Bible Treasury: Volume 3

Table of Contents

1. Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 15
2. Notes on 1 John 1
3. Notes on 1 John 2:1-11
4. Notes on 1 John 2:12-28
5. Notes on 1 John 2:28-29 and 3:1-11
6. Notes on 1 John 3:11-24 and 4:1-7
7. Notes on 1 John 4:7-21
8. Notes on 1 John 5
9. Brief Thoughts on 1 Peter 1:1-9
10. 2 Chronicles 20
11. A Word on 2 Corinthians 1
12. Notes on 2 John
13. 2 Peter 1
14. Notes on 3 John
15. Advertising
16. Advertising
17. Advertising
18. All of One
19. Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.
20. "Before Abraham Was, I Am."
21. Born Again
22. Christ, Having Suffered Here Below
23. Christ Is All and in All
24. The Christ of God: The True Center of Union
25. Christ the Propitiatory
26. Christ the Truth
27. Christian Responsibility
28. What Is the Church?
29. Church's Part
30. Church's Part
31. On Cleansing Before Atoning
32. The Coming and the Day of the Lord
33. Confession
34. Correspondence: Isaiah 53:11 and Daniel 12:3
35. Correspondence: Objections to "The Banished One Bearing Our Banishment"
36. A Covenant: Definition
37. Remarks on Daniel 1
38. Remarks on Daniel 10-11
39. Remarks on Daniel 11:36-45
40. Remarks on Daniel 12
41. Remarks on Daniel 2
42. Remarks on Daniel 3
43. Remarks on Daniel 4
44. Remarks on Daniel 5
45. Remarks on Daniel 6
46. Remarks on Daniel 7
47. Remarks on Daniel 8
48. Remarks on Daniel 9
49. Discipline: 10. Gideon
50. Discipline: 11. Samson
51. Discipline: 12. Ruth
52. Discipline: 6. Moses — Part 1
53. Discipline: 7. Moses — Part 2
54. Discipline: 8. Moses — Part 3
55. Discipline: 9. Joshua
56. Ephesians
57. Brief Thoughts on Ephesians 1:15-23
58. Errata in No. 44
59. The Faithfulness of God Seen in His Ways With Balaam: Part 1
60. The Faithfulness of God Seen in His Ways With Balaam: Part 2
61. Fragment: All the Saints Are Equally Free
62. Fragment: Provision of the Word
63. Fragment: The Great Question
64. Fragment: The Testimony of the Church
65. Fragment: Walking With God
66. Fragments Gathered Up: Outside the Camp
67. A Few Words on Fruit-bearing
68. Galatians 3
69. The Epistle to the Galatians
70. God Entering His Temples
71. God Is Love or Love Is God - Which?
72. God's Dealings With Man
73. God's Nature: Holiness and Love
74. Grace Upon Grace: Correction
75. Habakkuk
76. Haggai
77. Thoughts on Hebrews 1
78. Thoughts on Hebrews 10
79. Thoughts on Hebrews 11
80. Thoughts on Hebrews 12
81. Thoughts on Hebrews 2
82. Thoughts on Hebrews 3
83. Thoughts on Hebrews 4
84. Thoughts on Hebrews 5-6
85. Thoughts on Hebrews 7
86. Thoughts on Hebrews 7:26-28 and Hebrews 8
87. Thoughts on Hebrews 9
88. Holiness
89. Hosea
90. On the Humanity of Christ
91. Job 9
92. Joel
93. On John 1:29-39
94. Dr. M'Neille on John 7:39
95. Jonah
96. The Lord My Shepherd
97. Extract on Luke 15
98. Malachi
99. Remarks on Matthew 1
100. Remarks on Matthew 10
101. Remarks on Matthew 11:25-30
102. Remarks on Matthew 2
103. Remarks on Matthew 3
104. Remarks on Matthew 4:1-11
105. Remarks on Matthew 4:12-25
106. Remarks on Matthew 5:1-17
107. Remarks on Matthew 5:17-48
108. Remarks on Matthew 6
109. Remarks on Matthew 7
110. Remarks on Matthew 8
111. Remarks on Matthew 9:1-35
112. Micah
113. Miracles: Powers of the World to Come
114. The Morning Star
115. Nahum
116. Nature and the Spirit
117. New Testament Synonyms: Children and Sons
118. Notes of a Discourse
119. Obadiah
120. Object of Prophecy
121. Oh That My Bark Were Safe on Shore
122. The Passage of the Jordan
123. A Few Words on Preaching
124. The Presence of the Comforter
125. Psalm 8
126. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 1-4
127. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 12-16
128. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 16
129. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 17
130. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 18-21
131. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 22-24
132. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 25-28
133. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 29-32
134. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 33-36
135. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 37-39
136. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 42-44
137. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 5-8
138. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 9-11
139. Publishing
140. Publishing
141. Reality
142. The Rest That Remaineth: 2 Samuel 7
143. The Resurrection and the Life
144. Brief Thoughts on Revelation 1-6
145. Brief Thoughts on Revelation 7-22
146. Sketch on Revelation: Part 1
147. Sketch on Revelation: Part 2
148. Righteousness
149. The Righteousness of God
150. Rivers of Living Water
151. Romans 5:18-19
152. On Romans 8
153. Scripture Is the Expression of God's Mind
154. Scripture Queries and Answers: Baptism
155. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Pouring Out of the Spirit
156. Scripture Queries and Answers: Those Come Out of the Tribulation, Before the Throne
157. Scripture Query and Answer: 1 Corinthians 14:21-31
158. Scripture Query and Answer: Our Besetting Sin
159. Scripture Query and Answer: Church or Assembly
160. Scripture Query and Answer: Die With Jesus or With Lazarus?
161. Scripture Query and Answer: Gentiles Not Under Law and Romans 3:19
162. Scripture Query and Answer: Grace for Grace?
163. Scripture Query and Answer: Jeremiah 31:22 - May It Be Applied to the Incarnation?
164. Scripture Query and Answer: Justification, Quickening, Raising
165. Scripture Query and Answer: Luke 15: The Proper Intention of This Chapter
166. Scripture Query and Answer: New Covenant With Israel and With Judah
167. Scripture Query and Answer: Offerings
168. Scripture Query and Answer: Others
169. Scripture Query and Answer: Partakers of the Divine Nature
170. Scripture Query and Answer: Saints Caught Away
171. Scripture Query and Answer: My Servant
172. Scripture Query and Answer: Swearing
173. Scripture Query and Answer: That Blessed Hope
174. Scripture Query and Answer: The Jewish Remnant
175. Scripture Query and Answer: The Morning Star
176. Scripture Query and Answer: The Word Redemption
177. Scripture Query and Answer: What Ground Is There for the Rhemish Version and Note: Staff or Bed?
178. Scripture Query and Answer: Woman's Part at Meetings
179. A Letter on Separation
180. Thoughts on Service: Philippians 2
181. Strength Made Perfect in Weakness
182. Suffering in Temptation
183. The Table of the Lord
184. The Saint in Glory
185. They Are Not of the World
186. They Are Not of the World
187. Thoughts on Hebrews 13
188. To Correspondents
189. To Correspondents
190. To Correspondents: The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
191. This Is the True Character of the Church
192. A Few Words on the Two-Fold Way of God Brought Before Us in Psalm 77
193. The Way of Grace
194. The Ways of Grace
195. The Well of Water
196. Who Is a Priest and What Is a Priest?
197. Zechariah
198. Zephaniah

Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 15

It is amazingly sweet that the very day on which we came together to remember Christ, and to show forth His death, speaks to the intelligent ear of eternal blessedness tells those who come at the bidding of the Lord Jesus that the great victory is won; that that is removed which was the only difficulty in the way of God. And, beloved, there was but one thing that ever was a difficulty to Him, and I think I may say with reverence, that there was a difficulty even to God. Undoubtedly all things are possible with God; but then it was possible only at the cost of His Son. Now this was the great thought always before God. For there never was a more profound mistake than to suppose that sin was a mere accident that came into the world; and that the gift of Jesus, the redemption of Jesus, was a bare remedy and necessity on God's part, if that terrible thing, sin, was to be taken out of the way. It is perfectly true that sin was in no wise entitled to fill a place in the universe of God. “An enemy hath done this.” It was God's enemy that brought it into a world once spotless, and the outward reflection of God's beneficent power; and all was ruined. But then it is of all importance for our souls to bear in mind steadily that it was always the thought of God to permit that the very worst should be done, in order that He might show His own depths of love and grace to those that were ruined by sin, that He might bring out such tenderness, and patience, and wisdom, and goodness in the midst of evil, as never else could have been seen. And goodness is never so thoroughly proved as where there is that evil which resists it and hates it. It is all well when things are smooth. We know from personal experience that it is an easy thing to go on when there is no difficulty in the way, where everything is congenial and in favor of what is good; where there is no trial and no contrariety to the spirit. But that which puts the soul to the proof is where everything runs hard and foul against it.
Now God permitted that the enemy should introduce into this world that which denied and opposed Himself at every point; that which left God not a particle of character in the world that He had made; for what in God has not been belied of Satan? What evil, what calumny has not Satan invented, have not our hearts believed about him? Who is it we have so much dreaded as God? Who is it we have most endeavored to flee from? Yet, in the face of all this evil which God has allowed to come out in its worst colors, He has provided that there is not a word, nor a deed, nor a feeling that Satan could excite in this world, but brings into evidence something of God that never had been so well known before. The wonder is this; the Son of God has come, lived, died, and is risen; and we assemble here together at His bidding on His resurrection day. The evil meanwhile goes; on; God has Himself told us that it must increase; “evil men and seducers waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” —bad times—worse times the last days the worst of all—until what God has wrought in the death and resurrection of Christ is brought out before the whole world by His power. But just think, now, what a wonderful place is ours! And this was the prominent thought upon my spirit; that we, having found Christ, have had our feet, as it were, set upon the rock of ages by God Himself, that we stand upon that which is imperishable and unchangeable, and which brings us into association with the very deepest thoughts of God, and with the greatest victory that even He has ever achieved. For, in fact, all other victories are but the result of that one which is already ours in Christ. Because it must be evident to every intelligent mind that, if that which is the worst of all, and the root of all the confusion, has been met; if the poison that has been trickling all over the world, and penetrating and corrupting everything else—if that has been dealt with, it is only a question of God's will, the bringing out of that which He has already found and given to us in the death and resurrection of Christ. Now, every Christian knows that he has found it there. I do not mean that every Christian realizes what God has done there. If so, there never would be anything but hearts entirely above all the circumstances of this world. There might be holy weeping and loving sorrow over a groaning, sinful world, but the heart would be evermore overflowing with thankfulness to God. For it is quite possible to have all the affections of our hearts drawn out towards the saints of God in all their trials, and to have the deepest feeling for the poor world, and yet have nothing but praise and thanksgiving as we look at Christ and think who has given Him for us and to us. This is our place. This is what God Himself brings before us in connection with the very day on which we assemble to remember Christ; and it is a blessed thought for us that God did not choose that day when Christ died. Most solemn it was that the Messiah should be smitten in the house of His friends—though it was the death of Him by whom alone our sin could be put away; for God Himself was obliged to turn away His face from His beloved Son when our sins were laid upon Him. But the day of the cross is not that which summons us together, nor is it the day that intervened between his death and resurrection—the day when man was keeping, alas! his holy day; when those who thought themselves something for God on the earth, but who were really the enemies of the Father and the Son, vainly supposed that they were sanctifying a day to the Lord of Hosts—the day when their own Messiah lay in the grave, slain by their wicked hands.
But now this is the grand change, when God has put forth His power once more—not now to make a world that Satan might come and spoil it all, but the day when the new power is put forth—when God has raised Jesus up from the dead, who had all our sins laid upon Him. And where are the sins? Where is that which God charged upon Jesus? It is gone! He is risen! And out of His resurrection flows every blessing, and this not to the Church only; for there is no lasting blessing that God will confer but what is founded on that death, and flows out of that resurrection. Yet the evil was allowed to go on. The world was making merry, little thinking that such a work was done. Nor was it, indeed, intended of God to be openly, undeniably known to the world yet. But God speaks from heaven Himself. He sends down the Holy Ghost to those whose hearts are opened by His grace upon the earth. And they know this mighty work that God has wrought—that Christ is risen, the first-fruits of them that slept. And there we have the Holy Ghost; for He cannot rest when He opens such a theme till He shows us the end of it—if indeed end it can be called; for he launches out into that scene where God shall be all in all, and there shall be no end—where there will not be one single enemy to put down—not a sorrow to heal—not a breach to repair; but when all will be the full and suited result of the power of that life which is already ours in Christ.
Beloved friends, how do our hearts enter into all this? We owe it to God that we should feel all that is around is—that we should take notice of that which He is doing—that there should be no sorrow of the creature or of His own children, but what we should have hearts entering into it, and expressing our groan by the Spirit to God. For, so richly are we blessed, that God calls us to be imitators of Himself in this evil world. And how does not God feel for every wound and all the havoc that His enemy has caused? He is tender in pity towards all. Even if he were going to execute judgment upon the proudest city that had threatened to ravish His beloved people—the city of Nineveh, He must first send a prophet to warn them; and that prophet, little entering into His mind, might prefer judgment to mercy, if his own character as a prophet lay at stake. Yet, on the confession and repentance of the people, God turned aside the blow. It might be but a little confession, and one that soon passed away. And the destruction came afterward, and fell upon the fickle, guilty people, for their early repentance was but a transient thing. But there never is even so much but what God takes notice of it. And, therefore, when there was even this outward repentance of the people—clearly not of the Holy Ghost (for had it been the work of the Holy Ghost, it would have had permanency), God sets aside His own prophet, makes him heartily ashamed of himself, and even the little children and the very cattle of the place are brought into the remembrance of God.
We little enter into the largeness of His goodness, and His compassion, for every creature that He has made. But again, the very depth of His compassions, when despised, and where there is the unbelief that rejects Jesus, only brings the more surely eternal destruction from His presence.
But what a thought is this astonishing mercy and compassion of God for the ruined and miserable in the world! It is true that misery is not taken away, and the death of Christ has left the world apparently in the same state. The world, in fact, only got rid of One that troubled it. But what have the saints got through it? We are on God's side. We look at the death and resurrection of Christ, on the side not of man, but of God. And what do we see? In this poor world, which man might think but a speck in creation, we see the wonder of wonders that puts to shame not merely all on earth, but everywhere else; for what is there in heaven itself compared with the death and resurrection of Christ? Never, at any time, nowhere in any sphere that God has made, and that man in his poor thoughts and feelings might set above it, is there ought to be compared with that which calls us together this day. We remember One who was God, but who became man for us—One who did not only come from heaven, full of goodness and power, but to suffer death, the death of the cross, because we had sins that could not otherwise be put away. But what thanks shall we render unto God that we know this? that we have His own certain testimony of it? that all that God wants is that we should take the fullness of the blessing He has given us? We cannot make too much of Christ's death and resurrection. God has brought us within the precincts of perfect goodness. He has borne away all our evil; and what we have to do is simply to believe and enjoy and rest upon Himself. We may even find death encroaching, coming near and touching and withering up, as it touches that which is very dear to us. But we know resurrection—life in Christ—a far better life than a life would have been that had not known death. For what would have been even Christ, living in this world, if Christ had not died? (2 Cor. 5) It is His death that proves the power of His life, as of His love—the life which triumphed forever over death. For the eternal victory is won, and God has given it to us. There is nothing more to be done for us in respect of our sins. There is a great deal to be done in respect of our bodies and of the heavens and earth over which we are to reign. But there is nothing to be done to make good our position before God, or our deliverance, and the putting away of everything that could be a difficulty before God. The only real difficulty has been grappled with, and it is gone. The difficulty was that we lay under sin, and that God could not get over sin. But it is gone—entirely gone. He has done it Himself, at the cost of His beloved Son, and God leaves us in the world that we may learn the sufficiency of His grace in practice, as we know the triumph of it in Christ. And we are come to remember what He has done and to rejoice in what He is to us, to anticipate the sure glory that is coming, glory without end. No doubt it is glory that we rejoice in hope of—the glory of God. Am I not put in the place of a son in his father's house, who has perfect community of interest in all that his father has and is? We are waiting to be manifested as sons and heirs through Christ; but such we are even now. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” Nothing will be altered as regards the world till God has taken us to Himself to be with Jesus—till Jesus has come to receive us and to represent us in the Father's house. For there will be no such thing for us as slipping into heaven. He will come for us to receive us, that when we do enter the Father's house, it may be with fullness of acceptance in that Blessed One who makes all sweet that the Father looks upon. We shall be ushered in by the Son Himself—not even the least one will be left behind. What a change will it be for all—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye! Then God will have the joy of having all His own way, and then Satan will have the misery of seeing all those whom he had attempted to injure fully blessed of God!
Such is our portion even now in hope. We are not like those who have to wait till our bodies are changed to know what God feels towards us. May we remember that we are not dependent upon anything that may happen. We rest upon this—God has shown us Jesus. He has given us to believe in Jesus, and not only in Him, but in the mighty work that God has wrought for its in him.
May we enter into this our portion with increasing simplicity, remembering that the day approaches!

Notes on 1 John 1

THE great leading truth of all this Epistle is what is expressed in the first verse. That eternal life has come down—a real positive life. That eternal life that was with the Father, actually entered this world in the Person of Christ. The old thing—what the first Adam was, is entirely rejected. It is true, we have got both in its as long as we are in the body. But there is a Second man, the Lord from heaven, who has come in, because the first man was turned out. In blessed grace He comes down. And we have seen it, he says, land heard it—the word or life—that is, in Christ. He was walking about this world, another kind of life altogether. That is what He calls “from the beginning.” It was an entirely new thing, manifested here below.
Wherever there is the fullness of grace brought in, i.e. our privileges and relationships, we get the Father and the Son. Of course it is God, but God brought out in these relationships.
The first thing we have here, in virtue of the life of God given to us, is the fullness of the privileges of the saints in Christ. They have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. That brings a second point out, and it is this: —If you say you have that kind of fellowship, and walk in darkness, it is all false, because darkness cannot have fellowship with light. If you have perfect grace bringing in divine life—the life that was manifested in the person of Christ, and then communicated to us, he next says, “It is light.” God does not change the holiness of His nature; and therefore the pretense to have fellowship with it, if we are walking in darkness, is all false. Then he presents the remedy as regards our state; that is, that Christ cleanses us and makes its fit for the light. And the second thing which routes out in the next chapter is, that when, in our weakness, we had fallen into sin. “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Grace has provided for the evil, though there can be no communion with God in it. First, we have the fullness of the blessing; next its nature and character—God's light and purity; and then the means by which it is possible that such sinners as we can have all this blessing —first, by the cleansing, and then by the advocacy, of Christ.
“That which was from the beginning, which, we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which, we have looked upon and our hands have handled of the Word of life.” Christ is looked at in this world as the beginning or everything. It is not that the saints before had not received life from Him above, but the thing itself had never been manifested.
“'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard.” &c. It was in a man bodily. It comes by the power of the word now, but they had seen this eternal life in the person of a man walking about in this world. Just as we can see natural life in Adam, so we see divine life in Christ. If we look at the life in us, it is united with failure; but I can see and know what the perfectness of the life is by looking of “And the life was manifested and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested unto us.” There we see and know it; and our spirituality depends on the degree in which we realize it. They had seen it as come in the flesh, amid it is declared unto us, that we may have fellowship with them and their fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. It is not merely a person justified before God by the work of Christ, but it is fellowship with God in virtue of a life which was in Him before God—a life perfectly conformed to all that God is. Looking at the new nature given to us, in its holiness, and its love, it is the same thing as that which is in God. He gives me this life that there may be power. It cannot reveal things to me, but it can give me fellowship with God: It is not merely that I am justified before Him, but I have the same thoughts and feelings: He has them in and we having them from Him, they are the same. There is fellowship. There are common thoughts and joys and feelings with the Father and the Son, and that we know and have. He has given us the Spirit that there may be power, if the Holy Ghost works in us. All that was perfect in a man's feelings, according to the divine nature, Christ has had. If my soul delights in Christ, and sees the blessedness of what is in Him, do not I know that my father delights in Him too He delights in holiness and love, and so do we: that, is fellowship. You get fellowship with the Father and the Son. This is the blessedness that I have got. It is not merely the fact that I am accepted, who was once a sinner, but that, Christ having become my life, I get the blessedness of fellowship with the Father and with the Son. The, Father loved the Son—the Son loved the Father— and I get their divine affections and have fellowship with them. This is where He brings us; it is perfect blessedness.
Nor is this merely true in heaven; because Christ had not communion with His Father in Heaven. He served His Father upon earth—gave up His will in everything. The life was manifested to us here, not in heaven. Of course the full blessedness of it will be known in heaven, and therefore he says, “These I things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” We have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. There is nothing beyond that in heaven, itself. Therefore it is, “These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” That is the blessing He puts us in.
Now he brings in the test, that there may be no self-deception. This then is the message which we have heard of flint, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” if He manifested this eternal life, He manifested God too, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” With the thought of this life, He brings in that which tests everything in us too: that is the other side of it. It runs all through this Epistle. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Here it is said, God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” The light is the purest thing, and it manifests all else. That was what Christ was—perfect purity, and as such He manifests everything. “If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.” It is impossible in the nature of things. If there is not the purity of this divine nature that is light in us, there is no fellowship with God. If we say that, there is, we lie, and do not the truth. There is no limit short of God Himself. The thing that is revealed is God. You cannot give man light, nor find the light for yourselves. It was in Himself. Now God has been manifest in the flesh, and therefore you have to “walk in the light as be is in the light.” And if we do, “we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” We have in that seventh verse the three parts of our Christian condition looked at as men walking down here. We walk in the light as God is in the light, everything judged according to Him with whom we have fellowship. Next what the world does not know anything of, we have fellowship one with another.” That is, I have the same divine nature with every Christian—the same Holy Ghost dwells in me; so that there must be fellowship. I meet a perfect stranger traveling, and there may be more communion with him than with one whom I have known all my life, just because the divine life is there. It is a natural thing to the new creature; there is fellowship. But besides these, I am cleansed— “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”
We are in the light as God is in the light; we have fellowship together; and we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Then he enters a little more into the practical condition of our own conscience. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” There is where truth in the inward part comes out. The new nature in us judges all the sin that is in us. He does not deny that we have learned the truth; but if Christ is the truth in me, it must judge all that is of the old man and sin. If a person has only learned the truth outwardly, he may gloss over all the rest. But if the truth is in us, everything comes out. If I say, I have no sin, looked at as in the flesh, I deceive myself and the truth is not in me. Yet it is not merely saying that there is sin in me that is the thing. It is when really the heart and conscience are touched so that I own I personally followed the flesh. It is not a doctrine then. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” His hearing towards us is gracious and forgiving, and he cleanses us completely.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” If we pretend not to have sinned, we make Him a liar; it is not merely that the truth is not in us, but I am making God Himself untrue in His Word. To say that I have no sin is to deceive myself; but to say I have not sinned is to deny God's truth even outwardly, because He says all have sinned. I am denying really the whole truth of God. But these are the two things that are called for: first, to know that the truth is in us; and then to confess our sins. A man may be dreadfully proud and not like to confess it; but when a person has, through divine grace, got the upper hand, he hates himself instead of excusing his sin, he confesses it, he has got right with God, and God says, I will forgive you; it is all done with. We stand before God in the sense of His favor. But besides that, we stand before God with the consciousness of being perfectly clean in His sight.
If I get into the light, with any dirt upon me, I see it there; if I am in the dark I see no difference. If we are in the light before God, all is seen. But if I am cleansed and in the light, I only see the more that there is not a spot in me. The two opening verses of chap. ii. are the means of maintaining us in the light.
The first chapter takes up these two things: first, the fullness of the blessing, in fellowship with the Father and Son; and, secondly, the nature of the fellowship, and then how a sinner can have it—the individual state of soul as judging and confessing sins, and truth in the inward parts. I cannot say I have no sin, and yet I say I am clean before God. There is where people mistake. They want a divine nature, which, instead of pretending to works, judges everything according to the light. Wherever there is sin on the conscience there cannot be communion, though there is a blessed means of grace that does cleanse. “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” in chapter ii. 1, 2, we have the remedy for daily defilement. There it is Christ, not to maintain righteousness, but to restore communion.

Notes on 1 John 2:1-11

THE two first verses connect themselves as a kind of supplement to the preceding chapter. He had put before them this privilege of fellowship with the Father and the Son, which must be in the light; and there was this perfect remedy, the blood of Christ, which presents us clean in the light. Now he says, “These things I write unto you, that ye sin not.” The object of all this was that they should not sin. “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” It is not exactly the same thing as in Hebrews, where we find a Priest with God, because there the question is of the possibility of our coming to God. There it is making good the truth that we can. go to God, and it has that character throughout. But all through the Gospel and Epistle of John he speaks of more than merely going to God as a public worshipper. Here we are much more intimate with Him. It is a different thing that I can go and worship before God and approach Him, or that I am in intimate fellowship with Him. We get into relationship with him. Whenever he speaks of grace, he speaks of the Father and Son, and when of light he speaks of God. In John 8., where they are all convicted of sin, it is God. “Before Abraham was, I am.” When He gets to grace, He speaks of being a good Shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep, and whose voice the sheep know. He says there is as much intimacy between you and me as between me and my Father. There is the perfect revelation of love in an intimate relationship like that.
Advocacy here is connected with the Father. Where communion is interrupted, it is restored: we do not cease to be sons and to be accepted. It is not a question here of whether as a sinner I can come to God or not, but of the loss of this intimacy which the least idle word destroys. And that makes it still further plain that accepted persons are spoken of here. It is not a question now of God's accepting. Not even priesthood had to do with that, still less advocacy with the Father. It supposes that we are naughty children, and that the freedom of this intimacy is destroyed, and Christ takes the place of Advocate to restore it. Grace works, but is never any mitigation of sin in itself: it is no allowance of sin.
The ground is thus laid in this remarkable manner. There are two things to consider; our standing in the presence of God, and on the other hand, the evil which is inconsistent with it. Christ has met both. “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.” That never changes. The place which we have with God abides there, because Christ, the righteous One, is there. The perfectly accepted person is in the presence of God, and God is honored about the failure. “And He is the propitiation for our sins.” So that the advocacy of Christ with the Father is founded upon this acceptance, first of His Person and then of his work for us. We are accepted in the Beloved, and that never changes, because that righteous one always appears in the presence of God for us. And yet the Lord does not allow anything contrary to Himself. Sin is not passed over. “have an Advocate.” And yet, if He is the Advocate for these persons who have failed, it is because He is the propitiation for their sins. There is perfect acceptance. Having met all requirements about sin on the cross, we are put in the presence of God in the acceptance of Christ Himself.
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” This bloodshedding is put upon the mercy-seat, in virtue of which we can go and preach the gospel to every creature. It does not mean that all are reconciled, but that the testimony of God's mercy went out not to Jews only, but to every creature in the world. Through this blood we can stand in His presence; but there failure comes to be the question for the conscience of the saint, and then comes in the advocacy of Christ.
But now he takes up another subject. The practical tests before men that we have got this life. In the main we may say that love to the brethren and righteousness or obedience are the grand tests. This eternal life we have seen in contrast with sin, sustained by the grace of Christ. Now we come to the same life shown in its fruits down here; and they were calling in question whether they had this life or not. Therefore he gives, in order to keep them in the consciousness and certainty that they had that life, these traits of it, which some of those of high profession had not. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” I would just observe here that throughout this Epistle you will find God and Christ so entirely confounded or united in the thought of the Apostle, that he speaks of one and then of the other as the same thing. Look at the last chapter. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in This Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” God is revealed to us in Christ. It may seem confusion, but it brings out the glory of the Person of Christ. So here, (ver. 28,) “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” He begins with Christ's appearing, and the same sentence ends with God himself. So here, with regard to God's commandments. “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” They are Christ's commandments, and yet they are God's too. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.” A man says he knows God and does not keep His commandments—the truth is not in him, because this life is an obedient life, and if Christ is our life, the principles of Christ's life are the same in us. If the principle of obedience is not there, life is not there. But that is not all. “Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know, we that we are in him.” That gives a great deal more than the mere fact that he is a liar, if he says he knows God and does not keep his commandments. Another thing to be remarked is this. All John's statements are absolute. He never modifies them by bringing in the difficulties or hindrances that we may have in the body. “He that is born of God,” he says in chap. 3., “does not commit sin.” He is speaking there according to the very essence of the nature. The divine nature cannot sin. It is not a question of progress or degree, but “he cannot sin because he is born of God.” He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (chap. 5.) The wicked one touches the Christian often; but he never can touch the divine life: and John always states it in its own proper absoluteness, according to the truth itself. There are plenty of other scriptures that show our inconsistency. But if the flesh acts, it is not this new life, but you get the measure of it in itself. “Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected,” &c. That is absolute. if I am only saying an idle word, that is not keeping His word.
This is an immensely blessed truth. Because if I was under law and took his word in that way, I should have nothing to do with life. It tells me to love God, and in that I fail. But here the revelation I have of God in Christ is perfect love. The love of God is manifested, and if His word dwells in our hearts, His word is love and His love is perfected in us. “if a man keeps his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” In him not only towards Men. If the word is kept, that word is the power of Christ in us, and that is the perfect love of God enjoyed in the heart. We may fail in keeping it, but the Apostle does not give these kinds of modifications, but the truth in itself; and it is thoroughly true, and experienced in the measure that the word of God is kept in the heart. The Holy Ghost is the power, bat we cannot separate that from the word. He is in us, and we have got that love in our souls—God's love as manifested in Christ. Supposing I got disobedient, I get sin in my heart instead of Christ.
“Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” Now he says we are in Him. We dwell in God. If I say I am in Him, I have got this strength and shelter in Him. Now you must walk as He walked. Christ is my life. Then I must walk like Christ. Not to be as He was—but we are not to walk according to the flesh. Therefore he does not say, You ought to be what Christ was; but that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk even as he walked.” If you say you abide in him, you are there always: you should always walk as He walked. There is never any reason for walking after the flesh. The flesh is in us, but that is no reason why we should walk after it. I am always at liberty to walk spiritually. There is liberty before God as to the walk. If I have got a fleshly nature, a commandment comes contrary to the will of that nature. I want to go into town, and I am ordered oft into the country. I do not like it. But supposing I was longing to go into town, and my father says, You must go into town; why then to do the commandment is liberty. So now all the commandments of Christ are according to the nature that I have got already. Christ is my life, and all Christ's words are the expression of that life. And therefore when Christ's words are given to me, they only give me the authority to do what my nature likes to do. All the words of Christ are the expression of what he was. They told out His nature and life and being, and when we have got that nature, they guide and direct us. Therefore it is real and holy liberty. We ought to walk even as He walked.
“Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment, which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.” That is, from the beginning of Christ—His manifestation down here.
“Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you,” &c. Because they were looking for something new. One thing, he says, I boast of is that it is old, because it is what Christ was when upon the earth. But if you will have something new, it is Christ as your life by the Holy Ghost now. It is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the light now shines. It was true in him when here below, but now all this truth of the divine nature is as true of you as of Christ. Therefore it is new enough. It is old, because it was in Christ Himself; but it is new, because it is in you, as well as in Christ Himself.
So far we have had the first great principle of the divine life—obedience—walking in righteousness. Now comes the other side: loving the brethren. You are in the light, for God is light. Well then, God is love, and you cannot have one part of God without the other. If you have the light, you must have the love. Christ, when He was here, was the light of the world; but he was love too, and therefore if you have him as your nature, you will have both. “He that said he is in the light, and hated his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” In its very nature and way there is no occasion of stumbling. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” This is true really in detail. Because if I am walking in hatred to my brethren, I am walking in darkness. But the Apostle only gives the principle here. It is an old thing, because it was in Christ on earth; but is a new thing, because it is true in him and in you. “He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” We get there what I many call the characteristic tests of Christ our life. One is light—obedience—for no righteousness can be, unless it is obedient. Christ says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Therefore we get this principle of obedient dependence which is righteousness. The other is love.
Here then we have, first, as a supplement to the previous chapter, the advocacy of Christ; and then, in the other parts of the Epistle, the tests of this divine life as manifest in obedience and love to the brethren. In the life of Christ Himself all was most wonderfully, perfectly, and blessedly brought out.

Notes on 1 John 2:12-28

This comes in now as breaking in upon the general course of the epistle, and giving an account of why he wrote, and what he felt in writing.
And first we find him speaking to all Christians, whom he calls “little children,” and then addressing different classes of Christians, and telling why he wrote to theme. It is his heart opening itself out to those to whom he was writing; and then we get some important practical truths.
In verse 12, the “little children” is the same as in verses 1, 28, but different from the “little children” in verses 13, 18. In the former, he is speaking of all Christians, and calls them his “little children” whereas, in the other verses, it distinguishes between the young men, fathers, and the babes as these young Christians. But in the 1St, 12Th, and 28th verses, the word includes all saints.
“I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you, for His name's sake.” That is true of all Christians. It is their universal condition. He had said before, “Hereby we do know that we know him if we keep his commandments.” This was not to throw any doubt upon Christians being forgiven, but to stablish them in the truth, because he says, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins am forgiven for his name's sake.” That was a settled thing; they were all forgiven, and he wrote unto them because they were forgiven. A person that is not forgiven, the epistle does not apply to. He takes that ground in writing to them. “He says, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you, for his name's sake.” That was the common condition of all Christians.
But now, when he comes to the different classes of Christians, there is a different character and position given to each of them. “I write unto you, fathers, because you have known him that is from the beginning.” Amongst the little children of verse 12, there may be old Christians and babes. The fathers had known “Him that is from the beginning.” We have seen before, that means Christ in the world; His person manifested in flesh. “Ye have known him that is from the beginning.” That is where all experience ends. Not in a knowledge of self merely, as being occupied with it, but in such a knowledge of it as empties us of self, and gives us Christ. When a person is a young Christian, he is occupied with his feelings; it is all fresh and new to him, and it is right enough he feels such wonderful joy in being forgiven. But, as you grow up, you get more and more emptied of self and occupied with Christ. Christ is this, and Christ that. In verse 14, he only repeats the same thing when writing to the fathers. He has a great deal to add, when he writes to the young men, but, to the fathers, it is still, “Ye have known him that is from the beginning.” We learn our own foolishness and weakness, and so are cast upon Christ, and learn more of the depths of His grace, the perfectness of His person. All right experience ends in forgetting self and thinking of Christ.
Next, he comes to the young men: “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.” Having Christ with them, they have got strength in conflict and in service—they have overcome Satan. Then he says, “I write unto you babes, because ye have known the Father.” Here again, we get another remarkable fact as to what he thought about Christians. That is, the babe in Christ—they that were but children, had the Spirit of adoption. He has no idea of the weakest Christian not knowing that he was a child of God. To know Christ well, in the riches and excellence of His person, is to be a father in Christ. But the youngest Christian knows that he is a child, and that the Father is his Father. It is like all Christians being forgiven—it is his place as a Christian. “We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father.” It is not that you will not find persons doubting. You will find many a person who if you ask him whether he is a child of God or not, will think it very humble to doubt about it, but who, in his prayers, cries “Abba Father,” with all his heart. It is between him and God.
Repeating it over again, he has nothing to add to what he has said to the fathers, because all ends in Christ. With the others he goes more into detail, because of the difficulties of the way, and he brings out the secret of strength for them—the word of God, in the midst of this world, where nothing is owned of God—God's mind comes into this world, and that it is what we want. There is no way in the desert, as is said in the Old Testament. The word of God is God's way in the midst of a world where there is none. Therefore, when they are in the conflict, he says, “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” That is the word by which Christ Himself overcame, when the wicked one came and offered Him all the kingdoms of the world, He answered by the word—He overcame the wicked one.
Then He warns them:—Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” These things belong to it. All the glory of this world is not of the Father at all.
And the more we look into John, and indeed all through the New Testament scripture, you get two great systems brought out plainly. He does not say you do not love Christ. But there is one great system that belongs to the Father, and another that belongs to the world. Everything belongs to God as a Creator; but morally all is departed from Him. It was the devil that made this world, looked at as a moral world. God made paradise, and man sinned and got out of it, and then made up this world. Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and builded a city, and called it after the name of his son. Then God sent His Son, and they would not have Him, and thus it was a judged world. God has put it fully to the test; without law, under law, and then by His Son: and then He says, It is all judged. But then He has a way of His own, the Father has, and you cannot have both. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. You may be tempted by it, and have to overcome it; but if you love it, the love of the Father is not in you; because He has got a system of His own, and you are going to the other system. It is so, all through. In the gospel we get divine life in the person of Christ, and in the epistle, this divine life in the person of Christians. In John 8, you will see the same truth. “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world,” There is no middle path with God. If they are of this world, they are from beneath; and if they are not of this world, they are from above. He says, I am not of the world; I am from above: because He came from the Father. You are of the world, and therefore from beneath, because it is Satan's world. So here—if the love of the world is in you, the love of the Father cannot be. There is another divine system, where the love of the Father is displayed, and if you belong to that, you have to overcome the world. It is not of the Father: it does not belong to that system.
Then he adds this:— “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Satan's works cannot last. They are seductive while they are there, but they cannot last: “but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” —We have the same thing in another epistle. “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away, but the word of the Lord endureth forever.” So here. “He that doeth the will of God abideth forever” —he that follows that word. The word of God brings all this into us, and that is what we have to follow.
Now he turns to the third class, having given this warning to the young men. For when a Christian is first converted, he would not thank you for the world. But when he has got on a little, that freshness fades; the world gradually eats out his freshness. If he is not careful if his soul is not full of the things that are not seen, he gradually slips into the world. If he is full of Christ, he does not even see the things around. in chap. 5. John speaks of overcoming the world. There is the loss of all power and spiritual enjoyment, if the spirit of the world comes in; you cannot think of the things which the world suggests and the things of the Father at the same time. If the Holy Ghost is suggesting divine things to me, I have the present consciousness of belonging to all these things.
He turns, in verse 18, to the little children, and he tells them, “It is the last time.” That is a remarkable expression, because 1800 years have gone on since then, and it remains equally true that it is the last time; only the Lord, in His patience, is waiting, and not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But it is the last time, because the power of evil has come in. When Christ was here, and was rejected, the power of evil was in the world. Then, when God raised up the Church by the presence of the Holy Ghost, while Christ was on high, so that a man was in heaven, and the Holy Ghost in the world—there came power of redemption into the middle of Satan's world. That was not the last time. But now antichrists had come in, and he says, “this is the last time,” because even this had failed, and nothing will come after this but judgment. “Little, children it is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” These babes in Christ had broken with the world—done with its course. But here was a new kind of evil in the very place of divine power; persons setting up themselves, abandoning Christ, and that was more dangerous. They had broken with the world, and knew what it was. But here comes in spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. He warns the babes against these enemies of the last times. Thank God we have the warnings now. The Apostle Paul even says, these are the last days, which is stronger still. But there is entire security where Christ is looked to. It is remarkable how He looks at the presence of the Spirit of God in the saints. He may be a babe; but God will not suffer him to be tempted above that he is able to bear. There may be the young men, but God gives them discernment; they know not the voice of strangers. These people may come to them with ever so much pretension, but it is not a voice they know. They know the voice of Christ, and they follow Men.
We saw that the babes in Christ knew the Father, and now we find further that these very babes have the divine unction, so that they will be able to judge through divine knowledge. He is pressing upon them their own competence, not as others, in themselves, but as taught of God, to avoid all snares. It is the subtlety of Satan, and therefore he warns the little ones more against it. “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no he is of the truth. Who is a liar but He that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” There he gives us the full character of the antichrist. There were many antichrists, because the spirit of it had come in. Here it is the full character of it. It takes a certain Jewish character denying Jesus to be the Christ. And it is opposed to Christianity, denying the Father and the Son.
Then he presses another point of immense importance, because people in these days use a great many fashionable words, such as development.
“Let that, therefore,” the apostle says, “abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father.” It is the person of Christ. Instead of talking about the Church as a body that teaches, I say it is taught.
The thing that is revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, that which was from the beginning. But if my soul is resting upon that, the truth about Christ as taught by the Holy Ghost, I am taught of the Father. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes... of the Word of life.” And now he says, “Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning.” It is the person of Christ that is the great thing, and it was by the revelation of that, that the Church itself was formed. It exists in virtue of being taught of God. The Church had nothing to do with teaching at all. God may raise up individuals in the Church to teach, but the thing pressed upon us is that which we have heard from the beginning. It is a test of divine truth that we hold fast the starting point—Jesus Christ. This is what tests everything. Where people insist upon the authority of the Church, they never have the certainty of being children. If I am taught of God, I shall know what I have got for certain. Faith is always absolutely certain. IF I have got the Father, I know that I am a child. I may be a naughty child, but still I am a child. “If that which ye have heard from the beginning remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.” He has promised me eternal life, and I shall have it; it is a perfectly settled thing.
“These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all thing's, and is truth, and is no he, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” There is real divine teaching. God may use an instrument to put it before us, but there is no real faith in the soul except where there is this unction of the Spirit of God. There may be convictions of sin before we get our souls clear as to being saved. But the moment I am divinely taught the person of Christ, say I have got eternal life—the life that God sent into the world.
A babe in Christ being most in danger he enters into these kind of warnings; but a person grown up, into Christ knew very well where these things came from. What we should think now would be very learned things in Christianity, he says to the babes; but the great thing that marks those that are the most advanced—the fathers—is their knowledge of Christ.

Notes on 1 John 2:28-29 and 3:1-11

The apostle takes up again in this twenty-eighth verse all Christians in general, with an exhortation to abide in Him. You get here God in Christ so before the apostle's mind, that he says “Him,” without saying who He is. He had been talking about the anointing— “even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” Previously, it was rather God as such spoken of; but “when He shall appear,” we know Christ is meant thereby.
“And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” If they did not abide in Him, the apostle had lost all his work. It would have been so far to his shame. You get the same thing in the second epistle, (ver. 8,) “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” It is just what the apostle says in Corinthians. (1 Cor. 3:12, &c.) If we build upon the foundation, wood, hay, and stubble, the work will be burnt: there will be loss: he is proved to be a bad workman. The apostle here is pressing upon them to abide in Christ, that he may not be ashamed as a bad workman. It is “that we may have confidence and not be ashamed,” &c. Not you may have confidence, &c. Just what you get in the second epistle.
Then he takes up the second great object of the epistle—that communication of the divine nature of Christ, as our life, which gives us the same traits and characters that there are in God Himself— “which thing is true in him and in you.” God is love, and the Christian loves. God is holy, and the Christian is so too. In His almighty power, God, of course, is alone. But in what may be called the character of God, inasmuch as we are born of Him, we are like Him. And this divine nature enables us to enjoy God, as well as to be like Him.
Then, again, we see that God and Christ are so absolutely one, that the apostle says, “that we may not be ashamed before Him at His coming;” but immediately adds, “If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is born of Him.” We are born of God, yet it would appear to be speaking of the same that should come—which is Christ. We find the same truth in Dan. 7. The ancient of days described there, in Rev. 1 is the Son of man. We get in Christ what the character and nature of God is, in a man as living in this world; and then he shows that it is true of us too, as having the same life. He is righteous; and if a man doeth righteousness, he is born of Him. He has this nature. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God.” When once you come to grace, we have the Father spoken of again. We are called God's children because we really are so. “Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” Who? Now the “Him” means Christ. The world knew him not: it does not know us for the same reason. We have the same life and character that He had. The world cannot recognize and own what is of Christ in us, because it did not recognize it in Christ. It is extremely remarkable and blessed for us to see this man, the humblest man that ever was, and to find out what He really was, that God really became a man. The Word was God, and was made flesh.
We have got the same life; and when we have found Christ, we know that we have found God in all His blessedness close to us. And the world cannot know us. It does not know God, and cannot know us. You will find persons with a difficulty as to knowing whether it is Christ or God here, because the apostle carefully puts them together.
“It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” It has not been seen what we are to be. The apostles saw it for a moment in the transfiguration; but as to the revelation of it, it does not yet appear. But being saints of God, having the same life, we know that we shall be like Him. He identifies God with Christ, and in a sense identifies us with Him. His glory is not yet manifested; but we shall be like Him, for “we shall see Him as He is” —not as He will be, but as He is now in heavenly glory at the right hand of God. The flesh could not see this and subsist. Daniel fell as one dead, and John too, at the appearing of it. But we shall be like Him, and therefore capable of seeing Him as He is. This is a matter of infinite blessedness. We are to be conformed to the image of God's Son, that He may be the first-born among many brethren. If we were only conscious that there was all this blessedness, and yet had the thought, I am not to be like it, that would not be joy: whereas we are in it with the consciousness that we are the same. “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” That is, in glory as He is at the Father's right hand, and we shall see Him in that way.
“And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” That is, the hope of being like Him— “that hath this hope in Him,” that is in Christ—the hope of being like Himself. It does not say that he is pure as Christ is pure. But I have got the glory; and as it is mine, and I am going to be like Him, I must be as like Him as I can now. I must purify myself, and He is the measure of it. We are called by the glory to be up to it practically. The apostle says, “I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” I have not got this resurrection from the dead, but I am pursuing it. But when Christ comes, He will change our vile bodies—and then we will have got it. The connection between glory and present walk is striking. As long as we are down here in. this corruptible body, there is not a bit of glory. But the Spirit of God applies all this glory to the affections. I long to be like Christ, and therefore I get like Him in spirit. It is like a man that has a bright lamp before him at the end of a long passage. I have not got the lamp till I get to it, but I get more of it at every step. So with the glory. I have not got it till I am in it; but I get more of it the nearer I move towards Christ. So in Ephesians, He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it. He was washing and cleansing it, and would take away all spots. But it was that He might present it to Himself without spot. The spirit takes of the things of Christ and presents them to us, and transforms us into the likeness of Christ. In Philippians he is speaking of the spiritual effect, by actual resurrection, upon the heart. “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” It is the actual thing, and he gets it applied to his heart now. “Not as though I had already attained, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Christ, in grace, had laid hold of him for the glory. Now he sees the glory, and follows after it. It is the glory in resurrection applied to the man's heart all along the road. So it is here. “Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” This bright and blessed glory fixes the affections and purifies the heart and forms the proper Christian path. It is a sanctifying hope—the soul being occupied with Christ, so that it is kept out of the evil.
He then goes on to another thing. If I go and commit sin, it is the lawlessness of the flesh, and nothing to do with Christ. “Whosoever committeth sin, committeth lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” He does his own will in spite of God if he can. Because without the law sin was in the world. It is a kind of background he is taking. If you are not purifying yourselves, as Christ is pure, it is the lawlessness of the flesh; it is entirely opposite to Christ. There is no middle path. There is nothing good in this world. It is either Christ or flesh. Man is fallen and out of paradise, and there is nothing owned at all of man now. God made paradise, and man is out of it; and He made heaven, and man is not in it. But between the two there is nothing that God owns. God never made the world as it is, nor man as he is, i.e., not the moral state that the world and man are in. It grew up when God had driven man out from His presence. Then Cain went and built a city, and established himself and his seed outside God. It must be either “ye are from beneath,” or “I am from above.” “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” If the law, then, is applied to the flesh, of course the flesh transgresses it.
“And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” There was no sin in Him; and He came to do this away.
Then he takes in the strongest way the opposition between the two. “In him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” He is taking the two things as opposed in every way. Because, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,” he says to the same persons. But here, “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not,” &c. The divine nature cannot sin. The thing that is born of God cannot sin, and that is ourselves so far as we are in Christ. As the apostle says, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Of course, that is not sin. The saint is never looked at as in the flesh; but “he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” It is not merely that you are changed, but you are made partakers of the divine nature. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” He has got the same nature which walks in the same path. Christ has died as regards our guilt, and what is spoken of now is the communication of this nature. A man might come and make a great boast of high doctrine, and not do righteousness. Then I say, “That is not the divine nature. We have it in Rom. 6: “How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” You are dead. How can you be living in sin? Through carelessness you may fall into it, but that is not living in it. In general he takes what the truth is in itself, that we may know it in all its force. “He that committeth sin is of there devil.” He takes the opposite thing altogether. “For the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” How can he “For his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” It does not say, “he ought not to sin,” but “he cannot.” It is not a question of progress, but of the nature. The nature a man is born of is the nature he has, Take any animal you please, and this is true of it. We are born of God, and we have got that nature, and I say that cannot sin. I have got the treasure in an earthen vessel—that is true. The flesh is there, but the new nature is a sinless nature. It is, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin,” &c. “In this the children of God are manifested and the children of the devil: whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” There are the two traits which show themselves in a thousand details of life—righteousness, practical righteousness and love of the brethren. Mere amiable nature you find in dogs and other animals, it is animal nature; but the love of the brethren is a divine motive. I love them because they are of God. I have communion in divine things with them. A man may be very unamiable naturally, and yet love the brethren with all his heart; and another may be very amiable, and have no love for them at all. Lower down, he says “We know that we have passed from death unto life, be. cause we love the brethren.” It is the great test of the divine nature. It is the life of Christ which is in us, reproduced in our ways and walk. It is not merely avoiding sin, because there is more in Christ than the absence of sin. There was the manifestation of this divine nature. He was the divine nature walking through this world, and He had special love to the disciples, as we shall have special love to the brethren. He was a new being, introduced into this world to manifest God in it. And that is what we have always to do—to represent God in this world. “Ye are the epistle of Christ.” People ought to read Christ in you, as they read the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone. If they read that, they will not read evil. We have the flesh to struggle against, but not to walk after. It is not an effort to try and be like Christ, but that being full of Him it comes out. Therefore He talks of abiding in Him. So “he that eateth me abideth in me.” He has become our life, but he is also our life in every-day exercises. We are sent to be in the world to manifest God. Then comes difficulties and hindrances, and if we are not full of Christ we give way to them; whereas if we are full of Christ, we manifest Him in them. If not, we show heat, temper, or some evil thing. But there is no need of living in the old nature. We never can excuse ourselves for living in it, because Christ is ours.

Notes on 1 John 3:11-24 and 4:1-7

WE again see in the first of these verses the proof of what “the beginning” is here. The great thing we have to look to, as regards life and what that life is, is Christ manifested in this world. “This is the message that ye have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” We get Christ very distinctly there as the One who alone could give us the true measure and character of all else: He is the truth. Divine light, such as this, was not till Christ came. He was the faithful witness. Then you find another thing: there is the evil life or old Adam, and the good life, which is Christ. Both principles are at work. In the one there is hatred and his works evil, just as in the other we find love and righteousness. These go together. It began in Cain and Abel and has gone on ever since. Those that are really God's people are hated. Therefore it is said that “he was of that wicked one and slew his brother.” “In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” It was the spirit and nature, the being departed from God, of which the devil was the spring and the strength. “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil and his brother's righteous.” You must not be surprised, therefore, if the world hates you. It is natural to man. In the first place, Satan is the prince of this world, and besides that, it is the nature of man as he is. We were in death spiritually, and wherever that was the case, the spirit of Satan ruled and governed, and therefore there was hatred of God's children. But then there is this new life, and “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” If a man does not love the brethren, he abides in death. That is where we all are naturally. He is looking at the very principle of life. If I only find a sign that it is a wild apple tree, I know what the tree is. On the other hand, get the life of Christ, and the fruit answers to it. It is not a change of human nature as it is, because that abides in death. But the new life that comes is a life that bears its own fruit, just as that which is grafted into a tree. What sprouts up from the old stock is what came from the nature of the tree before.
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” He has not this good graft. It is a clear case.
Then he rises up to the source of it. “Hereby perceive we love.” What is this love? How can I tell it In that He laid down His life for us. And if Christ is really my life, He will be the same thing in spirit in me, as He was Himself. Christ kept the law because He was born under it. But the law calls upon man to love God and his neighbor, and that Christ did. But, besides that, He was the manifestation of God's love to man, and specially to His disciples, when they did not love God. That is what we have got to be. Christ, who was the activity of His love, laid down His life. We perceive what this love of God is by this. But you ought to manifest this same thing. It is an immense privilege. Not only I am required to do certain things, but I am called upon to be a witness of God in a world that is without Him. And there is no limit to it. I ought to go as far as Christ went. And there have been some that have done this to death. Many martyrs have laid down their lives for Christ. “We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Besides the immense privilege, it is an essential truth. We have to manifest God in this world, because Christ is in us. That is, if we are children of God, there is communion with the source of it, and then there should be the display of it in our walk—the epistle of Christ known and read of all men.
“Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” We have another mark there in the dwelling of the love of God. It is not merely love to God, because it is the spirit in which a person walks himself towards his brethren. It is the power of this divine nature dwelling in us which will show itself in love to God and man. The love of God dwelling in us is the way of God Himself, who through the Spirit thereby brings His love into us. It is not God's love to us, but it is the power of that love working in us, and therefore it will soon show itself to others. “My little children, let us not love one another in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” Now he looks to the effect of walking with God, as giving, not the knowledge of forgiveness, but confidence. He wrote to them because they were all forgiven; but if I want to have my heart assured before God, I must walk in this way. If my intercourse with God is a constant reproach, you cannot call it confidence. If I am not walking according to God, I must either get away from Him, or if I find myself in His presence, His Spirit is constantly reproaching me, and that is not confidence.
“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” He knows a great deal about me that I do not know myself. If a child has got a bad conscience, he sneaks about, if his father is coming; but if not, he runs to meet him and throws himself into his arms. But he cannot have that kind of confidence, if his heart reproaches him. That is what we have always to look for:—to be with God, and in entire confidence with Him—no thought behind that perhaps He has something against us, not as to condemnation, but as to present confidence. How far it goes, the entire, full counting upon God—counting upon His present activity for us! It is not only a question of the day of judgment, but it is the present dealing of the soul with God, and of God for the soul. “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” In chap. 5 it is said, “This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.” We are brought into a present, confident spirit with God, so that we expect everything good from Him. If a child is going on naughtily, he cannot go on in confidence. He may say, My father loves me, but he is going to give me a whipping. But when the heart is all right, the child expects everything that flows from his father's love. So here. “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” That has nothing to do with acceptance, but with the every-day out flowing of the Father's kindness, so that the child counts upon it. It is the terrible effect of looking at acceptance and forgiveness as the end of the Christian's course, that this confidence is almost unknown. The apostle began with forgiveness: “Your sins are forgiven you, for his name's sake;” and now he is speaking of the confidence of the heart towards God. You get this in John 14; 15 (ver. 23:) “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him,” &c. That is not the grace that saves. In the latter it is, “We love him, because he first loved us.” There it says, (ver. 21,) “He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” He is speaking of the present exercise of this love to Christ.
It is a great thing to say I have only to ask according to God's will, and I am sure to get it. He loves us in such a way that I can ask nothing without an answer. I want power, and I get it directly. I want some hindrance removed out of the way, and it is removed directly. I may ask my Father here for something, and he may tell me I cannot do it. I cannot attend to you. But that is never the case with God. You can ask nothing, according to His will, without getting it. In a right path I have the whole power of God at my disposal. I may see mountains before me—all Satan's power. But never mind. If you are walking right, “ask what you will, and it shall be done for you.” You have thorough present confidence in God. He is never too busy to hear us. All that we can come about is ours. Whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments,” &c. It is the direct government of God with our souls. This is where the question, between us and God, right and wrong, comes in. As regards our responsibility as men, we were ruined. Now we are saved, and God's dealings meet us on that ground, and then he delights to do everything for us. It is not what we will, but “whatsoever we ask.” It is the will of the new nature; i.e., obedience really. In that path of obedience God always heard Christ, for He was obedient, and God hears us; He puts us, in this life of Christ, into the same place as Christ.
“And this is his commandment that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in God, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” He comes now to another most important point. Not merely that there is life, but that God by His Spirit dwells in. us. There is power of communion as well as life. God dwells with him who is love. It is not merely that I am redeemed. But as it was said of Israel, “They shall know that I am the Lord their God that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them;” so it is said of us, “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” Christ was the obedient One, and God dwelt in Him; and he who is an obedient one now, God dwells in him. Christ said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” In us it is only derivatively by His Spirit; but still He dwells in us. In the obedient man God dwells as in Christ Himself. “And hereby know we that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” That is, it is the presence of the Holy Ghost with us that gives us the consciousness that God dwells with us. He does not add in this latter part of the verse that we dwell in Him; but simply that the effect of the presence of the Holy Ghost was and is, that we know that God abides; in us.
Then he warns them against false spirits. (Chap. 4: 1-6.) Every spirit is not the Holy Ghost. Many false prophets are in the world. The saints must beware. The question is not, whether a man be converted; but whether he who speaks, speaks by God's Spirit or a demon. The touchstone is the confession of Jesus come in the flesh. He who is guided of God confesses Jesus Christ Himself so come (not merely that He is come.) To confess His coming is to recognize a truth: to confess Jesus Christ come in the flesh is to own the person and lordship of Jesus. Once a demon is discerned, it is important to treat it as a demon: otherwise your sword is broken in your hand. To yield to human considerations, to play the amiable under such circumstances, will find you powerless against Satan. It is not to have communion with God in His thoughts of Satan. How precious is the word before such dangers! Holding it fast, with uprightness and humility, nothing will stumble us. God is faithful, and will guard the feeblest of His own. But outside this submission to God and His word, no matter what may be the beauty of a man's sentiments, or his ability, he will sooner or later fall under the power of the enemy. But we come to a new point here. Besides the life of Christ, there is the dwelling of God in us and of us in God. This was fully manifested in Christ, and the more we think of that, the more we shall see that the new life we have is a dependent life. Our Lord Himself said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God shall man live.” Therefore we see He was a man praying always—leaning on His Father. For though He was God, He never used that to take a false position as man; but He took the place of dependence. That is where He puts us—in the place of dependence, and therefore the place of power from above. It is not a question of sincerity, but of that lowliness which is the sense of dependence and looks for help and power from Another.
What a privilege and motive for holiness, that God dwells in us! And when we want to glorify God, the presence of His Spirit is the power. How distinctly God has come into close communion with us, and brought us into intimacy with Himself by forgiving us and saving us and giving us a life in which we walk with Him! It is a life of constant trial here, but of having Himself by the Holy Ghost as our power dwelling in us as we walk through the world. And this is what we have to see to: that the life of the saint should be developed according to Christ. And it is there that daily experience comes in, and we find our weakness if we are not looking to Christ.

Notes on 1 John 4:7-21

Another great fact, brought in at the close of what we last saw, was the giving of the Holy Ghost. In the first verse of this chapter, the apostle drops that to distinguish between spirits, not merely evil men. But there is a much greater action of Satan going on in the church of God than we are apt to suppose, and if we do not treat it as such, there is no power. If we come to terms with it, we cannot have power, because God cannot come to terms with Satan.
Then there is another thing in the sixth verse:” We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Thereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” Receiving the apostles' teaching is one of the tests of knowing God. “He that is not of God heareth not us.” A person that does not listen to the Scriptures as such is not of God at all.
He comes now, with the additional fact of the Holy Ghost being given, to the third part—love of the brethren—and shows you how deep its source goes. It is not merely obligation, or righteousness, but the very nature of God Himself, what He is, as Christ is the pattern of human righteousness. He goes to the very nature of God Himself as such. “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God.” It comes from Him, has its source in Himself. “Love is of God.” Because we have got His nature, we can say that “every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.” But there I stop. It is a course of righteousness. But now I say, “every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” It is not merely duty that I do; it is the true nature itself that I have. If a person has this nature, he has that of God. John is not speaking of mere natural affections: these you have in the brute beasts. But it is a question of the divine nature. That which marks divine love is, that it is first of all while we were yet sinners. It is above evil. Where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded. He that loves knows God. That is a great thing to say. I know what a man is because I am a man. An animal cannot tell what I am, because he has not my nature. In that way, when we love, we have the nature of God—we know what God is. There may be a great deal to learn, but still we have got the nature, and therefore know what that nature is. “He that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” If that new nature is in me I enjoy it: I have a nature capable of enjoying it. Every nature enjoys what is suitable to it. If we have the divine nature we enjoy God. We know Him in the way of enjoyment of that which belongs to our very nature.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” If I have it not, I do not know Him, because that is what He is. It is an immense truth, as regards the saints, that I know God. I have got the nature that enjoys God: and that is what everlasting enjoyment will be.
“In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” The apostle turns outside to get the proofs of this love. He is not looking inwards, as others do. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” If I want to know divine love, God's love, I do not look within; because “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” There is another thing here which spews the perfectness of this love—it had no motive. It is what God was. “If we love them that love us, what reward have we?” The manifestation of this love has a double character here. First, the Son is sent to be the propitiation for our sins. He loved us when we were guilty and deified. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” &c. God's love to us has its proof in this—when there was nothing at all in us to bring—when there was not a movement in us towards God, there was in God towards us. We had no spiritual life, but we were guilty, looked at as born of Adam. Therefore, this love is a perfect love. It has no motive in us, and, therefore, is perfect in itself; and it is exercised towards us according to our need. Here we have the proof of this love.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” How he draws the practical conclusion! If God has so loved me, I ought to love the brethren. I ought to get above all the disagreeable things and untowardness, because God loved me when I was as untoward as possible.
Now we come to another thing. It is God Himself present. Not merely have I got the divine nature, but God is present in a very remarkable way. “No man hath seen God at any time.” How can I know and love a being that I have never seen? “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” The Apostle Paul expresses it in a different way. “The love of God,” he says, “is shed abroad in our hearts.” Now, what makes it so remarkable here! If we look at John 1:18, it is said there, “No man hath seen God at any time.” How can I know and love a person I have never seen? “The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” That is, in the gospel, which is to bring Christ before us, I find the sense to be this:—Well, you have not seen God, and yet you have; because He who was the very delight of the Father—who is in the bosom of the Father—the immediate and closest object of the Father's delight—He has declared Him. Therefore I do know Him. It is the answer to the difficulty, that no man ever saw God. Christ has made him known to me. Here, in the epistle, it is, “no man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” That which is revealed in Christ is brought directly into our own hearts, because the Holy Ghost is in us. When Christ was in the world, it was the Son casting out devils and doing mighty works. And yet He said, “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” Now, by the Spirit, He says, “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” He makes God dwelling in us the answer here to not seeing God—as Christ being in the world was then the answer to not seeing God. Having washed us in the blood of the Lamb, He comes and. dwells in us. We have a knowledge of God in that way. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” It is not merely that the nature is there, but God is there. “Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” This is the way we have the consciousness that we dwell in God, because, as God dwells in us, and He is infinite, we have the consciousness of dwelling in God. He is our home: we dwell in Him: He is our abode. It is the presence of the Holy Ghost that gives the consciousness of God's being there.
Still he turns back to objective truth. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” I have got God in me, and have the knowledge of that love. How did He prove it to me? By sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. The proof of it is that which has been done without me—not anything within me. A person might say, But I have not got that. Then I say, You have got nothing. If you say, That is too high for me: I cannot speak of God as dwelling in me; then I answer, You are not a Christian at all. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.” He does speak of the blessed consciousness of it as our portion, but then he declares that it is the truth as to every Christian; and therefore if I am not enjoying it, there is something that is hindering me. If we had the Queen in the house, and did not trouble ourselves about her, we should have no enjoyment of the honor and privilege of having such a guest. And we may be going on in such a way as to have no consciousness of God's being in us. It shows a habit of living without intercourse with the God who dwells in us. The Christian has a life from God, which lives with God. He says therefore, after having spoken of this, “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” That is the kind of character he gives of a Christian: “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us.” There is no uncertainty. “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God,” &c. It is the very nature of God.
Now he goes on. We have seen the love manifested when we were mere sinners, when we were guilty and dead. That was the starting point with us. We were spiritually dead: there was not a single movement in our hearts towards God. And then God loved us. But we had a natural life from Adam, and therefore were guilty: and then God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Then the next thing is, that we dwell in God and He in us: we have this blessed communion by His being in our hearts. Then be comes to the third thing in. the 17th verse. “Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world.” Now it is not merely that He has loved me when I was a sinner, and that I enjoy Him in communion, but that all fear for the future is taken away entirely. I get boldness for the day of judgment: that is a different thing. It is blessed love that Christ came into the world for such sinners as us. But then there is the day of judgment. When I think of the love, I am all happy; but when I think of the judgment, my conscience is not quite easy. Though the heart may have tasted the love, the conscience not being quite clear, when I think of judgment I am not quite happy. That is what is provided for here. “As he is, so are we in this world.” The love was shown in visiting us when we were sinners; it is enjoyed in communion; but it is completed in this, that I am in Christ, and that Christ must condemn Himself in the day of judgment, if he condemns me, because as He is, so am I in this world. I am glorified before I get there. He changes this vile body and makes it like to His glorious body. When I am before the judgment-seat, I am in this changed and glorified body: I am like my Judge. If He is my righteousness, as He is, that I am now; because it is Christ's work, and Christ's work is finished, and Christ is appearing in heaven for me. And thought I have exercises and trials of heart, yet, “As he is, so am I in this world.” There love is perfected. God Himself can do nothing more blessed than to make me like Christ in His presence. There is an end of judgment practically as an object of dread, because I am the same thing as my Judge. He judges by His own righteousness, and that is my righteousness: I am that. I am united to Him, and, in that sense, am the same as Himself. There love is made perfect, that I may have boldness in the day of judgment. There has love been shown, and it makes me miserable if my heart does not answer to it. I have not got boldness in the day of judgment. There is a judgment, and in order that love should be perfect in our hearts, there must be no dread of judgment. In order to have all its perfectness, I must have boldness in the day of judgment, and that 1 have by being as Christ is. That is true now. It is not that we have got the glory yet; but it is true as having Him for my life, and being united to Him. Now he draws the conclusion at once. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” Fear is all gone. If I am dreading my Father, I cannot enjoy His love—there is torment in that. Love casts out fear. There is nothing to fear if God loves me perfectly, and does nothing but love me. That is what the Lord Jesus says: “I have declared thy name unto them and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them.” And so again He says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” The same peace that He had Himself He has given unto us. He was not dreading His Father. He had ineffable peace and delight. Well, “As he is, so are we in this world.” Then comes, as a consequence of knowing this love, “We love him, because he first loved us.” That is the fruit and consequence in our hearts. All this love which He has shown to us, has been in us and is perfected with us. “We love him because he first loved us.” The heart turns back in thankfulness and love to him.
But now, as through this epistle, the apostle brings a kind of counter-test. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” If his image in the saints does not draw out any affections, you do not really love Him. You may say you do, but it is not true. We find running all through the epistle, this kind of counter-tests. Another remarkable thing we see here. Even love itself does not get out of the place of dependence in its exercise, “And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” However blessed may be the workings of the divine nature in us, it is always in the shape of obedience. That was true even of Christ. Speaking of His own death, where His perfectness was brought out fully, he says, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment even so I do.” It was still the commandment, as well as love. So love makes us serve and love the brethren, and yet it is obedience. Whatever is not obedience is not Christ. It is not a commandment against our nature, because we delight in doing what God commands. Still it is obedience, although it is the obedience of a joyful nature that has pleasure in obeying; and that, through God's dwelling in us and revealing Himself in that very way, in this nature, in our souls.
It brings the position of the Christian to a wonderful point: his actual condition in the way of connection with God. It is not merely that the Holy Ghost dwells in us in the way of power, (that would be a proof of the holy Ghost's, i. e. of God's, being in us,) but it would not prove that we are in God.
When we think what kind of enjoyment and privileges we have here, what foolish creatures we are not to realize God more and to enjoy Him! “The diligent soul,” it is said, “shall be made fat.”

Notes on 1 John 5

There is a kind of summing up in this chapter of who these are: not what they are, but who they are, and what that is in which they have part. It was loving the brethren, for instance, we were seeing in a previous chapter. Now comes the inquiry, who is my neighbor, and who is my brother? “whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone that loveth Him that begat, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.” It is not now a spiritual or moral test to see whether the love is real, but we get those who are these children of God, and then “everyone that loveth Him that begat, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.” that is if it is really this divine love, I shall love those that are born of God. If it is for the parent's sake, I shall love all the children, and this is the way in which it is put here. But in the 2nd verse he gives a counter-proof that it is genuine. I know that I love God by loving the children of God; but I know that it is real loving them if I love God and keep His commandments. If I love them as his children, I shall love Himself. It runs all through this epistle, a kind of counter-check, which is of the greatest use. If it is the Holy Spirit, it is the spirit of truth too. I have thus the means of checking one thing by another. I might seem to be loving God's children very much, and it may be only a party feeling. But if I love God, I love all for his sake. Anything else may be merely a feeling of human nature. It is the bringing God in which brings all in. In 2 Peter it is said, “add to brotherly kindness charity.” by this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. If I love them as God's children, it is because I love Him that begat them. It takes them all in, but it always takes him in, and therefore it is a question of obedience. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous.” The great difficulty is the world. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” there is a nature we have received which belongs to a system which is not of the world at all. “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” “Ye are from beneath, I am from above.” This world, as a system, is of the devil—not of God at all. All that is in it, “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but is of the world.” The father is the head, and source, and blessedness of a great system to which the world is entirely opposed: and therefore when the Son came into the world, the world rejected him, and that has put the world, as a tested world, in perfect antagonism to the father. We always find that it is the flesh against the spirit, the world against the father, and the devil against the son. “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” It is truth which sanctifies. The difficulty is the world. We look on the things that are seen, and not on the things that are not seen, and therefore we are weak. The victory that overcomes the world is our faith. It is not merely a nature that is given to us, but as creatures we must have an object for this nature. I must have something, and therefore “who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” he is occupied with something. When I find that the one whom the world has spit upon and crucified is the Son of God, I say that is what the world is. And therefore when my faith really rests upon Jesus as this despised one, the son of God, I have done with the world: I overcome it as an enemy.
There we get the short account of these saints. They are born of God: they are a set of people that belong to Him as those that are alive; they live in another world that belongs to the Father. He then speaks of the spirit and power in which Christ came, that by which we are connected with this scene of blessedness that belongs to the Father. “This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.” This gets back to a most vital principle that we have had all through the epistle. If it had been by water only, John the Baptist came by water. The word of God being applied to man as a child of Adam, could not purify him. Christ coming into the world by that put man to the test; and man was God's enemy and, therefore, there was no mending him at all. It then became a question of redemption, of blood as well as water, and that life was in the Son; not in the first Adam, but in the second. “This is He that came by water and blood.” There is a cleansing; but this is the effect of redemption on the new life. It was out of a dead Christ that the cleansing came. A living Christ coming into the world presents Himself to man to see whether any link could be formed between God and man. But then was man finally condemned, and death comes in. It was always so. There is no life in us. “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” And that is the reason why He says you must eat the flesh and drink the blood. If you do not take him as a dead Christ, you have nothing, for that cleansing came out of a dead Christ. It is death to the old thing, and a new life entirely is brought in. Then there comes another blessed truth. We have a dead Christ, now alive for evermore; and then we have the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. But that is all as belonging to a new world. “There are three that bear witness on earth—the Spirit, the water, and the blood.” We have the cleansing, the Spirit bearing witness, and the water, the cleansing power; and the blood, the expiatory power; and these all agree in one. There is no cleansing of the old nature, but there is a new nature given. “God hath given us eternal Life, and this life is in his Son.” It is no mending of the old Adam, but it is a gift of the new. “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” There is no life belonging to the old man, it is a rejected thing, and there will not be two Adams in heaven. It is the Son, and those that have life in the Son. God began working out that in the fall, but the full truth of it was brought out when Christ was risen.
Then there is another point in connection with this here, and that is, the knowledge of it. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself,” because we have got Christ, through the Spirit of Christ in us. Therefore, I know that I have eternal life—that I am the child of God. We have got this blessed consciousness and comfort—the work has been wrought, the blood shed, and, besides that, I cry Abba, Father, through the Spirit that dwells in me. That is, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” He has got the thing: got Christ, in a word.
The fault of the unbeliever is not that he has not got that, but that he makes God a liar. God has given an adequate witness about His Son; and “he that believeth not God hath made him a liar.” And therefore a person rejecting the gospel is rejecting God's testimony about His Son. The witness was sufficient. We read of many who believed on His name. But they did not overcome the world, because there was no real faith. Jesus did not commit Himself to them.
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” It is of all importance to see that it is not a mending of the nature that we have already, but the giving to us one that we had not before, in receiving Christ as our life. And all the rest is accomplished. The Spirit is the Holy Ghost present in the world. The water came out of His side as well as the blood. Water cleanses what already exists. The water is the washing by the word—but not without the power of the Holy Ghost. It is the application of the word by the Holy Ghost. But besides that, the water gives the idea of the washing by the word; and therefore he says we are born of water and the Spirit.
One thing remains—the present confidence that we have with God. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” And then there comes every-day confidence. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.” We are really reconciled to God. It is not an uncertain condition with God, but we are at home with Him. We have confidence in Him. It is not merely the fact that we have been saved, but we have present confidence. “And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
Then there is another privilege we have—that of intercession for others. And now, too, we get just a hint at the dealings of God in the way of government with a man that is saved. “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin not unto death.” In the case of Ananias and Sapphira, that was a sin unto death. There is a constant dealing of God in government with his children, which, if the sin be not of that character as unto death, (it may go on to it,) it is a question of discipline. There is many a sickness that is a discipline of God in some shape or another—positive discipline, that if the heart were bowed to God about it, would be for good. Chastenings are not always for actual faults. In Job it is said, (chap. xxxiii. 18, 19,) “He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. he is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain” —and that we find from the seventeenth verse is for the purpose of hiding pride from man. Then in chap. xxxvi. the chastening is for positive faults. (Ver. 9.) “Then he showeth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.” There was a positive discipline of God. It is not merely here that there is this discipline, and that if there is a “messenger with him, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, that there he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down into the pit,” &c. But now, as a Christian, you are competent yourself to be a messenger. The Christian, having the title of intercession, and walking with God, he has this access to God, to be heard in whatever he asks. When, then, you see a brother sin, and come under the discipline of God, you go and be this messenger, one among a thousand, to him. It is a matter of discipline and chastening for sin; and if this intercession be used, he will be restored. It supposes a person walking with God to be able to be this interpreter.
“We know that whatsoever is born of God sinneth not.” The man is living after the flesh, if he is giving way to sin. The new nature sinneth not. If he sins at all, therefore, it must be because he is acting in the flesh. If we walk in the Spirit Satan has no power over us at all. “He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” He sums up all in these two verses. “The whole world lieth in wickedness,” and “we are of God.” We blink things that are so plain sometimes, in order to save a little bit of the world. But “we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.” God being revealed in Christ, and we being in Christ, we have got our place in a scene outside the world altogether.
We have here, too, a remarkable witness to the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. “We are in him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” It is an immense comfort; because, when I have found Christ, I have got God. I have found Him. I know Him. I know what He is to me. “He that hath the Son hath the Father also.”

Brief Thoughts on 1 Peter 1:1-9

SANCTIFICATION of the Spirit is spoken of before the “blood of sprinkling.” Israel in Egypt were taken and set apart (which is the same as sanctification) for God while they were in Egypt. This sanctification is spoken of in Jude's Epistle as the Father's work” sanctified by God the Father.” In Hebrews Jesus is spoken of as sanctifying— “That he might sanctify the people with his own blood.” Here, in Peter, it is spoken of as the Spirit's work. The setting apart to God is a different thing from having forgiveness, and it is the accomplishing of God's purposes, though not the purposes themselves. The prodigal (Luke 15.) turned back in the far country, and then he was set apart for God. There was a total and utter change, but not all the effect yet. When he began to return, his face was turned towards his father; while, when he went away, his back was towards him. So the soul set apart by God is livingly turned to God in power; it may be as the prodigal, in rags and want; but there is the turning of heart, and, like Paul who was converted on his way to Damascus, he is a new creature. The will is broken. There will be conflict afterward as the result, but the whole man is changed. It is not that there are not difficulties to be overcome, but the object before the mind is different. The soul is thus said to be “sanctified unto obedience.” It is not a question of being better or worse, but it is turning to God; and if it is sanctification to obedience, it is also to the “blood of sprinkling.” Now I have to learn the value of that blood. He has brought me under the sprinkling of blood, as Israel was by coming out of Egypt; and what was the sprinkling of blood then? It was the seal, while liable to the sentence of death, of the covenant which they were to obey. (Ezek. 24:6-8.) if they obeyed, they stood, but if not, the penalty of death was their portion. Is it so with us? No. We have disobeyed, but He (Jesus) has suffered for us, and we are sealed under the covenant brought in by Him for the disobedient. We are brought under the blood of sprinkling, whatever its efficacy is. Nothing has power against this title. Does my guilt rise up? or Satan come against me? All is gone, because of the value of His blood. I have, as the first thing, redemption through his God, perfect deliverance from all that was for my condemnation. I am, in my whole condition as a sinner, redeemed out of it forever. The covenants, we know, were sealed with blood. Abraham and Jeremiah killed a calf, and the blood was a witness to the covenant. This covenant differs from former ones, inasmuch as it is not binding as to guilt if we fail; on the contrary, it discharges us from guilt by the blood that was shed for it.
Another kind of purging is that of cleansing from defilement, so that by the blood we are not only acquitted of guilt, but made absolutely clean. “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” Another effect is, that it brings us into wonderful nearness of thought with God. The blood has been already spilled. Christ has done it and I see in it that He has taken the deepest interest in my soul, and given Himself, that I might be delivered. Was he all alone in it? As regards man, He was; but God the Father had to do with it. He spared not His own Son, and I our reconciled to God by His death. That is more than being merely turned, in will, to God. Where is my assurance of its efficacy? God himself having done it, who “hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead?” We have, then a dying Savior, but a living hope. We have life in Him, power in Him, through the Holy Ghost. The Second Adam, the Quickener, is He who went into death for our sins, but who came out of death, and is risen in the power of an endless life. This life then makes us pilgrims and strangers down here, and there is not a single object here for the Christian but to please God. With Jesus it was ever His delight to do His Father's will. “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me,” &c. This puts the heart to the test. Do you say what harm is there in this or that? Your flesh is after it, and that is the harm! Are you to live after the flesh? If the old man is working in you, that is the harm. We are “begotten unto a living hope,” &c., “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” —just the contrast of everything here. If the divine nature is in us, it has divine tastes suited to that to which it belongs. My heart's affections have found a home, where God has found His rest, in Christ.
Besides, it is “reserved in heaven.” No moth or rust can corrupt there, neither thief break through to steal. It is preserved by God, and “I know in whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I have,” &c. It is safe. Another thing is, we must wait for it; but we know it is well kept, if God keeps it. “Reserved....for you who are kept.” The inheritance is kept for you in heaven, and you are kept on earth waiting for it. He will keep you for the inheritance and the inheritance for you. It is then not a question of my perseverance but of God's faithfulness. Do any say, Oh! I shall never hold on to the end? But God has said, “Thou shall never perish.” Ah! but it may be said, there is all the power of Satan! Again, “None shall pluck them out of my Father's hand.” “I and my Father are one.” There is one common counsel between them. “Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed.” There is not something to be done, something not yet accomplished. No! it is done, and that is what could not be said when Christ was upon earth. But now He has passed through death, risen out of it, ascended to the right hand of God, where He is waiting until “his enemies be made his footstool.” It is ready to be revealed, and is only delayed while souls are being brought in for the completion of His body. That is matter of joy to wait for; though, in one sense, we should desire it were already completed, that His glory may be revealed. But there is rest to the heart in the consciousness that the salvation is ready, and that we are kept through faith. There is blessing in that, through exercise, because the flesh never has faith; and if a single worldly or careless thought comes in, faith is not in exercise, and the image of Jesus is dimmed in us. We do not live, except when and so far as faith is in exercise; for all that is of the flesh perishes. “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” Another blessed thing for us, is, that everything becomes matter of exercise. We must never do a thing we have not faith for. This makes us feel the need of having the affections “set on heavenly things.” “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” “Therein ye greatly rejoice,” &c. Are you greatly rejoicing in this salvation? “It shall be in you a well of living water” was the word. There are none so subject to inertia as the Christian who is halting between two opinions. If worldliness, love of ease, self in this or that form come in, who are so weak and wretched? We cannot find happiness in the world and be rejoicing in heavenly things. If the soul is occupied with this great salvation, it will rejoice in it. There will be heaviness through manifold temptations, but the valley of Baca will become a well, the rain filling the pools.
We now have the “earnest of the inheritance;” not the earnest of God's love, for that is fully our portion now, and not merely the earnest of it. The “trial of faith will be found unto praise,” &c., at the appearing of Jesus Christ. He has entered within and has His crown; and now at the thought of that, we can rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is “unspeakable” because it is himself, and “full of glory” because He is in the glory: and lest the fire which tries should cast the least cloud over the hope and the joy, it is said, “receiving the end of your faith.” I have received the salvation of my soul, and that is really the end of my faith, though I may have to go through trial to purge away the dross.
Is your face turned upward to God, and not as the beast's which goeth downward? or is your back towards God, as Adam turned when he had sinned and was ashamed?

2 Chronicles 20

Circumstances of outward trial and difficulty are what we have here. It is not a question of internal conflict, which is often really unbelief and the unjust power of the flesh. This is not the proper warfare of the Christian. Conflict in Scripture is the power of evil against us, because we are with God and know it. It is either the aggression of the saint in taking further possession of blessing and making advances for the Lord; or it is the violence of the enemy's assaults upon us, because we are on His side. But proper Christian conflict is never the mere experience of the working of sin within us, though the latter may have been painfully realized also. We have all of us been so much under the law that it is often with great difficulty we have recovered from its effects; it is apt constantly to come in.
Where we understand the ways of God more simply according to His mind and word, we have an immense show of Satan's force brought out to attack the people of God and drive them from their place of blessing. Thus, we find Israel here surrounded by enemies; but they were seeking the Lord, and the way in which He used these very circumstances for good was what chiefly pressed on my own mind, and leads use to say these few words. For we are entitled, because we know what God is, to be quite sure that there is never an assault of the devil upon us, but what, if our eye is towards the Lord, we shall be more blessed than we ever were. “Believe in the Lord your God.” Jehoshaphat says, “so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.” Blessing would come, through the goodness of God, even if there were not the quiet confidence which is due to him. But it is clear that as His children this is not what we desire. it should not be merely the Lord to make up for and cover our cowardice, We ought to desire to enjoy what God gives us for that purpose. This scene is intended to teach us a great, truth. When there is a mustering strong of the adversary, and we see no loophole of escape, nor any thought of how they are to be defeated, if our eye is only simple in the confidence of His love, we are entitled to go into what seems to be the battle with songs of joy. And this not merely like Israel after crossing the Red Sea, when their enemies were gone altogether, but we are privileged, even when we are about to begin the battle, to sing as if the victory were won. The battle that we have here is one of the few where they did not strike a blow. This is exceedingly sweet to have God so manifestly taking up our cause, that there is not the need for a single stroke on our part. It is a painful thing personally to have to wound any one, and it is a great mercy where God far more than answers the confidence He inspires, and the enemy is defeated without our fighting. God intends that the first taste should be that, of the trial; but that the best thought should be what is God for us. and what he feels about those who join in all their strength, to crush, if it were possible, the glory of the Lord in the poor one of His choice. May our hearts be towards Him! The valley through which we have sung before the battle, is the valley through which we shall return singing again, and enriched with more than we can carry.

A Word on 2 Corinthians 1

I do not pretend to say every Christian is practically in the state in which Paul was when he could say, “Death worketh in us, but life in you.” (Chap. 4) Paul held himself as dead; life only was acting in him—the life of Christ was unhindered in him—death as regards the world, and all that is in it; therefore Christ only was working in him. The Christian should hold himself as dead; so would the life of Christ be displayed in him. It is important our hearts should understand what practical Christianity is. It is not merely gracious effects produced in man as passing through the world as belonging to it. The Christian does not belong to it at all, no more than Jesus did. Jesus was not of the world. (John 17) All that is of the world is not of the Father. Was there ever the smallest link between His heart and the things of the world? We are brought into the same place of separation. Our wills must be broken, lusts judged, and then fullness of divine consolation is poured into the soul. Paul was a vessel into which the direct flow of comfort could be poured. Self must be crucified. He knew what relationship with the soul and God is; tribulations were only the occasion of bringing it out. He could thus “glory in tribulations;” he could “glory in infirmities,” &c. They only brought him into more direct communion with the blessed source of strength. We prove the blessedness of what God is, and thus it flows out to others.
Ver. 8. “For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, of our trouble, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” The occasion brings before him the distinct consciousness of what life and death is. There was no hope as to natural life. How does it find him? With the sentence of death in himself. If death finds a man where natural life has no place, they only want to take that which has already gone. Paul takes Christ's cross into his heart; he reckons himself dead; he holds himself as one living in Christ who had already died. He therefore trusts in Him who raiseth the dead. Here we get the expression of Christ in his soul. It is not merely one passing through the world with the wheels a little better oiled, but every link with the world must be broken.
The sinner has to do with God as a judge. Israel in Egypt was saved from God who was executing judgment: but when they had passed the Red Sea (type of death and resurrection) they get a place with God—the full salvation of God—Egypt done with totally and forever, because Egypt has nothing to do with God, nor God with Egypt. He has taken Christ once and forever out of this world, never to return, save when He comes to reign. When the world put Christ to death, the sentence of death was put on all that is in it; but we have complete deliverance out of it. Israel is brought to the other side of the Red Sea; Egypt is behind. They are brought out TO GOD, and so are we. Christ went down into death for me. In Him I come out the other side, as dead to the flesh and the world. I have got a new place where Christ is. I have left the place of sin by faith, and have got a place with Christ. I am “accepted in the Beloved.” If a Christian, I am not alive in the world. Where have I got my life from? Christ in heaven. That is not the world. The first Adam was turned out of God's paradise. God did not create the world as it is. God created paradise; and this world has grown up to what it is now, sin having come in. God has taken the Second Man into heaven, in virtue of the work done for me. As a sinner, my place is in the world; as an accepted one, my place is in heaven. Have you got into the place to be able to say with Paul, “when we were in the flesh?” (Rom. 7) In chapter 8 we read, “Ye are not in the flesh if so be,” &c. We are not alive in the world; we are in Christ. If I speak to a sinner, I say, There is salvation for the vilest. To the believer I say, You are in Christ before God. It is Christ and nothing else. To realize this practically, you must hold yourself dead: death must be applied to everything down here. Then we get the inflowing of all that belongs to the new life. If links with the world are broken, we have the consolations of Christ abounding, the blessed inflowing of divine favor as it rested on Christ Himself.
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8, 9.) The poor vessel may be troubled, but not in despair, for God is there. It may be persecuted, but not forsaken, for God is there.
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” Here we get something more. In the death of Christ, was there one link with the world left? Not one. He looked for pity—there was none. He might have looked for justice; but the judge washes his hands and gives Him up. The priests cry, “Away with him,” &c. His very garments were taken from Him. He stands alone, deserted, and cries out, “I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” Was there, I ask, a single link with the world left? Not one. There was no one ingredient wanting in the death of Christ to make His cup bitter. And Paul could say, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” &c. There should be no more link between me and the world, than there was in the cross of Christ. In verse 11 we see God passes Him through circumstances which keep this alive in him. Then are things and circumstances which God uses to write the cross upon our will and nature.
Death must be written upon all, that Christ only may be seen. How wonderful to be permitted to walk through the world, and be the epistle of Christ! We are called to manifest the character, ways, spirit, and temper of the Blessed One who is perfect. If self is not crucified, it cannot be so. I am put before God in all the perfectness of Christ Himself and Christ, in all His perfectness, is put before me. Do you shrink from this? I do not ask, Do you realize it? Paul could say, “Not as though I had already attained,” &c. But how often is the language of the heart, Spare a little nature, it cannot all be crucified! as much as though it were said, Do not let me have all Christ. How then can we know the power of joy, if we are thus making terms (I do not say we should own to this, but do not our ways speak thus?) with God, not to have Christ out and out If I cannot say, “To me to live is Christ,” as my object, my eye is not single. Paul could say, “This one thing I do,” &c. He had no other object; he reckoned all else dung and dross. It did not cost him much to give up dung and dross. If Christ has such a place in our hearts, the rest is easy, though such a life passes us through exercises and trials. If we reckon ourselves dead and risen, we get a free, open channel between us and heaven for divine consolation to flow. As a child of God, my place is in Christ, and there is no end to my blessing. The cross has settled my place in Adam. Will you be before God in the day of judgment to answer for what you have done? or have you believed the fact that Christ has come into this world, and taken the whole question up for you, and set you before God in virtue of what He has done, instead of what you have done? He disciplines us that we may be emptied of self, and find everything in Christ, and Christ everything to us. But He begins the lesson with the assurance, I love you perfectly. I bring you into the desert to learn what I am, and what you are; but it is as those I have brought to myself! He gives us a place with Christ, but then shows us what Christ is and what we are. The discipline of the way teaches this; but if He, in His love, strikes the furrows in the heart, it is that He may sow the seed which shall ripen in glory. Are you content to be in the wilderness with nothing but the manna? or are you saying, We see nothing but this light food? If we want it for our journey, we shall find it every morning, and find it enough; but if we want to settle down, it will never satisfy us. Are you content to have the flesh crucified? Have you so tasted the love of a dying Jesus, and the glory of a risen Jesus, as to wish for nothing else? He creates a void in order to fill it. May the Lord give the distinct consciousness that we are redeemed out of the place of sin and condemnation, and that we have got a place with God! That is peace; then we shall have the joy of communion. We are as white as snow— “accepted in the Beloved.” “We shall be like him.” It is perfect love. I know that love, though I cannot measure it. I cannot measure eternity, but I am sure I shall never come to the end of it; yet I know there is eternity: so with God's perfect love. We learn and prove this love in the wilderness, in a way we never can in heaven: our very need brings it out to us. This world is a terrible house to live in, but an excellent school to learn in.

Notes on 2 John

What specially characterizes the epistle, is the connection of the truth with the manifestation of love. Both the second and third epistles are occupied with the receiving of those who are going about preaching. The third epistle commends those who went forth for Christ's sake, to the love of the faithful, who in receiving such, became fellow-helpers to the truth. Here he warns this lady against receiving certain persons that did not bring the truth. He had pressed extremely the walking in love in the first epistle. And so here too he says, “I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.” Then he takes these two guards of true charity: one is the truth and the other is obedience, just what Christ was when He was in the world. He was love come into the world, the witness and testimony of love, and He was the truth, and he was the obedient man. His love to his father was shown in his obeying him in all things. He was the truth in showing out everything just as it was. Besides, he came down to do the will of him who sent him. John takes up these three great principles here. Love—divine charity—is insisted on, but it is always the truth, because it is Christ; and if it is not in the truth, it is denying Christ: it is saying, there can be love in nature. The third thing is this obedience to the commandments of Christ. Such is the business of a Christian obeying Christ, with truth in the heart, and love as the spring of all. And that is just Christ. You cannot separate them. The flesh may put on the appearance of a thing: it may put on a great show of love; but if it is not truth and obedience, it is not Christ. Here it is a question of conscience with anyone. It is not an ecclesiastical question, but of a woman if so called on. It is a matter of personal conscience with every saint, the question of the individual receiving Christ in his members and of refusing whatsoever denies Christ. And this is the means of judging of it: “for the, truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever.” The apostle loved the lady and her children, but it was for the truth's sake. Where there was not that, there could be no divine love. In the next verse, again, we have “from the Lord Jesus Christ, the son of the father, in truth and lore.” “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the father.” Now he brings in the obedience; it is a commandment from the father. He will have the son honored, even as himself.
“And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.” Just as Christ walked after the commandments of God because He loved Him. As He said, “That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do” (John 14:31.) So it is with those that follow Him. “This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
Then he adds, “Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” If this divine love came down in a man, and they denied that Christ came as a man, it could not be a holy man come to the flesh. That could not be said of a mere human being. If a man say, I am come in the flesh, I should ask, What else could you come in? That is what you are; you are a mere man. But whosoever shall “confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, this is a deceiver and an antichrist.” Perfect man, He is infinitely more.
“Look to yourselves.” If they had all departed away, his work would have been burnt with fire. And therefore he says, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” The reward of labor in that sense is for the work that he has done in the souls of others. As it is said of the Lord Jesus, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied;” so we in our little measure receive it.
Now we have a little more. After having spoken about these deceivers, he adds, “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” If you have not got the true Christ, you have not God at all. That is the first great broad principle. All through John, when he is speaking of relationship, it is the Son; but if of nature, it is God, not the Father. In John 8 it is God; and Jesus takes that place— “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
There may be the rejection of the truth, and then I have not God in any way; I am outside the whole scene in which this grace is displayed: I have not the doctrine of Christ, i.e., the truth as to Christ; I have not got God at all. “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” He gets the whole unfolding of this unspeakable grace. It is the perfect revelation of God in its own blessedness within itself, not outside, but you have God inside; and you have got here all blessedness, in which the Father loves the Son and has given the Son for us; you have got both the Father and the Son. “Truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” ... “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we he and do not the truth.” He has not communion with God, because God's nature is light. You have, first, the great fact of not having God at all; a man is absolutely without God if he has not Christ. Then, secondly, when he unfolds the truth, it is the Father and the Son. He urges decision upon these saints. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” To do so would be encouraging and helping him; it is to tamper with my own conscience, because I am allowing something to be Christ which is a false one, and the deepest dishonor to God. If I show this appearance of love where the truth is not, it is not Christ at all; it is denying Him, and saying that what is false is as good as what is true. It is helping the antichrist as much as the Christ, or rather more. “He that biddeth him God speed,” (i.e., literally salutes him going away,) “is partaker of his evil deeds.” It was a sign of recognition and companionship.
“Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.” I get there another thing, that is, the kind of affection which should reign among the saints. It was not a sort of mere abstract love; but there was gladness in seeing them, real comfort in it, and rejoicing to see them doing well. The Holy Spirit always encourages this activity of love, however strong He may be for the truth. Christ has come into the world: the one point round which souls can rally and find God in grace. When anything unsettles that there is no resource at all. If Satan cannot do anything by persecution, he tries to unsettle souls about the truth in Christ. He is a roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour; that is persecution. But he is not always a roaring lion. When he comes in as a serpent (that is, when he steals along, and does not roar at all,) it is a great deal more dangerous. A person is tried by his violence and rage, but it is far more serious when we have to withstand the wiles of the devil. Still, wherever Christ is held to simply, all is simple. Here it is the case of a lady. It is personal faith that clings to Christ for His own sake. The person may not be wise enough to set the world right, but there is something that faith clings to. I must have Christ. The secret of all is the individual personal faith that holds fast to Christ and His truth. It is a wonderful mercy to have that which is a test of everything, and a proof of Christ's love. To have a clear and distinct object that carries me through, according to God's mind, that is what Christ walked in; and if we hold fast to Christ, it is always true.

2 Peter 1

WE were seeing a little lately into the place of the glorified Man in heaven, and of those associated with Him in living union.
We then entered into the heavenly position of the saints, but in all this Epistle the subject, is not touched. Saints are looked at as saved ones, of course; but the subject is the difficulties that accompany their condition, with the hope of being in the glory.
Peter takes up the saints as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, God Himself being their governor, yet not displaying His government as among the Jews.
Still He is watching over them and caring for them. “Every hair of their head is numbered.” Nothing is allowed really to harm them, although they may have to suffer; and “if for righteousness' sake, happy are ye.” Thus it is not only as saved ones that saints are looked at here, but as under God as their governor: His ways towards His children are brought out. Peter does just hint that there is something beyond, for those set in association with Christ: but the main thing is divine, moral government. In the close of this Epistle we find the end of all things glanced at, when the heavens shall be dissolved and the elements melt with fervent heat,” the whole scene closed, and the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness looked for.
But what the Apostle is occupied with, is the thought of God governing His children, in the midst of this world's system, a system of evil, without a proof in it that He is the governor. When Jesus came, the thought of many a heart was, that He would reign in righteousness, knowing that God would nut clear the guilty nor let the wicked go unpunished. Israel was set up as a present scene of God's government; but, instead of peace reigning, Christ was called to suffer. The only righteous man, the alone One, who could have met the claims of justice was condemned by injustice on the one side and by righteousness on the other. Righteousness and peace had not kissed each other, but the contrary. It was doing well and suffering for it. And this aspect—the one in which Christ was seen on earth—is what we see Christians contemplated in here. They are looked at, in a double character, as suffering. It may be for righteousness or conscience' sake, or for Christ's sake in other ways. Sufferings may come upon us through our ordinary occupations, the daily routine of business, or the actings of every-day life. The Christian cannot, do as the world does. It is more consequence to me as a believer to live Christ than all else besides. The Christian cannot resist evil, nor assert his rights, nor maintain his place in the world. It is more important to me to keep clothed in Christ's character than to wear any other mantle. The Lord Jesus does allow His saints to suffer. Their portion is in heaven. Suffering is good for them. Their salvation is perfectly accomplished. They are united to Christ. Is their suffering essential to salvation? No, salvation is Christ's work and outside the acts of the Holy Ghost altogether, who convicts of sin and bears witness of God's righteousness. The Holy Ghost afterward operates on the new nature—the Christ within; and practically exhibiting Him, will bring on suffering. “For me to live is Christ.” Not only do I desire to be in the place where He is, as Zebedee's children did, but to live out what He is. All the exercises of my heart, all my desire for God's government to be displayed in power, give way to the longings for the affections of Christ. And now He is in heaven, my one aim should be to manifest Him. So in 1 Peter 2., “This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience' sake,” &c. It is not the spirit of love yet. Again in chap. 3:10-14 the great principle is brought out. In chap. 4:12-17 we are not to think it strange if we have reproach and sufferings for Christ's sake, but to be glad with exceeding joy. Of course none of us should suffer as evil doers. God will govern His children. Judgment must begin at the house of God. He will have His house clear. Indeed, strictly speaking, it is the only place God judges in; for He has committed all judgment to the Son. If the righteous arc scarcely—i.e., with difficulty—saved, (it was with difficulty, but Christ overcame it,) God never gives up what He is. He is the Holy Father, and, when He saves sinners in sovereign grace, He makes them what He is. He will maintain His character. I may deserve chastisement and God may meet me in grace; but He will deliver me from my sin. He cannot allow evil, neither could Christ. He ever dealt with men according to their ways and the truth of their condition, while meeting them constantly in grace. It is true He could say, I am your perfect salvation, but it was on the ground of total ruin as the sinner's part.
The heart of God would give us everything: and the title to all is—we are in Christ, and He is in us. You cannot say you have done a single thing perfectly, if there remains any part to be done. Salvation is fully wrought. It would be imperfect if there was one thing to be added. Christ keeps nothing back. He came to reveal the Father, and the Father He did reveal. “I have declared unto them thy name.” “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them.” “I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” Language is exhausted in trying to maintain us in the place we are called to. We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the risen Christ. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ. We are sharers with Him in all His honor and glory, save that which is peculiar to His Godhead, while He always has the pre-eminence.
God truly loves us. Not a sinner is saved, but therein the ways and dealings of God are displayed. In John 15. the Christian is taken up as a branch in the vine. The word is, “Abide in me.” It is not, I abide in you that you may bring forth fruit; but, “If ye abide in me.” He does always abide in us—that we know. But if I abide in Christ, I have the present enjoyment of the Father's love, and bring forth fruit to the glory of His name. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” He does not say He will be our friend—that He ever was; but “Ye are my friends.” Now, my dealing with my friend is after an entirely different order to what it is with my servant. I go and tell out my heart to my friend. Abraham was called “the friend of God;” and God says, “Shall I keep back from Abraham the thing I am going do?” He tells and acts out His heart before His friend. This was what Christ did. In everything His end was to tell out the Father to those He called friends.
All Christians have their sins forgiven them. There is no uncertainty about that. The grace of God has brought salvation. The Father sent the Son. To be saved and to be a Christian is the same thing. Some will say, I know all men are called Christians; but am I a REAL Christian? (See Acts 13:38, 39.) Exercises of heart in that state never get beyond the desire to know if I am a Christian. I believe, one says, that God sent His Son to save sinners; but I do not know that I am saved. What nonsense it is! “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life.” Now all such exercises of heart, though they may be well enough in their way, will only prove just this—that I have nothing whatever to stand upon. If I have conflict, that shows there is evil, and evil cannot stand before the holiness of God. Where, then, is my hope? “Christ is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” There is nothing God does not do for me. The very thing that brings me into His presence without sin and without fear, is that which He has done for me in Christ. In 1 John 2, we have three classes of Christians addressed. “The little children” of ver. 12, and 13, are quite distinct. The former (ver. 12,) embraces all Christians—the latter only babes, or young, immature saints. All Christians are forgiven—all needed the blood of Christ. The babes rest on it as much as the fathers. It is not what they think of it, that is the comfort, but what God's thoughts are about it. It is through the blood of Jesus Christ his Son I get to the Father. And what is the Father—what is God? He is perfect love. I see Him at the well of Samaria—taking up children—weeping at the grave of Lazarus. In Him there is no evil—no hatred; never rejecting him who comes—never condemning the self-condemned— “I judge no man.” The Father was perfectly displayed in the Son. How can I make known to you what my Father is but by telling you what I have known Him to be—by living Him before you? This was what Christ ever did; and it is what we who have the Spirit of adoption should be doing.
In John 8:19 we hear Christ say, “If ye had known me, ye should have known the Father also.” He came not only to bring light, but “the light of life.” If He heals the sick, or restores sight to the blind, the moment He touches them, there is light and life shown in grace. If He is the Good Shepherd, He is the first out. He goes before the sheep. John 10:4. He not only shows us God as the tight, but He unfolds the Father. The babes in Christ have these two things—the new nature and the Spirit of adoption. So have the young men, and it is only in the energy of this Spirit they can overcome the world. When the fathers are addressed, it is “because you have known Him, who was front the beginning,” and that is all he has got to say. It is not their experience he has to speak of, but Christ. He is the object, and He is the title to all blessing. If my failures grieve me, (and they ought,) my comfort is that Christ is not touched. Even a revelation does not fit us for conflict. This we see in Peter. When he had a revelation from the Father and the very truth or confession Christ was about to build His church on, in the self-same chapter he is treated as Satan! The flesh in Peter was not broken. The object before him was not Christ; he was not practically occupied with Him. If I come to Christ, I rest upon the love and power of One who has overcome. He has been tempted and knows how to comfort. I may have to suffer—He had. The Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings. Our ways, too, may cause God to deal with us now, (1 Peter 1:17,) for holiness the holy God must have. But if we are walking with the Lord He will only bless. Suffering for Christ's sake is a position of honor and favor. (Phil. 1:29.) God cannot ever brook evil in His house. The ark and Dagon cannot dwell together. God will vindicate Himself. If there is an Achan in the camp, it must be known. No matter how bad things are around, God is still God. Compare the days of Solomon with those of Elijah. Was Solomon more to God than Elijah? No. The ark was once in the land of the Philistines, but God will not give up what He is, neither will He give up the objects of His love. If we do evil, His grace may meet us; but His love must deliver us from evil. If we are walking with Him, either as an assembly or as individuals. He will only communicate His love. The Father will discipline his children; if needs be, He will chasten them; but come what will, Christ is not touched.
In the chapter before us, the first thing we see, is that those who have obtained like precious faith have all things that pertain to life and godliness, and are called to glory and virtue. It is too often the case, that the conflict takes place when Christ has not power in the soul; then we are overcome, for all power is in Him. Therefore, the need of giving all diligence; “add to your faith,” &c. Whilst we are practically exercising these graces, we shall never fall. There will be no room for the flesh, but “there shall be ministered unto you an abundant entrance.” We shall have the kingdom of our Lord in power in our souls. The third thing we have in this chapter, is that Peter had seen the glory and could say he was an eyewitness of His majesty. But did this save him in the hour of temptation? No. He had been sleeping instead of watching, and so lost all power of escape. In verse 19 we find a sure word of prophecy, a lamp shining in a dark place until daylight dawn. Mark this. The lamp of prophecy shows the children what is coming on the world—the judgment of the quick, &c. And surely in this our day we see these two things, (though so contrary the one to the other,) men's hearts failing them for fear, and yet saying peace and safety. This is an important testimony, to which we do well to take heed. The loving Father has told us of a coming kingdom. Then will shine the broad day, which the world shall see; but the dawn is for those who, through the darkness of the night, are watching. The daystar here is for the saint's heart, not for the earth.
In Rev. 2:26, not only is there a promise to the saint of power over the nations, but “I will give him the morning star.” Blessed portion with Christ! Yes, those who have believed on Him who is not seen shall be with Him where He is not seen. I will give him the morning star—a portion with Myself, and in Myself. I will give him Myself above, before I am manifested to the world. So in Rev. 22:16, Christ, is the bride's object; and the moment He says, I am the bright and morning star, she, directed by the Spirit, says Come. “And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” The Bride is not the water of life, but she has it, and can say come. It is in Christ for the poorest sinner.

Notes on 3 John

We have here the same great principle in general that we saw in the second epistle—that is, loving the truth. Only, there, John was warning against any one that transgressed the doctrine of Christ, and here he is rather encouraging gracious ways and liberality towards those that were going about with the truth
There is here the kindness that works among Christians. He desires that Gaius might prosper and be in health, even as his soul prospered. This Gaius received the brethren that went about preaching the word, and Diotrephes was jealous of them. He not only refused to receive the brethren himself, but hindered those that would. There was resistance to the free witness to God rendered by these persons going about. “Because that for His name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.” They went out freely, trusting the Lord, and Diotrephes would not have such things. So he not only would not receive them himself, but if other people did he forbade them, and cast them out of the church. The Apostle writes to strengthen Gains in the spirit of hearty welcome in receiving them.
With Diotrephes it was love of prominence, a fleshly desire in him, and that even rose so high, that he was speaking against the Apostle. Still, the main point that the apostle dwells on, in writing to Gaius, is that he was in the truth. It is remarkable in John, that, while he speaks of love, he always guards it in the most definite way by what he calls “the truth.” Real charity is God Himself. He is love, and wherever love is real, it must be guarded by the truth as it is in Jesus, or it is not of God. Therefore, before he commends Gains for his love and hospitality to the brethren, he says, “I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.” That is the first thing he dwells upon, before he even speaks of what he does to the brethren and to strangers.
“Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren and to strangers, which have borne witness of thy charity before the church; whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well; because that for His name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.” Gains was evidently a gracious man, hospitable to these strangers. “We ought therefore to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth.” It is a remarkable expression— “the truth.” “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” Christ is the truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Whatever was not Christ was nature, and that was not the truth, and you never could be able otherwise to discern good and evil. Christ is “the truth.” If we speak of the truth, we mean that it is a person speaking exactly what is true about anything. Christ tells us the truth about God. Satan takes very fair forms, as, in the case with Peter, when he said, in reference to the sufferings of Christ, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” But Christ says, “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offense unto me,” &c. He told the truth about that. It looked a very fair, gracious speech; but it was really denying all that he had to do, and Christ tells the truth about it. And so about man. Who would have suspected that man could have done such things as he did when Christ was here? There you get the truth about man; all his evil was brought out; it was not fully detected till Christ came. So, too, I do not know what sin is till I see it in the cross of Christ. And just the same about righteousness. Christ is the truth. Whether it is God, or man, or Satan, or righteousness, or sin, the truth about everything is in Christ; and if we have Christ, we have the truth. When we have got to discern our way in the mdist of good and evil, we do not know the truth unless we have got Christ. The truth is in Him: it is not in me. The moment that I have Christ, and that I judge according to His feelings and thoughts, I am able to say that is sin. It may take a very fair form—perhaps the loving your father or mother; but still the truth detects everything. God has shown Himself to be love, rising above all evil; but still it is always “the truth.” if He rises above the sin, He shows also what the sin is. It is of immense importance to hold fast Christ, else we do not know what the truth is. Satan is the father of lies, and no lie is of the truth. With the apostle, we see that it was his joy to get this truth sharper than any two-edged sword, sparing nothing in himself. It was his joy to see his children walking in the truth. Then, when the truth is settled, the outflow of love is beautiful. “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the church.” There you find the love coming out beautifully. The moment it is settled in Christ as the truth, so that our own heart is judged, then God is free to act. The moment I have got the truth—Christ, then, freed from self, this divine love begins to act in its right channel. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” God has a peculiar love to His Own, but He is gracious and kind towards even the very sparrows—makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
“Whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well.” They were these preachers going about. “Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.” They were casting themselves upon God.
“Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself.” John looks at “the truth” as a thing standing in the world, and going through a great service in conflict. Demetrius is witnessed to by the truth: the gospel itself bore him witness. The gospel or truth is personified. If a man is hated for the truth's sake, we say that it is the truth that is hated. The gospel is love in the truth, and this working in the world. That is the substance of this Epistle. First, the truth; then, the working of love and grace, which becomes a fellow-helper to the truth. Then he says that there were these persons coming into the Church, who were setting up to have a high place in it. They did not even receive the Apostle. But that did not take away the Apostle's power. “Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth.”
“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God; but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” We have seen the truth first, and then grace to the brethren and to others in general. If you do good, you are of God. It is not the question of mere evil; but “he that doeth good is of God.” It is the active service of love. God does not do evil—that is clear; but He does good. “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself; yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.” Demetrius was one of those that was going about in this way that Diotrephes would not have, and one that the Apostle encourages Gaius to receive. It is an interesting thing to see not merely great doctrines in Scripture, bat all the interior of what was at work even then. We are apt to see things upon stilts. Things were going on then just as they are now. There were some going about preaching the truth, and some did not like to receive them. We see thus the interior of Christianity going on, whereas we generally think it was something extraordinary; instead of being just the same struggling with good and evil, in principle the same kind of thing that is going on now. The Apostle was left to watch over the declension of the Church, and to give us the warnings that were needed all through.
It is a wonderful thing to know that “the truth” has come into the world. It is not merely that certain things are true, but the truth itself has come. I have got that which is God's own truth, in the midst of men's thoughts and confusions. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” We have seen here these two things: the truth which has come and tested everything, and then grace towards the brethren and towards strangers, according to this truth. It is a great thing to have what links us up with Christ, that is to rest forever. This world is all passing away, and man's breath goes forth. “He returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” But we have the truth in the midst of it all. The word of our God abides forever. Holding peacefully fast by that, we have got, by grace, what we know is everlasting. Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life.”


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All of One

All of One.” (Heb. 2.) Christ, and those set apart for God by the Spirit, are all one company, in the same position before God. It is not one and the same Father: else it could not be said, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren;” for He could not then do otherwise. Neither is the meaning exactly that He and others were of the same nature as mere children of Adam. It is only the sanctified, the children whom God has given Him, that He calls His brethren: if it were simply a question of humanity, He shares it, of course, with all mankind, though not in the same state as any other, whether saint or sinner. Still, he and the sanctified are all in the same human nature, as it is before God—a position taken in resurrection. Then only (Psa. 22) Did he so speak of them fully and properly. (John 20.)
Irvingite doctrine is the error of identifying Christ with men, as such—with sinful humanity, and not with the sanctified.

Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

(Job 1; 2)
THE chief thought upon my mind in reading this portion of the word of God, was a simple but, at the same time, a comforting one. It is this:—That even where Satan is working with the children of God, it is God Himself that prompts the trial, and not Satan. It is God who takes the initiative, in praising His servant. It is not Job that is found out by Satan, but God speaks of Job to Satan. In other words, the first person who acts, who even sets the trial agoing, is God Himself. Now, at all times, whether before the Lord Jesus came or since, there is one grand truth that lies at the bottom of all divine doings or revelations—that God is supreme— “God over all, blessed forever.” He is “the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.” He may allow heaven itself to be, in a certain sense, defiled by the presence of a rebel, one that has already been dishonored there, and that is about to be judged there by and by. For it is said, the kings of the earth shall be dealt with on earth, but “the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones on high.” The scene of their great sin against God is to see their retribution.
But although the earth itself is a platform for iniquity of every description, yet still there are those upon it that are very near to God; whom He loves; whom He turns, even from heaven itself, to look upon. Not that there may not be many things to correct in them: God was going to chasten His servant Job at this very time. But that does not hinder the feeling and expression of His delight in him. Just so a parent regards his child, and speaks of him with love and complacency. It may appear to the eyes of others that there is blindness to the faults of the child: but it is a parent's love, and those that understand it can appreciate it. Such, but in a far higher sense, is the love that God has to His beloved children upon the earth.
It was in this consciousness of being above all evil that God speaks to Satan about His servant Job. He knew what that enemy was, and what he was especially towards man. And He knew that if any were more obnoxious to him than others, it was those men that were called by grace to be saints of God. But God, knowing His power and love to be above all the evil that Satan can do, actually makes use of Satan for the good of His own children. And this is the marvelous story that is so fully developed throughout the Book of Job. We know that the end of it is the full blessing of Job, and through him even of his friends, when the battle has been fought and the victory won. But the precious thing that meets us at the very beginning of the Book is, that it is God that begins the trial. Satan may be the instrument of it, but there is always God above and before Satan. In man's ways mischief first comes in, and then a remedy is provided. But that is not the way of God. Redemption is not merely a remedy for the evil that Satan and man have brought upon the earth; it was always in the mind and in the heart of God. It was not a mere remedy wrought in to meet the evil. But it was the triumph of God; the full manifestation of what He is as rising above all evil. For God Himself would not have been known as He is but for redemption. Therein He is not merely looking at man or the devil, but He must have an opportunity for showing out This love. He must make known His power, wisdom, and love in meeting evil, in using even the chief of evil, as a means of greater good to His children than if there had not been such an one at all. What man does is to deny the evil, to make light of it, and so despise God; or he makes him in some way or another to be the cause of it, and so hates God. But what a joy is it for us to see God as He is, always above it all.
You will find these two thoughts throughout the word of God, two great ways in which God displays Himself. First, there is His grace that delivers, that forgives and brings near to Himself. But, besides that, there is another great object in the Bible—the government of God; His government of the world once, and His government of souls now. For they are two things, quite distinct in their nature—the grace and the righteous government of God. But it is well to remember this, that whatever may be the form His government takes, it is grace that sets the government agoing, where His own children are concerned. It is true, that the Father “without respect of persons judgeth,” but still it is “the Pallier.” So here; it is God Himself that, at the very start shows how near Job was to His heart. He challenges Satan to consider His servant Job, and see whether there was any like him on the earth. The enemy comes and insinuates that it is not for nothing that Job serves allowed to try him; he is brought into another kind of tribulation. But the end of it was, if we may so say, that he gets the crown of life. He is upon his face before the Lord, praising His name. If he had known before the blessedness of the Lord's giving, he now learned the blessedness of His taking away.
Then comes another trial; and now it is his person that is touched, a much harder thing than when it was merely his circumstances. This the enemy knew, and he accordingly says, “Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” The Lord permits Satan to do his worst with the person of Job, only reserving his life. Still, not only did Job not fall, but, though his wife is a part of the trial, in all things we find him shining out increasingly. And it is not until Satan has done with Job that the Lord comes in and puts His finger upon the point that needed His dealing with, through Job's friends.
Think of where we now are. It is not only that we can reason from what God is as supreme above Satan, but we have to do with Satan as an enemy that has been overcome in the cross, and resurrection, and ascension of Christ. It is not only that we know that God must be above Satan, but we have seen how He is so for us. Satan was at the cross, God was there, too, and the Lord Jesus Christ was smitten. And there that Blessed One, falling under the whole power of the enemy, overcomes him and rises alive again for evermore with the keys of death and hides. “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.” The Lord has won the victory, and we have this heavenly and new fruit for our souls to feed upon.
Whenever we can see “Satan” in anything, whenever we can discern the power of evil, and judge it as evil, it is powerless as far as we are concerned. It is his wiles, his deceits, that we have to dread. But the comfort is, that let all the power that Satan wields be put forth, touching our circumstances or in any way nearer still, in all the confusion that he may introduce, we owe it to the Lord to cherish simple peace in Him, and the certainty that He will appear, that He works, that Satan will be defeated, nay, that the very trial itself is for the safety and bringing out of greater blessing for those that are looking to Himself.

"Before Abraham Was, I Am."

The Jews were immersed, not in the truth of their system, but in the mere ignorance of acting on present appearances. This is a deep, essential principle (-.): error, which one has to watch—not seeing God and things according to His mind, (which was exactly in question,) but the mind of man in the things of God. Hence precisely the present state of the Church. It was the grand question between Jesus and the Jews, the point in which Jesus has to be recognized, and in which faithfulness to Him rests as in Him to His Father, quoad hoc. The Jews, therefore, said to Him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” They thought the sense of this the same, because they looked not beyond the outside. But, on man's ground, the Jewish reasoning was generally correct. It was utterly, morally wrong, without conscience, therefore without God, and that which God alone could teach. They now brought it to the point of the mere manhood of Christ—the point of their darkness. Our Lord, as the truth, could but give the light. “Before Abraham was, (ye see not,) I am.” Ye know not my existence, my being. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” The great truth was told, the essential, vital, eternal truth, on which all hung, without which there could be no truth, nor coming unto man, nor bringing man back in redemption to God. For how could he be restored by that which was not? And this was true of everything save One. Should dust be a redeemer? Yet out of dust man was to be redeemed.
The great truth was declared. He there could be none against it. The necessity of the existence of the Savior assumed the nothingness of all else—could be, not falsified, but only denied by violence. They might say it was blasphemy, and take up stones in their zeal for God, rejecting Him manifested. Then took they up stones to cast at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” The time of their iniquity was not come: His time was not come. But what circumstances! and with whom discussed! and what a truth! Do we believe it? Do we, I say, believe it—that Jesus (a man even as we are, save sin) was “I am?” All is told, if we believe Him thus dead and alive again; for therein is the redemption, and through this must He pass. It is true, most simply true, the center—wondrous, wondrous to us—of all the manifestation of God, and rightly, in its glory, to chosen sinners; lovely in its blessing to all simmers; deep, therefore, necessarily, in its condemnation of blind, rejecting sinners. “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God manifest in the flesh, justified in tine spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world” —and yet, more wondrous still, “received up into glory.” Thus, as to the essential truth, He was “I am.” Then, as to the dispensation, the thing thus revealed, or rather discussed with the Jews, is the subject of John 8 The Lord is traced as the light of the world; as Son of man lifted up; all through as the Son in the power of life, in person as Son, up to this great revelation of “I am:” the real truth and fulfiller of all Jewish hopes, and the basis of common promises, and this as, and by, the word—the essential characteristic. I know of nothing that has so astonished my mind as this revelation of “I am,” or the real thought that Jesus could say, “I am;” the connection of these—to man—inconvertible possibilities, and the concatenation in which all the dealings of God are brought out as fulfilled in it, while yet He remains truly God; and yet could say therein, “the Son of man, who is in heaven.” How manifest it is, that nothing but the gift of faith could, even in a single tittle, understand or know the truth in the person of Jesus; while yet, by the perfection of its manifestation in the flesh, every soul was put under the responsibility to receive it as the true word of God, our God, in love. The broad, penetrating fact, “I am,” the all-embracing word, must at once close all controversy. We must be opposers or bow before the throne of God. We must stand in awe of Jesus. Well may it be said, “Kiss the Son!” Lord Jesus! what sort of subjection is this we owe to thee.? We have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now our eye seeth thee: we abhor ourselves. O! Can we see this in Jesus? Have we seen it? None can see it out of Him. It is the truth only in Him. Surely we should move mountains if we believed it: yet it is simple truth. Dwell on it, my soul! Jesus, that thou knowest, that stranger in the world among His own, is “I AM.” Henceforth let us be dead to all but this. I do indeed stand incapable of utterance. I do read and talk with Jesus, I watch Jesus in His ways, a servant, and behold, he, even He, is “I AM,” with whom I am, whose way I follow, whose grace I adore. Christ is the union of these two things: the man, the rejected man, whom I look at now with most thankful sympathy, and, behold, the presence of God! How low it lays men's thoughts, experience, judgments, notions! The perfection of God was there—God rejected of men. What can meet or have a place along with this? Let this be my experience. Glory be to God Most High. Amen. Yet to me it is Jesus; in truth it is “I am.” Here I rest; here I dwell; to this I return. This is all in all. I can only be silent, yet would speak what no tongue can utter, and no thought can think before it. This we shall learn, and forever grow in—more beyond us forever, for here is God revealed in His essential name of existence—God revealed in man, in Jesus! if know Him, am familiar with Jesus, at home with God, honoring the Father in Him, and Him as one with and in the Father, yea, delighting to do it. But I say, do we believe it? I do believe it all; and yet, as it were, believe nothing. I am as nothing in the thought of it, yet alive for evermore by it, blessed be God and his name. All shall praise Him so. Yea, Lord Jesus, God Most High, so shall it be. Lord Jesus! thou art “I am,” thou art “I AM;” yet didst thou take little children in thine arms; yet didst thou suffer, die, and be in the horrible pit—yea, for our sins! Thus I know the mercy-seat: I know that there is no imputing sins to me, that I am reconciled to God, and that God is the reconciling One.

Born Again

John 3.
THE truth connected with the Holy Ghost, together with Christ and His work, is the great safeguard, against the error by which Satan is working in the present day. The enemy's craft must be met by the truth of God. In this chapter we have the work of) the Spirit in quickening souls; and this is brought out, in contrast both with God's previous trial of Israel, and with man's natural power in the reception of outward evidence. from chap. 2:24, &c., we see the need of getting hold of God's truth for our own souls. The profession. of Christ may be ever so sincere, but apart from life and fruit it is worth nothing. The people saw He was the One who should come, the Person sent from God and they had right thoughts about His works, and yet all that went for nothing, and was worthless in the sight of God. The solemn question was, what was in man? The conviction spread amongst them that He was the Messiah, because of the miracles he did, and they were ready to have Him in their own way. Nicodemus said! “we, (not I) know that thou art a teacher sent from God,” &c., but the wickedness of man's heart was not all come out. Man proved what he was in the treatment he gave the Lord Jesus, notwithstanding the undeniable evidence vouchsafed in His works, that he was come from God.
There are none so hostile, to truth as those who know but will not have it. The spies who had been up and seen the land were those active in speaking, against it. One cannot go the way of the cross without having its trial and difficulty, as well as its infinite gain. The cross is not pleasant, of course, and it never was intended to be pleasant. Directly I see that Christ has a right and claim on my conscience, my nature rises to resist His power; I see He ought to have the first place, and that other things should give way: this I do not like. The cross must be contrary to our nature.
The Lord now meets Nicodemus with the declaration that he must be born again, or rather anew, (which is a stronger word than “again,” or “from above.") It is the same expression in the original as from the very first,” in Luke 1:3. You may find lovely qualities in human nature, but nature never loves Christ, where the cross and the glory come together. The new birth is a thing totally new. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” Christianity does not alter it at all. Man is in love with creation, and neither loves God nor believes His love. The creation is ruined. Spotted—not willingly, as man is, but still it is fallen. Man's will is gone away from God. His intellect may be all very well in its way; his disposition may be amiable, but you never find one who naturally seeks after God. Nay, you generally find the most amiable person the last to turn to God. Man must be born entirely anew; he must come into heaven with a new nature altogether distinct from that which he has got. Man will use his good qualities as well as his bad, just as an animal, but with more intelligence. The eye must be opened. It is a new ground and way of perception, by which we can even see the kingdom of God.
There was neither holiness nor righteousness before the fall. The original state was something distinct from both. Adam innocent, but not properly righteous or holy. To apply innocence to God, or to the Lord Jesus, would be absurd. God is holy; seeing what is bad and abhorring it, which holiness, negatively, at least, consents in. A righteous man judges what is contrary to justice and hates it. An innocent man did not know things in themselves good and evil, though, of course, he knew that it was his duty to obey God. Adam's sin was inn trying to be like God; our goodness is in desiring to be like Him. Ought we not to seek to be like God—to imitate Him, as the Apostle Paul exhorts? We are called by glory and virtue, and are seeking to remind our souls that God's counsel is that we shall be conformed to the image of God's Son. This one thing we should do, “forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” Adam knew nothing of this; his whole moral nature was entirely different. In sinning, man got his conscience, and was ruined in getting it, because it was a bad one. Consequently, he was afraid of the God he wished to be like. he lost innocence, and we never regain it; but we are renewed after the Second Adam. We are, after the image of God, created in righteousness and true holiness, made partakers of the divine nature, and brought to judge of sin as God judges it, and to love holiness as He loves it.
It is after God we are created again. (Eph. 4:24.) Not only have we, as men, the knowledge of good and evil, which made the man afraid of God and hide himself, but now, in being born again, it is another thing. We have life in our souls in a divine way.
We have the holy moral nature that God has, and in this nature, there is a positive delight in the righteousness of God, which does not condemn it, because it is the same. This new nature feeds upon, and delights in, what is of God, and is satisfied with the object before us, even Christ Himself. God has chosen us in Him that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love—he has us before him in this, the image of His own nature. In Christ we have all that God delights in, brought out and displayed in the man. He is the perfect and blessed display of all God is, and He is the expression before God of what He has made us to God. We have the image of God in the man, and more than this, we have what man is for God.
This quickening of the Spirit has a double character; it is death in both. We are dead, and are to reckon ourselves “dead indeed unto sin,” &c. This is liberty, but there is death practically, or putting to death, and that is what we do not like, for this is the cross. We like the liberty, but not the mortifying, or putting to death, our members on earth.
The sentence of death that God has passed on flesh and sin, is an unchangeable sentence, and it is a positive blessing to have done with the flesh, for it is a condemned thing. The sentence was executed upon Christ, the new man, that we might live after the power of that new man, Christ. There is an important point as to this, which is often confounded and mistaken. We must live, that we may die—not die that we may live, as is often represented. Men talk of death before they have life, but they are wrong. Heath, morally, is the consequence of having life. And this is just the difference between a monk—not using the word offensively—and a Christian. As a monk, I mortify myself, in order that I may live; instead of first having life, as a Christian, from God that I may die. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter,” &c. (Ver. 5.) “Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth.” God has begotten us by the word. “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” “He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.” “The word gives light and understanding to the simple,” and the effect of the light's coming in by the word is to bring the judgment of everything in man, as it brings delight in that which is of God.
“That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” There is the communication of a new nature in believing; and when born of God, the truth sanctifies and cleanses. There is “the washing of water by the word;” but this cannot be till after we are born of the Spirit by the word. There would be no sense in saying, That which is born of water is water; but that which is born of the Spirit, is of the spiritual nature of God, not of man's nature.
The “living water” made the woman at the well, to whom Jesus spake, hate herself. It detects what is in man. Hence, Christ could say to His disciples, “Ye are clean, through the word which I have spoken to you.” In the new and holy nature, in which I am created of God in Christ, I can now take up everything that I delight in; and I can judge everything contrary to it. Thus the word has a cleansing power. Baptism may be the expression and figure of it here, as the Lord's Supper embodies the truth of John 6. ("whoso eateth my flesh,” &c.,)—though I do not say that the Lord referred to either institution, but to the reality of which each is the sign. The substance of the thing is not the putting away the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ; who came by water—not by water only, but by water and blood. It will not do to look at ourselves with approbation. See what is said of the king of The. (Ezek. 28.) We must not look at self, nor take pleasure in it. We want an object outside ourselves—even the renewed man does. The moment there is the communication of the divine nature, there must be delight in Christ Himself.
This is brought out in this double way in John 5; 6 In chap. 5. there are dead sinners quickened, or raised. This speaks of God communicating the divine nature. I do not speak of filth now; but it is God's own power that is spoken of—God quickening. In chap. 6. we get faith still more fully insisted on: and here is the object of my faith presented. This is perfection—to be so occupied with Christ, as to be forgetful of self. While told to reckon ourselves dead, we are looked upon as dead already in Christ. How is this? Christ is looked upon as coming down into the place of death, that there, where I was without stirring, Christ might be, and rise up out of it, for my deliverance. Because of what he suffered on the cross, as manifested in the power of His resurrection, “old things have passed away, and all things have become new.” God will have none of the old thing now. It is defiled and corrupted, and good for nothing. “All things have become new” —not renewed. “In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” he is the eternal life that was with the Father, and is manifested unto us. This is not the man that fell out of paradise! How then can God and man be connected? “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.” There was the inseparable barrier of man's will on one side, and the power of death on the other. Therefore He says, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?” But “if it die, (the corn of wheat) it bringeth forth much fruit.” “The exceeding greatness of his power,” &c., (Eph. 1:19.) is in resurrection. Then, passing over the allusion to the Church, in the next chapter we read, You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” &c. In connection with, and the basis of it all, is Christ, who is dead and risen, with whom we are quickened together. The second Adam has not His place as Head of the family except by death first. Why? Because redemption could not have been wrought. Nor would it have been, as now, a question of God's righteousness. These being accomplished, He is entirely and in everything fitted to be the head of the new creation. This new link is wrought by the Word. The living word, by the Spirit is the power, and resurrection-life with Christ is the standing into which we are brought.
Christ speaks to Nicodemus about the things that he, as a Jew, ought to have understood. (Comp. Ezek. 36.) He says, “If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” God's earthly things were not evil or fleshly things, but the promised earthly portion, which the Jews were to look for. In the latter day they must be sprinkled with water and have a new heart from the Spirit before they can inherit. This Nicodemus should have known. Then there are the heavenly things which are better. “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” &c. There is the sovereign acting of His grace. He will take any poor sinners of the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, and bring them into the blessing He has to give. “God so loved the world.” This goes beyond the Jews. It is not there, God so loved Israel. For all alike Christ was needed. For the best, the Son of man must be lifted up, and for the worst God would give His only-begotten Son. Under promises, law, or nature, death must come in, if man is to be saved. In nothing can they be taken up in their own title.
What are we brought into by that which Christ has done? He says, “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.” Here was the double revelation of God. Christ is speaking as a divine person, and as one who has seen divine glory. “No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” He knew and saw, as One familiar and at ease with the Father and the Holy Ghost, with the glory of the Godhead. He was, Himself, in the unity of the divine essence. And though we were not only men outside it all, but fallen men, yet now, as born of God, what we are not brought into! We have resurrection-life in Him; we are one spirit with the Lord. It is not the poor thing of the mere renewal of good qualities; but it is Christ, the Son, Himself making us partakers of His own things.

Christ, Having Suffered Here Below

Christ, having suffered here below, is ascended to heaven, “that He might fill all things.” He came down in grace; He is gone up in righteousness; He will come in glory. Thus, while the church is being formed by the Holy Ghost's personal presence here below, the two-fold truth comes fully out: the heavenly man, as such, takes his place above, and the earthly man is judged. Henceforth old things are passed away, all things are become new

Christ Is All and in All

THE tendency is to satisfy our souls, even when we are born of God, with one of these truths, instead of enjoying them both. And although they are blessedly harmonious, as all truths must be, still there is a manifest difference between the two statements, “Christ is all,” and Christ is “in all.” For I apprehend when the Spirit of God says that Christ is all, that He thereby puts down completely in the things of God whatever we were in nature, and all that is of the world; that He thereby excludes all questions about the difference between Jews and Gentiles—between those who had thoughts of God, exalting themselves above others by covenant, or rite, or law, as Israel had; all questions of wise or ignorant, as to the learning of this world—barbarian, Scythian, bond, or free—it matters not what, as to their social condition in this life; so that He gives a most comprehensive glance at the ways in which men draw lines of demarcation. These have their place before the eye, as regards the world; for clearly natural relationships exist, and very rightly so, but not in heaven. And we must remember that Christian worship goes upon the ground of what is true in heaven. Therefore it is that Paul, when exhorting the Hebrew Christians, invites them to draw near “into the holiest of all,” because it is there that faith carries us. Our bodies may be together in any place on earth, but it is in heaven that the true worship is carried on in spirit, in “the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man.” Therefore we may say, that the only real place of worship now is heaven, where our Priest is, and where our sacrifice is presented. There we by faith stand in the presence of God Himself; consequently, in what has merely to do with God, Christ is all. Everything that pertained to us in the flesh completely disappears.
But there is another side of the truth. While there is the negation of all the distinctions of the flesh as to the things of God in that statement, “Christ is all,” it is most important to see that Christ is “in all.”
There is not one of those who bear His name but what Christ is in him. Faith acts on this. This it is which draws out the only love that is worth having, and that God recognizes in the things that concern Himself; that love which is of God, and which God Himself is. What is it? Not mere sympathy because of community of sentiment; that is the parent of all sectarianism. What is it that binds together those who naturally may have nothing in common? Christ is in all. Then comes, along with that, the most solemn responsibility. Wherever what is not of Christ is displayed in a Christian, it is not to be passed over and made nothing of, because, as might be said, “for all that Christ is in him.” The real truth is that Christ is in him in order that all that which is of the flesh and inconsistent with Him who is our life may be judged and put away. Anything but this as a principle in our souls would be to do evil that grace may abound. Still it remains true, and it is a most precious truth, Christ is all, and Christ is in all. If the one truth makes nothing of us, I may say that the other makes everything of us. The one blots out what is of the first Adam, while the other just as much gives the full and proper value of Christ to every one that belongs to God, spite of much that might be trying and painful individually. It is the character of the last Adam attached to all the saints. It is in their mutual relations that the greatest trial is felt. The family circle may illustrate this. You may often find a great deal that is very pleasant and courteous outside the home, that is never known in it. This, of course. is most sorrowful, but it is just in the home circle that the trial comes chiefly; for we there see much of one another's failings. It is the same thing in the things of God. We are put to the test by our relations with the saints of God. Do you, do we, know how to practically reconcile these two truths—Christ “all,” and Christ “in all?” To love Christ in all, and at the same time to exalt nothing but Christ? I speak now of the relations of saints one with another in the things of God.
But there is another Scripture that I must just say a word upon, because it is often confounded with the one we are looking at. It is in 1 Cor. 15—an expression that we are all familiar with. God shall be all in all—a totally different truth, which does not refer to the same time. It has no bearing upon what is going on now, but upon a state of things that we may say is still far distant. It will not be true till then, except to faith, which gives a present existence to all truth. But if you come to the accomplishment of it, when will God be “all in all?” Not even when we are taken to be with the Lord, nor when the Lord has brought back His ancient people, and blotted out their iniquities, and made them to be the grand instruments of His blessing here below. Even then it will not be true that God is “all in all.” When will it be, then? When the Lord shall have delivered up the kingdom. He will receive it for the express purpose of making good all the promises of God, and putting down all the evil that rises up against God. That will be the object of Christ's earthly kingdom. And when everything is put down, and the last enemy is destroyed—when there will be no death to touch the body, and no devil to tempt the soul, (for I am not now speaking of the temporary binding of Satan, but of the time when he is entirely set aside and cast into the lake of fire,) then, and not till then, will God be all in all. In the millennium, when there will be the full blessing in heaven, and a grand measure of it upon earth, still there will be the control of evil under the government of Christ. But what will be most prominent then? Man will be all in all, in the person of Christ. As man, He will take the kingdom, which will be the vindication of Him who was crucified. It was as man that He suffered, and it is as man that He will be exalted in that kingdom which will be the display of Him as (so to speak) man all in all. And when He has used all the power and glory with which He is invested, to reduce everything into subjection to God, then will come the eternal scene, when God will be all in all. This will be the blessed answer to what man has been doing from the first—arrogating to himself what belongs to God. Even where it is a question of a sinner getting the forgiveness of his sins, man is trying to have them forgiven by himself—though “who can forgive sins but God only?” All through, it is man taking the place of God, and taking it, alas in wickedness. When Jesus is exalted in this blessed kingdom, all the object and result of His glory will be to the glory of God the Father. And when all is perfectly put down, and not one blot is left upon the whole universe of God; when all evil is judged, and good is brought out in the full glory of God, better even than when creation was first put forth (for the new creation is better than the old); then will shine the grand truth of all eternity—God all in all; God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For we must be very tenacious as to this. It is not that God the Father may be all in all—which is never said in Scripture, and would be derogatory to the Son and Holy Ghost. But He who has been holding the kingdom as man will deliver it up, that GOD (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) may be all in all—the praise of every creature, without one single thing to dim and tarnish the scene forever and ever.

The Christ of God: The True Center of Union

The cross may gather all, both Jew and Gentile; but they are gathered to Christ, not to the cross: and the difference is a most important and essential one, because it is of all importance that the person of the Son of God have its place. Christ Himself, not the cross of Christ, is the center of union. The two or three are gathered to His name, not to the cross. Scripture is uniform in its testimony as to this.
But further, where saints are gathered in unity, without any questionings, they have the truth and holiness to guard. It never was, nor I trust ever will be, the notion of brethren, that the truth of Christ's person, or godliness of walk, was to be sacrificed to outward unity. It is making brethren of more importance than Christ. And even so, love to the brethren is false; for, if true, it is, John assures us, “love in the truth, and for the truth's sake.” Supposing a person denied the divinity of Christ, or the resurrection of His body, still declaring his belief in the cross—supposing he declared his belief in the cross and resurrection, but declared it was only a testimony of God's love, and no substitution or expiatory value in it, as many clergymen of high reputation now do—is all this to be immaterial? I shall be told that no true believer could do this. In the first place, a true believer may be seduced into error; and further, the test offered becomes thus the opinion formed that a man is a true believer, and not the plain fundamental truth of God and His holiness. It If be granted that the gathering is round the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is quite true: but what person? Would it be equal if He were owned to be God, or if it were denied? If He were the Son, the object of the Father's delight at all times, or if He were a man or really risen from the dead? If it be said, All this is supposed, then neutrality is a delusion and denies itself. For that is what I insist on—that I must have a true Christ, and that I am bound to maintain the truth of Christ in my communion. I am aware that it is stated that we can deal with conduct, (with morality,) but not with these questions. But this is just what appears to me so excessively evil. Decency of conduct is necessary to communion; but a man may blaspheme Christ—that is no matter: it is a matter, not of conduct, but of conscience. It is hinted, that perhaps if it be a teacher, he may be dealt with. In truth, the apostle desires even a woman not to let such a person into her house. It is not therefore so difficult to deal with. Just think of a system which makes blasphemous views of Christ, which may amount to a denial of Him, to be a matter of private conscience, having nothing to do with communion! And here is the very root of the question.
I affirm that that is not a communion of believers at all which is not founded on the acknowledgment of a true Christ. Where the truth as to this is commonly held and taught, I may have no need for particular inquiry. But this is not the case here. If I find a person even in such a case denying the truth as to Christ, communion is impossible, because we have not a common Christ to have communion in. But here all faithfulness is thrown overboard. No call to confess a true Christ is admitted: it is a new test or term of communion!
We are to meet as Christians: but a man is not a Christian in profession who professes a false Christ. I cannot judge the state of a person's heart while his profession is false. I may hope he is only misled, but cannot accept his profession. If wholly or not willfully ignorant, it is another matter; but we have to do with the case where, heretical views being held, they are declared to be matter of private conscience; that a false Christ is as good as a true one, if a person's conduct is good—we can judge only of the last! Now this principle is worse than false doctrine; because it knows the falseness and blasphemy of it, and then says it is no matter. I do not own such meetings as meetings of believers; for fundamental error as to Christ is immaterial for communion—a matter, not of conduct, but of conscience.
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God has raised him from the dead.” Suppose a person held Christ was a mere man, and quoted the passages to prove it that God raised Him, and made Him Lord and Christ, would he be received? If not, you do try whether a man has the faith of God's elect: otherwise a Socinian is admissible as a believer, or you make your opinion of his being a believer the test, entirely independent of the faith of Christ. It is said, You can only require a person to say he receives all in Scripture. The supposed Socinian would accept such a test at once. They do so. Why should you ask even that? A man may be a believer and a rationalist in theory, (sad as such a thought is,) and not accept all the word of God, and say, I am a believer in the cross: you have no right to make a difficulty. If after this you object to any doctrine, or insist on any truth, you have not even scripture to lean on against his denial of it. Scripture says, “whom I love in the truth,” “and for the truth's sake.” The other principle says, that is no matter. You think the person spiritual, a believer; the truth of Christ is no matter, a false one is just as good.
I add no human document to the divine: I make no term of communion besides Christ. God requires that those who have blasphemed Christ should not be admitted. I am told that it is a matter of conscience, &c., and people cannot read doctrines to know whether He is blasphemed or not. These blasphemers have been received deliberately and avowedly, upon the ground that no inquiry is to be made; and therefore the plea of additional bonds or terms of communion is all dust thrown in the eyes. Is it a new term of communion to affirm that faith, faith in a true Christ, (not a false one,) is called for for communion, and that blasphemers of Christ are not to be received? That is the true question. If a person thinks they are not safe in reading the publications, how are they safe in fellowship and intimacy with those who have written or refuse to disown them? I confess I do not admire this argument. Simple believers do not hesitate, reasoning minds do. Ask a true-hearted believer if Christ had the experience of an unconverted man. He would soon say, I will have nothing to do with one who says that. A reasoning mind might make it a mere matter of personal conscience. Is the truth of Christ's person, and His relationship to God, a variety of judgment on a particular doctrine? Here is the whole question—raise for Christ and the truth as to Himself Definitions are not required, but that, when blasphemous definitions have been made, the blasphemers should be refused. Is it the Shibboleth of a party to reject such doctrines as, that Christ was relatively farther from God than man when they had made the golden calf; and that he heard with an attentive heart the gospel from John Baptist, and so passed from law under grace? Or is it faithfulness to Christ to extenuate them by saying, that in such deep doctrines we shall not express ourselves alike?
It is not real love to the members, nor love for Christ's sake, to despise Christ, so as to bear blasphemies against Him. The truth of His person and glory is a test for those who are faithful to Him. I cannot talk of liberty of conscience to blaspheme Christ to have communion with it.

Christ the Propitiatory

Rom. 3:25
The mercy-seat was the cover of the ark in the most holy place. There God dwelt in glory, The Shechinah, winch marked the presence of the God of Israel, was there. And upon the mercy-seat there was blood, the blood of a victim slain upon the day of atonement. On that day one man stood forth in the midst of guilty Israel—one man confessed the sins of Israel—one man slew the victim for Israel, carried the blood into the sanctuary and put it upon and before the mercy-seat—seven times sprinkled the blood upon it, and seven times before it. God now declares that what that type held out in prospect, the work of Jesus is: that all the substance of that which was foreshadowed in the blood-stained mercy-seat, is now true in Jesus. Think what a blessed thing that is! Not a soul but one brought the victim, and there was one victim slain for Israel and no more. Not a soul goes in of all Israel, but one, the high priest. And he went in not merely for himself and his own house, but for Israel. The goat, whose blood was shed for Israel, was so entirely distinct in the type that, as the high priest was a mere sinner like another, he had a separate sacrifice or bullock slain for himself and his own house. But Christ needs none, and therefore can be wholly for the sinner. How thoroughly there you have the substitute! How entirely the question is taken away from the sinner and laid upon Him that is mighty—the only One that could meet our ruin in the sight of God? On that day the great confession was they had not Israel's, but the high priest's. No doubt they had been troubled and mourning before, and on that day they did afflict their souls, and did no work. But if there is one thing that, more than the law or than hell, makes sin to be thoroughly felt, it is God's judgment of it in the cross of Christ. Oh! the goodness of God who brought out all the horrors of my sin, that He might take it upon Himself in the person of Jesus, and become responsible for it! If a man has to suffer for his own fault, he makes up his mind to it, and tries to harden his heart in pride, or sinks into despair. If you have to answer for your sins you are lost Forever. But what touches the heart is, another suffering for his sins. And when a soul knows that God Himself has become a man in order to suffer, that is, measured all sins in His own divine light, and brought out their true blackness—that the blessed Son of God has had it all laid upon Himself and borne its punishment—that now the blood is shed, and more than that, sprinkled upon the mercy-seat. O what love, what truth is this! The blood of Jesus sprinkled upon the mercy-seat and before the mercy-seat. And lo! the veil is rent and I may enter in. What meets me there? My sins? Not one is there. The law? It is completely hidden from view. The lid of the ark the mercy-seat itself—shuts it down. The law is, no doubt, there: it is honored, and is where none can sully or gainsay. But as far as I am concerned, nothing so establishes the law as faith. Its claim was so sacred, and God's majesty so bound up with it, that Christ Himself must be made a curse by that very law and suffer all the consequences of it, if He took the sinner's place. And He did! His death sanctioned the law in the most solemn manner and to the full. But Christ is also the end of the law to everyone that believes. If the seal was upon the law in Christ's death', for that very reason I am completely delivered.
The light of God's presence shines only upon the blood on the mercy-seat and what does that blood speak? Has God any fault to find with it? Can he, looking at the blood of His Son, say it is not sufficient? His word is, that it cleanses from all sin. Listen, now, you who do not know what it is. to have rest for your souls. God Himself speaks to you by His word; He has brought your sin before you; He has told you that all your attempts to get better are vain—that they are, in fact, but setting yourselves up against the sentence of God: your works are wicked, your nature hopelessly evil. God Himself declares, “There is no difference.” And if you are resolving and laboring to improve, you are just trying to make a difference. God, I repeat, declares there is none. Oh! the hatefulness of the heart, where fruits of the Spirit have never grown. It is a wilderness indeed, full of briars and thorns. Such is man's heart in God's sight and estimate, yet His joy is that the wilderness should rejoice and blossom as the rose. But the question of sin must be settled first. I must be delivered and justified, before the fruits can appear... how is it to be done? “Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood.” He points to the mercy-seat. Not a single thing but the blood of Jesus is offered there. God is looking at that blood. And when in Israel the sin had been all brought out and confessed by the high priest, what was not their gladness as, from the presence of their God, he came forth the witness that all sins and iniquities had been put away? Israel did not see the blood sprinkled within—they believed it? they had been in humiliation and sorrow till then, but all was changed now. Why? Because the blood of atonement was upon the mercy-seat. And yet that was but a goat's blood. Whereas, now, the Son of God has died, and His blood is before the living God—that great and only-sufficient sacrifice for sin. God now proclaims, throughout the wide world, the eternal efficacy of that blood for poor sinners. If there is no goodness in me towards God, there is goodness in God for me. Have I known this from God? Then I have repented. God stands to the value of that blood. Have I taken His word for it? This is faith, and there is the first place where the battle must be won. “Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” Am I to look at my own heart and say, now I know that my sins are gone, and that I am a Christian because I feel myself to be a little better than I was a year ago? The Lord preserve you from such a delusion! It is but the old man again, essaying to make a difference where God has said there is none. A Christian is one who has confessed himself completely lost and bankrupt. He is miserable about it; he feels that He has wronged God, but believes that God has wrought salvation in the cross. Hence He can weigh all and own it to God. For the first time he is really honest in heart. Begin, then, with Christ and his blood. Having Christ for my sins, I have also Christ in mile to produce the fruits of the Spirit. I want to bring praise to Him. I desire the whole world to know He has become the object and life, as well as the salvation, of that poor wretched creature who was born blind but now sees.

Christ the Truth

Christ on earth was the truth, as he is always. Truth exists before the church of God. His word is truth, and faith in the truth gathers the church by the Holy Ghost. But the church maintains the truth; and when the church is gone, men will fall into a strong delusion. That which is not the pillar and support of the truth is not the church as God understands it.

Christian Responsibility

Christian responsibility is founded on this—that God has delivered our souls, and that he mesas to have us with himself in heaven. Our conduct never flows from a pure and right spring, where it does not flow from the certainty of the favor of God, that has made us His own forever. The mere thought of duty, however just, will not stand the day of trial.

What Is the Church?

In order to judge what the church is, we must know, and be able to distinguish, the truth and the living God whose presence is there.

Church's Part

“Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honor and incorruptibility, eternal life, &c., &c.; but glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the gentile.” Rom. 2:16, 6-11
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Rom. 14:12.
3. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether good or BAD.” 2 Cor. 5:9, 10.
4. “But he that doeth WRONG shall receive for the WRONG which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons,” Col. 3:25.
Note the passages 2, 3, 4, in reference to “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9. Heb. 10:17.) L. D. G.
A. It is important to bear in mind that, whatever may be the display and power of grace, the principles of righteousness are in no way set aside, but, on the contrary, maintained thereby. The day will declare that God renders to each according to his works. Life eternal He will give to those who by patient continuance of good work, seek for glory, honor, and incorruptibility. He will give this, I say; because here eternal life is viewed on the side of glory, not as a present thing, as the Apostle John does; and hence it appears as the issue of a holy, fruit-bearing course. On the other hand, to such as are contentious and disobedient to the truth, but who obey unrighteousness, there shall be indignation and wrath tribulation and distress, on every soul of man that worketh evil, &c. (Compare John 5:29; Gal. 6:8.) Mark the two-fold truth. “Each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Yet shall the believer not come into judgment (John 5:24)—not into condemnation merely, but judgment. Doubtless, in the unbeliever's case to give account of himself will be, in effect, both judgment and condemnation. But neither is true of the believer.
Nevertheless, it is certain that the believer will be manifested (not judged) before the judgment seat of Christ. All must be manifested there, in fact, whether saint or sinner; that each may receive the things done in (or by) the body, according to what things he has done, whether it be good or evil. Even for the believer, all his ways are far from being the fruit of righteousness by Jesus Christ. As for the laborer, there might be work done with sorry materials, and this will have its consequences in, glory, though the person should be saved.
It is just the same principle in the last passage, as indeed in a crowd of others. 1 John 1:9 does not modify, much less contradict, this. It is involved in repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Nor does Heb. 10:17 clash either, as some might think. No sin is remembered as a question of pardon; nothing is forgotten as a question of divine vindication and retribution. We shall know as we are known, and God be magnified in all His ways.

Church's Part

The church’s part is to confess the truth when communicated, not to communicate it. God reveals to and by individuals, as apostles and prophets. Accordingly, the apostle says, not “where” but “of whom hast thou learned these things.”

On Cleansing Before Atoning

Sir.—The scriptural order of cleansing before atoning has often puzzled me. Can any of our more deeply, taught brethren explain it? We are, I think, in the habit of considering the atoning blood to be the foundation of all that we are in the way of holiness and acceptance with God: yet, when the twin ideas of purification and expiation are presented to us in Scripture, under whatever variety of language or symbol, they stand in this order so uniformly that it can hardly be otherwise than significant.
For examples, the leper had first to wash and then to bring the sacrifice whose blood was to atone: so throughout the various washings with sacrifice. Again, in Heb. 6:2, “the doctrine of washings (not baptisms—see Greek) and of laying on of hands;” that is, the doctrine of cleansing” and of transfer of sinfulness to the sacrificial victim. Again, in 1 Cor. 6:11, but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been (justified, i.e.) pronounced free from condemnation. Again, 1 John 5:6, (see Greek,) this is he that cometh through water and blood, Jesus, the Christ, not with the water alone, but with the water and the blood. This by the way is a very important declaration of God, in the present day, when Socinianism, Rationalism, Neology, &c., concur in saying that Christ saves by “water alone;” that is, by causing or promoting, in one way or another, my personal cleansing henceforth; and not by blood,” by His death as an expiatory sacrifice. But to return to out question, How is it that the blood is not placed first Again, “there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water, and the blood.” Again, 1 Cor. 1:10, “Christ Jesus is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." I have quoted merely those passages which occur to me without seeking them.
But further, not, only is this order observed when the purification relates to the great work once for all, at our new birth, but even in its less fundamental aspect of progressive development or growth of the “new man” created in us as shown by his more and more resisting the “old man,” and so bringing our natural powers more and more into the service of the new man. This brings me to a passage which though, as an example, it is too uncertain to serve as a basis for my question, yet it was the first which suggested the question to lay mind long ago, and led me to the other passages. “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood,” &c. Most Christians, probably, suppose these two forms of expression to signify the same thing; but I think not, both because the two are so frequently repeated even in modified forms, as “my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed,” and yet without abbreviation by the omission of one; and also from a consideration of their precise spiritual import by comparison with similar types in other Scriptures. The eating the flesh, like the feeding on a portion of the offering of old, denotes our drawing spiritual sustenance and strength from contemplating and appropriating to ourselves Christ, as regards His offices, doctrine, and personal character, as we receive, and assimilate natural food so that it goes to form ourselves; while another remarkable and unexplained fact is, that while the figurative idea of drinking the blood of Christ our sacrifice is inculcated in the New Testament, both by word here and by act in the Lord's Supper; yet it is expressly and repeatedly forbidden in the Old Testament, not for mere physical convenience, but emphatically on account of the symbolic meaning of blood, in the Mosaic rites which were pre-eminently types of the doctrines of Christ.
I feel that some profitable thoughts must be involved in the true reason of each of these circumstances.
W. P.
A. The main point is met completely by the expression in 1 Peter 1., “Sanctified unto the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” We are born again to have a share in the value of Christ's blood and work. When the things are named together in Scripture, sanctification is before justification. Ordinary language is very different. Righteousness is not so put, because that is the foundation of God's dealing in blessing with us and bringing us, by that regeneration which sets us apart from Him, into the full acceptance of Christ. Grace reigns through righteousness. There is practical progress then in holiness.
The use of John 6 goes somewhat further and differently into the matter. Chap. 5. had presented the Son of God as quickening whom He would. In the latter, it is sovereign life giving; in the former, it is appropriated by faith, and this of the Son of man; i.e., the Lord come in flesh. Hence He is the bread that cometh down from heaven. But it is not the Christ to the Jews, received as born on earth, but the Son of man (the word made flesh) giving life to the world. He must be received in this character. And to receive Him in this character in which alone is life, we cannot stop short of His death. We must eat His flesh and drink His blood. This is His death—the blood separate from the body. Incarnation is of no avail for life—unless death comes in: otherwise there is no atonement—sin is not put away. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.” Eating the flesh comes first, because it is the first prominent, point of incarnation—Christ comes in flesh for man, for the world. Drinking the blood is added because that is available as a dead Christ—the blood out of the body. Hence the monstrous character of the refusal of the cup in Romanism, as well as the doctrine of concomitancy (that is, that the blood is in the bread or alleged body of Christ). The forbidding of blood in the Old Testament denoted that man in the flesh could not meddle with death. Life belongs to God. Our drinking Christ's blood shows that through His death we come in freed from flesh as dead; and that death thus is life and liberty to us, deliverance from the old man and its guilt, too, to us who have received the quickening of John 5.

The Coming and the Day of the Lord

2 Peter 3.
IT may be felt by some to be strange that the Spirit of God, instead of entering upon the subject of the coming of the Lord, should at once turn from it to speak of His day. And I have no doubt at all that many readers of this, and other parts of the New Testament, have, through haste, been led to confound the two things together, because of that very circumstance. But we may be always sure that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, as the Apostle Paul says in writing to the Corinthians. They, too, were somewhat confident in their own knowledge. They were reasoning about the ways of God. Why could not God, they might have said, have redeemed and saved His people in a way less full of pain and shame than by the death of His Son? The sacrifice of Christ was required to atone. That cross, the apostle goes on to show, which seemed to some a foolish thing, as it always appears to the world, is the profound wisdom of God. Not merely did He accomplish redemption in the cross: He was putting His sentence upon all that is in man, and bringing out by His love the world's inveterate hatred against Himself.
Peter is writing to those who had been Jews formerly, and they would be, therefore, somewhat familiar with the thought of “the day of the Lord,” for it is much spoken of in the Old Testament as the tremendous day of Divine dealing with the habitable world. For that is the point. Not merely the time when men will be raised from the dead, to be judged before the great white throne. The day of the Lord is God dealing with the world as it is; stopping all its wheels; arresting men in the midst of all the busy scenes of life, and calling them to account. The Old Testament, as it deals with man upon the earth, naturally lays great importance upon “that day.” The great white throne judgment is outside the world altogether. Heaven and earth will then have disappeared; it will be a judgment not connected with time, but ushering into eternity.
Mark the wisdom of God here. These men do not scoff at the day of the Lord; even an unconverted Jew, with the Old Testament Scriptures in his hand, would have been afraid to appear to make light of that. But they were saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” You Christians are waiting for the coming of Christ to make you happy. You are the most miserable people in the world. You enjoy nothing. You separate yourselves from all our interests and pleasures. You find fault with everything, not only with our bad ways, but with our best endeavors; and, after all, He does not come. “Where is the promise of His coming?” This is just the place in which the coming of Christ puts the Christian. What says the Spirit of God to those who derided the hope of the saints? His answer in effect amounts to this, I think:—I will not talk to you about the hope of the Christian, a theme that you make light of. But I warn you of a terrible scene that you have forgotten. There is such a thing as “the day of the Lord” coming. That is, He drops the subject of the church's and Christian's hope, the coming of the Lord to receive us to Himself which will take us out of all this scene, bring us into heaven and put us in peace and blessedness before the Father. The Holy Ghost in 2 Peter does not enter into this. In Jude, he just gives us a little passing glimpse of the blessedness of the saints before God. “Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” There you have a glance into the deep inner joy of God's saints that the world will know nothing about. It can never see what the Christian will enjoy best in the presence of God the Father; nor will they know anything of the coming of Christ which will introduce us into that scene. But the world is to see the day of the Lord, and when that day comes the Lord will have all His saints in heaven, in the full brightness and intimacy of enjoyment of the Father's house. Afterward He will bring them out and display them in His Father's glory and that of the angels' before the world, and then will come retributive judgment. The Lord will come from heaven and deal with men in the midst of their busy ways, and works, and plans here below. This is what we see taken up in 2 Peter 3. You mock, he says, at our hope, but I will remind you of your fear, and when you hear of it you may tremble. “Be not ignorant of this one thing (and let the beloved saints of God remember it well) that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,” &c. The Lord can amazingly crowd up events that might have spanned a thousand years into a single day; while, on the other hand, he might linger out those of a day into the patience of a thousand years. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. He is unwilling to strike the terrible blow that is about to fall on the world. He “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” These words entirely set aside the horrid idea (technically called reprobation) that any man ever was made for the purpose of being cast into hell. God, on the contrary, desires to save. His heart yearns over men. He waits upon them, entreats them. sends the gospel to them that they may receive it. No doubt it is pure grace and only grace that awakens one soul to the love of God. But it is the sin, the unbelief of man (whatever be the judicial hardening in certain cases) that shuts them up in the rejection of His mercy.
Whether the delay be short or long, whether of a thousand years or one day, the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. It will come suddenly, and be most unwelcome in this world. He makes the day of the Lord to comprehend the whole space from the coming of the Lord in judgment, through the millennium, till the great white throne. For all that is implied here. “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, &c.... The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” must take place before that day closes.
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” You may feel, and you ought to feel, what man is in his scoffings against the truth of God; but the best answer to it all is that of a godly conversation—the effect upon your souls and in your walk of the knowledge of that hope, and your sense of the dreadful doom that awaits those that despise not only the righteous will of God, but His mercy. The Lord here shows us the importance of it. “What manner of persons ought ye to be, &c... looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” That is, we do not want this day to be delayed for our own sakes, but we love the patience of God towards men, and that reconciles our hearts to the delay, while personally, we long for the Lord to come; because we know that when he has come and taken us away, the day of God must quickly close in upon the earth.
“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” That gives the key to Peter: righteousness is the thought in this epistle as well as in the first. The coming of the Lord for His people is not the display of righteousness but the unfolding of His grace. He has begun and He will end with us in full and heavenly grace, which has chosen us to be with Himself. But here I get the day of the Lord, which has an aspect of righteousness even for us. When that day comes we shall be manifested. “The day will reveal.” It is the time when we shall have rewards for special suffering or faithfulness of any kind: it is the time which will, therefore, detect where we have been unfaithful, and why we failed. The day of the Lord will not close till all evil has been banished and righteousness brought in and established, all enemies having disappeared. The day of the Lord is as emphatically righteousness as His coming is grace. The world is never said to see anything of the coming of the Lord for His saints. It will miss them, no doubt. The warning of grace will have closed, though there may be raised up a testimony of the coming kingdom and judgments, and some hearts may be opened to receive it. But not a word of hope does Scripture hold out for those who now refuse the gospel.


CONFESSION and humiliation suit and, in a peculiar, become the children of God in the present day. Neither the glory of God, nor the honor of Christ, nor the presence of the Holy Ghost has been faithfully cared for by us; and the Church—Where is it! and what is its condition upon earth but it is not the wide range of Christendom, or the narrower compass of England, to which I look. Is not confession and humiliation called for from ninny a one in the narrower circle into which these lines may come! Humiliation and confession for what? Let each think, let each speak for God, and for Christ and truthfully (according to his own best and eternal interests in the Spirit) for himself, too, in giving the answer. I will do so here for myself; let others see how far they are wide of my mark.
Christ gave Himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world. The friendship of the world is enmity against God, and the minding of earthly things is enmity to the cross of Christ.
Now, speaking for God and for Christ, what shall say as to myself—as to my brethren in this respect Are we—have we been—practically, in heart, and thought, and action that which we are in, spirit— “not of this world, even as Christ is not of this world!”
I speak not now of worldliness as the men of the world, or even as men (Christian men) upon this earth speak but I speak of worldliness according to the sanctuary.
Peter's self-complacency and self-confidence, and the mighty energy of personal love to his master, which (working with mixed motives, and from an unhumbled heart in him) led him to use the sword and to cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, was fleshliness and worldliness when weighed in the sanctuary. There has been this, I judge, to be confessed by many of the best in our day—zeal without knowledge—light as to its object, wrong as to many a thing in oneself as vindicator, and wrong as to many a means and course pursued, and much of this through self-complacency and self-confidence in our own line of things.
My conviction is, that worldliness and earthly-mindedness have blinded the minds, and hardened the hearts, to an extent very few of us have any idea of; and that, as a consequence, no case touching upon the morality of the Church's walk can be fairly judged by the mass of believers. In cases innumerable which have occurred, the affections to Christ Himself have not been lively enough to make persons indignant at open insults put upon Christ, and determined to stand apart from that which, in its association, was minded to sanction dishonor done to him.
God forbid that we should use worldliness and earthly-mindedness, or the pretense of confessing them, as a cloak to cover up indifference of the heart's affections to Christ's, or to gloss over want of zeal, to separate from every association with those that avow and act upon a liberty to be indifferent to his honor.
Yet, while I would clear myself of the conduct which; looks like indifference to Christ, and from all association with those who plead and act upon their liberty to think their own thoughts in this respect, the question will rise, And what is it, after all, that hinders so many dear to you, and dear to Christ, from seeing that his honor has been assailed? The true answer, I fear, is worldliness and earthly-mindedness—the fruit of our own doings. Now I avow this; for I do believe that a more Nazarite walk on my part and on that of some others might have given power to act upon consciences; and, some how or the other, to get then; separate from a course in which I dare not walk, than walk in which I would rather walk alone the rest of my earthly days. Christ's honor has been assailed—the morality of the Church has been assailed—directly by some and indirectly by others, who do not care so much for their Lord and Master as to be willing to separate from association with those who have openly blasphemed Him.
I own that the low, earthly-minded, worldly state of saints, which caning meet this, is a consequence of the Holy Spirit having been grieved and quenched.
I desire to go down as low as possible, bearing any and all blame; but, come what may, never to sanction that which corrupts the morality of the Church—never to be tolerant to that which insults Christ, and never to be identified by association with that which cares neither for the glory of Christ, not for the morality of His Church, nor for its unity.

Correspondence: Isaiah 53:11 and Daniel 12:3

(To the Editor of the Bible Treasury.)
The writer on Daniel in the Bible Treasury of this month objects, and I think correctly, to the generally received idea that, in Isa. 53:11, “by his knowledge” means, by the knowledge of him.
On consulting the Englishman's Hebrew Concordance, find the precise form of the Hebrew word occurs only in one other place: “By his knowledge the depths,” &e., (Prov. 3:20) clearly by God's knowledge. By his knowledge” (Isa. 53:11,) I take to be Christ's knowledge of God. (Comp. Matt. 11:27; John 1:18; 3:13 -19; 17:3-26; 1 John 5:20, &c.)
The Son is the exponent of the Father. All was an enigma, so to speak, until he came, who uttered things kept secret from the foundation of the world. How that God desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hos. 6:6) He that teacheth man knowledge. (Psa. 94:10.) 1 cannot concur with the writer in altering “shall justify” for “instructing in righteousness.” The word translated “justify” occurs in that precise form of the verb only in Ex. 23:7: “I will not justify the wicked;” i.e., God will not make or pronounce a wicked man a just man. Again, “God forbid that I should justify you;” (Job 27:5:) i.e., acknowledge you to be just in what you have spoken. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isa. 53:11.)
God is now known as the God that justifieth the ungodly. He is the just God and the Savior, just and the justifier of him that believeth on Jesus; for He gives the ungodly, the poor sinner, a righteousness, and in doing so demonstrates His own righteousness. (Rom. 3:21-26.) Thus grace reigns through righteousness. (Rom. 5:21.)
December. R. S.
If R. S. had more fully weighed the context of the scriptures in question, he would have found the key with far more certainty than the mere occurrence of the word, indicated by a concordance, can afford. Everyone who consults a Hebrew lexicon may see that the usual, regular meaning of צךק is ־'justify;” but this sense, even where it, or something like it, might be given in English, is susceptible of very considerable modification according to the proposition in which it occurs. Hence it is even used for cleansing the Sanctuary in Dan. 8:14. And I find that Gesenius (in voce) takes the word substantially as I do, in the two passages we are discussing. ·'Justum s. probum, pium reddidit aliqueni, exemplo et doctrina. Indeed, R. S.'s admission, that “by his knowledge” means Christ's own knowledge of God, seems to me decisive of the question. He might teach many thereby; but how could knowledge “justify?” This would be strange doctrine. “To instruct in righteousness” restores the balance. Still plainer is Dan. 12. We can understand Christ justifying by His blood, by His obedience, though not by His knowledge; but how human teachers could “justify” anyone, is to me an enigma. Here the Authorized Version is to my mind much nearer the truth; for there “justify” is dropped for “turn to righteousness.” But I have already given reason enough in the “Remarks” for preferring instruct in righteousness. For the object here is “the many,” not many; and this phrase is a standing one in our prophet for the apostate mass in Israel, who may be instructed in, but assuredly are not turned to, righteousness. This, the necessary meaning in Dan. 12, makes an excellent and consistent sense in Isa. 53.

Correspondence: Objections to "The Banished One Bearing Our Banishment"

Dear brother, I do not at all desire to make your Bible Treasury the vehicle of controversial papers; but allow me to draw your attention to a paper in a magazine supposed to be exclusively occupied with edification, or what was intended for it. It is so utterly without basis, or attempt to found its assertions on scripture (the only two or three it quotes it quotes falsely on the point in question) that I should not have thought it worth an answer, but for the bold presenting of the doctrine which it is its object to circulate. In this way it may be useful. “Not merely was he,” it is said, “the rejected of men,.... But he was the outcast, the condemned one.... As such, his true place was outside the city of God; outside the dwelling of the holy one. If permitted to resort to Jerusalem, he can only do so as a stranger or wayfaring man, who comes in with the crowd during the day, but retires at night, if allowed to frequent the temple, he can only come as far as the outer court, on the common footing of a sinner—just as the publican might do. He might stand and see the daily sacrifice offered.” (p. 314.) For whom? Let me ask in passing. Was it with a consciousness that it was not for him—that is, that as to his relationship to God, he could go into the holiest, or ignorant as to this, and in his relationship, supposing he needed one himself? The writer has brought the point pretty much to the test by this way of putting it. What was the blessed Lord's sentiment when he saw the sacrifice offered? I continue: “He might watch the shedding of the blood, and the consuming of the victim; but only as one of the crowd. He might stand, on the day of atonement, and see the two goats chosen by the high priest; he might listen to the confession of sin over the head of the one, and mark the pouring of the other's blood; he might see the high priest take the basin, and carry the blood into the holiest, himself standing on the outside; and, though the blessed one, waiting amid the crowd to receive the well-known blessing. But more than this He might not do. Were He to go beyond the circle thus marking off the limits within which he was to walk, he would not have been acting as the sin-bearer, nor submitting to be dealt with as an outcast and a curse for us.” (ib.) I shall notice this: but I continue my quotations. “He is so completely identified with the sinner, the outcast, the banished one, that He is not only deemed unworthy to live within Jerusalem, but unworthy even to die within its walls. As the great sin-offering, He goes without the camp, there to complete his sin-bearing work, and to sum up the testimony which his whole life had given, viz., that he was standing in the sinner's place, enduring the banishment of the banished one, bearing the curse of the cursed one, submitting to the condemnation of the condemned one, and never for one moment contradicting or modifying the testimony intended to be given by his life to his sin-bearing character and work.” (ib.) Is that all the cross was? The writer must be singularly absorbed with his doctrine to speak of it in this way
“The one hindrance to His exercise of this His divine right of entrance into the holiest of all, was our iniquity, which was lying on Him. That kept Him out. Until that was fully borne, He could not enter either the sanctuary below or the presence-chamber above. In taking our sin upon Him, as He did from the moment of his incarnation, He had consented to forego for a time His right of entrance into the Father's presence, and into that place where the glorious symbol of that presence dwelt.” “It was as such (the outcast) that we find Him walking in Solomon's porch; thus proclaiming to all who truly understood His character and work that He was acting as the sinner's substitute.” (p. 325.) One sentence I have omitted I will quote here. “he was Himself the true Sacrifice, the bearer of sin. As such He lived and died. In all that He did, and in all that He abstained from doing; in the places which He visited, and in the places which He abstained from visiting, he kept this in view. He was loaded with our sin, our curse, our condemnation our leprosy; and, as such, He must keep at a distance from the holy and the clean.” (p. 314.) “Let us then, look, at Christ in these two different conditions.
...1. As walking in Solomon's porch—He walks there as our Substitute; our Substitute as truly as when He groaned in Gethsemane or died on Golgotha. As one consenting for a season to be shut out from the presence of God, that we might enter and dwell in that presence forever, Ito stands, or walks, or sits outside the sanctuary. Thus it is that He bears our banishment; He takes upon Him not merely the penalty of, suffering and death, but the penalty of exclusion from the house and home of God. That penalty He has endured; that exile He has undergone; that distance He has experienced; and all this as the Substitute, bearing what we should have borne.” (P. 325.)
The difficulty of answering the paper, from which I have here given extracts, is, that it is such a mass of absurdity, that it is hard to know at which end to begin. I refer to it, as I have said, only as an audacious attempt at circulating the doctrine it contains.
In the beginning, it is said, there were several reasons why Christ could only have access to the outer court, and had to keep outside the holy and most holy place; Dr. Bonar then gives three: personal, He was of the tribe of Judah; Ceremonial, He had no blood to offer; Typical, He was loaded with our reprosy. This is found pp. 313, 314. When in the full flow of his subject, he says, “the one hindrance to His exercise of this his divine right of entrance into the holiest of all, was our iniquity.” Then in p. 325, the two others are forgotten. It may be alleged he was only speaking, in the latter place, of Him as God. But, then, if the holiest of all was really then the dwelling-place of God, and God there, so that He could not approach, as Jehovah He was there. But this is not true: the house was empty, swept, and garnished. His own body was the temple where Jehovah dwelt. There was no shechinah in the second temple. It is alleged that He never went to the holy places of Israel. Who says He did not? But let that pass. Did He come here to turn Israel back to old shadows, and typical service, and places counted holy by them? But among others He did not go to Bethlehem. What profound sense there is in this! If this was because it was already a holy place, He became the leprous and unclean thing in the holy place. Because it was so—and all the imperial world was set in movement to have Him made leprous there—I suppose to desecrate it. If it was His birth that had sanctified it, then He could not go to a holy place because of what He was when He had consecrated it by being that. is it possible to conceive greater nonsense than all this? He did not go into the temple, because it was impossible, and out of God's then order, and inconsistent with every Jewish and every Christian thought. If spoken of as God, He was there as far as God was there; but, as I have said, His body in this sense was the true temple: He calls it so. If as man, He was not a priest: there were other priests to do it, as the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us. As come, He was not there to set up Judaism, but to submit to its order; as burn under the law, His entering into the holy place would have been a gross violation of it. Was He there to establish the earthly system as a divine thing, to have his place and title as Son in an earthly sanctuary? We are specially referred to Solomon's porch! It was the common place of assembly in the temple. Was his being there a proof He was a substitute under a curse? All the apostles were afterward with one accord in Solomon's porch. Were they all substitutes under a curse? I will speak of the doctrine. I speak now of the ridiculous absurdity of such reasoning. But further, it is still more absurd; because, if He were a leprous man, and keeping this always in view as to holy places, other holy places lepers might have gone to as much as any one else; but the really holy place, in a Jewish sense, which a leper could not go to, was the temple, and there He came, and was in the crowd of the clean, for none else could go there. It is painful to have to meet all this folly, used to make a leprous man of the Lord. Leprosy was defilement, not merely a type of guilt; our Lord, therefore, took a defiled place. Clean persons could not have gone into the holy of holies: there we are told He could not go because He was leprous. Leprous persons could not go into the temple, or he among the crowd of clean Israel; but there He was, and that is a proof that He is leprous! and, strange to say, drove the defilers out, because it was a holy place. But the true answer is simple. He came not to build lip the holiness of Hebrons or Bethels: He went into the land of Zabulon and the land of Naphtali, Galilee of the Gentiles, because it had been prophesied of Him, that the poor of the flock, who sat in darkness, might see that great light, and light spring up on those in the shadow of death. He was there because He was light, not because He was leprous. He left Judea because the Pharisees had heard that He made and baptized more disciples than John; was that as a leper, or did His disciples baptize, not Himself, because they were not leprous and He was? It is asserted, without the most remote foundation, He did not sleep in Jerusalem. He visited Jerusalem only during the day, retiring from it at night to Bethany, as one cast out! That was only the last week, when He had judged Jerusalem; (but that was the time He rode into the holy city as its king: was that as a substitute and leper?) and when He cleansed the temple, because it was defiled. If the reader ask what scripture is alleged for His being a substitute, or avoiding holy places on this ground—which there was no ground for doing—the only scripture is the one emanating from Dr. Sonar's private assertion. In God's word there is not a single trace of it. Dr. Bonar does not attempt to allege a symptom of scripture—for the simplest reason: there is none to allege. It is simply an unholy fancy of Dr. Bonar's; but he does quote some scriptures as to Christ's state during His life. I will examine them.
“He was made sin for us;” this is referred to His life. But it is He who knew no sin whom God made sin for us. Hence, through the eternal Spirit, He offered Himself without spot to God. He was not made sin when “that holy thing” was born of the Virgin Mary. When it could be said of Him, as a man “who knew no sin” then He was made sin, “a curse for us.” “As such, His true place was outside the city of God;” but He went into it, and into the temple, and did not stay outside; that is, according to Dr. Bonar, went out of His true place. But He was made a curse for us. But scripture says, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs upon a tree. That is, He was a curse as crucified, not in His life. “The most holy place was, we may say, the type of that very bosom of the Father out of which the only-begotten Son came forth.” It was nothing of the kind. Dr. Bonar confounds God in His throne in government and the Father's bosom; but let that pass. Dr. Bonar's doctrine hangs on this—that He came forth out of the Father's bosom, and could not go into it. Now, the only passage which speaks of the Father's bosom, is a careful statement that he did not come out of it. “The only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” He was competent to reveal God, because He had not come out of it at all. His going into the empty earthly place of God's throne, is fit only for Dr. Bonar and his school. Not only so, but scripture is careful to connect this presence in heaven with His manhood, and show that as such, though bodily on earth, He was personally in heaven. “No man hath ascended up to heaven but he who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” So that He was in heaven at the time Dr. Bonar says He was taking the sinner's place of exile outside the blessed heaven where He had dwelt from everlasting. One scripture more Dr. Millar quotes, if quoting it can be called. “Such,” he says, “is the efficacy of our Substitute's life and death, that we have boldness to enter into the holiest.” This is not quoting scripture, not ignorance, but falsifying scripture.
Heb. 10 is solely occupied with the sacrifice of Christ. The point on which chap. ix. had insisted, was that there was no forgiveness without blood-shedding, and that Christ must have suffered often if He had offered Himself— 'often' excluding all idea of forgiveness but by death. Chap. x. then sets aside Jewish offerings, and substitutes a Christ come to do God's will, but speaks only and exclusively of His offering; by the which will we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for: thereupon declaring that we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. That is, Dr. Bonar leaves out the one point on which the word of God insists; and introduces what it does not introduce, but excludes. I can only say the word of God is pure. “Add thou not unto his words lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” All this I must call wickedness. And now the main point—Christ—is the “banished one bearing our banishment.” Banished by whom? Banished whence? Is that, Christian, your thought of Christ, that He was banished from heaven? is that the way—is it in that spirit scripture speaks? or, that He came in His own love, and was the blessed and holy one given in love, sent of the Father? Is it not the infinite preciousness of that gift that exalts the love of the giver? Was He given as a precious one, or banished? Forsaken He might be when He was made sin, as to the anguish of His soul; but banished, never! Did He cry, Why hast thou forsaken me at that moment, having been forsaken all His life; yet hardly to be forsaken at any time, for He was never near God—had to keep at a distance from what was holy—experience distance and the penalty of exclusion from the home and house of God— “outside the blessed heaven where He had dwelt from everlasting?” Was that the Son of man who is in heaven? He could tell of heaven, which no one else could, (He declares to Nicodemus,) inasmuch as He was still in it though come down. This, Dr. Bonar interprets, by His being banished and excluded from it. And, mark the result, He could look on in the crowd at the offerings, coming as to the publican might do, on the common footing of a sinner; he might listen to the confession of sin over the head of the scapegoat, waiting amid the crowd to receive the well-known blessing. This, because He was excluded, because He was loaded with our leprosy! But, if He was their sin-bearer, why in the crowd looking at another sacrifice, and waiting for the well-known blessing? Blessing for whom? For the crowd, of which He was one in virtue of the sin-offering. Is this Dr. Bonar's view of Christ, standing as the Substitute for the crowd, for He died for that nation—and yet one of the crowd looking on, in respect of His own state, on another sacrifice, founded on which blessing was to come on Him as one of the crowd? If He carried the sin there, if it was already laid on his head, why was He with the crowd looking to another sacrifice and seeing the sins confessed on it? and why Himself waiting; to receive the blessing? suppose, because He needed it; or, at least, that it was real. Did He need the blessing flowing from atonement? How could it be real for Him, when He knew the very sin it professed to put away had not been there at all? It was resting, in all its weight, on His own head. Think of the Son of God waiting in the crowd, as a Substitute to receive the blessing flowing from the atonement, Himself really bearing the sins all the time, which were not put away; and, to complete the confusion, excluded as a leper, because they were on Him, from the holy place in which He nevertheless was! But the confusion is too horribly mischievous to do anything else than to point it out in its naked character. This article may do good. It will show the true bearing of that which clothes itself in pious forms, though here, if one has any sense at all, it can hardly be said to do so. I do not attempt an elaborate article: these one or two hints are enough to show its character. I do not see the smallest trace of divine teaching, but a man left to himself in a special way to expose the folly and evil of his own inventions.

A Covenant: Definition

A covenant is a principle of relationship with God on the earth; conditions established by God, under which man is to live with him. The word may, perhaps, be used figuratively or by accommodation. It is applied to details of the relationship of God with Israel; but strictly speaking, there are but two covenants, the old and the new. The old was established at Sinai. The new covenant is made also with the two houses of Israel. The gospel is not a covenant, but the revelation of the salvation of God. It proclaims the great salvation. We enjoy indeed all the essential privileges of the new covenant, its foundation being of God; but we do so in spirit, not according to the letter. The now covenant will be established formally with Israel in the millennium

Remarks on Daniel 1

It must be evident to any attentive reader, that this first chapter is purely a preface to the book. It introduces us into the scene to which the prophecies, of which Daniel was either the interpreter or the vessel, are the great after-piece, the subject-matter which the Spirit of God is about to convey to us. We may therefore take advantage of this, to inquire into the peculiar nature of the book on which we are about to enter.
The properly prophetic part of Daniel begins with the second chapter. Then follow certain historical incidents, which, as I conceive, have a most intimate connection with the prophecy, if not directly, in the way of types, which show out the moral principles or the issues of the powers of the world, with which the hook is occupied.
In order to understand Daniel, it is necessary to bear in mind that prophecy in the Old Testament divides itself into two great parts. There were prophecies that concern the people of God, Israel, when they were still under His government; unfaithful often but still subject to His discipline and owned of Him to a certain extent. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and indeed many of the lesser prophets, such as Hosea, Amos, and Micah, have this first character. Israel was still recognized as God's people, if not the whole, at least that part of the people with which God still had certain dealings in the land. Of course I refer to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which clave to the house of David. After awhile they too fell, and the heir of David became the leader in rebellious idolatry against the Lord. Then a change of the utmost importance ensued. The throne of the Lord, which was established. in Jerusalem, ceased altogether upon the earth. God no longer owned Israel; not even Judah, as His people. And I call your attention particularly to this, because there are often vague thoughts as to what is meant by “the people of God” in Scripture. As Christians we look at God's people as those that really belong to Him—His children by faith of Christ. Now there is a danger of carrying the same thoughts back to the language of the Old Testament. But it will be found, if we examine Scripture with care, that, in the Old Testament, by people of God is meant only the Jews or Israel. Nor is it merely a certain aggregate of the elect there, but the entire nation, or that part which still clung in a measure, though very unfaithfully, to God's king, and whatever they might be, owned as the people of God. Then came a time when God disowned His people. This was predicted by Hosea. It was accomplished when God gave up the last king of Judah to the Chaldean conqueror. God would have sacrificed His own holiness, truth, and majesty, if He had longer tolerated the Jews or their idolatrous king.
Now, it is a remarkable thing in the history of the world, that although there were certain powers of growing importance and ambition in the east, none before had been allowed to step into positive superiority to all rivals. In the west there were only hordes of wanderers, or if some were settled, they were uncivilized barbarians. In the east and south powers had rapidly risen; one of them, Egypt, is particularly well known in connection with Israel. Another too, Asshur, is quite as ancient in its origin: indeed, we read of its name, and of certain aspirations and efforts after power, before we read of Egypt at all. These were the great rivals of the early world, and they had a civilization of their own. It might have a rude character, but that it was barbaric grandeur none can deny who believes the Scriptures, nay, who sees the relics of Egypt and Assyria. Well, these powers were constantly struggling for the mastery. But however God might use the Egyptians and Assyrians, or others less considerable, as a rod of discipline for the good of Israel, yet to no nation on earth was supremacy allowed until it was perfectly plain that God's people were proved to be unworthy of being His witness and the scene of His government on the earth. First, then, Ephraim (the ten tribes), having sunk into hopeless idolatry, was swept away. For a long time there had been monarch after monarch only following or exceeding each other in evil; and all through it had been a scene of rebellion and idolatry. Thus God had been compelled to put such a people, that only disgraced Him, out of the land where they had been planted. Still the two tribes that cling to the house of David were owned. But clouds hung over them, and snares were laid by the enemy of the most fatal kind. At this crisis prophecy shines out in all its fullness. For prophecy always, I think, supposes failure. It never comes in during a normal state. But when ruin is impending or begun, then the lamp of prophecy shines in the dark place.
This we find true from the first. Take the revelation in Gen. 3—that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. When was it given? Not when Adam walked sinlessly, but after he and his wife had fallen. Then God appears, and His word not only judged the serpent, but took the form of promise to be realized in the true seed. Certainly a blessed disclosure of the future, on which the hope of those who believed rested. It was the condemnation of their actual state. It did not allow the faithful who followed to sink into despair, but presented an object above the ruin. on the part of God, to which their hearts became attached. Again, Enoch is the person in the antediluvian world who, above all others, is said to have “prophesied,” though we do not get the record of it till one of the latest books of the New Testament. “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. Now that the evil, found in the germ in Adam, had broken out into all but universal corruption and violence, we have a well defined prophecy of judgment coming on the world. It was the interference of God in testimony before He acted in power. Then Noah is seen, who still more than Enoch was publicly connected with this evil state. I believe that Enoch's prophecy had a remarkable application to the deluge, though it looks onward, of course, to the grand catastrophe in the last days. When a prophecy is given, there is often a partial accomplishment at the time or soon after. But we must never look back at the past pledge as if the whole thing were exhausted. That would be to make prophecy of private interpretation. And this is the true sense of 2 Peter 1:20: “No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” We must take it in the vast scope of the plans of God, and the unfolding of His purposes, which alone find their consummation at the close. It is to that point that all prophecy looks. Then only we have the grand fulfillment.
Again, let us take the patriarchs, who are expressly called prophets. “He suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” Their claim to this title may be explained on the same principle. They were the then interpreters of the mind of God; “called out,” because there was a new and fearful evil come into the world, which we never read of before the days of Abraham—idolatry. Idolatry, as far as Scripture reveals to us, is only mentioned after the flood. This was spreading everywhere, and becoming paramount even in the descendants of Shem; and therefore God called out a witness in word and deed separate from so flagrant iniquity. Prophecy, or a prophet, always supposes the presence of new and increasing evil, because of which God is pleased to unfold His mind with regard to the future, and to make it of present practical value to those then on the earth.
In the case of Moses it was manifest. For though he was the great lawgiver, the golden calf was set up almost immediately after, and thus the ruin of Israel, as a people under law, was complete. And so it remained for him, as the great prophet of Israel (Deut. xxxiv. 10,) to reveal the sure and growing corruption of the people, whatever might be the resources of God's grace at the end; as at an earlier epoch, he had predicted the inevitable judgment of God upon Egypt. Coming lower down in the history of Israel, we have one who begins the line of prophets emphatically so-called; for he is mentioned thus: “Yea, all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after,” &c. His call was at a very critical period in Israel's history; at a time when the children of Israel had fallen into such a frightfully low state, that they were willing to use even the ark of God as a charm to preserve them from the power of their enemies. Then it was that God put His people to shame. His own ark was taken, and Ichabod was the only name that godly feeling could dictate. The glory was departed; and about that time we hear of Samuel the prophet. If this was the token of some new crisis, equally at least did it showed that God, in vindication of His own name, brings in the light of prophecy as a comfort to the hearts of those who stand for Himself.
Descending still further, we find the full outburst of prophetic light in the time of the prophet Isaiah. The reason is apparent. Not merely had Israel committed itself to idolatry, but the king, David's son, had actually taken the pattern of the heathen altar at Damascus, and must have such another for himself in the holy city! There was a sin, heinous and most insulting to God. Isaiah is set apart with unusual solemnity to the prophetic office. The evil condition of the Jews is realized by him. He sees the glory of the Lord, which draws out from him the immediate confession of his own and the people's uncleanness. “Then said I, Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” But one of the seraphim touches his lips with a live coal, assuring him that his iniquity was taken away, and his sin purged. And he is sent with a message of judicial darkness upon the people, which must last till the cities were wasted, and the land made utterly desolate. So that we have prophecy so much the more brilliant because the evil was manifest and profound. The consequence of the prophetic warning, where received, was, that a spirit of repentance and of intercession followed; and God subsequently raised up a royal witness for Himself, so that for a time the evil was suspended.
And all this while you have prophecy coming out with more and more distinctness, directing the hearts of the saints to him whom the virgin should conceive and bear—the Son of David, Emmanuel, that was to be the only and sure foundation for the people laid in Zion. I need not now attempt to give even an outline of the great features of the prophets that followed. But thus far, I trust, the great principle is clear, that prophecy, as a whole, comes in when there is ruin among the people of God. As the ruin deepens, prophecy adds fresh light in the goodness of God.
Besides this universal character of prophecy, we have seen it, first, while God is still disciplining the people and owning them as His. But there is another form of which Daniel is the great example in the Old Testament. This is, when God, no longer able to address His people as such, makes an individual to be the object of His communications.
For this is the distinctive feature of Daniel. It is no longer a direct address to the people, reasoning, pleading, warning, opening out bright hopes, as in Isaiah, &c. Nor is it, as in Jeremiah, a prophet “ordained to the nations,” with most affecting appeals to Israel and Judah, or at least a remnant there. In Daniel all is changed. There is no message to Israel at all; and the first and very comprehensive prophecy contained in the book was not at first given to the prophet himself, but rather a dream of the heathen king, Nebuchadnezzar, though Daniel was the only one who could meal it or furnish the interpretation. The other visions were seen by Daniel only, and to him all the interpretations were given. What is the great lesson to be drawn from this? God was acting on the momentous fact that His people had forfeited their place—at least for the present. They had lost their distinctive standing as a nation—God would no longer own them. The presence of elect persons among them did not, in the least degree, arrest the divine sentence. It was not a question of there being “ten righteous in their midst.” Of a corrupt Canaanitish city like Sodom, that was said as a reason why it should be spared. But does God ever speak so about His people? He may liken them to Sodom for their iniquity, but there can be no such hindrance to judgment in their case. On the contrary, it is expressly said in Ezek. 14, that “though these three risen, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it (the land of Israel), they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness;” and again, “they shall deliver neither son nor daughter.” That is, in His own land, and in the midst of His guilty people, no matter who were there, nor what their righteousness, the righteous only should be delivered, and God's four sore judgments must be sent. And so, at this very crisis of the captivity, there were righteous men, such as the prophets themselves, and others, kindred spirits in their measure. Whatever, then, be His willingness to spare the world, God does not refrain from judging the evil of His own people because of a handful of righteous men in their midst. “Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, you only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities. Otherwise, there never could have been a national judgment of Israel at al], for there was always a line of faithful ones in their midst. The entire principle is false. In a book I lately met with, such was the plea why England should come comparatively unscathed out of the terrible judgment about to fall on the nations of the earth. There are so many good men!—such a change for the better in high and low—such benevolent and Christian institutions—the Scriptures not only printed in abundance, but everywhere circulated, read, and expounded. But these are the very grounds which, to my mind, make divine judgment inevitable. For it is quite clear, from scripture, that, if there is to be any difference in the measure, those who know His will and do it not shall be beaten with many stripes.” A more fearful illusion can scarcely be conceived than that the possession of a greater amount of spiritual knowledge and privilege is to be an effectual shield when the earth comes into judgment.
The Lord recalled the memory of Tire and Sidon (Matt. 11), but it was only to show the far greater guilt of the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done. “Woe unto thee, Chorazin, woe unto thee, Bethsaida; for if the night works which were done in you had been done in Tire and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tire and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.” But there was another city still more favored (elsewhere called His own city, Matt. 9:1), because it was where He then usually dwelt, and, therefore, was its case so aggravated in guilt. “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shall be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works which were done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee.” In other words, the measure of privilege is ever the measure of responsibility.
We have seen, then, the startling fact that the government which God had set up in Israel (accompanied by the visible sign of His presence, i.e., the Shechinah of glory) was now to subsist no more. God Himself stripped them of their name as His people, Henceforth they were “Lo Ammi,” not my people. That was their doom now, as far as He was concerned. Whatever the ultimate designs of His grace might be; for His “gifts and calling are without repentance.”
Along with this sad change, and dependent on it, the prophecy of Daniel begins. And in this respect, there is a strong analogy between this book and the grand prophecy of the New Testament. No doubt, in the latter, special messages were sent to the seven churches through John. But the book, as a whole, was addressed and confided to him, however much it was intended that the things should be testified in the churches. Christ sent and signified the revelation, by His angel, unto His servant John, who stands in the same sort of relation to Christendom, that Daniel did to Israel. The failure was so complete that God could no longer address the prophecy directly to His people in either case. Thus there is a very serious moral sentence of God upon the condition of Christendom. It was a ruin as regards practical testimony for God—Ephesus threatened with the removal of its candlestick, if it did not repent, and Laodicea with the certainty of being speed out of the Lord's mouth. Not but what God continued to save souls. That He always did and does. But this has nothing to do with the witness which His people are responsible to render. More than two hundred years after Judah had become Lo-Ammi, Malachi could tell of them that feared the Lord speaking often one to another; “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” All that might be true; yet the solemn sentence of God— “not my people” —remained on them. Circumstances could affect neither His judgment of the nation nor His grace to faithful souls within it. And what was true then remains equally true now. The salvation and blessing of souls go on. But before God, that which bears the name of Christ in the world is as far from satisfying the thoughts of God about us, as the people of Israel were from fulfilling His design in them.
Accordingly, we find that the character of the book perfectly accords with the time and circumstances in which Daniel was called to be a prophet. It was when the last vestiges of God's people were being taken away. In Jer. 25:1, the date of Nebuchadnezzar's reign is reckoned from the first attack. And I would just observe that there is a little difference from what is said in Dan. 2. In Babylon, where the latter wrote, the reckoning was naturally from the time when Nebuchadnezzar succeeded to the throne upon his father's death; whereas, in Jerusalem, where Jeremiah prophesies, it was just as naturally from the time that Nebuchadnezzar, during his father's life, wielded the power of the kingdom, to the ruin of Jerusalem and the Jews. The truth is, the case is not uncommon, both in sacred and profane history. Whatever may be the difficulties in the word of God, they really arise from want of light. Generally the object of the particular portion where they occur is not understood. But speaking of dates, another little thing it is well to bear in mind, which the first verse of our chapter, as compared with Jer. 25:1, gives occasion to: years are sometimes reckoned from their beginning, sometimes from their end, that is, either inclusively or exclusively. So it is in the well known instances of the days between our Lord's death and resurrection, and of the six or eight days before the transfiguration. Thus in Daniel it was said, “in the third year of Jehoiakim;” but in Jeremiah, “in the fourth year.” The one was the complete, the other the current year.
Looking then at the moral character of Daniel's prophecy, the key to the ways or God at the time it was given, lies in this, that God had no longer had a direct, immediate government upon the earth. He had owned David and his seed as the kings that He had set upon the throne of Jehovah at Jerusalem. (1 Chron. 29:23.) No other kings there were thus recognized of God. They were emphatically His anointed, before whom even the high priest had to walk.
And here was what God intended to set forth by them: a foreshadowing of what He is going to do by and in the Christ, the true Son of David. The same thing is found throughout Scripture. first a position is committed to man's responsibility, and failure is immediate; then, it is taken up by Christ, who establishes it on a foundation which cannot be moved. Thus, God makes man, and sets him sinlessly in paradise, with dominion over the lower creation. Man falls at once. But God never gives up His purpose of having a man in paradise. Where shall we find it now? In the first Adam it broke down utterly. He was turned out of Eden: his race became outcasts from that day to this; and all the efforts and the material progress that man makes in this world, are only so many remedial measures to hide the fact that God has driven him out of paradise. But the last Adam is God's glorious answer to that first trust which was confided to man's keeping—the Second Man exalted in the paradise of God—Again, Noah, as it were, begins the world afresh after the flood, and has the power of life and death first committed to his hand. The sword of magistracy was introduced. “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man.” This was the root of civil government, and man was thereby made responsible to restrain or punish the violent hand. This is never reversed. Christianity, wherever received, brings in other and heavenly principles. But the world remains bound by this irreversible statute of God for its guidance. Noah, however, failed in his trust as completely as Adam had in the garden. He did not govern himself nor his family to God's glory. He becomes intoxicated, and his younger son insults him; and the issue is, that, instead of the universal blessing of righteous rule, a curse falls upon a portion of his descendants. So in due time, the principle of a king, responsible, to rule righteously over God's people, was tried in the house of David. And what is found? Even before David died, there was such dreadful sin that the sword was never to depart from that very family which ought to have secured blessing to Israel. Did God therefore abandon His design? In no wise. The Lord Jesus takes up headship, government, and the throne of David's Son. And so with all the other principles that broke down in man's hands; all will be illustrated and established forever in the Person and Glory of the Lord Jesus.
We saw that Jerusalem ceases to be Jehovah's throne. And Jeremiah shows us the holy city counted as one among the other nations; and as most privileged, so the first to drink the cup of God's fury. Babylon must drink it also, but Israel first. It is in the same chapter (xxv.) that you have the distinct prediction of the severity years' captivity, during which Judah was to be carried away to Babylon; and then should come at the end the judgment of the power that led them captive. But while Jeremiah predicts the rising supremacy of Babylon, and its final judgment, and that too not as a matter of history alone, but as the type of the world's overthrow in the day of the Lord, we have not there the details that intervene. So Ezekiel, among the captives at Chebar, brings us up in the first half of His prophecy to the time of the great struggle for the chief place among the powers of the world. Pharaoh-Necho, King of Egypt, desired to have it; but as the Assyrian before him, he is destroyed, and Babylon remains the ambitious claimant of universal dominion. There were these three powers. Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon; the latter comparatively young as a great kingdom, though founded probably I upon the oldest associations of all, viz., Babel— “the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom.” They were like fierce animals, held in by an unseen leash till the experiment was fairly tried, whether the daughter of Zion would walk humbly and obediently with the Lord, or whether she would turn from her backsliding and repent at His call. But she did neither. This left room for what had never been seen before—the rise of an universal empire.
After the flood, and the judgment of the Lord at Babel, the great dispersion of nations took place—families, kindreds, tongues, and lands all separate. Israel was the center of this system of independent nations. So it is written in Deut. xxxii. 8 “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance; when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” All was arranged with reference to Israel, for “Jehovah's portion is His people, Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” They were the divine center for the earth, and God will yet make good His purpose. Though completely frustrated through the wickedness of the people, Israel must yet be His center of nations in this world, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. This, too, was first tried in the hands of man and failed; then it is turned over into the hands of Christ, who will establish it in due time. Israel's pride, made it to depend at first upon their obedience to God. At Sinai they undertook the responsibility of the law. Whenever a sinner attempts to stand upon that ground with God, he is lost. The only safe and lowly ground is, not what Israel would be for God, but what God would be in faithfulness, and love, and pity toward Israel. And so it is with every soul at all times. Israel accepting that condition, the law became their scourge, and God was compelled to judge them. Death accordingly was certain, spite of God's marvelous patience. People fail, priests fail, and kings at last became the leaders in all evil. God was compelled to give up His people. From that moment all that held in check the nations of the earth was taken away, and the vast rival dynasties struggled for the mastery. God no longer had a people that He owned as the theater of his government. If their heart had only turned to him, like the needle to the pole, spite of quivering to and fro, there would have been long-suffering (as indeed there was to the uttermost), and the intervention of divine power would have established them in blessing for evermore. But when not only the people, but the king anointed of Jehovah, blotted out His very name from the land; when His glory was given to another in His own temple, all was over for the present, and “Lo-Ammi” was the sentence of God. They had become now the most bitter in their idolatry, being apostates from the living God, and if maintained, would have been the active champions of heathen abominations. By God's judgment, therefore, the people and the king at length passed into captivity.
At this crisis Daniel appears at the court of the Babylonish monarch, according to the sure word of Isaiah to King Hezekiah. (Isa. 29) “The times of the Gentiles” (for so runs the remarkable phase in Luke 21) Were begun, and of those times Daniel was the prophet. They are not always to run on; they have a limit assigned by God, when the present interruption of His direct earthly government shall cease, and Israel shall again be acknowledged as the people of God. During this interval, as we saw, their distinctive calling being lost, God allows in His providence a new system of Government, the system of imperial unity, to rise up in the great successive Gentile powers. It is no longer independent nations, each having their own ruler, but God himself sanctioning, in His providence, the surrender of all nations of the earth to the absorbing authority of a single individual. This is what characterizes “the times of the Gentiles.” Such a thing was unexampled before, though there may have been strong kingdoms encroaching upon weaker ones. Even the infidel historian is compelled to recognize, as all history does, the four great empires of the ancient. World. Israel was now merged in the mass of nations. Hence that expression comes in, “the God of heaven.” he had, as it were, retreated from the immediate control of the earth, in which character, at least in type, He had governed Israel. This had now wholly disappeared, and God, acting sovereignly, and at a distance, so to speak, from the scene— “the God of heaven” —gave certain defined powers of the Gentiles to succeed each other in a world-wide empire.
Before I close these preliminary remarks, a little word on the great moral features of this chapter; for if they are brought out prominently in Daniel, they were not written for his sake only, but for ours, if we desire the same blessing.
The chapter opens with the scene of the complete prostration of the Jews before their conqueror. They were now besieged and overwhelmed in their last stronghold. “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar, to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his god.” Next we have the fulfillment of the remarkable prophecy of Isaiah, already alluded to. Hezekiah had been sick, nigh unto death. At his urgent desire to live, God had added to his days fifteen years, and this was sealed to him by a striking sign; the sun returned ten degrees by which it was gone down. But it had been better to have learned well the lesson of death and resurrection, than to have life prolonged, to fall into a snare and to hear of the sorrows that yet awaited his house, and with it the eclipse of Israel's hopes. Whether a sign so remarkable was what chiefly attracted the notice of a nation, the most celebrated in the ancient world for its astronomical lore, I cannot say. Certain it is that at that time the king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, and this not merely because he was recovered of his sickness, but to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land. (2 Chron. 32:31.) Instead of going softly all his years, Hezekiah displays his treasures to the ambassadors of Merodach-Baladan. “There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah showed. them not.” “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of Hosts, Behold the days come that all that is in thy house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
Here we see this accomplished. “And the king spake unto Ashpenaz, the matter of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; (or nobles;) children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Accordingly “the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat and of the wine which he drank, so nourishing them three years that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.” Along with this the names of Daniel and of his three companions are changed. It would appear that the desire was to efface the memory of the true God, by giving them names derived from the idols of Babylon. “The prince of the eunuchs gave to Daniel the name of Belteshazzar and to Hananiah the name of Shadrach, and to Mishael of Meshach, and to Azariah of Abed-nego,” in all probability names derived from Bel and the other false gods then worshipped in Chaldea.
And now let us mark what the Holy Ghost records, as peculiarly showing Daniel's heart for God, that in his moral ways he might. be a vessel to honor and meet for the Master's use. How remarkably is the power of God superior to all circumstances! Daniel and his companions say nothing to the change of names, painful as it must have been. They were slaves, the property of another, who had the authority to call them as he pleased. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” Naturally they would have received such fare with thankfulness; faith works, and it is refused. It was connected with the false gods of the country, being a part of the daily food of an idolatrous king. Even in their own land and apart from idols, God insisted upon separating between things clean and unclean, and much that was prized among the Gentiles, was all abomination to a Jew. The law was stringent as to these defilements, and Daniel, as a Jew, was under its obligations. Christianity comes in and delivers the conscience from anxiety as to such things.
Whatsoever is sold in the shambles,” the Apostle Paul says, named the fact and for conscience sake. But for the Jew, there was unqualified separation required. Daniel at once shows himself decided for the true God. It was not to him a question of doing at Babylon what was done there, but of the will of God as enjoined upon Israel. Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. God had meanwhile wrought in His providence that Daniel should find special favor. But this did not lessen the trial of faith. And when difficulties and dangers were pleaded, still he has confidence in God. We are all apt to find good reasons for bad things. But Daniel's eye was single and his whole body full of light, the only means of understanding the mind of God. He did not consider what was pleasing to himself; he did not fear to risk the peril; he looked at the matter in connection with God. He only asks that they may be proved for ten days; “and let them give us pulse to eat and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon,” &c. Not “pleasant bread,” but that which spoke of humbling themselves before God, was what a true heart felt to be their suited food; such fare as the lowest in that proud and luxurious city might have disdained. What is the result of this trial? Daniel and his companions turn out “fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.” Thus they were spared further trouble on that score.
But that is not all. There was the positive blessing of God, in giving them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom. And of Daniel, it is said, that he was made to understand all visions and dreams. They were prepared of God, each for what he had afterward to fill. God was their teacher, and the trial of their faith was a needed, essential part of their training in His school. Then when they stood before the king, none was found like them. When the king inquired. of them, he found them, in all matters of wisdom and understanding, ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”
If we, too, are to understand the scriptures, I believe that we must travel the path of separation from the world. Nothing more destroys spiritual intelligence than merely floating with the stream of men's opinions and ways. The prophetic word is that which shows us the end of all man's projects and ambition.
And the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Doubtless, “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” But all the plans of men will come to nothing first, though “they shall labor in the very fire, and shall weary themselves for very vanity.” Himself shall do it. If there be one scripture truth which stands out more prominently than another, or rather which underlies all truth, it is the total failure of man in everything that pertains to God, before His grace interferes and triumphs. And this is true, not of unconverted men only, but of His people of old and of His Church since. Nor is there any advantage greater for the enemy, short of destroying the foundations, than the mixing up of the saints of God with the world, and the consequent darkening of all spiritual intelligence in those who ought to be its light. God would have us in practical communion with Himself: in His light we see light. If we see the end of all the plots of Satan to thwart the work of God, it separates us from what leads thereto, and joins us with all that is dear to him. Then “the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” So walking, we shall understand the word of God. It is not a question of intellectual capacity and learning. I am confident that human erudition in the things of God is only so much rubbish, wherever it is made to be anything more than a servant. Unless Christians can keep what they know under their feet, they are incapable of profiting fully by the word of God. Otherwise, whether a man know much or little, he becomes its slave, and it usurps the place of the Spirit of God.
Faith is the sole means and power of spiritual understanding. And faith puts and keeps us in subjection to the Lord, and in separation from this evil age. Daniel was separated from what, to a Jew, dishonored God, and God blessed him with wisdom and understanding.

Remarks on Daniel 10-11

IT is plain that chaps. 10. 11. and 12. are one continuous subject, and show us the circumstances in which Daniel received this last, and, in some respects, most remarkable of all his prophecies. For, in the whole compass of divine writ, there is no such circumstantial and minute statement of historical facts, and that, too, running down from the Persian monarchy, under which Daniel saw the vision, till the time when all the powers of this world shall be obliged to bow to the name of the Lord. Not that the prophecy runs on from the time of the Persian empire to the reign of Christ without a single break: that would indeed be contrary to the analogy of all the rest of God's word. But we have, first of all, a concise, and, at the same time, clear, statement of the facts, until we come to a remarkable personage, who was the type of the great and notorious leader of the opposition to God's people at the close of the present age. Having brought us up to this, the prophecy breaks off, and then at once spans over the interval, and gives us “the time of the end:” so that we can understand how it is that there is that gap. For the present I must close where the break comes in. Upon a future occasion, I hope, the Lord willing, to take up the antitypical crisis at the close, which begins with chap. 11:36. We shall find that it is not confined to any particular evil one; but that in the end of the chapter we have the conflicts of the leaders of that day in and round the Holy Land. And then chap. xii. shows us the dealings of God with His own people, until they and Daniel himself shall stand in their lot at the end of the days: this last, that is to say, the blessing of God's people, or at least of the godly remnant, being the great object of the close.
“In the third year of Cyrus, King of Persia, a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar,” &c. Daniel, we find, had not taken advantage of the decree of Cyrus, that went out two years before, leaving the Israelites at liberty to return to their own land, according to prophecy. Daniel was still in the scene of the captivity pf the Jews. But more than that, the Spirit of God draws attention to the state of the prophet's soul. He was not enjoying himself in a stranger-land; but mourning and fasting—and this, in circumstances where he had all, of course, at his command. He was found, as it is said, eating no pleasant bread, “neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Now surely it is not for nothing that the Spirit of God has shown us Daniel, not only before the decree of Cyrus went forth, but afterward, in such an attitude before the Lord. We can all understand, when the moment approached for the little remnant to leave Babylon, and return to the land of their fathers, that he should be found chastening his own soul before God, and passing in review the sin that had occasioned so fearful a chastening upon the people from the Lord—although he was even then doing exactly the contrary of what the flesh would have done under these circumstances. For when some great outward mercy is to be enjoyed is the time when man naturally is apt to give rather a loose rein to his enjoyment. In Daniel we see the contrary of this. He took the place of confession; and of confessing, not merely the sins of Israel, but his own. All was before him. None but a holy man could have so deep a sense of sin. But the same energy of the Holy Spirit which gives real self-abasement, enables one also in love to take in the sad and abject condition of God's people. Such thoughts as these seem to have filled the soul of Daniel when he found out by the prophecy of Jeremiah that deliverance was just at hand for Israel. There was no kind of exultation over a fallen enemy—he shouts of triumph because the people were to go free; although Cyrus himself considered it a high honor that God had made him to be the instrument of both. Well might a man of God ponder over what sin had wrought when the Lord could not even speak of Israel as His people, although faith in Daniel only the more led him to plead that they were.
Here the decree has gone forth according to his expectation. The Persian Emperor had opened the door for the prisoners of hope to leave Babylon, and those who pleased had gone back into their land. Daniel was not among these. Instead of anticipating nothing but bright visions of immediate glory, he is still found, and found more than ever, in a posture of humiliation before God. When the reason of this prolonged term of fasting comes out, we are let into the connection of the world that is seen with that which is unseen. The veil is not merely raised from the future, for all prophecy does that; but the statement of the vision here given us discloses, in an interesting light which is around us now, but unseen. Daniel was permitted to hear it, in order that we might know it, and might also have the consciousness for ourselves, that, besides the things that are seen, there are things invisible, far more important than what is seen.
If there are conflicts upon earth, they flow from higher conflicts—the angels contending with these evil beings, the instruments of Satan, who constantly seek to thwart the counsels of God with regard to the earth. This comes out remarkably here. We know that angels have to do with the saints of God; but we may not have discerned so clearly that they have to do also with the outward events of this world. The light of God here shines upon this subject, so that we are enabled to understand that there is not a movement of the world but what is connected with the providential dealings of God. And angels are the instruments of executing His will they are expressly said to do His pleasure. On the other hand, there are those that thwart God constantly: evil angels are not found wanting. Those who are not alive to this certainly lose something, because it gives us a far stronger view of the necessity of having God as our strength. Were it a mere question between man and man, we could understand that one person, in the consciousness of his strength or his wisdom, or other resources, might not fear another. But if it be a fact that we have to contend with powers that are immensely superior to us in everything of outward intelligence and might (for angels excel in strength, as we are told) it is clear that we are thrown, if we are to be conquerors, upon the support of Another that is mightier than all that can be against us. The faith that thus counts on God is a deliverance from anxiety about all that is taking place in the world. For although there are wicked spirits, and men are only as the pieces that are moved by them in the game of this life, yet, in fact, there is a supreme hand and mind that leads to the moves behind the scene, and unknown to the persons acting. This gives a much more solemn character to our thoughts of all that occurs here below.
Besides these angels, another appears on the scene: “a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz.” he, of whom we have so magnificent a description in ver. 6, and whom Daniel alone sees, does not appear to have been a mere angel. He may have been seen in some features of angelic glory: but I conceive this is one who often appears both in New and Old Testament history—the Lord of glory Himself. He appears now as a man—as One who had the deepest sympathy with His servant upon the earth. All others had fled to hide themselves, Daniel abode: nevertheless, there remained no strength in him—his comeliness was turned into corruption. Even a beloved man and faithful saint of God must prove that all his past wisdom was unavailing; for he was now a very aged man, and had been singularly faithful to the Lord. At this very time he was the one that best realized the true condition of Israel. For he saw well that a long time must elapse before the Messiah must come, and the revealing angel had announced that the Messiah should be cut off and have nothing. No wonder, then, that he was mourning. Others might be full of their bright hopes that the Messiah would soon come and exalt them as a nation in the world. But Daniel was found mourning and fasting; and now this vision passes before him, this blessed person reveals Himself to him. Yet, spite of all the love that rested upon him—spite of his familiar knowledge of God's ways, and the favor that had been shown him in previous visions, Daniel is made thoroughly conscious of his own utter weakness. All his strength crumbled into dust before the Lord of glory. And this has a moral for us of no little moment. However much may be the value of what a saint has learned, the past alone does not enable us to understand the new lesson of God. God Himself is necessary for this—not merely what we have learned already. I think that this is a weighty truth and most practical. We all know the tendency there is in men to lay up a store for the time to come. I do not deny the value of spiritual knowledge in various ways—whether in helping others, or in forming ourselves a right and holy opinion of circumstances that are passing around. But where the Lord brings out something not previously learned, then Daniel, spite of all that he had known before, is utterly powerless. He is most of all prostrated in this last vision, and realizes more than ever the nothingness of everything within him. He is thrown entirely upon God for power to stand up and enter into what the Lord was about to make known to him. The same thing appears in the Apostle John, who had lain in the Savior's bosom while on earth, and of all the disciples had most entered into His thoughts. Yet, let that Savior stand before him in His glory, to make known to him His mind about the future, and what was even the Apostle John? The Lord has to lay His hand upon him, bidding him fear not. He has to encourage him by what He was Himself—the Living One who had died but was alive again, and had the keys of death and hides. Therefore it was that he was to listen with the most perfect confidence, because that was what Christ was. There was no power but must fail before Him.
Daniel, in his measure, enters into this here. The death of the flesh must always be realized before the life of God can be enjoyed. This is important, practically. In the grace that brings salvation, it is not that death must be learned first, and life afterward. Life in Christ comes to me as a sinner, and that life exposes the death in which I lay. If I must realize my death in order for that life to come to me, it would be evidently man set into his true place, as a preparation for his blessing from God. That is not grace. “That which was from the beginning,.... which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life.” That is to say, it is the person of Christ Himself, who comes and gives the blessing. After that the soul learns that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” It learns that if we say that we have light—fellowship with Him who is light—and yet walk in darkness, we he and do not the truth. All the practical learning of what God is, and what we are, follows the manifestation of life to us in the person of Christ. If you speak of the order as to a sinner, it is sovereign grace which gives life in Another; but if of the order of progress in the believer, it is not so. The believer having already got life, must mortify all that pertains to him, merely in nature, in order that that life should be manifested and strengthened. That is all-important for the saint, as the other is for the sinner. Man in his natural state does not believe that he is dead, but he is laboring to get life. He wants life: he has none. It is Another alone that brings and gives it to him in perfect grace—seeing only evil in him, but coming with nothing but good, and bringing it in love. This is Christ. But in the believer's case, having already found life in Him, there must be the judgment of the evil, in order that that new and divine life should be developed and grow. So that, while to the one it is life exposing the death and meeting the man in death and delivering him from it, to the other it is the practical putting to death everything that has already existence naturally in him. All that must have the sentence of death put upon it, in order that the life be unhindered in its growth and manifestation.
Daniel was proving this as the practical means of entering into, and being made the suited witness of the wonders that the Spirit of God was about to bring before him. Hence, whatever might have been the favor in which he stood,—and he was, “a man greatly beloved,” —nevertheless, death must be realized by his soul. “And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” And then we have an intimation brought out to him how it was that there had been such a delay. “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one-and-twenty days; but lo I Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me: and I remained there with the Kings of Persia.” Here, I apprehend, we have another person speaking. Not the first and glorious one that Daniel had seen, but used as a servant—an angel, in fact, that the other employed. The last chapter will prove clearly that there was more than one person sent: and it is plain from the language of the speaker that he is subordinate. Daniel is encouraged by learning that from the first day that he had set his heart to understand and to chasten himself before God, his words were heard. He did not receive the answer the first day nor the second. Not until one-and-twenty days after did the answer arrive, and yet it was sent from God the very first day. Of course, he could at once have given it. But what then? First of all, the terrible struggle that is always raging between the instruments of God and the emissaries of Satan would not have been so dearly understood. Then, again, faith and patience would not have had their perfect work.
I am not forgetting that the Holy Ghost is sent down now to dwell in the hearts of believers in a way not known then. For, although the Spirit of God was always at work in the holy prophets and in holy men, yet the abiding indwelling of the Holy Ghost was that which was not and could not be until Jesus was glorified, and the great work of redemption was wrought, in virtue of which the Holy Ghost was sent down from heaven; to take his abode in the hearts of those that believe, the seal of the blessing which is theirs in Christ. So that, besides this outward, providential care of God, so beautifully brought out here, we have this blessed, divine person constituting our bodies the temple of God. Yet the outward struggles go on. The same thing that hindered Daniel from having the manifest answer to his prayer, may hinder us from having the answer of circumstances. The answer of faith we ought always to reckon on at once; the answer of circumstances, governed of God, so as to bring out a manifest answer, we may have to wait for. Daniel had, and the reason is given us. From verse 13 we learn, that although God had sent the answer from the very first day, the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood for twenty-one days exactly the time that Daniel was kept in mourning and fasting before God. “But lo! Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the Kings of Persia.” Plainly it is an angel that speaks. It would be derogatory to the Lord to suppose that He was the One who needed help from one of His own angels. But Michael was mentioned here, because he was well-known to be the archangel, who took a special guardian care over the nation of Israel. So that, however people may make a mock at the truth of the interposition and guardianship of angels, yet scripture is quite clear about it. Romanism, as we know, has made them objects of adoration. But the truth itself is of special interest. That angels are employed of God in particular services is plain from the word of God. Nor was this merely a new truth. We find that Jude mentions as a well-known circumstance the contention of Michael the archangel with the devil about the body of Moses. The same truth comes out again in this. It was Michael's care over the Jewish people. He knew their tendency to idolatry, and that the man whom they had rebelled against during life, they would make an idol of after his death. And thus, Michael, as the instrument of blessing on God's part to Israel, contends with Satan, so that the body of Moses was not found—the Lord being said to have buried it; though the instrument that the Lord employed was Michael. Now here we have this interesting ray of light cast upon earthly circumstances. The powers of this world may be governing, but angels have not given up their functions. There are the devil and his angels, and Michael and the holy angels with him, brought forward again in the last book of the Bible. The facts of Christ having come, and of the Holy Ghost having been given, do not supersede this. On the contrary, we know that there will be one most tremendous conflict at the close between the holy angels and the wicked ones, when the heavens shall be forever cleared of those evil powers that had for so long defiled them. This is most interesting, as showing the perfect patience of God. Because we know that with a word He could put down the devil and all his host. But He does not. He allows Satan even to venture into the lower heavens—nay, still to have possession of them. Therefore it is that he is called “the prince of the power of the air,” as he is called elsewhere “the prince” and “the god of this world.” But I believe it is only there that he is prince. We never read of such a thing as Satan being prince in hell. It is a favorite dream of great poets, and of small ones too, but we never read of it in Scripture. What it shows us is, that his real power now is either in the heavens or on the earth; but that when he is broken, both in his heavenly usurpation first, and then in his earthly power, he is east down to hell; and that instead of being a king in hell, he will be the most miserable object of the vengeance of God. The solemn thing is, that he is reigning here now, and people do not feel it. His worst reign is that which he acquired—not that which he had before. The death of Christ, although it is the ground on which he will eventually lose all his power, was, nevertheless, the means by which he became the great usurping power, opposing God in all his thoughts about this world. But here is a thought that is of importance for us. If God permits such a thing as this—if He allows the presence of this evil one, the enemy of His Son in heaven itself—if, instead of the crucifixion of Christ leading God to deprive Satan of all his power, we find Him after this displaying His greatest longsuffering, what a lesson this is for us not to trouble ourselves about circumstances! No man has ever trodden these unknown regions: there has been none to tell us about them except the word of Ged, which lays it bare before us. We do not know all of course; but we know enough to see that there is this tremendous power of evil opposed to God, and that the power of God is always and infinitely mightier than the power of evil. Evil is but an accident which has got into the world through the rebellion of the creature against God. By “accident,” I mean that it was only the creature's interrupting for a time the purposes of God; while in truth it but served to bring them out with brighter luster. To bless heaven and earth was the plan of God, and that will stand. Evil will be banished from the scene, and evil men will suffer the awful consequences of having rejected the only good and blessed One.
But while the certainty of all this has been made known to faith before the execution of the thoughts of God, we have the view opened to us of the grave conflict that is unseen. This puts faith to the test. Daniel had to go on waiting, mourning, praying, spreading out all before God. We see in him the perseverance of faith—praying always. And how was his faith not rewarded! For when the angel does come, he makes known this at the bidding of the glorious One who had first appeared to Daniel. It was the prince of the kingdom of Persia who had withstood him one-and-twenty days; but Michael had come to his help.
I may also observe that we have all important hint in the next verse, of the main objects that God had an eye to in this prophecy. Only persons that have read much know the torture the chapter has suffered by men's own thoughts brought to explain it by. The pope, of course, has been very prominently introduced into it. And then the daring soldier of the early days of this century is found in it too: I allude, of course, to Napoleon. In short, whatever has been going on in the world of extraordinary interest, persons have tried to find it in Dan. 11. The 14th verse of chap. 10. puts to the rout all such thoughts. “I am come,” says the angel, “to make thee know what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.”
Nothing can be plainer. It is put as a sort of frontispiece to the prophecy to show that the great thought of God for the earth is the Jewish people, and the main design of this prophecy is what must befall them in the latter days. We have the series of the history almost from the day in which Daniel lived, but the latter days are the point of it. Prophecy in general may afford to give a little earnest close at hand, but we never see the full drift of it, save in the latter day; and then the thoughts and plans of God always have, as their earthly center, the Jews and their Messiah. I do not mean to deny that the Church is a far higher thing than the Jews, and the relations of Christ to the Church nearer and deeper than His relations to the Jews. But you do not lose Christ and the Church, because you believe in His link with Israel. Nay, if you believe not this, you confound them with your own relations to Christ, and both are lost, as far as definite knowledge and full enjoyment go. This is for want of looking at Scripture as a whole. If chap. 10. had been read as an introduction to chap. 11., such a mistake might not have been made. But some read Scripture very much as others preach it. A few words are taken and are made the motto of a discourse, which perhaps has no real connection with the scope of that passage—perhaps not with any other in the Bible. The thoughts may be true enough abstractedly, but what we want is a help to understand the word of God as a whole, as well as the details. If you were to take a letter from a friend and were merely to fasten upon a sentence or a part of one, in the middle of it, and dislocate it from the rest, how could you understand it? And yet Scripture has infinitely larger connections than anything that could be written on our part; and therefore there ought to be far stronger reasons for taking Scripture in its connection than the little effusions of our own mind. This is a great key to the mistakes which many estimable people make in the interpretation of Scripture. They may be men of faith too; but still it is difficult to rise above their ordinary habits. The prophecy before us shows the importance of the principle I have been insisting on. Take the ordinary books on this prophecy—no matter when, where, or by whom written; and you will find that the great effort is to make a center of their own days, &c. Here is the answer to all. Neither Rome, nor the papacy, nor Napoleon is the object of the prophecy, but “what shall befall thy people (Daniel's people, the Jews) in the latter days.”
We then find Daniel expressing in humbleness of mind his unfitness for receiving such communications. First, one like the similitude of the sons of men touches his lips and he is instructed to speak unto the Lord. He confesses his weakness—that there was no strength left in him. But “there came again and touched him one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man, greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be unto thee; be strong, yea, be strong.” Men, until they are thoroughly established in peace, until their hearts know the real source of strength, are not capable of profiting by prophecy.
Here we find Daniel set upon his feet, his mouth opened, his fears hushed, before the Lord can open out the future to him. His heart must be in perfect peace in the strength of the Lord and in the presence of his God. Anxiety of spirit, the want of settled peace has more to do than people think with the little progress that they make in understanding many parts of God's word. It is not enough that a man have life and the Spirit of God; but there must be the breaking down of the flesh and the simple, peaceful resting in the Lord. Daniel must go through this scene in order to fit him for what he is to learn, and so must we in our measure. We must realize that same peace and strength in the Lord. If I am in terror of the Lord's coming, because I am not sure of how I shall stand before Him, how can I honestly rejoice that it is so near? There will be a hindrance in my spirit to the clear understanding of the mind of God on that subject. The reason of that lack of competence is not want of learning, but of being thoroughly established in grace—the want of knowing what we are in Christ Jesus. No matter what other things there may be—nothing will repair that sad deficiency. I speak now of Christian men. As for mere scholars dabbling in these things, it is as completely out of their sphere as a horse would be in pretending to judge of the mechanism of a watch. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” It is only a scribe of this age meddling with what belongs to another world.
We have a rapid survey of what was about to befall Israel in the latter days. It is the same speaker here as in chap. 10. “Also I, in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. And now will I show thee the truth. Behold there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia.” There we have the succession of Persian monarchs from Cyrus. Scripture does show us who these were, although their names are not mentioned here. I would refer you to Ezra 4., where you will find these very three kings mentioned. In Ezra 4. the occasion arose out of the attempt of the enemies of Israel to stop the building of the temple: and these hired “counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus, king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.” Now in order to understand that chapter, you must bear in mind that, from the sixth verse down to the end of verse 23, is a parenthesis. The beginning and end of the chapter refer to events during the reign of Darius. But the Spirit of God goes back to show that these adversaries had been working from the days of Cyrus till the days of Darius. Consequently, in the parenthesis from verse 6-23 inclusively, you have the various monarchs that had come between Cyrus and Darius, whose minds the adversaries had been trying to work upon. “In the reign of Ahasuerus,” i.e., the successor of Cyrus, called in profane history Cambyses, “in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.” Then we have the next king. “And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam,” &c. This is a different person from the Artaxerxes mentioned in Nehemiah, who lived at a later epoch, and is called in profane history Smerdis the magician, who by wicked means acquired the crown for a time, and lent an ear to the accusations against the Jews. This usurper was put to death through a conspiracy headed by Darius, not the Mede of Daniel, but the Persian spoken of in the book of Ezra. Darius Hystaspes was his historical name. He follows immediately: so that we have these three kings mentioned in Ezra 4. exactly answering to the three in Dan. 11:2. Thus we find one part of Scripture throwing light upon another, without the need of going into the territories of man at all. “Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia.” These came after Cyrus and were called in Scripture, as we have seen, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, and Darius: and in profane history Cambyses, Smerdis the magician, and Darius Hystaspes. “And the fourth shall be far richer than they all; and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.” That is the celebrated Xerxes, who stirred up all against Greece. This confirms an idea thrown out on a former occasion that the reason of the he-goat's coming with such fury against Persia, was in return for the Persian assault upon Greece. Xerxes was the man who made that great attempt. His riches are proverbially known, and no event made so profound an impression on the world then as that expedition against Greece and its consequences. Then, in verse 3, Persia, the ram of chap. 8., is dropped, and we find the he-goat of that chapter, or rather its horn. “A mighty king shall stand up that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.” That is Alexander. “And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven.” That was true at his death: the Greek empire was then broken into fragments. “And not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up even for others besides those.” It was not to be a single head getting rid of the family of Alexander and taking possession of his kingdom. This was to be divided into a number of parts, four more particularly; and out of these four divisions two acquire an immense importance. But what constitutes their chief importance here? When God speaks of things upon the earth, He always measures from Israel; because Israel is His earthly center.
Hence it is that the powers which meddle with Israel are those that in God's view are important. This is the reason why the other kingdoms are not noticed: only those of the north and of the south. And why are they so described? Palestine is the place from which God reckons. The king of the north means north of the land that His eyes were upon; and the southern power means south of that same land. These are the countries commonly called Syria and Egypt. These two are referred to throughout the chapter, the other divisions of Alexander's empire being put aside. Only those are looked at which had to do with Israel. Now we are told that “the king of the south shall be strong” —he is the person well known as one of the Ptolemies or Lagidae— “and one of his princes” (i.e., of the chiefs of Alexander); “and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.” This is another person, the first king of the north, who rises in strength above Ptolemy. In profane history he is called Seleucus. The descendants of both these and their strife is often spoken of in the history of the Maccabees. There minute accounts are given of the transactions predicted in this chapter: and of the two, what God says in few words is infinitely more to the point than man's long tale.
But let us look a little at some of these events. “And in the end of years they (i.e., the kings of the north and of the south) shall join themselves together. For the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement.” One remark before going further. In this chapter it is not the same king of the north, nor the same king of the south, that we have all the way through, but a great many different ones. The same official title runs all through. As people say in law, The king, or the queen, never dies. That is just the way we are to look at it here. This sixth verse is an instance. “In the end of years they shall join themselves together.” They are not the same kings of the north and south who had been spoken of in verse 5, but their descendants. “In the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement.” They made, not only an alliance, but a marriage between their families. “But she shall not retain the power of the arm.” The attempt to make a cordial understanding between Syria and Egypt, by marriage, would be a failure. Of course, this was exactly verified in history. There was such a marriage, and the king of the north even got rid of his former wife in order to marry the daughter of the king of the south. But it only made matters a great deal worse. They had hoped to terminate their bloody wars, but it really laid the foundation of an incomparably deeper grudge between them. As it is said here, “Neither shall he stand nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times. But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them and prevail.” It was not her seed, but her brother—out of the same parental stock. She was one branch and he another. The brother of this Berenice, daughter of the Egyptian king, comes up to avenge the murder of his sister, and prevails against the king of the north. Here we have the explanation confirmed of what the kingdom of the south is. “He shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.” “So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.” There you have Egypt triumphant for a time; but the tide was soon to turn. “His sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces. And one shall certainly come, (the other disappeared,) and overflowed and pass through; then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress. And the king of the south shall be moved with choler.” Now comes another war at a subsequent date: and this time it is the south returning the blow of the north. “The king of the south shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.” There the Spirit of God refers to several notable facts. The two principal actors are the kings of Syria and Egypt. There was the hand that lay between them—a sort of burdensome stone to these kings who made it their battle-field, which ever went to the conqueror. If the king of the north was victorious, Palestine fell under Syria; and in the same way if the king of Egypt got the better. But God never allowed rest to those who took His land. They might intermarry and contract alliances; but it only proved the prelude to graver outbreaks—brothers, sons, grandsons, &c., taking up the quarrels of their kindred. “The Scripture cannot be broken.” All was distinctly laid down there beforehand.
“And when he hath taken away the multitude his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands; but he shall not be strengthened by it.” Then we find that the king of the north returns and “sets forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army, and with much riches. And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south; also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision.” Allow me to call attention to these words. It at once settles the question that might be asked. How do you know that Daniel's people do not mean God's people in a spiritual sense? The answer is given here— “the robbers of thy people.” It at once puts aside the plea for a spiritual sense. We could hardly talk about “robbers” in that case. This confirms what ought not to have needed further evidence—that Daniel's people mean the Jewish people and nothing else. Here we find that some of the Jews form a connection with one of these contending monarchs of the north. These are called here “the robbers of thy people,” and take the part of Antiochus, the king of the north, against Ptolemy Philopator, or rather his son, but all came to naught. The Syrian king might hope that by bringing in this new element, by getting the countenance of the Jews, perhaps God would be with him. But no. They were the robbers of the people—unfaithful to God, and not holding fast their separation front the Gentiles. They, too, might think to establish the vision, “but they shall fall.”
“So the king of the north shall come and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities; and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, (that is the king of the north,) and none shall stand before him; and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.” Another remarkable thing that we see here is that the Spirit of God still holds to the importance of that little strip of land—the territory of Palestine. It was God's gift to God's people. Whatever might be its deplorable condition, it is the glorious land still. God repents not of His purposes: “He will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land.” And if, when it is a question of God's earthly purposes, He thus holds to them, spite of every hindrance, what will He not do for His heavenly people? Who can doubt that he will bring them to heavenly glory?
“He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her; but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.” This is another attempt at marriage; only it is the converse. It is not now the king's daughter of the south coming to the king of the north; but the king of the north gives his daughter Cleopatra to the king of the south, hoping that she will maintain Syrian influence in the court of Egypt. That is what is called here “corrupting her;” because it was plainly contrary to the very essence of the marriage-tie: it was an attempt to use her in order to serve his political purposes. “But she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.” All the pleas—the innermost secret of their hearts, come out here. There is another disgrace, which is not only known to God, but is made known to His servants.
“After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many; but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.” That is, Antiochus meddles with Greece, and takes many of the isles; but this other prince, for his own behalf, takes up the contest against the king of the north. Here we have the entrance upon the scene of a new power—the first allusion to the Romans. A Roman consul is meant by the prince that comes on his own behalf against the king of the north. He will not allow Greece to be touched. It was one of the Scipios who interfered. “Then he shall turn his face towards the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall and not be found.” He is obliged to return to Syria, but he shall stumble and fall.
“Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes, in the glory of the kingdom.” The Romans, who defeated the father, obliged his son to raise a heavy annual tribute. That was all that the poor man did during his life. “Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger nor in battle.” He was killed by one of his own sons. “And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overthrown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also, the princes of the covenant. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up and shall become strong with a small people.” This is the man who typifies the last king of the north; called in profane history Antiochus Epiphanes; morally abominable, but most notorious for his interference with the Jews, first by flattery and corruption, and afterward by violence. This is the man the Spirit of God dwells most on, because he most meddled with Israel, the glorious land and the sanctuary. He it was who enforced idolatry in the temple itself, setting up an image to be worshipped even in the holy of holies. Therefore it is that he acquires importance. Otherwise he was a man little known, except for daring wickedness. Nothing can be more simple. His history consists of intrigues, first against the king of the south, and then against the Jews; and of various expeditions, in some of which he was successful at first, but afterward entirely defeated. “He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his father's fathers..... And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand.” These kings try to plan against each other, but all is defeated. “Both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper; for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land (i.e., in the north.) At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.” Then we have further details.
“For the ships of Chittim shall come against him.” There are these indefatigable Romans that come in again. They had dealt with his father when he had made an attack upon Greece; and now that the son had his hand over the throat of his prey, the Roman consul came, and at once forbad his doing anything further. He even drew a circle round him, as is well known, when the artful king wished to gain time to evade. The answer was demanded before he stepped out of the circle, and he was obliged to give it. This was a death-blow to all his policy. He went home a miserable defeated man, with a heart utterly infuriate, though putting on a humble appearance before the Romans. He goes, therefore, to wreak out all the anger of his heart upon the Jews. As it is said here “Therefore shall he be grieved, and return and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.” Poor as the Jews were, they were the only witnesses for God upon the earth, and he hastens to pour out his fury upon whatever bore a testimony to God among them. This was his ruin, and brought God's vengeance upon him. “He shall even return and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant,” i.e., with the apostates of the Jews. “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” He will put an end to the Jewish service and will set up an idol, “the abomination that maketh desolate,” in the temple of Jerusalem. It is a mistake to suppose that this refers to the last days. It is only a type of what will take place then. The latter part of the chapter, and the next chapter, do refer to the latter day in the full sense of the word. But here is the step of transition from what is past to the future. You come down in regular historical order to Antiochus Epiphanes, and then we meet with a great break. Scripture itself intimates as much. But Antiochus did on a small scale what the great northern king of the latter day will do on a larger one. It is said, (v. 35,).... “even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.” There God stops. He says, as it were, I have come to the man that shows you in type what is to befall you in the latter days; and so He dwells emphatically upon this king, laying before them the extreme wickedness of his heart and conduct. The Spirit then stops the course of the history, and plunges at once into the last scene. This, however, must be reserved for another occasion. What we have seen shows us that whatever may be the general outline of events elsewhere, God can be, and sometimes is, singularly minute in the details of a prophecy, and no where more so than in this very chapter. And what is the great objection raised by infidels against it? That it must have been written after the events had taken place? Certain it is, that there is no one historian of these times who gives us such an admirable account as we have in these few verses. If I want to know the history of these two contending monarchies, Syria and Egypt, I must look here. How entirely we can confide in the word of God about everything! It may be an exception to His general rule to dwell upon the kings of the north and of the south, but He does so at times. The great thing on which He bestows care is the souls of His people. May our hearts answer to the interest that He takes in us!

Remarks on Daniel 11:36-45

FROM the twenty-first verse we have had the account of the king of the north, known in profane history as Antiochus Epiphanes. The Spirit of God has entered into much fuller detail in speaking of his history, because his conduct, specially at the close, in meddling with the Jews, and their city, and their sanctuary, furnished the occasion for a type of the last king of the north, who will be found following in his predecessors' wake, save that his guilt will be incomparably graver in the sight of God—so flagrant, indeed, that His judgment can tarry no longer. This accounts for a circumstance that has often perplexed the students of Daniel's prophecy. We read of an abomination of desolation in the predicted account of Antiochus; (11: 31); and it has been commonly supposed that our Lord refers to this in Matt. 24:15. Those who looked for the future fulfillment of this abomination have sought to reconcile it with the facts, by the assumption that the Spirit of God must have branched out into the future personage that Antiochus represented. But in my judgment there is no need for anything so unnatural. Antiochus Epiphanes was only a type, and verse 31 does not go beyond his history, save as a foreshadowing.
In other words, to the end of verse 31 all is strictly historical—typical, of course, of the future, but nothing more. And therefore the answer to the difficulty that some find in our Lord's quoting, as they suppose Dan. 11:31, is really as plain as possible. He does not quote this verse. The passage he refers to is in chap. 12. In chap. 12:11, you will find an expression similar to this. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” There we have a defined date, which connects this last setting up of the desolating abomination with the deliverance our Lord predicts in Matt. 24., and Jacob's most fiery trial is that which just precedes his deliverance. Now there are more reasons than one for believing this passage in Dan. 12. to be what our Lord cites. Some of them depend upon considerations more fit for the study than for public ministry. But the sum of the matter is, that the expressions the Holy Ghost employs in chap. 11:31, and in chap. 12: 11, differ. In chap. 11: 31, it means the abomination of him that desolates, or of the desolater. Whereas, in chap. 12: 11 The true meaning is that which is given in our Lord's words—not the abomination of him that maketh desolate, but “the abomination of desolation;” which is, I suppose, what is meant in the English version by the words, “that maketh desolate.” Thus the two phrases are distinct. Although there is a resemblance between them, there is also a difference; and that difference is enough to show that our Lord spoke not of the abomination set up by Antiochus, but of that mentioned in chap. 12. Consequently, there is, in fact, no difficulty to be removed; because the desolation spoken of in chap. 11. is past—the desolation (chap. 12.) that our Lord draws attention to is future. That this is so will appear from other considerations also. Thus, in the verses that follow, we have a state of things distinct from what will be in the future tribulation of Israel. “Such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries; but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” Now we find from the Revelation, and other parts of Scripture that speak about the future of Israel, that the godly remnant could hardly be said to do exploits. They will suffer; but I do not think that deeds of power thus characterize the blessed ones who are to pass through the dreadful crisis of the future. In the days of Antiochus, it was not so much suffering, but “being strong, and doing exploits” —exactly what was true of the Maccabees and others, who undoubtedly were not so much a baud of martyrs as a set of men who roused the spirit of Israel, and resisted the cruel and profane scourge of that day. Again, we read, “And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.” There is a long period, observe, of sorrow and trouble, that follows the outburst of courage and prowess against the desolater, and this is still continued in further verses. “Now, when they shall fall, they shalt be holpen with a little help; but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed” —clearly showing that this is before the time of the end. The Spirit of God is here referring to what has already taken place. And then we have a picture of terrible desolation that goes on, as it is said, “to the time of the end.” I infer, then, that the Spirit of God singles out the desolation that then befell the people of Israel, and the defiling of the sanctuary under Antiochus or his generals. This brought vividly out the circumstances of the last days; but along with them certain other circumstances were added, that ought not to be expected in those days. In other words, we arrive at what may be called the long and dreary blank that severs the past history of Israel, and the struggles in their land against neighboring aggressors, from the great crisis of the last days. This is where the true break occurs. Certain disasters were to go on “to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed.” There is no place in the chapter where the interruption of the history: so well fits in as after verse 35.
But now, in verse 36, at once we have a person abruptly introduced into the scene. We are not told who he was, or where he came from; but the character that is given of him, the scene that he occupies, the history that the Spirit of God enters into in connection with him, all declare too plainly that it is the terrible king who will set himself up in the land of Israel in personal antagonism to the Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus. He it was of whom our Lord spoke when he said that if they refused Him who had come in His Father's name, they would receive another coming in his own name, Nor is this the only passage of Scripture, where this same false Christ, or rather Antichrist (for there is a difference between the terms), is described as “the king.” Not only have we different references to him under other epithets, but in the first great and comprehensive prophecy of Scripture, Isaiah, we have him introduced in an equally abrupt manner. In Isa. 30 we have an enemy of Israel, called the Assyrian. Doubtless, looking at past history, Sennacherib was their great head in that day. But he only furnished the opportunity to the Spirit of God to bring out the future and final adversary of Israel. His fall is here brought before us. “For through the voice of the Lord, shall the Assyrian be beaten down who smote with a rod. And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps, and in battles of shaking will He fight with it.” After the end of that victory there will be exceeding joy for Israel; instead of the train of sorrow which most victories bring, there follows unfeigned gladness before the Lord. “It shall be with tabrets and harps.” For the enemy there will be proportionate misery. Sometimes still more awful and unending than temporal destruction falls upon the proud foe. “For Tophet is ordained of old, yea, for the king it is prepared: He hath made it deep and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.” In our version there is a singular obscurity, remarked by another, in this verse. At first sight it might appear that the Assyrian and “the king” were the same person. The true rendering is “For the king also it is prepared” —that is, Tophet is prepared for the Assyrian, but besides, for THE KING also. Just as in our passage in Daniel, we have the Assyrian or king of the north on the one hand, and “the king” on the other. The same frightful end awaits them both. But I only refer to this now for the purpose of showing that the expression “the king” is not unprecedented in Scripture, and that it applies to a notorious person that the Jews were taught in prophecy to expect. God, in judicial retribution for their rejection of the true Christ, would give them up to receive the Antichrist. This is “the king.” He would arrogate to himself the royal rights of the true king, the Anointed of God. Tophet was prepared for the king of the north, and also for “the king.”
But this is not all. In Isa. 57 we have him introduced with similar abruptness. In chap. 55. are shown the moral qualities that God will produce in His people. In chapter 57. He shows us the fearfully iniquitous state then also found in Israel. And in that day God will no longer endure anything but reality. Forms of piety, covering uncleanness and ungodliness, will have passed away. There “the king” is suddenly introduced to us (v. 9). “Thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.” To have to do with him was to debase oneself unto hell. No wonder that for “the king also” Tophet was prepared. This shows that before the mind of Israel from the first there was one that the Spirit of God led them to expect to reign over the land in the last days, who is Called “the king.”
This at once furnishes a most important clue to Dan. 11. We are come to the time of the end. The bank is closed—the long dark night of Israel's dispersion is well-nigh over. The Jews are in the land. In what condition? Are they under Christ? Alas I there is another and a terrible scene that must first be enacted there. “The king” that we have read of is there, and the course he pursues is just what we might expect from the landmarks of the Holy Ghost. “The king shall do according to his will.” Ah! are any of us sufficiently aware what a fearful thing it is to be the doers of our own will? Here is the end of it. It was the first great characteristic of sin from the beginning. It is what Adam did, and the fall of the world was the immediate result. Here is one who at that day may seem to be the loftiest and most influential of Adam's sons. But he does according to his will.” And nothing worse. Are we to read such a history as this without moral profit to our own souls? To forget what an evil thing it is ever to be the doers of our own will? Let none suppose that, because they may be in a position to rule, they are therefore outside the danger. Alas! it is not so—no one thing so unfits a person for righteous rule as the inability to obey. It is good first to know what it is to be subject. Oh! may it strike deep into all our hearts, that “the king,” the Antichrist, is first stamped as one doing his own will. May it test us how far we are seeking ours! How far, under any circumstances, we are doing or allowing anything, that we could not wish every soul in this world to see—perhaps even those that are nearest to us. Alas! one knows the difficulty and danger in these things from one's own heart, from experience and observation. Yet there is no one thing more contrary to that Christ that we have learned. We are sanctified “unto the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” It is not only to the blessing, the sprinkling of the blood—but to the obedience of Jesus Christ—to the same spirit and principle of obedience; for that is the meaning of the expression. We are not like the Jews who were put under the law, and whose obedience had this character—bound to do such and such things under penalty of death. We are already alive unto God, conscious of the blessedness in which we stand, and awakened to see the beauty of the will of God, for His will it is which has saved and sanctified us. This is our calling, and our practical work here below. Christians have no other business, properly speaking, than to do the will of another. We have to do God's will according to the character of the obedience of Christ—as sons delighting in the will of our Father. It does not matter what we may have to do. It may be one's natural daily occupation. But do not make two individuals of yourselves—with one principle in your business or family, and another for the church and worship of God. Never allow such a thought. We have Christ for everything and every day. Christ is not a blessing for us merely when we meet together or are called to die: but if we have Christ, we have Him forever, and from the first moment we are emancipated from doing our own will. That we learn is death; but it is gone now in Christ's death. We are delivered, for we are alive in Him risen. But what are we delivered for? To do the will of God. We are sanctified unto the obedience of Jesus Christ.
As for “the king,” you have in him the awful principle of sin that has always been at work, but which here exceeds all bounds. The moment has come when God will remove the providential checks which up to that time, He will have put upon men, when Satan will be allowed to bring about all his plans; and that, too, in the very land whereon the eyes of God rest continually.
“The king shall do according to his own will; and he shall exalt himself and magnify himself” —not only above every man, but “above every god.” And it is not only that he takes his place above these so-called gods, but “he shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods.” And, strange to say, (if one did not know the perfect wisdom of God, and could not wait for His counsels to be matured,) in spite of his fearful profanity, “he shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.” There at once is a word that gives us the key to the passage. For some have found immense difficulties in this portion of the word of God. Many have transported into this verse the Pope of Rome, others Mahomet or Bonaparte. But here we find that this king is to prosper till the indignation be accomplished. What, or about whom? Has God indignation against His Church? Never. This is the time of the perfect patience of God—not of His indignation. With whom, then, is it connected? The word of God is perfectly plain. It is when dealing with Israel that God speaks of indignation I have already shown that fully from Isa. 5; 10; 14, and other passages, as it is entirely confirmed by the whole nature of the revelation here. For we read of one that would be the king of Israel—not in Constantinople or Rome, but in Palestine. And the time is a future outburst of indignation against Israel in the promised land. He (the false king) shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women. The expression, “the desire of women,” clearly, to my mind, refers to Christ—the one to whom all Jews were looking forward, and whose birth must have been above all things desired by Jewish women. It is plain from the connection that such is the true meaning. For it occurs between “the God of his fathers” (Jehovah) and any god.” Nothing is less likely than, if it had merely referred to natural relationships, that it would have been thus placed. It was, probably, from the wish to apply this to the pope that such an interpretation has found currency. But let us only understand that the prophecy concerns Israel and their land, and all is plain. “He shall not regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women.” Christ is distinguished from the God of his fathers, perhaps, because the Son was to become incarnate. But Christ is regarded no more than the God of his fathers—an expression, by the way, which implies that he himself is a Jew. It is “the God of his fathers.” “For he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces.” It is not that he goes forward as Antiochus did, trying to force Jupiter Olympius upon the Jews; but he adopts a new superstition. This also disproves the reference to Antiochus, who was a Gentile. Here it is a Jew, who will take the place of the Christ, and who, of course, regards neither the true Christ nor Jehovah.
It is a self-exalting personage who opposes the true God, i.e., who equally sets aside the superstitions of men and the faith of God's people. Self-exaltation is his marked feature.
But that is not all. The antichrist will be infidel, but not merely infidel. He will have rejected the God of Israel, and the Messiah. Nor will he honor any of the gods of the Gentiles. But even this man, although he sets himself up as the true God upon the earth, will, for all that, have some one to whom he bows and causes others to bow along with himself. The human heart, even in antichrist, cannot do without an object of Idolatry. So, in ver. 38, there is this apparent inconsistency that comes out in the antichrist. “But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces.” He makes a god, as well as setting himself up to be God. “A god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.” It is entirely an invention of his own. More than that. He will divide the land among his adherents. “He shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.” There we have God's account of this king that will be found in Palestine in the last days. And it is plain that this last verse is a most conclusive proof that he is in Palestine reigning, It is “the land.” The Spirit of God never so speaks of any other country. It was that land which was nearest to God—a sort of center for all others.
Here we have a change in the history. “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him.” This confirms what was said before—that “the king” is found “at the time of the end.” Then “shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots and with horsemen, and with many ships.” The Spirit of God had long before spoken about the kings of the north and of the south. It was important to show that at the time of the end these powers will have successors, who will make their push at “the king” in the holy land. “The king of the south” —that is, Egypt—and “the king of the north” —that is, the holder of the present Syrian possessions of the Sultan. These two persons shall make a movement against “the king.” Not that they have a common policy: on the contrary, they seem bitter enemies one of another. But “the king” so exalts himself, arrogating to himself such pretensions in the holy land, that God permits the final catastrophe to arrive. The king of the south comes first, and then the king of the north, who appears to be the great military and naval leader of the east in those days. “The king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.” “shall enter also into the glorious land.” This can be no other land than that of Israel. The king is there. The northern king is a totally different person, an antagonist of “the king,” as well as the king of the south. The Spirit of God having introduced “the king,”
without telling us whence he came, now drops that personage without telling us what became of him. His frightful destiny shown us fully in other scriptures. But it was important to introduce him as an episode in chap. 11., for the purpose of showing the last great conflict between the kings of the north and of the south. Accordingly he drops “the king,” and the rest of the chapter is occupied with the king of the north. He not only enters the glorious land, but he goes on with conquests elsewhere. “Many countries shall be overthrown, but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom and Moab and the chief of the children of Ammon.” We find from Isa. 11 That this is a very notable fact. These borderers lived on the outskirts of the holy land. God so orders that if they escape the king of the north, they are to be ravaged by the triumphant Israelites. God will not permit that the early and bitter enemies of Israel should meet with their righteous retribution from the hands of any but the people whom they had so sought to oppose and injure. Accordingly, it would appear from Isaiah, that, a very little after, the Israelites execute God's judgment on them.
“He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries; and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” From this we learn that the king of the north is not acting as a colleague with the king of the south. He proceeds down to the south, where, it would appear, (ver. 43,) there will be a great development of material prosperity, whether from the resources of the land itself, or more probably from its becoming the great emporium of western and eastern commerce in that part of the world. “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him.” It is when he is down in the south, beyond Palestine, that he hears these rumors of perplexity in the north and east. He had come himself from the north, and was the conqueror over the east also; and now he has tidings from these quarters that agitate him. He hastens back from the land of Egypt and reaches Palestine. “And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palaces between the seas (that is between the Mediterranean and the Dead seas) in the glorious holy mountain: yet he shall come to his end and none shall help him.” This is the doom of the once victorious king of the north not of “the king” who was introduced by the way to show us the occasion of the final struggle between the north and south.
I would now desire to inquire whether there be not other scriptures of interest to connect with what we have just been looking at. In the close of Zechariah, we shall find information of great interest. Just a word or two first on the end of chap. 11. The Spirit of God there says, “Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock.” This I conceive is clearly the Antichrist— “the king.” For, looking at verse 16, we learn that this idol shepherd is in the land. “Lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit them that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that which is broken, nor feed that that standeth still; but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.” This utter selfishness, and self-exaltation, and spoiling the flock, instead of feeding it and carrying the lambs in his bosom, is in frightful contrast with Christ, the Good Shepherd. Then the false shepherd, Antichrist, is to be raised up in the land of Israel, and there he does not spare the flock of God. In chap. 12. we have another power. It is said, in verse 2, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.” There are nations gathering against Jerusalem. Just as in Dan. 11., the king of the north comes down and the king of the south. Nations assemble against Jerusalem while this idol shepherd is there. Jerusalem and the Jews are the object of attack. “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” Victory seems to incline to the assailants of Israel. But none can then harden themselves against them and prosper, because the Lord will have identified Himself with them in that day. “In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness; and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah;” and then we have the way in which the Lord will defend His people in that day. But what will make it still plainer is that which we read in chap. 14:2, “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” Here we have additional disclosures that you would not have gathered from chap. 12. Thus we learn that “the city shall be taken and half of the city shall go forth into captivity;” evidently distinguishing this future siege from the past. When the Chaldeans took the city, they carried all away captive. When the Romans took it, all they spared were made prisoners of. Were we have another siege, in which half will be taken and the other half not. And if anything can more clearly mark off the future from the past, it is that the nations, having taken half of the city, will not pursue their victory further. Why? “Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.” Who can pretend that that has ever been accomplished? Who can say that the Lord has thus come and stood upon the Mount of Olives? How can you reconcile the past with such a statement as this? The Lord has never been on Jerusalem's soil as a conqueror since that day. Was it thus when Titus besieged it? Do you try to explain it away as merely a providential deliverance? But, I ask, were they delivered then? They were taken captive. Jerusalem to this day remains trodden down to the Gentiles, and must, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. But the passage indicates the times of the Gentiles closing in; the end of Gentile oppression. When this day is verified, and the Lord goes forth to fight against those nations, His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives. And as a mark that this is not to be allegorized, we find that the Spirit adds that the Mount of Olives is to split in twain—an outward physical proof that the Lord God has planted His feet there. “The Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley: and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” “Ye shall flee to the valley of the mountain,” —that is, it will form a valley between the two— “for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal.... and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” Now, then, there we find a most clear proof that there is a future siege of Jerusalem, and that this siege will be characterized by two attacks. The first attack will be successful against Israel; half the city will be taken, and all the miseries of a frightful siege will follow, as far as half the city is concerned; but the other half is reserved for the Lord, who will bring the third part through the fire. He will put Himself at their head, and crush all the nations of the earth that come together against Jerusalem. Thus the second attack will be to the ruin of those that make it. If we connect this with Daniel, how plain is the additional light that we get! The king of the north first comes down when the king of the south is pushing at “the king” in the holy land. There is a simultaneous assault made upon Israel, to destroy the people in the land, who, alas! deserve it. But in the midst of evil there will be a godly seed. God will employ these assailants to do the work of the executioner. The wicked will be taken away, and when God has purged those that are there, there will come another scene. The king of the north having been successful in his first attack, pursues his way towards Egypt, against the king of the south. He comes there, but tidings from the north and east trouble him.
Meanwhile, we may ask, what is become of “the king?” Has he been destroyed in the collision between the kings of the north and of the south, that had taken place in the land? No. What then is become of him How does he fall? By the brightness of the appearing of the Lord from heaven. He is reserved for the hand of God himself. He will be cast alive into a Lake of fire burning with brimstone. “For the king also it is prepared.” Thus we have the Old Testament and the New giving us one concurrent testimony. It will be by no ordinary doom of ruined man that he will perish. It is God departing from all His ordinary ways of dealing with the wicked. Men have been from time to time taken up in the grace of God from this world without passing through death; and there are men for whom it is destined of God to be sent down alive into hell—the terrible contrast of those who are alive when Christ comes, waiting to be taken up to heaven. It will be so with that wicked one, the idol shepherd—the king—and not with him only. The king of the north is a bolder enemy still. “The king” has set himself up in the land, corrupting and apostatizing the people of Israel. He has met with his doom. If only the slightest word of the judgment that had been executed in that land were to reach the king of the north, we can understand how he would be troubled. Whether that is the cause of his hasty return against Israel., or because the ten tribes were in movement, I do not pretend to say. We are not told. But he comes up to the holy land again; and this time, it is to fall under the immediate hand of God—not with the sword of a mighty man, nor with the sword of a mean man. No man, but God, will execute the vengeance upon him. Here we find the reason why there were two attacks. He has gone down, after his first assault on Jerusalem into the south and has pursued certain conquests there. Excited by the tidings referred to, he hastens to return, hoping now to have it all his own way. “Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.”
But I must also ask you to look, before closing, at one or two other passages. Take Isa. 28 and 29., where you will find abundant confirmation of all that I have touched upon in this closing scene. In Isa. 28. you will observe that there are two great powers of evil connected with the land of that day—one “the king,” who is in relation with the people, and in the land; the other the king of the north, who comes down as an antagonistic power. We shall find both these in this chapter. First, Ephraim is mentioned, and the Lord pronounces woe upon “the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower Behold the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which, as a tempest of hail, and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.” There, I apprehend, you have the Assyrian threatened, as this dreadful storm from the north, that would break forth upon Ephraim. If we look at the middle of the chapter, we shall find another thing. We have seen what was the condition of Ephraim, who dwelt in the outskirts of the country. But what was the destiny of Jerusalem, the capital “Because ye have said, (ver. 15,) We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement.” There we have evidently what is connected with “the king” who will be in Jerusalem, and who will form a compact with “the beast,” the great imperial power of that day, to whom Satan will have given his throne. There is harmony between what we have in Isaiah and in Revelation and in Daniel. “We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us.” Mark that. The over flowing scourge is the king of the north, the outside power that is coming down upon them. They of Jerusalem have made a covenant with death and with hell, that is, with instruments of Satan in that day: and they hope by this means to escape the king of the north. I have already shown that the beast, the great power of the west, will be in connection with the “king” at Jerusalem—that the western parts will be the great seat of the beast—that he will command all Europe, that properly belonged to the Roman Empire. When that empire is re-organized, he will be the great instrument of using its strength. “The king” will have made a covenant with him; or, as it is said in chap. ix., he, that is, the Roman prince, will make a covenant with the mass of the Jews. At the close, both are found in Jerusalem, fighting against the Lord and His saints coming from heaven. They will find their supposed strength in this covenant, but it will not stand. The overflowing scourge (the Assyrian) sweeps on, and half the city of Jerusalem is taken. How marvelously does Scripture hang together! Then (Isa. 28:16) comes in the reference to the Lord's laying a foundation-stone in Zion, which is evidently a word for the faithful remnant of that day, however true for us who believe now.
Isa. 24 is the last portion to which I wish to refer. There we have the closing desolation of the city. “Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt. . . Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow; and it shall be unto me as Ariel. And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.” That is the siege spoken of in Zechariah. “And thou shalt be brought down and shalt speak out of the ground,” &c. That is their condition when they are desolated. But mark, in verse 5: Moreover the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust..... Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of Hosts with thunder and with earthquake And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night-vision.” The Lord has gone forth and fought with those nations as He fought in the day of battle. I have brought sufficient evidence from various parts of the word of God, which entirely falls in with, and throws light upon, the very interesting portion of Daniel now before us. All concur in showing most clearly that there is a terrible future for apostate Israel and their western associates; and no less terrible for their confederate eastern adversaries. The covenant with hell will not stand. When the great powers of the world will have, apparently, swept all before them, and have gathered for the last great struggle before Jerusalem, God will take that opportunity for dealing with them after His long term of patience. It will be the closing scene. They will think that universal monarchy is to be in their hands; but it will be God's day for summoning them to judgment. Here I speak of a judgment of nations and of kings—not of the dead before the great white throne.
God is about to deal with the earth—with men in the midst of all their plans. The regeneration of the world will be the great day when the Lord, having weeded out of Israel the transgressors, and used “the king” himself, and the judgment that fell upon him, to separate the true ones of Judah from the wicked, will cause the hour to chime when the account must be settled with the nations. This appears to me to be the simple, straight-forward statement of the truth of God that we have here. We are not to suppose it is merely a question of one great power only. There will be different principles at work. And it is an awful thing to think that these lands where we enjoy such privileges are to be then overspread with the deepest darkness. The covenant with death and with hell will be because of an alliance made with the highly civilized western world. What a humbling thing for the pride of man! Civilization in a day that is past did not keep the mightiest minds from degrading idolatry and filthiness. Alas! we shall have a still worse scene at the close. Christendom will end in restored idolatry, in novel false gods,—in man himself worshipped as God. Such I believe, is the predicted future of this age. But one can keep the heart the same from being entangled with all that leads to it—Christ Himself. May we be occupied with Him; not building upon men's foundations, not hoping their hope, not trusting to progress, or even to religion, so called. If Christ is my object in everything, there is safety there, and nowhere else.

Remarks on Daniel 12

THE trouble of which the prophet speaks, at the beginning of this chapter, is not a thing long after and distinct from the conflicts described at the end of the preceding one, but, as he says himself, “at that time.” So that we have now really come, in looking at the closing events of chap. 11., to the latest period that Daniel brings before us. For it has been often remarked that Daniel never enters upon the reign of glory, but just brings us up to that point. He shows us that which will introduce it, gives us the execution of judgment previous to it, without furnishing many details, and tells us of the kingdom of heaven, that is to fill the whole earth, but he does not describe it. The people of the saints, as he calls the Jews, shall have the whole kingdom under heaven. The truth is, that the Spirit of God had already by others most fully entered into the reign of the Messiah over Israel and the blessedness of their portion; and He was about to predict the same subject by others subsequent to the captivity. And this last was of importance. Because He well knew that many would suppose that the return of the Jews to the Babylonish captivity was the accomplishment of the prophecy. Therefore great pains were taken in some of the latest prophecies, to show that nothing was farther from the fact and that the blessing of Israel was yet future. They are described as being in a miserable condition after they return from Babylon; and the Spirit of God launches out into a distant future as the period when Israel are to be really delivered and blessed according to God's mind. The past return was only a pledge of the full restoration which God intended for them. But Daniel does not enter into this time of blessedness. He brings you up to the moment and then closes. His peculiar object was the times of the Gentiles. His accounts for the remarkable character of his prophecy. He is simply a prophet of the captivity.
In chap. 12., we have what takes place between the judgment of the Gentiles and the ushering of the Jews into their blessing. We have seen “the king” and his wickedness in the holy land, and have also heard of the kings from the north and from the south. Whatever may have appeared to be the temporary power of the great leader of the north against the holy land, “yet he shall come to his end and none shall help him.” Such was his miserable close.
But now comes an interesting question—What will be the condition of Israel at that time? The answer is given in these first verses: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people.” This was the people that Daniel was concerned about. He had no idea of what we call now a Christian people—no notion that there was a time coming, already settled in the counsels of God, when there should no longer be any distinction between Jews and Gentiles, and when both would be formed, by the faith of a crucified Christ, into one body by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. All that was a novelty to Daniel, and the Lord never even gives him to anticipate such a state. Not one prophecy in Daniel, nor in any other, refers to it, though many reveal other particulars which are now realized, as we see in Romans, &c. “Thy people” means, simply and solely, the Jewish people. Daniel was deeply and rightly interested in them, as a Jew, and as a true Israelite of God that felt for the glory of God connected with His people. Accordingly, the Spirit of God communicates to them that at that time there should be a turning-point in Israel's history. Instead of mere providential control—Michael resisting this prince or that, he will stand up for them, undertaking their case and putting down definitely their adversaries; but even then not without a fearful struggle. Their defense was his habitual task. But now he shall stand up to complete the great earthly purposes of God in the deliverance of the Jews.
“And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” There we have the important information that at once distinguishes this standing up of Michael from all times that had ever been. So far from deliverance as yet, the trouble that fell upon the Jews under Titus was more terrible than that winch had befallen them under Nebuchadnezzar. What follows then? That this time of trouble is yet to come. The Spirit of God is describing here that which, having had no answer in the past, must await the future. And, in fact, we have only to look at Jerusalem, and at the present condition of the Jews, to see that this is so. Are they delivered? On the contrary, there is not a country under the sun but what bears its witness, in one way or another, that they are degraded, and out of the land of their glory, where the Lord's eyes rest continually.
There are those who regard what is spoken of here as future, but who say, We must take it spiritually: we must interpret it of the church of God's people now. But, first, it is enough to answer that we have had a long prophecy which was ushered in by the angel to Daniel with the positive announcement that it was what should befall his people in the latter days. This excludes such ideas. Next, observe throughout the prophecy that none but Jews are spoken of as the objects of God's interest up to this time. The holy land was in question, and the conflicts of the north and south around it. Under Christianity, there is no such thing as a holy land. It is mere Judaism or heathenism to regard one place as more sacred than another, now that the full light of Christianity has come in. But if there be a land that is in God's purpose glorious, it is Israel's. Only it loses that character during the Gentile calling. There is the revelation of heavenly things now—not of earthly. And therefore whatever was holy before, in a mere earthly point of view, is passed away for the present, being eclipsed by something brighter. God has other counsels now in view. The ancient people proved themselves to be most unholy in rejecting their own Messiah. And until they are brought as a nation to Jesus, or, in the words of the Revelation, to “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” —until a remnant has got some sort of divine knowledge of Christ, God will not own them. Meanwhile, He has turned to another work, that of forming the Church, which is not referred to here. It is a blessed truth that God has gone out in rich mercy to the Gentiles, but what comfort would this be as to what lay so heavily upon the heart of the prophet? Whereas all is suitable and clear, if we see that his own people are described, and their pas sage through the terrible scene spoke of here, the eve of their deliverance, and that of God. “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered,” &c.
I will show that this is not the testimony of one sacred writer only, but of several. Take the sorrowing prophet Jeremiah, chap. 30. There we have a clear reference to Jacob's great trouble, followed by his mighty deliverance. “These are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah.” Who will contest the meaning of that? “Thus saith the Lord, We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth not travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins as a woman in travail and all faces are turned into paleness?” it is a state of things beyond all that is ordinarily reasonable. Men filled with the deepest anguish, depicted even in their faces, and their courage fled in presence of fearful trouble. The seventh verse explains it. “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it.” As in Daniel, it is a time unprecedented. “It is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jacob, “that worm Jacob,” is the name used for the people regarded in their weakness, as Israel is the name of power. It is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. So far it is the same train of thought in the mind of the Spirit, as we have in Daniel. We have Israel and Judah in question, called by the name that expresses their weakness, as exposed to every kind of calamity from without. It is a day of unparalleled trouble, and the Israel of that day are to be delivered out of it. If I were to look through Isaiah, I might show from the beginning to the end of it, the same thing, only more diffused. I need not dwell upon passages so well known. (Chaps. 1., 2., 10., 14., 17., 22., 24.—35., 49. 66.)
But it may be asked, Have you anything from the New Testament to bring forward? You have been producing passages from the Old Testament. Can you show us something from the New giving the increased and full light of God through His beloved Son? The thought might arise, as it has indeed, that Christianity sets aside the Jews altogether; so that we are to read “the people” merely as the type of those whom God is forming for His praise. Our Lord Himself decides that question in Matt. 24. He shows us that there is a destiny of Israel which Daniel brings before us, and which is not to be applied to any other people under the sun. It is their own portion, both in its sorrows and deliverances. The disciples had said, (ver. 3,) “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the age?” Observe here that the end of “the age” is the only proper meaning. It has no reference to the catastrophe of the world as a material system, but to a certain dispensation running out its course in the world, from which the term is totally distinct. The Lord warns them that they were in danger of being deceived: that persons were to come pretending to be Christ; that there were to be outward troubles; that His testimony was in no way to change the ordinary current of human affairs, for nation is to rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and as regarded the physical state of the world, there would be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes. He is there only preparing them for a fearful crisis that was coming. “All these are the beginnings of sorrows.” “Then shall they deliver you up to the afflicted and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.” Up to verse 15, we have general statements. Then He at once narrows the scene to Jerusalem, and to the land of Judea. He does not continue the account of the gospel of the kingdom traversing the whole world, but shuts up His view to that strip of ground, where God's people dwelt, and to that city near which He then pronounced this very prophecy. “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet. stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth let him understand,)” &c. Here we have positive direction to look at the very book that we are examining. The Lord in His discourse was speaking about the same thing that Daniel predicted in his prophecy. “Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.”
I ask can there be a question as to the meaning of these verses? Does any one doubt what “the holy place” means? Is it ever used in any other sense than the sanctuary of God at Jerusalem? The holy place, as a spot on earth, is invariably in Scripture, the Jewish place of worshipping God. The abomination of desolation means an idol which should bring in desolation upon the Jews. When this, then, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stands in the temple, those who heed Christ are to flee. There is not a word about Gentiles here—not a hint about the Church of God there. Godly people, but Jews, in their own city, are warned, when they see this idol, to flee to the mountains of Judea in the vicinity. “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath-day.” It is not at all a Christian but a Jewish scene. The Lord's day is that which Christians observe. It is the great symbol of our recognition of Christ risen, and of our blessing in Him; but the Sabbath was a sign between God and Israel. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Many, I am, aware, apply this to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and to the great calamities that then befell the Jews. But there is one essential point of difference that ought not to be overlooked. The Jewish people were not delivered then. Whereas when Daniel's prophecy is accomplished, they are, and must be, delivered—not at a subsequent epoch, but at that time. If Daniel is a true prophet, it is not that his prophecy failed, but that it remains to be fulfilled. Our Lord distinctly and positively quotes from that prophecy, and from the very chapter we are considering. And what does He connect with Israel's deliverance? His own coming as the Son of Man from Heaven. Who can say that this has been? The Romans, instead of being broken down in the time of Titus, were allowed to enslave the Jews. These were not then delivered, nor up to the present moment, have they ever been the masters of their own temple, nor allowed to be in their own land, even as ordinary men. If there is one race more peculiarly proscribed in the holy land, it is the Jewish. The Turks, the present possessors of it, have held it for many a long year; and all, whether Crusaders or Saracens, have agreed to shut out the Jews. So that there has been nothing like the Son of Man coming to deliver Israel. Michael has not stood up for them in that sense yet.
Thus, what I have shown from the Old Testament is amply confirmed by the new. Prophet after prophet, all distinctly furnish the same outline, i.e., a time of trouble, such as never was before, followed immediately by a deliverance such as Israel has never yet enjoyed. It is perfectly plain, as we all believe that these prophecies are of God, that it is only a question of waiting God's time for Himself to accomplish them to the very letter. As our Lord says in this same chap., 24. of Matthew, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” It is not only that the general strain is true, but not one jot nor one tittle shall pass till all be fulfilled.
If this be so, we have an important key to the prophecy of Daniel. Although the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans was so near, yet the Lord distinctly looks on to another time. And what makes it the more remarkable is, that one of the evangelists does give us the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, but also distinguishes it from this future time of trouble. In Luke 21 is the chief reference of a positively prophetic kind to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. And mark the difference of the language: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies.” Not a word about the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. Luke passes over that entirely, and introduces what Matthew does not mention—Jerusalem encompassed with armies. “When ye shall see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let them which are in the midst of it depart out,” &c. That is, the Lord prescribes exactly the same course to be taken by the Jews in Jerusalem, whether at the approaching sack of the city by the Romans (as in Luke), or at the future desolation that should fall upon it (as in Matthew). So far there was an analogy between the two things: they were to flee away; they were not to trust to vain hopes of deliverance through some pretended Messiah, but were to know from the lips of the Lord Himself, that Jerusalem was to fall under the hand of the Gentiles. If any wanted to escape, it must be outside Jerusalem. “And let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.” No matter what people may tell them about the Passover or any other feasts, their path of safety is to avoid Jerusalem. There is no deliverance for Israel yet. “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Luke does not say, This is the time of trouble, such as was not since flee beginning of the world. There is the most singular perfectness of expression—Luke taking up first the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and Matthew nothing but the last siege, before the Jews are delivered. “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations.” This was not, therefore, the time of Jacob's trouble, when he should be delivered. At the time spoken of by Luke, instead of deliverance, they only fall into the trouble of a captivity, after the trouble of the war. “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” That is accomplishing to the present hour. “The times of the Gentiles” are going on still. The Gentiles have always lorded it as yet. The Jews have not got a land or a city that they can call their own on the face of the earth. Who have their city and their land! The Gentiles. “The times of the Gentiles” are not expired. “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” They are its masters, and, as such, they will tread it down till the allotted times are fulfilled—not forever. Nowhere is it said that this is to go on till the end of time. On the contrary, Gentile dominion over the Jews is soon to close. We have this in the next verse. We have already seen a most regular, orderly setting forth of the troubles that were to befall Jerusalem. And the times of the Gentiles have been running on ever since the days of Titus to the present moment. But in verse 25 begins the closing scene, which is the only thing mentioned in Matt. 24., from verse 15 and onwards—and this, because of the question put by the disciples, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age?” But in Luke they simply ask, “What sign will there be when these things (i.e., the overthrow of the temple) come to pass?” Accordingly, the Lord gives them the coming up of the Romans; and then He goes on, down the Gentile stream of time, to the end. But Matthew confines himself to the close in answer to the question which he records. That is the simple reason, and nothing can be more beautiful than the way in which the truth comes out. Here in Luke we have the great events when the times of the Gentiles close. “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory.”
People who apply Matt. 24. in a topical way to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, are obliged to make out that the coming of the Son of man from heaven is a mere figure, representing the providential acting of God through Titus to put down the Jews. But Luke 21 gives a complete refutation to this idea. For here the Spirit of God shows that Jerusalem has been taken, and the Gentile times run on: when they are about to expire, the Son of man comes in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory—hundreds of years after Titus. The closing scene is brought in as finishing up, or consequent on, the times of the Gentiles. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh.” And then, a little further on, (ver. 32,) we find this remarkable expression, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled.” It is a misuse of that term which has led to a good deal of the confusion on the subject. When does the phrase “this generation” come in! After the Son of man has already come in power and glory—not when they saw Jerusalem compassed with armies. That is an important point to help in determining its true meaning. If “this generation” merely meant a man's life-time, such a place in the prophecy would be incongruous. The vulgar notion might have been reasonable, if the phrase occurred just at the compassing of Jerusalem with armies. But it has no sense if put in after the times of the Gentiles are accomplished. So that “this generation,” taken temporally, must plainly embrace a scope of eighteen centuries at the least. What, then, is its true force? It means—what it does very often in Scripture—this Christ-rejecting race of Israel, and not a mere period of time. It is used in a moral sense to describe a race acting after a particular way, good or evil. Moses, reproaching them, says, “They have corrupted themselves, they are a perverse and crooked generation.... And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be, for they are a very froward generation.” Here, most clearly, their moral condition as a people is meant, and not the time in which this was manifested. In the Psalms we have a further key to the proper meaning. Thus, in Psa. 12, “Thou shalt keep them, O Lord; thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.” If by “generation” were merely meant a term of thirty or forty years, what sense would there be in the words, “forever?” It refers, not at all to a, course of a few years, but to the moral state of a people, and that of the people of Israel. In like manner, the force of the words in the Gospel of Luke is quite plain. “This generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled.” The race of Israel still going on in unbelief and rejection of Christ is what the Lord means. He is saying, as it were, I will prepare you for the terrible truth, that this Christ-rejecting generation is to continue till all these things are fulfilled. Apart from prophecy, that never could have been anticipated. For it might have been supposed that, while Christianity was going over the whole earth, and making conquests everywhere, if one nation more than another was to be brought under the power of Christ, it must be Israel, loved for the father's sake. But no. The Jews are to proceed in the same unbelief. There might be a line of faithful ones among them, but the wicked generation that Christ then warned us of shall not pass away till all is fulfilled. And what will follow? Even as the Psalms say, the generation to come. Israel will be born again—will have a new heart given them. Then are they to be the people that shall praise the Lord. This entirely falls in with the rest of Scripture. For the Lord, under the figure of a fruitless fig-tree, had set forth Israel. On that tree He consequently pronounced a curse. When it is said in one of the Gospels, that the time of figs was not yet, it means the season of their ripeness or of their ingathering was not yet arrived. hence the rigs could not have been taken from the tree. Had it borne any, they must have been there. It was merely when the figs were still unripe, that our Lord came to seek fruit; but there was not one. There was plentiful profession—leaves, but no fruit. Therefore said He, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever!” Such, in figure, is “this generation.” But how is that to be reconciled with Israel's being to the praise of the Lord by and by? Israel must be born again. “That generation” will never produce fruit for the Lord. It is to be destroyed under the judgment of God, and a new race will be born. The type of the past gives us a striking figure of the future.
From these prophecies that we have looked at, two out of the Old and two out of the New Testament, it is clear that the time of trouble, of which Daniel speaks, is entirely future; and that Luke distinguishes expressly a time of great distress just about to fall, and which, in fact, has fallen on Jerusalem, from a closing time of far more intense trouble which is yet to come. We now return to Daniel, with the clear light of other Scriptures from both Testaments, showing God's word to be positive and precise, that Israel must pass through an unheard-of sea of trouble, but out of that they are to be delivered. It is, in fact, the precursor of their great salvation from God. Still there was another question unanswered. However important Daniel might feel it to know that his countrymen would infallibly be delivered, yet there was another question:—What will be the condition of the Jews who are not in the land? What will become of those not in Jerusalem or in Judea, who consequently are not the immediate objects of the great deliverance wrought there? The second verse of this chapter answers it. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake—some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” The verse is constantly applied to the resurrection of the body; and it is true that the Spirit founds the figure upon that resurrection. But it can be shown that it has not the least reference to a bodily resurrection, either of us or of Israel. As this may seem difficult to some, I am bound to produce evidence from Scripture that the Holy Spirit uses resurrection as a figure of a blessed restoration from ruin. In Isa. 26 you have what I suppose will not be questioned: an account of Israel's trouble—their trouble under Gentile lords. In verse 13, it is said, “O Lord, our God, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.” That is not about the Church, though it may be applied to us ever so frequently. We have not got other lords over us—the Jews have. They have had masters over them for hundreds of years, and they have still. “But by thee only will we make mention of thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise.” These lords that had dominion over them are gone: they are dead—they shall not rise. Can that be spoken about literal resurrection? If it were, they must rise like others. It is clearly said of their perishing in this world. That is, the figure of the resurrection is applied. They are gone and shall not be lords over Israel any more” Therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them and made all their memory to perish. Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord; thou hast increased the nation; thou art glorified.” Who can doubt that the passage speaks of Israel only? Thou hast removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.” Could that be said about the Church? When the gospel extends itself all over the world, it is the power of love in men—the activity of God's grace going out everywhere. Not so with Israel. They have a central city, where, had they been faithful, God would have maintained them;—so that their removal to the ends of the earth was a divine judgment upon them, not a mission of love. “Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.” That was the effect of it. Israel humbles himself. he that had waxed fat and kicked, was now penitent; and the Lord listens to his confession, and looks on his anguish. “To be as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord.” And then in verse 19, the Lord answers, “Thy dead men shall live, my dead body shall they arise.” He claims them as his own, even though they had so sinned and were in that deplorable, degraded condition. “My dead body shall they arise.” Mark that expression as connected with Daniel. “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust, for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Can it be questioned by any one who has followed the reasons already advanced, that the Spirit is not speaking about the Church here, but about Israel, in contrast with their Gentile lords now prostrate, never to domineer again. Israel, on the contrary, though in the most dismal condition, was only as the dead body which the Lord claims as His own, and as pertaining to Him they shall arise.
Turning to Daniel, now, see what a light is thrown upon the passage. Not only will there be deliverance for the Jews in the holy land, who have witnessed all the conflicts between Antichrist and the king of the north; but for many that sleep; (that is, many who had not yet come forward, who had been apart from the troubles of their nation, who had been in total obscurity, as it were sleeping in the dust of the earth.) “Many of them shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” This shows plainly that it is not the resurrection of the just; because when that takes place, nobody rises to shame and everlasting contempt. The passage has no reference whatever to a bodily resurrection, which simply furnishes a figure for the national revival of Israel, who are described as sleeping in the dust to express the greatness of their degradation. Now they were to awake and sing, according to Isaiah.
But we must turn to another passage—the clearest, perhaps, of any upon the subject. It is in the prophecy of Ezekiel, where, in a most plain prediction of the restoration of Israel, the same figure is used. Isaiah called them a dead body, and spoke of them as dwelling in the dust, from which they were to awake. Daniel also called it an awaking out of their sleep in the dust. Ezekiel goes yet farther, and speaks of them as not only dead, but buried in their graves. Now, if it can be proved that this does not refer to a literal bodily resurrection, but to a national restoration of Israel, the chain of evidence will be complete. That it is so is plain: for in this prophecy we are not left to gather from the context what the meaning is, but there is a divine interpretation. We have not only the prophecy, but the prophecy explained. And the explanation of the prophecy given to and by Ezekiel shuts out every other thought save the one I have been endeavoring to set before you. In the beginning of chapter 37. we find an open valley full of dry bones. “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and, behold, a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.” Can any one seriously think that is the way in which the Church will rise from the dead? Is there a soul so deluded as to take this for a description of the way in which our bodies are to be raised? Bones coming together first; then the flesh and skin covering; and then breath put into them? Can it be with sobriety maintained that this is primarily intended as a figure of the work of the gospel in giving life to souls? If so, what is the meaning of the bones first, &c.?
“Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, Son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.” What more simple than the explanation God gives of the vision? He applies it to the whole house of Israel, though, no doubt, it was the vision of a resurrection. Ezekiel saw the bones live, and the men stand on their feet. But, then, we have God giving us the real meaning and proper application of it. The resurrection of the body we have most fully elsewhere, as, e.g., in the New Testament, and in Job also. In the Gospels, the Epistles, and the Revelation, we have the resurrection, both of the just and of the unjust—a blessed resurrection for the one, and a resurrection that will have awful consequences of sorrow for those that are in it. But here we have the same God, using the figure of resurrection to describe the blessing that He is to confer upon the people of Israel. Similarly He applies the figure in Luke 15 to the conversion of the prodigal son: “This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Paul gives us the blessing that will result to the world by and by through the restoration of Israel under the same figure. “What shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15.) I maintain, then, that no other interpretation of this passage bears the stamp of the Spirit of God. People may preach the gospel from it, or apply it figuratively. I am not objecting to such an employment of it. But the word of God gives us both the vision and the interpretation. And I have no more reason to believe the one than the other. God says it means the house of Israel; therefore it does not mean the resurrections of the body. When men are raised from the dead in a proper physical sense, there will be no such thing as the house of Israel among those so raised. Resurrection terminates all relations of time and the world. Hence, what we have here is merely a figure taken from it, and applied to the future restoration of Israel—then to be a holy nation, but still a nation.
“These bones are the whole house of Israel: behold they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” Nothing can be plainer. All the evidence of the chapter confirms the same thing. But more than that: “And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live; and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” The next portion throws yet more light upon it. We have another vision connected with this. Two sticks are taken and joined in one, presenting another aspect of the blessing in store for Israel. If all Israel were to be brought out of their graves, the twelve tribes might still have formed two separate parties, as in earlier days. But now comes in a new condition, to show that, when the resuscitation of Israel takes place, their once-divided interests will coalesce. That does not refer to the Church, nor to our condition when raised from the dead. We shall not be planted in the land of Israel under David as our king. Even if we take David as a type of Christ, yet this is not our relationship. We are Christ's body and bride—not a people merely, reigned over by a king.
Thus, by comparing these different portions of the word of God, we have strong proof that the passage in Daniel refers solely to Israel. And as the first verse shows us the deliverance of the Jews in their land at the time of their sorest trouble; the second verse shows us that which is the key to so many of the prophecies—the coming out of the race of the Jews from their hiding-places and deep degradation, set forth under the figure of sleeping in the dust, and being raised up out of it. But whether it be those in the land or those who come out of the dust of the earth, and from among the Gentiles, none will be delivered except those that are the objects of the counsels of God, i.e., “found written in the book.” Some of them may awake, as the figure expresses it, to take their part in the great struggle of the close, but not being registered in God's book, they shall be abandoned to shame and everlasting contempt. For the rest, it is not a mere national deliverance, but much more. Those that are delivered will be truly born of God. A spiritual character will attach to their rise, as well as a national one.
But let us pursue the rest of the chapter briefly. The Spirit of God shows us that some among them will have a remarkable maturity. They are those., who are said to be “wise.” “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.” These have been distinguished in a time of trouble among the Jews. “And they that instruct the many in righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” We are obliged thus to change the version, because the expression that is used here— “turn many for righteousness” —is unhappy. The real sense is “they that teach righteousness to the many.” It is not a question of their success;—whether they actually turn them to righteousness, or not, is not the point; but “they that instruct the many,” or the mass of the Jews, are thus promised the blessing. They might, perhaps, have scanty results, but the question is, whether they are laboring for God, and maintaining the authority of His truth. The same Hebrew word is used in other parts of the Scripture, where it no doubt means to justify. The English translators—judging, with good reason, that “justify” would not suit in a clause which describes the action of men, whereas justification certainly belongs to God,—have changed it into “turn to righteousness.” But I take the liberty of preferring the version already mentioned— “instructing in righteousness.” Thus it would appear, that there are certain of the Jews that have shown comparatively a great degree of intelligence in the mind of God. They are called “the wise.” But besides the intelligent, others go out in spiritual energy, as we have seen, to teach the mass of the Jews, who then were, or afterward fell, under the power of Antichrist. “The many” is a technical phrase in Daniel for the faithless mass or those that are lost. They that instruct the many in righteousness, are to shine as the stars forever and ever. And I take the opportunity of saying, that this is the true meaning of a verse in Isa. 53, that has amazingly perplexed the critics: “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.” No doubt many Christians have connected it with “by his obedience shall many be made righteous.” But there is no connection whatever between the two thoughts. Take it as has been suggested in the passage before us, and all is plain. Nor have I the least doubt that such is its true meaning. It is to instruct in righteousness; justification is not the point there. In the Lord's case the instruction, of course, will be perfect; but even there the object is “many,” not “the many,” as in Daniel. Here we find that these godly souls among the Jews have a certain knowledge of divine truth, and they instruct the mass in righteousness. It will not be a question of showing and preaching grace at that day. They will instruct them in righteousness. They may bring out the blessed thoughts of God in connection with Israel, but it will be instruction in righteousness. The sense of “justify” would not be true, if we look either at the subjects or the objects of the action. We could understand, perhaps, that of the Lord in Isa. 53 But even so; ask any person, what is the meaning of His justifying many through His knowledge, and he will have to travel far enough for a probable answer. Some advocates for it may try to understand, “by the knowledge of him,” but that will not stand. The true meaning is that the Lord would use His knowledge as the means of instructing many. In Isaiah and Daniel, it refers to instructing in righteousness, not justifying nor turning to righteousness.
In the next verse comes an important principle, upon which a few words must be said, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel is here informed that the things which he had seen, and the communications which he had heard, though they were, no doubt, of God, were not to be turned to use for the present. All was to be a sealed book until a distant day; in a word, until the time of the end. In a later verse, Daniel puts the question, “What shall be the end of these things?” And the answer is, “Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Thus clearly are we shown that the understanding of the words of God is a spiritual thing, and not a matter of mere intellect. If it were so, then the wicked might understand as much as the righteous. It is expressly said, that “none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” That is, these intelligent ones, of whom we have heard before. Mark the importance of this. In the last chapter of the Apocalypse, we have the prophet John addressed at the close of his prophecy. The contrast is most striking. In the last of Daniel, he is told that all is to be closed up and sealed till the time of the end. In the last chapter of the Revelation, John is told not to seal “the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.” In other words, there is an exact contrast between the injunction given to the two prophets. To the Jewish prophet all is sealed till the time of the end. To the Christian prophet nothing is sealed: all is open. How comes this? The answer is, that the Church—the Christian—is always supposed to be at the time of the end. The gift of the Holy Ghost has changed everything. From that time nothing has been sealed to the Christian. All the mind, the affections, the counsels of God, yea, and His secrets about the world, in the Scriptures of truth, are opened to him by the power of God. The Christian, even if you take the weak and ignorant, has the Holy Ghost dwelling in him. Therefore, in writing to the babes, does the Apostle John say, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” All the learning in the world can never make a man understand the Bible; whereas, if a soul is born of God, he is capable of understanding anything that God reveals: he only requires to be led on, and more perfectly instructed. The apostle is not speaking of the actual acquirements of the babe, which might be very slight. In whom, then, do we boast, and ought we to boast? In God, who has given us such an amazing privilege. Whoever has the Spirit of God, has therein a divine capacity of entering into the things of God. He only wants to be in proper circumstances, dependent on God, and valuing His word, and what is of God will be manifest and proved to be divine. This is connected with the fact, that the Spirit of God is given to the Church, in a special sense, which not even the prophets knew. For although they had the Spirit to inspire them, as we, of course, have not, yet we have the Holy Ghost always dwelling in us; one consequence of which is, that we have spiritual intelligence, “the mind of Christ,” which they had not. And therefore, as you may remember, the Spirit of God in 1 Peter 1 Contrasts the condition of the Christian now with that of the rains, yea, of the prophets themselves, under the Old Testament. He shows us that they were “searching what and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed that, not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” That is, we stand in the present knowledge and enjoyment of things which, they were told, did not concern them but us of the New Testament. This is very important. They had the promise, and it was salvation to them. But we have much more: we have positive accomplished blessing—redemption not merely promised, but effected. And the Christian now, relieved by grace from all question about his sins, is free to enter into the blessed things of God. God accordingly says now, You are not to seal the book. The time of the end is that in which we are contemplated; the end morally being come. And therefore we are waiting for the Lord to come at any time. Where the Jewish thought prevails, people are always looking out for an antecedent time of great trouble. They do not see that God has a purpose about Israel, as well as about the Church; that when He has removed us to our own proper place in heavenly glory, He will again take up the Jews: and that they, not we, must go through the great tribulation, and see the appointed signs Which herald the approach of the Son of man to the earth.
This also serves to explain how it is that we can understand these prophecies. Daniel could not: as he says here, “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Then comes in Christianity, and not one of them is sealed—not one shut up. They are all open. To us the end is always nigh; we are said to be in the end of the world: as it is written in 1 Cor. 10:11, “These things were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the age are come.” And it is always so. “Christ is said to have appeared once in the end of the world, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” The Church is ever supposed to be in the end, and, by virtue of the Spirit, anticipating the godly, intelligent remnant. Indeed, the Church began with a remnant of Jews that had faith in their Messiah. Thus Pentecost began with that which will be true again after we are removed to heaven. For when God has translated the saints, and the time of the end is literally come, there will once more be a remnant of faithful Jews. “But the wise shall understand.” The Church is always supposed to be standing in these privileges, and is essentially above the mere discoveries or progress of the age.
As to the “days” spoken of in the close of the chapter, what is their meaning? In verse 11 it is said, “From the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand, two hundred, and ninety days.” It had been previously said in verse 7, by the man clothed in linen, that it should be “for a time, times, and a half” —that is, for 1260 days. Verse 16 adds thirty days, or one month more, to the 1260 days. Then, in verse 12, we find a further epoch:— “Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand, three hundred, and five-and-thirty days.” That is, a month and a half are added still. So that we have, first of all, 1260 days; then 1290 days; then 1335 days. What, we may ask, is the meaning of this? and from what time are we to reckon these days? The answer is, “From the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up.”
And now I would make a remark of some importance, as linking all which has been said together, and yielding a conclusive proof of the true interpretation of this prophecy. It is the very verse that our Lord quoted in Matt. 24.: “When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand!) then let them which are in Judea flee into the mountains.” The question is, Where does Daniel speak of this? I answer, in verse 11 of this chapter. It is the only verse that properly answers to the one in Matthew.
We are told that from that time there are to be 1290 days; next, a further period of 45 days, and then full blessing. Has that been the case? If you apply it to anything past, as for instance, to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; if you reckon 1335 days from the time when the Romans took Jerusalem, is the blessing really come? It matters little how you take the days. Let them be conceived to be 1335 years from that destruction of Jerusalem: still have you got the blessing of the Jews and the saint's blessing according to the word of God here? Nothing of the sort. What then follows? That you have dated it from a wrong epoch. The abomination that maketh desolate is not yet come; when it does come, in the sense in which our Lord speaks, 1335 days follow, and then will be the full blessing.
But now another word as to those differences: first the 1260 days, then the 1290, and then, lastly, 1335. I think the reason is, because the blessing of Israel will not be brought in at once. The first great turning point will be the destruction of “the king.” That takes place when the 1260 days expire.
But as we saw in chapter 11, the king of the north has to be disposed of, after “the king.” Accordingly, there is another period of delay. But whether that Will coincide with the thirty days more (or 1290), or with the subsequent 45 days (1335), 1 am not prepared to say. Of this, however, we may be assured, that the 1335 days bring us down to the accomplishment of the whole work: and I am inclined to think that the destruction of the king of the north is rather one of the latest, if not the last, of these acts of judgment before the epoch of blessing begins. In Isa. 10:12, it is said, “When the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.” That seems to me to indicate that it is the last act of the Lord in judgment connected with the blessing of Israel. Thus we have a brief interval or two after the destruction of Antichrist, during which the Lord is still putting down His and Israel's enemies. “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand, three hundred, and five and thirty days.”
I now close this book, praying the Lord to make it of real profit as well as interest. One of the most important points of profit will have been this—to deliver God's children from the idea that the Church is everything. That is not a true system. It is to fall into the same sort of mistake that the old astronomers used to make when they viewed the world as the center of the solar system, because it was the place where they were living. That is what spoils man. He makes himself the center of everything. The same error is made in theology. The Church, because we are in it, has been made the center of Scripture, whereas Christ is the center. He is the center of heavenly blessedness, and the Church circles around Him; He is the center of Jewish blessing and the Jews circle around Him. Therefore, whether in heaven or earth, Christ is the Kernel of all God's thoughts of blessing. And when we get our hearts fixed in that, there is peace, progress, and blessing. The reason why souls very often have not peace, is because they are occupied with themselves, and they do not find what they think ought to be in a Christian. Whereas if I am looking at Christ, there is no difficulty. The question then becomes: Does Christ deserve that such an one as 1 am should be saved? Can I deny it? The effect of this is that I am happy. and God can use me in His service. But if I am troubled about the salvation of my own soul, how can I be occupied in the service of others? The great question of self never will be settled till Christ is the center of everything to us. May it be so He is the center for all God's thoughts of love and righteousness, as well as of glory.

Remarks on Daniel 2

Before entering upon my present subject, I would point out all obvious proof that chap. 1. has a prefatory character. The last verse of the chapter informs us that “Daniel continued unto the first year of King Cyrus.” It is not merely an account of certain circumstances before we are introduced to the various revelations or facts that are given in succession in the book; but we have the preparation for the place that Daniel was to keep. And then we are carried, as it were, on to the end. The continuance of Daniel is shown through the whole term of the Babylonish monarchy, and even to the beginning of the Persian. It is not meant that Daniel only lived to the first year of King Cyrus; because the latter part of the book shows us a vision subsequent to that date. The fact is simply stated that he lived at the commencement of a new dynasty. And it will be found that the end of the last chapter is an equally suitable conclusion to the book; answering, as such, to the first chapter as a preface.
But before going further, I would made one remark of a general kind. The book divides itself into two nearly equal volumes, or sections. First, that which refers to the great Gentile powers, and the features that would mark their outward conduct; and, finally, to the judgment of it all. This is continued up to the end of chapter 6. Then, from chapter 7, to the close, we have not the external history of the four Gentile empires, but that, which is of more peculiar interest to God's people. This was, evidently enough, indicated by the circumstance, that the first portion of the book does not consist of visions that Daniel saw; for the only one, properly so called, was seen by Nebuchadnezzar. There is one in chap. 2., and then another of a different character in chap. 4; chains. 3., 5. and 6., being facts that had to do with the moral condition of the two first monarchies, but nothing at all that was made known in the first instance to Daniel, or visions seen by the prophet himself. Whereas, the latter part of the book is occupied exclusively with communications to the prophet himself. And there it is that we find, not merely what ought to strike the natural mind, but the secrets of God that peculiarly affect and interest His people and hence details also. The external proof of this is, that chap. 6, which closes what I have called the first section of Daniel, brings us up to the close again. “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Now this is remarkable, because the next chapter goes back again to Belshazzar. “In the first year of Belshazzar, King of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions of his head,” &c. That was long before Cyrus the Persian. Then in chap. viii., “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar.” And in chap. 9, “In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus.” So far all is regular, and so we come down to chap. 10. “In the third year of Cyrus, King of Persia, a thing was revealed unto Daniel,” &c. The first part (1.-6.) brings us down to the close, in a general way; and the second (7.-12.) with equal order; divided, not merely in this outward manner, but having the moral difference already explained, i.e., the one external and the other internal. That this is not an unprecedented thing in the word of God is familiar to the reader of Matt. 13. There, we have an orderly setting forth of the kingdom of heaven under certain parables-the first of these being a prefatory one. Now, taking the other six parables, (for there are exactly seven in all,) you have a division of them into two sets of three, the first of which refers to the exterior of the kingdom, and the last to more inward and hidden relations.
This exactly answers to what we have in Daniel. First, the external history goes down to the close, and then the internal succeeds, or what was of special interest to those that had understanding of the ways of God. This will suffice to show that the book is characterized by that divine method which we ought to expect in the word of God. There is a profound design which runs through the works of God, and more especially through His word. The finger of God Himself is evident indeed upon what He has made; yet death has come in, and the creature made subject to vanity. Hence, we hear the groans of the lower creation: and as you rise in the scale of animal life, the misery is more intense. Man is more conscious and capable of feeling the wretchedness that his own sin has brought upon the world, and upon that creation of which he is made the lord. But in the word of God, although there may be slips and errors of scribes, they are for the most part but specks. They may obscure its full light: but they are trifling in comparison with the evident brightness of that which God gives, even through the most imperfect version. In passing through the hands of men, we discover more or less of the weakness that attaches to the earthen vessel; but through the great mercy of God, there is ample light for every honest soul.
But turning to this first great scene, we have the entire failure of the wisdom of the world. Unusual care was taken, at the court of Babylon, to have men trained in all wisdom and knowledge. The time was now come when this was to be put to the test. God was pleased, while the great Gentile king was meditating upon his bed, to give him a vision of the future history of the world: on the one hand, gratifying his desire to see the world's course thence onward unveiled; while, on the other hand, he was made to feel the utter powerlessness of all human resources. It was God's opportunity for displaying His own power, and the perfect wisdom of which even a poor captive was made the channel. This is a signal example of God's ways. Here were these Jews; and the proud king might have supposed that, if God was for them, they could not possibly have come under his hand. But if God's people are guilty, there are none whose faults He so much exposes. How do we know the wrong that Abraham did? Or David Only from God. He loves His people too well to hide their faults. It is a part of His moral government, that He is the very last to put or allow a veil over what displeases Him, in those even whom He loves best. Take a well-governed family. It is the way of love to cover over the faults of the child, when the child ought to feel it?-and feel it he must if he is to be happy. So with God's people. Israel had abandoned Him—had denied their relationship to Him, and God shows that He felt their sin, and that they must feel it too. He disowned them as His people for a time—swept them out of the land in which He had planted them; and now they were the slaves of the Gentiles.
But now their conqueror must be taught that, after all, the mind—the heart of God was with the poor captives. The power of God might be with the Gentile for a season, but the affections of God and His secret were with His own, even in the hour of their abasement.
The circumstances, through which this was brought out, strikingly illustrate the ways of God. The king dreams a dream; the thing departs from him. He summons his wise men, and calls upon them to make known the dream and the interpretation of it. But all in vain. They themselves are so struck with the unreasonableness of the demand, that they say, “There is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” It was impossible to meet the king's request. Thus all was allowed to come out in its reality. Their wisdom proved to be unavailing for what was wanted. Daniel hears of the decree which went forth, that the wise men should be slain. He goes to Arioch, and begs for time to be given him. But mark this—and it is the characteristic of faith—he has confidence in God. He does not wait till God gives Him the answer, before he says that he would show the interpretation of the dream. He proffers it at once. He is confident in God, and that is faith—a conviction founded on the known character of God. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and Daniel feared the Lord. Therefore also he was not alarmed at the decree. He knew the God who gave could recall the dream. At the same time, he does not, in the least degree, pretend to answer it himself. We have thus two great things brought out in Daniel: first, his confidence that God would reveal the thing to the king; secondly, his confession that he could not. He goes to his house, and makes the thing known to his companions. He wishes that they also should “desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret.” He has exceeding value for the prayers of his brethren—the witnesses with himself of the true God in Babylon. He gets them on their knees before God, as well as takes that place himself. But Daniel, having special faith, was the one that God therefore honors, “Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night-vision.”
Neither does he go directly to the king, nor even to his companions, to tell them that God has made known the dream to him. The first thing he does is to go to God. The God that has made known the secret is the One that Daniel at once owns. He is in the place of one that worships God. And allow me to say, that this is the grand object of all the revelations of God. Supposing it is a question of making known to me my sin and a Savior, meeting all the need of my soul: yet what God works by His Spirit in This saints, is not merely that they should know they are delivered from hell, or that they should walk as His children. There is a higher thing still. God makes His people worshippers of Himself.
And if there is one thing in which God's children fail more than another, it is in realizing their place as worshippers.
Now, Daniel understood this. Though comparatively young, he was well acquainted with the ways of God. And here we have this beautiful feature. He brings out in his outburst of praise the ways of God; and these, not so much in connection with His power—though it is true that “He changeth the times and seasons; Hit we removeth kings and setteth up kings,” &c. But what his heart specially dwells on is this; “He giveth wisdom unto the wise, mid knowledge to them that know understanding.” I call your attention to that. It is quite true that the Lord looks with compassion on the ignorant, and shows His goodness to those that have no understanding. But Daniel is speaking of His ways with those whose hearts are towards Him; and in their case the Lord's principle is, “To him that hath shall be given; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Nothing is more dangerous in the things of God than to stop short in the path of learning His ways. What arrests souls is the consciousness that the truth is too practical; and they fear the consequences. For the truth of God is not a thing merely to know, but to live; and the soul instinctively shrinks back because of the serious present results it entails. In Daniel's case the eye was single, and the whole body, therefore full of light. This is the real secret of progress. Let the desire only be towards God, and the progress, is sure and steady.
Daniel then goes in unto Arioch and says, “Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will show unto the king the interpretation.” Accordingly, Arioch brings, him in before the king, in haste, and says, “brings found a man of the captives of; Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.” The king asks him whether it is true, that he is able to make known the dream and the interpretation. Daniel's answer is beautiful. Real, deep knowledge of the ways of God is always accompanied by humility. There, is no greater mistake nor one more unfounded in fact, than the supposition, that spiritual intelligence puffs up; knowledge may—mere knowledge. But I speak of that spiritual understanding in the word which flows from the sense of God's love, and seeks to spread itself, if I may so say, just because it is divine love. Daniel then first shows how impossible it was for “the wise siren, astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers,” to show the dream unto the king. “But there is a God in heaven, that revealeth secrets, and maketh known [he does not even say to Daniel, but] to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” de desired that Nebuchadnezzar should know the interest that God took in him. “As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind, upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.” But he is not satisfied with that: he adds, “As for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have, more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.”
Then he enters upon the dream, “Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.” He had seen the course of empire, not merely in a fragmentary successional manner, but as a whole. In the latter part of the book, we have the succession more minutely marked, and the detailed ways of the different powers towards Daniel's people: but here it is the general history of Gentile empire.
“This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and arms of silver. His belly and his thighs of brass.” That, is, there was deterioration as the empires departed from the source of power. It was God who gave imperial rule to Nebuchadnezzar. Consequently, that which is nearest to the source is seen as “this head of gold.” There comes in a certain measure more of what was human in the Persian empire, “the breast and the arms of silver,” an inferior metal; and so on, down to the legs, which are of iron: and the feet, part of iron and part of clay. It is quite plain from this, that as we descend from the original grant of power, there is a gradual debasement.
But it is well, now, to state a principle or two, which I believe to be of importance in looking at prophetic scriptures. One of the commonest maxims, even among Christians, is this: that prophecy is to be interpreted by the event—that history is the proper exponent of prophecy—that when the prophetic visions are realized upon the earth, the facts explain the visions. This is a false principle; it has not one particle of truth in it. People confound, with interpretation of prophecy, the confirmation of its truth. When a prediction is fulfilled, of course its fulfillment confirms its truth, but that is a very different thing from explaining it. The proper understanding of prophecy is just as difficult after the event as before it. For instance, let any one take the seventy weeks of Daniel. That chapter has furnished occasion for immense controversy and dispute, among believers themselves. It is one of their commonest assumptions, that it is all fulfilled (which is not correct), and yet there is no such thing as agreement among them, about its meaning.
Looking again at Ezekiel's prophecy, we find that the difficulty of prophecy arises from a totally different source. The first part of Ezekiel was fulfilled in the then ways of God with Israel, it extended over the time when Daniel lived. But that does not explain it. It is, in fact, more obscure than the closing chapters, which are future.
What then, does explain prophecy? That which explains all scriptures: the spirit of God alone. His power can unfold any part of the word of God. Do you ask, if I mean to say, that it is of no importance to know languages, understand history, and so on? I am not raising a question about learning: it has its use; but I deny that history is the interpreter of knowledge or learning. Besides, even if men are Christians, it does not necessarily follow that they understand scripture. They know Christ, else they would not be Christians. But real entrance into God's mind, in scripture, supposes that a person watches against self, desires the glory of God, has full confidence in His word and dependence on the Holy Ghost. The understanding of scripture is not a mere intellectual. thing. If a man has no mind at all, he could not understand anything: But the mind is only the vessel—not the power. The power is the Holy Ghost, acting upon and through the vessel; but it must be the Holy Ghost Himself that fills the soul. As it is said, “They shall be all taught of God.”
There is a great difference in the measure of the teaching, because there is much difference in the measure of dependence upon God. The important thing is to bear in mind, that the understanding of scripture depends much more upon what is moral, than what is of the mind—upon a single eye to Christ. The Holy Ghost can never give us anything to save us from the necessity of dependence and waiting upon God.
How, then, are we to interpret prophecy? It is entirely independent of history; it was given to be understood before it becomes history. That this is true must be manifest. The great mass of prophecy is about the terrible judgments that are to fall at the end of this age. What becomes of the people who do not profit by the prophecies, till the facts have taken place? It is a serious thing to despise it. The believer that understands prophecy, has got special help, which he lacks, who neglects it.
Starting, then, with this great principle—that it is the Holy Ghost who gives us to read prophecy, as hearing upon the glory of God, and connected with Christ, who shall yet be exalted, and His glory shall till the earth and heavens, all usurpers and pretenders being put down—let us look at this scene, as that which shows us the course of the world, up to that time. First, consider the position of the parties. Here was the proudest king of the world. He had gone forth at the head of victorious armies, before his father's death before he had properly come into the undivided kingdom of Babylon. And now he has laid open to him a sphere of dominion, perhaps. beyond his ambition. He learns with certainty, that it was God in his providence, who had pitied him in this position. But, more than that: he sees brought before him in a few touches the whole chart of the Gentile world—the leading features of its history from that day to the day of glory and judgment that is coming. He has brought before him the rise of another and neighboring power, that had been already alluded to in prophecy; so that there was therefore no difficulty at all in gathering what was meant by it. The prophet Isaiah, who lived a hundred-and-fifty years before Cyrus was born, had not only referred by the Holy Ghost to the nation and king of the Medes and Persians, but had called him by name.
Again: another empire was foreshown, that was then comparatively in its infancy, or consisting only of so many separate tribes, without any stable bond of cohesion among them—I refer to the Greeks. But more remarkable still, the kingdom which is most dwelt upon by the Spirit of God, was then one that was in a mere embryo condition, and probably not even known by name to the king of Babylon. For though that kingdom was destined to play the greatest part ever taken by a kingdom in the history of the world, it was then utterly obscure. It was engaged in home and neighboring squabbles, of the pettiest kind, without any thought of extending its dominion. The more marvelous, therefore, it is to look at that great king, and the servant of God that stood before him, unfolding the history of the world.
“Thou, O king, art a king of kings for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.” It was not a question of his own prowess, nor special wisdom, that he possessed. If Nebuchadnezzar had been allowed to carry away these captives—to triumph over the power of Egypt, that had wished to dispute the supremacy of the world, it was the God of heaven who had given it to him. “And Wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.” Clearly the Babylonish monarchy is meant. God had referred to this by Isaiah. And Jeremiah, who was a contemporary of Daniel's, had brought before him, not only the length of period, during which the Babylonish monarchy should last, but even the succession. There would be Nebuchadnezzar and his son, and his son's son. This had a remarkable fulfillment. So that we need not go beyond Scripture to understand prophecy. It is the right Spiritual use of what is in the word of God, and I bless God for it. If you find the simplest man who only studies with diligence the Bible in his mother tongue, and is led by the Spirit of God, he has the elements and the power of a true interpretation. But as sure as a man tries to find an interpretation here and there, by the help of history, antiquities, newspapers, and what not, he is only deceiving himself and his hearers. Such is the universal moral sentence of God upon the soul that searches, in what is of man, the proper key to God's secrets. I must find it in God Himself, by a right use of what is in His own word.
An early Jewish writer, whose history is everywhere read and valued, Josephus, I had the curiosity to look at, and finding the common version peculiar, I examined the original Greek of his history, but found the same strange sense still. He makes out that the head of gold means Nebuchadnezzar, and the kings that were before, him Thus, there is an entire want of understanding what the word of God says. The going away from scripture, and allowing one's own thoughts, always leads astray. Babylon was first made an empire of, in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, who here includes, as it were, those that were to follow. “Thou art this head of gold.” There is no reference to the kings that were before him. Babylon never was allowed to have the empire of the world till Nebuchadnezzar's day. Therefore it was that he, and not his forefathers, formed the head of gold. He was the one in whom the imperial place of Babylon finds its beginning.
In Jer. 25. we find not only the epoch of seventy years of captivity, but, further on (chap. 27.), the succession is mentioned. “All nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come,” It happened that, after his son, Evil Merodach, was cut off, there was one who took the throne, not in the order of succession, but called to it by the Babylonish people, with a sort of claim, through marriage with Nebuchadnezzar's daughter. This man reigned for a time, and after him, his son, who was, therefore, the son of Nebuchadnezzar's daughter, not of his son. It might so far, then, appear that the prophecy had failed. Not at all. A few months after, Nebuchadnezzar's grandson was called to the throne. “Scripture cannot be broken.” It had been said, “Nebuchadnezzar, his son, and his son's son,” and so it was. In Belshazzar, the grandson, of Nebuchadnezzar, the whole thing terminated. For this, then, scripture furnishes all the main parts. So that prophecy does, in fact, explain history, but history never interprets prophecy. The man who understands prophecy, can open up history; but no understanding of history will enable him to explain prophecy. It may confirm the truth of a prediction, to a doubter, so far as it is clear. Thus, if the history of the taking of Jerusalem, as it is given in the Wars of Josephus, is a true one, it will, of course, coincide with the inspired notice, told us by Luke. But it is quite plain, that if I have confidence in the word of God, there I have a much more certain account of it. In a word, the circumstance of being uttered before the event, has nothing to do with the matter. The eye of God saw all along, and through the streams of Gentle empire; and the language is as plain in the prophecies of Daniel, as in the writings of the Greek and Latin historians. And so true is this that those who have no sympathy with what is of God, even infidels, are obliged to acknowledge, that whatever clearly bears upon the subject, coincides with what Daniel had said hundreds of years before the events.
“And after thee shall arise another kingdom, inferior to thee.” Not inferior in territorial extent, but in splendor, and perhaps most of all in the admixture of control outside the ruler. Instead of a man acting in the conviction that God had put him in his place of authority, Darius (chap. 6.) took the advice of unscrupulous subjects, and suffered bitterly for it. Had he felt the sense of immediate responsibility to God, the snare had been avoided. Men naturally shirk from absolute authority chiefly because it is uncontrolled power in the hands of a weak and erring man. But supposing it was one who had all the wisdom and goodness in his own person, nothing could be happier. That is exactly what will be true in the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, when full authority will be put into His hands, and all will be blessed and according to the will of God, and when the contrary will of man would only be rebellion.
What seems to confirm this, is, that when we come down to the third kingdom, the Macedonian, of which Alexander the Great was the founder, there we have a man who not merely acted at the suggestion of his wise Men, but was controlled by his generals. It became, in fact, a kind of military rule—a less respectable thing than the aristocratic interference of the Medes and Persians, and their inflexible laws.
Then we come down much lower still, and have a fourth kingdom, represented by iron. “And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.” There, strength is the great feature of the kingdom, and the quality of the metal is consistent with it. But it is of the commonest sort—not one of the precious metals; perhaps because the Roman Empire was distinguished by this, that it was nominally the people that governed. However despotic the emperor, he always pretended, in theory at least, to consult the people and senate. Even under the empire, the Romans had still the semblance of their old republican constitution; whilst, in point of fact, it was but an individual who had clothed himself with all the real power.
Here, then, we have sketched before us the whole course of empire. But it may be asked, How do you know these things? It is not said that the second empire represents Medo-Persia, or the third Macedonia, or the fourth Rome. I think it is. It may not be said here; but Scripture does not always hang up the key exactly at the door. It is not often that we find the explanation of one portion in the very next verse. God wants me to know His word, to be familiar with all that He has written, and to be assured that all is very good. To instruct even the unconverted child in the Scripture is always of great value. It is like laying a fire well, so that a spark alone is needed to kindle it into a flame. It is a good and wholesome thing for Christians to be most particular in training up their children in a thorough knowledge of the word of God.
But returning to consider what light Scripture gives, we need not go further than this book of Daniel to find the names of these empires. In chap. 5. 28, we are told, “Peres: thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” There is the answer at once. We find the Babylonian kingdom just tottering, and about to be destroyed. We were told that the Medes and Persians succeed. Nothing simpler or more certain, The only people I ever heard of that found difficulties, were some learned men who strove to make out that the empire of Babylon extends to Persia as well, so as to make Greece the second, Rome the third, and the fourth a distinct and purely future anti-Christian power. Another class of these scholars have contended that Alexander's kingdom is one thing, and that of his successors another wholly different: in fact, one the third and the other the fourth empire; so as to make even the fifth kingdom (that of “the little stone") a past or present thing. Had Scripture been read and weighed without an object, mistakes like these could never have been made. But the believer, instead of seeing in history things to perplex his mind takes up his Bible, and finds the solution before he leaves the prophecy itself. For it is plain from Dan. 8:20, 21, that the empire of the united Medes and Persians gives place to the Grecian kingdom, with its four-fold division at Alexander's death. This again is succeeded by the fourth or Roman Empire, the peculiar feature of which is, that in its last stage it is seen divided into ten separate kingdoms. (Chap. 7.) Was this ever the case with the successors of Alexander? His kingdom was divided into four, never into ten. Thus we have prophecy explaining history; while the general use that mere learning snakes of history is to obscure the brightness of the word of God. But let us understand the word of God first, and then, if we turn to history, we shall find it comes in as a human witness and confirms, with its feeble voice, the divine testimony. It is obliged to do so. Thus, the man that does not know history, stands upon at least as good ground as those who are learned, but find difficulties. He is not perplexed as others are, who look through the mist of their own speculations.
In the third kingdom a feature is introduced which is not in the second. It was to “bear rule over all the earth.” Now remarkably that was fulfilled in the Macedonian or Grecian kingdom! Because, although Cyrus was a great conqueror, it was altogether in the region where he lived. He overcame the whole of those parts to the north of Media and Persia, and also southward, as well as the west. All that was true; but he never went outside, as far as I know, the bounds of Asia.
But now we see a kingdom marked by extraordinary rapidity of conquest. I could challenge all the world to show me one that fulfills this prophecy, as the kingdom of Alexander did. In the course of a few years, that remarkable man overran almost the whole of the then known world. He even lamented, as we know, that he had not another world to conquer. This is a striking commentary upon what we have here. Do we need to go to history for that? No. We find in this very book the explanation. In chapter 8. 20, 21, the third empire is shown to be the Grecian. “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.” There you have also a confirmation of what I said before, as to the second kingdom. But when this ram was there, a fierce goat came that had a notable horn between his eyes. With this single horn that he has in his head, he butts against the ram, who represented these kings of Media and Persia. Here we have the third kingdom, that was to “bear rule over all the earth.” What is its name? The 21St verse gives the answer.
“The rough goat is the King of gives the and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” We do not need history to explain prophecy. We have here the distinct, positive answer from the word of God, as to what the third kingdom is; and all real research you may make in history will only confirm this, but you do not need it. If you take your stand upon the word of God, you are upon a ground that no history can touch, for a single instant. God, who gives the only sure account, shows that the Medo-Persian empire is followed by the Grecian. The sole great horn of the latter is broken, and “for it came up four notable ones, towards the four winds of heaven.” The kingdom of Alexander, at his death, was broken up into four great parts, which his generals fought for. You have their comparative littleness in the presence of Alexander. He was the great horn, the first king and representative of the third kingdom. The next question is, What was to follow that? What other great empire was to succeed; and that, the last empire before God should set up His kingdom? The Old Testament history closes before the third empire begins. The last facts historically stated are in the Book of Nehemiah, while the Persian was still the great king: i.e., the second empire was yet supreme. But the New Testament history opens, and what do I find there? I have only to read the beginning of Luke, and I hear of another great empire then ruling. “It came to pass, in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” There I have, at once, the fourth kingdom, without requiring to ask history for it. There is a fourth kingdom, and the word of God shows it to be universal; it summons men throughout the world to be enrolled in its register; and God takes care that there should be a legal acknowledgment even of His own Son's having been then born.
The fourth kingdom, then, was the Roman empire. When I know that from scripture, I can go to history, which tells me that it was the Roman empire winch crushed the power of Greece. They got the Greeks first to join them in beating the Macedonians and then they turned upon the Greeks, and soon put them down.
Afterward, the Romans extended their conquests all over Asia. What does God say about it? “The fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.” And if people do call in history, can they see things more clearly? Where can they show as just a description of that empire as that which God gives here? One well-known historian, when speaking about the empires, describes them in the liveliest imagery derived from these very symbols of Daniel the prophet. He could find no figures so apt as those which the Spirit of God had consecrated to their use already, though every one knows it was front no lack of imagination, any more than the wish to accredit scripture.
Even this is not all that God gives us. “Forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.” Never was a description more exactly to the point. I could quote passages from the old Roman writers, which show that they themselves give an account of their own empire and policy in terms substantially similar.
But there was something they could not tell, and that was beyond what man could foresee. That power that above all other was distinguished for the strength in warring down every one that rose up against it, whatever its kindness to those who stooped to the conqueror—that very power is described here thus:— “And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter's clay and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided.” The Romans do not tell us that. History is not always a truthful speaker. Those that describe their own country's statecraft are not in general very trustworthy. If there was that which threatened extinction, they are as glad to hide it, as they were ready to boast in whatever evidence their boldness, strength, and glory. But God tells all out, and we find that the same empire which was to be so celebrated for its amazing strength, is to exhibit also the greatest inherent weakness. “There shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: But they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” The iron was the original element; the clay was brought in subsequently, and properly did not belong to the great metal statue: it was a foreign ingredient. When and whence did it come? I believe that the Spirit of God in using the figure of clay refers not to the original Roman element, which had the strength of the iron, but to the barbaric hordes which broke in at a later period, weakening the Roman power, and forming by degrees separate kingdoms. I can, however, only state this as my own judgment founded upon the general use of scripture language and ideas. We have what was not properly and originally Roman, but was brought in from elsewhere: and it is the mixture of the two elements that is productive of the weakness and that finally leads to division. These hordes of barbarians that forced themselves in at first, professed not to be conquerors, but guests of Rome, and finally settled themselves within its limits. This it was that subsequently led to the division of the empire into a number of separate, independent kingdoms, when the power and pride of imperial Rome was broken. Charlemagne, later on cherished the desire of universal empire, and he labored hard to realize it; but it was a failure, and all that he acquired in his life was separated in his death. Another man attempted it in our own days. I mean, of course, the exile of St. Helena. he had at heart the same universal monarchy. What was the issue? His success was still more short-lived. All was completely broken up into its original elements before he had breathed his last. And so it will continue in the main, until the moment spoken of here but more fully entered into in the book of the Revelation. This is, I believe, what scripture lays down about it. There will be, before this age closes, time most remarkable union of two apparently contradictory elements—a universal head of empire, and separate independent kingdoms besides, each of which will have its own king; but that one man will be the emperor, over all these kings. Till that time comes, every effort to unite the different kingdoms together will be a total failure. And then it will he not by fusing them together into one kingdom, but each independent kingdom having its own king, though all subject to one head. God has said they shall be divided. This, then, is what is shown to us. “They shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” And if ever there was a portion of the world that has represented this incoherent system of kingdoms, it is modern Europe. As long as the iron predominated, there was one empire, but then came in this clay; the foreign material. In virtue of the iron there will be a universal monarchy, while in virtue of the clay there will be separate kingdoms.
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” Mark those words, “In the days of these kings.” This is a complete answer to those who have tried to make this the birth of Christ, and the introduction of what they call the kingdom of grace. At the time here spoken of, the empire is broken up and divided. Was that the case when the Lord was born? Could it be said then, “in the days of these kings?” Nothing of the sort. Rome was then in its fullest power: there was not the smallest breach apparent throughout the empire. There was but one ruler, and one will predominant. It was not therefore “in the days of these kings.” What then does the verse refer to I believe to the closing scene of the Roman Empire: not to the time when Christ was born, but when God “bringeth again the first-begotten into the world” —when the Lord Jesus is brought in not as the Nazarene to suffer and to die, but when he comes with divine power to judge. The stone cut without hands,” though in a sense applicable to Him at any time, applies really and fully then. We have the interpretation here. It does not refer to His Person, so much as to the kingdom that the God of heaven shall set up in Him and by Him. No doubt He is the stone; but this is a destructive stone extinguishing the kingdoms of the earth. Can any one deny it? The stone was “cut out of the mountain without hands, and it break in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold.” There was the crash of all the image. Was that the case when Christ was born? Did Christ attack the Roman Empire? Did He destroy it? On the contrary, Christ was killed, and it was their minister that was the official means of his crucifixion. The image, we may say, smote Him, instead of His smiting the image. Such an interpretation is unworthy of serious attention.
The stone falls upon the feet of the image, the toes of which were part of iron and part of clay; that is the last condition of the Roman Empire. After all the division, the stone smites it. Thus, its action is not grace, but judgment. It is not a sower sowing seed, to produce life; still less is it leaven diffusing itself over certain limits. Its blow falls destructively upon the image and shatters it completely. It is evident then that the first coming of Christ is not the question here. His birth is wholly passed by. It took place during the course of the Roman empire and in no way destroyed it. Whereas what will deal with the Roman empire yet, is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the day that is future.
But some will say, How can that be? There is no Roman empire now. But let use ask, How does that show that there is not to be a Roman empire? Can you prove that the Roman empire is not to revive? What is given me here is that the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold are broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors.
Further, I am told, in the revelation, that the beast, representing the imperial power of Rome, is remarkably characterized, as “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” (Rev. 17:8.) The last expression, which in the English version is so obscurely rendered “and yet is,” should be “and shall be present." There is no doubt about this at all. No man that knows the Apocalypse properly, would dispute that. If so, it follows the beast or empire that existed, when the Apostle John was there, was to be in a state of non-existence, and then to appear again, ascending out of the bottomless pit. That is, it will be the power of Satan that will accomplish the re-union of the fragments that make up the Roman Empire. And it is remarkable, that when the beast is seen again, this chapter shows that there will be ten kings that will agree to give their power to the beast, or person then raised up of Satan to organize and govern the empire. He will use this vast power against God and the Lamb; every appearance of Christianity will be destroyed, idolatry will be restored, and antichrist set up. Then God, as it were, will say I will endure this no longer; the hour is come. The Lord Jesus will leave the right hand of God, and will execute judgment upon these vile pretenders.
In the days of these kings, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” The first action of that stone is to destroy. It is not a question of saving souls; it is judgment and destruction: putting down kingdoms, and everything that exalts itself against the true God.
But a difficulty may arise here, as to how it is that, when this destructive blow falls, we have the gold, the silver, and the brass, all jumbled together, with the iron and clay—as if these successive empires existed together at the end. The truth is, that though Babylon for instance, lost its imperial place, it existed subordinately under the powers that succeeded; and so with each following empire till Rome. (Comp. Dan. 8:11, 12.) So that what the final judgment of the fourth empire takes place, there will still be the representatives of its three predecessors, distinct from itself. And this makes evident that by the last empire is meant what is exclusively western, and not that which had belonged to the previous empires.
Thus it is the great seat of modern civilization (i.e., the ten kingdoms of the beast) that will be the scene of this tremendous apostasy. And this will be allowed in the judicial wisdom of God, because men have not received the love of the truth that they might be saved. God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; “that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” I have not a question that this is the future history of the world, on the authority of the word of God. This remarkable prophecy brings us down from the first beginning of imperial power, and finally shows us in the last days, before God sets up his kingdom, the judgment of the world as it is, when God will deal with the quick, not with the dead merely. He will judge the habitable world in righteousness, by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.

Remarks on Daniel 3

THE chapters which fill up the interval between chaps. 2. and 7. are devoted to the statement of historical facts, and therefore might not seem at first sight to have a prophetical character. But we must bear in mind that Scripture in general has an infinitely larger scope than the bare statement of circumstances, be it ever so instructive and important morally. Indeed, this is true of all the Bible. Take such a book, for instance, as Genesis. Though it is clearly historical, and one of the simplest narratives in the Bible, yet it would be wrong to strip it of an outlook into the most distant future. We have the Spirit of God in the New Testament referring over and over again to its most significant facts. Thus, in that incident of Melchizedec, we see the bearing that is given it by the Holy Ghost in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the allusion to it in other parts of Scripture. A priest and king, two characters that were often united in those days, meets Abraham on his return from the slaughter of the kings, brings forth suited refreshment for the victors, pronounces blessing in the name of Him whose priest he was, and receives tithes as well from Abraham. Yet we must remember that the word of God reasons on this, as indicative of a vast change which has already come in, and leaves open a good deal more looks onward to the day of Christ, as I conceive. In the Hebrews, where the subject of Christ's priesthood, as now in heaven, is discussed, some important features of the type are barely alluded to, not applied. The primary drift there is to show from the Jewish Scriptures a higher character of priesthood than that of Aaron—a priesthood that was not derived from any predecessor, nor handed down to a successor. I only refer to this to show that Scripture gives a typical (and what is that, in other words, but a prophetical?) value to what might appear to be an authentic account of an historical event. Such a character I claim for these facts in the Book of Daniel. For it is plain that, if in the most unvarnished books of inspired history, such as Genesis or Exodus, where prophecy is not the ostensible object or peculiarly-marked feature, you have incident on incident, clearly used in the New Testament as foreshadowing good things to come, we may still more strongly infer that in a prophecy such as this of Daniel, we are to read not only the visions as directly prophetic, but also the facts connected with them as instinct with a kindred spirit. It were easy to produce analogous examples from elsewhere. Let us look for a moment at the prophecy of Isaiah. There, after a long series of prophetic strains, you have a break. Certain well known historical facts are related—the invasion and destruction of the Assyrian; and as to Hezekiah, his sickness and his recovery, the wonder done in the land, and the visit of the embassy from the King of Babylon. Then you have the prophecy recommencing, and following on its course. It could be readily proved that the facts related of Sennacherib and Hezekiah have a definite and most instructive bearing upon the prophecies in the midst of which they are imbedded. So that merely to regard them as facts introduced historically into such a connection, and, with no further or deeper reason, dividing one half of the book from the other, would be to deprive them of at least half their value. Am I too bold, therefore, in assuming it as a general truth applicable to the word of God as a whole, that Scripture is not to be lowered down to the mere recital of the facts it records; but that those facts were chosen expressly in the wisdom of God, and were given in an orderly manner, for the purpose of representing the awful ways of man and Satan, and the glorious scenes before the mind of God Himself that are to be re-enacted in the latter day? And if this be the case with the strictly historical portion of God's word, it is only reasonable that it should be emphatically true of a prophetic book such as this.
The evidence, however, of this will much more appear as we follow the facts as they are given here. We shall then see what is the connection, and what the special bearing, of the chapters themselves better than by more labored presumptions that I might gather from other parts of the Word of God. For that is and must be the grandest testimony of all to the real meaning of Scripture. Revealed truth is like the light. It is not that which requires illumination from without in order to let us know what it means; but it displays itself. You do not need a taper or a torch from man to find out the light of day. The sun, as it wants none, entirely eclipses all such artificial helps; it shines for itself, and rules the day. So it is that wherever you find a man capable of seeing, the truth commends itself. He has, what the Evangelist Luke calls, “an honest heart,” and what other Scriptures speak of as “a single eye.” Wherever the truth is really brought to bear upon a man that is open to receive it as the precious light of God in Christ, they answer mutually to each other. The heart is prepared for it—desires it; and when the truth is heard, he bows, receives and enjoys it. When the heart, on the contrary, is occupied with itself, or with the world, there is no truth that can possibly bend it. The will of man is at work; and that is the constant unvarying enemy of God. Therefore it is said (John 3.) that no man can see or enter the kingdom of God without being born again—born of water and of the Spirit. That is, there must be a direct, positive work of the Holy Ghost, dealing with the soul, judging it and giving it a new nature, which has as decided an affinity for the things of God as the old life has for the things of the world. The Spirit acts upon the new creature, and gives intelligence; and the truth, is, we may say, its natural sustenance.
I do not doubt, therefore, that we shall find in this third chapter of Daniel, as in the three which follow that each has its distinctive features; and that these were not merely seen in what was passing in the days of Daniel, but that they were registered by the prophet to indicate the course now past, and the future destiny of the great Gentile powers. We are to view them in the light of the prophecies that surround them—to take them, not as facts put down, as any man might do it, haphazard. In short, God has given them here, linked in the most intimate way with the prophecy where they are found.
In Chap. 2. we saw God's sovereign dealing with a man raised up from among the Gentiles, to be the minister of His authority. This takes a new form, in consequence of the people of Israel and their kings having definitively proved themselves unworthy of God's purpose and calling, Thereon God introduces the imperial system of government in the world. It was not merely allowing a single nation to grow in power, and be the terror of its neighbors; or a blessed example of the ways of God. One ruler is allowed to be the master of the world—one great sovereign, not only a mighty king, but a ruler of kings, who were but subordinates or satellites. That began with Nebuchadnezzar, and it characterizes the Gentile empire. An objection might be raised that we do not find any such power existing now. That is true. There exists no such imperial rule in the world, nor has there been since the fall of Rome; though there have been certain pretenders to it. But it has failed. The book of the Revelation shows us this suspension. There was such a ruler once, while imperial Rome subsisted—one who had kings for his servants. But now there is an interval, when all that is over. Still it is to be revived. And this, I believe, is one great fact that awaits the world at the present time. It will take men by surprise; and when accomplished, will be the means of concentrating the power of Satan, and of bringing about his plans on the earth. All this has a very serious interest for us. We stand near the crisis in the world's history; and even those who look for signs own that we are drawing near the close of the age, and of the times of the Gentiles. The re-organization of the empire is not far off. And it is solemn to remember that, when revived, it will not be a mere repetition of what has been done before; but the power of Satan will be put forth in a way never yet witnessed. “And God shall send strong delusion that men should believe a lie, because they believed not the truth, and had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Very many of my Christian brethren may cry out that I speak uncharitably. The Word of God, however, is wiser that men. It is not a thought of mine, nor of any other man. None would have gathered such a prospect from their own minds. But God has most clearly revealed it. People may plead the wonderful works of God of late in one distant country and another: and the answer of blessing that is, as it were, echoing back from some quarters near us. But these things in no way contradict what I have stated. We may always see these two things going on together, when men approach the verge of some mighty change. On the one hand, the general power of evil increases and the pride of man swells to an unprecedented height. On the other hand, the spirit of God works energetically, winning souls to Christ, and separating those that are to be saved from the destruction which is the necessary end of sin and pride. So that I believe, when any crisis of evil is at hand, what we ought to expect is this increase of blessing from God, during the rime of suspense that immediately precedes judgment.
But turning to the immediate subject of the chapter, imperial power is in the hands of the Gentiles; and the first thing told of that power is, that it was used to set up idolatry—abused, rather, to give a splendor to idolatry unexampled in the old world. And a most humbling consideration it is: the evident connection between the golden idol that Nebuchadnezzar set up in the plain of Dura, and that image which he had seen in the visions of the night. It is true that the image he had made was not an exact copy. Still, is it not grave to find that the first thing that Nebuchadnezzar does, as far as Scripture gives it to us, is to command a golden image to be set up, that all the people, the nations, and the languages, might fall down and worship it? One thing, at least, is plain: that whether the golden head of the great image had suggested the thought or not, at any rate it did not binder him. On the contrary, here we find that the authority God had put into his hands is turned to this frightful use. The reason, I believe, was this: Nebuchadnezzar was a man as wise according to the flesh as he was willful. He stood most evidently in a place that no man had ever occupied before. Not only the sovereign of a vast kingdom, but the absolute master of many kingdoms, speaking different tongues, and having all sorts of contrary habits and policies. What then was to be done with then! How were all these various nations to be kept and governed well under one head? There is an influence that is mightier than any other thing, which, if common, binds men closely together; but which, if jarring, on the contrary, more than anything else, arrays people against people, house against house, children against parents, and parents against children, nay, husbands and wives against each other. There is no social dislocation to be compared with that which is produced by a difference of religion. Consequently, to avert so great a peril, union in religion was the measure that the devil insinuated into the mind of the politic Chaldean as the surest bond of his empire. He must have one common religious influence in order to weld together the hearts of his subjects. In all probability, to his mind it was a political necessity. Unite them in worship, unite all hearts in bowing down before one and the same object, and there would be something that would give the hope and opportunity of consolidating all these scattered fragments into a whole. Accordingly, he projects the idea of the gorgeous image of gold for the plain of Dura, near the capital of the empire: and there it is that he summons all the leading men, the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, all in power and authority, to come together to the dedication. He surrounds it, too, with everything that could attract nature and act upon the senses. All kinds of music must contribute to the scene. When the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, &c., was heard, this was the signal for the representatives of that vast realm to “fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” Man can but make an idol; he cannot even find out the true God. If it is a question of having the world's homage, the only thing that will carry away men on a vast scale must be something of this creation, something adapted to the nature of man as he is. You cannot unite hearts that are true with such as are false. But if the true God is shut out, Satan is there to find something which, if introduced by the authority of man, may command all but universal acquiescence. So it was here. The authority, therefore, of the empire was put forth, and all were commanded to worship the golden image on pain of death. “Whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”
“Therefore, at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. But there were some apart from that idolatrous throng; very few, alas! though no doubt there were others hidden. We may be bold enough to say there was one not mentioned here—Daniel himself. However that be, his three companions were not there; and this made them obnoxious to others; especially as their position, exalted as it was in the province of Babylon, exposed them to more public notice. Of course they were singled out for the king's displeasure. “Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near and accused the Jews.” Then they remind the king of the decree that he had made, and add, “There are certain Jews, whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have not regarded thee; they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar, in his rage and fury, commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego,” &e.”
Now this appears to me a fact of very great importance. The use which the Gentile makes of his power is to set up a religion connected with the politics of the kingdom, a religion for present earthly purposes. Where this is the case, religion cannot be left between God and the conscience. It is no longer a question of having a real conviction as to God and His truth, nor is there liberty to judge the imposture. The worship devised by the Gentile king is bound down upon the subject under penalty of death.
There may be certain things, which hinder for a season, the natural result of the world's will in having its religion condemned. And this has been the case for some time. For the last fifty years and more, every one knows there has been a certain system of opinion, commonly called liberalism. This has got hold of men's minds. In no way does it respect God and his word as such. Its great stock-in-trade is the rights of man. Its cardinal virtue is, that all should be left free to think, act, and worship as they please. As long as this idea of man's rights is allowed to have play, the mercy of God turns it into an occasion for Christians having a conscience towards Himself, to pass quietly through, and worship God according to His will. And as it was always unquestionable that God claimed the right over This own people; as His revealed will alone can rightly govern them, so as the Father He now seeks his children, that they may worship Him in spirit and in truth. The renewed heart and conscience delight in His will and find the chief blessedness here in exalting Him. To the believer, that will is just as peremptory as the absolutism of the heathen king. Liberalism really dislikes this exclusive claim over the conscience. Still, it has led to a sort of calm in the world; and the full exercise of its authority, as to religion, is in abeyance for the time. For, apart from temporary circumstances, none can deny that, wherever there is a religion introduced by the monarch, for the guidance of his realm, necessarily it does not admit of difference, contradiction, or compromise. This would defeat the purpose for which it is imposed. But it is to fight against God. The monarch himself may have a conscience, and he is, of course, bound to worship God according to His will. But the using the authority of the realm to coerce others is the denial, practically, of God's direct control over the individual conscience.
The lesson, then, that we have here, is that, at the very outset, this was what the Gentile made of the power God gave; to set up its own religion, and bind it upon the whole of its subjects. That is, all its authority from God was turned to deny the true God, and to compel universal obedience to its own idol, with a frightful death held up as the immediate forfeit in case of disobedience. This was the great characteristic of the first of the Gentile empires.
But the evil of man and the craft of Satan only serve to bring the faithful into view. The king commands them to be cast into the burning fiery furnace. He first, no doubt, remonstrates, and gives them the opportunity of yielding. “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now, if ye be ready, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, &c.... ye fall down and worship the image that I have made, well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, and who is the God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” It is solemn to see how evanescent was the impression made upon the king's mind. The last act recorded before this image was set up, was his falling down on his face before Daniel, paying him all but divine honors. He had even said, “Of a truth it is that your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldst reveal this secret.” But it was another thing when he finds out his power disputed, and his image despised, spite of the burning fiery furnace.
It was all very well to acknowledge God for a moment when He was revealing a secret to him. That was plainly decided in chapter 2. And Daniel there represents those who have the mind of God and who are found in the place of fearing God. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.”
But God had delegated power to the head of the Gentiles, Nebuchadnezzar. And now that these men had dared to brave the consequences rather than worship the image, he is filled with fury, which vents itself in scorn of God Himself. “Who is that God,” he says, “that shall deliver you out of my hands?” The consequence was that it was now a question between him whom God had set up and God Himself.
But a most beautiful and blessed feature comes out here. It is not God's way, at the present, to meet power by power. It is not His way to deal with the Gentiles in destruction, even where they may be abusing power against the God who has set them in authority. And I call your attention to this, believing it to be an important thing practically. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego do not in any ways take the ground of resisting Nebuchadnezzar in his wickedness. We know afterward that his conduct was so evil that God stripped him of all glory, and even intelligence as a moan, for a long time. But, still, these godly Men do not pretend that he is a false king because he sets up and enforces idolatry. For the Christian, the question is not about the king, but how he ought to behave himself It is not his business to meddle with others. He is called to walk, relying on God, in patience and obedience. In the great mass of every day obligations we can obey God, in obeying the laws of the land in which we live. This might be the case in any country. If one were even in a popish country I believe, that in the main, one might obey God without transgressing the laws of the land. It might be necessary, sometimes, to hide oneself. If they were coming, for instance, with their processions, and required a mark of respect to the host, one ought to avoid the appearance of insulting their feelings, while, on the other hand, one could not acquiesce in their false worship. But it is important to remember that government is set up and acknowledged of God; and it has, therefore, claims upon the obedience of the Christian man wherever he may be. One of the New Testament epistles takes up this question, the very one that brings out the foundations, characteristics, and effects of Christianity, as far as regards the individual, more than any other. I allude to the Epistle to the Romans, the most comprehensive of all the Pauline epistles. There we have, first of all, man's condition brought out fully; then the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The first three chapters are devoted to the subject of man's ruin; the next five to with Israel and the Gentiles. After that, we have the practical, or at least the perceptive, part of the epistle. First, in chapter 12, the relations of Christians, one to another, and then, after a gradual transition, to enemies at the close; and, next, their relation to the powers that be. (Chap. 13.) The very expression, “the powers that be,” seems intended to embrace every form of government under which Christians might be placed. They were to be subject, not merely under a king, but where there was another character of sovereign; not only where the government was ancient, but let it be ever so newly established. The business of the Christian is to show respect to all who are in authority; to pay honor to whom honor is due, “owing no man anything save love.” And what makes this so particularly strong is, that the emperor then reigning was one of the worst and most cruel men that ever filled the throne of the Caesars. And yet there is no reserve or qualification, nay, the very reverse of an insinuation that if the emperor ordered what was good, the Christians were to obey but, that if not, they were free from their allegiance. The Christian is always to obey, not always Nero or Nebuchadnezzar, but always to obey God. The consequence is, that this at once delivers from the very smallest real ground for charging a godly person with being a rebel. I am aware that nothing will of necessity bar a Christian from an evil reputation. It is natural for the world to speak evil of one that belongs to Christ—to Him whom they crucified. But from all real ground for such an accusation this principle delivers the soul. Obedience to God remains untouched; but I am to obey the powers that be in whatever is consistent with obeying God, no matter how trying.
The light of these faithful Jews was far short of what the Christian ought to have now; they had only that revelation of God which was the portion of Israel. But faith always understands God: whether there is little light or much, it seeks and finds the guidance of God. And these men were in the exercise of a very simple faith. The emperor had put forth a decree that was inconsistent with the foundation of all truth—the one true God. Israel was called expressly to I maintain that Jehovah was such, and not idols. Here was a king who had commanded them to fall down and worship an image. They dare not sin; they must obey God rather than man. It is nowhere said that we must ever disobey man. God must be obeyed—whatever the channel, God always. If I do a thing ever so right in itself, on the mere ground that I have a right to disobey man under certain circumstances, I am doing the lesser of two evils. The principle for a Christian man is never to do evil at all. He may fail, as I do not deny; but I do not understand a man quietly settling down that he must accept any evil whatever. It is a heathenish idea. An idolater that had not revealed light of God could know no better. Yet you will find Christian persons using the present confession of the condition of the Church as an excuse for persevering in known evil, and saying, Of two evils, we must choose the lesser! But I maintain that whatever the difficulty may be, there is always the path of God for the godly to walk in. Why then do I find practical difficulty? Because I wish to spare myself. If I compound for even a little evil, the broad way of ease and honor lies open, but I sacrifice God and come under the power of Satan. It was just the advice that Peter gave our Lord when He spoke of being put to death. “Far be it from thee—pity thyself—Lord.” So with the Christian. By doing a little evil, by compromising the conscience by avoiding the trial that obeying God always entails, no doubt a person may thus often avoid a good deal of I the world's enmity, and gain its praise, because he did well to himself. But if the eye is single in this, God always must have His rights, always be owned in the soul as having the first place. If God is compromised by anything required of me, then I must obey God rather than man. Where this is held fast, the path is perfectly plain. There may be danger, possibly even death staring us in the face, as it was on this occasion. The king was incensed that these men should dare to say, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” Not careful to answer him! And what were they careful for? It was a question that concerned God. Their care was to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.” They were in the very spirit of that word of Christ before it was given. They had walked dutifully in the place the king had assigned them: there was no charge against them. But now there arose a question that deeply affected their faith, and they felt it. It was God's glory that had been interfered with and they trusted in Him.
Accordingly they say, “If it be so, our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.” How beautiful this is! In the presence of the king who never thought of serving any but himself, and who saw none but himself to serve, they say, “Our Lord, whom we serve.” They had served the king faithfully before, because they had ever served God; and they must serve God still, even if it had the appearance of not serving the king. But they have confidence in God. “He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.” This was not the mere abstract truth: it was faith. “He will deliver us.” But mark something better still. “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Even if God will not put forth His power to deliver us, we serve Himself; we will not serve the gods of this world. Oh! beloved friends, in what a place of dignity faith in the living God puts the man who walks in it. These men were at that moment the object of all the attention of the Babylonish empire. What was the image then? It was forgotten.
Nebuchadnezzar himself was powerless in presence of his captives of Israel. There they were calm and undaunted, when the king himself showed his weakness. For what can be more evident weakness than to yield to a fury that changes the form of his visage, and that utters menaces which utterly failed of their purpose? The furnace was heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated. The mighty men, the king's agents to cast them in, were themselves devoured by the flames.
And now when the deed is done, a new marvel passed before the eyes of the king. It was no vision now, but the manifest power of God. When the sword of the king was drawn out against God, how miserably futile it was! In the midst of this burning fiery furnace was a sight which arrested him. Astonished, the king “rose up in his haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O King. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt.” What was to be said of the power of Nebuchadnezzar now? What did it avail to be the mightiest monarch of the world, surrounded too with all that constituted the sinews of his force and the grandeur of his empire? There were these men that were bound and cast into the midst of the, burning fiery furnace, apparently the most pitiable case in his realm. But now he is obliged] to behold their bonds burnt, and themselves only set free by what was to be their destruction. But not this merely. There was another to be seen, and that other he can but say is the Son of God. “Lo, I see four men loose and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” Just as God might use a Balaam or a Caiaphas to speak the truth when they little thought of it and had no communion with Himself in it, so in this expression of the king's, “the Son of God,” there was amazing propriety, We cannot suppose that he entered into its meaning with intelligence. Still there was striking propriety in this respect. There are other titles he might have used. He might have said “Son of man,” or “the God of Israel,” or many more. But “Son of God” seems exactly suited to describe the scene: and therefore, I think, the overruling power of the Spirit of God was manifest in leading the king to use this expression. In the New Testament, where all truth comes out with distinctness, we find our Lord Himself referring to these two titles, both of which occur in Daniel—Son of man and Son of God. Son of man is the title of Christ in His judicial glory. He is Son of man “because all judgment is committed to Him.” As Son of God He gives life: He quickens in the midst of death. As Son of God, He frees those that were bound: and “if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” That verse seems to me a doctrinal commentary upon this very scene. There was the Son, and He was making the prisoners free. Man had bound them, had attempted to execute his threat of vengeance against any who should acknowledge the true God. These three men had jeoparded everything upon the truth of God Himself against all rivals and images, and God had come in for them with delivering power. The proud king not only owns his word changed, but associates their names with the most high God. He was not ashamed to be called their God.
The Gentile dominion is not over yet. And I believe that the close of it will bring in the same thing with as great force as ever. The book of the Revelation shows us that the last great Gentile king will employ all the authority of his government to enforce what will be called the religion” of that day. And then God will put forth His power miraculously to preserve his witnesses for their appointed work. There may be some that will suffer unto death, and differences in the ways in which God will act. But the revelation shows us that there will be persons preserved in the midst of the power that enforces idolatry in the last days.
When this takes place we shall not be upon the scene. Hence the mention of the Jews is emphatic at the time of the last great tribulation. For while men in general will be forced at the end to acknowledge the true God, before that there will be a fiery persecution put forth. There will be such a thing as “glorifying God in the fires:” an expression decidedly used about the remnant of Israel in the last days. The wonderful hand of God will be at work, but it will be with the Jews, not with Christians. As far as we are concerned, tribulation is our constant and proper portion in the world. The New Testament shows this from beginning to end. Nothing is plainer than that the Holy Ghost never acknowledges the Christian in any way except as separate from the world, the objects of its animosity and persecution, cast out, despised, unknown by the world. That is our place as recognized by the word of God. It is for the Christian to account for the fact that they have lost it; for clearly what I have been describing somehow or another does not apply at the present time. Is it that the world is getting better, or that they themselves have become worse? Conscience ought to answer, and God will use it, if upright, as the means of bringing me back to the place that I ought never to have left. All through the time of the Gentile supremacy, the Christian's place is obedience, For the most part what the power insists upon is that which the Christian can render with a ready mind; but when there comes a collision between the world's authority and God's we must obey God rather than men, let the consequences be what they may. This is the only thing that God owns in His people.
The Chapters that follow have each of them an increasingly marked connection with the course of the Gentile empire. But this is sufficient to bring out the fact that idolatry—worldly religion—a religion that is intended for every one, and bound down upon all, under pain of death is the first great feature recorded of Gentile empire, and will be found, more or less, to run through the whole of it. As this was the first exercise of authority, so it will be at the end of the age. The book of the Revelation shows us the last stage of the last Gentile empire; and there we find that what it began with, it will end with: that the same compulsion used here, to make all its subjects bow down and worship in a way of its own setting up, will re-appear at the close.
But we find another analogy. God at that time had His witnesses. And as the Jews were the persons that then withstood Gentile idolatry, they will come again upon the stage of God's dealings; and will be especially the witnesses that God will put honor upon. This godly remnant of Israel is represented by the disciples in the days of our Lord's earthly ministry. They will be a godly seed, cleaving to Him and love His name; and this, because they will have got hold, with more or less light of the Messiah. These persons will be found waiting for Jesus to come and take his kingdom, after the Church, properly so called, has passed out of the scene of God's dealings on the earth.
Thus, then, as Gentile authority began with this idolatry forced upon all, and the only witnesses for God were among the Jews; so, at the close, idolatry will re-appear, and God will have a faithful remnant again among that poor people—a testimony for Himself in the midst of apostasy.
But I hope, in looking at future chapters, to enter a little more into details. May we remember that what we have been now seeing is not merely for that day, nor does it concern the witnesses of that time only. If God will have a faithful people among the Jews then, may we who are Christians not be found disobedient unto the heavenly vision! We have a brighter prospect than any which Daniel saw. He was not privileged to see Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor. He could testify, on the one hand, of the rejection of Messiah, and on the other, of His universal and everlasting dominion. Between the one past and the other future, we know other and higher glories in Him now, and Himself in whom these blessings are treasured up. We know that he is the true God and eternal life, and ourselves blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Him. We are called out from this world to follow Him and be the sharers of his heavenly glory. It is but “a little while, and He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry,” And if this be so, how ought we to be apart from this present evil world! How ought we to keep clear of its attempt to put on the appearance of reverence for the name of Jesus! Alas! how often people get perplexed, and ask, Where and what is the world? The truth is, that all this is a lamentable proof that they are so mixed up with the world that they do not know it. The Lord grant that we may have no difficulty in knowing where the world is, and where we are. The Jew was obliged to enter it with the sword in his hand, executing judgment. But that is not the place of the Christian. We began with the sword against Christ, and Himself bowing to it. We began and should go on with the cross, looking for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, All our blessedness is founded on the cross, and all our hopes center in His glory, and His coming again for us.
The Lord grant that we may live thus, in the increasing knowledge of the Blessed One, with whom we have to do, and to whom we belong. Whatever, then, may be the danger and trial, we shall have the Son of God with us in it.
May we know more and more what it is to walk with Christ in liberty and joy. So shall we have Christ with us in every time of need.

Remarks on Daniel 4

WE have seen, after the vision of the great image, that a chapter followed, presenting at first sight little appearance of connection with the prophecy, but which, I trust, was shown to have a very important bearing upon it. For in chap. 2 we had merely the general history of the Gentile powers, not their moral qualities. Empire after empire rose on, and disappeared from, the scene of God's providence. But what was the character of these empires, how they used the power that was given into their hands by God, we saw not. These historical incidents were introduced purposely between the first grand outline in chap. 2 and the details which follow from chap. 7 to the end of the book. They show the conduct of the empire while in possession of supreme authority from God in the world. The first picture of their moral ways was given in chap. 3. Religion, such as it was, rendered compulsory by the Gentile power, irrespective of the claims of God and the conscience of man.
The principle of this from the first runs through the times of the Gentiles. No doubt it seemed necessary, ill consequence of the immense extent of the empire to have some one controlling religion that would bind together the various lands and subject nations. What a return for the place of honor in which God had put Nebuchadnezzar! Nevertheless, it only gave occasion for God to display His power, even in the Jewish captives now under the control of the Gentiles. In the chapter before it was plain that the wisdom of God was found among them. All the lore of the Babylonish empire was completely at fault. Daniel alone could explain the visions. But although divine wisdom was there, power is another thing, and God took advantage of the terrible punishment, as it seemed, of the three Hebrews, and showed Himself most conspicuously as the Deliverer of the faithful in the hour of their need. The beginning of Gentile empire is only the foreshadowing of what will be the closing scene. And as there was then deliverance by divine power at the beginning, so there will be by and by: and this specially found in connection with the faithful of Israel, the Jews. I do not mean, of course, with the Jews in their present state; because, now, a Jew remaining such is an enemy of God. But that will not always be the case. The time is coming when the seed of Abraham, without ceasing to be a Jew, will be converted to God—will receive the Messiah according to the prophecies. I do not mean that he will enter into the same blessed knowledge and enjoyment that we have now; but that he will be among the faithful to be found in the latter day, as is predicted in many prophecies. Of course, a very important change is supposed, which is to take place in the history of the world; or rather, God will remove from the world that which is not of the world, in order that he may resume his interest in what is taking place upon the earth. Because, at the present time, God's work is not immediately connected with the movements of the world. Its stages of progress and decline are not the expression of His will, although He always exercises a providential control over them. But there was a time in the world's history when God took a direct, immediate interest in what was going on among men. Even their battles were said to be the Lord's battles; and their defeats, famines, &c., were sent as a known infliction from God for some evil that He was dealing with. Now while it remains perfectly true that there is no war or sorrow of any kind that happens without God, and all is decidedly under this sovereign control, it is not in the way of the same direct government. So that a person cannot now say, this war is at the word of God; or, this famine is a chastening for such and such an evil. That would be indeed both ignorance and presumption. No doubt there are persons quite ready enough to pronounce as to these matters. Their mistake arises from not appreciating the great change that has taken place in God's government of the world. As long as Israel was the nation in whom God was displaying His character for the earth, these things were found directly and immediately from God. But from the time God gave up His people Israel, it has been merely the indirect, providential control of a general kind that God exercises over human affairs.
Another thing has come in. When the true Christ was rejected by Israel, and Israel thereby lost their opportunity of being restored to their place of supremacy, God, we may say, took advantage of this to bring in another thing—the calling of the Church. It was no longer God governing a nation like Israel under His law; nor was it simply an indirect government of the Gentiles; but the revelation of Himself as a Father to His children in Christ, and the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, not only to act upon their hearts, but to dwell in their midst, and to baptize them, Jew or Gentile, into one body, the body of Christ the Head in heaven. That goes on now. And therefore God has no particular relations with the Jews now. He does not deal with them any more than with others, save that they have a sentence of judicial blindness upon them. They were blind before. God did not make them to refuse Christ. He never makes any person blind in that sense; only sin does that. But when men refuse the light of God, and obstinately reject its every testimony, He may and does give up sometimes to a total darkness, in the sense of its being a judicial one, added to what is natural to the human heart. The nation of Israel is under that judicial blindness now. But while that is the case with the great mass, it is not so with all. There is always to be a remnant of Israel. They are the only nation indeed of which that can be said—the only nation that God has never absolutely given up. Other nations may know God visiting them for a time, and visiting them remarkably in grace. Our own country God has most marvelously blessed—given men His word freely, and many other privileges. But while that is the case, there is no obligation on God's part always to keep England in that position. If this country show a deaf ear, turning away from the truth, and preferring idolatry, which is not at all impossible, it will certainly be given up, and will fall under the delusion which God will send upon the world by and by. But God bound Himself by special promise to Israel, and He will never give them up entirely. In Israel there will always be a holy seed in the very darkest times. And this is connected with a remark that I made before. While God is occupied with the work of gathering out the Church, there cannot be any special relation with Israel in bringing them out as His people, and delivering them out of their distresses, and the like. But when God is pleased to remove the Church out of this present scene, Israel will come forward again; and it is in that day when their hearts are touched by the Spirit of God that there will be the fulfillment of a deliverance, the type of which we see in the end of chap. 3.
Upon that occasion, I may just observe, the king was so far moved, that he commanded, as a sort of ordinance of his realm, that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, should be honored; and that any person who attempted to speak against that God should be cut in pieces, and their houses made a dunghill. But we do find this: that whether it was the special honor that he paid to Daniel an cloud, it passed away from the mind of the king. He himself records in this chapter how little the ways of God had reached his heart, however he might for the moment have been struck with the display of His wisdom. It is one thing to show honor to a prophet, and to compel the subjects of his realm to honor the God who delivered as none other could. But how was it with Nebuchadnezzar himself? “I, Nebuchadnezzar,” he says, “was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace.” Thus you see it is plain from his own account, although he gives it to show the mercy manifested towards him, that after all the wondrous transactions of the previous chapters, Nebuchadnezzar was just the same man at bottom still. There was no thorough change in his soul—no such thing as his heart brought to God. He was at rest in his house, and flourishing in his palace. As the man of the earth, all that God had given into his hands only fed his pride and self-complacency. In this condition God sends him a fresh testimony. “I saw a dream which made me afraid; and the thoughts upon my bed, and the visions of my head, troubled me.” Therefore he makes a decree, commanding to bring in all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known the interpretation of the dream. It was in vain. They came, and he told the dream. But he says, “They did not make known to me the interpretation thereof. But, at the last, Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my God,” &c. To him he speaks with confidence. “O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.” He may speak to him in a heathenish style; the wisdom of the Most High God in him he may attribute to his own gods; but still he does acknowledge that there is something special and peculiar in Daniel. He also alludes to the vision in the same style. Daniel, when he hears the dream, and realizes its meaning, was troubled and amazed for one hour. Nor must we confine this to the story of Nebuchadnezzar. Just as we saw in chap. 2 That the king was said to be the head of gold, so in this chapter he was the tree. But in chap. 2 it was not the king personally alone, but his dynasty that was represented by the head of gold. In a certain sense, what was true of Nebuchadnezzar would characterize the Gentile empire to the close. So in the present scene. Daniel had the pain and horror of seeing what awaited Nebuchadnezzar. And this, alas! too plainly foreboded the issue of this new system that the God of heaven had set up.
But following simply the chapter before us, Daniel explains the vision. “My lord,” said he, “let the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The tree that thou rawest, which grew and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong.” Every one must be familiar with the way in which both the psalms and prophets use the figure of the tree to describe the position assigned by God to Israel, as well as to other people. Thus, the vine in Psa. 80 is clearly what Israel was intended to be in the purpose of God. But there was total failure. And so we see in Jer. 2., Ezek. 15; &c., God's purpose seemed to be broken. But He never gives it up. He may repent of creation. But wherever there is that which is not barely the work of His hand, but the fruit of the action of His heart,—and that His purpose is.—God never abandons. Where he merely calls into being that which did not exist before, a change may come in. But there is no change where God sets His love upon a person, and gives certain suited gifts. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom. 11:29.) This is a very important thing, as connected with individual souls. Doubt the faithfulness of God in any one respect, and you weaken it as to everything else. If God could call His people Israel, and afterward give them up absolutely, how could I be sure that God would keep me always as His child? For if ever it was tried, it was in Israel. If I believe in the faithfulness of God to myself, individually, why doubt it as to Israel? The question always is, Is God faithful? Has He departed from His purpose, or withdrawn His gifts? If not, whatever appearance may say for a time, God will vindicate His truth and mercy in the end.
But to return, the figure of the cedar-tree in Ezek. 31:3, may yet more help to illustrate what we have in Daniel. “Behold the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches and with a shadowing shroud and of an high stature; and on his top was among the thick boughs.” Then later on we find “the cedars in the garden of God could not hide him.” Those were the other powers in the world. “The fir-trees were net like his boughs,” &c. And, further still, we find that there is an allusion to Pharaoh, king of Egypt (ver. 18.) But I will not dwell upon it further. My desire has been to prove from these different passages, that it is a common thing in scripture to use the tree, either as a symbol of fruit-bearing or of a place of high dignity and importance. In the New Testament the figure extended to that which for a season supersedes Israel. Matt. 13 shows us that the dispensation of the kingdom of heaven is, in one of its phases, compared to a tree sprouting up from small beginnings. The Lord unfolds the history of professing Christendom. In Matt. 12 he had given His sentence upon Israel. The last state should be worse than the first. Such will be the state of the wicked generation of Israel, that put the Lord Jesus to death, before God judges it. Then the Lord turns to Christendom, and shows, first of all, His own work on earth. He sows seed. In the next parable an enemy appears upon the scene, intrudes into the field, and sows bad seed. It is the inroad of evil into the field of Christian profession. The parable following discloses that what was little in its commencement grows into a vast towering thing in the earth. The little mustard-seed becomes a great tree.
Now, we may see by these passages that in every case, whether it be an individual, as expressive of power, as Nebuchadnezzar, or a nation which takes the ascendant, or a system of religion, as in Matt. 13, the symbol of a tree points to greatness in the earth, unless fruit be the object. Such is its universal teaching. Of course, I am speaking now not so much of those trees that were merely for bearing fruit as of such as were chosen for their size and stateliness also. Earthly power is clearly meant by the tree in Daniel (ver. 21.) “In it was meat for all: under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation. It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong; for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.” This tree was the admiration of men. There was everything that gratified the heart: its own magnificent proportions, the beauty of its boughs and leaves, the abundance and sweetness of its fruits; the kindly shadow under which all these creatures, the beasts of the field and fowls of heaven, found protection. All this and more was found in it, and such were man's thoughts about it. But what was God's estimate? “And whereas the king saw a watcher, and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, new the tree down and destroy it.” Observe, it is merely a destruction for a time; there is no such thing as annihilation in any one thing in the mind of God. “Yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth.” There must be means used of God to maintain it alive. Leave it, therefore, He says, “With a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him.” “This is the interpretation,” he says, “O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king.” And then he gives its personal application to Nebuchadnezzar. In this case all was perfectly simple. Nebuchadnezzar was warned of what was to come upon him. He was to be driven from men, and his dwelling was to be with the beasts of the field. But more than that, he himself was to be reduced to their condition. “They shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven.” And this for a certain defined time. “And seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will.” We need not dwell upon this history of Nebuchadnezzar. No simple-minded believer would be disposed to raise difficulties about it. Men have done so, explaining it as a mere delusion in the king's mind. But these are not questions that a Christian ought even to consider, except for the good of another. The word affirms that king Nebuchadnezzar was, by God's power, reduced in appearance to a bestial condition. If we own that God could and did set aside the laws of nature, giving some to walk unhurt in the fiercest of fires, and preserving another intact in a den of lions, we must feel that it is a mere question of His will and word whether Nebuchadnezzar was brought into this terrible debasement; hunted about among the beasts of the field, and made to eat grass like the oxen. The man that believes the one must believe the other. God's power alone could so work, and God's word is the warrant for all.
But while that is plain and simple enough, we have a further image of the Gentile power, its self-exalting character, and the judgment of God upon it. I apprehend that Nebuchadnezzar, personally, only showed what would be the general tendency of the Gentiles as having power given him from God. He would admire and exalt himself; turning all the greatness that God had conferred upon him to his own credit. He was clearly shown the judgments that would come upon him; but the warning was unheeded. Therefore, “all this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from thee.” The sentence was executed. Exactly so have the Gentile powers acted with regard to God. I am not now speaking of individuals who may arise from time to time. Godly persons may have been in the position occupied even by Nebuchadnezzar; but, as a general rule, his successors from that day to this—those that have had the supremacy of the world and the world's glory—have used it in the main for themselves. I do not now speak so as to allow a feeling of disrespect towards these powers for a moment; but am only stating the well-known facts of Gentile rule. They were heathen for many centuries down to Christ, and after Christ; and when Christianity was accepted by Constantine, and its profession was by degrees taken up by the empire, no one can suppose that it was more than a system of religion adopted. But this did not hinder the general course of things. The only difference was: the heathen profession, which was dominant before, was put down, and that Christianity, which was trampled down before, was set up. Heathenism and Christianity changed places. Constantine may have thought it right to put down the heathen and show honor to the Christians; but there was no such question as his taking the Bible and inquiring, What is the will of God about me? How shall I show my obedience to God? That never has been the case since Nebuchadnezzar's time with any one that has swayed the world's destinies. It could not be. I speak of the great masters of the world, when the empire was an unbroken thing. And even since that, though there may have been exceptional cases of kings who have had the fear of God before them, yet even then it has not been in their power to change the substantial course of policy in their kingdoms. Those who have attempted to do so have completely failed. God's authority in the world is one thing, and God's having a soul obedient to Him as His servant is quite another.
This chapter shows us, then, the turning of all the power, and authority, and glory that God gave men into a means of gratifying their own pride. The consequence of this is, that all understanding of God's mind would be taken from them. Nebuchadnezzar had remarkable visions and revelations from God. But what did they avail? He had had this warning, the most personal one of all. But what did it avail? Daniel had counseled him to break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. He needed it not. Twelve months passed away, when, in pride of heart, he attributed all the greatness and splendor with which he was surrounded, to himself and the work of his own hands. That great Babylon was what he had built “for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty.” At once the sentence takes effect upon himself; and what was then literally true of him individually, was morally true of the Gentile powers as a whole. The character of the Gentiles all through would be without intelligence of God and without subjection to Him.
“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen. and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagle's feathers, and his nails like bird's claws.” In ver. 16, it had been said, “Let his heart be changed from man's and let a beast's heart be given unto him.” All thought of God was entirely lost. He had no more idea about God than a beast of the field. Even a natural man has a conscience in him. But Nebuchadnezzar lost all thought; was reduced to the non-intelligence of a beast. Mau was formed to be the being on earth that looked up to God, and stood in dependence upon Him. That is his glory. A beast enjoys, so to speak, what is its own sphere of enjoyment, according to the capacity that God has conferred upon it naturally; but it has no idea of the God that made it and all things. Man has. That is, recognition of God is the great essential difference between a man and a beast, if one may speak now in a sort of practical way of the truth intended to be taught by the history. I apprehend that we are shown by this history, if we read it typically, that the Gentile powers would give up the recognition of God in their government. They might use his name outwardly, but as for any owning of God as the source of all they possessed, it would completely pass from their minds; and so it has.
But there was a physical change which was what really took place in Nebuchadnezzar's case. Reduced to the condition of a beast, he lost what characterizes a man—all recognition of God. He had a beast's heart, as it is said here. He had nothing of the character and glory of a man. Man is put here below as the image and glory of God. He is responsible to make God known; and he can only do it because he looks up to God. There are those that have an outward semblance of man, but “man that is in honor abideth not; he is like the beasts that perish.” This received its most remarkable confirmation in the case of Nebuchadnezzar; but the same thing is true in principle of every man that has got self and not God before his eyes. That was exactly true of the Babylonish king. He understood not. He attributed all to himself and not to God; and so by a terrible retribution, he is reduced to the most abject state. Never had a Gentile possessed such glory and majesty as Nebuchadnezzar; but, in a moment, all is changed. In the height of his pride, the sentence of God falls upon him. He was “driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen,” &c, But all this had its limit. It was to be “till seven times had passed over him.” “Times” may have been used rather than years, perhaps, because this judgment of Nebuchadnezzar is the type of the condition to which the Gentile powers are reduced during the whole course of their empire. Hence a symbolic term may have been chosen rather than one of ordinary life. The Gentiles, spite of God's gift of supreme power, would be without any adequate recognition of him in their government. They would use their power for their own ends and interests. As to really and honestly conforming themselves to the will of God, when was such a thing ever heard of as the great object of any nation's policy since they got their power? I am not aware that it was ever even, thought of. So truly does this figure apply to the whole course of the Gentiles.
Let us look a little at the effect of the judgment on Nebuchadnezzar. The seven times passed over the king. “And the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes to heaven.” Then was the first great sign of returning intelligence. A beast looks downward. He never looks upward, in the moral sense of the expression. Man, acting morally as man, acknowledges in his conscience One from whom he has derived all and One whom he is bound to honor and obey. Nebuchadnezzar, when the term of the judgment was passed, lifted up his eyes unto heaven. He is taking the true place of a man. “And mine understanding returned unto me.” What was the consequence? “And I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever.” Mark the difference. On previous occasions, he might have bowed down before the prophet, and commanded sweet odors to be offered to him; he might send out statutes and decrees that the God of the Jews should be honored by all his subjects. But what does he now? He drops all others for the moment, and bows before God. Nebuchadnezzar is not occupied with compelling other people for good or ill, but himself blessing, praising and honoring the Most High. Observe, too, the expression “Most High;” because it is used here with particular emphasis. “I blessed the Most High, and praised and honoured him that liveth for ever; whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”
When the times of the Gentiles close, the stamp will assert its vitality, which was left in the earth protected by divine providence, and allow still to be a stay in the midst of the anarchy that would otherwise have overspread the earth. We must remember that the world's government is a signal mercy for the earth compared with having no government at all. Yet, while God has controlled it and kept it in His providence for the good of the world, there is a time coming, when it will sprout up again, and will be found really fulfilling the object for which God has established it in the earth. And when will this be? “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” When everything that has come from God will really be accomplished according to His will—when man will be blessed fully, and will no longer be as the beasts that perish—when Israel will not any more be found rejecting their own Messiah, nor the Gentiles arrogating to themselves the power conferred on them by God in His sovereign bounty. That same day will see all these glories shining out; but it can only be when Christ, who is our life shall appear, and when we shall appear with Him in glory. It is reserved for Him to be the head of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews. All nations and tribes and tongues shall serve Him. For God can only be known where Christ is known—can only be seen in His goodness and glory where Christ is recognized as the expression and substance of it. And so it will be in that bright day. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself will come, and establish, in perfection, everything that has only crumbled under man's hand, and that, at best, only a negative effect in the world, staying the evil here and there, but far short of the full means of blessing that God intends. When that day comes, it will be seen that Gentile government, not in its present corrupt state, but cleared of evil, and expanded according to the thoughts of God, will flourish in the earth, and be the channel of nothing but blessing. It is only sin which has hindered God's mercy in it hitherto. Thus, when the grand fulfillment will take place of this typical history of Nebuchadnezzar—when the time of the “beast's heart” towards God, caring only for self, gratifying pride and lust of power shall have passed away, God will take the reins into His own hands as the Most High God, and Gentiles shall bow in praise and thankful joy.
When that expression “Most High God” first occurs, there is a very striking scene. And in Scripture we must often recur to the first use, in order to get the full meaning. “Most High God” appears first in the Case of Melchizedec, when Abraham was returning victorious from pursuing the kings who had taken Lot prisoner. So it will be at the close of this dispensation, when there will be not only victory over all the powers that assemble against God's people, but the answer to the blessed scene that followed. Melchizedec meets Abraham, and Abraham gives him tithes of all, and receives his blessing. And Melchizedec is the type of Christ in this, that He unites the kingly glory with the priestly, He was the King of Salem, and His very name was King of righteousness. Then will be the day of peace, founded on righteousness. But he was the priest of the Most High God also. It is not the offering of sacrifice or of incense that characterizes his action.; but the bringing out of bread and wine for the refreshment of the conquerors. He blesses, and pronounces the blessing of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth. For in that day, there will be no longer a moral chasm between heaven and earth, but complete union. It will be no confusion or amalgam of the two, but a link of most intimate harmony; and the Lord Jesus will be at that uniting band. The Head of those that belong to heaven, He is also the King of kings, and Lord of lords—the sovereign Disposer of all earthly power. To Him all will bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and things infernal too. This will be the full epoch of the restoration of Gentile intelligence and blessing.
If any persons are called to honor the truth of God, and to walk in the intelligence of His ways, it is His own children who enjoy the consciousness of their Father's love. And may we, understanding this our place, be enabled to remember what will be the end of all things as far as man is concerned? That day of judgment approaches which is coming upon the world, and the weight of which will fall upon the Jew and Gentile, both in a state of apostasy. Still, we know that it will see a remnant of both brought out to shine with greater blessedness than ever—the Jews exalted, the Gentiles blessed, in their true places. No longer a poor, mutilated stump, but again sprouting up into its normal strength and majesty, under the dews of heaven. The Lord grant that we may expect good from God, remembering that in the midst of judgment there is mercy that triumphs over judgment in every case, save in that which utterly rejects Christ—which lives, refusing His mercy—which dies, counting itself unworthy of everlasting life. Remember that no soul that hears the gospel is lost simply because it is evil. There is a sure remedy for all we are. Men are lost because they reject and despise eternal life, pardon, peace, everything, in the Son of God.

Remarks on Daniel 5

Dan. 5 and 6. form a part of the series of, what we may call, “moral” chapters. They are historical, but withal stamped with the character of a foreshadowing of the future, receiving light from and casting light upon the prophecies which precede and follow them. Of these practical illustrations of the Gentile powers we have had already two following the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. We are now to enter upon the first of two more, before we examine the more precise communications made to the prophet himself in chap. 7. Chaps. 5. and 6. have this peculiarity that they bring out, not so much the general characteristics of the Gentiles, as certain particulars to be found in them at the close, the forerunners of speedy destruction. In short, they typify special acts or outbreaks of evil, rather than what pervaded their whole standing and history. Nevertheless, there is a marked difference between each of these chapters, and we must now proceed to look briefly at the first of them.
“Belshazzar made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” It was a scene of gorgeous, and perhaps unwonted, revelry. The sacrilegious king, “whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king and his princes, his wives and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels, &c. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood and stone.” History may tell us that it was an annual festival, when a loose rein was given to licentiousness; and that thus was furnished a favorable opportunity for the besieger to seize an unguarded moment, and turn his vast preparations to account. Scripture shows us that the king, wrapped in that false security which precedes destruction, used the occasion for insulting the God of Israel. Rash, blinded man! It was the eve of his ruined dynasty, and of his death.
For Belshazzar the past was a profitless blank. For him it was a lesson, unheard and unlearned, that God had in His providence made his forefather to be the instrument of just but terrible judgments. The city, the holy city of God, was taken, the temple burnt, the vessels of the sanctuary, with people, priests, king, carried into the enemy's land. It was an astonishment to men everywhere when Israel thus fell. The importance of the fact was entirely out of proportion to the number of the nation or the extent of their territory. For poor as they might be individually, the halo encircled them of a God who had brought them of yore out of Egypt through the Red Sea—who had fed them with angel's food for many a long year in the dreary desert—and who had shielded them for centuries, spite of sad ingratitude, and a thousand perils, in the land of Canaan. Was it not a strange sight for the world when God gave up His own elect and favored people to be swept out of their land by a Chaldean king, the chief of the idolatry of that day For Babylon was ever famous for the multitude of her idols.
Nebuchadnezzar, in all the pride of successful ambition, had not been so insensate. He had bowed to the wonderful truth that the God of heaven, who had abandoned Israel for their sins, had raised himself in His sovereignty to be the golden head of Gentile empire. He had owned the God of Daniel to be a God of gods and a Lord of kings; he had confessed the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to be the Most High God—a deliverer and a revealer of secrets beyond all others. Nebuchadnezzar had been guilty of much sin—had been proud and self-complacent, spite of warning, and had been abased as no king nor man ever was because of it; but he had acknowledged throughout his wide realm his own sin, and the mighty wonders of the King of heaven—all whose works are truth and His ways judgment. But before this bright end, even in his most reckless days, (when all trembled before him, and whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive, and whom he would he set up, and whom he would he put down,) never had he proceeded to such an act of contemptuous profanity as that now perpetrated by his grandson.
But the sentence of instant, inevitable judgment at once made itself heard. For the cup of iniquity was full; and long had the mouth of the Lord proclaimed the punishment of Babylon's king. (Isa. 13.; Jer. 25., &c.) Yet, even the stroke does not fall without a solemn sign from God. “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.”
It was no dream of the night now; but a silent monitor of awful omen in the midst of their wild revelry and impious defiance of the living God. The hour of the execution of wrath was now come. Bel must bow down, Nebo stoop before an indignant but most patient God. The king needed no intimation from another. His conscience, corroded with depravity, trembled before the hand which traced his doom, though he knew not a word that was written. Instinctively he felt that He whose hands none can stay was dealing with him. “Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.” Forgetful of his dignity in his fright, “the king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers.” But all was vain. The highest rewards are offered; but the spirit of deep sleep closed all eyes. “They could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.”
In the midst of the still-increasing alarm of the king and astonishment of his lords, the queen (doubtless the queen-mother, if we compare verses 2 and 10,) comes into the banqueting-house. Her sympathies were not in the feast, and she reminds the king of one who was yet more outside and above it all—a total stranger in person to the impious king. “There is a man,” &c. (Vers. 11-14.)
This fact of Daniel's strangership to Belshazzar is one that speaks volumes. Whatever the pride and audacity of the great Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel sat in the gate of the king—ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men. His degraded and degenerate descendant knew Daniel not.
This reminds me, by the way, of a well-known incident in the history of King Saul, the moral force of which is not always seen. When troubled by an evil spirit, a young son of Jesse was sought out, whose music God was pleased to use as a means of quieting the king's mind. “And it came to pass when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp and played with his hand; so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” (1 Sam. 16:23.) Not long after, Saul and all Israel were in sore dismay when the giant of Gath challenged them in the valley of Elah. God's providence brought there, in the humble path of unwarlike duty, a youth who heard the vainglorious words of the Philistine with different ears. Instead of terror, his feeling was rather amazement that the uncircumcised should dare to defy the armies of the living God. The victory was no sooner won, than the king turns to the captain of the host with this question, “Whose son is this youth?” And Abner confesses his ignorance. Here was a strange case: the very youth who had ministered to him in his malady unknown to King Saul The interval was certainly not long; but Saul knew not David. This has perplexed the critics immensely; and one of the most distinguished of Hebraists has tried to make out that the chapters must have been shuffled somehow, and that the close of chap. 16. should follow the end of 17.; so as to remove the difficulty of Saul's ignorance of David after he had stood in his presence, won his love, and become his armor-bearer. But I am convinced that all this arises from not apprehending the very lesson that God teaches in the scene. The truth is, that Saul might have loved David for his services; but there never was a particle of sympathy; and where this is the case, we readily forget. Strangership of heart soon ends in actual distance, when the service of the Lord comes in. It is the very spirit of the world towards the children of God. As the Apostle John says, “Therefore, the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” They may be acquainted with many things about Christians, but they never know themselves. And when the Christian passes away from the scene, there may be a passing reminiscence, but he is an unknown man. Saul had been under the greatest obligations to David. But although David had been the channel of comfort to him, yet all knowledge of David completely passed away with the service that he had rendered. So of Daniel the queen could say, “In the days of thy father, light and understanding, and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers.” Yet there was no thought about him now. He was comparatively unknown by those at the feast. The only one who thought about him was the queen, and she was only there because of their trouble.
Accordingly Daniel is brought before the king, and the king asks him, “Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?” Then he tells him his difficulty, and speaks of the rewards he is prepared to give to any who should tell the interpretation of the writing. Daniel answers as became the occasion. “Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known unto him the interpretation.” But first he administers a most painful word of admonition. He brings before him in a few words the history of Nebuchadnezzar, and of God's dealings with him. He reminds him withal of his own entire indifference; nay, of his reckless insults against God. “And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven... and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” He brings before him what that scene was in the eye of God. For this is what sin, what Satan, seeks ever to hide. Before the Babylonish court it was a magnificent feast, enhanced by the memoirs of the success of their arms and the supremacy of their gods. But what was their gorgeous revelry in the eye of God? What was it to Him that the vessels of His service were brought up so proudly to vaunt the triumph of Babylon and her idols? To one who knew Him it must have been a most painful moment, however sure and speedy the issue. Yet there are scenes that take place in the world now that give forebodings of a character at least as grave. The question is, Are we in the secret of God so to read His judgment on all these things for ourselves? We may readily and without cost pronounce, in a measure, on the presumption of Nebuchadnezzar and on the open impiety of Belshazzar; but the great moral criterion for us is this: Are we discerning aright the face of the sky and of the earth in this our day? Are the lowering aspects of this time lost upon us? Are we identified simply and solely with the Lord's interests at the present time? Do we understand what is going on in the world now? Do we believe what is coming upon it? Clearly the king and his court were but the instruments of Satan; and the contempt they showed for the God of heaven was not the mere working of their own minds, but Satan was their master. And it is a true saying that wherever you get the will of man, you invariably find the service of Satan. Alas! man knows not that the enjoyment of a liberty without God is and must be to do the devil's work. King Belshazzar and his lords might think that it was but celebrating their victories over a nation still prostrate and captive in Babylon; but it was a direct, personal insult offered to the true God, and He answers to the challenge. It was no longer a controversy between Daniel and the astrologers, but between Belshazzar himself and God. The command to bring the vessels of the house of the Lord might seem but a wicked drunken freak of the king's; but the crisis was come, and God must strike a decisive blow. Depend upon it, these tendencies of our day, although not met at once by God, are not forgotten; there is a treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath. The present is not a time when God lets His judgments fall. Rather is it a day when man is building up his sins to heaven, only so much the more terribly to fall when the hand of God is stretched out against him.
But there is even then a warning, solemn, immediate, and before all. And observe, as to this writing seen upon the wall, what was the great difficulty of this? The language was Chaldean, and those who saw the hand and the characters were Chaldeans. We might have judged, then, that the mere letters must be more familiar to the Chaldeans than to Daniel. It is not the way of God when he communicates anything to put. it in an obscure form. It would be a monstrous theory that God in giving a revelation makes it impossible to be understood by those for whom it is intended. What is it that renders all scripture so difficult? It is not its language. A striking proof of it is found in this:—if any one were to ask what part of the New Testament I conceive to be the most profound of all, I should refer to the Epistles of the Apostle John; and yet if there be any part, more than others, couched in language of the greatest simplicity, it is these very Epistles. The words are not those of the scribes of this world. Neither are the thoughts enigmatical or full of foreign, recondite allusions. The difficulty of Scripture lies herein, that it is the revelation of Christ, for the souls that have their hearts opened by grace to receive and to value. Now John was one who was admitted to this pre-eminently. Of all the disciples he was the most favored in intimacy of communion with Christ. So it was, certainly, when Christ was upon earth; and he is used of the Holy Ghost to give us the deepest thoughts of Christ's love and personal glory. The real difficulty of Scripture then consists in its thoughts being so infinitely above our natural mind. We must give up self in order to understand the Bible. We must have a heart and eye for Christ, or Scripture becomes an unintelligible thing for our souls; whereas, when the eye is single, the whole body is full of light. Hence you may find a learned man completely at fault, though he may be a Christian—stopping short at the Epistles of John and the Revelation as being too deep for him to enter into; while, on the other hand, you may find a simple man who, if he cannot altogether understand these Scriptures or explain every portion of them correctly, at any rate he can enjoy them; they convey intelligible thoughts to his soul, and comfort, and guidance, and profit too. Even if it be about coming events, or Babylon and the beast, he finds there great principles of God that, even though they may be found in what is reputed the obscurest of all the books of Scripture, yet have a practical bearing to his soul. The reason is, Christ is before him, and Christ is the wisdom of God in every sense. It is not, of course, because he is ignorant that he can understand it, but in spite of his ignorance. Nor is it because a man is learned that he is capable of entering into the thoughts of God. Whether ignorant or learned, there is but one way—the eye to see what concerns Christ. And where that is firmly fixed before the soul, I believe that Christ becomes the light of spiritual intelligence as He is the light of salvation. It is the Spirit of God that is the power of apprehending it; but He never gives that light except through Christ. Otherwise man has an object before him that is not Christ, and therefore cannot understand Scripture, which reveals Christ. He is endeavoring to force the Scriptures to bear upon his own objects, whatever they may be, and thus Scripture is perverted. That is the real key to all mistakes of Scripture. Man takes his own thoughts to the Word of God, and builds up a system which has no divine foundation.
To return, then, to the inscription upon the wall, the words were plain enough. All ought to have been intelligible, and would have been had the souls of the Chaldeans been in communion with the Lord. I do not mean that there was not the power of the Spirit of God needed to enable Daniel to understand it; but it is an immense thing for the understanding of the word, that we have communion with the God that is making known His mind to us. Therefore, said the Apostle Paul to the elders, “I command you to God and to the word of His grace.”
Daniel was entirely outside the revelings and such like. He was a stranger to those that were at home there. He was called in from the light of the presence of God to see this scene of impiety and darkness; and coming, therefore, fresh from the light of God, he reads this writing upon the wall, and all was bright as the day. And nothing more solemn. “This is the interpretation of the thing.” (Vers. 25-28.) He at once sees God in the matter. The king had insulted God in what was connected with His worship. “Tekel; thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” It was not that anything appeared then; nothing was seen at the time that made it even probable. And I call attention to this, because it is another proof, how utterly false is the maxim, that we must wait till prophecy is fulfilled before we can understand it. If a man is an unbeliever, to see the fulfillment of prophecy in the past, is a powerful argument that nothing can surmount. But is that what God wrote prophecy for? Was it to convince infidels? No doubt God may use it for such. But was that what God intended the writing upon the wall for on that night? Clearly not. It was His last solemn warning before the blow fell, and the interpretation was given before the Persians broke into the city—when there was not a sign of ruin, but all was gaiety and mirth. “In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.” In short, Babylon was judged.

Remarks on Daniel 6

WE have now another and final type of the Gentile powers brought upon the scene. But in looking at types we must always bear in mind that the question is not about the personal character of him that affords the type. Thus, Aaron officially was a type of Christ, but we are not therefore to suppose that his ways were like His. In some respects he was a very guilty man. It was he who made the calf of gold and who even sought to deceive about it. But this does not disqualify him from being a type of Christ. He was a type of Christ in spite of all that, not in that. David typified Christ not as a priest but as a king—as a suffering and rejected king first, and then as one reigning and exalted. There are two parts in the life of David. First, the time when he was anointed king but when the power of evil was still allowed, and he was hunted about and persecuted; and secondly, when Saul died, he takes the throne and puts down his enemies. In both respects, David was a type of Christ. But there was manifestly also the contrast of Christ in the failure of King David, and the dreadful sin into which he fell.
But if, on the other hand, we find a type here, as I believe there is, of an awful scene that closes the present dispensation, we are not to suppose that it cannot be its type, because there were good qualities in the king. King Darius, rather than Belshazzar, foreshadows the way in which man will take the place of being God. It was what Darius did, or suffered to be done, that sets this forth in principle. While Belshazzar was one of the most degraded of the human race, Darius was a person who, in his own character and ways, had much that was exceedingly amiable, if not something better. But I am not now raising a question of Darius personally. We have had the type of Babylon's fall, and the judgment of God that will come down upon it, because of its wickedness in insulting and profaning what belongs to the true God, and in mixing up its own idols, and giving its praise and worship to them, in indifference to the sorrows of God's people. This will be verified a great deal more in future history. There is that upon the earth which takes the highest place as being the church of God. There is that which boasts of its unity, of its strength and antiquity; which boasts of its uninterrupted lineage; which takes credit to itself for sanctity and the blood of martyrs. But God is not indifferent to its sins, which have been going on increasing and deepening from generation to generation; and they are only awaiting the day of the Lord to come for judgment to be executed, and to receive the sentence that is due to them. In the Revelation there are two great objects of judgment—Babylon and the beast. The one represents religious corruption, and the other violence; two different forms of human wickedness, In the latter form of it, we see a man urged on by Satan, presuming to take the place of God upon the earth. Now this is what Darius permits to be done. He might not know it himself, but there were others around him that led him to the dreadful deed.
The historical circumstances that led to it were these:—They wanted an occasion against Daniel, and they well knew that it was impossible to find one except they found it against him “concerning the law of his God.” So they put their heads together, and, taking advantage of the usage of the Medes and Persians for the nobles to form the law and for the king to establish and sign it, they devise a decree that it should be lawful for none to ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of the king. What was this but for a man to take the place of God? That no prayer was to be offered to the true God, and that every prayer that was offered at all was to be offered to the king; if that was not giving the rights of God to man, I know not what is. The king fell into the trap, and signed the decree.
But now we have to mark the beautiful conduct of Daniel. There is no intimation that things were a secret to Daniel. On the contrary, he was perfectly aware (verse 10) of what had passed into law. But, on the other hand, he could not compromise his God. His course, therefore, was taken. He was an old man, and the faith that had burned within him from early days was, at least, as bright as ever. So when he knew that all was signed, and sealed, and settled, as far as man could, and that the unchangeable law of the Medes and Persians demanded that no knee of man should bow down to God for thirty days, knowing it all, he goes to his chamber. There is no ostentation, but he does not hide it. With his windows open, as usual, toward Jerusalem, he bows down before His God three times a day, and prays and gives thanks as he had done aforetime. He gives his enemies the occasion that they sought. They at once remind the king of the decree that he had made, and proceed to arraign Daniel before him. “That Daniel,” they say, “which is of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou past signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.” Then Darius, the king, was sore displeased with himself, and labors in vain till the going down of the sun, to deliver the one whom rage of his enemies, to be cast into the lions' den, with the hope, which perhaps he scarcely allowed himself, that his God would deliver him. And God appears for his servant. God does deliver: and the dreadful fate that was intended for the prophet fell upon those who had accused him to the king. “The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made; in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.” Psa. 9:15-16. Nothing can be plainer than the bearing of this on the deliverance of the godly remnant at the close by the outpouring of wrath and destruction upon the traitors within and the oppressors without of the last days. The end will be as here—the acknowledgment on the part of the Gentiles that the living God is the God of delivered Israel, and that His kingdom shall not be destroyed.
Here we have then, in Dan. 5. and 6., the combined types of that which will close the present dispensation. For if you look later on in this book of Daniel, you have a person introduced called “the king.” (Chap. 11 36, &c.) You have there a direct prophecy of similar deeds. “The king shall do according to his own will, and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods,” &c. Not that Darius personally did these things. I am speaking of what his act or decree meant in the eye of God. The question is, what God thought of the sin Darius had been drawn into, and this as a type of the future.
It is said further of “the king,” in chap. 6., “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers.... for he shall magnify himself above all.” In the New Testament we have this alluded to in more than one place. A person might say to me, That is about the Jews, and does not concern the present dispensation. Well, then, taking up what does refer to it, I would cite in proof 2 Thess. 2:3-4. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (that is the day of the Lord's judgment upon this world) shall not come except there come a falling away first, (strictly, it means the apostasy first,') and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sifted in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Now, it is plain that what Darius did was in effect to exalt himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped. Because, to forbid prayer to God, and to demand that the prayer that was offered to God usually should be offered to Himself only for a certain space of time, was nothing more nor less than the type of him who would take this place in a far more dreadful and gross and literal way. We have clearly a New Testament proof that these days spoken of in Daniel, and typified then, are yet to come; that this person who is looked forward to by prophecy, is one who is to set himself up as God, not as the vicar of Christ merely, having persons ready to bow before him and kiss his foot. All this is wicked and superstitious; but it is not a man saying that he is God, setting himself up in a temple of God and saying, There is no prayer to be offered except to myself. Whatever be the evil of Popery and the presumption of the Pope, there is a great deal worse to come. And the solemn thing to remember is this, that it will not be merely the issue of Popery, but of Popery AND Protestantism &c. without God. Not even the spread of truth will be an infallible preservative against it. Most guilty and foolish were those who once fancied that, because Israel had the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they were necessarily safe in the conflict with the Philistines! The ark returned in triumph, but where were they?
Beware of the fond conceit that, because of religious zeal, no harm can befall this country. Rather be sure of this: the more light, the more Bibles, the more preaching, the more of everything that is good there is, if men are not conformed to it, and not walking in it, the greater the danger. If they treat it as a light thing and despise it; if they have no conscience about practical bowing to the light of Scripture, they are most sure to fall under one delusion or another. For who is to say what is not of importance in Scripture, or by what means the devil gains power over the soul? Wherever the soul commits itself to a refusal to listen to God, gives itself up to disobedience to God in anything, who is to say where it is to end There is no security except in the path of holy dependence upon God and obedience to His word. We are not to be choosing one part of Scripture above another because we get more comfort from it. There is no security save as we take all Scripture. It is very sweet to be enjoying the presence of the Lord, but, more than that, it is a fearful thing to be found in disobedience to the Lord. Disobedience is as the sin of witchcraft. There is nothing more terrible. To disobey God is virtually to destroy His honor. It was so in Israel, and yet there is much worse to come, arising out of the lax and evil state of Christendom.
We have first, then, the apostasy. Christianity will be given up, and the more light, the more certainly it will come for the mass who refuse that light. There never was a time in Israel that appeared so promising as the day when our Lord was upon earth, never such a time of religious activity; the Scribes and Pharisees compassing sea and land to make one proselyte. The showed zeal, apparently, in the reading of the Scriptures. They had the priests and Levites; there was no idolatry, nothing gross. They were a Bible-reading people, and a Sabbath-keeping people; they called our Lord Himself a Sabbath-breaker, so rigid did they appear outwardly to observe the day. All this was going on, but what did it end in? What did they do? They crucified the Lord of glory, and they rejected the testimony and the gracious working of the Holy Ghost, so that the end was that the king sent forth his armies, destroyed those murderers and burned up their city. Nor was it that there was no conversion going on. God put forth His power and they were converted by thousands. James says, “Thou seest, brother, how many thousand (rather myriads) of Jews, there are, which believe.” There were, then, thousands and tens of thousands converted after the cross of Jesus, and people might think that all Israel and the world were going to be converted. But what was the fact God was merely gathering out these thousands in His grace to leave the rest to be destroyed in the judgment that fell upon Jerusalem. That is a little foreshadowing of the judgment which is to fall upon the world by-and-by. And if God is now putting forth His power and gathering out souls everywhere from the world, it is a solemn question for every one whether they are converted or not? And if they are converted, it is a call to them to be walking in the path of obedience, submitting in all things to the word of God, and looking for Christ. The idea that some have of universal conversion is a delusion. Babylon or the beast: these will be the two great snares of the latter day. The one will be the source of corruption coupled with religion and a profaning of all things holy. The other will be characterized by the last degree of pride and violence. It will appear that Christianity has been a complete failure, and men will think they have a new panacea for all the ills and miseries of man, better than the Gospel. And they will praise up their idols of gold, and silver, and brass, glorying in the fact that Christianity, save the outward form, has disappeared from the face of the earth. Then will come the judgment.
Rev. 17. shows us that as with Babylon in Daniel, so it will be with the New Testament Babylon, the corrupted form of religious apostasy. Man will be used as the instrument of the downfall of Babylon, the woman drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. We have men wreaking their vengeance upon her. She is no longer seen riding upon the scarlet-colored beast, but trampled upon, hated, and desolate. And then what do we have? Not Christianity everywhere overspreading the world. On the contrary, the beast fills the scene, and assumes the place of God. Instead of merely having an intoxicating debased Christianity, it will then be man that sets himself up in proud defiance of God. He takes God's place upon the earth. I do not pretend to say what space of time will elapse between the destruction of Babylon and the fall of the beast. Rev. 17. proves that so far from the destruction of Babylon making the world to be an improved scene, we have only bold evil in place of hypocritical evil; and instead of religious corruption, you have irreligious pride and defiance of God. “The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings for one and the same time with the beast. These have one mind and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” —not to God.
All is given to the beast for the purpose of exalting man. The hour will have come for man to have the supreme place in the world. But, contrary to the ambition of man generally, there will be the giving up of their own will to the will of another the desire to have some one very high and exalted, to whom all must bow. When this is achieved, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them.” That this follows the destruction of Babylon is plain. For it says afterward, “The ten horns which thou sawest, and the beast, (so it ought to be read,) these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked.” This is exactly what answers to the type of Darius. Darius comes in and destroys Babylon and takes the kingdom immediately; and the next thing is, he is led on by his courtiers to take the place of God Himself. He passes a law, or confirms one, that no prayer shall be offered to any save to himself, for thirty days. That is, he assumes, in effect, to be the object of all worship; he arrogates that which is exclusively due to the true God.
These two types are highly instructive, as closing the general history of the Gentiles. They show, not what had characterized them from the beginning and during their progress, but the main features of evil at the close. There will be destruction falling upon Babylon, because of its profaneness in the religious things of God; and then the height of blasphemous pride to which the head of empire will rise by assuming the honor and glory clue only to God Himself. I was anxious to connect the two things together, because we cannot otherwise get the true force of them so well.
We have now concluded what I may call the first volume of Daniel, because it divides exactly into two portions at the close of this chapter; and that is one reason why it is mentioned that Daniel prospered until the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. In the next chapter we shall find that we come back to the reign of Belshazzar, when Daniel is again brought before us. But this I must leave, only praying that this sample of the great importance of reading Scripture typically, where it is so intended to be read, may stir up the children of God to see that there is much more to be learned from Scripture than what appears on the surface at a first glance. What God says has got a character about it that is infinite. Instead of being exhausted by a draft taken from it here and there, it is the well itself; the constantly-flowing spring of truth. The more we grow in the truth, the less we are satisfied with what we have got, and the more we feel what we have yet to learn. It is not to affect words of humility, but the real, deep feeling of our own total insufficiency, in presence of the greatness and goodness of our God, that has taken such poor worms as we are to set us in His own glory—for such indeed are the mighty ways of His grace.

Remarks on Daniel 7

WE enter now upon the second great division of the book. The Spirit of God gives us here not merely the history or visions of heathen, such as Nebuchadnezzar or others, but communications from God to the prophet himself. Hence what related to the Jew as the object of God's special favor at that time, and more particularly what was in store for them in a blessed day that is coming, are the uppermost thoughts in the mind of the Spirit. Daniel was the fitting channel for such revelations. Accordingly, the Spirit again goes over the ground of the four great Gentile empires, as well as the fifth empire, the kingdom of heaven, to be introduced by the Lord Jesus. But all is presented, though of course with perfect consistency, from a different point of view. It is not now a great image beginning with that which was gorgeous, the gold and the silver, and descending, with evident deterioration of splendor, to the belly and thighs of brass, and the legs of iron and feet of clay. Here we have ravening wild beasts. The very same powers are meant, but it is another aspect of them. Most fitly was the figure of the image presented to the eye of the great head of Gentile empire, their changes and relations to each other; but it is now God's view of these same powers, and their relation to His people.
Thus we have in this simple consideration the key to the different way in which these powers are depicted. We shall find also in the details that wisdom which we may always look for in what comes from the mind of God.
The prophet, in the vision, sees a mass of waters, agitated by the win& of heaven. Out of this troubled sea four wild beasts emerge, successively I may add; for it is very plain that, as in the empires set forth by the metals, &c., in chap. ii., so in the same powers here, we have to look at empires not contemporaneous, but succeeding each other in rule over the world under the providence of God. “The first was like a lion and had eagle's wings.” There, beyond question, we have the empire of Babylon. Nor is it at all a novelty to find the Holy Spirit applying the figure of a lion to Nebuchadnezzar, nor of an eagle either. Jeremiah had already employed the same. “The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way.” (Jer. 4:7.) Ezekiel, as well as Jeremiah, represented him also under the figure of an eagle. Indeed, he is mentioned both as the lion and the eagle in Jer. 49:19-22. In the vision of Daniel the Holy Ghost combines the two figures in one symbol, in order fitly to represent what the Babylonish empire was in the mind of God.
But, besides these symbols of grandeur and rapidity of conquest, we have the sign of a remarkable change that was to pass over this beast, and one of which there was no appearance, humanly speaking, at that time. But all was open to the eye of God, whose object in giving prophecy is, that His people should see beforehand what He sees. God has been pleased, in the perfect wisdom and goodness that belong to His nature, to impart such a measure of knowledge of the future as He sees to be for His own glory; and an obedient child hears and keeps the word of his Father.
Now He brought before the prophet the knowledge that the Babylonish empire was to be humbled. It was not to be absolutely destroyed as a nation, but completely put down as a ruling power in the world. This was what was signified by the wings being plucked, and the animal made to stand upon the feet as a man, which would, of course, destroy its strength. For however proper such an attitude may be to a man, it is plain that to a ravening beast it would be rather a humiliation. In accordance too with this, “a man's heart was given to it.” There may be in this a sort of contrast with what was actually done in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, who had a beast's heart given to him. Nebuchadnezzar was not looking up to God, which clearly is the bounden duty of every soul of man. He is not properly a man who does not recognize the God that brought him into being, and that watches over him and abounds in beneficence towards him every day: the God that claims the allegiance of the conscience and that alone can convert the heart. In unbuchadnezzar's case he was occupied with himself. The very gift of universal dominion from God was perverted by the power of Satan, so as to make self the object of his thoughts, and not God. In the emphatic phrase of Scripture, his was not a man's heart which looks up, owning one above him, but a beast's that looks down in the gratification of itself and the pursuits of its own instincts. This was the case with Nebuchadnezzar, and therefore a most solemn and personal judgment was executed upon him. But the mercy of God interposed after a certain time of humiliation and he was restored. This was a token of the condition to which the Gentile powers were to be brought from not recognizing the true God; but there was also the witness of their future blessing and restoration, when they shall own the kingdom of heaven by and by. In the case before us, the lion was reduced from its power as a beast to a position of weakness. This actually took place when Babylon lost its supremacy in the world, which seems clearly the meaning of the latter part of the verse. First, we have Babylon in the plentitude of its power, and then the great change that occurred when it was stripped of the empire of the world.
In the next verse (ver. 5) you have a description given of the Persian empire, which had been represented in the great image as “the beast, &c., of silver.” “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side,” a remarkable feature, which, at first sight, might not be obvious, but which is explained by this. It was an empire not so uniform as the Babylonish. It consisted of two peoples joined under one head. Another remarkable feature is this: it was the inferior of the two kingdoms that prevailed. The Persian takes the upper hand of the Mede. Thus we saw in chap. v. that Darius the Median took the kingdom; but Cyrus soon followed, and from thence onward it was always the Persian that governed, and not the Median. We have in this circumstance a fresh instance that we do not really need history for the understanding of prophecy. Inattention to this plunges people into uncertainty. We may have recourse to history as a sort of homage paid to prophecy, but the historical confirmation of fulfilled prophecy is a very distinct thing from its interpretation. Prophecy, like all scripture, is explained only by the Spirit of God; and He need not leave the written word for human help to explain what He has inspired: only He who is the author of Scripture is really capable of explaining it. I ought not to have to press this, as it is a first principle of truth; but we have to insist on first principle of truth quite as much now as ever.
There, then, Scripture furnishes us with this evident fact, that while the second empire consisted of two parts and while the Medes were the elder branch of the empire, yet it was Cyrus the Persian that was to be most prominent. That was the side that raised itself up. “It had three ribs in the mouth of it, between the teeth of it,” clearly, I think, the sign of the extraordinary rapacity that would characterize the Persian empire. If we were to see presented to us, in a kind of panorama, different beasts, and if one of the animals were painted with a quantity of prey, and actually devouring it, at once we should have the idea of a singularly voracious appetite. That was the case with the Persians. There were frequent outbreaks which they had to encounter, because of their extortion and cruelty. It is true that God wrought providentially through them in behalf of the Jews; but this only made the contrast with their ordinary ways the more striking. For while the Persians were excessively hard upon others, there was leniency and favor shown towards Israel; but that was only the exception. In general, as depicting their character, a rapacious wild beast sets it forth. Hence the bear is said to have three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was in the very act of showing its ravening propensities. “And they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.” That was the explanation in words of the vision; it referred evidently to its predatory habits.
In the third case, we have a leopard, with some notable features about it, though we are not to look for the regularity of pictorial consistency. There are certain truths intended by every figure; but if men try to put every figure into a formal harmony, they will not hold together. In the present case there was nothing in nature like this leopard; but God takes from different things that existed in nature features that were necessary to give a combined idea of this new empire. Hence, while the leopard is remarkable for its agility in pursuing its prey, yet, in order to give something beyond nature, we hear that it had “upon the back of it four wings of a fowl.” If ever there was a case in which impetuous courage in pursuing great designs, and speed in achieving a succession. of conquests were united, we find it in the history of Alexander the Great. The Macedonian or Grecian kingdom has a character of swiftness attached to it that no other empire over had; and hence the leopard, on the one hand, and the four wings of a fowl on the other. But, besides that, “The beast had also four heads, and dominion was given to it.” There you have not merely what was found in Alexander himself, but also in his successors. The four heads refer to the division of his empire into four different parts after his death. It is not, therefore, merely a symbol of what the Greek empire was in its first origin, but it presents thus its future also. It was emphatically the empire that separated into four distinct divisions. Not that there were only four, because it is clear that at one time there was a sort of division amongst his generals, six of whom reigned over different parts, but they gradually subsided into four. This we know from the next chapter: there is no need to go to history for it. All facts, all science must confirm the word of God; but the word of God does not need them to prove that itself is divine. If it did, what would become of those who understand nothing of science and history? Persons who dabble much in either one or other for the purpose of confirming the scriptures, have never reaped anything but the scantiest gleanings as far as the scripture harvest is concerned. It is another thing if a person feeds upon the word, grows in the knowledge of the scripture, and then is called on, in the course of duty, to take up what men say about it: he will find that there is nothing, even down to the most recent discoveries of science, that does not pay unwitting obeisance to scripture. The man that takes his stand upon scripture, looking up to God, and using whatever means are given through the word and Spirit of God, has the real vantage ground; his confidence is in God, and not in the discoveries or the thoughts of men. The man that is searching here below is subject to all the uncertainty and mists of this lower world. He who derives his light from the word of God has a sun brighter than that at noonday; and, therefore, just as far as he is subject to it, he will not, cannot, stray. And the Spirit of God is able and willing to produce this subjection in us. We all do stray, more or less, as a fact; but the reason is not from any defect in the word of God, or any lack of power to teach on the part of the Holy Ghost. We err because we have not sufficiently simple faith in the perfectness of scripture, and in the blessed guidance which the Spirit loves to exercise in leading us into all truth.
The next verse (ver. 7) is the opening of another vision. For, properly speaking, from the first verse down to the seventh is one section or vision, each being introduced by the words, “I saw in the night-visions.” Daniel first beheld the four beasts in a general way; if any were particularly specified it was the first three. But the fourth beast was evidently that which more peculiarly occupied the mind of the Holy Spirit, and the prophet, therefore, gets a fresh view of it. “After this I saw in the night-visions, and beheld a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly, and it had great iron teeth.” Here is, clearly, a prophetic figuration of the fourth or Roman empire. I will not now enter into the many proofs of it. Hardly any person who reads these pages is likely to combat the thought, that in the four well-known empires we have the statue of chap. ii., and the beasts of chap. vii. Some have denied this, but it is such an eccentricity that one need say no more about it.
Admitting this, then, we have in the fourth beast the Roman empire plainly set forth. What marks it politically is all-overcoming strength. It is represented by a monster to which nothing in nature can be found to answer. We have a fuller account of it in the Revelation; because, the Roman empire being then established, and its future destiny carrying its on to the end of the age, it became the exclusive object of attention—the beast. Accordingly we have a description of it in chap. xiii., where we find it represented as a leopard, the “feet as those of a bear, and its mouth as that of a lion.” And this composite creature is further distinguished (ver. 1) by having seven heads and ten horns, and upon its horns ten crowns. That was the power under which the Apostle John was at that very time suffering in the Isle of Patmos; and as greater sufferings were in reserve for God's people, and blasphemy against God, we need not wonder that we have a minute account of it.
Here it is seen as “a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” That is, there was unexampled power of conquest and aggrandizement, and what it did not incorporate into its own substance is stamped upon and thus spoiled for others. “And it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it.” It was an empire that maintained a strong feeling of the will of man—of the people. It combined certain republican elements with as iron a despotism as ever ruled in this world. These two things were brought into distinct, but apparently harmonious play. Besides this, there is another and most distinctive mark “it had ten horns.” In other empires it was not so. The Greek empire gradually devolved, after its founder's death, into four heads; but the peculiarity of the Roman is the possession of ten horns. Yet we are not to look for the actual development of history in this vision. had that been the case, it is clear that the ten horns would not have been seen in the Roman beast, when it first met the eyes of the prophet. Because it was not until hundreds of years after Rome had existed as an empire that it had more than one ruler. The Spirit of God clearly brings into the very first view the features that would be found at the close, and not at the beginning. It was strong and fierce; it was one that devoured; it stamped the residue with its feet; it was diverse from all others. Rome may have been all this during the time of the Caesars; but it had not then ten horns. There can be no possible pretense for such a notion until the empire was broken up; and after that, properly speaking, the Roman empire ceased to exist. There might be the keeping up of the name and title of emperor, but it was the emptiest thing possible. How, then, could this prophecy be accomplished if, as long as there was an undivided empire, there were no horns; and if, on the other hand, the empire, as such, expired when once broken up into separate kingdoms? How are we to put these two facts together? Because it is clear from what is given us here that the beast is a totally different thing from a horn. The beast represents imperial unity. But in Rome, as long as the empire subsisted, there were no ten horns; and when the divided kingdoms sprang up, there was no such thing then as imperial unity.
How, then, are the two things put together in the prophecy? The Spirit of God was, I believe, looking onward to the last stage of the Roman empire, when both features shall re-appear, and that together. This last stage ends in a divine judgment; as it is written a little after, “I beheld till the thrones were set up;” (for so it ought to be instead of “cast down;” and this is not merely my opinion, but the uniform way in which it is understood by the best ancient and modern translations of scripture;) “I beheld till the thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” There you have evidently a figure of the divine glory in judgment, not some mere providential dealing on the earth, but the process of judgment that God Himself will institute. “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Whatever time this may be supposed to take place, it is manifest that it is a divine judgment. “I beheld them because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame.” The horn alluded to here is the eleventh one, the one that came up among the ten. And it was this little horn, that began with small beginnings, that, by some means or another, managed to root up three of the first horns, and that subsequently became the guide and governor of the whole beast. “I beheld because of the great words which the horn spake,” not “till the horn was put down,” but “till the beast was slain,” so that it is implied that this little horn had managed to govern the entire beast. This verse shows that there was to be a divine judgment that would deal with this little horn and with the beast, and destroy them. Has that taken place? Clearly not. It is plain, that whatever has fallen upon the Roman empire in past times, has been the ordinary course and decline of a great nation. Barbarian hordes tore it up, and separate kingdoms were formed. But prophecy tells us of another thing altogether. It warns of a judgment that disposes of the beast in a totally different way, and in contrast with the others. “I beheld till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” That is, the remains of the Chaldeaus, or of the races that were called so, we have still. Persia abides a kingdom, and the Greeks have lately become one. They exist, therefore, though not as imperial powers. We have these races of men, more or less, representing those powers; smaller, it is true, and no longer having dominion as empires. This is the meaning of ver. 12. Their dominion was taken away as rulers of the world, “but their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” In this last empire, when the hour of its judgment comes, it is to be far otherwise. In the case of the three first beasts, they lost their imperial dignity, but themselves lived and existed. But in the case of the fourth empire, the hour when its dominion is destroyed is the same hour in which it is itself destroyed. “The beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.” Who can doubt that this is the same scene that we have alluded to in Rev. 19, where we are told, “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army?” The prophet had come to the last beast. Further back in divine revelation we had the other three beasts; they had had their day, and there only remained the last. Consequently, when it says “the beast,” we are to understand the Roman empire. This beast, then, and the kings of the earth are warring against the Lord. “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that had wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both (mark) were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Nov, this is very remarkable; because here we have the lake of fire, which answers to the judgment of the burning flame in Daniel, only it is a fuller statement. It was not a mere control of circumstances, but a divine power that casts straight into hell without the necessity of a previous judgment. For it is perfectly plain what they were about. They were found in open antagonism to the Lord of glory, and are cast into the flames. Has that ever been verified in the Roman empire? Clearly not. What then follows? The Roman empire has passed away; for the last thousand years and more it has had no existence, except as an unmeaning title, which has been the object of contention among ambitious men. Simple kingdoms have taken the place of the undivided Roman empire.
But what have we here? The Roman empire reappearing. And this exactly agrees with other parts of the word of God. For there is a remarkable expression in the Revelation, that has been alluded to more than once. It is in Rev. 17:8, &c., “The beast that was, and is not, and shall be present.” I do not know how persons could have used the expression, “and yet is.” It is not even sense, and the word of God is particularly simple. No enigma is meant here. The Roman empire was to have three stages. First, its original imperial form, when John suffered under the last of the Caesars. Next, its condition of non-existence, from about the fifth century, when the Goths, and Vandals, &c., broke it up; in that condition it is now. But then there is a third stage, and it is in that last condition that it is to be found in open opposition to God and the Lamb. This is the future of the Roman empire. It is to be re-organized, it is to come out again as an empire, and in this last phase it will fight against God to its ruin. And mark how this leaves room for the point that I wished to illustrate. We could not in the past have had ten horns as well as the beast; in the future we can, and that is what the scene in Rev. 17 shows. “The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet.” But, it is added, “They shall receive power as kings one hour with the beast.” So that when the beast should make its re-appearance, there would be this singular feature: that while there would be a great head of imperial unity, it would not be to the exclusion of separate kings. There would still be the kings of France, Spain, &c. Let none suppose that to say this is prophesying. The true way to be kept out of that presumption is to study prophecy. In the one case you are learning what God says; in the other you are but giving out your own thoughts. In this passage the point is, not an empire alone without the ten kings, nor the ten kings without an empire, but the union of these two things. There is the imperial unity, which answers to the beast; at the same time there are these separate kings. It is their coexistence which will mark the Roman empire in its last phase. To that everything is tending now.
The prophet saw the last condition of this empire with its ten horns. “I considered the horns, and behold there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and behold in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Men used to apply all this to the pope. No doubt the pope was extremely obnoxious to everyone that valued the word of God. But we must always take care when we read Scripture, not to be too anxious about applying the word of God to what is in our way, or to what we may think extremely evil—as no doubt the pope and popery are. But we must seek to understand what God means by it. Granted that there is a remarkable analogy between the papacy and the little horn. It may have been intended to be applied by the children of God in different ages, who have been suffering through the papacy, for their help and encouragement. This changing of times and laws, (ver. 25,) as well as his great words and persecution of the saints, may have been accomplished in what popery has been about. But it remains to be inquired, Is that the full meaning and the proper design of the prophecy? Take an example from Matt. 24 There was the beginning of sorrows; then the abomination of desolation set up in the holy place, and a warning to flee from Jerusalem; unexampled tribulation, &c. I can understand all this having a measure of application to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. But who will say that this is the end of it, and that the full meaning is realized there? It is impossible that any one can think so who examines it attentively. When God gives a prophecy, He very often allows that there should be a sort of earnest accomplishment of it: but we are never to take that as the full thing. The Roman Empire has fallen, and out of the fall of that empire a new and singular power with divine claims has started up and set itself up against God. But to say that this is the full accomplishment of the prophecy, would be as great a mistake as to suppose that God never alluded to it all. There was to be Mahommedanism in the east, and the papacy in the west: but still the question recurs, Is that all that the Holy Ghost meant? I say, No; for the reason already given—that if the history of the papacy be looked at, the beast was gone, properly, when the pope took his place. More than that. The pope has never acquired three of the ten kingdoms. He might receive Peter's patrimony, but it has always been a petty power politically, of no consequence as to territory. Instead of acquiring three of the ten kingdoms, all its weight has arisen from its spiritual delusion over the souls of men. Clearly, then, a power, small in its beginnings, is to rise, and to put down three of these greater powers, acquiring all their dominion. The pope never has done that. So that, although there has been a measure of likeness, there is enough difference to make it quite plain.
The empire is in full force at the time that those ten horns and this little one appear. This last subsequently aggrandizes itself, and rules the whole beast. Instead of this, the pope has lost almost the half of Europe; and what may be the end of agencies now at work no man can say.
We have here a most vigorous power, that has the ten horns in subjection to itself. The Revelation tells us that all the ten kings conspired to give their power and strength unto the beast. God has given all up, because it is the time when there shall be strong delusion, and men will believe a lie. I gather from that, not that this has no bearing upon the papacy, but that its full accomplishment is in the future. 1 Say that the Roman Empire, which has ceased to exist, will be re-organized, and will be the instrument for carrying out the last great effort of Satan against the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Daniel we find that this little horn overthrows three powers. Then we have its moral characteristics. It has eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. He is marked by immense intelligence—not by brute force. The description of him contrasts with that of the Lord. In the Lord's case, He is characterized as having seven horns and seven eyes—that is, the perfection of intelligence and of power. In this case it is not so. The power outwardly looks much greater. It has ten horns instead of seven—a monster instead of perfection. It is a sort of grotesque exaggeration of the power of Christ that this wretched man will arrogate to himself.
Then comes the overthrow, because of its fearful blasphemy against God. And a new vision follows here, in contrast with the powers that were represented by raveling beasts. It is “one Iike the Son of man.” Just as in the second chapter it was an insignificant stone that struck the great image, and all crumbled to pieces from head to foot. Here the Son of man “came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” The Ancient of days represents God as such.
In the Revelation, the two glories are both united in the Person of Christ. Rev. 1 shows us one like the Son of Man: but when we find the description of Him, some of the features are exactly the same as are attributed here to the Ancient of days, whose garment is said to be as white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool, &c. The Jewish prophet sees Christ simply as man. The Christian prophet sees Him as man, but as God withal.
“And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” There will be no such thing as its being taken from him, or as another power succeeding him. It will be everlasting in the sense of as long as the world shall endure. Because this is not an eternal scene. The Jewish prophets show you the millennium; but they do not unfold, as the New Testament does, that when all things are subdued to God, even the Father, God shall be all in all. That was reserved for another day; and the Revelation follows it up in a most blessed manner, in chap. xxi.
Just mark, by the way, a feature of some importance. The latter part of the chapter consists of explanations; but we are never to suppose that the explanations of Scripture merely refer to what has already been given. That is the case in human writings, but in God's explanations there is always further truth brought out. This is of moment. Through not understanding this, the kingdom of Christ has been supposed to be merely the kingdom of His saints. There will be the kingdom of the Son of man and the kingdom of His people, but we are assuredly not to suppose that by this is meant the reigning of the saints in a figurative way to the exclusion of the Son of man. The explanation brings out the saints, which the vision does not. It is no less than denying the personality of the reign of Christ, if you make the explanation merely tantamount to the vision.
In verse 17 the person to whom the prophet appeals tells him, “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings which shall arise out of the earth.” Their origin was purely earthly. There is no contradiction at all between this and the fact that we are told in verse 2 That they came up from the sea. The reason why they are said to rise thence is that the sea represents a mass of men in a state of political anarchy. It is out of this troubled state of peoples that empires arise. Take the French Empire, for example. A revolution broke up the old system of government. Then followed a state of confusion, like the sea torn with the winds, and out of this emerged an empire. From such a state of things in the world the four great empires arose. It was, too, very much about the same time that the beginnings of the four great empires were laid. There was an immense difference in the degree of development in the East as compared with the West. The Western powers were comparatively only in the cradle: but the beginning of these various powers were traceable to much the same date and the same state of confusion and anarchy. That seems to be what is meant by their coming up out of the sea. But in verse 17 they are said to arise out of the earth. They have not a heavenly origin. The force of the sea was merely to show that it is out of a previously troubled state of society that they grew. Such was their providential origin. But here their moral origin is looked at as being purely earthly, in contrast with the Son of man, who comes in the clouds of heaven. What makes this still plainer is that in the next verse (ver. 18) it is said, “But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever.” The margin says, “the saints of the high ones.” It is the origin of the expression in the New Testament, “heavenly places.” It is the same expression whether applied to our blessings, “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” in Eph. 1, or to the “high places” in Eph. 6 The saints of the heavenly places (that is, probably, of God in connection with the heavenly places) “shall take the kingdom.” This gives the contrast. As for these four great powers, the best that could be said of them, if you look at their political origin, was that they arose out of a confused and tumultuous state of things in the world, or at their moral origin—it was not from heaven. If, on the other hand, you look at the saints of the heavenly places, they are those destined to take the kingdom, which they possess for evermore. This adds an important truth to the fact of the Son of man's getting the kingdom. When He takes the kingdom, He will not take it alone. All that have ever waited for this kingdom, in all ages, will come along with Him. It will be the time when He will manifest His Church, when Abraham, Enoch, David, no matter who they may be that have known Him by faith, will be there in their changed and glorified bodies, and will reign along with Him. “Know ye not,” the Apostle says, “that we shall judge the world?” That clearly must mean in this kingdom of the Son of man. Because if it were merely a question of going to heaven to be with Christ, that is not judging the world. So that while it is true that we are to go up to heaven, it is not all. “Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?” If we have not known that, how comes it? Some truth has been let slip, if we have not looked for this. And mark the practical importance of it. The very fact that you do not know it proves that you want something that God makes a great deal of. And how does God use it in the Epistle to Corinthians? It was to reproach the Corinthians for carrying their questions before the world. Do you not know, he reasons with them, that you are called to this place of dignity? It is not merely that you will have it by and by; but God makes it known and true now. Just as the heir to the kingdom is instructed and fitted for the throne that he is to occupy, so God is educating His saints now to take the kingdom of the world which is to belong to Christ. It is a revealed truth of God that the kingdom of the world shall become that of our Lord and of His Christ: but when He does reign, the saints will reign also. The saints of the heavenly places—who are they? Those whose hearts are with Christ above—those who will be converted before Christ comes and will have a people gathered upon the earth—those who have ever in past ages died in Christ, or who are now waiting for Christ—those too who will pass through the great tribulation. All these are saints of the Most High. They are in contrast with others. Because there will be saints when Christ comes to reign, who will be blessed upon the earth. There will be a great harvest there. The Lord will bring those saints into all the promised blessings of His kingdom. But we are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and shall reign over the earth. That is distinguished from the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven. There are certain saints that are in the heavens; but there is another class spoken of that are here below. This kingdom shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High. Those are some of the persons that the saints will reign over. “Know ye not,” urges the Apostle Paul, “that the saints shall judge the world?” Accordingly here we have “the people of the saints of the Most High,” as a distinct class.
There are many details in this chapter that I have not entered into. But there is a description of the evil conduct of the little horn that I must say a few words upon, although a little out of order. It is said (ver. 20,) that “it had eyes and a mouth that spoke very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” Then, in the further account, it is said, (ver. 25,) that this little horn “shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, (referring to his persecutions), and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hands, until a time and times and the dividing of time.” It is necessary to understand what this little horn will do. The meaning is, that He will destroy the Jewish worship, at that time carried on upon the earth. By the “times” are meant their festivals or feast-days. He will interfere with that as Jeroboam did— “And they shall be given into his hand,” &c. It has been often supposed that “they” means the saints. But that is a total mistake. It is “the times and laws” that are to be given into his hand, for a certain limited period of time. God will allow him to have his way. He shall think, to do it. And the fact that they are to be given into his hands shows that he succeeds for a time in carrying out his desires. But God will never give His saints into the hands of His enemies, even for a time ever so short. He always keeps them in His own hands. Job was never more in the hands of God than when Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat. The sheep are in the hands of the Father and the Son, and none shall ever be able to pluck them thence. There is no such thought in the Word as God leaving or forsaking them. Here it is simply the outward arrangements of worship, of which the Jews will be the representatives on the earth, and they will be allowed for a time to fall under his power. For it is plain that at that time there will be Jewish saints owning God, and Jesus, too, in a measure: as it is said, (Rev. 14,) “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
These saints will be in a very peculiar position. There will be a sort of combination of the law, with a recognition of Jesus to a certain extent. During this state of things, they will come under the power of the little horn, “for a time, times, and the dividing of time” —that is, for three years and a half, closed by the coming of Christ in judgment.

Remarks on Daniel 8

THERE is a remarkable change which takes place at the point to which we are now arrived, and it may not be known to all readers of the Book of Daniel. The language in which the Spirit of God reveals this vision, and all that follow, is a different one from that in which He had conveyed the previous portions of the Book. From all early part of chap. ii. up to the end of chap. vii. the language was that of the Babylonian monarch—Chaldee: whereas from chap. viii. to the close it is Hebrew—the ordinary language of the Old Testament. Now this was not without purpose. And I think the clear inference that we are to gather from it is this: that what particularly concerned the Gentile monarchies was given in the language of the first great Gentile Empire. They were immediately concerned in it: and, in fact, as we know, the first vision (of the image) was seen by the Gentile king himself—Nebuchadnezzar. From that to the end of chap. vii. is in his own tongue. But now we are about to enter upon visions which specially concern the Jews—e.g., chap. viii. alludes to the sanctuary, to the holy people, to the daily sacrifice, and a number of other particulars; which would hardly have been intelligible to a Gentile, and which had—no sort of interest for him. But although they may even be little in our eyes now—though it may be only something of the past, concerning a people broken to atoms, scattered over the face of the earth, yet, nevertheless, it has a real and enduring interest in the mind of the Spirit. For the Jews are not done with yet. Far from it. The Jews have known throughout their whole history the misery of attempting to deserve the promises that were given to the fathers; and they have been allowed to work out the terrible experiment of the folly and ruin that necessarily follow man's attempting to earn what the grace of God alone can bestow. That has been, and is, the whole secret of their past and present history. They were brought out from Egypt by the power of God; but at Sinai they undertook to do all that the Lord spoke unto them. They did not say one word about what God had promised. The Lord alluded to it. But in no way did they remind Him that they were a stiffnecked people—a rebellious, unbelieving people. And when God proposed that they should obey Him, instead of acknowledging their utter incapacity, instead of throwing themselves only on His mercy, their answer betrayed, on the contrary, that boldness which always characterizes man in his natural state. “All that the Lord hath spoken,” say they, “will we do, and be obedient.” The result was that they did nothing that the Lord had said. They were disobedient at every turn, and God was obliged to deal with them as they deserved. No doubt there was divine goodness in it all; and every. step even of their failure only brought out, through God's grace, some type or shadow of the blessings that God will give them by and by, when, cured by His mercy of this sad mistake of the flesh, and having learned it in suffering and trial, and in that fearful tribulation through which they are destined yet to pass, they will then fall back upon that Blessed One whom their fathers despised and crucified, and will own that the mercy of God alone can give them any blessing, and that it is His mercy which will accomplish all that He had spoken to their fathers. It is this that begins to dawn in a particular way in the prophecies of Daniel. For although in the previous parts there had been types of it, (Daniel himself in the den of lions—or as interpreter to the king—the three Hebrew children who refused to worship idols,) all these things were types of what God will work in the latter day for Israel, in a little seed that He will reserve for Himself. But they are not types so clear, but that many Christians now would think it fanciful to consider them as such at all. We are now about to find what none ought to gainsay for a moment. Yet there are many true Christians who take these prophecies as finding their only answer in what concerns the Christian Church. They are apt to suppose that the little horn is the papacy. And in this chapter many have been disposed to find Islamism, the scourge of the eastern world, as the papacy is of the west. Whatever may be the analogies that would readily occur to any thoughtful mind, and that I by no means denied as to the little horn in chap. vii., I admit there are the same with regard to Mahommedanism in the east. But what I would desire to bring out clearly is the direct intention of the Spirit of God in these scriptures. It is all very well to find that there are seeds of evil germanating in the world, and that the horrors of the last days have their heralds—admonitory signs that arise ever and anon over the surface of the world, to show us what is coming. But in looking at the word of God, it is of importance to be divested of any desire to find the answer to prophecy in the past or present. The great thing is to go to it with an unbiassed mind, desiring nothing but to understand what God is teaching us. Therefore, whether it be about the past or the future, just as about the present, the chief requisite is, that we should be subject to God and to the word of His grace. I desire in this spirit, to endeavor, as far as the Lord enables me, to explain the meaning of this chapter.
As in chap. vii., so here, the vision was during the reign of Belshazzar; whereas the subsequent visions were after the power of Babylon was overthrown. But up to this time there was no judgment of Babylon. Notwithstanding this, the very place where the vision was seen prepares us for a certain change. It was in the east—still further east—at Shusan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam. Elam is the Hebrew name for Persia, or one of the names, at any rate. “And I saw in a vision, and was by the river of Ulai.” I only mention this to show that we have certain clues as to the bearing of the prophecy that follows. He lifts up his eyes and sees a ram—a well-known symbol, used in Persia itself, and very familiar in its monuments and public documents. “Behold there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.” Clearly the allusion is to the composite character of the Persian Empire. There were two elements in that empire, as distinguished from others—the Medish, which was the first, and the Persian, which was the younger element of the two. But the younger becomes in course of time the greater. Therefore it says that one horn was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. Although Darius the Mede takes the kingdom on the fall of Babylon, yet Cyrus the Persian is the one who acquires the supremacy in due time, and after that it is always the Persian that is more particularly mentioned, But still, even in the language of the nobles to Darius, we find them saying, “the law of the Medes and Persians.” The ram had two horns.
“I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward” —that is, the direction of the various conquests of the Persian empire— “so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand: but he did according to his will and became great.” We find as to this how entirely all profane history is obliged to bow to the word of God. But we need not go further than Scripture itself. Let any one read the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, &c., and he will see how wide and undisputed was that dominion. Even in profane history there was the term used about them— “the great king” —emphatically so about the Persian monarchy. How entirely this goes along with the prophetical account given of them here is manifest. “He did according to his will and became great.”
“And as I was considering, behold an he-goat came from the west.” Now this was the first inroad that the west had ever made upon the eastern world. And nothing seemed more improbable, because the east was the cradle of the human race. It was in the east that man was put when he was first made. It was in the east that he began his second history in the world—I mean in the world after the flood. It was from this center that the various races of men, after the Lord had confounded their language at Babel, spread themselves all over the world. It was also in the east that there was any considerable development of civilization, for hundreds of years before the west had emerged from barbarism. Yet here we find from this striking prophetical figure that when the Persian kingdom was still without a rival, not declining, but in the very plenitude of its power, there suddenly comes from quite another quarter a power represented in the vision as an he-goat—a western adversary. And this power advances with the greatest possible swiftness; as it is said here, “he touched not the ground.” No person of the least openness to conviction could question for a moment what is meant, even supposing he had not a divine interpretation of it in the chapter. There was but one ancient empire that it could be conceived to set forth—the Grecian empire—and the I great horn in its head was clearly its first chief, Alexander. “And he came to the ram that had two horns which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram and brake his two horns.” Here we have the Spirit of God giving in a few words what all history confirms. A new empire should rise after the fall of the Babylonian, symbolized by the ram, peculiar in this that it had two different peoples which composed its strength. This empire might go on in fullness of power for a certain time; but then, from another quarter, where there had been no kingdom of any note known before, comes a power of amazing swiftness in its progress, led on by a king of extraordinary courage and ambition. And this personage smites the Persian empire so completely that “there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and stamped upon him; and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.” “Moved with choler” is said more particularly about the Greek empire and Alexander. The Greeks had a ground of hatred against the Persians, which was not the case with the other empires. There was much of personal feeling in it, and this is admirably expressed by the word choler here. Why so? We do not read of that in the attacks of the Persians on the Babylonians, ferocious as they might be, or in those of the Romans upon the Greeks; but it was peculiarly true of this Greek inroad upon the Persian empire. The Persians had before invaded Greece, and thus had roused the strongest feeling against themselves. This traditional resentment descended from father to son, so that the Greeks considered themselves the natural enemies of the Persians. Such was the provocation that the Persians had given to the Greeks, who were but a petty nation at that time, and who had not at all sought to extend their bounds beyond their own native country. Now the moment was come that this blow should be returned and the Persians attacked in their own land: and the he-goat with this notable horn in its head comes, moved with choler, and smites the ram and breaks his two horns, casts him. down to the ground and stamps upon him. Nothing can be clearer, nothing more exactly descriptive as giving an idea of the relative position of these two powers to one another. If you were to read history all your life, you could not have a more vivid picture of the Persian downfall than what the Spirit of God has furnished in a few lines.
In this case it was rather less than three hundred years from the time of Daniel till these great events took place—a long enough time to show the wonder of God's perfect wisdom and the way in which He unveils the future to His people, but a comparatively short space in the history of the world; yet this is not His great object. The Spirit always looks forward to the close. He may introduce what is to be fulfilled in a comparatively brief time, but His main attention is directed to the end. of this age and not to those events that actually surround the parties of the world. God has a people that His heart is set upon: a people, it is true, who, through their own folly and want of leaning upon God, have been most feeble and failing, and who are to this day the scorn and by-word of the nations according to the word of God. But whatever might be the apparent might of Persia if not of Greece, and the importance of their controversies as filling up the history of the world, God thinks but little of them. He disposes of the records of centuries in a few words. The point to which God hastens on, might be small then in the eyes of the world, but being connected with the interests of His king and His people, He goes on to the great events connected with them in the last days. This gives the key to the verses that follow. Their importance is because of their.connection with Jewish history and because they reflect what is to take place another day.
“Therefore the he-goat waxed very great; and when he was strong, the great horn was broken.” This was exactly the case with Alexander. He was cut off while quite a young man, in the midst of his victories. “And for it came up four notable ones, toward the four winds of heaven.” There was a certain time that elapsed after the death of Alexander, when his generals were squabbling together and trying to set up a number of kingdoms; but the end of all was that there were four kingdoms formed out of the proper dominions of Greece. So that I do not question that the allusion here is to the well-known division into four kingdoms of Alexander's empire, which took place about three hundred years before Christ.
“And out of one of them came forth a little horn,” otherwise called in Scripture the King of the North. Being in the north, he pushes his dominions down “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” My reason for so thinking, beyond that of the direction of his conquests, (which shows where his own power lay, and the point from which he started,) will more particularly appear when we come to verse 11. What we have here is the succession of these two empires—Persia first, and then Greece. For out of one of the fragments of the Grecian empire there sprang a king that was afterward to play a most important part in connection with the land and people of the Jews. This is the great point of the chapter.
Here then we find that this little horn “waxed great even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” By this is meant, I apprehend, those that were in a position of honor and glory before the Jewish people. Thus, stars are used, in the New Testament, as the symbol of those who are set in a place of authority in the Church; just so I conceive, the “host of heaven” here alludes to persons that held a place of authority in the Jewish polity. It is the key-note to all this part of the prophecy. It is the importance of all that affects Israel that is now coming into view. Hence you find an expression used that may seem strong— “the host of heaven.” But we must not be surprised at this. God takes the utmost interest in His people. Bear in mind that this does not imply that His people were in a good state. On the contrary, in judging of failure, we must take into consideration the position that people occupied, and for which they are responsible. If you look at Christendom you must remember that all who profess the name of Christ, whether truly or falsely—every baptized person—every person that has come under the outward recognition of the name of Christ, is in the house of God. People fancy that it is only those who are really converted that have any moral obligations. This is a total mistake. A new kind of responsibility flows from the fact of conversion and the relationships of grace.
But there is a responsibility that involves a vast accession of guilt when men are in any place of privilege. This is a very solemn truth, and God attaches importance to it. Look at the Second Epistle to Timothy. God's house is there compared to a great house among men, and in it there are vessels to dishonor as well as to honor. The former are not converted at all; they might be altogether bad people, but still they are said to be vessels in the house of God. The church, that which bears the name of Christ upon the earth, is always responsible to walk as the bride of Christ. Yet you cannot allude to such a privilege and responsibility as that without seeing the utter ruin, and failure, and declension of what bears His name. And this is the practical importance of keeping in view the position which God has assigned us. We never can judge how low we have got till we see the place in which God has put us. Supposing I have to examine my ways as a Christian, I must bear in mind that a Christian is a man whose sins are blotted out; that he is a member of the body of Christ, and loved with the same love wherewith the Father loved the Son. Some are accustomed to think that if a man is not a Jew, or a Turk, or a heathen, he must be a Christian. But when a believer hears that a Christian is one who is made a king and a priest to God, a purged worshipper having no more conscience of sin, he becomes anxious and feels that he has not one right or full idea of his own calling and responsibility. He then begins to have a different standard of judgment, to measure how he ought to feel and work, and walk for God.
The same thing applies to Israel here. Those that held this place of responsible authority in Israel, were alluded to here as the host and stars of heaven. They were put in a place of authority by God. For we must remember, in connection with Israel, that they are the people that, in the mind of God, have the first place upon the earth. They are the head, and the Gentiles the tail. This, I am aware, is a new thought to persons who are wont to look at Jews with an air of contemptuous pity, only judging of them by their present degraded condition. But in order to judge rightly we must look at things with God, we must feel with God; and God uses this strong language in regard to persons put of old in a position of outward authority among the Jews. Persons have supposed that because certain were spoken of in such exalted terms, Christians must be meant. But as God's nation, Israel held the first place in His mind in the government of the world. This is their calling, and “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” God will never give up that great thought that He has called Israel into this place, and they are judged according to it. This vision is while the power of Babylon is not yet judged. It gives you a view of what will be realized in the last days with regard to Israel, before the power that began with Babylon has been completely set aside.
This little horn waxed great, and cast down some of the hosts and stars of heaven and stamped upon them. That is, he overthrew certain Jewish rulers that were in this place of great authority; treated them with the utmost cruelty, and degraded them. “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host,” which, I suppose, means the Lord himself. The marginal note is right in the next clause. “From him the daily sacrifice was taken away,” This at once makes it all plain, because it introduces the utmost confusion to take “by him,” to mean the little horn; and then “the place of his sanctuary,” to mean that of the prince of the host. The person that was represented by this little horn is to magnify himself even to the prince of the host. “And from him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression.” And then we go back to the little horn again. “And it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered.” In other words, the 11Th verse and the first half of the 12Th form a parenthesis; and then in the latter part of verse 12 we again have “it,” which designates the little horn in verse 10. The “it” takes up the horn that was to appear and deal in a cruel way with the Jewish people, and with their rulers in an aggravated form.
Then we have, as the prophet says, “one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary he cleansed.” I strongly suspect that, in the main what we have here, save the portion which is marked parenthetically, has had a partial accomplishment in the past. We shall read of a personage in chap. xi. where the characteristics alluded to here as marking this little horn, are still more minutely stated. He is called in profane history, Antiochus Epiphanes, and was a particularly bad man. If you have read the books of the Maccabees, (which, though not scripture, are in the main historically true, at least two of them,) you will know that they describe this King of Syro-Macedona, and show the dreadful feeling that he had against Israel. he attempts to force heathen worship upon them, especially that of Jupiter Olympus; and he put to death all the Jews who resisted his designs, till at last, partly by the Romans and partly by the force and courage of the Maccabees themselves, he was repressed and defeated, and the temple once more cleansed again and the Jewish worship resumed. No doubt, this was the person meant historically by the little horn. But he shows the same kind of features that will re-appear in another great leader of the last days, and I think that this will plainly appear from the last part of this chapter. For when the prophet is spoken to by the angel Gabriel, he says, “Understand, O son of man; for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
I think this denotes that what he is going to explain more particularly looks onward to that time. But it gives me the opportunity to repeat a remark that has before been made—that we are never to suppose that the explanations of a vision in Scripture are merely a repetition of what has gone before. They allude to the past, but they add fresh features not given before. This is particularly clear in the present case. And the past part of the vision (that which had already been seen by the Prophet) has been in the main accomplished; whereas the explanatory part adds fresh information that looks onward to the last days. Nevertheless, there is an explanation in measure of what has gone before. But you will observe how frequently in the explanations of the angel the last days are brought before us. He said, Behold I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation; for at the time appointed the end shall be.” There can be no question, if I am at all familiar with the prophets, what that means. Take the first of them. There I find this very expression, “the indignation.” In the end of Isa. 5, and then in chap. ix. x., this word “indignation” is repeated over and over again. The prophet shows, that, in consequence of the idolatry of Israel, and specially of their kings, God's indignation was roused against His people. He sends a chastening upon them. But whatever the first effects of the chastening might be, the evil burst out again with fresh fury, as evil always does, unless it is put away. Therefore comes in that terrible word, “For all this his anger is not turned away; but his hand is stretched out still.” his anger did not cease. Then in chap. x. 25, we find that He says that His indignation shall Cease. But wherein? There is a personage brought forward there called the Assyrian; and this Assyrian was one set forth then by Sennacherib, who was latterly the King of Assyria. He was the first who was particularly mixed up with the affairs of Israel, or rather of Judah. And what do we find? The Assyrian there is to be used as the rod of God's anger; but when God has performed His whole work upon Mount Zion, and on Jerusalem—when he has allowed, as it were, the indignation to burn out, it will cease in the destruction of the Assyrian himself, because he forgot that he was merely a rod in the hands of the Lord. He considered that he was acting by his own wisdom and might, and the Lord says that He will deal with the rod itself and destroy it. Accordingly, that very chapter shows us the indignation of the Lord ceasing in his destruction. That indignation is solely connected with His people Israel. So that this confirms what I before said—that here we are upon Jewish ground. It is not about what popes or Moslems may do, nor about the inroads of the eastern or western apostacy. It concerns Israel—the last indignation of God against Israel. But it may be asked, Why is not the fourth empire introduced here? The reason is this; that while the dominion of these empires is taken away, upon which we have the successive rise of a new empire, yet the body remains and exists. Because it is out of the third empire, and not out of the fourth, was to rise this power that plays so important a part in the last days. So that we must remember that the little horn of chap. viii. is an entirely distinct power from the little horn of chap. vii. That of chap. vii. is the last leader of the Roman Empire. It arises out of the fourth Empire, when it is divided into ten kingdoms: whereas this power rises from the third empire, and when there was a division into four parts—not into ten. Nothing can be more distinct. Although the great dominion of the world has passed away from the third to the fourth empire; and although we have in Sennacherib the representative of the third empire, yet in the last days there will also be an inheritor of the third empire, who will meddle with Israel in a particular way. As there will be a grand leader in the west, so there will be also one in the east, springing out of the Greek empire. Because we must remember, that although, being the Grecian empire, it was west in comparison with Babylon and Palestine, it was east in comparison with Rome. This little horn we shall see more of afterward.
In verse 20, the ram with two horns is explained to represent the kings of Media and Persia; and in verse 21, “the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” Then, in verse 22, we have the breaking up of the Grecian empire; and, in verse 23, it is added, “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” This, I think, does not refer to Antiochus Epiphanes, but to the person that Antiochus typified. Mark the expression again, “In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full.” “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” A remarkable word, which is not said at all about the little horn of chap. vii. There, I apprehend, it was by his own power. Satan might give him power, too; but in his own person he wielded the force of the Roman empire. But in the case of this ruler, though his power will be mighty, it will not be by his own power. He depends upon the strength given him by others. He will be the instrument of foreign policy and power, not his own. “And he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice and destroy the mighty and the holy people.”
That is, we find that he is principally and expressly mentioned in connection with the Jews as a people. It is not here that you have the saints of the Most High. Where that is used it is not merely a figurative expression of the great men of the Jewish people, but here it is, as contrasted with Gentiles. It is not at all speaking about their character personally; that does not come into view in this chapter.
He shall meddle with them, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. “And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many.” That is, he will take advantage of their being in a state of ease and unprepared for his encroachments. “He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” He will. be utterly helpless in this last struggle. In another scripture it is said, (Dan. 11:45,) “He shall come to his end, and none shall help him.”
I would desire to hint at scriptures that will make the importance of this more clear than by merely taking it as given in Dan. 8. Is there light from other scriptures as to who this personage is, and what he will do? I answer, yes. He is the same person that is spoken of in various parts of the word of God as the Assyrian, or king of the north. He is the person that will be the great foe of the Jews in the last days. The Jews at that time will be exposed to two evils. They will have an evil within in their own land—an antichrist setting himself up as God in God's temple; and they will have another evil from without—this king. He comes up as an enemy against them; and He is one also that will have great policy. It is not merely by warlike power that he is distinguished. He is not only of fierce countenance, but understands Clark sentences. He will take the place of a great teacher, which would naturally have much influence over the Jewish mind, for they have always been a people given to research and intellectual speculations of all kinds. Of late years, the mass of them have been too much occupied with money—getting to pay much attention to these things; but there have been always representatives of the intellectual class among the Jewish people. And over such the influence of this king will be immense, when they are re-established in their own land, and are becoming important again, and the objects of the dealings of God in the way of judgment. Still the indignation will not have ceased. Thus it is that these two evils will afflict the Jews. The antichrist or the willful king will take the place of the true Messiah in the land of Israel. For it is plain, that if he takes the place of Messiah, it must be in the midst of the Jewish people and in the land of the Jews; whereas this personage is one who is opposed to them as an open enemy. This I take to be the king alluded to by the other prophets as the king of the north. I would now refer to a few of these scriptures.. The Assyrian and. Antichrist are totally distinct and opposed powers. The Assyrian will be the enemy of the Antichrist: the one will be the great self-exalting man inside, and the other the leader of the enemies outside. Isa. 10 gives us the first plain intimation that we have of him in the prophets. “Wherefore it shall come to pass that when the Lord hath performed His whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the King of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.” But persons will tell me, the Assyrians are all gone; there is no such nation existing. Now, I ask, has the Lord performed His whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem.? No. Then the Assyrian is not all gone. The Lord tells me here, that when he shall have performed this whole work, He will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the King of Assyria. But the Jews are not in their land, and Jerusalem is still trodden down of the Gentiles. I know that. But does it prove that the Jews are not to be in their land again, and Jerusalem to be delivered from Gentile bondage.? When the power of God gathers the Jews back into their own land, that same Providence will bring out the representative of the Assyrian in the last days. And as the Assyrian was the first great enemy of Israel, so he is the chief one at the last. He is the one that will come up for his judgment when the Lord shall have performed His whole work upon Zion and Jerusalem. He has not performed the whole. He has performed a part of it, but His indignation still continues against Israel. This is the reason why they are not in their land. Even when they do get back, the indignation will still be burning. There will be a return of the Jews in unbelief.: and then will come that great crisis, and God will gather the scattered ones that remain and put them in their own land, and the Assyrian will be judged. There is a certain great personage typified in the Assyrian in the past, that will re-appear in the last days. He is spoken of as this king of Assyria. He will govern in the very quarter where this little horn had its power—Turkey in Asia. Whether the Sultan will be the then possessor of these dominions I do not pretend to say; but, whoever he may be, he is the person referred to by the prophets as the king of the north. He will come down towards the pleasant land and will attack the Jews; but will afterward be broken to pieces. He will come to his end and none shall help him.
Look again at Isa. 14 And what makes it remarkable is this: that in the beginning of that chapter you have the King of Babylon spoken of. (Ver. 4.) “Take up this proverb against the King of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!” The King of Babylon does not represent the Assyrian. Babylon and Assyria were two distinct powers. Babylon was only a little province when Assyria was a great empire. And when the Assyrian was in ruins, Babylon was an altogether new thing, as an imperial power.
Isa. 14 opens by showing that “the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined to it and them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them and bring them to their place,” &c.—showing the intense interest that God will give the people of the world in putting them back into their place. “And the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids.” The Gentiles, instead of being masters, will be glad to be servants in those days.” “And they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors. And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the King of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the scepter of the rulers.” There evidently you have what has never yet been accomplished. No person with knowledge of Scripture can suppose that ever, from the time of Babylon's supremacy, Israel had been in a position to take up such a proverb as that. The “times of the Gentiles” begin with the Chaldean power being established over the Jews. And Jerusalem is to this day trodden down by the Gentiles. One power after another has taken possession of the city. Now, in these last days spoken of here, we have the Jews putting the Gentiles under them—making them their servants. And when that time comes, and not till theu, they will take up this proverb, “How hath the oppressor ceased!” &c. And that prophetic strain looks at the King of Babylon, of whom Nebuchadnezzar was the type—the last holder of that same power that came in with Babylon. Who is that? It is the beast—the last inheritor of the power that commenced with the King of Babylon. And it is his destruction that calls forth the joy and triumph of Israel. When the King of Babylon got this power, where was the Assyrian? Gone—broken. The King of Babylon, that had been a little power, rose upon the ruins of the Assyrian. But mark in this chapter, ver. 24, “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely, as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as l have purposed, so shall it stand, that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot; then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth.” There, evidently, we have this fact, that when that day of Israel's restoration comes, not only will they triumph in the fate of the King of Babylon, but the Lord will put down the Assyrian. That cannot refer to the mere historical Assyrian of the past. He was already gone when Babylon came into power: so that it can only be a type of a power yet to come. It shows that there will be two great powers in the latter day—the beast, represented by the King of Babylon, who at that time will be the enemy of the true-hearted Jews, though he purported to be the friend of the nation, that is, of the ungodly mass; as the Assyrian, on the contrary, will be the leader of the openly adverse coalition of the Gentiles against Israel. Other Scriptures proves this. In Isa. 30 you will find the same two powers coming into view again. In verse 27 it is said, “Behold the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger. . . And the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm. . . For through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down which smote with a rod” —(evidently alluding to his being the instrument of the Lord's chastening His people, as in Isa. 10:5;) “And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it. For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood: the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, shall kindle it” —showing that it is not merely a judgment of the earth, but a deeper thing. Tophet, or the pit, is ordained of old. “For the king also” is the true meaning of the next clause. This Tophet is not merely for the Assyrian, but also for the king. There are two distinct persons referred to, as we saw also in chap. xiv. “The king” will be in the land of Israel. The king will be there, under the auspices of the inheritor of the power of Babylon of that day. He will be there assuming to be the true Messiah. Tophet is prepared for him—but also for the Assyrian. They will be both consigned to Tophet. I need not refer to all the passages that refer to them; but you will find a great deal that is deeply interesting to Isaiah and other prophets as to “the king.”
But so far is it from being true that antichrist or “the king” is the one who most occupies the mind of God, that the prophets far more speak of the Assyrian. Christians are not generally aware of the large extent of prophecy. One of the most important powers in it is hardly thought of by them. If you look at the minor prophets, for instance Mic. 5, you will find an allusion to the same power; it is very plain. The chapter opens with a call. “Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us; they shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.” There is the rejection of the Messiah. Then the 2nd verse is a parenthesis which shows us who this Judge of Israel was. “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel.” They may smite Him upon the cheek; but after all, not only is He to be the ruler, but He is the everlasting God, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Then he resumes, in connection with verse I, “Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth:” that is, till the great purpose of God comes to pass about His people. “Then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land.” Mark that— “when the Assrian shall come, and when he shall tread in our palaces:” a thing that never has been accomplished yet. When the Assyrian came of old into the land of old, it is clear there was no such thing as the Judge of Israel there. Israel had not been given up at that time, but the Assyrian of that day was only the type of the great heir of the same name and power of the last days. And then there will be the Judge of Israel on behalf of His people. The Judge that was once smitten upon the cheek will be received by His people when God's great purposes are accomplished. “This man shall be the peace when the Assyrian shall come into our land.” Then we find, verse 6, Thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders. And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord.... and the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who if he go through, both treadeth down and teareth in pieces and none can deliver.” So that it is very plain that we have the encroachment of the Assyrian and his final putting down in connection with the final deliverance of Israel.
I have endeavored to show that while Antiochus Epiphanes was the type of this Assyrian, yet that after all it was only in a very small part indeed that he meets the requirements of the prophecy, which while it makes use of him as a type, looks onward to the latter times of the indignation of God against Israel, when he comes up to receive his judgment from the hands of God. You will see how important it is to keep clearly in mind that God has these great purposes about Israel; that what man makes so much of—the episode of Papacy now or of Mohammedism passed over very slightly indeed. I acknowledge that we find a certain measure of accomplishment in both, but the Church is never allowed by God to be an earthly people. When the Jews again come into view, then we have the importance of what touches them, and this Assyrian will come down from without, at the same time that there will be “the king” within: and both will be the objects of the judgments of God. God will put them both down. And his people, purged by their trials, and looking to Jehovah Jesus, will be thus made meet for the purposes of God in mercy, and goodness, and glory, throughout the world to come.
The Lord grant that we may know His purposes about us. We have nothing to do with this world. We are strangers in it. We are entitled to read all these things in the light of heaven. It is not said that Daniel did not understand them: the others did not. But whatever was the case with them, we, by the Holy Ghost are entitled to understand these things now. And the Lord grant that our minds may be kept clear as to what God puts before us as to our own path.

Remarks on Daniel 9

Chap. 9.
THE fall of Babylon was connected in the prophecies of Isaiah, as well as Jeremiah, with brighter hopes for the Jew. The partial restoration that took place in consequence furnishes the type of the final ingathering of Israel. This accounts for the notion which has prevailed among some Christians, that what took place then is all that we are to look for in behalf of Israel, as such, and that their subsequent sin in rejecting their Messiah, and the mercy of the gospel to the Gentiles, has involved them in irreparable national ruin.
Although there are true elements in such thoughts, they are very far indeed from being the whole truth. God does not abandon the people that He called. Never does He give a gift of grace and then withdraw it utterly. For the same grace which promised deals with the person and heart of the believer, and works till it is brought home morally by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus, along with the mercy, whether to an individual or to a people that He calls, there is also the longsuffering faithfulness and power, which in the end always triumphs.
The history of the past, no doubt, has been a total failure. The reason of that was because Israel chose to stand upon their own strength with God, and not upon the goodness of God towards them. This is always and necessarily fatal for a time. “This generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled.” That is, all that was threatened and predicted must yet befall the generation of Israel which presumed upon its own righteousness, and which finally showed its real character by rejecting Christ and the gospel. A real sense of moral ruin (that is, repentance towards God) ever accompanies real living faith. Israel have gone through this phase of self-confidence, or are still going through it. “That generation” has not yet passed away: all things are not fulfilled. They have not yet suffered the full results of their own folly and hatred of God's Son. They have yet to stiffer the severest chastening for it: for, although the past has been bitter enough, still there are more terrible things in the future. But when all has taken place, they will begin the new scene, when it will be not the Christ rejecting generation going on, but what Scripture speaks of as “the generation to come:” a new stock of the same Israel, who will be children of Abraham by faith in Christ Jesus—children, not in word only, but in spirit. Then it will be the history, not of man's failure, but of a people whom the Lord blesses in His grace; when they will joyfully own that same Savior whom their fathers with wicked hands crucified and slew.
This chapter is especially occupied with Jerusalem and the Jews. It is a sort of episode in the general history of Daniel, but by no means an unconnected one. Because we shall find that the closing history of Israel peculiarly connects them with these personages that are yet to figure against God and His people, as we have read in previous chapters. It must be evident to any person who reads this chapter intelligently, that the main object is the destiny of Jerusalem, and the future place of God's people. Now Daniel was exceedingly interested in this. He was one that loved them, not merely because they were his people, but because they were God's people. He resembles Moses in this—that even when the moral condition of the people hindered God from being able to speak of them as His people (He might care for them secretly; but I speak now of God's publicly owning them) Daniel still continues to plead that they were His people. Be never gives up the truth that Jerusalem was God's city and Israel His people. The angel might say, Daniel's people and city—that was all quite true; but Daniel still holds to that precious truth that faith ought never to give up:—Let the people be what they may, they are God's people. For that very reason they might be chastened more and more sorely. Because nothing brings more chastening upon a soul that belongs to God and that has fallen into sin, than that he does belong to God. It is not merely a question of what is good for the child. God acts for Himself and from Himself, and that is the very hinge and pivot of all our blessing. What would it be to us if it were merely that God was working for our glory? We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. We shall have something far better, because it will be God blessing us according to what is worthy of Himself.
Now Daniel was one that emphatically entered into this thought. It is the prominent feature of faith. For faith never views a thing barely in connection with oneself, but with God. It is always thus. If it is a question of peace, is it merely that I want peace? No doubt I do want it, as a poor sinner that has been at war with God all my life. But how infinitely more blessed when we come to find that it is “peace with God:” not merely a peace with one's own heart and conscience, but with God? It is a peace that stands in His sight. All This own character comes out in giving it to me, and in putting it upon such a basis that Satan shall never be able to touch. It is to deliver me, to break the very neck of sin; and nothing does it so completely as this—that God met me when I deserved nothing but death and eternal judgment, and spent His beloved Son in giving me a peace worthy of Himself. And He has done it: He has given it; and all Christian practice flows from the assurance that I have found this blessing in Christ.
Here, then, we have Daniel deeply interested in Israel, because they were God's people. He consequently seeks in God's word what He has revealed about His people. This took place “in the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes.” It was not some new communication. “In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
Besides being a prophet, Daniel understood that Israel were to be restored to their land, before the event took place. He did not wait to see it accomplished, and then merely say, The prophecy is fulfilled. But he understood “by books,” not by circumstances. No doubt there were the circumstances in the fall of Babylon; but he understood by what God had said, and not merely by what man had done. This is the true way of understanding prophecy. So that it is remarkable that when we are about to enter upon a very distinct prophecy, occupied almost exclusively with the narrow sphere of Israel, God shows us the true key to the understanding of prophecy. Daniel read the prophet Jeremiah; and he saw from that clearly, that Babylon once overthrown, Israel would be allowed to return. And what is the effect of this on his soul? He draws near to God. He does not go to the people whom the prophecy so intimately concerned, telling them the good news; but he draws near to God. This is another feature of faith. It always tends to draw into the presence of God him who thereby understands the mind of God in anything. He has communion with God about that which he receives from God, before he even makes it known to those who are the objects of the blessing. We have seen the same thing in Daniel before in chap. 2. Now, we may observe, it is not with thanksgiving, but with confession. We could understand readily that if the people of Israel were just going into captivity, he must feel it as a deep chastening, and would draw near to God to acknowledge the sin and bow under His rod. But now God had judged the oppressor of Israel, and was about to deliver his people. Nevertheless, Daniel draws near, and what does he say When he does speak to God, it is not merely about their deliverance. It is a prayer, full of confession to God. And I would make, as to this, another remark of a general kind. If the study of prophecy does not tend to give us a deeper sense of the failure of God's people upon the earth, I am persuaded we lose one of its most important practical uses. It is because of the absence of this feeling that prophetic study is generally so unprofitable. It is made more a question of dates and countries, of popes and kings; whereas God did not give it to exercise people's wits, but to be the expression of His own mind touching their moral condition: so that whatever trials and judgments are portrayed there, they should be taken up by the heart, and felt to be the hand of God upon His people, because of their sins. That was the effect on Daniel. He was one of the most esteemed prophets—as the Lord Jesus Himself said, “Daniel the prophet.” And the effect upon him was, that he never lost the moral design in the bare circumstances of the prophecy. He saw the great aim of God. He heard His voice speaking to the heart of His people in all these communications. And here he spreads all before God. For, having read of the deliverance of Israel, that was coming on the occasion of the downfall of Babylon, he sets his face unto the Lord God, “to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. And I prayed unto the Lord may God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments, we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly,” &c. Another thing I would observe here. If there was one man in Babylon who, from his own conduct and state of soul, might be supposed to have been outside the need of confession of sin, it was Daniel. He was a holy and devoted man. More than that: he was carried away at so tender an age from Jerusalem, that, it is clear, it was not because of anything he had taken part in, that the blow had fallen. But not the less he says, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity.” Nay, I am even bold to say that the more separate you are from evil, the more you feel it: just as a person emerging into light feels so much the more the darkness that he has left. So Daniel, being one whose soul was with God, and who entered into God's thoughts about His people—knowing the great love of God, and seeing what God had done for Israel, for he does not keep that back in his prayer,) he does not merely notice the great things that God had done for Israel, but also the judgments that He had inflicted upon them. Did he, therefore, think that God did not love Israel? On the contrary, no man had a deeper sense of the tie of affection that existed between God and His people: and for that reason it was he estimated so deeply the ruin in which the people of God were. he measured their sin by the depth of God's love, and the fearful degradation that had passed upon them. It was all from God. He did not impute the judgments which had fallen upon them to the wickedness of the Babylonians or the martial skill of Nebuchadnezzar. It was God he sees in it all. He acknowledges that it was their sin—their extreme iniquity; and he includes all in this. It was not merely the small people imputing their sorrows to the great, and the great to the small, as is so often the case among men. He does not plead simply the ignorance and badness of a few; but he takes in the whole—rulers, priests, people. There was not one that was not guilty. “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity.” And this is another effect wherever prophecy is studied with God. It always brings in the hope of God's standing up in behalf of his people—a hope of the bright and blessed day when evil shall disappear, and good shall be established by divine power. Daniel does not leave that out. We find it put as a kind of frontispiece to this chapter. The details of the seventy weeks show you the continued sin and suffering of the people of God. But before this, the end, the blessing is brought before the soul. How good that is of God! God takes occasion to give me, first of all, the certainty of final blessing, and then He shows me the painful pathway that leads to it.
I need not enter now upon the thoughts suggested by this beautiful prayer of Daniel, save one thing of practical importance. It is this: that the prophecy came from God as the answer to the state of soul in which Daniel was found. he took the place of humble confession before God, became the expression of the people, the representative of the people, in spreading out their sins before God. Perhaps there was not another soul that did so, certainly there were not many. It is rare, indeed, to find many souls taking the place of real confession before God. How few now have an adequate sense of the ruin of the church of God! How Few feel the dishonor done even by the faithful to the Lord! In Babylon, those who were the most guilty felt it the least; whilst the man who was the most free from guilt, was he who spread it out the most honestly before God.
In answer to his genuine and deep feeling of Israel's state, God sends the prophecy. The soul that refuses to examine such words of God as these, knows not the loss it thus sustains. And wherever the child of God is kept from what God communicates as to the future, (I speak not now of mere speculations, which are worthless, but of the grand moral lessons contained in it.) there is always feebleness and want of ability to judge of the present.
But there is another thing to notice before passing to the seventy weeks. Although Daniel spreads out before God their great failure, and falls back upon His great mercies, yet he never pleads the promises that were given to Abraham. He does not go beyond what was said to Moses. This is of interest and importance. It is the true answer to any who suppose that the restoration of Israel, which took place at that time, was the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises. Daniel did not take that ground. There was no such thing then as the presence of Christ, among His people as their king. Now, the promises made to the fathers suppose the presence of Christ, because Christ is, in the only full and proper sense, the seed of Abraham. Without Him what were the promises? Accordingly, with divine wisdom, Daniel was led to take the true ground. Whatever restoration was to take place then was not the complete one. This prophecy does bring us to the final blessing of Israel when the seventy weeks are consummated. But the return, after the fall of Babylon, was merely the accomplishment of what was partial and conditional, not the fulfillment of the promises to the fathers. This is worthy of observation. The promises that were then made were absolute, because they depended upon Christ, who is the true seed in the mind of God, though Israel were the seed after the letter. So that until Christ came, and His work was done, there could not be the full restoration of the people of Israel. When Israel took the ground of the law, in the time of Moses, they soon broke it and were broken. Even before it was put into their hands, on the tables of stone, they were worshipping the golden calf. The consequence was, that Moses from that time took a new place—the place of a mediator. He goes up again into the mount, and pleads with God for the people. God would not call them his people. He says to Moses, “thy people,” and would not own them as His. Moses, however, will not let God go, but pleads with Him that, let the people have done what they may, they are “Thy people;” rather let me be blotted out than Israel lose their inheritance. This was what God delighted in the reflex of His own love to them. You may have got some fault to find with one whom you love, but you would not like to hear another person finding it. So Moses, pleading in behalf of Israel, was what met the heart of God. No doubt they had sinned a great sin, and Moses felt and confessed it, but he pleads withal that they are God's people.
God draws out the heart of Moses more and more; puts grand things before him, offers to exterminate the people and make of him a great nation. No, says Moses; I would rather lose everything than that they should be lost. This was the answer of grace to the grace that was in God's heart about people. Consequently, when God gave the law a second time, it was not given as before; but the Lord proclaimed His name as One that was abundant in goodness and truth, while He showed at the same time that He would by no means clear the guilty. In other words, the first time it was pure law, pure righteousness, which terminated in the golden calf, i.e., pure unrighteousness on the part of the people. And they must have been destroyed, but, on the pleading of Moses, God brings in a mingled system, partly law and partly grace.
That was the ground Daniel takes here. He pleads that, although they had broken the law, God had pronounced His name as “abundant in goodness and truth.” He believes that. He does not go back to the promises made to Abraham; on this ground the restoration would have been full and final, whereas this was not. And if you take a man now who is partly standing upon what Christ has done for him, and partly upon what he does for Christ, will you ever find such an one happy? Never. That was the ground the Israelites were on. Daniel, therefore, does not go beyond that. Christ was not yet come. On the other hand, when Christ is born you will find, if you look at the song of Zacharias, (Luke 1.) or of the angels, (Luke 2.) that the ground taken was not what God had said to Moses, but the promises made to the fathers. Up to the moment appointed of God, Zacharias had been dumb, a sign of the condition of Israel. But now that the forerunner is named on the eve of the coming of Christ, his mouth is opened.
Before we enter upon the prophecy of the seventy weeks more fully, as the Lord may enable us, I would first call your attention to this— “Whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel.” Observe, all his thoughts are about Israel and about Jerusalem. The prophecy is not about Christianity, but about Israel. There is no understanding it unless we hold that fast. “Whiles I was speaking... and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” Then, in verse 24, the prophecy begins. It has to do with Daniel's people— “upon my people.” It speaks of a special period that was defined in connection with Israel's full deliverance. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” Any one must see that the Jews and Jerusalem are meant. “... To finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy, or Holy of holies.” From first to last this was a period that was marked out in the mind of God, and revealed to Daniel, touching the future destiny of the city and the people of God here below. A person at once is startled, and asks, Have we, then, nothing to do with “reconciliation for iniquity” and “everlasting righteousness?” I ask, of whom does the verse speak? You will find other scriptures which reveal our interest in the blotting out of sin, and the righteousness which we are made in Christ. But we must adhere to this golden rule in reading the word of God—never to force scripture in order to make it bear upon ourselves or others. When a person is converted, but not yet in peace, if he sees something about “an end of sins,” he at once applies that to himself. Feeling his need, he grasps, like a drowning man, at what cannot bear his weight, or at least is not said about him. If directed to the declarations of the grace of God to us poor sinners of the Gentiles, instead of loss great would be his gain; he would have far more definite scripture to meet his need, and, if assailed by Satan, he would feel no weakness, or fear, or uncertainty. Whereas, if he were taking passages that applied to the Jews, Satan might touch him as to the ground of his confidence, and he would be obliged to say, This is not literally and certainly about me at all. The “seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city,” But I do not belong to them. There is the importance of understanding scripture, and seeing what God is speaking about. If this had been borne in mind the greater part of the controversy that has arisen about the passage never could have taken place. People were hasty and anxious to introduce something about themselves as Gentiles or Christians; whereas the attitude of the prophet, the circumstances of the people, and the words of the prophecy itself, exclude all thought, save of what concerns the Jews and their city. We must look elsewhere to find what relates to the Gentiles. Allow me, however, to remark, that the end of sins for that city and people rests upon exactly the same foundation as our own. Thus the Apostle John tells us, Jesus died “not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” (John 11:52.) There I find two distinct purposes in the death of Christ. This prophecy only takes in the first. He died for that nation—the Jewish nation. But He also, in the very same act of death, made provision, not only for the salvation that God has brought in for us, but also for gathering together “the children of God that were scattered abroad.”
So that if we take the Bible as it is, without being too anxious to find ourselves here or there, instead of losing, we shall always be gainers in extent, depth, and, above all, in clear firm hold of the blessing, and we shall not feel that we have been taking other people's property, and claiming goods upon a tenure that can be disputed, but that what we have is what God has freely and assuredly given us. That will never be the case, if I take up prophecies about Israel and found my title to blessing upon them; they are neither the gospel for the sinner nor the revelation of the truth about the Church.
This, then, is the proper bearing of the closing verses of the chapter before us. The details of the weeks follow the first general statement. “Seventy weeks,” he says, “are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Then, in verse 25, the first particular comes in, after defining the starting point.
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks and three score and two weeks.” Now, in the book of Ezra, we have a commandment from the king Artaxerxes, called in profane history Artaxerxes Longimanus, one of the monarchs of the Persian empire. The first commandment was given to Ezra, the scribe, “In the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.” In the twentieth year of the same monarch's reign, another commandment was given to Nehemiah. Now, it is important for us to decide which of these two is referred to by Daniel. The first of them is recorded in Ezra 7, the second in Nehemiah ch. 2. A careful examination of the two will show which is meant. Many excellent persons have interpreted it in a way which differs from that which I believe to be correct. But scripture alone can decide the questions that arise out of scripture. Foreign elements will lead to perplexity. Remark, that it is not merely a general order to the Jews, like that of Cyrus, permitting their return, but a special one to restore their polity. Now, what is the difference between the two in the reign of Artaxerxes? The one to Ezra was mainly with a view to the rebuilding of the temple; the other to Nehemiah, with a view to the city. Which is it here? “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” Evidently the city is intended; and if so, then we must see which of the two concerns the city. There can be little doubt it was the second, not the first. It was the commission given to Nehemiah in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, not that to Ezra, thirteen years before. A comparison with Nehemiah will confirm this.
What led certain persons to take the first of them as the one meant here, was the idea that the seventy weeks were to terminate with the coming of the Messiah. But that is not said. Verse 24 gives us much more than the coming of the Messiah. “Seventy weeks are determined to make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity.” There you have at least His work. His suffering and death, we know, are implied. But more than that: “to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Holy of holies,” by which last every Israelite would understand the sanctuary of God. It is plain that all this did not take place when the Messiah came, nor even when He died. For though the foundation of the blessing was laid in His blood, yet the bringing it in was not yet realized for Israel; and these seventy weeks suppose that Israel will then be fully blessed. This shows us the great importance of attending to the prophecy itself; not merely looking at the events, but interpreting the events by the prophecy. “From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah, the Prince, (without defining what time,) shall be” —not seventy weeks—but “seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks;” that is sixty-nine weeks. There at once I learn that, for a reason unexplained at the beginning of the prophecy, sixty-nine weeks out of the seventy are rent from the last week. The chain is broken: one week is severed from the rest, I am told that, from the word to restore and build Jerusalem, (which is here made the starting point, or the time from which we begin to reckon the seventy weeks,) there are seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: somewhat separate periods, but making in all sixty-nine weeks to the Messiah, the Prince. There evidently we have a very notable fact. And why, we may ask, are the seven weeks separated from the sixty-two weeks? The next words show: “The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” The seven weeks, I apprehend, were to be occupied with reconstituting the city of Jerusalem. In the lapse of seven weeks, or forty-nine years (for I suppose no reader will doubt that they are weeks of years) from the point of departure, the building that was begun would be finished. The street was to be built again, and the walls even in troublous times. Now the accounts of these times of difficulty and strait we have in the book of Nehemiah, who gives us the latest date that Old-Testament history records. Then, taking up the other period, after not only the seven weeks, but the sixty-two weeks, “shall Messiah be cut off.”
Before proceeding, I may observe that there are several little inaccuracies. It is “after the threescore and two weeks.” The article is left out here where it ought to be inserted, and put in, where it ought not to appear, in verse 27. “After the threescore and two weeks” —that is, in addition to the seven weeks spent in building the city of Jerusalem— “shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself.” The proper meaning of that last expression, no one can doubt, is “and shall have nothing.” The margin is here more correct than the text and gives it so. The idea is that Messiah, instead of being received by his people, and bringing in the blessing promised at the end of the seventy weeks, should, after sixty-nine weeks, be cut off, and have nothing. The entire rejection of the Messiah by His own people is intimated in these words. And here is the consequence. The key comes in now and explains the difficulty stated at the beginning—why the sixty-nine weeks are severed from the seventieth. The death of Christ rent the chain and broke off the relations of the people of Israel with God. Hence, Israel having rejected their own Messiah, the last week is for a time set aside. This week terminates in full blessing; but Israel are themselves rejected for their sin against their own Messiah. This is the reason why we read, after this, “and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; cud the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” He had said before that seventy weeks were determined to make an end of sins, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, &c; that is, at the end of this appointed time, full blessing should be brought in. Whereas now we find that, so far from the blessing coming in, they have cut off their Messiah. He has nothing, and the consequence is that the city and sanctuary are not blessed, but on the contrary, “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary,” &c. There will be nothing but wars and desolations upon the Jewish people. The interruption of the seventy weeks takes place after the death of Christ, and the next events related are no accomplishment of that series at all. None can deny that a long period elapsed between the death of Christ and the taking of Jerusalem. Until Christ are sixty-nine weeks, and then events occur which the prophecy clearly reveals, but as clearly reveals that they are after the sixty-nine weeks, and before the seventieth. We have another people belonging to a prince, quite different from the already rejected Messiah, and this people come and destroy the city and the sanctuary. It was the Romans who came, spite of the dreadful expedient of Caiaphas nay, because of it. They came and destroyed the city and the sanctuary. But thus it was the accomplishment of this very prophecy. The Messiah was cut off, and the Romans, whom they had so desired to propitiate, swept them away from off the face of the earth, and there has been nothing but misery in that spot up to the present time. Jerusalem was thenceforward to be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. There is a period still going on. Since then Jerusalem has only been changing one master for another. In our day we have seen a war undertaken about that very city and sanctuary, and none can say how soon there may be another. The objects of that war have been anything but gained and at rest. The same elements of strife and combustion still exist. It is an unsettled question. Like Jonah in the ship, such will Israel prove to the Gentiles by and by. There will be no rest for them—nothing but storms if they meddle with that people with whom the Lord has a controversy. The Jewish people are in a miserable state: they are suffering the consequences of their own sin. But those Gentiles will find their danger who meddle with that city and sanctuary, which God does destine yet to be cleansed. If we are not arrived at that period of blessing yet, it must be granted that the seventieth week is not yet accomplished. On the arrival of that week, full blessing comes in for Israel and Jerusalem. But no such blessing is realized; and therefore we may be quite sure that the last of the seventy weeks has not been fulfilled. The prophecy itself ought to prepare us for this. There is a regular chain up to the close of the sixty-ninth week, and then comes a great gap. The death of Christ broke the bond of connection between God and His people, and there was now no living link between them. They cut off their own Messiah and have since lost, for a time, their national place. A deluge of trouble broke upon them. “The king sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers and burned up their city.” The last part of this verse shows us the continuous desolation which has befallen their city and race, and this subsequent to the cross of the Messiah: and as none can pretend that anything like this occurred within the seven years subsequent to the crucifixion, a gap more or less extended must necessarily be allowed between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth weeks.
Mark the accuracy of Scripture. It is not said that the coming prince was to destroy the city and sanctuary, but that his people should. Messiah the Prince had already come and been cut off. Now we hear of another and future prince, a Roman prince: for all know that it was the Romans who came and took away both the place and nation of the Jews. It is simply said, “The people of the prince that shall come,” implying that the people should come before a certain prince who was yet in the future. This I bold to be very important. No doubt there was a prince that led the Roman people to the conquest of Jerusalem, but Titus Vespasianus is not the personage alluded to here. If the people came first and the prince here intended was to follow at some future epoch, nothing more simple. “The end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” There is a long period of enmity and desolation. This is exactly where Israel are now. They have been turned out of that city and sanctuary, and have never had it since. It is true they have made a remarkable footing for themselves in most countries of the earth; their influence extends into every court and cabinet of the world; but they have never obtained the smallest power in their own land and city—they are of all persons the most proscribed there. Here we have these desolations going on.
In verse 27 comes the closing scene. “And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week.” The margin gives it correctly. It is not “the” covenant.
The little “the” has misled many. It is “a,” or rather the idea is general. It means “to confirm covenant.” If you read it “the covenant” the reader is at once apt to infer that “the prince” means the Messiah, and that He was to confirm His covenant. But the passage runs, “He shall confirm covenant (or a covenant) with the many for one week.” No doubt the Messiah brought in the blood of the new covenant; but is that meant here? It supposes the desolations going on all this while, after which comes the end of the age, which includes, or occurs in, the seventieth week. The death of the Messiah took place long ago; the destruction of Jerusalem thirty or forty years after. After that a long period followed of desolations and wars in connection with Jerusalem. After all these we have a covenant spoken of, so that we must examine the passage to see who it is that makes this covenant. There are two persons mentioned. In verse 25 there is Messiah the Prince; but He has come and been cut off. In verse 26 there is “the people of the prince that shall come.” It is to this future Roman prince that verse 27 alludes. He it is that shall confirm covenant with many, or rather with “the many;” i.e., the mass or majority. The remnant will not have any part in it. Observe that now it is for the first time that the seventieth week comes forward. “And he shall confirm covenant with the mass for one week.” Now I ask, on the supposition that Christ was meant, what sense is there here? One week can mean nothing but a period of seven years. Was the new covenant ever made for seven years? There is no sense in such a thought. Is it not quite plain that the idea of interpreting this to be the covenant of Christ carries absurdity upon the face of it? For Christ's is an everlasting covenant—this is only made for seven years. When and how did Christ make a covenant for seven years? “And he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” I am aware that persons apply that to the death of Christ. But we have had Christ's death long ago—before the seventy weeks began; and all the desolations of Israel coming in after that; and subsequently another prince coming, who confirms a covenant for one week. He, not Christ, makes it with them for seven years. But in the midst of the term he puts an end to their worship. They have got sacrifice and oblation again at this time, and he causes it to cease.
But have we not other light upon this passage? Is it only here that we read of such a covenant, and of the sudden termination of Jewish rites and ceremonies by a certain foreign prince? As to the covenant, if we refer to Isa. 28., it is said in ver. 15, “Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us.” And in verse 18, “And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.” I have no question that this is the covenant referred to here. And the meaning of it is confirmed by another thing: that is to say, that in consequence of this Roman prince having made a wicked covenant with the Jewish people, and then interrupted their sacrifices and brought in idolatry—or what is called in scripture, “the abomination of desolation” —he will stop the Jewish ritual and set up an idol, and himself to be worshipped there. When open idolatry is in connection with the sanctuary, God sends a dreadful scourge upon them. They had hoped to escape it by making a covenant with this prince: they fondly thought, as it is said in Isaiah, to be thus delivered from the overflowing scourge. The latter is the one that becomes the great head of the eastern powers of the world arrayed against the western. The mass of the Jews will make a covenant with the great prince of the west, who will then be nominally their friend. And when the half of the time is expired, this very person will introduce idolatry, and force it upon them. Then will come the final catastrophe of Israel. The stopping of the Jewish ceremonies does not depend upon this scripture only. In Dan. 7. the little horn is the emperor of the west, or “the prince that shall come.” Of him it is said that “he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times, and the dividing of times.” Mark the analogy between that statement and what we have here. What is meant by “a time and times, and the dividing of time?” Three and a half years, to be sure. And what is meant by a half a week? Exactly the same period. In the midst of the term for which the covenant was made with Israel, he will stop their worship, and will take all their Jewish ceremonials into his own hands. Nor will he allow them to keep their feasts. “They shall be given into his hands” —that is, the Jewish times and laws. God will not own Jewish worship then; and therefore He will not preserve them in it. He will let this man have his own way; who, although he has made a covenant with Israel as a friend, will break it and substitute idolatry. Then will come the overflowing scourge. “In the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” But I am obliged to refer to another and more correct representation of the words that follow. The English translators were very doubtful of its true meaning. There are different ways of taking it, but the literal version is this: “And for (or, on account of) the wing of abominations, a desolator.” That is, because of his taking idols under his protection, there shall be a desolator, namely, the overflowing scourge, or the Assyrian. “The prince that shall come” does not desolate Jerusalem. At this time he has made a covenant with them; and although he breaks his covenant, still, being their head and patron, and having his minion, the false prophet, who will have his seat there as the great arch-priest of that day, he will carry on, with the aid of this false prophet, the worship of his image in the temple of God. In consequence of this, the king of the north shall come down as a desolator. There will thus be two enemies at that time for the righteous Jews. The desolator, or the Assyrian, is the enemy from without. The enemy from within is the Antichrist, or their willful king, that corrupts them in connection with the Roman prince. So that the true meaning of this is: “Because of the protection of abominations, [there shall be] a desolator, even until the consummation, and that determined, shall be poured upon the desolate.” Jerusalem is meant by “the desolate.” And the whole consummation, or what God has decreed against them, must take its course. “That generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled.” These will be the last representatives of the Christ rejecting portion of Israel. God will allow all His judgments to come down upon them. They will be swept away, and then will remain the holy seed, the godly remnant, whom God will constitute the great nucleus of blessing to the whole world under the reign of the Lord Jesus.

Discipline: 10. Gideon

In order to understand and appreciate Gideon's history and line of service, we must survey the condition of God's people when he was called out to be a witness and a servant among them.
Israel had been under the oppressive rule of Midian for seven years. For a perfect period they were ruled over by their enemies, because they had rebelled against the rule of God, and are thus taught in the land of blessing and privilege the contrast between the rule of God and that of man. We are always ruled by some one or some thing; and, if not by God, by that power which is inimical to God and his people; and to this power we are often brought into subjection, in order that we may learn how much better is the sway of God where our passions are controlled, than that under which our very nature is worn out and harassed. This is a discipline to which all the people of God are liable, and of which the Church has had bitter experience; for instead of enjoying her privileges and blessings, she has brought herself under the power of the world, to be harassed and disquieted, searching here and there in the dens of the mountains and the caves and strongholds, how to enjoy a momentary respite from the grinding oppression which has judicially been inflicted, because of her rejection of the Lordship of Christ.
The servant and the witness must always be equal to the state of things on which he is to act. He must have suffered with the people from the circumstances of trial; he must have known the depths of misery to winch they have been reduced; he must know what he is to emerge from, and reach unto, or he cannot witness or serve the people according to their need. He must have endured himself, and know the sorrow of the judgment, or he could not appreciate the deliverance which he is appointed to conduct. Paul was the most bigoted Pharisee, and of all. men knew most of the evil effect of their prejudices. Hence he was able, when taught of God, most effectually and accurately to expose and confute them. In nature he had gone into the depths of prejudices, that in grace he might leave none of them uncorrected or undisclosed; for the very evil our own nature has led us into, the Lord will use to make His servants skillful in denouncing and repudiating it. “When thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Gideon was thus prepared; not, as yet, by a knowledge of his own evil nature, but by a practical identification, in the circumstances in which the people of Israel were plunged through their own failure. He suffered with them, and no doubt had joined in their cry to the Lord on account of the Midianites. But before he, as the deliverer, is introduced on the scene, the Lord answers that cry by exposing to the people (by the mouth of a prophet) how they had departed from Him. (Judg. 6:8-10.) The first great dealing of the Lord with the soul is to show it its dereliction and failure. The word of God pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Its great action is to reveal to the soul its condition, and in the former dispensation the prophets acted the part which the word does now. By them the secrets of hearts were made known and convicted. So when the Lord has disclosed to the woman of Samaria her moral condition, she immediately pronounced Him a prophet.
Here, then, we find the people prepared for approaching deliverance by the conviction of their consciences; and this being done, the angel of the Lord immediately opens communications with the appointed deliverer, whose fitness for the work is evidenced by the position and occupation in which he is found. Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.” This was characteristic of the man. The iron had entered into his soul, but his strength had not failed him in the day of adversity, and real strength is that which is equal to the demand for it, and the emergency tests an otherwise dormant ability. Gideon's energy eats equal to the emergency; he was strengthening the things that remain that were ready to die, and while evincing his faithfulness in that which is least, the angel of the Lord, after silently watching him, reveals Himself and addresses him thus, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” A strange address apparently to a poor thresher of wheat! But the Lord estimates not as man; He knows the vessel which He can use, and what it is able to perform, as the apostle says, “He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” He designates Gideon “a mighty man of valor,” because He appreciated the efforts which Gideon used to maintain the residue of blessing's; and while thus employed, calls him to enter on a higher mission and a greater service.
Gideon was evidently a man who had pondered over the ways of the Lord, for his reply is, “Oh, my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why is all this befallen us, and where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us out of Egypt, but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites?” In this rejoinder we see that he not only knew how the Lord had dealt with Israel. in time past, but also the judicial position in which they now were. He saw God alone on either side. Consequently the angel “looked upon him,” or was turned towards him, and commissioned him to “go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites; have not I sent thee!” The servant of God must know and believe that God is the power winch alone can set up or pull down; it is the foundation-stone in the soul for any deliverance. “Twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God.”
Gideon knew this; but there is a great difference between owning all power as belonging to God, and seeing it acting on our behalf; and often the consequence of the former conviction is to make us feel our own powerlessness the more; which, unless we can rest on God's acting for and through us, will produce despondency. Gideon cannot see how the link can be established between God and man, so that man can be made the administrator of God's power and will, and pleads his own insignificance and insufficiency. And the Lord, in order to establish this link in his soul, gives a promise: “Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.”
Great as was this promise, Gideon could not yet appropriate it; however wonderful and suited, he could not embrace it, until he feels in his own soul the link between himself and God, and is assured of his own acceptance, and therefore he exclaims, “If now I have found grace in thy sight, show me a sign that thou talkest with me.” And then having brought his offering and set it forth according to the angel's directions, as we read in verses 18-22, the Lord accepts the offering, causes it to be consumed by miracle and disappears from Gideon's sight, thus giving him an unquestionable proof not only of His own presence and power, but of His servant's acceptance with Him. he had sought a sign to enable his soul to trust in the promised succor of God; in a word, in order that he ought to depend on Him in the great service appointed to him. For as a fallen man estranged from God, he could see no ground for dependence, and the acceptance of the sign is almost too much for him. The Lord's manifestation of Himself convinces Gideon of His nearness to him which naturally must be death to him, and of which he has the sense; so that he exclaims, “Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.” The word of the Lord now calms and settles his soul. “Peace be unto thee, thou shalt not die;” and thereon Gideon builds an altar, which denotes the relation in which he now stands with God, and which is the groundwork of his soul before he enters on his service. The altar or place of access is Jehovah-Shalom.
Thus is Gideon prepared for the work unto which he had been called, and it is profitable for every servant, in moral power to ascertain how far he has been prepared in like manner for service. I have dwelt thus minutely on the preparation, because, if the soul has not found an assured acceptance and rest with God, it cannot be free, because unembarrassed by its own interests, to engage in the interests of the service unto which it is called.
Many attempt to serve the Lord, hoping thereby to acquire rest and peace for their own souls. Consequently they continue, and value the service, according as it contributes the desired relief; for it is true that every true soul, acting for God, must establish the sense of relationship with Him; but when. this is the object, the service is diverted from its true aim, and the proper spring of it is lost. Service must be undertaken by one happy in God, and therefore happy to be a fellow-worker with Him; and it must be pursued and executed quite independently of its effects on myself, and entirely with respect to the will of God. Again, others do not attempt to serve, because they allege they have no ability, and their minds when engaged in divine things are invariably engaged about themselves. They either do not know where to find rest and peace, or having found it, they do not believe in it; that is, they do not walk in the power of it—that power which faith confers.
Gideon having learned to worship God at Jehovah Shalom, (for the name of the altar indicates the worship,) he is directed as to his line of action “the same night.” Mark, blessing is never deferred when we are ready for it. Night is not the time for action; and man might say, “To-morrow thou shalt have it;” but with God the very moment we are ready for it, that moment we receive it. As with Isaac, as soon as ever he had reached Beersheba, the true place of separation, the Lord appeared to him “that same night;” or as with Jacob, when he went on his way from Padanaram, “the angels of God met him.” The moment we get on God's line, that moment we find ourselves in the light and strength of God. “In the same night” Gideon is directed to be a witness of the grace he had learned, and after this manner:— “Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it.” His own home is the first circle in which the true servant will testify the great realities of his heart and service, and the power and distinctness with which this is done defines and prefigures his future course and ability. The Lord Jesus opened the divine record of His mission in “Nazareth, where he was brought up.” Barnabas brought Saul from Tarsus. So here now, Gideon in a bold, determined manner is to declare to his father's house, and through it to all his city, the light which had dawned in his soul, at once demanding from him, and empowering him to bear the testimony. The false worship in his father's house he was utterly to abrogate and abolish.
Gideon obeys; but he does it by night, fearing to do it by day. Here is an inroad of nature. His faith was as yet not such as to enable him to testify openly and boldly; but what his faith did enable him to do, that he did.
Even where the word of God is received and obeyed, there is often a deficiency in the testimony. Many a true soul is not prepared to testify as openly as he might. It is better when obedience and testimony go together; but though the flesh may hinder testimony, it cannot prevent, obedience, if there be faith. Paul was both a minister and a witness. It is the highest privilege for a servant, not only to obey, or minister, but to be able to testify of his identity with the ministry. If flesh works—if our own nature is allowed a voice—our testimony is compromised; we have lost our self-possession, and the personal control which is necessary for a witness. But faith insists on obedience; even in secret. In our patience we must possess our souls. Practically, our hearts and minds must be kept in peace, or we cannot, without loss of testimony, perform the very acts of faith. The emotions of the flesh are no excuse for not obeying what we have faith to do. We may submit, on account of them, to lose the higher place of testimony, but nothing must hinder obedience to God's word. Moreover, if we are faithful, without affection, our acts will declare themselves, and thus testimony will follow, though it did not accompany them. Thus was it with Gideon. And, on the outset, he learns the hostility of his own people to faithfulness for the truth. But how little the world knows that its evil opposition always evokes from God's witness an amount of power more than sufficient to suppress it! The cry of the populace for the execution of Gideon is met by the challenge of Joash to let Baal plead for himself, if he be a god; and Gideon is surnamed Jerubbabel, in consequence of this challenge.
How graciously and wisely the Lord was preparing His servant for the work in His counsel assigned to him! And how identical are his dealings with ourselves! His purpose is to assure the soul that, as surely as Christ hath triumphed over every power of evil, so surely may we conclude that every expression or manifestation of evil is properly only a guarantee to us that there is a power at hand for us more than superior to it. And, furthermore, the greater the amount of the evil opposition, the more marked and manifest will be the power which will overcome and silence it. We should comfort ourselves in every circumstance of life, that “when the enemy cometh in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord raiseth up a standard against him” —a branch of truth most important to the faithful servant in times of difficulty, and, therefore, implanted by the divine hand in the soul of Gideon, and now to be declared when all the Midianites and the children of the east were gathered together, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, and Eliezer was gathered unto him.” He had already passed through the two great experiences of soul which qualified and prepared him for his work—the first his own relation to God established at the altar, Jehovah-Shalom; and the other in his faithfulness to the truth of God, in the utter annihilation of all false worship. Thus qualified, he enters his public service. But here again, although he has gathered by divine energy the men of Abiezer, Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali around him, and prepares for acting in sight of the foe, he has to learn that, unless he be assured of God's support, he cannot proceed.
How vacillating and humbling is the secret history of the soul, so graciously detailed for us with reference to this faithful servant; though, outwardly, naught can be discerned but boldness and energy, as is true often with ourselves! And well it is for us that we have to do with a God as gracious and considerate of our weakness as had Gideon. By peculiar signs and intimatious the gracious Lord confirms His servant's mind in the verity of those promises which he ought to have rested in at once, in mercy giving and repeating every proof or evidence required. It is a very different thing to seek for a sign to establish belief in God, and to seek for one to confirm us in the rightness of the path on which we have entered, and of God's support in it. The former the Lord will not grant or allow.” There shall no sign be given you,” He says to the Jews, when they asked for a sign as a ground of belief. The divine path must be begun and entered on in faith, and without signs; bat the Lord continually vouchsafes evidences to confirm the soul that is in the right path, and that it will succeed therein. The soul, when really depending on God, and entering on any signal work, seeks not to be conscious of its own ability, but of God’s—God's, if I may so say, in the abstract, i.e., that it has to do with One whose power, and ability to apply that power, is equal to any demand. This is the discipline which establishes the soul, and fully places it in the line appointed. In different ways it is granted to every servant; but the sense communicated to the soul is this—that God's power is versatile according to the requirement of it, and able and ready to interrupt any established order of things to manifest His will. This, I repeat is learned in many ways—sometimes practically, sometimes didactically. It may be learned by a soul realizing the wonders of prophecy. One walking in faith, and following out in spirit the great actions there foretold, roust be impressed with the majesty and disposability of the power of God; and when thus impressed and confirmed, as by a light shining in a dark place, it will be prepared to confront the hostilities in the path. Or it may be learned in a humbler way, and through the weakness of our faith, as, no doubt, it was with Gideon. Flaws in our faith become more apparent as the strain on us is greater. And how many break down in their course, because they have not learned the universality and ready applicability of God's power.
Gideon finds what we shall all find—that God is gracious enough to instruct him in this point, in any way that he may suggest, or which will establish it most clearly to his own satisfaction. Whether it be dew on the fleece only, and dry on all the earth beside, or dry on the fleece only, and dew on all the earth, God vouchsafes it, and Gideon is confirmed.
Thus ready, “he rose up early, and all the people that were with him, and pitched beside the well of Harod.” Here the Lord interposes, in order to declare the work as His own. Israel must have no room to vaunt against God, and say, “Mine own hand hath saved me.” Consequently Gideon must proclaim in the ears of the people, “Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead.” It must have been a trial to Gideon's faith to see 22,000 of the people retire from his standard: but this is ever the demand where there is faith. If he have believed, he must not be confounded because he sees the means, which he had expected to secure the desired end, almost entirely melt away, But Gideon is now strong in God, and through God's gracious dealing and education, and he is not discouraged; nor need he be, for it is better for a man of faith to be in company with a few faithful, than with many who are weak and wavering. But though less than a third of the original number remained, even that number the Lord pronounces “too many;” and He orders that the whole remaining company be put to the test, in order to sift it, and prove who was really fit to war and testify for Himself. This test is a simple and unimportant one to man's eye, but searching in its spiritual application. Like all the arrows in the divine bow, which by one cast made sure aim, and effect what all man's efforts and discernment could not, it discerned the thoughts and intents of the heart. It proved whether they were wholly set on the one object—the one mission; or whether they could be distracted from it for a moment in order to take natural refreshment. This was the meaning of the test of the water. And what a result! 9070 were found not whole-hearted: they went on their knees to drink. Though doubtless most anxious for success, that purpose and anxiety did not entirely overrule the desire for personal refreshment. And 300 only are found so single-hearted, that they will but take what is necessary to sustain them, and hurry on! Alas! if such a test were put to us, how few of us would be numbered in Gideon's band! Many of us might rank with the 32,000 who set out with him, or even the 10,000 who have stood the first sifting; but how few have that abnegation of nature which would enable us, regardless of personal need and refreshment, to hurry on, and fight the good fight of faith. It may be but taking a little more of nature than what is necessary for us. There was but a little difference in those who lapped and those who went on their knees to drink. And surely water was a necessary refreshment for thirsty warriors. But the manner of taking it laid bare the condition of the heart; and it teaches us this great lesson, that unless we make the Lord and the Lord's glory our sole object and aim, He cannot use us as deliverers, though He may graciously allow us to share in, and benefit by, the deliverance which He has wrought by more faithful hearts.
To Gideon also, as well as his followers, must this sifting have been a test of faith, for the decrease of numbers must have cast him still more in dependence on God; and many would be confounded by such searching education: but the untaught one is never equal to the trials of warfare. “The same night,” (for now that the company is prepared, there must be no delay,) the Lord tells him, “Get thee down into the host,” &c., but with peculiar graciousness and willingness to meet and invigorate any wavering in Gideon's faith, he adds, “If thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah, thy servant, and thou shalt hear what they say,” &c. How manifold are the ways of the Lord on behalf of His servants! In the enemy's camp the interpretation of a dream announces Gideon's success, and he hears how they already reckon on their own overthrow. And, surely, with ourselves these evidences of coming confusion in our daily foes might often be gathered if we would but hearken to them. If we did, we should perceive that these intimations are afforded us not without an object, and that object is to encourage us in a bolder perseverance. Gideon was greatly encouraged by this. The God of the dew was again brought nigh to him, and he worshipped, and returned in full assurance of victory ere the conflict had begun. The details of that conflict (or rather conquest, for it was a pursuit rather than a fight) I need not dwell on, except to say, that it. was truly strength made perfect in weakness. Lamps within the pitchers—treasures in earthen vessels, and trumpets to announce that their cause was the Lord's—were the only weapons of the little band until the enemy's swords were all turned against themselves. Gideon's success was complete, and he was proved a ready instrument in God's hand to effect deliverance for His people. But what varied discipline he required before he was so! How little does one know of the antagonism of our nature to the will of God, who thinks that service can be undertaken without that self renunciation, which can only be learned by experimental knowledge of the superiority of God's ways and counsels! We never surrender what we value until we find a better; and man is so full of himself and his own will, that until he finds the superiority of God's, and this, through slow, painful and varied processes, he can be neither an obedient nor a suitable servant; i.e., one who carries out the mind and intentions of his Master. Jonah was taught obedience in the whale's belly, because he learned there to be reliant on God solely: but the gourd taught him the mind and nature of God. The true and disciplined servant always finds a way to do his work, however difficult it may appear. The greater the difficulties, the greater must be the evidence that our resources are of a different order and character from those arrayed against us, and this will be found true in very small matters as well as great ones.
The Midianites being overcome, Gideon was to meet with another difficulty and one of a different order; i.e., to encounter the opposition of those who rank as his friends, an order of opposition which it requires more wisdom to surmount than even that of acknowledged foes. The manner in which he deals with the two classes of his contending brethren is instructive to us to notice. With the men of Ephraim, (chap. viii.,) who chide him for not calling them to the battle, he takes the lower place—that of grace, the true, wise and godly position to hold towards those who seek to be conspicuous. Gideon might have replied that himself and the 300 were specially called and chosen of God; but he does not, and leaves the Ephraimites to the satisfaction of that measure of honor which God had put upon them. But towards the men of Succoth and Penuel, who refused to supply bread to the “faint yet pursuing,” he acts very differently. They must receive no quarter. Their conduct in refusing sustenance to the 300, when contending with the enemy, was antagonistic to the cause of God and taking the part of traitors to His name and glory. The principle is the same in both dispensations. There are cases which we must meet and deal with in grace; but we are, on the other hand, earnestly to contend for the faith. “I would, (says the apostle) they were even cut off who trouble you.” “If any man bring not this doctrine, (i.e., of Christ,) receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.”
In chap. viii. 22, once more and for the last time, Gideon is presented to us in a new and peculiar line of discipline. Great services often engender self satisfaction and desire for an exaltation which the unspiritual are too ready to accord to us. The multitude solicit Gideon to rule over them, but he replies, “will not rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.” How could he take the place of that God who had so blessed and honored him.” So far he spoke in the wisdom of the Spirit, but his request for the errings of his prey evinces a covert desire to commemorate his services, though he had refused the place of power and dignity. What could such a desire produce but a snare, whether in the form of an ephod or anything else? And such it was to Gideon and to his house.
What a lesson and warning for us to see a servant of God after such protracted teaching and forming for the work, in a moment as it were, lose himself; and after attaining so high and distinguished a place through service, sink from human gaze behind a cloud; It teaches us that, though we may refuse a public place of exaltation, still we may not be proof against the most subtle and more dangerous snare of supposing that the memorials of our service can in any way contribute to the worship of God; for this is using service as a medium for self-exaltation, which thing must “become a snare to us and to our house.”

Discipline: 11. Samson

Samson was the last of the judges; the last of that dynasty, as we say, during which the Lord was proving Israel as to their ability to trust in Him for government without the intervention of any established order.
They had continually failed, and in consequence had become tributaries to those who ought to have been tributary to them. There is no neutral place for the people of God. They must either be above the world, testifying against it for God's glory, or they must be servants to it. If Israel be not sustained by God above the nations, they are led away captive by the nations: they can never exist as equals; they must be either masters or slaves. Slavery was their chastening for not retaining their rights, as masters, which could only be done by having the Lord on their side. When they departed from the Lord, they were weaker than the nations. A Christian is always weaker than the world, if he be out of communion, simply because he has lost his strength, that strength which his conscience approves of; and therefore he is easily baffled by that of the world, which assails him with all its reckless violence.
Judges were raised up by the Lord to deliver the people from their enemies, when they felt their sin in departing from Him, according as he required them to feel it.
The people of Israel, at the time of the birth of Samson, had been under the hand of the Philistines for forty years, the longest term of captivity which they endured during the time of the Judges. To deliver them from this protracted captivity, Samson is raised up; and because it was the last and the severest during this eventful period, (this period of testing the national faith and conscience, as to how far God's people would accept the government of God, as Lord and King, without the intervention of any one, whose power could be only derivative like the nations around,) it is necessary to introduce to us (as the word here does) not only the manner of the birth of the deliverer, but the mind and expectations of his parents previous to his birth.
Samson must be a “Nazarite to God from the womb.” In order to be the deliverer of the people of God from the unholy subjugation in which they are involved, he must be entirely separate from all enjoyments among them. His mother is taught this, and trains him in accordance thereto. Our early training. has a peculiar and continuous effect on us in after life, i.e., the associations which surround us. Samson was a Nazarite, but he grew up in intimacy and acquaintance with the Philistines; consequently, he never seems to be aware of the great moral contrast which should exist between a Nazarite and a Philistine. Much of this sort of ignorance or non-perception we see among Christians in our own day. There is an admission for individual Nazariteship, while there is habitual intercourse and association with the world.
Thus Samson's first act recorded is an attempt to establish a union where there could be no union. His father and mother cannot understand how, nor that this proposition “was of the Lord,” that he sought an occasion against the Philistine.
Mark! it was not the union that was of the Lord, but the intended antagonism to the Philistines—not the means, but the end. Union there could have been none. On the contrary, in any attempted union where the elements are positively antagonistic, the revulsion and intrinsic differences are the more manifestly evinced. The means Samson proposed was no divine way for the neutralization of evil forces; but the intention was divine while the means were manifestly human; and consequently the marriage never takes place; while the intention and divine desire is perfectly declared and answered. It is a great thing to start with a right intention; for if it be of God, sooner or later it must be accomplished, though necessarily at the expense of all that self which we have mixed up with it.
Moses desired to deliver his people from Egypt, but when he first attempted to ratify it, he trusted to resources of his own, and he failed, though eventually he gloriously succeeded, through the help of God. In like manner Peter was ready to die for the Lord, which he did eventually; but how much humbling and cowardice had he to pass through before he reached the realization of his desire!
The Lord teaches in such a way, and after such a manner, that the human element is eliminated and ills own power fully vindicated in us. This truth is beautifully exemplified in the page of Samson's history, which we are about to consider. “Samson went down to Timnath and came to the vineyards of Timnath, and behold a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand.” Here the Lord teaches him that it is not by an unholy alliance with evil, but by downright opposition to it that he must overcome; and to this at length he practically comes in the long run.
The truth which grows out of this lesson (a “riddle” to the world) breaks up the union and sends Samson forth in open and violent hostility against the Philistines. Let us consider this discipline a little more minutely. Samson, as we have seen, starts with a right intention; but, in consequence of natural association with the Philistines, from which he judicially suffered, he attempts to marry a daughter of these uncircumcised people; but just as he reaches the place where he is to consummate his plan, a young lion roars against him. And God in this way appears to teach him that God's Spirit can enable him to overcome the direct foe, without any intervention, for he had “nothing in his hand,” much more without any human plan of unsanctified union. Unaided, Samson confronts this terrible foe and succeeds so completely, that through God he “rent him as he would have rent a kid.” What a moment that was! A moment when the soul is in the balance—in the struggle for life or death! How necessary for the heart to be educated in the power of the life-giving God in the dark valley of death to know His power in delivering us from the jaws of the lion! Such a scene and such education ought to have been to Samson a vision of the character and nature of his mission, as the vision of Damascus was to Paul all his life long; fir he was to be a minister and a witness of the things which he had seen. The nature of our first acquaintance with God properly indicates the line He desires to sustain us in, in our course down here; therefore it is well worthy of consideration.
But Samson was slow to learn; and untaught by this marvelous instruction, he pursues his own plan, enters into a contract, and in due time returns for the purpose of ratifying it. But in doing so, he must re-pass the spot where he had known such signal deliverance, and which was to yield still further instruction for him, if he would but give heed to it. Turning aside to contemplate his conquered foe, he finds honey in the carcass of the lion and shares it with his parents who knew not from whence it came. This gives rise to the riddle which Samson knew, but could not apply to his own circumstances. Alas! how often is this the case with us, and how much sorrow and willfulness do we entail on ourselves because we do not receive it in faith, so as to grasp it in its entire adaptability to ourselves; for it is evident that we never adopt any truth we know practically, unless we are convinced of its suitability to our own circumstances; nor, I believe, does the Lord intend us to use it until we are thus convinced. And this explains why we are so often permitted to persist in our own plans, after we have learned truth which, if properly applied, would supersede dim altogether by casting us more consciously and distinctly on God. The secret of our strength with God must ever be a riddle to nature, for it is in a state of hostility to the new nature, as much as the Philistine was to Israel, or to Samson, as representative of that people.
Samson propounding his riddle, showed that there was a great interval and uncongeniality of mind between the Philistine and himself, and his intended wife is in the same moral distance. A union attempted under such circumstances must issue, as it does here, in the cause of the Philistine being preferred to her acknowledged lord. Her devotion to him dissolves before the fear of her own people, who threaten her with ruin unless she betrays him. Had she but clung to him as she ought to have done in true devotion, he would inevitably have saved her from the catastrophe she dreaded; but failing to do this, she betrays and compromises the one she ought to have suffered for. A sad and true picture of Christendom, and with a moral voice to each of us! Samson is betrayed by the one whom he most trusted, and where he naturally expected least treachery; but the Lord turns it into blessing, and the projected union is broken off. He must relinquish it in order to pay the penalty to which he had subjected himself by revealing his secret to the Philistine. Thus the conflict with the lion in the way had at last worked out what God had purposed it should, with regard to Samson, who had been so slow to learn it, when he ought to have done so. The riddle of the eater producing meat—i.e., the truth revealed to Samson through that conflict—was the eventual cause of his unholy alliance being broken off, while the divine intention which he had thereby proposed to himself was ratified, the rupture of the union becoming an occasion for its exercise. The Philistines now use the knowledge they have acquired through Samson's betrayal of God's secret, in contravention to all that is sacred between man and man. And their violent injustice authorizes him, as invested with the Spirit of the Lord, to render a righteous recompense to them. Before grace came, righteousness was God's rule of action for His people toward man in general; though He Himself was ever in grace toward any soul that owned His righteousness in blood-shedding. But the Philistines were no subjects for grace; and he wreaks on them a double vengeance. First, he goes down to Ashkelon, slays thirty of them, takes the spoil, and gives the promised change of garments to those who had expounded the riddle. And afterward, in consequence of their unjust disposal of his wife, he lets loose three hundred foxes with firebrands in their tails, and burns up all the standing corn, the vineyards, and the olives. The first of these exploits unfolds gracious discipline on God's part to Samson. His mistakes are mercifully counteracted, and true service vouchsafed to him. The debt, which the Philistines had made him liable to by unrighteous means, is paid by retribution on themselves. So should it be now with the servant of Christ. If Christendom has unrighteously acquired his divine secret, and asserts a claim on him therefrom, he should avenge, in true, spiritual, uncompromising conflict, all false acquisitions in position or doctrine which the worldly mind seeks to make use of in a carnal sense. I feel that this is very peculiar and mysterious discipline. The servant finds himself in association with Christendom outwardly, but in possession of God's truth and power, which, to the natural man, is a riddle, but sought by him for carnal purposes, and used as a claim on those who possess the reality. But by means of this very truth, the true servant not only discharges his debt to his oppressors, but works a way of deliverance out of them, and involves them in signal confusion.
The second exploit, occasioned by Samson's wife being given to his friend, excites the Philistines to greater violence, and they wreak their vengeance, not on Samson, but on the one who had betrayed him and her father's house, which they burn with fire—the very fate which she had so feared, and the threat of which had caused her to act unfaithfully to Samson; teaching us that whatever we seek to escape from, through unbelief and unrighteousness, is sure to be our eventual doom. We may escape from it for a moment, but our escape is, after all, the sure road to it. This act, however, increases Samson's right of vengeance, and we read, he “smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter; and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.”
Samson had now, after varied exercises and trying services, risen to such eminence as a determined foe to the Philistines, that they muster their forces and demand his life. When the servant of God will give no quarter to the world, and they can in nowise circumvent him, then their open hostility will burst forth. The same spirit that in all its malignity cried against the Lord, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” now in the Philistines seeks the life of Samson: and Judah, that tribe from which Shiloh should come, manifests toward him the same feebleness of godly principle which afterward characterized them when they delivered the Lord Jesus to Pilate. Three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, “Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us, and what is this thou hast done unto us?” “And they said unto him, we are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines.” What a trying moment to Samson I His purposes and acts so little appreciated by his own people on whose behalf he had fought. How similar (only in untold moral distance) to Him of whom it is said, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not!” What peculiar sorrow must the true servant endure from those he is serving in the most earnest and perfect manner! To be disowned and condemned as useless after having wrought the most distinguished service, is a bitter trial; but Samson is equal to it. And still further, in the power of the strength and the gentleness of God, he will not touch his own people, however ungracious to him, and therefore he engages them solemnly that they will not fall upon him themselves. Notwithstanding this, they bind him and bring him down from the rock. And the Philistines shouted against him, and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and he took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
Now, mark! Samson had been delivered from both association with, and subjection to, the Philistines, and had retreated to the rock Etam in Judah, as at once Israel's deliverer, and the Philistines' terror; but Judah is unbelieving, and delivers him over to the enemy. This leads to the manifestation of Samson's power, and his right or title to judge Israel, which is noted in the last verse of this chapter. He has now reached the position which he was appointed to fill, and which the Spirit in him was leading him through many exercises to occupy. We must not omit to notice the conclusion of the above manifestation and victory. After he had, by means of a jawbone, laid heaps upon heaps, and sung in ecstasy of soul after his work, he threw away the jawbone, and then his own personal wants afflict him. “He was sore athirst.” Great services for others will not supply the soul's necessities, which can only be supplied from the Lord. However brilliant our services, our own souls will famish unless directly sustained by the Lord, for mere service never sustains. On the contrary, the fresher the service, the more shall we be conscious of our own necessity and dependence on God for personal support. No great deliverance vouchsafed will supply one drop of relief to the weary soul. From God alone must that come. And thus, in answer to Samson's cry, God relieves him, and he calls the name of the place En-hakkore, “the well of him that called.” He commemorates, not his service, but his dependence on God; and established now in this dependence, as well as practical ability, it is recorded that Samson judged Israel twenty years.
We may now pause in the narrative to review this early stage of Samson's history in the double light which it appears to me to bear. We have said that his projected union with a Philistine was an unholy alliance, and that God had to discipline him, in order to teach him its unsuitability; and we have traced the discipline. This is true regarding him as a Israelite and a Nazarite; but I think the action also bears another aspect, which appears in the words “they knew not that it was of the Lord,” that is, that it was almost a necessary consequence of the judicial position to which he was born liable, even that of subjection to, and association with, the uncircumcised. Though a Nazarite, and a separate man, he was, on account of the condition of the nation, exposed to this corrupt association, and was responsible for it; and while, on the one hand, he is taught to deliver himself therefrom, on the other, he is allowed to propose a union which was an admission of the liability entailed on him, but which he personally had no manner of part in creating. This union was not allowed to be consummated, because in itself unholy; but the proposition answers the double purpose in the instruction of God, on the one hand, being an admission of the consequences of the nation's sin, and on the other, an opportunity for Samson, through God's power and training, to extricate himself therefrom, and to become the deliverer of His people. In the same sense, a man is born into the world liable to the penalty of Adam's sin before he has committed any act of sin. So in Israel. So in the church. A unit of each, in entering into membership, was necessarily liable to all the forfeitures and penalties as well as the privileges attaching thereto, and he cannot assume the privileges without discharging the liabilities which are the real impediments to the enjoyment of the privileges. Cain is an example of this, assuming by a meat offering the position of a man acceptable to God, before he had answered to the penalties due to him because of sin. So in the church. We must own its ruin before we can assume its privileges and dignities. But the man of strength must not he under these consequences without an effort to retrieve his position and extricate himself, his kindred, and his people. He repudiates nothing to which he is justly liable, but neither does he increase the embarrassments by contributing personally to the moral debts of his people. Consequently, Samson was a Nazarite from his birth, and for that very reason was the only one suited to undertake the place of liquidator and deliverer. In a word, while personally separate, he admitted the pernicious and judicial alliance between Israel and the Philistines, by proposing affinity with one of their nation. Incongruous it was, but so much is first allowed in order that Samson, the man of strength, might avow Israel's humiliated position, and no more is necessary or sanctioned in the counsels of God. A righteous ground is soon found for preventing the alliance and emancipating the people from the bondage of their oppressors. By fair conflict he reaches the rock Etam, and there established as deliverer of the people, he judges them twenty years.
This is the first point or epoch in Samson's history. The second is, how he again became mixed up with the Philistines on a lower level, and how he suffered for it. In the first, we have seen how he sought an alliance only for an occasion, and how wondrously he was helped, and raised up to be judge of the people; but now, seeking for association from mere natural desire, although his strength acts when he repents, yet he never afterward resumes his position at Etam, as judge of Israel; and this has a distinct voice to us. If we own the ruin of the Church, in order to set ourselves to the discharge of the liabilities thereby saddled on us, we shall be helped righteously to exonerate ourselves from them; but if we return to the association of “the great house,” for which we have felt irresponsible, and for which we have answered, we are sure to be involved therein, and however we may do individual acts of valor, yet we never again shall be able to resume the position of witness for God or deliverer of His people.
Samson went down to Gaza, (chap. xvi.) and saw there a harlot, and went in unto her. Here he renews his unholy association, and yet he is made aware of the Philistines' machinations against him, and is enabled, in a marvelous way, to defeat them, for “he arose at midnight, and took the doors and gate of the city, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of the hill which is before Hebron.” Surely this was a warning to Samson, though with a marked deliverance. How often does the soul recover from the first step backwards in a very remarkable manner, with great evidence of strength, though it be only a midnight; this is, there may not be so much testimony as manifest power and a glorious deliverance. Paul's going to Jerusalem, is an example of such a retrograde step; and at midnight, too, escorted by Roman soldiers, he outwits and escapes his enemies. Blessed indeed when such discipline leads the soul (as it did with Paul) to avoid such association again! But Samson refused to learn; and we next read, “he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, and her name was Delilah.” This introduces us to the most pitiable and humiliating incident in the life of any of God's servants. No amount of treachery on the part of Delilah (who is the world in type—a combination of allurement and malice) can awaken Samson to the real character of her to whom he has allied himself. Where must have been his sensibilities when he could keep up the closest intimacy with one who plied his confidence in order to work his ruin? At first he does not confide in her, and while he retains his reserve and keeps his divine secret, he is safe; however humbling his position as a mighty man, to be in the hands of a false woman. Truly, when we thus see how the strongest may be deceived, and so far that the most palpable proofs will not disabuse their minds of the fearful spell, we may say, “let no man glory in his strength.” Great is the mercy of our God, who, even in a downward course, guards us to the furthest possible point. Samson is always victorious until he communicates the secret of his strength—the mark of his Nazariteship and separation to God; but the moment he betrays this he has relinquished the source of his strength, he has lost his mark as God's servant—one that it was not for uncircumcised ears to know of. If he loses this, this owning of God demonstratively, there is no outward evidence of any distinction between him and other men. As long as this mark remained, God succored and honored him. Often do we find that God supports his servant who retains the mark of separation. Even though he, in the spirit of his mind, engrossed by natural attractions, may have very grievously departed from Him; but when the mark is relinquished, He can succor no longer. There is but a small step between the allurements of the world and its deadly wrong. And so was it with Samson. Yielding first to allurement, he next surrenders the mark of separation, and is finally delivered into the hands of the Philistines, and his eyes put out. What a picture of every servant of God who pursues a like course, and thus becomes a “withered branch,” and a prey to the ungodly world! What bitter, painful discipline Samson must now undergo! Bound in fetters of brass, he “grinds in the prison house” —the effects of his own self will, and surrender of his true place of dignity. In the prison his hair begins to grow again; the mark of separation is renewed, but his eyes are gone! Morally, the sight is never restored, when the light once given is lost. A solemn truth for us! The mark is restored and strength is active, but only in death is its power seen.
Even as practically by the death of Christ, all foes of every shade were overcome, so the death-scene alone remains as a place of testimony for a strong servant who has taken the high place of Nazariteship like Samson, but who has sunk with eyes open, as we may say, into the unholy association which he, once in the zenith of his history, so much opposed and renounced. Samson died with the wicked, but in the last fearful struggle that terrible judgment laid on man because of sin—Samson glorified God, for he “slew more in his death than in his life.” A true epitome this of every soul which has learned the power of Christ's death; for the one who conquers therein overcomes every foe, even him who has the power of death, to the praise and glory of God; and teaches us that death alone can deliver the strongest man from the place of temptation and failure.
Such is the end of Samson. A man unequaled in strength and most valiant in using it: an end, humbling indeed to the flesh, but glorifying to God as vindicating His unerring wisdom and discipline with His servants. May we all learn to walk more separate; to preserve our Nazariteship, if we would be witnesses for our Lord, and preserved from the oppression of the world! And may we learn from Samson's history, on the one hand, how easily we are led to surrender it when we once fall into moral declension and association with the world; and, on the other, how, though our testimony may be marred, we may yet glorify God in the calmness and assurance by which we rise above every tie here, and plainly avow, “to depart and be with Christ is far better!” Amen.

Discipline: 12. Ruth

To trace the history by which a woman is fitted to fill a place of testimony for God on earth must be a study both interesting and important to us, and one specially needed in these days, whether as applied to the individual or the church.
Woman was first formed to be a “help suited to man.” (Βοηθον,. LXX.) At the fall she seems to have forfeited this high position, and after it, to be regarded more in the place of subjection and inferiority than of equality and help. Grace is the great manifestation of God's love, and the principle of grace is, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” When failure and weakness have most appeared, there the grace of God acting and declares the more exalted restoration. But this exalted restoration is never without a sense of the failure and weakness which it triumphs over; and our blessed Lord God, in leading a soul into the blessings of His grace, must necessarily educate it in the righteousness of His actings, as well as in the goodness of them. According as we learn the Lord Jesus Christ do we in perfection and conscience comprehend both, and the means and stages of this acquirement detail to us the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He leads us to see, step by step, how we need His grace, and He prepares us for it by that peculiar self-renunciation which will make room for His gift. Flesh and spirit cannot dwell together. God in His discipline teaches us the flesh which hinders-teaches us what it is, and treats it so that it may be suppressed; and on its suppression we find that which thus presses it, in order to supplant it, is no less than the energy of the life of Christ.
How gracious of the Lord, then, to instruct us as He does, by presenting to us in His word examples of the principles of the discipline which adapts us, according to His own purpose, for service and glory!
This is what we find in Ruth, and herein consists the interest of her history, in which we learn how God led and enabled a woman, who was a member of the most despised family—a Moabite, to fill the most honored position in the legal tribe of Israel; nay, to concentrate in herself the blessings of Rachel and of Leah. We cannot too carefully note the manner and spirit by which this fine result was attained.
Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons had emigrated from Bethlehem-Judah into the land of Moab, because of the famine in their own land. It was an evidence of decline and judicial suffering when a man of Israel had to desert his own country, because it lacked those natural blessings which were granted to the land of a Gentile; and the necessary consequence of this decline and association is, that Elimelech's two sons took them wives of the women of Moab. A son of the promised seed, by marrying a woman of Moab, raised her from her low moral position, though, in doing so, he concluded his own, i. e., he comprised it by his sojourn in the land of Moab. So that Ruth, who was one of these wives, was raised by her marriage from her low national position into one of the tribes of Israel; and on the death of her husband, she, a widow with only a widowed mother-in-law, must either, like Orpah, fall back into her former low estate, or she must seek to maintain that position to which she had been raised. This could only be done by holding fast her link with Israel, and that even at personal cost; in other words, by cleaving to Naomi, though all natural expectation in connection with her is gone. This latter is Ruth's course, not intelligently, indeed, as to the positional gain such adherence would bring to her, but animated with the still finer motive of personal devotion to the one through whom she had been already raised so far from her low estate. How she acted and succeeded in this course is detailed to us in this interesting book, and is recorded with great minuteness, as a subject of deep importance to ourselves; for, whether we regard Ruth as a type of the church, or of any Gentile believer, or of a believing woman in particular, her history supplies a link in God's dealings which is very instructive to us.
The first characteristic of either must be simple devotion to know truth; and this characteristic is finely developed in Ruth. She sacrifices all hope of natural alteration of her widowhood, for the sake of adhering to Naomi, come what will, for she says, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest I will go, and whither thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” What an utterance is this! That of one steadfastly devoted to one object. What an expression of a soul firmly resolved to abide by all the truth of God, the link with all His purposes and blessings! Even as the first great part of the armor of God (Eph. 6) is to be “girt about with truth;” so the first great requisite of a servant of Christ, above all when in the unobtrusive sphere of a woman, be it intelligently or unintelligently, is to be simply and unequivocally devoted to the truth of God.
Naomi, as we have seen, was the link to Israel. Ruth may not have known much about it, but that only makes her devotion the more admirable, for had she known more, she must have had more reason and incentive for it, instead of the pure affection and appreciation with which she was thus animated.
When the soul lays hold of truth, even though it knows not why, with that inflexible tenacity which will buy it and sell it not, we may rest assured the communication will be enlarged, and “to him that hath shall more be given.” Devotion to a true object ennobles the woman and suits her. If she has it not, she is destitute of the first quality of her condition; when she fails in it, and thinks of herself as Eve did towards Adam, or the church towards Christ, then every disorder will ensue; and strength in a wrong line is more damaging that weakness. Devotion to truth, to what is known by us as the really true and good, is the first great characteristic of a soul prepared and qualified for service and testimony. If we have not this quality, how imperfect must be all our movements and expression, for we can have no definite center! To be God's witness among men who have believed a lie of Him and have walked in it, glorifying themselves while they walked in hostility to Him, we must, first and foremost, be valiant for the truth. If we be deficient in this quality, it is evident our ability for testimony is deficient; nay, more: in attempting to be a witness, we are compromising the very name we assume to serve. We have not a heart thoroughly set on maintaining the first requisite of service. We may have a certain amount of affection, like that expressed by Orpah's kiss, but, like her, our affection rests not on that which is alone true, and we shall soon turn aside to our own ways. We cannot too earnestly press on our souls the importance of this simple devotion to truth. Affection will not stand unless it be based on appreciation, or something known to be estimable; and therefore a faithful soul not only loves the Lord, but so appreciates Him that it must adhere inflexibly to Him, as identified with Him, and nothing else will satisfy a truly devoted soul. What is true of Him can on no account be relinquished, and anything false is abhorrently shrunk from. I dwell on this point because so much of the character of a true servant of the church, and a woman in particular, depends on the place and strength which it holds in the soul. Ruth, we see, was simple and unwavering in her purpose of heart, and she presents to us an imposing type of this essential and ennobling quality, which we shall find meets its full reward.
But before we trace this reward, we may note another characteristic prominently presented, and fully exemplified, in Ruth's history, and that is, simple obedience, in the most servile and inconspicuous toil.
She enters the land of Israel, inseparable from the once Naomi (pleasant) now reduced to Mara (bitter); but resigned to her circumstances, nay, content in them, she addresses herself to the smallest opening which is presented to her, which is always an evidence of a healthy and vigorous soul, and without hesitation or demur embraces it. She says, “Let me now go to the field and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace.”
It is the most unequivocal proof of the energy of soul when, in any strait, we are not only resigned, but ready to embrace any little opening offered to us, able to humble ourselves thereto, and testify to every one, even to our own souls, that God has not forgotten us, and that what is directly before us is quite sufficient to meet our necessities. We only require to be humbled to find it so. If we were to say or feel otherwise, we should impugn His care and interest on our behalf. Ruth sees that there is no opening for her but in gleaning, and to gleaning she addresses herself; and this was the Lord's opening for her. Very humble, inconspicuous labor, no doubt, but He sees not as man seeth, and He led her by the right way; for “the meek shall He teach His way,” and therefore “her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.” “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” When we are docile we are led to fullness of blessing. Unless we embrace the humble opening presented to us, we shall never reach the domain of satisfaction. Ruth was the humble, laborious servant, and as such, she receives her reward for her devotedness to Naomi. Mark! it is for her devotion she is rewarded, more than for her service. Boaz said to her, “It hath fully been shown me all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law since the death of thy husband, and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore: the Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”
Boaz blessed her—a blessing which he afterward (like all blessers) shared in himself—and he also commanded his young men, saying, “Let her glean among the sheaves, and reproach her not; and let fall some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.” Thus we see Ruth receives more on account of her devotion to Naomi, than she obtains by her honest and continual toil; and this is always the case morally. However great the recompense for faithful service, that of devotion, when superadded to it, immeasurably exceeds it. The fruit is only commensurate to the actual labor expended, unless the labor has sprung from a true devotion. Had Ruth gone to the field to glean as did the other handmaidens, she would have obtained her due, what her labor merited, but no more. But it was far otherwise with her: devotedness to one object was the spring of all her action, and the result was to her, as we shall find it to ourselves when animated with a like spirit the ingathering is swollen with ample acknowledgments. And not only so, the devoted one is led on step by step until she attains full rest, honor, and, finally, relationship with what should be the consummation of all her rewards and blessings. The sequel of her history shows us this. She ultimately becomes the wife of Boaz, the true kinsman, who redeems the inheritance; and according to the blessing pronounced on her, she builds up the royal house of David, even as Rachel and Leah built up the house of Israel. The poor Moabitess is brought into close proximity to the throne of Judah, and she makes the name of her kinsman-redeemer “famous” in Bethlehem-Ephratah, the place of death and resurrection! A wondrous result this from so humble a beginning: but one in full moral order and keeping with God's ways, discipline, and training.
And now that we have reached this result in Ruth's history, let us pause, for our soul's profit, to mark the discipline by which the Lord led her, (in fact, that by which He leads every soul who attains the same end,) to this place of rest and honor; for well it is for us to note how He empties before He fills—how He humbles before He exalts. First, she is a widow. Deprived of all human hope in that life which was most honorable to her, and which her alliance with a son of Israel had elevated her to. She next surrenders country, kindred, and the natural expectations which she might have had, by falling back on her former low estate as a Moabitess, for the company of one linked with her condition of widowhood, but who had been reduced from pleasantness to bitterness, and this association entailing on her constant, humble, unremitting toil. Refusing or despising no opening, however humble, she pursues her lowly, toilsome, unobtrusive course from day to day, and daily finds how gracious and merciful the Lord is to her; so much so that it fills her with wonder and amazement, for on the first day of it, she says to Boaz, falling on her face, and bowing herself to the ground, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger.” The soul is little prepared for God's unexpected mercies; yet what were those to what followed? What was her former condition previous to widowhood, in comparison to that so full of honor and dignity in which the Lord now places her! Blessed widowhood, to have prepared her for such a place! Blessed process, which led her on to it in the paths of single-eyed devotedness and humility! Blessed God, to have thus dealt with her!
It will be remembered that Ruth came to Bethlehem in the beginning of the barley harvest, which commenced immediately after the feast of the Passover, and continues her services during the seven weeks of harvest, (a perfect period according to the symbolical numeration of Scripture,) to the end of the wheat harvest, i.e., unto Pentecost; and after Pentecost it is that Boaz claims her as his own. I mention this as significant, whether we regard Ruth as typifying the Church in a practical or in a positional aspect; for Pentecost typified that full fruition of blessing which the Church realized when, after the seven weeks which elapsed between the Lord's death and Acts 2, that great day of Pentecost, to which all other days had pointed, “had fully come,” and which installed her in the place of privilege and bride-ship to the true Boaz. On the other hand, though the Church be now in the blessings of Pentecost, yet if she walks not in faithfulness to the truth committed to her, and in patient dutiful service, she cannot realize the high privileges conferred on her, the reason of which is very simple. If I am not true to the Lord, as far as I know, I am not led by His Spirit; and if I am not walking in the Spirit, I cannot by any possibility realize the privileges of nearness and bride-ship into which the Holy Ghost is commissioned to lead us. Again, what is true of the Church as a whole is true of every individual member. The woman is here given in type, because, as a unit, she ought to represent the Church, the Bride of the Second Adam, as redeemed from the ruin and shame into which the first woman plunged her. But, whether man or woman, if we walk not in devotion to the truth, and in patient, humble, inconspicuous service as strangers, and non-expectants on the earth, we cannot enter into the relationship and place of rest which our Boaz vouchsafes to each of his faithful Ruths even in spirit now. And the more we comprehend His ways with us, the better shall we understand how He is teaching each of us after this manner: teaching us, as faithful to our light, to walk therein, to the full fruition of His love; as widows in this world, devoted to Him, and serving patiently and obscurely, but satisfied if we realize what is already ours even here—even our union with Him in all that His love can share with us.
May we learn, O Lord, to follow thee!

Discipline: 6. Moses — Part 1

MOSES being in a special sense the type of Him who is the servant of all, we should be prepared to find in his history the most peculiar discipline, in order to suppress his nature, and. make room for the expression of that grace and service, which was exemplified in perfection in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Born at the period when Pharaoh's interdict against the male children of Israel is raging, no exception is made in favor of him: he enters on the earth to find that earthly place is denied him. There was no room for the Lord of glory in the inn, and Egypt's king enacts that his type, Moses., should die the moment he is born! By faith only his parents rescued him. “They saw he was a goodly child, and were not afraid of the king's commandment.” They knew by the deep and peculiar conviction which the Holy Ghost effects, that God was to be trusted for this child. Faith in God thus bears him into life. How must he in riper years have derived strength from this godly acting of his parents and have been indebted to them for this their first training him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord! The commencement of our course gives a color to the whole of it; and the earliest tuition we receive in the divine school gives a mold and a tone to our characters, which after years can never obliterate. Moses' first breath on earth was secured to him only through the faith of his parents. He was hid three months. Sorely must their faith have been exercised during these ninety days, but they endured; and then, in the ark of bulrushes, they consign him to the waters. All place on earth being denied him, the older he grew, the more difficult it became to screen him from the ruthless edict.
When we act in faith, and have endured sufficiently so as to establish our souls in the assurance that it is faith, then the Spirit which gives us the faith gives us also wisdom how to act. In this wisdom the parents of Moses now act. Faith is no hindrance to the affections; but it loves to sustain those affections, which, acting alone, would be too anxious and distracted; it supports the heart in quiet, unfailing persistence of the conviction and purpose which it inculcates.
From his perilous position in the ark of bulrushes, Moses, the weeping babe, is taken by no less a person than the daughter of him who would have been its destroyer, but not before the impression of the coldness and desolation of this world had been made upon his tender spirit. We read, “the babe wept.” Thus, in earliest age, before the mind could be intelligently impressed, is he made to taste of that sorrow and pressure to which he must be no stranger throughout his course. The mind of the babe could not recall it, but the soul, nevertheless, consciously entered on that line in which it was afterward to be so exercised, and his tears were no doubt the firstfruits of a sorrow with which, in after life, he was so deeply conversant. But the answer to this is the Lord's tender care and consideration for him; and this we see exemplified in the most touching and interesting way. Not only is the daughter of his enemy made the instrument of his deliverance, but he is consigned to the care of his own mother and then installed in Pharaoh's house in ease and honor. The desolation of the world and the unfailing compassions of God are the first lessons of discipline traced on his unconscious mind, and which are never to be erased; for God teaches early, decidedly, and enduringly.
The interval which intervenes between this first notice and the next, when Moses is “full forty years,” is briefly but significantly summed up as the time during which he was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in word and in deed. He was introduced into all the attractions of Egypt, that in relinquishing them, he might have sympathy with any extent of surrender which the people of God might be called to. Many might have much to surrender, but not so much as he had and did. If the people felt it hard to relinquish the leeks and the onions, how much more should Moses, who had moved in all the luxuries and honors of Pharaoh's court! In God's discipline and education he was being prepared for the leadership he was to be invested with by and by. The great magnitude of his own surrender qualified him to ask others to follow him; the renunciation of all Egypt's attractions entitled him to take the lead out of Egypt; for if he “chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin,” he did so, after having participated in their greatest magnificence. And more than this—by this education, he was made conversant with everything that was delectable in nature, and had experiences of what nature could yield, in a way which none of the previous characters which we have been considering could have known. Neither Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or even Joseph, had such a training as this, and justly so, for none of them was intended for such a mission as Moses; and God's education and discipline with His people is always suitable and preparative to its peculiar end. Solomon tested the vanity of everything on earth; the Lord Jesus at once felt it in His own moral perfection; Moses is surrounded by it to mature age, and then refuses it.
And now it comes into his heart to visit his brethren. A right impulse moves him in a right direction; but we are not always morally prepared for the expression of our impulses, even though they be right ones. Our humanity being the vessel through which they must be expressed, it is often unequal to the trials which the impulse may expose us to. But, if the impulse be right, we may rest assured that the vessel will be prepared for its expression, sooner or later. It may he postponed, and necessarily so, while the vessel is preparing; but this being done, the right and true desire will be owned and gratified.
When Peter first proposed to the Lord to follow Him (John 13.), the Lord warned him that he could not do so then; and, on the contrary, that he would deny Him. But when Peter was fully restored, and had his soul strengthened in the love of Christ, the Lord lets him know that he is to follow Him; and that the desire which he once so fearlessly and ignorantly avowed, he should yet distinctly substantiate. Thus with Moses here. He has got the right idea and desire, but he has not learned from God the right way of sustaining and establishing it. He knows not the trials which beset his path; and, consequently he has no provision to meet them when they occur. His attempt only proves how insufficient are his resources for the work he had entered on; and he has at last to abandon it, and relinquish that on which his heart was set: the inevitable consequence of attempting to carry out a right purpose in our own resources. I think a servant of God is generally acting in his own resources when he engages opponents on a level with himself; he thus aims at the tail instead of the head. Moses now directs his vengeance against an Egyptian, but when he returns in the power of the Lord, it is leveled against Pharaoh; even as Christ, who, in accomplishing eternal deliverance for us, first encountered Satan.
Moses fails, as he might he expected; and not only so, but his own life is in jeopardy, and for very personal safety he must fly. “Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well.” What an accumulation of distressful feelings must have oppressed this zealous servant of God! What anguish to a faithful heart to be thus baffled in its sincere attempts to serve his brethren! May not all his sacrifices and surrender of the glories of Egypt have appeared to him now as useless to others and unprofitable to himself as he sat there, a wanderer and exile, like a blighted, fruitless tree in the desert. But if such were Moses' thoughts, they were not God's. The mission was not forfeited, but only postponed. The vessel was not yet “meet for the Master's rise.” Nature was not sufficiently purged from it. On the other hand, God's time to deliver His people had not come; neither were the people themselves prepared for the deliverance. But one subject is Moses himself; and he, as God's instrument and servant for the work, need forty years' more preparation ere he can be thus used. And already, sitting by the well in the land of Midian, is he under that discipline which will form for the great service designed for him in the counsel of God.
(To be continued.)

Discipline: 7. Moses — Part 2

FORTY years of exiledom are appointed for Moses; but whether those years should be one uninterrupted season of sorrow and gloom, or whether they should be mitigated by sources of solace and cheer, depends on the manner in which the disciplined one receives the discipline.
Will he bow himself and accept the will of the Lord? Will he prove himself hem a deliverer of the distressed, in principle and heart, as well as for his own people? If he will, he accepts God's discipline; and, therefore, his lot may be less trying and oppressive. The moment subjection is established discipline becomes effective, and may be relaxed. Though not removed, the scene may be brightened. And thus was it with Moses. He acts the part of a deliverer to the women at the well, who were driven away by the shepherds. Although he has been denied to declare himself as such in a large circle, he does not refuse it in a very insignificant one; he does not brood in listless sorrow over his own reverses, like the fool eating his own flesh, but he submits to his circumstances, and rises above his own feelings, in his interest to serve others. Until I am superior to a trial I must be under it; and, while under it, not free to serve with whole-heartedness, or cheerfulness of spirit, which latter is always the mainspring of service. Nothing proves more the divinity of our mission than ease and readiness to accord it in the most retired and unknown quarters, as well as the most attractive and congenial. And when we fully surrender ourselves to the position the Lord has ordered for us, serving Him therein, He makes the desert land (the place of discipline), to brighten up, and provides rest and solace in that on which we entered in sorrow and desolation of heart.
At first Moses' service to those Midianitish women meets no requital, even as Joseph's to the chief butler; but it must not remain so. Reuel, their father, sends for him in virtue of his service to his daughters, provides a home for him, and gives him his daughter Zipporah to wife: and we read, “she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershon; for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.”
This name reveals to us the secret sorrow of Moses. Though provided with a home, he still felt himself a stranger in a strange land; therefore, his son, who linked him to the scene, must bear a name which will perpetuate before him his exiled condition, which no present mercies could exclude. They could not obliterate the deep and earnest purpose of his soul, to deliver his people. Nor SHOULD they; for, as we have said before, the purpose was right, yea, divine; but the vessel was denied its expression until further preparation. Paul does not adequately express what he receives and exults in for more than fourteen years afterward; and thus, in prison at Rome, he was peculiarly prepared and fitted for doing so.
For forty years, then, does Moses fulfill his daily toil, perfecting subjection to the will of God. Useful and exemplary in the common duties of life, the qualifications which he demonstrated as a servant were a sure indication of those of a master, for which he was being educated; for none can rule well who have not learned to serve. His occupation was evidently a toilsome one—seeking pasturage for the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro.
In the natural routine of it, he leads the flock to the back-side of the desert, and comes to the mountain of God, even to Horeb, little thinking, no doubt, that the days of his exile were about to close. The moment had come when God could use him, according to the desire which had induced him so many years previously to attempt the deliverance of his brethren from the yoke of Egypt; and now we have to consider the closing scene of that long period of preparation, which the Lord in His wisdom saw fit to order for His servant, and which He is now about to insure by the revelation of Himself. “The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” Moses' attention is arrested. Though occupied with his natural duties, they did not incapacitate him from recognizing the manifestations of the Lord. Nor need they ever. On the contrary, if rightly entered on, they guarantee assiduity to higher duties. The shepherds, watching their flocks by night, are the witnesses, chosen of God, for recording the greatest manifestation ever made to earth. It is one of the greatest proofs of subjection to God, to fulfill our daily toil patiently and perfectly; and yet to have the eye ever ready to observe the ways of God; which I apprehend is the force of that exhortation connected with prayer— “Watching thereunto with all perseverance,” &c. And this is the effect of a single eye, one that has the Lord's glory simply and wholly as its object.
“And Moses said, I will turn aside to see this great sight; and when the Lord saw that he turned,” when it was evident that he desired to know the meaning of the Divine doings, “God called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” The revelation of the Lord here is in grace; in a flame of fire, but consuming nothing; the glory of God coming near to man, and man finding nothing but mercy and loving kindness flowing from it. And yet, it was holy ground; and only unshod worshippers could draw near to it. It was, moreover, an expression of God drawing near to man, and not of man drawing near to God. It was to unfold, that from God's side there was nothing to perpetuate the distance and alienation which existed between man and God. And this was a great and precious and needed lesson for Moses. He must, in his own experience, learn God in His love for His people; and also, how man can be brought nigh to Him.
Thus the Lord presents Himself in a flame of fire in a bush, and reveals His tender feelings and interest for Israel. How grateful must such communications have been to Moses. After the long and dreary interval in winch it seemed that God had forgotten His people, he is instructed of the infinite love and interest with which He had regarded them all through, and of His gracious purpose of delivering them. And now, Moses is conscious of his own inability for such a service. He sees that it is not his own feelings that he is to act on and to gratify, but Jehovah's; the One who, though before him in a flame of fire, will consume nothing; and the immensity of whose eternal love and mercy must have contrasted strongly with the impulsive and erring impetuosity with which be demonstrated his own, forty years before. He is now deeply sensible of his incompetency, and says, “Who am I to go before Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God will reassure, instruct, and prepare him; and we read in the following verses how this is done. He first communicates His intention and purpose to His servant. This must reassure him; not only in the proof of confidence which it evinces; but the soul, entering into the mind of God, is more ready and eager to undertake when the process and issue are before it. But more than this (for the teaching of God is perfect), Moses is taught to feel in himself the power of God; and this is grace and life. The link must be established between his own soul and God before he can fully enter into that between the people and God; and this soul-assuring lesson he is taught in three different ways. First, He is made to feel his possession of power, superior to that before which his nature would succumb. His rod having turned into a serpent (the symbolical form of Satan), Moses flees from it; but the Lord causes him to grasp it, and it again becomes the rod of power in his hand. Secondly, He learns that if his hand be leprous God can present it sound again; and, thirdly, he is instructed that the water of the river (the great source of blessing) if poured on the dry land by him should become blood; showing that God had the power of life. In all these three points he is taught in order that he might be qualified for the mission entrusted to him, and also feel himself equal to it. Moses still demurs. Though strengthened in soul he is deficient in utterance; but God is gracious and considerate in preparing his servants for the work in small things as well as great. He will relieve whatever embarrasses them. Aaron is provided as a mouthpiece, and all being arranged, “he took his wife and his sons and set them upon an ass and returned to the land of Egypt, with the rod of God in his hand.” How different from the manner in which he had left it, and how indicative is the contrast of what those 40 years of discipline must have wrought in and for him. Instead of an ignominious flight, fearing for his own life, the result of previous self-confidence and acting FOR God and independently of God, he now comes, small and weak in his own eyes, but invested with the power of God, in the calm easy dignity of one who feels that his only strength is in dependence on the Lord whose work he is about to enter on.
But ere this is entered on fully, there is one more question which must be settled between the Lord and Moses. And this gives us a remarkable instance of the exactitude of God's discipline. Either compromising to the habits of the Midianites, or despairing of ever again associating with his own nation, Moses had neglected to circumcise his son; and now, without repairing his error, which was a great one (considering his wife was a Gentile), he proceeds to enter on the Lord's service as if it were a matter of indifference. But, no; he must learn that nothing will be overlooked in one appointed to so high a post. His responsibilities must be equal to his calling. The Lord seeks to kill him: so inflexible is His holiness, and so strict is He in demanding obedience to His laws from one who fills the post of a servant, more than in any other. His wife repairs the inconsistency, but she does so reproachfully, and returns into her own country, while Moses pursues his way in company with Aaron.
What a finishing lesson this was just on the very scene of his long wished-for service. What an impression it must have made upon his soul, as the long desired morning, with all its interests, was breaking in upon him. No eminence in service, no amount of knowledge in the deepest things of God, will excuse his overlooking any of God's commandments. Nay, he must feel that, as to him much had been committed, of him much would be required. Implicit obedience to the word must mark the life and ways of the most eminent, and best instructed of servants. And with this, Moses' last lesson in this stage of his history, (one, moreover, which had been severely instilled into him), he passes on to the field of his labors. Emerging from the solitudes of Midian, he is to stand as God's witness before Pharaoh. Being prepared and made ready in a private school, as it were, he is now to demonstrate in a large and honorable sphere the result of his tuition. We shall here leave him for the present, as the varied activities of his service, fully considered, would lead us beyond the limits of this paper.
(To be continued.)

Discipline: 8. Moses — Part 3

WE shall now look at the varied exercises which Moses passes through in fulfilling his service. We have looked at those which qualified him for service; but the servant of God needs a continuance of discipline to keep him ever and anon in dependence on God. With Moses this new order of discipline commences very early, indeed, we may say immediately on his entrance into the path of service.
Accompanied by Aaron he presents himself to Pharaoh, and announces God's summons to let His people go; but not only does Pharaoh refuse to comply, but he increases the burdens of the people in consequence of the demand. Here, then, was a disheartening commencement to a servant in his novitiate, after making a just appeal, and conscious that his message was from God. All it seems to effect is an open disavowal of God's rights, and an augmentation of the people's sorrows. Nor was this all. The people themselves do not hesitate to reproach him, as the cause of their increased troubles; the more sad and severe to him, doubtless, were these upbraidings, because they came from the very people whom he desired to serve. What can he do in such a strait? He returns to the Lord, and in bitterness or spirit refers the difficulty and discouragement to Him, the consequence of which is, that another page of instruction is opened to him. This was a moment for that peculiar discipline in a servant's life which, when effective, enables him to pursue his service independent of results. The general tendency is to judge service efficient if the results are satisfactory, and vice versa; but the real servant must keep his eye only on his Master's word and leave the result to Him. Our Lord, when He felt that his word and works were in vain, so that He reproached the cities where most of His mighty works were done, turns to the Father and says, “Father, I thank Thee, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”
Moses must learn this self-same spirit, or his service will be characteristic of his own state, i.e., weak and unstable. A man without faith is double-minded, and a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
The Lord's instructions to him on this point are detailed in Ex. 6. He is there brought into an enlarged knowledge of God, as a preliminary to all further instructions. The more we know of God the easier is it to depend on Him. “Acquaint thyself with God and be at peace;” and the deeper our acquaintance with him, the greater is our calm and steady dependence on Him.
God, as Jehovah, the covenant God, here reveals Himself to Moses, a revelation not made to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, for none of them were called into the same line of service, or conflict with adverse powers. With them God had established his covenant to give Israel the land of Canaan, &c.; and this covenant He now brings forward in addition to the fresh revelation of Himself, in order to confirm the soul of Moses and enable him to bear up against casual reverses, assured that the result would be satisfactory, because it rested on God's word and covenant.
In a measure reassured, Moses presents himself to the children of Israel, but they hearken not to him for anguish of spirit and cruel bondage; and, still unequal to the service, he replies, when the Lord tells him to go again to Pharaoh, “Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me, and how shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips.” He had suffered so much from his own attempts to deliver in the energy of nature forty years before, that he is now more prone to despond, and the further he enters upon service the more does he find out its difficulties, and his own lack of qualifications for it. But the Lord will make His servant perfect and happy in His work; and accordingly He now gives Moses and Aaron a “CHARGE unto the people of Israel, and unto Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.” The CHARGE is the first thing to service. No certainty of character or purpose will do without it. “That which is committed unto thee,” (as Paul wrote to Timothy), is that which gives distinctiveness and point to our service. A man who knows not what his line of service is can never expect to fulfill it, or adequately to pursue it; but when he knows that he has received from the Lord a distinct charge or line of work, there is a sense of trust as well as the responsibility of trust. This charge is now given to Moses, verse 13, but still he feels his own insufficiency; and, mark! according as he is made to feel it, is he supplied from God with that which will counteract it.
First, He is made to rely on Jehovah, the covenant God, who had bound himself to bring this people unto the land of Canaan.
Second, a distinct charge is given to him, and if he believes that he is acting for Jehovah, he has now the prescribed result and effect of his mission, his appointed work marked out for him; and, Third, To silence every hesitation, and sense of unfitness, he is invested with power. The Lord says to him, “See, I have made thee a god unto Pharaoh;” and still more, he is commanded to repeat unto Pharaoh the miracle which had before re-assured his own soul at the burning bush—that of transforming his rod into a serpent. There, however, (i.e., at the burning bush,) he was made to take the serpent in his hand in order that his own individual faith might be established; here, the object is more to exhibit Moses before Pharaoh as invested with the power of God, so that this part of the miracle is not repeated.
This gracious instruction of the Lord perfects the discipline necessary for Moses' soul, in order to enter on his service so fully and fixedly that nothing can divert him from it, or make him doubt as to the result according to God; and after this he fulfills it with faithful and unflinching labor, strong in the power of God before Pharaoh, and without reproach from his brethren, until he reaches the grand result of this first stage of his service—viz., the deliverance of the people out of Egypt. From the time that his soul was thus really established in service until the night of the Passover, when he, with the people, marched out of the land of their captivity, was an interval highly honorable to Moses. But we don't dwell on it, as he was then acting uninterruptedly as God's instrument, the effect of the previous discipline which we have noticed, but no fresh phases of individual exercise are brought out.
Behold, then, the Israelites, having left Egypt with a high hand, encamped between Migdol and the sea; but what a testing there awaits them. What a crisis for Moses, at the moment of the successful issue of all his toil and anxiety! Success was all but attained when apparently insurmountable obstacles present themselves: Pharaoh and his host at one side, the sea with its raging waters on the other; and once more he is challenged by the unbelieving multitude for having brought them there to die because there were no graves in Egypt. But how calm and strong in faith is Moses at this critical moment. How different from the timorous notices we have had of him before! “Fear not,” says he, “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” This was what he himself had learned during his forty years of discipline. Nature was to “stand still,” and faith to wait for God's salvation. He first calms the people, and then cries unto God himself. This scene describes one of the most important exercises in which a faithful guide to God's people is schooled—viz., to maintain unswerving confidence in God's succor in moments of embarrassment, and at the same time to receive from God the power and mode by which this succor can be successfully directed. He does both; he calms the people and honors the Lord by expressing the fullest confidence in Him; and then, looking to Him to realize his faith, he is directed by Him as to how the succor is to be afforded. How fully and blessedly is this direction given. “Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward; but lift thou up thy rod and stretch out thine hand over the sea,” &c. What a strength and elevation this event must have afforded Moses; and how must such an extremity have taught him afresh the wisdom and magnitude of God's resources; and what a result! We read, “the people believed the Lord and his servant Moses.”
In chap. 15: 23-26, we see him passing through another exercise, and of a different order. Scarcely had the last echoes of the song of triumph died away, when the people murmur against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” The servant of God must be prepared for every shade of trial and disappointment. No matter what the amount of his services, he must expect no appreciation of them from the congregation, or at best be prepared to do without it, and look to the Lord alone. Moses must have felt this deeply, after the song of praise that had just passed their lips; but by such means and discipline the faithful servant is led into fellowship in spirit and in power, too, with man's best and greatest servant. He cries unto the Lord, and again is he instructed in the amplitude and perfection of God's resources for every variety of man's need. What a distinguished place, to be the medium through, which all these mercies flow! The exercise and the pressure may be very great for a moment. It may be Marah; sowing indeed with tears, but it is only “to reap with joy.” If the servant finds that there is not a moment in which he may rest from service on account of the need of the people of God, he is, on the other hand, made acquainted, in the deepest and truest way, with the resources of God; and is also made the channel of those resources himself. Thus was it with Moses here; he is told to cast the tree into the waters and they are made sweet.
In chap. 16 we are presented with another order of service which this well-tried servant learns and records. The trials of the people become a school to him for learning and attaining that service which was to meet their need, and while so doing his own soul was necessarily enlarged in the wisdom of which he was the minister. It is interesting and important for us to see, that for each need and trial Moses is taught a distinct and suited lesson, so that his own soul is growing in God while his service is affording the needed relief to the people.
In this chapter they felt the dearth of the wilderness so intensely (and this we must bear in mind was on the second month after leaving Egypt) that they murmured against Moses and against Aaron, and said, “Would to God that we had died in the land of Egypt where we did eat bread to the full.” Moses was the one who, under God, had led them into these circumstances; and must he not have felt how critical was the position? Yes, truly; for human help there was none. But so much the more must his soul have depended upon God, who thus exercised him, to cast him upon Himself and His own resources. And again the Lord communicates to him instruction suited to the occasion. “Behold I will rain down bread from heaven for you,” &c. This is the revelation to Moses. But the way in which he evangelizes it (if I may say so) is also recorded, and worthy of notice, in connection with our subject, as showing the nearness to God, and consequent searching and humbling of heart, which revelations of God's mercy effect. He desires the people to “come near” before the Lord who had heard their murmurings. He had known the effect in himself; and, as a wise master-builder, he would lead his brethren into the same, though it be by a different path. The glory of the Lord, and the resources of the Lord, had already instructed him; and now he seeks that the people may receive the same blessed instruction, though it be drawn forth by their discontent and murmurings. “And they looked toward the wilderness, and behold the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud,” &c. And they then hear His gracious provision for their need.
Let us note that a servant's discipline must always be in advance of the service required of him. He cannot lead beyond that point to which he himself has been led. But when the depth and reality of the truth has been established in his own soul, he is made the channel of it by various modes; sometimes by an unexpected revelation sometimes as an answer to his own prayer—sometimes, as we shall see in subsequent instances, by the manifestation of gift. Of the two latter we find a record in chap. 17.
At Rephidim he again suffers from the congregation, who are ready to stone him; but the Lord, even a very present help to him in time of trouble, invests him with peculiar power to effect relief for the rebellious people. Since he has been personally assailed, he must be personally honored—and by those, too, who had reproached and threatened him. The elders of Israel are called to see the water gush forth from the rock as Moses strikes it. Thus the Lord approves His servant before the heads of the people: and the servant's own soul is confirmed and enlarged in apprehension and appreciation of the power which God had given him for service.
At Rephidim, too, was it that the children of Israel first encountered mortal strife with any of the human family. Amalek comes against them. Moses is now placed in new and untried difficulties; and he determines that Joshua must encounter man, but he, in spirit, must be engaged with God. He will betake himself to the top of the hill, with the rod of God in his hand.
What a season of blessing to him, thus separated unto God—storing his heart and filling his soul with the assurances and evidences of God's might and mercy for His people. But at this very moment the sense of his own feebleness is made more convincing than ever. If he held up his hand, (an expression of dependence on God,) victory was secured to Israel; but if he let it fall, Amalek prevailed. A place of eminent service this, without doubt. But how humbling to Moses to know and to feel that he was too weak in nature to accomplish what the spirit of his mind so desired. His hands were heavy, and would have dropped but for the help and intervention of others. In the primary sense, we learn by this, as has often been before remarked, that the priesthood is necessary to sustain any service, however devoted; but in a secondary sense, and regarding the scene in its individual relation to Moses, we are taught that, when contending with man, the greater the eminence with regard to God, the more must our own insufficiency in nature be made to appear. No wonder Moses should have built an altar there, and called it, “Jehovah-nissi.” The conflict was with man—an unnatural contest. “Love not the world, because of offenses: and woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh.” But when it does come, there is no banner to shield against it but Jehovah. And at that stage of the soul's experience, Jehovah-nissi is its altar, or, in other words, the character of its worship.
The next incident recorded in Moses' history brings him before us in a lower point of view. He is influenced, and, in a measure, perverted by man. He had reached great eminence in service; he had just erected an altar in record of what God had been to him in his conflict with hostile man; but now he has to encounter the voice of nature, in the well-intentioned but pernicious advice of his father-in-law; and yielding to it, he morally sinks. In converse with Jethro, he seems to forget the lesson just taught him by the conflict with Amalek! and surrenders the service to which he was called, or part of it, without any counsel or even sanction from God. The assistance which he sought here from the heads of the people was of a very different order to that which he rightly accepted from Aaron and Hur in the conflict with Amalek. The latter was a help to himself personally; whereas the former was a transference of the duties imposed by the Lord on himself to others. Jethro had heard of all that the Lord had done for Moses and for Israel; and he comes to re-engage Moses with his wife and children, who it appears he had sent back. Jethro, I think, here morally represents the association amongst men which a servant of God may be enticed into by relationship; and who, while owning in common with him the work of the Lord, assumes an undue importance; for it was an assumption for an uncircumcised Gentile to arrogate to himself leadership of the people of God, by inducing Moses and Aaron and the elders of Israel to join in fellowship with him. When the soul gets into a clouded position before God, it is comparatively easy to divert it from its responsibilities on the plea of inability. Moses is here induced to consider himself unequal to what God did not consider him unequal for. And though the arrangement is permitted, it must have been with loss to him. He is now at the mount of God, experiencing the fulfillment of God's promises to him at the burning bush, after having traversed a strange and wondrous path. But here, now at the end of it, after all the Lord's dealings and communications to him, he appears before us as susceptible of the influence of nature, even as other men—proving how little, in any position, is man to be accounted of.
Now, however, on the Mount of God, Moses is to enter on a new office, and fulfill a different mission.
Up to this he had been a deliverer and a ruler; now, he is to be a lawgiver and a prophet—one who, as revealing the mind of God to the people, is thus, in a sense, a mediator between God and them. Moses, as a highly favored servant, must be instructed in this blessed line. God had met His people in their need and delivered them, but as yet, like many a delivered one, they do not apprehend the nature of God. The pressure of impending ruin had been removed, but they have yet to learn God, and how utterly ruined they are in His sight, and Moses, the instructed of God, is now to instruct them in this.
He is, therefore, called up into the mount, and brought into a nearness to the Lord, and given a revelation of Him different from what he had previously seen in the burning bush. There it was all grace. Though “holy ground,” the aspect of the Lord was one of grace and compassion; here, it is God's terrible majesty, the claims of a holy God on man, and how great must His distance be from a man. Both these lessons were necessary for Moses in order to fit him for the place assigned him towards the people of God; and it is always that manner of God's discipline to make His servants practically pass through and learn in a fuller and more vivid way that particular line of truth of which He designs them to be the channel. Stephen saw the Glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, before he made his announcement that heaven was open, and that he saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God—that is, he saw a greater and a fuller truth than he communicated; but the greater only qualified him the more for communicating the lesser, which last was the suited measure for his audience. So Moses, now in the mount, divinely instructed in the nature and mind of God, is thus qualified for revealing Him to the people. He sees Him in His righteousness making a demand on man on earth and still in the flesh.
Having pronounced the law, and in type and figure sprinkled the blood of purgation, he is called (Ex. 24) to receive not only the law, engraven on stones, but also a much fuller revelation of God's interest for His people; the provision of grace based on the Lord's foreknowledge of their inability to keep the law. In these interesting scenes it is not the subject of them which must engage us here, but the blessed way in which Moses is prepared and qualified for the fulfillment of the task entrusted to him. He is called up into the mount, on which the glory of God rested. Six days the cloud covered the mount, and on the seventh day God called unto Moses out of the midst of that glory which was like devouring fire in the eyes of the children of Israel; and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
A fit preparation, truly, for one who is to be commissioned to set forth on earth a pattern of the things which he saw. Thoroughly detached from earth, and enwrapped in the cloud which surrounded the glory of God, his soul was impressed with the wondrous subject and detail of his commission. Then it was that the Lord said unto him, “Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them, according to all that I show thee.” Thus we have an insight into God's manner of educating His servant for His own purposes; and let us here especially note two things; First, That Moses is near God while learning the truth, and knows in himself the effect of being near Him; and, second, he learns the truth consciously from God; he is not only near Him while learning it, but he knows that he has learned it from Himself. If we be not near God while we are learning our knowledge will be profitless; and if it be not from Him that we learn we may rejoice in the truth for a moment, but, like the disciples, it will require to be recalled to our remembrance by the Holy Ghost, which we know is very commonly the case.
But before Moses has entered on this new mission, the people of Israel have made an idolatrous calf, and he is summoned from his exalted position in the mount to witness the departure of the people from the covenant just made; and here he gives expression to sentiments which testify to us how deeply he had learned to care for the glory of God. (Ex. 32:11-13.) In this point of view, it is an utterance hardly equaled in the whole of Scripture; but the previous forty days and forty nights enabled him thus to appreciate it, and every step he takes in this trying moment declares how fully he had entered into the mind of God.
He breaks the tables of the covenant, for they had already been broken on man's side, and this is no time to publish them. Then he took the idol which they had made and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it on the water, and made the people drink of it. Their sin must not only be put away, but they must taste in themselves the reality of it. Then, he insists on separation from evil, and requires every one who is on the Lord's side to slay the recreants. In a day of universal failure, the witnesses of repentance and returning allegiance cannot too strongly enunciate their severance from their former associations, annihilating every trace of them, even unto death, and Moses, the well-prepared vessel, leads the way in this.
Thus having, so to speak, prepared them for God, as repentant and separate, he returns to God for them to make an atonement. The Lord refuses to go up with them, and desires them to strip themselves of their ornaments, that He may know what to do with them. In this moment of great suspense, while the people are waiting under the hand of God, Moses, learned in the holiness of the mind of God, knows what to do for the people, and how to restore relations.
He pitches the tabernacle afar off from the guilty camp, in order that every one who, humbled under a sense of sin, desires to seek the Lord, may seek Him there, apart from the defilement. This act met the mind of the Lord, and restored His presence to Israel; the cloudy pillar descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord speaks to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend, and not only promises that His presence shall go with him, but also accedes to his request that He will resume His place in the midst of Israel. How blessedly Moses is enlarged in the mind of God! Difficulties the most serious, are only unfolding to him the more the resources of God; but he only reaches those resources by first responding to the holiness of God.
At this conjuncture, he learns both God and man; the latter as unreliable and failing in every circumstance, and the Lord, as the resource of his heart and his portion forever. And hence, when God had acceded to all his desires, he breaks forth in the earnest entreaty, “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.” “I have seen enough of humanity to recoil from it. I have seen enough of the blessed God to desire to see Him in consummated glory.” This desire was partially answered here; but still more distinctly when, on the Mount of Transfiguration, he, with Elijah, talked with the Lord about his decease, for, and on account of, this very stiff-necked Israel, as well as for all the redeemed.
We have now followed Moses in his ascent to the highest point, which was ever accorded to man. To the Apostle Paul, a man in Christ, greater, and clearer, and peculiar glories were revealed, but “there arose not a prophet in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” Paul (though unconscious of being in the body) must needs have a thorn in the flesh, lest he should be puffed up. We need not, therefore, be surprised to find Moses ere long demonstrating that he is not able, through a sense of his own infirmity, to maintain the great position assigned him.
He who had seen so much of God's power, forgets and ignores it, when pressed by the evil and unbelief of the people, (Num. 11) and exclaims, “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.” Man cannot sustain the high position God calls him to, without notices now and then of his own weakness. If we have not the sentence of death in ourselves, we shall trust in ourselves. Had Moses, who had been in the glory, known this, he would not have looked to himself either in strength or weakness, but to “God who raiseth the dead.”
He is now humbled before the seventy elders of Israel, before who in he had previously been exalted. The spirit which was upon him is put upon them. We have seen that at the suggestion of his father-in-law he had before allowed this leaven to enter in a milder form, but now, as is ever the case when yielded to, it has worked to a fuller development. This is a time of humbling for Moses, but no less interesting to us than the time of his exaltation, as illustrating the nature of the divine school in which he is. His submission and acknowledgment of the hand of the Lord is very instructive, and his interest in the work nothing abated by being in a measure supplanted. He rebukes Joshua for envying for his sake. But though the Lord had thus dealt with the unbelief of His servant, He will not allow man to undervalue or slight him. The cause of reproach appeared just, for he had married an Ethiopian woman, and it appears that Aaron and Miriam were encouraged by the late humbling which Moses had undergone; but the Lord in a most signal and terrific manner avenges him and makes him the intercessor for the guilty parties. The Lord may rebuke him Himself, but man must not; and the way in which Moses bore these taunts evinces how deeply learned he was in God's interest for himself and how humbled in spirit. We have seen his righteous anger burst forth when the glory of God was at stake; but when personally assailed, he is silent.
Another instance of this we find in the case of Korah. (Num. 16.) Instead of vindicating himself and his office, Moses refers the decision to the Lord, who pronounces it by terrible judgment on the offenders, and then instructed in the mind of God, he knows what will stay the plague among the people, and he makes use of the priesthood here, as before in the case of the golden calf and the unbelief at Kadeshbarnea. He had himself mediated on their behalf before God.
We now come to the last scene which we shall notice in the history of Moses, and that is his forfeiture of his right to enter Canaan, because he failed to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people. This occurred in the thirty-ninth year of their wanderings, just as he was about to see the happy termination of all his labors and the fulfillment of God's promises. Moses seems here to have failed in those very points in which he has before appeared most eminent. He speaks “unadvisedly with his lips” and fails to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people, (that Lord whose glory was so dear to his heart,) and thus disqualifies himself from planting the people in the land of their inheritance, when on its very borders. When the congregation murmured for water, God tells him “to take the rod and gather the assembly together, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth his water.” But instead of this, Moses, carried away by his irritation, first upbraids the people, and says, “Must WE fetch you water out of this rock?” and then he lifts up his hand and smites the rock twice. The Lord was now acting in grace, and through the priesthood towards the people. The rock was not to be smitten again, Moses is not at this moment in fellowship with the mind and ways of the Lord—he has failed in his mission and he must forfeit his leadership. Such is the manner of God's discipline! No amount of faithful service will mitigate or divert the penalty of assumption in that service. Paul, contrary to the warning of the Spirit, would go to Jerusalem, and a prison was his penalty for many a day afterward.
God may and will, no doubt, use His servants in the place which their own failure has entailed on them: (Paul was thus used in a new and special service—as his Epistles were to him, Deuteronomy was to Moses:) but He must subdue the willfulness of their nature which has led them to act independently of Him. Moses began his course by attempting a right work in his own strength, and endured many a day of exile on account of it; and now he lays himself down on Pisgah, after beholding the glorious land, from which he is excluded because in acting for the Lord he acted independently of the Lord, whose servant he was. His first failure bears a close analogy to his last. But though thus chastened as to his service and mission, he loses nothing of his personal nearness to the Lord, and, indeed, gains in this way, for the Lord Himself shows him the land. So was it with Paul; while suffering the penalty of his failure in prison, he found more than ever that Christ was everything to him, and more than service; and, no doubt, Moses on Pisgah must have felt that God was greater to him than even the promised land, or than leadership thereto. At any rate, his submission to the Lord's will is very beautiful, and his transference of his own dignity and office to Joshua.
But, nevertheless, this transference WAS a chastisement to Moses as a servant, and while his very eye feeds on the inheritance, he is suffering crucifixion in his vile body. But, for that body Satan may contend in vain. Michael rescues it from his grasp, for the Lord claims all of him. The body is the Lord's, to whom be honor and glory now and forever. Amen.

Discipline: 9. Joshua

THE first notice which we get of Joshua is in Ex. 17:9, where he is introduced to us as appointed by Moses to lead the choice men of Israel against Amalek. From the appointment we must conclude that he was the best qualified for the post; but what interests us most in studying the history of any of God's servants, is the peculiar aspect or condition in which they are first presented to us; for in these first presentations we may behold the grand characteristics which will distinguish their course.
So with Joshua-type, as well as servant, of Christ, he is presented to us on the outset as a warrior chief, prepared to encounter the adversaries of Israel, a fitting expression for one so eminently typical of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Captain of our salvation. His first recorded engagement is against Amalek, who represents to us the flesh or the natural man in active opposition to the progress of the people of God. Egypt is more properly the world, Amalek is the flesh personated, Assyria is nature in its attractions and influences. The conflict with Amalek was the first intuition of warfare to Israel and characteristically Joshua, for the first time, appears on the scene as leader. He discomfits the enemy by the edge of the sword; but while thus victorious he is made to know on what his success depends, even on Moses who is on the hill top with the rod of God in his hand. He learns to lead the people to victory by being himself subject to the vicissitudes of conflict while depending on an unseen agency for success. Success wanes, not uncertainly, but still wanes; and in the very alternations of the conflict he learns to depend on God, and succeeds because he depends. This illustrates to us very pointedly the true manner of conflict, and how needful it is for us to be disciplined in order to ensure success. It exemplifies to us practically that word, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worked in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” The conflict is a real one, literally a hand-to-hand engagement, and success oscillates alternately in favor of each of the combatants. God is the energizer in us both to will and to do. Faith sustains Joshua. He knows that Moses is on the hill-top with the rod of God in his hand, and thus is he taught at the outset of his history to endure the vicissitudes of actual warfare in dependence and to be wondrously victorious. It gives great vigor to the soul to have grappled with the actual difficulties of our onward march, and in the strength of the Lord to have conquered: to be able to say, “I know how to be abased and how to abound.... I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
This Joshua learns and expresses in this his first essay as captain-general of Israel; and as it was his first achievement and indicative of all which should follow, even as David in slaying Goliath, the Lord directs that it should not only be written in a book, but rehearsed in the ears of Joshua, “for the Lord will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” What an encouragement such a memorial must have been to him in his many subsequent engagements! Well might he fall back upon it, if tempted to be discouraged. If the Lord had sworn to annihilate this his first enemy, would He not be equally faithful as to the rest?
We next hear of Joshua in Ex. 24, and he there appears before us as minister to Moses, when the latter is called to the Mount to receive the tables of testimony. This notice, though scanty, is very important, for it shows us that the man of action down here was no stranger to the solemn and wondrous manifestation of the invisible God. He not only learned how to war against the enemies of God's people, but he learned also the realities of God's glory, for which in His people he continued down here. In secret he was (even as was the Lord Jesus more perfectly) in communion with God's glory, but outwardly a warrior from his youth; and in both aspects was God forming him for subsequent service. Communion with glory on the Mount was as necessary as the uncertainties of conflict on the battle-field. There are what we may call circles, or distinct forms in the school of God. The warfare with Amalek was one circle, or one class of service already passed by Joshua; and in the Mount he is in another, that of communion with God, an enlarging of his acquaintance with the mind of God—a most blessed season of instruction; but even in this high association, Joshua retains his peculiar characteristic. When Moses turned and went down from the Mount, and the sound of Israel's apostasy reaches their ears, Joshua's comment on it is, “there is a noise of war in the camp.” His mind, evidently imbued with warlike scenes, interprets the shootings of idolatry, according to its leading impression. But when the idolatrous scene is unfolded before him, and Moses pitched the tabernacle outside the camp, Joshua evinces the value that the blessed season of instruction in the Mount had been to him, by taking the place of separation and refusing to mix himself with the defiled camp. We read, “Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.” He had learned what it was to abide in the secret of the Almighty, and though the service of Moses might call him to go to and fro, this young man whom God was instructing, knew it better for him to remain with God in the separated tabernacle. Service did not call him to the camp, and therefore he remained entirely set apart unto God from it. If there be not a distinct call for service, it is better not to associate with the defiled thing at all. Moses has a service to render, and he can enter and tarry in the camp without damage; but if we go like Peter “to see the end,” we are sure to suffer loss, because we thus gratify a true desire, in a human way. As a rule, if there be no room for service, let us be as separate as possible, for the separation will prepare us for good and effectual service by and by; and even if we be not introduced into this, our souls have drunk in more deeply of the mind of God.
Mere expressible knowledge of God's will and counsel is not the full effect of nearness to Him; but rather the sense of what suits Him and meets His mind: in fact, holiness, the highest attainment, and the great end of the Father's discipline.
But Joshua is still a learner. The next notice that we get of him (Num. 11) is in the self-same tabernacle; but here he openly exhibits a misapprehension of the mind of God. That very truth which had before saved him from defiled association, and preserved him in unison with God's mind, here contracts his spiritual vision when he makes use of it to circumscribe God, instead of regarding it as only in part a revelation of His mind. This is a very important connection, for it is God Himself, and not any single line of His truth which is to counsel me, or determine my walk and judgment. To remain in the separated tabernacle was plainly the truth and way of blessing, when Israel was in apostasy; but when Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp, God's Spirit must be acknowledged, though they do not come to the separated tabernacle.
Hence Moses rebukes Joshua, as really caring for the things of men, and not for the things of God. But a rebuke of this kind is not intended to dishearten, for mistakes, in personal attachment, never bebar us from the highest and closest confidence the very next moment. The heart is right, but it has taken counsel from the flesh and must be rebuked; but this being done, it is set free for God. Peter expressed the mind of Satan as to the Lord's death and was sharply rebuked for his misapprehension, but he is not disqualified from accompanying the Lord to the holy mount, nor is Joshua here disqualified for the special service of a spy. Error is dealt with very much according to what it springs from. It may be from natural, and therefore unacceptable, affection, or from indifference or from malice. The ignorance of Mary Magdalene is met and counteracted with a tenderness very different to that which the seven apostles who went d fishing, are corrected and enlightened.
Joshua, then, in spite of his late error, is appointed to go and search the land, and Moses distinguishes him by the name Jehoshua instead of Oshea. This intimates to us that he was now, according to his new name, entering on a new lime of service. He had hitherto been only Moses' minister or servant, to carry out his instructions. Now, he with eleven other heads of the people, is sent on a special mission to inspect the land, and report accordingly. Caleb and Joshua alone report favorably, and bear witness for God and for the goodness of that which He had sworn to give them, in the midst of the unbelief of their associates. What a trial they had to pass through, and how deeply they felt the sin of the people is evinced by their action. They rent their clothes, and while beautifully bearing witness to the good land, they declare that their entrance therein depended not on their own strength, but on the Lord's delight in His people. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones, when the glory of the Lord, bursting on the tabernacle, “in sight of all Israel,” arrests their evil intention. Let us state here, the peculiarity of the education to which Joshua was subjected. He had already been associated with God as the Deliverer, but this was his first acquaintance with the place which God had promised His people, and to which he himself was eventually to lead them.
Moses and Joshua, as servants, had a different mission. Moses was to lead the people out of the world—out of Egypt; Joshua, to lead them into Canaan. Moses, typifies the Lord combating the devil down here; Joshua, as leading us into all the blessed results of life and rest: and to fit him for the high mission Joshua must be disciplined. He must simultaneously see the land and see and feel the nature of the people he has to lead thither. And not only so, but having seen the land, proved in his soul, and confessed with his mouth, his faith in God's purpose and power to bring them in, and endured the opposition and persecution of this very people on account of it, he must wait the lapse of 40 years before he can behold and realize the works which his faith reckoned on.
What a trial of faith! what a prolonged education must this have been! A break seems now to occur in his history a break in the narrative, but surely not in the moral of it. Failing to animate the people to a sense of their calling, he retires, as it were, from public life; but only to resume his place and function there the moment it would be acceptable, and consequently we do not hear of him again till he is commissioned to lead the people into Canaan.
These forty years must have been a time of great deepening of his faith. As he saw the unbelievers, one after another, die off, until he with Caleb was left alone of the former generation; each death must have confirmed to him how blessed is faith, and how fatal to all blessing and service is unbelief. Like Moses in Midian, but far more honorably, he had to be by for forty years, waiting to be the champion of a faith which the people would not receive, though nothing else could bless them.
He would not be employed on any lower occasion, and therefore he remains for this lengthened period waiting until the time should come when an opportunity would be afforded him for proving, that “holding fast the beginning of our confidence” has great recompense of reward. No number of years can wear out faith. The wilderness had to be traversed all that time, not that faith should lose its origin, but that it should sustain him until the moment came for its fulfillment.
There never was a faith without a corresponding work, sooner or later, and this explains that passage in James, “the scripture was justified when it said Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” The faith must not be surrendered until the work declares it. It sustains the soul in the interval, in the blessing of the work, according to the strength and vividness of it.
The thread of Joshua's history is resumed where it broke off. he had assured Israel that they were well able to go up and possess the land; and at the end of the wilderness journey, when Moses is disqualified for leading them into it, Joshua appears on the scene again; the time is come; he is ordained for this special service. (Num. 27:18- 22.) He might often have wondered to what end was the faith which forty years before had lighted up his soul, and enabled him to proclaim the glories of the inheritance, but every germ of the Spirit produces its fruit. Faith must always verify itself. The less prospect there is of a declaration, the more is the soul thrown back on the convictions which faith produces; and this action necessarily increases faith, because it confirms its reality unsupported by anything outward. If held at all, it must be held from God. The visions presented to one's soul by the Holy Ghost, are not dreams, merely affecting us for the moment, but if of the Spirit they must be realized sooner or later.
Very fully was Joshua's faith realized; and now, “full of the spirit of wisdom,” and prepared by all these years of discipline, he is not only ordained by Moses, who laid hands on him, but personally commissioned and encouraged by the Lord for this high and honorable mission. “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread on, that have I given you,” was now the Lord's word to Joshua.
Traverse any of the endless domains of glory, and that will be yours forever; traverse it, and the verity and value of it will be ensured in testimony down here, even as the sight of Jesus and the glory was to Stephen.
We must remember that Joshua, properly speaking, is the continuation of Moses, both typifying the Lord Jesus in different aspects. Moses conducts me unto the death of Christ; Joshua conducts me victoriously out of it, carrying his spoils with him; and therefore when the Lord commissions Joshua, the son of Nun, “Moses' minister,” He says, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give them.... Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.” According to the terms of this commission