Bible Treasury: Volume 9

Table of Contents

1. Christ Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 8
2. Correspondence Rev. 7 (to the Editor of the Bible Treasury.)
3. Be Ye Steadfast, Immoveable. (1 Cor. 15:58.).
4. Review: A Scriptural Examination of Certain Articles in Religious Creeds. By John G. Marshall, Halifax (Nova Scotia): printed by William Macnab, 11, Prince Street; 1872.
5. Correspondence.
6. Scripture Queries and Answers.
7. Notes on John 1:14 - 18
8. Notes on John 1:29-34
9. X. Y. on Rev. 7
10. A Letter on a Serious Question Connected With the Irish Education Measures of 1832.
11. Thoughts on Rom. 6-8
12. Notes on Ezekiel: Introduction
13. Notes on Luke 18:35-43
14. Notes on Romans 11:1-10
15. All Things Are of God: Part 1
16. Imitators of God
17. Brief Thoughts on Philippians 1
18. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 1
19. Recent Baptismal Agitation: Correction
20. Scripture Queries and Answers: Remission of Sins
21. Printing
22. Printing
23. Notes on Ezekiel 1-3
24. Notes on Luke 19:1-27
25. The Blind Man and Lazarus
26. Notes on Romans 11:11-24
27. All Things Are of God: Part 2
28. Brief Thoughts on Philippians 2
29. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 2
30. To Correspondents
31. Printing
32. Printing
33. Notes on Matthew 1-3
34. Notes on Ezekiel 4-7
35. Coming of the Lord Prominent in All Epistles of the NT
36. Notes on Luke 19:28-48
37. Notes on Romans 11:25-26
38. Brief Thoughts on Philippians 3
39. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 3
40. Printing
41. New Translation Psalms 42-44
42. The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 43
43. The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 44
44. Notes on Ezekiel 8-9
45. Fragments Gathered Up: Judgment Proving State
46. Notes on Matthew 4
47. Notes on Luke 20:1-40
48. Notes on Romans 12:1-8
49. Missionary Object Not to Hinder Acceptance of Truth
50. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 4
51. What Is the Unity of the Church? (Duplicate): Part 1
52. Christ Tempted and Sympathizing
53. Printing
54. Printing
55. The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 45
56. New Translation Psalms 45-47
57. The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 47
58. Notes on Ezekiel 10-11
59. Notes on Matthew 5-7
60. Notes on Luke 20:41 and 21:1-4
61. Notes on Romans 12:9-21
62. Brief Thoughts on Philippians 4
63. What Is the Unity of the Church? (Duplicate): Part 2
64. When the Son of Man Cometh Will He Find Faith
65. In Christ and Christ in Us
66. Scripture Query and Answer: Citation of Jeremiah or Zechariah?
67. Printing
68. New Translation Psalms 48
69. Notes on Ezekiel 12
70. Notes on Matthew 8
71. Notes on Luke 21:5-38
72. Notes on Romans 13
73. The Counsels of God in Grace and Glory: Part 1
74. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 5
75. Councils, Congress, and Social Science: Part 1
76. The Archdeacon of Durham on Certain Religious Errors
77. Printing
78. Printing
79. New Translation Psalms 49
80. Notes on Ezekiel 13
81. Notes on Luke 22:1-34
82. Notes on Romans 14:1-12
83. The Counsels of God in Grace and Glory: Part 2
84. Councils, Congress, and Social Science: Part 2
85. Difference Between Christianity and the Future Kingdom
86. Modern Millenarianism
87. Peculiar Views
88. Scripture Queries and Answers: Galatians 2:16
89. Printed
90. Notes on Ezekiel 14
91. Notes on Luke 22:35-71
92. Notes on Romans 14:13-23
93. Joshua and Caleb: Thoughts on the Book of Joshua, Part 1
94. The Pope and the Scriptures
95. Scripture Query and Answer: Partakers of the Divine Nature
96. Printing
97. Published
98. Printed
99. Notes on Ezekiel 15
100. Notes on Matthew 9
101. Notes on Luke 23:1-38
102. Notes on Romans 15:1-13
103. Christ Leading Into Relationship With the Father
104. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 6
105. Joshua and Caleb: Thoughts on the Book of Joshua, Part 2
106. Printed
107. Notes on Ezekiel 16
108. Notes on Matthew 10
109. Notes on Luke 23:39-54
110. Notes on Romans 15:14-33
111. The Book of Revelation Compared with the Gospel of John
112. Characteristics of John's Testimony
113. A Thought on the Revelation
114. Correspondence: Character and Action of Laodicea
115. Fragments Gathered Up: Death for the Believer
116. Bishop Strossmayer's Speech
117. Erratum
118. Published
119. Printed
120. Notes on Ezekiel 17
121. Notes on Matthew 11
122. Notes on Luke 24:1-27
123. Notes on Romans 16:1-16
124. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 7
125. Some Observations on the Scripture Lessons of the Board of Education: Part 1
126. David Dancing Before the Ark
127. To a Sister and a Brother in the Lord on Their Marriage
128. To the Editor of "The Bible Treasury"
129. Fragments Gathered Up: Time of the Gentiles
130. Fragments Gathered Up: Psalm 40
131. Fragments Gathered Up: Psalm 68
132. Fragments Gathered Up: Psalm 72
133. Fragments Gathered Up: Psalm 77
134. Fragments Gathered Up: Redemption
135. Fragments Gathered Up: Joel 2
136. Erratum
137. Published
138. Printed
139. New Translation Psalm 50
140. Notes on Ezekiel 18-19
141. Notes on Matthew 12
142. Notes on Luke 24:28-53
143. Notes on Romans 16:17-27
144. Thoughts on Ephesians 4
145. Some Observations on the Scripture Lessons of the Board of Education: Part 2
146. What Is a Sect?
147. Daniel Mann Correspondence
148. Published
149. Printed
150. Hints on Genesis 1-3
151. Fragment: The Cross
152. Hints on the Sacrifices in Leviticus: Chapters 1-3
153. Notes on Ezekiel 20:1-44
154. Notes on Matthew 13:1-35
155. Notes on John: Introduction
156. The Robber Saved
157. On Atonement
158. Man Not Only Lost Life but God
159. Published
160. Printed
161. Hints on Genesis 3
162. Hints on the Sacrifices in Leviticus: Chapters 4-7
163. Notes on Ezekiel 20:45 and Ezekiel 21
164. Notes on Matthew 13:36-58
165. Notes on John 1:1-13
166. Thoughts on the Epistles to the Seven Churches Viewed Practically: Part 1
167. Daniel Mann
168. Queries and Answers on Church Matters
169. Queries and Answers on Church Matters
170. Queries and Answers on Church Matters
171. Published
172. Printed
173. Hints on Genesis 3-4
174. Hints on the Day of Atonement
175. Notes on Ezekiel 22
176. Notes on Matthew 14
177. The Prodigal With the Father
178. Thoughts on the Epistles to the Seven Churches Viewed Practically: Part 2
179. Correspondence: Matthew 27:5
180. Fragment: Greek
181. Fragment: Baptism
182. Published
183. Printed
184. Hints on Genesis 6-9
185. Hints on the Tabernacle
186. Notes on Ezekiel 23
187. Notes on Matthew 15
188. Notes on John 1:19-28
189. Thoughts on the Epistles to the Seven Churches Viewed Practically: Part 3
190. Scripture Queries and Answers
191. Published
192. Printed
193. Hints on Genesis 10-14
194. Hints on the Feasts of Jehovah
195. On the Covering of the Holy Vessels
196. Notes on Ezekiel 24
197. Fragments: Deuteronomy 31:25 and Acts 20:17, 29
198. Fragments: Age of the Messiah
199. Fragments: Hindrance to Obedience
200. Fragments: Security of Salvation
201. Fragments: Sure of Salvation
202. Fragments: Heretic
203. Fragments: The Flesh
204. Fragments: Morally Dead
205. Fragments: Sufferings for Christ
206. Fragments: 2 Corinthians 4:12
207. Fragments: Justification
208. Fragments: Romans 5:19
209. Published
210. Printed
211. Hints on Genesis 15-21
212. Notes on Ezekiel 25
213. Notes on John 1:35-45
214. True Worshippers
215. Dr. Bonar on Christ's Work: Correction, Part 1
216. Fragment: The Heavens Opened
217. Published
218. Hints on Genesis 22-50
219. Notes on Ezekiel 26
220. Notes on John 1:46-52
221. Worship in Spirit and in Truth
222. Dr. Bonar on Christ's Work: Correction, Part 2
223. The Breaking of Bread
224. Published
225. Printed
226. Notes on Ezekiel 27
227. Notes on John 2:1-11
228. Thoughts on Titus 2:9-15
229. Helps and Hindrances to Worship
230. Present Salvation
231. Scripture Queries and Answers
232. Published
233. Printed
234. Notes on Ezekiel 28
235. Notes on John 2:12-22
236. Short Introduction to Romans
237. The Two Rich Men
238. Is Modern Christianity a Civilized Heathenism?
239. Letter on Mr. J.P.S.'s Holiness Through Faith
240. Published
241. Printed
242. New Translation Psalm 51
243. Notes on Ezekiel 29
244. Notes on John 2:23-25
245. Cleansing and Deliverance
246. On Prayer
247. Elements of Prophecy: Chapter 1
248. The Sovereignty of God and the Responsibility of Man
249. Review: The True Theory of the Greek Aorist
250. Mr. A. Moody Stuart on Brethren
251. John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 10
252. Published
253. Printed
254. Notes on Ezekiel 30
255. Notes on John 3:1-10
256. Elements of Prophecy: 2. Historical School
257. The Call of the Bride
258. The Christian Hope Consistent With Events Revealed in Prophecy: Part 1
259. Printed
260. New Translation Psalms 52-54
261. The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 53
262. The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 54
263. Notes on Ezekiel 31
264. Notes on John 3:11
265. Christian Life in the Spirit
266. The Christian Hope Consistent With Events Revealed in Prophecy: Part 2
267. Published
268. Printed
269. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 10
270. Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 9
271. Prayers in Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21
272. Answer to X.Y. on Revelation 7
273. Answer to X.Y. on Revelation 7

Christ Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 8

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
It is confessed by Dr. J. B. that the sense brought out is self-consistent and not incompatible with any of the facts or doctrines of revelation. He only complains of the mode of interpretation as liable to objections. 1 shall show however that, far from being really insurmountable, every one of these objections is destitute of weight. Flesh and spirit are opposed; though in the same case, it does not follow that they must have the same preposition supplied in English. This would not be necessary if the same Greek preposition (which is far stronger or more precise) accompanied each of the two opposed terms. Thus, in Rom. 4:25, two clauses stand in antithesis with one another; whence many have been allured to argue, like our author here, for a necessarily similar force of διά with each accusative. But this is an error. For the former clause means that our Lord Jesus was delivered because of our offenses; the second, that He was raised again on account of the justifying of us (that is, in order to it): for justifying cannot be severed from faith, as the very next verse shows. (Rom. 5:1.) Indeed the notion of justification before faith would introduce nothing but confusion and false doctrine, not to speak of the evil in practice which naturally results. The Authorized Version however has not rendered ill in giving “for” with both clauses, the English preposition “for” being as ambiguous as the corresponding Greek here.
Here similarly there is no necessity to vary the English by supplying in the flesh and by the Spirit, but, if there were, it was open to the translators to have done so. The relation of the dative is not so contracted or consequently so uniform as to demand the exactly same form of representing it. Besides we have to take into account the idiom of the English tongue, which does not by any means conform always to the Greek. The reader is already aware that “in” or “in respect of” may be given equally in both the clauses; but the translators might legitimately enough have given “in” and “by” as they have done. Hence the rendering which develops the objection is invalid. “In His human spirit,” if it were ever so proper in itself, would require the article ™ (as in the common text). But as the best MSS expunge it, so the sense resulting from its presence would have been really an insurmountable objection, as it is impossible to apply “quicken” to the spirit of Christ, any more than to His divine nature. But, as we have seen, if one translates the latter term “by the Spirit,” it is not correct to assume that we must translate the former “by the flesh.” The alleged necessity 18 just the mistake which falsifies the reasoning of many interpreters and has mystified more readers.
Strictness of parallelism is to my mind more common in the limited scope of human thought than in the word of God, who habitually, I believe, while thus comparing or contrasting, gives a further and varying side of truth in the fullness of divine wisdom. Hence the mere technicality of the schools is sure to err in interpreting scripture. It does not follow therefore that where we see two datives balanced against each other they must both be expressions, of element, agency, or instrument, though it may be wise to avoid a greater precision in the rendering than the inspired original itself carries. At the same time such a difference is not advocated in the present instance; but, as the authorized translators rightly enough elsewhere represent διά twice by an English “for,” so “in” or “in respect of” will be found to suit both here. Consequently there is no such difficulty connected with the version or with the interpretation already given as to weaken it, still less, as some easily frightened have supposed, to convince us that it is untenable. Nor does it become the believer to hesitate because the plain meaning of scripture seems to favor a view opposed to his prejudice, though he would do well to examine closely what is really at issue with known truth. For no lie is of the truth: all that is true must be consistent. Only we must beware of confounding our limited apprehensions with the truth in all its breadth and depth.
But let us follow the reasoning a little more. If we hold the rendering “in” on both sides, there can be no doubt that “put to death” in flesh yields a simple and excellent sense. But what of “quickened in the Spirit?” Is not this equally good and as clear as the other? Strange to say, the true and plain antithesis seems to have quite escaped Dr. B., who allows us only the alternatives of “in His spirit” (which would be quite wrong as we have often shown), or “in His divine nature,” which is an impossible version and if possible obviously absurd and false, as is admitted. But why not “in the Spirit” as presenting the manner of Christ's resurrection, characterized by the Spirit in contrast with the violent close of His life in flesh, in both cases the article being excluded by presenting each as a question of principle rather than of fact? On the other hand “put to death by the flesh” is intolerable, either as the human nature of our Lord or as mankind; but there is no need to understand either if we take “by the Spirit” to mean the Holy Ghost, which to my mind is assuredly the truth, only presented in character rather than as an objective personal agent, which is quite common in Greek, though not so easily expressed in our tongue or caught by the English reader.
Nor can I for one see anything unnatural, but rather great force and beauty, in pointing out that it was in virtue of the Spirit who thus wrought in His resurrection that Christ preached by Noah in the antediluvian world; for it was of the utmost importance for the Jews, who ever craved the visible in their thoughts of the Messiah and His kingdom, to learn that it is now as of old a question of a testimony in the Spirit to be believed or slighted, and surely to be followed by judgment, as then so now. Hence too the preference to the Spirit's mind of presenting their past example as “spirits in prison” rather than as men living in flesh, which however He does also involve in their antecedent moral condition in the world when “once” or heretofore disobedient.
Such an allusion here to Gen. 6:3 appears to my mind most apt and impressive, identifying Christ with Jehovah, as is often done in these epistles. It was natural in writing to Christians of the circumcision, and comforting them, in their sufferings and the contempt of their testimony, by the evidence given to the substantial sameness of its reception from the flood till the Lord returns in glory. This passage has in no way for its immediate object a description of the results of the Lord's atoning sufferings, bright as is the witness given to them, but rather to comfort the saints in their sufferings, apt to repine as Jews might at their trials ever since they believed in the Lord Jesus. The apostle explains to them the government of God in what He permits of sorrow to His own. Faithfulness does bring present blessing; but even if suffering come for righteousness' sake, is not the saint now blessed? It is better, if God will it so, to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing; because Christ also once suffered for sins, just for unjust, that He might bring us to God. Such is the way His suffering for our sins is introduced, not a harsh interpolation of His having in the Spirit that raised Him preached of old to the impenitent antediluvians put into a statement of His atonement, but undeniable encouragement to downcast saints to go on suffering for righteousness, since it was His once for all to suffer for sins: with this, not they, but He only has to do, and it is done with-a work despised by sneering Jews who felt not their sins nor their need of grace like His. But if put to death in flesh, He was quickened in the Spirit, in whose power He had already gone and preached to the imprisoned spirits, first disobedient when the long-suffering of God waited out in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight, souls were saved through the water. They must not wonder then if few were saved now; for this has ever been a favorite taunt of unbelief, as an absent Messiah who left His own suffering would be to an incredulous Jew. So far the analogy with the times before and at the deluge is plain. So is the use of the allusion that follows; for as men were there waited on in long-suffering, it is no otherwise now; and as they are kept for a worse judgment, so will it be with such as despise the gospel. On the other hand baptism is to the believer the sign of salvation by the death and resurrection of Christ; for as He died atoningly, so we when baptized are buried with Him in those waters of death; and as He rose, we through His resurrection have what a good conscience demands, even acceptance before God by His work who is gone into heaven and is on God's right hand, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him, which, though in-visible, is far beyond the throne of David on earth and the subjection of Gentile foes, as the Jews looked for.
And what is Dr. B.'s explanation? Truly the notable one, that “a consequence of our Lord's penal, vicarious, expiatory suffering, was that He (!) became spiritually alive (!!) and powerful in a sense, and to a degree, in which He was not previously; and in which, but for these sufferings, He never could have become full of life to be communicated to dead souls, mighty to save. He was there spiritually quickened.” No wonder that Dr. B. has few to follow him in his view, though it is no worse than most others. But to be “quickened” is not to be a “quickening Spirit,” though both be true of our Lord. Neither does John 5:26 speak of the Lord in resurrection but as a man here below, the servant of His Father's glory; nor does Matt. 28:18 speak of one either quickened or quickening, but invested with authority only as Son of man in heaven and on earth. And if this be violent as to Christ, not less so is the notion that by “the spirits in prison” are meant “spiritually captive men.” A strange phrase indeed, as the author allows; stranger still if possible, though Dr. B. sees nothing perplexing in the statement, “that they were aforetime disobedient in the days of Noah;” as if it meant that Christ preached to spiritually captive men who were hard to be convinced in former times, especially in Noah's day. But this is to pervert, not to expound. If Dr. B. had been a scholar and had examined the passage, he must have seen that the absence of the article before άπειθησασι arises from the disobedience being viewed as the ground why the spirits were in prison. There is no hint of an aggregate, some part of which had been disobedient in former times. In short the view is mistaken altogether; for, instead of employing “spirits in prison” as a phrase characteristic of men in all ages, Peter speaks there of a special class, disembodied and in custody or prison because they had been once on a time disobedient in the days of Noah: not a word about their being after Christ's resurrection turned to the wisdom of the just and delivered. These steps of departure from the text emboldened Dr. B. to go farther still and contrast the multitudes that heard and knew the joyful sound with the few saved in Noah's day. “Still is he going and preaching to the 'spirits in prison;' and though all have not obeyed, yet many already have obeyed, many are obeying, many more will yet obey;” and this is a comment on 1 Peter 3:19, 20, where one prime aim is to comfort the Christian Jews subject to the taunts of their enemies on their own fewness, as compared with the masses who reject the truth of the Gospel! The saved are few alas! now as in Noah's day. There is analogy, not contrast.
But this is not all. “This view of the subject has this additional advantage, that it preserves the connection of the passage both grammatical and logical.” We have seen enough of the grammar: let us see as to the “logic.” “The words of the apostle, thus explained, plainly bear on his great practical object. 'Be not afraid, be not ashamed of suffering in a good cause, in a right spirit.' No damage comes from well-doing, or from suffering in well-doing. Christ in suffering, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, suffered for well-doing.” “For well-doing!” does the author say? Happily little logic suffices to test this view of the context; for the scripture says here, in the most pointed terms of contradiction, that Christ suffered once for sins, not for well-doing.

Correspondence Rev. 7 (to the Editor of the Bible Treasury.)

Dear Mr. Editor, An interesting question arises out of Rev. 7 Let me clear the way a little before I put the question. I take for granted that the church has been taken up; I take for granted that chapter vii. is not a continuance of the historic sequence in Revelation, but rather an episode between the sixth and the seventh seal, in which God, in His loving kindness, lifts, as it were, the veil a little, to let us know that, when the sore judgments are about to Come, His own amongst both Israel and Gentile nations are safe. How could it be otherwise? “In the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion, in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me.”
Israel and the Gentiles are the next point to clear up. I take then for granted that in verses 4-8 the twelve tribes mean the twelve tribes—Israel literal. I can neither understand those who say that they mean the “Israel of God” (meaning thereby the Christian church), nor can I feel that there is any weight in the references which they give in support of this opinion. I think that they are given under a misapprehension of Matt. 25:31-46, supposing this to be the last judgment; from not being aware that there will be a “new Jerusalem” earthly, and a “new Jerusalem” heavenly; and lastly, (which I mention last to attract notice, as I believe it to be the secret of the misinterpretation of the whole book of Revelation from chapter iv. 1, to xxii. 21,) that the church is in heaven when chapter vii. comes before us. I do not think that the expression “Israel of God” (see Alford, in loco) is ever used for the Gentile Christian church. Gal. 6:16, is adduced in proof of it. I will not now occupy your space in discussing the point further, than to say, that, even granting for a moment that this expression in Gal. 6 does mean the Christian church (which I do not admit), we cannot take one isolated expression against the weight of the universal testimony of Old and New Testaments against it. These say that Zion is Zion, Jerusalem is Jerusalem, and Israel, Israel.
But however this may be, in Rev. 7, it strikes me as impossible, for the plainest reasons, to use it in any such sense, as, in that case, verse 9, would be a mere needless repetition of chapter 20:4-8. Chapter 20:4-8, is Israel literal; chapter 10:9, the Gentiles; chapter 10:11, the church, as we have it always in this book represented by the twenty-four elders.
I take then for granted, first, that the church has been taken up; second, that verses 4-8 are the expression of God's providential care of the elect of Israel; third, verses 4-9, the same care of Gentiles (other than the risen saints) brought to the Lord by the ministry of restored and converted Israel(?) under the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in larger measure than on the day of Pentecost. I say, assuming these three several points—(though I do not see my way clear in the third except that chapter 10:9 are Gentiles,) I say, assuming these several points, does not all the above indicate that the time between the raising and taking up of the saints and the destruction of Antichrist and her host, must be larger than we (I at least) have generally supposed it to be? This chapter vii. is, in historic sequence, previous to chapter xix. Chapter 19 makes way for the millennium. Matt. 25:31-46 is the judgment of the nations (other than apostate Christendom) as to having received or rejected the testimony of Israel in behalf of the Lord Jesus.
I would ask then, when does the mission of converted Israelites to the Gentiles take place, and for how long carried on? I beg particularly to say, that I do not put this question as of any doctrinal importance, and think that every dear saint may be quite ignorant of the matter—or, having crossed his mind, he may not have come to any conclusion about it—or, having come to one, it may be contrary to one's own; I say this the rather, because I think it of very great importance that we should not make brethren offenders for any details of the kind, however interesting they may be. Yet still, at the same time, as a clear understanding of this matter would tend to clear up several points mentioned in that wonderful and blessed book, the Apocalypse, I should be glad of information on the subject. After the church has been taken up, and when Antichrist appears, I believe that the two tribes (previously restored but in unbelief, the temple built and city inhabited) will receive Him as Messiah, at the beginning of “the week,” that is, seven years. He will, in the course of the week, set up idolatry in the temple. The Jews spurning this, He will turn against them; the slaughter of Zachariah will take place to prevent their entire destruction, Messiah appears, delivers them, and destroys the host of Antichrist, consigning the leader to the lake of fire. During their seven years, I believe there will be Gentile believers and a Jewish godly remnant, many of whom will be martyred. I believe that, after Antichrist is consigned to the lake of fire, Israel, converted, will be the instrument of conversion to the nations. But when will “the great multitude which no man could number of all nations, kindred, peoples, end tongues “be brought to the Lord? The solution of this will clear up other matters to my mind, which I do not at present see clearly.
X. Y.

Be Ye Steadfast, Immoveable. (1 Cor. 15:58.).

If our hearts are not close to Christ, we are apt to get weary in the way.
All is a vain show around us; but that which is inside abides, and is true, being the life of Christ. All else goes! When the heart gets hold of this fact, it becomes (as to things around) like one taken into a house to work for the day, who performs the duties well, but passes through, instead of living in the circumstances. To Israel the cloud came down, and they stayed; it lifted up, and on they went. It was all the same to them. Why? Because had they stayed when the cloud went on, they would not have had the Lord. One may be daily at the desk for fifty years, yet with Christ the desk is only the circumstance; it is the doing God's will, making manifest the savor of Christ, which is the simple and great thing. Whether I go or you go—I stay or you stay, may that one word be realized in each of us— “steadfast, immoveable!” In whatever sphere, as matter of providence, we may be found, let the divine life be manifested—Christ manifested. This abides, all else changes, but the life remains and abides forever, ay, forever.
Not a single thing in which we have served Christ shall be forgotten. Lazy alas! we all are in service, but all shall come out that is real, and what is real is Christ in us, and this only. The appearance now may be very little—not much even in a religious view, but what is real will abide. Our hearts clinging closely to Christ, we shall sustain one another in the body of Christ. The love of Christ shall hold the whole together, Christ being everything, and we content to be nothing, helping one another, praying one for the other. I ask not the prayers of the saints, I reckon on them. The Lord keep us going on in simplicity, fulfilling as the hireling our day, till Christ shall come; and then “shall every man have praise of God” — praise of God! Be that our object, and may God knit all our hearts together thoroughly and eternally.
J.N. D.

Review: A Scriptural Examination of Certain Articles in Religious Creeds. By John G. Marshall, Halifax (Nova Scotia): printed by William Macnab, 11, Prince Street; 1872.

Mr. M. need not have hesitated for a moment as to the source of the so-called creed of “Brethren's” views. It was drawn up by one outside in the most hostile spirit: some of the alleged doctrines being contradicted by the widely published writings of their leading men, and the few which are true being set in a very different light.
1-If Mr. M. desires to know what is held as to the church of God, he can find it fully in tracts or volumes devoted to the statement of that subject. It is the Christian assembly, viewed both as God's habitation and as Christ's body, though hypocrites or self-deceived might enter it; and it is now in a broken anomalous state through ancient corruption and modern denominationalism.
2. -” Brethren” do not and never did pretend to re-constitute that church. On the contrary they blame others for assuming to restore it, and most of all, such as indulge in the highest claims as Irvingites, &c. They avowedly own true members of Christ in and even outside all orthodox sects; but for themselves, while confessedly a mere and feeble remnant, they take their stand on the old foundation not merely for Christianity but for gathering together, worship, ministry, and discipline—in short for all church work, as well as for individual exercise of gift.
3. -” Brethren” believe with all protestants that the old historic bodies are opposed to God's word and Spirit, and have lost all rightful claims to be accounted of God's church save for judgment; but without charging the orthodox sects of protestantism with apostasy, infidelity, or socinianism, however much individuals may be tainted with their evils, they do hold that the principle of sects is at issue with God's word and Spirit, and therefore off the true ground of His church as being sects.
4. -No denomination even professes to own the personal presence of the Spirit sent down at Pentecost, as in the early church; and consequently there is no such thing in modern Christendom as the assembly waiting on God and open to the sovereign action of the Spirit in its midst. But “Brethren” fully believe that the Holy Spirit blesses the word read and preached, and may guide much that is said and done by all their brethren in public as well as private. For themselves, however, they have faith in God's assembly, according to His word and Spirit, and repudiate as unscriptural and sectarian the notion of any but the “one body” as a present church principle of action.
5. -Mr. M. had better search and see whether the apostle does not guide “Brethren” in affirming that the in Rom. 6, Gal. 5 (latter part), 2 Cor. 3, 1 Tim. 1:9, and many other places of the New Testament. It is untrue that in any of these scriptures the question is about justification. Not so; it is a question of walk, or a rule of life. The apostle is most explicit, and had to guard the truth against attacks similar to those now leveled at “Brethren.” We are under grace, not law; and Christ revealed in all the word of God is the true and full guide of the life He has given us, not the law which was given by Moses, excellent as it is, but excellent as a rule of death and condemnation, not of Christian walk or worship. Matt. 5 does not contradict the apostle, nor do “Brethren” anything here but seek subjection to the Lord personally or through His servant. For they hold that the Lord did not destroy the law or the prophets but fulfill; and they neither break one of the least commandments nor teach men so, but contrariwise do and teach them by the grace of God. In every way “Brethren” hold that Christianity establishes law. For first there never was such honor put on its sanction as when the Lord suffered death on the cross; and this is the point in the end of Rom. 3, where faith is shown to act thus; secondly, in Rom. 8:4, we learn that the practical result is as real as the doctrine of the cross to faith, for the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in those that walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit, as all Christians are called to do. Yet that righteous requirement of the law is thus fulfilled, by our being under not the law but grace, nor yet by the law's death (as the Authorized Version has it, following a bad reading in the received text) but by our death to it. Being born of God, we love; otherwise we have not seen or known Him. But if we love God and our neighbor, we fulfill the law, for love is the fulfilling of the law, and for us there is none other. Sir. M.'s controversy is therefore with the Apostle Paul; and no Christians really value the sermon on the Mount more than “Brethren,” if so much. Indeed it is strange and humbling that godly men should feel otherwise; for the word of God is plain, and so are the facts before every eye.
6. -” Brethren” do not go so far as Mr. J. Wesley, who, if 1 am not greatly mistaken, ventured to call Christ's imputed righteousness through law-keeping “imputed nonsense.” This I do not believe, but on the contrary, that the imputation of righteousness (in opposition to inherent righteousness) is a precious truth of God. Only scripture teaches that Christ, not His keeping of the law, is our righteousness, and that we are made it in Him risen and glorified, not that He made it for us before He died for our sins. Hence the doctrine of Paul, as different from Harvey on the one side as from Wesley on the other, is God's righteousness revealed to faith in the gospel, divine righteousness in justifying the believer in Jesus according to all the efficacy and glorious effects of redemption. Mr. M. thinks that “Brethren” very properly reject the notion of imputing Christ's active righteousness, but that they are wrong in supposing the Lord requires no righteousness on their part. Here he quite mistakes; for “Brethren” insist on the necessity of practical righteousness in believers, but they justly teach that our standing before God for justification is Christ, not their own work. Does Mr. M. not know this? If he does, he cannot deny that “Brethren” are sound on this great head of Christian truth; if he does not, he must be ignorant even of the elements of the gospel. It is fake and bad to say, as he does, that no righteousness or holiness of the Christian could be required, if all in Christ is now and for over imputed to him by God. For scripture asserts both against Mr. M. “The very learned divine,” of whom he speaks as if he were an authority in doctrine, knows next to nothing of the place the resurrection of Christ holds in Paul's writings as bearing on the believer now. It is not merely a proof of the accomplishment of His work, but marks the character of the acceptance of the believer and of the new life given to him in Christ.
7. -It is false that “Brethren” say nothing of the practical holiness to which the believer is called after justification: none insist on so high a standard as they do according to scripture. All Mr. M.'s citations, therefore, are in blank ignorance of what “Brethren” hold and say. But Christ only is our righteousness before God. This is quite consistent with being called to manifest the fruit of righteousness, which is by Jesus Christ, before men. Mr. M. does not in the least understand Gal. 5:5, which in no way denies that we are now justified by faith, but proves that we have to wait, not for righteousness, but for the hope of righteousness (that is, for glory by-and-by). “Brethren” are not responsible for the wicked Antinomian-ism which Wesley censured; but Mr. M. is not justified in imputing to them what they uniformly condemn. He acquits “Brethren” of denying that Christ during His life suffered actually and really for and with His people.
8. -As to the Spirit, Mr. M. needs to learn. Luke 11 directs the disciples to ask for the Spirit to be given before the Pentecostal gift; what about afterward? To be quickened of the Spirit is not to have Him given. Whether the poet who sings of the Spirit quitting the believer knows better than “Brethren,” who teach that when given He abides for over, ought to be no question for him who receives the Lord's word in John 14. The utter confusion of Mr. M.'s mind as to John 20 and Acts 2 is indescribable: no “Brethren” hold what he imagines. He should inquire before he judges.
9. -So far as to the church, Mr. M. is too uninformed to understand the question; for no one doubts that Abraham and all other Old Testament believers were as much saints and of God's household as Christians. He has no right thoughts as to the body of Christ, the church. By the “prophets” in Eph. 2 is not meant Old Testament prophets, but those of the New, who therefore follow the apostles. Compare also Eph. 3 “now unto his holy apostles and prophets.” Further, the true sense is “every family” in verse 14, not “the whole,” so that the argument tells in the opposite direction. No one doubts about all being in the kingdom by Him, or in heaven; but all this is distinct from the relationship of Christ's body as scripture teaches it. The “learned theologian,” who says that saints and angels make but one family, cannot have weighed the Greek here, or the Bible throughout its invariable testimony. The Apostle Paul says “family;” but he has πόσα πάτρια, every family, leaving room for many, certainly not one only. Heb. 11:40, too, distinguishes instead of confounding “us” and “them.”
10. -Mr. M. admires the zeal of “Brethren” for the Lord's day, as distinct from the Jewish sabbath. Few are so candid as our friend here.
11. -Mr. M. does not understand what “Brethren” hold as to the distinction of gifts (as evangelists, pastors, and teachers) from local charges (as elders and deacons). They do say that for a congregation to choose a pastor is unscriptural; and Mr. M. cannot produce even the appearance of a text for it. They thoroughly own that apostles, or apostolic delegates, legitimately chose elders. 2 Tim. 2:2 he docs not understand any better than “Brethren's” tracts; for the text speaks, not of appointment or ordination, but of committing to other faithful men the truth we have ourselves learned. This “Brethren” seek to do daily.
12. -There, is no ground to suppose that the prayer given to the disciples was used formally after the descent of the Spirit. It was given expressly for closet use individually before they could ask the Father in the name of Christ. This last character of prayer has well nigh dropt out of the church, if we may judge by printed prayers; and I believe the extemporaneous prayers of dissenters are no better in this respect. They do not express, one more than another, the proper desires of God's children in the enjoyment of their real relationship, “as He is, in this world'.” Nor can he wonder who considers how “calves of gold,” the work and arrangements of men, have so long interfered with the place of Him who is sent down from heaven to act in the church, while we are waiting for the Lord's return.


Dear Mr. Editor,
In your number for March there is a question from J. N. D. as to ναόν and ἱερόν, together with your answer. I do not think the matter of the least importance. Whatever was the fact, the chief priests and elders and Judas were wicked enough to do anything to accomplish the death of our blessed Lord; but seeing that the scribes and Pharisees would not go into the judgment hall, “lest they should be defiled,” (John 18:28) when they were, at the same time, crying out for the blood of Jesus, and seeing that they would not put the money, which Judas returned, into the treasury, “because it was the price of blood,” and would therefore defile it, it is hardly likely that they would admit Judas himself into the temple, ναόν, when they would not admit his money into the treasury. Surely blood was upon him, as well as on his money.
I should suppose therefore, that he came to the gate of the temple, and cast down the money to the priests inside—the more so, as it does not say that he went in; it says, “he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, see Matt. 27:3. Ἰούδας.... μεταμεληθεὶς ἔστρεψεν τὰ τριάκοντα ἀpγύpiα.... καὶ ῥιψας τὰ ἀργύρια ῤν τῷ ναῷ, ἀνεχώρησεν, &c, Casting the money down ἐv τῷ ναῷ—not; going in—and I further come to this conclusion from the contemptuous answer of the chief priests and elders τί πρὸς ἡμᾶς; σὺ ὄψη.
I believe that they were wicked enough to have allowed Judas to come into the temple, ναόν, to have secured the death of Jesus, just as they said “we have no king but Caesar;” but, having accomplished their purpose, they had done with their “defiled” tool, and would hardly have allowed him to come in then—on the contrary, dismiss him with the contemptuous words, “what is that to us? see thou to that.” So that I think that we have the text, and the probabilities against his going in. X. Y.

Scripture Queries and Answers.

Q. 1 Cor. 5—Was discipline in Bible days settled by the elders and then communicated to the assembly for it to act upon the judgment so rendered to it? Is this gone now?
A. That elders took an active and leading part in discipline, as in the general care and government of each local assembly, seems to me unquestionable according to scripture. It is sometimes forgotten or unknown that nine-tenth of cases of discipline need not and should not come before the assembly, but only such matters of scandal and wickedness, whether of doctrine or practice, as call for extreme measures as in public rebuke or, as the last resort, in excision. In this final act the assembly has the responsibility, though there may have been many efforts on the part of chief men among the brethren to avoid its necessity. In flagrant wickedness, as where a man called a brother is a fornicator, drunkard, or the like, the clear duty is to put away; and the assembly acts as soon as the sorrowful facts are known with clearness and certainty. The ruined state of things has not set this aside. It is a responsibility resting on the saints in the Lord's name. If they do not, they are essaying to keep the feast with leavened bread; they practically deny that they themselves are unleavened. Those who have the Spirit ought not to doubt that they have His power, even as the Lord's authority, to put away the evil doer; and this duty is none the less because he sometimes seeks to escape so solemn an exclusion by a tardy profession of repentance. But such a plea should have no influence in staying this action of the assembly, which is bound to prove itself clear in the matter, and not merely to seek the restoration of the offender. Their first duty is to the Lord, elders or none, chiefs or none; so it always was, and so it should be where we have only here and there men who have the qualifications, not the formal title. It would ill become any man to arrogate a higher place than when apostolic order prevailed. It is a duty to help and guide the assembly. No man is called to judge for it a case which comes before it, though it is happy when faithful men of grace and wisdom can settle cases of minor moment so as to spare the need of an appeal to the assembly—an appeal only right in the gravest matters or in such as all other means have failed to remedy. Otherwise the assembly, instead of preserving its place as God's temple, is in danger of becoming the engine of caprice, terror, or tyranny, for fleshly individuals who drag things and persons there without warrant from God's word.
Q. 1 Cor. 11—What is discerning or distinguishing the (Lord's) body? If there is more than apprehending the unity of the body the church, would you kindly state what it is? R. B. W.
Λ. “Discerning the body” has no reference to apprehending the church's unity of nature, but means exclusively distinguishing between any ordinary meal and that supper which brings before us the body of Christ given for us. It is the memorial of His death in it, which the Apostle here urges, not our union with Him. Not to discern the (Lord's) body is to treat this supper as a common thing. It is profanation, not intelligence about the church's unity.
Q. What place does a standing lecture hold in the ministry of an assembly? J. S. B.
A. Apparently the querist raises no doubt as to the propriety of a lecture. He asks only about a standing or regular lecture. But this clearly depends on God's supply of the requisite gift and the adaptation of its exercise in the circumstances, for which the servant is himself responsible to the Lord. “In the ministry of the assembly” strikes one as ambiguous if not confused; for such an exercise of gift is and must be individual, though if wholesome those who compose the assembly and others would do well to profit by it. But it has nothing to do with the assembly as such; and “the ministry of an assembly” I do not understand, for it may be taught, comforted, or edified, but it does not minister of course. If there be however one or more, who can happily discourse on the immense field of God's truth for the good of saints, and who resides permanently in a place, I know not why they should cease their work or others not hear, though all be of grace and bondage be out of place here as everywhere. It is good besides for both speakers and hearers not to be circumscribed; for all things are ours, and the best teaching is not all, and it will be the more appreciated in general after a variety of other food.
Q. Would you kindly solve the following in the “Β. T.?” I have no difficulty with Matt. 13 and the parable of the leaven there as showing the spread of inward evil; but in the kingdom of heaven in Luke 13:20 we read “The kingdom of God is like leaven.” Now John 3 tells us only these born again enter the kingdom of God and Rom. 14:17 tells us “The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Can righteousness, peace, and, joy in the Holy Ghost be like the spread of inward exit? Scripture can never contradict itself.
A sincere enquirer.
A. Comparison of the Gospels shows that “the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew answers to “the kingdom of God” in Mark and Luke, not absolutely but in general, For the truth is that the latter is a phrase of larger import and capable of moral application, wherever the former is never so employed. Hence, Matthew uses besides his characteristic formula, “Kingdom of God” occasionally, and this, where “kingdom of heaven” could not have been. Thus, when Christ cast out demons, as He did, it was plain that the kingdom of God was come to them; whereas the kingdom of heaven could not come in any just sense (whether in mystery as now, or in manifestation as by-and-by) till Jesus cast out and suffering on the cross took the place of exalted Son of man in heaven. Hence “the kingdom of heaven” all through Matthew is said or supposed to be at hand, not come; and in that sense of a great dispensational change Mark and Luke announce the kingdom of God at hand. Again, the apostle in Rom. 14, as elsewhere, gives “kingdom of God” a moral force, because righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit are the immutable characters of His kingdom, now individually or collectively, as evermore when the earth shall he so governed.
But John treats of “the kingdom of God” only in the sense of what is intrinsic and divine, not of that dispensational state which the other evangelists show to be then at hand where tares and other evil might be as well as wheat.
On the other hand, the leaven in the parables seems to mean the spread of doctrinal profession, assimilating more after a natural sort within a defined range, rather than the import here of wickedness; so I think from the words used and the context.

Notes on John 1:14 - 18

From the revelation of the Word in His own intrinsic nature, we now turn to His actual manifestation as man here below. The incarnation is brought before us, the full revelation of God to man and in man. “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we have contemplated his glory, glory as of an only begotten with a father), full of grace and truth.” Here it is not what the Word was, but what He became. He was God, He became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. (Ver. 14.)
It was no transient vision, however momentous, as on the holy mount. It was a contemplation of His glory vouchsafed to His witnesses, not of an earthly conqueror, nor Messianic even, but glory as of an only begotten with a father. No sword girds His thigh, no riding to victory, no terrible things in righteousness: the incarnate Word dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. Such is He that was from the beginning, and thus was He known. He was the King undoubtedly, but not so portrayed here. He is infinitely more than King, even God, but God on earth, a man dwelling among men, full of grace and truth. So only could God be displayed, unless in judgment which had left no hope but only destroyed to the bitter end at once and unreservedly. For infinitely different purposes had He come, as this passage itself declares in due season, perfectly knowing and feeling the universal evil of man. He dwelt among us full of grace and truth. So He manifests God, who is love. But grace is more; it is love in the midst of evil, rising above it, going down under it, overcoming it with good; and such was Jesus, full of truth withal, for otherwise grace was no more grace, but a base imitation and most ruinous both for God and to man. Not such was Jesus, but full of grace and truth, and in this order too: for grace brings in the truth and enables souls to receive truth and to bear it, themselves as sinners judged by it; He and He only was full of grace and truth. To make it known, to make God Himself thus known, He came; for, as grace is the activity of divine love in the midst of evil, so truth is the revelation of all things as they really are, from God Himself and His ways and counsels down to man, and every thought and feeling as well as word and work of man, yea, of every invisible agency for good or evil throughout all time, yea, throughout all eternity. So He dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
Nor did God fail to render testimony to Him thus. “John witnesseth about him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spoke, he that cometh after me is preferred before me, for he was before me.” (Ver. 15.) Most strikingly is John introduced with his testimony to each or the great divisions of the chapter. Before it was to the abstract revelation of the light. Here it is to his actual presentation to the world, and as it is historical, so we have what John cries, not merely a description as before. He says “this was he of whom I spoke.” The coming of Jesus after John was no derogation from His glory, but for the contrary. No greater prophet had arisen than John the Baptist among those born of women. But Jesus is God. If He was pleased therefore to come after John in time, He was proved incomparably before him in title; nay, He was really before him, but this only because He was divine.
The last verse appears to be a parenthesis, however full of instruction. But the direct line of truth runs, “full of grace and truth; and of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” (Ver. 16.) An astonishing truth! He is the gift and the giver—full of grace and truth, and of His fullness have all we received. Such is the portion of the least believer. The strongest is only the strongest, because he better appreciates Him. For there is no blessing outside Him and consequently no lack for the soul that possesses Jesus. If the Colossian saints, if any others seek to add any other thing to Jesus, it is a real loss, not gain. It is but to add what detracts from Jesus.
The expression “grace for grace” has perplexed many, but without much reason, for an analogous phrase occurs, even in profane authors not unfrequently, which ought to satisfy any enquirer that it simply means grace upon grace, one succeeding to another without stint or failure—superabundance of grace, and not a mere literal notion of grace in us answering to grace in Him. It will be noticed further, that scripture speaks of grace (or upon) grace, not truth upon truth, which last would be wholly unsuitable, for the truth is one, and cannot be so spoken of. The same apostle wrote even to the babes, not because they did not know the truth, but because they do know it, and that no lie is of the truth. The unction, which they have received from Him, teaches them as to all things, and is true, and is not a lie. But as grace brings the truth, so the truth exercises in grace. How blessed that of His fullness have all we received and grace for grace!
Wholly different was seen at Sinai, for the law was given by Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (Ver. 17.) Not that the law is sin. Far be the thought. It is holy; and the commandment holy and just and good. But it is altogether impotent to deliver man or to reveal God. It has neither life to give, nor object to make known. It requires from man what he ought to render both to God and to his fellows; but in vain is it required from man already a sinner before the law was given, for sin entered the world through Adam no less surely than the law was given by Moses. Man fell and was lost, none could bring eternal life but Jesus Christ the Lord. And this was wholly unavailable to man without His death in expiation of sin. Here however we have not yet reached the work of Christ, nor the message of grace that goes out to the world grounded on it in the gospel, but His person in the world, and to this the testimony is “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” There and there only was the divine love superior to man's evil; there and there only was everything revealed and in its due relation to God. Truly Jesus is a divine Savior.
But there is yet more than this. God Himself must be known, not merely fullness of blessing come in Christ or souls be brought into the blessing by redemption. Yet man as such is incapable of knowing God. How is this difficulty to be solved? “No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father—he hath declared [him].” (Ver. 18.) Thus only can God be known as He is, for Christ is the truth—the revealer and revelation of God, as of everything in God's sight. Nowhere does scripture say with rationalists and, I regret to add, with theologians, that God is the truth. Not so: God is the I am, the self-subsisting One; He is love, He is light. But Christ is the truth objectively, as the Spirit is in power, working in man. And Christ has declared God, as One, who as the Son is in the bosom of the Father, not who was as if He had left it, as He left the glory and is now gone back into glory as man. He never left the Father's bosom. It is His constant place, and a peculiar mode of acquaintance with God. Hence we by the Holy Ghost are in grace privileged to know God, even as the Son declared Him, who perfectly, infinitely, enjoyed love in that relationship from everlasting and to everlasting. Into what a circle of divine association does He not introduce us! It is not the Light of men, nor yet the Word acting or becoming flesh, but the only-begotten Son who is in the Father's bosom declaring God according to His own competency of nature and the fullness of His own intimacy with the Father. Even John Baptist as having his origin in the earth was of the earth and spoke of it. Jesus alone of men could be said to come out of heaven and above all, testifying what He had seen and heard. It was His to declare God, and this in His own proper relationship.

Notes on John 1:29-34

From verse 19 to 28 John the Baptist does not rise beyond what was Jewish and dispensational. The next paragraph brings before us the testimony which he rendered when he saw Jesus approaching. And here we have Christ's work viewed in all the extent of power which might be expected in the Gospel devoted to showing out the glory of His person.
“On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” (Ver. 29.) There was no image more familiar to a Jew's mind than that of the lamb. It was the daily sacrifice of Israel, morning and evening. Besides, the paschal lamb was the essence of the fundamental feast of the year; even as its first institution was co-eval with the departure of the sons of Israel from the house of bondage. We can understand therefore what thoughts and feelings must have crowded on the heart of those who looked for a Savior now, when Jesus was thus attested by His forerunner. “Behold the Lamb (ἀμνὸς) of God.” In the book of Revelation He is frequently viewed as the Lamb, but there with a pointedly different (ἀρνίον) word, the holy earth-rejected Sufferer in contrast with the ravening wild beasts civil or religious, instruments of Satan's power in the world. Here the idea seems to center in sacrifice. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”
John does not say “that will take,” still less “that has taken;” nor do I think the notion tenable that He was then taking sin away. It is, as frequently in John and elsewhere, the abstract form of speech, and the meaning should be understood in its fullest extent.
The testimony looks onward to the effects of the death of Christ as a whole, but these were not to appear all at once. The first great result was the Gospel, the message of remission of sins to every believer. Instead of the sin of the world only being before God, the blood of the Lamb was, and God could therefore meet the world in grace, not in judgment. Not only was love come in Christ's person as during His life, but now the blood was shed whereby God could cleanse the foulest; and the gospel is God's proclamation to every creature of His readiness to receive all, and of His perfectly cleansing all who do receive Christ. In fact only the church receives Him; but the testimony is sent forth to every creature. When Christ comes in His kingdom, there will be a further result; for all creation will then be delivered from the bondage of corruption, and Israel will at length look upon the Messiah whom they pierced in their blind unbelief. The blessing resulting from the sacrifice of Christ will then be far and wide extended, but not complete. Only the new heavens and new earth (and this not in the limited scope of the Jewish prophets, but in the full meaning which the Christian apostles give the words) will behold the ultimate fulfillment, and then indeed it will be seen how truly Jesus was the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. For then, and not till then, will sin have disappeared absolutely, and all its consequences. The wicked having been judged and cast forever into the lake of fire, as well as Satan and his angels, righteousness will then be the footing of God's relationship with the world, not sinlessness as at first, or dealings in Christ in view of sin as now.
Observe however that the Baptist does not say the “sins” of the world. What a fatality of error haunts men when they venture to handle the truth of God after a human sort! It is not only in sermons or books that one finds this common and grave blunder. The solemn liturgies of Romanism and Protestantism are alike wrong here. They alter and unconsciously falsify the word of God when directly referring to this scripture. In speaking of believers both the apostles Paul and Peter show that the Lord bore away their sins upon the cross. Without this indeed there could be neither peace secured for the conscience nor a righteous basis for worshipping God, according to the efficacy of the work of Christ. The Christian is exhorted to come boldly into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, which has, at the same time, put his sins away and brought himself nigh; but this is only true of the believer. In total contrast is the state and condition of the unbeliever, of every man in nature. He is far off, in guilt, in darkness, in death. The language of the liturgies confounds all this according indeed to the practice of their worship, for the world is treated as the church, and the church as the world. Were Christ the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world, all men would stand absolved before God, and might well therefore boldly approach and worship; but it is not so. The blood is shed for the sin of the world, so that the evangelist can go forth and preach the gospel and assure all who believe of pardon from God; but all who refuse must die in their sins, and only the more terribly be judged because they refused the message of grace.
But God never forgets the personal dignity of the Lord Jesus here. Hence John the Baptist adds, “He it is of whom I said, After me cometh a man who taketh precedence of [or is preferred before] me, for he was before me. And I knew him not, but that he might be manifested to Israel, therefore came I baptizing with water.” (Ver. 30, 31.) There is no reference here to His Messianic judgment as in other Gospels, which on the other hand are silent as regards such a testimony as this to His glory. Undoubtedly also John did call souls in Israel to repent in view of the kingdom, as at hand; but here the one object is the manifestation of Jesus to Israel. It is the absorbing topic of the Gospel indeed. The previous unacquaintance of the Baptist with Jesus made his testimony so much the more solemn and emphatically of God; and whatever the inward conviction he had as He came for baptism, it did not hinder the external sign nor the witness he bears to His person and His work as he had borne before it.
Hence we read, “And John bore witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize with water, he said to me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding on him, he it is that baptizeth with [the] Holy Spirit. And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (Ver. 32-34.)
Such was the suited sign for the Savior. Ravens might have been employed in God's wisdom to feed the famished prophet at another dark day; but not such was the appearance of the Spirit descending from heaven to abide on Jesus. The dove only could be the proper form, emblematic of the spotless purity of Him on whom He came. Yet did He come upon Him as man, but Jesus was man without sin; as truly man as any other, but how different from all before or after! He was the second Man in bright contrast with the first. And He is the last Adam; in vain does unbelief look for a higher development, overlooking Him in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Observe, the Spirit came before His death. If Christ died, He died for others. If He suffered and became a sacrifice, it was not for Himself. Jesus needed no blood in order that He might subsequently be anointed with the holy oil. He was Himself the Holy One of God in that very nature which in every other case had dishonored God.
But if the Spirit abode on Him as man, this is He that baptizes with the Holy Spirit. None could so baptize but God. It were blasphemy to say otherwise. It is the fullest prerogative of a divine person so to act, and hence John the Baptist utterly disclaimed it, and in every Gospel points to Jesus only as the Baptizer by the Holy Ghost, as he had come baptizing with water. It is the mighty work of Jesus from heaven, as He was the Lamb of God on the cross.
Thus, though the immediate aim of John's mission with baptism attached to it was for the manifestation of Jesus to Israel, he testifies to Him as the Lamb of God in relation to the world, as eternal at whatever time He came (and surely it was the right moment, “the fullness of time,” as the great apostle assures us, Gal. 4:4), not merely as the object of the Holy Ghost's descent to abide on Him, but as baptizing with the Holy Ghost. “And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (Ver. 34.) Such was His personal relationship: not the Son of man who must be lifted up if we are to have eternal life, but the Lamb of God and the Son of God. On the other hand it is not here the Father declared by, or revealing Himself in, His only-begotten Son, but God in view of the broad fact of the world's sin, and Jesus His Lamb to take the sin away. So the baptism of the Holy Ghost is not quickening, but that power of the Spirit which acts on the life already possessed by the believer, separates from all that is of flesh and world, and sets in communion with God's nature and glory as revealed in Christ. He was as man on earth not Only Son of God but always conscious of it; we becoming so by faith in Him are rendered conscious of our relationship through the Holy Ghost given to us. Nevertheless even Him, as the Gospels show, the descent of the Spirit who anointed Him placed in a new position here below. All here is public announcement and reaches the world.

X. Y. on Rev. 7

The querist writes that in the third paragraph (p. 255), there should be neither “chapter” nor “20,” nor “chapter 20” again repeated, nor “chapter 10,” nor “chapter 10” again repeated. In the next paragraph “third, verses 4-9,” ought to be verse 9, and (p. 25G) “chapter 10:9” ought to be simply verse 9, reading “his” for “her” three lines after. The sentence most affected should run thus: “verse 9 would be a mere needless repetition of verses 4-8. Verses 4-8 is literal Israel; verse 9 the Gentiles; verse 11 the church, as we have,” &c.
From Cape Breton Island were sent two numbers of a British serial, peculiar enough in this that they reproduce extracts from a pamphlet on Church Discipline, which the author, living in New Zealand, has himself retracted. It was no wonder; for just think of anyone committing the mistake of fancying, because there is no article in the Greek, that the correct (!) rendering of 1 Cor. 12:27 is, “Now ye are a body of Christ!” A little more knowledge would have guarded against this, but as usual, what is unfounded takes with partisans. The Editor of the little magazine speaks of “many expressions of thankfulness.” It is well that all such should weigh the fact that God has taught not a few in New Zealand the error of this tract, without one word of external criticism or comment. Indeed, the whole reasoning is unsound and the tendency unholy.

A Letter on a Serious Question Connected With the Irish Education Measures of 1832.

Sir, I address you thus formally in a public document in which it is my object not to express any personal feelings, but investigate principles. Your language (as reported) has given me occasion to address you on the subject on which I write; a matter which I confess has occasioned some astonishment to my mind, though other principles than astonishment bring it into action. The character of the public meeting held in this city on the subject of the anti-scriptural system of education needs no comment at present. You were present at that meeting and spoke; but it is not my object to discuss the character of your speech. The unholy marriage between Infidelity and Popery—the devil's apostate counterpart of the union between the bride the Lamb's wife and the great head of the Church—whose banns have been first published in this unhappy country, if not adequately exposed (as I think none can feel its evil sufficiently), has yet given occasion to so loud an expression of principle as I trust will, under God, give stability to those who might otherwise have been entangled, and maintain the public expression of the right, here at least, before God, when ail principle and allegiance towards Him have been so atrociously invaded. But you were following in your opposition in the rear of those to whom you owed canonical obedience. It was at least, sir, an unfriendly way of doing it.
But not to leave seriousness, considering the path which the Archbishop has trodden, it was well you were behind him. Authority and circumstances hide much from the world, and I must feel that it is the assumed orthodoxy of official situation, which could alone blind the clergy of this country to the principles of the Archbishop, by whom they are governed. Such principles known I should be sorry indeed to follow, and the fullness of an episcopal robe does but ill conceal—even though one be behind it—the false principles which may be set before its face. The circumstances of the case are these: a scheme is set on foot whose professed object is to exclude the scriptures from the school instruction of the children of this country, and this not for the purpose of meeting the poor people or consulting their feelings. It had required, Mr. Stanley states, the energetic exertion of the priests to prevent the people from embracing the proffered boon of instruction in the word of God, the boon of God Himself; not then to meet the prejudices of the people, but in acquiescence, we learn from the same authority, with the principles of the Roman Catholic religion. The scriptures are the witness not only of the holiness of God, but of His love, of His prerogative love in Christ. The Archbishop has set himself forward as the main effectuator, as under the circumstances he certainly is, of a scheme which is professedly to meet the priests, in accordance with their principles, in excluding from the schools this witness of God's love in Christ; for their introduction Mr. Stanley himself states to be the vital defect of the previous system.
But the clergy are more deeply concerned in this and the laity too, than, as far as I can see, they are aware. The only discerning spring of Christian activity, synergism in God's love (for Christianity is the activity of God's love), is the knowledge and love of Christ. The perception of His person is the great center and spring of all vital theology. To see this is the material of faith. “He that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him hath everlasting life.” Not to see this leaves a person in the darkness of this world.
The Archbishop of Dublin is a Sabellian. Of the painful situation in which this may place the clergy it is not for me to judge. What the laity will feel in thinking of their association with him, on the general superintendence of the establishment, they must consider for themselves. But Sabellianism may be considered some questionable opinion or difference. But you must know, Sir, that it strikes at the root of all vital as well as orthodox Christianity, by neutralizing the distinction between the Father and the Sou. The Father's sending the Son—the Son's obedience to the Father—the whole scheme of mediatorial Christianity—that is, Christianity itself, becomes lost in this form of infidelity. A Trinity in character, but not a Trinity of persons, in the essential force of that word, may ease the proud mind of man of that which is beyond its natural powers, but takes away, at the same time, the whole basis on which a sinner can rest by faith. Men may be guilty of Tritheism, and Sabellians may avoid this. But they also may undermine the faith in another way.
I shall extract, pretty much at length, the statements of Dr. Whately on this subject in the article on the word person, in the appendix to his logic, “Ambiguous Terms.” “Person in its most ordinary use, always implies a numerically distinct substance; each man is one person, and can be but one. It, besides a peculiar theological sense, is more closely connected with its etymology. It is well known that the Latin word persona signified originally a mask which actors wore on the stage; each of which being painted in each instance suitably to the character to be represented, and worn by every one who acted the part, the word came to signify the character itself which the actor played; and afterward any character, proper or assumed, which any one sustained; as for example in a passage of Cicero (De Oratore) whore he is describing the process by which be composed his pleadings, by imagining himself in the place of his opponent and of the judge, as well as his own. ‘Tres personas wins suscipio, summa animi aequitate; meam adversam, judicis.' We should render this by saying, ‘I assume these three characters,' or, ‘I place myself in these three situations.' The further transition, by which persona, and, as Anglicized by us, person came to signify commonly a distinct being, is very natural, though I believe it never took place while the purity of the Latin idiom lasted. Persona, in some sense, not far remote, it may be supposed, from its classical signification, was adopted by theologians to distinguish the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the blessed Trinity, so as to imply the strict and proper unity of the divine Being, Who is all and each of these: and the word person was employed by our divines as a literal, or rather, perhaps, all etymological translation of the Latin word persona. In this sense, its difference from person, as employed in ordinary discourse (in which however it seems to have been much less common at the time when our liturgy, &c, were framed, than in the present day), is of the highest importance: since it is evident that ‘three divine persons,' in the ordinary meaning of the word, is precisely equivalent to ‘three Gods.'
Again— “In this our Church, very wisely and scripturally, sets before us the relations in which the Most High stands towards us of Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier: thus adhering to the apparent design of Holy Writ,” &c. “The same consideration has induced me to insert in the present edition some extracts from the theological works (less known than they deserve) of the celebrated Dr. Wallis's, the mathematician and logician, who appears to have been the Church's most powerful champion against the Arians and Socinians of his day. Not that I wish implicit deference to be paid to any human authority, however eminent: but it may be worth while to correct the notion, if any shall have entertained it, that the views of the subject here taken are, in our Church, novelties. That which makes these expressions (namely, those respecting the Trinity) seem harsh to some of these men, is because they have used themselves to fancy that notion only of the word person, according to which throe men are accounted to be three persons, and these three persons to be three men. But he may consider that there is another notion of the word person, and in common use too, wherein the same man may be said to sustain divers persons, and three persons to be the same man; that is, the same man as sustaining divers capacities. As was said but now of Tully, tres personas unus sustineo. And then it will seem no more harsh to say, the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, than to say, God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Sanctifier, are one God—it is much the same thing whether of the two forms we use.” (Letters on the Trinity, p. 63.)
“' The word person (persona) is originally a Latin word, and doth not properly signify a man (so that another person must needsimply another man); for then the word homo would have served, and they needed not have taken in the word persona; but rather one so circumstantiated. And the same man, if considered in other circumstances (considerably different), is reputed another person. And that this is the true notion of the word person, appeared by these noted phrases, personam induere, personam deponere, personamagere, and many the like in approved Latin authors. Thus the same man may at once sustain the person of a king and a father, if he be invested both with regal and paternal authority. Now, because the king and the father are for the most part not only different persons but different men also, (and the like in other cases) hence it comes to pass that another person is sometimes supposed to imply another man, but not always, nor is that the proper sense of the word. It is Englished in our dictionaries by the state, quality, or condition whereby one man differs from another; and so, as the condition alters, the person alters, though the man be the same. The hinge of the controversy is that notion concerning the three somewhats, which the Fathers (who first used it) did intend to design by the name person; so that we are not from the word person to determine what was that notion, but from that notion which they would express to determine in what sense the word person is here used,' &c., &c.—(Letter in answer to the Arian's Vindication.)”
This article was much altered in the fourth edition, and a good deal added, in the way of explanation, to guard against the too evident conclusion from the preceding extract. The date of this, sir, is 1831. But, however guarded, there is no repentance from the heresy itself. I shall insert a short extract, which may be sufficient to show this— “Person, in its ordinary use at present, invariably implies a numerically distinct substance. Each man is one person, and can be but one. It has also a peculiar theological sense, in which we speak of the ‘three persons’ of the blessed Trinity. It was probably thus employed by our divines, as a literal, or perhaps etymological rendering of the Latin word 'persona.' I am inclined to think, however, from the language of Wallis (the mathematician and logician) in the following extract, as well as from that of some others of our older writers, that the English word person was formerly not so strictly confined as now to the sense it bears in common conversation among us.” Then follows the extract from “Wallis; and he adds in a note, “We are taught to call no man master on earth; but the reference to Dr. “Wallis may serve both to show the use of the word in his day, and to correct the notion, should any have entertained it, that the views of the subject here taken are, in our church, anything novel.”
Having quoted so largely from the other edition, it is needless after this to quote more. The circumstances connected with these alterations I shall not touch upon: if authentically stated, they do not weaken the inference naturally drawn from the papers themselves. I care not, sir, for the term Sabellianism: but when the personality of the Son of God is avowedly attacked, I cannot be surprised that the person who does so should be the instrument of establishing the first open public act of infidelity—avowedly rejecting the scriptures, to meet the principles of the Roman Catholic religion. It may not be unprofitable to see the suitableness of the agent to such a work. With what satisfaction any one can follow in the rear, or own canonical obedience to such a one, I must leave to their own consciences and their fidelity to Christ to determine. Certainly the fate of the Archbishop has been unfortunate. Famous, if fame is to be trusted, for being opposed to the union of church and state, he has with painful singularity united himself to it in its first public act of professed infidelity, to be the solitary agent of any consequence in carrying the blighting influence of that infidelity into general and diffusive operation. But he denies the personality of the Son of God, and I am not surprised?” But are standards of truth no security as regards those who have solemnly signed them? Sir, whatever scripture may say of the personality of the Son of God, you must own it, and Dr. Whately ought; but his mind seems vague in this on principle, as it is far from scriptural truth. He thus writes, in a note to the same article, in the appendix to his Logic (4th edition, p. 331)— “And truly, it is much better thus to consult scripture, and take it for a guide, than to resort to it merely for confirmation, contained in detached verses, of the several parts of some system of theology, which the student fixes on as reputed orthodox, and which is in fact made the guide which he permits ‘to lead him by the hand;' while passages culled out from various parts of the sacred writings, in subserviency to such system, are formed into what may be called an anagram of scripture; and then by reference to this system as a standard, each doctrine, or discourse, is readily pronounced orthodox, or Socinian, or Arian, or Sabellian, or Nestorian, &c.; and all this on the ground that the theological scheme, which the student has adopted, is supported by scripture. The materials, indeed, are the stones of the temple; but the building constructed with them is a fabric of human contrivances. If, instead of this too common procedure, students would fairly search the scriptures, with a view, not merely to defend opinions, but to form them; not merely for arguments, but for truth: keeping human expositions to their own proper purposes (see Essay vi., first series), and not allowing those to become practically a standard—if, in short, they were as honestly desirous to be on the side of scripture, as they naturally are to have scripture on their side, how much sounder as well as more charitable would their conclusions often be!”
The note of admiration as well as the italics in the several quotations are Dr. Whately's. Dr. Whately may be amiable, affable in manner, and efficient in business; but truth is truth, and principle is principle, and talents, however great or over-estimated, and the most candid kindness of manner, are but snares to the unwary. Satan is not foolish enough to make mischief disagreeable. These things appear to me, sir, not only heretical, and (as I should call it) infidel, on the most vital principle of Christianity, but, considering the circumstances in which the author of them is placed, sad want of principle. But when I consider that one who has sworn that the essential point of popish instruction and worship is a “blasphemous fable and a dangerous deceit,” as Dr. Whately has, should be the principal agent for securing the instruction of the majority of the children of this country in it, and their actual attendance on it, I cannot be surprised, sir. There never was a stronger instance of the principle, that, where the truth of the gospel did not exist, the grace or principle of it could not be found. I confess, sir, more heartless unprincipledness I never heard of. Nor, slight as Dr. Whately's tie may be to standards winch have elevated him to the place from which he throws them down, will the refuge this may be afford him much shelter. The results of such instruction as he is putting the children under I shall state in his own words. They are from a note to the same article. There is some ignorance on the subject shown in it, but it is immaterial to the present point.
“The correctness of a formal and deliberate confession of faith is not always of itself a sufficient safeguard against error, in the habitual impression of the mind. The Romanists flatter themselves that they are safe from idolatry, because they distinctly acknowledge the truth, that God only is to be served, viz., with latria, though they allow adoration (hyperdulia and dulia) to the virgin and other saints, to images, and to relics. To which it has been justly replied, that, supposing this distinction correct in itself, it would be in practice purgatory, since the mass of the people must soon, as experience proves, lose sight of it entirely in their habitual devotions.”
It must be a happy office to one who has a heart and a conscience to secure to the mass of the people instruction, which must plunge them into idolatries, however people may flatter themselves. But I must not pursue this part of the subject, or I should say a great deal more than is needful; and the general principles of the subject are already before people's minds. There are two points which do not seem to be generally felt: that this is the first public loading act of infidelity, namely, a professed rejection of the scriptures, to meet the principles of the Roman Catholic religion; and, secondly, what it specially behooves the clergy to look to, that, under the garb of that which might seem to afford security for principle but may be the hiding-place of the contrary, we have one holding principles anything but a security against infidelity, a denial of the personality of the Son of God in anything like the sense in which that is ordinarily understood; and who holds that, as applied to the Son of God, it means no more than if I should say in making all oration, I put myself into three positions with the utmost equanimity—my own, my adversary's, the judge's. What use standards or undertakings may be to secure the principles of any connected with, or admitted into, the Church under such circumstances, I must leave to others to judge. One thing I am sure of, which keeps my own soul in peace, that in the midst of this “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.”
But I should be sorry, sir, to follow in the rear of a diocesan, who denied the Lord that bought me; and when I see even the primate expressing his assurance of the zeal for protestantism of the Archbishop of Dublin, if I respect the feeling which prompted it, I cannot but feel it important to inquire upon what ground of security in the truth the Protestants of this country rest, as regards one (as the Archbishop is) in perhaps the most important human station which any one can fill in it. Few, I dare say, read Dr. Whately's Logic, and few know, therefore, his principles. I have transcribed his own statements here: let Christians judge.
Some question having been raised as to the principles of the Roman Catholics, as to reading the scriptures, it will be seen, by the following translation of the fourth rule of the Council of Trent respecting the Index, that a person reading them without the written permission of the bishop is refused absolution.
“Whereas it is manifest from experience, if the sacred Bible be allowed everywhere without discrimination in the vulgar tongue, more injury than profit arises thence, on account of the rashness of men; let the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor be abided by in this respect; that, with the counsel of the parish priest, or confessor, they may allow the reading in the vulgar tongue of the Bible, translated by Catholic authors, to those who, they shall understand, may receive not injury, but increase of faith and piety: which privilege let them have in meeting. But he who without such privilege shall presume to have or read them, cannot receive absolution of his sins, unless he shall have first given them up to the ordinary. But let booksellers who shall have sold, or in any other way given to those who have not the aforesaid privileges, Bibles written in the vulgar idiom, lose the price of the books, to be converted into pious uses by the bishop, and let them be subjected to other penalties according to the quality of the crime at the discretion of the bishop. But regulars without a privilege from their prelates cannot read or buy them.”
I close a letter, sir, written under sufficient suffering of body to have disposed me to keep quiet, if I had not felt it a duty. I have very briefly brought the subject forward, stating little of ray own views or feelings, not because I have them not, but because I rather desired the facts should be presented for consciences of others. God may bring good out of evil. But these sorts of circumstances are just the trials of the faithfulness of God's children. Let it be known only that, though God may be in a distinct position, there is, according to Dr. Whately, no distinction in the person of the Father and the Son. What may be the duty of the clergy in such a case I leave to themselves: of that of a Christian I can have no doubts.
Ο God, to what a pass is Thy church come, when they who govern and should feed it are found, even where the truth seems specially professed, deniers of that upon which Thy whole glory rests, even the person and therefore the mission of Thy Son, who loved it and gave Himself for it! Ο Lord, regard Thy people, and give them faithfulness and wisdom to do that which becometh Thy saints for the glory of Thy name, and acknowledgment of Thy love through Jesus, Thy sent One, come in the flesh, that, according to that which is given them, all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father by one Spirit! Amen. I am, sir, faithfully yours,
J. N. D.

Thoughts on Rom. 6-8

In chapter 6. I understand the apostle to be reasoning with the believer upon the claims which sin has on him. And the apostle tells us that sin has been disposed of. Sin was once the master or king; holding dominion, it issued its commands through all the members which were thus “instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.” But sin has now, as such master, paid his wages. Its wages was death; and we have died in or with Christ, and thus sin is disposed of, or we have done with it; for Christ had done with it when He died. “He died unto sin.” It is true He had to do with sin in His death which owned the dominion of sin, that being the wages paid. But in resurrection Christ had to do with God and not with sin. He rose by the glory of the Father, and by resurrection lived unto God as in His death, He had died unto sin so that the believer, now associated with Christ in His death and resurrection, has done with sin and has to do with God. Sin in its wages is disposed of and so should it be in all its claims: for if we no longer receive its claims, so no longer are we to do its service.
It is as those who are alive from the dead that we should walk, and if that condition be rightly apprehended (alive from the dead, or risen) continuance in the doing or service of sin will be found a thing not to be at all even counted upon.
Such indeed have rather to reckon themselves “dead unto sin” and alive unto God through Jesus Christ.
Such truths their baptism reads to them. If indeed sin be willingly served, we own that sin is still alive and not thus disposed of, and we deny the whole of this truth and our standing in Christ; for when we died to sin, that is when sin paid us its wages (in Christ put to death), then the “old man or the body of sin was destroyed;” that is, all our members and faculties, once the sphere and instruments of sin's dominion and service, in that character were put to death also, so that all our members and faculties now should own and assert and exercise themselves in a risen character.
I judge that sin itself must be distinguished here from both the “old man” and “the body of sin.” These rather signify the scene of the dominion of sin or the strength or instruments by which, and in which, he ruled and exercised himself.
In Rom. 7 the apostle entertains the claims of the law upon the believer, and shows that they also have been disposed of. He docs this very simply; he says that the authority of the law addresses itself only to a living man, that is, a man in the flesh. It is the flesh or man as born of Adam, that the law was given to; but the believer has ceased in this sense to be a living man, has ceased to be of Adam, inasmuch as he has died and risen again; and consequently being a dead and risen man, and not a living man, the law does not address its claims to him, he is not the object for the law.
But in this the law is not spoken of in the same relation to us as sin had been. Sin had been spoken of as a master or being; but the law is here spoken of as a husband. And the result of our being dead to sin is life to God, but the result of our being now dead to the law is here shown to be marriage with Christ. These distinctions you will find have their beautiful moral force and meaning. Then in the close of this chapter (having thus shown how that sin and the law have been disposed of or set aside, the one as a master, the other as a husband) the apostle tells us at the same time that they have been discharged with very different characters: sin, with as bad, the law with as good, a character as even the inspired pen of an apostle could write for them. All evil in us is declared to have come from the one, while from the other nothing flowed but that which was holy, just, and good. And the moment that the real character of the law was understood by the quickened soul, this grievous state of things arose— “the commandment came, sin revived and I died” —the law was felt to urge one thing upon the conscience—sin was felt to exact another thing in the old man or the members; and this state of things drew forth the sense of death in the soul and the cry for deliverance, and the answer comes in Jesus revealed in the power of His death and resurrection.
The law being good has not been discharged in the way that sin has. It has been discharged as a husband only (as that to which the soul was debtor and with which it was in union), because we are no longer living, but dead and risen, men. Its holy and good words as expressive of God are still delighted in and allowed.
In Rom. 8 we get the believer thus escaped from sin as a master, and the law as a husband, in his new place in Christ. Being in Him the believer has become a spiritual person, no longer in the flesh, and thus the flesh is discharged as well as sin and the law; that is, we are neither under the old master with the old husband, nor in the old nature; and by the way the apostle shows that the flesh, thus discharged, could never (let God do with it what He might) have yielded any fruit or allegiance to Him, so that, as we speak, it was “bad rubbish” in itself, and to be free of it is “good riddance.”
Having thus cleared the way to look at the believer in his new place in Christ, the apostle then with delight traces the holy prerogatives of such an one.
1. He is nothing less than a son, having the Spirit of adoption, not the spirit of bondage as a servant.
2. Being thus a son, the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, is in him as at home.
3. Being thus a son, he is also an heir, having co-heirship of God with Christ Jesus.
4. And as the great principle of this co-heirship, he is to shine in the same personal glory by-and-by as Jesus, on the hope of the manifestation of which glory in us the whole creation now waits. And though all this condition of the believer may cause him to groan under the sense of his present state in the body, and that he is only still in hope, like the whole creation. Yet the Spirit given to him and being in him, groans also, and groans with so pure a groan that God has entire fellowship with it. And even more than this: God, in His sovereign rule of all things, constrains them all to work together for the believer's good, that without as well as within us He may be for us.
And, finally, the one great original purpose of conforming the believer to the model or pattern of the glorified Son is that which has been the spring, and is the everlasting and abiding spring, of all the divine procedure and action.
This is the train of glorious privileges which flow forth from the believer's union with Christ. Nothing is too excellent for God to do or to devise for such an one; all the joy that the fullest love can inspire, all the dignity that the highest glories can put on us, are ours thus according to the counsel of God in Christ Jesus. God is for us—that can easily account for all this train of joys and glories.
But if He is for us, who can be against us? Who can do anything to harm us? Is there an accuser, a judge, or an executioner, still standing out? The first may go away rebuked by this that God has justified us; the second may go away rebuked by this that Christ has died—has already suffered the judgment, and His work has been accepted to the full in heaven itself; the third may go away rebuked by this that all the malice of earth and hell together shall never drag us away from the embraces, the firm embraces, of our God in Christ Jesus our Lord. And if there be now neither accuser to charge, nor judge to condemn, nor executioner to punish, the court is cleared. We have left the scene, to which as sinners we had been righteously dragged, to meet Him who has delivered us, in other scenes altogether; not as the Judge but as the Bridegroom, to enjoy a Husband in a Savior forever and ever. J. G, B.

Notes on Ezekiel: Introduction

Of the prophet on whose book we enter we know few circumstances, none save the scanty personal particulars which he gives in the course of his prophecies, bound up with them and expressive of their character. We are told that he was a priest, son of Buzi; also of his wife and her sudden death, a sign to Israel; and of his residence at Tel-abib by the Chebar in the land of the Chaldeans. He speaks of Daniel his contemporary, in his own day famous for righteousness, even as Noah and Job.
But there are no writings in the Bible more characteristic, and none more used in furnishing imagery for the last book of the New Testament, the widest and deepest of all prophecies. Ezekiel and Jeremiah with Daniel are the prophets of the time of the captivity, not certainly without points of contact and the surest elements of sympathy, but as diverse in their tone and style and objects as they were in outward lot, and in the circumstances which God employed to give form to their predictions. It was the place of Jeremiah to be left with the poor in the land, and afterward to be taken away with those who faithlessly fled to Egypt for a security they might have enjoyed in submission to their Babylonish master where they were and so he wept and groaned with the beloved but unworthy remnant to the last. It was for Daniel to be carried captive in the third year of Jehoiakim when Nebuchadnezzar verified the solemn warning to Hezekiah; though in Babylon God did not leave Himself without witness and showed where wisdom and His secret alone lay, even when He had raised up the Gentile empires and made His people Lo-ammi. Ezekiel was one of those carried into captivity in the subsequent reign of Jehoiakin, son of Jehoiakim, when the king of Babylon swept away all the better sort from the land and our prophet among the rest. There remained but one step lower, the calamitous reign of Zedekiah, that the anger of Jehovah might cast them all out from His presence because of manifold provocation and incurable rebellion. In view of this time, though also leaping over the times of the Gentiles of which Daniel treats, and dwelling richly on Israel's restoration at last, Ezekiel prophesied among the captives in Chaldea.
The holy energy, indignant zeal for God, and the moral authority of the prophet in reproving Israel, are strikingly apparent. Borne along, as in the majestic chariot of Jehovah's glory which he describes with the resistless might of its wheels below and wings above as the Spirit led, be nowhere flatters the people, but even in the captivity administers the sternest rebuke of the sins, not yet repented of, which had brought Israel so low. The roll spread before him and eaten by him was written within and without, lamentations and mourning and woe; and the prophet was to tell the rebellious people all Jehovah's words with his forehead made as an adamant, harder than flint. He, and he only save Daniel, it will be observed, has the title “Son of man,” excepting of course the Master but lowliest of servants, whose it was to appropriate every title of shame, suffering, and rejection, till the day come when they too shall be manifested with Him in glory.
Those who occupy themselves with the outer framework of the truth have not failed to notice the strong sense of clean and unclean, of Levitical sanctity, of temple imagery, of feasts and priests and sacrifices, so natural to one of the sacerdotal family. Of course these features are obvious and indisputable; but far from a rigid imitation of the Pentateuch we shall find that God asserts His title to modify, omit, or add in that day, when his fellow-prophet Jeremiah explicitly declares (Jer. 31:31-34) that Jehovah will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, “not according to the covenant I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah! But this shall be the covenant that I make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith Jehovah, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity and will remember their sins no more.” No doubt this is true of the Christian meanwhile, for the blood of the new covenant is already shed and ours by faith; but it will be applied to Israel and Judah as such through divine mercy in that day, as the verses of Jeremiah which follow (35-40) most clearly show.
In vain then do Rabbins reason on the unchangeableness of the law given by Moses: their own prophets refute them. And so the famous D. Kimchi owns in his comment on our prophet, as Albo and Nachmanides acknowledge also against the absolute claim of immutability. Indeed Albo expressly refutes the use Maimonides makes of Deut. 12:22 to the contrary, showing that the real bearing of Moses' warning is to restrain the Israelites from arbitrarily or in self-will presuming to add to or take from the law. In no way did Moses mean to deny the authority to do so by a prophet, especially in view of the vast change to be introduced by the presence of a reigning Messiah and the new covenant. Ezekiel predicts some strikingly characteristic changes when Israel are restored and the theocracy is once more in force, the details of which will appear as we pass through the book.
Some have complained of our prophet's obscurity. But there is really no just ground, though the complaint is as old at least as Jerome, who designates the book “a labyrinth of the mysteries of God.” The supposed darkness is owing to two things in particular. First, how could such a subject as depicting the divine government be simple? This, if done at all, must embrace immense height, depth, and breadth; and if symbol be used, it must require a compass entirely unexampled for the ordinary demands of the creature. Secondly, the mass of men in Christendom since Origen have adopted his vicious system of “spiritual alchemy,” as Hooker terms it, which seeks to change the Jewish hopes into the predictions of proper Christian blessings. No wonder such men find a cloudy mistiness overhanging his pictures. Apply his visions aright, and they will in general be found remarkably explicit and full of force. It is absurd to suppose that details so minute and so circumstantial are mere literary drapery.
The structure of the book is evident. The first half consists of prophecies in strict chronological order before the final destruction of Jerusalem, when Zedekiah brought on himself the just punishment of his rebellion and perjury. (Chaps, 1-24). Ezekiel shows under magnificent symbols followed up by the plainest charges of sin the hopelessness of every effort to shake off the Babylonish yoke, which Zedekiah was essaying through Egypt. But no: it was Jehovah who was judging Jerusalem, He who dwelt between the cherubim though he might employ Nebuchadnezzar. Morally it could not be otherwise. The doom of the people, city, temple, king, and people are all shown in this first half. The second opens with a kind of parenthetic transition in which he denounces seven objects of judgments among the nations surrounding or near the land, neglecting the time when these burdens were delivered, and grouping them in moral unity (chaps, 25-32); after which the prophet recurs distinctly to Israel, opens the individual ground on which God henceforth would deal with them (chap, 33), denounces first the guilty shepherds or princes (chap, 34) and then the hatred of mount Seir (chap, 35), next pledges first the moral (chap, 36) and then the corporate (chap, 37) restoration of all Israel, the overthrow of Gog and all his hosts (chaps, 38, 39), and finally the return of the glory of God, with the re-established sanctuary, ritual, and priesthood in the land, now indeed holy, as well as the re-arrangement of the twelve-tribed nationality under the prince; for the name of the city from that day shall be Jehovah-shammah. (Chaps, 40-48) Whether in judgment or in peaceful blessing, it is the day of Jehovah for the earth, not at all the foreshewn blessedness of Christianity as the allegorists teach. Such doctrine, whether patristic or puritan, is misleading and a delusion. These extremes meet in the common error which robs Christ and the church of that answer to His heavenly glory which it is the Holy Spirit's function to make good now here below, and which shall be enjoyed yet more, yea perfectly, when the Lord shall have come, changing our bodies into His likeness, and causing us to appear with Him in the heavenly glory of that day.
It is mere ignorance and malicious unbelief to call this Judaizing. For it is no question of the sort when we speak of the future prospects of Israel according to the prophets. Judaizing really means the mingling of Jewish elements with the gospel, and imposing them on Christians now. But the very point of the truth insisted on is, that Christians, caught up and glorified with Christ, will then have disappeared from the earth. Consequently it is the age to come, and another calling, when Israel shall be grafted into their own olive-tree. Hence, to look for the literal accomplishment of their visions is simply faith in the prophets, not Judaizing but rather a main safeguard against it; for we are thus kept the more from mingling their hopes with ours because we expect them to be fulfilled to Israel. The return from Babylon in no way met the closing prophecies; but this proves not the imperfection of Ezekiel's foreshadowing, but that his glorious anticipations are still to be fulfilled. The “all Israel” yet remains to be fulfilled when the Redeemer comes to Zion. Ezek. 20:33 is perfectly consistent with this; for Jeremiah and all the prophets teach the cutting off of apostates and rebels. Henderson therefore was not justified in saying that the discrepancies between the ancient temple and that described by Ezekiel are non-essential. They prove on the contrary that we must either give up the inspiration of the prophet or maintain that he predicts a return yet future with a new temple, and modified ritual, a fresh distribution of the land among the twelve tribes restored and blessed after their last enemies have been destroyed by divine judgments. No one supposes that he ceased to be a man when he became a prophet; but we are bound to believe that he was inspired so that his writings should give us God's word.

Notes on Luke 18:35-43

The final scene approaches. Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem and to present Himself in the flesh to the Jews for the last time. Our evangelist slowly traces this journey (chap. 9:51; 13:22, 31, 33; 17:11; 18:31; 19:28, 29, 37, 41), with the infinite consequences which flow from that cross which, to human eyes, was His rejection, but which faith knows to be the glorifying of God forever, as well as the only possible ground of salvation for sinners.
Jericho held a remarkable place as the way to Jerusalem from the Jordan, and of old, when it stood in its might, the key of the position. Hence its solemn destruction under Joshua; hence the curse pronounced on him who should dare to rebuild it. But there Elisha, after the translation of Elijah and his own crossing through the miraculously parted river, healed the waters. So here the Lord, drawing towards the close of His long and last journey, after the transfiguration, performs a miracle of mercy on the blind man. It was an especial sign of His Messiah-ship; and rightly therefore, led of God, did the blind man call, on Him as Son of David: so the three synoptic gospels carefully record.
It is to be observed however that not Mark or Luke but Matthew records the fact that two blind men were healed at this time. Further, Mark, who as usual adds details of the most graphic description, lets us know that the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, was thus healed as the Lord was going out of Jericho, Matthew also intimating that it was on leaving, not entering, the place. Luke on the other hand has been generally supposed to say that the miracle was performed on entering Jericho. So all the old English translations, Wiclif, Tyndale, Geneva, Cranmer, the Rhemish, as well as the authorized: so the Latin, Syriac, and other ancient versions, with most moderns.
But it appears to me that the Greek phrase is so constructed as to avoid any such conclusion, and that the genuine unforced meaning is “while he was near to Jericho,” ἐν τὦ ἐγγίζείν εἰς Ἱεριχώ. According to the usage of the New Testament there might have been ground for the objection raised, if Luke had employed the genitive absolute, ἐγγίζοντος δὲ αὐτοῦ, or ὡςἤγγισεν (or ἤγγιζεν) εἰς Ἱ. In strict grammatical nicety there is nothing to tie the sense to the entry into Jericho; it means equally well, as far as language is concerned, while the Lord was in the neighborhood.
I cannot doubt that what weighed with translators in general is the fact that chapter 19 opens with the Lord's entering and passing through Jericho. Hence it was assumed that the previously mentioned circumstance must have preceded this in time. And it must be owned that if Luke, as a rule, adhered to the order of occurrence in his account, it would be most natural to translate chapter 18:35 as in the authorized version. But it has been shown throughout our Gospel that he adopts another and. deeper order than the mere sequence of events, and habitually groups the words, works, and ways of our Lord in moral connection, whenever it is needful to this end putting together what may have been far apart in time.
In the present case it seems to have been the mind of the Spirit that all three who dwell on the Galilean ministry of Christ should mark Jericho and the healing of the blind there, as a common starting-point before His last formal appearance in Jerusalem. We can understand therefore why Luke, even if the incident of Zacchaeus occurred after the miracle, should according to his manner postpone his account of it till he had told us of the blind man healed. But there seems to have been a yet stronger reason of similar character in the fact that, if the healing had been introduced after Zacchaeus, when (I have no doubt) it really took place, adherence to the mere chronology of the facts would have spoiled the very impressive order actually adopted, in which we see the tale of Zacchaeus with salvation brought to his house though a chief tax-gatherer, followed at once by the parable of the pounds, which together beautifully set forth the general character and differing objects of the two advents of the Lord, who was about to suffer as the ground of righteousness and salvation for the lost, instead of at once establishing His throne in Zion as others fondly thought. If this were the design of the inspiring Spirit, as I conceive it certainly to be, gathered from the special character traceable throughout its course, it does not seem possible to suggest any other order so admirably calculated to convey it as that which is pursued. Hence the point in verse 35 was to choose a phrase, which, while not breaking the thread of the narrative and of course in words thoroughly consistent with the exact truth, should nevertheless convey the thought of a time or state during which the particular act related took place. This, in my opinion, has been done perfectly in the language of Luke: so much so, that, granting the aim to be as I suppose, no man can desire better words to combine what is intimated or to avoid a false inference for all aware of that design. If on the contrary men, however learned, assume a bare order of fact, this naturally would influence their translation; and so I think we may fairly account for the common mistake.
Accordingly there is no need of resorting to any of the various methods of reconciling Luke's account with Matthew and Mark. We are not driven to the harsh supposition that Luke's blind man was healed before entering Jericho, and that the news of this reached Mark's blind man, Bartimaeus, so that he went through a similar process of appeal on the Lord's exit, as Origen and Augustine supposed in early days, Greswell, &c, in our own time. Nor is it necessary (though undoubtedly quite legitimate, and the fact elsewhere) to suppose that Matthew combined the two instances in one summary. Less reasonable is the view of Euthymius who will have it that all three instances were distinct, and therefore that four blind men were healed at this time near Jericho. Nor is there any substantial ground to argue, as men have done from Calvin to Wordsworth, that the blind man began crying as our Lord approached Jericho but was not healed till another joined him outside, and both received sight as Jesus left the place. Still more violent are the hypotheses of Markland and of Macknight. The truth is that there is nothing in this to reconcile, all being evidently harmonious, when the language of Luke is seen to be such as falls in with the time and place described more precisely by Matthew and Mark. It may be well however to add that Matthew elsewhere names two where Mark and Luke as here speak only of one, as in the case of the demoniacs. (Comp. Matt. 8:28-34 with Mark 6:20 and Luke 8:26-39.) See also Matt. 9:27-31. This was all right, when the fact (as here) warranted it, in one writing especially for Jews, with whom it was a maxim to demand at least two witnesses. The other evangelists were led to dwell only on the one that best suited the design of his own Gospel.
It is striking also to note that as there was a reason why Matthew, and not Mark or Luke, should record pairs which were healed, so there is the strongest indirect evidence in this against the very poor theory that the omissions of the first evangelist were supplied in measure by the second, and yet more by the third and so on. For it was the earliest who in these instances speaks of the two; which is irreconcilable, on the supplementary theory, with the second and third mentioning but one. The Holy Spirit made them by His power the vessels for setting forth the various fullness of Jesus the Son of God on the earth. Each had his own line given and perfectly carried out, and facts or sayings are recorded by each, whether reported by the others or not, as they bore on his proper object.
“And it came to pass, as he was near unto Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting by the way side begging; and when he heard a crowd passing, he asked what this was. And they told him, Jesus the Nazarene goeth by; and he called aloud, saying, Jesus, Son of David, pity me. And those in advance rebuked him that he should be silent; but he kept crying much more, Son of David, pity me. And Jesus stopped and ordered him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, What wilt thou that I should do for thee? And he said, Lord, that I receive sight. And Jesus said, Receive sight: thy faith hath healed thee. And at once he received sight, and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people saw and gave praise to God.” (Ver. 35-43.)
The Lord is still the rejected One, not understood even by His disciples, yet with a heart towards the most lowly and wretched in Israel who cried to Him in faith. The blind man near Jericho was one of them, and seized the moment of His presence, made known to his sightless eyes by the heedless noise of those who seeing saw not. Blindness in part had happened to Israel in good sooth, blindness most of all to such of them as least acknowledged it. Here was one who, near the city of the curse, dared to confess Him to be the Messiah whom the religious chiefs had long desired to destroy and sooner than they hoped were to be allowed it to the full—dared to ask of Him that sign of opening the eyes of the blind peculiar to the Son of David, as even Rabbinical tradition confessed. The story of His gracious power was not lost on the blind man. Now was his opportunity: might it not be the last? He called aloud; and the more rebuked, the more by far he cried. If to others Jesus was but the Nazarene, to him none other than David's Son. “Son of David, pity me.” And never in vain goes forth the appeal of distress to Him. How pleasant in His ears the persistent call on His name! Jesus stops, commands him to be brought, inquires into his want, and gives all he asks. So will He in the day of His power when Israel (the remnant becoming the people) shall be made willing, shall call on Him and find sight, salvation, and every other good thing to the praise and glory of God.
But it was still the day of His humiliation, of Israel's blind and willful unbelief; and Jesus steadily pursues His sorrowful path to the holy city about to perpetrate the most unhallowed deed of this world's sad history.

Notes on Romans 11:1-10

It was the prophet Isaiah then, after Moses, not Paul, who had distinctly pronounced Israel a rebellious people, spite of God's daily pleading with them, and the call of the Gentiles who had not sought it. It was in vain to quarrel with the gospel on this score. The question is raised consequently whether Israel was wholly to lose their position in God's favor according to promise. The apostle proves the contrary in this chapter.
“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? Far be it! For I also am an Israelite, of Abraham's seed, of Benjamin's tribe. God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew. Know ye not what the scripture saith in [the section of] Elias, how he pleadeth with God against Israel? 'Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have dug down thine altars; and I only am left, and they seek my life?' But what saith the divine answer to him? ‘I have left to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.' Thus then in the present time also there hath been a remnant according to election of grace; but if by grace, no longer of works, since [if it were,] grace becomes no longer grace [; but if of works, it is no longer grace, since (if it were) work is no longer work]. What then? That which Israel seeketh for he did not obtain, but the election obtained, and the rest were hardened; even as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupefaction, eyes not to see and ears not to hear unto this day.' And David saith, ‘Let their table be for a snare, and for a trap, and for a stumblingblock, and for a recompense to them; let their eyes be darkened not to see, and bow down their back alway.” (Ver. 1-10.)
This is the first answer to the question of Israel's total and final rejection. God foreknew His people when He chose and called them; and, knowing all their evil beforehand, He certainly will not cast them off. He has not done so, as Paul's own case proved; for he was no bad instance—he who had shared in the nation's guiltiest prejudices and bitterest unbelief and rejection of Jesus; yet had God called him. His love lingered over His poor unworthy people even now, as Paul was also a pattern for them who should hereafter believe on Christ Jesus to eternal life. On him first was the Lord showing the whole of His longsuffering: yet was he also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin, the one recalling the ancient promises, the other subsequent sin, himself withal present electing mercy, a pledge of the future grace which would save the people fully. Were the exclusion absolute, Paul certainly could not have been brought into His favor. But there is further proof still. “Know ye not what the scripture saith” in the account of Elijah? The disheartened prophet saw himself alone faithful in that dark page of Israel's history—himself therefore the object of hatred unto death as far as king and people could. But the divine admonition let him know of a complete remnant, “seven thousand, such as bowed not the knee to Baal.” Thus then in the present time also there has been a remnant “according to election of grace.” It was electing grace now as then. The general state was at that time undeniably apostate: what was it in Paul's day?
This gives the apostle the occasion, never let slip by the Holy Spirit, of asserting grace in its exclusion of works—in their mutual exclusion, if we accept the received reading. But I do not see that the bracketed clause adds to the precision of the truth; whereas it was natural enough to tack it on, especially as the form in the Vatican copy seems an evident error (χάρις instead of έργον in the end of the disputed clause).
How then stands the case? “What Israel seeks, this it obtained not, but the election obtained; and the rest were hardened.” It will be noticed that those we call ordinarily the remnant or righteous portion of Israel are designated “the election,” while the mass are called the rest or remnant. “Hardened” also is the right sense, rather than blinded (though this is also taught elsewhere). It may be that ἐπωρώθησαν was confounded in thought and sense with ἐπηρώθησαν, as another has pointed out in the Vatican text of Job 17:7 in the LXX.
This leads the apostle to adduce the testimony of scripture, in the words (apparently mingled) of Isa. 29:10 and Deut. 29:4, followed up by the still more tremendous imprecation of David in Psa. 69:22, 23, all speaking of the ungodly in Israel. Here again the law, the psalms, and the prophets gave their joint overwhelming evidence in terms so vehement that the apostle had rather to bring in “strong consolation” from the unfailing faithfulness of God for at least a remnant as we have seen, before he established every word by these “two or three witnesses” for the general condition of Israel. What more apt to clench the question? What wiser course possible for the apostle?
But let me refer to Calvin's comment on these quotations; for, able as he was, pious too and grave in general, his narrow system exposed him here to adventure remarks on the apostle no less unworthy than presumptuous. “Que adducit testimonia, quanquam ex variis potius scripturae locis collecta, quam ex uno loco desumpta sunt, omnia tamen videntur aliena esse ab ejus proposito, si ex circumstanciis suis ea propius expendas. Ubique eniam videas excaecationem et indurationem commemorari, tanquam Dei flagella, quibus jam admissa ab impiis flagitia ulciscitur: Paulus autem probare his contendit, excaecari non eos, qui sua malitia jam id meriti sint, sed qui ante mundi creationem reprobati sunt a Deo. (!) Hune nodum ita breviter solvas, Quod origo impietatis, que ita in se provocat Dei furorem, est perversitas naturae a Deo derelictae. Quare non abs re Paulus de aeterna reprobatione (?) haec citavit, que ex ea prodeunt ut fructus ex arbore, et rivus a scaturigine. Impii quidem propter sua scelera justo Dei judicio caecitate puniuntur: sed si fontem exitii eorum quaerimus, eo deveniendum erit, quod a Deo maledicti, nihil omnibus factis, dictis, consiliis suis, quam maledictionem accersere et accumulare possunt. Imo aeternae reprobationis ita abscondita est causa, ut nihil aliud nobis supersit, quam admirari incomprehensibile Dei consilium sicuti tandem ex clausula patebit. Stulte autem faciunt, qui simulac verbum factum est de propinquis causis, earum praetextu hane primam, que sensum nostrum latet, obtegere tentant: acsi Deus non libere ante Adae lapsum statuisset de toto humano genere quod visum est, quia damnat vitiosum as pravum ejus semen: deinde quia, peculiariter singulis quam meriti sunt scelerum mercedem rependit." Calv. in loc. i. 149, ed. Tholuck, Halae, 1831.
One could understand a believer perhaps saying that the citations of an apostle seemed foreign to his purpose when not examined with their context; but is it too much if we denounce as irreverent no less than unintelligent the man who could venture so to speak, for no better reason than a blind love of His own scheme? It is excellent and right that scripture should declare hardening to be an infliction of God after men have already proved their ungodliness. It is false and bad to say that Paul labors to prove here that the blinding was not because it was deserved but in consequence of eternal reprobation. In fact scripture teaches no such doctrine. Nowhere are any said: to be rejected before the foundation of the world. Nor this only: they are punished at the world's end for their wickedness, not because of a divine decree. Indeed a judgment in this case would be nugatory. But they are judged each according to their works, and the lake of fire is their sentence; though scripture takes care after this to append the divine side, adding that if any one was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. So in a previous chapter of this epistle Paul had carefully shown how God, willing to show His wrath and make His power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath fitted) for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy which He had before prepared for glory. To me I confess it looks like the blinding influence of falsehood when men overlook the difference of vessels of wrath fitted on the one hand to destruction, and of vessels of mercy which He on the other hand before made ready for glory. It is guilty man who is the agent in sin and misery; God only who is the source of all the good, though His longsuffering be conspicuous most of all if possible in bearing with the evil.
In short then not only not Paul but no other inspired writer ever speaks of “eternal reprobation;” it is merely a dream of a certain school. So the curse of God follows, instead of causing, the impious ways of men. Arminianism is wholly astray no doubt in reducing God's election to a mere foresight of good in some creatures; but Calvinism is no less erroneous in imputing the evil lot of the first Adam race to God's decree. They both spring from analogous roots of unbelief: Calvinism reasoning, contrary to scripture, from the truth of election to the error of eternal reprobation; Arminianism rightly rejecting that reprobation but wrongly reasoning against election. Like other systems they are in part true and in part false—true in what they believe of scripture, false in yielding to human thoughts outside scripture: happy those, who are content as Christians with the truth of God and refuse to be partisans on either side of men!

All Things Are of God: Part 1

(2 Cor. 5:18)
The coming in of Christ by incarnation laid the foundation for a new course of action between God and mankind, according to what Christ was in the glory of His person and the perfection of His ways and work. The objects too for which He came opened out in their accomplishment on earth two new centers of operation for God in grace and government; and these were at the mount of transfiguration by personal glory and righteousness, finally at the cross by His substitution for the guilty. On the mount of His transfiguration He shone resplendent in a light above the glory of the sun; and was invested with honor and majesty, when there came to Him such a voice from the excellent glory, “This is my beloved Son, hear him.” He clad Himself with righteousness, as a cloak; and stood the accredited possessor of far more than man had ever received and forfeited. How different afterward was the garden of Gethsemane, where this same man of sorrows sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground! Still more different was mount Calvary, when Jesus was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and His visage was more marred than any man's, and His form more than the sons of men. His majesty and kingly power were also denied Him, and the soldiers stripped Him and put on Him a scarlet robe, and platted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him saying, “Hail king of the Jews.”
But between Himself and mankind there yet lay outside all this the fierce wrath of God against sin; and into this deep suffering and woe He passed, when, as the sacrifice offered up to God without a spot, He was the substituted One, and cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
This is what these two centers were to the Lord—on the mount of His transfiguration, the voice from the cloud claimed Him as worthy to receive honor and majesty—on the mount of His crucifixion, when under the judgment of God for our sins, and the sword awoke against the man who was Jehovah's fellow, He cried with a loud voice as the forsaken One and gave up the ghost. If these two mountains, in their varied characters, were all this to Christ; what must they have been as the new centers of operation between God in His holiness and sinners in their sins, and between the throne of God's righteous government and the world? They became indeed the great turning-points of another history, and got their answer from God in the rent veil which till then had concealed Him; and in the resurrection of the second man into the heavens which received Him. The glory of the Father took Him from the cross (the place of His own victory in divine counsels and foreknowledge) and from the sepulcher, where He overcame him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and He was carried up in the cloud crowned with glory and honor. The second Man has gone from the cross to the right hand of the throne of God and become the head of a new creation; nor is there any other but this representative man in the heavens where God is. A believer in Christ must therefore look out of himself to Christ, and if he would know the present truth about himself, “this truth is in Jesus.”
It is a wonderful thing (when understood) to see bow by the cross of Christ we pass out of our old relationship and standing in Adam with the penalties and consequences of sin which rested upon us as connected with the man who fell. Death has done this. By the death of the last Adam we are forever separated from the condemnation and judgment inflicted on the first. It is as wonderful to see how through the risen and exalted Son of man we pass into our new standing of acceptance and completeness before God, and enter upon our relationships as sons of the Father, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. The ascension of Christ has done this. By His exaltation we know ourselves made the righteousness of God in Him. Again, how blessed it is to be made conscious that the Holy Ghost has come down from the Father and the Son to dwell in us as the temples of the living God, and to make true in us that which is true of us in Christ. Only thus can such verities become our most familiar thoughts, our daily bread, and source of supply to us as new creatures in Christ. We are kept in this nearness to God by a power equal to that which quickened us and set us in these relationships with our glorified Head and Lord. How else can communion and enjoyment with the Father and the Son be maintained in us against all the contradictions of the flesh, the world, and the devil, unless the fact of our new creation can be displayed to faith in Christ at the right hand of God, as well as what we are by grace as in Him? An important scripture for the establishment of the Lord's people in the truth about themselves is shown in Eph. 4: “But ye have not so learned Christ, if so be that ye have heard him and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus; that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new man, which according to God is created in righteousness and holiness of truth.”
The Holy Ghost, true in His operations in us, cannot therefore accept the experiences we naturally have of ourselves, as ruined and in the flesh (before we heard or learned Christ) as the ground of that work which He is come down to carry on in us, as redeemed out of the Adam state in which we were by nature. The Holy Ghost testifies of Christ to us, and witnesses that “as Christ is, so are we in this world.” He therefore judges and keeps the sentence of death upon every motion in the flesh, which if followed out would make us unlike Christ. Working mightily in the inner man, He produces in us as new creatures the affections which are suited to the Father and the Son for the fellowship into which we are called. Moreover, the Spirit of God is true in divine operation to the work of Christ at the cross, keeping the old man in us under death, which was there judicially put to death in Christ, “knowing this that our old man has been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
The motives also which are supplied to us for practical conduct, necessarily spring from the truth between God and ourselves, as to what we are by the death and resurrection of Christ, namely, How shall we that have died to sin, live any longer therein? And again, “Know ye not that so many as have been baptized unto Christ Jesus, have been baptized unto his death?” It is important to see that Christ is the rule of the Spirit's testimony to us and work in us, both as to life and death; and that Christ must therefore be the object and rule of our faith and intercourse with God. Equally important is it to get—our hearts and consciences assured that God Himself owns none other than Christ as the ground of His present and future actings towards us. It is evident that all steadfastness and growth in a believer in Christ, as regards himself and his intercourse with God, about sin and holiness, the flesh and the Spirit, grace and righteousness, heaven and hell, depend upon the person and work of Christ, as the established and unchangeable basis of all communion between us, as redeemed unto God, by the blood of His Son.
With a view of bringing these precious realities nearer to our souls, and ourselves more under their power, we may consider a little in detail, and perhaps in application, the blessed facts already stated. These are, that God is unalterably true to Christ and His work, that the truth about ourselves is now in Jesus and nowhere else, that the Holy Ghost both by testimony and operation in us is true to the person and work of Christ on earth and in heaven, and that we are called out in faith and in fad to be true to the truth, by learning Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. Such are the gracious lessons which the Father's love has given us to know, as eternal realities between Himself and the children of His adopting grace. The soul that is not learning them in communion with God, under the anointing of the Spirit in the peace which passeth all understanding, must be thrown back from Christ upon self, and the bitter experiences of what the flesh is; and thus be tossed to and fro by its deficiencies one day, or the hope of attainment the next. Consequently there will be conflicts with evil and disappointment every day. Multitudes find busy occupation on this ground of self-seeking, making their being something the object instead of Christ. But building ourselves up in our most holy faith is building up one another in Christ; and to this we will now turn.
A great question upon the matter before us is, What do we understand by “as the truth is in Jesus?” One way of reply, and helpful as introductory, may be to ask what the truth was about us in Adam, by his fall. The first half of the epistle to the Romans is largely occupied with an answer to this question. Measured by the righteousness of God there was none righteous, no not one; measured by the glory of God all have sinned and come short of the glory of it. Further, “by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.” Thus judgment came upon all men to condemnation. Besides this, as children of Adam, chapter 7 speaks of the indwelling sin and imparted corruption; and as a consequence of these actual transgressions and guilt, so that our state as under condemnation and our alienation from God by nature are summed up in these words, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
(To be continued)

Imitators of God

Eph. 5:1, 2
There is hardly anything that more shows the tendency of believers (for I speak of them) to miss the best part of their blessings, than the way in which they lose sight of God himself in each one of their blessings.
Undoubtedly the blessing is for man; but how much more sweet, and full, and worthy when we have distinctly before our hearts that it is a blessing, not only from God, but according to Him; that He could not give a blessing short of His own glory, more particularly now that Christ has come and has accomplished redemption! God, I say, could not give a blessing except according to His own fullness and glory. Hence it does not matter what it is, if He forgives, He forgives like none other, if He shows love, it must be according to His own nature, not ours merely. The blessing does come in all reality down to the very smallest need of our souls; but it is the blessing of God which comes from Himself, according to His affections and His majesty.
So too, if we look at the principle or animating spring of service every day, we lose immensely by leaving God out of it. Take for instance this: the great thought of by far the largest part of the children of God is that of doing good. I am now giving the children of God credit for thoughts above self, being in fact persuaded, that he or she cannot be a child of God without thoughts of good towards others. But this is not enough. It never meets the mind of God. It is good as far as it goes; but most assuredly it is much short of that to which the Spirit of God here invites our souls. Certainly it was never thus with Christ. Was there ever one that went about doing good with such entire self-renunciation as the Lord Jesus? But was this all? Had He merely the sense of a miserable world, of men blind here and lame there and wretched everywhere? He felt this as no other heart ever did, but there never was a soul that came under the blessing of the Lord Jesus, even for the least want, weakness, infirmity or suffering of the body, where the Lord Jesus did not go down in spirit under the evil that He removed, and rise up to God in order to turn all to His glory. And we are not only entitled to do so, but we wrong our God and Father where we do not. You will find therefore that one of the great signs of the power of the Spirit of God working is this, that wherever the blessing comes the first effect is, where the Holy Ghost is active, not enjoying the blessing only, but the soul bowing to God and blessing Him. It is not merely man conscious of blessing and occupied with the profession of it. This is real no doubt; but it would be much more real, and with less of self about it, were God Himself the first thought, rather than the blessing that has come to one.
So in early days we find in Eliezer the servant of Abraham, who sets forth to us peculiarly in type the action of the Holy Ghost; he looks up to God in a spirit of dependence before the answer, of praise after it is given. He does not venture haphazard to set about his master's command; and hence he bows down before God before entering the city, and receives the answer on the spot: that man does not take the answer and rejoice, that there is an end of the difficulty and that the blessing is come, but he worships the God who had given him the blessing. And so whenever God is in the thought, it is He to whom we shall give the first place. If this was the case with Eliezer, how much more was it in the Lord Jesus! We see it all through the life and in the death of Jesus. Just as with the natural man, God is in none of his thoughts; so where the power of the Spirit of God gives grace to reign, God is in all the thoughts, and He is the first thought; and where He is first, by God's grace He will be the last. But in general we are apt to look at ourselves first if not always, occupied with the blessing, and talking about it. Thus the Blesser is so far shrouded, as our own having a part in it is prominent before our souls.
And if we take the fruit of the blessing of God, devotedness to Him, it is not merely that we are called to be the witnesses of God to poor, perishing sinners, and to those that are in sorrow, though this is quite true, but where there is reality about the soul there will be reality about everything, and what gives reality about soul, body, circumstances, everything, is this, that there is simplicity in having to do with God. This was found in Jesus as it was nowhere else. Therefore in this very place where the apostle is exhorting us to be followers of God as dear children, he could not but at once bring in Christ, and walking in love. Why? because people are so wretched and so needy? No, that is perfectly true, but “walk in love as Christ also hath loved us.” This shows us the manner of it. It will be the spring of a measure that can never fail, “as Christ also hath loved us.” Do we stop here? Many do. It is our constant tendency, where, on the contrary, we ought, as it were, only to be carried back on a wave of blessing, which as it came from God also ends in God Himself. Christ “gave himself for us.” It was for us; but it was also “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” And if there had not been this, as the deeper object and higher character of the work of the Lord Jesus, it would not have been perfection. It would have been human kindness, not the choicest fruit of divine love. As love comes out from God, it always refers back to God. Lovingkindness may be moved by human compassions being drawn out or feelings wrought upon, and you then simply attach the person to yourself; whereas if you attach the person by that act in thanksgiving unto God, the difference in the effect is incalculable.
And this first reference to God is not only found in Christ, and of course in perfection in Him: but we may see the same thing in 2 Cor. 8:5, where the apostle is speaking about the laborers. But we must not leave the best of the blessing to be carried off as a prize by the laborers who serve in the word of God. The weakest saint of His ought to look to Christ that he may be found to be the vessel of the finest affections of God. It behooves us to act up to our proper dignity, and in no way can we do so except as Christ is before us. Gift is nothing as to this; gift or no gift, young Christian or old, we have Christ, and the Spirit of God will surely be with us to make us think of the truth and to fill our hearts with it if we are only desiring it. What does the apostle say with regard to this service of the saints? “This they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord and unto us by the will of God.” They first gave themselves to the Lord: where this is the case, we must not wonder at the result. They “first gave their own selves to the Lord,” &c. With the Lord the object before us, the unseemliness, the forwardness, the hanging back, the manifold ways that show how weak and worthless the flesh is—all these things are corrected and rebuked. Though we are but earthen vessels, yet grace puts the richest treasure there; but the just issue is only as we look steadily to Him who gave it so freely. And the proof of the Spirit's working in us is this, that our ways are comely, and so they please the Lord, that He Himself is the fashioner of our path and conduct, that we are willing to listen and learn, and to bear the judgment of others. No one ought to be above learning; and we prove more the strength of our faith by patience than in any other way. When we have not the consciousness that we are right before the Lord and that we serve Him, we are apt to be impatient; but if our ways please the Lord, we can afford to bear what others may say, if they be ever so wrong; and we can be thankful, if need be, to be set right ourselves. It is Christ alone who can make or keep us such as He would have us. The Lord grant that we, giving ourselves to the Lord and to His saints by the will of God, may be found walking in love till that day!

Brief Thoughts on Philippians 1

The epistle to the Philippians has a peculiar character, rather distinct from the other epistles; though there are indeed traces of the same in the epistle to Timothy. Taking it characteristically, it is the epistle of Christian experience. We do not get doctrinal teaching in it, but the experience of Christian walk—not the experience of one who is going wrong, but of one who is going right, the experience which the Spirit of God gives. The apostle is perfectly clear as to his position, yet here he counts himself not to have attained anything. He is on the road, he has not got there; but Christ had laid hold on him. When I speak of my place in Christ, as in Ephesians, it is in heavenly places; but, as a matter of fact, we are here going on through the earth full of temptations and snares. Philippians gives us—not of course failure—but the path of the Christian, salvation being looked at throughout as at the end of the wilderness. Paul had no doubt that Christ had laid hold on him for this blessedness, but he had not got there. Salvation is always looked at as the close of the journey in Philippians.
It is so much the more remarkable as to the Christian's path that you never find sin mentioned from the beginning to the end of the epistle. The thorn in the flesh was needed when Paul came down from paradise; it was not that the flesh had got any better. The thorn was something to hinder sin, something that made him outwardly contemptible in his ministry. Every one, probably, would have a different thorn according to his need. There is no change in the flesh, but the power of the Spirit of God is such that the flesh is kept down. “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus” would not be necessary if the flesh were any better. It is not that there is any uncertainty as to salvation or acceptance, but that we should so walk through the wilderness that the flesh should be shut up, as it were. Suppose I have a troublesome man in the house; if I keep him locked up, I am quite easy about him; but sometimes we are foolish enough to leave the door open. God looks at us as dead with Christ, and we are called on to reckon ourselves dead. I have a title to do it because Christ has died, and I am crucified with Christ. It is not only that we are born of God, but we have died with Christ.
Up to the middle of Rom. 5 sins are treated of, and atonement; in verse 12 nature is dealt with. We have each our own sins, but “by one man's disobedience” we have the same nature, we are all in the same boat; the remedy for this is that we have died with Christ. You cannot say of a man lying dead on the floor, “You have got bad passions and self-will;” he has neither passions nor self-will, he is dead.
Then we have the power of Christ. “In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” You say you are in Christ, then your acceptance is perfect; if you are in Christ, Christ is in you: then let me see Christ and nothing else.
If you are dead, you cannot live on in sins. If you have got Christ, it is in His death you have got Him. In Col. 3 we have God sees us as dead; in Rom. 6. I reckon myself dead; in 2 Cor. 4 we have “bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” This is going very far indeed. Death to a Paul was so realized that only the life of Jesus works in him.
In Phil. 1 we see the position and life of the Christian in this scene; in chapter 2 we see the pattern of Christ; in chapter 3 the energy that carries the Christian through this world, all things being dross and dung that he may win Christ; in chapter 4 we see the Christian's superiority to all circumstances. We have in this epistle the whole character of Christian life; this assumes that our place in Christ is settled. You cannot manifest Christ if you have not Christ. Assuming that Christ has borne our sins, and that we have died with Him, we get on that foundation the unfolding of the path of the Christian, the manifestation of this life we have got from God (a thing John looks at abstractedly in itself); “He that is born of God doth not commit sin.” The Christian is to manifest the life of Christ, and nothing else. “Ye are” (not “ought to be") “the epistle of Christ,” and let Christ be read in you as plainly as the law in the tables of stone. As Christ represents us before God, so you appear in the presence of the world for Christ. It is a great thing to say that my heart is so full of Christ that nothing but Christ appears. If I am in lowliness of heart before Him, living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, I shall manifest Christ. In these days when the word of God is so called in question, it is blessed to think how a single verse of scripture was sufficient for Him for authority, and sufficient for the devil who had not a word to say.
There is no uncertainty as to the faithfulness of Christ in bringing us through the wilderness. The moment the Christian looks at himself in Christ, there is no “if;” but the moment you get a Christian in the wilderness, there are “ifs,” not that there is the smallest doubt, but to bring in dependence. We are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” —no doubt here, but dependence. I am “the righteousness of God in him.” “If ye hold fast the beginning of your confidence;” if I hold fast, I am not to be trusted—it is positive dependence every moment; I learn that. The mischief of the state of the heart is that, as to will, man has got independent. The whole thing for us is to get to absolute dependence on infallible faithfulness, on unwearied love to carry us through. The heart is brought back to blessed dependence; the dependence is blessed, but the sense of that faithful love is unfailing joy and rest. It is not that the “if” is not true, but the Father's hand will never let it take place. We have grace to help in every time of need; without Him we can do nothing; with Him, in a certain sense, everything. We learn here that I can never excuse myself if I let the flesh act. The existence of the flesh does not give a bad conscience: otherwise we should never have a good one.
“And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment, that ye may approve things that are excellent.” There is growth. What I desire to press is, the practical place into which God has brought us in grace to Himself. “Thou hast guided them by thy strength to thy holy habitation.” That is where you are brought: God has brought you to Himself. It is not a rule imposed, but Christ revealed. The question for you as Christians is, Are you walking in the light as God is in the light? God is light and love; His essential names. You are brought to God without a veil, and there is light on everything you do.
God has brought us to know Christ: “This is my beloved Son,” that is what I delight in. The more we look at Him the more we see there is the place God has brought us. If heaven opens on Him, it opens on us; if God owns Him as Son, He owns us as sons.
Now we have to learn Christ. Has Christ had such a place in your hearts today, that the things which spring from Christ sprung from you? Have you understood that Christ has brought you to Himself? Now especially it is important that Christians should be Christians. What He was before God in perfection reproduced itself before men to please His Father. Are you learning Christ, beloved friends? When I look at Christ, I see God manifested in a man in this world, the expression and pattern of what God delights in. I am not before God on the ground of what I have done, or what I am, but on the ground of Christ. There is for us this continually learning Christ. God has been revealed to us, we have seen what He is—seen it in light to love it. It is not an effort that I may get more like Christ, but that, according to the knowledge of Him I have got, there should be nothing contrary to that knowledge. I do not expect a babe to be a man. When one sees a babe delighting in its mother, and obedient, it is just as delightful in its way as to see a man.
“That in nothing I may be ashamed, but that with nil boldness, as always, Christ may be magnified in my body whether by life or by death.” Whether it were life or death that he came across, Christ would be always glorified in his body. The Christian, having his eye on Christ, knows no standard but Christ in glory. We are “to be conformed to the image of his Son;” this is the blessed hope of the Christian and nothing short of it. “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly;” there is no doubt, no uncertainty of our having it, or of what it is. Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren” —they like Him. Christ “shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”
I see Christ up there, and I get this unspeakably simple truth that when I was a poor sinner, another man stepped in and set me free. “Let these go their way,” Christ said of His disciples; they go away, they run—poor work, but they are safe. He takes the whole thing on Himself, and He is to be the judge. The perfect good of God and the perfect evil of man met at the cross; everything was settled there. The new heavens and the new earth depend upon the cross. The Man who was there made sin is now sitting on the right hand of God in glory. The Holy Ghost comes down and makes me know that my place is settled before God. A sinner cannot have confidence if sin is not put away, but there He is, the pattern of what I am to be, our “forerunner.”
I am going to bear the image of the heavenly; I want to attain that, to win Christ, to be like Him forever. The treasure is indeed in an earthen vessel, but I have got the treasure. I never rest until I am like Christ in glory. Christ is my life; that life lives on Christ as its object; I am going to be like Him, I shall never be satisfied till then. The Spirit of God realizes this in our hearts in power. The light that shines from the glory shines in my heart.
Even before chapter 4 how perfectly the apostle puts the heart at peace. “Some preach Christ even of envy and strife:” never mind, if Christ is preached. What peace of heart he had! He had been in prison for four years, in the most trying circumstances; “all this,” he says, “shall turn to my salvation.”
It is what is behind that faith gets hold of! The wretched Jews, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, send the soldiers to break their legs; and what did they do? They sent one of them right into paradise!
Paul has been feeding the church ever since from that prison at Borne.
“To depart and be with Christ is far better; nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” So completely happy, so completely settled that I do not know which to choose! Self is gone. It would be worth while to stay because I can labor for Christ. Christ loves the church: then I shall stay! With him it was laboring for Christ, or living with Christ. Christ had such a place that the power of circumstances disappears. How near he lived to Christ! There was not perfection—not yet—but he had Christ completely. He was living up to Christ in the measure to which he had attained.
We may get a blessed truth, as Peter did, revealed by the Father, a real revelation, I do not question that, but the flesh may not be broken down up to the measure of what we have been taught. Peter was doing Satan's work, and Christ said to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Would not Christ have to call you Satan in something?
If we are not bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, our condition of soul is not up to the measure in which we have been taught.
Have you the true desire? Is there a locked up chamber in your heart? Christ will open it some day. Can you say, “Search me, Ο God, and know my heart.... and lead me in the way everlasting?”
The Lord grant us wisdom to understand His love!

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 1

(1 Peter 3:18-20)
It may interest and I trust also profit the reader, if we not only examine this scripture but review the questions raised on it for ages. Here many a Christian finds perplexity, rejecting what does not fall in with the analogy of faith, yet unwilling to doubt what seems intimated by the letter of the word. He is ready to suspect himself of failure in spiritual intelligence and to question whether there might not be some unconscious insubjection of heart and mind to the perfect revelation of God, The chief at least of the speculations in which men of reputation have indulged in ancient and modern times will claim a notice, in the hope of satisfying the believer that human thoughts are ever worthless and that divine writ is clothed by the Spirit with self-evidencing light and power for all who have their hearts opened to the Lord and are self-judged in His sight. It will be seen too that the most exact criticism in the details of the clauses confirms the general scope derived from the context as a whole, and that grammatical precision points with equal force in the same direction. Thus from every point of view the truth comes out with a fullness of proofs proportioned to the closeness of our investigation, once we have the right object and aim of the passage clearly ascertained and held firmly before our eyes.
I. The true text is ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς ἅπαξ περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἒπαθε, δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, ἵνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάγη τῶ θεῶ, θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι, ἐν ὧ καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῆ πνεύμασι πορευθεὶς ἐκήρνξεν, ἀπειθήσασί ποτε ὅτε ἀπεξεδέχετο ἡ τοῦ θεοῦ μακροθυμία ἐν ἡμέραις Νῶε κατασκευαζομένης κιβωτοῦ, εἰς ἥν ὁλίγοι, τοῦτ' ἔστιν ὀκτὼ ψυχαί, διεσώθησαν δἰ ὕδατος. “Because Christ also once suffered for sins, just for unjust, that he might bring us to God, put to death in flesh but made alive in [the] Spirit, in which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, disobedient on a time when the long-suffering of God was waiting in [the] days of Noah while an ark was being prepared, in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.”
The connection and scope is evident. The apostle is exhorting the believers to a patient life of suffering so as to fill with shame those who vented their spite on their good behavior in Christ. Who could gainsay that it was better, did the will of God so will, to suffer while doing well than doing ill; and this because Christ also suffered (but He suffered once, once for all) for sins? This should be enough: we should suffer not for sins, but only for righteousness or for Christ's name sake. It was His to suffer for us, this once and forever, just for unjust persons (for such were we), that He might bring us to God. It is ours to suffer at times especially, but in principle always while in this present evil world. The καί connects Christ and us as suffering, but the contrast is as striking as it is morally suggestive. To understand with some περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν as a point of comparison between Him and us under such a junction is to miss the reasoning utterly, not to speak of failure in reverence towards the Savior in that work which stands far above all comparison. This ought to have been too plain to need further reproof from δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, where His solitary and unapproachable place is set out. It was His alone thus to bring us near to God. The participles that follow tell us how this was done: “Put to death in flesh but made alive in [the] Spirit.”
But here a very important question arises. The article is certainly to be eliminated: what is the bearing of its absence on the meaning? If the articles were inserted, τῆ σαρκί, and τὦπν., these would be the contrast of the two parts of our Lord's being as man, the outer and the inner; were it τήν a. and το πν., it would be the utterly false thought that His Spirit as man was the object of quickening. The anarthrous form points to the character of the acts specified; but so far is it from denying the agency of the Holy Ghost in the quickening spoken of, that the presence of the article would be more consistent with Christ's Spirit as a man. No doubt, when it is intended to present the Holy Spirit objectively or extrinsically, the article is required (and, as far as I can mark the usages, the prep. ἐν or ὑπό); it is excluded where the manner of His action is meant. On the other hand, wherever the spirit either of Christ as man or of any other is to be expressed, the article is indispensable, as may be seen in Matt. 5:3; 26:41; 27:50; Mark 14:38; Luke 10:21; John 11:33; 13:21; 19:30; Acts 19:21; 20:22 Cor. 5:3, 5, &c. Again, the following cases without the article clearly mean the Holy Spirit, but as characterizing the action rather than specifying the person, though He must ever be a person: Matt. 22:43; John 3:5; 4:23, 24; Rom. 8:1, 4, 9, 13; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:2, 15, 16, 18, 25; Eph. 2:22; 3:5; 5:18; 6:18; Col. 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Peter 4:6; Rev. 1:10; 4:2: 17:3; 21:10. The attentive reader of these instances will see that the turning-point is not the presence or absence of a preposition, as some scholars have thought. Words after a preposition follow the ordinary rules. Only, with prepositions capable of usage with a statement of manner, as κατά, ἐκ, ἐν, the anarthrous form is of course more common. Thus ἐν πμεύματι would mean in the power of the Spirit, the manner of being, or of being carried, built, justified, of blessing, preaching, or whatever else may be in question.
Hence the meaning here seems to be that Christ was put to death in respect of flesh, but quickened or made alive in respect of Spirit, in the power of which He went and preached to the spirits in prison. The ἐν ὧ falls in with the Holy Spirit still more as that wherein Christ acted in testimony. It is not said that He went to the prison and there preached to the spirits; but that in the power of the Spirit He went and preached to the spirits that are there. For that τοῖς ἐν φυλακῆ πνεύμασιν can signify “that are in prison” as naturally at least as that were there is certain: only the necessity of the context could really justify the latter sense. But if the context favor “that are,” it is the simple unforced bearing of the phrase. And that it does favor it is to me plain from ἁπειθήσασί ποτε ὅτε κ.τ.λ. which points to an antecedent time of guilt, the ground of their being now imprisoned.
It may be doubted then whether quickened “by the Spirit” best gives the meaning of the apostolic statement: for that would most naturally suppose the Spirit as an exterior agent. Still the anarthrous construction, as is certain from the numerous places cited, does not at all exclude the Holy Spirit: only it speaks of the manner of the quickening, not of the personal agent. But the thought of His power is conveyed by the phrase that follows ἐν ὧ, wherein Christ is said to have gone and preached, &c. Thereby it is pointedly contradistinguished from πορευθείς in verse 22, which is not qualified by ἐν ὧ or ἐν πνεύματι, but left in its strict sense of a personal change of locality to heaven. Thus it is excessively rash to say that the rendering of the English version here is wrong either grammatically or theologically, though it is more correct to cleave as closely as our language permits to the Greek style of expressing “Spirit” as the character rather than agent of the quickening of Christ, though agent too He was beyond doubt.
Bishop Middleton wrote with great force on the insertion of the article, but he was not equally successful in accounting for its omission. Prepositions he treated as exceptions to rule, and anarthrous cases like σαρκί, πνεύματι, as practically adverbial. Hence in our passage, he held the apostle to mean that “Christ was dead carnally but alive spiritually;” as indeed he thought would flow from τὧ πν. if the article had been authentic. (Doctrine of the Greek Art. p. 430, Rose's Ed., 1855.) The only difference is, he thought, that by retaining the article we destroy the form of the antithesis between a. and πν. But instances already given show how imperfect this able treatise is in requiring either the article or a preposition to accompany πν. in the genitive or dative in order to mean the Spirit of God. Rom. 8:13 to which he himself refers refutes his position; and here Dean Alford, who is so strong against “by the Spirit” in 1 Peter 3:18, translates the same word exactly in the way condemned: “but if by the Spirit ye slay the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” So, on Gal. 5:5, A. expressly remarks on πνεύματι “not' mente' [Fritz.] nor 'spiritually,' Middleton, al., but by the [Holy] Spirit, [reff.] as opposed to σ.” the very rendering he afterward treats as wrong grammatically and theologically. Again, on ver. 16 he particularly observes that πν without the article may and does here mean “by the Spirit” [i.e. of God]. His reason, probably after Winer or the like, is invalid; for it is not because it is a sort of proper name, but because it is employed characteristically. There is no need to multiply proofs against the comments on πν in 1 Peter 3:18—proofs equally at least against Middleton. Consequently Hammond, Pearson, Barrow, &c, the divines who denied the applicability of the passage to Christ's descent to hades, were not so far mistaken as thinks Dr. Ε. Η Browne, the present Bishop of Ely. They contend that the true meaning of the text is that our Lord by the Spirit in Noah preached to the antediluvians, who are now for their disobedience imprisoned in hell.
“This interpretation of the passage,” says the Bishop, “depends on the accuracy of the English version. That version reads in the eighteenth verse ‘quickened by the Spirit.' It is to be noted however that all the versions except one (the Ethiopic) seem to have understood it 'quickened in spirit:' and it is scarcely possible, upon any correct principles of interpretation, to give any other translation to the words. If therefore we follow the original, in preference to the English version, we must read the passage thus: ‘Christ suffered for us, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but quick in His Spirit; by which (or in which) He went and preached (or proclaimed) to the spirits in safe keeping,' &c.” (An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, &c, 1868, pp. 94, 95.)
I confess to surprise at such a rendering as “quick in His Spirit” of ζωοποιηθεὶς τὧ πνεύματι. For, first, though there is an occasional looseness in the LXX, it is certain that the New Testament strictly and exclusively employs ζωογονέω for keeping alive, ζωοποιέω for making alive. Secondly, is it not singular to reason from a non-authentic word as the original? And the Bishop of Ely (see note p. 94) knows that the best critics reject the article before πν. If absent, it is impossible for πν to mean “in His Spirit.”
Besides, the resulting theology is as strange as the grammar; for he proceeds, “There is, it will be observed, a marked antithesis between ‘flesh' and 'spirit.' In Christ's Flesh or Body, He was put to death. Men were ‘able to kill the body,' but they could not kill His soul. He was therefore alive in His Soul, and in or by that He went to the souls who were in safe custody (ἐν φυλακῆ); His Body was dead, but His Spirit or Soul went to their spirits or souls. This is the natural interpretation of the passage; and if it ended here, it would contain no difficulty, and its sense would never have been doubted. It would have contained a simple assertion of our Lord's descent to the spirits of the dead.” To my mind such a sense must seem far below scripture. For what a poor inference that men could not kill Christ's soul! Why they could not kill the soul of the least of His saints, nay, nor of the most wretched of His enemies. Indeed “kill the soul” in any case is a singular phrase to use of any one, most of all to feel it worth while denying it in the case of our Lord Jesus. How different His language! “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” “He was therefore alive in His soul” is a feeble platitude for the issue of the clause, as surely as it supposes a wrong sense given to ζωοποιηθείς, not to speak of the confusion of the soul with the spirit in a way foreign to all exact speech. The interpretation therefore would be in every respect unnatural even if it ended here.
“When we follow, the gulf widens which severs truth from error. “But it is added that He not only went to the spirits in safekeeping, but that He went and preached to them. Hence it has been inferred that, if He preached, they had need of, and He offered to them, repentance. Hence the passage has appeared to savor of false doctrine, and hence its force has been explained away. But the word ‘preached,' or ‘proclaimed,' by no means necessarily infers that He preached either faith or repentance. Christ had just finished the work of salvation, had made an end of sin, and conquered hell. Even the angels seemed not to be fully enlightened, as to all the work of grace, which God performs for man. It is not likely then, that the souls of the departed patriarchs should have fully understood or known all that Christ had just accomplished for them. They indeed may have known, and no doubt did know, the great truth that redemption was to be wrought for all men by the suffering and death of the Messiah. But before the accomplishment of this great work, neither angels nor devils seem fully to have understood the mystery of it. If this be true, when the blessed Soul of our crucified Redeemer went among the souls of those whom He had just redeemed, what can be more probable than that He should have 'proclaimed' (έκήρυξεν) to them that their redemption had been fully effected, that Satan had been conquered, that the great sacrifice had been offered up? If angels joy over one sinner that repenteth; may we not suppose paradise filled with rapture when the Soul of Jesus came among the souls of His redeemed, Himself the herald (κήρνξ) of His own victory?”
It is certain, however, that the preaching of which the apostle here speaks was addressed neither to angels nor to devils nor yet to patriarchs, but expressly to those who did not hearken to it in the days of the divine longsuffering just before the deluge. The text itself therefore dissolves the airy fabric we have just seen; and proves that the preaching was addressed, like all other proclamations of the truth, to faith, but, as in this world constantly, met with unbelief and insubjection of heart in those who heard. Indeed in p. 96 Dr. B. confesses that the proof-text is not favorable to the point they would make it prove. “The only (?) difficulty, in this interpretation of this difficult passage, is in the fact that the preaching is specially said to have been addressed to those who had once been disobedient in the days of Noah. That many, who died in the flood, may yet have been saved from final damnation, seems highly probable, and has been the opinion of many learned divines. The flood was a great temporal judgment, and it follows not that 'all who perished in the flood are to perish everlastingly in the lake of fire.' But the real difficulty consists in the fact, that the proclamation of the finishing of the great work of salvation is represented by Peter as having been addressed to those antediluvian penitents (?), and no mention is made of the penitents of later ages, who are equally interested in the tidings.”
The really important thing for all to weigh is that this difficulty is created by the interpretation that Christ went in His soul and preached to the spirits in the separate state. The text itself speaks of His preaching to such as had been once disobedient in Noah's days. The only unforced inference is that these are in prison because of their disobedience of old, not that being in prison they obeyed Christ's preaching in hades. Nor is there the smallest hint that, having perished in that great temporal judgment, they were alleviated by any subsequent preaching of our Lord, but rather that they are kept waiting for a still more tremendous, because an eternal, judgment before the great white throne. They despised Noah the preacher of righteousness, but not without impunity, for the flood took them all away; but worse remains than the flood brought in upon the world of the ungodly. They are kept for judgment like such angels as sinned.
(To be continued)

Recent Baptismal Agitation: Correction

Dear Brother,—You are not alone in speaking strongly of some tracts lately published. They are condemned not only by all who differ from the author's views, but (what is of more importance) by wise and sober brethren who accept that which may be called the same side of the question. How grievous to have to speak of sides in the least of divine things! But so it is.
I have for many years said little on the matter, save where clearly called for. Every one who loves the Lord Jesus and serves the church has probably more or less observed the keen feelings and strong language the discussion of baptism is apt to excite, in utter disproportion to its relative place and as usual most heatedly among such as least understand its nature and consequences. It has seemed the plain path of grace and wisdom, not to say of truth and righteousness, to set one's face resolutely against party-spirit, and so against the zealots of either side. They both tend to make a sect of their own, the horror of which, to me, is none the less, because the sect would fight under Baptist or Pedobaptist colors. Indeed if there could be a shade of difference, where both tend to a common evil result, one ought to feel most where most truth was thus perverted. Those who thank God for the apostle Paul's gospel should not forget his thankfulness on this score (1 Cor. 1:14-17); and the value of these words of the Spirit appears to me so much the more plain, weighty, and urgent in the actual weakness of the saints and confusions of Christendom.
It would be well for all to avoid one-sided and exaggerated statements. There is no doubt for instance that Baptists generally take wrong ground in advocating what is due to this institution of the Lord. They plead the instance of John the Baptist and our Lord's example for us also to accomplish all righteousness; they insist on the baptism of believers as a matter of obedience; they dedicate their babes meanwhile till they are converted and seek baptism for themselves. Granted that all this proves distressing ignorance not of Christian baptism only hut of Christianity; but is it not forgotten that no less ignorance in these very particulars, involving the most fundamental principles, rests on the great mass of Paedobaptists, save that they talk of dedicating their children to God in baptism?
The only fair inference therefore is that the legal or Judaizing view complained of is quite independent of this question, attaching to the general creed and practice of Christendom, and surely developing itself in ordinary Baptists and Paedobaptists alike, though in a slightly different form and phrase. On a fair comparison I am afraid the statements about baptism made by the ancient fathers in general were no better than Tertullian's, and that the Mennonites are no worse than Lutherans or Calvinists or Anglicans. The departure from Christian truth lies far deeper than this question; and the Paedobaptists generally are surely not less legal and superstitious than the mass of Baptists. Nor is there ground save for anguish and humiliation in considering the words and ways of them all as one weighs what Christ is to us and has called us to. Why then mix up all this with the question? The common Pedobaptist is as ignorant as the Baptist of the difference between John's baptism and the Christian one; they both know as much or as little of death and resurrection with Christ.
Again, which of the two has been the most guilty of erasing from Christian baptism its character of privilege conferred, by erecting it into a saving ordinance obedience to which, is peremptory? Both have gone far away from the revealed word, but not least the Pedobaptist.
So, as to the meaning of baptism, it will hardly be argued gravely that Paedobaptists ordinarily enter into it one whit better than Baptists. It was the former, not the latter, who invented the flattest possible contradiction of its character. It was not the more despised of the two who spread everywhere the dreadful error that baptism is the sign and even the means of new birth. At the same time I frankly allow that they both equally misunderstand death with Christ. It is therefore unfounded and unfair to reason against the Baptist system as the culprit when in fact Pedobaptism proves equally open to the same charges. The fault common to both lies elsewhere. They have both alas! forsaken to an enormous extent the fountain of living waters, and they have each hewed out broken cisterns of a different pattern that can hold no water.
For my part I rejoice when brethren who have had a bias one way or other in days of law have learned of the Lord to meet and go on in grace, whereto they have already attained walking by the same rule, and, if in anything differently minded, confiding in the God of all grace to reveal even this to them. Hence it is a joy to see that, spite of ruin, all simple-minded men agree that baptism is the initiatory institution of Christianity, and that believers, if they have not been, should be at once baptized as the sign of having part with Christ in His death and resurrection. A true and loving and large heart seeks not to widen the breach, but rather to expose and rebuke, as of the enemy, all such efforts.
This is my reason for deploring the last of these tracts, which you justly say is the worst of the kind one has ever seen. I have in my time read not a few painful productions of Papists and Protestants; but I confess that not one occurs to my memory lower, looser, or more systematically perverting the scriptures. Were F. Xavier the famous Jesuit missionary alive, he would smile at such a justification of his procedure from such a quarter; and Charlemagne might have found a two-penny tract as useful as the sword to induce the Saxons to enter the river and be baptized.
For the doctrine broached is that faith before baptism is more wrong than right! that not believing but baptism is the means by which the nations were to be discipled! that they must be brought into the sphere of the church or assembly to receive not only the Spirit but His testimony concerning Jesus! and that this ground, which is Popish as far as it goes, is God's order!! To believe and be baptized is out of His order!!! To make sure of the meaning we are told that Peter did not tell the Jews at Pentecost to believe but to repent. “They were to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ that they might believe on Him!” &c. Hence even their receiving Peter's word is restricted to “Repent and be baptized,” &c, and thus the men repenting after a Methodist sort without being true believers were added to the house over which Christ is Lord, so that they could own Him such, “for of course they must be in the sphere of His lordship before they can own Him Lord.”
By this strange doctrine evangelizing is annulled and the purity of God's assembly destroyed. For the notion insisted on throughout is that adults not only may but ought to be received by baptism in order that they may believe and be brought to the Lord where the remission of sins is. Baptism to get life is not only the strangest want of intelligence but fundamentally false doctrine. “Scripture teaches baptism unto Christ, who is the life, in order to get life,” p. 13. Scripture never teaches this, but on the contrary that the believer has part with Christ in death, and this by baptism as its sign. Nowhere do I remember from any one called a brother such a rash, not to say heartless, sacrifice of the gospel and the assembly of God to a novel idea, which after all is only the revival of an old error which has already corrupted Christendom. Can any notion of Baptists be worse?
I have not reasoned on the various scriptures, to every one of which the grossest violence is done, as indeed must be in order to silence their true sense and force a meaning completely opposed. It is to be hoped that few if any are prepared to endorse statements so erroneous and unholy, and that brethren everywhere will know what their duty is in dealing with such heterodoxy. It would be easy to expose the ignorance of God's word and the false reasoning habitually displayed. My object for the present and in this periodical is simply to protest publicly against a dangerous and offensive production.
There are reasons why I desired to say not a word; but called on as I am by appeals from north, south, east, west, I could no longer hesitate to address myself to you the last of these applicants. May no love of party betray even one into indifference to Christ and the truth!
Yours affectionately,
To Mr. W.Τ.B.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Remission of Sins

Q. Acts 2:38; 22:16. Is “remission of sins,” or “wash away thy sins” in these texts a question of faith finding non-imputation before God, or of administrative forgiveness on earth?
A. We must distinguish between the work in virtue of which sin is not at all imputed to those that believe (even as to those about whom there was no question of baptism as Abraham), and the actual administration of the blessing upon earth, both fully revealed and actually applied, the work on which it was grounded being accomplished. This revelation of remission is clearly pointed out. It is promised in the new covenant, and recognized by the New Testament in the institution of the Lord's supper. “This is my blood of the new covenant shed for many for remission of sins.” John the Baptist was to bring the knowledge of salvation to God's people by remission of their sins. (Luke 1) The disciples were to remit sins, and they would be remitted (John 20); and the commission in Luke, the one on which (not that in Matt. 28) all preaching in the Acts of the Apostles is founded, whether Peter's or Paul's, is that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in Christ's name. In past times, righteousness not being revealed, there had been forbearance (Rom. 3); now that Christ has been offered, righteousness in the remission, or pretermission, of the sins that had taken place before (i.e. in Old Testament times) was proved. But this of course is not all. For God then not only announced to souls individually (for, however many heard, it was individually) but set up a system on earth in which the new blessings were found, based on two instituted signs, baptism and the Lord's supper, one initiatory once for all, the other the continual memorial of the Lord's death till He come and the expression of the unity of the body. Of this last it is not our business to speak now. But baptism was the entrance into that system within the precincts of which all Christian blessings were found as externally administered on the earth. The first of these was remission of sins, on the reception of which came also the blessing by the Holy Ghost; and even if this was extraordinarily given as to Cornelius and his house, still they were admitted in an orderly way to the common blessings of Christians here below. But the first grand blessing needed was remission of sins: through this was knowledge of salvation and actual reception of it where it was received. Repentance and remission of sins were to be preached in Christ's name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem. Peter does this when the Jews on the day of Pentecost were pricked in their hearts, and says that these are the things looked for: If you repent and enter into this divinely administered door of blessing, you will receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. He does not say, Be baptized and you will receive remission of sins, but be baptized with the baptism to remission of sins, become Christians where this blessing is found. They were baptized εὶς to, or for, it: so to Moses, to Christ, to His death. It was the truth and fact to which they were brought: owning this, they would then receive the Holy Ghost. It was the profession they came into. If true faith and repentance were there, they got the present actual administered remission; if not there, they did not get it as we see in Simon Magus. It may be a hardening, but is no blessing to him who is a hypocrite.
Thus remission of sins is not the fact of non-imputation by the death of Christ (which last Old Testament believers had) but an actual status into which a person enters. I may have forgiven a person perfectly in my mind; but he has not forgiveness till it is pronounced upon him. Here there is no outward sign; where there is, it may be abused to self-deception, as we see in 1 Cor. 10. The simile is used to show the difference between non-imputation on God's part and administered or declared forgiveness. See the case of Nathan with David. (2 Sam. 12:13.) Observe also the connection of forgiveness with discipline where non-imputation is not at all the question.
Hence, when Paul was converted, Ananias said to him, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins.” He entered then into an actually administered forgiveness. “Wash away thy sins” is of course a figure. It is not putting away the filth of the flesh that does it. But I come thereby into that which is proclaimed as the first blessing of the Christianity into which I enter becoming a professed Christian. If faith is there, my conscience is perfect according to the Christian system, and the other blessings follow; if there is profession without real faith, I am in the case of Simon Magus or of 1 Cor. 10; but I have been baptized to that. In Acts 2 and 22 the call is addressed to persons publicly under the power of the revelation and word of Christ; and they are then told what to do in order to obtain the blessings of Christianity actually here on earth, the path to perfect ones above. This must not be forgotten; for then they did enter, and for the first time, into the blessings attached to Christianity on earth.
Therefore Peter can say, in his first epistle 3:21, “Which figure also now saveth us,” taking care (as the proposition is general) to show that it was not simply the outward sign that did it. Hence, when he addressed those pricked in heart by his word, he (on the inquiry what to do) put the whole matter according to the commission in the end of Luke. They inquired for a good conscience; for this is the true force of the expression in 1 Peter 3: not “the answer” as in the Authorized Version, but the inquiry (ἐπερώτημα) for a good conscience. In Acts 2 they inquired for and got it. They were baptized to this truth and administered fact—remission of sins, and received then the gift of the Holy Ghost.
On the other hand, if a person (being not a professed Christian, a Jew for example or a heathen) was convinced that Jesus was the Christ, or Son of God, and would not be baptized, one would not say that his sins were washed away or that he was saved. See Mark 16:16. But quickening seems never spoken of in connection with baptism. The question raised is not life but washing away or remission of sins. It is not a question of non-imputation, again, but the administration of forgiveness here on earth, as the privilege conferred freely on the conscience in Christianity, in which forgiveness is administered as a present actual thing. The baptized enter into this; though, being an outward or sacramental institution, it may be merely a form.


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Notes on Ezekiel 1-3

The circumstances in which Ezekiel was called to prophesy were new and strange. It was not in Judah nor in Israel, but among the captives by the river Chebar. Hence Jehovah was pleased to accompany His word to him with peculiarly vivid marks. To him only in the Old Testament is it said that the heavens were opened, and he saw visions of God. (Ver. 1.) But the opening of the heavens was in judgment of Israel's iniquity, not yet to express the Father's delight in the Son on earth, still less for the Christian to behold the Son of man in heaven.
Nor is the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity without special reason. There had been ample space for those left behind in the land to repent of their vain hopes as well as of their rebelliousness and their idolatry. They had had the warning of their brethren removed from the land: had they laid it to heart? Zedekiah “did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of Jehovah. And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Jehovah God of Israel. Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much, after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of Jehovah which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Jehovah God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place; but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of Jehovah arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”
It was in view of a final and yet more completely desolating stroke that Ezekiel was raised up to bear testimony. “On the fifth of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity, the word of Jehovah came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of Jehovah was there upon him. And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire enfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.” (Ver. 2-5.)
Had this been all, it had been much to rebuke the Jewish pride which counted God so bound to their race and land, that they never weighed His threat of the change in progress for Israel till it came. Alas! they realize it not till, this day, but, refusing to hear of His judgment of their sins, they would fain cheat themselves into the delusion that their dispersion is a mission to teach the Gentiles that God is the God of Israel rather than that He has for thousands of years refused to be called their God because of their idolatry crowned by the rejection of the Messiah and the gospel. A fresh storm-cloud of divine indignation was about to burst on Judea out of the north, that is, from Babylon.
But there is much more. “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.” (Ver. 5.) there could be any doubt left on the mind of him who reads this account, chapter 10. distinctly shows that the living creatures are the cherubim. They are here, not two like the figures made out of the ends of the pure and beaten gold which formed the mercy-seat where God sat as on a throne, but four in relation (I presume) to the creature. The God of Israel, who dwelt between the cherubim on the ark, was in the midst of His people and approached by blood according to divine righteousness, which was guarded by the witness of His judicial authority. Ezekiel was given to behold His judgments in providence from without. He would judge His guilty people by Babylon as His instrument. Here therefore it is fire (ver. 5) which characterizes the display of His destructive judgment as the God of heaven.
It would be almost an endless genealogy, and certainly to little edification, if one set out in detail the strange misconception of these symbols which have prevailed among men both Jews and Christians. In the former this is not surprising; for the unbelief which wrought the evils which the prophet denounced still works the same stiff-necked opposition to the truth. “This generation” is not passed away, nor will it till all that is predicted be fulfilled. But Christians are far less excusable. Having the true light they ought to see; but they only see aright, as the eye is single. If Christ's glory had been before them, not the church's (that is, their own), they would have made room for His relation to others as well as to themselves. They need not deny the old, because they believe the new. Had the national judgment of Israel been seen at the beginning of the prophecy, and their restoration at the end, the ancient fathers and the modern divines could not have dreamed of interpreting the four cherubim as the evangelists, or as a description of Christ's redemption work, or of God's glory in the church, or as the four seasons of the year or the four quarters of the globe, or the four cardinal virtues or the four passions of the soul, or the four faculties of the mind, or whatever other conjectures men have indulged in. A more plausible but very imperfect view is that of Calvin who takes them as angels, and four in relation to the various questions of the world, each with four heads, angelic virtue being thus proved to reside in all, and God shown to work not only in man and other animals but throughout inanimate things. He takes it therefore as a vision of God's empire administered by angels everywhere, all creatures being so impelled as if joined with the angels and as if the angels comprehended within themselves all elements in all parts of the world.
As to the four cherubs then, they were composite figures. “And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings” were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.” (Ver. 6-9.) The likeness of a man was theirs, though each had four faces and four wings (ver. 6); but the feet were straight, the sole like that of a calf's foot, and the face of an ox answering to that of a cherub. (Ver. 7; compare also chap. 10: 14.) Activity, aptness in doing, seems represented by the hands of a man; swiftness of execution from above in the wings, without a moment's deviation from the object in hand, and with four sides so as to move in all directions. The intimation of verse 10 I take to be that in front the face of a man was seen, and that of an eagle behind, with a lion's face to the right and an ox's or steer's to the left. These compose the symbolical supports of the throne, being the heads of the creatures preserved in the ark from the flood; man setting forth intelligence, the lion strength, the ox patience or stability, and the eagle rapidity of execution, the attributes of God or the qualities of His judgments. “As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straightforward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.” (Ver. 10-14.) They went forward and returned like a flash of lightning.
Nor do we hear only of wings, but of wheels also. “Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.” (Ver. 15-21.) It is the exact reverse of circumstances left to blind chance. Contrariwise, whatever the revolutions or changes among men, all is wittingly guided where it might be least expected. The instruments of the providential government, below the firmament or expanse, were completely in accord with what was above: and over this was the likeness of a throne; and above all the likeness of a man exercising executory judgment, though with the unfailing pledge of mercy to an evil world.
Thus the throne of God was no longer in Israel, but the God of heaven was pleased and about to use the Gentiles to do His will in punishing guilty Jerusalem. It is His throne from heaven, not yet His throne in heaven, as in Rev. 4 where we have no wheels, but six wings to each. The living creatures there are accordingly not cherubim only but seraphim, crying Holy, holy, holy, and the whole creation is taken up under His dispensational titles, save what is distinctively millennial. Hence they are not the mere basis of God's throne in judging the Jew, providentially through the Gentile, but associated and identified with the throne of Him who judges all according to His nature. The world comes under His dealings, though above all apostate Jews and Gentiles, all “that dwell on the earth.” The living creatures are in the circle of the throne and in its midst, no longer under it as in Ezekiel.
Hence we may easily understand that by the cherubim is set forth God's judicial executive, to whomsoever entrusted and in whatever circumstances displayed. There is a difference between that which was seen after man's fall, and when God called for the mercy-seat. So the sight vouchsafed to Ezekiel on earth was not the same as John beheld when in the Spirit he passed through the door opened in heaven. But in all there is the common principle, while each is modified exactly by divine wisdom according to the case and aim before Him, which we can learn only by the Spirit from His word which has for its object His various glory in Christ.
The Supreme who directed all was revealed in the appearance of a man and so in relation to men. His attributes here made known are governmental, and applied by instruments on earth according to a providence which overlooks nothing. There is no finer refutation of heathen darkness or of Jewish narrowness than this symbolical representation of the divine ways with Israel as seen in Chaldea. Yet is it all positive truth with the simple effect of manifesting the glory of God as He was then pleased to deal, and as He will when He undertakes the renewed blessing of repentant Israel to the joy of all the earth. How vain in that day will Israel feel to have been their unbelief throughout the day of grace when they rejected Jehovah-Messiah because He became man in accomplishment of Isa. 7, and in accordance with His appearance here who, unseen of the world but announced to deaf and blind Israel, lets the believer know that He guided the springs of every movement here below to His glory at the time when He ceased to own what He once designated “the throne of Jehovah” in Zion. Ear from governing in and by Israel, His judgment is seen to be directed against them by the Gentile as His servant, however unconsciously.
The new attitude is remarkably exemplified in another way by the title God gives to the prophet, fallen on his face, in chapter 2, and thenceforward. For when the voice spoke from the likeness of the glory of Jehovah, the words were, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. So was Daniel styled once (chap. 8: 17), but Ezekiel more than a hundred times. It is the title Jesus appropriated as the rejected Messiah who should suffer, be exalted, and return in glory as the Son of man. His servants have the same title, as identified with the glory of God who now declares Himself outside Israel and even judging them by the Gentiles.
Strengthened by the Spirit, the prophet receives his mission to the children of Israel, though, yea because, they had rejected God— “to rebellious Gentiles, Goyim [for such they really were in truth, no better than heathen morally and much worse in guilt], that have rebelled against me; they and their fathers have transgressed against me unto this very day. And the children are hard of face and stiff of heart. I send thee to them, and thou shalt say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear (for they are a rebellious house), shall yet know that a prophet hath been among them.” (Ver. 3-5.)
Therefore the prophet was commanded (ver. 6, 7) not to fear them, or their words, or their looks, however rebellious they might be, but the rather to speak Jehovah's words to them whether they might hear or forbear, for they were rebellious (or most rebellious).
Further, Ezekiel is cautioned himself not to be rebellious like them, but to open his mouth and eat what God gives him. (Ver. 8.) Thereon a hand was extended, and in it a roll of a book, which He spread before the prophet, written on the face and on the back, fully and flowing over; and there was written in it lamentations, mourning and woe. (Ver. 9,10.) Such was the character of his earlier testimony. We shall see how grace triumphs to God's glory in the end.
In chapter 3 this is followed up. The eaten roll proves sweet as honey. The prophet was sent to Israel, with the certainty that they would not hear, impudent and hard-hearted as they were, but confronted by the prophet with a forehead of adamant. (Ver. 1-9.) Receiving God's word in his heart, he was to go with a Thus saith Jehovah. (Ver. 10, 11.) Then the Spirit took him up with the noise of the glory accompanying, and after seven days among the captives at Tel-abib, the word came that Jehovah made him a watchman to Israel with the most solemn charge and responsibility to be faithful at his peril. It was no longer a question of the nation but of individual fidelity. (Ver. 12-21.) The chapter closes with a final command, when he sees the glory again on the plain as before by the Chebar. He was to be a prisoner in his house, with his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth, for they were rebellious. But God would also open his mouth with a solemn call to hear; but they were rebellious.

Notes on Luke 19:1-27

The account of Zacchaeus is one of those peculiar to Luke; and we may readily see how strikingly it furthers the moral aim of the Spirit in this Gospel. Its collocation too may be at once explained on the same principle, supposing as I do that the facts occurred while the Lord was passing through Jericho, whereas the blind man Bartimaeus did not receive sight till He was on His way outside. But it seemed good to the Holy Ghost here, as often similarly elsewhere, to bring the narrative of Zacchaeus into such a position with the parable that follows as to illustrate by them the general character, not only of His first advent but of His second, thereby correcting many a mistaken thought into which men, yea disciples, were apt to slip then and since.
“And he entered and was passing through Jericho; and, behold, a man by name called Zacchaeus, and he was chief tax-gatherer, and he was rich. And he was seeking to see Jesus who he was, and could not for the crowd, because he was little in stature. And he ran on before and got up a sycamore that he might see him, because he was to pass that [way]. And when he came to the place, Jesus looking up saw him and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for to-day I must abide in thy house. And making haste he came down and received him joyfully.” (Verses 1-6.)
The Lord had already in parables set forth divine grace to the lost sinner as such, above all in the prodigal son. “We have now the actual history of a publican, a chief tax-gatherer, and a rich man, to whom grace sent salvation that very day. But here it is well to distinguish what is often overlooked. Some allege that Zacchaeus was a man without the fear of God, and unconverted; others compare him with Simeon in the temple. We should not forget that salvation is more than new birth, that it could only then be pronounced by the Messiah, and that it is now in virtue of redemption proclaimed far and wide through faith in His name. It is the primary Christian blessing that a soul needs and receives in a dead and risen Christ; but it should never be confounded with that awakening which accompanies quickening by the Spirit. As the due understanding of this clears up many difficulties created by the confusion prevalent in Christendom, from the days of the fathers till our own time, so it will be found helpful here. The Lord vindicated the grace of God toward one in the worst possible position, the loathing of the proud Pharisee. He who struggled against the many obstructions in the way, who hesitated not to cast off all conceit of dignity and to brave all ridicule in order to see Jesus, heard with astonishment the voice of the good Shepherd call His sheep by name and invite Himself to remain at his house. Certainly He was none other than the Messiah, who could thus tell all things and would thus meet the desire of a heart that dared not hope for such an honor. What a wonder, yet no wonder! He who knew all knew Zacchaeus; He who asked a drink from the Samaritan woman whose life He read asked Himself to the house of a chief tax-gatherer. It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God; so that they who heard said, Who then can be saved? Now He proves what He then answered, that the things which are impossible with men are possible with God; for assuredly He entered the house not to get but to give.
But nothing is so unintelligible to man as God's grace. “And when they saw [it], they all murmured, saying, that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.” (Ver. 7.) How blessed that so He could, and so He would! How hopeless the blank for us if it were not so! It suits His love so to deal with those who have not the smallest claim.
“And Zacchaeus stood and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have by false accusation exacted anything of any man, I restore fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, To-day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham: for the Son of man came to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Verses 8-10.) It is not that the Lord discredited the chief tax-gatherer's account of his feelings and ways. Such was his character, such his habits, in a sorrowful position doubtless, with a delicate if not scrupulous conscience. But why this before One who had already proved that all was known to a heart that could not misjudge? Why talk even of what the Spirit had produced in presence of the salvation-bringing grace of God? The Lord denies not, spite of his occupation, that he too was a son of Abraham; but if He Himself were the Messiah, and at this very time presenting Himself as such for the last time on earth, beginning at Jericho, He was the Son of man in grace and humiliation on the way to death, yea, the death of the cross; the Son of man come to save what is lost. What else was worth speaking of? This day salvation was come to his house.
As this affecting incident maintains the activity of grace according to God's aim in the first advent of the Lord, even while He was testing them for the last time as the Messiah, so the following parable was uttered to dispel the wrong expectations which filled their minds who so soon had forgotten that first He must suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation, and that the introduction of the Lord's world—kingdom must await His second advent. Those who were on the stretch for the immediate Betting up of that kingdom were self-deceived. If He was near Jerusalem, He was near the cross, not the manifestation of His kingdom yet. “But as they were hearing these things, he in addition spoke a parable because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and they thought that the kingdom of God was about to be manifested immediately. He said therefore, A certain high-born man went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. And he called ten of his servants and delivered them ten minas, and said unto them, Trade until I come.” (Verses 11-13.) It is obvious that this is quite distinct from a similar parable in the last prophetic discourse on Olivet, and this not less certainly distinct in internal marks, as we shall see throughout. There the lord exercises his rights and gives as he pleases according to his knowledge of the varying capacities of his servants. Here all receive the same at starting, and their respective use of the deposit in business (figuratively) is the main point—the responsibility of the servants in the one, the sovereignty of the master in the other. Equally in contrast is the result in each: the good and faithful bondmen in Matthew alike enter into the joy of their Lord, while in Luke each receives authority according to his labor and its fruit.
Again, there are weighty moral instructions connected with this parable, but distinct from what we find later in Matthew. For here we read that “His citizens hated him and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” (Ver. 14.) Such was the spirit of the Jews, who not only rejected the Messiah, but, as another has well said, sent a message after Him as it were in the martyrs they slew, refusing Him glorified no less than in humiliation.
“And it came to pass on his return, having received the kingdom, that he commanded his bondsmen to whom he gave the money to be called to him, that he might know what each had gained by trading. And the first came up saying, Lord, thy mina hath produced ten minas. And he said to him, Well [done] thou good bondman, because thou hast been faithful in a very little: have authority over ten cities. And the second came saying, Lord, thy mina hath made five minas. And he said also to him, And thou be over five cities. And the other came, saying, Lord, behold thy mina which I kept laid up in a napkin. For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up what thou layedst not down, and reapest what thou didst not sow. He saith to him, Out of thy mouth I will judge thee, wicked bondman. Thou knewest that I am an austere man, taking up what I laid not down, and reaping what I did not sow. And why gavest thou not my money into a bank, and at my coming I should have received it with interest? And he said to those that stood by, Take from him the mina and give [it] to him that hath ten. And they said to him, Lord, he hath ten minas. I say to you, that to every one that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not even what he hath shall be taken.” (Verses 15-26.) Here we have the responsible service of Christians till Jesus returns, with His judgment then of their service meanwhile. It is not that the faithless bondman will not suffer the results of his unbelief, like the elder brother who despised his father and scorned his brother. But our evangelist tells the tale of grace, without describing the awful doom of those who corrupt or turn from it. It is in the earthly accompaniment that we hear of divine vengeance. Thus the picture is made still more complete; for we have also the public execution of judgment on the guilty citizens, the Jews, at His appearing. “But those mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me.” (Ver. 27.) The judgment of the habitable world is a truth which practically has dropt out of the life, if not the creeds, of Christendom.

The Blind Man and Lazarus

(John 9, 11.)
Objections have been raised to these accounts on the ground of their not being mentioned by the other evangelists, and John's writing long after.
But these miracles or signs were immediately in connection with the subject the Holy Ghost employed John to treat of. One was in demonstration of His Sonship in the direct way of power; and the other, of the light-giving power which accompanied the recognition of His mission, leading to the owning of Him as Son. Now I repeat here, what I have already said, that the Holy Ghost must have an object in writing such histories. He is not—could not be—a biographer, to write a life with circumstances which there was no divine reason for communicating. He was revealing Christ under various characters of glory, Son of God, Son of David, Son of man, Emmanuel.
Now let us examine whether there is not such a definite bearing of the two miracles referred to as is to be expected in a history given of God; whether they do not bear the stamp of a divine revelation of Jesus. From chapter 4 John's Gospel had systematically unfolded the new thing in contrast with Judaism. Spiritual worship of the Father instead of at Jerusalem or on Gerizim. (Chap, 4.) Life-giving power, instead of human strength using ordinances; judgment executed to secure Christ's glory in those who rejected Him: here He is the life-giving Son. (Chap. 5.) Next, He is the humbled Son of man instead of King Messiah in Israel, the spiritual food of faith while away, having come down from heaven and been crucified. (Chap, 6.) Then, the time for His glory before the world being not yet come, the Holy Ghost is to be given to believers, witnessing His heavenly glory as Son of man. (Chap, 7.) Then He is the light of the world in contrast with the Jaw; but His word is rejected (chap, 8.); as is the evidence of His works (chap, 9.), of which hereafter. He will at any rate have and save His sheep. (Chap, 10.) That closes the direct revelation of Christ in the gospel.
From chapter 9 we have the public testimony given by God to Him who was rejected—first, as Son of God, life-giving, resurrection-power, was His proper glory; and Lazarus is publicly raised. This sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God, and that the Son of God should be glorified thereby. Hence all say, “If thou hadst been there, he had not died.” They knew His miraculous power of healing; but now, close to Jerusalem, the most public testimony possible is given to His life-giving power as Son of God. How truly this is in its place is seen by this, that after this we have His glory as Son of David publicly proclaimed by His entry into Jerusalem, and the time come for His glory as Son of man marked by the Greeks coming up: and then the Lord shows that to this the cross is necessary, and looks in spirit at the coming hour. Thus the peculiar bearing of this remarkable miracle is clearly seen—the public indication of Christ as Son of God who raises the dead.
Now Matthew is employed by the Holy Ghost to present Christ in another way—that of Emmanuel, Messiah. Hence the Spirit does not give what was specially used to prove another point; but He does give with much more detail the riding in as Jehovah, the King Messiah, with all that followed on it—in the judgment of Israel, chief priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians—every class, in a word, and the whole moral position of those who rejected Him; and then He shows from Psa. 110 that the Messiah ought to leave them, and to ascend up on high, because He was David's Lord as well as David's Son. That is He gives in greater detail what was suited to His subject. Again in the case of the blind man, the same considerations apply. “We have the contrast between the blind receiving sight from Him who is the true light of the world, and the judgment of those who set up to be lights, and that by the most ignorant believer who finds his place with the rejected Son of God. And mark the process. First, in the typical act, He puts clay on the man's eyes—a figure (I doubt not, from what the apostle says) of Christ come in the flesh. But this operation in itself produces no effect; but the moment he washes in Siloam (which, says the apostle, signifies “sent”), he sees. That is, the moment he, by the purifying word and Spirit, recognizes that Christ is the sent One, all is clear. In result, the poor man, the subject thus of the delivering power of Christ, honest of heart, bears witness to the power of which he had experienced the effect, knowing Jesus only as a prophet; but, having received in his heart the authority of His word and mission, he immediately receives Him as Son of God, and prostrates himself before Him. The rest are blinded; for the effect of His mission is, that they who see not might see, and they who see might be made blind.

Notes on Romans 11:11-24

The next position of the apostle is, in great part, decided by the question: “I say then, Did they stumble in order that they should fall? Far be it: but by their trespass salvation [is come] to the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy. But if their trespass be [the] world's riches and their loss [the] Gentiles' riches, how much more their fullness? Now I speak to you, the Gentiles; inasmuch therefore as I am apostle of Gentiles I glorify my ministry, if by any means I shall provoke to jealousy my flesh and save some of them. For if their rejection [be the] world's reconciliation, what the reception but life from [the] dead?” (Ver. 11-15.)
Thus the very slip of Israel from its place of witness and depository of promise, turned as it is through divine mercy into present favor towards the Gentile world, becomes an argument in the hands of grace to assure their future restoration. The apostle alludes to the words of Deut. 32, the bearing of which on the question is as evident as to the Jew their authority is indisputable. It was not Paul but Moses who declared that the Jew provoked Jehovah to jealousy, that he was unmindful of the Rock who begat him, the glory of God that formed him. It was Moses who testified that Jehovah said, “I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with [that which is] not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with [those which are] not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” Undoubtedly it is the sure and solemn threat of God's displeasure in turning from Israel to the Gentiles, as certainly as Israel used to turn from Jehovah to false gods. But the threat, now accomplishing after the utmost patience, and only accomplished when they added to their old idolatry the still graver sin of rejecting the Messiah and disdaining the gospel that offered them the pardon of these and all other sins by His blood—the threat itself contains the no less sure intimation of restoring mercy in the end. For certainly He who acts with a view to provoke them to jealousy through blessing the Gentiles does not mean to cast them off eventually, rather the very reverse. One sees by such admirable reasoning and such profoundly accurate employment of the Old Testament scripture how truly it is the same Spirit who wrote of old by Moses working now by Paul.'
Apart from any particular allusion, the state of things whether now or by and by accords perfectly both with the facts of Christianity and with the general prospects for the world according to the prophets. For it is just when the Jews lose all their place and nation no less than distinctive rank as a witnessing and worshipping people in their land that we see the Gentiles gradually renouncing their idols, and the true God and His word incomparably better known than even of old in Israel. Revealed truth, having its center and display in Christ, alone accounts for the eclipse on the one side and the possession of a brighter light on the other. Did not the Jews reject the true light which now shines on nations so long benighted in idolatry? Again, while owning the mercy of God, which has thus wondrously turned aside to visit the Gentile with the gospel during the continued unbelief and consequently dark and wretched nothingness of the Jew, who can overlook the rich and full stream of Old Testament scripture which depicts the joy and blessedness of the whole earth only when God causes His face to shine on Israel? “God shall bless us” (says the inspired Jewish psalmist); “and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.” It is right to preach, a privilege to look for souls to be blessed; but it is vain, because unscriptural, to expect universality of blessing and delivering power over the world as a whole till Zion's light is come and the glory of Jehovah is risen on her. Then and not before shall the Gentiles come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising; then the nation and kingdom that will not serve Zion shall perish—a state of things in evident contrast with the grace that goes out now to Jew and Gentile indiscriminately, and gathers believing souls by the Spirit for heavenly and eternal glory, instead of being a display of the righteous government of Jehovah-Messiah in Israel and over all the earth.
Hence it is obvious with what strict truth the apostle could affirm that the salvation to the Gentiles, by the slip or trespass of the Jews, is but to provoke them to jealousy instead of being a sign of being abandoned forever as a people by God; nay further he could reason, in harmony with the prophets, that if their trespass is the world's wealth, and their loss and diminution the Gentiles' wealth, how much more their fullness? The apostle here accounts, or, if one will, apologizes, for his bringing in the Gentiles when discussing the destiny of Israel. He was speaking to the saints at Rome, “to you the Gentiles.” Further, “inasmuch therefore as I am apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry:” how or why should he forget the divine mercy to such hinging on God's ways with Israel that now occupied him? Especially too as he was thereby seeking to further that provocation to jealousy for which he had the authority of Him who alone is good and of whose compassion toward Israel he was no less assured than of His righteous displeasure at their sins. “If by any means I may provoke to jealousy [those who are] my flesh and may save some of them.” (Ver. 14.) “For if their rejection [be the] world's reconciliation, what their reception but life from among [the] dead?” Such we have seen is the uniform impression left by the Psalms and the Prophets, as every candid and intelligent Jew must feel. Then only will be “the regeneration” when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory with His glorified assessors, and all the nations as well as the twelve tribes of Israel shall know what it is to have a king reigning in righteousness and princes ruling in judgment. It is the mistake of Origen, Chrysostom, and Theodoret, of Meyer, Fritzsche, Tholuck, &a, to bring in the resurrection literally as meant here, though I doubt not that the first resurrection will have then taken place as proved by the most positive evidence of scripture. Nor is there just ground for Dean Alford's singular indecision who objects both to the true and to the erroneous view. Whatever the divine mercy in the “world's reconciling” which we now know while the gospel goes forth to every creature, a wholly different blessedness awaits all the earth as “life from the dead,” when all Israel received back and saved, far from their old envy and churlish scorn, shall bid all the lands to sing joyfully to Jehovah and come before His presence with triumphal song. If His house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations, in that day also is His name to be great among the nations, and in every place incense is to be burnt and a pure offering offered to His name. How far beyond the present, and how different, though the present may be an earnest and pledge! Will it not be for all on earth “life from the dead?”
It seems to my mind that Calvin is far from having a simple, clear, or strong view of the argument, though I do in no wise deny his generally grave and pious sentiments. But he says that you will be greatly hampered in understanding this discussion, except you take notice that the apostle speaks, sometimes of the whole nation of the Jews, sometimes of single individuals. The truth is that the question is exclusively about the nation as God's witness on earth and inheriting the line of promise from Abraham. There was no doubt about individuals. But Paul, we have seen, beautifully uses the faith of himself and others as a proof that even during the judicial hardening there is a remnant according to the election of grace, and that the call of Gentiles meanwhile is but a provocation to jealousy, instead of implying that God cast away His people, and that they have fallen never more to be received as Israel. And here I cannot but deplore the presumption, as well as ignorance, with which even so godly a person as the Genevese chief speaks, especially on verse 12. The apostle should have been humbly listened to, not corrected. Need I add that the rudeness of speech belongs exclusively to the critic, and that the inspiration is thoroughly exact, not the too confident commentator? A human antithesis, which Calvin ventured to say would have been more proper, is in force, beauty, and truth far short of that which the Spirit has given. A rising or raising up of Israel conveys no such import of necessary blessedness as their “reception” after their stumble, loss, and rejection. Even if we did not see and could not prove this, every believer is bound to resent such want of respect to scripture.
Here the apostle adds some observations which not only confirm but explain much: these the reader should the more sedulously weigh because they are in general ill understood. “But if the firstfruit [be] holy, the lump also; and if the root [be] holy, the branches also. But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast graft in among them and wast made fellow-partaker of the root and of the fatness of the olive tree, boast not against the branches: but if thou boastest, not thou bearest the root but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off in order that I might be graft in. Well: through unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, it may be he will not spare even thee.” (Ver. 16-21.) From principles familiar to the Jew in the Old Testament the reasoning is drawn, and the ways of God in government are vindicated with singular force. The Jew, springing from Abraham, the one first chosen and called out to have promises in his line (though for all others in their effects), had been the natural trunk or branches of the olive tree. The Gentile grew wild outside. But God must have branches in keeping with the root, and, because the Jews were not, judgment proceeded against them. It was evident then, first, that boasting least became the Gentiles, who had no necessary or natural connection with the root, the father of the faithful, like the Jews; secondly, that they had most reason to fear, for if God had dealt with the failure of the seed of Abraham, it was not to be conceived that He would tolerate Gentile iniquity. It belonged to the plan of God to graft the Gentile into the line of promise on earth, in place of Jewish branches broken off through their unbelief. By faith the Gentile stands: let him not be highminded but fear. Otherwise God will not spare.
“Behold then God's goodness and severity: upon them that fell severity, but upon thee God's goodness if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they too, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be graft in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wast cut off from the olive tree wild by nature, and contrary to nature wast graft into a good olive tree, how much more shall these who are according to nature be graft into their own olive tree?” (Ver. 22-24.)
It is of the greatest moment to avoid confounding the continuous line of the inheritance of the promise on earth, the olive tree, with the mystery of Christ and the church where all is new and above nature. There is no breaking off members from the body, nor is the Jew a natural limb any more than the Gentile. All is heavenly grace and entirely distinct from the system of administered promises which began with Abraham, the firstfruit. No doubt those who compose the church, Christ's body, come in as branches standing through faith in the room of the broken off Jewish ones; but others do also who are mere professors of Christ, and do not appreciate God's goodness but forsake it for forms or skepticism or open evil, and will thus fall under His just severity when the moment arrives to cut off the faithless Gentile graft, as before the unbelieving natural boughs of Israel. It is no question of saving grace here but of earthly responsibility according to the respective testimony, first of Israel, next of Christendom. A man of exercised conscience, or even of ordinary knowledge of the New Testament, cannot look on the Gentile profession of Christ east, west, north, south, and affirm seriously that they have continued in God's goodness; if not, the sentence is excision for the Gentile, as of old for the Jew. Will the tree then he cut down? In nowise more in the future than in the past. Contrariwise the judgment of the Gentile branches makes way for the grafting in of the Jews, for they will then no longer abide in unbelief, and God is able to graft them in again. It is indeed “their own olive tree,” which God never forgets, nor should the Gentile.
Thus we all may and should clearly see the distinctness of the responsibility of the creature, whether in Israel or in Christendom, from the security of the elect who are saved by grace. Salvation is of Him who is rich in mercy, possible only, though given fully and freely, to the believer in virtue of redemption. But this does not hinder the trial of Christendom now, as of Israel in the past. The revealed result is the apostasy; but grace will translate the saints risen or changed to meet the Lord at His coming, as His day will fall with unsparing judgments on His enemies and most severely on those who abuse in the worst way the best and brightest privileges. The cutting off of the apostate Gentile profession will make way for the reception of Israel.

All Things Are of God: Part 2

(2 Cor. 5:18.)
Into the midst of this ruin and misery, this scene of God's dishonor and of Satan's triumph, Jesus came to glorify the Father, to deliver man, and to destroy the works of the devil. He who alone could work redemption such as the sinner needed endured the righteous judgments of God (which else were powerless to Him) by which to deliver us. He wrought by means of the penalties which God had inflicted upon men, and so wrought by them as to put away forever the offenses and sins, on account of which they had been pronounced. Prophecy had pointed to this wonder-working Redeemer, “Ο death, I will be thy plague; Ο grave, I will be thy destruction.” Consistently with this prophecy and after all that had been foretold was accomplished, He laid His right hand upon John in the Apocalypse, saying, “Fear not: I am the first and the last, I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of death and hell.” The penalties were endured by Him who could work out deliverance by nothing else. They were employed to glorify God, to put our sins away, and to defeat Satan who held them in his power. Penalties are now gone and sin is put away by the sacrifice of Himself, and God will finally cast death and hell into the lake of fire. When nothing further remained for Christ to do, and not till then, He said, “It is finished, and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.”
It is necessary to take this survey of the work of our blessed Lord, in order to pursue our inquiry, whether God is invariably true to Christ and His work on the cross, as the only rule of His action towards us. The last act of Christ in laying down His life, and the first new action of God in raising Him up from the dead, ought never to be separated in our souls any more than the last loud cry and God's answer by the rent veil. Otherwise we separate redemption and resurrection.
But before a believer can get happily into this position as one with Christ, it is of immense moment to see that God does more than rend the veil that hid Him from the earth and shut us out from heaven.
The place and relations of God, consequent upon the finished work of His Son, are as completely changed towards us, through redemption, as they were previous to the fall, when God walked with Adam in the garden of Eden, and after it when He drove out the man. So that our question is really twofold: not merely is God true to the work of Christ on the cross and at His right hand in heaven? but will God be true to Himself and His relations to the crucified Savior in death, and to the exalted Son of man in glory? After the resurrection of the second man what place can Adam have with God? Properly this ceases to be even a matter of inquiry, since God has made it the whole subject of a new revelation to us in the gospel of His grace, “All things are become new.” As truly also another history has commenced with man in the heavens, and between God the Father and His redeemed people on earth, concerning all His purposes and counsels, made yea and amen in righteous title by Him who has gone up to God. It is that same work, which has put away our sins and by which we are saved, that has glorified God; and on account of which the Christ who did it now sits on the right hand of the majesty in the heavens. Further, and as regards ourselves and the altered relations of God towards us, having accepted the blood of Christ as the propitiation for our sins, God correspondingly takes His place upon the mercy-seat and proclaims a gospel of salvation.
Having judged our transgressions on Christ, and divine righteousness having found its answer in the death of the substitute, God takes another place at the cross, no longer as a judge, but as “the just God and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” The One who was delivered for our offenses being raised from the dead, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. The cross has thus been the place of judgment, of blood-shedding, and of death. Christ has suffered, the just one for the unjust, to bring us to God. This is what the cross is to the believer, to Christ as the victim, to God the judge of all. Death is there where Christ bowed His head and gave up the ghost. Life is beyond it where Christ now is with God, crowned with glory and honor.
Is God true to these two centers—the cross below where Christ was, and the throne above where Christ is; and does He make these the unchanging rule of His actings towards us? Let us take our stand at the cross as believers, to see our sins and iniquities on Jesus; yea all that we were as in the flesh brought under the hand of God for judgment on Christ. By means of righteous condemnation on Him, the guiltless One, all that was against us has been brought down by death into the place of ashes, where all has been consumed by the fire of God's holiness and wrath. Can God deny Himself in what He condemned and judged upon Christ and reduced to ashes under divine wrath? Can He deny Christ in His sufferings, death, and atoning blood? Nay, His own glory was wrought out here by these means, and Satan overcome. What does He say to us, and what must He do for Christ but declare, “I am he that blotteth out your transgressions as a cloud, and your iniquities as a thick cloud?” God is true to the work of Christ and to His own judgment of sin and the flesh at the cross. All has been carried down to death, and by means of death left in the silence of the grave. Christ is risen out of it, and we in Him. Nothing else has gone up. The blood is before God, sprinkled in the holiest where He dwells, and a new and living way opened which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. The blood of Christ which shuts out all fear of judgment (since it is the abiding answer to judgment) has opened the heavens to us, and we come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. This is what God is towards us.
Again, will God be equally true to Himself, to Christ, and to believers, as regards life and righteousness and glory in the risen Christ on the throne? Surely, for it is He who says, “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” that in the enjoyment of this oneness with Christ we might glory in the Lord. It is God who has wrought this for us. It is He who made Christ to be sin for us, that has made us to be the righteousness of God in Him, and we are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. No, there is no other rule which God accepts as the ground of His actings towards us but what He has declared Christ to be at His right hand in glory. “God who hath commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” Moreover, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
The unvarying testimony of the apostles in their epistles is to establish the saints before God in Christ. Peter writes to them as “scattered strangers,” and “obedient children,” but “begotten again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” Further, he says, “God hath raised up Christ from the dead and given him glory, that your faith and hope may be in God.” Indeed we may ask, “What could the Holy Ghost do by the apostles but glorify Christ, and in this way? Such is His present ministry, as Jesus declared of Him, “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he shall show you things to come.” The passages already quoted show as to redemption, righteousness, and resurrection, that Christ is made of God all these to us, and that we have the full effects of them in Christ, proving that God has no other ground of acting towards us. Further, as regards life, Paul writing to the Colossians addresses them as associated with Christ. “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God,” and “when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Once more as respects “life,” the apostle writes to the Ephesians, “But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Nothing can be plainer than this, “that as He is, so are we in this world” Throughout John's epistles also the same blessed truth is insisted on.
Again, as to glory and the coming of the Lord, we shall find the same great fact holds good, which we have been examining as to our justification and redemption, both in life and righteousness. Indeed the coming of the Lord is the very point at which all is consummated. Then we drop forever the image of the earthy man and put on the image of the heavenly. Then we shall be presented faultless, before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Our Lord's own words are decisive: “If I go away, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also.” So John affirms: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” The consideration of facts like these, between ourselves and the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, cannot fail to bring our souls under the power of that blessed hope of the Lord's coming, and our rapture into the air to meet Him, which will in truth close up all between us and the earth that is earthy. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain [unto the coming of the Lord] shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Lastly, another kind of proof and an equally important one may be found in the fact of the Spirit dwelling in us and the Spirit being with us as the Spirit of truth and the glorifier of Jesus. This “promise of the Father,” fulfilled at Pentecost by the descent of the Holy Ghost, is what our Lord referred to on the last day, the great day of the feast of tabernacles: “Jesus stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink:” and it is added, “This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet [given], because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” So also in the Galatians: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” In either of these instances, how could such an unspeakable gift reach us as the indwelling Spirit, were it not that God has no other ground of action towards us than the worthiness of Christ? Observe, further, how truly God acts in us upon this truth: “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?” These scriptures are quoted to show that the Spirit not only testifies of Christ but dwells in us, because we are Christ's, owning us as bought with a price and working in us accordingly, that we may “glorify God in our body [and spirit which are God's].”
The title and claim over us, by sovereign grace and the Father's love, are thus complete upon all points, and founded upon the perfection of the finished work of Christ. “Sealed and indwelt by the Holy Ghost as we are, there is no room left for uncertainty, much less for misgivings and fears. On the contrary, the soul passes on into its own proper blessedness in Christ, as well as out of its own conscious wretchedness, as once connected with a body of sin and death, rejoicing in the liberty wherewith Christ has made it free. Once outside ourselves, we reach the power that has carried us out, and are free to take part with it against the flesh in ourselves that it has been against, and to use it in favor of what it has created and formed in us that is new. As was said at first, it is a wonderful thing to realize that “all things are of God,” that “old things are passed away, and all things are become new.” We are therefore among those in whom these great facts are to be manifested, by that mighty power of God, both now and hereafter.
In conclusion, it may be well to call attention to the contrast between this love of God, which is the spring and source of all the blessedness connected with our present and eternal relations, and the impotency of every existing institution and human organization, which only contemplate the improvement of man as he is and where he is: in other words, the difference between divine and human philanthropy is in question. And the difference is nothing less than this, that the kindness and love of God towards man has appeared, in that He has not spared His only begotten Son, but has given Him up for us all. By the ways and means which have occupied us in this paper, God has brought back man to Himself by nothing less than a self-sacrificing love, which gave the Son who is in His bosom.
Man can do nothing like this, even in his own circle—he has no such resources. Man has nothing better than himself and his schemes for his fellow, and is reduced therefore to confederacies, organizations, &c. These are all powerless as to conforming men even to the benevolence which has instituted them. The philanthropist cannot by these means create benevolence between man and his fellow, so that he should love his neighbor as himself, much less love God with all his heart and soul and strength. Mere institutions and their endowments do not even secure the attendance of those for whose benefit they were established, nor is it by church extension that the inhabitants of a country can be made true Christians. The best of these may perhaps embrace the idea of drawing man nearer to God, but the necessity of his being brought by substitution and sacrifice is yielded up: otherwise the scriptures and testimony to Christ would be prominent, and Christ Himself be everything.
But the love of God in sending forth His Son (the Man whom He had in reserve) has formed the way, by redemption through the blood of the slain Lamb, to make us new creatures in Christ and thus unite us by the Spirit to Himself as born of God—one in the Father and the Son. In the world's alienation from the love of God and its growing departure from truth and from light, under the delusion and sleight of Satan and of men, all things are of men. But where the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ has shined into the heart, all things are of God; who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. Old things have passed away, and all things are become new. J. Ε. B.

Brief Thoughts on Philippians 2

In this whole epistle is little or no doctrine, but the practical exhibition of Christian walk by the power of the Spirit of God.
The next chapter gives the energy of divine life; and the last superiority to circumstances. Chapter 2 shows us the spirit in which Christ walked down here, as the true character and spirit of the Christian, the meekness and gentleness of Christ, as in the third we see the energy of divine life. In some Christians there is a certain degree of natural energy. When Moses killed the Egyptian, he had not forgotten the fleshly energy of Pharaoh's court. Flesh on God's side can never stand flesh on the devil's side. Moses had to be kept for forty years keeping sheep that he might learn to be quiet. If one side of Christian character is wanting, the other is always defective too. You never get one side by itself without even that being defective.
In this chapter we see the perfect blessed giving up of self, and the most delicate consideration of others. Wherever true love is at work, you always reckon on the love of others. Epaphroditus was very uneasy because he perfectly reckoned on the love of the Philippians when they heard that he had been sick. You see the thoughtfulness and considerateness of grace where self is done with. It was perfect in Him.
Where there is not the positive power of Christ's presence, self will be there directly.
How gently and graciously the apostle speaks! The Philippians had thought of him in prison. He had heard of disputings among them: Euodias and Syntyche were not of the same mind; but he cannot rebuke them sharply when he had just received their kindness. “Fulfill ye my joy,” if you want to make me perfectly happy, you will be like-minded, “having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” —a rebuke, but a very gentle one. The spirit in which he writes is exceedingly beautiful.
Here we find that which in Christ leads to all this. In Him there was the total absence of self; in us there ought to be the suppression of self. “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” This will be no difficulty to us if we are with Christ. If I am with Christ, if I think of self at all, what do I think of? My faults, of course. I see in Christ such obedience, such love and grace, that I must think of my own failures. If I look at a brother, I see the blood of Christ upon him, I see the Spirit in him when I look on him with the eyes of Christ. Wherever the heart is feeling with Christ, one cannot but see good in others. Paul always speaks first of the good amongst those to whom he writes. There is only one exception to this amongst the epistles. Take Corinthians (which is not an exception): they were going on shockingly ill, and yet he says, before there is a word about the evil, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ, that in everything ye are enriched of him.” The Epistle to the Galatians is an exception; there he plunges right into the evil at once. Where doctrine and faith were touched, he was a great deal more severe than when Christians were walking badly, not that there is any excuse for a bad walk. “I stand in doubt of you,” he says to them; but in the next chapter, “I have confidence in you through the Lord;” his mind rises up to Christ.
In the ordinary path of the Christian, the heart being with Christ, the thing I see in myself is never a good thing—not that this brings distrust, for this is all wrong—it is thinking Christ's heart is like mine! I do not doubt His love, but the effect of living near Him and being with Him is that, while love is perfect, light is perfect too. Suppose one Christian a powerful evangelist, another a teacher: the teacher will think, “What a poor evangelist I am!” the evangelist will feel, “Oh! I know only the elements.” He does see Christ in his brother. We are wretched creatures in ourselves, but this is not a cold measure of what a person is, but the thoughts of Christ about others and about self. The man who has a great gift from God will be thinking of bringing it out as pure as he got it in— “He has lit a lantern in my heart: does the light come out as pure as it went in?” It is wonderful the happiness with which a person walks when going through the world in that way—self is gone. As a Christian, he sees that God has lit up grace in his heart, but alas! the walls of the lantern are sometimes dirty; when he looks at others, he sees they let out a little light any way.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” What was the mind that was in Jesus? It was always coming down. We should call it a long journey from the throne of God to the cross; it was very far indeed, and it was always down. “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The more He humbled Himself, the more He was trampled on. He begins His ministry with “Blessed, blessed,” He has to end it with “Woe, woe.” He goes down, whether trampled on or not, till He can go no lower, down to “the dust of death.”
He “being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation.” He always was God, but He laid aside the form of God, the outward glory, “and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” He will never cease to be a servant, though Lord of all; He will never give up this service of love to minister to our blessing. In the condition of Godhead to begin, He takes the form of a servant, and He was always obedient. He had no will of His own: nothing could be more humble than this. We find in this chapter the path the Lord went, from having the form of God, down to that death on the cross. Adam was in the form of man, and he did set up by robbery to be equal with God; he was the first example of “he that exalteth himself shall be abased.” The Second Adam abases Himself and is exalted; He lays aside His glory and takes a servant's form.
Man (especially in these days) is just the opposite; man's mind does not want God. The whole effort is to get the first man up; and you find even Christians joining in this, following where they cannot lead. Are children more obedient, servants more faithful, men of business more honest? It is the exaltation of man's will and the setting aside of God. The Second man's path was exactly the opposite; He always went down. Are you content to do this? Are you content to have the mind that was in Christ Jesus, content to be always trampled on? This was God's path in the midst of evil, and this is what we want to get. People talk about “God's creation” —why it was sin made it as it is, not the physical world of course, but the world as we have it. When was the world embellished? By Cain, when he went out from the presence of God. Man tries to make the world pleasant without God: this is the true and real character of the world. You continually hear it said, “What harm is there in music? what harm in painting?” There is harm in not one of physical things; the harm is in the use I make of them. What harm is there in strength? None whatever; but if I use my strength to knock a man down, there is harm in that. The harm is in the use people make of things. What harm was there in the trees of the garden? None. Men have in a certain sense lost God, and they try to get on as well without Him as they can. Christ was in this world in the form of a servant, a poor carpenter. Love delights to serve, blessed infinite love! Nothing could be more divine than when He gave up “the form of God” and went down, down, till He came to the gibbet—I do not say the cross, for the cross has become an honored name— but the actual gibbet. Then God exalts Him as man.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We see the perfectness of love that takes the form of a servant and gives up self in everything. If this mind is in you, you do not look at self to look at the good that is there, or to spare yourself suffering. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God;” such is the character of divine love come into this world of evil. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” will not do now. The world would be a paradise if that were done, but it is not a paradise; and what we want is a spirit of love that will carry us through this world. “For us” “to God:” there was in Christ the absolute giving up of self for what is perfectly worthless, and yet with a worthy object. Take the divine side of love; and the worse the object, the greater is the love; but if you take the human side, the greater the object, the greater is the love. We find both in Christ. If I take the creature side, the excellence of the object makes the greatness of the affection; if I take the divine side, the worthlessness of the object makes the greatness of the affection. We see divine power come into the midst of evil—there never was anything like it. God could not come among angels as He came in this sinful world. “Unto the glory of God by us.” “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.” “Which things the angels desire to look into.”
Christ is the center of all that. I find His divine person tracing this path all the way down. He never gives up the service of love. He will reign as King above all; all must confess His lordship. But the service of love He will never give up; as indeed it is a higher thing. He is “made Lord” (He was always God, of course), but He makes Himself a servant.
“Jesus knowing that.... He was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments and took a towel and girded himself.” If He was going out of this world, the disciples might say “He is gone into glory and has left us here; His service is over.” “No,” says the Lord, and He shows them that He does not give up His service. The key to John 13 is this: “I cannot stay with you, but you must have a part with Me: a spot will not do there.” He will take the place of a servant even in the glory. “He shall gird himself.....and will come forth and serve them.” His love is His glory; the nearer we are to Him, the more we shall adore Him.
In 1 Cor. 15 we read,” Then shall the Son also himself he subject.” He gives up the kingdom which He will rule in, but He keeps His place as man. He will be the “Firstborn among many brethren” forever and ever. His ear was bored to the door-post. The slave had a right to go out free after seven years of service, but He says, “I will not go out free, I will be a servant forever,” when He could have had twelve legions of angels at His command. Down here He was as much God as before He came down, but He had the “form of a servant.” “He ever liveth to make intercession for us,” and it will be His delight and joy to minister blessing throughout eternity, and thus make it doubly precious to us.
If I get hold of the path, the spirit, the mind of Jesus, nothing could be more hateful to me than anything of self. You never find an act of self in Christ. Not merely was there no selfishness, but there was no self, in Him. He has given us the immense privilege of always going down to serve others as He did.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Salvation is always looked at as the end of the journey, as the thing arrived at, in this epistle: therefore he speaks of working it out. “Work out your own salvation:” this is in contrast with Paul's working, not with God's work, as people so often misunderstand it to be. Paul was in prison: they had lost him. They had not lost God, but Satan seemed to have got the victory. If you are there with Joshua fighting Amalek, it is a very solemn thing; and if you have not Moses' hands up, you will be beaten. There is no uncertainty, but it is exceedingly serious to fight God's battle against Satan. Perhaps you think it must be easy to fight God's battles. It is not easy even with the Lord to help me; it is a most solemn thing that my business is to overcome Satan. There was no conflict in Egypt; the Israelites were slaves there. When out of Egypt, there was both the conflict and the trial of the wilderness. When they got over Jordan, they entered into Canaan, and whenever Joshua crossed the Jordan, conflict characterized their state. “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” There was no circumcision till they crossed the Jordan; the stamp of Egypt was on them till they were dead and risen. It is a solemn thing that I stand in Christ's place, in Christ's name (every Christian does, of course, I mean), in the scene of Satan's power. We are vessels of God's power against Satan. Here am I standing in Christ's name in Satan's world! God works in me; but this makes it only the more serious still: I should not fail.
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Before God we never murmur, never dispute. If God were seen, there would not be one murmur, one disputation; and faith realizes His presence.
It is remarkable as to the exhortation which follows, that if you take it to pieces, you see Christ in everything. “That ye may be blameless and harmless:” He was that. He was the Son of God, “without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.” He was “the light of the world,” while He was in it; “holding forth the word of life” —this was just what He did. “Ye are the epistle of Christ,” filled up with mud it may be, and hard to read, but still ye are the epistle of Christ.” “That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” I owe everything to Christ: I owe Him salvation, heaven, everything. I owe Him myself; the heart becomes engaged in this manifestation. He is gone, and He has left us here, and He says “I am glorified in them.”
Is that kind of desire yours? Not the desire of the sluggard who has nothing, who roasteth not that he took in hunting; but the real desire of manifesting Christ—the desire that cannot bear anything that is not Christ? God helps us in this. Paul could speak of “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus;” he takes death and holds it on himself. He wants to keep the walls of the lantern bright, and so he would rub them. “Always!” this is a great deal to say. What we have to do is to carry about with us the dying of the Lord Jesus, and then the flesh would never stir. We fail in this, and the Lord comes in and helps us. “We which live are alway delivered unto death.” The flesh is always present, there is no change in that. The Lord knows He has to help us, and He puts us through trials and exercises; the Lord makes everything to work for good to us. The apostle could say, “delivered unto death for Jesus' sake.” When we look back to a past life, we have more to be thankful for our trials than for anything else. Till the root is reached, the Lord does not let you go; the heart desires this—would not let the trial slip away. Oh! if we only trusted God, there would be confidence in His love. “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, but at the things which are not seen.” Are your hearts on the things that are seen, or on the things that are not seen?
There are three spaces in our hearts: Christ must be at the bottom of our heart and at the top also; it is what is between the two that shows my state.
Has your heart been open all day for the things of the world to trot over? Has the highway of your heart been open all day?
May God give us to be anything or nothing, so that the Lord Jesus may be everything!

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 2

(1 Peter 3:18.)
“It must be confessed,” continues Dr. B., “that this is a knot which cannot easily be untied. Yet should not this induce us to reject the literal and grammatical interpretation of the passage, and to fall back upon those forced glosses which have been coined in order to avoid, instead of fairly meeting and endeavoring to solve,” the acknowledged difficulty. To my conviction there is nothing to untie, where one cleaves to the strict language of the apostle and the real bearing of his argument. For he is exposing indirectly the Jewish unbelief which would have nothing but a Messiah visibly reigning in power and glory to the exaltation of the chosen people and the confusion of their enemies. The faith of the believing Christian Jews in Him, dead, risen, and gone to heaven, exposed them to the derision of their brethren after the flesh, who felt not their sins and cared not for the grace of God displayed in redemption by the blood of Jesus. He was preached, not present but rendering testimony by virtue of His Spirit. Hence the importance of pointing to His testimony by Noah, a testimony to man as such, like the gospel of Christ, for it was before the days of Israel or even Abraham, and the most striking epoch and even period of preaching to men in all the Old Testament.
This is entirely confirmed by Gen. 6:3, where Jehovah said,” My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Then the ark was preparing, the space of God's long-suffering; and “the waters of Noah came,” and man was destroyed from the face of the earth. And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man; for the days of the gospel are preeminently of testimony, as were those before the deluge, during which Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. But he was not a believer only, but a preacher of righteousness, more emphatically than we find it said of any other in Old Testament times. The preaching was in the power of the Spirit, and hence attributed to the Spirit of Christ, who is ever the active person in the Godhead, as is well-known in each visitation of man before the incarnation, preparing both the way and mind for it. Compare “the Spirit of Christ” which was in the prophets of old. (Ch. 1: 11.)
This then would encourage the believing Jews, as it might well admonish their despisers. It is a question of preaching to the world still in the Holy Spirit, not yet of the public reign and government of the Lord. So Christ wrought by the Spirit then; and so He does now. As the flood came on those heedless of the preaching of old, so it will be when He comes in judgment, for He is ready to judge the quick and dead. And if they taunt the believers with being so few compared with the masses that believe not, let them not forget that but eight souls were then saved through water; which figure now saves, baptism, on one side of it death, on the other resurrection, Christ having passed actually for us, as we also in spirit by faith having a good conscience before God through Him who is not only risen but at the right hand of God in heaven, where the highest and mightiest of creatures are subjected to Christ, who is therefore as full of assured security for His own as of irremediable ruin for all who slight the warning.
In this tracing of the links of the apostolic thought and word, I am greatly mistaken if the least strain is put on any part; as I believe the true text and the exact version have been already given. It is not so with those who have flattered themselves that they adhere most closely to the words of the apostle and their plain sense.
Thus when Bishop Middleton considers the true meaning to “be dead carnally, but alive spiritually,” almost every word is misrepresented; for, to bear such a translation, the sentence should have been θανὼν μὲν σαρκικῶς ζῶν δὲ πνευματικῶς, though I should call such a statement absurd and heterodox. I deny that we must or can render θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκι ξωοποιηθεις <50 πνεὐματι in any such fashion. Bishop Browne is as wrong in adopting such a. thought in the note to p. 911 as he is in giving “quick in His Spirit” in the text of p. 95, or in expounding it as Christ alive in His soul, in or by which He went to the souls ἐν φ. All this in my judgment is as loose in grammar, as in philosophy if they allude to this; as faulty also in theology, as it has not the least coherence with the context or scope of the apostle's reasoning.
If Peter too had meant to say that the soul of our Lord went to these other souls, he must have taken a most circuitous and unexampled mode of expressing it in employing the phrase ἐν ᾧ, referring to πνενματι just before. The statement, if not the interpretation, would be most unnatural. Taken as it stands for Christ's going and preaching in virtue of the Spirit by Noah to the rebellious antediluvians, it is in my judgment fully justified, were this necessary, by the Pauline phrase, καῖ ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο εἰρήνη ὑμῖν τοῖς μακρὰν καὶ εἰρήνην τοῖς ἐγγυς. The latter is even a stronger instance; for there is no explanatory reference to πνεύματι ἐν ᾧ. Further, it is not a natural interpretation to take τοπις ἐν φ. πν. as those who were, but who are, in prison, because of ἀπειθήσασίν ποτε ὕτε κ. τ. λ. following, which very simply attributes their being in custody to their disobedience of old. There is no need nor just ground for joining ποτέ with πορευθεὶς ἐκήρ. but with ἀπειθ. which marks off their unbelief at the preaching from the time when they were in prison. “We are thus shown, as plainly as words can, that we are reading of Christ preaching not in person but by virtue of the Spirit to those suffering the consequences of having been disobedient in the days of Noah.
Again, be it observed, the moral aim of this supposed preaching in the unseen world is as unsatisfactory as we have seen the grammar to be irregular and the doctrine strange. For it supposes a preaching confessedly without either faith or repentance as its end; and it selects, in what seems the most arbitrary way, out of all the departed souls those spirits imprisoned because of their heedlessness, when the long-suffering of God was awaiting in the days of Noah. To single out such willful sinners, as the objects to whom Christ in the under-world proclaimed His triumph and their fully effected redemption, seems to me a statement as foreign to scripture as-can be conceived, and equally ill adapted to impress their danger on such as now despise the preached word.
Bishop Horsley's Sermon on the passage, which is so warmly commended both in Bishop Middleton's Treatise and in Bishop Browne's Exposition, appears to my mind little worthy of confidence. Thus he affirms strongly that the English translation of ξ. δὲ πν., though “a true proposition, is certainly not the sense of the apostle's words. It is of great importance to remark, though it may seem a grammatical nicety, that the prepositions, in either branch of this clause, have been supplied by the translators and are not in the original. The words ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit,' in the original, stand without any preposition, in that case which, in the Greek language., without any preposition, is the case either of the cause or instrument by which—of the time when—of the place where—of the part in which—of the manner how—or of the respect in which, according to the exigence of the context; and to any one who will consider the original with critical accuracy it will be obvious, from the per-feet antithesis of these two clauses concerning flesh and spirit, that if the word ‘spirit' denote the active cause by which Christ was restored to life, which must be supposed by them who understand the word of the Holy Ghost, the word 'flesh' must equally denote the active cause by which He was put to death, which therefore must have been the flesh of His own body—an interpretation too manifestly absurd to be admitted. But if the word ‘flesh’ denote, as it most evidently does, the part in which death took effect upon Him, ‘spirit' must denote the part in which life was preserved in Him, that is, His own soul; and the word ‘quickened' is often applied to signify, not the resuscitation of life extinguished, but the preservation and continuance of life subsisting. (?) The exact rendering therefore of the apostle's words would be, ‘Being put to death in the flesh, but quick in the spirit,' that is, surviving in His soul the stroke of death which His body had sustained, ‘by which’ or rather ‘in which,' that is, in which surviving soul, 'he went and preached to the souls of men in prison or in safe keeping.'“
I have given this long extract which clearly puts this able divine's objections to the Authorized Version. Now, without committing myself to the defense of what is not quite correct, I have no hesitation in asserting that Horsley, by his own mistaken view, has diverged incomparably farther from the truth. We need not go beyond the bishop himself and the passage in debate where he gives a difference of shade to the two participles which are quite as much contrasted with each other as their complementary datives. According to his own principle therefore as the first means “put to death,” the other should be “made alive,” even if its uniform usage by inspired writers did not force one to the same conclusion. Why then did not H. carry out fairly and fully his own reasoning? Because it would have involved him in the result that Christ was not only put to death in the flesh but made alive in His own soul or spirit. The good bishop of course shrank from so portentous an inference, and was therefore driven to modify the antithesis, not in πνεύματι but in an unnatural and unfounded interpretation put on ξωοποιηθείς, which even Dean A. explodes, insisting justly on “brought to life,” instead of preserved alive.
The truth is that Horsley did not himself seize the exact force of σαρκί and πνεύματι, still less the difference produced by ἐν in the beginning of verse 20. Christ was put to death in (i.e. in respect to) flesh, as a living man here below; He was made alive in (i.e. in respect to) Spirit, as one henceforth living in the life of resurrection, characterized by the Spirit as the other by flesh, though of course not a spirit only but with a spiritual body. It is not His own spirit as man, which is far worse than the English Version here both grammatically and theologically. Grammatically it would demand τῷ πν., which is a reading unknown to the best copies and scouted by all competent critics; but, even if grammatically and” diplomatically legitimate, it would land us in the frightful heresy that Christ died not merely in flesh but in spirit, and had to be quickened in that of man which dies not even in the lost. Only the materialist conceives that spirit, if he allows of spirit, can die.
Further, if ζ. δὲ πν. refers to the resurrection of Christ, it is harshness itself and out of all reason to suppose Him back again in the separate state, in the verse following, where Horsley takes ἐν ᾧ to mean in which surviving soul He went and preached to the souls of men in prison. But understand it, as I believe ἐν means we should, that Christ also went iv πνεύματι, not now in character of Spirit, but in virtue of' the Spirit or in His power when He preached through Noah; and all is precise in grammar, correct in doctrine, clear in sense, and consistent with the context. When we are raised by and by, it will be διὰ τὸ ἐνοικοῦν αὐτοῦ πνεῦμα, because of His Spirit that dwelleth in us. It was not suitable to Christ so to speak of His resurrection. He was when put to death quickened πνεύματι, denoting the character of His life in resurrection (not merely the agent), ἐν ᾧ καί marking the Spirit's power in which, before He was thus put to death and raised, He went and preached to the spirits in prison, disobedient as they were once when, &c.
Who can wonder therefore that the Anglican divines in the 5th of Queen Elizabeth dropped the reference to this passage of Peter in Article iii. where they had inserted it in the 6th and 7th of King Edward the sixth? Nor need we with Bishop Horsley impute it to undue reliance on the opinion of Augustine (ep. 99 [164], Evodio), who was followed by some others of the fathers in rejecting the superstitious idea of Christ's preaching in Hades. The excellent Leighton at a later day was so far from seeing this to be the plain meaning of the passage, that he does not hesitate to say, “They that dream of the descent of Christ's soul into hell think this place sounds somewhat that way; but, being examined, it proves no way suitable, nor can by the strongest wresting be drawn to fit their purpose.”
On the other hand the figurative explanation of τοῖς ἐν φ.πνεὐμασιν is quite indefensible and uncalled for. The sense of sinners shut up in a prison of darkness while living on earth, whether in Noah's day or in apostolic times, whether of the Gentiles or of the Jews and Gentiles, must be rejected. Bishop Horsley however is as mistaken on his side when he avers that such passages as Isa. 49:9; 61:1, refer to the liberation of souls from Hades. Equally wrong is his idea that ποτέ joined with ἀπειθ. implies that the imprisoned souls were recovered from that disobedience and before their death had been brought to repentance and faith in the Redeemer to come. Contrariwise the scope is that, having once on a time disobeyed when God's long-suffering was waiting before the deluge, they are in prison. In virtue (or in the power) of the Spirit Christ went and preached to such, by a preacher of righteousness, no doubt; but it is styled His preaching to enhance the solemnity of what was then refused, as it was also in Peter's day. These spirits were in prison as having once been disobedient thus and then; and God will not be mocked now if Christ's preaching in the Spirit be rejected and He be despised in His servants. Where would be the force of the few, that is eight, souls who were saved through water, if the disobedient mass or any of them were saved none the less though outside the ark? It is certainly a suicidal citation which H. makes from the beginning of Rev. 20:13; for we know that the sea will have none to give up at that epoch but the unblessed and unholy, all the righteous dead having already been raised in the first resurrection. Nor is there the least reason from scripture to fancy that souls deceive themselves by false hopes and apprehensions after death, so that some should need above others the preaching of our Lord in Hades. It is nowhere said that thither He went and preached. The spirits are said to be in prison, and this, as having once on a time been disobedient; but it is not said or meant that there Christ went and preached to them.
It is no question then of discrediting clear assertions of holy writ on account of difficulties which may seem to the human mind to arise out of them, but of an interpretation which produces endless confusion, leads inevitably into false doctrine, and has no connection with the passage any more than with the general tenor of revealed truth elsewhere. To put such a notion, based on a bad reading, slighting the exactness of grammar, ignoring the nice distinctions of the phrases, and resulting in the most impotent conclusion spiritually; to put this on the same level “with the doctrines of atonement—of gratuitous redemption—of justification by faith without the works of the law—of sanctification by the influence of the Holy Spirit;” to say that, discrediting Christ's preaching in Hades, we must, on similar grounds, part at once with the hope of resurrection, is more worthy of a bold or weak special pleader than becoming a grave and godly minister of Christ. To urge that its great use is to confute the notion of death as a temporary extinction of the soul or of its sleep between death and resurrection is certainly not to claim much from so wonderful a fact, if a fact: whether scripture does not abundantly confute such dreary and mischievous dogmas of unbelief, without resorting to strange doctrine based on a hasty and superficial interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18-20, may safely be left to spiritual men who judge according to the word of God.
(To be continued.') —♦-

To Correspondents

It seems due to such as doubted the need for the Editor's remarks on the recent baptismal agitation, to say that the writer censured has not only confessed his grave error, but justified what was written in exposure of it. “I accept his letter, as being fully warranted by certain expressions I have made use of, and I own also that the statements I have made are of such a nature as to fully justify the publication of his letter, even after I had withdrawn my tract.” Those therefore who, in the face of this, complain of severity cannot be supposed to judge the false doctrine involved: else they would see more love in reproving than in palliating or cloaking it. May we thank God for what His grace has given, and look for yet more!


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Notes on Matthew 1-3

Most readers [of this publication] already know, I suppose, that the Lord Jesus is presented to us in each of the four Gospels in a different point of view. It is only with one of the Gospels that I am going with God's help to occupy them at present; and if I here point out the character of each of the four, it is to put more in relief that of the Gospel taken up.
First of all the Gospels are divided into two classes: on one side, the Gospel of John; and, on the other, the first three called synoptic. This division is just. Every one in reading feels how different John is from the three others. I proceed to point out more precisely the difference.
In the first three Gospels Christ is presented to men, more particularly to the Jews, for the purpose of being received, and each of them closes with the account of His rejection.
It is not so with John. From the first chapter we find the Lord rejected. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not, He came to His own, and His own people received Him not. And in the following verses we see that it is grace which causes Him to be received by any. He is received by those who are born (not of the flesh, but) of God. In the entire Gospel the Jews are treated as reprobate, and the sovereign grace of the Father who draws and election are put forward. The sheep hear His voice. The Jews do not hear Him because they are not of His sheep. Moreover He is come from the Father, and come into the world. There is also no genealogy which goes up to the stock of promise in Abraham and David, no human genealogy which goes up to Adam (son) of God. It is God, the Word, who was with God and who was God; in whom was life, and the life the light of men, light shining in darkness which the darkness comprehended not; then the word made flesh, God manifested here below. And all agrees with that: no agony in Gethsemane, nor cry on the cross. When the moment arrived He delivers up His spirit, the hour being come to pass from this world to the Father. It is what He is that is presented to us in this Gospel; and, whether Jew or Gentile, we must be born anew. At the end the coming of the Holy Spirit, testimony before the world, is to replace Him among His own, for the world also is judged. John passes at the close to some ulterior manifestations of His glory on the earth in a manner designedly mysterious, and without any ascension scene. It is Himself, Son of man, but God manifested here below.
The first three Gospels, we have said, relate the manner in which Christ was presented to men to be received, and His rejection, then His resurrection; Mark and Luke add His ascension.
In Luke, after the most delicious picture of the little remnant faithful in the midst of the corruption of Israel, we find the Son of man and grace toward men by Him. The genealogy goes up to Adam; and He, the Second man, the last Adam, ascends to heaven from Bethany, blessing His own. The commission given to the apostles comes from heaven and embraces all, Jews and Gentiles.
In Mark we find the servant and prophet. This Gospel begins with His ministry, preceded by that of John the Baptist. We find at the end His meeting with the disciples in Galilee after His resurrection as in Matthew; but besides an appendix from verse 9, in which what is found in Luke and even in John is briefly stated, that is to say, the heavenly side of these last events, and a commission given to the disciples more general and more universal. It carries salvation or condemnation to all the creation under heaven.
I have reserved Matthew for the last of the Gospels because I must occupy myself with it with more detail. It presents to us Emmanuel, the Messiah, object of the promises and the prophecies, Jehovah in the midst of Israel, Savior of His people but rejected as in Isa. 49 and 50, and His presence on earth replaced by the kingdom in mystery (chap, 13.), by the church (16.), the kingdom in glory (17.); but whilst insinuating the substitution of the church and of the kingdom, the principal subject is always the Lord in His relation with His earthly people, His meeting with His disciples after His resurrection in Galilee. They are sent to the Gentiles, and there is no ascension. Consequently we begin quite naturally with the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. Jesus is viewed as the Heir of the promises, as the Son of David. We find ourselves in the atmosphere of the thoughts and the hopes of Israel, not of Israel's thoughts and hopes according to God. The genealogy is traced in the line of Joseph from whom He inherited royalty according to the law. But His birth really of Mary presents facts evidently still more important being close to His person as far as manifested on the earth. Save to draw the attention of the reader to them, these facts, all-important though they be, are so well known and so simply related that I have hardly need to enlarge on them. His human nature, conceived in the womb of the Virgin, without spot or stain, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is a thing perfectly holy; also it is, according to the flesh, born of God whilst being the Seed of the woman, true man in this world. And not this only. He was to be named Jesus (Joshua, or Jahoshea), Jehovah the Savior, for He should save His people from their sins. As He was Jehovah, the people was His people.
Thus we have a man without sin and Jehovah manifested in flesh: a fact which is a proof of infinite grace, to which nothing is like, which abides alone in the annals of man as in the counsels of God. It is true that redemption was necessary, namely His death, in order that this fact should be available for men, and that the counsels of God should be accomplished. But all depended on the fact that God became man, that the Word was made flesh.
Never elsewhere had there been a man having perfectly knowledge of good and evil without sin, never divine perfection—God Himself—manifested in flesh, which will remain eternally true, and without which redemption itself could not have been accomplished. We shall find in all His life the perfect obedience of man, the perfect manifestation of God. Also He is owned of the prophecy in Isa. 7, Emmanuel, God with us! and Joseph gives Him the name which was assigned Him by the angel, the name of Jesus. Thus according to the testimony of God He has taken His pace in the midst of His people.
But the nations were to hope in the Branch out of the root of Jesse (Isa. 11:1, 10), and Magi from the east arrive to do homage to Him who is born King of the Jews. Already, from that tender age, must He know what it is to be rejected. The false king of Israel seeks to have Him put to death; and Joseph, directed peculiarly by God, takes Him to Egypt, whence He was to come up again, the true vine, to begin afresh the history of Israel as the green tree, the living vine; as when risen He would recommence the history of man, the Second Adam. He returns called out of Egypt, Son of God, but has to take His place where one truly an Israelite in whom was no guile could not believe anything good was to be found. He dwells at Nazareth. All this is most significant, but is only preliminary as a preface which indicates the subject-matter treated in the book of His life which follows.
In chapter 3 we begin His history with the preparatory testimony of John the Baptist, who goes before the face of Jehovah. Such is the clear and precise declaration of Mal. 3:1, or, if we take the quotation of Matthew himself, it is the voice of him who prepares the way of Jehovah. Such is Christ. Jehovah in the midst of men and in particular of the Jews, such, in a striking way, is the Christ of Matthew; but the Son of God also has taken the form of a servant as we are going to see.
The testimony of John did not accept the fact that one was son of Abraham as to the flesh. God could raise up sons to Abraham by His mighty power. The judgment or the kingdom was in view. Repentance must be in order to bear good fruit; and for sinful man the very first of those fruits was repentance. His baptism, in a word, was the beginning of repentance at the approach of the kingdom and as a preparation for entering in. The people not repenting could not enter in a lump. But if he, John, baptized for repentance, One was there who was about to execute judgment by purifying His floor, but He baptized with the Holy Ghost. These three characteristics belonged to this testimony: particular and separative judgment (verses 10), already the ax was at the root of the trees; He who baptized with the Holy Ghost was there; He would purge His floor by a definitive judgment which would gather the good grain and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. Jesus presents Himself for baptism. It is His floor which is going to be purged; the granary is His; it is He who burns the chaff in the judgment. But He comes to place Himself in the midst of His people. Nothing more striking than this juxtaposition; nothing more positive than the declaration that He is Jehovah; nothing clearer than the fact that He places Himself in the midst of His people in the path where grace conducts them. Assuredly He does not join Himself with the rebellious and intractable people, but from the first step taken by those who by grace listen to the word of the testimony of God, from the first step in the good way He is found with them in His infinite grace. The heart answers at once to the testimony of John that He who came had no need of repentance: we know it. Quite the contrary, He was fulfilling righteousness. But for His own it was just the thing according to God. The life of God, which put forth its first breath in. the atmosphere of God but in the midst of men, took its first step in the divine way—the way toward the kingdom which was going to appear. He would not leave them there alone. He takes His place with them. Infinite grace, sweet thought, full of His love for the heart of His own!
Remark also how He abases Himself here to the level of His messenger: “thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” You have your part, I mine, in accomplishing the will of God. There He is already a servant! He is baptized, and His place taken in the midst of His own, in the midst of the faithful remnant that walked under the effect of the power of God's word. And now where is He, the Servant, He who humbled Himself, who has His place with His poor people, the poorest of His flock? Heaven is open, the Holy Spirit descends on Him, the Father owns Him as. His Son. He is the model of the position He has taken for us by redemption. Never had heaven so opened before; never had there been on earth an object which He could own as making His good pleasure. Now there was. For us too the veil is rent, and heaven is open. We have been anointed and sealed of the Holy Spirit as Jesus was; the Father has owned us to be His beloved sons already in this world. He was such in His own proper and full right, worthy of being so in Himself; we are introduced by grace and redemption. But entered into the midst of His people He shows what is the position which in Him belongs to them; as I have just said, He is its model. What happiness! what grace! But, carefully remark, His divine person remains always such, a difference besides which is never lost, whatever be His abasement and His grace toward us. When heaven is open for Jesus, He has no object above to which He looks to fix His attention. He is Himself the object that heaven contemplates. When heaven is open for Stephen, as for us by faith, Jesus the Son of man is his object in heaven which is open for His servant. In grace the Lord takes a place with us; He never loses His own either for the Father or for the heart of the believer. The nearer we are to Him, the more we adore Him.
Remark here also another thing altogether notable. It is in and by the voluntary humiliation of Jesus that all the Trinity is for the first time fully revealed. The Son is there, the object specially conspicuous as man; the Holy Spirit comes and abides on Him; and the voice of the Father owns Him: marvelous revelation associated with the position that the Son had taken! The Son is recognized as Jehovah in Psa. 2 The Holy Spirit is found everywhere in the Old Testament. But the full revelation of the three persons in the unity of God—the basis of Christianity—is reserved for the moment when the Son of God takes His place in the midst of the poor of His flock, His true place in the race in which He had His delights, the sons of men. What grace is that of Christianity! what a place is that where our hearts are found, if taught of God we have learned to know this grace and Him in whom it is come to us! Here then is our position according to this grace in Christ Jesus, before God our Father accepted in the Beloved.

Notes on Ezekiel 4-7

Following up the call in the close of the last chapter (ver. 22-27), the Lord directs the prophet to set forth the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans: “Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and portray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: and lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about. Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.” (Ver. 1-3.) A still more remarkable command is next given. “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon if thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.” (Ver. 4-8.)
It is well known that this has given rise to much debate and difference of judgment. First, the reading of most MSS. of the Septuagint misled the early fathers, who read the more common Greek version, as we see for instance in Theodoret; and the same error appears in the Vulgate, though Jerome well knew that there is no doubt as to the Hebrew, followed by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. Next the reckoning even of Jerome is from the ruin of the revolted house of Israel in the reign of Pekah, when the king of Assyria carried off the ten tribes to the east. But I do not doubt that their view is sounder who count the three hundred and ninety years of Israel from Jeroboam, to whom Ahijah announced from Jehovah the gift of the ten tribes rent out of the hand of Solomon, and that the forty years of Judah point to the reign of Solomon himself, which really determined the ruin even of that most favored portion of the people, little as man might see under the wealth and wisdom of the king the results of the idolatry then practiced. “They have forsaken me,” was the message of the prophet in that day, “and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon; and have not walked in my ways to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.” Thus the seed of David were to be for this afflicted, as they have been, but not forever. But if a brighter day awaits them, a long night of darkness first, and the coldest hour before the dawn; for they have added to their idolatry the still graver wickedness of rejecting their Messiah and of opposing the gospel that goes out to the Gentiles, so that wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. It seems no real obstacle to this that the house of Israel as a distinctive title of the ten tribes were carried off long before the termination of the period; because it is after the habitual manner of Ezekiel, however he may distinguish here as elsewhere, to embrace the whole nation under that name. Judah did not use for God's glory the long and peaceful and prosperous reign of him who in the midst of unexampled benefits turned away his heart after other gods; and the sentence of Lo-ammi was only executed when that portion of the elect nation which clave to the house of David, and even the last king who reigned of that house, by their treachery to Jehovah justified the backsliding tribes who had long before been swept away from the land.
How solemn is the testimony God renders to man viewed in his responsibility to walk according to the light given! It is not only that he departs farther and farther from God, but that he breaks down from the first; while every fresh means of recall but serves to prove his thorough alienation in heart and will. Thus no flesh can glory in His presence. May we glory in the Lord! Not the first man, but the Second has glorified God. Justly therefore has God glorified the Son of man in Himself, and this straightway after the cross.
Here it is another question. The prophet must set forth in his own person the degradation as well as the judgment impending because of the iniquity of the people. Hence another sign follows. “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof. And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink water also by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink. And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung which cometh out of man, in their sight. And Jehovah said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them. Then said I, Ah Lord Jehovah! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came abominable flesh into my mouth. Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith. Moreover be said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment; that they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.” (Ver. 9-17.) In his measure Ezekiel is to taste the condition of Israel under the righteous dealings of God, not because he was personally out of divine favor, but on the contrary because he was near enough to God to enter into the reality of their wretchedness, though only the Son of man could in grace go down into its depths and take it up perfectly and suffer to the full, yea far beyond all that ever was or can be their portion. Jesus in His zeal for God and love for His people alone could bear the burden, whether in government or in atonement; but for both the glory of His person fitted Him without abating one jot of what was due to God, and with the deepest results of blessing, as for us now, so for the godly Jew in the latter day. Never did He shield Himself, as Ezekiel does here, from an adequate taste of the ruin-state of Israel; never did He deprecate save, if possible, that cup of unutterable woe which it was His alone to drink, but drink it He did to the dregs that grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Chapter 5 adds fresh particulars of unsparing and destructive judgment; for the preceding chapter had not gone beyond the Chaldean siege of Jerusalem with its attendant though most distressing miseries.
“And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, a barber's razor be taken to thee, and cause it to pass upon thy head and upon thy beard, and take to thee weighing balances, and divide the hair. Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel.” (Ver. 1 -4.) The application is certain and immediate, being furnished in the following words of the prophet: “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.” (Ver. 5, 6.)
The form in which the God of Israel communicated the dismal lot and unsparing destruction about to fall on the Jews is the more impressive, because both in the manner in which the prophet was ordered to bake his bread and to shave off his hair, there was a departure from ceremonial in a way which could not be justified otherwise than by the authority of God Himself or the moral exigencies of His people. Here no doubt it could be, though assuredly Ezekiel as a priest would feel all deeply. The converse of this one has in the vision of Simon Peter where we see the deeply rooted prejudices of the Jew though in a trance, but overruled of God who would save from among the Gentiles and bring about communion with such of Israel as believed. In our prophecy it is not grace going out to meet and welcome and bless the heathen by proclaiming to them the only Savior, but judgment falling on Jerusalem and this persistently and without relenting-a strange tale for Israel to hear and believe. For inverses hitherto had been but temporary chastenings, and pity's stream kept ever flowing down its accustomed bed, and the mass of Israelites fondly hoped that so it must be, and that God at least was bound to them, though well they knew how often and habitually the people dishonored Him. Let them see and hear from the abased prophet what was very soon to be fearfully realized according to his message from Jehovah. It was the high and central position of Israel, of Jerusalem above all, among the peoples and lands round about which made their rebellion and idolatry so grievous, so impossible to be overlooked or spared more.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and you have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thy abominations. Therefore the fathers shall eat their sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers: and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds. Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity. A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.” (Ver. 7-12.)
We clearly see then the divine dealing. A third was to perish by plague and famine inside the besieged city; a third to fall by the sword round about Jerusalem; and the remaining third to be scattered to all the winds with a sword drawn after them by God. Here too we see how those of Jerusalem under the circumstances represent “all the house of Israel,” no account being taken in this place of the ten tribes already arrived to the East. The defilement of Jehovah's sanctuary by heathen abominations brought in by kings and priests and people made Jerusalem intolerable.
“Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I Jehovah have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them. Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by.” (Ver. 13, 14.) Their judgment should be in the sight of those nations who had beheld their infidelity to the true God, their God. “So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I Jehovah have spoken it.” (Ver. 15.) The heathen themselves were astonished; for they had no notion of a national deity so dealing with the people who professed that worship. “When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread: so will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I Jehovah have spoken it.” (Ver. 16, 17.)
Chapter 6 shows that God takes account of all the scenes of their idolatrous evil throughout the land, though we have seen Jerusalem to have a bad pre-eminence. Hence Ezekiel is here commanded to look toward “the mountains of Israel.” “And the word of Jehovah came unto me saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and 1 will destroy your high places. And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars. In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.” (Ver. 1-7.) Thus Jehovah would wake up the sword to destroy Israel throughout the land, who had abandoned Him for heathen gods which could not shield from, but assuredly expose to, destruction. Devotees, and altars, and images should all perish, idolaters before their idols, and their bones upon their altars: so complete the discomfiture, and so evident its ground.
Nevertheless will Jehovah in judgment remember mercy. “Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries. And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations. And they shall know that I am Jehovah, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.” (Ver. 8-10.) But in verse 9 it would seem that the true meaning is, “when I shall have broken their whorish heart which had departed from me, and their eyes,” &c. The verb has not a passive but the reflexive sense of “breaking for myself.” What probably led to the rendering preferred” in the Authorized Version was the difficulty of such a phrase with the “eyes.” This is sought to be softened by the Jewish version of Mr. Leeser, who translates it, “even with their eyes.” But this can hardly stand. Heart and eyes are broken together in repentance before God.
Here again Ezekiel is called to mark with characteristic action the sure divine judgment of Israel's abominations. The very land should become more waste and desolate than the desert in all their dwelling places. “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence. He that is afar off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them. Then shall ye know that I am Jehovah, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savor to all their idols. So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am Jehovah.” (Ver. 11-14.)
Chapter 7 closes this preliminary strain, or cluster of strains, of coming woe. It is marked by comprehensiveness indeed; but instead of vagueness there is every mark of rapidity in the short, strange, abrupt style in which the Spirit proclaims with frequent and emphatic repetitions an end to the land of Israel as that which was just at hand. “And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah unto the land of Israel; An end, the end, is come upon the four corners of the land. Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; An evil, an only evil, behold, is come. An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come. The mourning is come unto thee, Ο thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah that smiteth.” (Ver. 1-9.)
Next we see that not only do “the four corners of the land” come under the distinct and decisive dealing of Jehovah, but in this case the results are complete and overwhelming. There is no recovery possible as far as man can see or say. “Behold the day, behold, it is come: the morning is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed, pride hath budded. Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of any of theirs: neither shall there be wailing for them.” (Ver. 10, 11.) The ordinary ways and feelings of men disappear. (Ver. 12.) Wrath is on all the multitude. The special hopes of an Israelite are broken, for the jubilee too vanishes, and with it all prospect of recovery. (Ver. 13.) How could idols help him? The sound of the trumpet which calls on man, which to a Jew should be the assurance of God's hearing and appearing on their behalf as usual, is wholly unavailing; for Jehovah's wrath is upon all the multitude. (Ver. 14.) They are thus seen shut up within concentric circles of devouring ruin. (Ver. 15-18.) God's prophet announces, terrible to think, stroke upon stroke, from God against His people, enfeebled before by the sense of guilt. In the day of their calamity they are forced to feel that their gods are vanity, nothing but “silver and gold,” and “they shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be as uncleanness.” “Their silver and gold” (adds the prophet most impressively) “shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of Jehovah; they shall not satisfy their souls nor fill their bowels, because it was the stumbling block of their iniquity.”
But had not God one place chosen to be His dwelling place and rest? Alas 1 their worst evil manifested itself against Him there. Their glory was their shame. “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty: but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein: therefore have I set it far from them. And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it. My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place: for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it.” (Ver. 20-22.)
Lastly the prophet is bid to make the chains, symbolic of the slavery in store for those not cut off, and this too that the vilest of Gentiles should take possession of their houses, destruction coming, and peace sought in vain, but mishap on mishap, and rumor upon rumor, and no vision from the prophet, but the law perishing from the priest and counsel from the ciders. The king mourning, the prince clothed with the perplexity of grief, and the hands of the people of the land shaking: such is the picture (ver. 23-27) of appalling trouble, and fulfilled to the letter, as we know. “Because of their way will I do unto them, and according to their judgments will I judge them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.” Such is the conclusion of the solemn preliminary warning.

Coming of the Lord Prominent in All Epistles of the NT

There is not an epistle in the New Testament in which the coming of the Lord Jesus is not made the prominent object of the faith and hope of believers, for which they were to wait, and which characterizes distinctively those who should partake of His Salvation. Now the expectation of it is put out of view and depreciated” as much as possible

Notes on Luke 19:28-48

Next follows the approach to Jerusalem. The Messiah indeed, but Son of Man, presents Himself according to the prophecies going before even when they are not formally cited, with the fullest parabolic instruction just given that the opposition to Him was deliberately willful and conclusive, for it was not only that His citizens (The Jews) despised Him coming as He did in humiliation for the deepest purposes of divine love, but they “hated” Him and sent a message after Him, saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Awful to hear from His lips, those were His “enemies,” above all others, who would not that He should reign over them. His heavenly glory was at least as repugnant to them as His earthly abasement. They appreciated neither the grace which brought Him down nor the glory to which as man He was exalted. What could He say then but “Bring them hither and slay them before me?” as ever, the moral springs are laid bare in our Gospel, and, if evil, judged.
“And when he had said these things, he went on before, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, toward the mountain called Olivet, he sent two of his disciples, saying, Go away into the village over against you; in which as ye enter ye shall find a colt tied on which not one of man ever sat: loose and bring it. And if any one ask you, Why do ye loose [it]? thus shall ye say to him, Because the Lord hath need of it. And they that were sent, having gone away, found even as he had said to them. And as they were loosing the colt, its owners said to them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, Because the Lord hath need of it. And they brought it to Jesus; and, having cast their garments on the colt, they set Jesus thereon; and, as they went, they strewed their garments in the way.” (Verses 28-36.)
The labor of ancients and moderns to find in this remarkable incident a type of the Gentiles obedient to the gospel, as the Lord received and rode on the colt, seems to me far from intelligent. Rather was it very simply the evidence of His divine knowledge and the assertion among the Jews of His claim as Jehovah Messiah, verified by facts and by the proved subjection of human hearts where God was pleased to effect it to the honor of His Son. Hence the minuteness with which the words which passed and the accomplishment of all He said are noted by the Spirit. Doubtless, as in all the Gospels, so here it was in meekness and lowliness He entered; still it was as the king according to the revealed mind of God. It was not yet the day of trouble when Jehovah is to hear His Christ with the saving strength of His right hand; nor was yet the time come for the Jew to glory in the name of Jehovah, but alas I no better than the Gentiles who know not God, these in chariots and those on horses. But One was there who for them and us in all the degradation and selfishness and guilt of the fallen race was willing to bear the uttermost rejection of man, the forsaking of God Himself crowning it, that we might be brought to God owning our sinfulness and resting on the grace which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
But the power of God, which wrought in hearts prepared by grace as a suitable testimony to Jesus at that moment, was still more pointedly marked in what Luke next records, and Luke only as it is characteristic of the Holy Ghost's design in his account. “And as he was drawing near, already at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began with rejoicing to praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen, saying, Blessed the King that cometh in Jehovah's name: in heaven peace, and glory in [the] highest. And some of the Pharisees from the crowd said unto him, Teacher, rebuke thy disciples. And answering he said, I tell you that, if these shall be silent, the stones will cry out.” (Verses 37-40.)
It is not merely the crowds or those who went before and followed as in Matthew and Mark; nor is it the cries of the children in the temple, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, as in the first Gospel most appropriately. Here we are told of the whole multitude of the disciples, and hence of words only befitting their lips, though surely given of God with a wisdom reaching far beyond their measure, as is known not seldom among the witnesses of Christ. “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” looks · to things higher and more immediate than the preceding words cited from Psa. 118 and common to all four evangelists.
It is a striking change even from the announcement of another multitude, near the beginning of this Gospel, who suddenly appeared with the angelic herald of the Savior's birth, and praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, in men good pleasure.” Such was the suited celebration of the Son now incarnate, that marvelous and mighty fact which introduced God Himself into the most touching relations with humanity, and laid the basis for the manifestation of the Father in the person of Christ, as well as for the accomplishment of the infinite work of redemption, on which hangs the righteous vindication of God, and the gracious deliverance of the elect, and the reconciliation of all things in heaven and on earth to His own everlasting glory. And the heavenly host speak of the grand result as then invisibly enshrined in Him just born, a babe in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger in Bethlehem. God was pleased to manifest His good pleasure in men, not in angels, and so to fill the highest seats with glory to Himself, and earth with peace.
But in fact Jesus was, as the prophets had fully and distinctly foreshown He must be, despised and rejected of men. This postponed in divine wisdom, though it could not frustrate, the purpose of God. Rather did it make room for a new and higher display of what was hidden in God from ages and generations, and now made known in the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. However this be, the disciples in their outburst of praise (now that the Lord was rejected and with Him meanwhile peace for the earth gone, and division and a sword the consequence of the struggle between light and darkness) do nevertheless anticipate “peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” If the former proclaimed the general purpose of God, the latter the ways of God when the enemy might seem on the point of triumphing. If earth disown and cast out the Savior, if the Jews refuse the Messiah because He is incomparably more than the Son of David and come to bring about incomparably deeper and larger purposes, it is but for a season a transfer of the seat of blessing to heaven for the brightest and fullest accomplishment of all God's will and mind. The kingdom itself became manifestly of heaven thereby, and the exaltation of the rejected Lord is to sit down meanwhile on the right hand of the Majesty on high, Satan being utterly defeated by man in the person of the woman's Seed on the throne of the highest, and the kingdom over the earth will follow the moment that it pleases the Father, who is meanwhile forming a people united to Christ His Son, His body, His bride, to be with Him where He is at His coming. Peace is in heaven, because He was going there victoriously, having made peace by the blood of the cross, Himself our peace now whether we have been Jews or Greeks.
If Pharisees, insensible to His glory, complained of the praises of the disciples, the Lord could not but tell them that they were more obdurate than the stones beneath and around them.
Observe further that instead of the dispensational lesson of the fig tree cursed as in Matthew, and in Mark with yet minuter details for instruction in service, we have the grace of the Lord in His weeping over the guilty and doomed city. “And when he drew near, on seeing the city, he wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things for thy peace: but now they are hid from thine eyes. For days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall make a rampart about thee and compass thee round and keep thee in on every side, and level thee with the ground and thy children in thee, and not leave in thee stone upon stone; because thou knewest not the season of thy visitation.” (Ver. 41-44.) Every word of the warning was punctually fulfilled in the siege of Titus; but what grace shone out of that heart surcharged with grief for the people so blindly to their own ruin refusing Himself who wept over them in a love thus truly divine and perfectly human!
It was Matthew's office to bring out the woes He solemnly pronounced over the holy city now so unholy, not their civil destruction but rather the sanctuary once His Father's house, now their house left to them desolate, yet not hopelessly. “For” as He said then, “ye shall not see me till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah.” All that is left out in this part of our Gospel, and the more remarkably, as we find the cleansing of the temple afterward. “And entering into the temple he began to cast out those that sold, saying to them, It is written, And my house shall be a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of robbers.” (Ver. 45, 46.) Without agreeing with Jerome, who saw in the act of our Lord the greatest miracle He ever wrought, one may note profitably how, even at such a moment when irresistible energy accompanied His indignant rebuke of their profanity and cast such unworthy traffic outside the sacred precincts, He employs as ever the written word as His ground and warrant.
In harmony with this we read that “he was teaching by day in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, and did not find what they could do, for all the people hung on him while hearing.” (Ver. 47, 48.) The word of God from His lips especially told on the consciences of men. The religious leaders, having long rejected Him, not only lost all right feeling but were given up to a murderous hatred soon to be satisfied. Such ever proves the world when confronted with the light of God; and withal the perfect love of God in Christ only provoked it the more.

Notes on Romans 11:25-26

The apostle had reasoned against the notion that God had cast away His people; first, from the remnant according to the election of grace, of whom he was himself a sample; and next, from God's revealed object in calling Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy, which brought in the beautiful and instructive episode of their own olive tree, still pointing in a similar direction; but now we come to a ground more definite and conclusive. The word of God has given express testimony to His purpose of recalling Israel in sovereign mercy after and spite of all their sins, giving them in the latter thorough repentance and turning their heart toward their Messiah so long rejected.
“For I do not wish you, brethren, to be ignorant of this mystery, in order that ye be not wise in your own conceits, that hardness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles shall have come in; and so all Israel shall be saved, even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is the covenant on my part to them when I shall have taken away their sins.” (Ver. 25-27.) If the apostle used the Septuagint Version of two passages in Isaiah (chaps, 59: 20, 27: 9; compare also Jer. 31), in the Greek text as it now stands the phrase is neither “to” Zion, as in the Hebrew, nor “oat of” Zion as in the epistle, but ἕνεκεν (“for the sake of"), save in two copies referred to by Holmes and Parsons in their great edition of the LXX, one of which is certainly a correction, the other probably so. That Origen, Chrysostom, and Theodoret cite according to the New Testament decides nothing against the common text of the Seventy. And this is confirmed by the plain fact that Origen, who had quoted the prophet when interpreting Psa. 14 according to the apostle's form of citation, gives in his Hexapla the text of the LXX. just as it now stands, while we see Aquila and Symmachus adhering precisely to the Hebrew. It is evident to me that the last verses of Psa. 16, 52 fully and literally justify the apostle, who was directed by the Holy Spirit to use the Old Testament in such a way as looks lax to the hasty, careless, or unbelieving, too disposed to regard an inspired man as like themselves, but really with the most comprehensive wisdom and the nicest exactitude, so as to convey the mind of God as contained in His word, not in one text only but out of many interwoven into one. The Deliverer will come to Zion, out of which He will subsequently send the rod of His power for the full deliverance of His people, in the day that He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob and place him forever under the new covenant.
Thus if the hardening of Israel (though, we may bless God, only in part) was then true and still goes on, long before announced, the same prophet and, we may add, the rest of the prophets anticipate the bright day for the earth when all Israel, as such, shall be saved. The πλήρωμα, fullness or full complement of the Gentiles, who now believe, will have come in; and so the long guilty, long chastened, people of Jehovah will turn to the Lord and own Him in the crucified Nazarene, their Lord and their God; even as Thomas who in this represents them, seeing Him and believing.
There is no comment in the New Testament more important for determining the just meaning of Old Testament prophecy. The allegorical school of ancients from Origen down to the moderns of our own day are in this far from the truth of God. Indeed it is as a system mere trifling and its root unbelief, as its dogmatic effect is to shake confidence in the plain written word, and its practical result is not only to deprive the ancient people of God of their hope, but to lower and obscure our own by substituting the earthly position of Israel (confused and spoiled by a so-called spiritualism) for separation to and union with Christ in heaven, the true place of the Christian and of the church. It will astonish some of my readers to learn that Origen, undoubtedly one of the ablest and most learned of the early Greek fathers, speaks of Zion as representing the Father in this very connection! Others may be more sober; but they understood the truth no better than he, if they did not commit themselves to such wild flights of fancy. If some might have hoped better things of Theodoret, like Chrysostom, I am forced to prove how precarious is the teaching which, after saying truly that the Jews will believe, on the conclusion of the work spoken of among the Gentiles, tells us that “all Israel” means those who believe whether of Jews or of Gentiles. Even this meager expectation of blessing at the end for Israel is boldly denied by Jerome (Comm. Esai. 11.), who will have all to be understood of the first advent!
Nor did the reformers clear themselves from the ignorance and prejudice of the fathers, partly through their dread of Anabaptist violence and fanaticism in their dreams of a fifth kingdom, dreams which after all are far more akin to the theories of Rome and the fathers than to the holy and heavenly hopes given in the written word. For it will be observed that such visionaries look for a Zion of their own on earth, just as in a modified sense their adversaries interpret the prophets of the church. All were at fault, though in different directions; so must all be who do not see the church's portion to be a heavenly one with Christ at His coming, who will restore His people to the enjoyment of every promised blessing and glory on the earth, the nations being then only blessed as a whole though subordinately. But the risen saints will reign with Christ over the earth. We are blessed in heavenly places in Him.
Hence we can understand the vacillation of Luther. But Calvin was always wrong, as an instance of which may suffice his interpretation of this place where he makes “all Israel” to mean the whole of those saved, the Jews having only the superior place as the firstborn.
Much more correctly have Beza on the Protestant side, and Estius on the Catholic expounded the verse and shown the opposition of πᾶς Ίσραήλ in the future hardening ἀπὸ μέρους, which strictly means “in part,” not a mere qualifying of a severe declaration, “until” also specifying the point of time at which the great change takes place. To say with Calvin that “until” (ἄχρις οὖ) does not mark this but only equivalent to “that” shows the strong prejudice of a good man whose knowledge of the language was imperfect and who missed to a great extent the point of the chapter before him, through that wisdom in one's own conceit against which the apostle is warning the Gentiles. That “the fullness of the Gentiles” cannot mean the general conversion of the world to Christ, is perfectly certain if it were only from the previous reasoning of the apostle in the central portion of the chapter, where he asks if the slips of the Jews were the world's riches, how much more their fullness? and shows how he was provoking them to jealousy to save some; for if their rejection be the world's reconciling, what their reception but life from among the dead? And this, as already shown, harmonizes with the constant testimony of the Law, and the Psalms, and the Prophets, which invariably make the blessing of Israel as a creation the condition and under God the means of the blessing of all the earth—a new state of things, not the gospel or the church as now known, both of which are inconsistent with it, but the kingdom in its manifestation of glory when in the broadest sense all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Here the commentators are, I must say, painfully defective. The effort of some ancients, and of moderns like Grotius and Hammond, to find the accomplishment in the apostolic times is of all schemes the grossest absurdity, and the most directly opposed to the text commented on.
It may be added that, though Dean Alford took the term Israel in its proper sense, he like the rest spoils much of the force of the truth by winding up with the assertion that the matter here treated is their reception into the church of God. Not so. The question of the olive tree stands wholly distinct from the church, though no doubt there are branches now in the olive tree since Pentecost which are also members of Christ's body, the assembly of God. But the olive tree is another idea altogether and embraces the dealings of God on the footing of promise since Abraham through Israel of old, the Gentile profession now, and Israel again in the millennial age, not believers only but responsibility according to the privileges given, with judgment executed on the faithless Jewish branches of the tree to let in the Gentiles, as it will be executed on the disobedient Gentiles when God will give repentance to Israel and remission of sins at the appearing of Christ and His kingdom.
Hence the apostle goes on to affirm what is wholly different from the gospel and church state. “According to the gospel, [they are] enemies on your account; but according to the election, beloved on account of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God [are] irrevocable.” (Ver. 28, 29.) The meaning is that, after the Jews proved their hostility to the gospel instead of being saved by it, which God turns, as we have seen, to His gracious call of the Gentiles meanwhile, election love will still prove faithful in the latter day to the sons for the sake of the fathers. This is not. the principle on which souls are blessed now whether from Gentiles or from Jews. There is no difference. All are alike guilty and lost through their sins; all alike forgiven and saved through faith. But after the actual unbelief of the Jews, sovereign mercy will interpose at the end of the age. For the gifts and the calling of God admit of no regret on His part. He may repent of creation (Gen. 6), never of what grace gave in promise to Abraham and to his seed, never of His call which was first illustrated publicly in the father of the faithful. According to that “election” He will yet break their stony heart and put a new spirit within them.
“For as ye were once disobedient to God but now have become objects of mercy through their disobedience, so have they also now become disobedient to the mercy shown to you, in order that they also may become objects of mercy. For God shut up together all in disobedience in order that he might show mercy to all.” (Verses 30-32.)
Wiclif, Tyndale, and Cranmer, with the Vulgate, the Peschito and the Philoxenian Syriac, the Arabic, are here more correct than the Geneva Version, Beza, and the Authorized. Calvin seems nearer to the truth, but has not quite hit the mark. “That they became unbelievers through the mercy shown to the Gentiles” is indeed somewhat harsh; nor is there any need of his explanation for clearing up a difficulty created by his own mistake. The Jews rebelled against the mercy shown to the Gentiles as we learn from the Acts, 1 Thess. 2, &c, and as experience shows in fact to this day.
There appears to my mind not only an absence of any just sense in the modern view but positive error at issue with the chapter, the context, and scripture in general. With the chapter it clashes, because the previous argument treats the restoration of the Jews as life from the dead to the world, not the fullness of the Gentiles the means of their restoration; with the context, because the express point is to crush all conceit from both Jew and Gentile, and especially from the Gentile as now enjoying light whilst the Jew knows a dark and cold eclipse; with scripture at large, because nowhere is the mercy shown to the Gentiles hinted at as the (or a) means of Israel's recovery. No doctrine can be conceived more foreign to the Bible than that it is by the instrumentality of believing Gentiles that Israel as a nation shall at length look to Christ and so obtain mercy. As the Gentiles were warned that they must be cut off if they continued not in God's goodness (and none but the most unspiritual, not to say hardened, can affirm that they have so continued), the sentence is excision, not the honor of bringing Israel into the faith. No doubt the believing Gentiles will be translated to higher blessedness, as the believing Jews were when the faithless Jews were cut off. Thus the prime object is to extinguish all self-confidence and boasting. As mercy alone accounted for bringing in the Gentiles on Israel's rebellion against God, so the Jews when grafted into their own olive tree will feel that nothing but mercy could have done it or explain it, somewhat in unison of spirit with the apostle of the circumcision when at the council of Jerusalem he uttered the memorable words, so worthy of the occasion, “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they” (the Gentiles), not they, even as we (the Jews).
Thus they were all sinners; and the dealings of God in holiness and love and truth only brought out the stubborn insubjection of both Jew and Gentile, on the one hand, and the incomparable mercy of God, on the other: man's claims, righteousness, privileges, all ending in unbelief and rebellion, but God never more truly shining as God than in His mercy enduring forever.
Can one wonder that the large and fervent heart of the apostle, animated and filled yet guarded by the inspiring Spirit, breaks forth in an outburst of praise as he looks back on the grace and ways of God in Christ? “O depth of God's riches and wisdom and knowledge: how unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways? For who hath known Jehovah's mind? or who became his counselor? or who first gave to him and it shall be repaid to him? Because of him and through him and to him [are] all things: to him the glory unto the ages. Amen.” (Ver. 33-36.) He is the source, means, and end of all He has counseled, accomplished, or purposes still to effect for His own glory.
The appropriateness of the doxology to the epistle is not only remarkable in itself but exactly in place where it stands. Indeed it is not alone; for, as we have a very brief one in the first chapter, we have another very notable in the last. Here it is the admiration of his soul as he looks back on the triumphs of divine mercy—the last thing of which man would think in discussing the dispensations of God. Yet to the spiritual mind subject to the written word and confiding in the known characters of God as He has revealed Himself in Christ, such is the bright and blessed and adoring conclusion. The depth of His wealth, wisdom and knowledge is to be seen, felt, proved, but unfathomable; His decisions beyond scrutiny, His ways not to be traced out, yet all open to our learning of Him with ever swelling praise. For who knew Jehovah's mind? or who became His counselor? Yet has not the apostle touched on other and heavenly purposes for the glory of Christ in the church, of which he speaks to the Ephesian saints in due season. Here he had only been given to develop the righteousness of God in the face of man's unrighteousness, known from the beginning and revealed all along, and the methods by which God humbles the pride of each and gives the fullest scope to His mercy, causing evil itself to set forth good with the utmost luster. Who then has given to God and made Him debtor to repay? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things: to Him be the glory forever. The gospel is His, the righteousness His, the grace His, and so is the glory. To Him then with the apostle our hearts join in ascribing the display of perfect excellency without end.

Brief Thoughts on Philippians 3

In this chapter we get the energy that carries the Christian on through the wilderness in view of the glory. It does not give us the meekness and gentleness of Christ like chapter 2, but the energy that counts all but dross and dung to win Him. Doctrine is not the point in this epistle. Salvation is always looked on as at the end of the journey. The Christian is viewed as in a race, and in that race he is entirely under the power of the Spirit of God; the flesh is not looked at as acting. Christ is before us; the thing we are predestinated to is to be conformed to His image. There is no thought now, inasmuch as there is a man in the glory, of any place or object for the Christian but to be with and like that man in the glory. As Christ was taken up as man into glory, we shall be taken up the same way to be like Him. The thought of the believer can never rest short of that. Paul says that he wants not to be unclothed, but clothed upon. “To depart and be with Christ” is blessed, but it is still waiting. The apostle here says that he will “change our vile bodies.” The cross having come in, it has given us the death of the old man, and the reception of Christ as head of the new family in glory; we look off from everything to this. The hope that is in Christ is that when He appears we shall be like Him. The hope we have is to be like Himself, with Himself surely, but like Himself: nothing short of this is the object of the believer. He would grow undoubtedly, but still it is growth by looking at an object we shall never attain to till we are raised from the dead in His image or changed into it.
There is no mending of the flesh, no sanctification of nature, no forming of man as he is—there is death. The old man has been entirely and finally judged, but Another is now in the glory as man. This we could not have as all object of faith until Christ was risen. God has “provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” — “perfect,” that is, in glory. That could not be, nor was there any title for it, till the work upon the cross; there was the title and groundwork for all this. There was no connection with Christ as man among the children of Adam; He was a true man, but union there was none whatever. He was one of them, but He was alone. He was a man without sin; we were men with sin: you can never unite the two, for they “are contrary the one to the other.” He could come in grace as a true man amongst us, but He abode alone. In Heb. 2 four reasons are given why Christ took flesh and blood: first, to make atonement; second, for God's glory and counsels; third, to destroy him that had the power of death; fourth, that He should go through every sorrow, and so have sympathy with us. There was perfect grace in Him, but He was alone. People speak of Him as “bone of our bone,” but this is totally false; we are bone of His bone now that He is on high. Wherever you find the thought of Christ being bone of our bone, you get redemption and atonement made unnecessary, or at any rate muddled up. “When atonement has been wrought, then by the Holy Ghost He unites us to Himself, and says we are “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”
Thus we learn that the only thing by which the flesh can be dealt with is death. Until atonement was made God could not deal with sinners in the way of righteousness; He could forbear— “For the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God.” The difference with us is that righteousness is there before Him, and we are in it. Our souls stand in divine righteousness in the presence of God.
The apostle does not talk of sin in the flesh here. The flesh has its religion as well as its lusts, and this is much more attractive than worshipping God in the spirit, the flesh cannot do this. “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh,” such is the flesh's religion. Paul was the most positive enemy of God all the while. Suppose this blamelessness of Paul— to whose credit was it? Paul's. Wherever religion is a credit to us, it is not worth anything; worse than that, it deceives us. You may have all the truths which do not test faith, and yet be without this. The time will come when whosoever “killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” They thought they were doing God service, but they would not hear of the truth that tested faith—the Father revealed in the Son.
Thus the whole system of the religion of the flesh is set aside here. It is always the truth that tests faith. Suppose I fast twice in the week, and give tithes of all I possess, to whose credit is this? Mine. The moment I get the cross the flesh is judged, and that is no credit to me. The thing that tests faith flesh resists. The disciples would not hear of the Lord's death because it tested their faith. Peter, the very man that owned what He is going to build the church on, says, “That be far from thee,” and the Lord has to call him “Satan.” Although he had got a truth, he had not the flesh judged up to the measure of what he knew; he would not have a truth that breaks through the flesh in a way he does not like.
“That I may win Christ— “this is the great principle of the whole chapter, and you get perseverance in it, which is more. Suppose a man just saved, what does he think about the world? That it has deceived him. Leave him for a while, and his family twine round him, and soon he begins to seek the things of the world. Paul saw Christ on the way to Damascus, and he gives up his importance, his Pharisaism, his teaching, everything else, and he counts all but loss that he may win Him. “And do count them but dung that I may win Christ;” not “did count” such would be comparatively easy. The value of Christ must be fresh enough in the soul, as a present thing, to enable one to count all the rest mere dross and dung. Everybody is governed by the object he is pursuing, and what is more everybody judges of others by the thing he is pursuing himself. One man makes money his object, another pleasure. The man who loves money says, “Oh! what a fool that man is to spend so much on his pleasure,” and the man who loves pleasure says, “What a fool that man is to hoard up his money, it is no better to him than so much clay!”
The moment I want to win Christ, all besides is dross and dung. “You have only to lay aside every weight.” Paul could say, with Christ as his object: only to lay aside is easily said, but the moment it becomes a weight it is easy. When I say “I must get Christ,” death may be on the road, but never mind so that I get Him. The desire is not weakened by the eye being dimmed by present things. Paul goes on. There we get testing. He went on looking at Christ. He had found Christ the satisfaction of his soul, and he did not hunger, he did not thirst, as the Lord says, for anything else. People talk of sacrifices; but there is no great sacrifice in giving up dung. If the eye were so fixed on Christ that these things got that character, it would not be a trouble to give them up. The thing gets its character from what the heart is set on. The moment the heart is set on Christ, all the rest becomes dross. The man with one object is the energetic man. The Christian's one object is Christ— the object God has and the object the Spirit gives to the heart of the Christian. We have not only to say that Christ is the one sole object of the heart; there are distractions. We allow other things to come in, the eye is not single.
Paul however would “be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness.....but the righteousness which is of God by faith.” The apostle was still looking forward as he is always doing in this epistle. Here he speaks of righteousness in contrast (not to his sins, but) to his righteousness. A poor man may not part with his old coat; but if you give him a new one instead, he will soon have done with it. The moment the soul has the eye fixed on the Lord Jesus all his righteousness becomes filthy rags, and the heart revolts from mixing it up with Him. When the Spirit is come, He will convince the “world of sin, because they believe not on me.” The world's sin was proved by not believing on Jesus; all are under sin together. The one single righteous person was turned out of the world: where will you find righteousness now? At the right hand of God. The world will never see Him again except in judgment. Satan was never called “the prince of this world” till Christ came, till the cross. When He comes, Satan raises the whole world against Him. “There is the prince of this world,” the Lord says. He was ruler before, but in the cross Satan was proved the prince of this world.
Again, we hear of “the righteousness which is of God by faith;” not now righteousness of man for God, but of God for man. “Being made conformable unto his death.” In a world where Christ had been rejected, the object of all my hopes is at the right hand of God. I have got a life completely paramount over death. The resurrection of Christ was past sin, past Satan's power, past judgment, past death. The Second man had gone into death—was made sin; but He is risen, and all that is past. God has been glorified, and death belongs to us now as we belonged to it in the first man. We have got this divine life which is above everything in this world. If I know Him, I want to know the power of His resurrection that left everything behind. What comes next? “The fellowship of his sufferings. “Being made conformable unto his death;” all was gain to Paul. Do not we see the blessedness of being a martyr?
“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead;” death might be on the road, but death would be positive gain because one would be like Christ. Christ risen becomes power in me, going through the same scene as He did. The apostle was a man of like passions with, us, but he was single-eyed. Here he gives us not only the Christ he was going to win, but something he was going to win for himself— “the resurrection from the dead.” In Mark 9:9, 10, we read of “the rising from the dead'' about which the disciples questioned; every Pharisee, every orthodox Jew, believed in the “resurrection of the dead.” What did the resurrection of Christ mean? It was God's seal on everything He was, and everything He had done during His life here. He took Him out from among all the other dead. If He takes people out from among the rest of the dead because He delights in them, that is the seal of their acceptance. Paul says, “No matter what it costs me, I will attain to that.” What condition is the saint raised in? “Sown in weakness, raised in power; sown in dishonor, raised in glory.” “Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.” As God put His perfect seal on Christ and Christ's work, and raised Him, so when He raises us up, He puts His seal on us: only it is because of His righteousness, not our own. The apostle was apprehended of Christ Jesus, but he had not got it yet. “What I am looking for is to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold for me.” When we attain to that, we get Christ Himself and being like Christ; we could not get that down here.
Perfection as to the state of the Christian means perfect conformity to the image of Christ in glory.
Three classes are spoken of here, the “perfect,” those “otherwise minded,” and those who are the enemies of the cross of Christ. The perfect are those who have entered by the power of the Spirit of Christ into this thought of being perfectly like Him. Many a Christian knows only the forgiveness of sins; he has not got the thing that is before him, but the thing that is behind him. The thought of having Christ in glory and being like Him, governed Paul completely; but, like a man going through a strait passage with a lamp at the other end of it, he got more of the light as he went on, though as yet he had not attained. Every step the Christian takes he has got more of the light, “Beholding......we are changed into the same image,” though in a certain sense we have none of it. One has not merely seen redemption that has given him the object, but he is running after the object. He has got what Christianity gives—got all of it, and that, in a certain sense, is perfection. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling (calling above) of God in Christ Jesus.” Till we are above, we have not got the calling—the effect of it, I mean. It cost Paul suffering, it cost him difficulty, but it filled his heart with joy—filled it with Christ.
You know persons who have found they are poor sinners, who see their sins are forgiven, but they do not see farther; they are “otherwise minded,” but God will reveal this to them; wait a while, have patience. “But many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ” —those who call themselves Christians and love the world. Men who mind earthly things are the enemies of the cross of Christ. The cross and the glory go together, not at the same time of course, but the one depends on the other. The cross of Christ toward this world is saying, “The world seeth me no more.” The cross is perfect security for heaven, but entire judgment of this world. Paul's heart having followed Christ up there, his object, his heart, is there. “One thing I do” —that is the Christian. You may be in various circumstances, you may be a carpenter as Christ was; but the Christian's “conversation is in heaven.” What is he waiting for? For Christ to come and take him to Himself. His heart is fixed on Christ's person. He has won him at the cross, and He has carried him into heaven with Him. I am changed into the same glory as Christ, while it is acting on my soul that I am to be like Him; it governs the heart all the way. The righteousness of the law was the righteousness of man, the law was the measure of man's righteousness. Christ Himself is our righteousness. I have got life from God and righteousness: both are Christ. The power that raised Christ from the dead the Spirit will exercise to raise or change our bodies. These are God's thoughts about us. What am I going to get? Christ, and to be like Christ; then do you run after Him. Can we say we are doing that?
I distrust the moral condition of the man that thinks much of crimes. The thief went into paradise to be with Christ, the moral man went out.
Can we say “this one thing I do"? I have but one thing, and I am pushing on. If you wanted a person to get to London, whether would you rather meet him four miles from London with his back to it, or four miles from Holyhead with his face to London? Even a babe may have his face turned to Christ. Are you going God's way? Can we honestly say, with glory before us, with Christ before us, “One thing I do"? Which way does your eye turn? Which way are you going? God has only one way—Christ.
There is the constant solicitation of distractions on the road: quite true, everything round us is a temptation. When the people came to Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, of what was it the occasion to Him? Of perfect obedience. Of what to Peter? Of temptation.
What one looks for in the Christian is a single eye.
One of the comforts of heaven will be that there I shall not want my conscience; I want it every moment now; I cannot let my heart out now.
The Lord give us in all liberty of heart so to see Him before us that we may run bard after Him, having our hearts kept by the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 3

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
(Continued from page 32.)
It is curious to see how an intrepid and strong-minded writer, such as Bishop Horsley unquestionably was, commits himself to untenable statements, once he leaves the lines of the Holy Spirit in scripture. “The apostle's assertion therefore” (says he) “is this that Christ went and preached to souls of men in prison. This invisible mansion of departed spirits, though certainly not a place of penal confinement to the good, is nevertheless in some respects a prison. It is a place of seclusion from the external-a place of unfinished happiness, consisting in rest, security, and hope, more than enjoyment. It is a place which the souls of men never would have entered, had not sin introduced death, and from which there is no exit by any natural means for those who once have entered. The deliverance of the saints from it is to be effected by our Lord's power. It is described in the old Latin language as a place enclosed within an impassable fence; and in the poetical parts of scripture it is represented as secured by gates of brass, which our Lord is to batter down, and barricaded with huge massive iron bars, which He is to cut in sunder. As a place of confinement therefore, though not of punishment, it may well be called a prison. The original word, however, in this text of the apostle imports not of necessity so much as this, but merely a place of safe keeping; for so this passage might be rendered with great exactness. 'He went and preached to the spirits in safe keeping.' And the invisible mansion of departed souls is to the righteous a place of safe keeping where they are preserved under the shadow of God's right hand, as their condition sometimes is described in scripture, till the season shall arrive for their advancement to their future glory; as the souls of the wicked, on the other hand, are reserved, in the other division of the same place, unto the judgment of the great day. Now, if Christ went and preached to souls of men thus in prison or in safe keeping, surely He went to the prison of those souls, or to the place of their custody; and what place that should be but the hell of the Apostle's Creed to which our Lord descended, I have not yet met with the critic that could explain.”
The careful reader will perceive, indeed any one when it is pointed out, the immediate departure from scriptural sense and accuracy. For the apostle does not assert “that Christ went and preached to souls of men in prison.” He speaks not of human souls generally but only of those characterized by disobedience of yore, when Noah the preacher of righteousness prepared an ark to the saving of his house. This makes all the difference possible; for there is no reference whatever to the invisible mansion of departed spirits as a whole, still less to the special place of seclusion for the good. These last are in fact excluded by the language and the thought of the apostle. His argument is against those who, as incredulous Jews were especially apt to do, made light of preaching Christ only present in Spirit, not reigning in power, and of the comparative fewness of those who professed to believe. His refutation of their taunts and proof of their extreme danger are grounded on the Lord's dealing with the men of Noah's day who similarly despised the divine warning, while those only were saved who heeded it. How few the latter, how many the former!
It is true indeed that “it is a place which the souls of men never would have entered, had not sin been introduced;” but what is this to the purpose? It applies on the side of good as of evil, of heaven as of hell; for sin, which lost living on the earth along with innocence furnished occasion for that infinite grace which gives the believer eternal life and heavenly glory in and with the Son of God, the last Adam. And if the actual condition of the departed be as regards the body incomplete, even so it is not correct to speak of our being at home with the Lord as “a place of unfinished happiness,” though the Lord Himself, the saints with Him, and those on earth are looking onward to the day of His and their manifested glory when the world shall know that the Father sent the Son, and loved us even as He loved Him; when He will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and are on earth, in Him in whom also we have obtained inheritance, being predestinated according to His purpose; when in virtue of the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of beings heavenly, earthly, and infernal, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to God the Father's glory.
Nowhere does scripture speak of “the deliverance of the saints from” this state of things, though surely it is of the Lord's grace and the divine virtue of life in Him, that He will raise their bodies and transform what was erst of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of power whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. This no doubt is the full answer to the cry of the wretched though quickened man (in Rom. 7): “who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?” For it is our resurrection (Rom. 8:11) which will manifest the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is His resurrection which has even now given us life in the Spirit, freeing us from the law of sin and death. “We have for our souls what we shall know at His coming for our mortal bodies. But deliverance from a place of seclusion for our spirits, to be effected by our Lord's power, is a dream wholly opposed to the scriptural representation of the saints' enjoyment with Christ meanwhile. The apostle declares that to depart and be with Him even now and thus is very much better than remaining here, though doubtless there will be more for the body when He comes: for the soul there cannot be. Therefore, while earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, he says that we are confident and willing rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord; that is, rather than abide here in the body absent from the Lord. Yet are we now, not shut up as were believers before redemption, but called to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.
Hence it is in vain to urge what the old Latin language describes, since it is quite opposed to the truth; and it is a mistake to cite the poetical parts of scripture which treat of the deliverance of God's people on earth. For “the gates of brass” and “the bars of iron” (Isa. 14:2) certainly refer to Babylon not to the presence of the Lord with whom are the spirits of departed saints. So Psa. 121:5, “Jehovah is thy shade upon thy right hand,” is expressly a prophetic song for Israel in the latter day, and in no way about those deceased; as Isa. 49:2 certainly has no such reference, the context plainly giving the transition from Israel to Christ. It is a distressing misrepresentation then to call His presence a place of confinement, though not of punishment, which “may well be called a prison.” Never does God's word so call it. The converted robber asked to be remembered when Christ comes in His kingdom (i.e. in the resurrection state and the day of glory for the earth), and the Lord gives him, as a nearer comfort and intrinsically the deepest joy, the assurance of being with Him that very day in paradise. It is grievous dishonor to Him and ignorance of scripture to slight such grace, even to the length of saying that it “may well be called a prison.” Certainly it will never be so called by one who appreciates either the blessedness of Christ's love or the honor the Father is now putting on the Son. The Father's house can only be called “a prison” by the darkest prejudice. It is where Christ is now, and where we shall be when Christ at His coming takes us to be with Him as the expression of His fullest love. The presence of the Lord on high is the very kernel of joy by grace, whether for the separate spirit after death or when we are all changed at His coming.
Feeling apparently that this is rather strong language (though many of the fathers knew no better through their ignorance of eternal life in Christ and of redemption), Bishop Horsley qualifies his defense, and affirms that the original word in the text of the apostle imports not so much as this, but merely a place of safe keeping. Now what are the facts of the usage of φυλακή? Primarily it means the act of watching; hence (2) the persons that watch or guard (as in Latin and English); (3) the time; the place, not only (4) where those watching are posted, but (5) where others are kept as in ward or prison. Such, with the moral application of taking heed and being on one's guard from keeping in ward, are the chief senses in which the word was employed by the Greeks. The New Testament has it once in the first sense (Luke 2:8), once in the second (Acts 12:10), five times in the third (Matt. 14:25; 24:43, Mark 6:48, Luke 2:8 twice), and forty times in the fifth sense, including not only 1 Peter 3:19, but Rev. 18:2, where it is in the Authorized Version translated “the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird,” all evidently equivalent to the meaning of “prison,” which is used even of Satan's place of temporary detention. Never elsewhere does the Holy Spirit use it in the more general signification of a mere “place of safe keeping.” Is there any special reason in our text why it should here be so rendered? The assigned ground of custody being the former disobedience of the spirits thus restrained, there ought to be no hesitation in accepting the English Version as fully justified, and rejecting that suggested as unexampled in New Testament usage and at issue with the context.
It is going beyond scripture then to affirm that “Christ went and preached to souls of men thus in prison or safe keeping,” and not at all sure that He went to the prison of those souls or to the place of their custody. It is quite sure that the apostle speaks only of the spirits in prison, disobedient once when the long-suffering of God waited in Noah's days, not to souls of men as a whole in the separate state. It is sure that Christ, in the power of the Spirit, went and preached to the former, but it is nowhere written that He went to the prison or place of custody of any souls whatever and preached there. The building and the ground-work of Bishop Horsley are alike unsubstantial; his handling of scripture careless, and his reasoning unsound. Such passages as Isa. 13:7; 49:9, have only to be examined with ordinary attention in order to satisfy any candid mind that it is a question of the deliverance of captives in this world, be it literal or figurative, and in no way of men after death.
If, as Bishop Browne holds, hades or paradise are two names applying to the same state, it would seem to follow that paradise must apply to the place of departed saints, and hades to their state as separate from the body. For 2 Cor. 12:2, 4, naturally connects paradise, not with heaven merely, but even with the third heaven, where the Lord is (cf. Luke 23:43); and Rev. 2:7 is decisive, that in this very paradise of God will the faithful have their future reward at Christ's coming, when risen from the dead or changed. It is an error therefore to think that it is another place, for the latter scripture certainly identifies the scene of the separate spirits of the saints with that of their future glorification. They are with the Lord now, as they will be when changed, and thus completely and forever with Him; but now as then in heaven. The ancients who denied this were as wrong as the moderns who popularly hold the soul's passing at once on its final reward with very little thought of the resurrection at Christ's second coming or of the kingdom.
But I may here add that the ancient versions are too loose to render any help worth naming. Without discussing now whether the Peschito does (as Bode and others assert) or does not use scheiul for the grave as well as hades, it is plain that “lived” in spirit is faulty for ζωοποιηθεις, and that to leave out “in [or in the power of] which,” substituting a mere connective particle “and” is far from the truth. “To the souls which were kept” may after a fashion represent τοῖς ἐν φ. πν., the addition of “in hades” or “scheiul” being unwarranted. There are other inaccuracies; but let this suffice. Par better here is the Philoxenian Syriac, which is thus rendered by White, “morte affectus quidem carne, vivificatus autem spiritu. In quo et spiritibus, qui in domo custodiae sunt, profectus praedicavit: Qui non obediverant aliquando, quum expectabat longanimitas Dei in diebus Noe” &c. The Arabic (Pol.) and the Vulgate alone give correctly the beginning of the verse, the Erpenian Arabic and the Aethiopic being as loose as the Peschito Syr. The Aeth. adds “holy” to “Spirit;” but it does not follow, as Bishop Middleton seems to think, that the other ancient versions did not understand exactly the same sense, though they very properly did not add the word “holy” so as to define their rendering more than the original text. The Coptic, according to Wilkins, is no better than the rest. This is his version— “mortuus quidem in carne, vivens autem in Spiritu. In hoc Spiritibus [S. sic] qui in carcere abut evangelizavit. Incredulis aliquando,” &c.
In every version and in every edition of the text, accurate or faulty, this at least stands out irrefragably that the spirits in question are nowhere represented as those of men who had already repented when on earth, but on the contrary as disobedient. This we have seen to be very far from the only difficulty in the way of the alleged preaching in hades; but it is at least felt and confessed by the stoutest champions of that interpretation. It is quite erroneous to assume that Peter speaks here of the proclamation of the finishing of the great work of salvation, still more to say that it was addressed to the penitents of antediluvian times, even if there were no question about the penitents of later ages who are equally interested in the tidings. The apostle uses not even εὐαγγελίζομαι (which, though expressive of glad tidings, admits of far greater latitude in scripture than the good news of the finished work of salvation) but κηρύσσω, a word equally applicable to express a public setting forth of righteousness and a warning of the destruction which must fall on the despiser. (Compare 2 Peter 2:5, “Noah a preacher of righteousness,” δικαιοσύνης κήρυκα.") The main difficulty then really is that the text speaks only of impenitent persons; the expounder only of penitents.
Whatever the rapture with which we may suppose paradise filled when the soul of Jesus came among the souls of His redeemed, it is certain that the passage of the apostle says not one word about it; and it would be no small difficulty to produce any other scripture which does reveal it. Here it is a question of the spirits in custody for their former disobedience in the days of Noah, while a very few in contrast with them were saved, used for the present comfort of saints taunted with their paucity by the masses who despised what was preached by the Spirit now as before the flood. Possibly no doubt some who then perished in the waters may not be doomed to perish everlastingly in the lake of fire; just as one at least preserved in the ark may not have been ordained to eternal life. But all this is only profitless speculation; and those who indulge in it lose sight of the grand and plain lessons of the apostle, whether for the comfort of the faithful or for the warning of unbelievers. Before the kingdom of God is established and displayed in power, the masses have ever been disobedient to the word, and believers a little flock; but be these ever so few, let those not forget the days wherein a world of impious men perished; and this too is not the worst, for their spirits are in ward (which is never said of the righteous), the Lord without doubt reserving them as unjust for judgment day to be punished.
(To be continued.)


Printed by George Morrish, 24, Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row, E.C

New Translation Psalms 42-44

1 To the chief musician; Maschil, to the sons of Korah.
2 As the hart longeth after the brooks of water, so my soul longeth after thee, Ο God.
3 My soul hath thirsted for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
4 My tears have been food to me by day and by night, whilst they say unto me all the day, Where [is] thy God?
5 These things do I remember, and I pour out my soul within me; when I pass through the crowd, I go softly with them unto the house of God with the voice of singing and praise, a multitude keeping a feast.
6 Why art thou cast down, [O] my soul, and hast been disquieted within me? Wait thou for God, for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance.
7 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan and the Hermonites, from the mountain Mizar.
8 Deep is calling unto deep at the voice of thy waterfalls; all thy waves and thy billows have passed over me.
9 By day Jehovah commandeth his mercy, and by night his song [is] with me, supplication to the God of my life.
10 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
11 With a sword in my bones mine oppressors have reproached me, when they say all the day unto me, Where is thy God?
12 Why art thou cast down, [O] my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Wait thou for God, for I shall yet praise him, the help of my countenance and my God.

The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 43

Book Second
Chap. 43.
1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause with an ungodly nation; from a man of deceit and iniquity do thou deliver me.
2 For thou [art] the God of my refuge: why hast thou cast me off? why do I walk mourning under the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send thou thy light and thy truth: they shall lead me, they shall bring me unto the mountain of thy holiness and unto thy tabernacles.
4 And I will go unto the altar of God, unto God the gladness of my joy, and I will give thanks unto thee with the harp, Ο God, my God.
5 Why art thou cast down, Ο my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Wait thou for God, for I shall yet praise him, the help of my countenance and my God.

The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 44

Book Second
Chap. 44.
1 To the chief musician; to the sons of Korah, Maschil.
2 O God, with our ears have we heard; our fathers have declared unto us the work [which] thou didst in their days, in the days of old.
3 Thou [with] thy hand didst drive out the Gentiles and plant them; thou didst evil to nations and didst send them forth.
4 For not with their sword did they take possession of the land, neither did their arm deliver them; but thy right hand and thine arm and the light of thy countenance, because thou takedst pleasure in them.
5 Thou [art] he, my king, O God; command the deliverances of Jacob.
6 By thee will we push down our adversaries; in thy name will we tread under foot those that rise up against us.
7 For not in my bow will I trust, and my sword shall not save me.
8 For thou hast saved us from our adversaries, and those who hate us thou hast put to shame.
9 In God have we praised all the day, and we will give thanks to thy name forever. Selah.
10 But now thou hast cast off and put us to shame, and thou goest not forth with our armies.
11 Thou causest us to turn back before the enemy, and those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.
12 Thou givest us as sheep (for) food, and among the Gentiles hast thou scattered us.
13 Thou sellest thy people without gain, and hast not increased by their price.
14 Thou settest us [as] a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to those that are round about us.
15 Thou settest us a by-word among the Gentiles, a shaking of the head among the nations.
16 All the day my shame [is] before me, and the confusion of my face hath covered me,
17 Because of the voice of him who reproacheth and blasphemeth, because of the face of the enemy and the avenger.
18 All this has come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, and we have not acted falsely to thy covenant.
19 Our heart hath not turned backward, nor hath our step declined from thy path.
20 But thou hast broken us to pieces in the place of large serpents, and hast covered us over with the shadow of death.
21 If we have forgotten the name of our God, and have stretched out our hands to a strange god,
22 Will not God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
23 But for thy sake we have been killed all the day, we have been counted as sheep for slaughter.
24 Awake; why sleepest thou, Ο Lord? Arise, cast us not off forever.
25 Why hidest thou thy face? [Why] forgettest thou our affliction and our oppression?
26 For our soul hath been bowed down to the dust, our belly hath cleaved unto the earth.
27 Arise, a help unto us, and redeem us for thy mercy's sake.

Notes on Ezekiel 8-9

It is evident that chapters 8-9. really form the parts, according to the chapters, of one connected vision. First, the excessive idolatry of Judah in Jerusalem is set forth, beginning with the house of God; secondly, destruction is ordered of God for all left in the city, save a marked remnant of those that sighed and cried for all the abominations done there, a destruction expressly beginning at Jehovah's sanctuary; thirdly, the part played by the cherubim and other agents of divine judgment, ere the glory of Jehovah slowly takes each step of departure; and fourthly, the denunciation of woes on the princes and the people yet left, with assurance to the righteous of a sanctuary in Jehovah Himself where there was no other in the heathen lands of their dispersion, and of final mercy in gathering them back while all else must perish, the glory retiring from the city to the Mount of Olives. From chapter 12 to 19 inclusive are various connected circumstances and expositions of His ways on God's part.
“And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me. Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire; from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the color of amber. And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the Spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the imago of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.” (Ver. 1-3.)
The year is the next after that of the first vision: compare chapter 1:2. The reckoning is from the captivity of Jehoiachin. The prophet here had a fresh dealing of God while the elders of Judah sat before him. It was in the Spirit, not in bodily presence, that he was conveyed to Jerusalem, “in the vision of God” where he beheld at the door of the inner gate looking northward (that is, to Chaldea), the seat or pedestal of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. “And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there according to the vision that I saw in the plain. Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and, behold, northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary?” We are not told distinctly what the name of the idol was, whether Baal or Ash-toreth. Compare 2 Kings 21, 2 Chron. 33 It was certainly an idol which defied the God of Israel and courted the homage of all who entered the temple. So bent was Judah on affronting Jehovah and compel ling morally the accomplishment of His threat to abandon His house. And here is the force of the vision of His glory in this connection: Jehovah had not yet definitively left, and is pleased to justify His solemn procedure with His people.
“But turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations. And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and, behold, the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.” It is a scene of still more intimate and debasing idolatry, a reproduction of the degradations of Egypt; and bowing down to these, not the dregs but the rulers of the people! “And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand: and a thick cloud of incense went up.” God had of old appointed seventy judges; and one of their most momentous functions was to deal with idol-worship. Here as many are found, caught we may say, in the very act of priestly devotion to the representation of serpents and abominable beasts (or cattle) and all dung-gods. Shaphan was the scribe who read the book of the law to the tender-hearted Josiah: what an ominous change in Judah that now Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan stood in the midst of the seventy idolatrous elders!
Nor was this all. “Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, Jehovah seeth us not; Jehovah hath forsaken the earth.” They had ceased even to hold the truth in unrighteousness, bad as this may be; they had sunk into the lower depth of denying the necessary attributes of God, into Jewish apostasy, saying, “Jehovah seeth us not, Jehovah hath forsaken the earth.”
“He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of Jehovah's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.” Here it is not Syrian nor Egyptian idolatries, but Phoenician, and of the most grossly demoralizing character. It was apparently what the Greeks adopted under the fable of Adonis and Aphrodite.
But there remains worse behind, because both of the place and of the persons engaged in the adoration of the sun, the great object of Sabian and subsequently Persian idolatry. “Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, Ο son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of Jehovah's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of Jehovah, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of Jehovah, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.” The prophet particularly notes their number answering to the courses of priesthood and the high priest, with their backs toward Jehovah's temple, and their faces toward the east.
There is no sufficient reason, in my opinion, to depart from the ordinary rendering of verse 17, and to change זְמוֹרָה from “branch” into song; nor need we heed the Rabbinical notion that the text is to be reckoned among the Tikkun Sopherim, the original reading being supposed to mean “to my [instead of ‘their'] nose.” The LXX seem to have so read, at least they render it αὐτοὶ ὡς μυκτηρίζοντες, “they are as scorners.” But the Hebrew MSS support the common text which makes an excellent and consistent sense. “Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, Ο son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.” Punishment to the uttermost must befall the Jews without mercy: Jehovah Himself must sec to it.
Chapter 9 gives us the divine preparations and plan for executing judgment on all, save the reserved remnant, in Jerusalem. “And he called also in my ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from, the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side.” The judgment is still from the north; the angelic executioners stand beside the brazen altar, the expression of divine requirement and judgment on the earth. The glory quits its wonted seat. Jerusalem is devoted to the vengeance of Jehovah. “Jehovah said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” (Ver. 4-6.) Grief is the fruit of communion with God in a day of evil. Those who felt such holy sorrow are expressly and conclusively exempt from the destroyers. All others must perish, old and young, maids, little ones, women; but not any one on whom is the mark. “And begin at my sanctuary.” Compare 1 Peter 4. What is nearest to the Lord has the deepest responsibility.
But not content with beginning at the ancient men who were before the house, the word to the avengers was, “Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?” No room was left for intercession to prevail. “Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverse-ness: for they say, Jehovah hath forsaken the earth, and Jehovah seeth not. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.” (Ver. 9, 10.)
The awful scene is made more impressive still by the report of the task completed. “And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.” (Ver. 11.)

Fragments Gathered Up: Judgment Proving State

Our judgments prove our own state as much and more than that of which we judge. They may be just, or unjust; they may be just and not charitable, or the true righteousness of God and zeal for Him in contrast with false charity.

Notes on Matthew 4

Nevertheless, if such is our relation with God, we are in conflict here below with the enemy of our souls. Well, here too Jesus must go into it for us. This follows immediately. Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil. If He takes or rather makes our place with God, He must take it in face of the enemy to bind the strong man that held us captive. I know not, dear brother, if this grace strikes you as it strikes me: but it seems to me to go beyond all the bearing of our thoughts as much as the effort to reproduce it in human words for drawing the attention of souls to it only betrays the weakness which speaks of it. However let us pursue our essay, since it can be studied in the word itself, once the attention is thus drawn to it.
Jesus takes our place in conflict: solemn moment where all depended on His victory. It was not possible doubtless that He should not bear off the victory; but if the Second man had fallen like the first, all was ended and lost. Yes, that could not be; but He must conquer for us and conquer as man. It is exactly out of this position that the enemy wished to withdraw Him, out of the position of a servant of man as such. “If thou art the Son of God “(and the Father had just owned Him such)—if thou art Son of God, speak that these stones may become loaves. Act as Son. There is no harm in eating when one is hungry. You have only to say this word and have wherewithal to satisfy your wishes. That is, do your will: leave the position of servant you have taken. Not for a moment! He had taken, being in the form of God, the form of a servant; and He abides servant of His God.
And, in these days of slighting the word, it is good for the heart to remark how He answers. A single text of the word, of the scripture, suffices for the fidelity and the almightiness of the Lord, for the wisdom of the Son of God; a single text suffices to reduce to silence the devil who wished to lead Him astray. The Son of God remains in His position of man, the servant; and the word of God directs, is the opening of, His ways. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” What a beautiful and perfect example! Not a movement of His heart toward any other thing than the authority of His God, of whom He had made Himself servant. The word of God issues from the mouth of God—the words issued from His mouth, blessed be His name, direct to man. Christ maintains Himself in the place of man. Man shall not live by bread alone. The word is the source of His conduct; He lives by it. It is His directory doubtless; but it is also what puts His will in movement: without it He does nothing. He is come to do the will of God. The words which proceed out of His mouth declare this will and put in movement the soul of man the servant. Such is the obedience of Christ. The devil can do nothing there; he is silent.
Remember here, though they be only accessory circumstances, that this conflict did not occur in the garden of Eden, not in the midst of enjoyments which testified the goodness of God. Christ had already passed forty days, a solemn period of exercise and endurance, as we know by Moses and Elijah, and in an analogous manner by the forty years of Israel in the wilderness. He had been withdrawn from the ordinary state of humanity, not to prepare Him for the presence of God, as Moses and Elijah had been. He was in the wilderness, far from the pleasant things which, by the goodness of God, remain to man in this fallen world, for a struggle, (not that we know that this was with special temptations, but for a struggle) with the enemy. His position was such as that of the world in its moral reality as God sees it, a desert where Satan rules. (Mark 1:13.) Put to the proof thus by love for us and, while accomplishing the counsels of God, submitting fully in the ways of God (for He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness) to the sufferings which come by the power of Satan into this world, He enters into the special conflict that He had to carry on with Satan, where we have to follow Him, but fighting against an enemy already beaten. He is not weary of His service of fidelity, He remains man the servant in obedience, He owns the absolute authority of the word, resting thereon as the basis of all His conduct. It is simplicity which is absolute perfection. Satan is vanquished. I repeat, a single text of the word—whatever be the foolish pretensions of man—suffices for the Lord, suffices for Satan. May this word suffice for us! Only may God give us grace to make use of it under the guidance of the Spirit of God whose sword it is, in order that it may be effectual in our hands.
But to dare obey God in this world there must be confidence in God. This is the second trial the Lord undergoes for us. “If thou art Son of God, cast thyself down.” Try if God will be faithful to His promise. (Psa. 91) This too was just out of the path of obedience. In this path He could always count upon God; but to put God to the proof to see if He would be faithful is not to confide in Him as assuredly such. This is what is meant by the expression “tempting God,” and not to go too far in confiding in Him. (Ex. 17:7.) The confidence is perfect like the obedience. He waits on Jehovah. Sure that He will be faithful, that He is so always, He has but to follow the path of obedience and to depend on Him. His word will direct His steps and His thoughts, and will be accomplished in His promises. Such are the two elements of the life of the new man, of the life of Christ in us—obedience, and dependence. Christ was perfect in both, in an obedience which had the word, the will, of God, as the source of His activity, not simply as its rule. When Satan presents the word falsely as a snare, the word suffices as a perfect answer to conduct the steps and the thoughts of man.
Remark further in these instructive answers of the Lord that, when it is a question of the wiles of the devil, the wisdom of the Lord confines itself to a striking simplicity, and in this that there is no need to think save of one's own duty. This is enough, and Satan can do no more. Man must live not by bread only but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. There is all; but it is all. His conduct is perfectly traced. It is submission, the path marked by the words of God. He does not enter into controversy with the enemy. He is found in this later with men. Here it is the perfect path of obedient man, his walk with Him. The word of God traces for Himself this path, and the end is completely attained. Satan is vanquished.
Afterward Satan shows himself; it is no more a question of his wiles. He offers the world and its glory to the Lord if He will pay him homage. For the obedient man that owned God it was to betray himself, and for such a man Satan manifested has no power. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. The world is the bait that Satan can offer that one should follow him. The man who wishes nothing but his God is sheltered from every real danger here. Nevertheless it is still by the word that the Lord answers. It is the Spirit's sword for man, the sword of God, but made for man who by the Spirit makes use of it; and if he seeks only to obey, it is enough for the certain defeat of the enemy of souls. The devil quits the Savior; and if Man must fight and conquer by an obedience so simple, angels of God Himself are there to render Him service.
Without being able here to bring out the instruction found in these details, I desired particularly to draw the attention of your readers to the way the Lord made and took our place on both sides, so to speak: on God's side, Son, anointed of the Holy Spirit, before the Father, with heaven opened; then in conflict with Satan when in fact He bound for us the strong man.
The Lord, man here below, had been owned by the Father as His beloved Son, heaven being open on Him, and Himself anointed by the Holy Spirit. He had thus presented in Himself the place which according to God's counsels those should hold whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren. He had for them entered on the conflict the strong man wages with them and, having conquered him for them, had shown them how, by His grace, they could conquer in their turn. He must exercise His ministry in the midst of the people, and, whilst announcing the gospel of the kingdom, spoil the strong man that He had bound.
But from the beginning the disposition of man manifests itself. John the Baptist is put in prison. Jesus, from Judea where He had wrought, goes away to Galilee amongst the poor and despised of the people. He abides at Capernaum, a place even called His city. It is there according to prophecy (and Matthew always give us Him who is the subject of prophecy) that the light must shine: neither at Jerusalem in the midst of the proud chiefs of the Jews, nor where He was at home does He begin His work. The poor of the flock, the testimony of God, the Spirit of the Lord perfect in spiritual wisdom unite to direct His steps towards the place willed of God. I do not say that prophecy directed His steps; but His acts accomplished prophecy.
What Jesus announced was what John had published. It was a call to repentance because the kingdom of the heavens had drawn nigh. The throne of God had been established on the earth at Jerusalem; the Eternal had forsaken it at the time of the Babylonish captivity, and the seat of the supreme power was transported there, and this power confided to the Gentiles. But the heavens were to reign and God to establish from above His beneficent power over the earth. Up to this day He has not taken His great power and acted as king; but the king is seated in heaven on the throne of the Father, and the kingdom exists in mystery.
It is important to remark here that it is not a question only of the salvation of such or such an individual (while the things may be bound together, and in fact are so, as John 3 proves), but of the establishment of a system of authority by which the heavens impress their character in blessing on the earth. The rejection of Christ has introduced better things, and relations more intimate and more entirely heavenly; but the kingdom will be established with a still fuller development when the Lord returns. This however is not the place to pursue this theme: let us follow our Gospel.
The Lord becomes the center of a people which are attached entirely to Him: an important principle, a right belonging to Him alone. He preaches repentance to all. One must return to God in self-judgment, for Israel was far from Him, and the crisis of their history arrived. But, besides, the powerful attraction of the Lord's call attached souls to Him by making them leave all and break every other tie. Emmanuel was there; and those He called were His. The call was to be the fishers of men.
After this the ministry of Jesus is summarily recounted in the three verses that follow, indeed in the single verse 28. The more these verses 17-23 are examined, the more one sees that they contain, and designedly, a compendium of all the Lord's ministry. Verses 24, 25, tell us the effect of this ministry in Palestine and all the neighboring countries. Besides, it makes a ministry accompanied by a power suited to draw their attention. He gathered disciples round Him. The gospel of the kingdom was announced; and the character of the miracles was as important as the power which accomplished them: it was the power of God manifested in goodness on the earth.
Great crowds followed Him. It was of importance that His disciples and even the multitude should understand what was the true character of the kingdom about to be introduced and of those about to have part in it. John's ministry however had detached a remnant from the impenitent mass of the people.

Notes on Luke 20:1-40

The Lord is now seen in contact with the various classes of officials and religious and political bodies among the Jews, who successively present themselves in the hope of perplexing and inveigling Him, but in effect to their own confusion, Essaying to judge Him, they expose themselves and are judged by the truth from His lips on their own evidence one after another.
“And it came to pass on one of the days as he was teaching in the temple and evangelizing, the priests and the scribes came up with the elders, and said unto him, saying, Tell us by what authority thou doest these things; or who it is that gave thee this authority.” (Ver. 1, 2.)
It is ever apt to be thus in an evil day. Worldly religion assumes the sanction of God for that which exists, its permanence and its future triumph. It was so in Israel; and it is so in Christendom. Prophets then held up the fate of Shiloh to the religious chiefs who reasoned from the promises of guaranteed perpetuity for the temple, its ordinances, its ministers, its devotees, and its system in general; and those who warned like Jeremiah found bitter results in the taunts and persecutions of such as had the world's ear. They denied God's title to tell them the truth. And now a greater than Jeremiah was here; and those who stood on their successional office, and those who claimed special knowledge of the scriptures, and those of leading influence in the counsels and conduct of the people, demanded His right to act as He did and its source. No wonder they felt the solemn testimony of approaching ruin to all that in which they had their importance; but there was no faith, no conscience toward God. They therefore turned away from the consideration of their own ways and responsibility to the question of His title.
The Lord meets them by putting another question. “And answering he said unto them, I also will ask you a [or one] word, and tell me: The baptism of John, was it of heaven or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we should say, Of heaven, he will say, Why believed ye him not? but if we should say, Of men, the whole people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John is a prophet. And they answered that they knew not whence [it was].” (Ver. 3-7.)
The wisdom of the Lord's procedure is worthy of all heed. He who alone could have taken His stand on personal dignity and the nearest relationship and the highest mission pleads none of these things. He probes their consciences; and, in their desire to escape from the consequences of answering truly, they are compelled to confess their incapacity both to guide others and even to act aright themselves in a matter of the deepest and most general concern to all Israel of that day. “The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of Jehovah of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith Jehovah of hosts.” So said Malachi, and so the Lord proved now. “Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways but have been partial in the law.” They could not deny, yet refused to profit by, the moral power of John, who bore witness to Jesus as Messiah and to Israel's need of repentance. To own therefore the baptism of John, a new institution, as of heaven, without the least appearance of traditional sanctity or claim of antiquity or connection with the priesthood or the temple, was of the most serious import to men who derived all their consequence from the regular course of the law and its ordinances. Besides, it at once decided the question of the Messiah, for John in the strongest and most solemn way declared that Jesus was the Christ. To disown John and his baptism would have been fatal to their credit, for all the people were persuaded that John was a prophet. It was to them a mere question of policy, and hence they shirked answering under cover of a lie. They could not afford to be truthful; they said they knew not whence John's baptism was. They were as void of faith as the heathen. He who read their dark hearts winds up with the reply, “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Ver. 8.) It was useless to inform unbelief. Long before the Lord had forbidden His disciples to tell any man that He was the Christ; for He was going to suffer on the cross. “When ye shall have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [he], and that I do nothing of myself, but even as my Father taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8)
Here we have no special application to the Jews in order to let them know that the most despised men and corrupt women go into the kingdom of God before the heads honored by the peoples. This has its appropriate place in the Gospel of Matthew. But we have the parable of the vineyard let out to husbandmen in all three synoptic accounts, each with its own special shades of truth.
“And he began to speak unto the people this parable: a man planted. a vineyard and let it out to husbandmen, and left the country for a long time. And in season he sent unto the husbandmen a slave that they might give him of the fruit of the vineyard; but the husbandmen beat and sent him away empty. And again he sent another slave, and him also they beat and dishonored and sent away empty. And again he sent a third, and they wounded and cast out him also. And the lord of the vineyard said, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: perhaps on seeing they will reverence him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. And him they cast out of the vineyard and slew: what therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others. And when they heard they said, Let it not be. But he looked on them and said, What then is this that is written? A stone which the builders rejected, this has become head of [the] corner. Every one that falleth on that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall crush him to powder.” (Ver. 9-18.)
On the truth common to all it is not needful to speak now. But the reader in comparing may notice the greater fullness of detail in Matthew and Mark than in Luke as to the dealings with Israel; as also the greater minuteness in Mark of the reception the servants and son received. So also observe on the other hand that Mark and Luke speak simply of giving the vineyard to others, Matthew on letting it out to other husbandmen such as shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Responsibility is thus most maintained in Matthew, grace in Luke, both being true and of capital moment. Again, in Matthew it is “he that falleth,” in Luke “every one,” &c. There is breadth in judgment as in grace. Mark has not the verse at all, as not bearing on service, the theme of the Spirit by him.
“And the scribes and the chief priests that very hour sought to lay hands on him (and they feared the people); for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.” Again does the Holy Spirit notice their bad conscience, their hatred of Jesus, and their fear of the people. God was in none of their thoughts: else had they repented and believed in Jesus. What a comment on the parable was their desire to lay hands on Him! Thus were they soon to fulfill the voice of the prophets and the parable of the great Prophet Himself.
“And they watched and sent suborned persons pretending to be righteous that they might lay hold of his word so as to deliver him to the power and the authority of the governor. And they asked him, saying, Teacher, we know that thou rightly sayest and teachest, and acceptest no person, but in truth teachest the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar or not? But perceiving their deceit he said unto them, Show me a denarius; whose image and title hath it? And answering they said, Caesar’s. And he said unto them, Therefore render the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God.” (Vers. 20-25.) The moral depravity of all concerned is here very marked, whether of suborners or suborned. Simplicity of purpose detects and exposes the crafty. Jesus sacrifices no duty. Let Caesar have what is his, and God His own. The world-panderers and the zealots were alike foiled, who set one duty against another, doing neither aright because each was seeking self. “And they were not able to lay hold of his word before the people, and wondering at his answer were silent.” (Ver. 26.)
“And some of the Sadducees who deny that there is any resurrection came up and asked him, saying, Teacher, Moses wrote to us, If any one's brother having a wife die and he be childless, that his brother take the wife, and raise up seed to his brother. There were then seven brothers, and the first having taken a wife died childless; and the second, and the third, took her; and likewise also the seven left no children and died; and lastly the woman died. In the resurrection therefore of which of them does the woman become wife? For the seven had her as wife. And Jesus said to them, The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those counted worthy to obtain that age and the resurrection from among [the] dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they can die no more, for they are equal to angels, and are sons of God, being sons of resurrection. But that the dead rise even Moses showed at the bush when he calleth Jehovah the God of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob. But He is not God of dead but of living, for all live to Him.” (Verses 27-38.)
We need not combat here men like Dr. Campbell, ably as he wrote on the Gospels, or Dwight, who contend that the point is a future life rather than the resurrection of the body. Not so. The proposed case could hardly have risen but as a difficulty in the ways of a risen body, though it is doubtless true that the Sadducees went farther and denied angels and spirits.
Our Gospel, it is of interest to observe here, furnishes several distinct truths beyond what is found in Matthew and Mark. Resurrection from among the dead (not resurrection as such) has its own proper age, a time of special blessedness which the resurrection of the unjust cannot be 6aid to be. It was after this the apostle longed so ardently, minding no sufferings meanwhile, none above all of Christ in character. The resurrection of the wicked is for the second death. The resurrection from among the dead is for the righteous who die no more, being equal to angels and sons of God, being sons of resurrection. The resurrection of the unjust is the awful condition of eternal judgment, as they had rejected Christ and eternal life in Him. God is Abraham's God and will raise the dead to enjoy the promises not yet fulfilled; He is not God of dead men but of living; for to Him all live, even before the resurrection comes as well as when it does come. Thus Luke above all the evangelists gives us a full glimpse of the separate state, besides the certainty of resurrection and glory. “And some of the scribes answering said, Teacher, thou hast well said. And they did not dare any more to ask him anything.” (Ver. 39, 40.) We shall see that the Lord's turn is come to question them.

Notes on Romans 12:1-8

The apostle had set forth the doctrine of grace in atonement and salvation; he had shown in the resurrection of Christ the living link that binds together the justification of the believer with life, and hence with holiness of walk and heart—a link too often forgotten in the teaching, if not in the practice, of the children of God. He had reconciled the indiscriminate grace of God in the gospel with the ways of God and the special promises to Israel, and shown by the past, present, and future course of dispensations on earth that, as man's part has been unfaithfulness through unbelief, and all its train of miserable consequences, so God's has been and will be the triumph of His goodness for the Gentiles now, for the Jew shortly, all concluded in unbelief that He might have mercy on all. Now he begins formally to exhort the saints by the compassions of God thus displayed in redemption, and even in His dispensations.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the compassions of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service.” (Ver. 1.) It is the detailed application of the principle laid down in chapter 6, where we first hear of the Christian reckoning himself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, under grace, not under law. Prom this there is no receding to law now, as the tone of the exhortation itself testifies. But the compassions of God are morally to form the believer within and without. Just as in chapter 10 the apostle had taught the value of confession with the mouth as well as of believing with the heart, so here the brethren are entreated to yield their bodies as a sacrifice to God. Many then as now would have been disposed to have professed all inward devotedness with license for the outward man. The possibility of this self-deception is here precluded, the more strikingly as the exhortation is made not to Jews with their system of external observances, but to Christians who know that without faith it is impossible to please God. Thus is secured the service of the man as a whole; just as the apostle says elsewhere in his desires for the Thessalonian saints, “The God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, and your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Again, the word “to present,” or yield, is so put as to convey the idea of a completed act summed up in its conclusion. It is not mere effort as under law, but a thing done once for all, though of course stamped on the entire Christian walk up to the last according to that beginning. The Spirit of God contemplates nothing less for every soul called of God out of this world, reconciled by the death of His Son and to be saved by His life. How could He lower the standard of Christ?
But the mention of “bodies” in God's wisdom associates itself with the thought of a sacrifice so familiar then to every mind even among the Gentiles. Only in Christianity it is an incomparably more intimate and personal question than in Judaism. Animals devoted to death and sacrifice do not suffice or suit, but our own “bodies,” and this of course as a living sacrifice contrasted with those of dead beasts, which of themselves left self unjudged and untouched. With the Christian's self-sacrifice God is well pleased. It only is holy now, what was once legally so being in truth proved profane, now that the true light shines; it is acceptable to Him as the expression of giving God His true place, and of man, the believer, taking his. Without this the show of doing good and communicating is vain; with it such sacrifices are indeed well pleasing to God. Further, this is “our intelligent service.” Worldly elements are condemned, carnal ordinances passed away, formal worship at an end. God will only be served now intelligently. It is no question of reason judging for itself without the word, but of the Spirit guiding the mind by divine revelation understood growingly.
“And be not conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that ye may prove what [is] the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Ver. 2.)
Here it is not the man personally devoted to God but a negative guard from external influence, and the direct contrary positively carried on by the renewing of the mind, the end being the thorough discernment of God's will. Thus, in order to prove practically that good and acceptable and perfect will, there is need on the one hand of being continually on the watch against the course of this age, the spirits and habits of men where opinion rules, and on the other hand of being transformed; yet this not after a mere outward sort but by the renewing of the mind. It is by practical exercise that one grows in learning His will, and proves that it and it only is good and well pleasing and perfect. Here again we see contrast with the Gentiles on the one hand who knew not God and therefore not His will, on the other with the Jewish people subjected to known definite requirements independent of spirituality. The whole course of men outside Christianity, even if it profess to recognize God in outward acts, is wholly ignorant of relationship with Him, and, having no faith, regards it as the presumptuous assumption of believers. Now the Spirit, in calling us to a path of separation from the ways of men, lays down no lines of outward difference but what follows the mind renewed, and this in steps of enlarging obedience. So Jesus learned obedience (for as the eternal Son He had only known to command)—learned it in a path of suffering unequaled. “Lo, I come to do thy will, Ο God;” and God's will He did and suffered at all cost, as we know now to everlasting In the age to come there will be no such discordance enjoined nor right nor even possible; for the world will be under the direct and displayed government of God in Christ the Son of David and the Son of man, the power of evil being publicly put down and expelled. But now it is otherwise in this present evil age, when (Chap. 12: 1-8.) divine life has to swim against the stream. Proportionate is the blessing of fidelity to the name of the Lord when His throne is unknown save to faith and disregarded by men as such. It is therefore a way of obedience hard to nature but pleasant to the new man directed of the Spirit that glorifies Christ, who is the way, and the only way, through the wilderness of the earth to the Father. “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Self-will is detected and detested; the good and acceptable and perfect will of God is more and more discerned. This cannot be where the spirit of this age governs.
“For by the grace given me I tell every one that is among you, not to have high thoughts above what he ought to think, but to think so as to have sober thoughts, as God hath dealt to each a measure of faith. For just as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of each other. And having gifts differing according to the grace given us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; or service, [let us occupy ourselves] in service; or he that teacheth, in teaching; or he that exhorteth, in exhortation; he that bestoweth, in simplicity; he that taketh the lead, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Ver. 3-8.)
From the more general principles of Christ's devotedness and obedience we descend to the reason the apostle gives. High-mindedness is incompatible with either; it is the very reverse both of the love which animated Him in giving Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savor, and of the obedience which He closed in the death of the cross. High-mindedness hinders both the doing our own duty and others in theirs. So Paul speaks to every one among the saints at Rome. This was no pretentiousness on his part but the lowly discharge of the task assigned him by the Lord Jesus, and not the less decided because it was in lowly obedience. And as each did his own proper work according to the measure of faith dealt out by God, each would act with humility but with firmness, knowing it was God's will and his own service. Unbelief seeks great things and overlooks the one thing of moment—our own duty assigned of God without going beyond its measure or outside its nature. Let us remember however that there is a false modesty that fails to act, as well as the want of modesty that goes too far.
For it is in this after the pattern of the body with its many members, the doctrine so fully unfolded in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians. Here the apostle but touches on it in a practical point of view, to illustrate the importance of various members in one body mutually helpful; many as they may be, one body in Christ and severally members one of another.
Besides let us never forget that, whatever the differences, all are gifts; and the grace which has given has made one to differ from another but also each necessary to the others, as all in the one body. Whatever we have from the Lord, let us use all in subjection to Him, and for the object He had in view: if prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith. Such an exhortation is the more weighty, because we see that even the highest of the gifts of edification comes within the scope of such a caution. He that prophesied had to beware of overstepping what God had given. The reality of gift did and does not supersede the need of regulation by the word. None put the hearer's soul more directly in contact with God than prophesying; yet must it be conformable to the faith. And if a man's gift lay in ministering to the saints, not in the way of speaking but serving them otherwise in love, his wisdom would be to occupy himself in this, as also the teacher and the exhorter in their own work, not in a service for which they had no divinely given fitness. It is plain that each of these gifts is distinct, though of course God might give more than one sometimes to the same man. But commonly each would have his proper gift.
Another remark it will be well to make, that God guards us here from so sharp a distinction as would favor the ruinous distinction, into which the early church too soon slipped, of clergy and laity. Even tie more moderate of those who would apologize for it seek to extract the transition from public to private gifts out of the omission of εἴτε ("whether” or “or"). But this is wholly fanciful; for the Holy Spirit has taken care to render such a scheme untenable by placing the most public gift possible, the ruler or leader (ὁ προϊστάμενος) between “him that bestoweth” and “him that showeth mercy,” all three being found after the omission supposed to mark the private gifts. The desire to avoid the force of this has led men into arbitrary meanings of ὁ πρ. as merely presiding over one's own household, which really demands that sphere to be defined as in 1 Tim. 3:4, 5, 12; or a patron of strangers as in Rom. 16:2, which however is a different word. But 1 Thess. 5:12 (not to speak of 1 Tim. 5:17) clearly shows the true meaning where it occurs absolutely.
Again, we may notice that, as he that bestows has to take heed that he yield to no evasive pretexts, but to cultivate liberality (which with money is “simplicity”), so the leader or ruler is exhorted to diligence, and he that shows mercy to show it with cheerfulness, not as if he grudged the consolation. Some take μεταδιδούς as the official distributor of the public charities of the assembly, rather than as dispensing from his own property; but διαδιδούς in that case would probably have been the word chosen.

Missionary Object Not to Hinder Acceptance of Truth

Let not an anxiety for missionary objects hinder the acceptance of the truth. for no so strong motive for missionary exertion exists with the anti-millenarians as with those who believe God's judgments are presently coming; for that belief urges them to special labor for the gathering in of God's elect to the knowledge of the refuge, before the scourge sweeps the earth, to preserve them that have believed.

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 4

(1 Peter 3:18-20.)
As much misconception exists respecting Calvin's sentiments, I will here state fully what he has written in his early and later works. It is at any rate an error to classify him, as did Dean Alford after Huther, with those who understand the passage of a literal descent of our Lord into hades; for Calvin nowhere commits himself to any such statement, though, as already pointed out, he applied the phrase in the creed to His sufferings on the cross, and he conceived the efficacy of that work sensibly and at once to reach the Old Testament saints. The reader need not for a moment suppose authority is attached to what may be quoted from the great leader of the reformed. The effect, I trust, will be only to prove the incontestable superiority of the divine word; the wise being weak where they depart from it, while it gives light to the simple.
The first allusion in order of time is in the Psychopannychia, published in 1534, when the author was but twenty-five years of age, a tract directed against the materialistic notion of Anabaptists and others, who would have the soul to sleep during its departure from the body before the resurrection. Some zealots were the more disposed to embrace this revolting and utterly unscriptural scheme; because, if true, it would decide against the Popish dreams of limbus patrum and in particular of purgatory. But Calvin's pious sobriety was proof against such a temptation even in the heats of controversy. This is his use of the text, as quoted from the third volume of his Tracts (Translation Soc. Ed. 1851, pp. 428,429)— “Not less evidently does the Apostle Peter show that after death the soul both exists and lives, when he says (1 Peter 3:19) that Christ preached to the spirits in prison, not merely forgiveness or salvation to the spirits of the righteous, but also confusion to the spirits of the wicked. For so I interpret the passage which has puzzled many minds; and I am confident that, under favorable auspices, I will make good my interpretation. For after he had spoken of the humiliation of the cross of Christ, and shown that all the righteous must be conformed to His image, he immediately thereafter, to prevent them from falling into despair, makes mention of the resurrection to teach them how their tribulations were to end. For he states that Christ did not fall under death, but subduing it came forth victorious. He indeed says in words, that He was ‘put to death in the flesh but quickened in the Spirit' (1 Peter 3:18), but just in the same sense in which Paul says that He suffered in the humiliation of the flesh, but was raised by the power of the Spirit. Now, in order that believers might understand that the power belongs to them also, he subjoins that Christ exerted this power in regard to others, and not only towards the living but also towards the dead; and moreover not only towards His servants but also towards unbelievers and the despisers of His grace.
“Let us understand, moreover, that the sentence is defective and wants one of its two members. Many examples of this occur in scripture, especially when as here several sentiments are comprehended in one clause. And let no one wonder that the holy patriarchs who waited for the redemption of Christ are shut up in prison. As they saw the light at a distance, under a cloud and shade (as those who saw the feeble light of dawn or twilight), and had as yet an exhibition of the divine blessing in which they rested, he gave the name of prison to their expectancy.
“The meaning of the apostle will therefore be that Christ in Spirit preached to those other spirits who were in prison-in other words, that the virtue of the redemption obtained by Christ appeared and was exhibited to the spirits of the dead. Now, there is a want of the other member which related to the pious who acknowledged and received this benefit; but it is complete in regard to unbelievers who received this announcement to their confusion. For when they saw but one redemption, from which they were excluded, what could they do but despair? I hear our opponents muttering, and saying that this is a gloss of my own invention, and that such authority does not bind them. I have no wish to bind them to my authority; I only ask them whether or not the spirits shut up in prison are spirits.”
In this handling of the text there is no great ability in tracing the apostle's scope or in developing the argument of the epistle, though the reasoning may be fair against the fancied sleep of the soul. But it is plain that Calvin then held that the power of the work of Christ when accomplished reached the departed spirits, just and unjust, not that He visited them in person. He confesses that the sentence does not express what he wishes it to comprehend; for the member relative to the pious is wanting, unbelievers only being spoken of, at least completely. The truth is that the only patriarchs in question were those preserved in the ark; yet they are contrasted with the disobedient whose spirits were in prison. The pious Noah and his house therefore are not wanting afterward, but so named as to refute the argument before us.
Not long after Calvin published his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” in the second book of which (chap. xvi. § 9) we may see, if possible more clearly, how little he agreed with the class to which of late he has been assigned. After a severe but just reproof of those who like Bishop Horsley in modern times wrest Psa. 107:16 and Zech. 9:11 to an imaginary subterraneous limbus, treating such thoughts of Justin M., both the Cyrils, Ambrose, Jerome, Ac, as no better than a fable, he then proceeds:-
“And what need was there that the soul of Christ should descend thither to set them free? I readily own indeed that Christ illumined them by the power of His spirit, enabling them to recognize that the grace, of which they had only had a foretaste, was then displayed to the world. And probably to this may be applied the passage of Peter where he says that Christ went and preached to the spirits in a watch-tower (it is commonly rendered 'in prison'), 1 Peter 3:19. For the context also leads us to the conclusion that the faithful who had died before that time were partakers of the same grace as ourselves; because he dwells on the power of Christ's death in that He penetrated even to the dead, pious souls enjoying an immediate view of that visitation for which they had anxiously waited, whilst on the other hand the reprobate more clearly knew themselves shut out from all salvation. Though Peter does not speak very distinctly, it is not to be received that he absolutely confounds the righteous and the wicked; he only intimates that both alike had the death of Christ made known to them.”
It is a strange notion, adopted by Calvin first (it is to be hoped, without a single intelligent follower), that φυλακή here means a watch-tower, whence he supposed the saints to have been awaiting the Messiah. On this no remark is needed in addition to what has been made already, unless it he that the verse itself is as inexorably adverse to it as the general usage of the New Testament. For the spirits spoken of are those of men not only without the least hint of any subsequent obedience, but expressly said to be kept in ward because of former disobedience. The only reason for charging defect or indefiniteness on the passage is the singular fancy that the apostle meant to include the pious in these spirits without one word to justify it. As to the wicked the language of the apostle is confessed to be “complete.” The reverent reader of scripture will not fail to censure Calvin for adding to God's words, rather than Peter for taking away. In text or context there is no thought of making known Christ's death to believers and unbelievers, but very plainly does the apostle urge the danger of despising Christ's testimony by the Spirit, even before His kingdom came, and this drawn from the days of Noah, to which the Lord elsewhere compares the day when the Son of man shall be revealed. (Luke 17) Before the flood, as now, we see a time of testimony; but an awful blow fell on heedless man then, as there will again shortly from Him who is ready to judge quick and dead. If there is any reference in the context to the believers who died before Christ, it is to those saved in the ark, a figure of the salvation set forth in baptism by virtue of Christ's resurrection, while the spirits in prison were those of the men who perished in the deluge for their unbelief.
But here again we see how far it was from Calvin's mind that our Lord in His disembodied state did actually go to the place of detention of departed spirits and there preach; still farther that He thus preached salvation to those in that state who had refused to obey the voice of God when the judgment of the flood was hanging over them. The plain words of scripture here as elsewhere give no countenance to such strange doctrine, nor is it true that there is any dark enigma in the judgment either of men before the flood or of those the apostle warns here. It is neglect or unbelief of scripture to say that these are cases where the final doom seems at all out of proportion (I will not dwell on the impropriety of saying with the late Dean Alford “infinitely out of proportion") to the lapse which has incurred it. To speak or to think so is to dispute with God and contemn His most solemn revelation. If the antediluvians had a doom more awful than others before them, we have the divine assurance on the one hand of a special testimony to them, and on the other of their excessive corruption and violence. Most justly therefore did the Judge of all the earth send the flood which took them all away, save the man of faith who, warned of God of things not seen as yet and moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Granted that worse remains for all unbelievers than the flood; but not worse for antediluvians as such than for others; and for none so bad as for those who slight God's call to repent and believe since redemption, especially for such as bear, and bear falsely or with indifference, the name of the Lord. Who that beholds the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world can say that the doom of unbelievers is out of proportion to their guilt? He who can deliberately say it seems to me to have no real sense of man's evil or of God's infinite grace.
To allow that unbelievers, who perished at the flood or otherwise, are objects of a preaching of salvation in the disembodied state when Christ died or at other seasons, is to cast off not only the general testimony of Old Testament and New but very specially that dark background of eternal judgment and destruction which the gospel affirms with a precision unknown to the law. To found such a renewal of hope for deceased unbelievers on our text, and to hint at extending it indefinitely, seems to my mind presumption of the most perilous sort.
But there is a third passage from Calvin's writings of a later date which may furnish further matter for reflection as well as comparison with scripture. In his comment on the Epistle, published about the beginning of 1554, it will be observed for the third time that, far from admitting Christ's personal descent to hades as meant by the text, he seeks to explode any such application. “It has been a threadbare and common opinion that Christ's descent into hell is here stated; but the words mean no such thing. For there is no mention made of the soul of Christ but only that He went by the Spirit. But these are very different things, that Christ's soul went and that Christ preached by the power of His Spirit. Expressly therefore does Peter name the Spirit to take away the notion of what may be called a real presence."
Again, Calvin sets himself against the view advocated chiefly by Socinian commentators, but also by Grotius, Schottgen and others, who take the preaching as that of the apostles, by τοῖς ἐν φ. πν. understand either the Jews under law, or the Gentiles under Satan proves, or both together as bound with a common chain of sin, the allusion to Noah's time being no more than a sample or similitude. To this our commentator replies: “I allow indeed that Christ through the apostles went by His Spirit to those who were detained in the flesh; but this explanation is proved false by many considerations. First, Peter says that Christ went to ‘spirits,' by which he means souls separated from their bodies, for living men are nowhere called spirits. Secondly, what Peter repeats in chapter 4 does not admit of allegory. Therefore the words must be understood properly of the dead. Thirdly, it seems most absurd that Peter, speaking of the apostles, as though forgetting himself, should go off to the time of Noah. Certainly such a mode of discourse would be abrupt and unsuitable. This explanation then cannot stand.”
But there is no sparing the notion of many Fathers, now it would seem reviving, that dead unbelievers had a fresh offer of salvation and in fact were saved after the cross. “Moreover their madness who think that unbelievers in the coming of Christ were after His death free from their guilt needs no longer refutation; for it is the certain doctrine of scripture that we do not obtain salvation in Christ save by faith, and therefore for those who have been persistent in unbelief up to death there is no hope left.”
Then he gives his reason for rejecting the notion that prevails among the Greek and Latin Fathers— “Somewhat more probable is their assertion who say that the redemption procured by Christ availed the dead who in Noah's day had long been unbelievers, but repented a short time before they were drowned in the deluge. The idea therefore is that they suffered in the flesh the punishment due to their perverseness, yet that they were saved by Christ's grace from perishing forever. But this conjecture is weak; as besides it is inconsistent with the context, for Peter ascribes salvation only to the family of Noah, and assigns to ruin all who were outside the ark.”
But we must pay more heed to his own conclusion in its most mature form. “I therefore do not doubt but Peter says generally that a manifestation of Christ's grace was made to the godly spirits, and that they were thus endued with the vital power of the Spirit. “Wherefore there is no cause to fear that it will not reach to us. But it may be inquired why he puts in prison the souls of the godly after quitting their bodies. To my mind indeed φυλακή means rather a watchtower in which a watch is kept, or the very act of watching. For it is often so taken among the Greeks, and the sense would be excellent that godly souls were intent on the hope of the promised salvation as if they saw it afar off. Nor is it doubtful that the holy fathers in life as well as after death directed their thoughts to this object. But if anyone chooses to retain the word (prison), it will not be unsuitable; for as, while they lived, the law (according to Paul, Gal. 3:23) was a sort of strict custody in which they were kept, so after death they must have felt the anxious longing for Christ, because the spirit of liberty had not yet been fully given. Therefore their anxious expectation was a kind of prison.”
Here for the third and last time in his writings we see how Calvin repudiates the idea of Christ's actual descent into hades. He among the reformed held a view substantially similar to that of Durand among Romanists that Christ's preaching to the spirits was a visitation by the efficacy of His work, not by His presence among them. To call Abraham's bosom or paradise either a watchtower or a prison will not be accepted by sober believers as fair dealing with our Lord's intimation. To be “comforted” is no characteristic of imprisonment. Dean Alford's note on Luke 23 is not only exceptionable throughout, but its conclusion is refuted by 2 Cor. 12 and especially by Rev. 2:7, where beyond controversy paradise is the scene not merely of blessed spirits but of the perfection of glorified humanity in heaven. The effort of Calvin to reconcile the idea of a prison with spirits in heaven (as he at least believed) is vain; and the weakening if not change of the apostle's words is the evident and inevitable consequence. It differs little from the Romish dream of purgatory as stated in the Decrees and the Catechism of the Council of Trent.
It is not correct therefore to say that thus far the apostle's words seem to agree well with the fact itself—with the thread of the argument. “But what follows,” even be confesses, “is attended with some difficulty; for he does not mention the faithful here but only the unbelieving, by which the whole of the preceding exposition seems to be overturned.”
I do not agree with the ground of objection any more than the thoughts we have next, though believing that there is the strongest ground and that the reasoning given has no real force. “Some have been led by this reason to think that nothing else is said here than that the unbelievers who had formerly opposed and persecuted the godly found the Spirit of Christ a judge, as if Peter consoles the faithful with this argument that Christ even when dead punished them. But their error is disposed by what we shall see in the next chapter that the gospel was preached to the dead, that they might live according to God in the Spirit which peculiarly applies to the faithful. Moreover it is certain that he repeats there what he now says.” “Next they do not perceive that Peter meant them especially that as the power of the Spirit of Christ showed itself vivifying in Him and was known as such by the dead, so it will be toward us.”
The apostle seems to me correcting unbelieving notions natural to those who looked only for the Messiah reigning gloriously and delivering them from their enemies, and therefore despised the Spirit's action in preaching, and comparatively small results which yet appeared, nay the present sufferings and persecution of Christians. Peter brings in Christ's death but also His resurrection, and points to His dealing of old by the Spirit (not by a personal display in glory) where there was disobedience then as now, but to their spirits as in prison kept for judgment, besides the public fact in this world that far fewer than the Christians were saved in the ark. Further, it is gratuitous assumption to bring in here 1 Peter 4:6 which has to my mind a quite distinct bearing. Calvin's mistake is proved by 2 Peter 2:6, which does expressly treat of the same time and excludes all idea of the faithful by the declaration that God brought a flood on a world of ungodly persons. I believe accordingly that the apostle does certainly not repeat there what he now says, but speaks here of good news having been set before dead persons also, though of course the preaching to them was while they lived, with one or other of these two results, “in order that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the Spirit.” For the Jews habitually were apt to lose sight of the judgment of the dead in their eagerness to put forward the judgment of the quick as to which the heathen were wholly ignorant.
“Let us see however (continues he) why he mentions only unbelievers; for he seems to say that Christ in Spirit appeared to those who were formerly disobedient. But I distinguish otherwise; that then also the pure servants of God were mixed up with unbelievers and were almost hidden by their multitude. Greek syntax (I confess) is at variance with this meaning; for Peter, if he meant this, ought to have used the genitive absolute. But because it was no new thing for the apostles to put one case instead of another, and we see Peter here heaping together many things confusedly, and no other suitable sense can be elicited, I have no hesitation in thus explaining an intricate passage; so that readers may understand that those called disobedient are different from those to whom the preaching was made. After then he said that Christ manifested Himself to the dead, he immediately adds, “when there were formerly disobedient men; by which he means that the holy fathers sustained no harm from being almost overwhelmed by the multitude of the ungodly.” To the rest of his remarks I make no objection as they seem sound and sensible: but it would not be easy to discover a match for the hardihood of the words just cited and the utter want of self-distrust in thinking and speaking as he does of an inspired man. The Greek construction, he admits, is adverse to the sense he would impose. This is enough for one who believes that the Holy Spirit perfectly guided Peter. Certainly the dative άπειθήσασιν is in agreement with the πνεύμασι just before, which demolishes the imaginary distinction of God's servants mixed up with the unbelieving. It is impossible to construe or even conceive the meaning Calvin would insist on without giving up the claim of the Epistle to be divinely inspired. Again, it is as false that the apostles elsewhere put one case instead of another, as that Peter here heaps anything confusedly together. The most suitable sense has been shown to be the strictest according to grammatical considerations. Calvin therefore would have been much wiser if he had hesitated about his own explanation, which in fact brings intricacy into a passage by no means obscure either in syntax or in scope. The Christian reader will want no further reasoning to assure him that the spirits in prison are no other than those of men once disobedient when the Spirit of Christ in Noah preached by him before the deluge. It is egregious to suppose that the Spirit was not only to strive with them, contrary to God's express admonition, after the term of a hundred and twenty years allotted in divine long-suffering, but even to save some or all after Christ died: a strange proof, it must be allowed, that the Lord knows how to deliver godly persons out of temptation and to reserve unjust men unto judgment-day to be punished.
(To be continued.')

What Is the Unity of the Church? (Duplicate): Part 1

I should never have spoken of Mr. F. O's. pamphlet if there had not been in it very decided principles upon some important points and an object, which all do not perceive. If it were only the desire to cast contempt upon his brethren which was manifested in it, nothing would be easier than to pass on. Every one can judge how far Mr. O. has profited by the light of brethren, whom he is pleased to treat with a measure of contempt. I do not find the proceeding very noble; but if any one wishes to kick down the ladder by which he has mounted, it certainly is not worth the trouble of writing a pamphlet, however small, to point it out. Mr. O. tells us that he has gone on his way “groping.” When we submit to what is found in the word, we do not grope: one does grope with the thoughts of men. With God's word we may still be ignorant on many points; but if we receive, and that joyfully, the yoke of the word, we do not grope. Mr. O.'s object is to establish or direct independent assemblies and to justify laxity in discipline. He understands absolutely nothing as yet of the unity of the body. Practically his pamphlet is directed against that unity. Those are the only points that I shall take up, presenting what the word of God says of assemblies, and some fresh light that God has granted me. The latter is not of any great importance; but what His word says is always of interest to the Christian. It is a happy thing to know that, if we are grounded upon the word, the fresh light we receive never overthrows the old but completes and makes it clearer.
First, allow me to say that the assemblies of so-called “Plymouth Brethren,” far from calling them selves “the assembly” or “the church of God” in a particular place, have always formally opposed the title. So little truth is there in the insinuation that it is principally this which has hindered these brethren from forming part of the Rochat flock. They believe that they alone are assembled upon the true principle of the church of God, which I in no wise doubt: but they believe that the church is in ruins, and that the pretension to be the church of God in a place would be a false pretension. I add that, if all the Christians in a place were to be found gathered together which would form (according to order) the assembly of the place, I would not give it that title, because the universal church is not gathered, and I do not believe in independent churches. I believe that there were formally local churches representing in a certain sense the whole in their localities; but we are very far from that now. All who have taken the trouble to inquire know, or might have known, that from the first the brethren in question have taken their stand upon the principle of Matt. 18 as a resource given of God in the general ruin. The pretension to be the assembly of God has always been rejected by the brethren we speak of. Every assembly gathered by the will of God around the person of Jesus or in His name is an assembly of God, if it be only a question of the force of words; but when it is a question of being the assembly of God in a locality, it is not so in the true sense of the word, and could not be so, considering the state of the universal church. It may gather together on the principle of the church of God, may find the promised blessing, may be the only one gathered according to that principle in the place, and may attach immense importance to it (and it ought to attach immense importance to it, if it desire to be obedient and faithful); but it is only the witness for God so far as by its separate walk it testifies to the faithfulness of God, to the divine principles which govern its walk and to the true state in which the church is found as a whole. In this case it will be God's witness; certainly it ought to be so.
Mr. O. will have it that the totality of the churches, that is to say of the assemblies, constituted the church or the assembly. Not at all. Numerically speaking, it is not true. Many Christians were scattered here and there preaching the gospel, converted without being connected with a flock, like the treasurer of queen Candace, like Paul and Silvanus and Timothy and Titus in their labors. But, what is more important, the principle is entirely false, and the question which occupies us is altogether that. The assembly or the body was composed of individuals, and not of churches or of assemblies. Here are Mr. O.'s words in p. 11: “assemblies all united among themselves by one faith and one worship, and forming, in their totality, the church, the body of Christ upon the earth.” There is no such idea in the word. The body had members. Now assemblies were not the members, but Christians individually were the members; and although the assemblies had the same faith and the same worship, it was not this principle which constituted the unity of the body, but the presence of the Holy Ghost which united all believers, Jews and Gentiles, in one and the same body.
1 Cor. 12 makes the doctrine of the word of God perfectly clear with regard to this. The body of Christ on earth is composed of individuals and not of churches. Now if this be the case, there is unity only in the whole; there is none in any local assembly if it be detached from the whole as a whole. If it be regarded as an independent church, it has nothing to do with the body, it is not in principle an assembly of God. At the beginning of the first Epistle to the Corinthians it is said, “to the assembly of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Jesus Christ, saints by calling, with all those who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” Thus the apostle could say, “Ye are the body of Christ.” The assembly at Corinth represented at Corinth that one and only unity, that of all individuals united to Christ in one body by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Everything had a connection with the one body, composed of all the members of Christ. There was no action which did not relate to the whole body, no suffering of one member which was not felt by all the members of the body: 1 Cor. 12 leaves no doubt upon this point. The gifts were exercised in this whole. (1 Cor. 12:27, 28.) Their object was first the perfecting of individuals, then the edification of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:12.)
The object of this effort to make independent flocks is the desire of being independent, of doing their will without submitting to the discipline of the church as one body. Mr. O. says as much (p. 43). Each assembly being independent, united only by one faith and one worship (p. 11), is in a position to judge the disciplinary proceedings of another assembly (p. 43). The unity of the body therefore does not exist. An act is the act of an independent church; it has no reference whatever to the whole, and is not binding upon other assemblies or other Christians. Some one may be put out by one assembly and another assembly may receive the one who is put out, It is evident that this is disorder. The “within” and the “without” are not simply the world and the church of God. All that is lost. It is the “within” of a small voluntary and independent assembly which only exercises discipline in relation to itself. It is quite evident that the “within” and “without” of 1 Cor. 5 is not merely the “within” and “without” of a particular assembly, so that the wicked man could be without at Corinth and within at Ephesus. The Epistle carefully teaches the unity of the body on the earth and only recognizes the local act in that unity, a unity composed of individuals and not of churches. Look at the act of discipline in another point of view; and you will see the immense difference of the principles, and how this system of independent churches destroys the truth of scripture on this subject. “What is the real power, the real source of authority, in discipline? The presence of Jesus: not simply that the discipline is the act of a voluntary society which excludes one of its members from its bosom, but that it is the act of an assembly according to God, assembled in the name of Jesus and acting in His name, and by His authority to maintain the holiness which belongs to that name. Now the independent church is only a society which acts for itself: another assembly may judge all that it has done. There is no trace either of the unity or of the authority of the church of God.
Does it then follow that, if another assembly has acted hastily, a flock is bound hand and foot? In no wise. Just because the unity of the body is true and recognized, and that in a case of discipline the members of that body who gather together elsewhere take an interest in what passes in each place, they are free to make brotherly objections, or to suggest some scriptural motive; in a word, they are capable of all brotherly activity with regard to it. If it be an independent assembly, it is not concerned; there is nothing for it to look into. If these things are done in the unity of the body, every Christian is interested in what passes. It may happen that the discipline of an assembly cannot be owned; but then it is rejected as an assembly, and the presence of Jesus giving authority to its nets is denied—a very grave thing, but one that may occur. Mr. O. has entirely falsified the unity of the body, and wishes for independent churches and a unity of faith and worship, the aggregate of the churches forming according to him the unity of the body. The word of God knows nothing of this system. The reader may judge of it by reading 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4, 1 Cor. 1 and other passages of the word.
But another object is proposed wherever this system of half-Plymouth-Brethrenism-half-Independency is adopted; for it is not in Switzerland only that this ground has been taken. They wish to be free to support the Bethesda discipline, or that of the neutrals, of those who condemn absolute exclusivism as Mr. O. calls it (p, 41)—an expression which I confess I do not understand. Every one is not excluded, I suppose. Some persons are excluded in Mr. O.'s independent churches. The assemblies of the so-called “Plymouth Brethren” also exclude some. The question is, if the limits that have been put to the exclusion are scriptural. The expression “absolute exclusivism” may serve to bring opprobrium upon assemblies with which one does not agree; it is nonsense. But we have rather more intelligible expressions: “disciplinary ways which go far beyond scripture” (p. 42); and, again,” to combat such teaching we do not excommunicate in large masses Christians who are ignorant of it.” There can be no mistake. Mr. O. condemns the discipline of the assemblies called “Plymouth Brethren,” and be wishes the discipline of Bethesda or of the neutrals. This is the object of his pamphlet and of the support which he gives to independent churches. I will not weary either my reader or myself with the history of this question: but the real point in question is of all gravity for the church of God. Can an assembly be corrupted? We had broken with what we had considered to be outrages and blasphemies against Christ. Up to that time there had not been any great difficulty—some painful things, but settled without much delay. But here we have an assembly which receives those whom we have excluded as blasphemers: could one walk with that assembly, taking the Lord's supper with these excommunicated people?
This is the first question. For my part I could not do so, and those who admitted them knowingly and willingly were not a “new lump.” (1 Cor. 5) This raised the question—Is an assembly corrupted when knowingly and willingly it admits sin as blasphemy? Our adversaries maintained that an assembly could not be defiled; that individuals who are in sin are defiled, but that the assembly could not be so. They insisted upon this in several tracts. And not only so, but the principal brethren in a so-called neutral meeting signed a printed circular affirming that, if an assembly should admit fornication knowingly and willingly, we ought none the less to acknowledge that assembly and to receive letters of recommendation from it. We judged that, if an assembly (not taken by surprise, which may happen everywhere, or through carelessness, of which we are all capable, but) knowingly and willingly admits sin or blasphemy, it is not a new lump; that in order to be a new lump it must purge itself from the old leaven (1 Cor. 5:7); and that in so doing the other members proved themselves pure in this matter (2 Cor. 7:11): otherwise they would not have been so. This is the principle in question. Several went farther, maintaining that in no case does blasphemy or any kind of doctrine call for discipline.
The effects have been, to my mind, most fatal; but I limit myself to stating the question except that I will communicate the result in one case which may arouse Swiss consciences. The doctrine in question in the United States has not been that of Mr. N., but the denial of the immortality of the soul. There is a meeting at Philadelphia (and there are even two) on the neutral principle which does not follow the so-called exaggerated discipline and which blames the severity of brethren. Those who hold the denial of the immortality of the soul were admitted to the meeting; afterward the doctrine was taught there. We broke or rather refused all connection with these meetings. Those who blamed our severity were not willing to keep themselves thus separate, and now the principal instruments of the Swiss mission or of the Grande-Ligne deny the immortality of the soul. I hope all have not come to this—God knows. I do not enter farther into details: it would be too painful and of but little use. It is certain that the lack of faithful discipline, the loose system extolled by Mr. O., the lack of absolute exclusivism in regard to what is false and evil, has led the Swiss mission into the doctrine which denies the immortality of the soul. They may say, We do not preach it; but the doctrine has currency; people go and ask the minister what he thinks of it; he thinks it is truth, and souls receive it. Well, we refused those who were not willing to break with this system, and I bless God for it; but there is a fine field of labor ruined precisely by the system which Mr. O. extols. Neutral meetings taking advantage of the absence of absolute exclusivism, and approved of for this by Bethesda and by the neutrals and by the O.'s, are traps for simple souls who go to New York and Philadelphia.
(To be continued)

Christ Tempted and Sympathizing

Some months since a neutral brother questioned the word “disappearance” in the above tract (p. 8 of the London ed., p. 10 in those of Manchester and of Glasgow.) Now an anonymous person calls it “blasphemy,” as if what was said imports that evil was in Christ's body some time or another!! He reasons that “disappearance from” means that the evil was in. It can only, in my opinion, be imagined to do so by an evil eye; for the sentence speaks of the moment of the immaculate conception. But if the evil, which was in the virgin's nature, “completely disappeared,” as far as the Babe was concerned, by that miraculous action of the Holy Spirit, the most perverse will cannot make the sentence say or mean that evil ever was in Christ's body. I am grieved to think that any one called a brother should like to make it so appear: why, God will manifest. If simple souls prefer for to “from,” the author has no objection. But the meaning of “from” as there used is self-evidently (not from having been in, but) from entering, the express contrary of implying that evil had been in a body which only then began to exist: as no doubt every intelligent, as well as every simple reader has understood till now. The desired misconstruction contradicts the distinct object and the uniform doctrine of the tract. It is for others to estimate the source, character, and aim of such an attack. The reader is requested to read the tract and judge for himself.


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The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 45

Chap. 45
1 To the chief musician upon Shoshannim; to the sons of Korah, Maschil, a song of love.
2 My heart hath overflowed [with] a good matter; I am declaring my works to the king; my tongue [is] the pen of a ready writer.
3 Thou hast been very fair above the sons of men; grace hath been poured into thy lips; therefore God hath blessed thee forever.
4 Gird thy sword upon the thigh, Ο mighty one, thy glory and thy majesty.
5 And [in] thy majesty prosper, ride, for the cause of truth and meekness of righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
6 Thine arrows [are] sharpened—the peoples fall under thee—in the heart of the king's enemies.
7 Thy throne, Ο God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness [is] the scepter of thy kingdom.
8 Thou hast loved righteousness and hated wickedness: therefore God, [even] thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy companions.
9 Myrrh and aloes [and] cassia [are] all thy garments; from the palaces of ivory stringed instruments have gladdened thee.
10 Daughters of kings [are] among thine honorable women; at thy right hand hath stood the queen in fine gold of Ophir.
11 Hear, Ο daughter, and see, and incline thine ear, and forget thy people and thy father's house.
12 And the king greatly desireth thy beauty; for he [is] thy lord; and bow down thyself to him.
13 And the daughter of Tire [shall be there] with a gift; the rich among the people shall entreat thy face.
14 All glorious is the king's daughter within; of gold-embroidered work [is] her garment.
15 In embroidered work of many colors is she brought unto the king; the virgins after her, her companions, are brought to thee.
16 They are led forth with gladness and joy; they enter into the palace of the king.
17 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy sons: thou shalt appoint them as princes in all the earth.
18 I will make mention of thy name throughout all generations: therefore peoples shall give thee thanks forever and ever.

New Translation Psalms 45-47

Chap. 46
1 To the chief musician, to the sons of Korah; upon Alamoth, a song.
2 God is a refuge and strength unto us, a help in distresses very readily found.
3 Therefore will we not fear in the changing of the earth and in the moving of mountains into the heart of the sea.
4 Its waters roar, they are troubled; the mountains tremble with its pride. Selah.
5 [There is] a river; its streams make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
6 God [is] in her midst: she shall not be moved; God shall help her at the appearing of morning.
7 Gentiles raged, kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice; the earth melteth.
8 Jehovah of hosts [is] with us; the God of Jacob [is] a refuge unto us. Selah.
9 Come, behold the works of Jehovah, who hath set desolations in the earth,
10 Causing wars to cease unto the ends of the earth; he breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear; he burneth the war-chariots in the fire.
11 Leave off, and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the Gentiles; I will be exalted in the earth.
12 Jehovah of hosts [is] with us; the God of Jacob is a refuge unto us. Selah.

The Psalms: Book 2, Psalm 47

Book Second
Chap. 47
1 To the chief musician; to the sons of Korah, a Psalm.
2 Clap your hands, all ye peoples; shout unto God with the voice of rejoicing.
3 For Jehovah most high [is] to be feared, a great King over all the earth.
4 He destroyeth peoples under us, and nations under our feet.
5 He chooseth our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom He hath loved. Selah.
6 God hath gone up with a shout, Jehovah with the voice of a trumpet.
7 Sing praises unto God, sing praises; sing praises unto our King.
8 For King of all the earth is God; sing ye Maschil.
9 God hath reigned over the Gentiles, God hath sat down upon the throne of His holiness.
10 The princes of the peoples are gathered together, [with] the people of the God of Abraham; for unto God [belong] the shields of the earth; he hath been greatly exalted.

Notes on Ezekiel 10-11

The vision which follows completes the picture of judgment begun in chapters 8, 9. While it recalls that which the prophet first beheld among the captives at Chebar, it has certain modifications which one might expect from the fact that, as he sat with the elders of Judah before him, he was brought by the Spirit in the visions of God to Jerusalem, now in its day of visitation for its uncleanness of flesh and spirit, beginning with the sanctuary but taking cognizance of the city throughout, those only excepted who sighed and cried for all the abominations done in the midst. If it was a solemn sight for the captive prophet to see the glory of God in a heathen land, it was no less significant to see it arrayed in vengeance against the city whereon His eyes and His heart are perpetually.
“Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city. And he went in my sight. Now the cherubim stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court.” (Ver. 1-3.) Thus from Him who is not even named, but who fills the throne above, came the command intimating consuming judgment for the city; and he who was commissioned to mark the righteous for exemption is now told to fill his hand with coals of fire from between the cherubim and to scatter them over Jerusalem. The cloud of Jehovah's presence was there; but it afforded no shelter, no direction now to the people who had abandoned all care for His will and preferred a calf or a dung-god to the Eternal of Israel. How changed from the day when Jehovah went before them, or filled the sanctuary!
“Then the glory of Jehovah went up from the cherub over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of Jehovah's glory. And the sound of the cherubim's wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh.” (Ver. 4, 5.) The glory was departing, not coming to dwell there. Jehovah is leaving the seat which He was pleased to choose—not forever indeed, for He has chosen it forever. But meanwhile He is morally driven away by the iniquities and apostacy of His own people. The prophecy of Ezekiel is as explicit that He will return and dwell there, never more to quit His home as long as the earth lasts, for His people will then enjoy the rest of God under Messiah and the new covenant. But as David was forced to say in his last words that his house was not so with God, in like manner does our prophet here tell in mysterious symbols the rupture of the ties between God and Israel through the solemn signs of their judgment. In every way did He make it conspicuous to the prophet, if peradventure they might hear and live, arrested by the strange sights and sounds he was given to recount from the Lord. Whatever He might do at other times, it was unmistakably Jehovah who directed the sweeping destruction of His own city and sanctuary. Thus the faith of the believer would be strengthened by the dealings which cleared the ground of every tree which He had not planted.
Next we have the execution of the command in the vision, that all might be rendered the more impressive and sure to such as flattered themselves that, whatever the sharp lessons and chastenings of Jehovah, it could not be that He would disown Israel, and that, whatever the temporary successes of the foe, the land and the city and the temple must prove an unfailing bulwark against permanent advantage over the chosen people. So readily does man forget the immutable principles of God's moral being and turn to his own ease and honor what God could only do for the maintenance of truth and righteousness to His own glory. “And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubim; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels. And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubim unto the fire that was between the cherubim, and took thereof, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out. And there appeared in the cherubim the form of a man's hand under their wings. And when I looked, behold, the four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the color of a beryl stone. And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went. And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had. As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel. And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. And the cherubim were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar. And when the cherubim went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them. When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.” (Ver. 6-17.) It is plain that, if the glory seen by the river Chebar returned, so emphatically identified in verses 15, 20, 22, it was but passingly and for the sad task both of sealing the judgment and of marking the abandonment of Israel as under the law and now apostate from God. The symbol of divine government in providence was there, but it took not its seat in the holiest. It stood at the threshold, and the court was full of the brightness of Jehovah's glory, but there was no entrance within. It was a judicial visitation, in obedience to His behests who from above controlled every movement. Wrath was gone out against Jerusalem. He it was who directed all, not the dumb idols which carried away the Gentiles, having mouths but they speak not, having eyes and hands and ears but they hear not nor see nor handle, as vain as those who trust in them against God in the heavens who hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.
There are some features of difference from the earliest manifestation. Not that there is any severance of the wheels from the cherubic figures, or the least divergence from common action, or in the end of their complicated movements. All pervading intelligence is yet more asserted of the whole body, backs, hands, wings, wheels. “As for the wheels it was called in my hearing, Galgal” [wheel, or roll, roll]. In verse 18 we see a move of the gravest significance: “Then the glory of Jehovah departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of Jehovah's house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubim. Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward.” (Ver. 18-22.) There might be a lingering over the east gate, but the glory was departing.
This is entirely confirmed by chapter 11 which completes this portion of the prophecy. In the vision of Jehovah Ezekiel is given to behold the excessive and scoffing presumption of the leaders in Jerusalem who counseled the king Zedekiah to his and their ruin in flat contradiction of Jehovah's message by Jeremiah, whose style and imagery they seem to have adopted to suit their own purpose.
“Moreover the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of Jehovah's house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city: which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh. Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, Ο son of man. And the Spirit of Jehovah fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith Jehovah; Thus have ye said, Ο house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them. Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it, Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord Jehovah. And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you. Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.” (Ver. 1-12.)
There appears no sufficient reason in the similarity of the number twenty-five for identifying the scoffers here described with the sun-worshippers between the porch and the altar of chapter viii. Here the leaders at least were princes of the people, not of the sanctuary or of the priests. As the previous scene set forth the religious apostacy, so this the audacity and infidelity of their civil chiefs, though in the door of the gate of Jehovah's house. They were the evil counselors who thwarted His word through the prophet to Zedekiah. Jeremiah exhorted the Jews in Jerusalem to submission under the king of Babylon, and the captives to build houses and plant gardens and raise up families in their exile, praying for the peace of the city, till the seventy years were accomplished and a remnant should return to Jerusalem. The false prophets predicted smooth things both at home and abroad, in every way fomenting rebellion under the color of patriotism and pretending Jehovah's name while encouraging to insubjection under His humbling hand.
Verse 3 is somewhat obscure and has given occasion to much difference of version and interpretation in detail, while the general truth seems plain enough. In the Septuagint it is taken interrogatively: “Have not the houses been newly built?” So nearly the Vulgate. Gesenius and Ewald follow in somewhat similar style: “Is it not near, the building of houses?” Rosenmuller, De Wette, and Young, on the contrary, take it thus: “It is not near to build houses;” that is, the time of peace for such work is far off, meaning that they were resolved to resist the Chaldeans to the last, spite of the prophet's warning. Luther and Diodati are substantially like the Authorized Bible; and so too the modern translation of Leeser as well as of Henderson.
Certain it is that they set themselves against the true prophets and even turned the figure of Jeremiah into derision by making it a phrase favorable to their own policy. Therefore the marked emphasis with which Ezekiel was called on to prophesy against them, the Spirit of Jehovah being said to fall upon him, with a renewed charge to speak in Jehovah's name, for their secrets were out in His light. And Jehovah after recounting their murderous doings retorts on them their proverb; only it was their slain that were the flesh and the city the caldron, while they themselves are told to get out, but not to escape, as they expected. Jehovah would bring on them the dreaded sword, and this outside the city to which they were so closely cleaving, for they should be delivered into the hand of strangers for judgment. Nay, Jehovah solemnly declares that He would judge them on the boundary of Israel, and they should know that He is Jehovah. Thus the city should not be to them for a caldron, nor they flesh in its midst, but judged by Jehovah at the borders, then forced to feel in whose statutes they had not walked, and whose judgments they had not executed, but rather acting according to those of the nations around.
Thereon, as Ezekiel prophesied, Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died (ver. 13, 14), which drew out the prophet into sorrow and intercession for the remnant. For the captive loved the men, scornful though they might be, who dwelt in Jerusalem. On this the word of Jehovah impresses on him that his brethren emphatically, the men of his relationship, “yea the whole house of Israel,” were objects of contempt to the haughty inhabitants of Jerusalem who assumed the most self-complacent airs because they were still in the city of solemnities, as against their brethren in captivity. (Ver. 15.) “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord Jehovah.” (Ver. 16-21.)
In a day of sin and ruin it is ever thus. Those who boast in antiquity and order and succession and rule as a lineal and exclusive possession are but ripening for divine judgment; while the most decried and despised are such as have the truth and blessing in circumstances of humiliation and weakness, as Jehovah here promised to be a little sanctuary to the scattered Jews in the countries whither they came; and that they should be gathered from the peoples and have the land given them; and this too with one heart and a new spirit, the heart of stone being supplanted by one of flesh in order to obedient ways and true recognition of and by God, while the obdurate idolaters should meet with the due reward of their deeds.
“Then did the cherubim lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of Jehovah went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.” (Ver. 22, 23.) Then there is a farther removal of the divine glory, not from the temple only but from Jerusalem. It went up from the midst of the city and stood on mount Olivet. “Then the Spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me. Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that Jehovah had showed me.” (Ver. 24, 25.) It reminds one of Matt. 28 where the risen Jesus is seen on a mountain of Galilee, giving His great commission to the disciples as to all the nations, without saying a word about His ascension to heaven. It is Jerusalem left aside indeed, a remnant sent out by the Lord resuming His Galilean place in resurrection, the beautiful pledge of His return spite of present rejection. The curtain drops over the Shechinah when it reaches Olivet, till we hear of its reappearance in the last chapters for the latter day. Compare also Zech. 14:4 with Acts 1:9-12.
The prophet brought back in Spirit, though all the while in his own home with the elders before him in bodily presence, declares the awful scenes he was given to behold: what consolation for the captives!

Notes on Matthew 5-7

The Lord then, seeing that His teaching had attracted the crowd, gathers His disciples and proclaims the great essential principles which were to serve as moral foundations for His kingdom, and to characterize those who were to have part in it. The first sixteen verses of chapter 5 contain the enunciation of these principles, as well as the character and position of the true sons of the kingdom. What follows to the end of chapter 7 consists of warning against the wanderings of the heart of man, and puts the ancient sayings and precepts which had currency among the Jews in contrast with the morality required by the kingdom of the heavens. It was a question of having the heart pure and clear from hatred, and the spirit submissive in such a way that its impatience should not rise up, and that its evil should not come to light in the heart itself; it was a question of the patience and the gentleness which is more bent on keeping the heavenly character than one's own goods of the goodness ready to give and resembling the character of God Himself their Father who loves without being loved.
Next (chap, 6.), the Lord would have the motives pure, and prayer in reference to the true relations at that time of His own with God and to the desires flowing from them. He would have the aim of the heart heavenly, and that it should have confidence in God for this low world; then again (chap, 7.) that one should not judge when it was a question of motives, but that one should not misunderstand when the insolent contempt of God and of morality manifested itself; that dependence and confidence should be diligently expressed in presenting our requests to God, which He would hear as our loving Father: lastly, that practical obedience should lay a solid basis for the hope of the future.
It is evident then that the subject spoken of is not redemption, nor the sinner, but the character which suits the kingdom and necessary to enter it. The state wished for precedes entrance into the kingdom. Their righteousness must surpass Pharisaism, for God was looking at the heart. Israel was in the way with Jehovah and must make friends with Him. The kingdom of the heavens was going to be established: there was what one must have for entering in. One had to do with God. As to the disciples, opposition is supposed to their testimony, and conflicts; which gives occasion to the revelation of the heavenly part of the kingdom. (Ver. 11, 12.)
Thus the positive part of our Lord's teaching embraces the promises (as verse 5) for the earth, and for the heavens the verses already referred to. Others apply generally to the spirit desired by God, which, at bottom, is the character of Christ Himself. The disciples were set as the salt of the earth (of that which was in relation with God) in contrast with every corruption, and as the light of the world, the testimony of God to those who lay in the dark outside. Their testimony ought to be clear enough for men to know to what they should attribute the fruits manifested in them. The place of the disciples was thus sketched clearly, the remnant called by grace.
The sermon on the mount is in no way a spiritualizing of the law. There are but two commandments one could say that allusion is made to; and even this is not true, for the Lord gives a teaching which does not agree with that which was current among the ancients, if He does not even contradict it; and never would He have spoken thus of the law of God. He says that every word of the law and of the prophets shall come to pass; He Himself came not to make void but to fulfill. Moreover to “fulfill” has not at all the sense of obeying, but just simply what is said of giving the fullness. Disobedience of the law when it was in force was not the means of entering into the kingdom. The Lord, like the gospel, confirms fully the law as come from God. When it subsisted, to be obedient to it was the path of God; but here, while saying so, the Lord puts His teaching in contrast with the discourses of the times of the law. The narrow gate and the strait way characterized the walk of the disciples; their fruits would show the true nature of those who sought to make them go out of it.
The sermon is not the rich grace preached to sinners any more than redemption, but the path traced for the faithful who would have part in the kingdom which was going to be established. It will be remarked that the name of Father is very distinctly employed in this discourse of the Savior. As it is said in John 17, “I have declared unto them thy name;” the Son being there, the name of the Father was revealed. Such is the measure of conduct ordained for the disciples with respect to others— “perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” From this name flow the principles of their walk in this world. It is true that they were here, and He in heaven; and they addressed Him accordingly; but the Father was revealed. It is for the coming of the Father's kingdom that they were to pray.
Having presented the great principles of the kingdom of the heavens, the Lord comes down from the mountain, and then begins the presentation to Israel of Jehovah come in grace in the midst of the people, Emmanuel, God with them, and of all the features of goodness, compassion, love, revealed in His ways towards them up to His rejection: a picture of every beauty and of the most profound interest! These features we will endeavor as much as we can to reproduce, while feeling how much the pen, alas! the heart also even though involuntarily, fails in it. But before entering this divine garden to enjoy the flowers and the fruits that grow there, it will be well to say a word on the kingdom and on the sermon, which we have just summed up briefly in reference to the kingdom.
This kingdom as a whole is in view in its heavenly part and its earthly part in verses 5 and 12; and that which they were to pray for, we have seen, is the kingdom of the Father. But the disciples are all in the midst of difficulties and of persecutions, the salt in the midst of corruption, the light in a world of darkness. The law and the prophets were to be accomplished; but another thing is now introduced. Such was to be the kingdom of the heavens. The King was there in all adverse world, and in the midst of a people which was going to reject Him. But the kingdom of the heavens could not take place. For this the King was to go up to heaven; for the kingdom of the heavens is the kingdom of God while the King and the government are in heaven.

Notes on Luke 20:41 and 21:1-4

In the various parties, if the leaders of religious thought in Israel, did not dare any more to ask the Lord anything, He puts the crucial question to them; not of course to tempt like them, but to convince them that the Pharisees had no more real faith than the Sadducees, and that the scribes had no more understanding of the divine word than the crowd who knew not the law. His indeed was a probe to conscience and an appeal to the scriptures, if peradventure they might hear and live. Alas! they had ears but heard not, and their own Messiah's highest glory they denied to their own perdition and God's dishonor. And this is no peculiarity of the Jews in that day; it applies as really now throughout, and even more conspicuously among Protestants than among Papists. At bottom, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, earthly religion slights Christ: sometimes by open antagonism as when His Deity is opposed and His sacrifice set aside; at other times by setting up rival mediators, the virgin, saints, angels, priests, &c., who usurp that which belongs exclusively to Him. To us then there is but one Lord, even Jesus Christ; and as we cannot serve two masters, so we cannot have two Saviors; but either men hate the one, and love the other; or else they hold to the one, and despise the other.
“And he said to them, How say they that the Christ is David's son; and David himself saith in the book of Psalms, Jehovah said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put thine enemies [as] a footstool of thy feet? David therefore calleth him Lord; and how is he his son?” (Ver. 41-44.)
There is and could be but one answer. The Messiah, David's son, must have been a divine person in order to be David's Lord, the everlasting enigma of unbelief, now as then the stumbling stone to the Jew. Yet is it as certainly if not as clearly and continually presented in the Old Testament as in the New; and as it is essential to His proper dignity and enhances incalculably the grace of God, so it is indispensable that there should be an irrefragable rock of salvation whether for an Israelite or for any other. Without the Godhead of Jesus, however truly man as He is, Christianity is a delusion, an imposture, and an impossibility, as Judaism was an unmeaning child's play. To Him, God and man in one person, do the law and the prophets bear their unequivocal witness, not more surely to God's righteousness without law than to the Christ's glory above law, however He might deign to be born of woman, born under law, in order to redemption for those who were in this position. (Gal. 4)
But man fears to face the truth till he is born anew. It annihilates his pride, it exposes his vanity in every sense, as well as his guilt and ruin; it makes God the only hope and Savior. Man does not like what grinds his self-importance to powder, and, unless grace intervene savingly, will risk everlasting destruction rather than yield to the testimony of God. But the truth erects a judgment-seat in the conscience of each believer, who now owns himself lost that he may be saved, and saved exclusively by His grace who will be the judge, to their endless misery and shame, of all who despise His glory and His mercy now.
To the believer no truth is simpler, none more precious, than the Christ a man yet God, son of David yet David's Lord, the root and the offspring of David, who came to die but withal the living and eternal God. On the intrinsic dignity of His person hang the grace of His humiliation and the value of His atonement, and the glory to God of the kingdom He will take and display as Son of man. He is now the center to faith of all who are brought to God reconciled by the blood of His cross; as He will be of all things that are in heaven and that are on earth reconciled by Him; but if not God, equally with the Father, such a place of center in grace or glory must be a deadly blow at that honor which is due to the only God, because it would be giving to a creature however exalted the homage proper to Him alone. His Godhead therefore is essential to His character of the model man; the denial of it logically implies the horrible libel and lie that He is no better than the most fraudulent and successful of impostors. This may serve to prove what the guilt of discrediting the Son of God really is; this explains why whoever denies the Son has not the Father, while he that confesses the Son has the Father also. He who honors not the Son honors not the Father who sent Him.
Therefore is judgment given only to the Son; because He alone in infinite love stooped to become a man and to die for men, yea for the guiltiest of sinners, who alas! repaid His love by the deepest dishonor, rejecting Him when He came in grace, as they reject Him preached in grace still, who will judge them as Son of man in that nature because of the assumption of which they despised Him and denied His Godhead. Thus will God compel all, even the proudest unbeliever, to honor the Son as they honor the Father. But this will be to their judgment, not salvation. Eternal life is in hearing Christ's word now and believing Him that sent His Son in love: otherwise nothing remains but a resurrection of judgment in vindication of His injured name, the rejection of the Father in the Son.
We need not dwell on other truths wrapped up in the citation from Psalm 110, though of the deepest interest and elsewhere applied in the New Testament. Here the object is as simple as it is fundamental, an inextricable riddle to the incredulous, Jews or Gentiles. But it is especially the former who have ever stopped short there, silenced but not subdued. As for such Gentiles as professed to receive the only solution in His person, the enemy finds other ways to nullify the truth wherever they are unrenewed by grace. False friends are no better than open enemies, but rather worse; ungodly men turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only master and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose judgment is just and sure, as we sec in the solemn epistle of Jude.
“And, as all the people listened, he said to the disciples, Beware of the scribes that like to walk in robes and love salutations in the markets, and first seats in the synagogues and first places at the feasts, who devour the houses of widows and for a show make long prayers: these shall receive more abundant judgment.” (Ver. 45-47.)
The difference in the object of the Holy Spirit's writing by Matthew and Luke, as well as Mark, comes out here in a striking way. For the former devotes a considerable chapter to their position, their utter failure and the stern judgment awaiting such hollow formalists from God. Mark and Luke touch the question only, the one as a falsifying of service, the other on moral ground, for the instruction of disciples. What is specially Jewish, either in title or in forms and habits, disappears; what Mark and Luke record is not loving service but selfishness and hypocrisy, the more fatal because of the profanation of God's name.
Luke again is with Mark in giving the widow poor but rich, and this doubtless for reasons analogous to their report of the exposure of the proud and empty scribes; Matthew has her not at all. For far different was the Israel of the then day, and with this he is occupied, the judgment coming on Jerusalem, rich but poor, with which the Lord concludes His denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees.
“And he looked up and saw the rich casting their gifts into the treasury, but he saw also a certain poor widow casting into it two mites. And be said, Verily I say unto you, that this poor woman hath cast in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have cast into the gifts, but she out of her need hath cast in all the living which she had.” (Chap. 21: 1-4.) It is a lovely picture of devotedness in the widow: how much lovelier to behold Him, who gave her the faith and drew out her love, admiring and so richly appreciating the fruit of His own grace! May He have so to speak of our wealth toward God in the day that approaches, when mammon and every false estimate shall have disappeared forever!

Notes on Romans 12:9-21

The apostle now goes out into broader ground and enjoins on the saints every sort of Christian duty, not in outward conduct only, but perhaps even more as to the tone, temper, and spirit in which the Lord would have all done by them. “Showing mercy” or compassion naturally serves as a link of transition, and prepares the way for the more general exhortation to love, lowliness, and patient grace.
“Let love be unfeigned.” (Ver. 9.) Love is of God. Therefore it is of the deepest moment that it should ever he genuine and incorrupt: for the higher its source, nature, and character, the more dangerous where that which is spurious usurps its place and name, misleading others and oneself under a fair but false pretension. It is not the same as the brotherly kindness of verse 10; and the reality of the distinction reappears in 2 Peter 1:7. On the other hand it is far from being that kindness to all men, the perfection of which we know in the Savior God as witnessed in Christ the Lord. Love is the activity of the divine nature in goodness, and hence is inseparable from that nature as reproduced in the children of God. Nevertheless this does not absolve them from the need of self-judgment that it be sincere and undefiled, seeking others' good according to God's will unselfishly. The letting in of hopes, fears, or objects of our own falsifies it.
Hence in the same verse the connected injunction, “abhorring evil; cleaving to good.” It is a word the more needful in our own day especially, because we live in Laodicean times of sickly sentiment where latitudinarian charity abounds, the essence of which is a spirit of indifferentism toward evil, in particular evil against Christ. And the danger as well as the sin is the more extreme, because it is and has long been that “last hour” of which John warns so solemnly, the hour not of Christianity prevailing but of many antichrists, though not yet of the Antichrist. But where love is real, there is and must be the detestation of evil, no less decidedly than the close attachment to good. If the latter attracts, the former offends and is often ill received in the world as it is. But the Christian must cherish the instincts of the new nature and he subject to God's word who has called him out to be a witness of Christ here below where evil meets him at every step and turn. The amiability which would shirk difficulties and apologize for sin is thus proved to lack the salt of the covenant of God, and will soon be seen to be honey and to end in leaven, instead of being the flour and oil which God looks for in such offerings.
“In brotherly kindness affectionately kind one toward another; in honor anticipating each other; in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; in hope rejoicing; in tribulation enduring; in prayer persevering; distributing to the necessities of the saints, studious of hospitality.” (Ver. 10-13.) Here we begin with the call to tender interest among brethren mutually; and so also not exactly to prefer or esteem others better than ourselves, as in Phil. 2:3, important as such lowliness of mind is, the mind that was in Christ Jesus. It is here a question of not merely repaying the courtesy of others, but of taking the lead in treating them with honor and thus by example leading them on in these comely ways. Then, instead of allowing slothfulness, the apostle insists on zealous diligence. Lest this however should be only outside work, he immediately adds “in spirit fervent,” and these with a blessed motive to both, “serving the Lord.” It is well known that Griesbach, following a few MSS, versions, and fathers, joined with Erasmus in reading καιρῷ for Κυρίῳ, contrary to the mass of authorities and almost all other editors. It was, we may boldly say, infirmity in judgment; especially as the internal evidence is at least no less adverse than the external. Serving the time (rather “season” or “opportunity") seems at least somewhat unworthy, is little suited to the context in itself,” and easily susceptible of the worst abuse. It is no fair instance of a more difficult and therefore preferable reading. The two words may have been confounded by an ignorant scribe, who took the abbreviated form of κω as meaning καιρῷ instead of Κυρίῳ. Possibly it may have been willfully altered, but we should be slow to suspect this when we can otherwise account for a change.
Further, the mention of the Lord and of His service appears to me the link in the mind of the Spirit with the bright future ("in hope rejoicing"), as this again very simply connects itself with present suffering ("in tribulation enduring”), and with the grand support of the soul, come what may meanwhile, “in prayer persevering.” This portion concludes with the remembrance of the poor saints, which stands in a similar relation here, as the third clause to the two former in the preceding verse, in which (we know from his own touching account in Gal. 2) the apostle was ever diligent, as well as the pursuit of hospitality, which the conventionalities of modern life should not enfeeble if we would be wise in the Lord.
In verse 14 practical grace to enemies in power (or at least having the means of harassing the saints) is urged with emphasis. “Bless those that persecute you; bless and curse not.” So did Jesus.
Sympathy in joy and sorrow next finds its place (ver. 15): “Rejoice with [any] rejoicing, and weep with [any] weeping; having the same mind one towards another, not minding high things, but going along with the lowly.” (Ver. 15, 16.) Spite of the antithesis tempting one to take the last word in the same gender as in the clause before, which is grammatically easy, I think that the differing form is both more in keeping with the fullness of the apostle's style and better in this passage, though “lowly things” may yield a sense not to be despised. What a contrast with the self-exalting and disdainful spirit of the world! How blessed to see it exemplified in the human path of the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, and enjoined by a servant of His whose qualities of mind and heart have found few if any equals, among men! Nowhere perhaps, where they let out their thoughts and feelings, can one find the very opposite so painfully as among the Rabbis. Their scorn for the unlettered poor is unbounded. But indeed it is too natural to man as such. Here we have exhortations to Christians. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself so to walk even as He walked.
Following up this the apostle says, “Be not wise in your own eyes; recompensing to none evil for evil; providing things good before all men: if possible, as far as concerneth you, being at peace with all men: not avenging yourselves, beloved, but give place to wrath, for it is written, To me [belongeth] vengeance: I will recompense, saith [the] Lord. If therefore thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Ver. 16-21.)
Self-confidence is another and kindred danger, which in such a world as this would soon ensnare the saint in retaliation. In every way contrariwise we are called to be witnesses, not of the first man, nor of the law, but of Christ, and hence to be above suspicion before all men in providing things good or comely (for such is the true sense here, rather than benevolent); and this too] in a spirit of peace with all, as far as depends on us. It is a solemn thought that wrath and vengeance belong to God. It becomes us, instead of avenging ourselves, to bend before the blast, looking to God; nay, to render service to an enemy in need and distress. This will bring him to a point with God or with you: if he melt, so much the better for all; if he harden himself, so much the worse for him. For the Christian it is exercise in the divine nature, that is in faith and patience and love. For the Christian rule is Christ, not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome it with good. So God, in our own case as with all who love Him, overcame our evil with His good in Christ our Lord; and now also He gives us to be imitators of Him in grace, which wins the victory in His sight and to our own consciousness, even when we may seem most downtrodden before the world. For this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith—of course faith working through love.

Brief Thoughts on Philippians 4

This chapter takes up the entire superiority to circumstances which characterizes the Christian. The apostle had gone through very trying circumstances; he had been in prison for four years, chained to a heathen soldier—a terrible kind of thing. There he had been to have the experience that no circumstances could ever separate from the love of Christ, and that the life of Christ was paramount to everything. Christ felt all, far more than we do, but there was that which sustained Him and made it positive joy to Him, It is a great thing to see that the power of Christ in us can set us entirely above everything. Paul knew how to suffer need, and he knew how to abound—a far more dangerous thing; for if we suffer need, we are thrown on God necessarily. “What we find all through this epistle is the power of the Spirit of God raising him above all circumstances and sorrows; it is always the power of the Spirit of God which sustains him.
Sin is never mentioned in the epistle, nor flesh. But we get the power of the Spirit of God carrying us through this world where temptations are: not that the flesh is any better, but there is such a thing as living above it. This is a very important principle for all of us. It is true that “in many things we offend all;” but scripture never supposes that we are going to offend; and we never can excuse ourselves if we do offend. The flesh is as bad as ever, and what we get is, not the grace of God for it, but a thorn in the flesh, the thorn being from the grace of God of course. If we are conscious of weakness and are leaning only on grace, we need not offend: there is power for us. It is possible that at a given moment I may not have power; but this is because I have been going wrong previously. Christ was witnessing while Peter was denying; but Christ had been praying while Peter had been sleeping. The armor should be put on before the battle, not just at the battle. “When Satan came to Him with his wiles, the Lord had only to rest quietly in obedience: there was no long reasoning, no confusion about it. Satan says, “Command that these stones be made bread;” the Lord answers He is come to obey. For it is written that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Then Satan tells Him to cast Himself down (that is, not to trust God), but is told, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” These are wiles; but when Satan comes openly, then resist Satan. “Get thee hence, Satan:” then he flees. “We have not to overcome him who is overcome; but we have to overcome his wiles by the word in obedience.
The only effect of trying circumstances is to give much deeper acquaintance with the Lord's faithfulness, and to give much deeper joy. At the end of four years in prison Paul could say, “Rejoice in the Lord always:” he had nothing else to rejoice in. He says, as it were, “the more I know of every trial and hindrance in my work as an apostle, the more I can tell you, You can rejoice in the Lord always.” It is a beautiful thing to see Paul the person to say, You must be always rejoicing. The thing that hinders our rejoicing is not trouble, but being half and half. If in the world, his conscience reproaches the Christian; if he meets spiritual Christians, he is uncomfortable there; in fact he is happy nowhere. A man's affections do not hinder his work for his children. If we were serving Christ simply, we should go back to Him all the happier when the service is done. We never can give a reason for not rejoicing in Christ, except the evil of our hearts. Here we get what is so important practically—to rejoice always. Any one can rejoice in the Lord when the Lord gives him what he likes. “Bless the Lord at all times:” that is the testing point. “In everything give thanks.” “Jehovah is my shepherd: I shall not want;” not, “I have got blessing and I shall not want,” but “Jehovah is my shepherd: I shall not want.” “He restoreth my soul.” He stood by me when in misery, sorrow, failure it may be. I may get my own weakness, death in the way; but the table is spread in the very presence of my enemies (like Joshua and the Israelite eating at the Passover, before ever a blow was struck). God's natural work is v to give us green pastures and still waters; but He makes everything work together for our good: it is not the circumstances, it is the Lord. “I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.” After the sorrowful and trying things Paul had passed through, he is full of comfort. He had had green pastures, pleasant things from the Lord; but he rejoices all through, whatever the circumstances.
Again, he says, “Let your moderation [yielding-ness] be known unto all men: the Lord is at hand.” He does not insist upon his rights, because he trusts the Lord; he is not careful. Abraham says to Lot, “Go to the left and I will go to the right.” Lot chooses Sodom—always the effect of choosing for oneself. The part Abraham seemed to have lost was Sodom and Gomorrah, soon covered by the Dead Sea.
Then there is another exceedingly strong thing connected with it: how long is this going to last? “The Lord is at hand.” You have got your joy and strength elsewhere, and “the fashion of this world passeth away.” If conscious that my portion is in Christ, the looking for the Lord, who is my portion, makes me to sit loose to everything here. If our expectation, if the feeling of our hearts, is that the Lord is at hand, (I do not mean prophecy, but the personal expectation of the saint himself,) it must be so. What event is there between you and heaven? The only one is our going up there. If I am looking for Christ to come straight down from heaven and take me up, what event is there between? It is no great wonder if the Christian has power to go through circumstances to master them; he has joy in the Lord that nothing can touch. In waiting for Christ what must be done before He comes? “The day and the hour knoweth no man;” but there is only one thing that must be done, the gathering in of the saints. “The longsuffering of God is salvation.” “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise,” but He is waiting on poor sinners. Prophecy does not prophesy of heaven; faith looks to heaven, and sees what is there. Prophecy is God's politics, and it saves us from human politics—a great mercy too. Our portion is Christ Himself.
There are trials in the way; but then you get, “Be careful for nothing.” This is a magnificent sentence! It leaves no loophole. It has often stopped my mouth completely when I have thought of the church, the saints. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known unto God.” He does not say, Do you go and find the will of God, but reckon on God that you are going to get the best thing. Present your requests to God; thank Him before you get them. He does not say you will get them always; it is the interest which God takes in us that is the point here. Paul besought the Lord three times that the thorn should be taken away; “Indeed I am not going to take away what I sent for your good:” such virtually was the answer. “My grace is sufficient for you.”
“And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts.” This is not peace with God; or that your heart keeps the peace either. The peace keeps your heart, and it is the peace of God, the peace He is in. My own peace I understand very well. The peace He is in keeps my heart, and it passes all understanding—of course it does, because it is “the peace of God.” I do not know what I may get; but of one thing I am sure—I shall get the very best thing, though it may come in a way very grating to my feelings.
When this is the case, I can think of what is good. God thinks of my trouble; I can now think of what is good. “Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are of good report......if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” What a blessed condition of soul this is, beloved friends! There is no burden in my cares: I cannot burden God, when I put them there. “And the God of peace shall be with you.” Cast your care on God, and the peace of God will keep you; walk as a Christian ought to walk, and the God of peace will be with you. You have a companion in the path of trouble and sorrow, and such a companion too! “The God of peace!” He is never called the God of joy. Joy is an uncertain thing; peace is always there. This word continually through scripture is attached to God's name. Where peace is there is no trouble.
Rejoicing in the Lord always, his moderation known unto all men, the Lord at hand, no care—what a happy picture of the Christian!
There is more: “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again, wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.” Observe the delicacy of the apostle here; “I am glad that at the last” —this proves that he had been in trouble, in want—I do not mean you were forgetting me, but ye lacked opportunity. “I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content;” this is the effect of trusting Christ in it all. “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound.” He was in abundance sometimes; and this is much more dangerous: we are apt to rest in the gift instead of looking at the giver; but with Paul it brought out only thankfulness. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” This is the epistle of experience. It is not people can do all things, but “I can do all things;” Christ is always sufficient. Paul found it so; he had gone through perils of all kinds, but Christ was always sufficient; he was in abundance now, but Christ in all things was sufficient. It is a blessed truth that, though we may fail Him, we cannot be in circumstances Christ is not sufficient for. Whether it be the Church or individual saints, it is impossible to be in a place for which Christ is not sufficient. Paul was in danger from the flesh, and a thorn was sent to him. The thorn was something which made him in some way despicable in his ministry. The wonderful effect of his preaching, then, did not come from him; the evidence of the power of Christ was there. “Then let me have it,” Paul says: “I glory in my infirmities.” The thorn was not power, but it was the way of power; the flesh is broken down completely that Christ may come in. If there had been a fourth heaven, the flesh would have been only the more puffed up: you cannot correct what is evil in its nature. What came to make nothing of Paul is not power, but Christ is there. 2 Cor. 12 takes two sides; we have there a man in Christ (a man in the flesh totally put down) and then Christ in a man, the other side of the Christian life—the power of Christ in us, and with us.
Do not say, “A Christian can do all things;” it is quite true in the abstract, but not what the apostle says. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” “I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content.” He found Christ always sufficient. His whole heart was full at the same time of affectionate remembrance of the Philippians. “Even at Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.”
I think it is beautiful how the apostle does not take himself out of a man. Superiority is to go through circumstances and feel them all, and yet be above them. Look how he speaks of Epaphroditus in Phil. 2 As a doctrine, if he had died, he would have gone to heaven; but it was not that: he felt it as it was, it was not a hard thing that cast off the trial. When the Lord saw the widow, “He was moved with Compassion.” There was no insensibility in Him, but in going through the circumstances He was sensible of them, yet above them. The way we should walk is as never governed by circumstances; not in insensibility', but in superiority. Christ is the answer to it: cast your care on Him.
Paul attaches all the importance of divine grace to their service. You see what a link there is in the church of God even in gifts: poor old bed-ridden women may have prayed for Paul! “My God shall supply all your need” — “my God,” he knew Him— “the God I know, the One I have been with” —as if answering for the God he knew. How his heart gets up to the source of it all! The heart gets back to God. What was to be the measure of supply? Was it their need? No, “his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” We find here a blessed picture of the way in which the Spirit of God lifts him, while feeling everything, above the circumstances. It is perfect impressibility by the circumstances here below, but we have this source of strength in Christ Himself. The thing I have to learn is my own weakness.
We make a mistake about the apostles, we often think of them as if they were eagles soaring above all. Paul says, “I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling.” There were great people in Corinth; Paul was a blessed vessel, but the vessel must be made nothing of. What we have to learn is being nothing that Christ may be everything. If a person is humble he does not want to be humbled; but if he is not humble, he must be.
Are we content to be nothing? Are we content to walk in the secret of God? The Lord give us to learn practically what it is thus to pass through this world. You can get neither the Christian nor the church in a state that Christ is not sufficient for.
The Lord give us to know our nothingness.

What Is the Unity of the Church? (Duplicate): Part 2

The question is no longer Bethesda; but can an assembly which knowingly admits grave errors be recognized as an assembly of God, and those who are accomplices in the thing be held to be innocent, although they support evil, because they are not themselves blasphemers? In 2 Tim. 2 we are enjoined to purge ourselves from vessels to dishonor: is it purging ourselves to be in full communion with them? 1 Cor. 5 and 2 Cor. 7 settle the question for me as to the condition of those who support evil without being themselves personally guilty.
There are many things I might take up in Mr. O.'s tract, but that is not my object. When it is said (p. 2), “The church is begotten of God,” no passage quoted speaks of the church. It is not begotten of God; individuals are. It is not their being begotten of God which constitutes them members of the church, but the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I do not know in what sense Mr. O. thinks the apostle said to the church at Corinth, “Ye are the body of Christ.” But I am not occupied with these things. I only keep to the fact that the tract is a plan of adhesion to a system which denies the true unity of the church, which establishes independent churches, and which justifies a discipline or rather a lack of faithfulness to Christ. This turns what are called holy assemblies into a snare for the simple to entrap them into false and injurious doctrines, and to destroy integrity of conscience—the certain result of all false doctrine.
I believe, not that the public apostacy is yet come, but that, in the spirit of the thing, it took place long ago; just as there were many antichrists although the Antichrist was not there. Now Antichrist, at least the man of sin, is connected with the apostacy. Mr. O. wishes dismemberment. It would be impertinence on my part to contend with Mr. O. about the import of French words; but in the things of God there is something more than words. I find the word he has chosen the most unfortunate possible. The proper meaning of it is the act of tearing away a member from a body. It is employed for the division of a state, a kingdom, &c. But when it is used figuratively, something of the real meaning always remains. It is the greater force coming from without, which divides. Poland and Bavaria have been dismembered. And if one speaks of the dismemberment of a society so that it is divided into several parts, it always leaves the idea of an effect produced on the society. It matters little if the members are agreed about it: the society suffers violence: something of the original thought remains. Now I admit that the apostacy in the full and complete sense of the word has not arrived, and that the application of this term to the Romish system (an application made by the mass of Protestant writers) went beyond the true force of the word. But let it be remarked that the apostacy is the fault of the church on earth; it had lost its first love; it had had time to repent and had not repented; it had a name to live and was dead; it was to be spewed out of the Savior's mouth. This was a moral condition for which the church was responsible; and if the apostacy has not come, we have reached such a point in that direction that the distance which separates us from it is scarcely appreciable: only the Spirit of God is acting in a remarkable manner. After all Mr. O. now admits the fall of the church, which is the important thing. But dismemberment (a frightful word when the body of Christ is in question) which Mr. O. can make use of because the true idea of the body has no place in his thoughts—dismemberment is only a fact. The apostacy, or the tendency to apostacy, expresses the thought (crushing, if the grace of the Lord were not revealed) of the unfaithfulness of the church to the One who has so loved it. But there is something more. If it be a question of the body of Christ and of members united to the Head in heaven, the dismemberment of the church is a horror. If the church on earth be a simple society, then it becomes dismembered or is divided or decomposed. Now Mr. O. has not the least idea of the unity of the body, nor of the responsibility of the church to maintain that position which it has never had in his eyes. It was a society composed of several local societies. To divide might perhaps be an evil, but an evil which happens to an earthly society. “The church at Corinth, notwithstanding its disorders, was not dismembered in Paul's time; and he could still say to them, Ye are the body of Christ” (p. 3). If Mr. O. had the least idea of the body of Christ, this phrase would have been impossible; it has no meaning for anyone who understands what the body is.
I may be permitted to add a few words with regard to the two points of view in which the word of God looks at the house. Christ (Matt. 16) builds the house, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It is Christ who builds; the house is not yet completed. In 1 Peter 2 the living stones are added; there is no human architect. In Eph. 2 the building fitly framed together grows up unto a holy temple in the Lord. But in 1 Cor. 3 we find quite another thing. Paul is a wise builder; every one must take care how he builds. There we have the responsibility of man, although the building may be called the building of God. He who, being a Christian, builds well has a reward; but the one who, although a Christian on the foundation, builds badly will lose his labor, but he is saved. There is a third class: he who corrupts others will himself be destroyed. Now Popery and the ritualistic system have confounded the temple that Jesus Christ is building, and which grows up into a temple, with that which depends on man's responsibility—a grave and fatal error. They do the same as to the body. But there was responsibility to maintain the unity of the Spirit, and thus the manifestation of the unity of the body, and the church failed in it: then it confounded the body with what man has built. The unity in John 17 is not the unity of the body; John never speaks of the church. He speaks there of a unity of brethren or of disciples which would in fact manifest the power of the Spirit of God.
Mr. O. refers us to another pamphlet on “Elders,” &c. He wished to name some whenever the minds of brethren might be prepared to receive them. As an authority for this, having thrown overboard the old dissenting principles, he has only this reasoning, namely, that the apostles must necessarily have provided for the future of the church—a point already discussed with M. de G.— which is nothing but a piece of reasoning and of false reasoning, for it supposes that God wished Christians to know that the church would subsist long upon the earth, thus destroying the present expectation of the Lord, which His word avoids in a most remarkable manner by insisting upon that expectation. I believe, in common with many Christians, that the seven churches give the history of Christianity, but God took up churches which were then in existence in order not to take Christians out of this position of continual expectation. The virgins who sleep are those who awake. The servants, who received the talents on the departure of the master, are those who are judged at his return; the duration of the delay does not go beyond the life of the men. “If I will that he tarry till I come,” says the Lord. “We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord,” says the apostle. “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord,” says again the Lord. An expectation of every day is not only an idea but was what characterized the early disciples. They were converted to wait for His Son from heaven, and God is not slack concerning His promise. But as to any arrangement which supposes a long continuance of the church, on earth, there is no trace of it in the word.
To support this false idea, Mr. O. has recourse to a passage from Clement of Rome—a fatal sign when one has to go outside the word to support one's thesis. But the phrase, by which Clement tries to explain his views on this point, is most obscure. One of the terms employed is a word entirely unknown, except as used in quite another sense in Plutarch, and is not found at all in Alexandre's dictionary. Even the meaning of the phrase is contested. In general it is applied to the death of the elders named by the apostles. But there are grave theologians who apply the words “when they should have fallen asleep” to the apostles and insist upon the passage as a proof of episcopacy, admitting that there is nothing of that kind in the word of God, but that the apostles, in the prospect of their departure, arranged that other tried men should succeed them in their authority, a position, that Mr. O., if I have rightly understood him, arrogates to himself, by putting himself among the number of those who have replaced the apostles as ἐλλόγιμοι ἄνδρες. I do not accept this interpretation of the passage from Clement which they support by the δεύτεραι διατάξεις of a passage from Irenaeus (if indeed the fragment is his), and by the nomination of Simeon as the successor of James by a convention of the apostles who were still living, of which Eusebius and other patristic authorities speak. But what a poor foundation is all this in comparison of the word of God, given for all times by God Himself, the divine light in the midst of the darkness of this world.
Now this is the main point of the matter. What gave rise to the existence of the so-called Plymouth Brethren is the grand truth, the great fact, of the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, to form the body of Christ into one; then the coming of the Savior as the continual expectation of the Christian. These two truths Mr. O.'s pamphlet denies.
There are three principal positions of Christ as Savior: on the cross accomplishing redemption; at the right hand of God, whence He sends the Holy Spirit; and returning to fetch us and to judge the world. The first truth is the gospel preached to man as a sinner. The last two have been clearly brought out again in these latter times and are those which have aroused attention, and have placed the so-called Plymouth Brethren in their present position; they also throw immense light upon the first truth. The evangelical world will not receive them. From that time nothing but conflict and opprobrium, as is always the case with truths freshly brought to light. Mr. O. admits many minor consequences; but his pamphlet entirely denies the real ground of the truth on these points. He wants a unity formed of; local and independent churches, having the same faith and the same worship; and he wishes to prove by reasonings, or rather to suppose, that the apostles taught! Christians to expect a long course of centuries before the Lord should come. That is to say, he still denies the great truths necessary for Christians in these days.! I state the fact because I believe it to be important for Christians, begging Mr. O. to be assured that there is not a trace of hostility in my heart. When evil comes in like a flood, it is not the moment for Christians to be tearing one another, however firm one may be in maintaining the principles that one is assured have been drawn from the word of God.

When the Son of Man Cometh Will He Find Faith

Such was the text of a recent sermon by the Master of Balliol College, Oxford. The discourse is no inapt illustration in a way unseen and unintended by the preacher. It proves the vacuum before his own mind; and in this Professor Jowett is but symptomatic of a state which spreads far and wide. Neither the person of the Lord nor the written word of God commands his soul so as to cast down reasonings, with every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. He speaks of men in many ages of the Christian church expecting Christ quickly. The question is, What did the Holy Ghost sanction in scripture? But here too he is quite at sea. Some of the words of our Lord Himself seem (as he says, for he has no certainty) to favor the expectation (rather loosely citing Mark 9, and Matt. 24:34); while in other passages He refuses to speak of “the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.” So is set Paul against Paul, as if 1. Thess. 4: 17 clashed with Phil. 2:23: and no wonder, for if the Master could be inconsistent with Himself, why not the servant? But even this perhaps yields to the words that follow: “And in the first century of the Christian era the same expectation was widely spread, some affirming that Christ would reign for a thousand years; others again imagining that His reappearance was delayed a little while; others were saying as we might do, 'Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers have fallen asleep, all things have remained as they were from the beginning.'“ What an avowal at Mary's! “Others were saying as we might do, 'where is the promise of his coming!'“ Is the Apostle John merely among the some affirming that Christ would reign for a thousand years?
Professor J. did not seem aware that he was applying to himself and his friends the description the Apostle Peter gives prophetically of the scoffers in the last days. Nor can any application really be more just. The sermon as a whole is thorough incredulity as to the Lord's coming again.
One is thankful to assure the Professor that there are thousands of Christians, much more intelligent in the scriptures than any he can produce from Oxford, who cherish the same hope in which the apostles lived and died, who wait for the Lord day by day, sure because of express scripture that He is coming quickly, but fixing no date whatever whether of year or day, yet satisfied that the exact time was purposely undisclosed that the believer from first to last might be always expecting. Men and their opinions have passed away; but that blessed hope abides livingly, and will, till Jesus come and receive us to Himself.
It is fully owned that both Jew's and Christians have indulged in groundless fancies about the millennium. The true point however is What have inspired men revealed for our faith? Did not the Lord inculcate constant waiting for Himself in Matt. 25:1-13, Luke 12:35-40, John 14: 2, 3? Did not the apostles without exception who wrote? Are these words of theirs either ambiguous or baseless? Will the Regius Professor of Greek venture to say, that the apostolic doctrine as to the Lord's return has been refuted by universal experience? Infidels have said so: what does the Master of Balliol think? He has said enough to raise a question of himself. I am far from agreeing that faith in the prophetic word enfeebles the Christian elsewhere. Indeed he himself is an example that unbelief in God's revelation of the future is characterized by a loose hold of Christian truth generally: and we have already seen that, instead of reading aright the signs of the times, he is unwittingly an instance of the blinding power of the age. Nor can it be otherwise with one who assumes to divine the future from the present, instead of seeking to apply the end as God reveals it in order to judge the various roads which lead to it.
Professor J. fairly gives up attempting to explain the meaning of Christ's coming again. Certainly it is wiser and better than pretending to speak of what he knows nothing; but what a confession on the part of one who is by his office professedly a steward of the mysteries of God! What may be the force of his citing as to this the Apostle Paul's words in 2 Cor. 12 (“whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell") is hard to say, though it looks like leading men into nonsense, to borrow his own words. But I am sure that neither the mother of Zebedee's children nor any other ever put to Christ the question whether His saints and apostles shall reign with Him, sitting upon thrones and judging the kingdoms of the earth. The Professor has forgotten his Bible and seems never to have read the New Testament with care. It is the positive declaration of the Savior that in the regeneration when He sits on the throne of His glory, His followers are to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28.) What the mother of James and John asked was that her two sons might have the best places next the king in that day of glory. (Matt. 20:21.) The first never was a question; the second received a distinct answer at once, instead of these being “questions which never have an answer.” Many heathen in ancient and in modern times have shown more knowledge of the Christ they were opposing than the Master of Balliol before the University of Oxford in our day. It is the more humbling to see such deplorable ignorance and incredulity in an amiable man who has written a comment on Paul's Epistles. Had he forgotten or did he not believe such a plain statement as 1 Cor. 6:2, 3? The apostle appeals to the common knowledge, which the Corinthians could not but possess that the saints shall judge the world and angels too; but perhaps all this to Professor J. is only to “argue about poetry or figures of speech.”
We need not follow the very imperfect and faulty endeavor that follows to present “the nature of that struggle which was passing in Christ's mind.” Suffice it to say that the Lord is painfully brought down to the level of an Elijah or a Paul, without one true notion of His proper humiliation or of His rejection, still less of His atonement. I believe that the Lord if on earth would, as He will, judge most severely the guilty and degraded state of Christendom. (Luke 12:45-48.) But it is not by skepticism, any more than by superstition, that His servants will gain His approval or help souls now stumbling through this dark world. A greater muddle of scripture can scarcely be conceived than the professor's allusions to our Lord's words or a more random application to passing events, his own circumstances apparently being much before his mind though perhaps unconsciously. But for the proof of this there is no space here, nor would my readers relish occupation with such trifles. Suffice it to say that the great discrepancy is owned between Christ's teaching and things as they are. Only let none imagine that a rationalist has the smallest thought of suffering for the truth's sake. It is sentiment or talk, and nothing more. Such men have none of the faith which makes a confessor or a martyr.
His third point is “shall he find faith upon the earth?” His extraordinary paraphrase of this is, “in other words, ‘What prospect is there of any great moral or religious improvement among mankind?"' He has nothing before his eye but the gradual amelioration of society; he thinks of a new epoch bearing the same relation to the last three centuries which the Reformation did to the ages that preceded; and he is assured that there never will be a millennium on earth until we make one! Yet no doubt that very day the preacher had joined decorously in two if not the three creeds, acknowledging in these formularies Christ's coming to judge the quick and the dead, and His kingdom which will have no end. Is all this poetry and figure? To him it would appear so. There are those who believe the truth on God's authority, who would decline to join in creeds which are daily becoming more and more a mockery, as all things human will.

In Christ and Christ in Us

(2 Cor. 12)
Occasionally a chapter like this brings out a complete picture of certain truth as a whole. There were judaizing teachers who were calling in question Paul's apostleship, and he appeals to the Corinthians in a remarkable way in the following chapter to judge themselves. He had been the means of their conversion: If you want to know my apostleship, “examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith.” This is not a precept at all, but a taunt, though a gracious one of course. If Christ is in you, where did you get Him? Through my ministry. He had been obliged to go over the ground of chapter 11, and, having done so, he says, “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.” I come now not to what I have done for the Lord, but to what the Lord has done for me. What is so remarkable in this chapter is, that it begins with the highest place a Christian can be in, and it ends with the lowest, even actual sin.
Paul, though greatly comforted by the report Titus had brought at the beginning of the epistle, was still a little uneasy about the Corinthians. (Ver. 20, 21.) “We do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.”
In that way we find the highest place the Christian can be in, the third heaven; and the lowest place of actual sin. They are the extremes at both ends in this picture of the Christian condition; but there is also the ordinary condition of the Christian. “I know [not 'knew'] a man in Christ;” he speaks not of himself, though it was himself plainly enough, but of “a man in Christ,” such a one caught “up to the third heaven.” He was caught up in an extraordinary way, and he had an apostolic vision, which strengthened his faith for service; still his place could not be more than “in Christ.” Every man that has the Spirit of Christ is in Christ. “There is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
Our place before God is there; we are in Christ before God. We learn the blessed truth, that Christians are in Christ. We find Christ in a man too farther on in the chapter. “In Christ” is put in direct contrast with being in the flesh. We never have the true apprehension of our standing till we find this that we are in Christ. The treasure is in an earthen vessel, but our place before God is simply that, and only that. Therefore the apostle says in Rom. 6!.."when we were in the flesh.” This is describing the condition of a person where he is not in Christ. I could not say “when I was at B.” while I am there; I could say “when I was in England” after I have left it. Do you know in the consciousness of your souls that you are not in the flesh at all? Taking your place and standing before God, it is not your place at all. In the state of your mind, you may be in the flesh, for want of instruction; but if you were really in the flesh, there must be condemnation. “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” Is this my state before God? It is all the opposite to that of being in Christ. If you really believe, if you have the Spirit of Christ, you are not in the flesh at all, but in Christ, who is in the third heavens, or above all heavens. This is a different thing from mere forgiveness. As a child of Adam I am found out of the earthly paradise, and my mind is enmity against God. Christ comes, accomplishes blessed redemption for the vilest, and brings the believer to God.
A man's being in prison is his condition, not his guilt. Adam was driven from paradise, but this was not his guilt, but the punishment of it; beside that, his will was enmity against God. There is the putting away of all this by Christ. If the sinner feels he is defiled by sin, he is cleansed by Christ; if the believer feels he is guilty, he is forgiven; if men believe Him whom they have offended, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” The work of the Lord Jesus Christ is a perfect answer to God. We get first our need met through the Lord and Savior; but there is another thing, not what we have done, but what we are—our condition and state connected with it, as the tree is connected with the fruit.
We are out of the earthly paradise, and certainly we are not in the heavenly paradise. But the believer is brought out of where he was. There he is looked at as dying in Christ. Washed in His precious blood, and having His Spirit in me, I know then that I died with Him, and I reckon myself dead. “Ye are dead.” How am I alive then? “And your life is hid with Christ in God.” I have a life in Christ which makes me free from the old life; I may be foolish and yield to it—quite true. “What the law could not do.... God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” The tree as contrasted with the fruit has been condemned, but condemned to death: so I have done with it. Then what are you? In Christ, not in Adam. “In the flesh” is a condition I have nothing more to say to, as being in it. God has brought us to Himself in Christ; we are in Christ before God, and there only before God. By virtue of His precious blood, the Holy Ghost takes His abode in us; then I can say, I am in Christ, and Christ is in me. Not only has Christ cleared away the sin, but He has taken me out of the place I was in and put me into a new one. My place before God is only in Christ, and in Christ consequent on His having borne my sins, consequent on Satan's having done His worst, consequent on the cup of wrath having been drunk. The Christ I know is the one who has accomplished the wonderful work of redemption.
This makes one understand what the apostle speaks of here, “a man in Christ.” I will glory in that man, but of myself I will not glory. So we ought always, beloved friends, because it is all of grace. The Christian has died in Christ, he is risen in Christ; and we have been made “to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” By redemption He has taken us out of the condition we were in, and the flesh is a condemned thing. “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Beloved friends, let me ask you, do you know what it is to be in Christ? If not, do not rest till you do. It is harder to understand that we are in Christ than that we are forgiven. A man rejoices when he knows his sins are forgiven; but what gives real depth is knowing that we are out of that condition.
At the Red Sea the Israelites were desired to “stand still and see the salvation of God:” God was not a judge kept outside as before. Just look at the apostle before Agrippa: “would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” —not “would to God that all that hear me were Christians.” Was this vanity or pride? Far from it; but he was conscious of his place in Christ. It was not a matter of attainment; the apostle would have shrunk from that more than any of us. Could you say, as to the privileges that belong to you, “would to God that.....all that hear me.....were both almost and altogether such as I am?”
Christ being risen has become the Christian's life, who treats the flesh as a thing dead and gone; before God he is in this new condition in Christ.
The Christ who has become my life (I say Christ has become my life, and Christ in that very power in which He rose from the dead), the Christ who is my life, is past the wrath, past the sins, past death, past everything. Where is Christ? Far above all heavens. Looking up, I can say, The Christ who is this perfectness is in the presence of God for me!
See what a difference it is. You cannot impute sin, as a present thing, to a dead man. And such is before God the truth in Christ of the Christian. He is justified and cleared from everything because he is not in the flesh; he is dead. Such is the blessed place into which we are thus brought. How do I get this? By having Christ's life in me, and the blessed One before God for me. This is not all; for in point of fact “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” We have an apostolic vision in this chapter; what effect had it on the flesh? It was “puffed up.” Now Paul, not one has ever been in the third heaven but you! Only see the way the flesh is judged there! Leave the flesh without law, and it is lawless; put it under law, it breaks law; put it in connection with Christ, it crucifies Him; put the Holy Ghost in a man, the flesh lusts against Him; take a man to the third heaven, it is puffed up; and, if there were a fourth heaven, flesh would be more puffed up still. The remedy is—not more grace, but keeping it utterly down.
The new man is obedient and dependent; it is not an independent thing that sets up to act for itself. I am dependent on His grace every instant. The flesh will not be this. Satan tried Christ. “Command that these stones he made bread,” but He remained in dependence and obedience. Satan would have us, if we know these amazing privileges, to get out of dependence into self-will. What is to be done to keep practically dead? “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.” If we are in Christ before God, Christ is in us. We have divine life; we want power to live in obedience and in constant dependence. “The heart is deceitful above all things: who can know it?” God does know it. Paul was in danger here, but the Lord had thought about all that, and He has the remedy all ready— “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him.” What a comfort it is to us, if we are in earnest, if we seek to serve and to glorify God down here, that the eye of the Lord Jesus is never off us! “He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous.” Let us remember the flesh never can be made any better; but Christ is continually thinking of us to do the needed thing. What does He do? He puts down the flesh. How does He deal with us? He makes nothing of us; and this is not at all pleasant.
The Lord took care by this thorn in the flesh that Paul should be a person in some way contemptible. Paul asked three times that it should be taken away. Not at all, the Lord says: I have given it on purpose; I must make nothing of Paul, that Christ may be everything in Paul. Do you say you are in Christ before God, and loved as Christ is loved? Take care, however; you are in a place of temptation; you have to bear “about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” I reckon myself dead, if I talk of my place before God; I bear about the dying of the Lord Jesus, if I am to manifest the life of Christ in this world. Nature, of course, does not like that; but, if we are to manifest the life of Christ, the flesh must be put down.
Reckon yourselves to be dead, because Christ has died. When you go down to this world, the only possible dealing with the flesh is making nothing of you. This is not power, but it is the way God deals with us to give power, whether to an apostle or to the giver of a cup of cold water. If you are in Christ, one wants nothing but Christ from you. The thorn is not power in itself, but preparation for power. Suppose Paul despicable in his ministry: well, there never was such a work done before. Then there must be something besides Paul here; Christ must be here. Ah! says Paul, “I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” His strength is made perfect in weakness. He cannot make it perfect in our strength! I am as weak as water—a poor weak thing: God has chosen that no flesh may glory in His presence. Where a person is nothing, “my grace is sufficient.” Where is His strength made perfect? In a person who has no strength at all: then it must be Christ. When I am made nothing of, “I glory in my infirmities.” There is what the Christian is.
God says, I am dead, and loved as Christ is loved. My place is in Christ, and in Christ only. Experience contradicts this. So I have to find out that the flesh is a judged and dead thing. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live.” If in point of fact the flesh is there, it is a judged thing. If I know that my servant is a rogue, I keep my things all locked up, and so they are safe; not that he is changed, but that the state of things is changed. When the flesh is really distrusted, though it is there, there is not a twentieth part of the danger. The Lord keeps me then; He sends a thorn, if needed, to put me down completely. When the flesh is practically put down and in its place, then Christ's strength is made perfect in weakness, for there can be no doubt that it is His power. Are your hearts content that self should be put down? Are you glad of it? Can you glory in infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon you?
If we seek to live Christ, if we are conscious that our portion is Christ, we shall want more of that kind of putting down of the flesh. We want more depth—all of us—showing us what the flesh is, and what Christ is. The time is coming when we shall see that all the rest was worse than vanity, stunting the life of Christ, instead of mortifying our members on the earth.
The Lord give us so to see Christ that we may now say with the apostle “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord!”

Scripture Query and Answer: Citation of Jeremiah or Zechariah?

Q. Matt. 27:9.—Why does Matthew here quote the prophecy as Jeremiah, when it is really Zechariah?
A Christian Friend.
A. The difficulty is due to the Jewish manner of citation, felt by many friends of inspiration and often pressed by adversaries. But it is remarkable that R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, in his determined assault on Matthew's credit, finds no objection to the use of Jeremiah's name instead of Zechariah's in this place. Yet it is almost incredible that he could have overlooked so obvious a peculiarity if he had regarded it as a fault, as he does object to Matthew's application of this prophecy to the Messiah, but not to his method of citing which to us westerns is apt to look strange. Hence the just inference appears to be that this learned Jew knew that such a form of citation was even more characteristically Jewish (and therefore appropriate in Matthew) than the more simple and precise mention of the particular prophet in question.
The true point then is the principle on which the inspired writer thus cited. The imputation that he did not know the very palpable fact that the passage used was in Zechariah is even on human grounds absurd; for the evangelist abounds in the most profound and accurate use of the Old Testament throughout, and hence cannot fairly lie open to the charge of such a blunder as would be unworthy of an intelligent Sunday scholar.
Now it appears from a great Rabbinical authority (T. Bava Bathra, fol. 14, 2) that Jeremiah stood as a beginning and title to the later prophets, Joshua to the earlier, as contradistinguished from the law and the Chetubim. Hence a citation from the later prophets (or what we should call the prophets) might well be made under the name of Jeremiah, no matter which was quoted in particular; especially as it appears from Sepher Hagilgulim (according to Surenhusius) that it was a common saying among the Jews that the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah. It is a familiar fact attested by our Lord in the New Testament that the Old Testament was divided into the law, the psalms, and the prophets, which latter we have seen subdivided in the manner already described.
So the best copies of Mark 1:2 read (not in the prophets, but) “in the prophet Isaiah,” though two passages are cited, the latter of which only is Isaiah's, the former from Malachi. This may show how differently from us the Jews quoted. But ignorance or error is out of the question: they really attach to translators and copyists who tried to amend the true reading in some Greek copies and ancient versions of both these scriptures. It is the best wisdom and the simplest faith to accept scripture in its most accurate form in spite of difficulties, which the Spirit of God wilt enable us to solve if for His glory. But were the difficulties more and greater, could we not trust Him?


Printed by George Morrish, 24, Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row, E.C

New Translation Psalms 48

Book Second
Chap. 48
1 A song; a psalm for the sons of Korah,
2 Great [is] Jehovah and exceedingly praised, in the city of our God, the mountain of his holiness.
3 Beautiful for elevation, the joy of the whole earth [is] the mountain of Zion, [on] the sides of the north; the city of the great King.
4 God hath been known in her palaces as a refuge.
5 For lo! the kings met, they passed through together.
6 They saw, so they wondered, they were terrified, they fled in alarm.
7 Trembling seized them there, pain as of one bringing forth.
8 With an east wind thou breakest the ships of Tarshish.
9 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of Jehovah of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish her forever. Selah.
10 We have meditated on thy mercy, Ο God, in the midst of thy temple.
11 According to thy name, Ο God, so is thy praise, unto the ends of the earth: of righteousness is thy right hand full.
12 Mount Zion rejoiceth, the daughters of Judah exult because of thy judgments.
13 Surround ye Zion and encompass her; count ye her towers.
14 Set your heart to her rampart; consider her palaces, that ye may recount to the generation following.
15 For this God [is] our God [for] ever and ever; he will lead us unto death.

Notes on Ezekiel 12

After the introductory cluster of visions the prophet was given to impress on the people the certainty of the approaching and more complete downfall of all their hopes for the present; for to fond and vain expectations clung not only the haughty remnant in the land but even many of the captives on the Chebar.
“And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not; for they are a rebellions house. Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee articles for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house. Then shalt thou bring forth thine articles by day in their sight, as articles for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity. Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby. In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight: thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel.” (Ver. 1-6.) It was a symbolical representation that the land should be swept once more with the besom of destruction, instead of the speedy return and deliverance for which the mass of the Jews looked spite of every divine assurance to the contrary.
Hence we see that Jehovah in a lively way would here fix on the conscience of the captives the folly of indulging in such dreams. For alas! they were rebellious, yea, the rebellious house. Moses had reproached them in his song as a perverse and crooked and very froward generation, children in whom was no faith; and David in the ascension psalm (68.) had characterized them as “the rebellious.” If Ezekiel hears and has to repeat the divine sentence to the same effect, it is no new thing, but rather the manifestation, when judgment was in course of execution, that the old evil was rampant, which neither the fresh vigor of youth had extirpated, nor their national prime and power. It was no mere rising, or bright spot, but an active, deep, and old plague of leprosy. “And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my articles by day, as articles for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.” (Ver. 7.)
The next message explains all plainly and fully. “And in the morning came the word of Jehovah unto me, saying, Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou? Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them. Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity. And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes. My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there. And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them. And they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries. But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.” (Ver. 8-16.) It is assumed that an action, so strange on the prophet's part as preparing for departure by day and taking it muffled in the darkness of night, would arouse the Jews; and here was the answer he must give. The prince in Jerusalem, Zedekiah, and all the house of Israel there, were intended by this “burden” or “oracle.” And very strikingly were both this prediction and Jeremiah's fulfilled to the letter. Josephus says that the king fancying a contradiction made up his mind to believe neither. Certain it is that Zedekiah did not escape the Chaldeans, but was delivered into the hands of the Babylonian king, and spoke to him mouth to mouth, and his eyes beheld his eyes; equally certain that after being taken in a snare he was brought to Babylon, and yet did not see it though he died there. The covering of the prophet's face so that he should not see the ground was but a shadow of the stern reality. How solemn and humiliating for Jehovah's people to know that He is Jehovah by His desolating and dispersing judgments! Yet even this would He turn to account, leaving a few from this judgment to declare all their abominations among the heathen; for who could so gravely bear witness against idolatry as those that had thus suffered through yielding to the snare?
Next, Ezekiel was to be a representative man to the people of the land in partaking of bread and water with every token of alarm. “And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness; and say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein. And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.” (Ver. 17-20.)
The chapter closes with messages which rebuke the incredulity of the people in the prophetic word, so common as to become proverbial. “And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth? Tell them therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision. For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am Jehovah: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, Ο rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord Jehovah. Again the word of Jehovah came to me saying, Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off. Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord Jehovah.” (Ver. 21-28.) God would give in that day such an earnest of all that is coming that people could not for shame put all off to the end of days. “In your days, Ο rebellious house, I will say the word, and it shall be performed, saith the Lord Jehovah.” What a testimony to man's dislike of God in that be so readily swallows the enemy's bait that the time of fulfillment is far off! He does not like God's interference, whose kingdom in any full sense is intolerable. But what says the prophet Ezekiel? “None of my words shall be longer deferred: for I will speak a word, and it shall be performed, saith the Lord Jehovah.”

Notes on Matthew 8

In what precedes we have a sketch of the Lord's ministry and of the principles of His kingdom. It is a complete whole. In what follows we see Him as He is presented personally to the people with the re-suit of this presentation. He is rejected by Israel, and Israel is replaced for the moment by the church and the kingdom, though owned anew in grace when the kingdom shall be restored. For the moment it is the personal presentation of the Lord to the people with the consequences of this presentation. As He descended from the mountain with the crowd, a leper came to meet Him. Now Jehovah alone healed leprosy. The man had learned that Jesus possessed the necessary power, but was not assured of His good will. If thou wilt, said he, thou canst cure it. But love and power were found there: Jehovah was there in grace to heal. I will, said Jesus, be thou clean. To whom did it pertain to say thus, I will: be thou? To One only: and the thing was done. But He who said so was also there to draw near the man, as Himself man, He lays His hand on the man, He touches the leper. Beautiful picture of that which was really there! God capable of doing everything, love and goodwill to do it, but man in the midst of a contaminated race which He has touched in His grace without being driven back by the evil, without being contaminated by the defilement though He touched it to heal it; and the man was healed, for Jehovah was there, man in the midst of His people. Such was the great fact by which this part of the Gospel begins. It is the essential fact of everything—Emmanuel. Another element accompanies it. He owns the authority of the system in the midst of which He found Himself. The healed leper must go and show himself to the priest; who, while pronouncing him clean and accepting his sacrifice, was owning in fact the divine power of Him who had thus healed the leper. The Man who is truly of humanity though without defilement, and whom the evil He came into contact with could not defile, was Emmanuel, Jehovah who healed, but entering by the door and subject to all that Jehovah had ordained in Israel.
The second fact is a fact parallel to this one. A man from among the Gentiles, with a faith which was not cramped by the proud egotism which confined all of it to the promises made to the people and to the privileges which belonged to them, but saw the divine power (if it was there) more in its own vastness, beseeches Jesus to heal his servant. The faith which places a man in the presence of God, which realizes His presence, is always humble. The Gentile does not deem himself worthy that Jesus should come under his roof. He has only to say a word: everything would obey Him, as his soldiers himself. Jesus owns his faith; and the word is said: his servant is healed. But see another great truth which comes out here: the faith of the Gentile is owned, and the children of the kingdom according to the flesh shall be cast out. “Where God is found, He cannot limit Himself to a particular people, whilst coming into the midst of them according to His promise; and, what is more, He cannot deny Himself nor change His character. If those who were of His people answered not to His character, they could not be with Him; and now He was revealing Himself and was the necessary center of all that which could be owned.
Afterward He is present in that power of goodness which puts aside all the effects of sin and of Satan's dominion in this world. At one word from Jesus diseases cease, and demons flee away, and those possessed are delivered. It is not only power but goodness. It is God who is there, but at the same time the Man who has a perfect sympathy with men carries their miseries on His heart and burdens Himself with the sorrows of their infirmities. He heals while feeling them; as we hear Him groan deeply at the tomb of Lazarus, though He raises Himself from among the dead.
But it is none the less true that He is the despised and rejected of men: the Son of man has not where to lay His head—has not the privileges of the foxes and of the birds in this world. He is not of this world; and to follow Him is to break entirely with everything which is of it. God come into this world is come because the world is without Him, and ought to have absolute right to the heart; and this to separate it from the world and from the flesh which has arranged itself without Him, and to attach the heart wholly to Him who was come to seek it. And the most powerful motives for the human heart were null before the rights of God come in grace because man was lost. It is not that God does not own the relations that He Himself has formed; but that when they make good their rights against Him who formed them, these rights are lost entirely, being derived from His will: to resist Him while asserting them is therefore to destroy them. Besides, if the Lord is there, His rights rise above everything.
The Lord does not seek the admiration of the crowd; He does His work, but a curious multitude is nothing for Him. He goes to the other side of the lake. But to accompany the Lord, to be truly with Him, is not tranquility but the exercise of faith. A tempest arose, and the ship is covered with waves. According to appearances the Lord is a stranger to the peril of His own; He sleeps, and the disciples think they will be swallowed up by the waters. There was a certain faith in Him if He were awake: at least He could occupy Himself with the danger. But all the same, what want of faith to think that the counsels of God and the Lord Himself were going to be swallowed up together by a storm, or according to the world by an accident! They were in the same ship with the Lord, the object of all the counsels of God. Accidents do not happen there, not to say anywhere else. A word on His part calms the waves and the wind. The companionship of the Lord when He is rejected conducts us in the storm, yet He seems to let all go without paying heed to it; but we are, thank God, in the same ship with Him. He exercises faith and appears to be indifferent with regard to difficulties; He is not uneasy, and His grace and power awake at an opportune moment. It is the character of the road to which the Lord has introduced His own in quitting the multitude of this world.
But there is more. Come with power to destroy the work of the devil, His presence manifests the power of the enemy; it awakes and displays itself; and just because He acts, the Lord allows that the reality of this power should be manifested. The impure beings which become the vessels of this energy of the enemy hurl themselves down to destruction. A word of the Lord delivers him whom the world could not bind; but the world cannot endure God so near it, and under the quiet influence of Satan, more dangerous than His force, gets quit of the Lord. It is not the power of Satan which was the question (for that a word was enough), but of his influence over the heart, yea, over the heart, just as the heart of man will not have God. What manifests Him no doubt manifests Satan; but it is the deliverance of those who are in subjection to his power. But then it is God; and man wishes none of Him even when He is delivering. It is the history of the Savior, of God, in this poor world.
Such is the summary presentation of Emmanuel, of the path of Jesus towards the earth; the fullness of grace, but man will not have God. It was in Israel indeed that all this took place, and it is thus presented here; but the work is extended to the world in grace and in judgment. It is a remarkable picture of the presence of Emmanuel and of its effect: grace, goodness in power on the earth, the manner in which it was received, and the result of its manifestation for the heart of man. What follows, chapter 9, is His ministry.

Notes on Luke 21:5-38

Luke alone of the Evangelists notices the fact that the disciples spoke to the Lord about the votive offerings with which it was adorned; all three speak of its goodly stones or buildings. But this does not warrant the inference that the prophetic discourse which follows belongs to those in the temple rather than those on the Mount of Olives. It has been properly remarked that the questions are distinct from the Lord's solemn answer to the admiration expressed, and may well have been to the chosen four on retiring thither as we are told He did by night at the end of our chapter. “And as some spoke of the temple that it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, he said, [As for] these things which ye behold, there shall come days in which stone shall not be left upon stone which shall not be thrown down.” On the other hand it is surely without justification to assume that Luke could not have omitted the change of scene and auditory if aware of it. On both sides such reasoning leaves out the Spirit of God, and His having a purpose by each which alone accounts for differences on the basis of His own perfect knowledge of all, not of the writers' ignorance.
“And they asked him saying, Teacher, when then shall these things be? and what [is] the sign when these things are about to come to pass? And he said, See that ye be not misled. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [he]; and the time is drawn nigh: go ye not after them. And when ye shall hear of wars and tumults, be not terrified; for these things must first come to pass, but the end [is] not immediately.” (Ver. 7-9.) It will be observed that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to drop the question respecting the coming of the Son of man and the completion of the age. As with Mark, they ask when the destruction of the temple shall be, and the sign of its commencement. The Lord fully replies, but as usual gives much more. But there is neither the completeness of dispensational information right through, nor details as to the consummation of the age, found in the Gospel of Matthew. On the other hand here only are we given distinct light on the coming siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Romans, here only its subsequent ignominious subjection till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Other peculiarities of Luke we may see as we proceed through the chapter. The question of the disciples goes no farther than the demolition the Lord spoke of, the Spirit having reserved for Matthew the parabolic history of the course, conduct, and judgment of Christendom, as well as the special account of the Jews at the end of the age, and of all the Gentiles gathered before the throne of the Son of man when He is come. The early warning that follows the inquiry here refers to what soon ensued. There may be analogous deceits in the last days; but I apprehend that here we are in view of what has been. If it were the closing scenes, where would be the propriety of assuring the disciples that the end is not immediately? Matthew may take in what soon followed; but the characteristic feature with him is the end of the age, first in general, then specifically, with its shadows before.
“Then said he to them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: there shall be both great earthquakes in various places and pestilences and famines, and there shall be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things they shall lay their hands upon you and persecute you, delivering up to synagogues and prisons, being brought away before kings and rulers for my name's sake; but it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle therefore in your hearts not to meditate before your defense; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist or gainsay. Moreover ye shall be delivered up by parents and brethren and relations and friends, and they shall put to death [some] of you, and ye shall be hated by all on account of my name; and a hair of your head shall in no wise perish. By your patience ye shall gain your souls.” (Ver. 10-19.) The strict application of all this to the state of things whether in the world or among the disciples before the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans must be evident to every unprejudiced mind. Luke alone sets forth the grace of the Lord in giving His own a mouth and wisdom beyond the craft and power of all adversaries. In Mark they are to speak “whatsoever shall be given you; for not ye are the speakers but the Holy Spirit.” Luke also puts in broad terms their winning their souls, which would be true in the highest sense for heaven if they were slain.
Next we have a graphic picture of the crisis for Jerusalem under Titus. “But when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that its destruction is drawn nigh. Then let those in Judea flee unto the mountains, and let those in the midst of it depart out, and let those in the fields not enter into it. For these are days of vengeance that all the things written may be fulfilled. Woe to them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days; for there shall be great distress upon the land and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by edge of sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by [the] nations until [the] times of [the] nations be fulfilled.” (Ver. 20-24.) Here there can be no misunderstanding unless for a pre-occupied mind. The siege with its consequences described by our Lord cannot be a future event because it is followed by the humiliating possession of the Jewish capital by one nation after another till the allotted seasons of Gentile supremacy terminate. This is peculiar to our evangelist who accordingly speaks of armies encompassing the city, which was true then, not like Matthew and Mark of the abomination of desolation, which can only be verified in its closing throes. Hence too the reader may notice, that in spite of a considerable measure of analogy (for there will be a future siege, and even a twofold attack, one of which will be partially successful, the other to the ruin of their enemies, as we learn from Isa. 28; 29 and Zech. 14), there are the strangest contrasts in the issue; for the future siege will be closed by Jehovah's deliverance and reign, as the past did in the capture and destruction of the people dispersed ever since till the times of the Gentiles are full. Accordingly we hear nothing in this Gospel of the abomination of desolation, nor of the time of tribulation beyond all that was or shall be; we hear of both in Matthew and Mark where the Spirit contemplates the last days. Here we are told of great distress on the land and wrath on the Jewish people, as indeed there was. The notion that Luke's variation is designed as a paraphrase of Matthew and Mark, a simpler expression in his Gospel for one more obscure in theirs, is most unworthy of the Holy Ghost and destructive of the truth in the first two Gospels if not in the third. There is fresh truth, and not a sacred comment on what the others said.
In verse 26 and onward we are naturally carried on to the conclusion of the Gentile times. “And there shall be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at sea and waves roaring, men fainting from fear and expectation of the things coming on the habitable earth; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draweth nigh.” (Ver. 25-28.) It is Luke only who mentions the moral signs of men's anguish spite of the deceits and pretensions of that day. No doubt there will be strong delusion and the belief of falsehood; but for this very reason there is no rest nor contentment, for only the grace and truth of God in Christ can give peaceful enjoyment with a good conscience. Hence God will know how to trouble men's dreams and to break up Satan's ease, their horror culminating at the sight of the rejected Lord, the Son of man, coming in a cloud with power and glory. But there will be those then on earth, disciples tried by the evils of that day, for whom even the beginning of these troubles and the tokens of change for the world will be the sure harbinger of deliverance.
“And he spake a parable to them, Behold the fig tree and all the trees: when they already sprout, by looking ye know of your own selves that summer [is] now near. So also, when ye see these things take place, know ye that the kingdom of God is near. Verily I say to you that this generation shall not pass away till all things be done. The heaven and the earth shall pass away but my words shall in no wise pass away. But take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be weighed down with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of life, and that day come upon you suddenly; for as a snare it will come upon all that are settled down upon the face of the whole earth. But watch, at every season praying that ye may be deemed worthy to escape all these things that are about to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Ver. 29-36.) We have here an instance of the exceeding accuracy of scripture even in figures. Who but God could have thought of giving only the fig-tree in Matthew speaking of Israel, the fig-tree and all the trees in Luke where the Gentiles are mixed up with the troubles of Israel?
But this is not the only point of interest in this appendix to the prophecy. For the Lord has given us the positive proof, by the way in which verse 32 stands here, that “this generation” cannot mean a mere chronological space of thirty or even one hundred years, for it is brought in after the running out of Gentile times and the coming of the Son of man with power and glory, events still unfulfilled. Its force is moral; not exactly the nation of Israel but that Christ-rejecting race which then refused their Messiah as they do still. This will go on till all these solemn threats of judgment are accomplished. It is profitable to remark that here, not in doctrine or in practice only, but in these unfoldings of the future, the Lord pledges the impossibility of failing in His words. The Lord does not say that “this generation” shall not pass away till the temple is destroyed or the city taken, but till all be fulfilled. Now He had introduced the subsequent treading down of Jerusalem to the end of Israel's trials in His appearing, and He declares that this generation shall not pass away till then; as indeed it is only then grace will form a new generation, the generation to come. The more we hold fast the continuity of the stream of the prophecy, as distinguished from the crisis in Matthew and Mark, the greater will be seen to be the importance of this remark.
Notice the strongly moral tone in which the dangers and snares of the days before the Son of man appears are touched by the Lord, an often recurring characteristic of our evangelist, The concluding verses (37, 38) are a summary of our Lord's manner or habit at this time, the nights spent on the Mount of Olivet, and by day teaching in the temple, whither all the people came early to hear Him. It was this which led several copyists to insert here the paragraph from John 7:53 to 8: 11; but there is no real ground for such a transposition, any more than for denying it to be the genuine writing of the last evangelist in spite of alleged difficulties.

Notes on Romans 13

The apostle next enters on the relation to worldly authority of the saints, after treating of their attitude toward all men as the witnesses of the good they had learned in Christ, where God overcame all evil with His good, and privileges us as partakers of it both to be active in it and to suffer for it.
“Let every soul be subject to authorities in power. For there is no authority save from God, and those that exist are ordered by God: so that he that setteth himself against the authority resisteth the ordinance of God, and those that resist shall receive judgment for themselves. For rulers are not a fear for the good work but for the evil. Dost thou wish then not to be afraid of the authority? Do good, and thou shalt have praise from it; for it is God's servant to thee for good; but if thou do evil, fear; for not in vain doth it wear the sword; for it is God's servant, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil. Wherefore [it is] needful to be subject not only on account of wrath but also on account of conscience. For on this account ye pay tribute also; for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing.” (Ver. 1-6.)
The holy wisdom of the exhortation is as worthy of God, as the suitability of all that is taught is apparent for those who, though not of the world, yet have relative duties in it, as they wait for the Lord and are called to do the will of God meanwhile. By a gradual transition we are brought from not avenging ourselves, and overcoming evil with good, as becomes the children of God, to our relation to the authorities in the world whose office it is to avenge evil, punishing evil-doers, and praising those that do well. It was pre-eminently in place from the apostle writing to the saints in the great metropolis of the Gentile world, imperial Rome. No otherwise had the apostle of the circumcision exhorted the Christian Jews scattered over the East. The falsehood, the folly, the impurity, the abominations of the Gentiles would naturally expose those who mingled their idolatries with the civil power to find the latter jeoparded when souls discerned and rejected the former in the light of Christ. Hence the exceeding moment of pressing the place which worldly authority should have in the conscience of the saints from among either Jews or Gentiles as of God, spite of the heathenism of those who were in possession of it. “Let every soul” is more comprehensive (and I cannot doubt so intended of the Spirit) than every saint. No position exempts. The household too ought to feel it, children or other dependent relations and servants, as well as believers. It is laid down purposely in the broadest terms: compare chapter ii. 9. If the verb be regarded as in the middle voice, it would express the willingness of the subjection so much the more strongly: just as the other side, “he that sets himself against” is seen in verse 3.
Again, “authorities in power” (ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις), is an expression that embraces every form of governing power, monarchical, aristocratic, or. republican. All cavil on this score is therefore foreclosed. The Spirit insists not merely on the divine right of kings but that “there is no authority except from God.” Nor is there an excuse on this plea for change; yet if a revolution should overthrow one form and set up another, the Christian's duty is plain: “those that exist are ordained by God.” His interests are elsewhere, are heavenly, are in Christ; his responsibility is to acknowledge what is in power as a fact, trusting God as to the consequences and in no case behaving as a partisan. Never is he warranted in setting himself up against the authority as such, for this were to resist the ordinances of God, and those that resist shall receive judgment for themselves. For it is by no means “damnation,” but “sentence,” or the charge for which he is condemned. Scripture is ever sober, as the apostle said he was, for our sakes: if he were ecstatic, it was for God, as might well be. Other scriptures show that where the authority demands that which is offensive to Him, as for instance that an apostle should speak no more of Jesus or that a Christian should sacrifice to an idol or an Emperor, we must obey God rather than man, but suffering, not resisting, if we cannot quietly leave the scene of persecution. For it is evident that it is impossible to plead God's authority for obeying a command which dishonors and denies God. Every relation has its limits in conduct which virtually nullifies it; as this is a requirement which undermines its own authority by antagonism to Him who set it up. But Calvin seems to speak unwarrantably when he goes so far as to say that tyrannies are not an ordained government; and those who listened to him or shared his thoughts have proved that they did not count it beneath Christians to take an active part in overthrowing what they considered tyrannical.
It is a wholly inadequate apprehension to regard the magistrate on the side of man only. Not that he may not be chosen in ever so various a form by man, but that he is God's servant, as here repeatedly said. He is His servant for good, not for evil. But if you practice evil, what then? Fear; for not in vain does he wear the sword; for he is God's servant, an avenger for wrath to him that does evil. To see God in the magistrate brings in conscience. Wherefore one must needs be subject not only on account of wrath (this would be merely a question of consequences from the man), but also on account of conscience. “For on this account also ye pay tribute.” This is connected with the foregoing exhortation as to magistrates, and prepares the way for more general relationships in the world. “For they are God's ministers [or officers], attending diligently unto this very thing.” Thus they are designated God's διακονοὶ and also His λειτουργοὶ, the one as doing the work prescribed to them in keeping the order of the world in obedience to the laws, the other as public functionaries or officially appointed to it. The payment of φὀρος was for the administration of government, a tribute or tax on persons or property or both, as τέλος was on merchandize and therefore fairly translated “custom.” Hence the apostle (ver. 7.) exhorts,” Render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” The greater and the lesser are thus taken in, each in its just measure; which the Christian can heartily pay, inasmuch as he is entitled to acknowledge God in all without seeking anything for himself. For we are here occupied with what is of God in the repression of evil and hence external to the proper sphere of Christian life, save as honoring God in every respect.
But next we enlarge yet more. “Owe no one anything except to love one another; for he that loveth the other [i.e. his neighbor] hath fulfilled law. For Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if [there be] any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to the neighbor: love therefore [is] law's fulfillment.” (Ver. 8-10.) Thus the debt of love is the only one which is legitimate and in honor, good among men and acceptable to the Lord; the debt we should ever be paying, but never can pay off. Grace alone gives the power, but law is fulfilled thereby and indeed only thus. Law had continually claimed but never found it. Those under the law were under obligation but were wholly unable to make it good. Grace revealing Christ not only shows us its perfection and fullness but forms the heart accordingly. The commandments man wards are comprehended in loving one's neighbor; so are those God ward in loving God. Thus what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of flesh of sin and for sin condemned sin in the flesh; in order that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3, 4.)
There is another powerful motive for the believer, the nearness of that day when all that is not of Christ must be detected and pass away. “And this, knowing the meet time, that already [it is] time for you to be aroused out of sleep; for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, and the day is drawn nigh. Let us cast away therefore the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. As in daylight let us walk becomingly, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in chambering and lasciviousness, not in strife and envy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and take no forethought for the flesh for lusts.” (Ver. 11-14.) For the earth the Sun of righteousness is not yet risen; for it the believer, though he has Christ the true light for himself, knows that it is night still. Yet daylight has dawned and the morning star arisen in his heart. Hence he sleeps not as do others; or, if he should, judges it as sin, for he is in the secret of the Lord and is charged with the gravest mission of love and holiness in the witnessing of His name as he passes through the world. Man slumbers heedless of danger, spite of solemn and reiterated warning. His evil conscience forbids his crediting the grace which is in God; his self-complacency blinds him to the moral beauty of the dependent and obedient Man, as well as to his own need of such a Savior and such a salvation as God urges on him; and so he sleeps on till he perishes, waking up too late to the truth he has rejected and the grace he had slighted irreparably then. The believer with his soul saved already looks for a salvation worthy of Christ and of His redemption at His coming; and, though the interval may seem long sometimes, he knows that it is ever growing nearer. The works of darkness are therefore wholly incongruous and must be cast away. In such alas! the Gentiles used to walk when they lived in them; even as the Jews under the law occupied themselves with dead works. But now, dead to them, they would put on the armor of light; and though the day be not yet, they as children of it would walk comelily as in its light. What have such to do with revels and drinking bouts, with ways of lewdness and lasciviousness, with strife and envy? Are they not the blessed saints of God in full view of the speedy coming and day of the Lord? How suitable the call to put on the Lord Jesus Christ! As we have Him inwardly our life, may we wear Him outwardly, cherishing Him as our all, and make no provision for the flesh with a view to lusts. This were to revive the old man already crucified, to have believed and to hope in vain.

The Counsels of God in Grace and Glory: Part 1

(Eph. 1:1-7.)
Part 1.
There are two ways in which we may look at man in relation to God: first, in responsibility; second, in the counsels of God.
It is important to know the full value of the work of Christ, and our present relationship. All duties and right affections flow from relationships; the Christian lives in those new relationships into which God has brought him. We find in this chapter our relationship to the Father as children (the individual relationship has the first place in Ephesians); then comes in the unfolding of the unity of the body of Christ.
God put man originally in a certain relationship with Himself in innocence; that relationship—the claim of it—must subsist. You cannot destroy God's title by human sin, but on man's side the relationship is gone and broken. Wickedness on one side does not destroy claim on the other.
As to the history of God's ways and dealings, man's responsibility has closed at the cross; it is not a time of probation now, though the individual is proved. In the same cross Christ perfectly glorified God Himself. We find the two things quite distinct: responsibility; and the intentions of God before any responsibility was in question. This epistle takes up the side of these counsels.
In Philippians we are looked at as running the race through the wilderness with our eye fixed on the glory. In Ephesians we are seen as brought completely to God, and sent out into the world to show God's character. In Romans you see the responsibility side simply, the sinfulness of man, what man is without law and “under law, and the justification of a sinner. The counsels of God are only just touched on in the verse, “For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Man is proved to be a sinner, the blood of Christ is that which cleanses us. There we get responsibility, as also justification-not in Ephesians: God has no need to justify the new creation.
In 2 Tim. 1:9 we see that what was before the world began is now made manifest. We have the same thing in Titus 1. This thought of God is very distinct.
In Genesis we begin with the responsible man. All depended on man's responsibility; but nothing could be more complete than his fall. He distrusted God and believed Satan. Distrust of God is the essence of all sin. There is no way back to innocence. We may get divine righteousness, and may be made partakers of His holiness: but we shall never have innocence again. Christ was “the seed of the woman.” All God's thoughts and counsels and plans were around the second Adam. Promises there were, and prophecies clearer and clearer; but what God was actually doing up to the cross was trying man on his responsibility.
Before the flood testimony was given; but there were no particular dealings of God. Then the world became so bad that God had to bring in the flood. When God begins again with Noah, he got drunk. The world subsequently went into idolatry.
Adam was the head of a fallen race, Abraham was the head and father of all that believe. When God had scattered the people of Babel, from among them He takes a people for Himself; then, having chosen Abraham, He gives him promises. The apostle in Galatians shows how the promises to Abraham could be neither disannulled nor added to. The law came in by the bye. There was not a question of righteousness to Abraham-no “if.” The law was the perfect measure of what man ought to be. Before ever Moses came down from the mount, the Israelites had made the golden calf. At last God says, “I have yet one Son,” one thing more that I can do. The husbandmen cast Him out of the vineyard and slew Him. Then the history of responsibility (not individual responsibility) was closed. Sin had been fully brought out. Man was lawless, then; when the law came, there was the transgression of the law; and when the blessed Lord in wondrous love and grace came into the world and went about doing good, they could not stand God's presence. “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?” Stephen gives us the summary—prophets slain, the Just one killed, the law broken, the Holy Ghost resisted. “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Christ interceded for them on the cross, “They know not what they do,” and the Holy Ghost in answer to this says by Peter, “I wot that through ignorance ye did it.”
The history of Adam, the moral history, is closed; that is what we are. In all this we have God's history of man's responsibility. I find in the cross that I am in a condition which God must reject. Christ has come to be made sin, and a work has been done according to God's holy and righteous nature. If I look up to God now, I find no sin in His presence; I go there by the work of Christ, and God cannot see the sins. Not only has Christ died for my sins, but I have died with Him, I have done with the nature. First, I find the putting away of sins, and along with that I have died with Christ. Christ did much more than this at the cross. Sin was in the world, evil was rampant, Satan reigning, God's glory in the dust, the earth full of violence (whatever the signs of wisdom). It was not merely a question of my sins; but God was compromised in a sense. Christ then was Jehovah's lot.
Suppose God had cut off Adam and Eve, there would have been righteousness, but no love. Suppose He had spared every one, there would have been no righteousness. If I look at the cross, there is righteousness against sin-never such displayed before. And there I learn the perfect love of God. At the cross I see God perfectly glorified in a Man, His own blessed Son, but still a Man. There is a Man in the glory of God. Not only is there one man out of paradise, but another Man is in paradise. The work, by virtue of which He is sitting there, can never lose its value. Now the counsels of God can be brought out. If sin is cleared away, why should I be in the same glory as the Son of God? We do not get the one without the other; but nothing can be the result of that work on the cross less than the glory. There are two things: not merely are my sins cleared away, but I stand in the light as God is in the light, as He is. This we are in Christ; and we are to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” Now we are brought as Christ and like Christ. He is the “firstborn among many brethren.” “Tell my brethren that I ascend unto my Father and your Father, unto my God and your God.” This is your present place. “Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom.” But, says the Lord, “you need not wait till then: to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Oh! how the things of this world are dimmed by this that we are loved as Christ is loved. What a blessed place this is! Christ has taken all on Him as man, that we may be forever with Him. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places [a remarkable expression, in the best place, in contrast to Judaism] in Christ Jesus.” There is not one possible blessing into which Christ has entered as man that we are not brought into. Christ never gives away; He brings us into enjoyment with Himself: “not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” This is perfect love. Have you ever thought of God's thought about you, that you are “to be conformed to the image of His Son?” “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” This cannot fail. The Lord presses on our hearts that He brings us into association with Himself. “Then are the children free.” He “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” God gives us His own nature, “holy and blameless before him in love.” He puts us in this place answering perfectly to His nature, and with a nature to enjoy it. We are in Christ—this is God's thought. I get the place of a son with the Father. Servants would not do for Him; He takes us as sons. We are “accepted in the beloved:” “in Christ” would not do here. “I was daily his delight.” In this One, who was always God's eternal delight, we are accepted. Have you the thought of God's heart? Is the thought you have that you are loved as Christ is loved? Are you able to see God's heart as He has revealed it? Where shall I get what is in God's heart? Is it in my heart? If the angels want to know what love is, it is in us they see it. Is this the way you think of God? We soon find out what poor creatures we are. Quite true; but can you say, There is where God has set me? This is the very thing that makes us see our own utter nothingness. The reasonings of the Holy Ghost are always downward from God to us; the reasonings of conscience are always upward from us to God. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son: much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” The Holy Ghost reasons downward: is this the way we reason? If you are naughty, do you feel you are a naughty child? You cannot be a naughty child, sad as this may be, unless you are a child. If I am a child of God, I am bound to live like one. He expects children's affections, children's duties. Have you given up the first Adam entirely, and found your place in the second Adam, “accepted in the beloved?”

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Prison: Part 5

(1 Peter 3:19.)
Having examined the statements of the Reformer most celebrated for his doctrine, we may now turn to the very different views of Bellarmine, the most famous of those who have written on the Romanist side, with the authoritative statements of the Council of Trent in their Decrees and Canons, and yet more fully in their Catechism. To the discussion of our text the Cardinal devotes the entire chapter xiii., book iv., of his third general controversy—that about Christ (Disput. R. Bellarmini Pol. Tom. I, pp. 176-178, Col. Agr. 1615). It may strike some as remarkable that the text is not cited by him to prove purgatory, but only the descent of Christ's soul to hell; and the more so as the proofs of purgatory from the New Testament are lamentably defective and manifestly forced. But this able controversalist justly avoided the passage as evidence for purgatory; for nothing would suit Romish ideas less than preaching, least of all Christ's preaching, to souls there. Wholly different is their scheme, which distinguishes purgatory from limbus patrum.
Purgatory according to Tridentine doctrine is a penal fire to satisfy for the remains of sin in the righteous, a place of punishment where justified souls in general suffer for a time before they go to heaven; for, as they teach, souls dying in mortal sin go to hell, while on the other hand martyrs and adults dying immediately after baptism go to heaven. Thus, in the first part, art. v. § iv.—vi. of the Catechism, they distinguish hell into (1) the place where the damned are forever punished, (2) the fire of purgatory where the souls of the pious suffer torture in expiation for a definite time, and (3) the receptacle in which the souls of saints before Christ's advent were received, and, exempt from any pain and sustained by the blessed hope of redemption, dwelt there in peace. It is true that this last statement does not cohere with the language of § 8 that the fathers were tortured in suspense while waiting for glory: but when was error really consistent? Again, in § 10 they confess that Old Testament saints, like those of the New, not only were in limbus as we have seen, that is, in the bosom of Abraham, but also might need the satisfaction of the ire of purgatory for their venial sins, and for whatever remained of the temporal punishment due for mortal sins though forgiven.
It is plain therefore that it is ignorance of their own doctrine or deceit for a Romanist to cite our text for purgatory. Their most authoritative teaching is that the apostle speaks of the place once occupied by the Old Testament saints before Christ came and took them to heaven. Limbus patrum is therefore without a tenant, and useless for any practical purpose now. Purgatory is far otherwise, according to their best instructed doctors; though why it should be styled “purgatory” does not clearly or satisfactorily appear, for there is only the endurance of penalty, and no real purging whatever. How opposed to the truth and grace of God! By Christ all that believe are justified from all things and have life, eternal life, in Him. They are dead with Christ from sin; crucified with Him, yet they live of a new life, not the first Adam life, but Christ living in them, dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Hence sin is not to reign in their mortal body. They are under not law but grace; and, living in the Spirit, they have to walk in the Spirit; but if one sin, we have an advocate with the Father, and the washing of water by the word is made good to us by the Spirit in answer to Christ's intercession when we are defiled in any way.
But Romanism ignores and destroys the entire groundwork of the gospel, and its privileges as applied now to the believer. They preach as if Christ was such an one as themselves; they reason as if His blood had no more efficacy than a bull's or a goat's; their thoughts of sin are as human as of the Savior and of His work. Of a real communication of life through faith, of a new and spiritual nature which the believer has in receiving Christ, they have no notion; for if they saw either life or redemption as scripture puts them, there could be no place for purgatory. There is a process of cleansing which goes on in the believer while he passes through this defiling world, that the practical state may correspond with the standing, with life in Christ and full remission of sins by His blood. But when the Christian departs from this life, he departs to be with Christ, and there is no need of cleansing more, as only the new and holy life remains, Romanism sets up the veil of Judaism again, undoing laboriously the infinite blessing of a known reconciliation with God founded on atonement, and consequently putting those who bear the Lord's name outside in the court, in darkness, doubt, and uncertainty. It is the unbelief of nature, usurping the place of the gospel, a mere round of rites which flatter the flesh and can never clear the conscience: and no wonder, because the true light which now shines is intercepted and the power of redemption is wholly denied. Hence it is really heathenism clothed with Jewish forms, a return of the Gentiles in Christendom to the weak and beggarly elements to which they desire to be again in bondage. It is the more guilty, because it is a going back to old darkness after God's revelation of Himself as a Savior in Christ, a churlish turning away from the feast of divine love and light where the Father imparts His joy in goodness, saving the worst and to the uttermost, let who will stay without and boast of their own ways to His dishonor.
But enough of the fabulous purgatory: our business is with B.'s explanation of our text. The first exposition noticed is that of Augustine, who applied it to the preaching of Noah by the Spirit of Christ to the men of that day. The chief defect in it is that the prison is held to be the mortal body, instead of seeing that έν φ. (“in prison") refers to their subsequent state when alone also they could be properly designated as πνεὐμασιν or “spirits.”
The Cardinal apologizes for refuting S. Augustine. No doubt it is awkward to such as start with the Vincentian canon of tradition, “quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus:” and the rather when the Father to be refuted is the greatest light of the Western church. It is pleaded however that A. himself confesses he had not understood the passage and asks for cause to be shown why it should refer to hell (or hades). As if the Father then not only permitted but himself desired it, B. proceeds to his task.
His first argument is the common opinion of the Fathers in opposition; Clement, Alex., Atban. Epiphan., and Cyril, Hilary, Ambrose, Ruffin, and Oec. being all alluded to as inferring hence Christ's descent to the spirits in hell. He also points to the occurrence of an alleged citation of Isaiah to a similar effect in Justin M. and Irenaeus. But we may reserve the views of the early ecclesiastical writers to a later moment when they will come fully before us.
The second objection is that Christ is said to have gone in spirit to preach to spirits. The spirit which is here distinguished against flesh seems as if it could not possibly mean anything else than the soul, says B. Not therefore in His divinity only but in His soul did the Lord go and preach to the spirits. Now this, if it were the real intimation, would have incomparably greater weight for the Christian than the opinions of the Fathers were they ever so unanimous. But it is precisely what I have shown the best authorities for the critically correct text of the epistle reject. If the article of the vulgarly received text before πνεύματι possessed any real weight of evidence, the phrase might well if not certainly convey the sense of Christ's spirit as man; but all the copies of value concur in the anarthrous form, which cannot bear the meaning for which B. contends. As the apostle wrote, it is the character of Christ's quickening when He rose from the dead. The Holy Spirit beyond a doubt was the agent; but this is presented in the shape of manner, and therefore the article is absent; whereas it must have been present if the intention had been to present the case as B. imagines. The more carefully the language is examined, the more certain it is that the soul of Christ cannot be here contemplated.
Again, Augustine had good ground to say that ζ. δὶ πν. could not apply to the soul of Christ; and B. tries in vain to answer by citing 1 Sam. 27:9; 2 Sam. 8:2; and Acts 7:19; for this is a confusion of ζωογονέω or ζωγρέω with ζωοποιέω. It is unfounded therefore to say that Peter meant that Christ's soul could not be slain, but remained alive in His triumphant work over hell. He really says and meant that Christ was brought to life; and all efforts to shake the truth will only confirm it before all competent judges. Our clever theologian is decidedly feeble in questions of a philological kind.
There is no force in the third argument, which is that the expression, “went and preached,” can properly apply to the soul, not to Christ's divinity. It is a question of what is called in 1 Peter 1:11 “the Spirit of Christ,” which certainly wrought in the prophets and among the rest in Noah, who is also formally styled “a preacher of righteousness” in the second epistle. There is no more reason why in this place πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυζεν should be a literal change of place in Christ personally, than ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο in Eph. 2:17. We are dealing with historical matter equally in both passages; but figure is excluded in neither; and in fact there is the strongest analogy between the figures employed by both. The one illustrates the other. There is a manifestly distinct precision of phrase where a literal going of Christ is intended, as in verse 22 where we read π. εἰς οὐρανὁν. It might have been safely inferred here if the apostle had written π. εἰς ᾄδου
It is granted that the fourth argument of the Cardinal lies fairly against a faulty detail in the view of Augustine; for we cannot by “spirits in prison” rightly understand living men. Such a description applies only to persons in their disembodied state. There is no ground however to suppose that the preaching was then and there more than in chapter iv. 6 where we are told that “to dead men also was the gospel preached,” but of course while they were alive, not after they died, as some strangely conceive, without the smallest warrant from the words employed, and contrary to the plain drift of universal scripture on this point elsewhere. It is not correct to suppose, as is often assumed, that Peter speaks here of the same persons as dead whom he had described in the context as the spirits in prison. He contemplates here not the generation that refused righteous warning before the flood, but such of the dead in times past as had the promises presented to them, with the effect of putting all under the responsibility of being judged as men in flesh, while those who heeded the word, being by grace quickened, lived according to God in spirit. The language of the apostle perfectly agrees with his own teaching throughout the epistle, as well as his immediately precedent warning of the Lord's readiness to judge quick and dead, no less than the witness in baptism to His saving grace. The notion of preaching after death is a strange doctrine, out of harmony with the context, and openly, irreconcilably, opposed to scripture in general. There is therefore no need here to adopt the Augustinian fancy of “dead” meaning dead in trespasses and sins, any more than to explain “the spirits in prison” of souls shut up in flesh and the darkness of ignorance as if in a prison. But that the men were dead when the glad tidings were announced to them is not what the apostle says; still less that it was Christ who preached thus, or that dead men spoken of in such broad terms are the same as those formerly disobedient when the long-suffering of God was awaiting in Noah's day. The exegesis which indulges in such assumptions as these seems justly open to the charge of having no longer any fixed rule. But thanks be to God! scripture refuses everything of the sort, and cannot be broken.
B.'s fifth objection is, that, if the passage be understood of the preaching in the days of Noah, it does not appear to what end that account is inserted here. For how hang together, that Christ was put to death in flesh, but quickened (or as he says remained alive) in spirit, and therefore God formerly preached to men by Noah? But if we understand it of the descent to hell, all is consistent. For Peter, wishing to show that Christ in suffering and death remained alive, proves it as to His soul, because at that time His soul went to hell and preached to the spirits shut up in prison. Now the fact on the contrary is that the reference to Noah's preaching is highly relevant to the purpose in hand. For the apostle is insisting on the certainty of divine government, whatever the long-suffering of God in bearing with men's hostility to His people and opposition to His testimony. His own people are called to walk with a good conscience in grace, suffering for righteousness, and for doing good, not ill. How touching the reason! Christ once suffered for sins: let this suffice. It was His grace to suffer thus to the full, His glory to suffer thus exclusively, just for unjust, in order that He might bring us to God. It is ours to suffer for good, for righteousness: never should it be for faults and sins: this was His work for us when unjust, in which He was put to death in flesh but quickened in Spirit.
The outer life of Jesus closed in suffering for our sins, the days of His flesh wherein He offered up both supplications and entreaties to Him who was able to save Him out of death, with strong crying and tears. His resurrection was no question of external display of power, but characteristically of the Spirit, and hence unseen and unknown by the world. This was of all things most strange to the Jewish mind, which associated with the Messiah the manifestation of an energy overwhelming to all adversaries. Never was such a victory over Satan even in his last stronghold of death as Christ's resurrection; but He was made alive in no such way as instantly to put down the Roman oppressor, and expel the old serpent, and exalt restored Israel, and humble the haughty Gentiles, and deliver all creation. All this and much more must yet be to the praise of the glory of divine grace; but He was quickened in Spirit. Doubtless divine energy of the highest kind wrought here, but it was distinctively in the Spirit; and hence He who was thus raised, though most truly a risen man, capable of eating and drinking, though needing no food, capable of being handled and felt, though equally able to pass through closed doors, to appear in another form, to vanish out of sight and to ascend to heaven, was seen only of chosen witnesses, not as by and by He will be by every eye.
In knowledge this ran so counter to ordinary Jewish expectation that the apostle reminds his readers of that which might help them to juster thoughts of God's ways before the day comes when judgment will silence all gainsayers. It was no new thing for the Spirit of Christ to testify. He, as we have already been told, He who in the prophets had pointed out beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow, preached in Noah's days. The patience of God in testimony sounded strange to the Jew. Yet there it was in the first book of the law: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” —the very scripture which it would appear the apostle had before his mind's eye when inspired to write “in which [Spirit] he went and preached to the spirits in prison once disobedient when the longsuffering of God was waiting in Noah's days.” Now also as then it is a season of testimony and long-suffering before the judgment shall be executed at the appearing of Jesus. If the Spirit strove of old, surely it was not less now; if the work of God was wrought in the Spirit, proclaimed and received in the Spirit, not yet in a visible and indisputable power before which all the world must bow, it was just so in the most marked season of testimony before the most marked judgment on all mankind which the ancient oracles attest. Hence the exceeding appositeness of the allusion to Noah's days when the Spirit strove but would not always, for the flood was then at hand which must as it did surprise and take away those who stumbled at the word being disobedient. It was guilty then for the sons of Adam to slight the preaching: how much more so in the seed of Abraham now, who had before them that ancient warning, with an incomparably fuller testimony in the promises fulfilled though not yet manifested before the world!
The attentive student of scripture may thus see the admirable force and pertinence of πωεύματι ὲν ᾧ καῖ τ. ἐν φ. πν. πορ. ἐκήρ., especially as connected with the account given in Gen. 6 which the Holy Spirit here interweaves in the instruction for those addressed. There is no such statement as that Christ's Spirit was the subject, recipient, or vehicle of restored life, for this would require the article to convey such a sense; and were the article genuine and such a sense necessarily taught, it is hard to see how one who held to the text thence resulting could deny the monstrous inference that His spirit had previously died—at least, if the case connected had been the direct complement, not the indirect. It is also a manifest oversight to contend, as has been done, that the use of the word πνεὐμασιν, connecting έν ᾧ (πνεύματι) our Lord’s state with the state of those to whom He preached, is a crowning objection to the view here advocated; for it is certain that ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πν. describes the resurrection of Christ, not His separate state, and that the anarthrous form of πν. is decisive against the idea of its being His spirit as man, as is supposed in every form of the hypothesis that Christ descended to preach to separate spirits. No such connection then is in the passage: but attention is drawn to the character of Christ's resurrection as of the Spirit, bound up with His testimony and presence now known in Christianity instead of the visible power and glory of the kingdom which Israel looked for. The Spirit is emphatic as giving character to the quickening, not Sis spirit as the subject or vehicle of restored life; and then it is added that in virtue, or in the power, of this, έν ᾧ, He went and preached to the spirits in prison once on a time disobedient when the longsuffering of God was waiting in Noah's days, while an ark was in preparation. There was no external demonstration of divine power then, but a testimony of the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ; and all who despised it proved the value of the warning too late in their own destruction; and their spirits are imprisoned till the judgment of the dead declare afresh and forever the awful consequences of despising God's word. So it will assuredly be with all who, preoccupied with Messianic glory according to Jewish feeling, scorn the Spirit of Christ that now warns the world of coming judgment, and mock a presence of Christ which is only known in spirit.
Another point of analogy singled out from the tale of old and applied now is the fewness of those saved as meeting the taunts of those who looked for universal homage to the Messiah reigning and could not understand the hidden glory of One who believed in by a few bears with masses of unbelief till He comes in judgment.
But one can easily discern why all these analogies between the testimony in Noah and that under Christianity should escape the Cardinal, who finds more congenial aliment in the reveries of imagination as to the descent of Christ to hades than in the solemn and sober realities of a Christian's walk and witness, well nigh forgotten in Christendom. The dark source, whether Popish or Patristic, of Bishop Horsley's reasoning will not have escaped the reader. For he too, like Bellarmine, draws from this strikingly suggestive passage little more than the impotent conclusion that Christ remained alive in His passion and death! proved by His soul's descent and preaching to the spirits below. It is needless to expose the poverty of an interpretation which yields so wretched a harvest as compared with the rich and varied lessons flowing from the passage when understood in itself and in its connection with the Old Testament history alluded to.
Augustine had objected to the deduction of Christ's descent to hades, from this passage, (1) that consequently He would preach only to the unbelievers at the time of the flood; and (2) that, Abraham's bosom being distinct from hades, such a preaching would lead to the notion of converting the damned. Bellarmine (1) retorts with the question why Christ should be said to preach in Noah's days rather than in those of Abraham and other patriarchs or even of all other men, and (2) answers that the preaching of Christ in hell was not to convert infidels but only to announce great joy to pious souls in redemption now completed, Abraham's bosom being viewed as part of hades by Augustine himself like all other fathers. But the reader will have seen that B. is quite wrong and A. much more right as to both points. The text characterizes the imprisoned spirits as having been formerly disobedient without a trace of their subsequent repentance or piety, the announcement of great joy being a pure fiction for which the passage gives no warrant but rather as we read it plain intimations to the contrary. Not a word in scripture intimates that those on whom the flood came were believers but unbelievers, not a hint that they repented at last or that their souls were saved, though their bodies perished, let Jerome teach what he may. Their spirits are said to be in prison, in full contrast with Abraham's bosom or paradise; they are kept there for judgment like angels that sinned of old, with whom indeed the apostle classes them in the second chapter of his second epistle; and no wonder, for he characterizes them as a world of ungodly men. Are these then the pious souls to whom above all others the Lord descended to announce the great joy of His completed redemption? It will be observed by those who weigh God's word, apart from tradition, that not a thought appears in the passage of delivering the spirits from prison, any more than of translating them to heaven. This would be singular on the supposition of such a descent; for it is evident that, were the patristic idea true, it would be more in keeping with Christ's presence there to speak, not of preaching in hades, but of translating the saints thence gloriously as the fruit of His victory over Satan.
“Respondeo, primam objectionem posse retorqueri. Nam etiam non apparet ratio cur dicat Petrus Christum in diebus Noe praedicasse potius quam in diebus Abraham etaliorum patriarch-orum vel etiam aliorum omnium hominum. Dico praeterea, Christum praedicasse in inferno omnibus bonis spiritibus, sed nominatim fuisse expressos illos qui fuerunt in diebus Noe increduli, quia de illis erat majus dubium an essent salvi nec ne, cum puniti fuerint a Deo et submersi aquis diluvii. Indicat ergo his Petrus etiam ex illis ineredulis fuisse aliquos qui etiam in fine poenitentiam egerint, et licet quantum ad corpus perierinf, tamen quantum ad animam salvi faerint(quod etiam Hieronymus docet in quaestionibus Hebraicis in Genes, tractans illud cap. 6. Non permanebit spiritus mens in homine, &c). Ubi dicit Deum punivisse multos eorum temporaliter aquis diluvii, ne deberet cos punire in gehenna in aeternum. Et hunc etiam sensum videntur facere ilia verba cap. 4: Idea mortuis et praedicatum est evangelium, ut judicentur quidem secundum homines in carne, vivant autem secundum Deum spiritu; id est, ut secundum homines ex-terius judicentur carne, id est, damnati existimentur humano judicio, quia corpora eorum aquis necata fuerunt, tamen vivant spiritu secundum Deum, id est, animae eorum salvae sint apud Deum.
“Ad secundam dico, ipsnm Augustinum postea cognovisse sinum Abrahae fuisse in inferno, ut patet ex tractatu in Psal. 85 et lib. 20 de civ. Dei, ca. 15. que sententia est omnium patrum et totius ecclesiae. Dico igitur.praedicationem Christi in inferno non fuisse ad convertendos infideles, sed fuisse solum ad annun-ciationem gaudii magni piis animabus, quibus annunciavit completam esse redemptionem, ut intelligerent so jam indo liberandas et tempore suo etiam corpora rccepturas. Atque haec de expositione sancti Augustini quam refutavimus, sequuti mentem ejus, non verba.")
The remarks of Bellarmine on Beza's modification of the Augustinian view and on Calvin's ideas do not claim any special notice here, whatever is true in them having been already anticipated, I believe.

Councils, Congress, and Social Science: Part 1

The Ecumenical Council of Rome, and the late assumption of infallibility by the Pope, as the great ecclesiastical head of Christendom, and the vicar of Christ on earth, mark perhaps the highest point of pretension to which the civilized world has yet reached. Prophecy however shows a greater than this, when “the Antichrist sits in the temple of God, declaring that he is God” —whom the Lord shall destroy with the spirit of His mouth, and with the brightness of His coming. Upon this graduated scale (though much lower) is also marked the favorite scheme of modern ecclesiastics for a united Christendom by the fusion of its eastern and western churches, and the union of Patriarch, Pope, and Primate. Connected with this movement, the Pan-anglican Council of Protestantism held its session; and “the Eirenicon” of Dr. Pusey (like the dove sent forth out of Noah's ark) was let loose to see whether the waters of division were abated. The Evangelical Alliance still lends its hand as a connecting link with what is yet lower, and is almost become the next door neighbor to the Great Social Science Congress, with all its off-shoots and its monster meetings.
The International of Europe, and of America (which is the herculean progeny of these days), has a character of its own, and must be added to this catalog, in order to see the mighty machinery of all kinds which is so variously acting upon general society to produce the last formations, out of which the long expected universal prosperity is to spring!
In effect, and as the fruit of this wide-spread “knowledge of good and evil” by human attainment, the world's progress and the consolidation of its political and social systems are boldly affirmed as existing facts by the accepted organs of the times; and repeated as such in the familiar intercourse of daily life. All are thus encouraged to build with certainty, upon “the good time coming;” and as men -congratulate each other upon this hope, their only inquiry is, as to its near approach. It must seem strange, in such a state of eager expectation of the lest that can happen from these councils and congresses, to raise the question whether they are not the proof that man has long ago left the good behind him! and stranger still perhaps to have these flattering hopes dimmed by the conclusion of such an ancient as Solomon— “lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.” The issue is obviously an important and a grave one, which is thus raised between the wisest of men, and the wiser men of the nineteenth century! Has man by some disaster or other, lapsed from an original position and state, as “upright before God,” and irrecoverably forfeited that place? Is he thus in his own person a witness of what he has departed from? or, of “the uprightness” to which he fondly hopes he is advancing? Are all his “many inventions” proofs of what he has lost, and to be viewed as but so many clever expedients, by which he successfully meets the inconvenience, and reduces the misery, that attaches to his present condition? Is not man a creature, who has become fruitful in discoveries in order to mitigate his own wretchedness, and to relieve himself from the pressure of circumstances, which, had he not broken loose from God, could not have existed at all? “God made man upright;” but that he departed from this state, and sought out many inventions, is the real solution of most modern problems.
Adam's fall was no justification of Cain's “going out from the presence of the Lord,” and becoming an inventor of expedients, against the effects of his own independence, as “a fugitive and a vagabond.” Man had lost his uprightness—the image in which God had created him; but the Lord had not on that account forsaken the earth, or His creatures. “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” The book of Proverbs tells us that the delights of God “were with the sons of men,” rejoicing in the habitable parts of His earth.
Indeed the great proof that God did not leave man to himself and to the devil is historically given in the various books of Moses and the Chronicles, when a perfect system of political economy was introduced, and established by Jehovah in relation with the people of Israel. “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself,” and “ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation,” are the recorded facts of the way by which God delivered His people from the house of bondage, and established them under His protection, and in His favor.
Having called them out of Egypt, He took the whole charge of them upon Himself, and chose for them the land of Canaan, “a good land and a large, flowing with milk and honey,” the mountain of God's own inheritance, the place which, the Lord made for Himself to dwell in, the sanctuary which His own hands had established. They were His people, and He was their God; accordingly He called Moses up (where man never was before) and appointed him as their lawgiver and commander, charging him with ordinances, and statutes, and precepts, that Israel might be different in all other respects from the nations of the earth. They were thus separated by laws and ordinances from the rest of mankind, so that God might dwell among them, and walk with them, on their journey to the land which He had prepared. Nor were they only to be morally and politically different to all the nations of the earth, but by instruction as a religious people they were taught how the God of Israel was to be approached and worshipped. Moses was therefore established as a mediator, and Aaron consecrated as a great high priest, “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Their intercourse was based thus on the full recognition of who and what God was in His holiness; and what they were as in the flesh: still God could and did meet the people at the door of the tabernacle which He had erected, and talked with their mediator and them. Besides these personal relations, thus established on sacrifice, mediation, and priesthood, that man might “be upright before God” in conscience, on the footing of redemption, by the blood of another; they were cut off from all their own inventions— “if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone, for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” Another of these early lessons was at their Exodus, “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. As to the tabernacle itself, Moses was admonished of God; “for see,” saith He, “that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” Their education, day by day, was to own that their sufficiency was of God, who dwelt in their midst by the visible cloud, and the pillar of fire by night. Pharaoh and his captains and chariots at the Red Sea, Israel in the wilderness and the manna and the rock that followed them, Jordan, and the final possession of the land of Canaan, alike show that the right hand of the Lord triumphed gloriously. Their future was to be as bright as their past, uprightness of heart consisted then in their obedience; and prosperity was pledged to this uprightness by Him who was in their midst: “if ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them,” your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time, and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. Moreover as to conflict (if conflict came) it would only prove their God fought for them: “five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight, and your enemies shall fall before you.”
Besides these relations to their Jehovah, and to one another, and even to their enemies, there were intimacies which the Lord desired personally to cultivate with His people; and these were established by “the feasts of the Lord or holy convocations,” which were to be proclaimed in their seasons. “The first-fruits of all the increase” which God had given His people were to be brought to the Lord, even the hin of wine, and the oil, and the fine flour, for His delights were with His people, and He would share in all the good that He had given them. Nothing had been overlooked by Him that could contribute to their prosperity and blessing; even the land was to enjoy her sabbaths every seventh year, and the trumpet of jubilee on the fiftieth year proclaimed liberty through all the land unto the inhabitants thereof, “and ye shall return every man to his family, and to his possession.” These scriptures, and the whole of the Mosaic economy, show the desire of Jehovah to establish relations with His people, and prove how He cultivated in every possible way the acquaintance of the people with Himself. God had come down to man upon the earth to bless him in his basket and in his store, to take away all diseases from him, and to establish Israel in such outward prosperity and glory as His people, that all the nations of the world might acknowledge there was none other God than He.
This intercourse, which also contemplated man in all his capabilities as a moral and social being with his neighbor, was maintained by statutes and laws, which directed him how to behave to his fellow in the smallest matters. “If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.” Legislation on the one hand, or limitation in obedience on the other, was equally out of the question; and he was “upright” before God, who allowed no will of his own to compromise himself in thorough compliance. Inventions were also out of place, and their inventors were troublers in those days. When God dwelt with men upon the earth, everything was by divine pattern, and executed in complete submission. If a man were required “to devise cunning works, or to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones to set them, and in carving of timber to work in all manner of workmanship,” it was Jehovah's care, and He provided such a one. “The Lord spake to Moses, See, I have called by name Bezaleel, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” Moreover, “in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee,” the tabernacle, the ark, and the mercy-seat, &c. Beyond all that was merely moral, political, and social, in the circle where man lived with his fellow, the same loving hand led the Israelite as a worshipper, into the nobler exercises of his soul, with God Himself. Moses, Aaron, and his sons; Bezaleel, and Aholiab; had all fulfilled their parts, in “the tabernacle of witness,” in the wilderness, and in due time gave place to another' order of intercourse with Joshua, and the “ark of the covenant of the Lord of the whole earth,” on their way over Jordan, into the rest which God had prepared for Himself, and His beloved people in Canaan. Here also in the days of Solomon, when Jerusalem the city of the great king was to have its gorgeous temple as the dwelling-place of Jehovah, all was by divine pattern, and when finished, the glory took possession of it (as it did with Moses and the tabernacle) so that the priests could not enter, and the Lord was at home, and in rest with His people whom He loved. Kingship in David and the throne of Israel in the reign of Solomon (the bright center, and light to all the surrounding countries) were added by God to all He had previously showered upon this favored people, and man was at his highest and best.
(To be continued.)

The Archdeacon of Durham on Certain Religious Errors

Dear Brother,—
It is a pity that Archdeacon Perst should have entered the field with (to say no more) so little information on the points in question. Those who have provoked him, however zealous, seem to me rather ill-taught souls who, having hut a small spice of truth commonly seen among “Brethren,” are using it in ways which “Brethren” would deplore as decidedly as the Rector of Gateshead. The “The Evangelist” you have sent me is a sorry sample of Christian teaching.
But the Archdeacon, if he deemed it wise and right to censure these people at Gateshead, should not have ventured to speak of Christians elsewhere of whom he knows so little. He quotes extracts from the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, as unfounded in statement as can be, written (I presume) by an Irish Presbyterian Minister called Croskery. When a dozen or so of his charges were cited by Mr. Isaac Ashe in the Record some time ago, I gave them a distinct contradiction. Not a word more was heard of them then; one is sorry to see a respectable Christian repeating such things now. It is false that “Brethren” hide from the converted their convictions on ministry, the law, baptism, or any other truth. It is true that with the unconverted they adhere as exclusively as possible to the gospel of God's grace or His warnings for despisers. What but malice or ignorance could put an ill construction on that which is so plainly according to God?
As to the detailed charges Mr. P. makes, let me say in few words, that no brother known to me (and I know them well for nearly thirty years) holds sanctification in the sense which excludes personal and progressive holiness. We all insist on practical growth in this respect, but we also hold, what most now deny, absolute sanctification from the beginning of God's vital work in the believer. (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thess. 2, 3.) Probably the best refutation ever written of Wesley's “Christian Perfection” came from the pen of a brother. I do not believe one person in communion with us holds the perfectionism in flesh which is here imputed to us as a whole. Next, we should put away (as we have put away) anyone for denying the duty of confessing our sins to God. Again, I have myself written an exposition of the Lord's Prayer, in which it is expressly laid down that “forgive us our sins” belongs only to those who can truly say “Father;” as it is a question of His daily government with His children, not of the unrenewed who have never found remission of their sins by faith in Jesus. The prayer was for the disciples' use, before the Holy Ghost was given; afterward they were to ask the Father in Christ's name, as we do now. As to the law, I am not surprised at the want of knowledge displayed about both the scriptures and our views. Suffice it to say here that we abhor Antinomian license as heinous iniquity, and acknowledge our unqualified obligation to obey every word of God, more especially or distinctively to have our mind, walk, and worship, framed and governed by the New Testament or apostolic scriptures. But this does not warrant the assertion of the law as the Christian rule of life. On the contrary, scripture is explicit that by “them who are under the law” the Spirit intends the Jews (Rom. 3); as we are distinctly said to be “not under the law but under grace,” where the apostle is discussing Christian walk, and not justification. (Rom. 6) But we should denounce him who would disparage the law, which is good if a man use it lawfully: whether the Archdeacon does so may he doubted by those who will gravely compare 1 Tim. 1:9 with his use of it. Further, when he says that we exclude children, servants, and other unconverted persons from family prayer, he is confounding us with the Separatists or Walkerites, the very antipodes of “Brethren,” and is grossly deceived. So he is as to ministry: for we hold it to be a permanent and divine institution, though we deny the corruptions of it among Romanists and Anglicans as well as Dissenters. He combats a phantom; for nobody among us holds that all are teachers or preachers, or any save those whom the Lord gives and sends. At the same time Mr. P. is wrong to put ministry on the ground of common sense; for it really is a matter of faith, and, like every other Christian privilege, depends on the Holy Spirit who glorifies Christ. Again, as to baptism, it is enough to say that Mr. Perst is wholly in error in supposing that it is ever done among us as a sign of leaving a denomination for “Brethren.” We should all repudiate such an enormity with one heart and mind. Many among us baptize the children of believers; many not satisfied that christening of infants is scriptural have been baptized as an individual question (and this I have known in the English Establishment and elsewhere too). But all repudiate re-baptism. The pamphlet of which Mr. P. speaks emanates from a party opposed to us, unless I am greatly mistaken: certainly “Brethren” are in no way responsible for it. I purposely abstain from commenting on irrelevant matter; but the Archdeacon will own that I have joined issue fairly on the charges made. Ample disproof of them he will have already received in the form of tracts, &c. sent by book-post. There is but one course under such circumstances open to conscience and candor, not to speak of love.
Ever yours in Christ, W. K.
To A. M. P.


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New Translation Psalms 49

Chap. 49
1 To the chief musician; for the sons of Korah, a psalm.
2 Hear ye this, all the peoples; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world,
3 Both low and high, rich and poor together.
4 My mouth speaketh wisdom, and the meditation of my heart [is] understanding.
5 I incline mine ear to a parable, I open upon a harp my riddle.
6 Why should I fear in the days of evil? The iniquity of my supplanters surroundeth me,
7 Those who trust in their wealth and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches.
8 In no wise can a man redeem a brother, he giveth not to God a ransom for him
9 (But the redemption-price of their soul [is] precious, and it hath ceased forever),
10 That he should still live for ever and not see corruption.
11 For he seeth [that] wise men die; together the fool and the brutish man perish and have left to others their wealth.
12 Their inward thought [is] their houses [shall be] forever, their dwelling-places to generation and generation; they have called their lands by their own names.
13 But man in honor abideth not; he hath become like the cattle, they have been cut off.
14 This their way [is] folly for them; yet those who come after them will take pleasure in their words. Selah.
15 Like the sheep they have laid in the grave; death feedeth upon them, and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; but their form is to be consumed in the grave from its dwelling.
16 Surely God will redeem my soul from the hand of the grave, for he shall receive me. Selah.
17 Fear thou not when a man becometh rich, when the glory of his house increaseth.
18 For he taketh not all this away when he dieth; his glory shall not descend after him.
19 Though he blesseth his soul in his life, and men will praise thee when thou doest good to thyself,
20 Thou shalt go unto the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.
21 Man in honor and who understandeth not hath become like the cattle; they have been cut off.

Notes on Ezekiel 13

The next chapter takes up the pretenders to the mind of Jehovah in Israel, the men and women who prophesied without divine warrant, instruments of the enemy and adversaries of His will to the ruin of His people. This was one of the most painful trials to the spirit then, as now to us in the church are false brethren and false prophets, whose aim is self, and whose means are flattering on one side, and on the other an overbearing style suited to those whom they wish to influence, ever seeking the depreciation and injury of such as maintain the truth in the Lord's name. Compare 2 Cor. 11.
“And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of Jehovah; Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Ο Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of Jehovah. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying Jehovah saith: and Jehovah hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, Jehovah saith it; albeit I have not spoken? (Ver. 1-7.) To be a prophet out of one's own heart is to ensure judgment from God, who, however gracious and merciful, must needs be jealous of His majesty and truth, thus utterly misrepresented and profaned. What could be the end for themselves and such as followed them but destruction? They were like foxes in the ruins, full of craft and mischief. No wonder that there was no going up into the breaches nor making up a fence round the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of Jehovah; like those who desired at a later day to make a fair show in the flesh, and constrained the Gentiles to be circumcised, only lest themselves should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. Such persons feared not Jehovah nor had His secret but only falsehood and divination, seeing that they said “Jehovah saith” when they were not sent by Him, and yet they made men hope for the fulfillment of the word. Hence the solemn appeal by Ezekiel: “have ye not seen a false vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination? and ye say. Jehovah saith, when I have not spoken.”
Then follows the divine denunciation. “Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord Jehovah. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord Jehovah. Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar: say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower: and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it. Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it? Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it. So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with un-tempered mortar, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it; to wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord Jehovah.” (Ver. 8-16.) What an awful thing it is when the enemies of God morally compel Him to be their enemy! Longsuffering and plenteous in mercy He is slow to wrath; but when patience continued longer would ruin His saints and compromise His own honor, war is proclaimed against those who thus hypocritically undermine His glory and thwart His holy will as to His people; and the anger of Jehovah is according to His majesty. He is against the prophets of vanity, and His hand upon them. “In the secret council of my people shall they not be, and in the register of the house of Israel shall they not be written, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel.” Their names should be blotted out as having forfeited their rights, a public dealing on the earth and not a question of eternal judgment, though it is equally clear that their portion then will be everlasting destruction. To make it a deprivation of church membership here and of communion of saints in heaven is to lose all just sense of the passage. Further, the character of sin is remembered in the punishment. Did the fake prophets soothe the national feeling of the Jews by promising a speedy return from exile? They themselves should never see the land from which they were, or were to be, expelled by the foe; and they should thus learn who and what was their Jehovah God with whose name they had trifled. He will not have His people led away to their ruin with impunity to the seducers, least of all hear the holy name of peace perverted to selfish mischief; as when a wall of defense is built, but only daubed with mortar that will not hold. What is it but a sham? It shall fall, is the word to builders. “An overflowing shower cometh, and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall, and a storm of wind shall rend.” So the prophets elsewhere set forth the future and last troubles of Israel, as in Psa. 83., Isa. 28; 29, Ezek. 38:22, Rev. 8; 16. To such a judgment Jehovah pledges Himself, so that every refuge of lies shall be rased and the misleaders and misled be destroyed with the awful conviction that it is God who is thus judging the false prophets and their vision of peaceless peace.
And not men only, but women too took their sad part in the moral havoc of Israel. Therefore the word of Jehovah: “Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you? And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?” (Ver. 17-19.) The influence of women has been great in this world for evil and for good; and as God has deigned to vouchsafe to some of them His best gifts, so we need not be surprised that Satan should employ those he can for ill. The particular form of evil here noticed is their pandering to the ears of their victims and thus catching souls in their toils for the most paltry objects in this life, morally slaying such as should not die and keeping alive such as should not live.
It is thus indeed that error ever acts. False doctrine emboldens the bad and seeks to alarm the good. So the world orders its religion. There may be curses and warnings, but they are powerless because explained away. Yet the rehearsal of them gives an appearance of hating iniquity and loving righteousness; and thus man walks in a vain show till in hell he lifts up his eyes, being in torments. On the other hand, grace is unpalatable to the world and seems a worse than heathenish tolerance of sin. Hence believers, who through love of ease and position go on with the world, never get the food their souls require as born of God, and thus pine in starvation and misery, abstaining in measure from the world's enjoyments and destitute of their proper Christian comfort, putting off avowedly till they reach heaven that communion of saints and worship of their God and Father which ought to characterize them on the earth.
“"Wherefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly. Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.” ("Ver. 20, 21.) It is in vain to oppose God: strange that men or women should hope for success in such warfare! The truth is that will blinds by the enemy's wiles, and they realize not that it is with God they are contending till the struggle ends in their own everlasting confusion, and in the exposure of their devices before such as they hoped to make their victims. “Because ye sadden with falsehood the heart of the righteous whom I have not saddened, and strengthen the hands of the wicked that he should not return from his wicked way that I should save his life.” ("Ver. 22.) God declares that the end of this their destruction fully is come, and withal deliverance to His people whom they had expected to delude. “Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.” (Ver. 23.) Such is the constant knell of judgment on the enemies of Israel within and without. For sinners going on in their sins to know Jehovah is their doom under His mighty hand.

Notes on Luke 22:1-34

The end approaches with all its solemn and momentous issues; which our evangelist relates after the wonted manner, adhering to moral connection rather than illustrating dispensational change, or the series of facts in His ministry, or the glory of His person.
“Now the feast of unleavened [bread] that is called passover was drawing nigh, and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might kill him, for they were afraid of the people. And Satan entered into Judas that is called Iscariot being of the number of the twelve; and he went away and spoke with the chief priests and captains how he should deliver him up to them. And they rejoiced and engaged to give him money; and he agreed fully and was seeking an opportunity to deliver him up to them away from [the] crowd.” (Ver. 1-6.) When the will is thus engaged on the one side and on the other nearness to the Lord was enjoyed without self-judgment, nay, in conscious hypocrisy and the habitual yielding to covetousness, Satan readily found means to effect his own designs, as a liar and murderer, against the Son of God. Yet how reassuring it is to observe that both man and the devil were powerless till the due moment came for the execution of God's purposes which their malice even then only subserved, unconsciously and in a way which they counted most sure to hinder and nullify them. But He catcheth the wise in their own craftiness.
It may be well here to note that the English Version misleads if it be inferred from verse 3 that it was at this time Satan entered into Judas; for we know from John 13:27 that it was only after the sop, the latter Gospel also distinguishing this full action of the enemy from the earlier occasion when he had put it into the betrayer's heart. The truth is that Luke has no expression of time here, using only a particle of transition, and therefore contents himself with the broad fact without entering into the detail of its successive stages, which found their fitting place with him whose task of love was to linger on the person of the Lord.
“And the day of unleavened [bread] came in which the passover was to be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare the passover for us that we may eat. But they said to him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said to them, Behold, when ye have entered into the city, there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he goeth in; and ye shall say to the owner of the house, The Master saith to thee, Where is the guest chamber where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went away and found as he had said to them; and they prepared the passover.” (Ver. 7-13.) There is no ground of difficulty here for him who believes the word of God. He who beforehand could describe thus minutely the person, place, time, and circumstances was in communion with the divine power and grace which controlled the heart of the Jewish householder, even though a stranger hitherto, and made him heartily acquiesce in the Lord's using it for the paschal feast with His disciples. That God should thus order all in honor of His Son for the last passover seems to me beautifully in keeping as a testimony in Jerusalem where the religious chiefs and even a disciple with the mass were hardening themselves to their destruction in His rejection and death.
“And when the hour was come, he took his place, and the apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer, for I say to you that I will not any more at all eat it until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And having received a cup, he gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will in no wise drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God come.” (Ver. 14-18.) What an expression of tender love for the disciples! For the last time He would eat it with them, not at all more. As to the cup of the passover, they were to take and divide it among themselves, not He with them. The passover was to be fulfilled in the kingdom of God; and of the fruit of the vine He would in no wise drink henceforth till the kingdom of God come. It is the sign of the passing away of the old system.
Next, the Lord institutes the new thing in a foundation sign of it. “And having taken a loaf with thanksgiving he broke and gave [it] to them, saying, This is my body that is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup after having supped, saying, This cup [is] the new covenant in my blood, that is poured out for you.” (Ver. 19, 20.) It was a better deliverance on an infinitely better ground, as the cup was the new covenant in His blood, not the old legal one guarded by penal sanction in the blood of accompanying victims. What immeasurable love breathes in “my body that is given for you,” “the new covenant in my blood,” &c. It will be observed that Luke presents a more personal bearing of the Lord's words here, as in the great discourse of chapter 6. Matthew gives rather the dispensational change in consequence of a rejected Messiah.
“But, behold, the hand of him that delivereth me up [is] with me on the table; for indeed the Son of man goeth according to that which is determined, but woe to that man by whom he is delivered up! And they began to question together among themselves which of them could be he that was about to do this. And there was also a strife among them which of them should be accounted greater: but he said to them, The kings of the nations rule over them, and those that exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But ye [shall] not [be] so; but let the greater among you be as the younger, and the leader as he that serveth. For which [is] greater, he that is at table or he that serveth? [Is] not he that is at table? But I am among you as he that serveth. But ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint to you as my Father appointed to me a kingdom, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Ver. 21-30.) The Lord announces the betrayer's presence at that last feast of love. How perfect the grace which knew but never once by behavior made known the guilty soul! how consummate the guile of him who had so long heartlessly companied with such a Master! Now when His death in all its ineffable fragrance and power for them is before Him and as a sign little then appreciated by them, He tells out the sad secret which lay on His heart, a bitter burden He felt for him who as yet felt it not at all. And the disciples question who it could be, but none the less strive for the greater place. How humbling for the twelve, especially at such a moment in presence of Him, of the supper before them, and of the cup before Him alone! But such is flesh, in saints of God most of all offensive when allowed to work. No good thing dwells in it. Tenderly but in faithful love the Lord contrasts the way of men with that which He would cultivate and sanction in His own. The condescension of patronage is too low for saints. It is of earth for nature's great ones. He would have them to serve as Himself. In a ruined wretched world what can the love that seeks not its own do but serve? The greatest is he that goes down the lowest in service. It is Christ: may we be near Him! Then He turns to what they had been in view of His disposal of the kingdom according to the Father's mind, and puts the highest value on all they had done. Matchless love surely this which could thus interpret His calling and keeping them as their continuing with Him in His temptation! But such is Jesus to us as to them, while in the day of glory each will have his place, yet all according to the same rich unjealous grace.
But the Lord makes a special appeal to one while warning all of a common danger. “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has begged for you to sift as wheat, but I have besought for thee that thy faith fail not; and thou, when once turned back, stablish thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both unto prison and unto death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow to-day till thou hast thrice denied that thou knowest me.” (Ver. 31-34.) Love not only brings into what itself possesses, but holds out and provides against the greatest possible strain where every appearance must condemn the object loved. Yet was it no lack of love that exposed Peter to the sin of denying his Master, but his self-confidence made shipwreck of his faithfulness. Through grace alone his faith failed not utterly. We see it not only in the tears of bitter self-reproach, but yet more in the earnest ardor after the Lord which went into the tomb whither John had outrun him. But we see the grace of the Lord, which here supplicated beforehand, still shining after all in the message to the “disciples and Peter,” in His early appearing to him by himself, and in his later more than reinstatement when all his failure was traced and judged to the root. What can we express but our shame and sorrow that such is nature even in the most zealous, when put to the test and above all when the word of the Lord is practically slighted? If we believe not His admonition of our own weakness, we are on the point of proving its truth, perhaps to the uttermost.

Notes on Romans 14:1-12

The apostle now proceeds to treat of a question exceedingly delicate and critical, especially in days and places where the saints consisted of any considerable mixture of converts, brought out of systems so oppressed as those of Jews and Gentiles. What to the strong in faith is an indifferent matter may trouble the conscience of those who are weak, as the apostle here distinguishes them. The weak were such Christians as were still shackled in conscience by their old Jewish observances, as to days, meats, &c, by distinctions not moral hut ceremonial; the strong were those who saw in their death with Christ the end to all such bondage and enjoyed liberty in the Spirit. Carefully must we guard against the offensive misinterpretation that the weak mean those who tampered with evil. Contrariwise so fearful were they of sin that they were needlessly burdened and thus cherished a conscience not tender only, which is of the utmost moment for all, but scrupulous. But they were in no way lax, which is an evil of the greatest magnitude and only exaggerated, not diminished, by increase of knowledge. The weak were really ignorant of the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free, and hence apt to burden themselves continually where they might have found rest for their souls. They knew not that His yoke is easy and His burden light.
The practice to which brethren are called in such matters is mutual forbearance (chaps, 14, 15: 7), all agreeing in doing what they do to the Lord, spite of difference in judgment of what should be done. Room is thus left for growth in knowledge as the word of God opens to our faith, while conscience meanwhile is respected. “Now him that is weak in faith receive not to decision of reasonings. One believeth that he may eat all things, while he that is weak eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not, and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth; but he shall stand, for God is able to make him stand. One esteemeth day above day, while another esteemeth every day. Let each be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day to [the] Lord regardeth [it], [and he that regardeth not the day to the Lord regardeth [it] not.] And he that eateth to [the] Lord eateth, for he thanketh God; and he that eateth not to [the] Lord eateth not and thanketh God. For none of us liveth to himself, and none to himself dieth; for both if we live, to the Lord we live, and if we die, to the Lord we die. Therefore both whether we live and whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this [end] Christ died and lived, that he should rule over both dead and living. And why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou too despise thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God. For it is written, [As] I live, saith [the] Lord, to me shall bend every knee, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account about himself to God.” (Ver. 1-12.) It is obvious that the Gentiles, as having been outside the law, would be least affected by such scruples. But the apostle puts the difference on a ground far deeper and holier than any such accidental and circumstantial distinction after the flesh. A believer whether a Jew or a Greek might freely realize his deliverance from questions of meats or days. Not a few Gentiles in those days knew the law and could not but feel the immeasurable superiority of its institutions as compared with the abominations of the heathen. So we might have difficulty in understanding that those regulations given by the true God through Moses to His people could vanish away, null and void for the Christian. Hence therefore we hear of him that is weak in the faith, as the next chapter opens with the conduct which becomes us who are strong in bearing the infirmities of the weak, the apostle identifying himself of course with such as see earthly restrictions at an end. But while grace alone produces strength in the faith, there is far more behind in the grace which produces it, and what savors more characteristically of Christ. The knowledge of faith is good; the love that is of God, of which Christ was the perfect expression, is still better; and he who has that knowledge is above all called to walk in this love, as indeed every one who is born of God must be. The question of eating and days may concern the least things, but it can only be rightly solved by the deepest truth and the richest grace—both come through Jesus Christ, and the portion really of the Christian. But how little Christians appreciated Christianity then, how much less now!
Undoubtedly then he who believed that he may eat all things is far more right in thought than he who makes a point of eating herbs. Still there was no ground in such prejudices or in their absence for making little of the weak and for judging the strong; for there was a double danger of fault—to him who knew his liberty, of despising the scrupulous; to him who was scrupulous, of judging censoriously the free. But such weakness is no more folly than such strength is laxity; even as divine love is always holy while always free. God has received the believer; and this is said emphatically of him who was judged licentious by the weak; as the brethren on the other hand are called to accept, but not to the determination of controversial questions, him that is weak in the faith. How much ignorance the Lord bears with in the most intelligent! “Who art thou that judgest another's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth.” He beautifully adds (in answer doubtless to many a bitter anticipation of what would be the end of their liberty) “and he shall be made to stand; for the Lord is able to make him stand.” For the strong have no strength of their own, but grace will hold them up. Would we wish it otherwise, if it could be? Do we not delight that all is of Him?
In speaking next of a day regarded above a day the apostle enlarges. Giving up idols the Gentiles saw nothing in one day more than another. The Jew was naturally disposed to cling to old religious associations. But in this the Lord's day is in no way included; for it rests on the highest sanction of the risen Lord (John 20:19, 20), confirmed by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven (Acts 20:7; Cor. xvi. 2; Rev. 1:10), and is no open matter as to which each is to be fully assured in his own mind. For a Christian not to regard the Lord's day would be a direct dishonor put on His own special meeting with His disciples on that day, an open slight to that witness of grace and of the new creation as the sabbath was of the old creation and of law. Only we must bear in mind that, while some lower the ground on which the Lord's day is observed by reducing it to the mere practice or authority of the church, others unwittingly foist into Christianity what properly belongs to man and Israel. But the Christian is not a mere son of Adam or Israel. He is called out from both into an incomparably higher relationship. He is dead and risen with Christ; and to this change the Lord's day is not the least striking testimony. On it the Lord proclaimed His brethren set in the same place with His God and Father as Himself risen from the dead. To confound the Lord's day with the sabbath is to confound the gospel with the law, the Christian with the Jew, Christ with Adam. The very absence of a formal enactment in its case is admirably consistent with its nature as contrasted with that day which, sanctified from the beginning, entered so prominently into God's dealings with Israel as to be a sign between Him and them.
Were the Lord in view then, it would be seen that the eater eats to Him, for he gives God thanks, and the abstainer abstains to Him and gives God thanks. The truth is that we belong to Him, not to ourselves, either in life or in death. Living or dying, it is to Him: whether one or the other therefore, we are His and this grounded on His dying and living (i.e. in resurrection), the grand doctrine of this epistle and the basis of Christianity. Thus is He Lord of all, dead and living. Hence one must be aware of meddling with His rights. “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou too despise thy brother?” We are forgetting our place and His, in thus turning either to the right or to the left.
“For we shall stand before the judgment-seat of God.” To this end is cited Isa. 14:24: every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God. “So then each of us concerning himself shall give account to God.” How incongruous for one to judge, for another to despise? We shall each give an account, and this about ourselves and none else. To bring in Christ truly is the due settlement of every question. To Him all bow that believe, as all unbelievers must bow in that day when He shall judge the quick and dead. The believer comes not into judgment, but shall be manifested there and give account. When those who believe not give account, it is judgment for them, and hence necessarily condemnation; for as they confess no Savior, so they can no longer hide their sins. What David deprecated by the Spirit (Psa. 143:2), we are assured by our Lord Jesus will not be our lot. (John 5:24.) Nor does the believer need judgment to vindicate Jesus; the unbeliever does because he refuses His grace. Thus admirably perfect are the ways of God with both, in everyone and in everything glorifying Himself by Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Counsels of God in Grace and Glory: Part 2

(Eph. 1:7-14.) Part 2
I may remark that it is our positive place before God that lets us into the counsels of God. There is no real knowledge of these counsels except as we stand in our place before God. Knowledge that puffs up is always defective and sterile; it is a statue, not life. There is nothing really connected with it in the mind, when it puffs up. There is a certain place for the believer before God; into this the heart has to get. We are made partakers of the divine nature. Then all these thoughts and counsels of God come to be precious, not as knowledge, but as belonging to the glory of Christ. “I.....beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness.” Where our own souls are before God, according to God, of course there is fellowship and communion with God. Activity, of course, even right activity, tends to bring self in. Take Paul: there was danger of his being puffed up; and the Lord sent a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. When he came down from the third heaven into the ordinary activities of life, there was danger. The thorn was a hindrance to him in his ministry, that the power of Christ might be made manifest in him. The moment he finds what it was, he says, “I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Christ chooses things that are weak that no flesh may glory in His presence.
Taking the general principle, if I enter into the knowledge of divine things, it must be along with God. Love is never puffed up; love likes to serve. I am thus blameless that I may have communion. We cannot have practically a more important truth than that all real divine knowledge is found by being in the presence of God; and whenever we are in the presence of God, there must be lowliness of heart and mind and spirit. God's presence is always a holy thing. There is no true knowledge, and no true communion unless the soul is in that state before Him. There is no more dangerous thing than a certain apprehension of divine things without the soul learning them with God, as we see in Balaam and in Heb. 6. Where you get all the wondrous things of Christianity poured on the mind and natural heart. This is dangerous even if there is life, and fatal if there is not. The revelation of the counsels of God is founded on knowledge of our place with God. The eye cannot bear light from God except so far as we are right with God. Having brought us into the blessed consciousness of this place, where we are at home with God, now He can unfold His counsels as to Christ Himself. Having brought us there in grace, He can trust our hearts with all His plans. There is no real divine knowledge of the counsels of God except so far as we are personally with Him. “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” He reveals to Abraham what He is going to do not with Abraham, but with Lot.
All flows from the soul being consciously in the place where it is set, in Christ. He can then trust us with the knowledge of His will: He can trust the sons of the family with the family affairs.
Christ was a true real man in this world: was He occupied with the interests of His family, or the interests of man? He was subject to His parents. There was in Him perfect obedience, perfect confidence, and—what is so hard for us—perfect waiting. He gave Himself for our sins; He says “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” This is not merely an outward thing. “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Christ was a dying sacrifice; the Christian is to be a living sacrifice, this is to be the whole life of the Christian. We are set at liberty by the power of the life of Christ, and the Holy Ghost is in us, and then we yield ourselves to God. We cannot yield ourselves of ourselves; but the moment we are risen with Christ from the dead, we have the power of the Holy Ghost. Suppose a child is exceedingly anxious to go and see something, if his father desires him to go, there is an instance of perfect liberty and obedience also at the same time. It is a “law of liberty” to us; the new man having the mind of God, its delight is to do the will of God. We do not belong to anything in this world, but only to God. I have no duty that does not belong to a man who has died and is alive again. Blessed path of liberty it is, but a path of liberty to one who has no object but Christ! This is the Christian's place, entirely separated to God. If I am my own, I am a poor lost sinner (Christ never called Himself His own); we are bought with a price, and we belong to God. When in that case, He can open out to us all His wisdom and prudence; “we have the mind of Christ.”
Thus I first get Christ's own place; and this is exceedingly blessed, because it puts us into our place. Our calling is what we are towards God. Remember you do not get dispensed glory, until, as a first thing, you get to God. Christ offers Himself up to God; you have a life to God down here, and then a death to God, before you have the glory. Our relationship to God Himself comes before any acquaintance with the dispensed counsels of God. Responsibility and the counsels of God are distinct. I was a poor sinner: but I find, through the work of Christ, that all that was against me is gone. God's counsels and plans have nothing to do with man's responsibility. When man had come to the point of positive hatred against God, in killing Christ, then the counsels of God were brought out, the mystery hidden in God. All this plan and counsel of God were before ever the world was. Christ in His rejection does the work which is the foundation of everlasting righteousness. Everything that concerned the person of Christ was revealed before, but not the counsels of God. You may find the ascension, resurrection, gifts—all that concerns the person of Christ, but nothing of union with Him, of being members of His body, joint-heirs with Him: all these counsels were hidden. I was a poor sinner, I must have my responsibility met; but this does not say that I should be in the same glory as the Son of God. Not merely has He cleansed our sins, but He has glorified God. Man goes into the glory of God because Man (He was more than man of course) has perfectly glorified God. We are loved as Christ is loved: the world will know it when He appears. Ah! if we only saw where the Christian is placed! It is a terrible thing to see all this rest on the surface. Are you conscious that the Father loves you as He loves Jesus?
The “fullness of times” is spoken of here, not eternity; in eternity we find God all in all. “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ.” This is the thought and purpose of God that everything He has created He will bring under Christ's moral power as Man. He created all things, we read in Colossians. He is going to reconcile the state of things: we are reconciled. The place of the Christian is—absolutely reconciled to God in a world that is not reconciled at all. Everything in heaven and earth will be reconciled. If you want to go as Christians through the world, you must go as absolutely reconciled to God among things not reconciled. You have nothing to do with “things under the earth” here: in Philippians they bow at the name of Jesus. The scene He created He will perfectly restore. His first title is Creator; His second is Son—He is the heir of all things.
Actual creation is always referred to the Son and Spirit—God of course. Man is to be set over it all, set at the head of everything in the fullness of times. As we get into Christ's place in our calling, we get into Christ's place in our inheritance. Whatever He created as God, He inherits as man.
“By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified;” the work is complete and finished for His friends, and He is waiting till His enemies be made His footstool. When that comes, He leaves the Father's throne and takes His own. He who created all things is Son and heir of all things, and He inherits them as man. We are joint-heirs with Him. In the thoughts of God, His Son having become a man, we have become completely associated with Christ. He went alone through the earth, but the moment redemption was completed, He says, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” How thorough is this association! Christ became a man, and in perfect love He brings us to everything He has as man. If He takes everything in heaven and earth, we are joint-heirs with Him (as Eve was with Adam), members of His body. When Mary Magdalene comes to the grave, He says, “Tell my brethren that I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, to my God and your God.”
God's heart is set upon me. It is the fixedness of heart on an object, but besides that I have the confidence that He never takes His eye off me. We get divine love in the nature of God, and, besides that, love set on an object. “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” My inheritance is in Christ, because God has associated me with the Lord Jesus. See the way the apostle dwells on this word “in!”
If I have the love of Christ in my heart, can I look on a world that is under Satan's power, and not be a man of sorrows? We have joy through Christ, if you take that side. If a holy being is in a world of sin he must suffer; if a loving person is in a world of misery, he must suffer.
It is not that the glory is the highest thing, for it concerns self. At the transfiguration Moses and Elijah were in the same glory as Christ; but, more than that, a bright cloud overshadowed them—Jehovah was in the cloud; and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son.” When they went into the cloud, the disciples were frightened. The cloud was, so to speak, the Father's house.
This chapter invariably refers to God, His calling, His inheritance.
“That we should be to the praise of His glory who first trusted in Christ” —hoped before He appears. The world will get a portion under Him, but we a portion with Him. While we must be born of God, there is in the proper sense of the word no glad tidings in telling a man that he must be born again. The thing that is revealed is, that the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared; there is remission of sins and full salvation. Have you never been in God's presence? Were you fit to be there? The veil is rent: we are just as much in God's presence as if we were in heaven; we shall see it more clearly then. I have everlasting life, I have divine righteousness, because I am in Christ. I am brought into God's presence, and I am not there without being fit through the work on the cross. We have not got anything of the inheritance as yet, but we are sealed with the Holy Ghost. The blood of Christ having cleansed me from all sin, the Holy Ghost can take His place because I am clean. “Know ye not that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost?” What if the apostle were to write this to you? Being born again, I have life; when sealed, I have God dwelling in me. The Holy Ghost can take His place as a witness that in God's sight I am as white as snow. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, God dwelleth in him and he in God.” Oh! beloved, what a place the Christian is in! If you confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God is dwelling in you. How are you treating the divine guest? “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed.”
It is not merely quickening, which was from the beginning; but when there is life, the Holy Ghost becomes the seal. I do not want an earnest of God's love. He loved me so perfectly that He gave His Son for me. His is a love proved in the death of Christ, and known in present consciousness. The Holy Ghost is the earnest of the inheritance. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Do not you be looking into your heart to find if He is there. Imagine a child inquiring if he is a child! Look if you are walking up to that. “We are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Do you believe in the truth that “Jesus is the Son of God?” “By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” But “they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.”
The apostle's prayer here is to “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,” that the saint might know what He has wrought, and will for them.
Do you believe that He has put you in the same place with God as He is in Himself? We are in Him, we shall be with Him and like Him, and He gives us the knowledge of it now.
Have your hearts gone back, when accepted, to look at this model? Have your hearts burned within you as you have seen Him, and talked with Him, and have you said “His path is mine?” Has it possessed your souls? This is a matter of daily diligence and conflict. The time will soon come when we shall say, of all that has not been Christ in our lives and ways, “That was all lost.”

Councils, Congress, and Social Science: Part 2

(Continued from page 96.,)
It is a sorry thing to ask, What has become of this grand social system, this nation and its economy, this throne and its Solomon, the city and its prosperity, the temple and its glory, or the feasts of the Lord and the worshippers? It is a yet sadder lesson to learn, that the best and happiest that Jehovah in His infinite wisdom and grace could establish for men (where man is) has become an historical fact, and is behind him! Acquiescence in these ways and judgments of God ought to lead men to repent and turn to the present testimony which He now gives to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the new foundation on which His actings for His own glory and for man's blessing rest. To attempt to reconstruct a social system in this world, where it has already been established and failed through the incompetency of the people of God, is but sparks of man's own kindling! Solomon, in the consciousness of his endowments and resources, asked “What can the man do, that cometh after the king?” A yet weightier question occurs, in the face of what we are considering: What can any congress, or council, or confederation of men accomplish, after the illustrious names by whom God introduced His system of moral and political government, and social order, in the midst of His people Israel?
The prophet Habakkuk gives the counterpart of Solomon's proverb to us, and also the secret of man's present relation to God (in the gospel), when He says, “behold his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Independence and self-will destroy uprightness in the soul, and lead to many inventions; whereas confession and self-judgment bring into a closer walk with God in the path which He opens to the faith of His people. Another prophesied in the days when the heart of Israel was lifted up, and they sought out inventions, “woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen because they are strong; but they look not to the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord.” Now the Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit. “When the Lord shall stretch out His hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down together.” The force and application of these quotations are obvious upon the supposed advancement of men by social science; and the progress of the world into light and blessing, by means of the fourth beast of Daniel and its ten horns, with the mouth that spoke great things. Do the modern leaders of this movement in the old and new world expect to do better than those men who were so eminently endowed by God, and with whom He wrought in counsel, and where He once dwelt? “Happy art thou, Ο Israel: who is like unto thee, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.” (Deut. 33:29.)
Have they any one like Moses, who was with the Lord forty days and forty nights, and did neither eat bread nor drink water? Who but him has ever been entrusted with two tables of testimony—the skin of whose face shone so bright that the children of Israel were afraid to come nigh him, the witness from God (and the link with God) upon the formation of Jehovah's delights with His people? Who but Aaron in his garments of glory and beauty, ever was authorized to enter within the veil into the holiest where God was upon the mercy-seat, to obtain by sacrifice and priesthood the remission of Israel's sins, year by year, on the great day of atonement? The same God, who brought in the light of His majesty and truth to the people in the face of Moses, provided for their failures through Aaron the great high priest, in order that the intercourse thus formed with Himself might be unbroken, even by their sins. But besides Moses with the tables on the mount, and Aaron in the sanctuary with the sweet incense and the blood, “king Solomon made a brazen scaffold of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, in temple times, and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands towards heaven. He stood before the altar of the Lord, and said, Ο Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven nor in the earth; which keepest covenant and showest mercy unto thy servants that walk before thee with all their hearts.”
Mediation, priesthood, and kingship, were thus established between Jehovah and His beloved people, and became the channels through which this intimacy, and their social happiness were maintained. In the midst of all this kingdom glory, and closeness of communion with God, the greatest man was the lowliest. Though lifted up and magnified exceedingly, eclipsing all else as he sat upon the throne of Israel, he would not exalt himself, nor rest in the exaltation bestowed upon him; but bless and praise the God of his father David, who had fulfilled His promises. The Lord had done His best in outward prosperity and blessing for the king and the nation, by leading them into rest, and peace, and glory with Himself, in His own city Jerusalem; and there He rejoiced over them with joy and gladness! Solomon with the people are at their height as they ascribe all this blessing (come down to man, where man is) through the covenant which was made with the patriarchs and with David. “And on the three-and-twentieth day of the seventh month, he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had showed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” All bids fair to abide, when thus committed to the hands of the wisest and best of men; who, in the deepening sense of human insignificance, thus brought into contact with the majesty and faithfulness of Jehovah, asked, “but will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold heaven, and the heaven of heavens, cannot contain thee: how much less this house which I have built!” In short, a theocracy was established, in the wisdom and goodness of God, which embraced the moral and social condition of mankind, both in their relations with their fellow men and with the Creator. We have seen how this form of government and worship was set up, and sought to be carried out in unbroken social intercourse, between God and His people in Immanuel's land; as a witness that He had neither left the earth, nor men in it, to their own inventions. “Three times in a year, shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty.”
Such was His identification with His people, and His own delight to dwell in their midst—to fill all hearts with gladness, and all hands with plenty. This throne and its king, this temple and its priests, this city and its rulers, the land and its inhabitants, are no more. Costly and perfect institutions, with their costlier services, and their codes of laws, political and religious, have likewise passed away. A theocracy, and an economy suited to it, are behind men; the mournful records that even such helps and encouragements as were introduced could not permanently lift man above himself. On the contrary, all these magnificent and remedial measures were dragged down to the low level upon which they found him and sought his deliverance and welfare. The psalmist of Israel affirms this. “They tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies;” when He heard this, He was wroth and greatly abhorred Israel, and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand; He gave His people also unto the sword, and was wroth with his inheritance.” The ministry of all the prophets followed, by which they were besought to “forsake their inventions,” and the broken cisterns they had hewn which could hold no water, and to repent of their back-slidings in “uprightness of heart,” that God might forgive their iniquities. He likewise openly punished them, and drove them away out of His presence into Babylon; and brought them back in His mercy by the decree of Cyrus under Ezra and Nehemiah. Long time suffered He their transgressions, reasoning and saying, “Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will only revolt more and more; the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint: from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores.” The highest authoritative power under law, by Moses and a ministration of angels, had only proved the people incompetent to hold the blessing; for they brought themselves under its curses, and forfeited their relations to God, by their iniquity, so that He was compelled to be their Judge. The wisest and most able administration, by which this nation was to have been elevated above all the nations of the earth, collapsed, and only finds its record in the statute book of Deuteronomy, and the early chronicles of David and his greater son. The problem of human advancement, and a nation's progress as well as the world's prospects by moral means, has been long since brought out and solved, as we have seen. Moreover, that people are made a hissing and a byword before the eyes of the Gentiles to this day. The very best, the brightest, and the fairest that could be done for man, reached their perfection and concentrated themselves in blessing upon Solomon and the throne, as God's center of earthly prosperity and of unity between Himself and His creatures. At that same moment the responsibility of this illustrious king began, into whose hands all was entrusted, and, like Adam in the paradise of Eden, almost as soon forfeited. Does God repeat this problem—much less ask the learned, the wise, and the scientific to take it in hand in modern days? Will their present systems compare with His past and future? He has postponed this kind of social intercourse with men till the millennium is introduced, when other and heavenly agencies will be employed (at the coming of the Lord, and the outpouring of the Spirit upon Israel) by which His people shall be all righteous, and brought into final blessing in the land under their Messiah through the blood of the new covenant. The pioneers and guides of public opinion may well stop to consider what has been already done, and vanished away like a tale that is told. If they propose far less, and even compromise, yea sacrifice, the rights of God, that they may find their task easier, will He on that account surrender them? If men shut Him out of their schemes, will He consent to be shut out? If they say “let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us, he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision.” Who so fit as the wisest among men, and the central man in all that magnificent system, established between God and His people for His own and their delights, to declare, “lo, this only have I found, that God made man upright, but he has sought out many inventions?” Who so competent as the sweet psalmist of Israel prophetically to say, “be wise now therefore Ο ye kings, be instructed ye judges of the earth, serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling, kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little?” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” “Ichabod” is indelibly written over the departed glory from the temple and the city of the great king, and Immanuel's land, which were once the bright witnesses of the yet brighter intimacy formed and tenderly cultivated between the Lord and His beloved people.
The writings of the Old Testament (which contain these records in full) would be merely historical, did they not likewise hold out to the faith of the nation a bright future, when He who scattered them into the four corners of the earth shall gather them together again; “for this is as the waters of Noah unto me.” “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall my covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee;” and this is God's order of blessing for the earth. If the wise men and rulers of the nations refuse to take warning from the history of God's favored people, but think themselves wiser than He—and the Gentiles better than the Jews—if they thus encourage one another—let them listen to the prophet Daniel, as to what is before them. “The fourth beast shall he the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall arise after them.... and he shall speak great words against the most High.... and think to change times and laws.... But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end. And 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, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.” (Dan. 7:23-28.)
J, Ε. B.

Difference Between Christianity and the Future Kingdom

Psa. 14 and Isa. 59, which the Apostle Paul quotes as proofs of sin in the Jews, both end with deliverance in Jerusalem by power. In Rom. 3 the sin is met by present justification through the blood of Jesus. What a testimony to the difference between Christianity and the future kingdom of Jehovah!

Modern Millenarianism

My Dear——,
You will be pleased to hear that I lately fell in with the British Quarterly Review, containing the article on Modern Millenarianism, which a good while ago you wanted me to read. Though particularly occupied just now with souls—a far better and more important object than books—I must try to find time for a few remarks on the paper, the tone of which greatly commends the writer to my heart, if I dissent from most of his conclusions on the subject.
One quite agrees with him that the Jews were wrong not intellectually merely but morally in excluding from their faith a rejected, suffering, crucified Messiah—in expecting His glory without His sufferings. “We can now see, from Genesis to Malachi or at least Zechariah, plain intimations that He must needs first suffer. But even disciples were slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken. Alas! it is ever so. The present testimony of God, at any given epoch, is always the test truth, but strong and simple faith ever cleaves to it in spite of shame and disrepute. (Compare Heb. 11) So, while the Shekinah was present in the holy of holies, Israel was constantly tempted to lust after idols: when that was withdrawn, these ceased to be the special temptations, as is obvious in the later prophets. So, when a Christ in humiliation was presented to faith, Israel would none of Him.
But, again, the promise of a glorious returning Christ, we know from 2 Peter, was to fare no better with the last-day scoffers; and it is to be remembered that saints, if mingling much with the world, its literature, its philosophy and its politics, must inevitably be tinctured more or less by the spirit of the ago. Such seems to me the condition of the writers in this Review, if we take the article on Lord Macaulay and especially pages 26, 27 as a specimen of their sentiments on the momentous topic therein discussed. One can understand God overruling the existence of sects and employing their activity and even rivalry; but it argues a moral blindness to God's object and glory in His church on earth to treat sectarianism as not merely a peccadillo but the legitimate consequence of a right principle. “The very disunion he notices in our church arises from the strength and excellence of its principle.” &c. “Sectarianism is, as we have said, the necessary consequence of the first principle of Protestantism.” It may be “of Protestantism,” but assuredly not of Christianity, whose inspired records and standards uniformly condemn it, root and branch, as a fleshly evil. (1 Cor. 1; 3; Gal. 5) Need it surprise one to read in another paper, page 269, that Cromwell was the noblest product of Puritanism as it was of Protestantism, and this again of Christianity? For, sad to say, pride is often in the ratio of degradation. Nor can we be astonished that both writers are warm admirers of Mr. Carlyle and his writings, and that the latter is so tender to skeptics of the class of John Sterling. The spirit of such scribes savor of the world, not of the Father, and can only corrupt the saints from the simplicity that is in Christ. I would not, I do not, till I know more, confound article 6 with articles 1 and 8: but beyond a doubt the connection is not the best. So that one should not look for any great light on prophetic or dispensational truths in a publication which endorses unsound doctrine on a question so distinctly answered in scripture, and so important in practice, as that of sectarianism—whether it be a good or bad thing. If wrong about the church's present responsibility, a writer, whom such a class of men would tolerate, could not be expected to be right about the future glory of Christ. Their principle is the exaltation of man in his present state, of Christians in their existing denominationalism; in a word, of Christendom as it is. As this principle naturally leads to the justification of sects, so it fears and dislikes the coming of Christ in judgment of what they justify and of all other evil; it fosters the expectation, unauthorized by scripture, of a reign of the gospel, instead of submitting to the testimony of the gospel of the reign; at best, it seeks a present escape from tribulation, and a proximate triumph for the church (without Christ) on earth, instead of waiting for the appearing of both in a glory whereby the world shall know that the Father sent the Son and loved the church as He loved Him. It goes much farther, even to joining with papists and infidels to overthrow a rival religious body in the vain expectation of bettering society, without imputing more selfish motives. But I am writing an essay, instead of offering a few remarks on the paper.
To return then, it is allowed that Mr. R. Herschel’s thoughts and criticisms (given in pp. 153, 154) are incorrect, though there are in them elements of truth, as in those of his critic. Surely no serious person would contend that in Acts 7:38 the word ἐκκλησὶα has the same force as in Acts 2 or Matt. 16; 18. The truth is, that the word in itself means “assembly,” and is capable of application to a bad or good one, a civic or a religious one, the congregation of Israel in the Old Testament, or the church of God in the New Testament; that is, it proves nothing for the question at issue. Again, I grant and constantly teach, that the Abrahamic promises are quite distinct from God's grace to the church. They involve blessing for the Gentiles, but surely for “thy seed” in a larger measure and a higher mode; whereas the essential feature of “the mystery” is the abolition of any such distinctions between Jew and Gentile. This perfectly falls in with my view, but seems to be excluded by the system of the review, though the principle is surrendered in page 155. In the millennium the Abrahamic promises will be the governing idea; now it is “the mystery” (though it is also true that, in virtue of union with Him who is Abraham's Seed in the highest sense, we enjoy those promises in principle, as is taught in Gal. 3) As to the second point neither Isa. 65 nor Amos 9, cited in Acts 15 teach the long-continued rejection of Israel, much less do they reveal the calling of the church. They leave room for it and agree with it doubtless: but the calling of a body which knows neither Jew nor Gentile within itself, but of both makes one new man, was a mystery as yet hid in God, not disclosed in the prophecies though they might confirm it when it was disclosed. I agree that it was made known not to Paul only but to the New Testament apostles and prophets, and to Paul emphatically. So, too, it is agreed that Herschell's construction of Eph. 3 is a total mistake. But it remains true, that while the church shares many blessings of which the Old Testament speaks, her own proper characteristics as Christ's body and bride were not predicted but hidden previously, save in types which gave no light till themselves received it through the revelation of the mystery in Paul's epistles.
We maintain then, not that Israel, and Judah, Jerusalem, and Sion, the priests and the Levites, may not be typical of God's people now in some of their manifold relations to God and man, but that the church as such, the fullness of Him who filleth all in all, is nowhere predicted in the Old Testament, though prophets may allude to and bring out particular features which are of course true of those who compose the church: as, for instance, God's visiting the Gentiles, &c. But surely this itself is not the church. And if any part of the Old Testament does, where and what is it? Indeed Eph. 3 and Col. 1 ought to be enough, I think, to set aside such a notion. The use of Isa. 54 in Gal. 4 is in no way adverse, but just what we freely allow. If the critic will have it to mean more, as he appears to do in speaking of “its proper fulfillment,” he must know that one can easily disprove so narrow a way of interpreting the prophecies; and this from the New Testament use of Old Testament prophecy. Gal. 4 says nothing of the sort, and the context of Isa. 54 repudiates such exclusiveness and claims much more, without denying that this was an accomplishment of it. (Compare Matt. 2:15, 17, 18, &c.) This, then, is the answer to what is urged in pages 159-163.
The “olive-tree” is a distinct idea, and must not be confounded with the “one new man” of Eph. 2. The olive-tree was not a new thing, and goes up no higher than Abraham: Abel, Enoch, Noah have nothing to say to it. It is the tree of earthly testimony, the responsible separated witness of God, and extends into the millennium when all Israel shall be saved. It does not obliterate Jewish and Gentile distinction, but maintains the Jews to be the natural branches though Gentiles may be for a season grafted in. But the “one new man” is above such differences. Here both are brought in and reconciled in pure grace. Here there are no natural members. All is supernatural, and the idea of cutting off is unknown. Whereas, in Rom. 11, the Jews were cut off in part that the Gentiles might be grafted in amongst them. This clearly then is a place which Christendom now holds in continuation of Israel, liable to be cut off if unfaithful, and in no way clashing with the truth in Ephesians that the church as such has her own peculiar privileges, which, so far from being enjoyed, were not even revealed before the descent of the Spirit, consequent on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and His ascension to heaven.
Nor is the new birth what makes the one body, but the baptism of the Spirit. Compare Acts 1:4, 5 with 1 Cor. 12:13. All saints in all ages are necessarily born of the Spirit; but to be baptized of the Spirit was the new and distinctive blessing never realized before Pentecost. And this it is which forms the church, as we learn from 1 Corinthians, &c. Accordingly Heb. 12 expressly distinguishes “the spirits of just men made perfect” (i.e., the Old Testament saints) from “the church of the firstborn,” &c.
As to what is said on prophecy, it is clear to me that the reviewer does not see that, besides man's sin, and the new birth, and redemption, with their great issues, scripture treats largely of the government of the world whereof Israel was the earthly center, as we are told in Deut. 32 Now, just as clearly the close of this vast tragedy is placed at the end of the age. Thus, I believe that the predictions which speak of the Lord's glory, revealed in judgment and government of this world, await their grand fulfillment, though pledges may have been given. One cannot but be sorry to see him repeat the objection of German skeptics and others founded on Edom, Moab, &c, having ceased to be. Even to the poor Jew they still exist, and God remembers them, howsoever they may be called now; and when the day of visitation arrives, He will judge them as such. At least, all he says here is assumption, and, so far from disproving anything, itself requires proof, and is against the evidence of such scriptures as Dan. 11:41, &c. There is no more difficulty in their re-appearing than in that of the ten tribes; and those who believe in the future restoration of the one cannot well deny the future judgment of the other. The idea of germinant accomplishments of either we feel no disposition to reject; but they are rather an argument for than against the full manifestation; as the many antichrists in the apostle's time proved that it was the last time, at the close of which the Antichrist should come, they inchoate accomplishments, he the ultimate. Undoubtedly there is truth in applying prophecies; for they have their partial developments which the spiritual man may and ought to judge; but where scripture is to be interpreted, the grand matter is the full meaning, not what is true merely hut what is adequate, and what exhausts the terms of the prediction. This is, I humbly judge, a sufficient reply to the use made of Deut. 30; Isa. 11; 43; Jer. 23; 30; 31; 33; Ezek. 20; 37; Amos 9,; Zech. 8; 12.
On the “promises made to the fathers” we need not dwell as so much has been said by others. The subject of the resurrection and the judgment may claim more notice. Simultaneity of either is taught nowhere in scripture, so far as I know. What looks most like it is John 5:28, 29. But the reviewer must be aware that ὥρα (“hour”) is capable of meaning a long protracted period—nay, that it is so used, a few verses before, of the quickening-hour (i.e., from the days of our Lord to the present moment). Why then may not the hour in which the resurrection occurs extend over a period of a thousand years or more, if so required by Rev. 20 or other scriptures? Matt. 25, so far from being a judgment of all the dead, includes not one dead person (if so, where?) and, even of the quick, it is not universal. It is a judgment of “all the Gentiles,” as distinguished from the Jews who are disposed of in Matt. 24. No doubt it is a final judgment, so far as regards those concerned. That it is universal, even to look at the living only—that it embraces the dead is to beg the question. Again, Acts 17:31 is a judgment of the οἰκουμένη, thehabitable earth” and its inhabitants. No dead people are here referred to. That is, the proofs alleged are really no proofs at all.
The main objection to taking Rev. 20:4-6 literally, as stated in page 183, seems to be that these verses do not include all the saints from the beginning. But do they not? The reviewer, like many others, restricts verse 4 to the martyrs and confessors, leaving out entirely those referred to in the first clause. Now the verse really speaks of three classes. “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them” —a purposely broad and vague category, so as to include the elders who obtained a good report by faith, and us for whom God provided some better thing, (that is, saints generally, whether martyred or not,) followed by the two special companies of sufferers whom the Apocalypse so largely describes. (Chaps, 6, 12, 15.) The interpretation which loses sight of a clause whose terms are purposely so comprehensive as the first in this verse is quite unreliable, and the true force of “the first resurrection” comes out more plainly than ever. Compare with it Luke 20:35, 36; Rev. 20:4 is a description of all saints who reign with Christ, not of a part only, nor of mere representatives, but of the whole. “The souls τῶν πεπελεκισμένων,” &c. are in addition to, not a specification of, those already seen enthroned. The impersonal use, as Stuart contends, of ἐκάθισαν falls in with this, and the αὐτοῖς would refer to the sitters on thrones, followed by the groups of persons first seen disembodied, and subsequently united to their bodies. This is the simple meaning of the verse, as all can see when it is suggested, and accordingly κριμα has its ordinary signification.
It is admitted by the reviewer that, if John had said anywhere “This is the second resurrection,” the explanation would have been authoritative. Now it is not duly observed, that “this is the first resurrection” is the divine explanation of the first vision, not the symbol but the authoritative solution of it; just as much as, in all earlier scene, “the seven heads are seven mountains” and “the ten horns are ten kings.” Here, as in so many other scenes, you have first the hieroglyphic and then the key. I admit that the expression as to the postmillennial judgment scene is “This is the second death,” not the second resurrection, because the point is not merely their reappearing but their awful and endless doom, the lake of fire. No resurrection can be inferred from verses 7-9: but there is a life-resurrection in verses 4-6, and in verses 11-15 a judgment-resurrection; the one comprehending those who have done good, the other, those who have done evil, as in John 5, and the word “hour” in verse 28, as we have seen from the analogy of verse 25, leaving ample space for the intervening period.
As to the objections in page 186, &c. 1. I deny that the life and reign, &c. is the judgment. It is a connected but distinct thing. 2. I have already denied that there is the smallest intimation of a resurrection in Matt. 25:30, 31. 2 Cor. 5:10 speaks only of the saints, as the reviewer seems to admit in page 183. Acts 17:31 is equally irrelevant. It is not necessary that the two resurrections should be parallel: they are really contrasted in character. 3. The limit of a thousand years is with the reign, not with the life, though in another sense they reign everlastingly. The comparison of verse 6 with 4 is decisive as to this. Why then should not the resurrection in verses 12, 13 be a sequel to 41 and 5? 4. Our view preserves the antithesis much more than the ordinary one, and is unobjectionable on that score. I do not admit the correspondence between 2 Cor. 5 and Rev. 20 if only because the former must take in “us all,” i.e. is universal, while I believe that of Rev. 20 is of the unjust only. There are alas! bad works in God's servants, and the Lord is not indifferent to building up such materials as wood, hay, and stubble upon Christ, but there are no good works in the unjust. Hence, in the account of this last judgment, there is no hint of any good things, more than of good men; while in 2 Cor. 5 you have both, though the good be not unmixed in the saints. This, in Rev. 20:11-15, is the κρίσις, and no man living shall be justified there—no, not if God entered into it with His servants; but they have everlasting life and shall not come into κρίσις. They are passed from death unto life, though the Lord Jesus will beyond doubt examine their ways, and then shall every man have praise to God. Not a word in the closing scene of Rev. 20 implies the presence of a saved soul: all is consistent with the idea that the judgment is of the wicked only, the book of life being brought forward on God's part, so to speak, as the books were on man's; and both appearing in their terrible sentence. Even the reviewer is obliged to allow that the expression, “till the thousand years,” &c. does not necessarily restrict the resurrection of the rest of the dead to that moment, but simply that it cannot be before. Besides, there is a difference in the way in which Satan's release is spoken of, μετὰ ταῦτα δ. ἀ. λ. μ. χ This formula does tie the loosing of Satan to the close of the thousand years, but is nowhere used about the resurrection of the rest of the dead. So that the argument tells exactly against the point desired. 5. It is astonishing how sensible Christians like the reviewer, Dr. David Brown, &c, overlook the fact that “the dead” is a phrase which, at the epoch in question, coincides as a fact with “the rest of the dead.” In Rev. 20:12 either phrase might have been used, on our theory; in chapter 11: 18 only τ. v. the dead, and not “the rest of the dead.” In the passage before, οὺς ν. means all the dead (that is, of course, excepting those raised more than a thousand years before); in the other passage it means all the dead too (that is, just as simply good and bad, because it is before all resurrections, as the other is after one of them). These objections, suggested by the context, are really null, and verses 7-9 are the antithesis to verses 1-3, and not to 4-6 which finds its contrast in 11-15; the loosing of Satan, &c, to his being bound, and the second death to the first resurrection.
I must beg the reviewer's pardon for thinking his view of the whole scene, &c, both careless and beyond reasonable belief. The triumphs of the principles of martyrs cannot be called God's judgment and vengeance for their blood on those that dwell on the earth. Besides, what was celebrated in heaven (Rev. 5:10) was that they should reign on (or over) the earth—not their cause merely, but themselves. One can understand principles reigning or perhaps by a harsh figure being “kings;” still it would be hard, as some have said, to make “priests” of them, while it perfectly suits the person; and lastly, while it is quite intelligible for an affectionate laborer, rejoicing over his tried brethren, to say, “now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord,” it is not so to speak of the souls of beheaded ones living, save in the sense of being united to their bodies. In other words, there is no analogy whatever between the context of 1 Thess. 3, and of Rev. 20 As to 1 Cor. 4:8, one cannot, for a moment, accept an interpretation so vague. They were anticipating the time of the kingdom, having tired of the place of tribulation and patience. Would to God, says Paul, that the time for reigning had really come, that we, poor, despised, buffeted, hungry, devoted to death, might reign with you!
The explanation offered of “the rest of the dead” is, if I remember rightly, what Dr. Wardlaw offered long ago. It is only conceivable in those who have studied very superficially, and who wish not to reduce their ideas to the vision, but to accommodate the vision to their ideas. Look at other passages of the book, where οἰ λοιόἰ occurs; and is it not a phrase immediately related to the context wherein it occurs? See in chapter 2:14, “you, the rest in Thyatira who have not this doctrine,” &c, antithetical to those described in the same scene, or epistle, who had. Again, in chapter 9: 20 the non-repentant remnant is in contrast with the killed third part of men, as in chapter 11:11 the affrighted remnant after the slain seven chiliads. Again, in chapter 12: 13-17 you have the dragon persecuting the woman who brought forth the man-child: he is caught up out of the way, she flees, the earth helps, and the furious dragon goes away to make war with the remnant of her seed, i.e., evidently in contrast with τὸν ἄῤῥενα just named. So again in chapter 19 by οἰ λοιόἰ, the remnant, is meant that part of the Lord's enemies which remained for the sword that proceeded out of His mouth, after the beast and false prophet were cast alive in the lake of fire—a living remnant who are to be thus judged, and there the scene closes. Then, after the intervention of quite a different vision wherein an angel is seen securing the serpent for a long but limited space, there comes before the prophet the vision of thrones filled already with sitters upon them, beside two other classes of holy and blessed sufferers who are subsequently said to be clothed with their bodies (i.e. “they lived") and reigned, as well as the precious enthroned ones. In contrast with those who lived, the rest (οἰ λοιόἰ) of the dead are clearly another remnant, not a living but a dead remnant who do not receive life till the millennium closes. That this is spoken of natural death, and of life after that, is manifest from the fact that both they, and the first resurrection class, who together form “the dead,” are here regarded as having been “dead” in the same sense. The death, therefore, common to both can only be natural death, and hence also the resurrection is a real literal resurrection of the saints before the millennium, and of “the rest of the dead” after it. The distinction is certainly as plain as possible between the remnant in Rev. 19 and that in chapter 20.
Further, one must repeat that the whole is not merely symbolical. Doubtless the thrones are symbols here, as are the white horses in the preceding chapter. But then we have, besides, the revealed explanation— “this is the first resurrection.” It is not then a resurrection, as in Ezek. 37, used to symbolize some other action of divine power and grace but a vision is seen, and the Holy Ghost explains it as the first resurrection, shared by those who are priests of God and of Christ, and who reign with Him a thousand years. Then, upon the loosing of Satan, we have the last rebellion of mankind—the nations from the four quarters of the earth, who are devoured by fire from God out of heaven, and of course added to the rest of the dead whom “the first resurrection” had left undisturbed in their graves. Subsequently appears a great white throne, and One sat upon it from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And the dead are seen standing before the throne, and the final assize ensues. This is no coming of Christ in judgment of the earth, and of course all mention of living saints caught up to Him is absent. It is a judgment of the dead before the throne, not an advent of Christ to the earth, for earth and heaven are fled before His face. Not a word is hinted about His coming to the living, but the dead stand before Him—where is not said, but it is clearly neither the heaven nor the earth that now are, but both will have disappeared. This then is not at all the time nor the circumstances described in Matt. 25; for there you have all the nations, as such, gathered and separated before Him after He has come (to earth) and taken His seat (not on the great white throne for judging the dead but) upon the throne of His glory when He shall judge the Gentiles, when the apostles shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. That is, the popular scheme is confusion, a vain attempt at harmonizing a scene of judgment of nations (on the earth of course, for there are none in heaven, nor in eternity), with one so different in nearly every respect as the judgment of the dead: here no living are in question, there no dead. It seems therefore the extreme of hardihood, in the way of interpretation, both to expunge the personal coming of the Lord in judgment of the quick from Rev. 19:11-21 where it is more fully described than in any part of scripture, and to insert it in Rev. 20:11-13 where it unquestionably is not depicted, and could not be; for at that time there are no quick to judge and no earth to come to—a double failure, in the latter adding to, and in the former taking from, the plain force of the words of this prophecy. Possibly Acts 17:31 may coincide with Matt. 25, but not 2 Cor. 5:10 for reasons already given, all being distinct in character from Rev. 20:11-13 as shown above. The reviewer's reason for denying that Rev. 19:11-21 describes a personal coming appears to be akin to those who object, because it dwells so elaborately upon the person of the “Word of God who comes to make war! whereas in Rev. 20 we are to suppose His personal coming must be, because it is not described at all!! Is this “God's pure daylight, the true analogy of scripture,” beaming upon the apocalyptic symbols?
I know not who ever drew so crude an inference from 1 Thess. 4:16 as that which the reviewer calls “the argument,” unless it were some ill-taught Bloomsbury lecturer. Every one else holding the pre-millennial advent known to me interprets both clauses in this and the following verse as he does; so that the argument does not lie there, but in the fact of the resurrection here noticed being exclusively that of the righteous at Christ's coming; whereas that of the unrighteous, as we have just seen from Rev. 20, is when heaven and earth have fled away and His coming is out of the question. It may be, of course, that some ignorant person has so argued; but we are no more responsible for such mistakes than is the reviewer for the crudities of many of his friends. A similar remark applies to the alleged millenarian use of 1 Cor. 15:23, 24. I can only say that such egregious misinterpretations are new to me. All well-instructed students of prophecy that 1 am acquainted with admit and contend that τὸ τέλος means the end (not of the dead but) of Christ's kingdom which He takes as the exalted man; that the only resurrection here treated of, besides Christ's, is of those who are His. On the other hand, there is not the least foundation for the reviewer's statement that “when they were gathered in, the end of His temporary mediatorial dispensation would have arrived.” There are three epochs referred to: first, the resurrection of Christ; next, that of His people (in order to reign with Him); then, the end of this kingdom when He delivers it up to God even the Father, death itself having died. Now this is manifestly confirmed by 2 Tim. 4, where the judgment of quick and dead is connected with “His appearing and His kingdom” —not as if His kingdom closed with His appearing, but rather that His appearing ushers in His kingdom; and, before that kingdom terminates, the resurrection of the wicked and all judgment are necessarily over. So also Rev. 20, where we have the resurrection of the holy severed by more than a thousand years from that of the rest of the dead, and it is with their judgment (and not the first resurrection) we find the annihilation of death connected in this chapter. Here again the same remark applies as has been said of 1 Thess. 4—they that are Christ's rise at His coming; and of these only and separately does 1 Cor. 15 speak; whereas “the dead” which remain, after the millennium is closed, are not raised till His coming is an impossibility, for the earth is fled away. I should say therefore, that the separate and subsequent resurrection of the wicked conclusively follows from a comparison of 1 Cor. 15 with 2 Tim. 4 and Rev. 20, as well as the truth that the kingdom in question fills the interval between the ἔπειτα and the εἶτα (i.e., the “afterward” and the “then” of these verses).
I am glad “the reviewer gives up, as not sufficiently explicit, the usual way of neutralizing the force of the expression “resurrection from the dead,” as distinct from “resurrection of the dead.” Others too, I remember, have been either ignorant or unfair on this head: for though “the resurrection from the dead” is of course a fortiori “of the dead,” never does the converse hold; and this establishes their distinctive character. The natural meaning of the terms is selection, and therefore priority in rising of those selected. To say “not priority,” after admitting that it implies selection, is to my mind unintelligible; and it must be repeated that Matt. 25:32 does not state or imply but exclude resurrection from that scene. Again, one cannot understand the note which says that “we lay no stress on the difference between ἐξανἀστασιν τῶν ν. (as Rec. and Griesbach have it) and τῆω έκ ν. (as Scholz, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Wordsworth, and Tregelles read).” Why, the difference is that the former is wrong and the latter right, the former is a contradiction in terms, while the latter is established by external evidence and harmonizes the internal. Thus the argument in favor of a separate precious resurrection of the righteous appears sound and decisive, and the popular notion of one common resurrection of all the dead is contrary to the plainest scriptures.
Yours affectionately, W. K.

Peculiar Views

One of the symptoms of latitudinarian infidelity at the present day is the dislike of what they call “peculiar views;” and this is the more subtle as it is often found among orthodox men in churchism as well as dissent, who count themselves and are accounted by others as far as possible from unbelief.
But it is unbelief so to deal with any truth taught in God's word; and all the truths of revelation will be found at bottom “peculiar views” to the natural mind when their edge comes in contact with the will of man. Thus election, eternal life, human responsibility, divine judgment, everlasting punishment, when faced, prove stumbling-blocks no less than the Deity of the Son and of the Spirit, incarnation, atonement, resurrection, and imputation of righteousness.
It is the same principle even among Christians when they cavil against the assertion of the Holy Spirit's presence, the church's heavenly character, the completeness of redemption, the distinctive calling of the Christian, the coming and the day of the Lord. For it is the same evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, which, in the unbeliever rejecting the Lord Jesus and the grace of the gospel, in the believer decries as “peculiar views” those truths which are essential to the glory of the Lord and the well-being of the Christian, but ignored if not rejected throughout Christendom.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Galatians 2:16

Q. Gal. 2:16. It has been lately asserted on the strength of ἐὰv μή in this verse, that, since it is by faith of Him who is the end and fulfilling of the law that men are justified, it involves in itself the full virtue of a legal righteousness. The apostle does not say, as he often does elsewhere, that man is not justified by works but by faith simply; but that he is not justified by works of law “except through faith of Jesus Christ,” that faith receiving as its portion not only a clearance from all legal blame, but by imputation the positive merit also of that righteousness of law, which, described by Moses, is found only in the man Christ Jesus and with the rest of His personal perfections carried to the account of those who have by grace their redemption and their acceptance equally in Him. It is by the obedience of One, as the same witness testifies, that the many are made righteous—language which, while harmonizing perfectly with the fundamental doctrine of sacrificial atonement, invites us to consider, not the definitive act of dying only by which the Son of God brought to its predestined close the course of His obedience here below, but the proved personal merit also of the man who gave Himself and all that He had shown Himself to be for our sins.....The tables of stone, fit emblems of its (the law's) own unrelenting character, and also of the intrinsic strength and stability of that Man who should perfectly discharge its claims, have disappeared forever......No longer enmity, law is, in Christ, a part of that “great peace,” which is the eternal portion of them that, in the spirit of a justifying faith, serve still with their minds the law of God. Such is the statement: is it just?
Is it true, in short, that this is the natural force of the words ἐὰν μὴ διὰ Ἰησοῦ as contrasted with ἐκ πίστεως, and that it would be possible to justify the authorized version only on the assumption of a large ellipsis?Man is not justified by works of law” (and therefore not justified at all), except by faith of Jesus Christ. Does the remainder of the verse, as it stands in the original, appear to forbid this?
Inquirer A. I do not think the smallest doubt can rest on the sense of Gal. 2:16. We have only to read the rest of the verse to make the meaning of the apostle perfectly clear, and more than clear if possible, earnestly contradicting such a sense: ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἒργων νόμου. That makes his meaning incontrovertible. But he adds, as anxious to insist on the point, διότι ἐξ ἒργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθἡσεται πᾶσα σάρξ. How this can be an explanation that we shall be justified by works of law by the faith of Christ, I am at a loss to understand. But it is a mistake as to the force of εἰ μή or εἰ δὲ μή. Not that it is not used as “unless” or “except.” But its connection with the main idea of the previous phrase, and opposition to the manner there stated, is common: it is really stronger than ἀλλά, having the force of only, or but only. Compare Rom. 14:14, where the δι' αὑτοῦ must be left out, and the unclean, or main idea taken by itself. Only in that case a thing is unclean, and the point is the opposition to the way or manner. It is exactly so here. There κοινός! is the common idea, justifying here, δἰ αὑτοῦ the special case hypothetically put and denied. Introduce δἰ αὑτοῦ into the second member of the sentence and you make nonsense of the whole. And so you do here if we read what follows. So Matt. 12:4. It was not lawful for him to eat nor those with him, but only for the priests. So Luke 4:26, 27, but (or but only) to Sarepta, which was not in Israel: so as to Naaman. There is always the contradiction of or opposition to something in εἰ μή. The question is to what? In the first case it is of priests to common Jews; in Luke it is to “in Israel!” in Romans “by nature” or to him who so esteems it; in Galatians law and Christ; and always a common idea too, as in Matthew, lawfulness to eat; in Luke, widows or lepers; in Romans uncleanness; in Galatians, justifying. Hence the common idea is not uncommonly left out, and only εἰ δὲ μή put in, and the contradicting matter only stated. Meyer, Ellicott, De Wette, Hammond, Fritzsche on Rom. 14:14, all take it as “but,” or “but only” in Gal. 2:16. The difference of ἀλλά seems to me to be that there is not necessarily a common point or subject as well as contrast, but simply contrast (not this, but that) with εἰ μή! there is always a common point about which the contrast takes place. But it is a great mistake to think that it makes the whole antecedent clause the common point, which is what the question would do, so that the clause following it is a condition simply of the whole. You may see the grammatical statements in Klotz's Devarius, Hoogeveen or Viger, Βos' Ellipses, and Winer 654, (sec 66), the rest under ti μή, and the Commentaries in loco. In both, passages from the classics will be found. The point of the difference of ἀλλά and εἰ μή has not been noticed that I am aware of! but I think it will be found just.
There does not seem to me to be the smallest doubt as to the sense of the passage; at any rate, that it means what the question supposes by the grammatical force of the words is a mistake. Passages such as Rom. 14:14 demonstrate it, and others too, as Mark 13:32; Rev. 9:4. In 1 Cor. 7:17 it stands elliptically by itself for “only.” Rom. 3:27 fully confirms what I have said of the difference of ἀλλά. When the supposed common point is set as to be, and a condition or way of it is negatived, what follows εἰ μή is exclusive and contradictory of the condition or way. Thus οὐδέ τις ἄλλος αἴτιος ἀθανάτων εἰ μὴ ωεφεληγερέτα Ζεὐς. A cause is supposed, ἄλλος negatived, εἰ μὴ exclusive and contradictory of ἄλλος; when there is no negative and the case supposed, the εἰ μὴ negatives the supposition and says why. Μιλτιάδην δὲ τὸν ἐν Μαραθῶνι εἰς τὸ βάραθρον ἐμβαλεᾶ, καὶ εἰ μὴ δαὶ τὸν πρύτανιν ἐνέπεσεν ἄν. If it had not been for the Prytanis, he would have fallen into it. There are cases where μή! is left out, and εἰ δέ put with a possible substitution. It answers in the cases of exclusion to íÆôÆà in Hebrew. See Wolff's Curae in loco. When the whole sentence is negative, the εἰ μή becomes a positive affirmation of what follows, as 1 Cor. 10:13, Mark 8:14, and others. Schütz's Hoogeveen gives a pretty full explanation under the words εἰ μή In result, the negation of works, or faith in Christ to the contradiction or exclusion of works of law, is clearly the sense of the passage.


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Notes on Ezekiel 14

The visit of the elders to the prophet becomes the occasion of a fresh revelation, though not in the form of a vision. As God was not deceived by their attitude of waiting to hear His word, so must not the prophet be moved from the stern and solemn duty imposed on him.
“Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face and cometh to the prophet; I Jehovah will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.” (Ver. 1-5.) The holy seed had defiled themselves, and their guides were more worthy of censure than any misled by their example. Whatever their appearance or pretension, they had “set up their idols in their heart.” It was no question of outward force or influence. The elders liked these abominations; they ran after idols with secret greediness, and they gratified their lust after false gods by placing the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face, in bold, open, deliberate rebellion against Jehovah. To come, then, under such circumstances, and professedly inquire into the mind of Jehovah, was but the shamelessness of the unjust. “Should I be inquired of at all by them?” To insult God by worshipping idols, and yet thus to come before His prophet, was too gross and obdurate, instead of any hopeful sign of repentance. The word for such is that Jehovah would answer him that comes according to the multitude of his idols. He is mighty and despises not any; but He will be no party to His own dishonor; and His judgments He makes salutary to those that fear Him. How else could He answer the rebellious elders but in a way to make His majesty felt? They sought an answer in curiosity; He would prove the worthlessness of their many idols, “that I may catch the house of Israel by their heart because they have become all of them estranged from me by their idols.” Elders and people they were gone from God who would deal with their heart—above them wherein they dealt proudly.
Then comes a still more explicit message to the house of Israel in verses 6-11, that they should repent and turn from their idols: otherwise Jehovah should answer such inquirers by Himself, and this by cutting them off, whether a deceived prophet or such as might seek to them. “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me: I Jehovah will answer him by myself: and I will set my face against that man, “and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I Jehovah have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him; that the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord Jehovah.” (Ver. 6-11.) Thus does God act judicially, showing Himself froward to a froward people, and sending those who lie to such as love a lie; that both may be punished together, and Israel may learn the needed lesson, and be His people as He their God.
In verse 12 begins another word of Jehovah to Ezekiel. “Son of man, if a land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their-righteousness, saith the Lord Jehovah.
“If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts: though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.
“Or if I bring a sword upon that land and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.
“Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: though Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.” (Ver. 13-20.)
The prophet hears the awful sentence that, when the last excess of evil brings any one of God's strokes of judgment on a land, the three saints, whose intercession appears at critical points of the divine history of man, could not avail to deliver save their own souls by their righteousness (for it is a question here of government in this world, not of grace for eternal life). If famine were inflicted, if wild beasts, if a sword, if a pestilence, not even Noah nor Daniel nor Job should save son or daughter beyond themselves. But what should it be when all four sore plagues are sent by God on Jerusalem? Who could screen the guilty people? “For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast? Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it. And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord Jehovah.” (Ver. 21-23.)
Thus, whatever the love the prophet bore the people, whatever the sorrow with which he contemplated blow after blow that fell on them, be is brought at length heartily to acquiesce in the dealings of Jehovah, however sorely He judged; who never causes a needless tear, and causes mercy to rejoice over judgment.

Notes on Luke 22:35-71

The Lord now prepares the disciples for the great change at hand. He contrasts their past experience with that which was coming. “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse and scrip and sandals, did ye lack anything? And they said, Nothing. He said therefore to them, But now he that hath a purse, let him take [it] and likewise his scrip, and he that hath none, let him sell his garment and buy a sword. For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among lawless [men], for also the things concerning me have an end.” Thus the changes to them depended on Him. Jesus was about to be given up to the hands of wicked men; the protection thrown around Him, as around them, was now to be withdrawn. Clearly this is no question of atonement though of suffering and rejection in which others could have communion, as the apostle expressly teaches in Phil. 3 Jesus was despised and rejected of men, yea, given up to it finally of God, besides being for us made sin which belongs to Him alone.
Little did the disciples understand their Master. Indeed flesh and blood can never relish suffering, more especially suffering such as His where man proves his vileness and opposition to God to the uttermost. Even saints are slow to enter in. They necessarily feel the value of atonement; for otherwise they have no standing-place, not even a well-grounded hope of escape as sinners before God. “And they said, Lord, behold, here [are] two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough” —a correction of their thought, however mild. For had it been a question of the literal use of the sword in self-defense, two must have proved a wholly inadequate means of protection. The Lord had employed the sword, purse, and scrip as symbolic of ordinary means on which the disciples were henceforward to be thrown, but certainly not to abandon personally the ground of grace in presence of evil, even to the last degree of insult and injury, on which He had insisted at the beginning of their call and charge as apostles. No more however is said; the true sense is left for that day when the Holy Spirit being given would lead them into all the truth. Alas! Christendom has lost the faith of the Spirit's presence as well as the certainty of the truth, into which grace alone has been leading back a feeble remnant as they wait for the return of the Lord Jesus. Truths such as this cannot be appreciated unless We go forth unto Him without the camp bearing His reproach.
But now we approach what is still more solemn and sacred ground. “And going out he proceeded according to custom to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said to them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and, having knelt down, he prayed, saying, Father, if thou wilt, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” It was indeed no wonted occasion even for Him, but the awful moment of the enemy's return who had departed for a season after his old defeat in the wilderness. But this garden was to behold an equally decisive defeat of the enemy as became the Second man, the Lord from heaven. It was no longer Satan seeking to draw away from the path of obedience by what was desirable in the world. He sought now, if he could not drag Jesus out of the path of obedience, to fill Him with alarm and to kill Him in it. But Jesus shrank from no suffering and weighed before God all that was before Him.
He watched and prayed and suffered being tempted. The disciples failed to pray and entered into temptation, so that nothing but grace delivered them.
The Holy Spirit does not give us the detail of the three prayers of the Lord as in Matthew, but rather a summary of all in one. In both we see His dependence in prayer and His tried but perfect submission to the will of His Father. Here however we have what is characteristic of our evangelist, both in the angelic succor which was sent Him, and in the bloody sweat that accompanied His conflict. It is well known that many fathers, Greek and Latin, have cast a doubt upon verses 43 and 44. “And an angel appeared to him from heaven strengthening him. And being in conflict he prayed more earnestly and his sweat became as clots of blood falling down upon the earth.” Several of the more ancient MSS indeed also omit them, as the Alexandrian, Vatican, and others, besides ancient versions; but they are amply verified by external witnesses, and the truth taught has the closest affinity to the line which Luke was given to take up. The true humanity and the holy suffering of the Lord Jesus stand out here in the fullest evidence.
Here again however, observe that the suffering differs essentially from atonement. For not only does He speak out of the full consciousness of His relationship with the Father, but He has also the angelic help which would have been wholly out of season when forsaken of God because of sin-bearing. All was most real. It is not meant that His sweat fell merely like great drops of blood, but that it became this as it were; that is, the sweat was so tinged with blood which exuded from Him in His conflict that it might have seemed pure blood. “And rising up from prayer he came to his disciples and found them sleeping from grief. And he said to them, Why sleep ye? Rise up and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” We shall see presently the result of their sleeping instead of praying. Not only did the absent Judas betray, but all forsook, and the most prominent of the three chosen to be nearest the Lord denied Him with oaths, denied Him thrice before the cock crew. They entered into temptation and utterly failed. We can only be kept by watching and prayer. Evil is not judged aright save in the presence of God. There the light detects and His grace is sufficient, even for us. But man has no strength against Satan. It must be His light and His grace; without the power of His might we enter only to dishonor our Master. Leaning upon Him the weakest of saints is more than conqueror. Thus only is the devil resisted, and he flees from us.
“As he was yet speaking, lo, a crowd and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss him. And Jesus said to him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” How gracious, but how terrible the words of Jesus to him who knew his Master and his Master's haunts enough to deliver Him thus to His enemies! “And those around him, seeing what was about to happen, said, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And a certain one of them smote the bondman of the high priest and took off his right ear. And Jesus answering said, Suffer thus far, and having touched the ear he healed him.” He could still work miraculously by the Holy Ghost. Indeed we know from John 18 that He could and did cast them all down to the ground by the power of His name; but here it is the witness of His grace to man, even at such a moment, rather than of His own personal majesty, who was about to be cast off and to suffer on the cross. Each incident is of the deepest interest and eminently suited to the Gospel in which it occurs.
“And Jesus said unto the chief priests and captains of the temple and elders who had come against him, Have ye come out as against a robber with swords and sticks? When I was day by day with you in the temple, ye did not stretch out your hands against me; but this is your hour and the power of darkness.” (Ver. 52, 53.) God was giving up the Lord Jesus to men before He was forsaken in accomplishing the work of redemption.
“And having apprehended him, they led and introduced him into the house of the high priest. And Peter followed afar off. And having lit a fire in the midst of the court, and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain maid having seen him sitting by the light fixed her eyes on him and said, And he was with him. But he denied him, saying, Woman, I do not know him. And after a short while another seeing him, said, And thou art of them. But Peter said, Man, I am not. And after the distance of about one hour, another strongly maintained, saying, In truth he also was with him, for he is a Galilean too. But Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he was yet speaking, a cock crew. And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he said to him, Before the cock crows to-day, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter going forth without wept bitterly.” (Ver. 54-62.) We see here the worthlessness of natural courage in the saint and the weakness of one's own love when relied on. Only God can sustain, and this too in exercised distrust of self, when the word is received by faith and the heart abides in dependence on God. A servant girl frightens an apostle, and the first false step involves others deeper and farther if possible from God, for what is our consistency if we be not consistent with the cross? The unbelief which refuses the humiliating warning of the Lord works out the accomplishment of His word. But the Lord never fails, and as He had not in faithfulness beforehand, so, after the fact, He does not hide His face from Peter, but turns round and looks at him. His own sufferings did not pre-occupy the Lord, so as to forget Peter, and Peter's guilt and shame in no way turned the Lord from him but rather drew His look towards him. “And Peter remembered the word of the Lord,” and his sorrow worked repentance, though the Lord carried it farther still, as we know, after He rose from the dead; for the root of evil must be judged as well as the fruit, if we are to be fully blessed and would know how to help others, as Peter was called to do and did.
Then follows the sad tale of men's insolence and blasphemy towards the Lord. “And the men that held him, mocked him, striking him; and covering him up they asked, saying, Prophesy who it is that struck thee. And many other things they spake blasphemously against him.” (Ver. 63-68.) Such was the rude evil of the underlings. The chiefs might act with more seeming decorum, but with no less unbelief and scorn of His claims. “And when it was day, the elderhood of the people, both chief priests and scribes, were gathered together, and led him into their council, saying, If thou art the Christ, tell us. But he said to them, If I tell you, ye will not at all believe; and if I should ask, ye will not at all answer. But henceforth shall the Son of man be seated on the right hand of the power of God. And they all said, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, Why have we need of witness further? For we have ourselves heard from his mouth.” (Ver. 66-71.) There was lying testimony brought against Jesus; but it failed. He was condemned for the truth, which man believed not. He declines speaking of His Messianic dignity, which was already rejected by man, and was about to be replaced by His position as Son of man on the right hand of the power of God. If they all infer that He is the Son of God, say it or gainsay it whoever will, He acknowledged and denied not, but acknowledged that truth which is eternal life to every believer.

Notes on Roma