Bible Treasury: Volume 5

Table of Contents

1. Fragments Gathered Up: A Dying Paul
2. Notes on Isaiah: Introduction
3. Our Future Glory and Our Present Groaning in the Spirit
4. Fragments Gathered Up: Guided by God's Eye
5. Fragments Gathered Up: Power to Heal
6. Remarks on Mark 1:1-13
7. Remarks on Ephesians 4:12-16
8. There Is One Body and One Spirit: Ephesians 4:4
9. Three Things Necessary to Fellowship
10. Discernment of Spirits
11. Advertisement
12. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 90-93
13. Remarks on Mark 1:14-39
14. When One Walks With the World
15. Paul at Miletus
16. Remarks on Ephesians 4:17-27
17. Resurrection
18. Exodus 28
19. The Washing of Water
20. Errata
21. Notes on Isaiah 1-4
22. The Unity of Christ's Body
23. Remarks on Mark 1:40-45
24. Priesthood
25. Peace - My Peace
26. His Foundation
27. Remarks on Ephesians 4:28-30
28. On Colossians 1:12-22
29. Harmonies of the Gospels
30. Original Sin and Christianity
31. Publishing
32. Notes on Isaiah 5-6
33. Three Ways of Looking at Christ
34. Remarks on Mark 2:1-23
35. Thoughts on John 16:1-15
36. The Testimony of Paul
37. Remarks on Ephesians 4:31-32
38. Infidel Opposition to Christianity
39. Remarks on Dr. Brown's Millennium: Part 1
40. The Value of Moral and Miraculous Evidences
41. Scripture Queries and Answers: Luke 18:10-14
42. Scripture Query and Answer: Rapture Before the Tribulation
43. Published
44. Notes on Isaiah 7
45. Remarks on Mark 2:23-28
46. Thoughts on Revelation 4
47. Remarks on Ephesians 5:1-7
48. Remarks on Dr. Brown's Millennium: Part 2
49. Matthew 17:24-27
50. Scripture Query and Answer: Distinction Between High Priest and Advocate
51. Scripture Query and Answer: Christian's Sinning-Remedy
52. Scripture Query and Answer: Forms of Baptism in Matt.28:19 and Acts 2:38?
53. Advertisement
54. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 93-101
55. Notes on Isaiah 8 and 9:1-7
56. Remarks on Mark 3:1-6
57. Jesus Praying to the Father
58. The Inspired History
59. Remarks on Ephesians 5:8-21
60. Righteousness and Law
61. Advertising
62. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 102-106
63. Notes on Isaiah 9:8-21 and Isaiah 10
64. Remarks on Mark 3:7-35
65. Prayer in Ephesians 3 Compared With Ephesians 1
66. Having Upon the Heart the Sufferings of the Church
67. Remarks on Ephesians 5:22-24
68. Thoughts on Revelation 5
69. To See God
70. The Rending of the Veil
71. Scripture Query and Answer: A Heretic
72. Printed
73. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 107-113
74. God's Thoughts of the Blood of Christ, Not Ours
75. Remarks on Mark 4
76. Children and Parents
77. Remarks on Ephesians 5:25-33
78. Discipline: 18. Elisha
79. Titus 1:1-4
80. Scripture Query and Answer: The Firm Foundation of God
81. A Few Thoughts on Joshua 4
82. Fragment: Nothing Good in Self
83. Fragment: Ability to Serve in the Church
84. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 114-118
85. Notes on Isaiah 11-12
86. Remarks on Mark 5
87. Remarks on Ephesians 6:1-9
88. Thoughts on 1 Peter 1:1-7
89. God's Dwelling With Men
90. Scripture Query and Answer: Comparison of Work Between the Persons of the Trinity
91. Notice
92. Published
93. Notes on Isaiah 13-14
94. Remarks on Mark 6:1-29
95. God for Us: Romans 8:31-39
96. Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
97. How We Should Act
98. Giving Up the World and the World Giving Us Up
99. Remarks on Ephesians 6:10-12
100. Immanuel
101. Note
102. The Records of Inspiration
103. The Path in Days of Difficulty
104. Service for Christ and His Love to Me
105. Publisher
106. Notes on Isaiah 14:28-32, and Isaiah 15-16
107. Remarks on Mark 6:30-56
108. Remarks on Ephesians 6:13-17
109. Dead and Risen With Christ
110. The Testimony of God: Or, the Trial of Man, the Grace and the Government of God. 1.
111. Erratum
112. Notes on Isaiah 17
113. Remarks on Ephesians 6:18-24
114. A Few Thoughts on the Psalms, Especially 110
115. Self-Occupation Degrades a Saint
116. On Hebrews 11:1-6
117. The Testimony of God: Or, the Trial of Man, the Grace and the Government of God. 2.
118. Scripture Query and Answer: Is It Right for the Unconverted to Pray?
119. Scripture Query and Answer: May Bread and Wine Be Called Emblems?
120. Scripture Query and Answer: Conferred Authority to Preach
121. Erratum
122. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 119:1-24
123. God's Bringing in a New Power
124. Fragment: The Heart Occupied With the Lord
125. Notes on Isaiah 18
126. Remarks on Mark 7:1-13
127. No Contradiction in God's Ways Now and of Old
128. Notes on Philippians 1:1-2
129. The Water of Purification
130. Grieve Not the Holy Spirit of God
131. Reflection on Mixed Marriages
132. Advertisement
133. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 119:25-72
134. Notes on Isaiah 19-20
135. Fragment: One Step at a Time With Christ
136. Fragment: Unity of Christians
137. Fragment: In Christ and Christ in Me
138. Remarks on Mark 7:14-37
139. Notes on Philippians 1:3-11
140. Thoughts on Revelation 6-7
141. Fragment: History and Doctrine of the Bible
142. Fragment: Body a Living Sacrifice
143. Fragment: God Occupied With Us
144. Letter on Free Will
145. Entrance of Death
146. Erratum
147. Advertisement
148. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 119:73-120
149. Notes on Isaiah 21-22
150. God's Call out of the Earth
151. God's Claim of the Earth
152. Remarks on Mark 8:1-21
153. Notes on Philippians 1:12-20
154. 1 Timothy 1
155. Names of God: Part 1, Sovereign Ruler
156. Names of God: Part 2, 3 Names
157. Scripture Query and Answer: The King in Daniel
158. Scripture Queries and Answers: Difference Between the Church and the Body
159. Writings of Paul and of John
160. What God Is to Us
161. To Be Cast Down
162. Feeble Light and Strength of Will Go Together
163. Advertisement
164. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 119:121-176
165. Notes on Isaiah 23
166. Law Not the Measure of God's Acting in Grace
167. Remarks on Mark 8:22-38
168. Jacob in Egypt
169. Pilgrim Fathers: Hebrews 11:13-16
170. Notes on Philippians 1:21-30
171. The Ways of God: 1. Government, Grace, and Glory
172. Notice
173. Rahab
174. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 120-131
175. Notes on Isaiah 24
176. Remarks on Mark 9:1-13
177. Thoughts on Galatians 3
178. Christ Is Righteousness
179. The Christian Walk
180. Notes on Philippians 2:1-4
181. Faith and Failure
182. The Ways of God: 2. The Past History of the People of Israel
183. Printed
184. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 132-134
185. Notes on Isaiah 25
186. The Cross and the Crown
187. Grace
188. Exodus 25:1-22
189. Luke 9:37-43
190. 1 Samuel 8-13
191. 2 Corinthians 5:9
192. Fragment: The Exercise of Power
193. Notes on Philippians 2:5-11
194. The Ways of God: 3. The Times of the Gentiles and Her Judgment
195. Published
196. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 135-138
197. Notes on Isaiah 26
198. Remarks on Mark 9:14-50
199. Thoughts on Second Corinthians
200. Notes on Philippians 2:12-18
201. The Ways of God: 4. The Calling of the Church and Her Glory
202. Extracts From JND
203. John - the Penman of Revelation
204. Fragments Gathered Up: Christ Has Judged Sin
205. Fragments Gathered Up: The World's History in Scripture
206. Fragments Gathered Up: Romans 3:19
207. Fragments Gathered Up: Christ Between Myself and Satan
208. Fragments Gathered Up: John 13
209. Publishing
210. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 143-145
211. Repentance - What Is It?
212. Notes on Isaiah 27
213. Commandment
214. Remarks on Mark 10:1-16
215. Notes on Philippians 2:19-30
216. The Ways of God: 5. The Corruption of Christendom
217. Fragment: Bringing in of a Better Hope
218. The Epistle of Christ
219. Is the Christian in Adam or in Christ? and What Is the Result of This as Regards His Standing and Walk?
220. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 139-142
221. Notes on Isaiah 28
222. The Guileless Israelite
223. The Moral Power of the World to Come
224. Matthew 5:17
225. Remarks on Mark 10:17-31
226. Christ's Life Has Two Parts
227. Notes on Philippians 3:1-11
228. The Ways of God: 6. 1. The Judgment of Israel and the Nations Introductive of the Kingdom
229. Adam and Christ
230. The Christian and the Law
231. Published
232. Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 146-150
233. Ishmael
234. Christ the Rule of Life
235. Notes on Isaiah 29
236. The True Servant
237. Adam Created in Innocence
238. Notes on Philippians 3:12-21
239. Jesus Christ Is the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever
240. The Ways of God: 6. 2. The Judgment of Israel and the Nations Introductive of the Kingdom Continued
241. Scripture Query and Answer: Ezekiel 38-39
242. Scripture Queries and Answers: Isaiah 28-29
243. Scripture Queries and Answers: 2 Peter 1:19-21
244. Fragments Gathered Up: The Christian and the Law
245. Advertising
246. Notes on Isaiah 30-31
247. Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 1:27-31
248. The Christian's Nature and Relationship to God
249. God's Love and Christ's Love
250. Notes on Philippians 4:1-5
251. Grace and Government
252. The Ways of God: 6. 3. The Judgment of Israel and the Nations Introductive of the Kingdom Continued
253. Notes on Isaiah 32
254. Psalm 16
255. Remarks on Mark 10:32-45
256. John 6
257. Notes on Philippians 4:5-23
258. Difference Between Two Greek Prepositions
259. Disproportion of Truth
260. Moses
261. Scripture Queries and Answers: Christ's Service in Heaven
262. Scripture Query and Answer: The Body and the Bride
263. The Sheaf of First-fruits

Fragments Gathered Up: A Dying Paul

A dying Paul.-2 Timothy illustrates the victory of faith and hope in Paul's soul. He was in prison, forsaken by brethren, apprehensive of the ill condition and of the coming apostasy of the Church; but all was faith and hope in his soul, sure and bright; and in further proof of this victory, he is thoughtful of others. Hope has purified him. See like victory in dying Jacob and in dying David. (Gen. 47, &c.; 1 Chron. 28, &c.) See it also in the camp at the close of their journey. (Josh. 1-4) Faith overcame all accusing recollections; hope overcame all present attractions in Jacob and David.
The sense of the glory lies so instinctively on Paul's heart that he speaks of it as “that day” indefinitely. (Chap. i. 12, 18; iv. 8.) Faith and hope get their perfect victories in the soul of Christ. (See Heb. 12:1, 2.) See Him as dying. (John 13, &c.; xix. 27.) The Church is always to be thus. (Rev. 22:17.)
The person of Christ is the object of faith; but he who believes has part in the righteousness of God, which is revealed as the portion of the believer.
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Notes on Isaiah: Introduction

IT is proposed in the following series to communicate some thoughts on the most comprehensive as well as the grandest of all the prophets. Even if they contribute scarcely more than a copious table of contents, there are hearts thankful for the least real help to the better understanding of the Word of God. This object will be gained not by occupying the reader with the thoughts of man, but by furnishing suggestions which necessarily lead back to Holy Scripture, and derive any little interest or value they may possess from that Word which lives and abides forever.
Of the manner and style of Isaiah, others have spoken largely. If little is said of this, it is not that the warmest expression of praise seems to me overcharged, but because I consider it altogether needless, at least, for such as are likely to read these pages. It is more to our purpose to consider briefly the general structure, or, at any rate, the chief parts and divisions of this prophecy. There is an appearance of disorder in the arrangement of the book as it now stands; and many of those who have commented on it, have complained and suggested their rectifications. For my part, I see no sufficient reason to doubt that, under the semblance of confusion here as elsewhere in Scripture, we have a deeper system than one of time or circumstance. Thus, in the Book of Exodus, the ritual for the consecration of the priests comes in abruptly in chapters 28 and 29, after the Spirit of God has given part of the account of the sanctuary and its vessels, and before He supplies the rest. And yet this seeming interruption subserves, as nothing else could, the moral object of the Spirit, which would have been frustrated by a merely obvious and mechanical arrangement, to which most minds are so prone. “The foolishness of God is wiser than men.”
So in the earliest division of our prophet, which embraces the first twelve chapters, we have the preface of chapter 1 followed by chapters 2-4, which dwell on “the day of the Lord.” Then comes chapter 5, “the song of my beloved touching his vineyard.” Now it is evident that this strain, (proving by repeated instances that, for all yet done, Jehovah's anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still,) is interrupted by chapters 6-9:7; after which episode it is resumed till we have the close in the destruction of the Assyrian, the reign of Messiah, and Israel's joy and praise (chap. 10-12) “in that day” once more.
Now we have no date to this “song,” but we have both to chapter 6 and also to chapters 7, 8. Chapter 9 may have been revealed before the song, as many suppose it to have been the first vision the prophet ever had. This I neither affirm nor deny, not seeing sufficient evidence in the Word nor in the nature of the case to warrant either conclusion. But it seems plain that there is a moral order of divine beauty in the collocation as the chapters now stand. Chapter 5 is the case stated between Jehovah and His vineyard, and shows Israel tested by the painstaking care God had all through bestowed upon them. “What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it?” He can only thenceforward lay it waste, though His vineyard be the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant. Worse woe follows woe; and God summons the nations front far to chasten His people, over whose land hung darkness and sorrow. Then, before the conclusion of these judgments on stricken Israel, given in chapter 9, we have Israel tested in a wholly different way in chapter 6. For we have there the glory of Jehovah-Messiah manifested, (compare John 12,) the people blinded judicially for their unbelief, and an elect remnant withal which did not appear in the preceding chapter. Thus, if chapter 5 convicts Israel on the count of their ill-return to all God's past good and faithful care, chapter 6 condemns them yet more, whatever grace may do spite of all, by the manifestation of Jehovah's glory in the person of Christ. This, accordingly, leads to a lengthening out of the interruption, which shows us Immanuel, the virgin's child, on the judgment of the Assyrian, spite of desolation inflicted by him for a time, and the complete deliverance of Israel and their establishment under the Messiah AFTER the day when He was a stone of stumbling to them and the law was sealed among His disciples.
Then, as we have seen, the broken links of chapter 5 are taken up again from chapter 9:8, and the general history of the nation renews its course, after we have had, from first to last the special account of the Messiah, His rejection by the Jews, and the final blessing under His reign. The resumption, after so complete and weighty an episode, is made very evident, because the Spirit of God goes back to the very struggles of the prophet's day and the judgment of Israel. In chapter 10, the indignation of the Lord against Israel ceases in the destruction of their last foe, the Assyrian. Lastly, in chapter 11, we have the Messiah again shown, first in His moral ways, and then in His kingdom, followed by Israel's song of praise, in the millennial day. (Chap. 12)
The second great division comprehends chapters 13-17; but, like the first, it admits of various sub-divisions or separate subjects within itself. Thus, in chapter 13, 14, we have the fall of Babylon and the overthrow of the Assyrian, with Palestina dissolved, terminating in mercy to Israel and the establishment of Zion. This clearly indicates that the last days are in question both for judgment and for deliverance, whatever preliminary accomplishment in the past may have borne witness to the truth of the prophecy. But that which has been falls so short of all that is involved as to evince itself but the shadow which the coming events cast before them. Next follows “the burden of Moab,” in chapters 15, 16. Then, in chapter 17, comes “the burden of Damascus;” but just as proud Moab must stoop before Him who sits on the throne in the tabernacle of David, so the mighty rushing waters of the nations shall avail as little to sustain Damascus as to overwhelm Israel, though at the lowest ebb, when they look to the Lord God, and He rebukes the oppressor. The next chapter, (18) may be viewed in connection with chap. 17. Nevertheless, it has its own special place, as showing us Israel restored, not by the Lord at first, but by the influence and intervention of a maritime power. But this policy, and its promising fruit, come all to nothing, and the nations plunder and oppress as before, and the Lord takes up Israel, and works in His own grace and might. We have “burdens” after this, but they are not quite similarly presented after this great gathering of nations seen at the end of chapter 17. But, first, in chapters 19 and 20, Egypt is judged, (the Assyrian being the instrument,) before its final blessing. Again, in chapter 21, we have the “burden of the desert of the sea,” by which is set forth the capture of Babylon; “the burden of Dumah,” and that upon Arabia. Then, in chapter 22, “the burden of the valley of vision,” Jerusalem itself is taken; and Shebna is set aside for Eliakim, the type of Antichrist overthrown, and the government of David's house being transferred to the true Christ. In chapter 23 Tire's burden comes before us. Then, in chapter 24, the Lord is seen dealing with the earth, and the world languishes before His mighty hand; and more than this, for it is the hour of His visitation for the host of the high ones on high, as well as for the kings of the earth on the earth: indeed the day is come for His reign in Zion and Jerusalem. Can one wonder, then, that chapters 25-27 are the sequel for Israel's songs of victory, celebrating God and His character, and their deliverance and its character also? A song of joy closed the first division, and songs of praise close the second; and as we had in the first part the sorrowful song of the beloved to His vineyard, fruitful only in sin and shame, now all is changed; and “in that day sing ye unto her, a vineyard of red wine: I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment, lest any hurt it; I will keep it night and day.”
It is evident that, as compared with the first division (1-12), the second (13-27) embraces a sphere incomparably larger; the first being occupied mainly with Israel, the second beginning with the great power that ravaged and ruled Judah, going on with each of the nations that had relations with Israel, and ending with the judgment of all nations when the world is dealt with, and the very powers of the heavens are shaken too; but when Israel, sifted and chastened, is gathered in at the great trumpet blast to worship the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem.
The third division is occupied with the details of that which happens to Israel at the end of the age. Chaps. 28 and 29 give us the two final assaults on Jerusalem: the first of these coming from the north and overwhelming Ephraim in its course, is successful against the guilty city, spite of (rather because of) its covenant with death; the second, when all seems lost, suddenly brings the LORD of hosts to their rescue, and the multitude of the hostile strangers of all nations pass away as a dream. In chaps. 30 and 31 the unbelief that sought unto Egypt is judged, and the Assyrian, its scourge, the mighty leader of the coalition against Israel, falls under God's hand. Then in chap. 32 Messiah is seen reigning in righteousness, and the last pre-millennial effort of the enemy (chap. 33) is turned to his own destruction, and divine vengeance takes its course in Edom on all the other haters of Israel. (Chap. 34) Thereon the blessing is now so rich and all pervading, that the wilderness itself rejoices for Israel, and blossoms as the rose: sorrow and sighing flee away. God is come with a recompense, and His ransomed ones are come to Zion with songs, everlasting joy upon their heads. Such is the fitting conclusion in chap. 35.
The fourth division consists of the historical matter intercalated between what may be called the first and second volumes of our prophecy. These are their main facts: the historical Assyrian rebuked of God before Jerusalem, (chaps. 36, 37); the raising up again of the Son of David, who was sick unto death, (chap. 38); and the solemn intimation of the Babylonish captivity. (Chap. 39)
After this transitional series of events, and founded on their weighty moral import, we have the remainder of the book. (Chaps. 40-66) The two great controversies of God with His people are here brought to issue. The first is idolatry, which Cyrus avenged in the overthrow of Babylon, whither the guilty Jews had been carried, alas! because of their desertion of the Lord for idols of the Gentiles. But providentially raised up as Cyrus was, God points to His servant who shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. After this, however, the promised Messiah is dropped for the present. Israel meanwhile had the responsibility of being Jehovah's servant, but Israel was blind. Therefore had He given them up for a prey; but now they are delivered, the fall of Babylon being the pledge of a still mightier deliverance yet to come. This closes with chap. 48 In chap. 49 the second and still graver controversy opens—the rejection of the true servant, even the Messiah. This makes way for a blessing to the Gentiles in the wisdom and grace of God, the raising up of Jacob being now counted a light thing. “I will also give thee for light to the Gentiles,” &c. Zion, however, shall never be forgotten, but be restored. This, again, closes with chap. 56. (Compare its last verse with the last verse of the preceding part, namely, chap. 48:22.)
Chapters 58-66 are the conclusion. This, and indeed the whole of what we have called the second volume, are second to no other part in magnificence, interest, and practical profit. The contents of the last part may be thus summed up. The Holy Spirit directs Himself (in chaps. 58, 59) to the conscience of Israel—reasons, if I may so say, of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. Their hypocrisy was the hindrance to their blessing, and their sin would bring on their punishment. Yet when all hope of salvation might justly be taken away, the Redeemer would come to Zion in His own sovereign mercy, and His Spirit and His word abide with Israel and their seed forever. Chapter 60 most appropriately reveals their consequent glory and righteous condition. Next, chapters 61-63:1-6 form a section in which the character of Jehovah-Messiah is traced from His first advent in grace, (with the blessing and glory He was ready and able to bestow on the people and their land,) till He returns from the scene of the judgment executed in Edom, “the day of vengeance of our God.” Then, from chapter 63:7 to the end of 64 the prophet goes out to the Lord in earnest intercession for His people, finding an only hope in His mercy and faithfulness. The last two chapters (55, 56) are the answer of the Lord, who explains His dealings throughout; His grace to the Gentiles, His long-suffering toward Israel (rebellious and yet to return to their old idolatry and worse); His sure rejection and judgment of the mass but with an elect remnant spared; the introduction of His glory in the new creation of which Jerusalem is the destined earthly center; a reiteration of His sympathy with the elect and of the vengeance He must take on the abominations of the latter day, when, if He suddenly bless Zion, He will as suddenly come and plead by fire and sword with all flesh. After this judgment of the quick, the spared shall go forth and declare (not His grace but) His glory, and all the dispersed of Israel shall be brought back, and all flesh too shall worship before Jehovah, with the solemn permanent witness before their eyes of the doom of apostates. Such is the general scope, such the special divisional character of Isaiah the prophet.

Our Future Glory and Our Present Groaning in the Spirit

It is comforting and instructive to notice the way in which the expected glory utterly outweighed the sufferings, in the mind of the apostle. It is not that he did not suffer—we must suffer, and sufferings are not pleasant; but suffering is soon over! “I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” It is not merely that he knows he will then get rest and glory; but what a sense of the glory he has now, with his sufferings, of what he here calls the manifestation of the sons of God! Like a person you may have seen in the world, so filled with the bright hopes of to-morrow, that he is getting through to-day as fast as he can. It is “The glory which shall be revealed in us.” It is our glory and yet God's glory. He counts it but fair that, if we are in sufferings, we should be in the glory too. “If so be we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” If ours is the suffering, it is also in respect of ourselves the glory is to be revealed. While Christ (the Son) reflects the glory of the Father, the woman (the Church) reflects the glory of the man. Then there is the sense too, by the power of the Holy Ghost, of its belonging to us—that it is really our own. If a man has the sense of its being his, there will not be the turning his back on what he knows to be his own, but the getting towards it as fast as possible. If his heart is in that state, filled with the Holy Ghost, he will pass on through the world, as an angel would pass through it. Do you think, if Gabriel were sent on a message into this world, he would desire to stop here? No, he could not stay where all is defiled. It is this “present evil world;” so he does not linger, but is in haste to get through. But it is a much higher principle we enjoy than can be enjoyed by an angel, and so there never can come out of an angel's heart the same song of praise that comes from the believer's heart. Though it has been lately remarked, that the angels are never said in Scripture to sing, they are said “to speak” — “to say” — “to talk,” but they do not “sing.” There could be no harmony in an angel's song compared with ours, their hearts not being exercised with trials like ours. Never having sinned, they cannot know what the joy of salvation is; or what it is to be strengthened when weak, or lifted up when failing, or comforted in suffering. They laud, and praise, and bless God; but they cannot know the new song that they sing who passed through it all. The four living creatures rest not day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty;” but their subject is creation— “for thou hast created all things; for thy pleasure they are, and were created.” (Rev. 4) But in chapter v. it is redemption— “And they sing a new song, saying, Thou art worthy: for thou hast,” &c.
Then you see how strong Paul's personal realization of it was; he says, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” How much he must have had the glory present to his soul, to prefer it to “present things!” Now, he had suffered much; but it only brought the glory the brighter before him, and shows how the glory of the cross filled his soul.
The words “this present time” are striking. His mind is full of the future—absorbed with to-morrow like the boy at school looking for a holiday, who can think of nothing else. The glory is so present, that he calls it but momentary— “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment.” For if you talk to one whose mind realizes eternity, about this present evil world, eternity is too big to allow of room for anything else. We never realize eternity, till we fill it with the Father's love and Christ's glory. If we think of it otherwise, we only look into a mere vacuum. We are confounded on the one hand, and filled with glory on the other. Finding ourselves in the glory of God, we hardly know how to grasp it— “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” It is a blessed thing that it is ours, so that we can get near it in that kind of way. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us;” it is not to become proud with the “glory which shall be revealed in us;” it is not a change of time, but the glory is present to his mind, and he realizes the glory. Then he opens it out doctrinally: “For I reckon” —not 'we teach’ — “that the sufferings of this present time,” &c.—the present sufferings had lost their hindering power, because he saw the power of God in them and endured afflictions according to the power of God. He does not say it is received, but “revealed in us.” It is wonderful how the Holy Ghost uses that word “us.” It is the common course of all the promises of God, “to the glory of God by us.” “That ye may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length,” &c. The great thing is to get the heart into conscious association with all this fair scene. And if we have our hearts always occupied with Christ and glory, there will be such a sense of it that we shall be always there. So that if I look at the stars in the heavens—though I admire them and gaze on them with wonder and delight—they do but remind me at once that I am one with Him who created them.
It is amazing how the soul becomes soft when happy in the Lord! How it removes all roughnesses. Saints cannot quarrel about being happy in the Lord, though they may quarrel about doctrine or discipline. We ought all to look onward, and have the heart filled with the glory. The effect of this is to put us into suffering, though we can say it is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. It is not the divine essential glory, of course, but the manifested glory, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Verse 19 shows the sons exhibited in the family glory. In the world it is known by the dress of the children what is the wealth and grandeur of the father. It is the parent's pride and delight to deck them out and show them forth. Well, God has children, and He must display His sons in His glory. When He transfigures them, He manifests them. It is then, and not till then, the creature is introduced into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. This, as far as creation goes, is not intelligent, for it has been brought by man's sin, unwillingly, into all misery and bondage. It must also wait, for it will not be brought back until man has been. If a chain were suspended from the ceiling, and the first link be broken, which connects it with those above, the whole chain would immediately fall to the ground.
When man fell, all creation was involved. It has often struck me how as all the misery of the creature, sickness, bodily suffering &c., came by man, so all the deliverance comes by man. There will be a blessing on the fruit of the ground and not a curse, by and by, certainly in Jerusalem. The Cain-curse it is that was taken away by the flood, as Noah, (i.e., “this shall comfort us") the name given by Lamech to his son, seems to imply. It is not that they get rid of labor, but they get comfort in it. No doubt there will be very great fertility and fruitfulness; not that there will be no labor needed there, but they shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; but they shall build houses and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.” It is clear that “the creature” goes beyond our bodies; the creatures outside our bodies are groaning. There are two curses spoken of. The first was spoken to Adam, the second, to Cain. The first was on the earth in general, but the second did not extend beyond the family of Cain. The two curses are very different. Cain was a tiller of the ground— “Now art thou cursed from the earth. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not yield unto thee her strength.” It is true Cain had the earth, after it was cursed, after he had killed Abel. The two presented, as heirs of the earth, were Cain and Abel. These were two parties, and they soon showed who should get on in it—the righteous man or the vagabond—for Abel is slain; but Cain takes possession, builds a city, and makes progress in it. God blessed Israel in the earth; but what do we see? The godly forced up to heaven, because the, ungodly were in prosperity, and this, too, while prosperity was the mark of God's favor to the righteous; and so David says, “This I understood not, till I went into the sanctuary of God.” Well, they will have the heavenly blessing. The temporal promises were not even possessed by Abraham. God's temporal government was blessing on the earth. (See Ezra, Nehemiah, &c.) Solomon did not get higher than earthly blessing. The prophets rise up to heavenly blessing; not that they reach to the heavenly Bride—the body of Christ; for the Church never was the subject of prophecy or promise. The Church is founded on the defacing the difference between Jew and Gentile. Now to have attempted to deface the Jew before, would have been wicked. It was done in the cross. Meanwhile the Christian suffers. But, see how the energizing power of the Holy Ghost fills him with this “earnest expectation.” He so sees the love of God and thought of God in the thing that is coming, that his neck is stretched out, as it were, looking for it. God is a faithful Creator, and so He will bless according to God. The intelligence does not know the remedy, though the heart feels the groaning. Paul knew God in the sorrow pressing on his spirit. If he links it with the glory, it never can come till the manifestation of the sons of God, when the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. It is not liberty by grace, but the liberty of the glory; “for the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected the same.” My will was concerned in it; if it had ruined itself willingly, it would have remained; but God is there, and He is good. The creature offended; then the Holy Ghost inspires the whole creation with hope, so that all are looking out for the manifestation of the children of God. That is what they wait for. They groan, but not intelligently. We have the key to the groaning. The text may be read thus: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God, in hope that the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God; for the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that subjected the same.” There is a parenthesis. If it had chosen all, then there would have been no hope of recovery; but it is “waiting in hope,” and not only they, but we ourselves also wait, because we have the creature about us; “even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption.” “The Spirit itself maketh intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to God.” It is recorded in the history of the experience of an old saint, that he had lain a whole day groaning, without uttering a word, and, at the close of the day, there came out simply, “my God!”
“The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption.” Everything connected with it—sickness, death, suffering. It was “made subject to vanity.” He calls it all vanity. Take the flogging of horses in an omnibus to see how fast they can go, or how many they can carry, calculating the cost, what they shall gain by the journey, and the like. What is all this but “creature” groaning and vanity? Unless God sustained them, how could even the angels bear to look on and to witness it all? Look at what is called military prowess. Think only of 20,000 men being killed by their fellowmen in a single fray! Man walks in a vain show, and toils for death; thus spending all his strength to die! The creature is subject to vanity, and cannot get out of it, until brought into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. There is more villainy and misery, I suppose, in Manchester or London, than anywhere in the world, even where men are still in a mere state of nature. Blessing of another nature, doubtless, comes in; but that is another question. Civilization has pushed men even to the extremity, so that they are at their wit's end—up to such a point that there must be a break out at last, which men will find out to their cost. Luxury, indulgence, and pride have crept in, living for comfort, without any regard or care for the poor: men everywhere are feeling it, and evil passions are breaking out and showing themselves in various forms. God has mercifully spared this nation, because they do care more in this country for the poor than in any other; there are poorhouses, or unions, hospitals, and infirmaries. This is not the case in other countries of the world, where the people are kept down by mere power or influence, by the priests or the army; only let these be removed, and all goes. Men are saying, Peace, peace, and all the while trembling with fear, looking for those things that are coming on the earth, for come they must; and God alone knows what will turn up in a year's time. It is not because “signs” are not properly meant for us, that we are not to discern the signs. The Lord said, rebukingly, “How is it ye do not discern the signs of the times?”
“The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.” How astonishing it is that Christians can go on trying to better the world, with so many positive texts of Scripture against them! “The whole creation groaneth,” &c. What an amazing difference! He is speaking of “the weight of glory” which shall be revealed in us; and then at once turns and says, What a groaning creation I am in! It is his realizing the glory that fits him to enter into the sorrow of the groaning creation around. Christ, coming in glory, lifts him above it all. When Christ was here, every outgoing of His heart was stopped (except that grace would make a way): they turned away from Him and rejected Him; though He had cast out a whole legion of devils out of their land, they could not endure His presence, but “besought him to depart out of their coasts.”
The groaning goes beyond the saints—the whole creation groans. If I have the Holy Ghost, I may be full of joy and full of hope; but this does not hinder my groaning as a creature; the more I joy, the more I feel this wretched body is an earthen vessel that cannot hold the treasure. We have but the “firstfruits of the Spirit.” We have already the sprinkling of the former rain; when we get into glory, then will come down the latter rain.
There is no groaning in my connection with God; it is all rejoicing, and nothing else, in that respect. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” I am not waiting for the redemption of my soul, (that is the state of the quickened man in Rom. 7,) but for the redemption of my body; we have redemption by blood already, but not so as to glory; we are quickened in our souls as His children, but God will never have us as He wills until we are conformed to the image of His Son—this cannot be to what Christ was in the grave, but to what He is now. Christ is a glorified man. (There is no such thing as a glorified spirit, as some speak; there may be a glorious spirit, but a glorified spirit—what is it? who can tell?) Just as the coming of the Lord, as a hope, had been suffered to drop out of the Church, so the hope of being conformed to the likeness of Christ has been allowed to vanish. Now the evil of this is, it dissociates from Christ the spirit in heaven and the body in the grave; it is as Christ was before He rose; but the moment I get my mind filled with the thought, I am to be conformed to Christ as He is in glory, it associates me with Him now. The thought of His coming makes me happy. There is such a thing as delighting in God; but Christ fills up the scene between. He may make the person of the Lord precious to me—not merely His work but Himself; and then I shall not be talking about the immortality of the soul, (however true this may be, as indeed it is, but my body is mortal,) I shall be waiting to have “this vile body changed and fashioned like his glorious body.” There is no hope but that of being conformed to Christ. Death is not a hope. “Our conversation is in heaven,” and there we hope to be. My hope is to be with Him in heaven, bodily. I have all for my soul now in Christ.
“We ourselves groan within ourselves.” It is very experimental to see all this groaning, provided I see the hope that enables me to go on. The Lord groaned deeply at the grave of Lazarus, but He had power to carry it in spirit to God, and was strengthened. He came to the place of death and found all sealed up, and a stone laid upon it; and He groaned in spirit. Men put away their dead as loathsome—to get rid of them quickly.
The apostle had received the Spirit of adoption. Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead;” so we are declared to be sons, and are waiting to be raised up, bodily by Christ. We must never confound the groaning here spoken of, with the groaning of the soul for its own salvation, which we have already; but the redemption of the body, is our hope, for Christ is made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Redemption comes last as in itself comprising all, and not of the soul only. When they talk of hope among men, there is uncertainty always attached to it; as, one may ask, Do you expect to get this, or that? The reply is, I hope so; but meaning to imply uncertainty as to its being realized. Now this can never be the case with regard to our hope, for there is no uncertainty if God has said it. The full result is salvation; I have only the earnest of it now. I must wait patiently for it. Abraham had not a place to put his foot on, though God had given him the whole land: “He looked for a city,” &c. When hope is settled, you go on quietly to-day, expecting Him to come. The Holy Ghost has fixed our hearts on this hope, and we are waiting for it. Whilst we groan, the Holy Ghost itself groans, so that while it is a groaning creation, that is not all. If you groan, your groanings are according to God, and are as divine as your hopes, though in a different way. But as the Son became a man, and as a man down here, had these feelings, so the Holy Ghost (he does not become a man) dwells in me; and these groans are precious, because in these groans it is the positive intercession of the Holy Ghost; and “He who searcheth the heart, knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,” so that if God searcheth my heart, He finds the Holy Ghost there.
It is wonderful how God has insinuated Himself into everything: filling us with His hopes, His sorrows, and affections. If it is God who listens, it is God He bears. How thoroughly He is come in to possess man's soul! It is God's love outside us, and His love is shed abroad in our hearts. We dwell in God, and God in us. He has given us His thoughts and feelings, so that we are wrapped up in God, “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.” God's love! if it is not His love, it is of no use; if it is net in me, it has no reality. Scripture sometimes speaks as if it was of us, and at other times as of God. Thus it is my heart groans, while it is said, “The Spirit maketh intercession” —O! the wondrous ways of God! “Have I been a wilderness to you?” It is a great comfort to know they are not selfish groans in me, because while I am groaning with all around me, I might have the thought, Take care there is no unbelief there,' but it is the Spirit's groan in us. Selfish groans we find in Rom. 7. There it is all I, I, I—no Christ, nor Holy Ghost, until the end of the chapter. Rom. 8 is full of Christ and of the Spirit.

Fragments Gathered Up: Guided by God's Eye

The pillar of cloud guided Israel; but we are not guided by providence. Yet, blessed be God for it, we surely are guided of Him; and we know there is not a single thing He allows to happen to us, but what shall prove to be one of the “all things” for our good, though there may be much sorrow and trial mixed up with it, which may be needed to break us down. We often are guided by providence in a great many ways; but then it is a proof we are not guided by the knowledge of His will. If I discern God's will, I shall not be guided by providence, which is at best only being “held by bit and bridle.” It is better to be guided by God's eye. It is a great mercy, however, if I have not the spiritual one, to be even thus held in. If I am going off by a certain train; and get too late, so that I cannot go, this is providence which tells me, I am not to go. Christ never found His guidance by providence; nor the Apostle Paul in general, except when he went to Rome. Then he went as a prisoner; which was very different from being warned by the Spirit of Jesus not to go into Bithynia. “Guide me with Thine eye,” is our privilege.

Fragments Gathered Up: Power to Heal

The Church ought to be able to heal everything. She is set to be a healer in the earth; but if she fail, God can make it turn to blessing. See the case of the young man whom the disciples could not heal. If they could have healed him, we should never have had that precious token of His grace— “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, how long shall I suffer you, bring him to Me.” Yet they ought to have had power to heal him. The more the Lord's grace and power was manifested, the more they ought to have been able to use it for His glory. What a wonderful Savior we have to do with!

Remarks on Mark 1:1-13

Mark gives us the ministry of the Lord. His account is brief; and there are few events which are not recorded by Matthew and Luke. Nevertheless, what a gap there would be in our view of the Savior's life and work here below, if we had not Mark! In none have we a more characteristic manner of presenting what is given us. In none have we such graphic, vivid life-touches of our Master: not only what He said and did, but how He looked and felt. Besides, there is the evident design of drawing our attention to His gospel-service; and all the incidents chosen, and the peculiar mode in which they are handled, will be found to bear upon this weighty and affecting theme: the Lord God as the servant, in lowly, faithful ministration of the gospel here below.
The very opening illustrates this. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: as it is written in the prophets, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying,” &c. We at once enter on the great business the Holy Ghost had in hand. There is no blowing of trumpets to usher in the king in due style and title. This has its just place in Matthew, where the descent traced from Abraham and David, along the chosen royal line of Solomon too, so admirably agree with God's object there. And the circumstances before and after His birth follow, all carrying out the same end of presenting Jesus as the true and blessed Messiah of Israel. Luke and John, it could be readily shown, were endowed by the Spirit with equally striking and suited wisdom for maintaining the aim of their gospels respectively; but space forbids, for the present, our delaying to speak of these things particularly.
It is well, however, in noting the beautiful immediateness of the picture here brought before our eyes, to observe that there is no precipitancy, no omission of what was a most important preface for the account of Jesus thus ministering—the previous appearance and services of John the Baptist. To this there seems to be an allusion in the opening words. It was more than prophecy, though in accordance, as verses 2 and 3 prove, with the prophets. “The law and the prophets,” we are told elsewhere, “were until John,” who took a great step in advance— “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Such was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, after long silence had reigned as to God's testimony in Jerusalem.
Further, is it not touching to see that, if we are about to follow the steps of God's faithful and only perfect servant, the change which the Holy Ghost, in sovereign wisdom, makes in His citation (ver. 2) of Mal. 3:1, attests the divine glory of Jesus? In the prophecy it is Jehovah sending His messenger who would prepare the way before Him. In the evangelist it is still Jehovah sending His messenger, but it is now before “thy face,” i.e. the face of Jesus Christ. The truth is, Jesus, humble Himself as He might, was Jehovah. Matthew elicits the same truth from His name. “Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” Now the Jews were the people of none but Jehovah. It is the more remarkable in the opening of our gospel; for Mark, unlike Matthew, rarely quotes the Scriptures. How perfectly it is in keeping with the gospel, and its opening part also, is evident. If the Lord of glory was coming or comes in the form of a servant and the likeness of men, it was most appropriate that prophecy should (not be broken but) bend before Him, and that a new and still more blessed testimony should begin.
But where cries this voice of the herald, and where was he baptizing? “In the wilderness.” What, then, was the state of Jerusalem and the people of God? They must go outside to John if they would take their right place before God. What be presented was the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. The effect was great; I say not savingly, but extensive, and not without touching the conscience. “There went to him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” All this is here sketched by Mark, clearly but rapidly and in brief, without stopping by the way to set before us, as was needful to the purpose of God in Matthew, the proud and false-hearted men who stood in the place of religious leaders of the day, objects of God's certain and scrutinizing judgment.
But if John had his own special place, and if his abode, and garb, and food, (ver. 6,) witnessed his separation from the evil state of Israel, it was his happier task to testify the superiority of Christ's person, and of His ministry, as compared with his own (ver. 7, 8). Nothing is here said of baptizing with fire, as in Matthew and Luke, to both of whose subjects it was requisite. But Mark was inspired to speak only of that part of John's testimony which is directly associated with the Lord's gospel work, namely, baptizing with the Holy Ghost. It is not, of course, that, under Christ repentance ceased, and can ever but be in a world of sin, the necessary pathway of a soul that is born of God. Still, the turning of a soul to God, in a sense of sin and self-judgment, is different from the divine power which sets evil aside on the basis of a redemption accomplished by the grace of God. This is the characteristic blessing of Christianity.
Yet was Jesus, the baptizer with the Holy Ghost, Himself baptized by John in the Jordan (ver. 9), Himself receives the Holy Ghost! What a sight and truth! Infinitely above sin and sins, (which He did not even know,) yet was He baptized with water: He had no unrighteousness to confess, but thus it became Him to fulfill all righteousness. From Nazareth of Galilee came He, who was God over all, blessed forever. There He dwelt, as Matthew tells us, so that the prophets' saying might be in this, as in all else, fulfilled. Could heaven behold unmoved such grace? Impossible. “And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened [cleaving asunder], and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him.” What meaning had that act of baptism in the mind of God! “And there came a voice from heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” “Him,” as John says, “hath God the Father sealed.” It is not merely the fact, but “He saw,” &o., which is here recorded. Though truly God, He was man; though a Son, He became a servant, and was now about to enter on His ministry. He receives the Spirit as well as the recognition of His Sonship. He had justified God's sentence on, and call to, Israel; yea, He had in grace joined the souls who had bowed to it in the waters of Jordan; but this could not be without the answer of the Father for His heart's joy in the path He was about to tread. The one was the fulfillment of every kind of righteousness and not legal only (this in grace, for there was no necessity of evil in His case); the other was His recognition thereon by the Father in the nearest personal relationship, over which His submission to baptism might have cast a cloud to carnal eyes.
“And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness; and He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered unto Him.” (Ver. 12, 13.) What a picture of His position in a few words of God! Moses, the lawgiver, had been with God on the mount forty days; Elijah, the prophet, had been in the wilderness with God for the same, sustained without the need of man's food. But what was either miracle compared with the position of Jesus? For Him the Son, to be with God was, and had been from all eternity, His natural place, so to speak; but now He was come down to the earth, a man among men; and in the wilderness, to which sin had reduced this fair creation, He is for forty days tempted of Satan. Man was not there; but the wild beasts were, as our evangelist so forcibly adds; and there too the angels were ministering to Him. It was all His wondrous preparation for a service no less wondrous.

Remarks on Ephesians 4:12-16

Although we have already dwelt upon the more remarkable forms in which the grace of Christ has displayed itself in the way of gift—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers—we have not yet touched upon the object that our Lord had in view, that is, the general aim of ministry. This is said in verse 12, to be “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Now you will observe, in the very first expression of the Spirit of God, that which corrects one of the most prevalent fallacies of Christendom at this moment: and not merely of Christendom in its darkest forms, (for I am not speaking so much of Latins or Greeks,) but where there is the orthodox light of Protestantism and even strong evangelical sentiments. No one who is acquainted with the state of feeling, that is now so general, will doubt but that, even among Christians, the prominent notion of ministry is the bare calling in of souls to the knowledge of their own salvation in Christ.
But this is not the Lord's ultimate design in ministry. The winning of sinners to the Saviour is a necessary part, but is only a part of the blessing. Evangelists, like the rest, are given for “the perfecting of the saints,” which goes much farther. It is clear that they must first become saints; but that which the Holy Spirit makes to be the proper end in view is the forming the saints according to Christ; adjusting them according to the Lord's call and sovereign will touching them; the bringing them out adequately and rightly and freely, so as to find their proper action toward God and one another. This seems what is implied in the perfecting of the saints. Then we have rather the mediate forms which this great end assumes, “unto the work of the ministry, unto the edifying of the body of Christ.”
God always makes of prime moment His saints individually considered—their right condition before Him, their being thoroughly fashioned according to His standard. Their being gathered together and working as an assembly, important as it is, comes after. Thus, the subject of the body, the Church, does not appear till the close of chapter 1. What is the early part of that chapter filled with? That which is necessary for the perfecting of the saints. God Himself reveals His truth precisely in the same order, and to the same primary end. Here again the gifts of Christ are found to be just after the pattern of His own dealings. The perfecting of the saints is the nearest object to His heart; and then follows the means used to bring into the knowledge of common privileges, and the working of the Spirit in the assembly, which is bound up with His glory in the earth. Thus, whatever may be the condition of the Church, whatever the blessed ways of God in dealing with the Church, whatever the affections of Christ towards His body, after all God makes His saints of most immediate account, makes their perfecting to be the first and most prominent object. And this He always holds to. Whatever the fluctuations of the work, whatever the character of His testimony at any given moment upon the earth may be, the perfecting of the saints is the unceasing object before Him.
There is something exceedingly sweet in this. Come what may, God will accomplish the perfecting of His saints, and turn even the things that are sorrowful and afflicting into a means of blessing for them, if not always to their credit. Where we need humbling, it is plain we are not humble; where we are not low in our own eyes, God must Himself make us so. The process does not give room for our importance; but God keeps His own blessed end in view, and never fails to accomplish it. So that we may always adore Him for His goodness; though it may be in that which is distressing for the time, still God never fails; He is bent upon the perfecting of the saints; He is faithful and will do it. He puts this forward before His saints as the practical object of Christ. There we have ministry taking these different forms according to His own sovereign disposition.
But the Lord has to do with ministry, directly and immediately without the intervention of the assembly. There is no such thing in Scripture as a ministry flowing from the Church, though there is ministry directed to the Church. Paul speaks of himself as a minister of the Church: that is, not as derived from that as serving it: for the Church is formed by ministry instead of ministry flowing out of the Church. The gifts are for the perfecting of the saints. The ministry may fail, but the Lord never fails in accomplishing His end. It may be in a slower way, and there may be that which is utterly weak and even afflicting, but He accomplishes His purposes. He gives these gifts “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” These two later clauses come in as subordinate to the first. It is most blessed to see the saints acting together; but however the work of the ministry may fail or be impaired in man's hands, the great end to which the Lord commits Himself, and for which He has given these gifts, is carried through spite of all. And more, this is true, “till we all come the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The “perfect man” here does not refer to resurrection, but to our being thoroughly grown up into the knowledge of Christ.
This is observable in Paul. Although his great work was unfolding the redemption of Christ and the counsels of God's glory founded on redemption, yet he cannot but bring in this full growth of the saints in connection with the deepening knowledge of the Son of God. It is the person of Christ that rises up before the soul; and this is very much more a test of spirituality than any acquaintance with His work. It is with Himself as a divine person that we become more and more intimate through the truth that God ministers to our souls. This is what He puts before us— “Till we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at a perfect man.” Knowledge of the past ways of God would not do now. The Old Testament saints did look to the Messiah in the way of hope; but the present form in which the Spirit of God presents the object to us is the knowledge of His person, as the Son now revealed for our joy, and praise and worship. So that we have here the great Christian object and form of knowledge that God has in view with all His saints now. The comparison with verse 14, gives the force of the expression “a perfect man;” it is in contrast with being children, “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we henceforth be no more babes, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” What God designs for us is that we should be full-grown, and this “in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” It is in contrast with this condition of weakness and exposure to all the craft of men and their changing, scheming tactics of error.
Then we have the opposite, practical way in which our growth is carried on. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” The expression seems deeper than what we have here. It is “being truthful in love,” not merely “speaking the truth in love,” though, of course, this is a very important part of being truthful, but it is not everything; and we all know that it is very possible not to be truthful in thought and feeling, where the words are quite correct. “Being truthful in love,” implies truth in the inward parts.
We find here the two essential features of godliness of course were found in Christ in infinite perfection. He was the light. Whatever He might say, He exactly reflected the full truth from God Himself; nay, He was it. We find a remarkable expression when our Lord was dealing with the Jews and bringing Himself out as the light of the world, in John 8. They asked Him what He was, and He says, (according to the English Version,) “Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.” But the true meaning is, “Absolutely what I speak unto you.” There should be neither “at the beginning,” but “absolutely,” nor “what I said,” but “what I am speaking.” If these words are weighed you will find the force of them. Our Lord is exactly and absolutely what He utters; His words convey with infallible certainty what He is. He certainly was truthful in love. Our Lord's words so completely gave out the inner man, He was so perfectly transparent, that not one thing in Him deflected from the truth; nothing seemed to be but exactly what He was. And this because there was no sin in Him, neither was guile found in His mouth. There was no object but God before His soul, as He says Himself: “I do always those things that please him.” And you may rely upon it, that it is having Christ before us as the object of our souls in everything practically, which alone gives us power of truth. The moment we have anything of our own as an object, so far we slip aside, and there is that which is not the full truth, for Christ alone is the truth, and He alone gives us the truth in perfect love; and it is only in proportion as we are filled with Him, and have Him to the exclusion of all our own evil, that we ourselves walk in the truth. Let us have our hearts fixed on any one thing or person save Christ, evil slips out, and it is good for us to know and own this. It was never so with our Lord. He could say, “I have set the Lord always before me.” And He has given us Himself always to set before us.
Our Lord's meat and His drink was to do the will of His Father; still there was the meeting God about our sins in a manner that we are not called upon to do. We start upon a redemption accomplished by Christ, which has brought us into the presence of God, and which calls upon us to walk according to the grace which has brought us there, and which keeps us there. We may not all realize it, but we have done with ourselves by virtue of the work of Christ; we are brought near to God, brought to be at home with God, and from that place we are called upon to take up everything that becomes us here below; and here we have to judge what is the will of God, for we are absolute weakness if we are not doing His will distinctly. It is not only that God will have us conformed to Christ by and by, but that is what He has in view now. And in spite of all, wherever the heart is true and Christ is before the soul, though there may be immense differences, yet this is God's delight with His children. The child does not remain always a child, but becomes a man: and so should it be with the family of God. He would have them grow.
This then is the object in the gifts of Christ. He is bent upon blessing souls even now in the world, and that is the object of all ministry. It is not something left for our thoughts and arrangements, but it is all in the hands of the Lord. It is He who loves His saints, who will bless them, and who makes His individual servants, that have to do with the saints, to be immediately connected with Himself, and to have His objects before their eyes in that which they have to discharge to Him and not to them. For directly the Church becomes the great object before the soul, the blessing is of a lower character altogether, inferior in all its spiritual lineaments. There may be right feelings toward one another, but there is that which is much higher than loving one's brethren, divine though it be; and if you know nothing above brotherly love as the object, you will not walk in love. God is higher than love, and that is precisely the point of difference so much needed for this moment. One of the main things that we have to guard against is, Satan's endeavoring to persuade people that, because God is love, therefore love is God. But it is not so. If I say that, God is love, I bring out what He is in the active energy of His holy nature. But this is not all that God is. He is light as much as He is love; and I must own His love without the denial of His light. What prevails among many now, is the deifying of love in order to strip God of His light. But where we have it clearly before us, not that love “is God,” but that “God is love,” love will not be the less, but in fact more true and pure. While it will be the active spring of our own hearts, it will not be found at issue with His character, but will leave room for God to display Himself according to all that He is. God is truthful in love. Take it in the case of His dealings with my soul when He is converting me. Is faith the only thing produced by the Holy Spirit? What is the first effect of His breaking in upon a sinner? It is making nothing of him. Is not this love? Yes; but it is God's love that deals with me in the truth of what He is, and of what the sinner's awful condition is. So the effect produced on the heart of him that is renewed is not merely faith in Christ, but repentance toward God; it is the judgment of his whole moral condition in His sight. And as you find it connected with God's dealings with a soul from the first, and in the moral answer produced in the soul of the saint, so it is true all through. Where there is the healthful action of a saint in the presence of God, the room will not be less full for divine love, yet there will be the maintenance of the holiness and majesty of God. We would not wish to be spared pain for the purpose of slipping through at God's expense. There never has been one trial of heart gone through with God, but we have been blessed by it. We might have the blessing in a still fuller way without so much failure or letting out of what we are. But supposing we do not so lay hold of Christ as to be lifted above ourselves, then we must learn painfully what we are. But God turns it all for blessing. This is the great thought of the chapter. He has brought us into this blessed place. First of all, we are in Christ before God, and, next, God is dwelling in us: the one is our great privilege, the other is our solemn responsibility, which flows from the fact that God has made us His dwelling-place.
At once all contracted ecclesiastical notions are shut out by the truth of His dwelling-place. If we merely meet as a Church, such a connection with God disappears. But if it were only two or three, I must meet on the ground of the Church or it has no truth in it before God; and two or three Christians thus gathered would be with God and would have God dwelling in them. There Christ is, and there God dwells in a special way. God can bless where He does not sanction; He can bless in Popery. The grace of God is so rich and free, and above all the wicked ways of men, that He can use the name of Christ in the most untoward circumstances; but that is very different from God's putting His seal to what we are about. In order that He may Himself be associated in it, we must be in the truth of things, and acting according to the divine mind. I believe that only in our own days has this great truth been brought out by the Holy Spirit so as to bear upon souls according to God. I am not aware of any adequate testimony to it since the ruin of Christendom. There were in abundance efforts of men to improve the present and imitate the past; but either is a very different thing from God's provision in the Word for saints in a fallen state. If you see a man who is striving simply and ever so earnestly to get better, you say justly, he is under law, and does not understand the gospel. Just so, when a number of Christians are trying to ameliorate Christendom by new plans and efforts, I should say that if they understood the nature of the Church of God, and the Holy Spirit's relation to it, they would feel that mere union is a poor substitute for unity; they would humble themselves in the sight of God because of the state of the Church, and would fall back upon the word of God to see whether there is not a real and lowly but divine direction for the actual state of things in the Church. May God deliver His saints from the unholy as well as unbelieving but very general notion, that we are obliged on account of present circumstances to go on in sin! To men of spiritual discernment, the thought is just making God such a one as us. If I give up His holiness in one thing, how can I stand up for it or trust Him in another? Contrariwise, let us maintain that there is no emergency as to which God can lower His holiness, or sanction the lack of it in us; and if His will be perfect in other things, is it less in that which so deeply and nearly concerns the glory and name of Christ as the Church? People argue from the fact that things are not in order and beauty now; they go so far as to deny the responsibility of saints, as if Christians were not in one way or another connected with these public departures from God. Will it be urged that they are to be adhered to because they themselves or their fathers have been brought up in them? Surely the one question for us is this: Do we desire to learn and do the will of God? Is that our great object? Or is it merely, Where can I get enough comfort or blessing to keep my head above water? Of this, too, I am fully assured that if you are found doing the will of God, you will get the most and best blessing; but it is not the true Christian motive, and it is an unsafe one. We may go here and get a little blessing, and then go there hoping to get a little more. But, as it is said here, growth is “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” He would guard us from all the cunning craftiness of men whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
Is there, then, no means of having certainty in the midst of the confusion that reigns? Assuredly there is; and where the soul is sufficiently broken down to feel what is due to God, He will make all plain. We never ought to join in a single thing that we know to be wrong, whether privately or publicly. Of course, there may be everywhere things done or said that one may not be able to approve of, but this individual failure is different from joining in public acts of worship, the order of which is known beforehand to be systematically unscriptural. There I am identified with the guilt of what is done contrary to the word of God and so fixed by human authority. But this shows us the importance of nothing being done in the assembly but what will carry the weight of the whole assembly along with it. Hence, too, the evident desirableness of keeping out of the assembly all debatable questions. We may speak of them to a servant of God or a brother; but even that which I may individually enjoy is not a thing that I am entitled to involve the assembly of God in, unless I believe God would have me say it, especially when I know there is room for a just doubt on the mind of the simplest believer there. Minor matters of discipline never ought to be brought into the assembly. When there is anything of fundamental false doctrine or of a grossly immoral character, let it be what it may, there it is plain that all saints must be assumed to have the very same judgment. All would feel that they could have no fellowship with blasphemy or drunkenness, or any fatal manifestation of evil of one kind or another. Then we have cases which claim the united judgment of the whole assembly. Supposing a saint were what is called a Churchman, or a Dissenter, and little versed in Scriptural thought or action ecclesiastically, still, if he were really born of God, there could be no material difference of judgment about such matters. The power of the Spirit is mighty; the Lord knows how to work; and the common spiritual instincts of all the children of God, guided by His word as to such matters, find their expression in the renouncing and judgment of all such evil. But public discipline in the Church is so serious a matter, that it ought never to be resorted to till the evil rises up to such a height that all unbiased believers would be united about it. There is a tendency among righteous and active minds to make, out of every matter of difference, questions for the Church to decide on and deal with. This is a grave mistake, fraught with ill for all concerned, and to be resisted with all possible earnestness. Even saints are apt to be prejudiced or prepossessed in what concerns one another, especially in small things which can at all admit of party-feeling. Besides it would become an instrument of torture for many souls, if every private matter were liable to be brought into public. Thanks be to God, He has made His own landmarks for our guidance, and has shown us clearly that to bring anything into the open arena of Church discipline, ought never to be till every means has been taken to hinder it. The desire of our hearts ought to be the glory of the Lord in the blessing of one another's souls; and we all know that needless publicity must add largely to the shame, pain, and difficulty. But when it is needful, let it be done, so that it be to the Lord, with the utmost gravity and real love. The destroying the true notion of the Church, and of its action, has tended to reduce it to the level of a mere club.
But when we lay hold of the truth that the Lord has that on earth with which He links His name, although only two or three souls may have gathered unto that name, renouncing their connection with what is of the world and of man; when we have come to learn from God that He who saved our souls is the only One competent to form and keep and guide the Church—if we know that He has made us members of His own Church, all we have to do is to act upon the ground of the Church that God has made. If we now belong to God at all, we belong to His assembly, and we are bound to follow it out practically. If I know ever so few that act upon the word of God which applies to this, I am free, yea, bound in the liberty of Christ to meet with them. Of course, it would be matter of thankfulness, if there were hundreds of thousands meeting thus, though this might in other ways entail more sorrow and trial; but the trial will not be mere trouble of flesh; it will be, if we walk with God, the exercise of grace and patience; it will call out the real love to Christ that seeks the good of others, and that is always drawn out into intercession by the pressure of evil on all sides.
Supposing then, two or three come to this point—that they cannot acknowledge a human church, any more than a human salvation; are they to sit still, dishonoring God and ruining their conscience by persisting in known evil; or are they not in faith to meet in the Lord's name? By all means let them come together, following the word and trusting the Spirit of God. They will find trial, but true liberty and the Holy Spirit working in their midst. He is given to abide with them forever; let them believe it and not fail to count upon it. They may be very weak, but the Holy Spirit is not weak. On coming together, perhaps there is no one to speak at length, with profit, to them; but the assembly of God does not come together for sermons. Much or little speaking, their object is to do the will of God, to remember Christ, to act scripturally on the faith of God's objects in His own Church. If there were twenty thousand Christians round about them, meeting on human principles, what believer can maintain that these two or three would not have the special presence of God among them in a way the others would not? The more we have the sense of the ruin of the Church, the fuller our confidence that God's principles always remain intact and as obligatory now as on the day of Pentecost; the more happy the soul in the Lord, the more it will be drawn out in love to all saints. May it be ours thus by grace to “grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ!” This does not depend on the number of communicants, nor on the form and means of ministerial power, but far more on our own souls being with God, and doing His will, not only in individual service and life, but also as His assembly, which ought to come together according to His word.
There are, then, these three things—first and prominently, the perfecting of the saints individually; next, subordinately, the work of the ministry, where other persons act upon me; and, lastly, the building up of the body of Christ. The full aim and desired result of it all is the growing up into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Allow me to show a practical proof of it. You are aware that at an early date, false doctrines and heresies of all kinds came in. What was the resource of good men in those days? They invented creeds and confessions by which they endeavored to try suspected persons. But where was the authority for this course? Was it found that these bulwarks kept the evil out? In no wise, time or place. There is only one power of maintaining truth and love—even Christ; and where Christ is really held up and to, without the devices of men, there may be weakness, and ignorance at first, but the result will be that Christ's strength will be made perfect in their weakness. The power of Christ will rest upon those who, feeling their own weakness, cleave to Him alone. On the other hand, while you often stumble weak consciences, in good men, by imposing creeds, you can rarely, if ever, thereby shut out bad men; nor would spiritual men, alive to the honor of God's word, and aroused to see their unscriptural character, if ever so correct, deem it right to own them. Thus you hamper the weak and you exclude the strong among the children of God. You have a crowd of thoughtless or bigoted subscribers; and as to dangerous men, what thief or robber cannot leap over a creed? Human restraints are able to dishonor the work of God, but avail not to hinder the evil of man or Satan. What you find in Scripture is the saints led on, and the body knit together by the different joints and bands, and thus having nourishment ministered. This is the exercise and fruit of ministry exercised in all its extent; but there may be the Spirit of God giving a word by one who has not a permanent gift. God ordinarily makes a man an evangelist or a teacher; so that a stated ministry is a truth of God.
But exclusive ministry, I am bold to say, is an interference with the rights of Christ, and with the action of the Holy Spirit. God has caused to be felt in these last days the ruin of the Church more than at any epoch known to me in its past history; but He has also made souls learn and feel that no ruin of the Church destroys a divine principle. What was the truth for the Church is the truth for the Church. The original principle of ministry ever abides the only principle which He sanctions or we ought to follow. If there was nothing like modern practice in apostolic times, it is a human thing (and why should a saint bold to or justify it?) in our days. It is absolutely due to the Lord, that the Church should not interfere with those who are scripturally doing His work; and also, that all should leave room for Him to raise up others as He pleases. No workman, skilled or blessed as he may be, has all gifts in his person. There might be some member of Christ in the congregation qualified of God to edify by a word of wisdom occasionally, or able to preach the gospel, to exhort, or to minister in some mode and measure, according to the word of God. What we find in Scripture is the door kept open in principle and practice for all that God gives. Surely this is not to disparage ministry; it is, on the contrary, to assert it, and the rights of the Lord in it. But the ground on which ministry is exercised at the present time is so wholly, certainly, and transparently human, that the effect is inevitably to accredit a number of persons as ministers who are not even Christians, and to discredit all real ministers, who for the Lord's sake refuse their unscriptural forms. This is an evil that no godly saint, who desires to be obedient, ought to tolerate, or even make light of, for an instant. For my own part, it is one reason why it is wrong to become a minister of any denomination that follows (as all do) these baseless traditions. If you are a minister at all, you are a minister of Christ, and of no body else. This the word of God makes as plain as light. The action of the assembly, as such, is entirely distinct. While the minister is of course a part or member of the assembly, yet must he act, if he act rightly, from Christ, and from Christ alone. He may seek to edify believers by discourses, exhortations and so forth, addressed to them; he may seek earnestly the conversion of unbelievers; but ministry or no ministry, (in which last case there would, of course, be loss, yet) the assembly goes on, competent and bound to perform its own functions in subjection to the Lord. Again, not ministry but the presence and operation of the Spirit constitute the power of the assembly. This is as important for the assembly to bear in mind, as it is for the servants to remember that they have immediately to do with Christ as their Lord. Of course, abuse of ministry, like any other sin, necessarily brings him who is guilty under the judgment of the assembly. No man can ever be beyond the Church's judgment, where he gives occasion for it by the allowance of evil in his conduct. But the Church's interference never ought to appear, save in the case of known evil doctrine or practice.
This may help to show the practical bearing of the passage. What God does and Christ gives, the mutual service of the various members of the body, joints and bands—all is that we should “grow up into Christ in all things; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” There we have the theory of the Church, because God, in laying down these blessed principles, does not bring in the mere accidents of evil. There is no such thought as a screw being loose here, or something else being wrong there. All is supposed to be moving on harmoniously for the great end for which the Lord has established it.
There is a difficulty that people often bring forward—that you cannot have a perfect church on earth. What do they mean? If it be a church where there will not be a soul ever doing or saying anything but what is quite according to God, they are asserting, doubtless, a mere truism, if it be not rather, mere foolishness. But what is insinuated is, that you cannot, on earth, get any association of saints according to the will of God. I deny this, believing that you can readily find the path of His will, and that every believer ought to find that path. You are responsible to learn the will of God about His Church if you are a member of it, and to be doing nothing else. If I know two or three Christians in a place, seeking to walk according to the Scriptures, there should be my lot. One may be a forward man naturally, another might have strange notions and ways. There might be something faulty in each of the individuals. All this is not to deter me for an instant, because my owning them as being that part of the Church which is acting where they are according to God, does not depend upon an immaculate ideal in this or that. The question is—are they doing the will of God according to His word? God's will at least is perfect, and he who does it, abides forever. Is not His will about His Church as absolute as about anything else? If this be allowed, there, I say, is the ground of action. Must we not be about our Father's business as to this? So that the one question for all who desire to please God is, what is His will? Not surely to meet as the flock of Mr. So-and-so, (for where do we read anything of the sort in Scripture?) but to meet as Christians who are simply cleaving to Christ, and counting on the Holy Spirit to teach all the will of God? Is not this, and this alone, the true basis on which Christians should corporately act? Where, then, shall I find believers so meeting? Are there any who have had the faith to come out of that which is merely human, so as to stand on the ground laid down in God's word? The same Scripture that tells me how I am to be saved, tells me how to walk in His house, the Church of God. Neither the assembly nor ministry is left to human wit or caprice; as to both, we must search, and be subject to, the word of God. God's system (for He has one, as revealed in Scripture,) is what we have to find out and act upon; and though we may have very great trial and difficulty, and find ourselves in the same straits the early saints experienced, yet, even this confirms the truth to us, and we shall have joy and strength if simply dependent and obedient to the Lord. The very trials will become a means of fresh blessing; and we shall prove how truly God will give us to use for His own glory much of His word which was once practically useless to us, and which we supposed merely referred to apostolic times. We thus begin to find a present application of the word of God in our corporate position, just as much as in meeting the wants of our souls day by day. If this be so, may we have the happiness, not only of knowing these things but of doing them steadfastly unto the end!

There Is One Body and One Spirit: Ephesians 4:4

The Lord Jesus, both before His death and after His resurrection, had told His disciples of the promise of the Father—that other Comforter who should come, given of the Father and sent of the Son. (John 14 xv. xvi.) “It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” For Jesus they had forsaken all; and more, far more than all had Jesus been to them. He was now about to go. What could turn a loss so grievous into positive gain? The presence thereon of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. It is clearly impossible to understand these and kindred Scriptures, of anything short of His personal presence. Effects and manifestations are enlarged on elsewhere; but such is not the theme here; nor could any conceivable spiritual power outweigh the comfort of having Jesus with them. But the Spirit was promised personally; not comfort only, but the Comforter Himself; One who could be described as a teacher, remembrances, testifier, and convicter; One thenceforth and forever acting in and with the disciples, who left heaven after the Savior ascended, and who takes His place, on the ground of accomplished redemption, in the midst of those who confess the name of Jesus and wait for His return. When here below, Jesus alone could speak of His body as the temple of God. (John 2) But now, having borne the wrath of God, and annulled by death the power of Satan, He could righteously send down from the right hand of God the promised Holy Ghost to dwell in the faithful on earth. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16.)
In principle, then, the coming of the promised Spirit was contingent on the departure of Jesus, and, in fact, it was when He took His seat, as the glorified man in heaven, that the Spirit was sent down. Assembled together with the disciples, previous to His ascension, He “commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me; for John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.” (Acts 1:4, 5.) The next chapter records the accomplishment of the promise on the day of Pentecost. The Comforter was given; the third person of the Trinity was now, permanently, present in them, as truly as the second person had been with them before He ascended to heaven. The Holy Ghost was the grand witness, as His presence in the disciples was the new and wondrous fruit—of the glorification of Jesus in heaven.
Are the operations of the Spirit of God from the beginning denied? In nowise. Creation, providence, and redemption all speak of Him. His energy declares itself in, and pervades every sphere of, God's dealings. Who moved upon the face of the waters? Who strove with man before the deluge? Who filled Bezaleel with understanding, and all manner of workmanship? Who enabled Moses to bear the burden of Israel, or others to share it? By whom wrought Samson? By whom prophesied Saul? It was by the Spirit of the Lord. And, as in their early national history, His good Spirit instructed the people, even so could the prophet assure the poor returned remnant, “According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth among you.” Were any regenerate? They were born of the Spirit; and the blessed and holy actings of faith in the elders who obtained a good report, were, beyond controversy, the results of His operation. So far, the way of God is still, and necessarily, the same. Jesus set not aside in the least the need of the Spirit's intervention. He proclaimed its necessity as a fixed, irreversible truth” Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” But life, peace, and sonship (while all are communicated and known by the effectual working of the Holy Ghost,) are in no sense the presence of the Comforter. The disciples possessed these privileges before the Lord Jesus ascended. They are, therefore, entirely distinct from the promise of the Father, which the disciples did not possess, and which none ever did or could possess till Jesus was glorified. (John 7:39.) The presence of the Comforter is clearly the distinctive blessing since Pentecost. It was never enjoyed before, though the Spirit had wrought, and wrought savingly, as regards believers at all times.
But when Jesus took His seat in heaven as the exalted Head, the Holy Ghost was sent down, not merely for the blessing of individual believers, but for the purpose of gathering them into one body here below. This and this only is called in Scripture “the Church of God;” and its unity, hanging upon the baptism of the Holy Ghost, is “the unity of the Spirit.” Matt. 16:18, is the first occurrence of the word “Church” (i.e. assembly) in the New Testament. It is there spoken of as a thing not merely unmanifested and unordered, but as not vet existing. It was not built, nor being built yet. “Upon this rock I will build my Church;” which Church, be it observed, is mentioned as altogether distinct from the kingdom of heaven, the keys of which (not of His Church) the Lord promised to give to Peter.
But, although the unity of the Church, as Christ's body, will only be displayed perfectly in the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, (Eph. 1:10,) yet it was intended that there should be a testimony to it, produced and manifested by the power of the Holy Ghost in the one body on earth. When the apostle spoke of the saints being “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,” this was not an ideal or future thing only to be achieved in heaven. It was an actual, present fact, made good here below by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Hence we read, “to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God.” (Eph. 3:10.) And the “unity of the Spirit,” which the saints should endeavor to keep, where was it if not on earth? The saints were there, and there too the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers given of Christ Himself ascended up far above all heavens. There go on the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, and the edifying of the body of Christ. It is on earth that we meet with “sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14); and it is there that we “grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, fitly joined together, and, compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph. 4:16.) It is in this world, and in this world alone, that “all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment administered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God,” (Col. 2:19,) as it is assuredly here that the Spirit would have the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts, “to the which also we are called in one body.” (Col. 3:15.)
So, in Rom. 12:4, 5, the apostle writes to saints, who, like the Colossians, had never been visited by him, and therefore, as man might judge, were in no peculiar way connected with him: “As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Evidently, it is not a tie which was going to be established, but a relationship already existing. Membership is not with a local church, but with the Church, the body of Christ, (Acts 2:47); though, on the other hand, if one be not in fellowship with the assembly of the members of Christ where one resides, there can be for him no fellowship with them anywhere else.
Nor can language be more explicit than that of 1 Cor. 12 “But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit dividing to every man severally as He will. For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body being many are one body, so also is Christ; for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The composition of that one body depends upon the baptism of the Holy Ghost. By Him are we baptized into the body of Christ, Jews, Gentiles, bond or free; it matters not. Jesus exercises His heavenly rights. He baptizes with the Holy Ghost; and those who are thus baptized become the immediate and the especial field of His presence and operations—the body of Christ. The diversities of gifts, of administrations and of operations, will not be in heaven. Their province is the Church on earth. It is here that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man (i.e. in the Church) to profit withal. It is the one and the self-same Spirit who works all these gifts, distributing to each member as He will. For the many members constitute but one body— “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” The importance of these last words will be better estimated, on comparing with them Acts 1:4, 5, and particularly the clause, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” The disciples were believers at the time this was spoken. They had life, and life more abundantly. Jesus, the quickening Spirit, had breathed upon them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” (John 20) He had also opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24) But none of these things is the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Pentecost first beheld the accomplishment of the promise of the Father. Then and not before, were believers baptized with the Spirit. But it is this baptism which introduces into and forms the “one body.” It is the Spirit thus present and baptizing, who began, organized, and recruits the body of Christ. Hence is it that, coincident with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we first hear, in the Word of God, of this new body and of membership therein. Whatever the privileges, (and they were many,) which existed before, that which is distinctively called in the Bible “the Church of God,” appeared here below, as the consequence of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, dwelling in the disciples and baptizing them, Jews or Gentiles, into one body.
The apostle addresses, no doubt, the Church of God that was at Corinth, and it is very clear that the New Testament frequently speaks of assemblies in this or that locality, i.e., churches, (compare Rom. 16:1, 5; Gal. 1:2, 22; Col. 4:15, 16 1 Thess. 1:1; 2:14, &c.) But beside this, Acts 2:47 Cor. 10:32; 12:28; 15:9; Eph. 1; 2; 3, &c.; Col. 1; 1 Tim. 3:15, are instances of another sense of the most important bearing, as may be seen in the epistles of Paul, i.e. the Church, as a body here below, in a breadth as extensive as the baptism of the Spirit. Thus, to take a single text referred to, that entire society or corporation, wherein He dwelt and wrought, was the assembly in which God set apostles, prophets, teachers, &e. Certainly, it was impossible to say that He had set all these in the Corinthian assembly; nor will it be maintained that He is to set them in the Church universal, gathered on high. There is, then, a large sense of “the Church,” in which unity is predicated of all the members of Christ existing at one time in the world, whatever might be the distances separating their bodies; and that, in virtue of one Spirit baptizing them into one body. The body of Christ, like the natural body, is susceptible of increase; but, as in the natural body, the identity subsists when the old particles have given place to new, so the body of Christ is the body still, whatever the changes in the members in particular. He who, by His presence, imparted unity at its beginning, conserves unity by His own faithful presence. He was given to abide with the disciples forever.
In fine, by “the Church” is meant not the aggregate of various co-ordinate (much less conflicting) societies, but a body, the one body of Christ, possessing the same privileges, and calling, and responsibility on earth, and looking for the same glory in heaven as the Bride of Christ. If a man was baptized by the Spirit, be was thereby made a member of the Church of God; if he had a gift, it was to be exercised according to the proportion of faith, for the good of the whole: not ministry, nor membership, pertaining to a church, but to the Church; each joint belonging to the entire body, and the entire body to each joint.
As Israel of old was untrue to its calling, so is Christendom now. The Gentile has not continued in the goodness of God, and has therefore no other prospect than to be cut off, when the due moment comes in the wisdom of God. (Rom. 11) But as once the godly clave to the ancient oracles revealed to the Jews, precisely analogous is the joy and obligation of the believer now. If Catholics and Protestants have, in various ways and measures, been unfaithful to the Word and Holy Spirit; if the scriptural ground of the Church of God has been everywhere lost sight of in principle and renounced in practice, the more incumbent it is for the glory of the Lord, that those who fear Him and love His name, should seek at once, and in all respects, to eschew the prevalent evils they know, and to submit themselves unreservedly to the revealed will of God. Nothing can justify perseverance in known sin. And if God has given the name of the Lord Jesus, not only for salvation, but as the center of His assembly on earth, through the recognition of the Spirit's presence and operation therein, what is any other point of union but a rival and a rebel, which every Christian is bound to disown? What is our resource, then, and what His provision for us? “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20.)

Three Things Necessary to Fellowship

Three things are necessary to fellowship:-
1st. There must be the knowledge of sin forgiven; the certainty that faith alone imparts, that we are righteous before God. Any doubt or fear about this hinders.
2ndly. There must be the new nature or life in Christ.
3rdly. That nature must be strengthened, brought into exercise, by the powerful actings of the Spirit of God to quicken into such communion.

Discernment of Spirits

It is not false doctrine abstractedly, neither is it a person, but evil spirits are at work, and this discernment of spirits is in question in 1 John 1-3.
Verses 3 and 4. How gracious of God to permit the evil then to be manifested, that we might have the light and truth needed to meet it in our day. Greater is He THAT is in us, than he that is in the world.


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Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 90-93

Psa. 90 is in a special manner Israel's cry for mercy and restoration in the last days, after their long affliction. But we will apply its principles as usual. It contemplates two things in the government of God: discipline, properly speaking, and satisfying mercy. But both are founded on another point: that God is the one unchangeable God—the same before the world, with which discipline is connected, was created, as now, and now as then; time being as nothing to Him, which to us may seem so long; and that He is the dwellingplace of His people, where is their rest and home, and secure abode, whatever wanderings they may have. As to man in time, He sets man aside with a word, and restores him. They are like grass growing up and then withering. But though this be true, if we compare God and man, yet faith gets hold both of the ways and purposes of God in dealing with His people. For Israel it is felt as wrath, because they do not yet know reconciliation. We know it is love, but the truth of the dealing is the same and we can apply it. And first as to ways: “as His fear, so is His wrath.” It is not arbitrary, but according to His own nature and character. Fear is knowing Him in truth, so that what He is, is applied to the holy judgment of all that is in the soul, so that nothing should displease Him or hinder communion. Now wrath as discipline—governmental displeasure—is the expression of this as regards the state of the soul, where it has been unheeded, or the will has been in it. It makes good God's character as regards that which is opposed to it in us. Faith, divine teaching, shows us, that His wrath is, as His fear. But when the will bows, our very feebleness becomes not terror, but a motive in our appeal to God, And He owns it. He considers whereof we are made, and remembers we are but dust. But when once we feel our nothingness and apply our hearts to wisdom, the beginning of which is the fear of Jehovah, instead of God's having to enforce it by subduing our will, and correcting our carelessness, the heart gets courage, gets bold. It is not reasoning, but by grace confidence is restored, and the heart says, “Return; O Lord, how long?”
Now this, we have often seen, is the expression of faith. God purposes to bless, and in result will bless His people; and hence, when under pressure, faith can say, How long? Self is not faith, and the fear of God must be produced, but where faith is, it springs up again into the sense of known mercy and says, How long? And note, there is known mercy. It is not come, but “return;” not as if God had left them, (though, as to His ways, that is true as to Israel—He hides His face from the house of Jacob,) but we look to His returning in the sense of known present mercies and enjoyment of favor. Then it brightens up into full confidence. Faith knows His purpose is to bless, to give delight and joy to His people, and that by His own favor. It knows He delights in them; it counts on this: “Satisfy us early,” What a bold word with God! But it is confidence now; the soul is morally restored in His love which He delights in. This is looked at as constant too. “Rejoice and be glad all our days,” it says. Why should it not expect it from the God of goodness? It may be more outwardly with Israel, still the spirit of it is right. It looks for a refraining God; one who takes account of the sorrow of His people, though He has been found to inflict it. See how beautifully and blessedly this is put, Isa. 40, (just what is sought here,) “Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem; tell her her time of trouble is accomplished,.... for she has received at the hand of the Lord double of all her sins.” His heart counted it twice the chastisement needed, compared with her sins; for the answer to faith is ever more than the request. (See the prayers and answers in Psa. 132)
But faith, looking on the thoughts and purpose of God in blessing, goes beyond returning and refraining mercies. God has purpose in His love and works in its accomplishment; hence they say, Not only satisfy us with thy mercy, but “let thy work appear unto thy servants.” God's own work will make good blessing, and so how good it will be? and it will be manifested to their honor and delight. So we, even for our souls; we seek not only restoring mercy, but thereon the positive work of God, in producing blessing in bringing us yet nearer to Himself. It is never then merely restoration; it is a soul better able to appreciate God, and God more fully revealed to it. Yet still awaiting, knowing as we are known, the result is the full display of glory; (here for children, because it is literally for Israel in the millennium;) but we do look for the complete work of God in raising and glorifying us, and then entering into glory to abide. But another sweet thought is added to this: “that the beauty of Jehovah, their God, should be upon them.” Their thoughts would hardly go beyond the manifest endowment of blessing from His own hand marking them His. With us how fully is it so! Shall not we be in the glory of Christ Himself? like Him arrayed in this blessed likeness before God our Father, a place of perfect delight? Nor do I exclude present blessing, how we may be as thus under grace as the lign-aloes which the Lord had planted; and that was when Israel was abiding in their tents. So the Church should be a spectacle of grace, to the angels, of order and beauty, and the life of Jesus as manifested in the individual believer. In this case, too, the works of our hands under divine favor are established for us.
Psa. 91 On this beautiful psalm, of the structure of which I have spoken elsewhere, I have not much to say, because it defines the names of God which are available, and the specific effects of faith going on even to what is directly applicable to Christ; so that the general principle is less justly deducible from or connected with it. It would be reducing what is purposely specific to what is vague. It takes Jehovah, as such, as God; and so he who owns that name, comes under the care of El-Shaddai for a specific performance of earthly promises in the ways of God. This is not our place; one who acted on it would deceive himself. Yet a general faith, and trust of heart founded on it, would surely be blessed. It does not take up a Father's chastenings with which the government of God connects itself.
Here, in trusting Jehovah, no evil comes nigh the dwelling of them who does so. This was what made it strange to David till he went into the sanctuary of God. He saw the wicked prospering, himself plagued every moment. This is the certain result of owning Jehovah, when the government of God does come in.
Still we may learn some of the characters of trust. It is not merely the knowledge that there is an Almighty God, who is above all things: the secret place of His true revelation of Himself must be known. This, true faith has, and confers with God there according to it. His name is revealed to faith. To us, it is Christ as Lord and the Father. Faith thus, in its confession of His name, makes its refuge and strong tower, and moreover trusts in it: a great thing, for no power of evil, no cause of distress can be anything to upset the mind, if the Lord be looked to and trusted in. It has here the promise of ever watchful and protecting care. This is true whatever outward evil may come. As we see in Luke 21:16-18, the Lord says some of them should be put to death, but not a hair of their head should perish—they were all counted. Providential power is all at God's disposal. Faith is identified with the interests of God's people; (ver. 9;) but the Lord's own name is what has governed the heart, and the true name of God is known to it; that is, as I have said, the true revelation of God Himself known by divine teaching. To us it is Christ Himself, and the Father in Him. Faith calls. It is not merely passive trust, right as this is in its place, but it communicates with God about its needs, because it trusts Him. God's presence is there for faith and the exercise of its power; and this is as true now, in its just application, as then, as hereafter. The way is different, because the object is different, that is, to bring in a heavenly state. It brings present blessing though with persecution, and is assured of eternal and heavenly salvation.
Psa. 92 is really praise for the final deliverance of Israel, and Jehovah's millennial name is the key to it, as of the last. As the following psalms are the bringing in again the only begotten, there is one principle to note in it—the elevation of the wicked is finally for their destruction. The man untaught of God does not see this; but faith discerns in its adversaries and the power of evil which rises up and presses on it, darkening its horizon, the enemies of the Lord. Hence, though tried more than another, for the power of evil is very painful to it, it has confidence. For though it would be foreign to wish personally for vengeance (and we have to watch against this), is it so to the Christian to rejoice in the earth being delivered from the power of the wicked? On the contrary, “Rejoice now ye prophets and ye holy apostles.” It is said, Faith gives a keen sense of the evil, because it is such and hostile to God and goodness and truth, and rejoices in the righteous judgment. But it is as the Lord's work, as the work of His hands, it rejoices in it; and that is perfect. It displays, too, the uprightness of the Lord, but faith must wait in patience. The following psalms discuss and celebrate the coming in of this judgment.
Psa. 93 In this psalm we shall find some very important principles. Though power be now exercised for the triumph of good, it is no new power. The Lord's throne is of old, Himself from everlasting. No inroad of evil has touched or weakened that. This had taken place. The passions and will of man had risen up as the angry and tumultuous waves in vain. The Lord on high is mightier. Rebellious man is allowed to do this, but the power of the Ancient of Days, is concealed from unbelief in the days of patience, so that man thought all in his hand. When evil rises up so as to reach Him and call out His action, an instant suffices to bring about the counsels of God in power by their destruction. But this is not quite all. Faith has that on which it rests—the Lord's testimonies: they are very sure. God's word may be counted on as Himself, not only for final deliverance but for guidance along the path of difficulty. Nor is this all. There is a character which is a safeguard against delusion and a means of judgment and discerning the right path: “Holiness becomes God's house.” Oh! how these two principles do cheer and enlighten us in our path. How they strengthen it in the consciousness that it is of God's very nature, and cannot but be! Thus God's testimonies and God's holiness secure and fix the heart as to that which is of God. If the water-floods rise up, the Lord's power will settle all in His own judgment.

Remarks on Mark 1:14-39

We have seen thus far in Christ the great preparations for the service of God, the first of them, at least and of course, modified by His intrinsic and absolute sinlessness. And such, I believe, to be, in measure, true of every one whom the Lord calls to follow in His own path. There is, first, the owning of our true place before God. And what real enjoyment of our spiritual relationship can there be, till we bow before God in the truth of our condition? There maybe a sort of joy arising from the thought of sins being forgiven; but forgiveness of sins, however sweet and important, is, after all, but an act—an immense, divine act—of sovereign grace through the blood shedding of the Savior. It is not in itself the existence or the enjoyment of our new definite relationship of sons with the Father. This, along with the seal of the Spirit, is what is next given. We, too, led by the Spirit, have the happy witness that we are the children of God. But, following this, there must be the consciousness of what the power of Satan is, and of the wilderness, too, before there can be the full ability to serve others in the power of God.
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” This was the fitting moment for his public ministry. It was an hour little suited for nature, when Messiah's forerunner was tasting the enmity of the world; but Jesus came not to escape the sorrows of love in a hating world, but to make known what God is, in spite of, yea, because of, such a world. Therefore He says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” There was no more delay for the testimony of grace. It was no question of the law, but of repentance and believing in the Gospel. But though it was now the time for divine action, grace will have sharers of its own joy. Accordingly we have Simon and Andrew, James and John called to become fishers of men. (Ver. 16-20.) They had known and believed in Jesus before, but now they must follow and be with Him. Boats, nets, father—their earthly property, their ordinary occupation, their natural relationship—must yield to the call of Jesus. Not that all are called to go after Jesus thus; but assuredly it is the Holy Ghost who leads the soul that is born again to call Him Lord: Is this confession to be real or is it unmeaning? By His blood we are redeemed to God, We are not our own; we are bought with a price. He is our Lord; not only in great things, but in the smallest matters of everyday life. And sure I am that a crisis comes in the history of believing souls, when they must be put to the proof how far this is true in their experience. For Satan does seek to tempt us; out of the happy place of the servants of Christ, to make ourselves lords, as it were. Are we seeking our own interests, our own pleasure, our own ease? Are we struggling for our own will? Are we seeking to be something in the world, or, at any rate, something in the Church? What is this but to be lords instead of His servants? But to own Him as Lord, to do His will, this is our own proper business. For this we are saved. This is what He died for; and this is what we ought to live for—to own Jesus Lord. To live for ourselves in anything, is to defraud Him of His rights; and it is to deny, so far, the great price He paid to make us His.
“And they went into Capernaum, and straightway on the Sabbath-day he entered into the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.” This is the first and essential point in the ministration of God's word, that it should be spoken with authority. Flesh may imitate it. The world thinks that self-will is the only thing that can avail to effect any end. But however strong man's will may seem in the things of men, the certainty of God's will is the one thing by which the Holy Spirit clothes the word with authority in divine things. This was pre-eminently the case with Christ, for He alone as man had the Lord always before Him. But even with us there should be the speaking with assurance of God's mind and will, (1 Peter 4,) if we speak for God at all; otherwise it would be better to be silent. With the scribes it is not so. They may reason or they may dazzle, as argument or fancy preponderates. But for us, it is better not to speak if we have not the certainty of that which God would have spoken at any given time. By speaking uncertainly, we only communicate our own doubts or darkness to others. But if we have by grace the certainty of God's truth, let it be spoken with authority. It is as servant that Christ does so here. He was Himself the perfection of humility; for it is in no way inconsistent with a lowly mind, to speak with the fullest authority where we have no doubt about the mind of God.
But next we find “there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out saying, Let us alone: what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy. One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.” How strikingly these demoniacal possessions appeared in the presence of Jesus! One might almost think, as we read the gospels, that all then, existing and possible cases had been crowded around, Him. But the truth is, there may have been as many before, but the presence of divine light brought it all out then; the presence of Jesus, the Son of God, drove Satan to bay, and withdrew the mask which may previously have covered his victims. And in a degree this may be observed wherever the power of God's truth and holiness are at work. Does He raise a standard? Their opposition will at once be felt, and the enemy will declare himself. The unclean spirit would gladly be left alone, but owns the power of the despised Jesus of Nazareth. The power of Satan could but feel the presence and supremacy of the despised of men, but Holy One of God. Jesus, however, rebukes him, and delivers the possessed to the astonishment of all who own the new doctrine by reason of the power which judged and expelled the enemy.
Nor is this all. The divine word was felt, and demons were forced out. Sickness, too, flees before His touch; and this not only in the individual case of Simon's wife's mother, but in crowds of others, miserable and distressed in every form. As to this, indeed, we have but to humble ourselves before God; for the Church was once the seat of this same wondrous energy of rebuking diseases and casting out devils. They were the powers of the world to come. But God has stripped the Church of her ornaments to our shame; and it becomes us to be humbled for it. Let us, however, turn to Jesus. Unwearied with His day of toil and service for others, at even it was still the same. He evermore carries on His work of love; for “when the sun was set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils, and all the city was gathered together at the door, and he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils, and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.” He refused that mixed testimony. It must be divine, in order to be accepted of Him. But what is so blessed for us and so instructive too, is the next lovely feature that we find in the Lord as the servant on earth. “In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Occupied though He had been, early and late, with the sorrows of others, yet here we find Him long preventing the dawn, while it was yet the dark of night, in order to bold intercourse with His Father. And what were the communications between such a Father and such a Son! The Old Testament tells us, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. He wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” The New Testament tells us how He went a great while before day into a solitary place, and there He prayed. And if He thus retired to be with God, Himself the Lord God, before He entered upon the work of the day, can we wonder that we fail so much in outward labor, who fail yet more in this inward intimacy with our Father? Be assured, the secret of holy strength and endurance in service is found there alone.

When One Walks With the World

One may say, I shall have no intercourse with such an one; he is quarrelsome, disagreeable, vain, proud, or a tale-bearer. But if one is living with saints, there is no such turning one's back. There is still love as being one family—God's family—and the need of patience, forbearance, &c. This makes the great difficulty of saints living in one house when one walks with the world, one may say, I shall have no intercourse with such an one; he is quarrelsome, disagreeable, vain, proud, or a tale-bearer. But if one is living with saints, there is no such turning one's back. There is still love as being one family—God's family—and the need of patience, forbearance, &c. This makes the great difficulty of saints living in one house.
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Paul at Miletus

Acts 20
We have, in the progress of scripture, several instances of dying saints and servants of God taking leave of the scene here, and of their ministry in it. Jacob does so, and so Moses, and Joshua, and David. And among them Samuel also, in a very affecting scene recorded in 1 Sam. 12.
In this chapter, the apostle Paul is in the like conditions. He is taking leave of his ministry on the shore at Miletus, in the presence of the Ephesian elders.
Paul's story, in the book of the Acts, consists of two parts his service and his sufferings. In the one we see Paul, the servant of Jesus; in the other, Paul the prisoner.
The first part ends with this twentieth chapter, having begun, I may say, with chapter 13:1. The second ends with the book itself having begun with chapter 21.
That, however, which attracts me at this time, is Paul, in chapter 20., in contrast with the Lord Jesus in like conditions, in John 13-17. For there the Lord is taking leave of His ministry in the presence of the twelve, as here the apostle is doing the same in the presence of the bishops of the church in Ephesus.
There are points of contrast very vividly presented to us, and the human, in its vast conditions, stands beside that which was divine as well as human, and the distinctions are finally maintained and expressed.
But this is only what we would have reckoned upon. We are instinctively conscious that Paul, the brightest, highest sample of a vessel of God anointed and filled by the Spirit, stands before the affections and recollections of the heart very differently from the Lord. Our love to him is that which we give to a fellow creature, and that only; the love which we give to the Lord Jesus is a worshipping love. This we feel instinctively; we need not to be taught. We know it, and thus we carry, in the sensibilities of our renewed mind, the witness of that which Scripture tells us, that Jesus was God as well as man, and that the most gifted vessel in God's house, though he be also the most self-surrendering saint, is still but a fellow-creature.
The contrast which these scriptures afford, (the Lord in a parting hour, and Paul in a parting hour,) gives us a sample and illustration of all this, and reseals the conclusions of our souls already reached and rested in, as I have said, instinctively.
The points of contrast may be thus noticed:-
1. The apostle submits his ministry to the judgment of his brethren. He tells them of the humility and tears with which he had conducted it; and then of his diligence in it, how he had taught them publicly and from house to house; and in his preaching how he had embraced both Jew and Gentile. And all this is sweet in him and well becomes him.
He treats them as fellows in the service of God, and submits his own peculiar measure and manner of service to them; as they might do with him.
But, I ask, is this the style of the Lord Jesus? Does He, after this manner, submit His work to the approval of man? In the chapter I have referred to, we do not see Him doing this even with His Father. He is then rather delivering up His ministry as now accomplished. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” is His language, while his eyes are toward heaven, and his voice is addressed to the Father there. He delivers up an accomplished work, a work which He knew Himself was all perfect. This was His glory, as a minister, His glory in His ministry. In the stead of submitting it to the approval of His apostles, He rather, as I have said, delivers it up to His Father, as that which had been accomplished to perfection.
Paul tells the Ephesian elders, that he was going on his way, bound in spirit, to Jerusalem, but that he did not know what was to happen to him, beyond what the Holy Ghost had witnessed, that bonds and imprisonment awaited him.
Was this the Lord, again, I ask? The very opposite shows itself in Him. When He was taking leave of His ministry and of His servants, He lets them know that He knew all things, things near and things afar off, things in heaven and things on earth. The story of the world's enmity, and of the sufferings of the righteous in it, and the story of eternity itself; for He tells them also, that He will return to take His people home with Him to be in the Father's house, there to abide forever. Surely this is the glory of the Lord again; and bearing witness of the One with whom we are conversing, in John 13-17
Again the apostle tells his companions that, however largely and intimately he may have been with them hitherto, he was now about to leave them, and that they would see him no more.
But what says the Lord in contrast with this? Paul could say nothing more, I grant. He, as a man, a fellow-creature, about speedily to close his career, and his service here by death, had but to say, “You will see my face no more.” But again, I ask, does the Lord say this? Quite the contrary. He lets His servants know, that He would never cease to see them, and they should never cease to see Him. “Because I live, ye shall live also,” He says to them. “The world seeth me no more, but ye see me,” and so should it be forever. He would return to them and for them. They should see Him in spirit till that time came, and then in glory, as with Him in the Father's house forever.
What outshining is here Paul could not speak in loftier language than he did the Lord could not speak in lower strain than He did. It is the creature and God: it is the sweet, attractive, loving form of human companionship—it is the irradiation of personal, divine glory.
Then, again, we listen to the apostle caring not for prison or for death; and fine this is. It may humble us to find such a self-sacrificing faith in another. Paul laid his life on the altar, and was ready to have it offered up. But when we listen, in His turn, to the Lord Jesus, we hear the language of One who was going, as He knew, back to the Father in glory, because He had now glorified God and the Father on earth. Paul would blessedly brace himself for that which remained of the conflict and the journey; but the Lord was at the end of it in the conscious perfection of One who had so glorified God in the world here, as gave Him His place and His title of being glorified with God in the heavens.
And we further find the apostle giving counsel to his brethren; and seasonable and right counsel it was. It could not be more just and fit, we may say. It was this—to serve God in His Church, and to look to themselves, for dangers were at hand.
But what do we find in Christ corresponding to this? He counsels His apostles too, and various are His words to them. But among them, He tells them that they shall bear witness to Him. And He tells them that the Holy Ghost, who is about to come from heaven, shall also bear witness to Him, and serve the glory of His name by taking of His things and showing them to them.
What infinite and yet due distance is there here? Could Paul tell the Ephesian elders anything like this? Could he, would he, dare he, make himself their object, or the subject of their ministry, as soon as he had left them? He tells them, and rightly so, to serve God and look to themselves. But without robbery, Jesus puts Himself in company with God, making Himself together with the Father the object of the Holy Ghost's testimony and of the apostle's ministry.
Surely in each and every feature of this contrast, the glory of One who was infinitely above the first of the mere children of men, shines out. It all confirms the instructive impressions of our own souls, telling us that with Jesus, but with Jesus alone, of all the sons of men, we are in conscious converse with the living God Himself, with One whom we worship as well as love.
6. Still, however, there is more of this. Paul commits his brethren and companions to God and to the word of His grace. What more could he do? But what does the Lord do, in like conditions, leaving behind Him His apostles and saints, as Paul was leaving behind him his companions and brethren? Variously, and all-gloriously, does He act indeed. He leaves His peace with them; He washes their feet, so that they might appear before God “clean every whit.” He promises them the Spirit to be their light and comfort, and He commits them to the Father, that the Father might continue to do for them in His absence, what He Himself had been doing for them while He was with them. What out breakings of divine glory! And He undertakes to give them His care and thought and service, till He have perfected their condition, and that forever, in the house of the Father.
If Paul, as a man, could do nothing more than he did, Jesus is here doing what none less than Jehovah's fellow could have done, or dared to have attempted.
7. And, once more, in tracing this wondrous subject: Paul submits his conduct to the judgment of his brethren. “I have coveted no man's silver or gold or apparel; yea, ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me.” He stands before them in the testimony of a good conscience. I do not blame him, or seek to depreciate him for this, though on another occasion he could say, it was a very small thing with him to be judged of man's judgment, (1 Cor. 4:3,) and would own that he was a fool in glorying. (2 Cor. 11; 12) But, again, I say, I do not blame or depreciate him for this. But I ask, Is this the Lord Jesus? Does He submit His conduct to the judgment of men any more than His ministry? No, indeed. He rather asserts three grand and glorious moral facts connected with Himself, and His way and life and behavior in the world. He tells His apostles that He had glorified God in the earth; He tells the Father that He had glorified Him in His ministry to the elect; and He says of Himself, “the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me.”
What conscious moral elevation expresses itself here! It is moral glory of a quality necessarily, essentially divine. This was a life and conduct that God manifest in flesh alone could exhibit. We dare not seek the like of it anywhere but in Jesus. It is our joy to know that it could not be found elsewhere in heaven or on earth, among angels or men; that none but the Son of the bosom, who was also the Son of man, could have rendered such a living sacrifice of pure incense and sweet savor; a sacrifice more acceptable to the blessed God than the obedience of a whole creation could have been.
Thus have we looked at the glory that excelleth. Sweet moral beauty there was in Paul indeed. We may be humbled in ourselves as we look at or think of such a man. But our own souls tell themselves, and the histories tell us in like manner, that it is all of another kind and quality, differing in material and in temperament altogether from that which shows itself to us in the Lord Jesus. In Him it was divinely moral beauty. It was the gold wire worked in the ephod. (Ex. 39:3.) And let me just further ask, Is there not the expression of humanity in the scene, as it closes, which we could not get in the kindred scene between the Lord and His apostles? “Paul kneeled down and prayed with them all; and they all wept sore and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Precious to the heart this is. We long to have more of it and to see more of it. We are straitened and cold. The heart has but little capacity to let itself out after this manner. But could this have been the way between the Lord Jesus and His apostles? What say our renewed instinct; our apprehensions and sensibilities in the new creature? And what says the history? Jesus prayed as Paul did—but it “was not with them all,” as Paul prayed. It was turning His eyes to heaven and addressing His Father on the ground and title of His accomplished obedience, and then uttering His will and, desire touching His saints. The disciples were sorrowful, as Paul's companions were; very sorrowful. Sorrow had filled their hearts because they were about to lose Him, as they judged. But they well knew that He was more and other to them than Paul was to his brethren. They would hardly, in human, affectionate, warm-hearted intimacy, fall on the neck of One who had so lately, in divine grace, washed their feet, giving them title to appear before God their Father without a spot upon them.
Surely these distinctions are full of meaning, and perfect in beauty. And, again, I say, for it is a happy thought to me, our instincts as saints would have suggested these very contrasts which we here find in these two sacred histories.

Remarks on Ephesians 4:17-27

The reader now enters upon the general walk of Christian men, as suitable to, and connected with, the doctrine of our epistle. Indeed there was already an exhortation in the beginning of chapter 5 to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. But the apostle here descends to particulars. And, first of all, there is a solemn injunction to the saints that they should not henceforth walk, as other Gentiles walked, in the vanity of their mind. The Spirit of God guards us against what we perhaps might think needless—the walk of those who surround us—the walk that was our own before we were brought to Christ. And yet, the moment that we reflect, the wisdom of such an exhortation is apparent; for Christians are ordinarily liable to be much influenced by the tone of thought and feeling current in the world outside. The ruling passion that carries the world on for the time being, is always apt to be a snare to those at least who shrink from the cross day by day, and so much the more because they do not suspect themselves. Whatever be that which occupies its energies, especially if philanthropy, moral progress, or religion be the form that it takes, there is always a liability to be thrown off our guard. Besides, and this is the immediate point here, old habit is strong; so that the apostle does not hesitate to warn these saints who stood out, not only in the fresh joy of faith, but also in outward position, very separate from the world, and, the lines were at that time strongly defined; and yet, in this opening word of exhortation, the Holy Spirit very solemnly guards the saints against being drawn into the ways and practices of the Gentiles. There is often a danger of this with Christians, because they do not like to be singular. There may be peculiar people among the children of God. But the apostle does not speak of eccentric individuals, to whom it would be no difficulty, but a pleasure, to differ from everybody else. They affect originality in word and deed, and in their strain after it are only odd. But he is guarding against the common moral danger, when faith has lost somewhat of its simplicity and freshness.
On the other hand the apostle has shown elsewhere—and we should always endeavor to remember it—that it is a wise and important thing to meet souls in grace as far as possible, not to impose upon others what they have not strength to bear. In writing to the Corinthians, the apostle had insisted on this, as his ministry exemplified it. He had become a Jew to the Jews that he might gain the Jews. He was made all things to all men that he might by all means save some. There was no kind of pressing points. There was the hearty desire for the good of souls; for we may have this without the pressure of our own particular thoughts and feelings, however right they may be. It is the elasticity of the Christian if established in grace. We rarely can pull the cord too tightly in dealing with our own souls, or be too stringent in our vigilance and prayer against slipping here and there. But it is a totally different thing in having to do with others. We have to bear their infirmities, if, in truth, we are strong; it is for their good that the Lord lays them upon our hearts. We find that, even with His own disciples, He did not go beyond what they were able at that time to bear. But the very desire to meet souls, and not to raise questions that would gender strife, would expose a gracious Christian to be taking the color of those outside himself, and giving up his own principles.
There is no doubt, then, of the forbearance in which we are called to walk with one another; nevertheless, we need to beware of turning grace into levity or licentiousness. “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having their understanding darkened; being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Here he begins with the inner thing. You will find that our tendency is to occupy ourselves and others with something outward. But the apostle goes to the root of the evil walk of the Gentiles. Their minds were vain and empty, as all must be, who have not God distinctly and positively, and intelligently before them in any matter, whatever it may be. As to these Gentiles in nothing had they God before them; they were “without God in the world.” Consequently, there was nothing but the empty vaporing mind and mouth of man, imagining one thing and expressing another. What was the effect? The understanding was darkened. “They were alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” These are various descriptions, not of the outward walk, but of the root of all the evil fruit they bore. God was not in all their thoughts. They were “alienated from the life of God.” How indeed could it be otherwise? The life of God is only found in His Son and Him; and, consequently, it they had not. Far from having relish, or a just sense of need, they were alienated from good; and this on account of the blindness or hardness of their hearts. So far is the evident tracing of what the evil walk of these Gentiles sprang from; the sum and substance is that it arose from their ignorance. And their ignorance was because their hearts were hardened and blinded. What a solemn and practical truth for every soul of man, converted or not! Our conduct flows from our judgment, and our judgment from our affections. Thus, the state of our heart becomes so important in practice. We find here that all the outward man finds its source in the inner man, and the inner man is formed by that which governs the heart.
Hence the all-importance of having Christ for the heart's object—yea, exclusive object. For nothing is more common than to have divided affections. Indeed, it is the great thing against which we all have to watch. Had we an eye more single, and a heart more thoroughly and self-judgingly devoted to Christ, what would be the consequence? The heart always gives direction, color, and energy to the judgment. There never would be a waver individually, and there would be nothing but peaceful walking together in the light of God, without slip or stumble of any kind. And this is the theory of a Christian. (Compare Philippians 1 and Colossians 1.) Practically there are difficulties. Who of us has not had to confess grievous failure and sin? Who has not had to say, I do not know what the mind of God is as to this or that? In a word, the understanding has been too often darkened, and the walk unlike Him whose we are. Of course they differ from what we have described here. But is it not a solemn thing that the Christian has to watch against the very same evil which denies and outrages the character and will of God, in souls that know Him not? And yet this is what we all have to feel and confess as to ourselves. How often we have been without divine light! This ought never to be in a saint. It never was so with Christ. He was the light; so that it would utterly fall short of His glory to say that He was always not only walking in the light, but according to the light. Consequently He never knew what it was to have a shade of doubt. If He waited, it was never doubt, but further knowledge of His Father's will, as in John 11 It may be our path to wait; and it is well to do so, when we have no such assurance. The development that follows is a description of the awful depravity of the Gentiles; as he says in the next verse, “Who, being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” No doubt it is the lowest moral degradation of which the life of man is capable. But the wholesome thing for us to see, and to apply for our own souls' help, and guidance and guard too, is that all the excesses of this outward evil were the result of the heart being darkened, and this because it was without God. There was nothing but what Satan drew from a man's own mind, and the consequence was the falsifying of his judgments and feelings. Hence men became a prey to every kind of evil. They had given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
But now comes the Christian in contrast. He says, (although we are in danger of all this, and the very sense of our danger is what God uses to keep us from falling into the danger) “Ye have not so learned Christ.” As all the practical evil of the Gentiles arose from their ignorance of God, the heart, the mind, the walk, all wrong, and increasingly evil; so now God's deliverance from all evil, root, branch, and fruit, is Christ. And what a blessed, simple, holy, God-glorifying deliverance it is! It is not that He enters into anything of the various processes He may use in leading to this result. Besides, Christ is the way, as well as the truth. The one grand means that applies to every case, and that gives the surest deliverance, is Christ Himself. “Ye have not so learned Christ.” He purposely makes Him to be the person who has to do directly with the soul. It is a remarkable way of connecting us with our Lord, though common in John, “My sheep hear my voice.” But here, where the union of the members with the Head and not life only, is the point insisted upon, we approach closely to the teaching of the elder; it is as if we listened to Christ ourselves. “If so be that ye have heard Him” —not about Him; they were taught by Him “as the truth is in Jesus.” Is there not great emphasis in this expression? It is not as the truth is in Christ. We all know that Jesus is Christ, and Christ is Jesus. But God never uses one word in vain. And I think that the difference is the greater because both are used. He first of all puts the word Christ— “Ye have not so learned Christ,” because there he brings the whole mass of my privilege before the soul. Christ is the special name, when I look at Him as the risen, exalted Man. In Him I have got my blessing. The word conveys to my mind the thought of One in whom all is concentrated as dead and crucified in heaven. Jesus is the personal name that He bears upon earth. The Spirit had been revealing, in previous chapters, the great name brought before us in Christ. But when he is about to speak of the practical knowledge which would apply to the duties of their walk here below he says, “If so be ye have heard Him and been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus.” There, I apprehend, he is more speaking of Him as that person who, in the eyes of men, as well as before God, was the blessed example of all light and purity in His ways here below. Thus, I conceive, any spiritual mind will at once appreciate what a blessed way it is of bringing it before our souls. He brings us to the living presentation of all that we have in Him; but we see it in the ways of that blessed Man, Jesus, here below. By the “truth that is in Jesus,” does he not mean the truth that we see and hear and know carried out in every word He said, in all His ways and obedience, and service, in every kind of suffering that He passed through on the earth; in His patience, in His earnestness, in His zeal for the glory of God, His tender care for those that belonged to God, and in His compassion for perishing sinners? And yet, look where you will, behold His intolerance of that which is contrary to God. All these, and infinitely more, we find in Jesus, and no where else in perfection.
It is only in the person of Jesus that you get all truth fully out. I may learn truth through the Holy Spirit, and He is the only power of my knowing the truth, and is therefore, I suppose, called “truth” in 1 John 5:6. Neither God, as such, nor the Father is ever called the truth; nor could it be. When you speak of the truth, you do not mean merely either the divine nature in its perfectness nor His person, “from whom cometh down every good gift.” But why is it that Jesus should be emphatically the truth? Jesus is the One who objectively has presented to me that which shows me the bearing and relationship of everything to God as well as to man. If I want to test any one thing, I never can arrive at its full character till I view it in connection with the person of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the truth subjectively, because no man can behold Jesus, to find the truth in Jesus, without Himself. The Holy Spirit is the revealer of Jesus; our own mind cannot see Him. Even the new man cannot of itself understand Jesus, or enter into the things of God. And you will observe how strikingly this was shown when the disciples themselves, already born of God, had to wait till the Lord opened their understandings to understand the Scriptures, and after that for power to act on them. After they were converted, they needed the power of the Spirit to enable them to apprehend the Scriptures. After that again they must wait for power to testify the truth from the Scriptures to others. They needed to have the power of the Spirit, distinct from the new nature, for the purpose of entering into the things of God. Mere human nature never understands the things of God, the new man does. But in order to do it, it must be led of the Spirit. The new man is characterized by dependence. The Holy Spirit acts in His own power. So that we do not merely need dependence upon God, but power from God in order to enter into the truth. I am not now speaking of being converted merely, but of the practical entering into the mind of Christ, and the ways of God as brought out in the ways of Jesus. Let me illustrate the value of the truth as it is in Jesus. Take any truth you like, as, for example, man. Where shall I learn the truth about man? Shall I look for it in Adam? a man that listened to his wife after she had listened to the devil? a man who, when God came down, ran away from Him, and even dared to insult God by laying the blame upon Him? Shall I look at his sons? at Cain, his firstborn, or at Abel whom Cain slew? What was so beautiful in Abel was what was of God, not what was of himself. If you pursue the history of man as such, you only find evil and pride and presumption increasing upon him, till you give up the whole tale in shame and disgust. And so it would all end, but for the Second Adam. I find here in every step that He took, in every word that He said, in everything that flowed from His heart and was reflected in His ways, One that never did His own will. Now I learn the beauty and the wonder of a man subject to God upon the earth—the only One who ever walked in perfect, moral dignity, though He was despised of all, and most of all hated by the religious leaders of the world of that day. But how did not God delight in Him? Here, then, the humbling truth is told. Man has shown himself thoroughly out. Jesus, the cross, tells the tale.
But supposing another instance: if I look up and think of God, where shall I, of a surety, find Him? In creation? It is all ruined; besides, to read Him only in the book of nature, is but to have glimpses of power and beneficence. But in the midst of all these large and shining characters of divine majesty, and wisdom, and goodness, scattered up and down through everything that He has made upon the earth, I should also have to face other characteristics of weakness, decay, suffering, death. The question arises, whence do these come? They are as crooked as the others were straight; the latter as full of misery as the former wore the impress of wisdom and power. The result of all is that for the mere reasoner in the vanity of man's mind, the understanding gets darkened; and all that can thus be learned even from the consideration of that which comes from the hand of God, completely fails to give the knowledge of Himself. I see the effects of another hand there as well as His own—the hand of a destroyer and liar; and instead of rising up from nature to nature's God, as poets vainly sing, you are apt to sink from nature to the devil that has ruined it all; you fall into the snares of the enemy by the effort to find out God in your own strength. I want some other way wherein to learn what God is. To gather an evidence of His being is one thing; to know Him is another. I can delight in anything that He has made, but what are His thoughts, feelings and ways, especially to a sinner?
If you talk about providence, Is there not an Abel suffering, and a Cain prosperous? Great deeds were done in the family of the proud murderer; while those who had whatever there was of the light of God, were disliked and scorned by the world; often weak in their own eyes too, but suffering and cast out wherever there was faith, by those who had it not. This is an impenetrable enigma to man. How can he, in the face of such facts, discern the superintending power of a God as conscience tells there is? Constant difficulties arise; and the reason is very plain—it is not in circumstances around, any more than in my own mind, that I can get the truth. Not that there are not traces and indications in providence as in creation; but I want the truth and cannot find it in either.
Then I may come down to the law. Does it give me the truth? In no way. It is not that the law was not good and holy, but it is never called, nor in itself could it be, the truth. Its design was more for making the discovery of man than of God. Its operation was that man might thereby learn what he is himself. It runs like a plowshare, when directed by the Spirit, into the heart, and lays bare many furrows, and discovers what man never knew was there before. But none of these things show what God is to man in grace. Not even the law can give the truth as to this. I cannot at all learn by it what a Saviour God is, nor even fully what man is. At the best it shows what a man ought to be, as well as do; but this is not the truth. What I ought to be is not God's truth but my duty. It was the standard for man in the flesh; and hence it never was given till man was a sinful man. The law was given by Moses, and not to or by Adam. The commandment laid upon Adam is never called the law, though, of course, it was a law.
Further, you will never find truth, even in the Bible, if you sever it from Jesus. But the moment the same blessed One, who has shown me in His own life and death, what man is, has also shown me in the very same what God is, then all the clouds break and the difficulties vanish. Now I know God, beholding Him in Jesus. New thoughts of God dawn on the soul, and, submitting to Him, I am made perfectly happy; perhaps not all at once, but as surely as my soul has received Jesus, and learned what the true God is in Jesus, I have eternal life, and shall find unbroken peace; but in Him I receive all that I want, all that God intends for my soul, because the truth is in Jesus. Thus, then, as a believer, I know God; I know that which the heathen never did nor could reach. Their understanding was darkened. Having no knowledge of Jesus, they had no full or saving means of knowing God. But this is precisely what the gospel brings close to every poor, needy soul that hears it now. And what is it then that I learn of God, when I look at the truth as it is in Jesus? I learn first this—a God that comes down to me, a God that seeks my soul to do me good, a God that can follow me with love, selfish as I am, and pity my ignorance, and not this only, but One that can instruct me, and is willing to do it, spite of my wilfulness and stupidity; in short, a most gracious and faithful God. He makes Himself known in Jesus. I find One who, after using other means, spent Himself in love upon me, that I might know Him; One who undertook to bear the judgment of my sins. For Jesus came and took all sins upon Himself for every soul that believes upon Him. I learn now that even the hateful self which has so refused and slighted Him, for this He has suffered, and completely dealt with it. It has been judged in the cross of Christ; and if my soul believes that God is good enough to do all this for me, to suffer all this for me, to take and bear the whole consequence upon Himself in the person of His beloved Son; if I see this and bow to it, and receive it from God, what can shake or harass my soul more? My sins? Certainly if anything ought to trouble my soul, they most of all. But what is the cross for? What has God done there? What has He told me in the gospel? If it was God revealing Himself in His beloved Son, if it was Jesus the Son of God that was made sin there, why should I have a single doubt or anxiety upon that score? All depends upon this: Have I bowed to what God has wrought and given me in the cross of Christ? If I am despairing about sin, it is in effect making the cross of Christ of none effect, and the work of Christ a vain thing. He has perfectly done His task, and I am entitled so to rest upon it, as to know that my sins never can come up against me more. Ought I not to be a happy man, and to rest in the most perfect peace because of what Jesus has done and suffered? Here faith can repose. Christ's death has such value in the mind of God that He loves to give this peace in consequence. Such is the truth as it is in Jesus. What a wonderful depth and breadth of truth there is, if you look at it thus! What a poor thing my own experience is, compared with the truth as it is in Jesus! Spiritual power is much more proved by discerning Jesus in others, than by measuring or comparing what people are in themselves, which, indeed, is far from wise. But yet what a disappointing thing it is to see Him merely as He is reflected in others! I must look at the truth as it is in Jesus: in what He was here below, as One who has shown me all through His life and up to His death what God is and man too, Himself the model-man.
In the same person of Jesus I alone see the full truth about anything at all. And you will find the value of this not merely in the great lessons of what God or man is, but if you have to do with any particular trial or difficulty, what is the one test of anything right or wrong? The truth as it is in Jesus. It is the power of using Jesus to meet that difficulty, and of seeing how His name bears upon it. He has expressed His will about it—where I am to be quiet, where I am to act, how I am to walk, and how to bear. He has given me an example that I should follow in His steps. And the greatest power of being like Jesus, depends upon the measure of spirituality we have in applying His name. I am still assuming that there is honesty of purpose, and that we desire to walk before one another as we are walking in truth before God ourselves. It is in proportion as we turn to Jesus and use Him, and view things in Him: this is the rule and spring of real spiritual power. It is this which constitutes a man a father in Christ. It was not the amount of zeal or of overcoming the world, or any great knowledge of this thing or that, but it is found in knowing Him. “I have written unto you fathers, because you have known Him that is from the beginning.” Who is that? Jesus. The knowledge of Jesus, then, is the practical power, strength, and wisdom of the Christian, and that which shows advance in the things of God. This, then, was what they had to learn, more or less. But to know it deeply, and so as to apply it and bring it out, was what specially characterized the fathers. Everybody talks in his own tongue. The dullest soul can use intelligibly the words of his vernacular language. But there is an immense difference between the capacities of different persons wielding their own tongue. It is not every one who can speak according to what the subject calls for. A man who has a mastery of the language proves it by applying it appropriately to all variety of subjects. So all saints must have laid hold more or less of the truth in Jesus, but then the power to use it well, to use it rightly, to bring it out on fitting occasions and turn it to profit for ourselves and others—this is the true secret of our progress in the things of God, and what tends to the blessing of souls and the helping on of the cause of God; so that the importance of it cannot be over-estimated.
Then we have stated to us the practical object of this: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts.” It is not a question of improvement. There is no bettering our old man. The heart may be purified by faith, but in itself it is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Faith may work the new life, and the Spirit; but the flesh never can be changed or renewed. And here we find what is to be done with our old nature: “That ye put off.” The apostle is speaking to Christians. They have the old man, and need practically to put it off. I must beware, remembering that I have still this incurably evil thing; accustomed to indulge its bad ways before conversion, and still tending to drag one, if unwatchful, into evil.
But now begins the positive part. “And that ye put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.” There is, first, the putting off the old man, the moral judgment of it, grounded on God's judgment in the cross of Christ definitively done with. Then comes the renewing of the mind, which we cannot have unless there is the judgment of the old. “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; that ye put on the new man which, after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” They had the new man of course; but it is the putting on the new man practically, the outward manifestation of the new man that was already within them. It is well to bear in mind that this is righteousness and holiness of the truth. It is the truth that produces it again. That is the full meaning of the expression.
Righteousness and holiness differ in this respect. Righteousness is the true perception and, of course, the walking in our relative duties as men of God; holiness is rather the rejection in heart and way, according to God's nature, of what is contrary to Him. Holiness, therefore, is a far more absolute thing than righteousness, which takes up what we owe relatively to God and man. It is in contrast with the first man. Adam was good as a creature, but there was no perception of what God was, and what evil was according to God. He did not then know sin; there was no evil to know. If you had talked about lust to Adam in the Garden of Eden, he must, I believe, have avowed his ignorance of what it meant. Therefore if the law had been given to Adam, “Thou shalt not covet,” he would not have comprehended its meaning, having no experience of it till afterward. We have hearts which like what we have not got, but Adam had not He was just a sample of creature—goodness in a man. It was not after God, created in the righteousness and holiness of the truth. God made man upright; but uprightness is a different thing from being created in holiness. Upright he was created, and innocent; but the new man is much more, knows right well, through the Spirit's teaching, what evil is and what God is. Adam only learned what good and evil are when he fell, never before; that is, he became conscious of a good that he lost, and that he was not; and of an evil that he had fallen into, which God hated and must judge. So when a man is brought to the truth as it is in Jesus, he knew good and evil before with a bad conscience, but now he knows it with a good (that is, purged) conscience. There is nothing that could make a conscience so good as the sacrifice of Jesus. Supposing that any of us were able to live without iniquity to the end of our days, would this make our conscience good? Not in the least. There would be always a bad conscience, because of the consciousness of past, unremoved, unforgiven sin. No human process, no giving us a new nature, can get rid of the evil we have done. The sacrifice of Christ has done it perfectly. My evil is there judged according to God. The evil of the old man is dealt with and gone before God. Christ rises from the dead and gives me His life, which is the new man. Christ in resurrection is the very source of the new man in my soul. If this be so, we must put off the old man. It is to faith a thing done with. Jesus has shown me it as a judged thing in His cross, and I must judge it, and must not allow my old pride and vanity and folly. I have it still within me, but I must not allow it, else I shall grieve the Lord, and bring myself under His hand. We have each of us to watch earnestly against the former conversation; but then it might be that a person might be enticed by an evil never fallen into before, because he imagined it was impossible for him so to fall. There is nothing so exposes one to fall, as the notion one could not so turn aside. It has often been the ruin of a Christian Man, as far as God's glory is concerned.
Thus, the new man is spoken of so as to bring out its contrast with what man was even in his best estate. Yea, Adam, when he came from the hand of God, could not be described in the terms of blessing which are true of every believer now. There is no such thing as restoring to an Adamic condition. A soul when converted now has the place of the Second man; and as He, the Lord, cannot fall, so the Christian has a life that never can be touched. It is as impossible for a Christian to be lost, as for Christ to be removed from the right hand of God; because He is the life of the Christian. If you say that people can fall away from grace, nothing is more certain than that they may. But if you mean by this, that the life of the Christian can perish, you flatly contradict the Word of God. It is a question, then, of understanding the Scriptures.
Christ Himself is the life of the Christian: can He fall? Thus it is a virtual denial of Christ Himself, that there should be a doubt allowed about it. All these exhortations are based upon this; that they had learned Christ, and knew the truth as it is in Jesus. They were already in this relationship, and upon this ground all Christian exhortations come. Is it even or ever a reasonable thing to talk about fruit till the plant has thoroughly taken root? It would be no use to talk to a baby about the duties of a man. The man must be there, as such, before you can expect to see the discharge of the duties of a man. And so with the Christian, before you can rightly insist on the duties of a Christian. But, now that the truth as it is in Jesus is known, you must not allow the old man. He is speaking of practical fruit and walk, because of already being in Christ, and knowing the truth in Him. This ought always to be a great encouragement to a soul. Even if God is exhorting me to self-judgment, it always supposes my previous blessing as a possessor of life everlasting. It is on this ground that God, as it were, thus addresses us; Is it possible that when I have done so much for you, you can be so careless of My will? It is to touch the spring of grace in the soul, in order that we may go on with Him and do His will.
Now He presses upon them some of the results. “Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” As they had learned the truth in Jesus, the shame of falsehood was the more manifest. What is the ground that we have here? We are too apt to take falsehood rather upon the human basis of honor. Many a man would not do it on moral grounds; or he would be too proud to tell a lie; and he that had a certain sense of the fear of God before his eyes, would not do it, because it was a practical denial of God. It is as good as saying that God does not hear. So that whether you look at a mere man in his natural pride, or at a godly man, like a Jew, there you have the ground on which each would act. But this is not enough for a Christian. It is of great importance for our souls, not only that we should walk well and righteously, but that the motive, character, and extent, should be according to God too. Not only is this exhortation necessary, but there is that coupled with it which we rarely think of in our intercourse one with another: we are here exhorted to speak truth every man with his neighbor, “for we are members one of another.” It is looking at Christians only. None but such are members evidently. He wants to connect with Christ the most common duty, which we are in danger of putting upon a lower basis, and the ground be takes is this—that it is as preposterous and uncomely for a Christian not to tell the plain simple truth to a brother Christian, as for a man to deceive himself. They are part of ourselves. “We are members one of another.” Do we realize this? If we did, what would be the effects? Assuredly, one would be perfect plainness in dealing with that which is wrong; another would be a real, hearty desire to set right those who are wrong. It is evident that we could not wish to injure ourselves. And if I regard another as a part of myself, I ought to act towards them accordingly. In the same way, also, we ought to feel what is contrary to God in another. And as one would greatly desire, if awakened to feel one's own sin, to go to God about it, and have our souls set right there, so it should be in having to do one with another. The deeper realizing of this truth would give a stronger desire for the well-being of our fellow Christians. And yet if it is to be in accordance with God's glory, it is not merely that we should judge what is wrong, but that we should seek to get what is right and according to God. We are apt, where persons have been, for instance, put away from fellowship, to think only of getting rid of the evil; but I do not find this where the membership one of another is felt and owned in the presence of God. Even where it comes to the extreme degree of so dealing with one whom we had believed to be a member of the body of Christ, the end of all discipline is to remove the evil, in order that that which is of Christ may shine forth.
“Be ye angry and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” I take this to be a most important and holy intimation for our souls. There is a notion often that it is wrong for a Christian ever to feel displeased or angry. This and other Scriptures show it may be right. But we must take care what the source, as well as the character, of the anger is. If it is merely about something that affects self, and it therefore takes the form of vindictiveness, this is, of course, beyond a doubt, contrary to all that is of Christ. We find in Him, (Mark 3,) that He looked round about upon certain persons with anger, and showed clearly He had the strongest feeling of that which was contrary to God. It was not merely that He denounced the thing, but the people who were guilty of it. I find the same analogy in the epistles. We are told not only to cleave to that which is good, but to abhor that which is evil. Man's thought is that it is not for a Christian to judge and to be angry with what is wrong. The word of God tells us there are certain things we ought to judge and others we ought not. I am not to judge what is unseen; I am to judge positive, known evil. There we have plainly and clearly the line drawn by God. You will find that men say, if you speak strongly about the wrong of this thing or that, you are uncharitable. But not so; it is real charity to denounce it, not to let it pass. True love as to this consists in always having the feelings of God about what comes before us. That is the one question. What God has fellowship with, we can have fellowship with; and what God hates, we are not to love or allow. But we must take care that we are in the intelligence of God's mind. “Be ye angry and sin not.” There is the greatest possible danger of sinning if you are angry, and therefore is this added. The simple emotion of anger toward one who has sinned, may and ought to be a holy feeling, provided it rests there. And so it is if felt in God's presence.
But how am I to know that I am not sinning in my anger? “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” If there is irritation kept up in the spirit, impatience, dislike or scorn betrayed, who cannot see that it is not of God? When the sun goes down, it is a time either for your peaceful communion with God, or your indulgence of resentment away from Him. Therefore it is added, “Neither give place to the devil.” Where there is the nursing of wrath, the keeping up of grievances in the mind, Satan easily comes in, and is not easily dislodged.


(John 11:25-27 1 Cor. 15)
There are two very distinct ways in which resurrection is viewed in Scripture, not only in the person of Christ, but also as affecting us. In the first portion that was brought before us, (1 Cor. 15:20-28,) we have one of these aspects, and in the verses just read, and still more in John 5, and elsewhere, we have the other. Now it is exceedingly comforting to our hearts to know this kind of twofold witness that the grace of God has given us to the blessed manner in which He has secured our title. But I refer to it, not merely as a question of our title, but of Christ's glory; for we are here to exalt His name. And there is no one way in which He more shines out, and the glory of God in Him, than in the character of the raiser of the dead. In John's gospel it is presented thus—He is the Son; He is life, everlasting life; and as we read in the epistle, “He is the eternal Life that was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.” Before there was any creature, He was with the Father, and in Him was life. Death consequently had no power, and yet we know that He came to die. But in this point of view, He came to show the triumph of the power of the life that was in Him over that death which He was pleased to undergo. So that we could not know the special character and power of the life that was in Christ, not merely unless others had died, but unless He had died Himself. And it is in this way that St. John loves to regard it, and was led by the Holy Ghost to do so. Hence, as our Lord Himself said, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And so again, when He was not thus speaking figuratively, (though we have the Holy Ghost's own interpretation of the figure,) in the well-known passage in John 10, where He shows that as the good Shepherd He was about to lay down His life, and to lay it down for the sheep. Again, He tells us that He lays it down that He might take it again. Now, there He speaks as the conscious Son of God, who had such power of life in Himself, that death was only met to be forever defeated.
And the truth of this appears both in John 5 and in chapter 10. In chapter v. death is viewed as taking its course. We are told there that as truly as now we have the words of the Son of God, and we believe in Him that sent Him, and receive His testimony about His beloved Son, so truly we have life, everlasting life. Nor is this, as He shows, to be marveled at, because the hour is coming when it will be so proved; when it will be no longer a matter of faith for our souls to rejoice in, but when it will be evident to every eye: in His own words, “the hour is coming, when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and “shall come forth,” &c. It is the all-important thing for soul and body; for soul now, for body then. “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment.” There, death's force is not shown us as so completely broken, but what at first sight it might appear that the saints were all obliged to submit themselves to it, in some shape or other. So that a further revelation of the truth of God was necessary in order to bring out the full power of the life that was in Christ; and He has given it us in the verses that were read from chapter 11. There, says the Lord, “I am the resurrection and the life.” So that it was simply the question of His own will, and of the purpose of God, though He came to do His will, and He only put forth that power at God's bidding. “I am the resurrection and the life.” The full power of victory over death was in Him. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Observe, that in all this there is no thought of the work of Christ, no presenting His sufferings, no allusion whatever to His manhood, He speaks solely and simply as a divine person. And before the power and glory of His person, death must disappear. Whoever believed in Him—whoever heard His voice—shared the blessing that flowed from the glory of His person. Death was defeated in principle. This was true now for faith, and it will be proved true by and by. He has only to come, and whoever then lives and believes in Him will never die. Death for such, was completely gone.
But, moreover, in 1 Cor. 15 we have another and an equally beautiful view which our souls need to keep along with the other. And here comes to view the utter ruin of those who receive this eternal life, and who are destined to be raised out of their grave to share the glory of everlasting life with Christ; or who, if living, will be taken up at once without passing through death at all, for the participation of His quickening power. Those that so rise were sinners; they were lost sinners, they were guilty and dead. What can meet this? It is blessed and glorious to know that Christ can meet it. But how has He done it? He has become a man. It was man that wronged God. It would not be a sufficient answer to God that He Himself as such should come down in power, and put an end to all the sin and misery that is in the world. It is no question of power, but there was more that was needful, according to the counsels of God. He has deigned to become man; and thus it is man is now the very vessel and object of the thoughts and counsels of God. Man is no longer the object of the judgment of God merely, but the scale is turned, and in and through Jesus man is the blessed object of the favor of God; man now is what He is occupied with, and it is in man that the great scene is being wrought out before all heaven. No doubt the great secret of it is that blessed Man who is on the throne; and on the throne as the One that was humbled and suffered here. But He owns the relationship He has with us that are here in all our weakness, and trouble, and difficulties. In all our sorrowing, toiling course, His heart is toward and with us. He is there in glory, yet He owns us fully here. How different is this from our spirit who love to think of something that will exalt ourselves, that is, or looks great, something that is outside us, yet connected with our own power, or honor, or worthiness! But what Jesus owns is His tie with us, and with us in the hour of our greatest weakness. We are here slowly going onwards, very slowly. We walk here most unworthily of Him; but He recognizes us fully, and, besides, has given us the joy of knowing that in that very nature where we feel our weakness which wrought ruin and was so rebellious against God, and which is still seeking to drag us down and bring in vanity and folly, in this very nature, and in nothing so much, though, of course, without its taint and evil condition, has Jesus brought all honor to God. The divine nature needed nothing. No testing was required there. But He became a man as perfectly as he who sinned and died: and “as by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” And thus it is that He has shown us now, not merely that He is a divine person who has this life that baffles and destroys death, but that as man He has done it. He won a title for us in that death in which He bore the judgment of our sin and put it away. But He is risen, and therefore we come together not on the day of the death—that showed our shame, and sin, and ruin, though we do remember Him there—but on the day of His resurrection. But what we have here now, is not merely that as a divine person He raises Himself, (He does not raise Himself as a man,) but it is as a divine person, that we read in John: that He had power to lay down His life and had power to take it again; but as man, God raises Him. And there comes in the righteousness part. It is a question of God being true to that blessed One who had brought such honor to Him through His life and death; and therefore it would not have been according to the glory of God if He had raised Himself as man. It was a part of God's righteousness, so to say, who has an obligation, by reason of the work of Christ: and therefore there is this discharge of it—God must raise. There is the first act of the righteousness of God. He could not leave His Son in the grave. He sets Him at His own right hand, and has brought us into the joy of knowing that we shall be with Him there. And, O, that during the little time of waiting for Him, our ways, our lives, our heart, may be true to Jesus. We have not many more opportunities of glorifying and serving Him. We have, alas! and easily, the sad opportunity of dishonoring Him. It takes a little while, a very little moment, to put our shame and dishonor on Jesus. And we have but a little while. Oh, may it be turned to the praise of His name. And may we treat the world, not as an enjoyable scene, or a place where there is anything to desire, but as a system that is crucified to us through the cross of Christ. Has the Lord given us deliverance from sin and from hell, that we may be happy in this present evil world? Does His cross warrant the thought, that we may seek to enjoy Christ and the world too? Does not “the whole world” lie in wickedness, yea, in that wicked one who led it on to cast Him out and crucify Him? A baser desire, or a more impossible one, never entered the heart of a believer, than to love Christ and the world at the same time. And let us remember, that it is not only in great things that the world may become a snare to us. Its spirit may enter in the mere things we put on ourselves or our children; in the least matters we desire, allow, or cultivate. Do not suppose that we have to beware of the gross world only. Of course we have to keep ourselves clear from that at all cost; at the cost, if it must be so, of a right hand or a right foot. Better go maimed with the Lord, than the whole body be cast into hell. And if souls deliberately turn away from Christ to the world, what possible ground is there to think that they have any part or lot with Christ? It is one thing to slip and hate oneself for it; it is a very different thing to abandon the Lord and Savior because present things are preferred. We may see a poor soul with strong prejudices and feeble intelligence walking in the world and even in its worst form, the religious world; and yet we may trust that the heart is with Christ. Doubtless such have been found where Satan's throne is; and even Jezebel, the false prophetess, plies her cruel and adulterous trade, that is, even in Popery. But this marks them in spite of their ignorance, and their false position—whoever is born of God seeks after the height of his faith, and clings to the truth, to the best of his light. Are we perverting the truth to our own self-destruction? or cleaving to the Lord for His glory and for our soul's good? I do not say that in every single act a person does thus walk; but this is the character of every one that is born of God, “he doth not commit sin.” And as to persons who deliberately allow that which they know to be contrary to the Lord as their character and course of action, there is no eternal life there. There are none so blessed, but none in such danger, if the Lord has caused the light of His glory to shine upon us. If He has shown us Christ as the victorious man—victorious over death and every enemy—He has done it that we should witness for Him in increasing devotedness and in growing power against the flesh, the world, and every enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord make and keep us faithful, but in the dust.

Exodus 28

THE apostle says, “Moses made all things according to the patterns showed to him in the mount;” and again, these “things were patterns of the heavenly things.” The doctrines themselves are in the New Testament; the details of things connected with them are in the types.
Priesthood supposes accomplished redemption: not to bring us in, but what we get when brought in. “See how I have borne you on eagles' wings, and brought you to myself,” the Lord says to Israel. As a people, they were brought to God, but a feeble and infirm people, they needed this help by the way. We are brought by redemption into the light as God is in the light; but down here we want His priesthood to maintain our walk before Him in the light. The priest is clothed in special garments. These garments are merely figures of that which is real in Christ, in the exercise of His priesthood. That which was peculiarly the priest's garment, was the ephod. “Doeg turned and fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons who did wear a linen ephod.” David “inquired of the ephod,” &c. This ephod was made of two pieces: one before and one behind. There were two shoulder pieces, joined at the two edges, a girdle wound round the body to confine it; above that, a foursquare-double, to be a breastplate, containing the names of the children of Israel. There was to be a holy miter on the head, and upon the skirt of the ephod the bell and the pomegranate.
All was connected with His people in the priests' garments. If it is the breastplate, the names are engraved in it. If it is the shoulder piece, the names of the children of Israel are there. If it is the Urim and Thummim, the names of the children of Israel are there. Again I say, it was not to acquire righteousness, but to maintain their cause before God. He is there, acting before God on the people's behalf. It is not that we have to get some one to go to God for us. Christ is there for us; and grace is exercised, not because we return, but to bring us back. It is not said, “If any man repent,” but, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” The love Christ exercises about us springs directly from Himself. With Peter, it was not after he had fallen that Christ says to him, “I have prayed for thee,” but before. His intercession for Peter was going on all the time; and it is because of our getting wrong, not because we are right, that it is exercised. Our feebleness and failure become the occasion for the exercise of this: grace. When the intercession of Christ answers in the way of warning, chastening is not needed. Christ looked upon Peter, and it was before Peter wept. The look was just at the right moment. We know not what Peter might have done next, but the look causes him to weep.
The priest goes to God for us, not we to the priest. Righteousness and propitiation are there already, and by virtue of His being there, and being what He is there, He can set them right.
Priesthood is Christ undertaking the cause of His people, through the wilderness, maintaining us in the presence of God; keeping us in God's memory, so to speak— “For a memorial.” This is a different thing from His shepherd character, strengthening the sheep down here; but it is sustaining them according to the power of inward grace before God. He bears them all in a detailed way, each by name, engraved. As a shepherd He calleth His sheep; but also, according to our particular individuality, He bears us on His heart and shoulders. God looks upon us according to the favor He has for Christ Himself. If a person sends his child to me, I receive it according to the affection I have for the father. The priest was there in the garment proper to his office.
When we think of Christ as a priest, we should have in remembrance our individual imperfectness. In one sense we are perfect, but that is in our membership with Him—union with Him our Head.
The breastplate was never to be separate from the ephod. (ver. 28). “That the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod.” Whenever the high priest went into the presence of God, it was in his garments. He could not go without representing the people. It is impossible for Christ to stand there in the presence of God without us.
The girdle was a sign of service: it is the characteristic of a person in service. Christ is a servant forever. When He became a man, He took upon Him the form of a servant. He might have asked for twelve legions of angels, and gone out free; but then. He would have gone out alone. No! He says, I have got my work to do, my wife to care for. And thus He chose to be a servant forever. He became a servant when incarnate, but He was bound a servant forever when He gave up His life. (Ex. 21) Yes, and He will be the servant; for “He shall gird Himself, and will make them sit down to meat, and came forth to serve them.” His divine glory never changes, of course; but He will never give up this character of servant: forever and ever we shall have this “first-born of many brethren,” this new Adam head of the family.
Verse 29. “Aaron shall bear the names,” &c. Whatever value the Priest has in God's sight, He brings it down upon them. He bears them on His heart. All the love that Christ has for them, He bears them before God, according to this love. Then in answer they get whatever they need: it may be chastening, it may be strength. He obtains for us all the blessings we need, according to the favor that God bears Him. There is not only the personal favor, but the Urim and Thummim, the ground of their favor, which is in God Himself. The blessing is, given according to the light and perfections of God, (the meaning of the words being light and perfections.) He bears our judgment according to the light and perfections of God. That is where we are as regards daily judgment. We walk in the light as God is in the light: and as we want cleansing, there is the blood. If I commit a fault, what then; am I condemned? No, because Christ the righteous One is there; but then God must deal with an individual according to this light and perfections. He deals with us according to our need and weakness. He will make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear, because Christ is there. He deals with us just where we are, taking into His account our standing as to grace, of course. When they have to learn things of God, it is by the Urim and Thummim also. It is according to the light and perfections of God that He instructs and guides me.
The feebleness, failings, and infirmities, instead of being the occasion of condemnation to me, are the occasion of instruction. The names He is bearing are those for whom there is no wrath. Christ bears Peter on His breast, and He does not pray that he should not be sifted, because He saw the self-sufficiency of Peter needed to be broken down—but He bore him on His heart, and obtained for him the thing he needed, that his faith fail not. His priesthood is exercised for me, in putting my heart in a right position before God, (not on account of wrath,) and He bears us continually before the Lord.
There is reference here to another thing we have in virtue of Christ having gone up on high—the Holy Ghost. He received of the Father the gift of the Holy Ghost. He received it alone, in virtue of His finished work—His accepted work; but we, the skirts of His garments, get it shed upon us. (Psa. 133). The bell and the pomegranate may signify the gifts, testimony and fruit of the Holy Ghost, when Christ went into heaven, and when He will come forth again. “And his sound shall be heard when he goeth into the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not.” The miter is “holiness unto the Lord,” and it was to be always upon his forehead.
It is not only when I have failed that Christ intercedes for me, but in holy things; when I go up to worship God, there comes in something that cannot suit the holiness of God—something that has not a bit of sanctified feeling in it; a distracting thought, admiration of fine music, &c., and this for want of habitual communion with the Lord. Well, then, can I say I have failed, and let it go? There is holiness in Christ for our worship. True, we ought not to be satisfied without the full tide of affection going up to Him from us; but we are accepted because of His holiness. The iniquity cannot be accepted, but it never goes up. The Christian is always accepted, because in Christ. I may always go to God, because of the continual priesthood exercised. Christ bears my failures that they may be judged; my weakness, that I may get strength; but His heart is always engaged for us. Not merely the abstract love of God for us, which is always true, but this love of Christ ever ready for our necessities. There is evil that wants correction, but He will not put us out of His sight for it: but because you are accepted, He will remedy it.
The object of it all is that our souls should be up there with Christ, walking according to the perfectness of God Himself. When we see Christ for us there, we can venture to apply this light and perfection to our ways. How He has provided for us in love and holiness, for holiness we see stamped in great letters upon it! He is the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. The sinner wants the Apostle, the message from God about acceptance. The saint wants the High Priest.

The Washing of Water

(John 13)
The display of the grace in Christ did not hinder the wickedness in Judas, and the display of Judas' wickedness did not hinder the Lord's grace.
The Lord was about to leave His disciples, but He was going to be their servant, and to make them clean. Though He was going to be so near to God, He must go on serving them—not in being with them down here at the board, but in the Father's house. He would give them a place with Him, and He must do that which was needful to enable them to have communion and comfort. Thus, though He was going away, they would have still greater blessing. He not only would bear with our manners down here, but make us fit to be with Him where He is. This washing is for communion, not justification. For justifying the blood was needed; water here. The body is washed with water, (Heb. 10,) referring to regeneration. But this is not that washing, it is only the feet. He is not our servant any more to shed blood; which is done once for all; but feet-washing is for communion. The laver before the tabernacle aims symbolical of the same thing.
For communion there must not be a spot upon you, and therefore the continual need of feet-washing as we pass through this world. (ver. 7.) They did not understand it then, but they did when the Holy Ghost is given; and we do understand it now.
None can wash another for God. It must be Christ Himself. You must have the word of Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost, to help another in this matter. Man's word is not enough. Man's word is no better than man's word. God's word is God's word.
He that has been bathed as a priest needs not to be washed again altogether; but his feet touch the world and he becomes defiled. Christ, as a priest, washes them. We, too, have priestly duties.
The sin of Judas was so black because it was in the presence of grace. There was a constant incessant hardening in the presence of Jesus. He took the money that grace gave the Lord, to live upon, and he went on and on till he came to the point where grace was most fully manifested. Then his wickedness comes to the highest point. Satan enters into him; he goes and kisses Him when he had betrayed Him; he uses the familiarity grace had given him with Christ to betray Him. See him in the garden of Gethsemane. It is not like Peter who was rash, and drew his sword—but in Judas it was a constant, steady process of hardening. The Lord gives the sop out of His own dish—a proof of friendship, and to whom?
When the wickedness of Judas is fully out, then the glory of Christ is without veil. There was time when obedience was so shown, and when love was so shown, as when He gave Himself up (ver. 81.): not only the fact, but the depth of the work of grace. Because He bore our sins, He is the Son of man at the right hand of God.
“God shall straightway glorify Him.” He must go directly, but He will come again, to display His glory in the world. We anticipate the glory in which we shall be manifested; and He must take away from us all that is inconsistent with that glory into which He has entered, and for which we wait. This is signified by the washing the disciples' feet; and it is because we “are clean” that we need it. We never get particular cleansing until we are clean every whit. Now He is girded as our servant, to maintain our communion. We are looked upon as in heaven because seated in Christ who is there—one with Him there; but our members are down here on the earth, and it is these which need to be mortified.


In No. 92, p. 2, col 1. line 7, read “xxvii.” for “xvii.”
„ p. 9, col. 1, line 31, read “from but as” for “from that as.”
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FAGS Notes on Isaiah—Chap. i. -iv. 33
Remarks on the Gospel of Mark Chap. i. 40-45 35
Priesthood (Ex. 29) 37
“Peace—My Peace” 89
FAGS “His Foundation” (Psa. 87) 40 Remarks on Ephesians—Chap.
iv. 28-30 42
On Col. 1:12-22 45
Original Sin, and Christianity 47

Notes on Isaiah 1-4

There is no doubt that the Holy Ghost treats of Israel, more particularly of Judah and Jerusalem, throughout the visions of Isaiah. Often, it is true, we hear of judgments on, sometimes of divine grace toward, the Gentiles; and this last not merely when Israel shall be the center of blessing for the earth, but even while, as now, the Jews are set aside for a season. Still it is certain from the express language of the prophet, that the book, as a whole, applies to God's ancient people, and not to the Church of the firstborn.
Nevertheless, all Scripture being alike from God, we shall find the most precious instruction here as elsewhere, humbling lessons for the heart of man, and on God's part unfailing mercy, goodness, and patience, but withal solemn, sure judgment of all evil. Everywhere and at all times God's glory shines out to the eye of faith, as it will to “every eye” in a day which hastens fast. But the only wise God has been pleased to bring out His mind and display His ways in a variety of forms, which create no small perplexity to the narrow mind and unready heart of man. Some are apt to forget the past, as if the revelation of present privilege were all; many more would merge the actual calling of God in a vague amalgam, in an unintelligent monotony, which confounds Israel and the Church, law and gospel, earth and heaven, grace and glory.
Doubtless, now that the Son of God has appeared, it is meet that we should hear Him; and it is vain to talk of knowing the law and prophets, Moses or Elias, if He have not the central and supreme place in our hearts. And it is to hear Him, if we believe that the Spirit of truth is come to guide into all truth; much of which even apostles could not bear, till redemption was accomplished and the Son of man ascended where He was before. It is due, therefore, to the New Testament that we should look for our special portion there, the revelation of that mystery which was hid from ages and from generations. But we cannot forget, without dishonor to God and loss to our souls, that there are certain moral principles which never change, any more than God can act or speak beneath Himself, whatever may be His condescension to the creature. Thus, obedience is always the right pathway for the faithful, and holiness is inseparable from the new nature; but then the character of the obedience and the depth of the holiness necessarily depend on the measure of light given of God and the power of the motives He reveals for working on the heart. What was allowed in Levitical time and order is largely out of place now if we heed the Savior's authority. And this is at least as strikingly true of the public worship and service of God as of private life and duty. In many measures and in many modes He spoke in the prophets to the fathers; now He has spoken in the person of His Son. Hence, unbelief assumes the character of resistance to the fullest love, light, authority, and grace, revealed in Him who is the image of the invisible God—Himself God over all, blessed forever, while the faith which has bowed to Him thus displayed, loves to hear the earlier oracles and to reflect the true light which now shines, along with the fainter but equally divine luminaries which pierced through the darkness of man's night; for all the blessed promises of God are now verified in Christ.
In the prophecy before us God is still dealing with the people as a body; and, therefore, He pleads with them because of their iniquities, setting forth a full, searching, and even minute portraiture of their evil ways. For if prophecy encourages the faithful by the sure word of coming blessing from the Lord, it casts a steady, convicting light on the actual state of those who bear His name; its hopes strengthen those who bow to its holy sentences. Hence, if handled in a godly, reverent manner, it never can be popular, though notions drawn from it and used excitingly may be so. But the Spirit addresses it to the conscience in God's presence, and there is nothing man more shrinks from. Indeed this is the character of prophesying (1 Cor. 14) in a measure, as well as of prophetic Scripture; and the Corinthian preference of the more showy sign-gifts told the tale of their own moral condition.
Need I point out particularly how Isa. 1 illustrates the foregoing remarks? What an expostulation on the part of God! Heaven and earth are summoned to hear His complaint against His guilty people. The dullest of their own beasts of burden put them to shame. In vain had the largest favors been shown them: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Equally vain had been His chastisements. (Ver. 5-9). Land, cities, inhabitants, all was in the prophet's vision a waste and ruin through sin, with the merest remnant shielded from destruction.
Has not this a voice for us? It is not only that the Church of God began to be called out and formed when all was a failure—man, Israel, the world, judged morally in the cross; but, besides, for us, the house of God is in disorder, the last time of many antichrists is long since come. The Christian witness has more deeply and widely departed from God than the Jewish one, and in spite of immensely greater privileges. What remains but judgment for the mass, with the reserve of grace for those who humble themselves under God's mighty hand? Does this produce hardness of feeling? On the contrary, a spirit of intercession is the invariable companion of a holy heed to prophecy, the offspring, both of them, of communion with God. He loves His people too well to look with indifference on their sin, of all men; He must vindicate His outraged majesty; and those who are in the secret of His mind cannot but go forth in importunate desire for the good of souls and the glory of the Lord. But real love has no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; rather does it reprove them. Neither does that love which is of God measure sin as nature does, but feels first and most of all that which slights the Lord Himself.
As to Israel, they were worse than the heathen, as bad as the worst. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.” It was not that they lacked zeal in religion; it was not that they did not seek a remedy for the evident pravities of their day. But their remedies were worse than useless. (Ver. 10-15.) If they approached the doom of Sodom, morally they were Sodom, and their sacrifices, feasts, and assemblies odious to the Lord, who refused to hear their prayers. There was no real repentance, no trembling at His word.
Yet the Lord deigns to call them to repentance, and the fruits suited to it, promising to help them if they were broken down and obedient, and threatening to devour them by the sword if they refused. The universal corruption is then laid bare; and, finally, the Lord shows He must deal with His adversaries, as well as Himself restore Zion, when idols and their makers perish together under His mighty hand.
We have already seen that, though the people are assured of the blessing of God, if truly repentant, the prophet shows that judgment must be executed first on the wicked: then shall Zion be redeemed of the Lord. Chapter 2 follows this up and predicts thereon, not only the restoration of their judges as at the first, and Jerusalem, called the city of righteousness, but the mountain of the Lord's house exalted and all nations flowing unto it; “for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not rise against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Ver. 3, 4.)
This is plain, if we are simple. Abandon the context, blot out, if you will, the fact that this portion is prefaced as the word that Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem,” and all is confusion. No doubt, to apply these glorious terms to the feeble remnant's return from the Babylonish captivity refutes itself. But the views of many Christians are not less untenable. What, for instance, can exceed the poverty of Theodoret's scheme? He tries to find an answer in the flourishing unity of the Roman empire when our Lord first appeared, and the conquered races that composed it being no longer at war but engaged in agriculture and in the unhindered (!) diffusion of the gospel far and wide. Yet I know nothing better in the attempts of men since, unless the Popish interpretation be thought more homogeneous, inasmuch as it is all supposed to be verified in the Catholic church; or unless the interpretation of others be preferred, which makes it all mystical, and imagines its accomplishment in the unbroken oneness and peace of all believers, in their perfect holiness, and their entire subjection to the Scriptures, whether on earth in the midst of truth, or, as some think, in heaven, when every conflict is over.
Take it now in its natural import, and all difficulties vanish. When judgment has done its work, Zion shall be the fountain of divine blessing for all nations, and the center to which they shall gather, when universal peace prevails, and Jehovah shall be king over all the earth. The contrast of all this, the Lord predicted, should go on till the end of the age. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Such are the evident facts now. By and by, when the new age dawns under Messiah's earthly reign, (Rev. 11:15,) “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” It will be an order of things of which the world has had no experience, and if the casting away of Israel were the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (Rom. 11) The flowing of all nations unto Zion cannot mean the gathering out of them, which Scripture speaks of as the Church of God, even if there were not a divine judgment executed on all (and the Jews especially) before that, and if this era of peace, and blessing, and Messianic rule were not coincident with the supremacy of Israel, which supposes a condition wholly distinct from that of the Church, wherein there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christ is all and in all.
That which follows strongly confirms the reference to the future blessing and glory of Israel under the new covenant, and the King who shall reign in righteousness; for the prophet, (chap. 2 5,) after that happy picture, invites the house of Jacob to come and dwell in the light of the Lord. Then, speaking to Jehovah, he owns why He had forsaken His people, instead of setting them on high, even because they were replenished from the east with all that man covets and worships. Their sin was unpardonable. Lastly, he calls on them to hide in the dust because of the day of the Lord, which undoubtedly has not yet fallen on the pride and idolatry of man. The passage needs only to be read in a believing, reverent spirit to convince a fair mind, that neither Nebuchadnezzar nor Titus, nor the gospel has anything to do with accomplishing the all-embracing judgment of man which is there portrayed.
But universal as the prostration of human pride shall be, chapter 3 indicates that most crushingly shall the blow fall on Jerusalem and Judah, and this not only in their public, political life, but minutely and searchingly on the daughters of Zion in all their haughty littleness of vain show. So complete would be the desolation, that the dearth of men is described as exposing women to a boldness contrary to female modesty. But this time of tribulation is followed by an outshining of beauty and glory, and abundant mercy for the saved and holy remnant. (Chap. 4) Even as the cloudy pillar once covered the tabernacle of the divine presence, so the Lord will create on every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and on her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defense. To attempt to refer to the gospel these revelations of coming glory for Israel, after purging trial, is in the highest degree a distortion of scripture: During the present dispensation they are enemies for our sakes, as regards the gospel, while, as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. When that day comes, the fullness of the Gentiles shall have come in, and so all Israel shall be saved. It is a total change from this day of grace to judgment-day, whatever the mercy of God to the rescued out of Israel and the nations: “In that day shall there be one Jehovah and His name one.” It is the deliverance, not the destruction of the still groaning creation. “All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem; and it shall be lifted up and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's wine-presses.” It is not the past nor the present; it is not the eternal state but the millennium. It is an epoch of glory when the Lord will hear the heaven; and they shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and they shall hear Jezreel. Divine judgment shall have washed away the guilt of Zion, and the glory shall return more blessedly than at the first and forever. What can contrast more with our day of suffering grace?

The Unity of Christ's Body

The unity of Christ's body being the ground assumed, all Christians have, in principle, a title to be there, the Lord's name being maintained as to doctrine and discipline. If you insist on a certain standard of intelligence beyond Christ, before receiving them, you prove that you are not intelligent, and you abandon your own (i.e. God's) principle. At the same time, it is all well that young converts should wait; it would do them no harm. The great requisite for receiving, is satisfaction as to membership of the body of Christ...the principle is “one body and one Spirit;” the resource, now that all is confusion and inconsistency, is Matt. 18:20. J. N. D

Remarks on Mark 1:40-45

Before we speak of the cleansing of the leper, let us consider a little the structure of our Gospel as compared with the others. A close inspection will soon satisfy the reader that Mark follows the order of the facts, as does John, with a very slight exception, so far as he gives us an historical account. Neither Luke nor Matthew adhere to the obvious successional, order of events: the former, with a view to developing the moral bearings of the facts, recorded the real condition of man and the admirable resources of divine grace; the latter, so as to manifest more vividly the change of dispensation consequent on the rejection of the Messiah. This, I believe, to have been the aim of the Holy Spirit in their Gospels respectively, without pretending to say how far the authors may have entered into the far-reaching purposes of God in their own inspired writings. In general, the character of the New Testament inspiration is intelligent communion with the mind of God, and not an instrumental medium only, as was the case ordinarily with the Jewish prophets. (1 Peter 1) The great question, however, is as to God's intention; and He looked to the permanent instruction and blessing of His Church through the written word.
Difference there is, frequent and grave, between the various presentations of the Lord in the Gospels; and this both in the order of the narratives and in the manner in which the separate circumstances and discourses are brought before us. To what are we to attribute these constantly varying shades? Is it to the mere infirmity of good men, who did as well no they could, but could not be expected absolutely to tally, as even the best and ablest will disagree in their thoughts, feelings, apprehensions, and judgments? Or, on the contrary, are we to attribute these seeming discrepancies not to man's weakness but to God's wisdom? And are we reverently to ponder their every divergence from one another, as no less fraught with truth than their evident unisons? Not that we would for a moment forget that in the books of Scripture we have the beautiful maintenance of the individual style and manner of the writers. But let us all and always remember, that individuality sustained is a very distinct thing from error allowed, and that divine inspiration neither admits error nor destroys individuality.
That there are numerous and striking differences in the Gospels is plain to all but the most careless reader; that these differences are divinely given, and not the flaws of oversight, is equally certain to the believer. To confess the inspiration of the evangelists, and withal to attribute to the Gospels mistake of any kind, is to deceive oneself as well as sin against God. Inspiration is no more inspiration if it be compatible with error. To account for the shades of difference, to show how necessary, and reasonable, and divinely perfect they all are, is another matter, and depends on our measure of spiritual understanding and power; but no Christian ought to hesitate for an instant as to resenting every impeachment of the word of God. Now God has taken care that of the writers of the Gospels, two (Matthew and John) should be apostles, and two (Mark and Luke) not, though all, of course, are alike inspired. Further, His wisdom has arranged that, of these two classes, one of each (Mark and John) should adhere to chronological order, and the others (Matthew and Luke) should adopt, to a certain extent, a grouping of facts necessarily different from the simple transcription of the facts as they occurred. It is remarkable that to our evangelist, though not an apostle, we are indebted for the clearest view of the historical line of our Savior's ministry, followed by that which closed and crowned it, from the cross to the ascension. The proofs that Mark, in his brief, rapid, but most graphic sketch, preserves the series intact, will appear from time to time as we pursue its course. The fact is stated here, the importance of which, if accepted as true, is manifest; for we thus have a standard of sequence whereby we can measure, as on an absolutely perfect scale, the displacements of Matthew and Luke. We have, then, to consider in detail the principle and objects which the Holy Ghost had in view when He led these evangelists to gather together certain incidents, miracles, or discourses, taken out of their place, but according to an order quite as real as that of Mark, and, of course, still more proper for their own specific design.
The omission or insertion of particular points in one or more Gospels, not in the rest, is due to the same cause. For example, the first dawning of the true light on the hearts of Andrew, John, Peter, &c., is given nowhere but in John 1. “He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” On the other hand, not John but the other evangelists show us their official summons to follow Christ and become fishers of men; but of these Luke only (chap. 5) furnishes, and this out of its actual date, the details of the miraculous draft of fishes which the Lord caused to act with such searching power on the soul of Peter, as well as on his partners. Otherwise, the succession of events in Luke coalesces with that of Mark, save that the former alone opens with the scene in the synagogue at Nazareth, (Luke 4:16-27,) which so livingly portrayed the intervention of divine goodness, Jesus anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power; and, on His rejection by His own people, the overflowing of grace to the Gentiles. Matthew here (chap. 4:23-25) has no details, but dwells on His preaching and miracles throughout all Galilee, and its wide-spread fame and effects; after which broad outline follows the Sermon on the Mount, transplanted from its place as to date, so as to give at the outset a fuller exposition of the principles of the kingdom. Mark has not the Sermon; his task was not to unfold the character of the kingdom of heaven in contradistinction to the law, (as the prophet like unto and greater than Moses does in Matthew,) but to recount the works and gospel-ministry of the Lord; its place, if it had been inserted there, would have been, I believe, in the middle of chapter 3. Thus, the comparison of the chronological line of things in Mark, as being, so to speak, a fixed scale, greatly facilitates our perception of the displacements in Matthew or Luke, and our consideration of the divine wisdom which, in either case, so ordered their accounts.
To return, “There came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” What a picture of helpless misery this leper kneeling before Jesus! not therefore without hope, for he besought the Savior in his deep distress. There was no cure for leprosy; if God cured, there were offerings for cleansing. “Am I God to kill and make alive,” said the alarmed king of Israel, “that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy?” In truth, to be a leper was to be “as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when be cometh out of his mother's womb.” (Num. 12:12.) Yet was this leper importunate with Jesus, of whose power he had no doubt. “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” This was the only question in a heart broken down to feel his real condition, his urgent and extreme need. Was Jesus willing? And what an answer came to feeble faith! For God will be God evermore, and surpass even our truest thoughts of Himself. “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” What new thing was this on earth! A man most surely, yet, as surely, infinitely more than man; a heart touched with exquisite feelings of pity; a hand stretched to touch a leper! Was this law? Had it been only law, and a mere man in question, there would have been not the cleansing of the unclean, but the defilement of him who ventured into contact with that loathsome, forbidden object. But descend ever so low as He might in grace, Jesus was the Son of God, a divine person, who alone of all men could sinlessly say, “I will; be thou clean.” No exertion of power could have so met the leper's wants, his wants of soul as well as of body. The tenderness, the perfect, unselfish love that touched him—what should not this be to our hearts? Assuredly, it revealed the heart of Jesus, as no words alone could have done; and yet the words revealed One who was God on earth. It was divine grace in man, in Jesus, the perfect servant of God, and the more blessedly serving man's necessities, because thus perfectly serving God. Hence, immediate cleansing followed, the very reverse of contamination contracted. “And as soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.”
“And He straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man,” &c. It was of importance that the priest, at the sight of the leper cleansed, should be compelled to own and witness and, as it were, formally take cognizance of the proof that the hand of God was there at work, not now writing judgment on the proud profanity of man, but in the might, and withal deepest condescension, of grace, working the cure of abject and otherwise hopeless wretchedness and suffering, the standing type of a sinner. Besides, grace respects and maintains law till death and resurrection brought in another, and surpassing, and abiding glory for those who have their portion in it by faith; neither does it seek its own credit, but that God in all things should be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
“But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places; and they came to Him from every quarter.” Jesus sought not His own things; and just, as in the previous scene, (ver. 37,) human applause was but the occasion of His turning away from the éclat of miracles to other and more despised work; so here He avoids town for neglected wilds, though ever open to the appeal of need, come whence it may.


(Ex. 29)
There is a desire at all times in the people of God, whether in Jewish ignorance or Christian life, that they should always have God dwelling with them. Thus, in Ex. 15, as soon as Moses had come out of Egypt, he said, “He is my God; I will prepare him a habitation.” So we are “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
We do look to God's dwelling amongst us; yet we have much more thought of dwelling with Him. This was not the case with Israel. We have boldness to enter into the holiest, Christ having passed through the heavens for us, as Aaron passed through the tabernacle for them. Israel could not enter within the veil; but Christ has rent it, and opened a new and living way, which He has consecrated for us. God having, in the cross of Christ, put sin away, we can stand in the light of His presence. Here we find the presence of God among them. This is not redemption, the object of which is that we should be with God. We could not meet God without redemption. Christ suffered the “just for the unjust that he might bring us to God.”
We learn in this chapter bow we can thus be in the presence of God constantly and abidingly. We are really, in title, made “kings and priests to God and His Father;” our provision and character being this, provision is made in Christ for us, so that we can be continually in the presence of God. There was to be the burnt-offering continually at the door of the tabernacle, the place where the Lord met with the people. We are consecrated to God to be priests. Christ has not yet taken upon Him His office as King; but He has taken the priesthood, and therefore we have got, even now, our priesthood. He exercises in heaven continually a perpetual priesthood, filling up in this respect the figure of Aaron, though the order be of Melchizedec.
We see here how we are put in the place of priests, and yet Christ is personally distinguished. Aaron goes first (ver. 5-7) alone, to represent Christ; then the sons (ver. 8) to represent the whole Church, the priests. In referring to the cleansing of the leper, we have the way a sinner is cleansed from the evil that is in him. It is the same ordinance as regards the leper and the priest; but the leper wants to get cleansed as a sinner, the priest that he may be consecrated to God. If not cleansed in every respect we could not stand before God at all. There was sprinkling of blood on the leper, on the right ear, the right hand, the right toe, his thoughts, his acts, his walk, must be all cleansed, by being brought under the “blood of sprinkling.” So in this chapter we are consecrated in the same way. In verse 4, “Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle,” &c. You do not find Aaron washed by himself, because Christ did not want it. They are washed together as a figure of the Christian body. Christ as a man identifies Himself with the Church. (1 Cor. 12:12.) Aaron was anointed. (Ver. 17.) The Holy Ghost descended upon Christ when He had been baptized. The word of God applied to the beast and conscience with power by the Spirit is called washing with the word. “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” This is not habitation, but washing. Christ came not by water only, but by water and blood. The blood was for expiation, the water for washing, in order to meet God. In anything of Christ's work, it is not a question merely of atonement, but of meeting God. If I think of meeting God, it is what God requires. There must be perfect cleansing. It turns the eye on God Himself. I shall always know evil in myself; but if God is satisfied, so may I be. It is wholesome to look within and judge myself; but I shall not get the blessed peace that flows from faith, if I am looking for it into my own heart. When we see God is satisfied with Christ, then comes in peace; it gives the highest standard of right and wrong, but peace, because God is satisfied with Christ.
Moses clothes him with the priest's robe, and there is no sacrifice here, because Christ required none. He was a perfect man in obedience and love. As man, Christ identifies Himself with His people. He comes into the same place as regards the walk of holiness. He was anointed with the Spirit and with power. All He did was in the power of the Spirit. (Ver. 7, 20, 21; Acts 10:38.) Christ was anointed as man. When He ascended on high, there He received the promise of the Father, and sent down the Spirit to the saints, so constituting them the Church. Next, we come to the sons. (Ver. 8, 9.) We are going to get them introduced into the priesthood; and now comes the sacrifice. Aaron needed none. (Ver. 10-13, 14.) There is no sweet savor in the sin-offering or trespass-offering. It must be burnt without the clamp.
Here it is a sin-offering—sin must be totally put away before our consecration. It is the nature judged before God. Christ is made sin for us, that we may be made priests. We have these two aspects of the value of Christ's work. First, the sin is charged upon Him. In the Hebrew there is no difference between “sin” and “sin-offering.” Here He is the sin-offering; He who “knew no sin, made sin for us,” &c. Secondly, the other character was offering Himself up to God, all the devotedness of a life of obedience offered up; this was a sweet savor to God. “Therefore hath my Father loved me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again.” (John 10)
In verses 15-18 we find Aaron and his sons not merely having sin taken away, but accepted of God in all the perfection of Christ. If I am looked at as a sinner in myself, the sin is put away, but this is not all. Aaron and his sons put their hands upon the sin-offering; they also identified themselves with the burnt-offering. All the savor of everything that Christ has done, we are; in everything consumed and put to the test. Nothing failed; it is all gone up, and we are in it before God. Here we get our blessed position, previous to consecration as priests. For this, it is not a question of what I think of myself; but the measure of my acceptance is what Christ is in God's presence and estimate. We cannot measure grace by anything that is fitted for us, but by what is fitted for God.
Ver. 19, 21. We come now to the proper character of those persons that are cleansed and accepted. Now it is to consecrate, and, as in cleansing the leper, the blood is put on the right ear, right hand, and right foot—the acts, thoughts, and walk. We are now consecrated to God in all these. We have to render unto the Lord our bodies as well as our spirits; for we are not our own, but bought with a price. Every act that Christ did was as perfect as His sacrifice, but every step made it increasingly difficult. So we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Christ's conduct and Christ's devotedness is the measure of our walk before God. There is not so much as to set one's foot on left for self-will. Christ did not come to do His own will. Even to death He went, the death of the cross. So with us, if the eye is single, the whole body is full of light. If the heart is right, it makes the aim right. The apostle says, “Not that I have already attained but this one thing I do,” &e. He exercised himself day and night “to have a conscience void of offense.” Then it is real liberty. If the heart be right, it will be joy; if not, it will be terrible, because there is not the smallest liberty given to self-will. In many things we fail; but if we feel what sin is, and the claim God has on us, it will be our privilege to do His will. It is not a pretense that we are set up as something wonderful. No, it is faith in the blood of Christ that has cleansed us, as to purpose and thought, according to the perfectness of Christ; and now we are consecrated to serve God. It is simple Christianity.
Verse 21 shows them consecrated by the blood put upon their persons; but not only so, for there is the Anointing with the Spirit of God to give power and energy for action. It was put on the “sons' garments with him.” I have got the power of Christ in heaven, and the power of the Spirit that comes down from Christ for garments; (i.e., for all that I appear in before the world.) It is “with Him,” a thorough, complete association by the power of the Spirit with a crucified Christ who is now in heaven. Thus, we get real, thorough joy and gladness of heart. The first fruits are with God, the results are in what we show to men. If peace and joy are in my heart, let me go in that, and it produces joy and gladness in my ways. The beginning of all practical fruits is from what we have with God, and then there is a testimony to men. What we really are with God shows itself out. It is, or should be, the effect of the consciousness of union with Christ.
This anointing of the Spirit can be put on us, because the blood is on us. Aaron had no blood put on him. The Spirit is the seal. The least relic of sin would, prevent Him from sealing, but when the blood has cleansed from sin, then the seal is applied. The presence of the Spirit is the witness of the blood-shedding; the fruits are the witness of the Spirit. We thus get a wonderful power, stamp, and measure of holiness. If we believe in Christ we are so cleansed that the Spirit can come and dwell in us. The Spirit is the seal to the value of Christ's work, not to what He is going to produce. (Ver. 23, 24.) Now He can fill Aaron's hands. What is produced by the Spirit is Christ's after all. I can come with an object now that I know God delights in it. Suppose I praise Christ's name, I know God's delight rests on it; it may be imperfectly done, but I know what the thing is to God, not the manner of my presenting it. It is the sweet savor of Christ to God. (Ver. 31, 32.) We feed on Christ, now that He has given us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. We gather strength, and grace, and comfort, the perfectness of Christ Himself, as our souls' food. “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” We come so to think of Christ, so to realize in our hearts and spirits what He is, that we live Christ. What a man thinks is what he is, more than what he does. A man may think of sin, and love it, and desire to do it, but will not because of his character: he may be a hypocrite. If I realize Christ in my heart, I am a Christian. Verse 42 shows a continual burnt-offering at the place where God meets the people. Christ is before God day by day continually, a sweet savor. I cannot go to God without finding the savor of Christ there, in the perfect sweetness of His offering. The reason God gave for not cursing is that He looks to Noah's sacrifice, not to the sin. God deals with us in virtue of what the Mediator is, instead of what we are. It ought to be always in our hearts, but it is always before God. When the daily sacrifice was taken away, the Jew could not go to God; there was no savor.
In verses 42, 43, it is “I will meet you to speak there to thee.” It is through Christ we gain everything. Finally, God says, (ver. 45, 46,) “I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.” It is by the Spirit He does so now. The whole Church is His dwelling place. He is not merely a Redeemer, but a constant dweller with the people; as verse 46 shows, it was not to do an act and then leave them. So it is with the Church in a still more blessed way. Sin is put away first; then there is the continual savor where God meets us; and we are consecrated to His service. It supposes that the heart is right; for I cannot wish to be consecrated to God and have my own will. The death of Christ will never find its intelligent value in our hearts, if we want to escape the consequences of consecration. if we are consecrated, the motive of every action should be that Christ may be glorified. You cannot be happy unless Christ be everything. We may have to condemn ourselves daily, but when we think what a savor is before God, we go on with confidence.

Peace - My Peace

(John 14:27.)
Two things are brought before us here. The first is the fact of peace. It may not be earthly blessing and prosperity, like the Jews, but trouble outwardly. The second is that which characterizes the peace. “My peace” is what He has Himself, and the extent of it. Its being thus characterized implies that they had not it while He was with them. They lacked nothing; they had purse, and scrip, &c. He could speak peace in the forgiveness of sins, but this peace, His peace, was not before given to the disciples.
Peace shuts out trouble, as to the realization of it. It is not peace of conscience with God here; but it is what could not be disturbed by the knowledge of God. It is not peace without God, and it is independent of all circumstances. So much trouble as there is in circumstances, the peace could not be secure, if it could be altered by them.
This peace is the possession of such quiet as to be undisturbed about other things. It is peace with God in the sight of His righteousness and His holiness; and it is an absorbing thing. Suppose I am at peace with some one I do not care much about, I may be troubled enough about other things. The peace does not absorb my affections. When we have the peace itself, we may acquaint ourselves with God. The soul, so satisfied with its own peace, desires nothing else. It knows God, and finds nothing to disturb it in God or out of God.
This peace will keep God between the trouble and us, instead of the trouble coming between us and God. Such is our danger, and such the remedy.
Mark the extent of the peace— “My peace;” and how thoroughly well He knew what He had, that He could give it them! He had been tried, rejected, suffered, “had not where to lay His head;” “hunted like a partridge on the mountains;” the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and yet He knew so well the blessedness He had that He could speak of it to leave it to them. There was an unclouded rest in God, and God an unclouded source of blessing to Him, in all His path of sorrow and trouble, so unlike that which any one else ever had. But “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee,” &c., was known experimentally by Him; and was there ever uncertainty as to whether His Father heard Him? No; there was unclouded certainty. Nothing could bring it into question. He need not put it to the test by throwing Himself down from the temple. This were tempting God.
The two expressions in the verse explain each other; “My peace,” &c., and “Let not your heart be troubled.” I am giving you my own “peace.” What we have, we know to be His: not the knowledge of what we are with God, but what He is to God. We cannot have peace if we have the thought, When I come to know God, what will He think of me? I must know God in order to have peace.
If the Lord came this moment, would you have peace and be able to say, “This is our God, we have waited for him?” If you have the consciousness of liking anything that God does not like, you cannot be at peace. Even if you have found peace of conscience about your sins, through the blood of the cross, it will destroy your communion and peace of heart, if you are liking anything that God does not like. If there is anything not given up in the will, there cannot be peace. If you have peace, then if God came in, your peace would stay.
Peace is never imperfect: there can be no flaw in it. If anything comes in and produces uncertainty, it cannot be peace. Water in a dirty pool may look clear at the surface, but if it is stirred up, the dirt comes to the surface; and so with the heart.
Christ gives us His peace; and can wrath disturb it? Did He not know the wrath due to our sin? He bore the wrath. Did He not know the sin? “He was made sin,” &c. Did He not know God? He came forth from Him.
How can we have peace? Because He has made it “by the blood of His cross.” He has expiated sin. The question that agitates your heart, He settled between Himself and God, not on His own account, but for us. He was the Son of God. In the presence of wrath He settled it; in the presence of holiness, too, He made His soul an offering for sin. God spent His Son for us; and can He fail to claim us as the objects of His love? He has bought us at an unspeakable price.
He has seen the sin, judged the sin, put the sin away in Christ. Peace is made, peace is given, peace is known by the “blood of the cross.” Is it a thought of mine about my getting this peace? No. He says, “My peace I leave with you.” He knows what God's wrath is; what God's righteousness is; what God's holiness is; what all His requirements are; and we have got the assurance of His peace from His own mouth. Have I earned it? No; He has earned it. Can He deceive me? What is my warrant for expecting the favor of God? If you have believed what wrath is, you will value the favor of Christ. Christ would rather give up His life than God's favor for us.
If Christ is your peace, He is as sinless for you as He was in Himself. He is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

His Foundation

(Psa. 87)
There is one truth that specially gives solid footing; there is no other thing, perhaps, that confers such stability upon creatures, weak, vacillating, impressed, easily moved, and carried away as we are: it is the consciousness of God's sovereign favor and choice of His will; of the place and portion that grace has conferred upon us. I do not believe that the bare fact of knowing our privileges will keep any soul. For the heart is so deceitful and desperately wicked, that any privilege which is merely our own, we can carry with us in self will; and so vile is the flesh that the very privilege itself may be used as a reason for dealing lightly with our sins, our follies, our love of ease, our self-seeking in any form or measure. But it is impossible so to act and feel when we have God before us: for at once we have to do with One who is holy and above all. Whatever may be His love, still authority is there, which none can dispute, and which can put us in our place of entire subjection. Hence, the principle of godliness depends upon this, that we see and have to do with God in each thing we have to seek or avoid. Now we can bless the Lord that this is not new to us, for most of us have known God in our salvation, though we know that it is not a question merely of us or of mercy shown to us, but that there is a blessed and glorious scheme in which God has been winning glory to His own name, so that we have just, as it were, submitted to it; and indeed, it is expressly said in the New Testament, we have “submitted ourselves to the righteousness of God.” We have found that this salvation, though most surely it is on our behalf, yet it is not merely our salvation, but God's; we too can say that our eyes have “seen the salvation of God;” and each can look up, so far as this is concerned, and say, “Lord, let now thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” Thus it is that the Lord weans us by the very truth which He first reveals to our souls in Christ. He gives us such simple rest in His love to us; He vouchsafes the assurance that this salvation, inasmuch as He is, in every way, concerned in it, must be worthy of Himself. For it is not merely a salvation adapted to our need, but suited to His own name, to His own love, to His own grace, to His own glory. This, and this alone, has delivered us from doubts and anxieties. For when we have rested upon Jesus, and taken in this blessed truth, it is impossible for a soul to have further hesitation as to the character, the completeness, and the perfection of God's salvation. If we simply take it as a part of ourselves, that is as our salvation only, it is evident that there is a door opened to doubt and change; for we are creatures apt to fluctuate. Only bring in God in Christ, which is really the truth, and let the heart receive it with simplicity, then vanish all fears and questions and forever. And it is impossible for a soul who lays and keeps hold of this blessed truth, through the Holy Ghost, any more to be a prey to anxiety. Of course people might, through unwatchfulness, slip, and turn aside, and then the enemy knows how to enter in with his fiery darts, and torment the soul; but that is a different case. To return, the strength of God's will and choice is not merely true of salvation; but we may thank the Lord that it is true of everything. And I venture to say that God claims the right and title to put every single thing that concerns us under His own authority. When the heart rests in His love, we cannot bear only, but delight in His authority; it is painful otherwise, always contrary to nature. But if there is any one that you really are subject to, and in whose love you have perfect confidence, is the authority of such an one a burden to you? Quite the contrary. Therefore, the Lord Jesus, speaking to the weary and heavy laden says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Why is this? A burden easy! a yoke light! What makes them so? It is My yoke, My burden. The same principle attaches to all that in which He has put His name.
Take this instance. What a change it makes to our souls, if it is merely an assembly of saints that we come to, or if it is God's assembly! Of course it is an assembly of saints, if it is God's assembly; but there might be a thousand assemblies of saints that are not God's assemblies at all. They might bring in their own thoughts and will, and this not merely in individual conduct—we are all liable to that. But I am speaking now of what brings and keeps them together. They might be all true saints, but they would not be God's assembly unless God were acknowledged among them as the One whom we welcome according to Scripture, and for whom we leave the door open by the Holy Ghost, i.e., unless the Lord Jesus' care and authority over us were owned. Not that I would dare to assign limits to the grace of God or His outreaching blessing, spite of all circumstances. We are now inquiring into the strength and blessedness of doing His will. And assuredly that alone is His assembly where the Holy Ghost is allowed full liberty, according to the word, and by whom He will, to act among the saints. Where this is not the principle, it may be an assembly of saints, but the assembly of God it is not. Our business is to do His will and not merely to be in an assembly of His children. The mere fact of its consisting of saints does not of itself settle the heart. But the moment that I own it as God's, all is changed. There is the One that we have to do with. And it is not merely to one another that we have links of affection—nay, bonds of eternal life, and above all, the link of the Holy Ghost that dwells in all the saints of God; but what we have to seek, what we have to stand for and to be governed by in heart and conscience is this—it is God's assembly. The Holy Ghost dwells where Christ, the Christ of God alone, is owned as the center and Lord. May we be steadfast and true!
Analogous to this is that which the Holy Ghost will make to be felt in its measure by Israel in the day that is coming. This will be their exceeding joy, when they are broken down and individually made to take their true place before God, when all self-righteousness will be crushed, not only in general, but under the dealings of God, and in the very depths of their souls. Out of all this will come the blessed result, that they will no longer be thinking of themselves, but of God. Our first word expresses this: “His foundation is in the holy mountains.” Who was He? What were these mountains, and why were they holy? Is this the cry of long-banished, far-wandering Israel? “His foundation is in the holy mountains.” It is not in anywise that our privileges are less known and valued when God thus fills the heart. Our mercies and joys themselves are filled, as it were, with the presence of the glory of God. Our privileges take their color and their shape, the length, breadth, depth, and height, from Him who gave us this blessedness. His foundation, then, is in the holy mountains. And who is this before me? Is it David or Solomon? Is it the king's foundation? Nay, “the Lord, Jehovah, loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” Now this is a truth that we are not always prepared for. It is not only that God has His choice in separating from the world, but God chooses too among His people, among those that He loves. He loves, no doubt, all the dwellings of Jacob; but He loves the gates of Zion more than any other. He is pleased to act from His own heart; and who shall dispute His will? He works specially in individuals. He does not deal with us all alike. And even looking at His saints at large, while there is a sense in which He feels toward them all with exactly the same love, it would be false to suppose that there is not another sense in which the same principle applies to them as to the dwellings of Jacob. Here, also, He arranges all according to His own will. Take the Gospels, take the Epistles, take the facts of our lives sand hearts, we see this principle all through—God will be God. And God, if He is God, must be a sovereign God. It is not that He merely chooses out from the world, but He deals according to His own will among those that He has thus chosen. This sovereign action is painful to the flesh, because it is natural for us all to set up to be as gods. It was the first thing man did, and it is this which disputes, denies, and gainsays the supreme title of God. There is always restlessness in our hearts where such is the case. We know what it was when we had no sight of God; but even when we have seen Him in Christ, there will still be the need of entering more deeply and fully into the wonderful workings of His holy will.
He now explains. “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah. I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me. Behold Philistia and Tire with Ethiopia. This man was born there.” Rahab and Babylon were the two rival powers for the mastery of the old world. Rahab or Egypt was the first in early strength; but Egypt decayed and fell before the growing ambition and resources of Babylon. Babylon became, under God, the mistress of the ancient world, the head of gold that we read of in Daniel. The Spirit selects these, both of them linking themselves with the Jews, the one with the beginning, the other with the end of the history of Israel. He may be said to challenge them. Choose, O world, your very best, Rahab and Babylon; nor these merely, but Philistia, that most active territory which sent out through its energy to every part of the world, and Tire, too, its maritime competitor. Add Ethiopia also, that distant land of wonders! In all these boasted quarters of the old world, single out the gravest and best, the men that you have most gloried in, the geniuses that led others, and that achieved such fame as man can earn, and give, and boast of; but what is it? Deathless fame, alas! potsherds of the earth! One bit of crockery raising itself up against another! But what are we brought to now? To God? Yes, we have come to Him: God has made Himself known to us. God has chosen, called, and loved us. God has set us apart for Himself; and not only grace, but glorious things are spoken of.
“Glorious things are spoken of thee.” Thou city of whom—of Israel? Nay; but “Thou city of God.” What a joy to know that our very meeting is a witness of this truth! And God forbid that I should ever be at one that was not a witness for the truth, not only that there are Christians in the world, but that God is acting in the world; that God has a choice and that God binds me to it. God is not sparing our flesh, nor calling us for the purpose of giving a loose rein to the flesh; but expressly in order to deny the flesh, and crush it by the deepening knowledge of His beloved Son. But if there be not, along with this knowledge of Christ, the putting the mark of the cross upon the flesh, we shall never retain the truth of God. This is not like human science, that can be acquired and kept independently of our state of soul. It may appear to be received, but it will leak away: it will be surely lost and corrupted. It is impossible for the flesh to keep and to hold the truth of God. It is of all-importance to learn this lesson, to learn it even if late, and over and over again, too; not as some, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, but always learning and coming to a deeper knowledge of the truth. This is our blessed position through His grace. But it needs the cross of Christ practically, glorying that we are nothing, glorying in our infirmities; certainly not in anything wrong, that the flesh calls “infirmity,” because it does not like to call sin, “sin.” But Scripture never calls sin infirmity. Infirmity is what makes us despised, and which our own nature likes neither in ourselves nor others. This is the condition of making progress in Christ, and of the power of Christ resting upon us.
But while thus brought to feel that we are nothing, it is important, on the other hand, to know that glorious things are spoken of the chosen of God. It is not the part of true humility to obscure, ignore, Or deny our full blessedness. There may be weakness in every way. Instead of many, there may be only two or three meeting together; but if those two or three are met around that blessed name, and that name only, they ought not, would not, talk proudly of being God's assembly. But still it is of that very nature; and if it were not God's, I do not know a divine reason for coming together. It is all self-will unless it is God that brings us together. But if it is God, then it is not a question of saints. How all-important that our souls should hold to this!
And what is our boast? The great glory for Zion is this: when other nations were boasting of their geniuses, Zion had a better glory— “Of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her, and the Highest himself shall establish her.” Others might speak of their poets, captains, statesmen, kings. But of whom does Zion speak? “The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.” How gracious of God! If you look at Zion or Jerusalem, it was not, of course, literally the fact, for Christ was born at Bethlehem. Of Jerusalem, the terrible truth is, that Christ was crucified there. But how blessed is the reckoning of grace! “The Lord shall count, when He writeth up the people, that THIS MAN was born there.” The Lord connects His beloved One with Zion; and therefore in the day when the Lord shall look upon the dust of Jerusalem and favor the stones thereof—in the day when He will lift up His might to raise up the fallen ones and to gather the outcasts, this will be the song that He will put in Zion's mouth. They will not contend for or glory in any other; but the kernel of their joy will be, that “this man” was born there.
No wonder, then, that there were players and singers on instruments (verse 7) after such a word as this. No wonder that God Himself should say, “All my springs are in thee.” All these blessed ways of comfort and strengthening God causes to flow and find their center there; because Christ, as far as concerning the earth, finds His place there.
The New Jerusalem has still more glorious things. Our place is not the earth. It is not in Zion, or the holy mountains; it is in the heavens. But it is the same Christ, only Christ known in a still more blessed way; not as One that was born there, but as the Only-begotten before all worlds. For heaven, we may say, was rather born of Him, than that He was born of it. It is there that we are brought into association with Him; and this founded on His death and resurrection. When He was here upon earth, heaven opened upon Him; and now that He is there, heaven is opened for us; and we look up through the opened heavens and behold Him at God's right hand. For if Stephen miraculously, as a fact, saw Him there, it is also the revealed and proper expression of our birth-place and home; we see it as a matter of the calling of God. For God means that we should realize by faith that the heavens are no longer shut for us, and that above them is that blessed One, at the right hand of the majesty on high, and ourselves seated in heavenly places in Him there. Therefore let us not fear, though it be not for us to glory in aught, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we ought to glory in that cross, and to know what a stable foundation God has given us in Him. For us it is not so much in the holy mountains, as in Him who made them and all things. He is our Rock in the midst of the surges of this world, as truly as He is and will be our theme of praise to all eternity.

Remarks on Ephesians 4:28-30

In these exhortations, as in the doctrine of the epistle, there is no notion of bettering the nature of man. A new nature is shown to belong to the Christian—Christ is his life. The practical aim follows that this should be exercised and manifested.
Nevertheless, there is a serious hindrance, for the old man remains, the flesh is still in the Christian; and as the new creature is in no way the result of improving the old, so the old nature is incapable of being absorbed or exalted into the new. They are irreconcilably opposed. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The only course, and comfort, and duty open to the faithful, is to deny and mortify the flesh, so that the new man may be left free to do the will of God.
On the last portion which occupied us, we saw the danger of yielding to anger; it easily degenerates into hatred, and this gives occasion for the devil to enter. We have now another exhortation, which to some might seem hardly called for among Christians. “Let him that stole steal no more.” It is not exactly “him that stole,” but “the stealer.” “Thief” would be too strong; and “he that stole” is too weak. The apostle was led to choose a term so large as to take in every shade of such dishonesty. Do you think the caution needless? Beware lest your self-confidence, and the slight of any word God has written, ensnare you. There can be no doubt that the Spirit who inspired the epistle judged the admonition necessary for us all, as well as for the Ephesian saints; yet nowhere do we find an Assembly more happy, flourishing, and blessed of God, than the Church in Ephesus. Yet even for them, quickened and raised with Christ, and seated in Him in heavenly places, the Holy Spirit saw its suitability. God knows us better than we know ourselves; and let saints be ever so instructed, devoted, or earnest, in none of these things, apart from the enjoyment of present communion, apart from actual dependence on God, is there any adequate safeguard. Besides, if a soul through unwatchfulness had slipped aside into that which is so degrading even in human eyes, we can readily conceive the force of such a word to the heartbroken and ashamed, in danger of being swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. How little the heart felt its perils or knew either its own weakness or the power of Satan! Now, restored to judge itself according to God, it owns the value of words like these, which it had once deemed well-nigh useless for the saint. Now, too, it feels how exceeding broad is the Spirit's appeal, comprehending every kind of worldly, professional, or trade custom (no matter how respectable) that is fraudulent, as well as the grosser forms of dishonesty. God is training the new man according to His own thoughts.
How strikingly also such a precept shows that the Christian is on larger, higher, firmer ground than that on which Israel after the flesh stood or rather fell. Never do you hear the law say, “Let the stealer steal no more;” its voice must rather be, “Let him die.” The law is good if a man use it lawfully; and its lawful application is expressly not to form, guide, and govern the walk of the righteous, but to deal with the lawless and disobedient, ungodly and sinful, unholy and profane, and, in short, with whatever is contrary to sound doctrine. Sin, we are told in Romans 6, shall not have dominion over Christians, “for ye are not under the law, but under grace;” and this in a chapter where the question is the holy walk of the saint, not his justification. Yet in the face of this, the clear and uniform teaching of the New Testament, the tendency of most in Christendom habitually is to go back to law, especially where there is feeble separation from the world. But it is easily understood. For the world does not receive or understand the grace of God, whereas it can appreciate in the letter the righteous law of God. Hence, where the world and the saints are mixed together, the will of man soon takes the upper hand; and as the saint cannot elevate the world to his standing, he must sink to that which he holds in common with the world; and thus both meet once more on Jewish ground, as if the cross of Christ had never been, and the Holy Spirit were not sent down from heaven to gather believers out of this mixed condition into the assembly of God apart from the world. Even for the individual Christian, as well as for the Church, and most of all for God's truth, grace, and glory, the loss has been incalculable. For the ordinary walk has been reduced to a string of negatives, save in public acts of philanthropy, religious activity, or ritual observances, which the Christian shares with any and everybody that will join him. It is not occupation with good according to God's will; still less is it suffering for the sake of Christ and of righteousness from a world which knows them not This is not Christianity, though it is the state and the system of most Christians. Did Christ ever obey from the fear of judgment? Was not His life a surrender of Himself to the holy will and pleasure of His Father? So our souls must be occupied with God's grace in Christ, if we are to find strength in pleasing Him. The mere avoidance of evil, the not doing this or that, is below our calling. Do we indeed desire to know and to do His will as His children? Are we zealous in learning to do well, no less than careful to cease from each evil way If not, the day will come when we may begin to do evil again, and with a conscience the less sensitive, because we have learned truth which we do not carry out.
Very beautiful is the apostolic exhortation on the positive side. “But rather let him labor, [idleness is neither right nor safe,] working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to distribute to him that needeth.” Thus does the Spirit cheer and direct the man whose hands were once put forth in unworthy ways; thus does He open a happy path where grace can vindicate its power, spite of a dishonest nature and habit; and he who was the stealer before he knew the Saviour's name, may now have fellowship with the spirit and practice of the great apostle (Acts 20:33-35), yea, and of the Master Himself, remembering His words, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. To live is the worldly man's object in labor; to give is the Christian motive. It is not a mere question of chance surplus, but an express object, especially for him who has the consciousness of the mercy that delivered him from covetous sin and its shame and judgment. Only the toil must be about what is good and honest. In vain will you plead a benevolent or religious use of ill-gotten gain. No employment that is contrary to God's will is good for the Christian, but should be given up at once. The covenant of Sinai never enunciated such a motive for toil as this. To talk about the ten commandments as the rule for the Christian's walk now, is to go back from the sun which rules the day to the moon which rules the night; it is to eclipse Christ by Moses under the delusive profession of doing God service. In general, what the law exacted from those under it on the principle of right, the Christian is responsible on the principle of grace to exceed in every possible way. The scope of obedience is immensely increased; the inward motives are searched out and laid bare; the very tendency to violence, corruption, and falsehood is judged in its roots, and suffering wrongfully and withal in love takes the place of earthly righteousness for the disciples. Such is the unquestionable teaching of our Lord and of His apostles; it is darkened, undermined, and denied, by those who insist on Judaizing the Church by putting the Christian under the law as his rule of life. Truly they “understand not what they say nor whereof they affirm.”
Next, it is not our deeds only that have to be considered, but our words. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers” (vs. 29). Worthless language is to be eschewed as one rejects good-for-nothing fruit; if it were on the tongue, let the unprofitable word proceed no farther. Unclean allusion we shall find specified and forbidden in the chapter following. Here I conceive the circle is more comprehensive. Many who would neither utter nor hear impure conversation may often have to bemoan the utterance and the sanction of unsavory discourse. Better to be silent if there be not (such is the force) something good for needful edification. The need measures the service, and love builds instead of puffing up as knowledge does. It is equally true that “in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin,” and that “the lips of the righteous feed many;” they “know what is acceptable,” and those who hear are refreshed and blessed.
Hitherto we have had grounds of holy action, as well as guards against sin, found in the features of the new man. But this we know does not give us the full character and power of the Christian man. The holy Spirit of God dwells in him. This blessed but solemn truth is now pressed in its practical bearing. We are said (ch. 2:22) to be built together for an habitation of God in Spirit; and therefore do the apostles exhort us (ch. 4) to walk worthy of the calling wherewith we have been called. But there is an individual indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as well as His relation to the house of God. We have been sealed by the Spirit, appropriated thereby to God on the ground of accomplished redemption. The precious blood of Christ has washed away our sins; in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of God's grace. Thus, His sacrifice has effaced before God and to faith all our evil, and a new nature is ours in Christ; so that the Holy Spirit can come and dwell in us, and seal us for the day of redemption, when our body shall be transformed into the likeness of the glory of Christ, as surely as our souls are now quickened into His life. In presence of this infinite present privilege and pledge of glory forever the apostle adds, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” He is the spring of energy to strengthen the saint unto all that is well-pleasing to God. But this supposes that there is self-judgment and dependence on God. Otherwise we grieve Him, and are made to feel, not His power, but our own wretched unfaithfulness.
Again, it seems strange that any Christian should be so unintelligent as to confound the word here with “quench not the Spirit” in 1 Thessalonians 5:19. The context (vs. 20) there shows plainly that it is a warning not to hinder the smallest real manifestation of the Holy Spirit in a saint, no matter how feeble he might be; and the history of Christendom to the present hour proves how much the precept was needed, and how little the apostolic injunction has been attended to. But the passage in Ephesians 4 is a personal concern for every saint and his own conversation every day.
Another thing to be noted is the difference from the language of Psalm 51: “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” But the apostle, even when he presses that we should not grieve the Holy Spirit, never hints at His being taken away. On the contrary, he in the same breath assures us that we were sealed by Him for the day of redemption; and there can be no fuller way of intimating our personal security than such a sentence. To what are we to attribute this difference? Not, I need hardly say, to a higher inspiration in Paul the apostle, than in David the king; but to the necessary and revealed modification of the Spirit's relation to the saint, since Jesus died and rose and went to heaven. Till then there was no such thing as the Spirit given to abide with the believer forever. He blessed souls then, wrought in and by them, filled with joy and power betimes; but indwelling as the Christian has and knows now, there was and could not be till the glorification of Jesus, because of sin put away by His blood. Hence we are told not to grieve the Spirit, but are never, since He was given, supposed to deprecate His departure. Unquestionably, this aggravates the sin of a Christian and imparts poignancy and bitterness to his self-reproach in that case; but even this is intended of God for the graver warning of His child. The verse, therefore, clearly proves, on the one hand, the danger of sinning and thus of grieving the Spirit; and, on the other, the security of the saint even in and spite of such sorrowful circumstances. He is brought to God, reconciled, washed, sanctified, justified; he has eternal life and shall never perish; he is sealed of the Spirit, and that seal who can break? If he fall into sin, assuredly God will see to it and chasten, yea, unto death; for He will neither make light of his evil nor condemn himself with the world. So Peter exhorts the godly to walk in holy obedience, and while they called on Him as Father who, without respect of persons, judges according to each one's work, to pass their time of sojourn in fear; at the same time, far from weakening their confidence, he proceeds, “forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ.” Thus, the truth of God has the effect of attracting and strengthening the affections, even when it sets us with our faces in the dust; while human error, as it weakens the full grace of God, so it fails thoroughly to humble the soul. But what a truth it is for the believer, that he has within the constant presence of a divine person, the Holy Spirit, the witness of all that passes there! How careful should we be that we grieve Him not! But it is not a truth for conscience only, but pregnant with consolation; for He dwells in us evermore, not because we are worthy of such a heavenly denizen, but in virtue of the worth of Jesus and the perfectness with which His work has cleansed us in God's sight from our sins; and He is in us for our joy, and strength, and blessing evermore, through and in Christ the Lord. May we be enabled, always confident, always to pray, and not to faint!

On Colossians 1:12-22

There are two ways in which we may approach the Gospel of the grace of God; first, the conscience convicted, and seeing how God has met the condition of man, as in Romans and secondly, the counsels of God from which it all flows. We may trace Him up from the poor sinner in his need, or we may see the grace from Him flowing down.
In this chapter we have much of God's thoughts about Christ Himself, as in Heb. 1, where He is presented to us as “Heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds,” &c., “upholding all things by the word of His power,” “when He had by Himself purged our sins.” It begins with this wonderful counsel of God in grace coming to meet the need, notwithstanding all He was in Himself. In the chapter before us in Colossians, we have the glory of this work in Christ, and its extent is shown; and what is so precious, is that when we begin at the other end (conscience and the sense of need) we reach the same point; but there is a fullness and a strength gathered in looking at the place and purpose of God from all eternity, beyond what we get from the need of the sinner being met. It is quite needful, in whatever way it is brought to us, that the conscience should be reached, because God cannot reveal His glory to unawakened man. Understanding must come through the conscience, as in the case of the woman of Samaria. Her spiritual knowledge was gained through the exercise of her soul with Jesus. Where there is not a living work in the conscience, there never can be a link between the soul and the living person of the Son of God. This always is the beginning. The word of God reaches the conscience, and sets it in the presence of the living God. He has made that one step essential to the sinner. This woman heard the Lord speaking to herself. That is the all-important thing, and there can be no truth in the soul till then. What is all the Bible worth to me if my soul is a stranger to God? If we bring in all the purposes of God, then, they must bear upon the conscience this way. A sense of God's love to the soul, &c., will never be truly realized till it is apprehended as flowing downwards from His glory.
We will look into these verses which succeed the prayer relating to the saints' growth in grace, &c., (ver. 12,) (for it is well for sinners to see the state of the saints, if only to know that they are not saints,) “Giving thanks unto the Father,” &c. Here is the certain, settled knowledge of being fit for the inheritance of the saints in light. Then we are fit for heavenly glory! This made us fit for that.
I. The extent and nature of this fitness—made light in Christ. “Ye were darkness, but now are ye light;” and there is the full consciousness of it, for there is thanksgiving. The saints themselves have that knowledge and apprehension of being fit. See the condition of the saints— “Delivered from the power of Satan, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son.” The Christian can say, I was darkness but am now in the place of Christ as to my standing before God.
II. The means by which we have been brought into this condition: “Through His blood;” and not only redemption, but the sins forgiven. I was a slave, but am now a redeemed soul in the kingdom of the Son. It is accomplished between Him and the Father; a settled thing in bringing a poor lost sinner and setting him in the presence of God. Had I any part in it? No. He did it through His blood. When we simply believe, we always know it is by Christ's blood we are saved. You may not be sure you are a believer; I do not ask you if you know this, but do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? If the soul rests on Jesus, there is not a cloud; but if on yourself, you may well be uncertain, because you have got into the mind of your own hearts. But in Jesus there is nothing but blessedness: light, nothing but light; every step of His path perfect light. Faith is believing what Christ Himself is; therefore, it immediately breaks out in this passage about this glorious object, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” There are distinct parts of Christ's glory here brought out. The Lord Jesus created all, and therefore He is the Head of it all; not only as Adam having dominion, and everything brought to him to name, but “by Him were all things created;” and He must be above everything and everybody: “dominions, principalities, powers,” &c. Then there is another character of Headship in verse 18: “Firstborn from the dead.” None could go lower than death, but we see Him going down into it, and rising up from it, and He fills all things. Everything is created by Him and for Him; and mark, He takes them as man. “What is man?” &c. (Psa. 8) Mark another thing also in this verse 18. He is Head of His Body, the Church; she is His helpmate, His Bride.
The next thing is, we find His inheritance defiled—God dishonored—the world ruined—and man guilty! The angels have not kept their first estate above, and man has not kept his state below—none have kept it. But He must be glorified in bringing it all back again, and the first thing was for God to be honored, for He has been dishonored; therefore, He must make peace through the blood of His cross. In making atonement, there were in the type two goats to be taken, one lot for the Lord, and one for the people. The goat on which the Lord's lot fell, was to be offered for a sin—offering; but the goat on which the lot fell on behalf of the people, shall be presented alive before the Lord, so as to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness; and that goat was to bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited; and he shall let go the goat into the wilderness. Has God been glorified then? Yes, fully glorified; God's requirements more than met. And who do I find has come in to repair the breach? It is the Son of His love. I find it all done. And where could God ever have been glorified as in the work of His Son? He glorified God. “I have glorified thee on the earth.” Could Adam have so glorified Him in Paradise? Such love for a sinner could only have been shown in the redemption of man. The mercy-seat is sprinkled with blood. God's lot, not the people's lot, is a token of perfect peace being made with God through the blood of the cross; yes, everything reconciled in heaven and in earth: it does not say under the earth, that is not mentioned here. Thus, we have the basis of everything ransomed to be with God, and for God, forever and ever. It can never stand on creation title; though heaven and earth will stand in the presence of God, but it will be in redemption title alone. “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.” (Ver. 21.) “You hath He reconciled,” &c. This is a thing to give thanks for now. If I am to return in heart and mind to God, I must be reconciled. God saw the need, and from the fullness and perfectness of His own love, He did it all. “We have known and believed,” &c. This is the condition of the Christian; and if you ask a proof of it, this is the answer—He laid down His life. “You that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled.” Not only have we a wicked nature in us, ("children of wrath,") but more than this, we have done wrong, thought wrong, spoken wrong; and then, besides that, our hearts are alienated, the sure consequence of sin. Did you ever see a servant or a child do wrong, and glad to meet his master or parent afterward? Does not the sense of having done wrong keep them away from those against whom they have sinned? Yes. Alienation of heart there is, because we do not want God to come and say to us, as to Adam, “Where art thou?” There is first, lust, then the commission of sin, then the mind turned away and at enmity. Then, in this condition, God comes to bring it back. How can He do it? Ruined, unhappy, wretched as I am, if God is for me, I can come to Him. Grace can come and make me happy. God comes in grace to win me back when thus alienated, and tells me He has dealt about my sine. That will bring me back. Law convicts, but never wins back—never. It is as though we said to God—My conscience makes me dislike you, makes me unhappy with you: take away my sins and I will come back. This, certainly, is in substance what the gospel of God says to us both about our sin and about His grace.
And will He half reconcile? No, He has completely done it: “In the body of his flesh through death.” There were you under your sins. Christ came as a real, true man, about these sins that are distressing you and keeping you away from Him. I see Him made sin, bearing to take this dreadful cup of God's wrath: all the sins laid upon Him like the scapegoat: Jesus Christ coming in a body, not with a message that it shall be done. No, the thing is done. God has visited sinners in love. I meet God by faith there where He had met me, and I see in the body of Christ's flesh through death, He has put sin entirely away. I have nothing to do with it. Who could do anything to add to such a work? Men may wag their heads at it in derision, but the work is done fully and completely. Christ is gone up! and He is gone to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight. Was there any mistake, any uncertainty? No, the soul knows and feels that God has done it. If He has me in His eight, He must have me holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable, and He has made me so; and when He finished the work, He sat down. “After he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Well then may it be said, “Giving thanks unto the Father who hath made us meet,” &c. The work is done; and now God sends “to declare,” as the apostle says, “His righteousness.” Did you accomplish it? Did you do anything towards it? Nothing, but by your sins. He has made peace. Our souls then can rest in this blessed peace. And it is not only that I have this peace: no, God has peace for me; and the nearer I get to God, the more I see the fullness and perfectness of this peace. It is God's peace, and I have peace in it. All there is according to His own perfectness. He rests in Christ's work for my sin. If He had nothing more to require, what can I require? All the ground of my connection with God is that His love has been manifested in putting away my sins; and I have peace in that. If you think you must satisfy God as a creditor, you do not know God. God is love, and He is known through the cross. If I own God as my Savior and Lord, it marks all my character. I have new objects and new motives. I may do the same things, harmless in themselves perhaps, but I have a different motive in doing them when I know God. It is not what a man does that marks his character, but why he does it. When I know God in Christ, I go and do right things because I love God. I may be outwardly correct and moral, but the spring and motive may be all known at once. A child may see if you say He has translated me from the power of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. If I have peace with God, there is nothing between Him and me. The peace is made. It is a thing accomplished.
Now, are you reconciled to God? Grace, and glory, and love then are brought before your soul by the Holy Ghost; and you will be changed into the same image from glory to glory, &c. If I know I am to be like Him at the day of His appearing, I shall be purifying myself, “even as He is pure now.” May the Lord work in our hearts by His own Spirit, conforming us who believe into the image of Jesus, soon to be conformed to the Firstborn in glory.

Harmonies of the Gospels

I object totally to all harmonies of the gospels, as such; because they are the confusion of accounts which are each written with a distinct divine object. The facts are put together by the Holy Ghost with an evident purpose, each gospel presenting both Christ and the ways of God in a different light. To throw them all together is to destroy this purpose, and obscure the intelligence of the gospels.

Original Sin and Christianity

The history of the Bible is the history of original sin; the doctrine of the Bible is the doctrine of God's putting it away forever. Does not the history of our races (I do not say our creation) begin with the declaration that Adam, fallen and driven out from God, begat a son in his image, after his likeness, the fruit being shown in sin against his brother, as Adam's sin had been against God, and so death actually in the world—the death of the pious marking the predominance of evil. That is the early history of sin attached to our origin, and so in our nature. Further, when the flood had swept away the insupportable violence and corruption of the world, (and of the world begun again in Noah, in whom rest was given concerning the work of man's hands, and the curse taken so far off the ground,) did he not turn the blessing into drunkenness, he to whom government had been entrusted? and did not shame and a son's wickedness inaugurate the new career of man? Did not man then sink into idolatry, of which there is no appearance before, having built a tower to establish his own will? The form of the world, in nations and peoples, is founded on it; God then called out Abraham from the midst of this idolatry, and, after a lapse of some 400 years, so that a people should be formed, brings them out of Egypt with a high hand, leads them to Sinai to give them His law—the rule of life for a child of Adam. But they made the golden calf before they had time to get it graven on stone, though they had heard the voice of God out of the midst of the fire.
Such, then, is man according to the history of the Bible: and so you will find it throughout. Before the consecration of Aaron and his sons was over, Nadab and Abdul had offered strange fire and were slain; and Israel, responsible under the priesthood, closed its history by the Ark's being taken, and judgment coming on the priesthood itself in Eli: so that the whole system was closed, for without the Ark there was no regular association with God at all. God interfered by a prophet, but that was sovereign grace. When the royalty was established Solomon fell into idolatry; and at last Lo-ammi (not my people) was written on the chosen people of God, where He had set His name that it might be owned in the midst of the universal corruption and idolatry of the world, and where grace and warning had dealt “till there was no remedy.” When God set up a head of Gentile power in Nebuchadnezzar, he sets up an idol and persecutes the saints, and the whole series of these monarchies takes the character of unintelligent ravenous beasts. But chief and last of all, (save special mercy on His intercession,) when God declared, “I have yet one Son: it may be they will reverence my Son when they see him;” they said, when they saw Him, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.” They had then no cloak for their sin. They had seen and hated both Him and His Father. There was a reprieve through His intercession on the cross, and the Holy Ghost announced a glorified Christ, and the open door of repentance; but they would not go in. They closed the history of man with this word of judgment: “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” A judged world, a broken law, persecuted prophets, the slain just One, the resisted Spirit, sum up the history of man, the history of original sin. Man must be born again.
It is a sad and solemn picture, and ought to be brought home to one's own heart, in which it is all morally true. But it brings this comfort with it, that it shows the new blessing brought in by the Last Adam to be itself entirely apart from the corrupt first Adam, though moral intelligence be brought out by their conflict and the need of God's grace be surely found in it. But Christianity has its basis in resurrection, after the work of redemption; that is, a passage into a wholly new state after God's perfect goodness, and His righteousness, too, had been proved as to the old.
Paul sums up the great truth in saying, “we were by nature the children of wrath, even as others;” and then, “but God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together.... created in Christ Jesus.” And this makes death and resurrection the great topic of the epistles. “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So Peter, though less fully and elaborately: “we are begotten again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead;” and, “as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.” Am I not right in saying, that the history of the Bible is the history of original sin—of, one who had to confess, if he knew himself, “Behold, I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me?” It was accompanied by marvelous longsuffering and gracious dealings, which only brought out this sin, till, the tree having been digged about and dunged, it was proved no care could make a bad tree bring forth good fruit; and the Lord says, “Now is the judgment of this world.” “The world seeth me no more.” But this was only to bring in redemption and set man on a wholly new footing, beyond evil and in the glory of God; so that it should be said, “when we were in the flesh;” “but ye are not in the flesh.” And this true and divine dealing with our nature, according to the revelation of God, is what is fully brought out in Romans; and hence, deserved condemnation, atonement, death, and resurrection. Indeed, in doctrine the epistle goes no farther—not on to ascension; because it is laying the great moral ground of sin, and putting it away, in guilt and power alike; and man's acceptance with God on a new footing: it only once just states the result of ascension as a final fact in the chain. But the same truth is insisted once and again, as in the passages already quoted. So, in experience, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” The flesh “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” It “lusts against the Spirit.” “They that are in the flesh cannot please God.” “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.”
God has not said in vain, “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually;” and this said, too, in grace, “I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” It was not merely the previous wickedness of the antediluvians. They were gone. It was His motive for dealing with the race no, more in that way. So the Lord, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Did you ever see it stated in Scripture that good things come out of his heart naturally? God has tried it in every way. It was lawless, broke the law, killed His Son, resisted His Spirit. The dealings of God, in patient mercy, which we find in Scripture, only wrought this out, so that we might have a Scriptural delineation, a history, which proved that sin which, after all, is the history of our own hearts. For self-will, law-breaking, slighting Christ, and resisting the appeals of God's Spirit, are not confined to antediluvians or Jews. The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that all might come on the ground of pure mercy. And you will see that, (developed only in promise in Adam's time, then by prophecy, in figures under the law, in accomplishment in Christ, in testimony to His glory by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,) the putting of sin away is the great doctrine of Scripture. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin (not the sins, as often falsely cited) of the world.” It is changing the whole principle on which the world, as such, stood. So, again, “But now once in the end of the world,” i.e., the consummation of the ages—these times of testing responsible man from Adam to Christ, “he hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” That is morally founded, as to the glory of God, on the death of Christ, and man after Him is introduced by resurrection into the new condition, beyond sin, consequent on that glorifying of God. At the same time there is the bearing of sins for the redeemed; but this is not our subject now. Thus a depth is given to Christ's sacrifice which mere salvation, precious as it is, could not give, though we come into it so. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.”
Hence, while we must come in as sinners by the cross, or there is no truth in the inward parts, and sin is not judged in ourselves, without which there is no moral deliverance, and by which we morally side with God against ourselves as sinners and against sin; yet, when we have entered by this new and living way, it is not a standing without, in the hope that, by the blessed One's bearing our sins on the cross, we may be safe; but (where that has been fully realized by us as the needed and only way) we have now passed within, by the new and living way, and contemplate the cross in peace, so to speak, from the divine side, and see all the absolute beauty of it. And there is nothing like it—nothing in which God is thus morally glorified. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again.” He does not even say, “for the sheep:” it is the thing itself which is so excellent. And this makes me so often feel mere evangelical teaching so poor, even where true, as I thankfully say it is, as far as it goes. It leaves the Christian outside, hoping for and thinking only of, himself, instead of the deep conviction that there is no good thing in himself, bringing him in by an accomplished work, and then, as within, looking that he should display the character suited to it. They are right to dread Antinomianism and to distrust themselves. But I suspect that the true secret of putting Christians under the law (which Christianity does not) is, that, having nothing of the discipline of the primitive church, they are obliged to modify the gospel, and make the law a schoolmaster after Christ, to keep men in order. Then all fall naturally into it; because man has the keeping of it. If he has a tender conscience, it tortures him, as we often see; if not, he thinks of himself, takes for granted some failure is to be there, judges it perhaps pretty easily—will really sorrow over it, if the new nature be there—but, in any case, he can think of himself, and that the heart likes. A man likes thinking badly of himself, ay, and saying so, better than not thinking of himself at all, and simply displaying Christ's gracious life by thinking on Himself only. We have to judge ourselves; but our right state is thinking of the Lord alone. Is not having done with self the really difficult thing? Is it not the aim of Christianity, settling first, in a divine way, the question of sin righteously with God by atonement? And is not power there to deliver from self or flesh, and give us the victory, though we may fail? It is a humbling thought that we are such. But it is better to know ourselves; and the largest supplies of grace, and divine objects, are there to take us out of ourselves. In the Philippians we have the pattern of it in one of like passions with ourselves. There, in the picture of the Christian normal state, the flesh (save having no confidence in it) and sin are not mentioned. Yet the writer had a thorn in the flesh to keep it down. If we were perfectly humble, we should not need humbling; but we do, all of us, even Paul, as we see in this ease.
Christ, then, has been manifested to put away sin out of God's sight, out of man's heart, and out of the world: the great work which does it is accomplished; the results are not all accomplished in power. He who has not judged original sin, has not the estimate of the new nature animated by the Spirit of God, which is on God's side against sin. I judge the individual in no way: he may hate what he sees in himself of actual sin. I speak of abstract, moral truth. He who does not see the principle, and nature, and guilt of sin, as it stands in man's self-will, has not the estimate which the knowledge of a holy nature in reconciliation to God gives.


Notes on Isaiah 5-6

These chapters illustrate most strikingly the ways of God in the judgment of His people. They are quite distinct. Indeed chapter 6 comes in abruptly in outward form, itself distinct from what follows down to the seventh verse inclusively of chapter 9, all which portion forms a sort of irregular parenthesis, but a parenthesis of profound interest and instruction; after which the strain of woe, begun in chapter 5, is resumed in the thickening disasters of Israel and the land up to their mighty and everlasting deliverance, which yet awaits its accomplishment in the latter day.
But if chapters 5 and 6 are distinct in character as in time, the Spirit of God has been pleased to set them in immediate juxtaposition with a view to our better admonition. In fact, they are the two-fold principle or standard of judgment which God is wont to apply to His people. In the one He looks back, in the other He looks forward, as it were; in the former He measures by all He has done for them what they should have been towards Him; in the latter, He judges them by His own glory manifested in their midst. The one answers to the law by which is the knowledge of sin; the other to the glory of God, from which every soul has come short. (Rom. 3:20.)
In chapter v. the prophet sings a song to Jehovah, his well-beloved, touching His vineyard. Moses had already (Deut. 32) spoken in the ears of Israel a song which celebrates in magnificent language the sovereign choice and blessing of God, the sins and punishment of the people, but withal His final mercy to His land and people, with whom the spared nations are to rejoice. Our chapter takes in a narrower field of view.
“My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” There was no failure on God's part. He had established Israel in the most favorable position, separated them to Himself, removed stumbling-blocks, crowned them with favors, vouchsafed not only protection but every means of blessing: “What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it?” Yet was all in vain. The result was only bad fruit. They, like Adam, transgressed the covenant. It was the same story over again. Human responsibility ends in total ruin. Man departs from God and corrupts His way on the earth. “And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard; I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned nor digged: but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” (Ver. 1-7.)
Thus the nation, as a whole, is weighed in the divine balances and found wanting. So manifest and grievous is the case, that God challenges the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah (ver. 3) to judge between Him and His vineyard, though they themselves are the degenerate trees in question. There was no more doubt of the goodness shown to Israel than of their obligation to yield fruit for God. But obligation produces no fruit meet for Him. What was the consequence on such a ground as this? Nothing but woe after woe.
The truth is that, on the footing of responsibility, every creature has failed save One, who was the Creator, whatever might be His lowly condescension in appearing within the ranks of men. And what is the secret of victory for the believer now or of old? We must be above mere humanity in order to walk as saints, yea, in a sense, be above our duty in order rightly to accomplish it. As of old, those only walked blamelessly according to the law who looked to the Messiah in living faith; so saints now can glorify God in a holy, righteous walk, as they are under grace, not law. The sense of deliverance and perfect favor in the sight of God strengthens greatly where there is a new life.
It will be observed, accordingly, that there is nothing of Christ here as the means and channel of grace. Consequently all is unrelieved darkness and death; and the prophet presses home the evidence of overwhelming, constant evil in the people of God. Not a ray of comfort or even hope breaks through, but only their sin and His judgment chime continually. Detailed sin is retributively dealt with. There is a woe to such as joined house to house and field to field, reckless of all but their own aggrandizement. Jehovah shall desolate so that their coveted vineyards and lands shall yield but a tithe of what they put in. There is a woe to the luxurious bunters of social pleasure. Captivity shall drain them, and hell itself shall swallow up the mean and the mighty—multitudes without measure. And as for the bold sinners, who scoffingly invited the Lord to make speed, that they might see His work, as for the moral corrupters, and the wise in their own eyes, and the unjust friends of the wicked, and foes of the righteous, there is woe upon woe; “because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel, therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against this people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them.” But the woes are not exhausted. “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” Such is the sad and recurring burden, as may be seen in chapters 9, 10. The avenging nations may be far away; but, “behold they shall come with speed swiftly.” “And if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.” Such is the lot of man, aye, of Israel, where Christ is not.
Chapter 6 opens a very different scene. Not that the people are one whit better; in fact, it was only when Christ appeared, that man fully disclosed what he was and is. The law proved that man has and loves sin; Christ's presence proved that he hates good, bates God Himself manifested in all the purity and lowliness, and grace, and truth of Jesus. It was not only, then, that man was himself failing and guilty; but when an object was there in every way worthy of love and homage and worship, the perfect display of man to God and of God to man, He was a light odious and intolerable to man, and man could not rest till it was extinguished as far as he could effect it. Still we are on ground sensibly and strikingly distinct; and this because the manifestation of Jehovah is in question, not the responsibility of Israel merely. Both chapters show the people judged, but the principles of judgment are wholly different.
It was not in Uzziah's palmy days that the prophet received this solemn commission, but in the year when the once prosperous but now smitten, leprous son of' David breathed his last. Then, however, Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, and the mere skirts of His glory filled the temple. No vision more glorious had ever burst on human eyes; but if the attendant seraphs embraced the fullness of the earth as its scene, His holiness was their first and chiefest cry.
The effect was immediate on the prophet. It is no longer woe unto these or those, but “woe is me.” He is profoundly touched with a sense of sin and ruin—his own and the people's. But it is uttered in His presence whose grace is no less than His glory and His holiness, and the remedy is at once applied. “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. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar; and he laid it upon my mouth and said, Lo this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” Nor this only: for thus set free in His presence, he becomes the ready servant of His will. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for me? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes: lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed.” Such is the charge, and we know how surely it was fulfilled in the judicial blindness which fell on the nation when they confessed not their uncleanness and beheld no glory nor beauty in Christ present in their midst, and refused the testimony of the Holy Ghost to Him risen and exalted to the right hand of God. Compare John 12 and Acts 28. But the Spirit of prophecy, if it pronounce the sentence of God on the people's unbelief, is notwithstanding a spirit of intercession. “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land; but yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten [or consumed]; as a teil-tree, and as an oak,” &c.
Thus, a remnant is clearly indicated here, mercy rejoicing against judgment, and God making good His own glory in both respects. But that returned remnant must be thinned under the pruning hand of Jehovah. Still the holy seed shall be there, the stock of the nation, when judgment has done its work.

Three Ways of Looking at Christ

There are three ways of looking at Christ.
(1.) as dead and risen;
(2.) as ascended and seated on high;
(3.) As coming again.
Now, of these three grand branches of Christian truth—justification through the death and resurrection of Christ; the formation of the Church, in connection with Christ ascended and the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; and the second coming of Christ to receive the saints and judge the world, the Reformation did not go beyond the first, the preaching of justification by faith. The last two were not even touched, so to speak. Similarly, Christians in general do not see these truths at the present day. Neither the distinctive calling of the Church, nor the character of the Lord's coming again for us, is entered into beyond scraps and opinions. These are the great truths to present to their apprehension, rather than to begin with ways of meeting, &c.
J. N. D.

Remarks on Mark 2:1-23

WE have seen the Lord formally introduced and entering on His public gospel ministry, endowed with the power of the Spirit and tempted in vain though to the uttermost by the devil. We have seen Him, after calling chosen witnesses, expose and expel the unclean spirit which possessed a man. There was the power of God, no less than the authority of the Word. Extreme violent sickness fled and strength was ministered—strength to minister—at His hand: diseases and demons alike yielded to this minister of good in an evil day, who sought not their testimony but the face of His Father, in secret, while men slept. But if preaching the gospel and driving out devils was His main service, His compassionate heart and hand were open to every cry of need, as the leper proved who came in the abject confession of his misery, whose healing He subjects rigorously to the Levitical law of cleansing and thus compels the priests themselves to behold, in this very subjection to the law, the evidence of the presence and power of One who was above it.
After an interval spent in desert places with such as flocked to Him by the fame which kept Him from any city, we find our Lord once more in Capernaum; and at once crowds besiege, not the house only, but the very door, to hear the word He was speaking. (Ver. 1, 2.) Alas! Capernaum, wert thou not exalted to heaven? Art thou not brought down to hell? The mighty works done in thee were less mighty than the Word which thus attracted thee, as a very lovely voice of one that had a pleasant voice and could play well on an instrument; and yet all fell on heedless hearts and unploughed consciences; and they knew not, though they did know and will yet, that a prophet, and more than a prophet, was among them. But if the mass listened only with their ears, there was faith which persevered in face of difficulties, and failed not to make its suit to Jesus. What could seem more desperate? The leper at least could come to Him, could beseech, could kneel down to Him; how could the paralytic pierce the throng which severed him from the Savior? If he could not come himself, he could be brought. And so it was. They come bringing the paralytic on his bed, or couch, which was borne of four. “And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was; and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.” (Ver. 4.) O Lord, how sweet, how refreshing to Thy heart this confidence in Thee, this most eloquent, even if unuttered, appeal to Thy love and power! It was faith, not alone of the patient, but of his bearers; and faith, now as ever, gets not only what it asks, but far more and better. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Ver. 5.)
Yes! this was the root of the evil, deeper than either leprosy or paralysis—sin—which man accounts so small a matter, a mere moral scar on the surface!
What was sin not to Him who on the cross was made sin? who put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself? Filled with love, and in view of the faith which has there sought Him out, He acts in the sovereignty of grace and pronounces the wondrous words, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” He who knew all men, and did not commit Himself to them; He who knew God and His handiwork, commits Himself to faith. It may be weak faith, but it is of God; and His eye was quick to see it and to bless it according to all the love of His heart. “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”
But Satan, too, had his congregation there. “There were certain of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” They were wise in their own conceits, they were judges of law and gospel, and neither doers of the one, nor believers of the other. They were worse. Rejecters of Christ and His mercy, their proud reason disdained the blessed truth of God; their proud self-righteousness spurned and hated that grace of which they never knew the need. The amplest evidence of holy power, the power of God, in opposition to Satan and in compassion to man, had been vouchsafed; but what of that to reasoning scribes, used to the world as it is, and jealous of their own religious importance? One here below pronouncing the forgiveness of sins to a miserable sinner who had not even sought it! This was in their eyes startling, blasphemous, an encroachment on God's prerogative. Not that they cared for God or loved man, but they hated Jesus for His grace; and if it were the truth, their occupation was gone. But no, it could not be; it was unheard of since the world began: “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” Ah! there was the secret; the glory of Jesus was unknown, His divine dignity entirely left out of the account. The principle they urged was true, the application fatally false. How often this is the rock on which religious unbelievers split and perish!
And yet forthwith (ver. 8, 9) He gave them evidence of what and who He was; for He perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned in their hearts, taxed them with their hidden thoughts, and appealed to themselves whether it was easier by a word to convey forgiveness or a bodily cure. Which claim was readiest? Who but a divine person, or the wielder of divine power, could say either the one or the other? They were equally easy to God, alike impossible to man. “But that ye may know,” says He, (in evident reference to Psa. 103:3) “that the Son of man hath power (ἐξοθσίαν, the right as well as the ability) on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy) Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately be arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all, insomuch that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” (Ver. 10-12.) The outward sign of power guaranteed the gift of grace; and both betokened that He who spoke was the Son of man on earth.
It will be observed that, though the Lord does here appropriate to Himself the double character of mercy, which Israel are yet to attribute to Jehovah in Psa. 103, it is not as Christ or Messiah, properly speaking, but as “Son of man.” So He was ever wont to speak. It is the title of His manhood, both in suffering rejection and in glory; as such He blesses faith here, as such He will judge unbelief by and by. (John 5) Thus He vindicated on earth, by the powers of the world to come, that mercy which forgave the sinful soul before them. What a withering rebuke to caviling scribes! What a triumphant testimony to the gospel of grace in the name of Jesus! And God does not now leave Himself without a witness, where His Spirit carries to the heart the power of that name; and a witness that fails not to tell on the consciences where there are eyes to see the holy strength and liberty of one previously degraded in sin, and shame, and folly. Sin withers the man, as well as covers him with guilt. He who pardons, communicates life and power, to the glory of God; and this as Son of man, the name of mercy to the ruined that bow to Him.
The next scene, after the record of His teaching by the seaside, (ver. 13,) still more opens and manifests the outflowing of grace: the call of Levi, the publican (or Matthew, as he calls himself). What a step and change! From the receipt of custom to follow Jesus, soon to be an apostle when the twelve were ordained! (Mark 3) No trade, no name was more scandalous in Israel. This was the very occasion for grace, as our Lord proves by His choice. Nor was this all, for as Jesus sat at meat in his house, “many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples; for they were many, and they followed him.” In Pharisaic eyes He could not have gone lower in familiar love, unless He had turned outright to the Gentiles; for shepherds were not more an abomination to the Egyptians, than publicans were to the scribes and Pharisees. Hence, when they saw Him eat with these reprobates, they say, not to Jesus but to His disciples, (for only pride and mischief were in their hearts,) “How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?” But this effort to undermine Him with His followers and so to shake them, only draws out from the Lord His own strong, increasingly strong, expression of grace, as well as His exposure of His and their enemies' self-destructive pride: “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners.” (Ver. 17.) On their own showing what claim had they on all He had to bestow?
Next, a similar spirit of dishonesty and ill-will, which entangles the disciples of John also, goes to Jesus about His disciples; (ver. 18;) for they and the Pharisees, who used to fast, came to Him asking why His disciples did not. But the Master stands up in their behalf and shows that a wisdom above their own led them in their weakness. Where was the sense, the propriety, the reverence in fasting if the Bridegroom was there? John Baptist had announced better things; but Pharisaism despises Jesus and had no heart for the joys of His presence. Let them all learn, however, that the days were coming when He should be taken away, and then should they fast.
In truth, the whole scene intimated to those who had ears to hear the grave economical change that was at hand, and that Messiah's presence now was but transitional. His call of Levi and His eating and drinking with publicans, were no dark signs that Israel as such wore lost; the disciples' enjoyment of His brief stay before His taking away, plainly signified the abrupt and impending catastrophe—seemingly His, but really theirs; and the verses that follow (21, 22) bear witness to the new character of God's ways therein and to their incompatibility with Judaism. Neither its displayed form, nor its inner power can blend with the old thing: the kingdom of God being not in word but in power, must have a new and suited vehicle wherein to work. Legal forms only prove their weakness if there be the energy of the Holy Ghost. The worn-out Jewish garment and old bottles disappear: new wine demands new bottles. Christianity, in its principle and its practice, is a fresh and full development of divine blessing. It was not a question of mending the old, but accepting the new.

Thoughts on John 16:1-15

THE Gospel of John brings out specially that which refers to the person of Christ, in contrast to all that is Jewish. At the beginning of it, we see Him presenting Himself in divine right and power to “His own,” while” His own received him not;” and towards the close we see Him leaving those who had thus rejected Him, and the Comforter coming to take His place—to take of the things of Christ, and testify of Him to the world, and to be the guide and support of those whom He was leaving behind. In this chapter we see the twofold character of the work of the Holy Ghost: His way with the world, and His way towards the saints.
Verse 2. The first thing the Lord shows the disciples here is, that they are to have the same position as their Master: opposition and rejection. The opposition of the world often comes from entire blindness. “Whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” Such is the blinding power of unbelief! It was so with Saul. He thought he “ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” (Acts 26:9.) Man walks in darkness, because he is darkness, his conscience is darkness, and in consequence of false instruction, his heart is blinded too. What a man does conscientiously, he always does with earnestness, though he may be acting wrongly, with a blinded conscience. A person may be very conscientious in resisting the truth. What is called conscientious acting, is often nothing in the sight of God but the conduct of one who is thoroughly blinded by Satan.
Verse 3. “These things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” God had given them every evidence of who Christ was, but in spite of all that God could give, they rejected Him. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness....”
All ignorance is the fruit of sin; but here it is willful blindness. They “loved darkness rather than light.” Notice here the sin of rejecting light. No general acceptance of truth will do, if the truth of God does not enter the soul. The way in which God was proving men now, was whether they would own His Son. He presents Jesus as an object, in order to put men's hearts to the test, and if Christ is not received, all general acknowledgment of other truth goes for nothing. There is such a thing as a man screening himself from the charge of rejecting truth, by just taking a little, as much as will satisfy his conscience; but the great test to the heart is whether he receives that special testimony which is not accredited in the world. If Christ, the Son of God, is rejected, this is everything for condemnation in the sight of God.
By rejecting Christ, men proved they did not know the Father. If Christ had come, saying that God was not Jehovah, they would have been right in not receiving Him; but He always identifies Himself with the Father, and so they were proved the very enemies of both.
“And these things will they do unto you,” &c. Very often when we have received truth from God, we must be content without being able to satisfy others that it is truth. And if others cannot understand, so neither can we explain. We must go on patiently, though we have to act in a way unintelligible to many. We must expect to be despised. The Lord set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem; and it was the very thing that brought out man's opposition. The path of faith can never be understood, though communications of truth may be.
Verse 5. “None of you asketh me whither goest thou?” We are constantly acting in unbelief in this way. The Lord often tries our hearts. The disciples were thus tried in the prospect of the Lord being taken from them. What comfort they had had in His blessed presence! And now, sorrow filled their hearts. (Ver. 6.) The sorrow was legitimate, but they were filled with themselves—their own grief, instead of seeing how God was working, and what were His purposes. The real truth was, that the Son was going back to the Father. We may lose God's purpose of blessing to our own souls, by not seeing His mind in that which grieves us. The disciples were shut up in their own sorrows and thoughts, instead of inquiring where the Lord was going. But He would comfort them, in spite of this weakness of faith, and gives them the promise of the Comforter. (Ver. 7.) What a wonderful blessing the presence of the Holy Ghost must be, when it needed that the Lord Jesus Christ should go away in order that He might come! It is well for us to ask ourselves whether we do really believe in this personal presence of the Holy Ghost down here. A soul might say, “Ah, if I had the Lord here to direct me, how well should I do and bear!” But if we know redemption-deliverance through the death and resurrection of Christ, we have Him still with us, and in the best and nearest way. For the Holy Ghost dwells in us to unfold Him to our souls, to teach us the glory of Him who has loved us, and shed His blood for us, and has all power, Head over the Jews, Head of the Gentiles, Lord over everything. Nor is it only the glory of His person, but His titles we learn. “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” We have the Holy Ghost too as the guide; and the Lord would have us guided not ignorantly, but in intelligence. The presence of the Holy Ghost presupposes judgment having passed upon the flesh, which naturally resists guidance, and the flesh must not be allowed place in the Christian, if he would be guided of the Spirit.
In chapter xiv. Christ says, “The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name,” &c.; but in chapter xvi. the Lord speaks of sending Him by virtue of His own personal title. Going up to glory as Son of man, and as Son of God, He sends the Comforter, in virtue of His own official glory.
Then we see the work of the Holy Ghost. (ver. 8, &c.) The world He will convince of sin, and righteousness, and judgment. His office, again, is to guide the Church into all truth. (Ver. 13-15.)
“He will convince the world of sin,.... because they believe not on me.” It is not here as Messiah to the Jews—that the Lord speaks of Himself—but as the Son of God to the world, as such. It was “sin” not to know the Father nor Him. The charge here is not that of having killed the prophets or broken the law; but “they believe not on me.” God had sent His Son into the world, and He had been cast out. (He says this in view of its accomplishment.) The very presence of the Holy Ghost stamps the world with this sin. He could not be sent here, unless Jesus had been rejected—unless God's own Son had been cast out. He had wrought always: this is His personal mission and presence on earth.
God said, “I have yet one Son; it may be they will reverence him.” It was His last trial of a world lying in the wicked one, full of all kinds of corruption. He was reconciling the world unto Himself, and saying, as it were, Receive my Son, and I will not impute your sin; but they cast Him out and slew Him, and thus proved that willful sin was in man. There was the perfect light of God in love and grace, in the person of His Son, coming down to earth, and men loved darkness better. This was their condemnation. It is not God coming in the terrors of the law, to frighten men, but in grace to attract; and they will not have Him. There is no reason why the Son of God was rejected, but the utter wickedness of man's heart.
It is a moral thing, this unbelief. It is a demonstration of what my heart is by nature. The Lord cannot now with wicked hands be crucified and slain; but the moral guilt is just the same; for the natural man will not receive Christ, he does not want Him. To those who do receive Him, God says, “Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.” But of the world it is said, “The world seeth me [Christ] no more.”
This rejection of Christ is the one great sin that the Holy Ghost deals with the world about. Why do people prefer vanity—everything—anything—to God's Son? Because they are perfectly opposite to God, and that is sin. It is the plant, and pith, and alp of that which is in my heart by nature. And if the world is convinced of sin, there is an end of righteousness. The only righteous One who ever came into it, was rejected and allowed to suffer before God. On the cross, God leaves the righteous One to be utterly rejected. But righteousness came in by this way; and it was proved when He, who had been obedient unto death, went back to the Father. What an answer to all that He had done was there in this acceptance! He had accomplished all that gave Him a title to be at the right hand of God; He had proved Himself fit for God's throne.
When the Holy Ghost thus convinces the world of righteousness, it is not a testimony of man's fall from God, or of man's corruption, or of man's failure under law, but man's rejection of the One who is accepted at the right hand of God. It is His righteousness and God's righteousness thus vindicated. “Ye see me no more.” All was ended as regards the world. When God's Son was rejected, there was to be no more connection with the world, as the world, till the vindication of His title in judgment. “Now is the judgment of this world.” And I come to see that I, in heart, have thus rejected Christ. I saw no beauty in Him; not one affection was set upon Him. Education may have led me to own Him after a certain way, and there is mercy in that; for knowledge of scriptural truth may be used by God, just as when a fire is laid, you have only to put the light to kindle it. But we have all been either despising Him, or in active will rejecting Him.
The world is given up to judgment, while God is still dealing with it in blessed, patient grace. We see no sign of judgment yet, though the saints may be rejected now, as Christ was. But it is our place to walk as strangers and pilgrims through it. All that is of the world, and the prince of this world, is judged by the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Let me fix your attention on the perfect, divine righteousness accomplished by Christ. What the Holy Ghost tells our souls is this, that it is such a righteousness as is fit for God's own throne. There is where I rest as my title to glory. Fruits will follow, of course; but my title to heaven is in the divine righteousness of Him who is there for me.
“He will guide you into all truth.” This has nothing to do with the world, as the world. But as when the Lord said, “What I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.” “All truth.”
The whole truth of the glory and person of the Lord Jesus Christ—all ours. We know but little of it, it is true; but the Holy Ghost is down here to unfold it to us. He brings down to us the things from heaven, the glories of the Father and the Son, fellowship with the Father and the Son, not what is going to happen to Nineveh. All the counsels of God in Jesus are ours, in the power of the Holy Ghost. What a wondrous field of spiritual thought in this new world to which we are introduced! It is filled by Christ for our use. Our portion is to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is not speaking to us of miracles, but taking the heart of the saint into all that God has to say about His Son Jesus. What a blessed place the saints are in! the Holy Ghost to reveal to them all that God delights in as regards the Lord Jesus, His person, His work—all that the Father has given Him—all His coming glory.
We may not say, “These things are too high for me.” The question is not that we have been far from Him, but that He is near to us. Suppose my father is the great judge of the country, I ought to be outside the arm of the law, but I am interested because it is my father's work. How that little word “my” — “our” —comes home to the heart! And all things are ours!
While the Holy Ghost shows us all the fullness of the Father's house in the glory of Jesus, our hearts are attracted by Christ Himself. When He gives the capacity to understand the glory, He says, I have given it all to you; you shall share it with me. And, beloved friends, we shall see Him again in all His glory. The secret of our joy now is, that He gets Himself His right place in our hearts. It is the perfection of His grace that He should draw them to Himself. There must be this work in the heart, as well as the arrow in the conscience to show us what we are; or else it will be as the morning cloud and the early dew. Remember, too, we are not of this world. He has separated us to Himself, and we are to walk with Him as His people.

The Testimony of Paul

The testimony of Paul takes up man as wholly ruined in nature, and reveals a heavenly man and a new creation. It associates those called during the rejection of the true heavenly man with him in heaven; so that they are heavenly. He is the Lord from heaven. They, as new-created, have a part with him, and become His body and His bride, joint-heirs with Him, the firstborn among many brethren. But the current of promise runs on, too, in connection with the original promise to Abraham. The Jewish branches were broken off, and we grafted in. Thus, the chain of promise was unbroken, though there are blessings above promise in the mystery of union with Christ. The Church is associated with Him forever; and when the manifestation of blessing comes, she will joy and minister in it, as thus united to Him, and joint-heir with Him, and blessedly so, though her richest joy be Himself

Remarks on Ephesians 4:31-32

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit's presence in the individual believer, sealing him for redemption-day, has been already seen, and seems to be bound up in the closest way with practical holiness, as a motive and a guard, no less than as the power. For what more solemnly affecting than the remembrance of such an inhabitant ever dwelling in the believer's body? And what more certain than that He is the Spirit not of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind? We may be utter weakness, and the natural heart deceitful and treacherous beyond human conception. But this is not the only truth. The Christian is characterized by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Is He weak? Or if all might is His, is He in the believer the passive, inactive witness of every fault and infirmity? Is He not, on the contrary, within him to associate his affections with Christ, to glorify Christ, taking of the things of Christ and showing them to him? Doubtless, He may be and is grieved by allowed folly, and carelessness, and evil, and as to this we have just been seriously cautioned; but it would be well for such as speak incessantly of the good-for-nothingness of the flesh (which is most clear and certain) to bear in mind that the believer, the Christian, is no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit, seeing that the Spirit of God dwells in him. Meet it is, therefore, that sin, all and every sin, should be confessed and judged; but it is neither genuine humility nor the faith of God's elect to ignore the blessed and encouraging as well as serious fact, that the Spirit of God is in us to give all strength in revealing Christ to our souls. It may be wholesome, unquestionably, to learn the painful lesson of Romans 7:7 and following verses; but to rest there is to prove that it has been ill learned. For the proper place of the Christian is, as to this, the end of the chapter, ushering him into the stilt deeper exercises and the more unselfish sufferings of chapter 8, with the liberty, and power, and hope, and security which it so abundantly shows to be our portion through grace. The redemption of our body and of creation outside is not yet come; but, He who is its earnest is within us.
This being so, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil-speaking he put away from you with all malice” (vs. 31). The very nearness into which the family of God is brought may become a snare unless there be watchfulness and a simple looking to Christ. But the Holy Spirit gives quarter to no evil feeling whatever. These are the breaches of our nearness; in the next chapter (vs. 3 and following verses) we shall find the abuses of it.
If we come to particulars, “all bitterness;” I think, denotes every form of the sharp, unsparing mood which repels instead of winning souls, and makes the most of the real or imagined faults of others. The “wrath and anger,” next following, refer to the outburst of passion and the more settled, vindictive resentment, to which the indulgence of acrimony gives rise, as “clamor and evil speaking” are their respective counterparts in words: all flowing from the deep-seated fountain of “all malice,” which is finally condemned in our verse. Thus, as we were warned against dishonesty in word and deed, before the allusion to the Holy Spirit's seal, so now, after it, hatred in its various parts and expressions is denounced. It is alas! natural to the first man Adam—the same corruption and violence which brought the flood on the world of old but renewed itself, spite of God's judgment, and will, till Christ deal with man and Satan in person.
But, as was observed in the previous verses, barb abstinence from the mind and workings of the flesh suffices not. There is the activity of good in Christ, the Second Man, and this the Spirit produces, as well as demands in the Christian. Hence He adds, “Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ hath forgiven you.” Clearly, therefore, it is a question of showing grace; and the pattern of it all is God in Christ, not in the law, holy, just and good as the commandment is. But good as the law was and is, Christ is the best of all, the genuine and only full and perfect expression of what God is. And leaving the law to deal with the wicked, (1 Tim. 1,) as the Apostle expressly declares is its lawful use, we who are dead with Christ are not under law but grace, which, by the power of the Spirit, Strengthens us according to its own character and gives communion with Him who is its source.
The reader will notice that there is a departure from the Authorized Version of verse 32. It is done advisedly. Why King James' translators deserted the Greek, followed by Wycliffe, Coverdale, and even the Blemish, it is hard to say, especially as Beza, who influenced them, is here accurate. The erroneous rendering obscures the very grace of God which is set before us as our spring and pattern, and tends to countenance the error that Christ was the procuring cause of His love, instead of being the blessed and infinite channel of its communication to us, the only possible means in which even His love could holily and justly avail for us. It is a part of the same error to think of God as “our reconciled Father,” or to say that Christ “died to reconcile Him to us.” Atonement was necessary beyond a doubt, the expiation of our sins by the blood of Christ. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.” But God was in Christ reconciling; it is we (not He) “who have now received the reconciliation.” “And you, that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” Such is the uniform doctrine of Scripture. How blessedly all is put and kept in its place! The atonement is that aspect of Christ's work, which is toward God, to put away sin by suffering the divine judgment of it in His own person; reconciliation, contrariwise, is toward us, to bring us back in Christ unto God. Both are most true: to confound them is to weaken and lose much; and what is more serious, it is more or less to misrepresent the character of God, as if he were turned by Christ from an angry judge into a loving Father.

Infidel Opposition to Christianity

The kind of opposition men make to Christianity proves its truth in the main, proves the consciousness of a real claim of God in it on the soul.
No doubt men have attacked Paganism as false. They have resisted Mohammedanism, though its sword was its principal argument, so that there was less of this.
But the constant and laborious exercise of free criticism, the close and sifting examination the Bible has gone through for ages, the anxious research after errors or contradictions within, proves anxiety to show that it is not what it pretends to be. Why all this anxiety? Those not immediately under the influence of Mohammedanism, are long satisfied that it is false, and leave it there; but these minute researches after a flaw in the Scriptures continue—are repeated—renewed. Men take it up on every side. Astronomy and geology are called in aid. Geography is ransacked; history, antiquity, style, manuscripts of all kinds, foolish writings of the fathers, absurd writings of heretics, apocryphal imitations of its contents; nothing left unturned to find something to discredit it; wise writings of philosophers to prove they could do as well, or were the source of the good, or even of the alleged absurdities of doctrine; every other influence sought out which could have moralized humanity, that it may not be supposed to be this. Why all this toil? Why, if it be a doctrine like Plato's, should it not have produced its effect, and our philosophers be as cool about it as about other things? It has—their conscience knows it has—God's claim and God's truth in it; and they will not allow that the true God, that Christ is the source of it; for then they must bend, and admit what man is.
And this shows itself in the most curious way. Though they pretend to think nothing of Christ, or that He was an imposter, they will not allow that the authorized books of His religion give a true account of the doctrines of the religion. If I read the Koran, I am satisfied to take it as the account of Mohammedanism, absurd as it may be; and I say Mohammedanism is absurd. So of the Vedas and Puranas.
But when the Christian books are in question, they are no doubt charged with error, contradiction, &c.; but the free critics will not even allow them to teach real Christianity after all! They are not a true, not an authentic account of Christianity! Why (if it be a mere fable, an imposture) so difficult about the exactitude of the account of it? Surely the main propagators can give a sufficient account of the imposture and its doctrines, for anything that concerns us. But no There is the consciousness that God is in Christianity. The conscience, in spite of the will, knows it has to do with God here; and it wants a true revelation, a real and authentic account of what God is. It is right. But though curiosity and a favorite subject may absorb many for a time, or an individual all his life, men are not so continuously, so perseveringly anxious to get at the truth of a fable. They do not reject the sacred books of any other religion, as not being a true account of that religion. They take them as they are, because they know they are a fable. Or even if it be known to be the work of men's minds, it is the same. A stranger to Lutheranism takes the symbolical books of Lutheranism as being Lutheranism, let him agree to or dissent from them. Why not the Christian books as stating Christianity? An infidel cannot let God and His truth alone, because it is His truth. He is a zealot against it; for his will is engaged. He is a bitter zealot, because his conscience is uneasy. He will laugh at a Mohammedan carpenter, who thinks he only has the true religion; he will curse a consistent Christian who thinks be has, and denounce and abhor such if they do not let him amongst them when he denies their Lord, and only wish for energy and all needed to proclaim their deeds. Why this difference?

Remarks on Dr. Brown's Millennium: Part 1

As regards the state of the Millennium, Dr. Brown (on the Second Advent, Part II.,) has no apprehension of the great leading truths as to it at all; he loses himself in details, finding differences in teachers cannot, as it is said, see the wood for the trees. Nor does he see the force of the argument as to the subsistence of evil up to the time of Christ's coming, and the distinctness of the character of the Millennium. He looks at it as a question of how many tares and the like (pp. 310 and following, fourth edition). It is one of God's relationship with men, and His ways of government with them.
Up to the death of Christ, man was under probation in every form—innocent, without law, (promises being given to Abraham,) under law, the priesthood given, royalty in Israel, imperial power among the Gentiles, prophets, and at last God's Son. As to all, man failed wholly and irremediably. The mind of the flesh was found to be enmity against God. This was one great scene—the display of the relationship of God with man, when man was tried and found wanting, tried in every way, and by all God could win him by, saying, “I have yet one Son; it may be they will reverence my Son.” Not only proved failure, when innocent and departing from God; but when God sought him, in perfect grace, when he had failed and where he was, irreclaimable: man was lost, and had rejected, as far as his act went, Him who had come to save him. Before, then, God set up His glory publicly in the Second Adam, in whom every one of the failing forms of relationship are fully and perfectly established, He calls a people to be joint-heirs with this Second Adam—to be in a special place of association with Him, His bride, His body, the Church— composed of children of God, conscious, through the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, of their relationship of sons with the Father. These are heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ. Their union in one body, with Christ Head over all things, was a mystery hidden from ages and generations, and only now, that Christ was gone up, revealed to the sons of men. God's purpose is to gather together in one all things in heaven and earth under Christ. Called to be in the same relationship to God and the Father as Christ Himself, who is gone to His Father and our Father, His God and our God, we are joint-heirs with Him of this inheritance of all things. (Compare Rom. 8, Eph. 1:11, Col. 1) When the gathering of these is complete, Christ receives them to Himself; and then, setting aside by power the power and reign of evil, establishes peace and order on the earth, and reduces everything into subjection, all things having been put under Him as man by the Father; and when all is subjected, He delivers up the kingdom to the Father. The mediatorial kingdom of man ceases, though surely not the personal glory of Christ.
All this divine scheme is set aside by Dr. Brown's Millennium, and by his confounding the fact of efficient grace and salvation with the ways of God on the earth for the revelation of Himself and the instruction of men. From Adam to the end of time no one was or will be saved but by redemption and the work of the Spirit. But this does not make promise law, nor law gospel, nor any of them God's government of the world. Thus, promise apart, before Christ, God's way of dealing with men, (after His leaving them to themselves, though not without testimony, had closed,) was that of definite responsibility by a law, and man's bearing the consequences. “This do, and thou shalt live.” “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all that is written in the book of the law.” After redemption was accomplished, it was the revelation of sovereign grace saving the lost, Jew and Gentile, the middle wall of partition being broken down. In the age to come, (for that there is one is declared in Scripture,) God's power in the government of the world will be displayed, setting aside the power of evil, according to the clearest prophecies. Now, by grace and the power of the Holy Ghost, saints make their way in patience against the prevailing power of the god and prince of this world. Then, the power of Christ will have set aside and bound down the power of evil. In all, people are saved in the same way. But the destruction of Babylon, and the marriage of the Lamb, the Church being complete, are not small things in their nature, though they are not individual salvation. And it is beyond controversy, that this and the destruction of the Beast by Christ's coming and, note, the saints' coming with Him, precede the Millennium; while on the setting up of the great white throne and the judgment of the dead, Christ does not come at all.
To make the workings of grace and the execution of judgment and wrath on a whole system, like Babylon, the same, as Dr. Brown does, (p. 336,) is really monstrous. And to call the public destruction of Christ's enemies by power, contrasted with gracious influence, carnal, is as irreverent as it is unsound. “Let favor be shown to the wicked, yet will be not learn righteousness; yea, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see; but they shall see and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of their enemies shall devour them.” Thus grace and judgment are definitely contrasted; and it is stated that it is not by grace but, by judgments that righteousness will be introduced into the world.
Whatever Joseph Mede's version, (p. 316,) one thing is simply certain: that the stone (Dan. 2) never grew at all, nor exercised the smallest influence on any part of the image till it destroyed it utterly. Judgment was its first act. The “Regnum Lapidis” is a pure invention not a trace of it in the vision or the interpretation. The first act of the stone is to smite the image in the very last divided state of it, and then it becomes a mountain which fills the whole earth. No statement could more distinctly show that the proper kingdom of Christ does not yet exist. The language is as remarkable, as Mede's is inconsistent with its tenor. Daniel sees the image on to the toes of iron and clay. He then sees till a stone is cut out without hands, which smites the image on the toes. Of course, it is in the days of these kings that God sets up a kingdom; for it destroys them all in order to its setting up. They were there together, for the one destroyed the others. But the statement is distinct, that the whole image, toes and all, was there before the stone, and that the first act of the stone was the destruction of the image by smiting the toes; and there was no growth of the stone till afterward, no action or influence before. It could not, therefore, be Christianity; for this had taken possession of imperial power before the toes existed at all. The toes destroyed its then existing power. To such straits is Dr. Brown reduced here, that he declares “as kingdoms simply—as a mere succession of civil monarchies—the vision has nothing to do with them, (!) and the kingdom of Christ has no quarrel with them.” “The mission of the Church is not to supplant, but to impregnate and pervade it [civil government] with a religious character, and to render it subservient to the glory of God.” (pp. 319, 320.) The former Christianity had done before the toes existed; whether the latter, some may question. But let the reader Only consult Dan. 2 and see if it is possible more definitely to contradict what is said. They were “broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.” This is impregnating them and leaving them to subsist! If this last be Christianity, it is clear Daniel does not describe it. I do not see how the infatuation of tradition could go farther.
As to Dan. 7, Dr. Brown tells us it means substantially the same. (p. 322.) Quite true. Taking and possessing the kingdom is the same, he says, as the stone smiting the image. It is rather the effect; but I admit it is the same epoch practically. But we are told by Dr. Brown, the second (the latter of these chapters) has the additional character of a judicial assize; (p. 325;) yet solemn as all the imagery is, nothing more is meant than “to intimate to us how righteous will be the destruction of that wicked interest.” (p. 327.) Let us, after seeing the kind of comment Dr. Brown gives us, (which needs none to be made on it,) remark the real character of this scene, which is analogous to that of chapter ii. The judgment sits, and the Beast is destroyed and given to the burning flame, and then the kingdom is given to the Son of man. That is, the Son of man does not get His kingdom in possession till the judgment is executed. His power is exercised in the destruction of the enemy: to use the language of the Revelation, “In righteousness he doth judge and make war.” Thus the adversary is destroyed and the kingdom set up. It is urged that the Son of man comes to receive the kingdom from the Ancient of days. The remark is just; but it has been overlooked that the horn made war with the saints, and prevailed, till the Ancient of days came. For Christ who comes is Jehovah; as He who is shown by the only Potentate, is King of kings and Lord of lords Himself. I do not know why Dr. Brown (pp. 322, 823) leaves out a part of the passage: “He shall think to change times and laws.” (Dan. 7:25.) This it is precedes the words, “And they shall be delivered into his hands.” It is not the saints, long as it has been so interpreted, who are delivered into his bands, but the times and laws—the regular words for the Jews' periodical ordinances. God may allow His saints to suffer; but He never delivers them into Satan's hands. As to Dr. Brown's interpretation of its being ecclesiastical Rome, &c., whatever analogies there may have been, I deny wholly the application of it to Pagan or Papal Rome. Bad and horrible as this last, this Babylon, may be, she is not the Beast which she rides. The horns and the Beast subsist together, which has not taken place yet; and Babylon is yet another thing.
As regards Dr. Brown's views of Satan's power, I can see nothing but the same ignorance of Scripture truths as to what the character of that power is. He thinks if unregenerate and regenerate still continue, the doctrine which supposes a cessation of Satan's influence must be erroneous. All this is a mistake, and, besides that, leaves the true question untouched. When Adam was innocent, there was no distinction of regenerate or unregenerate; he was neither, but Satan's influence was shown. When the Lord was tempted by the devil, when his power returned to try Him after having left Him for a season, it had nothing to do with regenerate and unregenerate. Christ bound the strong man and spoiled his goods even in this world. Dr. Brown confounds the state of a soul with Satan's action. When the Lord prospectively, as he says, saw Satan fall from heaven, it had nothing to do with “the whole conquests of His people,” (p. 393,) but with casting out devils, the powers (miracles) of the world to come when he will be wholly cast out. I have already said that the binding of the strong man was first between Satan and Christ in person. When he had failed in tempting the Lord, the Lord removed here below the whole power of the enemy as manifested wherever He met it: diseases, want, possession, death; but he had departed from Him only “for a season,” because another difficulty, the carnal mind, enmity against God when He is displayed in goodness, had to be met. Hence he returns at the end: “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me.” Still it was Satan's hour and the power of darkness; yet that the Lord might triumph over him, accomplishing the work of redemption. All this is not merely a conflict of interests on earth. (p. 394.) It is a change in the whole condition of the world, and the relationship in which it stands with God, the world's condition. Satan was not yet cast down from heaven by power and victory in conflict carried on there. The promised Messiah present in person had been rejected, and with wicked hands crucified and slain. Was this simply a battle against “Christ's truth and the devil's lies in the persons of their respective adherents among men?” (p. 384.) That battle there was, and Christ's adherents fled, and then God's purposes were accomplished, surely, in the deepest personal humiliation, self-humiliation, of Christ. Blessed be God! it was so; but in which an event, to which none is parallel, took place by the public power of Satan—we can thank God—to the destruction of his power in a total change of everything. And He who was humbled will be glorified; and the head of him who bruised the Lord's heel will be itself bruised.
I will now go through the passages Dr. Brown refers to, to show how monstrous his glosses are; because once this setting aside of Satan's power by power, contrasted with overcoming his temptations by grace, is made clear, the whole question is settled between us. In the passages referred to we shall find the proof of that judicial destruction of the public power of Satan, which Dr. Brown, by fatal mistake, confounds with the victory of the heart over him by grace, when his power subsists. For this reason I do not insist on the proofs of that destruction now: the discussion of the passages will provide it.
Dr. B. first refers to Rev. 20:7, 1-3. His first objection is that it is found nowhere else; but this is a mistake. He must be aware, or ought to be, that with the exception of Job and Zechariah, Satan is not mentioned by name in the Old Testament., save in Chron. xxi. 1. (Satan provoked David to number Israel,) and Psa. 109 in both as an adversary. In Job we see Satan as an accuser, raising a storm to destroy Job's sons, smiting Job with diseases. He is only seen to excite lusts in urging Chaldeans and Sabeans to plunder; and in no case of lies and truth in any persons. In Zechariah be is seen in a vision resisting the high priest as an accuser. So in Psa. 109:6, it is a judgment on a wicked man to have Satan at his right hand. The truth is, till the true light came, neither the opposition of flesh and Spirit, nor the deceitful working of Satan, formed part of the public teaching or experience of the saints. But where the coming of the Lord in the judgment of this world is spoken of, (Isa. 24,) introducing the millennial state, even as Dr. B. admits, then we are told He shall punish the host of the high ones which were on high and the kings of the earth upon the earth (Compare 32:1).” I do not doubt that the flesh was at work, nor that the devil tempted and deceived them; but it is not the subject of Old Testament teaching, nor the acting of Satan's power in the world, nor is its destruction. Satan is never recognized as prince of this world till he was able to lead the world, Jew and Gentile, against Christ. He could not, while Jehovah ruled in His personal presence in Israel; and till Messiah came, God kept up that system more or less. The rejection of Christ marked out Satan as the prince of this world, yet the rejected One was to bruise his head. This was not by Christianity nor by individuals overcoming while Satan held his power. We wrestle against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places— there where our promises are; as Israel against flesh and blood where their promises were.
The possession of the Holy Ghost and the true light has shown us the spring and power of evil—the Devil and Satan; and we see the Father opposed to the world, the Son to Satan, and the Spirit to the flesh. We have seen a distinct reference to the casting down of these powers on high at the renewal of the world, in Isaiah; in the New Testament, his falling from heaven, this being his place of power; his being cast out of heaven, on which ensues a total change of governmental order, while to heaven he never returns. It is declared he shall be bruised under our feet shortly. That is, Scripture clearly contemplates the closing of the exercise of his power. The order of the setting aside of his power is stated. “There was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought, and the devil fought and his angels; and the place of these last was no more found in heaven.” According to Dr. B., this is Constantine. Let us see how this hangs together. “The Accuser of the brethren is cast down.” Did this cease in Constantine's time? If so, the whole condition of the Christian was changed. But no: this only means “he lost his party” at court! (p. 381.) And the court, I suppose, was to rejoice, and on the earth (the lower orders, says Dr. B.) woe (those who wished to be pagans: who can tell why?) He has great rage, knowing his time to be short, just 1260 days. But rage against whom? On this, or on what the woman is, total and convenient silence. The woman flees into the wilderness. I suppose we must hop over to Popery here. But that won't do, because those who follow this system say, that commenced two or three hundred years later; and, at any rate, if all is joy by the triumph of Christianity, how comes the same epoch to be the time of the woman's flight? Was there ever a lamer interpretation, or one more calculated to bring Scripture interpretation into contempt?
Is it not evident that here a display of divine power in heavenly places has cast down Satan from the place where we, it is expressly said, have to wrestle with him? While he was there, he accused the brethren. While he did, they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and their testimony. This accusation had ceased. Satan could no more enter heaven, as in Job, to do it. The dwellers in heaven could rejoice; their trial in this way was over. The rage of Satan was now to vent itself on earth. The woman, the Jewish people as God's people, became his object. Satan could be no longer an accuser. That salvation, strength, the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ was come, meant, we are told, that it had taken a glorious start—that it is “the progress of what had been for centuries finding it hard, in the heat of continual persecution, to keep its ground.” (p. 381.) Yet strange to say, the chapter tells us that the change was to the great rage of Satan and persecution, so that the woman had to flee entirely out of the scene. Only Christianity was well at court! His being cast out to the earth is his seeking to create a party among the people! (p. 382) which, note, he had before. Dr. B. says the expulsion was brought about by the Christians overcoming by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony. But the chapter states that they overcame him in this way, while he was the accuser and in heaven. His overthrow was by the exercise of power in Michael and the angelic host. In every case it is not a victory of faithfulness, but a judicial destruction of power, which brought about a new state of things. It was not adherents to Christ's cause victorious over the influence of Satan's lies, but a judicial action of God overthrowing Satan's royal power in their favor. It is not a battle “between Christ's truth and the devil's lies in the persons of their respective adherents amongst men” (p. 384); or (pp. seq.) “just the Christians, or Christ in them, believing men sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb, undaunted in witnessing for Jesus, as became pardoned men, and ready to go as sheep to the slaughter for his name's sake.” • • • • “Thus is the devil represented as cast out of the Pagan world by the instrumentality of believing men.” This is Michael and his angels fighting in heaven, and Satan and his angels cast out, so that he accused the brethren no more there, but persecuted them with relentless rage on the earth; the christianizing of the empire, that is. (p. 380.) Afterward, when the 1260 days are finished, during which the blaspheming beast had his power, (the precise period of Satan being on the earth when cast out of heaven, but which is the christianizing the empire, if we are to believe Dr. B.,) then the beast makes war against the Lamb; the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet having gathered the kings of the earth for the final struggle. The beast is taken, and then Satan, who had raged the three years and a half, is bound in the bottomless pit. Such is the progress of the exercise of the Lord's power against Satan, not of the saints' overcoming.
But there is a statement of this book just alluded to, which shows the more than absurdity of this whole system of interpretation. The coming of the kingdom and salvation of God, and the power of His Christ is Constantine's accession to the throne, we are told. Thereupon, says the passage, the three years and a half begins of Satan's great rage and the persecution of the woman; but this three years and a half is the time of the reign of the blasphemous beast out of the bottomless pit; so that the coming of salvation, power, and the kingdom is, according to Dr. B's system, the setting up of the power of the blasphemous beast, who is worshipped, and has every one killed he can, that does not do so! Can absurdity of a system go farther? Now take the chapter simply. The woman is the Jewish system. Satan, the prince of the power of the air, is really cast out from his place of heavenly power, where the Church had to contend with him when he was the accuser of the brethren. He is victoriously expelled thence by angelic power. But he thereupon comes down to earth, raging at his defeat and casting down, to remain yet three years and a half on earth. He thereon persecutes the woman—the Jewish people, faithful to God, but they are preserved by God—setting up the last blasphemous state of the Roman empire. At the end of this period, (the same as that stated in Dan. 12, to which the Lord refers in connection with Jerusalem,) the Lord comes as King of kings, and Lord of lords, the persecuting beast or blasphemous empire is destroyed, and Satan bound, so as not to deceive the nations till a thousand years are over. It is not grace given to overcome his wiles, as is expressly said to be the Christian position, (end that in its most advanced state, as in the Epistle to the Ephesians,) but Satan not allowed to exercise his wiles. Power external to man, divine power, figuratively represented by an angel with a great chain, binds the adversary and hinders his attempts to deceive the nations. It is evident that grace given to overcome is different from the putting down the power, so that it is not there to be overcome. God has taken to Him great power, and reigns, (Rev. 11,) and the worldly kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ come. It was not come before, as God's taking to Him His power and reigning. The saints were in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. Christ is now expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. Then He will trample on them. But He has not them now to trample on: He is sitting on the right hand of the Father, expecting that time. Nothing, it seems to me, can be simpler, and proved by, or rather stated from, concurrent passages from various parts of the Scripture.
The difference of interpretation arises from this: Dr. B. judges of what must be from his own notions of what ought to be. The statement I have made is taken from Scripture itself. He says, (p. 386,) speaking of the binding of Satan: “Has the Church, in all time before, come to the help of the Lord against the mighty? and has the Lord, reversing all His former methods, come now to the help of the Church against the mighty? I think not; It is Christ's doing, doubtless; but it is His doing in and by His Church.” He then refers to Rev. 19:20, and says the Church will do both. (p. 386.) I believe the Church will have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air; but let that pass. The Lord does reverse His former methods. Up to this, Christ was expecting till His enemies were made His footstool. Now they are made such, and the Lord takes to Him His great power, and reigns. Satan, heretofore an accuser in heaven, is now cast down; the salvation and kingdom of God is come, and the power of His Christ; and Satan is bound who before was not bound, and no longer allowed to deceive the nations which hitherto he had done. This is a total change in the state of things. “I think not,” is no answer to scriptural statement such as this.

The Value of Moral and Miraculous Evidences

EVIDENCES suppose either reluctance to receive or difficulties inherent in man as to the reception of truth. If man's mind met the truth as such at once, there would be no need of any evidences, no need of our new school investigating so much. But men do reason to prove the truth: that is, it is not intuitively known or necessarily received. The new school declares the human mind productive of truth, as being an intelligence which is the divine Word in finite action in man. Christianity declares the truth to be revealed in and by Christ and those sent by Him. And as to ordinary men, Christ has declared “because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” And, again, “He was in the world, and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and His own received him not.” “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” That truth was found by man, is false; it was not: he arrived at “what is truth?” Christ came to bear witness to it. Now, assuming that there is such a thing as truth, (and there must be, or there is nothing; for if there is something, a true statement or knowledge of what it is, is the truth,) either man is omniscient, or be wants the truth to be made known to him. If he does, he needs evidences, unless he be so absolutely proper for its reception, that to state it is sufficient for its reception; that is, unless the truth be self-evident. If he be not so receptive of truth, and we are sure he is not, he needs evidences of it, because he has reluctance or difficulties.
But I go farther. Truth cannot really be self-evident to a creature, because let men be as proud as they will, in a creature the moral condition depends on the object he is occupied with. Is it gold, he is covetous; power, he is ambitious; and so on. Hence the moral condition is the fruit of the object. There may be lusts and tendencies dominant; but actual character is determined by an object. Now to know goodness as a creature without a revelation of it, I must be perfectly good. But I am not—far from it. When, therefore, it comes, it finds me not perfectly good. I do not know whether any one pretends to being perfect goodness; if not, he is something as a morally active being, he is selfish. A revelation of perfect goodness meets selfishness, which is incapable of receiving it. Besides, in fact, there is corruption, prejudice, superstition, into which selfishness has formed itself. And God, who is light as well as love, makes havoc with this. “No man, having drunk old wine, straightway desireth new, for he saith, The old is better.”
If your infidel says, man is innocent, and education has given him prejudices and connected his will with his lusts, so as to make passions; I say, be it so: I do not believe it; but be it so. But man is educated; he is a Jew, a Romanist, a Heathen, a Protestant. Pure truth comes; it meets his prejudices, and evidences are needed. If these are sent, it is the activity of grace. They are not simply to prove the truth, (to a mind which sees truth as truth, it needs no proof,) but to prove it to man, because man is prejudiced, and deeply prejudiced. But man has a conscience, and the truth does reach it, even when will is opposed; man has a heart, yea, selfishness, and is miserable; man can feel goodness, though opposed to the claim of God over his will as light. For if God reveals Himself, He must claim subjection, and, to bless, must make man give up his will, that own will, which is alienation from God and mixes in his lusts. Attraction is felt, the claim felt in conscience, the claim of goodness, the beauty of what is holy felt in conscience, what God is is felt; but there are deep obscurities, through prejudice and lusts, and reluctance through feeling how much it will cost. Ignorance of what God ought to be, prejudice against what He is. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?
What is to be done? Man ought to receive grace and truth, light and love. Yet he would not want it revealed, if he were not morally in contradiction of will with it. God gives adequate evidences to overtop the prejudices, to force on the mind that what is presented to it must be the revelation of God. Men have inquired as to receiving truth because of miracles, or miracles because of truth. Both and neither. Men ought to receive truth because it is truth—abstractedly ought; for, unfallen, he would not need a revelation; fallen puts the case that be is indisposed; but, abstractedly, a nature suited to truth would receive the truth. “If I tell you the truth, why do ye not believe me?” But this is not so. Man does not like to come to the light because his deeds are evil. God therefore in grace gives evidences, miracles if you please, when the revelation of the truth is there. Not when it has been admitted as truth, to speak historically, But this is great grace. “Believe me,” says Christ, “that I am in my Father, and my Father in me, or else believe me for the very works' sake.” There is the place of truth and of miracles, “which at first began to be spoken of the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard it, God bearing witness by signs and miracles,” &c.; so “confirming the word by signs following.”
Where faith was founded only on miracles, the Lord did not own it; there was nothing moral in it. But He did give miracles to help men to believe the holy truth of love. But men say, all is to be reduced to general laws; and if anything cannot, it cannot be believed. God would not disturb general laws. The most general law is, that God is love; and miracles, used as I have said, show this more than a physical law. I affirm that, compared with miracles, general laws are nothing as a revelation of God. There are general laws, I admit. An increasing number of phenomena may be reduced to them, perhaps, had we all the secrets of nature—all of them. I will suppose that, however irregular phenomena may appear, all can be reduced to general laws. But I do not know hereby a personal God; I do not know Him morally. All goes on admirably. I am so constituted—for this is the real fact—that, seeing a creature, I suppose a Creator. As has been often said, a design proves to the human mind a designer; rather it is inherent in the idea, that is, in the constitution of man. When I say design, I think of a person, a cause for what exists. Constituted as I am, I cannot help doing so. Now this proves I cannot know God. For I cannot think of a thing's existing without a cause. But He exists without a cause, as we have said—this is His very nature as God. And what makes me know there is one, proves I cannot, in the nature of things, know Him. But that is not my object now. The knowledge that there is a God is no personal revelation of God—no revelation at all. I conclude there must be. I am right. I conclude to immense power, and pretty surely to His unity—the apostle says, His eternal power and Godhead—a solemn truth, from which many an inquiry may arise. Where is He? Who is He? Is He good? Does He think now at present of men? Does He govern all things? I have only a conclusion of my own mind that there must be a God of power who made the universe; not that there is—no conclusion gives this, because my conclusion is only the sequence of an idea. But am I in any relationship with Him?
Am I part of a system governed by general laws and no more?—for the absoluteness of these is insisted upon. If I am not a part of these general laws, what relationship have I with God?
My new schoolman tells me I have a conscience and reason, am free, and so forth: that is, I am not governed like a planet by general laws. Ah, ah! Then, in all that is really important, (that is, what is moral,) I am not a mere machine, under a general law. And you would persuade me God is and cannot help Himself, nor act freely in respect of my freedom! I am free, and He is not. Then, certainly, I am God, not He. Now, general laws give me no revelation of God personally; and when I enter into detail, I am lost even as to my conclusions. My conscience tells me He must be good. But I look around and see misery, evil; men worshipping Jupiter, Venus, Pluto; men in every degradation that human nature is capable of; babes in torture, grown men in sin, oppression, and a groaning creation. Is this a general law? Where is the goodness?
There is another world, you say. Perhaps I hope so. Will the oppressor, the seducer, the corrupter, the tyrant, be there? What proof have you? Your instinct tells you so. Is that all you have to comfort me? Has the instinct of men given them any clear idea of it? Had the heathen such? Are life and incorruptibility brought to light anywhere?
In theory a God of mere general laws is a dead God for me as to present moral relationship; and when I turn to facts, I see it is false, or evil must be a general law too. Now, where there is One who reveals the truth and works miracles, I am brought into relationship with a God who acts personally, so that I know Him. I see what He is, what He is about. He is righteous, He is love. He thought it worthwhile to come down into a world full of misery, which man's free will had brought in, to show Himself good in it, more mighty than the evil, to reveal Himself as the resource; to make Himself known, on the one hand, and to make the moral revelation of Himself in the truth valid in the hearts of men paramount to all prejudices, on the other. If it be love, it cannot be a general law. Not that love is not the general law of God's nature, as I said; but love in exercise must have its occasion—suited occasion—must be free, or it is not love. But if God acts in the world to make Himself known, He thereby works miracles; for God's acting thus is a miracle. He does not contradict, does not suspend the general law, as a law. Men die as they died before, nay, they died again if He raised them; but He acted by a power which was not subject to the general law, because He is God and takes an individual out of it by His own power, without touching the law. The queen does not abrogate a law when she pardons. That power is a part of a more general law. The most general law of all is that God is always God, and cannot act contrary to Himself; but can always act as God when He pleases.
Thus I know God—His own mind, disposition, interest in man, goodness, love. I know what sin is thereby; for it is departure of will from Him. But unless this new school deny all the truth of Christianity, their theory of general laws is wholly false. Is the resurrection by God's power or not? Does man rise of himself by some common law of his nature, or is the resurrection the fruit of the intervention of God in power? If so, the system of general laws adduced against miraculous Christians is all nonsense. God does interfere by power, freely to bring the great result of moral dealings to an issue.
Besides, the theory of judging by general laws is false in principle. It takes man's experience of the physical course of things (for that this world is an adequate witness of God's moral government, though there is one, is a horrible lie) as the sole and absolute measure of what God is and can do. What proof is there of this? I am told it is complete. It is not; morally, it is no such thing; and your experience of what God is in the laws of the universe is no adequate measure of what God is. But, I repeat, miracles are a far more real revelation of God Himself than general laws—moral revelation. I am not personally in relationship with God by general laws; I am by free miracles, not done necessarily on me or for me, but in which God's free action shows what God personally is in His actings. I ask if Christ's miracles did not do this—did not show the intervention of God in goodness in a world of misery? There are instances of judgment when it was to deliver others, and that is part of the character of God; there are permitted displays of Satan's power that we might know it. Why are any of them inherently incredible? Who is the judge? Man's experience? Nonsense! He cannot have an experience of miracles. It is merely saying, there cannot be because there cannot be; because I do not think God ought to do them. You do not! What is incredible? Was God not powerful to do them? You cannot say so. Was He not good enough? Ah! that is perhaps what is incredible for you: I thank God, it is not for me. But if in a world of misery God was winning the confidence of men's hearts to His goodness, what more credible than miracles? i. e., extraordinary displays of power, sufficient to show God's intervention, so that men might know not only that evil was not of Him, but that. He had come to man's help as good. This may be incredible for the new school: they may study the movements, of Jupiter, and speculate on the fall of empires, as based on general laws; but a personal God of goodness they do not like to know. It has inherent incredibility, for them. But there is no personal relationship with God without it. I delight in the thought of seeing God manifested here below, spending Himself to win the confidence of men's hearts who, as offenders, were afraid, and using the very wretchedness they were in by sin to draw their hearts to Him out of it. True, it was inherently incredible to Pharisees and Sadducees then. He could not be of God; He did not keep the Sabbath. They were grieved that the apostles taught the resurrection. But Jesus cared for the poor of the flock, and, in spite of Pharisees, would win by speaking “as never man spake,” and by doing so that “it was never seen on that fashion.” If power acting in goodness to win the hearts of the poor to God is inherently incredible, I know where the heart is to whom it is so.
Such, then, is the place of miracles. The abiding thing is the truth of the being of that personal objective God who is revealed by these means. Miracles are a means of knowledge as evidence. The truth, and the Son—who is the truth, revealing the Father, revealing God—is that which is evidenced. When unbelief ceases, miracles are useless as evidence; but as being the fruit and exhibition, of the power and love of God, they remain always the object of increased delight; and in Christ's miracles it is impossible to separate His ways and feelings and thoughts from them, when we have any detail.
Miracles, then, have a double character. They are confirmatory signs graciously given, and especially Christian miracles, a present witness of the intervention of power in grace. Where Christianity is believed and professed, so far as they are proofs, they lose their importance—are out of place. So far as they have the second character, the record of them, which is here supposed to be received, is a witness to the heart that God is come in to help, and how He is come in. The Word alone reveals this directly as revelation. At any time faith founded on miracles was nothing worth, because miracles do not quicken. We are begotten by the Word of truth, and so children by faith. When believed only by reason of miracles, the Lord did not trust Himself to them; He knew what was in man. As removing opposing hindrances in the mind, and strengthening man against unbelief, they are precious to our compound nature. There is much that removes unbelief, acts on our old nature—even solid reasoning does—that does not give faith nor a new nature, but removes the opposition of nature and silences it, and attracts the heart. This if alone is nothing. There must be something positively new which a man cannot give himself, and which no proof produces. A really new nature or life, which man receives, is a first principle, and one of the main vital questions of the day. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit: except we are so, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. Of His own will begat He us by the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures. Infidelity seeks to set up man as he is—will accept Christ if He serves for that. The doctrine of Scripture is that there is a second man, a last Adam; and as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy, and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
When we meet with infidelity now, it has the character of apostasy and antagonism. It may be open as in the last century, or covert as in this; but it has essentially this character. Early opposition was not apostasy; nor did it, indeed, deny the miracles: they were too recent. They ascribed them, as Celsus, to magic, or cited Apollonius Tyaneus as having wrought such too; or the Jews talked of magic learned in Egypt and the theft of the Shem-hammaphoresh out of the temple. Still that was antagonism, and had to be so treated. Now it is more. It is apostasy in principle, and has to be treated as such—covert, I admit, using Christ's name, but only so much the worse. Christianity has been publicly admitted as the religion of God, its record accepted as the record of God, miracles and all; and then men begin to cavil, and oppose, and undermine, not being honest enough to throw it off, or sometimes happily kept back by spiritual instinct; but as a system, it is apostasy in principle. Hence there is less hope, and the record has to be proved, objections answered, miracles to be proved, not a proof. In this case we must show their folly as reasoners, and trust to the Word, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. For them I should look much more to the power of the Word in grace. If the record have power in them, they will see the miracles with ft, and the perfect beauty and suitableness of them in such a revelation of God. Proofs may show the absurdity of doubts, and so far are useful. They may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, but cannot give faith.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Luke 18:10-14

Luke 18:10-14.
Q. (1.) What is the instruction conveyed by the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican?
What is the force of “with himself,” in verse 11?
What is meant by “afar off,” in verse 13?
What is to be understood by “be merciful?” Is the English Version faulty here? Is propitiation or reconciliation expressed by the Greek?
What is meant by the word “justified?"' Is “rather” introduced without warrant? Is the sense, justified perfectly, or comparatively? Are we taught here that the publican went down to his house “justified” in the doctrinal sense of Rom. 3; 4:5; 8? T.
A. (1.) The parable teaches God's judgment of those who trust in their own righteousness and despise others, as the introductory verse expressly says. The entire context shows the setting aside of self for the kingdom of God; of self in any form you please. Self-righteousness is excluded in this parable; self-importance is rebuked in the incident of the little children blessed of Jesus.; self, in the way of amiable nature, moral habits, high position, and large possessions, is treated as null and void in the rich ruler. The greatest advantages, humanly speaking, of flesh and world, are a hindrance, not a help, to the kingdom.
(2.)The phrase, “prayed thus with himself,” (πρὸς ἑαυτόν,) means that he prayed to this effect, not aloud in the hearing of others, but silently. We can easily see from what follows, that there was neither heart nor conscience in the matter, unlike the broken, humbled, publican; but communion with others was hardly in question in either case. What God wanted and valued was the conscience in His presence, and this the publican evinced, not the Pharisee.
(3.) The standing of the publican “afar off,” was a just and simple expression of his distance from God as a sinner; and the more appropriate, as though touched of the Spirit and penitent, the work was not yet done which brings nigh to God.
(4.) Hence, also, I believe that the English Bible quite rightly renders ἱλάσθητί μοι “be merciful to me.” No doubt, it differs from the expression ἐλέησόν με, in verses 38, 39, as the special differs from the more general phrase. But there is nothing in the Greek, any more than in the English, which implies that the publican was here pleading propitiation, still less reconciliation. Undoubtedly, in God's mind, mercy could only be shown to a sinful man in virtue of the foreseen atonement of the Savior; but the phrase itself, in the mouth and supposed condition of the publican, does not go beyond his heart's appeal for God's pardoning mercy to the sinner before Him, if ever there was one. (τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ) So in Psa. 25:11, David cries, “For thy name's sake, Ο Lord, pardon (ἱλάσῃ in the LXX.) my iniquity, for it is great.” A doctrinal reference is not the point in either, though we know, of course, that there was only one way whereby the cry could be answered. The mere word no more necessarily teaches “propitiation,” than the Englishman does who talks of “propitious weather.” Compare the use of the kindred word Ἵλεως in Matt. 16:22.
(5.) There is no ground to infer that “justification,” as taught in Romans and elsewhere, is meant in the expression, not only for reasons involved in what has been remarked already, but yet more, because our Lord does not say that he “went down to his house justified.” We must beware of taking from Scripture no less than of adding to it. Now the sense here is not absolute but comparative justification, just as in that expression of Judah in the Septuagint Version of Gen. 38:26, δεδικαίωται Θάμαρ ἢ ἐγώ “Thamar is justified rather than I,” (i. e., more righteous.) “Rather,” or “more,” is decidedly implied by the commonly received reading, ἢ ἐκεῖνος. For my own part, however, I cannot but prefer παῤ ἐκεῖνον, the reading of the Vatican, Sinai, and Paris (No. 62) Uncials, supported by some good cursives and other authorities. This probably gave rise to ἢ γαρ ἐκεῖνος by a blunder of the scribes, which found its way into the great majority of copies. Beza's MS. (D) is almost a paraphrase as to this, μαλλον παρ αιακεινον τοω φαρισαιον. But every variation proves that the sense intended is that the publican was justified in comparison with the Pharisee, and therefore that the doctrinal allusion is out of the question.

Scripture Query and Answer: Rapture Before the Tribulation

Q. Is there anything in such Scriptures as Rev. 7:9; 11:15-18 and 20:4, which justify the inference that the Church will not be caught up before the tribulation of the last days? What appears to be the strong, plain, and sure conclusion forced on us by a due consideration of the full corps of the royal and priestly elders seen in heaven from chapter iv. and thenceforward? Are not these twenty-four elders the complete symbol of the heads of the heavenly priesthood glorified above before the tribulation begins? How could this he applied before the rapture, which accordingly is nowhere hinted at afterward? The rapture must have taken place before Rev. 4, for the result of it is then beheld in the full company of the enthroned elders, who represent the saints transfigured and translated to the heavens. Matt. 3:12; John 17:20, 21; and 1 Thess. 1:6, 7, have been similarly pressed: What think you? =============================
A. Undoubtedly, in my judgment these scriptures harmonize with, if they do not even suppose and confirm, the previous removal of the saints to meet the Lord in the air. For 1. Rev. 7:9 distinguishes in the sharpest way between the innumerable crowd of Gentiles and the elders, and restricts these blessed Gentiles to the epoch of the great tribulation. Nor is it by any means certain, to say the least, that they compose a heavenly company; indeed to me the evidence seems to point rather to earthly blessedness in the day of glory. What might be cited to show that they are heavenly is that they are seen in heaven in the prophet's vision. But this of itself no more proves that in the accomplishment of the vision the Gentile multitude are to be glorified in heaven, than the presentation of the woman in the beginning of Rev. 12 proves that her actual place will be there when this prophecy is fulfilled.
As little does the seventh trumpet in Rev. 11 decide the question of rapture before or after the tribulation. In fact, there is not the slightest allusion to that act of grace in the passage, and therefore no warrant for confounding “the last trump” in 1 Cor. 15 with it. The trumpets in Revelation are a symbolic series peculiar to the book, consisting of judgments and the last three of “woes” even, the last of all bringing in the closing scene of divine judgment, and of course, therefore, the reward of the righteous. In 1 Cor. 15, on the other hand, the reference is solely to the saints risen or changed, and the origin is a military allusion drawn from the final signal when the legion sets out on its march from its old encampment. It would be a mistake to confound with either of these the blowing of the great trumpet (Isa. 27) which gathers in the elect of Israel to the land of their inheritance. Each must be interpreted by its own context.
Rev. 20:4 is, to me, strikingly in favor of the view that the rapture of the saints symbolized by the elders is before the tribulation. For we have, first, thrones filled with saints to whom judgment is given; and these are no other than the elders, or those already glorified. Then are seen two distinct classes in the disembodied state, “the souls of those beheaded,” &c., who are then, and not before, caused to live in time for the first resurrection and the reign with Christ. “The first resurrection” is a phrase in no way importing that all who share it are raised at the same moment; but that all who do so are raised a thousand years and more before the rest of the dead, so as to enjoy the millennial reign along with their Savior. These disembodied ones who had suffered unto death under the Beast, are not raised evidently till the Beast and Satan are disposed of; bat who believes that the Church and the Old Testament saints are not changed and caught up before? Rev. 17:14; 19:14, are too plain.
4. As to Matt. 3 it does not refer to the question of the time of the rapture to heaven, any more than John 17 “The floor” seems clearly to denote a Jewish scene; and the sifting of corn is quite as certainly said of Israel as of the heavenly saints. But apart from this, there is nothing here for deciding the question of sphere, time, or way. Again, the view of John 17:20, 21, which supposes, not that it was accomplished at Pentecost or just after, but that it awaits the persecutions of the last Antichrist to drive the frightened sheep all together, and that this is evidence that the Church cannot be translated before those days of trial, appears to me to demand no comment; 2 Thess. 1:6. 7, is a fair question, and so is the answer. For the point revealed is the manner in which the Lord will deal in public retribution. Now, there will be nothing of the sort till the Lord appears in judgment. The previous rapture of the heavenly saints (even if we suppose it now to be ever so sure) is not of any such nature, but a pure and crowning net of grace, altogether outside the world. But “the day of the Lord,” in which, on one side, the changed saints come and appear with Himself in glory, and, on the other side, their persecutors are smitten with His vengeance; “that day,” and none before, is stamped with the character of solemn, righteous award to the glorified saints and to their enemies. Then only will the Lord recompense tribulation to the troubling world, and rest to the troubled Church. The question of the rapture is quite apart from the point discussed in these verses.


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Notes on Isaiah 7

IN the last chapter we saw the glory of Christ revealed, and the assurance of a holy seed after the judgment of the land and people. We have now a weighty sequel recounting facts which occurred not in the year King Uzziah died, nor even in the days of his successor, but in those of Ahaz. It could not otherwise have been clearly gathered how the glory of Christ was actually to appear. Our chapter solves this question, and connects His revelation with His rejection and His final and everlasting triumph. (Chap. 8., 9:1-7.) The first part alone comes before us now.
The occasion was the offensive alliance of Resin, King of Syria, with Pekah, Remaliah's son and King of Israel, against Judah and Ahaz. “And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim; and his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.” There were they in great fear, where no fear was, and this alas! in Jerusalem and David's house; and no wonder, for the heir of David's throne walked not like David, his father, but in the ways of the King of Israel or worse, and made Judah naked and transgressed sore against the Lord. Panic stricken, yet in no way driven by his distress to God, Ahaz is met by the prophet, with his son Shear-jashub, who says from the Lord, “Take heed and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal,” &c. (Ver. 1-6.)
How foolish, as well as base, is unbelief! It is joyous and confident when a laboring volcano is about to burst; it is filled with anguish, when God is going to deal with the evils it dreads. In this case, how could He behold in peace a compact between apostate Israel and heathen Syria? It was not merely that their enterprise, if successful, must vex Judah, but set aside David's line. It was a blow at the Messiah, little as they might have thought of this; and the oath and honor of God were thus at stake. But “thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Resin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” (Ver. 7-9.)
How blessed are the ways of God! The effort to destroy, which seemed so awful to its objects, especially as their conscience was bad, led at once to the revelation of the doom of the destroyers. The Syrian chief would not avail to shield more guilty Ephraim; for it was sentenced—yea to be so broken as not to be a people within sixty-five years; and so it was to the letter. (2 Kings 17) The chief of Ephraim's capital is paraded before us like his ally in due form and title; but who were they to dispute the counsels of God as to David's Royal line, let Ahaz be personally unbelieving, as he might be and was? God at least is God, and His word shall stand forever, though surely the infidel shall not be established.
But this was only the prelude to the weightier announcement that follows: “Moreover, the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God: ask it either in the depth or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.” (Ver.10-12.) Alas! how often the hypocrisy of unbelief thus essays to hide its contempt of the Lord; and thorough presumption, which really despises the word of His grace, assumes the garb of superior reverence and humility. The prophet, however, sees through the cheat put forward by an evil heart of unbelief and calls now on the house of David to hear, not alone his reproof, but the sign which the Lord Himself was to give. “Behold a [or, the] virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel.” Marvelous grace so to promise to such a man! Yet in truth, grace condemns unbelief and all other sin as the law never did or could. Had Ahaz asked any sign within his range of earth or heaven, how immeasurably short of God's! If man refuses to ask through unbelief, God fails not to give a sign for His own glory: the virgin's son, the woman's seed, Emmanuel! What thoughts and feelings cluster here together! The security of David's royal line and rights, what was it more than the predicted ruin of plotting Ephraim, in the presence of the sign, the truth of truths—God with us? Yet was it the assurance, if its grandeur betokened other and higher glories, that no conspiracy could prosper which struck at this Root and Offspring of David.
It is scarcely necessary perhaps, and yet for some readers it may be a help, to observe that the “son,” Emmanuel, in verse 14, is not “the child” of verse 16, which last refers rather to Shear-jashub, who for this reason seems to have accompanied the prophet. “For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrent shall be forsaken of both her kings.” It will be noticed, accordingly that here we have Isaiah turning from “the house of David,” “ye” and “you,” to “thou,” &c. i.e., Ahaz. Compare verses 13, 14 with 10, 17. And it is certain that the prophet's child, Shear-jashub, had the character of a “sign,” (see chap. 8:18,) though and of course very distinct from the great sign, the virgin's son, From verse 16, the king was to learn, that before that child, then present, arrived at years of discretion, the allied kings must disappear from the scene. And so they did: for three years more scarce passed over its youthful head before the kings of Israel and Syria fell before the treachery or might of their enemies.
Should guilty Ahaz and Judah, then, go unpunished? In no wise, as the prophet proceeds to let him know. “The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah, even the King of Assyria. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.” (Ver. 17-19.) The faith of Hezekiah might stay the execution of Judah's judgment, and the King of Assyria was rebuked for a season. But even Josiah, faithful as he was, suffered for his rash opposition to “the fly that is in the uttermost parts of the rivers of Egypt;” and “the bee that is in the land of Assyria” stung yet more fiercely at the summons of Jehovah. “In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the King of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep. And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land. And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns. With arrows and with bows shall men come thither, because all the land shall become briers and thorns. And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.” (Ver. 20-25.) The character of Israel's land should thus be wholly changed; and so complete the desolation ensuing that the owner of a young cow and two sheep would find the amplest range for his scanty flock in the wildernesses that succeeded to the rich cornfields of Palestine, and himself be fed on the nourishment proper to wandering hordes, not on the food of cultivated lands. What a picture! Yes, and the best of vineyards (comp. Song of Sol. 8.) becomes a bed of briers and thorns; and men cannot pass unprotected by bows and arrows; and the carefully tended hills are turned into a place for oxen and lesser cattle. So dark as well as minute are the lines in which the sorrowful change in Judea is set before her king.

Remarks on Mark 2:23-28

THE incident of the first Sabbath-day is here recorded, which, in point of fact, took place at this very time; for we must constantly bear in mind that Mark pursues the thread of history. Our Lord is intimating the break that was about to take place with Judaism and the introduction of the new character and power of the kingdom of God. Now this is a very serious truth always, but it was peculiarly solemn to Israel. What more perplexes a godly person than the very thought of God changing His mind? What difficulty greater than the notion that God could, as it were, unsay or undo what He had previously laid down? And I think there ought to be great delicacy in dealing with souls where we find there is a godly jealousy as to this, even though it may be ignorant, and not without prejudice. But still it was the evident fact, that what God set up for a specific purpose in Israel never fully reflected His own mind. Eternal truth, breaking through the clouds of Judaism, shone out in the person of Christ, and is now verified in experience as well as faith by the Spirit's working in the children of God.
In a word, it was never the purpose of God to reveal Himself and bring out all His mind. in connection with the Jews, but with the Church. Christianity and not Judaism is the expression of God's mind. Christ Himself, properly speaking, is the image of the invisible God; and Christianity is the practical present result. It is the application of the life, mind, and affections of Christ to the heart and walk of those who are brought to God; and this, founded on His work and correspondent to His place in heaven by the Spirit sent down. All through the Jewish system, as well as before it, there were souls waiting for Christ, and the only persona that ever honored God in the Jewish system were those who, by faith, were above that system. Those alone walked blameless in the various ordinances of the law who looked for the Messiah. It was this expectation, given by the Spirit of God, which lifted them above the earthly thoughts, the groveling desires, the selfishness of nature. It raised them above themselves, if one may so say, as well as above their fellows, for there is always divine power in Christ; and although it was far more fully displayed after Christ came, yet, (as one may see before the sun rises, there is such a thing as the dawn, and streaks that betoken the coming day) so those who looked by the faith of Christ beyond the mere passing shadows which met and satisfied the religiousness of nature—those only honored God even in the outward ordinances of Israel. It is the same principle now as ever, but in a fuller way; because nothing is more certain than that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the saint of God, in the Christian. But how is it fulfilled? Never merely by endeavoring to keep the law. It never was fulfilled in that way nor can be. In point of fact, as we know, the men that were thus jealous for the law were themselves the greatest and bitterest of the enemies of the Lord Jesus. You know it was fleshly pride as to the law which blinded them into the delusion, that even our blessed Lord Himself did not sufficiently honor it. We easily gather that Paul was taxed with the same reproach. And Stephen too was stoned to death because of this fertile and fatal mistake. So that we may lay it down as a fixed point, that the men who put the ordinances, or the outward regulations of God, in the place of God and Christ Himself, are men that never keep it; even as Stephen told the Jews that they received the law by the disposition of angels, and had not kept it. These were the men whose voices were loudest about it to those who really honored God in that law as well as in the faith of the Messiah.
Take every believer—I do not say on every occasion; for there is, sad to say, a danger of our own nature working, and that nature neither believes in Jesus nor keeps the law, but is a lawbreaking, Christ-denying thing: the flesh is enmity against God Himself, and nature working its own way always dishonors God. But take the believer—not when he is yielding to his own corrupt nature; take him where, in truth alone, so to speak, we can rightly think of a believer as such—in the exercise of his faith, in the manifestation of the new life which the grace of God has given him; and what is the character of this life? It cleaves to God, it delights in His word, it loves His will, it is attracted by whatever manifests Him. All proves that the believer loves God in heart and soul, loves Him better than himself, for he hates himself, and is ready to own, just so far as faith is in operation, his own folly, his frequent and shameful failure, while he seeks to justify and cleave to God, and delights to make Him known. How comes this? It is that divine principle of life, the energy of the Spirit of God, acting in the new man which enjoys each thing that flows from and displays God, and is the exercise of the new nature which we derive from God. Again, the believer, just in proportion as he has Christ before his soul, walks in the Spirit according to the will of God: if he has not Christ before him, it is as if he had no new nature; life is there, but it is only Christ that maintains, and manifests, and brings it out, giving its full exercise and scope. The believer's heart goes out towards misery, yea, towards poor guilty sinners. Flesh despises and hates, or is indifferent; but the new nature, under the Spirit's power, goes out in compassion and desire for another's blessing. There, I say, is love again; and thus you have the two great moral principles, love to God and love to man. The believer, and the believer alone, walks in them; if he has Christ in his eye, he has them in his heart, and the Holy Ghost strengthens him to walk accordingly. It is thus that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in those that walk after the Spirit. The Spirit of God, is careful to show it is fulfilled in them that walk after the Spirit, not in such as only stand for the law.
Take the Jew, to whom the law was given; does he manifest real love? I do not say that some are not upright men, possessed of natural benevolence. The question now is of the manifestation of active love to God and man. If men have merely the law before them, what then? The Jew himself is the most striking example and proof that flesh is good for nothing; he is bent upon his own things in this world, coveting a place everywhere, loving money, and so on, of which we are all of us apt to be guilty by nature. Undoubtedly this is the case with the mere unconverted Israelite or the nominal Christian, in whom the Holy Ghost does not act. Unless Christ, either as an object of hope before He came, or now since He has come as the object of faith, be before the heart, there is no reality, nor can be, because the flesh is a false and hating thing. Unless a man have a new nature distinct from and above his own, there never is true (that is, divine) love. The one means of accomplishing the law is to have Christ before and above us, yet in that our portion by faith. Hence it was that Enoch and Noah, and the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who never heard of the law, yet obeyed and pleased God. Were they not holy and godly men? Certainly they were. What made them so? The faith of the woman's seed, the promised Son, the Messiah. Then, when the law was given, what was it that made Moses and Aaron saints of the Lord? The law? Never. It was Christ. It was having Him before their soul. Not that God's law was not honored; but what enabled them to delight in the expression of God's mind—be it what it might—was their looking for and believing in God's blessed promise of the coming Deliverer, the Kinsman Redeemer. And now He is come, that which has delivered us from wrath and judgment, delivers us also, in proportion as it is the object of our souls, practically from self and the world, from corruption and violence of every kind. Let Christ be forgotten by a believer, what is the effect? He shows the pride, vanity, foolishness, malice of the old man; it is not of course, what is proper to him as a believer, but what belonged to him as a man before he believed. Self is allowed to come out and show its own hateful colors, when Christ is not the one standard and object who fills the mind's eye and heart.
Now our Lord, at this very time, brings out, in His pointed acts connected with the Sabbath-day, an illustration of what has been before us; and I take this opportunity of dwelling on it a little in a practical way and also doctrinally, seeking the instruction for our own souls that the Lord gives us in these incidents. It is true, that the first and primary object was to fill up what He had already shown. To put a new piece upon an old garment would only make the rent worse; so to pour new wine into old bottles would only risk the loss both of the wine and the bottles. The attempt to mix the new forms and spirit of the kingdom of God with the old ways of Judaism, would only end—not in mending Judaism nor in preserving Christianity, but—in the ruin of both. And this precisely has been the issue in the history of Christendom. The palpable failure of the outward Christian profession is the practical evidence of this truth. What Satan aimed at was to mingle together the old Jewish ordinances with Christian truth, and the result is such painful confusion that the light of truth and the grace of God are utterly darkened; such a complete jumbling together that simple souls are perplexed, to their exceeding loss and damage. They cannot in such a state see the difference between grace and law, and what it is to be brought under the name of Christ. All these things are dim before them; and hence ensues uncertainty of soul and powerlessness practically in glorifying God.
Our Lord follows this up by the instruction of the Sabbath-day. “It came to pass that he went through the corn-fields on the Sabbath-day, and his disciples began as they went to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath-day that which is not lawful?” Now it is clear that there was no law of God against the case. The censure was a law of their own, and a notion of men which looks upon an outward fact and made a system of it—man's constant danger. It is quite true that God had ordained upon the Sabbath-day rest for man and beast; but there was no ground whatever from the law of God to forbid a hungry man, as he passed through a field, from plucking the ears of corn to satisfy his want; nay, it was thoroughly according to the beneficence of God to provide from His people's plenty for such urgent need. There was remarkable care in Israel for the stranger, the bereaved, and the suffering. The poor in the land were not to be forgotten in the joy of harvest, and an express ordinance of God forbade their making clean riddance of the corners of the field. But how came it to pass that there should be famished Israelites thus passing through a corn-field? And if such want existed, was it God or His enemy who turned the Sabbath-day into an iron vice for afflicting the sad at the will of heartless religionists? Thus it was that the Pharisees in their pretended desire to honor God, on the one side, showed, on the other, their complete ignorance of His heart and character, which breathed the fullness of mercy towards want and wretchedness; all was set aside by the miserable codicil that man added to the will of God. But there was One on earth who at once detected the forger's hand that presumed to meddle with the first testament. The Lord stands up for the guiltless. “Have ye never read what David did, when he had need and was an hungered, he and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the show-bread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them that were with him?”
Our Lord here points to the rejection of the object of God's counsels—of David, for instance, in his day, who was the anointed king, even while he was the despised one and hunted for his life upon the mountains of Israel. He and his company typified Jesus; and Jesus was found now in circumstances morally similar to those of David, anointed but not yet come to the crown. Thus it is that the Lord vindicates the disciples and maintains the principle that when God's witness is refused, it is madness for the rejecters to pretend to be glorifying God. Were they then despising a greater than David? For such to talk about the Sabbath-day, in order to lay heavier burdens on the righteous, what was it in God's eyes? The Lord of glory was upon earth, and how came it that His disciples wanted even ears of corn to stay their hunger? What a tale this told! How was it that the disciples of Jesus were thus miserable? How out of course must be the foundations, for the Lord and His disciples to lack the most ordinary necessaries of life! Who were these graters of malicious words about the Sabbath-day that could forbid even this scanty pittance, while God's mercy would refuse to none, and least of all on that day? But that the Pharisees, rejecting the Lord Jesus, their own Messiah—that they should have the face to abuse the Sabbath against His disciples! David, when he was in destitution because of the wickedness of Saul, who held the throne in an evil way, David and his followers could eat the shewbread which was only, had things been in order, for the priests. If thus the hallowed bread became common, what was the past to the present? In the presence of the evil that despises God's beloved and faithful witnesses in the earth, the outward ordinances of the Lord lose their application for the time being. The sanctity of ritual disappears before the rejection of the Lord and His people.
“And he saith unto them, The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath was not intended to be a means of increasing the sufferings of poor man. If God sanctified it after the creation and enacted it at the giving of the law, was it that God wanted to make His people miserable? On the contrary, not only in its higher character, and beside the thought of His rest, of which it is a type, the Sabbath was made for man. Pharisees might turn the Sabbath into an engine for torturing man, but, in God's mind, the Sabbath came in most mercifully. There were the days of labor which God Himself had known something of in figure, for there was a time when He had wrought and made the earth; and God Himself was pleased to rest on the Sabbath and to sanctify it. Then sin came in and God could no longer own it, and His word is silent. We read of the Sabbath no more until God takes up His people in delivering mercy, and gives them manna from heaven. Then the Sabbath-day becomes again a marked thing, and rest follows, the type of Jesus sent down from above. It disappears from the beginning of the first book of Scripture and re-appears in the second. God makes rest once more. He was giving to man in grace when He brought Israel out of Egypt. Of this the Sabbath was the appropriate sign. But Israel, understanding not the grace of God, accepted the conditions of His law. They took their stand upon their own righteousness when God gave them the ten commandments, and the consequence was that man under law failed miserably, dishonoring God, setting up calves of gold, bringing discredit, shame, and scandal upon the name of God throughout the whole world. This is no more than we have each done. The Israelites made this fatal mistake when they surrounded Mount Sinai. Instead of reminding God of His promise to Israel, instead of confessing that they could not be trusted and that it is only the mercy of God that enables any one to do His will, they, on the contrary, undertook boldly to earn the promised blessings by their own obedience. But they broke down increasingly till it came to the crisis of David's rejection in Israel. God showed where His heart was, as He loves to do at such a time. Granted that the shewbread was only for the priests; yet for them to keep their consecrated bread and let the anointed king starve would be strange homage to God and the king. And now the Son of David, the Lord of David, was there, and more rejected, more despised, than David himself.
The Lord, after He has thus drawn out of Scripture the true lesson for the day, brings out the general beneficent object of God in the Sabbath for all days. “The Sabbath was made for man.” The Pharisees thought and spoke as if man was made for the Sabbath, to be put under it thus; but the Sabbath was made for man's good and rest, raising his thoughts above the mere labor of his hands. But He brings in another principle; “The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” He connects that with the Sabbath being made for man, but breaks out into a greater truth: the person of Christ is above all ordinances. His glory, even as the rejected man, eclipses all the twinkling rites instituted by the Lord Himself. I have no hesitation in saying that the Lord who gave the law at Sinai, and He who afterward was born and lived a man upon the earth, was the same blessed divine person. He who always acted throughout the Old Testament in government, who came down and suffered and died upon the cross in grace—He now maintains, not merely that He is Lord of the Sabbath in virtue of being divine, but of being Son of man; and what is the importance of this? “Son of man” is the title of His rejection. “Son of man” is the name that He assumes when the Jews refused Him as the Messiah. You will find a remarkable proof of this in Matt. 16:13, and Luke 9:18, (the same fact recorded in the two different evangelists.) He forbids His disciples to say that He was “the Christ.” He leaves aside for a while the glory of His Messiahship: as such He had come and presented Himself to the Jews; but they would not have Him. Now He says, as it were, it is too late: I have given them ample proof—miracle, prophecy, My own ways and words; everything shows that I am the Messiah, but they will not have Me. It is not that proof is wanting, but their hearts are steeled against all evidences. They are the enemies of God, and proved to be such by refusing what God has fully vouchsafed. Now He takes another character altogether— “Son of man.” And what may well and deeply affect us is this, it is as Son of man that He suffers on the cross. “The Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.” “The Christ” was a title in particular connection with Israel after the flesh. He was their Messiah. He belonged to no other nation. He was the promised King of the Jews. But the Jews would not have Him. Well, says the Lord, you cannot deny that I am Son of man. It is a lowly name; but, after all, the Son of man opens the way to His magnificent rights and glory over all mankind. The Son of man comes in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. The Son of man takes the kingdom over all tribes, and nations, and tongues. What leads to it all? His rejection as Messiah. He suffers as Son of man first, because it is determined, according to God's counsels and grace, to have companions with Him in the very same glory. It is through that very same fact that Christ has suffered as the Son of man, and has surely taken His glory because of it, that we shall be with Him—that all Christians will be without a spot or stain, or any such thing: all through the suffering Son of man. But if I have Him humbled, I have the glorious Son of man.
In the present case, however, the Lord does not go further than the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. He accepts His rejection, but He pleads for His disciples before those who boasted and disputed about the Sabbath, while they were dishonoring the Lord of the Sabbath. Could they deny what David had done, and God had sealed, sanctioned, and recorded for Israel's instruction? That is the first defense. The next is that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for it. The third plea, which is rather a consequence, is, that He who was a blessed man, the Son of man, is Lord of the Sabbath. It is the glory of His person as the rejected, suffering Man: as such, and not only as God, He is above the Sabbath day—its Lord.

Thoughts on Revelation 4

The fourth and fifth chapters of this book help us to understand the present heavenly character and position of the saints, being descriptive of their actual position during the time of the judgments being poured out. The Church is not actually seen as such, until she appears as the Bride at the close of the book.
The proper subject of this book is not grace but judgment; though, no doubt, the patience of God in executing judgment is grace. But the book is one of judgment, even as regards the churches; for the Son of man is seen walking amongst them, taking notice of their conduct. Having gone through the professing body, judging its ways and its works, (while those who overcome have their portion in blessing.) He spews its last state out of His mouth; and then He enters on the judgments which befall the world. Before entering on the detail of these judgments, He gives a preliminary view of the position of the saints, as we have it in this and the next chapters.
There are three subjects distinctly marked in the first chapter as comprised in this book. First, The glory and manifestation of Christ Himself, the things seen; second, The churches, “the things which are;” third, The things hereafter, or “after these,” i.e. the things which do not belong to the position of the Church in its testimony down here as a corporate body, but after it is as such spewed out of Christ's mouth.
First, then, what is seen is the glory of Christ; secondly, “The things which are.” The only question that can arise is as to the force and bearing of the expression “things which are.” They are looked at as the condition of the Church as a whole (not merely local churches). Thyatira was told to— “hold fast till I come;” and to Philadelphia He says, “I will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world;” clearly showing it was not any mere local body that was addressed. We get in these instances the clearest intimation of its being the general aspect of the whole Church looked at in the character of judgment, from the time of its leaving its first love, until it is entirely given up. The thing Christ is dealing with is the Church, until an entirely new dispensation commences.
Another characteristic there is, as connected with “the things which are.” The Church is a witness for God. In the first church we see this ceased to be the case; and at the close of all, when it has entirely lost its character as such, Christ Himself, in the fullest and completest sense, presents Himself to take the inheritance, and takes up the character which it should have maintained, viz., the “Amen, the faithful and true witness.” Then, as having taken up this character, He assumes the government of this world again, and that is quite a different thing from His walking amongst the churches in His judicial character upon earth, passing judgment upon those things that should have been a faithful witness of Him. Then the prophet sees Him in heaven, having done with the Church upon the earth. He is not seen there as Head of the body, but as the “Lamb that has been slain:” the One rejected upon earth is upon the throne in heaven, from whence the judgments are to proceed. This is a most solemn moment. We see how the world is all going on under God's eye, and with what patience He has been bearing with it.
In regard to God's dealings with man, as man, after his fall, there have been, to speak generally, three great epochs: first, the period before Christ came; secondly, the present interval; thirdly, after He comes again. In one sense there were many epochs during the time He was trying man with constant and unwearied patience, to see if good could be got from him, before Christ was rejected. He knew full well what would be the result, but He was putting man to the teat. He planted a vineyard: it brought forth wild grapes, the hedge was broken down, and a wild boar out of the forest devoured it; and at last He said, “I have yet one Son, they will reverence Him; but they said, This is the heir, come let us kill him.” Then the world was in a certain sense judged—not the judgment executed, but probation was ended. Satan, the prince of this world, is cast out. This took place when the true and rightful Prince, the Son of Him who owned the vineyard, was rejected. The world was then judged as to its character and ways. It is under condemnation, and therefore we are exhorted not to be conformed to this world. The plainest testimony is thus given against it morally. “The fashion of this world passeth away.” “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “The friendship of this world is enmity with God.” Having rejected His Son, the sentence of rejection is passed on it by God. The Son leaves it, and it would see Him no more. Satan is proved the prince of it. The Holy Ghost comes to convict it of sin, because of unbelief; of righteousness, because Christ had left it to go to the Father; of judgment, because the testimony of judgment on the prince of this world is passed. The world is convicted of righteousness by these two things—the Son of God being rejected and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and the world seeing Him no more. And the Holy Ghost is given to the Church, the vessel to contain the witness of the glorified Man till His coming again. The saints are gathered by the Holy Ghost, out of the world, to go forth to meet the Bridegroom.
What peace there is to our souls in seeing Christ's power over all creation, in connection with Satan's power being all broken! In the new age this will be fully manifested; and the working of miracles by the disciples was a sign of that energy and power of the Son of man which will be known in the world yet to come. “Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The earth then was set aside when the rejected Man took. His place in heaven. The Jews were the immediate instruments of His rejection; but man, the first Adam, was utterly set aside through this act; and the Jew was to be brought to see that in the flesh dwelleth no good thing, and that heavenly grace was entirely in connection with the new Man. He is gone into heaven, that “He might fill all things.” He came down in grace as the last Adam, that He might bring in glory; and thus when the Church is being formed, we get this double character: the heavenly Man taking His proper place in heaven, the earthly man judged. It is henceforth all new. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” We know not Christ any more “after the flesh.” It is as Head of the new creation that we are united to Him. “The first man was of the earth, earthy; the second man the Lord from heaven.” The second Man has ascended; “but in that He ascended, He descended first into the lower parts of the earth.” He has ascended as the second Man to take His glory with the Father. As the result of all this the Church is looked upon as dead and risen with Christ.— “sitting together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The new character for those who thus belong to Him is to manifest this heavenly Man by the power of the Holy Ghost down here; and thus the Church becomes the living witness of Christ's rejection on earth and acceptance in heaven.
The Church being set in this place, the Lord goes on with it, so long as He could in any way regard it as His witness on the earth.
Having disposed of “things that are,” we now see that in order to be associated with God's thoughts and God's ways, the prophet has to be taken up to heaven. “A door was opened in heaven,” and he sees the “Lamb upon the throne,” and those who had been faithful upon earth are with Him there. See the character of the throne itself: it is a throne that is going to vindicate the rejected Lamb, and the judgment to be executed. “A voice said unto me, Come up hither, and immediately I was in the Spirit;” but being in the Spirit, it was not to look round on things on earth, but to go up into heaven.
In connection with the throne we see a display of power and majesty. It was so at Sinai, where there was judgment attending the giving of the law. The mount was to be guarded. “Whoso toucheth the mountain shall be stoned,” &c. Then in Jerusalem His throne was established again; and there was the manifestation of His glory, as sitting between the cherubim over the mercy-seat. Through the mediation of Moses, (after the golden calf was set up,) we see God forgiving sins, though not clearing the guilty. He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” It was always the terms of God's government with an earthly people. There is another throne now—the throne of grace. This is not our highest place, which is to be sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; but it is a great mercy to have boldness to come to this throne, “that we may obtain mercy,” &c., while walking down here in weakness, trial, infirmity, and perplexity; it is from this throne of grace that we find the power of God available for all we need to guide and help.
Here the throne in heaven is neither of these, but a new thing, a throne set in heaven and executing judgment. It has nothing to do with a throne of grace, and is not the object of supplication. In one sense they are all alike, because God's throne; but that is all. So thoroughly is this different from the throne of grace, that the effect of prayer was judgment. See chapter viii., where the prayers of the saints were offered, and the incense ascended, fire and judgment came down upon the earth. “There were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes,” With us we get by prayer “grace to help in every time of need.” Here the censer being thrown on the earth brings down judgment.
But it is not the Lamb executing judgment; nor is it the Word of God either. But we see the throne before He comes out. It is the interval between His having done with the churches on earth, (for there is nothing left in the Church to judge,) and His coming to the earth again as the Faithful and True Witness.
The throne is set up for the introduction of the “Only-begotten into the world” in judgment. We have in this chapter God's relationship with creation set forth. God comes out in the character of Creator. If He is coming in judgment, everything must be set right before Him. It is not God enabling man to go against the stream which is wrong, but the stream itself must be set right. He must have creation itself brought into order. Every kind of glory belongs to Christ. As to Israel, He is King of Israel. When He is born into the world, it is as Jehovah-Jesus, “for He shall save his people from their sins;” Hoshea meaning Savior, Jah-Jehovah, Jesus meaning Jah-Hoshea, Jehovah the Savior. He is Lord over all creation. “All things were created by him,” &c., and He is Lord over the Gentiles too.
As Son of David, then, He has Israel; as Son of man, He has the world—everything; as Son of God, He has His own title to all glory as Creator and Head over all to the body, which two things we get in Colossians. The sign God gave of His covenant with creation was the rainbow, the token of God's faithfulness; and when these judgments are coming on the earth, there is the sign at once of His covenant faithfulness in relation to creation.
Verse 4. “Seated on thrones.” The symbols here represent the saints in their heavenly condition, but not as the Church, Christ's body. They are “kings and priests.” In this chapter we see them as kings; in the next as priests. The one is their kingly office, the other is their priestly character as worshippers. The moment God is going to deal with creation, the saints are seen sitting on the throne with Him. What a wonderful place is given to us! We are a “royal priesthood,” &c. We do not belong to this creation, but are a kind of first-fruits of His creatures. The glory and profit is all His, though, the blessing is ours.
We have a special place of glory, “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ;” but that is not all, we must be His bride. In Colossians we have both First-born of every creature as the heir of God's estate, and, beside that, He is first-begotten from the dead. He is Head of the new creation. He has come up from among the dead in the power of that life which could not be holden of death. In Ephesians there is another thing: “He gave him to be head over all things to the Church.” All things are His, and He is Head over them to the body. Not Head over the body, (though He does judge it,) and therefore it is added that the Church is the “fullness of him that filleth all in all.” The Head without the body would be incomplete, and the Church makes up His completeness. We are completely associated with Him. We are not of the old creation, but of the new. It is true we are still in the body, and have to carry it about with us in the bondage of corruption. We are part of the new creation as being one with Him who filleth all in all; while, looked at individually, we have the character of “kings and priests.” Here we see all the saints which will be raised, sitting round the throne of God—round the very place from whence proceed the thunderings, &c.
“The Spirits of God.” The imagery is taken from the temple. What a place for us to be in! “Know ye not that ye shall judge angels?” Do not think that these things are too high for you: they are not the highest. You must bring the heavenly character of them down to every-day practice. When Jesus was on earth, the lowly man here below as “sent into the world,” He brought down the principles of the heavenly spirit in all His ways and words— “the Son of man which is in heaven.” And He says to His disciples, “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” This sweeps away every principle of conduct which cannot connect us with Him whom the world has rejected. The world hates what is heavenly in it. It cannot bear the testimony of what it has done. We are called to be nothing in the world. We must be contented to be despised; and find Christ in such a way our heavenly portion, as to have no ambition to be anything where He was nothing. “How can ye believe who receive honor one of another?” &c. Our calling is to manifest the spirit and temper of the heavenly Christ.
“Seven lamps of fire.” All this is judgment—sevenfold perfection, but sevenfold judgment. It is not here, as in Zechariah, the “eyes of the Lord, running to and fro in the earth,” &c., but consuming everything that does not suit the presence of this heavenly throne. It is a solemn thing, this judgment from heaven. “The leaves of the tree shall be for the healing of the nations.” Our whole relationship with God is founded on grace. We dwell in Him and He in us. The revelations of the Spirit of God to us are about Him as our God, and heaven as our home. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost,” &c. Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, looking up to heaven saw the throne, and Jesus on the right hand of God; but the character is very different here. Not all that makes delight and blessing, but the Spirit itself is as “lamps of fire.” What will the earth do when heaven has this character of judgment, when there is neither throne of grace, nor patience, but all is judgment?
Verse 6, &c. Now we come to another part of the scene altogether: “Four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.” They are symbolical as heads of the judicial power of God. He may use angels, or He may use the saints as His instruments. We often find cherubim mentioned in Scripture. The first time is when they were placed in the garden of Eden to keep the way of the tree of life. In Ezekiel they are connected with judgment. In chapter ix., when the glory of the Lord is gone up from the cherubim, there is the execution of judgment upon all those who had not the mark. Then again, within the veil, has to be seen the symbol of God's judicial power, for the cherubim looked down into the ark, the throne of God's power. He was governing Israel. God was using this power in the midst of creation around. When the temple of Solomon was built, the cherubim were not looking down into the ark, but their wings reached from wall to wall, and they looked outward. This is a figure of the Solomon reign of Christ, when all His judicial power will look out to bless. In Psa. 72 we see His reign extending over all the earth, yet over Israel especially. “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.” In the four living creatures we see the four classes of creation which we have in Genesis: the first creature like a lion, the type of wild beasts; the second like a calf, the beasts of the field; the third, the face of a man, human beings; the fourth, the flying eagle, the fowls of the air. So that here we have the symbols of God's power and judgment in connection with the creation on the earth, whatever the instrument may be (Nebuchadnezzar, the angels, or the saints).
“They were full of eyes before and behind.” The figure is very intelligent; it means secret intuitive intelligence—seeing all before and behind. Nothing escapes the eye of God and the power of God. Where man cannot see, He sees. All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. “They had each of them six wings,” as in Ezekiel, and this signifies rapidity of execution of God's counsels and purposes; alacrity in the service on which they were sent. They cry, “Holy, holy, holy.” This is something distinct from worship. The four creatures are found worshipping in chapter 18; but it is not so here. God is celebrated here in power and glory. The elders, whose hearts' affections are drawn out in the appreciation of the Lord, fall down and worship; but there is the celebration of power besides—the public celebration of it. All creation will be the perpetual celebration of the holiness, and wisdom, and power of the Lord God Almighty.
Everything the rainbow encompasses in heaven and in earth owns the creative power of God. The sun and stars will tell of His power and glory. “Every creature on the earth and under the earth,” &c. All the mute creation will have a voice in perpetually celebrating His eternal power and glory. “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” When God brings in His reign of power in the Lord Jesus, creation being delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God, we shall see that His government, as well as His grace, proves that He is the holy God. Sin will not be known there. Defilement will not be known there. On the day of atonement, both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry had to be sprinkled with blood. In this chapter we have what is anticipative of that which will be, and which we get in redemption in the succeeding chapter. The one being a picture of the power of God in creation, the other in redemption, both are shown out before the revelation of the judgments which will bring in the glory.
We find nothing of the Father here. It is the Old Testament titles of God, as Almighty and Lord as revealed to Israel: Jehovah, “which was, and is, and is to come,” the Almighty as revealed to Abraham. The character of Father with the children is not brought out at all, nor Jesus as Head with the members, but God as publicly celebrated. When we speak of the Father, it is mansions we have got, not thrones; we are at home with the Father, we delight in the Father. “I go to prepare a place for you, and ... I will come again and receive you unto myself.” But here it is the majesty of God; the voice of creation and providence celebrating through eternity Him “which is, and was, and is to come.” We get two facts connected with the heavenly saints. When the throne is set, they are sitting in the very midst of judgment, in calm, quiet repose. The thunderings and lightnings neither shake the crowns upon their heads, nor their hearts within. It is all perfect peace with them. Blessed testimony this, of our place! The Lord grant us to enter into it, to get our hearts up to the height of God's thoughts about us. We should be amazed at the wonderful grace of His ways towards us, when we think of the perfect peace which grace has given us to enjoy above, even in the presence of the tokens of divine judgment, and the redemptive power which has given us a capacity to be there.
The second point is, that when God Himself in His majesty is brought out, it does not excite fear. There they are in His holiness, set in the light, not in spirit merely, but in fact. They are made “partakers of His holiness;” and when they hear the living creatures, which rest not day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty,” worship is excited, not fear. “Glory, and honor, and thanks unto Him that sat upon the throne,” does not leave them seated on their thrones; and they “fall down and worship Him that liveth forever and ever.” Such a sense they had of the glory of Him who sits upon the throne, that it took them out of their own personal glory, and they used it only to celebrate that glory which they have to acknowledge.
The saint in glory is glad there should be something above himself there. He can strip himself of glory that the Lord should have it all. What a contrast to the spirit of infidelity in the heart which does not like this! The pride of the heart cannot bear that something should be above it; but the saint in light is glad that Christ should have all the glory. The saint can delight in the character and honor of God. The heart delights in His being glorious, and in His intrinsic glory. “Thou art worthy, O Lord.” What a sense is here of His worthiness to be exalted! This is the first instinct of their life, however weak and feeble it be. See the thief on the cross; he had got the secret of God about His character: “This man hath done nothing amiss.” And what was the consequence of this capacity to see His glory? He wanted to share it, and Jesus said, “To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Here were the first workings of life in his soul; but immediately we find that instead of the desire to pull Him down whom God would exalt, there was joy to find something above himself. Shall we not be glad to see Christ's glory? Glad of the excellence of heaven? Shall not I be glad to see Paul in a higher place than I? It is the character of the spirit, and temper of heaven. Man is entirely changed here, for he would pull down God Himself if He did not suit him, according to the natural impulse and bent of his mind. All this celebration of God's power brings out worship; “They cast their crowns,” &c.
Another thing to remark here is, that in connection with this spirit of worship, there is an intelligent understanding about it. “Thou art worthy; for,” &c. Look at the expression in Hebrews: “It became him,” &c. What an astonishing thing to be able to say it became God to treat His Son in this way. The first two chapters are full of the glory of Christ. How at home the apostle is in the things that became God; and then again, “Such an High Priest became us,” &c. We belong to a heavenly people in connection with Him who is made higher than the heavens, and we want a priest there. When a soul is emptied of itself, it begins to know and love the glory of God; it is not as a dull, senseless thing, but there is understanding and knowledge, and this is life. You will find this intelligence in the next chapter, likewise, “Thou art worthy; for thou hast redeemed,” &c.
Mark two things: the entire prostration of heart before God, and the blessed intelligence of the titles of God. How it does take the poorest of this world out of the miserable tinsel of its corruption, when God reveals Himself thus to the heart and understanding! The selfishness of man would shut him up into narrowness of spirit, instead of being taken up with God.
Are we not glad to have crowns to lay at His feet? “For thy pleasure they are, and were created.” It is God's delight, and God's good pleasure that is the spring of everything. If I am right with God, I say let Him have His way. If I am away, I shall not like Him to have His good pleasure; but to let Him have it is the only spring of blessing. The Lord give us to know Him in this way; and we can say that in Jesus and by Jesus, we do know His love; and, through the good pleasure of His will, we have been made His children, adopted unto Himself. When the Lord Jesus was born, He became the link between God and poor sinners, for He was the gift of God's love in “good will to men;” in Him, dead and risen, we are through the Spirit brought to God. The Lord give us rightly to estimate Jesus! With Him in our hearts, all will be simple, all will be peace, all will be love.

Remarks on Ephesians 5:1-7

WHAT a mighty principle opens here on the saints! “Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children.” What limits can there be if we are exhorted to imitate God Himself! Nor is it in any way now an assertion of claim, as the law was, on man, standing on his own responsibility before God as a creature. God has revealed Himself in grace; still He is God and none other; and if He has communicated to us His own nature, a lesser, lower standard there could not be. It would dishonor Himself and the very grace He has shown us, and nowhere more fully than in the earlier parts of this Epistle. It would be, too, the most grievous loss to His children beloved, whom He would train and bless yet more and more even in this scene of evil and sorrow, turning the most adverse circumstances into an occasion of teaching us what He is in the depths of His grace and filling ourselves with the sense of it so as to form our hearts and fashion our ways, as we forget ourselves and live above our own habits and the conventionalities of men in the truth of Christ.
Neither law nor even promise ever opened such a field as this. The very call so to imitate God supposes the perfect grace in which we stand: indeed it would be insupportable otherwise. No doubt, it is most humbling to reflect how little we have answered to His call; but even the sense of our previous shortcomings where it is deep, without losing sight of this grace, is turned to precious account, and we are growing and going on with Him when we may little think it. The law demanded what man ought to render to God: to love Him and our neighbor is no more than our plain and bounden duty. The promise held out the hope of a seed of blessing, not to Israel Only, but to all families of the earth. But now after promise was despised and law was broken, God has displayed Himself in Christ, and while accomplishing all in Christ, has brought out higher counsels in infinite grace to us in such sort that His own character, thus displayed, becomes the only suitable pattern to which He would conform His children even now. “Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children; and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor” (vss. 1-2).
To forgive one another, even as God in Christ forgave, is blessed; but this, though after His own heart and ways, is not enough. It is surely divine in its source, and impossible in its full character and extent to flesh; but it is in view of man and man's failure, and the outbreaks of an evil nature. He would cherish this in us. It is the fruit of His grace, and most needful, in such a world as this; most needful for His saints in their intercourse and dealing with each other. But it is far from being the expression of all He is and would have us enjoy and reflect. There is the outgoing of good according to His heart, where there is no question of evil to be forgiven, which is in a certain sense only negative, however real and sweet it may be. Here all is positive, flowing fresh as it were and above human thought. Hence the word is, “Walk in love, as Christ also loved us and hath given Himself for us.” To be forgiven was our abject, urgent need, if we were indeed to have the smallest comfort from God or hope of deliverance from wrath and of blessedness hereafter. It was grace, of course, the grace of God, but addressed to, if not bounded by, man's need. But now we stand on the new ground of the excellency of Christ and the exercise of that which is proper to God in the activity of His own nature. Hence it is not the sin-offering that is here alluded to, nor is it simply the blood or the suffering of our blessed Lord, but His delivering Himself for us, in matchless love, “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.”
One would not be mistaken on such a theme, nor weaken for a moment the certainty that in the Lord's sufferings on the cross there are depths found there only; but these are not and could not be put before us as a pattern, seeing that they pertain exclusively to Him who bore our sins in His own body and was made sin for us, meeting that judgment of God, which no man, nor angel, nor creature, nor new creature could share with Him, however blessed through it, and filled with thankful, adoring delight in Him who was thus alone, not only for us, but for God's glory, the object of the wrath God felt and must execute against sin. But here it is a question of that which sets forth the admirable love of Christ in all its positive fragrance and beauty; and this in order to call out, in the energy of the Holy Spirit, the answering ways of the new nature in the saints; for indeed Christ is our life, and what bounds are there to the power of the Spirit who dwells in us? Love leads to service in self-abnegation, whether in Him perfectly, or in us according to our measure; but surely it gives and forms the spirit of service, as we see in our blessed Lord. (Phil. 2)
Nevertheless, the more sweet and blessed, the nearer it is to evil, unless it is maintained in divine power and self-judgment. It brings together; it awakens spiritual affections; and what is begun in the Spirit may end in fleshly corruption, as we see at Corinth, no less than seek a fleshly perfection of a religious form, as we see in Galatia. Accordingly the apostle proceeds to warn the Ephesian saints against the dangers to which free, familiar converse might expose, unless sustained by the Holy Spirit. “But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” These lusts of the flesh were not only not to be allowed, but not even named. They were God's holy ones, saints; and the question now was of that which becomes, not mere men, but saints.
Nor does he confine his warning to unbridled licentiousness or the covetous desire of that which might gratify man, but extends it to unholiness of language too, whether openly shameful or under the veil of refinement— “neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.” Here again the positive side is brought in and the heart's reference to God's goodness, which breaks out in thanksgiving. “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” It is most important to remember, that let sovereign grace do what it will, let it go out to the vilest, let it cleanse the most defiled, the moral ways of God remain inflexible. His nature does not change. He hates and never can tolerate iniquity. His love may find, and has found, a glorious solution of the difficulty in the cross of Christ; but God and sin never can walk nor dwell together.
The children of God have opposite dangers as to this, and need to watch against their feelings. They may be quick to exclaim in some flagrant case that there can be no life there; they may be too precipitate in giving their confidence where there is a fair show in flesh. Some of the most solemn departures into the world have been where few, if any, doubted; as on the other hand, who has not known the comfort of seeing the painful appearances which repelled one fade away so as to let the grace of Christ shine out more and more, or flesh was judged by the truth in the sight of God; and those of whom most doubted because of untoward looks, at last won the confidence of all? Sometimes it may have needed a serious dealing of God: severe sickness, reverses of fortune, domestic sorrow, before the soul was set right; still it was though late in the day. Both these extremes teach us the need of waiting on God, instead of trusting our own impressions, that we may judge with righteous judgment. The natural heart may take advantage of grace, but before long will manifest its unremoved evil. Perverse men may rise up, wolves may enter, and sheep may for a while be deceived. But God abides, and the word of His grace: why should we be disquieted? Let us have faith in God, imitate Him as children beloved, and walk in love, not only because, but as Christ loved us; and, whatever the result, we shall have the comfort of pleasing God, meanwhile kept from haste one way or another. Watching for evil is very far from “giving of thanks,” and indeed incompatible with it. But then let us never lower the standard of the ways which God looks for in His children. If no corrupt person has an inheritance in His kingdom, never treat such sin lightly now. “Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” To be partners with such in any way is grave for a saint. Let us take heed.

Remarks on Dr. Brown's Millennium: Part 2

(Concluded from page 60.)
The other passages quoted by Dr. Brown, hardly need a comment. He quotes 1 John 3:8-10, and pretends that no one can sin unless actuated by Satan in all the sin which he cherishes and commits. (p. 399.) Now that this is the case I do not deny, though most clearly lust exists, and therefore sin without the present action of Satan. That is fundamental truth. But the apostle has given altogether another explanation of what he says (not what Dr. B. says). The reasoning plainly is, “for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” The sinner has the same character; consequently by the universal Hebrew idiom they are called his children. There is not a word of being actuated by him in the passage. The reason given as to good is not that God actuates the saint, true as that is, but that he is born of Him—has His nature. The great subject of John, in his epistle, is life and nature, not the power of the Holy Ghost, which he only refers to as a proof of dwelling in God. There is no ground for what Dr. B. says at all, important as the subject is in its place, and far too much forgotten.
The next is Heb. 2:14, 15. To this I have nothing to say. Death is the last enemy to be destroyed. What then? It is not destroyed till death and Hades give up their prey. But how does that hinder Satan, who has the immediate power of it, being bound for a thousand years? Christ can surely, if He see fit, cut off the wicked out of the land. He has the keys of Hades and death, and this, Scripture speaks of, not of the saint dying at all. These He would not cut off. Psa. 101, Is. 65.—He quotes Rom. 16:20, alluding surely to the old promise. But it is a fatal mistake, (which spewed itself in a previous passage less closely) to suppose that Satan being set aside “is equivalent to the complete destruction of all that stand in the way of our salvation.” It is a fatal lie against the truth. There is our own sinful nature besides. How it acts when temptation is not there, men may have foolishly speculated on. But Dr. B. is utterly and fundamentally wrong. It is even false to say he actuates us in hell. There is no scripture for it at all. He is the most grievously punished there—has no power. All this argument is a total failure. That sin cannot exist without Satan's presence and tribulation, he has no ground for whatever. That they go together constantly now in us is true, not necessarily always. But there is temptation without sin being yet there, as in Adam, who fell under it, and Christ, who did not. There is temptation and sin, as in our case, and there may be a sinful nature without temptation, for it certainly subsists now without it and before it. It is there already when temptation is applied to it. Dr. B. sees only a moral internal state in Satan's power, not external power, of which scripture largely speaks. “Behold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm you.” So the cases of possession, and Job's history to which I have referred. He refers further to Rev. 2—Satan's throne being in Pergamos—and says it “certainly refers to the powerful party which Satan had in the place!” Why? A throne is not a party, and no way of expressing it, but the contrary. Satan is the prince and god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of the darkness of this world. He has the throne. His having a party is a miserably false gloss.
I have only now to notice Dr. B.'s description of the Millennium, which requires little remark, because he applies the same passages to it I should, and our controversy is as to how it is brought in, i. e., whether by Christ's coming again or not, which he does not here speak of, and we have considered it already. But I must object to this constant tendency to set aside Christ's personal glory and its display. Thus Dr. B.'s view of the Millennium is founded on 1 Peter 1:11, “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. Here he takes glories for no personal glories of Christ at all, but “the glorious results of the suffering.” (424.) Now that tells the tale of the system. It is one which excludes Christ's person and personal glory, to substitute results in man for them. I love the view I have, just because it brings in Christ personally. He quotes Isa. 11:9. (425.) It is diffusion of revealed truth! Isaiah says “the knowledge of Jehovah,” as elsewhere the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, which is not revealed truth as known by the revelation of the Father in the Son, the Holy Ghost declaring it. Otherwise, of course, we expect the earth to be full of the knowledge of Jehovah. In Isa. 25:7, he speaks of progress of fulfillment; the passage of destroying a covering at a particular time—the rod of Christ's strength out of Zion—is assumed to be the Gospel. Why so? We have already seen it is the time of the resurrection of the saints, if Paul is to be believed. The serpent's power is to be destroyed: judgment executed on the earth. Let the reader only read Isa. 24-27, and see if it be the gospel.
But a few words more precisely as to the quotation: “The rod of thy power out of Zion.” It is from Psa. 110, where the time of Christ's sitting on God's right hand, (that is, the present time of the gospel,) is explicitly contrasted with the time of the rod of Christ's power. He is to sit there till God snakes His enemies His footstool, and then rule in their midst in the day of His power, the rod being sent out of Zion, which had rejected Him, smiting through kings on the day of His wrath. Is that the gospel? It is easy to quote passages to which theological tradition has given an interpretation. Reading the passages always dispels these.
Again, Dr. Brown quotes Psa. 2:7, but what follows was too plain, and he omits it. It is this, “Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” Is this the gospel too? Let the reader consult the promise to Thyatira, in Rev. 2, and he will see that this promise is reserved for the overcomer's also, when Christ comes. Till then, Christ sits at God's right hand, and His saints go to heaven. In Isa. 2, also quoted, He judges among the nations, arises to shake terribly the earth; the day of the Lord of Hosts is on everything exalted, for judgment, so that they would hide themselves in caves of the earth. How ridiculous it is to quote this for the gospel! In Isa. 66 the Lord comes with fire to render His anger with fury, and His rebukes with flames of fire, and pleads with all flesh, judging and destroying the wicked. This, for Dr. B., is the gospel. He is bold enough to quote Zech. 14:9, where the Lord gathers all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, goes forth and destroys them, and His feet stand on the Mount of Olives, and then the Lord is King over all the earth. To quote this for the spread of the gospel is infatuation. A person may say, I do not understand it; but to quote it for the gospel is presuming on carelessness or folly in the reader. The examination of the other passages would show rather that they had nothing to do with the matter, or that they prove the contrary.
A time of peace (428) it will be. But Israel will be definitely owned as God's people, (Isa. 11,) which cannot be while the gospel endures; a fact which, of itself, suffices to overthrow Dr. Brown's system. Isa. 2. I have examined. Micah 4 equally refers to Israel in the most explicit way, and judgment and vengeance on the heathen “such as they have not heard,” and Christ's presence in Israel after Israel had been given up for rejecting Him. Its application to the last days is as plain as language can make it. Dr. B. says, the Millennium will be distinguished by much spiritual power and glory (431), and to prove it, quotes the revival in Northampton under President Edwards. He afterward quotes Isa. 56 and 60, both referring exclusively and expressly to Jerusalem and the Jews: the former insisting on the judgment of the Gentiles, the latter, as we have seen, of all flesh. To quote Rom. 11:26-29 is more than boldness. It is adduced as a description of the Millennium, as it surely is, and declares that then there shall come out of Zion the deliverer to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Nor is that all. It is explicitly contrasted with the gospel, “as concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sakes.” So far from Israel being brought in by the gospel, they were enemies as regards that, yet as a nation (as which they cannot possibly come into the church where there is neither Jew nor Gentile) they are beloved for the fathers' sake; a principle which can have no place in the gospel as we possess it at all. And in quoting Zechariah Dr. B. is obliged to add “by faith;” “they look (by faith) on Him.” What right has he to change the express text of scripture? “Thomas, because thou hast seen, thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen who have believed.” Hence there are those who believe not having seen, and those who believe when they see. And in Revelation we find “behold He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they who pierced Him.” And in the passage itself, the next preceding verse, the Lord destroys the nations which come against Jerusalem: all the people of the earth being gathered together against it. It is the day of the Lord, we further read, and His feet stand on Mount Olivet. Is it not as clear as daylight in all these passages that it is a time of judgment and display of the Lord's power, as different from the gospel as one thing can be from another. The last character is the ascendancy of truth and righteousness on the earth. (437.) Why not of Christ? No, that must not be. What is the proof given of this ascendancy? “I saw one like unto the Son of man.” When the judgment of the Ancient of days was set, and the beast destroyed, and his body given to the burning flame— “and He was brought near before Him. And there was given to Him dominion, glory, and a kingdom.” Why is Christ carefully excluded by Dr. B. from the fulfillment of this, and the thought changed into the ascendancy of truth? Christ's personal glory they will not have. Are not all things in heaven and earth to be brought under Him as man? Is it; not the special purpose of God to put all things under man's feet, as man? to reconcile things to Himself in heaven and earth, (not the infernal things, comp. Phil. 2) and that contrasted with the reconciliation of the church? (Col. 1) Not only so, but in Dan. 7 the Ancient of days comes. Temporal prosperity there will be: I need not insist on it. Only, if it be the life of faith still, it is only a great danger, not a blessing.
All own this happy state will end in a final rebellion when Satan is let loose. I believe there will be a decline, as I have said, but this is not Satan's being let loose. He did not deceive the nations then; he is let loose, and does it afterward. Dr. B. tells us it cannot be an immediate change from piety to impiety. From the hypocritical form of piety to impiety it is, so as to form a complete and definitive separation of the good and the evil. They are deceived and gathered together to battle, and the saints crowded into their own camp. There is no description of a decay of love, nor cry of saints, nor failure of faith, as to the Son of man's coming. He does not come at all. There is not a hint of it, but a plain description of His coming a thousand years before, after the marriage of the Lamb, which Dr. B. says is not His coming. Now, fire comes down from heaven and destroys them; and then, without any coming, the great white throne is set up, and the dead judged.
I have done. If scripture is to be believed, Dr. B.'s system cannot stand. It is founded on tradition, not on the word. Difficulties of detail there may be; we may expect them. Human additions of theologians, Dr. B. may array in antagonism one to another; but no one can read the scripture with intelligence, and not see the difference between the gospel, gathering the saints as Christ's joint-heirs and bride, while He is sitting on the right hand of God, and His judging this world (οἰκουμενην) when He takes to Him His power; God having put His enemies under His feet. These, Dr. B. everywhere confounds, mixing up too the judgment of the quick with that of the dead, and making the redemption of the church uncertain, by bringing it into the same judgment as the wicked; while the plainest statements and language of scripture are explained away, so as to leave the personal glory of Christ out of the scene, where the word of God says it will be displayed.
As much excitement has been caused by the question, as to whether Louis Napoleon is the Antichrist or not, I add, that I have not the smallest doubt that he is the great agent of the formation of the Latin or ten horned beast at present, and that his operations distinctly mark the rapid approach of the final scenes. Blessed be God! But first, I do not think that beast to be the Antichrist, but that a false Christ in Judaea, who, will minister to his power, and deceive the nations, will be. Secondly, the saints will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air before Antichrist is revealed. And, thirdly, the computation of dates is all unfounded. There are general analogies, I have no doubt; as there have been many Antichrists who were not the Antichrist. But the precise computation of time begins again with Daniel's last week, or, more accurately, half-week, when the abomination of desolation is placed in the holy place; and then the computation is by literal days, God's short work on the earth. In a word, exact computations are by literal days, though general statements and analogies may be by years. It is to be feared England will be dragged into the vortex of the ten kingdoms: God knows. At any rate, for the Christian, his place and country, his citizenship, is in heaven always. There evils will not come, nor Satan's power—even out of the created heavens he will be cast for the power of evil to begin on earth. We justly mourn over the progress of his delusions on earth, and how the wise men of this world are deceived by him. But he cannot touch our portion; and his progress only brings us nearer to it. “Now is your salvation nearer than when ye believed.” May we have our hearts delivered from this present evil world! I think Louis Napoleon a sign of prophetical progress towards the close; but I earnestly desire that the hearts of the saints may be in heaven, where evil or its signs cannot come. I may add, that though events have made progress, the view of the position of Louis Napoleon falls in entirely with Faber's view of the first Napoleon, that he was the seventh head of the beast who was to continue for a short time. Indeed, it was that of others too.

Matthew 17:24-27

The tribute-money in the fish's mouth is one of the most beautiful and perfect of the New-Testament incidents. Christ had just been opening to His disciples the closing of His career of ministry among the Jews, had forbidden them to speak of His being the Christ to them, for He was going to suffer as Son of man; they must suffer with Him. Then, to three who were to be pillars, He shows His glory as Son of man, to encourage their faith in seeing Him rejected by Israel and all the religious authorities, and in taking up their cross. Just after this, Peter is questioned in a way which amounted to asking whether Jesus was really a good Jew. When he enters, Christ anticipates him by showing His divine knowledge of what passed; but while assuming the place of the Son of Jehovah of the temple, so as to be free from the tribute, which kings did not take of their own children, He, with infinite grace, puts Peter, and in him all of us in principle, in the same place as Himself, (just what He has done by redemption, when rejected as Messiah.) “Then are the children free; nevertheless that we offend not.” And this He does, just when He had shown his divine knowledge of Peter's thoughts, and what had passed. He then shows, in a way particularly intelligible to Peter from his occupation, that far from being a mere Jew, debtor to the temple, He disposes of creation, though subject in grace to men. And having shown divine power and title over creation, as previously divine knowledge, He again associates His poor disciple with Him, saying, “That give for me and for thee.”
Besides the touching grace of this communication to Peter, see what is brought out: His real character relative to the temple, the setting aside thereby though submitting to the relation in which as a Jew He stood to it—the divine glory of His person in wisdom and power—and yet the power of the redemption He was just going to accomplish to be such (and this was, as we have seen, precisely the topic in hand) that, viewed as Son of the Lord of the temple, He would set His disciples in the same relationship with God as Himself. What a touching, tender, and yet glorious way, of rebuking the unbelief of Peter, and what a mass of truth is brought out exactly on the point treated of in this part of the Gospels, the transition from the old things to the new! It may be clearly seen in Matthew where the establishment of the church and the kingdom are connected with His being Son of the living God, and then His glory as Son of man brought out. Then, about to leave the faithless and perverse nation, He opens out, in the passage objected to, the full new relationship into which He was bringing them that trusted in Him through the glory of His person and work. There is not a more beautiful and striking passage in every way than this, which is here caviled at. It affords the reader an example of the capacity of infidelity to judge of the bearing and importance of Scripture facts, and the moral proofs which a believer has which infidelity cannot touch, and which prove that it is ignorant of the elements of judgment.

Scripture Query and Answer: Distinction Between High Priest and Advocate

Q. How do you distinguish the office of High Priest and Advocate, especially as reference is made to sin? “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father.”
In what sense can we be said to act in our priestly character towards each other? We cannot say we are priests to each other; but may we not be for each other before God?
In the type of the heifer, the clean person was to sprinkle the unclean: is this, spiritually, a priestly act?
4. Practically, we are not always in priestly condition of soul. May not, then, a spiritual believer draw near to God on behalf of one who practically cannot, without allowing the thought of any one coming between the soul and God?
A. The main difference between Hebrews and John 2:1, is that Hebrews refers to our drawing near to God, and includes the whole analogy of the priestly service, even including the sacrifice. Christ stands between us and God to this effect, and for the whole means of obtaining mercy and grace to help. The Advocate is with the Father and supposes a believer and a son, and is for the maintenance in practice of this relationship, i.e., our life in it, and in point of fact refers only to the case of one who has sinned being in that relationship, one who has the privilege of fellowship. It refers to fellowship with the Father, not approach to God. I do not say the advocacy is confined to this case of sins. It is stated as a general fact, but it is only applied to this case.
We are and ought to be priests for each other before God, intercede for each other, wash one another's feet, bear the failures of our brethren on our heart in intercession.
The sprinkling is not in itself, however, properly a priestly act: if my conscience is pure before God, I may apply the word according to the holy power of Christ's sacrifice to the heart and conscience of another.
4. The last question is answered already. We could not be priests at all, if we would not do this. But no one can doubt, if he loves another, he can intercede for him—in Christ's name and in virtue of His sacrifice, but still plead and intercede for him.

Scripture Query and Answer: Christian's Sinning-Remedy

Q. Do not the Epistles of John clearly prove that a Christian does not live without sinning, and that when he sins he ought to confess his sin to God?
2. How does our being forgiven if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9) agree with 1 John 2:12, which says, “I write unto you because your sins are forgiven you,” and many other similar passages?
Does the forgiveness or confession imply that we then have the fruit of forgiveness in restored communion? or more than this? or something different from this?
Does the passage, “He that is clean needeth not save to wash his feet,” throw any light on the forgiveness of those already saved?
Is the prayer of our Lord's—that Peter's faith fail not—an instance of His intercession?
is there any relation between our confession of sins, and the Lord's intercession for us?
What is the nature of Christ's intercession? Is it asking God to forgive us, (and, if so, how does this harmonize with our being now forgiven,) or asking for restored communion, or what? Is John 17 an instance of intercession?
To what and when does John 16:25-27 refer? “At that day ye shall ask in my name, and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you.”
In Christ's being able to save us from our sin, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us, is it, “save us from our sins eternally,” or “save us from all the dangers of the way—to the end?” And what has intercession to do with it?
Is there any connection between Christ being our Intercessor and Satan being our accuser, seeing (from Job) that Satan has access to the presence of God?
11. What is the meaning of Christ being our Advocate? (1 John 1.) Is it in the sense of pleader, or more as a friend at court?' (It has been translated “Patron.") It is connected with “if any man sin.”
A. I do not think 1 John supposes that a Christian does not live without sinning. It shows that a holy provision is made for him, in case he does. It declares he cannot say he has no sin, but sinning is put in the past. James, however, declares de facto we all offend in many things.
2. 1 John 1:9, speaks neither of the time of our conversion, nor of our failures after it. Like John's usual statements, it is abstract confession, which, and which alone, is true integrity of heart, and actual forgiveness goes together. We are personally forgiven all trespasses, and stand abidingly in the power of that forgiveness, so that nothing is imputed to us personally (that is so as to put our persons out of grace). There is the present grace wherein we stand. But as regards the government of God it is another matter. Then I read, “If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Hence we are to pray for those who have sinned not unto death, to confess our faults one to another, and to pray one for another. Hence in its place the Church, and Paul in his, could forgive sins, as we read in Corinthians. There was a binding in heaven of what was bound on earth, and a loosing in heaven of what was loosed on earth. So, when at Paul's first answer all men forsook him, he prayed that this might not be laid to their charge.
3. The Lord's warnings to His disciples that, if they did not forgive, they would not be forgiven, equally apply. It is not a question of justification with the believer, but of present relationship in divine favor, which some seem to forget altogether. It is not merely that we have the fruit of forgiveness in restored communion, though that be true, but the positive present aspect of God, as a governor in relationship with him, He its displeased with certain things, may cause me to die through His displeasure, if I do not judge myself—has done so, as we learn in Scripture, both historically and doctrinally.
4. The passage in John 13 (as does indeed the red heifer) shows distinctly the way of cleansing when a man has defiled himself in his walk. He is cleansed by the washing of regeneration once for all, but needs to wash his feet and must have them washed. And this it is which carries up, farther than mere discipline, the forgiveness of the Church. We are to wash one another's feet, but we need this washing in its place to have a part with Christ. God takes care we shall be clean, but we must be clean to be with Him, not by renewed blood-sprinkling in respect of imputation, but by washing the feet with water, that we may have truth in the inward parts with Him, and have no defilement of walk on us.
5. I do not know what the question as to Christ's prayer means. It was intercession. The character of intercession may be different now that He is on high, and refer to a different standing in which we are, but praying for him was intercession.
6. The Lord's intercession for us produces, as its result, the fruits of grace, of which confession is the fruit in every honest heart.
7. Christ's intercession is to make good our present state in conformity with the place justifying forgiveness has placed us in. It is founded on ‘righteous' and ‘propitiation.' These being perfect, our faults, (instead of bringing imputation, or being allowed to harden the heart and produce falseness in the conscience,) call out His advocacy and the soul is restored. Forgiveness in the absolute sense is righteousness, as regards clearance from all imputation of sins of the old man, but in Christ, we being in heavenly places according to God's righteousness, everything inconsistent with our relationship to God as brought there is a just cause of God's actual displeasure. God is not mocked; but Christ intercedes for us, and, by that which rests on righteousness and propitiation, the fault becomes the occasion of instruction and a deepened work and state in us. Now, for every true saint, this present condition of our souls with God is the capital thing, founded on the fact that he is reconciled to God, and accepted perfectly in His presence in righteousness. It is being thus in His presence which is the ground of all present relationship with God. God's character is not changed because we are brought perfectly near Him, but that character acts on our conscience, and forms it. We walk in the light as He is in the light; and if we do not walk according to the light, we find it out, because we are in the light; and to this effect Christ's advocacy comes in, We know God's displeasure against sin. I do not talk of imputation. I say it is displeasure against sin; and if we have sinned, apprehend that in the light. It is not merely loss of communion, but knowledge of God's displeasure with the thing. If we do not walk with God, we have not the testimony that we please God, but displease Him. “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.” Christ's intercession does not lead to forgiveness, (as to imputation, it is founded on the removal of that,) but regards God's nature and character and our present actual relationship with that. By reason of righteousness and propitiation sin calls out (not satisfaction in us with non-imputation, that is hardness and sin, but) the advocacy of Christ. Sin is taken notice of, estimated as an evil in God's sight, in my soul, but in grace, not in God's favor, however, as simple non-imputation, but in Christ's advocacy active about it, so that my feet are washed. Filth is there: neither I nor God are content—not I, when His word searches my heart. He is displeased when He sees it, and as to my present relationship He does see it. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost—to God—and God knew it, and was displeased with it; those who profaned the Lord's Supper the same. The discipline exercised was only the expression of it, but it was exercised because of the displeasure. Judging ourselves, we should escape this. Godly sorrow works repentance. Are we to repent and not to be forgiven? Nor rejoice in having it? For this, we must confess. It is absolutely stated, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us.” If my feet are defiled, they are not cleansed till they are washed. Christ's intercession is the proper means of this. If any one sin, we have an advocate.
8. The meaning of John 6:25-27 is this. Up to that, they had never gone directly to the Father, nor in Christ's name. But as Martha said, “What thou wilt ask of God, He will do it.” Now He puts them in direct relationship with the Father, not as if He was to go instead of them and He only could, as Martha said. In His name they were to go themselves direct to the Father. That was when in gracious desires or wants they had to look for something. It has nothing to do with when they had sinned and got away from God in their hearts. Christ's interceding for them is unasked. We do not ask Christ to intercede. He is an advocate through His own grace when we have sinned, not when we ask. I return to the Father in confession, because He has asked. when I went astray; as Peter wept because He had prayed for him, not that He prayed for him because he wept, or looked up at Him. What Christ says is, they should not be asking Him about anything, but go directly to the Father: that is the contrast; not with intercession, when we have sinned or need grace and do not know it.
9. It is not said, as supposed, Christ is able to save us from our sin, because He ever liveth. But He carries through all the snares, difficulties, dangers of the way, and Satan's power; restoring our souls if we have failed; grace to help in time of need, as well as restoration, because He ever lives to make intercession for us—is on high immutably to carry on our cause. For we go through the conflict of good and evil, and have to overcome, though nothing is imputed and we are sure to be kept to the end; but we need to be kept. He will deliver us from every evil work and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom, but we must be delivered.
10. The book of Job gives us a full account of the case in its operation in man, without reference to any dispensation whatever.
He was a godly man, none like him—God saw defect in him. Satan appears on God's speaking of him as his accuser. God withdraws not His eyes from the righteous. He deals not first here with outward sin but inward working of ignorance of self, and then its breaking out through God's ways into actual sin; so that it got out, when brought into God's presence, as a detected thing into Job's conscience. The effect of the revelation of God's presence is, first, submission, and then confession. “I abhor myself, I have spoken foolishly, and repent in dust and ashes.” And God restores him to full blessing. Elihu interprets these ways. These words are interpreted—one among a thousand to show unto man His uprightness. Job was not upright in the full, true sense of it; there was not truth in his inward parts, though till he cursed his day there was no outward sin, till he abhorred himself and said so, i. e., made confession. Then his flesh became purer than a child's again. What we have to add is this: Christ's advocacy, founded on known righteousness and accomplished propitiation, carries on the administration of this for us in heaven, where we have to be in spirit with God. Such a high priest became us. Next, below, the Church in its ministrations and acts ought to be an interpreter, and deal with the conscience, and administratively wash the feet here below. An individual may be by grace, the Church, (2 Corinthians,) elders, (James,) individuals, (1 John). At any rate, in faithful grace, the Holy Ghost by the word so deals with us. The result is always confession, certainly to God, it may be to man. There is no uprightness without this. If I have sin, know it, and come to God to commune with Him, as if I had none, I am in that a hypocrite— hiding iniquity in my heart. We see here when the accuser comes in. He is the accuser of the brethren.
11. The advocate is one who manages our affairs and carries on our cause. It has been said “patron,” in a Roman sense; because he supplied the need of his clients—was bound to plead their cause and case for them.

Scripture Query and Answer: Forms of Baptism in Matt.28:19 and Acts 2:38?

Q. In what respect does the form of baptism, in Matt. 28:19, differ from the fact given in Acts 2:38? T.
A. Our Lord, in the Gospel of Matthew, gives the formula according to which a. disciple is to be baptized unto His death; and this in contrast with the Jewish confession of one God, even Jehovah. In Acts 2 it is said by Peter to be “upon the name of Jesus Christ.” So, in Acts 8:16, the Samaritan professors are said to have been baptized “unto the name of the Lord Jesus,” as Cornelius and his household were “in his name.” These are ways of describing baptism suitably to the Acts of the Apostles, where the Lordship of Jesus is one of the main objects. But there is no ground to doubt that Christian baptism was always formally “unto the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” To omit or change that which the Lord enjoined so solemnly in resurrection, is a bolder act than becomes a Christian. This, certainly, ought never to be left out, however right it may be to testify to His Lordship also.


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Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 93-101

ON these psalms, though they are very striking ones, I have very little to say with my present object, because they treat not of the exercises of the heart in the time of trial, but of the coming in of power to put an end to that time. They are characterized by the title “Jehovah reigns, the world is established.” I have, therefore, only a few remarks to make: first, that the result of all this patience of government in God is, that man rises up as the water floods against Him: but God is mightier. The termination of it is by power. But two great truths accompany this. God's testimonies are very sure; we can count upon His word through all. It reveals His nature, His purpose, His character. It gives that according to which He will act—no peace to the wicked, but infallible certainty of purpose and power. Man may be as the grass, evil rise up like the water-floods, the word of Jehovah abides forever, and he that does His will. Hence in all times we can go by it as a rule, dark as all may seem, mighty as evil may be. Israel or the Church, apostasy or hollow profession, persecution or seductive prosperity, His word is true and a sure guide, according to His own nature and character—His to whom power, after all, belongs. And if the time was when He to whom power belonged was counted as a malefactor, He was guided by that word, bowed to it, and fulfilled it; and judgment after all will return to righteousness. Thus far of all present government and future display of public power, the kingdom and patience, or kingdom and glory of the Lord. But there is another thing—Jehovah has a house, a dwelling. Take it as His heavenly dwelling, His temple where all speak of His glory, or in its place as the Church, His habitation by the Spirit. It is always essentially characterized by one thing, because it is Ills habitation—holiness becomes His house forever, separation to Him according to His nature.
These two points guide the saint through all circumstances till power comes in to sustain him, because he counts on God, through all the risings up of the power of evil: the word of God, and the holiness of His nature. God has graciously communicated His mind to men, has spoken. His word remains sure come what will. That is inherent to His nature, depends on His power as God. “Hath He said and shall He not do it, hath He spoken and shall it not come to pass?” If He be God, truth nor power to make it good cannot fail, or He is not God. His speaking obliges Himself, so to speak, by His nature. I cannot believe He is God at all, if, when He has spoken, it is not made good. He would not be God. It would be ignorance, or some one else would have power to hinder Him. His testimonies are sure. In the midst of evil this is an immense, a perfect consolation and stay. But the other test is of importance, the other claim on conscience. Holiness, if He be God, is in every sense necessary. No elevation of truth, no certainty of word to be reckoned on can alter this. It puts man subjectively in his place. He might boast of truth, may exult in sure promises, as if God had bound Himself. But God must be consistent with Himself; what is not holy is in no case of Him. He is supreme, and all must refer to Him, all be consecrated to Him in His presence, and, so far as He is revealed, suited to what He is. Thus a counter-check on man is furnished, and the true knowledge of God. It is not holiness apart from the word, nor knowledge or certainty apart from holiness. The Spirit of truth is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth.
Note further, they are testimonies coming from God, the positive declaration of His mind and will, (not a boasted knowledge of God by man's will, and his pretension to know what God must be, though there he a certain apprehension of conscience connected with, often perverted by, traditional knowledge; but) the positive testimonies of God, so that man is subject to them, though sustained by them. It is not man's reasoning, or man's conscience, but the testimonies of God, His own active revelation of Himself, the utterance of His word. They are simply received by faith, the soul is subject to them as such. This characterizes the soul that owns God. Power will come in due time. This will make all publicly right. Till then faith rests in the testimonies; the soul-subjecting, soul-sustaining revelation of God.
God, moreover, has a house, a dwelling. This, as noticed elsewhere, is an immense fruit of redemption. Neither with innocence, nor with the faithful did God dwell; Adam before His fall nor Abraham had God dwelling with them; innocence marked one, faith the blessed path of the other. A frustrated or gracious visit told of God's condescension and goodness to either. But in Israel's redemption we find that Jehovah had brought them out of the land of Egypt, that He might dwell among them. (Ex. 29:45, 46.) Innocence does not become God's house, but absolute consecration to Him according to His nature where good and evil are known; so it is in heaven—this character and nature. But, there, testimonies are not needed. Knowledge of good and evil man has, but separated from God and in sin. But where God has redeemed man to Himself, purified him, and delivered him, then He dwells with him, in him—in Israel according to His then partial revelation of Himself, in the saint now by His Spirit, and in the Church; and so eternally, for now it is according to what He is in Himself, fully revealed in Christ, and by His death. Hence it is founded on testimony. For God must reveal Himself, and His redemption, and His ways, and what He is. Thus the Holy Spirit is given consequent on Christ's exaltation on the accomplishment of redemption, and in fact on the reception of the testimony of God by faith. When God is known, (not merely truth,) then there is the consciousness of what suits, there is the delight of His name according to His nature; and thus it becomes the test not only of truth being known, but truth and so God Himself—for Christ is the truth, and the Spirit is truth. Hence, as soon as Israel is redeemed, the holiness of God is spoken of, not before, because He was going to dwell in them, having brought them to Himself. The world will be established by power; but this is consecration to God by testimony and His own presence through redemption. It is not the pomp and order of His house here, (that we have in psalm 51) but a dwelling-place of delight and nature. (Comp. Psa. 132:13, 14.)
In Psa. 94 judgment is looked for and vengeance to set the world right. But we find the discipline and comforts of the Lord sustaining the soul meanwhile, which must occupy us a moment. The triumph of the wicked is, for him who believes in God, a painful and oppressive thought, the power of evil is evident; this is what just affects the mind of the saint, not in a prophetic but a moral way. But the blindness of the haughtiness of man away from God, presses on him who sees, from knowing God, the day of the wicked approaching. There is also the distinct consciousness of being God's people whose weakness and sorrow are but an occasion of oppression. Both are clear motives of judgment that this cannot go on forever. He that formed the eye surely sees it all. Man's thoughts are vanity. These two things then are the foundation of the saint's thought. God's interest in His people, and His goodness which will not overlook the poor when oppressed; yea, the very fact of the pride of the wicked.
But another element is introduced: God does judge evil, but He begins at His own house. God's hand is in the dealings which make His people suffer, as well as man's. It is to this the heart of the saint turns. “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Jehovah.” We have the interpreter here one among a thousand. God with the chastening teaches out of the law. God, by all this process of evil having the upper hand, breaks the will, teaches dependence, separates not only the heart but the spirit from the world where this evil reigns. How could there be union with a world in which this power of evil is seen and morally shrunk from? Man thinks he can go on amiably in the world without its evil, but when the world itself is evil and felt to be so, what then? Thus wickedness and its rising up, discarding God, is its own remedy in the heart of him who owns God, exercises it, purifies it, removes it from the sphere in which its own will works, when it, if not in intention, at any rate practically, sought an outlet for nature. Divine life having given it thoughts of God; it is met by a world which will none of Him, and rises up against Him: all this is God's hand.
But there is more, there is, with the discipline of His hand, direct inward teaching by His word, which reveals Himself. Thus the haughty evil which drives back the heart, also has subduedness, and has tasted that the Lord is gracious, drives it to God, known in grace and the revelation of Himself, His ways, His purposes; and grace effectuates itself in the heart. The renewed heart gets into its own sphere and learns not merely the necessary character of God as hating evil and loving good, but His own ways, the development of His grace and truth, His holiness in the sphere in which He reveals what He is for those who know Him. This is a rest of heart for the saint, a repose of the spirit which seeks and delights in good. If it sought to meet the evil, (though actively in service there will be according to God's will,) but to meet the evil in the world, largely as the heart desires it and looks for God's bringing it in, there would be weariness and heart-breaking; but when the power of evil is rife, the soul is driven up into its own place, into the direct revelation of God and His ways, and there near God's altar, for it draws out worship, it finds rest—till. It still looks for setting evil right and the deliverance of the poor and needy, but it abides in patience, learning God's mind, and finds rest therein, rest in what is eternal. The activity of good it will engage in, where the open door is, but its rest is in that which is properly of God. The establishment of that by power will come, and that is certain. God is sure in His ways. He will not cast off His people. He will not have evil in power forever. Here it is, of course, the intervention of judgment on earth, judgment returning to righteousness—power and good going together, not power and evil. We have better things, a heavenly revelation for sons, a heavenly place, our Father's house before us, but the principle is the same. The judgment, once in the chief priests and Pilate, while righteousness and truth were in the blessed Jesus, will come to His hands who was once Himself the poor and oppressed; judgment will return to righteousness. And if we, taking up our cross, are glad to suffer and so shall reign with Him, yet the thoughts and ways, and counsels, and faithfulness of God will be fulfilled. Heavenly grace and heavenly glory may be added in our present rest of spirit, and the rest that remains to us; still righteousness will have dominion if it be heavenly, and eternal blessing for us who have a part with Him who suffered. The appeal to the impossibility of its going on, if the Lord is to show Himself at all, is strikingly put forward in verse 20.
The power of evil, note, (16, 17) was deeply felt. Be it so; it may show our weakness sometimes, but it is well it should, if faith be there. The heart ought not to get accustomed to the power of evil, will not if it be with God; will be sensible to it, astonished at it, and dependent on divine restoration to meet it in thought. This was true of Christ, only in perfection, and no fault in His thoughts. He was astonished at their unbelief; He looked round upon them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts; He could say, How long shall I be with you, how long shall I suffer you? But then, no less ready in heart in the activity of good where there was a want, He could say, Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but then perfect in submission and obedience, and the one desire to glorify His Father, that His Father Should glorify Himself—perfect in all things. We, alas! if not helped sometimes, ready to dwell in silence, should soon, so to speak, give up, where Christ, the blessed One, felt all infinitely more, and was perfect in it. But when we turn, in the consciousness of tendency to fail, or being actually in present danger, to God, His help is there. This is great mercy. Teaching, then, is for the rest of the spirit, but there is holding up and help in our ways. David encouraged himself in God: who can fail then? He who is mightier than all, He whose force is accomplished in weakness, is there to help, there in a tried one, witness of goodness, that if we never failed we were in danger.
Another scene opens too, for God thinks of all things for us. What questions, if our minds work, present themselves to us, in the confusion and labyrinths of the mixture of good and evil! The mind enjoying God's goodness may abstain from it. It does well, but the root and spring of all these questions are in men's hearts, and the power of evil around us awakens them. It is not only selfishness, though self is always the center, the center of the questionings, but when evil affects the spirit, a multitude of thoughts are there. I do not say it is right—it is not. It is the fruit of our departure from God, and the consequent letting in of evil into God's world, a being within it in fact; but when heart and mind go out beyond it, having the knowledge of good and evil, revelation here, when the mind works, increases the difficulty and the multitude of thoughts, for the mind sees good clearer. Why and whence this evil? It sees another world of God's power. Why then this? It looks into a world beyond it and brings back its thoughts into this where they are not realized. It sees goodness and power, and dwells in the midst of sorrow and evil. This may be in a selfish shape—often is. It is then a low principle, but it has always man for its center, and, (save as it was in perfect love and holiness in Christ who perfectly brought another world into this, I mean in His own mind and person,) is always evil, is but the “multitude of our thoughts.” Yet God has compassion. I retreat into God by faith. This comforts, delights my soul. Our thoughts speculating, as knowing good and evil, either by personal sorrow, or by working of mind which is worse, launch out into the endlessness, not really infinitude, of speculation as to what ought to be, or into complaint against God as to what God is. It may be sometimes in a more submissive way of wonder and acknowledgment of its being too hard for us; but it is a finite mind, a mind in the sphere of this world, out of which it has no natural powers, let, in thought and speculation, into its relationship with the infinite, with good and with evil. It has a multitude of thoughts, but no possible rest. In its state it does not belong to the sphere it has got into.
Hence, let me add, in passing, the form infidelity has largely taken in these days—what is called positivism or realism, saying, I know what I see and experience, with perhaps some small conclusions from it, and pretending to stop there. It does not, for it pretends to deny all beyond it. This is false upon the face of it, for if it only knows what is knowable to man from himself, it can deny nothing beyond it, any more than it can affirm. It is a low thought. But it is false on another ground. The mind has no certainty, but it has a multitude of thoughts beyond the sphere of the natural human powers which can decide on what is within these powers. There are a multitude of thoughts within us. We are incompetent to come to a conclusion, but there are thoughts and something or other to suggest them, but the heart has no answer. Where there is no infidelity, but merely the natural working of the human heart, this is the case. There is no further answer till judgment comes, till judgment returns to righteousness. In the psalm, this exercise of soul refers naturally more entirely to the government of this world; Christianity, the revelation of another world, has with the former brought in a thousand others, where men's minds work. But there is a refuge and a resource, not in the explanation of everything to the mind, so as to maintain it, in the mad and wicked pretensions to judge God, but in the introduction of the positive good which is in God into the soul, so that it knows it has got blessedness and truth, whatever of its multitude of thoughts it may be unable to solve. Conscience is upright when it is acted on and judges self. But when by our enfeebled and beclouded knowledge of good and evil we pretend, calling it conscience, to judge God, the pretension is to make our ignorance and moral state, as it is, the measure of what is perfect, when all is imperfectly known and God not at all. For in that state men are forming a judgment—what they are to acknowledge as such. It is, on the face of it, judging of a whole system of things when only an obscure end of it is before us. Reasoning from that state of things full of evil, I can judge nothing. God has not yet set things right, nor am I competent to judge even how to do it; but He has introduced good, perfect good, Himself into the midst of the evil. He has made me discover my own evil—judge myself: an immense moral gain. Those only who have done so are, as to soul matters, upright. That is true, honest conscience, and gives me a resource in grace, a perfect knowledge of His love, (in Israel a relative knowledge by His ways,) and in the details of exercises which follow for self-knowledge and purifying the soul, I have known, perfect love to have recourse to, and what it has revealed and imparted to me, grace and truth; and that, not only in the outward revelation of it, however, authoritative, but in my soul by the Holy Ghost. “that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them who love him, but God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit;” and again, “We joy in God.” Besides, God acts directly by His Spirit. His love is shed abroad in our hearts, His faithfulness in that love can be counted on; but direct communion with Himself raises us up to a kind and source of joy which the trouble and sorrow do not touch; nothing separates from His love. We are more than conquerors in this world; we have the joys of another, divine comforts through the sorrows we have to bear, in presence of the evil which besets us: the power of it drives us into our retreat, our joy in Him who is always the same, and whom we learn to know better. Judgment will close the scene in which I have to be troubled.
The psalms that follow I do not dwell upon, because they are the actual coming in of the Lord to judgment, not the exercises of the heart in awaiting it. Psalm calls the Jews to be ready to meet Him. Psalm the Gentiles. In Psa. 47, He is actually coming in clouds; 48, He has wrought the deliverance; 49, He has taken His seat in Jerusalem between the Cherubim. Psa. 100, calls the Gentiles up to partake in Israel's joy and worship; 51 gives us the principles on which the government of the earth will be carried on by Jehovah's king.

Notes on Isaiah 8 and 9:1-7

WE have already the two great parties of which the prophecy treats, Immanuel and the Assyrian. The virgin should conceive a Son—Messiah, Immanuel: Jehovah should bring upon the faithless son of David the ravaging King of Assyria, though with assured mercy to a remnant.
In the chapter before us now, we have fuller and other information vouchsafed of the Lord. A great roll has to be taken and written concerning another son of the prophet, then unborn, with the mystic name of Maher-shalal-hash-baz. This is explained to and by Isaiah: “For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the King of Assyria.” (Ver. 4.) And this, the inspired history proves, was fulfilled to the letter.
But there is more. “The Lord spake also unto me again saying, Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Reinaliah's son. Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: and he shall pass through Judah; and he shall overflow and, go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.” We are here in the presence of the scenes of the latter day, whatever type may be supposed to have already been. The Assyrian proudly fills the land, Immanuel's land, reaching even “to the neck;” yet he is not merely checked and put to shame, but utterly and forever broken.
The people here had no faith, any more than the king in the preceding scene. Both of them despised the ways and the promises of God. Their confidence, as their fear, was man. If Ahaz cowered before the two tails of the smoking firebrands, as the Lord contemptuously designated time fierce anger of the combined kings of Israel and Syria, the people refused the softly-flowing streams of Siloah, Just would be their retribution. The impetuous river, the Assyrian, should rise to overflowing and well-nigh overwhelm the land.
But is it not “thy land, O Immanuel?” Assuredly it is, and whatever be the king, whatever the people, whatever the humbling of them both, will not God avenge the insult to Him who, when reviled, reviled not again? He is not deaf to the cry of His elect. How does He not feel for Immanuel! Did the people associate themselves? They might spare themselves the trouble: they shall be broken. Did all they of far countries gird themselves? Let them hear, if they fear not—let them hear their sentence of the Lord. “Gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.” (Ver. 9, 10.)
This opens the door for pointing out the path of faith for the godly, the Lord Himself the sole and sure resource, the one object of reverence and fear in a day of manifold evil and thickening danger. “For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony. seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” (Ver. 11-18.)
In truth, to be thus in felt, confessed weakness and cast thereby on “the Lord of hosts Himself,” is really, spite of all appearance to the eyes and reasonings of men, to be master of the situation. Even in a still more blessed way the apostle could take pleasure in infirmities, in reproach, in necessities, in persecution. in distresses for Christ's sake “Thus gladly (as he had said before) will I rather glory in mine infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
This brings about the final, triumphant deliverance of Israel, though connected with present facts and looking onward through the dreary circumstances of the desolate remnant, till the Lord rises up and settles all in the destruction of every foe. The united strength of their enemies should be vain. What those who feared Jehovah needed, was neither a confederacy, nor alarm at such as trusted in it, but to sanctify the Lord and make Him their sanctuary, though He should be a stone of stumbling, even to both the houses of Israel, yea a gin and snare to Jerusalem itself.
It is clear, then, that here we have not only the nations who would have swallowed up Israel, doomed to a total overthrow, but Israel, too, in all its extent stumbling at the stone of stumbling—their own Jehovah-Messiah. And withal in the midst is seen a feeble few, cleaving to His testimony, and owned as His disciples while the Lord hid His face from the people as a whole. They are a separate remnant, when the mass stumble, fall, and are broken, snared and taken. Hence, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Holy Spirit does not hesitate to cite verse 18, with other scriptures, (Psa. 16 and 22,) to prove sanctified ones with aim, not only the dependent man but the Sanctifier, however He may not be ashamed to call them brethren; and this, now in Christianity, as by and by in the latter day, while the nation are given over to blindness and unbelief.
The closing verses (19—22) show their exceeding iniquity and their impious recourse to the powers of darkness, in their own evident want of light, as they despised and departed from the law and the testimony of the Lord. The effect is intense misery, audacious rage and blasphemy of their King and their God, and the agony of despair.
“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Chap. ix. 1, 2.) The citation of this in Matt. 4 gives much light; there the fulfillment may extend to a future day, and in a form more complete in some respects, as far as the people are concerned. Let the hand of oppression be yet more grievous than had ever pressed upon them; yet would there be this difference (and how verified during our Lord's first appearing in their midst!) that among the darkest and most despised in the land should spring up a great light. It was in Galilee, not Jerusalem, that the grace of Jesus shone. And so in the last days: the Galilean character attaches to the future remnant. Jerusalem will be the prey of the worst delusions and deadliest error. But the darkest, coldest night precedes a dawn of joy and glory. And so it will be for Israel, when He who was despised and their stumbling-block, but withal Jehovah the shield and sanctuary of the weak godly remnant, shall rise and shine in all His effulgence on His people.
“Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” It is plain that “not increased. the joy” is erroneous. Time margin is right, substantially, as the next clause might prove to any reader.
The hour of freedom and victory is come; and the Lord it is who has done it. But it is not as with ordinary war, with noise of human conflict and bloodshed; burning and fuel of fire distinguish this from other battles. And no wonder, when He stands out their Kinsman-Redeemer, the true, but once rejected, Son of David, who is their boast now, with every name of power, and praise and blessing, with an endless reign before Him, established with righteousness and judgment from henceforth and forever. Truly, “the zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.”

Remarks on Mark 3:1-6

JESUS is in the synagogue upon another Sabbath day; and there was a man there which had a withered hand, and they watched Him whether He would heal him on the Sabbath-day, that they might accuse Him. How remarkable it is that Satan gets an instinctive sense of what the Lord was going to do. Satan outwits himself in his servants by expecting good from the Lord and the Lord's people. This is a remarkable thing. Again, if you find a child of God doing something wrong, the world feels it at once. Even they have an instinctive feeling of what the child of God ought to do. They know that he has no business with the pleasures and vanities of the world. They are surprised to see a Christian there. Why is this? They have not a bit of conscience themselves. Those who have got a purged conscience or those who have got no conscience at all, are far more likely to see what is right than those that carry a bad conscience. The man who had no conscience at all offers to follow the Lord wherever He goes. There was no struggle in it, no reality, no moral purpose. It was the mere vanity of the flesh, the same kind of presumption that said, “All that the Lord hath said will we do and be obedient.” The flesh always assumes its own competency, whereas faith feels that it is only God who can work anything good and can ripen the fruits from trees of His own planting.
These men, I must repeat, who were assembled in the synagogue, expected the Lord to do good. They were looking for this; but they judged from their own thoughts what an awful thing it would be to heal on the Sabbath-day! Our Lord knew what they thought about it, but faith and love are very different things from human prudence. Mere prudence would have led a man not to have given them the smallest excuse, but grace does not mind giving people handles if they are disposed to take them. Grace is bent upon pleasing God, whether people like it or not; and Jesus therefore says to the man that had the withered hand, “Stand forth.” He gives it a publicity and stamps the character of the transaction in the most manifest manner—makes it a sign of what grace is, before them all. “He saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days or to do evil? to save life or to kill? But they held their peace; and when be had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand, and he stretched it out, and his hand was restored whole as the other.” But those that would not let our Lord do what was good, were ready, even as He hinted Himself, to do what was evil on the Sabbath-day. They conspired to kill Him, the Lord; and to kill Him, for what? Because He brought the goodness of God before their very eyes; and they hated God. They would not have allowed it to themselves for a moment, that Jesus was even a good man; so blind and perverted is the judgment when the heart is not right! All the grace of Jesus only appeared to their eyes as the most abominable iniquity. We may well think what the heart of man is, and learn hence what our own natural thoughts and feelings are—not a whit better than theirs. The point of this second tale is not so much the passing away of mere ordinances in presence of the rejected Christ, or the supremacy of His person above the highest earthly claim; rather is it the necessary superiority of grace, as God's character and work in a world of sin and misery. How came this man with a withered hand in Israel? It was through sin somewhere, and the evident token of misery. Could God rest where there reigned either the one or the other? Was either the manifestation of God? And what were these proud sabbatarians, these enemies of grace and of Jesus? Were they, or was He, the true witness of what God is? Not more surely were they false representatives of God's character than Jesus was the manifestation of God's power as well as of His love. Jesus showed both in that word, “Stretch forth thine hand” and by its restoration to be “whole as the other,” proved that God, the goodness of goodness, was there. And He was there, not maintaining the Pharisees in their thoughts about His law, but vindicating His own grace; for grace alone can bring blessing into a sin stricken world. This may suffice for the general teaching of the second Sabbath-day, which I think is full of instruction, as giving us the witness that our Lord bore, His patient, gracious ministry in deed as well as in word.
But a few words must now be said upon our relation to the sabbath. When God sanctified and instituted that day, whether you take the time of creation or the giving of the law, it was emphatically the seventh day and no other. No man could have been thought to honor God, had he kept the fourth or fifth, or any other but the last day of the week. Instead of this, to have kept the first day of the week would have been an act of rebellion against God. How comes the mighty change? Is it that the first day is simply substituted for the seventh day? Is this what Scripture teaches? Taking the Acts of the Apostles, we find there that the apostles and others used to go on the Sabbath-day into the synagogue of the Jews—used to teach the Jews on that day, whenever there was an open door. On the first day they used to meet with Christians to take the Lord's Supper, or at any other services which might open. There was no such thing as dropping one day for another. Had it been a substitution, they would not still have gone on the sabbath-day with the Jew, and on the first day with the Christian. Yet they did both. At first such of the Christians as had been Jews went to the synagogue; and they were at liberty to take a part in reading Scripture. If this were done now? generally, the person would be considered an intruder; but in a Jewish synagogue it was allowed and welcomed. The apostles, therefore, and others, were perfectly justified in using this liberty for the truth; they were acting in the spirit of grace. Wherever we can go with a good conscience, and without joining in anything that is contrary to the Word of God, there one may and ought to go, if it would be a service to the Lord. But where one is required to join in that or with those we know to be opposed to the will of God, how are we free to go? Are we at liberty in anything to make light of what we know to be disobedience? But in this case there was nothing of the kind; for at the synagogue they simply read the Word of God and gave leave that it should be expounded. Who could say that this was wrong? If we knew that the Scripture and nothing but the Scripture was read upon any day of the week in a so-called church or chapel, and there were perfect room left to help, should one not be delighted to go, if indeed there would not be a kind of obligation upon us? If it were a mere crowd of heathen reading the Scriptures, one might enter it, and speak with them. The door would be, I believe, open, on the Lord's part, and grace would take advantage of it.
These facts are enough, then, to show that it is a great mistake to suppose that the Lord's day is a mere substitution for the sabbath. On the contrary, the Lord's day has a far higher character than the ancient day of rest. Not that one would for a moment forget that the sabbath-day was divinely appointed. It was founded upon two great truths of God. First, it involved, and displayed, and promised, as it were, (in type at least,) creation-rest: it witnessed rest after God had finished His work of creating. The second notable connection with the sabbath day was this: it was the day of law. On these two occasions of surpassing moment to man and Israel was the sabbath brought out by God with peculiar solemnity. The sabbath-day rests therefore upon divine ground; but it is the ground of creation and law. Is either of the two the Christian place? In no wise. Are you a mere child of man, a creature now? Then you are assuredly sinful and must be cast into bell. Are you on the ground of law? Then you are lost and condemned, for you are under the curse. But the Christian is on the footing neither of creation nor of law. On what is he then? He belongs to the new creation and stands in grace; the clean, exact contrast of the foundations of the sabbath-day. Hence it is that the first day of the week comes before us as a wholly new thing, the holy memorial of divine blessing, proper to the Christian individually and to the Church of God. And on what basis does it rest? When Christ rose from the grave with a new life to give to every soul that believes in Him, at once Israel is set aside. Risen from the dead, what more connection had He with Israel than with the Gentiles? He was entirely above them both. We meet Him there, His work done, in resurrection-life. He is found, after that, meeting with disciples only; not with Jews and Gentiles, but in the midst of the assembly or that which is the type of it. But He first meets with individual saints, Mary Magdalene and others. We find Him in the assembly on the first day of the week. And the Lord's day has this character to us now. It is first the day of Christ's resurrection, when not merely the work of redemption was done, but the work of new creation begun in mighty power. Thus the new day is founded, not upon creation, but upon redemption, and it is the expression of grace, not of law.
These are the Scriptural ways of putting the matter. Therefore is it to be maintained, not that the Christian man has got no special day in which he meets his Savior; for he has one incomparably more blessed than the sabbath of man. It is not that he has not got as good a day as the sabbath of Israel: he has an infinitely better one. He is not merely remembering a creation, which is passed away; but he has entered on a new creation. Not that he is occupied with a paradise that is lost; he looks onward confidently to that which is gained. The paradise of God is opened to him. It is not that he is following and occupied with Adam that fell; he has before his soul the Second man, the last Adam, that rose. These are our hopes. He is not, therefore, within the domain of the law that will curse him, but in the atmosphere of grace by which be is saved. This shows us why people, whether they understand the difference or not—all Christians—keep the first day and not the sabbath. They may call it the sabbath-day; but this is quite a mistake, and a grievous one. Those who view it as the sabbath may be most excellent persons, but the notion is seriously an error in doctrine and practice. It is an earthly, Jewish principle; and it is a Christian's duty, if he know better, not to spare it, however he may feel for the prejudices of the godly.
I have heard of believers who could say, There is no harm in working upon the Lord's day. Who put such a thought into their heads? Seeking gain upon the Lord's day! Why even the world shames those who do so. Christendom owns the Lord's day. They may not enter into it intelligently. It is impossible for them to appreciate its roots and fruit. But a Christian behaving more selfishly or loosely than a worldly man—what a picture! How is the Lord's day then to be kept? It is a remarkable fact that nowhere is it made into a commandment. This is not the character of Christianity. When the Lord (as in John) speaks about commandments, they are always of a spiritual nature, and not like an ordinance. Take even baptism. People may call it an ordinance, but it is a misconception. So as to the Lord's Supper. When the Lord says, “Do this in remembrance of me,” how lowering to call this a commandment! Supposing you were at the dying bed of one who loved you better than any one else in this world; if he said, Here is my Bible, take it and keep it in remembrance of me; would you call this a commandment? Would it be the reason for keeping the Bible that you had a peremptory injunction to keep it? Such a thought would show that there was no heart there, and very little head either. I can understand a person in authority, if a child lacked feeling and sense, laying down something as a positive charge, just because the child wanted heart to do the right thing, unless it were made a matter of stringent obligation and penalty. But not so does the Lord speak to us. If you love the person who gives you the Bible to keep in remembrance of him, it is not as a mere commandment; but his heart gives you this token of his love to you, and your love keeps it, of course, and keeps it best because it is love that does it.
There are places where commandments come in most beautifully. Where in the New Testament do you hear of commandments most? In the gospels where the Lord's Supper, Christian baptism, or both, are shown out, commandments to the Christian are not, as such, mentioned. On the other hand, it is in the Gospel of John that we have the Spirit of God so full of the new commandments that the Lord lays upon us. These were the expressions of His mind. They brought in not His love only but His authority, which is blessed whenever it does come in, and the child of God loves and values both thoroughly. But if you bring in such thoughts into the Lord's Supper, what a complete misapprehension of the Lord's mind! It falsifies baptism and the Lord's Supper, to change them into things enjoined in the way of commandment. They are the most precious institutions of the Lord, the symbol and acknowledgment of the great standing facts of Christianity.
As to the Lord's day, I must again recall the remarkable manner in which it is introduced in the New Testament. There is no positive word such as, “The first day of the week thou shalt keep.” Wickedness thence infers that it is not to be kept. Some take advantage not to observe the day, because the Lord does not make it a matter of positive command. Another class take advantage of it in another form, and assume that it is the business of the Church to decide in such matters. One is human laxity, and the other the self-importance of man. The Lord's day comes before us as those that are quickened with Christ; stamped with His own special presence. Christ was, and I believe is, with His disciples in a manner peculiar to that day. I do not say that the Lord did not visit His disciples upon other days, but He was specially and pre-eminently with them gathered together on that day. This is enough for me. If I own the word of God as that which has supreme power over my soul, if I value every act of Christ as that from which I am to gather divine instruction, how can this be lost upon me? But the Holy Ghost follows it up. That day which our Lord consecrated with His own presence in the midst of His gathered saints, the Holy Ghost impresses upon His people. It is not brought out in the form of law or injunction or threat; but the Church of God, whatever other days they might meet on, took especial care to meet on this day. There was also a sweet connection between the Lord's Supper and His day. The earliest disciples took that supper every day; they seemed as if they could hardly part when they got together; and they came together as often as they could, and everything gave place to this. Not that I think that the Pentecostal state of things was the most maturely blessed. There was singular power of simplicity in them, and very wonderful manifestation of divine grace: but I have little doubt there were many souls that went on and grew and enjoyed the Lord more than they ever did on that day. It is an evil, unfounded notion, because the flesh constantly tends to draw the believer back from the first enjoyment of the Lord, to think that therefore it must be so. There is no necessity for declension at all. There is a kind of first fervor and freshness that is very apt to be lost in the soul; but if there is real integrity of heart to the Lord, positive growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ will follow. And although there may be a certain kind of joy that is not so great at the end of ten or twenty years as it was on the first day of coming to the knowledge of the Savior, yet I do not believe that it is therefore a wore spiritual state or more glorifying to God. One is the blessedness of an infant; the other of a full-grown soul, more firmly, calmly, unselfishly, it may be, honoring God in its way, provided the soul, along with increase of knowledge, maintains its singleness of heart to the Lord. That is where we fail: but as far as the power of the Spirit of God goes, there is no reason why a soul should not be as happy after fifty years as at the first.
In the course of the New Testament, I think you find this very thing; the Spirit of God taking up the first day and showing that it was not merely a hasty feeling of the disciples, but a truly godly one. The Spirit of God directed it when the apostles were there, and not only leads them on, but preserves the record of the fact for us. Therefore, in Acts 20:7, we have it recorded, that so it was after the Jerusalem-state, when they went up to the temple to worship and used to break bread at home. For let me say in passing, the margin is correct; it is in contrast with worshipping in the temple. They used to pray in the temple because they had been Jews, and they took their Christian feast at home. Now it may have been always the same houses where persons went. There is no such idea as moving about from house to house, but it was at home, i.e., in a private house and not in the temple. After this state of things was past away, we hear of assembling to break bread on the Lord's day, the first day of the week. And, when we think of it, there is peculiar force and blessedness in the first day of the week being the Christian day. What is the idea of the Sabbath-day? I take the first six days to myself, to the world, to earthly things, and then at the end of it, when I may be tired of serving myself and other people, I finish up with the Lord and give the last day to Him. But now how beautifully the Christian form of the truth comes in! It is the first day. I begin with the Savior. I begin with His grace. I begin with Him that died for me and rose again. I am not a Jew, I am a Christian, and therefore, let us not forget, it is the seventh day which is the Sabbath, for the one; but the first day, which is the Lord's day, for the other; the day of Him who by His own blood, death, and resurrection has acquired a just title for my eternal and heavenly blessing. He had it in His own person; He was Jehovah, the Lord of all, before ever He came into the world; but now He is Lord on another ground—that of redemption—because He has died and risen. There is at once the open door of my blessing—of your blessing—divine blessing to every poor soul that is brought by grace to receive Him and bow to Him.
We will not dwell farther upon this subject now. I have desired to convey with simplicity the general principle of these two sabbath-days. Instead of pursuing the subjects of the chapter for the present, it seemed better to bring out the divine character of the sabbath-day and the still more blessed and equally divine character of the first day; the one being the day for the Jew, the other for the Christian. The sabbath-day will re-appear on the earth in the millennium. I mean that the seventh day of the week will be then kept by the Jews. The prophecies are plain that the sabbath of the Lord is yet to be observed. But by whom? By Israel and by the Gentiles, too; for the Gentiles by and by will be subordinate to Israel, and both on earthly ground. God's intention is to exalt Israel to the first place on the earth. Meanwhile, what becomes of Christians? They will be taken out of the earth altogether; they will be in heaven; all question of particular days will be completely at an end; we shall be in the day of eternity, we shall have entered upon the rest of God, the sabbatism that remains. In spirit we have done so even now, because we have received Christ and eternal life in Christ. But then we shall be manifestly in the eternal day, when there will be neither first day nor last day, but one infinity in the glorified state, blessedly serving our God and the Lamb. But upon the earth, when Israel will be restored and brought back to their own land and converted by God's goodness there, will they observe the Lord's day? No; they will keep the Sabbath. If you look at Ezekiel, you will see the force of it exactly. You might be able from thence to form a map of Israel's condition in the land—it is given there so distinctly and positively, that a person might with little trouble lay down the landmarks of each tribe of Israel. Thus clear is the word of God as to the future disposition of each tribe within the borders of the Holy Land. They will have not only a glorious city and temple—the name of it, “The Lord is there;” but when that day of glory comes, they will not be as we are, keeping the day of resurrection, but the sabbath, which was a sign between the Lord and Israel. Looking at the Scriptures, you will find how often the sabbath-day is said to be Jehovah's sign to them;. and He will cause His people then to keep the sabbath-day. They will do so in a far more blessed way than ever they did; they will rest upon Christ, though they will not have the same heavenly assurance that the Christian has now. When Christ rose from the dead, He had done with the world; and we, too, in Him, have done with the world now in the spirit of our souls, and in the character of our relationship to God. “They are not of the world.” How far? “Even as I am not of the world.” Christ is the measure and standard of how far we are not of the world; and not being of the world, we have a day that bears the stamp of joy upon it. The day that Christ rose from the dead and was manifested as not of the world, that is the day for the Christian. But inasmuch as the world will be made a blessed world then, and the Lord will make it His own world, they will have a day suited for the world, the sabbath-day. Nothing can be more plain or more important, practically.
May our souls, each of us for himself, learn the truth, and, having learned it, may we be witnesses of it in word and deed! May we stand forth by His grace as those who now have nothing to do in this world but the will of God, for the glory of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! That is the business of every soul that loves Jesus and rests upon His blood and is risen with Him.

Jesus Praying to the Father

(John 17)
MAN'S history was all but closed. The first man, Adam, had been tried with perfect divine patience. There was not a process that could be applied to the heart but what God had used. But even before new trials began, it was all too late. There might be millions on millions of men; there might be trial upon trial, but the material to be tried was altogether evil before God. And it is remarkable, too, how far the earliest statements as to the state of man go, lest, perhaps, the thought, the evil thought, might have entered the evil heart of man, that God knew not the end from the beginning. God shows from the very first that it was all perfectly out before His mind. In fact, before the grand platform for the dealings of God with man was laid, before man was under the direct government of God in every possible manner, his sentence was pronounced. Read the account in Genesis before the flood. God there tells us that every imagination, every purpose and desire of the heart of man, was only evil continually. The deluge did not mend it. Nay, so thoroughly evil was it, that, even after that manifestation of judgment, God could only repeat it. Accordingly we find, after the deluge, that it was not God's thought so to deal with man again, because every “imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” (Gen. 8:21.) And yet this was before the chief, detailed development of the moral history of man under law.
But now the end of it all was at hand. Another man appears—the second man. The second man! Where were all others? There had been but one morally; one miserable, self-exalting, rebellious, dying man, no matter what might be the different measures of God's dealings with him. It was only Adam, and Adam showing out what man was, let him be tried ever so, and by whatsoever advantages surrounded.
But now the Lord Jesus comes. And if He was “the second man” looking back, He was “the last Adam” looking forward. If He was the One that excluded all others between Himself and him who was the parent, through Satan's guile and power, of all the mischief that had come into the world, He was the One now that satisfied every thought of God's heart. He was the man whose own heart God could delight in. He, too, had been tried: in what, indeed, had He not been? He Himself had been found upon this earth. The Son of God and appointed heir of all things, divine glory belonged to Him by right. But how did He walk here? The dependent, obedient One, He was ever ready to surrender all, and He did surrender all. His life was but the expression of One who never sought His own glory, but only God's.
And now this blessed One, anticipating the hour and scene, with which none other can compare, when that history would be forever closed, as far as concerns dealing in the way of trial with man—Jesus looks up to heaven. It was a hopeless scene: man was altogether a ruin. Most evidently the earth was gone. Not even Jesus, true God as He is, could act upon that foul heart of man, save to draw out its foulness more manifestly. For when God came with all goodness and lowliness to meet man in all his wretchedness, what did it but extort still more the horrible evil of the human heart? And now, anticipating that cross where all that is of the creature meets its doom to faith, His eyes are turned to heaven. It was no longer a question of the earth. The world's fate was decided; man is utterly dead before God. But the second man, the last Adam, is about to take a new place. He returns to that heaven from whence, as the Son of God, He came down, and He returns a man—He carries (wondrous truth!) human nature up into heaven. But in what a different condition that very humanity, which, through the malice and power of the enemy, had dishonored God as He never had been dishonored before! For what was all else compared to the shame and degradation heaped upon God by those on whom He had spent His love so lavishly?
Well, the Lord Jesus returns to heaven a man, carrying up human nature to the throne of God. But He returns not till He has finished the work which was given Him to do. He returns not till God is as much glorified about sin in His death, as He was already by holy service and subjection in His life, and He would not return there till He could lay down upon the throne of God that which would morally magnify God Himself; yes, if I may reverently say it, that which would put Him under an obligation to Him, the man Christ Jesus, and thus a new way be opened into that very heaven, for those who had outraged God even in the person of that blessed One Himself.
What a joy that there is such a man for me in heaven—that “second man” at God's right hand! What a comfort that He is the “last Adam!” God looks for nothing further, as if anything beyond could be needed as a title after His presence there! He is the last Adam. The question of divine righteousness is answered, just as truly as that of man's sin was closed in principle before God. There might be other men following the track of Adam, showing the same sinful nature and ways. But it is well now to know that Christ is not only the second man, but also the last Adam.
And now let us listen to what this blessed One says—and, indeed, He does say it for us! How sweet to hear what He feels about us to His Father, where there was nothing, so to speak, that could be a bar upon one thought of His heart, where there was the most entire communion between Himself and His Father—He whose heart beat in perfect unison with His! And we are allowed to listen. He “lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.”
Mark the bent of His mind even there. If He asks for glory, what was the object? What was still the desire of His heart? “That thy Son also may glorify thee.” Never such a thought as that the glory should terminate even with Him the Son. It was not enough that He had glorified the Father on the earth. Nor was it enough for the Father that He should show His sense of it by glorifying Him in the heavens. “Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.”
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him.” It was no question now of anything that had to do with the world that passeth away and its delusive glory. It was no question of what was connected with man or with Jewish hopes. All that died in His death. And now, if He had been denied His glory, if the assertion of the truth of His person was about to be the shameless ground of His rejection, if His own people Israel were those who would take the leading part in His cross, what is the result? The earthly kingdom crumbled that a better, larger, deeper, brighter glory might break into view. “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him.” There I find the universal dominion of Christ over all flesh. And within that universality that now comes out of His death, who was born and rejected as the King of the comparatively small land of Israel, is the blessed thought, deeper than any kingdom, “that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him.” But would they have to wait for this life? and in what did it consist? In some magnificent display of glory by and by? No; that would be in its time. But “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” It was no longer Jehovah God who was dealing with men, with Israel, with a nation. All that had been, and it could only end (so evil is man!) in the crucifixion of the blessed One, if He came on earth to glorify God and bear witness of the truth.
But now, behind all, we find, out of the clouds and darkness that surround His cross, this eternal blessed truth shining forth—Eternal life in the knowledge of the only true God and of Jesus Christ whom He had sent. Paganism and Judaism hide and vanish away.
Nor is this all. He does speak of His own person, but He tells us more. “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” For what had He wrought? For whom had He lived? Was it to become what He was? Assuredly He was the Son from everlasting, the delight of His Father's heart, before and in the heavens or the earth. Why, then, need He do this work, and what was the end of it? It was in the Father's heart to have fellows for Christ, sons by, and in, and around Christ the Son. It was in the heart of the Son that the heart of the Father should be satisfied—that He should have sons and have such as had known what sin and the power of Satan are—such as had been under the most miserable consequences of distance, and darkness, and death. Among these was the blessed work done; for such Jesus came. There may be some poor soul that reads, still in this condition. Do you think yourself too bad for God? Whoever you may be, who have such a thought, I would ask, Why do you think so? It is because you do not know your badness enough. There is none too bad for God. For He is not blessing because of anything in you. Nay, you blot out all the history of God's past ways with man, if you are looking for any reason in yourself why He should bless you. Is it possible God's dealings have been all in vain for you? Have you not read for yourself how your own nature has been fully tested in the person of others, as no one man could have the advantage of every conceivable trial? Why refuse through unbelief the profit of the lesson? It is unbelief to look for anything acceptable to God in the first man, Adam. But what think you of the second man, the last Adam? Do you ask what He is for you? How can you get near that blessed One? Is not He in heaven, and you an unholy, wretched soul finding your pleasure on earth and in the things that are contrary to God? What can there be for you in such a blessed One as He is? Everything. It was for sinners that He came. It was for the lost that He wrought His work. No doubt it was for God. It was the work His Father had given Him to do. But it was that God might have ever-during joy, and indulge all His own love in bringing such as you out of all your badness, and in giving you all the goodness that is in Him. Think you that He is too high for you? No, He speaks to the Father, but He also speaks to sinners, aye, to the worst. He speaks here because all is silent as the grave as to man. Why should not you have done with yourself? Why not believe what God says about Him, and about yourself too, instead of giving Him the pain, so to speak, of proving over and over that you are good for nothing? He calls upon me to believe that I am thoroughly bad. I ought not to need the constant proof of it again and again. How do I show that I have come to the bottom of myself? That I receive Him, that I believe in His name. I may not have put my hand to murder or stealing. I need not prove what I am by doing all these things; but this is what I am. Not merely what I do, but what I am, is the point. God looks at the sin-convicted man and, as it were, says, he is good for no one else—he is just the one for my Son.
Do you believe this is true? That Jesus came, and died, and rose, that God might be able thus to love the worst of sinners? This He was about to vindicate upon the cross. Himself, He was perfectly holy; absolutely without sin always. God tells us so. He was “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin” —not merely without sins, but “apart from sin.” None but the open enemy of God and man would dare to say that He had sins. But there might; be the wicked thought that some taint of sin touched Him, because He took human nature upon Him. But He, even as concerned His human nature, being conceived by the Holy Ghost, (that “holy thing which shall be born of thee,” &c.,) was called the Son of God, and was as morally perfect here below on earth as when He returns again in glory. God uses the same expression about both; for we have in Heb. 9,” He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” The same word is used in speaking of Him when He comes the second time as when He, the first time, was here below, tempted as we are. There was another moment when it could not be said that He was apart from sin, when God Himself made Him to be sin—when He who did not know sin was made “sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” So here He says, “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” He looks through the death that was before Him, the cross and all that hung thereon, and that solemn question that could be settled nowhere else, that must be settled if He was to have a companion with Himself in glory, and if God was righteously to have His own joy; for there was but one way of doing it. Would Jesus bear the sins in His own body on the tree? Would He endure the wrath, the judgment of One who could not tolerate sin, even in His own Son? It is done—blessed be God!—done forever.
But again, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.” None could send such an One but God the Father. None could conceive such an errand but He who was “the only true God.” Surely, God might have graciously taken men out of the world, but it was to be as gathered by the Son into the presence of the Father. Accordingly, “thine they were, and thou gavest them me.” And He in virtue of what He is, and of the work of which He anticipates the fulfillment here below, says, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.” This was the thought of God. He would suffer for all the evil that was offensive to His nature, that would not suit His presence. For now it was not to be man blessed on earth, but a man in heaven, and there after having acquired a title to have those, once guilty, wretched sinners in perfect blessedness with Himself in the Father's presence. Mark, too, how He owns whatever is of the Spirit of God in His people—how He estimates their faith! He puts the very best construction upon the feeblest feeling of their heart towards Himself. He says of them, “They have kept thy word.” Could they have said this about themselves? Jesus only would have said it. “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.” How little had they known it! It was the reckoning of divine love! “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.” That which revealed Himself, which the Father had given to the Son. “And they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” And now He prays for them: not for anything that had been promised of old—that all disappears. Not for anything that had been the scene of God's ancient dealings to meet the earthly people: it was quite another; a heavenly one is revealed before the days of heaven dawn upon the earth. It was His Father's house into which He was about to usher them—to give their hearts a place there—to bind them there with Himself. They were to be on the earth, but it was to be as those whose only home was now where Jesus has His home. So He prays for them, as men who, by His own act, and by His going away, were made strangers in the world. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine.” Mark the skilfulness of Him who pleads our cause with the Father. He prays in the certainty of His love—claiming His love. Was it not the Father that had given them to Him? Would He not love them and take care of them? He was going away Himself; they would be desolate, the objects of Satan's malice and wiles, and of the world's scorn. And was that a little thing in the eye of the Father who had given them to Him? He was leaving them, but would the Father forget them? Would the Father leave them? He could not” They are thine.” How blessed! The Father's they were; the Father, therefore, must love them. But they were His too, the Son's; they were given to Him. They were bound up with His glory. Was this a little thing to the Father? “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.”
“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee.” I have been here, He says, to take care of them. I am leaving them; I come to Thee through a sea of sorrow and blood, and these are in the world. Was this, too, a little thing? That He should be thus going up to His Father and leaving His poor ones in a world of danger and of difficulty? Oh! who could plead our cause as the Son thus with the Father? “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are.” How could this be? “That they may be one,” &c. How could oneness like this be given to such? We know what man is, and what even saints are, a little, if we know ourselves at all. How could there be this oneness as the Father and the Son are one? It was by the Holy Ghost. He, sent down from heaven, alone could make them one. And He, as a divine person. gives absolute unity to those that otherwise were but units—to those that otherwise were separate and mutually repellent, save in the instincts of the new nature. But the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, crowning that work which Jesus accomplished on the cross, would show His sense of its value. Had they not been, by Him and His cross, met in all their miserable ways? Had they not been each going his own way, but all the downward road of death and hell? Had they not been pursuing their own selfishness, and yet had not God's grace proved itself above it all? And now He would unite them in a bond that never can be broken for an instant— “that they may be one as we are.” I believe that by this is meant that unity which the Holy Ghost would produce, that is, entirely independent of all circumstances.
But along with this unity of the Spirit, still they were in the world. The world was to be the scene where they would thus be made one by the Holy Ghost, and it would need all the Father's care and name to keep them. But it is the Son pleading with the Father. “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” Had He failed them in His care? Had He not been able to keep that miserable man? Was it any question of His failing? Not for a moment. If it was the fulfillment of Scripture that the Father might have His joy in the full and heavenly blessing of His own children, it was the fulfillment of Scripture that the apostate man should prove what he was. It was no failure on Christ's part, but “that the Scripture should be fulfilled.” It was not that God made that miserable man to be what he was; He never made any man bad; He made men, not sinners. He might send him that which would prove his sin; as He did under the law. But Judas, going on in sin so near to Christ and against Him, becomes a son of perdition. And this is what all men would be but for the grace of God. Lest, however, there should be the semblance that Jesus had failed, Scripture takes express care to the contrary. Were the others to fear lest they should be lost too? The very same Scripture that proved he was to be lost, proved that they would he kept. The Father would keep them. Would the Father fail the Son? The Son had never failed Him, and now it was the Father's business, so to speak, to put honor upon Him to whom He owed the display and maintenance of His will and glory against everything that contributed to give a false thought of God and make Him appear other than He was.
There had been glimpses from time to time, but what were they? They passed away, and the darkness reigned only the more dismally. But now and here was One who came to manifest God—who did win God His vindication. And who could do this but the Son, He who came from the bosom of the Father? But now He was about to return to the Father. And were they to be left to themselves? No. The Father that had been so manifested, would He not answer the trust that the Son had reposed in Him? “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil.” Could the heart even of a saint have thought of such a thing without the deepest presumption if the Son of God had not been here? Could they dare to say, We are not of the world, even as He is not of the world? Yet this is what He says of them. He is the measure and source of it, the only way whereby it could be realized. And the Son says openly, in order that we may know and rejoice in it, and that we may boldly take that place, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” But were they not in an evil world, and in the midst of influences tending to draw them down to the world? And what then was to be the Father's way of keeping them from the evil of it? “Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy word is truth.” And how was it that the word of the Father would sanctify them? “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” “I sanctify myself!” Was there anything then in Him that needed correction? Anything within that He required to be apart from? Never. Was it merely that He was about to become a sacrifice for them, (though perhaps I should not say merely of that which was the foundation of all the blessedness of which this chapter speaks.) Nay, it is this: He was about to retire from the scene of His lower glory, that had been despised and refused. He was about to take His separate place as the heavenly Nazarite above.
And it was for their sakes. “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” —through the revelation of truth, the truth in Him. I could not do without Him anywhere. I need Him above all on the cross. For even if He had been here for all eternity, still there were my sins. No nearness of Jesus—no love—nothing that He could say, or do otherwise, could take away sin or sins. It was too deep and infinite a question save only to Him. But He who was Himself the Son, the One who knew no sin—He has settled it forever. He has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
But He does not speak of atonement here. He is all through looking onward to the place He was about to take in heaven. “For their sakes I sanctify myself,” (or set myself apart). Do I not need Him there? Shall I be sanctified through the truth unless my soul apprehends the place He has taken there? He is nearer me there than anywhere. No doubt He takes my sins upon the cross. But I want not only that He should be near me in His love, coming down to me in my need, I want Him to take me out of that place of misery, and to have me in His own place. Not yet taken out of the world, but as near Him—as closely bound up with Him there, as if we were there already. He takes the place which God was waiting for—the place of the second man—the last Adam. It is the place where He becomes the object of our heart now, on the ground of sin being completely put away, and God being satisfied, not only about Him, but about me in Him. It is God's satisfaction in that blessed One for me that I find now that He is in heaven. I find what God intends for me by looking at Christ Himself in heaven. He is for me on the cross, but I am not one with Him there. But here I find that He becomes the object of my soul, that I may delight in as my portion and model before God. “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth,” through the revelation that the Father makes of the blessed One.
But that is not all. There were others to be brought in—persons that had not been witnesses of His love upon earth. They were not forgotten; we were not forgotten. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” He anticipates the work extending, souls brought in, the most diverse throughout the world. But it was not merely that these chosen objects were to have that blessed privilege—were to be one as He had said before. Now He speaks of their oneness in another point of view. He was going to make a witness of it in the world, and He prays that they all might be one—no matter who—Gentiles in due time. Had not God then separated the Jews from the Gentiles? Undoubtedly He had. How then came it that they all were to be one—all that believed in Him through their word? The reason was this. It was no longer God dealing according to what had been promised on the earth. It was a new thing—a man in heaven. And where had that been spoken of or promised? And not merely so, but, that blessed One from heaven being our object and portion while we are upon the earth, along with this the old partition wall between Jew and Gentile falls. “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” It was to be a testimony to the world. It might, perhaps, be a transient testimony—a bright vision that would soon pass away in the hands even of saints. For how soon did the scene change! How soon would the world find its reason for unbelief in the very thing that was to have been the demonstration that the Father had sent the Son!
Why should saints be separate? Why not be one? Of old so it was. But if there was to be the sad failure of man and even of saints here, there is another thing that will not fail: “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” Now I find that there is a new oneness— that there is a blessing where no failure can come in and mar its brightness: that it is not merely the testimony of grace in this poor world, but there is glory—that glory which the Father gave the Son—that glory for which we wait on earth. “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them;” and it will be manifest in its own time, and then it will be seen that they are one, even as the Father and the Son are one. “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect, in one.” And what is the effect then? “That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” Oh! what a joy to think that Christ will have this perfect scene according to all His heart. There has been the putting our hearts to the proof meanwhile, but He lets out to us, that the time was coming when He would have all His heart, not only in having us individually with Himself, but made perfect in one. And then the world will not be called upon to believe, but they will know it.
The knowledge of Jehovah's glory, too, will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. It is the same time, when it will be impossible to gainsay the evidence of the glory. They will see the blessed One in glory, and “when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory.” Oh! what a joy! And men, the world, will look up and wonder. How came such poor ones there? Known upon earth, if known at all, as unknown ones; the world not accrediting them because it knew Him not. How blessed to have His portion here! But by and by known in the very same glory as the Lord Jesus, the Son of God! And in them, manifested as one, the world shall know that the Father sent the Son, and loved them as He loved Him. For what a proof of it! How came they to be in such glory as that? They were not angels, they were men. And how came men to be in this glory with the Son of God? It was because the Son had been here, and had done His perfect work, and here was the fruit of it. Here they were, these poor and despised ones in the very same glory as the Son of God. And how then shall the world not know in that day that the Father sent the Son? It is not in glory as the Messiah that they see Him, smiting and crushing His enemies, but it is the Son; and the world shall know that the Father sent the Son, and yet more, “and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.”
And when does that love reign? Have we to wait for it in the glory? It is ours now as surely as ever it will be. If it is not ours upon the earth, it will never be ours for heaven. I must have it here, if I am to have it anywhere. It is here that I must have the love of the Father—the very same love with which He loved Christ. It is no question of what man is now. The Second man is everything.
Nor is this all. It is not now that our Lord prays merely; there is desire—an inner, deeper thing beyond what He asked or prayed for them. It was the expression of all His heart's will about them. “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” What an expression of a heart that loved them perfectly! Well He knew where the Father would have Himself, the Son, to whom He owed everything as regarded the vindication of His own character. Jesus uses it all for them. But there is more: “that they may behold my glory.” How blessed, again, is this, that Jesus counts upon the delight of our hearts in beholding His glory! To think that He should reckon thus about us! When we consider what we are, how apt to be selfish and cold, and yet that He counts upon this—our joy in beholding This glory! He reserves the best wine to the last. We shall be with Him where He is. No stranger eye will be there; none to intermeddle with that joy; none but those whom He has loved, and who, He knew, loved Him. It would be enough for them to be there, and thus to see His glory. “That they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
And if the world did enter for a moment, how terrible to think of its sentence! There is no scene of judgment, no threat pronounced of what God must execute. But it was all decided now. “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee.” The Lord leaves the world entirely to the righteous Father. He was not even about to speak of what that world had done against Himself. All was said in saying that they had not known the Father.
How blessed it is to find that the same chapter that shows how He estimates our feeblest feeling about Himself, meets us on the simplest, surest ground possible Does He here say, in speaking' of His own in contrast with the world, that they had been true to Him? No; “But I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.” How blessed to find, after all the heights of this chapter, and of such communications as those of Jesus which He here tells out to the Father, that He so comes down. “These have known that thou hast sent me.” It is so that He speaks, that our hearts, instead of being lost in comparing what He says of us with what we are, should know that He comes down to the very least perception the Christian has of what He is. “These have known that thou hast sent me.” The first thing for my soul that has turned to God is the last thing that abides, passing out of all the scene of death and darkness, and recognizing the love that sent Jesus down, and given me Him outside myself.
“And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them.” When in heaven, as now, He would declare that Father's name to them as He had upon earth, and this, that they might know themselves objects of the same love as Himself, yea, that they might know Himself in them, their life. May our blessed God grant that every word that our Savior has thus spoken may be graven upon our heart! May we delight that these should be His thoughts about us! They are the true means and motives of heavenly practice. It is not insisting on what we must do or be, that gives power to us. That which alone fits for doing anything according to the heart of Christ, is that our hearts dwell in Him and His fullness of love with the Father. These are the thoughts that the Son utters to the Father and that the Father reciprocates with the Son, in order that such as we may know, and enjoy, and live in them, and know Christ in us, their source and power, even in this world.

The Inspired History

Inspired history is true history, and gives the evil as well as the good. A mere panegyrical history would prove itself not inspired, like the legends of the saints or a human biography. As to prophecy, it is, I may say, constant invective against evil. That the patience of God went on rising up early and sending prophets, till there was no remedy, unbelief casts in God's teeth. I adore Him for it, as for all His goodness.

Remarks on Ephesians 5:8-21

THE eighth verse of our chapter gives another ground of appeal. The exhortation to walk is neither in view of the calling wherewith we are called (ch. 4:1), nor specially in contrast with other Gentiles, alienated from the life of God (ch. 4:17-18), nor yet in love only (ch. 5:27), but “as children of light.” “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” The change being thus complete, the word is “walk as children of light.” Be consistent with what you are, not merely with what you ought to be. We are light, yea, light in the Lord—at once the ground, and character, and measure: let us walk accordingly. How comforting is the call of grace to holy ways! The most solemn appeal reminds us of our blessing, and its security, even when urging us on with ever such closeness. How holy is our standing in Christ that God Himself should be able to say of us, “Ye are light in the Lord.” If He does, should we not say it of ourselves, both in Privilege and responsibility! Let us look to Him that, thus set outside all taint, (for there is nothing purer than light,) we may go forward, showing that light which we are now in the Lord. It is in the light we walk and by it should we judge all, for light we are. God would repudiate a lower standard or an atmosphere less pure. He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all; if we are His children, we are children of light.
“For the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.” No doubt these are the characteristics of the gracious operation of the Spirit; and this may have led to the substitution of “the Spirit” for light in the common text. But there can be no reasonable question that the true thought and word in verse 9 is “the light,” which is not more borne out by external evidence than by the scope of the context. In Galatians 5 it is the fruit, not of the light, but of the Spirit, because in contrast with the works of the flesh—ways of uncleanness, violence against God and man; whereas the Spirit's fruit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against which, as the apostle emphatically says to the law-affecters, there is no law. Here it is in contrast, not with legal proclivities and the workings of flesh which the law alike provokes and condemns, but with the darkness which we once were when without the Lord. But now we are called to walk as children of light, which is our very nature in Him, and we are reminded that its fruit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth. God's exceeding riches and grace in no way weakens, but rather confirms, the display of His moral principles, and makes them good even in us His children, whatever we may have been and are naturally. The new life He has given us in Christ answers to His own goodness and righteousness and truth. It could not be—it ought not to be—otherwise; nor would the renewed heart calmly bear that He should be dishonored or even misrepresented in the objects of His favor. He implants in us the desire of pleasing Himself, and He watches over us that this desire should be neither vague nor uninfluential, but bear fruit—the fruit of the light, “proving,” as it is added, “what is acceptable unto the Lord” (vs. 10).
Again, it is not enough for our souls to refuse to be partakers with the children of disobedience (vss. 6-7). We must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even expose them. It is all a part of our marvelous place and responsibility as being children of light. It is not law, simply condemning as by an applied outward standard, but an inward and most searching divine capacity, which, whatever the love that is the source and end, spares evil even less, but brings in good by the Holy Spirit in Christ. “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret; (that is, the doers of the fruitless works of darkness); but all things that are reproved (or exposed) are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light” (vss. 12-13). It is the property of light to manifest itself and all things else; and this is quite as true spiritually as in nature.
But there is more in the Lord's mind here concerning us. He would have us in the full enjoyment of the blessing, and not content to possess it only. There are dead things and persons around us, and their influence when allowed is most injurious. “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead and Christ shall enlighten thee” (vs. 14). It is not giving us life as if we were dead, nor even light as if we were not light already, but rather shining upon us who are light in Him, yet slumbering carelessly in the midst of that which is dead and deadening. How vigilant His love that thus thinks of us, that our cup of blessing may run over and our souls may be delivered from that which degrades Him and even us in Him, that we may be full of that which we are as His own! How every word of His, how every circumstance of ours, calls us to walk circumspectly (vs. 15), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the fit opportunity because the days are evil! We are furnished indeed; but constant watching and dependence are needed. The due season must be looked at and sought, let it he ever so costly, if, in these evil days, we would not be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Worldly excitement must be avoided, and those incentives to nature which jaded man craves, wherein is excess. Yet we may and should be absorbed with a power above nature, which excludes present things. “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (vss. 18-21). This is true and holy joy. May we cultivate it in simplicity. In truth, we have a goodly portion. What can we not thank Him for, who is our God and Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus? What else makes us so happily submit to one another in His fear?

Righteousness and Law

Further Remarks open Righteousness and Law, with Answers to different Objections. London: W. H. Broom.
The following extract will suffice to introduce this pamphlet to the reader:
I close by stating, as briefly as I can, what the real question in all this controversy is, and what I believe to be the truth as to it. My opponents hold that we are all under the law, and that Christ, born under the law, kept it for us, and that this is the way we are justified and obtain righteousness. It is well my readers should recall that all this controversy arose from the preaching of Mr. Molyneux, in Exeter Hall, who declared that if a man was born again of the Spirit, and washed in Christ's blood, still he could not go to heaven; that there was written on heaven's gates, Do this and live;” that we are sanctified by the Spirit, cleansed by Christ's blood, but had positive righteousness only by the law’s being kept. As to which, remark it is not merely that the law is a rule of life which is asserted, but specifically that righteousness comes by the law. All this I reject, founding my opposition on the plain and repeated statements on the Word of God. It is making a righteousness in flesh for men in the flesh by the law to which they are, as in the flesh, subject; and, moreover, at the same time, excusing their fulfilling it actually, by another's doing it for them. But, specially, it is a first Adam righteousness, a righteousness for man in flesh.
Now, I believe that it is not the mind of God to set up righteousness of man in flesh, or to set up sinful flesh again in any way. He has put the saints in a wholly new position in the second Adam, passing sentence of death and condemnation on the flesh never to be removed. Christ, as come down here, in the likeness of sinful flesh, but perfectly sinless, come under the law, in the place and circumstances where man was, but having entered into them by a miraculous birth, as every Christian owns, was perfect in this place, glorified God in it. And all that perfectness was needed for God's glory, and for His being our Savior; but He did not do it to set up man in the flesh again, (flesh had proved in His death its hopeless enmity to God,) but to bring man into a wholly new state, (where even Adam innocent had never been,) by resurrection, Himself the first fruits. The Old Testament saints having to await our entering into it to be made perfect with us. The Lord Jesus gives us a place, not under law, but in resurrection, and finally with Himself risen Hence the blessed Lord, to glorify His Father, yea, God's own nature in this behalf, not only, as I have said, was perfect, and kept the law in the midst of temptations, glorifying God in every way in life, but through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, bearing our sins and the wrath due to them, taking the curse of the law on Himself—thus cleared the believer perfectly, having by one offering perfected forever them that are sanctified. We, believing in Him, are clear, justified from all things which attached to us, in our position of men in flesh. But flesh in His death is judged, condemned, and sentenced forever. But this was as not all. He glorified God perfectly in dying. Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. Hence, raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, God has glorified Him in Himself, and straightway. This is witnessed in His resurrection and, we may add, ascension. But He is raised again for our justification and appears in the presence of God for us. Hence we have justification of life, and from him risen a wholly new life, standing, and nature, though we have the treasure in an earthen vessel, standing before God as to acceptance, in the acceptance He is in, by His glorifying God in what He stood in for us, on the cross. We are not in the flesh at all; not in the flesh. but in the Spirit; and the Spirit of God dwelling in us, we know we are in Him and He in us. It is a new creation, where what belongs to the old things is passed away. Hence, when in Christ, we reckon ourselves dead to sin, to the old man, and the law, alive to God by Jesus Christ thus risen and gone on high, when had by Himself purged our sins. Our place in the Spirit is wholly in Him, according to the power of the life of the second Adam, risen front the dead. We are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God. This it is connects inseparably godliness and justification. Christ is both righteousness and life to us. We are in Him for one, He in us as the other, the Spirit given to us giving us the consciousness of it (John 14) This, and not our being under law, is the true way of godliness. It is not the imposition of human righteousness on flesh which world it not; but the display of the life of Christ in us. Against that as the Apostle says, speaking of the fruits of the Spirit, there is no law. The safeguard of this is not changing the principle and putting us back, under law, which Scripture forbids, but the precepts, commandments, example of Christ, the government of God, and the discipline of the church itself.
Our acceptance is in the whole of the work of Christ, and in Himself who has done it, and that according to the value God has, and has manifested for it, in virtue of which Christ sits at His right hand, and we in Him. To return into flesh and law, is to ruin and subvert all this. It is not Christianity. The man who only sees that Christ has died for him, knows what justifies him from all his sins as a man in flesh, has the ground of peace, and is a Christian; the man who sees that he is risen with Christ, and in Him, in God's presence, according to the glorifying of God by the man Christ Jesus, knows his acceptance in the beloved, and the character of it. Christ is his righteousness. He knows what the righteousness of God is—that He is made it in Christ, who was made sin for us. He who brings us buck under law, brings us hack into flesh, and subverts the whole truth. It may be only a blunder in His mind, and he may sincerely trust in Christ's precious blood, and he a Christian; but all is obscured and muddied by his views; he cannot stand in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. He does not know what it is to be dead with Christ; to reckon himself dead; nor risen with Him; nor sitting in heavenly places in Him. All this is dark to him, as we have seen in those who have written against this view. Being dead to sin they openly deny, save as dead to their guilt, to which, on the contrary, they ought to be ever alive; and being in resurrection in Christ, is a hopeless riddle to them.


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Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 102-106

Psa. 102 is one of the most profoundly interesting in the whole book of Psalms, but I have no remark to make on it here. It applies especially to the Lord Jesus Himself, whatever occasion circumstances of individual sorrow may have furnished to its composition. The citation of it in Heb. 1 leaves no doubt as to this; and gives to the psalm a depth of interest which scarce another equals it in. It shows how the divine, eternal nature of the Lord meets the difficulty of His having been cut off when Zion is to be restored hereafter. But this gives to the poignancy of His sorrows a depth and character of its own. It is not a glorious result in blessing, the consequence of a work alone in its nature and value, nor the judgment which follows the rejection of Messiah, but the eternal truth of the Lord's divine nature meeting the reality of His sorrows even unto death. Hence it is especially His Person which is the peculiar object of this psalm, and gives it its especial interest. But though the security of the children of His servants, it does not afford us instruction so much on the government of God, though the foundation of it all is in grace. Nor do the following psalms very largely either, 103-106, which closes this book. The Spirit views what God always is for faith, but in connection with the deliverance coming in by the coming of the Lord.
Still the power of good manifested in setting all things right, which faith looks at as coming in, is realized by that faith as belonging to Him whom it knows already, so that it rests in it, as God's character, in Him as bearing that character, though its results are not yet produced, and clothes present things with that knowledge of God” though evil be still here. It looks at this world as the display of power and wisdom under a government of goodness, God being known, though the evil is not finally set aside, nor the result of goodness produced. But He who governs is good. And this is known by those who have sinned against Him, known for themselves and in themselves; and it is this knowledge of God which enables the soul to see wisdom and goodness in all things, though the effects of sin are still present. This is a very important principle: the perception of God and goodness in the midst of the sense of evil in which we live. True, a godly Jew, who had not seen Jesus rejected, who did not know the cross, could not know evil as we do, still he knew it; and the faith which looked to a final deliverance not yet come, introduced God thus known into the scene through which faith had to pass. God who, in the midst of evil, has let nothing out of His hand, has ordered all things sovereignly in the midst of the evil, though the evil be not His, in judgment has remembered mercy. And when the bondage of corruption came in, He who made all things very good, has held the reins and ordered all things wisely, whatever witness of evil remains, and sorrow and death. We are in bondage to it till divinely freed, but God never has been, never will be—would have us know that all things groan—but that there comes deliverance when He shall rule—but that the Creator, who made all things good, overrules and orders all things now. His mercy is over all His works. Now faith pierces through the felt evil, does not wish to be insensible to it, but by faith gets at Him who is above it, and can bring in His goodness even into this present scene, see His part in it, and even His part as superior to all the evil. It is not natural enjoyment of creation, which, though as creatures all are good and lowly, may be utter self-deception and blindness to evil, but faith getting to goodness above the evil and bringing this into its own enjoyment of God in the creature.
I repeat, Israel could not know the evil as we do; but then, on the other hand, he could not have known the redemption wrought and reconciliation to be wrought as we do, so that we can bring in God more fully yet. This is the general character of Psa. 103; 104; 105. They contemplate the full deliverance of Israel, but by faith; and look at creation not in its abstract perfection, but God in it; and Israel's history, too, as a series of failures, but God's mercy and goodness rising above it.
Thus Psa. 103 recognizes forgiveness and healing, looks on by faith to the deliverance and grace in store for Israel, but knows God according to that; sees His patience and goodness meanwhile, and this applied to His government. He is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. We know on what a perfect basis, as regards sin, all is founded: but here the effect is celebrated in the government of Israel; but God is known for all times according to this knowledge of Him. Hence it is not vague goodness, deceiving oneself, but evil owned, but God known in goodness. This ought to characterize our ways and thoughts. Not that we shall not have to deal with evil, and, if we go below the surface, meet it everywhere; but I ought to have so gone to God about it, as to bring Him back with me according to what I have found Him to be above it all. My feet should be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Psa. 104 takes up creation in the same way. The last verse shows the judgment which clears the world of evil, and His sovereign power is owned. But the Spirit is able to bring in the goodness into the midst of all it sees. But it does not go beyond a fallen creation.
Psa. 105 reviews the special dealings with Israel in past times. The present deliverance by judgment is also found here, but it is looked at as His faithfulness to His promise and grace. Here that is present manifestation of goodness, awakes the memory on all God's past ways. This is what He is, what He always was.
The following psalm takes the other side of the picture and shows man's ways—that, in all the interventions of God in goodness, man, after the first gladness at being delivered, turned back to his own evil and unfaithful ways. Still His ear was ever open, He remembered His promise, repented according to the multitude of His mercies, so as to bring, finally, praise and thanksgiving to His name. The former gave what God was in His own ways, this His being finally above the evil in accomplishing mercy and promise when men had shown what they were. God good in Himself, God good in the midst of evil, but not as allowing the evil, but as making Himself known by His own ways of mercy. And He being thus known by the heart, the heart passes through present circumstances according to this knowledge of Him. But to do this consistently and constantly, supposes the heart not only to know but to be with Him. This closes the fourth book.

Notes on Isaiah 9:8-21 and Isaiah 10

The prophet now resumes the dirge of judgment on the nation in general, begun in chapter 5, and interrupted by the two-fold episode of chapter 6 and of chapters 7, 8, 9:1-7. This last gave us the special development of Jehovah's ways with His people; the revelation of His glory in Christ, with its effects in judgment and mercy; the Incarnation, or Immanuel, the Virgin's Son, the stay of David's house and hope of Israel, spite of the land desolated by the Assyrian; then the re-appearance of the Assyrian, now that it is Immanuel's land, and the overthrow of all the Gentiles associated with him, whatever his temporary but great successes even in the pleasant land; next, an inner moral view of the people when (strange to say) Jehovah should be for a stone of stumbling to both the houses of Israel but a sure sanctuary for a godly remnant, “My disciples,” who would be for signs and wonders in Israel at the very time Jehovah hides His face, as He is clearly doing now, from the house of Jacob: all closing in darkness and trouble such as never was for the mass, and yet with light for the despised Galileans, as at the Lord's first advent, so just before the nation is multiplied, the oppression is broken, the victory won not by human sword, but by burning and fuel of fire; and He who is not more surely the virgin's Son, the woman's Seed, than the mighty God, the Prince of Peace, establishes His blessed kingdom from henceforth, even forever.
Chapter 9:8 takes up again (comp. chap. 5: 25) the general train, but with allusion to some of the instruction, as for instance to Rezin and the Assyrian, in the parenthetical part. Verses 8-12 contain the renewed announcement of divine displeasure. “The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars. Therefore the Lord shall set up the adversaries of Resin against him, and join his enemies together; the Syrians before and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth.” It is clear that as yet the ten rebellious tribes are the object of judgment, and emphatically their pride of heart in despising the Lord's rebuke and confiding in their own powers. For this is their fond hope and vain-glorious arrogance, turning their breach into an occasion of greater strength and display than ever. “The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.” But here came the retributive dealing of God. Had Syria's king, Rezin, joined them in unholy league against Judah? “Therefore the Lord shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him and join his enemies together, the Syrians before and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth.” So it ever is. The unfaithful people seek the world's alliance against those with whom God's testimony is, but prove ere long that the friendship of the world is not only enmity against God, but destruction to themselves. “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
The next view of their judgment (ver. 13-17) is not so much judicial retribution from without, but because His chastening was slighted, the Lord's giving up Israel to utter internal demoralization. “For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts. Therefore the Lord will cut from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day. The ancient and honorable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” Universal ruin in one day on all classes, from the highest to the lowest of Israel, “branch and rush;” all plunged into common destruction, leaders and led. What a picture! and how much more dismal and hopeless, when the righteous Lord, indignant at the abounding falsehood and wrong under the highest pretensions to sanctity, “shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on the fatherless and widows.” Neither youth and vigor are pleasant to Him, nor can orphanage or widowhood touch His heart longer in a people so depraved: “For every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
Then follows a most vivid picture (ver. 18, 19) of wickedness, burning like fire; of Jehovah's wrath darkening the land; and reckless, unsparing violence of brother against brother. “And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and be shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: Manasseh, Ephraim: and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” The nearest of the ten should devour each other, and both Judah.
The last of these disciplinary inflictions is given in chapter 10:1-4. Here it is the unrighteousness of the judges, who stood in the place of God Himself and were called Elohim, gods, (Psa. 82,) but most grievously misrepresented His character and wronged His people, specially the defenseless. “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?” And this is His sentence on them: “Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain.” The most exalted shall be most abased; and those shall fare worst whom it least became to turn their high estate and large power to God-dishonoring greed and oppression. “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
But now, in verse 9, we enter on a most weighty change. The Assyrian desolator comes up once more. It is his final working which is chiefly in the mind of the Holy Ghost; as indeed this is the grand catastrophe and last trouble of Jacob, and in contrast with the previous solemn formula of still continuing, unexhausted wrath. Now, on the contrary, we have in this proud enemy of Israel the rod of Jehovah's anger. “The day of visitation” is there, the “desolation from far” is come. The indignation ceases, and Jehovah's anger in their destruction. His anger now is turned away and His arm stretched out no more.
Again, it is of great moment to apprehend clearly that the Antichrist, or man of sin, is a totally distinct personage. The commentators, from Eusebius to Horsley, who confound the two, are inexcusably careless of the Scripture; for it is very clear that there will be a willful king in the city and land who will set himself up as Messiah and Jehovah in His temple, received as such by the apostate Jews; and that, altogether opposed to the Antichrist in Jerusalem who is in league with the western power, there is another chief, an external antagonist of the Jews, who is the Assyrian, or king of the north, so often occurring in the prophecies. Of him Sennacherib was a type.
The Assyrian, then, was first used as a rod to chastise Israel. “I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.” But he owned not God, saying, “Are not my princes altogether kings? Is not Calmo as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?” His own doom is therefore sealed. “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. For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent; and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down their inhabitants like a valiant man: and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped. Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood. Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his holy one for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day; and shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.” It is the closing scene. The Lord has not even yet performed His whole work on mount Zion and on Jerusalem. Nay, He will not have done as long as the Antichrist will be there. Having disposed of Him by His epiphany from heaven, the Assyrian still remains to be punished. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption even determined, in the midst of all the land.” Then indeed Israel's unbelief shall forever pass away: Israel shall truss no more in an arm of flesh, be it Egyptian, Assyrian, or what not. The slaughter of Midian and the manner of Egypt give the characteristic patterns of the future deliverance. (Ver. 26.)
The chapter closes with a most animated description of the Assyrian's march down from the north into the utmost nearness to Jerusalem. “He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages: they are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled. Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Galliun: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth. Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee. As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.” In vain, however: he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. “Behold the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror; and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled. And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.”

Remarks on Mark 3:7-35

JESUS was now made manifest in the holy grace and power of His ministry, the vanquisher of Satan, and—withal subject to God, superior to ordinances even as Son of man and the asserter of God's right to do good in an evil world. Much as man might like to profit for his own interests by His power and the mercy in which it was wielded, enmity to God in Him soon displayed itself. The self-righteous and the profane take counsel how to destroy Him.
But, His hour not being yet come, Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea, retiring from the hypocritical malice of His enemies, but unwearied on the errand of love on which He was sent. “And a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judea, and from Jerusalem; and they about Tire and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did came unto him. And he spake to his disciples that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues.” (Ver. 7-10.) After all, how little can man arrest the stream of blessing! Till God's time arrives to yield to the cross, the stream of testimony may be diverted, but it will flow to the eternal joy of the poor and needy who bow to Jesus. In the cross it overflowed. But the Lord, intent on the best blessings for man, provides against the over-pressure of a crowd too engrossed in the relief of bodily weakness and suffering; while He refuses the testimony of the unclean spirits, compelled to bow and own His glory. (Ver. 11, 12.) It was not for such to make Him known. He received not testimony from man as such, much less from demons. What was the value of any recognition of His person unless it were of God's own working by the Spirit?
Far, however, from hiding the light under a bushel, our Master now enters on a new and momentous step in the testimony of grace. “And He goeth up into a mountain, [for ministry has its source on high, and in nowise has its sanction from the multitude,] and calleth unto Him whom He would; and they came unto Him, and He ordained (or appointed) twelve that they might be with him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal diseases and to cast out devils (demons).” It was an act not only new and strange to man's eye, but in truth independent of Israel and man, and most significant in every point of view. The Lord separates Himself from men to God and summons in sovereign choice whom He would; and they came. And if He caused twelve to be with Him specially and to be sent by Him, it was, as in His own case, with marked prominence given to preaching, but with title and ability to heal diseases and expel demons; and even among the apostles there was a peculiar place assigned from the first to Simon, surnamed by Him Peter, and to the sons of Zebedee, whom He surnamed Boanerges, followed by the rest, though one of them, Andrew, was certainly among the first who saw and followed by Jesus, and was the means of bringing to Jesus his own brother Simon. But there are last who become first, and the Lord, who calls and orders all, alone is wise and worthy. What a testimony to the condition of men and things around! Men, the Jews, needed to be preached to; all was out of course. It was not a question of heathen only. It was in the midst of self-satisfied Israel that the lowly Son of God thus wrought.
On their coming home, a crowd again assembled so that they could not even eat bread. But His kinsmen felt the reproach of the world and went out, at the singular tidings to lay hold on Him as if He were out of His mind! They were ashamed of a relative, mad to their thinking, who virtually condemned all the world, especially in what He had just done. It was nature, always blind in divine things.
Not so merely, “the scribes which came down from Jerusalem and said, he hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the demons He casteth out demons.” They were filled and guided of the enemy, and knew well it was no case of a madman, but of a real power which cast out demons. This their malice attributed to Satan in their effort to explain, weaken, and defame what they could not deny. The energy which dealt with Satan, in mercy to man, was owned; but if they owned it to be of God, their religious importance, their occupation, their gain was gone. And the highest of occupations is proverbially the basest of trades; and trading in souls and truth or falsehood exposes men to Satan. And the fatal die was cast. And these proud teachers, setting up to be authorized of God to reject His Son, sunk into the merest slaves of Satan. How solemnly and with what unbroken calm the Lord deals with them! “And having called them unto Him, He said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation; because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.” It was not only self-contradictory and attributing good to the evil one, but blasphemous; yea, it was to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit; and judgment, eternal judgment, is the sentence of His lips, “because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”
The concluding scene (ver. 31-35) is the grave and fitting sequel; for therein the Lord, in the bearing of a crowd that surrounded him, renounces as it were all natural ties, were they the nearest ones of His mother and His brethren, substituting His disciples, whosoever should do the will of God, in the place of that relationship to Him from which apostate Israel was falling.

Prayer in Ephesians 3 Compared With Ephesians 1

In Eph. 1 we have our standing in Christ: this must not be weakened. There must be no turning aside from our place before God in Him. There I get to know that all I was as the old man is for faith gone. I see that I am dead, and that my life is hid with Christ in God, In the flesh there is no good thing. nothing but sin, will, lusts, which lead me away from God. But I believe the testimony of God, and see that Christ died, and that, by death for sins and to sin, the entire evil thing for faith is put an end to. The next step is, that, an end being put to me as the old man, Christ becomes in me the new man, and I am put in the presence of God as in Christ Himself, entitled to consider the old as done away. This is my place and standing before God. It is not only that sin is put away, but my position before Him is in consequence of this.
Nor is this the only thing; for I know that not only am I in Christ, but Christ is in me. These two things cannot be separated, but they are quite different. The one expresses my standing, the other my state. The Lord Himself said, before He left the world, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” He has brought me into the standing; and this we have in Eph. 1; 2 Christ is looked at as having lain in death but now raised, and we are raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Him. There we are; and such is our position as connected with the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Chap. 1:17, &c.) But in chapter 3:14, it is “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Again, in chapter 1., it is written, “that we should be to the praise of his glory;” whereas in chapter 3., the prayer is founded on “the riches of his glory.” (Ver. 16.) In the first chapter, God is called the Father of glory. Here the standing is taken as a settled thing; but we have something further, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.” Here it is state, not standing. We do not ask God to raise us up: that is an accomplished fact and is my standing. But here the apostle prays that something may be accomplished; that according to the riches of His glory, we may be “strengthened with might by His Spirit.” The condition of the soul must answer to the place into which it has been brought, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
I know that Christ is in me, and I in Him; but I ought not to be satisfied without the consciousness of enjoying Him. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts,” is a prayer as to state, not a declaration of standing. What we have to watch is, not to unsettle the truth of the standing, but to apply the blessedness of the standing to the judgment of the state.
Thus, if you say you have fellowship with the Father and the Son, I say, Come, let us see. I saw you laughing just now at foolishness in the street: is not that having fellowship with a fool? Thus it is one applies the standing to judge the state. And here it is that the advocacy of Christ comes in, and connects the perfectness of the standing with the state. Can I have a better place and standing than in Christ? I am righteous as He is righteous. My sins are all gone. And what now? I have been brought into the light as God is in the light. But you sin? Alas! yes. Is this the light? No. But are you going to put me back under law? No! I am going to make you own that you need and have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. The condition of the soul does not depend on standing but on present grace.
If a person says, I am in Christ and I am satisfied, it is to be feared, and very likely, that he is not in Christ. As to doctrine, he may be clear enough; but if he really were in Him, he could not be satisfied without communion. “Knowledge puffeth up;” but the effect of being in the light is to make us value not the place only, but fellowship with the Father and the Son (with one another, too, of course; but this comes in by the way). The way it works is this—the very essence of the condition of a soul in a right state is conscious dependence. Now I may use the fact of completeness in Christ to make me independent. Two things are implied in dependence—first, the sense that I cannot do without God in a single instance; and, secondly, that He is “for us.” In other words, there is confidence in His love and power on our behalf, as well as the consciousness that without Him we can do nothing.
That is the reason why you will find constant reference to mercy when Scripture speaks of or to the individual. When the Church is addressed, “grace and grace only” are mentioned. Only in Jude we have “mercy unto you, and peace and love be multiplied;” and then in verse 21, “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,” where the departure of Christendom is contemplated and when things were rapidly going on to judgment. We find therefore the saints exhorted to keep themselves “in the love of God.” This is state again, and it shows that when the Christian profession had slipped, and was slipping, more personal dependence comes in urgently. The moment I let this in, I let all the light in, and gradually my eyes get to see clearly. Christ is that light, and when we have to do with Him, the subtlety of evil is seen. But, besides the light, there is grace and present dependence needed.
Let us delight in dependence—that a person above us should minister to us and care for us.
What should we think of a child with its father and mother, who yet said, I do not like to have anything to do with them? Should we not say, These are not the feelings of a child? You may think yourself a fine man in being independent, but you are not like a father's child.
Again, in Eph. 3, it is not our being glorified with Him, but that God may be glorified. Thus, in verse 21, “Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus.” But this state is produced by Christ's dwelling in us by faith. It is not a question of the standing we have in Christ. This carries full, practical blessedness with it, as it is said, “That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Whereas in chapter i. 22, the point is, that God has put all things under Christ's feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. Hence also in Eph. 1, it is the exceeding greatness of God's power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, &c.; whereas in chapter iii. it is, “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” not the power which has wrought for us in Christ's resurrection, raising us up with Him.
When the heart gets this, according to Eph. 3, it is safer, very jealous of itself, and in a lowly condition—in a word, it is with God instead of without Him. I am perfect, I want nothing—that is my standing in Christ; but if I look for fellowship, I want God every day and every moment. But if I think of standing, suppose you have paid my debts and give me a capital besides, I have got the thing and want you no more for it. So I do not want God to give the place He has put me in before Himself in Christ; but I do want Him for communion, and if I find an evil thought, I go to Him for grace to get rid of it. Do you want to be perfect in Christ before God and not have a bit of communion? The work is done. If all your sins are not put away, they never can be; for Christ cannot die again: not only a sin-offering has been made, but sin has been put away. This is what I call my standing, in part at least, and it is as perfect as God can make it. That by which God has been glorified is my place before God. The best robe is on me; with me it is all grace, with Him it is His own glory. But are you to be a stock? Is there to be no fellowship? Not only there ought to be fellowship, but your joy should be full. Come, like an honest man, is your joy full? No. Well, but that is what you ought to be, and it is what we find in the end of Eph. 3—Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, not Christ our life, though this last is a blessed truth, but that we may be able to comprehend all the effects produced by the reality of Christ's blessed presence—His being in us thus. What an unlimited extent of blessing! (Ver. 18, 19.) When the standing is known, it is but the beginning of Christian life. If I am saved, I am inside the door; but inside, I want to know something of what is within. First, let the soul be grounded in that which is the substance of the whole truth. Then, if a person is not kept in a state corresponding to the standing, he may do worse even than the unbeliever. The devil may make him for a time cast off everything.

Having Upon the Heart the Sufferings of the Church

If I have upon my heart the sufferings of the church, little or much, I suffer with Christ. It is a little “filling up of the sufferings of Christ.” oh may we lay it to heart and bear as much of the burden as ever we can, and go on with him through the ups and downs of the present time! His heart continues with us; may ours continue with him. When the disciples should have watched with him, they slept; and when they were awake, they ran away. He would give it to us to remain with him abidingly and he has given it us.

Remarks on Ephesians 5:22-24

WE now enter upon the special earthly relations. The general exhortations we have had, which concern the saints of God as such—children of God, and members of Christ's body. But now the Holy Spirit shows that He is not indifferent to the relations which these saints may sustain, either towards one another, or towards others upon the earth. There might be, for instance, husbands and wives, both of them Christians; or there might be only one in this relationship converted, the other being still a Jew or a heathen; and so with the relation of fathers and children, masters and servants. For the present we have only to do with that which pertains to the nearest tie upon earth, that of husband and wife. And we shall find that the Holy Spirit most amply provides for the wants of the children of God bound thus together; so that whatever may be their difficulties, they may find gracious instruction and grave exhortation, and not merely commands in reference to the circumstances in which they stand before God—for this is not strictly the form in which Christian regulation comes before us. Of course, there may be, and are, precepts and commandments throughout the New Testament. Indeed the one who brings out love most presses commandments most; for it is in the gospel and epistles of John, where the greatest stress is laid upon commandments; and yet we all know that there is no part of the Scripture which brings out God's love to us more strikingly and constantly. It is therefore the greatest possible mistake to suppose that there is any inconsistency between God's love, and the strictest injunction that His authority lays upon His children.
Still it is undeniable that as the general character of Christian instruction does not take the shape of commandments as under the law, so we are not set under the Mosaic commandments to form our present thoughts and feelings and course as Christians; nay, we have got nothing analogous to the law: for “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Commandments we have; but they suppose and regulate life, and are calculated to bring the obedience of Christ into exercise; and there is nothing more beautiful to the soul, nor more glorifying to God. Ordinarily the way in which instruction comes in the New Testament is thus: there is a relationship formed, and according to its character, amply unfolded and enforced in the word, we have to glorify God. As this is true in natural things, so the Spirit of God uses an every-day relationship as the occasion of bringing out the spiritual one that answers to it. And our hearts being occupied with the exceeding grace that has formed the new and eternal tie, we may find not only a motive, but a pattern and power to glorify God in the natural as well as the spiritual one. There is no place where this comes out more strikingly than in the first of these relationships on which the Holy Spirit here expands peculiarly. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” The opening comparison which He uses, before entering into the spiritual relationship which is brought before us after the figure of marriage, the very first thought is to present the headship of the man, as having special force in married life. We all know that, apart from marriage, the man is the head of the woman. That is, if there were no such thing as marriage, man has a place which woman has not, which is entirely independent of character. We may find a man imbecile, and a woman with firmness and wisdom; but nothing can alter God's order. We may find a child endowed with great prudence, and the parents unwise and weak. Still the relationship is altogether independent of the peculiar character, and state, and condition, of those either in the superior place, or in the subordinate. And it is of great importance that we should have the thing settled in our souls, that no circumstances whatever warrant a breach of the order of God. There are trying circumstances which make the difficulty immense in either relationship. But it is of great consequence to remember that the rights of God's order always abide; that nothing ever justifies disobedience of His will. There may be cases where obedience of the natural order of God would be a sin: there are none where disobedience is a duty. You cannot be required to disobey, under any circumstances. But there are crises where you must obey God rather than man. It is an exceeding mercy that the times are few indeed, where obeying God involves an apparent breach of natural order and moral duty. But it may be so. You will find for instance, in the beginning of the Acts, Peter and John charged by the powers of that day that governed in Israel, not to teach in the name of Jesus. What could they do but fall back upon the authority of God? They could put it to these very rulers that their consciences were bound to God before men. Thus the first great principle remains and is plain, before we enter upon particulars, that obedience is always the part of the Christian.
Hence, flowing out of the general call to submission, in the fear of Christ, (for Christ is the One brought before us with continual honor in this epistle,) the Spirit takes up this first appropriate place for a Christian woman, and lays down the word, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Although that may appear extraordinarily strong language, when we remember what husbands are or may be, still it is a great thing to be always certain that God is right. To human prudence it may seem little guarded. Perhaps you have even to do with an unconverted husband! But only bring in the Lord, and at once you see the power that will make submission easy, and you learn the measure to which submission is to be carried. But more than that; you have the guard against the abuse of the principle: “Submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” The Lord is brought in, and this sets everything right. If it is a question of trial or suffering, still the word is, “Submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” The Lord may put us through great difficulties and dangers. What is the proper place of the Christian under such circumstances? Unqualified submission. Because I ought to be sure that whatever may be the breaking up and down which these trials may occasion to one's spirit, yet whatever the Lord does is the best and happiest and most strengthening in the end to my soul, the Lord being incapable of any one thing for me that is not for enduring good to the praise of His own name.
In this epistle it is not merely God's control that is brought out, but special relationship. Here it is the Lord loving His own, with a love that has sacrificed everything for their sake. How can I doubt the blessedness and value of submitting myself to the Lord? The Christian wife may have a husband; and it may be very painful and hard to bear all. Perhaps he makes nothing of you, and asks often what is unreasonable. But what will make it to be a light burden? “Submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Let me only see the Lord in the matter, instead of his inconsiderateness and bad temper, and my path is plain. I am to submit unto my husband as unto the Lord. It is made a matter, not of mere duty, but of confidence in the Lord above everything—in His love, care, and government. This is what the Holy Spirit first starts with, and makes to be the basis of all the various instructions that He is about to bring forth. He begins with the grand truth, that the Christian woman is entitled to submit to her husband as unto the Lord. So that it is not made a question simply of affection, which would be human. This is a most necessary thing as a natural element, but it would be true if a person were not a Christian at all. Neither is it a question of that which the husband expects, or of what I might think to be right. All these things belong to the region of proper feeling and morality. But the important thing is that God cannot be with a Christian woman who walks in the habitual slighting of His ground for her in her relationship as a wife. He will not allow a Christian to walk merely on moral conventional grounds. They may be right enough in their place. But if I am a Christian, I have a higher calling; and then, no matter what may be the difficulty—even if the one to whom I owe my subjection be not a Christian—here comes in the blessed guard, “Submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” He entitles me to see Himself behind the person of the husband; and I have got to follow Him, and submit myself to Him. In this thought there would be great comfort for the Christian wife who is ever so tried. But then the limit of the trial comes in—for there is a limit in every path—and it is this: that God never puts me in any circumstances where I am free to commit a sin. Therefore, supposing a husband were to command that which would be positively sinful, there at once I learn that I am not bound; because I am told to submit to my husband as unto the Lord. The Lord would never ask what is sinful. He may put me through the sieve, and I may not at first understand the goodness, or the need of it; but faith constantly finds its strength and guidance in the Lord's wisdom; in trusting Him, and not my wisdom in understanding Him. And you will find that we grow in wisdom by being content to take the place of having none. If my confidence is in His wisdom, I shall gather wisdom and grow in it. Our Lord was perfectly man; and although always perfect in every condition of life, yet the great mark of His perfectness lay in this—He was ever the dependent One that looked up to God, and that could say, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” There was at once for man the lowest, but in truth, the highest place. He understood the secret of His own relationship to God the Father. And although that was true of Christ, as of none others, yet it is true of every believer in measure.
But we have most carefully to watch ourselves in this matter. Wherever there is the smallest tendency to slip out of the path of submission, we have to search and see, if we are wise according to God. Nature never likes to be subject. And wherever there is a danger of pleading the truth of God for any act that might seem to be a want of submission to the authority of another, I have need to watch myself with greater jealousy than in any other thing. Where we are found in a path where submission is the word, let us leave room to bring in the Lord. In order to give power and faith to our obedience, and a holy character to it, I should see that it is the Lord I am obeying, even while there is an earthly authority, one that I am subject to. The blessed truth that the Lord was about to introduce begins to open to us. “The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church, and He is the Saviour of the body.” There we have an allusion to the near relationship, which is intended to skew us how we ought to walk towards one another in this respect. Although He is the Saviour, it is not for the purpose of taking the Church or the saint out of the place of subjection.
“Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Such is the general principle. But then you will observe there is always a measure and a guard in every such word of Scripture. It is not simply said, “Therefore, let the wives be subject in everything to their own husbands,” but “Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be.” There I find that Christ's own blessed way of caring for the Church and dealing with the Church in its due subjection to the Lord, is brought in as the pattern of wives towards their own husbands. But it is when we come to the higher of the two relationships, that we have the Holy Spirit bringing out its character more clearly. “Husbands, love your wives.” There we find what the snare of the husband might be. First, the wife is to look to her temper, that she discipline her spirit in thorough submission to her husband. It is not said to her, to love her husband, but to submit herself to him. But Satan might take advantage, and they being in the relationship, the husband might be wanting in tender care and affection. There is the ruling and guiding the wife; but what he is exhorted to here, is that which his circumstances most need, and which would be most for his own soul's good and the comfort of his wife. So that the word is, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it.” What a holy standard! What a most unselfish, considerate, pure, and heavenly Exemplar is brought before us, in order that a relationship which might be easily degraded, should have and keep its due elevation; and that even the poorest saints on earth, so bound together, might have the light and love of heaven shining upon them.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Thus we have the love of Christ to the Church set forth as the model according to which the Christian husband is to seek that his own love to his wife should be conformed. Look at its source and character: “Christ also loved the church.” All flows out of this. Need I, even as a man, say, that love, as it is what ought to precede a marriage, so is the only thing which, in nature, makes the marriage happy when it is formed? The love of Christ that is shown us here is taken in from first to last, as one unbroken whole. It is well to remember it in married life: the love that was true before the tie was formed, is a love that abides when it is formed, and that should grow and never end.
Certainly it was so perfectly in our Lord. He loved the Church. It is a question of a very special affection here on the part of Christ. It is not the general truth of God's love, who loved the world even; but no relationship was formed with the world. The important thing to look at here is that, although it is a love that exists before the relationship, it finds its proper exercise in it, and ever continues its real strength and joy. And if we turn aside from looking at the earthly thing to that which is set forth by it, how great the grace, and how rich the blessing! Once it was a joy for our hearts to realize that God could love sinners, and so love as to spend His Son upon us, sinners as we were. But there is another kind of love that we know now. God has taken the relationship of a Father to us; at any rate He has brought us into that of children by Jesus Christ to Himself. We are “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Accordingly the Father loves us with a Father's heart; it is not only that He loves the creature as God, but He loves us as a Father—yea, as the Father of our Lord Jesus loved, and not only in the measure in which a human parent regards his children. In such a circle there might be complacency and delight; and when we think what and who we are, to think that such an One as God the Father could delight in us now in this world, is most wondrous! that He should infinitely more love us than an earthly father does the child that he loves best, and that this love should extend towards the weakest and most needy of His family! There is also a conditional love towards those that are walking faithfully, and John brings that out in John 14-15. But now I am speaking of the absolute, personal love in the relationship in which God as Father to His children, as such, which does not only pity, but look with pleasure upon, and take delight in them now, spite of everything that is calculated to turn aside or weaken that love. Ought I not, as in Christ, to be as sure of that, as I am of my own existence as a man? yea, to have a better knowledge and certainty of what His love is towards me, than of anything that affects me as one living on the earth? I have that in me which is not proof against the deception of the world outside. But in the things of God, where faith is, it is not so. There is, there ought to be, divine certainty.
Where God clearly reveals Himself, the soul should receive it in humbleness of mind; and the more humble, the more sure, because the ground of the assurance is that God has revealed it to us. It is a question of Himself and not of us at all. If this be so, what a wonderful place it is to be in Christ! It is quite true that Christ loved me, but here it is the Church— “the assembly,” and Christ has a special love for His assembly, which I am entitled to appropriate and count on. This makes the union together of the children of God as the assembly to be so precious, and shows the all-importance of not reducing it to a voluntary society, small or great. The moment you bring in the will of man, you virtually and at once destroy the divine ground, which Scripture assumes. Whereas, if you see that God has formed a certain bond in the Holy Spirit for the glory of His Son among those who belong to Him on the earth now, and that Christ regards those who were within that bond with a perfect and most peculiar love; then it is the greatest possible joy that our own souls should enter into this love, and next that we should seek to act by His word upon the other members of the body of Christ, that they may believe and enjoy it also. It is not a part only, but He “loved the assembly.” The reason why I use the word “assembly” is that people often have a very vague notion about the Church. The word is usually and completely misapplied in the present day. It is said of a religious building, or of a particular party, in particular of such as are dominant anywhere; whereas, bring in “the assembly,” and understand by that the whole body of those that God calls out from this world, by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven; and there you learn the special love that God has revealed in Christ, not merely to the soul, but to the assembly which is His body on earth:

Thoughts on Revelation 5

WE saw, in the fourth chapter, the throne of God set in heaven, the great purpose of which was to bring into the world the Heir of all things—as is expressed in Heb. 1, “when He bringeth in again the First-begotten into the world.” This purpose, for which the world was set, is not as yet accomplished; for the First-begotten is not actually brought in till chapter six. At the end of the third chapter we have the Lord's own testimony as to the failure of the Church on earth, in that it is spewed out of His mouth. Then Christ takes the place the Church was unable to maintain, that of the “Amen, the faithful and true witness.” And thus, the Lord's judicial power having ceased among the candlesticks on earth, we find in the fourth chapter a throne, not of grace, but of judgment, set in heaven, round which the glorified saints are sitting on their thrones, perfectly undisturbed at the thunderings and lightnings, that are issuing forth from the throne; but when the majesty of God is celebrated, they cast their crowns before Him and fall down and worship Him as Creator. In this fifth chapter we get the things between the spewing out of the Church from the mouth of Christ, and the judgments preliminary to His taking His rightful throne on the earth.
It is not the manifestation of the general glory of God, in this chapter, but the unfolding of a book, or rather the preparation for it, as it is not actually unfolded till the sixth chapter. Neither do we get a throne which gives promises of blessings to the earth, as in chapter iv., where the rainbow was round about it, as typical of God's covenant faithfulness with the earth. Nor do we get the Old Testament titles of God, as “Lord God Almighty;” nor do we see God, as “Creator,” as it is said, “for thy pleasure they are and were created;” but it is as the “Redeemer” that He is celebrated here. In chapter v. we get the purposes of God, the Church being gone. God then begins to act in various ways, ever patient, even in judgment, until the accomplishment of His one great purpose of bringing in the “Firstbegotten” into the world. We get nothing of God's purposes in chapter iv., because creation alone cannot meet them; therefore, the moment God's purposes are mentioned, redemption must come in to accomplish them. Mark, also, that God's purposes here are in connection with the earth, and not, in any way, as having anything to do with His purposes of grace to individual souls. Redemption must come in, that God may be glorified in salvation, as well as in creation.
“I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book,” &c. Here we see the purposes of God in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne: they are in the right hand of power, that they may be accomplished, for He who sits on the throne is able to bring them in. There is great comfort in this thought too, that however dreadful the judgments may be, and truly they are terrible, the book is in the hand of God: so that when we read of the seals, the trumpets, and the vials of wrath, we see them in God's hand, as the settled expression of the accomplishment of His purposes; so, too, when we see that the Lamb that has loved us, and given Himself for us, is the One to take the book in the same quietness with which God holds it in His hand.
The natural mind, and we are still in the body, would tremble at these things, as it is said in Luke's Gospel, “Men's hearts failing them for fear, for looking after those things that are coming on the earth.” But faith gets its settled place in the purpose of God, and is not afraid; it sees all to be in the hand of God, and for His glory. God, in the stability of His own power, holds the book upon the throne, for God alone knows His own counsels, and faith recognizes this. Thus He who has loved us and washed us from our sins, in His own blood, is Christ, who is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, and the unfolder of these purposes of God. These things do not apply to the Church, but the Christian is to have an understanding concerning them, for he has “the mind of Christ.” When anything comes out in the way of prophecy, the Lord unfolds it to us, that we may intercede with Him about others. It was so with Abraham, for after God had called him out of his own country, and set him in the road of faith, revealing Himself to him, and giving him the promises, then God shows him other things which did not concern himself. He tells him His purposes as to Sodom, beside giving him the second promise, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” The Christian is entirely out of the scene of judgment here. No doubt the Christian gets the present judgment of evil, while walking down here, in the shape of chastening for his profit; but when judgment is spoken of prophetically, it always refers to others. Take Enoch who prophesied, saying, “The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment,” &c. He was walking with God, and had the secret of God's counsels as to the judgments that would be executed, and yet not at all as applying to himself, for he was to be taken away out of it all; and this is true of the Church of God. These terrible judgments from the throne do not touch her, though she is to be the vessel of testimony as to what is coming and in the place of intercession, as Abraham was. “God said, Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I do?” Then when Abraham gets the knowledge of what God is going to do, be gets into the priest's place of nearness to God, and begins to plead for Sodom. This is, in a higher sense, the place of the Church, as far as she has faith for it. “We have the mind of Christ.” In this sense it is that the Christian is a prophet, having the mind of Christ; and also as having the spirit of intercession he is a priest; and, likewise, be is the vessel of ministry for carrying the gospel to poor sinners; and he will reign when Christ reigns. At present, the Church, having received grace, through the cross of Christ, is the messenger of grace to those who are ready to perish.
But now we will turn to our proper subject, for in chapter v. we pass into fresh ground again. When God begins to unfold His purposes, Christ must come in, for not only does all belong to Him by divine title, but He is also Heir of all things by divine appointment. Therefore, when we have the redemption of the purchased possession, the taking the inheritance out of the hands of the usurper by judgments, we find the book of God's counsels, as the conveyance of the inheritance to the rightful heir who won His title to it by His work. Consequently when the book of God's purposes concerning the inheritance comes on the scene, we also get the Son whom “He hath appointed Heir of all things.” It was customary among the Jews, (Jer. 32:11) on conveyance of property, to have two books, an open one in which were title deeds, &c., and a sealed one laid by, in order that no mistake might be made; and this book which God put into the hands of the Lamb, was a sealed one, “sealed with seven seals.” “And I wept much because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look therein.” Of course there could not be any thought of looking therein as to how God would accomplish His purposes; for I would here remark that where the heart is brought near to God, it is not that there is a disposition to pry into these things, for that would be sin; but when we find God has purposes to reveal to us, it would be sorrow not to know them. But some might say, surely salvation is the all-important thing, but I ask, Is not that settled? That ought to be the question, most surely, if it be not yet settled; but if I am a child, I have the interest of the family at heart, and, therefore, when that which concerns the First-born is brought out, I am interested in it, because my affections are drawn out by it. For there are affections which flow from this relationship itself, as well as those resulting from the fact of being saved. Of course, it is nothing but idle curiosity to be looking into prophecy before the great question of salvation is settled between the soul and God. When the conscience is set at rest before God, there will then be liberty for the exercise of those affections which flow out from such relationships. But still there are affections flowing from the relationship itself, and felt in measure, it may be, as soon as that relationship is effected in the soul, and before the soul itself is conscious of its portion. That is, we often meet with those whose hearts are towards God, without having settled peace in their souls. Take Job, for instance: he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” God was breaking him down, and breaking him up, just to shew Job what he was all the while. Job had full confidence in God, although his soul did not know real peace. Affection was there, and when the soul got peace, then the pent-up affections flowed out. For I do not mean to say that there is no affection until the soul has got peace; but when the question of salvation is settled, then there is unhindered liberty for the affections to flow out. And when the soul has got peace, then it is ready to learn in quiet communion with God, all that He is about to do.
“And one of the elders said unto me, Weep not.” It is most striking how much these twenty-four elders are found occupying the Church's place of nearness to God; and we constantly find intelligence in these elders—not merely worship, but intelligence. They are always the persons who are the vessels of understanding— “made kings and priests.” The Church has a much higher kind of knowledge than that of the prophets, who prefaced their messages with a “Thus saith the Lord.” What the Lord had communicated to them, they delivered, and after they had delivered their message, they had to search into its meaning: for, as Peter says, “Not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto) on.” So, here, we find John in the character of a prophet had not the same kind of intelligence as the elders; he had just so much light given him as was revealed at the time, just so much as was needed for the delivery of his message, and no more. But now that the Holy Ghost is come down, and the full revelation is given of the mind of God in His written word, the Church, as such, having the mind of Christ, not only knows the message, but knows the mind of Christ about that which is revealed.
John sees no one in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth that was able to open the book, neither to look thereon, and then, naturally enough, he “wept much.” But what is the result of the elders sitting round the throne? Do they weep? Are they disturbed by it? No, not any more than they were by the thunderings; for with the utmost calmness and composure they at once say, “weep not.” Could they doubt Christ as being the appointed Heir of all things? Certainly not. That was a settled thing, and more than this, they knew Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah: the lion, denoting power—the having full power to take the inheritance. But the elders knew what redemption was, and therefore to them it was a peaceful, settled thing that this “Lion” had all power to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof, to unfold and fulfill the counsels of God, and to bear the glory. The two things that most peculiarly belong to Christ, are power and wisdom— “Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God;” and He makes the Church to participate in His wisdom, for “He is made unto us wisdom,” &c., and He will give her to share His power. We see this order beautifully maintained in the history of Joseph—When in the prison, God gave him wisdom to interpret dreams; and afterward we find him at the right hand of the throne of the king, exercising all power. So, likewise, the Church will share the power with Christ, for she will reign with Him, and will be the sharer with Him in everything, the essential glory of the Godhead excepted. Our proper portion now is not power, (I am not here speaking of spiritual power to overcome evil,) but now is the time for the Church to manifest wisdom in the understanding of the ways of God; having the Holy Ghost, which, as the Lord said, shall guide into all truth; but this must be through the written word, as the written word of God is the only depository of the truth of God. Therefore, it is the great instrument in the hand of God for communicating this knowledge through the teaching of the Holy Ghost, although at the same time He may be pleased to make use of various channels to accomplish it.
“The lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed,” &c. Thus we see that where there is the desire in the heart according to God's mind, He cannot fail to satisfy that desire. If the desire is expressed, even to weeping, it is infallibly answered with a “weep not;” for this reason that Christ has done that which will enable the mind of God to be communicated to every seeking soul. But this could not be before Christ came, as the Lord Himself says, “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear, for many prophets and righteous men,” &c. But the moment the work of redemption was accomplished, and Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, the Holy Ghost was sent down in testimony of the acceptance of the work and person of the risen Man, now in glory. And, therefore, now, whenever there is a desire in the heart according to God, it is always met and answered in the power of the Holy Ghost; for if Christ is revealed, then it is God's mind that we “should grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ.” But then there must be a lowly mind to receive it: “The meek will He guide in judgment, the meek will He teach his way.”
“Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David,” &c. In the first place we get here the special definite counsels of God, as to the center of His purposes on the earth. Judah was the one in whom the promises were centered. When Jacob blessed his sons, he said, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.” (Gen. 49:8.) The general promise at the beginning was, “the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” Then all was vested in Abraham's seed, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” The line became narrower and narrower, Judah was chosen from amongst his brethren, and last of all the family of David; as it is said of the Lord, “He shall sit upon the throne of his father David.” It is not a throne in heaven, as governing creation, but a throne set upon the earth, to govern the earth. “When the Most High divided to the heathen their inheritance, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” He is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, because it is by power that He will accomplish God's counsels.
He is the “Root of David.” David, looked at as a type, and as a responsible man, had failed, and his family failed also; and this has always been the way whenever God has put man in a place of trust. But God cannot fail, and He must raise up a seed to David according to His promise. At the end of the book we see the Lord spoken of as the Offspring of David, as well as the Root, but before He can be manifested as the Offspring, He must be proved the Root. For He is the root and source of all the promises of God. In Him they are “yea, and amen,” whether for the Church of God, or for Israel. If David bears fruit of blessing, he is not the root, though he may be the stem; if he bears fruit, it must be through Him who is the root.
The Lord, meanwhile, takes another character, that of the Lamb. “In the midst of the throne stood a Lamb, as it had been slain” —the poor lowly one with the marks of humiliation. “As the sheep before his shearer is dumb, so he,” &c. In the “Lamb as it had been slain,” we find the Lord taking up a dispensational character, because of redemption; and thus we find Him as the lowly, uncomplaining, unresisting sufferer, in a world of sinners, and that is where real power is found. It is the same for us now; we dwell where evil prevails, and it is our place to suffer as Christ suffered, to have discernment between right and wrong, and to suffer, rather than yield for a moment to the evil. “In the midst of the throne stood a Lamb.” Although He was the suffering Lamb as regards the earth, still His real place was upon the throne itself. How blessed is the thought that Christ fills all things! If I go down into the lower parts of the earth, I find Him there. If I reach up to the throne of heaven, I find Him there; and not only as God, but as the One dealing with good and evil. What a blessed thing it is to find all this in the One who is so near to us! He who said, “I am among you as he that serveth,” He who washed the disciples' feet, is not going to cease to serve them; although He could not continue in companionship with them, He serves them still; yea, He will yet “come forth and serve them.” He who was one with the Father, to whom as the Son God had given everything, humbled Himself to be the servant! How blessed to see our full and perfect association with all that love and righteousness could bring! Oh! it is a solemn thought that there is no place in heaven above or in the earth below that is not filled with the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, except indeed in one sad exception, that of the heart of the poor, wretched, unbelieving sinner. There is no place from Calvary to the throne of God, that is not filled with the love and righteousness of God, as manifested in Christ; and if we could always give up to the knowledge of this, what quiet peace of heart should we enjoy! The very peace of God Himself would be keeping us, for we could get into no place or circumstances, sorrow or suffering, but we should find Christ there; and, as we were remarking, if Christ be between our hearts and the suffering, instead of the suffering getting between our hearts and Christ, we shall find the place of suffering to be the best place on the face of the earth for us, as all suffering will then bring us nearer to Christ. There is no middle place. The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest for sin, are burned without the camp. (Heb. 12:11-13.) You must take up the cross outside, if you get the heavenly place inside. There was a veil over God for Israel, but we have liberty to enter into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. The veil is done away in Christ, and to us it is the throne and the temple up there, and the cross and the Lamb down here. Those who are in heavenly association with a risen Christ must have the cross down here, because we are alive and accepted within the veil. All that is precious is there. The Church is brought to see sin as God sees it—brought into the light as God is in the light, and, being cleansed from sin, gets into the sanctuary through the rent veil. That is our proper and only place, the earth being entirely shut out from us, excepting as we are just strangers and pilgrims through this wilderness world. And just in proportion as we practically know the cross down here, will be our enjoyment of fellowship with Christ up there in heavenly places. Light fills up all the space between the cross and the glory. There is no possible place that we can get into but we shall find Christ there; for to simple, single-eyed faith there is no spot between the cross and the glory, be it earth or be it heaven, that is not filled with Christ.
When John gets into this church-understanding, (as we may call it,) he sees a “Lamb as it had been slain;” and he sees power given to the Lamb, for in seven horns and seven eyes we have the perfection of power and all-seeing wisdom which is given to the Lamb, before a single seal is opened. And before we get the unfolding of God's purposes, we have the presentation of the person of His Son. It is just this in God's dealings with a soul: the eye of the soul being fixed on the person of Christ is the way in which it gets peace; as before you can get peace of soul through the work of Christ, your eye must have rested on the person of Christ. It was so with the thief on the cross, with the poor woman of the city who was a sinner, who stood at His feet weeping. The soul must first be fixed upon the person of Him who has made the peace, before there is the knowledge of the work which has wrought the peace. Before it all, and after it all, it is Himself that is presented.
“No one was found worthy.” None could touch or even dare to look upon the book, until the Lamb, so to speak, had filled his eye. And this it is that gives peace and steadiness to the soul, while searching into prophecy; for if you get into prophecy without Christ, you may be able to understand it, but it will be the mere result of the rambling of an unsanctified mind; but if you learn it with Christ, you will find Him the key to the whole thing; for if He is the center, He is also the key to the glory about to be revealed; and if you thus learn prophecy in connection with Christ, it will be to the glory of God.
“A Lamb, having seven horns and seven eyes,” &e. It is not said here ten or twelve. The number “seven” denotes divine perfection; the number twelve denotes human perfection in its administrative power—there were twelve apostles, and twelve patriarchs. The seven eyes show the wisdom which sees everything; and the seven horns denote power. A horn is used throughout scripture as a symbol of power, whether in speaking of an individual or a kingdom. We will now refer to a few passages as showing the importance of the expression, “seven eyes.” The perfect harmony of this blessed book is a wonderful testimony (were it needed) to its divine origin, as no human skill or intellect could have preserved the connection between passages written 2,000 years apart. But we see the secret of it is, that the divine mind is running throughout the whole of Scripture. (See 2 Chron. 16:9.) “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards Him.” Simply rely on the Lord in everything, just to do His will quietly, and He will show Himself strong on your behalf. Then in Zech. 3:9, “Upon one stone shall be seven eyes.” It was the figure of the establishment of God's authority in Jerusalem. Then in Zech. 4:10, “The eyes of the Lord (not in Zion merely, but going further out,) which run to and fro throughout the whole earth.” Besides seeing the general truth of the providential vision of God, we see that in a future time, when the true Branch is introduced, perfection is established in Jerusalem as the center of peace and blessing. Then these seven eyes will be established in Jerusalem as the center of peace and blessing. Meanwhile God is dealing with the earth, taking notice of everything, and manifesting His power in governing all things. And our place and portion is not that of power, but that of suffering with Christ. “If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him.” But in Rev. 5 we find these eyes of God in the midst of the throne in heaven. We hear nothing about the Father with the children, nor Christ as the Head of the body, with the members; but it is the rejected Lamb upon the throne of judgment in heaven, as He is not yet come forth to take His earthly throne, but on the throne of judgment “set in heaven,” having these eyes of wisdom and intelligence to unfold all God's purposes.
Now, then, having the person of the Lamb set before us, we get Him taking the book; and what a picture of full peaceful power (full power is always peaceful) when He takes all the purposes of God to unfold and accomplish them! It was not so when He took the cup of trembling; then He said, “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say?And in order that the blessed purposes of God towards us might be fulfilled, He passed through that dreadful hour, the very thought of which made Him say, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” He came under the full power of the wrath of God, for our full, perfect, and eternal blessing. It is the same Lamb in the midst of the throne, that drank the cup of wrath to the very dregs, that there might not be left one drop of sorrow, or trouble for those who know Him, which enabled Him as the slain Lamb, and at the same time, as the Wisdom of God and the Power of God, to take the book and unfold and accomplish all the deep purposes therein contained. (Ver. 8-10.)
Here we have “kings and priests” again— “they sing a new song.” It is not here the celebration of the praises of God in creation, but in redemption, for it is in connection with the slain Lamb. If the glory of the Lord God Almighty as Creator brought out worship, so is the praise of the Lamb in redemption adequate to call it forth. If the display of the majesty of God brought out worship without fear, so here the same who were fit to worship His majesty, have their hearts' afflictions and thoughts called forth by the display of the glory of the Lamb. It is a blessed thought that He that descended so low for us, has the adoration of the whole mind of heaven; and having made us kings and priests, we have communion with the mind of heaven, even now; and mark how immediately this connects itself with our daily walk. If I were a Jew, I should want a priest; but I am a Christian, and therefore I could never so far disown redemption as to say that I want a priest; for I am a priest, and we have a great High Priest, who is “higher than the heavens,” so that we go at once to the throne of grace, for through Him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father. If I have got Christ, He is God; and never let me lose sight of this one blessed truth, that I am brought to God. Anything but Christ allowed to come between my soul and God, dims Him before my eyes. He is the great High Priest; and we enter, because He enters, into the very holiest of all; so that we are more than mere priests, for they never got beyond the holy place, but we have boldness to enter into the holy place, because Jesus is there, and we degrade the efficacy of the work of Jesus, if our hearts do not go straight up to God Himself; in testimony to the value of the blood of Christ. All was adoration here, and with a free heart. A child is at liberty with its father; it will reverence its father, but its heart is free before him, not fearing and trembling as to what will please him. It should be so with us before God. His love is as perfect as His glory; and if He brings us near to adore, He will bring our hearts near in the confidence of the love that has brought us there.
Ver. 9. “Thou art worthy,” &c. Here as in the former chapter we have the intelligence of the elders brought out—full, blessed, intelligent worship indicated by the expression, “For thou vast slain and hast redeemed us to God,” &c. Now mark, besides the titles of Christ, as Creator, as man, as the Son of God, we get here the grand thing which is brought out the moment the “slain Lamb” appears, which is redemption. And it is redemption that calls forth new praise, as it is redemption that displays everything that God is. Do I think of the holiness that cannot bear sin? I see it there; of love to sinners? I see it there; of the justice that must punish sin? I see it there. I see God fully glorified in this book, whether in His love, holiness, majesty, grace, judgment against sin, all has been fully met as well as brought out in this grand work of redemption. The Son is equally glorified also, for if Adam had never sinned in eating the fruit, he would have gone on in innocence; but what would that obedience have been compared with Christ's, which was obedience to death, even the death of the cross? Then see the entire devotedness of Jesus; and we have God glorified in Him. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him;” and all the other titles of Christ find their full display and development in redemption. How infinitely higher are God's thoughts than ours! They write folly and confusion upon every thought of man. For while men were saying, Aha, aha, so would we have it, and their enmity to God's Son was displayed by their nailing Him to the cross, at that very moment the love of God rose to the highest; for when man was insulting Christ to the very uttermost, then it was that salvation was accomplished. God's love rose above man's wickedness, without in the least degree lowering the standard of God's holiness: when sin was carried to the uttermost pitch in the crucifixion of Christ, that only served to bring out more prominently and give freer exercise to that divine love which was at that very moment saving lost sinners.
Thus while we have seen the character of the Lion of the tribe of Judah to have been fully maintained, God never giving up one iota of His justice and holiness, at the same time through His wondrous wisdom, by the very rejection of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, poor sinners of the Gentiles are brought in. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance; therefore Israel will be restored according to His word. But meanwhile, He is bringing in Jews and Gentiles in a heavenly way. Redemption does not set aside the Lion of the tribe of Judah as the future source of blessing to Israel, but all kindreds of the earth must celebrate His praises in redemption.
“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests,” &c. We see here two things, royalty and priesthood. Besides the joy of being with God, as we have seen, we are also the nearest to God in power and worship. As the kingship brings us nearest to God in power, and the priesthood brings us nearest to God in worship, it is the blessed person of Christ, the slain Lamb, that introduces poor sinners into such high and blessed privileges; for Christ being made king and priest, we also are made kings and priests. All that Christ is made we are made, in Him now in the day of grace, and with Him then in the day of glory. We have the joy of this even now in our souls when walking close to God; but being still in bodies of sin and death, and thus still linked to the old creation, we groan being burdened: the presence of evil makes us groan. But when the throne is set in heaven, it will be for the deliverance of all that is now under the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God—not the liberty of grace, but the liberty of glory. Now the souls of those who believe are brought into the liberty of grace, and in the glory we shall be delivered from the body in which we now groan. Now it is the power of the Holy Ghost sustaining us against the streams of evil, but then it will be the exercise of divine power setting the evil aside. The Lord will reign then. If the Lord were ruling in direct dominion now, should we have all the misery and wretchedness that is around us on every hand? God does reign in one sense now, and in a most blessed sense for His children, for the very hairs of our head are all numbered. Yet now, as it is said, “One event happeneth alike to all, the righteous and the wicked.” But when Christ comes in power to take the universal dominion as the Son of man, He will discern between the righteous and the wicked, the evil and the good. Then the wicked will not prosper. The sun of grace has arisen in our hearts, and now it is given to the righteous to suffer for Christ's make. But when the Sun of Righteousness ariseth on the earth, when power comes in, in direct dominion, then a man shall be a covert from the storm. Now man does not know where to find a hiding-place. “The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.” But then the earth will rejoice in the fruit of the reign of Christ. Now we are to suffer with Christ, then we shall reign with Him. “When the heavens do rule,” then the saints of the Most High take the kingdom and reign with Christ. We are not to be reigned over, but to reign with Him. Our joy will be in and with Christ, but our official place will be reigning with Him.
Ver. 11, 12. “The voice of many angels saying, Worthy is the Lamb,” &c. We do not find the same measure of intelligence in the angels as in the elders. The angels do celebrate the glory and honor and worthiness of the Lamb, but we do not find them wing that little word “for,” as was used by the elders, first, in connection with creation, “For thou hast created all things,” &c.; secondly, in connection with redemption, “For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God,” &c. The Church is much nearer to God than angels, being one with Christ, and our bodies the temples of the Holy Ghost. This can never be said of an angel, although they are infinitely above us as creatures. “They excel in strength and hearken to the voice of His word.” Christ never died for an angel, and therefore took not on Him the nature of angels, but was made man for sinners; nor did He send the Holy Ghost to angels; and though they excel in strength, and as creatures are greater in power, still what is this to the display of His grace to a sinner? It is in redemption that God is fully glorified, and therefore it is that the redeemed ones get the nearest place to God, because in them redemption is unfolded. What amazing grace it is that could take up vile, depraved sinners that we are, and place us nearer the throne than those holy ones that never sinned, and always do His will!— “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.” Ought not our hearts to be moved by this? We cannot understand the loving-kindness of God, if we do not know the value of redemption. Affections flow from the apprehension of it, and praise will be the result. The lispings of a babe are acceptable.
But our hearts ought to be able to tell an angel what Christ has done for us, and why He is so precious to us. We shall be associated with Himself in the very presence of the glory of God. The angels are round about the throne. They know what power and blessing mean, for they ascribe it to Him who sits upon the throne. They see the glory of the person of the Lamb; but they know nothing of redemption. That word never comes out of their lips. How wonderfully we see that everything has its place in the counsels of God!
In verse 13 we see creation joining the full and universal chorus, ascribing glory to Him who sits upon the throne. They are in everlasting companionship with that divine glory. Not only do they worship Christ as God, but as the Lamb. It is as that glorified man that they acknowledge His Lordship. He is “God over all” truly, but takes a peculiar glory as Son of man, and this peculiar glory that Christ has got by redemption, will never be dimmed. As the Lamb He will always have it. Praise to the Lamb forever and ever! The very one whom we have loved, whom we have seen with our eyes by faith, whom we have handled as the Word of life, will be the object of eternal and unceasing adoration. What a thought it is! And we learn what the thoughts and counsels of God about us have been, when we see this company in the everlasting glory. He who became as one of ourselves; He who stooped to take the lowest place, and as having no sin to be made sin for us, is there as the universal object of praise. The place peculiar to the Church will be that of worship. It is a most blessed scene! The great thing that our hearts should rest upon, is the blessed character of the counsels of God as regards the Church, for we see the Church to be so thoroughly identified with Christ, that the moment God is going to bring in judgments for Christ, we find it has its place with Him in heaven. If the Church is His body, His Bride, He cannot leave it behind, IT being the fullness of Him who filleth all in all. There is no unfolding of the book, no sound or sign of that judgment which is to be brought in, until we have been in perfect peace around the throne, before the Lamb, praising for redemption, that glorious, wonderful work of redemption. And while the rolling tide of judgment sweeps along, and like the deluge, rises higher and higher, until there be not one mountain-top left uncovered to escape upon, what we have to do, is to sing of the glory of that redemption, which has delivered us from the wrath to come. The Lord grant us to find in those things which redemption has wrought out, not merely peace of soul, but understanding of all God's counsels of glory about the Lamb who has accomplished it all.

To See God

In reading 1 John 4:12-15, notice that if no man hath seen God at any time, yet faith enables the apostle, and should enable us, to say, we have seen God; and so seeing Him in the gift of Jesus, we can testify too.

The Rending of the Veil

UNDER the Jewish system God had conferred benefits, given laws, sanctioned them by judgments; but man had been kept at a distance: God had never revealed Himself. He dwelt “in the thick darkness;” and if He condescended to dwell amongst men, He was within the veil, where none could approach—in a word, unseen. He governed from His throne; but direct approach was forbidden. The thick darkness and the barrier of Sinai, or the veil of an unlighted holy of holies, secluded Him from man. Had He shown Himself in light to a sinful world, it must have been utter condemnation. The darkness had no communion with the light. Unseen, He might, in patient grace, bear much which man's ignorance committed, and govern in mercy. But in due time, when man had been fully proved in all possible ways—without law, under law, under promise, prophecy, government, and even grace in the mission of God's own Son—and proved utterly bad, the time was come for God to show Himself in grace, such as He really was. Had He done so before, man could not have been properly put to the test. This he has been; and now in infinite grace, when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ dies for the ungodly. Now if God came forth merely as light or holiness when man was wholly wicked, his will antagonistic, as the skeptic admits, He must, in the nature of things, have driven man out of His presence, unless holiness means allowing sin, whereas it means not allowing it, Yet God must be holy; that is, He cannot allow sin. when He deals with it, or he would be morally like it, which would be a blasphemous denial of Him. How, then, does He act? In the death of Christ He manifests His holiness in the perfect taking away of sin, that His perfect love may flow out, never so shown to men as in this act. Now God can fully reveal Himself without a veil. His holiness is perfect blessing, because shining out in absolute love, sin being put away. As a sign of this wonderful all-changing change, the veil which before hid Him is rent in twain from the top to the bottom, signifying Christ's death, according to the whole figurative arrangement employed to typify these things. And so the New Testament uses this event: “Having therefore.... boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath opened to us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;. . . let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith,” &c. Again, “Into the second [that within the veil] went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood. . . the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing, which was a figure,” &c.
Now here we have the veil and its accompaniments declared to have precisely this force in the mind of the Holy Ghost. According to the whole system of Scripture, and that in its deepest moral elements, whether of man's relationship with God, or in reference to the peculiar position of Israel, which we know historically was then closing in, the rending of the veil had the most clear and weighty significancy. Nothing could have had so much. It was the central expression of the whole change of the divine way of dealing with man, and of man's relationship with God by the cross. And here I would remark, that I must, to ascertain the importance and “genius” of a fact, take such a system within itself. It is another question, whether the whole system be right or wrong? But within itself—and the veil was a part, and a central part, of the system—nothing could have such a distinct signification as its rending. It signified, as I have said, the change of the whole relationship of God and man. I must, if I refer to a veil and its rending, consider the meaning of its being there, to know the importance of its being rent. God's being concealed or revealed, is not an unimportant idea; and the rending, at Christ's death, of the veil which concealed His throne and glory, not difficult to understand. It is a figure of course, as all these parts of the tabernacle or temple were; but a figure of the most intelligible simplicity, and pregnant with meaning.

Scripture Query and Answer: A Heretic

Q. What is the meaning of Titus 3:10, “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” Does this refer to the holder of Wicked doctrine as to Christ or foundation-truth? Or does it mean a person who goes out and tries to make a sect or party for his own opinions? Some seem to shrink from the last, as if it were over-severe and would condemn men otherwise estimable. B. A.
A. There is no doubt whatever that the apostle means, not a holder of blasphemous doctrines, (which is the point in John's Epistles.) but one who endeavors to make a party. If any Christians, pretending to spiritual intelligence, count this a light sin, they are themselves to be pitied, warned, and prayed for. What is self-will but sin against God? and what self-will in one professing to love Christ is worse than despising the Church of God, by essaying to form a church of his own on views of his own? All saints are ignorant, more or less; and the Church of God contemplates them all, save in case of excision for wickedness in doctrine or practice, which all are responsible to judge. To go out and set up a party for particular views, even if true in themselves, apart from the assembly of God on earth, is rebellion against God, and that in what is nearest to God save His own Son. To make light of the sin, or sympathize with it, is to trifle with God and His Church, and expose oneself to the same, however confident one may be in strength or wisdom to keep out of it. It is meanwhile sparing oneself and one's friends at the expense of God's Word, which it is evil unbelief to count over severe. Some think a far worse class, even blasphemers of Christ, “otherwise estimable.” Let such beware.


Printed by George Morrish, 24, Warwick Ler Paternoster Row, E,C

Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 107-113

(Fifth Book—Psa. 107-113)
IN the last Book of Psalms we find, besides many songs of praise, all the moral circumstances of Israel on their return to blessing. The first psalm in it stamps this character on it. It looks at them as gathered back, but traces the various scenes through which they might have passed, and that after their entry into the land too, and God's ways with them in them. It is a description of toils and trials, in which the Lord was looked to, and answered and interfered in behalf of the tossed and tried soul, and men are exhorted to own and praise Him. It carried this blessed truth in the forefront. His mercy endures forever. God's unchanging love and goodness, celebrated from the first fully proved failure of Israel onward. Man fails, God's mercy to His people not. It is His redeemed and gathered ones who are the people that have to bear witness to this. Strangers and pilgrims where there was no resting-place, no home, hungry and thirsty, their soul fainting in them, they cried to the Lord and were led in a right way to where their foot and heart found rest. Two characters are given to the soul in this condition. It is a longing soul and a hungry soul. We have craving and want, but these brought before the Lord. This is mercy. It is not the case of holy desires here, but God meeting wants. The wearied and fainting soul wants, but this want turns into a cry to the Lord Mercy is surely there. But this might be even where their affliction and distress was chastisement, the fruit of rebellion. But here where the heart turned to the Lord, mercy met it, and there was deliverance. The gates of brass and iron which shut them in are broken, where iniquity and the folly of departure from the Lord had brought it all on. He sent His word that they might be healed and so delivered. When men were venturesome and braved dangers and found themselves at their wits' end through the storm of the sea which gives no footing to them, the Lord comes in and gives peace and leads them to the haven of their desire. In the very place of the habitation of His people, in the place of promises, there His direct government comes in. Rivers are a wilderness, a fruitful land barren, through judgment; turning the wilderness into pools of water, judging wickedness and showing mercy to the needy soul, satisfying the hungry who lean on Him. Careless and lifted up even there, they are brought down. He pours contempt on princes, but the poor and needy He sets on high. It is not the order of a world blessed of God where evil is not, but the government of God where evil is, where God overrules the evil to the purposes of His own government, to hide pride from man, and comfort and encourage the poor in spirit who look to Him, who trust not in pride and human strength and will rest in the Lord. In all the ways too where their will has brought them, where their sins even have brought them, if He be looked to, His mercy and goodness are found. Thus God deals with the heart—turns the state of things and the ways of men into the means of their hearts knowing Him. The righteous rejoice, and oh how true that is—how much truer it will be where the fruit of the Lord's goodness to the humble, waiting soul which has put its trust in Him is seen. In the end evil will be put down, but in the way the Lord meets, comforts, and justifies in result the path of the humble soul; and the wise and observant soul will see, however busy, however pretending, however seemingly successful man's will may be, the lovingkindness of the Lord will be made good before him to his joy and gladness of heart. The Lord teach us to walk softly before Him, and leave the results in His own gracious hand. It is sometimes difficult, but always wise—painful to see the wicked and wickedness prosper. It is a world of evil, but God works in it, and His ways will work out blessing, and the fruit of His goodness and righteous power.
One or two brief remarks on Psa. 108, but on a point of great beauty. There is great confidence here, and, as ever, mercy to the soul which knows itself and comes before truth. But, then, for its own deliverance and blessing, it looks to the exalting of God. This shows it must be a holy, righteous exalting. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and thy glory above all the earth, that thy beloved may be delivered. It is a blessed thought, and this is what faith has to lay hold of now, even in the time of trial, that our blessing and God's glory are one, only we must put His glory first. This is the very principle of uprightness— “He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true,” says Christ, “and there is no unrighteousness in him” —and the highest blessing. So Jesus Himself, “What shall I say, Father, save me from this hour Father, glorify thy name.”
Then comes, “I, if I be lifted up, shall draw all men unto me.” So in trial and even in evil, faith identifies the glory of God and His people. “The Egyptians will hear of it. . . . What wilt thou do to thy great name?” For the same reason there is no sparing evil when we are in the midst of the people, and evil calls this principle out, God being publicly dishonored, “Slay ye every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.” In a word, faith identifies God's glory and exaltation and His people, but puts God first. Here it is in blessing, and we have the remarkable answer of God. I will rejoice. His own joy and delight is in the blessing of His people; exults in doing them good, in delivering His beloved, in the employment of His might to set aside the evil which oppressed them, and put them in possession of what, by His gift, belonged to them. And, whatever the strength of their adversaries, He will accomplish their blessing: the strong city dare not stand before Him. And even when through their fault they had been refused His help, (in Israel's case, as we know, long cast off,) still, when the just time of the blessing of the humble comes, He will put forth the needed strength that all may be fulfilled. He gives strength to His people, His own power delivers them. They have learned that His only is of any worth or avail.
Psa. 109 is the judgment of Judas and the antichristian Jews at the end. It affords us little experimental teaching, while most solemn in its testimony. First, the motive of help: “Do it for thy name's sake.” The nature and glory of God is at the root of all His ways; and when the heart caught at this, the answer of help is seen, God cannot be inconsistent with Himself. But for this the heart must be brought into the state co-ordinate with that name, lowliness, the judgment of evil in self and so uprightness, dependence; and God may exercise fully to manifest brokenness of will and produce it, and the heart's leaving all submissively to Him. In Christ's place all these exercises only brought out His perfectness, in us they work uprightness and dependence. In Him all this sorrow was purely God's hand, that is, there was no reason for it in Himself. And this is accorded to us in grace, even if we have given occasion to it by our self-will or evil, still God has taken it in hand in our discipline, and when He has wrought His work sets His saints up in blessing to the confusion of the adversary, forced to own His hand where they triumphed in evil, and thought only to triumph over the just. But they have met God, for these were His ways with His people, and this government can go on with us because redemption is complete. In Christ's ease it was pure hatred against good, He undergoing it for us. For His love they were His adversaries. But they, the lovers of evil, are before the Lord continually; the time of showing it is His own, for us when His work of subjugating our will, teaching us holy dependence, is complete; in Christ, when it has been manifested. and God fully glorified.
Psa. 110 In this, glorifying Christ at God's right hand, I have only one remark to make. The last verse shows the perfection of Christ in this spirit of dependence on the way, the path in which we have to follow Him as walking in the new man; glad of the refreshments of God, but dependent in them and taking them as they are found, that is, as God Himself gives them in the way—the spirit of lowly dependence.
Psa. 111 In a vast number of the psalms of this last book, the present intervention of judgment and power is so contemplated that instructions for the trials of the way are less to be looked for. It is the case in this psalm. It raises, anticipatively no doubt, its hallelujah for the works of God. Only this is to be remarked, and so always, that these works of deliverance are always conformable to, and founded on, and make good, the truth of God's character. They are verity and judgment. His commandments are proved sure in them. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. Hence to enjoy the fruit of them our path is to walk after the Lord's ways and reckon on the sureness of His promise, and if He tarry, wait for Him. But, as we have always seen, mercy and compassion towards us is found and felt in them. If we are delivered, it is sovereign goodness. Hence the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; obedience leads us to intelligence, being in the path of God. Light is truth in that path, and according to it. You cannot separate the true knowledge of divine things from godliness. It is the nature which is godly, obedient—grace dependent on God which alone desires or understands them. If any man will do my will, He shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. Hence in the path of obedience, the realizing the light in a subjection which owns God, more is found; for light and the path of the new nature are one. The truth as it is in Jesus, that ye put off the old man and put on the new, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. We are renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created us. In this path we have to walk by till power comes in. In Israel, of course, it. was more as law; but the principle is always true, as true knowledge is the knowledge of God. It is impossible to separate true knowledge from a state which owns God for what He is—obedience and dependence on Him.
Psa. 112 I leave aside, of course, the promises of temporal blessing, which apply directly to the Jewish people and system. These latter psalms refer especially to them, because blessing is just come in by judgment, but some principles are worthy of note—the wisdom of acting in obedience through the path of trial is specially insisted on in these psalms. Much was there (there always is) to say that faithfulness was folly and ruin. God warns them, and in that is the path of wisdom. It lasts in its effects when the wicked disappear. The generation of the upright will be blessed. His righteousness endures forever. No doubt darkness seems to shut him in, but light arises for him even there. We must learn to trust to God, blessing is sure to the obedient. But thus walking with God, peace of heart and the sense of goodness make him gracious and full of compassion towards others—upright too with them. Self-seeking is not his governing principle. He shows favor, is liberal in heart, nor is there rashness or self-will. He carries out and carries through his matters in the fear of God, with soundness of mind; does not use lightness, that his yea should be nay. Guided by God in going into them he carries through his path to the end, because it is God's will, and with the strength and steadiness the consciousness of doing that gives. And this is of importance in the path of the saints as a testimony, that God is there, and His mind the guide of our path. He abides, he that does God's will does so. Further, when the power of evil is abroad, he is not shaken. In the midst of exercises of heart, of moral evil, he has been with God. His will has been supreme with him. He has looked at God as one whose will ordered all, and God Himself as all. If He was pleased, be was content. Circumstances had lost their power as motives, and God had, so to speak, taken their place in his heart and mind. Hence, when adverse ones arise, they find God there known, trusted: his heart is fixed trusting in the Lord.
Only one principle comes before us in Psa. 113, but one which cannot be too often brought before our souls, one which we have constant tendency to forget. God chooses weak things, that it may be evident that good and blessing come from His power and love. God uses means, but when man speaks of means be generally speaks not of reference of heart to God, prayer, His word, and the like, but of leaning on man's influence, and man's strength. This is all evil. Oh that we may remember that God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and weak things, and things that are not, to bring to naught things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. Blessing were not divine blessing indeed if it were not so. But then in this strength we may look for grace. He dwells on high, but humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth. He raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the needy out of the dunghill to set him with the princes, even the princes of His people, and takes the barren and gives her children like a flock, makes her a joyful mother of children. Such are God's ways. The heart delights in them. Power is His, and goodness, but what a lesson in the midst of this world, and for the heart of man.

God's Thoughts of the Blood of Christ, Not Ours

We must think not on our thoughts, but on God's thoughts of the blood of Christ. The Israelites were assured that He would see the Lamb's blood.

Remarks on Mark 4

The Lord Jesus had been announced as the Messiah by His forerunner, had manifested Himself fully as such, so that all were responsible from the chief authorities down to the people at large. The last chapter showed what the result would be, the crowning testimony of the Spirit rejected as well as the Son of man in person, the unpardonable sin of that rebellious and apostate race, and the formation of new relationships, characterized by the doing of God's will, in lieu of the natural ties which were now solemnly and publicly disowned of the Lord.
This opens the way for a parabolic description of the Savior's ministry, its course and results, His attitude meanwhile and at the close, as well as the circumstances of His disciples while engaged under Him. Mark does not present a full view of the dispensation of the kingdom of heaven, which has its appropriate place in Matthew. Nevertheless, both he and Luke give us in a very complete manner, each suited to the special aim of the respective gospels, the parable of the sower.
“And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; Behold there went out a sower to sow: and it came to pass as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and be» cause it had no root it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
This was His work now, scattering abroad the seed of the word. There was nothing in man acceptable to God. It was a question of something new and divine, the fruit of the operation of grace. A new life there must be if fruit unto God be looked for. There was nothing like it before: not even John's preaching went out thus far and wide, and still less the law and the prophets.
But then there are divers lessons to be learned; for the action is always responsible even where it is not efficacious. The seed was good; there was no defect there; but man as such is good for nothing, and the effect, where there is not the saving work of the Spirit, comes to nothing sooner or later. Much, therefore, was, in this point of view, lost.
The first class, where all fails as to result, consists of the wayside hearers; “When they have heard,” says the Lord (ver. 14, 15) in explanation, “Satan cometh immediately and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” This answers to the fowls of the air coming and devouring the seed that fell by the roadside. This is the direct, destructive power of the enemy which hinders the entrance of the word. It does not penetrate below the surface, never goes farther than talk, speculation, or admiration of the preacher. The moral state of death is evidently untouched, and Satan has it all his own way.
Next, we have the case of the seed that fell on stony ground, where it had but little earth, and the effect was full of instantaneous promise. “Immediately it sprung up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.” Here we have the flesh or nature doing its best, but proving its utter weakness. They are the persons, “who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.” Here the work went no deeper than the affections, without reaching the conscience and convicting it before God. To take the joy of Christianity where there has been no judgment of the life and state as in God's sight, is really to slight and ignore Him altogether, making much of self. Haste in reception of the blessing is anything but the indication of a divine work. Hence the all-importance of repentance, which has been too much lost sight of through a desire to guard the freeness of grace and deliver the gospel from legal clogs. But this remedy is, at least, as dangerous as the disease which it was intended to cure. We must not weaken the solemn dealing of the Holy Ghost with the conscience. It is good, wholesome, and essential that the soul should weigh its condition in God's light and pronounce His judgment on itself; though, doubtless, repentance is of faith, and not a preparation for faith. Still there may be no kind of peace and all but despair as yet; the heart may be plowed up deeply and with scarcely more than a hope of mercy, which keeps it from utterly sinking; and the Lord in due time brings home the word, “Thy sins which are many are forgiven Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.” Then, indeed, there is, at once, and lastingly, peace and joy in believing.
Where there is not the sounding of the heart thus morally, as in God's sight, the same haste which receives easily, gives up without difficulty in presence of fiery trial. Well, in truth, it is for the soul, thus captivated by an imaginative joy through a mere feeling of the beauty, the truth, and the attractiveness of God's most unselfish love in the abstract, which may be mistaken for its own deep enjoyment of His grace to a sin-convicted soul—well it is, if it discover the fatal error, and, after being turned aside, if it return, or rather turn in reality, to God, in divinely wrought sense of its sin and guilt, to find in Christ Jesus the only answer to its wants.
The third case is where some seed fell among thorns; but, being choked by the growing thorns, it yielded no fruit. Such are they who hear the word; but the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful, (ver. 18, 19,) a serious and not infrequent thing. May we beware! There are various forms in which the evil works, but it is worldly lust and real selfishness, in distrust of God and indifference to His interests, so that the heart gets either overwhelmed with anxiety, or active in the pursuit of present things. The very semblance of devotedness is lost, and the soul goes back, it may be with intense avidity, to the world it had seemed to leave. There are none without the need of God's guard against them all. But ye that are poor, watch against encroaching cares; ye rich, be not enticed by the deceitfulness of riches; both of you, see that ye judge “the lusts of other things!”
On the other hand, there is seed that falls on good ground, and yields fruit, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred: even there the result is checkered; for that which is fatal to the unbeliever may injure grievously the fruitfulness of the faithful. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Ver. 9.) It is a grave matter for every soul—grave for him that hears; and what is it for him who has no ear to hear?
“And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? He explains the mind of God, not to the twelve only, but to those who were about Him. They were those within: all else were “without,” to whom all things happen in parables, a rebelling people without even a reprover now. But those within have the privilege of knowing the mystery of the kingdom: grace thus wrought, distinguishing those separated to Christ from the guilty nation, given up increasingly to judicial darkness, though it reproved them for their want of understanding. Nor was this parable hard to discern, but elementary and fundamental, a sort of introduction to those which were to follow. Nevertheless, the gracious Lord, if He rebukes, proceeds to expound it, as we have seen in verses 14-20.
But, beside saving the soul, the engrafted word issues in testimony; and this is the next and characteristic statement of the Lord in our gospel. “And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was anything kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” The word is not “seed” only to produce fruit, but a candle or lamp to shine in the witness of God's grace and truth in this dark world, even as Christ, lowly as He was and servant of all, was its perfect expression personally. Was it then come to be put under a bushel or a bed, and not rather on its own appropriate stand? It could not be: for, in truth, “There is nothing hid which shall not be manifested; neither was anything kept secret but that it should come abroad. If any man hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Thus we have the responsibility to shine in the world, holding forth the word of life; and this with the settled certainty that all must come out whether of good or evil, closing with the solemn appeal to individual conscience once more.
Again, He said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” It is still responsibility in the service and testimony of the Lord. We must take heed, then, what we hear: for what we receive, we are bound to communicate. Want of value for the treasure of God, want of confidence in His grace, reaps its own bitter harvest. “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you; and unto you that hear shall more be given.” Such is the special connection here. Those only possess who give out in grace, and such shall receive yet more abundantly; while they who have not in reality, shall lose even the show they have.
The next parable, which is peculiar to our gospel, is singularly characteristic of it. It is the work of the kingdom. “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” The absence and apparent disregard of the Lord are supposed, not His manifestation and active interference. Harvest being come, He reaps, instead of sending His angels, as in Matthew.
This is followed by the mustard seed, (ver. 30-82) which shows its growth from a small beginning into a great development, and a system of protection on the earth even for the emissaries of the god of this world. “And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.”
The final scene of the chapter (ver. 35-41) sets forth the trials to which His people are exposed in their work, with Him in their midst. Their foolish, selfish unbelief is as plain as His calm supremacy over that which He only could control, and His just rebuke of their timidity, blind to the glory of His person.

Children and Parents

If a man were to teach or incite the children of a family to do anything he knew was displeasing to the parent, how could he say he loved the children for the father's sake?

Remarks on Ephesians 5:25-33

OF course, the death of Christ was essential, in order that the gospel should now be preached to the world. This, too, is the ground on which the heavens and earth will be cleared of all that now pollutes and defiles. Everything for the justification of God in the past, and the outflow of the love of God in the future, is founded upon the death of Christ. Hence the momentous value of His redemption, for earth and heaven; for Jew, Gentile, and Church of God, for time and eternity. But, besides, there is great force in the word, “He gave Himself.” There was nothing in Christ that He did not give. It is not what He did, nor only what He suffered, but He gave Himself. Of course it implies all that was in Him and of Him, but it goes a great deal further, because it is absolute self-renunciation in love for the sake of the object that He loved; the perfect pattern of the very fullness of love which it is quite beyond any human relationship to emulate; justly does the Spirit in addressing the Christian husband, skew us that Christ in all things has the pre-eminence; “He gave Himself for us.” What is the consequence of that? The Church is without sin before God—sins are blotted out forever— redemption is effected—Satan is defeated—divine wrath and judgment borne—the ordinances, which were against those that were under them, are nailed to the cross—the enmity is gone— the new man is formed; and all this and much more than this, founded upon Christ's giving Himself. The effect for us is that here we have in unclouded light, without doubt or question, Himself, in love, as the object of our souls to delight in and submit to, and serve, and worship evermore.
I have no more right to believe that Christ gave Himself for me, than I have to believe that my iniquities are completely purged out by His precious blood. If I believe the one, I owe it to God to believe the other; and the ground of my faith is God's testimony to the perfectness of what Christ has done according to the glory of His person. God sets such value upon His work of suffering on the cross, that He can perfectly love me. We are free. We have redemption through His blood. But it is in Him; not only through His blood, but in Him; as it is said in chapter 1. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” So that it is of great importance that while we hold redemption, we should not hold it, if I may be allowed so to say, apart from, but in Him. And what will enable me to estimate and hold fast the preciousness of this work, is His person; we must remember not only what was done, but who He was that did it. If you, in self-judgment, cleave to Him and to these two blessed truths in Him, there never can be a cloud upon your soul, as to your own perfect deliverance from all charge before God, but now comes another thought. If Christ has completed this, if it is a past thing, never requiring to be re-touched, we enter upon the second proof of His love, “that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” I take it that the sanctifying the Church spoken of here, though connected closely with its being cleansed through the word, is a distinct thing. These are two operations, and there is an important difference between sanctifying the Church and cleansing it. This sanctifying does not merely refer to our growth in grace: it is connected with Christ. It is not the Spirit of God merely working in the believer. Men talk as if it were the business of the Son to justify, and of the Spirit to sanctify. But we are washed, we are sanctified, we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. All that by virtue of which we are washed, and sanctified, and justified, is Christ; and it is by the Spirit of our God. The Spirit of God is the active agent in the justification, no less than in the sanctifying; but it is always by using Christ. Hence there is a great danger in disconnecting Christ from sanctification. Christ gave Himself for the Church “that He might sanctify and cleanse it.” His blood is involved in His giving Himself.
In fact, all that which flows from redemption, properly so called, is involved in verse 25: “He loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” This is a past thing. But now comes that which is going on all the time of the Church's existence upon the earth. After this calling comes the death of Christ for us—His giving Himself for the Church. And now you have, founded upon the cross, this sanctifying and cleansing that goes on continually. But how is it wrought? In both cases it is by the washing of water by the word. This shows us the immense importance of the word of God. Of what moment it is for every child of God to value that word and to seek to grow in acquaintance with God through it—to increase in the knowledge of God! So far from our belonging to the Church, or rather to Christ, being the sum and substance of all we have to learn, it is only the foundation; and it is after we know this, that there comes in all this sanctifying and cleansing by the washing of water by the word. So that it is clear we have got three fruits of the love of Christ that are very distinct indeed. The first is, that He gave Himself; (that is, unto death;) the second is, the present work of His life: since the cross, He is occupying Himself in heaven about the Church; He is taking care of His members, working by the Holy Spirit, and applying the word of God, and all connected with Christ Himself, because the whole point of it is Christ's love to the Church. He is sanctifying and cleansing now by the washing of water by the word; but we know that our sins are put away by His blood.
Allow me to say here, a fresh application of the blood of Christ is unknown to Christianity. There are Christians, no doubt, who tell you that you must have fresh recourse to the blood; but they have no scripture for their thought. On the contrary, it weakens the fundamental truth of the efficacy of Christ's own sacrifice, which it is intended, after a human fashion, to commend and exalt: and that is the effect of forming our own thoughts of the use that is to be made of any truth, instead of simply bowing to the word of God. The moment we take a truth out of His connection for us, it is like rooting up that which has its own due place in the garden of God, where it produces its own proper, abundant, and precious fruit, but which becomes a withered thing when man takes it into his own hands. Repetition as to this would prove imperfectness. This foundation has been laid so completely in the Epistle to the Hebrews that it never requires to be laid again. There is no more the possibility of a fresh sprinkling of Christ's blood, than there is room left for His dying once more to shed His blood. When a soul has found Him and been washed from sin in His blood, there it abides forever. This is what makes the sin of a Christian to be so serious. If you could begin again, what is the effect? Not very different from that which his confession before a priest has upon a Romanist. People soon learn to trifle with sin, and to get hardened by its deceitfulness. Although it is a different thing where Christ is looked to, still the moral effect is much the same, as far as the making light of sin is concerned. If a person can again and again start afresh, as if nothing had happened, and begin over and over again for every fresh downfall, sin is never felt nearly so deeply. But we are bound to bring no stain upon that which is washed in the blood of Christ. Yet we are conscious of constant failure.
Is there, then, no resource? Is there no renewal of access to the cross? It would be a tremendous thing if there were no provision against our failings and falls, no means of dealing with these departures: but there is a resource, and we have it here— “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” You have similar truth set forth in its individual application in John 13. There it was on the ground that the disciples were His own; that He loved them, and that whom He loved He loved unto the end: and then we find that being exposed to defile themselves in the world, the Lord would guard them against two things; first, the anxiety lest He should cease to love them because they were unfaithful; secondly, the danger of their using His faithfulness as a reason for trifling with sin. Christ will never cease to love, nor will He trifle with sin, or allow us to trifle with it. He keeps us always resting on His blood. But, then, supposing one is guilty of sin after receiving this remission, what is to be done? Let us go and spread it out before God. The veil is not set up again because you have acted foolishly outside it. You are entitled to draw near and spread out your failure before God—to come to Him on the very ground that you are washed in the blood of Christ. What is the effect of this? And what is this the effect of? It is because Christ is sanctifying and cleansing, keeping up the washing of water by the word. There may be this corporate aspect of it as well as the individual—both are true. It is true for every soul and for the Church at large. Christ is always acting in the presence of God on behalf of the Church; and the consequence is, the need of reproof and of chastening. A man is brought to feel what he has done. Some word of God, either in his own meditation, or through others, flashes upon his soul. He is convinced of his folly; the will has ceased to act; the word of God is brought home with power by the Holy Spirit; the man bows under it.
This is the washing of water by the word. It is the effect of Christ's priesthood at the right hand of God. The application of the word of God to the soul is the effect of the intercession of Christ to put away failure wherever it has been. The work that He is doing at the right hand of God is this intercessional work. A great deal of that which goes on in the soul is not provision for failure, but to guard us against failure. God does not count upon sin—He does not look for failure in His child. On the contrary, there is a most solemn injunction against sin. “My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not.” He had been telling them, that if any man said he had no sin, he deceives himself, and the truth is not in him. Then the effect of that on the corrupt heart of man would be, that it would be said, Sin is not so much matter after all. “My little children,” he says, “these things write I unto you that ye sin not.” We are never free to sin. We are always inexcusable when we do sin. “But,” it is added, “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” There you have what answers to this very thing. It is not that the position of Christ is the same, but the effect, as far as regards the soul, is similar. Christ is carrying on His blessed action of love, and the effect is that there is that in the word of God which applies itself, by the grace of God, to our fault; so that the sanctifying spoken of here is the practical setting us apart according to our proper calling as God's assembly—the making it good in our souls by the word of God. This is done by the revelation of Christ, and of Christ as He now is in the presence of God. And this is what is referred to in 2 Corinthians 3, where it is said, “We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We find that the Holy Spirit, revealing Christ as He is glorified now before God, separates us from the world which knows nothing of His glory, but is bent upon something connected with present things. God reveals to us Christ's glory, and the effect is that we are weaned from the false glitter of this evil age.
But this being the complete account of what Christ does, there is the cleansing, as well as the sanctifying, the Church. This defilement requires to be removed; and in both cases it is the washing of water by the word which God uses. But there is a third and future fruit of His love— “that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” There we have clearly the complete glory of the Church, when there will be no question of cleansing it any more; when all the love of Christ will have its perfect effect, and when the Church will be glorious according to His own likeness, “That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Thus we have the full, blessed account of the love of Christ. But mark, it is not introduced merely in a doctrinal form, but in a most practical way, for the purpose of illustrating the place of the Christian husband towards his wife. The husband can only act properly towards his wife when the relationship is not merely regarded as a natural one. A Christian must act upon heavenly principles, in order to act well in a natural relationship. You might have a husband attached to his wife, and a wife ever so much attached to him; but if that is merely their ground in married life, it will never have the power, blessing, and honor of God. Though it is all quite right, yet more than that is needed; and the something more that is needed is just this—the reminding of our souls how Christ feels and carries Himself toward the Church. There is always blessing and power in believing the word of God. If not using this, we shall not have the strength of it in the natural relationship of this life; yet we ought to have it. If we have it not, are we not doing without that which would give power, and which God would own and honor?
But he applies it, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” He is now taking up the common instinct that men naturally avoid pain and take care of themselves. He is speaking only of the fact, and says, Look upon your wife as a part of yourself; and that anything that would wrong her is so much wrong done to your own body. It would teach you affectionate care, “for no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church.” A beautiful and sweet addition to the truth that He had already brought out. All the rest had shown redemption, the present practical cleansing the future glorification of the Church. But now he adds, that Christ “nourisheth and cherisheth it.” There is the special entrance of His mind, His careful interest in those that belong to Him. It is a great comfort that we know this about the present state of the Church, when we think of the ruin of all around. Does Christ ever cease to nourish that which belongs to Him? He does not. Spite of all the ruin, He has the same care for His people. We never can pray too much for the Church; but it is another thing to be troubling our minds as if the Lord forgot her, and were not taking adequate care of the saints in their need and sorrow. The Lord has never failed; and what He here tells us to do in our earthly relationship is no more than what He has perfectly done towards His Church. He loves the Church; He nourishes and cherishes it, and He does this because “we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.” Just as Eve was a part of Adam, so the Church is of Christ. The Lord took out of Adam's side that which He built into his wife. So we stand in this nearness of relationship to Christ. The verse is sometimes applied to Christ's becoming man; but it is the converse of this. It does not mean Christ taking our flesh and bone, but our being made members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. It is our relationship to Christ risen from the dead, and not Christ's relationship to us as a man upon the earth. I only refer to it to guard souls. There is no allusion to our Lord's taking flesh and blood, which we know He did: that is taught in Hebrews, but not here. We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. We are really a part of Himself, united to Him as He now is in the presence of God. The case of Adam is then quoted and of Eve. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Thus we have the subject summed up with this practical word. I need not say that everything contrary to the most entire confidence in such a relationship is excluded by this verse. The husband, if acting in the spirit of it, has no secret from the one that is a part of himself: but as to the wife, let her see that she reverence or (literally) fear her husband. It would not be the mere familiarity of love, which is wrong in a heavenly point of view. Whatever the confidence of a wife in her husband, it is surely a becoming thing for a wife to fear him. Nor is this the least incompatible with love. We are told to hold fast grace; and what is the effect? That we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. There is an immense difference between the thoughts, but it may serve to illustrate. Here it is the fear that fears to offend, and seeks earnestly the husband's honor. This holds true in every case. Supposing you take the case of a stupid husband who has a clever wife; if he shows what he is from day to day, so much the more has the wife to guard her own spirit that she should use what she has to keep her husband without seeming to do so. And now comes in the very important thing, that in these circumstances she should honor God and her husband, instead of a word to himself or to others that would wound or show a want of care. It is in such circumstances that the wisdom and spiritual feeling of a godly woman should shine, and shine by not shining: for the blessing of the married pair supposes that the man should appear and not the woman. Where the heart is simply looking to the Lord, there would be this result: and although it might look unseemly that such should be linked together, and it would make their path more difficult, still there is nothing impossible to God. And if the Christian woman sought the mind of God, honoring Him in the circumstances, God would use her in a very blessed and happy way, for the helping of her husband, and for the covering of that which would be mortifying to him. But the principle always abides. As nothing justifies a husband in not loving his wife, so nothing justifies a wife in not reverencing her husband. The Lord grant that we may bear in mind His holy and gracious admonition.

Discipline: 18. Elisha

THE first notice we have of Elisha is 1 Kings 19:16, when the Lord, rebuking Elijah for his despondency and self-importance in thinking that all testimony had failed, and that he himself was God's solitary witness on earth, directs him to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, in his room.
Elijah being set aside because he was despondent and discouraged, we may conclude that the prophet in his stead, will be one gifted with a character and purpose quite the contrary—even bold and enduring. We constantly find in Scripture that the notice of a man's secular employment conveys to us an idea of the man's adaptability for future service, and an intimation of the nature of his course. Elisha is found plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and “he was with the twelfth;” and doubtless a vigorous and a patient husbandman. Elijah passes by and casts his mantle on him, thus intimating, I should suppose, that he was to take the place and calling of the owner of it. Elisha evidently so understood it, but, yielding for a moment to his natural affection, he craves permission to return and kiss his father and mother. The prophet's reply is one fitted to throw him on his own responsibility. “Go back again, for what have I done to thee?” It was for him to judge whether Elijah's action towards him had been a divine call or not. That it was divine, Elisha's spiritual instincts told him; and though his response to it did not rise to the height it might, and which immediate following would have indicated, still his faith, so far as it rose, is followed up by true and suited action. His return to his home is not to remain in it, but to celebrate his surrender of it. “He took a yoke of oxen and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen. and gave unto the people, and they did eat.” He converts the instruments of his occupation into a repast for his neighbors; he disposes of his possessions for the benefit of others; at one and the same moment declaring his readiness to surrender for the Lord, and his benevolence for his people; he, in a measure, sold what he had and gave to the poor, and “then he arose, went after Elijah and ministered to him.” The first answer to God's call in the soul is very indicative of the order and character of that life throughout its course, and we shall find it thus with Elisha. Though he hesitates at first, he eventually determines and follows Elijah, and that not grudgingly or of necessity, but as one who celebrates his deed with a hearty good will. And thus it is that he enters on a course where he is to be a minister and a witness of the most remarkable of God's ways and works.
The word of the Lord had been that he was to be prophet in Elijah's room; i.e., to fill up Elijah's ministry, and the two ministries were not to co-exist at the same time; so that it is quite fitting that we should not hear of him again till Elijah was about to quit the scene, and then he is presented to us in the high character of the companion of Elijah and the witness of his rapture. As the one retires, the other is brought prominently before us, and therefore deeply significant is the education accorded to him on this the last day of the one, and (in respect to his ministry) the first day of the other; for on this day is he installed into office. The sons of the prophets with one accord tell him that this is the last day for his master, and as he walked with Elijah throughout this his last day, he is taught the zeal and duties proper to God's servant, as well as God's glorious way of removing His servant from the scene of his labors. The scene which closed Elijah's service inaugurated Elisha's. If Elisha was naturally strong and qualified for robust work here on earth, he derives from the rapture of Elijah a strength and an idea of God's ways and grace which must remain with him through all his course, because his course dates from it, and his mind is endowed, and his conceptions of God formed there from. His ministry must be characterized by the communications and admonitions of his installation. In all his course Elisha could not forget that the power he had received was in consequence of that union of spirit with Elijah which concentrated his attention on him, as he was carried up into heaven. “If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so,” was Elijah's reply to his request for a double portion of his spirit. “And Elisha saw it,” we read lower down. Here was the spring and source of all his subsequent power. “The spirit of Elijah cloth rest upon Elisha” was the immediate testimony of the sons of the prophets, and according as the Spirit of God acted in him, must be ever afterward have been carried back to this fine beginning, just as Paul was. No doubt the dawn of God's grace on our souls and its effects on us indicate the best traits of it which shall characterize us subsequently, and we all find that the manner in which the gospel is presented to and received by any soul at first, presages the manner and character of its course.
Elijah having disappeared, Elisha's career is begun; and the first opportunity for the test of the grace conferred on him is Jordan, the type of actual death, not of the power of death, but the last barrier between the wilderness and Canaan. A very suited test was this to be encountered by one endowed like Elisha; and the first because he must know at the outset his ability to enter God's inheritance, and that Jordan is the portal to it. Unless we pass Jordan we are not in the land; and unless we pass it, we have not learned how God would sustain us there, and how He will drive out before us all our adversaries. Elijah had crossed Jordan, leaving the land in testimony against its evil, heaven being then open to him as his own personal portion. Elisha re-crosses it, and re-enters the land in grace, and in the power of God's Spirit, which was to bear down every difficulty. Very blessed are the exercises to which he is subjected. Even as the Spirit in double power descended on the Church in consequence and in virtue of her union with her ascended Lord, so is it with Elisha; as his eye traced the glory of God's grace in removing His servant unto Himself, and witnessed the same power on earth in opening the waters of Jordan as a commencement of his course, thereby learning as he enters his appointed service, that through God every barrier would be broken down. Like Stephen, he had seen how God raised man to His own glory, and like him, be proved that he himself was, through the power of God, victor over death. This Jordan expressed.
Elisha's first sphere is Jericho, and the first opposition he has to encounter is that of those who, by their very calling, ought to have co-operated with him. The sons of the prophets, though they had seen and owned the power which slave the waters of Jordan, refuse to believe in the rapture of Elijah, and raise questions prompted by unbelief, until Elisha suffers them to do as they would, merely to expose their own folly; for when people will not heed the warnings of the Spirit, they must be left to learn by their own mistakes. Elisha learns on the other hand that no help or cooperation is to be expected from the sons of the prophets—the ordained ministry of the day—and that he must be prepared to encounter their ignorance and inapprehensiveness of the mind of God; a very necessary discovery for the servant of God in an evil day and in the times of declension, such as Elisha was called to serve in.
His first sphere we have said was Jericho. Having learned the range of God's grace, its bright blessedness in the rapture of Elijah into heaven, and its power on earth in making a way for him through Jordan; he must, like Saul of Tarsus, be a minister of it in the place judicially at the greatest distance from God in the land of Israel—the place of the curse. The men of the place ask him to tarry, but in their invitation they sum up, in a few words, the history of the whole world. “The situation is pleasant, as my lord seeth, but the water is naught and the ground barren.” What a picture! Fair to look upon, but unproductive of anything to meet the necessities of man! Elisha is enabled to respond to their prayer, and meet their need. It is a fine moment, and one of deep edification to his soul, when be is thus allowed to be the instrument of God's grace. A new cruise and salt with the word of the Lord, “I have healed these waters,” effect the desired cure, and the “waters were healed unto this day.” Now this service, which in must have established the heart of Elisha in the very grace which he ministered was brought about by very simple though deeply effective education. He who had learned for himself the grace and power of Jehovah in heaven above and on earth beneath, knows how to act for God in Jericho, in scenes morally most distant from God; and thus was it that our Lord acted so pre-eminently on the earth. But if Elisha be the minister of mercy, he must experience what it is to be rejected, and that in the place most distinguished by the favor of God and the revelation of His goodness. Bethel, the house of God, furnishes youths to mock the ascension of Elijah, crying out as they do to Elisha, “Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.” But the truth of God must be vindicated, and Elisha, though he be the minister of mercy, is the one to invoke judgment on the gainsayer of it. “He turned and cursed them in the name of the Lord, and there came forth two she-bears out of the wood and tare forty and two of them.” Thus in Jericho and at Bethel be learns two very different lessons. In the one, the mercy of God meeting the pressing need of man; and in the other, the recklessness of man (when God had shown most favor) and the consequent and terrible judgment inflicted on them.
Elisha goes from thence to Carmel for retirement, I should suppose, but ere long returns to Samaria, the scene of service. We must remember that be is properly filling up Elijah's mission, which began with prayer (necessity on the earth looking to God) and closed in the rapture. And from this (the manifestation of the power of God in opening heaven for the reception of man) Elisha began; and therefore in studying his history we should expect to learn how the Lord conducts and uses one who thus begins from above and is not of the earth. In Samaria he is introduced into a scene which discloses to him the political and moral state of all Israel. (Chap. 3.) Moab has rebelled, and the king of Judah is found in unholy league with the kings of Israel and Edom; and the destruction of all three is threatened, not from the power of the enemy but the failure of water. What a condition and association for Jehoshaphat, the Lord's anointed, and one who was usually a godly man, to be in! It is he, however, who at this juncture institutes the inquiry; always that of a heart knowing the Lord but wandering. “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord?” And this brings Elisha on the scene. An important moment is it to him: important as to the testimony of God which he bore, and as to the personal instruction with which it was fraught to himself. Standing in the midst of the moral ruin of Israel, of which the scene before him was the witness, he, like the blessed One in later times, on the one hand, denounces its apostasy; and on the other, links himself with the little that remained for God. “What have I to do with thee?” he says to the king of Israel; “were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.”
But though he can both feel the desolation of Israel, and recognize the remnant, he finds that he is not in a moment ready to enter into the mind of God concerning a state of things so discordant to the spiritual mind. He must pause and send for a minstrel. And it came to pass when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.” That is to say, his mind must be diverted and separated from the confusion and despair around him, before it could be duly in tone to be used of the Lord. His ministry was from above, and therefore, whenever there was danger of his falling into the current of things down here, it was necessary that he should be not only diverted from it, but so guided in the midst as to be free to receive and convey God's mind and purpose. Music is used to accomplish this in the soul of Elisha; and the effect produced typifies that calm, unperturbed state of mind in which one must be to receive the mind of God above and beyond all that is passing around. If I would know that which is above, even the counsel and mind of God, I must in myself be calm as to the circumstances around me; otherwise I shall not be able to see and act on it. In prayer we learn it, and know what practical and necessary discipline it effects for us. Elisha had now properly commenced his public ministry amid the apostasy. Hitherto be had been the minister of grace and judgment in a more private way; but now, the widespread moral desolation of Israel is before him, and he learns to be calm in the midst of it, ere he announces the signal interposition of God on behalf of His people. This is education of the utmost importance. A great moment is it to the soul when it can stand still and see the salvation of the Lord; and especially so with Elisha; for we must again remember that he comes in contact with the ruin and destitution of Israel, after having started from the glorious manifestation of God's grace. He had seen first what God is, and now be is learning down here how ruined and necessitous are the people of the same God, because of their apostasy and unbelief. And it is in meeting these varied distresses of God's people, and being exercised in his own soul as to the way God would meet each, that he himself is enlarged in the power and resources of God.
The next scene in which we find Elisha (chap. 4:1) is as appealed to by a certain woman of the wives of the prophets who cries to him, “Thy servant, my husband is dead and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord, and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.” Here what is noticeable is not so much the nature of the distress; but that a widow of one of the Lord's prophets in His own land should be reduced to such straits reveals to us how entirely the nation must have forgotten and neglected the care of God, when such a case could be found there unrelieved. Elisha is here from God to be a witness of this misery, and at first he is quite unprepared for such a case and says, “What shall I do for thee?” The extremity of it doubtless astonished him. Here was he, knowing the greatness and power of God toward His people, yet cognizant of the existence of distress peculiar and unprecedented, and it would seem at first as if it were beyond him. He had never before encountered such a scene of misery, but it is in such scenes that the true servant is taught to trust in God, and so trusting, to know what to do. Now the first thing for the heart that is simply resting in God, is to take into account every provision of God personally possessed; and this is what Elisha does. “Hast thou anything in the house?” is his next question, and when he hears that she has a pot of oil, he directs her to borrow of her neighbors empty vessels, to be indebted to them only for empty vessels; for these were to contain God's abundant supplies; and Elisha is vouchsafed the privilege of knowing that there was enough oil, not only to satisfy the creditor, but that from the largeness of the supply there was a provision for the widow and her sons. So ample and generous are God's mercies when they flow; and this is the most interesting and invigorating knowledge which can be communicated to any servant of God.
And not only was Elisha to witness these things, but he was to experience them himself; not only was he to see things here in striking contrast to that manifestation of glory from which he started, but he must feel the contrast; and if he ministers to God's people in their necessities out of His fullness, he must feel the necessity and suffer himself as without place or association in God's inheritance; in spirit with Him who had not where to lay His head on earth. He, the Lord, on His own earth, was indebted to a few women who “ministered to Him of their substance,” and Elisha is here found in somewhat the same circumstances. (Ver. 8.) A woman, a Shunamite, provides bread and lodging for him, and in this association he is to pass through the history of the hopes and sorrows of God's people. God often leads His servant into a small circle of service, wherein the principles of the circle of His purpose are practically made known to us. It was so with Noah in the ark; so with Abraham on Mount Moriah; so with Paul, with regard to the Church; so with Elisha here. Israel at this time was like the Shunamite, her husband was old, and there was no child for a continuation of their name. The nation was growing old and ready to pass away, and there was no heir to carry it into new life and hopes. Gehazi, who, I suppose, represents Israel after the flesh, sees and tells the prophet this state of things. Elisha promises a son, and a son is born. But before the harvest, before the feast of ingathering, the child dies, the hope of the family is no more, and the mother flies to the prophet in her distress. He is in Carmel, in retirement, and the depth to which Israel is reduced, as typified in this woman, is as yet unrevealed to him by the Lord. (Ver. 27.) But now he was not only to learn it, but the wondrous way and manner of God's deliverance of His people from this, their low estate, was to pass through his soul. This is quite new experience to Elisha, and only step by step is he brought into it.
He must be taught that Gehazi and the prophet's own staff will not do; that no intervention will repair the disaster in a case of death; that nothing but life can meet death, and this Elisha learns in his own person. It is he who is, through the power of God, made to communicate life to the dead child; a simple and distinct type of Him who brought down eternal life from the Father into the world; but a wondrous place for a man to be set in, and a wondrous display of God's grace to him, ignorant and unacquainted as he was with the sorrow that he is now empowered to relieve. In all the exercises which Elisha here passed through, as he walked to and from the house and went up again and stretched himself upon the child and prayed, he is taught, though in a comparatively feeble way, what our Lord passed through so fully; on the one hand, the terribleness of death; and on the other, the blessedness of life.
We next find Elisha at Gilgal; and here he has to meet the dearth of the land; the sons of the prophets sitting before him. The one who has learned the power and grace of God, as the life-giving God, can easily, trusting in Him in the face of all professors, direct the casual distresses which afflict us in passing through this evil scene. He says to his servant, “Set on the great pot and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets;” but what Elisha as the servant of God is preparing, is spoiled by the intermeddling of the unbelieving. The wild gourds, though supposed by the one who gathered them to be an acquisition, only added death to the pottage; and in the same way, morally, do all additions to faith and God's way bring death. Elisha, still trusting in the life-giving God, is equal to the emergency. He casts in meal, and the deadly element is destroyed. A soul that is simply trusting in God, will ever be able to carry out its purpose; for it is of faith, though it may meet with interruptions and hindrances when it least expects them. Faith always increases by exercise, and its sphere or work is enlarged when used; consequently, we next find Elisha feeding the people (an hundred men) with only “twenty loaves and full ears of corn in the husk thereof,” and notwithstanding the objections of the unbelieving servitor, he replies, “Give the people that they may eat, for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat and leave thereof.”
We have come to chapter 5. of 2 Kings, where Elisha is to act as the prophet of God outside the limits of Israel. He has been practically educated in the power of God, and therefore is prepared now to say to Naaman the Syrian, “Let him come now to me and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” And when Naaman obeys the summons, Elisha only sends a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again unto thee, and thou shalt be clean.” Although quite ready to succor the Syrian leper, he is no respecter of persons, and preserves the dignity of sod's servant. He is there to send him forth for his salvation and cure, but he makes no account of him as captain of the host of Syria. And hence, when Naaman is healed, Elisha refuses to take anything from him, in the true independence of the servant of God. He would help the Gentile, but not receive from him. And in principle we learn by the judgment passed on Gehazi that if we grasp at and acquire the goods of the world, we shall inevitably involve ourselves in its leprosy.
We should note, that in the history of Elisha there is less apparent need for discipline than in other servants. He is before us as endowed from above, and when we follow him, we see how aptly and beautifully the grace of God flows from the vessel according to the need it encounters; and though we do not see the discipline through which he learned to yield himself to God, so as fully to display his mind, yet we know that it must have been so; and also that the best evidence of true effective discipline is the meekness and simplicity of heart with which I act according to the mind of God in the various and distinct cases occurring to me. In this light no history is more interesting than Elisha's; the easy and divine way with which he meets every variety of difficulty. It is instructive to us to follow him and see how the servant acts in each varied circumstance, and how the Lord used him to expound that grace which should be so supremely set forth in eternal power by the great man of God—the Son of His love. To be ready as God's vessels for every emergency that arises is the result of all discipline.
Chapter 6. Here we have a circle of wondrous action reaching from a personal to a national calamity; embracing, I may say, in principle, every shade of human sorrow. First, the sons of the prophets feeling the straitness of the place, they propose to Elisha to go unto Jordan, and dwell there. He goes with them; and as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water, and he cried, “Alas! master, for it was borrowed.” Elisha immediately enters into his sorrow and distress, which was not merely the loss, but the man's credit was at stake, because it was borrowed, and the prophet's tender consideration for his distress is very touching; there is in him both tenderness and power to meet anxious human sensibilities. “And the man of God said, Where fell it? and he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither, and the iron did swim; therefore said he, Take it to thee; and he put forth his hand and took it.”
We next find Elisha bringing about the defeat of the king of Syria, by warning the king of Israel of his approach. (Chap. 6:9.) And the king of Syria, being apprised of this, and consequently exasperated against Elisha, sends spies to find out his abode; and, having discovered it to be Dothan, he sends thither horses and chariots, and a great host, and compassed the city: all this warlike array being thought necessary to secure the person of one poor unarmed man. A striking evidence (even as it was in a later day, when a company with swords and staves was sent out to take the blessed One) that the ungodly instinctively feel their own helplessness in the presence of the power of God, even when only acting on their fellow-man. The magnitude of this Syrian host was such, that Elisha's servant is terrified, and says, “Alas! master, what shall we do?” And Elisha, in the power of that faith which had quieted his own soul, replies, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” “If God be for us, who can be against us,” was the experience of his soul; and every anxiety of his own being disposed of, he can intercede for others; he prays that his servant may be assured by that vision of faith which his own eye rested on. “Lord, I pray thee open his eyes that he may see.” It is not enough for me to rest myself by faith on God's succor, or to ask others to do so, but I must seek to establish them in the power of it. Readily the Lord grants his request. The eyes of the young man are opened, and he sees the mountain full of horses and chariots about Elisha. And now he prays again with a different request. When this host had terrified his servant, he had prayed that his eves might be opened in a remarkable way, and was heard. Now he prays that the eyes of his enemies may be closed, and he is heard again. “The Lord smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.” And now, completely in his power, he leads them away from the city into the midst of Samaria; and then, with touching and instructive kindness and mercy, he will allow no revenge to be taken of these captives, but says, “Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” How simple and wonderful for a man to be thus led into the mind and resources of God, meeting every contingency in the mind and strength of God; treating the servant with all the attention and interest that he does the king; attaching as much importance to the loss of the borrowed ax-head, as to a city compassed about by armies; thus proving that the circle of God's power and grace embraces the smallest as well as the greatest contingency!
Verse 24. We next find the king of Israel reduced to great straits, (there is a famine in Samaria,) and, imputing it to Elisha, vows vengeance against him. Now this proves that no amount of mercy conferred can be remembered or appreciated by the human heart if the fear of death be still impending. Elisha had been the witness and minister of God's grace and power in averting from the nation manifold calamities, and instead of there being respect or favor for him from the king for the past, his life is threatened unless he continues to succor them. At this juncture the prophet sat in the house and the elders sat with him, I conclude, waiting on God; and he gets intimation from the Lord of the king's evil intention. When the messenger enters, he says, “Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?” The time was now come to announce the word of the Lord, and he does so. “Thus saith the Lord, To-morrow, about this time, shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.” And so it came to pass.
This, the greatest is the last recorded public service of Elisha to Israel. He had been used of God to show forth His power and grace, from the smallest to the greatest, in the whole circle of human necessity. And now it is over; though with him, a with his great Antitype, it might truly be said, he had “labored in vain, he had spent his strength for naught.” He now sends to anoint Jehu to be king over Israel, (chap. 9.,) and be is to smite the house of Ahab, and avenge the blood of all the servants of the Lord.
The last recorded event of his life is his interview with Hazael at Damascus. (Chap 8:7.) The Lord had spewed him that Ben-hadad, king of Syria, was to die, and Hazael to reign in his stead; and as he looked on Hazael, he wept, knowing all the evil that be would do to the children of Israel. And with this last public act, we lose sight of our prophet on the earth. He had started as the witness of God's supreme power over death, and glory beyond it, and be had pursued his course down here, showing forth how, according to the revealed power of God, would be the manner and fullness of His mercy and succor to man. He now passes from our view, mourning for what he foresaw should befall God's people, though it was but the consequence of their own sin and folly. In the same way did the greater than Elisha wind up the history of His association with, and unrequited service to, Israel. He wept over the city which had refused to know the things that belonged unto her peace, and which was to pass under the judgment of God, because she knew not the time of her visitation. And from thence He passes from that perfect lifework of grace which Elisha had feebly foreshadowed to that work of death, in which Elisha could not follow him.
Yet when Elisha was “fallen sick of the sickness whereof he died;” (2 Kings 13:14;) when no longer able to be a public witness; when Joash the king of Israel came down unto him and wept over his face, applying to him the very words which Elisha had used to Elijah at his rapture, “O my father, my father; the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof,” because the sun of Israel was setting in the person of this great prophet; even then, in this moment, when sinking into death, be is strong and mighty in the power and the grace of God. He tells Joash to take bow and arrow; and when at his direction the king had put his hand on the bow, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands and said, “Open the window eastward and shoot; and he shot and he said, The arrow of the Lord's deliverance.” The Lord's grace towards His people was not yet exhausted. It was not only the arrow of His deliverance from Syria, but the direction to shoot eastward toward the sun-rising told of coming glory. Elisha was passing away from the scene, going westward as it were; but glory and power would come as the bright shining of the sun after rain. And in the confidence of this he directs the king of Israel to take the arrow and smite upon the ground. And the king smote thrice and stayed, and the man of God was wroth with him and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then thou hadst smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it; whereas now thou shalt smite Syria, but thrice.” In his very last moments the dying prophet has to meet with disappointment from the people whom he served, for they were unable to embrace in its full extent, the grace offered to them. The king had no energy to be an instrument of that grace. True energy always shews itself in cheerful abounding obedience, and the heart, sensible of its possession, indicates its consciousness of it. Where there is faith, and according as there is, so is there the manifest expression of it, for the outer acts are always in correspondence with the inward power. How blessed and how in keeping with his life does our prophet pass away! In his death, full of coming glory and deliverance, and only protracted by the feeble faith of those he served.
Elisha dies, but so great is the power of life by which his whole history is characterized, that mere contact with his bones restores to life a corpse which was thrown into his sepulcher. Grace, in the power of God, and resurrection-life, were connected with him; and not only is he here a voice from the dead, but a pledge of that power which will yet restore Israel to life.
The Lord give us to understand and learn of Him how we may be so meek and lowly of heart, doing His will, that He can use us for any expression He chooses of His grace, be it little difficulties or great exigencies, to the praise of His name. Amen.

Titus 1:1-4

IT is at the beginning of this chapter that the Spirit of God marks with an especial character that on which I desire to speak—the eternal thought of God towards us which we find in verses 2, 3. Evil had come in, the Spirit takes notice of it, and the effect in a most remarkable way is to throw them back on the whole mind and thought of God from the beginning. As evil progresses and corruption comes in, the apostle turns back to the origin of all, and coming from the divine nature itself, (and all that could meet the evil, and convey us on, must come from that;) i.e., the eternal life which God who cannot lie promised before the foundation of the world; that which was in the mind of God as to the thing itself before the foundation of the world; that which God had in His mind, the counsel of God for us before the world itself was created. It just shows us what we are, and what man is, with and apart from that eternal life. In Ephesians we find it in connection with Christ. (Chap. 3:3-7.) A mystery hidden through all ages in God until Christ was raised up as Head of the body, the Bride. It is not on this I would dwell. I am not going to speak about the Church, but would turn back to what this life is and would dwell on this thought, and promise of life in the mind of God before the world ever existed. Before that, I say, this life existed in a Person, Christ, the One who was in the beginning with God and was God; that is the Christ with whom my life is hidden with the Father. Being in Himself life, He came into the world as the life and manifested the life. The thing was embodied in the Person of the Lord as man, and there it was, the life of man, not of angels: that which was specially God's divine thought towards man is shown out when Christ becomes man, and this life is communicated to us, the instrument used being the preached word of truth. This divine life had been manifested here in a man—the Lord Jesus. He having given it to us, it is now manifested in our bodies. It has the character of godliness in its manifestation. It tells you what you are. It is in a poor vessel and where there is a wretched will, but it tells you what you are and what the world is—throws out an additional light to show what man is, as a creature totally departed from God. Morally speaking, the world has grown up in departure from God; that is, this world we live in—all that we see around—has sprung up from the creature having got away from God, but the life we have existed before the creation of the world, and this portion of Scripture is very full of the simple, quiet blessedness of what that life is, practically manifested and given in Christ. A great deal of evil had come in. Satan was corrupting the truth by the wild reasoning of man's mind. The apostle specially warns Timothy and Titus, and throws them back, not on common Christian profession, but on the faith of God's elect, the acknowledging the truth which is after godliness. They were to be as those who knew what were the thoughts and mind of God and were cast on Him. If I have got divine teaching, I can say, I know the Shepherd's voice, and if it is not His, I shall know that too. The truth which is after godliness is not only acknowledged, but is marked and stamped as of God by a man living to and for God. Godliness is what a man would do if instigated by God, and what a man would not do if God were close by him, it is clear would certainly not be for God. A man daily taught by the knowledge of God how to be living for God would do everything to manifest the ways of godliness, knowing those ways because of knowing God. I speak not of doing right instead of wrong or of conscientiousness. A believer clearly ought to be righteous with regard to others; but I speak of godliness. You never can be for God without knowing what God is. I cannot walk worthy of God if I do not know Him. I cannot walk with God without that, though I may walk uprightly with man. Here it is walking worthy of God, the loins being girded (affections tucked up).
This applies to all revealed to us in Christ. A believer, as to his motives and life, has Christ's mind revealed to him, to show him how to guide himself through all circumstances. Christ was always Himself, never guided by circumstances. Sorrow could draw out his heart in divine love, but in motives and all circumstances He was always Himself (perfect of course). It is the mind of Christ that believers are to have.
What a wonderful place we have got. Only as we are taught of God can we get hold of this, i.e., the hope of eternal life promised by God before the world began, mark that; for as to the Adam life, it never could be that, but a divine life in those who are saved, a life for heaven; we have got it now, and we shall be there on account of it; there will be its full manifestation, everything there, every word, and all praise will be according to the presence of God; as participators of the divine nature we shall be in fullest blessedness, there where nothing inconsistent with the divine nature can exist, but everything will be in accordance with that life and ourselves as possessors of it in the highest and most blessed perfection. We belong to that place now, whilst our bodies are down here; the life we have got came down from thence, and has its only full sphere of blessing there.
The promise of God before the world began, this life was in the mind of God for us before ever the world existed. I do not speak now of predestination, but of the thing itself in the mind of God. before ever the world existed. If we turn to 1 John, we see how this life came down (1-3): “Our hands have handled, of the word of life.” A real man. The life which was with the Father, was manifested down here in the person of Christ. You will find in many great vagueness of thought in connection with this life. It is Christ Himself. “When He who is our life,” &c. Before He speaks of the communication of life, He speaks of its manifestation. John could see what it was down here, amongst friends and enemies; he says, “We have looked upon, and our hands,” &c. The life which was with the Father, is the life promised before the world began. I get what it is perfectly displayed. I see this life in One who, in due time, fully manifested it as man. The second Adam is the Man in whom its perfection is seen; a Man in this world, in all points tempted like us; a perfect Man, without sin, walking in the world in meekness and holiness, a pattern set before us to follow. 2 Tim. 1:9 shows the way it was given us in Christ. God connects the two things here: saved by Christ before the world began. In this life we see a thing that has its display in heaven. We have got it now, and in a place where it is hindered. It leads my thoughts and feelings to be ever in heaven, where it is as before the world began. Though displayed in all perfection down here by Him who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light, the life was in heaven before it was manifested here. Wonderful truth! For the power of this life Christ has gone through death and abolished it. Death is an abolished thing for saints. It takes us out of all the misery of the first Adam. It was not so with saints in the Old Testament; they could not say, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” It was all death to them. Elijah was taken away for a testimony without passing through death, but Christ passed through it and abolished it, and is gone up to heaven, and life and immortality are thus brought to light. Turn to John 1:1, “In him was life.” You never could say that of a saint. God gave us to have that life in His Son; if in ourselves we might lose it, but if He is my life, I cannot. “He that hath the Son hath life.”
He is the life and light of men, not of angels. This is an unutterably humbling truth for us. If God was exercising life-giving power, it was to be manifested in a man, and therefore the Son of His love becomes man. God displayed it by the incarnation of the Word—the eternal Son. He was given in promise to us before the world existed; and He came into the world personally. The Word, made flesh, dwelt among men in all the circumstances in which we walk. He goes down into the death of the first Adam, and abolishes death, brings life and immortality to light, and goes up to the right hand of God, as the display of this life in a man up there. What a thought! That eternal life in this world—a man, a poor man, a carpenter, one who had not where to lay His head. The life, promised before the world began, now has been made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, and in due time manifested to those who believe through preaching. Christ Himself is the great firstfruits of the life that we, as saved ones, have in Him—He the firstfruits of the great harvest of God. I repeat, this life given in promise before the world was, was manifested by the Christ, who, in the power of it, passed through death; and in heaven it is now manifested in the risen man Christ Jesus, and down here it is manifested in those who believe through preaching.
That is how we get it. It is preached in the world now, and what does the world make of it? That is the solemn thing for your consciences. If we take the world, we get not the second Adam, but the first. Turn back to the garden of Eden, and you get the clue to the present state of the world and how it began. Man created in responsibility to keep his first estate, commanded not to eat the fruit of a certain tree, he eats it, doing his own will, and is cast out of Paradise; and the world begins where Paradise ends; and that is the world we live in, only it is a thousand times worse, because it has rejected Christ. Yes! the world around us sprang up when man was driven from Paradise; a man, in a state of responsibility, departed from God, made the world what it is; and what a world! Solemn as is the responsibility of man in it, for us who have life it is only by the by; true, we have to go through it, but it has nothing to do with the eternal life we have except as being the place where the eternal life has been manifested and brought to us. I would ask, What is man, departed from God, about? Making the world a scene of delights for himself by cultivating the arts and sciences. (You will find amongst the heathens the most beautiful exhibitions of the arts and sciences.) I repeat, man is making a scene for developing and displaying faculties that have nothing to do with God (the best as well as the worst have nothing to do with Him). Well, it is in this world that the eternal life has been and is manifested now. Is it by first mending and reforming man, by setting the world right, that God gives eternal life? Is life to be got by reforming the world, by modifying the evil of the ways and the tastes of man, away from God; by improving man first without God? What is man? A responsible being that has never been lost? A responsible being, I repeat, away from God, and in departure from God, he has built up for himself a world without God. Bring God into all the fine things that man is doing, and what would be the effect? Most of us know it as a matter of fact, that this world, with all its pleasures, and things delightful to the flesh, does not let God in, nor Christ, who is the eternal life; and I get it as a thing that comes in between. Eternal life has come down here, and I have it in a world that has all its life from the first man; in a world entirely departed and alienated from God; a world that had its origin in man having been turned out of Paradise; a world that when Christ, in divine beauty and grace, was in it, spat in His face and turned Him out. That is the world I am in now. But where does my heart go out of it to? To that blessed life I have in Christ. I may have got it but yesterday, but the thing I have received was up there for me before the foundation of the world. I have got Christ as my life— “the life I live is by faith of the Son of God;” and it was in God's mind to give me this life before the world was. “Whoso hath the Son hath life.” A life not of man at all, and having got it I am to show what is the effect of it, and from whence I got it. What is the life I got from the first Adam? All sin; if put under law, not subject to it; a life with lusts and a will of its own. I judge it altogether. When Christ was here, the tree, being bad, had judgment pronounced against it. The flesh is a judged thing: I find only sin and condemnation in connection with it, but I get God dealing with this sin in the flesh— “What the law could not do,” &c. Mark, not sins, but sin, Oh! I say, sin is in the flesh, I have got it, and I hate it. It is lusting in me, making me dislike what Christ likes whilst my heart is set on Christ. But I find God has dealt in judgment with it, and put it away on the cross. He condemned it where it was put away, and that is where I find I am. I have sin, but I am not to be judged for it—Christ was made sin for me, &c. He, in grace, has taken it. My soul in the power of this truth gets perfect peace. I have no more conscience of sin: all has merged into the deliverance Christ has given. I have perfect liberty; sin has not dominion. I judge this flesh of mine and all its lusts, and will, entirely, because it is a judged thing—I am crucified with Christ. I stand in a new condition. I have eternal life in me, Christ is my life.
I have liberty and joy, by His going through death. I have died and am risen with Him. That is where I am brought. I have not only a life of him that departed from God, but the life of Him who came into the place where I was away from God, to bring me back to God. I belong to Him—I am risen with Him, where the eternal life is to be displayed. In spirit I am up there now, whilst in the body waiting for Him to come. I am in a world that is merely by the by to me, only a thing I have to pass through—not of it, even as Christ was not. He passed through it, and left us an example, that we should follow, walking in His footsteps. I am to reckon myself dead. “As we have borne the image of the earthly, even so,” &c. A believer does not belong to the first Adam, but to the Second. The life of Christ is his and that is all he owns as his life—that life so blessed, so divine, that the world would not have it, and shrunk from it because it was so perfect, and God took it up and put it on His throne as the only place fitted for it. Christ down here displayed everything that characterizes this life. I should like to mark one or two traits of it: one is that quiet confidence with God that springs from, and is the fruit of, divine love, that which can trust God and is capable of enjoying blessed communion with God, enabling one through all things and circumstances here to walk on confiding in God. One could not have had that confidence if Christ had not died to put away sin and brought me into relationship with God. Having a purged conscience, I can delight in God, and as regards my walk through this world, Christ is my life, my all. I am consciously dependent on Him. As we pass on through the world we have to overcome. How? This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Life has this especial character. It avoids evil and walks in grace through the world. If I have the life of Christ, I am to walk down here as He walked, in practical life, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord,” &c., with the consciousness that it came from God, promised before the world was. We shall most surely find defectiveness in this from not having the spirit free. We have to watch that things of this world do not narrow up this thing that is to be made manifest. Do we not continually find that we get under the power of circumstances, by which the heart is often narrowed. How often we have to say, I did not think of that at the right moment; but if always bearing about the dying of the Lord, it would be always easy to manifest His life. If the heart is full of Christ, it will be always ready for Christ. The tendency of saints is to have the heart narrowed up—never ready for God and their neighbor. It would not be so if we could only get the heart exercised under a deep consciousness of what the life we have got is, and what the world is, what a poor little wretched thing it is. Having hearts exercised to discern good and evil whilst down here, we should pass through this world as pilgrims and strangers, having cleansed consciences able to judge the flesh as being only the old thing. Life being given, the world (grown up from man rejecting God) is the place where this life is to be exercised, and we get various exercises. See what Paul passed through, “We who live always delivered unto death.” &c. He gloried in tribulation and in infirmities, if only the life might be manifested. I desire that your hearts should get hold of what this eternal life is, so to live in the power of it, that you should see how it came into the world, revealed in Christ.
Seeing all its blessedness and beauty in Christ, the heart clings round it. In Him was the light and life of men. What a thing—in the place where Satan rules to have God's own life given to us in His Son, and that we live in Christ only, but ever remember that this life has no affinity with the world. We have to manifest the light of life in the midst of the world that will not have Christ; and, alas! how constantly everything tends to make us live by sight instead of by faith, but whatever we fail in we shall certainly find that God has given us everything in Christ.
Oh, may He give us to know more and more what that eternal life is which was promised in Him before the foundation of the world.

Scripture Query and Answer: The Firm Foundation of God

Q. A correspondent questions both the translation and the meaning of “the firm foundation of God;” as given in the new version published by G. Morrish. He would render it substantially as the Authorized: “yet still the foundation of God stands firm,” and argues that it can be nothing else than the resurrection of Christ, because of the contextual reference in verses 8 and seq.
A. But, in the first place, the proposed rendering, like that of the English Bible which it repeats in its faultiness, offends against ordinary grammar. The position of the article proves that στερεός,” firm,” cannot be a predicate, but is an epithet forming an integral part of the definition.
The only possible meaning, therefore, is, “the firm foundation of God stands.” Secondly, the notion that the fundamental doctrine of the resurrection is meant, was that of Cocceius, as well as of some since his day. Theodoret held a similar but wider view, considering the foundation to be the basis of the truth, of which the hope of resurrection is the seal. But I see no reason for giving it a special application, believing, with the translator referred to, that tile figure is used abstractedly.

A Few Thoughts on Joshua 4

IN this chapter we find two remarkable facts: the setting up of twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, and twelve stones taken out and set up at Gilgal on the Canaan side. All this has its voice for us. As God would have the children of Israel forever remember this fresh introduction of His power on their behalf, putting the memorial of it before their eyes, in a manner suited to the dispensation; so He would have us continually to bear in mind the infinitely more marvelous and blessed way in which He has wrought for us in Christ.
It is well to consider the twofold bearing of this type of Jordan. In Col. 2; 3, we have that which clearly. corresponds to these two things. The end of chapter 2 reminds the Colossians that they were “dead with Christ.” Verses 12, 13 show the two things. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God who hath raised him from the dead;” and then he repeats it in another form to show what their state was when this mighty change was wrought in them. “And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with Him,” &c. Then in verse 20 he takes up one of these truths— “dead with Christ.” This answers to the center of Jordan, that place where the waters of death were ordinarily rolling, and completely blotting out from view all that was beneath them. “If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world,” &c. Then, in the beginning of chapter iii., we have, “If ye be risen with Christ.” This answers to the stones taken up out of the water and placed on the other side. “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Then in verse 3 we have both truths again: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God;” and put before us as we now are. “Ye are dead.” We have the stones set up in Jordan. And “your life is hid with Christ in God” —that which is represented by the stones taken out and put on the other side. We have our Lord risen from the dead and seated in heavenly places, and we are in Him there. Then “seek those things which are above.”
And mark the association it was not a single stone that was put in memorial, but twelve, both in the river and on the farther side. If the death of Christ alone had been shown, one stone might have expressed it; but our very life, Christ, is in the presence of God. “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” And in this truth we have what ought to be just as much as ever before our souls as the stones were before Israel, though we must own that we are little conversant with it. We looked at the death of Christ for comfort, when our souls were troubled because of sin, and we got the assurance of forgiveness. Have we rested there? Is not this the history of many a soul? But it is plain that it falls far short of what we have here, and that the knowledge of the passage through Jordan is a marvelous step in the ways of God's grace. Therefore we may ask, Have we realized our complete deadness to everything here, as before God? Are we dead to the law, to sin, to the world? Have we seen, as it were, the twelve stones taken out of Jordan, in God's own land?
When this is entered into in spirit, it is no question of the trials of the wilderness alone for the heart. The believer is no longer occupied only with the comfort of such a word as this— “There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man,” &c.; but he gets the victory over present circumstances, in the power of what he possesses beyond. It is worthy of remark that to the Corinthians, who were addressed as “babes,” having become such as had need of milk, so many allusions were made as to Israel in the wilderness. (1 Cor. 10, &c.) Flesh always falls in the wilderness. It must be judged there. Every person must be put to the proof in the trials of the way. The Lord knows how to do this. But the Jordan forever closes to faith the question of the circumstances of the wilderness. And what we find here is the constant memorial of it, the abiding token that death and resurrection were needed in order to bring them into the land. And thus are we put in spirit into heaven, where the conflict with Satan is carried on. This is a deeper tiling than meeting the trials of the spirit in outward things. Through those we learn profitable lessons, but it is not proper conflict. When by faith we have laid hold of our oneness with Christ, immediately mortification of flesh is the question, and we are in the presence of God to enjoy what He has given us; and there we learn the spring of those things which hinder our communion with God, and which Satan is always on the watch to use for hindering our enjoyment of the full blessing.
Along with this, there is the disciplinary process, which God uses to bring us into a better knowledge of Himself. He desires, too, that we should know what it is to be offering and eating of the fruits of the land. The manna was suited to the wilderness; but when the experience of the wilderness was past, they ate of the old corn of the land—resurrection-food.
The great point I would desire to leave on our souls is this—the amazing pains our God has taken that our souls should have unqualified rest and joy in being one with Christ. We are in Him dead to everything that the flesh values and covets in this world. A Christian is dead not only to the evil of the world, but to its very best—to all that man likes most and that tends to exalt him and give him a place in the earth. The death and resurrection of Christ have given us to know that the flesh is good for nothing; that everything to which man can be formed by moral or religious education only proves that the flesh is thoroughly useless God ward, nay, hateful and already condemned. Man says, “Touch not, taste not, handle not;” but God shows that for us He has done forever with this principle. All the system of restraint was connected with the old man, which faith now has to treat as dead. My case was so utterly desperate that I needed a new creation. This He has wrought for me in Christ: I am now identified no longer with the old thing, but with His condition, and this is intended to govern my ways. What can be of greater consequence for us practically to bear in mind? It is a truth that touches everything in the walk of a Christian here below as he waits for Christ. Any union with the world in its schemes, objects, and ways is unhallowed union with it—is as unnatural as the marriage of a corpse to a living man. We are not only dead with Christ, we are alive with Him. Do we sufficiently bear in mind that God has, in Him, raised us from the dead? I speak not, of course, as to our bodies yet, but as to our new life. So truly am I one with Christ, that whatever is an object of interest to Him should be an object of interest to me. It is easy enough to take up even souls, preaching, anything, in short, in connection with self instead of with Christ. We have to guard against this continually. Self is apt to be a defiling snare. But let us bear in mind, in order to an unsparing, habitual self-judgment, that we are risen with Christ, and that, as such, our hearts should go out in everything that is precious to God.

Fragment: Nothing Good in Self

It is true that there are many amiable traits in human nature, but not when God is in question. Christ drew out all the wickedness of man. Peter learned that there was nothing good in himself when he had done his best, and no failure in Christ's love when he had done his worst.

Fragment: Ability to Serve in the Church

After all, the more one gets on in the world, the less the ability to serve in the church. If the wheel is caught in a rut, the man who has on his working clothes is ready enough to put his shoulder to it, but the gentleman, with his nice clothing on, cannot stoop to that.

Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 114-118

(Psa. 114-118)
Psa. 113 The same thing as to power is seen in this very beautiful little psalm. He brought water out of the flint rock. His presence makes the earth that has forgotten Him to tremble; but for His people in the desert, His power and grace bring refreshment and life out of what seems to man hopeless and most opposed. Dependence and confidence in Him—such is the peaceful path of faith.
Psa. 115 The first principle here brought under our eye is setting the Lord's glory first, a simple but mighty one— “not to us but to thy name.” So we find perfectly in Christ. But this is followed, for all that, by the connection of that glory with God's people. The first principle gives purity of motive—this the courage and hope of faith. And note what is specially blessed—the name, (i.e., the revelation of God's character) is specially suited to the blessings of His people. He had spoken in promise, but they have failed on their side to take up the promise in the path of righteousness. Yet God has promised, and here His name of government in grace comes in. “Give the glory to thy name for thy mercy,” that is part of His name; “and for thy truth's sake,” that is another. And here the glory comes out—if He were not the former, the latter could not be righteous judgment, would have not cut off the guilty; but there would have been no fulfillment of promise. But mercy rejoices over judgment. What God is in His nature, love interprets itself in His ways towards the failing, in mercy, leading them, no doubt, into the place of repentance that they may suitably enjoy; suitably to any moral relationship with God, but then accomplishing His promise in truth. But the divine glory goes first. This is counted on. God had made Himself to display His ways, the God of His people. “Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?” Such was the ancient plea of Moses and Joshua. This is, further, in contrast with the idols of the heathen. When God's glory is first sought by faith, it not only turns to the blessing of the people according to that glory, but it opens out into the consciousness and apprehension of that glory in itself in the hearts of the people. This is a great blessing. They joy, no doubt, in the salvation, but they joy in God. For the full display of this, He must come in in judgment; not for our blessing, for He has given us heavenly things, where His own dwelling is, in what He is in Himself, not merely as what He is in His ways. For we may remark how earth is here the sphere, and this present life the energy in which God is known and owned. “The dead praise not the Lord;” “the earth hath He given to the children of men.” We rejoice in being dead and having our place in resurrection with Christ in heavenly places. We cannot keep this too strongly in mind, though there be instruction as to God's ways on earth, in these psalms.
In these last especially, the earthly government is in view, because judgment at the end is just coming in. It is a blessing to have heaven instead, and our God, such as He is, our Father.
In Psa. 116 the suppliant has been heard; the government of God consequently enters but little into its composition. The soul has been brought down under the pressure of death, but delivered. It is the history of the remnant at the end, into which the blessed Lord so wonderfully entered, but which is not a prophecy of Him, and applicable to any so suffering, as is seen by the apostle's citation of verse 10. The deliverance is for this world. The thought of the psalm is—grace and faithfulness in Jehovah in delivering. The character of the saint is simplicity: a spirit difficult to some, but precious. It is formed by a simple-hearted reference to the thoughts of God and living in them, and then trusting Him who always makes His own thoughts good, and remembers those who thus trust in Him. The opposite to this is—the activity of man's thoughts, his will and counsels mixing themselves with them. These perish, he is disappointed. The humble spirit does not think so much—it receives God's thoughts. They have a moral character. He abides in them, is obedient, and waits on God. (Compare Eleazar, Gen. 24) The deliverance of God comes as favor and an answer to the soul, and is full of sweetness. His faithfulness to this state and expectation is felt. Hence, on receiving the blessing, thankfulness, (not merely enjoying the blessing) is the fruit; and, “I love the Lord:” hence sweet associations of soul are connected with it. It is felt that the Lord has dealt bountifully. The soul returns to its rest, faith had been at work before. The soul believed and spoke as trusting God, but was sore troubled—now finds the God it thus trusted its source of joy and blessing, not, mark, the blessing it gets. The soul was turned to Him, not to comfort, in the trouble. It is turned to Him now in the time of joy. The Lord Himself is before the soul, its source of blessing. Note another thing in this psalm, the feeling of the failure of all men. It is not exactly “in my haste,” but in my anxious pressure of alarm, such as would make man flee in haste. This gave the consciousness that man could not be relied on. It was not simple faith or sound judgment this, but there are moments when God makes us feel that we cannot rely on man, but only on Him. Often we have comfort from men. “God who comforteth them who are cast down, comforted me by the coming of Titus.” But we must not rely on man. Hence there are moments when we have to say, “all men are liars,” and we are cast on the Lord. How truly the Lord was so, I need not say; yet in grace He could say to His disciples, Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. But there was an hour when He must say, “one of you shall betray me,” and feel it; and, “all ye shall be offended because of me this night, and shall leave me alone.” That showed His perfection. It teaches us to lean on the Lord only, not diminishing cordial confidence and openness of heart, but teaching to rely on God. Unhindered joy will come afterward. But in all trouble the Lord thinks of us.
Psa. 117 The consciousness of grace and favor enlarges the heart. Israel never thought of calling the nations to praise when under the law. But now that mercy has brought blessing, they do. It is the sentiment of what God is to us, the thankful enjoyment of it as of God, which opens the mouth and heart by the knowledge of Him. It calls others to enjoy His goodness, too. It is an assimilation to the divine nature and privilege in the knowledge of love; only, as it should be, we learn love by knowing its exercise towards ourselves.
In Psa. 118 we are still on the ground of final blessing, so that the government of God in the midst of trial is only referred to in the past. It is Israel's recognition of the divine ways and of Christ Himself when blessing is come, owning that Jehovah's mercy has lasted out all their ways and endured forever. I notice only the aspect of circumstances as applicable to us at all times. God is for His people; but men, all men, may be against them. One has only to trust the Lord, and victory remains with faith. But in this, where evil has to be governmentally corrected, Satan seeks, Satan has his part. How truly it was so in leading all men against Christ; how fully so in the last days of Antichrist's power, I need not say; but as the book of Job shows, it is so in the various chastenings of God. Evil on the conscience, or even unconsciously in the heart, gives him a handle, sometimes a terrible one, against the soul even where it is upright. Rest is found only in self-judgment and confession of what gives him a handle. Satan would seek to make us fall thus; but behind all this the hand of God is to be seen, as in Job's case. “Thou hast chastened me sore, but thou hast not given me over unto death.” It is for blessing. One only could declare, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me;” but with us, all is love and blessing, to make us know ourselves, and then enjoy His blessing, (compare Deut. 8,) and fully own what Christ is according to His victory and glory in the counsels of God. We must be thus exercised, the ground plowed and harrowed, but the result is— “this is the day which the Lord hath made.” No doubt this is the final blessing of the earth when Christ comes, but in every exercise of a soul brought to the point of uprightness with God, the principle is made good; the gates of righteousness into the joy of communion, so to speak, are opened. And the mercy to which we had no title we own to be the Lord's doing, and all is light. The direct application to the remnant is evidently the just application of the psalm, but we connect this great display of God's government with the details in which it applies to us.

Notes on Isaiah 11-12

In contrast with the destruction of the high and haughty Assyrian under the stroke of Jehovah, we have in the eleventh chapter a remarkable and full description of the Messiah; first, in a moral point of view; and, next, in His kingdom, its character and accompaniments, closed with a suited song of praise (chap. 12.) in the lips of Israel, now indeed and forever blessed of the Lord, their Holy One in their midst.
To look and contend for a fulfillment of this prophecy in Hezekiah or Josiah would be idle, and only shows the straits to which the rationalistic enemies of revelation are reduced. No king, let him be ever so pious or glorious, that followed Ahaz, no, nor David nor Solomon in the past, even approached the terms of the prediction, either personally or in the circumstances of their reign. Did the “Spirit of the Lord” rest upon the better of the two when he said, “I shall now perish by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines?” Was it “the spirit of wisdom and understanding,” when he feigned himself mad, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard? Was it “the spirit of counsel and might,” when David amused his credulous host of Gath with his fictitious razzias against the south of Judah, when in truth he was invading the Geshurites, Amalekites, &c., without leaving a human being to tell the tale? Was it the “spirit of knowledge” that dealt with Absalom? Was the numbering of Israel done in “the fear of the Lord?” Was the matter of Uriah a proof that “righteousness” was “the girdle of his loins,” or “faithfulness” “of his reins?” When was the earth smitten with the rod of any king's mouth, or whose lips had breathed to the destruction of the wicked? And who has seen that wondrous change, depicted in verses 6-9, passing over the fierce beasts and the most timid, and man's lordship owned at length by all, subject and harmonious, even in the person of a babe? Equally impossible, at the least, is it to say, that the latter part of the chapter was met by anything resembling its predictions in any era of Israel. The idea of Zerubbabel fulfilling it is preposterous.
Is it contended, on the other hand, that this glowing picture of the great King and His kingdom is realized spiritually in the Church and in the blessings of the gospel? Without descending so low as the gross pretensions of papal ambition. the spiritual or rather mystical interpretation which suits worldly. minded Christendom, finds its expression in Theodoret or earlier still. This writer sees the apostolic doctrine change earth into heaven, and the picture in verses 6-8 accomplished in kings, prefects, generals, soldiers, artisans, servants, and beggars partaking together of the same holy talk and bearing the same discourses! Paul with the philosophers at Athens illustrates, according to him, the weaned child putting his hand on the cockatrice' den; as the promise to Peter (Matt. 16:18) answers to the predicted absence of any destructive thing! The Lord's holy mountain he explains as the loftiness, strength, and immutability of His divine teaching. Theodoret justly explodes the folly of applying such a prophecy to Zerubbabel, who was only governor of a few Jews, and in no way whatever of Gentiles; but he offers an alternative, hardly preferable, in the Acts of the Apostles, specially of Paul.
This kind of interpretation is not only false in fact, but injurious and corrupting in principle. It confounds the Church with Israel; it lowers the character of our blessing in Christ from heaven to earth; it weakens the word of God by introducing a haziness needful to the existence of such applications; it undermines the mercy and the faithfulness of God because it supposes that the richest and most unconditional of His promises to Israel are, notwithstanding, taken from them and turned into a wholly different channel. If God could so speak and act towards Israel, where is the guarantee for the Christian or the Church? The apostle can and does quote from the prophets, and this very chapter of our prophet, to vindicate the blessing of the Gentiles and their glorifying God for His mercy; but the self-same apostle maintains that there is now the revelation of a mystery which was hid from ages and generations, the mystery of Christ and the Church, wherein there is neither Jew nor Gentile.
In this prophecy, however, as in the Old Testament generally, we see the distinctive blessing of Israel, though there is hope for the Gentiles, as well as judgment on the enemies. All this supposes a state of things essentially differing from God's ways with His Church, during which Israel ceases to be the depositary of His testimony and promise. For as the natural Jewish branches were broken off from the olive-tree and the Gentile wild olive was grafted in, so because of non-continuance in God's goodness, the Gentile will be broken off and the natural branches grafted in again; “And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Meanwhile, blindness in part is happened unto Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. Then they will hail their rejected Messiah, and the universal blessing of the earth will follow His destruction of their foes as the initiatory act of His kingdom. Of this (not of the gospel, as regards which the Jews are enemies on our account) our chapters speak; and thus viewed, all flows harmoniously onward, both as a whole and in the smallest detail.
I cannot but think with others that the allusion to the stem of Jesse is significant. Elsewhere Messiah is viewed as David's son, or styled David himself; here He is a scion from the trunk of Jesse and a branch or shoot from his roots, for the purpose, it would seem, of drawing attention to the lowly condition into which the royal race should have sunk at the birth of the Christ. It was from that family, when of no account in Israel, that David was anointed for the throne. The prophet designates the rise of a greater than David, not from the glory that had been conferred on the house, but in a way readily suggestive of obscurity. From this stock, lowly of old, lowly once more, sprang the hope of Israel on whom the Spirit rested without measure; or, as Peter preached, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the. Holy Ghost and with power. Here, however, it is not in the activity of grace among the sorrows of men and the oppressions of the devil, but in view of His government. Thoroughly subject to Jehovah, He rules, not according to appearance but righteously, in His fear. Such is the effect of the power that rested on Him. It “shall make him of quick understanding, [or scent,] in the fear of the Lord; he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.” The Holy Spirit portrays the Messiah's moral fitness for His earthly reign. I say, His earthly reign, for so it evidently is throughout, to every reader who is free from prejudice or prepossession. And this is confirmed by the latter part of verse 4: “and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” We need no human comment here, because we have already divine light in 2 Thess. 2:8. The inspired apostle applies it to the Lord's future destruction of the lawless one, the man of sin, the issue of the apostasy of Christendom, the same personage, doubtless, that the beloved disciple describes in 1 John 2:22: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” This latter testimony helps to link all together. 2 Thess. 2 views him specially as the result yet to be manifested of that mystery of lawlessness which was even then working unseen. Isaiah shows not only the great outside enemy, the Assyrian, judged in chapter 10., but, in chapter 11:4, the internal enemy, “that wicked,” whom the apostate will accept as their Messiah, destroyed by the true Messiah appearing in glory. 1 John describes him, first, as the denier of the Messianic glory of Jesus; and next, in his full character of antichrist (as well as liar) in denying the Father and the Son (that is, the glory of Christ as revealed in Christianity).
Being thus shown the setting aside of the Antichrist at the end of this age, we have next a display of the reign of the true Christ and its beneficent effects. “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the bole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” It is the world or habitable earth to come whereof we speak (Heb. 2)—not heaven but earth, and especially the land of Israel under Him whose right it is. What ground is there to doubt its plain, literal accomplishment? I have never heard of any serious objection, save for Sadducean minds, which know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should, in honor of the reign of Jesus, change not the face only, but the habits and bent of all animated nature, delivering the creature from the bondage of corruption under which it now groans? The Psalms celebrate this great day with songs of joy; the prophets are not silent about it; the Apostle Paul repeatedly treats it as a settled Christian expectation, only awaiting the revelation of Christ and the sons of God along with Him. There is a grievous gap in every scheme and every heart which does not look for the world's jubilee: without it, the earth would only seem made to be spoiled of Satan; whereas, to one taught as to this of God, if there were a single creature not put manifestly under the feet of the exalted Son of man, the enemy would be allowed so far to defraud Him of His just reward and supreme rights. In that day we shall see (for now we see not yet) all things put under Him: divine judgment on the quick, executed by Christ, brings it in, as we have gathered from verse 4 compared with 2 Thess. 2.
But this is not all: Israel must be received back in order that the world may thus know life from the dead. “In that day there shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an ensign of the people(s); to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” Those do the enemy's work who contend that these scriptures are fulfilled, or even in course of fulfillment. Save the general principle (which is, no doubt, conspicuous in the gospel)—that Gentiles seek, and hope for, and find eternal blessedness in Christ—it is a scene wholly future. The person of the Messiah has been revealed and we know how truly He was the vessel of the Spirit on earth, and how His humiliation displayed every grace that became man towards God, or God towards man, in Christ Jesus, who was, withal, God over all, blessed for evermore. But He is not yet seated on His own throne nor exercising His kingdom here below; and the remnant of His people are not yet recovered from north, south, east, and west. Are we, therefore, to suppose that His arm is shortened? or that He has abandoned His cherished purpose, and that His gifts and calling are subject to repentance?
Such is not our God. Is He ours only and not also of the Jews? Yes, theirs also; “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.” The moral history of Israel shall be reversed, as decidedly as natural history must be taught anew for the lower creation. Their old jealousies and mutual enmities, too well known after Solomon, fade away for restored Israel. And as for their plotting neighbors, they may re-appear, but it is to be put down forever. “They shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines towards the west; they shall spoil them of the east together; they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.” From the Assyrian, the towering king of the north, Edom and Moab and the chief of the children of Ammon contrived to escape; (Dan. 11;) but not so from the hands of Israel, “out of weakness made strong.” The Lord shall be seen over the sons of Zion, and His arrow shall go forth as the lightning; and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.
Then, in verses 15, 16, we have the Lord's supernatural dealing with external nature on behalf of His people, when He utterly destroys the tongue of the Egyptian sea and smites the river into seven streams, so that men may pass dry shod, and there is an highway for the remnant from Assyria, as of old from Egypt. In all this latter portion the mystical reading is at utter fault; and greater wonders than in the destruction of Pharaoh's hosts await the final deliverance of Israel from Egypt and from Assyria in the face of a gainsaying and incredulous age.
The song, chapter 12., concludes this section of our prophet, and is divided into two parts: the first of which (ver. 1-3) is Israel's praise for what God has been and is to itself; the second (ver. 4-6) is the spread of His praise in all the earth, though Zion is still the center where God dwells.

Remarks on Mark 5

WE have still an unfolding of the service of Jesus. In this chapter, it is not simply the ministration of the word with its various hindrances and measures of success as far as God is pleased to work both in quickening power and fruitfulness, and this to the end. Neither is it a picture of the tempest-tossed condition of the disciples, Jesus with them, meanwhile, in their dangers, but apparently heedless till appealed to, yet all through the security of His people.
Now we have another thing, the ministry of Jesus in presence of Satan's power and the utter confessed weakness and misery of nature. An instructive lesson indeed; for not only do we see the all-conquering might of Him who was crucified in weakness, but the extent of the deliverance shown forth in him who was both set free from the thralldom of Satan and who afterward became the active witness to others of the Lord's greatness and power to others. It is not merely sin here, or the lusts of the flesh and the world. We know how continually God does save from human violence and corruption and their consequences. In Legion, however, we have rather the direct agency of Satan paramount if not there. As to this, men ordinarily are incredulous; or if they admit it ever thus acted, they would limit it to the time of Christ on earth. That there may have been a greater rising up of the enemy's power in opposition to the Son of God when here below, is a very different statement, and I believe it; but it is a most erroneous conclusion that his power was then so shattered as a matter of fact that cases of dem