Bible Treasury: Volume 20

Table of Contents

1. Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 1.
2. Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 2.
3. Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 3.
4. Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 4.
5. Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 5.
6. Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 6.
7. Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 7.
8. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:21-24
9. Hebrews 12:9-11
10. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:1-2
11. The Trial of Faith: Part 1
12. Lord's Coming and the Church
13. A Letter on John 16
14. Hebrews 11:1-3
15. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 1
16. Song of Solomon 1, 2:1-2
17. Education of the World: Opposed to Scripture, Christ and Christianity
18. Woman
19. Scripture Sketches: Andrew's Brother
20. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:3-5
21. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 2
22. Song of Solomon 2:3-17
23. The Seal of God's Foundation
24. Hebrews 11:4-7
25. The Trial of Faith: Part 2
26. The Tempter
27. The Comfort of the Scriptures: 1
28. Scripture Sketches: John Mark
29. Revelation 22
30. Letter on Christ's Person
31. Dr. Salmon's Historical Introduction to the New Testament: Review
32. Scripture Queries and Answers: Sheep and Gentiles
33. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:6-20
34. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 3
35. Song of Solomon 3
36. Morsels From Family Records: 1. Genesis 4-5
37. The Comfort of the Scriptures: 2
38. Hebrews 11:8-10
39. The Trial of Faith: Part 3
40. Eve Tempted
41. Coming of the Lord in Revelation 2-3
42. Scripture Sketches: Religio Medici
43. Be Baptised and Wash Away Thy Sins
44. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 4
45. Song of Solomon 4
46. Morsels From Family Records: 2. 1 Chronicles 1-6
47. The Comfort of the Scriptures: 3
48. Hebrews 11:11-12
49. The Fall of Man
50. Assembly and Ministry: Part 1
51. Scripture Sketches: the Cloak That I Left at Troas
52. The Revelation as God Gave It: 1
53. On Ministry
54. Scripture Queries and Answers: 1 Corinthians 15:29
55. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:25-32
56. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 5
57. Song of Solomon 5
58. The Sinner Saved: Part 1
59. The Comfort of the Scriptures: 4
60. Hebrews 11:13-16
61. Naked
62. Morsels From Family Records: 3. Ezra 2:59-63
63. Scripture Sketches: Caleb
64. The Revelation as God Gave It: 2
65. Letter on Assembly: Part 2
66. Scripture Query and Answer: Omission of Dan in Revelation 7
67. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:1-2
68. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 6
69. Song of Solomon 6
70. The Hidden Treasure and the Costly Pearl: 1
71. The Sinner Saved: Part 2
72. Hebrews 11:17-19
73. Where Art Thou?
74. Scripture Sketches: Othniel
75. The Revelation as God Gave It: 3
76. Assembly and Ministry: Part 3
77. Scripture Query and Answer: Genesis 46:26 and Acts 7:14
78. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:3-4
79. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 7
80. Song of Solomon 7
81. The Hidden Treasure and the Costly Pearl: 2
82. The Changeless Christ
83. Hebrews 11:20-22
84. Convicted
85. Morsels From Family Records: 4. Matthew 1
86. Scripture Sketches: Ehud
87. The Revelation as God Gave It: 4
88. The Soul Neither Mortal nor to Sleep: Part 1
89. Scripture Queries and Answers: Eternal or Everlasting; Whole World; GEN 49:10, 2CH 36:21, and MAT 2:1, Parables in MAT 13;
90. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:5-8
91. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 8
92. Song of Solomon 8
93. The Hidden Treasure and the Costly Pearl: 3
94. Morsels From Family Records: 5.
95. Hebrews 11:23-26
96. The Soul Neither Mortal nor to Sleep: Part 2
97. Scripture Sketches: Joseph of Nazareth
98. The Revelation as God Gave It: 5
99. The Serpent and the Woman's Seed
100. Scripture Queries and Answers: MAT 24 and 25; MAT 7:7-8; JOH 19:14 Compared with MAR 15:25
101. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:9-12
102. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 9
103. Ecclesiastes: Introduction
104. The Hidden Treasure and the Costly Pearl: 4
105. Morsels From Family Records: 6.
106. Hebrews 11:27-29
107. The Soul Neither Mortal nor to Sleep: Part 3
108. Heaven Opened
109. The Jewish Leper
110. Scripture Sketches: Shamgar
111. The Revelation as God Gave It: 6
112. Scripture Queries and Answers: Jacob Serving for Leah and Rachel; PSA 22:21; 2CO 5:21; 1JO 5:11
113. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:13-17
114. Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 10
115. Ecclesiastes 1
116. The True Vine
117. Glorify God in Your Body
118. Hebrews 11:30-31
119. This Do in Remembrance of Me
120. The Gentile Centurion and His Servant
121. Scripture Sketches: Deborah
122. The Revelation as God Gave It: 7
123. Women Praying and Prophesying
124. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:18-22
125. The Manslayer
126. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 1
127. Ecclesiastes 2
128. Peter's Mother-in-law
129. Hebrews 11:32-36
130. The Precious Blood
131. Scripture Sketches: Deborah's Song
132. The Revelation as God Gave It: 8
133. On Hymns: 1
134. Esau Seeking the Blessing
135. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 7:1-10
136. Abimelech
137. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 2
138. Ecclesiastes 3-4
139. The Paralytic Healed
140. Hebrews 11:37-40
141. Scripture Sketches: 24. Joash of Abiezer
142. The Revelation as God Gave It: 9
143. God's Ways and Testimony
144. Scripture Queries and Answers: When do O. T. Saints Rise; Church Left Behind?; PSA 69:4
145. The Love of Christ for His Own: Review
146. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 7:11-16
147. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 3
148. Ecclesiastes 5-6
149. The Tempest and Unbelief Rebuked
150. Meditations on Ephesians 1:1-14
151. Hebrews 12:1-3
152. Scripture Sketches: Gideon
153. On Hymns: 2
154. On Worldly or Religious Unions
155. Scripture Queries and Answers: Job 22:30
156. Advertisement
157. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 7:17-24
158. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 4
159. Ecclesiastes 7
160. The Demoniac Delivered
161. Meditations on Ephesians 1:15-22; 2
162. Meditations on Ephesians 2: Part 1
163. Hebrews 12:4-8
164. Power, Religion and Commerce: How They Act Against God: 1
165. Scripture Sketches: Simeon of the Temple
166. On Hymns: 3
167. Scripture Queries and Answers: Wine; 2CO 5:10; Fallen from Grace; 1CO 11:33
168. Advertisement Now Ready
169. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 8:1-5
170. The Stone Laid Before Joshua
171. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 5
172. Ecclesiastes 8
173. The Woman Healed and Sent Away in Peace
174. Breaking Bread at Troas: 1
175. Meditations on Ephesians 2: Part 2
176. Power, Religion and Commerce: How They Act Against God: 2
177. On Hymns: 4
178. Scripture Queries and Answers: Coming For or With His Saints; Abram's Age; Spirit Dwelling With You
179. Advertisement
180. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 8:6-12
181. Upon One Stone Are Seven Eyes
182. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 6
183. Ecclesiastes 9
184. The Daughter of Jairus Raised
185. Breaking Bread at Troas: 2
186. Meditations on Ephesians 3
187. Hebrews 12:12-17
188. Power, Religion and Commerce: How They Act Against God: 3
189. Letters on Certain Points in Romanism: 1. Rule of Faith
190. Scripture Queries and Answers: 2SA 5:8; DAN 9:26-27; Heretic and Reject;
191. Advertisement Shortly
192. Advertisement Hymns, Selected and Revised in 1894, 9D
193. Advertisement and Bound With Good Tidings Hymn Book, 1/-
194. Advertisement Christ Tempted and Sympathizing:
195. Advertisement a New Edition at 3D. by W. Kelly
196. Advertisement Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles, 5/6
197. Advertisement Ditto 1 & 2 Thess. 1/6 & 2/-
198. Advertisement Ditto 1 & 2 Tim. 3/6
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202. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 8:13-19
203. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 7
204. Ecclesiastes 10
205. The Healing of the Blind in the House
206. Breaking Bread at Troas: 3
207. The Righteousness of God: What Is It? 1
208. Meditations on Ephesians 4:1-16
209. Hebrews 12:18-21
210. Power, Religion and Commerce: How They Act Against God: 4
211. Letters on Certain Points in Romanism: 2. Rule of Faith
212. Scripture Queries and Answers: LUK 16:9; JOH 15:2, 6; ACT 7:16
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217. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 8:20-22
218. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 8
219. Ecclesiastes 11
220. Thoughts on Simon Peter: 1. His Life and Testimony
221. The Early Haul of Fishes
222. The Righteousness of God: What Is It? 2
223. Meditations on Ephesians 4:12-32
224. Hebrews 12:22-24
225. Man Fallen and Christianity
226. Scripture Query and Answer: God as Father
227. Dr. Dale's Legacy to Christendom: Review
228. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 9:1-7
229. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 9
230. Ecclesiastes 12
231. Thoughts on Simon Peter: 2. His Life and Testimony
232. The Water That Was Made Wine
233. The Righteousness of God: What Is It? 3
234. Meditations on Ephesians 5:1-21
235. Hebrews 12:25-29
236. The Latest Sect: Part 1
237. Letters on Certain Points in Romanism: 3. Its Infidelity
238. Behold, the Lord Cometh
239. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 9:8-11
240. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 10
241. The Sorrowing Sisters of Bethany: Part 1
242. Thoughts on Simon Peter: 3. His Life and Testimony
243. Healing of the Nobleman's Son
244. The Righteousness of God: What Is It? 4
245. Meditations on Ephesians 5:22-33
246. The Mystery of Godliness: 1
247. Hebrews 13:1-6
248. On Hymns: 5
249. Letters on Certain Points in Romanism: 4. Transubstantiation
250. Scripture Queries and Answers: Sanctification and Cleansing; Deuteronomy
251. Erratum
252. Advertisement
253. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 9:12-17
254. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 11
255. The Sower
256. The Sorrowing Sisters of Bethany: Part 2
257. Thoughts on Simon Peter: 4. His Life and Testimony
258. The Righteousness of God: What Is It? 5
259. Meditations on Ephesians 6:1-9
260. The Mystery of Godliness: 2
261. Hebrews 13:7-9
262. Letters on Singing: 1. Introductory
263. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 9:18-19
264. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, 12:1-26
265. The Darnel of the Field
266. Thoughts on Simon Peter: 5. His Life and Testimony
267. The Righteousness of God: What Is It? 6
268. Meditations on Ephesians 6:10-24
269. The Mystery of Godliness: 3
270. Hebrews 13:10-16
271. Letters on Singing: 2. With the Spirit and With the Understanding
272. The Cup in Gethsemane: 1
273. Scripture Queries and Answers: Gentiles the Israel of God?; Reigning Over, Not On, the Earth
274. Daniel: Review
275. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 9:20-24
276. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 12:27-47
277. The Mustard Seed
278. Thoughts on Simon Peter: 6. His Life and Testimony
279. Proofs of the Resurrection
280. The Righteousness of God: What Is It? 7
281. Hebrews 13:17-19
282. The Lord's Coming, Not the Saint's Departing
283. Letters on Singing: 3. Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs
284. The Cup in Gethsemane: 2
285. The Latest Sect: Part 2
286. The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 9:25-29
287. Nehemiah: The Remnant in Jerusalem, Chapter 13
288. Jehovah Reigneth
289. The Leaven
290. Thoughts on Simon Peter: 7. His Life and Testimony
291. The Righteousness of God: 8
292. Hebrews 13:20-25
293. Women Speaking in Public
294. Scripture Queries and Answers: Likeness of the Kingdom of Heaven; Names of the Twelve; Law Abrogated

Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 1.

The sympathy of Christ is associated with His priesthood on high. He sympathizes not with sin, nor with sinners as such, but with the suffering saints of God. At the same time the Holy Ghost looks back upon Christ's own experience when He was upon earth. He was tempted, but then the temptation was not in any way from within. There was in Him no propensity to evil that answered to the trial of Satan; but, on the contrary, all that the enemy found was dependence on God, simple unwavering faith in His word; never a carnal working, as in our hearts.
Hence, as there was in Christ the total absence of self-will inwardly, as He in every respect hated and rejected evil, there was necessarily deep and habitual suffering. The effect of temptation on fallen humanity is not suffering hut rather pleasure, if we can call that pleasure which is the gratification of our evil nature. Christ knew nothing of this in either His person or His experience. Of motions in the flesh, inward solicitations to sin, He had none: He “knew no sin.” Hence, in order to guard against error on so holy and delicate a theme, it is necessary that we should hold fast the truth of Christ's person as God has revealed it.
It is thus the Holy Ghost introduces the matter in the Epistle to the Hebrews. He begins with the person of the Lord Jesus. He insists upon that which, after all, is the most necessary foundation—His divine glory (chap. 1.). From Old Testament witnesses, Messiah is demonstrated to be the Son (verses 1-5) and object of angelic worship (verse 6), to be God (verse 8), yea, to be Jehovah (verses 10-12). If I do not start with this as my faith in Christ, as the basis on which all His other glory is built up, my perception of the truth in general will be soon seen to be radically false. No one thing at bottom can be right with us, if we are wrong as to Him Who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Next, having thus fully shown His proper divine dignity, the Holy Ghost takes up His humanity (chap. 2.); but there is the most careful exclusion of all thought that Christ assumed humanity in the fallen and morally feeble state in which it is in us. Because the children (the objects of God's favor in this world) were “partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” It was needful that He should become a man, in order, by His Heath, to vindicate God, annul Satan's power, and accomplish propitiation. But it was in no way incumbent on Him to take into His person here below the smallest taint of the fall. Nay, it was essential that He should not be thus defiled. If it is required of a steward that he be faithful, no less indispensable is it that an offering should be pure and spotless for the altar of God. The Lamb of God must needs be free from the remotest degree of infection. And so Christ was in all respects and to the full. Other scriptures prove this amply in detail, and fully confirm what we have definitely in the Hebrews that He took blood and flesh without the very least element of fallen nature in connection with it. As to proclivity or even liability to evil, there is absolute silence; yea, rather, we shall see that such thoughts are carefully cut off beforehand.
In the Gospels (where we naturally look for the complete, because inspired, historical accounts of the person of Christ, more particularly in the Gospel of Luke, where He is displayed specifically as man) we find the fullest evidence of this. “The angel answered and said unto her [i.e., the virgin Mary], The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also the holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” It is evident, therefore, that though truly born of a woman, though deriving human nature from His mother Mary, there was even in respect to this a divine action, which distinguished our blessed Lord most signally and strongly from all others from His birth. What Rome has lyingly, and as a thing of but yesterday, decreed of Mary, is most true of Jesus: He, not she, was immaculate in His human nature; and this through the energy of the Holy Ghost (as even the most rudimentary symbols of Christendom confess, I thank God), the result of the overshadowing power of the Highest. Hence therefore “That Holy Thing” could be its description from the first. He alone of all men was born “holy;” not made innocent and upright only, like Adam, still less—like Adam's sons—conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity. He is designated “That Holy Thing,” it will be observed, when the question was not of what was simply divine (which indeed it would be wicked folly to doubt and needless to affirm here), but of what was human. “The holy thing which shall be born [of thee] shall be called Son of God.”
( To be continued, D.V.)

Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 2.

Matthew had already presented the birth of the Lord suitably to the design of his Gospel. When his mother Mary was “espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” He was thus Messiah-Jehovah, called Jesus consequently (for He should save His people from their sins), the virgin's Son, Emmanuel, according to prophecy. His humiliation, His rejection by His own people, follows; but, first of all, there is the clearest statement that what was begotten in Mary, what was born of His mother, was of the Holy Ghost. It is wretchedly low and even dangerous ground to say, with divines of repute, that Jesus was born holy because born of a virgin. He was indeed so born of the virgin; but the holiness of His humanity, though of the very substance of His mother, turned upon the miraculous conception by the Holy Ghost.
Jesus then was not only Son of God from all eternity in virtue of His divine nature, but He was so called also because of the divine energy manifest in His generation as man, and therefore the unparalleled blessedness of His conception and His birth, immeasurable though the self-emptying was for Him to take manhood at all. The Babe of Bethlehem, the virgin's Son, was not born, we may surely say, of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God in the highest sense. It was not merely as we are said to be born again to see God's kingdom, which Christ is never—could never be—said to be. In His case it would be altogether derogatory, and a denial of His holy humanity, to say nothing of His Deity. If we may so express it, He, the man Christ Jesus, was generated holy. “The Word was made flesh “; “God (or He who) was manifest in flesh.” But even the process by which He came into the world, though “by the woman,” was the fruit of God's power; it was a miracle of the highest rank, differing not in degree merely but in kind from the birth of Isaac, wondrous as this was; or from that of John the Baptist, filled though he was with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb.
There is another most serious consideration which ought not to be forgotten. Fallen humanity calls not for amelioration but redemption, and needed it wherever it might be. Were the notion true that the Word was united to fallen human nature here below, He must have died to redeem it, that is, to redeem Himself! –overthrowing, not only His work of atonement for others, but His own person. In every point of view, the idea is as false as it is destructive—an intellectual trifling with the great mystery of godliness.
There was therefore no admixture of the minutest trace of that sad heirloom of inward evil which Adam had handed down to his posterity. Human nature now there was in His person, as surely as He was and is God; but, by God's will and power, it was unsullied and holy. There was secured the absolute exclusion of the poison which sin had instilled into man's nature in every other instance. Hence the Lord Jesus was born of the woman, not of the man, being in quite a peculiar sense the woman's Seed. For thus it was the Holy Ghost was pleased to set aside for the humanity of Jesus every taint of sin inherent in fallen human nature (of course, in His mother herself, as in all others of the race). Being so born, even the humanity of our Lord was “holy,” as we have seen. Accordingly, in His person there was the most perfect suitability for the work on account of which He came, sent of the Father. On the divine side He could not but be perfect, for He was the true God and eternal life; on the human side there was miraculously effected the complete disappearance of all evil for the body which God prepared Him. The power of the Highest overshadowed His mother from the outset, and thus only was “The holy thing” born of her in due time. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one,” says Job (14.). This, and far more than this, was “That Holy thing” which was born of the virgin. With God nothing is impossible. Thus, long afterward, the angel disclosed what baffled Job of old and satisfied Mary on the spot. Christ alone is, in every sense, the power of God and the wisdom of God.
With this agree the types of the Old Testament. Take that most conspicuous one in Lev. 2 In Lev. 1 Christ is represented as the burnt-offering; in chapter ii. it is Christ as the meat or rather cake offering. This (the minchah, gift or oblation) had nothing to do with what we call “meat;” it was essentially bloodless. In the burnt-offering there was the giving up of life; but in this there was no question of sacrificing animals, or of anything that involved the shedding of blood. It was of fine flour, and thus aptly set forth what the Lord's state was as connected with the earth (that is, in His body derived from His mother). There was, of course, no leaven or corrupt nature allowed, nor even honey or the mere sweetness of natural affection, pleasant as it is, but unfit for an offering to God. Frankincense was there, and the salt of the covenant of God; and, what is much to be noted in contrast with leaven, there was oil mingled with the flour in forming the cake. This answers exactly to the passage in Luke 1. It was the well-known emblem of the Holy Spirit of God, Who shut out what otherwise must naturally have sprung from the virgin. Thus her child by His power was absolutely free from sin. Of necessity all the offerings of Israel belonged to the earth. The bullock, the sheep, the goats, the lambs, the pigeons, the turtle-doves, &c., were necessarily of this creation, if man had to offer them. But there could be nothing where there entered less suspicion of evil than in flour. It was expressly also “a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire.” It was the growth of the earth, and set forth the Lord's human nature.
I employ the expression “human nature,” as I presume is ordinarily done, abstractly for humanity, without a question of the state in which it was created originally or into which it quickly fell. Just so the word “flesh” is used sometimes in scripture for man's nature simply, as in “the Word was made flesh,” “God was manifest in flesh,” Christ was “put to death in flash,” “Jesus Christ come in flesh,” &c. The special doctrinal sense of the term, as characterizing the moral condition of the race, particularly in the Epistles of Paul, looks at the principle of self-will in the heart. But what believer, thinking of our Lord, would contend for, who does not shudder at, such a meaning in His case? By the context we discern its proper bearing.
Thus, ordinarily, “human nature” is or may be used irrespectively of its actual evil state, unless morally contrasted with the new nature. Human nature was in unfallen Adam; it was in Christ; and we of course have it now. But however really in all, it evidently was in a totally different state in Adam before the fall, and in Adam as in us since the fall: in Christ alone scripture pronounces it “holy.” There are thus three distinct phases of humanity here below—innocent, fallen, holy. Christ's manhood was in the condition of Adam neither before nor after the fall.
Plainly therefore the state of human nature is altogether independent of its real existence. The fall altered the condition of Adam's humanity; but humanity remained as truly after that as before. In like manner the Son of God, the Word, could be made flesh, and did become man, though ever infinitely more than man, taking human nature into union with the divine, so as to form one person; but the condition of His humanity must be ascertained from the scriptures which treat of it. Thus in Luke 1 we have seen that, from His conception and all through, Christ's humanity was “holy” in a sense never said of any other; not merely that the Holy Ghost was poured out upon Him, but that He was “The holy thing,” born of His mother and called the Son of God.
Is it now asked, what was the object of the outpouring of the Spirit on Christ when He began to be thirty years of age? Assuredly it was in no wise for resisting inward liability to evil, or for any moral dealing with His human nature; for in Him was no sin. The Spirit was poured out for the testimony and display in man of God's power over Satan and his works. It was the Holy Ghost, not regenerating, nor cleansing (for there was nothing in Him, no, not in His human nature, that needed or even admitted of any such operation), but in power. Thus the Lord Jesus, going forth to be tempted of the devil or in the public service of God, was pleased to act in the might of the Holy Spirit. Enduring temptation, working miracles, preaching—all was done in that divine energy. We alas! may enter into temptation by the flesh, but in the Holy Ghost the Lord repelled evil, yet endured all trial. Hence the anointing with the Holy Ghost was a question of divine power, as it is said, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Ignorant irreverence gathers from this that Christ had fallen human nature, and that, being liable to sin, the anointing of the Holy Ghost was given to keep Him from yielding! All who say this unwittingly blaspheme His person and moral glory. That Adam unfallen was peccable, the fact itself proved: that Christ ever was peccable, denies the truth of what He was and is, both in His Deity and in His holy humanity.
And here weigh the deeply instructive type of Lev. 8 Aaron alone is anointed first without blood (verse 12); when his sons came into question, he is with them, and then the blood of consecration is put on him and them (verses 23, 24), as the righteous ground for their being anointed with him (verse 30). So Jesus alone could be and was anointed (and as man, mark, it was) without blood-shedding. The Holy One of God, He needed no offering to receive the Holy Ghost thus. But if He would have us enjoying the fellowship of that unction from on high, blood there must be and was. So He, first anointed before His death, enters the holiest for us by virtue of His blood; and being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He shed forth what was seen and heard at Pentecost and thereafter. What a testimony first to His holy manhood, next to the value of His blood for us!
The doctrine of Irving in its worst shape was, not that the Lord was ever guilty of sin, nor that He ever yielded to the overtures of Satan, but that, having all the frailties within that we have, His triumph over them by the Holy Ghost becomes the ensample to us, that we too should gain the victory over the same evil in our nature by the self-same Spirit dwelling in us. Irving insisted loudly on the holiness of Christ's person; not in the body prepared for Him, but in His practice. His heresy lay in imputing fallen humanity to Him; and Christ's holiness was simply therefore what any saint's might be in kind, if not degree, through the energy of the Holy Ghost, and not in the specialty of His person.
(To be continued, D.V.)

Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 3.

That Christ was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” scripture declares; but even this shows that fallen nature, peccable humanity, was not in Him, though truly a man, without anything before the outward eye to single Him from others; a man who could be buffeted, spit upon, crucified, and slain. The Lord Jesus, thus viewed, had nothing apparently to mark Him out from the crowd. It could not have been said that He was in the likeness of flesh, any more than that He was in the likeness of God; for this would have denied the truth of His humanity and of His deity. “The Word was God;” “the Word was made flesh.” The one was and is His eternal glory; the other, what He deigned to become in time and will not give up for evermore. But it could be and is said also, that He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh; which, as far as it goes, proves that He had not the reality of sinful flesh, but only the likeness of it. Otherwise, He could not have been a sacrifice for sin; He could not have been made sin, as He was, on the cross. In “a body hast Thou prepared Me” the same truth is indicated, as we have already seen. Christ's body, though as much a human body as that of any man, was not generated and made after the same fallen fashion as ours. Even in this His humiliation God prepared Him a body as for none else, that it should have a specific character, suited for the singular work He had to do (Heb. 10). It is all a blunder to suppose that the reality of the incarnation involves the condition either of Adam fallen or of Adam unfallen.
The dilemma is not only fallacious but heterodox that Christ must have been limited to the one condition or the other. I deny the alternative, which depends on the profound mistake of shutting us up to the condition of the first Adam, utterly ignoring the glorious contrast of the Second man. The assumption is that, if Christ took neither unfallen nor fallen humanity, He could not have taken man's nature at all. Fatal oversight of the Christ of God I It is agreed that bare unfallen humanity, such as Adam originally had, is not true of Christ; but what an abyss of evil is the conclusion, that therefore His was fallen manhood! How plain too that the error goes very deep: for if simple unfallen humanity be exploded, and if Christ, in order to be man, can only take fallen humanity into union with His deity, it must be fallen humanity still, or He has ceased to be man. This was just the dilemma in which Irving involved himself (“Human Nature,” p. 135) when attempting to fix it on those who challenged his heterodoxy.
But Christ is contrasted with Adam as a fresh stock and a new head, the Second man and last Adam, not a mere continuation of the first, unfallen or fallen. He is not a mere living soul (as Adam was before he fell), but a quickening or life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15). “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Was Adam unfallen either righteous or holy? Scripture never says so, and it cannot be broken. But I go farther: what scripture does say is inconsistent with such a standing. Absence of evil, creature good,” is not holiness. There was this positive intrinsic superiority to evil in the Lord Jesus even from His very birth and before it. We are conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity; the Lord's flesh was neither conceived nor made thus, but holy by the power of the Spirit.
It is not true that a fallen man has merely flesh and blood; he has “the flesh” besides, as we see in the Epistle to the Romans and elsewhere. All do not distinguish rightly between “the flesh,” and “flesh and blood.” In us there is both, but Christ never had the flesh in this moral sense of the expression: because He had not, indeed, God condemned it morally in His life, and executed sentence on it judicially (but in grace to us) in His death. Not only for our sins did Christ suffer, but for sin. He took on Himself as our substitute, not merely the acts and ways and workings, but the root of evil. Him Who knew no sin God made sin for us, as it is written, that we might become God's righteousness in Him. Thus it is not all the truth that sins were laid upon Him, but He was dealt with as to the subtle principle of sin. God did what the law could not do. The law could only take up positive transgressions; but the bottom of the evil the law could not reach, still less in grace to us. The law, even the holy and just and good commandment of God, could not do what God did in sending His own Son—could not get hold of the hidden spring of evil to deal with it summarily and forever, and in mercy withal to us. Christ both manifested the total absence of the flesh in His life (for He never did anything but the will of God, and thus detected the rebellious ruined condition of every other man), and in His death bore its judgment, that we might stand before God in His risen life, free from all condemnation. “God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” This was precisely the impossibility of the law. The law could condemn the sinner; it could work wrath; it could put sin to account; it could give knowledge of sin; but it could neither blot out and forgive sins, nor execute God's sentence on the root of sin, so as to deliver the believer. God in Christ condemned the whole principle of fallen humanity or “sin in the flesh,” and “for sin,” i.e., sacrificially: the cross was the divine condemnation of it all, root and branch.
Thus in our Lord personally, besides His being the eternal Word, the Son of the Father, there were these two distinct things: first, that which answered to the type of the mingling of the oil with the pure flour unleavened (Lev. 2:5); next, that which corresponded to the pouring oil thereon (6). The first is the action of the Holy Ghost described in Luke 1 from the very outset of His humanity, in order that what was conceived and born of the Virgin should be “holy.” The second is what is described in Luke 2; 3:22 and Acts 10:38. It is the force of the former truth that so many in our day, as of old, and doubtless all through, are apt to overlook, confounding it with the latter, which is quite another matter. Consequently they have so far lost the person of Christ. They have (as regards the human side of His person) reduced the Savior, the Salvation of God, into a mere child of Adam, singularly blessed no doubt, but far beneath the Christ of God. They apprehend not the mystery of His person, in itself altogether distinct from the anointing of the Holy Ghost, which accordingly only came on Him when He was baptized in the Jordan before He entered on His public service some thirty years after His birth. His person then is the truth at stake, nor can anything be so truly fundamental.
The anointing in question points not to the formation of human nature in absolute purity (though of the virgin) for the person of Christ, but to the Spirit's conferred energy over and above that pure nature. It was for His public work; it was with a view to the display of divine power in the humble and obedient Man: “Him [the Son of man] hath God the Father sealed.” His own internal experience was not more really holy or acceptable to God afterward than before. The point was the manifestation of the mighty grace of the Spirit in man to others. No doubt Satan did then come and try our Lord—did set in movement every possible engine of temptation, as we are told in Luke 4:13. But “temptation” here is used, as scripture ordinarily uses the word, not for the working of inward frailty or evil, but for the solicitations of an external enemy, for the devil's presentation of objects here to allure from the path of God.
The first of the three great temptations, when the forty days' exposure to the devil had ended, was the suggestion which appealed to the Lord's feeling of hunger. “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Why not? He was God's Son, He was hungry. Surely it was an admirable opportunity to prove His divine mission, as well as to satisfy the natural need of the body. Could He not turn stones into bread? This was what may be called the natural appeal. The second (at least in the Gospel of Luke, who was inspired to present the temptations in their moral order, whether or not the order of historic sequence was preserved) was the worldly appeal—the offer of all the kingdoms of the world on condition of Christ's doing homage before the devil, The third (in Luke—for Matthew here keeps to the simple order of the facts, and shows it was the second historically) was the spiritual appeal, and so not merely on the pinnacle or edge of the temple, but through the word of God. But in all the Holy One of God defeated the devil, and this through the word used in obedience.
Thus we, have seen the Lord entirely refuses the temptations to make the stones bread. It was the devil's suggestion, not God's word, which itself, and not bread, is the true food of the believer's life. With unwavering perfectness Christ lives as man, the Son of God on earth, by the word of God; He does homage to Jehovah His God and serves Him only, as the Son of man; and trusts Him as the Messiah, not tempting Him as did the people of old in the desert. And here remark a feature in this scene which distinguishes Christ from others who might seem to approach Him, at least circumstantially. Moses and Elijah fasted forty days; but Moses was in the presence of God, sustained so long on high; and Elijah was miraculously fed by an angel before entering on a similar term of abstinence. It was not so with the Lord Jesus, Who was in the presence of Satan, unlike the one, and was without any such previous sustenance as the other had enjoyed.
It is true the Lord Jesus did not come into an earth stainless and happy, but fallen. But to argue thence that He was in a fallen condition of humanity is utterly, inexcusably, impiously false. He could and did suffer, no doubt, from hunger, thirst, and weariness; but these things are in no way the index that human nature was fallen in Him, but of the circumstances through which humanity, holy or unholy, might pass. In his innocence Adam had no such experience; after his fall this and more was his lot. The holy person of Jesus did know these circumstances, and magnified God in them: what have they do with the state of His humanity? with its holiness as contra-distinguished from a fallen or an unfallen Adam's? Who will venture to affirm that Adam, if kept from food even in Eden, would not have suffered from hunger? The argument is worthless, save to betray the will to depreciate the Lord of glory. The grand vice of it all is merging Him as much as possible in the fallen condition of the race. If innocent human nature had to do with a Paradisiacal state, certainly neither fallen humanity nor holy humanity when here below was spared from tasting the bitterness of a wilderness world. This therefore does not affect the momentous point of the different state of humanity in Adam fallen and in Christ even while living here below. Thus the argument founded on our Lord's suffering hunger and thirst and weariness is a manifest sophism, because it confounds the circumstances which humanity may experience with humanity itself; it assumes from these circumstances an identity in the state of manhood, contrary to the most express teaching of the Bible and to all true knowledge of Christ. God tells us the facts to enhance our sense of the Savior's grace and exalt His moral glory in our eyes; man, set on by Satan, hastens to pervert the facts so as to tarnish His humanity and debase His person.
That the Lord Jesus was liable to sin is not only the denial of His perfect humanity, but evinces, to say the least, the grossest ignorance of His person. It is an insult to the Son because of His humiliation, which no consideration can palliate, which man's unbelief and Satan's malice can alone account for. Certainly He was tried and did suffer to the uttermost; but thence to infer or allow that He had from the fall such frailty and inwardly temptable nature as ours is, I must regard and denounce as a heinous libel on Christ, as a lie most destructive to man. Scripture, while it clearly reveals the manhood of the Savior, seems more careful to uphold His unstained glory than that of any other person in the adorable Trinity. And no wonder. God is jealous lest the Savior's unspeakable grace should expose Him to dishonor. How painful that He should be wounded afresh in the house of His friends!
Some doubtless do not go so far or fast as others; there are too misled as well as misleaders. But there are not a few who stop short, for the present at least, of the natural consequences of the system they have somehow admitted into their minds. They may not allow liability to sin, and yet contend for fallen humanity, in Jesus. But will they affirm that He could have fallen nature in His person without touching the unsullied glory of His person? It is hard to see how the person stands if one of the natures composing it be fallen. Let them beware lest the only door of refuge be that of Nestorianism which divides the Lord's person, virtually setting up a double personality in sharp antagonism (not two natures united in one person), in order to save His divine glory from being darkened by the shade of a fallen manhood.
Take a single chapter of Matthew—the very one from which men have drawn a weapon against the Savior's glory in humiliation, willing to wound and not afraid to strike in His case—chapter 8. and let us see the perfect man in Him Who was perfectly a man. “Lord,” says the worshipping leper, “if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” The hand of man, the power of Jehovah, was there: who else could? who else would? He was come of woman, come under law: had this been all, He must have been defiled Himself instead of cleansing the leper. But as He was thus God, He was open to the need of man, not of the circumcision only, but of the uncircumcision also, were there but the faith that caught a glimpse of His true glory. And there was. For the Gentile centurion confessed Him supreme in His power and authority, so that not His bodily presence only (ever sought by the godly Israelite) but His word would suffice. “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but only say with a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. . . And on hearing it, Jesus marveled.” He was indeed very man; but how much more! He said to the centurion, “Go; and as thou hast believed, be it done to thee.” And his servant was healed “in that hour.” Next, He comes to Peter's house and sees his mother-in-law laid down and in a fever; but in divine goodness He touched her hand; and not only did the malady leave her, but, restored to strength, she arose and served Him. Nor was it only where a special tie existed. He was here below in grace, passing through a ruined, needy, sorrow-stricken world, ready to help any that came, all that were brought, demonized or sick; and a word was enough for the worst. Thus was fulfilled Isa. 53:4 (not yet the vicarious work of verse 5, et seqq.). Certainly that was not sacrificial; still less does the application sanction the revolting idea of our Lord's liability to our infirmities and diseases. It was the very reverse; it was the power that dispelled sickness from every patient in contact with Himself; and this withal as One not in un feeling distance, but Who (in love as deep as His power) took all, bore all, upon His spirit with God. Divine grace and human sorrow filled His heart, guided His mouth, and directed His hand. Yet none the less, but the more, was He the outcast Son of man. The foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but He—? He had not where to lay His head. It was not law; nor was it necessity of circumstances or position; it was His grace in a world gone from God. If flesh offered to follow, it had better weigh whither Jesus goes and leads: for He does claim the heart, even at cost of breaking the nearest ties of nature. The burial of a father must yield to the paramount call of the despised Nazarene, if indeed we know His glory and have heard His voice. Jesus is Lord of the living. Those who do not follow Him are dead; they love their own. Leave the dead to bury their own dead. Is it not so, O faithless disciples? Do you presume to have greater love than His? to know His mind better than the Master? I do not say that there are not storms, and that the bark in which the disciples follow Jesus is not frail; but the Man who slept in it through all was the Divine person Who arose at their cry and stilled their unbelieving fears by the word which rebuked the winds and the sea. Such was the Man who next cast out demons after a sort that could not be mistaken; but the world preferred the swine, demons, and all, to Jesus, unanimously beseeching Him to depart out of their coasts! Such is man; and such was Jesus even here below in the days of His flesh.
(To be continued, D.V.)

Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 4.

If we turn to John 11, we have a different but most instructive display of Jesus on the earth. For what is seen there is no remedial measure in a living Messiah. Nothing of the kind could adequately meet the depth of the ruin even for those who believed in Him and were loved of Him. Death must take its course. It was no use merely to heal: man was too far gone. The Lord therefore remains till all was over, and Lazarus slept in death. Jesus saw things in the light of day: this sickness was not unto death but for God's glory, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. He awaits therefore His Father's will and goes to raise the dead. Martha had no just estimate of the power of death any more than of the Lord's glory:
“Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died; but I know that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” Neither did her orthodox creed meet the case: “I know that he shall rise again at the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” No; Martha did not enter in, though a believer, and this because she had Jewish thoughts of Christ. Present resurrection power in Him was beyond her. She went her way and sends Mary, who, if she did not yet anticipate His power better than Martha, at least fell down at His feet, and wept as did the very Jews. Death was there; and now Jesus was there. He was the Son, very God, yet estimated death as none could but Himself Who, a man, was the eternal life which was with the Father. He groaned in His spirit, apparently with the strongest, indignation and pain at the power of death over the spirit of man, and troubled Himself or shuddered. In divine grace He weighed and felt it all in spirit—wept, too, as they asked Him to come and see where the dead saint lay. Little did Jewish comment penetrate the reality; but the more did Jesus groan in Himself as He came to the grave, whence, spite of Martha's unbelief, the glory of God was seen in Lazarus coming forth at the voice of the Son. Nothing can be more blessed than His sympathy in entering into the sorrow and power of death, Himself all the while conscious of the power of life, but using it only as the Sent of the Father. This introduces into a new scene through the door of resurrection, when death has closed all connection between God and nature. Decent and dull orthodoxy finds its prototype in Martha; value for the person of Christ may be slow, like Mary, but, waiting on Jesus, at length sees light and life in His light.
If we look, again, at the doctrinal statements of scripture, Heb. 2 shows us the singularly honored place of man in the person of Jesus; according to Psa. 8 “But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for [or, on account of] the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Incarnation could not deliver, all important as it is. The person of the Deliverer was thereby manifested; but death was the pivot of blessing, if man was to be brought out of sin according to God: no otherwise could there be a righteous basis, for thus only is found a due dealing with our evil before God. “For it became him for whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (verse 10). Thus it was fitting that Christ should pass on high through sufferings for many sons God is bringing to glory. Their state demanded it; grace made it His path. But there is the greatest care to guard against irreverence toward the Lord Jesus. “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (verse 11). The phrase “all of one” is exceedingly and designedly abstract. Still He is the Sanctifier, as risen from the dead; for so the quotation of Psa. 22:22 in Heb. 2:12 proves. Then first did our Lord put the disciples definitely in this relationship (see John 20:17). “All of one” means, not His entering into their state, but His taking them into His. The foundation was laid in His death: as risen, He at once associates them with Himself. They were “all of one” thus. It is not men as such, but “the sanctified” (οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοτ). He does not call them His brethren till He became a man; and only then distinctly when risen, according to the passages cited. The nearest approach before was when He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said, “Behold, my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” But this is vague compared with “Go to my brethren,” connected as it is with His ascending to His Father and their Father, and to His God and their God. It is manifest also that the Son's incarnation is, in verse 14, introduced as the necessary means for making void through death the power of the devil, and delivering those who were in bondage all their lifetime through fear of death. Alone He wrought this mighty work, by virtue of which, when risen, He gathers the sanctified into association with Himself; but in both as really man, for such the children were.
Power, the power of God, was in Christ. Was it the less bright because it shone through a life of absolute dependence on His Father and the sorrows of His unfathomable humiliation in pity to man, love to His own, and devotedness to God's glory? Look at that extreme point of it all, the cross, the foolishness and the weakness of God. Do they appreciate it who unwittingly slight the rights of Christ's person? “I have power [not δύναμις merely but ἐξουσία, title or right as well as power] to take it again.” Yet was it exercised only in obedience, as He blessedly adds, “This commandment have I received of my Father.” That Christ therefore “had in His nature not only a possibility and aptitude, but also a necessity of dying,” is a statement so unsound that the reputation of a man, able and learned as Bishop Pearson was, will not avail to consecrate it. (Expos. of the Creed. Art. 4) Had he confined himself to the more guarded language with which the next paragraph concludes, there might he nothing to object; for it is agreed that “by voluntary election He took upon Him a necessity of dying.” But this is a very different proposition from having that necessity in the nature He assumed. It is John 10:18 which is cited in the opening of this latter paragraph. Even here, however, the doctrine is exceptionable. The short time in which it pleased the Lord to die (so surprising to Pilate when reported), coupled with the loud voice with which He cried just before (so marvelous to the centurion who heard), points to the practical testimony of His power in death as in life, not to the total exhaustion of bodily vigor as the effect of previous sorrows, to which the Bishop refers it—I might almost say more naturalistic than the heathen judge or the heathen soldier. To say that when by an act of His will He had submitted to the death of the cross... it was not in the power of His soul to continue any longer vitality to the body (i.e., that when He had voluntarily given Himself to die, He could no longer live), is true indeed, but very like a truism. But that from the first He had in His nature the necessity of dying, or that at the last His vigor was so exhausted that He must therefore die, is to cloud the truth of divine glory in His person by assigning to it a dissolution necessarily inherent in His humanity. It directly touches atonement also; for how deeply is God's grace in His death undermined, if He merely anticipated on the cross a death which must have been in some shape within a generation later? To me, I confess, the scheme ominously symbolizes with the taunts of some who surrounded the cross: “He saved others; himself he cannot save.”
The life of fallen humanity is doomed; but our Lord goes infinitely farther than negativing any such constitutional necessity in His human nature. He claims a power beyond Adam unfallen, or any other creature. None but the Holy One of God, and a Divine person withal, could say, “I have power to lay down my life,” &c.
Hence the Bishop's note to the preceding page (though he justly insists, in the text as well as note, on the reality of the Lord's death, and, of course, the separation of His soul from His body) is utterly beneath the intimations of the scriptures which he quotes. For all this eminent man draws from them is, that they teach not a mere λειποθυμἱα, or deathlike swoon, of which we hear in the later Greek writers, but an absolute expiration; and therefore, he thinks, we have not only the ἐξέπνευσεν of Mark and Luke, but in Matthew ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα, and in John παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα. Of course, his inference is true; but what intelligent believer will say that it represents the truth here revealed? Who but Jesus, Jehovah-Messiah, could be said to yield up or dismiss His spirit? Who but a divine person, the Word made flesh, could deliver up His spirit? Only He who had before asserted calmly His full authority— “I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man [no one] taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again.” The Nestorianism, which divides the person, is as dangerous and destructive as the Eutychianism, which confounds the two natures to the overthrow of both. From the conception Deity was never severed from the humanity of Christ, no, not even when His spirit was in Paradise and His body lay in the tomb.
The truth is, that the statements of the great Anglican expositor of the Creed are not trustworthy as to the (if possible) still more essential and critical truth of the Son's proper and supreme Deity. One can well imagine the indignant scorn of the younger clergy, whose impulse is at all cost to defend their text-book. Graver men too among the better sort may be slow to accept such a charge. With such slowness one sympathizes, provided there be along with it an honest and open heart to adhere to holy scripture as the sole unerring standard of truth. However this be, the doctrine under Art. i. is, that the Father has the divine essence of Himself, the Son by communication from the Father. “From whence He acknowledgeth that He is from him, that he liveth by him, that the bather gave him to have life in himself, and generally referreth all things to him, as received from him (John 7:27 [? 29]; 6:57; 5:26). Wherefore in this sense some of the ancients have not stuck to interpret those words, 'The Father is greater than I,' of Christ as the second person in the blessed Trinity; but still with reference not unto his essence but his generation, by which he is understood to have his being from the Father, who only hath it of himself, and is the original of all power and essence in the Son. I can of mine own self do nothing, saith our Savior (John 5:30), because he is not of himself,” &c. At the end of the paragraph the Bishop repeats the texts (John 5:26 and 6:57), and enforces the same doctrine in the following paragraphs.
Now it is certain that Pearson misinterprets these scriptures, on which he (following some if not most of the fathers) rests this strange doctrine—a doctrine which soon turns to the denial of the eternal Sonship of Christ, and, in more audacious minds, to Arianism. The real starting-point in the passages of John is the Son, but viewed in the position He took here below: the Word, Who was God, become flesh, Who refused the very appearance of independence, was come down to do the will of Him that sent Him, did nothing of Himself but only whatsoever He saw the Father do, or what the Father assigned Him only to do. So absolute was His dependence that He could say, “The living Father hath sent me, and I live because of the Father” (διἁ τὸν π., not διἀ τοῦ π. αs the English Version would require). Still less difficulty is there in the reference to John 7:28-29. It is His mission, not subordination in the Godhead, which is in question. I think then that I am warranted in saying, that, throughout, the perversion of these scriptures is gross and perilous in the highest degree. What can be worse than habitually applying to the intrinsic glory of Christ the language which He, in lowly love, uttered in His place of voluntary subjection on earth? Can any man taught of God dispute the fact that Pearson fell into this error? The same John, who in the Gospel lets us hear the Savior say that the Father has given to the Son to have life in Himself, in his first Epistle shows us “that eternal life, which was with [not, from] the Father and was manifested unto as:” not a hint of the Father's giving Him to have life in Himself save here below.
Hence even some Romanist theologians are in this respect sounder, if not more candid, than the “great divines” of the Anglican platform. Compare for instance the apologies for the Ante-Nicene fathers (Justin M., Clement of Alexandria, Origen, &c.) in Bishop Bull's Jud. Cath. Eccles., with the frank (?) admissions of Petavius in his Opus de Theol. Dogm. I fear that the acute Jesuit did not find the admission painful; for he was thereby enabled to insist the more keenly on that which is the foundation of his own system (and alas of many not there yet), that it is the church's function to decide and define what the truth is that man has to believe unto salvation. The Anglicans, on the contrary, from the first have ever been under bondage to the earlier Fathers and Councils; and hence their leaders have never freed themselves from the lowering influence of the semi-Platonism which tinctures those ancient writings, and gives their admirers a wrong bias in the interpretation of scripture. For my part, fully allowing that the church (where and what is it now?) is, or ought to be, the pillar and ground of the truth, I believe that the truth is already definitely revealed in the scriptures, and with far greater clearness, fullness, and perfection than in any human formularies, either of the fourth and fifth centuries, or of the sixteenth and seventeenth. To receive, keep, and witness the truth is the obligation and joy of the church; to declare with authority what the truth is, belongs to God and His word; to teach and preach the truth, the Lord raises up and sends His servants. If we mix things divine and human in the faith, it comes to the same disastrous effect as mingling works with grace for justification; being false in principle, the practical issue is, that the divine element is neglected, and the human one becomes an idol. “Our church” usurps the place not of God's church only, but, more or less, of His word. (To be continued, D.V.)

Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 5.

I observe with regret the influence of Patristic or human theology on Dean Alford as to this foundation truth. How else can one account for the terms of his note on Rom. 9:5? “That our Lord is not, in the strict exclusive sense, ὑ ἐπι πάντων θεύς, every Christian will admit (I), that title being reserved for the Father; but that He is ἐπὶ πάντων θεός none of the passages goes to deny.” I affirm, on the contrary, that no Christian, if fairly instructed, will admit but deny what is here predicated of the Father and of Christ. “In the strict exclusive sense, ὁ ἐπὶ πάντω θεός” below to the Father no more than to the Son or to the Holy Ghost. The Father is supreme God, Jehovah; but so is the Son, and so is the Spirit. It is fully true of the Godhead and of each person in it. (Compare Isa. 6 with John 12 and Acts 28) They are not three supreme independent beings, but One Supreme with a threefold personality: all three persons supreme God, but none exclusively. But it is striking to see that, while the Creator in Rom. 1:25 is said to be “blessed forever “(εὐλογητὸς εὶς τνς αἰῶας), while the God and Father of our Lord Jesus is said to be the same in 2 Cor. 11:31 (ὑ ων εἰ λογητὺς εἰς τοὐς αὶὠνας), It is to Christ and to Christ alone that Rom. 9 applies the still stronger terms, ὐ ῶν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εὶς τοὺς αίῶνας. Indeed I am not aware that so forcible and explicit a statement of divine supremacy can be found in the Bible. So entirely mistaken is the allegation of the Dean in every particular, that, as we see, the very text under his consideration proves that the strictest and largest form of that title is reserved, not for the Father, but for Christ; not because the Father and the Holy Ghost are not equally with the Son supreme God, Jehovah, but because the Son, having stooped to become man and die, needed the plainest appropriation of it which scripture gives to any person in the Godhead. The Father will have all to honor the Son even as they honor the Father. Faith sees it in the word and worships; unbelief stumbles at the word, but must bow perforce in the judgment. Can one but feel with Gregory of Nazianzus: “I am filled with indignation and grief (would that ye could sympathize with me!) for my Christ, when I see my Christ [surely it is not less, I would add, when the soul thinks of Him as the Christ of God] dishonored for the very reason for which He should have been honored most. For, tell me, is He therefore without honor because for thee He was humbled?”
I return then with the firmest conviction that the death of our Lord was, in the fullest sense and up to the last, voluntary, though in obedience to His Father. He tasted death by no doom of fallen nature, but by the grace of God. And this is entirely borne out by Phil. 2, which clearly shows that in His case death was in no way through the common mortality of fallen flesh. For “being found in fashion as a man,” He did not necessarily die; but because of the purposes of grace, He “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” It was for our sins, and therefore, as far as He was concerned, on a wholly different principle and for ends transcendently divine. Adam, failing man, disobeyed and died; Christ became obedient up to that point of death, the death of the cross. He too was made sin for us; He was made a curse for us; He was crucified in weakness. It was from no necessity in His human nature, which libels Himself, and would, if true, destroy our hope. It was the triumph of grace in the Son of man, Who was giving His life a ransom for many. God was thus glorified in Him; and “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again.” I know not what of truth, or love, or obedience, or atoning efficacy for others, or of moral glorification of God in death, is left standing by the fatal error that makes Christ, from the birth to the grave, necessarily subject to the laws of fallen humanity in His own person.
Again, the Authorized Version of Heb. 2:16 is unequivocally false. The passage says nothing about taking up a nature or not, which was just settled explicitly in verses 14, 15. The real meaning is: “For of course (δήπον) it is not angels he taketh up (i.e., helpeth), but he taketh up Abraham's seed.” It connects Christ specially with the line of promise as the objects of His special interest to the exclusion of angels. I am aware that some ancient expositors and modern divines go with the English translators; but it is certain that they are wrong. For the connection of the thought is broken thereby, and a feeble reiteration of the truth, already stated more fully, is imported. And the error in sense led to a further error in form; for the translators could not say that He is not taking on Him the nature of angels, but He is taking on Him the seed of Abraham. Hence, in order to make it suit at all, they were forced into the blunder of rendering ἐπ ι λαμ βάνεται He took, etc.
“Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make expiation [or atonement] for the sins of the people.” Having thus prepared the way, the Holy Ghost did not feel it needful to guard the strong assertion that Christ was in all things made like to His brethren. Those who believed that He was the Sanctifier, as the risen Man, the Son of God Who had by Himself purged our sins, needed not to be told that fallen humanity formed no part of His person. The exclusion of sin in nature is added where it was more requisite, when the apostle (chap. iv. 15) states how fully He was tempted like us.
Observe, moreover, in Heb. 2:18, “in that he himself hath suffered being tempted,” there never was anything else: it is not that He suffered after being tempted, for this a man may do who yields and repents. There was not, there could not be, distress of conscience in the Lord Jesus, any more than the workings of unbelief, such as we may feel. He suffered in the entire moral being the sufferings of holiness and grace; He loathed and rejected all that the enemy presented to His holy nature. Hence He, Who in human nature knew trial and suffering beyond all, is able to comfort the tried saint. This is the real idea and application of temptation here. It does not mean inward susceptibility of or proclivity to evil; it does in James i. 14, where it is expressly connected with lust: if any man dares to apply this to Jesus, let him speak out, that we may know what he is, and that the sheep of Christ may flee from the voice of a stranger. But James, in the same chapter (verses 2, 12), uses the word in its more ordinary scriptural application to trials. The confusion arises from not heeding the difference between such an inward working of fallen nature as is described in James i. 14, and the being tried by Satan without.
The true faith of the Son of God ought to have rendered such suggestions impossible in His case. There was no sin in Adam and Eve when they were tempted: hence fallen humanity is not necessary to temptation. But let it be noticed that, when our first parents were tempted, there was no suffering then: they yielded. It is in contrast with the last Adam, Who was incomparably more tempted but in nothing yielded. He met every assault by the word of God, instead of letting it slip and transgressing it as they did. He came to do God's will, not His own. He acted in the power of the Holy Ghost, Who brings out the suited scripture for the need, whatever it be. We, it is true, as men, have fallen humanity, which He had not; but then, as believers, we are born of God (Christ Himself being our life), and we have in the Holy Ghost power to resist, especially hearing in mind that Satan is now to us, because of Christ, a conquered enemy. But the old nature in us is still there and no better: victory as far as we are concerned, depends not on its improvement but on His work and our faith.
This false doctrine is sometimes betrayed by a wrong thought of Christ's state under the law. It is imagined that, from the humanity He assumed, there was moral feebleness, if not a repugnance to the law, as in other children of Adam. This is a fatal error; it degrades the Lord beneath His servants. I deny that the Christian's obedience is to do the will of God because he is obliged. Spite of the old man in us, there is also the new man; and scripture always speaks of us according to that new life that characterizes us. Hence it speaks of us, when delivered, as loving to obey, as cleaving to God's word, as sanctified unto obedience—set apart by the Spirit for this very purpose (1 Peter 1.). Now Christ never had the wrestling that we know from the old man's opposition in us to the Holy Ghost. In Him there was the absolute surrender of every thought and feeling to the will of God. There was but one apparent exception, where He prayed in His agony, “Let this cup pass from me.”
But how could He, Who ever enjoyed the unbroken sunshine of God's favor throughout His career on earth, desire to be forsaken of God? It would have been indifference and not love; it would have been to despise the blessed fellowship between the Father and Himself. Therefore was it a part of the perfectness of Christ to say, “Let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not my will but thine be done.” His humanity, because p sleet (may I say?), could not wish for that unutterable scene of wrath: but here too He was, as in all things, subject to the will of God. “The cup which my Father giveth me, shall I not drink it?”
Looked at then in the light of God's word, Christ's humanity was as real as ours (which itself differs not a little from human nature as it came from God); its state was totally different from Adam's either in integrity or in ruin. In its singularly blessed source and character, as in its practical development, there was that which, even on the human side of His person, contra-distinguished Christ from Adam whether in or outside Paradise. Was the agency of the Holy Ghost in His generation a small matter? And what of the fact that in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell? There was nothing in Adam innocent that could be represented by the oil mixed with the fine flour, any more than by the subsequent anointing with oil; nor was he at any time (as Christ always was) simply and solely in his life an offering to God, from which the salt of the covenant was never lacking. In the type of the Pentecostal saints, spite of their wondrous privileges, in that new meat-offering unto Jehovah, the two wave-loaves were expressly baken with leaven, and hence necessarily had their accompanying sacrifice for a sin-offering (Lev. 23:15-21): first-fruits indeed to be offered, but not to be burnt (as was the oblation that represented Christ) on the altar for a sweet savor.
We may now glance at Hebrews 4: 15: “For we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” There is a notion too prevalent among theologians and their followers that the blessed Lord Himself was compassed with infirmities. Where is such a statement warranted in scripture? Do they call it an infirmity for a man here below to eat, drink, sleep, or feel the lack of these things? Do they or do they not go farther? What do they make of Matthew 2. and 3.? of Matthew 8:17, “Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses?” of His anger against the sabbath-perverters? of His walking in Solomon's porch, not in the sanctuary? of His sleeping outside Jerusalem and other holy cities? of His agony in Gethsemane? Need I dwell now on still more painful insinuations founded on erroneous views of the Psalms, on the types of the law, and on the prophets? Oh! it is grievous to think that these men pass current with heedless disciples, no less than with the blind multitude, as ministers of Him Whom they systematically defame. Some may mean nothing wrong by isolated expressions and hasty ideas culled from old divines (not knowing, like Peter, what they said); but others work it out more daringly, little conscious that it is Satan's scheme for slighting Christ. None assuredly should predicate of Christ what scripture does not; all on such a theme should beware what they draw from a text Here or there, savoring of natural thoughts as to Him Whom none knows save the Father, lest haply they be found fighting against God.
Christ could be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, nay, was in all points tempted like as we are, sin excepted. The word “yet” interpolated into the Authorized Version, makes the sense equivocal, if it be not spoiled; at any rate, “yet” probably helped on the misinterpretation that the words teach no more than that He did not yield to sin—that He was tempted, fully and like us, yet without sinning. But this is not the force. He was tried in all things after a like sort (καθ ὁμοιότητα) apart from sin (χωρὶς ὰμαρτίας). Tempted as He was in all things similarly, in this He differed essentially, that He had absolutely no sin in His nature. This, therefore, very materially guards the resemblance from trenching on the state of humanity as it was in His person— “without [or, apart from] sin” —and not in us. Consequently we have inward temptations connected with sin in us, such as James speaks of, which He never had. The passage, then, proves the precise contrary of this pernicious doctrine; for it qualifies the resemblance of His trials to ours by excepting sin. With sin He had nothing to do in temptation, though He had all to do with it in suffering on the cross. He had not the smallest tendency to it in His humanity; though a partaker of blood and flesh, He had not what Paul calls “the flesh.” There was no liability to sin in him who was perfect man in one person; there was in the first man, Adam, and he accordingly fell. But the Second man, the last Adam, had no such infirmity, though He had it in the sense of a capacity to suffer in body and soul and to die on the cross, if and when He pleased, yet in obedience to God for our sins (2 Cor. 13:4). Of inward moral infirmity He had none.
Miserable comforters are ye all who found your hope of sympathy on His degradation! Had Adam been “born of God” in his entire nature and in the highest sense, he, without being a divine person, could not have sinned (1 John 3:9). When the Christian sins, it is because he, spite of the new nature and the indwelling Spirit, yields to the old man which is never born of God; he is off his guard, is wrought on by the enemy, and fails. Liability to sin there would not be in a nature exclusively holy. Who would affirm such a liability of Christ when He comes again in glory? Now, the self-same expression— “without sin” (χωρὶζ ἁμαρτίας)—is employed about Him then (Heb. 9:27), as when tempted here below (Heb. 4:15). In the days of His flesh He was “without sin.” On the cross God made Him “sin for us.” By and by, when He appears a second time to His own, it is “without sin.” Once for all He was offered to bear the sins of many; soon will He appear for the salvation, not judgment, of those that wait for Him, but appear absolutely apart from sin, having already done the will and work of God about it through the offering of His body once for all. Without the smallest particle of sin or tendency to it in His humanity, He was assailed to the utmost by the devil; next, He put sin away by the sacrifice of Himself. The second time He will be seen apart from sin, having settled all the question and perfectly glorified God about it in the cross. He will come again, therefore, without sin for salvation. No man is heterodox enough to impute to Christ in glory the least exposure to any inward evil; but if they dare so to speak or think of His humanity while He lived on earth, it is formally contradicted by the very scripture they are wont to allege—Heb. 4:15. The Holy Ghost predicates the same thing, χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας, about Him in both cases. He was on earth, as He will soon appear in glory, wholly without sin. Indeed had there been an infinitesimal particle of fallen humanity in Christ, how could He be a meet sacrifice to God for sin? Even the typical animals must needs be unblemished after their carnal pattern. No offerings, it is remarkable, were more stamped with holiness, if so much, as the meat-offering, and the sin and trespass-offerings. They emphatically were “most holy” —Christ in His human activity, and Christ made sin for us. The paschal lamb without blemish, the daily lambs without spot, the red heifer of the wilderness wherein was no blemish, and upon which never came yoke (note it well), all proclaimed that in the great Anti-type fallen humanity could have no place. Had Christ been, as born of woman, under the yoke of fallen manhood in any sense or degree, had He been born into a relation of distance from God, even without question of a single failure in His ways, He never could have been a due adequate sacrifice for us; because there must have been thus the gravest possible defect in His humanity. For what so serious in such an offering as the signs of the fall, no matter how suppressed or attenuated? None can deny that the fall vitiates the entire constitution, save men blinded into thinking God is altogether such an one as themselves. This doctrine therefore makes atonement impossible, unless God can accept a fall-stained victim; and (what is worse) it undermines and assails the person of Christ, the Son, touching God's glory in the point of which He is most jealous. (To be continued, D.V.)

Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 6.

As to the argument which demands how Christ could sympathize without personal consciousness of fallen humanity, it is worthless otherwise, besides evincing the judicial falseness and profound iniquity of the system. For if Jesus must have Adam's fallen nature to sympathize with mine, alas! I have also yielded to evil: am I then, on this view, to have or to lack sympathy therein? Certainly it is not because the poor sinner, however guilty, does not need pity. If the argument prove anything, it goes much too far; logically, it requires actual failure (and to what amount?) in the Mediator in order fully to sympathize with us!
The sympathy of Jesus is in scripture based on wholly different grounds. I admit that His divine glory alone suffices not; but it does give luster and infinite worth to His most real suffering as man tried, and in every way conceivable, sin excepted. He must have the nature of those whose cause He undertakes, though not in the same fallen state; He must have proved the anguish and bitterness of temptation here below; and so He did incomparably more than any other. In holy humanity He could thus feel sympathy with our infirmities, having felt the wiles and power and malice of the enemy, and so much more than we do, as His dignity and holiness and love transcended ours. Never having known sin (which, if known, narrows and blunts the heart), but having suffered infinitely, His affections are large and free to go out to us, in our sore distresses as saints, who have not only the same outward enemy to try us, but also a treacherous nature within.
The truth is that the believer, resting by faith on redemption as a work already and perfectly accomplished for him, does not want Christ to sympathize with His indwelling sin, any more than with his sins; he has started with the divine assurance that Christ died for both. And if Christ be risen, so is the believer with Him; and is this nothing? or is it not everything as a ground work of comfort from above against fallen nature and its bad fruits? Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree: in Him crucified, sin, the flesh, is already condemned. Am I not to believe it all, and accept humbly, thankfully, the peace of a triumphant suffering so wholly and unmistakeably of God's grace to me?
Not that there is not a wise and holy dealing of God with the believer who has been unwatchful and failed. But it is neither the Arminian plan that denies the permanent relationship of the child of God, and sets him to begin anew with another and another recourse to the blood of atonement, as if we were Jews and not Christians; nor is it the Calvinist idea, that finds a resource in Christ's holy eating, drinking, sleeping, praying, worshipping, &e., for our respective failures in these things, and so in all else. The principle of both errors seems to lie in Simon Peter's hasty words in John 13:8, 9, as the truth which corrects them both shines out of our Lord's reply in verse 10. “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet.” The bustling earnestness of the one scheme fails to give its true value to the bathing of the person, the hard cold fatalism of the other sees not the need of the continual cleansing of the feet, because the person is once bathed all over. Christianity maintains both, neither weakening the fundamental and eternal character of the new birth, nor denying the all-importance of continual self-judgment and confession. The bathing is never repeated; the feet-washing is ever needed here below, if we pretend to communion with Christ. The Holy Ghost carries on the work here in answer to the intercession of Christ above, and cleanses with the washing of water by the word him who is already washed from his sin in the blood of Christ, already born of water and the Spirit.
And such is the doctrine of the typical Red Heifer in Num. 19. On the basis of the complete seven-fold sprinkling of her blood before the tabernacle of the congregation, the rest of the sacrifice was duly reduced to ashes as a standing purification for sin. Then, if an Israelite were defiled, the remedy was not a renewal of the blood—(John 10:10). But to be united to Him as Head of the body is another privilege, which demands not regeneration only but the baptism of the Spirit. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13.) Scripture is express that not even the disciples were so baptized till Pentecost (Acts 1:14; 2).
Like all error, this tends to lower the person of Christ and to exalt fallen humanity, and therefore man as he is, Real faith in Christ is the secret, in the Holy Ghost's hands, of all preservation from evil doctrine and practice, which is always, I think, attributable, if not always traceable, to some false view of Christ. The right faith as to Christ, the receiving Him with simplicity on God's word, is the foundation of all that is good in any soul: looseness allowed here, lowering Him, admitting anything that sullies or obscures His glory, is the gravest sin, the issues of which none can tell. Enough for us to know, fearing as we bear it in mind, that its least beginning is the beginning of a very great evil; since it sets itself against the main object for which the Holy Ghost is now come from heaven—the assertion of the glory and rights of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(To be continued, D. V.)

Christ Tempted and Sympathizing: 7.

Never does scripture represent our union with Christ as before the Advent, or in His life here below, or even in His death, but with Him risen and glorified. It is true that when united to Him thus, scripture does speak of the Christian being crucified with Christ, baptized to His death, dead with Him, buried with Him, as well as risen. But nowhere is such language used of the faithful till after the work of redemption was wrought and He was glorified: then, no doubt, what was true of Him as their great Substitute might be and is said of them. It is idle in such a question to speak of the counsels of God. His choice of the saints in Christ before the foundation of the world is a precious truth; but it is not their union with Christ till they are actually called and brought into the membership of Christ by the Holy Ghost. So, again, His purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, is not to be confounded with our forming part of Christ's body. Were we members of Him (save in divine counsels) before we were converted or even existed? The question is as to living union with Christ as Head, which, I maintain, is invariably in scripture made to follow redemption and the presence of the Spirit sent down from heaven after Christ went on high. If divine purpose be misused to decide the matter, one might thereby justify the heterodoxy of those who say the resurrection or the judgment is past already, and the eternal state come; for these equally exist before God's eyes, and we look on them all by faith.
2 Cor. 5:14-18, again, is a full and bright testimony to the same truth, uprooting all notion of a righteous foundation for sinful man short of the cross. “For the love of Christ constraineth us because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” Not till then came out the complete demonstration of God's love and of man's hatred, of God's holy judgment of sin and of man's hopeless evil and rejection of good. The sorrowful fact, proved in Christ's death, was that all were dead. But grace gives us not only to pronounce on man morally but to judge what God was doing and manifesting there. “He died for all [nothing less could meet the case], that they which live [Christians] should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.” The conclusion is, that “henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” —i.e., not in the condition in which error conceives we are united to Him. Incarnation stops short of the proof of total ruin on one side, and on the other of the sole adequate basis for union with Christ, which demands His death as a groundwork, and is actively exercised in relation to Him risen and ascended.
A born Messiah was the crown of joyful hope to the Jew; to the Christian, even if he had been a Jew previously, the new place of Christ dead and risen eclipsed all such thoughts, showing him that his Christian ground of relationship is on the other side of Christ's grave—expressly not “after the flesh,” but in resurrection. Therefore, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new.” Not even the foundation for this was laid till His death and resurrection; then indeed He arose from the dead, the power and pattern as well as Head of those that are Christ's. Before that, a process of probation was still going on. Henceforth He stood in the new and final estate in which He, the First-born, could have many brethren in due time predestinated to be conformed to His image. “And all things are of God, who hath, reconciled us to himself,” &c. “Even now,” as we are told also in Col. 1:21, 22, “hath he reconciled us in the body of his flesh through death” —through death, remark, where alone our evil was judged and righteously put away. By-and-by the world will be cleared and blessed in virtue of His work; for the blood of His cross avails, not for our peace only, but to reconcile all things unto Himself whether on earth or in heaven. Meanwhile the unspeakable grace of God has reconciled us by Christ, yea, has united us to Him Who has glorified God in His death for us and all things. For Christ is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world; the same is He Who baptizes with the Holy Ghost: first, vindicating God about sin; then uniting us to Himself, not in flesh but in Spirit.
Finally, scripture is everywhere express and consistent that union is not with the eternal Son as such in His deity: else we should be deified, and such Christianity would be Brahmanism. Neither is it with our Lord in His incarnation simply and as such: else all flesh absolutely must be saved. His being God the Son was His competency to undertake the work of redemption as Man for men. But even He was not Head till God (being glorified in Him, not in living obedience only, but in death for sin and our sins) glorified Him in Himself above. Compare Eph. 1:20-22, and all the scriptures which treat of His headship. He was born King of the Jews: only when He is risen and ascended do we hear of Him as Head. Hence Phil. 2 contrasts what He entered as man with His place of exaltation. Incarnate, He took upon Him the form of a servant; and, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore also God hath highly exalted Him, etc. This is headship, if you will; that was humiliation, and in contrast with it. So in Heb. 2 His being set over the works of God's hands (all things being put under Him) is unquestionably founded, not on His title nor on His manhood, but on His suffering unto death. Similarly in Col. 1:18 Christ appears head of the body as the Beginning, the First-born from the dead; and this distinguished from His being the First-born of all creation, which He was when living here below (verse 15). Thus, too, the truth gives due essential prominence to the death and resurrection of Christ; while falsehood shuts it out or makes it an incident by the way, not the turning-point of God's glory in respect of sin nor consequently of His righteousness in our justification.
It is of painful interest to notice, as I do in closing, that the notion here exposed is the chief point of contact between Rationalists and Tractarians. A friend of mine asked a certain dignitary of the Establishment what the essential difference was between his system and his evangelical father's. “This,” answered the astute and eloquent prelate, “that the value my father assigned to the Atonement, we (the Oxford party) give to the Incarnation.” This witness is true, and, the reader may be assured, of incalculable moment. The same idea underlies the Broad-church theorists. Reconciliation for them is the bridal of the King's Son with humanity; His taking our flesh, which is a blessed truth, being viewed as our union with Him, which is the same pestilent error I have been refuting.
By this device the enemy contrives to shift the true epoch of full deliverance by faith, to hide the proper character and extent of Christian privilege, and to relegate souls to a state when redemption was not wrought, sin not put away, the Spirit not yet given, and Jesus not yet glorified. Contrariwise the legal system, with its carnal ordinances, earthly priesthood, and worldly sanctuary, was still in undiminished force. Through men of sentiments less pronounced, who jumble the birth, service, and death of Christ in a common vicarious lump, his aim is to reduce all the ways of God to confusion, to destroy the definiteness of grace and truth, and to seal men in uncertainty, half Jews and half Christians, clinging to the Savior, yet not (as far as happy consciousness goes) either within the veil or without the camp. Incarnation, blessed a truth as it is, was neither reconciliation through the death of Christ nor union through the baptism of the Spirit. Scripture carefully distinguishes them; tradition confounds all three, as does rationalism—the former in consonance with the sacerdotal system, the latter in the pride of fallen humanity. The judgment of sin by divine grace in the cross of Christ and the new relationships in the power of the Spirit, when taught of God, deliver the Christian from both.
(Concluded).

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:21-24

From Adam to Enoch was a considerable stretch; yet between the two the Spirit of God gives the line with a sameness of expression which makes solemn the rare departures from it. The first we have already noticed in Seth begotten in Adam’s likeness after his image (ver. 3), as distinguished from Adam made in the likeness of God in the day that God created man (ver. 1). Thenceforward is the line of Seth pursued, the terms of each link not differing save in the name, and the days they lived and had successors.
Now we hear of one who stands out spiritually in the divine account from all before and after. How distinct from a man of the same name in the family of Cain, indeed his son, whose name he gave to the city he was building, a dweller on the earth and a seeker of the glory of man which passes away! “Except Jehovah build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except Jehovah keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you that ye rise up early and so late take rest, and eat the bread of toil.” Cain was afraid, as a bad conscience makes a man afraid, of those that kill the body; he did not fear Him Who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; still less did he repent and confide in sovereign grace, or betake himself to a sin-offering couching at the door, or even bow to the sentence— “a fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth.” All the more was he determined to settle down and rear up the first city and glorify his family by calling the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch. All was after the wisdom and prudence of the flesh, which seeks present strength and ease and exaltation by its own devices and resources, not subjection to God and dependence on Him, not His guidance and safeguard, nor the glory that is from the only God. In full contrast with Cain and his successor is the son Jared. “initiated” after a far different sort.
“And Enoch (Chanowk) lived five and sixty years, and begat Methuselah (Methushalah) and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters; and all Enoch’s days were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (vers. 21-22).
Faith in Abel wrought the vivid sense of that death which sin had brought in for man, with its blighting effect on all the lower creation put in subjection to man. And Abel by faith applied the sentence of God to himself: no ignoring death for him, no bearing it with effort to forget it in the energy of nature. But he believed also the revelation of grace, that Another, even the woman’s Seed, would confront not death only, but in him that had the power of death, the subtle adversary of God and man; and this mysteriously but righteously (however little he might apprehend the full truth not yet revealed), by His suffering but His all the more efficacious victory. For bruised in His heel, so ran the expressive figure, He was to bruise the Serpent’s head. Death therefore realized deeply on all and all things here, the death of the Deliverer to redeem the believer and conquer the enemy in the woman’s Seed, was as impressed on Abel’s heart as in his name. The characteristic act of his faith Godward sets it forth as clearly, as the end of his course bore witness to it as man’s hand, and this his own brother’s. What a picture on a small scale of Christ as the Lamb that was slain!
But not less is our Enoch in a way quite different, but equally true and momentous. He looked to the One of Whose coming in judgment he was also given to prophesy, as we know from Jude; and He is not only a sacrifice to God for us, but our life. There is none else that sits or is available for man; and evidently so, now that man was fallen, and the tree of life, once free in his innocence, debarred by God’s judicial power from the guilty. In this proved state of sin and death it was that the God of mercy revealed Him Who was coming and somehow coming in manhood, if self-evidently more and greater infinitely. In due time should His glory be fully made known as God, the Word Who was with God and was God; not only the Creator of all things, but “in Him was life.” And as He was “the light of men” emphatically (not of those beings who are heaven's natural denizens and seemed far higher, as indeed in some respects they are), He would be revealed when rejected as “the light of the world"; so that he that follows Him should not walk in darkness but have the light of life.
The faith of Enoch laid hold of this alone true, alone higher, life; for faith receives what the Savior is and gives. He did not merely look at himself and all around to find the revealed relief and resource and deliverance in the bruised One. No doubt this he did; but his faith was characterized by looking to heaven, and to the One Who is above all ruin, Who, far beyond what could be then known, is the source and display and giver of life in the most blessed sense; as we can say, “We are in Him that is true, in His Son Jesus Christ: this (He) is the true God and life eternal.”
Now life exercised in the unseen is shown in the walk; and so here we read of Enoch (for the first time it is recorded of man), that he “walked with God “; after he begot Methuselah, it is added, three hundred years. And this is much to say in a few words of pregnant and elevated testimony from Him Whose eye of love rests on all that love Him, in Whose sight is not a creature unapparent; but all things are naked and laid open to His eyes with Whom we have to do.
Nor is it without significance and force that after enumerating all the days of Enoch, and not those only to the birth of his long-lived representative but to sons and daughters subsequently begotten, we again hear the divine witness, “And Enoch walked with God “: few words no doubt, but full of meaning to us favored with truth incomparably more made known.
The city, the inventions of skill and beauty and convenience, the music, the refinements of the life that now is, were all elsewhere, perishing like their devotees in the use of them; but he that does the will of God abides forever. It seemed far from this in him who was slain treacherously and unavenged, the first martyr of the faith as of righteousness. But it was indisputable to him who believes God's word about Enoch. “And he was not, for God took him “; or, as it is interpreted in Heb. 11., he “was translated that he should not see death, and was not found because God translated him; for before his translation he hath witness borne to him that he had pleased God.”
What a plain token God gave in that great but simple fact, so transcending ordinary experience of unquestionable saints, that heaven was to be the home of those He loves on earth, the heaven of His presence where time and change, to say nothing of sin and sorrow, are unknown! This needed Christ's coming and His going away to put in the clearest and surest light, as in John 14-17. Even here in these early antediluvian days was the first testimony to it given, not in word only, but in a striking fact meant to come home to every believer: a peculiar honor to Enoch, the pledge of what all saints of the heavenly calling shall enjoy, who shall remain living at the coming of the Lord. For then will be the presence of Him Who is the power of eternal life, not for the soul only which we have in Him now, but for the body also as we shall have then. For we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed in an instant, in an eye's twinkle, at the last trumpet. This is what the apostle calls “a mystery,” not exactly the resurrection of the just, but the change of the living believers when those dead are also raised and changed. Of translation to heaven Enoch, as he was the first sample, so he is the abiding type in its heavenly reality, and its noiseless accomplishment without a previous sign or any preparation in providence or prophecy. We may see all this confirmed by the wholly different destiny of another saint that follows.
It only remains to notice what a suitable close was his to the great truth of a life superior to death which grace gave him to walk in. Translation that he should not see death was its triumph, as far as we can speak of triumph till Jesus come.

Hebrews 12:9-11

The general principle and the necessity for present chastening have been shown, which every Jew would but recognize as a familiar truth from that great repository of divine wisdom applied to the life on earth, the book of Proverbs, so characterized throughout by the O. T. title of relationship. Certainly this is not enfeebled but deepened by the more intimate name in which God has now revealed Himself by and in His Son. Here however all as to this is intentionally general. It was through the Gospel and Epistles of John that the Holy Spirit brought out the Father in relation, and the divine nature in all the fullness of God.
Now we have a development, closely connected with and following up what has been already considered. “Further, we used to have fathers of our flesh as chasteners, and to pay reverence: shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they for a few days chastened as seemed good to them; but he for profit in order to the partaking of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be of joy but of grief; but afterward it yieldeth peaceful fruit of righteousness to those that have been exercised thereby” (vers. 9-11).
These words appeal to what nature itself teaches to be inherent in the relationship of father and son. We could not but know in our own experience, when the folly bound up with the heart of a child had to meet a father's discipline. Yet did we stand in awe of them. Thus has God constituted man. Shall we not then be much more in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For this is a grand aim of the epistle; not only faith in the person, work and offices of Christ, but living by faith, instead of drawing back: so Heb. 10 urges, and Heb. 11 illustrates, crowned by the beginning of chap. 12. The superior dignity of the Father of spirits, over the fathers of our flesh is evident but not more so than the unfailing character of His training, and the worthy end no less sure. Many an earthly father vacillates, some are manifestly unwise and unworthy, none absolutely and in all things reliable: yet we used to pay them respect during the “few days” of their authoritative training, whatever might be the failures now and then through the infirmities of the flesh. For they could not rise above what “seemed good to them;” and they might be and were mistaken sometimes. Not so the Father of spirits, God alone wise, Who is good and does good, acting unerringly for our advantage in order to our partaking of His holiness.
This is a high standard undoubtedly; but it could not be other if He undertakes the charge of us, as He does. Even with His ancient people His word was, Be ye holy, for I am holy; and so the apostle of the circumcision cites and urges on the elect of the dispersion. The same truth our Lord Himself impressed on the disciples when He compared Himself to a vine, the true Vine, His Father to the Husbandman, and them to the branches. Every branch bearing fruit, said He, My Father purgeth, that it may bear more fruit. Here it is the discipline God carries on in every son He receives to Himself. The child-training may seem, while it. goes on, not joyous but grievous; but the end is as sure here, and not merely in an after-state, as the loving wisdom that directs it for profit. What can there be comparable (we being what we are, and the world so perilous and unimprovable and ensnaring) to our partaking in His holiness? What a practical privilege!
It may be noticed that Hellenistic literature, in none of its copious and varied remains uses this word ἁγιότης. Yet is it the simplest derivative that expresses quality from ἁγιος, holy. It occurs in the apocryphal second book of Macc. 15:2, but is not correctly rendered in the Vulgate, followed by Wiclif and his follower, and the Douay, &c. For “with holiness” qualifies “Him Who beholds all things,” rather than the day forehonoured by Him. Some may not be aware that Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort adopt it in the text of 2 Cor. 1:12, where others have ἁπλότητι, a word easily confounded with it by a hasty eye. It is adopted without even a marginal question by the Revisers.
Ver. 11 closes this part of the subject with the effect of chastening in another form, which is still more nearly akin to John 15. Afterward, chastening yields peaceful fruit of righteousness to those that have been exercised by it. God effects the profit in such as have submitted to the trial: it is lost so far as we slight the trial or doubt His love in sending it.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:1-2

The chapter on which we now enter strikingly refutes the hypothesis of separate documents, so much in vogue with the neo-critics. For according to it this book of Adam's generation originally followed Gen. 1; 2:1-3, as the more ancient Elohistic record, supposed to be dislocated by the singular compound (Jehovah Elohim) in chaps. 2:4, 3., and by the Jehovistic interpolation of chap. 4. But such an arrangement as is thus assumed not only yields a result barren of any good fruit, but deprives us of truth most interesting, momentous, and necessary about God and man, as well as the enemy of both. For what is omitted thereby? The instructive lesson of the temptation; the awful fact and consequences of the fall; the solemn intervention of Him Who blessed and tried but, by man's sin, was made his Judge; the mysterious revelation of a suffering Destroyer of that enemy who ensnared our first parents by disobedience unto death, and of a Conqueror Who, in some way as yet unexplained, should be born of woman, and yet deal with Satan as not all mankind of all ages together could. Nor is this brief summary of chap. 3. anything like a full appraisal of the most needed truth left out.
Consider next how deep and searching is chap. 4., where sin against man, one's brother even, is as fully out as against God in chap. 3! The sole ground of acceptable approach to Jehovah is by sacrifice; for this was the then acknowledgment of man as sinful, and of God in grace looking on to a remedy in righteousness. So we see the younger son Abel offering and accepted by faith, the elder Cain rejected with his offering of nature in unbelief, though Eve had fondly counted him a man gotten from Jehovah. Then, in pride rankling into hatred, notwithstanding the gracious expostulation of Jehovah, Who points to the remedy and maintains his title after the flesh, Cain slays his righteous brother, is convicted (spite of heartless and insolent prevarication), gets cursed from the ground, and is sentenced to be a wanderer in the earth. What a type of the Jew guilty of the death of Jehovah's righteous Servant, their own Messiah, yet with a sign given that they shall not perish; and in the end under Lamech confessing the sins and avenged seventy and sevenfold, when we hear of another Seed appointed of God instead of the slain, and in due time men calling on the name of Jehovah! For this in its turn is no other than the pledge of the One Who combines the slain Messiah with the appointed Heir of all things, our Lord Jesus. Yet much as is here traced, there is also the picture of the world and its civilization, its arts and sciences and delights, away from God, Who refuses its natural religion and vain efforts to worship Him after the flesh.
Think then of the critical judgment, which can regard the narrative (call it Elohistic, or Book of Origins, or Priest's Code, or anything else), when disengaged from the rest where designations other than Elohim occur, as “a nearly complete whole!” Surely men learned or unlearned, who thus manipulate the scriptures in honor of the crudest fancy which ever rose into a popular fashion, betray their own lack of faith and their consequent inability to interpret that Mind which opens to the believer only. It is just as under another form in Israel of old, “All vision is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned” (Isa. 29:11, 12). What! “a nearly complete whole” in God's history, or the Priest's Code, of man, without one word about the details of his divine relationship founded on his peculiar formation, his body of the dust, the inner man as directly inbreathed by Jehovah Elohim! Without one word about paradise lost and death gained by disobedience inexcusable! Without one word about the knowledge of good and evil incompatible with innocence pure and simple, but after his transgression man's condition for good as for ill! Without one word about woman's relationship to man founded on her most singular, but touching; and beautiful, building up under the wise and good hand of the LORD God, with all its fruitful admonition whether men hear or forbear! Without one word about the simplicity of sinless man and woman naked and without shame, their instant ineffectual covering of a natural sort, and the profound truth and grace, though merely as yet a shadow, of the LORD God's effectual clothing based on death! And withal the mysterious serpent's ominous and dark insinuation to man's ruin and his own sure destruction by divine power in the person of the woman's Seed—not a word about this dire and constant adversary of God throughout the sad history of man's responsibility, or the final judgment!
Really the freaks of human speculation are far stranger and more unaccountable than the unvarnished narrative of inspiration as it stands, which to the believing ear requires the distinctive titles of Elohim, Jehovah Elohim, and Jehovah (as others also in due time) according to the varying character of the communications, and therefore intrinsically necessary to the perfection of the divine word. It is the phenomenal ignorance of unbelief, absolutely unheeding God's mind, which, in despair of real intelligence by the Holy Spirit, seeks the superficial, unsatisfactory, and baseless hypothesis of a composite from distinct sources welded together by a later compiler into a continuous whole, which after all is full of inconsistencies in details and wholly unreliable. In truth it is but infidelity and veiled with no better than fig-leaves which betray sin and nakedness. Different points of view there are, as there ought to be for full truth, which account for differing traits of style; but as chaps. 2. 3. pre-suppose chap. 1., so does chap. 4. follow up both, as the actual conflict of nature and grace. Chap. 5., like other scriptures, employs each designation and its accompaniments as truth demands: so we may hope to show to such as, receiving Holy Writ, accept it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth God's word.
Needs it further proof that the so-called duplicates are due to differing design, not to distinct hands, still less to bastard legends? Thus in chap. 2:4 and onward, there is no thought of setting out the order of creation, already given generally from first to last in chap. 1., but the momentous fact of such special truths as the Moral Governor, Jehovah God, set up in the scene of Adam's relations with Himself and paradise, with earthly creation as a whole and the woman in particular. Opposition between the chapters whether materially or formally is a libel. And hence, as in many respects the condition was peculiar to the primeval state, we never in the Pentateuch find Jehovah
Elohim regularly used but here, save exceptionally in Ex. 9:30. It is untrue that chap. 2:7, 19 represents man as created before the birds and the beasts; it is untrue that chap. 2:7 (Adam's formation out of the dust) contradicts chap. 1:27 (created in God's image); it is untrue that chap. 1:27 asserts that the man and the woman were created together, or does not consist with the woman being formed specifically out of Adam's flank. Such objections spring solely from the spite of unbelief. The two chapters, like those that follow, are from the same Mind guided of God; but some to their shame have no knowledge of God.
With the light derivable from all that precedes, chap. v. takes up man in the succession of his generations from Adam to Noah and his sons; and therefore Elohim rather than Jehovah was the correct title, Jehovah only appearing once where it was more proper. And this to the eyes of our “wise and prudent” critics “can only be accounted for upon the supposition that the sections in which they occur are by a different hand” (Driver's Lit., O.T.)!
“This [is the] book of Adam's generations. In the day God created man, in God's likeness made he him; male and female created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam (man), in the day when they were created” (vers. 1, 2).
Now suppose the different-document hypothesis a fact, and this chapter had ever followed chap. 1. 2:3, as the immediate sequel, how insipid such a continuation as the opening of chap. 5.! We say nothing of omitting such all important particulars as are ignored between the two, as we have already noticed. If on the contrary we receive these scriptures as they are, the new departure on ground similar to the earliest section most suitably calls for a tracing down from Adam through Seth to diluvian times, just as we have it. The intervening history which brought out God not simply as such, but as Jehovah Elohim, and then in the usual style of Jehovah, where special relationship is treated with rebellion against it, made it all the more requisite to resume the genealogical line from its source till God judged creation.
Even here it is far from mere repetition, which it might seem to the careless reader. For chap. 1:26 says that God said, Let us make man in our image after our likeness, and reiterates not His “likeness” but “image” twice in ver. 27. Here it is said that, in the day of His creating man, He made him in the likeness of God. Both were true, but they are not the same statement; and an imitator or later redactor being uninspired would rather have made them identical. He Who knew the whole truth could and did use each appropriately; as we may see for the form here employed, when ver. 3 comes before us. But the shade of difference is undeniable, understand it or not as we may.
Further, here only are we told that God “called their name Adam (man) in the day they were created.” It was Adam before the fall who called the woman Ishah, because she was taken out of Ish. It was Adam, after the fall but also the revelation of the woman's Seed, who called his wife's name Eve (Chavvah), because she was the mother of all living. Unbelief might have naturally called her Death, as the mother of all dying. But Adam looked in faith for her Seed Who entitled him and them to better things than he and she had any right to. But here it is the racial name, common to both, which God called in the day of their creation. How wise is every change, every difference, embodied in God's word! And how foolish the incredulity that can see nothing beyond the discrepancies of different hands, none of them inspired in any true sense!

The Trial of Faith: Part 1

Gen. 22
THE trial or proof of faith is more precious than the trial of gold, even if it is proved by fire (1 Peter 1:7, R. V.) And the result will be seen at the revelation of Jesus Christ Who died and rose again, to His praise and glory and honor. The faithful will sing of victory over the world at His appearing, when the world will know that the Father loved the church as He loved the Son.
Faith is the gift of God and approves itself on trial. The vessel, that receives the gift, needs to be tried; for it is a heavenly gift in an earthen vessel. “Every good gift and perfect boon is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17, R. V.), i.e. every gift from the Father of lights is good and perfect. Faith in Christ may be considered in two ways, as a practical principle within, or as the way by which God gives us a new standing before Him, from darkness to light, from death to life, from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of the Son of His love, from condemnation to justification. It looks at what Christ has done for us, at what Christ suffered on the cross, having died for us when we were enemies, that by His blood we might be cleansed from sin and made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. We are clothed as with a robe which we could not make, but which gives us entrance to the King, and will bear His searching eye (Matt. 22:12), when we sit at the wedding feast. Therefore His work is altogether outside of us; and every one that comes to God through Christ is clothed with the wedding garment. His obedience to death for us yields the robe that covers us; we become God's righteousness in Christ, It admits of no diminution or increase, but is perfect; its purity is not increased by death, nor diminished by contact with the vilest.
Our acceptance does not depend for its value on the greatness or the feebleness of our faith in Him (the enjoyment flowing from it does), but is the same for all. Thus the word is plain and is addressed to a would be suicide, “Believe... and thou shalt be saved.” Our faith (i. e. in the earthen vessel which influences it) may be defective like that of the leper who said, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst,” acknowledging the power but doubting the will; or like that of the man who brought his afflicted son to the Lord, and said, “If Thou canst,” as if doubting the Lord's power; or it may be strong as that of which the Lord said, that it was greater than He had found in Israel (Matt. 8:10). In each case there was deliverance sought for, which did not depend on the faith of the men asking but on the love and power of the Lord. And these are measured by the cross—love for the world and power to bear the weight of its sin. Thus faith in Him, even feeble faith, brings His love and power to be for us. Faith in Him, be it strong and vigorous, or weak and trembling, as in the publican that dared not lift his eyes but despondingly smote on his breast, crying for mercy—faith in Him brings salvation. It is God's way of justifying a sinner, and his faith is reckoned for righteousness. Not that his righteousness is measured by his faith, but by Christ; therefore we boast not in our faith, but in Him; and we in spirit say, Jehovah our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). The sinner who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ is brought immediately into a new standing before God, and righteousness is reckoned to him. Faith was reckoned for righteousness to Abraham before he was tried (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4.).
But Peter speaks not here of faith (in Christ as the object of faith) as reckoned for righteousness, but of the believer's faith after righteousness is reckoned, of faith as the power of divine life in the believer, wherein is manifested the power of the Holy Spirit Who works in us, so that we overcome the world, and all temptation. Such faith becomes more precious than gold proved with fire. The believer has to show the genuineness of his faith by his works; for as James says (chap. 2: 14. &c.), faith without works is dead. Indeed, the power of the Spirit of God is needed at the first to enable the contrite soul to believe in Christ in Whom is redemption, even the forgiveness of sins. And so interwoven are the two principles that His power is absolutely requisite for faith and consequent peace through the work of Christ for us, as it is for holiness of life in us after we have believed in Him. Peter says the trial (proof) of your faith, of you believers. The believer is identified with his faith, his victory is commensurate with his faith; and the fiercer the fires that try, the higher the praise that redounds to Christ. Faith untried is like ore containing gold; it must be put into the furnace that the dross may be consumed. There may be any quantity of unsuspected unbelief, and therefore unholiness: all must be purged that faith unalloyed may be found unto His praise and glory and honor at His appearing. The fires which try faith sometimes expose much that we did not suspect. But God, Who gives the faith, guides the trial, and sustains the believer all through. There is the obedience of faith, and the confidence of faith; the dependence, endurance, and trust of faith. In glory we shall sing its victory to His praise. A foretaste of victory is given now; but it is known only to Him Who gives and to him who receives.
How fierce were the fires that tried those mentioned in Heb. 11. who wandered in sheepskins and goatskins, in caves and dens, destitute, afflicted, and tormented; whether past or present saints, all are waiting for His appearing, all will be perfected together in glory. The obedience of faith was seen in Moses, who was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, surrounded with the affluence and splendor of a court, yet who chose affliction with the people of God rather than to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; there was obedience at the cost of all. But in Abraham the varied qualities of faith are seen. Hence he is called the father of the faithful (Rom. 4:16), because he stands in the foremost rank of trial, for historically Abel might be called father (being the first believer). So Abraham is pre-eminent for that kind of faith which accounted the power of death as no hindrance to the word of God, and which may be called resurrection faith, as it is markedly the characteristic of Christian faith. Habakkuk triumphs over circumstances; he will rejoice in the Lord, though the fig-tree shall not blossom (Hab. 3:17, 18). Job triumphs over fear, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). But Abraham triumphs in resurrection; and so he told his servants, “We will come again,” and we have the solution of the word and the intended act in Heb. 11:19. Death with its terrors is thrust aside; nothing stands between Abraham and God. No saint before the cross had ever defied death like Abraham. Justly is he the father of the faithful. The faith in the prophet Habakkuk goes not beyond the earth. Death to Job would have been deliverance from present sorrow. But the Holy Spirit has recorded Abraham's faith, as if to tell us that such faith as his goes not only beyond temporal things, and is calm at the prospect of death, but that it is sometimes (apparently) in opposition to our most cherished affections—yea, when it seems contrary to the word which we have believed. It is only a seeming opposition. However contradictory it might appear, Abraham would offer up Isaac and still believe that his seed should be as the sand on the seashore for multitude. Blessing for the world through death and resurrection is early taught. This may be its first practical lesson, and Abraham the first learner, but the Holy Spirit records in the Hebrews that he learned well. R. B.

Lord's Coming and the Church

IF there be a spiritual coming of the Lord, it was clearly the first coming. For though He came truly in flesh, He was not so known save spiritually. None could come to Him as He came in flesh, save the Father Who drew them. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Accordingly He spake and was known in testimony. He was known as the Word by His words: they had the power in which He appeared to draw to Himself then. “He that heareth my word, and believeth Him that sent me, hath everlasting life.”
It was only spiritually He was known, though He was manifested in flesh; it was only in the word which He spake that He was received (John 1:12, 13); for to those that believed on Him by miracles He would not commit Himself (John 2:23, 24). In short, as it was hearing the word and keeping the word which was the sowing of the Son of man, so it was not manifestation to men but veiled. He was manifested to be the Person (although men ought to have known Him) only to those whose eyes were opened by His word to see Him through the Father's grace. This is argued in John 6. and its principles opened out in chapter 8. So John came in the spirit and power of Elias, though He was that very, true, One of Whom the prophets had testified.
If we would distinguish, the real personal coming of the Lord Jesus, though the same true One then, is thus clearly in manifestation the second, when it shall not be merely a revelation of Him to believers. For the point of John 6. is that it was as really so when He was present in the flesh as when He was exalted and hid in God. But “every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” It is clear, this is far more thoroughly personal than appearing as the carpenter's son, revealed only to those drawn of the Father as given to Him. Christ is spiritually present now; so effectually He was when in the days of His flesh; for He then came not judging or executing judgment, which He must do in Person, but testifying in the word of testimony—spiritually received then indeed in Person in the execution of judgment—the great governing ordinance of God, in which He Himself is honored in the execution of it (John 5:27).
So also the church now knows Him and the glory in spirit. In fact in respect of this all are on par. As Jesus appeared so as that they only who were taught of God could know Who He was—the Son; so those, who knew Who Jesus was in the flesh, did in moral fact only see the Son as we see Him now. That is, the moral character of the perception was the same; so that, blessed as His presence was, it was expedient that He should go away. Nor has the glory of the Son ever been assumed in manifestation at all. Jesus glorified the Father upon earth; and now saith He, “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
It was the time of the Son's humiliation, not His glory. The transfiguration was in part an exhibition of it. God was also glorified in Him in the perfect ways and obedience of the Son of man. But the Son of God as such has never had, i.e. as regards us, His proper glory; it is reserved solely for His coming; and if it be not personal with this object, there is no honoring of the Son in His proper honor. It is the only real personal coming of the Son of God—the fulfillment of the great object of the Father, of God—that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. To that end judgment was given Him. Therefore the Revelation speaks of Him previously as the Faithful Witness i.e., of God the Father. The character He gives Himself on earth, and now from heaven, and having accomplished our redemption, is “Behold, he cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.”
Here then is properly the personal coming of the Lord. Before, He manifested God in flesh, ascribing the glory to the Father. Then all glory is ascribed to Him. If it were by the Spirit only, it would be only what was before; it would not be the proper glory of the Son. What we want is the proper manifestation of the Son—in the glory of all surely—but precisely and properly in His person, so that all shall see Him; for the Son's sake, though with the delight and in the glory of the Father, when shall be the manifestation of the sons of God now hid with Christ (that is, as Christ is) in God.
If there be no personal coming in glory of Jesus, specifically in Person as the Son of God, all as it were is lost, though this cannot of course be. But His Person ceases to be the great question of glory, which it is with the Father—with the Divine Being—with the εὐδοκία (good pleasure)—with the I AM (Jehovah) of glory.
His first coming was in witness, though it were indeed the Son; His second coming is in Person, when every eye shall see Him, and the glory of Him Who was hidden be known. On the questions solved in this hinges all, all true divinity—the knowledge of the Son: all rests in this glorious appearing; and the church is just a witness, till that appearing, of the truth of Him (to its own blessing) Who shall then be manifested, and the saints (being also in the truth, believing the truth) with Him in glory.
Let the church deny this, and it ceases to be a church; it ceases in its place and acceptance; it is gone and must be cut off in its form, God may pass by, He may bear with (as He does daily with all of us) ignorance and slowness of heart; but let the church deny this, and the ground of its existence has ceased. It has ceased in the sight of God. The Spirit has no office in it, for His office is to testify of Jesus, of the glory of Jesus as having all things that the Father has; but if this be not accomplished, it is a false witness. The church is to be a witness that it is true—a painful suffering witness, because He has it not now: let her deny that He is to have it, and what is she suffering for? Nothing She is joined to the world, she has ceased in her existence. Hence also he who denies the voice of the Spirit in the church ceases to own the witness of the glory; for the Spirit alone can bear witness of the glory, as the apostles also bore witness of all that they had actually seen in Him from the beginning; and therefore the church ceases.
J. N. D.

A Letter on John 16

DEAR BROTHER, I have long purposed to write to you, but have been hindered by the multiplied avocations of a new, or at least renewed, work here, and communications with brethren elsewhere, and a little shrinking from the difficulty of giving you the thoughts on John 16. in the midst of these avocations. I will proceed to do this at once, as what will be best worth in my letter, coming (I hope) from the Lord. I must be brief and give you only the heads.
The Lord had been telling the disciples, as a little flock now separated from the world, that they would be put out of the synagogues, and that the time was coming when they that killed them (so obnoxious were they, and so blinded were the others) would think that they were doing God's service; and this because they had not known the Father, nor Him the Son. This spirit and this darkness they showed in their rejection of the Son: had they known and received Him, they would have known and received the Father. But as in all this Gospel, so here, the Lord takes His departure, not in the light of His suffering and rejection—dying as a man here, but according to the dignity of His person, “departing out of this world to the Father.” And it is in the light of this He sets the disciples that had loved Him. “And now I go my way to Him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? and because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your hearts.” They had received Him as their Master and as Messiah from God, but were quite dim as to the economy of grace, founded on the resurrection of the Lord, and His glory with the Father. Nevertheless, by their owning Him, they were set in complete contrast with the world, which rejected Him. The Father had sent the Son into the world: the world had rejected and refused, or not known nor received Him; and He was returning to the Father. This is just one principle of the gospel. But He had attracted in grace these few hearts to own Him, witnesses of what He really was. These were naturally sorrowful at His going away, specially accompanied as it was with the declaration of their being left to the relentless enmity of a world of power, to those who would conscientiously, and therefore with no scruple, even kill them.
But He proceeded to explain to them what their portion and place would be, and that by virtue of another and most important truth. “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go nοt away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go away, I will send Him unto you.” Such, then, is the position in which the scene of this world is set in this passage. The world has rejected, not believing in, the Son of God; and He goes away to the Father. The disciples, a little remnant, had believed. On Christ's going away, He sends the Spirit to them. The fact of the presence of the Holy Ghost, consequent upon the departure of the Son, is then the point of this passage. And the presence of the Holy Ghost, that other Comforter, supposes the rejection of the Son, being sent by Christ from the Father. That Comforter is then looked at as personally present with the disciples in the world, as come on the Son's departure to the Father. The world is therefore viewed only as having rejected the Son; for the Spirit would not be thus here, but for the Son's rejection. “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go away, I will send Him unto you.” But, He being thus sent by the Lord Jesus from the Father, His presence was the evidence, not only that the world had rejected Jesus, but that the Father owned and had received Him. Towards such a world God might deal in “grace, and the greatness of that grace be enhanced; but such a world it was.
The Spirit had ever wrought, even in creation and onward; but the Comforter had not come personally till after the ascension of Jesus, any more than the Son till the incarnation, though He had created all things. “For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Thus come, He would convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (or, convict it); His very presence would do this. Of sin, because they believed not on Jesus. The world was convicted of it, not a few wicked men; many had been their sins and evils. But there was now one plain universal question between God and the world in which these, had been summed up: they had rejected His Son.
The world before the flood had sufficed to prove that the imaginations of the thoughts of men's hearts were only evil, and that continually. The law had shown the willfulness of man in breaking through the prohibitory enactments by which God had forbidden the indulgence of their evil imaginings. The prophets God had sent in vain to man, rising up early and sending them, till there was no remedy; and God said, “I have one Son; it may be they will reverence my Son.” And the Son came in direct mercies, even those which nature could feel, as well as grace, and in grace ministering to all their wants, proving in grace (coming into a world into which they were all driven out by sin, and into the midst of miseries which told that they were outcasts from paradise) Who He was. They saw it, and said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance shall be ours.”
Thus was their hatred of the Lord, and the ripeness of sin, fully shown. Therefore, because nothing more could be done but through a change by divine power, the Lord says, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. If I had not done amongst them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father.”
The presence of the Holy Spirit, then, being sent down by the Son of God received on high, convinced, the world of sin in their rejection of Him, for He was there only by virtue of the Son's rejection. But He was also the evidence of righteousness. Righteousness on earth was there none, not even on the cross. The one Righteous Man had been crucified and slain by men; and then, to man's eye, God had not owned Him. Why, He had been constrained to say, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” The saint may and does see all security in this by faith, and the necessities of our eternal righteousness; he may be fitted for heavenly places by it; but there was no manifested) righteousness to the world in it. The Righteous Man suffered, and God in no way interfered, and that Righteous One had openly to proclaim that God was not with Him. We, indeed, know why, in His infinite grace: it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him, that “with His stripes we might be healed.”
But the Lord had previously declared that, if He went to the Father, He would send the Comforter. The coming and presence of the Comforter, then, was the testimony that the Father had received the Son. And here was the witness of righteousness and the full estimate of the value of Christ's work, even His reception on the Father's throne; as His rejection by man had been the proof and full estimate of their sinful state. Therefore it is that Christ appeals to His Father in the end of John 17. “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee!” In reference to the children, He says, “O Holy Father, keep, &c.”
Thus the presence of the Holy Ghost, sent by the Son from the Father, or (as it is also said) sent by the Father in the Son's name, proves the sin of the whole world in having slighted and rejected that Son, and shows that the only righteousness is found to be in the reception of the Son by the Father. Then and thus consequently the believer is found “accepted in the Beloved.” But the great fact is what is here stated: then, and then only, in God's sense of it, righteousness is found.
A mere saving and recognition on the cross would not have been righteousness; for why should the righteous Son of God have been ill-treated? Why should He have suffered at all? But sitting on the right hand of God, after leaving the world, and going to the Father—this, while it was in a certain sense righteous discernment as against the world, was the only worthy public estimate of what He was, of His person, and work. They saw Him no more: of Him above all “the world was not worthy “; but He went to the Father, the true testimony of His excellency, and the due estimate of His acceptance. The Holy Spirit's presence was the testimony of this also.
But was all to be left thus? The rebellious and rejectors, unjudged? those that loved Jesus, sufferers (as He had told them in the beginning of this chapter 16.)? and Jesus still rejected as regards the world? No! The coming and presence of the Holy Ghost convicted the world of the judgment due; and that it would come, because, the prince of this world was judged, had been proved by the cross (in whose hands the world was). “The prince of this world,” saith the Lord, “cometh, and hath nothing in me.” Whether religion among the Jews, or power among the Gentiles, or self-will and recklessness amongst both, all had been led up under his guidance, under one ministration of selfishness and blindness, to the murder of the blessed Son of God. Fear possessed the few that owned Him; and all the disciples forsook Him and fled. They were proved to be the strong man's goods. But, in order to attempt to hold them, he was obliged to commit himself, in all the power he had, against the Prince of Life, One stronger than he, the Captain of our salvation. He is here looked at, as the leader and prince of a sinful world; and so the world's judgment is involved in it.
Now the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, proved by the presence of the Holy Ghost, convicted or proved the world's judgment. For one shown to be its prince, of whom it was the slave, was now judged; and this, consequent on what was previously noticed, His reception on high, Whom under his guidance they had rejected. Satan had put forth all his power, the power of death; and He Who had willingly bowed under it for our sakes was risen and glorified; and, in evidence of it, the Holy Ghost was in the world (among the disciples, but in the world).
The world might not receive the Spirit of the witness of Christ's power whom they had rejected, listening to, and led by, that other and evil spirit. But the predominance of the power of the Holy Spirit, yea, His very presence in the world, was the witness of the judgment of a world under the dominion of him who was thus shown to be judged. Therefore, in speaking of gifts which were the manifestation of the Spirit, it is written, “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gives gifts to men.” But, though it might be publicly manifested by them, the truth itself is what is here, and what concerns us; for I know the Spirit not by the gifts, but by His being in us. Thus the believer and the church know it. The other is a consequence of course valuable in its place, and its manifestation in whatever respect given to profit withal. The force of the judgment of the world, being proved by the presence of the Comforter, is in attacking him who is still prince of this world.
Thus was state; the operation and effect of the Spirit's presence as to the world; whereby, if a man by grace be actually convinced, he is a believer. This is the efficacy of grace; for in the passage it is spoken, not of efficacy, but fact; a fact understood by faith. The Lord, having stated all this, then goes on to show what the Holy Ghost would do among the disciples. He had many things to tell them, which they could not bear then. For they knew Him after all, after the flesh, not having yet received the Comforter. But when He was come, He would guide them (the disciples) into all truth; He would show them things to come; and in all He would glorify Christ, taking of His and showing it unto them, that is, all that the Father had, for all this belonged to Christ the Son. It is not here simply as the Spirit of adoption and sonship, but as present to communicate the truth, and knowledge, and glory which belonged to them as children. This also was theirs, consequent upon the ascension of Jesus; and this was communicated to them in the sending of the Comforter.
A little while, then, and they would see Christ no more; and a little while, and they would, because He went to the Father, on which all this hung, partially fulfilled in pledge and witness on His, resurrection, but fully, really, on His return in glory, when He had gone to the Father, to receive the kingdom, and to return.
The difference between us and the then disciples, I should perhaps notice. They received this communication of truth primarily as a fresh revelation; and, according to the wisdom and dispensation of God, they have by His will treasured it up in the written word, so that it is now to be revealed as a previously unknown truth. But to each of us the Spirit works the same work, actually guiding us into all truth. That truth is only revealed in the written word, as says the apostle John: “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” Thus is it connected with our life; for the unction is from the Holy One. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, because they are spiritually discerned. J. N. D.

Hebrews 11:1-3

The close of Hebrews 10 leads naturally into the rich unfolding of the power of faith which follows an order truly remarkable. It was the more in season here, as there had been defection; through the absence of it; and its value for God's pleasure as well as man's salvation is evident and undeniable, as had just been pointed out. The Jew was peculiarly exposed to overlook its virtue, surrounded as he was by a ritual which appealed to his sight every day; and the Christian Jew had to watch against his old habit, and needed to learn that the great distinctive principle of blessing now as of old lies in faith. Did he value antiquity? Faith distinguished all whom God honored from first to last; not the law but faith. “Thy faith hath saved thee,” said the Lord; whilst the law is but a ministration of death and condemnation.
Undoubtedly the source of all blessing for sinful man is in the grace of God working by His Son and in the Holy Spirit; as this Epistle shows the ground of it all to be in the glorious person of Jesus our Lord and in His efficacious work of redemption. Still it is by faith that we receive the blessing; and faith is never without repentance to God as its accompaniment, never without love as its fruit, with works and ways suitable and inseparable, in the Husbandman's care. It is of faith that we have been justified; it is by faith that we have had and have access into this grace, the true grace of God, wherein we stand; it is through faith that we are all sons of God, as through faith we received the promise of the Spirit; by grace have we been saved through faith; as the believer only has eternal life in the Son of God, and rejoices in hope of the glory of God. This is far from all that scripture attaches to faith; but how immense is the blessedness even here intimated “Now faith is substance (or, confidence) of hoped-for things, conviction of matters not seen. For in virtue of this the elders were testified of. By faith we apprehend that the worlds have been framed by God's word, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things that appear” (Heb. 11:1-3).
Thus is laid down, what every intelligent believer knows to be true experimentally, that faith realizes things hoped for, a demonstration to the soul of matters not seen. It is no new principle, though it shines, as all that is morally noble, in Christianity. All of whom the world was not worthy, all who honored God and looked above the present and the visible, were marked by it. The O.T as the New is full of its blessing, and the lack of it opens the door to all ruin. As it inspires with present confidence in the future we hope for, so it affords demonstration of matters not seen: we look at the things not seen and eternal.
Some have made a difficulty for themselves by the mistaken assumption that we have here a definition of faith. This is clearly not the object, but rather a description of its power and range. Faith scripturally in itself is simply believing God, accepting His word because He says it; and now, under the gospel because of its all-importance, receiving the testimony of God which He has testified about His Son (1 John 5:9), believing (not exactly “on,” but) Him that sent the Son (John 5:24); or, as in John 3:32 it is expressed, he that receives His testimony sets to his seal that God is true; while he that does not believe God has the awful guilt of making Him a liar (1 John 5:10).
Before presenting the bright array of believers, the great truth of creation is set out as a question for faith. And so it truly is. Among the heathen all was as confused as the chaos they generally made co-eternal with deity. Yet the fact was once known, but got corrupted and lost, notwithstanding the testimony to God's invisible power and divinity in the things that were made. It might seem an easy inference that there must be an Almighty Maker; yet who drew it plainly?
Scripture reveals it simply, suitably, and solemnly; and faith received it of old as now. And it becomes all the more needful to heed it, when the course of this evil age runs strongly to the darkness of heathen thought, and men find their Bible in science which knows not a single truth of God, being too self-satisfied to sit at Jesus' feet and hear His word. Yet even the proudest and most hostile of these modern philosophers is constrained to confess, that they can only investigate phenomena, and are absolutely ignorant of the originating power which gave birth to them. Only the mind cannot but own that such there must have been. It is an “unknown God” still, though they are hardly as candid as the Athenians in erecting an altar, and inscribing their ignorance. Yet there is no excuse now, where not only the scripture is read, but the Son of God come has given the amplest proof of the truth.
The inspired statement will reward the closest scrutiny. By faith we apprehend that the worlds have been framed by God's word, and that what is seen hath not been originated out of things apparent. This leaves ample room for whatever changes can be adequately shown to have followed the original creation of the earth; while it also maintains that what is seen did not derive its being from what appears. That all was made out of nothing is what no Christian would say; but that, where nothing existed, God created all things out of His own will and word is just the truth, alike simple and profound; and all other hypotheses are as unwise as they are uncalled for and untrue.
It is natural enough that science should boast of what it has discovered and can teach of material phenomena, the laws which govern them, and the results that flow from them. Nor is science to be blamed, because from its nature it cannot rise to moral truth, still less to the knowledge of God. Only those who speak for it are out of court when they venture to deny that anything higher and far more momentous can be learned. They are wholly wrong and illogical even, when they affirm that there is nothing to be known beyond the blank wall where all science necessarily stops, unable to lead or go farther. The most thorough-going, the grossest, of materialists must and does confess that science can give no account of the originating cause of all, or, as they say, “the origin of the permanent causes themselves." Science, says another of these sages, “is wholly powerless to penetrate the mystery which lies behind.” But if science cannot discover, God can reveal. And the Bible begins with His revelation in words simple, clear, and worthy of Him. God would not have His people ignorant of the origin of all things through His power and goodness and wisdom, having called them into relationship with Himself, unworthy as they are till the only Worthy One bring them to Himself in mercy and truth, then to shine with His light.
Meanwhile, during Israel's unbelief, grace has provided “some better thing” in Christianity with its heavenly association, wherein we who now believe, while Christ is on high, have our blessed portion.
We may just notice how readily even commentators stray, who speak without entire subjection to the words of scripture. Thus one who objects justly to those who trust not only the ascertained facts of geology, but the changing and uncertain hypotheses of its teachers, cites “In six days God created” &c. But this is erroneous. The Bible never speaks so. See Ex. 20:11: “For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea,” &c. This is the express testimony of the Holy Ghost. The creation proper (Gen. 1:1) was before the six days when particular objects were no doubt created for the Adamic earth. Again, others err by confounding the original creation with the empty and confused state into which (not the heavens, but) the earth is shown us in Gen. 1:2; where the idiom as other scripture (Isa. 45:18), rejects the assumption of God's originally creating a chaos: an idea natural to paganism. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The break-up described in Gen. 1:2 was a subsequent state, in contrast with the original order, and with the final one for man.

Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 1

Chapter 1
THE return of the captives from Babylon, important as it was in itself and in its consequences, was no more than a partial accomplishment of prophecy. Jeremiah's seventy years (chap. 25:11, 29:10) were fulfilled, and Daniel's seventy weeks (chap. 9.) thereon had their occasion. Even worse ruin impended, which the latter was given to know and reveal, following the cutting off of Messiah; as indeed the most fruitful and comprehensive of the prophets had already intimated long before (Isa. 49-57). The incredulity that left Jehovah, their own living God, for idols rose up against their own Messiah. Man, the Jew, must show himself as evil and rebellious in every way, before he finds mercy triumphing to God's glory in his salvation and blessing, when the promises to Abraham will have their long expected fulfillment on earth, and the secret of the divine purpose, hid in God from ages and generations, and before time began, will be displayed in the glory of Christ head over all things to the church, His body. The partial return was a pledge of that complete mercy in the future which is inseparable from Christ returning in power and glory, when the world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed shall come (Rev. 11:15). He will then take His great power and reign. For behold He cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they which pierced Him; and all tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him. Yea, Amen (Rev. 1:7).
But that little return of which Ezra gives the inspired account is itself the best refutation of the ignorant dream that Ezekiel's prediction of the valley of dry bones (chap. 37.) then came to pass. For these bones are expressly “the whole house of Israel,” whom Jehovah will bring into the land of Israel (vers. 11,12). Further, to mark the difference more sharply, the prophet was bidden, as the same chapter tells us, to take two sticks, one for Judah and the sons of Israel his companions, the other for Joseph or Ephraim and all the house of his companions. Both of these were to be joined into one stick and become one in Ezekiel's hand: the symbol, as is explained authoritatively of Jehovah making the sons of Israel one nation in their land, and one king to them all, never more to be two nations or to be divided into two kingdoms, never more to defile themselves with their idols or their detestable things or with any of their transgressions, but to be saved and purified, and to be His people, and He their God, and His servant the Beloved King over them, all having one shepherd, their prince forever: such the everlasting covenant of Jehovah with them when He sets His sanctuary in their midst for evermore, and the nations know that He, Jehovah, thus hallows Israel forever.
It was an evil fruit of Gentile conceit (Rom. 11.) to deny that these glorious visions pertain exclusively to Israel in a coming day. It was suicidal folly for the church to arrogate what, glorious as it will be for the earthly people, is wholly beneath the portion which sovereign grace gives us with Christ on high, in the day when all things shall be under His headship (and we one with Him), whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens. As far as I am aware, not a single one among the Fathers, Greek, Latin, Syrian, &c., escaped this high-minded unintelligence, some earlier interpreting the O.T of the glorified saints in the millennium, others later taking it allegorically even now or by-and-by, but none confessing the hopes proper to Israel, none believing that all Israel shall be saved after the fullness of the Gentiles, now being gathered, is come in. No wonder that their error, wise in their own conceits, has sown the wind for the rationalistic whirlwind that blusters so loudly in our day, the root of which is unbelief in God, and faith in man, which sees in the ruin and decadence of Christendom the signs of progress and triumph for fallen man, ignorant of divine judgment till the Lord is revealed from heaven to execute it.
The truth is that one of the most solemn events in O. T. history accompanied the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), the period of the four Gentile world-powers, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Macedonia, and the Roman empire. Jehovah no longer reigned in Jerusalem, but marked the change by giving over the last king of David's house to Babylon, the head of the image which set out the succession of imperial power, till His kingdom come judicially in the Stone cut without hands, break in pieces all these kingdom, itself never to be destroyed but to stand forever. The return from Babylon was no return of the Shekinah. Jerusalem was no longer the throne of Jehovah, as it had been; still less as it is to be (Jer. 3:17), when all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem; when the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come out of the land of the north to the land He gave for an inheritance to their fathers. Meanwhile since Nebuchadnezzar the government of the world is in the hands of the Gentiles as in Dan. 2., Zechariah, and the Revelation; and Israel is Lo-Ammi, Not-My-People. When the Son of man comes in His kingdom, the Gentiles shall be punished for their abuse of the trust committed to them, culminating in their rising up against Him in glory as before in humiliation; and the first or former dominion shall come to the daughter of Zion, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem (Mic. 4:8), when she shall arise and thresh, and the once despised Jesus shall be great to the ends of the earth.
Yet the return of the remnant was of deep interest and moment during the power of “the beasts” till under the last Messiah came and put them to this new test, more serious even than the old question of cleaving to Jehovah and refusing all other gods. For indeed He was, and was amply proved to be, Jehovah-Messiah; and their apostasy was yet more guiltily to be shown in despising and crucifying Him. Therefore God in due time gave them up to be shaken and scattered to the winds of heaven by the fourth empire for eighteen long centuries, as for their idolatry they were for seventy years swept away by the first.
The narrative repeats the last two verses of 2 Chronicles “And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, the God of heaven, given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of Jehovah, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever is left in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the free-will offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. And the chief fathers of Judah and Benjamin rose up, and the priests, and the Levites, even all whose spirit God had stirred to go up to build the house of Jehovah which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, besides all that was offered. And king Cyrus brought forth the vessels of the house of Jehovah, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine-and-twenty knives, thirty basins of gold, silver basins of a second [sort] four hundred and ten, other vessels a thousand. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. The whole did Sheshbazzar bring up when they of the captivity were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem” (vers. 1-11).
It was the first year of the reign of Cyrus after his overthrow of Babylon. This it was of moment to note, not his previous circumstances. How powerfully Isaiah's prophecy must have struck a mind so thoughtful! Rationalists were not there to insinuate their skepticism. Daniel was there to point out Jeremiah also. It was not policy but Jehovah that stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, as He did that of the chief fathers of the Jews. The conqueror of Babylon proclaimed a jubilee as it were to the captives, but expressly to build Jehovah's house in Jerusalem. Who but an enemy of God's word can doubt. that Isa. 44:28, was his “charge” from Jehovah? And his works were according to his words, without attributing more than the action of conscience in presence of facts so stupendous and above human ken. The holy vessels were counted and restored, as far as was fitting, for Jehovah's house in Jerusalem. The ark, the center, the highest in value, the nearest to the glory, was not there. Alas! the glory itself had withdrawn. But in the day that the salvation of Israel comes out of Zion, the glory will return, no more to leave. When Jehovah turns again the captivity of His people, it will be no feeble remnant: Jacob shall be glad, Israel shall rejoice.

Song of Solomon 1, 2:1-2

MANY have applied this wonderful book of scripture to the church, many more to the soul, in relation to the Lord Jesus. Nor is it denied for a moment that there is a principle common to all born of God, the love to Him Who died for all who enter by faith into the love of God in Christ, the love which His known love creates, itself passing knowledge.
But is there the smallest reason to question that the book really contemplates, what the O.T does every where, that object which is so precious to Messiah on earth, confirmed as it is by so many proofs in the Psalms (especially 45.) and the Prophets (Isa. 62.)? Solomon accordingly was no unsuited vessel for the Spirit to employ in this respect. The N. T. treats Christ and the church as a secret kept hid in God till the apostle Paul was employed to make it known; so that the bearing is naturally on the mutual love of Messiah and his earthly bride, the daughter of Zion, and other such figurative terms. It seems difficult to men who look only at the past to realize what divine mercy is yet to effect in Jerusalem, when instead of her old rebellion and treachery, the city of the great king shall be the object of Jehovah's delight, called by a new name, a crown of beauty and a royal diadem in His hand, and stand at His right hand as the queen in gold of Ophir a praise in the earth.
In fact a great deal of the perplexity among the commentators is owing to misapplication. Literalists are apt here, as elsewhere, to deprive the book of a worthy object and divine character. Thus, according to one of the latest and ablest, it is intended to display the victory of humble and constant love over the temptations of wealth and royalty! Such an aim might suit the Idylls of Theocritus or the Eclogues of his Latin imitator, Vergil; but it betrays fatal ignorance of O. T. scripture, which rises habitually above the immediate historical occasions into a purpose of grace, the more easily overlooked, because its accomplishment awaits the grand future when Messiah shall have the object of His nearest affections here below answering to His love. As a whole it is typical or allegorical, however unbelief may miss the object.
The Song of songs accordingly fills a place in the O.T. which is as unique as the Book of Psalms, while both are without counterpart in the N. T. where neither was directly needed, and the Christian as well as the church could use both fittingly mutatis mutandis in keeping with our own distinctive relationship. For us redemption is accomplished, salvation come, and righteousness revealed. The accepted work of Christ glorified on high, and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit place us in a position very different from that which is contemplated in Song of Solomon Hence the wonderful reality which the Christian and the church alike and already possess of union with Christ where by the Spirit, there is still the power of hope, because we await the consummation, the actual bridals in heaven, after being caught up to be with Christ (Rev. 19.) For us the relationship is so established that the affections can flow and the walk be expected, which suit her who is Christ's body and bride (Eph. 5., Rev. 22.). This is in contrast with the Jewish position here set forth, where the relationship is as yet only desired and has to be formed, or at most re-established. Hence we have the varied exercises of the heart through circumstances of trial that issue in profit, set on the profession of what is dearest, but not yet enjoying it in peace. And as we could not without the inspiring Spirit have had such a collection as the Psalms from a people under the law, a ministry of death and condemnation; so still less if possible such an anticipation of the mutual love of Messiah and Jerusalem that is to be; whereas the Christian and the church are morally capable of uttering our own psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, in the enjoyment of His love and our intimate relationship as one with Him.
What, next to having eternal life and redemption and our proper relationship to Christ, can be more important than the enjoyment of His love and the kindling and strengthening and fixing of ours? We love Him because He first loved us.
Let us then look briefly into the details of Song of Solomon
Chap. 1, 2:2:
“The Song of songs which is Solomon's.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth;
For thy love [is] better than wine.
Thine ointments have sweet fragrance;
Thy name (is) ointment poured forth:
Therefore do the virgins love thee.
Draw me: we will run after thee
(The king hath brought me into his chamber); We will be glad and rejoice in thee;
We will make mention of thy love more than of wine.
Upright ones love thee.
I [am] black but comely, O daughter of Jerusalem,
As the tents of Kedar,
As the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I [am] black, Because the sun hath looked upon (scorched) me. My mother's sons were angry with me;
They made me keeper of the vineyards: mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Tell me, thou whom my soul loveth,
Where thou feedest [thy flock], where thou makest [it] to rest at noon;
For why should I be as one veiled (wandering)
beside the flocks of thy companions?
If thou know not, thou fairest among women, Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, And feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.
I have compared thee, my love (friend), To a steed in Pharaoh's chariots.
Thy cheeks (are) comely with plaits, Thy neck with jewel chains.
We will make thee plaits of gold
With studs of silver.
While the king is at his table,
My spikenard sendeth forth its fragrance. My beloved [is] unto me a bundle of myrrh That lieth between my breasts.
My beloved [is] unto me a cluster of henna-flowers
In the vineyards of Engedi.
Behold, thou [art] fair, my love; Behold, thou [art] fair:
Thine eyes [are as] doves'.
Behold, thou [art] fair, my beloved, yea pleasant: Also our couch [is] green.
The beams of our houses [are] cedars, Our rafters firs.
I [am] a crocus of the Sharon, A lily of the valley.
As a lily among thorns,
So is my love among the daughters” (vers. 1-17, 2:1, 2).
Thus the bride expectant acknowledges the preciousness to her of Messiah's love and delights to speak of the fragrance of His grace, His name, not only to herself, but to all that kept clear of idolatrous corruptions (the virgins). On this last danger and preservation from it the early verses of Rev. 14. may be compared, to profit those that weigh both. It is certain that the future godly remnant of Jews, when the church is no longer here, will be tried by this evil again bursting forth, not merely among the nations, but in Jerusalem and the temple itself (compare Isa. 57:4-9; Dan. 11:12, 36-39:11; Matt. 12:24, 43-45:15; 2 Thess. 2.). Therefore the bride associates the faithful with herself in this purity of affection, but cleaves to her own special intimacy with the king, while confessing her love too. Then she rehearses the effect of fiery trial on herself; for indeed Jerusalem had suffered long and severely; so that His grace elsewhere declares she had received of His hand double for all her sins. Jealousy and anger had been where it might have been least expected. Yet she who should have been a blessing to the nations around in fruit to God had failed even in her own responsibility. The less would she now trust herself but with Messiah's flock and those He gave to tend them (vers. 1-7); as indeed others testify (vers. 8).
Thereupon Messiah declares His pleasure in her, as grace delights to tell her (vers. 9-11); and she rejoins in confessing the effect on her heart; to which He answers briefly in ver. 15, and she replies in vers. 16, 17 and 2:1; which all form the general view of their attitude respectively. Testimonies of mutual affection close this portion.

Education of the World: Opposed to Scripture, Christ and Christianity

OPPOSED TO SCRIPTURE, CHRIST, AND CHRISTIANITY.
THE principle of the essay is each successive age incorporating into itself the substance of the preceding. The analogy is the law, Christ, and the Spirit.
But this wholly contradicts the principle. For these are no incorporations of past growth or acquirements, but specific revelations of a full and absolute character in themselves—indeed, as to the two last, the actual coming of divine persons.
Not only so; but the law was given when men had plunged into every loathsome wickedness, and had learned to worship demons instead of God; so that God had given them up to a reprobate mind, even as to what became them as men. And the law was given therefore to a people separated out from the rest of the world. It was no progress, but a revelation to a peculiar people.
When Christ came, it was after this law had been broken, and the people become a whited sepulcher. He likewise, though introducing universal principles, separates a people to Himself, and is entirely rejected by men.
When the Holy Ghost comes, we know on the Lord's own authority, that the world cannot receive Him, because it seeth Him not neither knoweth Him.
In a word, it was no progressive incorporation by one age of the acquirements of the last, but revelations given to a people separated to receive them: the first, because men had departed utterly from God; the second, because the depositaries of the first had broken and falsified it, as they crucified Him Who came. As to the third, it was manifested in power at the first; but, instead of progress or development, there has been a corruption by the denial of the presence of the Spirit and setting aside of the word, which has made the annals of the church the most painful history in the world (as has been insultingly said, “the annals of hell”). For if the degradation of heathenism was more open, it was not so morally abominable, nor clothed with the forms of Christian grace. Sin among heathens was horrible to the last degree, and consecrated to deities who were only demons to help men's lusts. But there were no Christian indulgences to allow or forgive it, no tax for what it was to be compounded at, no selling of grace and license for what was condemned. This was reserved for the church, and in the outward sense justly.
Remark here another point of vast importance in the present day when development is so much spoken of. What God reveals is revealed perfect in its place and for its purpose at first; and man declines from it. There is progress in the character of God's revelations compared with one another; but in themselves none. There cannot be progress in a revelation (it is itself); there may be in revelations. A revelation is given perfect; and man declines from it. That man should make progress in a revelation denies its nature. Now the things the rationalist speaks of were revelations; different in nature, but still revelations.
When we come to Christ, there is another immensely important truth, to talk of progress wherein is blasphemy: He is God manifest in flesh; He is perfection. Hence the apostle John tells us to abide in that which we have heard from the beginning.
And we find here too a principle of scripture, the ignorance and denial of which is the root of all these errors and modern reasonings. The scripture presents Christ as the Second Man, the Last Adam. There is no progress of man in flesh spoken of, He is to put off the old man (or has done so), and put on the new which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. He is to reckon himself dead. He is crucified with Christ. He speaks of “when we were in the flesh.” That is, the blessed and admirable doctrine of scripture is the absolute moral judgment of man as man, a child of Adam in flesh, because sin is there; and in the delight the new man has in God, he cannot bear sin. He has crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof, and lives as alive to God in the Last Adam! “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”
The great ordinances of Christianity declare this as its nature. We are buried in baptism unto death and risen again; we celebrate in the Lord's supper a Christ, not Who instructed us (though blessedly He has instructed those who are quickened, and warned the dead) but died for us.
Thus Christianity is founded on the total condemnation of the old man (only that Christ has died for it in grace, and thus, as a sacrifice for sin, condemned sin in the flesh), and the introduction of a new, but a new connected, in the power of Christ's resurrection, with that which is heavenly, where Christ now sits. The object of this new life is not here, though its display is. It is the true character of power in a creature to live, in the circumstances it is in, from motives and a power which are not found in them; or else he is governed by them, that is, he is weak. So with the Christian: with peace in his conscience through a dying Christ, he has a heavenly Christ before him; and, his motives being wholly out of this world, he has through grace power to live in it according to the motives which govern him.
This is not the place to unfold all the exquisite internal beauty of this principle, wrought out for its perfecting in dependence on grace, in the midst of the conflicts we have with a world of evil, and with a lower nature in itself prone to it; and the continual association with Christ, our glorified Head, the Man at God's right hand, in which it is made good, so as to grow up to Him Who is the Head in all things. This would be to unfold the contents of all the Epistles as the development of it in teaching, and the Gospels as the exhibition of the perfection of it in Christ. But enough has been said to show that the system of the New Testament is the setting aside of the old man, the flesh, the first Adam, because there is sin (and sin is become unbearable when the true light, Christ, is in us as life), and the possession—the substitution for that—of the new man, Christ our life, unfolded in a life which we live by the faith of the Son of God Who loved us and gave Himself for us. Was He a point of progress in the development of human nature, of Adam's fallen life? or the perfect exhibition of a new thing—that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us, and became the source of it to others, while He has died for the guilt and sin which characterized the old?
Life and incorruptibility were brought to light by the gospel; but this life did not begin to exist then. Christ, the Second Man, out of heaven, is a life-giving Spirit—has not merely a living soul, though this of course He had; and, communicated this life to others from Abel—I may well say and doubt it not, from Adam downwards. But then for that very reason, though the great contrast, the enmity of man—of the carnal mind against God—was not brought out till the Cross, when the perfection of God revealed in flesh was fully presented, those who partook of this life through grace were hated and rejected of the world, whose boasted progress is depicted to us by the new philosophy. “He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit.” They were moral contradictions. One loved God, judged self, and owned divine authority. The other sought self and would none of God for that reason. Conscience there was and is in all. Conscience judges good and evil; but a new life is good in—a divine way.
Hence it is found that, with all this modern school of rationalism, even its most infidel forms, Christ will be recognized, provided He be a restorer of what scripture denounces as flesh. They will use what to many a simple mind appears Christian language. But the just condemnation of a sinner, the absolute condemnation of the flesh as well as the new life in Christ, and atonement for the sins of the old life—all this will not be heard of; and into this anti-Christian system even Christians fall. It exalts man; and all the blessed light of God, the heavenly place into which Christ is entered, is lost.
J. N. D.

Woman

Gen. 2
ALIENATED as fallen man is from God, nothing is so strange to him as the truth. And no wonder. It brings the true God before him, and reminds him of his departure from God. He is under Satan's lie, and naturally opposes the truth, which he is inclined to treat at best as myth, philosophic or religious. But it is by the word of God's revealed truth, that the Father of lights brought of His own will any forth, that they should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures. His word is truth; and of that word Christ is the great personal object of faith, Who puts every soul that hears the gospel to the test. To this end is Be born, and to this end is come into the world, that He should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears His, voice, and follows Him Who gives the believer eternal life. “He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life” (1 John 5:12). If a man recognized his ruin and guilt before God, how would he not from his heart receive the Savior!
But, owning neither his own need nor God's grace in Christ, he stumbles at the word, being disobedient, and judges scripture, instead of being judged by it, as all believers are. Such an one sets Gen. 2. against Gen. 1., because through incredulity he sees God in neither, and is unwilling to learn the truth in each and in both, alike necessary to give us a complete view.
Beyond controversy Gen. 1:26-28 presents in noble terms the creation of man, the chief of his works here below. Here only did He call Himself into council; as man only He proposed to make in His image after His likeness, assigning dominion over the rest of earth's living creatures. But whatever may be the expression of singular dignity, it is simply mankind's place in creation, notably distinguished, and indisputably the highest, but yet the highest of earthly creatures, “male and female” like the rest of animated nature. It is therefore God, Elohim the Creator simply, of Whom we here read. It could not with propriety be otherwise.
Gen. 2. regards the scene from the point of moral relationship which brings in the name of Him Who governs on earth as revealed to Israel nationally, and so, in the O. T. as a whole, Jehovah, but Jehovah here carefully identified with the Creator, Jehovah Elohim, the LORD God. For there is none other. It is ignorance to account for the different names of God here or elsewhere, and any difference of words, style, &c., by imagining distinct writers, when all is demonstrably due to change of standpoint, and the simple but profound and exquisite accuracy of thought and language in Holy Writ. It is no rival account by another hand, but the same writer guided by the inspiring Spirit to set out man's moral position; the garden of Eden as the scene of his care, and, in the midst of abundance, the prohibition laid on him under penalty of death; the subject beasts, and birds, brought to him and named by him as their lord; finally a helpmate, in contrast with every other formation, taken out of himself in the wise goodness of Him with Whom we have to do.
All is consistent with the presentation of relationship, beginning with Jehovah Elohim (the LORD God) in chap. 2:4, not Creator only but Moral Governor. Hence here, not in chap. 1, is the garden of delight planted by the LORD God, the testing place of man's obedience. Here only in the midst of the garden we hear of the two trees: one the sovereign gift of life naturally; the other of responsibility. Here only are we told of man formed of the dust of the ground on one hand, and on the other by the LORD God breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. Adam was thus “son of God” (Luke 3:38), a living soul, not as other creatures by creative power wily, but he only by Jehovah Elohim breathing into his nostrils. Nor is the effect lost for the race; for, as Paul quotes to the Athenians, we too are His offspring, as no other earthly creatures are. Therefore is the soul immortal for good or for ill; if saved, it is forever with Christ; if lost, for everlasting punishment, because He is refused and men die in their sins. Such was man's relationship to Jehovah Elohim; and the test of obedience here therefore follows.
In pointed contrast with the relationship to him of every animal of the field and every bird of the heavens, to which their master gave names by divine authority, no helpmate appeared, till Jehovah Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall on the man. Then He took one of his ribs, and built it into a woman, and brought her to the man (vers. 21, 22). And the man, notwithstanding his deep sleep, recognized her at once as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. “This shall be called Woman (or She-man), because she was taken out of man.” It is the strongest possible statement of her peculiar relationship to himself, and as perfectly suiting chap. 2 as it would have been out of place in chap. 1. How sad that men of learning, professed theologians, should be so dull to discern the mind of God in scripture, so ready to plunge into the dark after any Will-o-the-wisp of rationalism to their own loss and the injury of all who follow them!
The apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 11:8, 9, tersely sums up the truth of the case as having God's authority: “For man is not of woman, but woman of man; for neither was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.” Those who venture to dispute the fact must one day learn what it is to give God the lie. It is the ground of the sanctity of marriage, one woman for one man: such was the order from the beginning of Him Who made her, as He did, of man, and so to be one flesh, alas! too soon forgotten by men generally and even by Israel. But there it was indelibly written to instruct the faithful and shame the rebellious.
And is it nothing for souls that the same apostle in Eph. 5:25-33 refers to this oracle of God? Yes, the first man Adam foreshadows the Second man and last Adam, on Whom fell a deeper sleep, that a heavenly Eve might be formed, even the church for which Christ in His love gave Himself, that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. No doubt this mystery is great, but it is no less true and blessed. It is infinite grace, and only possible through the death of Christ, by which a poor sinner is reconciled through faith to God.
O despise not the living and abiding word! Despise not the grace of God which sends you His glad tidings in Christ and in His blood which cleanseth from all sin! It is for you, that, believing on the name of the Son of God, “ye may know that ye have eternal life,”

Scripture Sketches: Andrew's Brother

THE first fish which Andrew took on his single line was his own brother Simon, whose conversion led to events which have largely influenced the whole world ever since. Of course, we know that, whilst by one large class of people Simon Peter is regarded as a demi-god, by another he is chiefly remembered for his numerous mistakes. But in some respects these mistakes were fortunate for us; they at least proved that he was no demi-god; and it is as possible to make too much of them as too little. It would be very foolish to ignore the ardent valor and devoted self-sacrifice of Peter's life because of his inconsistencies, however serious.
“Mistakes”! said a bank manager to us lately, “Why, we have a branch at W—, and they have never made a mistake there yet “... “But,” he continued meditatively, “we're going to close it. You see, they have never done a stroke of business.” And I think we may be sure that, if there are anywhere to be found those who have never made mistakes, then it is because they have never accomplished anything worth mentioning, and in that case their whole life is one vast mistake.
When Simon was brought to the Messiah, his new Master, considering it necessary to give him a surname, selected the last one probably that we should have thought of, Peter,' a stone; For He, Who sees the things that are not, could see that this man who was naturally impulsive, erratic, and inconsistent, would become by divine grace a solid and substantial rampart in the church against all kinds of evil and hostility. His high and burning devotion and love to his Master, carried him loyally through the most appalling difficulties and dangers, always inflexible and invincible, except on the one occasion when the man who could brave the most ghastly forms of death for his principles was frightened at the taunt of a servant girl. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” Peter had not got his own example before his eyes to warn him; we have, and have no excuse. Yesterday's grace is not sufficient for today's trials and to-morrow's temptations. Yesterday Elijah stood calm and strong before raging multitudes on Carmel: to-day he flees for his life. And before a woman too, like Peter! But for all that we must not forget yesterday's services because of to-day's failures.
Certainly his Master did not. Though He knew all that was in man, and in this man too, failing and uncertain, He appointed him to the most honorable position in the Apostolate. He made him
“The pilot of the Galilean lake:{br}Two massy keys he bore of metals twain,{br}The golden opes, the iron shuts amain.”
The keys were committed to him, not to build the church with of course (churches cannot be built with keys), but to open the gates of the “kingdom of heaven;” which we see him doing in Acts 2. when he was the first to let in the Jews to the realm of salvation; and afterward in Acts 10. when he admitted the Gentiles.
This choosing of Peter to admit the Gentiles was very wise, because, of all the apostles, he was the most intensely national in his sympathies. Like most men of strong impulsive enthusiasm, he was apt to be bigoted at times; and we find that at a subsequent period he allowed his bigoted nationality to mislead him into a gross and serious inconsistency on this point. He refused companionship and fellowship to the Gentile Christians. This was distinctly a schismatic action, and, if sanctioned, would in its ultimate tendency have soon broken the church to pieces; but no one even seems to have dreamed of such severity of discipline as to propose Peter's excommunication. His fellow-apostle Paul “withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” Happily we are not dealt with according to the ultimate tendency of every offense that we commit, but for the action itself and the motive accompanying it. There is no record of Peter's having been subjected to any ecclesiastical discipline at all, not even the formal public rebuke; and the only reference made to the incident is a seemingly casual but divinely wise mention to the Galatians when they were in danger of traveling on the same lines.
Peter however took Paul's opposition in a very gracious spirit; and we must remember that he was the senior apostle and Paul the youngest. He writes afterward of his “beloved brother Paul” and of “the wisdom given unto him.” He speaks highly of his Epistles, though he admits there are some things in them hard to be understood. But it were foolish and criminal to reject them on that account. Those who do so, are “unlearned and unstable.” There is no exposition of technical things which does not present difficulties even to the adepts. And this is quite as true in science as religion. I remember that Mr. Darwin says in his preface to “The Origin of Species,” that he cannot understand parts of Professor Owen's writings, and draws consolation from the fact that there are others who cannot understand nor reconcile them either.
We can see how wisely the choice was made of a man for the active leader of aggressive Christianity. Those virtues, most needed for such an enterprise, Peter undoubtedly possessed to a very high degree—ardor, courage, and hope. His life and Epistles are throughout characterized by these qualities, especially hope. The German Weiss names him the “Apostle of Hope.” His faults are such as we find in men of like nature called to like service, the faults which come from zeal and excessive impetuosity. Luther, who was of a very similar nature and mission, had very similar failings, which “Protestants” are content to ignore, as “Catholics,” ignore Peter's. An aggressive leader is usually impetuous. Luther had little sympathy with the balanced sobriety of mind which Erasmus or Melancthon possessed. “I like not such brains which can dispute on both sides, and yet conclude nothing certain,” he says. Thus too the Swiss champion, Wer gar zu viel bedenkt, wird wenig leisten. Peter rushes into the holy sepulcher itself, whilst John stands reverently at the threshold.
Luther was hurried into many a mistake—and injustice. Erasmus, he says, holds “ungodly false doctrine.” Melancthon is a sheep. “The pope and his crew are like great thieves.” In the Swiss and Saxon controversy over the sacraments, he was obstinately wrong-headed and violent against the learned courteous Zuinglius. “Bullinger, you err,” he storms, “you know neither yourself, nor what you hold. I mark well your tricks and fallacies. Zuinglius and CEcolampadius likewise proceeded too far in this your ungodly meaning,” &c., &c. His Tischreden is often very inconsequent, and his interpretations of some passages of scripture quite grotesque; but shall we because of these things forget his wondrous services to God and man, his valor and his devotion, his masculine strength and woman-like tenderness? In later times he felt his need of patience. “I must have patience with the pope; I must have patience with heretics and seducers; I must have patience with the roaring courtiers; I must have patience with my servants; I must have patience with Kate my wife.” (I fancy that, if “my Lord Kate,” as he used to call her, happened to read that part she would probably supply him with still further occasions for exercising his patience.)
Peter certainly closed his life in martyrdom and by crucifixion; but whether, as alleged, he was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, there is very little evidence. He was most probably never at Rome at all; and that story of his leaving the city at the approach of danger, and meeting his divine Master going toward it, to Whom he addressed the inquiry, Donrine, quo vadis? is neither true nor yet very well invented, albeit the words are written up on the Appian Way to this day.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:3-5

THAT chapter 5. is in its only proper place, supposing one and the same hand wrote all the sections preceding it, is manifest from the exclusion of reference to Cain and Abel, and its notice of Seth as the true and appointed continuator of Adam's line to Noah. Previous and fragmentary documents, or not, is quite a subordinate question. But this is the more inviting for the speculative to discuss, as there is the slenderest basis whereon to display their skill in building their ingenious but shadowy schemes. The believer has before him the solid fact of a divinely carried out design, on a principle which discovers the enmity of a mind above man's, not here only but throughout the O.T. Nor is there a single instance known to me of sure evidence against Moses as its writer. The ancient heathen themselves, spite of their undying animosity against the Jews, were not in this as unbelieving as our modern critics who call themselves Christians.
For where could the fruitful episode of chap. 4. stand suitably but where we find it? Yet this, to be exact, required the use of Jehovah alone for the first time in the narrative. Neither Elohim as in chaps. 1. 2: 3 would be in keeping, nor yet Jehovah Elohim as in chaps. 2:4 and 3., each in its proper place, which is only proved the more by the exceptions in the language of the serpent and of Eve (chap. 3:1, 3, 5). The conditions in chap. 4 were no longer paradisiacal but such as appealed to all the race now fallen, especially before men lapsed into idolatry, having still the traditional knowledge of God, not as Creator only but in special relationship as Moral Governor of His offspring. Not for two millenniums and a half was that Name with the law given to the chosen people as their distinctive possession and responsibility. But here they were shown, on the small primeval platform of Cain and Abel, the vanity for a sinner of natural religion, slighting, as it always does the guilt and the judgment of sin, no less than sacrificial provision of grace bound up with faith in the coming and suffering Messiah Who should destroy the enemy.
It is remarkable that Eve, who had been misled by the serpent to forget the special relationship of Jehovah Elohim, said on the birth of Cain, I have gotten a man from, or with the help of Jehovah. It was like Sarah in Hagar's case looking for the seed of promise through nature. On the other hand, and in the same chap. 4:25, she said on the birth of Seth, Elohim hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel: the more to he observed, because in the next verse we are told that then it was men began to call upon the name of Jehovah. Now each of these designations is employed with exquisite propriety, and with an aim evident save to men walking in the darkness of Egypt. So mistaken are they who, ignorant of what is all-important spiritually, fall into the delusion of striving to account for these differences and their accompaniments, by the fancy that the sections in which they occur are by different hands. It is the design, and this a divine one, which alone satisfactorily explains all the phenomena, and the more strikingly because they come from the same inspired writer.
So in our chap. 5. Elohim is the only proper term till we come to verse 29, where Jehovah is demanded by the aim of the inspiring Spirit. Difference of hand is the resource of incredulous ignorance. Cain and Abel had played their parts respectively, as all that hear the truth must, in the darkness of unbelief or the light of faith; and Eve, profiting by her early mistake, acknowledges her son Seth as substituted by Elohim for Abel whom Cain slew. Son of Adam, he the firstborn had gone out impenitent and in despair from Jehovah's presence, was building a city called after the name of his son, and began the world of arts and sciences, civilization and pleasure, a wanderer far from the God Who reveals His will and judges those that despise His Christ. With the appointed Man people began calling upon His Name, the foreshadow of the millennial day (compare Isa. 11:9.10;, Jer. 3:17; Zech. 14:9; Mal. 1:11).
Here till the close the sole correct designation is Elohim, and could not be Jehovah. It is the line of Seth from Adam to Noah.
“And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat [a son] in his likeness, after his image, and called his name Sheth. And Adam's days after he begat Sheth were eight hundred years; and he begat sons and daughters. And all Adam's days which he lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died” (vers. 3-5).
When Elohim made man, chap. 1: 26, He proposed it to be in His image, after His likeness. So He created him in His image, as it is said twice (ver. 27). And we have already seen, that, as likeness resembles, image represents: a distinction which it is of moment to seize, as it holds everywhere in scripture. The “likeness” consisted of qualities corresponding to God, as no other nature on earth had; the image was man's place in presenting Him to others, as not even angels of heaven did or could. As man was made upright, so he was called to dominion over the lower creation. Angels fulfill His word and do His pleasure, yet they only minister, never rule. But now that the head of the race was fallen, he “begat in his likeness, after his image.” It was in his own likeness, not God's; and it was not Cain but Seth that is said to be “after his image.” Adam was represented by Seth, though he could not be said to be begotten after Elohim's likeness but Adam's. Yet it still remains true that man, even though fallen, is the image and glory of God (1 Cor. 11:7). Hence the guilt of murder demanded death, for it was the extinction of what represented God on earth, even when man was no longer after His likeness (Gen. 9:6). The comparison of our verse 1 makes it all the plainer: “in the likeness of God made He him” (Adam). The “image” of God was the emphatic point in Gen. 1:27, and even in 26 takes precedence, however important the “likeness” which sin destroyed for Seth, whom Adam “begat in his likeness, after his image.” The race is fallen.
What progeny Adam had during this early time we are not told, but simply that his “days after he begat Seth were eight hundred; and he begat sons and daughters.” How little is said of the line of faith, especially if we compare the striking picture which the preceding chapter furnishes of the world's rapid progress in all that life which nature deems worth living!
“And all the days which Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died” (ver. 5). There is not the slightest sound reason to doubt the longevity here attributed to antediluvian man. Man was made to live, not to die; his death came in through sin. The truth of life will appear when the Second man takes the world-kingdom (Rev. 11). Those who live righteously when He reigns shall continue through the thousand years, none dying save under curse for rebellion; and the righteous, as scriptural principles imply, are at last changed, without passing through death, into everlasting in-corruption; as Christians are entitled to expect who are alive and are left to the coming of the Lord, before His displayed kingdom begins (1 Thess. 4., 1 Cor. 15.). Lengthened as the span of years may seem, compared with the measure which the prayer of Moses (Psa. 90) lays down as the ordinary rule of human life, they were but “days” of Adam or any other here recorded. After Adam they were begotten, and they begot; they lived and they died. This sums up the history of most; but of this more when we review the account of others, as well as the exceptions.

Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 2

GOD numbered His people as His host early in the second year of their leaving Egypt for the wilderness (Num. 1.); He numbered them again after the plague in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho: the same tribes, but not a man the same save Caleb and Joshua.
David numbered the people in the pride of his heart as if they were his, not Jehovah's; and he paid dearly for the wrong in the loss of many thousands of his warriors.
Nevertheless is it not a precious truth that God takes pleasure in letting His people know that they are everyone prized of Him? A sad change had come through Israel's and through Judah's sin, and not least through the sin of David's house; and sin, though it give occasion to His grace, cannot be without man's humiliation; while faith takes account of both. But God waits ever to bless and give the proof and sense of His blessing to His own; as we see even in the numbering of the returned from Babylon.
“And these [are] the sons of the province, that went up out of the captivity of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and that returned unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city; who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah” (vers. 1, 2).
Ah! the humbling fact: “the sons of the province, that went up out of the captivity!” Pride easily forgets and conceals; faith, cleared and cheered by grace, can afford in the darkest day to own the truth that, however Israel may change, Jehovah changes not: therefore are the sons of Jacob not consumed. Well may His own be ashamed of themselves: in Him alone do they glory and of His grace toward them. Yet were they subjected to the Gentile powers as Christ Himself urged on their unruly spirits. His first advent did not alter that; for they were sinful and unbelieving; and deeper purposes were to be accomplished by Messiah's rejection in which Jew and Gentile played their guilty parts. So the first named is not the High priest, but the heir without the throne of David.
After the chiefs come the rest. “The number of the men of the people of Israel: the children of Parosh, two thousand a hundred and seventy and two. The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two. The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five. The children of Pahath-moab, of the children of Jeshua [and] Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve. The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five. The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore. The children of Bani, six hundred forty and five. The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three. The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two. The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six. The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six. The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four. The children of Ater, of Flezekiah, ninety and eight. The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three. The children of Jorah, a hundred and twelve. The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three. The children of Gibbar, ninety and five. The children of Bethlehem, a hundred twenty and three. The men of Netophah, fifty and six. The men of Anathoth, a hundred twenty and eight. The children of Azmaveth, forty and two. The children of Kiriath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three. The children of Rarnah and Geba, six hundred twenty and one. The men of Michmas, a hundred twenty and two. The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three. The children of Nebo, fifty and two. The children of Magbish, a hundred fifty and six. The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. The children of fiarim, three hundred and twenty. The children of Lod, Hadid, and One, seven hundred twenty and five. The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five. The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty” (vers. 3-35).
Thus we see that the remnant are vigilant to stand simple and clear as sons of the covenant. Genealogy according to the flesh in the line of promise was as momentous to them, as to be born of God to the Christian. Never had there been such jealous care necessary; and this where it was most requisite —in the priests, as we shall see. But it was true of the people: none but Israelites can be allowed to build a temple to the God of Israel.
The ruin of the church in no way destroys its divine principles. On the contrary, scripture in view of it insists on greater care in cleaving to the word. Not only must the wicked person be put out, but we must purge ourselves from vessels to dishonor, in order to be meet for the Master's use, prepared, unto every good work. In earlier days when reproach and suffering kept out false professors in general, such decision was not called for; but the apostle enjoined, before he departed, a duty still more clearly and commonly imperative afterward. For we are bound truly and at all cost to do the will of the Lord, as we are left above all to seek His glory in obedience to His word.
So with the remnant. The Babylonish captivity had completed the confusion which sin had caused long before. But those who feared the Lord were the more careful in a way which was not needed in the days when all had been known and regular. Restoration is habitually difficult; but true grace is subject to scripture, as flesh ever craves what we have not got, despising what we have, and essaying imitations, substitutes, and inventions of its own. These faith utterly refuses, but has to hear the charge of disorder from the very people who are guilty of it.
Next, we have the numbers of the priests, Levites, singers, door-keepers, with the summed up Nethinim and sons of Solomon's servants. “The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three. The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two. The children of Pashlmr, a thousand two hundred forty and seven. The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen. The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four. The singers: the children of Asaph, a hundred twenty and eight. The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, children of Shobai, in all a hundred thirty and nine. The Nethinim: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabboath; the children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon; the children of Lebanah, the children of Flagabah, the children of Akkub; the children of Hagab, the children of Shamlai, the children of Hunan; the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah; the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam; the children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai; the children of Asnah, the children of Meunirn, the children of Nephisim; the children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur; the children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha; the children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Ternah; the children of Neziab, the children of Hatipha. The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Hassophereth, the children of Peruda; the children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel; the children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the children of Ami. All the Nethinim, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety and two” (vers. 36-58).
Observe by the way how many were the priests, and how few the Levites, comparatively. Before the captivity the Levites had shone in comparison. The priests had profited by the lath trial and God's intervention. But there is a weighty supplement. “And these were they which went up from Telmelab, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not show their fathers' houses, and their seed, whether they were of Israel: the children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two. And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Hakkoz, the children of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name. These sought their register [among] those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they deemed polluted and put from the priesthood. And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim” (vers. 59-63).
How striking and instructive! A day of weakness demands care not to exceed our measure! Power only can clear up dead-locks. Some failed to prove their title, and were discredited. One notable case was through alliance with worldly greatness outside. But, whatever the cause, not to show, the father's house was fatal! They might really be priests; but if their title could not be found, they were, as polluted, put from the priesthood. So the governor ruled, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim. This, Israel after the flesh has never had since, and least of all when they refused the Lord Jesus. It will not be so always. They shall look unto Him Whom they pierced; and then shall there be pardon and peace, power and blessing.
Next follows a summary, including many counted (64-67). “The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore, besides their menservants and their maidservants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred singing men and singing women. Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five.” For even their beasts are enumerated. How ignorant man is of God! How good for His people who may learn from His word, His interest both in themselves and in all that belongs to them! Be it that their estate is low, His notice is all the more impressive. Is this the manner of man, Lord Jehovah?
The chapter closes, it will be seen, with a record of generous dealing out of humble means, and their general position in the land. “And some of the heads of fathers' [houses], when they came to the house of Jehovah which is in Jerusalem, offered willingly for the house of God to set it up in its place; they gave after their ability into the treasury of the work threescore and one thousand darics of gold, and five thousand pounds of silver, and one hundred priests' garments. So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and, the Nethinim, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities” (vers. 68-70).

Song of Solomon 2:3-17

It will be noticed that the bride speaks a great deal of the Beloved to others, while He speaks rather of her to herself. This is thoroughly according to her need of re-assurance, and to the truth of things, when we know that Christ is the One really intended by the Spirit; for He is above all need of the creature and by His love creates love. That He loves her she needs to know; and on this He dwells most fully. Others may learn it from the fact that His love is set upon her: she relieves her heart by setting forth His beauty and excellence to others.
“As the citron among the trees of the wood,
So is my beloved among the sons.
In his shadow I delighted and sat down,
And his fruit [is] sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the house of wine,
And his banner over me [is] love.
Stay ye me with raisin-cakes,
Refresh me with citrons;
For I am sick of love.
His left hand [is] under my head,
And his right hand doth embrace me.
I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles and by the hinds of the field,
That ye stir not up, nor awake [my] love, Until he please.
The voice of my beloved I behold he cometh,
Leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart.
Behold, he standeth behind our wall,
He looketh in through the windows,
He glanceth through the lattice.
My beloved spake and said unto me,
Rise up, my fair one, and come away.
For, behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over, it is gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing is come,
And the voice of the thrush is heard in our land;
The fig tree melloweth her winter figs,
And the vines in bloom give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
My dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the covert of the precipice,
Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice;
For sweet [is] thy voice, and thy countenance comely.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards:
For our vineyards are in bloom.
My beloved [is] mine, and I his;
He feedeth [his flock] among the lilies.
Until the day dawn, and the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved: be thou like a gazelle, or a young hart,
Upon the mountains of Bether” (vers. 3-17).
Christ is described under the figure of the citron, the true bearer of fruit. Under His shadow she had rapture and sat down, and His fruit was sweet to her taste. Moses did not avail Israel though faithful as a servant. Nor did the first covenant meet the need, but provoked transgressions, and brought forth death and ruin. Christ is the spring of all good. Yet even at this early point the bride feels that the bright time is coming. It is evident that in the Song of Solomon is the revelation of the mutual affection between Messiah and the Israel of God, such as is found nowhere else. And this will be the sweeter to the people of God when brought by the Holy Spirit to judge their whilom truant affections; for Israel had gone after many lovers in the past: see Jer. 3., Ezek. 16., Hos. 1:2. 3. But her restoration to Messiah in the discovery of His faithful love, notwithstanding her shameless infidelity to such a lover, will be all the deeper; and this book supplies the needed expression of it all on both sides: so gracious is God, so complete His word, Who knew all from the beginning and reveals fully what will be realized only at the consummation of the age.
The psalms of David are rich indeed, but they reveal the rejection and the sufferings of the Messiah, no doubt in infinite grace, and the people's wickedness, sins, unbelief, and need generally, rather than the mutual love expressed in the Song of Songs. Still less do the Law and the Prophets show this forth as here. Yet Zeph. 3:17 is a beautiful word that illustrates, as far as it goes, the bearing of Song of Solomon Sympathy in sorrow predominates in the Psalms. Everything in the scripture is perfect in people, place, and season. And those taught of God find Christ to their everlasting profit and joy everywhere, save in such an unfolding as Ecclesiastes (the remarkable writing by the same hand which indited Canticles), the nothingness and misery of all where Christ is not, spite of the utmost round of passing pleasures and pursuits with the largest means and power of enjoying them. That the style necessarily differs immensely goes without saying: none but a simpleton or a malignant would expect, or if able, execute, otherwise. Yet in all these inspired books, however profoundly instructive to the Christian, the Jewish people are those immediately and primarily in view, not the church of the firstborn ones, not the saints blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ as we are now.
After the introductory sketch of chap. 1., the godly Jewish remnant are here shown as going through the spiritual process to make Messiah's love appreciated and fruitful. And the charge in ver. 7 should be compared with a similar one in chap. 3:5, and in chap. 8:4. In each case the coming of Messiah follows suitably to the advancing action of the book. The bride anticipates it by faith; for He is not yet come, however warm the language that realizes its blessedness. Jehovah shall arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come, though the Psalmist alone could suitably add that His servants take pleasure in her stones and favor the dust thereof. It is here His voice that is heard, as He comes leaping on the mountains, skipping on the hills. What He spoke and said reached the ear, the heart, of the bride (vers. 13, 14), where we next hear of “our” vineyards (ver. 15): compare chap. ii. 6-11. The first expression of conscious relationship follows (ver. 16). Progress is clear, when we compare what appears afterward. It is rather Himself and His love to her that comes out on this mention of His coming. We shall see more on each fresh occasion; but here His fullness of power, the suitability of the time and circumstances, and the welcome sound of His love to her, have their due place.

The Seal of God's Foundation

2 Tim. 2:19
GOD'S servant is called to strive diligently to present himself approved to God, a workman that has not to be ashamed, cutting in a straight line (as a mere man can never do) the word of truth. And this the more, because profane babblings prevail and must be shunned, as they surely advance to greater impiety and will not scruple to overthrow the surest truth and brightest hope. But His firm foundation stands, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth those that are His, and, Let every one that nameth the Lord's name stand off from un-righteousness.” He in sovereign goodness and faithfulness knows His own and fails not: such is His side of the medal. Let every professor of His name withdraw from iniquity: such is our inalienable responsibility. Certainly this ought not to fail in those born of God, and redeemed by Christ, to who'll God gave a Spirit not of cowardice, but of power and love and sobriety of mind.
The Holy Ghost discerned and announced then, even in apostolic days, the dismal change from early separateness to God in faith, love, and purity. Those bearing the Lord's name could be compared before Paul departed to a great house with its vessels, not only of gold and silver, but also wooden and earthen, and some to honor, as others to dishonor. The consequence of a phase so opposed to God's pleasure and Nature is the appeal to individual “If a man therefore purge himself from these (i.e., the vessels unto dishonor), he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the Master's use,' prepared unto every good work.” In earlier days, when a person within became “wicked,” the word of God was, as it still is, Purge out the old leaven; put away the wicked man from among yourselves. Now that vessels to dishonor are tolerated within, he that hears God's word and is by grace resolved to do his will must purge himself from among them.
Originally the Christian came out from among the idolatrous Gentiles (or the Christ-rejecting Jews), and was separate to the Lord with all that were His (2 Cor. 6.) The same principle applies when this new disgrace befell His name—vessels to dishonor bearing it without shame on their part, or conscience on the part of the rest to put them away. It is not a question of leaving the house, even when become so great and mixed, but of leaving the unmistakable evil. If one cannot purge it out, one may and ought to purge oneself out: for how cease to do evil, unless one remove oneself from acquiescence in it? God is not pleased, nor mocked with words belied by facts. Am I not bound to cease from an evil communion, aggravated by a merely verbal protest which proves my conscience bad? Am I to walk with those manifestly evil men that bear the Lord's name? Refusal or even powerlessness to judge evil is faithlessness to the Lord, and the mother of all corruption. The call is the reverse of leaving the professing church; it is correcting in oneself all complicity with what the Lord hates. One cannot leave the house, whatever its state, without abandoning the Lord's name. But if I bear that name with conscience toward God, I am bound solemnly to clear myself from unrighteousness. Separation from, or avoidance of, a sect is a Christian duty, instead of quitting the church or even Christendom so-called. On the contrary he who refuses to be of a sect, or to go along with corruption on the plea of unity, is alone walking in the house agreeably to its Master.

Hebrews 11:4-7

None should be surprised that God's creating should be an object of faith. For as creation brings in the activity of God, so the denial of it, which is the danger of modern speculation, excludes God, and exposes souls to the debasing delusion of materialism. But creation is not all, though it supposes God and, as we are here told, the word of God, without which all is uncertain reasoning. By faith we understand not only that God created the world, but that the worlds have been framed by the word of God. His word therefore reveals the power of that word. This is much, but not all, for man is fallen, a sinner departed from God. He needs a Saviour, and a Saviour by sacrifice, that he may be brought to God. This accordingly is the next truth presented to us.
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness to (over) his gifts, and by it he, being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 4:4).
No need is deeper than this. Abel felt the truth of it by faith, having weighed the testimony of God to a coming Saviour as well as the solemn effect that His parents, our parents, having rebelled against God, had brought in for themselves and their posterity. There is no way out of sin to God, except through sacrifice. But the only sacrifice that could efficaciously deal with sin before God was that of Christ. For Him therefore all saints waited in faith and had witness borne to them. Meanwhile Abel offered by faith a sacrifice in witness of death for sin, the confession of his own guilt, the confession of the grace of God that would righteously deliver from guilt.
Cain had no sense of this an unrepentant, unbelieving, unconverted man, who brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah. “Of the fruit of the ground!” What could this avail for sinful man? “Cursed is the ground for thy sake” had the LORD God said; thence forward it should bring forth to man thorns and thistles, but no salvation. Of the ground was man taken, for dust he is, and unto dust he shall return. But the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit, the Second man is of heaven; He only could avail for fallen man. Alas! Cain looked not to Him but to himself, as natural men do and perish. Believing Abel looked for the woman's Seed to bruise the serpent's head, and “by faith offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous.”
There is no righteousness without repentance and there is no repentance without faith. Abel had both; and, as he looked for the Saviour in due time, he meanwhile offered his sacrifice by faith. Thereby the best confessed himself a sinner; therein God saw the witness of the sacrifice in Christ, and bore witness to his gifts. It was a serious thing for the soul of Abel, and God appreciated the gifts that attested the truth of both God and man: of man acknowledging his sin; of God about to send the Son of Man the Conqueror of Satan. “And through it he being dead yet speaketh,” and who that believes and heard his voice, has not profited by it? God Himself heard that voice from the ground, though he had died, and to every believer it never ceases to speak. Even if Adam had been after the fall a believer, his voice is not heard; he had brought in sin and death for all men. But Abel died for his faith, as the witness of righteousness in all the power of sacrifice and of its meaning in the word of God; and by it, he though dead, yet speaks.
But as faith does not always assume the same shape, although it be the same divine principle working in man by the Spirit of God, so in the next witness we see the power of life, not the man of death. Both are true in Christ, in Whom alone they appear in their fullest character, but believers enjoy according to the measure of their faith. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God translated him; for before the translation he hath had witness borne to him, that he had pleased God; and without faith it is impossible to please [Him], for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and is a rewarder of those that seek Him out” (Heb. 11:5-6). To the same Messiah Enoch looked. There is no ground to suppose that he did not see death written on all, and sacrificial death the only way of deliverance, as Abel did. He knew as his predecessor that the woman's Seed must be bruised; but he knew also and felt assured that He would bruise the serpent's head. He saw life triumphant over him that had the power of death; in that faith he walked, and was well-pleasing to God. And his close on earth was accordingly, not by death like Abel, but by a power of life peculiar to himself. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found because God had translated him.”
We may therefore say that to him it was according to his faith, the witness to that truth a little before the deluge, as was Elijah long after it. Both lived in the times of great and growing wickedness; both were prophets of judgment that should not slumber; both were translated on high without death, in witness of the great translation which will be the portion of all the living saints that remain, when the Lord Himself shall descend for them from heaven, and they shall be caught up together with the dead saints raised to meet the Lord in the air. Enoch testifies of the change that awaits Christ's coming, the mystery shown us in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
The Holy Ghost comments on this well-pleasing walk of faith as concerning every believer, and possible only to faith—faith day by day in our walk with God, faith receiving that He is, and becomes a rewarder to those that search Him out.
The next case attests rather God's government of the world, than the heavenly grace displayed in Enoch. “By faith Noah, warned concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is according to faith” (Heb. 11:7). Enoch had warned others, himself caught up to heaven, before the deluge came and took away all save those in the ark. Noah had an oracular warning about things not yet seen, was himself warned and moved with godly fear. So the godly Jewish remnant will be at the end of the age, who pass through that solemn time of divine judgment, and emerge to inherit the earth as well as righteousness according to faith, for lack of which the world was condemned. It would have been Noah's ruin, as it was theirs, not to have believed the prophecy till it was accomplished; and so it will be with the world again in a day that hastens.
Any Christian can see that the faith of Enoch is of an evidently elevating character, and aptly finds its answer in our awaiting the Son of God from heaven to take us there; as the godly Jewish remnant corresponds to Noah, looking by-and-by for deliverance through judgment. But we have surely to share his faith also in testifying of that day and the world's doom, a revealed element of separating power. However offensive to the false hopes of men, we are the more bound to proclaim the approaching judgment of the quick, as Noah did. The wise and prudent may mock; but faith owes it to God to be outspoken, and love to man should add vigor to the warning, now in particular that we perceive children of God blinded as to the revealed future by unhallowed commerce with the world and the influence of its philosophic incredulity. For men willfully forget what God has already done in judging the race, and the Saviour's solemn warning that so it is to be again shortly when He is revealed suddenly and unexpectedly as Son of Man.

The Trial of Faith: Part 2

Gen. 22, Heb. 11
The lesson (Gen. 22.) begins with an announcement that prepares us for something extraordinary. God, Who had shown such mercy and forbearance hitherto, now appears to try Abraham. “And God did tempt Abraham, and said, Take now thy son, thine only son whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and offer him for a burnt offering,” &c. Tempt may be now limited to solicitation to evil (James 1:13), but the meaning here is try or prove. Try if the earthen vessel will let faith have its perfect work. God tested the man to whom He gives faith. And at the end of Abraham's trial Jehovah said, “Now I know that thou fearest God,” &c. (ver. 12). It was not that He did not know from the beginning; but the proof of it was now given and recorded for strengthening believers who partake of like precious faith. Scripture gives a sample of it (shall we say?)—a sample of its obedience, of its confidence, and dependence, yea, its endurance of fire and trust in God, of which no brighter example is found in the word of God.
Thus obedience in faith is seen at the first. The divine command is given; and early in the morning Abraham sets out toward the mountain indicated and has the full scene before his mind. Quite inexplicable was this command, most painful to him unless he was stoically indifferent; but that he was not is proved by his desire to have a son (Gen. 15:2, 3), even as his great love is proved by the way in which God points out Isaac, “thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest.” God knew the special love that Abraham had for Isaac, who was a miraculous gift from God; nor could obedience be put to a severer test than to offer up as a sacrifice that son whom he loved. Abraham's obedience proves that what he loved most was given to God. There is no wavering during the three days' journey. Had he been indifferent, he would not have shown obedience but hardness of heart. But his obedience was manifest; he answers immediately to God's call and prepares to depart. He rose early in the morning, even slave the wood for the burnt offering, and, without telling Isaac the design of his journey, departed with him and the two young men to the mountain in the land of Moriah. No doubt his affection was tried to the utmost, but there is no wavering. And it was not only natural affection that might rebel against what would appear a strange command, but long before (Gen. 13.) God had pledged His word to bless all the world in Abram generally; and because he believed God, circumstances notwithstanding, had he not been accounted righteous (Rom. 4:19-22). And now Isaac, the only visible link and first of that chain of blessing, which the world is to receive through him, is to be offered up as a sacrifice! Nature might say all would become impossible.
But where would be God's promise? Where would be the righteousness that was reckoned to Abraham for believing it? There would be not only a conflict between the natural feelings of Abraham and the word of God, but a seeming contradiction between the command and the previous promise. Thus there was room for nature to question if his obedience could be right under the circumstances. Did he hear and understand aright the command? Would not the promise that his seed through Isaac should be a countless multitude and dominant in the earth imply that to sacrifice Isaac would be to thwart God's purpose concerning him and the world, and be like abandoning His promise? Did not the natural feelings of a father afford scope for doubt and unbelief, and help the thought that he had misunderstood? Here were three sanctions working with no small effect on Abraham's mind. Natural affection, and in this case a very special affection; secondly, faith which be by no means relinquished and by which he obtained righteousness, with which moreover nature could clearly unite to withstand obedience to the third sanction, viz., the present command of God.
What a device of Satan to bring past truth into apparent collision with present obedience! But with Abraham natural feelings counted as nothing compared with God's unmistakable though inexplicable command; and all that passed through his mind was at once brought into subjection to the word of God. There was in truth but one way in which he could bring together and harmonize the promise and the command, and that way he took, wonderful as it was and unheard of. It was the way of resurrection. Abraham accounted that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead. No such thing had he heard before, that any one should be raised from the dead. He might have heard of Enoch's translation; God could prevent death. But to bring through death was an unknown thing; and now it must be, for the command was irrevocable. If Isaac's birth was miraculous, so would his life be. At all events every doubt and every fear was hushed by his ready obedience in faith. And thus Abraham and Isaac journeyed together till the third day. And when he sees the mountain, his faith does not fail but seems to grow stronger. He bids the young men wait with the ass, while he and the lad go yonder and worship; and his worship was to sacrifice the lad, and to receive him in resurrection, so that it gives a new feature to the original promise. Abraham's seed must still be as the stars innumerable. But death is in the way; only by resurrection can the promise be made good.
How wonderfully the purpose of God for the whole earth is combined with the trial of faith in an individual saint! Indeed we are told by the Holy Spirit that Abraham had the assurance of resurrection, “accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead.” His faith in the previously given promise is not shaken by the present command. Mark the words “worship” and “come again.” It is a seal to the promise, and Abraham worships. Faith removes all difficulties, and the path of the believer shines more and more unto the perfect day. In the quiet command to his servants there is no boasting of his faith: enough for them that he, the father, and the son, will come again; in his bosom the yearning of nature and obedience to God are reconciled by faith. And faith governed Abraham from the time that he was called away from His kindred, not knowing whither he went, only knowing that he was to receive an inheritance.
Nor does Isaac know the object of the journey, for he inquires for the lamb. How it must have awakened afresh the affections of the father, if indeed they ever slumbered, when Isaac innocently asked, “My father, behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb.?” There was an apparent shrinking from telling Isaac that he is the lamb; perhaps a father's feelings led him to evade a direct answer. His faith was between him and God. It was to him, as to the saint in Pergamos (Rev. 2:17) a white stone, upon which was engraven a new name, the new name of resurrection, which no one knew save He Who gave and he who received. All he says is that God will provide a lamb for Himself. Could that lamb be Isaac? But the thought did not turn him from simple obedience. Indeed his obedience in faith shines all through this trial. And when Isaac is bound and laid upon the altar, he makes no resistance, but bows to the command of God. Had Isaac faith in God's raising him up again? Be that unknown, at all events there was submission. It was Abraham's faith that was tried, and it was found to the praise of Him Who gave it, and sustained it all through. Yet with what joy they must have substituted the ram caught by its horns in the thicket! How they must have rejoiced together in “coming again” to the young men! Abraham's faith shone brighter than the purified gold. And how precious to God in the trial was Abraham's endurance of the fire, his obedience, and his confidence in the certainty of the promise! Abraham's joy, after his trial must have been like that spoken of long after by James, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations, knowing that the proof of your faith worketh patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Temptations in this scripture are outward trials. R. B.

The Tempter

Gen. 3:1
IT is to be noticed that, when the enemy assails our first parents, he is left in mysterious obscurity. Yet no believer, no serious mind, can doubt, that under the form of a serpent, Satan was at work to deceive and destroy, whatever the misused ingenuity of unbelief may reason to confuse the unwary and credulous. To the first book of the O.T the last book of the N. T. answers here as elsewhere with singular force, and identifies him from first to last as “the old serpent, that is called Devil (slanderer) and Satan” (the adversary), Rev. 12:9, 20:2. Nor are we left to this symbolic prophecy alone; for the apostle Paul, in 2 Cor. 11:3, had given no uncertain sound about this evil one long before. If the serpent lured man into his lie against God, grace revealed the woman's Seed, bruised indeed yet bruising the head of the enemy, the Deliverer not only of all that believe but of all creation also (Rom. 8). The Second man will surely triumph.
Along with the restless seduction of man into sin, Satan is shown us in the ancient book of Job, and with striking clearness, as the accuser of the saint, in the presence of Jehovah (chaps. 1: 9, 10; 4, 5), with permitted power to afflict and within certain limits even to destroy the body, though not Job's life. But the issue for God and those that are His by faith is in every case his defeat eventually, in no case apart from the grace of the Lord Jesus. For there is found the personal antagonism. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 8). He may thwart God in each object and plan of His, he may traduce the believer, and for a while seem ever so successful; but he is doomed, as also all who trust him against God and His Anointed, to utter defeat and everlasting ruin.
Under the legal system, as God was hidden, so was the enemy. David first brought out into relief the type of His kingdom; and there we first hear of Satan (1 Chron. 21:1). Numbering the people in the pride of a national ruler was abandoning dependence on Jehovah and a denial of his own early faith; and the chastening was seventy thousand men of Israel mowed down by pestilence.
In Psa. 109 we see Judas, the leader of the Christ-rejecting Jews against Jesus. Nor was it only a wicked man set over him, but Satan standing at his right hand: the plain prediction of the traitor's deed under the devil's instigation; as the psalm that follows is of Jehovah's exalting the Holy One to sit at His right hand till the word is given to judge. It is the same opposition, seemingly carrying its evil way, but only accomplishing the good counsels of God in honor of His Son.
Zech. 3. has no other voice, though speaking of Messiah's people. Did not their guilt and defilement give title to Satan against the high priest who represented them? Unquestionably and irremediably, had not Messiah been stricken for the transgressions of the people, and bruised for their iniquities. Righteously therefore can Jehovah that has chosen Jerusalem rebuke Satan, and say, Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Righteously can He cause the iniquity to pass from their representative and clothe him with rich apparel, and set a fair miter on his head.
In the N. T. the Tempter confronts the Son of God, and in ways more consummately subtle and complete to draw Him out of dependence on God. The last three-fold effort is recorded for our instruction and thanksgiving: the natural, the worldly, the religious temptations utterly foiled by Him Who stands obediently in the truth, as Satan did not because there is no truth in him. The strong one, however fully armed, here found One stronger, Who overcame him, and took his panoply and divided his spoils. But again he appeared as the prince of the world; and as he could not mislead the Messiah out of the path of subjection, he drew the world, the Jews most of all guilty, to kill Him in it; yet this was his own suicidal guilt, as Christ's death was the glorifying of God about sin, and the reconciliation of all that believe, and indeed of all creation, save of course those that reject Him.
But the N. T. is no less clear that the devil and his angels, till judgment is executed, are incessant in their efforts to corrupt and destroy, to accuse the saints and to deceive the whole habitable earth. He works through the world and the flesh; but his own special field is through falsehood; and his direct enmity is against the grace, truth, and glory of His destined Conqueror. Hence the demons whom he commands trembled before the Lord Jesus in terror of His casting them into the abyss, or bottomless pit, where Satan is to be bound when Christ comes in His kingdom. Till then Satan acts as a devouring lion or a beguiler in a serpent-like craftiness, fashioning himself into an angel of light or kindling the fires of persecution, where he fails with his lies. Fallen angels there are already consigned to everlasting bonds under gloom for judgment of the great day. These so audaciously broke through God's order before the deluge that He has imprisoned them ever since; and they ought not to be confounded with those that are still allowed for a season to tempt mankind, and have access to the heavenly places as well as the earth till judgment befalls them. For their leader is the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience; as our wrestling if Christians is declared to be against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heaven-lies (or heavenly places). And this conflict will never cease while the church is on earth. But Rev. 12 tells us that they are to be cast out of the heaven, at a day still future, with new and marked consequences for a short time on earth, before the binding in the abyss for a thousand years, followed soon after by casting them into the lake of fire.
O my fellow sinner, heed the voice of the Son of God, that you may receive the remission of your sins and eternal life. He died for sins, and has authority now and on earth to give you remission. In Him was life, and He gives life, His own eternal life, to every one that believes. There is no other way; for He is the way, the truth, and the life. You are a son of disobedience, and by nature a child of wrath. Be not deceived longer by Satan, who cheats into thinking yourself strong and free, whereas you are without strength and his slave already. Christ only can save you; and He is as able as He is willing; and God has His pleasure in it, for He loves the Son and pities you. Satan can easily and will surely keep you to be his companion in punishment, as now his servant in sin. Whosoever believeth on Christ shall not be ashamed.

The Comfort of the Scriptures: 1

IT forms no small portion of the power and preciousness of the holy scriptures, that they afford the only substantial basis for “solid comfort” amid the numerous trying and harassing circumstances from which few, if any, are altogether exempt. Nor is this consolation by any means confined to certain parts of the word; but it may be gathered throughout the whole field of revelation, if only there be patient waiting upon Him Who is the Comforter or Paraclete (John 14:16, 26); whose present office it is to expound the word of truth, and apply its soothing, cheering, and strengthening power to those who would otherwise be orphans indeed, exposed to the cold charity of a heartless world.
In Rom. 15:4 we have a very explicit statement in this connection. “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Here there is a veritable storehouse thrown open to the needy, downcast, and sorrow-stricken soul. For where else but in the scriptures can we see the ways of God with His own? And where but in that blessed Book can we find such a rich and varied store of divinely-chosen examples, giving (as they do) practical exposition to those counsels of comfort which might otherwise seem impracticable and incredible to our weak and dubious minds? Thanks be to Him— “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort"—Who was pleased to give such a full record of His gracious dealings with the sons of men.
The special point in view, in the passage referred to, is the comfort to be experienced amid the trials, incident to those intimate relationships, into which saints are brought socially as well as in the assembly of God. The apostle was exhorting every one of the saints to please his neighbor with a view to that which is good for edification. In support of this he alludes to the historical fact that Christ, the Great Exemplar, pleased not Himself. He further proceeds to point out that this was in accordance with the prophecy of the Psalmist, “The reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon Me” (Psa. 69:9). So ran the prediction, and in due time it was to be seen, in public fulfillment of the scripture, that the life of the Lord Jesus was pre-eminently one of obloquy. And this came about because He was here to represent God, because He came from God, and because He was God manifest in the flesh. In spite, nay because, of the fact that He displayed the fullness of divine grace, man directed upon Him the full measure of the enmity working in his heart against the God of love.
However, the apostle would have us mark that this bitter spirit of animosity against the Messiah of God was plainly foreseen. The principle was placed on record “aforetime,” but only received its perfect fulfillment and exemplification in the life of our Lord Jesus. He it was that bore the burden of unlimited reproach as no other ever did or could. But the sorrow, poignant though it was, did not overwhelm Him; for, the foreshadowing word being hidden in the heart of that Blessed One, it was no matter of surprise to Him that for His love He was rewarded hatred. This may be seen on that occasion, when after a full contemplation of the stubborn unbelief of the highly favored towns of Galilee, the obedient Son thanks His Father because He had concealed “these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes” (Matt. 11.).
Thus did the Lord pass through and emerge from the trials of a repulsed and apparently defeated purpose, serenely confident and triumphant. It was enough for Him, in the hour of His subjection, that such was His Father's will and that so it seemed good in His sight. Inasmuch as He, the perfect and adorable Man, lived by every word proceeding out of the mouth of God, He was prepared for this and for all that befell Him. Nothing could take Him unawares; for His whole life was a strict accomplishment of what was written of old, as the Gospels show without exception. Hence, amid the tireless malevolence of the scribes and Pharisees, the waywardness of the fickle and changeful multitudes, and the perversity of His unsympathizing disciples, He could say, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul” (Psa. 94:19).
But what application has this to us? The very closest; for we are called to follow Christ in the path of self-denial, and to be brought face to face with sorrow in an unwonted degree. Whence then shall we derive our comfort? If we, as here (Rom. 15:4) counseled, emulate the Good Samaritan and seek the good of others, regardless of ourselves, we shall often find it to be, seemingly, a thankless task, and be forced in our measure to echo the apostle's words, “The more I love, the less I be loved.” Where shall we seek encouragement in such a case? We are directed by our good and wise God to the holy scriptures, wherein He has provided for every possible spiritual need of His children at any time and under all circumstances. Even as the Second Man, the Lord from heaven, was maintained in His course of perfect obedience by the knowledge of the revealed will and purpose of God, as contained in the ancient oracles; so the faithful disciple is pointed by the inspiring Spirit to “whatsoever was written aforetime” as the present spring of patience and comfort.
But while the trials particularly in view in this portion are undoubtedly those which attend the workings of divine love in the hearts of brethren one toward another, the passage is of the most general application, and assures of the encouragement the scriptures render under the most varied circumstances. It is not intended, however, on this occasion, to refer to the consoling truths themselves which abound on every page of holy writ; but, while mentioning two of, perhaps, the most general methods by which comfort is administered, to point out that the effect of the rationalism, so prevalent in our day, is to destroy the very source whence such comfort emanates. Both from the examples and from the precepts of scripture, the saints of God may gather unbounded solace; and against both the enemy directs his malignant attacks.
As when king David sent servants to Hanun, king of Ammon, to comfort him for the death of his father, the Ammonitish king mocked and despised him for his commiseration, taking the servants, shaving off half their beards and cutting off their garments in the middle and sending them back as tokens of his savage contempt for the interference of the king of Israel (2 Sam. 10.); even so does modern unbelief, instead of receiving the scriptures as divine messengers of consolation, mock and set them at naught, treating their history, on the one hand, as fable and myth, and their teaching, on the other hand, as the exploded opinions which passed current in a barbaric age. Let such freethinkers fear Him Who is able to work upon them a worse fate than did David upon the children of Ammon.
In the first case, then, of all the scriptural biographies none is, or could be, so replete with inspiriting facts as the fourfold one of the Lord Jesus. According to the prophecies given by holy men of old, He was to be the Consoler of Israel (Isa. 40:1, 61:2; Luke 2:25), and indeed not of that nation only, but of all the children of God wherever scattered. If not yet fulfilled in the full degree of millennial blessedness, even now the perfection of the gracious ways of the Master affords an inexhaustible fund, whence the disciple who seeks to follow His steps may derive abundant power of endurance. Hence we are exhorted to run the race of faith with steadfast eyes, abstracted from temporal and inferior objects, and directed to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith.
And to meet those who might found a captious objection upon the very sinlessness of Jesus, the scripture provides us with biographic sketches of men of like passions to ourselves; so that, while in the life of our Lord we have what should be done, in the lives of the saints we have what has been and may be done. Now the Epistle to the Hebrews (chap. 11) shows that the historical portions of the Old Testament, no less than of the New, largely contribute to this end. There the eventual triumph and reward of faith is, for our encouragement amid trial and conflict, illustrated by a series of divinely selected examples, commencing hard by the very gate of Paradise from whence our first parents issued in sinful disgrace. This “cloud of witnesses” is seen to be always confident, ever maintaining an unbroken trust in God, in spite of the most adverse circumstances. But how is it possible to glean consolation from these alleged facts if they have no more historical basis than the exploits of Thor, the labors of Hercules, or the wanderings of Ulysses? If the godly walk of Enoch, and the self-renunciation of Moses are but legendary tales handed down from prehistoric days, of what influence can they be upon a life, shadowed by disappointment and apparent failure? Is it not simple mockery to refer a sorely afflicted soul to a “poetic fiction,” for support in the midst of the overwhelming trials of bereavement? But we know, when we ask our Father in heaven for sufficient bread, He will not mock us with a stone? For we are assured that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
(To be continued, D.V.).

Scripture Sketches: John Mark

14.-JOHN MARK.
THERE was some controversy lately over a document purporting to be the “Gospel according to Peter.” I do not know of any tangible evidence whatever of its authenticity. The real Gospel of Peter is that which stands in our bibles entitled “Mark “: at least that view was generally accepted in the primitive church on the authority of such men as John the Presbyter (recorded by Papias), humus and others, who regarded the Gospel by Mark as having been dictated and accredited by Peter the apostle, which fact gave it its (external) claim to be regarded as inspired scripture. Apart from the historical evidences of this is the fact that where anything discreditable to Peter is referred to, as in the case of his denial of Christ, the particulars of his failures are given by Mark, with much detail and no excuse: but anything creditable to Peter is passed over, as for instance, in John it is said that Peter drew his sword in Gethsemane, in defense of his master and smote with it one of the attacking party. This (though perhaps little to the credit of Peter's discretion and spiritual perception) was certainly an evidence of courage and devotion in such a time of general dismay. Therefore in Mark where the event is recorded, Peter's name is not given; he simply says, “one of them that stood by"... I confess these “evidences” might be of little weight in regard to the generality of writers in an advertising age; but the apostles and primitive Christians were characterized by this kind of humility as to their own deeds no less than of gracious appreciation of the deeds of others. We have already noticed some instances of this, and such may be found throughout the New Testament.
Evidence which would be much too weak to establish a theory is often strong enough to support a conviction. Did not Democritus when he saw Protagoras binding up fagots (and “thrusting the small twigs inwards”) instantly judge him to be a scholar and philosopher? Could not the great Cuvier build up the whole form of an old-world animal from the mere sight of one of its teeth? Not to say but that the little Cuviers can build up a new-world cosmogony on even less evidence than that.
Here is another conviction of which there is even less proof, yet after holding it for many years, I find that others have also held it. It is that the young man who followed the Lord at a distance, on the night of His betrayal, was John Mark himself, The soldiers, seeing him, snatched at his linen cloth. the only garment he had on him. “He left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” Only Mark records this, and I say that some think it was Mark himself who thus fled. But however that may be, I always think there is no other subordinate incident which gives such a graphic suggestion of the dismay and horror which fell upon the disciples of Christ on that terrible night.
The name Mark (Marcus) was merely a common Roman prænomen, like Caius or Publius; his Jewish name was John, and he was the nephew of Barnabas, and the son of that Mary at whose house the prayer-meetings were held—a house of such gracious Christian hospitality that it was thither Peter first turned his steps when escaped from prison. This seemed to promise well. “La pridestination de l'enfant,” says Lamartine, “c'est la maison oit it est MI..” Not quite so, perhaps, but still we read, “Hezekiah...his mother's name was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord “; “Amaziah the son of Joash...his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem, and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” Of a truth John Mark started from a good home. He was converted through Peter who seemed to enjoy a special welcome in the house. I wonder who that damsel Rhoda was who could not open the gate for gladness when she heard Peter's voice without, possibly Mark's sister: and at the very outset of his Christian course, Barnabas and Paul took him with them on their missionary travels. He was Barnabas's relation and his cousin, the bishop, thought himself justified in bestowing his patronage on such a promising young “curate.” Thus early did nepotism enter the church: simony had already knocked at the door by the hand of Simon Magus, but had not yet been admitted.
This piece of patronage was not eminently successful. The “living” was poor; the income extremely precarious; probably they received more blows than shekels at any time. The two older men were more seasoned, and did not much mind; but the youth was discouraged. He anticipated the advice of the old French diplomatist who broke his own injunction against the use of “superlatives” that he might enforce this axiom, “Surtout, pas trop de zele.” John Mark had as yet only that light idea of the responsibility of Christian service which unfortunately is so common: he thought he could take up and put down God's work as he liked, and he left the two leaders to go on with the work by themselves whilst he went off home again.
Then we lose sight of him for six or seven years, which for all we know may have been so much lost time: and after that he becomes the passive cause of an exceedingly unfortunate dispute. Paul and Barnabas—Paul is now taking the lead—arrange a further mission and Barnabas “determines” to take his nephew again with them, whilst Paul “thought not good” to take one who had already deserted his post. This gave rise to “so sharp” “a contention” that the two veterans separate; and Paul goes on with his purposed work, whilst Barnabas takes Mark and goes to Cyprus (his home); and again years elapse before we hear anything further of him.
Here again, Mark was seriously to blame, for if he had said that he would not go under any circumstances when he saw the chief apostle objected to taking him, and saw that the matter caused strife, Barnabas could not have prolonged the dispute. However much we may be consoled by the thought that good was brought out of the evil, the quarrel between the two leaders remains an immense calamity.
Most of us would perhaps have thought it best to leave Mark alone after that; and it comes as quite a surprise that we subsequently find him doing important work in the assemblies, favorably mentioned in some scattered texts, and finally charged with the high honor of writing one of the four Gospels. Not only does Peter (who was his god-father, if I may use that term) take him in hand with that affectionate care which we should expect from one of his nature, but Paul, who had such a disparaging judgment of him in former times, is able to recognize and acknowledge the value of Mark's subsequent services. He mentions him as being one of his five fellow-workers, who were “a comfort to him “ in Rome about A.D. 64, and two years subsequently, in his last letter to Timothy, he tells him to “Take Mark, and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to one for the ministry.”
This is truly a most delightful verse: the strong-souled, magnanimous apostle accepting and requesting the services of this one whom he had formerly condemned, and going out of his way to acknowledge and praise him, lest anything which he had then said, and said justly, should attach a stigma to one who had now become a devoted and honorable fellow-servant. And on the other hand we see that Mark is so far from remembering Paul's hard words with any resentment, that he counts it a favor to minister to him and with him. And above all we see that ours is not a hard Master. He doth not cast off forever. If we, like Mark, have failed and failed grievously in the past, there may yet be opportunity in the present and future for us, like him, to hope, to dare, to accomplish great services, and to “Let the dead past bury its dead.”

Revelation 22

We find a great difference between this chapter and the chapter preceding it, and all the rest of the book which presents but scenes of judgment throughout. Before is woe, woe, woe, and the white throne set for eternal judgment. But in these closing chapters there is no question of judgment at all, only a sphere of bliss wherein God is dwelling. All is blessing and glory, though not the name of Father. God and the Lamb is the light of the holy city; no temple is wanted there: it would hide His glory. The Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are thereof the temple. Everything is in connection with blessing, save the profane, the idolatrous, and the lie. The figures are drawn from all parts of scripture to describe the full blessings there. There we have the place of the church, the bride, the Lamb's wife, coming down as a city out of heaven from God. How opposite to judgment! The glory of God fills it all: He dwells where the bride the Lamb's wife is. See its entire distinctness of character as the place where all blessings are gathered in, to show the church in contrast with judgment. There no evil shall enter in; there the water of life proceeds out of God's throne; there the tree of life, its leaves healing for the nations on earth, if the fruits are for those on high.
The Lamb is He Whom we have known; and He is for us the lamp of it, lighting up the whole place with His glory. Every month is continual enjoyment of the full ripened fruit of grace. It is not as on earth the judging of man's work, but the perfecting of God's—the rest of God: so satisfying to Himself that He can dwell there. All is there that His heart could wish to bring out and secure a blessing and glory. Now He says, “I have made you as happy as I would have you.” God rests where His rest can never be spoiled. Paradise was a rest on earth, but not a safe one, for it hung on man's responsibility who failed forthwith. God brings us to the knowledge of this, now that our rest is to be on high—our relationship with God. Down here is our pilgrimage, discipline, and warfare; but our hearts should be filled with His love. We may rest with God in Spirit. Resting on God's own work is the beginning of activity in the service of God. Our hopes and expectations are founded on the knowledge of what we are brought into in Christ. We can look to the coming of the Lord Jesus without fear.
Turning to Rev. 1:5, 6, we find the condition of individual souls, just as much settled before all the judgments as at the end. In speaking to the Seven Churches, remark the place given to saints in view of all these judgments. Again, in chapter 4. when God's judicial throne is set, the elders or glorified saints are seated on thrones. They are associate with Him in knowing what God will then do. They have nothing to do with being judged. They are at rest personally, whilst providential judgment will proceed solemnly. But they are all activity whet, worship goes on. Even on earth they can sing as saints in their exalted place with the ascription, “Unto Him that loveth us and washed us” &c, This peacefulness in the presence of judgment shows how absolute the peace of the saints is. Now this is our place as to judgment. Do you believe and enjoy it as from God through Christ our Lord?
See the same in the last chapter. The moment He says, “I am the root and offspring of David, the bright [and] morning star,” the bride says, “Come.” Why so? Because she is the bride, and not afraid of the Bridegroom. How could it be so, if she expected to be judged? Instead of joy there would be terror. Here is entirely another thing. The bride has no notion of judgment as to herself; she is on the ground of looking for her Bridegroom, as washed and reconciled. How can a sinner stand on that ground? None can expect a person to wish for Christ's coming, if afraid of being judged.
Conscience and heart must be at peace first. “You hath He reconciled” (Col. 1.): this is what your soul wants before it. In the first part, whenever “Behold, I come” is presented, it is in the way of warning; but this is not the case with the close. The instant Christ is named, there is no hindrance; and the affections say “Come.” Conscience has nothing at all to object; the worshippers are purged. The heart longs then for the presence of the One so well known, Who set us free and loves us. How can an unbeliever be in such a state? Without a hindrance to the Lord's coming? Impossible. It is entirely a new relationship to the faithful. All things are new, old things passed away. Hesitation is out of place. The word of God and the work of the Savior know no such thing as half-judgment and half-grace. God may be at first plowing up the heart; yet it is in grace, not judgment. He is not going to receive us into His arms with a mixture of grace and of judgment. He may employ the law to break a man all to pieces; but the end of the Lord, first or last, is that He is very pitiful and of tender mercy.
In the unconverted heart there is deadly indifference to God, which in His presence turns to hatred, an indifference to grace, awful to think of in man worshipping God! How like Cain of old! Yet how many are laboring to get through the world without God, and worshipping God once a week Driven out of Paradise, man yet pretends to worship God. Cain just proved his heart to be as hard as the nether millstone: a driven-out sinner bringing the fruits of his own hands before God! Abel was very different. He sacrificed a lamb in faith. Death came in between his sins and God; blood was sprinkled. When Cain was not accepted, his countenance falls; hatred breaks out. It is what we see continually in the world. Then Cain goes out of God's presence to make himself happy without God, establishes his family, and builds a city. Harp and pipe, artificers in brass and iron, come in due time.
An awakened soul has a consciousness that there is a person Who loves and is to be loved. The thought of the father's home was in the prodigal's heart: if he could get there, what happiness! If he cannot take his rags into that house, he can and does get into the father's arms, and what follows? The best robe, the ring, the shoes, the fatted calf. Christ comes as “The Faithful Witness “; does He come to impute sin to me? No! but as the faithful witness of what God is for the sinner. He comes because He is the expression of God's salvation in grace. The grace in God's heart brought Him down.
In the case of the poor woman taken in adultery, does He say, sin is no matter? His enemies then as now were charging on grace the allowance of sin. But no! Christ applies God's light to all; and they cannot stand it. This is what God does.
He is not mingling grace and law. What did the accusers do? They took care of their own character; and everyone went out. If the eye of God rests on any set of sinners, they would all flee from it. And where did her accusers go? They retired, and lost grace and truth in Christ. But Jesus was not going to condemn them either. Grace can meet any and every sin. He, Jesus Christ the Righteous, is the faithful witness that grace is greater than sin.
Take again the case of the poor woman, who washed His feet with her tears. How He takes her part! She understands Who had come into the house. Simon gave Him no water, no kiss, and no oil. Man may murmur as he will and judge: in a sense God does not mind. Christ turns and says, Thy sins are forgiven. This poor sinner learned through the Faithful Witness what God was for her. Cleansing depends on the value of the blood that is shed.
The Christian was dead with Christ to sin: it is all gone before God. And where is my life? In Christ. He is my life, this blessed One, the Son of God Who came down and now sits at His right hand. He has given me an entirely new place and life. Further, He has made me a king and a priest. Why? Because He is both Himself, He has associated me with Himself and comes to take us to be with Himself. He became a man to die for my sins; that, returning a man into glory, He might take us there in spirit even now with Himself. We know Him in heaven as a Savior; and so He will come to change our bodies (Phil. 3.). In the midst of the throne is the Lamb slain for us. Why did He give “Himself” for us? This is a large word. He gave His blood, His life, but, more still, “Himself". What has He kept back? Nothing. I am precious to Him, and this not measured by myself, but precious because of the love of His heart to me. His love is measured by what He is in Himself. I can trust His love because it is divine. Its spring, power, and extent are in the heart of Christ Himself. Everywhere else to speak of self is to blast all thoughts of anything fit for God. But Christ changes all—He so precious, so dear to His heart, as those He gave Himself for. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. If my heart was always and entirely filled with Christ, it would be entirely filled with perfection. His love makes His happiness to be in having us with Himself, as ours is in being with Him. This being so, how can I fear His coming?
The character of “the Morning Star” is for the church. When He comes in judgment, it will be “the sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4.). Everybody sees the sun; but only those watching for it discern the morning star. But He thinks, and would have us think, of others that are perishing. “Let him that is athirst come.” Before He comes, there are poor sinners not reconciled to God, and we know that He gives the water of life. We have got living water, not glory yet, but living water. And we can welcome not only the thirsty soul, but any, “whosoever will,” to our Savior. If you are thirsty, if you are willing, come and drink. I have got the blessing itself, because I have Christ. How He wants to bless poor sinners! As a believer, I am His; but I can turn round from my own joy to the careless world, saying, If you are thirsty, if you are willing, come. It is the personal enjoyment of him who is in Christ, that one can say to a thirsty soul, “Come” (not to me, or the church, but) to Christ. I have got life's water in Him, and can tell where the love is to be found, how the sinner is accepted, living waters from Him flowing freely. The blood of Christ gives the title to every poor sinner to come to God. Alas! rather would the poor world worship like Cain, than know the blessedness of that grace, which bids “whosoever will” to come.
O beloved, what more awful thing in Christendom or the world than an un-reconciled person contented to go on as he is in the presence of the cross of Christ?
J. N. D.

Letter on Christ's Person

In reading the letter signed “C.” in the Bible Treasury, vol. xix. pages 379, 380, I could not help being struck by the subtlety shown in the extract he quotes from the paper to which his letter refers. The sentence quoted reads, “Personally He (Christ) ever was God; but without ceasing to be that, He has taken a place, as the Second Man, and as He is in that position, so shall we be.” Now, it will be noticed that emphasis and stress are laid upon “place” and “position,” the deductions and conclusions are made to rest on them. The simple-minded reader is induced to believe that the personal nature and glory of the Blessed Lord are duly recognized: but on examination of the teaching in question, it will be apparent that the dishonoring statements refer directly and positively to the Person of the Lord. For how can omniscience be predicated of a place? or “having life in Himself” be made to refer to a position? The same question may be asked in reference to omnipotence and omnipresence. What have they to do with position or place? I do not attempt to quote scripture to show how again and again these attributes of divinity are asserted of Him, who is God manifest in the flesh. My object is to draw attention to the sleight and cunning craftiness whereby, under pretense of dealing with the characteristics of “place” and “position,” the direct personal glories of the Lord Jesus are denied. Nor can it the admitted that “the Second Man” is a place. God formed the first man, and put him in the garden He had made. But the man was not the place, nor was the place the man, as was sadly proved when God drove out the man. So the Second Man is gone to prepare a place (the one belonging to the first having been lost) for His own, to which what He is personally and His work give the title and the blessedness. Nor does it appear correct to assert that “as He is in this position, so shall we be.” He is the Head of the body, we are not. He is to be the firstborn among many brethren. In all He is to have the pre-eminence. In virtue of the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. He will sit upon the throne of His glory. All things are to be put under Him. None of these facts can be truly applied to us.
May it not confidently be asserted that all a believer's blessedness and blessing depend absolutely upon the personal glory of the Lord Jesus? and that this wicked attack of the enemy is scarcely more dishonorable to Him than it is destructive to the blessedness of the believer? If He could say, He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye, responsively we can say, He that toucheth the Person of God's Christ touches the fountain of our life. O for fervent love to His adorable Person, so that the slightest reflection upon His glory may awaken a holy jealousy in our hearts, constraining us to cling more devotedly to Him!
Yours in Him,
ADELPHOS.

Dr. Salmon's Historical Introduction to the New Testament: Review

IT is late to notice a work which is already in its sixth edition, the expansion of lectures delivered in the divinity school of the University of Dublin. Renan's Histoire des Origines du Christianisme was then in course of publication; which gave it perhaps a greater place in the lecturer's notice than would have been due a little later. Baur too, notwithstanding his extravagance and the time which has sufficed to make it manifest even to many daringly speculative, seems to have rather too much honor paid him, though it be in the shape of refutation.
There are six and twenty lectures, the first three introductory; (1.) the principles of the investigation, (2.) Baur's theory of early church history, (3.) the Anti-Paulinism of the Apocalypse. The next four are on the reception of the Gospels in the early church. Lectures 8. and 9. discuss the Synoptic Gospels; 10. the original of Matthew; 11. Apocryphal and Heretical Gospels. No less than six are devoted to the Johannine books. Lectures 13. and 19. deal with the Acts, and Apocryphal Acts; only one (20.) with the Pauline Epistles, that to the Hebrews being handled apart in 21. Lecture 22. treats of 1 Peter; 23. of James; 24. of Jude; 25. of 2 Peter; and 26. of non-canonical books.
Some of our readers are familiar with Westcott's elaborate History of the New Testament Canon. Others will prefer the vigorous common sense of Dr. S. in this compact, closely and correctly printed, volume of more than 600 pages (including preface and contents). It is really the genuineness of the several N. T. writings historically defended, and a refutation of the spurious books issued in comparatively early times: both with the known learning and ability of the present Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. For helps in studying those books critically and exegetically, which the Christian reader most values, the latter in particular, he must search elsewhere. Dr. S. here argues all out on a ground which makes irrelevant inspiration itself, with all its holy and grand issues, though believing it.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Sheep and Gentiles

Q. Are “the sheep” in Matt. 25:33 the same as the Gentiles in Rev. 7:17. They are alike out of the nations, but which? Heathen or christened? How then 2 Thess. 2:10-12? G. R.
A. That they are the same objects of mercy in that day is confirmed by the remnant in Matt. 24:15-26, answering to Rev. 14:1-5, and His elect in Matt. 24:31, answering to Rev. 7:1-8. “All the nations” seem from the context to be outside Israel and Christendom (already judged in the previous parts of the Lord's prophecy on the mount). 2 Thess. 2 does not exclude a remnant that love the truth, even when all that reject it perish irremediably.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:6-20

Chap. 5: 6-20.
JOSEPHUS and certain Arabian writers, quoted by Hottinger, allege details of ancient worthies here enumerated; which are not worth repeating, because they are destitute of real authority. The inspired writer all the more impressively gives the same simple outline of these lives so prolonged. Two exceptions occur of most notable character which claim appropriate heed in their places. The general line is all that now comes before us. Divine purpose is the key to both. It explains alike the mention which looks so meager, and the special record in the cases of Enoch and Noah. It accounts for the omission of all particulars in the general genealogy beyond the direct line of the chosen people, and so especially of the Messiah, God's salvation, light for the revelation of the gentiles, and glory of His people Israel. The rest of their progeny, however numerous or distinguished in a human way, are merely merged in “sons and daughters” they begot.
“And Sheth lived a hundred and five years, and begat Enosh. And Sheth lived after he begat Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. And all Sheth's days were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. And Enosh lived ninety years and begat Kenan. And Enosh lived after he begat Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters. And all Enosh's days were nine hundred and five years; and he died. And Kenan lived seventy years and begat Mahalaleel. And Kenan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters. And all Kenan's days were nine hundred and ten years, and he died. And Mahalaleel lived sixty-five years, and begat Jared. And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. And all Mahalaleel's days were eight hundred and ninety-five years; and he died. And Jared lived a hundred and sixty-two years, and begat Enosh. And Jared lived after he begat Enosh eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And all Jared's days were nine hundred and sixty-two years; and he died” (vers. 6-20).
It is in vain for men to decry the longevity of the men before the deluge, and, though diminishing, after it. Oriental and other nations long retained the tradition, however disguised, pointing to the primitive facts. To argue that it is contrary to the known laws of physiology is only the resort of narrow-minded and ignorant unbelief. For God if He pleased could easily by change of conditions reduce man's life from 900 years to 90. It is a question of fact for which His word vouches. Nor is there any need to labor on behalf of the plain statements of scripture; for man unfallen never partook of the tree of life; and, when fallen, he was driven out lest he should. The gradual experience of men since the deluge is of no validity against the immensely greater age of mankind as scripture avers before that great event, whatever the physical or secondary causes may have been before or after, as they are presumptuous who deny it.
We are not in a position to ascertain where God has said so little; but there were reasons we can appreciate why in the early history of mankind their prolonged span of life was of incalculable moment. It was in their high interest that the origin of the race should be attested, as well as of the earth and heavens, and of all creatures in them; still higher was it to hear of the fall and its solemn results; highest of all, to know that He, alike the Creator and in moral relationship with man, had interposed in a way not more righteous than graciously revealing a suffering Deliverer, the woman's Seed, to destroy the enemy: the victory of good over evil for all who believe as well as creation. What can be conceived of such great weight for God and man as to convey aright this pregnant revelation of grace, and to those so immediately concerned as the fallen race, or at least such as had ears to hear? And how was a revelation as yet oral to reach the family of Adam effectually save by the longevity which characterized that early day?
Hottinger, allege details of the ancient worthies here enumerated; which are not worth repeating, because they are destitute of real authority. The inspired writer all the more impressively gives the same simple outline of these lives so prolonged. Two exceptions occur of most notable character which claim appropriate heed in their places. The general line is all that now comes before us. Divine purpose is the key to both. It explains alike the mention which looks so meager, and the special record in the cases of Enoch and Noah. It accounts for the omission of all particulars in the general genealogy beyond the direct line of the chosen people, and so especially of the Messiah, God's salvation, light for revelation of Gentiles, and glory of His people Israel. The rest of their progeny, however numerous or distinguished in a human way, are merely merged in “sons and daughters” they begot.
For Methuselah lived to tell Shem what Adam communicated from God Himself, and Shem lived to repeat all to Abraham and Isaac: facts and prospects briefly expressed, of plain meaning, and profoundly important.
Then again one can understand how favorable the lengthened span of life in those days was to carrying out God's word in blessing the first pair, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over fish of the sea, and over bird of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Thus not only is the fact unquestionable for all, that respect revelation, but the wisdom, not to say necessity, of that exceptional condition, is pretty apparent.
The fact is, so far from the truth are those who judge solely from present experience, that man was naturally made at the outset to live. Death was sin's wages, not then a physiological necessity. God had provided the means for prolonging his life if obedient; but deprived him of that means peremptorily when fallen. For what greater misery, or moral anomaly, than an everlasting life of sin? Death therefore is in no way a debt of nature but of sin; and here we read its knell for each even of those who stood aloof from the evil way of Cain, the ancestors not of Israel only but in due time of the Messiah. Of Adam, so of Seth, Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jared, it was alike said “he died.” Now that man is a sinner, it is the one event that happens to all in the seen world; in the unseen there will be another still more solemn. “For it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
How sad, were this all! Not so however; it is only the first man. “But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, first-fruits of them that are asleep. For since by man [is] death, by man also resurrection of dead persons.” He that had the power of death, that is the devil, is brought to naught through the death of Him Who in grace submitted to it, but could not be holden thereby. And so in Christ shall all be made alive, but each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ's at His coming; then the end, when He shall deliver up the kingdom to Him Who is God and Father. The second man is of heaven and has all things in His hand. They that are His will enjoy a resurrection from the dead like His own; as the unjust shall be raised by His power for judgment, who despised His grace and would not have the life eternal that is in Him. For all must honor Him; if not now by believing in Him unto all blessing, by-and-by when raised to be judged for the ills they did. How blessed is the portion of those that hear His word and believe God that sent His Son! They “have eternal life, and come not into judgment, but have passed from death into life.” So declares the Lord with solemn emphasis on its truth, His “Verily, verily.”

Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 3

OUR chapter sets before us briefly and in the unmistakable power of the Spirit two pictures of the remnant alike instructive and affecting. They are also characteristic of this book.
“And when the seventh month was come, and the sons of Israel were in their cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar on its base; for fear was upon them because of the people of the countries; and they offered burnt offerings on it unto Jehovah, the morning and evening burnt offerings. And they held the feast of tabernacles as it is written, and [offered] daily burnt offerings by number, according to the ordinance, as the duty of every day required; and afterward the continual burnt offering, and those of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of Jehovah that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a voluntary offering unto Jehovah. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings unto Jehovah. But the foundation of the temple was not [yet] laid. And they gave money to the masons and to the carpenters; and meat and drink and oil to those of Zidon and to those of Tire, to bring cedar-trees from Lebanon to the sea at Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia” (vers. 1-7).
The season was singularly appropriate. It was not the first month of the sacred year, in its paschal lamb and feast of unleavened bread the foundation of holy security in presence of judgment and of communion with Christ perfect and exclusive of all corruption. Still less was it the time of the feast of weeks, when the two wave-loaves baken with leaven were brought out fifty days after the wave-sheaf was waved before Jehovah on the morrow after the sabbath, the first day of the Lord's resurrection, the gathering not of Israel but of the church during Israel's rejection, as we know, a kind of first-fruits as He was. Here it was the harvest month, the final one of Jehovah's feasts, but it was only a little witness. The set time was not yet come, whatever the pity upon Zion meanwhile to encourage the waiting remnant. It was the seventh month, and the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. Had the God of Israel not been before their eyes, they would not have so gathered. Still less when gathered, would the heads of the priesthood and of the people with their brethren, as their first joint public act, have builded the altar of their God to offer burnt offerings, “as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.” Human prudence would have made haste to erect a wall against their enemies. Faith and reverence led them to build the God of Israel's altar. They could not do all that Moses and Aaron did, or David and Solomon; nor would Jehovah deign under the then circumstances to give the Shechinah, or Urim and Thummim. The full restoration of Israel is still future. But they were free, yea they were bound, to acknowledge Him and His goodness to them after the due manner; and the burnt offering was the constant expression of approach to Him by virtue of an unblemished sacrifice, when all tried by fire rose up acceptably before Him.
They in their utter weakness, “though fear was upon them because of the people of the countries,” justly felt that their God had the first claim. They had seen what forgetfulness of Him had brought upon them, what unsparing chastisement of their idolatrous sins and all others, not because they were not but because they were His people. They had experienced His compassion on their low estate when captives, and His fidelity to the prophetic word in bringing back a remnant to the land; and as one purpose of heart gathered them, so their prime object was to worship Him “as it is written in the law of Moses.” It was not a new device to meet their anomalous circumstances. They had a vast deal urgent to do in a land of rain and neglect; and in no place more than Jerusalem. They had individually cleared themselves as Israelites and priests in chap. ii. They rightly judged that their first act in unity was due in adoring sacrificial recognition of Him. O if all had been it accord with this good beginning! this altar was their best stronghold. It was their spontaneous resource by grace; and what a testimony to all the earth! Certainly it was precious to the God of heaven.
Along with this rest for their timid hearts in the God they thus honored, their jealous submission to his word is as plain in this chapter as in the foregoing, and we may add His own care for it in chap. 1. They had little strength, but they kept His word and did not deny His name. It was the more striking, because the mass of Israel abode far away, scattered among the Gentiles of the east. Godly ones had prayed in their captivity, with windows open toward Jerusalem. But there only did they build an altar, there only offer burnt offerings. Never do we hear of such worship in Babylon, never in Assyria. To us, Christians, the name of Jesus is the center, the sole worthy center for the gathered saints; even as the altar here was for the faithful Jew. It was no question what others did or did not: these recovered from captivity, when gathered, owned thus the God of Israel without pretending to do more than they could. It was godly order, and simple obedience, because it was living faith, and not mere sentiment. Does not this become any faithful now?
But blessed as this was, they did not rest there as if it were all. “They held the feast of tabernacles as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the ordinances, as the duty of every day required; and afterward the continual burnt offering, and those of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of Jehovah that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a voluntary offering unto Jehovah. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer offerings unto Jehovah. But the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was not [yet] laid. And they gave money to the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, to those of Zidon, and to those of Tire, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea at Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.” Thus ceasing to do evil, they learned to do well, and prepared to follow the Lord fully.
“And in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbahel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem; and they appointed the Levites from twenty years old and upward, to oversee the work of the house of Jehovah. And Jeshua stood up, his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah [Hodaviah], as one, to oversee the workmen in the house of God; [also] the sons of Henadad, their sons and their brethren, the Levites. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Jehovah. they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise Jehovah according to time directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively in praise and thanksgiving unto Jehovah: For he is good, for his mercy [is] forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout in praising Jehovah, because the foundation of the house of Jehovah was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief fathers, the aged who had seen the first house, [when] the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy. And the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off” (vers. 8-13).
This laying the foundation of the temple was a decided step in advance. It was good to build and use the altar without delay in faith; it was better to lay the foundation than to content themselves with that informal but acceptable and right beginning. No doubt circumstances were anomalous. The Persian had civil authority over them; and the people were for the most part among the Gentiles; and a new difficulty arose from imported Gentiles who imitated Jewish forms in the land. Yet faith is not to be turned aside from carrying out the truth, but humbly, not pretentiously, and never forgetting that the anomaly was due solely to Israel's sin and God's dealing with it. Hence, even in that hour of loudly expressed joy over the foundation laid, the old men wept; they felt more the ruin and its moral causes. God saw and cherished the tears. Men were more alive to the joy which greeted the auspicious act of that day. Both bore witness that Jehovah is good, and His mercy is forever, whatever be the failure of His people and His righteous notice of it. As it has been truly said, the Lord slighted neither; and each, according to their measure, did what they did to Him. Compare Rom. 14. But in truth zeal in going forward energetically, however right, lacks the due spiritual sense which estimates His glory and the state of His people, if there be not the constant and humiliating sense that He has been dishonored notwithstanding loving-kindness without end, and that He has justly stripped us of our ornaments. Do we feel it now?

Song of Solomon 3

WE have seen how faithful is the Bridegroom's attention to that Zion whom He loved and chose, and will in the end reclaim from all her long folly and from the hand of all her foes; and that the making of her heart true and responsive to His love is the object of this book. That there is a principle common to every believing heart, and so to the church as a whole, is certain and important; so it is with scripture generally. But it is as important to discern that Christ's special relationship here is with the Jewish bride for the earth, as in the Pauline Epistles and the Revelation with the church, the Lamb's wife for the heavens, though now rightly anticipated and enjoyed in the Spirit on earth. Truth has suffered through the same unbelieving ignorance which has for ages since the apostles blotted out these immense differences and merged O. and N. Testaments in the confusion of heaven and earth, Israel and the church, the present and the future in one vague and undefined object of mercy from the beginning to the end of time, in collision with all scripture, to the enfeebling of truth, to the darkening of divine purposes and love, and to the sad marring of the affections, worship, and walk of faith, especially in Christians.
To us all is sovereign grace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. The consequence is that believers, whether from Jews or Gentiles, are brought out of darkness into God's marvelous light by the gospel, and, resting on redemption in Christ through His blood, are sealed with the Holy Spirit; as by the same Spirit they are baptized into one body and made God's habitation (Eph. 1; 2). The Christian, the church, thus blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ, is responsible to walk accordingly, together no less than as individuals. If souls go back, it is fatal as we see in Hebrews 10., whatever the grace that restores the repentant faithful; if there is public corruption maintained in pride under the plea of unity as in Babylon and her daughters, there is no restoration but divine judgment.
With Israel it is wholly different. Her backsliding and rebellion under the law, the Jewish rejection of the Messiah, inexcusable as all was, are wholly different from the apostasy after redemption and the presence of the Spirit sent down from heaven. The Lord will come to take His own who await Him to the Father's house; when apostate Christendom and the mass of the Jews will ripen for judgment, which the Lord will execute as the second and displayed act of His advent, after working by grace in both Israel and the Gentiles separately (not in one body as now), as we see in Rev. 7. and elsewhere, to prepare earthly witnesses of 11 is saving mercy before the beginning of the millennial age. Thus both heaven and earth are to have appropriate denizens, the O.T saints and the church on high in their glorified bodies, saved Jews and Gentiles in their natural bodies, the living demonstration of His blessed power as a King reigning in righteousness, when the Man of God's right hand receives the kingdom that all the peoples may serve Him. The God of peace will bruise Satan under the feet of His saints.
But as long as the church is being called and formed for heavenly glory, the veil lies on Israel's heart: whensoever it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away, that is, in the interval during which the church is caught up, and before the Lord appears with His saints in glory. This interval has divine light cast dispensationally on it, largely in Daniel, and in the Revelation yet more. The Psalms largely express the working of conscience and heart in them, their hopes and their distress Godward, when converted but not brought into settled peace till they see the Lord and have the Spirit poured on them, as we have had since Pentecost. But it is a great error to confound that first and real work of grace, in which souls to be fully blest are born of God, with the rest and deliverance which only come through learning our own powerlessness as well as guilt and need, and thereon finding all met in Christ and His redemption. The Song of Solomon supplies another lack, the bringing of the Israel of God, the earthly bride, into the sense of Messiah's personal relation and love to the people of His choice.
It need not be said that we have what is analogous in that bridal affection, so feebly developed among us, the saints since apostolic days, though we are already one spirit with the Lord before He come and the marriage of the Lamb is celebrated on high. Hence, as we have in the N. T. no special book of psalms and hymns provided for us but are capacitated to pour them forth from hearts filled with the Spirit, so we have not like Israel the need of a book analogous to Song of Solomon to kindle and strengthen our affections, as they will find here supplied in the most direct way. The sad truth is that Israel was married to Jehovah, as the prophets remind the people (Isa. 54.; Jer. 3.), and their unfaithfulness is branded therefore, not like the N. T. Babylon as prostitution, but as adultery (so in Hos. 3 and elsewhere), however His grace may by-and-by deal with Israel not as a guilty widow but as a woman forsaken and a wife of youth.
Hence then the painstaking labor of the Holy Spirit both in the Psalms and the Song of Solomon to lead the godly remnant into all exercises of heart, not only as saints, but in their proper relationship to Messiah. But hence too its necessary form for Zion, after so grievous a breach, for that renewal of blessedness, which was never truly known of old, and which will stand assuredly as long as the earth lasts, the results of which pass not away but abide when the new heavens and new earth are come in the full and final sense.
“On my bed, by night
I sought him whom my soul loveth;
I sought him, but I found him not.
I will rise now and go about the city;
In the streets and in the broad ways
I will seek him whom my soul loveth;
I sought him, but I found him not.
The watchmen that go about the city found me—
Have ye seen him whom my soul loveth?-
Scarcely had I passed from them,
When I found him whom my soul loveth;
I held him and would not let him go,
Until I had brought him into my mother's house,
And into the chamber of her that conceived me.
I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field,
That ye stir not up nor awake [my] love, Until he please.
Who is this, that [fem.] cometh up out of the wilderness
Like pillars of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
With all powders of the merchant?
Behold his litter, Solomon's own:
Threescore mighty men are about it,
Of the mighty of Israel.
They all handle the sword, experts in war.
Each hath his sword on his thigh
Because of fear in the night.
King Solomon made himself a palanquin
Of the wood of Lebanon.
Its pillars he made of silver,
The base of gold, its seat of purple,
The midst of it being paved [with] love
By the daughters of Jerusalem.
Go forth, daughters of Zion,
And behold king Solomon
With the crown wherewith his mother crowned him
In the day of his espousals,
And in the day of the gladness of his heart” (vers. 1-11).
It was not the day, but in hours of darkness the Beloved was sought. The heart truly turned to Him. So the Lord had warned, Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah. And she must know herself better to value Him aright. It is not the lesson of heart which the church, the Christian, knows in Him come and fully revealed through accomplished redemption. Yet souls now often pass through similar vicissitudes, because they put themselves under law instead of knowing that we, having died with Christ, are justified from sin (as well as our sins), our old man crucified with Him that the body of sin might be annulled that we should no longer serve sin. Whence we, Christians, are to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. But the godly Jews here in view are in no such peace. Even when, after passing from the watchmen to whom she appeals, she does find the Beloved, we are not to conceive it more than anticipatively in the Spirit of prophecy, as with others of old. It is not to the church but to Israel that the Son is born (see Rev. 12)
But there is progress after the second charge; and the vision is seen of the earthly bride coming out of the wilderness on one side, and on the other a greater than, the Solomon of old in the delight of His heart for the day of His espousals.
Israel, however, is the mother whether of the Bridegroom or of the bride: not the church, which is never set forth in that relation, but solely as the Lamb's bride. We do hear of Sarah as the free mother of the heirs of promise in contrast with the bondmaid Hagar gendering to bondage. But this is another order of thought, where the church as such does not enter. It was the catholic system which confounded the two and spoke of “our holy mother” the church; as the Roman Catholic went farther astray and made her not mother only but “mistress” in human vanity and pride.

Morsels From Family Records: 1. Genesis 4-5

STARTING with Gen. 4:16-24 we have a list of the descendants of the man Cain, who “went out from the presence of the Lord,” and in the land of Nod “he builded a city.” There he and his descendants made themselves comfortable, and cultivated mechanical and fine arts. Meanwhile plunging deeper into sin, until the wrath of God being out-poured, every representative of that guilty family perished by the Flood. Now, turning to 1 Chron. 1:1, we read, “Adam, Shah, Enosh;” but not one word about Cain and his descendants. The reader mighty “Neither is Abel's name there given.” Quite so, for he left no son; but hew very often in the New Testament is honorable mention made of Abel?
SETH'S DESCENDANTS.
Gen. 5, in giving us a list of these, presents some very striking facts. For not only are their respective, ages given, but the very great ages, to which most of them attained, enabled certain “holy prophets,” whose names are here given, to testify to many succeeding generations the wondrous works of God. Before the flood there was delivered an oral testimony. Adam and Methuselah were contemporary for over 240 years. One interpretation of the name given to the latter by his father Enoch is, “At his death the breaking forth of waters.” These two things are certain, viz., that Enoch foresaw coming judgments, and that the days of the long life of his son was in itself a manifestation of the longsuffering of God ere that judgment by water was outpoured. For Methuselah died just before the flood. The words, “and he died,” repeated so many times in this chapter, furnish us with a striking contrast to the words, “And He shall live” written with reference to David's Son and Lord in Psa. 72:15.
NOAH'S DESCENDANTS.
For a clear and concise explanation of the origin of the many different nations of the earth men search in vain among the ancient records of Nineveh, Babylon, and Egypt. The inspired record given in Gen. 10 stands alone in its very simple, clear, and accurate account of a matter, which, but for the information therein supplied, would to this day have remained an unsolved problem. (That many of these nations will take a prominent position in the ratter day, and be visited with swift judgments, is clear from Ezek. 38.) Gen. 10:25 tells us exactly when that division of the earth amongst the nations took place; as Dent. 32:8 explains the impose the Most High had in view in separating the sons of Adam. One remarkable fact (Gen. 11:10-26) disclosed is the longevity of Shem, who out-lived quite a number of generations of his own descendants; which in its turn discloses God's gracious purpose in his very long life. Eye-witness of the flood, and honored saint of God (Gen. 9:26), he lived to bear witness to very many of the things which he had himself seen and heard. How the heart of Shem must have grieved when not only the sons of Ham and Japheth, but his own children, declined to gross idolatry (Josh. 24:2)! He was living at the time when God called Abram. The sons of Ishmael (Gen. 25:12-16), and the sons of Esau (Gen. 36.) became great, numerous, and opulent, while as yet the chosen seed of Israel were born into adversity and bitter bondage. Both families are briefly mentioned in 1 Chron. 1. but the Spirit of God proceeds no farther in the register. Henceforth their posterity are not written with the righteous.
(14'

The Comfort of the Scriptures: 2

THE basis of all true comfort is unbounded faith in God's love and grace. Implicit trust is the soul's sure anchor in every storm. And the spiritual apprehension of the word of God is the means of establishing the believer in serene confidence amidst the greatest difficulties and sorrows he may be called to encounter.
As has been already remarked, Bible history is given with a view to cultivate in the children of God such an acquaintance with His ways, as shall brighten their darkest hours by a firm reliance upon His unerring wisdom.
The life of Abraham, as written in the Scriptures, is especially abundant in those circumstances which inspire confidence in God as the Author of naught but good and as the Supreme Controller of all events to the accomplishment of His beneficent purposes. In himself Abraham was a singularly good man, lofty and noble in character, generous and magnanimous in his relations with men, obedient and self-sacrificing before his God. Yet in spite of such excellence as highly elevated him above his fellows, he was not on that account exempt from fiery trial and blasting adversity. On the contrary, there have been few, perhaps, who have been brought face to face with such bitter disappointment as he; and without doubt, there has been no saint whose faith through long years in the bare and unsubstantiated word of God has been so stringently tested as was his. Nevertheless, Abraham was sustained throughout by Him Who said, “I am thy shield and thine exceeding great reward “; and all things are shown to have worked together for the blessing of faithful Abraham, and not of him only, but of Jews and Gentiles also throughout all ages.
For Abraham occupies a prominent place in the dispensational dealings of God with mankind. lie was the first of the post-diluvian worthies. He is declared to be the father of all that believe, even though they be not circumcised (Rom. 4:11). He was the root of the olive tree of promise, according to the word of the Lord God— “In thee shall all nations be blessed.” He was the honored progenitor of that race which has, in the face of extraordinary vicissitudes, been maintained in existence for four millenniums; and though its name be now a by-word in every land, it shall even yet in God's good time be exalted to be again the chief among the peoples of the earth.
But though Abraham holds this distinguished position, he was none the less human, none the less a man beset with similar temptations, possessing similar evil propensities and encountering similar obstacles to the saint of to-day. For it would be entirely subversive of that purpose of Holy Writ, which we are considering, to suppose with the rationalist that the history of Abraham is merely an ideal picture, a spiritual parable, the natural outcome of the universal practice of hero-worship, the imputation to Israel's great forefather of the scattered traditions of many centuries. There is small comfort to be derived from a fable; since it is certain that if Abraham's trials are supposititious, his victories must be imaginary. And if the conquests of his faith are legendary, his biography becomes valueless to us as that of a brother saint triumphing over the manifold difficulties attendant upon a godly and obedient walk.
It may be sufficient for the purpose of this article to glance cursorily from this point of view at the transcendent act of Abraham's life This was undoubtedly the solemn scene enacted on the lonely heights of mount Moriah. It was there the patriarch's faith received its final test; and it was there the angel of the Lord stayed the descending knife, and declared “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me” (Gen. 22:12).
And it is upon this part of the history that the rationalist first lays his ruthless hand. By him it is summarily dismissed as some mythic tale of the hoary past, or at least as a purely fictitious narrative invented by some unscrupulous religious teacher.
Though it is undeniable, it is regarded by him as of no importance, that this offering up of Isaac is referred to in unequivocal terms on two separate occasions in the New Testament. In one case Paul, writing to the Hebrews (chap. 11.), gives the incident as an instance of Abraham's faith along with other historical facts in his life, such as his migration from Mesopotamia, his pilgrim life in the promised land, and the miraculous birth of Isaac. These leading points in the patriarch's history are quoted as illustrations of the power of faith; but if fabulous, they are absolutely worthless for that purpose. The truth is, however, that they are not fables but facts which the Spirit has recorded in the Old Testament and authenticated in the New.
The other case is James, who gives the same act as the great proof and manifestation of the mighty faith possessed by this eminent man, who was called the “friend of God.” “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect” (James 2:21, 22)? Is it possible to seriously entertain for one moment the supposition, that the apostle is thus referring to a baseless tradition? Moreover, the apostle goes on to say, “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God; and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23). So that this sacrifice is here definitely stated to be the proof of the faith expressed by the childless man on that starlight night when Jehovah promised the lonely wanderer that his seed should rival the countless hosts of heaven for multitude. Abraham believed the Lord and He counted it to him for righteousness. So it was said of him in Gen. 15; but some forty years later (Gen. 22.) this confession of trust was proven to the utmost, and by his works was faith made perfect. Thus the entire force of the apostle's reference is grounded upon its historical accuracy. If the offering up of Isaac is no more than an untrustworthy legend, it is of no avail to quote it as being the abiding and pre, eminent testimony of that living faith in God which characterized the father of the faithful.
In effect, therefore, for the historic truth of the event in question, we are called to choose between the inspired witness of two apostles and the ipso dixit of overbearing and arrogant man—no difficult task for those accustomed to learn in meekness at the Master's feet.
It is not overlooked that the author of the recent essay on Inspiration in “Lux Muridi” grants that the historic age commences with Abraham, everything prior to the migration of the Mesopotamian “sheikh” being shrouded in the mists of dim antiquity. In sooth, this is beyond our concern; for we leave those to establish the exact locality of the boundary line between the historic and the legendary, who refuse to accept the teaching of the inerrant Scriptures that “all these things happened unto them for ensamples (types); and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (ages) are come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Besides, Mr. Gore and his followers should not forget that ante-diluvians are classed in the same category with post-diluvians (Heb. 11.), Abel, Enoch, and Noah, along with Abraham and Moses, with Gideon, Samson, and Barak. So that neology has no support from Paul.
God-fearing souls have good cause to tremble, when daring men thus seek to divide the sacred word of God into the historic and the pre-historic, the inspired and the uninspired. It is not faith that works such havoc with the messages of the Most High. It is rather the reckless unbelief of that impious king of Judah, who first cut the roll of the prophet to pieces and then proceeded to burn it with fire. So that when we see men approaching the Scriptures with the shears, we may well fear lest they follow with the firebrand.
No: if there be any comfort in the Bible, it is because we have therein facts; and more, not facts partially observed and even distorted by our imperfect vision, but facts divinely selected, divinely recorded, and divinely illuminated. Undeniably the trials and sorrows of this life are stern realities. And how can we be better strengthened to bear them cheerfully, than by seeing the way in which God, in former times, ministered to others placed in similar trials and sorrows or even worse? This under divine guidance we are permitted to do in the historical portions of the word.
In the case before us—the extraordinary and unparalleled trial of Abraham's faith—we have what is unusually rich in supplies of comfort. For it is a feeling common to almost all afflicted persons that no one since the world began was ever called to pass through such bitter trials or make such extreme sacrifices as they. Now to quench such distress of soul, much more frequent than creditable, it is placed on record how the greatest possible sorrow a man like Abraham could meet, was faced in the power of faith and completely vanquished.
In order to apprehend the severe nature of the task set before the man of faith (Gen. 22.), it is necessary to briefly recall the leading events of his life of which this was the climax and the crown.
The first demand upon his faith was to leave his own country and his kindred and his father's house and to go into an unknown land, with the promise that he should become a great nation, and that in him should all nations be blessed. At the age of seventy-five, Abraham came into the land which he was afterward to receive as an inheritance, though it was then occupied by the vile and vicious Canaanite. Soon he had to part from his worldly-minded nephew, Lot, who walked by sight and not by faith. Through long and lonely years did Sarah and he dwell in this foreign land, possessing not so much as a foot of it, and without a sign of that heir to whom he might bequeath his flocks and his herds, his silver and his gold, and in whom the word of God should be fulfilled. Once again, however, while meditating in the silent night-watches, the voice, first heard by Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees, assured him that the promised seed should be duly forthcoming. But not till eleven years after his entrance into the land was Ishmael born, and then not of Sarah. And the son of Hagar could not live before God. Abraham had still to wait; for “Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.” And though twenty-five years elapsed since he had left Haran; yet hope deferred did not make the heart sick. On the contrary, Abraham “against hope believed in hope. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:18-21).
But this faith, in which he had been thus educated through no small space of time, had yet to receive its final test. Accordingly, when Isaac had fully supplanted Ishmael, when the affections of the old man for his long expected child had developed and matured by years of exercise, when Isaac was grown into a goodly youth, the joy and support of his father's declining years, then the well-known voice from on high demanded, without a word of explanation, that the promised seed should be sacrificed upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah.
Here then was the crucial test. As a man even, he would shrink from shedding human blood. As a father, he would be horrified to think of sacrificing his son, his only son Isaac, whom he loved. As a saint, he would be tempted to doubt the Divine origin of a command to extinguish that seed which was itself the witness of God's special intervention in fulfillment of His promise. None of these things however moved him, but with a dignity and serenity, only characteristic of a ready and unquestioning obedience, he bowed his head in submission.
But what comforted his heart? What sustained him throughout the journey of three days to mount Moriah? What supported his soul when the artless question of his darling boy stabbed him more keenly than could that sacrificial knife his own hand held? It was—in his case as in every other—the WORD OF GOD. It was the firm and unshaken conviction that the word could never fail; that what the Almighty had promised He was also able to perform, and that even death, however disastrous to human plans, was no bar to the accomplishment of the purposes of God. This he found to be an effectual solace for every pang. For his was no blind fatalism but an intelligent trust in the living God. The hand stretched forth to slay Isaac was confident of speedily welcoming him again from the very dead.
This incident, therefore, in all its details, is a remarkable exhibition of the way in which God works with His own, not arbitrarily but to compass His own, ends and the final blessing of His saints. Herein lies our comfort. Even as the patriarch trusted God and was not confounded, so we are safe in resting on the sacred word, though the earth fail and the heavens fall. Abraham found the verbal promise steadfast, we shall not find the written ones less so. Moreover we see not only that he believed God, but that in a very overwhelming trial he proved the end of the Lord to be very pitiful and of tender mercy, calling the name of the place Jehovah-Jireh.
This historical account with the rest was “written aforetime” for our comfort; and what shall we say of those who would discredit the record by insinuating doubts if not total denial?
They are no friends of Christ, but cruel robbers, and wanton destroyers of that comfort laid up for His sheep in the holy scriptures.
( To be, continued, D.V.).

Hebrews 11:8-10

Among the elders attested in virtue of faith Abraham has a most honorable place. Of him first is it written in the O. T. that he believed [in] Jehovah, and He counted it to him for righteousness; and in the N. T. he is called father of all that believe; in both, the “friend of God.”
Abraham gives occasion to a large and varied scope of faith, and stands at the head of those who illustrate its patience, rather than its energy which shines in Moses and those that follow. And this is the true moral order: first, waiting on God who had promised; secondly, overcoming difficulties and dangers in His power.
“By faith Abraham, being called, obeyed to go out into a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as one not his own, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the joint-heirs of the same promise; for he awaited the city that hath the foundations, whose artificer and maker [is] God” (Heb. 11:8-10).
Abraham is the first sample of God's call as a public principle. Whatever the secret working of grace in all the saints heretofore, as in Abel, Enoch, Noah, no one had ever been called by God to quit his country, kindred, and even father's house, as Abraham was. It was the great and new fact of separation to God, and in a land which He would show, sustained by His promise of blessing to himself, yea of blessing in him to all the families of the earth. It was the more remarkable, because after the deluge He had instituted government to repress evil; and in the days of Peleg the earth was divided by the sons of Japheth, Ham, and Shem, after their families and tongues, in their lands and nations. In Abraham's time even Shem's progeny served other gods—an evil most portentous, and unknown before the deluge. Out of this was Abraham called of God. The rest of the world was left to itself. God called the man of His choice, not to attack or reform the evil, but to Himself and a land He would show him, with blessing assured. Separation to God on the call of His grace we see in the man, the family, the nation in which He will be magnified forever.
This, if believed, involved obedience at once; and so it is here written. The old relationships remained for all but Abraham, the sphere of divine providence, as of judgment at the end of the age.
But the separated man was to follow as God in grace led. He is the depositary of promise, and thus his faith was tested, not at the start only, but continuously. The land to be shown in due time was as yet unknown, so as to cast him on simple-hearted confidence in God. He went out, in subjection to God's promise, not knowing whither he went. God would show the next step when Abram took the first. He did not ask, Whither? He trusted God implicitly. Thus his faith was unmixed with calculations of self, resting solely but fully on His word Who loves and never deceives.
It was the wise and wonderful working by ways suited to His glory in a world departed from God into idolatry, where present ease, wealth, honor, power, are the bribes of the enemy for all misled by him. Faith gives up all at God's word with not one thing gained for the moment, but the certainty of His guidance and ultimate blessing in the richest manner. Yet in the history of Genesis it was not faith unmixed: in Haran they halted till Terah died; then “they went forth into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came.” The Canaanite too, the power of evil devoted to God's curse, was still in the land while Abraham moved about a stranger. Even after this, faith failed under pressure of famine, and Canaan was left for the plenty of Egypt, and the denial of his wife through fear, and the treasures of the world which followed. But God was faithful, judged the prince of the world, and brought back the pilgrim to the land he ought not to have left without His word Who had brought him there.
But Heb. 11:9 points out a fine and new trait of the Spirit's working. “By faith he sojourned [not in Egypt, but] in the land of promise, as in one not his own, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the joint-heirs of the same promise; for he awaited the city that hath the foundations, whose artificer and maker [is] God.” As faith led him into the land, unnamed and unknown to him, so when in it faith not only looked to have it another day from God, while he was content to be an alien without a foot of it as yet, but learned to await a brighter and better scene. For the city here described stands in contrast with all that is earthly or can be shaken and removed. It is the scene of heavenly glory. Compare Heb. 11:16, and Heb. 12:22. The word he heard gave him to look up; and believing he made no haste nor shall he be ashamed. Returned from Egypt he has his tent, as had Isaac and Jacob in due time. What did Egypt know of the tent? still less of the altar unto Jehovah. Even the called-out man had neither there: back in the land he has both. The spirit of the world is incompatible with either strangership or worship. And both helped him to draw, from His word Who is now before his soul, higher things than those he saw, more durable than the earth, and more worthy of Him Who devised and executed the universe but is above it all. “The God of glory,” as Stephen says of him, became far better known than at the first. Abraham walked by faith, not by sight. Men have not been wanting to say that the city which God here designs and forms is the earthly Jerusalem. It is impossible to conceive an idea less spiritual or more ruinous of the truth intended. The Epistle as a whole assiduously raises the eyes of those addressed to the city out of sight and on high, which Abraham saw by faith and was glad. Here we have no continuing city, whatever the Jews may receive by-and-by.

The Trial of Faith: Part 3

Gen. 22, Heb. 11
But there is more than his obedience in faith; there is also the confidence and the dependence of faith. For what can more express confidence in the truth of God than the words, “we will come again?” This confidence was clearly stronger than the fear of death, or his inability to reconcile the past promise that Isaac should be heir of the world with the present command to offer up his son. Every circumstance was against their coming again, and forbade the thought. Nay, the word of God seemed to place a barrier to their coming again, which he could in no wise surmount save by resurrection. But Abraham cleaves to what God is. It would be a wonderful way of deliverance no doubt, but he surrenders all into the hand of God, the promise, the command, and the reconciliation of the two. He is calm in the presence of such a dead-lock. It was impossible for God to fail; he would not judge by appearances. The word of God should be His rule (see John 7:24).
The promise was as explicit as the command, and he would cleave to the promise and obey the command; he could count upon God to bring him out of the seeming difficulty. How this dependence is felt and acknowledged too in his answer to Isaac, when the latter inquired for the lamb— “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb!” Besides the dependence due to God, the father's love is subdued by real trust in God Himself. But it bursts out in the words, “My son,” and is as quickly brought into submission, as is evident by the words following, “God will provide.” Whatever the distress, if he felt any in his soul, all was calmed by this, “God will provide.” His dependence on God is unshaken and firm, and makes him like a rock when assailed by mighty but unavailing waves. And this when his natural affection and his faith in the promise that he was to be the father of a numerous seed would have led him to hesitate as to the sacrifice of his son. He had sent away Ishmael, and was going to sacrifice Isaac, none being left. What would become of the promise? This is his strength, “God will provide.” During the fiery trial how his faith shines, rising above circumstances and seeming contradictions! And, when the trial is completed, with what joy and confirmation of faith he would sing in his heart, Jehovah-jireh!
Thus in Abraham is displayed the obedience to God, the confidence, dependence, endurance and trust of faith; as also in resurrection the answer to faith. Faith is not to be weakened by any circumstances, however adverse they may seem. And “Jehovah will provide” comes with increasing power as we gaze on him from his rising early to cleave the wood till his parting word to the young men, “We will come again.”
In very truth full blessing waits for resurrection. So had Abraham (in figure); it was from death that he received Isaac (Neb. 11:19). But our Isaac is already risen, and in the midst of trial we can say, “Jehovah-jireh.” But the rest of victory and the crowning will come at Christ's appearing, and the faith which seems now so weak will then be as pure gold.
The Holy Spirit brings believers into a new place. Once we were as others, the children of wrath; now by faith in Christ we are sons of God (Gal. 3:26); now by faith in Christ we bear a new character before God. Christ is the best robe, the wedding garment, clothed in which we stand in God's sight. Every believer has it; he has not to wait for a high development of this or that as if there were an esoteric class among believers to which each must attain before he can put on such a robe. It is the only garment we can wear in the presence of God. And it is for all, for the least as for the greatest; and with it eternal life is joined, nor can they be separated. Without it a man is a child of wrath and as such is lost forever. Even now clothed with this garment he is translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, and must be conformed to the Son's image—must learn, so to speak, the rules of His kingdom. And the faith in which he stands becomes, wielded by the Holy Spirit, a motive-power by which the inward man is renewed day by day (see also Eph. 4:23)—alas, amid much weakness, pressure and perplexity, pursued and smitten down, yet the Holy Spirit leads us on to victory: a victory through resurrection, the thing typified—unknown to Abraham, but revealed to us, for we have redemption in Christ and are risen in and with Him. Hence the apostle, in view of death and resurrection, and of the untold blessings to the believer, better than creation contains, could say, “But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient unto righteousness” (Rom. 6:17, 18). “Thanks be to God that giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
After the resurrection (figurative) of Isaac, God repeats and thus confirms His promise to Abraham (compare Gen. 22:18 and 12:3 with Gal. 3:16), and enlarges His promise, not only that his posterity should be as the stars in heaven and as the sand on the seashore, but also his Seed (i.e. Christ) should be for the blessing of all nations. Thus all, even the earthly blessing through Israel, depends upon resurrection. And this may be called the earthly side of the wonderful event on the mount. Not even the blessing and joy of the millennium could be secured without resurrection. Did this render Abraham's eye clearer when he looked at the city which had the foundations? when he looked onward and saw the day of the Lord? (John 8:56).
But it is not merely a trial of Abraham's faith; it is typical as well as historical. Another purpose arises, which was beyond the vision of Abraham, though even that one with all its sorrows and glories was needed for the blessing of his race, but in which there was a fullness where Israel was but a light thing. For a mystery was hidden till the time of its revelation, which we only now know because the great sacrifice is completed, and Gentiles are called in to share with Israel the blessing of the cross. Now after the sacrifice on Calvary we can trace the foreshadowing in Abraham's trial, which would otherwise, as a type, have been unintelligible. With the antitype before us we see how imperfectly any type can foreshadow the depths of Calvary. Like Isaac He was led to the slaughter, but unlike Isaac He knew where the Lamb was. And as Isaac bare the wood, so did the Lord Jesus bear His cross. As Isaac was bound and laid on the wood, so was the Lord Jesus nailed to the cross. But there the type fails; no creature is sufficient to be a type. God may use a creature to set forth faintly some of the wonders, the sufferings, and glories we see in Christ; but what creature gathers them up in his own person? A voice from heaven arrests Abraham with the knife in his hand, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad.” A voice from heaven said, “Smite the Man that is My Fellow” (Zech. 13:7). Isaac passed through death figuratively; the Lord Jesus in reality. God told Abraham to spare Isaac, but did not spare His own Son, the Well-Beloved and Only-Begotten. There was no ram substituted on Calvary; the blood of Christ alone cleanseth from all sin.
(Transcribed by R. B., Junr)

Eve Tempted

Gen. 3:1-5
Tax subtlety of the enemy displays itself throughout. The weaker vessel is deceived, being drawn away by plausible appearances. How like our life! What a light is thrown on facts of every day, with their bitter results through unbelief and impenitence! For God is forgotten, and objects in the scene that now is take His place. Such is Satan's aim till the soul he betrayed into open ungodliness and despair, which hardens an act into a habit away from God.
Here, as the beginning of moral evil on earth, the Holy Spirit relates the fact, in its detail of instruction for every child of Adam, with the grand yet deep simplicity of these early books of inspiration.
“And he said, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (vers. 1.)” It was but a question of what God had said. But where this is allowed, He is dishonored, and a breach is made in the line of defense for the enemy to enter. To doubt God's word is the beginning of the worst evil; it is to sit in judgment on Himself; whereas He only can and ought to judge, and this He does now by His word, as indeed the Lord says will be at the last day. How presumptuous then for man to judge Him! “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 1:6). Under the seeming modesty of a query Satan was undermining the prime duty of a creature. And what did he seek in particular thereby? To insinuate a doubt of His goodness. What! May you not eat of all the trees? Is it possible that you are forbidden any? How can God love you and withhold a single good thing from you? Surely there must be some mistake. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Is it so?
It is written, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Eve on the contrary listened and parleyed. The mischief was begun. As the serpent had substituted the more distant and abstract “God” of creation for the Creator in moral relationship with man (Jehovah God), she fell into the trap, and discussed the question raised only to excite desire for what He had prohibited. A rebel himself, he maliciously likes to thwart the Highest and have companions in his sin and misery. Yielding to him, instead of turning away at once, Eve drops notice of the relationship Jehovah had deigned to establish, and becomes a prey while she continues her converse. “And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but of the fruit which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” (vers. 2, 3).
Had she held fast the sense of her responsibility to obey, she would have resented the question, rather than answered it. And her answer lets us see that the evil intent of Satan did not fail of its effect. She adds to the prohibition, and takes from the penalty. Jehovah had not said a word about touching the forbidden fruit, but had in the most assured terms threatened death in the day of eating it. Exaggeration of truth is no more the truth than diminution of it; either enfeebles, and both are Satan's work. By the truth we are sanctified; and His word is truth.
But knowledge is not truth received in the love of it from God. Eve well knew and could tell the tempter the liberty given as to all other fruit, and the penalty for partaking of the one forbidden tree. Yet she ventured to hear what the serpent had to say when there was already the proof that he was by his question impugning divine goodness. Did not He delight in their happiness? From Whom came their most bountiful provision? Was she cherishing dependence on Him, or confidence in Him? How worthless is knowledge which issues not in grateful praise and simple-hearted obedience! Still more, if it leave one free to distrust Him! Alas! unbelief has grown apace since Eve.
Emboldened by his crafty success the enemy advances. “And the serpent said to the woman, Ye will not surely die; but God knoweth that, in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes will be opened, and ye will be as God, knowing good and evil” (vers. 4, 5). It is no longer insinuation against His good will, but open assault on His truth. And it is the same lie which beguiles mankind ever since. Death is hidden diligently from men's eyes; and when it cannot be, its import is explained away. People are willingly ignorant, and are earnest only to enjoy the present. Let us eat and drink, and to-morrow go here or there and get gain. All! ye know not what will be on the morrow; but certain it is, now that man is fallen, it is appointed to men once to die and after this judgment. But men lend a ready ear to him who deceived Eve, and, though unable to deny, believe it not: else that dark shadow would paralyze their pursuits and poison their pleasures. For the sting of death is sin, of which all are guilty; and into judgment for all their sins must come those who believe not in the Lord Jesus for remission.
Further, the serpent held out as a bribe the good of evil. In eating the forbidden fruit, your eyes will be opened, and ye will be as God, knowing good and evil. God is jealous; I am your friend. He would keep you ignorant and in leading-strings. Take my advice: be independent and know for yourselves as He does. As he veiled the doom of transgression, so did he set off the bribe in glowing colors; and as Eve stayed to listen, she was tainted with his pestilent breath. She received the lying foe as her best friend when his slander of the living and true God entered her heart. Open sin and ruin followed without delay.
The remedy is not in man, but from God in Christ for him, yea, for the most guilty if he repent and believe the gospel. Nor did the law work out deliverance, but on the contrary wrath. The Lord Jesus is the only Deliverer, as indeed this very Gen. 3. foreshows. He vindicated God and vanquished Satan in every respect in which the first man failed. His coming, the gift of Him displayed God's immense love to the world; His death for sin was the irrefragable proof of God's truth no less than of His love; and His personal glory, yet becoming a man to be made sin for us, told out God's majesty as well as His love and truth. O what a contrast with those who, being only human, sought to be as God, and, coveting independence, became Satan's slaves! But thanks be to God Who through Him dead and risen gives the victory to us, even to all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His voice that speaks from heaven, as of old He warned on earth. See that ye refuse not Him that speaks. For our God, whatever His love, is also a consuming fire.

Coming of the Lord in Revelation 2-3

Let us here enter a little on the coming of the Lord. First, it is connected with our acceptance, Christ having borne God's judgment for us. Judgment is no longer to us therefore an object of dread. If we have met Him by faith in the grace of His first advent, all will he joy to us at His coming again. But, secondly, He will return as a judge—the Judge of quick and dead. If we realize the difference between expecting Christ to glorify us and expecting Him in judgment, we get the way in which His coming addresses itself either in fullness of love to His own, or as a solemn warning to sinners, as they are in themselves out of Christ.
Rev. 2 and 3. set before us a general history of the church in the world, the ecclesiastical course of things in its salient features, as it presented itself, not only together as in John's day, but successively since then till the Lord come. These churches become, as we may see especially in Thyatira, a birth-place of evil that God had to judge; and judgment in a certain sense goes down to the end. It is not merely judging this or that evil as it came out; but the state of the church was such that God must kill (chap. 2:23). “But to you I say, the rest (or remnant) in Thyatira, as many have not this doctrine, those which have not known the depths of Satan, &c.” The eye of faith is turned, not to look for anything good where they were, but to hold fast what they had till Christ should come.
And here we find a double aspect as regards the saints. Judgment of the quick and power over the nations refer to Psa. 2 It is a judgment on the living, not on the dead, which of course excludes anything national. Men will present in that day a picture like the days of Lot, when they were surprised by the divine vengeance in the midst of all their wickedness. This thought when received lays hold of the conscience more than the yet distant fact of the judgment of the dead at the end.
For men are apt, else, to flatter themselves that the world goes on beautifully, eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage. But sudden judgment comes from on high. The world has been thus judged once by the flood; but it will be again when He comes Whose right it is, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those that know not God, and on those that obey not the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8).
Are any saints to be troubled at that thought? They ought not to be; for their hope is His coming and their gathering unto Him, as the apostle says. This takes away all such fear or perturbation of mind. In that day He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be wondered at in all them that believed. Even now they are one with Christ, and at His appearing they will be associated with the Judge. They will be caught up to meet Him in order to be displayed with Him. Those that through grace are brought to acknowledge themselves sinners and are justified by faith will then be manifestly, as they are now really, associated with the Lord Jesus. So we read here (1): “and he that overcometh and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of a potter are broken to pieces; as I also have received of My Father” (vers. 26, 27). But there is (2) the higher and deeper blessedness also in verse 23, “and I will give him the morning star.”
It is in brief what we find elsewhere. They are in fact the two great subjects in the word, next to Christ and His work: in the O.T. the government of the world in righteousness; in the N. T. the church's union and heavenly glory with Christ, after His rejection on earth. When Christ takes the kingdom, evil will be set aside; now Satan reigns. The effect of faithfulness, till God's peat power is taken (Rev. 11:15-18) to put evil aside, is that the follower of Christ has to take up his cross, says the Lord. Hence all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution for it, says the apostle Paul; or as Peter, If when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable (grace) with God. We have to swim against the stream till the power of God's world-kingdom comes: then the stream will flow aright. This is at the appearing of the Lord when His power overwhelms all adversaries.
But in the bright and morning star we have the heavenly character of His coming. “And I will give him the morning star,” that is, I will give the Christian Myself in this way before the day. The morning star is seen before sunrise by such as watch. When the sun rises, every eye shall see Him; and manifest blessing and peace shall follow the execution of judgment. But Christ gives Himself to the overcomer before the day. If we are to appear with Him in glory, we must be with Him in order to appear; we follow Him out of heaven after being caught up (Rev. 17:14, 19:14).
Let me put it to any good conscience—Is this world what God would have it? Assuredly those are to be pitied who are ignorantly, vainly, trying to improve it; as if man could mend a state which is the consequence of sin, and of sin rising up more and more from Adam to the cross of Christ! The Lord is now exercising grace, not judgment; as the gospel He sends to every creature best proves. He lets the world go on. There are on the one hand signs of a good and wise God; there is on the other hand a state of utter moral confusion in the world. But faith sees another thing: the saints' association with Christ, not only by the Spirit now, but actually by His coming for them before He is manifested He will give us the “morning star.” The believer even now has the light of life in Christ, a child of light and of day (1 Thess. 5:5). We are not of night nor of darkness, but belong to that day. Therefore should we be watching for the “morning star.” So in Rev. 22:16, the moment Christ says, “I am the bright and morning star,” the Spirit and the bride say, Come.
But there remains the solemn truth that “the day” will come with sudden destruction on sinners unawares. Such is the solemn testimony as to the world. The risen Lord will judge the (habitable) world in righteousness, as the apostle told the Athenians (Acts 17.). Beyond doubt the day will come when lie shall appear in glory and we together with Him from heaven. But 2 Peter 1:19 speaks of more even now, day dawning and the day star arising in the heart. It is the present possession of the heavenly hope, which might be lacking, even when prophecy was known. Christ will reign in that day, and I shall reign with Him at that time, as the lamp of prophecy discloses; evil will be put down by the Lord, and the world will be set up for divine blessing universally. In the meantime has the heavenly light of the gospel day dawned on me since I believed? Has Christ arisen as a heavenly hope on my heart?
Alas in Sardis we hear of a name to live and yet dead (the world valued, and the works incomplete, not any terrible corruption, such as we see in Thyatira). If you that hear me have a name to live, is Christ the power of your life? Those who have a name to live and are dead are treated like the world, though called the church. “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” But if Christ is your life, you are not of the world, even as He is not. How sad for professors of Christ to be threatened as the world is in 1 Thess. 5:2! If any say, Why? Am I not as good a Christian as you? I answer, Is there such a result of your Christianity that Christ is the power of your life? If not, having a name to live, you are dead; and that day of the Lord will overtake you as a thief in the night.
Very different is the word in Rev. 3:7-13, which comes to those that have but little strength. Weak as they were, they had kept Christ's word and had not denied His name. This is what pleases God in a day of superstition and infidelity: Christ's word in a world where even professing Christians have departed from it; Christ's name not denied, when humanitarianism prevails. God had revealed, and still in some hearts maintains the truth in the midst of ever rising evil. “Because thou hast kept &c., I will also keep thee (not merely from the judicial day that overhangs men, but) from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world (οἰκ) to try them that dwell on the earth.” Are you then keeping the word of His patience? Christ is waiting, and so should we be waiting. I must walk, and worship, and wait like a person that does not belong to the world, in communion with Christ.
The soul that believes judges sin in God's light, and with the Psalmist says, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant,” for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. He by grace is justified. by faith. In the day of judgment God will no longer allow sin to go on, but openly punish it. Suppose the Lord sitting on the great white throne, and saying there is not one righteous man, would you stand up there and affirm that you are righteous? No, you could not. But you do not tremble, because the day of judgment is not come yet for either quick or dead. But such unbelief shows that you are in a deplorable state; and God does not deceive any by allowing one to think he can he saved in his sins. Have you eternal life in the Son of God? He that believes God concerning His Son has that life, and is passed from death into life. Have you ever seen yourself guilty and dead in sins, as His word says, in the presence of God?
But it speaks to us also of a dying Savior. This is what first awakened me: my Savior died for me, and I could go and amuse myself! Light from God gets into the soul that sees the Son, and tells me what I am. For what did Christ come the first time? He came to save the lost, to meet God's judgment of sin for such as believe before the day of judgment. If Christ had first come into this world now, what company would He keep? Would He seek and move amongst the respectable, the moneyed people? He did nothing of the kind: they are like the Pharisees who derided Him. Christ only went where people wanted Him, to those who felt they were lost. Do you want Christ because you are lost? Do you want cleansing from your sins? He came to seek and to save the lost. Thus you may find God meeting you in love. When one's eye rests on Christ, one says, That is what I want. I want such an One as my sin bearer; I could not be saved if He were not the propitiation for sins. Now this is one thing you do not possess if you do not know Christ; namely, that your sins are all blotted out before God.
If I look at the life of Christ, I cannot find one thing He did for Himself. What have you been doing all your life? One finds the whole principle of fallen man is self, instead of love to others. O what a hateful thing is self will! If you reply, I know and feel it is hateful to God and to myself; but I cannot get rid of it. Well, I rejoice, that Christ has done so before ever the day of judgment comes. For in unspeakable grace He has suffered for your sins; and in His cross God condemned sin in the flesh on your behalf. Thus in Christ God Himself has stepped in and settled the whole question. Therefore is Christ sitting at the right hand of God. Behold your victory in Him risen (1 Cor. 15:57). Are my sins on Him there? No, but effaced forever. Yea, according to Eph. 2:6, I am risen with Him and am seated in the heavenlies in Him.
Christ first convinces me of sin, and then shows me sins all remitted forever (Heb. 10.). In 2 Cor. 7-9 we read, “But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.” The glory of God in the face of Moses was only a reflection.
If the Lord were to come in the light of His glory to search every thought of my heart, I could not bear it. Where is His glory? Was it only in the face of Moses, the ministration of condemnation searching my sin out? No! the glory is in the face of Jesus Christ. This very glory shows me my sins gone, and myself in Christ—one spirit with the Lord. I am not afraid of looking at His glory there, but can let it shine into me. Christ Who knew no sin was made sin for me, that I might become God's righteousness in Him. He is on high, sitting at God's right hand; there is God's righteousness revealed; and the Holy Ghost came down to reveal it. His ministration of righteousness is entirely out of myself. Christ of God is made to rue righteousness, as He sits now at the right hand of God. how well I know that Christ loves me! I hear in His cry—My God, My God, why didst Thou forsake Me?—God's solemn judgment of sin: and I know it is all gone for me from God's eyes, because I believe the witnesses of His pierced side, the water and the blood that have cleansed me. It is a searching work to make me judge myself in all evil; because I know Christ has been judged for me, that I should not be condemned with the world which despised Him and neglects so great salvation.
In vain you talk of rules to order the walk aright; for these do not, cannot, give power. Law is a sharp accuser, but a helpless friend. Faith looks, calls, and listens to God against the evil that is in my nature. Till I knew deliverance, I could only cry to God to appear for me against indwelling evil. But now I know He has executed sentence on it in the cross of Christ. My heart is knit to Him in peace and liberty. I can delight in the hope of the presence of my Savior, because He is coming to receive me to himself; and I can love His appearing, when all adversaries shall be put down, and righteousness flourish even in the desert, and peace reign everywhere.

Scripture Sketches: Religio Medici

THE Gospel of Luke and its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles, are unique in this—that they are books of important historical events, in many of which the writer took part; yet the writer never once alludes to himself as having done or witnessed anything whatever—does not even mention his own name or existence; and the only way in which he allows us to hear of his presence is where he changes the pronoun occasionally from “they” to “we." This is a kind of modesty altogether unexampled in literature, and indeed is only to be accounted for on the ground of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Of course, when we admit a writing to be inspired, we cannot very well either praise or blame the human writer for the nature of it. He is merely an instrument in the hand of the divine Author, Who is absolutely responsible. Yet it is very beautiful to see with what delicacy and propriety the inspired scriptures have been written by their human authors. Each has his different style too: that of Luke is admired by scholars for its “classic and flexible Greek.”
One sign of the essential brutality of the Roman rule was the low place they assigned to those who sought to cure, in contrast with the high honors paid to those whose mission was to slay. With the Greeks it was not so, but with all the western nations to the present time we observe the same principle. Earldoms, Dukedoms, Blenheims, Apsley Houses, and thousands on thousands a year are heaped upon successful naval and military men; whilst Harveys, Hunters, Simpsons, and Jenners, who have done more to alleviate human suffering than even those have done to inflict it, dieunnobled—sometimes in poverty and obscurity. But this anomaly was very much greater in ancient Rome, where anyone above the plebeians considered it beneath his dignity to be a physician and consequently had one of his slaves, often a Greek or Egyptian, trained to doctoring, and would sometimes set him free if his treatment were successful.
This however could not have been very often, except by accident, if we may judge by the prescriptions which have come down to us. Even in comparatively recent times (I quote a distinguished physician), “sick people were made to swallow burnt toads, and powdered earth-worms, and the expressed juice of wood-lice.” We read in history that, when Charles II. was dying, they dosed him with “a loathsome volatile salt extracted from human skulls. Hot irons were applied to his head. Fourteen doctors tortured him for some hours like an Indian at a stake.” Such considerations as these help us to understand the otherwise surprising fact that when Paul, speaking in the period of the iron Roman rule, mentions that Luke was a physician, “the beloved physician” scholars instantly surmise that he may have been a freed slave. Though he belonged to an honorable profession, it was then by no means an honored one. And here again, we find the dignity of Christianity which ignores and rises far above local prejudices, narrow caste-hatreds, and class antipathies. Matthew is a tax collector; Zenas a lawyer; Luke a physician; Philemon a “capitalist,” and Onesimus a slave.
Luke had been with the disciples from the very first, an eye-witness and minister of the Word; and he wrote two long important canonical scriptures. Yet had it not been that the apostle Paul in his Epistles makes honorable and affectionate mention of his services, we should not have known of his existence: so completely had he kept his own name and personality out of the record of a long series of the most important events in the world's history, in the whole of which events he had been more or less personally concerned. Let us consider this fact for a moment. Competent judges have said that the finest biography in the world was Boswell's Life of Johnson, and that it was so chiefly because the writer had so completely merged his own individuality in that of the sage whom he was so faithfully portraying that he never places himself but always his leader in a favorable light, and only makes himself a foil to reveal the wisdom and capacity of the subject of his biography. Boswell often stands in so humiliating an aspect that his son was ashamed of the book and would have prevented its being reprinted had he been able. Yet it is certain that Boswell had no thought that he had made any ridiculous appearance in the pages where his vanity urged him to obtrude himself so frequently.
Now contrast this with a memoir like that of Luke's Gospel and Acts, where the writer never suggests his own existence at all, except where he changes the pronoun. But contrast Luke's record especially with the records of writers belonging to his own time. Take for instance Josephus, who commences his Jewish histories by telling us what a highly respectable family he himself came from, and how exceedingly clever and good-looking he was when he was a boy. It is an essential of Paley's great argument on the evidences of Christianity that the first disciples were not fanatical men nor enthusiasts. And certainly their writings stand out as the most sober and modestly constructed that are in the world.
But the fact of chief interest concerning Luke is contained in the last letter which Paul wrote just before being put to death. He had written to the Colossians a short time previously an epistle in which he incidentally mentions that he is in prison at Rome and that “Luke, the beloved physician,” Demas, Aristarchus, and one or two others were with him. “These only are my fellow-workers, unto the kingdom of God,” he says, “which have been a comfort unto me.” These circumstances were terribly low for them, to be in the center of civilization after thirty years of incessant labors and sufferings to promulgate Christianity. But after a time even these last few fellow-workers were scattered. Some had been called away by duty or by death, and others like Demas had fallen away from the truth. The assemblies which still existed were getting either lukewarm like the Laodiceans, or legal and contentious like the Galatians, where they spent their time adjusting, in the method of angry theologians the respective rights of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Everything was discouraging to the last degree. It is nothing to be in a small minority at the beginning of a testimony: for every true principle “begins in a minority of one,” and carries with it hope, which is the birth-right of youth. But when a testimony has been proclaimed and in a measure accepted; next neglected, discredited, and deserted by its own advocates; then all is discouragement, dragged down by disappointment which is the weary burden of age.
In that day of disastrous failure, and horrible despondency, Luke in his quiet and modest obscurity, “true as the dial to the sun, although it be not shined upon,” still faithfully kept his ground, like that nameless sentinel of Pompeii who refused to leave his post when the ruins of his city were falling around him. Paul writes in his last lines, “only Luke is with me.” And these are indeed affecting words, bringing before our minds the two old scholars, in the center of the vast world-empire standing alone for the testimony of God and truth, with their bodies battered and withered by sufferings and labors, and their souls filled with the love of Christ.
We read of one who when the whole creation is collapsing shall lift up his head, and “the darkening universe defy to quench his immortality, or shake his trust in God.” After Varro's disastrous defeat, the Roman senate showed the mettle of their stern and resolute spirit, by voting to him (though he was their political enemy) their thanks, “because he had not despaired of the commonwealth.” And now there was one standing amongst them, whose nature they might have appreciated, had he not been too obscure for them to have known. Though we can think indeed of no defiant attitude in connection with Luke, we can see him there to the very last in his quiet, patient, dogged fidelity, “too kind for bitter word to grieve, too firm for clamor to dismay “—going on, as the French General Foy's men went to their great defeat, “with little hope, but with no fear.”

Be Baptised and Wash Away Thy Sins

Q. Would you kindly explain, “be baptized, and wash away thy sins,” in Acts 22:16?
B. G.
A.-It is not all that a soul should by grace believe the gospel. The Lord enjoins the outward act of baptism, as the appointed and standing sign of burial to His death, in subjection to His name. He that would refuse it on principle despises Christ and His work. On the other hand, he that has no more than submitted to the sign has only an external name before men, and no real intrinsic part in the privileges he claims, which is inseparable from faith, without which millions have been baptized in vain. See Mark 16:16. The apostles, he., were told to baptize, as they did: and even Paul was baptized by a simple disciple. But it is a grave fact for system-makers, that scripture is silent about the twelve themselves. There is no ground to believe that one of them was the subject of Christian baptism. Some or all may have been baptized by John; but his baptism was quite distinct, as we see in Acts 19.

Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 4

WHEN grace interposes to bless God's people in any real way, after just chastisement of sin and even universal departure, faith surely appreciates His mercy but ought not to forget the wrong done His name and the ruin of His people as a whole. True and holy intelligence, as it ever looks on Christ and the glory of God in His own, cannot rest in partial blessing, and feels just humiliation, while the mass of His people are scattered and the gathered are short of what His majesty justly calls for. Self-satisfaction, even where most is enjoyed, is unworthy of Him. How deeply the Lord felt this! “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you”? This lack of sense of ruin, and feebleness in applying the light of glory to judge self and the present even at its best, we have to feel, and to seek the moral mind of the Lord; and this was the great want of old. Nor did the fruit fail to appear.
But there were difficulties from without also in those that aped the ways of God's people, and claimed their relationship without reality.
“And the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the sons of the captivity were building a temple to Jehovah the God of Israel; and they came to Zerubbabel and to the chief fathers, and said to them, Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as ye; and we have sacrificed to him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assyria who brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the chief fathers of Israel said to them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house to our God; but we alone will build to Jehovah the God of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, hath commanded us. And the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius [Darjavesh] king of Persia.
“And in the reign of Ahasuerus [Ahashverosh] in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
“And in the reign of Artaxerxes [Artahshashta], wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in Aramaic and interpreted in Aramaic.
“Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort: Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dinaites, the Apharsachites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsitos, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shusanchites, the Dehaites, the Elamites, and the rest of the peoples whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over and set in the city of Samaria and the rest [of the land] beyond the river, and so forth. This [is] the copy of the letter that they sent unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men beyond the river, and so forth. Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee are come to us unto Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and the bad city, and have finished the walls, and repaired the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and in the end will damage the kings. Now because we eat the salt of the palace, and it is not meet for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore have we sent and certified the king; that search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city [is] a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city laid waste. We certify the king that, if this city be builded, and the walls finished, by this means thou shalt have no portion beyond the river. [Then] sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and [to [ the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the river, Peace, and so forth. The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. And I decreed, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein. There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all [the country] beyond the river; and tribute, custom, and toll, was paid unto them. Make ye now a decree to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until a decree shall be made by me. And take heed that ye be not slack herein: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? Then when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem; and it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia” (vers. 1-24).
The opening words of the Holy Spirit reveal the snare. Whatever the specious advances of the people of the land, they were not God's people but adversaries of Judah and Benjamin. Their movement was of the enemy, and this Zerubbabel and the other chiefs at once perceived and refused. It was no question of friendly feeling, or of catholic sentiment, but of God and His will. It may have been politic to plead the command of Cyrus the Persian; but God's people are strongest when in their weakness they stand solely on the word of God, however glad to know that Cyrus knew and owned the charge of the God of heaven to build Him a house in Jerusalem. They drew their motive from Himself, Who has all hearts in His keeping, moving one to forward His will and letting others oppose it for the trial of faith in His people.
And the weakness of the leaders showed itself still more in the people, who were troubled, or terrified from building for many a day. Yet the enemy could only delay, not frustrate, their purpose, which was of God. But the effort went on from the days of Cyrus till Darius Hystaspis resigned. Verses 6, 7, speak accordingly but in brief of the accusation in the reign of Cyrus' son and successor Cambyses. Verses 7-23 detail the more successful device in the days of the Pseudo-Smerdis, the Magian usurper, who personated the true Smerdis, Cyrus' younger son whom Cambyses had got dispatched. It was really an effort of the Medes to recover the ascendancy in the kingdomwhich the Persians had enjoyed since Cyrus. After little more than seven months the false Smerdis or Artaxerxes of our chapter was assassinated, the Magians in general were massacred, and Darius Hystaspis, one of the highest of the Persian nobles, obtained the kingdom. This may serve to explain why the impostor, ignorant of the policy of Cyrus, lent so ready an ear against it; and why under God he who was in accord with the great king inquired gravely into the truth and adhered to the measures which honored the God and people of Israel.
In their prime duty of separateness to God as His people the chiefs were firm. It was in vain for these heathen to seek fellowship. “For they feared Jehovah, and served their own gods after the manner of the nations whence they had been carried away.” With professed fear of Jehovah “they served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day” (2 Kings 17:33, 45). Impossible that the true God could consent to a partnership with false objects of worship, behind which were demons; and never would Judah and Benjamin, even though ever so feeble a remnant, abandon their special honor as His chosen, till His love and glory were nothing in their eyes. People ignorant or incredulous may brand faith in His word and the bond between Him and His own as narrow and presumptuous and uncharitable; but those that value the truth justly feel that relationship with Him is necessarily exclusive. It may be of fleshly descent, as of old; or of the Spirit in honor of Christ as now; but it must and ought to shut out all whom God does not own as His according to His goodness revealed then or now. Not that God did not of old show His mercy to strangers; and now more than ever in the gospel He sends His glad tidings to every creature under heaven. But He never did and never will consent to merge in one those who are His and those who are not; and of all strangers none so offensive in His eyes as those who professing that they know Him serve the enemy. The great test now is to confess Jesus. This is to bring the doctrine of Christ come in flesh. Only such have truth, life, or holiness. To abide in the doctrine of Christ is to have both the Father and the Son: more or better none can have. Those who bring not that doctrine do not guard themselves from idols; nor will such as know the truth accredit but avoid them. The principle is the same then and now: only the character differs, because the Son is come, and God has given us His Spirit as could not be before redemption.
Whether the world oppose, or the world sanction, this is a question of providential circumstances: the believer is bound to obey God; if the world interpose or persecute, he has to suffer. But he is on the earth to do God's will, and if hindered by force can await His time. God's word is the expression of His will; as the Holy Spirit is sent forth from heaven to give it effect in the hearts of His children. Nor are the gifts of the Lord (Eph. 4:1) withheld, save those which laid the foundation, but given in His faithful love, evangelists, pastors and teachers &c., for the perfecting of the saints, unto ministerial work, unto edifying or building up the body of Christ. There is gracious power assured, and no excuse for disobedience. For God is faithful, Who suffers not His children to be tempted above what they are able.
But there was timidity then through want of faith. The Jews were terrified, and flagged long before their adversaries succeeded in getting the usurper's prohibition. Compare Hag. 1:1-4. They had soon the sanction of the civil power revoked; and their adversaries had only ill-will till a king arose who knew pot Isaiah's prophecy. Yet were they deterred from the work while they themselves forgot or slighted the word of Jehovah. Nor was it the world's smile or authority which renewed their courage and recalled them to His work. But for explaining this we await the chapter that follows.

Song of Solomon 4

HERE it is the voice of the Bridegroom to His earthly bride, and so a wholly different strain from the rehearsal of experience just before. He lets her know fully what she was in His eyes, her beauty, and this in detail (vers. 1-8). Then in vers. 7-15 he tells her that she was all fair and no spot in her, though from the haunts of danger and death. With this, though of course in another style of grace suited to the case, we may compare what Jehovah compelled the heathen prophet to declare of Israel in Num. 23. and 24. Here it is the expression, not of separation to Himself and justification and goodly power and glory, but of tender affection and all read in this light.
“Behold, thou [art] fair, my love; behold, thou [art] fair;
Thine eyes [are] doves behind thy veil;
Thy hair [is] as a flock of goats
That appears on the side of mount Gilead.
Thy teeth [are] like a flock of shorn [ewe
Which go up from the washing,
Which have all borne twins,
And none bereaved among them.
Thy lips [are] like a thread of scarlet,
And thy speech comely.
As a piece of a pomegranate [are] thy temples
Behind thy veil.
Thy neck [is] like the tower of David Built for an 'armory:
A thousand bucklers hang thereon,
All shields of mighty men.
Thy two breasts [are] like two fawns, twins of a gazelle,
Which feed among the lilies.
Until the day dawn (or, be cool) and the shadows See away.
I will get me to the mountain of myrrh,
And to the hill of frankincense.
Thou [art] all fair, my love and [there is] no spot in thee.
With me from Lebanon, spouse, with me from Lebanon;
Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon,
From the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister spouse;
Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes,
With one chain of thy neck.
How fair is thy love, my sister spouse!
How much better is thy love than wine,
And the fragrance of thine ointment than all spices!
Thy lips, spouse, drop honeycomb;
Honey and milk [are] under thy tongue;
And the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
A garden shut up is my sister spouse,
A spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
Thy shoots [are] an orchard of pomegranates with precious fruits
Henna with spikenard; plants; spikenard and saffron;
Calamus and cinnamon with all trees of frankincense;
Myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters,
Which stream from Lebanon.
Awake, north wind, and come, south;
Blow upon my garden [that] the spices thereof may flow forth.
Let my beloved come into his garden
And eat his [or, its] precious fruits” (vers.1-16).
It is the expression of Christ's love which by the Spirit forms divine affections in the saints. We may see it in all the Gospels, but especially in that of John, and nowhere there so strikingly as in chaps. 13-17. This “Song” is the divine word, which the Spirit, as He has used the principle for all who have pondered these communications to profit, will afresh apply in a still more exact and immediate way to the godly remnant that will succeed us in the dealings of God's grace. The love which so feels and speaks to its object, whatever this may be, has transforming power on all that have faith in Him, and enables those who are so loved to witness in their measure a good confession of Him. The right faith is that we worship; and none ought to know and feel this so deeply as the Christian and the church; to whom the love of Christ is now revealed in a form and power altogether exceptional; as indeed we need it to suffer unflinchingly with Him, while we wait for His coming.

Morsels From Family Records: 2. 1 Chronicles 1-6

May be attentively read with much profit. The Spirit in chap. 2. first presents the parentage of David, while in chap. 3:10-16 the kings of Judah are given down to the captivity.
The line of the high priests from Aaron unto the captivity is given in 1 Chron. 6:3-15, with the exception of Eli and his descendants. These latter were descended from Ithamar (1 Chron. 24:3), but the curse from God rested on the house of Eli (1 Sam. 2:29-34):-
“Their priests fell by the sword;
And their widows made no lamentation.”
Sheshan married his daughter to his servant Jarha, an Egyptian, and their children were reckoned with Israel (1 Chron. 2:34-41). On the other hand Mered the son of Ezra married Bithiah, the daughter of Pharash (chap. 4:17, 18), and had sons. Had Joseph's wise advice been followed (Gen. 46:33, 34) as years rolled on, there had not been these mixed marriages. Manasseh and Ephraim do not appear to have ever aspired to become nobles in Egypt. Before Beriah was born, it had gone evil with the house of Ephraim, whose posterity is named down to Joshua, who led Israel on to victory in the Land of Promise (chap. 7:20-27).
The prayer of Jabez (chap. 4:9, 10) has made his name famous. Who was Jabez? And from whom descended? No connecting link is given in chap. 4. to show that he was born of Judah; in the midst of whose family register his name suddenly appears. Was that “coast,” which the Lord enlarged in answer to his prayer, called after himself? If so, chap. 2:55 favors the impression that he was of the family of the Kenites, who were the descendants of Hohab, a Cushite, who came with Israel at Moses' express invitation (Num. 10:29), and his children dwelt among the people of Judah (Judg. 1:16). A Kenite could not claim a portion in Israel, on the ground that he was of Israel; yet he might call on the God of Israel, and ask to be blessed with Israel.
To 1 Chron. 6:33, 38 we are indebted for clearly establishing the fact that Heman, the central one of the three leading singers of Israel (compare verses 33, 39, 44) was the grandson of the prophet Samuel; and that both were descendants of that very man Korah, who led the great rebellion in the wilderness. The children of Dathan and Abiram went down with their parents alive into the pit. “Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not” (Num. 26:11). These appear to have left their father alone in his wickedness; and of the sons of the very man that disputed the authority of Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, came that prophet who spake unto Israel, and said, “It is Jehovah that advanced Moses and Aaron, &c.” (1 Sam. 12:6, 8).
Many of the Psalms are expressly dedicated “To the sons of Korah,” of whom, in the days of David, Heman was the leading representative. He had a numerous family (1 Chron. 25:5).
The sons of Moses “the man of God” could not, like their brethren the sons of Aaron, officiate as priests. They were named of the tribe of Levi (1 Chron. 23:14-17). During David's reign, “Shebuel the son of Gershom,” Moses' eldest son, was “ruler of the treasures “; while Shelomith, descended from Moses' second son, was, with his brethren, the custodian of “all the treasures of the dedicated things,” given expressly for the maintenance of the house of Jehovah (1 Chron. 26:24-28). The honorable position they were privileged to occupy, in David's kingdom, enables us to point to the sons of Moses as a striking example of the fulfillment of that gracious promise, “The children of Thy servants shall continue; their seed shall be established before thee.”
Nor were “the sons of the stranger” overlooked at a time when the Lord so bountifully blessed Israel. For the Spirit of God, “when He writeth up the people,” graciously includes in the list of David's mighty men, Zelek the Ammonite (1 Chron. 11:39), Uriah the Hittite (verse 41), and Ithmah the Moabite (verse 46). In this connection we would also mention the name of Ittai the Gittite, whose faithfulness to David, when a fugitive (2 Sam. 15:19-23), rebuked an ungrateful nation, and was rewarded by his being made one of the chief commanders of David's army (2 Sam. 18:2). Honorable mention is also made of Oman the Jebusite, who readily offered to give his threshing-floor, oxen, and implements, to his acknowledged sovereign lord the king of Israel (1 Chron. 21:18-28).

The Comfort of the Scriptures: 3

WHILE the scriptural narratives, as has already been indicated, afford a rich supply of comfort to the believing soul, the divine precepts and instructions are equally full of consolation. To this effect the sweet singer of Israel thought and wrote: “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me” (Psa. 119:49, 50).
The reason why the word of God produces this blessed result is not far to seek. Since, in contrast to the imperfect, not to say impracticable, philosophies of mankind, it sets the sorrows and trials of this life in their true and proper character, shedding the light of heaven upon the gloom of earth. For all mere human efforts to comfort, apart from God and the truth, are inefficient because more or less ignorant. And the failure is the more apparent in proportion to the bitterness of the trial to be faced. This is shown in the history of Job. His three friends were evidently sincere in their regard for the sufferer, and anxious to serve him in the hour of his sorrow. But the cause of the patriarch's affliction completely baffled them. They failed to understand how such a perfect and upright man, as Job was, should be so very severely tried. Hence, after seven days' silence, by their insinuations and misrepresentations they caused that patient man to exclaim in the bitterness of his soul, “Miserable comforters, are ye all.” They might have been of service if his were an ordinary case; but when an eminently righteous man was stripped of every earthly possession in an unexampled manner, their tongues were dumb. Not comprehending in any degree the ways of God with His own, they caused Job to feel, by their false and unworthy suggestions, their utter inability to help him and threw him back on God Himself. So that eventually he said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5).
It is thus patent that in the deepest and keenest of the sorrows of the human heart, there were none to sympathize, none to cheer, had not Christ been sent “to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:2, 3).
But when the Lord of glory came, He declared what sounded strangely enough in mere human ears. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). The fact was, however, that the sweetness of the consolation administered by that Blessed One more than equaled the bitterness of the sorrow which called it forth. In this strain wrote one of God's suffering saints, “I protest in the presence of that all-discerning Eye Who knoweth what I write and what I think, that I would not want the sweet experience of the consolations of God, for all the bitterness of affliction; nay, whether God come to His children with a rod or a crown, if He come Himself with it, it is well. Welcome, welcome, Jesus, what way soever Thou come, if we can get a sight of Thee.”
It is noticeable in the ways of the Lord here below, that before removing the cause of a person's grief by His mighty power, He bestowed a word of cheer for the assurance and support of the soul. Thus, when He met the funeral procession issuing from the gates of Nain, carrying forth that widow's only son, He did not proceed at once to raise him to life. But when the Lord saw the grief-stricken woman, “He had compassion on her,” and banished her tears by His compassionate words “Weep not.” The words were effectual, for they were not the formal utterance of some shallow-minded unfeeling mortal; but they came from the lips and heart of the One Who Himself wept at the grave of Lazarus. He was able to enter into and fully appreciate the inward pangs of her heart as no other could. Bereft of adequate human sympathy, this in itself was as balm to her wounded soul. Besides, there was not only exquisite compassion in the words of Jesus, but power and promise and hope. He was able not only to comfort in the very presence of tribulation, but to deliver out of it. (Compare 2 Cor. 1:3-10.) The divine voice, that first of all spoke peace to the troubled heart of the bereaved widow, spoke life to the dead youth upon the bier. “And He came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still, And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother” (Luke 7:12-15).
Again, when blank despair was settling on the heart of Jairus at the tidings of his little daughter's decease, the Master's words were “Fear not, believe only, and she shall be made whole” (Luke 8:50). Before announcing her restoration, He graciously soothed the agonized feelings of the newly bereaved father by His sympathizing and encouraging words “Fear not.” So, too, before stilling the storm, His voice was heard amid the howling of the tempest, bidding His timorous disciples “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matt. 14:27) It is well, therefore, for us to learn that the Lord not only delivers the godly out of their troubles, but supports them by His word in the very midst of them.
And because this “comfort of the scriptures” is ever available in the very hour of sorrow, it thereby becomes of untold value to the saint of God. Human comfort is sometimes liberally administered when the trial is over and gone. In the case of Job we find him left alone in the hour of his grief, save for his “friends” whose offices were more irritating than soothing. But when Jehovah “turned the captivity of Job” and gave him “twice as much as before,” we read, “Then came there unto him all his brethren and all his sisters and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and they bemoaned him and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him; every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an ear-ring of gold” (Job 42:11). Such comfort as this may do for fine weather but is useless in a storm.
And the experience of Job is by no means unexampled, as most can testify from their own histories. But what sorrowing saint ever consulted the scriptures in faith and sought in vain for cheer and support? There the blessed Lord ever lives and speaks before the eyes and ears of His people. There we have the incomparable fact of God manifest in flesh upon earth, in the very midst of a world like ours. There we see His manhood bringing Him into daily contact with the abundant sorrows of this vale of tears; yet the glory of His Godhead outshining and forbidding us to think of Him as altogether such a one as ourselves. Hence nothing more quickly calms the troubled spirit than a reverent consideration of that Man of Sorrows Who “Himself rook our infirmities and bore our sicknesses,” of that Divine Word Who, while tabernacling among men, began to do what He will more perfectly accomplish in due time—to wipe away all tears from off all faces.
It has been said that the great essential feature of comfort is substantiality; in order to be effective, it must have a solid and permanent basis. And this basis our God has given us in His Son. For what can be more changeless than He Who is “the same yesterday and to-day and forever?” And in this we are privileged beyond saints of Old Testament days. They hung upon promises—upon what God had said He would do. But now grace and truth has come by Jesus Christ. In Him God was and is manifested in all the fullness and tenderness of His love, so that no sorrow can withstand His presence. There we see divine tears welling forth from human eyes, for His interest and sympathy in the sorrows of mankind were those, not of a man only, but of God Himself.
It is painful to think that there are those who at this very day, are teaching that the Ineffable Son “beggared Himself of divine prerogatives,” and became no more than a man. No more than a man! Alas! alas! For the universal experience is, that there is no man, no, not one, in whom we can implicitly trust and confide. It was not at the feet of a mere man, but of the Omniscient Man that sorrowing and contrite Peter threw himself. To no other but Jesus could he have said, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17).
It is worthy of remark that after alluding to the “consolation in Christ,” the “comfort of love,” the apostle by the Spirit proceeds at once to unfold the essential glories of Christ's person in a most striking way (Phil. 2). Thus is the condition of our hearts bound up most closely with the majesty and dignity of the Person of our Lord.
( To be continued, D.V.)

Hebrews 11:11-12

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, at this point of setting before us the worthies of faith, to present the lesson taught by a woman who had learned from God. And it is the more instructive to us, as perhaps no one without the inspired comment would have drawn it from the inspired text. We are quick to discern failure. It needs great grace to appreciate a little grace. How slow to admonish the disorderly, to encourage the fainthearted, to support the weak, to be long-suffering to all!
“By faith also Sarah herself received power for deposition of seed even beyond seasonable age, since she counted him that promised faithful. Wherefore of one, and that become dead, were begotten even as the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the innumerable sand that is by the seashore” (Heb. 11:11-12).
Here is made good the fresh victory of faith. It surmounted utter weakness aggravated by lapse of time far beyond the due age; and on both sides, though the mother is named in the first place, and the father described so as to heighten the wonder of such an overflowing progeny from one as good as dead. If any looked at the parties concerned, if they considered themselves or each other, there were the amplest materials for doubt. And it is evident from the history in Genesis 17, that even Abraham at first had no confidence to boast in an accomplishment so unprecedented, and prayed at that very time that Ishmael might live before God.
Sarah, however, persisted longer in her unbelief; and when Jehovah at a subsequent day set a time for Sarah to have a son, she laughed incredulously and stood gravely reproved—the more because she denied it. But all this makes the grace of God so marked and cheering, as we find an entire oblivion of these early failures, and the later triumph alone here recorded. How undeniable the proof that He loves to speak well of His own! “Is anything too hard for Jehovah”? He overthrew all the thoughts and reasonings of her mind. Her doubts, her equivocations, deepened her self-judgment. His own word carried its own convincing light along with it; henceforward she “counted Him that promised faithful.” Abraham appears to have been peaceful in faith before the turning point came for his wife. But come it did; and God singles it out for the permanent blessing of souls, tried with doubts as she had long been, that they may rest as she at length did on the word of Him Who cannot lie.
And it may be added that, if ever a people passed through difficulties and dangers, distresses and destructions, calculated and planned to defeat the promise of God, even on the comparative narrow question of their numbers, it was the lot of the Jews. Who knows not the express design and cherished policy of nations great and small, near and far off, often reappearing in the ages, to cut them off from being a people? But even when the power of Rome took away their place, scattering them as captives over the earth, it could not absolutely destroy their nation. Long, long have they abode without king and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim. Yet scattered though they be after this anomalous sort, they are perhaps as numerous as ever. Not yet indeed have they returned into the land of their possession; they are in the city of refuge grace has provided for them, however little they think so or understand His way with them. But the day hastens when, freed from their pollution of blood, they shall look on Him Whom they pierced, and be planted in the land that Jehovah gave their fathers, and their blessings be as countless as themselves in that day. For He is faithful that promised. “Thus saith Jehovah, If ye can break My covenant of the day and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David My servant, and the Levites that minister unto Me.”
That Abraham now has children spiritually in Christians is quite true, as the Epistle to the Galatians demonstrates; but that God has cut off His ancient people, Rom. 11 expressly and solemnly denies. His word on which we rest by faith is no less faithful for Israel by-and-by, whom He will surely restore and bless nationally, and through them all nations. Psa. 67 teaches it with a crowd of other scriptures, whatever Gentile casuists may argue to the contrary.

The Fall of Man

Gen. 3:6
The woman then was beguiled, quite beguiled as we are told in 1 Tim. 2:14, and so became involved in transgression; but what of man? Of him we hear not a word in the colloquy of the serpent and Eve. The same N. T. authority assures us that he was not deceived: with his eyes open, he transgressed, swayed by his affection for his wife. It was deliberate disobedience on his part, not here thoughtlessness, or deceived as the weaker vessel by a mightier and subtle rebel; for both and their posterity it was ruin and death, to man irreparable.
Let us then weigh the simple words in which God brings the solemn fact before us. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (ver. 6).
Eve by continuing to hear the tempter's words more and more lost the authority of God's word, which at first she knew clearly and felt to be paramount. But as she listened to one whose object was to draw her away from God and ensnare her into transgression, she became by degrees less sensitive as to God's honor and Satan's crafty malice. Was it so that after all God did not love man perfectly but reserved good from him?
Perhaps too they might take this fruit, fair and excellent as it looked like other fruits in Paradise, without a blow so dreadful as death. God would not surely be so stern about so small a matter, He that gave them all else! And was it not strange that they (related so nearly to Himself, His offspring, Whose breath was their life-breath, made in His image, after His likeness) should be refused the knowledge of good and evil, to become so far like Himself—was it worthy of Him? Alas! Eve, when tempted was at length drawn away by lust, by the desire to have what God forbad, and was enticed. She used her eyes against the word, and saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes. Emboldened thus she reflected that the tree was desirable to make wise; and so the lust, having conceived, bears sin, as the sin, when fully completed, brings forth death. Compare James 1:14, 15 John 2:16.
The woman had weakly fallen; but the stronger vessel, the man! He well knew the prohibition of the LORD God; he had the fatal yielding of Eve to warn him, if this could be needed; yet he dared to follow her into evil, from which he should have sought to shield her and confirm her soul in allegiance to God; and he too rebelled at her solicitation. All was lost in the fallen head of creation. What dishonor to God! what malignant joy to the enemy! what a root of evil to man! “By one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all sinned” (Rom. 5:12, R. V.).
The ruin was complete. Distrust of God's love, unbelief of His truth, slight of His glory in seizing it, introduced open self-will and transgression. And so it has been since with ever increasing corruption. For Adam was head of the human race and involved his posterity in his own evil. He became a father only after he was a sinner.
It was not so with those who in a higher sphere rebelled against God without a tempter. They each and all departed from God, though they excel in strength. They therefore are left to suffer the due reward of their deeds. But man, in his weakness and exposure to the subtle foe, is the object of God's richest mercy, and gives occasion for the display of His glory in nature and character, in His ways and counsels, as no other creature does or could enjoy; but this positively and perfectly in Christ alone, the Second Man.
Thus it comes out in His headship to the praise of God's grace. For if through the disobedience of the one man the many (or Adam's family) were constituted sinners, so also shall the many (or Christ's family) be constituted righteous. The head according to God determines the condition of the family. We belonged to the one naturally; we belong to the other by grace through faith. No Jew could deny that so in fact the headship of sin and sorrow was with the human race: how could he question that the headship of blessing was just and worthy of God? If Adam sunk his family into that sad estate, why should not Christ raise those who believe into the good portion which He deserves?
But it is not only that the gospel is thus indicated: no otherwise can the sinner be saved consistently with God and His word. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil.” If this was true beyond question of Israel, is it not quite as manifestly of men in general? How blessed then that God has given His Son to be a man, a Savior, a new head for all that believe! This as a whole scripture testifies from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation. Salvation is in Another, not in the guilty; it is in Christ. And salvation is in no other; for neither is there any other, or a different, name under heaven that is given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Christ glorified God in death as a sacrifice for sin, so as to atone for all that believe in Him; as Adam by his transgression dishonored God and brought death on himself and his race. It was when Christ carried obedience to the death of the cross, that He, risen from the dead, was proclaimed the new head: God was glorified in Him as to our disobedience and its consequences, and not only in His unbroken life of obedience. He from the highest glory took the lowest place of a slave, and endured the most ignominious death, that of the cross. O what a contrast with the man of dust who sought to be as God and disobeyed unto death!
As the work of Christ was morally glorious in the highest degree, so is it efficacious and unfailing for all that believe, even though ruined in Adam and adding their own sins. But where sin abounded, grace far exceeded; that as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Assembly and Ministry: Part 1

MY DEAR BROTHER,
I have been observing of late several distinct marks of the assembly of God, as given (sometimes in an indirect way) by the apostle in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, and have thought they may be of interest to your readers, especially in a day of difficulty and confusion such as the present.
There are two epistles which have for their theme the church of God viz., Ephesians and 1 Corinthians; but each views the church from a totally different standpoint. Ephesians is a rich exposition of the counsels of divine grace. (there I find the marvelous expression, “the exceeding riches of His grace”) concerning Christ and the church. Christ is shown as the One Whom God has raised again from among the dead, and set at His own right hand in the heavenly places, &c.—given by Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. Here we get the church's wondrous place spoken of according to the counsels of God, formed before the foundation of the world: it is Christ's body, and blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Him. This is altogether God's planning and working; man has no place here, save—as believing in, and associated with, Christ—being the recipient of all. 1 Corinthians, on the other hand, presents the church in its practical walk here below, giving the mind of God upon all matters collective, while exposing, alas! a terrible amount of human failure of every sort. Ephesians directs our eyes to the heaven, and we are shown our wondrous place before God, even the Father, in Christ; while Corinthians directs our eyes downwards, and we get human doings and, too often, sin. The latter epistle opens in an unusual way; it is not addressed “to the saints... and to the faithful,” as in Ephesians, nor to those “beloved of God, saints by calling,” as in Romans; but “to the church of God which is at Corinth... with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” And the opening words are important as indicating the contents of the inspired note.
To proceed to the marks mentioned, the first is given (in an indirect way) in chap. i, the name of Christ, the assembly's true gathering point. The Spirit has grave fault to find on this score; for schools were rapidly forming, party-names were being adopted, and saints were no longer knit together in love, all speaking the same thing, perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Schism was already at work, and sects or heresies would follow, if not checked by the energy of the Holy Ghost through the apostle, as the natural result. Do we wonder at Paul's indignation? “Is Christ divided?” he asked; “was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” He loved the Head, and he loved His body, the church, far too well to accept quietly such dishonor. Nor did it affect the question, that his own name was one of those used: “who then is Paul, and who is Apollos?” Who? indeed, when Christ was in question! The Spirit was in the apostle to glorify Christ, and the devoted servant would knock down all at one blow, that Christ alone might be exalted among His saints.
What deep failure for the Corinthians? They were “enriched by Him in all utterance, and in all knowledge,” and came behind in no gift; yet were they carnal, and walked as men. But the truth that Christ is the alone center of His saints, both here and in glory, abides in spite of all human failure and sin. In Rev. 5. He is shown as the Lamb in the midst of the throne, the elders, representing the glorified saints, being seated around Himself. What a scene for the heart! How the thought of it causes the spirit to yearn for the day when all, through grace, shall be verified in all the saints! But the same Christ is the gathering point to-day ere the glory; and His precious promise in Matt. 18:20 ever holds good, “Where two or three are gathered together in (unto) My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Happy for the church had she never departed from it; but alas, alas, how deep and widespread the failure and departure! Everywhere names gloried in and adopted, and party-making rampant, not the least painfully among many who declare sect-making to be of the foe, rather than of God. Surely the Lord had His eye on evil days when he spoke of “two or three.” I do not find twos and threes in the Acts of the Apostles, but rather thousands here, and hundreds there; but where is this seen to-day?
While not trying to be pessimistic, one is somewhat suspicious to-day as to the hundreds, where found gathered together—professedly in Christ's name. To be gathered to His name means more than is sometimes thought. His name Jehovah expresses what He is; and this principle runs throughout scripture. When God revealed His name “El-Shaddai” to Abraham, it was a revelation of what He was (and of course is), the All-sufficient and All-powerful One. Again, His name Jehovah expresses His eternal unchangeableness. But, sweeter still, the name of Father, revealed by and in the Son, expresses for us a wonderful relationship, and an intimate heart of love. Thus the gathered saints may count on Christ according to all that He is; and is He not enough? His fullness is for faith to draw upon, be the day ever so evil and dark.
Thus the first mark of the assembly, which I have seen in 1 Corinthians, is its gathering to Christ's name; the second is found in chap. 5., a holy maintenance of discipline according to God. When this is despised, and the holiness that becomes God's house ignored, how can we recognize the company as God's assembly? Grave moral evil had appeared among the saints at Corinth—evil graver than was common among the dissolute Gentiles around them. How low may not even the saints sink, when the heart departs from the Lord! Flesh in the Christian is the same as flesh in the unbeliever; only there is light, which makes its outbreaks the more dreadful. Solemn indeed was the general condition of the Corinthian assembly. They had evidently been puffed up before the evil appeared, and even so glaring a blot had not humbled them. One would have thought that such a dishonor would have dispelled the boasting and brought them to their faces; but what is man? The apostle wrote and wrote vigorously by the Spirit, “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in spirit of meekness?” He then proceeded to declare the mind of the Lord concerning the evil in question. “For I 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, and the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (vers. 3-5).
The assembly, not merely official individuals (of whom, I may say, we have no trace at Corinth, as it was not long that the saints had been called), was to act, and clear the Lord's name. Of old Jehovah had said, “Israel hath sinned,” and all Israel stoned the offender with stones that he died (Josh. 7.). So here; the assembly, with Paul present in spirit, was to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh. Did they not know that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Were they not familiar with the former oracles of God, where instructions are constantly given to expel all leaven? Did they not know that the assembly in God's sight is an unleavened lump? How inconsistent, nay, how dishonoring to Him Who is Holy and True, to allow the unclean leaven to remain unjudged! They were to judge those “within” (leaving those “without” to God), and were therefore to put away from among themselves that wicked person. And this is ever incumbent on the gathered saints. The assembly, according to God's thought, is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15); and its character is quite belied, when it becomes indifferent to holiness. But in the absence of apostolic power, the “two or three” cannot go beyond the putting away in ver. 13, the handing over to Satan calling for authority which we have not, in the present broken and ruined condition of things (compare 1 Tim. 1:20). Assumption is out of place, and an offense to God; it is ours to walk with lowliness before Him, and use what we have for His glory.
I refrain at this point, from speaking of the assembly's attitude towards false doctrine: it is a matter for discipline most assuredly, where Christ has His true place; it will, however, come before us later. A due maintenance of discipline is therefore an undoubted mark of God's assembly.
I now proceed to the subject of ministry as dealt with by the apostle, chiefly in 1 Cor. 9., and somewhat in chap. 4. Some were evidently venturing to put the apostle on his trial as to his service, pronouncing as to the genuineness of his call to the office, judging his motives, and making various insinuations concerning him. The blessed man of God, established in God's thoughts, knew well how to deal with all such assumption and folly. He stood on his own direct responsibility to the Lord, and wishes them to know it: “let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). He was in no wise their servant ("save in a sense for Jesus' sake, 2 Cor. 4:5), and he repudiated their right to inquire into, or criticize him in, his path of service for Christ. Ministry is in Christ's hands; not in any sense in the hands of official men, or of the church. The source of all ministry is given in Eph. 4—the ascended Christ. He has given gifts; apostles, prophets evangelists, pastors and teachers; the church has no place, save as receiving what He gives according to the grace of His heart, and the fullness that resides in Him for all its needs. How lamentably has this been lost sight of in Christendom! to the church's serious hurt, and graver still, to the Lord's dishonor. Officialism is to be observed on the one hand, men assuming to be successors of the apostles with power to ordain; religious republicanism on the other, the church claiming the right to control itself, and to control ministry. Which is the farthest from the divine pattern? Surely in both systems the true idea is entirely lost. The truth is, that the ascended Head gives and fits, while the assembly is but the receiver of all.
The apostle asserts his right to support from the saints (not from the Gentiles, 3 John 7)—though not a salary—and draws analogies from vineyard, flock, oxen and temple; yet glories in the fact that he had not used this right, nor had he written such things that it should be so done unto him: for it were better for him to die, than that any man should make his glorying void (1 Cor. 9:12, 15).
Noble and self-sacrificing servant! He had drunk deeply into his Master's spirit, and felt it to be far “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20.). What have his professed successors to say to this?

Scripture Sketches: the Cloak That I Left at Troas

16.- THE CLOAK THAT I LEFT AT TROAS.”
Some years ago a notable opponent, who wrote a book in which he described the progress of his apostacy from Christianity, made mention of some conversation which he had had with one (well known to many who read this) whom he called the “Irish Clergyman.” The opponent was saying that he considered that parts of the New Testament were certainly merely of local and temporary meaning, and wished to know what we should have lost, for instance, if we had not got the verse where Paul says, “The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, especially the parchments.” He states that the “Irish Clergyman” instantly replied that he himself would have lost much, for it was only that verse which kept him from destroying his little library. To those who knew something of the Irish Clergyman's “little library” in later years—how many languages and subjects it embraced—the incident was not without interest.
The verse has always had a fascination for me, but (as I have never felt tempted to destroy books) it is the first part of it which has been of especial attraction. I speak soberly when I say that I have thought many thousands of times of that old cloak at Troas, and always my mind returns to it with a renewed sympathy as it hangs there, an object infinitely pathetic. No doubt it was dingy and shabby enough, but the warp and the woof of it are interwoven with truth and love; and it is embroidered with a fringe of celestial light.
For it brings before us in a vivid way the personality of the old infirm man, wasting in the foul Roman dungeon, and now nearing the time of his death by execution. He is a man of the most refined and sensitive nature, yet he has been hounded and battered from one end of the civilized world to the other. Habitually uncomplaining, he had some years ago, on one occasion, boasted with a sublime satire of his own sufferings, when he had seen amongst the Corinthians the sybarite and dilettante nature of the poor pleasure-loving creatures that were usurping authority amongst them, and disparaging his influence. Against these choppers of logic, who demanded the credentials of his apostleship, he gives only the kind of answer that Amynias gave to the lawyers at Athens. He draws aside for a moment his old cloak, and shows a body all scarred and mutilated with wounds received in the van of the battle, whilst the Sybarites were fretting over the crumpled rose-leaves which occasionally disturbed their repose. The signs of his being approved as a minister of God! Ah, yes, he will give them— “labors... stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one; thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides...” But there! no doubt these Greek school-theologians, logomachists and dilettantists, found such arguments irritating and irrelevant, They would have preferred to dispute with the negative dialectic of Zeno or the interrogative system of Socrates, or anything—anything whatever, except the flesh and blood, the sufferings and sacrifices, of the old man who passionately swept their sophistries aside and appealed to their hearts.
But the old man was a scholar himself too; he had long ago been trained by the learned, accomplished, broad-minded Gamaliel, who was as much in advance of his contemporaries in enlightenment and toleration as Milton and Locke were of theirs. For a man trained thus books are almost a necessity of life—food he can do without, but books, ah!” some little luxury there.” Some of us can, perhaps, feel a keen sympathy with the old scholar's love of his books, and interest in the fact that he sends for them all the way from Rome to Troas, when he knew he had only a few weeks to live.
Then again the mind turns to the cloak, which he had left with them in the keeping of Carpus. All the winter he has to be without it, shut up in the Tullianum—a damp underground cellar, into which he has been lowered through a hole in the ceiling like a sack of coals. Occasionally he is let out in custodiamilitaris chained to a Roman soldier, for he must do something to earn money to fee his jailors and pay for his board and lodging. They couldn't be expected to keep him for nothing! That was the system general in former times in prisons: it continued in this country until John Howard's time.
It was under such circumstances as these, when he is in such infirmity and poverty, that he has to send a thousand miles for his old cloak, that one of the most beautiful and touching events occurs. A young slave named Onesimus had robbed his master, a Christian named Philemon of Colosse, and had run away to Rome where he had met the aged apostle. Paul, with the keen instinct of a veteran evangelist, had marked him for a servant for his own Master. As a result of their intercourse, the young man is converted and, becoming devotedly attached to his instructor, wishes to remain with him and work for him. But the apostle's sense of honor is too high to admit of this. The young slave, he says, must return to his original owner. To smooth the way, however, he will give him a letter to the master who is well known to himself, and is, in fact, one of his own converts. And as to the defalcations, why the letter would contain these words, “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth aught, put that on mine account. I, Paul, have written it with mine own hand. I will repay it.” This is what he writes, and engages himself to do for a young man-servant, who was, till lately, quite a stranger to him; this, at a time when he is too poor to buy a new cloak to protect his aged and infirm body from the penetrating vapors that arise from the marshy ground of the malarial Campagna.
Above all, consider the uncomplaining tone of these last letters. (As to the verse concerning Alexander the coppersmith, it should apparently read as a prophecy, not as a curse— “The Lord will judge... “, not “The Lord judge!” It is in the future, not the optative;. With the calm and serene strength of a Christian and a philosopher, he speaks of his approaching death without a trace of any resentment against the unjust judges who had condemned him. He would like to see his beloved books if possible for a time before he dies, and the cloak would be a protection from the bitter cold; for there is not a trace in him of that ascetic feeling of the Flagellants and hermits who voluntarily put themselves to suffering for suffering's sake. The old man's mind is too sound for any such ideas. For the rest, however, if suffering comes, he has learned “how divine a thing it is to suffer and be strong.” “A Gallityeri, Signora, never complains,” said the Italian to his tormentors. “Learn” said the noblest and most afflicted of the German princes to his son, “learn to suffer without complaining.”

The Revelation as God Gave It: 1

DR. JOSEPH HALL, bishop successively of Exeter and Norwich in the 17th century, was pious, learned, and able. It may be well therefore to examine with care how such a man could write on the last book of the N. T. so as even to entitle his essay “The Revelation Unrevealed” (Works, Pratt's ed., x. 79-127). No doubt some in his day as in others taught unadvisedly, as in the “Five Lights at Walton,” and “Zion's Joy in her King;” but he was not entitled to speak slightingly of Joseph Mede, John Archer, Thomas Brightman, or J. H. Alsted, who, notwithstanding many a mistake, were more enlightened in the prophetic word than himself. Let us then turn the wandering of so good a man to account by tracing if we can its source.
The first four sections are an effort to show that the Thousand Years' Reign in Rev. 20., till fulfilled, must be a riddle as insoluble as the number and name of the Beast in chap. 13. How unfounded is this appears from the latter scripture alone where the Beast's number is treated in the prophecy itself as quite exceptional. The very opening of the book disproves the assumption that prophecies need fulfillment to render them intelligible. It is an unbelieving denial of the value of prophecy; for thus they can only be understood when they are accomplished. All Ο.Τ. faith hung on unfulfilled prophecy. Thus expressly Noah condemned the antediluvian world; and Abraham enjoyed in peace what even Lot knew before fulfillment took place.
It was on the contrary, as Isaiah tells us (chaps. 41. 42. 44—48.), the privilege of God's people to know both the former things, and new things to come, in contrast with the blinded heathen. So Dan. 9 understood precisely from Jeremiah's prophecy. Even the Jewish chief priests and scribes were not so dark when Jesus was born in Bethlehem; better far, Simeon, Anna, and others were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Indeed, before the Messiah presented Himself, the people were in expectation to which prophecy gave birth, and all were reasoning inwardly, as Luke says, whether haply John were He. The time, said our Lord, is fulfilled, when He began His public ministry. Prophecy had long proclaimed the place, the time, the characteristic marks, the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow.
It is a false and unworthy maxim that prophecies in general, especially before they are fulfilled, are no other than riddles. For this puts the world and the church on the same ground of darkness and unbelief. The Lord on the contrary treats it as the privilege. His disciples to know as friends what the slave vows not, even all things which He heard from His father; and the Spirit, when come, was to report to them the things to come. So the apostle Paul communicates to comparatively young believers is Thessalonica the correction of their mistake as to the dead saints, and convicts as error the alarm e there were infusing into the living saints (1 Thess. 4., 2 Thess. 2.). Again the Apostle Peter appeals to the faithful as knowing beforehand what God had revealed, even to the eternal things, the new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3.). As if to cut off anticipatively the bishop's discouragement, the Holy Spirit pronounce, in the first and the last chapters of that deepest of all prophecies, a special blessing on reading, hearing, and keeping the things written in it: a nugatory thing, if they consist of no other than riddles for men to guess at.
The truth is that the same Spirit Who alone enables us to understand the rest of scripture gives intelligent in the prophecies. Past, present, and future, are alike open to Him Who, as only He has told us of be first things when man did not exist to see or ear, so He has spoken up to the last, and especially of His own glory yet to have its triumphant and blissful display in the universe. What more worthy of God, what more cheering and elevating to His children! The consequence for the bishop and all of his way of thinking is a barren blank, instead of the bright anticipation of the fair and fruitful scene the Lord will establish according to the word for His own great Name. The unbelief of a believer has of course its limits; but it is a darkening principle just so far as it works; and this is as plain in the case before us as anywhere else.
Section 5 is a summary of Archer's view, which is wrong and defective in important respects. In the first place the bishop undertakes to show the universal error which runs through his whole writing; secondly, the chief paradoxes involved; thirdly, its consequents improbable; and, lastly, such fair, safe orthodox constructions, as may be warrantably admitted of that dark passage of Scripture, the misprision [i. e. misapprehension] whereof is guilty of this controversy” (section 6).
Let us only now notice briefly section 7, in which the literal construction put on the prophecies is regarded as the great strain of error. Two passages are cited as instances, Zech. 2:12, 10 [a singular mode of citing], and Isa. 65:9, 10. Instead of seeing a future condition of glory for Judah and Jerusalem on earth, the bishop contends for no more than the past Babylonish restoration, and under that figure the comfortable condition of the church under the gospel.
Now is either of these a tolerable interpretation of either scripture? How does the context decide? “For thus saith Jehovah of hosts: After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you; for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will shake mine hand over them, and they shall be a spoil to those that served them; and ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for lo, I come and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah. And many nations shall join themselves to Jehovah in that day and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And Jehovah shall inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and shall yet choose Jerusalem again” &c. It must be remembered that the main body which returned from captivity had gone up long before under Zerubbabel and Jeshua. Is it credible that Zechariah's prediction was fulfilled in the little company that accompanied Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes? Certainly neither answers to the prophecy. They were both after the captivity, an earnest only of what is promised. But here it is to be “after the glory.” So, in Psa. 102:16, His appearing in His glory goes with His building up Zion; and thus it is, as the verse preceding says, that the nations shall fear His name and all the kings of the earth His glory. It would be the grossest exaggeration to pretend that anything like the psalm or the prophecy was fulfilled in the returned remnant.
Are these words accomplished in the church? Why, the essence of our calling is in contrast with it all. For us Christ is received up in glory. Here He was rejected even to the death of the cross, and is now glorified on high. Our life is hid with Christ in God; and when He shall be manifested, then shall we also with Him be manifested in glory. Meanwhile the fidelity of the Christian and of the church is in sharing His rejection on earth with Him. The worldly-minded were the first we read of who ignored and forsook this true place here below, to which we are called in contrast with Israel of old and by-and-by. “Already are ye filled, already ye are become rich, ye have reigned without us; yea and I would that ye did reign that we also might reign with you.” It was a mistaking of and a departure from Christ's mind. “For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and to men” (1 Cor. 4.). But the place promised to Israel is power over the nations which spoiled them. In this way, as in others, will Jehovah prove how dear they are to Him in the day when He shakes His hand over the Gentiles. Never since the Babylonish captivity has this been true either of the Jews or of their Gentile masters; but it will assuredly be when their heart turns to Him Whom they slew. Then shall Zion sing, and Jehovah dwell in their midst, and many nations join themselves to Jehovah; but in Zion will be His earthly seat and center, when He is risen out of His holy habitation, and all flesh must hush before Jehovah.
Again, how baseless is the traditional prejudice as to Isa. 65:9, 10! No Christian doubts, that the Jews' rejection of their Messiah (as in Isa. 49-53.) has brought a fresh scattering on themselves, in addition to the penalty of their old idolatry. On that, during the fall of the disobedient and gainsaying people, God is found of the Gentiles who sought Him not, according to Isa. 65:1, 2. But as plain as is Jehovah's judgment of the wicked among Israel in vers. 3-7, so is His mercy to an elect remnant of that people in the verses that follow; and both in a day of executed judgments, which usher in a season of blessedness for the earth and all creatures on it, in a way beyond all example since sin entered the world. Hence we hear of the new heavens and a new earth—at least in an incipient sense, the pledge of the absolute truth which follows the judgment of the dead (Rev. 21). But what has all this to do with the comfortable condition of the church under the gospel, any more than with the returned remnant in Ezra's day or any other's of old? Jehovah coming in fire, and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury and His rebuke with flames of fire, is as different as can be from the Holy Spirit coming in power from on high, and tongues parting asunder as of fire sitting upon each. So differs the future gathering of all nations and tongues to see His glory, from the work of grace in now gathering out of them a people for His name wherein is neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christ is all.
To be continued, D.V.)

On Ministry

ONE cannot do too much for so blessed a Master; indeed when one pauses to consider the riches and magnificence of His grace toward us, the desire is naturally fervent to serve Him, and to serve Him abundantly. And it is well-pleasing to Him. How refreshing it must be to His heart to see souls in this cold selfish world willing to spend and be spent for Him! It is treading surely somewhat in His own blessed footsteps, Who came into the world as the girded One, “not to be ministered unto (even though Lord of all) but to minister.” “I am among you as He that serveth” (Luke 22:27).
But it is highly important that our service be according to His mind, or service may become not service; and bring His heart no joy, and His laborers no reward. Just a few remarks, on service, and ministry in general, may be helpful to you at the present juncture.
Ministry (whether toward the world or in the church) properly viewed is an expression of God's grace. His grace is its spring; it is His blessed way of supplying the need of souls. “When He ascended up on high, He gave gifts” says Eph. 4. And the spirit of all true ministry is, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:33-35). His servants are called and appointed by Him (Gal. 1:1, 1 Tim. 1:1, Acts 20:24), are fitted by Him (2 Cor. 3:4, 5), and are responsible to Him, and will ere long stand before Him and give account at His judgment seat (1 Cor. 3:2, 12-15 Cor. 5:9).
Dear brother, you are apparently willing to allow another party to come in between your soul and the Lord, and to receive an appointment from men, to be paid by men, and to be responsible to men. Alas! this is what we see all around us in Christendom, both in the National “Churches” and in Dissent; but is it really God's order? At the least, it is faith pushed aside and dependence upon human props substituted for it. And is not the Head dishonored when “official” men take into their hands functions that belong to Him?
If you will read 1 Cor. 9. carefully, you will get a few thoughts of value upon this matter. Paul protested in ver. 19, that he was “free from all men.” Could he have said this, if He had been their employee? He says in ver. 18, that it was his glory to make the gospel of Christ “without charge.” And when men criticized his service, and required an account of him, did he not indignantly repudiate their right, and remind them that he was the Lord's servant, not theirs, and that to his own Master he stood or fell?
There are cases where the Lord calls His servants to such a peculiar path of service that they cannot take up work and supply their own bodily needs; and. in such cases the saints, of God should look after them and see they have no lack; but such instance, I firmly believe, are very rare. The apostle was not one of them, peculiar though his path of service was; he labored with his own hands, aid ministered to his own necessities, and refused to be chargeable to anyone (1 Thess. 2:9). And in so doing, he told the Ephesian elders, he had left an example (Acts 20:35). Blessed and honored servant! ready ever to sacrifice himself in order that his Lord might be glorified and the saints served.
In a general way, it is the Lord's will for His saints that they keep to their occupations. “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Wast thou called being a servant? care not for it, but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called therein abide with God” (1 Cor. 7:20-24). I am aware that slaves, not preachers, were before the apostle's mind in penning these words; but the principle applies nevertheless. The Lord guide you, my beloved brother, and deliver you from making any mistake. We cannot serve Him too abundantly; but let our service be according to His revealed truth.
“Grace, mercy and peace, be multiplied unto you.”
W. W. F.

Scripture Queries and Answers: 1 Corinthians 15:29

Q — (1) Cor. 15:29—Will you kindly explain? (2) Also, when do the O.T saints rise?
A. C. W.
A-(1) “Baptized for the dead” means, in my judgment, simply those that entered (“that are being baptized”) taking the place and filling up the ranks of the deceased saints. For grace in the face of all dangers keeps up God's standing army here below. It refers to ver. 18, as 30 to ver. 19 (20-28 being an evident parenthesis of great value and positive), which resume the apostle's interrupted argument. The resurrection is the key to suffering and deaf itself for Christ's name. Without such a hope it were folly to join such a devoted band; but with it, His name will never lack recruits in faith even for a death or life of suffering. To suppose (like Dean; Stanley and Alford) a superstition alluded to, and the apostle dealing gently with such folly as “survivors getting baptized on behalf of friends deceased without baptism,” seems as contrary to his character as in itself strange. In all probability what Bishop Hall calls “the usual but ungrounded practice” was a conceit grafted on this verse misunderstood. Again, Luther's idea of “over the dead”—i.e., over their graves, is another imaginary superstition, worthy of the middle ages. Nor is it a tolerable interpretation that the plural is used for the singular and refers to the Lord. Sir R. Ellys seems to have first suggested the true thought in his “Fortuita, Sacra” (1728), adopted and popularized by Doddridge in the “Family Expositor.”
(2) The O. T. saints as well as those dead of the New rise at Christ's coming (ver. 23) (the living being then changed, 51, 52). “They that are Christ's” is surely comprehensive enough to embrace both. Rev. 20:4 adds the rising of the Apocalyptic martyrs, too late for the rapture but just in time to he raised and reign with the previously risen saints, before the kingdom of Christ and of His saints over the earth begins. For in that verse we have, in the first class already seated on thrones, the saints of the Old and New Testament, whom the Lord translates to heaven at His coming (the twenty-four elders of Rev. 4. & 5.); then the souls of those beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God (Rev. 6.); and lastly those who worshipped not the beast or his image (Rev. 13.): which two classes, having been killed, needed to live, in order to reign with Christ, like the enthroned ones. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?"—(1 Cor. 6:2)—not the church merely, but “the saints.” The reason why these two classes of sufferers are carefully shown to have part in the First Resurrection is because Christ had come and received to Himself the first and general company. Otherwise, being slain afterward, they might seem to have been too late for that blessed part. Here they are assured of it.
Q.-A Christian writes from Guernsey as to Isa. 63:19 variously rendered, and asks D. Martin's authority for “long temps” in that verse; and the reason for “maison” instead of “moisson” in Isa. 8. last verse (or 9:2 or 3 as in others). So it is in Bagster's reprint of Martin's version.
A.-Our correspondent is correct; and Martin, though far closer than Ostervald, is wrong in the first text, and misrepresented as to the second in the London reprint, which seems an erratum. But the former is quite mistranslated in the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, and consequently in the R. C. versions such as that by le M. de Saci. As the A. V., the French Bible of Jean Diodati (Geneve, 1644) gives “jamais.” The first clause in the A. V. is unwarranted; it interpolates “all thine” and severs the connection. “We are from of old [looking back from the future tribulation before deliverance] over whom thou ruledst not, those not called by thy name.” Alexander comes to the result of the English Bible in supposing Israel to be contrasted with their adversaries— “We are of old: thou hast not ruled over them, thy name has not been called upon them.” Isaac Loeser represents the Jewish preference of “We are become as though we are those over whom thou hast never ruled, over whom thy name hath not been called;” rather paraphrastic but right substantially. Benisch gives more concisely, “We are like those over whom” &c.
Q.-Does scripture determine the serpent in Gen. 3?
A.-Surely Rev. 12:9, 20:1, with 2 Cor. 11:3, are ample to decide this question. Satan availed himself of that subtle animal, not yet reduced to its humiliating condition.
Q.-Why should it be “all the house of Israel” in Acts 2:36, as there is no article in the Greek? Does not πᾶς οἷκος mean “every house”?
ENQUIRER.
A. -Without “of Israel” connected it would be “every house “; but with it the case is altered. “House of Israel” is in thought a compound term and is sufficiently defined without the article, like “all Jerusalem” which dispenses with it. So it is with “building” in Eph. 2:21, a composite whole in sense, which makes “every” improper and false. The Revisers seem to have been quite astray in all this, though right of course in Eph. 3:15, as “family” has no such reason to plead. “Each several building” is gravely false, at issue with the context even, as with all scripture, which insists on unity.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 5:25-32

IT is but little that is said of Adam's line through Seth. They lived many days on the earth; they begat sons and daughters, besides the one who continued the succession; and they died. This gives great significance to all that is said beyond. Thus we saw the strong moral difference expressed in Seth's case compared with Adam. But the vivid contrast appeared in Enoch, the witness and manifest enjoyer of life which shone out in his walk, and superior to the power of death, as it pleased God to prove, when his comparatively tried pilgrimage closed in a sort altogether heavenly.
His son was Methuselah. “And Methuselah lived a hundred and eighty-seven years and begat Lamech; and Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred and eighty-two years, and begat sons and daughters. And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died” (vers. 25-27). In his instance it might have seemed that man was exceptionally to reach a millennium. But not so. This is reserved for the reign of the Last Adam; and He will make it good throughout His world-kingdom as the rule, and not the exception, for such as welcome Him when He appears to reign in righteousness. Mighty and beneficent the change in that day, when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea! It is in vain to reason from the first Adam experience, the prolific source of unbelief.
He is Jehovah Who deigned to become a shoot out of the stock of Jesse and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit in days to come; in virtue of Him shall Jacob “take root; Israel shall blossom and bud; and they shall fill the face of the world with fruit.” For in truth lie is also the root of Jesse. “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse: standing as an ensign of the peoples: it shall the nations seek; and his resting place shall be in glory.” Then, when he that had the power of death is bound, and the Conqueror reigns over the earth, man shall fill his days. And Jehovah will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in His people; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thenceforth an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the youth shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. And as Christ is the key to our understanding the scriptures now, so will He be the One in that day to put down evil in power and righteousness, and to bless man subject to His scepter.
“And Lamech lived a hundred and eighty-two years and begat a son; and he called his name Noah, saying, This [one] shall comfort us concerning our work and concerning toil of our hands because of the ground which Jehovah hath cursed. And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred and ninety-five years, and begat sons and daughters. And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years; and he died” (vers. 28 31).
Here again the Holy Spirit pauses on the occasion of Noah's birth; and his father was made to utter an oracle about his son. The prophetic spirit is evident in Lamech's utterances. Noah he recognized as the witness of comfort for man's work and toiling hands. And so Noah is the type of Him Who will govern and bless the habitable world to come, after it has passed through His judgment of those that defile or destroy the earth. Lamech acknowledges time righteous dealing of Jehovah no less than Enoch does in his prophecy recorded by Jude. But the difference is characteristic. Enoch speaks openly of the Lord's coming with myriads of His saints; for a heavenly portion only adds to the sense of coming judgment of all, and not only in their works is ungodliness which they ungodlily wrought but in the hard things which ungodly sinners spoke against Him. Lamech was given, though more darkly, to see in Noah the pledge of consolation for the earth, after the judgment of the quick has done its work.
They are the complement one of the other; and both look on to a day not yet come; for a judgment in providence makes nothing perfect more than the law did. They are shadows of what is coming, and not only of destruction at the Lord's hand, but of comfort to follow for this toiling earth. It is well to accept the pledge; it is better still not to rest in that measure, but to await the full blessing Christ alone is competent to bestow. Then Jehovah's work will appear to His servants, and His glory upon their children; then the beauty of Jehovah their God shall be upon His people, and He will establish the work of their hands upon them; yea He will establish the work of their hands. No doubt to share Christ's position on high in the Father's house is incomparably more, and this we shall have who share His rejection; but it is wrong to overlook and worse to deny the blessing He will also pour on the earth, and on the ancient people, and on all peoples, in that day of glory.
Nor is there any question that on Christ's first advent and on His infinite work of atonement all depends for blessing to souls now, and for glory in the heavens and the earth at that day, because therein God was glorified in Him even as to sin, the otherwise insuperable block in the way. But while owning this fully and finding now in Him life, peace, joy, liberty, relationship with God as children and union with Himself our glorified Head, through the Holy Ghost given the more ought we to be freed from every hindrance and testify with might from above His coming, not only to take us on high, but to execute judgment on a guilty world and a guiltier Christendom, and to bless the earth gloriously and Israel and all the nations; and so much the more, because we see the day approaching.
We need not dwell on Noah more now, but just observe what we are told in verse 32: “And Noah was five hundred years old [son of 500 years], and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Shem is first named, not because he was eldest, which Japheth was, but as in the direct line of the blessings of Israel.

Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 5

BUT God is faithful, if His people too often are not; and He works in His people to recover them by His word. Depressed by their circumstances and disheartened by their adversaries, they had relaxed the work before a decree was gained to stop them. But God in the resources of His grace raised up servants of His even at that time of weakness to recall them to His will. And hearts were not lacking among the chiefs to respond.
“Now the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews that [were] in Judah and Jerusalem—in the name of the God of Israel to them, Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem; and with them [were] the prophets of God, helping them. At the same time came to them Tattenai, the governor beyond the river, and Shethar-bozenai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall? Then spake we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building? But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, and they did not make them cease, till the matter should come to Darius, and then answer should be returned by letter concerning it.
“The copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor beyond the river, and Shethar-bozenai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which [were] beyond the river, sent unto Darius the king: they sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace. Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth on with diligence and prospereth in their hands. Then asked we those elders, [and] said unto them thus, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall? We asked them their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that [were] at the head of them. And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and finished. But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. But in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree to build this house of God. And the gold and silver vessels also of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that [was] in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one whose name [was] Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; and he said unto him, Take these vessels, go, put them in the temple that [is] in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in its place. Then came the same Sheshbazzar, [and] laid the foundations of the house of God which [is] in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and it is not completed. Now therefore, if it [seem] good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which [is] there at Babylon, whether it be, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter (vers. 1-17).”
Thus were God's people delivered from their fears through the intervention of grace working by the word. This was what recalled them to His work, and not the decree of the Persian power. It was not that they acted against authority; for they had this originally from Cyrus according to the prophecy before he was born or Judah carried to Babylon. But they were frightened by their enemies and turned to their own affairs, neglecting God's house; and this encouraged the effort to hinder them by the world's authority, which was put in action by an impostor or at least usurper, ignorant of or indifferent to the policy of him who founded the empire. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah roused them from their sloth and their fears, and the work was resumed in the face of opposition and threats. But all was in vain. “The eye of their God was upon the elders; and they did not make them cease.” We shall see in the next chapter the issue of the appeal to Darius. The important thing here to note is that faith took away their anxiety, and the work went on. Thus God was honored and His people blessed.
It was no longer Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe. Their companions had now for leaders Tattenai the governor locally, and Shethar-bozenai. Nor was their letter incorrect as to the diligence with which the Jews were now prosecuting the work of God's house; any more than their report of the answer from the Jews. And touching it is to hear, even from their adversaries, that the Jews very simply took their stand on the fact that they were servants of the God of heaven and earth, and building His house long ago built by a great king of Israel; that they owned the sins of their fathers which drew out from God its destruction and their captivity; and that the conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus the king, the loftiest figure for Persian eyes, made a decree in the first year of his reign to build this house of God, and delivered the sacred vessels which Nebuchadnezzar took away, to Sheshbazzar the governor of the Jews for replacing in the house to be rebuilt.
What is also striking to notice is that the new adversaries ask for a search in the archives, which resulted, as we shall see, in their refutation and the confirmation of God's people in that faith which was the fruit of the testimony of His servants. Why should His people be disquieted because of adversaries? It is for themselves they have most to fear, lest unbelief should open the door to the great foe, and unjudged sloth, self-seeking, pride, jealousy, dishonor Him Whose name they bear. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the residue of wrath shalt Thou restrain.”

Song of Solomon 5

THE last chapter gave the bride inviting her Beloved to come into His garden and eat His pleasant fruits. But she must learn more of herself yet: whatever she was in His eyes, He was (sad to say) not everything to her. And if we are apt to think too well of our state, grace deigns to teach us it experimentally. So it will be with the godly Jewish remnant by-and-by, as we are here shown.
“I am come into my garden, my sister spouse;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.
Eat, O friends; drink, yea drink abundantly, beloved one.”
“I was asleep, but my heart waked.
The voice of my Beloved that knocketh [saying],
Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, mine undefiled;
For my head is filled with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.
I have put off my coat: how shall I put it on?
I have washed my feet: how shall I defile them?
My Beloved put in his hand by the hole [of the door];
And my bowels yearned for him.
I rose to open for my Beloved,
And my hands dropped with myrrh,
And my fingers with liquid myrrh.
I opened to my Beloved;
But my Beloved had turned away—was gone.
My soul went forth when he spoke:
I sought him, but I found him not;
I called him, but he gave me no answer.
The watchmen that go about the city found me,
They smote me, they wounded me;
The keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem,
If ye find my Beloved,
That ye tell him, that I am sick of love” (vers. 1-8).
Alas! how readily we understand such experience. The very, and the fullest, assurance of the Savior's love is apt to induce carelessness in our hearts. When we are assured that we are precious to Him, if we know Him at all, we are earnest and importunate; but when all is fully out in His incomparable grace to us, how readily the flesh creeps in and takes advantage of it as if it were a matter of course! When faith is in lively exercise and the flesh consequently judged by the Spirit that dwells in us, His wondrous words of love act powerfully in drawing out the soul's delight and praise and worship. But there is always for us the danger of that which the bride here is brought to feel and own. She yielded to sloth and circumstances; and truly though she loved Him, she made difficulties, slighted His love, and found to her shame and sorrow that He had withdrawn Himself—was gone!
This painful experience is turned to further profit. The bride is now so moved that she roams the streets of the city in quest of Him, unconscious of the strangeness of her acts in the eyes of those responsible for its order, who know little or nothing of her affection or her sorrow. This is her secret. They see one abroad at a time when she should be at home. So the love she has, and grief over her folly expose her to a blame in the eyes of those whose office it is to guard outward propriety, of which she never thought at such a moment. But when she awoke to it, could she deny that all was her own faultiness? She turns in her distress to others from whom she expects a sympathy not to be looked for in the watch or the keepers of the walls; and, not without fruit from that rough dealing, she pours out her heart to her inquiring companions.
“What is thy Beloved more than [another] beloved,
Thou fairest among women?
What is 'thy Beloved more than [another] beloved,
That thou dost so charge us?”
“My Beloved [is] white and ruddy
The chiefest among ten thousand.
His head [is] finest gold:
His locks [are] flowing, black as the raven;
His eyes [are] like doves by the water brooks,
Washed with milk, fitly set;
His cheeks [are] as a bed of spices, banks of sweet herbs;
His lips, lilies dropping liquid myrrh;
His hands, gold rings set with beryl;
His body [is] ivory work overlaid (with) sapphires;
His legs, pillars of marble, set on sockets of fine gold;
His aspect, as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars;
His mouth [is] most sweet;
Yea he [is] altogether lovely.
This [is] my Beloved, yea this [is] my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem” (vers. 9-16).
The bride can speak freely of the Bridegroom's beauty to others: it is ever her happiness and suited place. And this is not only suitable in itself; but we can see how her own negligence with its bitter consequence made her feel and speak more fully than ever in His praise.

The Sinner Saved: Part 1

IMMEDIATELY before the deeply affecting interview between our Lord and the woman that was a notorious sinner in the town into which He had passed, we have Him pronouncing on the moral state of mankind—more particularly of those that had the word of God, the Jews. For we must remember that among such our Lord was manifested. They were not, like the heathen, ignorant of the scriptures. They were entrusted with that great privilege, and professed to prize and preached the word. They had no excuse on the ground of sitting in darkness. All the word of God then revealed was theirs; and yet what could compare with that generation, as the Lord says? John the Baptist they did not like: he was too strict for them. And when the Son of Man, the Savior Himself, followed, they called Him by still more shameful names—He was too loose for them. Thus, it does not matter what may be the testimony God gives, man has always some reason for refusing.
“But wisdom is justified of all her children.” In the Gospel of Matthew wisdom is justified of her children, because the Lord there welcomes the weary and heavy-laden that come to Him, and gives them rest. But Luke was led to specify in the Pharisee's house the guilty woman of the city. It is in truth the Lord anticipating what God was going to do in the gospel everywhere. So he says, “Wisdom is justified of all her children.” Who could have expected that henceforth a child of wisdom was to be found in a notorious child of folly? This was her known and evil character; but when God drew her to the feet of Jesus, all was changed. Such is the power of His grace in Jesus. And He has taken care that this admirable fountain shall not be closed, having employed Luke thus to point it out in His word. Who else would have thought of a robber reconciled to God on the cross? who of a sinful woman picked out from the mass of human beings? a reprobate character saved by faith and sent away in peace?
“But wisdom is justified of all her children.” The robber vindicated the wisdom of God; for he confessed the Messiah when the High Priest, the Roman Procurator, and the Tetrarch of Galilee, in that day, mocked, rejected, and condemned the Lord and Savior. That robber gave the lie to the wisdom of the world.
People thought not a little of education in those days; and they think a great deal more of it nowadays; but where were the “cultured"? Not on the side of Jesus, but against Him. The robber had nothing to boast on that score; but he justified the wisdom of God against all the pride, knowledge, power, and glory of man. They all rejected the Lord to their own everlasting shame and ruin, The robber at the last moment was saved; only then he became wise, for he had been Satan's dupe all his life before; but how gracious that divine wisdom which can take up its abode in the breast of a hardened criminal at the last!
And here was a woman that no decent person had the smallest acquaintance with, who had sunk into the depths of depravity; here is this woman brought forward to vindicate divine wisdom in another way altogether. There are two characteristics of human wickedness. The one is violence; the other is corruption. The woman clearly was a sample of corruption, as the robber of violence. But the distinctive truth of the gospel is, that redemption depends not upon what you bring to the Redeemer, but on what God gives in and from Him. There is not—a single quality in your heart or life that could commend you to God; nay, if you read them in the light of God, you would yourself condemn all. “But God commendeth His love toward us [not ours towards Him], in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
It was impossible to give a greater proof of love than dying for His enemies, and enemies in mind by wicked works, not merely through some mistaken cause or misunderstanding. Sinners, because powerless, are the very persons God takes up and saves; therefore let no person whatever, man or woman, aged or youthful say, “I am too bad to be saved.” It is just because you are so bad that you need such a Savior. Therefore does Jesus bring God's saving grace to you. He does not expect any good from you as you are. You must first receive the blessing; then, as Luke proceeds to set forth, when the grace of the Savior is applied, when the heart bows to Him, His grace transforms the man or woman so that he or she becomes a totally different person. Yet not the transformation saves, but only Christ; and this gives the entire glory to God. If it were the good the Christian afterward does that saves the soul, it would be man reaping the glory.
But it is not so. Since the fall, man is altogether bad, as well as guilty. God no doubt works a great change in the heart that receives the Lord Jesus; but it is not his new moral qualities, not the difference of his life practically, that procures salvation, nothing but Jesus; and therefore by believing on Jesus. For only the sovereign grace of God, coming down to man in Christ His own Son, could save the sinner from his sins and from the judgment of God. This we are here given to know; as God has written it for the purpose.
If the story of this woman were quite exceptional, we should not have it presented as it is. Many things of great moment took place that were not historically recorded in Scripture. For instance, at the beginning of the Bible, we have not a single word about the creation of angels. Man would have put it there if he had written a Bible, instead of God alluding incidentally elsewhere as to an already accomplished fact. For God, in writing the Bible through inspired witnesses, does not state when He made angels. Why not? Because it does not fall within His design to disclose it as history. And to this faith always adheres. Let us then not doubt that what God reveals is at the right time and place, not otherwise. So here we do not find the new and blessed effects of grace in the woman, real as they were, enlarged upon. It must have done souls harm. They would fall from grace in seeking to first acquire good qualities. Even as it is souls too often strive to win for themselves a good character in order to be pardoned, and thereby Christ and His work are annulled.
Scripture simply presents the Savior, and in the background the host that invited Him into his house, a man without faith, though a Pharisee. A woman also came there uninvited, the last person seemingly to be attracted by the grace of Jesus. But God showers grace on souls that least deserve it. What a witness is here of the way of grace with one that had been altogether abandoned to evil! Is it not enough to enlarge our thoughts of God and to humble the pride of human nature? Where in the Gospels did grace produce more beautiful and deep effects, or more immediately, than in this poor woman, without a character? What produced it will practice it again. The woman was the object of mercy; the transforming power was Christ. Indelible was the impression that the Savior made on that woman's heart, and the consequence was that His reflection shone out in her ways. It would be hard to find greater humility, a clearer repentance, or a more devoted heart. And this all wrought so soon! How great must be, therefore, the efficacy of the Savior's grace! This is what God commends. It is indeed His own love to the sinner; and faith can commend it not only to any hitherto unconverted, but to the converted that hesitate. What a reproof for any, converted or not, to be left behind by such a woman!
Let us then look into the Holy Spirit's account of this transaction. Simon, the Pharisee, asked the Lord to his house. No doubt he thought he was acting in a generous manner. But while the Lord and the company were there, a stranger entered” a woman in the city that was a sinner.” Those terms are sufficiently emphatic. They do not mean a sinner in the ordinary or broad sense that we all sinned, but in that peculiar force which made the woman notorious in the town; and everybody knows what this is. What drew her? Jesus, nothing but Jesus.
The first thing for your attention is that God does not make the path of faith an easy one. His word is truth, His call is simple, so far as the message is concerned. He uses all plainness of speech to sinners, no matter where they be. But there are always difficulties for the soul. There is a lion in the way of every one that believes in the Lord Jesus. The Destroyer tries to hinder, just as much as there is a Savior that loves to save. The “lion” in the way of the woman was that Jesus was “at meat” in the house of Simon the Pharisee. Such a man, hating no faith in God's grace always stands upon morality or forms or both. The man that prided himself on his religion would be exceedingly disgusted with an immoral woman coming into his house, especially when he had company.
What emboldened the woman to go there and then? Apply it to your own case. Supposing a party invited to dinner, what would you feel at the intrusion of a worthless character, especially a woman of scandalous life? There is not a single man from a lord to a laborer but would feel that his castle, great or small, was invaded. Would not the laborer be as indignant as the lord? Nor was the intruder insensible in the least; yet Grace drew her notwithstanding, and gave her the needed courage to go at all cost. Whose grace? Her own? It was Christ's—entirely and exclusively the attractive power of His goodness. She felt herself so much in distress about her sins, so much in earnest to cast her burden on the Savior, that she said as it were to herself, “There is only One that can aid me; He who has been giving sight to the blind, and strength to the lame; He who cleanses the leper, and bids the paralytic rise; He who has been blessing even a Gentile and healing his servant; He who quickened a dead man as he was carried to the grave, might perhaps deign to speak pardon to a depraved and wretched woman like me.”
What was the way of grace with her soul? The good news of Him by the Holy Spirit touched the springs of her heart, so that her awakened conscience could not but go with guilt to His feet. When it is but an idea or a feeling, there is not such earnestness of purpose. Shame, fear, pride, &c., outweigh and turn aside. Naturally the woman might have thought the difficulties insuperable, the moment most inopportune. What would the Pharisee say and do at such a liberty on her part? And the holy Savior! How could she venture to go near Him, especially in such circumstances as these? “Ah, but” (whispered the still small voice to her) “there may never be another opportunity. You may never see or hear Him again. Go now; seek Him at once.” Sense of need in herself and of grace in Him silenced every doubt and refused yielding to any fear. Not a moment must be lost. Her sins, her grievous sins, drove her to Him. He was there; Pharisee, disciples, all the world, could not keep her back from the Only One that availed her. She was in good earnest. Are you, my dear friend? Yet you know you have sins on your conscience warning you of God's judgment for evermore? How awful to put off, to make excuse, to trifle with His grace! For is not the Savior always passing by when you hear the gospel? Do you neglect so great salvation? Is He not near to everyone of us? You are called to go neither to the heavens nor into the depths to find Him. “The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart which we preach... that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
I remember a friend that was saved by these very words; and a remarkable man he was, one most acceptable in a certain city in the north of England. Private and public dinners were not quite complete in the place without him. He was the man for a good story and a bright song, able to enter genially into all that occupied the company. But he was utterly without God, living only for this world, pleasing himself and other people, but with no sense of sin, and no care for God. He had a friend who was rather an imitator of this. You know there are many imitative wits, but not many original ones. Now this friend was regarded as of the former class and passed off jokes like the latter in his humble way. The lesser had a grave brother who was the constant butt of the greater's pleasantry.
One day the greater met the grave man, and asked him “How is your brother”? The grave man looked graver still and said, “He is saved.” The effect was as though a chasm opened at his feet. He was astonished at the answer and the fact alleged. He had never heard of such a thing in his life before. A man saved! particularly a man he knew, who had no more thought of God than himself, not the least concern for his salvation, but living in pleasure and vanity! When he recovered his breath, he asked how that was. Why, said the grave man, do you not know the scripture? quoting the words from Romans “You do not mean to say that is in the Bible,” said he. Some that do not read the word of God, when once arrested, are much more affected than those only reading it as a duty. This shows how carelessly men read: it ought not to be; but it is a common fact. The words seemed to him wondrous. He apparently had not heard them before, though of course he had; he did not remember the words because he knew nothing of the truth conveyed by them. Asking where was this passage, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” he was told the epistle, chapter, and verse. As soon as his public position permitted, he got alone with God, and did not leave his retirement until he by the faith of Christ was brought to Himself.
That man lived a devoted Christian, an excellent and earnest preacher of the gospel, and departed to be with Christ but a short time ago. The story may show that what God describes in the Bible is going on day by day. Do not think it is something out of your reach, or not urgent on you now. Why should this man and that woman be saved, and you not? Why should you turn a deaf ear to those gracious words of God, mighty to save? Why not follow the converted robber, or the abandoned woman, brought out of all their iniquity to God? Alas! there are men and women too proud, as themselves say, to be saved in the same way as either. But, my friends, have you no fear of being lost with the other robber? There are only two ways, like the two robbers, the one lost and the other saved. Are you then too proud to be saved with the believing robber, but not too proud to be lost with the impenitent robber? What is this but supreme folly, madness, and sin? Is it not the blinding power of the enemy, God's enemy and yours?
Think of their endless doom who thus live and die; think now of that awful companionship through all eternity. Think on the other hand of the blessed on high, many no doubt taken out of the gutters of this world, out of all their wallowing in open wickedness or selfish frivolity and pleasure, yea out of darkness and evil and ungodliness even when veiling themselves in a vain mantle of religion. Oh! what a blessed portion “to be with Christ” in the blessed throng! The word declares that the Lord Jesus gives eternal life for heaven, and will adjudge to hell. All depends on how you treat the Lord Jesus. Those who believe God honor His Son. See how this woman bore herself toward Him. She was aroused in conscience, drawn in heart, and so filled with good courage that she appears not to have thought of the Pharisee or of any one else in the house but the One on Whom her soul was concentrated. She sought only the Savior, caring not for aught else that she might he saved. She went because of her sense of her sins and utter ruin. She knew how unable she was to resist temptation and refuse sin; she knew that, having sinned habitually and in the face of shame, she would go on sinning to the end. Without Him she could do nothing.
But what about you? It is not a question what kind of sin is committed. It is very encouraging for the soul that the Savior does not disdain the grossest sinner, the most unworthy man or woman. This ought to encourage you. If you say, “I have not been so bad a sinner as that,” remember that it is not the gross sinners merely that are cast into hell but sinners, whatever the sort or degree of sin theirs may be; and without doubt you are not saved, unless you receive Christ by the Holy Ghost for your soul. This is what the woman did; and mark her conduct. Assuredly she showed her faith by her works: this is always God's way. It is not that works could save of themselves for a moment; but faith working by love is most acceptable to God. This is the kind of works the epistle of James speaks of. Therein are specified two examples, Abraham, and Rahab.
Now it is plain that the work of Abraham, if it had not been of faith, would have been the worst possible. Can you conceive an act so evil as for him to have offered up his son Isaac with his own hands, unless it had been a trial of his faith in the words of God? And what does the Holy Spirit tell us of Rahab? She received the spies that came to destroy her king and country. This would have been another execrable work, if it had not been bowing to God in faith. The one and only thing that made it acceptable to God, was that He was leading His people, and she knew it and was obedient. This was the difference between her and every other in Jericho. Rahab alone had faith in the living God of Israel, and this saved herself and her family. As Abraham gave up to God's will the resistance of all natural affections in the sacrifice of his son, assured that God would give Isaac back, so with Rahab and her feelings of patriotic duty. She would have been shocked at the idea of entertaining the spies if she had not seen the authority of God at stake. Was she to fight against God? It is the same God fully revealed in Christ Who has to do with you now.
God in view of eternity is calling on you to hear Christ’s word, even commanding to believe the name of His Son (1 John 3:23) Yea, commanding men everywhere to repent. And how can one truly show repentance? By, turning away from all sins and self in the sight of God. The attempt to avoid evil and get good by watching and praying, by reading the word of God and taking the sacrament, is not repentance. It is a religious but unbelieving abuse of scripture and of those institutions of God. What is there more blessed than the word of God and prayer, than baptism and the Lord's supper, in their proper places and for their right ends? But if one make them the means of salvation, putting them in place of the Savior, it is only less evil than the worship of the mass, and prayer to the virgin and the saints, or anything alike idolatrous.
(To be continued, D.V.)

The Comfort of the Scriptures: 4

THE blessed office of the Bible, in which it dispenses comfort to the sorrowing souls of God's people by shedding the light of truth amid the most gloomy and depressing circumstances, is seen in a striking manner in connection with that revelation peculiar to the New Testament, viz.—the return of the Lord for the church.
This truth was first made known, in essence if not in detail, by the Lord Himself. On more than one occasion during His ministry, He spoke of the coming of the Son of Man—of the effulgence of His presence in a future day which should be the redemption of His people and the destruction of His enemies (Matt. 24 & 25.; Luke 21.)
But in John 14. the gracious Master dealt in a direct manner with the need of the hearts of His disciples both at that time and Subsequently. He had plainly announced to them His immediate departure; and, in consequence, sorrow had filled their hearts. What would be the world to them without their Lord `For His sake they had left all to become His disciples. Their “all” might not have been great, as some men count greatness. But they could leave no more. And now the One for Whom they had stripped themselves informed them that He was about to depart. They were borne down with grief at the news. But in the midst of their distress the Lord with the most touching sympathy bids them, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).
The great fact, thus presented for the support of their souls during His absence is the assurance of His own personal return to conduct them to that special place He is gone to prepare. From the moment of His departure therefore they were invited to stay their hearts upon this promise of His coming to receive them to Himself (Acts 1.) As the same Blessed One, afterward said to the church in Thyatira through the evangelist who records these farewell words, as an encouragement to the faithful watcher through the dreary night, “I will give him the morning star” (Rev. 2:28). It was not intended, neither was it needful that the disciples should know the day or the hour of His return. It was sufficient that He was coming, and, as He assured His waiting Bride, coming “quickly.”
It is not to be supposed that this coming in John 14 is a figurative reference by our Lord to the believer falling asleep. On the contrary, the decease of a Christian in the New Testament is invariably represented as a departure to be with the Lord, not as the Lord fetching such an one. As the apostle says, “I am in is strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). And again, “The time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim. 4:6).
We are not therefore at liberty to imagine that anything is meant but what is plainly implied, viz.—that the Lord distinctly promises to return shortly for those who are His. There could be no more effectual means of consolation than this. The Lord shows thereby that the very cause of their sorrow should in reality be a cause of joy and gladness. It was true, even as they deplored, that He would be absent from them; but they now knew that He would during His absence be occupied on their behalf, and that He would in due time return to lead them into a place of everlasting felicity with Himself.
This knowledge of the wondrous activity of His love was meant to raise their hearts and ours from occupation with the trials of a difficult pilgrim path, to read by faith even in the protracted absence of the Lord the proof of His concern in our ultimate blessing. Moreover not knowing the actual moment of His return our souls are kept on the constant stretch in joyous expectancy of seeing Him. And in the light of such a prospect of eternal gain, a moment's loss or pain appears but a trifle indeed.
And this truth that is revealed in John 14 in a most general way is further expanded and applied in the Epistles, and not seldom with a similar purpose of consolation. Let but one instance only be referred to, viz.—that of the saints at Thessalonica. They, like the disciples, were in sorrow, though for a different reason. Their sorrow, the apostle intimates, was due in a measure to lack of knowledge of what would be the effect of the Lord's coming upon the sleeping saints. One purpose of the epistle was to enlighten them upon this matter and by that means to remove the cause of their grief. “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
Evidently, the Thessalonian saints were imagining that those of their number who had fallen asleep would on that account miss the peculiar joys attendant upon the Lord's return. For this reason they were cast down. Their loved ones had not only been taken from them, bitter enough where the light of truth had not yet dispelled heathen darkness, but it was an added pang that the departed ones would thereby be prevented from greeting the Lord at His expected advent.
The Lord, however, does not deal with them as with the widow of Nain, the ruler of the synagogue, and the sisters of Bethany. He comforted these by restoring their dead to life. Here the apostle is specially commissioned “by the word of the Lord,” to administer consolation to their aching hearts by telling them that, so far from the sleeping saints losing their share in the bliss of the Lord's arrival, they would in point of fact be the first to participate in the manifested power and blessing of His presence.
It is plain, therefore, that their anxiety and grief rested entirely upon a misapprehension. And how much trouble of mind God's children pass through, which is similarly based!
But the scripture, in every such case as in this, disperses the mists of ignorance or distorted truth, and thus afford the truest comfort.
It remains to say a brief word of warning against those who seek to rob the saints of the consolation of the New Testament as well as of the Old. Proud men lacking faith do not hesitate to accuse the apostle of ignorance, of error, and even of worse. They scruple not to annihilate the hope of the church at a blow, and, “feeding themselves without fear,” filled with all worldliness, content enough with the pleasures around them, have no desire that the Master should return to bring them to account for their unfaithful stewardship. But let us cherish the word of His promise, which no word of man can ever invalidate. And may “our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God even our Father which hath loved us and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thess. 2:16, 17).
W. J. H.

Hebrews 11:13-16

From the rising above difficulties insuperable save to God on Whose word they relied (Heb. 11:11-12), we have a summary in Heb. 11:13-16, which brings out the patriarchs refusing all temptation, and holding on the pilgrim way to death consistently with faith without the accomplishment of promise. This is the reason why the phraseology changes in the beginning of verse 13. It is no longer “in” faith, that is, in virtue of the power of faith, as in verse 2, where such a force is requisite, and not the mere notion of element or matter as in 1 Cor. 11:20 and very often. Nor further is it the proximate cause, the dynamic or instrumental dative as in verses 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, and again in 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 30, and 31. Still less does it distinguish faith as the means “through” which, as in 33. Here (ver. 13), if we say “in,” we mean according to faith, contrasted with sight or possession of the things promised. What indeed would be the sense of saying that “by” or “through” faith all these died? Nor is it “in” i.e. in virtue of faith, but in or according to faith as in Heb. 11:7, where the precisely same phrase occurs. The Vulgate gives “juxta fidem” here, “per fidem” in Heb. 11:7. We may see it again in Titus 1:1, and modified by “common” in 4, in both of which the Vulgate has “secundum.” Conformity with faith is here predicated of Abraham and those patriarchs that followed, not for its perseverance to the end, though this was the fact, but in being content to wait for God's fulfilling the promises in due time.
“In faith died these all, not having received the promises but from afar having seen and saluted [or, embraced] them, and confessed that they were ["are,” historical.] strangers and sojourners on the earth [or, land]. For they that say such things clearly show that they seek after a fatherland. And if indeed they were calling to mind whence they went out, they would have had opportunity to return; but now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly. Wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for He prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:13-16).
The aim in these verses is to present vividly that common pilgrim path in which the patriarchs walked, even to their death, before the Spirit takes up characteristic workings of faith, even in Abraham, as well as in each of those that followed, as far as it bore on the subject in hand and the special help of those virtually addressed. How timely and needful it must have been we may gather, because they expand the truth already set forth briefly in Heb. 11:9-10.
Neither death, nor the unseen state that succeeds, was the accomplishment of the promises. On the contrary their death without receiving what was promised was in accordance with faith, and the witness of its single-eyed integrity. And the accomplishment of the promises supposed, what they could not as yet understand any more than anticipate, the second advent of the Lord even more than the first, although the first was the more solemn in itself, and the righteous basis of the blessings and glories which await the second. Hence the force of our Lord's word in John 8:56, “Abraham rejoiced that he should see My day; and he saw and was glad.” Neither technically nor substantially was the first mainly in view, as has been thought, but that day when God's word and oath shall be vindicated before a wondering and rejoicing world. The patristic dream, which some dream over again, that it refers to what Abraham beheld after death when our Lord was here, is as unwarranted a perversion as the Socinian interpretation which Meyer justly stigmatizes (Abrah. exultaturus fuisset, si (ἵνα!) vidisset diem meum; et si vidisset, omnino fuisset gavisurus). The design of our Lord and of that chapter is to prove Himself the Light and Word and Son and God Himself; and hence the contrast between Abraham who believed and his seed who did not. Whatever glimpse Abraham may have had of the truth to which the sacrifice on Moriah pointed, it was to the full accomplishment of the promise he looked, and saw by faith what still awaits fulfillment, the period of Christ's manifested glory, “My day.” In this hope brightly breaking through the clouds Abraham exulted, and he saw, as faith ever sees, and rejoiced. He, like the rest, saw the promises from afar off.
And so died these all in accordance with faith as they lived, looking forward to Messiah's day for making good the promises. The additions of “and were persuaded” in the Received Text has scanty support of no account, though Dr. J. Owen makes much of it in his Exposition, as have many others since. It really enfeebles the truth. It is a delicate question whether the next clause keeps up the figure of “greeting” as well as seeing from afar, or adds the differing side of truth in their warmth of taking their hope by faith. But the practical result is as weighty as undeniable: they confessed that they were strangers and sojourners on the earth.
The land even of promise was not their home, still less Chaldea which Abraham left at God's word. They looked higher—to heaven. Life and death alike bore witness that nowhere were they dwellers on earth. Even as they dwelt in tents as pilgrims, strangers in the land of promise as a land not their own, (yet theirs in hope that makes not ashamed), so they declared plainly throughout that they were in quest of a fatherland on high. Many an opportunity presented itself to return to their old country, had such been their mind. Though they knew not Jesus as we, nor had they as yet known redemption or the Holy Spirit as the Christian, yet their path may well engage us to sing more steadfastly the well-known lines, slightly modified,
We're bound for yonder land{br}Where Jesus sits supreme;{br}We leave the shore at His command,{br}Forsaking all for Him.
'Tweer easy, did we choose,{br}Again to reach the shore;{br}But this is what our souls refuse—{br}We'll never touch it more.
We look for Him Who is not here but risen. It is the world, and we are not of the world, as He is not, Who is coming to receive us to Himself and give us a mansion in the Father's house. For His rejection unto the death of the cross and ascension to heaven have made the earth to us His empty tomb. But we await the glory to be revealed when all the groaning creation shall follow suite of God's heirs, and our bodies changed into the likeness of Christ's body of glory shall herald the regeneration in the delivering power of the Redeemer.
No interpretation is farther from truth than that of Grotius and his followers who cannot rise above Judea and Jerusalem in a better state. Had this been all God saw in the life and death of these fathers, He would have been ashamed of them, to be called their God. But it is not so. They were men of faith, and looked above, not as a mere sentiment but in living power, as their detractors did not. And God is not the God of the dead but of the living. They live to Him, and shall appear in glory with Christ, when the promises too take effect fully in that day of reprisals. God prepared for them a city better than man's eye looks on.

Naked

HERE was the immediate effect of sin in our first parents— “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons,” or girdles. There was the sense of shame as well of guilt, and they sought to hide it from themselves and from each other.
It is all in vain. Conscience was at work, but not before God or toward Him: else had they cried to Him in self-judgment and sorrowful confession of the evil they had done. “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in thy sight,” said the penitent king. Yet it might be said that his iniquity was grievous wrong to a devoted servant and his wife, hitherto blameless. Adulterous seduction of the woman! Planned death for the man! What could be worse offenses against one's neighbor? But the contrite heart, even in such a case, justly feels that, whatever the crime before man, sin is against God so as to eclipse all else.
Unabashed innocence was gone. Adam and Eve, once guilty, felt the shame of sin; and their first effort was to cover their persons as they could. They knew that they were naked, when they had disobeyed God. But fig leaves cannot cover sin; and they knew this too, when they heard the voice of the LORD God the same day. For sin is against Him, and His voice when heard awakens terror in the guilty.
How good for such (and we all are, or have been, such) to know David's “instruction” in Psa. 32 “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed is the mean unto whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” What a blessing when God covers sin by Christ's sacrifice! Without this all else is vain. For, being sinners, we must come as sinners before God, Who refuses any other approach to Him in the first place. How perverse is unbelief Men strive to come as saints, which they are not, and refuse to come as sinners, which they are and nothing else. Why do they thus evade the truth to their own hurt as well as God's dishonor? Because they have no confidence in His grace. But His grace brings salvation, for it is possible only through Another. Heaven is through Christ alone, and consequently it is by faith. For faith receives the testimony or witness God has borne concerning His Son. And the witness is this that God gives the believer eternal life, and this life is in His Son. So absolutely true is this, that it is added: “he that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:10-12.
The work of Christ, as the fruit of God's grace, takes guile from the spirit. His blood purges the conscience. The useless apron or girdle, the filthy garment, is taken away; “the best robe” is put on. Shame gives place to uprightness, and perfect love casts out fear. Such are the riches of God's grace to him who believes in Christ. The pretension to work for pardon, peace, cleansing, or life, denies the guilt and ruin of the sinner. “Now 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 reckoned for righteousness” (Rom. 4:4, 5). The ungodly, the sinner, deserves judgment, which is perdition, by his works; but the gospel is sent to him as a lost one, that believing he may be justified and saved. What grace! Yet is it God's righteousness, Who gives the believer what Christ's work deserves; and thus only in the cross of Christ, where man's evil came out to the uttermost, grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life.
See to it then that you rest on Christ only according to God's word. Without Him faith were as vain as baptism, to say nothing of works. Else when clothed, as the apostle says (2 Cor. 5:3), you will be found naked. For all must rise, unjust as well as just. And the clothing of the resurrection body will not hide but disclose the real condition. Christ alone meets the nakedness of the sinner; He washes, cleanses, and clothes for the eye of God. Without Christ, even when clothed, you will be found naked: a paradox in natural things; a certain truth spiritually. For in that day there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known.

Morsels From Family Records: 3. Ezra 2:59-63

“And these were they which went up from Tel-melah, Tel-parsa, Cherub, Addan and Immer; but they could not show their father's house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel: the children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred, fifty and two. And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai (which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their own name). These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found; therefore were they, as polluted, put from their priesthood. And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim” (Ezra 2:59-63; Neh. 7:61-65).
The above quotation conclusively proves how great was the importance to Israelites of carefully preserving their several family registers. Having drawn attention to this particular portion, we need add nothing further with respect to the same: because we rather desire to make a few remarks upon those two remarkable lists which immediately preceded those given above.
Proceeding backwards we read (Ezra 2:55; Neh. 7:57) of
“THE CHILDREN OF SOLOMON'S SERVANTS, &C., &C.”
Who these persons were descended from, is made perfectly clear in 1 Kings 9:20, 21. Of these brought before our notice as bond-servants in the glorious days of the first kingdom, on Israel's return from captivity—the children of eleven of these aborigines are honorably mentioned as sharing the fortunes of the nation. Had these eleven, whose names are recorded, specially distinguished themselves by their whole-hearted devotedness each to his particular servile task? But their children should ever be clearly distinguished from
“THE NETHINIM,”
who at the very same time occupied a very different position. We believe that it is very generally understood that these latter were descendants of those Gibeonites, who obtained a league by craft from Israel, and were by Joshua condemned to perpetual servitude, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of God (Josh. 9:22, 23).
But though their first step proved thus faulty, their second step redounded to their own honor, when they, perceiving that peace with the people of God involved conflict with their neighbors on all sides, hesitated not to show that they preferred peace, with the bond-service to Israel, to returning to their old footing with their former acquaintances (Josh. 10:6). And the sun and moon stood still while Israel avenged themselves upon those who gathered themselves together for the purpose of crushing the power of Gibeon.
Because Saul slew the Gibeonites, Israel was visited with three years' famine (2 Sam. 21:1, 2). During Saul's reign, where was the ark of God? In obscurity certainly (1 Chron. 13:3), but kept in safety in Kirjath-jearim, one of the four cities of the Gibeonites (Josh. 9:17). When David reigned, where was the Tabernacle pitched? Even at Gibeon! so that, during those very critical times, to the honor of the Gibeonites it redounds, that one of their cities proved a safe resting place for the Ark, and another held the Tabernacle (2 Chron. 1:3, 4).
When Ezra would lead up a company of Israelites from Babylon, and found that no Levites were present, he sent to Iddo for “ministers for the house of our God.” Certain Levites promptly responded, and with them came 220 Nethinim, “whom David and the princes had given for the service of the Levites.” His company being now considered complete, he started, after fasting and prayer, to go up to Jerusalem.
With reference to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the allusion to the Nethinim is couched in language rather obscure. Whether the meaning intended to be conveyed is, that while others rebuilt the wall, the Nethinim renovated the tower of Ophel (situate on the wall, 2 Chron. 27:3) is not quite clear (Neh. 3:26).
One fact, more remarkable in itself than even the very long list of the Nethinim who returned with Zerubbabel, given in both Ezra and Nehemiah, remains to be mentioned. When gathered in solemn assembly, the covenant was sealed by the leaders of the people, the Nethinim (i.e. Amorites on Israel's first entrance into Canaan, 1 Sam. 10; 11:2) entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's law he., and not to intermarry with the peoples of the land! For though they were actually descendants of the Amorites, they were now most thoroughly incorporated with the nation of Israel. With the faithful in Israel, these men of faith were blessed.

Scripture Sketches: Caleb

IF ever a hopeful disposition were needed, it was when Israel fell into wailings of despair on hearing from the spies such an “evil report” of the dangers before them in Canaan, of the gigantic sons of Anak, and the cities walled up to heaven. But two or three men were undismayed. Caleb strode forward, for “he had another spirit in him,” and had “wholly followed the Lord;” and he vehemently urged an immediate advance. “Let us go up at once and possess it,” he said, “for we are well able to overcome it.” Had the people taken his advice instead of trying to stone him, they would not have had to wander in the wilderness for forty years and leave their carcasses there in the end.
Caleb was distinguished by a high, intrepid courage, which, like that of the great Macedonian, desired an empire of wars and difficulties for its sphere. When such a man is consecrated to the service of God, what can he not do? We then lose sight of the mere vulgar successes of earthly conquerors, and survey, in a far higher realm, conflicts more daring and victories infinitely more enduring. Horatius on the Tiber Bridge, defying the sixty thousand Tuscans, shows not a more audacious valor than that shown in the attempt to capture for God the millions of China by the missionary Morrison, or Japan by Xavier, or the Eskimos by Stachs, or the “inarticulate” Terra del Fuegians, in their dense and dreadful abasement, by Gardiner. Such victories may perhaps still be achieved by men, who, like Caleb, “wholly follow the Lord,” and who have the impetuous courage of faith and hope.
Whilst, as a warrior, he bore a great resemblance to men like Clive, who with the three thousand, dashes against seventy thousand at Plassey, or Cortes wrecking his ships and marching against a whole nation with a handful of men; he bears most resemblance to Alexander the Great, who continually did such feats as these, but who, above all other men of his time, showed that temper of sanguine and princely generosity which is so often allied to a high and dashing valor. “What will you have left for yourself,” said Perdiccas to him, “if you give everything away thus?” “Hope,” he replied, and, with such as he, hope is more than all beside.
The pessimism of unbelief is one of the deadliest of evils. If it were not for the Calebs who keep up faith and courage in spite of a whole nation's wailing and despairing, what enterprise would ever have been undertaken? In this way the early missionaries, midst universal discouragement, prepared their ventures to attack the citadels of evil: and we have seen with what marvelous result, when even men who reject Christianity, acknowledge with admiration, as Dr. Darwin did, the effects of the holy lives and teachings of the soldiers of the cross on people of the very lowest types. But those who supposed that the day for discouraging such work was past have of late been roughly undeceived, when we have a “Parliament of religions” convened to assist a played-out Christianity, and when in a concourse of ecclesiastical dignitaries it is announced that Christianity in Africa is a failure, and that Mohammedanism is better adapted to raise men in the low condition of the negroes! Mohammedanism, that debases and enslaves its womankind, that says the sword is the key of heaven, that sets the poor negro tribes slaughtering one another in order to carry off the survivors in chain-gangs for slaves! What would Vanderkemp, Moffatt, and Livingstone have thought of that? What would the missionary Shaw's wife have said? When they used to tell her how dangerous and far beneath any hope of Christian influence the Kaffirs were, she replied, “If these people are so bad as to be guilty of such atrocities, there is all the more need that we should go forward and teach them better.”
It is fit that such discouraging statements should be accompanied by calculations as to how much money it costs for each conversion. Go to, now; let us see then what it does cost to convert a soul! But set down first the labors, sufferings, tears and blood of the great Protomartyr and His disciples; and when that is done, let whoever has a heart capable of it, add on the sordid shillings and pence. Let him next bring the factors to a common denominator—if he can.
When the poor pilgrim got in the Slough of Despond, says the Dreamer, there came one to him who showed him certain stones on which to step, by which he was kept from sinking, and safely reached
the solid ground. The Dreamer's sole and sufficient comment on this graphic figure is contained in the two words in the margin, “The promises.” This was the reason that he did not sink into the mire of unbelief like the others. He rested on God's promises. Five and forty years after Caleb had been promised the personal possession of Kirjath-Arba, he lodged his claim for it, and got it—giants, walls, and all.
A man like this will retain his youthful heart and sanguine energy to the last—unless it is broken down by some crushing disaster (which a more phlegmatic nature would perhaps better endure). When he is eighty-five years old, he asks to be given the work of capturing the most difficult fortress in the country, which he straightway storms with his usual dashing prowess, scaling the heaven-high walls, and overthrowing the giant sons of Anak. When too old, twenty years later, to lead an assault himself, he throws his heart into the fray, as Douglas threw the Bruce's heart amongst the Moors: he promises to give his daughter to the man who will capture Kirjath-sepber. In his later years we can detect a suggestion of that garrulity which we are so ready to excuse, and even to encourage, in a veteran with such a record, reminding us of old Nestor in the Iliad. His last recorded action is one of characteristic generosity. Achsah asked him for watersprings, and he instantly gave her the upper springs and the nether springs, twice as much as she desired.

The Revelation as God Gave It: 2

Before examining the alleged paradoxes and improbable consequents of taking the millennial reign literally, and putting to the test Bishop H.'s “fair, safe, and orthodox constructions,” let us take a general survey of scriptural truth.
Besides life and incorruption brought to light through the gospel, two great subjects are prominent in the written word, the kingdom of God, and the church of God: the latter, which, established in N. T. times, closes (as far as itself is concerned) all distinction of Jews and Gentiles, and hence gives a mysterious form to the kingdom (Matt. 13.) when concurrent with it; and the former, which was the central fact of the Old T., as it will be displayed in power and glory, after the Lord's appearing to judge the living and dead (2 Tim. 4:1).
Theology has confounded these two totally different matters to the incalculable injury of revealed truth; and so hindered both the Lord's glory and the blessing of souls. Hence the importance of bringing to a clear issue a question of the greatest gravity for all that hold the doctrine of Christ, maintain the foundations intact, and desire sure growth in the truth. The author put to the test is inferior to none in godliness, acquirements, and general reliability; and if he acquiesced in prevalent views, it was with singular freedom from personal fads.
There is another truth overlooked in its capital importance, the real root of all failure in spiritual intelligence. Neither Israel nor even the church is the prime object of God, but His glory in Christ. Every Christian ought to feel this when presented seriously to him; but in practice, nay in doctrine also, it is apt to be obscured and forgotten to the mind's inevitable darkening. Yet what can be more certain? All His counsels, all His ways, center in Christ, as He alone is personally and absolutely worthy, the One in Whom His soul delighted, Who emptied and humbled Himself to the uttermost to glorify Him in a world of evil, in order that He might righteously and in love give effect to His grace and display His glory, even before the eternal rest, when nothing but good abides, and all evil is done away in solemn endless judgment, and God is all in all.
Christ, then, the Son, the Word made flesh, is the One Who alone explains all revelation, as He alone is the accomplisher and accomplishment of all divine purpose, in Whom His nature and character, His gracious designs, and His righteous ways, find their moral justification in His sight and their manifest glorification before the universe. Incarnation gives us His person glorifying His Father obediently in the midst of the old creation. His infinite work on the cross was the basis of redemption; His resurrection and ascension were God's placing Him at His right hand, as head of the new creation. But as yet the new creation applies solely here below to those that are in Christ, who have also the Holy Spirit given them, seal of their acceptance and earnest of the coming inheritance; for we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. But as He is head of the body, the church, even so are we His members, baptized by One Spirit into one body, God's habitation also by the Spirit. And this is what God is doing while Christ is glorified on high-calling out and gathering together His sons and heirs, who therefore await Christ's coming as their heavenly hope, and who love His appearing which will put down every evil and establish God's kingdom indisputably in power and glory to the joy of all the earth.
Even this implies Christ's various glory; and the Christian who can see no more in the written word than the church's blessedness in Him falls into an error akin to the Israelite who left room only for Jehovah's association with the chosen nation. The effect of the error is even worse for the Christian than the Jew. For the latter (however inexcusable in his unbelief of Jesus) is quite right in looking for the restoration of the people, Judah and Ephraim no longer alienated but united in their land, under Messiah's reign and the new covenant; and a kingdom therefore, not figurative but proper though spiritual also and everlasting while the earth endures. Then too the Gentiles, however blessed, are subordinate and willingly own the first dominion given by Jehovah to the daughter of Zion; and all the earth sings praises to Him that judges the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity. The Christian who tortures the prophets by hearing only of a spiritual Israel, and makes Zion and Jerusalem, Judah and Ephraim, to be nothing but the church, loses the sense of his own distinctively heavenly privileges as made known in the N. T., and defrauds the nation of their grand and peculiar hopes, in the incomparable mercy of God (faithful in spite of their unfaithfulness), but ere long to be the blessed and beloved of Jehovah at the feet of their once crucified but then adored Messiah, never more to be rooted out of the land.
Does this seem marvelous in men's eyes? The real marvel is that any who heed the word of God can be ignorant of it. Isaiah, to take the first in order and the richest of all the O.T prophets, overflows with this hope for Israel from his earliest chapter to his latest. So chap. 1., after laying bare the sins of the people and their reduction to a little remnant, declares that Jehovah will deal with His adversaries, purge away the dross of His people, and restore their judges as at the first and their counselors as at the beginning. Has this ever been verified for the returned remnant? As none can say so with truth, it is equally clear that it is wholly distinct from the blessings of the church or the gospel, which were not introduced as Israel's will be by a downpour of judgments.
Isa. 2 is just as clear for Israel by-and-by, as distinct from what the bishop calls “the evangelical church.” For us Christ is the heavenly center, and the gospel goes forth to all nations. Is it only Popery that falsely claims an earthly center for all the nations to flow to its spurious Zion, whence goes forth the canon-law, not the gospel? But whether it be Protestant confusion or Papal pretension, the word of the Lord in Matt. 24. is the disproof of both; inasmuch as He sets the world's state till He come again in evident contrast with the prophet's picture of universal peace after His world-kingdom is come, as predicted in Rev. 11:15, 17, and elsewhere.
Equally plain is Isa. 4. that the Lord will not wash away the filth of Zion or the blood of Jerusalem, save “by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning,” in contradistinction from the grace of God which has now appeared presenting salvation to all, founded on the characteristically different starting point of Christ bearing the divine judgment of sin on the cross, not the day of Jehovah in the valley of decision for all the nations, Then and thus only will deliverance come for the ancient people of God, as indeed for all nations and the earth. The gospel and the church are alike based on the atoning death of Christ, His resurrection, and His ascension to heaven, whence He sent forth not judgments but the Spirit of grace, as both gospel and church are its fruit and witness. The contrast is no less certain than momentous; and the confusion of theology most mischievous.
Thus might we pass through the fertile field of prophecy, with no other result than the fuller confirmation of the all-important distinction already traced. For scripture is harmonious and cannot be broken. Ascertain the mind of God in a single authority of His word, and all else must surely be consistent and will corroborate it; as on the other hand, when an error is assumed, every witness cited will be found to expose it, as we have seen in the bishop's misuse of Zech. 2. and Isa. 65. Nor this only; for the positive truth shines out, that the displayed kingdom of Jehovah is the main testimony on which the O. T. prophets converge; and all tell more or less of the stupendous judgments which usher it in, when Israel shall take them captive whose captives they were, and shall rule over their oppressors (Isa. 14.). “And it shall come to pass in that day that Jehovah will punish the hosts of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth on the earth. And they shall be brought together, an assemblage of prisoners for the pit, and shall be shut up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited. And the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for Jehovah shall reign on mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients [shall be] glory (24).” This (and it is but a sample, however brilliant, of those living oracles) speaks of a state of things different wholly from either the post-exilic Jews, or “the evangelical church.” Further, it is not at all what scripture shows of the church glorified in heaven, any more than on earth sharing Christ's rejection and suffering. It is precisely and exclusively, what the prophet professes it to be, the Jewish people no longer a prey to evil and enemies, but brought, through terrific judgments on the wicked among themselves and all nations, to trust in Jehovah forever, and to acknowledge Him Whom they erst despised as their king coming with power and glory in Jehovah's name, the Righteous Servant in Whose hand Jehovah's pleasure shall prosper.
The apostle in Rom. 11. particularly warns believers now against that very snare into which theology has fallen. “Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee. Behold then God's goodness and severity: toward them that fell severity; but toward thee goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off... For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that obdurateness in part hath befallen Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved, as is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins” (vers. 20-27). Can any language be plainer or more solemn for all who refuse the siren voice of tradition and cleave only to God's word? Can any saint venture to say that the Gentile profession continued in God's goodness, more than the Jewish or natural branches of the olive tree? What mean Popery, superstition, infidelity, worldliness of every kind, within Christendom? and even believers playing fast and loose with these horrible evils, as if the ever present Holy Ghost tolerated them? Yet the inevitable sentence is, “Thou also shalt be cut off": no promise of restoration, but the positive assurance of excision. The judgment of Christendom is sure, and the moral signs of its approach manifest. It is a fond “conceit” that its end on earth will be spiritual beauty and glory, enlargement universally, or the overthrow of its enemies. Babylon will be judged finally and unsparingly; Jerusalem will be restored to such blessing and glory as it never had under David or Solomon, to such as only the One greater than either can and will effect. Of this glorious consummation the prophets sing in full chorus.
Ours is quite another destiny. The body of Christ on earth, as united to our Head in heaven, we shall be His bride, the heavenly Eve of the Last Adam. King is His relation to Israel, as He will be of all the nations. Never is He so spoken of in relation to the Christian or the church: we are one with Him, and shall reign with Him. Hence He is said to be given as Head to the church over all things. The traditional confusion, of which this pious bishop was the exponent, as many others are to-day, loses sight of our peculiar relationship, its present privileges and future hopes; as it denies to Israel its distinctive and pledged promises, is a deep wound to God's predictions, and descends for the church from heaven to earth. And what havoc and perversion for God's word, Old and New!

Letter on Assembly: Part 2

I will now turn to another and important mark of God's assembly given in chaps, 10. and 11. of the first epistle to the Corinthians, viz.—a due regard for the Lord's Table and supper. Upon these points the Corinthians had doubtless been fully instructed by the apostle, during the year and six months of his ministry among them (Acts 18:11); nor does he bring them forward as new, but says he had received of the Lord that which also he delivered (past tense) unto them. Yet how little did they know the power of the truth, and how feeble, nay, how stagnant, their jealousy for the honor of Christ! A mere knowledge of the letter of the truth will not at all suffice to preserve the soul; the truth must be held in communion with God in the power of the Holy Ghost, or the soul is but little profited, and the Lord but little glorified in His saints.
It will be observed that the apostle presents two different ideas in the two chapters referred to; first, the Lord's table, and afterward, the Lord's supper—various aspects of the same thing, I know, but the distinction should be kept clearly before our minds. In chap. 10. the great thought before the mind of the Spirit is fellowship, which will explain the fact of the cup being placed before the loaf; for apart from the precious blood of Christ (of which the cup so expressively speaks), how could there be any fellowship of saints? And further, the apostle adds a truth concerning the loaf which is not found in chap. 11., viz., that it sets forth the “one body,” of which all the saints on earth form a part, and of which Christ in glory is the Head. In chap. 11. the great point is the remembrance of Christ: in chap. 10. rather, as I have said, the fellowship of saints, and therefore the added truth. It is important to see that eating and drinking is, according to this scripture, an expression of fellowship, which the Corinthians had apparently entirely lost sight of. Else how dare they enter the temple of an idol, and eat things offered there in sacrifice? especially as idol-worship is in reality the worship of demons. In doing so they were provoking the Lord to jealousy—a serious consideration at all times for the saints; as the apostle solemnly asks, “Are we stronger than He”? A right understanding of the truth conveyed in chap 10, will deliver the Christian from independency and unholiness, two serious evils which, without doubt, go hand in hand. If we really believe that all the saints on earth form one body—Christ's body, how can we harbor the thought in our hearts of independency? and if we really understand that eating and drinking means fellowship, how can we be indifferent as to the persons with whom we sit down? The truth, evenly held in the power of the Spirit, and bowed to in all its parts, will preserve the soul from these and the many other snares laid by the ever watchful foe for our feet.
Passing to chap. 11., the apostle says, “I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you.” Paul was not one of the privileged few who sat with the Lord in the upper chamber on that memorable night; but the Head of the church had not left him to glean the particulars of the precious feast from the twelve, but chose, in divine wisdom, to make it a subject of special revelation to him. Not so did the Lord act with regard to that other Christian institution, baptism; we have no record of any special revelation concerning that to Paul, though he was himself baptized, and practiced baptism as a servant of Christ. Why the difference? Surely because the supper is the great standing expression of the church's unity (and was not Paul the apostle of the church?), whilst baptism is an individual thing, expressive of the believer's identification with Christ in His death, but in no way connected with the assembly. The Lord's supper is a memorial feast; it brings before our hearts not merely the Lord's work, important though it is, but the Lord Himself in His sufferings and death. While breaking bread thus, we are gathered to a living Christ, Who is ever in the midst where the two or three are gathered to His name; but we remember a dead Christ. How loudly does the loaf speak of His holy body prepared for Him by divine power (Psa. 40.), formed without a taint of sin, and offered up once for all! (Heb. 10.) And how powerfully does the cup speak of that precious blood, which alone makes atonement for the soul, shed forth at the altar—the cross of Calvary! Well does the Spirit say, “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come.” What shall we say of the pseudo-spirituality which regards the precious memorial as a carnal ordinance, with the Spirit's own plain words before us, “till He come”? Not till that day are those who love His name, and who would do His will, free from the responsibility and privilege of breaking bread in remembrance of Himself. The words as often raise an important question, which the scriptures answer plainly to a simple mind. Acts 20:7, shows the custom of saints in Paul's day: “Upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread,” &c., and the words are even a little stronger than they appear, for the best authorities read, “when we came together.” What can the simple mind, desirous of doing the Lord's will, want more? Such words are a plain intimation that saints in the church's early days, met on “the first day of the week” to remember their Lord in His appointed way. And surely this is not too often where the heart's affections are towards Christ? where is the love of the one who finds it irksome to show the Lord's death so frequently? and what day more suitable than that which bears witness to His resurrection—the Victorious One, alive for evermore?
There is urgent need for care in handling such precious memorials, as the apostle shows in 1 Cor. 11:27-29. The Corinthians had not so far departed from the truth as to welcome unworthy persons (that was reserved for the Christendom of a later day); but there was a danger of themselves eating in a very unworthy way, and this the apostle solemnly points out: “Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” The saints to whom these words were written were eating and drinking with unexercised hearts, in utter forgetfulness of what they were doing. It is for saints to examine themselves in the light of the Lord's presence, before going up to His table to remember Him in the breaking of bread. Not that unworthy eating on the part of saints involves “damnation,” as the Authorized Version of ver. 29 wrongly states; but such indifference to the Lord's honor brings down the hand of the Lord in judgment. If we are forgetful of what is due to Him, He never can be, and will vindicate Himself and clear His name. To be near to God is very blessed, but also very solemn, for judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4), the world's judgment being still delayed in the long-suffering grace of God. The truth of this was experienced by the lax Corinthian saints, for many among them were weak and sickly, and many slept. Had they judged themselves, they would not have been judged, for it gives the heart of the Lord no pleasure to deal thus with His own; but holiness must be maintained. Yet even here grace is seen, for “when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” When the world is dealt with for its iniquity and rejection of Christ, the believer is, through grace, exempt, his judgment having been borne once for all by the Blessed One; but he is chastened now by a holy yet loving hand, if he walks not fruitfully to the glory of Christ.
May the Lord help us to value our privileges, and give to us an ever deepening sense of what is due to Him, in a cold and indifferent day!

Scripture Query and Answer: Omission of Dan in Revelation 7

Q.—Why is Dan omitted in Rev. 7.
A.-Not because this tribe is not to have its share in the future partition and blessing; for Ezek. 48. enumerates it as the first and most northerly of all. A tradition among the fathers prevailed, founded on Gen. 49:17, that it was because antichrist was to spring from this tribe. It is certain that it was the first to sanction idolatry: an evil reprobated the more solemnly in the Revelation, because it will revive as the judgment of the quick draws near. It seems also omitted among the genealogies of the early chapters of 1 Chronicles.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:1-2

THE chapter opens with a brief and calm notice of a mysterious fact, on which heathen mythology revels much. What scripture does say is pregnant; but the reticence on such a theme is as suggestive of holiness, as man's tradition as usual indulges prurient curiosity. The recital no doubt seems strange to minds accustomed to reason from existing phenomena and disposed to discredit what is “marvelous” in men's eyes or all that is beyond common sense. Yet Peter and Jude render striking testimony, not only to the truth of the narrative and the divine judgment of the exceptional sin committed, but to the solemn and needed warning it renders to guilty Christendom. God has not spoken in vain whether by Moses at the beginning of the O.T, or by those two inspired men verging on the close of the N. T. If any one has a mind to read a scathing exposure of modern unbelief as expressed by the commentators Patrick or Gill, D'Oyly and Mant, Scott or A. Clarke, he can find it in Dr. S. R. Maitland's Eruvin, Essay vi. 124, (Sze. Henry Ainsworth in his Annotations and Matthew Henry in his Commentary were no better. There is a slight difference in the popular view, some holding the sons of God to be great men, or nobles; others, the progeny of Seth.
But it is impossible to deny that “sons of God,” in the early books of the Bible (Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7), are found appropriated to angels. So in a slightly different form of the Hebrew we read in Psa. 29:1, and 89:6. When the prophet Hosea predicts in chap. 1:10 (or 2:1) what the apostle Paul applied (Rom. 9:26) to the present call of Gentiles during the eclipse of Israel, the phrase is pointedly distinct, besides its having no retrospective bearing. Indeed in the Alexandrine MS. of the Septuagint version of Gen. 6:2, for υἱοὶ of the Vatican is read οἱ ἄγγελοι. But apart from this, which goes rather beyond the place of a translator, there is nο ground from Ο.Τ. usage to question that the application of the phrase is to angels, and not to men even if faithful and righteous. And the apostolic reference is indisputable. Peter and Jude, regarding the awful crisis at the end of this age in the light of this scripture, though from quite different aspects, bear the concurrent testimony of the Holy Spirit that angels were here intended by “sons of God.”
This to a believer in divine inspiration is decisive. God knew all and cannot lie. Difficulties there assuredly are to us, who know little of what is possible to beings so far transcending human estate. But we learn even from the reserved terms employed in the original text and the inspired comments that angelic commerce with mankind was exceptionally heinous in itself and in its results. God therefore avenged the flagrant departure from all the bounds He had laid down for the indigenous dwellers on high, as well as for the creatures of earthly mold by a judgment that slumbered not nor spared either. For it is evident that the fruits of the iniquity no less than the guilty mothers perished in the deluge; while the appalling sentence of consignment to everlasting bonds under darkness befell such angels as kept not their own first estate, to await the great day's judgment. Their lot, so different from that of the devil and his angels, marks the enormity of their sin for which God cast them into Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4). They had so daringly abused their liberty that they were handed over to the gloomiest custody; unlike the rest of the fallen angels, who have even access to heaven and accuse the saints and deceive the whole habitable earth as yet.
“And it came to pass when mankind began to multiply on the face of the ground and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of mankind that they [were] fair and they took to them wives of all that they chose” (verses 1, 2).
Such, we shall see, was the prelude of the deluge, the apostasy of the antediluvian world, the horrible commingling of these sons of God with the daughters of men, which led to such violence and corruption as brought down destruction from the hand of God. Yet it is instructive to notice how the fact stated in our chapter, and pointedly applied by Peter and still more plainly by Jude, is not merely evaded but denounced, if not by the earlier, by the later, fathers Greek and Latin, by some of the Rabbis, and by many of the Reformers as utterly impossible and unworthy of credit.
Abuse on a priori grounds is vain against the direct force of the record according to unquestionable usage, and as interpreted by the highest authority of the N. T., so clearly as to leave no doubt for any soul subject to the written word. That angels could appear as men is beyond controversy, and eat or drink if they pleased is certain from scripture. It is not for believers to recoil from the further and fullest intimations of God's word, because we cannot account for that which was avowedly a strange and portentous violation of nature, i.e. of God's holy will. But if He pledges His word that so it was before the flood, outrageous as it may seem and really was, who are we, who are any, to set up human opinion, and deride as well as oppose the confirmed and reiterated declaration of Holy Writ?
Philosophic difficulties are trifles light as air against scripture; especially as the explanation which takes the place of the literal meaning, supported by the full induction of O.T usage, lands the popular hypothesis in a trivial sense, unsuitable to O.T. thought and expression, and foreign or misleading to the context, as will appear when we examine verses that follow. Calvin's preference of his own judgment to the word drove him, not only to slur over the earlier statements of Gen. 6., but to get rid of the peculiar dealing of God: intimated in the Epistles of Peter and Jude for the apostate angels. Thus he says “We are not to imagine a certain place in which the devils are shut up! for the apostle simply intended to teach us how miserable their condition is, since they apostatized and lost their dignity! For wherever they go they drag with them their own chains, and remain involved in darkness!” Such is the fruit of insubjection to plain scripture, because of our incapacity to understand or explain: a pious man in what is obscure misled to explain away and contradict what is transparently irreconcilable with and corrective of his superficial view! Faith alone is always right: whether we can answer objections or remove difficulties is another question, and merely one of our spiritual measure. In this it is wise and comely not to have high thoughts above what one ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt a measure of faith to each.

Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 6

FAITH thus won the blessing, as unbelief had encouraged the adversaries and stopped for a while the work for God. The prophets were used to recall the people to God, His word, and His work, before the world-power interfered on their behalf.
“Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. And there was found at Achmetha [Ecbatana], in the fortress that is in the province of Media, a roll, and therein was thus written for a record: In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem. Let the house be built for a place where they offer sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits; and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; with three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber. And let the expenses be given out of the king's house and also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to its place: and thou shalt put them in the house of God. Now therefore, Tattenai, governor beyond the river, Shethar-bozenai and your companions of the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, he ye far from thence; let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in its place. Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to these elders of the Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, expenses be given with all diligence unto these men, that they be not hindered. And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the word of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: that they may offer sacrifices of sweet savor unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let a beam be pulled out from his house, and let him be lifted up and fastened thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this: and the God that hath caused his name to dwell there overthrow all kings and peoples, that shall put forth their hand to alter [the same], to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with all diligence.
“Then Tattenai, the governor beyond the river, Shethar-bozenai, and their companions, because that Darius the king had sent, did accordingly with all diligence. And the elders of the Jews builded and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. And the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy. And they offered at the dedication of this house of God a hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel twelve he-goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. And they set the priests in their courses, and the Levites in their divisions, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.
“And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth [day] of the first month. For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure: and they killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek Jehovah the God of Israel, did eat, and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for Jehovah had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the King of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel” (vers. 1-22).
Thus the authority of the great king was brought on the scene only to confirm God's word and servants, and to compel the homage and help of those who had sought to hinder. What an encouragement to look above the hills to Him that sits in the heavens! And, as we read, the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah. The commandment of the God of Israel had its just and primary place; and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, came in subordinately. The people were spared further chastening. The work was finished in Darius' sixth year. The dedication was kept with joy, with due recognition not only of the captives returned but of “all Israel,” “according to the number of the tribes of Israel.” Care was taken of order also. For they set the priests in their courses, and the Levites in their classes for the service of God in Jerusalem, “as it is written in the book of Moses.” A time of ruin in no way warrants relaxation as to scripture; it calls for special heed in those who care for God's house. Their resources were exceedingly diminished; but they were obedient to the word.
And the Holy Spirit draws attention to their celebration of the passover in its season (vers. 19-22).
Here the zealous care of the priests and the Levites is remarkable: they had purified themselves as one man, and were all pure. This had not been the case even during Hezekiah's earnest reformation, when the provision of the second month for the wilderness was requisite for the land, and both priests and Levites hallowed themselves with many in the congregation, who could not keep it in the first month. Now the due order was observed. Nor was it only by the captives who came from Babylon. Grace welcomed all such as had separated themselves to them from the filthiness of the nations of the land to seek Jehovah the God of Israel. The strangers are no less welcome than the remnant; and they kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy. It is of all moment to stand on the ground of God's people; not pretending to be Israel, when in truth they were a feeble few; not in the pride that forgets sin and ruin, but in the faith that cleaves to that ground which grace gives and keeps, refusing every substitute for it. It was that part of God's people which was visible.
Neither the glory of Jehovah appeared now, nor fire from before Him consumed the offerings: both had been unsuited to a day of ruin and small things. Nor would true faith look for either. No greater privilege, no higher honor, as things are: the pretension to more is only flesh, which opens the door to Satan. But faith is entitled to gladness of heart, whatever the sorrow over God's broken and scattered people. So Jehovah made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. Let the path be narrow, and the heart large. The broad way is fatal, not only to souls, but to God's glory.

Song of Solomon 6

THE inquiry of the daughters of Jerusalem serves but to draw out the progress of the bride in her appreciation of the Bridegroom's worth and love, as well as of her value for the relationship.
“Whither is thy Beloved gone,
Thou fairest among women?
Whither hath thy Beloved turned,
And we will seek him with thee?
My Beloved is gone down to his garden,
to the beds of spice,
To feed in the gardens and to gather lilies.
I [am] my Beloved's, and my Beloved [is] mine:
He feedeth [his] flock among the lilies.
Thou [art] fair, my love, as Tirzah,
Comely as Jerusalem,
Terrible as bannered [hosts].
Turn away thine eyes from me,
For they overcome me,
Thy hair [is] as a flock of goats
On the slopes of Gilead.
Thy teeth [are] like a flock of ewes
Which go up from the washing,
Which have all borne twins,
And none [is] bereaved among them.
As a piece of a pomegranate [are] thy temples
Behind thy veil.
There are threescore queens and fourscore
concubines,
And virgins without number.
My dove, mine undefiled, is one;
She [is] the only one of her mother,
She [is] the choice one of her that bare her.
The daughters saw her and called her blessed;
The queens and the concubines, and they
praised her.
Who [is] she [that] looketh forth as the dawn,
Fair as the moon,
Clear as the sun,
Terrible as bannered [hosts]?
I went down into the garden of nuts,
To see the verdure of the valley,
To see whether the vine budded—
The pomegranates blossomed.
Before I was aware,
My soul set me [in] the chariots of my willing people.
Return, return, O Shulamite;
Return, return, that we may look upon thee? What look ye upon in the Shulamite?
As upon the dance of two camps (Mahanaim).' (vers. 1-13).
How wonderful is the grace of God always and in every relationship! On His side, on the part of Him Who alone is His perfect image, the accomplisher of His counsels and the expression of His ways, love abiding though never insensitive to the failure of the object of His love, and ever turning the failure to the correction of faults and a deepening sense of relationship. So it is here. In the earlier stage (chap. 2:16) said the bride, My Beloved [is] mine, and I His. And this is the right order of apprehension. She thinks of Him as the object before her heart and rejoices that He is here though even then she can say that she belongs to Him. But the exercises of soul through which she passes, in consequence of her failure in answering to His love and of her review and self-judgment, lead her now as appropriately to say, “I [am] my Beloved's and my Beloved mine” (ver. 3). This is no less true, and learned experimentally more than at first; but that is now the deep feeling of her heart, and out of the abundance of it she speaks. How overwhelming that such as we should be so near to Him! and how re-assuring that the only Worthy One is ours! So Jerusalem will say in truth of heart ere long.
Then follows the Bridegroom's renewed declaration of the bride's charms in His eyes. The nations are to be blessed in that day, some of them peculiarly in that prolonged and future hour of earth's blessing to the praise of Jesus. Isa. 19:23-25 is plain enough if the ears were not dull of hearing. The blessing succeeds the judgment of Jehovah which that day opens. Instead of mutual hostility, and each seeking mastery over Israel, Egypt shall serve with Assyria: both subject to the God of Israel. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, certainly not to enfeeble, Isa. 11; 12; 14; 24-27 (to refer to nothing beyond the same prophet), but to assure all of the divine mercy to all as yet in unbelief when all Israel shall be saved and He will have mercy upon all (Rom. 11.). Jehovah of hosts shall reign on mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients in glory. The name of the city from that day is Jehovah-Shammah. How great the favor of Israel, Abraham's sons and not seed only in that day, when they shall be a blessing in the midst of the earth, not a reproach and a curse as now because of their infidelity! But when Jehovah of hosts has blessed them, it will be in large mercy, saying, Blessed be my people Egypt, and the work of my hands Assyria, and mine inheritance Israel. So near is Israel to Him, that it is in no way demeaned by being named third. The bride of the Beloved is one, His undefiled, the only one of her mother, the choice one of her that bare her; so she will sing. As Jehovah counts when writing up the peoples, This Man was born there. His blood has washed away the reproach of the blood-shedding for Jerusalem believing and blessed and a blessing. The daughters saw her and called her blessed; the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. No more rivalry and treacherous dealing of the vile called noble; for a king shall reign in righteousness and the Spirit be poured from on high to bless man on the earth, instead of severing from it those now united to Christ on high for the heavens.
When the Bridegroom looks on the bride according to her unique place and destined glory on the earth (ver. 10), as He had expressed afresh what she is for Him, He goes down to see how all flourishes by His grace, and before He is aware, His soul set Him on the chariots of His willing people in glory. It is no longer “Who is this coming up out of the wilderness”? as in chap. 3:6, where He had found her again and recalled her to Himself. Here He anticipates her triumphant glory when He leads Israel in the day of His manifested power, and they, His people no longer unwilling, have said with believing hearts, Blessed He that cometh in the name of Jehovah. Then indeed the Shulamite shall have returned from long and fruitless and sad wandering, and Israel, no longer weak, nor longer needing a staff, shall become two camps, God's host.

The Hidden Treasure and the Costly Pearl: 1

Matt. 13
THE fact that the series of parables in Matt. 13. consists of seven in number is sufficiently obvious to arrest the attention of a very ordinary reader of the chapter. But it is further to be noted that Mark is commissioned to record an additional parable (that of the secret growth of the seed, Mark 4:26-29), spoken, (it should seem) on the same occasion but omitted by Matthew, while on the other hand, Mark does not give more than two out of the seven in the first evangelist, but adds that “with many such parables spake he the word unto them as they were able to hear it” (Mark 5:33). This consideration justifies the thought, if indeed justification of such a thought be in any wise necessary, that the seven parables before us were selected by the Holy Ghost, and so arranged for some specific purpose.
Without illustrating by examples the remarkable prevalence of the number “seven” throughout the Holy Scriptures, it may be helpful to refer to a well-known series in the Old Testament and another in the New.
Under the law, the Israelites were commanded to observe seven feasts in the first seven months of the sacred year (Lev. 23.). Each of these was typical of succeeding events in the national history. The feast of the passover has a reference to the sacrifice of Christ as 1 Cor. 5. conclusively proves. This was immediately followed by that of unleavened bread, typifying the holy state which is the sure result of the shed blood of God's Lamb, true to faith now and universally in a future day. The sheaf of firstfruits undoubtedly points to the resurrection of Christ on the third day; even as the feast of wave loaves, baken with leaven, shadowed forth the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was outpoured from on high and the church was formed. This feast was in Sivan or the third month, and the fifth feast was not arranged till the seventh month. After this considerable interval the feast of trumpets came at the new moon, with its prophetic reference to that still future and effective summons God shall make to His ancient people. This was quickly succeeded by the day of atonement, in which they were to afflict their souls. It will be duly fulfilled when Israel is restored and shares the results of Christ's death for them. Then shall ensue the millennial joy of which the final feast, that of tabernacles, was the appointed type.
This rapid sketch will suffice to show that the series of feasts of Jehovah was meant to outline a complete cycle of events in the history of God's people, part of which even now awaits fulfillment.
Somewhat analogous are the addresses to the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 2; 3). They present successive phases in the history of the professing church from the decline of heart at Ephesus, through stages of indifference to and abandonment of the truth, on to the lifeless profession at Laodicea. These epistles therefore span the period from the apostolic days until the removal of the true and the destruction of the false church.
By these instances the way is prepared to see in the seven parables of Matt. 13. a representation of the rise, progress, and end of the kingdom. But while this is true, it must be remembered that the Lord delineates the kingdom in that peculiar form which it assumes in consequence of the rejection of Himself the King and during the time of His absence. And this fact is very clearly and definitely conveyed in the former chapters of the Gospel. There it is very carefully shown that Jesus of Nazareth was undoubtedly Israel's Messiah, perfectly fulfilling what God had spoken beforehand by the mouth of His holy prophets. It is likewise shown with equal distinctness that, though He was undoubtedly the Savior Who was to come, and though He wrought many mighty works in proof of the same, the nation refused to own their King; so that the kingdom could not then be manifested in the glory of which the prophets had spoken. The implacable spirit of rejection was displayed by the Pharisees in a most unmistakable way when they ascribed the miraculous power He exhibited to a Satanic origin (Matt. 9:34; 12:24). No manner of sin or blasphemy could exceed this. It struck not only at the Son of man but against the Holy Ghost by Whom He was ever energized. It could not be passed over (Matt. 12:31). Accordingly in the succeeding chapter we find that the Lord commenced to teach by means of parables the new form that the kingdom would assume in consequence of this irreconcilable opposition of the Jews.
The parables of Matt. 13 are divisible into two groups, into one of which the first four fall, as having been spoken to the multitudes, in contradistinction to the last three which were spoken privately to the disciples in the house. In the former group the man-ward aspects of the kingdom are portrayed: and in the latter those divine characteristics discernible alone to faith.
In the introductory parable of the sower and the soils, the Lord shows that all depended on the manner of the reception of the word of the kingdom. The sons of the kingdom would be not the natural seed of Abraham, but those who heard the word and understood it (ver. 23). In the other three parables of this group (the wheat and the tares, the mustard tree becoming a great tree, and the leavened meal) the Master unfolds the strange fact that, so far from evil being rooted out of the kingdom by the exercise of inflexible righteousness, it will spring up side by side with good, and eventually so permeate the kingdom as to impart its character to the whole.
The fulfillment of this prophecy, after the Lord went away, may be gathered from the inspired history of apostolic times, and may be observed in the condition of things surrounding us at the present moment. An absolutely pure Christian association is unknown. Evil men and evil principles creep in unawares, so that the Lord's servants are unable to distinguish between the wheat and the tares, and both are growing together until harvest. The poor and despised assembly of God left its first estate and became a prominent worldly power in the earth, thus affording a shelter for the very emissaries of evil that in its early stage were its sworn foes. And not only does this debased state of Christendom arise from an unholy alliance with worldly power, but evil originates from within, going on to leaven the whole lump. So the apostle warned the Ephesian elders, both of the grievous wolves that should enter in, not sparing the flock and also of men that should arise from themselves, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them (Acts 20:29, 30). Deterioration would originate from interior as well as exterior causes.
This then would be the outward aspect of the kingdom as existing upon the earth, subsequent to the Lord's departure and prior to His return when His angels will gather out of His kingdom “all things that do offend and them which do iniquity” (Matt. 13:41). Herein it afforded a direct contrast to the prophetic descriptions of the Old Testament. They describe a state of righteousness and peace when the Lord Jesus sits upon the throne of David. Then evil will be subdued; and “truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven” (Psa. 85:11). But until then, as these parables show, evil is seen in closest association with good, even in that which bears the Lord's name.
However, in the succeeding parables spoken to the disciples only, that aspect of the kingdom is given which can be apprehended by faith alone. The natural eye would never discern the truth foreshadowed in the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price. What appears among men as an indiscriminate and heterogeneous mass is here shown to contain what is valuable and beautiful. At these two parables it is proposed to look more closely (D. V.), on a future occasion. In the last picture the final separation is presented as it affects the good rather than the evil.
THE “body” and the “house” differ manifestly. The church is the house of God, and the body of Christ glorified. God's body it never is nor could be called. “My dead bodies” in Isa. 26:19 simply expresses Jehovah's affection for the Jews when restored after so long a death.

The Sinner Saved: Part 2

Luke 7:36-50
BUT God, rich in mercy toward sinners, drew the woman that was a sinner, to the Lord Jesus. Who else could meet her guilt and shame and misery? And we are told that she brought with her an alabaster box or flask of ointment. It is better to say unguent (for when men speak of “ointment,” not a few think of provision for a wound or sore). It was a precious unguent fit for a king's use. But those unhappy women, living by their shameless ways, often spend recklessly on their faces in order to recommend their persons. It is not said she bought the unguent for the purpose, but that she “brought” it. One can scarce doubt that she bought it for her own purposes. All was now changed. It was the most precious thing she had in the world, and therefore she brought it with a full heart for Jesus. She did not consult the apostles nor ask the virgin Mary. Yet nothing could be more comely, or appropriate, than her conduct. Who taught her? The Spirit of God. It was because her heart was opened to the power of the grace of Jesus. She needed no tongue of man to tell her now. In the depths of her soul she knew by the teaching of God's Spirit that there was none to compare with Jesus; and she was right.
This entirely changed all her thoughts and affections. Christ was now her life, however little she understood it, transforming accordingly her character, and forming new ways. Instead of being as formerly the brazen-faced woman, henceforth she became modest and humble. Christ made her forget herself altogether—a thing otherwise impossible to any; and how in contrast with all her life before! Why should we wonder? Such is the true and spontaneous effect of Christ on the soul that believes on Him. Who could fail to observe the marked change? and all the more because she forgot the others and hid herself behind the Lord Jesus.
Up to that day she sought the eye of men; now she thought of none but that Savior. What now were any other eyes to her? Time was when she planted herself boldly and tried to catch if she could get the least admiration from anyone; but now for her soul “Jesus only”! And when she ventured in with her cruse of unguent, she stood behind at His feet weeping. What an unexpected marvel of moral beauty! It was the life of Christ manifesting itself in suited ways. She was standing as a penitent behind Him. Never did she think of coming before His face? She did not reason on it; but in truth He could give peace behind, just as readily as in front. Behind was her place. She knew by a divinely given instinct that He Who gave eyes to the blind and raised the dead would understand her need and distress and repentance. Yes, and she understood Him better than by any human intelligence.
Alas! that any should wish to reduce the Lord Jesus as much as possible to the level of an ordinary man. “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.” The woman knew better, as she stood behind at His feet weeping. It is known, of course, that they did not sit on chairs as we do, but when taking their meals, lay reclining on couches with their feet stretched out for their convenience behind them. Thus the woman could reach Christ's feet readily, because they appearing without would be accessible to her as He lay reclining at table. Not only did she weep, but “began to wash His feet with tears.” Who would have thought of this but a woman deeply feeling and changed from all her old ways? She also wiped His feet with the hairs of her head. Ah! how often had those hairs been like nets to catch loose and foolish men: now they were used to wipe the feet of Jesus. “And she kissed His feet, and anointed them with the unguent.”
There were those who looked upon that scene with very different eyes. First of all turn to Simon: he had little estimate of the Lord when he asked Him to his house. This was plain enough in that he did not kiss Him (which was the usual mark of kindness in a host); nor did he give water for His feet, which was only common courtesy. He perhaps said to himself, “A man like that ought to feel highly honored, if he is asked to my house, and I give him a dinner.” But now that he saw a loose woman thus engaged, he was sure that Jesus could not be what he was thought. A prophet to his mind must be more rigid than a Pharisee; and assuredly a Pharisee would have walked on the other side of the road with a scowl at the woman, if he deigned to notice her at all. All turned in his mind against the Savior. “He spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner.” How far from the blessed truth that Jesus came for sinners, not for little only but for confessedly great sinners! Who can be conceived worse than “the lost”? What does it mean now, what by-and-by when God enters into judgment? Simon entirely missed the mind of God in his thought. He was like the Pharisees generally in the darkness of nature, whilst flattering himself that he was a guide of the blind and an instructor of the foolish.
The Lord proved that He was a prophet and infinitely more than a prophet. He read the man's heart as well as the woman's, and, yet more, He revealed God's love. Not that Simon uttered a word but thought his evil saying within himself. “And Jesus, answering,” i.e., the unuttered judgment of Simon's mind, “said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee,” giving the parable of the two debtors, the great and the small. “And when they had nothing to pay, he [the creditor] frankly forgave them both. [Tell me] which of those therefore will love him most” (ver. 42). “I suppose,” said Simon, “he to whom he forgave most.” Thus did Simon unconsciously condemn himself and vindicate the grace of God. There was a man without real sense of sin, with no sense whatever of forgiveness and consequently without fear of God (Psa. 130:4), to say nothing of love. There was the woman who truly acknowledged her enormous debt in presence of grace. Her love was real and great; in faith she came to Him Who will in no wise cast out, and did not doubt that the great Savior would look on the great sinner, compassionating even her; and so He did. “She loved much,” Simon not at all. As our Lord said, Simon had rightly judged the truth in the abstract, but, having no faith, he hated and despised the Lord.
It was equally plain that the woman loved after a new and divine sort. What produced this? Faith in Jesus. Love without faith is of no account with God, absolutely worthless, merely human. Faith is the root, and love is the fruit as here. “And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment” (vers. 44-46).
O my friends, why not go and spread out your guilt before Him? Why tarry longer in willing bondage to Satan, when the Deliverer is near to save you? He knows all already, so that you may honestly confess all to the Lord. And how did she tell it? By her tears, her ways, her heart. Nor was she wrong. For He recognized the faith His own grace produced. The word of God speaks of doing the truth, as she did now. Words of truth are good; but acts are more powerful sometimes than any words of man. And there was the only Man that could read the heart and interpret it justly, truly, and graciously. This was everything to the woman, now turned from darkness to light, sanctified to God by faith in Christ, a jewel that will shine in His presence for evermore.
Dear souls, are you to be one of His to receive forgiveness and inheritance among the sanctified like her? The only way is to be at His feet now, taking the place of the lost sinner at once. Doubt not His salvation by grace. It is not exactly saying that from a lost sinner you may be a saved sinner, but a sinner saved. There is no small difference between the two. A “saved sinner” is a common phrase, which might lead a man to think that he may sin after being saved without any ado; that God allows him quite naturally to go sinning and sinning. But the word to the family of God is, “we write unto you that ye sin not” (1 John 2) For the sinner, when he obeys the call of God, becomes the saint, in other words a man separated from sin, the world, and Satan, unto God. Nobody denies that the old man is still there as a fact, but to his faith crucified with Christ, that he should not serve sin. But in himself what weakness, and how exposed to snares, and his path full of dangers! He is like one going through a furnace with his pockets full of powder. He needs a mighty Guide and Protector; and this and far more is Christ, on Whom God calls him to hang as a child clings to its mother. Without Him the Christian can do nothing acceptable to God—can bear no fruit.
We need, therefore, all through the journey to depend on the Savior. So the woman was doing—looking to the Savior and to Him only. As she listened, what must have been her joy when she heard the Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of the world, vindicate her and God's wisdom with that erring child of folly, now by His grace a child of wisdom evermore! Whatever may have been your folly, it is high time now to become a child of the wisdom that comes down from above. Beware of the earthly kind, earthly, sensual, devilish. What He was to the woman once so depraved, He will be even to you in the midst of your sins to deliver you from them. Do not wait to get a better character, but go as you are to the Lord. We do not know that this woman had been even the day before brought to hate herself and her sins. Even at the moment she entered the house, she was known only and significantly as “a sinner.” What time or means or power of reform had she? No, it was Jesus attracted her; grace, yea God, she found in Him. It is the grace of the Lord Jesus that produced faith; and all that is good and holy follows: grace sees to it. Beyond doubt I am called to believe. If I believe not, I neither judge my sins and sinfulness, nor know the true God. Jesus is nothing to me. If I believe in Him, it is all mine; and all yours if and when you believe in Him. How good is our God! He has sent His own Son to do the work of redemption, to suffer for our sins. So Christ applies the parable.
Do not confound this woman with Mary in John's Gospel (not named by Matthew and Mark). The one anointing took place at the end of the Lord's ministry, the other far earlier which Luke here records. The one was the anointing of Himself by a saint devoted to Him; the other by a sinner without a character, just being brought to God. They were wholly different facts. We do not find Mary of Bethany weeping over the Lord, or any sign of penitence there. If you speak of some resemblance, how could there but be, if divine love worked in the heart of either the lately abandoned woman or the long proved child of God?
Some have supposed her to be Mary Magdalene. This is another of the fallacies of tradition, and irreconcilable with scripture. Mary of Magdala comes forward first in the next chapter (Luke 8.) as a stranger. “And certain women which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others.” These are brought before us as altogether new persons. This Mary is nowhere spoken of as having been a woman of loose life; hers was the dreadful lot of having seven demons dwelling in her—an extremely awful case as a prey to the power of the devil, whether men believe it or not. Such is the difference that scripture makes between the two women.
To confound the penitent with Mary of Bethany, or Mary of Magdala, is one of those moral blunders theologians make with regard to the Bible, of which none would dream if dealing with any other book. Men let loose their fancy when they read or write on the Bible. They betray far less with other books. They like to lower God's book. Take up the Bible as a mere divinity student, and you will never understand it. You must approach God and it as a sinner. The scribe of this age, the “higher critic,” is insensible and lost to all its blessing. The Bible judges man; but if I set up for such unworthy criticism, I am judging the Bible, which is the essence of infidelity; for who and what is man to judge God and His word? Yet this spirit of infidelity was never so rife as now in Christendom, and never before so abundant in Great Britain, to say nothing of less favored lands, whatever some prophesy of a good time coming. It is a day of rebuke and blasphemy. It is an hour of many antichrists. The Word personal is humanized, no less than the written word. May grace give you who believe the love and reverence of the new born penitent!
The person who reads this divine story in faith gets a true and holy and profitable view of God's way with a sinner. The grace of the Lord does not tell us who the woman was. There are men and women curious to know all about her. What the Christian wants to learn is just what God reveals. The Lord threw a gracious veil over the woman's name. It is enough for us to know that, bad as she had been, grace saved her forever; and this means a new life given, as well as propitiation made in due time. What edification for you or me or any to hear her name? We shall know her in heaven; we ought to see and admire the holy love which withholds her name, while disclosing her misdeeds sufficiently. We hear that her sins were “many.” The Christian has not a good word to say about himself; and if you were known as God knows you, who would have a good word to say about you? Oh, let us have the very best word to say of the Savior, as He warrants me to say His good words to you. Indeed the Lord is a Savior in earnest and a friend in need; a Savior to the uttermost and above all price. The love of Christ, how rich and true! It was His love which, by the action of the Holy Ghost, reproduced its like in the woman's heart.
To His host the Lord turned and said,” Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins which are many are forgiven; for she loved much.” The word “for” is sometimes a reason why, and sometimes an evidence why. In this case it is the evidential “for,” not the causative. It was not because she loved much that the Lord forgave her. It was His grace that caused her love.
But there is more. “And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.” Without this, declared to herself, how much would have been lost It was a great thing to hear Him tell those that judged her and misjudged Him (which was far worse), “I say unto thee (Simon), Her sins, which are many, are forgiven “; but how much more when He deigned to turn round even to her and say, “Thy sins are forgiven!” And you think all this quite extraordinary; and so indeed it is. But let no one think himself a real Christian till he is in the enjoyment of this primary blessing of the gospel. For what is it but the Lord saying to you, not of course in a dream or in transient feeling, but by the precious word which you receive from God, “Thy sins are forgiven?” How can you sing and praise with joyful heart if your sins are not forgiven? There can be no genuine thanksgiving, no cry to Abba Father, unless you know your sins forgiven. Until then, you dread God; and fear has torment; but when consciously forgiven on divine testimony, you rest on God's love to you in the Lord Jesus. Thenceforward, what matters anything the devil can insinuate? what man or woman say? or the world may frown?
It is impossible, some affirm (nay many a minister constantly teaches), that anyone can tell whether his sins are forgiven. Really one might think from such unbelieving ignorance that people had gone back to heathenism. Were there no Savior, they could truly say it; and so they might, if there were no divinely inspired record of the Savior. But for what is the written word given, but that we may know that forgiveness is as much for us who believe as for her?
What was the effect on the Jews that had the law and the prophets, but disbelieved Jesus? Very much the same as on those who, having the scripture now, hesitate to receive forgiveness at His word. “Who is this,” they said, “that can forgive sins also”? They had heard of His healing the lame, feeding the hungry miraculously, performing all wonders of power and love; but now He had gone so far as to forgive sins also: who had ever heard the like of that? Was it not God's prerogative? Undoubtedly. How does the Lord answer them?
He said to the woman, “Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.” How simple, suited, and beautiful! It is not “Thy love hath saved thee.” She did love and much; yet not this but her faith saved her. You recollect, perhaps, a natural philosopher (once a missionary) who flooded the country with a little book crying up love as the greatest thing in the world. It is the greatest thing where there is living faith; without faith it is not divine but merely human and of the creature.
Now God accepts not what is of the creature as between Him and the guilty soul. But His saving grace has appeared to bless the soul, however guilty; and the entrance of blessing into it is and must be through faith; and love and hope follow. Hence the Lord says, “Thy faith hath saved thee.” Listen not to deceivers, who are self-deceived; listen to no words of charm, no matter how sweet they sound. Friends of error may be by your side; enemies of the truth may rise up against you. Jesus, the Son of God, is more and nearer to a needy soul than all beside. We shall all give account of ourselves to God. We must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ. Those who mislead will not answer for you, nor avail you. Can you say, with that manifestation in view, that you are “always confident”? Does the Lord look you in the face and say to your spiritual ears, “Thy faith hath saved thee”? It is not in heaven He says this first, but here on earth; and what we have received from Him on earth, we will not lose in heaven. If we have not heard His voice here, do not expect to hear it there. A resurrection of judgment awaits you, if you believe not.
To the woman He said more: not only “Thy faith hath saved thee,” but “go in peace.” Think what a blessed word and passport it is, “go in peace” from the lips of Jesus! Whatever may come, let the trying circumstances be as they may—adversity, poverty, sickness, or death; opposition, detraction, persecution, or aught else—whatever changes be in the course of this life, His word to every believer is, “go in peace.” Look therefore to God now, rest on the name of Jesus. You are about to return to your home, and to partake of the food that is needful for the body; but is not His message of forgiveness far more than food? Is not He infinitely more than any earthly good? You hope to enjoy a refreshing rest to-night; but what is this compared with “go in peace” from the Savior? Think of him who fared sumptuously every day; with his purple, and fine linen, and every luxury that wealthy selfishness could command; but he died and was buried, and in hell, or Hades, “he lifted up his eyes, being in torments.” May this never be your portion! The only security against it is Jesus. You require nothing good to bring. Bring your sins—yourself with all your sins on you. If you come confessing your sins, but believing on Jesus, He will blot them all out. When told to wash and be clean, do not say as Naaman, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel '"? When the sinner comes to the fountain opened for all uncleanness, he is purified. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin.” “This is He that came by water and blood.” The grace of the Savior can and will bless you as you are. May you not put God's assuring word from you, not neglect so great salvation!

Hebrews 11:17-19

Last of these instances, which set out the patience of faith, comes the crowning trial of Abraham; and worthily does it close the list.
By faith Abraham, being tried, (hath) offered up Isaac, and he that accepted to himself the promises was offering up his only-begotten son, as to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called, having counted that even from the dead God [is] able to raise; whence also in a figure (parable) he received him” (Heb. 11:17-19).
It was indeed putting the father of the faithful to the severest test conceivable, not only abandoning to the altar his only son and heir, and sacrificing him with his own hand, but jeopardizing to all appearance the promises both for his seed and in it blessing for all families of the earth. Alike natural affection, and religious hope when raised to high degree and wide extent by God's word in Isaac, seemed to reason by such a command arbitrarily, distressingly, and irrevocably lost. But we can see with James (James 3:2), that faith wrought with his works, and that by works faith was perfected. In earlier days in hope against hope he believed, to his becoming father of many nations, according to what had been spoken, So shall thy seed be (Rom. 4). Now when the child of the promise was given, how tremendous the wrench at the summons of God so true and gracious! Yet he hesitated through unbelief no more at the surrender, in its form to him most painful, than before at the promise in spite of its utter improbability. Such is faith, in which Abraham found strength, giving glory to God.
But there is somewhat more precious and specifically instructive in this instance reserved to the final place for Abraham after the general notice of the patriarchs. Nowhere in the O.T. do we find such absolute trust in God, as when the father was proved willing to sacrifice his only son, with whom were bound up all God's promises and his own expectations. To man death is the end of hope; to God it is but the occasion to exercise the power of resurrection; and in the assurance of this power on behalf of Isaac Abraham confided without a waver. He rose early in the morning, he took his beloved son, and “on the third day” he saw the place afar off. Arrived there he built the altar, laid the wood in order, bound Isaac, laid him on the altar, and took the knife to slay him, when the angel of Jehovah interposed at the last moment. The proof was complete. Faith then could go no farther. God was absolutely counted on to make good in resurrection the seed (and the promises in the seed) given up at His word to die. What fresh gain for Abraham, as for all who, doing His will, give up all that is dearest after the flesh, to receive all better than ever in resurrection! In a figure Abraham recovered his son as from among the dead.
God Himself beheld in that solemn transaction the figure of His own gift of the Only-begotten Son of God, Whom He spared not but delivered up for us all. For Him no substitute was or could be found, if our sins were to be judged and borne and blotted out. In the antitype, far more truly and fully than in the type, God did provide Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, in His Son the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. In His case the death was as real as the resurrection; and the efficacy of the Saviour's death such that, while the special promises remain for the numerous seed another day fast approaching, in Him the one risen Seed blessing is come, as the apostle showed the Galatians (chap. 3.), to Gentiles as freely as to Jews. It was outside flesh and beyond law, it was founded on sacrifice and declared in resurrection, heavenly glory being its full and proper display.
See now Christ has made the truth plain in this case as in every other; for indeed He is the truth. He was the true grain of wheat, which, if it fell not into the ground and died, abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit. He came that believers might have life and might have it abundantly. He is the Good Shepherd and laid down His life for the sheep. And on this account the Father loved Him, because He laid down His life that He might take it again. No one took it from Him, but He laid it down of Himself. He, and He only from the glory of His person, had title as well as power to lay it down, as He alone had just the same authority to take it again. Hence He, the Son of man, was glorified in death, and God was glorified in Him. And as God was thus morally glorified in Him, God also glorified Him in Himself, and glorified Him immediately after redemption at His right hand, instead of only waiting for the day when He shall come again in power and glory for the world-kingdom. It was Christ cut off and having nothing (Dan. 9:26); but if He thus gave up His rights as Messiah and accomplished redemption in His death, God raised Him, not only to secure all that seemed lost but to better things, to be heir of all things in heaven and on earth, and to have heavenly joint-heirs, as well as His ancient people and all nations here below.
To the Hebrews addressed, what could be more telling and instructive? Was it hard to see a light that bedimmed the golden lamp of the temple, and all the splendor of the law? God has provided for us some better thing through Christ dead and risen and ascended.

Where Art Thou?

Gen. 3:8-9
THE word of God is truth, where and when ever written, be the matter in hand what it may. How solemn when He, from Whom no appeal can be, is personally addressing man! So it was here when man had just fallen. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where [art] thou?” (vers. 8, 9).
Man was gone from God; and it was now manifest and undeniable. Even before Jehovah Elohim called Adam and Eve into His presence, the fall was working its evil consequences. They were ashamed for the first time, and they sought to hide their shame from themselves and from one another. When they heard the voice of the LORD God, terror was added exceedingly, yet in vain; for how can man escape if summoned there?
Before the fall, how delightful was His gracious presence, Who planted the garden in Eden, and therein put the man He had formed! And out of the ground made Jehovah Elohim to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, besides the two trees in the midst of the garden, the silent witnesses of truth beyond all the others. A river too for watering the garden was not wanting, which after that parted and became four heads. Into this garden then did the LORD God put the man to dress and keep it. More than this He brought every animal of the field and every fowl of the heavens to the man, to see what he would call them; and whatever man called each became its name. But more than all this (the sign of his being the possessor and lord of the lower creation) was the deep interest of Jehovah Elohim in building woman out of the man, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, to be his wife.
But sin now made God's presence most alarming. Man's conscience was bad; and the divine presence, instead of awakening love and gratitude, terrified them to the utmost. The fig leaves failed. Adam and his wife bid themselves among the trees of the garden. The summons told the sad truth: “Where art thou?” Gone from God! Till man sinned, there was no question of judgment. Sin made it necessary for God to judge him. From this man shrinks; his guilt cannot be hidden, and God must judge.
What has man done since? What have you done, dear reader? Added sin to sin. So the Psalmist, writing some thousands of years after, confesses that men are all gone out of the way; and this not of heathen merely who knew not God, but of those that knew Him and His law; for whatsoever the law saith, it speaketh to those that are under the law. But now God commands men that they should all everywhere repent, inasmuch as He has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world, or habitable earth, in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance to all men in that He raised Him from the dead.
Oh, hear His call, while it is called To-day. For this is the day of grace. As God came in quest of man who hid away from. Him, convicted him of his sins, yet revealed the Seed of the woman to crush the great enemy of God and man; so Christ has already come, been made sin on the cross, was there and then once offered to bear sins in His own body on the tree. To Him does God direct the eye of faith. He is the one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. He is the unfailing Savior, being God as well as man. He suffered once for all for sins, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God. And “be it known to you therefore, through this Man is preached [not promised merely, but preached] unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe [to none other is it pledged] are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38, 39).
You are not only gone from God but lost as you are. For when God in Christ came into the world to reconcile men to God, they would not have Him but cast Him out of His own world; they crucified and slew Him. Such is man's position after all God's dealings: he is lost. But the gospel, which says so, makes known God's salvation in Christ without money or price on man's part, as in truth it cost God everything, His message therefore is that, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up [and so He has been], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Do you think that this is too easy a way to be saved, too uncertain for you to trust? Alas! the thought betrays your unbelief. For no way was so hard, even for God, as to give His own Son that you might live through Him, and that He might die in propitiation for your sins. And the only certainty a soul on earth can have is from receiving God's witness concerning His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him; he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar, because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning His Son. And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life (1 John 5).

Scripture Sketches: Othniel

THERE are three phases of public spirit. That, firstly, which is like some of the Swiss toybarometers—the little man comes out boldly in fine weather and retires carefully in foul. These fair-weather friends are to be welcomed but not trusted. Then, there are those who are never heard of at all but when there is trouble, at which times they will appear, like the “Mother Carey's chickens” flapping round the heads of the wearied and embarrassed sailors, and greatly enjoying the commotion. But there are also those noble and devoted spirits that prefer to be unnoticed so long as there is calm and prosperity, yet who are ever ready in the crucial hour of danger to come forward to labor, endure, or die for the common weal. When a great storm bursts on the coast, we presently see a few stalwart men, with rough stern faces, strong frames, and stout hearts, hastening out into the blinding tempest to rescue the doomed crew of some wreck. We wonder who they are and whence they came. To-morrow we shall look for them in vain. They will have returned quietly to their fishing nets, with that same quality of magnanimous serenity with which Cincinnatus returned to his plow, or Hampden to his estate, or Washington to his farm.
To this last class belonged Othniel, of whom we read but very little, yet that little conveys suggestions of one of the finest characters which the world has known, one who combined (with military ability and heroism of the highest order) the wisdom and capacity of the most competent statesmanship—a union of qualities so rare that history contains very few (perhaps not a dozen) parallels. Like some men of this type, Othniel is obscure and unknown until some great national emergency arises or some exceptionally arduous public service has to be attempted. Then in a few words we are told that he does the work; the brief, absolute manner of the narration conveying the idea that he has gone forward quietly and accomplished all that was required by a few swift strong blows, and then retired silently to his ordinary daily duties as though nothing particular had occurred. In this way, when the capture of Kirjath-Sepher proves too difficult for anyone else, Othniel storms and carries it; and later on when Israel is crushed by the foreign yoke of Chusan-rishathaim, God's Holy Spirit arouses this puissant warrior again to come forth and, with a mighty overthrow, to cast off His people's bonds. Then comes a most significant statement. Othniel is appointed a judge of Israel, and during his rule, “the land had rest—forty years.”
Happy is the country that has no “history “that is, in the vulgar sense of the word, a record of wars, treaties, and conflicting dynasties. Happy is the country when a ruler's long reign can be written in two or three clauses thus: An arduous and heroic enterprise; a mighty and effectual salvation; a wise and tranquil reign. The curse of an earthly deliverer usually is that, when he has saved his nation, and finds himself with a great military force in his power, his ardor of battle and lust of conquest is so great that he then goes about carrying fire and sword into other nations; he likes a spirited foreign policy, until either he inflicts every horror of war wherever his foot treads, or else the people in a frenzy of hatred and despair combine to cast him off the face of the earth. They hurl him at last from Moscow to St. Helena. But Othniel had evidently no more lust of conquest than a Hampden or a Washington. To one like this, “the next dreadful thing to a battle lost is a battle won.” He now shows himself as wise and strong to govern his own people and keep them in peaceful development, as he has already been to conquer their oppressors.
Through the stern and somber records of these events there twice passes an interlude of idyllic brightness. Caleb had given his daughter as bride to Othniel, on his capturing Kirjath-Sepher, and he had given her a field, which however lacked water-springs in order to make it properly fruitful. We have then a sunlit vision of the bride alighting from her beast, approaching the old warrior, and presenting her request with all filial reverence and confidence; and we see the war-scarred face of the veteran softened into a loving complacency, as he replies that she shall have springs in abundance, the upper springs and the lower ones too. From the position and repetition of this apparently slight episode, I consider it to be typically designed, thus: Othniel, (“Lion of God,” of Judah, Christ the Deliverer) captures Kirjath-Sepher “the city of the book,” and wins Achsah, the Bride, who receives from the Father those hidden spiritual blessings, both heavenly and earthly, Upper and Nether, without which all providential gifts are barren and worthless.

The Revelation as God Gave It: 3

UNDOUBTEDLY there are moral principles which always apply, whatever be the difference of dispensation, as truth and righteousness, love and obedience. At no time can there be license to indulge in lust, dishonesty, lying, or violence. Nor can there ever be indifference to the true God or His revealed will without sin. But as promise formed the soul and enlightened the path of the patriarchs, so the law bound Israel in due time; and now the gospel and the church are characteristic of those called of God since the appearing of Christ. The reception of the Lord into heavenly glory and the consequent mission of the Holy Spirit give rise to a new state of things distinct from all that has ever been and from what is to follow our Lord's return, when seasons of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. For this is He fore-appointed, though heaven must receive Him till times of restitution of all things whereof God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began. Pentecost, in some respects more wonderful, could not accomplish those seasons and times; for as its peculiar blessing is while Christ is received on high, so they can only be when He comes and takes the earth in hand according to prophecy. The work now proceeding is as unprecedented as the revelation of its special truth; so the apostle Paul insists often and expressly. “According to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, but now is manifested, and through prophetic scriptures (according to the commandment of the eternal God) is made known unto all the nations for obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:25, 26). “God's wisdom in a mystery, that which hath been hidden, which God ordained before the ages to our glory” (1 Cor. 2:7). “The mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; [to wit] that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:4-6). “The mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations; but now hath it been manifested to his saints” (Col. 1:26).
All this goes far beyond the predictions of the O. T., though these leave room for and justify Jehovah's hiding His face from Israel, and calling in of Gentiles meanwhile. But the N. T. furnishes the “prophetic writings” referred to, and the apostle treats it as his stewardship to let us know the new glory of Christ as Head over all the universe, and the church (wherein Jewish and Gentile conditions are alike blotted out) united to Him as His body, the Holy Spirit being the earnest of that universal inheritance. God did not reveal this unearthly glory of Christ on high while He was held out as the hope of Israel to reign in Zion; still less did He reveal that new body the church wherein He breaks down all distinctions, while He was in the O.T insisting on the great superiority of Israel over all other nations. The cross canceled all such differences. Both Jew and Gentile were alike enemies of the Lord, in Whose death of shame but of infinite efficacy the middle wall of partition was taken down; and He risen and ascended becomes the Head of the church wherein both, if believers, are alike members, His body while on earth but for the heavens. Through Him we both have the access by one Spirit unto the Father, as both are also builded together for God's habitation in the Spirit. In heaven and for heaven earthly distinctions are null.
It is quite otherwise when the Lord assumes and enforces His earthly rights, as He will when He appears in glory. Then must be got ready to receive Him the earthly people, as well as the nations. But revelation is explicit that this will not be without the execution of appalling judgments, of which the O. T. prophets are not more full than the great prophecy of the N. T. Both give unmistakable testimony that divine judgments on the guilty earth (as the Revelation adds a guiltier Christendom) precede the incoming of His manifested kingdom. People may not understand details; symbols are not to be read offhand; and above all the confusion of what God is doing now with “the age” and “the world to come,” as we hear in Hebrews, makes it impossible, so long as this exists, to be clear as to either things present or things future. For grace is now reigning through righteousness; whereas righteousness will then reign over the earth, as it has never done, before the eternal state when, all evil removed by judgment, righteousness shall dwell in holiness, peace, and love, inviolable in the heavens and on the earth throughout the day that has no end.
Our Lord Himself in His use of the prophets gives us striking help for their right application. Thus when, in the synagogue at Nazareth, He reads from Isaiah our chap. 61:1, 2, He closed the roll in the middle of a sentence after the words “to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” For this He was come, not to consume the wicked, but to save sinners. When He appears again, “the day of vengeance of our God” must take its course, in order to establish His kingdom here below, in total contrast with the grace of the gospel and the mission of the church as now.
So the Spirit of God through Matthew and John cites Zech. 9:9, omitting all that bears on His judicial dominion of the future, and bearing witness only to His lowly presentation of Himself as the true Messiah. And the reader may find illustrations of the principle elsewhere.
In the Epistles the same thing occurs. Thus in Rom. 3, the apostle quotes from Psa. 53 and Isa. 59, in order to prove that the Jews are condemned by their own inspired oracles as utterly as they condemned the heathen. There the apostle stops, and meets their demonstrated ruin by proclaiming propitiation through faith in the blood of Jesus for both Jew and Gentile. It is the gospel now. But the prophet, like the psalmist, goes on to His return and the display of His kingdom and the restoration of Israel. Both are true; yet they are not the same, but wholly different states: one following the grace of the first advent; the other awaiting the judgment of the quick when the Lord returns to reign over Israel and the earth. Those who confuse things so different have only to blame themselves and their guides, if they lose a great deal of both and see nothing as clearly as they might but for the oversight that misleads them. In that day no corrupters, no false teachers or prophets, nor antichrists, can be—not even a crooked or perverse generation, nor any likeness to the days of Noah or those of Lot, though at the end Satan is let loose to sift all whose obedience was feigned, not being born of God.
What can be plainer than that the Lord contemplates but a “little flock” now, whilst the prophet speaks of Israel as a whole righteous in that day, and all nations as blessed? And no wonder; when they all flow to the common center where the mountain of Jehovah's house is established, to be taught of His ways and to walk in His paths. But never will this be, till there be a day of Jehovah of hosts on all that is proud, haughty, and lifted up; never, till the idols pass away to the moles and to the bats; never, till from before His terror and from the glory of His majesty man is brought low, and Jehovah alone is exalted in that day (Isa. 2). For then, and not before shall the Branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land be excellent and comely for those that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem (Isa. 4). It is holiness universally there, and universally in profession at least among all the nations. How different from the gospel a witness only unto all, and an eclectic gathering of saints for heavenly glory, while evil men and impostors wax worse and worse from apostolic days, holding a form of godliness but denying its power, till the apostasy and the man of sin bring down overwhelming judgment inflicted by the personal appearing of the Lord Jesus!
Again, the Lord warned the disciples, while having peace in Him, of tribulation as their portion in the world (John 16); and so the apostles among the Gentiles (Acts 14). In the days of the kingdom on the contrary shall the righteous flourish, instead of suffering persecution, and abundance of peace be till the moon be no more. How could it be otherwise when the Lord shall sit on His own throne (Rev. 3:21), and have dominion not only in Zion but also from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth, when all kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him (Psa. 72)?
Nor is it only that the bulk of N. T. exhortation to the saints and a vast deal of the O.T. will then cease to apply, because of so great a change as the overthrow of Satan, when Christ takes the reins as Messiah and Son of Man in power and glory over the earth, but the principle of dealing is wholly opposed. Now for instance, while the kingdom is a mystery, the Lord forbids His servants to root out the tares sown by the enemy among the wheat. Grace reigns here also, and the righteous suffer, and the wicked speak and act proudly. But in the end of the age (harvest time), all is to be reversed: the reaping angels shall at His word gather Out of His kingdom all offenses or pitfalls, and those that practice lawlessness for judgment. Then will the magnificent promises of blessing and glory be fulfilled on the earth, as the glorious purpose of God for the heavens also, when Christ is manifest as the Head over all things to the church His body, alike the King and the Priest, the true Melchizedek, as He is in His person also the most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.
Thus the question is, not whether the earth is to be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah's glory (which all believers, intelligently or not, do indeed expect longingly), but how such a blessed consummation is to be achieved. The prediction in substance occurs in Num. 14:21, Isa. 11:9, and Hab. 2:14; and in all it is associated with the execution of divine judgments, in no case (as has been hastily and erroneously assumed) by the preaching of the gospel, the action of the church, or the dealings of providence ordinary or extraordinary. It is an honor reserved for the Lord Jesus; and He alone is worthy. No one doubts that the Holy Spirit will he afresh poured out, the latter rain, for the blessing of that day. But as it is certain that favor shown to the wicked, as now in the gospel, will not teach him righteousness as it does us that believe (Titus 2:11, 12), so we are assured by the prophet (Isa. 26:9, 10) that, when Jehovah's judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. And as the Son is now revealed full of grace and truth, as every Christian owns in Jesus our Lord; so hath the Father given Him all judgment, whether over quick or dead, that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. The believer needs no such action (for we already honor the Son in the higher and deeper way of faith), and so has eternal life in Him, and comes not into judgment, having passed out of death into life already. But His judgment awaits not only all the dead destined to that final judgment, but those living when He introduces His world-kingdom.
And this falls in perfectly with a scripture already cited from a crowd of others (Acts 3), which is conclusive that God will send Jesus from heaven, where He now is (white the gospel and the church are in operation here below), to bring in seasons of refreshing and times of restoring all things according to the prophets.
Here again we may exult as believers in the expectation which scripture forms, so essentially superior to human tradition. Those who have embraced the latter prophesy smooth things for the church and look for the reign of the gospel; and the earth's blessedness as the fruit of their own more and more triumphant labors, &c. We believe the solemn warnings of the N. T. as well as the O. T. prophets—, and testify that scripture gives no warrant for any such self-exalting hopes from church, or gospel, or providence, for the world. Scripture on the contrary sets forth from the early days ruin and departure, which even apostolic energy only stayed in measure; and it uniformly and clearly and unmistakably assures that, whatever grace may effect by the word and Spirit, for the blessing of souls called to heaven, the mystery of lawlessness (which already wrought from apostolic days of Christianity) will ripen and rise into the open rebellion or the lawless one, only to he destroyed by the appearing of the Lord Jesus. Thus we look for Christ, not only as our heavenly hope but for the adequate execution of judgment on evil and the wicked, and as the revealed introduction of the earth's predicted blessing in power, when the church is glorified on high and Israel, repentant and believing, shall lead all the nations in the praise of their Lord and their God, oven Jehovah Jesus.

Assembly and Ministry: Part 3

THE next mark of God's assembly, observable in the first epistle to the Corinthians, is the presence and sovereign action of the Holy Spirit (chaps. 12., 14.). It is important to see that the Spirit of God dwells in the saints individually, and among the saints collectively. Without going outside the present epistle, the first truth is expressed in chap. 6:19, and the second in chap. 3:16, 17. To the saints individually the apostle could say, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God:” and to the saints in their collective character, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” This is an immense, truth, too often overlooked in Christendom, to the damage of souls, and, above all, to the Lord's dishonor.
Let us consider briefly 1 Cor. 12:4., &c. The apostle tells us “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” Here we find one Spirit operating, not exclusively through one vessel, but through many; for the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. Of what value are the various gifts, if there be not liberty, when the saints are gathered, for their exercise? That such liberty obtained in the Corinthian assembly is clear from the perusal of 1 Cor. 14, which chapter gives us the practical working out of the truth expressed in chap. 12. The apostle asks in ver. 23, “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” How could such questions or exhortations be addressed in many companies in Christendom to-day? If all were wrong in speaking, whether with tongues or otherwise, why did not the apostle embrace the opportunity of saying so? Yet he does not, but he rather lays down a golden rule for all utterances in the assembly, “Let all things be done unto edifying.”
Nor is the epistle to the Corinthians alone with regard to this truth, for similar teaching is found in 1 Thess. 5:19, 22. The assembly is there urged not to quench the Spirit, but to allow Him his due place among the saints; prophesyings were not to be despised, but all was to be tested; the good only to be timid fest, and every forum of evil abstained from. To pass thence to the apostle of the circumcision, we find that each is to minister according to the measure of gift received, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, all who speak being charged to speak as the oracles of God, “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10, 11). And the writer to the twelve tribes expresses no other principle when he says, “My brethren, become not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive greater judgment” (James 3:1).
Clearly then liberty obtained in the assemblies of. God in apostolic days, for the Spirit of God to lead whatsoever He would. These gifts of the Spirit are also “administrations” (1 Cor. 12:4), and those who leave them are responsible to the Lord in the exercise of them; and it is God Who operates— “it is the same God which worketh in all.” Again this diversity of gifts is in connection with the truth of the one body. By one Spirit are all the saints baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and are all therefore members of Christ, and members one of another, mutually dependent. As in the human body every member should be in healthy exercise, and none kept in a state of disuse; so in the body of Christ there is that which every joint supplies, and what the Spirit has given to each is needed for the blessing and edification of the whole. How seriously are saints the losers who ignore all this, and who look to a humanly-appointed vessel for all their nourishment and edification! The Spirit of God will not be thus restricted. Though He is very compassionate over the saints, He is sovereign, and divides to each severally as He will.
But such a truth must be held in power, or all is vain. Wholesome and humbling is it for us to remember not only that is the Divine Spirit present when saints are gathered together, but that the flesh is present also, ever ready and ever corrupt. How it becomes us to be found in the presence of our God with examined and judged hearts, having no confidence in the flesh, but patiently waiting upon the ever-present Guide, Who will never fail or disappoint us! Whenever flesh does manifest itself, either in haste or worse, it is not because of “a rotten system,” as an unfriendly critic once said, but because of the unfaithfulness of man as a steward of the precious things of God. And the remedy is not the suppression of liberty, and the appointment of a human leader, which is the carnal way of disposing of difficulty and trial; but humiliation before God that the truth, so well-known in the letter, should be so little known in power. And where God's order is systematically set aside and God's Spirit displaced by unbelief in its many forms, how can we discern God's assembly? Failure and weakness we are bound to bear with and seek to correct, as the apostles ever did; but from false principles we must resolutely turn away. Bad practice is one thing; bad principles are quite another.
There remains another mark of God's assembly in the first epistle to the Corinthians, viz., purity of doctrine. Alas, for man! Not only had corrupt morals crept into the assembly of saints of which we have been speaking, but bad doctrine had appeared also; for there were some who denied the resurrection of the dead. This the apostle speedily dealt with (chap. 15.), and showed that if there be no resurrection of dead men, then Christ had not been raised; and if Christ had not been raised, all the preaching was vain, all who had received the testimony were not pardoned and justified but were yet in their sins, and all who had fallen asleep in Christ had perished. Those who taught this fundamental delusion probably saw not the tendency of it, until pointed out by the apostle. Had the assembly formally adopted the error, the apostle would have written in a different strain; but under the circumstances he seeks their restoration to the path of truth and simplicity.
Alas for a company of saints who willfully tolerate and are passive towards evil of a doctrinal character! Where is fidelity to Christ? where zeal for the honor of Him Who bought us with His blood? Foul doctrine is more subtle in its working than ungodly practice; the latter is obvious and readily discerned, but the heart and ear of saints need to be quick of apprehension when the former is in question. We are told by some that scripture is silent as to how to deal with false doctrine. To what effect then is Rev. 2:14, 15, 20, to say nothing of 2 John? Why should the Lord so solemnly rebuke the assemblies of Pergamos and Thyatira for allowing persons to remain among them holding and teaching false doctrine, if such is not the assembly's concern? And why should Paul deliver unto Satan Hymenæus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20)? Granted this is a case of apostolic action, and not of assembly discipline; but why done at all, if false teachers should be allowed to remain among the saints? Not a word in scripture is written in vain; every word commands our attention: when will saints see this? Holiness becomes the dwelling-place of God both in doctrine and morals; or its character is lost, and its testimony is gone.
Will any say it is difficult to carry out to day such principles as these we have been considering? It is difficult, yet not impossible, and the highest favors are promised to the loyal and true, if but “two or three.” Humility of mind, brokenness of spirit, and true dependence draw forth all grace and blessing from the ever-faithful unchanging Lord upon the throne. We may fail deeply, but He abides the same until the end.

Scripture Query and Answer: Genesis 46:26 and Acts 7:14

Q.-Gen. 46:26, with Acts 7:14: how to be explained? W. E.
A.-There is no question really of truth, but of object and mode of speech; for the original history speaks of 66 (ver. 26) and 70 (ver. 27). Even in ver. 26 the Hebrew strictly means “belong to,” rather than with “Jacob.” The 70 are his house, including more. The LXX, in their Greek version, which Stephen quotes, include five more though born in Egypt, according to the well understood usage of regarding parent and children as one.
Thoughts on Faith and Skepticism by Thomas
Andrews, F.R.S. London: James Nisbet R Co., 21, Berners Street. 1894.
This little volume devotes part i. to remarks on Christian faith, part ii. to observations on Hyper-Biblical criticism, part iii. to thoughts on modern skepticism, and part iv. to spiritualism and theosophy. There is an appendix also on atheistic teaching in French schools, on auricular confession in certain English schools, on the progress of Romanism and Ritualism in this country, and on the present attitude of the Romish body towards Protestants. May it be used of God to help unwary souls! The need is great and growing.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:3-4

THESE verses follow up the subject of that mysterious fact already stated, adding the expression of Jehovah's mind on the one hand, and on the other the far different thoughts of man.
And Jehovah said, “My Spirit shall not strive within man forever, for that he also [is] flesh, and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years. The Nephilim (giants) were on the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare to them. These [are] the heroes, mighty men who [were] of old, men of renown (the name)” (vers. 3, 4).
We may see from Job 1:6; 2:1, that various documents have nothing to do with “Jehovah” occurring here along with “sons of Elohim.” The moral question in both scriptures require “Jehovah” as such, whilst the designation of the angels as “sons of Elohim” was equally correct. Further, in the same context we have repeatedly one that feared Elohim (Job 1:1; 2:3), and the kindred language in Job 1:5, 16, 22; 2:9, 10, where Jehovah is emphatically used in that moral trial both by the inspired writer and in the mouth of job (chaps. 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 21, 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), so as to demonstrate the vanity of the hypothesis. The reason for one or other lies in the due requirement of the case, wholly independent of any imaginary change of authors. So, in our chapter of Genesis, verses 1-8 demand “Jehovah,” save in the name of the offending angels, as 9-22 call for “Elohim” without exception.
Translators and commentators differ considerably as to the rendering and scope. Onkelos and Saadiah, the Septuagint, the Syriac, and the Vulgate substantially agree in the sense of “remain” for “strive.” But the force is moral rather than physical existence, and fairly given in the A. V. Some prefer “in his wandering” instead of “for that,” which may well be. So it is said in Isa. 31:3, that Egypt is man and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit. Man had now proved himself no better. But if Jehovah warn that His Spirit will not always plead, He sets a term of patience. For the hundred and twenty years refer, not to man's span of life, but to the space given for repentance.
This verse it is, and especially it would seem “My Spirit,” to which the apostle Peter refers in his first epistle (chap. 3:18-20). He speaks of Christ put to death in flesh, but made alive in [the] Spirit, in which also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, once disobedient when the long-suffering of God was waiting in Noah's days. The second epistle too (chap. ii. characterizes Noah as a preacher of righteousness. Thus, among other ways, for he prophesied also (Gen. 9), did the Spirit of Christ which was in him point out, testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow them. It was this testimony, which made the days of God's longsuffering and of Christ's Spirit preaching through Noah so apt an allusion for the apostle. For Jews ask for signs of power, as Greeks seek wisdom, the wisdom of the age; but Christ is God's power and God's wisdom, Christ crucified to Jews a stumbling-block and to Greeks foolishness, but made to us that believe wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Believers from among the Jews (and to such the epistle was addressed) stood peculiarly exposed to the taunts of their unbelieving brethren after the flesh, who would hear only of the visible Messiah exalting Israel and putting down the nations in power and glory; as they scorned the little flock that confessed Him dead and risen and glorified in heaven, and that claimed through Him salvation of souls. Hence, of all the Jew owned true in O.T. story, nothing more suggestive than the few souls saved through the flood, when the mass perished in unbelief. Yet God sent men testimony by Noah, as He does now in the gospel. If that generation paid the penalty of slighting Christ's Spirit in the preaching then, let them beware of resisting the same Spirit still; for, though Christ be not present bodily but, in heaven and at the right hand of God, He is ready to judge living and dead; for which those who rejected the warning in Noah's day are reserved in prison, as are all unbelievers.
It might seem incredible, were it not fact, that anyone could say, “Not a word is indicated by Peter on the very far off lying allusion to the fact that the Spirit of Christ preached in Noah: not a word here, on the fact that Noah himself preached to his contemporaries.” No person has ever shown in the O. T. a case more germane to the apostle's aim, which was to strengthen the believing remnant against Jewish or any other mockery of an absent Deliverer and a spiritual deliverance only enjoyed now by faith. The allusion was strikingly near in its bearing: “very far off” in time is nothing to one who ranges through all scripture, in this very passage expressly introducing Noah, and the Spirit; as he elsewhere styles Noah “preacher of righteousness,” and those who disobeyed in his days “spirits in prison,” awaiting (as we all know) far more than a temporal judgment. Did not all this lie very near those surrounded by unbelievers who jeered at the fewness of Christians and rejected Christ's present testimony by the Spirit? The fact is that not a word connects the time of the preaching with the imprisonment of the spirits. Peter does not say that Christ went into the prison and there preached to the spirits, but that He went in the power of His Spirit and preached to the spirits that are there, disobedient as they once were in Noah's days. So the Jews were in danger through despising the Spirit of Christ now. What the text means is that their imprisonment is because they disobeyed once on a time when the longsuffering of God was waiting out in Noah's days, while an ark was being built for the few that entered and were saved. The nicest and strictest interpretation here lends not the least support to any preaching in Hades, which is foreign and opposed to the rest of God's word.
The superstitious view in effect denies and uproots the gospel, and is wholly baseless in either the O. T. or the New. Nor is the fancy inconsistent only with the testimony of scripture in general; it is opposed to the plain drift of the apostle's reference to Noah in each of his epistles. For how unmeaning, not to say inexplicable, that, if Christ be supposed to have gone in person to preach to the imprisoned spirits, those only should be singled out who had once been disobedient in Noah's days during the preparation of the ark! What revealed principle of either grace or righteousness applies to such a dealing with them in particular? Especially as the original text, Gen. 6:3, implies just the contrary—that the striving of Jehovah's Spirit was with man in this life, and that the limit to His patience with those in question was tied to the hundred and twenty years of their days on earth? To imagine the spirits of those very persons appealed to afterwards seems to annul the scripture in hand and therefore so much the less credible as an inspired comment on it. For it would involve the strange doctrine of Jehovah's striving after death, and with those exclusively who had been the objects of the longsuffering of God for an allotted period previously.
Again, the reference in 2 Peter 2 equally shuts out the notion as the dream of the untaught and unstable. For the apostle speaks of God's not sparing, not only angels when they sin and reserving them extraordinarily for judgment, but the ancient world also, though He preserved with seven others Noah, a preacher of righteousness, when He brought a flood on a world of ungodly persons (and afterward He dealt similarly with Sodom and Gomorrha); as proofs of His rescuing godly ones out of trial and keeping unrighteous people under punishment for judgment day. The heterodoxy we are considering treats these very persons, if not all the wicked dead, as kept for hearing Christ to save them from judgment! Can one conceive grosser ignorance, and, what is worse, more arrant trifling with solemn scriptures, or a more evident desire to bring their meaning to naught?
As to ver. 4, the construction is not without difficulty. It appears to distinguish between the Nephilim or giants in those days, as afterward also, and the Gibborim, mighty ones or heroes, who were the fruit of the union of the sons of God with men's daughters. In fact, notwithstanding the dark confusion of the old heathen remains, traces of this distinction are not wanting; though nothing can be more marked than the superiority of scripture in the very little it says on this painful subject over the traditional lore respecting the Giants and the Titans, which the later poets jumbled inextricably. Num. 13:33 of itself easily accounts for the clause here parenthetically marked. It may run, without parenthesis, “And also after that the sons of God....these [are] the mighty ones which were of old, men of the name,” thus distinguishing the giants and these heroes. One shrinks from boldness in speaking of such a phrase; but the latter part distinguishes a class which was not found afterward: “These [are] the heroes, who [were] of old, men of renown.” These, as being of quite a different source and character, had a fame peculiar to themselves for might. The reputation they acquired of old was not founded on mere stature, like that of the Nephilim.
In result it is clear that the bounds of creation were wickedly traversed by certain angels, and thus a peculiarly evil corruption introduced among men, where evil in its ordinary character grew apace as we are afterward shown. But that unnatural amalgam touched the rights of Jehovah, though outwardly He had left man to himself since his expulsion from Paradise; as it played its grave part in calling for divine intervention in the governmental act of the deluge of which Genesis speaks, but in those deeper, lasting, and unseen ways which the epistles of Peter and Jude reveal in unison with N. T. truth for eternity. The evasive reading of the passage which many pious ancients and moderns have adopted to escape its only fair interpretation, because it conveys what is to us beyond measure strange, if not incomprehensible how it could be, is nothing but a makeshift of unbelief. Received simply, it gives the sure, though purposely reserved, revelation on the darkest scene of old, the true source of what was expanded, after its wonted fashion in Jewish tradition and Pagan mythology. In scripture the evil was dealt with in holy judgment; among men it became the basis of fame for beneficent might on man's behalf in vain struggle against envious but superior gods: no untrue description of beings who were really demons. “Jehovah, what is man that Thou takest knowledge of him? or the son of man, that Thou makest account of him? Man is like a breath, his days are as a shadow that passeth away. Bow Thy heavens, Jehovah, and come down.”

Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 7

MORE than sixty years elapsed: a space more than adequate for the decline from the powerful impulse given to faith by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, when God, Who cannot fail, sent suited help through a pious priest till then residing in Babylon, whose very name is hence derived—Ezra. Indeed it would seem that his commission was no more permanent than Nehemiah's, who was his contemporary and appeared a few years later for awhile in Jerusalem, even then but “the place of my father's sepulchers,” as he pathetically described it to the great king. How little Josephus can be relied on appears from his statement that Ezra died old and was buried magnificently in Jerusalem (Ant. xi. v. §.65), and before Nehemiah governed, in the face of the Tirshatha's express words.
“Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest: this Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which Jehovah, the God of Israel, had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of Jehovah his God upon him. And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For upon the first of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statute and judgment.
“Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even the scribe of the words of the commandments of Jehovah, and of his statutes to Israel. Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heavens, perfect and so forth. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and their priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own free will to go to Jerusalem, go with thee. Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king and his seven counselors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thy hand; and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold that thou shalt find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem; therefore thou shalt with all diligence buy with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink offerings, and shalt offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. And whatsoever shall seem good to thee and thy brethren to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do ye after the will of your God. And the vessels that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house. And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heavens, shall require of you, it be done with all diligence, unto a hundred talents of silver, and to a hundred measures of wheat, and to a hundred baths of wine, and to a hundred baths Of oil, and salt without prescribing [how much]. Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heavens, let it be done exactly for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, the singers, porters, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll, upon them. And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God that is in thy hand, appoint magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye him that knoweth [them] not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed upon him with all diligence, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
“Blessed [be] Jehovah, the God of our fathers, who hath put [such a thing] as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of Jehovah which is in Jerusalem; and hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened according to the hand of Jehovah my God upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me” (vers. 1-28).
The people were careless, forgetful, and disobedient. They felt neither for God's glory nor for their relationship to Him. But God never ceases to be God, if His people were Lo-ammi; and faith alone reaps the blessing of His grace and issues in fidelity. They were not only few and feeble, but unfaithful; and Ezra had directed his heart to seek Jehovah's law, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statute and ordinance But this he undertakes under the authority of the Persian power that had succeeded Babylon, set supreme by the God of the heavens: a strange fact for Israel, whose apostasy from Jehovah had brought it about. In such circumstances the evil heart of unbelief, which wrought the ruin, is apt to become hard, indifferent, or despairing. Faith cleaves the more to the living God, feeling and owning the iniquity of His people, the real source of the mischief. But now that their apostasy had laid them at the feet of the Gentile world-power, God wrought in His compassion, first by prophets and His own word, now by succor according to the king's word from Babylon. And the faithful priest who enjoyed the king's confidence comes up to Jerusalem to recall the remnant to the neglected and violated law of Jehovah.
Liberty is given to all of Israel, and of their priests and the Levites, in the Persian realm, who were disposed, to go with Ezra to Jerusalem (ver. 13). Nor was he sent empty-handed to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem: the king and his seven counselors freely offered to the God of Israel, as he was to inquire “according to the law of his God which was in his hand “: a remarkable testimony from such a source (vers. 14, 15). His sacrifices and offerings were represented where He set His name, but a free discretionary power for what seemed good to Ezra and his brethren to do “according to the will of their God” (vers. 16-18). Royal liberality, not without a certain fear of God, is owned with exemption in such things from tribute in vers. 19-24: as Ezra is empowered, “after the wisdom of thy God that is in thy hand,” to appoint magistrates and judges who might judge all the people, “all such as know the laws of thy God,” and to teach him that knew them not; and this under grave sanctions of death, banishment, confiscation, or imprisonment (vers. 25, 26). All this drew forth Ezra's thanksgiving to Jehovah, the God of his fathers, as he expresses in vers. 27, 28. A soul less pious and submissive to God's will in the humiliation of Israel would have chafed. We, Christians, are not an earthly people like Israel and have no such wants as they, though needing to humble ourselves under God's mighty hand for a departure from His will yet more serious.

Song of Solomon 7

THUS will be accomplished the confident and bright anticipation of “the Israel of God,” expressed vividly in Psa. 73:24, but travestied in most versions through unbelief of their just hopes, and the consequent substitution for them of Christian feeling, quite beside the mark in the psalm of Asaph or of any other in the book. “Thou wilt guide me by [or M] thy counsel, and after glory thou wilt receive me.” So it will be with the earthly bride, but not with the heavenly; which last being assumed probably led to the singular departure from all legitimate construction, and tends to keep the unwary English reader in the continual misinterpretation of the Psalms. Christ, as made known to the church, was received up in glory on the accomplishment of redemption, and will receive us to Himself changed at His coming, before He displays us as the sharers of His heavenly glory in His kingdom. The reception of Zion, guided in a way little known and through desolating sorrow, will be after glory appears. Compare Psa. 85:9; 102:13-22, and Zech. 2:8.
Like the last chapter from ver. 4, this again is the utterance of the Bridegroom save from the latter part of ver. 9 to the end.
“How beautiful are thy steps in sandals,
Ο prince's daughter!
The joints of thy thighs like jewels,
work of the hands of a skilful artist.
Thy navel [is] a round goblet,
wanting not mixture;
Thy belly, a heap of wheat set about with lilies;
Thy two breasts are two fawns, twins of a gazelle;
Thy neck as a tower of ivory;
Thine eyes, the pool in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim;
Thy nose as the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus;
Thy head upon thee as Carmel,
and the locks of thy head as purple—
The king held captive in the tresses.
How fair and how pleasant [art] thou, love, in delights!
This thy stature [is] as a palm-tree,
and thy breasts [grape-] clusters.
I said, I will go up the palm-trees,
I will take hold of the branches thereof;
And thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine,
and the smell of thy nose as apples;
And the roof of thy mouth as the best wine
Goeth down aright for my beloved,
Gliding over the lips of those asleep.
I am my beloved's, and his desire [is] toward me.
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field,
let us lodge in the villages;
Let us get up early to the vineyards,
let us see if the vine hath budded,
The blossoms appear, the pomegranates bloom:
there will I give thee my loves.
The mandrakes yield fragrance;
and at our doors [are] all choice fruits:
New and old I have laid them up for thee, my beloved” (vers. 1-13).
It is the expression of His complacency in the bride. What a change for the Christ-despising Jew does grace effect! We know it, for ourselves too well, too little for Him. All that He accounts goodly and fragrant is of Him whether now or in that day. And the fruit of the godly remnant's progress in the knowledge of Messiah's love appears in verse 10, as compared with chaps. 2:16, and 6:3. They, as ourselves, as all that are genuine, must begin with “My Beloved is mine, and I am His.” It is the true order of grace. He looked on the bride and deigned Himself to become hers, as she is His. Now at length she wakes up to the infinite love that she once blindly and proudly refused to her ruin. Now she knows that He is the King, and that He loves her spite of all and is hers, and that she is His. Even then how much had she to learn! But she does gradually learn more and more of His love to her, and what she was in His eyes. Hence, in chap. 6:3, she can say, even after feeling her folly and the self-judgment it wrought in her, “I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine.” This is a great step in its season, and the mark of confidence in His love. And here, in chap. 7:10, it again takes the first place with language which seals her sense of His affection. “I am my Beloved's, and His desire is toward me.” Surely it is most holy and sovereign in its grace, but love that answers, by the Holy Spirit's power, to Him Who, as the prophet says, will not only save but rejoice over His bride with joy—will rest in His love and exult over her with singing.
Then will follow in due time the mission of Israel, renewed and humble, and the going out of heart for the blessing of others. What joy for all families of the earth when the ancient promise to the fathers of the faithful is literally in all its extent fulfilled! What a morrow after the long night of sin and shame and tears But this cannot be till the faithless one owns her sins and receives the Beloved, saying in truth of heart, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah. Then too, when men are blessed under the Blesser, shall the earth itself yield its long pent increase. But none the less shall Zion have her own peculiar place of love and honor here below. It is ours to enjoy and testify the grace that gathers to the glorified One in heaven, whence we look for Him and are assured He will come and take us there, even to the Father's house. But in that day Zion will be glad and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of His judgments which inaugurate earth's peace and blessedness under His righteous rule.

The Hidden Treasure and the Costly Pearl: 2

IT has already been intimated that, in the two parables or similitudes given in Matt. 13.4-46, the intrinsic worth and spiritual beauty to be found in the kingdom of heaven are shown as existing, in spite of the intermixture of evil which is apparent to the cursory glance. The wheat mingled with darnel, the wide-spreading, umbrageous tree, the meal permeated with leaven were discernible to all, and must plainly set forth the general outward appearance. But the hidden treasure and the rare and costly pearl imply qualities that could only be appreciated by the finder. And so in the great mass of Christian profession, the eyes of the world are able to very readily detect the iniquity that shelters itself under the guise of religion; but only the Eye of omniscient grace is able to mark the internal worth and the indestructible unity existing beneath such an unpromising exterior.
The former of the two parables likens the kingdom of heaven to “treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matt. 13:44).
The two prominent features in this parable are, first, the treasure hidden in the field; and second, the purchase of the field for the sake of the treasure. In the first place then, what is signified by the figure of the bidden treasure? Some have hastily assumed from Prov. 2:4 (“it thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God”) that the treasure is Christ; and that the parable has a figurative reference to the manner in which the blessings of the gospel are acquired. Without doubt, in Proverbs, the point is to inculcate a spirit of earnestness in pursuit of wisdom. As in seeking for silver and treasure, the energies are by that very fact stimulated, so it should be in the spiritual analogue. But in Matt. 13 we have a similar figure used for a different purpose. Here it is not the diligence of the searcher, so much as the value of the treasure sought that is most prominent. Besides it is not the king but the kingdom that is likened to treasure hidden in a field.
If the general trend of the series of parables be borne in mind, the meaning of the figure before us appears on the surface. In the enunciation to the crowds of the similitudes of the outward form of the kingdom in mystery, the Lord used figures that spoke of good being largely alloyed with evil. Subsequently, to his own disciples, He gave the interpretation of the wheat and the tares which in general intention resembled the leavened meal and the wide-branched mustard tree. The Lord then likens the kingdom to hidden treasure, using a similitude that suggested a pure, unmixed character and not an amalgam as before. In point of fact, the terms in which this parable is expressed forbid us to think of anything but a view of the kingdom of heaven contrasted with those that precede. In the latter, elements (such as the tares, the leaven, the birds) are introduced which tend to diminish the value it possessed in its incipient stage: but here there is nothing of the kind, its value is given without a single mark of qualification.
The first consideration of this truth leads to the reflection that God's ways of sovereign grace must be marvelous indeed when He finds, in spite of man's irreparable sinfulness and his invariable abuse of everything entrusted to him, that which from His own point of view He represents by treasure. For whatever may be the slowness of man's heart to believe all that is written, the truth abides, here and in not a few other scriptures, that God in and by means of Christ has found His good pleasure in men.
But though undoubtedly the New Testament gives us this blessed revelation in its fullest application, a similar expression is used in the Old Testament concerning God's chosen nation. From Mount Sinai, the word of Jehovah came unto the children of Israel— “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings and brought you unto myself. Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all peoples” (Ex. 19:4, 5). On account however of the transgressions of the people under the first covenant, this purpose of God was never realized. Not that it was thereby abrogated, for it still holds good that Jehovah “hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure” (Psa. 135:4). And in the millennial day this shall be owned by every nation, from the rising to the setting of the sun. For then Jehovah will save Israel, He will rejoice over her with joy, He will rest in His love, He will joy over her with singing (Zeph. 3:17).
But in the present interval, while Israel is in strange lands, the Lord finds in the midst of His nominal kingdom where evil lifts its head in unrebuked defiance of good, that which His own heart esteems a special treasure. This treasure is not the favored nation of Palestine, which, as has been shown does not come within the scope of this series of parables, but it is the N.T. saints in that ideal character which they possess in the mind and eternal purpose of God.
Now in the epistles of Paul, especially in that to the Ephesians, we have this character presented in the form of doctrine. In Matthew the time had not come to give more than a figurative reference to what the great apostle of the Gentiles was subsequently commissioned to communicate in detail. In his writings therefore, we learn that the church is destined and designed to be the vehicle for the display of divine grace and wisdom.
Thus in Ephesians, we are not only introduced to the inexpressible fullness of our blessing in Christ, but also to the inconceivable fact that by means of us His holy name will be magnified and exalted. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph. 1:5, 6), and again, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated, according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:11, 12). Here then (it is submitted with all due deference to the judgment of others) we see that character of the church in which it corresponds with the figure of “treasure” in Matt. 13:44. Treasure is such because of the use that may be made of it. And the saints are of value simply because God has deigned to utilize them as the media whereby to display His manifold wisdom. So the scriptures declare the purpose of God to be that “now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).
But this treasure is said to be “hidden in a field;” and the church, described in the Pauline epistles as a “mystery” (that is a secret, hitherto hidden but now made known), remarkably tallies with the figure. Compare Rom. 16:25, 26, Eph. 3:4, 5, 9; Col. 1:26; 2:2, 3. In this respect the church affords a contrast to the nation of Israel. For when the Israelites were called out of Egypt to be Jehovah's treasure (Ex. 19:4-6), it was not said to be hid in a field. Because their deliverance from the oppressor and their introduction to Canaan was but the due accomplishment of promises made centuries previous to Abraham their forefather. But the calling and privileges of the church were never the subject of promise. From Genesis to Malachi no revelation from on high was given concerning the church of the heavenly calling. The mystery was hidden from the sons of men, hidden in God. The divine seeker alone was aware of its existence; He alone knew and appreciated its worth. Truly there is a day coming when the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43). But Christ discerns beforehand and divests Himself of all to obtain the treasure—a treasure whose value is the product of His own grace and which apart from Him is worthless and worse.
( To be continued, D.V.).

The Changeless Christ

THE permanence of the new order of things (i.e. of Christianity), in contrast with the temporal nature of things under the law is a prominent theme in the epistle to the Hebrews. It was necessary that those accustomed to what was visible and tangible in their worship should be taught that they were now introduced to a sphere where only faith was in exercise, and where the objects of faith were not less but more real than those specially before Old Testament saints. Yet not only did the remnant of Israel, “according to the election of grace,” need to be enlightened as to the immutable basis upon which all the spiritual blessings of the believer are founded, but the saints of every succeeding age have and do find amazing comfort in the remembrance that the whole Christian edifice is reared upon the Impregnable Rock, Christ Jesus.
It was ever the ordinary expectation of the Jew that Messiah when He came would bring in something lasting as well as blessed. As the people said to the Lord, “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever” (John 12:34). But the cross seemed to put an end to all such hopes. And so in point of fact it did, as far as present earthly realization was concerned. But through the superabundant grace of God it nevertheless became the introduction to heavenly blessings, which were on that account so much the more real and permanent.
This is the central thesis of the epistle to the Hebrews, wherein the all-important fact is established that Jesus Christ is the One to Whom the believer has to look for every blessing he enjoys both now and evermore; and, above all, that upon Him no change can mile. The ancient system of ordinances was vanishing away to make room for the substance of which it was but a shadow. This and more the Holy Spirit unfolds in detail. But though Moses and Aaron, Elijah, and the prophets had been superseded, the work of the Man, Christ Jesus was as changeless as His Person was infinite and unvarying.
In Heb. 1, accordingly, the glories of the Lord Jesus are set forth. And it is as the incarnate Son that He is therein viewed; for this is in keeping with an epistle addressed to the remnant of that nation to whom He came as the chosen messenger of the Most High. Hence the apostle does not commence in the unthinkable ages of a past eternity as does John in the Gospel, but at the moment when Messiah was born in time as God's spokesman. How He exceeds in virtue of His intrinsic worth all that was revered under the law For could prophets be compared for one moment with Him Who ranked as Son, Who was both the Creator and Inheritor of all things, besides being now enthroned on high as the great Sin-Purger? Angels, too, He infinitely transcended. Though in grace He became a servant, the more excellent name of Son is His inalienable heritage. They, as the scriptures abundantly prove, were created for a state of servitude beyond which they can never advance; moreover by the homage they render the First-begotten when He cometh into the world, they testify to His divine superiority.
Again, the Psalms are cited to show that the Son is therein addressed as God (Psa. 45:6, 7). And as if anticipating the objection of a captious Jew that rulers and magistrates were similarly designated in the same book (Psa. 82:6),another scripture is advanced in which the incommunicable Name is ascribed to Him. “Thou, LORD, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands; they shall perish but thou remainest, and they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” “Jesus” to Him (Matt. 1:21) was not a mere appellation, as to the son of Nun, but accurately descriptive of His person and work as Jehovah the Savior.
Indeed, the word is the more striking since it is quoted from Psa. 102, wherein the solitude and humiliation of the suffering Messiah are vividly portrayed. It is there we read, “For my days are consumed like smoke,” and “My days are like a shadow that declineth: and I am withered like grass,” and again, “He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days. I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days (Psa. 102:3, 11, 23, 24). This is the “prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and poureth out his complaint before Jehovah.” And this cry from the depths is immediately followed by the remarkable declaration of the immutability of His person, ascribed to Him at the very moment of His apparent weakness (Psa. 102:12, 24-27). The heavens and the earth, His own handiwork, and the recognized emblems of stability among men, shall perish in contrast with His everlasting existence.
Thus, before the Spirit of God speaks of “eternal salvation” (chap. 5:9), the “unchanging priesthood” (chap. 7.), “eternal redemption” (chap. 9:12), “eternal inheritance” (chap. 9:15), the ever-efficacious sacrifice, (chap. 10.), the “immovable kingdom” (chap. 12:28), the “everlasting covenant” (chap. 13:20), He reveals the wondrous truth of the person of the Lord Jesus from Whom the blessings enumerated take their character of “eternal.” Because He is the same and His years unfailing, His work abides without decay. Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day and forever, the luster of the believer's portion in Him is undimmed, its value undiminished, and its possession unalterably secure.
How good of our God to give us (ourselves changeful in a changeful scene where naught is dependable) One Who is unchanging and in Whom we, and all we possess that is worth possessing, are secured from the depredations of the foe and from the corruption of evil within and around us. May we with the tenacity of faith lay hold of this blessed attribute of the Person of the Lord which alone can keep us “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” W. J. H.

Hebrews 11:20-22

This portion is a kind of supplement to the setting forth of that patience of faith, which had its fullest illustration in Abraham. Yet each case has its own distinctive lesson for the disciple.
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau [even] concerning things to come. By faith Jacob when dying blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph when ending life made mention of the departure of the sons of Israel, and gave charge concerning his bones” (Heb. 11:20-22).
The structure of the phrase in Heb. 11:20 draws attention to the difference in the objects of the blessings; for each of Isaac's sons has the article in the Greek. There might have been no article at all, in which case the mention would have been simply historical. There might have been but one article for both names the effect of which is to associate as a company at least for this occasion. The repetition has of course the opposite aim of marking their distinctiveness, even though both were blessed concerning things to come. And this is precisely what Gen. 27. clearly indicates, a chapter not a little humbling throughout. Of Esau nothing more need be said than to recall his profanity in selling his birth-right for a pottage of lentils (Gen. 25), and in his Hittite marriages which caused bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah (Gen. 26). Yet Isaac loved him because of his venison, as Rebekah loved Jacob, as to whom Jehovah had given her a remarkable word before the twins were born (Gen. 25:23). This Isaac slighted at a critical moment (Gen. 27) when his faith failed at first, no less than his dim eyes. Rebekah was the instigator of Jacob to deceitful ways instead of both crying to the Lord Who would surely have heard Rebekah, corrected Isaac, and honored Jacob. Alas! sin wrought shame all round; but grace did not fail to secure the purpose of God, while chastising each in his moral government, for all were grievously to blame. Yet the full blessing of promise fell to Jacob in spite of his bad ways, and Esau got through his father's blessing more than he deserved. Isaac's trembling very exceedingly (Gen. 27:33) was on the discovery, not only of the guilt of Jacob, but of his own will against God Who had overruled him; whereon he says emphatically that he had blessed him, “yea, he shall be blessed.” Nature in Isaac sought to bless otherwise, and had seemed all but to prevail; “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come” according to God.
What a contrast appears next! “By faith Jacob when dying blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped on the top of his staff” (Heb. 11:21). When young, he was a sorry saint, a supplanter of his brother, a deceiver of his father, an outcast from his too fond mother, cheated of Laban though cheated too, a wanderer to Mesopotamia, living a checkered and sorrowful life once more in Canaan, and a stranger in Egypt, loving his family, yet every one of them one way or another a source to him of grief and shame; his closing scenes were lit up with blessing, himself kept and blessed of God in spite of himself, that it might plainly be not of him that wills, any more than of him that runs, but of God that hath mercy. He is just a miniature of the people, of whom he was progenitor, and to whom he gave his own name of honor through grace. Yet he, the aged pilgrim, blesses the greatest king then on earth, but without any dispute the less is blessed of the better; and when dying he blessed each of the sons of Joseph, though not at all so sundered as Jacob and Esau, yet with a distinction which at the moment displeased Joseph usually so quick to discern and interpret the mind of God. But Jacob's eyes, dim as they were and unable to see naturally, were illuminated then with light divine; so that Joseph's arrangement of his sons according to nature, with Ephraim toward Israel's left and Manasseh toward his right, embarrassed not the patriarch for a moment. For he laid his right hand upon Ephraim's head, albeit the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly or crossing them, for Manasseh was the first-born. It was of God to set Ephraim before Manasseh. But how worthy of grace that he who in his youth used such base means to gain the blessing he valued, should ere he died resist, in calm and believing earnestness, the importunity of his godly and honored son, their own father!
Nor was this all, he “worshipped upon the top of his staff,” clearly leaning on it in his weakness. It is remarkable that this act really preceded the blessing of his grandsons and is recorded in Gen. 47:31, as given in the Septuagint. No doubt both the Hebrew “bed” and the Sept. staff are alike true; and the Sept. gives “bed” in Gen. 48:2. He reminds Jehovah in Gen. 32. he first passed the Jordan, before he re-crossed it when he had become two companies. And what changes he had proved since that day, God ever chastening Jacob's ways and ever faithful to His purpose, even then blessing him afresh while He crippled his thigh. Now his eye of faith anticipated His glory Who would make all good when pilgrimage should yield to dwelling in the land; and he worshipped.
As Jacob's blessing of Joseph's sons is put immediately with Isaac's blessing, so Joseph's faith follows immediately Jacob's worship (compare Gen. 47:29-31). “By faith Joseph when ending life made mention of the departure of the sons of Israel and gave charge concerning his bones.” Only it seemed good to the inspiring Spirit to record it here of Joseph; who also impressively charged his sons not to bury him with his fathers, as Jacob sought and had, but to embalm him as the pledge of their quitting Egypt in God's time for the land of promise. No splendor in Egypt dimmed the light of promise to his faith: the nearest to the throne of the world, he is a stranger, looks for resurrection, and anticipates Israel's restoration to the land according to the divine oath to their fathers.

Convicted

Gen. 3:12-13
THE chapter tells how Adam and Eve fell into transgression, with mutual shame, and with undisguised alarm at the presence of God. There was no Sinai smoking as a whole, because Jehovah came down in fire; neither did smoke ascend like that of a furnace; nor did the earth quake; nor the trumpet sound loud exceedingly. His voice without a reproach or a menace struck the guilty pair with terror; and they hid themselves from before Him among the trees of the garden. Compelled to answer His call, the man owned, not his sin, but his fear because he was naked; but he could not escape the searching question, “Who told thee that thou art naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee not to eat?”
Truly the word of God is living and energetic, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to discern thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature unapparent before Him; but all things are naked and laid bare to His eyes with Whom we have to do. As yet there is not a trace of repentance, but hardness of heart and self-justification. Had there been the least self-judgment, any real sense of dishonor done to the LORD God, they had confessed their sin in listening to the tempter, and humbled themselves at once instead of covering their nakedness in their own way. And when they heard His voice, they would have gone to Him though with bitter sorrow, instead of simply hiding from Him in conscious guilt. Each would have said, “Behold, I am vile: what shall I answer Thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth.” “Now mine eye hath seen Thee, I abhor myself in dust and ashes.”
Far otherwise was it as yet with our first parents. “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (vers. 11, 12). What glaring disrespect and ingratitude to God! What utter lack of affection and compassionate care for his wife, whom he ought to have led and shielded if he could from evil, instead of following her into it! What unworthy and impudent reflection on Him Who gave the woman as a helpmeet for his good, not as an excuse for disobeying God! To hear Him was his first and known duty, even before she was made. Both the man and the woman knew the prohibition of the LORD God; both were fully aware of the penalty of disobeying; and both consciously rebelled, though separately, she quite deceived, he not so yet persuaded by her, preferring the creature to the Creator Who had set them blessed in responsibility to Himself.
It is hard to conceive aught lower, and withal more insolent, than the answer of the man— “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” On the surface the words might be true; morally they were false, unworthy, and irreverent, yea blasphemous. Adam was so debased by sin as to seek to excuse himself by the woman's fault, and even to throw the blame on the LORD God; the woman only pleaded the serpent's craft. Neither felt or confessed personal wrong any more than disloyalty to God. The excuses only proved their guilt, and could not but be their conviction. Thus Adam was condemned expressly because he hearkened to his wife's voice (ver. 17); and enmity was put between the serpent and the woman, who had sorrow multiplied instead of the pleasure she sought.
So it is with their offspring to this day. Sin brings in moral ruin; guilt leads to guile. Man without exception ever since is willful and ungodly. There is no good but always worse evil from palliation or blaming others, as all are prone to do. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks; and as it is corrupted through sin, out of that treasure the wicked man brings forth wicked things.
Thenceforward the sole hope for fallen man lay in God; and God's sole available and effectual good for man was in sending His only-begotten Son to become not man only but a sacrifice for the sinful. And so the Lord Jesus is the Savior of all that believe in Him, as the scriptures abundantly testify: the Savior of the lost, not the poor notion of a reinstatement of the race in what the first man ruined, but the blessing of 'the believer with all that God counts worthy of the Second man, His own Son, and of His redemption. What a blessed refutation of “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me”! God so loved, not His children, nor His people, but “the world,” the Christ-rejecting Satan-serving world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
As this is the greatest blessing God could give, not pardon only, nor even peace, but eternal life; so His Son, in Whom that life is, becomes the test of every sinner here below, small or great, civilized or barbarian, wise or unintelligent. All are alike sinners: there is no difference in that awful fact, though some are bolder than the rest. It is appointed to men once to die, and, after this, judgment. Impossible for any one to escape either by any resources of his own or by other men. But Christ, sent of God to that end, went down into death and bore the judgment from God, as propitiation for sins; so that, when He shall appear a second time, it will be to those that wait for Him apart from sin for salvation. So perfectly did He on the cross bear the sins of believers that none of them, as He said (John 5), comes into judgment.
Therefore does God call on you now, if you have not already obeyed His call, to receive life eternal and salvation in His Son. To receive Him is to receive, not only what you need and can find nowhere else, but all the blessing God loves to bestow. Seek not to extenuate your case like Adam and Eve. Hide not away from Him Who, knowing all your sins, pities you no less than them, and now sends you the gospel in all its fullness, as could only be when Christ came, and died atoningly, and rose triumphant. It is therefore now not only the grace but the righteousness of God. Through Christ's work He is just and the justifier of the believer. For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He that believes on Him is not judged: he that believes not has been judged already, because he has not believed on the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hates the light and comes not to the light, lest his works should be convicted; but he that does the truth comes to the light that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God (John 3).

Morsels From Family Records: 4. Matthew 1

Is naturally read with especial interest, and has been made the subject of much comment, with great profit to souls. Upon it we venture a few remarks, which we hope will prove profitable and instructive.
The marvelous grace that brought three Gentile women to share with true-born daughters of Israel in the high distinction of being progenitors of the Messiah has often been noticed.
Viewing all that precedes it in the light of Matt. 1:17, we see that all the generations from Abraham to Christ, are equally divided into three fourteens.
The first fourteen flourished during the patriarchal age; “the patriarch David” (Acts 2:29), completing the list. They were for the most part “men of renown” and “elders,” who received a good report through faith, whom the Lord greatly honored, each in his own generation, by taking them up, and using them as instruments in His hands, of shaping the destinies of the nation that grew so very rapidly, and was so highly favored of Jehovah.
For the moment passing over the list of kings, we would say of the third fourteen, that, with the exception of Zerubbabel, they appear to have been what we now understand by the term “nobodies” in the nation. Joseph, the husband of Mary, was, as we all know, a working carpenter. Yet, though of no reputation in the nation, we are persuaded that Mal. 3:16, 17 accurately describes these who lived in a day of small things, and yet cast not away their confidence in the Lord God of Israel.
One remarkable feature in the second fourteen is the omission of three generations of kings in ver. 8, and of one in ver. 11. In ver. 8 we read, “And Joram begat Uzziah;” whereas in point of fact, Joram begat Ahaziah, whose son Joram, and grandson Amaziah, each wielded in turn the scepter of Judah. The insertion of Ahaz, Manasseh and Amon, each one infamous for very great wickedness, appears to preclude the thought that they were omitted for such a reason from the list. Why are they excluded? Ah! here we have a striking example of the practical carrying out of the principle, so clearly expressed in the second commandment, viz. “I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers, upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me.” The names of Ahab and Jezebel are painfully familiar to us all; and in marrying his son Jehoram to Athaliah their daughter, Jehoshaphat, though a good man personally, brought down upon his own descendants, to the third generation, the curse that rested upon the house of Ahab. For three generations we read of wholesale massacres in cold blood. Jehoram slew all his own brethren on his accession (2 Chron. 21:4); the Philistines and Arabians slew all his sons (22:1); and Athaliah, on the death of her son Ahaziah, slew all the seed royal of the house of Judah save Joash (22:10,11). The names of the son, grandson, and great-grandson of “Athaliah, that wicked woman,” herself inheriting the fierce and idolatrous spirit of her mother Jezebel, are excluded from mention in “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ.” Those who esteem it to be a light thing to become unequally yoked with unbelievers, should attentively consider the sad history of the house of Jehoshaphat unto the fourth generation; and such may readily perceive, that, by means of his having married his son to Athaliah, Satan all but accomplished the extermination of the royal house of David. The fact, made evident by the list given in Luke 3:23-38, of a reserve line from David, carefully preserved, does not in the least lessen the honor that rightly attaches to the name of Jehoshabeath the wife of Jehoiada, because her faithful preservation of the infant Joash prevented such a calamity from falling upon the nation (2 Chron. 22:10-12).
We simply need to refer to Jer. 22:13-19, as furnishing ample reasons why the name of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, and father of Jeconiah, is excluded from mention in Matt. 1:11. “Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.”
IN Proverbs it is always “Jehovah “; once only is “Elohim” used (25:2), and (in 2:17) “Elohey-ha,” her God. In Ecclesiastes “Jehovah” is never used, always “Elohim “; and, where it is not “a man,” “ha-Adam” is regularly used. This falls in with the different objects of the books.

Scripture Sketches: Ehud

WHEN Israel had been eighteen years oppressed under the tyranny of Eglon, king of Moab, God raised them up a deliverer from the tribe of Benjamin—a strong, brave, capable man, whose work however is discredited by the unscrupulous way in which he did it. This was Ehud, the left-handed chief, who was (lit.) “shut—maimed—of his right hand.” Having only one serviceable arm, he had the choice before him of sitting down and mourning for the other, as many would do, or of making the best use he could of the one remaining. He chose the latter alternative and delivered God's nation.
If the deliverance wrought by the Judges be typical of the work of Christ for His people, the seven prominent Judges whose lives are given in detail would represent so many distinct aspects of that work. Thus Othniel is seen in relationship with the bride, Gideon with the overthrow of idolatry, whilst Ehud represents the conquest of a malignant power by one who was wounded and weakened. There is a very distinct line of thought, most pathetic and affecting thought, relating to our salvation by a wounded Savior, beginning with the very first promise where God had said that the woman's Seed should bruise the Serpent's head, but should itself be bruised in the heel; that is, the part which comes in direct contact with the earth—the humanity of our Lord. “He was wounded for our transgressions.” After His resurrection He shows the marks of His wounds to His disciples. The prophet Zechariah says, “One shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” His conflict had a terrible reality. It was in no sense of a nature perfunctory or sinecure. The Emperor Commodus used to fight in the arena against a man armed only with a leaden sword, whom he of course easily and invariably conquered; but the wounds of Christ show that the weapons which assailed Him were real and fearful. And these wounds are the signs of the true Christ.
In delivering Israel, Ehud was doing God's work and receiving His approval; but we are not to suppose in such cases, that everything which is done, especially as to the manner of its doing, was divinely sanctioned or approved. Thus the manner of his approach to Eglon was characterized by extreme treachery, though it was certain that if Ehud, being divinely empowered for the work, had taken an open course, the result would have been equally successful and his success untarnished. On the other hand it would be absurd for us to judge a man of such times and circumstances by the standard of the nineteenth century! nay, the light of Christianity. The great matter is that he did his work; if not in the best way—somehow: are his critics doing theirs?
He approaches the king with a present, having under his clothing a dagger, long and keen as that which Harmodius concealed with myrtle when he slew the Athenian tyrant. The fat sensual monarch is in a good humor, and invites him into the “summer parlor.” “I have a secret errand for thee, O king,” says Ehud. The king, doubtless, thinks to hear of fresh ways to plunder and oppress the Israelites: an obsequious parasite of their own nation is just the person to tell him, so he sends the servants and courtiers out. Imprudent to be sure; but what can an unarmed—and one-armed—man do to him?—and the man looks so innocent! The king wants to hear now what it is. The left-hand man is certainly very gauche—or is it sinister? He is stooping, groping under his clothes. The king rises, alarmed. “A message from God to thee”! says the Benjamite, and, with the dagger in his left hand, smites him an awful blow, like the kick of a horse, driving the blade, nearly two feet long, right into the fat king's body and out at the back so that the haft goes in after the blade. Well, there is nothing like being thorough after all. Then the Benjamite walks out unconcernedly, locking the door after him. Once outside the palace, he hastens to the mountain of Ephraim, and blows such a rέveil on his war trumpet as awakens Israel from their troubled nightmare, and puts ten thousand Moabites to sleep forever.
And the courtiers are outside the “summer parlor” waiting—waiting—fearing to disturb their monarch, wondering at his long silence; whilst the gross body of their lord inside lies sprawled in the coagulating blood, announcing from the mute ghastly lips of its dreadful wound that—sooner or later, in time or in eternity—the enemies of God and His people shall grovel helpless in the dust.
The doctrine of the Survival of the Fittest has little thought of hope or comfort for any of those whose fangs are not strong, whose claws are not sharp, whose faculties are not entire, and whose hearts are not pitiless. Even Professor Huxley lately admits that in itself it is not sufficient to produce the highest forms of human character, and Mr. Wallace, Darwin's twin—discoverer (of Lamarck's obsolete theory) never considered that it was sufficient to produce human character at all. Is He the God of the Fit only? is He not also the God of the Unfit? Is not His strength made perfect in weakness? His greatest victories accomplished in defeat? Many of the most glorious and enduring achievements have been done by the Unfit whom He has fitted. To all those who are conscious of being maimed and limited in function or faculty of body or mind, the words of that great leader of men, who bore about in his body the “stigmas” of Christ, come as an inspiration and a hope— “when I am weak, then am I strong.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” The maimed Ehud struck such a blow with his left hand that it still reverberates through history, what time he laid prostrate the colossal iniquity of Moab.

The Revelation as God Gave It: 4

It is evident then that the grand defect of theology, and even for pious souls otherwise sound in the faith, is the failure to see the purpose of God for His glory in Christ: a purpose for administration of the fullness of the times. And this is, as the apostle explains, to head or sum up the universe in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him in Whom we also were given inheritance, being fore-ordained according to purpose of Him that works the whole according to the counsel of His will.
The epoch is not in the present, any more than in the past; nor is it the unchanging eternity, when Christ will have delivered up the kingdom to the Father, and God shall be all in all. Its essential character is Christ administering the universe as the glorified Man, and the church glorified with Him and sharing that vast inheritance, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. The eternal state neither admits of “administration,” such as is here shown to be God's purpose; nor does it consist with “the fullness of the seasons,” which will then have passed away instead of being in accomplishment. Eternity is not the kingdom in which the risen Man must reign, till He shall have put all the enemies under His feet, death as last enemy being brought to naught. In eternity the Son, instead of being thus displayed at the head of all and bringing to naught all rule and all authority and power, shall Himself be in subjection to the Father that subjected all things to Him.
On the other hand that administration is in no sense going on now, though Christ personally is both risen and exalted as head over all things to the church which is His body. By His death there is, as all must admit (John 11:52), a gathering together into one of the children of God that were scattered abroad; a baptizing, as Paul adds, into one body, in the power of one Spirit, of all believers whether Jews or Greeks. For they are His co-heirs; and when He shall be manifested, then shall they also be manifested with Him in glory (Col. 3:4). Meanwhile we suffer with Him (a state but like His on earth, wholly opposed to that coming administration), that we may be also glorified together. Faithful is the saying; for if we died with Him, we shall also live together; if we endure, we shall also reign together. But our present state is in contrast with our hope, yet is there fellowship with Christ in both.
Grace is now gathering into union with the Head the members of His body; and the Holy Spirit is in our hearts earnest of the future inheritance, as well as unction and seal. But as the members are not yet complete, so Christ is still on the Father's throne. When the administration of the fullness of the seasons is come, He will not only receive His own throne, but give us to sit with Him there. Then it will be God not taking out of mankind a people for His name, a work distinctively of the elect, but gathering “all things” under Christ's headship. The things in heaven and the things on earth are in no way gathered together or summed up in Him now: this is the expression of God's purpose to put the universe under Christ as head over all, which only gross ignorance can confound with His headship of His body. It is the inheritance of Him Who is Heir of all things, as Heb. 1 says, and Reconciler of all things whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens, as says Col. 1. But this very passage distinguishes our reconciliation (who once were alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works) as already effected, from that which awaits all the creation.
So does Rom. 8 show that we have now the Spirit of adoption (ver. 15), not only that we may cry Abba, Father, but while we groan, ourselves delivered (ver. 2), our bodies not yet, any more than creation around, as we await adoption, the redemption of our body (ver. 23). For the coming glory is to be revealed to usward in that day. And the revelation of the sons of God, which hinges on that of Christ, is the signal for the deliverance of creation itself also from the bondage of corruption (vers. 18-21).
No doubt the truth has suffered from its professing friends who have entered feebly, faultily, or at least imperfectly, into this immense and glorious purpose of God, and dwelt most if not altogether on its least and lowest part, the happy and holy change that awaits the earth, when Christ and the glorified reign over it. They have exposed their testimony to the taunts of those that object to the view of the glorified Christ coming personally and administering “a monarchical state of a kingdom here on earth” visibly in power and glory. To this Bishop Hall, as the first paradox § 8, opposes the words, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18). But it is written again (Rev. 11:15), “The kingdom of the world is become [that] of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign unto the ages of the ages.” This certainly is not the present state of things, nor is it eternity, but the kingdom which He is to receive from Him Who is God and Father, and will deliver up to Him at the end for that unchanging and everlasting state. It is not the supremacy of God; nor yet a question of His peace ruling or arbitrating in the heart; any more than of His headship of the church. It is, what even the penitent robber anticipated, Christ coming in His kingdom, when the glorified shall reign with Him, and His enemies, according to the parable, be slain before Him. This is the coming of His world-kingdom, which theology ignores, and its votaries think “very strange news.” If Fathers and Doctors of Christendom dropt it (some few in the third century, most since then), none ought to be surprised who remembers the apostolic warnings. The apostles themselves bear clear and ample testimony to Christ's coming and kingdom; as did the holy prophets since the world began. But how could even saints testify to a truth which condemned their abandonment of suffering with Christ and seeking to rule the world, which really means the world ruling them? Such a revolution the fourth century saw an accomplished fact; as the worldliness of previous centuries, even before the apostles passed away, paved the way for it.
What can be plainer than Peter's own words in that very context of Acts 3, the use of which so astonished the good prelate “Repent ye therefore,” he preached to the Jews, “and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins; so that seasons of refreshing may come from the Lord's presence, and He may send Jesus Christ that hath been fore-appointed for you, Whom heaven must receive till times of restoration of all things, whereof God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began” (vers. 19-21). How evident that the repentance of the Jew, in the mind of the inspired apostle, must precede the mission of the Lord from heaven to introduce times of universal restoration, according to the prophets! These times coalesce with the administration of which we have heard in Eph. 1; only, as is Paul's wont, in a still grander and more comprehensive form. And how absurd to confound this period of universal blessedness for heaven and earth with “the end,” when Christ shall deliver up the kingdom! It is neither more nor less than Christendom's unbelief as to the kingdom spoken of here and elsewhere. These Doctors do not know that the saints shall judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2); still less that we shall judge angels (ver. 3). They do not really believe in Christ's administering the universe at a period which is after the gospel and the church as now on earth, and before the eternal state, when there shall be no such thing as the world-kingdom of Christ, still less Israel, the nations, or kings.
Hence the importance of understanding Rev. 21:1-8, the fullest description of the eternal state in the scriptures; with which may be compared 1 Cor. 15:24 and 28, and 2 Peter 3:12. Nothing temporal is found in any of these passages. What has led many into error, and some of them able men and believers, is that they regarded Rev. 21:9-27, 22:1-5, as continuing to tell us of eternity. But it is demonstrable that this is not so. In fact the first eight verses of chap. 21. alone give that information, as the sequel of the successive events in Rev. 19; 20 Whereas in Rev. 21:9, &c., we are taken back by a marked break in the vision, when one of the seven angels that had the seven bowls came and talked with John for an important retrospective purpose here, as was done before in Rev. 17:1, et seqq. In the latter case it was Come hither, I will show thee the judgment of the great harlot; in the former, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. They have the analogy of most striking contrasts: the corrupt and corrupting city Babylon; and the holy city new Jerusalem. And, as I am here alleging, they both go back to describe objects of the deepest moment, which had been noticed historically before now but called for a full description later, that we might know their true character, and their relationships: the one to “the beast” and the kings of the earth who committed fornication with her; the other to the Lamb, and the kings of the earth who bring their glory unto it, as the nations do when they walk by her light which excludes all uncleanness, and lying, and abomination.
No wonder that the power of the Pentecostal Spirit only led the apostle to yearn for that blessed time, which is altogether distinct from the present one of the Savior's absence, as well as from the eternal state when His administration closes and God is all in all. It is high time that these things should no longer be strange news to Christian ears. Our Lord affirmed to Pilate that His kingdom is not of (bc) this world as its source. He receives it from God, and such is its character as no other is, all the rest being merely providential after He ceased to rule in Israel or Judah. Christ's kingdom is of Him immediately; and accordingly, as all may see, He assuredly did not deny in John 18 what He asked of the Father in John 17:22, 23, “that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them (i.e. the saints composing the church), even as Thou lovedst Me.” It is in vain to argue that this will be in the gospel day of believing as in ver. 21. It is on the contrary a day of knowing, when the glory, of which the Lord speaks in those two verses, is revealed with its overwhelming proofs. Thus all hangs together, whether John 17; 18, Rev. 11, or 21. It is the administration of the fullness of the seasons, also times of restoration, the universal testimony of the O.T. prophets, on which John impresses the final seal of the N. T.
It is indeed a feigned gloss of men that a single one of these scriptures speaks of Christ's judgment of the dead before the great white throne, which is represented there as taking place more than a thousand years after He comes in His kingdom. Never does God's word say or imply that Christ comes for that final judgment. It speaks generally of His judging living and dead (2 Tim. 4:1), of His being ready to judge both (1 Peter 4:5), and of the season being come when the seventh trumpet is blown (Rev. 11:18); but when details are given, the dead are shown to be judged only at “the end” when He delivers up His millennial kingdom, not when He receives it as He does to establish and administer it over the earth, and the universe indeed, when He comes on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. The scene of the great white throne and the judgment of the dead is long after His coming, and coincidently with it the fleeing away from His face of the earth and the heaven. Hence for this judgment His coming is out of the question: there is no earth at that solemn moment for Him to come to. The dead stand before the throne to be judged severally according to their works; but it is not His coming here, but their going before His throne, when the earth and the heaven flee which now are, and no place is found for them. This therefore is in no true sense His coming, any more than is a saint's departure at any time to be with Christ; though both are so called in that imaginary view which has no being but in theological tradition. Yet we are assured that this Jesus that was received up into heaven shall so come in the manner in which He was beheld going into heaven. Hence the Revelation puts the Lord's issuing for the judgment of the quick in chap. 19:11 et seqq.; then His reign of peace for a thousand years and of the glorified with Him over the earth in chap. 20.; and (after a brief manifestation of man deceived once more and for the last time by Satan, which is not without special and profound moral value) the judgment of the dead when the heavens and earth that are now are dissolved (2 Peter 3, Rev. 20), followed by the new heaven and new earth for eternity (Rev. 21:1-8). It is well that pious men do not attempt a formal confutation of all this; for God's word is too strong alike for their light touches or their heaviest threats.

The Soul Neither Mortal nor to Sleep: Part 1

IT is a grave and humbling fact that the immortality and even existence of the human soul, distinct from the body, should be seriously questioned in Christendom; yea, that Scripture should be wrested against it by such as love to have it so. But so it is, with the sanction of some who have the reputation of piety. All things from the highest downwards are put on their trial, as if man were judge, and not God. Nothing is sacred for inquiring spirits and unhallowed eyes. Because human tradition is stupidly false and blinding, men are indisposed to believe anything on God's word, as if He were altogether such a one as themselves. Gnosticism was an early plague—not less is Agnosticism in these days. Sense only they admit in evidence, enduring, momentous, and truly elevating for man! For their very principle is to ignore the everlasting future for weal or woe. It is to live for self, though it may claim the greatest happiness for the greatest number, in rebellion against God and His gracious testimony of Christ in person and redemption; whereby, through the Spirit, He delivers from sin and wrath into present, living, imperishable relationship with Himself.
Herein lies the transcendent value of Scripture. Senses cannot avail beyond what acts on them. Reason can draw no more than conclusions or probabilities. Even to ascertain facts is beyond its province; still more, truth moral or spiritual. How can reason furnish man with what most deeply concerns his being and state, present and future? How, above all, make God known and enjoyed, served and worshipped, now and evermore? Reason cannot, ought not, to be a groundwork for souls in view of eternity; and it is only perverted thus by such as will not bow to Scripture. What must be, is one thing; what is, reasoning, which deals with inference, cannot discover. Now, truth is the making known what is; and this in divine things can only be by revelation. Facts rest on sense or testimony; supernatural facts on a testimony above man, even if through him. To be made known with divine authority for man's blessing, they must be revealed by God, as they are in the Bible. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
How else could we know with assurance whence we came, and whither we go? Conscience may whisper that we are guilty, yet responsible before God. The more active and thorough its exercise, the more we are forced to feel our unfitness for His presence. There is therefore no prospect before us, as we are, but a fearful expectation of judgment. For conscience can tell us no way of escape from our own evil, no means of righteous reconciliation with God. His word confirms, in plain, strong, and solemn terms, all that we cannot but judge of our own state. But His word adds far other and better things; it makes known Christ, the coming Judge of quick and dead who despise Him and the God that sent Him to die for sinners; to all who repent and believe the gospel, it makes known in and through Christ the victory of His grace. The believer is not only rescued from the wrath to come, but brought already into divine favor, and even the relationship of a son of God; and henceforth, instead of dreading the Judge, he is entitled, while he serves a living and true God, to wait longingly for His Son from heaven. Such is the gospel Christ commands His servants to preach to every creature.
Scripture gives us sure and abundant light, not only as to God, but as to ourselves and all things as connected with Him. He who made us as well as the universe can alone inform us with certainty. Nor is any theory or tradition of men comparable with the clear, simple, and comprehensive dignity of the inspired record. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Matter did not exist eternally, as most philosophers conceived (some falling into the more evil folly of “no God”); nor was chaos “in the beginning,” as heathen poets sang, and many a theologian has taught. “In the beginning,” says John, “was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that hath been made.” It is impossible to affirm more definitely or to deny more exclusively. Angels preceded not man only, but the material creation (Job 38:7); but by (ἐν) the Son were all things created, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things have been created through Him and unto Him; and He is before all things, and by (in virtue of) Him all things subsist together (Col. 1:16, 17).
But, in creating, God created not a confused and disorderly mass; He created the heavens and the earth in the beginning. The heavens, in fact, were never thrown into confusion the earth was, as we see in Gen. 1:2; but this was after the beginning: how long is not said. Thousands or millions of years may have elapsed. It answered no moral end to reveal what science would investigate or conjecture. Only it is revealed, as befitting the divine character, that He is not a God—not a creator—of confusion. The confusion of the earth was subsequent, the reason or cause being unexplained as is the interval or the history. The fact is distinctly revealed; and nobody would have failed to discern it, if philosophers had not misled the divines who are vain of standing well with the men of science. Geologists differ fundamentally to this day: some insisting on catastrophes, followed by renewals; others contending for continuous action of forces gradually operating. If there be a measure of truth in both, scripture leaves room for all, without straining the six days, which are wholly distinct from the immense ages that preceded man.
Days and weeks, months and years, have to do with the human race and God's moral dealings on earth, after God had created and destroyed—it may be, many times—within those vast periods differently characterized before man was made, though not without a beneficent design for him on God's part. The principle and fact, first of creation, then of disruption, before the immediate preparation of the world for the race, is the revealed communication of Gen. 1:1, 2; the days, 1:3-2:3, are the commencement of time as we reckon it, not of creation, but of that latter and special form when man was ushered into the earth. On the first God said, “Light be;” and light was. It is not intimated that light was then first created. The previous ruin may have hindered its action till God uttered this fiat with a view to man's earth. On the second day, with the severing of land and sea, came the expanse as we have it (strangely rendered by the Seventy, whence “firmament” came through the Vulgate into the English version); on the third the vegetable kingdom, herbage and tree yielding fruit; on the fourth, the luminaries in the expanse, not first created but set to give light night and day on the earth; on the fifth, animal life begun in the waters and for the air.
(To be continued, D.V).

Scripture Queries and Answers: Eternal or Everlasting; Whole World; GEN 49:10, 2CH 36:21, and MAT 2:1, Parables in MAT 13;

Q.-Does the word of God really mean “eternal” or “everlasting” in Matt. 25:46? or only “age-lasting?” T. H. T,
A.-The word is used in Rom. 16:26 of God, in Heb. 9:14 of the Spirit, and in 1 John 1:2 of that life which Christ was and is. Are They merely age-lasting? In 2 Cor. 4:18 the same is contrasted with “temporal,” instead of being similar in force, as these false teachers aver. Nay, the verse itself refutes their desire; for even they own that the life of the saints is “everlasting,” and the same word in the same sentence is applied to the punishment of the wicked. Hebrew, Greek, English, or any other tongue, makes no difference. The N. T. differs from the Old in the utmost clearness as to this, now that Christ is come; as the O. T. had dwelt chiefly on the present government of God, while pointing here and there to the eternal things which are now unveiled under the gospel.
Q.-Does “the whole world” in Luke 2:1 include Russia, &c., or merely the Roman Empire?
A.-It is clear that a decree of Augustus or any other emperor could not run in its effect outside the empire. But it was the phrase of the day, as we see in Acts 24:5. To a Roman the orbs ruled the orbern terrarum. The world and the empire were the same; all without was of no account. But the apostles had a true and larger view, as we may see in Acts 17:31, Heb. 2:5, Rev. 3; 10, and elsewhere.
Q.-Gen. 49:10, compared with 2 Chron. 36:21, and Matt. 2:1, &c.; how would you deal with them?
A.-The “scepter” may be no more than the tribal symbol; and if this be the sense, Judah was thus kept till Shiloh, the Prince of Peace, came and was rejected, when in due time the place was lost, till He come again: then, and not before, the gathering or obedience of the peoples shall be unto Him. If it mean one entitled to royal sway in Zion, this is also true. So the line of David through Solomon went on to Jesus, as Matt. 1 shows; and in Him dead, risen, and glorified it abides, to be made good when God's time comes.
Q.-Parables of Matt. 13; what do they teach?
W. E.
A.-There is a complete circle of truth: seven, of which the first, though not a likeness of the kingdom of the heavens, shows the Lord sowing the word, with the opposition of the devil, the flesh, and the world. The six after open its mysterious form while He, the King, is rejected and on high. Three were spoken outside to the multitude, three (with the Wheat-and-Tares interpreted) to the disciples within the house: the external and internal views of the kingdom. In the first the crop is spoiled by intermingling of tares, and no remedy till judgment at the Lord's appearing. In the second the little seed rises to a towering tree. In the third the leaven works, over a given space—creedism, not life.
But to the spiritual the Lord shows the treasure, and the field bought to have it; the one pearl of price, the union and beauty of His loved object for which He surrendered all His Jewish glory; and the final severance of the fish taken out of the sea of nations in the net, at the completion of the age.

The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 6:5-8

THUS far we have had the new, strange, and portentous evil which played its part in calling for the righteous judgment of the deluge. But this was not all which made the catastrophe necessary in the eyes of the divine Governor.
“And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man [was] great on the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually (all the day). And Jehovah repented that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And Jehovah said, I will wipe out man whom I have created, from the face of the ground—from man to cattle, to reptiles, and to bird of the heavens; for I repent that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah” (vers. 5-8).
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Could He be indifferent to the general state of man morally? It is not God simply in His nature, but He who concerns Himself with the ways of His creatures. Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth. Nor would it be easy to find a more solemn appraisal: “every imagination” of them was before Him; and He who loves to accredit the least thought or feeling that is good saw nothing but evil all the day. He is assuredly the God of judgment, and after due testimony will not be slow to execute it.
Yet the language employed is affectingly suggestive of the grief it cost Him Whom the unbelieving mind of man is pleased to treat as impassive. “Be not deceived, evil communications corrupt good manners. Wake up righteously and sin not; for some have ignorance of God,” as the apostle speaks to our shame. Converse with the world lowers to its own level those who thus indulge; and as the world by its wisdom, when it boasted most, knew not God, it never without Christ finds Him out; for Christ is the image of the invisible God; and Christ never showed Himself insensible to human evil, whatever His patience and endurance. No doubt, as is so characteristic of these early revelations, the expression is by grace adapted in childlike fashion to the heart and conscience of man. Jehovah felt deeply what man ought to have felt but did not. “Jehovah repented that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”
Here however we need to distinguish: else we shall surely and seriously stray. Jehovah is here said to repent of mankind that He had made on the earth. His work is a thing quite different from His purpose. And when corruption pervaded it, He was in no way bound to perpetuate what existed only to His dishonor. On the other hand, when a prophet was sent to cry against a great city because of its wickedness before Him, and its inhabitants, from the greatest to the least, repented at the preaching, God saw their works that they turned from their evil ways, and God repented of the evil which He said He would do unto them, and He did it not, to the disgust of the prophet too self-occupied to appreciate the compassion of God, even for the babes and the cattle. But here we are not told of the slightest effect. The preacher of righteousness testified many a long year, and, as far as we know, in vain. Oracularly warned concerning things not yet seen, and moved with fear himself, he prepared an ark for saving his house, with no recorded result save condemning the world of that day and the imprisonment of their spirits, disobedient as they were then, till eternal judgment come. It was a singularly hard generation in the days of Noah; and the Lord declared that so it will be also in the days of the Son of man. They were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were given in marriage until the day, that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Alas! Christendom is rapidly becoming as unbelieving as the Jews were when divine judgments befell them all; and both will be surprised when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with angels of His power, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those that know not God—and those that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But even in that day it will be made clearer than ever that without repentance are the gifts and the calling of God (Rom. 11:29). He may repent of making man, and He may on man's self-judgment repent of His threats; but His gifts and His calling are subject to no such change of mind. So at an early day He compelled the wicked prophet to testify on behalf of Israel (Num. 23:19); and so He confirmed by His holy apostle looking to the latter day. He leaves room for the action of sovereign grace at the close of the age. As we Gentiles were once disobedient to God, but now became objects of mercy by their disobedience, so also the Jews were now disobedient to the mercy that has reached the Gentiles in the gospel, that they too, instead of their old pride of law, may be objects of mercy. For God shut up them all (whether Gentile or Jew) into disobedience that He might show mercy to them all.
For the day of Noah the word of judgment goes forth. “And Jehovah said, I will wipe (or blot) out man whom I have created, from the face of the ground—from man to cattle, to reptiles, and to bird of the heavens; for I repent that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah” (vers. 7, 8). For those who believe the language is unmistakable while grace is shown to Noah. Is it possible to use terms more sweeping and unsparing for all that breathes on earth or flies above it Jehovah deals with the creatures set under the headship of Adam. How blessed to know on an authority equally beyond doubt that the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God! For this creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that all the creation together groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only [so], but even ourselves having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:19-23). It is God's honor for Christ in this creation. As man's sin dragged it down with himself into ruin, so shall the Second Man raise it out of its degradation and misery. But the inheritance cannot be delivered before the heirs. Therefore are we now brought by faith of Christ into the liberty of grace, having in Him redemption through His blood, the remission of sins. But we await also the redemption of our bodies, and have meanwhile the Holy Spirit, the witness that we are God's children, and the earnest of the inheritance to come. And the groaning creation longs for that day, which will bring it into the liberty of the glory which Christ will have given us, Himself the Heir of all things, as we are by grace His joint-heirs. It is indeed a joyous prospect, in the midst of present weakness and manifold sorrows, truly a prospect full of glory, and most sure and indestructible, because it rests on the holy basis of Christ, the Worthy One, and of His redemption.

Ezra: The Returned Remnant, Chapter 8

As it was the day of the people's humiliation, not power but pity and devotedness in obedience characterized Ezra. God will have reality in those He honors; false pretensions He hates. Communion with His mind, suitable to His people's state, is what we see here; and this blessed to not a few from a small and unpretentious beginning. Ezra in Babylon had not the living prophets which had cheered the early workers in Jerusalem; but his heart was set on the written word, and the hand of Jehovah did not fail in gracious providence, either for God and His worship, or on his journey to Jerusalem. Details now follow.
“Now these are the heads of their father's houses, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king. Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershon: of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel: of the sons of David, Hattush. Of the sons of Shecaniah; of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah: and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males a hundred and fifty. Of the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah; and with him two hundred males. Of the sons of Shecaniah, the son of Jahaziel; and with him three hundred males. And of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan; and with him fifty males. And of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah; and with him seventy males. And of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael; and with him fourscore males. Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel; and with him two hundred and eighteen males. And of the sons of Shelomith, the son of Josiphiah; and with him a hundred and threescore males. And of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai; and with him twenty and eight males. And of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan; and with him a hundred and ten males. And of the sons of Adonikam, that were the last; and these are their names, Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them threescore males. And of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud; and with them seventy males” (vers. 1-14).
The earlier return included several priests with their numerous houses (chap. 2:36-39); now but two volunteered without mention of their houses. At first no Levites offered themselves to Ezra; but this drew out his zeal, and not without fruit. Of the people some fresh families now returned; of other families a fresh part. Of one family, the sons of Adonikam or Adonijah, “the last sons” appear to have gone up; of whom the ominous number, 666, had returned with Zerubbabel (chap. 2:13). Compare Neh. 7:18; 10:16.
“And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there we encamped three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi. Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, which were teachers. And I sent them forth unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia; and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and his brethren the Nethinim, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God.. And according to the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen; and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty; and of the Nethinim, whom David and the princes had given for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim: all of them were expressed by name” (vers. 15-20).
The lack of Levites grieved Ezra, as he deliberately reviewed the company that gathered to the river that runs to Ahava. He had means for the due service of God's house, but where were the ministers? He found none of the sons of Levi; and he will be no party to disorder in divine things. So in the strait he sent for chiefs and men of understanding and gave them a charge to a quarter where were Levites. God gave effect to his desire, and near forty Levites responded to the call, with more than two hundred Nethinim, who, if they had a lowly service, were all to their honor expressed by name.
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek of him a straight way, for us and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God [is] upon all them that seek him, for good; but his power and wrath [is] against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was entreated of us” (vers. 21-23).
Nor was the work begun or carried on in self-confidence. Ezra proclaimed a fast on the banks of the Ahava (the Hit, probably). He had boasted a little to the king of God's hand upon them all for good, notwithstanding their low estate because of their national sins; and he was rightly ashamed to ask of him a military guard against their enemies in the way. To God with fasting then he would have them to turn, assured that he was seeking His glory and doing His will. And God, as he says, “was entreated of us.”
“Then I separated twelve of the chiefs of the priests, even Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering for the house of our God, which the king and his counselors, and his princes, and all Israel there present, had offered: I even weighed into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents; of gold an hundred talents: and twenty bowls of gold, of a thousand darics; and two vessels of fine bright brass, precious as gold. And I said unto them, Ye [are] holy unto Jehovah, and the vessels [are] holy; and the silver and the gold [are] a freewill offering unto Jehovah, the God of your fathers. Watch ye, and keep [them], until ye weigh [them] before the chiefs of the priests and the Levites, and the princes of the fathers' [houses] of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of Jehovah. So the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver and the gold, and the vessels, to bring [them] to Jerusalem unto the house of our God” (vers. 24-30).
Here we see righteous care and choice of faithful men, and this in no narrow spirit, but of fellowship. He separated twelve of the chiefs of the priests, or Levites, and weighed to them the offering for God's house, with a solemn appeal. So the N. T. still more impressively shows us Timothy and others charged in view of the Lord's appearing (1 Tim. 6:13, 14; 2 Tim. 4:1, 2; Titus 2:13, 14). For responsibility is in view, not exactly of His presence, but of His appearing, when all will be out, and each will receive according to the things done with the body as their instrument, whether good or bad (2 Chron. 6:23; 2 Cor. 5:10).
“Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth [day] of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the her in wait by the way. And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days. And on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God into the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him [was] Eleazer, the son of Phinehas; and with them [was] Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, the Levites; the whole by number, by weight: and all the weight was written at that time. The children of the captivity, which were come out of exile, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he-goats [for] a sin offering: all a burnt offering unto the LORD. And they delivered the king's commissions unto the king's satraps, and to the governors beyond the river: and they furthered the people and the house of God” (vers. 31-36).
The journey was made prosperously; the offering after three days delivered by number and weight in God's house into the due hand, and as duly recorded at the time; and God was owned according to His word, as He could not be in Babylon. Burnt offerings were presented to the God of Israel, “twelve bullocks for all Israel.” They rose in faith to God's mind, and they embraced in heart before Him all His people. But they were as far as possible from pretending to be more than they were, while they refused to be other than they were. Imitations or substitutes never satisfy a true heart. Besides the bullocks, they offered ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve he-goats for a sin offering. This could not be forgotten. They thoroughly owned their original relationship to Jehovah, so dishonored; they looked with confidence to their glorious restoration for His own name; and both contributed to their doing the right thing meanwhile, in obedience of faith and lowliness of mind. They acknowledged the present ruin of Israel, but clung unwaveringly to Israel's God.

Song of Solomon 8

THE closing chapter appears to present summarily the object and principle of the Song, after a pouring forth of her affection, which the speaker desires might be gratified without reproof and in all purity, as will assuredly be when she becomes the bride of Messiah. No wonder if, after a review of her painful past misconduct and of His glory once despised, her heart needed re-assurance.
“Oh that thou wert as my brother,
That sucked the breasts of my mother!
Should I find thee without, I would kiss thee;
And they would not despise me.
I would lead thee—bring thee into my mother's house:
Thou wouldest instruct me;
I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, Of the juice of my pomegranate.
His left hand [would be] under my head, And his right hand embrace me.
I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem,
Why should you stir up, why awake [my] love, till he please.
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, Leaning upon her beloved?
I awoke thee under the apple-tree:
There thy mother brought thee forth,
There she travailed that bore thee.
Set me as a seal upon thy heart,
As a seal upon thine arm;
For love is strong as death,
Jealousy is cruel as the grave:
The flashes thereof are flashes of fire,
Flames of Jah.
Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it:
If a man gave all the substance of his house for love,
It would utterly be contemned.
We have a little sister,
And she hath no breasts:
What shall we do for our sister
In the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall,
We will build upon her a turret of silver; And if she be a door,
We will enclose her with boards of cedar.
I [was] a wall, and my breasts like towers;
Then was I in his eyes as one that findeth peace.
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon,
He let out the vineyard to keepers:
Every one for its fruit was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me:
Thou, Solomon, shalt have the thousand,
And the keepers of its fruit two hundred.
Thou that dwellest in the gardens,
The companions hearken to thy voice: Let me hear it.
Haste, my beloved,
And be thou like a gazelle or a young hart
Upon the mountains of spices” (vers. 1-14).
It is throughout the Spirit of prophecy, as in all the O.T and again in the Revelation, after the present action of grace is over and the glorified saints are seen in heaven, respecting whom God foresaw some better thing. The testimony of Jesus, as we are told, reverts once more to that prophetic character which could not but be of old, before He came and suffered rejection at the hands of His own people, but therein also accomplished redemption, and as the firstborn from the dead became on high Head of the body, the church. But it has consequently the Holy Spirit sent forth and dwelling in it as the power of actual relationship and communion in a way beyond example, save His own when here below: only that He had it as the seal of personal acceptance, we solely through grace by His work and accepted in Him as the Beloved. But Judah renewed, the godly remnant will look onward prophetically and through many a needed lesson of experience to the place in Messiah's love which is predestined. And what follows sketches how it will be effectuated.
After a final charge to the daughters of Jerusalem, there is a fresh vision of the bride coming up out of the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved. Once of old the people had come up out of it, not without wonders of divine goodness and power; but all was vain, for they leaned not on Jehovah or His Christ, but on self and law, which for sinful man, and such they were, can only be death and condemnation. Far different will it be when the generation to come emerges from it leaning upon the Beloved. What brings about so great a change? “I awoke thee under the apple tree; there thy mother brought thee forth; there she travailed that bore thee.” As was noticed in chap. ii. 3, Christ is meant by that tree; and it is His to awaken her from her long slumber and give her that life which alone lives to God. Compare Mic. 5:3. Not till then will the residue of His brethren return unto the children of Israel. The rejection of the Ruler, the smitten Judge of Israel, was fatal for the time: they were given up therefore, and God brings out His heavenly counsels in Christ and the church, until the day when Israel gives birth to the destined bride for Messiah here below, and the Jewish link will be reformed, not under law that works wrath, but by faith that it may be according to grace and stand in God's power, not ruin out of human weakness.
Then indeed will the prayer be answered, and Zion be set as seal on Messiah's heart and arm: how strong and jealous His love! and there is the answer to it in that day. Death and Sheol only proved His love; flames of Jah tested it; waters and floods could not quench it, unbought and above all price, so that all man could give is utterly despicable in presence of it.
But who is the “little sister” (vers. 8-10), when Jerusalem is thus renewed? The house of Israel, it would seem; for they will come forward later for blessing. They suffered for their idolatry, as Judah did afterward; but they did not return from captivity as Judah did to refuse the Christ, nor are they to receive the Antichrist. Consequently the dealings of grace with Israel by-and-by do not assume the deep and retributory character which will be the portion of Judah. Compare the type of Gen. 42-45 when Joseph makes himself known to his brethren, and especially Reuben on the one hand and Judah on the other.
The allusion to Solomon and his vineyard at Baal-hamon thus becomes clear. As Lord of multitudes, the King of Peace in that day will have His widely extended sphere of fruit let out to His servants, the keepers; and the kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render tribute; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts; yea, all kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him. No doubt, the bride will have her especial vineyard, which will be kept (compare chap. 1:6); but the revenue she will lay at Messiah's feet, whatever may be the gain of others thereby. The bride no longer begrudges the Bridegroom's voice to others; she will be too restful in His love to doubt; but she desires to hear it for herself in that day. The closing verses reiterate the call for the coming of the Beloved.
P.S. It may interest the reader to know that the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the most ancient witnesses extant of the Septuagint, itself the oldest version of the Hebrew original, divides the Song into four sections, each sub-divided into lesser parts, which briefly indicate the speakers and circumstances throughout.
The four sections are: (1,) chap. 1:1-14; (2,) chaps. 1:15-3:5; (3,) chaps. 3:6-6:3; and (4,) chaps. 6:3-8:13.
The reader that is curious about the copyist's view may see it all in the No. of the Journal of Sacred Lit. for April, 1865. It may suffice here to give as a sample the headings of the lesser part under § 1. (chap. 1:1-14): ver. 2, the bride; ver. 4, the bride to the damsels; ver. 4, the damsels speak, and again proclaim to the Bridegroom the name of the bride; ver. 5, the bride; ver. 7, the bride to Christ the Bridegroom; ver. 8, the Bridegroom to the bride; ver. 10, the damsels to the bride; ver. 12, the bride to herself and to the Bridegroom.
It is clear therefore that this weighty document bears testimony in the first half of the fourth century era to the application of the Bridegroom to Christ, rather than to Solomon, still less to a shepherd of the northern kingdom (Hitzig), or any one else. The Song was then by some at least read without hesitation reverentially and believingly. But there is another inference, which if sound is even more remarkable, from the heading of chap. iv. 16: “the bride asketh the Father that her Bridegroom may come down “; which is understood to point to the Jewish election as the bride in the copyist's judgment. Now the idea prevalent, among the Fathers so called in that age and since, identified her with the church, though individuals, as Theodoret lets us know, were not even then wanting who denied its spiritual reference. Origen, learned but precarious and even wild, had taught that the Bridegroom is the Word of God, and the bride either the soul or the church. The ancient Jews held to its allegorical character, God being the bridegroom and Israel the bride. Had they believed in the Messiah (Who is God), and seen the godly Jewish remnant of the future, the object of His restoring love in the latter day, it would have been more accurate. But this would have been the truth, known in the rejected but glorified Christ, and incompatible with Judaism as it has been and is. Only the Christian can have the truth, because he has Christ and life in Him and the Holy Spirit guiding into all the truth. Alas! how many that bear the name abandon its privileges and lapse into a skepticism more guilty than heathenism or Judaism. It is the spirit of the apostasy that is at hand. W. K.

The Hidden Treasure and the Costly Pearl: 3

THE second striking feature in the similitude of the hidden treasure is that the field was purchased for the purpose of acquiring the treasure: “the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field.”
In this particular, also, the analogy is in strict accordance with the doctrinal truth conveyed by inspiration to the apostolic churches, and through them to us and to all saints. For the Lord by means of His mighty work of redemption, purchased not believers only, but the world out of which they were taken. This is no matter of speculation but of revelation. Indeed the fact that in consequence of His death, the Lord bears a relation to all mankind and further to all creation, is repeated in scripture in various connections. He is Lord of all (Acts 10:36). He has received power over all flesh as well as to give eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him (John 17:2). He gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time (1 Tim. 2:6), as well as giving His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). He tasted death for everything as well as for the many sons He is bringing to glory (Heb. 2:9, 10). He reconciles not only those who were sometime alienated in their minds by wicked works, but all things whether in heaven or in earth (Col. 1:20, 21). The saints of to-day are His purchase or peculium (Eph. 1:14; 1 Peter 2:9); but also of false teachers it is said, “who privily bring in damnable heresies, and deny the Lord who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1).
There is therefore abundant witness that the Lord Jesus has obtained a right over the whole world including those who become heirs of salvation. So in the days of old it was under the title of the “Lord of all the earth” (Josh. 3:13), that Jehovah drove out the Canaanites and established His chosen people in the promised land. And in a coming day the Lord Jesus shall be manifested in the fullness of His acquired glory. Then shall He receive the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession (Psa. 2:8). But this is not in the present day. For in John 17:9, the Son said to His Father, “I ask (ἐρωτῶ) for them (the treasure); I ask not for the world (the field) but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine.”
Along with this parabolic assertion of the universal Lordship of Christ, two attendant circumstances are given which call for remark—(1) the joy of finding the treasure and anticipating its possession, and (2) the renunciation of all in order to acquire the treasure.
The prophets had borne witness to the joy of Jehovah over His people Israel when they shall be restored. “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married...and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee” (Isa. 62:45). Compare also Isa. 65:19; Zeph. 3:17. This however is during that blessed epoch, when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). But the truth in the parable is that, even during the period when tares, and leaven and unclean birds defile the kingdom of heaven, the saints constitute such a treasure in the Lord's own estimation as to afford Him abundant joy.
It is indeed marvelous and incomprehensible that grace should be delighted with objects such as we; nevertheless the fact remains. For Luke 15 shows that even one repentant sinner causes joy in the presence of the angels of God. Who then shall conceive with what exceeding joy the whole company of redeemed saints shall be presented faultless before the presence of His glory (Jude 24)?
Doubtless the supposition that it is impossible that Christ should find joy in the acquisition of His own, or that they should be of value to Him, has led to the popular interpretation of the actor of the parable being not Christ but the sinner. A well-known writer declares that to see Christ in the passage “strangely reverses the whole matter” and he characterizes the view at its best to be no more than “ingenious.”
But to any who are bound by the scripture the phrase, “for joy thereof,” should offer an insurmountable difficulty to making the interpretation of the parable descriptive of man's entrance into the kingdom. For it is to be observed that the word nowhere teaches that the sinner receives the gospel with joyfulness, whatever joy may and does follow in due course (Rom. 5:2, 3, 11). In fact the same may be gathered from the parable of the sower in this very chapter. There we find that the one who received the word “with joy,” was he who had no root in himself, and who, as soon as tribulation and persecution arose because of the word, was immediately stumbled. And not a word is mentioned as to joy in connection with the “good ground” hearers. And no support can be obtained from Acts 2:41. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized “; for scholars are agreed that the word “gladly” is an unwarranted interpolation, It is true the truth heals, but it does so because it first wounds. It leads to the Savior which is joy indeed, but it previously convicts of sin which is never a pleasant process. The view in question therefore does not correspond with the plain statements of scripture. But passages have already been pointed out which show that the Lord finds joy in the redemption of His saints. In Heb. 12:2, it says of Jesus, “Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God.”
We may therefore conclude that it is Christ who “for joy thereof” sold all He had and bought the field. For the sinner is never told to sell all that he has to purchase the gospel which is without money and without price. And the reference to the word to the ruler— “Go and sell that thou hast” (Matt. 19:21), is of no avail whatever. For this was a test whether so rigid an observer of the law was able to take the path and position of a disciple of the rejected Messiah. He failed as all must, and thus really condemns the theory of those who rob the parable of its force. The allusion to Paul's renunciation of all things for Christ's sake, detailed in Phil. 3:4-9, is also without point; for this was the experience of one who knew Christ. It is quite a different thing, having found Christ to yield up all for His sake, from surrendering all things as the condition of finding Him. The latter exists in the imaginations of men but not in the gospel.
But this leads to the second point: that the finder sells all that he has and buys the field. In what way was this fulfilled in Christ?
Surely in this that, though He came to the house of Israel as the promised seed of Abraham and of David to reign over the house of Jacob forever, He renounced that earthly glory, which was and is His by oath and promise, in order that He might have the saints of the heavenly calling which manifestly could not be, had the kingdom then been set up in power. Thus in Matt. 16:20, directly He speaks of the assembly which will be composed of those who confess His name in the hour of His rejection, He charges His disciples to tell no man He is Christ. He puts aside His Jewish title, comes before them as the Son of the living God He is however rejected and crucified (Matt. 16:16; John 19:7). But in resurrection He is offered to all, not to Jews alone; for the gospel delivers those who believe from all earthly distinctions and associates them with Christ on high. And this goes on even now, when the Lord waives His Jewish rights that He may gather His treasure out of the field.

Morsels From Family Records: 5.

WHEN we review “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ” with Heb. 1:1, as our standpoint, the list given of the kings becomes very deeply interesting.
By the Lord's express command, Joshua, the successor of Moses in the leadership of the people was to stand before Eleazar the priest, who should inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the Lord (Num. 27:21). This did Israel on one occasion, in the days of Phinehas (Judg. 20:28), but when Abiathar fled to David to Keilah, the ark rested in obscurity in Kirjath-jearim, and of all the priestly vestments he brought with him simply an ephod in his hand. And when in perplexity David bade Abiathar bring hither the ephod; and David inquired of the Lord, who answered him in condescending grace (1 Sam. 23:6-12).
As all know, David was no sooner established in the kingdom, than he set about bringing up the ark to Zion: Solomon built the temple, that house of rest for the ark of God. At the dedication of the temple, first appeared the overshadowing cloud; “Then spake Solomon, the LORD hath said that He would dwell in thick darkness.” Would He who dwelt between the Cherubim indeed shine forth? When Solomon had made an end of praying, all the children of Israel saw the fire descend from heaven, and the glory of the LORD filled the house; seeing which they bowed and worshipped with thanksgivings.
So far as we have ourselves gleaned, scripture gives not the slightest intimation for how long or how short a period tha