Bible Treasury: Volume 8

Table of Contents

1. Letter on 1 Corinthians 9:27
2. Advertisement
3. Advertisement
4. Advertisement
5. Advertisement
6. Advertisement
7. Faith's Place in a Time of Apostasy: Part 1
8. Faith's Place in a Time of Apostasy: Part 2
9. Babylon
10. Balaam Asking Counsel
11. Barzillai: His Service and Reward
12. Bearing of the Failure of the Church on the Institution of Elders
13. Centralization
14. Christ on the Throne of God
15. Christ the End of the Law
16. Christ the Link Between the Old Testament and the New
17. How Men Oppose Christianity and Why
18. Christianity Objective, Not Subjective Only
19. Church Establishment and Church Endowment: Part 1
20. Church Establishment and Church Endowment: Part 2
21. Church Membership and Gifts
22. Church Ministry or the Epistle of Christ
23. The Coming of the Lord
24. Communion and Worship
25. Correspondence
26. Correspondence
27. Correspondence
28. Correspondence: Children Following the Lord
29. Correspondence: The Bearing of Romans 5:12-21
30. David and His Friends
31. Death
32. Defilement for the Dead
33. The Dying and the Life of Jesus
34. Errata
35. Evil Only Judged Fully in the Light
36. Faith Overcomes All Accusing Recollections, Hope Overcomes All Present Attractions
37. Family Character and Family Religion: Family Character?1
38. Family Character and Family Religion: Family Religion?2
39. Fellowship in Days of Ruin
40. Fragment: Antichrist
41. Fragment: Conscience
42. Fragment: Conscience Hardened
43. Fragment: Eliezer and Laban
44. Fragment: Faith Shown in Love for God's Work
45. Fragment: Hebrews 3
46. Fragment: Isaiah
47. Fragment: Learning His Love in Sorrow
48. Fragment: Matthew 26:46
49. Fragment: Prophecy
50. Fragment: Provision in the Wilderness
51. Fragment: Revelation 3:8
52. Fragment: Romans and Ephesians Compared
53. Fragment: Self-Exaltation Drawing Man to Antichrist
54. Fragment: Separation of That Which Is of God
55. Fragment: Sufferings of Christ
56. Fragment: The Lord Condescending in Grace
57. Fragment: Trusting God to Foil Satan
58. Fragment: What Christ Is
59. Fragments Gathered Up: Ananias and Jonah
60. Fragments Gathered Up: Blessing
61. Fragments Gathered Up: Brazen Altar
62. Fragments Gathered Up: Changing Scripture to Suit Self
63. Fragments Gathered Up: Christ Revealed in the Fullness of His Person
64. Fragments Gathered Up: Communication From God
65. Fragments Gathered Up: Communication From God
66. Fragments Gathered Up: Esther
67. Fragments Gathered Up: Experimental Power of Romans 5-8
68. Fragments Gathered Up: Faith
69. Fragments Gathered Up: Faith of the Shunammite
70. Fragments Gathered Up: Five Books of Psalms
71. Fragments Gathered Up: God's Enemies
72. Fragments Gathered Up: Government of the World
73. Fragments Gathered Up: Humbling
74. Fragments Gathered Up: Introduction of the Millennium
75. Fragments Gathered Up: Job
76. Fragments Gathered Up: Judgment-Seat
77. Fragments Gathered Up: Law Taken in Positive Action
78. Fragments Gathered Up: Love for God's Work
79. Fragments Gathered Up: Made Perfect in One
80. Fragments Gathered Up: Mediationship of Blessing
81. Fragments Gathered Up: Millennium
82. Fragments Gathered Up: New Jerusalem
83. Fragments Gathered Up: No Vail in Hebrews
84. Fragments Gathered Up: Old Bottles
85. Fragments Gathered Up: Perfectly in and Perfectly Out
86. Fragments Gathered Up: Pilgrims and Strangers
87. Fragments Gathered Up: Redeemed and Called Out
88. Fragments Gathered Up: Righteous Government to Come
89. Fragments Gathered Up: Righteousness Established in a Heavenly Way
90. Fragments Gathered Up: Romans
91. Fragments Gathered Up: Romans and Ephesians Compared
92. Fragments Gathered Up: Standards
93. Fragments Gathered Up: The Affliction of Christ
94. Fragments Gathered Up: The Olive Tree
95. Fragments Gathered Up: The Power and Wisdom of God
96. Fragments Gathered Up: The Veil Not Rent Until Christ's Death
97. Fragments Gathered Up: Thinking on Christ Only
98. Fragments Gathered Up: Truth as to the Spirit
99. Fragments Gathered Up: When a Pause Is Needed
100. Fragments: Peter's Conscience
101. Genesis 3
102. Genesis 3 and John 8
103. Genesis 3 Compared With John 8
104. God's Communications in Grace and the Saint's Intercession
105. Grace the Spring of Righteousness
106. Grace the True Source and Support of Practical Righteousness
107. The Ground of God's Dealings Now
108. Growing Up Into Christ
109. Hagar
110. How They May Be Viewed Christians
111. On Intercession and Forgiveness
112. Is Scripture Typical?
113. Jehovah Is My Shepherd
114. Notes on Jeremiah 42
115. Notes on Jeremiah 43
116. Notes on Jeremiah 44
117. Notes on Jeremiah 45
118. Notes on Jeremiah 46
119. Notes on Jeremiah 47
120. Notes on Jeremiah 48
121. Notes on Jeremiah 49
122. Notes on Jeremiah 50
123. Notes on Jeremiah 51
124. Notes on Jeremiah 52
125. Thoughts on John 1:1-13
126. Thoughts on John 15
127. Sketch of John
128. Thoughts on John: the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved
129. Joshua 5
130. Notes on the Kingdom
131. Lamentations of Jeremiah
132. Lamentations of Jeremiah
133. Lamentations of Jeremiah
134. Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:1-21
135. Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:22-42
136. Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:43-66
137. Lamentations of Jeremiah 4:1-11
138. Lamentations of Jeremiah 4:12-22
139. Lamentations of Jeremiah: Introduction
140. Law and the Walk of the Christian
141. Leviticus 1-27
142. Notes on Luke 11:37-54
143. Notes on Luke 12:1-12
144. Notes on Luke 12:13-30
145. Notes on Luke 12:31-40
146. Notes on Luke 12:41-48
147. Notes on Luke 12:49-59
148. Notes on Luke 13:1-9
149. Notes on Luke 13:10-22
150. Notes on Luke 13:23-30
151. Notes on Luke 13:31-35
152. Notes on Luke 14:1-14
153. Notes on Luke 14:15-36
154. Notes on Luke 15:1-7
155. Notes on Luke 15:11-32
156. Notes on Luke 15:8-10
157. Notes on Luke 16:1-13
158. Notes on Luke 16:14-18
159. Notes on Luke 16:19-31
160. Notes on Luke 17:1-10
161. Notes on Luke 17:11-19
162. Notes on Luke 17:20-25
163. Notes on Luke 17:26-37
164. Notes on Luke 18:1-8
165. Notes on Luke 18:9-34
166. Man's Conscience and God's Revelation
167. Thoughts on Mark 7
168. My Peace
169. Notes on Romans 9:6-13
170. Numbers
171. Our Exodus: 1. They Are Not of the World, Even As I Am Not of the World
172. Our Exodus: 2.
173. Our Exodus: 3.
174. Our Separating Brethren: 1.
175. Our Separating Brethren: 2.
176. Our Separating Brethren: 3.
177. Our Separating Brethren: 4.
178. Our Separating Brethren: 5.
179. The Narrative of Passion Week
180. On the Positive Evidences of Christianity
181. The Power That Works in Us
182. Printing
183. Printing
184. Printing
185. Printing
186. Printing
187. Printing
188. Printing
189. Printing
190. Printing
191. Printing
192. Printing
193. Printing
194. Printing
195. Printing
196. Printing
197. Printing
198. Printing
199. A Glance at the Prophecies of Isaiah
200. New Translation Psalm 38
201. A Few Words on Psalm 45 and 68
202. Brief Words on Psalm 63
203. New Translation Psalms 1-8: Psalm 1
204. New Translation Psalms 1-8: Psalm 2
205. New Translation Psalms 16-18
206. New Translation Psalms 19-24
207. New Translation Psalms 25-31
208. New Translation Psalms 35-36
209. New Translation Psalms 37
210. New Translation Psalms 39-41
211. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 17
212. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 18
213. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 20
214. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 21
215. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 22
216. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 23
217. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 24
218. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 26
219. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 27
220. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 28
221. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 29
222. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 30
223. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 31
224. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 32
225. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 33
226. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 34
227. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 36
228. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 40
229. The Psalms: Book 1, Psalm 41
230. The Psalms: Psalm 10
231. The Psalms: Psalm 11
232. The Psalms: Psalm 15
233. The Psalms: Psalm 3
234. The Psalms: Psalm 4
235. The Psalms: Psalm 5
236. The Psalms: Psalm 6
237. The Psalms: Psalm 7
238. The Psalms: Psalm 8
239. The Psalms: Psalm 9
240. The Psalms: Psalms 12-14
241. Published
242. Published
243. Published
244. Published
245. Published
246. Published
247. Published
248. Published
249. Published
250. Published
251. Published
252. Published
253. The Narrative of the Resurrection
254. Romanism: an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled "The Law and the Testimony": Part 1
255. Romanism: an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled "The Law and the Testimony": Part 2
256. Romanism: an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled "The Law and the Testimony": Part 3
257. Romanism: an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled "The Law and the Testimony": Part 4
258. Romanism: an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled "The Law and the Testimony": Part 5
259. Romanism: an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled "The Law and the Testimony": Part 6
260. Romanism: an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled "The Law and the Testimony": Part 7
261. Notes on Romans 10:1-3
262. Notes on Romans 10:10-15
263. Notes on Romans 10:16-21
264. Notes on Romans 10:4-9
265. Thoughts on Romans 12
266. Romans 6 and 1 John 1:7
267. Notes on Romans 8:10-11
268. Notes on Romans 8:12-14
269. Notes on Romans 8:15-17
270. Notes on Romans 8:18-25
271. Notes on Romans 8:2
272. Notes on Romans 8:26-27
273. Notes on Romans 8:28-29
274. Notes on Romans 8:3-4
275. Notes on Romans 8:31-39
276. Notes on Romans 8:5-8
277. Notes on Romans 8:9
278. Notes on Romans 9:1-5
279. Notes on Romans 9:14-18
280. Notes on Romans 9:19-21
281. Notes on Romans 9:22-24
282. Notes on Romans 9:25-26
283. Notes on Romans 9:27-29
284. Notes on Romans 9:30-33
285. Salvation and Sealing
286. Salvation and the Church
287. Saul's Declension: Part 1
288. Saul's Declension: Part 2
289. Scripture Queries and Answer: Ginetai
290. Scripture Queries and Answers: Colored Coverings of the Holy Vessels
291. Scripture Queries and Answers: Distinction in the Names for God
292. Scripture Queries and Answers: Force of the Words for People and Nations in the Old Testament
293. Scripture Queries and Answers: Grammar in Revelation
294. Scripture Queries and Answers: Psalm 109:4
295. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Witness
296. On the Scriptures
297. The Servant for Ever
298. The Sin Offering
299. Sinai MS and Tischendorf's English New Testament
300. The Sinaiticus Manuscript: Brief Account of Its Discovery and of Its Character
301. The Smoking Furnace and the Burning Lamp
302. A Test and a Confession
303. To Correspondents
304. To Correspondents: Numbering of Verses in Psalms
305. Divine Truth, Not Double Senses, in Scripture: Part 1
306. Divine Truth, Not Double Senses, in Scripture: Part 2
307. Two Letters on the Greek Aorist in Translating the New Testament
308. The Two Ministries
309. What Is the Unity of the Church?
310. The Vaudois
311. Victory
312. The Watcher and the Holy One
313. What Is Man?

Letter on 1 Corinthians 9:27

My dear friend and brother, I have no hesitation in saying that ἀδόκιμος (translated in the E. Bible “a castaway”) must be interpreted in each occurrence according to the nature and requirements of its context. It means disapproved on trial, which may be absolute or relative. This I freely grant. The question is, what is the necessary sense in 1 Cor. 9:27?
It seems to me very plain that the apostle means in the strictest and fullest way a disapproval of the person, emphatically so, and not a mere condemnation of his service but in contrast with it. He supposes that there might be the preaching to others without a single flaw or drawback specified (i. e., the work all right), but the person ἀδόκιμος. What has hindered many in ancient times, and yet more since the Arminian controversy, is the fear of weakening divine grace, and of compromising the security of the believer.
But this is a groundless fear; for it is no question of a believer, but of a preacher. It is supposed that the person preaches well enough, but there is no self-judgment, no keeping of the body under, no practical holiness-consequently, no faith or conscience before God, no jealousy for Christ, no fear to grieve the Holy Spirit. It is a man unrenewed, therefore, though possibly not a bad preacher, nor lacking in zealous work.
This was the snare laid for the Corinthians, In the eyes of some, gift and work were all, the will and grace and holiness of Christ practically of no account.
Why then does the apostle speak of himself hypothetically rather than of them directly? Because he was led of the Spirit with the finest sense of delicate consideration. He preferred out of love to put it in his own case. Not, as too many imagine, that he had the least doubt or fear as to himself; not that a single text raises the smallest anxiety about any one possessing life in Christ. Whoever throws off restraints, and lives contrary to Christ, may preach as well as you like, but will certainly be lost, were it Paul himself: as he says in chapter 4 of this Epistle, he has transferred the application to himself, if not to Apollos. But it is purely hypothesis, which in fact was as far as possible from Paul, but which he thus applied to himself, if he walked recklessly, for the warning of some of the Corinthians. It is hardly so strong as Heb. 12:14, 15, from which we must not be driven either by abuse or by ignorance: nor must we force it like those who would pervert the warnings given to professors of Christ into opiates for Christians.
Ever yours affectionately,






Price 2d., Romanism; Or, an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled “The Law and the Testimony.”
G. Morrish, 24, Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row, E. G.
A Lecture at the Haverstock Room, Kentish Town, May 17, 1870, by W. Kelly.
Crooker & Cooper, 28, Penton Street, Islington, N.


Romanism; Or, an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled " the Law and the Testimony." by J. N. D. G. Morrish, 24, Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row, E.C.
BY W. K.
W. H. Broom, 28, Paternoster Row, E. C.


Lectures Introductory to the Study of the Pentateuch. by W. Kelly
W. H. Broom, 28, Paternoster Row, z. c.
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Faith's Place in a Time of Apostasy: Part 1

It is unquestionably true that, in lands which have been civilized by Christianity, there is an immense religious movement going on. The surface of Christendom is in a ferment.
Rome is at this moment, amidst the threatened loss of all political power, making fresh efforts upon the credulity of man, and drawing victim after victim into her net, and this with a boldness and barefacedness which, if possible, would deceive the very elect. Her language is, “I sit a queen and am no widow.” One may have heard it said, That going over to Rome is going from nothing to nothing. This may be true in a very modified sense, for if Christ was not in the heart before, He will not be found in this new place; but we dare not treat her as nothing, but rather as an active devilish system, comprehended within that which is prophesied of in the New Testament as the “mother of harlots and abominations of the earth,” which God will judge. (Rev. 17)
Our object, however, is not to write against popery except incidentally, but to make the inquiry, How is it that so many Protestants, especially English ones, are drawn over to her?
It may be assumed that in order to convince reasonable and religious men, Rome must have, or pretend to possess, some truths which Protestants have lost, and which they get by joining her communion. Bossuet rendered her valuable assistance when, in the seventeenth century, he wrote his work “Upon the Variations of Protestants,” as opposed to the unity and order of Rome; and may we not say, in thus beginning our subject, that Protestants from the first have given too little attention to the truth of the unity of the church, in their horror at the false pretenses raised by their antagonist?
There is no weapon which Satan is more skillful in the use of than a neglected scripture truth. Some may remember the havoc which the Mormons made by applying “the stick of Joseph” (Ezek. 37:16, 17, 19) to Joseph Smith, the head of the Mormons in America, where was to be found the New Jerusalem, the city of the saints. Thousands of illiterate but not irreligious people fell under the delusion. This never could have been the case had the truth of the Lord's coming been taught them, and the proper application made of the return of the ten as well as of the two tribes to the land of Israel under the hand and headship of the Lord Jesus. The same kind of deception may reach us. If we do not understand the character of the church as found in the word of God, and do not, in our measure, seek to walk in the truth of it, we are in danger of being taken up by what is false.
I would preface the observations which follow by observing that it is not a question of the condition of a man's individual soul, although this be the first of all questions, nor of the godly walk of a company of believers in any denomination, instructed, peradventure, by a godly teacher. Scores of clergymen have been instructing such companies, according to their light, and yet have found themselves by a strange moral compulsion obliged to depart for Rome. Surely our readers will exclaim, They had much better have remained where they were! We reply, undoubtedly; but when in the midst of their ministrations the subject of “the church” comes up, its unity, its order, its head, &c., and they find that in the system which they have been accustomed to venerate as the church, there exists no certainty of truth, still less unity of opinion—when, too, they find courts of appeal of to-day reversed by courts of appeal to-morrow, and that their spiritual heads, the bishops, may be divided in their opinions, resolving themselves indifferently with the High Church, or Low Church, or Broad Church—when we say this comes to pass, as it has so often done lately, what is left but to return to that focus of unity, Rome, from whence they had as a church once departed!
Viewed from another point we may see in all this a direct work of Satan upon often unconscious agents to bring about that grand climax of evil which as a “mystery” has been working since the days of Paul. The doctrine of the unity of the church under the headship of Peter and his successors is the dogma with which Rome successfully maintains her ground against the whole array of Protestantism. This could never have occurred in the sixteenth century. Men's minds were then filled with hatred of the inquisition, with holy zeal against the system of indulgences, and with earnestness about soul salvation. Now we are a money-getting, pleasure-loving, and, as to the things of God, a cowardly race, expediency being the order of the day; and Rome seizes the moment to make good her claim as the mother and mistress of churches.
Inasmuch as there have been from the first century Christians at Rome, and that Europe did at one time universally follow her ritual and allow her supremacy, we must concede to her, as far as antiquity is concerned, a claim superior to all others to be called the church.
It would be easy to disprove a host of errors held and imposed by her. Considered simply from the point of view now to be looked at, we might instance the adoption of Peter instead of Paul for the chief apostle as a very prominent one (although one little noticed hitherto either by historians or controversialists), because it shows that, whenever this happened, there must already have been a confusion in men's minds between the church and the kingdom. (Matt. 16:16-19.) For Peter, whilst he had the keys of the kingdom, never once uses the title “Son of God” in his epistles; which title is used alone by Paul and John, being the title on which the church is built: “Upon this rock I will build my church.” Another has well observed, “People do not build with keys.” You open with keys, and so Peter opened the doors of the kingdom of heaven to Cornelius; but it was Paul who brought out in his writings, and exemplified in his ways, the precious truth of the church, the body of Christ on earth, with a glorified Head.
Popery is nothing else that corrupt Christianity; but I am doubtful in these days if, in exposing her errors singly, I should gain over many converts. Such errors have over and over been dealt with by abler pens, and yet Popery goes on increasing. Why is this? Simply because by the attack upon and refutation of isolated points in her system, we do not meet the real difficulty in the mind of her votaries. With them the thought of the church is indigenous. The reply to these attacks is something like the following: God has but one church, founded upon Peter, and against which He has said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail.” Let me find out this people and get amongst them. Their supposed false doctrines do not trouble me; and where else do I find the overwhelming concurrence and evidence of all antiquity but in Rome? As to all Protestants, their divergence of interests and clashing of opinions go right against them. But suppose I were to succeed in convincing a Romanist of the untenableness of the doctrines of Popery, one by one, what might be his reply? Either that the church, as having the presence of God, cannot err, or else that if it does, reform can go on within it, but not in an outside place, to which place no promise is attached. I must avow that I consider it difficult to answer a Romanist upon church ground (though it is easy, comparatively speaking, to overthrow him on the question of personal salvation, if one's own self, by infinite mercy, possesses it), unless, first, one understands what scripture has revealed about the church. That is, does it give any countenance to a unity of believers, so as to allow the pretensions of Rome, caricature though they be of the truth? 2ndly, In allowing Rome to be the center, so to speak, of Christianity, is an apostacy predicted? 3dly, Does scripture, supposing a proved departure, indicate any path for a believer who feels himself to be in this ruin?
In considering the scriptural church, one may view it as endowed of God or as seen by men. In the former sense, as it appears in the writings of the Apostle Paul, it is a body on earth (Eph. 4:12) connected with a heavenly and ascended Head (Eph. 4:15, 16), indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:17 Cor. 6:16; 2 Cor. 6:16), who is its power of unity (Eph. 4:3, 4). It has, in the mind of God, the same symmetry and identification of purpose as the human body has to its head. Indeed Christ above, the Head, is not in this view apart from Christ the body. (1 Cor. 12:12.) It was formed on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) by the descent of the Holy Ghost, who has never left it. (John 14:16.) All its endowments are in the way of permanent spiritual gifts. (Eph. 4:11-14; 1 Cor. 12-14.) It is highly important to recognize the positive administration of the Holy Ghost in her. As Eliezer, the servant, in bringing home Rebecca to Isaac (Gen. 24), had all his master's goods under his hand, and distributed the precious things as he would within Rebecca's household, so the Holy Ghost, on the behalf of Christ, is the absolute distributor of everything in the way of gifts, as well as the power of using them. In nothing is the true discerned from the false more than in this. In Col. 2:19 the Head is that “from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” In few words, the church is the body of Christ united to a heavenly Head, formed and filled by the Holy Spirit.
As seen by men, we notice that in 1 Cor. 1 believers are besought all to “speak the same thing,” to have “no divisions among them; but to be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.”
Again, there never was more than one church in one city. Thus a letter is addressed, “To the church of God which is at Corinth.” Again, so completely does the idea prevail of saints in each city being one, that when Paul left Titus in Crete, it was that he might ordain elders in every city (observe, not in every church); yet when Paul, in Acts 20, sends from Miletus to Ephesus, he calls “the elders of the church;” that is, the elders of the church were the elders in the city, or vice versa, the elders in the city were the elders of the church. There was but one in every city. The elders were to take heed to themselves, “and to all the flock” (ver. 28). They were to “feed the church of God.”
Again, in Eph. 4 we are told to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Seven unities are mentioned. A divided body, which receives its life and strength from one head, is absurd. These passages sufficiently show that scripture does set forth a unity flowing from one Head, the power and administration being by the Spirit, whether doctrinally or practically.
Now, certainly, Protestants, although correct upon foundation truths, ever indeed the most important, and never for a moment to be lost sight of, which carry a soul to heaven and enlighten its path on earth, have never reflected the truth of one body, the witness being the number of sects in every city, each one with a clashing interest. The Reformers do not appear to have made any attempt to penetrate into God's thoughts about things corporate. They attacked with a zealous care all the horrible superstitions of the papacy; and, not content with denying the false, asserted the true, as far as pardon of sins went, and were the instruments of saving thousands of souls, for men were then honest and real; but they seem not to have understood the place which the Holy Ghost occupied, and to have supposed that the safety of the soul was the only thought of God. It was just this lack that popery has taken advantage of.
(To be continued)

Faith's Place in a Time of Apostasy: Part 2

As to the second branch of our inquiry, supposing we allow Rome the special place she arrogates, does scripture predict an apostacy of profession? Because, if it does, it cuts away from. Rome her claim to infallibility as well as to reform in the sense of renewing anything or setting it up again. Well, it is most certain that a terrible and universal apostacy is revealed in the word of God. And a singular phenomenon it is, that the very apostle (used, I might almost say, as the depositary of the love of God, and of the place which the church holds as His body and the bride of His affections) should be the very one who predicted its failure.
Let us come to proofs. Before doing so, it is well to glance at Rom. 11, in which chapter the apostle, from verse 11, gives a history of the Gentiles as acted upon by gospel grace, and which more than hints at their failure. They came into the place of Israel, who has been cut off nationally. They partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree; but there is a threat that, if they did not continue to stand by faith, they would be cut off as the Jews were. “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” We are not then to be surprised at a defection. It is but a repetition of the history of Israel. That which is entrusted into man's hand fails, although God is always faithful to His promises. With this introduction we can pursue the course of the apostle's writings.
In Acts 20, in his address to the elders at Ephesus, he informs them that after his decease grievous wolves should “enter in, not sparing the flock;” also that of their “own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them;” that is, he speaks of men who were to arise from the body of elders, of ὲπισκόπους. There were to be evils of two kinds, those from without and those from within. It is of no avail to say that this was to be a partial betrayal of the interests of Christ at Ephesus, which need not spread farther! Two points are to be noted: first, “no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20); secondly, of all the seven churches mentioned in Revelation, after the death of Paul, Ephesus seems to have been the best. How then could the decay have been partial, when it had taken place in others before her? There is no idea of recovery by any extraneous help to be brought in from elsewhere, as by reference to other apostles or to a successional order. Nothing remained in Acts 20 but to commit them to God and to the word of His grace, that they might be built up and given an inheritance.
In 2 Thess. 2 he declares that there was a mystery of iniquity already at work which, instead of being eradicated, was to spread and culminate in a head—the man of sin or lawlessness, whom the Lord Himself is to consume with the spirit of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The weight of judgment is to fall upon those who believe not the truth: most certainly therefore they have been within hearing of it.
In 1 Tim. 4 he says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith [ἀποστἡσονται, apostatize], giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” &c. It looks somewhat like popery.
In 2 Tim. 3 we have something beyond “latter times,” even “last days,” in which “perilous times shall come.” Already his co-laborers in Asia had turned away from him, as we know from 2 Tim. 1:15. Some too, were “subverting” and others “overthrowing” the faith (chap. ii. 14-18); but eventually there was to be a return to the heathen vices of Rom. 1; 2; but with “a form of godliness,” an astounding picture of the defection of professing men.
A few words must suffice as to the witness which Peter bears. His second epistle runs much in the same line, and even same language, as Jude. My reader by consulting chapters ii., iii. will find these words: “There were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them and many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of which the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” &c. (Compare 3:4, 5.) He does not speak of any rectification, except by the coming of the day of the Lord. Meanwhile we are to account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation. (Ver. 10, 12, 15.)
We now pass to Jude and the Epistles of John. Jude seems to have had the desire to write about “the common salvation,” but was deterred by the sense: of the incoming corruption, and, instead, proceeded to exhort them earnestly to “contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” He goes on to show, from verse 6 onwards, the condition into which the Church was falling and would fall, to be met only by the Lord coming to judge it. But he points also to the path of the true-hearted ones: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
In the first Epistle of John the defection is looked at from another standpoint. The fellowship of saints being with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, this fellowship is destroyed by the denial of the true incarnation and person of Christ. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same not the Father.” Why so? Because it was the Father who sent the Son; but if we are in error upon the true Son as born into this world, as a consequence we must be ignorant of the Father who sent Him.
In the addresses to the seven churches in the Revelation we have abundance of evidence of declension without recovery. Ephesus begins, on losing her first love, with a warning lest her candlestick should be taken away, and Laodicea ends with the threat of being spewed out of Christ's mouth. It is true that at the worst there are a few, but only a few, found faithful—the overcomers; their communion with Christ endures, and to them the promises belong.
It is of moment to remember that scripture never supposes a recovery; at all events, it never contemplates a restoration to primitive order and power. There is always a resource for the faithful ones, as is abundantly shown by the promises to those that have ears to hear in the epistles to the churches. Christ never fails His own in the very darkest day, but He does not set up the thing that has failed in its ancient place, any more than He restored the Shekinah of His presence on the return of some of the Jews from Babylon under Nehemiah and Ezra. Those who see the ruin (whilst they own, as Daniel did, their share in it) labor according to the existing condition of things, and so much the less disappointment do they suffer. In the general, instead of recovery, our hope is the coming of the Lord.
Nothing now remains but to point out in very few words our condition, and the path of the saint in these days. One principal point is that we are living in the last times—in the condition of things of which 2 Tim. 2 Peter, Jude, the Epistles of John, and those to the seven churches give us, as it were, the program. Another paramount fact is to know that the question of the day is, What is the Church? A third is that Satan with all deceivableness of unrighteousness is pointing to Rome as the goal of every distressed soul. The defect of the reformers, eminent as they were, was in failing to discern the real condition of things and the mind of God in this condition. Instead of realizing the situation, and looking to God who in unfailing faithfulness never deserts His own, they began the work of building up again. By this they left a place for the insertion of the thin edge of the wedge; and hence the present confusion.
But still it may be argued that all this talk about ruin is negative. Let us come then to something positive. It is certainly true that the beginning of the declension was the loss of the truth of the Holy Ghost. We do not mean a deliberate or theoretical denial of His Godhead, although any one acquainted with the history of Arianism well knows that denial or uncertainty about Christ produced the same effects as to the Holy Ghost. There was a loss, from the moment church history opens in the writings of the Fathers, of the administration of the Holy Ghost on behalf of Christ or of God in His church. Church history begins with a well-defined hierarchy, and the Apostle Paul seems to have been forgotten as soon as he was dead. Are you then still looking for, or claiming to have produced a restoration? By no means; nay, the very contrary. But we are bound, in acknowledging the failure, to own the entire written word. We are bound to believe Eph. 4 as much as 2 Timothy, and to give both their place. It behooves us to know how to use 1 Timothy and Titus without allowing them to jar against 1 Cor. 12; 14
I would illustrate this. If I go to a good Protestant, who is individually sound in faith and practice, and put a leading question to him about the church, his reply will be, There are good people in every sect. Of course we should agree with him. If I put a second question, he will answer, For my own part, I prefer an Episcopal, or, as the case might be, a Presbyterian form of government; but I do not think scripture presents any of these matters with certainty. Now, certain or uncertain, it is just by being able to present his so-called church in a definite and tangible way that the popish priest has drawn away so many to Rome.
“Canon 1. If any man say that the religion of Christ does not exist, and is not expressed in any particular association instituted by Christ himself, but that it may be properly observed and exercised by individuals separately without relation to any society which may be the true Church of Christ, let him be anathema.
“2. If any man say that the Church has not received from the Lord Jesus Christ any certain and immutable form of constitution, but that, like other human associations, it has been subject, and may be subject, according to the changes of times, to vicissitudes and variations, let him be anathema.
“3. If any man say that the Church of the Divine promises is not an external and visible society, but is entirely internal and invisible, let him be anathema.
“4. If any man say that the true Church is not a body one in itself, but that it is composed of various and dispersed societies bearing the Christian title, and that it is common to them all, or that various societies differing from each other in profession of faith and holding separate communion, constitute, as members and portions, a Church of Christ, one and universal, let him be anathema.
“5. If any man say that the Church of Christ is not a society absolutely necessary for eternal salvation, or that men may be saved by the adoption of any other religion whatsoever, let him be anathema.
“6. If any man say that this intolerance, whereby the Catholic Church proscribes and condemns all religious sects which are separate from her communion, is not prescribed by the Divine law, or that with respect to the truth of religion it is possible to have opinions only, but not certainty, and that, consequently all religious sects should be tolerated by the Church, let him be anathema.
“7. If any man say that the same Church of Christ may be obscured by darkness, or infected with evils, in consequence of which it may depart from the wholesome truth of the faith and manners, deviate from its original institution, or terminate only in becoming corrupt and depraved, let him be anathema.
“8. If any man say that the present Church of Christ is not the last and supreme institution for obtaining salvation, but that another is to be looked for from a new and fuller outpouring of the Holy Spirit, let him be anathema.
“9. If any man say that the infallibility of the Church is restricted solely to things which are contained in Divine revelation, and that it does not also extend to other truths which are necessary in order that the great gift of revelation may be preserved in its integrity, let him be anathema.
“10. If any man say that the Church is not a perfect society, but a corporation (collegium), or that as such in respect of civil society or the State it is subject to secular domination, let him be anathema.
“11. If any man say that the Church, divinely instituted, is like to a society of equals; that the Bishops have indeed an office and a ministry, but not a power of governing proper to themselves, which is bestowed upon them by Divine ordination, and which they ought to exercise freely, let him be anathema.
“12. If any man hold that Christ our Lord and Sovereign has only conferred upon his Church a directing power by means of its counsels and persuasions, but not of ordering by its laws, or of constraining and compelling by antecedent judgments and salutary penalties those who wander and those who are contumacious, let him be anathema.
“13. If any man say that the true Church of Christ, out of which no one can he saved, is any other than the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, let him be anathema.
“14. If any man say that the Apostle St. Peter has not been instituted by our Lord Christ as Prince of all the Apostles, and visible head of the Church Militant, or that he received only the pre-eminence of honor, had not the primacy of true and sole jurisdiction, let him be anathema.
“15. If any man say that it does not follow from the institution of our Lord Christ himself that Peter has perpetual successors in his primacy over the Universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is not by Divine right the successor of Peter in that same primacy, let him be anathema.
“16. If any man say that the Roman Pontiff has only a function of inspection and of direction, but not a full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the Universal Church, or that this power is not ordinary and immediate over the whole Church, taken as a whole or separately, let him be anathema.
“17. If any man say that the independent ecclesiastical power respecting which the Church teaches that it has been conferred upon it by Christ, and the supreme civil power cannot co-exist so that the rights of each may be observed, let him be anathema.
“18. If any man say that the power which is necessary for the government of civil society does not emanate from God, or that no obedience is due to it by virtue even of the law of God, or that such power is repugnant to the natural liberty of man, let him be anathema.
“19. If any man say that all rights existing among men are derived from the political State, or that there is no authority besides that which is communicated by such State, let him be anathema.
“20. If any man say that in the law of the political State or in the public opinion of men has been deposited the supreme rule of conscience for public and social actions, or that the judgments by which the Church pronounces upon what is lawful and what is unlawful, do not extend to such actions, or that by the forces of civil law an act which by virtue of Divine or ecclesiastical law is unlawful, can become lawful, let him be anathema.
“21. If any man say that the laws of the Church have no binding force until they have been confirmed by the sanction of the civil power, or that it belongs to the said civil power to judge and to decree in matters of religion by virtue of its supreme authority, let him be anathema.”
Thus the truth as to the church lies between, but apart from, the old successional bodies on the one hand, and the voluntary dissenting societies on the other. The former may in sound own the “one body,” but deny its character and ignore its nature, having no faith in the efficacy of redemption nor in the presence and sovereign action of the Holy Ghost in the Christian assembly. The latter have lost even the sound of the “one body” for practice on earth through the same fertile root of unbelief. Still the firm foundation of God stands with its twofold seal of divine purpose and creature responsibility.—Ed. B. T.]
Whosoever labors for Christ must do so as realizing the confusion and ruin of everything. If then attacked by an emissary from Rome, on the only ground they do attack, viz., the church, his ready reply would be, Scripture has predicted long ago the condition of which you are the living example. If he should ask, Where, then, is your church? at once one would fall back on Eph. 4:3: “There is one body and one Spirit.” If he asked, Where is your ministry? the reply would be, There is a permanent ministry for the use of that; body—in fact, belonging to it. “He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come,” &c.
If he said that Rome has all these, we should reply that, if not apostate, she has not them exclusively, but that if she arrogates to herself the title of the church, we have seen that the professing body is spewed out of Christ's mouth. (Rev. 3:16.) Otherwise gifts are to be found in every part of Christendom, whether in or out of communion with Rome. But to all, whether in or out, one would say, are they in exercise according to 1 Cor. 12; 14? This is the fellowship from “the gifts” point of view made for us. We do not make it: it is made for us. We should assert, to this emissary of Rome and to all others, the indwelling and administration of the Holy Ghost in Christ's own house. (Eph. 2:22.)
Now, as sure as we really take this ground, it may be things are so weak that it comes only to “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18) To console us however there is the promise of His presence, which makes up for everything. Such a position does not suppose that we seek to build up or restore anything. It is only holding to the truth of God. But it is an answer to all the pretensions of Rome; and in truth, upon the question of the church, there is none other. It occupies God's ground, but in intelligence of the apostacy. We have as our end, too, the sweet hope of the coming of the Lord. If that was the promise to the overcomers in Thyatira and Philadelphia, it may well be ours. “Surely I come quickly. Even so, Come Lord Jesus.”


Babylon. On her forehead her name was written. A drunken world does not see it; but a saint ought not to mistake it. We should judge from the outside of it; and if we are in our place, in the Spirit, in the wilderness, we shall not mistake. But if we tamper with it, we have lost the sense of it: we have drunk some of the wine, if we do not discern it.

Balaam Asking Counsel

Num. 20-24
The children of Israel have reached the promised land a second time. Thirty-eight years previously, they found themselves on its borders; but (dismayed at the report of the spies) their heart failed by the way, and as a consequence they had to turn and retrace their steps to the shores of the Red Sea. Now they have marched afresh towards Canaan. The camp is pitched (at the time the history given us in these chapters transpires) in the plains of Moab, on this side Jordan, by Jericho.
Before making a particular application of this history, it will be well, so as to complete it, to call to mind what scripture tells us further about Balaam. We see from Num. 31:16, that the occasion of the sin of the children of Israel, in the matter of Peor (which drew down the plague on the congregation of the Lord), was through his counsel. Verse 8 of the same chapter shows us the miserable end of one who had said, “Let me die the death of the righteous.” Israel, conquerors of Midian, slay him with the sword, along with the five kings, and all the males, of the vanquished people.
The New Testament mentions him only three times, yet this is done in such sort as to throw great light on the principles and character of the man. In the dark picture drawn by Peter of the unjust, reserved by the Lord unto the day of judgment to be punished, we find, among others, the following features-receiving the reward of unrighteousness; counting it pleasure to riot in the day time; spots and blemishes sporting themselves with their own deceivings, while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children, which have forsaken the right way, are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness but was rebuked for his iniquity the dumb ass, speaking with man's voice, forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with the tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. (2 Peter 2)
Jude thus describes the triple character of the apostasy (the principles of which were already manifested, and working in the Church in his day): “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Verse 11.
Lastly, in the epistles of the Lord Jesus to the seven churches of Asia, Rev. 2; 3 (regarded by students of prophecy, for the most part, as presenting a picture of the successive phases through which the Church would pass down here on the earth), He who has the sharp sword with two edges writes to the angel of the church at Pergamos “I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”
Surely we have here declarations of the word enough, and more than sufficient, to show how odious was the character of Balaam.
At present, however, it is not our purpose to search into all that is taught us in this history; but only, as to the dominant trait in the character of the son of Bosor.
Balak sends messengers to Balaam of the elders of Moab and Midian (who take in their hands wherewith to hire the soothsayer), to invite him to come, curse the people of Israel. Balaam (notwithstanding that which is evidently evil in the demand) asks counsel of the Lord, who tells him, “Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people, for they are blessed.” On this Balaam tells the messengers of Balak “Get you into your land, for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you.”
But Balak returns to the charge. He sends yet again princes, more and more honorable than the former, commissioned to bid him come, and he shall be plentifully rewarded. Balaam replies: “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.” Yet he sends them not away but says to them, “Tarry ye here this night.” Anew he asks counsel of the Lord, to know what the Lord would say unto him more; and God replies, “If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them.”
Balaam goes with the princes of Moab. But God's anger is kindled because he goes; and an angel stands in the way for an adversary against him.
The ass of Balaam, seeing the angel (with a drawn sword in his hand), turns out of the way. Balaam smites the ass to turn her into the way. The angel of the Lord stands in a path of the vineyards, having a wall on the one side and a wall on the other, and when the ass sees the angel, she thrusts herself against the wall and crushes Balaam's foot. He smites her again. The angel goes forward, and stands in a narrow place, where there is no way to turn, either to the right hand or to the left, and when the ass sees the angel, she falls down under Balaam. Balaam's anger is kindled, and he smites the ass with a staff.
The Lord now causes the ass to speak, and she reproves Balaam. He also opens Balaam's eyes, and he sees the angel, who tells him “Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before Me.” Balaam says, “I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me; now, therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.” The angel tells him: “Go with the men.” So Balaam goes with the princes of Moab.
Arrived in the presence of Balak, he is brought by him successively, to the high places of Baal, the top of Pisgah, and the top of Peor, in order that he may see the tents of Israel encamped in the plains, and curse them. He bids Balak build altars and offer burnt-sacrifices; asks counsel of the Lord who speaks to him; pronounces his pithy discourses-prophecies, and ceases not to bless Israel.
When Balaam asked of the Lord the first time “Shall I go?” God replied distinctly No; and as distinctly pointed out the ground of the refusal. It would seem He gave this answer, because either the soothsayer sought counsel of Him for the first time, or was not sure he should be doing wrong in acceding to the invitation of Balak. But the Lord having told him he must not go, and that Israel was blessed, the position of Balaam was no longer the same. He now knew the will of God. Without the possibility of a doubt, it would be to do evil to go into Moab. Impossible, he could be longer in uncertainty as to this.
Nevertheless tempted afresh, he consults God afresh to know (as he says) what He has more to say to him; and God answers him that he may go.
But the sequel shows, how, from that moment, there was in Balaam growing blindness. In fact, he understands nothing, or next to nothing, of the efforts of the angel to withstand him. He is never restored; he returns not the right way; but, on the contrary, becomes, through his abominable counsel, a stumblingblock to Israel. His end is terrible.
Thus the Holy Ghost says, “Woe unto those, who, having forsaken the right way, have gone astray, following the way of Balaam.” From what has preceded we may clearly gather, that the principle which destroyed Balaam was manifested when he asked a second time of the Lord if he might go into Moab. That which happened to him afterward was but a consequence of this. When he asked of God the second time, already his way was perverse, already had he sold himself to the wages of iniquity, and the sequel of his lamentable history is nothing more than the development of a like state of soul. Thus it is immediately after this second inquiry, that the anger of the Lord is kindled against him. In the fact of the second inquiry, we discover the main and governing trait of the character of Balaam.
But it needs not long examination to discern that this distinctive trait is just in this, that Balsam, having cognizance of evil, asks counsel afresh, instead of forthwith fleeing it.
As Christians we know full well that God desires we should flee that which is evil, abstain from it, have no fellowship with it. We should be saints, set apart for Himself. His entire word leaves no room for a doubt; and he that sees not this, His will, in plainest evidence, in Jesus on the cross, and Jesus risen, has not, as yet, or but little, learned Christ.
Who is he dare say to a thrice holy God: “Allow me to be a liar, covetous man, fornicator, murderer, for a day?” or, “Allow me to participate to a certain extent in evil"-above all, when contemplating the terrible agonies of the Son of God in Gethsemane, and on the cross; or as having understood never so little of his portion in the glories consequent on those sufferings.
With recognition of evil there needs no further inquiry, no further putting of the question: What is to be done? This question is only legitimate when we find ourselves in presence of at least two resolutions, as to which we have to make up our mind; but, evil being recognized, there is only one fit resolution—to abstain from it. God says, “Cease to do evil;” “Abhor that which is evil;” “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
There is no possible means of sanctifying evil, or participating in it. It is written, “Let him that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” The Holy Spirit tells us, Abstain forthwith. The spirit of Balaam still asks, What is to be done?
Further, let us not encourage ourselves in a wrong position, because whilst there we may still perhaps be getting light as to the word of God: when Balaam was with Balak, God ceased not to speak to him, even though His anger was kindled against him.
To seek counsel as to whether a thing be evil, and still to seek counsel when we know it is evil, are two acts altogether distinct. Not only may we ask of the Lord to give us discernment as to evil, but more, this is without contradiction a. duty it behooves us sedulously and with honesty to fulfill. Scripture tells us that this discernment is a distinctive characteristic of “those who are of full age.” (Heb. 5:14.)
Balaam would know what the Lord had to say to him more. Ah! is there need that the Lord, who has driven man out from paradise for one, and on the first transgression should add anything more? Whence comes it that we look for more? To wait for the Lord to employ some other means than that of His having discovered the evil to us is on the one hand to risk waiting in vain, and experiencing, like Balaam), a growing blindness; on the other, there is a procrastination which has for its end the quieting of ourselves in a perverse but self-pleasing way.
It may not be said that this was all very well in the times of Balaam and under the law, but that it is different under the gospel, under the law of grace and liberty. Jesus came to save sinners, that is very true; but it is to make Jesus the minister of sin to suppose that He saves in facilitating for us (let it be in what it may) evil, or participation in it. All this is extremely serious. If we act after the way of Balsam, we glorify not our God, and expose ourselves to the losing the sense of His grace, to be left for a time to our blindness, and to be brought back at last to a right way through correction and judgment. (2 Peter 1:9.) Doubtless the sheep of Jesus have no longer to fear the ruin of Balaam, but they should, so much the rather, avoid following in the footsteps of Balsam. It is the love of their Savior which attracts them. Ah! dear brethren, let us listen to His voice and not to the “wages of unrighteousness.”
The “wages of unrighteousness” —this, in reality, it is which dulls the soul's eye; here is the great warp to straightforwardness. And the wages of unrighteousness are not merely a thing of money, all that flatters self-love, all that has regard to the well-being of the flesh, in a word, all advantage whatsoever, of which we risk the deprival, or have the certainty or hope of procuring—these may be wages of iniquity. Very certainly he who hesitates, bargains, refuses to abstain, let him search well (if still able to do so), and he will find, that this comes of his being bound by some interest, which is not the interest of Jesus Christ. Is it a means of subsistence, or some friendship he wishes to preserve, or some acquired position be fears to lose, or a tranquility he dreads having troubled who can enumerate the ten thousand motives which at bottom resolve themselves into self-interest that binds us, blinds us, and urges us along in a perverse way?
God has not spared Himself to save us, and to redeem us from all iniquity. The Son of God has been sacrificed for us. He is the Lamb of God, He is the Savior. It is the love of God which constrains us—by His mercies we are besought. Yes, the believer is saved; but “show me thy faith by thy works.” The sheep of Jesus are in full security; it is the hand of Jesus which holds them, not they that hold in their hands Him who is their Redeemer forever. They are always sheep and never shepherds. Not under law, but under grace, we would not present to the Christian the fate of Balaam, and act upon him through terror: it is because of the love of God, it is because he forms part of His ransomed people, His holy nation, of the royal priesthood, that we remind him, that it is those who are led (not by the spirit of Balaam, but,) by the Spirit of God that are the sons of God.

Barzillai: His Service and Reward

When the king is firmly settled on the throne, and no rebel rises up to dispute his right to fill it, it is easy enough to appear loyal, and to cry with the multitude, “God save the king!” But, where rebellion has made great progress amongst the masses, and the popular idol is no longer the king, but some aspirant to regal power and honor, then the sovereign, but lately perhaps welcomed wherever he went with acclamations, discovers who are his real friends, and discriminates between the flattering courtier and the loyal subject. The day of the king's rejection is the day for the subject to declare himself. Thus it was with the aged Barzillai and those who were with him at Mahanaim.
Fickle indeed are the masses of any nation. The idol of to-day may become the object of popular hatred on the morrow, and the benefactor of a people find himself a wanderer in the very country over which he has reigned. Such was David's experience when Absalom's rebellion broke out. “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” had been the song of the women of Israel as they returned from the conflict with the Philistines. He had known what it was to be the man whom Israel delighted to honor. He had received the homage of the twelve tribes of Israel at Hebron, when they went there to anoint him king over all Israel. Now he was an outcast with a company who remained faithful, a fugitive too from the face of his own son Absalom. The warrior and benefactor of his country, who had raised her to a pitch of glory, prosperity, and influence never before enjoyed, was rejected for the king's son, remarkable for nothing but his personal appearance, unbridled will, and immense powers of dissimulation. Absalom had stolen the hearts of the men of Israel. It was true David had sinned grievously in the matter of Uriah's wife, and the cold-blooded murder of his faithful soldier. But of what could Absalom boast except the treacherous murder of his own elder brother Amnon? God was now punishing David for the sins by which he had given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, and at the same time was testing the loyalty and fidelity to His anointed of all the children of Israel: and with what result? The king had fled from Jerusalem, Shimei had manifested what he was as he cursed him, the people of Israel showed what they were as they clustered round Absalom, and David and his followers had at length crossed the Jordan, and so passed out of the true limits of the land of promise.
At this juncture, when the fortunes of David were at the lowest ebb, Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai declared themselves on his side, as they met him and his company at Mahanaim, and brought with them what they felt must be needed. David had not summoned them to entertain him: no superior force compelled them to yield up to the king what they possessed. They brought of their own accord such things as were suited for the occasion. David was at Mahanaim, but Machir belonged to Lo-debar, and Barzillai to Rogelim. What distance there was between these two places and the Levitical city, the scene of Jacob's meeting with the angels of God, has not been ascertained: but this at least is clear, these three men made advances to David, and Barzillai apparently surpassed them all as he “provided the king of sustenance whilst he lay at Mahanaim.” Very marked then was their attitude at this time, most acceptable to David, and we may surely add, pleasing to the Spirit of God, who has seen fit so fully to notice it.
Shobi was an Ammonite, the son of Nahash, David's friend, but a former enemy of Israel, defeated at Jabesh-gilead by Saul. He was also Hanun's brother, whose capital, Rabbah, the armies of Israel had taken, and whose crown of gold had adorned David's brow. Machur had been the firm friend of the family of Saul when David ascended the throne, in whose house Mephibosheth had found shelter till his father's possessions were restored to him by the man his grandfather had persistently persecuted. Of Barzillai's earlier history we read nothing. These three however, who once probably had trodden different paths, were now united in succoring David and his men. The Ammonite, and the friend of Saul's house, agreed with Barzillai in this. But what made them thus unite? David deserved his punishment, that all men must have admitted. Was it simply the son of Jesse they saw? Was it not rather the Lord's anointed? As such they combined to show kindness to him.
Obliged by prudential motives to put the Jordan between himself and Absalom, backed by the masses of Israel, he meets in the midst of the general defection with substantial tokens of loyalty from these three men. They saw in him the Lord's anointed: so for them the popular idol had no attraction. What others might do they stopped not to think. They did not calculate the chances of success, nor wait to learn which side appearances favored. Had they looked at the matter in this light, would they have befriended David? Would not the hosts which followed Absalom have determined their place in Israel? With them, however, surely, the question was a most simple one, Should they side with the Lord's anointed or not? Such an alternative admitted then of but one answer. Can it admit of any other than one now? Worldly caution might have counseled delay before they committed themselves so irrecoverably as they did; but, had they delayed, all opportunity of manifesting their loyalty and devotion would have passed away. It was with them now or never, Reason might have suggested further consideration, and a conference with the leaders of Absalom's party, before they took this bold step and occupied so prominent a place. Should they not hear both sides before they took the part of the fugitive king? Had not Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, actually espoused Absalom's cause? and did not all Israel acknowledge that his counsel was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God? Would they pit their wisdom against his? Besides, had not David dishonored the throne, and perverted the fountain of justice? That was true of the man David, but he was the Lord's anointed. So they ministered to his need, and thus openly sided with him before all. It was a noble act on their part, as all must acknowledge. It was also a right act, as it was in accordance with God's thoughts; and the Spirit of God surely delighted to dwell on the tokens of their faithfulness, as He has recounted the different items of refreshment thus furnished for the king, and those with him in the wilderness. They “brought beds, bacons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentils, and parched pulse, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of trine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty in the wilderness.” (2 Sam. 17:28-29.) Nothing that the people could want seems to have been forgotten; nothing that they brought, it would appear, has been overlooked in the account.
Events rolled on. Absalom crossed the Jordan with the hosts of Israel under his command. The issue of the battle is well known. David was to be chastised, but not deposed. He had been chastised, and now Absalom's turn came. That on which he had especially prided himself became the means of his capture. Suspended by his hair between heaven and earth, the fratricide, and would-be parricide and regicide met with the due reward of his deeds. Thus ended the rebellion and David's temporary exile. Preparations were now made for his return. The tribes of Israel spoke of it, the tribe of Judah, at first cold-hearted towards him, stirred up by Zadok and Abiathar sent word, “Return thou, and all thy servants.” “And all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel.”
Now again owned by all as king in Israel, David acted as such by disposing of the life and possessions of his subjects. He spared Shimei's life who had cursed him, he restored in some degree to Mephibosheth the possessions of his father, hastily bestowed on Ziba in the day of his flight, and offered to reward Barzillai. Life to Shimei, possessions in the land to Mephibosheth, but nearness to the king's person and feeding with him for Barzillai, were what he meted out to each. “Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me at Jerusalem.” Barzillai had served David when beyond Jordan, David would have Barzillai beside him ever after, beholding his royal state, blessed with the favor of the Lord's anointed. “With me” —nothing less than this—was what be desired for Barzillai: with himself, and that in Jerusalem. Most fitting was this reward. When outside the land of Canaan it was Barzillai's place and duty to own and serve the rejected king; again in power and in the land, it was David's place to reward his faithful adherent. And, as the words “with me” fall on the ear, do they not recall similar language used by David's Son in the presence of His disciples, when addressing His Father? “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am,” &c. Little did Barzillai think of the honor in store for him as a reward for his service, and of which he only heard after the time of such service was over, and the day for rewarding those faithful to David had arrived. But we know, whilst the Lord Jesus Christ is absent from the earth, rejected by His people Israel, and especially His own tribe Judah, what will be the future place of privilege and blessing of all, who side with Him during the time of His rejection by the world.
To this offer Barzillai interposes an objection. He had not worked with any view of reward, richly though he deserved it. He had thought of the king in his rejection, and had done what he could to succor him; he had come too to do honor to David now returning to his capital; but, to be at the court was unsuited to such an one, for his age forbad his enjoyment of the pleasures of the king's house. When David was in need in the wilderness, Barzillai's age was no hindrance to the bringing it in person. When the king was to recross the Jordan, he suffered not the infirmities of age to be a reason for his absence. He would testify his delight at the king's return, as he had proved his devotion to him whilst he lay at Mahanaim; but, to go to Jerusalem as a reward for his service was what he felt himself unequal to undertake. In how different a manner do men too generally act, putting forth an excuse to avoid the service, but grasping eagerly at the reward! Barzillai was not like this, he thought of the king and acted at once. Much as he, and all Israel, had enjoyed of comfort under the king's reign, he did not stay at home counting up the blessings he had shared in; for, self-interest or self-ease he knew nothing of, when the Lord's anointed was driven out of his land, and obliged to take refuge across the Jordan. As to the proffered reward, Chimham his son might accompany David; he desired to stay and die among his own kindred. Old age, with the prospect of death not far off, thus effectually opposed the fulfillment of the king's wishes. “Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward? Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. But, behold, thy servant Chimham: let him go over with my lord the king: and do to him what shall seem good unto thee.”
Who could refuse such a touching request? The king answered, “Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do unto him that which shall seem good unto thee: and whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do for thee.” “Do thou to him what shall seem good unto thee” had been Barzillai's prayer. “I will do unto him what shall seem good unto thee” was David's promise, reaching beyond the modest request of his servant. And more than this, he told him he had gained the king's ear. What a place was this to occupy! Honor, wealth, rank, are nothing compared with this. To be with the king was David's wish for him, to have the king's ear was that of which David now assured him. Thus they parted, but not before David had kissed him and blessed him, and that on the right side of Jordan. The river had been re-crossed; the king was again as sovereign in the land of Canaan, when he kissed him and blessed him. All Israel could see that day whom the king delighted to honor. The multitude were right in escorting back king David, but Barzillai had done what others had not. These were around the monarch in the day of his return, Barzillai had been with him when they had cast him out. Hence the difference between them and this devoted servant of Rogelim.
In time Barzillai died, and perhaps this scene and all connected with it was blotted out before long from the remembrance of many in Israel. There was, however, one heart from which the remembrance of Barzillai's service was never effaced; the king never forgot it, and Solomon his son was ever to remember it. Occupied after his return, as David was, with many important concerns, be with his latest breath yet spoke of this service at Mahanaim, and commended his sons to Solomon's special care. (1 Kings 2:7.) Before David and Solomon, types of the Lord on His throne, the sons of Barzillai had a place, not of distance but of distinguished nearness, for they ate bread at the king's table, and feasted in the king's presence. Never, then, whilst David lived, was this service forgotten, nor, whilst Solomon reigned, was it to sink into oblivion. David as king had portioned it out, Solomon, who ascended the throne without David's death intervening, was charged to continue it. To Rehoboam nothing, we read, was said about it, for he was not a type of the Lord on His throne, the Solomon character of whose reign will continue to, the end. Faithfulness to the Lord's anointed in a time of general defection was never to be forgotten, such devotion was never to be unrequited.
For how long did the remembrance of all this last, attested by the reward bestowed on Chimham the son? As long as the kingdom lasted in Judah, so long was there a witness of the king's approval of such conduct. For not only did David give Chimham a place before him, but he assigned him a portion in the city of the king's birth. In the city of his father's house Chimham owned a possession (Jer. 41:17). Barzillai was of the tribe of Gad, the eldest son of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, but Chimham had henceforth a portion in Judah, the fourth son of the Drat wife Leah. And, till the kingdom of Judah was terminated by the Babylonish captivity, Chimham's portion by Bethlehem was an abiding witness of Barzillai's faithfulness, and of David's acknowledgment of it.
The application of all this history is plain, and we understand the reason that it has been preserved. Very evident are the points of resemblance, but marked too are the contrasts. David was hindered by Barzillai's age from acting as he would toward him, and his hasty action regarding Mephibosheth tells us we have only a man like ourselves before us. But nothing can hinder the Lord Jesus rewarding as He will all who have followed Him in His rejection, and none will suffer injustice at that day. He will confess them before His Father, and before His angels, and the company of heavenly saints, who have served Him whilst absent, shall be with Him on high, as those of earth shall be before Him, when He reigns over the house of Jacob forever. (Luke 12:8; Rev. 3:5; 7:15; 14:1.) He will have been found to have been in their thoughts, they shall be before His face when He takes to Himself the power and reigns.
C. E. S.

Bearing of the Failure of the Church on the Institution of Elders

It is a sophism, and a sophism having the most antinomian tendency possible, to say that, because the law that founds the institution or the dispensation cannot be other than it is, therefore the thing that is founded cannot be corrupted. Nothing can abrogate the authority of that which has been said on the part of God; but if man has entirely failed with regard to it, and if thus a thing which required the power of God to establish it fails in the hands of men (the kingly power among the Jews for example), the pretension to re-establish it is a false pretension, derogatory at the same time both to the judgment which removes the ruined thing, and to the authority of God which alone can establish it. Now I say in the most distinct manner, that the dispensation is not yet brought to an end, and that it will continue to the end of the period ordained by God, until Christ leaves His Father's throne.
The only question is this: if, on account of the iniquity of man” God has in truth set aside institutions which His authority alone had established or could, can man, without His authority and power, set them up anew, when it is a question of things which depend either on His authority or on His power? Is it meet for the church to disown the judgment of God, and without His authority to rebuild what has been destroyed, even though the dispensation still exist?
Thus the kingly power, the Urim and Thummim, and the visible presence of the glory, finally prophecy itself, were wanting to the Jews after their return from the captivity. Did the Jews pretend to be able to re-establish them? We well know that they did not. Nevertheless the dispensation was not definitively abolished.
And now it will be understood to what I apply the word “antinomianism.” It is when, on account of the authority of a law or an institution, regarded as a rule established by God, one seeks to destroy the consequences of man's responsibility, when man has failed in the obedience due to the law, or corrupted an institution which was entrusted to him. The kingly power amongst the Jews, the Lord's Supper amongst Christians, are institutions of God. But they are things entrusted to man; both have been corrupted: the one has been abolished among the Jews; the other has not been abolished amongst Christians. He who would have pretended to set up again the kingly power among the Jews would have fought against God; he who purges the Supper from the corruptions which man has introduced uses it with blessing.
Now I say that the church has failed in faithfulness. Corruption has come in; many things have been lost; the church is responsible for it. There are things which it can still enjoy, and there are others which it cannot re-establish. It is admitted that tongues, miracles, inspired prophecy, apostles, gifts of healing, and many other things perhaps, are lost to the church. The institution of elders had been corrupted in the hands of men. Looking at it from our opponents' point of view, it had been transformed into the seat of the deepest corruption which has ever existed, and of the most awful tyranny of which the world has ever borne the yoke. By mixing ministry with it, it has become the clerical hierarchy. Now, not in order to establish the rule of the institution on paper, but in order to invest persons with the possession of this authority which should rest in the institution, there must be some source for this authority, some persons who, according to the institution of God, according to the rule which subsists in the word, are authorized to establish them. For example, there were none at Geneva; they established some. Do I pretend that the law, the rule of the institution, no longer exists? Just the contrary. I take the rule of the institution, a rule given in the New Testament, and I find that, according to this rule there was a source of authority, on which the whole force of the institution depended. This source is wanting now. It is then said to me, The rule, the law, is there. I know full well that it is there; that is why I reject your so-called elders, because they are set up in open opposition to the rule given by the word.
I am told that we are agreed as to the fact that certain things have been lost among the Jews; and others in the Christian dispensation. Well: the existence of the law of an institution does not therefore imply the existence of the institution nor the possibility of its re-establishment.
Throughout the New Testament it is proved that there were apostles. The word proves that there were elders; but it also proves that the churches had not the power to make them, for the institution is expressly based on apostolic authority, and, instead of commanding the churches to appoint any, the apostle sent Titus to establish them; a clear evidence that he did not commit this task to the churches. Such is the immutable rule of the institution, the law which cannot be corrupted, which, thanks be to God, does not change, and which you have violated—you that pretend on your own authority to act the apostles and the deputies of the apostles, so as to invite Christians who hardly dared to do so to arrogate this right to themselves, in order to spare yourselves an act which, if directly done in your own names, would have rendered apparent your incapacity and want of power to do. Now, in order to strengthen us against the irrefragable proofs that the thing is positively contrary to the rule of the institution, we are told “It was therefore needful that the apostles should give institutions to the church, which might go on after them and without them. It appears to us that, had they not done this, they would have failed in their mission.” Happily you are not in God's place to judge them, although it would seem you think yourselves competent to do so.
Allow me to tell you that the church, which went on badly enough with them, has gone on very badly without them, and that the institutions which they gave to the church have not gone on without them, unless you call the horrors of papacy the progress of the apostolical institutions.
The endeavor is made to persuade us, in the face of the church's history, that the apostles necessarily gave institutions which should go on without them. Is it possible to imagine such arguments as these? Poor apostles!
Hence, therefore, the use of the word law is only a wretched sophism, because a man in whom an institution is realized is not a law; and not only is a law necessary to establish a man in that position with the authority of God, but also the authority for doing so must be vested somewhere: otherwise it is not with the authority of God, unless it be a divine mission which is legitimate itself by its own power, as that of the prophet; but there is no occasion for a nomination.
No; by wearying the patience of God with his sin, man cannot reduce Him to the incapacity of using His laws. The execution of the just judgment of God is not want of power. When I say “He can no longer make use of them,” it is only the expression of the feeling contained in the words “until there was no longer a remedy.” Sin has reached such a point that God can no longer bear with it. Is this want of power? No, it is holiness. Such an argument is really not worthy of an answer. Can God use fallen Adam, such as he is, for the kingdom of His glory? Is it imputing to God a want of power to say that it is impossible? Does the apostle accuse God of powerlessness, when He says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and that God has introduced something better in the Second Adam?
Corruption is not a law of God. Man, under the law of innocence, was an institution of God: corruption has come in; the institution is marred, corrupted, ruined; it has not been immediately abolished by God, but it has not been re-established. God has introduced something better. Can there be anything plainer or more evident? Well, that is the law of man, one may say, of every creature placed under his responsibility, without being sustained by direct power from God. God was pleased to show this under every form, without law, under law, under promises, in the priesthood, in the kingly power, in the presentation of His Son to the husbandmen. The institutions were according to God; man has always failed in them, and, save that they are to be made good in Christ, the institutions, as ordained of God, have been set aside one after the other. The weakness of man, of the creature, has been proved. I do not believe that the elders of form any exception.
But to say that “the dispensations are not responsible for the whole of men's actings with regard to them” is to say, if the phrase has any meaning at all, that even when men have failed, to whatever degree it may be, with regard to the institutions under which God has placed them, their sin will be no reason for God to put an end to the dispensation which receives its form from those institutions. And I say that such a system is iniquitous, antinomian, and unscriptural.
There is another idea which I wish to take up. “The written word now designates them [the elders] by making known to the churches the brethren who are fit for these offices.” First, it was not to the churches that the apostle made them known, but to those who were employed by him to establish these brethren in the bosom of the churches which were not competent to do it. But this is not all.
If the word pointed them out then, there was no need of Timothy or Titus. And if it be the word that designates them, in this case all those who have these qualifications are designated by the word. Every man who is blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous, one that “ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;” all persons who have these qualities are designated; and, the word having designated them, there is no election, there is no nomination (that is to say, designation). The system of choosing of elders falls by this very fact. All those who are such are nominated with the same authority as if an apostle had set them apart. Now, if this be the case, the thing is done, and they who accept them without choosing them, are nearer the truth.
If the apostle had appointed elders, would it have been the church's place to choose them afterward, to nominate them, or do whatever it might be, except to obey? Clearly not. If the word designates or establishes them with the same authority that the apostles did, you have nothing to do, except that the apostles did something that the word does not do, and which you pretend to do with apostolic sagacity and authority. Paul, Barnabas, and Titus did something besides pointing out the desirable qualifications. They never designated the elders to the churches in an abstract manner by qualifications. Such a designation has never been addressed to a church.
I said that “the New Testament dispensation will, without any doubt, accomplish the period assigned to it.” We are agreed that the period is not accomplished. As a deduction, it is said “Consequently the New Testament and the institutions which concern the formation, government, and service of the churches exist in full force.” Why so? The period of the Jewish dispensation was not fulfilled before the coming of the Savior. Were all the institutions of God in full three? The kingly power, prophecy, trim and Thummim, the presence of God in the temple, the ark with the mercy-seat, on which was put the blood which maintained the relationship of God with Israel, was all that in full force? But I shall be told, The things were found in scripture. Granted; but what does that prove, except that your reasoning from beginning to end is only a miserable sophism, which seeks to destroy the responsibility of man, and the consequences which flow from the fact of his having failed as to it? These things of which I have just spoken were lost, lost on account of the sins of men, although the end of the dispensation had not yet come. Man could not set them up again. The fact that they were to be found in the scriptures was only the humiliating proof that the Jews had lost them through their sins.
This is not the place for discussing the extent of the new covenant, nor its relations to the Christian dispensation; but I do not believe that the new covenant is set aside, because the Jews will be brought in again by means of this covenant, when the church is in heaven. If the covenant were set aside, the dispensation founded on it would necessarily fall at the same time; but God, by taking up the church to heaven and by rejecting the order of things which has existed in connection with it on the earth, can deal with Israel on the ground of the covenant founded on the blood of Christ. The church, properly speaking, the body of Christ, is not a dispensation; it does not belong to the earth; but there is an order of things connected with it during its sojourning here below—an order of things whose existence is linked with the church's responsibility. The dispensation of the new covenant is, properly speaking, the millennium on the earth, as it is easy to be convinced of by reading the prophecy of Jeremiah who speaks of it. But, the blood of the covenant having been shed, Christians enjoy the practical and spiritual effect of what has been done (and this even in a more excellent way than that in which the Jews will enjoy it in the age to come), although the Jews as a nation have refused to avail themselves of it.
But if, according to the general language of the Christian world, we call the present order of things a dispensation or economy, it has not yet been rejected, as I have already very plainly said. It does not follow from this that Christians have not lost some things which they cannot again re-establish, nor that they are not guilty, and already, in the main, guilty of that which, in spite of the longsuffering of God, will bring down judgment and cause Christ to sew the whole system from His mouth.
Let us now see how the question is presented through the use of the word “law,” to the exclusion of “covenant and institutions.” It is said, “God punishes the sinner, but He does not abrogate His laws on account of sins.” And who imagines such a thing, if it is a question of abrogating the authority of the law? But God certainly has set the whole covenant of the law aside, and the whole system from beginning to end, viewed as being the principle of God's relationship with man on the earth. No one would dare deny it, not even an unbelieving Jew, who suffers the consequence of it. He expects something better—the corning of the Messiah. To pretend that the change has not taken place is folly; it is the denial of Christianity: to present the thing as if it meant that God abrogates His laws because man has sinned is a wretched quibble, worthy of the cause it is employed to uphold.
Then it is said that, since I acknowledge that the New Testament dispensation is not yet at an end, and that the new covenant consequently still continues, “it is a strict duty of obedience for the churches, to return to what it teaches no doubt according to the measure of what is possible.” Certainly, as far as regards my walk in the position in which God has placed me; but the question is quite different here. This is it:—Am I placed by God in a position which authorizes me to establish elders? and where ought I to establish them? In every town? This is truly what Titus had to do. You are not therefore in the position to which these instructions are addressed. This is what I deny—your authority. Your teaching here is, however, very harmless. Obedience, according to the measure of what is possible, you say, is a duty; and you affirm that it is possible to fulfill it. There is only one thing you have forgotten here, namely, that the word possible is a relative word, and that it answers to the power of him who acts. It is your power that I question. One may have the pretension to appoint elders; this is certainly according to the measure of what is possible. But the question is this: When you have appointed them, can it be said, “The church of God,” “over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers?” If you cannot say this, what is your appointing worth? What I doubt is your power to do it.
You say you do not pretend to re-establish that which may have been lost through your fault; yet time was when you had no elders, but now you have some. But this is not all: there is the deplorable indifference to a loss which ought to awaken the conscience of every true Christian. You say, “But it is not a question of knowing whether God withdrew blessings from Israel on account of their sins; that which it is important to ascertain is, whether the Mosaic dispensation continued until the coming of Christ.” And, again, “No doubt God, in consequence of the idolatry and sin of Israel, withdrew His glory, as well as the ark, the Urim and Thummim.” Although He had withdrawn all these, you say, nevertheless, “If, therefore, the ordinances of the law were maintained after the captivity; if Israel were called to serve God by their means....” But is it possible to treat such a subject with such levity? No doubt, God bore with Israel; but He had from the time of Isaiah made the heart of this people fat. The glory with which all the ordinances were connected had been withdrawn; the ark, over which was the mercyseat, by means of which Israel as a people were reconciled; the Urim and Thummim, by which the high priest knew the will of God when he presented himself before Him—all these had been withdrawn. And you dare to say that it is not a question of that? Is it not a question of knowing whether the glory, that is to say, the presence of God, was gone from this people? This was perhaps neither an ordinance nor a law, but did it not change anything? Is it not important to ascertain whether the glory was there or not? But was not the act of putting the blood on the mercyseat an ordinance, the most important ordinance of all? Was that maintained? The temple was empty, deprived of the presence of God. If the pretension to maintain that ordinance had existed, it would, in fact, have been like the appointment of elders, for God was not there. But with my opponents it is not a question of that: what it is important to ascertain is that the dispensation is not at an end. And when the high priest inquired of God by Urim and Thummim, was not this an ordinance of the law? Was it maintained after the captivity? The word in Ezra and Nehemiah proves that these mysterious signs were wanting.
All that gave any value to the priesthood of Aaron, the presence of Jehovah to whom he drew near; the ark, which was the throne of God, and the sprinkling of the blood (on the great day of atonement) by which propitiation was made; the Urim and Thummim by which the high priest received the answer of God for the people, and directed all their affairs—all this was gone. But it is not a question of these! the point is to know whether the priesthood of Aaron was abolished after the captivity.
The case is not the same; for if the priesthood no longer existed according to God's order, Israel could not have re-established one; and that is what you pretend to do with regard to elders. Moreover your remarks throw great light on your thoughts. If you can maintain the form and the official importance of your position without the presence of God, without any of those things which give it force, until the end of the dispensation, you will be satisfied. That the priesthood of Aaron be without the glory in the temple, without the true mercy-seat and without means of atonement, without Urim and Thummim, or the knowledge of God's thoughts, is all the same, according to you; it has its official place: this is what it is important to show. Remember, good sirs, that it was this which brought in the ruin of Israel. The tree was dry, the house was empty: what had God to do then? But you come off nearly as badly about the beginning of a dispensation as you do about its end.
You say, “The apostles did not institute a central power in the church.” This is perfectly true, and the reason of it is very simple: they were themselves that power. And when the twelve at Jerusalem ceased to be such, Paul was it. He established elders in every city, he sent Titus to act, because he was invested with central power in the church assembled from among the Gentiles, invested with this power by Christ Himself. Thus, after all, you are in the beaten path from which the Spirit of God is bringing out Christians. The thing becomes clear enough. There is nothing like searching into truth. You long for independent churches. This is the whole secret of the matter. You say, “They, on the contrary, constituted churches independent one of the other.” This is your whole affair. You cannot deny that the apostles and Paul, in the sphere which God assigned him, exercised a power over all the churches (that is to say, a central power); you cannot deny that the church was one, that the gifts were members of the one body, and were exercised in the unity of this body manifested on the earth. The churches, whilst exercising their discipline each in its own locality, exercised it in the name of the universal church, and there it was valid. Gifts were placed in the church, not in churches. The whole body was but one. But that which you uphold is shown to be only the fancy to have independent churches. He who has drunk old wine does not immediately desire new, “for he saith, the old is better.” The unity of the body is set aside.
You say, governmental authority resides in the scriptures: a singular seat of executive power! Laws are found there; but governmental authority is not a law, although it may act according to law.
Who replaces the apostles? According to you, all the faithful in each locality replace this central power, which certainly did exist, and to which those who were of God listened. But in vain do I seek for some proof that such authority was entrusted to all. You do not and cannot say now that Christian assemblies have the right to choose them, and that it is their duty to do so, but you do not quote any passage.
“They rightly believe that, in so acting, they do a work pleasing to the Lord.” This is all you have to say. And then you proclaim, “We have just seen that the churches have the necessary authority for designating their elders and their deacons.” But you must feel the ground slipping from under your feet, and that the whole building is ready to crumble. You wish to prop it up. You say, “The apostles made use of the form of election, they chose Matthias.” Is this a proof that we can choose apostles? You overthrow all your arguments by this example; for, were this example worth anything, it would rightly authorize you to choose apostles. But things did happen thus. The qualifications were plainly pointed out. It must be men who had followed the Lord from the baptism of John; then they set two before the Lord (ἔστησαν δύο) who answered, as one must believe, to those conditions. But they did not dare to choose between the two, and they drew lots. You have altered the sense of the word by saying, “They chose Matthias,” and “This presentation was then confirmed.” They say “Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship.” How dare any one thus alter the word? But all is well, so long as one can maintain one's position.
Deacons were elected: we have spoken of them elsewhere. It was a temporal matter, with which the apostles refused to burden themselves; just as Paul, in another case, wishing to remain free from all reproach, refused to take the brethren's money, unless some one from amongst themselves were chosen to take charge of it with him. But what has this to do with the overseers of the church, who are the servants of God? The deacons were servants of the church, as Phoebe, servant of the church at Cenchrea. They chose deputies at Antioch. You must be much at a loss for quotations, if you are obliged to quote this passage. These were occasional deputies in order to put a stop to a tumult in the church, and this has not the slightest connection with the permanent authorities established over the church, and there is not a word said of their nomination. They decided that Paul and Barnabas, who had argued in vain against the judaizing Christians, should go up, and others with them, to Jerusalem. How were they appointed? There is a perfect silence on this point. I think it very probable that they were chosen by general consent, since they were their deputies. There is not a word which says that they were appointed by lot.
Then you say that the end of 2 Cor. 8 “shows us also brethren, who labored for the glory of the Lord, and who were deputies of the church, being elected and chosen by them.” This is a singular paraphrase. How embarrassing when one attempts to prove a thing which does not exist! They labored for the glory of the Lord. Now, I ask you, for what work were they chosen by the churches? You will tell me, We do not say. Well, neither does the word. And what then do you wish to teach by introducing it? The word is very simple, is it not? It is a pity that you are not so. Doubtless, this cannot be, with the system which you have adopted “rightly,” as it appears, but without the word. The word says that one at least of these excellent brethren was chosen by the churches for the administration of the money sent to Jerusalem, the apostle having refused to take charge of it unless there was one with him, so as to avoid the possibility of a single reproach. And what has all this to do with the choice of the regular authorities of the church, with reference to whom we have passages which you have not quoted at all?
Why, without multiplying questions, did you not draw attention to Acts 14? There it is spoken of the nomination of elders, and this is not the case in any of the passages which you have quoted. Why not mention the passage in the Epistle to Titus, where the apostle clearly speaks of this? Would it not have been more natural, when it is a question of elders, to quote passages which speak of them, than to multiply quotations from passages which do not speak of them? You dared not do it. These passages say exactly the contrary of what you wish to persuade us. There were churches in Asia Minor: the apostles chose for them. There were churches in Crete: Paul sent Titus to establish some in them.
You tell us that ecclesiastical history leaves no doubt on this point. I do not allow that ecclesiastical history is any authority; but whatever the value of its testimony may be, it very plainly contradicts what you say.
Here are the words of Clement, or rather of the whole church at Rome in whose name he writes. There were divisions at Corinth on the subject of elders. The church had set aside certain elders, as claiming the right to do so according to the principles which I contest. In his epistle, 1 Cor. 4:2, “The apostles evangelized us on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus the Christ did so on behalf of God. The Christ was sent on behalf of God, and the apostles on behalf of Christ. The two things occurred regularly therefore according to the will of God. Having therefore preached through divers places, in the country, and in the towns, they established their first-fruits to be overseers and deacons among those who should believe, having, by the Holy Spirit, found them worthy. And there is nothing new in this.” Then he quotes the choice of Aaron by the direct testimony of God in what happened to his rod. “And our apostles knew, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be disputations with regard to the name of the episcopacy. Therefore, having received a perfect foreknowledge of this, they established those of whom we have previously spoken and then gave a legal order of succession, how that, when they fell asleep, other approved persons might receive their ministry. Those therefore who were established by them, or afterward by other eminent (renowned) men, the whole church approving them these we esteem wrongfully deprived of their ministry.” Here we have the question expressly treated by one who was a companion of the apostle, who acted in the matter, who was a successor of the apostle as far as any one could be such, and one who is in every way the highest possible authority on such a subject. What he says to be the history of the matter is confirmed by the whole church of Rome, and he declares that the apostle had foreseen the difficulty, and that, when the Corinthians were pretending to exercise the very authority claimed by the Evangelical church at Geneva. He declares that the apostle had established elders and a form of succession; then that other men of repute had established them, the whole church being satisfied with it. It is impossible to have anything clearer or more positive, in ecclesiastical history, to contradict the assertion of my opponents.
I examine Mosheim. He tells me that it is scarcely to be doubted, if one considers the prudence and moderation shown by the apostles in appointing an apostle and then the seven, that the elders of the primitive church at Jerusalem were elected by suffrages of the faithful. Then he says that, when an elder was needed, the body of elders recommended one or two persons to the assembly; and in a note he says that Titus 1:5 proves nothing against it: Titus might have consulted, and doubtless did in reality consult, the wishes of the people. This may be so. It is however quite another thing from a history which, as you wish to persuade us, leaves no doubt that they acted by way of election. And Mosheim is so far from thinking of an election, that he makes use of what he believes to have occurred in order to justify what he calls the right of presentation, as not being repugnant to the practice of the primitive church, adding that a similar right was always acknowledged as belonging to the bishops and the collective body of elders, and he alleges it to the end that he may show that popular election is thoroughly bad. He says, nevertheless, that the people might refuse those presented.
Neander says that one may conclude, from the choice of deacons and deputies, that the church chose other functionaries also, but that, where the apostles had not confidence in the churches, they gave the important office of elders to those who were fitted for it. Then he quotes Clement, to show that it might be the custom for the elders to present a successor in case of death. Where the consent of the church was not a mere form, this might be very useful. The fact is, if one takes history, the only thing which cannot be doubted is that one must be an episcopalian. The reader who is desirous of studying this subject may consult Cyprian's letter 67 or 68, where he seeks to attach the utmost importance to the part which the people took in the election of a bishop, in order to make use of it against the authority of the Pope, against whose acts he was striving. As to the priests, it appears from letter 40, that he ordained them himself alone, and that he then informed the people of it, but this was in a time of persecution. In other letters he excuses himself for so doing on account of that, saying that the testimony of the people was no longer necessary when God had given His, inasmuch as he when he had ordained had confessed the Lord at the peril of his life, but that, when he had entered on his episcopate, he had imposed upon himself as a rule never to do anything without the consent of the clergy and people. So that what you say of history is entirely contradicted by the data with which the old authors furnish us. At any rate, as regards authority, this has only ecclesiastical authority.
It is a question of commencing the existence of a body of elders. The word and history positively declare that it was the apostles who appointed these, and subsequently eminent men. Clement of Alexandria says that when John returned from Ephesus, he, being invited, went through the neighborhood inhabited by Gentiles, establishing bishops (say elders), constituting churches, and placing among the clergy every one of those who were indicated by the Holy Spirit (Eusebius iii. 23, quoting Clement of Alexandria, “Who is the rich man that shall be saved?”) That elders were elected by the faithful is certainly what ecclesiastical history does not state. The idea of presentation (the testimony of the people being received, or, at least, the thing being done in their presence) is what is best established.
Consequently Cyprian makes all the faithful responsible as to this, and tells them that they ought to separate from a bad bishop little by little; this was the cause of a struggle between the two. For a time the people chose them, at least in Italy; blood was shed, and one may say, that there was a civil war. And mark this, it was on the subject of bishops. I know of no testimony which states the election of elders. Certain is it that we have some who relate their appointment differently. The earliest authorities attribute it to the apostles (Clement of Alexandria), or to the apostles and eminent men, all the people consenting to it (Clement of Rome). In the fourth century the people often chose their own bishops, and candidates often canvassed for the office; there were conflicts between the bishops and the people, as in the case of Martin of Tours; or there were factions, as at Rome, in the case of Symmachus. Between these two epochs the forms differed according to circumstances, but episcopacy was established.


“One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Things which once existed in their own abstract significations between God and man, and which maintained their distinctiveness, revolving so to speak round their own centers, have been marvelously brought together in Christ, and inseparably connected by His work on the cross, with the counsels of God before the world was, and our blessing. Take as an example the great fact, that “mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” It is not that truth has ceased to be truth, or merged itself into mercy, so that the native character of each is destroyed, any more than the possibility that righteousness could change itself into peace; but, on the contrary, a new foundation has been formed between God and His creatures in and through the cross by which “grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
So with the attributes of God, such as His holiness and justice; or rather what He is as light and love. How could they cease to be what they are in themselves? Nor can they admit of any changes in their exercise towards mankind, else they would fail to be perfect as displaying the character of God. Each is in its nature what each was, but each finds in the blood of atonement what each needs for its vindication, in the fullest exercise towards us. Moreover, each is further bound up with the Lord's own perfectness henceforth.
But that new action of God towards Him in raising Him up from out of the dead! All that God is, as well as all that we were in our sins, have not only been concentrated in Him-in His life and death-but by means of death and judgment He has separated the evil from the good forever, by putting away sin through the sacrifice of Himself. Thus He has left nothing but the good and what God is in unspotted holiness, with the blood of His Son our Lord and Savior before Him, and sprinkled upon us as His rule. So as regards life and death, death and redemption, redemption and resurrection between God and ourselves. Not only has each got another and a new meaning in Christ to what they had in themselves, as viewed in the light of promise or by Levitical type, but they are brought together in the person and work of Christ; so that the distance which naturally existed between them is done away.
For example, at the cross and sepulcher, three days serve to measure the distance between death and life, death to the old man and life in the new. And these same three days now close the once vast space of His incarnation, when it stood in promise and type between our redemption and His resurrection. Forty days serve to mark the period of time when the last Adam was born out of death, and the hour when He was carried up into heaven in a cloud as the ascended Lord—the glorified man—head over all things to the church which is His body.
Again, if days and years are brought away from their ordinary computation by time, and put in connection with the Lord and His coming, or with the day of God and the final dissolution of the heavens and the earth, faith's reckonings become like His and we readily believe that “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” It is this new method of calculation which enables us to declare as to this apparently long interval which measures His absence, “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise as men count slackness, but is longsuffering to usward.” The difference between these standards (which are either divine or human) makes the difference which we are contemplating.
Indeed everything between God and ourselves is thus brought into new and close connection through Christ the Second Man, both as to facts and times: and, when learned in their existing order and meaning, by acquaintance with His person and work, gives another character to the ways of God with men, and their thoughts of Him. The cross and the sepulcher here, and the Son of man at the right hand of the throne above, are now become the only established centers of God's everlasting operations in grace towards us, and in righteousness to Christ, and for His glory. These same centers are the resting places of our faith as regards sin put away and righteousness brought in, and sustain the soul in a known peace with God that passeth all understanding, keeping the heart and mind through Christ Jesus. These centers are also the birthplace of our brightest hopes and expectations, for Christ is the alone object between God and ourselves. He will accept no other rule of action toward us, in redemption or resurrection for Himself, and we disown every other as the ground of our confidence and hope before Him. It is by Christ—this Christ—that we believe in God who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God. J. E. B.

Christ on the Throne of God

Heb. 1:3; 8:1, 2; 10:12; 12:2
There is no point perhaps which the Spirit of God takes more pains to press in writing to the Hebrew Christians than the connection of the throne of God with the Lord Jesus. And the immense weight of such a relationship must be evident on the least reflection to one who knows what God is and what man is. There are two things that the Jew as a Jew never acknowledges. It was their great difficulty when unbelief began to overspread the nation, and it is the great lie of Judaism up to the present day.
The one is that God came down to man—God really and truly came down to man and not that He merely made a revelation of Himself. This they could easily believe. All their old polity was founded upon a manifestation of the divine presence; but a real personal presence of God upon earth, to have God becoming a man, truly a man, is foreign to Judaism as such. The system of its Rabbis cannot abide it, utterly refuses it, and perishes in its war against it.
But there is another grand truth also to which Judaism is equally opposed: not that God came down merely, but that man was to go up and be with God. Judaism as such finds all its place upon the earth. It is essentially for the world; and even in its best shape it is earthly, not heavenly. According to God's intentions about it and the glorious counsels that He has yet in store for Israel, it is the blessing of Israel upon the earth, though I do not deny that after all the dealings with the earth are over, they, as all other believers, will have their portion according to a changed condition in the new heavens and earth. But still, speaking of the course of dispensations on the earth, Judaism finds its place not in the heavens but here below. Therefore there was an immense barrier in their minds against the thought of a man being in heaven. Accordingly, in writing to the Hebrews, the Holy Ghost sets Himself to give the strongest possible expression to these truths, and that, too, founded on the ancient divine records which the Jews possessed. Psalm 110 has a very important connection with the whole doctrine of the Epistle to the Hebrews, as it was used on a most critical occasion by our Lord with the Jews in Matt. 22.
The Lord Jesus is viewed in various lights as seated on the throne of God. In chapter 1 it is connected with the glory of His person. The Messiah was divine. It was not merely that He was raised there, that God exalted Him above His fellows, though this was true; but He was God. He who was a man was God; He who was God deigned to become man. And now that He is gone up to heaven, He is not gone up as God only, but as man. In Him God therefore had come down and man had gone up. He had not ceased to be God; He could not cease to be what He is, but He had carried humanity on high, now bound up with His own person forever, humanity itself in His person being on the throne of God. It is this too which is shown here to be bound up with the work that He has done. For it is evident that the value of the work in the sight of God depends on the glory of the person that did it. It is so even among men. The man who supposes that an action depends merely on itself, and not also on the person who does it, knows nothing as he ought to know. The same words from persons of a totally different character, and of different measures of dignity, would have and ought to have altogether another effect. Now this shows what an immense source of strength and blessing, for the Christian, is the holding fast the eternal glory of the person of Jesus. So it is said here, He is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His subsistence.
Observe by the way, it is not the express image of His “person,” because each person was Himself; the Father was Himself, the Son Himself, and the Holy Ghost Himself. Christ is never said to be the express image of the person of Father; He is the image of the invisible God. The word that we have here is given nowhere else. It is “subsistence.”
“And upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins.” Creature could not mix in it; that divine and glorious person undertook the whole work alone, and He would not take His seat otherwise than as having perfectly accomplished it. He would only sit down there “when he had by himself purged our sins.” Then and not before—not till sin had been perfectly put away—did He sit down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Thus our sins are gone according to the perfectness of the place of glory in which He is now seated. The Lord Jesus has not merely taken His seat on the throne of God as a divine person. He was and is evermore a divine person; and had He not been so, He could not have taken His seat there as He did; but He is glorified on that throne because He had, and when He had, by Himself purged our sins. What a perfect witness to the absolute putting away of sins for the believer! Thus it is that God graciously, but with perfect wisdom, binds together our faith in His personal glory, our perception of His present place as man, and the joy of the perfect abolition of our sins before God. You cannot separate them. If one of these truths is shut out, there is weakness about all the rest. If one lets go the glory of Christ, how can he henceforth realize the efficacy of His redemption in the remission of sins? If you hold fast His personal glory, you are entitled to know forgiveness according to the glory of His seat on the throne. If He was glorified on that throne after He had taken your sins on Himself; it must have been because they were all absolutely borne away.
But the throne is used in quite another way in chapter 8. We were once enslaved by sin and we have still to deal with it, though entitled by Christ's death and resurrection to count ourselves dead to it. For believing in the Lord Jesus, and in the forgive ness of our sins by Him, we are in living relationship with God, our sins blotted out and our sin judged in the cross. Consequently sin is regarded as foreign to us, because in the nature in which we are in relationship with God, there is no sin, and the other nature is a constant encumbrance which we learn to look upon with hatred. But as we have the old nature still as a matter of fact, though delivered from it by faith, so we are liable to Satan's using the world to act on our flesh. Consequently we need a priest, and we have a priest—the best priest that God can give, the only priest that ought to be confided in. “We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” There we find the glory of our Priest; the very same glory is bound up with His priesthood as with His atonement and His person. And we find that as a priest He could not be on a less place than the throne of God. God has seated Him there. Such is the witness to the glory of Him who intercedes for us and is engaged to bring us through the wilderness.
But in chapter 10 we have the combination of the sacrifice with the priesthood. “This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” It was not a temporary seat, because the sacrifice was absolute in its consequences, and in virtue of this He takes His seat permanently, or in continuity, on the right hand of God, to prove that there was nothing else that needed to be done as far as the blotting out of our sins was concerned. No doubt He will descend from heaven to receive His bride to Himself, as also to judge the world. But as to the question of purging our sins, He will never rise from that throne. His being there is the pledge of sin being put away. As I look up at the throne and know that the Son of God is seated there, I ought not to have one question about my sins being gone. There are those who think that this would diminish our present abhorrence of sin; but it is an objection of unbelief; not of holiness. It may have an appearance of jealousy for what is good; but it really flows from ignorance of God and unbelief of the power of the sacrifice of Christ. For the believer the ground of hatred of sin and of guarding against it lies not merely in our having a nature to which sin is an aversion, but in the certainty that the victory is won before we start in our course as Christians. Therefore our business is to walk consistently with the truth that our sins are gone. If we trifle with sin after that, we lose sight of the deliverance which Christ has wrought for us; we are showing human nature far from God, and so far walking in unbelief of the blessed place into which Christ has brought us by His blood.
But there is a fourth place in which the throne is introduced. In chapter 12:2 Jesus is set down at the right hand of the throne as the witness that God is against the world and for Him whom the world cast out, the Captain of faith; not merely the sacrifice or the Priest, but the perfect pattern of faith as a man here below. Now as such He was a sufferer. The more faith, the greater the suffering. The Lord Jesus was not only the object of faith for others, but He deigned to become a man (and a man of faith) Himself; and, as a man, He had all the suffering as well as the joy of faith, as it is said here, “Who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” It was not what He was going to receive, but His own grace that brought the Lord here. He had all things and needed nothing that could be given Him. Nor is it even true of the Christian that reward is the motive before him. The Christian does not start upon his career on earth, because of the glory he is going to have in heaven. It is always the effect of divine grace made known to the heart, and this alone which separates from the world and delivers a man from himself. It is the absolute work of redemption. He knows he is starting with God's favor, and he has the encouragement of the glory at the end of the course. It was the fullness of love that brought the Lord down. But when here in the midst of sinners and of rejection and failure all around, this was what sustained Him in His errand of love; “for the joy that was set before him (he) endured the cross, despising the shame.” And here we have the answer to it on God's part: He “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” and this just when everything appeared to be ruined; for the very last thing the world saw of Jesus was His cross. Apparently as far as man could discern, a total victory was gained over the Son of God. God's purposes appeared to collapse in the cross of Jesus. He was the only righteous man, the only righteous judge, the appointed governor of the world; yet He had not the throne but the cross. He was the Messiah of Israel, yet the despised and rejected of men. He was the object of faith to the disciples, yet they all forsook Him and fled. All appeared to be one mass of ruin and failure. But faith looks not to the earth, nor to man, but to God: and it sees that the man who was rejected and crucified by the world is set down on the throne of the glory of God. And when the moment comes for God to display Him in glory, how He will reverse every thought of man, and prove that faith alone was always right! And faith is only right because it is the answer in man's heart to the revelation of God.
The Lord grant that, rejoicing in such a Savior and in such a portion as we shall have now in hope if not in present possession, and actually glorified with Him by and by, we may look through all present shame and sorrow with joy to that throne whence He will come to receive us to Himself in the Father's house.

Christ the End of the Law

Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. The two righteousnesses are then contrasted. Moses describes the one, saying, “The man that doeth these things shall live by them.” The law was man's righteousness; it was God's perfect rule for a creature. It required man to give a righteousness to God; if he did, he lived by it.
The righteousness of faith, on the other hand, brings a righteousness to man. A man has not to ascend up to heaven, to bring Christ down from above; He has come down even to death. A man has not to go down into the deep, to bring Christ up from the dead; He has risen: God has raised Him. A dead and risen Christ are set forth as the display of God's righteousness, in direct contrast to human righteousness, which would be keeping the law. We have seen what the righteousness of faith does not say; now let us see what it does say: “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach, That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” With the heart man believes unto righteousness; with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, as scripture says.
Man confounds human and divine righteousness together; God distinctly divides them. We have seen man's righteousness is, “The man that doeth these things shall live by them.” Christ, as man, fulfilled it; but that is not the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God, or the justice of God (for it is the same word), is His own character as such, displayed in His own acts, viz,, the death and resurrection of Christ (see also Psa. 71:19, 20), and handed over in Christ to the sinner who lays hold of it by faith, and is justified by it. Truly, O God, thy righteousness is very high; as high as heaven: no one can reach it! But God Himself has come down to settle His own claim: Christ has been delivered for our offenses, and God has Himself judged sin itself, in the person of His Son, on the cross. He has shown Him great and sore troubles on account of man's sin. I look at sin; I look at the dread darkness; I hear the bitter cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I see the blood gush forth; I ask, Why is this? The only answer is, sin is the cause. God there judged sin in the flesh on the sinless One. I say, That is righteousness! It is the Judge passing judgment. God's righteousness against sin is displayed. I look again: I hear a great earth. quake; the stone is rolled away from the sepulcher; the guards become as dead men: I see a holy, spotless One—holy and spotless as ever He was—rising from the dead. I ask, Why is this? I hear the answer, Righteousness requires that that man who has glorified God in every way, whether in life or death, should be given the first place in the glory. Who is that man? It is Christ, the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven. He of God is made unto us righteousness. God and man are linked together in one person, even in the person of the Christ. They were ever together from the incarnation, but in one man. There is no such place for us except in resurrection. (John 12:23.) On the cross I see the sinner's substitute—marvel of marvels—forsaken of God. The veil is rent, and access is given to every sinner who believes in Jesus, into the very holiest. The believer's position is now Christ before God. Thus God is for us, as revealed in His own acts in Christ. Faith appropriates it all, and gets Christ's position before God. Is Christ dead? the believer is dead. Is Christ risen? the believer is risen. Is Christ the righteousness of God? the believer is made the righteousness of God in Him. With his heart he believes unto righteousness; with his mouth confession is made unto salvation. He believes, he is not ashamed; he calls on the name of the Lord, he is saved.

Christ the Link Between the Old Testament and the New

The Christ, the Messiah, or, which is but the same word translated, the Anointed, was to come and present Himself to Israel, according to the revelation and the counsels of God.
But this character of Messiah, although the expectation of the Jews scarcely went beyond it (and they looked even at that in their own way, merely as the exaltation of their own nation, having no sense of their sins or of the consequences of their sins),—this character of Messiah was not all that the prophetic word, which declared the counsels of God, had announced with respect to the One whom even the world was expecting.
He was to be the Son of man—a title which the Lord Jesus loves to give Himself—a title of great importance to us. It appears to me that the Son of man is, according to the word, the Heir of all that the counsels of God destined for man as his portion in glory, all that God would bestow on man according to those counsels. (See Dan. 7:13, 14; Psa. 8:5, 6.) But in order to be the Heir of all that God destined for man, He must be a man. The Son of man was truly of the race of man—precious and comforting truth!—born of a woman, really and truly a man, and, partaking of flesh and blood, made like unto His brethren.
In this character He was to suffer and be rejected; that He might inherit all things, He was to die and to rise again, the inheritance being defiled, and man being in rebellion—the co-heirs as guilty as the rest.
He was, then, to be the Servant, the Son of David, and the Son of man, and therefore truly a man on the earth, born under the law, born of a woman, of the seed of David, heir to the rights of David's family, heir to the destinies of man, according to the purpose and the counsels of God.
But who was to be all this? Was it only an official glory which the Old Testament had said a man was to inherit? The condition of men, manifested under the law, and without law, proved the impossibility of making them partakers of the blessing of God as they were. The rejection of Christ was the crowning proof of this condition. And, in fact, man needed above all to be himself reconciled to God, apart from all dispensation and special government of an earthly people. Man had sinned, and redemption was necessary for the glory of God and the salvation of men. Who could accomplish it? Man needed it himself. An angel had to keep and fill his own place, and could do no more; he could not be a savior. And who among men could be the heir of all things, and have all the works of God put under his dominion, according to the word? It was the Son of God who should inherit them; it was their Creator who should possess them. He, then, who was to be the Servant, the Son of David, the Son of man, the Redeemer, was the Son of God, God the Creator.
The Gospels, in general, develop these characters of Christ, not in a dogmatic manner (that of John alone having to a certain degree that form), but by so relating the history of the Lord, as to present Him in these different characters, in a much more living way than if it were only set before us in doctrine. The Lord speaks according to such or such a character; He acts in the one or in the other; so that we see Him Himself accomplishing that which belonged to the different positions that we know to be His according to scripture.
Thus, not only is the character much better known in its moral details, according to its true scriptural import, as well as the meaning and purpose of God therein revealed, but Christ Himself becomes in these characters more personally the object of faith and of the heart's affections. It is a person whom we know, and not merely a doctrine. By this precious means which God has deigned to use, truths with respect to Jesus are much more connected with all that went before, with the Old Testament history. The change in God's dealings is linked with the glory of the person of Christ, in connection with which this transition from God's relations with Israel and the world to the heavenly and Christian order took place. This heavenly system, while possessing a character more entirely distinct from Judaism than would have been the case if the Lord had not come, is not a doctrine that nullifies, by contradicting, that which preceded it. When Christ came, He presented Himself to the Jews as, on the one hand, subject to the law, and, on the other, as the Seed in whom the promises were to be fulfilled. He was rejected; so that this people forfeited all right to the promises. God could then bring in the fullness of His grace. At the same time, the types, the figures, had their accomplishment; the curse of the law was executed; the prophecies that related to the humiliation of Christ were fulfilled; and the relations of all souls with God—always necessarily attached to His person, when once He had appeared—were connected with the position taken by the Redeemer in heaven. Thence the door was opened to the Gentiles, and the purpose of God with respect to a Church, the body of the ascended Christ, fully revealed. Son of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from among the dead, He was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. He was the firstborn from the dead, the head of His body the church, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.
The glory of the new order of things was so much the more excellent, so much the more exalted above all the earthly order that had preceded it, as it was attached to the person of the Lord Himself, and to Him glorified in the presence of God His Father. And at the same time that which took place put its seal upon all that had preceded it, as having had its true place, and having been ordained of God; for the Lord presented Himself on earth in connection with the system that existed before He came.

How Men Oppose Christianity and Why

The love of objections is one of the worst moral features possible. It is quite right to weigh them, and see that one is well founded in what the soul builds on. But there is moral proof in the power of an object to produce (where the soul is capable of feeling) affections which are the moral reflex, in a rightly-constituted mind, of the object itself, and which are thus the proof of power, because the fruit of power. Now where this is the case, the love of objections is only the proof of insensibility to the power which attracts and fixes the soul. It is moral incapacity to estimate what is excellent. The qualities displayed in the object do not convince and silence cavil. Why? Because the heart is incapable of estimating, by its own sentiments, these qualities; perhaps it does not like their superiority. This is infidelity.
There is another thing—that when the object is known and valued, the moral aim of the infidel is judged. “Their device is only to pull him down whom thou wouldest exalt.” The sagacity, and here the spiritual sagacity, of affection easily detects this. “Give God the praise!” The modern compliment of infidels also, “As for this man, we know that be is a sinner,” will not bide it. There is a kind of reasoning which flows from being the subject of power, which infidel Pharisees cannot reach. Theirs only creates astonishment, by its evident nonsense, to the simple mind who knows the power. “Why herein is a wonderful thing, that ye know not who he is, yet he hath opened my eyes.” There is no mistake then.
The skeptic may ask, “What has this to do with scripture, or an historical document?” He is found there. No doubt the skeptic has not found Him there; he does not know Him. He says, indeed, to the evangelical—imitating language he has heard—that he has tried both; he has a double experience—the believer's and the infidel's. But this poor imitation (of what converted persons, who have come to the knowledge of Christ, have said) is too miserably transparent to be anything but the shame of him who uses it. What did he experience at the first? The effect, on his own showing, of believing a lie—of supposing true what had no existence in truth. “A deceived heart hath turned him aside: he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” Let not the language seem hard. The skeptic declares it is a lie; and that Jesus is not the Messiah. What was his first experience? “To any ‘evangelical' I have a right to say, that while he has a single, I have a double experience.” Now how can he tell what the effects, “the spiritual fruits,” of a living knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ are, since he does not believe there is such a person at all? His only past experience was, as he avows, a wholly false one: I ever hope it may not have been. “Spiritual fruits,” in his case, are not those of the true knowledge in power of the Lord Jesus. He never had such; for if he really knew Jesus to be the Son of God, it was and must have been because He was so—if He was so, He is so. Now the skeptic declares it is, and hence was, all a delusion. His “spiritual fruits” were the fruits of a delusion, of belief in an imposture. Think of a person coolly speaking of this in his own case! To what a state of moral reasoning, of moral susceptibilities, must he be reduced!

Christianity Objective, Not Subjective Only

The Lord says, that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, which should come, should take the things that were His, and show them to them; and all that the Father has is His. All the infinitude of the unseen heavenly, and, I may say, divine world, was to be revealed, and that in the intimacy of the relationship of the Father and the Son, so that we should have fellowship with them. And no man had gone up there, but He who descended thence. He could speak what He knew, and testify what He had seen—declare the Father as in His bosom. He and He only had seen the Father; but this is truth given by the Spirit (all of it, even what Christ said). All is lost; instead, we are to have the spirit or conscience assume the throne intended for Him in the soul, and draw from the storehouse of youthful experience, and legislate upon the future without appeal, except to himself; a law which is not imposed upon us by another power, but our own enlightened will. All that God can give of the heavenly blessedness of the Son, now a glorified man, is lost, forever lost; and man is only to seek the development of what is within man.
And this rejection of objective religion is as unphilosophical as it is unchristian; for all creatures must be formed by objects. God alone is self-sufficient. He can create objects in the display of His love; but He needs none outside Himself, a creature does. Man has no intrinsic resources within himself, whether fallen or unfallen; nor even angels. Take away God, what are they? Nothing or devils. So man; if money is his object, he is avaricious or covetous, at any rate; if power, ambitious; if pleasure, a man of pleasure; and all other objects are judged of by the ruling one. In every case of a creature, what is objective is the source of the subjective state.
In Christianity this is connected with a new nature, because the old will not have the divine object which characterizes, and is the foundation of faith; but the principle remains unchanged. “We all, with open [unveiled] face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.” See what a magnificent picture we have in Stephen of this: in a remarkable way, no doubt; but still exhibitory of it morally, as well as by a vision. The whole question between Christianity and rationalism is brought to an issue. The progress of human nature, with the very elements spoken of, and the contrasted result, is stated. “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” There is the relationship between man and the Spirit. Next, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which have shewed before of the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.” These were their ways with those who unfolded the law in a more spiritual manner, and with the great living witness of perfection Himself. Such was man—flesh in contrast with the law. Such was his state: he always resisted the Holy Ghost. Now note the contrast of the objective spiritual man. “Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, looked steadfastly up into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” And what was the effect, the subjective effect, in one full of the Holy Ghost, of his objective perception of heavenly objects? In the midst of rage and violence, and while being actually stoned, in all calmness he not merely bears, but kneels down and says “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” So Jesus: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Then he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” as Jesus had said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” He beheld, with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord, and was changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. But how full and complete a picture—man always a resister of the Holy Ghost, under law, not keeping it, with prophets, persecuting; with the Just One, a murderer; with the witness of the Holy Ghost gnashing his teeth and slaying in rage! Christianity in contrast—a man full of the Holy Ghost, seeing Jesus the Son of man in heaven, changed into his image, and killed by man, falls asleep, Jesus receiving his spirit!
The rationalist goes over this ground, rejects Christianity as an external revelation (that must be a law), takes up exactly the same elements as Stephen, and declares that man is progressively educated by them to do without that which Stephen enjoyed. Which am I to believe? Yet I have but coldly sketched the elements of thought; I must leave you to meditate over it and appreciate the beauty and spiritual importance of it. It is a most enchanting picture, and the deepest moral principles are contained in it. But scripture is a wonderful book. This was a vision, no doubt; but what Stephen saw is revealed, and written for my faith to act on.
The rejection of Christ in the world made evidently a turning-point in the world's history, as to the proof of what it really was; and the history of Stephen shows man resisting the testimony to Christ's heavenly glory, as they had killed Him when He was the witness of perfection and of God on earth.
There is a silent witness to the divinity of Jesus, and while truly and really a man, a contrast between Him and all other men, which has profoundly interested me. When man is blessed, morally blessed, elevated, he must have an elevated, and, indeed (to be taken out of self) a divine object before him. Jesus was the object even of heaven, instead of having one. When Stephen is before us, heaven is opened to him as it was to Jesus; but he sees the Son of man in the heaven, and this fixes his view, and lights up his regard with the glory he saw. Heaven is opened upon Jesus, and the angels are His servants; He sees it opened, and the Holy Ghost descends—witness that He is Son of God; but He is changed into no other image by it; He has no object to which to look up, but heaven looks down on Him, and the Father's voice declares, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
We enjoy these revelations of His person; but the declaration that the Word was God, and many such like, is a declaration which has authority over my soul. I make God a liar, as John speaks, if I do not believe it; and so I can use it with others. God has declared it. He that believes not has made God a liar, because he has not believed the record which God has given concerning His Son. He that believes has the witness in himself. And all these traits which clothe, or rather reveal, the beloved person of Him who was humbled for us, are ineffably sweet; but the positive declaration is of all importance too.
In a passage alluded to, note two other ways in which Jesus is presented, besides the actual declaration that He was God and the Word made flesh. (1) He gathers round Himself. If He were not God, this would be frightful, a subversion of all truth, a destructive impossibility: He would turn away from God. He accepts this place. All that is attracted by what is good flows around Him and finds there its perfect and all-satisfying center. That is God. No one else could or ever did do this, except in sin or violence. The Church can say, Come and drink, I have the living water; so she has, but not come to me. This marks the spirit of apostacy. The stream (blessed be God!) flows there, but she is no fountain to which to go. This must be divine, or it is false. But, mark, this is a new gathering by a divine revealed center, not the educational progress of the race; it is the opposite, though blessed instruction for the whole race. (2) The other way Jesus is revealed is in the words, “Follow me” —the same perfection; but now, as man, there is a path through this world of evil. It is one, only one—following Christ. There can be no way but a new divine one, yet necessarily a human one; there is no way for man, as man, in the world at all. When Adam was in paradise, he did not want a way. He had only, in blessed and unfeigned thankfulness, ignorant of evil, to enjoy good and worship. When man has been cast out, and the world is grown up away from God—away in nature and will, there can be no way in a rebellious world, in a sinful corrupt system, how to walk aright, as in and of the world, when its whole state is wrong. But if what is divine comes into it as man—what has motives not of it, nor of human nature, though truly man—if it gives a path in which the divine nature is displayed in grace and holiness in these circumstances, yet always itself manifesting what it is in them, now I have a way. I follow Him, truly, in everything, a man; but a man displaying divine qualities in the ordinary circumstances of human life. He says, “Follow me,” but when He has said, “Ye are not of the world, as I am not of the world,” He goes into glory, sanctifies Himself even externally, in His ascension, from the human race, that we may be sanctified by the truth.
But it is the beauty of Christianity, that being objective, being truth, “the truth shall set you free,” and a person, “the Son shall set you free.” It works effectually in those who receive Christ, and requires no intellectual development to receive its power. Christ is received into the heart, and, dwelling there by faith, produces the effect in us. Yet it takes us out of ourselves, because it is objective, and we, filled with delight in an object which is perfect, are like Him.
It is divine wisdom. Man would produce virtue by the love of virtue in himself; but then he thinks of himself, and all his virtue is rottenness. God gives us a human but divine object, and our affections are divine, because we love what is so, and we are morally what we love; but we love it in another, and are delivered from self. I would just add, that I believe that this adaptation of the character of walk to our entirely new position in Christ is what is meant by “created again in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has afore prepared that we should walk in them.” Hence, we are the epistle of Christ, engraved in the fleshy tablets of the heart by the Spirit of the living God.
The very starting point is opposite. Christianity treats man as a fallen being, not merely as imperfect but as departed from God, and needing a new nature and redemption. Christ meets Nicodemus at once on this ground.
The rationalist or infidel system takes in Christianity by the by, as it does Greece and Rome; but man, as he is, is to be educated.

Church Establishment and Church Endowment: Part 1

SEE 1 Corinthians.
The attention of the Lord's people has been largely directed of late to the Epistle to the Romans, with a view of showing the summary it contains of the responsibilities of Jew and Gentile before God, and yet the common level upon which they both stood. “They are all under sin.” Besides this, there is a further judgment pronounced by the righteous God upon the great fact of man's enmity, as expressed by the cross and the betrayment of Christ, by which “every mouth is stopped and the whole world brought in guilty before God.” Moreover, when tested by the standard of what was due from the creature to the Creator, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Nothing but the grace of God could take advantage of a crisis like this, and make it the opportunity of introducing righteousness in its new association with Christ in grace, “whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,” to declare at this time His righteousness, “that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”
God Himself is here seen in the new circle of His own delights, saving the lost, pardoning the sinner, justifying the guilty, because of the work of Christ on the cross, and His having been “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” With what delight do the redeemed listen to the voice of the Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, as He challenges the whole universe around Him: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?” “It is God that justifieth,” silences every fear. “It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,” is the ground of our largest confidence and the guarantee for our boldest hopes! We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be firstborn among many brethren.
The God who suits us for Himself and for His Son in the eternal glory also fashions us for a correspondingly suited place while we are in this world: and this is the second part of the Epistle to the Romans. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service, and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” A Christian must in this way be modeled both for the heavens and for the earth, both for time and for eternity. He is called out by grace to take no other place than with Christ above and with a rejected Lord below; but how far short of this vocation in its twofold character the Christians of to-day have fallen, each heart alas! knows for itself.
The immediate purpose of this paper is not however with the Romans but with the Corinthians: only it was necessary to preface the subject with these remarks, since Paul throws open the church doors at Corinth to the beloved of God and the called saints of Rome. A comparison of the opening verses of these epistles will show the difference now pointed at, and in application we shall discover that it requires a first-rate Roman Christian to make a really good Corinthian churchman. To the first Paul writes, not as a gathered body, but “to all that be in Rome,” &c.; whereas, to the last he writes “unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” These are recognized as worshippers, and their first act of Christian faith is, as gathered round the person of the living and risen Lord, the Head of the church, to call upon His name, &c. The Romans were instructed in their epistle how they were called and made saints and sanctified in Christ Jesus, so that they were prepared individually to be gathered on the very threshold of 1 Corinthians for church employment upon proper church ground, “with all in every place who call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” This platform is wide enough to embrace all the sanctified in Christ Jesus, and yet exclusive enough to shut out all who are not redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
In pursuing our examination of this 1 Corinthians, we shall find that the first eleven chapters are occupied with the important subject of true church Establishment, and the remaining part with the engrossing question of real church Endowment; but closing all up by the glorious chapter xv. of resurrection as the only and proper hope of the church of God on earth. How important a matter this is, in all its parts, at a time like this, and for Christendom generally, need not be insisted on.
Let us now follow this 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, as the successive chapters lead us; and first of all notice, yea, and associate ourselves with, that new source and measure of church blessing and benediction, “grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,” as the only proper standing of called saints, and of the sanctified in Christ Jesus. Should there be a doubt on the heart of any worshipper, as to his title to take this place before God, let every such misgiving be reproved, as he reads in this same chapter, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” What a new object has the Father's grace found for us in this Son of His own love, and our Savior Jesus Christ! may we not fail in our part, to “glory in the Lord,” by an unreserved acknowledgment of all that God has made Him to be by resurrection from the dead. But connected with this encouraging exhortation there is likewise a stern prohibition, “that no flesh should glory in his presence;” and may the Holy Ghost, who dwells in us, keep us as mindful of one as the other, in our new church relations, which are thus opening out to us In chapter 2 we are instructed respecting “a wisdom of this world, and of the princes of this world, that come to naught,” and “the wisdom of God which he ordained before the world unto our glory, which none of the princes of this world knew,” &c. Let us connect these important facts together. In the first chapter “man in the flesh” is cast out of God's presence, and the Second man, the Lord, is the only object of glory. Here we get as a consequence of this, the wisdom of the world, and its powers set aside; and another wisdom connected with Christ introduced, “which God ordained before the world to our glory.” This wisdom (which was once a mystery) is now revealed by the Spirit of God, that Spirit which searcheth the deep things of God; and this Spirit we (the redeemed) have received, “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth,” &c. Had the princes of this world known the ordained wisdom of God, and Jesus the Lord, in whom this mystery was embodied, and developed, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Here we are taught the distinction between the Church of God, and the world; and what it is which really constitutes and measures the distance between the two in time and eternally, a solemn fact in the government of God and for the consciences of His saints.
Everybody admits the interest which attaches to laying a foundation stone and the ceremonials which are attendant thereon. Be it so: our chapter iii. calls us to witness such a thing, but infinitely more grand since God lays it; and the apostles and the master builders are gathered round this new foundation, “the pillar and ground of the truth.” As we approach we hear it said, “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” And see inscribed upon Him, “a sure stone, a tried stone, a precious stone, and the chief corner stone,” and the top stone to be brought out with shoutings in that day when He fills all earth and heaven with His praise. In the meanwhile we add, “this is the Lord's doing, and marvelous in our eyes.” Let us further examine this church architecture, and the designs, and hear from the lips of Paul “according to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” And again, “if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire: and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.” What a solemn and searching word, for a day when church extension is on everybody's lips, and commended on all sides! What must that church be which is no longer the city set upon a hill which cannot be hid? and where is that church of which the Lord says, “because thou art neither cold nor hot I will spue thee out of my mouth?” Over the entablature of the true church at Corinth was written, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Sharp cuttings and inscriptions follow, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise.” And again, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, he taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” We will only take a glance at our church bequests and then pass on to chapter iv. “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your's; whether Paul, or Apollos, Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.” These are our church benefactions.
We are now led to the offices in the church and to church dignitaries, but only to receive our new lessons as to these also. “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” Astonishing as it is to see men brought into this nearness to God, put into the church as the new vessel of witness and testimony on the earth, yet how plainly does the world shew itself to be the self-same world as regards this church and its ministers, as it was before, when its princes crucified the Lord of glory! “For I think,” Paul says, “that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake; we are made as the filth of the earth and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.” There is not only a church and a world in this epistle, but each is true to itself and the distinction as obvious as between Christ and Belial. These ministers could say, “Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat.”
In the next chapter we are taught what church discipline is, and why it is to be exercised and how. “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.” The Lord will not suffer us to be inconsistent even with ourselves as “unleavened;” and this is very wonderful, though all such acts get the authority and sanction of His name. Here let me observe that, as on our entrance upon church standing and true Christian worship we were seen “calling on the name of Jesus Christ and our Lord,” so here, when in the church and exercised in church discipline, it is “when ye are gathered together,” and “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the only but all-sufficient source of blessing and of power. From these our responsibilities in the church of God flow. “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” After this, will any plead for the allowance, much less the admission, of “a little leaven,” whether in corrupt doctrine or in loose practice?
Chapter 6 instructs us in our new behavior as regards the exaction of our natural rights. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” It is important to observe the contrast between the Holy Ghost's teaching in the church and the teaching of Moses under the law. If an injured man puts himself in connection with the last named, he will be justified in exacting “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;” but if he puts himself at the feet of Christ, he will be taught another lesson. “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil;” or, as we have it in our chapter, “Now, therefore, there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” Our separation unto “the kingdom of God” is likewise intended here, and our connection with it is made the motive for actions which correspond therewith “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived. neither thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” The liberty is equal to the subjection. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” The bondage of self and the body, with the thousand claims it makes, are set aside, and true Christian liberty affirmed in our new allegiance to Christ in life. “The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? and he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” If any inquire by what methods such an emancipation has been effected, our chapter supplies the answer. “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Again, if self is no longer to be the object, nor the body our rule, to whom do we belong, and whose are we? “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body [and in your spirit, which are God's].” Such are “the members of Christ,” and these new “temples of the Holy Ghost” on the earth, both engaged and possessed!
Chapter vii. treats mainly of the states and condition of life in which a man or woman may be living when called of God to the knowledge of His Christ and our Lord. For example, “The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband else were your children unclean; but now are they holy;” as also, “He that is called in the Lord being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: and he that is called, being free, is the Lord's servant.” So as regards marriage, if any step out of the place in which he was called, and marry, “he hath not sinned,” nor she: only let them marry in the Lord.
In chapter 8 we are taught how to conduct ourselves in reference to the knowledge that puffs up, and the charity that edifies, as applied to meats and drinks, and days and seasons, and things offered to idols. The governing and absorbing fact for Christianity is, “To us there is but one God, the Father, by whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” So that charity may pass into its own region, and delight itself in seeking an object upon which to spend itself for its good and edification. Mere knowledge on diversities, such as are in question, puffs up. “If any man love God, the same is known of him.”
Chapter 9 gives the proofs of Paul's apostleship, not by succession nor by human appointment; but as be says, “Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you; for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” As to reward, “Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel, should live of the gospel.” And again, “What is my reward then? Verily, that when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my power in the gospel, and this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” His service and labor are disconnected from all human and secondary considerations: “For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.” He puts himself under responsibility to the Lord by a deeper self-judgment than ever, “that he might be temperate in all things, even when striving for the mastery.” Moreover, this responsibility becomes now a prominent feature of this epistle, and is extended to these Corinthians by the verse, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain.” Personally he closes with the solemn warning, “But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection; lest by any means that when I have preached to others, I myself should be cast away.”
Let us recapitulate a few of the important points which have passed before us in these nine chapters. We saw first, as regards man himself, that he was put aside as in the flesh, with all his pretensions, “that no flesh should glory in His presence;” secondly, that the wisdom of the world and its princes were set at naught; and thirdly, that the world itself was a worthless world, because it had lost the one chief treasure which God in grace had sent into it, and was given over to its prince. Consequent upon this rejection of Christ (but in fulfillment of the purposes of God) this Second man, the Son of God, has been exalted to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, and has become the center around whom the “called saints and the sanctified in Christ Jesus” gather together as one body, and on whose name they call, as the true worshippers, who worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. The church of God below has properly begun its life and history from the glorified Head above, an entirely new standing before the Father, through redemption by the blood of the Lamb, and called by the God of our Lord Jesus Christ to a portion with Him, and that we are quickened, raised, and seated in the heavenly places in our Lord and Head, to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air when He comes with a shout.
(To be continued.)

Church Establishment and Church Endowment: Part 2

But to return. Chapter 10 introduces us to church ordinances and a responsible people who take that ground before God as Israel did. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed under the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea,” &c. Professing Christendom has found at this point an entrance of ordinances and sacramentalism, the only points within the reach of man in the flesh and the craft of Satan, for who could touch Christ in the glory, or the real church of God, as one with Him there? But baptism and the Lord's table and the supper, with all their varied and significant meaning in truth, by the Holy Ghost, could be corrupted and turned round to suit mere human ideas of self-importance, and the subtlety of the enemy, who always revives and works by that which God has judged and set aside in Christ at the cross.
Who knew better than Satan that death had closed up all the relations between God and the creature, and by man's own act too, by which he had been not only the betrayer, but the murderer of Christ? Baptism was the great outward expression of this solemn fact, the end of man in the flesh. “Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized unto his death?” The enemy would not suffer such a testimony as this to proclaim to the conscience of Christendom the fact of death, and soon turned it round to suit his own ends, and by ways and means with which all are familiar declared baptism to express life, and thus affirmed that the baptized were regenerate by that ordinance, children of God, members of Christ, and heirs of the kingdom. Could there have been such a Christendom as this nineteenth century presents, if the scriptural meaning of baptism, and the Lord's table, and the supper had been kept before the heart in testimony as representing death, the death we had deserved, but judicially borne by the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered in our stead, the Just One for the unjust? How significant are the warnings of this chapter x. to people who still “sit down to eat and drink, but rise up to play.” With many of them God was not well pleased, but they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our figures or types. “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them tempted and were destroyed of serpents.”
There is a difference, at least so I judge, between chapters 10 and 11, though both are alike sacrificial. Nevertheless, I take chapter 10 to be characteristically “the table of the Lord,” and therefore separative in its claims (as representing His title) from everything antagonistic to the Lord in the world around us; “Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and the table of devils.” What little weight has Paul's challenge-” do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?"-upon the professing Christians of our day! Further, the table of the Lord is not only separating but uniting as respects the believers. “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one loaf.” We are many members, but only one body, of which the one bread which we break is the symbol. So the “cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” The body and blood of Christ are the only basis of assurance before God, and our communion one with another is on the common ground of the shedding of His blood.
The claims of the Lord upon us, founded on His rights and titles, extend from the table, as a new center, known by us in redemption, to “the whole earth and the fullness thereof.” All this is the Lord's, not asserted in creative title (though that be true too) but like Boaz who not merely had his Ruth but purchased the inheritance besides. We, believers, own the Lord's title to it all by resurrection, a title to be made good in divine power, when He comes a second time. Man in a state of nature, since Adam was driven out from Eden, is a trespasser, or at least an intruder in this creation, and is only in it by sufferance of God; but we are redeemed creatures, and owning the right and title of our risen Lord to the inheritance by redemption purchase, ask leave of no one to walk through the length and breadth of it, though we have not in fact so much as to set our foot upon. Whatsoever therefore “is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” our privileges as redeemed are new, so are our responsibilities; for this same Lord does not suffer us to do any longer the commonest things in an ordinary way, but says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” What an elevation, and what a motive is this! So also as to the style of our behavior in the Lord's inheritance, “Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” God had put aside man in the flesh, judicially in Christ on the cross; but now we see the redeemed putting self aside in the power of resurrection life, and in the Holy Ghost, so that we anticipate the day of our perfect blessing, and begin while on earth to sacrifice self for the profit of others, and for the glory of God.
This redemption of the inheritance, and the Lord's title and claims, introduce us to chapter 11, where we get the new creation order, when all will be manifestly established in blessing according to God. The old creation order was God and the man and the woman; and this standing upon creature responsibility failed; but only failed to make room for the reserve of God and the introduction of Christ into a new creation-order; “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” In this new order of headship, where the head of man is Christ, there is an end of all fear, for the head of Christ is God.
The supper follows this, and puts us into our places to feed upon the broken body and shed blood of Christ; or rather to be in that scene of judgment where in the understanding of our souls, in perfect peace with God, we are set to judge ourselves for the allowance or existence of anything in us, which Christ died to deliver us from, and which the judgment of God has condemned and put to death. It is a wonderful place to be set in, and to be told to judge ourselves, and that “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” of the Lord; and that even “when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” But besides, and beyond these matters of self-judgment, we are gathered round the Christ Himself who died for us, and to remember Him in His death-not the living, risen, and ascended One-the object of our worship, and on whose name we called in the opening chapter of this epistle-but the night of His betrayment, when He took bread, and broke it, and said, This is my body broken for you-likewise the cup—only now given out to us from the Lord in heaven by our apostle. It is necessarily with this addition, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” The church fulfillments of the death of Christ will be in our rapture into the heavens, and our being changed into His likeness, and our being presented in the presence of the Father's glory faultless and with exceeding joy.
Having considered in these eleven chapters the scriptural nature of the church's establishment, we now come to chapter xii. to the remaining subject of the church's endowment. Such a church as this epistle describes where (Christ is everything from the foundation stone, to the top stone; and where the truth of the person, and work, and death of Christ is taught doctrinally under the anointing of the Holy One, and sacramentally set forth by baptism, and the table, and the supper) could only be endowed by the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Therefore we read, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant;” and then follows the surprising catalog, or enrollment of what divine love could bestow on this new vessel of testimony on earth-the body of Christ. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord; there are diversities of operations but the same God, which worketh all in all.” What must the gifts be that spring forth from sources such as these, and how entirely independent and separate from any power under heaven, is this “church of the living God!”
Besides these diversities, which are necessary to the existence of a divine unity-there is the person of the Holy Ghost, which is beyond all His operations and gifts; “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.” We are all conversant with the diversities that make up and constitute the unity of the human body; and this is taken as a figure of the church in verse 12, “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.” Scripture only recognizes one body, the body of Christ, not a congregational or a nonconformist body of Christians-much less an evangelical alliance-or a baptist, or a methodist body, but “ye being many are one.”
As we saw just now, there are not many suppers but only one Lord's supper, and not many tables but only one table of the Lord. “For we being many are one bread and one body;” nor are there many churches such as Popish, Greek, or Anglican; but we are all one in Christ Jesus. “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels.... and not bolding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, maketh increase with the increase of God.”
As regards gifts, God has set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that, miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Such are some of the church's endowments. The purpose of this bestowment next follows in chapters xiii., xiv., which contain yet further direction as to their use for “the edification of the body.” In brief, it may be said that the gifts enumerated in chapter 12 need be baptized in the element of love, or the charity of chapter 13, in order to be rightly exercised for the edification and growth of the body, as described in chapter 14. The presence of a plurality of gifts in the assembly is recognized, and consequently directions are given for their exercise, affirming that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” and that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints, adding, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” How generally an ordained minister and his flock or congregation has been substituted for God's order in the church, it is not here my purpose to expose. Nor do I think, where human rules have introduced such a flagrant contradiction as is generally admitted in what is called “the faith and order” of established and dissenting communities, anything is wanted but an exercised conscience before God to find the sure way of relief, and an “open door, which no man can shut.”
We come now to the magnificent chapter 15 or “the resurrection” chapter, the proper close to such an epistle, because the church's translation into the heavens to meet her Lord is her present and blessed hope. Satan knew this right well, and turned this chapter round into a burial service, and rung over it the funeral knell of the departed, changing a resurrection out of death into a burial service unto death and the grave and corruption. Let us examine one or two leading objects; and in the first place, what was in question at Corinth? Not whether any died, but if there was any resurrection. “How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” The chapter is to prove a resurrection out of corruption, out of the grave, and out of death, and not a burial into them, which no one ever doubted. “Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming” are the key notes of this new chapter of our Christianity, which brings life and incorruptibility to light. Can it be called a burial service which introduces that great fact, “But now is Christ risen from the dead,” and affirms, “if Christ be not risen, your faith is vain, and ye are yet in your sins?” The enemy, who so successfully changed the meaning of baptism from death to “regeneration,” was equally skilful in turning this great revelation of Christ, and our resurrection into the heavens, into a funeral service and a requiem over the dead.
Further, this rising from among the dead on the part of the Second man by the glory of the Father—this rainbow which spans the horizon of our faith—puts the Lord by ascension into connection with His kingdom, in which He is yet to reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” The grand and distinguishing part of Christianity is the risen Son of man, the guarantee of the church's resurrection or translation to meet her Lord; the assurance too “that God has appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained: whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” How necessary it was for Satan that he should blind the minds of people to this twofold character of the resurrection is obvious to any exercised soul. An ascended Lord is the pledge to a believer that he can never come into judgment; whereas a risen Christ is the proof to an unbeliever that he cannot escape it. It is resurrection from the dead which has put the Son of man in his proper place of supremacy and headship of a new creation. It is by the future reign of the ascended One, as Christ and Lord that the kingdom shall hereafter be given up to God, even the Father, “that God may be all in all.” Henceforth let this chapter be owned as the record of our victories, for such in truth it is, since we can say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” And again, “Then shall be brought to pass the saying, Death is swallowed up in victory.” What becomes us to do, as we quit this triumphant arena of our conquered enemies, but to bow our heads and say, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ?” If things were with a saint according to the old law of nature, he might and would still prepare for death, and pay this debt, as some say; but with the sanctified in Christ Jesus all debts and liabilities have been canceled long ago at the cross, and we are brought by Paul into connection with the blessed hope of the Lord's coming. “Behold, I shew you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” Henceforth, there can be nothing common in the pathway of a saint. “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” Is there anything common in the pathway of our Lord? “As Christ is, so are we in this world.”
Our epistle closes with church commendations upon a new footing, so that “if Timotheus come, see that he be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.” Likewise with proper church salutations, “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” Finally, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.”
The Lord encourage His beloved people to step out of every system that will not bear the light and test of this epistle, and to accept the word which says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58.) J. E. B.

Church Membership and Gifts

In reading the Epistle to the Ephesians it is of the greatest consequence, doubtless, to notice the various subjects of which the Holy Ghost is treating, seeing it is God Himself, and “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,” whom it reveals, as come forth in the fullness of all blessing to the Son of His own love, and to those who are His.
It is however only one of these subjects which I desire to follow in this paper, and in the simplest way; so that I shall almost confine myself to the manner in which it is unfolded in each successive chapter by the apostle Paul. Let us then consider what this scripture teaches respecting the Church—the Church's Head and its members—the source of gifts for its edification and growth—and the Lord's care over it till He comes “to present it to himself a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”
Chapter 1:19-23 treats of the Head and the body, and speak only of Christ, as raised up into His place of Headship, by “the working of the mighty power of God, which be wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” It is of great moment, in these last days of establishing or disestablishing the national churches (so-called) of Christendom, to see that this Head of the Church which is His body can never be touched or tarnished by the wisdom or wickedness of men. Moreover, this scripture tells us that God “hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, of whom alone these wondrous actings of God are true, is therefore the Head of the Church, which is His body, and there can be consequently no joint or second head. The acknowledgment of this fact will be found to clear the minds of the simple of all difficulty and doubt as to the true and only Head of the assembly (or Church) of the living God.
Chapter 2 as plainly teaches how the body and its members are formed. “God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The members of this Christ, as Head, and therefore the members of the Church which is His body, are quickened persons, who were once “dead in trespasses and sins, and were by nature the children of wrath even as others;” but they have been born again, born of the Spirit, born of God, have life in the Second man, and are raised and seated in Him as the Head in the heavenlies. When the Lord comes, the members will be manifestly with Christ the Head, and be glorified together with Him. The mighty power, which wrought in Christ and raised Him from the dead, has been also put forth “to us-ward who believe,” and has quickened us out of the death in trespasses and sins where we once lay, and will be displayed a second time in raising or changing us into the image and likeness of the heavenly man presently.
These persons are members of Christ, the mystic man, members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. None else are members, nor is there any other membership; and to own or sustain any other is therefore to be false to the truth. There are not two memberships, nor two bodies, any more than two heads. What a deliverance would the Lord's people get if they were simple enough to give up every membership but this one which God alone can give, for it is He who has quickened us together with Christ as our Head, one as much as another!
Chapter 4 declares to us that the source of all gifts to the Church is in the Lord Himself as Head of the body, and flows from His love, which passeth knowledge. As regards the members of Christ “unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ,” and as regards the gifts to the body, “he gave some apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in 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 Lord is thus the only source of gift, in the heavenlies, though the Holy Ghost on earth, and especially in the Church, acts according to the Head, in carrying out these purposes, and in agreement with His own love. Besides this, it is “by one Spirit we are 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.”
A fact of great moment may come in here, though the record of it is found at the close of chapter 2 which is, that the Church on earth is “the habitation of God through the Spirit,” nor is there any other. Thus we learn from the scriptures, that the source of life and power and gift to the members of Christ is in the Lord, and that no one can make a pastor or a teacher, any more than an apostle; and that the members of the body in every locality are responsible for disowning any and all pretensions or assumptions from whatever quarter they may come. Nor is it enough to disown the false thing; but our privilege is to be maintained by owning the right, this one body, and one Spirit, as well as the sufficiency of the Lord's loving care to give all gifts that are needed, in order that the Church which is His body, may not fail in one particular on which He has expressed His mind and purpose. If the Lord's people saw how they were thwarting the action of the Holy Ghost in the Church by human arrangements and systems, and by parochial divisions of the sheep and the shepherds, through authoritative appointments of clergy, or the commoner forms of congregational elections, and ordinations; they would waken up to the discovery of the sad and general departure of the saints in the present day from every true idea of what the Church of God really is.
Chapter 5 declares the unchanging love of the Lord to the Church, for which He gave Himself “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.” This is what the Church is to the Lord, and He is the Savior of the body. He is coming to fetch His Bride away—His Eve—in the day when “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Were the Lord's people looking for such a presentation, and such a marriage, or such a Bride, or the coming forth of the Lamb who is to “present her to himself a glorious church,” how many a stirring thought would spring up in the mind, and how many searchings of heart would there be among them, as to whether each could not, by association with such a scene, get more into correspondence with the Lord's wishes respecting His Bride! He says, “behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me.” “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Would not a consciousness of His own deep love lead us on our part to reply, “the Spirit and the Bride say, Come?” And if He yet adds “he which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly,” may it only find this answer from the longing affections of our souls “even so, come Lord Jesus!” “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
J. E. B.

Church Ministry or the Epistle of Christ

See 2 Corinthians.
The object of the paper inserted in your recent number upon “Church Establishment and Church Endowment” was to bring forward from the First Epistle to the Corinthians the teaching by the Holy Ghost on those two important subjects, and to present them to the hearts and consciences of “the sanctified in Christ Jesus,” as a word in season for the perplexed, and to show the Lord's claim on their obedience. It yet remains to examine what the purposes were, on account of which “the church of the living God” was thus established and endowed; and these I desire now to trace, from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
Let me observe at the outset that the professing church has long separated in practice the necessary connection of these two epistles: necessary I mean if the Church was to be “the Epistle of Christ,” known and read of all men.
Gifts, and ministries, and endowments by the Holy Ghost, such as miracles and tongues, distinguished the Church as the vessel of display in the earth, and was the new proof how God could accredit and enrich this mystic Eve, the body and the bride of Christ.
Jehovah had bestowed much upon the beloved nation of Israel, and upon her prophets, priests, and kings; but it is to “the great salvation,” which began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; that God Himself bears witness, “both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.” Never was there such an opportunity for Satan to turn all these endowments against God as now, for God had never before put such things into the hands of man as His servants. As a consequence we are told by Paul in this epistle, “such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ; and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light,” &c. To the beloved Corinthians Paul said, “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us, and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.” Gifts, moreover, and ministries, were the proofs from the risen and ascended Lord of His love to the Church, for He gave them; and they were “enriched by him in all utterance and in all knowledge.... so that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
But besides the ascension and the coming of the Lord, there is the great, but forgotten, fact of a rejected Christ and the Christian's present association with his Lord and Master in that rejection by the world. This identification with Christ in suffering is what the apostle brings out in this second epistle and puts in the foreground. A mere glance at Christendom will show any thoughtful mind how its churches have contended for establishments and endowments, and gifts and ministries, though never reaching them according to the divine order of 1 Corinthians, and have entirely abandoned the idea of present participation with a rejected Lord, by their avowed union with the state and the world, which cast Him out and crucified Him.
With these introductory remarks let us now proceed with the Epistle itself; and observe how differently it is cast in all respects from the previous one. God Himself is presented as “the Father” of our Lord Jesus Christ, and “the Father” of mercies, and the “God of all comfort,” who comforteth us in all our tribulation, &c. Let it be observed too that this form of presentation is peculiar to this epistle and is necessary for the objects proposed, “that we might be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” The purpose of the Holy Ghost therefore is to skew the church of God at Corinth that they were called out into association with Christ their Lord on the earth as well as in the heavens. They were not only “to come behind in no gift” from the ascended One, but to come behind in nothing that faithful allegiance would bring them into with the rejected One, knowing “that as the sufferings of Christ abound, so our consolation aboundeth by Christ.” Human nature could thrive, and vaunt itself, and even make a gift of the Holy Ghost the pedestal for self-exaltation in the first epistle; but human nature can never connect itself with the pathway of our Lord, in the descending steps which brought Him down to the obedience of death.
Paul could say here of these Corinthians, “Our hope of you is steadfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” Such a path can have no attraction except for a new creature in Christ, as led by the Spirit into real discipleship with our Lord. It is only as our steps follow on in the footprints He made for Himself and left for us that we descend into the region where He once was, and lived, and glorified God. Let us ever remember that the consequences of our obedience are not our care, but the consideration of Him whose will we follow. It is at this point that the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort meets us; and it is here too that, as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation aboundeth by Christ. Paul could say, as to the trouble which came on them in Asia, “We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life; but we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” The two positions are remarkable into which the Spirit leads these believers. Here they are united in life and obedience with the humbled, rejected, and suffering Christ as their example; whereas in the first epistle they were gathered upon the confession of their standing, as the sanctified in Christ Jesus, calling upon the name of the living, risen, and ascended Lord, as worshippers with all in every place—both theirs and ours.
The enemy knows if he can separate these two parts of a whole Christ in the life of a believer (as he has done, by separating these two epistles in the history and ways of the Church on earth), he has spoiled all testimony for the Lord below; and consequently we look in vain for anything collective, anywhere, that stands unmistakably, as “the Epistle of Christ” known and read of all men.
The former paper treated mainly of Church Establishment, as connected with 1 Corinthians; but there is a very full and precious scripture in this, which speaks of Christ establishment and is its counterpart: “for all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” This is the circle of our present and eternal blessing, where God and Christ and the Holy Ghost are alike interested and occupied with us, till all things “shall be to the glory of God by us.” The brightness of this eternal blessedness opens itself out to the faith of all, and links itself peculiarly with the sufferings of Christ and with the sentence of death in ourselves.
Another grand subject of this epistle is “the ministration of the Spirit,” which is taught in the central chapters, from 3 to 7 and is properly introduced by the verses just quoted, as to our anointing and sealing. Before passing on it may be well to observe that this same scripture, which finishes with “the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts,” should be taken as a companion picture to that with which the first epistle opens, “of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who from God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” that he who glorieth, “should glory in the Lord.” In this last instance, it is what God has made Christ to be unto us, that we might glory in the Lord; whereas in the other it is what we are as established by that same God in Christ, and of which the Holy Ghost is the witness to us and seal and earnest. The soul will readily feel how necessary these two descriptions of our blessing are if we would understand who the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is; and how He has suited us to Himself by the work of Christ for us, and by the work of the Spirit in us, for His own present joy and the delight of His Son, and “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”
Here comes very fairly the question, What ministry has God in reserve for this new race of people” the sanctified in Christ Jesus?” and in whom is it to be opened out to them? and in what power can it be wrought out and ministered as the faith of God's elect? The chapters which now lie in order before us, supply the answers to these important queries. Historically there have been two ministries, with their respective ministers, and their ministrations; the first was introduced upon the earth, at Mount Sinai, by Moses, by bringing in the law, under which the nation of Israel bound itself by a covenant of works, “all that the Lord hath commanded us, we will do.” Whatever the outward glory was, with which this giving of the law was accompanied (so that even the mountain and Moses quaked) it was a ministry which claimed righteousness from man and was formally written and engraven in stones. In effect the law brought in the knowledge of sin. “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet;” and consequently it became “a ministration of condemnation” to all who were under it, and had thus accepted its conditions on the footing of their own responsibility. Rewards and promises to the obedient were out of the question, and in fact forfeited by the transgressors of the law of Moses; and its threatenings and curses were earned instead, so that this ministry became further (as stated in our chapter) a “ministration of death.” The law and its demands upon the people, expressed by the words “thou shalt,” and “thou shalt not,” and accepted by them upon the old covenant of works “do this, and thou shalt live, or do this, and thou shalt die,” has brought out the great fact that, if there “had been a law which could have given life, then verily righteousness should have come by the law.” The ministry engraven in stones consequently brought the knowledge of sin and condemnation and death; and equally proved that unless “the Spirit, and the water, and the blood,” found their way in by the grace of God, all were cursed, and under the curse.
The present ministry is from the heavens, and is founded upon the finished work of Christ upon the cross below, where He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. God has raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, by the blood of the everlasting covenant, and has crowned Him with glory and honor. Moreover, He has founded a new ministry, upon the worthiness of this Christ and Lord, “not of the letter which killeth, but of the Spirit which giveth life.” It is this ministry which Paul contrasts here, with the former, and which he characterizes as a ministration of the Spirit, a ministration moreover of life and righteousness and glory, from the living and exalted Son of man, at the right hand of God, by which we are brought into liberty, and are changed from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. This ministry by the Holy Ghost, from the heavens now—or when applied prophetically to the nation, and the Gentiles, and to the ends of the earth in the millennium—is based upon the blood of Christ—the blood of the New Testament; but this may, and does open itself out, as to the kind of blessing, to the heavenly and earthly people, according to the manifold counsels of God, and the place in which Christ is; whether as now hidden with God, or as by and by displayed in power and glory in the midst of the sons of men.
Promises, covenants, and types, and also prophecies had announced the Lord as the seed of Abraham, and indeed as the Son of David, and heir of all that God had bestowed upon his progenitors, to be substantiated when the Messiah comes again, and his people made willing, in the day of His power. In the meanwhile Jesus has been rejected, and all this earthly order is therefore in abeyance. Moreover, the veil is upon the heart of that people, until they shall turn to the Lord, and then shall the veil be taken away.
What can God connect, during this interval, with Him who has been declared worthy to receive all honor, and blessing, and glory, and power? It is here that Paul says, in our chapter: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God; who hath made us competent ministers of the new covenant.” Paul was himself arrested by this glorified Son of man, “to be a minister and a witness both of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear to thee.” In the wisdom of God there were purposes and counsels which lay hidden, as Moses testified, “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” It is these secret things, Paul says, which, “according to the revelation of the mystery, were kept silent since the world began, but now are made manifest and by the scriptures,” &c.
God had given away the earth, and had lighted up the path, which He was taking with His people through it, with types and promises connected with “the seed” and founded on the blood of the New Testament, which by and by will be ordained in the hands of the true Mediator, when the people of Israel shall be established under its blessings in Immanuel's land. God had nevertheless the heavens in reserve, and to give away to another and an entirely new race of people, when their Lord and Head had first taken His own place in them on the right hand of the throne of God. The Lord Jesus is thus to fill the earth and the heavens with His praise, and to lead not only His brethren after the flesh, and put them (as the true antitypical Joseph) into the land of Goshen; but likewise to carry the people of another standing and calling, into the Father's house which He is gone to prepare for them! God has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He hath purposed in Himself, “that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated,” &c.
Though our chapters in 2 Corinthians do not stretch out to such a circle as the Ephesians, yet they open to us the fact that, under this present ministry of the New Testament, we have a ministration from life, in the risen and ascended Christ, to life in us by the Spirit—as well as a ministration of righteousness from the Lord where and as He now is, who is our righteousness, and by which we are made the righteousness of God in Him. This ministry is personal, and essential to us as individual believers, that we may know how suited we are by our new creation for all that is prepared for us, as our portion with the Lord, according to the Father's purposes and counsels, in the eternal glory for which we wait, and of which the Spirit is the seal.
In the meanwhile this personal ministration of life is to produce by the Spirit of the living God, in the fleshy tables of the heart, “an epistle of Christ, known and read of all men” —moreover, an epistle (as Paul says to these Corinthians) written in our hearts. Here we may pause and put a question to our souls: Is this the ministry I recognize—a ministration of life, righteousness, and glory, from the risen and ascended Lord in heaven, and written not with ink, nor on a table of stone, but with the Spirit of the living God on the very heart itself? Or am I still entangled with the former ministry of Moses and the voice of words on Sinai and the claims of a law which rightly demanded righteousness and said, This do and thou shalt live? How different are these two ministries, and how lamentable to see thousands of the Lord's people wandering back into the old house of Moses, instead of accepting with joy this present ministration of life and righteousness as the only existing ministry between God and His beloved people! When will they take their proper places in the Church of the living God, and in the conscious liberty whereby Christ has made His members free, by redemption through His blood?
What other ministration can there be for those who understand what the assembly of God is on the earth, and what else could the craft of the enemy do than blind people to it, and get them back into the house of bondage, to lean upon ritualistic observances, of which, when at their best, God said, “I have no pleasure?”
Never let it be forgotten that the First Epistle to the Corinthians gives the present pattern of true church establishment and church endowment, and that this Second issues the only true church epistle, known and read of all men, and the only ministry that can produce it; that is, a ministration of life and righteousness by the Spirit of God, written on the fleshy table of the heart! May God emancipate His own people and bring them out from responsibilities and disappointments as under the law, to stand in the privileges of His own grace and calling and the accomplished work of Christ, by which they are put in a complete acceptance with the Father!
But to return. There is every now and then to be found in the epistles (especially when some new or extraordinary subject is introduced, like “this ministry of life” of which we are now speaking) a further revelation of God and of Christ, suited to the occasion, and which becomes the testimony of the Holy Ghost. If God acts in grace towards men in their sins, and to plant them in His own righteousness, it must be from Himself.
In this chapter 2, for instance, there is consequent upon this ministry such a change as carries us beyond the mere natural relations of God and man, for another person, the Word made flesh, has come in, “the daysman who has laid his hand upon both.” The preaching of what He did in redemption upon the cross, ascends up before God as a sweet savor.
Paul, as the apostle and witness to this gospel of the glory of Christ, “thanks God who led him about as in triumph, and made manifest the savor of his knowledge in every place.” Moreover, he and his fellow-workers “were unto God a sweet savor of Christ in them that are saved and in them that perish.” The relations and responsibilities of men spring out of this new ground likewise; for “to the one we are the savor of death unto death, and to the other the savor of life unto life.” This is what the acceptance or rejection of this ministry of “the gospel of the glory” involved. Adam, and the fall of man, are no longer the exclusive subjects, but the grace of God, through Christ, brought to such an one as Saul, “the very chief of sinners,” and presented to any like him!
But if God in grace, through Christ, is thus active in love towards sinners in their sins, “the god of this world” can also use this ministry of the new covenant for his own objects against mankind. “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” No power would be equal to such a scene of ruin and wretchedness as the wickedness of Satan has produced, unless the Creator God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness upon creation's chaotic confusion, had done a far greater thing and given by almighty power “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” to shine unto sinners dead in trespasses and sins.
Adam was created in the image of God in the Genesis of human life; but by this first man came sin, and death, and the long catalog of mortal woes. The last Adam has since come in, and by His atoning sufferings and death, has laid a new foundation for the operations of God in grace and righteousness. Redemption is become the new ground upon which God is displayed, and the second man in the heavens has taken His place as “the image of God” in them. It is from thence that Paul says, “God hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.”
How little is this gospel of the grace founded on the blood of Christ on the cross, below—or this gospel of the glory, from the right hand of God above, presented to the acceptance of the lost and the undone!
Man is either left to struggle with himself and his own corruptions in a state of nature; or banded up to Moses and the law, instead of to the cross where the old man has been crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed. In such a case there is no ground left for a believer to take as a standing before God than redemption, and none but the Second Man to whom he can be conformed now or hereafter. Besides “the epistle of Christ” which the Corinthians were, and this “gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” there is yet the fashioning power of this life upon us, whilst in the mortal body, and this I would desire to trace a little. In chapter iv., this life, ministered from the ascended Christ, put the ministers into the same place as the only true Servant took, when amongst His disciples on earth: “for we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.” How entirely the place of the minister in our times varies from, and indeed, contradicts the character of our Lord's service, and that of the apostle's is plain, if we remember the way in which the Master quelled the strife that arose among His disciples, which of them should be accounted the greatest. It is the Lord Himself that gives the true glory to Christian service. Was He ever so great as when “the hour was come, that he should depart out of this world to the Father,” and He rose from supper and laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded Himself, and poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet? How great was He in the eyes of all in heaven throughout the three and thirty years of His humiliation; when He emptied Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross! We are not living in the power of this life, and enough in the company of Him in whom it was seen to perfection, to be charmed by its grandeur in the midst of a world, whose “Kings exercise lordship.” The first thing for “a new creature in Christ” is to understand how this fact has necessarily changed his relation and standing to the heavens and the earth, and that his relatively new position to each is precisely what Christ's is. We must be truly one with Him, where He now is, in conscious exaltation as heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, in order to get into our true place of service in the Church, where to be great is to be little, “less than the least of all saints.” Next in importance to our getting into position upon earth, into the place now that corresponds with the mind of God (like the Master found in His day) is the conscious dependence upon God, with which this ministration of life connects us: “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
Again, outward circumstances in a world like this only call out this life from the risen Christ in greater brilliancy where it dwells. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” What a divine life and what a ministry “the Spirit of the living God” is working in the new creature, “for we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake!” The resources and confidence of this ministration of life are not only outside ourselves, but outside the world, and are found in the history and ways of the Christ who is our life, “knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise, up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” Again, as to afflictions, do they stumble the man in Christ, or clog the divine life, or make it shine the brighter as it stretches itself away to its own height for relief? “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” The real strength of a soul will be in what it is consciously connected with. If it be far more with things unseen than with things seen, the things seen will become tributary to this life in Christ. When the spies compared themselves with the giants, they were grasshoppers in their own sight; but when faith in Caleb contrasted the giants with the God of Israel, then these giants were the grasshoppers. Life from the ascended Christ and Lord connects us by the Spirit with what He is, and our affections are set on the things at God's right hand. But, further, this ministry provides for every emergency, so that “we know if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven if so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked.”
We have thus been guided to consider this ministry of life in the members of Christ, putting them into an entirely new relation with all things, whether present or future, temporal or eternal, seen or unseen; and as regards all the circumstances of the way, only laying these under tribute, so that they work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. This life, moreover, worketh down into death all in us that else would live, and, living, would be the link by which the flesh and Satan work, so as to connect us with this present world, out of which by the death of Christ we have been redeemed. We must be either false to the objects of our redemption, or else in the power of that life which we have with a risen Christ insist upon death with ourselves, and with the world, which by its own act, and by the judgment of God at the cross, is left under that death. “Now he that hath wrought us for the self same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” This ministry of the new covenant, in connection with the ascended Son of man, gives these triumphs to us as the consequences and fruits of His work, that in us (who are not but have life) “mortality might be swallowed up of life.” The Church at Corinth and elsewhere was to be “the epistle of Christ, known and read of all men” upon every point in which its conformity by life and righteousness, and by the work of the Spirit of the living God, could make it manifest. Another and a totally different race of people, “new creatures in Christ” were to be seen in this old creation—men no longer living to themselves, but to Him who died for them and rose again—men who were bearing about in their body the dying of the Lord Jesus, in the presence of the very world that had put Him to death and cast Him out. Properly, this life in us takes up the fact of this judgment by God, and puts us in the place of death, and bears about the dying of the Lord Jesus. What else could this life in the power of the Holy Ghost produce in a new creature?
It requires a world such as this is in which to go down to nothingness, weakness, and death, just as it requires another in which to rise and pass up into its own height of glory, like Christ who is the life. It is dependent on nothing under the heavens nor obstructed by anything, but finds and forces its way in the pressure of resurrection power, drawing into fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, that in the measure in which the afflictions abound, so “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” may administer the consolations. It draws its sweetest motives from nothing lower than Christ. “The love of Christ constraineth us” and conforms its progress by the example of Him “who died for us and rose again,” knowing too “that we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Lastly, this life coming from the glorified One makes Him as He is the test and standard of its judgment. “Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh, yea though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.... old things are passed away; behold all things are become new; and all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” May God give us to know this ministration of life, righteousness, and glory, as the ministry under which we are placed, and to understand the Spirit of the living God as the power, which is adequate for all the purposes which are to be wrought out in us, so as to keep up the truth of death working by life below; and the other truth of life working beyond the reach and range of death, above, according to “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God!”
“The ministry of reconciliation,” to wit, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses to them,” is the suited adjunct to this ministry of the new covenant. “The ambassadors for Christ” to His betrayers and murderers open their credentials by presenting God as beseeching men to be reconciled to God upon this new footing, “that he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” What “the sheet let down from heaven,” wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts and creeping things, was to Peter as the warrant from God to him to open the door to Cornelius and the Gentiles, this ministry of reconciliation was to Paul now, seeing its aspect was to the whole world. Therefore he could say,” This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.” The Jesus whom Paul was persecuting when stoning Stephen, the Son of God in glory, Christ the Lord, and this blasphemer, the very chief of sinners, give the two extremes of “this ministry of reconciliation,” and they meet and are together.
Chapter 6 speaks of the ministers themselves, and what care should be taken that the ministry be not blamed, giving no offense in anything, but in all things approving ourselves in afflictions, in distresses, in stripes, by pureness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned; as unknown, and yet well known; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. This part of the epistle closes with a solemn appeal to the Corinthians as to things which had interfered with the exercise of this life, “and straitened them in their own bowels.”
Their enlargement depended for manifestation, on their being “not unequally yoked together with unbelievers;” and it is important to observe that the Spirit of God delivers a soul, not by discussing with it that particular point by which it has been caught by the enemy; but by bringing the conscience up to the sources of life, and the springs of real Christian conduct. “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness?” and again, “what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” These are the challenges which brace up the soul and free it from the spider's web; for the craft of Satan is to drop in the intermediate shadings between two extreme colors, such as light and darkness, and produce a Christendom in the place of Christ, and to confuse things, so that there is neither the Church nor the world to be seen in these last days of delusion. Men, and alas! Christians may call this kind of progress enlargement and liberality, but Paul has another word for modern advancement “straitened.” Many an exercised conscience groans under the bondage, and perhaps little thinks how near the door of escape is, if there were but simplicity of faith to pass through it. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Here is the secret of all real strength and enlargement of soul, found alone in this association with the living God, and in an entire separation from the evil, which straitens the new man.
How well does Paul add “having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God!” Here it is, if we may so say, that the Apostle of the Gentiles leads these Corinthians to the brazen laver, that they may wash themselves, and pass into the inner courts on their priestly service, bidding them remember that in our dispensation, “they are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” To them and to him and to us, all else summed itself up into infidelity, or idolatry, respecting which, in all its varieties, we are asked, “What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” and go outside the camp of the day to Jesus, bearing His reproach. Here, this ministration of life, by the Spirit, has described its own circle; having commenced by writing on the fleshy table of the heart, and finished by cleansing the feet of the saints, and separating them from the Belial of that day, and this upon the authority and blessedness of the promise, “I will receive you,” a word of sufficient encouragement for every exercised heart, whether at Corinth, or in England, or elsewhere.
A few remarks on the remaining chapters may close this paper, my object being mainly to show from this Second Epistle, what church ministry really is, and in what it consists, just as in the First Epistle I attempted to show what true church establishment, and church endowments were, and what the assembly of God is which is to receive this ministry and its ministers, and to be the epistle of Christ, as altogether distinct from the world, “known and read of all men.”
The example of Christ Himself is introduced in chapters 9 and 10, and the grace in which He commended Himself to our souls is held out when a corresponding virtue is required from the life of Christ in us. For example, when Paul says, “As ye abound in everything, in faith, in knowledge, and utterance see that ye abound in this grace also [of liberality],” he adds, Ye know “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich.” It is the real secret of power to be thus associated with Christ, not only in life as we have seen, but in the known intelligence of life, which appreciates and loves according to God, what was manifested in perfection in our Lord. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” is irresistible as a moral motive, and as a new power in us, which binds the heart to Himself in a similar expression of grace, however different in measure, as all surely must be, though not in character.
So again in chapter 10 when Paul encourages them to another grace, he does so by reminding them of “the meekness and gentleness of Christ,” and that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down reasonings, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Thus the things which straitened these Corinthians, were not only exposed in a former chapter, as resulting in an unequal yoke—false concords, mixed communions, and corrupt agreements—but are here hunted down to their strong holds, and their hiding places discovered to be in the flesh, and looking on things “after the outward appearance.” Nothing less than the knowledge of God for our faith, and the obedience of Christ for abiding fellowship in the truth, can be the upper and the nether springs for the inner man; and the saint who is watchful may often find an opportunity of bringing a stray thought into captivity, instead of being led into captivity, or being straitened in himself, by its escape. What had they reduced their standard to, when they said, “his letters are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible?” How tenderly yet effectually does he recover them from the point of their degradation, of “comparing themselves among themselves,” by saying, for “we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves. . . For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.”
Alas! though the temple of Solomon, with its porches, and beams, and posts, and walls, was overlaid with pure gold; and though the house was garnished with precious stones for beauty, and the gold was the gold of Parvaim; yet declension began with its own king, and the glory which overcame the spirit of the Queen of Sheba was soon tarnished; and the Ichabod of Eli's days became the prophetic word to Solomon! The Egyptian king came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and carried away the shields of gold which Solomon had made, “instead of which the king Rehoboam made shields of brass,” &c.
The same enemy was at work in the church at Corinth, and the watchful apostle writes in chapter 11, “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through His subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
False apostles and false doctrines are in the dark catalog of this chapter; the brass shields are substituted for the golden ones, which the great Egyptian has carried away, “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” What an opportunity does this day of departure afford to an exercised conscience (and thank God there are many) to refuse these ministers, though they bear with them the imitation shields of brass. The fine gold of Parvaim—the gold of the house of the Lord— “the word which ye have heard from the beginning” remains, and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. Are they ministers of Christ? asks our apostle. “(I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.... If I must needs glory, I will glory in my infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.”
Here we may say how truly is Paul a competent minister of this life, which first in the Lord Jesus Himself reached death in the obedience which could alone bring Him there, “that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” —a life which could neither be worn down by the enmity of foes nor by the desertion of friends—a life which could not be worn out by the patient endurance of what was appointed Him, but a life which spent itself in doing the will of the Father that sent Him and found its own sustainment whilst doing it! So Paul, like a lesser light, is carried about in triumph wherever the Spirit leads him, whether beaten with rods or stoned, in shipwreck and in the deep, or in journeyings, in perils of robbers or in perils among false brethren, let down by the window at the walls of Damascus or caught up to the third heaven (as in chap. 12.), every step was but the pathway of this life, from the man in glory and now this man in Christ—a life which lived as truly upon death and by means of dying daily in this world as this same divine life will rejoice in the eternal glory, when surrounded by circumstances that are (not more suited perhaps, but) more proper to it, where God is and where evil cannot come! “He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
One thing more remains to notice in the last two chapters, that this ministry of life from the exalted Head, by the Spirit in us, which keeps its pressure of death upon the flesh, so that its own activities should not be straitened, is made perfect by weakness, in the absolutism of its own nothingness, and therefore of entire dependence upon the Lord. The persecuting power of Satan, let loose upon him at Philippi (so that he spoke in the beginning of the epistle of the trouble that came upon them in Asia, even to the despairing of life), was accepted by him as “the sentence of death, that they should not trust in themselves.” The God who raises the dead was all the nearer and far more present.
Every adversity was turned to account, even to Satan himself. So that at the close of this epistle, when Paul is at the other extreme of the afflictions of Christ and, “coming to visions and revelations of the Lord,” says, “whether in the body or out the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth.” Such an one was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. “Lest I should be exalted above measure, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messengers of Satan to buffet me.”
Here likewise Satan is turned to profit for Paul, in the history of this life, in “a man in Christ;” not in Philippian persecutions, but in the abundance of the revelations in the third heavens! “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me, and be said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort opened the abounding consolations at the beginning, and now at the close we see the Lord Himself perfecting His own strength in the felt weakness of this chosen vessel unto Christ. What a use the Lord can make of us for Himself before we quit these earthly places, if we will only go to nothing, that Christ may be magnified in our body, whether by life or by death. “Most gladly therefore, he adds, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Old things are passed away, and all things are become new, and all things are of God; and the things that were gain to me I count loss for Christ. Reproaches and afflictions, with persecutions, are the Lord's bequest to us in this world: they are not misfortunes when met in the path of life and obedience, but they are (as Caleb said of the giants) bread for us.
We need difficulties and trials to prove that this life in Christ and in us will pass in its own title of suffering or endurance through the last and greatest of them. God wants them to bring in His mercies and comforts in the tribulation, and the Lord needs them to prove the sufficiency of His grace and that His strength is made perfect. Moreover, Paul adds, “Therefore I take pleasure [what a triumph!] in infirmities, in reproaches, in distresses for Christ's sake, for when I am weak then am strong.” In the unweariedness of this life, seeking objects upon which to express itself, he assures these Corinthians, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” What a new rule for charity is this, or rather what another charity is introduced into the Church of God! In chapter 13 and last Paul again insists on weakness, even as Christ who, though he was crucified through weakness, now liveth the power of God. “We also are weak with him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.” If they sought a proof of Christ speaking in him in any other way, let them “examine themselves, whether they be in the faith, let them prove their own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in them, except ye be reprobates.” How could they doubt his ministry of life and believe that through his ministration of the new covenant Jesus Christ had been received and was in them? Finally, he prays to God for them, that they do no evil, and is glad when he is weak and they are strong, and wishes their perfection, at the same time adding, “I write these things, being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification and not to destruction. “Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”
This ministry here finds its culminating point, in making perfect and producing comfort in this state, where the God of love and peace may be known and can dwell—an enclosure of His own, in spite of the world, and the flesh, and the devil—a habitation of God through the Spirit! A benediction rests upon this temple of the Lord, this household of God: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.” J. E. B.

The Coming of the Lord

Notes of G.V.W.'S Address at Cheltenham
We may turn a little to the first epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians; well suited, the various parts of it, to give forth thoughts—blessed thoughts—about the coming of the Lord Jesus, and the rightful proper effect of the hope of that coming upon ourselves in these last hours.
“For from you sounded out the word of the Lord.” In a remarkable way the hand of the artificer is often found upon his work. It was remarkable how in the labors of the apostle not only the very hope he had was communicated by him to these Thessalonians—must have been so, being part of the gospel he received, but it had the very effect upon them it had upon him, and all the country round about took notice of it.
“So that we need not to speak anything, for they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you.” The sort of trouble the presence of Paul gave in the world, among men through whom he passed, was enlarged by the way these Thessalonians exhibited the power of the hope, and Paul could refer to what men saw in them as containing the very sum and substance of what his own doctrine was. There was where the power was of his own presenting truth.
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Verse 3.) He could say this to them, `I know with regard to truth, to service, to hope, your hearts are naked in the sight of God and our Father, and that you have fellowship with the Christ of God as those that have not forgotten their first love ‘Ye turned from idols to God, to serve the living and true God,' to serve Him! How often this is forgotten Not to be busy, to do a great deal in His presence, but to accomplish what He desired to have accomplished, “the living and true God.” Thus they waited for His Son from heaven.
“Jesus,” even that one “who delivereth from the wrath to come.” It was the hope of God's Son: that is heart and mind calculating on the ground of the word of God, that His Son, this God's Son, was to come from heaven: and this peculiar truth connected with Him, that He is the one who saves us from the wrath to come.
But then, beloved, as to play of the affections, as to movement of the thoughts with regard to this hope, how much will turn upon what Christ has been—is known to be—to us individually! He is coming! He is coming! The world has got its plans—shutting out all thoughts of the needs-be of His coming.
Religion has very often a sort of spiritual millennium: it does not require the coming of the Lord. The child of God reads the book; he finds that the next grand step that God takes is the sending forth His Son, and this Son, coming from heaven, is the one who saves us from the wrath to come, the one described in the last verse of 2 Cor. 5 as He whom God made sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
This One, by means of whom that which is the characteristic title of this epistle had come out to light (` church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ')—He is coming back again.
He who died, the just one for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; He who knowing no sin took the place of bearing the wrath of God due to our sins; He is coming! He has not only interposed as to that work, but has brought the knowledge of that work to bear upon us individually.
Having loved us, having washed us from our sins in His own blood, He is coming to receive us to Himself.
Some who turn to Him in their trials, their difficulties, their temptations, their sorrows, their joys—one quite understands how the coming of the Son from heaven does not move their hearts.
Oh! the power that gives the individual believer the freshness of that hope just flows from knowledge of the person of the Lord Jesus. Christ, the one living in heaven who knows us, whom we know, and who is coming back to give us the blessed taste of being forever with Himself in the Father's house.
In chapter 1 it is Himself waited for, but the heart, if it is to be lively in hope, if it is to have joy and power in hope, must know Himself, must know the work He has done for God, but done for us individually as sons of God, so that He is the one who is the strength and joy of our portion, the one in connection with whom all our hopes glow forth.
Chapter 2 bringing out some exquisite beauties connected with that Lord gives the counterpart of the wilderness in the presence of the Lord. It will not do for us to forget that whatever the wilderness may have for us, there is the counterpart too, in the presence of the Lord.
All the need down here—the groans that go up to God—all are precious to Him, and the counterpart of them will be found in that day when we come to the glory. Paul and the Thessalonians were brought to their very wits' end. See how his whole heart goes out to them. “Cost what it may, you must stand true to the mark. Cost what it might, I as the servant of God would have come to you.” But why? “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?
Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”
He had suffered great things to reach them. That was the one side of the page. Turn over to the other. ‘I shall stand there, and there will be joy to one in the presence of the Lord because of you. I see that in the flow of His grace into you through me down here, there is the witness of His own glory.' I see in that the beauty of the Lord.'
Many a heart Christ has dealt with, many a soul He has comforted and strengthened, will almost selfishly say, ‘I long to be out of this scene, I long to be where all sorrow will be over.' Nay, I long for the hour to come—I shall behold Himself in His glory in that day.
Many are startled at these verses as though it were a wrong thing to say there is this large heart in Christ. He has His eye upon His people, and a part of His plan is that Paul should be there in glory with the Thessalonians, and they part of his crown of rejoicing in that day.
If Christ was his hope, the meeting then and there of those Thessalonians, of many whom he had labored with was a joy; and the largeness of heart of the blessed Lord Jesus prepared it, and revealed the truth of it to the heart of His servant, that he might have his strength formed by the counterpart of the glory when the glory came.
It is one of the touches that make the scene a home scene to my heart—to think I can stand there and recognize not only the Lord, but His servant in his joy—all that power of the blessed Lord that first flowed from Himself finding vent through such a man as Paul, and those Thessalonians standing round him there!
“Are ye not our hope, our joy, our crown of rejoicing?” He repeats it, showing the deliberation of the saying, “For ye are our glory and joy.” Oh but Himself! That is the first thought!
What has He been to you? this Christ, this Son of God, this Savior? Do you know Him individually? Have you no character to give Him? Have you no thoughts you could express from that which you have known about Him? What do you know about Him? He is no dead Christ—He that brings a poor sinner off the wild common of nature into the flock of God: what do you know of Him? Have you no cause to cleave to Him? Have you no want of Him? Have you no good thought about the love He bears to you, about that heart of His? Have you no calculations upon Him that, as He has delivered, so He will? Have you no thoughts about that gracious preparation of all and each of His people by Himself for that day?
Would you like your work to turn up there and find the counterpart of it in His presence at His coming? Each of us has works as individuals. What is the other side of the medal? Will it shine when Christ comes? Can you connect gladly His coming with it, and your being there in glory with Him? You will find the counterpart of that glory in works down here.
I pass on to chapter iii. There we find the intense love of the apostle to these Thessalonians and that which proves it. He expressed a desire to have come to them himself. He would have himself come once and again to them. He could not. He sent Timothy. Observe the words with which the chapter ends: “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another” —there is the addressing them—the mind thrown forward— “to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
I connect those remarkable verses 12, 13 in chapter 3 with verses 19, 20 in chapter 2. They would appear as the counterpart of the labors and the sorrows of the apostle in the glory. Hence his intense desire that before God, even our Father, when the Lord comes with all His saints, not only the fruit of his labors should appear inside the Lord's presence, but that the character of God being practically on them, at the coming of the Lord they might be found unblameable in holiness. Oh, how little human hearts can take in thoughts of the love of that Christ Jesus!
What I desire to show is that the truth given to Paul was the part Christ had given to Him, with the people He had taken up, at God's hand from before the creation of the world, to bring us to glory. “The glory which thou gavest me I have given unto them, that they may be one, even as we are one.” Hence John speaks, “Already are we the sons of God.” Though not yet made manifest, we shall be like Him when He appears. They were to purify themselves. Not only that. In Rev. 1 it is a separate thought in the heart of John. It was not only the love of Christ that took notice of their misery and applied His life's blood that there should be no spot or stain, but He made them kings and priests unto God and His Father; Himself sharing that royal priesthood of His people and making them know it then and there, and here bringing them forth in the glory in that day when He comes with His saints.
I spoke, beloved, of how the hope in the heart of an individual believer would be bright or not bright according as they had the first love fresh in the heart, and saw in the person of the Christ the One whose love poured forth to them when they were dead in trespasses and sins, and who proved Himself in all truth the One who knew all about them and knew how to meet them.
Now in chapter 4 another thing is brought out. I desire to rest in detail upon it because it gives in a remarkable way the place of a parenthesis in which the Lord comes, with the plans of God in connection with His appearing; then secondly in that parenthesis he unfolds certain glories very much passed over by the saints of God, and a glory calculated to endear the coming of the Lord to their hearts, a glory that connects itself to the simple mind with the state of man blessed by God.
From verses 15 to 18 is a parenthesis. That left out the passage would read thus, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” “But of the times and the seasons brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” (Read 1 Thess. 5:1-8.) There he evidently passes to the appearing of the Lord and to the state of the earth. Men of the earth do not look for Him, and they will be saying in that day, ‘peace and safety,' just when sudden destruction is breaking upon them. Then the Lord will come upon them; and they find, as we know from the second epistle, how though they deny God in government, He will have the place of government on earth in connection with Jerusalem, and the Lord with the breath of His mouth will put aside all evil.
Then in the parenthesis we find the Lord introducing what He comes for. There are things connected with His coming, beautiful and touching things. Some in ignorance were mourning as though dead Thessalonian Christians had lost the chance of being taken up: surprised, so to speak, about it. He seems to me to be guarding the words He uses. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” “Jesus” is the name of the man. So those “that sleep in Jesus.” But when He speaks, not of death, nor of disappointment produced by the want of intelligence, but of the power to be put forth, he says “The dead in Christ shall rise first,” not “them that sleep in Jesus.”
Jesus died. Therefore it could be no strange thing to any believer to find himself in the power of resurrection, called to pass over that bit of road which Christ trod, “The light of His love the guide through the gloom.” Here it is not a question of mourning over departed friends, or any ignorance. He says, “The dead in Christ,” the anointed man, “shall rise first.” Now look at These five verses, this parenthesis. First of all in verse 15 there is this distinct statement, “This we say unto you by the word of the Lord.” Everything the apostle wrote had the full perfect sanction of God's authority. Here there appears to have been something brought to his mind, and much more fully in detail, in connection with that coming and that person of the Lord. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not anticipate them that are asleep.” There had some fallen asleep—Stephen; many others; and some here at Thessalonica. The word was realized to them, “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” They had been waiting down here, they had gone up to heaven to wait there. He has been waiting; and, although there are with Him no bodies and no dust, they are waiting with Him still.
This ought not to be passed by in connection with “absent from the body, present with the Lord,” that it shows in the most striking way not only the provisions of divine love, but the power of divine life. “Spirit, soul, and body” constitute a man. Yet when any one of God's saints dies, He remains the God of the living, for all live unto Him. Abraham lived before God. The apostle said that if to live was Christ to him, to die was gain.... he would get into His own presence. If I stay here, Christ gains. If I am called to leave the body, I gain. But who is it that has power in that way to throw light on the intermediate state as it is called? Why the blessed Lord Himself. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.”
Well now, a particular thing that follows after in the two verses is just this. The person of the Lord gets uncovered and brought out to light; but also He finds Himself in that day in a scene in which the great peculiarity of what He is for us comes out to light. He is the resurrection and the life. And why the resurrection? Life has been displayed by Him without question. Resurrection power was displayed by Him in raising Lazarus, and in a much more glorious way when He rose Himself from the dead. The graves were opened. The graves gave up the bodies. “Many bodies of the saints that slept arose and came out of the graves after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared unto many.” What power wrought there? But oh what a little scene is that compared with the scene brought out here, when all the dead in Christ shall rise! Just remark how it is brought out: the scene in which this double glory is brought to light. Himself, the Lord, shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God. He shall descend from heaven. Even when thoughts of the glory cross my mind, I look as it were to see where is the Lord. Till I get the thoughts of the Lord's place in it, the very thought of salvation would not be without trouble to me. Clouds part hither and thither, and the Lord, who loved us, and who took us up before the foundation of the world—the Lord, who laid down His life at Calvary for us—the Lord, whose love is stronger that death, who took His life again—the Lord, who sent the message of peace and blessing through Mary to His disciples (“Go tell my brethren, I ascend to my Father and. your Father, my God and your God”)—the Lord, who has waited these 1800 years and more from the time He arose, because, looking forward in the stream of time,, He saw us in the stream, whom He had to pick up and make partakers of the blessing—the Lord, that living person who first had to do with us, who has to do with us every day and all day long—the Lord, who has gone to prepare a place for us—the Lord, the eternal lover of our souls—that Lord is the first object in that scene, in that glory, in that day! And He comes with a regulating voice, not merely a shout. It is not a question of life; it is not limited to the question of resurrection; but how many other things will fall under the word when He utters it! His voice was heard here in sorrow. His voice was heard in agony on the cross. His voice will be heard again in scenes about to be prepared for.
In the transfiguration we have these words to Peter, “This is my beloved Son, hear him:” yes, in that to which this scene leads, there is no voice can regulate everything save the voice of the beloved Son of God coming the second time from off the throne of God to receive His people and to take them home with Himself.
None other ever could be in the sense in which He was, because He could say, He did say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father also.” “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” God Himself presented in a man down here, and the whole mind of God connected with Him sent about to be interpreted by the death of Christ upon the cross and the resurrection after! He knows the word and speaks it as having the mind of heaven. There is a difference between the mind of God or the mind of heaven, and an utterance given by an angel. An elder could put in “He is worthy:” “for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed to thyself.” (Rev. 5) An angel does not speak of redemption. Strength to do God's will is connected with that order in creation. Then comes the trump of God. He gives the signal in the trump “himself.” Then mark what immediately follows—the virtue and glory of Him that is the resurrection and the life. He searches the dust of the earth, and all those who sleep through Him in the earth (buried no matter where or in what time; no matter what puny spite had shown itself in the deaths to which they are subjected), the dead rise first, blessed without question. Blessed for Stephen; blessed for Paul; blessed for Peter and others. But oh what will the heart find of blessing in thinking of those names we are among, the worthies of the New Testament, compared with the blessedness of that One man, who, coming forth from God, will sweep with His power through the grave and bring up all that sleep through Jesus, and in resurrection bodies—like the Lord!
Remember that the finishing touch, so to speak, to His redemption-work for the individual is connected not only with the body as we have it shown us in Philippians. It is applied to the principle of His people's walk down here. Paul was subjected to death daily. It was strength made perfect in weakness. The whole course of the apostle was a conformity to this same Christ. Whence? According to His virtue as the risen One.
“Caught up.” I feel there is something there connected with the Lord Himself. That is, He is coming forth habited in the glory of resurrection and just in the way most fitted to display His own power. The bodies dead in the grave are all gleaned up in a moment: expression of the virtue He applies. There is no power in us to mount up. We are caught up in a moment, to meet the Lord in the air. He fills us up with life.
Suppose I pass by a field early in the spring and note its soil prepared and the seed cast in. Then if I find on my way back the corn ready for cutting, I should ask, ‘What mighty power was it that laid bold of the wheat to make it develop so rapidly?' There are His saints who are waiting for Him, who have said, No, I will cut off that thing, for it will not shine when Christ comes. And that other thing which looks so ugly to nature, I will wear it.'
Divine power might lay hold of the germs of life in an acorn and draw it forth an oak tree. All the life in us is developed, and we are filled up with life, perfectly fit for the Lord Himself and for His own presence. He is coming in a moment—in the twinkling of an eye, and He is coming to people in that state. That lights up His appearing—bodies slumbering, saints waiting, the world not knowing them. He puts forth His mighty power, and we are “caught up together with them in the clouds.” “Together.” That is an expression of the Lord's delight in fellowship. No separation then. And those who are waiting for Him, the living ones who remain unto the coming of the Lord are caught up with those that slept, together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. And he adds, “therefore comfort one another with these words,” referring to the sorrow in the hearts of some who had not their hearts centered in that heart of Christ.
Let me appeal to your souls individually. What do you think of Christ? What is that day to you? What is the Lord to you? I believe in pressing the responsibility of the divine nature one upon another, the only way to do it really is to show the certain power in connection with the life given to us and the certain truth revealed, so that the responsibility may be met by those who know how to lay hold of the grace set before them in Christ. No earnest person by reading in the letter could get that which the knowledge of the Lord Himself will give. It was just that with the Apostle Paul. He knew Christ, the eternal lover of his soul. He knew what his first love was, and he had no idea of dropping a curtain on that first interview of Christ with himself, and getting occupied with a house and home down here or with outward circumstances and service.
Oh what a tale will steal out in that day when we see what the Lord's love has been to us! I know His distinct love to me—I know His determination that nothing but His blood shall be known as the atonement for my sin. His determination that no false prop shall suit me. I know His arm as an arm that may be leaned upon. And well He knows now in the days of His solitude, His service, His sorrow down here, His Father's love was enough for Him; and He knows how His own individual love for the child of God is enough for the path, were it multiplied with sorrows ten thousand times more.
There is such a thing as being raised; and if others have not known His love, if others have not known these waters of divine life flowing to His poor feeblest ones down here, have not our hearts tasted it and known it, and known it well? And have you not known this among other tokens of His love, that when He comes to display Himself in connection with that glory of resurrection, He will have you knowing it beforehand, as a scene so dear to His own heart?
The last chapter brings in the exhortation in the latter part of it. Here we find how in a dark world until the Lord appears there is to be complete practical separation to Himself. “Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It was Christ's love (2 Cor. 5) that led Him not only to die for all, but that they which live should not henceforth live to themselves but to Him who died for them and rose again. It was the consciousness of that love that made the Apostle Paul speak in that self-same chapter of how the love of Christ constrained him. He could leave the right hand and go to the left, he could take up one thing and lay aside another, because the love of Christ constrained him.
Now allow me, beloved, to make a remark here. You are quite free to judge and say it is a mistake: but my conviction is the children of God have a great deal too much looked at outward service and not at the life they have. There were Paul and Peter, chosen vessels. There are evangelists and teachers, meant by God to be continued for the building up of His saints, but what is the comparative number of such compared with the number of God's children? There are a certain number of faces before me. Blessed be God by far the greater part bear the token that they are the Lord's. How many would the Lord recognize as teachers and evangelists of His own making, persons He sends out for any special work? We know that the speaking of the gospel requires no proof of gift in every one who does it; they that were scattered abroad upon the persecution of Stephen went everywhere evangelizing the word. But I believe the greater part of the lives of the saints are hidden lives, spent in domestic service, in the care of children, in duties of the house, beside sick-beds. But they all, having the life of Christ, connect themselves with the service of Christ in this our day, and if they remember His love they will get an interest in all His interests, and a share in the labors of those whom He is putting forward in work. Have you no share in their labors if you have been praying for them? Let me ask you, do you never feel any ambition to have a share in their labors? I have known when I could do nothing but in prayer—particularly praying as to the service in a particular place, going on praying for that servant in that place, that visit, and the assurance the Lord gave as to it. So that when that person wrote ‘I found there was the dark cloud on my mind, not on my path,' I could say, ‘I knew it. I knew He had given you a happy and a blessed path.' It is blessed when the saints can thus identify themselves with a work. One poor woman said to me, ‘I don't know who you are, but I have a share in your labors, I have been upholding your testimony here while you have been here.' What was the effect upon the heart? ‘What! you have been praying about me, praying about my work here! It is your work and my work when you have been praying for me.'
There is not a servant or a child in any house; but, knowing the Lord that servant or that child might be a sworn witness for the Lord in the house, and even in going through the menial duties of the house might have the life of God marked and owned in his ways and doings—perhaps very little opportunity of speaking. I remember a very touching instance of that kind in a Chinese boy who was in service in the house of one of the C—'s in Demerara. He had hold of the New Testament, and read it carefully. He was very apt to bring the Testament down, in a gracious way, to bear on the people of the house. One day his mistress said, ‘Oh what a poor thing I am.' ‘Ma'am! I thought you were one of Christ's people. I thought you were a member of Christ.' It searched her heart whether she were not too much on ‘my leanness, my leanness,' instead of in the scene of triumph in Him.
I believe there are marks of how the Lord has given. There are differences. But saying nothing, being nobody in the house, there is the freshness of Christ's life, and just the showing out of the motive working there. It was the great peculiarity of the Apostle Paul, the power of the life in him. He never forgot his first love, nor what he had discovered in Christ. It was in the power of that faith of the Son of God he lived. Will you complain of the jealousy of the Lord's love? Would any one like to be like Lot? It was not worth God's while to keep any calendar of that man's doings. It was no use keeping that man straight. He would just pick him up out of Sodom at the last. His works must all be burnt. What a difference in Abraham! “The God of Abraham.” “Abraham, the friend of God.” What a blessed thing with Abraham God saying, I have loved you, I have brought you forth, and there is a certain path you are to walk in before me and be perfect.'. And has the Lord Jesus washed us from our sins in His blood? Has He really blessed us so? Is that Lord jealous of our walk, jealous that the life He has put in us should be abounding? Are we saying, No, I have nothing to seek for myself; I have only to gather that which Christ gathered. Yes, beloved, He is jealous, and be sure He desires a present practical Nazariteship about us. “Like master, like servant.” Doing God's will because He has left us here to carry on His service, everything else to be laid aside. And can we not say, and say it heartily, May our “whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?” Faithful is He that called you, who also will do it.
It is a very small part of the subject, beloved friends, I have been able to look at this evening. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians takes the other side, the display of God in a world of wickedness; but the happy side has been before us—thoughts of heaven. The First-born among many brethren, whose lips have so often spoken our names there on high, whose hand has so often been stretched forth to help us in the hour of need and trial—He is the One who is coming for us from the throne, to receive us home to Himself.

Communion and Worship

Gen. 17
There are different experiences of a soul that walks with God. They are much more simple with one who walks with God than with one who does not.
Redemption is the ground of all before, but more openly since, the death of Christ.
There were two things previous to accomplished redemption which we now stand in, law, and promises. Promise could never make the conscience perfect, the blood of Christ can and does. You have not kept the law; what are you to do? The ground we stand on is this—accomplished redemption. In the case of Abraham, there was a manifestation of the Lord to him which lays hold of his affection, and this orders his life. So with us, Christ has laid hold of us for eternal life; He has said “follow me.” This characterizes the walk of the believer.
Abraham gets into the land, but he has nothing but a tent and an altar; he is a stranger and a pilgrim in Canaan. We have left everything, because Christ is everything. We have fellowship with God in a strange land. Take Jacob's life, and what do we see? Not one who has his altar in the land, but out of the land, wandering about. There is no communion for the soul away from God: one has not lost righteousness and eternal life; but communion. Jacob comes back again, goes to Succoth and buys land, and there is a new state of things; he builds an altar there, but he has not got back to Bethel yet, but he calls it El-elohe-Israel.
Chapter 32. There is a poor picture of Jacob when afraid of Esau himself, to send his wife and children first. Though at Mahanaim, he could not trust God, but God would not let him go; then there wrestled a man with him. We never find God wrestling with Abraham. Abraham pleaded with God. Here Jacob had to go through new experiences, and the hollow of his thigh shrinks. God gives Jacob a blessing—breaks him down and gives him strength to get the blessing, because He would bless him; but God could not reveal Himself to Jacob then, and be goes halt on his thigh all his days, without the revelation of God to him. A sorrowful thing this! he has his own blessing, but he has not got to the house of God yet. He cannot call it Bethel. He then goes to Shechem, and after that he gets back to the place where he had first met with God and said, “If God will be with me,” &c. (Chap. 28:20.) Now, the instant he gets back here into the presence of God, and God says to him, “Arise go to Bethel and make an altar unto God;” it must be said, “put away your idols. He knew very well he had had the idols all the time. How many idols are you keeping in your hearts? There cannot be communion with God, if you are keeping your idols. Now God can reveal Himself: “I am the Almighty God.”
There is nothing of all this varied and complicated experience with Abraham. Confidence in God makes him disinterested. If I have got Christ, I can be generous to other people. When a man is hungry, he wants something; but when I have Christ, I have what I want, I can enjoy freely, and afford to give.
The Spirit is called the earnest of the inheritance, never the earnest of God's love.
Abraham says,” What wilt thou give me?” when the word of Jehovah came to him in a vision, and said, “I am thy shield,” &c. What a poor answer of Abraham! he does not get beyond himself in his request, and what was on earth. When we are looking to God as the answer to our soul's need, He meets all our wants; but still these wants are the measure of our intercourse with God. But if this is all, it is, though most blessed, short of what it should be.
See Abraham in chapter 27. It is not now God saying to him “I am thy shield,” &c.; but more, “I am the Almighty God.” Then Abraham falls down and worships. This is what we want for worship, communion. It is the revelation of God, and our place is in the revelation of Him, our talking with Him, and He talking with us. Abraham fell on his face, he is annihilated; but he may enjoy God, he has no fear, no halting. God has made Himself known to him, and the result of this is communion. Abraham gets no strength from the revelation, he is on his face, but he has the blessed familiarity of relationship. God takes the soul into communion and worship by the revelation of Himself. Does He now ask Abraham what he wants? No! He gives him a sign of death and resurrection in circumcision. Then in the next chapter do we find him talking about himself? No! he is pleading for others. He has got into the tone of God's heart, not struggling with God for a blessing for himself as Jacob did, but in the sense of what he has got he is able to intercede.
We may have to get back after failure; but then we have Christ to intercede for us, we have not to get back of ourselves. Look at Peter; grace was active for Peter, and brought him back. Christ is gone to God for us. The ground of all our blessing is the perfectness of redemption.


To The Editor of The Bible Treasury
SIR,—You “appeal” to me whether my course, in using quotations from Mr. Darby in a letter to the Christian World, has been consistent with “uprightness.” I presume that in making this “appeal” to me directly, you are willing to print an answer, and that answer is as follows. In noticing my letter to the Christian World you have omitted to quote the very words which decisively prove the absence of any intention on my part to misrepresent Mr. Darby. I have no desire to retort the charge of dishonesty on you in this suppression. Probably your friends would as little believe it respecting you as mine will believe it respecting me. It suffices me to say that in the warmth of zeal against a doctrine which you think “frightful in its consequences,” you have allowed yourself to commit an injustice unworthy of your well-earned character as a honest scholar and a sincere servant of Christ.
The words to which I refer are these, and they immediately followed the quotations from Mr. Darby. “Now these statements of Mr. Darby, though strangely contradicted by others, contain the essence of the doctrine of life in Christ only, whether he intended it or not.” The words in italics supply a full and direct reply to your allegations. I was well aware that Mr. Darby's declaration, that “the doctrine of the immortality of the soul has no source in the gospel,” had been often cited by others, and to his great discontent, because unaccompanied by any reference to the notorious fact that he holds and has always held that doctrine, and professes it explicitly even in the very same page which contains the quoted sentence. I was therefore resolved that at least this complaint should not be made against me, and therefore added the words which intimate that Mr. Darby's “statements” so quoted were strangely contradicted by other statements, obviously intending the very sentences which follow, and which you cite as evidence of my dishonesty. The word “strangely” was introduced for the very purpose of showing that the seeming “contradiction” supplied by the passages not quoted by me was very remarkable, he holding firmly the truth of the doctrine of the soul's immortality, yet affirming that it had “no source in the gospel.” Moreover, the “contradiction” was admitted to be so striking as to leave it open to question whether Mr. Darby could have really “intended” his words to be taken in the absolute sense which they seem to suggest.
But this is not all. You wholly misrepresent the object of my quotations from Mr. Darby. That object, most evidently, was not to show that he did not hold the doctrine of the soul's immortality, but to show that he did not hold it on the ground of scripture authority; in his own words, that it “has no source in the gospel,” an expression than which none can be stronger. I was not called on then, with this object alone in view, to enlarge upon the fact that Mr. Darby held the doctrine for reasons extracted from his own head. My point was in his confession that it was “not in the gospel,” and my practical inference was that tenderness should be shown to those who thence conclude that it is not a doctrine with divine authority.
The object of the citation of the note on Matt. 25:46 was, in the same way, not to show that Mr. Darby ever agreed with me on the general doctrine (a folly and a misrepresentation of which I feel wholly incapable); but to show that the word “eternal,” as occurring in the phrase, “everlasting punishment,” was even in that crucial passage explained. by Mr. Darby to “mean only” final, a criticism sometimes made by persons who agree with me, but severely denounced whenever it is offered to your religious associates.
To conclude, Mr. Darby himself has felt that his language was remarkably liable to be quoted against him, for he, as you tell us, has now altered the clause chiefly in question to this—that “the idea of the immortality of the soul is recognized in Luke 12:5; 24:38.” You call this a “modification” of the former expression (“has no source in the gospel”). I call it an express retractation; and gentlemen who have placed themselves under the necessity of so materially altering their words should be somewhat slower in charging respectable opponents with direct “dishonesty” in quoting them. For Mr. Darby, notwithstanding many differences of judgment, I cannot but feel on several accounts a true admiration; and the last thing which I should wish to do would be to misrepresent him, or to act as if truth could be advanced by dishonor.
I am, sir, Yours faithfully, EDWARD WHITE.
[The simplest course in answer to any question of fair dealing toward Mr. W. is to insert his letter. He and our readers will judge for themselves. Otherwise a mere abstract would have been given of his reply, as before of the complaints made against his use of “Hopes of the Church.”
Let him be assured that there was not the slightest wish to suppress a word which might plead in his favor or in explanation; and that the motive for not citing more from his letter was simply to avoid further discussion, though even as it stands the substance of what he thinks of importance has been already given and answered, though not inserted as a quotation. I trust that it will be satisfactory to Mr. W. and to those who complained to know that, though quite mistaken in his notion of Mr. D.'s meaning, he has in my opinion shown himself guiltless on the question of fair dealing or the want of it. I will now try to convince him of the misapprehension which lay at the bottom of his wrong use of Mr. D.'s words and of the insinuation of a shift or change in the thoughts of the latter. If Mr. V.'s point and object are thus mistaken, his inferences must of course fall to the ground.
Mr. W. considers that there is a strange contradiction between the two statements, “that the idea of the immortality of the soul has no source in the gospel,” and “that we do not doubt the immortality of the soul.” If Mr. D. had denied the soul's immortality to be a truth of the scriptures, there would be just ground for the charge of so strangely contradicting himself. But it is not so. I have no doubt that its frequent citation is due to the fact that most people, like Mr. W., unconsciously confound “the gospel” with the word of God, and think Mr. D did not hold the soul's immortality on the ground of scripture authority because he denied it to have its source in the gospel. It is well known that the primary basis of that truth is not the gospel but Gen. 2:7, where Adam is said to become a living soul (not, as other animals did, without but) by the inbreathing of Jehovah Elohim. Not a natural fact like this, however important in itself, but resurrection is a truth of the gospel. Hence this was no question among orthodox Jews, who held, save the materialist Sadducees, the immortality of the soul. But the resurrection of the body, exemplified in Christ risen from the dead, is the fundamental truth of the gospel, which got completely displaced by the Platonizing of the early Fathers. This is the true meaning and intent of Mr. D.'s words, which Mr. W. entirely mistook, as is plain from his present letter. For he supposes even now Mr. D., by denying “the gospel” to be the source of the doctrine of the soul's immortality, to mean that it had no source in scripture and that he himself held it for reasons extracted from his own head. The fact is that Mr. D.'s language was precise, Mr. W.'s construction is loose and erroneous. To prove a doctrine by reason is the last thought that would occur to Mr. D. He will now understand also that there is no change whatever in the author's thoughts, but only a modification of phrase in order to hinder the misunderstanding of others. There is not nor ever was the least ground for the charge of contradiction. The truth is that Mr. W. gravely misinterpreted the main sentence quoted, though I give him credit for believing that he meant no wrong to Mr. D. The “express retractation,” as Mr. W. calls it, falls with the rest. Lastly, I can assure Mr. W. that Mr. D. by the expression “final” did not mean to impair the force of “eternal” in Matt. 25, whatever may be the idea of others who employ that term for a different purpose.—En. B. T.]


To an Inquiring Hindu.
My Dear Sir,
I too have to apologize for leaving your letter, though of the greatest interest to me, so long unanswered. Suffice it to say, that I had much to wind up before quitting home, and that much fresh occupation has hindered since I came to this busy city. You are right in not allowing your mind to get dragged into discussions, and I trust that I shall in no way tempt you to a path so unpromising, especially in the things of God.
But you speak of the doctrine of the Trinity early in your letter. Now that entirely depends on the revelation of God, and indeed almost entirely on the Christian revelation or Greek scriptures; for though the Hebrew scriptures fall in with it when revealed, they can of themselves be scarcely said to reveal it. So, too, the points of salvation and faith turn on the same larger and prior question of their divine revelation, as distinct from the external testimony of creation or the internal testimony of the human conscience.
But, surely, my dear sir, if you have seriously read the books commonly called the Old and New Testament, you can hardly have failed to see their essential difference, not in measure only but in kind, from the sacred books of India, China, Arabia, and any other people or age. They differ quite as much from the Talmud of the Jews and from the commentaries of the early Christian writers, which bear the unmistakable signs of being merely human and consequently fallible and in fact erroneous.
The Old and New Testaments, besides their superior moral character, differ in two respects. They have an historical substratum, peculiar each to each, supported if their testimony be true by miraculous vouchers; and they are prophetic. Now none but God could clothe man with miraculous power for some worthy moral end, and this too where the ways of the men so invested preclude suspicion of trickery and collusion. Still less if possible could any but God give distinct prophecies of the most unlikely events hundreds of years before the fact. These qualities are found only in the Bible, the wonder of which is increased by the circumstance that its writers extend over a space of about 1600 years from Moses till the Apostle John.
These things are only explicable by the truth of the claim of scripture to be God's word. If the Bible then be His word, faith comes by bearing that word. Reasoning is good in its own sphere and for its own proper ends; but faith is subjection to and reception of God's word because it is His. If God has made such a revelation, it binds the conscience of all who hear it. But in such a world as this one need not wonder that men disbelieve it. For on the face of it men generally are far from God and opposed to His will. That God should leave man, so, dark and wretched as he is, without a revelation, would be strange indeed: not so, spite of such a revelation, that many should reject it, and many should be unfaithful to it. Least of all is this a difficulty to one who believes the Bible; for the Old Testament predicted the sin and unbelief of the Jews, as the New Testament predicts the sin and unbelief of the Christian professing body. As the revelation comes from God to man and acts as a moral test, so does Christ. If I love what is good and holy and true, I shall love the Bible, and the Lord Jesus; if I like my own will and way, and the world, I shall despise both the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ. If I begin to learn my unfitness for God's presence, I shall begin to abhor myself and to look to God, who will surely lead me on to welcome the good news of redemption through Jesus Christ.
Either Jesus was a divine person or He was the worst of deceivers. This last you do not think: how then can you fairly escape from owning the glory of His person? Seven hundred and fifty years before His birth, Isaiah (7.) declared to king Ahaz that the virgin should conceive and bear a son to be called Immanuel, GOD WITH US, further calling Him the mighty God (9.), the Father of eternity (or the age to come), &c. In due time the Virgin Mary does bear such a son, even Jesus, who raises the dead, rises Himself from the dead, and goes up to heaven in the face of His disciples.
Again, even the greatest difficulties which unbelief finds are all necessarily elements of the history and of the doctrine. Thus, if Jesus had not been a man, man had derived no such benefit as the gospel proclaims. If He had not been God, the benefit could only have been human, earthly, and temporal. To give such a boon as Christianity offers, He must be both God and man in the same person. Again, if He had not died as man, there could have been no Christian redemption by blood. If He who died had not been divine, the value of blood-shedding had been only that of a creature and limited. To be infinite, not in person only, but in His sacrifice for us, He must be, as scripture declares He was, both God and man.
Take a proof of this from the Hebrew scriptures: It was written by Zechariah 500 years before the crucifixion. “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” This is still as a whole to be fulfilled for the Jews as a nation. It has only been verified by individuals as yet. The prophet speaks of a future time of trouble, when the Gentiles will gather round Jerusalem and God will appear on their behalf when at the last extremity and they will then recognize in their deliverer God the One whom they pierced. The “I” of the passage (Zech. 12:10) is certainly God, Jehovah of Israel; yet He must have taken a body and come in humiliation, if He had been once “pierced” by them. In whom can all this meet but in Jesus of Nazareth the Lord God of Israel?
The very notion of Christianity is above human thought till God revealed it. Others have conceived God's appearing in human form to steal, to kill, to indulge lust or other evil. Such were the ideas of Greeks and Romans. Scripture alone reveals God assuming human nature without sin to be a sacrifice for sinners, to make them saints, to glorify Himself in and by them. With this too the Trinity harmonizes perfectly; for, instead of its being mere ideas or, various functions and displays, the Father in His love gives the Son, who in equal love comes to die, in order righteously to put away sin and to rise in witness of the victory for the believer, and the Holy Spirit deigns to work in the conscience and heart of him who believes, both to convince him of his need and then to fill him with divine streams of enjoyment and power to magnify Him who died and rose for him.
You will see from what is already said that I in no wise despise the value of reason. Thus it is irrational and immoral to suppose that a Being good and holy, omniscient and omnipotent, made this world and man as they are now. But reason, unaided, cannot account for it. Revelation declares that God made all good, but suspended its continuance on the obedience of its head—that the head failed, and that the race and the world fell thereby. My reason bows to this as the only true and righteous and sufficient explanation.
But how can I rise out of this state of ruin? My reason fails to find a remedy. Divine revelation shows me God undertaking, God giving, God fulfilling the mighty task; and this in the nature which failed, yet to the glory of Himself. This my soul accepts as the only solution of all my difficulties. It is worthy of God to save the lost, but it is only worthy of Him to save holily and righteously at all cost to Himself, at infinite cost, yet to save freely, of grace and therefore by faith of His testimony that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. In every other scheme love is lost, or righteousness is compromised, or guilty man is flattered. The cross of Christ alone satisfies and harmonizes all truth, meeting every want of man and every attribute of God.
Before the scriptures were written at all, as in the days of Moses, and before they were finished, as in the days of Jesus and the apostles, miracles were vouchsafed by God to arrest attention to the divine power put forth in a less or a greater degree, as seemed fit to Him.
But when all was written, miracles were not continued, for then the truth revealed was complete, and the testimony such as only inattention or self-will can dispute, the fulfillment of prophecy being the most powerful continuous testimony after miracles were no longer wrought.
Accepting then these revelations as proved truly divine, I hear Jesus saying (John 8), “Before Abraham was, I am.” Did He speak the truth? If not, the morality of the gospel in its Chief is detestable, not divine. Lofty precepts condemn, if there be not holy practice. If Jesus was holy and true, He was God, according to the import of His own words. None but a divine person could say, “Before Abraham was, I am,” πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι, ἐγώ εἰμι.. If you know Greek tolerably, you will see, when it is pointed out, the amazing force of this statement. In speaking of Abraham, a mere creature, the Lord uses the verb γίνομαι, which means to become, or come into being. In speaking of Himself, He employs the substantive verb, which alone is proper to express, where required, absolute uncaused being. He does not merely say, “Before Abraham was, I was,” no matter how high you carry the point and term of His existence, even if it were the first of created beings, as the Arians say. If so, Jesus would have said, ἐγενόμην. But no! He, the lowliest of men, could not deny His deity. He is God, the “I am,” and so He declared Himself, which provoked the unbelieving Jews to take up stones. But the time suffer was not yet come; and so He passed through and went on His way. Again in John 10 Jesus declares that He has ἐξουσίαν, right and title as well as power, to lay down His life as well as to take it again: who could have such authority but a divine person?
This then was no mere Athanasian dogma. It is the distinct teaching of John 1, Phil. 2, Heb. 1, and very many other passages in the apostolic writings. It is the keystone of Christianity. Without it not only its salvation is a myth but its morality is a cheat. For all is built on the capital truth that God in divine love humbled Himself to become man and die for sinners, that He might save and bless the believer to the uttermost not by Christ only but with Him.
But be assured, my dear sir, as great as is the free and boundless blessing of the gospel, so equally is the sin and danger of neglecting it—mark, not of opposing only but of neglecting it. For, if it be true that God really gave His Son thus to live and die, the guilt of neglecting so great salvation, once it is brought before us, is proportionate to the dignity of His person and the efficacy of the work wrought at a cost so incalculable. May the gracious God and Father of the Lord Jesus bless you, giving you to read honestly the scriptures with prayer for divine light and guidance!
Believe me ever faithfully yours, W. K.


Dear Brother in Christ,
A few remarks with illustrations from scripture of the use of דֵּפִכ may set the question (page 336) in a clear light.
The primary meaning of בָפַּר is to cover. Hence when used in Piel which gives intensity to the idea, it will mean to cover effectually, so to forgive, pardon, make atonement.
The verb is used without or with prepositions; without where the thing to be covered is the prominent thought, e.g., sin (Dan. 9:24; Psa. 65:3 (4); 78:38), the land (Deut. 32:43), the altar (Ezek. 43:20); but with prepositions where the place in which atonement was to be made, the manner of it, the officiator, or the guilty persons, are in view.
We meet with the verb followed by ְּב in Lev. 6:30 (23); 16:17, which tell of the place in Lev. 7:7;
1 Sam. 3:14 Sam. 21:3; Num. 5:8; which speak of the means. Where the person by whom it is made is prominent, we find it in connection with רַעְּב to tell us on whose behalf he is acting, e. g., Lev. 9:7; 16:6, 11, 17, 24; Ex. 32:30; Ezek. 14:17, and 2 Chron. 30:18, where Hezekiah looks to the Lord to effect it.
Where things inanimate, involved in man's guilt but guiltless themselves, are spoken of, the verb can be followed by אֶת (Lev. 16:20, 33; Ezek. 43:26; 14:20); and where persons are before the writer's mind, guiltless themselves of the actual transgression, we meet with the preposition ל, e.g., Deut. 21:8; Isa. 22:14; Ezek. 16:63, for the consequence of the sin was not to extend to them.
But when the guilt itself is the prominent thought, we have עַל used, pointing out on whom, or on what, the sin rested which needed covering, whether (1) the individual, (2) the place of standing, (3) the victim to which the sin was transferred; e.g., (1) Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 12:7; 14:18-20; 19:22; Num. 15:25, 28, &c.; (2) Ex. 30:10; Lev. 16:16; (3) Lev. 16:10; the passage to which your correspondent refers. Keeping the primary thought of the verb in view, we can understand its use in the different places referred to, and the force of Heb. 10:4 and Rom. 3:25, is felt. The sins of God's people in old days were covered by the blood (and so God passed over them), though not really put away, till the blood of the Lord Jesus had been shed, which alone could avail for this. In Lev. 16:10 the thought seems to be that the sins of the people, transferred to the scapegoat were covered on it; that is, the goat bore them away from the people, never to be seen again as against them; but yet, as on the goat, they were not looked at in God's sight as put away.
At times we meet with the fuller form of expression (a) כִפֵּר עַל מִין, and (b) כִפֵּר עַל ב; (a) Lev. 5:6; 14:19; 15:30; 16:16, 34; (b) Lev. 5:16; Num. 5:8, the former marking from what, and the latter by what the sin was covered; but always, where the guilt is viewed as resting, we meet with עַל of the person or thing on whom it rests. See Lev. 16:33 where we have תא דֵּפִכ of the sanctuary and vessels, and כפר עַל of the people.
C. E. S.
Where the numeration of verses in Hebrew differs from the Authorized Version, the former is put in brackets.

Correspondence: Children Following the Lord

My Dear Brother, as long as a child is of the household actually in relationship with their parents, the duty of obedience remains. If a man is married, he begins a new house, and is the head of it, leaves his father and mother. But as long as he or she is of the house, obedience is the duty, as the relationship remains. “In the Lord” is the limit and character of the obedience. If I had a Jewish or heathen parent who commanded me to deny Christ, I could not do it. It is not “in the Lord.” So if I was desired anything which practically denied Christ, I could not do it “in the Lord.” if the parent be merely unjust in ways, and no duty be compromised, I believe the part of children to be patience and casting themselves on the Lord. I can suppose a child engaged in a positive duty, which the parents in such case would have no right to cause the child to break through. “In the Lord” has nothing to do with the character of the parents, but the conduct of the child; otherwise it would absolve from all obedience the child of heathen or Jewish parents. The obedience is “in the Lord.”
Your affectionate brother in Christ, J. N. D.
Dear Mr. Editor,
I shall be much obliged by any of your readers who knows Hebrew better than myself, or has studied the point, to tell me what is the force of åéÈìÈò êÅÌôÇëÀì in Lev. 16:10. It will require attention to the force of ìÇò with ãÅôÄë which I suspect is not always justly given in the English translation.

Correspondence: The Bearing of Romans 5:12-21

The Bearing of Rom. 5:12-21. In Answer to Specific Questions.
My Dear Brother,
The division in the doctrinal teaching of the Epistle in Rom. 5 at the beginning of verse 12, the verse you point out, has been already noticed in tracts which are in print. The former part deals with what we have done, as God's question to Cain; the second with what and where we are, as God's question to Adam, the state of Adam being confirmed and made plain by the judgment pronounced on him. He drove out the man. Rom. 1:19 to 7 deals with what we have done and Christ's propitiation as the remedy, adding His resurrection as the great seal of it. From verse 12 it deals with what we are. He speaks of state, not guilt, though of course guilt is there.
The “wherefore” (διὰ τοῦτο), of which you first ask, is a gathering up of the whole teaching of the previous part of the epistle, which taught, not Judaism and a called people, but wrath from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of them who hold the truth in unrighteousness, Jew and Gentile. All were under sin, under different circumstances, but alike come short of the glory of God; and every mouth stopped, those that had law, as well as reckless Gentiles sunk in evident depravity. It was the condition of the whole race of man, as man, before a revealed God, holy in His nature. There is however an additional special ground of the “wherefore,” which will not be fully apprehended till that is introduced: a living Christ securing blessing where a man is justified from the old sins, and reconciled, having been an enemy; Christ's death would secure him through, and save him from wrath. This so far brought in, not only the clearing the guilty by the work Christ had wrought, but a new standing in life. By the righteousness of one the free gift came to all for justification of life. This was a new position of man, not indeed yet the glory or resurrection with Christ and union with Him, but a new position and standing; not merely the clearing away the sins a man was guilty of, in connection with his old standing, but a new standing in life, a justification of life.
This clearly brought in a new state, not mere justification from the evil he was guilty of, but a condition into which he was brought; hence too, though recognizing it, it reached out beyond the whole nature of Judaism. This the apostle sums up in chapter 5:12-21 with the connecting word “wherefore,” taking the whole scope of thought which precedes, and resuming it in his own mind, as is his custom, as a causative point of departure in his reasoning, as he often does too with the word “for” (γἁρ). The sense of what had been said led to this, “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” This brings us to ἐφ ᾧ.
Ἐπί with a dative is primarily “upon,” as ἐπὶ πίνακι, “on a dish;” hence is used for “besides,” something added, ἐπὶ πῦσι, in addition to all this, or above. Hence also as ἐπὶ τῆ προβατικᾗ, έπὶ θὑραις, but with the idea of actually touching. It is then used morally for a ground, motive, object, what characterizes an act. We use “upon” so, but with express words: I did it upon this ground, upon this condition. Greek uses it by itself, something which is, not the cause, but is supposed; without which the thing would not so be as we say it is. We are called not ἐπὶ άκαθαρσίᾳ under a supposition of being unclean persons when so called. ἐπὶ τριςὶ μάρτυσιν, three witnesses were the condition of carrying out the judgment. Any necessary or true condition: “man shall not live by bread ἐπ’ἄρτῳ.” It was not the cause of life, but his life was involved in it, so ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι. We say “to live upon.” This use of ἐπὶ is very common;.ἐπ’έλπίοι ἀροτριᾷν. It was no cause of plowing, still the plowing was not to be without it. ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόμαατἰ μου, the reception of the child is characterized by that as a motive. In English we must translate it variously, but it is easy to understand in Greek something supposed and viewed as involved in a thing happening, without which it would not be what it is, but not its cause.
Thus here the origin of death amongst men, or cause of its entrance into man's world, was Adam's sin; but if we could suppose (what could not be save by this acting of God as in the miraculous birth of Christ) a man born without sin, he would not be brought under death. Hence each person's sinning is supposed in its passing upon all: it is vorausgesetzt; death comes moyennant. It is ἐφ’ᾧ, “inasmuch as,” or “for that” as in Authorized Version, not “because.” A man was condemned because of his sin, or an elder judged; but it was ἐπὶ τριςὶ μἀρτυσιν that was a regular condition of his being condemned. The sinning exists as a fact connected with the dying: they do not die without it. The origin of death in the world was Adam's sin. It is not a condition set out à priori, as if it was uncertain whether they would, but a fact which comes in for those involved in death.
I do not think children enter into the question here—no more than when the apostle says, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” They really begin to sin as soon as they begin to live: though it be undeveloped, their will works. I do not doubt they go to heaven: Matt. 18, I think, shows it, and the ground; but the apostle is looking at man manifested as man, that is, what he is and does. Children are saved, not by innocence, though practically an expression of it, but because Christ came to save what was lost. This question then I dismiss; I refer to it merely as an objection which might be made.
I do not think ἐφ’ᾧ has the sense whereunto: if it were the object in its extent, it would be, I conceive, the accusative, if so used at all. What follows, to the end of verse 17, is a parenthesis, bringing in the question of law's place and bearing, and insisting that grace which met sin could not be narrowed up to law, though it met transgressions under it. And first it is asserted that sin was in the world when the law was not. True, a sin could not be reckoned as so much to an account; but death proved its reign over those who were not in the case of Hos. 6:7. Israel, like Adam, had transgressed a positive covenant; but sin was reigning in death over those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. And Adam was a figure of the second Adam come in grace. Now though transgressions or offenses, as verse 16, had to be met, yet the condition and state was the great point here, the many connected with him had been constituted sinners by Adam's disobedience; so the many connected with Christ were constituted righteous by Christ's obedience; but this was state and standing, not properly guilt as to things done. Sin was in the world before the law came.
As to ἐλλογεῖται, it is not ἐλογίζετο, “accounted” (as righteous). The word is only used elsewhere in Philemon. It is not a person accounted righteous on whatever account, but a particular act or debt owing, put into an account. When there was no specific prohibition, there was no specific transgression. Sin was there, but there was no transgression. This requires a law to transgress. But the evil tree bears its fruits and proves what the tree is, and men are judged according to their works. But there was not as under the law positive transgression which the government of God could deal with as so much to be reckoned to a man in that government. When God judges the secrets of men's hearts, their works will come out in the books, a witness of what the state of their hearts was, and all will see the light. The apostle speaks here as of the present condition of the world: you could not say you have transgressed here, broken the law there, but the reign of death proved that sin was there. But Adam was the figure of Him to come. Shall the bearing of man's offense be greater than that of God's gift? Death was reigning outside the law; but by the offense of one many were dead: should not the grace of God much more abound to the many who labor under it, and not to be confined to the Jews who claimed it? The state was universal through Adam, the grace must be as wide in its address.
Again, as by one's sinning came the charge or guilt leading to condemnation, should not the free gift be thus too? yea, more, the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift, with many offenses now to meet, to justification. The first phrase is by one having sinned, but the second “by one” is abstract, ἐζ ἑνός, of one [thing or person]: of one, that is its general character; then the free gift is ἐκ πολλῦν, had that as its character. The first statement in verse 15 declares that as to the objects the sphere must extend to the many, since by the offense of one the many died. Grace must go out as far and brings in the man Christ Jesus, the last Adam, of whom the first was a figure, the thought necessarily involving it. The comparison to prove the extent in verse 16 is between the acts, as 15 between the objects. The guilt which led to condemnation was ἐζ ἑνός, a unity; the free gift being of God was of many offenses. So as to the effect by the offense of one, death reigned by one; much more the grace would triumph on the other hand, and they that received it would reign in life. In these three aspects grace in God triumphed over sin in man and that by one man, not by every man for himself, the principle of law and individual judgment. As far as offenses went, they had been multiplied, and grace could meet them.
Verse 18 resumes the general principle from verse 12, and is as abstract as possible. As by one offense towards all for condemnation, the direction and tentency of the one offense, so by one righteousness or righteous act accomplished towards all for justification of life; for it was in the risen Jesus they got it, from having been under death, and now justified if they had Him in life. For as by the disobedience of one the many connected with him were constituted sinners, put into that place; so by the obedience of one the many connected with him were constituted righteous. The ὑπακοή is looked at as the whole principle of Christ's life, including as to its character, and proved by, obedience unto death. There was a disobedient man proved in eating the forbidden fruit: he disobeyed God's will. There was an obedient man: He obeyed God's will. The character and measure of the obedience all through, as proved by it, was obedience unto death, the death of the cross. This had nothing to do with law.
There are, as the whole passage teaches and has for its object to teach, two heads of races, natural and spiritual: two persons, one in whom sin, the other in whom grace, came. And further, that the law was a “moreover” (πλἡν), which came in by the bye, παρειςῆλθεν: but that you could not shut the grace up to that, but must go to the two heads of sin and grace. The law merely came in that the offense might abound, but it was not only when offense, but when sin, abounded that grace abounded over it. Had righteousness replaced the reign of sin, judgment and condemnation only could have been the effect. But grace reigned, but through righteousness, on the principle of divine righteousness, fully established, and that to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord: a complete summary of the whole ways of God. Death is looked at as death here reigning by sin; condemnation was out beyond that.
I turn to look at some of the words you speak of. Παράβασις is positive transgression of a law which exists.
Παράπτωμα, though applicable to transgressions, is a more general word and with a different sense.
Παράβασις goes beyond and transgresses an actual law or barrier set up by God. Hence there must be a law.
Παπάπωμα fails or falls from the right condition in which we should hold ourselves. Transgressions do this, but every fault and failure does. This can be without a law. A concordance will easily show this. I am not aware of any case where παράβασις is used without direct reference to law (or tradition), unless the verb in Acts 1:25, Judas παρέβη, and a case where another reading is preferred.
Δώρημα, χάρισμα, δωρεά require a keener, finer sense of shades of meaning to distinguish.
Δώρημα is the gift, χάρισμα the fruit of grace in the person giving. So far there is a shade in the way the same thing is given. I say such a thing was a gift, a free gift. I did not earn it. How came you to have it? It was pure grace (a χάρισμα) in the person who gave it me. One leads me to think of it as freely given, not earned, and given without condition or price, the others to what moved the person to give. The gift of righteousness is not by working or labor, or acquired fitness or anything on my part. It is a free gift, δωρεά, but the δωρεά is ἐν χἀριτι. God's divine favor and grace were the origin of this gift; so in verse 16 his mind goes up to God as a source; it is therefore χάρισμα in the beginning of the verse. And it is a gift—the fact simply; but is it not to be as large as the evil? It is a χάρισμα of God; this cannot but be. Whereas in verse 15 he is contrasting abstractedly man's fall and offense with God's giving: hence it is χάρισμα.
As to the difference of (δώρημα and δωρεά, the former word is used but twice, here and in James 1:17, where the mind rests in the thing given, in δωρεά in its quality. In English we use “gift” for both. “What did you give for that?” “Nothing; it is a gift. I have it as a δωρεά.” “What is your gift?” “It is a beautiful Bible, a δὠρημα.” So we use “hope” for the thing hoped for and the quality. That δωρεά is the quality we see when adverbially used, δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε. Δωρεά then is the general word which characterizes what I get. You may remark that all the words in verse 16 have this form; that is, are objectively looked at as a complete subsisting thing: δώρημα, κρίμα, κατάκριμα, χάρισμα. In James 1:17 we have δόσις and δώρημα.
As to these forms, and so in δίκαιος, many of your readers may be, but perhaps all are not, aware that the ordinary rule is that words derived from the perfect passive have their force according to the person: the first person the objective thing or act, the second the doing, the third the doer, μα, σις, της: as κρίμα the judgment pronounced, the thing itself imputed, κρίσις judging as an act, κριτής the judge. So δόσις is properly giving, δότης a giver. I add here κατά compounded with a word gives intenseness to it, as ἔχω to have, κατἐχω, to hold, hold fast, take and keep fast, χράω, καταχρἀω, to use as a possession what belongs to me. These become modified in use. Κρίμα is the thing of which I am accused and for which I am judged. Christ's κρίμα was put on the cross, what He was condemned for; it is the thing imputed to me. κατάκριμα is actual condemnation; δικαἰωμα the objective sum total, which being accomplished gives me righteousness as far as that sum total goes: hence an ordinance or such a fulfillment of required righteousness as makes my righteousness complete as to that. If it is before God, it must be according to God and absolute. Hence we have the δικαιώματα of the saints. Zacharias kept the δικαιώματα of the law blameless. It is the sum total of what is required. Δικαιοσὐνη is the abstract idea or the quality, the thing righteousness. κίκαιος is what any one is; δικαιοσὐνη is that thing which having he is δίκαιος. Christ is made unto us δικαιοσὐνη. I have this character before God, but the δικαἰωμα of the law is to be fulfilled in us, the full requirement of the law. So verse 16 speaks “of many offenses” to δικαἰωμα, to the full requirement of what must be for me to be δίκαιος before God. It is not to justify me (however true before God), but the full sum of that needed for my being accounted just. Justification of life is δικαίωσις, the net of justifying, but being in the new place or state beyond death, it is in life as Christ is risen. In verse 17 I have the gift of δικαιοσὐνης, that is, the state God sees me in or has given to me in Christ. But the one δικαἰωμα is the full required total, the act which met the whole requirement.
I believe I have answered, I hope rightly, all the questions you have put to me. The English mind is little used to the niceties of Greek language; still they are often of value to one that studies, and result in greater general clearness of statement. Some of the verses of this passage are as badly translated as any in the New Testament or worse, as especially verse 18. Those in the parenthesis (15, 16, 17) are all much clearer, I think, if put as a question.

David and His Friends

2 Sam. 17:27-29
What solemn changes in all within and around does sin work, what new relationships to places and persons it forces us to take!
This is sorrowfully experienced by David. Nathan, the prophet, had in earlier days been sent to David with words of approval and encouragement and all was in honor between them. But when David had sinned, the same Nathan is sent to him with words of terrible rebuke and conviction. (2 Sam. 7; 12)
So again, in other days David listens to the reproaches of a profane one of the house of Saul, but he could answer such reproaches with holy boldness. But after his sin, he is scorned and insulted again by the profane of the house of Saul, but the spirit of holy boldness has departed from him. He cannot reply to Shimei as he had replied to Michal. (2 Sam. 6; 16)
Another illustration of this is seen in David's connection with the house of Machir of Lo-debar. In the day of his integrity David sends to Machir for Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, who had been long and graciously entertained there. With noble heart David then brings the son of his bosom-friend home to him to Jerusalem, and makes him to eat continually at his own table. But afterward, in the time when his sin had found him out, Machir supplies David with the commonest necessaries. (2 Sam. 9; 17)
What bitter changes for the heart were all these! The more vain and proud the nature is, the more would all this be felt; in some cases the trial would be all but intolerable. It would be then “the sorrow of the world which worketh death.” With David however it was otherwise. It became “godly sorrow that worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of.” David did not feel the sorrow as the “sorrow of the world,” sinking under it, as in the sight of men. But he bowed his head under the punishment of sin as in the fear of God, and then, as “godly sorrow,” nothing less than “salvation” was the end of it.
How beautiful, how precious with God when in circumstances like this the “sorrow of the world” is prevailed over in the soul by “godly sorrow;” when all this is taken up in reference to the Lord, and not to man! That is the difference. But how difficult!
Moral mischief however not only worked all this change in David's own relationships to the scene around him, but it tested others also. This is exhibited in the history. There are three distinguished personages who stand this testing and have their grace and virtues variously but sweetly exercised: Shobi the Ammonite, Machir of Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim. Shobi was the younger brother of Haman the king of the Ammonites, who had treated David's courtesy at the time of the death of his father with such slight and insult. And, I doubt not, that on this occasion Shobi had deprecated his elder brother's way, and been attracted by the grace and nobleness of David; so that, in the subsequent day of David's guilt and degradation, Shobi has a right mind still, though in changed circumstances. He joins other worthy ones in comforting the poor exiled king of Israel. (See 2 Sam. 10; 17)
Machir was the Son of Ammiel of Lo-debar, a man, we may presume, of note and station, in the half tribe of Manasseh beyond Jordan. In earlier days he had received into his house the lame child of that worthy son of Israel, Jonathan the son of king Saul, and had been a comfort to him in the day of the national trouble when the house of Saul and Jonathan his father was sinking. And so, when David is sinking, and he is suffering the grievous visitation of his terrible iniquity, the same right mind appears again in this true man of God, and he likewise joins in comforting David. David was as in prison, and he visits him. (See 2 Sam. 9; 17)
Barzillai was a great man, a man of note and substance in the land of Gilead, beyond the Jordan. But he never appears in the history till David is distressed; and he is willing to disappear as soon as that distress is over. He was the friend in need. But though unknown before, his mind had been that of a man of God, in secret, like many in every day of Israel's or the church's history; for he takes the path of the Spirit in a moment when nature in even some of its refined and moral judgments would have gone astray. He treats David's sorrow as a sacred thing, and adds not to the grief of him whom God in holy gracious discipline is wounding. He heartily joins Machir and Shobi in sending to David in his hunger and thirst and nakedness. (See 2 Sam. 17; 19)
We may say, in the review of all this, what a chapter in 2 Samuel is chapter 11! How the whole book morally turns on that, the complexion of David's history thus awfully changing with his conduct!


DEATH.—Death for the utter setting aside of man (as well as atonement in Christ) has a far more important character than we are apt to think. It judges of course the flesh as hopelessly bad, but it ends it. As Christ's death it declares that no link could be formed with the first man. Divine infinite love came down, and, while divine, suited itself to every want and sorrow of man, to his whole condition. “Because the children were in flesh and blood, he partook of the same,” but remained alone till death. Thus His death was the solemn declaration that there could be no link between grace and flesh. Hence as His disciples we must hate our father, mother, wife, life, all that is a link here, to follow Him, forsaking all we have—it may be outwardly but always as regards the new life. It is not in the old relationships, though it respects them as formed of God and all His ordinances; but in it we reckon ourselves dead, crucified with Christ. Our life is only a life which is of Him as risen, He as risen is our life. Then if we are dead with Him, we have not the nature as in Him, which has to do with sin, the world, the law. I am not alive in it at all; I am in Christ, alive by Him as a quickening Spirit. I eat His flesh and drink His blood. I realize His death, and so abide in Him, living δἰ αὐτὸν as He lived διὰ τὸν πατέρα.
How completely this sets aside the whole thing! I am dead and gone as to flesh, and all to which it had to say, and yet because of Him I am alive; and this only is Christianity. I have to seek its realization, and may at first see only forgiveness by it. But except I eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, I have no life in me; if I do, I am alive in and by reason of and for Him. But it is death to all connected with nature because of nature. No doubt it will contend against us; but we are not in it now at all. How immense and total a change is Christ's death to us! Then we have to seek, always bearing the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal body.
PSALMS 50, 51—Remark the difference and connection. Psa. 1 is God's judgment of the earth. It takes up those who have made a covenant with sacrifice. God is judge Himself, and judges His people in order to shine out of Zion and call all the heathen thither. But while He gathers His saints by sacrifice, in judging Israel He owns nothing of theirs. He rejects all ceremonial service and requires real righteousness, setting before them what they have done.
In Psa. 51 is the people's (the remnant's) confession after all this. Here we find sin in the heart fully judged. The Psalmist owns indeed the sins, and then, when reconciled, will teach others. Bloodguiltiness in respect of Christ is owned. No outward legal sacrifices are here offered (they would have been if acceptable), but a broken heart. That is, though Israel be guilty of Christ's death, they are taken in God's judgment on their own ground. They are judged for ungodliness, practical ungodliness, in their pretended boasting in law. In the saints' confession inward sin is owned, and inward divine teaching and grace looked for, and Christ's death confessed—indeed all the blood shed, but especially Christ's death. God's mind is understood.
In the former psalm plain conscience is looked for in a people pretending to be religious; previous legal relationship only in moral reality in Psa. 1, and heart-felt need of God and of Christ's death, in the divinely touched remnant, in Psa. 51 What God does not require, the divinely taught mind does not offer. What must be in true relationship with God it looks for from grace. The ungodly offer what God does not want, and do not heed facts in what conscience ought to know, and as to Christ's death, they are never aware of their guilt under it, through hardness of heart. The contrast is very distinct.

Defilement for the Dead

Num. 19
Without pretending to enter into the details of this chapter, I would point out some points in the type of such importance and so little appreciated by the children of God generally, that we cannot have them too often brought before us. For I think that this portion, as indeed the word of God in general, is the revelation not of the mercy that brings us nigh to God so much as of His continuing, sustaining, restoring grace. This will never sanction our distance from Him again in a practical way. Happily the considerations I refer to are quite plain.
First, there was the sacrifice; and here the blood that was sprinkled before God, as the foundation of all the rest, was a complete thing never renewed. It was sprinkled seven times before the tabernacle. Whatever might be the circumstances, the sprinkling was never renewed. To have supposed such a thing would be to endanger the foundation. It is true that God never raises a question about the perfect efficacy of the blood of Christ. Scripture never yields such a thought as the renewal of the blood of Christ; for this is the very point in which the sacrifice of Christ stands contrasted with the sacrifices of the law over and over again in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Wherever there is the thought of fresh sprinkling of the blood, a man is on Jewish and not on Christian ground. It is not merely that His sacrifice has been made once, but we are perfected forever through that one offering. It is a thing done once for all. This is the first thing to notice. “Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times.”
But then there was another want. How are we to have our communion restored if broken by defilement? In fact, we know that the children of God are in the circumstances of great temptation and trial, and that they have not only a tempter without, but a nature within which would constantly drag them into sin. I do not mean that there is any necessity for a child of God to fail: there is no need for it, nor does God in any way tempt to evil. On the contrary, he who has found Christ, and yet fails in the way of sin, is always inexcusable. To allow the thought that God's providence has to do with this, is scarce short of blasphemy. Even, if unhappily wrong, let us beware of adding to it the aggravation of throwing it upon God, and of excusing ourselves at His cost.
But what does God provide for the sorrowful circumstances of the one who forgets Him? This is what we find in the second part of the chapter, and what was really His peculiar object in the red heifer. For the body of the heifer, her skin, her flesh, her dung, everything that belonged to her, was all to be burnt, and the ashes to be religiously kept. Nor was it merely what was in the heifer that had to be burned, but into the burning had to be thrown cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet; the cedar wood and hyssop referring to nature in all its extent—embracing the whole range of that which was originally very good; but which man only uses as an instrument for departure from God. Scarlet, in scripture, is the continual figure of the pride of the world. Here then we have all these thrown into the burning of the heifer, as a witness of the circumstances of the trial, or the means of defilement. Of all this the ashes were to be kept.
It will be observed, again, that God marks in a peculiar way the defiling effects of death, because it set forth in a special manner the slips and failures of the children of God, while passing through the wilderness. And hence it is only given in Numbers, because it is a provision for the wilderness. If one had anything to do with the heifer, the person became unclean. The priest and he that burnt it were unclean. And if a person that was clean had to gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, he too was rendered unclean. All this was to mark the nicety of God, this deep feeling about anything that had to do with our defilement. In Christ, where this is found, there is of course the absence and opposite of uncleanness. Christ was the only one that could touch the leper without being defiled. The intention was to skew the delicate feeling that God would have in His people about any defilement. “He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.”
There was no haste in a soul's restoration from impurity. “He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean.” If a man tampered with sin, God at least would not make light of his sin. He would give the soul the profit of being exercised about it. It was in vain for such an one to say, I am sprinkled with the blood—I am clean: why should I trouble more about the sin? Such thoughts do not come from the Holy Ghost. Instead of our being sprinkled with Christ's blood being a reason for taking comfort in the presence of sin, it is the strongest motive for shame and humiliation. What a stain on His name, and what a pain to our hearts that, after God had attracted us by His mercy to hear His word, and had given us Christ's blood to purge our sins, here again we were indulging in that which required the suffering of the Son of God! The blood is not the appointed way for meeting sin afterward. The flesh uses that to make light of sin. It is not the blood that was here used to purify, but the ashes of the heifer. What did they represent? The full proof of judgment. There might have been the blood without the intense suffering that the reducing of the heifer to ashes produced. It is what Christ suffered that is brought to my remembrance by the Holy Ghost. The ashes were mingled with living water. The power of the Holy Ghost—His present action in using the remembrance of the sufferings of Christ. It is not the truth of sacrifice that is used, but of His sufferings on the cross—His going through the judgment of the sin before God. My soul is brought back to this, not merely as a redeemed person, but as one who thinks of what it cost the Lord Jesus Himself.
There were two applications. There is slowness and deliberation. Everything must be complete. The man must be under the effect of the water seven days, going through in his spirit the sorrow of not standing in his full privileges among the people of God. Christianity no doubt has nothing to do with times and seasons; but they are here significant of great principles. It is not that a man must now be a week before being entitled to renew his enjoyment of communion with God again. Yet this is true—that if a soul has got defiled with sin and is not led by the Holy Ghost to judge it in God's presence, he cannot regain practical communion with God. He is a liar according to the strong language of the Holy Ghost. The full force of that word applies to a man that never knew God. But so far as a Christian, through the deceit of Satan, makes light of sin, he is an offender against the true character of God. Is not this a very serious thought? I am sure there are few of us who feel its weight as we ought. We take a comparatively light view of our slips and failures in word and deed against the Lord. The effect of the failure should be to lead our souls to regard Jesus in all His sufferings, and to go in spirit through what that particular evil cost the Lord—what it was for God to judge it—what the Lord Jesus felt in taking it upon Him before God; for indeed He did take it all. If so, what is the effect? The man acquires a strength and a deeper knowledge of God's grace than he ever had before, and a practical acquaintance with the deceitfulness of sin and of his own heart; so that instead of Satan gaining an advantage, the man gets fresh blessing for his soul. But how often, instead of this, have we alas! to see a person tampering with evil. Then it becomes so grave that even the eyes of others see it. Then perhaps it goes farther still; the very world sees it—too truly sees a careless unholy walk. What is the consequence? The man slips completely away. He gets farther and farther, until alas! it is only the discovery to himself and to others of what was true from the first—there never was a living link between that soul and God. Still it remains true, that what is destruction to an unconverted man is dangerous and hurtful to a Christian. Wherever we tamper with sin, in ourselves or in others, there is defilement. If the unclean person touched anything, it became unclean. Sin leads on from one bad step to another, unless we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ about it.
The difference of the days I understand to be this. The third day represents that there must be the feeling of his condition as an unclean man. If it was a question of anything evil, the principle of the law was that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word should be established. Two was the absolute number that was necessary in order to prove anything: but three was more than sufficient. On the third day the unclean was to purify himself with these ashes of the heifer. On the seventh day the thing was repeated—the uncleanness is again brought before the soul by the Spirit of God, and then the person resumes his place among the people of God.
But to take a New Testament instance, let us look at Peter. See how he broke down in spite of the Lord's warning. It is not that Peter had less affection for Christ than the other disciples; the reason was because Peter had great confidence in his love for Christ and therefore rushed into circumstances where none but the Lord could stand, and from which the other disciples held back. And therefore coming more into the light, into the place where Christ was, he only proved the flesh more clearly than the others did. The others had not come into the same circumstances of temptation. But how does the Lord restore Peter? First of all, when He turned and looked upon him, Peter goes out and weeps bitterly. That will illustrate what is meant by the third day's purifying. The whole work might be done in a short time; but it must be really done. It is the grave, deliberate self-judgment, the power of weighing the thing in all its hatefulness before God. Peter, when the Lord looks upon him, remembers the word that Jesus had spoken unto him. That is the way the Holy Ghost works. It is not merely a feeling, but the word of the Lord brought back to Peter's mind. Now it seems to me that the word thus brought home to him exactly answers to the ashes of the heifer applied to the man that was unclean on the third day. There was the sprinkling for the first time.
But the process was not yet complete, though it was going on. For when a man is in an actively evil state, he would not, as Peter did, desire to see the Lord again; He would have kept away from the sepulcher. If the Holy Ghost had not been working in Peter's soul, he would have avoided, instead of desiring to be near the Lord. But he showed living faith because he wanted to see and hear the Lord. The Lord, however, waits. The work was not done at once, and it was not till some time after that Peter is with the Lord in John 21. The beautiful interview between them recorded in that chapter illustrates the second purifying—when the Lord so seriously and withal so affectionately asked him, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” There was not one word said about his denying the Lord. But if Peter did not understand at first, the Lord would not let him go, and repeats once and again the question, till the whole root is laid bare, and Peter felt what the Lord really meant. Yet said He “Feed my sheep.” It was not merely that He looked for Peter himself to be by grace His faithful follower in the thing in which he had failed; but he confided that which was the precious object of His love to the man who had denied his Master. There we have the seventh day. It was digging down to the root of the wrong. What was the occasion of this fall? Peter had trusted not in the Lord's love to Peter, but in Simon's love to the Lord. It was in no small degree a natural affection though there was more and better mixed with it. And so, I suppose, it is that the Lord calls him by his name “Simon, son of Jonas.” He was resting on his affection for Christ, not on Christ Himself. And I believe we are very little alive to the extent in which we give credit to nature for being grace. There is a vast deal of nature about the truest Christian, and it was just Simon's mistake not to suspect it. But the Lord shows him that no flesh shall glory in His presence, but he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
After this, the work being done, Simon returns to his place of ease and happiness in the Lord's presence. And now too he can undertake the Lord's work, broken in spirit and in communion with Himself, about to go at a later day both to prison and to death for His sake. How completely grace restores the soul!

The Dying and the Life of Jesus

2 Cor. 4
Two things are remarkable in this chapter: first how entirely it is a new power by which we are enabled to glorify God, although we are so apt to mix up with it human energy and strength, and so bring in weakness: secondly, the deep consciousness the apostle had of the value of the saints to the Lord. Therefore he could say “all things are for their sakes,” and that is how he looks at himself, and offers himself a sacrifice— “ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. He could say “troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken,” &c. “Always bearing about in my body,” &c. “For we which live are always delivered unto death.” “So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” He gives himself up to them and says, I am content to be all this and to suffer all this, yea, to lose my life for your sake. It is all right. I ought to be a sacrifice for you; it is God's object I should be for you, for He who was entitled to glory was content to lose the whole, and to give up Himself, even His Messiahship. Christ gives up Himself for us, and therefore Paul could say “All things are for your sakes.” It is encouraging and cheering of heart to know that all things are for our sakes, that the abundant grace, &c. Then the vessels in which the Lord may choose His grace to work are counted as sheep for the slaughter; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. Death works in us, but life in you. Just so far as death works in ourselves, life can work by us in blessing to others. And I would just say here, it is a remarkable way in which the apostle took Christ's place: of course it was Christ's grace in him. By bearing about in the body the dying—not mine, but the death of Christ, that has put an end to him, that another power might work by him. The glory is not veiled as was Moses; it is with an opened face that we behold the unveiled glory of Christ when received. If our gospel be veiled, it is to them that are lost. The word of God has come out of us as bright as it came in God has not put anything to dim it: the entire fault is in their eyes. If I light a candle, it is to shine. God lit up this in Paul to shine, and, if not seen then, it is their blindness. As far as my energy is concerned, it is death, always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. Not Paul's life, but the life of Jesus; “knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also.” He is counting on the same power that raised up Jesus raising him. Just as Christ took the resurrection, as the answer to natural death, so the apostle, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
What a comfort to be able to say everything is for yourselves! But how far can we say “death worketh in us,” so that the life of Christ should shine—be made manifest in our mortal body? If it is to shine out of our hearts, it must be as bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, and then, come what will, we can say that the full portion of Christ is ours.


Page 108, col. 1, line 9, for “one” read “the;” col. 2, line 22, for “words” read “word;” line 43, for “Jesus” read “John.” Page 109, col. 2, line 8, delete “of entree;” line 42, delete “of.” Page 110, col. 1, line 43, for “as” read “so.” Page Ill, col. 2, line 35, for “actively” read “actively evil.”

Evil Only Judged Fully in the Light

The Lord's purpose in trials is often to get at the root of evil. When the fruit from that evil root is seen, the saint himself is shocked and mourns over it very sincerely. But then fresh fruit springs and will spring from it as long as the root remains untouched; but coming to the light, it is discovered and judged. A Christian may be doing a great deal out of the presence of God. Look at Job, and hear all his words; but at last the pressure brings him into the very presence of God. Then his words of repining and complaint are stopped. “I have heard of thee,” says he, “by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself,” &c. nearness to God never lessens responsibility. When in the light, every speck will be seen; to the saint when caught up to meet the Lord; to the world, when judged before the throne.
Light must make manifest. It could not hinder our joy because of our standing in such fullness of grace, and the grace too that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Peter never judged the self-confidence of his heart, that which had led to his fall, till the searching question of the Lord which brought out his reply, “Thou knowest all things.” Sadly as he had failed, yet at the bottom of his heart, the Lord's searching eye could see that he loved the Lord. Notwithstanding his going out and weeping bitterly, or the love for his Master manifested by his visit to the sepulcher, and his casting his coat about him, and going through the sea to Him, Peter was not restored till the searching of the Lord brought from him, at the third inquiry, “Thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”
But is there not a time when the counsels of every heart will be made manifest? Yes, when this comes, every one will have praise of God. The counsels of each will have praise of God; for every saint's heart, however he may fail, is to glorify the Lord. We may make many mistakes, and be drawn aside; but after all the counsel of his heart, his inmost desire, is to glorify God.
Peter could no longer appeal to his purposes (his acts of course not), but simply cast himself on the Lord's all-searching power. “Thou knowest all things.”
Then, whereas Peter had formerly in the energy of nature professed to be ready to suffer even to death, the Lord, now that He had searched him, shows that he should serve in the breaking down of his own will, even unto the very death be, from true love to his Master, desired to suffer. Then, and not till then, Jesus says, after this full revelation of what is involved, “Follow me.” Had there been any very deep work wrought in Peter's heart by the Lord's look that melted him to tears, he would not have been the first to say, “I go a fishing.”

Faith Overcomes All Accusing Recollections, Hope Overcomes All Present Attractions

Family Character and Family Religion: Family Character?1

Family Character
Gen. 11:28.
There was, as we know, a day of visitation of the house of Torah. The family of Shem had become very corrupt, and in the days of Torah, the sixth or seventh from Shem, they were serving false gods. But the power of the Spirit and the call of the God of glory, visited the ear and the heart of Abram, the son of Terah, and separated him from that corruption.
We also know, that a godly influence extended itself from this in the family. Terah the father, Sarah the wife, and Lot the nephew, join Abram in this, and they all leave the land of Mesopotamia together.
Nahor, however, another of Terah's sons, did not come within this influence. He was comfortably settled at home with his wife, and at home they remained, when Torah, Abram, Sarah, and Lot, took their departure from the land of their fathers. (Chap. 11.)
This is to be much observed, for the like of it we may witness every day. One of the family becomes the first subject of divine power, and then family religion, or the knowledge of the Lord Jesus in the household, spreads itself, but some remain uninfluenced.
Of course we know that each quickened soul must be equally the object of the hidden effectual drawings and teachings of the Father. (See John 6:44, 45). But I speak of the history or manifested character of the scene. And, as we have seen in the history of this household, Nahor remains unmoved in this day of the visitation. He and his wife continue in Mesopotamia, and they thrive there. Children are born to them; goods and property increase. They pursue an easy and respectable journey across the world; but they do not grow in the knowledge of God, and bear no testimony, or at least small and indistinct testimony to His name.
The character of Nahor's family was thus formed. They were not in gross darkness, like the people of Canaan, descendants of Ham, among whom Abram had now gone to sojourn. They had a measure of light, derived from their connection with Terah and Abram, and as descendants from Shem; but all that was sadly dimmed by the cherished principles of the world from which they had refused to separate themselves. And a family character and standing were thus formed.
This is serious—and all the principle of this is of daily occurrence among us, and of constant application to our consciences.
We lose sight of this family for a time altogether, for of course they are not the direct object of the Spirit's notice; but being connected with Abram, may naturally come within view; and accordingly, in process of time, tidings about them do reach Abram in the distant place of his pilgrimage. (Chap. 22.)
Bethuel was the son of Nahor—one of his many sons rather, and the one most brought into view. He had flourished in the world, and though perhaps a man of little energy, or character himself, had a son named Laban, who most evidently knew how to manage his affairs exceedingly well, and to advance himself and all who belonged to him very advantageously in life. He seems, as we say, to have known the value of money; for the sight of gold could open his mouth with a very hearty and religious welcome even to a stranger. (Chap. 24.) Here, however, we reach a period in the history of this family, which is chiefly to be considered.
A fresh energy of the Spirit is about to visit it. As I have already observed, this family is not in the gross darkness of the Canaanites, nor in the simple idolatrous condition of Terah's house (see Josh. 24), we may assume, when the God of glory called Abram. They had been brought into a certain measure of light, and within a certain standing by profession as Abram's act and word seem to allow. (Chap. 24:4.) But this being so, this being a professing household in some sense, apart from the dark state of the men of the world, it becomes serious to notice the nature of that visitation which the Spirit makes to it. For it will be found to be a separating power or visitation. As the call of the God of glory had before disturbed the state of things in Torah's house, so now the mission of Eliezer disturbed the state of things in Bethuel's house: Abram had then been separated from home and kindred, and so is Rebecca now to be, all this leaving behind it this serious impression, that a respectable professing family may need to be visited by the very same energy of the Spirit as a more worldly or idolatrous family.
This a serious thought. It is a disturbing or separating power of God which now comes into this family, and not simply a comforting or edifying power. This has meaning, I believe. The ministry of Eliezer, God's servant as well as Abram's, came to Bethuel's house to draw Rebecca out of it, and to lead on that very journey which, two generations before, the call of the God of glory had borne Abram. I do indeed judge that there is a lesson in this which is much to be pondered. A professing decent family have to be aroused, and a fresh act of separation produced in the midst of it.
But there is another lesson in the history still.
Rebecca, we know, comes forth at this call. But her character has been already formed, as it is with us all, more or less, before we are converted. The moment of quickening arrives. The separating call and power of the Lord is answered. But it finds us of a certain character, a certain shape and complexion of mind. It finds us, it may be Cretians (Titus 1), or brothers and sisters of Laban, or the like, and “the Cretians are always liars.” Character and mind derived from nature, from education, or from family habits, we shall take with us, after we have been born of the Spirit, and carry it in us across the desert from Mesopotamia to the house of Abram.
This too is serious. It is serious, as I observed before, that a respectable professing family is visited by a separating, and not merely by an edifying, energy of the Spirit; and it is serious, as I now have been tracing, that with the quickening or converting power of the Spirit, nature, or the force of early habits and education, or of family character, will cling still. And these serious lessons the story of Rebecca reads to us.
For I need only briefly speak of what her way was in the further stages of it. It is a well-known story among us, and well known too as very sadly betraying what we may call the family character. Laban her brother, with whom she had grown up, and who was evidently the active stirring one in his father's house, was a subtle, knowing, worldly man. And the only great action in which Rebecca was called to take part gives occasion to her exercising the same principles. In the procuring of the blessing for her son Jacob we see this Laban-leaven working mightily. The family character sadly breaks out then. The readiness of nature to act and take its way shows itself very busily. A mind she had, too little accustomed to repose in the sufficiency of God, and too much addicted to calculate and to lean its hopes on its own inventions.
What have we to do, then, but to watch against the peculiar tendency and habit of our own mind—to rebuke nature sharply, that we may be sound or morally healthful in the faith (Titus 1:3); not to excuse it, because it is nature, but rather the more to suspect it therefore, and to mortify it for His sake who has given us another nature?
These lessons we get from the story of this distinguished woman. Beyond this her way is not much tracked by the Spirit. Was it that He was grieved with her and leaves her unnoticed? At any rate, she reaps nothing but disappointment from the seed she had sown. No good comes of her schemes and contrivances, but the reverse. She loses her favorite, Jacob, and never sees him after the long exile to which her own schemes and contrivances had ended in sending him.
But there is this further to tell. Jacob got his mind formed by the same earliest influence. He was all his days a slow-hearted calculating man. His plan in getting the birthright first, and then the blessing; his confidence in his own arrangements, rather than in the Lord's promise, when he met his brother Esau; and his lingering at Shechem, and settling there, instead of pursuing a pilgrim's life through the land like his fathers: all this betrays nature and the working of the old family character.
What need have we to watch the early seed sown in the heart—yea, and to watch the early or late seed which we are helping to sow in others' hearts! For the fuller details of this history warns us of such things still.
The birth of Esau and Jacob is given us at the close of chapter 25., and as they grow up to be boys, occasion arises to let us look in at the family scene; but it is, as we shall find, truly humbling.
This was one of the families of God, then on the earth. Nay, by far the most distinguished; where lay the hopes of all blessing to the whole earth, and where the Lord, eminently above all, had recorded His name.
But what do we see? Isaac the father had dropped into the stream of human desires: he loved his son Esau because he ate of his venison! We need not stop to consider Esau himself: as a child of the family, he was entitled to the care and provision of the house—that is most true; and Isaac and Rebecca should surely have given him all that, together with their parental love and diligence. But for Isaac to make him his favorite because he ate of his venison, this was sad and evil indeed. Even in this, however, do we not see some further illustration of our subject.
Isaac had been reared tenderly. He had never been away from the side of his mother, the child of whose old age he was. But his education perhaps had relaxed him too much, and he appears before us as a soft and self-indulgent man.
But, O what sad mischief, what grievous defilement opens here to our view, in all this family scene! Are we saying too much, that one parent was helping to comfort one of the children, and the other the other? Indeed there is something like it here, and ground for fears so terrible. Isaac's love of venison may have encouraged Esau in the chase, as Rebecca's cleverness, got and brought from her brother's house in Paran, seems to have formed the mind and character of her favorite Jacob.
O what sorrow and cause of humiliation is here! Is this a household of faith? Is this a God-fearing family? Yes. Children of promise and heirs of His kingdom are these, Isaac, Rebecca, and Jacob. Looked at in other actions, they would delight and edify you. See Isaac in the greater part of chapter 26, and his conduct is beautiful, altogether worthy of a heavenly stranger on the earth: suffering, he threatens not, but commits himself to Him who judges righteously. He suffers, and takes it patiently; and his altar and his tent witness his holy unearthly character. So see Rebecca in chapter 24. In faith she consents to cross the desert alone with a stranger, because her heart was set upon the heir of the promises, leaving home and kindred, forgetting her father and her father's house. But here looked at (in chap. 27.), what shame fills the scene, and how should we blush and be confounded that heirs of promise, and children of God, could so carry themselves!
But shall we go on to expose this even more? I feel that I could; for the heart is not only base and corrupt, but it is daring also, to take its naughtiness even into the sanctuary, as the close of this story shows me.
The word to Aaron, long after this, was, “do not drink wine, nor strong drink, thou nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation.” (Lev. 10) For nature was not to be animated in order to wait on the service of God, nature was not to be raised, or set in action, by its own proper food, for the fulfilling of the duties of the sanctuary: strong drink might exhilarate and give ebullition to animal spirits, but this was not the qualification of a priest.
But even into such a mischief as this, Isaac seems to have been betrayed. “Take, I pray thee,” said he to Esau, “thy weapons, thy quiver, and thy bow, and go to the field, and take me some venison, and make me savory meat such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless thee before I die.” He was going to do the last religious act of a patriarchal priest, and he calls as for wine and strong drink, the food of mere nature, to animate and fill him for the service of the temple! Terrible abomination! “whose god is their belly,” it might be almost said, thus to deliberate on the venison. We may all be conscious how much of nature soils our holy things, how much of the excitement of the flesh may be mistaken for the easy and strong current of the Spirit. We may be aware of this in the places of communion. But this is to be our sorrow; we confess it as evil, and weakness, and watch against it. But to prepare for this, thus carefully to mix the wine and the strong drink, thus advisedly to take a hearty draft, after this manner—surely this is sad abomination We all know full well the guile that Rebecca and Jacob practiced in this scene. I need not rehearse it. As I have said before, it is a well-known story. But the holiness of the Lord consumes every bit of all this. Nothing comes of this subtlety and fleshliness. The holiness of the Lord lays it all in ashes. Isaac loses his Esau, Rebecca never sees Jacob again, for her promised few days were an exile of twenty years, and the calculating supplanter himself finds himself in the midst of toils, and an alien, for that long and dreary season, from his father's house. Nothing comes of all this, whether we look at the carnal policy of the one party, or the fleshly favoritism of the other: all is disappointment, and rebuked by the holiness of the Lord.
Serious, but still most precious lesson! Precious surely it is, to see the Lord thus resenting the uncleanness of even His dearest choicest servants.
But it remains for us to see grace assuming its high triumphant place and attitude. Its holiness is established, by the Lord thus, with great decision, setting aside all advantages which sin had promised itself, and then grace reigns.
In the great mystery of redemption, grace takes its triumphant place in the promise that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head: but there is also, the full execution of all the decrees of holiness against the sin—for death came in as was threatened, and penalties fell on the man, and on the woman, and a curse upon the serpent. So here; Isaac loses his purpose touching Esau, Rebecca has to part with Jacob, and Jacob himself, instead of getting in his own way the birthright and the blessing, has to go forth a penniless exile from the place of his inheritance, and the scene of all his promised enjoyments. For the only wages of sin is death. But then grace takes its high place and bearing. Way is made for it by all this burning holiness to ascend its throne, and there it shines, delighting in the splendor of its own glory. (Chap. 38.)
And it is glorious. Even the misery to which his sin had reduced the object of all this grace only sets off its glory. When even the servant of the house had of old gone forth on a like errand (chap. 24.) he had his camels and attendants, and all entertainment to make his journey across this very desert, honorable and pleasant. But now the son and heir, the promised bridegroom himself, for whom the honor of the house, and the joys of the marriage, were preparing, has to lie down alone, unfriended, uncared-for, unsheltered, the stones of the place his only pillow. But grace, which turns the shadow of death into the morning, is preparing a glorious rest for him; he listens to the voice of wondrous love, and he is shown worlds of light in this place of solitude and darkness. He dreams, and sees the high heavens linked with that very dark and barren spot on which he then lay, and with unwearied feet the heavenly people keeping up the happy intercourse; and he hears the Lord of heaven Himself, at the top of this mystic scene, speaking to him in words of promise, and of promise only. He sees himself thus associated with an all-pervading glory, and heirs of his own present mercies, and consolations though so erring, so poor, and so vile, till all this glory were ready to appear. The holiness of grace still leaves him a wanderer; but the riches of grace will tell him of present consolation and of future and sure glories.
And this is surely so. But it has borne me a little beyond my immediate subject.
There is then such a thing as family character; and the recollection of this, when we are dealing with ourselves, should make us watchful and jealous over all our peculiar habits and tendencies; and, when we are dealing with others, should make us considerate, and of an interceding spirit, disposing us to plead this fact, that there is family character, or force of early habit, and education, working more or less in all of us.
The remembrance of this may in these ways be healthful. But I would not forget to add, that if we are more than likely to gather a certain character from the family, or the habits with which birth and character have already connected us, so are we debtors to exhibit that character with which our birth and education in the heavenly family have since connected us.
In John 8, the Lord reasons upon this ground that our sonship or birth, or family connections, is to be determined by our character or doings. “If ye were the children of Abraham, ye would do the works of Abraham.” This He says, and more of the same kind. And thus we see the necessity of our bearing the family character.
But we are exhorted also to the same thing—to take after our Father, as we might say. In the cultivation of all charities, and unselfish unrequited kindness, the Lord says, “be ye perfect;” and the apostle takes up the same thought in pressing the duty of love and forgiveness, “be ye imitators of God as dear children.”
O then that we may be set on the cultivation of family character! let the old man go down in us, and the new man rise and assert his place in us let the character, be it what it may, which we have gathered from natural ties or natural habits, be watched against; and the character of our heavenly birth be cherished and expressed to His praise, who has begotten us again as alive to and with Himself, from the death in which we lay.

Family Character and Family Religion: Family Religion?2

Family Religion
Gen. 11
This is a history which will be found, I believe, to suggest much occasion for the searching of the heart. I desire grace to handle it wisely and to profit!
Shem, among the sons of Noah, was the sacred branch. Religion was connected with him rather than with his brothers, and from him came the separated people.
In the progress of a few generations, however, this religious family became corrupt; for in less than three hundred years, and we know not how much earlier, we find them serving other gods. (Josh. 24:2.)
This is a common history even to this day. Families as well as churches are seen in a sadly degenerate and corrupt condition, though once they were known for their zeal and service.
The Spirit of God, however, in the sovereignty of grace, visits a son of Terah who was removed eight generations from Shem. The call of the God of glory came to Abram and separated him from those corruptions, and from country and from kindred and from father's house, to fashion him as a new piece of workmanship for the Lord. (Acts 7:2.)
Abram, it appears, made this call known to his family, and (as is often seen to this day among ourselves) this communication has a certain influence among them. Family religion springs from this. The power of the gospel is known at first by one member, and from thence it spreads. And the Lord would have it so. It is a bad symptom (as we may see presently) where this does not take place.
So here. Terah the father gets ready. Nahor, one of his sons, from the whole narrative, we may presume, was not much under this influence; for he, his wife, and children, all abide where they were. But Abram and Abram's wife, and Lot, the son of Terah's deceased son Haran, set out on the divinely appointed journey, and Terah the father apparently takes the lead. (Chap. 11.)
But ere I go farther with the narrative, I would ask, was all this entirely right on Abram's part? The call had been to him. On him the energy of the Spirit had come. Within the range of that energy or influence, the family, it is true, may be brought; but still, did it not belong to Abram to fill that place which this energy had manifestly assigned him? Was there not some conferring with flesh and blood on Abram's part, ere Terah could have been allowed to take the lead in this great movement under the Spirit of God? There may have been. And I rather judge that there was, and that this has to account for the delay at Haran and for the death of Terah there, and for the putting forth of a second energy from the Lord in calling Abram from Haran. (Chap. 11:31-12:1.)
This is all admonitory to us. Family religion is beautiful; but family order or human claims, are not to assume the rights of the Spirit. Beautiful to see Cornelius, or any other in like circumstances, bringing his friends and kindred within that influence which was visiting his house; but if flesh and blood, or human relationship disturb the sovereign progress of the Spirit, we may expect a halt at Haran or at the half-way house again, and the need of a second call (in some sense a second) to set the soul in the path of God afresh.
We may mark and distinguish these things for profit and admonition. However, under this renewed energy of the Spirit, Abram renews his journey, and Sarah his wife and Lot his orphan nephew accompany him. It is a scene of family religion still. And in Lot we see one who was within the verge of the general or family influence. We read of no distinct call on him, or of any sacrifice from him. Not that he represents a mere professor, or one who attaches himself for some end to the people of God. No: he was a righteous man and had a living soul that could be and was vexed with the wickedness of the wicked. (2 Peter 2) But his entrance into the household of faith expresses no energy. It was effected in a family way, as I have been observing—as a thousand cases in our own day. And good such things are. Happy when Sarah the wife, or Terah the father, or Lot the nephew, of these latter days, will go along with our Abrams. This would not be, we know, without the drawing and teaching of the Father. And Lot was as surely an elect one as Abram. But the energy of the call of God is not manifested in him as in Abram—distinctions which we cannot fail to mark continually. It was a personal thing characteristically with Abram; it was a family thing characteristically with Lot. And according to all this, in the very first scene in which Lot was called to act in an independent way we see his weakness.
Abram gives him the choice of the land. And he makes a choice. Now it is not merely in his choosing the goodliest that our hearts condemn him, but in his making a choice at all. In every respect Abram had title to have the first choice, as we speak. He was the elder both in years and relationship. He was principal in all that action which had drawn them to this distant land, and Lot was but, as it were, attached to him. He was noble and generous in surrendering his right to his younger. But Lot was insensible to all this. And he undertakes to make the choice, and then (naturally in the course of such a beginning) he chooses on an entirely worldly principle. He takes the well-watered plain for his flocks and his herds, though that took himself near the defiled city. (Chap. 13.)
This first trial of Lot is thus a painful witness against him. It argues the weakness in which faith or the kingdom of God had been brought forth in his soul. Abram's way was very different, for the voice of the God of glory had been powerfully heard by him, detaching him from that world to which Lot was still adhering. And all this has language in our ears.
It is soon discovered what a disappointing world Lot was choosing. The well-watered plain soon becomes a field of battle; and had it not been for Abram or Abram's God, Lot would have lost his liberty and all his possessions there.
But it is still more sad to have to tell it, that this first disappointment does not free his heart from its unholy attachment. He takes up Sodom a second time, till he is forced to remove by the hand of God Himself. If when the watered plain became a field of slaughter, Lot refused to learn its character and to leave it, he shall learn it by its becoming burning heaps in the day of the Lord.
Melancholy catastrophe shameful end of an earthly-minded believer! What a voice for us all this has! Here was a saving so as by fire, a running out of a house in flames, an inglorious departure from the world! We may lay the admonition to heart, and watch against the first look toward the watered plains of Sodom. (Chap. 14.—15)
In the whole of this, indeed, we get great lessons, whether of comfort or of warning. It tells us that family religion is a beautiful thing, and that true godliness may begin in that way as in Abram's house. But it admonishes us that each one in the scene should take good care to cultivate the power of godliness in a very personal way, lest our religion betray the weakness of a mere general or family influence, and in a little season leave not a trace behind it.
Under Abram family religion, as I was observing, did spread, but not under Lot; for his wife continued with the mind of Sodom in her, and is made a beacon-light to warn passengers on their way to this hour. His two daughters defile themselves and become the parents of two such corrupt seeds as are denied, under special prohibition (Deut. 23:2), any place in God's house; and his sons-in-law, when he spoke to them of judgment, profanely thought that he was a trifler or a fool.
Here surely is serious matter for our souls to deal with If our religion or profession of Christ have sprung up under the influence of a family atmosphere, we have warning here to watch and cultivate a deep and personal power of godliness, in holy fear and suspicion of the weakness of the root of such a plant.
But again, if our profession of Christ have not more or less, as in the case of Abram, spread an influence in the family, we have great reason to be humbled and to fear that it is so, because like Lot we have not in our own persons exhibited faiths in its separating and victorious power.
Lessons of serious and holy importance on the subject of family religion are in that way read to us by this little history. It tells us, as I have said, that we ought to be the means of spreading it; but that if we ourselves are the subject of its influence, we should watch specially as those who have special reason to suspect their weakness. For it is equally said by the same perfect unerring Spirit, “Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another;” and again, “Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Family religion is thus honored by the Lord, but the thorough and the personal power of it is also assisted. The fathers to the children are to make known the truth (Isa. 38), but each man must be born again, or he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Beautiful to see “unfeigned faith” dwelling in one generation after another of the same family, as in the grandmother Lois, the mother Eunice, and the child Timothy; but it is beautiful also to read, in the third of those family generations, the tears and the affections which draw up the full persuasions that their religion is not imitative or educational, or the mere catching of a family influence, but the precious inwrought power of a kingdom which God Himself has set up in the soul.
“What we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us, we will not hide from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.”
J. G. B.

Fellowship in Days of Ruin

ONE may often get a principle for action out of the Old Testament, whilst living under the New. “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” It does not exhaust itself upon the occasion of being written. It serves for other events and other times than those under which it was given. So too out of the New. Some of the Epistles of Paul, 2 Timothy for instance, were written in the forecast of the dark days of evil which were to come, the symptoms of which, indiscernible to an unpracticed eye, were present to Paul who saw full well that they were to come to maturity in our present Christendom. Besides what was before his eyes, he also prophesies of the evil days (Acts 20:29, 30 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3) which were to come.
We may well adore that goodness which allows thousands of souls to live on in “patient continuance in well doing” among their fellow Christians, without any realization of the painful picture placed before us in such passages. They feed, we trust, to the full on such heavenly truths as are found in the Gospel of John—truths which set forth the relationships of children to a Father, and they partake of that redeeming grace which has made them God's own forever! Happy souls!
It is certain notwithstanding that we are bound to know the whole mind of God—His entire revealed will—and if along with them, we are privileged to appropriate the truths set forth in John's Gospel and to hold them in common with all Christians, we must still not hang back from any statements, which, however trying to the flesh, however separating, are sure to give occasion to fresh disclosures of the love and power of Jesus. For that word is sure: “Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to know the Lord.”
If then we learn from Jude, or 2 Peter, or 2 Timothy the corrupt condition of Christendom, would there be any fellowship for us with God, peculiar and proper, arising out of this knowledge, constituting as it were a fresh element of communion with Him and with one another, always remembering that the more general character of Christian fellowship remains intact? Let us turn for a moment, as a kind of introduction to Mal. 3 This book is a closing up of the Old Testament canon, and being more especially addressed to the priests, gives, according to the maxim “like people like priest,” by a picture of what those had become who ought to have been the best (for “the priests' lips should keep knowledge”) an intimation of the condition of the nation at large. Before speaking of the remnant, or feeble few who confessed the Lord, it sums up the state of the mass with these words: “And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.” As soon as this is said, there is a discovery of the remnant of true believers. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another,” &c. These few were doubtless in attendance upon the temple with others; but they had a peculiar fellowship arising from a common agreement as to the state of the nation, which brought out what was in the heart of God towards them—no doubt too felt by them. “The Lord hearkened and heard and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon his name.” They had true association with God in all that He was (or, at all events, would have been) to Israel, but in addition to this, they had fellowship with Him and with one another as to its fallen state, and, we may add, were no doubt looking out for the Messiah, under whom the real hopes of the nation would be realized. Simeon and Anna of Luke's Gospel were their legitimate successors.
We do not dwell on this, interesting though it be, but pass on to the New Testament in order to select two or three instances, among many, which give the character of fellowship for those who apprehend the true state of things around. The first is from the Epistle to the Hebrews. We find Paul writing it to show doctrinally the entire superiority of everything connected with the person and offices of the Lord Jesus to the person and offices of Moses and Aaron. In this view we may say that “perfect” is the keyword. But there is another line of thought; viz., he brings the true nature of Christian worship and approach to God before our eyes, in the way of pictures from the Jewish tabernacle. In this view we might say that the approachableness of God is the leading thought. But then at the end (chap. 13.) Judaism in his eyes turns out to be utterly corrupt and sentenced; and we are told to “go forth unto him [Jesus] without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Compare Ex. 33:7 for the prototype of this.) They were to leave the whole Jewish system behind and to come out in a new order of things, of which Jesus Himself was to be the center, as He was indeed also the substance. With Him outside the camp, they had also communion with Him as the High Priest in the holiest. Their fellowship had a new order of existence, entirely distinct from those Jewish elements to which hitherto they had been clinging.
But it is in Jude more particularly that, in the face of a corrupt Christendom, the recommendations or injunctions are more explicit and pointed. Jude depicts departures from God of all kinds—from the order of nature in Sodom and Gomorrha—the angels not keeping their first estate. Then come Cain, Balsam, Core, all in full-blown character in the last days. And observe, it is not like the Epistle of John where “they went out from us, because they were not of us,” which has also its tale to tell; but here the corruption is within, “certain men crept in,” “spots in your feasts of charity.” It is the general condition of inside corruption. Now comes the exhortation: “Ye beloved, building up yourselves in your most holy faith,” &e.
We have already said that we bless God for all the truth adapted to every phase of the Christian's life—we have common concern in it with all who are Christians, and are not, if indeed we see the ruin, one whit better than those who do not; but did the remnant shown to us in Malachi lose by their discovery of the condition the hopeless condition of that nation, a part of which they were? By no means—they are gainers. Like Daniel, they had (it may be) sorrowful communion with the Lord about it; but they were in fellowship with His thoughts, and so He met them, for it is everything to have fellowship with His thoughts. To be sure they were marked persons, and whenever their history is opened to us, whether in the Psalms or in a suffering Jeremiah, there is persecution; but their sorrow had its counterpart of joy, and they had the hope of the coming Messiah.
Here let us guard ourselves particularly, and vindicate the ways of our gracious God, for it is an unprofitable task to be engaged in the dissection of evil. “I would have you wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil.” (Rom. 16:1.9; Comp. Jer. 4:22.) The poring over evil does not in itself improve our tone of soul, and if the Lord shows it to us, it is not that we should be engaged with it. No, He would have us in the enjoyment of Himself, notwithstanding the mischief which Satan has worked. He has made a certain fellowship for us in the midst of the evil. We have all our necessities met in Himself and with one another: “Ye, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith.” Here we find a company— “yourselves” —recognizing that their faith is a “most holy” one, in contrast with the oft-repeated word “ungodly” of verses 15-18. They recognize too the Holy Ghost as the One who alone gives power and efficacy to prayer, “praying in the Holy Ghost,” and they keep themselves “in the love of God.” Is not this all declaratory of a fact that in the midst of evil their resources were in God, and were richly found from Him, whilst at the same time realizing their own weakness, insufficiency, failure, they were “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life?” Others were denying His lordship, that is, His authority over them; whilst they were owning it to the full, and looking for the consummation of His mercy in receiving them to Himself at His coming. It was a sense of true fellowship with the Lord and with one another in view of the existing state of evil, or, if the expression be allowed, proper to it. They are words expressly addressed to those who are in earnest, who see the dishonor done to the name of the Lord in Christendom. Isolation is not contemplated, although separation is, for we find companions in the same tribulation. This is all-important.
As to one peculiarity of the times we live in, be must be but a casual observer who does not perceive in the ecclesiastical proceedings which come daily before us that Christians, whether individually or collectively, do not recognize that God has any controversy with them. From the (Ecumenical Council downwards, through convocations, synods, diocesan societies, church unions, and the many other channels for the display of united energies, there seems no consciousness of anything being wrong. Does Popery fill up the Epistle of Jude Is it not rather a “general” Epistle? and we would ask, Can there be any true blessing (church blessing, be it observed, being sought for throughout by these combined exertions) with the condition of failure unrecognized? Surely not. We have a wonderful divine writing with the elements of latter-day mischief indicated very prominently in it, and along with this a very clear path marked out for those who see it; and we are persuaded, that, together with the cultivation of all that is suitable to Christ individually, if we take any ground of united action, we shall fail unless we are aware of the condition of Christendom. Immense energies are at work to set up something imposing, by which simple souls are beguiled. It is akin to the Laodicean condition, “Because thou sayest I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked;” whilst there is the rarely realized sense of the general failure, with a resource to be found in God Himself alone. We may remark also, that it is not enough to say, that this or that is wrong, and I will endeavor to improve it by setting up what is right. This state of feeling, honorable and true in itself, implies hope of recovery, such as was hoped for, when sects with really right intentions split off from a mother church. As a result, it comes to be one system in opposition to another—one perhaps, in outward form, far more scriptural than another; but with the direct power of the Holy Ghost lacking in each. It is simply because they have not got upon the ground (the church thought being still the only one we are recognizing) on which He can act. What we do need to see is, that church recovery is hopeless; but that in this condition God remains true, Christ remains true, and the Holy Ghost remains true. Indeed the question assumes this form, not the building up of churches but of souls, “Ye beloved, building up yourselves.” Moreover those who see the failure have this particular vantage ground, that they are able to help and warn many a tried and anxious soul, according to that word, “Of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.”
Finally, with saints of this complexion, the first thought should be, fellowship, not discipline, nor preaching, nor teaching; there is no such thought in our type passages out of Malachi and Jude. It is quite true there can be no pretense to combined associations, call them by what name you will, without teaching and without discipline; but in the latter days this is not the first, the primary, thought. Things have gone beyond this. It is not how to keep things in order, but felt communion with God. Hence there must be a certain experience reached before one can enter into the thoughts given us in Jude's Epistle. This fellowship is not upon the ground of ruin, for Christ must be ever our true ground of fellowship, but is only an element of it. If this element be omitted, one is sure to be found setting up something; and if so, it is almost certain to be pulled down again. But if in real intelligence of the thoughts of God, things or persons that we have had hopes of fail, we are never disappointed, for fellowship may be with two or three as well as two or three thousand. Once being settled as to the character of communion for the latter days, you may own every feeble saint or newly converted child, for you have among you all the elements of strength, and may sing with them sweet hymns of praise and thanksgiving; for, blessed be God, hymns know nothing of failure and ruin, but without this the best-intentioned efforts eventually fail, or else turn into the channel of simple evangelizing (a most enviable gift); but the question then is, What becomes of the souls as to their further edification? If evangelizing goes on without distinct thoughts as to the place which salvation puts us into and as to the responsibilities which flow from it—responsibilities not only as individuals, but as members one of another, having a common Head, even Christ—if, in short, the fellowship we have been considering, looked at in its largeness or in relation to the perilous times we live in, be lacking, we shall dwindle into units, and some of the most precious truths connected with the action of the Holy Ghost on earth, whilst Christ Himself is on high, will have but a shadowy appearance and feeble hold upon our souls. W. W.

Fragment: Antichrist

It is no real difficulty, if the second beast be Antichrist, how his general influence in deceiving those who had the mark of the beast should stand with it. It would suit their idea of and pride in their Messiah, carnally deluded as the Jews are. He who is their king extends his influence over the Gentiles. This would do better than a little flock and their despised Savior.

Fragment: Conscience

Conscience, under the influence of the word, takes knowledge of principles which are judged by it, even when all is not yet ripe for judgment, and as yet the judgment is not executed.

Fragment: Conscience Hardened

Ecclesiastical influence is always greatest at the moment when the conscience is hardened against the testimony of God; because unbelief, which trembles after all, shelters itself behind the presumed stability of that which God had set up and makes a wall of its apostate forms against the God whom they hide, attributing to these ordinances the stability of God Himself.

Fragment: Eliezer and Laban

In Eliezer's dealings with Rebekah, it is jewels first; with Laban, it is bringing into the house before the jewels. The Spirit alone acts in the power and confidence of grace. Laban was a legalist.

Fragment: Faith Shown in Love for God's Work

In times of difficulty faith does not show itself in the magnificence of the result but in love for God's work, however little it may be, and in the perseverance with which it is carried on through all this state of weakness.

Fragment: Hebrews 3

The exhortations in Heb. 3 are to preserve the Christian in a confidence which he has, and to persevere, not to tranquillize doubts and fears. The use of the epistle to sanction such doubts is of the enemy. But though the knowledge of grace alone can set free from fears, it is very important practically to maintain a good conscience

Fragment: Isaiah

Isaiah is convicted, cleansed, given a ready devoted serving heart, and finds a tenderly sympathizing heart—all in the divine presence. It is as to his nature that he is convicted—what he has in common with others: this is true conviction. In devotedness he yields himself without knowing what it may cost him. (Isa. 6)

Fragment: Learning His Love in Sorrow

If I trust to my own strength in the hour of temptation, I break down: but if I have learned, through grace, to cast myself on Christ, I find all in Him to help me, and to go through the temptation unscathed. I must learn the lesson. If I learn it with the Lord, I am spared the sifting; but if not, I must be sifted. If not in intercourse with the Lord, it must be with Satan. “Nevertheless,” saith the Lord, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” It is blessed to believe that God loves us, notwithstanding all our failure. It is worth (not any sin but) any sorrow to learn this.

Fragment: Matthew 26:46

Matt. 26:46.—When the enemy is at hand, it is the time for action, not for watching and praying.

Fragment: Prophecy

Prophecy is the intervention of God's sovereign grace in testimony, in order to maintain His relationship with His people when they have failed in their responsibility to God in the position they held, so that their relationship with God in this position has been broken; and before God has established any new relationship by His own power in grace. The subjects of prophecy are, consequently, the following:—The dealings of God in government upon the earth, in the midst of Israel; the moral details of the conduct of the people which led to their sin; God's intervention, at the end, in grace, by the Messiah, to establish His people in assured blessing, by God's own power. Two things are connected with these leading subjects: the judgment of the nations, which was necessary for the establishment of Israel in their own land; and the rejection of Christ, by the Jews, at His first coming into this world. Finally, Israel had been the center and keystone of the system that was established after the judgment upon Noah's descendants for their pride at Babel. In this system the throne and temple of God at Jerusalem were:—the one, the seat of divine authority over all nations; and the other, the place where they should go up to worship Him who dwelt between the cherubim. Israel having failed in that obedience which was the condition of their blessing and the bond of the whole order recognized by God in the earth, another system of human supremacy is set up in the person of Nebuchadnezzar. Prophecy treats, therefore, of this unitary system also, and of its relationship with the people of God on the earth. Guilty of rebellion against God, and associated with Israel in the rejection of Christ, and at the close rising in revolt against Him, this power is associated with the Jews in the judgment, as being united with them in evil.

Fragment: Provision in the Wilderness

Israel in the wilderness had nothing to do for food or raiment: the Lord provided. They had no care as to their circumstances: the Lord called them either to rest or to motion. But they had activities of the sanctuary as much as faith pleased or as conscience demanded, in worship, communion, and confession, through their different offerings. They had the ordinances of holiness to practice, the future ways of Canaan to learn, and all this and the like in great variety. They began their action by erecting the tabernacle. The Book of Leviticus shows this.

Fragment: Revelation 3:8

Rev. 3:8 tells of the Lord's love to the church. Nothing marks the low state of things more than this, that the thought of legality is connected with God's looking for works. It is not so at all. Christ desires that the life he has given should appear. If you say to Christ, I will give no works, He says, you do not care for My love. If we really cared for His love, we should wish to hear Him say, I wish for this thing—that thing. It is the jealousy of His love that cannot bear that another should be in our hearts in His place

Fragment: Romans and Ephesians Compared

In Romans we find experiences, because the soul is brought through the process which brings it into liberty. In Ephesians we find no experiences, because man is seen first dead in sins; and then united to Christ exalted to God's right hand.

Fragment: Self-Exaltation Drawing Man to Antichrist

All the resources in the character and nature of man, apart from conscience, will astonish the world and draw it into following Antichrist; because the glory of man in self-exaltation, and not service to Christ in humiliation, is man's natural bent.

Fragment: Separation of That Which Is of God

The desire of the faithful man being the reproduction of the Word and of God's affections revealed in it, can He reject His people in a mass as wicked? This cannot be. Can He accept them in a condition of rebellion, which is so much the worse because they belong to God? He must learn to do that which God does—take account of all that is good, and, if it is too late to preserve everything, never condemn that which is of God. Τhe penetrating eye of God never loses sight of this, and the affections of His servant are fixed on it also. But God has His own mind and acts according to His own will: He lays hold of what is precious, owns it, and separates it from what is vile. If Satan can, he will mingle them together. Those who know how to separate them shall be as the mouth of God.

Fragment: Sufferings of Christ

It is in the point of death that the sufferings of Christ meet, whether for righteousness' sake and that which He underwent in order to sympathy with them when suffering under God's government, on the one hand, or in atonement, on the other. Christ suffered onward up to death; then He also made atonement for sin. Some of the remnant also may suffer unto death, as faithful under the trials of this government; but then, like Christ, they will obtain a better resurrection. Of course the atoning part is exclusively His.

Fragment: The Lord Condescending in Grace

As a person the Son emptied Himself; He could not have done so save as God. A creature who leaves his first estate sins therein. The sovereign Lord condescends in grace; in Him it is love.

Fragment: Trusting God to Foil Satan

“The whole world wondered after the beast.” I ought not to wonder about evil. I ought to trust God to foil Satan.

Fragment: What Christ Is

The great truth now is what Christ is. At the reformation it was His work. If He reveals what He is, it is but to add, “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” Here is liberty. It is an open door for all blessing.

Fragments Gathered Up: Ananias and Jonah

Ananias, in Acts 9, was something of a Jonah, unprepared for full grace. And so shall we be, if we do not come to God ourselves as “the chief of sinners,” taking up all sin as in our own persons.

Fragments Gathered Up: Blessing

God can bless in a direct manner with the light of His grace, when the soul is brought into its true place, to what it really is in His sight. Then, whatever its state may be, He can bless it in respect of that state, with increased light and grace. If I have got far from Him and careless in walk, when I have the consciousness how far I am, He can fully and directly bless. But the soul must be brought into the recognition of its state, or there would be no real blessing. I should not see God in unison with it. For its sensible did not answer to its real in God's sight.

Fragments Gathered Up: Brazen Altar

The brazen altar is the measure of man's responsibility; but saving has nothing to do with responsibility. God saves us for Himself, and brings us to Himself.

Fragments Gathered Up: Changing Scripture to Suit Self

It is a deadly principle running through all rationalists that they make men's present habit of thinking the measure of the fitness of God's word; and thus gradually lead to the belief that it was the product of the age and country it was written in. If I change scripture for what suits the west and the nineteenth century, I shall soon change it for what suits myself; and we might as well not have it at all.

Fragments Gathered Up: Christ Revealed in the Fullness of His Person

There is a contrast between Christ, object of promise and prophecy, and Christ revealed in the fullness of His person as beginning and foundation (having accomplished His work) of the new creation, its head, filling all things, having re-established the relationship between God and them, a relationship ruined by sin; and at the same time beginning, foundation, and head of the Church, which He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, having united it, quickened in Himself, by the Holy Ghost to Himself as His body. These two things constitute the mystery in its whole extent.

Fragments Gathered Up: Communication From God

If there be no inspiration, we have no communication from God—the greatest privilege one can have on earth—the only thing that puts us in a sure and divine way in relationship and intercourse with God.

Fragments Gathered Up: Communication From God

The poorest believer knows what he means by inspiration. He could not define it—does not know what “define” means; but he knows he has communications from God in which his soul drinks of living water—a word of God sharper than any two-edged sword, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. They have an authority over him which he delights to obey—reproofs, if needed, his heart bows to—promises his faith leans on—a Savior revealed whom his soul loves; and all this because he receives it with a divine faith as inspired, as God's word, as God's having condescended (taken pains, shall I say?) to speak to him for every want here and the brightness of heavenly hopes hereafter.

Fragments Gathered Up: Esther

In the Book of Esther we see the Gentile wife set aside on account of her disobedience and her failure in displaying her beauty to the world, and she is succeeded by a Jewish wife who possesses the king's affections; we see the audacious power of Haman, the Gentile oppressor of the Jews destroyed, and the Jewish Mordecai, protector of Esther, formerly despised and disgraced but raised to glory and honor in place of the Gentile.

Fragments Gathered Up: Experimental Power of Romans 5-8

The beginning of 2 Corinthians presents the experimental power of that which is doctrinally taught in Rom. 5:12—ch. 8, and is extremely instructive in this respect.

Fragments Gathered Up: Faith

Faith brings to God and separates from the world.
Just Published, Price 6d.
BY J. N. D.

Fragments Gathered Up: Faith of the Shunammite

Compare the faith of the Shunammite in 2 Kings 4 with that of her of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17. The latter put her dead into her bosom, the former on the prophet's bed. Death reminded one of her own sin; it reminded the other of God's resources.

Fragments Gathered Up: Five Books of Psalms

The first two books of Psalms are distinguishable from the last three in this: the first and second are more Christ personally among the Jews; the third, fourth, and fifth are more national and historical.

Fragments Gathered Up: God's Enemies

It is very afflicting and very humbling when we are obliged to confess that God's enemies are right as against His people. The only comfort is that God is in the right and that in the end He cannot fail to accomplish His gracious promises.

Fragments Gathered Up: Government of the World

In Israel's case man had been tried on the ground of obedience to God, and had not been able to possess the blessing that should have resulted from it. Then God abandoned this direct government of the world (while still the sovereign Lord above), and casting off the elect people with the nations round them and His own throne there, subjected the world to one head, proving under this new trial whether man will own the God who gave him power to make those happy who are subjected to him when he can do what he will in the world. This began with Nebuchadnezzar, the head of the image—the system of imperial power. We know that man failed here too. But the Lord Christ will re-unite the two things in His person. He will be the one man to whom the whole dominion is given, and Israel, as well as the various nations with their kings, shall be re-established, each in his own land and his own heritage, as before the time of Nebuchadnezzar, with the exception of Edom, Damascus, Hazor, and Babylon herself (that is to say, those nations which occupy Israel's territory; and Babylon which had absorbed and taken the place of all the others, and which must disappear by the judgment of God, to give them their place again).

Fragments Gathered Up: Humbling

If we were perfectly humble, we should not need humbling; but we do, all of us, even Paul who had a thorn in the flesh to keep it down.

Fragments Gathered Up: Introduction of the Millennium

The instrument of introducing the millennium is not the diffusion of the truth, but the sword proceeding out of Christ's mouth, sitting on a triumphal horse, wherewith He could smite the nations. It is treading the vintage of God's wrath. It is an invitation to all fowls to feast on the sacrifice the Lord God Almighty will make of the great and their followers, and a time of judgments in the earth when the world's inhabitants learn righteousness.

Fragments Gathered Up: Job

In Job we have man put to the test—man renewed by grace, upright in his ways—to show whether he can stand before God in presence of the power of evil, whether he can be righteous in his own person before God; and, on the other hand, God's dealings by which He searches the heart and gives it the consciousness of its true state before Him. It is God that sets the case of Job before Satan who disappears from the scene.

Fragments Gathered Up: Judgment-Seat

The truth is that the judgment-seat is what most brings out our assurance before God; for as He is, so are we in this world; and it is when Christ shall appear, we shall be like him.

Fragments Gathered Up: Law Taken in Positive Action

The law taken in its positive action would be for a child of Adam, but in an unfallen state.

Fragments Gathered Up: Love for God's Work

In times of difficulty faith does not show itself in the magnificence of the result, but in love for God's work, however little it may be, and in the perseverance with which it is carried on through all the difficulties belonging to this state of weakness.

Fragments Gathered Up: Made Perfect in One

As now Christ is in the Father, and we in Him, and He in us; so in the day of His appearing shall it be Christ in us and the Father in Him that we may be made perfect in one.

Fragments Gathered Up: Mediationship of Blessing

The mediationship of blessing does not cease when that of intercession does. Aaron in the holy place is the type of one; Melchisedec coming forth to bless Abraham is of the other.

Fragments Gathered Up: Millennium

If the spread of Bibles and missionary exertions is to produce per se the millennium, what is the meaning of unclean spirits like frogs gathering all the kings of the earth &c. to battle, to be destroyed? and that then Satan was to be bound and the thousand years commence?

Fragments Gathered Up: New Jerusalem

The new Jerusalem is divine in its origin and also heavenly. It might be of God and earthly. It might be heavenly and angelic. It was neither, but divine in origin and heavenly in nature and character. It was clothed with divine glory, as founded on Christ's work.

Fragments Gathered Up: No Vail in Hebrews

There is no vail in Hebrews, therefore the holiest and the holy are not distinguished; the holy things could not be guilty, but they could be defiled.

Fragments Gathered Up: Old Bottles

Ishmael as an old bottle burst in the day of Abraham's feast: so did the elder brother in Luke 15 The Galatians were in danger of becoming the old bottles again. Ananias, in Acts 9:13, savored of this.

Fragments Gathered Up: Perfectly in and Perfectly Out

The saints are perfectly in and perfectly out, whether in John's Gospel (9) or in the Epistle to the Hebrews. (10, 13.)

Fragments Gathered Up: Pilgrims and Strangers

We are pilgrims and strangers here: this is our place by redemption itself. The Abrahams and Davids were pilgrims and strangers because they were only looking for redemption by power not yet come, by getting nothing of what was promised, or else by persecution under the government of God on the earth; so that after all under that order of things it was a puzzle to both, though the final inheritance of the land, the heir, and the judgment of the wicked met the puzzle in their minds.

Fragments Gathered Up: Redeemed and Called Out

The moment the people are redeemed, they are called out, though as yet only into a wilderness, to hold a feast to the Lord. And be it so that they have holden a feast to the golden calf, while Moses is in the mount to receive the given law, this does not alter what it is to faith.

Fragments Gathered Up: Righteous Government to Come

God has not yet made such a government of the earth as can be an adequate measure and manifestation of His righteousness. Christianity does not even contemplate this, but is a display of His grace to faith calling souls to heavenly glory. The law in Israel did take this ground, but necessarily failed through their rebelliousness. The millennium will be exactly this, when Christ shall be exalted in earth as in heaven to the glory of God the Father.

Fragments Gathered Up: Righteousness Established in a Heavenly Way

Remark the great difference between the Psalmist's celebration of God's righteousness, sitting on the throne, judging right, and vindicating the righteous man from the oppressor; and Christ on the cross who was not vindicated on the earth but declares Himself forsaken of God (His enemies, outwardly, having all their will against Him), and then, righteousness being established in a heavenly way, God's righteousness in setting Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.

Fragments Gathered Up: Romans

The Epistle to the Romans begins, not with governmental judgments, but with the revelation of wrath from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men holding the truth in unrighteousness; and brings in personal justification as the fruit of God's righteousness to the believer.

Fragments Gathered Up: Romans and Ephesians Compared

In Romans we find experiences, because the soul is brought through the process which brings it into liberty; while in the Ephesians we find no experiences, because man is seen, first dead in sins, and then united to Christ exalted to God's right hand.

Fragments Gathered Up: Standards

A standard must be a standard for everything; and for this it must be the whole and the perfect record of truth. As this is not in the mind of man, it must be revealed, and this with authority for all, or it is not a rule to which every one is responsible. Otherwise individual responsibility and mutual sense of righteousness are destroyed, and manifest fruits of righteousness cease to be of avail as a test of conduct and fellowship, because there would be no common standard to which they could be brought.

Fragments Gathered Up: The Affliction of Christ

The affliction of Christ was infinitely deep; but His perfect communion with His Father caused all the anguish, that in others broke out into complaints, to be in secret between Him and His Father. It is very rarely expressed in the Gospels: He is entirely for others in grace.

Fragments Gathered Up: The Olive Tree

The olive tree (Rom. 11) extends from Abraham's time on to the millennium.

Fragments Gathered Up: The Power and Wisdom of God

Under the first Adam we have either the corrupt woman or violent man; but Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Fragments Gathered Up: The Veil Not Rent Until Christ's Death

Till Christ's death the veil was not rent, the holiest unapproachable. There was knowledge more or less clear of a redeemer—of a personal redeemer to come; of God's favor toward those that walked with Him, and the confidence of faith in Him and His promises. But there was no such knowledge of sin as led to the consciousness of exclusion from God's presence as a present state, nor of such a putting of it away as reconciled us fully and forever to God by its efficacy, and brought us to Him.

Fragments Gathered Up: Thinking on Christ Only

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 Him only. We have to judge ourselves; but our right state is thinking of the Lord alone

Fragments Gathered Up: Truth as to the Spirit

The truth as to the Spirit is perhaps the most important practically, and the most characteristic of Christianity, not as to foundation, but as to state and power of all in scripture.

Fragments Gathered Up: When a Pause Is Needed

Jacob had seventeen years in Egypt ere he was called hence; Paul was called up from the midst of his labors. (2 Tim. 4) It is a bad symptom of previous ways when a pause is needed, like that in Egypt to Jacob.

Fragments: Peter's Conscience

I do not think Peter's conscience was reached before the third time of asking. He felt (not passed over) the gap in his heart as forgiven and in favor; but God must have the conscience fully reached to have confidence and communion.

Genesis 3

It is not only the word of God which lets us know that there is sin and misery in the world. Man knows very well that iniquity and defilement are in himself, and no one is satisfied with his portion here below because he is ill at ease in his own heart. The word of God shows us much more—how Satan entered the world and the consequences of sin in our relations with God.
The first thing the old serpent does is to put something between God and us, to put himself between both. The only thing which can render us happy is that there is nothing between God and us, and that God loves us. Satan begins by rendering the soul distrustful of God, and suggests to the woman to wish for a forbidden thing and satisfy the wish, hinting that God does not love to gratify us and would keep some great good from us. The enemy does not direct our mind either to the goodness of God or to our obeying God. The woman knew well why she ought not to eat of the fruit of that tree, and that death would be the inevitable result.
God has warned us of the consequences of sin. He had said “In the day that thou eatest dying thou shalt die.” But Satan, who ever seeks to deny and lower the truth of God, says to the woman, “Ye shall not surely die ye shall be as God.” And it is true that the fall has rendered man much more intelligent relatively to good and evil; but Satan hid from him that he would be severed from God and with an evil conscience. Their eyes were opened, it is said; and they knew that they were naked as they looked at themselves.
All that which is near us appears more important and greater than that which is still distant. The forbidden tree being near, and the judgment of God far off, Eve takes of the fruit and eats. So the spirit of falsehood says till this day to men, Ye shall not die; the threatenings of God will not take effect. He conceals the warnings of God; and one does then what Satan and one's own lusts push us on to do. If a Christian is not vigilant, his conscience will lose its activity, and in place of seeing God he will see his own nakedness.
Man still takes leaves to cover his nakedness. He does his utmost to bide from himself the evil which is there; but when God reveals Himself, it is quite otherwise. God draws near as if nothing had happened; then what ought to have been a joy for man without sin becomes because of sin the source of immense alarm. Adam flees and seeks to hide from before the eye of God as if he had succeeded in veiling his nakedness to his own eye. What a horrible thing for man to be thus hiding himself before God!
Adams fears, for conscience is always touched by the presence of God; it takes away every hope of enjoying sin when it penetrates into our conscience. Then one only sees God who is feared without our being able to appreciate Him.
The relations of man with God were thenceforward broken and in a manner irreparable as to man.
“Who told thee that thou wast naked?” says the Lord. Adam answers by accusing the woman and God who had given her to him. Dastardliness always comes into the soul with sin. Adam wishes to excuse himself by lies and to leave the fault and blame between his wife and God. He leaves to God the care of arranging the thing with the woman. Thus a bad conscience fears God too much to confess its sin, yet it knows too well that it has sinned to deny it. If you had full confidence in God and were perfectly sure that God loves you, you would be very happy. But Satan is here; and his great power consists in producing distrust where there is happiness and intimate relation with God to destroy in our hearts. You trust your own will and your own efforts for your happiness; but, distrusting God, you will not or cannot confide to Him the care of this happiness and leave yourself to His mighty love.
The beginning of sin is the unbelief which doubts God. Thereby in effect Satan began. He persuaded Eve that God had kept something for Himself that the creature might not be too happy and blest.
The woman was wrong in conversing with Satan; she ought not to have listened to a voice which insinuated distrust of God. What Satan did then and always, he persuades every man that God is too good to condemn us because we sin; and man, spite of his sin and his conscience, hopes and persuades himself that he will not be condemned. It is the voice of the old serpent. Now God has shown by the death of His Son that the wages of sin is death.
Conscience being evil, every effort of the world is to hide from itself its nakedness before God. It would remove from men gross and outward sin, drunkenness, murder, and robbery. It seeks by law, and efforts of philanthropy, individual and co-operative, to blot out the open effects of sin in the world. Such are the aprons of fig leaves which remove nothing at all but serve for the moment to hide from ourselves our nakedness and our misery, to avoid thinking of the justice of the condemnation God has put from the beginning on the sin that dwells in us. Now that sin is between our conscience and God, one wishes at least that there should be something to hide us before Him! With this end in view man employs what he calls innocent things. Thus the trees were so, but man made use of them to conceal himself from before God. God had given all to man in this world; but man uses it now only to deprive himself of the sight of God, and thus pretends to be innocent in employing these good things after such a sort!
When the voice of God awakens conscience, people still wish something to hide them from Him; but this is impossible. God says to Adam “Where art thou?” There is no means of hiding any longer. If God said so to each of your souls, would it be your joy to be in His presence? God alone is our resource and refuge when we have sinned. It is only God who takes away guile from the heart, for He alone can pardon. Now if you hide yourself from God, where are you for your soul? God had not yet driven Adam from His presence till Adam fled from the presence of God. Conscience tells us that if we have sinned, no leaves or trees can hide us in His presence. If there be a just God, man is wretched in his conscience and cannot be quiet in sin but solely on condition that there is no God. Every hope of unbelief is that there be no God, or, what comes to the same thing, that He be not just or holy.
Adam wishes to excuse himself, as if he had not lusted himself, as if he had not followed the voice of his wife instead of hearkening to God, as if he was not responsible for having failed himself. Now if there were not lust in us, sin would not be produced. In the midst of all God's goodness who has given His Son for poor sinners, you have no confidence in God, and this is a state of sin. It matters little how it is manifested; it displays ingratitude and distrust. Eve listened and believed Satan instead of hearing and believing God. This man ever does; and he hopes for salvation and eternal life though he sins. All the efforts you make to be happy show that you are not happy. Why the arts and pleasures of the world if the world were happy? All that which would have been the effect of God's presence in your hearts and consciences would stop your pleasure; Therefore if all your pleasures are incompatible with the presence of God, what will they be for you in eternity? Will they carry you to the foot of the throne of the Holy and Just to show Him that you have spent many innocent hours far from Him? There are only disobedience, distrust, falsehood, which are sin: there is worse still—the state of soul which seeks to be light and giddy far from the presence of God.
Man may withdraw himself from God's presence whilst grace lasts: but he will not be able when God shall judge him. Satan will help you, your best friends according to the world will also help you to withdraw yourself from His presence, to deny and forget it, but that will certainly not go on longer than the time of grace granted to us. Therefore while it is called to-day, if ye hear His voice harden not your hearts. God knows that you are sinners: He knows the iniquity of Satan, who would make man his prey; but there is an answer to that which Satan knew and of which man could have no idea: God makes a revelation of grace (ver. 15). A promise is not given to those who are incapable of enjoying it. The natural man cannot enjoy what flows from grace, because faith is necessary to that, and confidence in God. The question thenceforward is wholly between the serpent and the Second man. God says nothing to Adam but words which show the actual consequences of sin; He says to the serpent what He will do. Thenceforth the only hope for lost man is in this promised Seed; and even before he is driven from His presence, God reveals what Jesus will do to destroy the work of Satan.
There is not a single sign of repentance in Adam after his sin. He had shown the dastardliness, meanness, and fraud of his heart; but God only occupies Himself with His counsels and the answer He has in Himself. He announces the Seed of the woman, whose glory and power are developed throughout all His word.
Now it is no longer an anticipation or promise of grace: Jesus is come. Wretched man thought that God did not wish to give him something through jealousy of his happiness; but this was the lie of Satan. God who seemed to refuse a fruit to man innocent has given His Son to man a sinner. And the heart of man is so perverted that he has no confidence though God has given His Son. Jesus instead of fleeing from condemnation went to meet it; He took on Him the sins of His bride instead of loading her with fetters. He has by death destroyed him that had the power of death. The effect of the death of Jesus is to inspire us with perfect confidence. The death of Jesus puts us in relationship with God without fear and without difficulty because it clothes us when we are naked and miserable. There is nothing but grace for us after the judgment which has struck the Son of God.
Is your confidence in God? Do you believe that He gave His Son, that His love did so to save fully poor sinners? This confidence gives peace and obedience, because nothing is more precious than the love of God; and this love makes us prefer obedience and its consequences spite all the difficulties. May God touch your heart and give you to render Him glory by receiving all that His love has done for you!

Genesis 3 and John 8

The same great moral is continually exhibiting itself in the serious action of human life. Distance of time makes no difference. The energies at work are still the same. There is the way of God and the way of Satan, the principles of light and of darkness.
It is instructive to mark this—to notice how the most distant scenes of action in the book of God are quickened by the same instincts and energies. Thus in John 8 we find Gen. 3 again; the great opposing elements of the garden of Eden taking their several course, and doing their different work, in the temple at Jerusalem four thousand years after.
The serpent, or the serpent's seed, is in this solemn scene, and exactly in the old character. The serpent had found a pure creature in the garden, and had corrupted and destroyed her, and then did what he could to destroy the One who had undertaken her cause. He had murdered the woman, and conceiving enmity to her Seed was to bruise His heel. After which pattern his seed, in John 8, seek the full ruin of the poor adulteress, and then also the life of Jesus, because He had taken up her cause and the cause of all such ruined sinners.
And still further: the serpent who entered the garden had worked by a lie. The weapon in his murderous hand was a lie; and so here the serpent's seed are found utterly destitute of truth. Jesus was speaking the truth, as He tells them again and again (ver. 14, 37, 45, 47); just as the Lord God was speaking it when, in the garden, He told of death upon the eating of the tree. But the Jews do not understand Jesus. They have no faculty to comprehend the language of truth. “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot bear my words.” So deeply, so thoroughly, so awfully, were they departed from the power of the light and truth of God.
Thus do they indeed take the place of the seed of the serpent in his two characters expressed at the beginning; so that the Lord has only to say of them, “ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
But, again, in the garden man destroyed himself, and then hid away from the presence of God. The voice of promise, the glad tidings about the woman's Seed, however, drew him forth, and Adam walked again in “the light of life,” calling his wife “the mother of all living,” and receiving from God's own hand the pledge or seal of righteousness by faith. And so in John 8 the poor adulteress is a self-ruined sinner. She is detected and sentenced to death. She hides herself and is silent. But she hears, like Adam, the voice of the Son of God, the woman's Seed, and she is at peace and walks forth again in “the light of life.” That voice had again overthrown the serpent, or the serpent's seed. There was enmity between it and them, between the woman's Seed and the serpent's seed, according to the promise. And, like Adam in the garden, the poor adulteress finds life where she deserved and might have expected death.
In this also the scene in the garden of Eden stands revived or reflected in the scene in the temple at Jerusalem. Four thousand years have made no difference. The moral energies, the principles of light and darkness, are the same in the world's infancy or age, in the earth's eastern or western borders.
These similitudes are very exact; but so also with Jesus, the Son of God, the Seed of the woman. As we read of Him, so we see Him, “the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.”
In Gen. 3 the promised Seed of the woman is evidently from God—for the sinner, and against the serpent. And such are most blessedly and most clearly the relationships which the Lord Jesus fills and assumes in all the action and argument of John 8. He is God's provision for dead and ruined sinners in defiance of all the malice and wrath of the enemy.
And, further, He is this at all personal cost. The. serpent was to bruise His heel according to Gen. 3, and the serpent's seed according to John 8, was “to lift him up,” the very same thing as bruising His heel. See verse 28.
But further still, though bruised He was to get the victory, and bruise the head of the serpent according to Gen. 3 And so in John 8 He lets the Jews know that continued resistance of Him would be their doom and final destruction—that it would prove, as another scripture expresses it, “a kicking against the pricks,” or a bringing of utter ruin on themselves by the very enmity they vented against Him.
And finally, He was their only hope (see verse 24), as in the garden, fig-leaves were insufficient, and there was no return to life through the sword—all rested on the woman's Seed.
These similitudes are very marked, and it is interesting to the soul to trace them. But there is another thing suggested to me.
The words “I am” (ἐγώ εἰμι) occur three times in John 8. This expression is to be made definite, I judge, according to the force of the context. And it may, therefore, intimate different glories or characters in Christ. It is used in Mark 13:6, “Many shall come in my name,” says the Lord, “saying, I am.” But in that place, it is properly defined by the italic word “Christ,” the context very clearly showing that.
It is used in John 13:19, and there properly defined by the translators, “I am [he],” meaning to identify Himself with the one prophesied of in Psa. 41 against whom the companion's heel was to be lifted up.
So, in our chapter, in John 8:24, 28, the words are found again, and again correctly defined by the italic word “he.” Because the Lord was teaching the need of their believing now, and the certainty that they should know hereafter, that He was the One whom He had been presenting Himself to be. But in verse 58, the same words “I am” are left, as they are found, indefinite. And I judge most correctly so. Because, at the close of a long and trying conflict with the Jews, the Lord announces His high personal glory as Jehovah. And they so understand Him; because they immediately deal with Him as they would with a blasphemer of the unutterable name.
All this is very distinct, and very simple too, when by a little meditation we get on the right track with the solemn words “I am.”
But again, in connection with Gen. 3, I ask, Who is the “he” or the “I am” of John 8:24, 28? Plainly, from the whole discourse, “the light of the world,” or the One who had “the light of life” for dead sinners. And then again I ask, Who is He that carries “the light of life” for dead sinners, but “the Seed of the woman?” This we have seen. It was faith in that promised Seed which enabled Adam to walk again as alive from the dead, in the divine presence, and it was faith in Jesus, “the light of life” which enabled the convicted adulteress to do the same.

Genesis 3 Compared With John 8

The same moral is continually exhibiting itself in the great action of human life. Distance of time makes no difference. The energies at work are still the same. There is the way of God and the way of Satan, the principles of light and of darkness.
It is instructive to mark this—to notice how the most distant scenes of action in the book of God are quickened by the same instincts and energies. Thus in John 8 we find Gen. 3 again; the great opposing elements of the garden of Eden taking their several course, and doing their different work, in the temple at Jerusalem four thousand years after.
The serpent, or the serpent's seed, is in this solemn scene, and exactly in the old character. The serpent had found a pure creature in the garden, and had corrupted and destroyed her, and then did what he could to destroy the one who had undertaken her cause. He had murdered the woman, and conceiving enmity to her Seed was to bruise His heel. After which pattern his seed, in John 8, seeks the full ruin of the poor adulteress, and then also the life of Jesus, because He had taken up her cause, and the cause of all such ruined sinners.
And, still further, the serpent who entered the garden had worked by a lie; the weapon in his murderous hand was a lie. And so here, the serpent's seed are found utterly destitute of truth. Jesus was speaking the truth, as He tells them again and again (ver. 14, 37, 45, 47), just as the Lord God was speaking it when, in the garden, He told of death upon the eating of the tree. But the Jews do not understand Jesus. They have no faculty to comprehend the language of truth. “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my words.” So deeply, so thoroughly, so awfully, were they departed from the power of the light and truth of God. Thus do they indeed take the place of the seed of the serpent in his two characters expressed at the beginning, so that the Lord has only to say of them, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
But, again, in the garden man destroyed himself, and then hid away from the presence of God. The voice of promise, the glad tidings about the woman's Seed, however, draw him forth, and Adam walked again in “the mother of all living,” and receiving from God's own hand the pledge or seal of righteousness by faith. And so in John 8. The poor adulteress is a self-minded sinner. She is detected and sentenced to death. She hides herself and is silent. But she hears, like Adam, the voice of the Son of God, the woman's Seed, and she is at peace, and walks forth again in “the light of life.” That voice had again overthrown the serpent, or the serpent's seed. There was enmity between it and them, between the woman's Seed and the serpent's seed, according to the promise. And, like Adam in the garden, the poor adulteress finds life, where she deserved and might have expected death.
In this also the scene in the garden of Eden stands revived or reflected in the scene in the temple at Jerusalem. Four thousand years have made no difference. The moral energies, the principles of light and darkness, are the same in the world's infancy or age, in the earth's eastern or western borders.
These similitudes are very exact; but so also in Jesus, the Son of God, the Seed of the woman: as we read of Him, as we see Him, “the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.”
In Gen. 3, the promised Seed of the woman is evidently from God, for the sinner and against the serpent. And such are most blessedly and most clearly the relationships which the Lord Jesus fills and assumes in all the action and argument of John 8 He is God's provision for dead and ruined sinners, in defiance of all the malice and wrath of the enemy.
And, further, He is this at all personal cost. The serpent was to bruise His heel, according to Gen. 3; and the serpent's seed, according to John 8, was “to lift him up,” the very same thing as bruising His heel. (See ver. 28.)
But, further still, though bruised, He was to get the victory and bruise the head of the serpent, according to Gen. 3 And so in John 8 He lets the Jews know that continued resistance of Him would be their doom and final destruction; that it would prove, as another scripture expresses it, “a kicking against the pricks;” or a bringing of utter ruin on themselves by the very enmity they vented against Him.
And, finally, He was their only hope (see ver. 24); as in the garden fig-leaves were insufficient, and there was no return to life through the sword—all rested on the woman's Seed.
These similitudes are very marked, and it is interesting to the soul to trace them. But there is another thing suggested to me. The words “I am” (ἐγώ εἰμι) occur three times in John 8. This expression is to be made definite, I judge, according to the force of the context. And it may, therefore, intimate different glories or characters in Christ. It is used in Mark 13:6. “Many shall come in my name,” says the Lord, “saying, I am.” But in this place it is properly defined by the italic word “, Christ,” the context very clearly showing it.
It is used in John 13:19, and there properly defined by the translators, “I am he,” meaning to identify Himself with the One prophesied of in Psa. 41, against whom the companion's heel was to be lifted up.
So in our chapter (in John 8:24, 28) the words are found again, and again correctly defined by the italic word “he.” Because the Lord was teaching the need of their believing now, and the certainty that they should know hereafter that He was the One whom He had been presenting Himself to be. But in verse 58 the same words, “I am,” are left as they are found, indefinite. And I judge most correctly so, because at the close of a long and trying conflict with the Jews, the Lord announces His high personal glory as Jehovah; and so they understood Him, because they immediately deal with Him as they would with a blasphemer of the unutterable name.
All this is very distinct, and very simple too, when, by a little meditation, we get on the right track with the solemn words “I am.”
But, again, in connection with Gen. 3, I ask, who is the “he,” or the “I am” of John 8:24, 28? Plainly, from the whole discourse, “the light of the world,” or the One who had “the light of life” for dead sinners. And then again I ask, who is He that carries “the light of life” for dead sinners, but “the Seed of the woman'?” This we have seen. It was faith in that promised Seed which enabled Adam to walk again as alive from the dead in the divine presence; and it was faith in Jesus, the “light of life,” which enabled the convicted adulteress to do the same.

God's Communications in Grace and the Saint's Intercession

Gen. 18
The Lord communicated the knowledge of what He was about to do concerning Sodom. The place the Church stands in is similar to that of Abraham with God; and this word is a very descriptive display of the ground of intimacy the Lord sets His people on with Himself. Ours is in a higher sense because Abraham stood on the earth, the place of judgment; but in us it is a far more blessed thing as we are altogether out of the place of judgment, enjoying the blessing itself; God “having made known to us the mystery of his will,” &c.
The men rose up and looked towards Sodom. The Lord directed them as the executors of His judgment, and Abraham went with them to show them the way. The Lord makes His saints His companions, not invariably, but still it is their privilege. “Who hath known the mind of the Lord? but we have the mind of Christ.” Thus in the communications God has made to us, He has made us His companions in the best way; for there cannot be a better way one can show love to another, than by communicating to him his thoughts and feelings. “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” So we are to walk with Christ until He comes to take us up to Himself. The exercise and path of faith is down here; and, mark, the Church is above judgment (not above discipline for their good). Lot looked towards Sodom; but Abraham was out of it. Abraham being the Lord's companion is not only delivered out of the judgment, but when the Lord is going to judge, He tells Abraham about it. “Shall I hide from Abraham the thing which I do?” “For I know him.” So it is with us, the ground of this communication is the thought the Lord has about us—He has centered His love upon us, and therefore He lets us into His confidence. He has put Abraham into the place of covenant blessing. So He has united the Church to Christ—associated it with Christ. And He says, If I have brought Abraham into this place I will introduce him into the knowledge of what it is— “spoken of his house for a great while to come.” So God has made known to us the mystery of His will because of the place in which He has put the Church.
“I know him” —there is great blessing in this word. It is a different thing from the judgment. The Lord does not talk in this way about those He is going to judge. When He talks about judgment, He talks about inquiring, “I will go down and see;” and until He has fully investigated it, He will not touch them. It is not so with the saints; He has no need to go down to see about them, for He fully knows them, as He said of Abraham “I know him.” The cry of Sodom had come up before God; but, before going to execute judgment, He will go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto Him. “The men went towards Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.” That is blessed. Thus if the Lord knows Abraham, so that he is able to get the blessing, he stays with the Lord Himself. He is going to bring judgment on the world, but He will not smite until He cannot help it; but no judgment coming on the world can separate Abraham from God. God's eye so rests upon Abraham, that Abraham rests quiet in God. And so it is with us, whatever trial may be coming on the world, our place is to abide with the Lord Himself, and then, like Abraham, the effect of having drunk into this grace will be to be calm, quiet, and happy. Our place is not to go down to search out the depths of iniquity, but to let the cry come up to us. There will be Lots many; but let us be with God on the mountain, abiding in perfect peace with the Lord Himself. Abraham, being in perfect peace, had nothing to ask for himself, and was therefore free to intercede for others. So it was in the case of Abimelech: if Abraham be a prophet, if he has this intimacy with the mind of the Lord, let him pray for thee. So it is with us “If ye abide in me, and my words,” &c. The possession of the Lord's mind gives the power of intercession for others (not like Jacob, with whom the Lord had to wrestle, because of the crookedness in himself, and therefore He could not communicate to him His name which was secret, although He blessed him). Jacob had to get the blessing for himself, and therefore he had not power to get it for others, but Abraham had the knowledge of that communion which must produce great peace and joy (there is reverence of course “I am but dust and ashes,” but perfect intimacy as well). “And the Lord went his way as soon as he had done communing with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.” Abraham's position is with the Lord, in perfect peace, in unquestioning confidence, having no question to settle with God, but on that ground where he can enjoy perfect communion.

Grace the Spring of Righteousness

1 John 3:1-3
This passage is a kind of parenthesis which comes in between the close of chapter 2 and 3:4, &c., where the subject of righteousness is treated more fully. He had been exhorting the family of God to abide in Christ that, when He shall appear, those who labored might have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” Then he pursues the subject of righteousness in the following verses, beginning at verse 4. It is plain in reading from that point that he is occupied with practical righteousness. “Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” But then the Spirit of God lets us know that we have no power to be consistent in our relationships, which is the meaning of righteousness, unless we are strengthened by the grace of our God.
I consider therefore that this is at least one of the motives why the apostle was inspired, on entering into the subject of righteousness, thus to turn aside. It is worthy of divine love, and assuredly not without the deepest purpose and consideration of us. It is to give us the true spring and power of righteousness. Hence John brings in here the Father. Whenever it is a question of grace, we hear of the Father; where it is a question of righteousness, God is rather the name of whom mention is made. God has moral claims, and He does not abate these claims in the case of a Christian. On the contrary, responsibility on our part must rise in proportion as He makes known His grace and truth. But then let us not forget that His grace gives power: claim never does. You may have the fullest right to a thing but that will not enable you to get what you ought to receive, unless there be a spring of power enabling the person to meet your demands. So our God does with us. His full intention is to have us according to Christ here; perfectly according to Him in heaven. But in order to accomplish either the one or the other, it must be by the dealings of His grace; and it is in this way that He works. The Father sends His Son that we may see and believe on Him unto life everlasting; and John has such a sense of the efficacy of Christ that, for him, to see Him is to be like Him. If you see Him, says he as it were, you are sure to follow in His steps. John will not allow that any one who is unlike Jesus has ever seen Him. Now there is nothing that gives a better idea of the transforming power of Christ than this. John does not admit of a person having seen Jesus without being like Him. This may be hindered by the flesh here; but the day is coming when all hindrances will be gone. We shall see Him perfectly then, and we shall be perfectly like Him when we do.
This is exactly the way in which the matter is put. He says, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” Rather understand children of God, for so it should be. It is not sons. John never makes use of the word υἱός, (son) in describing the Christian, but invariably τέκνον, or child. Paul calls us both sons and children; but John always children.
The difference is this a man might be conceived to become the son of God without being His child in a real sense; that is, he might be conceived and have the name of son without the possession of a new and divine nature. Certainly any one might be adopted as the son of a man without being the man's child. It is common when a rich man is childless to take another's child and make it son and heir. In the dealings of God we might conceive such a course on His part; but He does nothing of the sort. In point of fact God not only adopts those who were children of wrath even as others, but He makes them to be His children; He brings them into all the reality of the relationship, He gives them a life that is of Himself. They are not only adopted, but born of God: and if born of Him, we are not only sons (which refers to public position and inheritance), but besides we are His children. The consequence is that the title of inheritance is made far closer. A person might be adopted as a son in order to make him an heir; but if I am the child of the family, there is no doubt about it at all— “if children, then heirs.” Paul, when he speaks of our public place in glory by and by, styles us also sons of God, but in the relationship of children. John always speaks about the latter. He was not led by the Holy Ghost to bring out the public place of sons; but be makes a great deal of our being born and consequently “children of God.” “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God.” We are not put in the distant place of Israel under the law; nor are we merely brought by title into our actual place of nearness. This he shows still more clearly in what follows: “Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” We are so closely bound up with Christ that we have the place of Christ not only with God but from the world. The world did not know Him. This is enough for us, thinks John: the world does not know us either. We are so bound up with Christ that, if the world did not know Him, the world does not know the Christian.
But this is not all. “Beloved, now are we children of God.” Before this it was said that we are “called” the children of God. Now there is a further statement, lest it should be thought that we were merely called so. “Beloved, now are we children of God.” It is not that we are going to be or that it is a high-flown figure used of us, but now we are so.
The object of the Spirit of God is to fill the children of God with the certain sense of their relationship. It is impossible to do anything properly Christian, unless the soul be conscious of this moral bond and hold it fast. But may a person not Slip into what is dishonoring to God? Undoubtedly he may, and particularly if he do not keep firm and bright before him Christ and his own nearness to God in Him. When a person bearing His name is tempted to sin and yield to it, he is filled with an object that is not Christ and for the time forgets that he is really a child of God. If there is an object that gets possession of your mind that is not Christ, you have already slipped aside and outward acts of sin will surely follow, and if unjudged a state even more deplorable. It may be not that which openly disgraces a man; but sin is the will working and carrying away to rebellion, and this is never Christ. The exercise of self-will is just the principle of sin. The apostle says, Sin is lawlessness, which is indeed the true and only meaning of the close of verse 4. When a person is thus led astray from God by the power of his own will, he never realizes at that time that be is a child of God. If he had Christ before him, he ought with Him to have the sense that he is a child of God, and if he has this simply in his heart, he must (as the ground and title to it) have Christ before his soul, because it is nothing but Christ has brought us into this blessed place. If you know the truth of the gospel, you cannot truly have the sense of Christ without having the sense also that you are a child of God. To sever the two is either unbelief or Antinomianism; that is, it cuts off the privilege of being a child of God, from Christian responsibility with Christ as the standard and motive for the walk. And clearly the man who does so is either grievously misled for a season or not born of God at all, but is merely making use of the name or title of the child of God to do what he likes, which is the worst sin.
The fact is that “Now are we the children of God.” It is a settled and existing relationship. The apostle does not address them as if they had any doubt about the matter. The awful departure from the truth which is now so common—that of people counting it a presumption and danger to believe that they are even now without doubt children of God—had not yet become prevalent, though (I suppose) beginning to be instituted by the false teachers against whom John warns in this very Epistle. Even in this last time when the apostle was going away, he could remind them thus: “Beloved, now are we the children of God.” He foresaw this real danger, not from believing the gospel, but from these false teachers casting doubts on the actual relationship of the believer. This seems the reason why the apostle John so strongly insists on it. “Now are we the children of God.”
But he adds something not yet manifested; and what is this? It is not yet manifested what we shall be. What does he mean? That we shall be like Christ even in our bodies. He does not say or mean that it is not revealed to us, for it is set forth in scripture fully and simply. We should err if we understood that there is the smallest doubt about the result. Who can doubt that it is all the same to God, whether a thing be done or only going to be done? It is far from being the same to man as such, but it is to Him. Hence it is equally certain to the believer if he rests on the word of God, because his faith depends not on the things that are seen, but on His assurance as to things as yet unseen. Hence even for our relationship as children of God we do not see but we believe His word. We believe in Jesus according to the gospel sent by God; and as the consequence we know that we are the children of God, the joy and assuring witness of which we have also by the Spirit. But it has not yet been manifested what we shall be. We know however that, when He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Many seem to fancy “it doth not yet appear” means that it is ambiguous, or at least unrevealed. But this is not the sense. For it is fully revealed in the word. It is not yet manifest to every eye: such is the true force. The appearing means the manifestation before the world. Thus when the apostle says, “It is not yet manifest what we shall be, but we know that when he is manifested, we shall be like him,” he speaks of our manifestation with Christ before the world. In point of fact we shall have been taken up before the day of manifestation. Hence when He is manifest, we shall be also at the very same time, for we shall appear with Him in glory. We are like Him according to the measure of the simplicity of our faith now; but we shall all be assuredly and perfectly like Him then. If there were a single child of God not perfectly like Christ then, it would be a failure in His victory, and so far would deprive Him of the travail of His soul. But God will not permit this. He will exert and display His own gracious power; so that when the Lord Jesus shall be manifested, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, We see Him now in spirit and are like Him in spirit; we shall see Him then in body and shall be like Him in body.
“And every man that hath this hope in him” means founded on Him. The “him” does not speak of the man but of Christ. Where the hope is based on Christ, he purifies himself even as Christ is pure. If about to be so perfectly like Him then, I shall strive earnestly not to be inconsistent with Him now. And this he says for the purpose of guarding us against allowing sin, making excuses for self-will, or in any way trifling with the moral glory of the Lord Jesus, which is now committed to the believer's keeping and testimony in a practical way.

Grace the True Source and Support of Practical Righteousness

Gal. 6:7-11.
It is well to remind our souls and one another, by times, that whatever may be the mighty—almighty—power of God's grace, He nevertheless always maintains His own moral principles. Whatever may be His mercy in calling a soul—whatever the fullness of love that embraces even a prodigal, He never leaves the prodigal in his evil. He never leaves the unrighteous in his unrighteousness; He never deals lightly with ungodliness: even in forgiving it, He has shown Himself utterly, irreconcilably, against it; but, thanks be to God, for us, against our evil and for ourselves. And this is the gospel. And as this is the manner of His love in our deliverance and reconciliation to Himself, so it is throughout that God maintains His authority in our souls, His hatred of sin, and delight in what is good. He undertakes to make the reflection of His own holiness in every soul that He delivers from the wrath to come. And let us remember there is no exception. In one sense there is no difference. Just as there was no difference in saving us as miserable lost sinners—we were all alike lost, and yet there were grave differences in the character of our sinfulness—so now. There may be no small differences in the measure in which we serve and resemble Christ. But there is no difference in this, that we resemble Christ—if indeed we belong to Him, we must. As God is true, He cannot give up working the active watchful work of His love in changing us into the same image, even now as we pass through the wilderness.
It is well for us, therefore, continually to bring our souls to this standard. Let us keep fast holiness. The more we value grace and seek to understand it—and I do not think it is possible to over-estimate the importance of it, both of the knowledge of it and the desire to know it more—even because of this it becomes us so much the more to take care that we never sacrifice the moral principles of God's dealings with every soul of man, and with ourselves in particular because of the mercy that He has shown our souls.
But here is a passage now before us that sometimes startles many a soul not founded in grace; a passage which those who are unacquainted with grace wrest as they do also the other scriptures to their own destruction. They say, There, you see, it all depends upon what we are—how we overcome self, and how far we are changed men: all depends upon our being thoroughly spiritual and entirely devoted. I need not stop to prove that such a statement is altogether false; that the only foundation on which we can stand at all is Christ: “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ.” That foundation is not the work of the Spirit in us, but of Christ for us; it is a work entirely outside us, on which we stand forever before God. But as surely as we do stand on that foundation, there is a work of the Spirit in us, and a constant and serious work. I do not say it may not be eclipsed from time to time and interrupted. There may be sad checks to it; but I do say that God never allows such a thought as that a child of His, blessed with Christ, should not be subject to the present care, and government, and discipline of His heart and hand in our ways and conversation, so as to produce a moral conformity to His own will. He would cease to be God if He did, and He would treat us as bastards and not as sons; for “if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.”
Thus, though it may seem strange to those who little understand the ways of God, and it will be thought strong wherever there is carelessness, and anything allowed in our ways that is contrary to God, yet it is most wholesome and needed for our souls that we should remind ourselves of such a scripture as this: “Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” It is, be assured, universally true, whether of the unbeliever or of the believer— “whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” The unbeliever sows to self and nothing but self, and reaps the judgment of God on self—and of self where there is not a single good thing—nothing that will stand before God. But what about the believer? There is where the difficulty comes in. The believer has the mingled crop of good and evil. For just as we know with Christianity; the field where good seed was sown and where there was good soil, yet all was not good seed—tares were sown by the enemy; so Satan may take advantage of the unjudged evil of our hearts in order to lead into sin. It may not be always a question of gross sin; but it is the lawless evil of our nature, that prefers a little present gratification of self to the service, the uniform obedience and glory, of Christ. But what do we gain by it? Can you tell me of a soul that ever departed from the will of God that did not suffer in that very thing in which be pleased himself? Can you look back on any one thing in which you went contrary to God, that gave you satisfaction as a Christian? Wherever we indulged ourselves, in that itself God dealt with us. The very thing for which we spare ourselves becomes the keen rod for our correction. And let us thank God that it is so. “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
If it were not so, what must be the consequence? I must suffer in hell for it. If God did not carry on this discipline in my soul now, as sure as God lives and we live, what is contrary to God must be judged, and it will be judged in hell. Therefore no matter what the thing—be what many would think a matter of indifference, it is impossible that God could pass over a little sin: impossible that He could have communion with anything that is not of Christ. What a mercy that now is the time when God deals with what does not flow from His Spirit! It may have to be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ another day, when we shall receive the things done in the body according to that we have done whether good or bad. But now is the time when the rod is upon us: if it be not so, it is only because a heavier rod is preparing. Where we think that we can go on for a certain time, and it does not appear that God is taking notice of our ways, He is only waiting to deal with us in a more effectual manner.
And let us not think our Father hard. Can any one thing too hard come from such a God?—the God who gave His own Son to die that we might know our sins forgiven and ourselves sons of God with Christ forever? Now such we know to be our place, as it is of all Christians, let them say what they may. Nothing can alter God's truth. But a vast deal depends on what our practical state and conduct as to the dealing of God with our souls in the present time. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.” This does not mean anything necessarily shocking, though the very worst evil may be its end. Of course any kind of indulgence of the flesh must be dealt with by God and by God's children. But there may be that which children of God do not see. Does God pass over that because others do not see it, and we may not think much of it? Impossible that God could sanction what is contrary to Christ. And let us thank God for it. It is a part of the scheme of His perfect goodness towards us. It could not be otherwise. And we should prove ourselves to be little worthy of the name of Christ, if we wished it to be otherwise.
May our desire be that Christ be formed in us in everything; not only that we should have life everlasting, but that our hearts should be according to His heart—our spirit, our ways, our walk, according to the mold of Him to whom we belong. This is what God has before Him; and it should be the object of our souls. “Therefore let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

The Ground of God's Dealings Now

Sin is the groundwork of all God's dealings now. Is not judgment in respect of sin? So much so that there could be none without it; hence in itself it can only be condemnation. If God judges His own workmanship as it came out of His hands, He is judging Himself, not the work, or if you please, in the work. But if it has departed willfully into rebellion, judgment as such must be condemnation. If man had never fallen, there was nothing to judge, speaking of human nature: all was then as God made it. If man has abandoned God and gone into sin, I repeat, judgment must be condemnation; and this is the ground Christianity goes upon. Christ comes to seek and to save the lost. and so every divinely taught soul: “enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” But I pursue my theme a little.
Is not the exercise of mercy in respect of sin? and law, and grace, and salvation, and judgments, and patience, and vengeance? All is in respect of sin. Hence the immensely deep moral development in the soul in its relationship with God. No angel would know God, or be in the kind of relationship in which a sinner brought to God is. All the highest attributes and qualities in Godhead are brought out. Mercy, patience, goodness, condescension, love in its perfect exercise in the shape of grace, on one side, and restoring in righteousness on the other, to perfect delight in itself—in a word, redemption. The intimacy with the working of grace, whether in the incarnation or in the soul of one in whom grace is, the estimate of good and evil, by the proximity of what is divine to evil as it is in us; yea, the communication of what is divine to one who, on the other side, is weakness and yet willfulness and self, the dependence of a creature who has both on continual grace, and yet the capacity of the enjoyment of the highest good: all this, which is not Christianity exactly, but its working in us, gives a display of divine wisdom, a purifying and elevating process, a knowledge of God in His highest nature, most intimate, and yet most adoring, which makes philosophy puny and dry beyond all belief—empty, utterly empty. Christianity is light and love come into darkness and selfishness, and in the human heart reaching all its springs, and destroying self by skewing it and replacing it by God; and this, not by the flimsy spinnings of the human brain, but by a divine person; who, if divine desires are wrought in me, takes me out of myself by divine affections instead of exalting self, by producing in it qualities to be admired, which being by self makes them bad and false. The Christian, qua Christian, has divine qualities, but sees, and because he sees, only God.
Christianity reveals a person, God Himself, who has adapted Himself to the lowest, yea, the vilest; who is holy enough, for He is perfect in it, to bring love into all the recesses of the human heart, because never defiled Himself, and awake, even by its sorrows and its miseries, the want of, and to the enjoyment of, the love that has visited it. It has set too, by a glorious redemption and atonement, the poor soul, that by love has learned to delight in light, at liberty to enjoy it, because it is spotless in it, and the adoring object of the love that has brought it there.
I look around. What can I say? Heathenism—men worshipping stocks and stones; Christendom—what would often disgrace a heathen; yet goodness and wisdom evidenced in the midst of it all. What can I think? All is confusion. The goodness and wisdom I see lead me in spite of me to God, and the thoughts of God confound me when I see all the evil. Philosophy, poor philosophy, would justify the evil to justify God. But when I see Christ, the riddle is gone; I see perfect good in the midst of the evil, occupied with it and then suffering under it. My heart rests: I find one object that satisfies all its wants—rises above all its cravings; I have what is good in goodness itself; I see what is above evil which was pressing on me. My heart has got rest in good, and a good which is such in the midst of and above evil, and that is what I want; and I have got relief, because I have found in that One what is power over it.
But I go a little farther and I get a great deal more. I follow this blessed One from whom all have received good, and who has wrought it with unwearied patience, and I hear the shouts of a giddy multitude, and I trace the dark plans of jealous enemies, man who cannot bear good; I see high judges who cannot occupy themselves with what is despised in the world, and would quiet malice by letting it have its way, and goodness the victim of it. But a little thought leads me to see in a nearer view what man is: hatred against God and good. Oh what a display! The truest friend denies, the nearest betrays, the weaker ones who are honest flee; priests, set to have compassion on ignorant failure, plead furiously against innocence; the judge washing his hands of condemned innocence; goodness absolutely alone; and the world, all men, enmity—universal enmity—against it. Perfect light has brought out the darkness; perfect love, jealous hatred. Self would have its way and not have God; and the cross closes the scene, as far as man is concerned. “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” But oh! here is what I want. Oh! where can I turn from myself? Can I set up to be better than my neighbors? No, it is myself.
The sight of a rejected Christ has discovered myself to myself, the deepest recesses of my heart are laid bare, and self, horrible self, is there; but not on the cross. There is none. And the infinite love of God rises and shines in its own perfection above it all. I can adore God in love, if I abhor myself. Man is met, risen above, set aside in his evil, absolute as it is in itself when searched out. The revelation of God in Christ has proved it in all its extent on the cross. This was hatred against love in God; but it was perfect love to those that were hating it, and love when and where they were such. It was the perfect hatred of man, and the perfect love of God doing for him that hated Him what put away the hatred and blotted out the sin that expressed it.
There is nothing like the cross. It is the meeting of the perfect sin of man with the perfect love of God. Sin risen up to its highest point of evil and gone, put away, and lost in its own worst act. God is above man even in the height of his sin; not in allowing it, but in putting it away by Christ dying for it in love. The soldier's insulting spear, the witness, if not the instrument of death, was answered by the blood and water which expiated and purified from the blow which brought it out. Sin was known, and to have a true heart it must be known, and God was known, known in light, and the upright heart wants that, but known in perfect love, before which we had no need to hide or screen the sin. No sin allowed, but no sin left on the conscience. All our intercourse with God founded on this—grace reigning in righteousness.
It is a wonderful scene. There is, in truth, nothing like it—nothing in heaven or earth, save He who was there for us. The glory we shall share with Him; but on the cross He was alone. He remains alone in its glory. Associated there with Him nothing can be, save as it is the expression of the nature which was revealed and glorified in it. That we find ever in God who is thus known. Eternal life is become thus association with God. But, though reluctantly, I must turn again to deal with the effort to supplant the cross, for such it is, by the progress of corrupt human nature—the cross which writes death on corrupt humanity, and brings in a new and divine man risen up out of that death, and a walk in newness of life.

Growing Up Into Christ

Eph. 4:15
One cannot help seeing in such a passage as this the profound interest the Lord takes in blessing. There is profound love in it, as well as that it is a fact that He delights in blessing. His purpose is to bring us into the enjoyment of His own blessedness. His thoughts are blessings; and there is none anywhere else but in Him. If I speak of blessing, it must be what is in the heart of God. A father's thoughts of giving to His children are measured by his love for them. When we see what is in God's heart for us, and that all His thoughts have the form and power of blessing, what must be for us! He is bringing us to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ—this is to be the result; but it is the principle and spring of blessing that was in my mind to speak upon. He is conforming us as to His own thoughts in blessing at the end. The objects of such love, we abject sinners taken up by Him, show the greatness of His love. Christ is the great workman of it all. It is by Christ that He does it. When God sets about to bless, it is by the Son of His love. It is an immense foundation for us to rest upon—not only strong but wide and large and deep. “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.” “He descended first into the lower parts of the earth.” What then is to escape the power of Him, who has been borne up to the throne of God, after going down to the very lowest place of death under sin? He has been in the lowest place of misery and death, and is taken up to the highest place of glory—the throne of God—and all between is filled up by Christ. Thus nothing can escape. He went down to the place of death and sin, “made sin for us,” and went up to the throne of God! There is strength for me a poor sinner; something to rest on. Yet it is not distant from us, but we have the consciousness of its being in and around us. It is said in Revelation of the “city,” “the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
The Lamb is nearer to my heart than any. He has known me better than any, better than I know myself; and this Christ who dwells in our hearts by faith is the One we shall meet there. I shall find One in heaven nearer and dearer to my heart than any one I know on earth. Nothing is so near to us as the Christ that is in us, and nothing is so near to God as Christ. Yet the world is in a man's heart. All that is agreeable and outwardly good in this world finds its echo in a man's heart, and all the evil that has come in finds its place there too. Christ was here amidst it all. He met it all without having the evil in Him, yet He knows it all. Everything we feel, all that passes through the heart of man, Christ has gone through, not by grasping at the thing but by resisting the evil. With all the sensibilities of the heart to good or evil (and this makes the heart of man such a wonderful thing) Christ can meet all. The center key to all this is Christ: He has power to put away the evil. If there was one thing where my heart could not rest on Christ, it would be dreadful. All have the knowledge of good and evil, even the unconverted man. Without Christ he sets about racking his heart to find any good thing that is under the sun. All the best affections of a man are the occasion of his greatest distress, because sin has come in: the heart gets pulled and torn every way, but it must go through it. See a wife losing her husband, a mother her children. The instant I see Christ in all this trial, I find the perfect good God delights in. Divine sympathy is found in God Himself. I may have trial and conflict, I must have it in passing through the wilderness; but I become weaned from the thing that was a snare to me by looking to Christ in it.
Present confidence in Christ is needed in trial (losing a near relative, &c.) but the practical effect is that every trial a man goes through gives him (if the heart is thus trusting) to know more and more of what Christ is to meet the need, and more of Christ as possessing Him.
“I bare thee on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself;” and there we find all the unfoldings of what God is in Christ. I cannot do without Christ. I want manna in the wilderness God gives it to me; and not only I get all this, water, manna, &c., but I have Christ Himself in it all.
No matter what it is that exercises my heart in the knowledge of good and evil, and the need of the heart in consequence, it makes Christ more known and more enjoyed. Our natural portion as Christians is to enjoy God. Where has God planted us? In the enjoyment of an accomplished redemption; and the result is that love has not only been manifested towards us, but poured out in us. The love of God is shed abroad in our souls by the Holy Ghost which He has given unto us. We dwell in God—for His love is infinite, but I am in it. I dwell in it, and He dwells in me: I, a poor little thing, nothing, dwell in Him. I must learn it, as a sinner, in Christ. A proud sinner will try to prescribe to God this and that &c., but God will have His way; and blessed it is that it should be so. “Builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” —this is the “vocation.” What a thought! What a bringing down, not of heaven, but something more, by special blessing bringing Him down to dwell in us. God would not dwell in angels: there is not the same want in them, but He will make Himself better known to angels, through His kindness towards us by Christ Jesus. There is a great deal more for us than the bringing down heaven. “Whosoever shall confess Jesus the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.”
What is the first practical effect of this calling to be “the habitation of God through the Spirit?” “With all lowliness and meekness,” &c. (Chap. 4:2.) A vessel of God! All the passions of the flesh there, but having the presence of God makes us unspeakably happy: that is our portion! “In all lowliness,” &c. A man who is humble needs not to be humbled. There is no safety but in being low. Then what is the consequence if self is not working and there is lowliness? Why love works. I cannot be happy with you all, if self is working; but if self is not working, love is, and I am full of love towards you all. What a spring of blessedness in communion there is; so far as self is down, broken to pieces, there is an out-going of perfect love to the brethren. “Love is of God.” His nature is at work when we love one another. The spring of the fellowship we find just now is God being here. God is our joy, and love, God's own nature, working, and God our common object. There are trials and difficulties for us all; but there is blessed joy in knowing one another thus, and seeing Christ in one another. “Receive ye one another to the glory of God.” If we meet a Christian, though he may be a stranger, we can be more intimate with him than one's own family who are not. Why? Because God is there. Another thing, there is the consciousness of what this unity is. “There is one body, and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith,” &c. We are brought together, not only through being united, but by what we possess together, one Lord, one faith, &c., rich or poor. He has his particular trials, and I mine; but both have God.
“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in you all.” God is above the world: you cannot tell me of one thing God is not above, and therefore there is not one thing that can separate me from His love. He is “through all.” You cannot find yourself in trouble and God not there; you cannot find yourself in any difficulty, perplexity, and not find God through it all. And He is “in you all;” He has come to be the spring of all happiness in us. If I know what water is, it is by drinking; if I know what sweetness is, it is by tasting it; if. I know God, it is by His being in me. We can look upon one another and see God in us all. Then these light afflictions what are they? God is come to take possession of us, and He is the spring in our hearts also. He comes to make us love, because He loves. We shall find it is fully so in heaven. If anything is a safeguard against evil, it is that such an one dwells in us; but it is more, it is the spring in the new nature, God's nature.
The perfecting of the saints is before God, and should be before us. Christ is the object of His thought. I must have these loved ones like Christ: therefore what God does is to make them grow up unto Christ. In the unity of the body, and in all the communion, and through all the exercises of heart, we have the end of all. In ministering to you or you to me, it is to grow up into Christ for there to be more of Christ in us. All the flow of Christian affection, all the enjoyment we have here, is for this end. I can look at my brother and know he is going to be in heaven with me. The enjoyment of all this shuts out the world—you are not thinking of your cares and troubles now. Fellowship with the brethren is perfect deliverance from all that is of the flesh; flesh cannot enter into it, all that is of the world is gone. I am dead to it. Every bit of fellowship I have with a brother is a proof that outside things are gone, done with. The more we are individually full of divine things, the more this communion with each other is realized. Two together, if both are spiritual, open the sluices that all the wells in the world cannot dry up. The power of the Holy Ghost that makes me overcome now will make me enjoy heaven, where there is nothing else: “they that dwell in thine house will be still praising thee.” The power of evil, of the world, of Satan, is all gone. Our common joy now is in Christ, in the communion of His love; and when we are with Him, it will be completely without alloy.


Gen. 16-25
Abraham had already received the promise of a seed; so, by faith in that promise (trusting God as the quickener of the dead), he was now standing in righteousness before Him. (Gen. 15)
That promise, I may observe, had not mentioned Sarah in connection with the Seed, but there was strong intimation that she was to be the mother.
However, be this as it may, Sarah's suggestion to her husband at the opening of chapter xvi. too clearly discloses the working of an unbelieving heart, and the principle of confidence in the flesh. For of course they measure each other. The more the simplicity of faith is surrendered and grace is refused, the law will either in its morality or religiousness be taken up.
For grace, or the promise, calls us out of ourselves, unto God and His resources. And Abraham had followed that call in Gen. 15 But now at the suggestion of Sarah he takes up himself again. He is back again in the flesh, or under the law, or becomes a dependent on his own resources. For these are all one and the same thing. Hagar is his confidence, and not the divine quickener of the dead.
This is very sad; but it is not destructive of his standing. Surely not. It betrays the bad mistrustful habit of the soul, and has to be rebuked and chastened, but Abraham is still the heir of God through righteousness by faith.
Very expressive, I judge all this to be, and very significant or typical also. For the law after this pattern entered through man's confidence in himself, Israel accepting this offer of it, and saying, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Ex. 19:1); as Hagar is now seated in Abraham's house through the same want of faith and the same confidence in the flesh.
But there is much more of this same typical character. For Hagar's despising of her mistress is in the Lord's esteem highly out of place; and as He meets her in her wanderings, He knows her only as Sarah's maid, and sends her back with this injunction, “return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hand.” She may get promises respecting the son that was to be born to her, but she is Sarah's maid still, and submission is her only duty. The law, too, has its hour. It may fill the house of God for a time, as Hagar and Hagar's seed now do the house of Abraham for fourteen years. But to the elect, or the heirs of promise, even the dispensation of the law still is, or was, only a servant. Sarah, likewise, may betray herself in other ways, in her undue impatience against Hagar, as well as in giving her to her husband, but still the relationship is unaffected by all this. Hagar is still and only Sarah's maid, and as such she must reside in the family as long as she is permitted.
All this is strong decided teaching, and teaching of mysteries, as I have said. For Hagar, as we know (Gal. 4), is the law of the old covenant, which, though it filled and formed the house of God for its hour, was but serving some great purpose of instruction or discipline to the heirs of promise. And all the time there was a great underplot, so to express it, in this mystic house of the patriarch. In a divine sense it was surely the chief thing. Ishmael is born and circumcised, and, being the only child and heir apparent, he becomes the object no doubt of daily solicitude. But with God Ishmael is but second. He appears to be principal in the scene, but he is not really or divinely so. Accordingly neither he nor his mother is scarcely noticed by the Spirit or hand of God after this, while they reside in the house, till the due time for their dismissal comes. Abraham, through human or fleshy fondness, draws him forward for a moment under God's eye, and he is circumcised as any purchased slave would have been, but neither he nor his bondwoman mother is the Lord's object. The elect Abraham and Sarah, or persons and things connected with them, are his thoughts. His communications are with them, and his discipline spent upon them: they learn and experience their value in His esteem, and others are made to know it also. (Chap. 17-20.)
Is not this, in like manner, a word of instruction to us Hagar and her child were in the house all this time. But Sarah and Abraham are God's objects. As again I may say, during the age of the law, the house of God was, it is true, manifested as under law, the law filled it with a material of its own workmanship, but there was all the while a hidden action of the Spirit with the elect—the elect in the house were really God's objects.
These two stages in the way of the Egyptian bondwoman are thus very significant. Her entrance into Abraham's house as the mother of his first child Ishmael, and then her residence there for a season, have this mystic sense in them. But these things do not dispose of the whole history. We have still to look at her dismissal from the house.
Her child grew up to boyhood, and was, as I have suggested, no doubt, the object of family concern. But the current which had long run underground, or was known only in the counsels and promises of God, must appear and assert its course. Grace and the covenant must have their way and become principal in the scene. And therefore in due time, yea at the very right moment, “when the fullness of the time had come,” Isaac is born.
The appearance of such a child was a great era. And soon was it found that he was set for a sign that should be spoken against, as well as for the joy of the elect. Abraham makes a feast, but Ishmael mocks over the same event. Here was the revealing of hearts. One taunts what the other glories in. But Sarah is bolder still. She will not merely take part in Abraham's joy, but she is for judging the scorners. “Cast out the bondwoman and her son,” says she. Here was another heart revealed, a great heart truly. Here was an energy of faith which far outdid even Abraham's. Abraham would personally and quietly enjoy the child of promise, but Sarah will not only do this, laughing with divine believing delight over him, but is for cleaning out by a summary dismissal all that would disturb his full unrivaled heirship of everything.
This was indeed great-hearted faith. This spoke the mind of God. (Gal. 4:30.) This was interpreting the gift of God, the child of promise, aright. This was putting honor upon that gift as it well deserved. It was not a mother's fondness, but faith's boldness; for shall the gift of God be kept merely on a level, on the same floor as it were, with the fruit of human strength or the creatures of man's resources?
This great-hearted faith of Sarah is very encouraging, receiving too, as it does, the full and ready sanction of the Lord Himself. It is very happy to watch this. It is well when the soul can, with Abraham, rejoice over the accomplished counsels and promises of God. But it is better, when we can be so bold in the faith as with this joy to cast out from our hearts all spirit of bondage and fear, every fruit of nature and every confidence save in the sovereign and glorious resources of the living God—God of all grace and salvation as He is—when we can refuse to hear anything or to see anything that may bush or cloud that goodness and power of God by which He has brought Himself unspeakably near to our hearts.
From the presence of such a faith as this everything must retire and make room for God and His gift. Hagar is dismissed, and of course the mocking Ishmael. Sarah will have it so—faith, rather, will have it so. And so will God; and Abraham, let fondness and nature be as reluctant as they may, must have it so likewise.
What precious mysteries may our souls thus feed upon while they meditate on Hagar's introduction to the house, her residence in the house, and her dismissal from the house, of our father Abraham!
But I would now also, for a little, trace the results of the birth of Isaac, of the appearance of the child of promise in the house of Abraham.
The immediate fruit of this appearance of Isaac, as I have been observing, is the dismissal of Hagar and her child. And, as I also have observed, this is a mystery. “When faith came, we were no longer under a schoolmaster;” but the exhortation now is, “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free.”
The Spirit of sonship displaces that of fear. There must be no room in the house for two children of such opposite tempers. Since Jesus had appeared, the elect stand in the righteousness of faith and wait for the hope it inspires (Gal. 5:5), and fear and bondage depart.
The future fruit of this great mystic event is the covenant of peace between Abraham and the Gentiles, Abraham on that great occasion taking the lead, and soon afterward owning, for the first time, the earth as a beautiful or millennial scene, and the Lord God as the everlasting God, or the Father of the millennial age. (Chap. 21.)
In this way the immediate and the final results of the appearance or birth of the child of the freewoman are exhibited. But there is more to be observed in the history down to chapter 25. Another thing is incidentally shown also—the fortunes of the outcast child of the bondwoman.
At first he is all but dead. The provision with which he left Abraham's house is all spent, and he is cast entirely upon God. But under His provision he grows up and thrives, as a man of the wilderness. There he dwells and has his occupation, and the prophecies which went before on him (chap. 16.) were made good. But in the principle and taste of his mind he returns, as far as he can, to his mother's native land. She gets him an Egyptian wife.
All this is significant. For we know that Ishmael is, mystically, the children of “the Jerusalem that now is.” (Gal. 4) And quite after this pattern of Ishmael, is it now with the Jew; for the Jew (or the nation of Israel) since the day of his dismissal from the house of God, since he ceased to be owned of the Lord in the land of his fathers, has been kept alive by the peculiar hand or provision of God. A full end has been made of other nations but not of Israel, and never will. For so runs the promise: outcast that people are, but not destroyed. They have, it is true, gone back all they could to the flesh out of which by profession through circumcision they had come; they have in principle returned to Egypt, or found affinity with the ways of an uncircumcised world; but there they are to this day, kept by the present hand of God for the coming purposes of God, all their history marking the energies of a divine hand over them.
This is all significant: the wilderness of Ishmael is as much mystic ground as the land of Israel. But, further, during this growth of Ishmael in the wilderness, the house of God has been enjoying its liberty. Isaac has filled Abraham's and Sarah's heart with laughter. And all this liberty and joy was as much divine as the preservation of the life of Ishmael in the wilderness—the one betokening the Spirit, the other the hand of God. God sanctioned this joy. He would by no means have it otherwise.
And, blessed to tell it, it was a worshipping as well as a deep personal joy; for it could associate itself with any sacrifice. The father and the son, Abraham and Isaac, loved each other with the warmest affections, but at the bidding of the Lord they can go to the altar as the offerer and His Lamb. And it was also a joy that could dwell in thoughts of resurrection, and lay its objects in scenes beyond the grave. And it was holy jealousy as well. It refused all kindredness or Ishmael's affinities with the world. Chapters 22-24 exhibit these qualities in Abraham and Isaac, while Ishmael is growing up no better than an Egyptian in the desert. (Chap. 22-24.)
This is, I believe, all deeply significant. Is it not the picture of what we in this age ought to be—in a spirit of full gladness and liberty before our God, but also in a spirit of sacrifice, and in a spirit of separation from the world?
Finally, as I have already anticipated, in a little time the scene will change to glory or the kingdom. Abraham or Israel will be courted by the Gentiles and their kings—the earth will be beautified, or planted with groves again, and the altar of the everlasting or millennial God (see chap. 21.) will be raised, while a covenant of peace binds all the families of the earth together; as here at the close Abraham's seed, as by Keturab, are sent into distant lands, with gifts as from a father, though Isaac was at home the heir of his estate! (Chap. 25.)
“Witty inventions,” surely, divine wisdom employs to teach our souls with joy and profit!
J. G. B.

How They May Be Viewed Christians

Christians may be viewed as the seed of Abraham (Galatians, Hebrews), part of the line of the heir of promise on earth, and not only as those united to Christ as His body, a new and special and heavenly thing true of us on earth. (Ephesians, Colossians)

On Intercession and Forgiveness

The intercession of Christ, as priest in Hebrews, is not for the forgiveness of sins, nor for sin properly at all, but for mercy and help in time, of need to succor them that are tempted, because all the sanctified are viewed as perfected by one offering. In 1 John, the advocacy is exercised when one has sinned, because there fellowship or communion are spoken of, and this is interrupted by sin. Forgiveness in the sense of non-imputation cannot be sought by one set free in Christ because he does know that sins are not imputed to him. But he confesses his sins, and fatherly forgiveness is given him. Confession goes much deeper into the conscience than merely asking forgiveness.
There is a forgiveness which applies to Christians and to Christians only—what I may call administrative forgiveness, which has nothing to do with non-imputation or righteousness. See James 5:15. Compare 1 John 5:16, and 2 Cor. 2:10.
In 1 John 2 the advocacy of Christ is founded on righteousness and the efficacy of propitiation being already there in Christ. That pardon is plenary on coming to Christ is clear, and (to refer to none else) in Heb. 9; 10, it is largely reasoned out by the Holy Ghost. If not, such sins never could be cleared, as Christ cannot now die over again, and without shedding of blood is no remission. Christ must often have suffered. To make a difference of time is to confound the time of the Spirit's operation in bringing our souls to faith in Christ and His work with the work itself. All our sins were future when Christ bore them. The way in which “once for all,” “forever,” and “no more” are used in Heb. 9; 10 is most distinct and characteristic.

Is Scripture Typical?

Symbolism means types of the Old Testament applicable to things in the New. Both concur in stating that this is so. Moses was commanded to make the tabernacle according to the pattern seen in the Mount. Now if God made such a system, ought we to expect no more in it than gowns and curtains? The whole language through scripture is framed on such a symbolical use, and the great facts of the New are the plain counterpart to the symbols of the Old. You must tear the warp out so that it ceases to be a texture before you undo this. Altars, tabernacles, the dwelling place of God, sacrifices, priesthood, the rock, the water, the anointing, the holy place, the mercy-seat, the blood shedding. I should go through every element in its whole structure of thought before I had closed the list of facts and objects presented in the Old Testament and taken up in the New, and which have entered (and this according to scripture) into the conception of our religious thought. It is not a way of interpreting but scripture itself. Christ is the Lamb of God. He is a great High Priest entered into the holiest. And Paul goes farther, telling us as to the history itself, “And these things happened unto them for types, and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.” One, and only one, true meaning therefore is not the fact in this case.
Say Moses was foolish, and Paul foolish; but if you so interpret scripture, you interpret it contrary to its nature and positive directions; that is, you do not interpret it, you correct it. I have the facts—important, very important, in the history of the people—important as a history of God's dealings with the people; and I get them avowedly pattern facts. Keep the imagination in check—all quite right. Look for doctrines in doctrinal passages, and here for details and illustrations—all right. But do not pretend you are teaching us to interpret scripture rightly when you are directly contradicting it, and saying to it, You are wrong. It is not the Fathers who have said that Sarah and Hagar were an allegory. We do not follow them in such a point as saying, Does God take care for oxen?
If I use scripture at all, and on the weightiest subjects, the rationalist's principle becomes impossible. It breaks down, as you say, the whole structure of scripture itself. And I see that he does not merely check the indulgence of imagination in it, which is quite right, but rejects the idea of more or less. He declares, that “in whatever degree it is practiced, it is equally incapable of being reduced to any rule.” I do not know whether he rejects the Epistle to the Hebrews; but evidently that book is gone wholly if his principle be true, and countless passages throughout the whole New Testament.
Temporal and spiritual Israel, as commonly used, I give him freely up. It is a mere abuse of words. I say, as commonly used; because, in the common adaptation of prophecies, prophecies explicitly referring to Israel are applied to the assembly, where the subject matter and principles are completely opposed. Ordained forms, and facts of history, may have a symbolical application; but moral addresses refer to the objects and moral state of those addressed, and do not give us objects to interpret, but persons addressed. Zion means Zion when she is prophesied about. The prophecy concerns her because it speaks to her on the moral ground she is on, and the arbitrary application to the assembly is entirely false, because the principle of relationship with God is different. A general principle, as that God is faithful or good, may be of course applied, with just care to see how it is used; yet the people addressed are not symbolical objects but moral persons, and the facts to happen real. If we are to speak of the Lord's prophecy as to Jerusalem, I apply the same principle, but I deny wholly that in Matthew, Titus &c., are spoken of at all. There may have been something analogous; but its only direct application is to dealings yet to come, immediately after which the Lord will appear, I believe this because it says so. In Luke 1 have the siege of Jerusalem, and the language is carefully altered. I believe what is said in both passages. In Luke, whose gospel always looks out to Gentiles, the times of the Gentiles after the siege are distinctly spoken of before the signs that are to come.
Remark here how doubt is thrown on all. It is asked, Is the application of types “to be regarded as the meaning of the original text, or an accommodation of it to the thoughts of latter times?” Now, note that the Lord instituted the last supper as taking the place of the Passover. The apostles apply in every passage these figures, so that the question is not if we are interpreting right; it extends to this—if the Lord and the apostles are merely accommodating these figures or not? What does the rationalist think? He says, “Our object is, not to attempt here the determination of these questions, but to point out that they must be determined before any real progress can be made.” The answer is, for every Christian the matter is determined. They believe in the Lord's and the apostles' use of them—man's uses now they judge by scripture to see if they be just.
The use of any given type now is, of course, to be judged of when it is used. They are most instructive, and, fitting in with positive doctrines which warrant what is drawn from them, they become living pictures and illustrations of what otherwise would escape you. They may not, in our hands, serve to found a doctrine as a first revelation of it; but as a vivid illustration and suggestion of truth they are invaluable.
The rationalist insists on this because “The Old Testament will receive a different meaning accordingly as it is explained from itself or from the New. In the first case, a careful and conscientious study of each one for itself is all that is required; in the second case, the types and ceremonies of the law, perhaps the very facts and persons of the history, will be assumed to be predestined or made after a pattern corresponding to the things that were to be in the latter days.” Now all this is confusion from beginning to end. It ignores the positive statements of the volume pretended to be interpreted. And further, if the book be inspired, one Mind has formed it from beginning to end, and we must look for a coordinated system. If it be not, we find there is an end of predestinating facts or even statements. But we have seen that, if it is a true history, the whole system of the tabernacle was made after a pattern, which the Epistle to the Hebrews largely and specifically declares to be a heavenly one, and the tabernacle a pattern of things in the heavens. But we have this even more specifically defined. The law was a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image. There were sacrifices: so Jesus was a sacrifice. But the Jewish were repeated, proving that sin was not forever put away for him who came by them; Jesus' was not repeated, because it was. There were many priests, because they died; for us but one, because He ever lives. There was a veil, and no one could go into the holiest; now the veil is rent, and we have boldness to enter. The high priest stood, because his work was never finished; Jesus is set down at the right hand of God, because His work is finished forever, and so on. These were the outlines of this vast exhibition of God's ways, to be a key, so to speak, near the eye. But neither Testament is simply to be explained by the other. In some points there is contrast, as law and gospel; in others analogies; in others common principles; in others prophetic announcements. The only point we learn to have been hidden was the assembly. This could not be revealed because it was based on the casting down of the middle wall of partition, as the Jewish system was on its being strictly kept up.
But, if God be the Author of the sacred volume, it is monstrous to suppose there was not a preparatory leading on to the full revelation of God Himself, or that He revealed something which was wholly unconnected with and no way introductory to what followed. It was necessary to make distinct the difference between man's standing on the ground of his own responsibility, and grace—between requiring, however justly, and giving. And this, though prophets point to the giving, there is. But promises came before law; and even under law (a ministration of condemnation and death) there were ordinances which prefigured the way of grace, while the exacting of righteousness, which man had not, led him to the sense of the need which grace met. The understanding of all this rests on this: “They shall be all taught of God.” Each part, as to its statements, is to be understood in itself; but, when simply understood, the correspondences and differences will appear, and rich instruction for man's soul be acquired out of them.
All this division of the rationalists, with its consequences, is in the air, and written without any kind of reference to the facts of the case. We do not assume anything about it. We take what is said in the book itself about itself, and find it verified in the richest and most instructive manner. One would think the rationalist had never read Paul's Epistles, or the Hebrews, or indeed any part of the New Testament; for, as I said, he does not reason on its interpretation here, but against its contents. And man's fancies, and scriptural (that is, divine) expositions, are thrown together as of equal weight.

Jehovah Is My Shepherd

Psa. 23
The blessings of this Psalm modified in this way—the blessings into which as the Shepherd He leads the flock—are not merely temporal but spiritual. The veil is now rent from top to bottom, and we are brought up to God, so that God is not only caring for us all the way, but the exercise of our souls should be to walk in the light with Him, “if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection from the dead.”
The care He has is to bring us up to walk in the power of that heavenly glory with Himself. “Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.” God is not only known to us as Jehovah giving us mercies all along the road, but it is the Father blessing us with spiritual things. True, “the hairs of our head are all numbered,” but there is discipline for our souls as well, which leads into blessing.
This Psalm is not only for us, but there was this experience in the Lord Jesus Himself, of God as His Shepherd. As a man upon earth He was kept by God. “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” He knew restoration of soul in Gethsemane where He, being in an agony, prayed the more earnestly. He never erred in His ways, never needed to be restored in that way. The very same care was exercised for Him—faultless object as He was of it—as there is for us.
Any pious Jew having a renewed nature, in old time, might know and use this Psalm and say, Jehovah my Shepherd. The holiness of God was not fully revealed, and therefore the conscience was not disquieted, and the distance not felt. They knew the favor of God and counted on His goodness then; but now we are brought into the light and see what judgment is. The veil is rent and God's holiness is manifested, for we are in the light as He is in the light through Jesus. “The darkness is past and the true light now shineth.”
Now that sin has been fully shown out, the death of Christ proving what the enmity of the heart was, this matter must be settled. I cannot say, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” if I have not the knowledge of sin forgiven. I cannot talk of confidence, if I have a fear of judgment, and I see the desert of sin in the light of His holiness. I cannot speak of One who may be my Judge, that He is my Shepherd, and “I shall dwell,” &c.
We cannot know Him as our Shepherd if it is an unsettled matter about sin being forgiven. God cannot let sin into His presence. There must be a conscience purged. Christ has been accepted, and He puts us into His place, having made peace through the blood of His cross. “He has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” — “entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.” God does not see sin in Jesus, and we are in Him: therefore He sees no sin in us. The comfort and peace Christ had as a man walking on the earth, He gives us. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” Now I have come to put you in the place of unhindered confidence with the Father, and that is what you could never have, if the least sense of sin were upon you. The peace is made; therefore He can not only say, “Peace I leave,” &c.; but “my peace I give unto you.” These were not idle words; and we can see how He can give it us, having brought us to God and put away everything against us.
Now the question is one of happiness with God (conflict by the way of course, but God is my Shepherd). Not only has He done something for me, but He is something to me. Therefore it is said, “that your faith and hope might be in God.” I believe in God in Christ, as One who has loved me perfectly and manifested His love by putting away my sin. The kindness and love of God our Savior toward man has appeared.
The thought I may now have of God is that He has done all this for me, and that He is all this to me. I may fail and so get into evil, and this will make me ashamed, but it will not destroy my confidence, because my faith and hope are in God Himself. Now God is my Shepherd, and we may have confidence in Himself, for it does not say, He has done this and He will do that; but “I shall not want.” There never can be a want to the soul that has the supply. It is the application of this power and goodness of God to my every-day need that I shall feel; and all this must go on the ground of sin forgiven. Now I have found out not only my need of being justified, but that He has justified me. “Whom he called, them he also justified.” (Rom. 8)
The starting point of Christian experience is, “God for me,” and “if God be for me, who can be against me.” I am the object of His favor, which is “better than life.” “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” I shall find food in everything—lie down, no one making me afraid. There are not only green pastures to be seized, with wolf in the way, but I lie down in them, and it is “he leadeth me,” and that must be in perfect peace and enjoyment, “beside the still waters.” This is the natural Christian state, realizing all things ours, for God is for us: therefore we may lie down. We shall have conflict, but, amidst it all, enjoyment.
Further, “He restoreth my soul.” This we know in a different way to what the Lord Jesus could. In one sense it could be said of Him, for He had had trouble without sin. “I cry in the day time, and thou hearest not, and in the night season,” &c. See John 12:27, 28 also. Sorrow is not sin. Christ knew sorrow but not distrust of God. If the sorrow gets between our souls and God, so as to produce distrust, it is sin; and if sin comes in, He can restore the soul. Whether from trouble or offending, He can restore.
See what thought he had about God! He does not say, I must get my soul restored and then go to God; but “he restoreth my soul.” It is not said, If any man repent, but “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” Who can restore but He? There may be something to correct in us, if not actually a fall—hardness in my heart, which trouble shows me, &c. For our good in this way, He sends trouble—the soul needs plowing up, and cannot tell what God is doing—as well as that which is our proper portion as followers of Him who was the “man of sorrows.” But when He does restore, it is “for his name's sake.” Here am I, a poor failing wretched creature, and the Lord comes in and restores. Why? “For his name's sake.” Whatever I am, God is for me, and not only in this way, but also against enemies. “Though I walk through the valley,” &c. Man had reason to quail at death, before Christ came, for death was the wages of sin, Gen. 3; but now we need “fear no evil,” death is “ours” now: “the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.” If they took my life, they could not hurt me, for I was trusting to One who could raise me; Paul meant to say, If they take this life I have lost nothing; nay, it is positive gain, for it hastens me on the road. Death is not terrible now. Why? “Thou art with me,” terrible without. “Thy rod,” &c., not only a rod, but “Thy rod,” &c. I shall fear no evil. Why? Because no one can compete with God. Death is the very thing by which Christ has saved me, and it is by that He will take me into His presence: “absent from the body present with the Lord.” “Though I walk,” &c., it may come as a trial to exercise my soul, well, I have to remember, “Thou art with me.”
Ver. 5. There is not only failure in life, and failure in death to meet, but mighty enemies; and I can sit down amongst them and find everything given me for food. I feed on this dying Christ, and it was in His death Satan's power was most put forth. In another light, Satan comes and tempts me with the flesh, but I can say to him, I am dead. I have a right to say it, I may fail in saying it, but that is another thing. Satan cannot touch anything but my flesh, and, if I am mortifying my members, he has no power. If my members are alive, Satan cannot count me dead. In the presence of all these I can sit down and say, I have done with them all, for “Thou art with me.” I have found that power by which they are made nothing to me. Then we get into farther security still, not only lying down in green pastures, &c., and led on in the paths of righteousness, comfort and support in walking through the valley so that there is no fear, and a table spread in the presence of enemies; but my head anointed with oil, “my cup runneth over.” Now that Christ has ascended, and the Holy Ghost has been given, there is triumphant joy, abounding over all, “through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Ver. 6. “My cup runneth over.” I now find God Himself. the source of all, and not only this as a present thing, but seeing what God is, I can say, “goodness and mercy shall follow me,” &c., and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. We shall never want goodness and not find it. It “shall follow me.” The goodness of God is better than man's, if we could get it, and there is a place to dwell in— “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord,” &c. That is my hope. In the Father's house, there are not only blessings conferred, but a place to dwell in with the Father forever. As He brought Christ through, of course He will bring me through too; and I am there now by faith. I am at home with God my Father. Temporal mercies come from God's love, and spiritual, which are far better. And He would have us feel that all the correctings and chastenings by the way are founded on the fact that He is for us. When peace is really settled through the work of Christ, I have all these exercises; and what is known only to faith at the beginning becomes afterward experience, though always faith too; but every step, having had this experience, we can say, we know it—whatever it be we meet with by the way—we know it is all for good, and “we shall dwell,” &c. Wonderful grace!
We may notice that the Lord may put us through all kinds of trials, to teach us His faithfulness and love, while finding out what we are, we know ourselves so little. He studies as it were our characters, as we do our children.
There is a measure of confidence produced the moment God begins to work in the heart, but not quietness and peace until there is the knowledge of sin put away.

Notes on Jeremiah 42

THE heart, even where unrenewed, feels the need of religion till hardened by sin without conscience or blinded by the speculations of a misguided mind. But, however fair its promise or its actual form, the will is soon put to the test of God's word, which nothing stands but faith.
“Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near, and said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord thy God, even for all this remnant (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us): that the Lord thy God may show us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.” (Ver. 1-3.)
Real faith is unsuspicious, and it can afford to be so; for the believer knows in whom he has believed, and can commit oneself and others, the present and the future, to the One whose grace has looked on us for eternity, and whose righteous government notices every word and way and feeling and desire along the road. Hence if wise, one is spared from censoriousness; and though liable to be deceived, it is only when we fail to bring every difficulty to our God. So it was here. “Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the Lord your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the Lord shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you. Then they said to Jeremiah, The Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send thee to us. Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” (Ver. 4-6.) If protestation could have assured the prophet, there was enough then; but he was not ignorant either of man or of Satan. His trust was in God, let the Jew be true or false.
But how painful it is to prove that the flesh betrays itself quite as much by its excessive show of piety as by profanity! It is not by want of fervor that its hollowness is detected by the experienced eye, but rather by too profuse, or at least too self-confident, a readiness to obey the divine will, whatever it be. The duty may be plain; but what of the heart? of the power to go on and to go through? Faith supposes the sense of our own weakness as surely as it counts on God and His grace. Human resolution in divine things has its force only where it is allowed its own will.
“And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah. Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest. And said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; if ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the Lord: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercy unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.” (Ver. 7-12.) The prophet himself waits till the divine answer comes: it was no question of his wisdom, but of God's word. And God now as peremptorily warns against fleeing into Egypt for protection, as He had before admonished them to submit to the king of Babylon. Faith accepts the chastening of sin, yet withal confides in God and His grace. Unbelief is fruitful in resources, all of which are merely the workings of a rebellious heart and secure nothing but ruin to those who are carried away by it. If they believed, low as their estate was, they need not make haste, and would surely be established; for they would be in His hand who could turn the heart of Nebuchadnezzar toward them: why should they be terrified by their adversaries? “But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the Lord your God, saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell: and now therefore hear the word of the Lord, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die. So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more.” (Ver. 13-18.)
Thus God in the long run invariably accomplishes His will. Happy they who are in its current all the way through! If men resist, they gain nothing but grief and disappointment, which temporary success only embitters; but far from hindering the word of Jehovah, they only accomplish it by the measures intended to give effect to their own wishes, and the evils they most dread they bring infallibly on themselves.
“The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day. For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the Lord your God, saying, Pray for us unto the Lord our God; and according unto all that the Lord our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it. And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God, nor anything for the which he hath sent me unto you. Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.” (Ver. 19-22.)
The prophet had walked in patience, the people in dissimulation, and God made all plain to His own glory and in His own time. Justly are those destroyed for their disobedience of God who had made the most pious protestation of unswerving devotedness to His will.

Notes on Jeremiah 43

The preceding scene ended with the gravest warning to the Jews in the land who had consulted the prophet. The present chapter shows how soon it proved unavailing. Will was at work. The difficulty lay there. They trusted themselves. They did not trust God. Egypt was near, Nebuchadnezzar at a distance. He who had chastised the apostate pride of Judah was offensive to them. They refused to bow to the word, or to confide in the working of the Lord in their favor. They had nevertheless loudly proffered to obey His voice; and He forbade them by His prophet to go down into Egypt, whither they wished to betake themselves.
“And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the Lord their God, for which the Lord their God had sent him to them, even all these words, then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the Lord our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there: but Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon.” (Ver. 1-3.) Unbelief may go on quietly for a while, and even put forth pious professions; but a time of trial inevitably comes, and tests whether it is God's will, or our own, that we are really seeking. Johanan, the son of Kareah (who had so lately opposed the crafty assassin and royal plunderer, Ishmael), is one of the proud men who insult the prophet and reject the message God sent by him. Had there been a lowly and contrite spirit, he would have trembled, and been enabled to bear the voice of Jehovah. But he was not of God; and an unjudged will blinded his eyes and dulled his ears. Perhaps he honestly thought what he said; but if so, how did he come to think so? What ground had Jeremiah given to sanction or so much as to excuse a doubt of his communication as from Jehovah? His own evil heart of unbelief not only mistrusted the prophet, but gave itself loose reins in surmising a plot between Baruch and the prophet to hand the rest over to the Chaldean conquerors. The credulity of the unbeliever is proverbial; and an evil self-willed action promptly follows.
“So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the Lord, to dwell in the land of Judah. But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah: even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters, and every person that Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah. So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: thus came they even to Tahpanhes.” (Ver. 4-7.) Those who believe can afford to be calm and submit. If the hand of power compels them to go here or there, it is no longer their responsibility, but the guilt of such as despise the word of the Lord. Till Jesus returns in glory, the faithful, above all those entrusted with the testimony, have to swim against the current, and to suffer where overborne by violence.
But this does not silence the prophet, however naturally timid and sensitive. “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brick kiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid: and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them. And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword. And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace. He shall break also the images of Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire.” (Ver. 8-13.) Little did “all the proud men” expect that they were only carrying along with them one whose voice would so shortly open in Egypt to pronounce their doom; and this by the hand of the very conqueror against whom they hoped to erect an impassable barrier in the power of the king of the south. Vain hope to escape the hand of the God they despised! Out of their own will and in defiance of His word, did they retire into Egypt for shelter? For this very reason destruction fell not only on themselves, but on the broken reed in which they trusted.
So it is always. In righteous government our sin becomes ere long our chastening and the world's woe, and what our blindness built on as the rock turns out to be a quicksand, the sport of waves and winds in the swift-coming day of visitation.

Notes on Jeremiah 44

The path of unbelief is a rapid descent when the heart hardens itself against a direct warning of the Lord; and the greater the profession of piety before, the more profound the fall. To go down into Egypt for safety was not natural in those who had ever reluctantly bowed to Babylon, and dreaded the wrath of the Chaldean king because of the murder of the governor and the rest. But it was a fatal step when the prophet gave them the word of Jehovah, and they were assured of safety in the land subject to Nebuchadnezzar, of destruction in Egypt whither their impulse, yea determination, was to go prudentially for shelter. God loves to be the Savior of those who bear His name; if they desert Him for another, woe to them! It cannot but be to their shame, sorrow and ruin. Even when they have revolted to the uttermost, they are not left without a message, if peradventure any might yet hear and escape.
“The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein, because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers. Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day.” (Ver. 1-6.) Such was the wretched part of the chosen people and their king.
Had God pleasure in recounting their sins, and His judgments as well as warnings? Nay, it was His pity and desire that those in Egypt might at length hearken. “Therefore now thus saith the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain: In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers.” (Ver. 7-10.) Imminent peril bung over them; Egypt would be a vain shelter, but meanwhile it was too sure a decoy into idolatry.
Let it be noted here that the prophet lays stress on the wickedness of wives, and the place it had in precipitating the disasters of Israel before and now. Women are more ready to hear and feel, for good or ill, than men. The brighter side we see in the Acts of the Apostles, and also in the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament. The darker side appears here as elsewhere. It is a great grace from the Lord when they receive the truth and are saved; it is an awful sign of speedy judgment when they, renouncing the truth, are bold and shameless in their resolution to serve a false god. But we shall see more presently.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah. And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach. For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: so that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape.” (Ver. 11-14.) Alas! they had ears, but they heard not. The remnant was rotten to the core.
“Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” (Ver. 15-19.) Thus they gloried in their shame, regarding not the works of Jehovah nor the operation of His hands, to their own destruction. Their calamities they interpreted as the consequence of slighting the queen of heaven, for their will was thoroughly committed to a so-called religion, which consecrated mere depravity and passion.
Why did they not attribute their troubles, as was the truth, to the chastening hand of God? This is precisely what the prophet charges home with the simplicity and force of truth. “Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them, and came it not into his mind? So that the Lord could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day. Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.” (Ver. 20-23.)
Next the prophet solemnly lays before all of Judah in Egypt the inevitable end of their idolatry, as in former chapters of their unbelief and rebellious disobedience. “Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the Lord, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt: thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of the Lord, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the Lord, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord God liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them. Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine or theirs. And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the Lord, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give Pharaoh-hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life: as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.” (Ver. 24-30.) The sign should be the utter downfall of Pharaoh-hophra (Apries in Herodotus, and Uaphris in Manetho), who was then reigning, and historically known as a singularly self-confident monarch; and yet he was put down ignominiously by a revolt of his own subjects, who set up a rival king; and he finally, spite of intervening, kindness, gave him up to the Egyptians, who strangled him. Those who forgot the ruin of Zedekiah should soon see the arrogant reed of Egypt break before the blast which was not to spare their own guilt,

Notes on Jeremiah 45

(Chap. 45.)
No little speculation has been expended on this chapter and the reason why it is found here. Historically, it would follow chapter 36. It stands as a fact wholly apart from what precedes and follows. But I do not entertain a doubt that its divinely assigned place is where we find it in the Hebrew Bible, the order of which is of course adhered to in the authorized version.
It is plain that, as the preceding chapter 44 gives us the last direct account of the life of Jeremiah, chapter 45 furnishes the latest notice of his friend and scribe Baruch, though in point of fact the message here inserted was delivered some twenty years before the scene immediately before described in the land of Egypt.
But moral considerations enter also; and, as I think, of greater moment than any such motive for collocation. It is not merely at a season of danger from an incensed monarch that the mind of God conveyed by the prophet is of value; it may be increasingly needed when that pressure yields to a crowd of disasters, and a spurious calm succeeds blast after blast of evil. The question is, how Jehovah would have one who served Him to feel and act in a day of grief, and when His hand is still held out to execute summary judgment on the guilty people who dishonor His name entrusted to their keeping. This the prophet answers from God. May we have ears to hear what was said to Baruch!
“The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch; thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.” (Ver. 1-3.) It is evident that Baruch was not only troubled on every side, but straitened, his way hedged up as he thought, abandoned to distress without measure or end, and destruction staring him in the face. He was disheartened and weary; he could find no rest for his soul. This should never be for the believer. Not only the Christian now can never be thus without sin and unbelief at work; but even of old it ought not to have been. For, as Isaiah declares not only the everlasting God, Jehovah, faints not nor is weary, but He gives power to the faint and increases strength to those who have no might. Thus, while nature's vigor fails utterly in the hour of trial, they that wait on Jehovah but change their strength, mount up as eagles, run without being weary and walk without being faint. How much more should we not be “weary pilgrims,” though we may well wait in sorrow though surely with a joyful hope in the Spirit!
There is always in such cases an inner forgetfulness of the Lord, a lack of communion with His mind and ways, an allowance of desires which spring from self whatever be the plausible cover they may wear in our eyes or before others.
Did Baruch simply and thoroughly vindicate Jehovah's ways with Israel? Did he in his heart sanctify the Lord God who had broken to pieces the people that He loved? This I gravely doubt. Otherwise he had not been so overwhelmed, but would surely have looked to Him and found an answer of repose in his spirit for the tears which He puts in His bottle. But as with us, so with His afflicted servant of old: God knew every thought and intent of the heart; and this in pitifulness, yet fidelity withal. Hence the word that follows: “Thus shalt thou say unto him, The Lord saith thus: Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land. And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.” Verses 4, 5.
This instruction is of great price to us who are partakers of a heavenly calling in the present ruined state of Christendom. Not that it was ever allowed to the Christian to seek great things for self or even for the church. True discipleship is inseparable from the cross, as our hoped for portion in the glory of God depends on the crucified One. And Christianity only comes in when God had tried man and found him wanting in every time and way and place; in the end of the world, as it is said (or rather consummation of the ages) when the proof was complete and manifest that the creature, as far as his own responsibility was concerned, was in no less ruin and misery than dishonor to God; and, in principle therefore, it could be said, “now is the judgment of this world.” Thereon the wisdom of God gave those He separated to Himself by Christ Jesus in grace now, and for heavenly glory in hope, a place not of the world—while in it and passing through it, not of the world as Christ is not. This, however, it becomes us even more peremptorily to hold fast, now that the outward framework of the Christian profession must be added to the ruins of man and of Israel; and we cannot but testify according to the word of our Lord His speedy appearing to judge the world in righteousness. We, it is true, have a blessed hope and await His coming to receive us to Himself. Baruch had but his life guaranteed to him, come what might, and wherever he might go. Our place as Christians is association with Christ—the cross, and the glory. May we never forget it, nor seek aught inconsistent with Him in both! But if we be ever so right in other respects, we fail if we do not act and feel suitably to the ways of God in a day when He has pronounced on evil and is about to judge. Lowliness especially becomes him whom grace has separated from that which is offensive to God; pride and hardness and self-seeking, always evil, become such an one least of all, and especially at such a time.

Notes on Jeremiah 46

We now enter on a series of prophetic threatenings against various nations, beginning with Egypt and going through with the neighboring foes of the Jews, and ending with the utter destruction of Babylon; for the last chapter is an appendix, inspired but not Jeremiah's, though (I doubt not) rightly winding all up with the ruin of Zedekiah, and of the temple, and of the poor captives of Judah, among whom we see the royal son of David the pensioner of Evil-merodach king of Babylon. It is a complete picture of the then woes on the guilty people of Jehovah with judgment on their enemies. Israel had as yet wrought no deliverance in the earth. I do not doubt that the order of the Hebrew, followed by the Authorized Version and most others, is put in moral order by God, and that a mere chronological sequence would defeat this intention. Our business is not to arrange but believe.
Our chapter consists of two parts which refer to transactions severed by a considerable interval. The opening verse is general, “the word of Jehovah which came to Jeremiah against the Gentiles,” and seems to introduce chapters 46-51. Verses 2-12 comprise the first of the two denunciations of Egypt which fill the chapter; as verses 13-28 the second.
The first then runs, “Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaoh-necho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah. Order ye the buckler and shield and draw near to battle. Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines.” (Ver. 2-4.) It was the same energetic king whom Josiah attacked at Megiddo on his route to Carchemish but to his own ruin, not at all by any design of the Egyptian monarch who in vain begged the king of Judah to leave him alone. He subsequently deposed Jehoahaz and set up Eliakim as king, changing his name to Jehoiakim. But reverse was at hand. His army at Carchemish was utterly routed by Nebuchadnezzar, and the consequence was not merely the loss of all Asiatic possessions, but the shutting up of the king within his own land henceforth. “Wherefore have I seen them dismayed and turned away back? and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back: for fear was round about, saith Jehovah. Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; they shall stumble, and fall toward the north by the river Euphrates. Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers? Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof. Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield; and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow. For this is the day of Jehovah God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries; and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Jehovah of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates. Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured. The nations have heard of thy shame, and thy cry hath filled the land: for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, and they are fallen both together.” (Ver. 5-12.)
The rest of the chapter is another word of Jehovah and relates to Pharaoh-hophra (the Apries of Herodotus and Iraphris of Manetho), who was attacked by Nebuchadnezzar in his own dominions, as we saw in chapter 44. “The word that the Lord spake to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt. Declare ye in Egypt, and publish in Migdol, and publish in Noph and in Tahpanhes: say ye, Stand fast and prepare thee; for the sword shall devour round about thee. Why are thy valiant men swept away? they stood not, because the Lord did drive them. He made many to fall, yea, one fell upon another: and they said, Arise, and let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity, from the oppressing sword. They did cry there, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise; he hath passed the time appointed. As I live, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts, Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.” (Ver. 13-18.) Nothing can be conceived more life-like. As proud as he was prosperous, he trusted chiefly to mercenaries. This is noticeable in the prophecy, verse 16; and it is repeated in verse 21. It is known indeed that his own subjects revolted, fought and defeated his foreign supports, as they also in the end put him to death. But whatever the disasters on Egypt inflicted by the king of Babylon or his servants, “Afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith Jehovah.” (Ver. 26.)
The chapter ends with consolation to the chosen people who might have dreaded now at least utter extinction for their folly and self-will. “But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid. Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.” (Ver. 26, 27.) The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Notes on Jeremiah 47

Jehovah was now judging: who could escape? Certainly not the Philistines. They were very far from the importance of Egypt; but it was the judgment of the nations under God's hand, and their diminished might since the days of Saul, or their insignificance compared with a power which aspired (though in vain) to the sovereignty of the world, could furnish no protection.
“The word of Jehovah that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza. Thus saith Jehovah; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl.” (Ver. 1, 2.) The king of the south might smite Gaza; but there were graver perils impending from a wholly different quarter, and this too announced before the blow struck by the king of Egypt. Under the well-known figure of rising waters and an overflowing flood, which Isaiah makes so familiar to his reader, was set forth the overwhelming scourge, and this from “the north,” by which God was going to visit the neighbors of Israel on their south-western frontier. Utter devastation should come through their Chaldean invaders. Country and town should alike feel, men and all howl for anguish.
“At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistine; and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for Jehovah will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor. Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?” (Ver. 3-5.) Thus does the Spirit energetically set forth the might of the assailants bearing down all before them, and the helpless agony of the once proud lords who formerly tyrannized over Israel, when they should look in vain for succor to Tire and Zidon, and superstitious humiliation before their gods be as useless as the help of their old allies, themselves wasted and cut off. In truth, as the prophet tells them, it was Jehovah who would spoil the Philistine; whatever instrumentality He might be pleased to employ; and even this, to make all the more evidently of Himself, is not obscurely intimated.
Hence the bold appeal of the closing verses: “O thou sword of Jehovah, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. How can it be quiet, seeing Jehovah hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it.” (Ver. 6, 7.) It is a tremendous thought that Jehovah's sword should have no rest; but so it was. Little did Nebuchadnezzar think that Jehovah arranged the campaign of that bitter and hasty nation whose judgment and dignity proceeded of themselves. Little did Ashkelon on the sea shore see in those swift and fiery horsemen a charge appointed of Jehovah against them.

Notes on Jeremiah 48

“Against [or “concerning,” for it is not exclusively a prediction of calamity] Moab thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel.” The judgments of God were abroad; and should Moab be unpunished? Confidence in political wisdom is not the characteristic as with Egypt; but pride may be shown in other ways, and in all is most offensive to God: in what land or people was it more conspicuous than in Moab?
“Woe unto Nebo! for it is spoiled.: Kiriathaim is confounded and taken: Misgab is confounded and dismayed. There shall be no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it: come, and let us cut it off from being a nation. Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue thee. A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim, spoiling and great destruction. Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard. For in the going up of Luhith continual weeping shall go up; for in the going down of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.” (Ver. 1-5.) The language, especially in what follows, so echoes that of Isaiah that one can hardly resist the inference that the same judgment is before the eyes of the revealing Spirit. Only we must bear in mind that the earlier prophet appends to “the burden of Moab,” in the last verse of chapter 16, an approaching blow “within three years,” which would be an earnest of still deeper humiliation in store when Nebuchadnezzar would bring them to the dust. To this latter Jeremiah confines himself save so far as room may be left for both judgment and mercy in the then far distant future—the yet future day of Jehovah.
In verses 6-9 the prophet addresses his solemn counsel: “Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness. For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together. And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape; the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as Jehovah hath spoken. Give wings unto Moab, that it may flee and get away: for the cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein.” They had flesh for their arm and trusted in man, departing in heart from Jehovah. But wings do not suffice to flee away, when Jehovah directs the blow, denouncing him that does His work with negligence. “Cursed be he that doeth the work of Jehovah deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood. Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.
And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Beth-el their confidence. How say ye, We are mighty and strong men for the war? Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is Jehovah of hosts. The calamity of Moab is near to come, and his affliction hasteneth fast. All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!” (Ver. 10-17.)
Then calls follow to the daughter that inhabits Dibon to come down, and to the inhabitress of Aroer to stand and espy. (Ver. 18, 19.) The truth is, the time of ruin was surely come: Moab was confounded, and spoiled, and judgment come on the plain and on all the cities of the land far or near. (Ver. 20-24.) “The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith Jehovah. Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against Jehovah: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision. For was not Israel a derision unto thee? was he found among thieves? for since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy. O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth. We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and pride, and the haughtiness of his heart. I know his wrath, saith Jehovah; but it shall not be so; his lies shall not so effect it.” (Ver. 25-30.)
The prophet then adopts Isaiah's words, as also his howling for its fallen pride. “Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kir-heres. O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer: thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage. And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting. From the cry of Heshbon even unto Elealeh, and even unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar even unto Horonaim, as an heifer of three years old: for the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate. Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, saith Jehovah, him that offereth in the high places, and him that burneth incense to his gods. Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab, like pipes, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kir-heres; because the riches that he hath gotten are perished.” (Ver. 81-86.) But the picture is much amplified here: “For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth. There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith Jehovah. They shall saying, How is it broken down! how hath Moab turned the back with shame! so shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him.” (Ver. 37-39.)
In verses 40-46 is given a vigorous sketch of their enemy's resistless course of victory, and of Moab's presage of helpless ruin, under Jehovah's resolve against those who magnified themselves against Him. “For thus saith Jehovah; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab. Kerioth is taken and the strongholds are surprised, and the mighty men's hearts in Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs. And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against Jehovah. Fear and the pit, and the snare, shall be upon thee, O inhabitant of Moab, saith Jehovah. He that fleeth from the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that getteth up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for I will bring upon it, even upon Moab, the year of their visitation saith Jehovah. They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force: but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones. Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughters captives.”
Yet the last verse (47) which pronounces this awful course of judgment on Moab declares that Jehovah will bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days. Has He spoken and will He not perform? Nothing is more sure.

Notes on Jeremiah 49

The judgment of Moab is followed by that of Ammon, kindred alike in their source, their conduct to Israel and Jehovah, as well as in the end His mercy would assign them.
“Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith Jehovah; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities? Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the Lord. Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is spoiled: cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, gird you with sackcloth; lament, and run to and fro by the hedges; for their king shall go into captivity, and his priests and his princes together. Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me? Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith Jehovah God of hosts, from all those that be about thee; and ye shall be driven out every man right forth; and none shall gather up him that wandered). And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith Jehovah.” (Ver. 1-6.) Jehovah demands what right they had to the land of Gad. For this was one of their sins as we see in Amos, a violent raid on Gilead and a possession of the land and cities for a season. But they are here shown that, secure as they thought themselves, their own capital should know the alarm of war, and their daughters share its destruction, when Israel shall be heir to those that were his heirs. It is a poor interpretation which finds in the Church the accomplishment of such prophecies; but this is owing to ignorance on the part of many that God is going to bring Christ in His kingdom to inherit the earth and all nations at His coming; as distinct from the gospel now as from the eternal state which follows the judgment of the great white throne. That desolation befell Moab, Ammon, with the rest, in the day of Nebuchadnezzar, through linking their fortunes with Egypt, the great southern rival of the Chaldean, is, I suppose, the fact. Possibly the howling and lamentation and panic, the more piteous because of previous self-complacency and boast, described in verses 3-5, may also precede the return of their captivity in the last days. (Ver. 6.)
With Edom (ver. 7-22), Damascus (ver. 23-27), and Hazor (28-33), there is a different future in the sovereign wisdom of God. They are to be destroyed without remedy, though not all, it would seem, for the same reason, though all assuredly in perfect justice. Let us follow the prophet: —
“Concerning Edom, thus saith Jehovah of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished? Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him. If grape-gatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough. But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself: his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbors, and he is not. Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me. For thus saith Jehovah; Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and art thou be that shall altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it. For I have sworn by myself, saith Jehovah, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes. I have heard a rumor from Jehovah, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle. For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men. Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith Jehovah. Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof. As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighbor cities thereof, saith the Lord, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it. Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me? therefore hear the counsel of Jehovah, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them. The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red Sea. Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings over Bozrah and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.” (Ver. 7-22.)
Thus wisdom would not avail the proud relentless enemy of Israel who ought to have been a friend and should have enjoyed the honor God was pleased to put on his kinsman. Esau's calamity should be theirs in the day of divine visitation. The stripping of a vine by grape-gatherers would be light compared with what awaits Esau's race: for if Israel drank of that cup of woe, could they go unpunished? Impossible. No clefts should hide, no heights avail. Edom should be made small, yea a waste like the cities of the plain. One should come like a lion to give effect to Jehovah's purposes which should be so complete that even the least one should suffice against their once haughty strength. Whatever might be God's remembrance of kin in Moab or Ammon, in Edom it tells in an opposite way; for it made their implacable hatred of Israel unbearable and only closed in their own perdition.
Damascus and Hazor follow. “Concerning Damascus: Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet. Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail. How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy! therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith Jehovah of hosts. And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-hadad. Concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith Jehovah: Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east. Their tents and their flocks shall they take away: they shall take to themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels; and they shall cry unto them, Fear is on every side. Flee, get you far off, dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Razor, saith Jehovah; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you and hath conceived a purpose against you. Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care, saith Jehovah, which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone. And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil: and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith Jehovah. And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation forever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it.” (Ver. 23-33.) Here too destruction falls: no restoration is foretold; but there is no such solemn knell of judgment as in Edom's case. They justly deserved what God did by the Chaldean, as they will whatever God may do by and by; but as they had no special tie, so they will meet with no special. judgment, any more than exemption or restoration in the last days.
But the chapter closes with another. “The word of Jehovah that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might. And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith Jehovah; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them: and I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith Jehovah. But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith Jehovah.” (Ver. 31-39.) Here mercy rejoices at length against judgment. The portion of Elam did not interfere, like Philistia, Damascus or Razor, with the due development reserved for Israel in the latter day; and God will show His goodness in behalf of Elam when the kingdom comes. To refer its fulfillment to Acts 2:9, as Calvin and others do, is only to show how little such men enter into either the old or the new.

Notes on Jeremiah 50

The last of the heathen objects of judgment is now brought before us. They had been judged chiefly by Babylon whose turn is come. It is the greatest, the earliest, and most characteristic of the world's empires, Babylon of the Chaldees.
“The word that Jehovah spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet. Declare ye among the nations, and publish and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces. For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.” (Ver. 1-3.) Its doom is come under the Medes, led on by Cyrus the Persian. The consequence of deepest interest to God is, that the fall of Babylon opens the door for the return of His people from captivity. It is the type of a final deliverance, when a greater than Cyrus shall be there to the utter destruction of the last holder of the last empire. Compare Dan. 2; 7.
Hence says the prophet immediately after, “In those days, and in that time, saith Jehovah, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go and seek Jehovah their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come and let us join ourselves to Jehovah in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to bill, they have forgotten their resting place. All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against Jehovah, the habitation of justice, even Jehovah, the hope of their fathers.” (Ver. 4-7.) It seems clear that, whatever the application to the past, these words cannot be satisfactorily explained without awaiting a yet larger and closer fulfillment in the last days, when the sons of both Israel and Judah shall take the place of penitence and shall return from their long and distant wanderings to Zion under the everlasting covenant and their Messiah. As Jehovah bore witness of their rain, so they will confess their sins themselves, instead of leaving it to their enemies to make their evil an excuse for their own hatred and plunder.
Then from verse 8 the prophet calls to remove from the city devoted to so decisive a judgment. “Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks. For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain. And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith Jehovah.” (Ver. 8-10.)
From verse 11 there is a reproachful rebuke to the destroyers of Israel and their land. “Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls: your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land and a desert. Because of the wrath of Jehovah it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.” (Ver. 11-13.)
Next, all warriors are summoned against this queen of the nations. “Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against Jehovah. Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of Jehovah: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her. Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land. Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied on mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, and in that time, saith Jehovah, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” (Ver. 14-20.) The heart of the prophet, like Jehovah Himself, ever turns from the judgment of the great foe to poor guilty Israel; nor is it pity only that is pledged but restoration so truly divine that the end will far surpass all beginnings. It is moral too, not national only. The heart is to be set right with God, as surely as they are destined to refreshment and repose in their land.
Again, from verse 21 there is a renewal of the call to go up against the imperial city, described as doubly rebellious and the object of visitation. “Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith Jehovah, and do according to all that I have commanded thee. A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction. How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against Jehovah. Jehovah hath opened his armory, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of Jehovah God of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans. Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left. Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation. The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of Jehovah our God, the vengeance of his temple. Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against Jehovah, against the Holy One of Israel. Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith Jehovah. Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith Jehovah God of Hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee. And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.” (Ver. 21-32.) Here Jehovah intimates the special ground for unsparing vengeance on Babylon for desecration of His temple, and pride against Himself, the Holy One of Israel.
Again also the prophet resumes the note of relief to Israel from the trouble of Babylon. If Assyria and her haughty rival vied in contemptuous oppression of Israel, Jehovah would plead the cause of His people thoroughly. “Thus saith Jehovah of hosts; the children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast: they refused to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; Jehovah of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon. A sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith Jehovah, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men. A sword is upon the liars; and they shall dote: a sword is upon her mighty men; and they shall be dismayed. A sword is upon their horses, and upon their chariots, and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her; and they shall become as women: a sword is upon her treasures; and they shall be robbed. A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols. Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited forever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, saith Jehovah; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. Behold a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not show mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon. The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble: anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail. Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me Therefore hear ye the counsel of Jehovah, that he hath taken against Babylon; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them. At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations.” (Ver. 33-46.) The allusion to the manner of Babylon's fall in the beginning of verse 38 is as plain as Isaiah's in chapter 44:27; yet each preserves his own characteristic style though both refer to the same remarkable fact which was yet to be accomplished. The picture of the king's anguish, in verse 43, may be compared with the description in Isa. 21, and with the history in Dan. 5.

Notes on Jeremiah 51

There is a renewal of the divine warning against Babylon. Nothing seemed less likely than the fall of the haughty city which had for the first time succeeded in achieving a world-wide supremacy, where the civilization of that age prevailed. It was well therefore to express in the clearest manner and repeated by a reverse of which men could have had no previous experience, and this as a sign that Jehovah had not widowed His people, spite of their sin and its punishment in their land.
“Thus saith Jehovah; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind; and will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about. Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow, and against him that lifteth himself up in his brigandine: and spare ye not her young men; destroy ye utterly all her host. Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets. For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of His God, of Jehovah of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.” (Ver. 1-5.) The reference is to the Medo-Persian conqueror, who should make a clear riddance of all that man valued in Babylon and among the Chaldeans.
Some read ìà not as the preposition ìÈà but as the negative ìÇà. The difference in the sense resulting from the latter would be that the verse would begin with a call to the defender of Babylon not to bend his bow, nor to be proud of his coat of mail; while the same verse would close, as admitted on all sides, with a charge to the followers of Cyrus to spare not their enemies.
Then verse 6 calls on the Jews to hasten their escape from the guilty and doomed city, once used of Jehovah in vengeance on others (ver. 7), now the object of His vengeance herself (ver. 8), so that her allies, though challenged, own her hopeless ruin. (Ver. 9.)
“Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of Jehovah's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. Babylon hath been a golden cup in Jehovah's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations haveLdrunken1 of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. Jehovah hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of Jehovah our God.” (Ver. 6-10.) Babylon's fall is the justification of Judah, who thence turns in heart to Zion, that they might there publish the work of Jehovah their God.
Babylon had need of all its military appliances now; for Jehovah had roused the spirit of her northern foes against her, and resolved to destroy her. Hence the prophet says, “Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: Jehovah hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of Jehovah, the vengeance of his temple. Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for Jehovah hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness. Jehovah of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillars; and they shall lift up a shout against thee.” (Ver. 11-14.)
This is followed by a noble testimony to God, in contrast with idols and their votaries, in verses 15-19. “He hath made the earth by His power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are vanity, the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: Jehovah of hosts is his name.” This differs from chapter 10:12-16, only in the omission of Israel in the last verse. It is evidently understood, if we regard its insertion as a correction of some of the copies.
Then the Spirit of prophecy addresses Babylon in a minutely graphic enumeration of the ways in which she had been employed of God before her fall. “Thou [not “art” but] wast my battle ax, weapons of war: with thee I have broken nations in pieces; and with thee I have destroyed kingdoms. And with thee I have broken in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee I have broken in pieces the chariot and its rider; and with thee I have broken in pieces the husband and the wife; and with thee I have broken in pieces the aged and the young; and with thee I have broken in pieces the youth and the maid. And with thee I have broken in pieces the shepherd and his flock; and with thee I have broken in pieces the plowman and his team; and with thee I have broken in pieces the governors and prefects. And I have rendered unto Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea all the evil which they have done in Zion in your sight, saith Jehovah.” But this did not hinder His vengeance now. “Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith Jehovah, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate forever, saith Jehovah.” (Ver. 25, 26.) The Medes would be joined by the nations in Asia Minor or the neighborhood. “Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars. Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion.” (Ver. 27, 28.) Jehovah's purpose was fixed and sure. Babylon must be reduced to a desolation without an inhabitant. The circumstances of its fall next portrayed confirms this. “And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of Jehovah shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant. The mighty men of Babylon have forborne to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken. One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end, and that the passages are stopped, and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are affrighted. For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come.” (Ver. 29-33.)
In verses 34, 35, is given the plaint of Jerusalem. “Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out. The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say.” (Ver. 34, 35.)
This the answer of Jehovah follows at length in verses 36-44. “Therefore thus saith Jehovah; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. They shall roar together like lions; they shall yell as lions' whelps. In their beat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith Jehovah. I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with he-goats. How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations! The sea is come up upon Babylon she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof. Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby. And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.” The prophet thereon exhorts the people to leave a city, which, far from sheltering any, could only expose to its own destruction. “My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of Jehovah. And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumor that shall be heard in the land; a rumor shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumor, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler.” (Ver. 45, 46.)
Jehovah again takes up the word of judgment for her idols in verses 47-58. “Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for Babylon: for the spoilers shall come unto her from the north, saith Jehovah. As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth. Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still, remember Jehovah afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind. We are confounded, because we have heard reproach: shame hath covered our faces: for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of Jehovah's house. Wherefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will do judgment upon her graven images: and through all her land the wounded shall groan. Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from me shall spoilers come unto her, saith Jehovah. A sound of a cry cometh from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans: because Jehovah hath spoiled Babylon, and destroyed out of her the great voice; when her waves do roar like great waters, a noise of their voice is uttered: because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for Jehovah God of recompenses shall surely requite. And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is Jehovah of hosts. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labor in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.”
The closing verses (59-64) constitute a kind of seal on the charge laid by Jeremiah on Seraiah, who, after coming to Babylon, was to read this book, and cast it with a stone attached to it into the Euphrates in token of the sure and total fall of Babylon.

Notes on Jeremiah 52

The last chapter appears to be an inspired appendix to the prophecy of Jeremiah rather than his own composition. It is substantially similar to the last chapter of 2 Kings, but with some remarkable points of difference in dates and numbers, owing, I presume, to a difference in the way of looking at the facts.
The chapter opens with Zedekiah's reign in Jerusalem for eleven years, evil in Jehovah's eyes according to that of Jehoiakim. There was this especially which provoked the anger of Jehovah, that he rebelled against the king of Babylon, to whom, on the apostasy of Judah, the empire of the world had been given. It was the bounden duty of the faithful to bow to God's sovereignty in this, and the more because it was the idolatrous sin of the people of Judah and the king of David's house, which was the final occasion of this solemn change in the government of the world.
Zedekiah ought to have been a pattern of subjection therefore, in owning the just judgment of God. It was their evil preeminently which had not only hindered the blessing of all nations of the earth as independent powers; but had precipitated not themselves only, but all others with them, under the empire of the golden head, the king of Babylon. And now Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon, which was really against the sentence of Jehovah, who was thus, as it were, morally compelled to cast out the Jews from His presence. (Ver. 1-3.)
“And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about. So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And in the fourth mouth, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about); and they went by the way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah: and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.” (Ver. 4-11.) Thus far the account minutely agrees, dates and all, with 2 Kings 25:1—7, save that Jer. 52 is somewhat more detailed, and attributes to the king of Babylon personally what the history gives to his servants under his orders.
Verse 12 furnishes an instance of the first striking discrepancy in appearance with 2 Kings 25, verse 8 of which seems at first sight to fix the entrance of Nebuzar-adan to the seventh day of the fifth month, whereas in the prophecy it is connected with the tenth. But there is a real difference in the original statement which the Authorized Version appears to have represented by “unto Jerusalem” in 2 Kings, and “into Jerusalem” in Jeremiah; and this is substantially correct. The truth is that there is no preposition whatever in the former, and therefore the natural rendering would be that the servant of the king of Babylon had only come to Jerusalem on the seventh day, not that he had actually entered then. On the other hand, in the prophecy, we are told that he was in Jerusalem on the tenth day of the month; and this is distinctly expressed by the particle.
Nebuzar-adan then “burned the house of Jehovah, and the king's house: and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: and all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about. Then Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people, and the residue of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude. But Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard left certain of the poor of the land for vinedressers and for husbandmen. Also the pillars of brass that were in the house of Jehovah, and the bases, and the brazen sea that was in the house of Jehovah, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon. The caldrons also, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the bowls, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass, wherewith they ministered, took they away. And the bacons, and the firepans, and the bowls, and the caldrons, and the candlesticks, and the spoons, and the cups; that which was of gold in gold, and that which was of silver in silver, took the captain of the guard away, The two pillars, one sea, and twelve brazen bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had made in the house of Jehovah: the brass of all these vessels was without weight. And concerning the pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits; and a fillet of twelve cubits did compass it; and the thickness thereof was four fingers: it was hollow. And a chapiter of brass was upon it; and the height of one chapiter was five cubits, with network and pomegranates upon the chapiters round about, all of brass. The second pillar also and the pomegranates were like unto these. And there were ninety and six pomegranates on a side; and all the pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about.” (Ver. 13-23.)
It is remarkable that among the prisoners who are specified in verse 25, we have seven men here who answer to five men in 2 Kings 25:19. I presume that two more were added of which this inspired account takes notice in addition to the more general description given in the history. We have already remarked its greater precision. There were five, but this does not hinder the addition of two more in a notice of greater detail. “So Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah. And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land.” (Ver. 26, 27.)
In verses 28-30 we have an account of three minor deportations to Babylon in the seventh, eighteenth, and twenty third years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, amounting in all to four thousand and six hundred. But 2 Kings 24:12, 16 speaks of another carrying away of Jews, as Dan. 1 tells us of those that were carried away in the first year of his reign, which was a more considerable affair.
The last incident of the chapter is the compassion which Evil-merodach the king of Babylon extended to Jehoiachin in the seven and thirtieth year of his captivity. Not only did he bring the captive king of Judah out of prison with kind words, but set his throne above the subject monarchs that were there, and gave him to eat bread before himself continually for the rest of his life. Thus, if after solemn warnings of the prophets, one king of Judah was now proving the truth in his own misery, God was showing in Jehoiachin's case that He has the hearts of all men under His control, and that long years of languishing may be changed at His will to a peaceful end of life, though not a prosperous one, according to His word. (Chap. 22:30.) But this does not hinder His pitifulness and tender mercy.

Thoughts on John 1:1-13

There is one remark that furnishes a most important key to the Gospel of John, which is illustrated very simply and manifestly in this first chapter. The object of the Holy Ghost is to assert the personal glory of Jesus; and hence it is that there is not perhaps a single chapter in the New Testament that presents our Lord in so many different aspects, yet all personal, as this opening chapter of his Gospel. His divine glory is carefully guarded. He is said in the most distinct language to be God as to His nature, but withal a man. He is God no less than the Father is, or the Holy Ghost; but He is the Word in a way in which the Father and the Holy Ghost were not. It was Jesus Christ the Son of God who alone was the Word of God; He only after a personal sort expressed God. The Father and the Holy Ghost remained in their own unseeable majesty. The Word had for His place to express God clearly; and this belonged to Him, it is evident, as a distinctive personal glory. It was not merely that He was the Word when He came into the world, but “in the beginning was the Word” when there was no creature. Before anything came into being that was made, the Word was in the beginning with God, not merely in God, as if merged or lost in God, but He had a distinct personal subsistence before a creature existed. He was in the beginning with God. This is of immense importance, and with these truths our Gospel opens.
Then we find His creation glory stated afterward. “All things were made by him.” There is nothing which more stamps God to be God than giving existence to that which had none, causing to exist by His own will and power. Now all things exist by the Word: and so emphatically true is this that the Spirit has added, “and without him was not anything made that was made.”
But there was that which belonged to the Lord Jesus that was not made: “In him was life.” It was not only that He could cause a life to exist that had not before existed, but there was a life that belonged to Him from all eternity. “In him was life.” Not that this life began to be: all else, all creation, began to be; and it was He that gave them the commencement of their existence.
But in Him was life, a life that was not created, a life that was therefore divine in its nature. It was the reality and the manifestation of this life which were of prime importance to man. Everything else that had been since the beginning of the world was only a creature; but in Him was life. Man was destined to have the display of this life on earth. But it was in Him before He came among men. The life was not called the light of angels but of men. Nowhere do we find that eternal life is created. The angels are never said to have life in the Son of God. They were kept by divine power, and holy. Theirs is a purely creature life, whereas it is a wonderful fact of revelation that we who believe have the eternal life that was in Jesus Christ the Son of God, and are therefore said to be partakers of the divine nature. This is in no way true of an angel. It is not that we for a moment cease to be creatures, but we have what is above the creature in Christ the Son of God.
And this “light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” It is striking to remark here the entire passing over of all the history of the world of which we are apt to make so much, yea, even of the dispensational dealings of God with men. All is passed by very briefly indeed—those ages that man thinks all but interminable, in which God gave being to the creature and in which He may have changed over and over again the various forms of the creature, where science is endeavoring to pursue its uncertain and weary way. All this is closed up in the few words, “All things were made by him.” Scripture, and this chapter in particular, summarizes it with striking brevity. “All things were made by him.” The details of it were left completely aside. What was good for us to know we are told in Gen. 1. There is nothing like that chapter even in cosmogonies which borrowed from it. And all that man has thought, or said, or written about a system of the world is not to be named with it for depth or certainty, as well as for simplicity in the smallest compass.
But there is a reason why all such matters vanish after two or three words. It is because the Lord Jesus, the Word of God, is the object that the Holy Ghost is dwelling on. The moment that He is brought out creation just pays Him homage, owning Him to be the Creator, and is then forthwith dismissed. “All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.” It is enough to say that He created all. He remains in His own grace. Now we learn what is the Spirit's object in this. It was not to give us details of the creation; it was to acquaint us with Jesus as the light of men.
In what condition then did He find men? Were there not great differences among them, as was thought? There were some, most indeed, idolaters, yet wise and prudent, worshipping stocks and stones; and others who were not idolaters but very zealous for the law as given by Moses. Not that a word is said yet about the law, nor about any differences, but that the Word of God was the light that manifested everybody: whether Jews or Gentiles, they were only darkness. It is not therefore only that the physical creation is passed by most curtly, but the moral world is closed with almost equal brevity. “The light shineth in darkness,” and whatever the boasting of the Gentiles, and the law of the Jews, which was real as compared with the Gentiles, here all is measured and put out, as it were, by the true light, the Word of God. Jew or Gentile, they are but darkness and the light shineth in darkness, and, spite of all its pretension and pride, the darkness comprehended it not. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” When the Holy Ghost is come down, things are also tested and convicted by Him; and He is brought forward by Paul somewhat as John here introduces the Son of God. It shows how poor all of man is in comparison with God, and how little he is capable of appreciating the truth in the Son or by the Spirit.
Then we find John brought in. The reason why he is singled out from all others I believe to be this: be was the immediate forerunner of the Lord Jesus. He would surely have been named here if it were not because he was the moon that derived its light from the sun—from the Lord Jesus just about to come. His was only a derivative light, and he seems brought in here because of that peculiarity. Other prophets were too distant from Christ, but John was near enough to be an immediate precursor of the Messiah. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe.” It is no question of law-testing or proving. All this was very important in its place; but the glory that the law had is completely eclipsed by a brighter glory. Scripture therefore takes pains to say, John “was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.” He might be a burning and a shining lamp (as it ought to be in chapter 5.), but he was only an earthly and derived light. “He was not that light.” “That was the true light;” Jesus is the light, the true light, which (as rightly rendered) on coming into the world lighteth every man. It is speaking of the effect of Christ's coming into the world. It is not every man that cometh into the world; but that, when He comes into the world, He is the One that casts His light on every one here below. There had been a time when, as it is said in the Acts, God winked at the ignorance of men; but now everything must appear in its own light, or rather darkness, because the true light was come; and therefore when He comes into the world He lights every man there: all are brought out just as they are and none can escape. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him,” and the awful result of this darkness was that “the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” The world was guilty enough, it was so dark that it did not even know Him; the Jews had abundance of truth by which they might know Him, but their will was still more set against the Son of God than even the poor Gentiles. “His own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power [title or right] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: high were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” What a blessed place! and blessed to know that this is our place to which grace has entitled us now in His name! May we seek to make Him known to every creature with all our hearts in the measure of power the Lord has given us, and honoring thus, and in every other way, the Lord Jesus, whom the Holy Ghost loves to honor!
We have other glories of His brought out afterward. We hear of Him as the Son, the Lamb of God, the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, the King of Israel, and the Son of Man. All these are successively unfolded to us in this chapter. Indeed it would be difficult to say what glory of our Lord is not presented here except that of Priest, and of Head of the Church. John never gives us the priesthood of Jesus. He touches what is close upon it, when he speaks in his epistles of advocacy with the Father; but the business of John was to show His divine personal glory, yet man upon earth. Priest was what He was called to in heaven; and as Head of the Church He is there also. But John shows us what He was in Himself as coming from heaven, and that He does not lose one whit of His glory by becoming a man. In His being Priest and Head of the Church we see special glories which He received on going up to heaven, and these Paul develops fully. John's point is God and the Father manifested on earth in the person of Jesus Christ His Son.

Thoughts on John 15

There is no place where the selfishness of our nature oftener betrays itself than in the way we look at scripture. We do not ourselves always know how our thoughts of the word of God tell the tale of our state in the sight of God. I do not speak merely of such extreme cases as that of the avowed unbeliever—though he too shows what his condition is—as being not merely bad but unable to appreciate what is good—not only not obedient in heart, but rejecting and rebelling against the only light whereby God Himself brings a man out of darkness to the knowledge of Himself. It is plain therefore that, rejecting the word, he as good as says to God that he desires not the knowledge of His ways. But then the children of God themselves let us see what their state of mind is not only by their want of relish for the word, or their want of appetite for every means that will give their souls an increasing enjoyment of the Lord, but, further, by the way in which they take it up, by their understanding, or rather misunderstanding, of it. For this is the secret of true intelligence: people do not understand the word by brighter minds than others, but by a more obedient heart. It is the single-eyed desire to do the will of God which insures intelligence of His word. And the Spirit of God it is that produces both the one and the other. Assuredly the will it is that darkens the understanding; and, where the Spirit of God gives the soul to please the Lord, there the obstruction in the way of His word disappears. When by grace we want to do His will, the light of God is assuredly not withheld: it is the will when not judged which produces darkness for us.
In no instance perhaps do we find this more frequently than in the way in which this chapter is taken. When men are not thoroughly happy in the Lord, they use the vine as a means of assurance to their souls; for comforting them with the thought that they are in Christ, and that they will be kept by Him. They take the vine as the Lord viewed as a Savior. But this is not the meaning of the chapter; for the vine is not introduced to show His sustaining grace in carrying us through, but the responsibility of all who bear the name of Christ, the true vine, and the means of producing fruit unto God. Consequently it is not a question of abiding in Christ simply for security nor of the grace that keeps up the feeble. Where this is required, the Lord presents Himself as a rock, and no matter how feeble one may be, if one rests on the foundation, the feeblest thing cannot be moved. There is indefeasible security for us in Christ. So again, if He tells us that we have eternal life, He shows us that we are in His hand and in the Father's hand. It is evident therefore that none will be able to pluck us out of their hand.
But when we reach the figure of the vine, it is another truth. It is to show the absolute necessity of fruit being borne for God; and consequently the Spirit of God tells us here what the hindrances, at least what the ways of God with us, are. Now the first and grand point of all is that Christ Himself is the spring of all that contributes to any fruit-bearing. It is not good desires only, nor the word of God, and it is not at all our being saved, though all these are precious and blessed and important in their place. Nay, it is not even prayer, nor is it the various means that God gives for sustaining our souls and cheering us on; but the one secret of fruit-bearing is having Christ before our souls and continually reminding ourselves that we belong to Him as branches to the vine—not merely as the hymn has it, “For as the branches to the vine so would we cling to Thee.” The sense is not at all here one of security, though this be of course most true; but what we find here is the serious thought of responsibility to God.
The Jews regarded themselves as the only people in the world that God looked upon. Consequently their tendency was always to put inordinate value on the fact of being Jews. It was very important that the Gentiles should own the place of the Jews, but it only puffed up the souls of the Jews themselves to be occupied with it. It was all right for the Gentiles to feel how precious the Jews were to God, but there is no strength in the Jew continually boasting of his peculiar privileges. We want more than that if we are to bear fruit, and this is what Christ substitutes for it—Himself—to have Him as the One that we are inseparably a part of, wherever we may be or whatever our duty. Supposing I am in a family who put me to great trial, if I look at either the family or the trial, I may give way to a murmuring spirit; but let me remember, in the midst of that family, or in my business or anything else, the secret that produces fruit is that I look up to God, remembering that I am a part of Christ in this sense—a branch of the only true vine. It is full of solemnity withal, and checks the spirit of finding fault. Does not Christ know all about the family, the business, the bodily health, the threats or malice of others, the sorrow, all the things that try me day by day? What has He put me here for? To bear fruit. Of what kind? The fruit that suits the vine, even our Lord Himself. You are in Christ as branches in a vine.
It is not a question of being members of His body to be cared for by Christ, but of being branches of the vine to bear fruit for God. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.” There are times when the Lord so does, as He has ever done. There are times when the work is done, or the Lord sees fit for any reason to take away, whether there has been all the fruit that He looks for, or whether they are not bearing fruit. “And every branch in me that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” We see that every one who is bearing fruit is tried, has sorrows, difficulties, and a great deal to break the spirit. We need it. It is all a mistake to suppose that, because a branch bears fruit, He does not purge; whereas that which does bear good fruit He deals with and disciplines, that it may bear more. And what a comfort for us to know that it is all for His glory! It is only a little cup of sorrow by the way, but the fruit is everlasting. Is that very hard to bear—discipline in this world, that the fruit may last forever?
Now He addresses the disciples and tells them that they were already clean through the word that He had spoken unto them. He does not say, Through the blood that I am going to shed. This was not a fact yet; but the word connects itself with our responsibility, the blood with His grace. The chapter is full of our responsibility, and it is the word of God that deals with our shortcoming and makes us feel what the will of God is.
But there are two kinds of cleansing true of every Christian. There is the word, by which a man is first converted to God, when he gets a new nature that hates sin, and by the same word he is afterward cleansed practically. It is the purifying of every day. Besides, the believer is (as all know) washed by blood, the precious blood of Christ, that he may be clear from all question of guilt. The former is connected with our responsibility to bear fruit for God. We must be cleansed first, but already it was true that they were born of God, and now the urgent call was to bear fruit. It is not here connected with the fact that their sins were forgiven. This might be true; but there was more than this true. The believer receives a new and holy nature, and it is in virtue of this that he is called upon, by having Christ before him and the continual remembrance that he is a member of Christ in this world, to bear fruit for God. For we can only act for the Lord by acting from the Lord; and we cannot act from the Lord except we are abiding in Him, which means the habit of continually looking and referring to Him, of dependence upon Him. Therefore He says, “Abide in me.” He does not say, I will abide in you for eternal life, but He exhorts them to abide in Him, that they may bear fruit. There is responsibility throughout.
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me.” It is not a question of eternal life, but of bearing fruit for God; and He who best knew says that it is by abiding in Christ. How is it that we do not bear fruit? It is when we are not abiding in Christ, where something of our own carries us away; wherever we have an object that is not Christ, although the object itself may be right. If we walk in dependence on Christ continuing in His love, and not drawn into what is unbecoming and beneath Him, we are kept: it is abiding in Christ. But wherever I have an object even if it be a right one, I must take care that the way in which I seek to carry it out be right, and the only thing that can make us either choose the right object, or take the right way, is having Christ before us. The vine does not represent Christ in heaven, but now on earth, and ourselves a part of that which bears His name here below. He knew it well whose words are “To me to live is Christ.” His motive, his object, his life day by day was Christ. Not many of us can say this, or we may say it in very little measure. But there is nothing like it. May the Lord strengthen us earnestly to desire it, looking up to Him for grace to profit by His own word, and thus have it made true of ourselves! It was not because he was an apostle that Paul could so say.
He did not lose his Christianity because he was an apostle; and we, though not possessing an official place, should at least seek it. Christ is better than all gifts, is better than any position in the Church. Yet Christ belongs to the simplest Christian, and the simplest Christian is a branch in the vine truly as an apostle.
Do not then let us excuse ourselves for our little faith shown in having grown so little. It is dependence on Christ that keeps one right. The strongest, if not dependent, will break down; the weakest will be kept if dependent. Let us then keep Christ simply and solely before our hearts.

Sketch of John

John’s great doctrine is the Son of God on earth, and eternal life in Him, and the revelation of God in and by Him. In his first Epistle he goes on to the manifestation of this same life in the disciple. He is the eternal life which was with the Father, and has been manifested unto us. Then “He that hath the Son, hath life,” and so “which thing is true in him and in you.” The details are the traits of this life, the knowledge of the love of God in it through the Spirit, and fellowship with the Father and the Son. In the Gospel, to which I will now confine myself, it is His person and the gift of the Comforter when He is gone.
I will run through the chapters of his Gospel to see if there be not a leading idea running all through, to which the peculiar facts recorded are subservient. That idea is the Son of God outside of and above all dispensational dealings, in the blessedness of His own person, though, as a man, and taking fully a man's place. But it is, as I think I have remarked, not man taken up to heaven, but a divine person come down to earth.
In chapter 1 there are three parts, 1-18, 19-34, and thence to the end; but this continued in chapter 2:1-22. The first is the abstract glory of His nature. He is God, but a distinct person with God, and that in eternity, life, light. John was His witness. There was this singular phenomenon—light shining in darkness, and the darkness remaining what it was; and then the Word made flesh and dwelling among us—the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father—who makes God known. Next we have what Christ does, His work, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and the baptism with the Holy Ghost. We then find Christ the center and gatherer of the remnant of Israel. In the first of the two days John the Baptist's work to this end is spoken of; in the second, Christ's. This last, I doubt not (like Matt. 10), goes down in principle to His return.
I would note in passing, that we have here Christ as a divine center, for none can be such truly but God; next the one only path through a world in which there is none for man, for there can be none for children who have willfully abandoned their Father's house till they turn back to it; and then the heaven open, and man (in Christ) the object of divine favor, and the mighty ones, the most exalted of creatures, His servants. Nathanael owned Him according to Psa. 2. He takes His place according to Psa. 8. Here note, that the Jews and world, as such, are wholly outside (verses 10, 11), (the Jews are always treated as reprobates in this Gospel), and those born of God alone owned (verses 12, 13). In a word, we have not dispensational dealings, but the deep realities of the divine nature in relationship to men and the world, though it is fully owned that the Jews were God's people.
Chapter 2, called the third day, I have no doubt, intimates the double aspect of Christ's reunion with His earthly people—the marriage and the judgment. I can quite accept that such a figure (though to me, from the connection, undoubted) may not be admitted. I do not complain of this, but, as I am saying what I think, I would not omit it.
In chapters 2:23; 3:21 we have the great foundations of the new state of things—born of God, and the cross; the latter in the double aspect of, the Son of man must be lifted up, and the love of God has given His Son. The condemnation is the coming in of light. (Ver. 22-36.) Then the full aspect of the new state of things, and the absolutely heavenly character of the witness, are gone into.
After this introduction, for such it is (John was not yet cast into prison, and Christ had not yet presented Himself), He leaves Judaea (chap. 4), practically driven out by the Jews, and in Samaria, where no promise was (salvation, He declares in the chapter, was of the Jews), unfolds the living power of the Holy Ghost, which He could give as God—for God was giving, not requiring—and which He was humbled, so as to be the weary One craving a drink of water, that man might have; and then finds the way to man's unintelligent heart, as it ever must be, by the conscience. Nothing more lovely than this whole picture—the rejected and weary One finding His meat in showing grace to this wearied but guilty heart; but I must not dwell on it here. It opened to His view the fields white for harvest at the moment He was cast out.
In chapter 5 we have the Son of God giving life to whom He will. The general picture is man's incompetency to get healed by strength in himself; and Christ, in contrast, bringing life, and that eternal life, so as to escape judgment. The end of the chapter shows life in Him, with every evidence; and man would not come to have it. This is man's responsibility as to Christ.
In chapter 5 He is the life-giving Son of God. In chapter 6 He is the Son of man, the object of faith come into the world, and dying, so that faith feeds on Him. The general picture is Christ satisfying the poor with bread, according to Psa. 132; owned Prophet, refusing then to be King, going up on high alone, while His disciples were tossed and toiling in His absence; He rejoins them, and they are at land: a Christ, the true manna (ver. 2-9), incarnate, and dying (understood in spirit), their true food.
In chapter 7 He cannot show Himself at the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Passover is fulfilled in Him; the Pentecost, on the day so called. But the Tabernacles, where Israel celebrated their rest after the harvest and vintage (known figures of judgment), are not even yet. He promises the Spirit meanwhile, as Israel had the water out of the rock in the desert: only now it should be in him who came to Him to drink, and flow forth as rivers in this desert world. Thus we have the triple fruition of the Holy Ghost, giving life as born of Him, the spiritual power of life in us rising up to its full blessing as eternal life, and flowing forth in blessing from us as a river. This closed the direct communication of Christ as to His position on earth.
In chapter 8 His word is rejected; there He is light.
In chapter 9 His works; here He gives eyes to see. He gives eyes to a poor sheep cast out, who, having owned Him as a prophet, finds He is the Son of God. Then comes all He is for His sheep, from His entering in Himself by the door as a subject man, then laying down His life for them (of infinite value in itself also), to His being one with the Father.
In chapters 11 and 12, being thus rejected, He receives just testimony, in spite of men, to His being Son of God (resurrection and life), in Lazarus' resurrection; to His being Son of David, in riding on the ass; to His being Son of man, by the Greeks coming up. But He declares that, to take this place, He must die or abide alone. He must be lifted up to draw (not Israel as a living Messiah, but) all men. The evangelist then unfolds how it stood with Israel, and Christ how it stood with the world at large in respect of Himself.
He is now owned, so to speak, as crucified—i.e., His teaching takes up what is beyond it. He was come from God and went to God. The Father had delivered all into His hand. And now, if He could not abide with His disciples as a companion upon earth, He would make them fit to be with Him in heaven—to have a part with Him. They were washed, as completely regenerated by the word; but, as priests connected with the sanctuary and holy service, they must have their feet washed as to daily conversation: this He was their servant still to do. He then refers to His betrayal and Peter's denial of Him—the perfect wickedness of flesh and its weakness; He declares the value Godward of the death of the Son of man and its fruit in His then entering into divine glory, and being no more (bodily) for any in the world.
In chapter 14 He unfolds His disciples' position in consequence. He was not going to be alone on high, He was going to prepare a place for them; but, having revealed the Father in Himself, they knew where He was going, for He was going to the Father, and they had seen Him in Him: and they knew the way, for they had come to the Father in coming to Him. This was as already there; but on going away He would obtain another Comforter for them. In spirit He would come to them, manifest Himself to them, and the Father and Himself make their abode with them. The path of obedience and responsibility on Christian (not on Adam) ground is in this chapter and the following fully set out. He left what He could only give in leaving—for He made it by the cross—peace; He gave them His own peace; but He was truly a man and cared for their love; if they loved Him, they would be glad He was going to His Father, to rest and glory.
But there was a difficulty. What about the vine that God brought out of Egypt and planted? This He meets in the following chapter. Israel was not the vine, though as a people it was so. He Himself was the true Vine, they were the branches. He was not, as they thought of Messiah, the best branch of the old vine; He was the Vine, and they the branches. He then enlarges upon the way of bearing due fruit, dependence and obedience, and, if His words abode in them, asking what they would; most important instructions, which I regret passing over so rapidly, only that I must confine myself to my present object—the general idea. As He has returned to this rejection of the old provisional vine, so to speak, He shows that to be without excuse, and as really having seen and hated (not Messiah, though He was such, but) Him and His Father. It is laid on its intrinsic moral grounds. Hence, when the Comforter was come—before, He had spoken of the Father's sending Him, now of His sending Him from the Father to testify of Him glorified (as before, to bring to remembrance what He had said upon earth), they also having to bear testimony as with Him from the beginning.
In chapter xvi., when the Comforter was come, He would bear witness in the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, in connection with His rejection and going away to His Father; and guide the disciples into all truth, show them things to come, and glorify Christ (all that the Father had being His); and then places them in immediate confidant relationship with the Father. For the moment they were to be in sorrow, and scattered.
In chapter 17, addressing His Father (wonderful thought that we should be admitted to hear!) He looks to taking His own place as Son on high, to glorify Him in virtue of His work which He had finished; the one our place, the other our title to it. He puts them in it, having manifested His Father's name to them, and gives to them all the communications made to Him in it on earth, and prays for them, on the ground of their being the Father's, and on the ground of His being glorified in them. He prays they may be kept in the name of the Holy Father; and divine names are the power of the thing named. Holiness, His holiness, and children: these are our place—this, that Christ's own joy might be fulfilled in them. Then He gives, not the words, but the word, the testimony, and the world hates them. They are completely put in Christ's place on earth in every respect, sanctified by the truth, and He Himself set apart, away from men, on high, to be the source of this their setting apart, by the revelation of what He was to their hearts. Next, He gives them the glory the Father had given Him, but beyond all, will have them with Himself where He is; and as partaking of His glory hereafter, He will prove to the world they were loved as He was; so that He manifests the Father's name now, that the Father's love to Him may be in them on earth, and He in them.
Having thus completed the disciples' place in His absence, and even to their heavenly rest—of which John speaks little, barely in the beginning of chapter 14 and at the end of chapter 17, and this only in the full result—in chapter 18 he enters on the final history of the Lord's days on earth. But this, even more than any other part, shows the divine person who is above all circumstances. John was one of the three present—as near as any could be—in the agony in Gethsemane. He gives not a word of it; while Matthew, who was present at what John recounts, tells nothing of that, but does of the agony.
Now if these contrasted circumstances were not characteristic, they might not prove much; but they are most strikingly characteristic. I will briefly recall to you those mentioned by John. All point out the Son of God wholly above circumstances; the free offering up of Himself. Judas comes; the Lord advances and names Himself. They all go backward and fall to the ground. Had He sought escape, He had only to go away; but He asks again, and then says, “If ye seek me, let these go their way” —the blessed sign, as the apostle witnesses, how He stood in the gap, and, however poor and weak, the disciples escaped untouched. With this love we have perfect love to His Father, and perfect obedience. “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” —and no more. The miracle of healing, even, is not noticed by John, though he can give the servant's name. So all His answers to the chief priest are in the calm superiority of one above all that surrounded Him, while the full guilt and madness of the Jews are fully brought out, as they are seen in all the Gospel. And in rejecting Him they deny their own place: “We have no king but Caesar.” Christ's answers before Pilate bear the same stamp as one above all.
As we had no agony in the garden, so no “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” on the cross. Finally, Jesus, knowing now all was finished, a single passage remaining to be fulfilled, says, “I thirst,” and having drunk the vinegar says, “It is finished.” He then bows His head, and gives up His own spirit. Meanwhile, in perfect calmness, He committed His mother to John, and charged John with the care of her. No bone is broken, but Joseph and Nicodemus make Him to be with the rich in His death. Now, in all this—and John, mark, was with Him, as near as any could be in His agony, and standing by at the cross; all that marked the anguished Man is omitted, and all that presents the Son of God is introduced—I find design; that is, a blessed and beautiful appearing, as a true, lowly, and obedient man, no doubt, but an appearing of the Son of God as such for faith on earth; revealing His Father all His life, and even in the circumstances of His death, Son of God still.
Two chapters remain to consider, relating His history after the resurrection. These are throughout, I do not doubt, significative as to the dispensational dealings consequent on the truths already brought out. Such applications are not like doctrines: we must leave them to the judgment of others. But I will state them here. Their orderly completeness, I have no doubt, proves the truth of the view I suggest. The fact of Christ's resurrection known only by sight, without the testimony of God in the word that He must rise, produces no effect. They go home. But Mary, out of whom seven devils had been cast, wants Jesus Himself—in ignorance, no doubt, but in true affection. When this had been fully and most beautifully brought out—the world had nothing for her but Him—Jesus reveals Himself to her, and makes her the messenger of the witness of the believer's position. He was not come back to be corporeally present for the kingdom, and reign over Israel. He could, through redemption, call His disciples brethren; and they were in the same relationship to His God and Father as He was. This gathers them, and He is in their midst, and pronounces peace—for He had now made it; then sends them forth, breathing into them the living power of the Holy Ghost. Afterward Thomas believes on seeing: but full blessing arose from believing now without seeing. Now, I have no doubt, while this put the disciples historically in their true place and relationship to God, yet we have a picture of the whole period from Christ's resurrection to the time of His return: first the remnant who had known Him before; then the assembly formed without seeing Him, and in possession of peace with God, and His presence, as assembled, then sent forth in the power of the Holy Ghost with remission of sins for others. Next is the remnant of Israel in the latter days, who will believe by seeing. This introduces the millennium. The last chapter has avowedly in it that which is mysterious, and evidently intentionally so. I have no doubt myself that it follows on consecutively after the Lord's return—seen on earth, seen in resurrection, seen now the third time, i.e., when He returns. He puts Himself on the original ground of His associations with Israel—only in power. The nets do not break, the ships do not sink. He has already gathered fish; but the great haul is then taken, and without the ensuing failure, as it was in previous service.
Remark, too, we are in Galilee, and there is no ascension. This suits John; it is divine manifestation on earth, not man's going to heaven; hence, it links on to the future display of power, not to Christ's coming to receive the assembly which is united to Him while in heaven. Peter follows Christ, and is to be cut off, and, I believe, the whole Jewish church system with him. John is left in testimony to connect it with that which is to come, so that the disciples thought he was not to die; but this was not said. Now these last points I leave to the Christian perception of every one who examines the Gospel with care: but the facts prove the coordinated character of the history, from one end of the Gospel to the other, completing one distinct and clear exhibition of Christ outside legal Judaism, in every chapter up to His taking His sheep, which closed all recognition of the fold, being Christ in contrast with that Judaism, and presenting the setting up of a new thing in Him. Peter's ministry, who served in the circumcision, like Jesus, would end like His; but John's, who represented ministry outside it, but not heavenly though leading individuals there, would go on till Christ came.

Thoughts on John: the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

(Chap. 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7-20.)
I have been just feeling that I can fully enjoy the truth which these words convey. And I would cherish such an experience, and ask the Lord to fix and enlarge it.
It is far from intimating that one is more interested than another in the grace or salvation of God, or loved with a more faithful and enduring love. But it does intimate that there may be a more personal attachment between the Master and some of His disciples than between Him and others. All, I may say, sat at supper with Him, while only one leaned then on His bosom. All continued with Him in His temptations, and are to receive the kingdom together, but only three were in the garden or on the holy hill with Him. For there is more personal oneness of thought and feeling in some than in others, more of that which, as among ourselves, draws the willing heart along.
If I look at a brother whose way savors much of that which I know Jesus must delight in, being meek, and self-renouncing, and unaffectedly bumble, and withal devoted and unworldly, I may remember John, and see that disciple whom Jesus loved reflected in my brother. But then, how happy is it to remember that John himself was but one of a company whom the same Jesus had chosen and called, and bound to Himself forever! Did John exclude Thomas or Bartholomew? Thomas and Bartholomew, in the great evangelical sense, were as much to Christ as John. The one was not a whit more accepted man than the other.
This is sure and blessed, as well as plain and simple. I may rejoice in it with all certainty. And if I have any love to Him who has called me to such assured and eternal blessedness, will I not rejoice in this, that He has an object in which He can take more delight than I must well know I and my way can afford Him?
Thus do I find reasons for enjoying that sentence, again and again repeated, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and for delighting also in the thought that such a truth finds its illustration among the saints now, as it did in the midst of the apostles in earlier days.
The love with which we have to do is too perfect to be partial. It does not act irregularly or carelessly. We are all the objects of it. Thomas is not neglected because John is thus loved. But because this love is real, it is moved in this way by a John. But when I see a John leaning on Jesus while I myself am at a distance, let me have grace to look still, and to delight in the vision, and to say, “It is good for me to be here.” If I am not in the same experience, still it is blessed to enjoy the thought that another is there. Peter was gladdened by the vision of a glory in Moses and Elias, though it was all beyond him. So is my happy and thankful spirit to entertain the thought of my more heavenly brother pressing the bosom of our common Lord. J. G. B.

Joshua 5

The call of the Christian is a marvelous thing. I do not speak only of glory; but in saying so I think also of being called to be like Him, to partake of His nature; and I become spiritually like Him. Therefore the apostle says (Eph. 5:25) that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word, to the end of presenting it to Himself glorious. The word does not render the Church glorious; it sanctifies the Church; but communion with Christ in glory is what glorifies. It is in virtue of the power of what He is that we share His glory.
In Eph. 4; 5 we see that we are conformed to what we know. Here is the reasoning of the apostle: you have known what God is in pardon, in love, and in glory. If you have laid hold of that, it is well; but you ought to reproduce it in your conduct. What is spiritually received in the heart does reproduce itself. Therefore it is said, Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. God loved you when you were only His enemies. I do not now speak of our perfection in Christ, for it is already accomplished; but it is a question of our realizing on earth that which we know. John says, That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life. As much as I enjoy, so much I reproduce. When I realize what Christ is, it is the joy of my soul. Without doubt that will judge the flesh; for when Christ enters, all that is contrary to Him is manifested. We are going to see a little how Christ nourishes, and how one is sustained by Him in ordinary life, so that the power of Christ could not be enfeebled even in the midst of all the worryings which tend to distract us. If we cannot pass through them occupying ourselves with the Lord, then when we would come back to Him the heart is cold. His love is weakened in us if we have not that which we used for going through all circumstances with Him;
We may distinguish three characters in the Christian. First, he is a sinner redeemed. We see in him an object of grace in redemption. There are in him two opposites brought close, God and the sinner. Never has been, never will be, seen such a manifestation with an angel. Secondly, he has part with Christ in glory. Later on we shall see the other character: he has Christ as the manna for the passage through the wilderness. It is therefore of a passing nature, as the two other characters are everlasting.
When God visited His people in Egypt, He did not speak to them of the desert they had to cross, but of Canaan. So in drawing us out of the world for communion with Jesus, God speaks to us of heaven; He has glory in view for us. But we are apt to stop and consider our circumstances in the wilderness; but when the Spirit acts, one sees only the end.
Paul did not live in the things that are seen, because they pass away and are null in this sense; but he abode in the things eternal. Consequently the first requisite for enabling us thus to regard the world as null is to know that we are not of it. God found us in sin, entirely estranged from Him, and the question is how to place us in heaven. As He took Christ from the tomb and set Him at His right hand in heaven, by the same power He has taken us out of our sins to place us in heaven, all the rest being blotted out.
In the chapter just read we find two things: the passover and the old corn of the land. All other things are left aside. It is a question of being in heaven for leaving the manna. This is a great deal to say; it supposes not only shelter from the judgment of God but a place in heaven. Even when Israel were no longer in Egypt, they did not want the old corn of the land whilst they were in the wilderness. Pharaoh was no longer there. Israel was delivered from the bondage of Egypt; nevertheless they did not eat the old corn of the land. It is just the same for the Christian who has not learned the salvation he has in Christ. He is no longer under condemnation; but he cannot glorify God. He is sheltered from judgment, but he does not know the efficacy of Christ's work for glory.
All effort therefore must be entirely done with, and like Israel outside Egypt and the power of Satan, we must know God as a Savior without fear any more. A Christian is one who can say, All is done by Christ for my salvation; He has plucked me forever from the power of Satan, as Israel could have said, We shall know Pharaoh no more: he is at the bottom of the sea.
Satan was conquered when Jesus drank of the cup which His Father gave Him to drink. The deliverance is complete for us, for God has shown our Savior, and as the apostle Paul says, If God is for us who can be against us? It matters little then that Satan and the wilderness are still there. I leave all aside, because I know that God is for me. But there is another which I ought to know. The Jordan remains, which is a different thing. Christ is dead and risen for me: such is what the Red Sea tells me; but the Jordan declares that I am dead and risen with Christ. It is the knowledge and the enjoyment of my union with Him. When we have this, we begin to eat the old corn of the land. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ. Being thus introduced into Canaan we begin to have warfare with the enemies who are there, but we eat the corn of the land. And there is Gilgal, and circumcision, which means that, when we have the consciousness of being thus in the heavenlies in Christ, we judge all according to the standard of heaven. If I am there, I say of such or such a thing I see in the world, This is not of heaven and I leave it: there I must abide, and must judge the flesh in the presence of God.
Returning to the manner of being nourished with Christ, we see that, when the old corn of the land was eaten, the manna ceased; that is, we enjoy redemption in quite a new way. The principle of the difference lies here. At the beginning I thought of my sins and of Christ; this is the door by which we must enter. We must be humbled and enter by Christ. But afterward, knowing that God loves us as He loves Christ, and that His favor rests on us, and knowing all the bearing of redemption accomplished by Jesus, I begin to estimate the love of Jesus as God estimates it, to have the same thoughts as He in this respect. Then I see Christ in quite another way than before; I am nourished with Him in a way entirely new. It is no longer a mere question of being sheltered only, but I am united to Christ Himself. I contemplate all the perfection of the Lamb who is there; and when I think of the abasement He submitted to on the cross, how He annihilated Himself to make good the character of God in order that God might be just without giving up love, and that He might act according to love without giving up righteousness, then I adore Christ. The Son of man has been glorified because God has been glorified in Him. He has been content to be compromised in order that God might be glorified. He has renounced all, yet had an absolute confidence in His Father. “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” He goes to the end and drinks the cup that the Father might be glorified and we saved. Now I nourish myself with all this; not only am I sheltered, but I adore. What occupies him who is in his sins is to be sheltered; but he who feeds on Christ while adoring Him rejoices, while contemplating Him, that He is seated with Christ in heavenly places.
The more spiritual we are, the more we know what the glory is that Christ would share with us. That which He was through all eternity, and all He has won by His obedience is given us, and we shall be like Him.
Is not Christ seen in heaven an object of affection to me? Am I glad to see Him there He wishes that our affections should find nourishment in seeing Him in glory. “If ye loved me,” said He to the disciples, “ye would rejoice because I go to my Father.” And when I think that Jesus has been banished and rejected by the world, I am happy to see Him in heaven. He is the old corn of the land, for He is of the heavenly country. He is also the food that suits us. The Christian is heavenly and ought to occupy and nourish himself on Him who is there as the Lamb.
When I say that we ought to abide in Canaan, it is in Canaan where the warfare is that I speak of. There are continual conflicts in the heavenly places represented by Canaan; for it is clear that in heaven by and by there will be perfect repose.
As a sinner the believer was of Egypt; as a Christian he is of Canaan: but he is crossing the wilderness, and sometimes his spirit is still in Egypt, because he gets weary of the wilderness and the heart then turns back. The world should be for him, as for Jesus, only a dry land where no water is. (Psa. 63) Here below we have nothing but a desert, where are fiery serpents; but it must be crossed and passed through with God. If our affections are capable of being nourished with Christ, we shall be able to endure everything.
I say to myself, Why is it that I am not there? I know however that Christ is my Savior. Oh! it is when one does not feed on Christ as the old corn of the land that one does not abide in communion with Him. The manna is for the wilderness, but the old corn of the land is for Canaan. The other character which I have named is Christ as manna for the people in marching through the desert. Jesus speaks of it when He says to the Jews, “My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven,” which the manna set forth.
If the Christian neglects to feed on Christ in this sense, he has no strength to put on Christ here below in his walk. If he walks ill, if there are falls, he cannot at Gilgal (for we must come there after all) feed on Christ as the old corn of the land, that is, feast in communion with Him, the heavenly rest. In this case one must be humbled and settle accounts with Christ, which is an immense difference in the moral state of the soul. If Christ went up the mountain, then came the transfiguration; it was for Him the old corn of the land; He fed as it were on the glory; but if lie went down, He found at the foot the power of Satan. In all the circumstances of the desert, however, Jesus lived on account of the Father. We too should live on account of Jesus. It is where we meet with the enemy's power that Jesus is our food as manna. Jesus could always say, “As the living Father sent me, and I live on account of the Father; so he that eateth me, even be shall live on account of me.” As Christ Himself crossed the wilderness, and walked there by faith, we are called to do the same. In all circumstances He prayed; if difficulties increased, He prayed more earnestly. He was there as man and passed through everything with the Father's help.
The Christian feeds on a Christ who has been tried and humbled, and ought to be himself as Christ, crossing the world with all the grace necessary in order that one should own his Master in Him. If he walks with Christ, every sort of goodness, mildness, of longsuffering, will be seen in him. For Jesus the effect of temptation was to bring out grace. If I am with Him, and people insult me, I endure; I shall not cease to be meek, because I feed on Him who is such. It is not that my Christian character obliges me to be in these things, but I have all needful for going through them and I forget them because I am not of this world but of elsewhere. If I walk with Christ in me, if I eat manna in the desert, I feed also on the old corn of the land in Canaan. Every day one may do both. The manna is wanted and daily diligence (for the manna spoiled). They had need of manna to go to Canaan. But to glorify God and reproduce the character of Jesus in all positions of husband, wife, master, servant, one must feed on Christ the old corn of the land.
Another circumstance may be pointed out. Israel wanted the old corn of the land in the plain of Jericho before the victory was won; then Christ presents Himself as captain of Jehovah's host. (Ver. 13.) “Art thou for us or for our adversaries?” said Joshua. It must be for or against when it is a question of Christ. I may, as man, have relations with others in certain things; but every man I meet is “for” or “against,” when the question is of following Christ in heaven. If it is some one more spiritual than me that I meet, he is for me; if it is some one less spiritual, he is against me, for I might be drawn into evil by him.
If we would enjoy the heavenly joy, we must feed on Jesus as the manna come down from heaven, which is all we want for all the circumstances where we are found. Then we shall enjoy Him and the glory as our everlasting portion.

Notes on the Kingdom

“It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” was God's announcement to the serpent in the hour of its apparent triumph that He would not leave it in undisturbed possession of power over man and the earth. From the time however of man's acceptance of Satan's guidance, violence, self-will, and oppression began to be manifested in the world; but God's purpose must be fulfilled. So, from time to time, during the forty centuries which rolled by between the prophetic announcement and the appearance of the one predicted, God disclosed something of the future concerning the kingdom to be established in power and permanence, where His authority has been disowned and His rights denied.
To Abraham it was promised, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” and to Isaac and to Jacob after him was this promise confirmed. (Gen. 22:18; 26:4; 28:14.) In the hope of the kingdom saints died. Jacob, before gathering up his feet into the bed, predicted the gathering of nations to Shiloh, who was to come (Gen. 49:10); Moses closed his blessing of the tribes with the prospect of the people's welfare, when the Lord should be reigning in person over the earth (Dent. 33:28); and David's last words are descriptive of the One who is yet to put down all that opposes itself to God. (2 Sam. 23) In the days of Israel's triumphs the hope of the kingdom was remembered, for they sang of it at the Red Sea, and looked on to it as the ark entered Jerusalem under David. (Ex. 15 Chron. 16:23-33.) Individuals cherished one prospect of it in their hearts: witness Hannah, who, pouring forth the joyful utterance of a grateful heart, cannot close her thanksgiving for special favors without making mention of the king, the Lord's anointed. And David, as he wandered over the land he was one day to govern, and as he sat on his throne in the city of Zion, looked onward to that which we too expect (Psa. 18; 63); whilst the personal majesty of the king he sung of in Psa. 45, and the beneficent character of His reign he celebrates in Psa. 72. After him the prophets took up the strain. Isaiah, Micah, and others predicted the blessings that will be enjoyed under His rule, and Daniel fixed the date of His first coming to earth; whilst to Nebuchadnezzar God revealed in dreams the crushing power of the stone cut out without hands, and the setting up by the God of heaven of a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.
To Jewish ears then it was no strange sound which John the Baptist gave forth, as he proclaimed, “The kingdom of heaven [or heavens] is at hand.” After him the Lord Jesus uttered the same words, when He began His ministry in Galilee; but both prefixed to their announcements the imperative call to repentance. (Matt. 3:2; 4:17.) For the children of Israel being sons of the kingdom (Matt. 8:12), its establishment in power is connected with that nation's blessing, and their future glory depends on it, as Daniel had predicted: “The kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High” [or high places]. (Dan. 7:27.) To them, then, whilst announcing the near approach of the kingdom, it was needful to declare the terms upon which they could enter it, and what God looked for from those who should receive it. In Galilee, therefore, the Lord preached repentance; on Nicodemus He impressed the necessity of the new birth (John 3; 5); to His disciples He made known the childlike spirit requisite for those who shall enter it (Matt. 18:3), and warned all against mere profession without practice, which would forever shut out souls from that which Israel had been taught to expect. (Matt. 5:20; Luke 13:25-29.) To John the kingdom was future, for dispensationally whilst on earth he was outside it (Matt. 11:11); but the Lord could speak of it as existing on earth, manifested by the power over Satan which He exercised. (Matt. 11:28.)
John spoke of the prospect, the Lord preached the kingdom of God, and commissioned the twelve, and the seventy disciples, to proclaim it likewise. (Luke 4:43; 9:1, 60; 10:9.) The devils discerned the great change which had taken place consequent on His presence in the midst of Israel, for they felt His power, confessed His authority, and owned what alone they expected from His hands. (Mark 1:34; Matt. 8:28-31.) He had come, who was to destroy the works of the devil. The people who heard Him, and witnessed His works, should have discerned the great change and have rejoiced; for if He preached to them, as Matthew and Luke express it, “the gospel” or “glad tidings of the kingdom,” or as Mark perhaps really wrote “the gospel of God” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35. Luke 8:1; Mark 1:14), the kingdom was in existence, for the king was present. A power which could deliver man from that one into whose hands he had put himself was manifested in Him who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. The people saw it and marveled; the rulers confessed the works and caviled, and blasphemed. (Mark 1:27; 3:22-30.) Men, released from the tyranny of demoniacal possession, were witnesses none could gainsay. The King was really on earth, and gathering souls around Himself by the words of the kingdom, the seed spread abroad by the sower; all who heard and received His word became really what Israel were only nationally, true children or rather sons of the kingdom (Matt. 13:19-38), wheat or good seed sown in the field.
Turning back to Dan. 7:18, 27, we find mention made of two classes of saints: “the saints of the Most High” (or high places) who “take the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever;” and “the people of the saints of the Most High” (or high places) to whom the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given. The former are the heavenly saints who shall reign on high over the earth, the latter are the people of Israel on earth during the millennium; for the kingdom, as prophesied in the Old Testament and often when spoken of in the New Testament, has reference to a rule to be exercised over the earth. To Jews therefore, though the term “kingdom of heaven” is not found in the Old Testament, the thought it conveyed was not a new one, and when Jesus preached “the kingdom of heaven (or the heavens) is at hand” (and He did not, that we read of, use any other formula), whilst His message must have gladdened the hearts of the faithful, He would have stumbled by His language none who were acquainted with Israel's hopes, or had studied the Old Testament scriptures. And, often as we meet with the term “kingdom of heaven” in Matthew's gospel, where alone it is found, we never read of any one asking either John or the Lord what they meant by it, or what it was intended to express. The term might be new, but the thought it expressed had cheered the heart of many a saint in previous ages, as the language of the priest Zacharias, when his mouth was opened, shows us how the godly before the Lord's first advent looked onward to the fulfillment of God's word. (Luke 1:71-76.)
John the Baptist spoke of the kingdom of heaven, the Lord spoke besides of the kingdom of God.
Are there then two kingdoms, or one? One only. It is the kingdom of God, because it belongs to Him; it can be called the kingdom of the heavens because in the heavenlies is, and will be, the seat of royal authority and power. If we take in the full range of the kingdom it comprehends both heaven and earth. So we read of the righteous shining forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (that is the heavenly part of it), and of “the kingdom of the Son of man” (that is the earthly part of it), which has earth for its sphere, though the seat of power will always be in the heavenlies. (Matt. 13:43, 41.) Again, addressing those who form part of the heavenly saints, the Lord said, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom” (Matt. 26:29): whereas in the address He will at a future day make to the sheep, those amongst the Gentiles who shall have a portion on earth when He reigns, we read, “Come ye blessed of my Father (not your Father) inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34.)
In general however in the gospels where the kingdom is spoken of, what was to be on earth, not in heaven, forms the subject of the teaching. And often we find the terms, kingdom “of God” and “of heaven” used interchangeably. Thus the Lord could announce that both were at hand (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15.) He could speak too of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven as in Matt. 13:11, and of the mysteries of the kingdom of God as in Mark 4:11, and Luke 8:10; for He was teaching the things concerning the kingdom in existence, but not in display as it would be known to the faithful, during the time of His absence before it would be manifested to the world. So the parables of the leaven and of the mustard tree are similitudes of the kingdom of heaven as well as of the kingdom of God (Matt. 13; Mark 4; Luke 13); for they describe the outward appearance and character of the kingdom on earth after that the King should have entered into heaven: and looking on to the day when the kingdom shall be seen in power, and the heavenly saints shall have entered into their inheritance; the Lord could speak of souls sitting down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 8:11) as well as in the kingdom of God. (Luke 13:28.) Both terms could thus be used, because the epoch contemplated was that subsequent to His ascension to the heavenlies. And even since the day that the cloud received Him out of the sight of His disciples, who stood gazing up to heaven, the kingdom as it exists on earth might be rightly called the kingdom of heaven as well as the kingdom of God.
But such was not always the case. When the Lord was on earth the kingdom of God was on earth, because He the King was there; but it would not be called the kingdom of heaven till He had taken His place in the heavenlies. So in certain places in the gospels, where Matthew adduces something characteristic of the whole of the present epoch, he uses the term the “kingdom of heaven,” whereas in the parallel places in Luke, where something is introduced characteristic of the time when the Lord was on earth, the term employed, and the only one which could be, is “the kingdom of God.” Compare Matt. 11:12, 13 with Luke 16:16. In the former the Lord points out the new feature manifested in connection with the kingdom, of entree which would be characteristic of the whole time till He return in power. The Jew looked on the kingdom as his by right, his title to it he considered was bound up with his genealogy. As a son of Abraham he was a son of the kingdom; his birth according to the flesh settled the whole matter. But this was a grievous mistake, as the aspect of things around would point out. The Spirit of God was at work on souls, and the kingdom whilst connected with birth, was connected with the new birth and not with descent from Abraham according to the flesh. Men were finding that out, and as acted on by the Spirit were taking the kingdom of heaven by violence, being in earnest about it. God's Spirit had then begun to work on souls who could not rest till they entered it. Such was, such is, the character of things as regards the kingdom. But in Luke the Lord speaks of what actually was done in His day: “The kingdom of God is preached,” hence the change in the language, for we never read of the kingdom of heaven being preached. He preached—proclaimed—the kingdom of God, and taught about the kingdom of heaven.
Again comparing Matt. 5:3 with Luke 6:20 we may note the difference, and understand the reason of it. Describing the character of those to whom the kingdom belongs, the Lord speaks of it as the kingdom of heaven, but, telling those before Him of the blessings already theirs, He calls it the kingdom of God, for that was the character of it then existing.
Very guarded then is the language of scripture, and it is well for souls to observe it. This Matthew illustrates. For whilst he so often wrote the words of the kingdom of heaven, he teaches us that there were occasions when, the Lord Jesus Christ could not use it. Disciples were to seek first the kingdom of God (chap. 6:33), which had come unto Israel (chap. 12:28), into which publicans and harlots were entering before the chief priests and elders; and from whom, because they rejected Christ it should be taken and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (Chap. 21:31, 43.) These four passages are the only ones in which Matthew has used the term, the kingdom of God, except in chapter 29:24. In the preceding verse we have the more common term for the evangelist, “kingdom of heaven.” And whilst the common text with the majority of MSS. in verse 24 reads, kingdom of God. Lachmann, and Tischendorf, Tregelles and Alford, following Z and many of the fathers, read here also the kingdom of heaven. Whichever reading be preferred, on textual ground, there is nothing to forbid looking at the passage exegetically, the reading of the Dublin rescript from being the faithful preserver of the original form of expression.
The hope of Israel was the kingdom in power when Messiah should reign. The angel in his message to the Virgin Mary took cognizance of it (Luke 1:32); the wise men from the East expected it. (Matt. 2:2.) The aged Simeon died in the hope of it. (Luke 2:32.) John the Baptist's question by his disciples, when in prison proves it. (Matt. 11:3.) All classes were familiar with it. The chief priests and scribes could turn up the scriptures which spoke of it. Andrew a humble fisherman, and the woman of Samaria, and the penitent thief, by their language confirm it. So with Messiah at last really on earth, the appearance of God's kingdom was looked for as close at hand. To correct this mistake, the Lord spake the parable of the “pounds.” (Luke 19:2.) Yet how deeply engraven this thought was on the hearts of the Jews is evidenced by the question addressed to Him by the disciples in their last moments with Him on earth. (Acts 1:6-9.) Joseph of Arimathea who buried the Lord waited, we learn, for the kingdom of God; and the two disciples on their journey to Emmaus confided to the stranger, as they thought, the once cherished hopes of their heart, now dashed to the ground by His death. (Luke 23:51; 24:21.) His answer confirmed the correctness of their hopes, and revived the anticipations of the nation's future blessing. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” His death then, however startling and stumbling to His disciples, is no bar to the accomplishment of the prophecies recorded in the scriptures; for, as Paul taught the assembled multitude in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, the mercies of David would be made sure through the King reigning in resurrection. (Acts 13:34.)
All this however is yet future, though the kingdom exists on earth. What then would characterize the epoch whilst this anomalous condition of matters should last, the kingdom in existence without the king's power being everywhere really owned? The prophets can tell us nothing about it, as the Lord gave these parables, which are called similitudes of the kingdom to explain it, and they supply the link in the chain, which we should in vain search for elsewhere. Found in Matt. 13; 18:20; 22:25, Mark 4, Luke 13, they come in each gospel, it should be remarked, only after His rejection by the nation has been unequivocally declared. See Matt. 12, Mark 3:22-30, Luke 11; 13 “Therefore,” said the Lord, “every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old:” — “old things,” because he can speak of what the prophets predicted; “new,” because he can teach what the Lord revealed.
Of the parables in the gospels all are not similitudes of the kingdom. Those only are similitudes which have special reference to the characteristic features of the epoch between the Lord's ascension and return in power. Thus the parable of the sower is not a similitude of the kingdom, because it deals with the Lord's work, as the sower of the seed, whilst He was on earth; but the parable of the tares is a parable of the kingdom, because it describes the evils that would be disseminated in the field by the enemy while men slept. So that parable, peculiar to Mark, of the seed cast into the ground, is a similitude of the kingdom of God, because it tells of the crop growing during the absence of Him who sowed the seed. Again the parable of the husbandmen (Matt. 21), is not a similitude of the kingdom, because it only carries us down to the Lord's death, the heir killed, and the announcement of the judgment to be executed on the unfaithful husbandmen; but the parable of the marriage supper, which immediately follows is a similitude of the kingdom, as it treats of events on earth in the kingdom after the Lord's ascension. And these two, placed so close together, and dealing with acknowledged facts in history, the death of the Lord, and the death of His servants afterward, help a careful student of the word to discern, when what is called the kingdom of heaven really did begin. Other parables there are, such as “the talents,” and “the pound,” which treat of God's general dealings with men, but are neither of them similitudes of the kingdom (notwithstanding the unfortunate interpolation of the Auth. Ver. in Matt. 25:14); for though they apply to all who shall be in the kingdom, they do not confine themselves to what is characteristic only of the time during the Lord's absence from the earth.
That He will return to the earth, having received the kingdom, many of these parables intimate, as they speak of judgments to be executed and rewards to be bestowed. But this event, the ushering in of the kingdom in power, is rather outside their scope, and is treated of fully elsewhere in the book. They suppose it, for responsibility as servants does not cease till the Lord takes the kingdom; but they do not describe His advent, which will not take place till the gospel of the kingdom shall have been preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. (Matt. 24:14.) This statement, very clear yet much misunderstood, marks at once the difference there must be between the character of the testimony that has been going forth since the Lord's ascension and that which was when He was on earth and will again be ere He returns to reign— “the gospel of the kingdom.” This glad tidings He first announced and this glad tidings will again be heard. He preached it in the land of Israel; it shall be preached throughout the whole world among all nations. How this is to be effected we learn in Rev. 14:6, and what the terms of the message are we there read. It is the everlasting gospel or good news, as it speaks of God's kingdom to be at last established in power on earth, to whom all are exhorted to submit, though it differs widely from the gospel or good news of God's grace. The former will be good news because it will proclaim the end of the reign of wickedness and of Satan's meddling with the affairs of earth, and that the reins of power will henceforth be in the hands of the man competent to retain them. The latter is good news, as it tells us of God's plan of salvation for all the lost who believe on His Son Jesus Christ. Since the time when the Lord and His disciples preached the gospel of the kingdom before His crucifixion, that joyful sound has not been heard. When next it breaks forth, a message from God to a groaning creation and a downtrodden people, from heaven will the tidings fall on the ears of all who will give heed to them. How those in heaven will regard the approach of the epoch, when the Lord shall appear to the world and reign openly, Rev. 11:15-17 discloses. Without one dissentient voice it will be hailed with joy. How creation and God's people on earth will view it, Psa. 95-100 bring out: “Zion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of thy judgment, O Lord,” is the simple statement of the Psalmist. And the Spirit, speaking by Isaiah, exclaims, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.” (Chap. 52:7.) Till these days approach, though the gospel of the kingdom will not be proclaimed, the kingdom should have its due place in the teaching and preaching of God's servants. It had a place in the instruction which the first teachers of Christianity gave to their disciples, it should always have a place still.
During the forty days which elapsed between the Lord's resurrection and ascension, the kingdom of God had a prominent place in His teaching. (Acts 1:3.) Philip went down to Samaria and spoke about it. (Chap. viii. 12.) Paul at Ephesus, at Rome, and elsewhere preached it, and taught the things concerning it (chap. 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23-31), but always as the kingdom of God and of Christ—terms which must bring before the heart the thought of responsibility. It is God's kingdom, therefore to His will souls should conform and His mind they should seek to discern. Were there contentions and strife about days and meats among the converts at Rome, the apostle would remind them that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Chap. 14:17.) Were the Corinthians taken up with gifts and the eloquence of their teachers, the apostle would have them remember, that “the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (1 Cor. 4:20.) And when he has to expose unrighteousness in various forms, he warns them that the unrighteous shall not inherit it (chap. 6:9); and whereas, some were seeking to persuade them that there was no resurrection of the dead, he would have them know that all the godly must be changed, “for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (Chap. 15:50.) To the Galatians, and in the Epistle to the Ephesians he has to speak of the same subject; for whether he has to write and reprove those who were slipping away from foundation truth, or is able to unfold the true place of a believer in Christ, the truth concerning the kingdom having to do with the believer's walk on earth finds its proper place in both these letters. (Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5.) The saints of Colosse are reminded of the grace which had delivered them from the power of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of the Son of His love (chap. 1:13), though its display in power was and is yet future. The saints at Thessalonica had heard of it, and when in trouble were comforted by the prospect of it. (1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:5.) Timothy was reminded of it, and the Hebrews received exhortations founded on the hope of it. (2 Tim. 4:1-18; Heb. 12:28.) James speaks of it (chap. 2:5); Peter would stir up those to whom he wrote that they might have an entrance into it ministered unto them abundantly (2 Peter 1:11); and John declares that he and the saints in his day had part in it (Rev. 1:9), as all saints have still. At times then they taught about it as in existence, at times they spoke of its manifestation in power which is future, as servants and instructed scribes they knew how to speak of it, and what to teach about it.
To enter the kingdom however, and to be found in it when the Lord returns, are very different things. None can enter it now without being born of water and of the Spirit, nor even see it without being born again, and all who are so born during the time of Christ's absence become inheritors of it. It is the inheritance of God's Son, and God's children will inherit it with Him— “Heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” But within its range, as it now exists, all manner of evil is found, which at His coming will be gathered out of it (Matt. 13:41); and ever after nothing actively will be allowed in it unjudged, though the unconverted will enjoy earthly blessings under His reign, if outwardly obedient to His sway. (Psa. 101; 18:44—margin.)
Are the kingdom and the Church then the same, it may be asked? By no means. All who are of the Church inherit the kingdom, but all the heavenly saints will share in it likewise. (Rev. 20:6.) Connected with each there is a hope. The hope of the Church is Christ's descent into the air; the hope connected with the kingdom is the Lord's appearance with His saints. In the kingdom there are ranks, in the Church there are gifts. The rank and reward of each one in the kingdom will be determined by his service, as the catalog of David's worthies shadows out, and the parable of the pounds clearly intimates. The gifts are bestowed on the Church in accordance with God's sovereign will, and responsibility flows from the possession of them. The place in the kingdom will be determined by the right use of the opportunities afforded and responsibilities discharged. From the kingdom all evil will be put out when the Lord returns; from the assembly evil should be put out by His members on earth whilst He is absent on high. The kingdom awaits an absent Lord, the Church is joined to a head in heaven.
A few words in conclusion. Varied are the terms used in scripture when speaking of the kingdom. It is God's kingdom as we have seen, and the kingdom of heaven likewise. It is also the kingdom of God's dear Son, because to Him the rule in it has been committed. It is the everlasting kingdom, because it never will end. The Father's kingdom and heavenly kingdom speak of the heavenly part of it; the kingdom of the Son of man is the earthly portion of it. We learn from the word the commencement of the existence of the kingdom on earth. We learn too when the present form of it will cease. We read in the prophetical portions of the book how it will be displayed in power, and we read too that a time will come when Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; but the kingdom will never end. He delivers it up, but it does not terminate. Daniel declares it shall last “forever, even forever and ever,” and John in the last chapter of the Bible reaffirms it, as he writes “they shall reign forever and ever.” C. E. S.

Lamentations of Jeremiah

The prophet presents a graphic view of Jerusalem once abounding with people now sitting alone, and as a widow; she that was mighty among nations, a princess among the provinces, now become tributary. She is seen weeping sore, and this in the night when darkness and sleep bring respite to others, to her only a renewal of that grief, less restrained, which covers her cheeks with tears. Now is proved the folly as well as the sin that forsook Jehovah for others; but there is for her no comforter out of her lovers. All her friends, the allies she counted on, deal treacherously by her, and are but enemies. (Ver. 1, 2.)
The last hope of the nation was gone. Israel had been long a prey to the Assyrian. But now in the captivity of Judah mourning overspreads Zion where once were crowded feasts. And there is no exception to the rule of affliction: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, herself as a whole in bitterness. On the other hand her adversaries are in power and command over her. How bitter was all this to a Jew! and in a sense most bitter where the Jew was godly. For besides the grief of nature he might share with his countrymen, there was the added and poignant sorrow that the normal witnesses of Jehovah on earth had proved false, and he could not see how glory would be brought to God in spite of and through Israel's unfaithfulness.
It is necessary to bear in mind the peculiar place of Israel and Jerusalem: otherwise we can never appreciate such a book as this, and many of the Psalms, as well as much of the Prophets. The patriotism of a Jew was bound up as that of no other people or country was with the honor of Jehovah. Providence governs everywhere: no raid of Red Indians, no maneuver of the greatest military power in the West, no movement or struggle in Asia, without His eye and hand. But He had set up a direct government in His own land and people, modified from Samuel's days by kingly power, which had blessing guaranteed on obedience. But who could guarantee the obedience? Israel pledged it indeed, but in vain. The people disobeyed, the priests disobeyed, the kings disobeyed. We see too that in Jeremiah's days false prophets imitated the true, and supplanted them in the heed of a court and nation which desired a delusive sanction from God on their own wilfulness, prophesying what pleased the people in flattery and deceit. Hence the corruption only lent an immense impetus to those who were already hastening down the steep of ruin. But this did not lessen the agony of such as Jeremiah. They realized the inevitable ruin; and he, not in moral sense only but by divine inspiration, gives expression to his feelings here. The blessed Lord Jesus Himself is the perfect pattern of similar grief over Jerusalem, in Him absolutely unselfish and in every way pure, but so much the more deeply felt. Unless the relation of that city to God be understood, one cannot enter into this; and there is danger of either explaining it away into care for their souls, or of perverting it into a ground for similar feelings, each for his own country. But it is clear that a man's soul is the same in Pekin or London, in Jerusalem or Baltimore. The Lord does show us the immeasurable value of a soul elsewhere; but this is not the key to His tears over Jerusalem. The impending judgment of God in this world, the dismal consequences yet in the womb of the future, because of the rejection of the Messiah as well as all other evil against God, made the Savior weep. We cannot wonder therefore that the Spirit of Christ which was in Jeremiah, and guided him in this Book of Lamentations, gave the prophet communion with his Master before He Himself proved its worst against His own person.
God might raise up a fresh testimony, as we know He has done; but, while bowing to His sovereign will, the utter ruin of the old witness justly filled the heart of every pious God-fearing Israelite with sorrow unceasing; and surely not the less “because Jehovah hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions.” Grief is not less over God's people because they have dishonored God and are righteously chastised. “Her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are as harts which find no pasture and go powerless before the pursuer.”
There was the bitter aggravation, ever present, of what the city of the great King had lost, which He, when He came and was refused, told out in His broken words of weeping over it. “Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honored her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O Jehovah, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself. The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation. All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O Jehovah, and consider: for I am become vile.” (Ver. 7-11.) Faith however sees in the prostration of the guilty city under the relentless adversary a plea for Jehovah's compassion and interposition on its behalf.
Then the prophet personifies the downtrodden Zion turning to the passing strangers for their pity. “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith Jehovah hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate and faint all the day. The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up. The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: the Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a winepress. For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed.” (Ver. 12-16.) Still all is traced to Jehovah's dealing because of Jerusalem's rebellious sins; and hence He is morally vindicated. “Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: Jehovah hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them. Jehovah is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity. I called for my lovers, but they deceived me: my priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought their meat to relieve their souls.” (Ver. 17-19.)
Finally, Jehovah is called to behold, because Jerusalem was thus troubled, and this too inwardly, because of its own grievous rebellion; and He is besought to requite the enemy who took pleasure in their abject shame and deep suffering. “Behold, O Jehovah; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death. They have heard that I sigh: there is none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble, they are glad that thou hast done it; thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me. Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.” (Ver. 20-22.)

Lamentations of Jeremiah

It has been noticed that the solitude of Jerusalem is the prominent feeling expressed in the opening of these elegies. Here we shall find its overthrow spread out in the strongest terms and with great detail. Image is crowded on image to express the completeness of the destruction to which Jehovah had devoted His own chosen people, city, and temple; the more terrible; as He must be in His own nature and purpose unchangeable. None felt the truth of His love to Israel more than the prophet; for this very reason, none could so deeply feel the inevitable blows of His hand, obliged as He was to be an enemy to those He most loved. “How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with the cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger. The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and hath not pitied: he hath thrown down in his wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he hath brought them down to the ground: he hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof. He hath cut off in his fierce anger all the horn of Israel: he hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy, and he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about. He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire. The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strongholds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation.” (Ver. 1-5.)
But even this was not the worst. Their civil degradation and ruin were dreadful; for their outward place and blessings came from God in a sense peculiar to Israel. But what was this to His degrading His own earthly dwelling in their midst! “And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly. Jehovah hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest. The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of Jehovah, as in the day of a solemn feast.” (Ver. 6, 7.) It was of no use to think of the Chaldeans. God it was who brought Zion and the temple, and their feasts and fasts and sacrifices, with king and priest, to naught.
Hence in verse 8 it is said with yet greater emphasis, “Jehovah hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together. Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from Jehovah. The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.” (Ver. 8-10.) The prophet then introduces his own grief. “Mine eyes do fill with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers' bosom. What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?” He justly feels that no object can adequately match the miseries of Zion. The sea alone could furnish by its greatness a notion of the magnitude of their calamities.
Another element now enters to aggravate the description—the part which false prophets played before the final crisis came. “Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment.” (Ver. 14.)
Then He depicts the cruel satisfaction of their envious neighbors over their sufferings and ruin. “All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they his and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth? All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it.” (Ver. 15, 16.) But the prophet insists that it was Jehovah who had done the work of destruction because of His people's iniquity, let the Gentiles boast as they might of their power over Jerusalem. “Jehovah hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.” (Ver. 17.) Sorrowful, most sorrowful, that His hand had done it all; yet a comfort to faith, for it is the hand that can and will build up again for His name's sake. Nor was it a hasty chastening; from earliest days Jehovah had threatened and predicted by Moses what Jeremiah details in his Lamentations. Compare Lev. 26, Deut. 28; 31; 32. To Him therefore the prophet would have the heart to cry really, as it had in vain through mere vexation. “Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease. Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street. Behold, O Jehovah, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied. Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors round about, so that in the day of Jehovah's anger none escaped nor remained: those that I have swaddled and brought up hath mine enemy consumed.” (Ver. 18-22.) He arrays the most frightful excesses the Jews had suffered before God that He may deal with the enemies who had been thus guilty.
As to the apparent alphabetic dislocation in verses 16, 17, I do not doubt that it is intentional. In chapter 1 all is regular as to this. In chapters 3, 4 a transposition occurs similar to what we find here. It cannot therefore be either accidental on the one hand, or due to a different order in the alphabet on the other, as has been thought. Some of the Hebrew MSS. place the verses as they should stand in the regular order, and the Septuagint pursues a middle course by inverting the alphabetic marks but retaining the verses to which they should belong in their Masoretic place. But there is no sufficient reason to doubt that the Hebrew gives the passage as the Spirit inspired it, spite of the strangeness of the order, which must therefore have been meant to heighten the picture of sorrow. In sense they must stand as they are: a change according to the ordinary place of the initials ô and ò would cut the thread of just connection.

Lamentations of Jeremiah

The last chapter differs from all before in that the alphabetic series drops, though there are evidently twenty-two verses as in other cases, with the modification we have seen in chapter 3 and its triplets. Internally also the elegy approaches more to the character of a prayer as well as a compressed summing up of the sorrows detailed before.
Hence, says the prophet, “Remember, O Jehovah, what hath happened to us; behold, and look on our reproach. Our inheritance is turned over to strangers, our houses to aliens.” (Ver. 1, 2.) It was not merely a human or natural feeling of their loss and degradation. We must bear in mind that Israel had the land of their possession from Jehovah. No doubt they expelled or subjugated the Canaanites. According to men they held by right of conquest. But a deeper fact lay underneath the successes of Joshua. Strength was given from God to put down the most corrupt race then on the face of the earth who had intruded into a land which He had from the first destined and given by promise to the fathers. For when the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the bounds of the tribes according to the number of the sons of Israel. Alas! they took the blessing not as promises by faith on the ground of God's grace, but under the condition of their own fidelity to the law—a condition necessarily fatal to the sinner. Hence the disasters, and finally ruin, which Jeremiah here groans out to God. But the title, in which Moses (Deut. 32:8) had thus declared His purpose as to His people, is to be noted; for it is His millennial name more specially than any other, and hence that by which Melchizedek is characterized, who typifies the day of blessing after the victory is won over the assailing and previously triumphant kings of the Gentiles. Thus there is assured hope in the end for the scattered and peeled people of God. Meanwhile how bitter the sight of their inheritance transferred to the foreigners, their houses to strangers!
“We are orphans and without a father, our mothers [are] as widows.” (Ver. 3.) Even this did not convey a vivid enough picture of their desolation. The common possession of all, the freest uses of their land, belonged to hard masters. “Our water have we drunk for money; our wood cometh for a price. On our necks [i.e. with a yoke on them] are we persecuted; we toil and have no rest.” (Ver. 4, 5.) What slaves so abject? And this Jeremiah who did not go to Babylon stayed long enough to see, and feel, and spread in sorrow before God. “To Egypt we gave the hand and to Asshur to be satisfied with bread.” (Ver. 6.) But neither could effectually help, still less could either resist the king of Babylon; and this because of Israel's sins which had so long called for an avenger. “Our fathers sinned [and are] not; and we bear their iniquities.” (Ver. 7.) This, we know was become a proverbial complaint about this time. (Ezek. 18,) But God tried them on their own ground, with precisely the same result of ruin because of their evil. For if fathers and children are alike sinful, the punishment is due whether for those or for these: come it must if God judges. How much better then to repent than to repine and murmur, only aggravating the evil and ensuring vengeance on such accumulating rebellion against God!
“Slaves rule over us: no one delivereth us out of their hand. With our lives we bring in our bread because of the sword of the wilderness. Our skins glow like an oven because of the hot blasts of famine. Women have they ravished in Zion, virgins in the cities of Judah. Princes were hung up by their hand; the faces of elders they honored not. Young men they took to the mill, and boys fell under the wood. Aged men have ceased from the gate, young men from their song. The joy of our heart hath ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. The crown of our head is fallen: woe now unto us, for we have sinned! Because of this our heart is faint; for these our eyes are dim; because of the mount of Zion which is desolate, foxes walk about on it.” (Ver. 8-18.) Such is the dismal state so pathetically described by a heart crushed under grief which could not exaggerate the prostration of God's ancient people. Sex, age, condition, place—nothing spared, and nothing sacred. Every word carries weight; not a particular which is not an intolerable burden. How overwhelming for the heart which justly feels everything!
Thus mournfully had Jeremiah's warnings been executed. As Shiloh had been profaned, so now the place of Jehovah's choice, the mount Zion that He loved.
The outward indefectibility of His dwelling on earth is but the fond dream of the men whose unrighteousness, holding the truth in unrighteousness, will surely bring on its judgment from the enemy under the righteous dealing of God.
What then is the resource of the faithful? Never the perpetuity of what is visible, never the first man, but the Second. “Thou, O Jehovah, remainest forever; thy throne from generation to generation.” (Ver. 19.) Hence the righteous cry with the assurance that His ears are open, even though He tarry and justly rebuke sin especially in those that bear His name, in whom He will be sanctified by His judgments till they by grace sanctify Him in their hearts.
God however will have His blows felt; and faith does feel and gather blessing even in the grief, while it looks onward to the day. The foolish pass on and are punished, harden themselves and perish in unbelief. “Wherefore dost thou forget us forever?—forsake us for a length of days?” (Ver. 20.) But there is no despair, though the way was then dark before the true light shone; for the heart pleads, “Turn thou us unto thee, O Jehovah, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. For certainly thou hast utterly rejected us, thou hast been exceedingly wroth with us.” (Ver. 21, 22.) To own our own sins and God's judgment is the constant effect of the Spirit's work in the heart, the sure pledge of coming and better blessing in store for us from the God of all grace.

Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:1-21

This strain differs, as in the triple alliteration of its structure, so also in its more distinctly personal plaintiveness. The prophet expresses his own sense of sorrow, no longer representing Zion but speaking for himself, while at the same time his grief is bound up with the people, and none the less because he was an object of derision and hatred to them for his love to them in faithfulness to Jehovah. Other prophets may have been exempted for special ends of God, but none tasted the bitterness of Israel's portion more keenly than Jeremiah. His desire is that others should bear the grief of the people's state as here expressed for the heart in order to final comfort and blessing from God. In the opening verses he tells out his experiences in trouble. “I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.” (Ver. 1-3.) He owns it to be from Jehovah's hand and rod. Indignation was gone forth from God against Israel, and a true-hearted prophet was the last one to screen himself or wish it. There was affliction; this too in darkness, not light; and again with oft-recurring visitation of His hand.
Next (ver. 4-6) Jeremiah recounts his wearing away; the preparations of Jehovah against him; and his evidently doomed estate. “My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travel. He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.” (Ver. 4-6.)
In verses 7-9, the prophet shows that his portion was not only an imprisonment with heavy chain, but with the awful aggravation that entreaty and prayer could not avail to effect deliverance, the way being fenced, not to protect but to exclude and baffle.
Then Jeremiah draws imagery from the animal kingdom to tell how God spared him in nothing. “He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.” (Ver. 10-12.)
Nor does he content himself with telling us how he had been the object of divine attack, as game to the hunter, but lets us see that the mockery of his brethren was not the least part of his trial and bitterness. “He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.” (Ver. 13-15.)
Inwardly and outwardly there was every sign of disappointment and humiliation; and expectation of improved circumstances cut off even from Him who is the believer's one resource. “He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from Jehovah. (Ver. 16-18.)
Yet there is the very point of change. From verse 19 he spreads out all before Jehovah, whom he asks to remember it; and from the utter prostration of his soul he begins to conceive confidence. “Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to any mind, therefore have I hope.” (Ver. 19-21.) It is not Christ, but assuredly the Spirit of Christ leading on an afflicted and broken heart. Weeping may endure for a night; but joy cometh in the morning.
In what sense then are we to account for language so strong uttered by a holy man, and this not about the persecutions of strangers or the enmity of the Jews, but mostly indeed about Jehovah's ways with him? Certainly not what Calvin and the mass of commentators before and since make of it, as if it were the pressure of the hand of God on the sufferers as Christians when their minds were in a state of confusion and their lips uttered much that is intemperate. Such an interpretation does little honor to God, not to speak of Jeremiah, and makes the Spirit to be a reporter, not merely of a few words or deeds which betray the earthen vessel in its weakness, but of outpourings considerable and minute, which, according to such a view, would consist of scarce anything but complaints spoken according to the judgment of the flesh under feelings so little moderated as to let fall too often things worthy of blame. Can such a view with such results satisfy a thoughtful child of God, who understands the gospel?
I believe, on the contrary, that the language is not hyperbolical, but the genuine utterance of a sensitive heart in the midst of the crushing calamities of Israel, or rather now also of Judah and Jerusalem; that they are the sorrows of one who loved the people according to God, who suffered with them all the more because they did not feel and be did that it was Jehovah Himself who was behind and above their miseries and shame, inflicting all because of their sins, with the added and yet keener fact of his own personal and poignant grief because of what his prophetic office exposed him to, not so much from the Chaldeans as from the people of God, his brethren after the flesh. It was in no way the expression of his own relation to God as a saint or consequently of God's feelings towards himself individually; it was the result of being called of God to take part in Israel for Him at a time so corrupt and so calamitous. I am far from meaning that personally Jeremiah did not know what failure was in that awful crisis. It is plain from his own prophecy that his timidity did induce him to sanction or allow on one occasion the deceit of another, adopting if not inventing it. But he seems to have been, take him all in all, a rare man, even among the holy line of the prophets; and, though morbidly acute in his feelings by nature, singularly sustained of God with as little sympathy from others as ever fell to the lot of a servant of God among His people. Even Elijah's experience fell far short of his, both on the side of the people's wickedness among whom lay his ministry, and on the score of suffering inwardly and outwardly as a prophet who shared all the chastening which the righteous indignation heaped on his guilty people, with his own affliction to boot as a rejected prophet. He appears indeed in this to have the most nearly approached our blessed Lord, though certainly there was a climax in His case peculiar to Himself, hardly more in the intensely evil and degraded state of Jerusalem then than in the perfection with which He fathomed and felt all before God as one who had deigned to be of them and their chief, their Messiah, who must therefore have so much the deeper interest and the truer sense of what they deserved as a people from God through the instrumentality of their enemies. As a fact this came on them soon after under the last and most terrible siege by Titus; but Jesus went beforehand through all before the cross as well as on it, this apart from making atonement, with which nothing but the densest ignorance could confound it, and mere malice attack others for avoiding its own palpable error.

Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:22-42

There is no doubt, I think, that the ground of hope which the prophet lays to heart, as he said in verse 21, is stated in the following verses: “It is of Jehovah's mercies that we are not consumed, because his mercies fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Jehovah is my portion; therefore will I hope in him.” The last clause confirms the thought that verse 21 is anticipative, and that here the spring is touched.
For the turn given by the Targum, and the older versions, save the Vulgate, namely, “The mercies of Jehovah are not consumed, for his compassions fail not,” I see no sufficient reason, though Calvin considers this sense more suitable. The Latin and our own version seem to me preferable, not only as being clearer but as giving greater prominence to the persons of His people, and yet maintaining in the last clause what the others spread over both clauses. His mercies then have no end; “they are renewed every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” It is a goodly portion without doubt, though unbelief thinks it nothing and pines after some one to shew any good after a tangible sort, the corn and wine and oil of this creation. But to have Him who has all things and who is Himself infinitely more than all He has is beyond comparison a better portion, as he must own who by grace believes it.
“Jehovah is good to them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that one should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Confident expectation is thus cherished, while an illusive profession of waiting for Him is detected and judged. For though a careless spirit might pretend to wait for Him, could it be thought of such a one that he is a soul which seeks Him! Activity is implied in this. The next clause asserts the value of patient looking to Him. But it is not tolerable to infer that we err in looking for the continual light of God's favor. For to this redemption entitles us; and Christ is risen the spring and pattern of life in resurrection, on which the Father ever looks with complacency. The last good here contemplated is that one bear the yoke in his youth. Subjection to God's will and to the trials He sends is ever blessed, and this from tender years.
“He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.” Thus God's ways are accepted in silence; and humiliation is complete unto death in conscience, yet not without hope; and man's contemptuous persecution and reproach are submitted to.
“For Jehovah will not cast off forever: but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Hope is thus confirmed, without which indeed there is no power of endurance any more than of comfort. His judicial chastenings of Israel are measured and will have an end, as is equally true of His righteous government of ourselves now.
The next triplet is peculiar in its structure, each verse beginning with the infinitive, as is fairly presented in the common Authorized Version. “To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, to turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most high, to subvert a man in his cause Jehovah, approveth not.” They are acts of oppression, cruelty, and wrong: should the Lord not see this? Certainly they have no sanction from Him.
The utter ignorance of the future on man's part is next set before us. “Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when Jehovah commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” All is plainly declared by God. But complainers are never satisfied nor otherwise right. It were better to complain of ourselves, yea every man because of his sins.
Then in verses 40-42 self-judgment is the word of exhortation. “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to Jehovah. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned.” It was just but tremendous thus to find no sign of pardon in His ways.

Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:43-66

NEXT the prophet sets forth without disguise or attenuation the ways of God's displeasure with His people. This was true; and it was right both to feel and to own it, though the owning it to such a God makes it far more painful. “Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us; thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud that our prayer should not pass through. Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people.” (Ver. 43-45.) There are times when it does not become the saint to seek a deprecation of a chastening—where, if prayer were ignorantly so made, it were a mercy that it should not be heard. And so it was for Jerusalem then. The divine sentence must take its course, however truly God would prove His care of the godly under such sorrowful circumstances.
Then in verses 46-48 he expresses his sense of the reproach heaped on them by their enemies; so that between inward fear and outward desolation the wretchedness was unparalleled. “All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction. Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people.” Only those could know it who had been favored of God as they had been; only one who knew Him as Jeremiah could feel and tell it out as he does. It is but to be expected that some should feel his lamentations to be excessive, as others do the glowing anticipations of the prophets; faith would receive and appreciate both, without criticizing either.
In the next stanza he repeats the words of the last in order to bring Jehovah in. Faith does not hinder but increases grief because of the deplorable state of that which is near to God, when its state is so evil as to be the object of His judgments; yet it is assured that such grief is not unavailing but that He will surely intervene. “Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission, till Jehovah look down, and behold from heaven. Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city.” (Ver. 49-51.)
In verses 52-54 the prophet sets forth by various figures the calamities which fall on the Jews from their enemies. “Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause. They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.” They were no more than as a bird before skilful fowlers, as one shut up in dungeons secured by a stone overhead, as one actually overwhelmed in waters rolling over him.
But prayer may be and has been proved effectual even in their distresses; and so the following verses show as with Jeremiah. “I called upon Thy name, O Jehovah, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee; thou saidst, Fear not.” (Ver. 55-57.)
And here it may be as well to point out the danger of those who cite Psa. 22:1, as an ordinary saint's experience, despising or at least failing to use the lesson scripture gives us, that those words suited Jesus on the cross, and certainly no Christian since. He was thus forsaken then that we might never be. It is not then true that the believer under any circumstance is forsaken of God. Jesus only could say in the fullness of the truth, both “My God” and “Why hast thou forsaken me?” And even He never did nor could, I believe, have said these words save as atoning for sin. To suppose that, because David wrote the words, he must have said them as his own experience, is to make the Psalms of private interpretation, instead of recognizing the power of the Spirit who inspired them. Psa. 16 might as well or better be David's experience; yet it needs little discrimination to see that both in their full import belong to Christ exclusively, but in wholly different circumstances.
“O Jehovah, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life. O Jehovah, thou hast seen my wrong; judge thou my cause. Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me.” (Ver. 58-60.) The prophet is confident that He will appear for vindication and deliverance. The deep and deserved humiliation put on His people does not weaken his assurance or stifle his cry. On the one hand, if He has seen the wrong of the righteous, He would judge his cause; on the other, He had seen all the foe's vengeance and imaginations against him.
This is repeated in the next verses, in connection with what Jehovah had heard. “Thou hast heard their reproach, O Jehovah, and all their imaginations against me: the lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day. Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their music.” (Ver. 61-63.) At all times throughout their daily life his sorrow was their desired object and liveliest pleasure.
In the closing strain the prophet prays according to the righteous government of God for the earth. “Render unto them a recompense, O Jehovah, according to the work of their hands. Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them. Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of Jehovah.” (Ver. 64-66.) It is no light thing in God's eye that His enemies should find only a matter for mirth in the sufferings and sorrows of those who were under His mighty hand. If the righteous are thus saved with difficulty, what will it be when judgment falls on the ungodly? Even under the gospel we may love and should rejoice in the prospect of the Lord's appearing, though we know what fiery indignation must consume the adversaries. Here of course the prayer is according to a Jewish measure, though none the less just. We are called to higher and heavenly things.

Lamentations of Jeremiah 4:1-11

It is impossible to view this sorrowful plaint of the prophet as merely historical. Nothing which had ever occurred in the way of disaster or humiliation at all approached the picture of desolation here described. The Spirit of prophecy is therefore forecasting the horrible abyss that awaited the beloved but guilty people.
“How the gold is become dim! the most fine gold is changed! The sacred stones are thrown down at the top of every street! The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how they are esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter.” Who could say that God screened or spared the iniquity of Israel? The most exalted in rank, dignity, and office were those who made their affliction most conspicuous. Could the most obdurate conscience in Jerusalem doubt whose hand had inflicted such reverses, whatever the instrument employed?
Hence the prophet, as he is growingly solemn in his glances at the uttermost distress, so is he calm but the more complete in setting it forth. It is as it were the evil all out, the leper white from head to feet, whose very extremity assures of God's opportunity to interfere both for the Jew and against the adversaries more especially such as ought to pity Jerusalem in the day of her calamity.
That the Chaldean foe should be bitter in reproach and cruel in punishment was not wonderful; but alas! the chosen nation's cup was not full of the indignity they must drink till they were the bitterest, out of sheer want and woe, against their own kin. “Even the dragons [or jackals] draw out the breast, they suckle their young: the daughter of my people [is] cruel like the ostriches in the wilderness.” It is of the last bird we read in Job 39:14-17, “which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmth them in the dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers; her labor is in vain without fear; because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding.”
The sense seems to me certain, though one may not say indisputable, seeing that so sensible a commentator as Calvin contrives to extract a different meaning. He understands the clause to mean that the daughter of the people had come to a savage or cruel one; and hence that whelps of serpents were more kindly dealt with than the Jews. The people had to do with nothing but cruelty, there being no one to succor them in their miseries. Thus the force would be, not that the people are accused of cruelty in not nourishing their children, but that they were given up to the most relentless of enemies. But I see no force in his reasoning which appears to be founded on unacquaintance with the Hebrew idiom, the masculine gender being used for emphasis where formally we might have expected the feminine, as not infrequently happens. Hence there is no real ground for going on with the allusion to the ostrich, as if the prophet meant that the Jews were so destitute of every help that they were banished into solitary places beyond the sight of men.
The true meaning is far more expressive and sets forth the awful state of the Jews, when not enemies only but those who should have been their own tenderest protectors were destitute of feelings found in the fiercest brutes, and only comparable for heartlessness to creatures of the most exceptional hardness and folly. Such were the mothers of Salem in the outpouring of Jeremiah's grief.
Accordingly in verse 4 he pursues the case. “The tongue of the suckling cleaveth to its palate for thirst; infants ask bread—none breaketh [it] for them.” Such was the pitiable state of children from the tenderest days upward. Was it any better with their elders? “They that fed daintily perish in the streets; they who were brought up on scarlet embrace dunghills.” (Ver. 5.) Parents and other adults were famishing and dying of hunger, and this gladly as it were on the dunghill instead of the splendid couches on which they used to recline when weary of pleasure itself.
Next the prophet draws out the proof that the vengeance under which the people were worse than that of Sodom, especially in this, that the notorious city of the plain was overwhelmed in a sudden blow of destruction, whereas that of Jerusalem was prolonged and most varied agony. “For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.” (Verse 6.) The “hands” of man added to the soreness of the Jewish chastening: Sodom was dealt with by God without any human intervention. Compare the feeling of David when he brought to the verge of ruin the people whom God had entrusted him to feed. (2 Sam. 24:13, 14.)
Nor does any consecration to God avail to shelter: so complete the ruin, so unsparing the vengeance let. loose on every class and every soul. “Her Nazarites were brighter than snow, they were whiter than milk; they were more ruddy in body than rubies (or coral), their cutting (shape) of sapphire. Their aspect is darker than dusk, they are not known in the streets; their skin cleaveth to their bones, it is dried up like a stick.” Nothing availed in presence of these searching desolating judgments. The blessing which was once so marked on those separated was now utterly and manifestly fled, yea, wretchedness as under His ban had taken its place. And so truly was it so, that he proceeds to show how but a choice of ills awaited the Jew, a violent death or a life yet more horrible. “Happier the slain with the sword than the slain with hunger; because these pine away pierced through for the fruits of the field, i.e., for the want of them. For it is very forced to take it as Calvin does, pierced through by the fruits of the earth, as if the productions of the earth became swords.
So obliterated were all traces of compassion or even natural feeling that, as we are next told, “the hands of pitiful women boiled their children; they became their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people.” (Ver. 10.) Nothing could account for such barbarity but that which he adds immediately after (ver. 11): “Jehovah hath spent his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion which hath devoured her foundations.” What can be more thorough than to devour foundations? So it was declared of God against Jerusalem for their heinous sins. Impossible to escape His hand stretched out against His own: how deep their sin and vain to deny it!

Lamentations of Jeremiah 4:12-22

Verse 12 introduces a new topic, which gives remarkable vividness to the prophet's picture of Jerusalem's desolation. It was not the king of Judah who was surprised at the taking of his capital, but the kings of the earth who treated it as incredible that they could force it; it was not the Jews merely who fondly dreamed that their city was impregnable, but all the inhabitants of the world gave up the hope as vain. “The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.” (Ver. 12.)
This prepares the way for a fresh exposure of the real causes of Jerusalem's ruin. Their sins were so glaring, where they were most odious and offensive, that God must have denied Himself if He had not brought His people down to the dust and scattered them to the ends of the earth. “Because of the sins of her prophets, the iniquities of her priests that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, they wandered blind in the streets, they were defiled with blood, so that men could not touch their garments.” (Ver. 13, 14.) The greater the privilege in having such servants of Jehovah, the more distressing that they should pollute His name and people.
There is no reason that I know for Calvin's version of the last clause of verse 14: “They were defiled with blood, because they could not but touch their garments.” It seems indeed an ungrounded departure from the common and correct translation, both in giving the reason where it should be rather a statement of consequence, and in needlessly supposing a particle which brings in a very different idea. Nor do I see any just meaning in what results; for where would be the force of saying that they were defiled with blood because they could not but touch their garments? One could understand pollution from such contact, but hardly with blood from it. As the clause stands in the common version, the import appears to be that wandering blindly in the streets they defiled themselves in the worst way possible, with blood, so that their very garments must pollute any who might touch them. So universal was the defilement of the holy city that the clothes of the in. habitants could not be touched without contamination to others. There was as it were a fretting leprosy in the whole body politic. “Depart, unclean, they called out to them; depart, depart, touch not. So they flee away and also wander. They say among the nations, they shall dwell no more [there].” Thus most graphically does the prophet show that the exile of the Jew from the land was inevitable and of another character from an ordinary deportation of a people through the cruelty of a conqueror or the jealousy of an ambitious rival nation. It was in vain for the Jews to flatter themselves that it was God employing them for a season as a missionary people: God will send them forth; a few preparatorily to the kingdom, and when it is set up yet more largely as a nation. But here it is a people once holy, now profane, not honored in a gracious service and a grave trust, but punished for their dishonor of His law and sanctuary, and hence outcasts so ignominious that they flee themselves like lepers, proclaiming their own defilement and misery. So complete is the ruin that among the nations it is said, They shall no more sojourn in their land and city.
But this is an error. Impossible that God should be defeated by Satan, good by evil, in the long run. Appearances in this world ever give such expectations; and unbelieving man is as ready to credit them as to doubt God. But in the midst of judgment God remembers mercy; and therefore the more unsparing He might be, the more assuredly He would turn again with deliverance for His own name's sake. “The face [i.e. anger] of Jehovah hath divided them, he will no more regard them: they respected not the faces of the priests, they spared not the elders.” (Ver. 16.) Undoubtedly their overthrow was complete, and the contempt of the enemy so much the better because their success was beyond their own hopes; for there had ever been a lurking fear that God would avenge their wrongs and once more espouse the cause of His people. But now that He gave them up to the will of His adversaries, their pleasure was to wound them to the quick in the persons of the most honored sons of Zion.
And what could the prophet say in extenuation? He could only add here another heavy fault: “As yet for us [i.e., while we yet remained], our eyes failed for our vain help; on our watchtowers we watched for a nation that could not save us.” (Ver. 17.) They turned with longing desires after Egypt against the Chaldeans, instead of turning to God in repentance of heart, spite of reiterated warning from His prophets not to trust in an arm of flesh, least of all in that broken reed.
But no: sentence was passed by God, incensed with the unwearied evils of His people; and the fiercest of the heathen were let loose as executors of His wrath upon them. “They hunted our steps, so that we could not walk in our streets; our end was near, our days were fulfilled, for our end had come. Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.” (Ver. 18, 19.) No mountain was steep, no desert lonely, enough to protect the guilty fugitives. It was God who was punishing them by means most just, yet to them most painful, for their revolt from Himself.
Alas! the remnant returned from Babylon have only added another and incomparably worse sin in the rejection of the Messiah and the refusal of the gospel, so that wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
But even then how lamentable the desolation! “The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of Jehovah, was taken in their pits, of whom was said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.” (Ver. 20.) It is of course Zedekiah who is alluded to. They had hoped in his office, whatever his demerits personally, forgetting that all the honor God bestowed on it was in view of Christ, who alone shall bear the glory. But their hearts were in the present, not really for Messiah; and they had only to lie down disappointed in sorrow.
Did Edom then taunt their fallen brother in the day of his distress? Indeed they did it with murderous treacherous hatred too. Hence the apostrophe of the prophet: “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.” (Ver. 21, 22.) Did they say in the day of Jerusalem, Down with it, down with it to the very foundation? They too must be brought to shame. If the Chaldean swept the holy land, the daughter of Edom must await no less when her day came to be carried away captive for her sins.

Lamentations of Jeremiah: Introduction

It is no uncommon thought now, as of old, to assume that the book on which we are now entering consists of the Lamentations written by the prophet on the occasion of Josiah's death. (2 Chron. 35:25.) If a divine testimony affirmed this, it would be our place to believe it: to that no one pretends, still there is the secret assumption that what Jeremiah composed in sorrow for Josiah must be in the Bible, and hence must be this book. But there is no sufficient reason to conclude that all the writings of prophets were inspired for the permanent use of God's people: rather is there good ground to conclude that they were not. Hence we are free to examine the character of the work before us, not to question its divine authority but to ascertain as far as may be its aim and the subjects of which it treats. But, if so, the contents themselves are adverse to the idea; for the distressing prostration of Jerusalem, not the death of the pious king cut down so young, is clearly in view. The description of the state of the city, sanctuary, and people does not accord with Josiah's death; and even the king, whose humiliation is named (chap. 2:9), could not possibly be Josiah, who was slain in battle, instead of being among the Gentiles and therefore in captivity. It was no doubt Jehoiachin whose varied lot we can easily trace by comparing the prophecy and 2 Kings 24; 25. All the circumstances of that time tally with the bewailings here.
That the Spirit of prophecy dictated the book cannot be justly doubted, though it may not have direct predictions like the former work from which in the Hebrew Bible it has long been severed as to place, though not so in the days of Josephus. Nevertheless, the distinctness of object, tone, and manner is sufficiently marked to justify our viewing it as a separate work of the same writer, Jeremiah. It was morally good that we should have not only predictions of the deep trouble coming on the house of David and Jerusalem, but also the outpouring of a godly heart broken by anguish for the people of God, and the more because they deserved all that fell upon them through their enemies at God's hand. We little think what such an one as Jeremiah must have felt to see the temple destroyed, the holy service suspended, the king and priests and bulk of Judah carried off by their idolatrous conqueror, compelled to own also that their desolation was most righteous because of their sins. Even when he had survived the events which proved the value of his own slighted prophecies, he was inspired to pour forth these elegies which were no vain complaints as we shall see, but a spreading out of the woes of the city and people before a God whose compassion and faithfulness are alike infinite. He vindicates God in what He had done to unhappy Jerusalem. He places before God the utter ruin of the people, civilly and religiously, charging the false prophets with luring them into the pit by their false hood and flattery, but exhorting the people to repentance. He shows his own sense of sorrow deeper than that of any other, as indeed he both suffered peculiarly from the Jews themselves before the crash came, and the Spirit of Christ that was in him gave him to realize all, where others nerved themselves to brave it with the mailed armor of insensibility and indomitable pride; yet does he cherish hope in what God is, who loves to lift up the fallen and abase the proud. He contrasts their present misery, because of the sins of their priests and prophets, with their former prosperity, but declares that an end will be to Zion's punishment, but none to Edom's. Lastly, he prayerfully spreads out all their own calamities before Jehovah; his only confidence too is in Him who can turn us to Himself, whatever may be His just wrath.
The form is very notable; save in the last chapter, all are acrostic or at least alphabetic. De Wette, with the usual arrogance of a rationalist, pronounces this of itself as an offspring of the later vitiated taste. But this he must do in defiance of the plain fact that those admirable and even early Psa. 25; 34; 37 are similarly constructed, not to speak of the wonderful Psa. 119 and several others in the same fifth book of the Psalter (111., 112., 145.). Those who pronounce these psalms cold, feeble, and flat, as well as unconnected, simply betray their own lack of all just appreciation, not to speak of reverence which we may not expect from men who deny them in any true sense to be of God. The first, second, and fourth chapters are so written that each verse begins with one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet in due succession, save that in the second and fourth follows instead of preceding E; and the same transposition occurs in chapter iii., where we have three verses instead of single ones, which so commence; and hence there are in it 66 verses. Another peculiarity is to be noticed, that each verse (except 1:7, 2:19) is a sort of triplet in chapters 1, 2, and 3. Chapter 4 is characterized by couplets (save ver. 15); and a singular structure is traceable in chapter v., save that it does not begin with the letters of the alphabet, though it consists of twenty-two verses. “Difference of authorship” is the ready but monotonous cry of dark skepticism: others as despairing of intelligence impute it to forgetfulness, a third to accident! The propriety of the change in what throughout is a prayer and confession to Jehovah must be apparent to the spiritual mind. The alphabetic form may have had a mnemonic object in view. For pathos the book as a whole is unequaled.

Law and the Walk of the Christian

According to scripture, law must always have its effect as declared in the word of God, always necessarily upon whoever is under it; but then that effect is always, according to scripture, condemnation and death, and nothing else, upon a being who has in him a lust or a fault. Thus it knows no mercy, but must pronounce a curse upon every one who does not continue in all things written in it; and hence whosoever it of the works of the law is under a curse. Now, in fact, the Christian has sin in him as a human being, and, alas! fails; but if law applies to him, he is under the curse; for it brings a curse on every one who sins. Do I enfeeble its authority? I maintain it, and establish it in the fullest way. I ask, Have you to say to the law? Then you are under a curse: no escaping, no exemption. Its authority and claim must be maintained—its righteous exactions made good. Have you failed? Yes, you have. You are under the curse. No, you say, but I am a Christian; the law is still binding upon me, but I am not under a curse. Has not the law pronounced a curse upon one who fails? Yes. You are under it; you have failed, and are not cursed after all! Its authority is not maintained; for you are under it, it has cursed you, and you are not cursed. If you had said, I was under it and failed, and Christ died and bore its curse; and now, as redeemed, I am on another footing, not