison superior to the Aaronic line. “For such a high priest became us,” not only of purity unexampled, but made “higher than the heavens,” the glorious place in which the Epistle loves to regard Him, due to His personal and divine dignity, but taken as the result of His atoning death, for a heavenly family.
The word “holy” should be considered. In Greek as in Hebrew two expressions are employed: one (ἅγιος) to imply separateness for God from evil, the other (ὅσιος) graciousness, which said of God means His mercy, said of man means his piety. It is the latter term which is here rendered “holy,” a holiness full of loving-kindness. Next, ἄκακος is poorly translated “harmless” as in the A. V.; and “guileless” as in the Revision answers to ἄδολος. In Christ it rises to a total absence of evil found in none else. “Undefiled” declares Him untainted by the corruptions that surrounded Him when here below, where His moral beauty shone on all who had eyes to see, above all in His Father's Who bore witness from heaven. Appropriately therefore is He next said to be “separated from sinners,” not from sins only, as the Pesch-Syriac says, but from sinners. What was ever morally true was crowned in His leaving the world behind, the enduring effect of a completed act, and so leads on to the only place befitting Him, “made higher than the heavens.” There He exercised His high-priestly functions, having laid the ground in His propitiatory work on the cross. It should surprise none to hear that such a place became Him. Revelation declares that such a high-priest became us. Divine righteousness does not justify us only but sets us in and as Christ before God (John 16; 2 Cor. 5); or, according to the doctrine of our Epistle, constitutes us holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, and (as we shall see) exhorts us to approach with a true heart, as having boldness for entering into the holies, by the blood of Jesus. It is not then because we were so far from pious, &c., but on the contrary because we are so blessed, objects of perfect favor, and bound for glory under an unfailing Leader, that “such a high priest became us,” in contrast with the earthly people who had high-priests like themselves.
In Heb. 7:27 is a brief exclusion of the shortcomings of earthly priesthood, leaving its full discussion to a later moment. Aaron, or his successors, needed day by day to offer up sacrifices, first for their own sins, then for the people's; Christ once for all when He offered Himself, which is the clearest token of absolute sinlessness, and according to the worth of His person was infinitely effectual for others, as He needed nothing on His own part. This the previous verse demonstrated, if proof were asked, though it ought not to be. And the whole is clenched by ver. 28. “For the law appointeth men high priests, having infirmity.” All here was imperfection. “But the word of the oath-swearing that was since the law, [appointeth] a Son perfected forever.” “Son” is characteristic, and hence has not the article, though He be the Only-begotten, but not here a designated object; so that the language is perfectly correct. Its insertion would make Himself prominent rather than His near relationship to God. The perfect participle passive here as in ver. 26 points to the permanent character acquired, and not to the simple fact as the aorist would express. As in His severance from sinners, so in His having completed all for His priestly place, it is the lasting result of either terminated act. In Heb. 2:10 it is the act itself on God's part.

Ploughing, Sowing, Reaping

“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing” (Prov. 20:4). “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns” (Jer. 4:3). “And they that were ready, went in with Him to the marriage, and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. But He answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matt. 25:10-12).
1. Plowing. The Lord God had cursed the ground after Adam sinned, and declared to him that it was only by toilsome cultivation it would yield him food.
“In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread” (Gen. 3:19). So man has found it ever since. The despicable character described at the head of this paper, the sluggard, because of slothfulness, would not attend to the cultivation of his field—for he had a field. “I went by the field of the slothful and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns; and nettles had covered the face thereof; and the stone wall thereof was broken down” (Prov. 24:30, 31). This observant passer-by must have noticed the sluggard's field in summer time, as the thorns and nettles were growing vigorously: a poor look-out for its owner at the approaching harvest. His neighbor's field had a very different appearance. A fine crop of grain covered its face, proving the truth of Prov. 28:19, “He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread.” The slothful man had missed his season. In winter he ought to have been up and plowing his field, that the frost and cold winds might temper and pulverize the broken clods, to prepare a good seed bed. When he should have rooted out the nettles and thorns, he had been folding his hands to sleep.
It was cold, and he would not plow. Because he did not plow, he could not sow. And because he did not sow, he had nothing to reap but thorns and nettles, winch were only fit for the fire.
As it is naturally, so it is spiritually. Man's heart is, to say the least, a fallow field, which must be broken up, before the seed of the word of God can be sown there, and become fruitful. Thus the Lord calls “the men of Judah, and Jerusalem” to “break up their fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.”
So, in Jer. 4:14, we read, “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.” “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word” (Isa. 66:2). Again the Lord went into the synagogue, at Nazareth, and read from the book of the prophet Isaiah, “He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,” &c. (Luke 4:18). The preparatory work this needed the slothful man would not do. Sinners had rather not have their hearts broken. It is humbling and painful work. They resist the plow-share in the conscience; and prefer to be let alone in their sins. So of old, when the apostle Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will send for thee” (Acts 24:25). The powerful appeal of the apostle to the conscience of Felix was felt, but not responded to. The plow-share was refused, the heart left unbroken. Felix's present associations were more pleasant to him, than thinking of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.”
Then, again, ling Agrippa listens with intense interest to the pointed dealing of the apostle Paul with his heart and conscience. “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.” Here surely is a more advanced case than Felix's; for there was in king Agrippa, at any rate, intellectual faith in the prophets; but with what result? “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27, 28). The word “almost” or “in a little degree” reveals, that the work was not thorough. Not so in Acts 2, when the apostle speaks to conscience-troubled souls. “Men (and) brethren, what shall we do?” So Saul of Tarsus, when the Lord appeared to him on the way to Damascus, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” See too the prodigal, and the publican of the parables, and the penitent robber on the cross.
The heart was broken. Repentance, self-judgment before God was there: fit state for the reception of salvation by grace, through faith of the gospel.
2. Sowing. In Matt. 13 the Lord describes the various kinds of ground upon which the seed of the gospel fell. The sower goes forth to sow. It is not required of him to pick out, and discriminate as to the nature and fitness of the soil upon which he must scatter the seed. He sows the whole field. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He was not stinted for seed; and he is quite aware that all the seed sown will not produce fruit. Yet he sows it everywhere. The crop depends upon the state of the land where the seed falls. Figures may not hold good in every detail, but there is analogy in the wayside hearers to the sluggard's field. Both were unbroken uncultivated plots. The slothful man who refused to plow his field is described as a “man void of understanding.” So in Matt. 13 the Lord describes the way-side hearers in the same language “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not” (ver. 19).
On the stony ground the seed germinates, yet is there no deepness of earth, not much breaking up there; and in consequence all withers away when trial and persecution come.
The roots of the thorns were left in the third plot, although it would appear that their tops had been cut off. They should have been rooted up. It was sowing amongst thorns contrary to the word of God by Jeremiah, which we have looked at. Yet it was not the responsibility of the sower to root up the thorns. There might be an apparent clearing, but the roots remained of worldliness, cares, riches, and pleasures. Such were men like Demas and others. Very different was Barnabas, “a man full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” The work was in dealing with the root. Not that the evil in the heart was exterminated, or non-existent; but it was judged in divine power, and a new nature given, as well as the Holy Spirit. Only the good ground matures a crop; and that in quantity, not the same in all, but “Thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold.” The good ground was not “fallow ground,” but broken up. The Lord's explanation is, “He that heareth the word and understandeth it” (ver. 23). In the corresponding parable of Luke it is “believing and being saved.” Both are true. It is the opposite to the way-side hearer and the slothful man. What is it here to “understand?” It is the perception, that the word of the kingdom or of God is what the soul needs. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). If one may so speak, God in the gospel says to the sinner, I know your need: you are lost; but I have given My Son to save you. The broken-hearted sinner understands this, and welcomes Christ. The seed falls into the good ground, and brings forth fruit. In Luke 8:15 we have the explanation of the good ground given:— “That (seed) on the good ground are they which, in a honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience.”
It is not meant here, that the heart was without sin, but that it realized and owned its sin, like the publican, “God be merciful to me, a (the), sinner.” No man is honest in the sight of God, who does not feel and own his sin. The fallow ground is thus broken up, and the word of salvation is received, and held fast, and with patience the fruit is brought forth.
3. Reaping. On this one need not say much. As there is a time for everything under the sun, so then a time to plow, a time to sow, and a time to reap.
Yes, assuredly, the harvest is coming. The end of the age approaches. “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” The cry has gone forth, “Behold the bridegroom. Go ye out to meet him.” This is the immediate and first great event. Are you ready, my reader, for Him? With lamp trimmed and lighted, and oil in your vessel to sustain the light, waiting for your Lord? Then you will go in, and the door will be shut. But what of others? They are left outside. They “beg in harvest and get nothing.” Was the slothful man “void of understanding?” So we’re these foolish virgins, in neglecting the oil essential to sustain the light of their lamp. Alas! it could not abide without oil. “Our lamps,” exclaim they, “are going out.” Hope dies within them, as they realize their fatal want; and, solemn thought, the Lord in that day refuses their cry, “Lord, Lord, open unto us.” “I know you not” is His answer. So at the end of the age (Matt. 13:41), “The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those that do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” The wheat is gathered into the barn, after the tares are gathered in bundles to be burned (ver. 30). Solemn warning! may we, being instructed, understand the word.
G. R.

The Spirit of Heaven and That of the World

The one gathers and unites; the other scatters and divides. Get a center on earth, and around it may be those who regard it in one common light; but in this you separate from Christ and those who are His. Let Christ in heavenly glory be really seen by faith, and those who so see Him must by the Spirit's power be gathered round Him, on ground of God's word, from which nothing but ignorance or earthliness can keep apart any that are His.

The Gospel and the Church: 23. Christian Discipline, Closing Remarks: 5

CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINE. CLOSING REMARKS.
In cases where church discipline has become necessary, the decisions of an assembly, I need hardly say, are not infallible. To assert the infallibility of such decisions would be nothing less than being on the high road to Rome i.e. to a so-called infallible church. On God's side—all is perfection and infallibility. But what as to our i.e. the human side? Here everything is subject to failure, be it, a single believer, or an assembly of believers. The infallible Spirit of God dwells in the believer. Does that make the believer an infallible pope? The Holy Spirit dwells in the chinch or assembly. Does that make it an infallible church or assembly? Jesus Christ, our blessed and never failing Lord. and Master, is present in the midst of His two or three that are gathered to His Name. Does His presence make His servants infallible, because they are gathered. to His Name? There could scarcely be a greater and more mischievous fallacy. We may with certainty presume that two such devoted servants of Christ, as Paul and Barnabas on the morning of the day recorded in Acts 15, had been gathered to the name of their common heavenly Master, praying for His guidance, before entering with Mark on their tourney. Yet they fell out on the way and separated from each other. Did they cease to love each other, because there arose a sharp contention subsequently? Certainly not. Perhaps the apostle and his fellow-laborers had omitted in their prayer for their journey the all important request for brotherly kindness, patience, and self-denial.
What I mean to affirm is simply this, that the Lord, in promising His gracious presence to His two or three gathered to His Name, certainly did not convey to any, that His presence however blessed would render those two or three (or any number of them) infallible in their deliberations, decisions, and actions, however willing and ready He may be to guide by the Holy Spirit those who really are gathered to His Name—which is just the, question, on which everything depends. But nowhere in His word does the Lord promise to us infallibility, either as to our thoughts or words, our decisions or actions. He Who searches the reins and the hearts knows too well the Romanist element, so inherent in man's fallen nature, to give us such a promise.
Even in those blessed Pentecostal days, when the believers were of “one heart and one soul,” the Spirit of God dwelling in the church with unimpeded power, the flesh and the natural evil heart, appeared in the saints, not only in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, but elsewhere in the church at Jerusalem, when the murmuring of jealousy, between the Grecian and Hebrew Christians arose (Acts 6). Nay, even in the assembly at Jerusalem, the apostles and elders being present, no small dispute arose (ch. 15.). But, the power of the Holy Spirit, of love, and of a sound mind being then unimpeded, the flesh was soon discovered and put to silence.
But how is it in our days? Days of the general ruin of the, Church of, God, when more than ever the solemn and humbling, truth manifests itself, viz, that man has been unfaithful and made shipwreck in everything which God had committed to his keeping, from paradise until Pentecost, and from Pentecost until now"? It would certainly better behoove us to lie before God on our, fakes with our mouths in the dust, instead of opening them to haughtily claim infallibility for assembly decisions amidst the ruins—the mute but eloquent witnesses of our deep fall! When in these “last days” we hear of a company of Christians asserting the, proud claim of infallibility for their church decisions, founded upon the fallacies referred to above, we have every reason to tremble, for their spiritual condition.
Have we not heard of Christians from whom, according to their knowledge of truth, one might have expected better things, claiming church infallibility by reasoning like this? “The Holy Spirit” (they say) “dwells in the assembly, and the Lord has promised His presence in the midst of His own, even where but two or three are gathered to His name. It is evident, that the Lord cannot guide His people wrongly: consequently the decisions of an assembly, being the voice of the Holy Ghost, must necessarily be infallible.”
In the same breath, as it were, and in striking contradiction to the preceding claim, it is added: “But Should it happen that an assembly in a case of church discipline has made a mistake in excluding some one, the one thus wrongly excluded would nevertheless have to accept this as from the hand of God and to bow under it. By refusing to do so he Only would manifest his unsubdued will, and thus prove that he had deserved the punishment” (i.e. that the assembly after all must be held to be guided rightly, even though not justified in excluding him!).
Could there possibly be a greater proof of the perversity of the natural heart, even in Christians, unless kept by watchfulness and prayer in the humble sense of their entire dependence upon the grace of God which establishes the heart?
I was told that a very prominent leader of that religious sect said that, if any one, who had been wrongly excluded from an assembly, falls several years after into sin, it would justify the assembly for having excluded him, previously!
I should not have believed this report (such an expression being an outrage to the simplest principles of natural righteousness, not to speak of Christian truth and godliness), had I not myself read a quite similar and tantamount expression. of the same teacher in a paper, written and signed and circulated by himself

The Incomparable Love of God

Human love of whatever degree or kind yearns for and insists upon an object which it believes to be worthy of it. But it is one of the distinguishing characteristics of divine love that its object affords no originating impulse whatever. For “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). It is well to lay the thought of man's real condition much upon our hearts; since it were comparatively a small matter to point out that the ephemeral creature, man, was unable to show any excellence capable of exciting the love of One so far removed from him as his Almighty Creator. Indeed, reasoning from this thought alone, some have falsely concluded that it is incredible, and even impossible, for God to entertain even the slightest regard for man upon earth. Nevertheless, the astonishing truth, exceeding all human conception, and revealed, not in nature but in scripture, is that, though man is in a desperate state of irreconcilable hatred and antagonism to everything divine, God loves him in spite of all.
Neither is this a matter of speculative theory, but an actual fact, bearing the highest credentials. God's love has been manifested. It is no longer a secret of the divine bosom; for its display was perfect and sufficient, being in and by the person of the Only-begotten Son of God, Who came tabernacling in flesh as the only competent exponent of that love. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
Moreover God has been pleased to allow His love to be tested and proved. And the proof He has given is that which ranks as most convincing in man's estimation. For the fullest possible attestation of one's love is to lay down one's life. No sacrifice can exceed this. “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath, will he give for his life” (Job 2:4). But Christ laid down His life, as He said, “I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15). Among men, however, it is barely conceivable that such an extreme sacrifice could be made for any but a friend or benefactor. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:7, 8). Thus, blessed be His name, God has abounded above the thoughts as well as the sin and bitter enmity of His creatures, and bestowed His Son both as the propitiation for our sins and as the incomparable witness of His incomparable love. 1 John 4:9, 10.
Have you ever known and believed that God is love? Is not the proof sufficient? God calls you to look at Christ and Calvary, and not around you for the exhibition of His love. The world is full of the fruits of sin; yet physical pain, mental anguish, and universal sorrow do not deny the goodness of God but proclaim the evil of man. And though the Son of God came from heaven to stem the overflowing tide of woe, men still give credence to the devil's lie, rather than to God's truth that He is love. But let it not be forgotten that those who continue to resist this super-eminent love will assuredly add to the weight of their everlasting condemnation.
W. J. H.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 2:24-25

The closing words of the chapter are the more to be weighed, as they were cited by our Lord in His vindication of marriage according to the mind of God, apart from that concession made to fallen man which is characteristic of the law. In reply to the question, Why the command to give a bill of divorce and to put away, Moses, said He, in view of your hardness of heart allowed you to put away; but from the beginning it hath not been so. As He had previously answered, Have ye not read that He Who made them from the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the twain shall become one flesh? so that they are no longer twain, but one flesh. What therefore God yoked together, let not man separate (Matt. 19:3-8). It is not Adam who so said, but God.
How good it is to have divinely given certainty! And this the Lord supplies. We need Him in one form or another to interpret the Bible; and here it is simple and direct. He Who made the man and the woman regulated the relationship from the first; and when things were out of course, the Lord Who made everything perfect cleared it of that allowance which man had abused, and recalled to its original order. This is all the more impressive, because it was so ruled of God, not merely for the transient state of paradisiacal innocence, but as His mind for man on the earth at any time: so the terms prove. Marriage was divinely instituted from the beginning.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become (be for) one flesh. And they were both of them naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (vers. 24, 25). The former verse contemplates circumstances wholly different from those of Adam who had neither father nor mother to leave; the latter presents the facts which attached to the primeval condition and neither were nor could be with propriety at any other time. Shame followed sin: the knowledge of good and evil led them consciously fallen to cover themselves.
As marriage was to be the social bond, so is it the ground of family life; the oldest of all institutions I relative, yet a fresh start for each man and woman so united, as ver. 24 contemplates. The work of God corresponds with His word. If a man was to leave his father and mother, he was to cleave to his wife, not to multiply wives. So had the Creator made one man and one woman. So had Jehovah Elohim ordained. Self-will too soon broke through the order, and sorrow followed personal and widespread, for man in nothing errs with impunity, even in a world out of course.
But there are deeper things prefigured. The apostle refers to these words both in 1 Cor. 6 and in Eph. 5; and each is of the highest interest and importance, though the one be individual, and the other corporate. The fleshly union, shameful out of marriage, God would have honorable under marriage, honorable in all things (Heb. 13:4); for even the married are gravely exhorted, as the licentious are solemnly warned. But that union is used and meant to remind the Christian of his own blessed privilege: he that is joined to the Lord is (not one flesh but) one spirit. It is indeed in virtue of his receiving the Holy Spirit. Thus is impurity shown to be a sin not only against his own body, but against the Trinity and the price paid. “Glorify God then in your body.” The corporate reference is no less striking. “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it,” not merely to sanctify it, purifying by the washing of water in the word, but to present it to Himself glorious, the Eve of the Second Man, the Last Adam. Hence He meanwhile nourishes and cherishes it; for we are members of His body. Thereon our text is cited, with the appended comment, “This mystery is great, but I speak as to Christ and as to the church.” In no way does it yield the paltry sense of “sacrament” which Romanism has drawn from the Vulgate mistranslation, though not without the protest of such as Cajetan and Estius. Holiness is therefore as incumbent on the church as on the Christian; and the Holy Spirit abides in the one as in the other to secure it, and to make the sanction of evil inexcusable in either.
The type is methodically set out. On the man was laid the responsibility, when the woman was not yet in being (Gen. 2:15-17); as He Whom Adam foreshadowed was to glorify the Father and to bear all the consequences of man's failure in the judgment of God on the cross. Then began to dawn the hidden purpose about His bride, but His dominion is carefully shown over the subject creation before laying the basis of that purpose (vers. 18-20). Then comes the deep sleep on the man from Jehovah Elohim and the building up of his wife, owned by him as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, the intimacy of this relationship transcending every other in his eyes. So was it in the secret hidden from ages and from generations: even Christ, after His death of redemption, raised and glorified in a heavenly headship and universal supremacy, far above promise and prophecy; and the church made one with Him in sovereign grace, the sharer of all that is given to Him, His dependent but associated bride, even now His body, as each Christian is a member in particular.

Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 12-16

Now for a season Israel's glory is gone. Satan had succeeded in causing it to depart, but could not annul God's purpose concerning Christ. Therefore is Judah preserved, and prophets are sent if they have ears to hear. Ephraim rebelled against David's house, Judah rejected Christ, the greater Son of David; they hated Him without a cause. Cæsar, even Barabbas, was preferred to Him.
In revolting against Rehoboam Israel cut themselves off from the governmental channel of blessing, and as if to close up every means of communication from God one of the first acts of Jeroboam was to set up calves for Israel's worship. We know how the mercy and patience of God rose above even this insult. He sent them prophets, notably Elijah and Elisha. Did not some of the kings of Judah do as bad, or worse; setting up the idols of the Gentiles, and shutting up the temple of the Lord? Yet guilty as they were, even exceeding Israel in their abominations, they are kept and watched over by God, and Judah never rebelled against the house of David—not till Christ came; and then all their sin culminated in this, We have no king but Cæsar.
Until the captivity there were transient glimpses of light in their dark downward course. For in the longsuffering of God, a king who did right in the sight of the Lord sometimes sat upon the throne of Judah, and after the return of the remnant from Babylon, prophets were sent both to cheer the godly, and warn the wicked. But God was working for His name's sake. And the key to His forbearance is that Christ was to come of the tribe of Judah, and if this is the key to God's infinite patience and longsuffering, the key to Judah's persistent and increasing sin is that Satan was trying to make Judah's sin, if possible, exceed the forbearance of God. And apparently, he succeeded, for we do read— “until there was no remedy.” God did indeed send His last, His best: what other remedy could there be? Only we know that Satan's apparent triumph at the cross is God's real victory. “Now is the prince of the world judged.”
The rest of Chronicles is but the record of Judah's rapid descent from the sin of Solomon to the exceeding wickedness of the sons of Josiah, all which called forth the denunciation of the prophets and caused the misery which made Jeremiah weep.
How short-lived is the glory that depends upon the faithfulness of man! The temple that Solomon built is spoiled and robbed in the days of his son. For gold there is brass. When He comes and brings back glory to Israel, this will be reversed, “For brass I will bring gold” (Isa. 60:17). God takes pleasure in undoing the work of sin, symbolically expressed by the prophet, though doubtless true literally, for the gold and the silver are His.
But God was beginning to pour out His wrath, and He brings them under that same power from which He with a mighty and outstretched arm had at the beginning delivered them. Their sin and rebellion against God had been the fruitful cause of internal division (ten tribes gone) and external disaster (Shishak the Egyptian). But the God of all grace says that, if they cry to Him and own His righteousness, He will give them deliverance. “I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak” (12: 6-8). Mercy lingered over the already doomed city; and while it waited, sin increased. Rehoboam's life is summed up in the words, “he did evil.” But is it not said that he walked wisely during the first three years of his reign? Yea, but the prophet says, “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die” (Ezek. 18:24). The days of his wisdom are not mentioned, and the judgment of God upon him is “he did evil.” Was it not a very special act of disobedience to make constant war against Jeroboam when the Lord had expressly forbidden him to fight?
The Levites showed their fidelity by leaving their possessions and going to Jerusalem, but it was equally a proof that the whole system established under David, and instituted by the Lord, was broken and gone. For they had their appointed possessions in all the coasts of Israel. It was one of the external marks of God's order in Israel; to forsake them would be disobedience to God's command. But when that order was broken by the nation's sin, it was according to God's mind to leave their possessions which had become now defiled, and to assemble at the place where the Lord's name was still recorded. So now, when we find defilement and sin sanctioned in that which pretends to the Lord's name, absolute and complete separation from evil, whatever its appearance, is the true path for every Christ-honoring believer.
Abijah comes, and follows in his father's steps as to war with Israel. His battle with Jeroboam, and God's deliverance of Judah and judgment upon Israel, is all that is recorded under his rule, unless it be summed up in ver. 21 (ch. 13.). Abijah reasons with the revolted tribes. Was this mere human policy, an attempt to win back Israel to himself, or real concern as to their condition before God? Be his motive what it may, it was no less a call to Israel to return to the Lord God of their fathers. Israel heeded not, but even sought to destroy this testimony and set an ambush against Judah. Judah cries, and God delivers. Is not this deliverance equally a call to Judah? A reminder of God's faithfulness “if they cry to me I will hear;” if we may so speak, it is God redeeming His pledge, His mercy and truth rising infinitely above their transgression, however low and fallen they might be; if they called, God would hear. So Solomon prayed.
In the beginning of Asa's reign the deepening gloom is stayed for a brief moment. A gleam of light shoots across the dark scene, and reveals how great the darkness. The idols that were in Judah and Benjamin he puts away. How evident the spread of idolatry, how greatly increased, to require a law to put it down! In his zeal he decrees that “whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death.” Did you ever know idolatry, or any sin, put away by commandment? It may hide its head: idolaters may seem to throw their idols to the moles and the bats, but it exists and is rather strengthened by repressive laws. Its seat is in the heart and the idol is only the outward symbol, the visible index of the heart's enmity against God. And so in Judah when a good king would uproot it out of the land, it always burst forth with increased power when an evil king succeeded. (Chap. 15:17). The heart of Asa was perfect all his days, perfect outwardly in zeal against idolatry. But a more searching test awaits him, and this exposes the state of his heart; for while things that look well, and have a fair appearance, may win a good name among those that cannot look beneath the surface, He Who searches the heart, and knows what man is, brings out to view sufficient at least that saints and godly men may have a true judgment of things in their reality. Perhaps not now every hidden evil, but in the great coming day every secret thing will be revealed. When the believers' hidden, perhaps unsuspected, evil is made known before the judgment seat of Christ, all will be to the glory of His grace. But when the books are opened, and the sin and hidden evils of those who live and die in the rejection of the Savior, it will be for their everlasting condemnation.
The attempt of Baasha against the kingdom of Judah, brings out the want of faith in Asa's heart, that he had no confidence in God. His unceasing activity in zeal against idolatry had no reality in his soul. The sun arose in the form of Baasha's invasion, and this outward piety withers away, because there was no depth of earth. He goes to the king of Syria for help, there is not even the appearance of going to God. Asa has brought silver and gold into the house of God; now he gives these treasures to Benhadad, and adds thereto treasures from his own house. All this is glory of the kingdom departing from the house of David; it may be a Jeroboam, a Shishak, or a Benhadad, but God is accomplishing His own will, though every succeeding stroke of His judgment had its immediate occasion in the king's increasing sin. And now we see Asa outwardly zealous against idols, inwardly no faith in God, (and without faith it is impossible to please Him); and when reproved by the prophet Hanani, he puts him in prison, and at the same time oppresses some of the people. How evidently the king and the people are departing from God, for those that remain faithful to Him, are oppressed and imprisoned. These were some of that remnant which God always, even in the darkest times, reserved for Himself. God, Who waits patiently until the measure of iniquity is filled, applies another test to the unfaithful king, a bodily personal trial. The result is the same, and his want of faith appears in another aspect. Not God's merciful interposition, but man's aid; first the Syrian, Gentile help against Israel, now he goes to the physicians. Two years before he died he was diseased in his feet and it became exceeding great. Yet he sought not the. Lord but went to the physicians (xvi. 12): pregnant words. His unbelief is not in simply applying to the physicians, in using providential means, but looking only to man, and in forgetting God. But the physicians could not help him. “And Asa slept with his fathers.” How solemn and graphic the words of scripture! He is diseased, goes to a physician, and dies! Yea, now, as well as then, if God be forgotten, vain is the help of man!
So far we mark the descending steps of Judah. First, idolatry creeping into the king's house, then becoming general among the people insomuch that Asa in the early years of his reign makes a law against it. What a change in a comparatively short time from the bright early days of Solomon! Yea, what a change from Asa first to last, from the time when he did not spare even his own mother (xv. 16) to the time when he put Hanani in prison and oppressed some of the people. So forgetful of God, of His mercy and of His promise, and His claims upon them, that he seeks aid from the Syrian, and we have this wonderful, even monstrous thing, Judah seeking and purchasing with Jehovah's treasures Gentile help against Israel. This tells their evil condition before God. Well, if they would worship the Gentiles' God, why not seek the Gentiles' aid? How different all is from the time when the Gentile brought tribute and presents, and kings came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.
Hitherto how manifest the longsuffering and patient waiting of God. His partial judgment on the kings and nation, as well as His great mercies are His gracious calls to them to turn from their idols. And these calls ceased not till the hardness and perversity of their heart was shown to be evidently indomitable. “Why should ye be stricken any more?” So the whole nation after Jonah's death, took a deeper, we may say headlong, plunge into the darkest abyss of iniquity that an Israelite at that time could. I say at that time, for now apostate Christendom is sinking deeper than apostate-Israel did or could. And the rebellion of Israel against Jehovah their king is succeeded by Christendom practically denying the Lord that bought them while pretending to honor Him.
Yet let us remember, while we may be astonished at Israel's folly and wickedness, as the prophet calls upon the heavens &c. (Isa. 1:2), that Jehovah was working all through for His name's sake, controlling their wickedness that His great name, as declared to Moses—longsuffering and gracious—might in the end shine forth in all the splendor of His majesty and in all the boundlessness of His love. And where are these two seen? In the cross where mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, met together, never to be seen apart forever.

The Psalms Book 2: 70-72

As the psalm which presents the exaltation of Christ is followed by that which expresses His humiliation and sufferings, leading to judgment on His adversaries and the deliverance of His people and land, so here we have the final group, which begins with His Spirit characterizing those who looked to Him and were willing to follow in His steps with a heart devoted to their blessing in Jehovah's time and way. Psa. 70 goes on with this faithfulness throughout Israel's history (personified in David's) and the conviction with prayer that He will not forsake them when He is most needed (71.), and closes with the millennial reign of David's greater Son, the Messiah, to Whom God gives His judgments, and Who will glorify Him on the throne as He had in His rejection (72.).
Psalm 70
“To the chief musician, of David, to bring to remembrance. O God, to deliver me, O Jehovah, to my help, make haste. Confounded and ashamed be those that seek after my soul, driven back and brought to dishonor be those that delight in evil to me. Turned back for a reward of their shame be those that say, Aha, Aha! Let all those that seek thee be glad and rejoice in thee, and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified! But for me, I am poor and needy; O God, make haste unto me. Thou [art] my deliverer and my help. O Jehovah, tarry not” (vers. 1-6).
Psalm 71
“In thee, Jehovah, do I trust; let me never be ashamed. Deliver me in Thy righteousness, and set me free; incline to me thine ear and save me. Be to me a rock of dwelling for continual resort; thou hast commanded to save me; for my rock (crag) and my fortress thou [art]. O my God, deliver me from the hand of the wicked, from the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For thou [art] my hope, O Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth. On thee have I been stayed from the womb; from my mother's bowels thou didst take me out; of (in) thee [is] my praise continually. As a wonder I have been to many, and thou [art] my strong refuge. My mouth shall be filled with thy praise, thine honor, all the day. Cast me not off in the time of old age; when my strength faileth, forsake me not. For mine enemies speak against me, and those that watch for my soul consult together, saying, God hath forsaken him: pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver. O God, be not far from me; my God, hasten to my help. Ashamed, consumed, be the adversaries of my soul; covered with reproach and dishonor be those that seek evil to me. And for me, continually will I hope and will add to all thy praise. My mouth shall declare thy righteousness, all the day thy salvation; for I know not the numbers. I will go in the might of the Lord Jehovah; I will recall thy righteousness, thine only. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth, and hitherto do I show thy wondrous works. Yea, also until old age and gray hairs, O God, forsake me not, until I show thine arm to a generation, thy might to every one that is to come. And thy righteousness, O God, [is] very high, thou who hast done great things, O God, who [is] like thee? Thou who hast made us (or me) see many distresses and evils, wilt turn and make us live, and from the depths of the earth wilt turn and bring us up. Thou wilt increase my greatness and surround me with comfort. Also on my part I will thank thee with the psaltery, thy truth, O my God; I will sing psalms to thee with the harp, O Holy One of Israel. My lips shall exult when I sing praises to thee; and my soul which thou hast redeemed. My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day; for they shall be ashamed, for they shall be confounded, that seek evil to me” (vers. 1-24).
Psalm 72
“Of Solomon. Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness, unto the king's son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness and thine afflicted with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the hills in righteousness. He will judge the afflicted of the people, he will save the sons of the needy one, and will crush the oppressors. They shall fear thee with the sun and before the moon through all generations. He shall come down as rain on mown grass, as showers a watering of the earth (or land). In his days shall a righteous one flourish, and much peace till the moon [be] no more. And he shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the end of the earth. Before him shall bow down dwellers in the desert, and his enemies shall lick the dust. Kings of Tarshish and of the sea-coasts shall bring an offering; kings of Sheba and of Seba shall bring near a gift. Yea, all kings shall bow down before him; all the Gentiles shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy that crieth and the afflicted that hath no helper. He will have pity on a poor and needy one, and the souls of the needy will he save. From fraud and from violence will he redeem their soul, and precious shall their blood be in his sight. And he shall live; and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba; and prayer shall be made for him continually: all the day shall he be blessed. There shall be abundance handful) of corn in the earth, on the top of the mountains: the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; and they of the city shall flourish as the grass of the earth. His name shall be forever; before the sun shall his name be continued: and they shall bless themselves in him; all the Gentiles shall call him blessed. Blessed [be] Jehovah Elohim, the God of Israel alone doing wondrous things. And blessed [be] the name of his glory forever; and let all the earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. The prayers of David son of Jesse are ended” (vers. 1-20).

The Saviour of the World

The Samaritans besought the Son of God to abide with them, and there He did abide two days (ver. 40). What confidence on their part! what grace on His! Others more favored, who despised them, besought Him with one consent to depart from them (Luke 8:37). Who else are recorded as ever preferring such a request for His presence? But those who asked received a blessing both now and evermore, as faith in Him ever does. “And many more believed because of His own word, and said to the woman, No longer because of thy speaking do we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Truly a noble and most suited confession! No Jew did or could then have uttered it. It was God choosing the foolish things of the world that He might put to shame the wise; it was God choosing the weak things of the world that He might put to shame the things that are strong; and the ignoble things of the world and the despised God chose, the things that are not, that He might bring to naught the things that are; so that no flesh should boast before God.
It was an anticipation worthy of His personal dignity, which faith saw and testified, as grace created and sanctioned it. The Son of God is recognized in the fullest sphere of divine mercy. It is the more striking because He had maintained the place God had given the Jews as compared with Samaritan pretension. As surely as He was the Messiah, so salvation is of the Jews. But the Jews, blinder than their blind whose eyes He so often opened, were rejecting Him through trusting their own thoughts and indulging their own will. And the rejected Messiah, about to taste its bitterness to the uttermost, was displaying grace and truth open to any needy soul, and pressing home the reality of that need, that He might bless according to the love of the Father. His own word deepened the conviction which the woman's testimony had awakened; and the faith of the many that believed expressed itself in the confession, “This is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Was it not all worthy of God and His Son? The sin of His ancient potpie, in despising the grace of the Messiah because He did not come in power and glory to exalt their nation and confound their foes, only gave occasion to more grace. But the Samaritans believed without a miracle, and entered into the blessing all the more deeply. They take their own place. not a word of rivalry with the Jew. They were sinners: Jesus is the Savior. They were of the world. And “this is indeed the Savior of the world.” God saves not because we deserve, but because He, Jesus, does; and we believe on Him.
As long as the Jew was under probation, this could not be manifested. But one of the peculiarities of the Gospel of John (and each has its special design, not merely from the writer's style, but from the particular purpose of the inspiring Holy Spirit) is that the Jews received not Christ, as we learn, from the very first. Hence a larger and deeper scope of blessing begins to shine through the clouds, even before the Lord's public testimony and right through it. This chapter is an unmistakable witness.
And is it all nothing to you, dear readers? Is not this, and more than this, expressly written that “ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through (in) His name”? John 20:31. Is it in vain that the Holy Spirit has perpetuated for you the grace that reached the many Samaritans? Or are you disposed to follow the proud and stiff-necked Jews in nullifying as to yourselves the counsel of God? If so, beware of perishing, as they did.
Beyond doubt, as all scripture declares, whatever be the grace of God, you forfeit it by unbelief. It is of faith that it might be according to grace. It is here you have sinned, and now you must be saved; and there is no means other than believing on Jesus. You in Christendom have heard more than either the Jews who refused, or the Samaritans who believed. And whoever you are, whatever you may have been, their testimony is for you, for anyone: “This is indeed the Savior of the world.” Such is the spirit of the gospel that went forth in due thee to all the creation, as the Lord came expressly to call not righteous men, but sinners. “To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt; but to him that worketh not but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:4, 5). Were it otherwise, no sinful roan could be justified. Whereas, “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” It is the distinctive blessedness that God loves with no motive in the object loved, but because He is love. Hence says the apostle, “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
And as the Samaritans at the beginning were divinely led to own the Savior of the world, so the apostle John in his First Epistle, avowedly written for the dangers and evils of the last time, repeats the testimony when unfolding the love of God superior to all changes. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Yes, but how am I to receive certainty for my own soul? “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (ver. 15). It is the Spirit of God anticipating conscientious difficulty and satisfying the just desire of assurance from above in one who might otherwise be overwhelmed with the sense of sin. One cannot too much judge one's self, provided that along with it there is no distrust of grace. The person and the work of Christ account for salvation and the highest privileges to him that believes, were he chief of sinners. God puts all honor on the name of His Son, whether in blessing the believer or in punishing the unbeliever by-and-by.
To believe God's testimony is the first of duties, and Christ is the object of that testimony. So, when the trembling jailer at Philippi fell down before Paul and Silas, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” The way is simple, the warrant sure, the salvation rich and full. The call of God is to believe on His Son, the Lord Jesus; the result is salvation for all that believe, the house no less than its head. Hence it is His commandment that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ: loving one another follows, as He gave us commandment. But it is in vain to urge love, holiness, or aught else, till we believe on Him.

Hebrews 8:1-2

The truth of Christ as high priest, most important for the Christian, and especially for such as had been Hebrews, has thus far been richly unfolded according to the order of Melchizedek, but not without a glance at its exercise after the type of Aaron, yet even here immeasurably superior even to frequent contrast. This however demands further development, and first as connected with “a better covenant which was established upon better promises.” The contrast of the first or legal covenant with a second and new one, never to grow old or vanish away, occupies our present chapter for the most part. But it opens with a reproduction of what has been laid down already under a brief heading.
“Now, as a summary on what is being said, we have such a high priest who sat down on [the] right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, minister of the holies, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Heb. 8:1-2).
The glory of Christ's person, Son of God and Son of Man, is developed in Heb. 1 and 2, and in both with His work, not only for purging us, but to vindicate God, annul the power of evil, reconcile all things, succor the tried, and bring many sons to glory. This is the admirable introduction, followed by His office of apostle and high priest for those who are pilgrims passing through the wilderness of the world to the rest of God, as we see in Heb. 3, 4; and it is precisely to such, no longer in Egypt but with Canaan in view, that the priesthood of Christ applies, as is shown in Heb. 4, 5, 6, along with the hindrances by the way, the awful peril of going back, and the grounds and motives for the full assurance of hope to the end. Heb. 7. is an elaborate proof from first to last of the Melchizedek priesthood, fulfilled not yet in its exercise but in its order in Christ, altogether and incontestably beyond that of Aaron.
If therefore a Hebrew Christian were in danger of pining after a Levitical high priest as drawing near to God for a moment on behalf of the ancient people of God, could he fail to see the infinite superiority of Christ in this very respect? It is not that Israel had one, and we Christians have not. Their own scriptures attest another and far higher coming, mysteriously bound up with the Messiah, to which their God was pledged by an oath, and this to abide forever. There stands the promise in Psalm 110, and now it is beyond cavil accomplished in Jesus dead, risen, and glorified. It is inexcusable unbelief to evade this word of God. What a blessing to receive it as our assured portion in God's grace! “We have such a high-priest,” to maintain us consistently with all that God is and loves as fully revealed, to sustain in our weakness, to sympathize with our every trial and pang. His position declares His unique and incomparable dignity, His intimate nearness to God in glory. His seat is “at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens,” a stronger statement even than what was given at the starting-point of the epistle (1:3). “Throne” is added now, and the “heavens” take the place of “on high.” Could the most prejudiced Israelite fail to perceive the superior dignity and efficacy of such a high-priest above even Aaron or the most favored of his line? Nor could he deny the absolute authority of the scripture which reveals the divine intention now carried out in it. Is it for Jews to doubt the glory of the Messiah or the blessing achieved and secured to those that are His?
There has Christ taken His seat. It is calm and permanent intimacy where no believer can dispute the greatness, and the power, and the glory, any more than the love, and tender interest, and unfailing support. He is “minister of the holies,” in no merely typical sense to bring truth down palpably to infantine minds. It is the house of heavenly worship and divine glory in its fullest reality and display. Therein Christ ministers according to the nicest consideration of the living God, as the sole person suited to Him and to us equally and in perfection, true God and real man, Who obeyed unto death (yea, of the cross), that God's honor should be retrieved and His love meet with a love like His own, Who died for our sins when we were as powerless as ungodly, and thus again proved divine love to the uttermost no less than holiness and righteousness. Such is the minister of the holies, that God in the heavens and the saints on the earth should be adequately conciliated, even in the time of our present infirmity and exposure.
Thus the high-priest we boast is exactly in keeping with “the tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Less and other than He would not suffice for the majesty of God, or for His grace. For as “the Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His hand,” so does He delight in having Him ever nearest to Himself, that He may give us to enjoy His own ineffable satisfaction in Christ's laying down His life that He might take it again (not merely laying it down for the sheep, John 10:15, compared with 17); so too in all the efficacy of His office maintaining us in harmony with Himself in heavenly glory, notwithstanding our pitiable weakness, and the rude storms and hostility of the world we pass through.
We have noticed already that the ground of the epistle is the wilderness, not the land; and so here is the “tabernacle", rather than the temple which would suit the rest actually come, not the pilgrimage. This is full of instruction which Christendom has overlooked and abandoned. Great is the spiritual gain for such as seize the truth by divine teaching and are practically faithful. For nature chafes at the walk of faith and craves what is “settled” or “established” (2 Sam. 7), on the specious plea that the world is the Lord's and the fullness of it, for any present enjoyment as well as to adorn His sanctuary; as the rich and royal adorn for themselves a house of cedars. Whereas in truth since redemption to this day He has walked in a tent and in a tabernacle, and has never spoken a word to us, saying, Why build ye not Me a house of cedars? This is reserved for His Son, the Man of Peace, when the sharp sword proceeding out of His mouth shall have smitten the nations in revolt, and the Man Whose name is the BRANCH shall grow up out of His place and build the temple of Jehovah. Even He shall build the temple of Jehovah; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (Zech. 6). It is still the tribulation and kingdom and patience in Jesus, not yet Himself come to reign in power and glory over the earth. We are nothing if not heavenly, as He is for us in the heavens, minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.
Even the tabernacle of old needed its gold and silver and precious things, as the Levitical high-priest his varied jewels on his shoulders and breast. Ours is the true tabernacle on high where all is the glory of God and His Son in the power of redemption. There created ornaments have no place. There Christ ministers, and thither we approach by faith, looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. And no less than the Holy Spirit of God is given us as God's children to make this access real, and full of peace and joy. How sorrowful for any thus blessed to “turn again to the weak and beggarly elements” of earthly sights and shows and seasons like Israel, or to conceive that corruptible things as silver and gold can be acceptable in the hour now come, when God must be worshipped, if at all, in spirit and in truth—worshipped also as the Father, Christ's Father and our Father, His God and our God.

Brief Thoughts on 1 Timothy 1:15 and 2 Timothy 4:6-8: Part 1

In these scriptures are the two termini of the Christian course here below. At the starting point the chief of sinners receives salvation, accepting that worthy saying; and at the end the same man anticipates a crown of righteousness, which he is assured is laid up for him. And let us mark well that He, Who gives salvation at the beginning as the Savior, gives the crown at the end as the righteous Judge to all that loved and do love His appearing.
If we did not know the converting power accompanying the grace that bringeth salvation, we might wonder how he who calls himself the chief of sinners, when he speaks of the beginning of his course, can at the close look forward to a crown. It was not self-confidence; for while the righteousness spoken of in the above scriptures is the practical righteousness of a saint, yet it is the language of one who rejoices in Christ, Who alone gives the assurance of salvation. And that blessed assurance is not because of the saint's own faithfulness, but through faith in Him Who has accomplished eternal redemption, Who thereby delivers the believer from all fear. For His perfect love casts out fear, and sets him free to devote himself with all his energy to the service of the Lord, that when he is arrived at the finishing of his course he may be able to say, I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.
This righteousness is not that which every believer is made. Believing in Christ he is made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5), and also his faith is imputed to him for righteousness (Rom. 5). But it is the practical righteousness of a faithful believer. Every believer may rejoice in the perfect righteousness with which he is clothed and in which he stands before God, even the righteousness of faith in Christ; but not every one can say, I have fought the good fight. It is well, by the sustaining and persevering grace of God Who never leaves him, if he may say, I have kept the faith, that is, if grace keeps him in the faith. Paul could say both.
Redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, through His blood we have, but conversion or change, turning from darkness to light, is the work of the Spirit of God, Who dwells in us because we are redeemed by the blood of Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit, important and indispensable as it is, in no way redeems us, or adds any value to the precious blood of Christ. This alone reconciles. Man thinks to add his own imperfect works to the infinite worth of His blood. Even God does not add the perfect and necessary work of the Holy Spirit as increasing the value and efficacy of His (Christ's) redeeming (and this eternally) death on the cross; but the Spirit dwells wherever that blood is applied. He convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. but works savingly on every soul that Christ's faithful saying. We are forgiven for Christ's sake, but that is not the being turned from darkness to light, from idols to serve the living and true God; if we are in Christ, we are a new creation.
Conversion and redemption are indissolubly joined in the grace that brings God's salvation to us; for he who is saved is converted, and he who is converted is also redeemed, and we so speak and understand. Nevertheless conversion and redemption are two things distinct from each other, inasmuch as redemption is done for us, a work outside of us, on the cross, but the work of the Holy Spirit precedes and follows within us. The Spirit of God works in all believers because the blood of Christ has washed away all their sins, to be molded and fashioned according to the will and purpose of God. There is no difference in the relative standing of every believer before God, all are redeemed, all forgiven, all made the sons of God through faith in Christ. But in the actual condition, seen even in the sons, what lack of faith! What failure! What worldliness among those who profess separation from the world! But thanks be to God, the blood abides, and in spite of failures and hardness of heart, the Holy Spirit in us works till all is judged morally and we transformed according to the mind of God.
To receive the crown is not the special privilege of an apostle. There is a crown laid up for every believer to be given at the appearing. The word of God places it in view now, as an incentive to endurance and perseverance whatever may be the roughness and sorrow in the way between the two termini, and with it as an encircling scroll—let no man take it. For while the Lord Jesus as Savior gives salvation to the chief of sinners at the beginning of the course, He holds the crown, as the righteous Judge to be given in due time, and this in connection with the saint's responsibility.
But the saint, the believer, is converted and redeemed before his new responsibility. There is the responsibility of the unconverted man (a fearful account he will have to render), yet that is not here, but the believer's, now that he is a new creature. For the grace of God appears first bringing salvation to the lost and dead; then when alive again by the quickening voice of the Son of God, that grace teaches the believer to deny all ungodliness, and to live soberly, righteously and godly, and to look for the appearing of His glory (Titus 2). To deny all ungodliness, to live soberly and righteously, is with many the sum-total of Christianity, reducing it to the level of duty. Not so. For here godliness is added, and no law or commandment ever made a man godly. It might make him apparently righteous (provided that temptation was not too strong) but never godly, and this is joined to the looking for (i e. waiting) His glorious appearing, that is, the appearing of His glory; when that comes, righteous retribution and judgment also come, There can be no completeness without looking for the appearing. This is not possible but for him who loves it—unless as a criminal condemned looks for the execution. To live godly, and in heart to love His appearing is the normal condition of every believer—to love it and live in the light of it. Is this our condition? Are we pressing onward with undeviating step, amidst sorrows and trials, hastening (as Peter says) the coming of the day of God?
(To be continued.)

God Dwelling in Us and We in God

The eternal life which was with the Father has been manifested and has been imparted to us: thus we are partakers of the divine nature. The affections of that nature acting in us rest by the power of the Holy Ghost in the enjoyment of communion with God Who is its source: we dwell in Him and He in us. The actings of this nature prove that He dwells in us. The first thing is the statement of the truth that, if we thus love, God Himself dwells in us. He who works this love is there. But He is infinite and the heart rests in Him. We know at the same time that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. But this passage, so rich in blessing, demands that we should follow it with order.
He begins with the fact that love is of God. It is His nature: He is its source. Therefore he who loves is born of God, is a partaker of His nature. Also he knows God, for he knows what love is, and God is its fullness. This is the doctrine which makes everything depend on our participation in the divine nature (vers. 7, 8).
Now this might be transformed on the one hand into mysticism, by leading us to fix our attention on our love for God, and love in us, that being God's nature (as if it was said, love is God, not God is love), and by seeking to fathom the divine nature in ourselves; or to doubt on the other, because we do not find the effects of the divine nature in us as we would. In effect he who does not love (for the thing, as ever in John, is expressed in an abstract way) does not know God; for God is love. The possession of the nature is necessary to the understanding of what that nature is, and for the knowledge of Him Who is its perfection.
But, if I seek to know it and have or give the proof of it, it is not to the existence of the nature in us that the Spirit of God directs the thoughts of the believers as their object. God, he has said, is love; and this love has been manifested toward us in that He has given His only Son, that we might live through Him. The proof is not the life in us, but that God has given His Son in order that we might live, and further to make propitiation for our sins. God be praised! we know this love, not by the poor results of its action in ourselves, but in its perfection in God, and that even in a manifestation of it toward us, which is wholly outside ourselves. It is a fact outside ourselves which is the manifestation of this perfect love. We enjoy it by participating in the divine nature, we know it by the infinite gift of God's Son. The exercise and the proof of it are there.
The full scope of this principle, and all the force of its truth, are stated and demonstrated in that which follows. It is striking to see how the Holy Spirit, in an epistle which is essentially occupied with the life of Christ and its fruits, gives the proof and full character of love in that which is wholly without ourselves. Nor can anything be more perfect than the way in which the love of God is here set forth from the time it is occupied with our sinful state till we stand before the judgment-seat. God has thought of all: love toward us as sinners, in verses 9, 10; in us as saints, verse 12; perfect in our condition in view of the day of judgment, in verse 17.
In the first verses the love of God is manifested in the gift of Christ: first, to give us life—we were dead; secondly, to make propitiation—we were guilty. Our whole case is taken up. In the second of these verses (10) the great principle of grace, what love is, where and how known, is clearly stated in words of infinite importance as to the very nature of Christianity. Herein is love, not that we loved God (that was the principle of the law), but in that He loved us, and sent His Son to make propitiation for our sins. Here then it is that we have learned that which love is. It was perfect in Him when we had no love for Him; perfect in Him in that He exercised it towards us when we were in our sins, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for them. The apostle then affirms, no doubt, that he who loves not knows not God. The pretension to possess this love is judged by this means; but in order to know love we must not seek for it in ourselves, but must seek it manifested in God when we had none. He gives the life which loves, and He has made propitiation for our sins.
And now with regard to the enjoyment and privileges of this love:—if God has so loved us (this is the ground that he takes), we ought to love one another (ver. 11).
No one has ever seen God: if we love one another, God dwells in us. His presence, Himself dwelling in us, rises in the excellency of His nature above all the harriers of circumstances, and attaches us to those who are His. It is God in the power of His nature which is the source of thought and feeling and diffuses itself among those in whom it is. One can understand this. How is it that I love strangers from another land, persons of different habits, whom I have never known, more intimately than members of my own family after the flesh? How is it that I have thoughts in common, objects infinitely loved in common, affections powerfully engaged, a stronger bond with persons whom I have never seen, than with the otherwise dear companions of my childhood? It is because there is in them and in me a source of thoughts and affections which is not human. God is in it. God dwells in us. What happiness! What a bond! Does He not communicate Himself Co the soul? Does He not render it conscious of His presence in love? Assuredly, yes. And if He is thus in us, the blessed source of our thoughts, can there be fear or distance, or uncertainty, with regard to what He is? None at all. His love is perfected in us. We know Him as love in our souls: the second great point in this remarkable passage, the enjoyment of divine love in our souls.
The apostle has not yet said, “We know that we dwell in him.” He will say it now. But, if the love of the brethren is in us, God dwells in us. When it is in exercise, we are conscious of the presence of God, as perfect love in us. It fills the heart, and thus is exercised in us. Now this consciousness is the effect of the presence of His Spirit as the source and power of life and nature in us. He has given us, not “His Spirit,” the proof that He dwells in us, but “of His Spirit:” we participate by His presence in us in divine affections through the Spirit; and thus we not only know that He dwells in us, but the presence of the Spirit, acting in a nature which is that of God in us, makes us conscious that we dwell in Him. For He is the infiniteness and perfection of that which is now in us.
The heart rests in this, and enjoys Him, and is hidden from all that is outside Him, in the consciousness of the perfect love in which (thus dwelling in Him) one finds oneself. The Spirit makes us dwell in God and gives us thus the consciousness that He dwells in us. Thus we, in the savor and consciousness of the love that was in it, can testify of that in which it was manifested beyond all Jewish limits, that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. We shall see further another character of it.
If we compare verse 12 of our chapter 4. with chapter 1:18 of the Gospel by John, we shall better apprehend the scope of the apostle's teaching here. The same difficulty, or if you will, the same truth is presented in both cases. No one has ever seen God. How is this met?
In John 1:18 the only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. He Who is in the most perfect intimacy, in the most absolute proximity and enjoyment of the Father's love, the one, eternal, sufficient object that knew the love of the Father as His only Son, has revealed Him unto men as He has Himself known Him. What is the answer in our Epistle to this same difficulty? “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” By the communication of the divine nature, and by the dwelling of God in us, we inwardly enjoy Him as He has been manifested and declared by His only Son. His love is perfect in us, known to the heart, as it has been declared in Jesus. The God who has been declared by Him dwells in us. What a thought! that the answer to the fact that no one has ever seen God is equally that the only Son has declared Him, and that He dwells in us. What light this throws upon the words, “which thing is true in Him and in you!" For it is in that Christ has become our life that