Bible Treasury: Volume N3

Table of Contents

1. Let Him Take All.: Part 1
2. Let Him Take All: Part 2
3. Scripture Queries and Answers: Zion vs. Jerusalem, Daughter vs. Daughters
4. Isaac: 13. The Bride Called for Isaac
5. Priesthood: 6. The Priests
6. Proverbs 8:1-11
7. Gospel Words: Jesus Walking on the Sea
8. 1 Peter: Introduction
9. Kingdom of God: 4
10. Bethany and Heaven: Blessed by Christ and in Christ
11. The Mystery and the Covenants: 1
12. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Isaiah
13. Scripture Queries and Answers: Taken and Left; Thanks for Bread and Cup; Commendatory Letters; Crafty; 1PE 3:21
14. The Christian's Place in Ephesians and Colossians
15. Advertisement
16. Isaac: 14. The Bride Called for Isaac
17. Priesthood: 7. The Eighth Day
18. Proverbs 8:12-21
19. Gospel Words: the Canaanite Woman
20. 1 Peter 1:1
21. Kingdom of God: 5
22. The Mystery and the Covenants: 2
23. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Jeremiah
24. Truth Absolute and Relative
25. Scripture Queries and Answers: Atonement and Propitiation; Prophetic vs. By Prophets; Angels
26. Advertisement by J. N. Darby
27. Isaac: 15. The Bride Called for Isaac
28. Priesthood: 8. The Eighth Day
29. Proverbs 8:22-31
30. Gospel Words: Feeding the Four Thousand
31. 1 Peter 1:2
32. Kingdom of God: 6
33. The Mystery and the Covenants: 3
34. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Ezekiel
35. Scripture Queries and Answers: Cleansing in the 12th and 18th Year; Heaven; Strangled and Blood; Deliverance
36. Advertisement
37. Isaac: 16. The Meeting and the Marriage
38. Priesthood: 9. Failing and Judged
39. Proverbs 8:32-36
40. Gospel Words: the Transfiguration
41. Lord Jesus as Revealed to Faith
42. 1 Peter 1:3
43. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Daniel
44. Scripture Queries and Answers: Priest's Work Typical of Our Lord's?; MAT 13:30, 1CO 5:13, 2TI 2:21 Hang Together?
45. Advertisement
46. Isaac: 17. The Heir
47. Priesthood: 10. Priest Above Grief
48. Proverbs 9:1-6
49. Gospel Words: the Lunatic Son Healed
50. 1 Peter 1:4-5
51. Kingdom of God: 7
52. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Hosea to Micah
53. Work for the Lord
54. Fallen Angels: Review
55. Intermediate State
56. Advertisement
57. Isaac: 18. Abraham Dead and Isaac Blessed
58. Priesthood: 11. Priest to Be Above Excitement
59. Proverbs 9:7-12
60. Matthew 11:28
61. Gospel Words: Fish and the Temple Tax
62. 1 Peter 1:6-7
63. Kingdom of God: 8
64. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Nahum to Malachi
65. Advertisement
66. Isaac: 19. The Generations of Ishmael
67. Priesthood: 12. The Priest's Due
68. Proverbs 9:13-18
69. Gospel Words: the Deaf and Stammering Man
70. 1 Peter 1:8-9
71. Kingdom of God: 9
72. The Principles Displayed in the Ways of God Compared With His Ultimate Dealings: Part 1
73. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Matthew
74. Surrounding Us
75. Advertisement
76. Isaac: 20. The Generations of Isaac
77. Priesthood: 13. Not Eating the Sin Offering
78. Proverbs 10:1-10
79. Gospel Words: the Blind Man of Bethsaida
80. 1 Peter 1:10
81. Christ as High Priest Entering Heaven and as King of Kings Coming Out: Part 1
82. The Principles Displayed in the Ways of God Compared With His Ultimate Dealings: Part 2
83. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Mark
84. Advertisement by W. Kelly
85. Isaac: 21. The Sons, Esau and Jacob
86. Priesthood: 14. Law of Land Beasts
87. Proverbs 10:11-21
88. Gospel Words: the Widow's Son Raised
89. 1 Peter 1:11
90. Christ as High Priest Entering Heaven and as King of Kings Coming Out: Part 2
91. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Luke
92. Advertisement
93. Isaac: 22. Jehovah Appears to Isaac
94. Priesthood: 15. Law of Creatures in the Waters
95. Proverbs 10:22-32
96. Gospel Words: the Unclean Demon Cast Out
97. 1 Peter 1:12
98. False Prophets
99. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: John
100. The Spirit's Work
101. Scripture Queries and Answers: Who Shall Declare. . .; Grave with the Wicked; Tares; Their Angels; Little or Believing One;
102. Isaac: 23. Isaac in Gerar
103. Priesthood: 16. Birds Unclean
104. Proverbs 11:1-9
105. Gospel Words: the Woman With a Spirit of Infirmity
106. 1 Peter 1:13
107. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Acts: Part 1
108. Commissions in Gospels and Acts
109. Endowment
110. Scripture Queries and Answers: Inspired or Not; Why the Cross is Not Included;
111. Isaac: 24. Isaac Blessed of Jehovah
112. Priesthood: 17. Winged Reptiles
113. Day of Atonement: 1. The Principle Part 1
114. Proverbs 11:10-15
115. Gospel Words: the Dropsical Man Cured
116. 1 Peter 1:14-16
117. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Acts: Part 2
118. Acts 19:15
119. Advertisement
120. Isaac: 25. Isaac up to Rehoboth
121. Defilements of Touch and the Creeping Things
122. The Day of Atonement: 2. The Principle Part 2
123. Proverbs 11:16-23
124. Gospel Words: the Ten Lepers
125. A Word on John 14:23
126. 1 Peter 1:17
127. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Acts: Part 3
128. Texts of Scripture Misapprehended
129. Scripture Queries and Answers: One Body or Lord's Name; Valleys Identified
130. Advertisement
131. Isaac: 26. Isaac at Beersheba
132. Priesthood: 18. Defilement Through Dead Creatures
133. The Day of Atonement: 3. The Principle Part 3
134. Proverbs 11:24-31
135. At the Feet of Jesus
136. Gospel Words: the Lord at Bethesda
137. 1 Peter 1:18-19
138. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Romans
139. Scripture Query and Answer: Inspiration of Scripture - The Lord's Prayer
140. Fragment: 2 Corinthians 12:12
141. Advertisement
142. Isaac: 27. Isaac Old and Seeing Dimly
143. The Creeping Not to Be Eaten
144. Day of Atonement: 4. The Two Goats
145. Proverbs 12:1-7
146. Gospel Words: the Blind at Siloam
147. 1 Peter 1:20-21
148. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: First Corinthians: Part 1
149. Advertisement
150. Isaac: 28. Rebekah's Advice
151. Typical Aspects of Christ's Death: 1. Redemption
152. Priesthood: 19. Birth Uncleanness
153. The Day of Atonement: 5. The Two Goats Part 2
154. Proverbs 12:8-24
155. Gospel Words: Lazarus Raised
156. 1 Peter 1:22
157. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: First Corinthians: Part 2
158. Scripture Queries and Answers: Resting on Christ's Work; Gone Out vs. Putting Out; Burning and Refined
159. Patience: a Comment
160. Advertisement
161. Isaac: 29. The Common Sin and Shame
162. Typical Aspects of Christ's Death: 2. Atonement
163. Priesthood: 20. Leprosy
164. The Day of Atonement: 6. The Two Goats Part 3
165. Proverbs 12:15-22
166. Gospel Words: Blind Bartimaeus
167. 1 Peter 1:23
168. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Second Corinthians
169. Scripture Queries and Answers: Persevering in the. . .; No Mention of the Jordan
170. Advertisement
171. Isaac Blessing Esau
172. Priesthood: 21. Leprosy Tried and All Out
173. Day of Atonement: 7. The Incense and the Bullock
174. Proverbs 12:23-28
175. Gospel Words: the Power and the Grace of the Name
176. 1 Peter 1:24-25
177. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Galatians
178. Separate State and the Resurrection (duplicate Revised)
179. Answers to Queries
180. Advertisement
181. Isaac: 29. The Family Distracted
182. Priesthood: 22. Occasions of Leprosy
183. The Day of Atonement: 8. The Incense and the Bullock Part 2
184. Proverbs 13:1-6
185. Gospel Words: Malchus Healed
186. 1 Peter 2:1-3
187. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Ephesians
188. Christian Science
189. Azazel
190. Isaac: 30. Isaac's Charge to Jacob
191. Priesthood: 23. Leprosy of the Head or the Beard
192. The Day of Atonement: 9. The Incense and the Bullock Part 3
193. Proverbs 13:7-12
194. Gospel Words: Unbroken Net
195. 1 Peter 2:4-5
196. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Philippians
197. Moses' Faith and the Passover
198. Advertisement
199. Isaac: 31. Isaac's Death
200. Priesthood: 24. Leper Outside
201. Day of Atonement: 10. Azazel
202. Proverbs 13:13-18
203. Gospel Words: Two Masters
204. 1 Peter 2:6-8
205. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Colossians
206. Scripture Queries and Answers: Who Wrote Hebrews; Why "Believe Also on Me"?
207. Advertisement
208. Jacob: 32. Jacob Born and Young
209. Priesthood: 25. Leprous Raiment
210. Day of Atonement: 11. Azazel Part 2
211. Proverbs 13:19-25
212. Gospel Words: Prudent Builder and the Foolish
213. Thoughts on Romans 8:18-38
214. 1 Peter 2:9-10
215. The Inspiration of the Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians
216. Advertisement
217. Jacob: 33. Jacob Deceiving Isaac
218. Priesthood: 26. Leper Pronounced Clean
219. Proverbs 14:1-9
220. Gospel Words: Narrow and Wide Ways
221. 1 Peter 2:11-12
222. Eternal Life
223. Fragment: Jesus in the Days of His Flesh
224. Fragment: Dead to Sin
225. Advertisement
226. Jacob: 34. Jacob Blessed and Sent to Padan Aram
227. Priesthood: 27. Leper Washes
228. Proverbs 14:10-12
229. Gospel Words: the Salt and the Light
230. 1 Peter 2:13-17
231. Life Eternal Denied as a Present Possession

Let Him Take All.: Part 1

2 Sam. 19:30.
These significant and touching words fell from the lips of Mephibosheth, in reply to king David on his memorable return to the throne. They are words worthy of consideration, and afford true practical instruction for the heart and conscience; as they are no less fraught with encouragement to the believer. Those who have known in any measure what divine grace is, with the marvelous way God in wisdom and love has taken to express it, must ever find delight in the free and blessed action of David toward Mephibosheth. It is a God-given sample of it, not only in what grace bestows, but in what it produces. To show the kindness of God to him, belonging as he did to the house of Saul the king's enemy, was an act of pure grace. Hence was it the suited occasion to call forth both the feelings and resources of David in the hour of his power and glory.
It was not a little to inquire or search for any of Saul's house; but, when the king learned of the hidden one and his lameness, to send and have him brought into the king's presence declared plainly his determined purpose of kindness. Not only so; but he acted from himself according to his own gracious intentions. This was, both as to reception and position, not only worthy of the king but according to “the kindness of God” as already declared to the servant Ziba. That the recipient of such grace should bow in reverence and fear was befitting; yet it was only the happy occasion for the king to express his feelings and intention. “Fear not,” therefore, only began the tale of grace; for the restoration of forfeited land must follow, crowned with the consummate blessedness that the son of a wicked persecutor should eat bread continually at the king's table as one of his own sons. Such was the king's purpose made known and made good to the favored object of his grace.
Unworthiness is of course consciously felt by those on whom grace is bestowed; therefore elation, much less glorying in self, is quite set aside; so that Mephibosheth's confession, “What is thy servant that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am”? is the language (as of every heart morally) to the exclusion of pride and presumption. Hence to take the place and position at the table as a son was in character with the pure grace of the king. Naturally it would be considered needful and right to show by his conduct toward the king that Mephibosheth had proved himself a loyal and obedient subject; but this would have been in character with law-keeping and not according to grace, which brings into the place of nearness and fullest confidence.
How precious is grace, not only for what it bestows, but what it produces in the heart of its recipient The one acting in grace surely looks for the proper response to it, though never at the cost of weakening the bestowed blessing, but rather to deepen the sense of its fullness and blessedness. Moreover as the same God uses the occasion of deep need for the display of His grace, so He graciously and wisely orders as well as permits the circumstances for the response to it, as is strikingly seen in this case. The hour of David's royalty is followed by his dethronement and suffering. Absalom his wicked son steals away the hearts of the people; so that the true and only king has to take to flight, and by it the fidelity of all hearts is tested.
Mephibosheth is equal to the moment. Fellowship in the hour of suffering marked him, as much as his previously given place at the king's table. Not only were his resources placed at the disposal of the suffering king, but he carried his person in character with it. For he “neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes from the day the king departed until he came again in peace.” True, he had been misrepresented by Ziba, the lying deceitful servant, who was not slow to take advantage of his master's lameness to go and pour false things into the king's ears. Lying and deceit with outward pretension of devotion seemed most successful for the moment. Yea, a failing type of the true king may be overcome and taken in by it; but the meeting-day of disclosures must come sooner or later as is seen here. David returns, and the ever faithful Mephibosheth goes forth to meet him, when the truth comes out as to the false and the true servant.
Not only is Ziba righteously shown up to the king, and the faithful action and position of Mephibosheth confessed, but the true sense of the grace David had shown at the first had never left him. The same thoughts of himself as a dead dog governed him; yea, better still, his heart was full of unselfish devotion to the person of the king. Lands, when offered, were nothing to him; for he was absorbed in the person of the king, and the joy of seeing him and his rights established gave witness to the touching effects grace produced, to the delight surely of him who bestowed it. If the king too had hastily decided in favor of a false servant, now that he is rightly informed he assuredly learns, that the subject of past grace had not only been true and consistent during his absence, but that David himself was more than all beside. For in reply to offered divided land Mephibosheth adds, “Let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.” The testing evidence as to the fidelity of his heart, and the record that proves it touchingly, remain.
In this day and dispensation of the sovereign grace of God, and not least at the present time of great pretension in religious profession and activity, it is not too much to say little is known of the place grace gives or what it should produce. The principle and character of grace is according to David and Mephibosheth, though surely of a higher order and infinitely greater in its extent; seeing that the holy and righteous ground has been once and forever laid for the display of it, at Calvary's cross, in and by the death of God's own and only Son Who by the “grace of God” tasted death. Such an expression of rich and sovereign grace must surpass the salvation it brings or the glory answering to it. Let this be understood, or at least taken in as God's own testimony, that death has been gone into with its claims as to sin completely exhausted by the Son of God, then all other wonders cease, or at least are nothing in comparison to it. God in love gave the Son, and the Son in love gave Himself, to die for sin and sinners; and this, when the world hated both the Father and the Son. This standing fact the scriptures most emphatically declare, as also that the One Who died has entered heaven; yea, after having once for all offered Himself as the one and only sacrifice for sins, He “forever sat down on the right hand of God.” No further proof is needed that the claims of truth and holiness have been met as to sin, and the glory of God everlastingly secured, seeing that the One Who did the mighty work is at rest at God's own right hand. The cross where sin was judged and the throne of God are together, so to speak, in the One that supplied the altar and now fills the throne.
Such a person and work with its blessed results may well form the basis for the full display of the rich and boundless grace of God. And it may truly be asked where and when can that grace be shown and applied, but in the same manifested scene of sin and sinners where Jesus was crucified? A condemned world, where man is under judgment and already proved lost and guilty, is therefore the sphere for the full and free activities of sovereign grace; when too every barrier has been righteously removed for the free outlet of the boundless love of God toward ruined man.
In the Epistle to the Romans, where the gospel of the grace of God is so richly unfolded, the words at the opening significantly declare it to be “the gospel of God,” and most assuredly concerning His Son Jesus Christ and Him risen from the dead, but no less true seed of David after the flesh. He it is in and through whom “the kindness of God” is now displaying itself, in Whom alone all the resources of God are treasured up in their all-sufficiency for the deepest need. This every servant and true exponent of the grace of God should remember and surely act upon; especially in this day when ways and means outside the written word and the paramount claims of the Lord are largely used under the deluding plea of the end justifying the means. To every true and obedient servant bearing God's glad tidings the words of the risen Lord are most instructive and salutary, in connection with the commission recorded at the end of the first three Gospels. For He clearly makes known in Whom all power is, also the sphere and persons for whom the gospel is intended, as well as the duly appointed agent of power by whom the testimony should be rendered and made good. This is most assuring and soul-strengthening when known and acted upon, viz., that the risen, exalted, Savior and Lord has all power given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18); and that all the world is the sphere where the gospel is to be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15). Moreover, the Holy Ghost should be sent from heaven as the mighty power to preach it, to carry it on and make it effectual (Luke 24:47-49). Such is the grand secret for every faithful servant to know and act on in going forth from the presence of earth's rejected but heaven's accepted Savior, Lord, and King, to sound forth the news of God's boundless grace; not to an individual at Lodebar, but to begin at Jerusalem (in the place where Jesus was cruelly and unrighteously cast out and crucified) and thence to the ends of the earth, declaring free and full remission of sins through the name of Jesus, and this for His very murderers.
How lamentably true, as things on every hand testify to the fact, that very little is the precious grace of the gospel of God known or declared, notwithstanding its unmistakable clearness, particularly in the Epistle to the Romans! Yet there it remains in its world-wide blessedness for every poor sinner, whether Jew or Gentile; seeing that God declares all to be guilty before Him, “For all sinned and come short of the glory of God” None can escape; indeed, well that it is so, when God is acting in the fullness and freeness of His grace, infinitely beyond anything David did or could do in his day.
Divine wisdom and love devised and made a way out from guilt and condemnation to a place in Christ, with holy and happy liberty, not only lift but the Spirit of adoption received, crying “Abba Father “; and nothing short of this is the present action and display of sovereign grace.
A brief glance at chapters 3 to 8 of that wonderful Epistle will plainly show the starting point and landing stage in the ways of God! For in His matchless grace He now declares His righteousness, both in justifying the guilty, and also in divinely clothing those that believe in the blood of His Son in Whom alone redemption is. Not only is the righteousness of God fully manifested “unto” all, but it is “upon” all them that believe. No less is the question of the sins of the believer fully and finally settled, because the substitute on whom God laid them has been raised from the dead.
This the end of chapter 4, &c. clearly states, in that Jesus was “delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.” Therefore His shed blood, His death and resurrection, may well give the solid basis and righteous means for the soul's present and everlasting peace with God, which is faith's title and portion. To stop here even would be but part of the sweet tale of grace, as to either full deliverance or suitability in life and relationship to God Himself. For the question of the nature common to all the race of sinful Adam has alike been raised, gone into, and decided, in order that life and liberty in Christ the last Adam might be known as a present portion. This, divine love both anticipated and provided for at all cost to itself; for the reign of sin must have its counterpart in the reign of grace, through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ.
(To be continued, D.V.)

Let Him Take All: Part 2

2 Sam. 19:30.
To close up therefore the sad moral history of a nature common to all of Adam's race was part of redemption's plan; that the power of sin as well as its guilt should be met. Thus not only is removed the burden of sins from the guilty conscience, but complete deliverance from the conflicting torment of the sinful nature which righteously deserves death. This Rom. 6 insists upon as already accomplished in the death of Christ, Who died for the believer's sins and to sin itself, thereby closing in death its state forever. “In that He died, He died unto sin once” for all. And such is the privilege of faith to reckon it as unchangeably true, whatever the contradictory experience consequent upon indwelling sin. No less is there complete deliverance from God's holy and righteous law, seeing that its righteous claims have no power over those who have already died. Hence the believer's triumph in the opening of chap. 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” What freedom from an evil nature and its fruit, introducing to the accompanying truth of a holy life in happy liberty, even life in Christ Jesus and hence completely beyond all judgment! It is a government fully exhausted in and by Christ's mighty sacrifice where sin met its entire and final condemnation. Those too having the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, are set free from the spirit of bondage and fear, having received the Spirit of adoption whereby they cry, “Abba, Father.” Such is the wonderful platform the soul is placed upon with God the Justifier, crowned with the emphatic and confirming words, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” Thus life, relationship, and heirship with Christ crown the incomparable ways of the wondrous grace of God, which infinitely eclipses all that David bestowed, even to a place at the table as one of the king's sons. To be set before God in such holy dignity and relationship in view of sharing the coming glories with the appointed Heir of all things, the present link of co-heirship in suffering of necessity follows: “If so be that we suffer with Him, that we be also glorified together.”
Creation still suffering the consequences of sin, as well as the refusal of the One Who alone could free it from the bondage of corruption, it must of necessity involve those having life in Christ in suffering with Him until the day of coming glory, when creation will share the liberty of the glory of the Children of God. Blessed hope with its bright prospect for the heavens and the earth, in a day when a greater than Absalom will be no longer at large to blind and deceive. But the true David will be enthroned to reign in Jerusalem gloriously, and thence to the ends of the earth. Meanwhile it must be and is the hour of suffering in a twofold way, “with Christ” and “for Him.” Suffering with Christ is consequent upon a holy life possessed and enjoyed in a scene of sin, pain, sorrow and death; and suffering also both for His worthy name and for righteousness' sake. But alas! how largely the sensibilities of the divine nature are deadened as to the one! and how very little loyalty of heart and true-hearted faithfulness are manifested as to the other, notwithstanding all that grace has given and is able to produce! Remember too that it is only in this favored hour that any can so suffer. Let it be seen (either by angels or men) how far the love and claims of Jesus our Lord with the sense of God's abounding grace outweigh all besides, especially of this perishing world.
Participation in the sufferings of Christ consequent upon sovereign grace bestowed is seen in its fullest shape in the case of Saul the persecutor and hater of Christ; afterward Paul the apostle and servant of Jesus Christ. The riches of grace in surpassing mercy met his desperate case, not only in his full, free, and eternal salvation, but in making him one with Christ the risen and glorified Savior. Thus was he fitted for suffering, and from suffering he never swerved, from the hour of his conversion until his departure. Suffering in each form not only marked him, but the loving spirit of an undivided heart in keeping with the one who said, “Let him take all.” In life and service Christ Jesus was his motive and object, governed by the unerring word of God through the indwelling Spirit. Hence the language of his heart was uprightly expressed in its extent and purpose when he said, “For me to live is Christ.” Service evidently to its highest honor was kept subservient, his chief desire being that Christ should be magnified in his body whether by life or death. The sense of grace in service was not lacking to his devotedness in preaching Christ even among the Gentiles. Moreover he labored more abundantly than all others, although careful to add, “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
Tested too beyond any as to natural position and advantageous circumstances (ever expedient for personal provision and comfort), yet when measured by his Lord and Savior everything was dung and dross compared with His excellency. Not only in the first freshness of his conversion and service did he so count, but “I do count” all things but dross provided he had Christ as his gain. False servants in the spirit of selfish deceitful Ziba surrounded him; but he knew (and warned the saints he so loved) that their end was destruction. Alas! their god was their belly, they cared only for earthly things. Jesus the Savior in glory completely won his heart at the first; sustained him through pilgrimage and service; and at the end the same Lord Jesus absorbed his affection in the desire to have Him as his own precious treasure and portion. His love also for the church and the gospel was undiminished. He never shrank from suffering for others, as he received it in participation with Christ, so that the Person of the Lord was practically unrivaled: even heaven and all its precious things sunk in comparison with Him.
The lesson of such experience and devotedness remains as a voice for to-day, a day when church profession and outward zeal prevail. Nevertheless it is not according to knowledge, much less in spirit and character with divine grace in a God-exalted but world-rejected Savior. Indeed it may be asked where is the testimony of the descended and abiding Spirit maintained? where do saints own His presence and all-sufficiency for exalting the Lord and Savior and the precious gospel, so as to make manifest the effects in divine power and fruit according to those produced in the Acts of the Apostles? Nothing however has changed, except alas I the state of the church not faithful. See the position and action of the servants of the Lord, both true and false. Further, the humbling cry may be raised, most heart-searching to all; where is the life of Christ reproduced day-by-day according to the worthy Pattern and Object set forth by the apostle to the Philippians? Christ Jesus in His perfect humiliation here and His glorious exaltation above need to speak afresh to all hearts. Particularly those who truly desire to live and walk according to Him (the worthy and unchanged Pattern and Object), should remember that He not only bore the sins of His people but left them an example to follow in His steps. It is too patent that professors of Christ are legion, though alas! such as were in Sardis of old, who have a name to live but are dead. No less the church in Laodicea specially marks the closing age of assumption and indifference, where the Lord is seen outside (if in grace still knocking at the door). Inside the thoughts and sayings are that they are rich and increased with goods and need nothing; they know not that in the Lord's sight and judgment they are poor, wretched and naked. This must ever be the case when Christ is despised for salvation, life, and righteousness; and mere profession even of religion without Him takes its place.
Most humbling too is the fact, confronting us on all sides, that so many true believers, in the enjoyment of the free forgiveness of their sins and of eternal life in Christ, are content to swim with the stream, and give their presence if not a helping hand to that system speedily to be judged. Such heed not the plain binding word enjoined by the Holy Spirit, “A form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5). Those too, who did run well in the path of separation to the blessed name of their Lord (once content, however despised and few, with His all-sufficiency), seem sadly otherwise; they at least need to taste more fully the power of His presence Who deigns to be with those gathered to His name. May we ever recall the unchanging principle given to the believing Hebrew, amid much religious pretension and ritual, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13). Of this the most faithful need to be reminded, together with the timely and encouraging words, “Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11).
At a time when so many reasons if not excuses are given to yield and go back to objects and ways once left, it is important that the ear should be closed to the voices of men, and listen only to the voice of the unfailing Shepherd, Who will ever lead and guide by His unerring word until He come. An undivided heart with the cherished sense of the boundless grace of God will by the Holy Spirit produce a fuller and more worthy answer to the One to Whom each believer owes everything, and thus be found in company with the gracious character of Mephibosheth and even the apostle Paul. God grant that the spirit of a true disciple with Christ in His rejection may be more faithfully desired and entered into by all His own, not only denying self in every form but following Him alone for Whom they are left here. May we be kept from ever seeking to separate present suffering and coming glory, knowing “If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.” Let us be assured that there is nothing (and never can be) to compare with Him Who loved and died for each and all His own, that they may be with and like Himself to His own joy and their eternal satisfaction.
Be it so, Lord Jesus, now and forever for Thine own name's sake. Amen. G. G.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Zion vs. Jerusalem, Daughter vs. Daughters

Q. 1. How are we to understand “Zion” as compared with “Jerusalem”? “the daughter,” and “the daughters,” of Zion?
Q. 2. Col. 2:20; 1 Peter 2:13: pray explain.
R. C.
A.-1. Zion was literally the south-eastern height called David's city, as Moriah was the north-eastern one on which Jehovah's house was built. But Zion (Isa. 1:27) is often employed figuratively by the prophets and synonymously with Jerusalem as a whole. “Daughter of Zion” (as in Isa. 1:9) is a poetic expression for the inhabitants of the Jewish capital, and so for the people in general. “Daughters of Zion” (as in Isa. 3:16) would represent rather its female inhabitants. But we may add that it is nothing but ignorance to assume that Zion anywhere means the church of God even metaphorically. In Heb. 12:22, 23 it is no doubt contrasted with Sinai (18, &c.), that is, the mount of royal grace, with that of legal responsibility; but it is distinguished alike from the scene of glory on high, a living God's city, heavenly Jerusalem, and yet more from the church or “assembly of first-born ones enrolled in the heavens.” Nor is there solid ground to doubt that, as Rev. 7:2-8 points to a sealed number out of Israel's tribes, to be secured from providential judgment in a future day, so does chap. 14:1-5 to a still more honored complement of godly Jews, associated with the earth-rejected Messiah and blessed in that day. In both chapters, whether Israel or Jews properly, they are shown separately from the Gentiles, and grace will not forget them in the tremendous crisis at the end of the age. The heavenly redeemed are then and even before this seen symbolized by the crowned elders, who will have been with the Lord on high, and therefore manifestly distinct from any of them.
A.-2. The two are wholly distinct in their objects and aim; and hence there is no discrepancy possible.
Col. 2:20 asks, If ye died with Christ from the elements of the world, why as alive in the world do ye subject yourselves to ordinances? The apostle gives a specimen of these ordinances in the three prohibitions which follow, Handle not, nor taste, nor touch. This was Jewish legalism over again, consistent with a people in the flesh like Israel, or as he here says “living in the world,” but quite incompatible with the spiritual condition of the Christian as one who died with Christ: a privilege acknowledged and signified even in baptism. To revive such ordinances was not only carnal, but a contradiction of their position as having died with Christ.
In 1 Peter 2:13 we have nothing to do with these ζόγματα of earthly religion, which Col. 2 declares to have been nailed to the cross and taken out of the way. The apostle of the circumcision urges on the believing remnant, that their behavior be seemly among the Gentiles, and in subjection to every human creation or institution for the Lord's sake. This he explains as civil government: “whether to king, as supreme; or to rulers, as being sent through him for vengeance on evil-doers and praise of well-doers.” Christian Jews must not be refractory like their unbelieving brethren.
Q.-How are we to reconcile the Sept. version of Ex. 30:13, 15 with the Greek of Matt. 17:24? The latter seems double the former. X.
A.-It is an interesting result and evidence of the version being made in Alexandria, where the drachm had just twice the value of the Greek or Attic drachm. Hence half the former was the equivalent of the latter, which is intended in the Gospel, answering to the Hebrew half-shekel. Theophylact, Abp. of Bulgaria in the latter part of the 11th century, seems to have been ignorant that the stater, or shekel, found in the fish's mouth, was the tetradrachm of later Greek writers, as distinguished from a gold coin and a heavier silver one earlier known, both so-called. He says that some thought it to be a precious stone found in Syria. Singularly enough, Clem. Alex. and Origen, Augustine and Jerome, are all wrong in confounding the ransom tax with a civil due. But Hilary and Chrysostom were right; not so the Jesuit C. á Lapide, or the Lutheran J. C. Wolff, and down to Wieseler, though the Jesuit Maldonat, and J. Albert Bengel, with Hammond, and J. Lightfoot &c., had long pointed out the truth.

Isaac: 13. The Bride Called for Isaac

Gen. 24:34-49
This portion is entirely devoted to his intervention whom the father sent to fetch a suited bride for the son and heir.
“And he said, I [am] Abraham's servant. And Jehovah hath blessed my master greatly, and he is become great; and he hath given him sheep and cattle, and silver and gold, and bondmen and bondwomen, and camels and asses. And Sarah, my master's wife, bore a son to my master after she had grown old, and to him hath he given all that he hath. And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife for my son of the daughters of a Canaanite, in whose land I am dwelling; but thou shalt by all means go to my father's house and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son. And I said to my master, Perhaps the woman will not follow me. And he said to me, Jehovah before whom I have walked will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way, that thou mayest take a wife for my son of my kindred and out of my father's house. Then shalt thou be quit of mine oath, when thou shalt be come to my kindred; and if they give thee not, thou shalt be quit of mine oath. And I came this day to the fountain, and said, Jehovah, God of my master Abraham, if now thou wilt prosper my way on which I go, behold, I stand by the fountain of water, and let it come to pass that the damsel who cometh forth to draw, and to whom I shall say, Give me I pray, a little water out of thy pitcher to drink, and she shall say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels—that she [shall] be the woman whom Jehovah hath appointed for my master's son. Before I ended speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder, and went down to the fountain, and drew; and I said to her, Give me, I pray thee to drink. And she hasted and let down her pitcher from her, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also. And I drank; and she gave the camels drink also. And I asked her and said, Whose daughter [art] thou? And she said, Bethuel's daughter (Nachor's son) whom Milcah bore to him. And I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her hands. And I bowed down and worshipped Jehovah, and blessed Jehovah, God of my master Abraham, who led me in a way of truth to take my master's brother's daughter for his son. And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me; and I will turn to the right hand or to the left” (vers. 34-49).
Is it not well to notice the immense place which scripture gives to him who was sent from the father and the son to make good the purpose of finding and bringing back the chosen bride? Various types present the bride in O.T. scriptures. In the last book of scripture (Rev. 19) the N.T. discloses her in her heavenly place before the millennium as the Lamb's wife and in the eternal state (Rev. 21:2), no less than as the holy Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God in her millennial relation to the nations and the kings of the earth (ver. 9). We have the type of Eve with her admirable characteristics as Adam's counterpart at the beginning of this book, and at the end we have the wife Pharaoh gave to Joseph when exalted to administer the kingdom in his rejection by and separation from his brethren according to the flesh. So we see also in Moses (Ex. 2) before the time came for their deliverance from the king and land of Egypt. Jacob goes off himself and marries in a way wholly distinct in Haran, and through Laban's craft has another palmed on him before he received the Rachel of his heart, who in no way prefigures the church but Israel, Rachel weeping for her children, but with hope for her latter end. Sarah too not at all sets forth the calling of the bride, but the mother of the child of promise. Ruth again is a special figure, but not of the church any more than is the object of the king's love in the Song of songs, the Psalms, or the Prophets.
Here is the unique figure of a bride not only called from a distant land in marked contrast with any woman of Canaanitish race, but by the extraordinary mission of the father's servant, the eldest of his house who ruled over all that he had, and with a most solemn pledge and charge, quite unexampled in any other case. And we have already drawn attention to the place it fills, for which no other marriage in scripture could furnish such a type as this. For it follows the death and resurrection of the son in the “parable” of chap. 22 as well as the death of Sarah, the figure of the covenant of promise and liberty in contrast with her who is in bondage with her children. Yet even she, the free-woman, disappears to leave room for the bride who is here called.
Again, how striking is the fullness of interest which converges on the trusty servant, and his absorption in caring for the father and the son! We have the whole ground traversed again before the bride's family, and bringing out purpose in the father for the son as nowhere else in this book or anywhere else of old, and devotedness most marked and exclusive on the part of him who was sent to effectuate it! Where is there an approach in another type of God's word to that personal presence and action of the Holy Spirit which distinguishes the church? The time, the place, the action, the personal interest, the grace in giving, the prominence assigned to prayer and worship, the absolute carrying out of the word or charge, are all in perfect keeping with that which it pleased God to represent here, and here only in the same fullness. Is this all, is any part of it, casual?
Examine the entire range of types (and there are not a few which bring out the object of Christ's love for heaven); but where is one which so fully and distinctively presents her calling, as Rebecca does? Again, where save here have we, closely connected with the bride, the living representative of that other Advocate, Who identifies Himself with the honor and the interests of the Father and the Son, in effectively gaining the bride, then in guiding and guarding through the many trials and the imminent dangers of the desert, safely to join the Bridegroom? How admirably he pleads for those absent, whose envoy he was! As he lost not a moment in engaging the damsel's heart for his master's son, so he hears of no delay in telling his errand to those who might naturally detain, if they did not deny. No picture in other scriptures is comparable with this if divinely intended, as we assuredly believe, to set forth, not merely efficient operation, but personal presence and care in the highest degree. And in no part of the O.T. was this so requisite and significant as in the scene graphically put before us here.

Priesthood: 6. The Priests

The Priests Consecrated. Leviticus 9:1-6
There is an “eighth day” here, as for the leper's cleansing in chap. 14:10-20. It was the day of circumcision also. These instances suffice to show that we do not wait till the millennial morn or even the day of our resurrection glory to enjoy the privileges which they severally express. They are ours in virtue of Christ risen and glorified Who has given the Spirit from on high, both for our communion and for our communication in testimony of His grace. No doubt in that day what is perfect will have come, and we shall know as we are known.
“And it came to pass on the eighth day, Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel, and said to Aaron, Take thee a bull calf for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering, without blemish, and present [them] before Jehovah; and to the children of Israel shalt thou speak, saying, Take a buck of the goats for a sin-offering, and a calf and a lamb, yearlings, without blemish, for a burnt-offering; and a bullock and a ram for peace-offerings to sacrifice before Jehovah; and a meal-offering mingled with oil; for to-day Jehovah appeareth to you. And they brought what Moses commanded before the tent of meeting; and all the assembly drew near and stood before Jehovah. And Moses said, This [is] the thing which Jehovah commanded that ye should do; and the glory of Jehovah shall approach you” (vers. 1-6).
It was on that day which inaugurates a new and heavenly order of things, and looks on to the appearing of the glory. But our Lord has taught us in John 7:37-39 how it can bear on us now, were it even the last and great day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the closing scene of the Jewish holy year. For He Himself, rejected here, was about to be glorified, and the Holy Spirit was to be here as He never had been nor could be or work in virtue of His ever and all efficacious death. Hence all things are ours who now believe on Him and have received the Spirit, not things present only but things to come also. As at the beginning (8:3-4), all the assembly was there, as well as Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel. But first Moses directed Aaron to take a Sin-offering and a Burnt-offering, without blemish, and offer them before Jehovah. Then he was to bid the children of Israel bring their suited Sin-offering and Burnt-offering, with Peace-offerings for sacrifice before Him.
Thus it is not only for the ordinary days and their necessities, being what they were, that sacrifice and offering were needed. In view of that day and the glory to follow they are presented with all care and solemnity. Priests and people, all were made to feel that they are at least as requisite if we look on to glory; whether those who had the entry into the sanctuary, or those who were outside. On that sacrificial basis of divine righteousness all enjoyment of God hangs for heaven or earth, now or evermore. Without Christ and His work, no sinful man can stand, still less in view of the glory of God. For all sinned and do come short of the glory of God, as the apostle puts it in Rom. 3:23. When man fell by sin from innocence, earth was lost, and the question is of fitness for God's glory. The redemption that is in Christ Jesus alone can fit for such a place. But grace justifies freely by faith in Him. This gives it its title for faith to boast in hope of divine glory. Nor will its fruition cause any emotion to His own but of joy, thanksgiving, and praise.

Proverbs 8:1-11

In full contrast with evil, which is folly to the utmost, is the description of wisdom's ways as here brought before us.
“Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? On the top of high places by the way, where paths meet, she standeth; beside the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors, she crieth aloud. To you, O men, I call, and my voice [is] to the sons of man. O ye simple, understand prudence; and, ye foolish, be of understanding heart. Hear, for I will speak excellent things, and the opening of my lips [shall be] right things. For my palate shall meditate truth, and wickedness [is] an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth [are] in righteousness; [there is] nothing crooked or perverse in them. They [are] all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom [is] better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not comparable to her” (vers. 1-11).
Here is no courting of the dark, no flattery of the heedless, no fair speech to seduce into foul deeds and illicit indulgence. The wisdom which has its root in the fear of Jehovah is above-board and earnest with man. “Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? On the top of high places, where paths meet, she standeth; beside the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors, she crieth aloud.” John the Baptist not only bore witness to Jesus but “cried” (John 1:15). So did our Lord in the temple as he taught (John 7:28), and notably at the close of His rejected testimony (12: 44) in importunate love.
How often in the Old Testament as in the New we are reminded of divine favor to mankind I Not with angels but with the human race does God plead, that they may hear and live. “The life was the light of men.” So it is here when wisdom cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men;” nay more, it beseeches the weak and the unwise. “O ye simple, understand wisdom, and ye fools, be of understanding heart.”
There are objects of desire in men's eager eyes. Oh the ardor, when they learn that there is here a mine of silver, and a place for gold which they refine! Seas are crossed, and deserts are penetrated, swamps and mountains drear are crossed, heat or cold or famine is defied. And man puts an end to the darkness, and the utmost limit is explored. A shaft is opened far from human haunts: they are forgotten of the traveler, they hang afar from men, they swing to and fro. Out of the earth cometh bread, and underneath it is turned up as by fire. The stones of it are the place of sapphires; and it hath dust of gold: a path no bird of prey knows, nor vulture's eye hath seen, nor sons of pride have trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed over it. The engineer puts forth his hand on the flints; he overturns mountains by the roots; he cuts out channels in the rocks; and his eye sees every precious thing. He binds the streams that they drip not, and the hidden things he brings forth to light. But wisdom, where shall it be found, and where is the place of understanding? Man knows not its value; neither is it found in the land of the living. The deep says, It is not in me; and the sea says, It is not with me. Neither gold nor silver, nor precious stones as onyx, sapphire, ruby, topaz, with gold most fine, nor jewels can procure or equal it. Whence then comes it, and where is its place? For it is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the heavens. Destruction and death say, We have heard its report with our ears. God understands its way, and He knows its place. And to man He said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28). Christ alone is its fullness.
Our exhortation encourages souls. “Hear, for I will speak excellent things, and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my palate shall meditate truth, and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” Where else can this be found? Outside the inspired word, religion makes men worse than if they had none, and substitutes demons for the true God. Here the writer can say with assurance, All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverse in them. Man's uncertainty and fallen nature expose him to both if he sets up to be an oracle. Whereas God's words are all plain to him that understand eth, and right to him that findeth knowledge. Hence is the call, Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not comparable to her. We can go no farther, now that the Son of God is come and given us to know Him that is true. For He Himself is the true God, no less than the Father, and He is eternal life. Compare John 17:3.

Gospel Words: Jesus Walking on the Sea

Matthew 14:23-33
Bright was the witness, as it is still, to the rejected Messiah. This glory is great, but He is greater still, Immanuel and Jehovah; and it shines out the more that men despise Him.
“And having dismissed the crowds, he went up into the mountain apart to pray: and when even was come, he was there alone. But the ship [or boat] was already in the midst of the sea, tossed by the waves for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them walking on the sea; and when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is an apparition; and they cried out for fear. But Jesus immediately spoke unto them. saying, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answering him said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come; and Peter, going down from the ship, walked on the water to come unto Jesus. But seeing the wind strong, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught hold of him, and saith to him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they had gone up into the ship, the wind ceased. And those in the ship came and paid homage to him, saying, Truly thou art God's Son” (vers. 23-33).
Whatever His own title, and it was truly divine, our Lord had become man, and loyally maintained His dependence on God, of which prayer is a signal expression. It is peculiarly prominent in the Gospel of Luke where His humanity is most brought before us in all its lowliness and sympathy, in all its piety and obedience. And it has its due place in Mark's Gospel of His service. But the disciples on the tempest-tost sea were as distressed as their boat, and the wind was contrary, so that they toiled in vain at the oar. He waited long enough for them to realize their danger and their powerlessness, and came unto them, walking on the sea. Troubled at what they thought an apparition, they cried for fear, but immediately He bade them take courage. “It is I: be not afraid.”
Reader, have you never heard His voice? It sounds in the written word in His own tones of love and compassion. It is for you to hear and live by believing them. The blessing is expressly for faith to receive. When you, judging yourself for your sins, look to Jesus at God's warrant, remission is yours. You are reconciled to God and justified by faith. You are called thenceforth to walk as a child of God and sealed by His Spirit till the day of redemption, when your bodies will have the power of Christ's life, as your souls have now (John 5). All other ways and means are a delusion. Baptism and the Lord's supper are His institutions, most expressive of His death, and of your blessing thereby. But faith is by hearing, and this by God's word. He is best honored in His Son's honor.
No doubt the enemy stirs up storms of every kind to alarm and endanger the disciples; but what of that, if the Lord sees all with watchful eye and fails not to give His guardian presence? This will be true and sure for His Jewish remnant in days to come as well as then when He was on earth; so is it assured to the Christian and the Christian assembly now, however few they may be. He, Who has His way in the whirlwind and in the tempest, with the clouds as the dust of His feet, was there in the person of Jesus walking the waves to say, Be courageous. It is I: fear not. They ought to have known already that winds and waves obey Him, their Creator.
Peter yields a little intimation of what was at hand. He quits the boat at the word of the Lord, and goes to meet Jesus on the sea; as the church did gathered to His name, apart from the Jews and the Gentiles (1 Cor. 10:32). But he quickly displays the instability of his faith. To the Christian also Christ is all. If we look away from Him, we begin to sink as he did. What, if the storm raged and the waves rose ever so high? Had the sea been smooth instead of rough, could Peter have walked across it? But he saw the wind strong and began to sink, with the cry, Lord, save me. And the Lord's outstretched hand was the answer, though there was the loving reproof, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Such is He to us now, faithful, gracious, and superior to all circumstances. But we have to walk by faith, not by sight. Yet if our faith fail, He does not fail to deliver.
By-and-by He will rejoin His Jewish disciples in their unequaled trouble at the end of the age, bespeak a calm which is not the church's portion while on earth, and bring at once the old ship into the desired haven. For heaven and for the earth, for the church as for Israel, Jesus is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever. “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

1 Peter: Introduction

Not to the apostle of the circumcision but to him whom the Lord sent to the Gentiles was it given to make known the mystery, or secret of God, as to Christ and as to the church. Nowhere is it so much as named in Peter's inspired writings, though we know that it was revealed since redemption unto the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. But Paul was the minister of the church (Col. 1:24, 25) as no one else was led to style himself. To him pre-eminently was the mystery made known by revelation, as to him was given this grace to evangelize among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to enlighten all as to what is the administration of the mystery, which from all ages had been hid in God Who created all things. Even the word “church,” inserted in 1 Peter 5:13 by the A.V. as by other translators, is an unfounded conjecture; and the R.V. rightly agrees with the correction, “She that is in Babylon, elect together with [you], saluteth you, and Marcus my son.” It was an individual sister, and the brother named.
The subject matter is the government of God, which is richly treated in both Epistles, but on a different side in each of the two. It is however God's government, not simply as saints of old knew it, but as it was modified by Messiah's advent and the accomplishment of redemption. Hence there is evident contrast with Israel's position under law, and the anticipation by faith of what it will be at Christ's appearing, making the necessary difference that those addressed are strangers and sojourners meanwhile, and hence holy sufferers on the earth, awaiting praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. But while the First Epistle is occupied with that righteous government as applied to the Christian's path day by day as he hopes for the bright result at our Lord's revelation, the Second pursues it with solemn and detailed energy to the judgment of false teachers, rivaling the false prophets of Israel, and working no less corruption and destruction; and it goes on even to the day of God; by reason of which inflamed heavens shall be dissolved, and burning elements shall melt, succeeded by new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, even the eternal state. The judgment of the wicked was notably distinct in the Second, as the watchful care and eventual triumph of the saints in the First. But, so far from any antagonism or even dissonance, they are the complement of one another.
Accordingly we are told in the beginning of the First Epistle that the apostle Peter addresses “sojourners of dispersion,” which can mean Jews only, of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But they were Christian Jews, and so described as “elect according to foreknowledge of God the Father by (or, in) sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ.” The Gentiles of this large region of Asia Minor were settled at home in it; Jews there were sojourners dispersed from the land of Israel. But the description appended, like the Epistle generally, shows that they were pilgrims in a higher sense as God's children and confessors of Jesus Christ. The Second Epistle (3) declares that it was written to the same persons. There is no ground therefore to claim for it a more catholic character than for the First. But “catholic” is a word greatly abused.
That both Epistles are divinely given and intended to profit all the faithful is unquestionable. But if for all saints, it is of interest and not without moment that we should recognize to whom they were written. That which the inspired writer himself says ought to be conclusive. But the learned no less than the unlearned like to have their opinions; and the late Dean Alford was only one of many who cite a number of verses, even in the First Epistle, to persuade us, notwithstanding the express terms of the address, that the apostle addresses himself to Gentile Christians as well as Jewish (for instance, 1:14, 18; 2:9, 10; 3:6; 4:3). Is it true then, that these passages furnish proof that his admonitions were directed to such as had been heathen, and were now converted to the faith of Christ?
Take now the first of these (i.e. 1:14); and where is the trace of a Gentile? Were not Jews, when begotten again to a living hope, to be as children of obedience, not conformed to former lusts in their ignorance but according to the Holy One Who called them, to be themselves also holy in all manner of living? What indication of previous heathenism is here? Ver. 18, far from pointing necessarily to Gentiles, emphatically supposes Jews only. For they beyond all had a mode of life handed down ancestrally, and all the more vain from their boasted knowledge of the living God.
Still plainer seems the Jewish appropriation of 2:9-10. It is true that the Jews by their unbelief and rebellion, their idolatry first, and finally by Christ's rejection, forfeited their special privileges. “But ye,” says the apostle, ye the remnant who believe, ye anticipate what the nation are yet to have “in that day” when they too believe. Ye who in your unbelief belonged to them as “not a people,” but now do believe, ye are “God's people;” ye who were not shown mercy, now became objects of mercy. And this is entirely confirmed by the verses which immediately follow. For they are exhorted, as strangers and sojourners in a yet higher way, to abstain from fleshly lusts, having their behavior seemly “among the Gentiles,” as an outside class of evil-speakers.
The next, chapter 3:6, offers no difficulty; for after setting forth Sarah's pattern of obedience, he tells the wives that they were become her children, not by mere flesh and blood, but by doing good and being not afraid with any terror. How does this imply previous heathenism? The last is 4:3; but it is a forcible reminder that in the days of their unbelief they had been morally as corrupt as the heathens. Living far off among them, they were guilty even of their unhallowed idolatries—a thing of course if they were Gentiles, but shameful in Jews. Not a word of proof is there in all or any of these passages that the Epistle goes beyond its address.
It ought not to be doubted that Peter was in Babylon, the literal Babylon on the plain of Shinar, when he wrote the First Epistle, according to the arrangement made in earlier days (Gal. 2:7, 8), that the gospel of the uncircumcision should be confided to Paul, and that of the circumcision to Peter, God working in each to their respective ends. There was no jar whatever, but happy fellowship, and it was marked by Peter's employing the same brother as his intermediary who had been Paul's choice on a remarkable occasion and a former mission. It seems not improbable that Peter's wife (cf. 1 Cor. 9:5) was the co-elect sister there whose salutation is given, with that of Mark his son in the faith (it appears). And we may feel assured that he would not associate with his own salutation that of one who had drawn out a memorable censure even of Barnabas, until confidence was restored, as the great apostle expressed it in Col. 4:10, Philem. 1:24, and 2 Tim. 4:11. If the apostle Paul was debarred at this time from visiting the assemblies which he had planted in these lands, the apostle Peter writes to strengthen his brethren, but with singular delicacy addresses those of the circumcision who were allotted to his care, but sends the letter by Silas the well-known fellow-laborer of the apostle to the Gentiles, who had founded the assemblies throughout this extensive region. Not a word implies that Peter had served in those parts, though Origen and Eusebius state so from a mistaken inference put as a, tradition.
It is scarce worthwhile to notice the strange error of many ancients and moderns that Rome is meant by Babylon. Even if the Revelation had been known when the Epistle was written, instead of long after, it is harsh to conceive a mystical term of prophecy introduced into a writing so simple and direct, yet more into a greeting of love. What can one think of the theologians who cling to that which in the end is fraught with unsparing judgment, in order to extract its support to the dream of Peter's episcopate in the metropolis of the Gentile world?

Kingdom of God: 4

In resuming the consideration of this subject, especially now in the light shed upon it by the New Testament, there are several facts and principles of God's ways which need to be borne in mind by us. In the first place, it was in the counsels of God that Messiah should suffer ere He reigned. Nor was this a truth which had been hid in God, as one of the secret things which belong to Him alone. On the contrary, the sufferings of Messiah form the subject of many a distinct prediction, and the theme of many a holy strain of lamentation; besides being prefigured by a great part of the Mosaic sacrifices and ritual. Thus had the law, the psalms, and the prophets, borne witness to the sufferings of Messiah: so largely indeed, that for any who, like my readers, are accustomed to view them in this light, it is needless to bring forward particular passages in proof of it. But to Jewish minds, prior to the accomplishment of the event, this was the deepest difficulty. It was, besides, a subject most unwelcome to the pride of the natural heart in them, just as it is still in us. Sufferings, which the holiness of God makes requisite on account of our sin, cannot but prove an unwelcome subject to hearts that have not been humbled under the sense of sin. Thus it was with the Jews, yea, even the disciples of our Lord themselves. Notwithstanding the plainest declarations on His part that He must suffer and rise from the dead, they seem not to have entertained a thought of it, until the event came upon them, and found them, despite all previous warnings, unprepared.
Then, further, it was foreseen of God, that the human instruments in effecting Messiah's sufferings and death, would be His own people, the Jews. It was foreseen, yea, and foretold, that instead of receiving their Messiah with open arms, they would reject and crucify (Psa. 22:16, compared with Zech. 12:10) their long-promised and long-expected King. It was also foretold that on account of this, instead of the kingdom being immediately introduced, their heaviest sufferings and longest dispersion should ensue on the rejection of Messiah. (See Psa. 69:19-28. Isa. 5:5; 6:9-12; 8:14-17; 28:16-22). Other like passages there are, too numerous to be quoted.
Again, notwithstanding the rejection of Messiah by Israel, and the judgments which were to come on them in consequence, it was distinctly and largely foretold in the Old Testament, that eventually Israel shall repent (see Hos. 5:15; 6:1, 2. Psa. 110:2, 3. Ezek. 20:43, 44. Joel 2:15, 18. Zech. 12:10-14, &c.); that, confessing and bewailing their sins, they shall anxiously look for Him Whom they once rejected, and that then He shall return, forgive their iniquity, deliver them from their Gentile oppressors, on whom judgments the most solemn and terrific shall be executed, and that then the long-foretold and long-expected kingdom of Christ shall be actually set up; His government openly and visibly extending over all the earth. These events form the great burden of prophetic testimony: as the apostle expresses it, summing up the whole in a few words, they “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow.”
Thus far all is plain and clear enough. But the question arises, How is the interval between the rejection of Israel's Messiah and His return in glory to be filled up? “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” If Christ be rejected by the earth, a place had been prepared for Him in heaven. “Jehovah said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” The sovereignty which is hereafter to be openly and publicly exercised on earth, but which could not be thus exercised then, because of Israel's unbelief and sin, was to be exercised by Jesus risen, and ascended, and seated at God's right hand in heaven. He had, while on earth, manifested the name of His Father to those who had been given Him, and after His ascension the Holy Ghost was to descend to enable them to bear witness to the name of their rejected Lord, and to preach repentance and remission of sins in His name among all nations.
The effect of this word, which began to be spoken by Jehovah, and was afterward confirmed by them that heard Him (God also bearing them witness with signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost), was, that then, and ever since, there have been those on earth who own the name, and title, and authority of that Christ Who has been rejected by the earth, and is now actually at the right hand of God in heaven. As a matter of fact, historically, whole kingdoms have thus owned and do own, the name and sovereignty of Christ. It may be, and as to the mass undoubtedly is, true that it is only in word, in profession, that Christ is owned. Still the fact is there, that, as to the effect of Christ's first coming, whole masses of men profess to be Christians, i.e. to be subjects of Christ, recognizing His authority and governed by His laws. It is also true that amidst the mass there are many who do really know Him by the Holy Ghost; and it is of the utmost importance to see, as to all such, that there was a far deeper purpose of God than any which has yet been noticed—a purpose which He purposed in Christ before the foundation of the world, even that those who do thus really know Him during the present interval should be fellow-heirs and of the same body with Christ—His bride, His body—united to Him now by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and to be manifested with Him in glory when He returns. But this, important as it is, is not the subject of our present inquiry, though intimately connected with it. It is referred to thus explicitly here, lest any should suppose it was overlooked, or that, in distinguishing between it and the kingdom of God, its importance was in any way undervalued.
(To be continued, D.V.)

Bethany and Heaven: Blessed by Christ and in Christ

From the very beginning there have been (so to speak) stepping-stones in the ways and acts of God, unfolding Himself and bestowing blessing according to the purpose and delight of His own heart. True, the purpose before time, and the promise in time, most assuredly contain the very kernel of His intention in its consummate blessedness. Yet what a period with His marvelous dealings came between the prophecy of the woman's Seed, and the time when the angels celebrated His birth! No less for the promise made to Abram and the time when His seed, and all families of the earth should be blessed. Yea, how much did and will happen that is profitable to trace, before the heavens and the earth with their redeemed companies will celebrate the praises and glories of Him, of Whom it was said at His lowly birth, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good pleasure in men!” So too respecting salvation, in purpose and results, how great the distance, from God's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus before time began, to present enjoyed salvation, as well as eternal glory with Him, when time shall be no more! It is in this way that the twofold character of blessing in relation to Christ and His own so sweetly unfolds ways of love and grace, when the position and action of Christ at Bethany is seen, and the new place of His own in Him in heaven is declared.
It was in the city of Jerusalem that the guilt of man completed itself by killing God's Son; and there too in matchless grace the risen Savior would have the tidings of repentance and remission of sins first preached. But His last act on earth was reserved for the favored and loved spot, Bethany, where it is written of Him and His disciples, “He led them out as far as to Bethany; and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them; and it came to pass while He blessed them, He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.” This departing act is recorded of Him, Who had so many times been refreshed by the loving hearts at Bethany, where He deigned to accept a welcome retreat, whilst in His own city He had nothing but scorn, contempt, and hatred. But how much had happened, between the uplifted hands of the departing One, and the recorded scenes and circumstances at Bethany! There Martha received Him into her house, where He so blessedly adjusted the place and value of her hospitality, as well as Mary's better choice of sitting at His feet and receiving His words, which He declared to be the “one thing needful.” Thus the perfect Teacher put His divine estimate on the precious word, so intimately associated with Himself, and pronounced the lowly place at His feet, more blessed than entertaining Him.
This lesson as to the mind of Christ speaks loudly to-day, showing the importance of being filled with the Lord's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, before embarking in service. Further lessons follow in the love and power of Jesus at Bethany, when the favored home tasted the sorrow of sickness and death. Though Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, His love was now to be known in a new way, rather than in preventing or healing sickness; and their hearts were fully tested and finally gladdened by receiving Lazarus back, after death and burial had taken place. This infinitely surpassed yielding to their request to go at once and stay disease. “Jesus wept “; and after the unfathomable groan in spirit cried, “Lazarus coins forth,” crowned with the then unknown significant truth, “I am the resurrection and the life.” These had been hidden wonders; but now the fresh circumstances of Bethany call them forth, not only to live in their hearts, but to be lessons for to-day—what the heart and voice of Jesus the Son of God is, though now in the heavenly sanctuary. No less is it a sample of poor dead and buried Israel for that day when they, shall own Him Whom they then hated, and soon after crucified.
If John 11 sets forth such realities, we have in chap. 12. Bethany's provided supper on the eve of His betrayal and death, when the loved three were in their divinely appointed places: the raised Lazarus seated with Him, Martha serving, and Mary, who drank more of His spirit, using the choice reserved unguent to anoint His blessed person. It was a costly act of love spent upon Himself, in view of His burial, which, if misunderstood, He declared to be a memorial of her. This act may well illustrate the worship of an adoring heart; whilst we have Lazarus in his honored position, and Martha in her devoted service. We need not here dwell on the last solemn procession of the lowly Jesus from Bethany to Jerusalem. All else is but little in the light of the death at Calvary. There both man's awful sin, and the only death to meet it, together with the claims and the glory of God, found an answer.
Before the hands of an ascending Jesus could be outstretched in blessing, the divine sword must execute its holy righteous judgment upon Him Who had so recently raised His friend Lazarus, and allowed Mary to anoint Him. Yet Him Who knew no sin God made sin; and there the hatred of Israel unto death was eclipsed by the abandonment of God, so that grace and blessing might freely and righteously flow. But the streams of love and mercy had their outlet, in ways which the soul delights to trace, in adoration and praise, though conscious that the foundation of life and glory was laid, when Christ made peace by the blood of His cross. Jesus risen testifies to the divine satisfaction and triumphs of His death, though they are only gradually unfolded in their application and extent; still it is Himself Who is seen, and made known. Luke 24 touchingly speaks of the varied appearing to His own, who, if slow of heart to believe, were constrained to prove that it was Himself, the recently pierced and slain One Who was there to give peace and confidence, though henceforth to be known in fresh circumstances. Moreover, He again took the place of the perfect Teacher, and opened their still dark minds to understand the scriptures concerning His sufferings and death, as well as the glories to follow.
At this point it is, that He takes the last journey with His disciples, when “He led them out as far as to Bethany” to receive His parting blessing; and they worshipped the ascending Jesus, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Here they reached Himself with all joy and blessing; as it will be the case with His earthly people, when He returns as their true Priest and King. Meanwhile heaven's side of things opens, according to love's eternal purpose, while Israel and the earth await His return.
To declare the action of God in fullness of blessing is reserved for the Epistle to the Ephesians. There not only the riches and glory of His grace are spoken of, but the One Who is the center of eternal purpose is raised from the dead and set in the heavenlies, far above all principality and power, as head over all things to His body, the church. It is He by and in Whom God will gather up all things that have been so scattered, and alienated from Himself by sin. Prior to all this, in the very start of this wonderful Epistle, are made known the present individual choice, blessing, and predestination of all who in sovereign grace belong to God's heavenly family. True, it is not the precious fact of being blessed by an ascending Jesus but of being blessed in Him, the Christ exalted in heaven; as it is written, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly [places] in Christ.” Added to this follow the holy nature and the relationship proper to it. Nothing is left out now that love is free to act in and through Him Who is the grand and glorious purpose of God; yet its fullness and blessing was pent up till after His sufferings and death as declared by Himself. “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished”! Now not only is the One Who was cast into the sea of death the raised and seated at the right hand of God, but the Holy Ghost is come down to witness to His death and exaltation.
There and then it is that the truth of the gospel of God begins, advancing step by step from remission of sins and peace with God to known risen life and relationship with the Father, Who gave His only Son that we might be richly and fully blessed in Him. Little thought the favored few, who gazed on Jesus as He went up to heaven and were told by the angels of His sure return, that, between these two facts, they and all believers of this period should be blessed in Him in heaven by such an association made good by the Holy Ghost. True, it had been stated in John 1 consequent upon receiving Him, and the risen Son also said to Mary Magdalene, “Go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Yet it was left for further development before being fully revealed; so also was the truth of both the place and the blessing in Christ. If purpose and responsibility met in Christ, Adam's state of sin must be closed, and all such responsibility met and ended, before purpose could be declared and blessing bestowed. Thus, whether for complete deliverance or heavenly blessing, it is in and by Christ alone.
In the Epistle to the Romans the full question of responsibility is raised, and deliverance taught, through Christ's death and resurrection; to be in Christ is to be exempt from all judgment. Nevertheless it is to the Ephesians (the Epistle of purpose) the testimony is, that in Christ God the Father has blessed all believers with every spiritual blessing. It is not as for Israel of old, with earthly blessings in the land of Canaan, but with spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. It is important to notice the contrast of Jewish and Christian privilege; particularly when Christianity is made a system of earthly and worldly things to the cost of God's revealed purpose and His present action in Christ. The nature, the sphere too of the blessing, is spiritual and heavenly with which the good pleasure of God is bound up, He having predestinated them unto an adoption of sons unto Himself according to the good pleasure of His will. It is thus God the Father now speaks and acts according to the infinite worth of His Son, Whose work is the holy and righteous basis of it; as also His rejection and crucifixion is the occasion to bring out these heavenly realities. The Holy Ghost has been sent from heaven by the Father and the Son to declare and make good, not only the gospel of the grace of God, but the present heavenly blessing, the place of life and relationship in Christ. Would that faith were in holy exercise to receive and revel in the precious truth, whilst awaiting the return of our Lord to receive His own to Himself, and to take them where they are already blessed in Him. God grant it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
G. G.

The Mystery and the Covenants: 1

While it is of the utmost moment to remember that the death of Christ is the only possible basis of divine blessing in a world ruined by sin, yet has it pleased God, for the display of His divers perfections, to make many spheres, the center of which will ever be found to be His Son, Christ the Lord. Our wisdom will be to distinguish these things that differ; that so we may grow thereby in holy familiarity with all the ways in which the various glory of Christ is developed unto the praise of our God. So led, we shall be kept, through His mercy and unerring word, from the many and opposing currents of human feeling which strongly tend to distract us from the paths of His calm and happy guidance. His glory steadily kept in view solves all difficulties, and is the best answer to all questions of the due place for Enoch, Abraham, and other elders, as compared with the church of the first-born. Our secret of blessing is more and more to learn and adore the grace of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. The Christian can understand and sympathize with the jealousy which takes fire at the idea of preaching any other gospel than that which an apostle preached; as if there could be salvation save by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. But if we heard one quoting Gal. 1 to show that the very same thing was meant by the gospel there, by the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 24:14), by that which was preached to Zacharias (Luke 1:19), to Abraham (Gal. 3:8), to Israel in the wilderness (Heb. 4:2), to Paul (1 Thess. 3:6), to God's servants, the prophets (Rev. 10:7), as well as by the everlasting gospel in Rev. 14:6, we should feel that εὐαγγέλιου and εὐαγγελίζω were unscripturally limited, through our conventional usage of the word “gospel” in English; and so the profit was missed of the distinct force in each of the applications of the term in the perfect word of God.
The truth of the case beyond question is, that the word “gospel” is used there in a far wider manner than is common with us, who confine it to the word of salvation through the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. In that sense, there can be none other; and such is the meaning in Gal., where the apostle utterly denies a different gospel which is not another. There can be none, save that of the grace of Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins. To insist even on so apparently slight a matter as the circumcision of a Gentile believer, as well as on his faith of Christ, is in effect to frustrate the grace of God; and so Christ is dead in vain. Make circumcision, along with believing in Christ, to be the necessary means of the blessing, and Christ is become of no effect to you. You have slipped from the only tenure of the liberty wherewith Christ emancipates. You may have become far more “religious.” You may rival the Jews in observing days, and months, and times, and years. You may have fallen into no outward immorality; but you have done that which is infinitely worse, for you are severed from the root both of real holiness and of salvation by Christ. “Ye are fallen away from grace.”
But, that the word εὐαγγέλιου (gospel) and the corresponding verb are applied in scripture to many other glad tidings, besides those of salvation through the death and resurrection of the Savior, is beyond a doubt to an unprejudiced mind. The scriptures, already referred to, set this at rest. It is true, on the other hand, that what is called the “promise” to Adam is really no such thing (Gen. 3:15). It was part of the judgment on the serpent; and, so far as it can be said to be a promise, it was such to the Second, and not to the first, Adam. As to all the promises of God, in Him is the Yea, and through Him the Amen, to God for glory by us (2 Cor. 1).
But the pre-evangelization to Abram, that all the nations should be blessed in him, is a very different message from that which the Lord in the days of His flesh commissioned the twelve to preach, when He said, “Go not in the way of the Gentiles.” Nor can the gospel of the grace of God, which now gathers Jew and Greek for heavenly glory, be rightly confounded with the everlasting gospel which the angel is by-and-by to preach, saying, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.” God will then send to the Gentile world the simple tidings of the bruised woman's Seed as the vanquisher of Satan, backed up by the message of judgment at the door. In fine as a question of salvation, there can be but one gospel; while in another and in its place an important sense, repeatedly enunciated in God's word, there are many glad tidings, whose several bearings must be admitted, if we would be wise in the dispensations of God.
These observations may suitably enough precede our more immediate subject. For though one admits the connection, but not strict identity, of the Abrahamic covenant with the new covenant, which is to be made with the houses of Israel and Judah, it is impossible to show that the “mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3) is included in the oath to Abraham (Gen. 22). The difficulty arises from not seeing the proper distinctive position of the church, body and spouse of Christ, as now being formed and gathered by the Holy Ghost (sent down from heaven) into union with Christ the Head in the heavenly places.
To explain—there are, besides types, many statements in the Old Testament which leave room for the church, and bear, upon some of its circumstances and destiny, and thus are, or ought to be, full of light to us, now that its calling exists as a reality. On the other hand, the Holy Ghost is express in Eph. 3, not merely that the church did not exist, but that it was not even made known in other ages to the sons of men, as it is now revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. From the beginning of the world this mystery of Christ was hid in God. The Seed of the woman was no secret, neither was the Son of Abraham, nor the Son of David. As such, Christ had been plainly revealed and looked for by faith. The blessings of the new covenant were in no way hidden, and it was clearly made known throughout the Psalms and the Prophets that the Messiah was to be forsaken of God, and all His waves to go over Him; that He was to be wounded for the transgressions and bruised for the iniquities of His people; that reconciliation was to be made, and everlasting righteousness brought in; that the sword was to awake against the man who is Jehovah's fellow; that He was to die, rise, and be seated at the right hand of Jehovah. Not all nor any of these things was the hidden mystery, wonderful and precious truths as they are. They had every one of them been unambiguously declared in the oracles which were entrusted to God's ancient people. They knew that Messiah was to reign over a loved and loving people, judging the poor, saving the children of the needy, and breaking in pieces the oppressor. They learned that not only would there be every eternal blessing for the righteous under His beneficent sway, but that the Spirit of God was to be poured out upon all flesh. They heard that, not the Jews only, but the nations blessed through them, will then praise Jehovah, and seek to Him Who is alike the Offspring and the Root of David.
“Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, Jehovah our righteousness” (Jer. 23:5, 6). These truths are in no sense the mystery. From Moses to Malachi there was an unbroken stream of testimony to the mercy in store for the Jews, and also for the Gentiles, under the reign of the promised Messiah.
But, pursuing the same stream, it is equally evident that in all these arrangements of divine goodness connected with the earth, the Jews had secured to them, by the promise to Abraham, the first place. And that promise was irrevocable and inalienable. God would not repent of His gifts and calling; and certainly, in the promises to Abraham, it will scarcely be pretended that God gave no higher privileges to His friend than to the outside stranger Gentile. “In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” The nations are to be blessed in the Seed; but surely Gentiles are distinct from Abraham's seed, and the position of the latter superior to that of the former. But if it be so, they are not fellow-heirs and of the same body and joint-partakers of God's promise in Christ, whereof the Epistle to the Ephesians treats. It is another truth.
It seems incontestable then, that the privileges of the Abrahamic covenant are totally distinct from those involved in the mystery, the exact accomplishment of the one being in itself incompatible with the terms of the other. For if you make the nations to be blessed with the same privileges in all respects as the Jews, the marked honor and boasted prerogative of Abraham's seed is at once swept away as you reduce the standing of the favored people down to that of the most distant Gentile. But if it be still allowed that for the seed of Abraham is reserved by their faithful God the most exalted seat on earth, above (though encircled by) the nations blessed in them (all blessed in Him Who condescended to take and secure these promises as the true Seed); then it is clear that the oft-repeated promise to Abraham, which distinguished and elevated his posterity above all nations, is entirely and manifestly different from the mystery hid in God, Whose eternal purpose it was, but revealed only when the Holy Spirit came down, consequent upon the exaltation of Christ in heaven.
(To be continued, D.V.)

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Isaiah

The vision of Isaiah is here unrolled before us. What is the special design? One does not inquire whether the noblest and most comprehensive of the prophets wrote without a purpose. The question is then, judging by its contents throughout, what did God mean His ancient people, ourselves too who now believe, to consider His aim to be in the book? What does He teach in it as a whole?
Jerusalem and Judah have a marked prominence; but from first to last the holy seer was given to judge the moral ruin of Israel by the word of Jehovah and the future glory under the sway of the divine Messiah, when all the nations shall flow to the mountain of Jehovah's house. What could be more odious than sacrifices and offerings, new moons and set feasts, from rulers of Sodom and a people of Gomorrah? If we must reject the traditional delusion that Isa. 2 opens with the progress of the gospel, how can rationalist unbelief face the plain intimation that only by the judgment He will execute are the people to be restored; and this—not nationally only but also in their souls, that only thus will all the nations be brought into glad and willing subjection? What for so good and grand an issue has present experience to do with either outlook? Surely not the hypocrisy of the Jews, or the idolatrous iniquities of all the nations.
Yet such were the actual facts. What sign, then or since, of Jerusalem thoroughly purged or of the Gentiles learning war no more? No, the Holy Spirit led the prophet to foresee the “end of the age,” and the judgment of Jehovah's adversaries; neither the one nor the other as yet accomplished facts. He shall reign Whose right it is. In that day all pride shall fall, and every disorder be rectified; even each petty female vanity shall vanish (3). Yet it will not be by the gospel nor the church; but the Lord shall scour out corruption and violence by the spirit of judgment and of burning; and Jehovah will create over every dwelling-place the glory to be a canopy (4). Such is the introduction, each part ending with Israel's restoration, as does each larger section save the intermediary prove.
Then follows in chap. 5 a song of lamentation touching His vineyard, the house of Israel, and Judah the plant of His delight, followed by manifold woes on His people, which introduces the refrain of His anger not turned away, and His hand stretched out still, closing here with darkness and distress on the land and light darkened in the heavens thereof. After a striking parenthesis in chap. 6 followed up in 7 to 9:7, the refrain is repeated from chap. 6:8, till the end comes in the Assyrian who had been the rod of His anger (chap. 10:5), now to be punished and destroyed when the Lord has performed His whole work on mount Zion; “for yet a very little while, and the indignation shall be accomplished, and mine anger, in their destruction.” Deliverance comes by divine judgment. Who He is that makes good both is given in chap. 11 with Israel's song of joy in chap. 12. But the parenthesis which is occupied with Judah and David's house had already prepared for this. For His divine glory is seen according to John 12 in chap. 6; then in 7 His incarnation; in 8 His claim too as Immanuel to the land; and in 9, after the eclipse of His rejection, when Jehovah hid His face from the house of Jacob, His victory over the oppressor as in the day of Midian, when His glories are proclaimed. Thus the general course of judgment, as well as the parenthetic revelation of Messiah rejected but at last intervening for judgment of the foe, coalesce. Such is the remainder of the first section, ending in Jehovah's praise, and the Holy One of Israel great in the midst of Zion.
The second division consists of “burdens” or “oracles” of judgment from 13 to 23, ending with not the land only but “the world” languishing and fading away, and Jehovah punishing the high ones on high and the kings of the earth on the earth, but a fortress to the poor remnant of godly Jews, when the veil is destroyed that veils all the peoples, yea death is swallowed up in victory. Who can fail to discern the end of the age? For in that day shall be sung in Judah's land a song of victory; and a vineyard of verjuice no more, but of pure wine; and Israel shall fill the face of the world with fruit, as we read with much more in chaps. 25.-27. The end is full triumph for restored Israel, as throughout it appears briefly in each part. And how plainly the future is in view by beginning with Babylon and next Assyria! For historically every one knows this is not the order compare Mic. 5:4-7.
The portion that succeeds begins with “woe” to Ephraim, and “woe” to Ariel or Jerusalem, in chaps. 28 & 29, with moral “woes” going on to chap. 30 and in 31 on those that go down to Egypt for help: Jehovah alone avails. In chap. 32 is the contrasted reign of Christ and the Spirit poured out for that day on the earth, as already on the Christian for heaven. Chap. 33 is “woe” on the last spoiler, as 34 is the final slaughter in the land of Edom, which makes way for the wilderness and the parched land to be glad, indeed for all creation. And no wonder; for they shall see the glory of Jehovah, the excellency of Israel's God. The church, and all the glorified, will have a still more lofty and a deeper portion on high.
Then we have four prose chapters (36-39) of the greatest interest, evidently of prophetic type, and meant to brace together the two halves of this sublime prophecy by recounting the facts of Hezekiah's history, which begin with the blasphemous pride and the divine overthrow of the Assyrian, and end with the predicted removal to Babylon, occupying as it does large space in the unbroken stream of prophecy that follows. But even this interlude of external change would not have been complete without the inner revelation of the sickness unto death of the king, from which Jehovah raised him up (chap. 38), and which has its glorious counterpart in the infinitely greater Son of David, Who really died and rose again: the everlasting ground, not merely for the sure mercies of David toward Israel, but for all the divine' counsels of blessing for all saints, for heaven and earth, for time and eternity. But what is this to the higher criticism so called? Alas! it derides true prophecy and miracle, and has no revealed future of blessedness or judgment, confessing neither the Father nor the Son. Is it of God, or of the enemy?
The profound and majestic dignity of the latter half (vainly attributed to “the Great Unnamed”) is exactly suited to its more inward character, each section, though more secretly intimated than in the first half, centering in the Messiah. There are three distinct aspects in continuous flow. Chaps. 40 to 48 are the first where Jehovah redeemed His servant Jacob, adumbrated by Cyrus' overthrow of Babylon, and his proclamation of liberty and return to the captive Jew. “There is no peace saith Jehovah to the wicked “; which only a far greater than Cyrus will effectuate. The second consists of chaps. 49 to 57 where it is no question of idols judged in Babylon, as a chastening for the Jew but final and fatal for the heathen; but we have the still more impious and unbelieving guilt of the Jew in rejecting Jehovah-Messiah, with “no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” For this evil lies deeper and strikes at God Himself, not merely at His relative and continuous title as the God of ages, and governor of Israel. Lastly, the crown of blessing is to the end of the book, where faith in the Righteous Servant and His atonement changes unrighteous Israel; and the elect from them become His servants, not only delivered from every foe at the last extremity, but brought into unchanging joy and glory; no longer a curse, but at the end of the age an everlasting blessing to all families of the earth, as was promised at the beginning of their history to their first fathers.
Who but God could have inspired so far-reaching a plan, worthy of Himself and of His Son the Anointed! He, by unreserved obedience and infinite suffering in atonement, will deliver His people at last out of their manifold evil, wandering, and ruin, to become the ready servants of His good and holy will, and the honored instruments as well as objects of His mercy in the great day, when Israel shall be as stable before Jehovah as the new heavens and the new earth which He will create. How sad the unbelief which doubts that the zeal of Jehovah will do this, and much more! How blind those who fail to see the glowing and splendid testimony of all the vision of Isaiah to it all!
Take the Incarnation so clearly predicted in chap. 7, yet in chap. 8 a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, while Jehovah hides His face from the guilty people, but has “disciples” given to the rejected Christ for signs, and for wonders, before the day of final victory and abiding joy. Then shall the nation be multiplied as in chap. 9 and say triumphantly—Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Father of the age to come (or eternity), The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice henceforth even forever. Is the trumpet's voice uncertain?
Take again His atoning death in chap. 53 and the glories surely to follow, though we have to wait for the Jews to look on Him Whom they pierced before He is set on Zion, and reigns as Jehovah over all the earth. How honestly deny true, divinely given, foresight in broad and clear instances like these, early and later? Indubitable fairly as they are, they serve to attest all the others as to Babylon, Cyrus, & c.—any of which have furnished matter for critical cavil. But the orderly design also of the book, both as a whole and in each of its seven parts, points to its divine author though Isaiah.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Taken and Left; Thanks for Bread and Cup; Commendatory Letters; Crafty; 1PE 3:21

Q.-Matt. 24:40, 41; Luke 17:34, 35: “taken” and “left,” for what? A. W.
A.-” Taken” for judgment by the coming King; “left” for blessing in the kingdom. If the Lord had been here speaking of the church or Christian, the taking would have naturally pointed to being caught up to heaven. But the context proves decisively in both Gospels that He speaks of Jews in that future day of His appearing after the heavenly saints have been translated and appear with Him in glory.
Q.-Matt. 26:26, 27; Mark 14:22, 23; Luke 22:19, 20. Is it not clear that thanks should be given separately for the bread and the cup? And that reverence is due by doing so at the table? T. M.
A.-Though spirit is far beyond letter, it is sad to allow a slipshod way with the Lord's Supper. Even the Lord Himself, as all three Synoptic Gospels show, teaches by His action what is comely on our part. Nothing can justify irreverence or self-will. We have only to follow Him. As He took bread and gave thanks before breaking it, so He did with the cup. Why should any one depart from His example? Is it not habit, or carelessness?
Q.-2 Cor. 3:1. Commendatory letters, from whom? Z.
A.-From such as are known to have the assembly's confidence. If others took on them to write, what weight could they have? If a man wrote of contention or faction, the letter would represent his own bad state. We have the Spirit of God to guide by the word; but all is vain if we be unspiritual habitually, or carried away by prejudice or prepossession at any particular time.
To doctrine, as to discipline, the same principle applies. If a saint were of single eye, the whole body would be full of light. And all things when convicted by the light are manifested. The errors of a Christ born at a distance from God, of uncertainty as to possessed and known life eternal, and of a fabulous propitiation in heaven, distinct from Christ's expiation on the cross, are lies of the enemy; and “no lie is of the truth.” Nor will faithful men tolerate any of them, or whittle them down, or pretend that the light does not manifest them. It is grievous to know that any and all of these heterodoxies have excusers, who are more guilty and dangerous by their wicked sophistry than the misled. In such questions, it is “the eye” that is wanted, not “the light,” for this is quite clear.
Q.-2 Cor. 12:16. What means, “Being crafty I caught you with guile”? R. M.
A.-It is the low insult which “deceitful workers” insinuated among the Corinthian saints, to defame the apostle and exalt themselves. They dared to say that, if he did not burden them directly, he all the more craftily reaped what he could through Titus and others. None fall into such depths of baseness as Christian professors alienated and self-seeking. In short then, it is the language, not of the apostle, but of his adversaries, whom he exposes for our admonition; and he calls such words of his speaking “folly,” because it was not about Christ but himself, to which their iniquity compelled him,
Q.-1 Peter 3:21. What is really meant here? R. M.
A.-Christian baptism sets forth, not new birth, but salvation by the work of Christ. We are, as another apostle says, buried therein to His death; the virtue of which was proved by His resurrection. This a good conscience requests and receives. But it is carefully said, to avoid superstitious perversion, “not the putting away the filth of the flesh,” which was all that water could do, but what a good conscience as to God asks for, salvation by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For He was given up for our sins and was raised again for our justification. Thus have we acceptance in Him.

The Christian's Place in Ephesians and Colossians

In Eph. 1:6 our place is full grace in Christ; in Col. 1:13 it is present actual deliverance from the power of darkness and translation into the kingdom of the Son of His love. In the former all is seen from the point of view of God's eternal counsels before evil existed, the good which He proposed in Himself, though redemption was necessary when evil had come up, and the glory of God Himself, and the basis of our glory in that accomplishment of them, were made good in it. In the Epistle to the Colossians man in evil is the object of grace.

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Isaac: 14. The Bride Called for Isaac

Genesis 24:50-53
We may observe how Eliezer acts with the decision given by a single eye. Not only have we prayer in the Spirit, and worship; but there is a walk singularly devoted to the will and word of his master who sent him on this mission for his son. On this he is exclusively set. It was quite outside the world and its objects. Eliezer will not swerve from his errand; he allows no need of the body to interfere with its being the first object before him: to it all other claims must bend.
“And Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from Jehovah: we cannot speak to thee bad or good. Behold, Rebekah [is] before thee: take [her], and go away; and let her be wife of thy master's son, as Jehovah hath said. And it came to pass, when Abraham's servant heard their words that he bowed down to the earth before Jehovah. And the servant brought forth vessels of silver and vessels of gold, and clothing, and gave [them] to Rebekah; he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things” (vers. 50-53).
It is just so for the church and the Christian. The Holy Spirit given and indwelling acts by the Father's will for the glory of Christ Whose bride is the church, Whose member is every Christian. He is a spirit not of cowardice nor of indifference, but of power and of love and of a sound mind; above all He is given to be with us forever and in us to glorify Him Who glorified the Father.
Is it objected that this is to confound the Holy Spirit with the church and the Christian? It is really scriptural truth, not confusion. The objection flows from failure to discern that it is of the essence of the Spirit's action to merge Himself as it were in the object He employs or abides in. Hence every good fruit, of which He is the source and power, is set to the object's account. Indeed the case is equally true of those possessed by evil spirits. Thus the two demoniacs in Matt. 8:29 cried out, saying, “What have we to do with thee, Son of God? Didst thou come here before the season to torment us?” Still clearer is this quasi-identification expressed in Mark 5:2, where, when asked his name, the chief of the two answers, “Legion is my name, because we are many.” No less plainly does it appear in Luke 8:28, 29, where the possessed said, “I beseech thee torment me not;” and the evangelist continues, “For He had commanded the unclean spirit to go out from the man.” Hence we see how profoundly correct it is in the history that Eliezer, typifying the Holy, Spirit's action, should represent the church and the Christian also.
We can scarce fail to note too how God controls hearts as well as circumstances in pursuance of the design in hand. It is not that difficulties or dangers were lacking. They were many and manifold, to exercise faith in Himself Who in the face of contrary appearances knows all beforehand, and works all things according to the counsel of His own will. We have no reason to accredit the zeal of Laban and Bethuel for the divine glory; yet they fell in at once with what was set before them, confessing that the thing was of Jehovah which left them without a word to oppose. Their yielding at once, their recognition that Abraham's word was Jehovah's doing, drew out the fresh adoration of Eliezer.
Then follows the bestowal of proper bridal gifts of silver and of gold, with clothing, for Rebekah, as well as precious things for those connected with her. It will be found by those who investigate symbolic usage in scripture (for example in the tabernacle's construction), that, as silver answers to divine grace, so does gold to divine righteousness. This certainly is plain in the antitype of Eph. 4 where to each one of us, it is said, was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets, and some, evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints unto (or with a view to) work of ministering, unto edifying the body of Christ.” Could any type be more appropriate in this place? Here only, where it was so needful to complete the picture, it is given with marked care. Never were given gifts so distinctly flowing from the grace of God in Christ, and based on God's righteousness.
The power of Christ's victory will be fully and in many other ways manifested in heaven and earth another day. Meanwhile these gifts are the witness of His love to the Christian and to the church, delivered already from the enemy's power. He, the ascended Man, gave them to men; and this in virtue of His previous descent in humiliation the human victims of Satan's malice and of their own folly and sin. All is for the perfecting of the saints unto ministerial work and unto edifying Christ's body; all looks on to the bright future when Christ will present to Himself the church glorious, having no spot, wrinkle, or any of such things, but that it should be holy and unblemished.

Priesthood: 7. The Eighth Day

Now we have, not Moses acting as well as directing, but Aaron ministering as high priest of the Jewish confession. It was the inauguration of the priesthood in full standing.
“And Moses said to Aaron, Draw near unto the altar, and offer thy sin-offering and thy burnt-offering, and make atonement for thyself, and for the people; and offer the offerings of the people, and make atonement for them, as Jehovah commanded. And Aaron drew near to the altar and slaughtered the calf of the sin-offering which [was] for himself; And the sons of Aaron presented the blood to him, and he dipped his finger in the blood and put [it] on the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar. And the fat and the kidneys, and the net above the liver, of the sin-offering, he burnt on the altar, as Jehovah commanded Moses. And the flesh and the skin he burned with fire outside the camp. And he slaughtered the burnt-offering; and Aaron's sons delivered to him the blood which he sprinkled on the altar round about. And they delivered to him the burnt-offering piece by piece, and the head; and he burnt [them] on the altar. And he washed the inwards and the legs, and burnt [them] upon the burnt-offering on the altar.”
“And he presented the people's offering, and took the goat of the sin-offering which [was] for the people, and slaughtered it, and offered it for sin, as the first. And he presented the burnt-offering, and offered it according to the ordinance. And he presented the meal-offering, and took a handful of it, and burnt [it] on the altar, besides the burnt-offering of the morning. And he slaughtered the bullock and the ram of the sacrifice of peace-offerings which [was] for the people. And Aaron's sons delivered to him the blood, and he sprinkled it on the altar round about; and the fat pieces of the bullock and of the ram, the fat tail and what covereth [the inwards], and the kidneys and the net of the liver. And they put the fat pieces on the breast pieces, and he burnt the fat pieces on the altar. And the breast pieces and the right shoulder Aaron waved, a wave-offering before Jehovah, as Moses commanded” (vers. 7-21).
Accordingly Aaron and his sons offered the calf as Sin-offering for himself, putting of its blood presented by his sons on the horns of the altar and the rest at its base, and burning the fat and the kidneys and the net above the liver on the altar; but the flesh and the skin without the camp as prescribed. But nothing is said here, as in chap. 8:14, of laying their hands on its head, though there is the same witness borne to Christ's sacrifice in the acceptance of the inwards as holy and precious on the altar, but the body reduced to ashes without as identified with sin. His work explains the seeming inconsistency but bright witness, that though He knew no sin, God made Him sin for us. Again, we should note, that atonement was not complete according to God without the Burnt offering as well as that for sin. This at once followed; and Aaron sprinkled its blood too, delivered by his sons, on the altar round about, and burned it all, piece by piece, with the head, on the altar, even the inwards and legs when washed, burnt on the Burnt-offering. It was for acceptance and not only covering sin. The very words for “burnt” in verses 10 and 11 are here as elsewhere pointedly different, as often noticed. Next, Aaron presented the people's offering, the young buck-goat for sin, then as Burnt-offering a bullock, as Peace-offering a ram, with an oil-mingled Meal-offering. Here each class of the Levitical offerings was represented on behalf of the people. They mean Christ in the fullness of His work and person as well as His grace. How lamentable to read what a good and learned man (as was Dr. Ch. Wordsworth) remarks on the chapter! “Since therefore even Moses, who had been employed to consecrate Aaron, did not venture to perform any priestly function after Aaron had been consecrated, it is evident that no one else might do so,” citing Heb. 5:4, Acts 19:15, Jude 11, as well as Ex. 29:11, and Num. 16:1-43. He would not have denied that all Christians have free access through the blood of Jesus into the holies, and that all saints can now through Him offer up a sacrifice to God continually, that is, fruit of lips confessing to His name. What could he himself or any one else do more priestly? Preaching or teaching is a different question, and neither of them is worship or priestly. When will men live above prejudice and learn that through faith of the gospel and in virtue of Christ's death there is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in of a better hope through which we draw nigh to God. Who on earth draws so nigh to God as the Christian? Two barriers once blocked the way: the comparative nearness of the Jew outwardly; and the absolute distance from God of the sinner, Jew or Gentile. But through our Lord Jesus we both have access by (ἐν) one Spirit unto the Father. The assertion of an earthly priest denies this rich and essential privilege of Christianity, little as they think it who are beguiled into sacerdotalism. “Rejoice in the Lord alway,” said the apostolic prisoner.

Proverbs 8:12-21

We are in a world dominated for the present by a subtle spirit of evil that has access to every heart. There is therefore constant need of a wisdom above man's. For the Christian it descends from above; it is Christ, God's wisdom no less than His power. Here, as being for Israel, the Holy Spirit presents wisdom for the earth. For the heaven and the earth belong to God Who in due time will expel the usurper and put all things under Him in fact and manifestation, as they are now in principle to faith. Meanwhile we have God occupying Himself with what is heavenly for His children, in the N. T. before the day arrives, as for His ancient people renewed to profit ere long by the. O. T. as here. “I wisdom dwell in prudence, and find out knowledge of reflection. The fear of Jehovah [is] to bate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I [am] intelligence; I have strength. By me kings reign, and rulers make just decrees; by me princes rule, and nobles, all the judges of the earth. I love those that love me; and they that seek me early (or, diligently) shall find me. Riches and honor [are] with me; durable wealth and righteousness. My fruit [is] better than gold, yea than pure gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, and fill their treasuries” (vers. 12-21).
The Christian, though a heavenly man, walks on earth, and both needs to, and can, avail himself of such words as these, coming under the moral government of God as his Father (1 Peter 1:17). Wisdom makes prudence its dwelling-place; and there finds knowledge, if not of witty inventions, assuredly of reflections, a better thing. Thus are subtle adversaries met by a wisdom and its resources deeper than every snare. Its base is that fear of Jehovah which hates evil, for which intellectual sharpness and craft are no match. For divine wisdom in the word forms the godly in obedience, not in the cleverness that outwits craft by profounder craft; for this would only dishonor God and sully the soul. Hence pride and arrogance on the one hand, and on the other the evil way and the perverse mouth, are hateful to God and His people. They are the ways and the words of self, far from Him Who leads in the path of obedience, and gives counsel and sound wisdom to those who wait on Him and keep His word; and with Him is not only intelligence but strength—all we need in this tangled and shifty scene.
None need wisdom so much as those in authority, the monarch in particular. “By me kings reign, and rulers make just decrees; by me princes rule and nobles, all the judges of the earth.” But this very language aptly discriminates the difference between O.T., and the N.T., that is the entirely new state of things under the gospel as compared with the law. For there is instruction in the N.T. only for subjection to authority, in the O. T. for those who wield it also. The Christian waits to reign with Christ, content meanwhile to suffer with Him and for Him. No exhortation, no principle, no fact supposes him exercising worldly power where Christ was rejected till He appears to judge the world. It was quite another condition before the princes of this age crucified the Lord of glory. But it is now a time of great and growing unbelief; and it is a hard trial for most believers to forego present power and honor. Indeed since the apostles passed away, the true heavenly glory of the Christian and the church has been well-nigh forgotten and ignored.
But wisdom goes out far beyond rulers and the great, even to all that seek and prize it. “I love those that love me; and those that seek me earnestly shall find ma.” So it ever is in divine pursuits. Those that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. God has no blanks for the real. Wisdom from Him secures riches and honor; not for the Christian of a material sort, but better far—durable wealth truly and righteousness. Its fruit is indeed superior to pure gold or choice silver. Wisdom walks in the way of righteousness. Not “leading” but “walking” is the point here. To reason, to common sense, it may seem utterly foolish; for it often entails loss, and sacrifice, and suffering. But “he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Christ to us is the way; and Him we follow, whatever the case. Wisdom walks therefore in the midst of the paths of judgment, not outside them. And there only is blessing enjoyed, though it is not for the Christian in the basket and the store, in the bank or in stocks, but higher and unchanging.

Gospel Words: the Canaanite Woman

Matthew 15:21-28
It is in the First Gospel we find this most instructive incident, which reveals the Lord, not merely as minister of circumcision for God's truth, but as the display of His sovereign grace where God's curse lay, and Satan's power.
“And Jesus going forth hence retired into the parts of Tire and Sidon; and, behold, a Canaanite woman coming” out from those borders cried out, saying, Pity me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is grievously possessed by a demon. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and asked him, saying, Dismiss her, for she crieth out after us. But he said in answer, I was not sent save to the lost sheep of Israel's house. And she came and paid him homage, saying, Lord, help me. But he said in answer, It is not good to take the children's bread and cast [it] to the dogs. But she said, Yea, Lord; for even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus in answer said to her, O woman, great [is] thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wiliest. And her daughter was healed from that hour” (Matt. 15:21-28).
The Lord withdrew from the proud religionists of Jerusalem, who made void the law of God for the sake of their tradition. He also laid bare to the disciples that only the plants of His Father take root, while all that issues from man's heart is defiled and defiling. The sinner needs God's grace to save him. This is shown in the otherwise desperate case of the Canaanite, and her daughter sorely possessed of a demon.
Here may many a soul learns why the Lord does not accede to its appeal. Hers was deep and earnest; yet He answered her not a word. What claims on the Son of David had a Canaanite woman? When He reigns, there shall be no more a Canaanite in the house of Jehovah of hosts (Zech. 14:21). When the two blind cried early or late, saying, Pity us, Son of David, He touched their eyes, which were then opened according to their faith (Matt. 9:27-30; 20:30-34). But repentance has its place as truly as faith; and God will have the soul to judge itself aright. “Cursed be Canaan” is the word from of old; and yet was she not now asking His pity Who is to avenge and deliver Israeli How many to-day have said the words, “Father,... forgive us our sins”! Yet they too have received no answer; nor would they assert, any more than they believe, that their sins are forgiven. They have gone on ground wholly untenable. They are not His sons by faith in Christ. They are not born of water and Spirit. They stand on law, supplemented by ordinances. They are unrenewed, serving divers lusts and pleasures, a prey to the power of darkness. They do not cry to God in the truth of their estate, but imitate the language of disciples, which they might own they are not in heart. Have we not experienced it ourselves? Our state was below the Canaanite's.
The woman of Canaan evidently knew that no Israelite ever appealed to Christ in vain. She had faith in Him; but she had overlooked her own dismal position. Theirs were “the promises “; but what had she? Not promise, but curse. And He Who is the truth would have her feel it. Not so the disciples; they would have Him dismiss her. This was far from His heart. They disliked the discredit of her importunity, and wished to be rid of her. He meant to bless her; but it must be in the truth as well as the grace of God. For this He waited, and she as yet had no answer; but He answered them, “I was not sent save to the lost sheep of Israel's house.”
Now faith where real perseveres; and the woman came and did Him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He is indeed Lord of all: this is truth without assumption of privilege. To such an appeal He does reply, “It is not good to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs.”
Thus does His grace help her to see where she was lacking. The light of God shines into her heart; and she bows at once. For she said, “Yea, Lord; for even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.” She apprehends where and what she really was, and takes her true place before God. She had forgotten that she was not a “sheep” to claim the succor of Israel's Shepherd. She was truly a “dog” before Him, no better than a little dog or whelp. Yet while no longer hiding this from her soul but confessing it freely, she rejoins, “Yea, Lord; for even the whelps eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.”
Oh! what refreshment did such faith give to our Lord Jesus! She savored the things of God. She appreciated, believed, and enjoyed the grace of which she was the object. And the Lord owned her “great faith,” and gave her all she wished.
How is it with you, dear reader? Have you learned that you are no better than a dog before Him? Or are you, while in your sins, claiming to be His sheep? Own yourself a sinner, and Him the only Savior, that you may be saved. He is the same Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon Him. Why should you stand without? A better voice than Laban's invites you to come in and be blessed. All depends on Him; but it is not yours save by repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Till then we have no known divine answer to our cry.

1 Peter 1:1

“Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ to elect sojourners scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1).
When James wrote his Epistle, as bondman of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was to the twelve tribes that were in the “dispersion.” It is a mistake to call this a “catholic” address, but it has an expressly large character for Israel; for it appeals to their utmost extent. So on a notable occasion the Apostle Paul says before the king Herod Agrippa, “Now I stand to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God unto our fathers, unto which our twelve tribes earnestly serving God night and day hope to arrive” (Acts 26:7). That hope hangs on resurrection, as the prophets indicated clearly, and the law too, rightly understood. Wherefore he immediately (ver. 8) speaks of God raising dead persons, as proved in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. God will thus be the doer and giver of all the blessing He promised; and Israel will have only to incline their ear and come to Him, from Whom they had so long departed, and by Whom they were at length for their apostasy dispersed among the nations. But by-and-by they are to hear, and their soul shall live; and He will make an everlasting covenant with them, the sure (the faithful or inviolable) mercies of David, in Him Who is the true Beloved, a witness given to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples far beyond the son of Jesse.
“The dispersion” is a phrase evidently familiar to the Jews, which first occurs in John 7:35, and clearly means the Jews dispersed among the Greeks or Gentiles. For the genitive here as often elsewhere expresses a dependence, not immediate but remote and external, as for instance μετ. Bαβ. removal to Babylon (Matt. 1:11).
But the Apostle Peter in this scripture prefixes two words before “dispersion” which necessarily limit the scope of that term. The first, “elect” points out restriction to individuals chosen of God. They were elect from among the Jews, as believing that Jesus was the Christ and Son of God; whereas their brethren after the flesh for the most part rejected Him. Those who believed were Christians.
Israel had enjoyed the privilege of being the nation chosen by Jehovah as no other people was; and they will in sovereign mercy be reinstated at the end of the age under the Messiah and the new covenant, to be blessed with richer favors and forever in that fast approaching day. It will be no longer a mixed condition as in the palmiest season of the past. “Thy people also (says Isa. 60:21-22) shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land forever; the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation: I Jehovah shall hasten it in its time.” So Daniel was told later, “At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Dan. 12:1).
But that time is not come. Out of the Jewish people, when the apostle wrote, God is choosing to a heavenly calling by the faith of Him Whom the nation rejected and God has glorified on high. They are His present election while the heavens receive the Lord Jesus. To these only does Peter here write; he does not, like James, address a larger circle, some even unconverted, throughout the twelve tribes. He writes only to Christian confessors of the Lord Jesus who had been Jews.
This last is made plain and certain by the second term, “sojourners,” when combined with the word “dispersion” which it qualifies. They were not the primitive possessors of these countries, nor simply “elect” from among its settled inhabitants. They were not only Jews scattered in those parts, but elect “pilgrims” or “sojourners.” This was a title of grace, as “dispersion” was of judgment. Their election in this case was bound up with the journey to the better country, that is, a heavenly. Originally Jews, they were now Christians. This entirely accords with the writer of the Epistle. Peter was an “apostle of Jesus Christ” as he here introduces himself; and as the gospel of the uncircumcision had been confided to Paul, so was that of the circumcision to Peter (Gal. 2:7). Hence it is to such that these two Epistles were addressed. Compare 2 Peter 3:1 with the verse before us. As this is certain, it is unbelieving to allow that any other statements can countervail. Even a man would not write so incoherently: why should men of faith think so unworthily of scripture? Can such persons hold divine inspiration?
It is the more remarkable, because, as we know, the churches throughout Asia Minor had been founded by the Apostle Paul and consisted largely of those who had been Gentiles. The delicate consideration of Peter is the more striking, because he directs his appeals throughout a part of that land to those Christian Jews who fell under his administration. Needless to say, his instruction in no way clashed with that which Paul had preached, taught, and written to them, whether Jews or Gentiles. None knew better than Peter how much the Jewish confessors of the Lord Jesus needed to be established in grace; none felt more than he how disposed they were on the one hand to boast in law and ordinances, and on the other to conform to the shameful ways of the Pagans who surrounded them. In his very address or the superscription he strikes the key-note. From the start he thus reminds them, that they were “elect” after a new sort, not national now but personal, and flowing out of the grace of God as Father for known association with Christ not on earth but in heaven. They were therefore but “pilgrims” meanwhile, where He was despised and rejected as a sufferer beyond all others in life (as He was alone and infinitely in His atoning death), that they too might by faith rejoice in sharing His sufferings as far as this could be.
For Peter was jealous over their souls with a godly jealousy, lest election might be severed from a deep sense of divine grace, and the spring be forgotten in claiming the issue. He therefore loses no time in saying plainly that not more surely are they “elect” than “sojourners.” Had he heard the Son of God, in pouring out His heart to the Father, declare that His own (and were they not His own?) were not of the world, as He was not? Had he forgotten the Lord's repeating, yet more emphatically, “Of the world they are not, even as I am not” (John 17:15,17)? Here it is a figurative expression, but the same truth. They were elect pilgrims. The world of man's home was not theirs, nor yet was Canaan, but heaven, yea the Father's house above. It was not Jewish feeling for the land of promise, but Christian hope in waiting for Christ and to be with Him where He is, and like Him glorified.
Therefore were they but sojourners here looking for glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, and called to gird up the loins of their mind, being sober, and setting their hope perfectly upon the grace to be brought them at that revelation. Practical duties are based on the new relationships of grace; and truth is the communicated knowledge of both. For it is a characteristic of Peter's method and style to blend all together informally and with fervor, so as to act on the renewed mind, exercising the conscience and the heart. If he has not the immense sweep of Paul in ranging through the counsels of God, if not his the penetrating into the roots of complicated questions and clearing the principles at stake, if a far-reaching and unfailing and subtle dialectic belongs to Paul beyond all others, to no one more admirably than to Peter was it given to strengthen his brethren pithily, earnestly, and affectionately, by the exhibition of Christ and His work, and by the constant application of God's righteous government, whatever be His grace too.
The names given of the lands, where were the Christian Jews addressed, call for little notice. It has been shown by others that it well suits one writing from the eastern Babylon, but not the little place so named in Egypt any more than the symbolic metropolis of the west. The lack of persons saluted serves to prove that Peter was little if at all known personally there, whatever might be the just weight of inspired letters from him. These various provinces had been the familiar scene of Paul's labors.

Kingdom of God: 5

The fact is, that the kingdom of God, which will exist manifestly in the millennial reign of Christ (treated of in No. 1), exists now in mystery, and is found wherever there is the acknowledgment, real or in profession only, of the name and authority of Christ, while He Himself is hid in God on high. It is within this kingdom of course, that the church has its existence at present. Nay, more; it is at present the only thing in the kingdom which is really precious to Christ; and we shall have to look at passages which, on this account, speak of the church, or rather of those who compose the church, as the kingdom. Still, it is not as the church that these passages contemplate it, and the kingdom itself is a much wider thing.
For full instructions as to the special or distinct place and blessedness of “the church,” we look in vain, except in the Ephesians and other Epistles of Paul. The kingdom of God, one would repeat, exists now in mystery, and comprises the whole sphere in which the name and authority of Christ are recognized, whether nominally or really, during the period of Christ's session at the right hand of God. There is, of course, a wide difference between a sovereignty exercised openly and visibly in the form and character of royalty on the earth (Jerusalem its center and the whole earth its sphere), and a sovereignty exercised from heaven by invisible agency and moral means, such as Christianity is now. This latter is the kingdom of God in mystery; the former is the kingdom of God as the Jews were taught by ancient prophecy to expect it, and as it will yet surely exist in the millennial age. Modified, however, even then by the introduction and co-heirship with Christ of the heavenly saints, for which room was made by Israel's rejection of their Messiah on the earth. When He takes the kingdom, it will be as the glorified Son of man; and the heavenly body, the church, now forming by the Holy Ghost, will be united with its Head in the administration of that kingdom, so that even then it will have the character of the kingdom of heaven.
As the open establishment of the kingdom is inseparably connected with the repentance of Israel and their reception of the Messiah, it pleased God, by the proclamation that His kingdom was at hand, solemnly to put to the test whether Israel was in a condition, morally and spiritually, to receive it. Accordingly the preaching of John the Baptist, and the earlier preaching of our Lord Himself and His disciples, was simply this, the announcing that the kingdom was at hand, and calling upon Israel to repent and believe the glad tidings. God knew of course, that they would reject the kingdom thus preached to them; and He had arranged everything accordingly. The kingdom they hoped for was to be put off on account of their unbelief; and the kingdom which was actually at hand was the kingdom in mystery, as it has existed from that time until the present.
Though God knew well that they would reject the kingdom, both in the rejection of its royal Heir and in the rejection of His fore-runner—though God knew this, I say—the responsibility of Israel was not thereby diminished in the least. All was ready on God's part; “the Child was born to Israel, the Son given,” Whose name was to be called Wonderful, on Whose shoulders the government was to be, and Who was to sit on the throne of His father David, executing judgment and justice forever. He gave full proof that to Him belonged these dignities and glories; and had they received Him, His reign would doubtless have commenced. But God knew that they would not receive Him. He knew they would crucify and slay Him, and He delivered Him into their hands to be thus crucified. But did that make them less guilty? Not in the least. The foreknowledge of God is one thing; man's responsibility is another.
God knew men would break the law; yet He gave it, that what was in man's heart might be manifest. God knew that Israel would, by their sins, forfeit the land of Canaan, and have to be scattered, as at present. He told them that He knew this before He brought them in. (See Deut. 31:16-21). Still, He brought them in. He knew that they would reject the prophets and messengers by whom He spake to them, and offered them forgiveness and mercy, if they would but repent. (See Ezek. 3:7-9). Nevertheless, He sent them, rising up betimes and sending. Was their responsibility diminished by God's foreknowledge of the manner in which they would treat the messengers of His mercy? Surely not. So when, last of all, He sent His Son, sent Him as the One born to be King of the Jews, He knew all that they would do unto Him. From the slaughter of the innocents by Herod, to the last taunt that was addressed to the holy Sufferer on the cross, God foreknew all.
Why should this hinder Him from presenting the kingdom to them, and offering them its felicities and its glories on condition of their repentance, any more than the foresight of their failure under any former test should have hindered Him from applying it? God would make manifest what man, what Israel, was, and so appealed to them in the most affecting way, through the medium of the hopes which, for so many generations, had been indulged by them as a nation—hopes based on the prophecies considered in our last. And they understood that Jesus claimed to be the One Whose coming was the object and center of their natural hopes. The superscription in Latin, and Greek, and Hebrew, placed over the cross by Pilate, told plainly enough that it was as King of the Jews He was rejected by the nation. Thank God, He did foreknow what they in the hatred of their hearts would do. Their sin has thus been overruled to our salvation; their fall has become our riches. In due time, when the church has been formed and perfected, and caught up to meet its Head in the air, when all the “mysteries of the kingdom” have had their accomplishment, Israel, as we have seen, humbled and broken-hearted, shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah; and the kingdom shall be established manifestly and in power. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”
Let us look now at some of the passages in the New Testament which relate to this subject. We shall find them ranging themselves under one or other of these classes. 1. The passages which announce the kingdom in such a manner and in such connections as necessarily to awaken in the heart the thought of that kingdom of Christ, which we saw in No. 1 to be the great subject of Old Testament prophecy. 2. The passages which speak of the kingdom as it now exists in mystery, including all on earth that own, whether truly or in mere profession, the sovereignty of Jesus in heaven. 3. The passages in which the expression is limited to that which really and truly owns the name and authority of Jesus; the kernel, so to speak, which alone gives value to the shell. There may be a few others giving the general characteristics of the reign of God apart from circumstances altogether.
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying: “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make his paths straight” (Matt. 3:1-3). It is by no means certain that the phrase “kingdom of heaven” here would suggest to the mind of John the Baptist himself any other thought than that of Messiah's reign—the kingdom which the God of heaven was to set up. The passage quoted by the evangelist respecting him is one which clearly has not yet received its full accomplishment; nor will it, till “the times of restitution of all things.” “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed; and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:4, 5). There can be no mistake as to what kingdom it is that is depicted here. It ensues on the accomplishment of the whole warfare, and travail, and chastisement of Jerusalem (verses 1, 2); and in it Zion and Jerusalem have the office of bringing good tidings, and crying to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God” (verse 9).
Without doubt the kingdom of heaven was really to exist in a very different form before the arrival of this blessed period; but it was Israel's sin which afforded the opportunity, so to speak, for its existence in its present manner; and before it actually took this form, it was to be seen whether there was in them the heart to respond to these joyful tidings; and hence this mission of the Baptist. (continued from p. 8) (To be continued, D.V.)

The Mystery and the Covenants: 2

In this mystery the distinctions disappear which the Abrahamic promises maintain. Jew and Gentile are now made one and the same body, the body of Christ. For earthly blessing this could not be, because the oath to Abraham, it need scarcely be said, was inviolable. But this was a new and heavenly mystery, which in not the slightest degree interfered with the ancient pledges, and thus Gentile distance and Jewish nearness alike are now eclipsed by the glory of Christ exalted on high, and gathering out of Jews and Gentiles a body for Himself. “By one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.”
Thus faith, eternal life, and saintship, though of the operation of the Holy Ghost, are not His baptism: those had been from the beginning; this was not until Pentecost. The disciples of Jehovah had as great, and even greater, privileges than any saints in previous ages; but they were not yet baptized of the Holy Ghost. Nay, even after His death and resurrection, they had not this blessing until the Lord had ascended on high. Risen from the dead, the Lord breathes upon the disciples, and says “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” This, I suppose, was the power of that life more abundant, life in resurrection, which He could now impart as the quickening Spirit. But it was not yet the baptism of the Spirit. For immediately before His ascension we find Him with them, and commanding them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith He, ye have heard of Me: for John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:4, 5).
They had long believed in God's Son: they had eternal life, as well as whatever accession of vital energy may be supposed to be conveyed by His breathing on them when He was determined to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. That is to say, they had already as great, and (I think we may say) greater, privileges than any Old Testament saints had ever enjoyed; but they had not yet the promise of the Father. Jesus had to ascend on high, to go away, in order to send down the Comforter. The second chapter of Acts records this; and it is of great consequence to bear in mind, that while on the day of Pentecost many gifts of external testimony were imparted, this was neither all the blessing, nor the best blessing, which was given on that occasion by the glorified Lord.
Beyond all doubt, what the Jews saw and heard then was a witness to the reality of His presence Who was given; but the powers of the world to come are not identical with the promise of the Father. The χαρίσματα and the δωπεὰ of the Holy Ghost are not to be confounded: the former expression refers to those manifestations of the Spirit given to each for the profit of all; while the latter implies the Holy Ghost Himself as given to be in the disciples according to Jehovah's promise in John 14:16, 17. On that day began the accomplishment of the words their Master had spoken to them before He was taken up; they were then baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Turning to 1 Cor. 12:13, we see the consequence of this. “By one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit.” It is not therefore faith merely which introduces into this one body, the church; it is the baptism of the Spirit. No soul was ever quickened apart from the second Person, and enlightened otherwise than by the third Person, of the Trinity. But the Spirit, though He had from the beginning quickened souls and given faith, had not been sent down to baptize believers into one body before the day of Pentecost; and therefore this one body, the church, did not and could not exist, until the Spirit came personally to baptize. When the day of Pentecost was fully come, He was thus given, and not before; and therefore it is impossible, if we would adhere to scripture facts and language, to date the church, as a body actually existing here below, previously to that day.
We have exactly the same warrant for believing that the baptism of the Spirit began as a fact with the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:2), as we have for believing that the body of Christ commenced as a fact at the same epoch (1 Cor. 12). The word of God is precise as to both facts, treating the formation of the body as a thing contingent on His baptism; and therefore it is inconsistent, as well as incorrect, to admit the one and deny the other. “There is one body and one Spirit.” For the Holy Ghost, although He had always acted, and will ever act unto the end, was not yet given for this new and blessed work until Jesus was glorified (John 7). For Jesus is not the Lamb of God only: the same is He Who baptizes with the Holy Ghost (John 1). And it is expressly revealed in 1 Cor. 12 that, though there are diversities of gifts, of ministries and of operations, and though the manifestations of the Spirit are given to profit withal to each one (i.e. in the church), “all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to each man severally as He will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:12, 13). Is it not plain from thence, and from the entire context, that we are on ground totally new, which pre-existed nowhere? yea, which could not exist, until God made the crucified Jesus both Lord and Christ, and the Spirit was sent down as He never was until Jesus departed and sent Him?
Where, before Pentecost, do we see a body composed of Jewish and Gentile believers wherein the word of wisdom was given by the Spirit to one; to another, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another, faith by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discerning of spirits; to another, divers kinds of tongues; to another, the interpretation of tongues? Nowhere. But we can go much farther. We can say, not only that these characteristics, as they are here described, did not mark any previously traceable society, but that the “one body” was yet in the womb of the future, because the one Spirit had never baptized believers before the day of Pentecost. “For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,” &c.
It is of all moment to say that it was by none of the ancient, and in this sense ordinary, operations of the Spirit that the one body was formed. From of old He had given faith and life, and all the holy and gracious paths of the elders were formed under His plastic hand. But the baptism of the Spirit was a new work, and without His baptism the one body could not be. It required His personal presence on earth; and this could not be till Jesus died, and rose, and ascended. The baptism of the Spirit and the body of Christ are indissolubly bound together; for by Him it is that we were all baptized into one body. Will any one, who admits the foregoing, dispute in the face of the chapter, and especially of verses 12, 13, 18, 27, 28, that this body is the church? If not, the entire question is ceded. The body of Christ is the peculiar privilege of saints baptized of the Holy Ghost after the ascension of the Lord Jesus to heaven. They constitute the assembly of God, in total contrast with the congregation of Israel.
This truth is entirely confirmed by a comparison of the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians which so peculiarly and richly dwell, the latter upon the glory of Christ the Head, and the former upon the blessedness of His body. But I would not at this time do more than refer to Eph. 4:7-16, and put the following questions: 1. Is it not beyond a doubt that the entire calling, framework, nature, walk, &c., of the body of Christ here detailed, are based upon the grand facts of accomplished redemption, of Christ's headship exercised from on high, and of the presence of the Holy Ghost here below? “Unto every one of us was given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore He saith, when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts,” &c. 2. Have we not inspired authority for counting upon the continuance of all those gifts which are needed for the perfecting of the saints, &c., till we all come in the unity of faith, &c.? 3. Have we any scriptural warrant for supposing that this kind of ministry, viz. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, will be continued in millennial times? And if not, is it not a collateral proof that the then state of things is wholly changed, for the body of Christ will be completed at the coming again of the Lord Jesus? In that day another work begins; and a different instrumentality, suitable to it, will be provided of God. So that though doubtless it belongs to future ages to realize in its fullness of blessing the oath of Jehovah to Abraham, yet is it evident, from the right scriptural answers to these questions, that the mystery of Christ is a glorious work of God sui generis, into which none was brought before the ascension, and none can be brought after the return, of our Lord Jesus Christ.
All can agree therefore, that God's promise to Abraham will operate first upon the houses of Judah and Israel, and afterward upon all the families of the earth, distinctively the restitution of all things. But that which is not generally seen, even by some spiritual persons, is that between the rejection and the owning again of God's ancient people, an entirely novel edifice is being reared upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (of the New Testament), a building of which Jesus Christ Himself—having reconciled to God Jew and Gentile in one body by the cross—Jesus risen and glorified in heaven is the foundation corner-stone.
Previously, as all admit, there had been scattered children of God, hidden units among the Israelites and the nations; but their faith did not in any way break their Jewish or Gentile connections. They lived and died separately, though they might be believing Jews or Gentiles. But now Jesus had died, not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad (John 11:51, 52). The blessings resulting from His death for that nation await the times and seasons fixed of God, when the Jews, or at least a believing remnant of them, shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah; and God shall send Jesus Christ, who was fore-appointed unto them. Meanwhile the heavens receive Him; and it is precisely during His session there that the gathering in one of God's scattered children goes on, founded as we have seen upon His death, and effected on earth by the Holy Ghost.
This one body, we repeat, is the church or assembly of God, of which Christ is the Head and object, and of whose unity the presence of the Holy Ghost sent here below is the power. The life of the members of this body, no one can doubt, is hid with Christ in God; but those who possessed it were known as a manifested holy people, as separate (though in a different way) from both Jews and Gentiles, as the Jews themselves had been distinct from the Gentiles. This is the church parenthesis; and evidently it turns upon the baptism of the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, after Jesus had taken His seat as Head at God's right hand. Acts 1:5 is decisive that even the disciples themselves were not baptized of the Holy Ghost until Pentecost; while 1 Cor. 12:13 is equally decisive that what scripture calls the one body (i.e. the church) could not begin till the baptism of the Holy Ghost was a fact.
The Old Testament saints looked for a Savior, and their faith was counted for righteousness; for God ordained Christ Jesus a mercy-seat through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the passing over of sins that are past in His forbearance. But never had been propounded, to their faith that there was to be a body of Christ on earth composed of Jew and Gentile, all distinction being blotted out, and both built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Not only did they experience nothing of the sort in their day, but it was a secret which we know, on divine warranty, was from the beginning of the world hid in God. It was for the first time revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit, and in a pre-eminent way through Paul. Here it is that the post-apostolic Catholic church, the medieval Romanists, the Protestants, Lutheran or Reformed, the Moravians, the Puritans, and in short Christendom in general, have been profoundly in error.
(Continued from p. 13). (To be continued, D.V.)

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Jeremiah

The special object of Jeremiah's prophecy is no less evident than Isaiah's; yet is each as different in character and style from the other, as both are from Ezekiel and It was Jeremiah's lot to live and testify in the midst of guilty Judah hastening to utter ruin, and in the land for the most part during the crisis of its last kings of David's house. Instead of being the honored prophet of the king (save Josiah of course), and dear alike to monarch and people, he was a weeping Seer. It was not his to see his prediction accomplished in the sudden judgment which befell the most arrogant of Assyrian monarchs, who in his retreat of shame perished by the hand of his own sons before the vain idol of his worship. We have before us the greatest and most constant sufferer among the prophets; and this at the hand, now of kings, now of priests and false prophets, now of princes, and of the people, the chosen people; who, after their rebellious contempt during his life, regarded him as the chief of prophets, subsequent to his death.
No such immense sweep is compassed by the tender priest of Anathoth as in Isaiah's sublime vision with its rich and varied expression. But no book in the O.T. is so distinguished as this of Jeremiah, on the one hand by entire identification with Jehovah's indignant denunciation of Jewish iniquity and apostasy, on the other hand by self-sacrificing love to the end toward his countrymen who despised and hated him for his faithful rebukes and solemn warnings. Yet the wicked Jews were not so wicked even at last as the higher critics. “That generation” in the spurious 2 Macc. 2 represents him as appearing to their hero Judas Macc. as “a man with gray hairs and exceeding glorious, and a wonderful and excellent majesty to gird him with a golden sword:” an imposture singularly out of harmony with all that scripture tells us of this prophet of sorrows, troubles, and woes. Yet as he was given to proclaim not only the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Nebuchadnezzar and the captivity in Babylon, but also at the close of seventy years the downfall of that great city and the first of the proper world-powers, even “that generation” was not so incredulous as the self-exalting and God-defying scribes of the last century and our own, who are audacious enough to deny all true prediction as they do all real miracle, just as they reject the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ and the future glory to be revealed.
Unbelievers may speculate about the Pentateuch generally, and Deuteronomy in particular; for nothing is easier than for sharp wits, armed by self-will, to conjure difficulties and doubts against books so ancient as they profess to be. But the prophet lived till the Four great Empires or the “times of the Gentiles” began, and extant human history more or less credible followed, to say nothing of monuments (spite of their vain-glory and too frequent lying), which confirm him in remarkable and unexpected ways. And as the authenticity of his writings cannot be justly questioned, so the punctual accomplishment of so striking a prediction deeply moved the Jewish mind. Thereby the saintly captive was led to look onward, not merely to the proximate and provisional return of a remnant to the land, but to the final and full and everlasting redemption of Jerusalem in the latter days.
Then Jehovah will turn again the captivity of His people Israel and Judah, who will possess (as they have not yet done) the land given to their fathers, and Jehovah will be the God of all the families of Israel. Yet it cannot be without the last and unparalleled time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. “Behold, days come, saith Jehovah [not merely to “sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” not for destruction and affliction, but to build and plant them], that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” It will not rest, as he declares, on man's weakness, but on divine grace. For Jehovah will put His law in their inward parts, and will write it in their hearts, and as He will be their God, so they His people knowing Him from the least of them to the greatest, and their sins remembered by Him no more.
But while Jeremiah labored and testified, he had the bitter lot of his worst enemies among those he loved and pitied and censured so profoundly. This incredulity of Jehovah's word was caused by their rebellion of will against Jehovah Himself, as it ever is, whatever men say or boast.
Nebuchadnezzar and his servants shone in honoring Jeremiah, in the most marked contrast with priests and false prophets and even kings Jehoiachim and Zedekiah. Nevertheless as a true lover of God's people in their lowest estate and their base ingratitude to him, instead of going to Babylon where ease and honor were assured, he preferred to suffer affliction with the most despised in the land, who behaved as ill as ever and against his inspired warnings carried him down into Egypt, instead of abiding in subjection to the Chaldean.
Who can doubt, whose ear is opened to hear, the specific design and unique place of Jeremiah's writings in the Bible? But, as before, a sketch of its parts is given in proof that the general estimate is only confirmed by the detail. Moral appeal to conscience in Jerusalem and Judah occupies the early half, or nearly so, chap. 1 being the prophet's inauguration as a young man. Nor is any fact more striking than the way in which the apparent disorder of the chapters as in 21-24, even in the Hebrew (to say nothing of the Septuagint), subserves the aim of God's Spirit by the truth. To characterize it as confusion among his writings owing to a violent death is a mere and arbitrary guess, which overlooks the moral purpose and design of God. Chap. 25 is a transition, declaring the providential judgment of nations, ominously putting Jerusalem and Judah in their forefront. In chapters 30-33 the entire people of God, all Israel, are promised restoration to the land with salvation (in its vital and blessed sense) in days to come, under a new covenant and the Messiah clearly announced to reign (as King in chap. 23:5), a Branch of righteousness unto David, as Jerusalem shall be called by the new name of Jehovah our righteousness. From chap. 34 to 38 is the word of Jehovah as to various kings of Judah, but not in historical order, save that they preceded the fall of Jerusalem; as those from 39 to 44 bear on what followed, 45 closing the section with the prophetic word to Baruch his amanuensis. The last series consists of predictions on foreign nations separately, as we may see also in the writings of Isaiah and Ezekiel. The last chap. 52 is expressly an appendix to the words of Jeremiah by the inspired editor. It is a most appropriate close of the prophecy and introduction to the Lamentations.
The Lamentations of Jeremiah
It is notable, but by no means an unprecedented thing, that the book, which more than any other breathes the distress of a pious and broken heart, is clothed in a markedly artificial form. God meant His people to share the prophet's lamentation; and its predominant shape occupied his heart who wrote, and theirs who pondered and remembered it all the more. Its five chapters are five elegies. Chaps. 1 & 2 have twenty-two stanzas or verses, answering to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and each stanza with three parts. In the third chapter the initial letter occurs for each of the three parts, when the prophet speaks personally of his own sufferings, as before and after chap. 3 he pours forth his groans over the destroyed city with all its glories. In chap. 4 each stanza consists of two parts, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the alphabet. Though chap. 5 has twenty-two stanzas or verses of two parts, the initial letters do not follow regularly. It is throughout a true-hearted confession of sins, “The crown is fallen from our bead; woe unto us for we have sinned! For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes have grown dim, because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate: foxes walk over it. Thou, Jehovah, dwellest forever; thy throne is from generation to generation. Wherefore dost thou forget us forever—dost thou forsake us so long time? Turn thou us unto thee, Jehovah, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. Or is it that thou hast utterly rejected us—art wroth with us exceedingly?”
The book has then a place quite unique, from a heart which answered to the love of Jehovah for His people when they were most justly in the depths because of their sins and His chastisement, even to blotting them out from His land, city, kingdom and house. It is thorough self-judgment in the heart's solidarity with them and clinging in the face and experience of all to Him. Can we not discern what a gap for the Bible if we had not Lamentations? What will it not be to the godly in their last tribulation? Did the writer forget his own purchase (Jer. 32) in faith of the word? or his prophecy of Israel under Messiah and the new covenant? Assuredly not; yet none the less did he mourn the ruin of Israel, and that Jehovah should have grounds so valid for His severe chastisement.

Truth Absolute and Relative

There are truths absolute, so that it is impossible to lay too much stress on them in overstatement or exaggeration. Such are the facts about our Lord's person and work, His perfect Manhood, His essential Godhead, His infinite Atonement, and consequently the salvation which grace gives. These, it is needless to say, admit of no qualification whatever, although the veiling of Godhead in flesh be equally true. Obviously these stupendous verities can never occupy a secondary place. Take again another series of facts, as different as possible from the Incarnation, but alas! equally true, and liable to no extenuation—human sin and misery and responsibility. Nor may we exclude from this category truths like that of election, to reconcile which with man's responsibility ingenuity has tormented itself in vain; but which, we may rest assured, will one day be made clear to all, as they create no difficulty now to the spiritual. But all such truths are absolute, a quality to be predicated of every fundamental principle of revelation. It has nothing to do with the blessedness of the truths, but with their being illimitable. As we know, truth concerning Christ is as comforting and sublime as the facts of our fallen condition are saddening and humiliating. The one is indeed the remedy of the other. This, however, is not the point that is now pressed, but rather the absoluteness characteristic of some truths, as compared with others which are but relative.
Now there are other statements in the Bible that are only true, when not unduly pressed, and which may become positively dangerous, if divorced from a just perspective. And such, it would seem, is the case with what is said in scripture about the mother of our Lord. At first sight the language of Christ in correcting the woman who pronounced His mother blessed, might seem to be at variance with the language of Mary's own inspired song. Did she not say that from henceforth all generations would call her blessed? Yet here we see the Lord reproving undue, or at least exclusive, occupation with her, whom the angel Gabriel had greeted as highly favored [and blessed among women]. To superficial minds it might seem rather harsh to damp such generous homage. But the interpretation is perfectly simple. Mary was in the flesh most highly favored, singled out by a supreme distinction. It is even possible that, in a laudable desire to steer clear of Roman error, Protestants may have somewhat overlooked the signal honor of the Virgin, though this were doubtless to err, if to err at all, on the right side.
But our Lord evidently intended His hearers to understand that no mere emotional admiration of Himself or His words could take the place of faith and godliness and holy life. Rather blessed, said He, were those that heard the word of God and kept it. This is spiritual blessing, which is far beyond fleshly. Nor is it fanciful to suppose that the Savior was guarding against undue exaltation of the creature, to which the human heart is so prone, and which may perhaps have sometimes claimed to justify itself by those very words of the angel, recorded earlier in this Gospel. In short it is right to account Mary favored; it is grievously wrong to pay her honors due only to God; it is a mistake to forget that even spiritual blessedness exceeds any honor in the flesh.
It would probably not be difficult to furnish other examples of merely relative force in Biblical statements, which, taken with the proper safeguards, convey important and undeniable truth. The Lord Jesus told His disciples on one occasion that, if a man did not hate his father and mother, he could not be His disciple. None of course but a very literal mind (such are generally the most inaccurate) would be stumbled by this. To be “without natural affection” (2 Tim. 3:3) is one of the signs that characterize the difficult times of the last days. We know that “hate” is simply used in a forcible, as some say oriental, way to press home the fact that Christ must and will have supreme place in the renewed heart. And so with several other statements, on which it is unnecessary now to dwell. There are many dangers to beware of in interpreting scripture, but perhaps a bald literalness of mind is not the least. R. B.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Atonement and Propitiation; Prophetic vs. By Prophets; Angels

Q.-Lev. 16 &c. Does the Hebrew distinguish “atonement” and “propitiation”? Are there two different words? What distinction does the chapter present? It is known that ἱλασμὸς in the N. T. is translated “propitiation,” and in the Septuagint answers to “atonement.”
A.-The Hebrew word Kaphar (for the question) means to atone, or make atonement. So it is regularly; and Dent. 32:43, Isa. 47:11, Ezek. 16:63; 43:20; 45:15, 17, 20, are the same in substance, though the effect in some cases is meant, as pacified, purged, forgiven, merciful, &c. “Propitiate” would be just as good a rendering as “atone “; and no other word regularly expresses either but the one. There is however a real distinction definitely drawn in the chapter, not between atonement and propitiation, but between propitiation and substitution typified in Jehovah's lot and the scapegoat. The error which has so often been exposed in these pages is limiting propitiation exclusively to the use made of the blood by Aaron in the sanctuary. That theory necessarily involves the frightful error of denying that the offering of the slain victim is any part of the propitiation for our sins. What a slight on Christ's sufferings! For this monstrous theory is that propitiation was made “in heaven, and after death,” thus nullifying forever that great work of God by Christ's blood and death on the cross, and making it altogether dependent on another work “after death and in heaven,” instead of the type met before God in heaven by what Christ suffered on earth. “You hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh (not when He was out of His body) through death” (not after death and in heaven). Assuredly to be “reconciled” is grounded on propitiation, and presupposes it; but the truth is that Christ fully reconciled us in the body of His flesh through death. The ghostly work after death and in heaven is a ghastly fable, and calls for abhorrence.
Q.-Rom. 1:2-4; 16:25, 26. Why is it that in the first of the scriptures we read “by His prophets in holy scriptures,” and in the second, “by prophetic scriptures”? The distinction is slurred over and lost in the Auth. Version as well as the Revised: how do you account for the difference between them, which is so plain in the Greek? An old disciple.
A.-The key is given, as generally, by the context. God's gospel, or glad tidings, He had promised before; this was therefore through His prophets in holy scriptures. It centers in His Son, come of David's seed according to flesh, marked out Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection. While Jesus Christ our Lord then fulfilled the promises, He brought in deliverance from sin and therefore from death by power according to the Spirit of holiness, as even the O. T. prophets had foreshown. So far says Rom. 1:2-4. But 16:25, 26 goes much higher. For therein the apostle, without opening out the mystery or secret kept silent eternally as it had been, here tells the saints in Rome it was now manifested and by prophetic scriptures made known unto all the nations for faith-obedience, not by man's wit or imagination but according to command of the eternal God. The development of this hidden secret was mainly given to the Ephesian and the Colossian saints; but Paul's gospel as he calls it, yea the preaching of Jesus Christ in general to establish the saints in the faith, was in accord with it. Here therefore we necessarily pass beyond all the O. T. revelation, and are told, not of “the scriptures of the prophets” which is an incorrect rendering and a false sense, but of “prophetic scriptures.” These are in fact definitely distinguished from even all the prophets of the Old Testament, and refer solely to scriptures of the N. T. which reveal the secret of Christ Head over all things to the church which is His body. Never does the O. T. make this known, as the apostle declares here and elsewhere. Now it is revealed, and by prophetic scriptures (that is, the epistles, &c., of the N.T. generally) made known, not to Israel as the O. T. was, but expressly unto all the nations.
Q.-Deut. 32:8, 43, Psa. 97 (or-vi.), Heb. 1:6. Are not “angels” in the Sept. 5 of the first scripture text, and can this stand? Is it not so in the Psalm, cited in the N. T.? How are we to understand all this? H.
A.-The Epistle to the Hebrews quotes verbally from the Greek Version of Deut. 32:43, at least in the Vatican copy. The same truth is revealed in Psa. 96 (-7.) 7 substantially but as a direct address. There is therefore no ground for doubt that “angels” are meant and commanded to pay supreme honor to the Son as the risen and glorified Man, but none the less a divine person. Indeed if He were not so, worthiness as man and conferred dignity could not warrant the homage God claims from the highest creatures of heaven to His Son. “Gods (Elohim)” we find often applied to those who represent God as in government, or who are commissioned to announce and execute His will; as the Lord makes plain to the reader of John 10:34, 35. Thus there is no real difficulty. Idols must pass away, and the demons behind them be punished and put down. In that day all must bow in honor of Him Who appears to reign, Who is not more truly the Anointed (or Christ) of God than He is God Himself, and Jehovah. Whatever place He takes in humiliation or in glorious administration to the, glory of God, and for the blessing of creation, He is in personal title and divine nature as truly Supreme as the Father or the Holy Spirit. To think otherwise is to disown His true Deity.

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Isaac: 15. The Bride Called for Isaac

Gen. 24:54-60
Very unusual in the type are the marks of a marriage altogether extraordinary in itself. After a long journey, and even without such a one, how strange to refuse to eat, before the errand was told! A distinguished commentator remarks that his story seems superfluous. Far from this, it was in perfect keeping with the business in hand: and every part of his narrative to the household conveyed grounds of the nearest interest and of the deepest moment.
If he was the father's servant and devoted to the son's honor, God in His covenant name was before his heart from first to last. He, Jehovah, it was Who had so greatly blessed; He directed his master in the oath exacted to take no daughter of the Canaanites for the heir, only from his father's house and kindred. If election thus dominated, providential mercy would control hearts and circumstances, as indeed was apparent throughout. Prayer was thus stimulated and promptly answered. The desired maiden came before he ended speaking in his heart, met every test with grace proper to her, and convincing to him that she was none other than the woman whom Jehovah appointed for his master's son. Her reply to his question about her parentage sealed the matter, so that he could not hesitate to bestow suited ornaments, and once more bowed down in worship of Jehovah. When they of the house acquiesced in its proceeding from Him and bade the man take Rebecca to be Isaac's wife, again the servant bowed down to the earth before Jehovah, and the gifts flowed yet more to the bride in particular, but abundantly to all the rest also. It is a unique scene in itself and in what it thus appropriately foreshadows.
“And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and lodged. And they rose up in the morning; and he said, Send me away to my master. And her brother and her mother said, Let the maiden abide with us days, at least ten; after that she shall go. And he said to them, Hinder me not, seeing Jehovah hath prospered my way; send me away to go to my master. And they said, We will call the maiden, and inquire at her mouth. And they called Rebekah and said to her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. And they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham's servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah, and said to her, Our sister, become thou thousands of tens of thousands; and may thy seed possess the gate of those that hate them!” (vers. 54-60.)
Simple and fitting is the figure of communion with which this account opens: how strikingly is this too in keeping with the church's calling! Never in point of fact could there be full communion of saints till the deliverance came to Christians through the efficacious work of Christ and the new relationships founded on it. Hence the picture given in Acts 2 from the day of Pentecost. “And they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles, and the fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and the prayers” (ver. 42); “And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they partook of food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (ver. 46). In the Lord's supper, it was the communion of Christ's body and blood; but it pervaded their new relationship even in the most ordinary things of earthly life. And no wonder; for as Christ was their life, so was the Holy Spirit power against the flesh, that faith and hope, peace and love, in active exercise might fill them with joy. Their associations were based on Christ come, and their crown was to be in His coming again.
He Himself so taught and set them. Compare Luke 12:21-38. Again, in the parable of the Ten Virgins we have the same principle modified by the Spirit's special aim in the Gospel of Matthew. It is in the middle or Christendom section of our Lord's great prophecy, the first part of which (Matt. 24:1-44) presents the future for the Jews to the end of the age, and the third (Matt. 25:31, &c.) that of the nations when the new age opens. Nor is it service in its corporate aspect as in the close of chap. 24, or in variety of gift as in chap. 25 it is the individual responsibility of the Christian, true or untrue; and its character is that thus, having taken their torches, they went forth to meet the bridegroom. For this nothing but the unction, the power of the Spirit, avails. The tarrying of the bridegroom became the test when all grew drowsy and slept. They all failed in the very aim which drew them out to Christ from every link of flesh or world. Where was their hope, if they no longer went forth to meet Christ? When the cry at midnight awoke them, the prudent alone resumed the early and alone right attitude. For they only had oil in their vessels; and, being ready, they joined Him at His coming, whilst the foolish went in quest of what they never possessed. How could such as these wait for His coming? Only those who had oil in their vessels. Alas! All failed in watching for Him, all fell asleep. But only the prudent had the Spirit's power and presence—oil in their vessels. The foolish had barely the torches of profession without His sustaining energy, and must be thus unready when Christ comes.
Only we have to bear in mind that the exigencies of the parable required, not the bride, but the train of maidens prudent and foolish, so as to represent Christendom; as the type demanded not such a retinue but the bride. Rebekah becomes now the prominent figure, as is the trusty servant of the father and the son, who here puts aside the natural feelings of the family. His one thought is to fulfill his mission. They would have her abide a while. He, the more he is prospered, will hear of the less delay. The bride has to decide the matter. “And they called Rebekah and said to her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.” Her heart is made up.
So it is, so at least it ought to be, with her who is espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ; Whom not having seen she loves, on Whom, not now looking but believing, she exults with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of faith, soul-salvation. What is country or kin or father's, house, or all other objects combined in comparison with her Bridegroom? What could she say but “I will go”? She falls in with Eliezer's zeal. This report was answered by her faith, hope, and love. Unhesitating decision was the result. She goes forth to meet the bridegroom; and the faithful servant who had won her heart to Isaac, continues his care, and guides her across the desert. “And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant and his men,” with abundant blessings, short as they might be of her real position. But the picture is unmistakable. It is the bride, delivered out of the present evil age according to the will of God our Father, to belong to Him Who is in heaven, soon to join Him there, typified by the elect maiden who sets out on her pilgrim journey to meet the one to whom she is betrothed.

Priesthood: 8. The Eighth Day

Priesthood: the Eighth Day. Lev. 9:22-24
The closing verses have their own interest, after we were shown how the blessing of the future day with its manifestations of glory hangs on Christ's sacrifice. But there is no entering within the veil, no putting of the blood in the holiest as on the day of atonement. The blood is not carried beyond the brazen altar. It is the same blood and of equal efficiency, and in a far higher way, when we have that grand central type of Lev. 16. “22 And Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them; and he came down from offering the sin-offering, and the burnt-offering, and the peace-offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and came out, and blessed the people; and Jehovah's glory appeared to all the people. 24 And there went out fire from before Jehovah, and consumed on the altar the burnt-offering and the fat; and all the people saw it, and they shouted, and fell on their faces” (vers. 22-24).
On the day of atonement there was a manifested basis of sacrifice with singular solemnity. It was the one standing fast of the holy year, a sabbath of rest, where all Israel abstained from all work and afflicted their souls on pain of being cut off. It was the sole day in the year when the high priest entered the holiest where he put the blood of the bullock for himself and for his house, and the blood of the goat for the people; as he made atonement also for the sanctuary and for the tent of meeting. Then followed his confession of Israel's iniquities over the living goat's head, before it was sent away bearing them into the wilderness. The slain bullock and goat were carried outside the camp and burnt with fire.
In the first ministration of Aaron after the consecration, as our chapter records, there is the remarkable difference that the blood of the Sin-offerings whether for the priest or for the people was put, not within the veil, but on the horns of the altar (the brazen altar) and poured out at its base, and the fat, &c., as usual burnt thereon, as Jehovah commanded Moses. There was thus a signal difference on this occasion, not only from the statutes of Atonement-day in Lev. 16 but also from the requirement in Lev. 4 for sin, whether for the anointed priest (or high priest), or for the whole assembly. In either case the blood was sprinkled before the veil seven times, as it was also put upon the horns of the altar of fragrant incense, besides pouring out the rest of the blood at the foot of the brazen altar.
We are thus taught the external character of what was done on the day when Jehovah appeared to Israel. It was grounded on sacrifice, as it could not be otherwise. But there was no action in the holiest as in laying the basis of atonement, nor yet in the holy place as in making god the communion when interrupted. It was simply the acceptance of priest and of people, on the ground of which “Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and came down after the offering of the sin-offering and the burnt-offering and the peace-offerings.” They are here therefore enumerated in the order, not of Jehovah's point of view, looking at Christ (as in Lev. 1 and following chapters), but of man's need, where the Sin-offering takes necessary precedence, the Holocaust follows with its Meal-offering, and the sacrifice of Peace-offerings concludes the rite. The last two were for the people expressly; for God takes especial care for the weaker sort. It may be for a similar reason that the same emphatic phrase, which occurs in Lev. 6:26 in the law of the Sin-offering, is employed toward the end of ver. 16. “He sinned it (or made it sin).”
Then it is, that “Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and came out and blessed the people; and the glory of Jehovah appeared to all the people.” It is the union of the kingly with the sacerdotal dignity which is here indicated; for Moses was “king in Jeshurun” (Deut. 33). This took place within the tent of meeting, and was then manifested. It is not man asking as in the disastrous day that Saul was chosen after man's heart and the outward appearance. Nor was there really such a junction in after times. But here it was typically pledged by Jehovah; and it awaits its accomplishment in Christ for the earth in days rapidly approaching. “Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold, a man whose name is Branch; and he shall branch up from his own place, and he shall build the temple of Jehovah: even he shall build the temple of Jehovah and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zech. 6:3; 2; 13).
How appropriate that at this point “there went out fire from before Jehovah and consumed on the altar the burnt-offering, and the fat pieces!” “Jehovah, he is God, Jehovah, he is God,” cried the people even in the day of their idolatrous apostasy, when He answered by fire, as He now proffered the sign. Christ is the true Melchizedek, and shall reign over the earth in righteousness and peace. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this; for the counsel of peace is between them both.

Proverbs 8:22-31

In these verses we have the plainest and the brightest testimony of this book to Christ's glory. Who can fail to discern that He is here viewed as the Wisdom of God? The personality of His Wisdom is as marked here as of the Life in 1 John 1. This suits God if it does not man.
“Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was. When no depths were, I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the beginning of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I [was] there; when he set the circle upon the face of the deep; when he established the skies above; when the fountains of the deep became strong; when he imposed on the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, a nursling [or artificer], and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable world of his earth, and my delights [were] with the sons of men” (vers. 22-31).
The remarkable truth here signalized is the Wisdom portrayed with Jehovah before creation, and not merely in that display of almighty power guided by wisdom and goodness. More than this attribution of eternal wisdom, as Jehovah's cherished companion before His works of old, a special object of His affection is carefully shown in mankind, even as He Himself was to Jehovah. This and this only explains why the earth should be so near and conspicuous an object to the love of God: often a theme of unbelieving wonder, if not for unworthy and thankless scorn.
“Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of His way.” There was Wisdom, not simply in Him but with Him, as is said of the Word in John 1:1:” the Word was with God,” just as surely as He” is God “; and such too is the account of Him as Life in 1 John 1:2, before He was manifested in flesh.” I was set up [lit. anointed] from everlasting, from the beginning before the earth was.” He was no creature of God, but was in being before His works. When depths were not nor fountains abounding with waters, He was brought forth; before mountains or hills were settled; while as yet He had not made the earth or the fields or the beginning of the dust of the world. He was there for the making and ordering of all, as He was before any. Nor did He thus precede the lower scene only, but the heavens which contain all. When Jehovah prepared the heavens, Wisdom was there; when He set the circle upon the face of the deep; when He established the skies above. When the fountains of the deep became strong, when He imposed on the sea its decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment; when He appointed the foundations of the earth: then was Wisdom by Him, a nursling [or artificer], and a delight He was, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His habitable world; and His delights were with the sons of men. It is a grand, true, and highly poetic description, worthy of Him who was proclaimed in its season the Worthy One.
But whatever wisdom wrought on earth or sea, if the heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse shows the work of His hands, there was a counsel deeper still, a love far beyond intelligence and power; and this we learn in the marvelous description. It is not the Wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which was ordained before the ages unto our glory (1 Cor. 2:7). Nothing do we find of God's sovereign love in choosing out souls to partake of heavenly relationship. It is His good pleasure in men, to be effectuated another day by His Son becoming man and in that redemption which secures His glory and opens the way for all His dealings of grace. What we have here is no revelation of the secret that was hid in God till Christ rejected went back to God, and the Holy Spirit was sent to reveal it. But we have the inestimable purpose of God's goodness toward man plainly stated, and distinct from the election of Israel for the earth, or of the saints who compose the church for the heaven, and indeed for the universal inheritance with Christ.
Hence the force here of Wisdom being by Jehovah, His delight day by day, not only rejoicing always before Jehovah, but rejoicing Himself in the habitable parts of His earth, and His delights were with the sons of men. Though it be not Christ glorified on high, nor therefore our union with Him as His body, yet it is an expression of divine love in and toward man, far beyond what Israel ever realized, as it will be in the days of the kingdom here below when He reigns and all the families of the earth are blessed in Him. For it is divine delight in Him whose delights were and will be with the sons of men. Hence beautiful is the praise of the heavenly hosts at His birth heard by the lowly shepherds by night, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill in men “; beautiful in itself, and in their unjealous delight in His ways Who made men, not angels, the especial object of His complacency.

Gospel Words: Feeding the Four Thousand

Matt. 15:32-39
The miracle here does not merely attest again the divine Messiah's presence and power on behalf of His needy people. Each has its own characteristics for our instruction. Both prove His ready and almighty resources. Had each miracle appeared in a different Gospel only, the skeptics would have insisted on discrepant accounts; but God has cut off such an objection, because Matthew and Mark record both, Luke and John only the first of them. The miracle wrought twice signifies, if one may apply Joseph's interpretation (Gen. 41:32), that the thing is established by God, whatever be man's unbelief. The distinctions are marked, but in no way favor those of old who imagined a reference in the former to the Jew, in the latter to the Gentile. Both express Messiah's grace to the chosen people.
What then is the true difference? It is defined in detail, as well as in broad features. There were five loaves and two fishes in the first, seven loaves and a few fishes in the last, five thousand fed in one, and four thousand in the other; the surplus then filled twelve baskets, now seven. The very baskets employed had in each instance a differing appellation, meaning respectively a hand-basket and a creel, as expressed without confusion in each account, and maintained in our Lord's recall of both in Matt. 16. The larger distinction will appear presently, though it may here be added that the first was in the spring when the grass was green, the second some months later; and that in the second the crowd had stayed three days, whereas in the first we do not hear of more than one day.
“And Jesus, having called his disciples unto him, said, I have compassion on the crowd, because they continue with me already three days and have nothing to eat; and I would not let them go fasting, lest they faint in the way. And his disciples say to him, Whence should we [have] in a wilderness so many loaves as to fill so great a crowd? And Jesus saith to them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few small fishes. And he commanded the crowds to lie down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves and the fishes he gave thanks and broke, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the crowd. And all ate and were filled, and they took up what was over of the broken pieces, seven baskets full. And those that ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And having let go the crowds he went on board the ship and came over into the borders of Magadan” (vers. 32-39).
On the first occasion the disciples took the initiative, and proposed the dismissal of the crowds to buy themselves food in the villages. Their faith was weak indeed. How sad to overlook His presence who was pledged to satisfy Zion's poor with bread! Even His call that they should give them to eat failed to awaken any sense of His fullness. So He took the provision they despised, and abundantly blessed it to the five thousand, and more; yet there remained over of the broken pieces twelve baskets full. Now this answers to the twelve apostles, being the number of full administration by or in man. But it was only a sign in His rejected testimony to Israel; and sending His disciples to go before Him to the other side, on dismissal of the crowds, He went up into the mountain apart to pray, the figure of His priestly place on high. After this comes the wondrous scene of Peter leaving the ship to join Jesus on the water, which is peculiar to Matthew, as alone expressive of the divine design by that Gospel, and having nothing like it on the second occasion.
Hera it is the Messiah yearning over His famished people. They were guilty; but He commiserated their distressful state, and gave His disciples a fresh opportunity of drawing on Him by faith. Alas! they were slow to learn. “Whence should we have in a wilderness so many loaves as to fill so great a crowd?” He was there, and full of compassion; but unbelief, even in believers, is ever blind. The seven loaves which He took and distributed through His disciples, and the surplus in the seven baskets here named, point to spiritual, not to administrative fullness. All was ordered of God, all is meant to teach man, if he has ears to hear. It is Jehovah-Messiah acting in His own perfection. Here there is no going on high to pray; nor is there a rejoining the disciples for the other side, when and where all who once rejected Him welcome Him and His beneficent power, as will be in the consummation of the age.
How is it with you, dear reader? Whatever engrosses you, whatever interests you, the first and deepest of all questions is, How are you treating Jesus? He is the Lord of glory, the Son of God Who became man to die for you. How do you regard Him? It concerns you now, and for all eternity. He died to save sinners; but the blessing is for those that believe. If you believe not who have heard His name, you are far more guilty than heathen who have not heard. God the Father resents all dishonor done to His beloved Son, and has given all judgment into His hands, because He is Son of man (John 5), to punish all men who despise Him. Is it not then of incalculable moment that you bow to Him Who will be your Judge by-and-by, if you refuse Him now as Savior? Remember that His judgment is eternal. Yet how righteous is it also! For the unbeliever in the gospel is not impenitent only but despises God's grace. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?

1 Peter 1:2

They were “elect,” then, “according to foreknowledge of God [the] Father, in (or by) [the] Spirit's sanctification, unto obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:2).
Israel was the elect people beyond any nation on the earth; but they were elect after quite a different pattern. This clearly appears in Ex. 6:2-4. “And God spoke to Moses, and said to him, I am Jehovah; and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah I was not made known to them. And I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, wherein they sojourned.” The designations as such, were familiar enough previously; but the name was not given by divine authority as a title of relationship to count on, when God first revealed Himself as El-Shaddai to the fathers, next as Jehovah to the sons, of Israel. The true pilgrim fathers were thereby assured of His unfailing protection, weak as they might be, in the midst of the corrupt heathen they were destined to supplant; and the sons were through Moses to know Him as their unchanging Governor who made them a people of possession to Himself through all ages, He that was and is and is to come.
The Christian Jews, believing in Jesus not only Lord and Christ but Son of the living God, as our apostle first confessed Him, were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. So had our Saviour unbosomed Himself in John 17 “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me; and they have kept Thy word....Holy Father, keep them in Thy name which Thou has given to Me that they may be one, even as we are O righteous Father, the world knew Thee not, but I knew Thee; and these knew that Thou didst send Me. And I made known to them Thy name, and will make it known; that the love wherewith thou lovedst Me may be in them, and I in them.” So on the Resurrection-day His message through Mary of Magdala was, “Go to My brethren and say to them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20:17). How immense the advance in the glory and nearness of the relationship revealed!
According to this form and reality of foreknowledge, then, is the Christian chosen. It was and is Christ's in the fullness of personal divine dignity; it became ours by grace through redemption. The name of “our Father that is in heaven” shone early through the Lord's discourses on the mount, as in Matt. 5-7, and in Luke 6 and elsewhere. But it was definitely and fully made our own by the Lord when risen; and thus the Holy Spirit leads our hearts now in joy and in sorrow. It is so that we are entitled distinctively to know Him, as Christ did perfectly. And it was in God's wisdom that the apostle of the circumcision should make it plain to the believing remnant of the Jews, as the apostle Paul did fully to Gentile believers.
Hence the “sanctification” or “holiness” here spoken of took quite another and far deeper shape. The elect people Israel had been set apart to Jehovah in an outward way. Individually and peremptorily they were circumcised in the flesh on the eighth day. Any other peculiar marks were, as the Epistle to the Hebrews declares, “carnal ordinances imposed until a season of reformation.” On the contrary the Christian, whether Jew or Greek, enjoys the Spirit's holiness; he is even born of the Spirit (John 3:6,8), and thus is the sanctification inward to the utmost degree. Accordingly such a one is “a saint” from God's first vital action spiritually in his soul. So Ananias instructed of the Lord goes to Saul, just converted, and at once accosts him as “Brother Saul,” before he was even baptized as he was immediately after; so it is in substance for every one that is begotten by the word of truth. The Spirit's activity is immediate and abiding, the ground of the practical holiness that ensues, which is but partial and relative; whereas what the apostle here introduces is a principle absolute, unfailing, and personal. In practice alas we must confess, with the Epistle of James, that “we all often offend.” Only unspiritual men flatter themselves otherwise. We too frequently need the active care of the blessed Advocate Whom we have with the Father (1 John 2:1).
Practical sanctification is a capital and constant duty for every Christian; and it is urged, as throughout the Bible, expressly in 1 Pet. 1:15-16. But in 1 Pet. 1:2 it is solely sanctification in principle, that is, in the life given by grace rather than in the walk which is bound to manifest it, as all the godly must readily own. “As he who called you is holy, be ye also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.” But so to interpret the Spirit's holiness (or sanctification) here would necessarily dislocate the sentence, and could insinuate nothing but error destructive of truth, even the fundamental truth of the gospel. For what we are taught is that those Christian Jews were chosen, in virtue of the Spirit's sanctification, for obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus: the original spring, the necessary power and process, and the distinct result as a fact. If taken to mean holiness in practice, this would be before coming under the virtue of Christ's blood. In other words the error must follow, that practical holiness is the way to be justified by His blood; which might suit a besotted Romanist, but must be rejected by the least enlightened among Protestants. It denies the gospel of God's grace, and is at issue with all scripture that treats of the matter.
But if we understand the words to mean that the Spirit works in souls when born anew, to set them apart to God in this vital and indelible way, all is clear as well as consistent. For His setting apart is unto obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ. We are thus sanctified, not externally but in the new life imparted, to obey as Christ obeyed and to be sprinkled with His precious blood. So the same Saul of Tarsus immediately, when converted, says, “What shall I do, Lord?” His heart's primary purpose is to obey; as our Lord Himself could say in His unique perfection, “Lo, I am come to do Thy will, O God.” The Christian is bent on the same character of obedience. It is not like a Jew, to obey and thus gain life, as under law; it is obeying out of life already possessed, because he believes on Jesus.
Even the order, which to some is a difficulty, strictly adheres to the truth. For converted souls in general, perhaps always, have invariably as the instinct of divine life this purpose to obey as Christ obeyed, not legally, in owning God's wondrous grace, before they can or do apprehend at all fully the efficacy of Christ's sacrificial work in blotting out all their sins. The interval may be ever so short where the gospel is distinctly proclaimed; but as this is far from usual, one can see that many a soul truly converted may struggle on for weeks or months or even years, without the comforting assurance that Christ's blood has made them whiter than snow in the eye of God. Saul of Tarsus again supplies an obvious illustration. Was there ever a more notable conversion? Yet was he three days without sight, and did neither eat nor drink: the plain sign of a deep work of self-judgment, in no way of distrust or doubt, before he entered into the settled peace of deliverance by faith of the gospel, which before those days he had only regarded with stern unbelief.
Unquestionably the allusion is to Ex. 24 where Holocaust and Peace-offerings were presented to Jehovah; and Moses took half the blood in basins, and sprinkled half on the altar. Then he read the book of the covenant and the people said, All that Jehovah hath said will we do and obey; and Moses sprinkled the blood on the people, and said, Behold, the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has made with you concerning all these words. The blood here was the special sanction of death, signified by the blood-sprinkling, in case of disobedience. With this ministry of legal condemnation for the sinner the apostle contrasts the Christian, sanctified by the Spirit from his starting-point, to obey as Christ did in filial love, with the immensely blessed addition of His blood-sprinkling, which cleanses from every sin, instead of menacing inevitable death if we fail. If this was the law wherein Jews boasted, that is the gospel of which Peter was ashamed no more than Paul. This resulting obedience, of which our Lord is alike example and power, is (in other words but the truest sense) our practical holiness; and it confirms in the strongest way the refutation, already ample, of the notion that the Spirit's holiness in this scripture imports the same thing. For it would really confuse the sentence and destroy the truth generally.
The fact is that theology in all the schools, Popish or Protestant, Calvinistic or Arminian, has somehow lost, and ignores, this most momentous truth of the Spirit's primary setting apart the renewed soul to God, even before and in order to justification and that obedience which is its inseparable effect. The only person my reading has lit on with any little inkling of its distinctness from the practical holiness which, as all the Reformed at least agree, follows justification, is the excellent and able Abp. Leighton. All others to the best of my knowledge slur over what they did not understand; and this is to say the least.
But I regret to add that none has more impudently tampered with this scripture, to suit his ignorance of it and his desire to uphold mere dogmatic views, than the famous translator and commentator, Beza, or Theodore de Beze. Dean Alford was bold enough sometimes in squeezing the text and its translation through too much confidence in German critics, and his own real desire to be candid, without sufficient knowledge of the truth or subjection to the divine authority of the written word. But even his occasional temerity shines in comparison with Calvin's successor in the college of Geneva. For I ask any competent scholar whether the ill-regulated wit of man could devise a worse or more shameless perversion of our text than his rendering, “ad sanctificationem Spiritus, per obedientiam,” &c. ἐν=ad! είς=per! Were it in Homer or Herodotus, one might smile at lapses so absurd on the part of a learned, able, and zealous Christian. But such a dealing with God's word is atrocious. Yet this flagrant error stands uncorrected in all the five folio editions of his Greek and Latin N.T. from 1559 to 1598.
Had Beza and other theologians been subject to scripture, they would have learned by grace that what the apostle of the circumcision here teaches is implied by the apostle of the uncircumcision in 1 Cor. 6:11, “But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Do men with the fear of God assume to correct the inspiring Spirit? Do they allow themselves the daring unbelief that they can alter the apostle's word, so as to avoid error and sustain their systems of divinity? It is clear that this greatest even of inspired teachers lets the Corinthians and all believers know, that there is a real and most vital sanctification to God which accompanies the first quickening of the soul, when we are born of water and Spirit, and cleansed from our natural impurity by His life-giving power, before we enjoy the blessed sense of God's justifying us through faith in Jesus and His work. The order of Paul therefore is as necessary and as exact as that of Peter, both conveying the same truth, which has dropped out of all the systematic divinity of all ages, as far as I know. The reader can also compare 2 Thess. 2:13. Holiness in practice remains intact, distinct, and imperative, to which justification gives its powerful impulse and cheer.
The Apostle here adds, “Grace unto you and peace be multiplied.” The nearest analogy in O.T. scripture, singular to say, is in Dan. 4:1; though the imperial penitent only says, “Peace be multiplied.” So Peter does yet more fully in the address of his Second Epistle to the same dispersed remnant of Christian Jews. It is characteristic of his fervor. James was content to write, “Greeting.” Paul usually says, “Grace to you and peace” though he almost always adds “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” with “mercy” to an individual. Grace is the source, peace the outflow.

Kingdom of God: 6

After recording the baptism of our blessed Lord, the evangelist tell us that Jesus, having, “heard that John was cast into prison, departed into Galilee, and leaving Nazareth, came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people which sat in darkness saw great light: and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:12-17).
There is enough in the quotation here from Isa. 9 to remind any one of the kingdom to which Christ was born the heir; the well-known passage, “unto us a child is born,” &c., being closely connected with the verses here quoted. It was the announcement to Israel that with Him, Immanuel, they had now to do. Still, in the imprisonment of His forerunner there was a dark intimation of Israel's unpreparedness to receive Him; and accordingly He (not unwittingly, as it may be John had done, but in full intelligence of the meaning of the words) calls on them to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Not simply the kingdom of David's royal Son seated on David's throne, but the kingdom of the heavens: the sovereignty of that same blessed Person in the form it was to take, consequent on His rejection by Israel, and exercised first after its present mode, while He Himself, rejected by the earth, is exalted to the right hand of power in heaven, and then by-and-by exercised openly over all the earth, but even then with a heavenly character and heavenly associations not naturally belonging to the kingdom of the Son of David. It is a kingdom, too, which has to be preached; instead of being at once set up in power, it is proclaimed by preaching.
Still, the preaching of the kingdom was accompanied by every demonstration of power. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23). The result was, that His fame went throughout all Syria, and there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee and Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.
In the presence of the multitudes thus attracted to Him by His preaching and the fame of His miracles, He addresses to His disciples the sermon on the mount. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven “; and again, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” would apply equally to those who shall enter into and inherit the kingdom in manifestation (see Zeph. 3:12; Isa. 66:2, also 5, with the rest of the chapter), and those who are true members of it now that it exists in mystery. “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth,” would only apply to the former class. Verses 19, 20 (of Matt. 5) show what the righteousness is that entitles to either. They do not show us how the righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees is to be obtained, but they declare such a righteousness indispensable for those who would enter the kingdom. In chap. 6:10 the disciples are instructed to pray for the coming of God's kingdom; and in verse 33, to seek it in preference to all else. Chapter 7:21 distinguishes between profession and reality, and declares that to say, Lord, Lord, is not enough.
The whole discourse is a most solemn exhibition of the righteousness requisite for any to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The law of Moses described the righteousness which entitled to the land of Canaan; the sermon on the mount bears the same relation to the kingdom of heaven. Of course, it is in Christ only that either righteousness has been accomplished; and the righteousness He has accomplished in Himself is the gift of grace to poor sinners; we have no righteousness whatever to plead. Such will the poor afflicted remnant of Israel acknowledge themselves to be by-and-by, and they will enter into the kingdom, as it shall exist, in open manifestation; the righteousness of Him who died for them, that the whole nation should not perish, being their title thus to enter. Meanwhile, individuals have been taught by grace to see in themselves the entire contrast to all that the sermon on the mount presents, and have found in Christ the righteousness without which none can enter, even while the kingdom is in mystery; that is to say, viewing the kingdom as it consists of those who really know and own the supremacy of Jesus, and call Him Lord by the Holy Ghost.
In chapter 8:11 the faith of the centurion, commended by Jesus as greater than any He had found in Israel, draws from His lips the announcement “that many [such as he] shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This must have been a solemn and startling announcement to Jewish ears. It distinctly foretells the admission of Gentiles to the privileges of the kingdom, while the natural heirs are excluded. And while this passage evidently refers to the yet future millennial kingdom (there being a place in it for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), we have to bear in mind that the kingdom has its heavenly as well as its earthly department. Of this we find scarcely anything in the Old Testament; and it was, in fact, the rejection of Christ by Israel that made way for the development of this purpose of God. It is now, while the kingdom of heaven exists in mystery, that these Gentile strangers are being brought from the east and from the west. But by-and-by, when the great purpose of God is accomplished, and all things both in heaven and earth are gathered together in one, even in Christ, these strangers will be seen sitting down with the patriarchs in the heavenly department of that glorious kingdom; while Israel, pardoned and restored, shall, with the spared nations, occupy the earth. The children of the kingdom who are cast out are, of course, those generations of Israel who have lived during the whole period of their rejection of Jesus.
In chapter 9:35 we find Jesus still continuing His blessed labor of preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. In chapter 10 He associates the twelve apostles with Himself in this work, charging them to go not into the way of the Gentiles, or any city of the Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. “And, as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (verse 7). But while this ministry of grace is thus continued, and even extended, the twelve are distinctly forewarned that they need not expect their testimony to be received. Fearful was to be the responsibility of the rejecters. It was to be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for them. Still, the apostles were to calculate on rejection. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord” (verses 24, 25).
It was to be their comfort amid all this, that whosoever confessed Jesus before men should be confessed by Him before His Father in heaven. “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (verses 39, 40). For none such were to lose their reward.
(continued from p. 25) (To be continued, D.V.)

The Mystery and the Covenants: 3

God, by Isaiah, had predicted that upon the land of His people should come up thorns and briers, because all should be desolate until the Spirit be poured on them from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Christians may perhaps apply the spirit of this passage to the Pentecostal effusion; and for an indisputable application of a similar prophecy they may appeal to the authority of the apostle Peter in Acts 2. But it will hardly be disputed by the readers of these remarks that both predictions are to have a far more minute and complete fulfillment, when judgment shall fall on the Gentiles, and the divine favor, no longer veiled from the seed of Abraham, after long hours of thick darkness, shall shine out; when God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, accompanied by literal wonders in the heavens and on the earth, and a mighty deliverance in Mount Zion and Jerusalem.
So, from Ezek. 36, it is plain that when Israel are thus sprinkled with clean water and have God's Spirit put within them, they shall dwell in their land, the increase of their fields shall be multiplied, the waste cities shall be filled with men, the land that was desolate shall become like the garden of Eden, and the heathen, or Gentiles, shall know that their God is Jehovah when He is sanctified in Israel before their eyes. Evidently here are blessings which were not given at Pentecost nor since. But the apostle cites the prophet Joel, to vindicate the wonderful effects of the presence of the Spirit from. Jewish cavil, proving that such an outpouring was no more than God had promised should come to pass in the last days.
On the other hand, there were blessings at Pentecost which will not characterize the future millennial outpouring of the Spirit, as there were other dealings common to His working in men's souls since the fall, such as producing repentance and faith. For instance, it is nowhere said in the scripture that the Holy Ghost will, in the new age, baptize Jew and Gentile into one body. The Jews are to enjoy the most marked supremacy. “And many nations shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For the law shall go forth out of Zion, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem In that day, saith Jehovah, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; and I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and Jehovah shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even forever. And thou, O tower of the flock, the hill [Ophel] of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, yea the first dominion shall come, the kingdom to the daughter of Jerusalem” (Mic. 4:2, 6-8).
“Yea, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek Jehovah of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:22, 23).
The Psalms like the prophets abundantly show that the distinctions of Jew and Gentile, which have no place in the intermediate period (or church parenthesis), are to be renewed and owned of God once more here below. Now in the church they do not exist, because the church, though on earth during the process of its formation, is characteristically a heavenly body. So that the church of God, for such is the scriptural equivalent of the body of Christ, is not the common title of all saints from the commencement to the close of time, but the title proper to that special corporation begun at Pentecost, still perpetuated by the Holy Ghost Who was promised to abide with us forever, and completed at the coming of the Lord, when also all other saints who have slept in Christ shall arise, bearing the image of the Heavenly Man.
For I see no reason to doubt that the Old Testament saints will be made perfect when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air; but this in no way interferes with what was said immediately before, that God has provided some better thing for us (Heb. 11). It certainly does not exclude a difference of glory between us and them. Again, that we shall sit down (Matt. 8) with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven is certain, but by no means inconsistent with the place of the church as the body and bride of Christ. For what is to hinder our enjoying other spheres of glory beside these which are specially our own? Retrospectively, as to our earthly course, it has been so. Heb. 11 descants on the faith, deeds, and sufferings of other saints, in days before ours, who were pilgrims and strangers on the earth; and Rom. 11 shows that we follow Israel, even as Israel again will follow us, as branches of the olive tree and the depository of God's witness and promises here below.
Again, the blessings of the new covenant the church enjoys, because we are one with Him Who is the Mediator, and the cup which He gave us to drink in remembrance of Him is the new covenant in His blood. Millennial Israel will enjoy the new covenant in a still plainer and more literal way; but proper heavenly glory with Christ is not reserved even for converted Israel in that day. To the church alone is Christ head over all things. It is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. Thus all these privileges and responsibilities are clearly distinct from the place which, I fully believe, pertains emphatically to the saints now being called out of Jews and Gentiles—that of being baptized by one Spirit into one body, the body of Christ, as Eph. and Col. clearly prove.
Without doubt it does seem to evince an inadequate apprehension of the glorious person of Christ, to see nothing in Him more or higher than the mediation of the new covenant, and the accomplishment of promises, let them be ever so exalted. It is to leave out, not only what is supremely adorable in Him, but also that which is most precious in His grace toward the church. The entire Gospel of John, for instance, though doubtless recognizing the various positions which He deigned to occupy, is devoted as a whole to the exhibition of what was infinitely greater, His personal dignity. So the Epistles of Paul (although, wherever the occasion required it, they vindicate the promises and covenants given to Abraham from the exclusively Israelitish limitation to which some in his day would have restricted them) dwell as their main topic upon those treasures of grace in God's special dealings with the church, which are far above and beyond the patriarchal covenant or promises, while, at the same time, the church or Christian enjoys privileges in virtue of these Does this disparage Israel, or push from his place their great forefather Abraham, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came? The answer is, that the church wears as her badge, “Henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we had known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.” Our connection is with a Christ Who died for us and rose again. We are one with Christ in heaven. On earth, in the days of His flesh, Christ must have said, and did say, Go not into the way of the Gentiles. “But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who were aforetime far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” It is the accomplishment of no promise spoken to Abraham to make in Christ of Jews and Gentiles one new man, and reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross. One doubts not that God promised it before the world began (Eph. 3:6. II; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2); but nothing of the sort was revealed in the Abrahamic promises, covenant or oath, which expressed no more than blessings here below.
The proper privileges of the church are rather the contrast, “in heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3), though all, heavenly and earthly, be secured in Christ, around Whom all the divine counsels revolve. So also it is clear that Christ, and not the oath to Abraham, is the channel of salvation. And if Christ were, as He surely was, the Seed, the true Isaac, He is very much more. What shadows are there, what typical personages, whose rays do not converge on Him, from Whom they derived all their brightness? It was a place He condescended to take, and not that which was His immediately and intrinsically. Even as regards the church it is the same: we are Abraham's seed as the consequence of being Christ's. “If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). To be the seed of Abraham is a privilege of a far lower order than those elsewhere disclosed (e.g. in the Epistle to the Ephesians) as characteristic of the church.
All agree that the finished work of redemption was the ground of still clearer testimony from the Holy Ghost. See Heb. 10. Yet let us not be mistaken. The work of Christ is finished for millennial Israel as much as for the church of the firstborn. But there is a vast difference indeed between their positions, though it be the same Jesus Who died for both, and the same Spirit Who appropriates the result of His death to each. Israel, like the church, will be born of the Spirit, and yet one is for God's glory on earth, as the other is for His glory in heaven. The sovereign hand of God has so ordered; and who shall say Him, Nay?
These considerations sufficiently prove the fallacy of the notion that the accomplishment of Christ's work was the hidden part of the mystery referred to in Eph. 3, although that was clearly necessary as a preparation for it. The truth is, as we have seen, that “the mystery of Christ” was unrevealed, not partially but as a whole, till the Spirit was sent down from heaven by the risen and ascended Lord; and this, not merely to render an inward witness more clear and vivid than heretofore, but to be the vicar of Christ, the ever-abiding Paraclete (John 14:16). To confound Him with the “strong consolation” of Heb. 6 is virtually, though not intentionally, to reduce the person of the Holy Ghost to the effect which He produces. The other Advocate is quite distinct from the consolation which He administers through enabling us to lay hold on the hope which entereth into that within the veil. And as Heb. 6 is referred to, it may be added, that the context is assuredly decisive, not only that the promise and the oath are distinguished by the Holy Ghost, but that they are the two immutable things whereon the “strong consolation “is based.” For when God made promise.... He sware... Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it (or interposed) by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie,” &c. Nor can I conceive with what propriety God Himself, the pledger, could be called an immutable thing, in which it was impossible for God to lie; while the phrase is perfectly applicable to the promise and the oath.
Lastly, the admission of the Gentiles to certain dispensational privileges (Rom. 11) is most plain. But it likewise is so large and important a subject, that I must reserve it, if the Lord will, for a more extended inquiry than can be given at present. (Concluded from p. 28)

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Ezekiel

WE have traced the distinctive character of Jeremiah as compared with Isaiah, and the special design by each. Ezekiel (= strengthened of God), who was a priest like Jeremiah, has his characteristic differences. Here rationalism seems less irreverent. As Christ is not so openly predicted, they are more indifferent to question and deny the truth. If the orthodox were decided in confessing the millennial city and sanctuary in his concluding chapters, we should hear of their opposition and vapid theories to get rid of divine truths. For Christendom it is all ideal enough; and the neocritics can leave the visions of their coming glory undisturbed. Real and pronounced faith in others would soon awaken their enmity. But alas! when the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?
Now as Jeremiah prophesied long after Isaiah in the closing throes of the expiring monarchy of Judah, his mournful mission and messages from Jehovah lay up to the last in the land, till he was carried away by the unbelieving leaders of the remnant into Egypt. But Ezekiel was carried into captivity with Jehoiachin by Nebuchadnezzar, and given his place with others at Tel-Abib on the river Chebar. It was in the “thirtieth year” (he does not say of what epoch, but it would seem of Nabopolassar's era), the fifth of the Jewish king's captivity, that he saw the vision of ch. 1. It was the throne of the Lord Jehovah in unsparing majesty seen in Chaldea and judging Jerusalem and His sanctuary there. What a solemn change, not reigning, but vengeance on His house and city.
Here there appeared four living creatures, as a stormy wind issuing from the north, with cloud and a fire infolding itself, out of which indeed they came each with four faces and four wings, running and returning like lightning. But their four wheels too he beheld on the earth, and wheel within a wheel, with rims full of eyes, and the spirit of the living creatures in the four wheels. Overhead was the likeness of an expanse “as the look of the terrible crystal,” and above the expanse the likeness of a throne as of sapphire, and as it were a man above upon it. As the appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire, as the appearance of torches, so the man's likeness was as the look of glowing brass, as the appearance of fire within round about, and from the loins and downward the appearance of fire. It was at this time the suited display of Jehovah's glory, but in punitive judgment of Israel.
How strikingly different from the holy scene of the Lord in the temple, where Isaiah saw His glory with winged seraphim in attendance, and one touched the Seer's lips with a coal from the altar, that he might tell the people (who seemed so prospering in religion and all else) of the judicial darkness about to befall them and the desolation to follow, though a remnant should be spared for the unfailing purpose of Jehovah. How different from both the call of Jeremiah, with its lowly symbols, yet hallowed before his birth to be a prophet to the nations, to pluck up and to break down, and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. He too learned that out of the north should evil break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. Feeble and sensitive as he was, Jeremiah was to speak all Jehovah should command him; he was in their midst and tasted sorrows out of a full cup. Ezekiel is away from the land, which the divine glory visits judicially by Nebuchadnezzar. He, and not Jeremiah or Isaiah, is regularly called “Son of man” as Daniel but once. Hence it is not a dealing with conscience as with Jeremiah to restore; Ezekiel was to be dumb, and only to pronounce Jehovah's sentence. Yet is it constantly to Israel, or “the house of Israel,” or the like, he refers, when as a prophet His mouth is opened to vindicate Jehovah's casting them off. They were more hardened than the heathen who knew not God; and he had to speak whether they heard or forbore.
Chaps. 1 to 7 comprise the first division, the judgment that was sent on Jehovah's people. The next comprehends from 8 to 19 though with a subdivision at the end of chap. 11. The prophet was carried to Jerusalem in the Spirit that he might behold the abominations of all the remnant there, and especially in His house, which His glory visits in judgment. The city is also entirely given up, as well as the sanctuary. The last prince should go captive to Babylon, but should not see it, yet there die (chap. 7). Think of any but a profane scoffer here denying true prediction! It was not only in great events, but in a minute point like this, which seemed an enigma till the event made it as impressive as plain. And who were guilty? Not the king only, but the prophets, and the people down to the women in their petty ways (8). So were the elders, though they came and sat before Ezekiel (14). Famine, &c. must come to cut off man and beast; in such a crisis not even Noah, Daniel, and Job could deliver any but their own souls. The vine (15), being fruitless, was good only for fuel; such the doom for the capital. Jerusalem's father was Amorite and mother Hittite; Jehovah's love to win her she rejected; worse was she than Sodom and Samaria; yet would He establish His covenant with her forever (16). After a parable it is shown in 17 how Jerusalem's king despised Jehovah's oath and broke the covenant to utter ruin; but grace in the end is to Jehovah's praise. And chap. 18 declares that they need not complain of the old ground of national judgment: they would be dealt with each according to his works. This portion closes with a lamentation over the total ruin of the last princes of Israel in chap. 19
The third part goes hence to the end of chap. 23. Here Israel is again prominent, and sin from the beginning, and that, idolatry; but in the end He will purge out the rebels and work for His own name. It is Israel contrasted here with Judah's lot. A fresh threat comes from ver. 45 to the end; and 21 declares Jehovah's sword unsheathed against Jerusalem and the land of Israel because of the profane and wicked prince (Zedekiah) till He come Whose right is the crown: an allusion, we may presume, invisible to unbelieving eyes. Ammon shares the judgment (21). The prophet is to judge the bloody and unclean Jerusalem (22); and the fresh parable of Oholah and Oholibah enforces it in 23.
Chap. 24 is the utter rejection of Jerusalem; which the prophet is not to mourn; another contrast with Jeremiah who was unmarried; and as a sign, Ezekiel loses suddenly his wife whom he was forbidden to lament. It was in the ninth year of the captivity, as chaps. 1-7 pertained to the fifth year, 8-19 to the sixth, and 20-23 to the seventh. Chap. 24 leads to 25-32, which take up the nations around or within the land dealt with by the Lord Jehovah, but no longer in chronological order like the first half of the book: a fact instructive for other books, inasmuch as the neo-critics do not dispute our prophet's hand. The arrangement is due to no disturbing cause, but to God's design above man's thought (or want of thought) and care. Like Jerusalem, Ammon, Moab, Edom, and the Philistine shall know that He is Jehovah. So (26) shall Tire and her towns. This is pursued with wide and accurate minuteness as to its commerce in chap. 27, and in 28 for the prince and the king of Tire, with veiled reference to Satan's fall, the great world-ruler. The chapter goes on to Sidon's judgment, and closes with the assured restoration of Israel. The three chapters following contain Egypt's judgment under Nebuchadnezzar who had put down the rest.
Chap. 33 opens a new series by proclaiming individual responsibility henceforth, instead of national solidarity with their ancestors' guilt as in chap. 18. Chap. 34 gives their chiefs judged; and 35 Edom once more. But 36 is the work of grace inward and self-judging in Israel; as 37 is the nation resuscitated and united under the true David; ending with 38-39 the judgment of Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal (all the Russians), who attacks Israel when peaceful in the land, and perishes with all the nations which fight under that banner. This done, the Solomon type will be fulfilled Chaps. 40-48, the concluding series, furnish the grand picture of that day. In the visions of God Ezekiel is set on a very high mountain, on or by which was a city. But the primary object is the temple with its many chambers, into which comes the glory of Jehovah, the God of Israel. Therein the sons of Zadok shall minister to Him with burnt, sin, and peace offerings, as we find later the guilt and the meal offerings. A prince too of David's house represents Messiah (44.), with a portion for priests and prince. The first of the month and the last of the week are remembered; the Passover and the Tabernacles, but no Pentecost, no Atonement-day, no Red Heifer. Chap. 47 presents the beautiful sight of waters issuing from under the threshold of the house, which soon rise into a river that could not be waded through; a river of healing where death reigned, only with an exception to show that it is not yet the new heaven and new earth absolutely and eternally. It is the kingdom that precedes; and the division of the land for the twelve tribes is such as never has been more than any other part of this vision. And the name of the city from that day shall be Jehovah Shammah (Jehovah [is] there). The originality of Ezekiel, in God's special design, starts from Israel given up and judged of old, passing clean over the four Gentile empires or world-powers, till Jehovah takes up Israel (when this age ends) for His grand and unfailing purpose of blessing on all the earth. It is in no way typical of the church of God destined to heavenly glory.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Cleansing in the 12th and 18th Year; Heaven; Strangled and Blood; Deliverance

Q.-2 Kings 22 Chron. 34. How are we to reconcile the cleansing in the 12th year and in the 18th year? H.
A.-Both are true; and both speak of the cleansing which in Josiah's eighteenth year followed the discovery of the book of the law in the house of Jehovah. But 2 Chronicles alone adds the account of his earlier seeking after God ten years before, in the eighth year of his reign and the twelfth beginning to purge.
Q.-1 Chron. 21:6. What explains the apparent discrepancy between this and chap. 27:24?
II.
A.-There is no discrepancy. One text says, that Joab did not count among those that were counted Levi and Benjamin; the other adds the particular, that though he began to number, he finished not, and divine displeasure fell for it upon Israel; and the number was not put in the account of the chronicles of King David. All is harmonious; but the second is a fuller explanation.
Q.-Does Psa. 91:11, quoted by Satan, refer at all to the Lord? or are there not three parties implied in it? W.
A.-The godly one that relies on Jehovah in ver. 2, Who will surely deliver Messiah as in vers. 3-13, and is answered in vers. 14-16 by Jehovah.
Q.-Luke 15:18, 21. Why “heaven”? It is well known that the Chinese identify God and heaven, and worship heaven as a true deity? H.
A.-Heaven being Jehovah's throne, as earth His footstool, we can understand readily how that highest region of divine glory is associated with every thought of purity, love, and worship. But there is no identification with God. On the contrary, after naming heaven as the unsullied seat of His honor, in contrast with this wholly defiled earth of man's will and sin and lusts, the prodigal distinguishes “thee,” “Father.” Compare 2 Chron. 32:20, Dan. 4:26, Matt. 21:25 and Mark 11:30, 31, Luke 20:4, 5, John 3:27, &c.
Q.-Acts 15:20, 29. Are not “strangled” and “blood” separate prohibitions? and both distinct from “pollutions of idols”? But why is “fornication” joined with things so different? W.
A.-Meyer's view that the phrase, “the pollutions,” refers to the four particulars which follow seems to me untenable. The reason on which he argues (the absence of ἀπὸ before τ. π. has no force); for ἀπὸ is unnecessary any where after ἀπέχεσθαι, and is a doubtful insertion where some ancient MSS. give it. But there ought to be no question that “blood” means what is drawn out expressly from the animal for culinary use, and thus manifestly distinct from “strangled” where the purpose is to keep in the blood from flowing. Both are forbidden; for God demands that man shall by abstaining own that life belongs to Him. If any be so self-willed as to plead that they do not see or understand, let them own their ignorance and obey. It is not a Jewish or Mosaic statute only, but for man since Noah and the deluge (Gen. 9:4). “Things offered to idols,” though classed here like “fornication,” with the other two, as things which the heathen counted indifferent, are forbidden as evils unworthy of Christians (one might add, of men) apart from the law, which the Pharisaic party in the church strove in vain to impose on Gentile believers. But the decrees in no way meant to weaken the immorality of fornication, any more than the insult or indifference to the one true God in eating knowingly of pollutions of idols. The apostles were content here to determine, that none of these things is an open question to Gentile converts, but that, if they abstain from all these necessary things, they will do well.
Q.-Gal. 3:20: what is meant by “the mediator is not of one, but God is one”? D.
A.-It is the principle of the law on the one hand, and of promise on the other; which the apostle contrasts, in order to deliver the Galatians or any other souls from the dangerous error of mingling them together, as unbelief is prone to do. The legal mediator is intended, Moses, not Christ; and that office implies two parties: God demanding right, and sinful man wholly unable to render it. The law therefore cannot but be for sinners a ministry of death and condemnation, as we are told in 2 Cor. 3. It is wholly different with promise; for this rests on the sole and unfailing fidelity of God Who cannot lie. As God is the only party to promise in His sovereign and unconditional grace, all He promises comes to fruition. “God is one"; whereas under law man, being under obligation to perform and failing through sin, all his hopes thus come to nothing. God on the contrary accomplishes all in and by Christ, and hence to faith. And as in Him is the Yea, so through Him also is the Amen (2 Cor. 1).
Q.-Gal. 5:17, 25. Is “deliverance” all? Are we not after that to walk in the Spirit? W.
A.-Assuredly: to question it would be antinomianism, or systematic unholiness. We are called to walk in the Spirit by the faith of Christ, in confidence of His care, in habitual self-judgment, and in obedience of the word.
Q.-Have we any scriptural example for calling days of the week after the heathen usage? E.
A.-The only N. T. change from the Jewish “first of the week” is the Lord's day in Rev. 1:10. There is no example, we may presume, of the Gentile Sunday, Monday, &c. How could there be? “Easter” in Acts 12:4 should be “the Passover.”

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Isaac: 16. The Meeting and the Marriage

Gen. 24:61-67
How can one be surprised that the Holy Spirit dwells on circumstances such as those we have considered, if they prefigured the call of the bride the Lamb's wife? It is ever and justly a matter of the utmost spiritual interest for all but the thoughtless. What could this be to God if meant to typify the consummation of His Son's love to the church? What of wonder, love, and joy did He not intend for us who read it in the communion with His mind and His grace which faith gives to those so directly and deeply concerned? Here it is pursued to the close.
“And Rebecca arose, and her maids, and they rode upon the camels and followed the man; and the servant took Rebekah and went away. And Isaac had just come from Beer-la-hai-roi; for he was dwelling in the south country. And Isaac had gone out to meditate in the field, toward the beginning of evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and, behold, camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes and saw Isaac, and she lighted off the camel. And she said to the servant, Who [is] the man that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant said, That is my master; and she took the veil and covered herself.
New Series. Vol. 3 No. 4. April, 1900. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. And Isaac led her into his mother Sarah's tent; and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted after his mother ['s death]” (vers. 61-67).
Rebekah thus far answers more clearly than any other in scripture to the requisite type of the church; as Isaac we have seen to set forth in parable (according to the Epistle of the Heb. 11:19) the Son risen from the dead, as the Head of the church is and must be. This last section of the chapter carries out the analogy no less than all the rest. Her decision was simple and true. As the servant urged immediateness of departure, so, notwithstanding every otherwise strong tie of natural affection, the bride was no less unhesitating: “I will go.” There was a most unusual distance that separated, a long journey to be undertaken, dangers of many kinds to be faced, deserts to be crossed; and she was a young maiden under the guidance of one entirely new to her, with no face familiar along the road but of her damsels.
“And Rebekah arose, and her maids, and they rode upon the camels and followed the man; and the servant took Rebekah and went away.” What simple faith, and confidence in love, and hope abounding in her breast! There is no such combination of becoming affections' in any bride that one could name among the many we read of in the entire O.T. circle. Dependence on her conductor along the dreary way was what sustained her heart, looking on to him who was about to bring her into the enjoyment of the most endearing of all relationships. What ample and reliable reports the wise and trusty servant, we may and must assume, told her to wean her mind from looking back on her old home and fill her with worthy expectations of such a father and such a son as awaited her!
It is just so that the Holy Spirit deigns to form our renewed souls with the love of Christ, the grace of His life and His death, the glory that was His eternally as a divine Person, and His present exaltation as the risen Man and Head to the church over all things, His coming manifestation in glory when He will make good His title and subject all things even to Him, having abolished all rule and all authority and power, but never changing in that purpose or the nearness of love He has for His bride.
“And Isaac had just come from Beer-la-hai-roi; for he was dwelling in the south country,” the Negeb. It was Canaan, but that southern district of it which borders on the adjacent wilderness. There he went out to meditate in the field at the eventide. One cannot doubt what occupied the thoughts of that gentle, calm, contemplative spirit. “And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and, behold, camels were coming.”
But another also was quick to perceive as they neared the land of promise. For “Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. And she said (or, had said) to the servant, Who is this man that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant said, That is my master; and she took the veil and covered herself.”
Yes, the Bridegroom is coming! and the Spirit crying, Come ye forth to meet Him. It is good to work for Him; it is better far to wait for Him; nor is there any more needed guard or more precious guide and spring for us in the Spirit for our work than this blessed hope. We require it in a world of seduction on one side, and of destruction on the other, for purifying ourselves as He is pure; we require it even with consecrated and heavenly affection, however truly we believe on Him and His love, and ourselves love Him. Nothing can make up for this hope if it be lacking or even feeble. “I am jealous over you,” said the apostle “with a jealousy of God; for I espoused you to one husband that I might present you a chaste virgin to Christ.”
Rebekah covered herself with her veil; and the instinct should be sure to be for Him only. Thus shall all else be the truer and holier. And our Bridegroom has no such need to hear like Isaac what the servant had to tell; yet He in the communion of the Holy Spirit, one doubts not, takes all interest in her whom He loved as His own for heaven. He had His sorrows over the present death of Israel; but He even had hope in her end, if it be not rather her real beginning. But He loved the church, for which He gave Himself and will present her to Himself glorious.

Priesthood: 9. Failing and Judged

The Priesthood Failing and Judged. Lev. 10:1-3
Here we have a signal crisis in Israel, the utter ruin of the priesthood before God, however much and long He might bear with them in His long-suffering; as in Ex. 32 is seen the ruin of the people with even Aaron at their head.
It is alas! The humbling tale of man failing everywhere and from the first. So it was with Adam and Eve in the paradise of Eden when all around was good, and they themselves innocent. But the serpent tempted through the weaker vessel, and both fell through unbelief of God and His word. So, though in another way of shame, broke down Noah, after the mercy shown to him and his in the deluge. The governor in the earth renewed under sacrifice failed to govern himself, object of pitiful shame to some, but of scorn to others—his own near kin shameless and dastardly. Need one point out the blots on the fathers, or the sons of Israel? Cannot all see in the light of scripture the mournful dereliction of the kings, not only of and from the first but of the most honored, David and Solomon? And if divine patience forbore till “there was no remedy,” and world-power, on their ceasing for the time to be God's people, was given to the Gentiles, what became of the golden head, of the silver breast, of the brazen middle, and of the iron legs with the feet of iron and clay? Were they not all morally viewed as “four great beasts"? as empires lacking intelligence of God, and dependence on Him?
The Second man is the blessed contrast of them all and in every respect. He Who is both Son of man and Ancient of days, as Rev. 1 proves, will surely have dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages shall serve Him as no world-ruler ever made his own, and this an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away. Him too will Jehovah set as His king on His holy hill of Zion, great David's greater Son who played Jehovah false in naught small or great, and will judge uprightly but cut off all the horns of the wicked when the horns of the righteous are lifted up. He also shall build the temple of Jehovah, and be a priest upon His throne, with counsel of peace between Them both. The government shall be upon His shoulder Who had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. For indeed unlike Adam that sinned, He had proved Himself altogether victor over the Serpent in the wilderness when without food for forty days, before He began His public service, and closed it holy, guileless, undefiled, not to swerve however He might suffer (as He did to the uttermost) under God's judgment of our sins on the cross unto God's glory, the perfect manifestation and deepest issue of divine love to us, lost as we were heretofore.
Let us turn from the adorable Lord to the priests just consecrated.
“And the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, took each of them his censer, and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and presented strange fire before Jehovah, which he had not commanded them. And there went out fire from before Jehovah, and devoured them, and they died before Jehovah. And Moses said to Aaron, This [is] what Jehovah spoke, saying, I will be hallowed in those that come near me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron was silent” (vers. 1-3).
Grace had wrought wondrously through righteousness just before. No token could match what was given in Jehovah's acceptance of the sacrifice. It was not only that the glory of Jehovah appeared to all the people. There came forth fire from before Jehovah, and consumed upon the altar the Burnt-offering and the fat; and when all saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. Who should have appreciated this so signal mark of Jehovah's grace? The priests above all. They were the very men who even at such a time betrayed the unbelief and ingratitude of their hearts. The elder sons of Aaron took each of them his censer, and put fire therein and laid incense thereon, “which He had not commanded.” Oh, what contempt of fire from Himself! It was insulting to the divinely given supply and to the sacrifice it consumed. Strange fire, the ordinary fire of nature, was good enough for the incense in the sanctuary! It was heedless profanity, and heartless indifference to Jehovah's favor and glory.
Cain was the leader in that evil “way” against which Jude warns solemnly, as a woe that concerns Christendom. But he was in nature. The priests were not so much here in law as in grace, for such was sacrifice at least typically; and the circumstances were beyond measure awe-inspiring. But Nadab and Abihu turned their back on the Burnt-offering which the fire from Jehovah was consuming, and presumed to burn incense separated from the provision Jehovah had just given, from the sacrifice which gives man his only acceptance atoningly. If the priest's lips should keep knowledge, how much more should he draw near with reverence and fear! And this the beginning and bearing of the priests toward Jehovah! But Israel's God, and our God, is a consuming fire. “There went out fire from before Jehovah, and devoured them, and they died before Jehovah.” Their judgment was immediate and final; all the more awful, because it was in presence of His grace reigning through righteousness in the sign before all the people.
Grace was never meant to dispense with holiness, but to produce and nourish it. So we read in Titus 2:11, 12; and again our very chastening under His fatherly hands is declared in Heb. 12:10 to be for profit, in order to the partaking of His holiness. Without faith in Christ and His suffering work for our sins, all is vain; but with it we are exhorted to pursue peace with all, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord. It could not, ought not, to be otherwise.
“And Moses said to Aaron, This is what Jehovah spoke, saying, I will be hallowed in those that come near me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” If it be in His saving grace instructing and forming us in practical righteousness, it must be in judgment; and judgment will not be less terrible, because it may be hidden for the present. “Of some men the sins are manifest beforehand, going before to judgment; and some also they follow after.” In Israel, as an earthly people under Jehovah's public government, it was consistent to impress priests and people alike with a sense of Him with Whom they each had to do. God in no case can be a consenting party to His own dishonor. So we see at the beginning of the church's history in Acts 5.
Here in Israel “Aaron was silent.” So, we may perhaps say, was the Advocate with the Father, when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit, and the indignant apostle was led of Him to pronounce sentence of death on the spot. Nor was it otherwise, though not so conspicuously at Corinth when many among the saints were weak and infirm, and not a few falling asleep. For there is sin unto death; and we too in this case are not to pray for life. We need spiritual discernment for such a thing.

Proverbs 8:32-36

The chapter concludes with a fatherly application to impress the blessedness of wisdom's ways on the young, but from Jehovah.
“And now, sons, hearken to me; and blessed are [those that] keep my ways: hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed [is] the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of Jehovah. But he that sinneth against (or, misseth) me doeth violence to his own soul: all that hate me love death” (vers. 32-36).
When He Who was afterward to become flesh and dwell among us was brought (so distinctly for the O.T.) before the hearer of the written word, we can understand that His grace makes itself deeply felt and calls special heed to communications meant to deal with the inner man. They rise far above ordinary obligation; they are not clothed with the thunder and lightning of Sinai, nor do they consist of typical pictures which illustrated the provision of divine mercy, when men failed and would own their sins suitably, the shadows of the good things to come. A divine personality (the daily delight to Jehovah, whose delights were with the sons of men, who calls Himself, though set up from eternity, wisdom dwelling with prudence) appeals peculiarly to heart and conscience. For who does not feel the need of such guidance? Sons of men must be welcome to Him, and He because He is divine must be able to render Himself acceptable to them.
Doubtless the lack of known-forgiveness and of life eternal in the Son of God left much to be desired, which we enjoy through the gospel. But what clearly appears in such a chapter as this was an immense favor; and none need wonder at the exhortation which follows it up, that the “sons” should hearken. But such words, like those of our Lord on the mount, are meant to be done as well as heard. Indeed every one that hears and does them not can only be likened to a foolish man that built his house on the sand: great the fall when it comes; worse than if no house were built.
Here accordingly we are told that “blessed are those that keep my ways.” The glory and grace of Him Who deigns to point out the ways of wisdom act on living faith and make it energetic through love. Where faith is not, all else fails are long. “Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not.” How touchingly wisdom pleads while we only are the gainers! What can we add to divine majesty? The love of God delights in blessing; but blessing cannot be for sinful man but in hearing instruction from Him Who was made to us wisdom from above.
Again we have it applied to the individual. “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” Here we have earnestness day by day and perseverance like a beggar in need that will not be denied, and waits in the face of what would discourage others less importunate. We find in the beginning of Luke 11 the value of prayer on His part Who prayed as none else did, and led a disciple to seek of Him to teach them to pray. But the Spirit of God at the close of Luke 10 makes us know the need of His word antecedently; that we may not trust our own reasonings or imaginations, instead of all resting on the groundwork of divine truth received in faith. Of this the blessed sample is Mary, who also sat at the Lord's feet and heard His word, and reaped endless and deep profit in comparison with her sister, Martha, who, loved of Him and doubtless loving Him, was cumbered with much serving, and hence anxious and troubled about many things. Mary's part is the good one which shall be taken away from none who value it.
“For (on the one hand) whoso findeth me findeth life and obtaineth favor of Jehovah.” So the prince of prophets writes: “Wherefore do ye weigh money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently to me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, and your soul shall live.” What better was known than “life” above that of nature through the faith of the divine word, and Jehovah's favor enjoyed also? It was not blessing in the city and in the field, or in the kine and in the flock, in the bucket and in the kneading-trough, nor even in being made the head rather than the tail. O. T. believers knew and possessed by grace the blessing, though far from that fullness which we have now through and in Christ.
On the other hand the way of self will is ruinous for the life that now is, and for that which is to come. It is just the path of sin. “And he that sinneth against me (wisdom) doeth violence to his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” There is not, nor ever was, true living, living to God, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Therefore it is that the just shall live by his faith. For faith comes of hearing, and hearing by the divine word. Outside the path of faith on either side are the ways of death, and many are those who take them in the pursuit of man's thoughts or present objects, of human religion or human irreligion, apart from the true God and Him in Whom He reveals Himself by His word and Spirit.

Gospel Words: the Transfiguration

Matt. 17:1-9
In the midst of His service of humiliation our Lord was for a little transfigured. It was not like Moses whose face shone from his nearness to the divine Presence. Our Lord was with His own here below. A week before He prepared them for seeing the Son of man coming in His kingdom. After it He takes with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brings them up into a high mountain apart. “And His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as the light. And, behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with them.” It is a miniature of His kingdom wherein will be the risen and changed saints with others in their natural bodies, and the Lord the center of all.
Yet it would seem that the divine aim of Moses and Elijah being there was to mark the surpassing glory of the Lord before Whom the chief representative of the law and the most honored of the prophets gave place and vanished away. The personal glory of Jesus is most conspicuous as elsewhere in this Gospel. He is Son of God and Son of man.
Peter counted it a great thing to see His Master with saints so renowned and glorious. “Lord,” said he to Jesus, “It is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, I will make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He made the natural but fatal mistake of equalizing all three. Yet he who had only so short a time before confessed His Master to be not only the Messiah, but the Son of the living God, ought not to have so erred. So easy is it to forget what flesh and blood never truly knows, what is revealed by the Father; just as then too he could not bear to think of His going to Jerusalem, suffering many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and being killed but raised the third day.
Here it was not the withering rebuke of the Lord Who knew that all blessing for man and glory for God, in a ruined world, hung on His rejection. It was the Father's voice out of the excellent glory. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son in Whom I found my delight: hear ye him.” The Father then displayed His jealousy for the honor of His Son. He would not allow the law-giver or the law-restorer to be put on such a level. They were servants and to be honored in the place He set them. But His beloved Son!—there were His delights; and if Christ went down in love infinite to suffer as man, and as man to be exalted, the glory of the eternal Son was precious beyond all thought of man in His Father's eyes.
It is the Son Whom we are to hear. See how the great truth is attested in the Epistle to the Hebrews, both in chap. 1:2, and in chap. 7:25. Equally explicit is John 5:25 for quickening, and in John 10 for every day; and not only for the sheep led out of the Jewish fold but for other sheep, Gentiles, not of this fold. Dear reader, does not this reach to you? If the blessing is immense, what is the loss? And what must be the fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries and the indifferent? For Himself has said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give to them life eternal; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” On the other hand “he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
When the disciples heard the Father's voice, they fell on their faces and were sore afraid. They were far from knowing yet His love; but He, Who brought it in His own person, was at hand to strengthen their hearts. “And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid.” Not less now but more does Jesus cause His word to come home in the power of redemption to those that believe. And the God Who sent Him would fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope in the power of the Holy Spirit. Is it thus with your souls? Can you say that you have heard the voice of Jesus by faith, and that you are “not afraid”? This is His will, not only for the three who then heard, but for all that believe the gospel of God. Perfect love casts out the fear that has torment, and creates the fear of reverence. It is the effort of the enemy to work on the conscious guilt of man that he may distrust the words of Jesus; it is the work of the Spirit from the beginning to efface it all. The entrance of that word dispels darkness before the light of God to the soul, and enables the heart to receive “Be not afraid.”
“Lifting up their eyes, they saw no one save Jesus only.” Visions were always rare; such a vision is unique. But for the heart's comfort, and the right direction of the eye, there is nothing to compare with having Jesus the Son of God to hear. So has God the Father ruled: “hear Him.” And He abides the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever, May we by faith look to “Jesus only.” It is not only at first that the soul may be saved by faith, but for every day and hour after we do believe. For the only right Walk is by faith, and the fight of faith is the only good fight, in which Jesus is the one unfailing Captain. Other fights we may have to our shame, where flesh is not judged, and Satan gains advantage for the moment. To Jesus then may we ever look, to “Jesus only.”

Lord Jesus as Revealed to Faith

John 6
The thoughts of men, even of such as had the word of God in their hands, come out in this chapter in singular and open contrast with the mind of God. “Man at his best estate is altogether vanity.” They wished to make Jesus a king, and this (though certain to be in due time according to the prophets), for their own ease, interests, and honor. He had made bread for them to eat in the wilderness. This they coupled, and rightly, with the promised Son of David in Psa. 132 He in a special way will provide His poor with bread. Literally and fully that day is not yet come: Socialism would antedate it.
But the salient point of this chapter, as of others in the Gospel of John, is to show that men, and even Israel, were in such a condition that no predicted blessing, no royalty even of David's Son, could of itself meet the depth of the evil and ruin. Consequently our Lord Jesus teaches all through, that there was incomparably more needed by man, infinitely more and better in God's love and purpose. It was not only that He was heir of David's throne; He is the Bread of life, which should come down from heaven and give life unto the world. David did not come from heaven; even the Messianic kingdom, to be established on Zion as its center, had nothing directly to do with heaven. But the Bread for man to eat and find life eternal is He that cometh down from heaven, which was in no sense true of David nor transmissible from him. Had our Lord been only the Son of David, He had never been the Giver of life eternal. The Son of David in the truest and fullest sense He is; and so the apostle calls Timothy to remember “that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.” It might not be so according to the manner that others looked at the gospel from another point. But according to Paul's gospel the Son of David must not merely be born and live and die and reign, but must be raised from the dead. And why so? It is because Paul looking at the accomplishment of the promises, the glory attached to the Son of David, pressed more profoundly than any, that the door of death and resurrection would secure even those blessings and set them upon an immutable foundation. Much more, when it is not merely the accomplishment of promise, power, and glory in the kingdom, but God's moral glory and the deliverance of sinners. Then it is the communication of God's grace and truth to the soul, when the saints set apart to God by the power of the Holy Spirit are now brought into the communion of God's nature, love and mind, and made meet, not only for worship and witness of Christ, but for partaking of the inheritance of the saints in light. This is what the soul learns here: a divine Person come down from heaven, and become man that believing man may live (32-50).
Even so, the Lord further declares that not even His incarnation, beyond measure blessed and gracious as it is, could alone have secured all. He came down with life eternal in Him, and giving it to the believer, not of the Jews only but of Gentiles also—life to the world. For he that believeth on Him hath life eternal. But there was another and a most solemn test necessitated by the nature and character of God, as well as by man's total ruin. Therefore it is that He should not only come down from heaven as the bread of life, but give His flesh to be eaten and His blood to be drunk (vers. 51-58). Thus was He not only a divine Savior come down as man here below; but He was going to prove and display His grace even in death. And this is the central truth of the chapter. Therefore does He say, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.”
No matter how men pay other honor to Jesus, it avails not. Set Him on any imaginable throne as the crowd here wished, it is nothing to the purpose, and is rejected by God and His Son. Jesus then as now refuses and spurns a dominion of the sort. If the thing be conceived at all, it must leave Him to be a king without a people. Such was the ruin, such the sin, that He could have no subjects, not even one nation meet subjects for Him. The King must sit upon His throne without a people! But this could not be so. He would die atoningly, Just for unjust. He comes not only to bring the best good, life eternal, unto us, but to efface righteously all our sins. What must become of the evil that we were and had done? He suffered “once” for us (it was enough), and in His sacrificial death He brings us out of our evil and makes us to be the holy and joyful and righteous possessors of everlasting life. All is of His grace.
There is thus no longer a barrier against the outflow of His love. Till His death, there was. He had as He said a baptism to be baptized with; and how He felt it! Till it was accomplished in His reconciling death, He was straitened. Could He show His love as He desired to do? The love was there: nothing in us ever created it in Him or in the God Who sent Him to save us, guilty sinners. Love, grace, filled His heart; but it was shut up and hindered from flowing freely and fully, till sin was judged in His cross. Now by His death (for without this all other obedience however perfect availed not), God was glorified even about sin itself! Only then and thus the love of God in respect of us was fully manifested (1 John 4:9, 10). And we who believe are its objects, and in mutual love, as vers. 11, 12 proceed to show.
The Lord give us to rejoice in such a Savior: not a mere royal Messiah, but an Incarnate and Atoning Savior to God's glory. It is indeed divine love proved in Christ's emptying Himself to become a man and a bond slave; and when thus, humbling Himself and obedient as far as death, yea death of the cross, that we might not only have life eternal in Him but our sins effaced in His death, and thus be raised up at the last day conformed to His glory in body like His own.

1 Peter 1:3

In grand terms from a glowing heart our apostle opens his letter after an address, as we have seen, of admirable suitability. It recalls the initiatory of a still greater apostle and the loftier theme of the Epistle to the Ephesian saints. But it is the deeply defined distinction between the two, notwithstanding this obvious resemblance, which gives the true key to both Epistles. He who fails to apprehend the different scope and the divine propriety of each betrays his own spiritual incapacity, and, if he imposes his ignorance on others, is nothing but so far a blind leader of the blind.
“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ": so begins the letter, to the saints that were in Ephesus. He is the God of the Man, Christ Jesus; He is the Father of Him, His Only-begotten, eternal, and beloved Son. He blessed us accordingly in His sovereign grace as “God,” in His most intimate relationship as “Father.” Every spiritual blessing is conferred; not one fails. It is not natural blessing as on earth to Israel till by transgression they forfeited it. Ours is in the heavenlies where Christ is now glorified at God's right hand; and all is secured in His redemptive power by virtue of Whom all the universe subsists together (Col. 1:17). It is in Christ so as to be unchanging blessedness, in contrast with those who stood on the conditions of the law fatal to the sinful and fruitless.
No such wealth of privilege, no such heavenly elevation, appears in our text; yet does it announce what is equally momentous for the saint and for God's glory. Every other spiritual blessing had been in vain, if God's mercy did not beget us again, as our Epistle declares. There is no blessing more absolutely necessary for a sinner lost and ruined, with the old life depraved by inborn evil, habitual self-will, and incurable alienation from God. Hence the precious assurance of our apostle in words at first strikingly akin to those of the apostle Paul. “Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that according to His abundant mercy begot us again unto a living hope through Jesus Christ's resurrection out of [the] dead” (1 Pet. 1:3): an entirely new and divine life.
It is not as Jehovah for Israel, nor as Almighty God for the fathers. For us Christians God wrought more profoundly for His glory and for those who believe. It was in Christ's redemption in view both of the present and future on earth, and for heaven through all eternity. For He went down under God's judgment of sin, broke the power of sin and death, procured purification for sinners by His blood, and was raised again for the justification of believers. Every saint from the beginning had life in the Son of God: impossible to live to God, as all did, without life in Him. But now the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ wrought in a more triumphant way in Him Who as sin-bearer entered the dark portals of the grave which closed on all others, and so glorified God that He could not but raise Him from among the dead in the virtue of a life which death could no wise touch, so complete that henceforth we belong not to death, but rather death to us. Thus did God as here revealed beget us again through Christ's resurrection out of the dead. None could speak or know it till that mighty witness of redemption. It was not, nor could be true, till Christ was thus raised.
Truly it was “according to God's abundant mercy.” If death has no more dominion over the dead and risen Saviour, the believer receives a commensurate portion even now: so much so that were He to come from heaven for us, we should be changed in a moment into the likeness of the body of His glory. Mortality would be swallowed up of life without one dying. We should not be unclothed but clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.
It is therefore “unto a living hope” that God begot us again. “Lively,” though due to Tyndale and followed by Cranmer, Geneva, and even the Rhemish, is inadequate and misleading. Wiclif alone was right. We are viewed as pilgrims still on earth in our mortal bodies. We have left the Egypt world, and have crossed the Red Sea, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, instead of meaning death, is our cleansing from our sins; as His life is the spring of that filial obedience, which in Him is seen in absolute perfection. We are here not regarded in the height of the heavenlies, risen with Christ and seated in Him there. But Christ is raised for our deliverance, and we are ushered into the world as set free from the old house of bondage, and we traverse it as the wilderness, led of God on the way to the heavenly Canaan as Israel of old to the earthly.
It is accordingly under this aspect that the Epistle contemplates the Christian. He has to do with a God of grace, not of law for a Jew, and an object of His government here below, till the living hope is realized of being with Christ and in heaven. But that divine government for every day meanwhile is not of the chosen people as of old in earthly power and with deliverances to strike the eye and awe of the nations. A government of souls comes before us while evil is still prevalent in the world; but God makes all things, trials and sufferings of faith in particular, work together for good to those that love Him. As Christ's resurrection was manifestly the victory of the Saviour for His own over the enemy's power, behold Him on high to fill them with holy confidence that He will appear to their full deliverance and glory in due time according to promise.
In the Epistle to the Ephesians we find the present association of the Christian and the church with heaven in Christ. Here it is a living hope of reaching heaven through Christ in a glorified state by-and-by. Both aspects of the truth are of the deepest interest and importance: we are on earth redeemed, as pilgrims and strangers, going across a desert and waiting for Christ; we are also even now quickened together with Christ, raised together with Him, and seated in Him in the heavenlies. As the letter to the Ephesians treats all its topics on this footing from first to last, so does the first Epistle of Peter to the Christian Jews throughout open out to them divine life as theirs, aided by the sustaining power and gracious direction of God, to guide them through this dread and howling wilderness of the world.
Nor are there any proofs of the inspired mind of God finer or firmer than the details of divine truth thus discoverable to the soul dependent on God and honoring His word. Some of the indications, each characteristic of its own book, may appear as we dwell for a season on this or that; but what are they among the many more which remain to reward the diligent searcher into these oracles, nowhere deceiving, never dumb?

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Daniel

Have we clear and conclusive proof from its own internal evidence that the book is marked by special aim on God's part? Who can deny, as he weighs its testimony as a whole, that Daniel is, as no other, the prophet of “the times of the Gentiles”? There is a valuable but curt confirmatory witness in the later book of Zechariah subsequent to the Babylonish captivity. But neither there nor in all could be gleaned from every other prophecy put together any real ground of comparison with the pious captive Jew who was called in God's providence to the highest position of counseling rule, not only at the Babylonian court under its mightest monarch, but in the Medo-Persian which succeeded to the days when Cyrus reigned sole and supreme.
While Israel was thus manifestly” Lo-ammi (not-my-people),” as the book indicates throughout, the striking fact is also disclosed of a provisional state for the Jewish remnant in the land, spiritual intelligence in a few, unbelieving blindness in the mass. This is revealed in chap. 9:24, &c. as coming into collision with Messiah the Prince, and His being cut off, without having anything (i.e. of His Messianic rights), and its ruinous consequences described thereafter “even unto the consummation,” which is not come. But it also recurs in chap. 11:36-12:7, where we read the details of that consummation, when the same unbelieving generation of the Jews, who rejected long ago the true Christ, will receive the Antichrist to his and their shame and everlasting contempt. So the great Prophet Himself warned those of His day in John 5:43, before either of those awful catastrophes immeasurably more momentous, whatever rationalists think or say, than all the “decisive battles” of the world.
The unity of the book is now admitted even by most advanced freethinkers, save a few eccentrics of no weight. In the first half, having the historical form, Daniel is spoken of, and the Gentile chiefs are prominent (especially the first and greatest), though only the prophet could interpret. In the second half the prophet only has the visions as well as interpretations, which refer to “the saints” and “the people of the saints” in a way which the first did not. The best answer to caviling skeptics is to read and believe “Daniel the prophet,” as the Lord of all designated him.
Chapter 1 is a preface, from Jerusalem losing the direct government of God (who set up meanwhile Babylon in a fresh imperial position), down to the first year of Cyrus. Chapter 7 has also a conclusory character in the judgment of the Gentiles up to the deliverance of Israel. From chapter 2 to 6 Gentiles are prominent in an exoteric way. From chapter 7 to the end, only the prophet receives and communicates the mind of God intimately on all, with the glory of the Son of man and His saints on high, but His people here below. We may therefore call this half esoteric. What had so immense, as well as intimate, a range of truth in keeping with Maccabean times? It is true that the Syrian king's furious persecution of the Jews, and his profanation of worship, find a marked place in the course of the book; but where it does, plain indication is given of a greater power and a worse evil typified thereby before “the end of the indignation.” What sad belittling of an inspired book to make that king, audacious as he was and cruel, a blind not only to the final actor in that sphere, but to others on an incomparably larger scale, who are all to come under divine dealings at “the time of the end” —a time which assuredly is not yet arrived Chapter 2 conveys the interesting and important fact that “the God of the heavens” acted by a dream on the first Gentile head of empire, to show the general course of dominion then begun till its extinction: an image gorgeous and terrible, but gradually deteriorating as it descends, and closing with great strength and marked weakness also. Then He sets up another kingdom—His own, after destroying not only the fourth empire in its last divided condition of the ten toes (which did not exist when Christ suffered or the Holy Spirit came down) but the remains of all from the first—the gold, the silver, the brass, as well as the iron and clay. Only when judgment was executed does the “little stone” expand into a great mountain and fill the whole earth. It awaits His second advent.
Here, as is well known, the rationalist coalesces with the ritualist in teaching the self-complacent chimera of an “ideal Israel,” the church or Christendom. Yet in the church is neither Jew nor Greek, but Christ is all. It is the body of the glorified Head; and its calling is to suffering grace on earth, awaiting glory with Christ at His return. Crushing to powder the image of Gentile empires is in no way or time the church's work. The once rejected but now exalted Stone will do it, as He declared in Matt. 21:44 and in other scriptures. But the literal Israel will be then and there delivered, and become His earthly center in power and glory. Such is the uniform witness of the prophets. We need not begrudge this to the remnant of Jacob then repentant; for we are called to far brighter glory with Christ in heavenly places. But, whether believed now or not, the first dominion on earth shall surely come to the daughter of Zion in that day, for as long as the earth endures.
The intervening histories in chapters 3-6 are in the fullest accord with the predictions of Daniel, two of them general (3 & 4) and two particular (5 & 7, as we shall find the prophecies are also); but none of them in fact refers to the peculiar scourge in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. In not one is there a trace of Hellenism imposed on the Jews. Not even in Belshazzar have we the least real likeness to punishing recalcitrants against the gods of Olympus.
The aim of chapter 3 is to show how the Gentile entrusted with imperial power by God used it, deeply impressed as he had been by the lost secret which none but the Hebrew captive could interpret. Alas! man being in honor abides not; he is like the beasts that perish. So it had been with Israel under law, with Judah, and with David's house. New-fangled idolatry on pain of the most cruel death was the first recorded command of the Gentile world-power: a religious bond to unite by that act the various peoples, nations, and tongues of the one empire, and thus to counteract the divisive influence of gods peculiar to each of these races. But such a universal test gave God, thus ignored, the occasion to prove the nullity of that idol and of every other, and the total and manifest defeat of supreme power even by its own captives cast into the fiery furnace, be it ever so heated. How grave the public lesson read to the Gentile empires, were not man as forgetful of God as he is bent on his own will!
The next chapter (4) is no less general, and the more impressive as the deepest humiliation was inflicted by God, after His slighted warning, on the same haughty head of imperial power. Nebuchadnezzar had ascribed all his glory to himself, and got debased, as none else ever was, to the bestial state till “seven times” passed over him. After that he “lifted up his eyes to heaven,” a repentant and restored man owning the Most High, no longer like the brute but morally intelligent. It is childish to lower or restrain to the Seleucid prince a lesson he never learned. It is infidel to doubt the facts of this chapter or of the preceding one. It is blind not to recognize that chapter 3 looks on to the deliverance of faithful ones (not “the many”) at the end; as the next does to the day when the Gentile shall have a beast's heart no more, but will bless the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth: the character of the divine display when this present evil age terminates. What connection had either with the loathsome foe of the Jews, Antiochus Epiphanes? Nothing could be more telling than both displays of God's power during the “head of gold” “till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” It is Satan's work to disbelieve them; and a nominal Christian is far more guilty now than a heathen of old if he help Satan against God and His word.
The special aims of chapters 5 & 6 are of no less serious moment. Neither the one nor the other represents or resembles Antiochus Epiphanes. In chapter 5 we see dissolute profanity eliciting a most solemn token of divine displeasure on the spot, and judged by a providential infliction that very night. Monuments or not, the word of our God shall stand forever. Nothing more dangerous than to trust anything or one against scripture; and what can be more sinful? What avail the brave words of men enamored of Babylonish bricks, cylinders, etc.? Let them beware of the snares of the great enemy; not even resurrection power broke Jewish unbelief. In chapter 6 man was by craft set up for a while as the sole object of prayer or worship, which brought on its devisers the sudden destruction they had plotted for the faithful. What bearing had this, any more than the chapter before, on the grievous scourge of Antiochus Epiphanes? They evidently prepare the way, for the judgment of the future Babylon in the one (5), and for that of the Beast in the other (6), as given in the Book of Revelation, where both are shown to perish frightfully though with difference.
Next follow the more complicated communications of God's mind about the four “Beasts,'' the last especially, much fuller and more intimate than in chapter 2. The movement of heaven is disclosed, and God's interest in His people, and particularly in the sufferers for His name specified “as saints,” and even as “saints of the high places.” The dream of Nebuchadnezzar, condescending as it was to him and awe-inspiring in itself, contained no such vision of glory on high, no such prospects for heaven or earth, no such display of divine purpose in the Son of man.
But as in chapter 2, so yet more in chapter 7, the last and most distant empire, the fourth, is much more fully described than the Babylonish then in being, or the Medo-Persian that next followed, or the Greek that succeeded in its due time. For we have a crowd of minute predictions of an unexampled nature, the many horns in the last empire at its close, the audacious presumption and restless ambition of its last chief; who from a small beginning governed the rest, and, not content with trampling down the saints, rose up in blasphemy against God and His rights. But this calls forth summary and final judgment on all, with the action of heaven in establishing the everlasting kingdom of power and glory here below.
Such a revelation fundamentally clashes with the canons of the Higher Criticism, and demonstrates, if believed, their utter futility. Hence we can understand their efforts to get rid of the unvarnished truth Daniel sets before us in this vision. The attempt to separate the Median and the Persian elements, so as to make them respectively the second and third empires, is desperate and unworthy. Chapter 5:28 was explicit beforehand as well as chapter 6:8, 12, 15; and afterward chapter 8 demolishes such contradiction of scripture. The bear in chapter 7 answers to the ram in chapter 8, which had two horns, the kings of Media and Persia—not two Beasts, but one composite power expressly. The leopard, therefore, with its four heads answers to the goat of Greece, for whose great horn, when broken, four stood up in its stead. The fourth Beast, different from all the Beasts before, is none other than the Roman Empire; which has ten horns in its final shape, after which, when further change comes, divine judgment falls in a form without previous parallel (7:11, 12).
If we let in, as we are bound, the further light of the Apocalypse, where we cannot but recognize the same “Beast” which Daniel saw in the fourth place, we gain the fullest certainty from chapter 17 that the seven heads were successive governing forms, of which the sixth or imperial head was in being when John saw the vision (ver. 10); and that the ten horns were contemporary, for all receive authority as kings for “one hour with the beast.” It is preparatory to the last crisis, when they make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them (vers. 12-14). This is also decisively shown in verse 16, “And the ten horns which thou sawest, and [not ‘on’] the beast, these shall hate the harlot,” etc., as they also give their kingdom to the “Beast” until the words of God shall be fulfilled. This, accordingly and absolutely, disposes of the attempt to make the “ten horns” mean only ten successive kings; so as to apply the list to the Seleucidae, and make it appear that Antiochus was the little horn of Dan. 7, who got rid of the three last of his predecessors. Such a scheme is mere perversion of scripture, wholly dislocates the chapter, and deprives us of the only true interpretation. For this supposes a divine interposition at the end of the age in judgment of the Roman Empire, revived to fulfill its complete destiny and to be judged by the Lord Jesus at His appearing.
The first empire had a simplicity peculiar to itself. The second or Medo-Persian had dual elements; and so has the symbol two horns, of which the higher came up last. The third or Macedonian after its brief rise had four heads, of which two are noticed particularly as having to do with the Jews in the details of Dan. 11. The fourth empire, beyond just doubt, is the Roman, diverse from all before it, and distinguished by the notable form of ten concurrent horns, ere its destructive judgment by a divine kingdom which supersedes all, alone truly both universal and everlasting. Then shall the saints of the high places have their grand portion, surely not to eclipse the Son of man (as these sorry critics would like), but to swell the train of His glory Who is Heir of all things.
None but the Roman Empire corresponds with the feet of iron and clay; none other furnishes an analogy to the ten toes in one case and ten horns in another, the only true force of which is ten kings (subject to the violent change indicated) reigning together. Nor can any power that ever bore sway be so truly compared to “iron breaking and subduing all things,” or a most ravenous nondescript brute with great iron teeth, which “devoured and brake in pieces and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” The entrance of the Teuton clay indicates the brittleness of independent will (in contrast with the old Roman cohesive centralism); which, as it broke up the empire in the past, will culminate in the tenfold division of the future, on that revival of the empire which is presupposed in Dan. 7 before judgment falls, and is distinctly revealed in Rev. 17. This is a trait wholly absent from all previous empires, as well as from the Syro-Greek kingdom, which never was an empire nor approached it.
As the revival of the Roman Empire is so momentous a fact of the future and for “the time of the end,” it may be well here to point out its clear and conclusive evidence in scripture. On the showing of Dan. 2 and 7 the fourth or Roman Empire is in power when the kingdom of God comes, enforced by the Son of man. But the Revelation explains how this can and will be. In chapter 8:1-10 is seen the “Beast” emerging once more from the sea or revolutionary state of nations, having seven heads and ten horns. These last have been ever held to identify it with Daniel's fourth empire. Again, the seven heads, now appropriately added, can only confirm it; for (explained as it is in Rev. 17:9, 10) this description applies to no known empire so significantly as to the Roman. Only we have to observe an absolutely new fact in connection with the healing of that one of his heads (the imperial, as it appears) which had been wounded to death: that the great dragon (who in chapter 7 is declared to be Satan) gave him his power and his throne and great authority.
Pagan Rome was evil exceedingly, and had its part in the crucifixion of the Lord of glory. The same Roman empire will reappear at the end of the age, energized by Satan in a way neither itself nor any other empire had ever known. This gives the key to its extreme blasphemy and defiance of the Most High, as well as to other enemies; because of which the judgment shall sit and the dominion be taken away by the wrath of God from heaven, when the Beast with its hosts dares to make war against the Lord descending in power and glory. The horns will then act as of one will with the “Beast” that is then present to give imperial unity. For still more clearing the intimations of chapter 8, chapter 17:8 is most explicit: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into perdition.” Again, at the close of the verse, “Seeing the beast, how that he was, and is not, and shall be present.” (See also verse 11.)
The “Beast” without the horns was under the Caesars and their successors. Horns in their varying numbers were without the “Beast” in the middle ages and onward: “The beast was, and is not.” But the wonder of the future is that the Beast, before the closing scene, is to arise not only out of the sea but with the far more awful symbol, “out of the abyss,” the prelude of perdition. Here, again, the consistency of the truth asserts itself. To none but the Roman Empire can these predictions apply. To Alexander's empire they are irrelevant; how much more to a mere offshoot of it! No, it is the empire that rose up against the Lord in humiliation, which, blinded and filled by Satan's power, will make war with the Lamb when He comes in glory to its appalling ruin.
Chapter 8 is manifestly of a character and scope more circumscribed than the general prophecies of chapters 2, 7. Yet it is none the less important for its design, because it takes up only a special part; but all alike conduct us to the catastrophe at the end. As this we have seen to be evidently true of the great general visions of the book, so is it equally of the particulars; which circumstance exposes the fallacy of identifying the objects. All come into collision with divine judgment; but they are distinct in character as in fact.
Here, then, we have the second empire of Medo-Persia assailed overwhelmingly by the third or Greek kingdom of Alexander the Great. How any upright mind can fail to apprehend this from the simple reading of the text is hard to account for. The great horn was broken when it became strong, and in its stead came up four notable horns. Out of one of these four kingdoms rose a little horn which became exceeding great, and also meddled peculiarly with the Jews and the sanctuary. It is a deplorable lack of intelligence to confound this oppressor with the little horn of chapter 7. The one was as manifestly the ruler over a part of the Greek empire in the East, as the other from a small beginning arrives to be the chief of the Western empire. Both are to be excessively impious and wicked, both surely punished by God beyond example. But to confound them is to lose the difference of the actors at the close, even wholly opposed as they are to each other, though both inflict the worst evils on the chosen people. Now there is the less need of many words here, as it is agreed that the vision in its later part from verse 9 does set forth the Seleucid enemy of the Jews and of their religion. And it would appear that verses 13, 14 apply to his defilement of the sanctuary and suppression of the daily offering.
As usual in Daniel and elsewhere in scripture, the interpretation not only explains but adds considerably, and in particular dwells, not on the typical Antiochus Epiphanes, but on the final antitypical enemy in the same quarter at the latter day. It is weak to pretend that the awful end predicted for the infamous personage of the future in this chapter and at the end of Dan. 11 could be fulfilled in the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, terrible as it was in the estimate of Greeks as well as Jews. Thus the real prediction of his history in the preceding verses of the same chapter 11 up to 32 does not dwell on it as comparable with that of him who is found “at the time of the end.”
For the prophecy goes on to the consummation, when God interferes in unmistakable power. Hence the angelic interpreter would make Daniel know “what shall be at the end of the indignation.” Who can say with the smallest show of truth that this was in the days of the impious Syrian or of the Maccabean resistance? “The end of the indignation” will only be, when Israel are truly repentant and God has no more controversy with His people. Nor should this surprise any one who reads the scriptures in faith, for all the prophets look on to that happy time. The real person before the mind of the Holy Spirit at the close is one who will “stand up against the Prince of princes,” but shall be “broken without hand” in a way far beyond its type in past history. A gap, therefore, necessarily occurs in every one of the prophecies. In no instance is continuity unbroken. Enough is said to make the general bearing plain; but in every case the Holy Spirit dwells on the final scene which connects itself with the subject matter before us; because then only will the judgment of God decide all absolutely and publicly, and introduce the kingdom of power and glory that shall never pass away.
Dan. 9 has its own peculiarities. Those who contrast this book with other prophecies, as lacking the predominantly moral element, only prove their own blindness. In no prophecy is it more conspicuous; and the same chapter which so profoundly tells out to God a heart that identified itself with the sins and iniquities (“we have sinned,” &c.) of the men of Judah, and of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of all Israel near and far off, but with the most earnest intercession, is precisely the one that, as he prayed, received from God a prediction in some respects the most striking and important of any in scripture. Here even rationalism cannot but own that the promised blessings of verse 24 belong to the Messianic hope, when the 490 years really close. Thus it shares, with every other prediction in the book, the mark of going down to the end of the age; when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, and God sets up His kingdom in Christ by judgments executed on all lawlessness, Jewish or Gentile. But here, where Jeremiah's seventy years are referred to, with the provisional return of a remnant from Babylon to rebuild the city and the sanctuary, we have not only Jehovah the Lord God of Israel addressed, but also Messiah's first advent and cutting off. This interrupts the thread of the seventy weeks, as it naturally must; and an undated vista of desolation follows. For it clearly includes Messiah's rejection, and leaves nothing but the destruction of the city and temple, and a flood of troubles on the Jews. There evidently comes the break. Messiah's death was “after” the sixty-ninth week=483 years. Then follows the desolation determined, and to the end war, outside the course of the “weeks” altogether, as it is hardly possible for a serious man to deny.
The last week remains for the close, without fixing any connection or starting-point, save that the Roman “prince” (whose “people” came and destroyed Jerusalem) will, at the time of the end, make covenant with “the many,” or mass of faithless Jews, for a week or seven years, and will in the midst of it cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. That is, he will put down the Jewish religion, contrary to his covenant; and “because of the protection” [rather than the overspreading] “of abominations” or idols, which take its place, a desolator shall be, even until the consumption and that which is determined to be poured on the desolate, i.e. Jerusalem. The desolator seems to be the last north-eastern enemy, as the Roman prince is he who is so prominent in Dan. 7, where we saw the times and laws given into his hand for the same last half week, or three and a half times.
Instead of this plain, worthy, and homogeneous interpretation, what do the neo-critics say? “There can be no reasonable doubt that this [the cutting off of Messiah] is a reference to the deposition of the high priest, Onias III., and his murder by Andronicus (B.C. 171) “; while the rest is turned to Antiochus. Of course, all is chaos among these critics. The design is to pervert the prophecy, from Christ's death and the burning of their city and the flood of desolation, to those murderers. The precise scope is clear if the interruption of the series is observed in the text, with the future hearing of the last week. If this be true, it is a death-blow to the “higher critics,” and an unanswerable proof that the true Daniel wrote it; who here distinctively brings in the awful truth of Christ's rejection, which has deferred the world-kingdom till His second advent; while the disasters of the poor Jews are shown, not only till the Romans destroyed their city and temple, but at the end of the age when they meet their worst tribulation, before deliverance comes for the godly in that day, as it surely will.
The last three chapters are also a particular prophecy, chapter 11. being exceedingly minute, to the fierce dislike of such as think for God, and would dictate to Him if they could. There is a rich variety in scripture, and not least in the prophetic word. Our place is to bow to God and learn of Him. Unbelief sits in judgment of Him Who is worthy of all trust and adoration. Now chapter 11, peculiar as it may be, demands and deserves our fullest confidence, whatever say the scorners. It was in the third year of Cyrus that the revelation came to Daniel. Three more kings were to arise in Persia-Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspis; then the fourth, richer than them all, Xerxes, who, when waxed strong by his riches, should stir up the whole against the kingdom of Javan or Greece. This gives the fitting gap, which necessarily must be, unless an uninterrupted thread were inserted: a thing unprecedented in such cases, for the gap we have seen to be regular.
The next personage is the Macedonian chief, who repaid the blow intended by Persia. No unprejudiced man can avoid seeing Alexander the Great in verse 3, or his divided kingdom in verse 4, which introduces two of those divisions, the kingdoms of the north and the south, and their conflicts which follow. Again, it is clear and certain that in verses 21-32 we have a full account of him who more than any hated the Jews and their religion. The skeptical theory is, that a patriotic Jew in his day personated Daniel of ancient renown in the exile, and converted the past history into professed prophecy up to that time. But the fact stands opposed that, when Antiochus Epiphanes is dropped, verses 33-35 give a protracted state of trial which ensued long for the Jews, when their old foe had ceased from troubling; and that the text expressly declares their trial was to go on to “the time of the end.” Here, therefore, is the great gap implied in accordance with the other predictions of the book, and even with the same principle on a smaller scale between verses 2 and 3 of this very chapter as already pointed out and undeniable.
Then from verse 36 we find ourselves confronted with the last time. We are told, not of a king of the north or of the south as before, but of “the king,” that final wicked one whom a prophet so distinguished and early as Isaiah presents in chapters 11:4, 33:33, 57:9 under the same ominous phrase. He is the Anointed's personal rival reigning in the land according to his own pleasure, and thus fully contrasted with Him who only did His Father's will. It is an energetic sketch of one exalting himself against every god; whereas Antiochus Epiphanes was devoted to the gods of Greece and Rome. Though speaking impious things against the God of gods, he is to prosper “till the indignation be accomplished” —God's indignation against His guilty people (as Isaiah also spoke), another proof of days still to come. The Palestinian prince (which Antiochus Epiphanes was not, but king of the north) will have no regard for the God of his fathers, namely, Jehovah (for he is an apostate Jew), nor the desire of women (Messiah, the hope of Israel), nor any god (i.e. of the Gentiles); which last it is absurd and false to say of Antiochus Epiphanes. In truth it is the long predicted and then present Antichrist, supplanting Christ, denying the Father and the Son, coming in his own name, and received by those that refused Him who came in the Father's. His and their destruction is shown elsewhere. But here the prophet turns to the old struggle of the kings of the north and of the south, both being as opposed to “the king” as to each other: an incontestable proof of the folly, first of fancying Antiochus Epiphanes here, and next of denying that these events, believed or disbelieved, are set forth as the prophet's prediction of the last future collision.
Observe finally, what accumulation of proofs Dan. 12 affords of these events to come, which of themselves refute the petty scheme of seeing only Antiochus Epiphanes up to the end. For when the last king of the north perishes by divine judgment, a divine intervention on behalf of Israel is assured “at that time.” Sorely will the Jews need it, for they will be passing through this their last and severest tribulation. But, unlike their calamitous history for long centuries, “at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” It is no mere policy nor prowess, but mercy for the righteous. Hence the appropriate figure of many of the sleepers in the dust awakening, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. So Isaiah (26) and Ezekiel (37) employed the same figure of resurrection for the uprising of Israel nationally, but with the rejection of the unrighteous, as our prophet plainly indicates.
The result, then, of this brief survey of the book, assailed by neo-critical unbelief, is to show that their scheme is unfounded from first to last; and that it overlooks the grand scope of Gentile empire, both exoteric (2) and esoteric (7). In this so inconsiderable a ruler as Antiochus Epiphanes could have no place, still less be the culmination of all in bringing on the divine extinction of the entire system of Gentile empire, and hence in restoring Israel under conditions of blessing and glory which will change the world's history.
Plainly no such time is arrived. When Christ came, the fourth empire was in power; which will also play its part against Him at His second advent, as the New Testament carefully and clearly reveals. His cross laid the basis for reconciling, not believers only, but all things also in due time. Meanwhile in the world “the times of the Gentiles” proceed, and “the indignation” against faithless Israel. The gospel is indeed sovereign grace toward all, and upon all that believe, and the church is Christ's body for heavenly glory. But the world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is not yet come, nor can it come till the seventh trumpet is blown. Even in the particular prophecies of Daniel, where Antiochus Epiphanes is referred to (chapters 8 and 11), the book itself teaches us to look on from his evil to a greater and worse antitype expressly bound up with “the time of the end,” which in no way applies to the Seleucid king.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Priest's Work Typical of Our Lord's?; MAT 13:30, 1CO 5:13, 2TI 2:21 Hang Together?

Q.-Ex. 28; 29 Was the anointing, consecrating and sanctifying of Aaron and his sons, to minister in the priest's office, typical of anything that had to take place before our Lord entered upon His priestly work?
If so, of what does the oil speak?
Of what was the killing of the ram of consecration a type?
Had what they typified to be fulfilled before our Lord became High Priest? J. S.
A.-If the querist were to read what has already appeared in the “B.T.” (New Series), 2 290, 306, 324, 338, 354, 370 (1899), as well as the papers regularly following in 1900, he would find much more ample discussion than in a brief answer now. But the Epistle to the Hebrews is the inspired warrant for regarding the Aaronic priesthood as typical of our Lord's exercise of office in heaven, and of those who are His as His house on earth. At the same time contrast is pointed out as clearly as analogy. So it must be with One Who is Son of God and Son of man in a sense and personal dignity beyond all others, as chaps. 1, 2 were meant to show as a starting-point. Hence also Psa. 110 is introduced as early as chap. 5 to indicate that, if the exercise be yet Aaronic (within the veil, on the ground of a completed atonement by blood), its “order” is according to Melchizedek (everlasting and intransmissible, not successional like Aaron's).
But the sanctifying, anointing, and consecrating typified what was found in our Lord or accomplished by Him in order to His priestly function. 1. The oil here as elsewhere speaks of the unction from the Holy One, the Spirit given to Him before, to us since, redemption. 2. The slaying of the ram of consecration, like every other sacrifice, typified Christ's death, each in its own special point of view, but all fulfilled in that wondrous fact. 3. They were fulfilled here below, though the value was recognized instantly in heaven and forever, before our Lord was addressed by God as High Priest, or entered on His heavenly office in due form and glory.
Q.-Matt. 13:30, 1 Cor. 5:13, 2 Tim. 2:21. How do these scriptures hang together? B. A.
A.-The first speaks of evil professors of the Lord, who are not our objects of extermination, but living in the field of the world till judgment falls at the end of the age. The second commands the wicked man to be at once put out of the church. The third provides for the day when the professing church sanctions vessels to dishonor, from which the faithful soul is bound to purge himself. Thus only can he be a vessel to honor, sanctified and meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work.

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Isaac: 17. The Heir

Gen. 25:1-6
We may not now meditate on all this closing scene of Abraham's life, for we are occupied with Isaac. Yet it presents not a little of interest in itself, and in its bearing on eastern races who are to play their part in the glorious days of the future kingdom as they have in the past. Whatever tradition says otherwise, Keturah was not a bond-maid like Hagar, nor was she mother of the promised seed, but of six sons born to the father of the faithful.
“And Abraham took another wife, and her name [was] Keturah. And she bore him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah. And Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan; and Dedan's sons were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim; and Midian's sons, Ephah and Epher and Enoch and Abidah and. Eldaah: all these [were] Keturah's sons. And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; and to the sons of the concubines that Abraham had Abraham gave gifts, and, while he yet lived, sent them away from Isaac his son, eastward to the east country” (vers. 1-6).
To none was Abraham indifferent, nor the God of Abraham who will remember them in the coming era of earth's joy and blessedness. But Isaac has a place altogether distinctive. To the rest Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, to whom he “gave all that he had.”
Thus Isaac stands before us typically as the manifest heir of all things (Heb. 1:2). This title of course belongs only in its full sense to Jesus the Son of God. As the Creator of all, it is meet that He should inherit all (Heb. 1); and through redemption and purchase (Heb. 2) He will take all in the day of displayed glory, as the exalted Son of man. He who humbled Himself as none else ever could is beyond all crowned with glory and honor: though now given, we do not yet see all things put under Him. But unseen of man He has already this supremacy in place and title according to Psa. 8:6 (7) thrice referred to in the N.T.; a supremacy so universal that He only is excepted Who subjected all things to Him. God left nothing unsubjected to Christ, as attested by His actual seat on the throne of God, the Father's throne. But this is quite distinct from the intimation of Psa. 110:2, &c. when the Lord will reign on His own throne and actively subjugate all the enemies whom Jehovah will have made His footstool. For the Lord it is who shall rule in the midst of His enemies and strike through kings in the day of His wrath. It is an evident contrast with all He is doing now at the right hand of the Majesty on high, where till that day He sits during this day of salvation by grace.
It is seasonable to recall here the specific use in the Epistles made of the citation from Psa. 8, where the glorious result of the Son of man's humiliation, announced there for Israel's instruction and joy, is set in the full light of God's final revelation. 1 Cor. 15 fixes the time and the condition. It is when not only Christ is raised from the dead, but they that are Christ's at His coming. The resurrection of the saints precedes the kingdom there described as dealing with all the enemies, even to annulling death, last enemy though it be. It is the proper work of the risen Man, Who, when all things shall have been actually subjected to Him, will Himself be subjected to Him that subjected all things to Him, giving up the kingdom to Him that is God and Father, that God [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] may be all in all.
In Eph. 1:22 the same words are applied to Christ in His present exaltation as given to be Head over all things to the church which is His body. It is not here the risen Man, with those raised at His coming that are His, reigning to the subdual of the last foe, but the mystery about Christ and about the church, the mystery in unique greatness of Christ set over all things heavenly and earthly, and the church united to Him in that supremacy after the nearest sort, He the Head, she the body.
Heb. 2:5-9 completes the divine picture. Here the words from Psa. 8 are again employed to show that the glorification of the Lord Jesus is the pledge of their future fulfillment as a whole, when all things shall be seen put under Him. Also the habitable earth to come is not for angels to reign over. All the universe will be put under the Son of man, as surely as we see Him already crowned.
Thus we have in the last scripture the blessed fact on which Christianity depends that the once-suffering Son of man is exalted to the highest seat in heavenly glory, the assuring proof that in due time all things shall be seen, as they are not yet seen, to be put under Him. Next, the intermediate scripture lets us know that meanwhile the church is made one with Him, as the body with its Head, sharing His exaltation over all things. Hence the delay; because, as we are all aware, the body is being now formed while He is seated and waiting in the heavens. The first scripture accordingly explains that at His coming we shall be raised and like Him, in order to join the risen Lord in reigning with Him over all things, when He undertakes to reduce to subjection all the enemies which are made His footstool. For He will not reign alone. He, the Heir of all things, has joint-heirs; as it is written in Rom. 8, the Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [Him], that we may be glorified together with [Him]. For as Heb. 10:12, 13 shows, after having offered one sacrifice for sins, He in perpetuity sat down on God's right hand, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made a footstool of His feet. Having suffered all and done all for His friends, He will then trample down His foes, while His own reign with Him in glory.

Priesthood: 10. Priest Above Grief

The Priest Above Grief. Lev. 10:4-7
Our relationships whether with God or with man determine our duties. The more intimate they be, the call is proportionate. Jehovah had chosen Aaron and his sons to draw nigh to Him, as none could even of the tribe which had charge of the sanctuary. Therefore would He be sanctified in the persons so privileged, who must walk consistently with holy nearness. If they became through any cause insensible to His majesty, He would not fail to make them feel that they had to do with One Who never slumbers or sleeps, dwelling among the sons of Israel, after having brought them forth out of the land of Egypt to walk among them as Jehovah their God. If the priest forgot what is due to Him, what could be expected of the people? There must be on the one hand no respect of persons: God cannot abdicate; on the other the priest typically stood for Christ Who acted for man with God in His grace. And what can be more heinous then to despise grace? In the most solemn way the elder sons of the high priest had profaned the name of Jehovah. Now “if one man sin against another, God will judge him; but if a man sin against Jehovah, who shall intreat for him?” Even Aaron held his peace.
“4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Uzziel uncle of Aaron, and said to them, Draw near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. 5 And they drew near, and carried them in their vests out of the camp, as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar his sons, Uncover not your heads nor rend your clothes, lest ye die, and lest wrath come on all the assembly; but your brethren, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which Jehovah hath kindled. 7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tent of meeting, lest ye die; for the anointing oil of Jehovah [is] upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses” (vers. 4-7).
Even in circumstances so unexpected and appalling, all things must be done decently and in order. The guilty priests forthwith perished for their profanity before the sanctuary; and the Levites, their near of kin, must carry them forth out of the camp. And so they did in their vests. It was all the more an affecting and impressive sight. We do not hear the like in any other instance; but this was only right in presence of a sin so unexampled and heinous.
Nor was this all. Moses proceeds to lay an injunction on the priestly family, which was followed up afterward in detail (chap. 11), and worthy of all heed. The priests of Jehovah were liable to the ordinary sorrows of humanity; and their office, as we have seen, laid them open to peculiar dangers from which others were exempt. But their position of nearness to Jehovah precluded them from the usual manifestation of grief. The occasion was a crucial one, and the word plain and imperative. Natural feeling might plead loudly; but what had nature to do with nearness to Jehovah in the sanctuary? It was He Who deigned to bring them nigh to Himself. Only grace conferred such a title. They were in themselves sinful men, and deserved to be far from His presence like others. What possible claim had any sinner to draw near Him?
It is true that the sanctuary as a whole and in all its parts was significant of what God is in Christ. In the holiest the ark and its covering mercy-seat, with the veil; in the holy place the golden table with its twelve loaves, the golden stand with its seven lamps, the golden altar of incense, and the screen of the door as well as the hangings, and the very sockets, boards, bars and pillars, to say nothing of the anointing oil, or the cloud that covered the tent of meeting and the glory that filled the tabernacle. But what did any then know of their meaning? Even now that the true light already shines, how few saints read all or any of these things aright?
But this they all had heard and sung, from the passage of the Red Sea, “Who is like thee, Jehovah, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” If they understood not that the sanctuary and its vessels and appurtenances spoke only of what God is to His own in Christ, and what He is for them to God, they could not be ignorant from Sinai, that fear was owed by all, and that holiness especially befits the priests that draw near to Jehovah (Ex. 19:11-25). “Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thy house, O Jehovah, for evermore” (Psa. 93:5).
The Hebrew in the charge to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar is open to the question, whether it means letting the hair loose, or uncovering their heads; for both were signs of mourning. The A.V. prefers the latter, the R.V. the former. Certain it is that the command forbids any such token of grief in those who drew nigh to Jehovah. He claims and must have on their part what is due to His presence. If the death of Christ was the basis of all blessing there, the death of the first man can have no place before Him. The sorrows and horrors of sin are supplanted by the witness, as yet unbelieved by man, of grace reigning through righteousness unto life eternal by Jesus Christ our Lord. Divine righteousness shines in the sanctuary.
Yet, far from suppressing grief in others, the whole house of Israel were encouraged and expected to bewail the solemn fact before all, the burning which Jehovah had kindled. Nature is there allowed to vent its feelings.
Again, the priests were forbidden to go out from the door of the tent of meeting on pain of death; for the anointing of Jehovah was on them. They were not their own but His; and they had that unction which pointed to the gift of the Spirit, and is absorbed in God's will and glory.

Proverbs 9:1-6

Here it is not wisdom in eternal relations, or in founding and building up the earth, preparing the heavens, and imposing on the sea the decree that the waters pass not the prescribed limits; yet withal delighting in the sons of men. Here the fruit of these delights appears. Wisdom acts among men.
“Wisdom hath built her house; she hath hewn out her seven pillars; she hath slaughtered her slaughtering [or, sacrifice], she hath mingled her wine, she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens; she crieth upon the summits of the high places of the city, Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither. To him that is void of understanding she saith, Come, eat ye of my bread, and drink of the wine I have mingled. Forsake follies [or, simplicities] and live, and go in the way of understanding” (vers. 1-6).
We had wisdom's cry in the preceding chapter, her active testimony that her voice might be heard. Here we have much more; for Jehovah strenuously and elaborately adopted means for the well-being and true enjoyment of man, so ready to turn aside and perish in the ways of the destroyer.
Hence, and in Israel when in possession of the land under Solomon it was above all conspicuous, that Jehovah drew public attention to His commandments as the sole wisdom and condition of blessing on the earth. This is what Moses yearned for, as their entrance there approached, that the surrounding peoples might say, Verily this great nation is a wise and understanding people: for what great nation is there that hath God near to them, as Jehovah our God is in everything we call upon Him for? And what great nation is there that hath righteous statutes and ordinances, as all this law which I set before you this day?
Only more is said in Solomon's day, and by the king in this book where wisdom is personified so admirably by the Spirit who had the Son of God in view. And who so well could introduce the figure of wisdom's house as he who was given to build the house for Jehovah's name, a settled place for Him to abide in forever? Yet how much the past or the present says to the contrary! as indeed Jehovah warned was to be because of their apostasy, even to a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
“Wisdom hath built her house.” Nowhere on earth was there a suited habitation. She could find no dwelling, but has prepared one for herself; for wisdom had to promote the entire life and the most intimate relations and the habits of every day. Hence the necessity for “her house,” to which she liberally invites. “She hath hewn her seven pillars.” There is a completeness of support exhibited in none other, and due to the divine aim herein sought.
Then the provision is no less bountiful. “She hath slaughtered her slaughtering, she hath; led her wine, she hath furnished her table.” How could it be otherwise if divine love undertake to entertain worthily of God? There is no more intelligible or common figure of communion than that which is expressed by eating and drinking under the same hospitable roof. So the Lord repeatedly set forth the welcome of grace in the gospel; so He signifies our feeding on Himself by faith to life eternal; so He instituted His supper for our habitual remembrance of Himself till He come. It is presented here that His people might know the pleasure Jehovah took in their enjoyment of wisdom as He revealed it.
But there is more. “She hath sent forth her maidens; she crieth upon the summits of the high places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.” Wisdom had her messengers, who are fitly represented as maidens whom she dispatched on the errand of loving-kindness. But she spares no pains personally; for there she stands on the loftiest vantage ground, whence she may invite. And who are the objects of her appeal? Not the rich or great; not the wise or prudent; but “whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.” God is ever the giving God when truly known. He may test man for special purpose; but as God loves a cheerful giver, so is He the most liberal of all Himself; and so wisdom here makes known. “To him that is void of understanding she saith, Come, eat ye of my bread, and drink of the wine that I have mingled.” In the world that is, such generous unselfish love is unknown, and hence the need and value of reiterated welcome.
Still in the same world admonition is requisite, and the word follows, “Forsake simplicities [or, follies] and live; and go in the way of intelligence.” Wisdom does not admit of inconsistency. If received notwithstanding our folly, it is that we may become wise according to a wisdom above our own; and this is truly to “live” where all else is death, and, as living, to walk in the way of intelligence, looking up to Him Who is above, and not as the beasts that look down and perish.
How blessed for us that to those that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God's power and God's wisdom! And how fitting that he who was of old endowed with wisdom beyond all others should be the one to reveal in the O.T. Him Who is that wisdom in His own eternal Person!

Gospel Words: the Lunatic Son Healed

Mark 9:17-27
What a contrast with the manifestation of the excellent glory on the mountain was the actual state of man even in the favored people here below! Jesus the Son of God was there; yet that the disciples knew not so by faith, as to avail themselves of His victory over the enemy!
“And one of the crowd answered and said, Teacher, I brought unto thee my son having a dumb spirit; and whensoever it taketh him, it teareth him, and he foameth and gnasheth his teeth, and is withering away. And I spoke to thy disciples that they should cast it out; and they were not able. And answering them He saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you? Bring him unto me. And they brought him unto Him; and when He saw him, straightway the spirit tore him, and falling on the ground he wallowed foaming. And He asked his father, How long time is it that this hath come to him? And he said, From a child. And often it cast him both into fire and into waters to destroy him; but if thou hast any power, help us in thy pitifulness toward us. But Jesus said to him, If thou hast power (is) to believe: all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out and said, I believe: help mine unbelief. And Jesus, seeing that a crowd was running up together, rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, Dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, come out of him and enter no more into him. And having cried out and torn [him] much, it came out, and he became as if dead, so that the most said, He is dead. But Jesus laying hold of him by the hand raised him up; and he stood up” (vers. 17-27).
It was indeed a mighty deed: and so it fell to our Gospel above the others to give most details. There are differences in the evil spirits; and only to prayer and fasting did the kind in question yield. The lack in that respect was grievous in the Lord's eyes. The distressed parent did not despair, and turned from the failing disciples to Him Who never fails. How humbling when believers thus dishonor their Lord “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you?” This was the overwhelming fact. That the crowd, that the scribes, should have no faith, was bad enough after such ample witness of the gracious power of God in His Son, servant of all need in man, marked out from the first in doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil. Did He not give the twelve, and more than the twelve, authority over the unclean spirits? How was it then that these put shame on His name by failing to draw on Him?
“Bring him unto Me” says the Savior. Even so, He lets all see the depth of the child's need, the malicious power of the enemy. He manifests His interest in all that dismays the heart of man. He inquires, not as if He did not know the reins and the heart, but that the tried soul may learn the reality of His compassion. He teaches the feeble suppliant that the question of power turns on faith; for faith God will have, whatever may be His own grace. What possible good morally could power insure without believing? On the other hand, all things are possible to him that believes. So even the disciples had to learn; and the father, through his necessities believing the lesson at once, tends to the right way under the Lord's guidance. “I believe: help mine unbelief.” How wholesome for the believer to feel and own his unbelief!
How is it with you that read these words? Have you found out what a deadly thing is unbelief? Have you received the declaration from God that you till brought to Him live in the lusts of your flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and are by nature children of wrath, even as the rest of mankind? Judaism did not hinder this of old, whatever its great privileges; nor does Christendom now with its still greater advantages. And has Satan no power over such as are dead in trespasses and sins? Do not such walk according to the age of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience? If men but saw by faith, they would discern themselves thus in a plight more appalling than that of the lunatic child under the power of the dumb and deaf spirit. For in itself it was for the life that now is; whereas Eph. 2:1-3 describes for both time and eternity.
But the Lord, as He wrought in power then, is also the Deliverer according to the rich mercy of God and the great love wherewith He loves. God is now showing the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, as He assures us He will in the ages to come. Let me, following the apostle, entreat that you receive not the grace of God in vain; for vain it undoubtedly is, if you have not faith in God through our Lord Jesus for your own soul as a guilty sinner, powerless in yourself before Him. But He hearkens to the cry of need and distress; yea He sends His word and works in manifold ways to make souls sensible of their ruin, that they may cry and He may answer in the glad tidings of His gospel. Now too it is a day of salvation; and the casting away of Israel is the world's reconciliation. For their fall is our wealth, their loss is our rich gain.
How awful then for men in Christendom to live only for present enjoyment, money, ease, honor, power, like the heathen who know not God! He Who for sins suffered unutterably, not from man only, but from God's judgment on the cross, is the Author of everlasting salvation to all those that obey Him; and faith in God's testimony to Him is the beginning of that blessing which shall never end. Oh, take heed, and put not off the call of grace, which you may not hear again! The spirits, now in prison and awaiting, not another deluge, but everlasting judgment in the resurrection of the unjust, once heard the Spirit of Christ in Noah's preaching while the ark was in preparation. Beware lest you, who have heard a far fuller expression of divine mercy in the gospel of Christ, frustrate the counsel of God against yourselves. For God is not mocked in the end, however men cheat themselves in thinking that He heeds not their words and ways now. To-day if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation, throughout the day of the temptation in the wilderness.

1 Peter 1:4-5

The scope of our Epistle excludes, as we have seen, the great truth unfolded in that to the Ephesian saints, that we are already blessed in the heavenlies (ἐν τοῖς ἐπουπανίοις) in Christ. This is connected indissolubly with the mystery of God's will, which gave Christ, set there above the highest creatures, as Head over all things to the church, the which and which alone is His body. Accordingly we await an administration of the fullness of the seasons or set times, when God will head or sum up all the universe in the Anointed Man, the things in the heavens and those on the earth, in Him in Whom also we were given heritage.
We have no such elevated relationship revealed here, nor is the boundless inheritance of all creation in this Epistle predicated of us or even of Christ. The inheritance here is simply “in the heavens” to contrast it the more distinctly with that which was Israel's portion in the land of Canaan. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ begot us again unto a living hope through resurrection of Jesus Christ from out of dead persons. It was a hope therefore superior to the inroads of death. If He died, it was that our sins should not bar us from bliss with Him, inasmuch as His own self bore them in His body on the tree; and He rose that we might enjoy His victory, as well as profit now and ever by His suffering once for sins.
But the apostle pursues the inspired aim yet more definitely into the future— “unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in [the] heavens for you, that are being guarded by God's power through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in a (or, the) last season” (1 Pet. 1:4-5).
Thus Christ risen and gone on high (instead of taking His seat on the holy hill of Zion, and the scepter of righteousness over Israel and the nations) has changed the outlook for the believer meanwhile. He too looks by faith on Christ where He is, and awaits the part which the gospel pledges to him in heaven. It is an inheritance which no corruption can destroy, which no defilement can sully, which resists all the withering of time. In itself, in its purity, and in its freshness, it will abide unchanging. It stands in virtue of Him Who not only created all originally but Who has reconciled, and will more widely still by His blood (Col. 1:20; Heb. 9:23).
The inheritance in view is in no way enjoyed now, but “reserved in the heavens for you.” Who can doubt these words were meant to raise the eyes of these believing Jews especially, and of the readers in general, above “glory dwelling in our land,” as in Psa. 85:9? Yet the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to those that turn in that day from transgression in Jacob, when (as surely as Jehovah said the word) His Spirit and His words, according to His covenant, shall not depart from them from generation to generation, from henceforth and forever. But beyond just doubt, neither the closing promise of Isa. 59 nor the glowing vision of Isa. 60 and of all that follows to the end of the book speaks of an inheritance “reserved in the heavens” for those who now believe in the gospel. It is Israel and the glory predicted for the earth, though rising up in the last two chapters to “new heavens and a new earth.” The promise is there applied to Jerusalem; but it furnished the ground for Peter in his Second Epistle to look onward to its fulfillment in the largest sense, when the kingdom shall give place to the eternal state, and God shall be all in all. Before that, will be accomplished, inchoatively at least, Israel's full part in that which shall never know change or eclipse.
The language here recalls Col. 1:5, where the apostle Paul speaks of “the hope that is laid up for you in the heavens.” The saints there, as here, are regarded as on earth, instead of being seen in their present heavenly association with Christ. It is hope anticipating the glory on high, not as already seated together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, as in Eph. 2:6. Only Peter was not given like Paul to tell the saints in the Epistle to the Colossians, that as they died with Christ and were raised with Him, and thus had done with ordinances for men as alive in the world, so they were to seek and mind the things above where He sits, not those on the earth. Indeed our apostle (as we see in 1 Pet. 2:24) rises no higher than our death to sins in a practical way, which is true and important, not at all to the doctrine in Rom. 6 of our death with Christ to sin, which is the root, and not merely the manifest effect or offshoot. Every shade of difference proves how grievously those err who think that scripture speaks loosely.
For such a thought really betrays the spiritual ignorance of such as presume to judge it; when in fact they, however great their erudition outside (it may be), have need to be taught the elements of the beginning of the oracles of God, and are become such as need milk rather than solid food.
The hope of such an inheritance reserved for them in the heavens was most cheering. But in thinking of themselves and the wilderness through which they pass, they needed and have another source of blessed comfort you, says he, “that are being guarded by (or, in) God's power.” What more suitable, what more precious and welcome, than such a divine assurance? The inheritance was kept or reserved for them in the heavens. This was just what was wanted, while they were on the earth waiting and learning self as well as God, and suffering for righteousness' sake or, still more blessed, for Christ's name. But, as proving their own weakness and men's hostility and Satan's active malice, they were constantly exposed to difficulties, trials, afflictions, and dangers. Hence their need to be meanwhile guarded all the way through. And so they are garrisoned by God's power. And if God be for us, who against? Is He not immeasurably more than all?
Still God has His means; and this the Apostle proceeds next to tell us. It is “through faith.” Nor can any means for a saint on earth compare with faith. For it beyond all others honors God and the word of His grace, needing dependence on the good Shepherd by the Holy Spirit, who is sent here and dwells in the Christian, to guide into all the truth, and thus glorify Him by receiving of His and announcing or reporting it to us. Thus is it “by God's power,” but “through faith” which gives Him His due place, and keeps us in our place of confidence in Him according to His word. For we walk through faith, not through sight (2 Cor. 5:7). It was not so that Israel marched through the wilderness, but guided visibly by the cloud or the pillar of fire. The Christian now, whether a Jew or a Gentile, has to walk through faith, of which the Lord Himself was the blessed pattern and perfection.
But the end is also added: “unto [or, for] salvation.” In our Epistle, as often in the Pauline Epistles, salvation does not stop short of the final result. See Rom. 5:9-10; 8:24; 1 Cor. 5:5; Heb. 1:14; 7:25; 9:28. Hence when our Apostle speaks of what is now given and enjoyed, he discriminates it as “salvation of souls” (1 Pet. 1:9). Otherwise he connects salvation with the full victory of Christ even for the body; which therefore must look on to the future day.
This is entirely confirmed by the context. Here for instance it is a salvation “ready to be revealed.” This is quite characteristic of our apostle. For the truth which runs through the First Epistle in one form, and the Second in another, is the righteous government of God as made known in Christ to the Christian. John is occupied with eternal life in the Son of God; the issue of which will be the Father's house where He is, and we are to be, at His coming to fetch us there (John 14:2-3). 1 John 3:2-3, adds that if it or He is manifested, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. The apostle Paul was given, more than any, to make known how the saints are to be changed and caught up to be with the Lord; so as to be brought with Him when that day begins (1 Thess. 3:13; 4:13-17).
Thus Peter points to the revelation of salvation in the day of Christ's appearing; because not till then will be the establishment of the kingdom in power and glory when the earth and the earthly people shall taste its blessed effects. Grace will be shown in the richest way by the Lord's coming to receive us to Himself that we may thus be with Him in the Father's house: all are caught up alike, as the Apostle Paul shows, into the same home of love. But there is no manifestation of righteous government in this; in the revelation to the world there will be in the highest degree. For in His appearing and kingdom each will be seen as having received his own reward according to his own labor. And the Lord, the righteous Judge, will render in that day the crown of righteousness, not to the faithful servant only who was already being “poured out,” but also to all who love His appearing. Then too will Satan be excluded not only from the heavenlies but from the earth. Then will come the world-kingdom of the Lord and His Christ, and not only recompence to the righteous, but destructive retribution to those that destroy the earth (Rev. 11:15).
Peter also lays great stress on the fact that Christ has so completely wrought redemption to God's glory that nothing calls for delay, save the long-suffering of God that is still bringing souls to repentance. Otherwise salvation is “ready” to be revealed “in a last season,” as Christ is “ready to judge living and dead” (1 Pet. 4:5). Both belong to that day of manifestation, when evil shall be put down, and judgment, instead of miscarrying as so often now, shall return to righteousness. Never more shall the throne of wickedness claim fellowship with Jehovah. “For He cometh; for He cometh to judge the earth.” Those who mind earthly things cannot love His appearing, which will establish the new divine order of righteous government wherein Jehovah alone shall be exalted.

Kingdom of God: 7

I could not doubt that this preaching of the kingdom of heaven by the twelve, interrupted by the definite and utter rejection of Christ on the part of Israel, will be resumed in days yet to come, and that it is to this resumed testimony that much of Matt. 10 has its most definite application. See particularly verses 18, 22, and 23, compared with Matt. 24:6, which evidently speaks of the final sins and sorrows of the house of Jacob. The rejection of Christ by Israel has not only made way for the existence of the kingdom of heaven in mystery, but also for a far deeper mystery, viz. the church and its union with its Head in glory. When this is completed by the rapture of the saints, in order to the marriage of the Lamb in heaven, God will resume His dealings with His earthly people Israel, and with the Gentile as such. Witnesses will be raised up to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom to both Jews and Gentiles, and scarcely will they have finished their testimony ere the Son of man shall come. (See Rev. 11; also 14:6, 7.) Any who wish to pursue this subject, I would refer to the papers already published in “The Prospect,” entitled “The Testimony of the End,” and “On the Gospel by Matthew” (particularly the remarks at the close), which throw much light on this deeply interesting inquiry.
In chapter 10:11 John the Baptist is declared by our Lord to be as great as any that had been born of women. The Savior affirms, nevertheless, that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. John had but announced its approach. The least of those who actually enjoy the blessedness of that reign of heaven is in a position more blessed than John's. Our Lord then adds, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence; and the violent take it by force.” Instead of its being an ordered and established system, into which men had been introduced at their birth, and in which all that was required of them was to walk obediently to the laws and ordinances then existing, it was a kingdom preached as at hand, and the question was of entering into it. Such too was the total failure of man under the old system, and the rancorous opposition of his heart to the new kingdom and its accompaniments, that it was only at the risk, or even cost, of everything that any one could enter in. It was only by bursting asunder every tie, doing violence to all the dictates and interests of nature, that any one could enter in. It was grace undoubtedly, that supplied the energy and fortitude thus to hate father, mother, brother, sister, houses, lands, yea, and a man's own life, for Christ's sake; still, this was the way in which grace led a man to act. And those who did not thus value Christ and the kingdom He proclaimed above everything besides, so as to abide the loss of all things for His sake, proved themselves unworthy of it, and failed to enter it.
Matt. 12:28 has been noticed already.
Matt. 13, having been the subject of distinct consideration in a paper proceeding from the pen of one so much better able to expound it (see “The Prospect,” vol. 1, page 121), it requires the less notice here. It is, however, as any one may see, a chapter of the deepest importance in connection with our present subject. Israel's rejection of Messiah being fully manifested in chapter 7, where we find that His brightest miracles were attributed by the Pharisees to Satanic power, our Lord pronounces on them the solemn sentence which closes His statements respecting the unclean spirit gone out of a man and walking in dry places, who in the end returns with seven others worse than himself, so that the last state of such a man is worse than the first. “Even so,” says our Lord, “shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” He further disowns all His natural links of relationship with the Jewish people, all the ties of kindred which, as the seed of David according to the flesh, united Him to them. “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” He inquires. “And he stretched forth his hands toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother, and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” It is immediately after this that He speaks the seven parables, which we find in chapter 8; the whole affording to us full instruction in the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens.
The first parable is not a representation of the kingdom, but of the work by which the kingdom is formed. It is the basis on which all the other parables in the chapter are founded. “Behold, the sower went forth to sow.” Israel had been the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant. (See Isa. 5) But now that all His care in planting and cultivating it was repaid with nothing but wild grapes, He was about to execute the long-threatened judgment, and give it up to the destroyer. Hence it is not now the care of a vineyard, but an entirely new beginning. “The sower went forth to sow.” The details of the parable are well known. The seed falls on four descriptions of ground; in one only does it bring forth fruit. Striking picture of what the various results of the preaching of the word have been! How futile the hope, that because the gospel testimony was to be everywhere proclaimed, universal blessing would be the result! It is true that the Sower went forth to sow. This was not to be confined within the limits, nor to be occupied with the culture, of the Jewish vineyard. Gentiles as well as Jews were to hear the word of the kingdom. Yea, it was to be preached every where. But with what varying results And how small, when compared with the aggregate, the result in blessing! May we hearken to the admonition: “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
The disciples inquire of our Lord His reason for speaking to the multitudes in parables. His answer is most important. “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” He thus declares the period to have arrived which had been long foretold by the prophet Isaiah. “Sanctify Jehovah of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offense, to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon Jehovah that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him” (Isa. 8:13-17).
Surely, Jehovah of hosts was now beginning, in the most definite sense, to hide His face from the house of Jacob, when to the disciples it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, which were hidden from the multitude. “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” Our Lord quotes another prophecy of Isaiah, which was now receiving its accomplishment. “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” These words, quoted from Isa. 6:9, 10, are connected there with what follows. The prophet says, “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” The Savior's quotation from this passage is significant; it decides that this predicted period of Israel's desolation is the period during which the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven have their existence and development.
To the disciples our blessed Lord explains the parable of the sower, and speaks another—that of the wheat and tares. This He gives as a representation of the kingdom of heaven. “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.” I need not quote the parable at length. The Savior explains it also (after speaking two others in the presence of the people) to His disciples. The field, He says, is the world. He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. The tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age. The reapers are the angels.
Let us consider these things for a moment. We have seen in the first parable that though the sowing is universal, the fruit—the result in blessing—is partial and limited. Here, in this second parable, Satan himself turns sower. The field is indeed the world; but the scene of Satan's operations is not here so much the world at large where the seed has been sown, but part of it where the seed has got root and is growing up. It is the introduction, by Satan, of positive evil, where the Son of man had wrought blessing. The good seed here is not the word, It is explained to be “the children of the kingdom.” The tares also are not false doctrines (though it may be by these that Satan works), but evil persons. “The tares are the children of the wicked one.” In a word, what we have here is the corruption of Christianity. And we are assured most definitely that when this effect of Satan's enmity and man's supineness (“while men slept the enemy sowed tares”) has once been accomplished, it will not be set aside till the harvest at the end of the age. Then the tares are to be gathered together first in bundles to be burnt, and the wheat gathered into the barn.
Then there is another point. When the Lord speaks of the tares and the wheat as thus growing together, as they are doing at present, we must view this as representing the condition of things, as a whole, between His first and last coming, without taking into account the fact that, during that time, generation after generation, both of the righteous and wicked, die off—that there is constant succession—incessant fluctuation, altogether different from that from whence the image is borrowed; seeing that, in the natural world, the very same seed that is sown in one month springs up and is reaped in another. But, on the other hand, when we actually come to the time of harvest, then we must lose sight of the past generations, rising and dying one after another, in constant succession, and look alone at the generation alive at that time.
(continued from p. 42)(To be continued, D.V.)

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Hosea to Micah

Does the group of the so-called Minor Prophets differ from all the other component parts of Holy Scripture? Or is each of them characterized by its own special aim, and a peculiar contribution to the sum of divine revelation? Let us examine them, however briefly, one by one, though in time they were gathered for convenience into a single volume by the Jews.
The drift of Hosea, though in style terse and abrupt to obscurity, is sufficiently clear in the main to any attentive believer. He announces in chap. 1 the fall of Jehu's house and of Israel's kingdom, under the symbolic children Jezreel and Loruhamah. A still more awful doom was intimated by Lo-Ammi, when the ruin of Judah should leave Jehovah without a recognizable people. Yet the chapter does not conclude without the assurance, (1) that in the place where Lo-Ammi was said, sons of the living God should be said (which Rom. 9 applies to the call of the Gentile and to privileges higher than Jewish); (2) that the two houses of the divided people shall be gathered together with one head (Messiah without doubt in a day yet to come). Is not this so? 1 Peter 2 applies the end of chap. 2 to the Christian Jews even now. It is plain however that the end of both chapters contemplates as a whole what is not yet in terms fulfilled. Chap. 3 fills up the gap with a graphic sketch of the long interval during which the people abide without privilege, civil or religious, and yet without idolatry, before their blessed restoration at the end of the days. Such is the first section.
The second part is a series of expostulations, entreaties, menaces, and lamentations over the beloved but guilty people, distinguishing the sons of Israel from Judah's in danger; and testifying not only the loss of priestly place as a whole (4:6), but priests, people, princes, all objects of divine displeasure and judgment (chap. 5). Chap. 6 breaks out into a touching appeal, that they might repent; as chap. 7 has to pronounce woe, because even when they howled, they cried not to Jehovah in heart. Chap. 8 therefore is the trumpet blast of coming destruction on Israel and Judah.
Yet in chap. 9 what tender pleading over Ephraim, about to become a wanderer, wherein the prophet was a snare It was no new evil, but since Gibeah: what could be but cutting off Israel's king and the Assyrian their king (chap. 11)? What a contrast with Jacob, as chap. 7 draws out! Nevertheless He declares that He will ransom them from the power of Sheol, and redeem them from death.
Accordingly the last chapter (14) provides words of confession, and of return to Jehovah from iniquities and creature help, with His own blessed and blessing promises, which shall be made good as surely as He spoke them through the prophet.
Joel remarkably differs from the general sweep of Hosea; for he concentrates attention, from a then famine (chap. 1) on the northern army to perish in spite of its menaces between the eastern and the western seas. After that will come not only fullness of outward blessing but the divine Spirit poured out upon all flesh, and in Jerusalem shall be, no ruin nor danger more, but deliverance in every sense (chap. 2). For in those days Jehovah will enter into judgment with all the nations in the valley of Jehoshaphat on account of Israel. The apostle Peter was beyond controversy justified in vindicating the effusion of the Spirit at Pentecost as of this character, and in no wise creaturely excitement (Acts 2:16). But he is far from intimating that it was the fulfillment of the prophecy; which did not contemplate the formation of the church, or the going forth of the gospel to all the creation, but the earthly glories of the Messianic kingdom for Judah and Jerusalem, as shall surely be in due season. So the apostle Paul applies it in Rom. 10, to the salvation of Jew or Gentile now, stopping short of citing the promised deliverance in mount Zion and in Jerusalem.
Who can fail to discriminate the work assigned to the herdman or sheep-master Amos of Tekoa? No competent person can deny the beauty and force of his style or the fresh originality with which he pronounces Jehovah's punishment on the nations which surround His people, and the surprising fact that Judah and Israel fall under it also (chaps. 1:2). Indeed chap. 3 lets them together learn that, because they were known as none else, therefore He should visit them for their iniquities. But He would do nothing without revealing it to His servants the prophets. Do professing Christians believe either of those words of His? “Hear this word” begins 3, 4 & 5, all of them warnings to His guilty people, whose false worship was the mother sin of all other sins. Chap. 6 is a woe on their self-security and luxury, like Gentiles who know not God. Now would the Lord Jehovah, who repented of destroying judgments at the prophet's intercession, take the measuring-line in hand and desolate the people and king (chap. 7), as in chap. 8 the end is shown coming on Israel, and the land darkened in the clear day. Chap. 9 reveals the Lord standing (not on a wall) but on the altar for judgment still more overwhelming. Yet, while He declares that He will shake the house of Israel to and fro among all the nations, He says not the least grain shall fall. Nay more, He will raise up David's fallen tabernacle, and build it as in days of old to the downfall of their spiteful foes; He will pour on them earthly blessing without stint; and when He plants them in those days on their land, they shall no more be plucked up. These glorious realities await repentant Israel.
Obadiah calls for few words, not only because it is so short, but because its distinctive aim is most unmistakable. Edom is the object before him, and the judgment which the Lord Jehovah would inflict on its jealous and rancorous hatred of His chosen people. Their pride had deceived them; their fastnesses should not screen them: Jehovah will bring them down. Their boasted wisdom is in vain, as well as their might. Their malice was aggravated, as against “thy brother Jacob,” and “in the day of his disaster.” But in the day of Jehovah upon all the nations shall be deliverance on mount Zion, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. Can anything be plainer than the specialty of our prophet? or that he looks onward to the triumphs of the last days, when saviors shall come upon mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau, but the kingdom shall be Jehovah's in a form and fullness never yet known on the earth?
He who does not see Jonah's distinctive place must have singularly little teaching. Indeed it is himself or what befell him that is the prophetical sign, though the prophetic message, short as it is, must strike us as addressed to the Gentiles in Nineveh. The history is a great and instructive type throughout; and this is no mere idea but truth taught by our Lord.
Chap. 1 tells us of Jonah charged to cry against the great city because of its wickedness. Strange to say, he a true prophet flees west when bidden to go east. But Jehovah sent a mighty tempest on the ship sailing to Tarshish; and Jonah slept below, while the mariners cried each to his god, and vainly struggled on. At length they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah, who, as they knew, fled from Jehovah's presence, and he frankly bade them cast him overboard as their only safety. This reluctantly and with prayer to Jehovah they did; and the sea ceased from raging to their deeper fear, which issued in a sacrifice to Him and vows. But Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, who was in its belly three days and nights, the sign of Christ (Matt. 12).
There he prayed as in chap. 2 owning salvation to be of Jehovah, who commanded the fish to vomit out Jonah on the dry land. And the word of Jehovah came to him the second time, bidding him to go and preach to Nineveh what He should say. Jonah both despised the Gentiles, and feared that Jehovah might repent Him of judgment if they sought His mercy; and where then would be the glory of a prophet of Israel, when his Yea became Nay? The figure of death and resurrection opens the door of grace to the lost. If Christ for the time be lost to the Jew who rejected Him, grace works to save Gentiles. Jonah does his errand now (chap. 3); and they repent at his preaching from the king downward, the very beasts covered with sackcloth being denied food and drink that they might cry out; and God repented of what He threatened.
This even now Jonah revealed (chap. 4) and wished to die rather than his word should fail and Nineveh abide. But here was the truth so needed by Israel as well as Jonah. Hence the gourd, that sprang up under the hand of Jehovah Elohim to shelter the narrow-hearted and self-occupied prophet, withered under the worm He prepared to this end, so that Jonah fainted under the heat, and again wished to die. Then said Jehovah, Thou hast pity on the gourd... and I, should not I have pity on Nineveh, the great city, wherein are more than 120,000 persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” Yes, He is the God of all grace, the God not of Jews only but of Gentiles also, whose mercies as the faithful Creator are over all His works. What Jew, what Rabbi, had ever allowed such a book within the sacred canon, if God had not written it for the purpose?
Next comes a still more brilliant seer: the word of Jehovah that came to Micah the Morasthite, a contemporary of Isaiah, concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. It is composed of three chief divisions, ushered in by a call to listen, “Hear, ye peoples, all of you; hearken, O earth, and all that is therein” (1:2); “And I said, Hear, I pray you, ye heads of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel” (3:1); and “Hear ye now what Jehovah saith,” &c. (6:1). Can the least discerning of believers fail to apprehend its distinctive character?
It opens with the imminent fall of the northern kingdom because of its transgression, but goes on to the punishment of Judah also and Jerusalem. “Of late my people is risen up as an enemy.” “Arise ye, and depart; for this is not the rest, because of defilement that destroyeth, even a grievous destruction” (chap. 2:8, 10). The people and their prophets were alike wicked and rebellious. As chap. 1 has a predictive sketch of the Assyrian foe coming against Jerusalem, so does the end of chap. 2 present Him Who will effectuate Jehovah's purpose of deliverance and blessing for the remnant of Israel at the end.
In the next section he appeals to the chiefs, warning them against the prophets that cause Jehovah's people to err. If they cried, Peace, without a vision or light from God, Micah could say that he was filled with power by the Spirit of Jehovah to declare unto Jacob his transgression and unto Israel his sin. Heads, priests, prophets were only building up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with unrighteousness, while veiling iniquity under the privilege of His name. Zion and Jerusalem should come to utter desolation (chap. 3:9, 12). But this is followed in chap. 4 by the glowing picture with which Isaiah begins his chap. 2. Only Micah, instead of going on to the overwhelming judgment of the day of Jehovah as there, predicts the going to Babylon as Isaiah does in his chap. 39. Thence he turns to the closing scenes where many nations gather against Zion, which is told to arise and thresh many peoples: judgment awaiting its sure fulfillment, when the first or former dominion shall come to her.
This gives occasion for announcing a still deeper reason for putting off blessing and the giving up His people for a season. Awful to think and say, they should smite the Judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek (chap. 5:1)! And a parenthesis reveals Him born at Bethlehem, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. His rejection was their own rejection, till God's counsel comes to birth; when the residue of His brethren, instead of merging in the church of God as now, shall return unto the children of Israel, and the kingdom be displayed in power and glory before all the world. And the prospect is beautifully described to the end of this part.
The third section is a most affecting call to hear Jehovah's controversy with His people, in spite of His goodness to them from the beginning and through the wilderness into Canaan. It is not offerings but righteousness He values. In the face of iniquity, deceit, and violence, of family bonds turned to enmity all the more evil and destructive, the prophet waits on Jehovah with confidence of deliverance and vindication. And he looks through the desolation that must intervene because of Israel's sins to the restitution of all things in the latter day, when the nations shall be ashamed of all their might, and lick the dust. “Who is a God like Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again and have mercy upon us; He will tread under foot our iniquities. And Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the seas. Thou wilt perform truth to Jacob, loving kindness to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (chap. 7:18-20). In denying God's faithfulness to Israel and monopolizing the earthly promises, Babylon has shown herself, as in all else, faithless to the true place of His church, in present and future glory with Christ.

Work for the Lord

The simple inquiry, recorded as the first utterance of Paul to our Lord (“Lord, what wilt thou have me do?”) is the duty and expression of every one distinctly awakened to the claim Christ has on him. This inquiry cannot be too earnestly instituted, and the reply to it rigidly attended to. The inquiry is the offspring of a soul sensible that the Lord has entire and full claim on me, without the knowledge which authorizes it. The soul feels “I am taken out of the world, and I am given to Christ, and hence I look to Him for my place and future occupation in it.” If we are given to Christ “out of the world,” it is evident that it is He alone who has the right to determine our way and course in the world.
I could not say, if I believe that I am given to Him “out of the world,” that I have any right to re-occupy any place or engagement which I had previously held in the world. True, He does not require or permit me to infringe on any legal lord under whom I was held before I was given to Him. But, excepting where the rights of others would be compromised, I am Christ's bondman. Vested legal rights are not to be compromised, because of my being given to Christ. But I am Christ's bondman; and necessarily if I am, both from duty and inclination, my inquiry ought to be, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
The more I own and realize the relationship between us which now exists through grace, the more simply and continuously will this be my whole-hearted cry to Him. Now if it is, I will of course accede and attend to whatever He may intimate to me, and this only. That is, the heart true and devoted to Him, making this request, will wait on Him for guidance and counsel. It would find no real satisfaction in being anywhere or doing anything which was not according to His mind. Our place and our occupation here would be only determined by the pleasure of Him whose we are and whom we serve. Any departure from the tie or rule of this relationship would sensibly interfere with the mutual satisfaction therein known. There would be a break in upon, and a disturbance of, the true order of life, and the blessings connected with it.
Nothing so simple and nothing so important in our walk down here! I belong to Christ, and I find it His pleasure and my happiness to do nothing but as He desires and instructs me. I live where He likes, and I do what He likes. If we did this, there would be no mistakes one side or the other. But we do make mistakes on both sides: on one side at one time, and on another side at another time. At one we plan out work for ourselves; and at another we do none at all.
Now the first is the most difficult to deal with, simply because the counterfeit deceives one; and hence, while it is comparatively easy to convict the Martha that she is unwisely occupied, the work seems so right and necessary, that it appears almost impossible that there could be any plan in it. Nothing so deceives and leads astray as the conscience working at a distance from Christ. For instance, if I feel in my conscience that I ought to be Christ's servant (true enough, I am His bondman); but if I am not near Him, if I am not in His confidence, and I begin to do something to satisfy my conscience, there is no doubt I am doing it legally, and not as simply suits Him. It is to make myself easy and satisfied. When this is the case, I do not consult what He would like me, to do, but I do what I think best to be done. It is not His pleasure guides me; it is my own mind, as to what is suitable and proper. It may be quite necessary, as Martha's service; but Martha was evidently thinking of the services which were incumbent on her to render, and not governed by the pleasure of Christ.
Here is where we fail, undertaking to serve where it is in a degree creditable to ourselves, or we get disappointed (if we are true-hearted) because we have not the acknowledgment of His pleasure. How can He acknowledge what we have undertaken and done to satisfy our own conscience, and to please ourselves therein? It is evident that when I am occupied with services (however useful and necessary, which I have undertaken of myself, feeling that they devolved upon me), that I must lose the sense of His presence. Sitting at His feet, Mary-like, is lost and neglected. There is no growth of soul up into Christ. Self is in the service from beginning to end. It is most blessed to work for Christ, it is fruit-bearing; but if my work engrosses me more than Christ, there is damage to me, and I am not working for Him. “Without Me ye can do nothing.” If I am really working for Christ, and growing up into Him, sitting at His feet is the natural posture of my soul. Whenever you find any one serving without sitting at His feet, you may be assured they are Martha-like. When any are sitting at His feet, hearing His word, they will not be behind in true and pleasing service.
If you begin with serving (as many do now-a-days), you will never sit at His feet; whereas if you begin with sitting there, you will soon serve wisely, well, and acceptably. The serving quiets the conscience, and the sitting is overlooked and neglected. The enemy gains an advantage; for it is at the sitting the conscience is more enlightened, and the pleasure and mind of the Master are better known. Hence there is damage done, and loss is sustained by the soul, when service pre-occupies one to the exclusion of sitting at His feet, or where service is most prominent.
I never met with any one making service prominent who knew what it was to sit at His feet. But, thank God, I know indefatigable workers who enjoy sitting at His feet above any service. And it is clear that they who sit most at His feet must be competent to serve, and most in His confidence, which after all is the clue to all efficient service. J.N.D.
Courtesy of BibleTruthPublishers.com. Most likely this text has not been proofread. Any suggestions for spelling or punctuation corrections would be warmly received. Please email them to: BTPmail@bibletruthpublishers.com.

Fallen Angels: Review

The title of this strange book is given below, enough to indicate its folly, though written by an educated man without faith or the fear of God. Think of any one seriously, and in his very preface, citing Byron, “What are we, and whence come we? What shall be our ultimate existence? What is our present?—are questions answerless, and yet incessant.” Like the volume generally, it is the issue of Egyptian darkness. The Bible answers every one of these questions with unerring certainty, at least for all who believe in Christ, Whom the anonymous author levels to our plane, though owning Him perfect, and asks, “why should we not also have lived before! like our Type”? and why should we not ascend to heaven? Citing John 3:13, he has no scruple in contradicting scripture when he asks, Is not this saying true with regard to Enoch and Elijah? A believing child ought to know that they were caught up. But Christ alone “went up” in His indefeasible title, He only as He says Himself. But what is this to unbelief?
So again he speculates that man sinned before he was born, “and that that alone can account for the statement that we were born in sin!” Was there ever greater infatuation Adam and Eve were not born at all, still less born in sin; but having sinned before being parents, they transmitted the taint to the race. This is a fact that explains the truth to all believers. God created an innocent pair, who did sin and left the sad heirloom to their children. Can anything be simpler or more satisfactory? Not men as such, but believers are called “pilgrims” in scripture. The faithless are of the world, and at home on the earth.
What matters that which Pythagoras and others fancied? or the fathers dazzled by them? What of Buddha or Brahma? John Milton was an Arian, and much injured by heathen ideas. What worth or weight is due to mere poets on such a theme? And how unworthy to cite J. S. Mill's blasphemy, asking if his conclusion is unnatural?
In chap. 9 we come to the point: “Why should it be regarded as preposterous that we should be descended from angels—now children, as it were, of our former selves?” Does not the author know that the only scripture, which is believed by many grave and intelligent Christians to reveal such an abnormal departure from the divine landmarks, is Gen. 6 confirmed by the allusions of 2 Peter 2 and Jude? and that this frightful anomaly, root and fruit, disappeared in the Deluge? But it is truly preposterous to imagine that our souls have any such source. Gen. 2 attributes the soul of Adam, and consequently of the human race, to the direct inbreathing of Jehovah Elohim. Of man only is this written; and thereon depends the immortality of his soul. See in Prov. 8 the specialty of man's place as the delight of Wisdom, Himself Jehovah's delight for all eternity. And what a comment on it is the Incarnate Word, the Life Eternal, and the Light of men! This accounts for the divine interest in man and the earth to God's glory.
It is not true that “the one absolute definition of the Almighty, self-existent, supreme Being is, that he is Love.” The apostle John, who beyond all treats of this, is careful in 1 John 1 to report to us that He is Light. It is only in chap. 4 of the same Epistle that he tells us He is Love. Light is the essential purity of His nature, which makes everything and one manifest; Love is rather the energy of His nature, which goes out in active goodness. To leave out Light is to conceive a false god who can let off sin and sinners easily, not the True Self-existent One, Who is Love also. Christ is His image in both respects, as He was and is very God, no less than the Father and the Holy Spirit.
False utterly is it that the Lord Jesus is “the Brother of the fallen angels “: surely a shameless speaking for God, without warrant of scripture, nay against it. For it is expressly shown in Heb. that on the one hand, since the children were partakers of blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner took part in the same, and that on the other, He does not take up angels but takes up the seed of Abraham (or the children spoken of, those who believe). Hence He became man to die for men; He did not become an angel to die for angels. The grace of God appeared accordingly that brings salvation to all men, though unavailing if they believe not; but not a word of God speaks of salvation for angels. The holy angels do not need it; the fallen ones await their everlasting doom. They were not tempted like man and have no Savior, no Mediator, like Christ Jesus a Man.
It is mere recklessness to affirm that angels and men are of the same family, or to infer it from angels being called men, as appearing in human guise. Can anything be more a fallacy than that the two appellations are used indifferently? How absurd to reason, from Satan's being called “the god of this age,” that we must be “of his kind”! But enough: has not a book so baseless and wild received sufficient notice? The anonymous writer is not one of the fallen angels. The door of repentance is still open for him (as we may thank God), not for them.

Intermediate State

Dr. Sanderson imputes untruth to a fixed state at death, and hence to two classes only. He retrogrades like not a few to pre-reformation error, now rampant among Ritualists. The error is deeper still; for it is to reject the Lord's teaching e.g. in Luke 16:19-26. It is therefore infidel as to the full light of Christianity. The resurrection and the judgment-seat of Christ have their own importance; but the blessedness of the faithful and the wretched and suffering state of the wicked at death are none the less true, because more awaits the coming of the Lord Jesus. It is a crass mistake that paradise is not in heaven, and that the spirits of the Lord and of the converted robber did not go there when disembodied. Ascension means the Lord going up in body, as well as in spirit and soul. It is certain from Rev. 2:7 that paradise is also the scene of future glory after resurrection. The giving of crowns is only in “that day.” Every saint departs to be with Christ. Even Dr. S. does not dare to dispute where He is and sits on His Father's throne. His book, of which it is the main object to treat this truth as untruth, convicts himself of deplorable ignorance under the garb of uncommon pretension and real contempt for the revealed truth of the gospel. Such men know neither the total ruin of those who refuse to receive Christ, nor the present deliverance of all who believe on Him. Like the Romanists, they prefer the dimness, uncertainty, and doubts, characterizing a quasi-intermediate state between faith and unbelief. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.

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Isaac: 18. Abraham Dead and Isaac Blessed

Gen. 25:7-11
We have seen the death of Sarah followed by the call of the bride. It was no longer to be “our mother,” free as she was, but the type of the church, the Lamb's wife. The dead and risen Heir of all things has a spouse called out from the world and brought into that which figures the heavenlies. The mystery or secret is great, says the apostle, “but I speak as to Christ, and as to the church,” its two parts. Though the grace and the glory were intrinsically His only, yet are we called all the more to rejoice; for we delight that the worth is His alone, and this gives all our security to God's glory.
Now we have another weighty and honored link of the past removed.
“And these [are the] days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, a hundred years and seventy years and five years. And Abraham expired and died in a good old age, an old man and full, and was gathered to his people. And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in Ephron's field, son of Zohar the Hittite, which [is] before Mamre, the field which Abraham bought of the sons of Heth: there was buried Abraham, and Sarah his wife. And it came to pass after Abraham's death that God blessed Isaac his son; and Isaac dwelt at Beerlahai-roi” (vers. 7-11).
Here it is the depositary of promise who departs this life. For many years what had there been of divine moment to record? He was given, comparatively long before, a great place in sending his servant, honored and trusted in the highest degree, to call and conduct the God-appointed bride for his son. And the son was not only in a new standing since the day of Moriah but exclusively associated with the heavenly land. Promise now, like covenant before, fades away before the brighter light of the mystery and its special relationship. The progenitors of many nations who had Abraham as their father as to the flesh were born, owned, given suitable gifts, and while he lived sent away, that Isaac might abide the undisputed heir of all that he had. Now in a good old age Abraham too must expire and die. The new things were to receive their honor without a rival.
Little is said of Abraham's funeral, save to mark the link with Sarah's grave, of which the Holy Spirit made so much in chap. 23. It had its just place for loving remembrance. Faith looks onward to the true hope for “the elders” also. It is the resurrection from out of the dead, which will be the portion of all the righteous departed. Groundless is the unbelief which imagined them in gloom, insensibility, or any other lack, unworthy of His grace Who watched in love over their feeble pilgrimage for His name here below. The love of Him Who in due time became flesh and died for their sins and ascended on high in resurrection life was no transient thing but eternal. Still their resurrection at His coming, so as to be not only with Him but like Him where He is, will be a blessed accession for them as well as for Him to God's praise; and for this they wait in assured hope and full of glory.
As things were, there could be no spiritual sympathy between Isaac and the others who boasted to be of Abraham's seed. But it is here told us that “Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah,” in the field Abraham had purchased of Ephron, where Sarah lay already. The son of the bondmaid was in no way forbidden thus to honor his parent. “Cast out” he must be and was in presence of the child of promise; yet fleshly relationship has its place, and the son of the free in no way disputes it, but is gracious. The feelings of the two before God may have been as widely different as spirit and flesh, by which they were respectively characterized; but there at least around the grave they were together in the sorrow of bereavement, and in loving memory of him who was gathered to his people, “the friend of God.”
The conclusion of the statement here vouchsafed is that after this God blessed Isaac, the son of the deceased patriarch; and that he dwelt at Beer-lahai-roi, the well of the living one that seeth me. Thus Isaac left alone (of the fellow-heirs before him of the same promise) has this marked distinction—God blessing him: a precious reality in a world of curse through sin; and this not in the general form which was extended to those that sprang from Abraham, but as the heir. But there is the remarkable fact noted that he dwelt at the spot first designated by a fountain of water in the wilderness, where Hagar was found of Jehovah's angel, who told her of Ishmael's birth and singular destiny. Indeed He is a God that sees, as surely as He lives. But how different the path which awaited Ishmael and Isaac Here Jehovah heard Hagar's affliction; here God blessed Isaac, already blessed on a still higher plane and with better blessings in hope.

Priesthood: 11. Priest to Be Above Excitement

The Priest to Be Above Excitement. Lev. 10:8-11
We have seen how the priest is called to respect the presence of God supremely, even if death touch ever so closely: Jehovah will be hallowed in those that come near Him. None can enjoy this privilege without the obligation it involves. Not only is sense of bereavement allowed, but bewailing is enjoined on all others even where it was the evident stroke of Gad. For He abides in His own majesty above sin and its effects; and those chosen to minister in the sanctuary must yield witness to that nearness by their bearing according to His will.
They were no less warned against all natural excitement in the performance of their proper functions. Permissible at other times, it is strictly precluded from the sanctuary. The injunction is remarkable as the first to Aaron after his consecration.
“And Jehovah spoke to Aaron, saying, Thou shalt not drink wine nor strong drink, thou nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tent of meeting, lest ye die: an everlasting statute throughout your generations, and that ye may put difference between the holy and the unholy, and between the unclean and the clean, and that ye may teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which Jehovah hath spoken to them by the hand of Moses” (vers. 8-11).
Literal as the prohibition was to Aaron and his house, it has of course a large and momentous meaning figuratively to the Christian. “Wine and strong drink” cover the wide circle of all incentives to fleshly exhilaration. The most refined are as much proscribed as the gross, and manifold are its kinds which lie between. The first man in his evil or its consequences, its sorrows or its joys, has no right to intrude into the sanctuary.
There is One, and but One, Who suits God's presence; but He is the Second man. It is the offering of Himself for us which fits us for it. His sacrifice is our sole, our sufficient, and our perfect title to draw near; and this is most pleasing to the God Who gave and sent Him expressly for this end, though for others worthy of both. Therefore God would have us filled with His praise when we thus approach. Have we not boldness to enter into the holies in virtue of the blood of Jesus, a new and living way which He dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh? Nor this only; for we have Himself there, a great priest over the house of God. We have thus the same object of delight as our God and Father. What communion! The Holy Spirit too, Who beareth witness with our spirit that we are His children, is our power of worship; as it is written, we worship by God's Spirit, and boast in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in flesh (Phil. 3:3). Does He not abide in and with us forever for this as for all else? It is heavenly joy.
But for this very reason fleshly pleasure, human gratification, earthly satisfaction, natural joy, all that answers spiritually to the effect of wine or strong drink on those who thus indulge, is abhorrent to God's presence. There is, there ought to be, joy in the Holy Spirit. And so the Ephesian saints were exhorted to be filled with the Spirit, speaking to themselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with their heart to the Lord, giving thanks at all times for all things to the God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. God cannot but be jealous that the Holy Spirit be honored here as Christ is on high; and the Spirit is here to glorify Christ. Yet praise should be holy.
But it is easy to be excited by a multitude keeping holiday, by a grand building with religious associations, by music pathetic or overpowering, to say nothing of the display of wealth, rank, or fame. Even if one begin in the Spirit, how readily one may slight the divine thanksgiving and praise by admiration of the singing or even the music Fine appeals may be a feast to the taste, and eloquence may fire the spirit; but these excitements, what are they but veritable drafts of wine and strong drink? They are alien to the sanctuary and forbidden.
Nor is this only aimed at, but its consequence. The priests were charged to “put difference between the holy and the unholy, and between the unclean and the clean.” No doubt here was a question of meats and drinks, of ordinances of flesh, as Heb. 9, 10 calls them in (accordance with Israel's standing as an outwardly holy people). Equally sure is it that we as Christians are sanctified by the Spirit to obedience and sprinkling of Christ's blood, which imports a far deeper and higher holiness typified thereby. Excitement would unfit for spiritual discrimination. Practical life would thus be ruined as well as worship. It was not so that the apostle sought the Corinthians, as he tells us in 1 Cor. 2. Nor did he gratify Athenian vanity by his appeal in Acts 17 but spoke to conscience.
So here we see the type pursued in this abstinence, “that ye may teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which Jehovah hath spoken to them by the hand of Moses.” Still more is spiritual abstraction needed for the vast and profound range of Christian truth.

Proverbs 9:7-12

THE chapter began with wisdom, or the wise woman; the Holy Spirit turns aside to point out how disappointing it is to instruct the scorner—a very aggravated form of evil, though increasingly common as Christendom hastens in its unbelief and moral ruin to judgment.
“He that correcteth a scorner getteth to himself shame; and he that reproveth a wicked [man], a blot to himself. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; reprove a wise [man], and he will love thee. Impart to a wise [man], and he will become yet wiser; teach a righteous [man], and he will increase learning. The fear of Jehovah [is] the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy [is] understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and years of life shall be added to thee. If thou art wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself; and [if] thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear [it]” (vers. 7-12).
Every scripture, we know, is not more surely God-inspired than profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for discipline that is in righteousness; but we need wisdom to apply it. Faith needs not only the word but the God Who gave it to direct the heart and mouth livingly; and for this we have by grace the Holy Spirit's guidance. So the apostle commended those who watched over souls to God, as well as to the word of His grace. While the simple and unintelligent are invited, the foolish must be shunned and the way of understanding followed. Then freely we are warned against meddling with the scorner. To correct such is vain: they willingly put on you shame. Let them alone, said the Lord to the disciples. You may only gain a blot in reproving a wicked person. They have a deeper need—to be born again. Where no life is, hatred is the result. There is no wisdom in reproving a scorner, more than in giving that which is holy to the dogs or in casting your pearls before the swine. The upshot may be that they will trample the misdirected word under their feet, and turn and rend you.
Now the Christian has the gospel to urge on the heedless; but this is the glad tidings of what God has done in Christ for him, wicked as he may be, to bring him to Himself. Thus all is harmonious. Correction and reproof are for those who have an ear to hear, that they walk not inconsistently with their profession. Hence we are told here to “reprove a wise man, and he will love thee.” A wise man may not always pursue the path of wisdom; he may need reproof. A fool is one who never hears, though always ready to find fault. A wise man listens and weighs; when he recognizes what is of God, he will love you.
Another thing which distinguishes wisdom is the appreciation of what is good and helpful. Egoism is necessarily unwise and evil, because man is sinful, and God is unknown and untrusted. It is self-satisfied and refuses to learn, having no distrust of its own dark, selfish, and sinful state. On the other hand, “impart to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase learning.” It is not the great that are wise, nor does age of itself understand judgment. Every good giving, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with Whom can be no variation nor shadow of turning. Dependence on God is our only right attitude habitually, and hearing from one another what approves itself to our conscience as His truth; for we are members of one another, and He despiseth not any, let him be ever so lowly. But He hateth the proud and will punish the scorner.
The secret of it all is plain. “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” Creature intelligence is of no value for the soul, for eternity, for relationship with God. It begins, and must begin with fearing Him, the True and the Good, the Righteous and the Holy. There is repentance no less than faith, and therefore trembling at His word, the direct reverse of judging it and trusting in self, justifying ourselves instead of God. But growth belongs to life in our present condition; and growth is by the right knowledge of God, Who has communicated it in His word for this purpose, The Christian readily knows why “Holy” should be in the plural, without allowing that it means “holy things.” The knowledge of such things is not the intelligence that grows from the enlarging knowledge of God.
The pious Jew addressed looked for long life here below through divine favor. As things were, much might come in to modify this, as we see in Josiah and many another. But when divine principles have their just and unimpeded result, every word will be fulfilled, as when Christ reigns over all the earth. We Christians have a far different calling now and look for a higher glory. Nevertheless we can say and do believe that piety is profitable for everything, having promise of life, of the present one, and of that to come.
It remains true also that “if thou art wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself; and if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.” God remains in changeless majesty; but in His righteous judgment, each shall bear his own burden, and reap as he sows, from the flesh corruption, from the Spirit life everlasting.

Matthew 11:28

These are not the words of a mere man, but rather of One, Who, however lowly, always spoke as befitted Him, Who is both God and man. They are in short the words of a divine Person speaking with divine authority. There are no words like them save His own, search where we will in the records of antiquity. And it is needless to say that the same may be asserted of the sayings of all moderns. No doubt we are in less danger of overestimating those who have lived near our own time, with whose foibles too we are perhaps somewhat acquainted. Such do not loom large to the imagination through the mists of time. But for all their detachment from our familiar scrutiny, and our consequent tendency to put the very highest value on their words, no statements of the great men of old can match, nay, even approach, the divine definiteness, the calm majesty, of our Savior's utterances. It is not that poets and philosophers, particularly the poets, did not say wise and true things sometimes; but obviously their whole attitude was different. Their language was speculative, tentative, and unauthoritative, whenever it went beyond a doubtless often eloquent lamentation over man's impotence.
Such were not our blessed Lord's words. Nay, while it is undoubtedly true that the writings of a Paul or a Peter or a John are, as parts of scripture and inspired by the Holy Ghost, equally authoritative, at the same time every believer must feel the peculiar charm that attaches to the words of our Lord, even over the rest of the Bible. One might add too that the peculiar solemnity of His warnings must be similarly felt. In truth, whether it be words of gracious entreaty or of solemn warning, all is, so to speak, “raised to the highest power,'' if one may be permitted a mathematical expression. “Never man spake like this man.” Hence the exceeding perplexity of such as cannot but own the majesty of our Lord's words, but yet refuse to bow to Him as God manifest in the flesh. Hence the appellation of “Enigma of the ages” that some thinker has given to Him. No enigma is He to those that believe, that acknowledge Him to be “the true God and eternal life.” Rather is it an enigma that men should hear such words, should be told of such a Savior, and not bow to Him Truly life itself is an enigma apart from Him. He alone unlocks the mystery of what a great poet called “this unintelligible world.” He proves Himself, as one as said, the true key because it fits every ward of the lock. He also lights up what were otherwise so dark, and “makes life a lucid story.”
Now nowhere are our Lord's words loftier than in this very verse. He holds language that no mere man might dare adopt. I am aware that an able writer, recently deceased, whittled down the words to mean a mere receipt for taking life calmly as if Christ had said, “Take life as I do; do not worry; do not resent circumstances.” No doubt all this will result practically in proportion as the Christian follows his Master, and takes His yoke upon him. But it is absurd as well as profane so to limit the meaning of this sublime appeal. Nay, it is a divine call as serious as it is gracious and blessed: blessed for him, who accepts; most serious for such as refuse. Remark that we have not here so much the divine Mediator. Indeed that all-important function of the Lord Jesus, so infinitely august, and the basis of all, is not the special point; but our Lord bids the weary and heavy-laden to come to Himself. “Come unto Me.” For to come to Him was to come to God. The whole meaning is there. And so He goes on, “And I will give you rest.” There is a special emphasis on the “I,” impossible so to give in English save by the living voice, but which by a simple device of language, familiar to every scholar, is apparent in the Greek original. There is the same stress, eight times, I think, repeated, in the well-known “Sermon on the mount,” where the Lord contrasts the limited spirituality of the Mosaic dispensation with His, with God's, uncompromising holiness.
The details of the gospel are not here of course. Cavilers, alas! have not been slow in trying to represent apostolic doctrine as an after-thought, and as not in the mind of Christ. Never was there a greater mistake or a more serious one. The answer is simple. I give it in the words of an able divine, “Christ did not come so much to preach the gospel; He came that there might be a gospel to preach.” R. B.

Gospel Words: Fish and the Temple Tax

Matt. 17:24-27
What had the Lord said in John 8? It is the Son only Who, being free in the highest sense, sets free those who are His disciples abiding in His word. All else, however boastful, are but slaves of sin, the lowest of all slavery. The slave passes; the son abides forever; but this he derives solely from the eternal Son, though not without faith in the truth which He in grace tells out, as indeed He was it and came that we might hear and receive it. “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
So here what ineffable grace “Lest we cause them to stumble, go unto the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and having opened its mouth, thou wilt find a shekel: that take and give to them for me and thee.”
Now it is His omnipotence that is proved; for what else could make itself forthwith obeyed by a fish passing through the paths of the sea? Who but God in man could or would have caused it to rise to Peter's hook with a silverling in its mouth of the exact amount for the temple? Whom but the Son did it befit to say in His grace, lest we cause them to stumble"... give to them for me and for thee”? The grand truth is breaking through the clouds of a self-destroying Israel and Judaism, that the Son was emptying and humbling Himself, not only to rescue, but to associate with Himself every one that believes in Him. What grace!
This association, as the gospel tells, is based not only on the divine glory of His person, but on the accomplishment of an everlasting redemption. This He found, as Heb. 9 declares, by His own blood. And as it is attested by His ascension glory, so it is the glad message sent to you, my dear reader, if you have not already received it unto salvation. This, and no less, it bears, and, on God's authority and in His love, assures to every sinner who repents and believes the gospel. God is thus honoring His Son, as well He may; for He and He alone perfectly glorified Him, even as to sin on the cross, as before in all respects.
Oh! persevere not in that unbelief which is the most radical and hateful of all evils. Listen no more to the ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan: why die the second death? Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: are you so infatuated as to prefer the pleasures of sin for a season, and make shipwreck for eternity? Can it be that you turn a deaf ear to Him Who suffered once for all for sins, and will not come to Him that you may have life?
The New Testament presents no miracle more striking and instructive than the one before us. Its place too in the First Gospel and there only is precisely appropriate, if the Holy Spirit meant here to bring out the divine glory of Christ, along with His grace in associating the believer with Himself; when, rejected as He is by the Jews, the church and the kingdom of the heavens should replace the things even promised by new things.
“And when they came unto Capernaum, those that receive the half-shekels came to Peter and said, Doth not your teacher pay the half-shekels? He saith, Yea. And when he entered into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? The kings of the earth, from whom do they receive toll or tribute? from their sons or from other folk? He (or, Peter) saith to him, From other folk. Jesus said to him, Well then the sons are free. But lest we cause them to stumble, go unto the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and having opened its mouth, thou wilt find a shekel: that take and give to them for me and thee” (vers. 24-27).
Peter, like most disciples and like all naturally, was slow to distrust himself and to wait on the Lord and His word. He was quick, being zealous for the law, to assure those who took the redemption money (not the tax-gatherers so repulsive to Jewish feeling) that his Master was the same. He did not when questioned bear in mind, either what the Father had revealed to Him of the Lord's personal dignity (chap. 14), or of the glory conferred on Him for the coming kingdom (chap. 17): Jesus was too good an Israelite to neglect the heave-offering to Jehovah, the atonement for the soul! Peter forgot that Jesus was the true temple of God and the true God of the temple; he knew not yet that the visible temple was doomed, as ready to vanish away. He still savored the things that are of men.
The Lord therefore anticipated him on entering the house by the question, From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? from their sons, or from other folk? He could not but answer, From other folk; and the Lord rejoined that therefore the sons are free.
The Lord had just shown His omniscience, as He showed every creature subject to Him. He proved to Peter that He knew what had not reached His ear. He graciously corrects His servant's mistake and leads him once more into the truth. He was God, the Son, equally with the Father and the Holy Spirit; but He speaks and acts in perfect grace; as indeed otherwise where could Peter or we be? He says, Then are the sons free. On Him, Who alone is the Son eternally in personal right and title, depends the blessedness of the sons. We are by grace sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, not Peter only but now, once Jews or Gentiles, all God's sons, all one in Christ Jesus; and because sons, God sent out the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that each can hear, Thou art no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

1 Peter 1:6-7

Thus the new life imparted, as abundant as the mercy that begot us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from out of the dead, has a result no less worthy of the God and Father of our Lord. It is for an inheritance incorruptible in itself, undefiled by evil, and unfading in its beauty. It is not on earth as Israel looks for their portion, but reserved in heaven for saints who in their weakness are being guarded in the midst of difficulties and dangers through faith unto salvation, founded on a sacrifice even now accepted, and therefore ready to be revealed, even for the body, in a last season which will manifest the grand purpose of God.
The Apostle now turns to the marked and peculiar characteristic of Christianity which stands contrasted with the hopes of Israel: the co-existence of exceeding joy, whilst passing through keen sorrow of ever so varied kinds. It will not be thus, when Jehovah reigns, the world is stablished that it cannot be moved, and He judges the peoples with equity; when all creation is in harmony, the heavens glad, the earth rejoicing, the sea and its fullness loudly responsive, the field and all that is therein exulting, and the very trees of the wood singing for joy (Psa. 96). While the Lord Jesus abides hidden on high, the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now, though its earnest expectation waits for the revealing of the sons of God (Rom. 8); as their revealing depends on the manifestation of the Lord (Col. 3).
Then, and not before, will come the restitution of all things (Acts 3), when God who sent Jesus the first time for the redemption (by blood) of His heirs will send Him again for redemption (by power) of the inheritance, both heavenly and earthly (Eph. 1:10). Then Zion shall never more taste sorrow or shame; and stiff-necked rebellious Israel shall be meek under Jehovah and David their king, their backsliding healed, themselves loved freely, when He will be as the dew to them (Hos. 3:14), and they in the midst of many peoples as dew from Him, as showers upon the grass, a blessing that tarries not for man nor waits for the sons of men (Mic. 5).
But though by faith we behold Jesus, Who has been made a little lower than angels on account of the suffering of death, for the same reason crowned with glory and honor, now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him, as they will be seen when His world-kingdom comes (Rev. 11:15). Meanwhile sufferings prevail during the present time; and Satan, though known to faith as judged in the cross of Christ, is the ruler of this world, the god of this age blinding the thoughts of the faithless to the end that the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ Who is God's image should not shine forth. Hence the Christian has the part of Christ, rejection and suffering both for righteousness and for His name. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). How different from the day when “great shall be the peace of thy (Zion's) children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee.” “Behold, they may gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall because of thee.” “And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isa. 60:3). “For that nation and kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish” (Isa. 60:12): “Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for Jehovah shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (Isa. 60:20).
Undoubtedly these are highly figurative expressions; but they are figures expressive of Israel's blessings in the days of the future kingdom when Jehovah shall be King over all the earth. In that day shall Jehovah be one, and His name one (Zech. 14:9). Then idols of silver and gold shall be consigned to the moles and to the bats (Isa. 2:20). And peoples shall flow to the mountain of Jehovah's house; and many nations shall go and say, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His path; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many peoples and reprove strong nations afar off; and they shall forge their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-knives: nation shall not rise against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Mic. 4:1-3).
In these scriptures is a true foreshadow of the coming kingdom, but in no sense applicable to the Christian. For he now, though having peace in Christ, shall have tribulation in the world, called to suffer hardship as a good soldier of Christ; he knows, that if we endure, we shall also reign with Him, while wicked men and impostors wax worse and worse deceiving and deceived. As our Apostle says (1 Pet. 2:20), “If when ye do well and suffer, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable (or, grace) with God.” Such is practical Christianity in contrast with the coming kingdom, contradicted alike by the principle and the practice of Christendom. It is therefore the more imperative to dwell on the truth and expose the departure from it for His glory and the walk of faith.
Again we have, in a general application, what the apostle of the Gentiles says of Christian service in the still fuller and more emphatic terms of 2 Cor. 6:4-10. If Paul knew it above measure in his ministry, he like Peter calls on every Christian to be “as sorrowful (or, grieved), yet always rejoicing.”
“Wherein ye exult, now for a little (if it is needful) put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, much more precious than gold that perisheth though proved by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at [the] revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7).
To connect “wherein” with the last season seems poor in comparison with the glorious result generally. It is even misleading, if it be so taken as to deny the Christian's title to exuberant joy even now in the portion God has given us in Christ. Never will there be a work to surpass, yea or to match, what has been already wrought in the cross. Nowhere else such a concentration of what otherwise must be irreconcilable, majesty and humiliation, holiness and mercy, righteousness and sin, love and hatred, Satan apparently victorious but really and forever vanquished, man at his utter worst, God in His fullest grace, Jesus at the lowest point of obedience, yet glorifying God absolutely even as to sin, all issuing for the believer to God's glory in a perfect acceptance and an everlasting deliverance, with the reconciliation of all creation to come. “Wherein ye exult.” What else can we feel through grace? If we believe, we do not wait for the day of sight to participate in this exceeding joy, which breaks forth in thanksgiving and praise. In that day it will without doubt be unmixed with suffering and sorrow. The weakness of the mortal body will be no longer, but incorruption, glory, and power: so thoroughly shall we all be changed at Christ's coming. There is no scripture, no sound reason, however hostile, to deny present exultation as a proper characteristic of the Christian even now; or this, as the precise meaning here intended by the apostle.
But it is accompanied by being “put to grief” as a needed passing trial in God's government, while the exceeding joy may and ought to be habitual. For this rests on accomplished redemption and life in the power of resurrection, on the grace and truth which came through the Saviour. These abide unchanging for our souls, whereas the grief is definite; as the very tenses of the verb and of the participle imply, no less than the facts warrant from which both affections cannot but flow. Hence “now for a little” qualifies of course the aorist participle, and in no way our actual exultation as unbelief in effect would make it. This is still more distinctly taught by the brief clause “if needful,” or “if there is need.” How considerate and good! For the Father of spirits deals thus for our profit to the partaking of His holiness. No discipline at the time seems of joy but of grief; but afterward it yields peaceable fruit of righteousness to those that have been exercised by it. So we read in Hebrews 12:10-11.
Nor is Peter's doctrine really different: “for a little at this time, if there is need, put to grief in manifold trials,” or temptations. So triumphantly says Rom. 8:34, It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather raised, who is too at the right hand of God, who also intercedeth for us: who shall separate us from the love of Christ? tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? These were heavy trials, but by no means all; for indeed they are many and manifold. But if we do not know what we should pray for as is fitting, the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us intercedes according to God Who hears Him; and we do know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those that are called according to purpose.
Only as Hebrews 12 looks for a good result now, our text points to yet more by-and-by, as it says, “that the proof of your faith, much more precious than of gold that perisheth though proved by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory in the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Thus the Apostle contemplates the wilderness and our journeying through it. In the type this began for Moses and Israel with a song of exultation; and if Israel failed to continue thus, it is no rule for us, for (or, concerning) whom God foresaw some better thing; and what happened to them is written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. The worshippers once purged have no longer any conscience of sins; and no wonder. For Christ by one offering has perfected forever—in perpetuity—those sanctified, as Christians are. The wilderness is pre-eminently the scene of temptation. There the heart is put to the proof. All the more needful is it, that in passing through we cherish confidence in God's love to us. There we find by these trials how weak we are, and alas! it may be, careless, light, and unfaithful. We are sifted like Simon Peter, but have the Lord pleading for us as for him that our faith fail not. For this is the desire and aim, that the proof of our faith might be found to praise.
Note again that praise, honor, and glory are connected with Christ's revelation. His coming to receive and take us to the Father's house is supreme grace; in His revelation will be the appraisal of fidelity and reward accordingly. Both assuredly will be verified; but righteous government is quite distinct from sovereign grace.

Kingdom of God: 8

AND these only will be dealt with in that day of Christ's coming. These only, I say, seeing that the wicked of former generations will not then be raised from their graves, but will be reserved for judgment after the thousand years are expired (Rev. 20:7-15). The risen saints of God, on the other hand, will have been caught up to heaven before the week opens (1 Thess. 4:16-18). This then, I believe, quite determines who the wheat are at the time of the harvest, namely, the Jewish remnant—the righteous ones on the earth at that time.
In this parable, and the explanation of it, the term “kingdom of heaven” is evidently used in its widest sense, as including all who nominally own the supremacy of Christ during His absence from the earth, whether they be wheat or tares, false professors or true subjects of Christ. At the time of the end, when the kingdom passes from its present mysterious state to that of open manifestation, all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, shall be gathered out of it. After that, the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, the heavenly department of that glorious kingdom as it shall exist after the return of Jesus, when all things shall be gathered together in one (even in Him), both which are in heaven and which are on earth. Blessed prospect! May the brightness of it cast a cloud upon all earthly glory in our eyes, beloved; and may we look for and haste unto the coming of that day of God, in which this heavenly luster shall crown all those who have been the companions and followers of Jesus in His tribulation.
The two parables of the mustard seed and leaven would seem to represent the kingdom of heaven in the same large and outward aspect as that in which it is viewed in the parable of the wheat and tares. There is no doubt that, to an intelligent or instructed Christian, it must appear evil that Christianity, which, in its earliest and purest days, was the object of universal obloquy and scorn, should come to bear a character and occupy a position in the world represented by the emblem of a great tree—the symbol in prophecy of worldly magnificence and power. (See Dan. 4; Ezek. 31 &c.)
Still, it does not seem as though it was the evil of this which the parable of the mustard seed sets forth, so much as the great external fact that what was at its beginning so small and so despised should eventually become great in the earth, and afford shelter to those who were originally its opposers. (Compare ver. 32 with ver. 4). The parable of the leaven appears to be our Lord's answer to the inquiry which may well arise in the mind: By what sudden convulsion, by what unlooked for event, is this change to be accomplished? The answer is, that it is not by any mighty convulsion or sudden change, but by a process thus represented: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” This wondrous transformation of what was, at its outset, the weakest and most despised thing on earth, to the state in which Christianity now exists around us, associated with everything of earthly power and glory, was to be effected by a slow, gradual, imperceptible process like leaven working in meal.
These four parables, be it remembered, were spoken to the multitude. They all describe great facts which, as such, the natural mind can recognize. The preaching of the word, with its varied results—the corruption of Christianity and the continuance, to the end, of the evil when once introduced, as well as the judgment by which, at the end of the age, it will be purged out—the growth of Christianity from its once despised and feeble condition as respects the earth, to a state of earthly splendor, power, and glory—the silent, gentle, gradual character of the process by which this last result has been brought about—all these are historical facts which are not only capable of being recognized, but which, as far as they have gone, have been recognized by mere natural men. The explanation of the first similitude, and the last three parables themselves, were spoken to the disciples apart from the multitude; thus indicating, as another has taught, that there were secrets in them which it required a spiritual mind—the intelligence and affection of a disciple—to appreciate. How blessedly perfect is God's precious word!
The two unexplained parables—that of the treasure hid in the field, and that of the merchantman seeking goodly pearls—would seem to teach us, that within the external sphere to which the four parables already considered apply themselves, there was something hid which was at once so precious in Christ's estimation and so beautiful in His eyes, that for the joy of possessing Himself of this treasure, this pearl, He could gladly forego for the present all His Messianic rights and glories, and go down into the very dust of death, selling all that He had to buy it. Can we fail to be reminded by this of that wonderful word, “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it... that He might present it to Himself!” It is true that in the work by which He accomplished the purchase of this jewel of His heart, He also laid the foundation, and the only foundation, for the future glories of His kingdom, when He shall reign in peace over all the earth. He bought the field which contained the treasure; and thus the field is His for all the display of His glory and the accomplishment of all the purposes of God as to it. But His motive—that for the joy of which He, for the present, could forego the assertion of His titles and the revealing of His glory—was the possession of the hidden treasure, the goodly pearl! Oh, what intensity of love, what devotedness and unsparingness of service, become those who are taught of the Holy Ghost that Christ has thus loved and thus given Himself for them May our hearts better know the overwhelming power of the grace of Christ thus displayed!
The parable of the net presents us with the discrimination, at the close, between all this which has really been the object of Christ's heart and of God's purposes throughout, and that which has been throughout this mysterious period outwardly associated with it. The thought of the beloved brother, whose paper on Matt. 13 has been more than once referred to already, commends itself greatly to my own soul, viz. that this discrimination is of two kinds: first, as on the part of the fishermen who gather the good into vessels and cast the bad away; secondly, as on the part of the angels who do not concern themselves about the good here at all, but sever the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. Might we not gather from this that, in the intention of God, there was to be a separation? first, morally by His Spirit, of those in and by whom He acts—and there the object is to gather the good into vessels (it is separation to God, and according to His mind and heart); then, finally, there is a process of judgment in which the angels are the executioners, and the wicked the objects, who are “cast into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
This closes the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. From the era of this judicial separation, whether viewed as in the parable of the wheat and tares, or as in this parable of the net, all is in open manifestation: the righteous shining forth as the sun in the heavenly kingdom of their Father; the Son of man openly exercising His royal power in His kingdom below, out of which all that offends and them which do iniquity have been gathered.
“Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is a householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” The Lord grant that, by the Spirit, these things may occupy our souls; and above all, that He, Himself, Whose grace and glory are so touchingly displayed in every aspect of them, may become more and more the one object of our hearts.
The next mention of the kingdom of heaven is in chapter 16:19, where our Lord says to Peter: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
There are three remarks which may be made as to the connection in which “kingdom of heaven” here occurs. First, it was clearly what had not then commenced. The kingdom had been preached by all the apostles as at hand, as well as by our Lord and His forerunner. But Peter was to open the kingdom, as we know he did at Pentecost, to the Jews, and in the house of Cornelius to the Gentiles. Secondly, the kingdom, the administration of which was thus entrusted to Peter, is clearly not the millennial kingdom treated of in No. 1, and which is still future. Thirdly, it is distinguished from the church, by our Lord Himself, in the passage before us. He says: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” &c. Those who by faith entered in, when the kingdom was opened whether to Jews or Gentiles, became members of the church of God; but “the kingdom of heaven,” as we have seen in chapter 8, includes tares as well as wheat; and it is likened to the mustard tree, the leaven, and the net, as well as to the treasure and the pearl.
“Verily, I say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom (ver. 28). This is plainly another thing. This is the kingdom in which the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and reward every man according to his works. A specimen, a sample, a foreshadowing of the glory of this kingdom, Peter, James, and John were privileged to behold a few days after these words were spoken. A comparison of the passage with 2 Peter 1:16-18 will show that this was the sense in which they saw the Son of man coming in His kingdom. It was a type or pledge, a revelation even to their senses of what the glory of that kingdom will be; not the kingdom as it exists now in mystery, but as it will exist in open display by-and-by.
Instead of taking the kingdom thus and introducing it at once, we have in the close of chapter 17 an affecting display of the depths of humiliation to which Jesus stooped. In chapter 18, we find this to be the rule for disciples in the kingdom as it now exists in mystery. The disciples ask, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus answers by calling a little child and setting him in the midst of them, and saying, “Verily, I say to you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Wondrous, blessed lesson! That he who willingly becomes the least is really the greatest in the kingdom of heaven! None so great as the Holy One Whose words we are listening to! And who can stoop so low as He did? As for us, in taking the low place, we do but take our own. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, and yet made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant. Oh! that the mind which was in Him might also be in us.
One lesson as to the spirit and conduct befitting this kingdom of heaven we have had already in chapter 18. The close of it presents us with another. Humility at the beginning; grace and forgiveness of trespass at the end. For another view of the parable at the close of this chapter, see the paper before referred to, page 130, in vol. 1 of “The Prospect.”
Matt. 19:12 speaks of an extraordinary measure of separation to God, for the kingdom of heaven's sake, on the part of some. It is, I suppose, the carrying out, through grace, of the principle of Matt. 11:12 to the utmost possible limits, in certain special cases where there was not grace only, but special gift and power for this end. (See 1 Cor. 7:26; also verse 17 of the same chapter.)
Matt. 19:14 would connect itself with the passage already touched upon in chapter 18:3. Verses 23 and 24 would show the need of that violence, through grace, which is the subject of chapter 11:12. It was a question of forsaking all and following Christ—a Christ Who was not about at once to ascend the throne and wield the scepter of His father David, but Who was first to be rejected and crucified. The riches and honors of this world were such a hindrance to any one who had them, in thus following a rejected Christ, that nothing could overcome it, or enable any one to overcome it, but the almighty power of God. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
It is upon this that Peter asks a question, to which our Lord gives a twofold reply, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee: what shall we have therefore?” What Peter states is a fact. He and his fellow-apostles had really forsaken all to follow Christ; and this our Lord in His first answer owns. But evidently there was something of self-importance and self-gratulation at the bottom of Peter's question, “What shall we have therefore?” It was something of the same spirit as had suggested the inquiry in chapter 18, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Peter's question would intimate that none could ever evince the self-devotion which they had evinced, or have the claim on Christ which they had. It is as though he would make Christ debtor to himself and his fellow-disciples. “What shall we have therefore?” This our Lord meets in the parable which follows. First, however, let us look at His promise to Peter and the rest. “And Jesus said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Peter asks, What shall we have therefore? and our Lord replies, That is what you shall have. But is it not as though He added, Do not suppose that you are the only persons who have forsaken, or who will have forsaken, all for My name's sake, and who shall be rewarded in the kingdom? “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."(continued from p. 74)

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Nahum to Malachi

Chap. 5 Divine Design.—27. Nahum Malachi
As Micah on a small scale noticed both Babylon and the Assyrian which Isaiah presented much more fully, Nahum is occupied only with Nineveh and its chief before the world-powers were ordained. For such was the order historically, as prophetically it will be the inverse. (Compare Isa. 13 and 14 with Mic. 4:5) For what answers to Babylon, the imperial Beast or fourth empire revived for judgment at the consummation of the age, will meet its doom before the Assyrian comes up with the external nations for final destruction when Israel shall be owned of Jehovah; but the reign of righteousness and peace is not yet fully established. Who can deny the special place designed for Nahum as to Nineveh, any more than the peculiar task given to Obadiah as to Edom?
Nahum was a Galilean like Jonah; and if the latter was sent long before to warn the haughty Gentile, and on repentance to defer the judgment in divine mercy, the former was given, on its raising its head still more proudly, to pronounce Jehovah's indignant vengeance, however slow to anger; for He is as great as He is good. In vain went forth out of Nineveh one that imagined evil against Jehovah, a counselor of Belial. He will make a full end—trouble shall not rise a second time; as Sennacherib proved, his yoke broken, His people's bonds burst, out of the house of the Assyrian's god, graven and molten images cut off, and his grave prepared. The scourge finally past is followed by the enduring peace of His people (chap. 1).
What more superb than the lifelike graphic sketch of the dashing in pieces (chap. 2)? But all ends, not in Jerusalem taken, but in Nineveh and its palace melting away in its own rivers which burst the gates, the converse of Babylon's later fate. The lair of the lions would be an utter ruin, instead of a terror (chap. 3). Nineveh was no better than Thebes, or No-Amon; there is no healing of her breach.
Habakkuk begins by complaining of the evil in Jehovah's people, when he is reminded of the marvelous work He wrought in using the Chaldeans in their proud self-seeking energy to chastise them. This turns his complaint against the wicked swallowing up one more righteous, and withal sacrificing to his net and burning incense to his drag (chap. 1). Can any hesitate to own distinctive design here?
The prophet waits for His word, and Jehovah's answer comes so plainly that the runner may read it. The just shall live by his faith, before public deliverance is given. If God is patient, His people may well be. All the iniquity was seen and felt: retribution would come at an appointed time. The peoples labor for the fire, and the nations weary themselves in vain. For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah (not of the gospel, which appeals to faith now for heaven), as the waters cover the sea. The Babylonian capturing would be to no purpose any more than their famous building; and their intoxication of others for deceit as of themselves would end in shame, like their idolatries: Jehovah is in His holy temple above, whatever the state of His house on earth. Silence! (chap. 2)
His prayer follows in chap. 3 and the power that will make itself seen, heard, and felt, rises for his soul, as he recalls His deliverance of old, though but partial, as He had only Israel in view, not yet Messiah and the new covenant. He anticipates the triumphant lot of Israel, as is already seen, no less than the downfall of their foes; but he ends with the faith that waits, though not a sign meanwhile appears (chap. 3).
Is Zephaniah one whit less distinctive? Is he not beyond mistake occupied from first to last with the day of Jehovah on Jerusalem? But the land and the Jewish remnant are fully in view for that day. The reign of the last pious king did not hinder or defer it; for the general advance in evil revolt would be all the surer when that check vanished. Divine judgment must clear away all offenses that righteousness by grace may flourish. Hardly any truth is more repulsive to haughty and lawless Christendom than the Lord's unexpected dealing with the living, though every one in word confesses that He is coming to judge the quick as well as the dead. Who can wonder that idolatrous Jews decried it? It is the becoming answer of our prophet to all questions. If Jehovah must judge His people, all the world must bow, no nation can escape. What Nebuchadnezzar did was but the earnest of a great and complete judgment; yet Jehovah could not but begin with His land, people, and city, as in chap. 1.
In chap. 2 a remnant is looked for, the meek, that they may be hidden in that day which overtakes the guilty mass. There is indeed and for the same reason the doom of the Philistines, of Moab, and of Ammon. But not the neighbors only; He will famish all the gods of the earth: and Assyria with its great city Nineveh shall fall into desolation.
Chap. 3 returns to Jerusalem unsparingly. But from ver. 8 he shows Jehovah rising to pour His indignation upon the nations and kingdoms in all the earth. Then will He turn to the peoples a pure language that they may all call on Jehovah's name and serve Him with one consent. And His dispersed shall return, suppliant and accepted, afflicted and poor, but unrighteous and deceitful no more. Assuredly it is a day yet future, when none shall make them afraid. From ver. 14 he calls on the daughter of Zion to exult, Israel to shout. Jehovah is their king and in their midst, having taken away their judgments and cast out their enemy. “He will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will exult over thee with singing.” Praise and fame He will make in all the lands of their shame when He gathers and turns again their captivity before their eyes. It is wholly distinct from the gospel or the church.
The three prophets that remain were after the Return, and thus differ from all before. The house of God, lowly as it might be, was a great test for their lukewarm state. Haggai was sent to awaken their zeal: not God's providence, however it might work, but Jehovah's word. Difficulties arose; and they left off to build. It was not the time, said they. “Is it time for you to dwell in your wainscoted houses, while this house lieth waste?” replies the prophet, as he points out how their efforts came to failure under His hand Who bade them, “Consider your ways.” But there were who heard Zerubbabel and Joshua, and others of opened ear; and Jehovah's messenger declared on His part, I am with you, saith Jehovah; and they came and worked for Jehovah's house (chap. 1).
Near a month after the word came to such as had ears to hear, abating any disappointment from comparison with the house in its former glory: Be strong, for I am with you. “For thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land]; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith Jehovah of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, saith Jehovah; and in this place will I give peace, saith Jehovah of hosts (vers. 6-9).” Could any answer be more assuring or glorious? Some believed it then, we may trust, to their blessing: do men who call themselves Christians believe it now? Whatever measure of application it had when Christ came the first time, Heb. 12 leaves no doubt that its fulfillment awaits the second advent. It may be observed how carefully the house is viewed as one till then. Render therefore as in the Sept., “the latter glory of this house,” not “the glory of this latter house.” It has unity in His eyes.
The third message turns on holiness according to the law. Things ordinary are not sanctified by the touch of what is holy; though the holy becomes unclean by contact with defilement. Such the prophet declares this people and every work of theirs—unclean. Yet they are told to consider from this day that, instead of smiting as before, Jehovah would bless them (vers. 10-19).
On the same day came a fourth word, in which Jehovah says, “I will shake the heavens and the earth, and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and I will overthrow the chariots and those that ride in them, and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother,” vers. 21, 22. It is the judgment of the quick, or at least that part which relates to the nations that gather against Israel; it is after the destruction of the Beast and his vassal kings and armies whom the Lord destroys by His appearing. Zerubbabel seems taken as a shadow of great David's greater son in the verse following. A strange critic would he be who fails to discern Haggai's special place, and a faithless one who questions his divine inspiration.
No less distinctive is the work given to Zechariah, who alone approaches in his earlier visions to the apocalyptic character of Daniel among the four so-called greater prophets. But unlike Daniel he is occupied with Jerusalem, and launches out in his later visions to the open and magnificent scenes of universal glory under Jehovah-Messiah for all the earth. If all peoples and all the nations assemble against Jerusalem even in the day of Jehovah, He will go forth and fight with them and smite all their adversaries; and it shall be that all that are left of all the nations which came up against her shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. It is the day of His manifested supremacy in the midst of Israel, and clearly as yet to be fulfilled. What circumstances among the returned remnant gave the prophet an existing groundwork? Did the book come from God? or is it a human dream? That the writer could begin with prose, and rise to poetical style when called for later is no great marvel.
After aggrieved appeal in the preface of chap. 1:1-6, the youthful prophet saw (as in the rest of the chapter) the vision of the administering powers of the three empires under the symbol of red, bay, and white horses; for the first empire had passed away and the provisional return to the land had already been a fact for some 18 years. Next he saw four horns, powers which had scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, as well as four smiths to cast out those Gentile horns. Chap. 2 presents a man with a line to measure Jerusalem; for if Jehovah was jealous over the feeble remnant, He also looks on to the time when He would be the glory in their midst; and a song quite as lofty as any afterward follows. In chap. 3 is solved by grace the question of fitness for His presence, though the high priest represents also their responsibility meanwhile. But the Branch or Sprout is promised, Who will be the true Stone of Israel, when their iniquity shall pass away, and communion shall abound. The vision of order and holy power in testimony follows in chap. 4, in its measure of light then, but complete only when He reigns Who combines royalty and priesthood. Chap. 5 gives two visions of judgment which must be: the flying roll against iniquity in Israel toward man and toward Jehovah; and the ephah with the woman (this is wickedness, or demoralizing idolatry) carried off to Shinar, its source, for its dwelling-place. After the vision of the four chariots in chap. 6, representing the external powers in divine providence, comes the word of Jehovah on the occasion of gifts from those of the captivity, to make crowns, one of which was to be set on Joshua, again looking on to the Branch Who should build the temple of Jehovah emphatically, bearing the glory, sitting and ruling upon His throne, a priest thereon, when the counsel of peace should be between Them both. What believer can mistake the special design of this?
Chaps. 7 & 8 seem transitional. Such fasts as those in the captivity would not do: Jehovah claimed righteousness and mercy, not oppression and evil-mindedness, for which He had scattered them. Returned to Zion He would restore and bless to the full, as He will yet. Fasts will yield to feasts; and peoples come to Jerusalem as they never yet have done, whatever the application of intermediate condition then.
Then we have “the burden of the word of Jehovah” in chap. 9. Not only will He defend His house against surrounding foes, but Zion's King will come in humiliation, notably and to the letter fulfilled, but going on to the day when Ephraim, as well as Jerusalem, shall behold His judgments issuing in peace to the nations and dominion everywhere. How could such a future be before the prophet without kindling the fire of hope so assured? And this is pursued through chap. 10.
But in 11 comes a change to pathos and grief, as Christ's rejection passes before his spirit, and the retributive usurpation of Antichrist. Then another “burden” is heard concerning Israel; and besieged Jerusalem becomes a burdensome stone, as never yet, “to all peoples.” (chap. 7:3); and David's house and Jerusalem's inhabitants shall be objects of grace in true repentance; and a fountain to cleanse those who may look to Him Whom they pierced shall be opened in that day (chap. 8). Then shall the very names of idols, and prophets with the unclean, pass out of the land; and Christ is again recalled, wounded in the house of His friends, albeit Jehovah's Shepherd, the Man Who is His fellow. Scattering is thence justly predicted, though not without protection for the little ones. But again we are in presence of the final crisis (8, 9), which is too plain in chap. 14 save for obstinate unbelief. There is a final capture of Jerusalem in part when all the nations join to assail it; but Jehovah then decides all. (Compare Psa. 48 Isa. 29 & 66). Subjection to Him is the glorious and blessed result.
The brief prophecy of Malachi has its specific moral traits, exactly suited to Jehovah's final call to the Jew in view of His messenger to prepare the way, and of the Lord suddenly coming to His temple. He denounces irreverence, corruption, fraud, and profanity in the returned, but looks for a remnant, and is sure of divine faithfulness to purpose and promise. Jehovah's name shall be great among the nations when His kingdom comes. What is Israel now? What the priests are as in chap. 2. All hung on Jehovah's coming; but He will judge as well as purge (chap. 3). Meanwhile those that fear Him have the resource of His name and shall be His peculiar treasure; as He will discern the wicked too. For His day comes as a furnace for the wicked, but with healing for those that are His, who also shall tread down the wicked. It is for Israel in that day, not the heavenly church, though we should profit by all the word (chap. 4). Thus He recalls the law of Moses, and promises Elijah before that day, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and of the children to their fathers, lest His coming should bring not blessing but curse, as the first man entails.

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Isaac: 19. The Generations of Ishmael

Gen. 25:12-18
In scripture family connection is noticed by the Holy Spirit according to the well known principle stated by the apostle (1 Cor. 15:46): not first that which is spiritual, but that which is natural. As we have had the progeny sprung from Keturah, and Isaac in his distinct place, so now we have the sons of Ishmael before the line of promise.
“And these [are] Ishmael's generations, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's bondwoman, bore to Abraham. And these [are] the names of Ishmael's sons by their names according to their generations: Ishmael's firstborn, Nebaioth, and Kedar and Adbeel and Mibsam and Mishma and Dumah and Massa, Hadar and Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These [are] Ishmael's sons, and these their names in their villages and in their encampments, twelve princes according to their peoples. And these [are] the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty and seven years; and he expired and died, and was gathered to his people. And they dwelt from Havilah to Shur which [is] before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria. He settled (or, died, lit. fell) before all his brethren” (vers. 12-18), or, it may be, “to the east of all his brethren.”
Flesh has its privileges speedily. Already was the beginning of what Jehovah's angel prepared Hagar to expect, “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” Jehovah hearkened to her affliction, and could not forget Abraham. Ishmael was to be a wild-ass man, his hand against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he should dwell before or in face of all his brethren (chap. 16:10-12). This too, as we may easily find out, has been precisely fulfilled from the beginning till now. But yet more minutely as a proximate fact, the pledge of all to follow, in chap. 17 had God said, “For Ishmael I have heard thee: behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful, and will very greatly multiply him. Twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation” (20). So it was now. They are enumerated in their order, as later (chap. 28:9) we read of Ishmael's daughter Mahalath, Nebaioth's sister, whom Esau took to wife, besides those of Canaan.
For scripture clearly shows us the government of God providentially, and outside His covenant, in the same books which reveal the dealings of His electing grace. Nor is it the Jews only who are prone to overlook it. Unbelief rises up against God in this as in all else. Yet His word abides worthy of all trust to whatever it applies. No more graphic a sketch was ever drawn than is given of Ishmael's posterity in the words cited. “Who hath sent out the wild-ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the onager? whose house I have made the wilderness, and the salt land his dwelling-place. He scorneth the tumult of the city, neither heareth he the shoutings of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth for every green thing” (Job 39:5-8). Such exactly are the Bedouins. No sober Christian supposes a perpetual miracle as to Ishmael, but that what God said of that race is as sure as what He said of Israel, no less than of Babylon, Medo-Persia, the Greek power, or the Roman.
No skeptical ingenuity then avails to shake the certainty that Ishmael's singular lot stands revealed from early days. The meaning of Gen. 16:12 is as plain as it is striking, and as applicable to-day as for thousands of years past. This is not true of any other notable people. Compare the Egyptians, the Assyrians, or the Israelites: what differing changes have they not each and all experienced? How little if at all has the Bedouin altered? Cushites have settled here or there in Arabia, or passed across the Arabic gulf to the opposite coast of Africa. Joktanites in varied lines may still abide, especially in the South and the West; but their characteristics are by no means akin. The stamp of Ishmael is unmistakable in the North and East, as well as elsewhere; and the wild-ass marks him indelibly now as of old. Exceptions there may have been in the long tract of ages that have elapsed, but mostly affecting the nomad Arabs, in Yemen far more than where they pitched their tents, but also as to Mecca and Medina; as well as for a while in the North. But these seizures are allowed to have been temporary and local. “The body of the nation has escaped the yoke of the most powerful monarchies; the arms of Sesostris and Cyrus, of Pompey and Trajan, could never achieve the conquest of Arabia; the present sovereign of the Turks may exercise a shadow of jurisdiction, but his pride is reduced to solicit the friendship of a people, which it is dangerous to provoke and fruitless to attack.”
It is easy to say that the obvious causes of their freedom are inscribed on the character and country of the Arabs. But God only could and did reveal their course from their earliest progenitor. The same unbelief which attributes Christianity to natural causes seeks to explain away the interest God felt about Abraham's offspring, even outside His covenant, and His expression of it in His word. The believer enjoys His communications and is grateful to the enlargement of heart and mind, as unbelief reaps darkness increasingly and death. It is good to own Him, Who is not only the Highest and only true God, but our Father in that gift of His love, His written word: whatever be its subject matter, it is worthy of Himself. And if in the O.T. He speaks of outward things and His moral government, are we not to appreciate His condescension?

Priesthood: 12. The Priest's Due

The Priests' Due. Lev. 10:12-15
The next direction is positive rather than negative; it expresses, first, the communion of the priests, of the high priest and his sons, as far as this could be with the offerings to Jehovah; then of their families. Eating is the well-known sign of fellowship, as none can deny.
“And Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons that were left, Take the meal-offering that is left of Jehovah's fire-offerings, and eat it with unleavened bread beside the altar; for it [is] most holy. And ye shall eat it in a holy place, because it [is] thy due and thy sons' due, of Jehovah's fire-offerings; for so I am commanded. And the breast of the wave-offering and the shoulder of the heave-offering ye shall eat in a clean place, thou and thy sons and thy daughters with thee; for thy due and thy sons' due [are they] given of the sacrifices of peace-offerings of the children of Israel. The shoulder of the heave-offering and the breast of the wave-offering shall they bring with the fire-offerings of the pieces of fat to wave as a wave-offering before Jehovah; and they shall be thine and thy sons’ with thee for an everlasting statute, as Jehovah commanded” (vers. 12-15).
As the priests were those chosen for the services of the sanctuary, their failures and their dangers were measured by that standard in a way peculiar to themselves. Again also had they privileges, or dues, in which others could not share, suitable to such as drew near into the divine presence. The measure for an Israelite was what Jehovah claimed from man; for the priest, there must be fitness for God. Certainly no less than this is the holiness of the Christian; for he is a priest more really and fully than Aaron himself, for whom the office was but shadowy and ceremonial. Christ is the truth; and as in all other respects, so evidently and expressly in priesthood for the heavens now, as by-and-by for the earth also when He sits on Zion's throne. He therefore makes priesthood as real for the Christian as sonship is, though unbelief in Christendom makes the priestly place a vague name for all but the clergy.
Thus is confounded priesthood with ministry, which is in its worst form to repeat the gainsaying of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Of this imposture the Epistle of Jude declares the woe and end. But unbelief cannot alter or efface the truth; and Christians are shown in the N.T. to be the only persons on earth who now exercise priestly functions. They, having the only Great Priest over the house of God, are exhorted to approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, “sprinkled as to our hearts from a wicked conscience, and washed as to our body with pure water” (Heb. 10:21, 22). Who but they have the entrance with boldness into the holies in the power of the blood of Jesus? For any minister to claim this as the title, and the exclusive title, of his class, is to convict himself of presumptuous ignorance and profanity. It is meddling with Christ's rights, and His grace to His own.
Christ as the Burnt-offering rose up wholly consumed to Jehovah. Man was in no way to partake: “It shall be accepted to make atonement for him” (Lev. 1:4). “The priest shall burn all on the altar” (9). With Christ as the Meal-offering or Oblation, it was different; for here it is He as alive in flesh and obedient in holy love, yet offered up to Jehovah. Of the fine flour with the oil, but all the frankincense put on it, the priest took his handful, and burnt it on the altar to Jehovah. The remainder was for Aaron and his sons, who were the priestly company and symbolize “all the saints” here below. “Most holy” as it is, and thus rebuking all thought that adheres to lowering the Word become flesh, it was priestly food. Jehovah has the memorial thereof, a Fire-offering no less than the Burnt-offering; but the priest partook of the rest. If Jehovah had His delight in that blessed life of absolute devotedness to His will, have not we who believe and know ourselves brought to God, purged from every sin, the privilege of enjoying that oblation in peace and thanksgiving?
But it was to be eaten “in a holy place,” as only the priests partook of it, not even their families. It is only in God's presence that we can enjoy in communion what Christ was each day on earth and all through to God: elsewhere we reason or imagine, and in either way must sully what is “most holy.” Only the power of the Spirit enables the believer to appropriate Christ thus without mingling his own thoughts. For none rightly know the Son but the Father; and before Him we presume not, but receive what He gives in unfeigned faith and worship. All the frankincense was for Jehovah.
On the other hand while ver. 13 restricts the remainder of the Meal-offering to the eating of the priests “in a holy place,” ver. 14 opens participation in their portion of Peace-offerings, for their sons and daughters to eat freely, but “in a clean place.” For this they had the wave-breast and the heave-shoulder. In Lev. 7 we see a more widely extended fellowship; for the offerer and his guests had the remainder as a feast. Thus Jehovah, the offering priest, the priestly house as a whole, and the offerer with his company had each the appropriate part, in a communion large and varied, yet nicely ordered of God. Christ in His fullness answers to its every part, the striking contrast with the first and sinful man in his narrow selfishness or vain lavishness. Only “cleanness” was indispensable. “As he who called you is holy, be ye also holy in all conduct, because it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.” The simplest believer, however unintelligent of his high and holy privileges, is responsible to cleanse himself from every pollution of flesh and spirit, in order to enjoy it. Grace when believed produces vigilance in our new responsibilities as God's children; when forgotten or abused, admits of license and leads to lawlessness.

Proverbs 9:13-18

In full contrast with wisdom, and quite distinct from the scorner, is “the foolish woman.” Here we have the picture of herself and her ways, her guests, and their end. Only we must not think that the folly in question means a feeble intellect, but rather the absence of care or thought, of heart or conscience, toward God, which Satan fosters in benighted man. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,” and therefore neither seeks nor calls on Him. This at the last is antichrist. Here it is “the foolish woman,” the state of things that entices, fleshly corruption rather than the haughty antagonist that sets it up.
“The foolish woman [is] clamorous; senseless (or, simplicity), and knoweth nothing. And she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call those that pass by who go right on their ways. Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither. And to him that is void of understanding she saith, Stolen waters are sweet, and the bread of secrecy is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead [are] there, [that] her guests [are] in the depths of Sheol” (vers. 13-18).
Wisdom pleads for Jehovah and therefore in the true interests of man, no less than for the divine glory. The foolish woman is zealous only for the indulgence of sinful pleasure, regardless of all consequences. Yet it is remarkable how similar are the thoughts and words the Holy Spirit uses in speaking of each. Not that wisdom is “clamorous” as is folly; but she does cry and put forth her voice, for understanding is hers, and the immense value she has to communicate from God and for Him, no less than to man. She does not sit on a seat or throne at the door of her house. But she yet more than folly stands in the top of high places by the way, a cheerful giver, who knows the ample resources for all that come. Not so the foolish woman. What house had she built? No pillars had she hewn out. She had neither beasts to kill, nor had she mingled wine, nor furnished her table, like wisdom with a heart delighting in good and in doing good where need abounded, and dangers are without end, and evil beyond measure.
Wisdom had her maidens to send forth, as she herself cried; for she was earnest to win for Jehovah and warn from Him, and sought the highest places of the city. Folly had no such maidens, any more than the generous provision of wisdom. Maidens indeed! She might well be ashamed and blush if she could before maidens, as they would assuredly blush for her words and ways. Yet both are represented as making appeal in terms of strong resemblance, but how opposite their wish and aim! “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither” (vers. 4 and 16). And it is to be remarked, that the foolish woman in particular addresses her call to those that pass by, who go right on their ways. What malicious pleasure to lead such astray!
The difference comes out strongly in what wisdom, as compared with folly, says to him that is void of understanding. “Come, eat ye of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake follies, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” All was open, sound, holy and unselfish on wisdom's part. How sinister the speech of the foolish woman “Stolen waters are sweet, and pleasant is the bread of secrecy.” But the appeal of wisdom needs grace to make it palatable; her rival's invitation is just suited to the dark heart of man as he is. He relishes that which shuns the light. He enjoys what is prohibited, and can only be snatched guilefully or by cunning; he suspects what is given freely, and cannot understand the greatest good as a matter of grace. Wisdom's gifts are therefore distrusted and despised; folly's call to stolen waters is as sweet to fallen nature as to drink them, and the bread of secrecy is as pleasant in prospect as to the taste.
How solemn when the curtain is drawn enough to let us see the dread reality! “But he knoweth not that the dead (or departed, shades) [are] there; that her guests [are] in the depths of Sheol.” As the language about wisdom rose in the chapter before into a living and glorious person, an incomparable object of delight to Jehovah, and with no less incomparable delight of love going out to the sons of men, so here chap. 9 ends with a more awful view than is at all usual in the O.T. of the lot that befalls those that lend their ear, and follow the tempting words of the foolish woman. What a contrast with leaving off folly and going on the way of intelligence!

Gospel Words: the Deaf and Stammering Man

Mark 7:32-37
This is one of the two miracles peculiar to the gospel of Mark, the other being the cure of the blind man of Bethsaida (chap. 8:22). They both illustrate the prophetic service of the Son of God. He had come to the lake of Galilee.
“And they bring to him [one] deaf and hardly speaking, and they beseech him to lay his hand on him. And having taken him away from the crowd apart, he put his fingers to his ears; and he spit and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven he groaned, and saith to him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the bond of his tongue was loosed, and be spoke aright. And he charged them that they should tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more abundantly were they publishing [it]. And they were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well; he maketh both the deaf to hear and the speechless to speak” (vers. 32-37).
The minute accuracy of the Holy Spirit in recounting Christ's miracles is admirable. This case differs from others, in that the sufferer is not said to have been absolutely mute, but to have had an impediment of speech, or speaking with difficulty, as well as deaf. Nevertheless the Lord takes especial pains with him. The manner reveals the divine Servant's grace. There was no question of His power. Ordinarily He healed all that needed it in a moment, no matter how extreme, as when an unclean spirit was the cause of the dumbness rather than physical inability or defect. Here He was pleased to manifest His tender interest in detail, and His compassionate love no less than His power to heal. He does much more than what those besought who brought the patient to Him. Putting the hand on the needy one was the usual sign of blessing; and less than this, a word, would have been enough, if so the obedient Lord had seen fit to God's glory.
But He took him aside from the crowd apart. For here it is not the crowd He thinks of, any more than the haughty scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem. Just before He had met the desperate need of the Syro-Phoenician on behalf of her demoniac daughter on the borders of Tire and Sidon. Now He had come through the midst of the borders of Decapolis, where, as the prophet had long before predicted, light was to shine for a despised remnant when darkness brooded over the mass with city and temple dead to the rejected Messiah (Isa. 9:1, 2). So apart from the crowd He took the deaf man, and put His fingers unto, if not into (as the preposition may mean according to the sense required), his ears. But more than this; having spit, He touched the tongue of the stammerer.
He marked in both acts how all depended on bringing Himself personally to bear on the actual wants. He who wrought was man, but no less was He God, the Son incarnate and on earth, in His pitiful love serving God and man. It was not only that He applied what came from within Himself to the man's tongue, but looking up to heaven He groaned, and saith to him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. Power truly went out of Him, and love was its spring in devotedness to God Who is as truly light in His nature as love is the character of its energy, which His own service was manifesting. And thus, if He deigned to touch the man so intimately, He looked up to heaven whence He came in a love that abides unchanging and above all evil, yet groaned in deep sense of it, whilst He said to him, Be opened.
The afflicted man was but an emblem of the state of Israel, unwilling alas! and unable through unbelief to hear God, or to speak out their own misery and His praise. But as brought to Him he set forth the remnant on whom light dawned in a region and shadow of death. And “straightway” (a word so characteristic in the Gospel of His service) his ears were opened, and the bond or tie of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke aright. If the unbelief of the people and its chiefs made their blessing impossible, the poor of the flock prove the all-suffering of His gracious power, and reap the great blessing of faith, be it ever so small. And the love which so wrought will encourage a remnant in a future day, who will re-commence the Jewish history in the land, till it become a strong nation in that faithfulness which is unwearied and will never forget the promise.
For the present all was vain; and He charged them to tell no one, but the more He did, the more a great deal were they its publishers. Yet, true as it might be in word, it was not faith in the heart, but rather extreme astonishment. Even so what a comment on Christ's service “He hath done all things well; He maketh both the deaf to hear and speechless to speak.”
But how is it with you who now read God's testimony to Jesus His Son? Have you heard His voice? For He still speaks in His word; and they live who hear Him; and they follow Him, for they know His voice. Amidst the Babel tongues of Christendom they know it, and there is none like it; for it reveals to their souls God, and God as Father in quite a new way proper not to man even innocent but to the Son already come Who has given us understanding that we may know Him that is true. Truth is in none other; but He is not only the truth, but the way and the life. “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.” His word cannot deceive, His word only; and what He has done is according to the same perfection: above all is that work which He wrought on the cross, by which we that believe have now received the reconciliation.

1 Peter 1:8-9

The Apostle explains how it is that the Christian is enabled to exult in the midst of trials ever so severe, yet never allowed but where need calls for them at the present time and for a little while. For assuredly, if God's power acts as a garrison round His saints whilst they pass through the world, it is no less energetic in controlling every hostile influence, whatever be the malicious wiles of the adversary the devil. Hence can we boldly say, we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those that are called according to purpose. Yea we glory in the tribulations also, knowing what under God is the blessed result both here and hereafter. All the blessing along the way turns upon having Christ as the object before our souls.
“Whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though not now seeing but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and glorified (or, full of glory), receiving the end of your faith, salvation of souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-9).
When the kingdom is manifested in power and glory at the revelation of Christ, when Jehovah will punish the host of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth, wherewith His sore and great and strong sword He will visit leviathan the fleeing serpent and leviathan the crooked serpent, and will slay the dragon that is in the sea, He will in Zion make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And there He will swallow up the veil that veils all the peoples and the covering that is spread over all the nations. He will swallow up death in victory. And the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off the earth; for Jehovah hath spoken.
But now there is the contrast which the N. T. everywhere proclaims, as in the opening, and, we shall see, throughout this Epistle; where it was a special aim to instruct the Christian Jews, lest their old Jewish expectation might mingle and lead to disappointment. For we who believe in the rejected but glorified Christ have to do meanwhile with “the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 13:12), as the Lord told the disciples. “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11). As a whole, and in its varied parts, it was a secret for which the chosen people was unprepared, looking mainly for the display of righteousness, when Israel shall blossom and bud, and they shall fill the face of the world with fruit, and Jerusalem shall be called Jehovah's throne, and all the nations shall be gathered there, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem; and as they shall walk no more with stubborn heart, so shall both houses of Israel be gathered in one, and Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. And no wonder, for Satan shall be bound in the abyss, and Jehovah-Jesus shall be King over all the earth, nor this only but as the Head over all things heavenly as well as earthly.
With the glorious prospect for the universe in ages to come Christianity stands in striking contrast. For the devil, as our Epistle shows (1 Pet. 5:8), walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. It is a wilderness world still, instead of blossoming abundantly and rejoicing with joy and song; and the glory of Jehovah is not yet seen, the excellency of our God, as all the earth in that day shall be filled with His glory. The saints are the very souls who are put to grief, as need arises, in manifold trials. At the same time they are entitled to deeper joys than the displayed kingdom can afford. And here, as the fact had been clearly stated according to experience in the light of the truth, the Apostle explains the rich and unfailing source. It is Jesus, the crucified; yet He is not here but risen, yea glorified on high. He is thus the key to all.
“Whom having not seen ye love.” What a difference from the ordinary occasion of human affection, nay more, from the promise to Israel in that day! “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty” (Isa. 33:17). “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips. Therefore God hath blessed thee forever... Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of equity is the scepter of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Psa. 45:2,6-7). It is not only His reign of beneficence in power and majesty; but at least Jerusalem begins with looking on Him whom they pierced, and mourning as for an only son, a firstborn. Yet appears their Deliverer when their danger is at its extremity, and their bitterest self-reproach is swallowed up in their loving gratitude for Him whose faithfulness to them no evil on their part could overcome.
Good as their portion will be, that of the Christian is far better. And here the Apostle does not even notice the peculiar circumstances of such disciples as beheld the Lord in the days of His flesh. He does not say, “we who saw Him then,” but “ye” as addressing those of the dispersion, just like the bulk who believe the gospel. “Whom having not seen ye love.” Nevertheless it was a vast deal that He had come, the obedient and dependent Man; God's faithful Witness, manifesting the Father, as we read of Him in the Gospels; accomplishing redemption, and now at the right hand of God above. Hence the Lord pronounced the least in the kingdom of the heavens greater than the greatest before it; and the Epistle to the Hebrews says that God provided or foresaw “some better thing for us.”
It must be admitted, as to the words before us, that whatever the love the elders cherished for the coming Messiah, it could not have had that impulse and strength which was given by the power of His infinite grace acting on renewed hearts, as they followed His steps, and hung on His words, and delighted in His ways here below. The Lord could say, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see. For I say to you that many prophets and kings desired to see the things that ye behold, and did not see them, and to hear the things that ye hear, and did not hear them” (Luke 10:24). But it is plain that even that wondrous privilege was beneath the mighty accession imported by His death, and resurrection, and ascension, especially when the Holy Spirit was given to apprehend all fully and to bear witness accordingly.
Therefore those who yearn after a Messiah seen on earth know not how much it is to know Him dead, risen, and glorified, even for the deepest profit in tracing His recorded ways on earth. For it is in this light that His every word, step, and act is best understood and enjoyed. There His love shines at its fullest; and we love, because He first loved us, and assuredly love Him beyond all. Now it is in this way that the Apostle could say characteristically, “Whom having not seen ye love.” It is just so the Christian loves Christ. He knows His love, as none before Incarnation could know, and beyond all during His ministry. He knows it in His humiliation, in His suffering unequaled and above all comparison in His rejection and cross. He begins, though he never saw Him here, with learning its depths, where those who followed Him on earth closed their difficulties, and passed into spiritual understanding, when He was raised from out of the dead. None has such vantage ground for loving the Lord Jesus as the Christian. Even the apostles loved Him all the more when they emerged from Jewish wraps and veils into that state of light and liberty.
The next clause only confirms the superior blessedness of Christianity: “in whom, though not now seeing but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Our Lord has conclusively ruled that believing has a value beyond sight. “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed they, that have seen not and believed” (John 20:29). It is just the difference between the Jews when their blessing comes, and the Christian yet more blessed morally now; and what will it be then? As heaven is above earth. Hence it is evident that as Christianity deepens love, so it purifies and strengthens faith. The elders in its power obtained witness; but how immensely the scope of faith is enlarged when the secrets of God are no longer hidden but revealed as now to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit!
Well may the Christian then “exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is so characteristic that our Lord represents its very starting-point in the reception of the prodigal son. For God as such is glorified in that cross of Christ which is its foundation, and He is also as Father in the love of that relationship. “Bring out the best robe and invest him; and put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it; and let us eat and be merry. For this my son was dead and has come to life, he was lost and is found.” God Himself has His joy in the grace that brings such salvation. What sanction for its object and all that have tasted of like mercy! And as we are called to grow by the knowledge of God and His Son, so also to rejoice in the Lord always, and in everything give thanks. Shame on us if we do not now exult with joy unspeakable and glorified, seeing that in the glory is He on whom our blessedness depends. No doubt we boast in hope of the glory of God; but our best, our perfect, security for it is that He is there, entered as forerunner for us.
In accordance with the exultation to which we are even now entitled, while looking on for its perfection when we are glorified, it is added, “receiving the end of your faith, salvation of souls.” We shall not receive salvation of the body till He comes for whom we wait; but we are not waiting for the salvation of souls. This the gospel announces with all plainness of certainty. Christ has wrought such a work for it that no addition could make it more complete in itself or more efficacious for him that believes. He is not like the earthly priest standing to renew what never could be finished. When He had offered one sacrifice for sins, He in perpetuity (or without a break) sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made the footstool of His feet. Whatever else He may do, He has nothing to do for cleansing the worshipper. For by one offering He has perfected in perpetuity those that are sanctified; His seat there proclaims it.
But we are told by one who denies this present fruit of Christ's work to be here meant, that the word κομιζόμενοι quite forbids the sense of “present realizing,” and in every one of the references it betokens the ultimate reception of glory or condemnation from the Lord. Is this true? The texts are 2 Cor. 5:10, Eph. 6:8, Col. 3:25, 1 Peter 5:4, 2 Peter 2:13; which in fact disprove the strange allegation. For indisputably the first is from its nature only a future scene with which the aorist subjunctive falls in. The second and third not only presuppose that day but are expressly the future tense, like the fourth. The fifth is a future participle, whereas in the contested case of our text it is the participle of the present tense, and the context confirms that it is now. “Joy one cannot speak out and glorified” may be and is pleaded for a future sense. But will it be really so in that day, when perfection is come? When we know as we are known, will utterance fail as now?
“Glorified,” or full of glory, is no doubt an unusual word; yet to attribute this also to a joy too big for our present power of expression seems just to suit the fervor of the Apostle. Christ on high its source might readily clothe the Christians' joy with that character of glory before they themselves are there. Soul-salvation, before our bodies are conformed to the body of His glory, is a worthy end of our faith to receive now; for beyond all controversy the outer man follows the inner, and God never disappoints the believer of his hope. Salvation “of souls” too by its restricted application fittingly lends itself to what the believer receives now; whereas for the future the Apostle does not so qualify “salvation,” as we have already remarked.

Kingdom of God: 9

Peter was not to suppose that to sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, was the only reward that the glorified Son of man will distribute at His coming. The fact is, that Peter himself, and the other apostles, as members of Christ's body, of His flesh, and of His bones, coheirs with Him and with all who are His members thus, will inherit a higher place of glory than the sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Peter would, as it were, have made our compact with our Lord; and had he been excluded from all that is not comprised in the promise here made to him, there are glories in which he would not have shared, which fall to the lot of us poor sinners of the Gentiles. Peter was to understand that there would be others to be rewarded besides the apostles; yea, and he was not to suppose that because the apostles were first in order of time, their reward would necessarily be greater than that of those who came after them. “But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder,” &c. (20:1-16). If we seek to make the Lord our debtor, we must not complain if we find that He gives us barely what we agree with Him for, and gives quite as much to others who enter the vineyard almost at the close of the day. The “kingdom of heaven” is clearly distinguished here from “the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory.” It is in the kingdom of heaven that the service is rendered—the labor accomplished—which meets its reward in “the regeneration,” when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory.
The request preferred by the mother of Zebedee's children, in verses 20, 21 of this chapter, is another expression of the same spirit which our Lord had been correcting in the parable of the laborers. The blessed Savior assures them that they shall drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism; but the place they shall fill in His kingdom He leaves to His Father's will. He takes occasion from the whole to put in contrast the ways of the Gentiles, of which these disciples so much savored, and the ways of His kingdom in its present mysterious state. He, the King, came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many; and what but to tread in His steps can become those who are the subjects, during His rejection, of the kingdom of heaven.
The beginning of chapter 21 presents us with a little pledge of that future kingdom which awaits our Lord, when the whole nation shall say, what the multitude of the disciples then said: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest!” Full proof was given at once, however, that the nation was not ready for that kingdom then. The very cries of the children in the temple who said Hosanna awoke the indignation of the chief priests and scribes: “they were sore displeased.” The kingdom could not therefore be then set up in power, and the glory of it be introduced. Nevertheless a kingdom had come nigh to them; and our Lord, by the parable of the two sons, to whom the Father said, “Go, work to-day in my vineyard,” presses on His hearers the solemn truth that the publicans and harlots were more ready to go into the kingdom of God than the most religious people of that day.
In the next parable, verses 33-44, Jesus takes a review of all God's dealings with that nation. He had let out His vineyard to husbandmen, and sent, time after time, to receive the fruits; but of His servants they beat one, and kill another, and are now about to slay the Son and Heir whom the owner of the vineyard had last of all sent, saying, “They will reverence my Son.” What can be done to these husbandmen by the Lord of the vineyard? Even they themselves answer: “He will miserably destroy these wicked men, and will let out His vineyard to other husbandmen, which shall render Him the fruits in their seasons.” How solemn the reply of Jesus! “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”
All hope of Israel's present reception of the kingdom, as promised to those of old time, being thus cut off, our Lord goes on in chapter 22 to present another likeness, or comparison, of the “kingdom of heaven” which was to intervene between that crisis and the one yet future, when the Son of man shall be revealed, and sit upon the throne of His glory. A marriage feast made ready by the king in honor of His son, and His servants sent out to invite the guests, is a different thing from a vineyard let out to husbandmen, and the servants sent to require the fruit. But alas! the heart of man has no worthier answer to the grace and goodness of the one than to the just and righteous claims of the other. They make light of the invitation, and spitefully entreat and slay the servants who are the bearers of it. This fills up the measure of their iniquity, and the king sends forth His armies (the Romans) and destroys those murderers, and burns up their city. But is His grace to be disappointed, and His table unfurnished with guests? No: the servants are sent out into the highways to gather together all, as many as they find, good and bad, and in the end the wedding is furnished with guests. Precious testimony of the grace which now gathers us, irrespective of what we are, to share the feast and enjoy the blessedness which God, of His own grace, and for the honor of His Son, has prepared for us! One solemn word there is at the close of this parable (may our hearts deeply and fully learn it!), that, even as the freeness of the invitation is all the warrant we need to enter, so surely, if that has reached our hearts and wrought effectually there, the wedding garment will be worn by us as our only title to sit at the table. Christ will be all our confidence, all our hope. It is this that distinguishes between the real and the fictitious, the true and the false, in the kingdom of heaven.
In chapter 32:13 the Lord denounces a fearful woe upon the scribes and Pharisees, because they will not enter this kingdom of heaven themselves, and because they do what they can to hinder others from entering in besides.
The remaining notices of the kingdom, and parables respecting it in chapters 24, 25 and 26 of this Gospel, have been already so fully discussed in the paper on the Gospel according to Matthew, page 121, vol. 1 of “The Prospect,” that I would simply refer the reader to its contents, and here, for the present, close my remarks. It may be that, if the Lord should tarry, opportunity may be afforded of going through the other Gospels also, noticing any points of difference in the light in which they present the kingdom, as compared with this Gospel of Matthew; and touching upon the passages in the Acts and Epistles too. But this is in our Father's hands. May He, of His grace, make all our inquiries into His precious word effectual to the sanctification of our souls, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen. (concluded from p. 92)

The Principles Displayed in the Ways of God Compared With His Ultimate Dealings: Part 1

It seems to me that the examination of the great principles, which God has brought out in His ways in the history given us in the Bible, would facilitate the intelligence of His ultimate dealings with men and the understanding of their prophetic announcements, the accomplishment of which will be the establishment in power of the principles which God has already displayed and taught historically in His dealings of old. I send you, therefore, some thoughts upon the progressive development of these principles. In the very outset of creation we have one of the last importance, which also gives in figure the ultimate results of God's ways in His dispensations towards men, a kind of exhibition of ἀρχὴ τῆς θεωρίας, which is to be τέλος τῆς πράξεως.
Adam was created in the image of God, and was set to rule over the works of God's hands, the center of a vast system subordinated to him, and over which he had universal dominion. He was, says the apostle, the image of Him that was to come; and the same apostle takes the eighth Psalm, which, in the letter of its application there, would be limited to the first Adam, and applies the universality of its terms to the full dominion of the Second. No doubt the dominion of the Second Man is far more extensive than that of the first, because, having Himself created all things, He is to inherit all He has created. But it is not the less true that the first Adam, as image of God, as center of the system in which he was placed, as having dominion over the creation by which he was surrounded, was the image or type of the Lord Jesus, Son of man, head over all things. Other accessories enlarge this resemblance. Eve, partaker of a lordship to which she had no right of her own, but which she enjoyed as one with Adam, is the liveliest picture of the church, and so used beautifully by the apostle in Eph. 5. According to Rom. 5, we have also in Adam fallen, the head of a race involved in his sin and all its consequences, as in the Last Adam, when righteousness was accomplished, the head of a brotherhood or family which participates in all that He is as the head of it in the presence and sight of God.
I pass over the time before the flood, whose general character offers a sad contrast to the time when righteousness dwells in the new heavens and the new earth, without a government to maintain it and make it good against the opposition of an adverse nation or the weakness of a failing one. Neither the one nor the other can properly be called “dispensation.” They are both another world from that in which we live.
With Noah we begin the course of dispensations, or of the manifestations of the ways of God for the final bringing out of the full glory of Christ. These ways regard the earth and are founded, so far as they are conferred blessing, on the sacrifice of Christ. Enoch indeed had been taken out of the midst of a corrupt world and had a heavenly portion, while he testified of the judgment of the world, out of which he was called, by the coming of the Lord with His saints, a very remarkable anticipation of our portion in Christ. But Noah was preserved through the deluge, to begin a new world, of which he was the head and chief.
The name Noah is expressive of the rest of the earth, comfort concerning the work of men's hands, because of the ground which Jehovah had cursed. Three especial features accompany and characterize this position: the sacrifice which turned aside the curse; the restraint of evil; and the pledge of secured blessing to creation while earth lasted. But, as regards dispensation, Noah was the head of a new system where evil was, but where evil was to be restrained, and the curse relieved under which the earth groaned.
The next important principle brought out is calling and election. The earth was not only now corrupt and violent—it had departed from God. It had not liked to retain God in its knowledge, and served other gods. God, in sovereign election, calls Abram to follow Him apart from the world; and separation from the world, for the enjoyment of promise by faith, becomes the divine principle of blessing. Abraham is the father of all them that believe. He has to quit all on the supreme claim of Jehovah—country, kindred, and father's house, for a land only in promise, which God would show him. Brought there, he has still to walk by faith in patience, not yet inheriting the promises. When in possession of them in pledge, in Isaac he has to give them all up, as held in the present life of Isaac, by unquestioning confidence in God, to receive them in the power of One Who raises the dead.
We have election, call, promises, by which the believer is a stranger in a world departed from God. To this we may add the distinct principle of receiving the promises by the power of God in resurrection. This special position made Abraham to be in a peculiar manner, the father of the faithful, of all them that believe; the father of many nations before God, in Whom he believed, the heir of the world. The detail of the promises, whether of the blessings of the nations, only given in Gen. 12, and confirmed to Isaac in Gen. 22, or of a numerous seed according to the flesh, and of the land of Canaan, are not properly our subject here.
The latter leads, however, to the next important step in the ways of God, the formation and deliverance of a people from the power of their enemies by judgments and an out-stretched arm, by which they were set apart as a people of dilection to God on the earth. Israel's coming up out of Egypt is, I need not say, the event in which this was prefigured. Long subject to hostile and oppressive Gentiles, and particularly at the close, when God was about to deliver them, His arm (Who had already given the blood of the Lamb as the safeguard against His righteous judgment) delivered the people with a power which none could dispute, executing judgment on the proud enemies who oppressed them, and defied His majesty. Joseph and his Egyptian wife had given meanwhile the remarkable type of a rejected Christ exalted on high and his Gentile bride, who had made him to forget all his affliction and his father's house.
But Israel's deliverance gave occasion to the introduction of an entirely new principle, not the prefiguring the ways of God, but the putting of man to the proof on the revealed principles of what he ought to be, and that, when thus delivered and brought near to God, as a favored people guarded of Him, with every motive and means for walking before Him Who had thus borne him on eagle's wings, and brought him to Himself. In a word, the law came in. Immediately broken, Israel is anew, through intercession, placed under it as a condition, with the added revelation of all the graciousness and goodness of the character of Him under Whose government he was placed, and Who would act in that government on the principles thus revealed. Still he was placed under law, and held the blessings under the condition of his own obedience. This, as the apostle states, came in by the bye, added because of transgression, till the Seed should come to Whom the promise was made. The law in itself could do nothing but convict man of his incompetency. But it gave in general the principle of a rule of God's will, to be written afterward in the heart of His earthly people; in obedience to which, maintained in their hearts by God, they would enjoy the blessing conferred by Him on His people on the earth. But on the principles of government declared by God to Moses, and announced in Exodus, the people were placed on the mediation of the priesthood under the immediate government of God. The priesthood was there to maintain the blessing if there was failure (where it was not departure from God or sinning with a high hand); and Israel, in obedience, would have had their peace flow like a river.
But Israel, incapable of walking by faith and trusting God even when the blessings were immediately consequent on obedience, prefers being like the nations, and demands a king, when God was his king. However, this gave occasion to the revelation of another principle of God's ways with men, the establishment of royalty in Zion, a royalty whose sway should extend much farther, and in which the Gentiles should trust. However, royalty is established and in Zion, and that by grace, after the failure and ruin of the people, through disobedience to God, under His immediate government. The priesthood itself loses its place, and the faithful priest is to stand before God's anointed. The king is now the anointed of God. The principle of this royalty is on one side the throne of Jehovah (Solomon is said to sit “on the throne of Jehovah”), and on the other, it is strength out of weakness. See Hannah's song. It is the reestablishment of Israel in blessing, when hopelessly ruined, by the means of the rejected, but God-fearing, King, Who delivers them from their enemies and subdues the heathen. This re-establishment by royalty has a double bearing, the blessing of the people after their ruin, by the deliverance wrought, and their re-establishment in accepted worship after the guilt—the temple after Shiloh—and that in a peculiar manner in grace, after the numbering of the people. There were three stages to this royalty: when rejected entirely in Israel; when the ark was placed by David on Mount Zion—the energy of victory in connection with the assured covenant, but not yet the blessing of peace: after this the third state, which was Solomon's. Christ, I doubt not, has filled up, or will fill up, all these: the rejected, the victorious, and the peaceful King. In general, we have the important additional principle of a human, ordained king, in a royalty established by God over His people, said to be seated too on Jehovah's throne. This, as we know, in man's hands failed, like all the rest, and gave rise to another and large modification of the principle of royalty, the confiding the power of universal dominion, wherever the children of men dwell, to man on the earth. This was sovereignly conferred beyond the limits of Jewish promise and dominion, acquired by no faithful service in suffering, but divinely bestowed by the God of heaven. This also fell, and more than fell. Substituted for the Jewish royalty, it united with the Jews and their ecclesiastical rulers in the rejection of the Son of God and King of the Jews, one of which titles, in its lowest acceptation, is the character in which, above all descent from David, though that be at the same time true, Christ is to have the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession, and the other of which expresses evidently His title among the Jews as the anointed, the Son of David. We have thus far all these features:
Adam, center of the earthly system under God. Noah, head of the earth blessed after the curse, restraining evil.
Abraham, called by election out of the world, to which promise was annexed.
A people redeemed and formed as such, as belonging to God on the earth.
The law, the rule of the people so formed, and the path of blessing as the will of God.
The royalty of Israel in the family of David. And the royalty of the Gentile world, sovereignly conferred by the God of heaven.
All these will be made good in Christ, in person, or for His people. He is the Second Adam, the head of the earth restraining evil after the curse, the chosen one separate from the world in Whom all the promises are Yea and Amen; the head and uniter of redeemed Israel, the true vine, the son called out of Egypt, the one in whom the law was magnified.
These two facts will also have their accomplishment hereafter in His people: the Son of David; and the head of the Gentile world established such by the sovereignty of God.
Hence all this progress of development closed with the rejection of Him in Whom all was to be accomplished.
(To be continued, D.V.)

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Matthew

Chap. 5 Divine Design.—28. Matthew
A new language, the characteristically Gentile one i.e. the Greek, marks outwardly a still deeper inward distinction in what is commonly the New Testament. Its basis is the Son of God come, who has given all who believe, Jew or Greek, an understanding that we should know Him that is true. The gospel therefore goes out freely to every creature, and the children of God are gathered in one by the Holy Spirit; whilst the Lord, ascended to heaven, promises to come and receive His own, before the day of His appearing when the kingdom shall be set up over the earth in visible and indisputable glory, and Christ's supremacy be manifested over all creation heavenly and earthly which the church shall share as His bride. Hence God is revealed as He is in light and love; man is laid bare as wholly evil and lost; provisional dealing and probation yield to grace and truth come in Jesus Christ, Who, rejected of man and the Jews especially, accomplished redemption, and brings in the new things according to the hidden but eternal counsels of God, before He will resume His relations with Israel in fulfillment of His promises to the fathers and the blessing of all families of the earth in the restitution of all things, of which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began.
In the first Gospel the Holy Spirit has for the distinctive object, as shown in its contents, to set forth Jesus as the Christ or Messiah, according to promises and prophecy; Son of David, Son of Abraham, in an especial sense; yet rejected by the Jew no less but more than by the Gentile, and so proclaiming Himself Son of man to suffer for mankind, and be exalted to heavenly and universal glory. The mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens meanwhile are disclosed to faith, and the church, part of a mystery still greater, is built on Him, the Son of the living God, before He returns as Son of man in power and glory.
Hence chap. 1 furnishes His genealogy in the Messianic point of view, down from the roots of promise and royalty in three series of fourteen generations, in which the few women named carry the manifest significance of grace to Gentiles and the grossest of sinners. It is Joseph's line from Solomon, which was legally essential; though due care is taken to mark His birth of “the virgin” of that house by the Holy Spirit, according to Isa. 7, Emmanuel, and Jehovah or Jah in His very name.
In chap. 2 magi from the east are seen coming to pay homage to the born King of the Jews; but they learn Bethlehem to be the birthplace, as Micah had predicted long before. An Idumean under Roman authority then ruled Jerusalem; and king and people were troubled at the tidings. But the strangers are angelically warned as well as Joseph, to defeat the designs of Herod, and thus also to accomplish Hos. 11:1 and Jer. 31:15. The return to dwell at Nazareth, despised as it was, fell in with the prophecies that such was to be Messiah's lot.
Chap. 3 presents the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah. It is John the Baptist saying, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens path drawn nigh: a testimony to Christ's coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. But Jesus stoops to be baptized, and is owned as Son by the Father, while the Spirit descends on Him visibly. The Trinity now revealed.
In chap. 4 we have Jesus tempted by the devil forty days and after that in three special ways, but victorious. Then when John was delivered up, the Lord's Galilean ministry begins, as in Isa. 9:1, 2, and the call of the earlier disciples, with a general summary of His teaching and preaching which attracts from far beyond that province, of His healing all sickness and disease, and of His power over demons.
Then in chaps. 5-7 He on the mount lays down authoritatively the principles of the kingdom in contrast to the law, with the manifestation of the Father's name and the suited word, concluding with the security of the obedient, but the sin and vanity and ruin of mere profession.
Chapter 8 displays the reality and character of Jehovah's presence in Christ here below: (1) the Jewish leper, (2) the Gentile centurion, (3) Peter's wife's mother, (4) the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4, (5) the scribes and the disciples, (6) the tempest rebuked, and (7) the demoniacs delivered. In chap. 9 is shown the growth of unbelieving hatred and blasphemy brought out by (1) the paralytic forgiven, (2) the tax-gatherer called, (3) the question of fasting, (4) the ruler's child raised, (5) and on the way the flux of blood healed, (6) the two blind given to see, and (7) the dumb demoniac to speak.
Thereon, deeply pitying the distressed and scattered sheep of Israel, He bids His disciples pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers; and in chap. 10 He sends forth the twelve with authority like His own over unclean spirits and diseases, but as yet only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (not to Gentiles or Samaritans), preaching the kingdom, as John had preached and Himself. He prepares them for enmity and tells them that their task will not close till the Son of man be come, while He assures them, not only of the Spirit's aid, but of honor and reward before His Father.
In chapter 11 Christ testifies to John, instead of getting due testimony from him; shows that the kingdom calls for decision at all cost but is well worth while; reproves the caprice of “this generation;” and warns the cities unrepentant in the face of the powers displayed, but bows with gracious confession to the Father, Who bid these things from wise and understanding men, yet revealed them to babes. He not only sees but announces a higher glory and a deeper grace opening out than if Israel had received Him after the flesh.
After the rest given to faith, chap. 7 opens with the lesson of the sabbaths perverted to deny His glory Who is Lord of the sabbath as of all, and with the resolve of the Pharisee to destroy Him. The Lord retires, heals still, but charges them not to make Him known. He bows to His rejection. In another and deeper way would the divine counsel be made good, as Isa. 42 declared. So, when a blind and dumb demoniac was healed and the Pharisees attribute His power to Beelzebub, He warns of the blasphemy against the Spirit that shall not be forgiven, pronounces the last state of “this evil generation” to become worse than the first, and owns His true relationship henceforth to be, not with mother and brethren after the flesh, but whosoever shall do the will of His Father Who is in heaven.
Accordingly in chap. 8 the Lord expounds in seven parables (beginning with His new work as the Sower of the word and in six following similitudes) the mysteries of the kingdom consequent on His rejection and going on high. The first took in His work before the kingdom was set up in the heavens, and was spoken outside like the next three. The interpretation of the wheat field spoiled by darnel was given within the house like the last three. But, whatever His words or works, the Jews stumbled at the stumbling-stone, His person.
In chap. 14 we see the state morally no better but rather worse. Yet if the Lord withdraws, His compassion to Israel is unabated. He heals their diseases, satisfies the poor with bread as the true and royal Son of David, dismisses the multitude, and goes up the mountain to pray, the picture of His present work on high. But when the disciples are tempest-tossed with the winds contrary, He rejoins them, and the wind ceases, and those in the ship pay Him homage as God's Son. And now He is recognized and welcomed in His beneficent power.
Chap. 15 is the Lord's judgment of earthly religion proud in the poverty of tradition, with an unclean condition inwardly, whatever the zeal in washing of hands. On the other hand, if a Canaanite under curse cried for mercy against a demon's oppression, would Jesus deny her? He vindicates her faith, while He renews His labor of love in despised Galilee, and abundantly blesses the provision of the poor as the true Son of David.
In chap. 16 none the less does the Lord denounce the hypocrisy of a generation seeking after a sign, while blind to all set before them so fully. No sign should be given but that of Jonah's death and resurrection, opening the door to Gentiles. If men said this or that, Simon Peter confesses Him Christ, the Son of the living God, as revealed of the Father. And the Son also gives him a new name, declares that on this rock He will build His church, and confers on him the keys of the kingdom: two distinct, yet connected, systems of blessing to replace Israel. Thereon He announces His suffering, death, and resurrection, and calls on the one that owns Him to deny self, take up his cross, and follow Him.
Chap. 17 is a miniature though divine display of the kingdom, but Christ meanwhile declared Son of God, Who is to be heard, not law and prophets. Yet here below the disciples fail through unbelief; whereas Christ, proving Himself Lord of all, takes as yet no glory here, but associates His own with Himself in grace.
Next in chap. 18 He enforces humiliation in love as befitting His own in the kingdom; and in the church grace to win the wrong-doer with the sanction of heaven on their acts rightly done. The parable from ver. 23 teaches that such as professedly had forgiveness, but outraged its spirit, have all their guilt renewed to their ruin.
Chap. 19 shows that, while God's constitution of man is right, grace reveals better things to those that share Christ's rejection, and that God encourages fidelity by due reward. It ought to be plain that there are no thrones for the apostles till the regeneration when the Lord comes in glory. Those “enthroned” meanwhile are not their true successors, but affect Gentile grandeur.
Chap. 20 begins with the other side of God's rights in a parable maintaining His sovereignty. But the Son of man's path lies through shame and death, and there is no other way to glory, though the disposal is His Father's. The danger is from a fleshly mind, which is no better than a Gentile's: the Son of man on the contrary came to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
The Lord had now entered on His last journey to Jerusalem; and the healing of the two blind men near Jericho begins the final presentation of Himself Who knew the end before He began (20: 29-34). In chap. 21 He accomplishes Zech. 9:9, purges the temple, and defends the children's Hosannas with Psa. 8. The curse on the fig-tree was the sentence on the people, full of show but without fruit; and when the religious chiefs ask for His authority, He puts a question to their conscience. When they shirk the answer, He sets out one parable that shows them to be worse than the tax-gatherers and the harlots; and in another He describes God's dealings with the rebellious people, even to His own rejection in death. They themselves must own (ver. 41) their just destruction; on which He cites Psa. 118:22, and connects with it not only the removal of the kingdom of God from them but the effect of both His advents, now their stumbling on Him to be broken, by-and-by His falling on them to be scattered as dust. They knew what He meant, but as yet feared to do their will.
So in chap. 22 the Lord adds in a parable what grace has done and is doing, with the effects for the unbelieving, not only providential judgment which fell on Jerusalem, but that for each at the end and forever. Then come the Pharisees with the Herodians about the tribute, and the Sadducees about the resurrection, and the lawyer about the commandments, all answered to their confusion; after which the Lord puts the question of questions for a Jew (as indeed for any). Faith alone answers; but they had none; and there they are to this day.
In chap. 23 the Lord, while owning the law's authority (spite of the falseness of those who administered it), calls His disciples to the lowly position He had taken as their pattern; and He Who began with “Blessed, blessed,” now ends with “Woe, woe.” How their evil did not cease with His cross but went on against His servants, we know too well. But even here in declaring the inevitable retribution, He cannot close without a door of hope in the last verse (39).
Chaps. 24 and 25 are His great prophecy on the mount, beginning with the Jews, and ending with the Gentiles in 25:31 to the end. Between the two (from 24:45 to 25:30) is the part that deals with the Christian profession. This takes therefore the general unrestricted form of three parables, since the link is with Christ Himself, not with the land or the people of Israel: the house. bondman faithful or wise, or evil, respectively characterizing Christendom in comprehensive responsibility; the ten virgins, foolish or prudent, manifested by the reality or unreality of the hope when judgment falls; and the bondmen trading with His goods, good and faithful on the one hand, or wicked and slothful on the other, in individual responsibility. The sheep and the goats represent the true and the false, not in Christendom, but among all the nations in the end of the age, tested by the testimony of the King's “brethren” during that crisis, while the heavenly saints are with Christ on high before He appears, and they with Him, in the same glory.
In chaps. 26, 27 we have the unutterably solemn and touching scenes of the Lord's earthly close. The Lord announces it; the chief priests and their associates plot; the last anointing is done for His burial; the traitor covenants; the Lord directs the paschal feast and eats it with the disciples; He institutes His supper; He goes out to Olivet, and He enters on His agony in Gethsemane; and then becomes the willing Captive, as later the Victim. The mock trial before Caiaphas follows; and Peter denies, and Judas in remorse casts down his silver in the sanctuary and commits suicide. Pilate condemns the Holy One and releases Barabbas. Jesus is crucified, “the King of the Jews “: for this alone is Pilate firm. All rail, even the robbers. He dismissed His spirit; and the veil of the temple was rent, and the earth quaked, and the rocks rent, as there had been supernatural darkness around the cross when the Messiah made sin was abandoned by His God. But if men designed otherwise, He was with the rich in His death, as the prophet said so emphatically.
Chap. 28 tells of Him risen. What availed the keepers or the seal? And the angel, before whom the guard trembled, bade the women not fear, but tell the disciples He was risen and would meet them in Galilee, the familiar ground of His ministry. And so it was amid fear and joy and doubt: He Himself appeared and confirmed it, whatever lying Jews and bribed Gentiles pretended. There too He gave them His commission. “All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go ye, disciple all the nations, baptizing them unto the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo! I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the age.” Here may be seen what supersedes Israel till the age is ended. When the new age comes, they will be owned and blessed as the head of the nations. The first dominion will be Zion's. Even during that period (for such is the consummation of the age, not a mere epoch) there will be a suited state of transition. Till then discipling proceeds; and disciples are to be baptized to the name, not of Jehovah, but of God fully revealed as now—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Observance of Christ's injunctions follows, with the assurance of His constant presence: a condition quite distinct from His millennial reign in manifested power and glory.

Surrounding Us

Q.-Heb. 12:1: how seeing, or surrounding? M.
A. We are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, not spectators of us, but giving testimony in faith; but the call is to look away from all else to Jesus, the leader and completer of faith. Neither sentiment nor superstition can do anything here but hinder our running the race well; and this can only be with endurance rather than energy.

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Isaac: 20. The Generations of Isaac

Gen. 25:19-26
As we have had occasion to remark in scripture, the Spirit briefly notices the fleshly claim before giving us what is of grace: not first the spiritual but the natural; afterward the spiritual. We have had Ishmael's generations of much and speedy show; now we hear of Isaac's.
“And these [are] the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son. Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebecca as wife, daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-Aram, sister of Laban the Syrian. And Isaac entreated Jehovah for his wife, because she [was] barren; and Jehovah was entreated of him, and Rebecca his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If so, why [am] I thus (or, do I live?)? And she went to inquire of Jehovah. And Jehovah said to her, Two nations [are] in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels; and [one] people shall be stronger than [the other] people; and the elder shall serve the younger. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, twins [were] in her womb. And the first came out red all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out; and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob; and Isaac [was] sixty years old when she bore them” (vers. 19-26).
It is of God that faith should be tried. The promise is sure; but the believer has to wait for it. Ishmael can boast of his twelve sons, with names soon notable by their villages, if not “towns,” and by their encampments, if not castles. Isaac mourned for a mother beloved, and had not a wife provided for him, till he was forty years old. Even then he abides childless some twenty years. “And Isaac entreated Jehovah for his wife, because she was barren; and Jehovah was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” As Abraham knew that “in Isaac should his seed be called,” yet staggered not at God's call to offer him up for a Burnt-offering, assured that this very Isaac would be given back to him and continue the line of blessing, so Isaac had His word securing the call inalienably in himself, the type of the promised Seed on Whom all hangs. It was grace; but grace revealed the channel through which the blessing was to flow, and this drew out his prayers, while patience had its perfect work. Isaac therefore entreated Jehovah, and Jehovah was entreated of Isaac. The trial of his faith was far from being so searching as Abraham's. It was suited to each in divine wisdom. Strong faith shone in the father, gracious dependence in the son, to the praise of God in the blessing of both.
We may notice too that Isaac and Rebekah were kept from the snare that involved Abraham and especially Sarah in the grief which impatience brought into their home. In Rebekah's case there was no thought of building up the desired heir to Isaac by a concubine; nor did he on his part look to so fleshly a device. Conjugal faithfulness and purity in the main characterized the pair. They hoped for the promised boon which for so long they saw not; but with patience they waited for it, and not in vain. Isaac did not faint, but besought Jehovah according to His promise, and he was heard in due time.
There were to be twins. And the children gave anticipative token to their mother, as we are told, for her trial, so that she too went to inquire of Jehovah. Who can overlook the propriety with which the name of covenant relationship is here employed? All intrinsic value is lost by the supposition that it is due to an accidental occurrence of that designation; it is really divine purpose clothing the account with the title of moral government. Nor is there any ground to fancy that she consulted Melchizedek or journeyed to Moriah. Without either she knew where to find Jehovah and how to inquire of Him. Her faith might be weak, but it was real, and without superstitious dependence on any man or place.
Here was Jehovah's answer (ver. 23): “Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels; and people shall be stronger than people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” Predestination as to their history on earth is manifest here. It is made all the more striking, because the babes yet unborn were of the same mother as well as father, nay twins. So it is that the apostle in Rom. 9:10-12 deduces the truth intended. “But Rebekah also having conceived by one, Isaac our father, (for [the children] being not yet born, nor having done anything good or worthless, that the purpose of God according to election might abide, not of works, but of him that calleth) it was said to her, The elder shall serve the younger.” Divine sovereignty was thus shown to be as free as it is certain to faith. Fleshly descent on which the Jews founded their exclusive title is disproved; expressly and assuredly of Esau. For here flesh is excluded most distinctly, and the title is drawn from Jehovah's sovereign pleasure. His word made it all the more pointed by declaring that “the elder should serve the younger,” and this in view of their future nations respectively.
The details of fact follow. Esau appeared first, full of evident vigor; Jacob afterward, with his hand holding Esau's heel, which gave his name of supplanter before he had power with God. But it is meet, whatever appearances say, that God should have His way, not man; and if man resists, it is to his own sorrow, shame, and ruin. We perhaps may say of Jacob, that God placed more abundant honor on that which lacked. Is our eye evil because His is good?

Priesthood: 13. Not Eating the Sin Offering

Not Eating the Sin-Offering. Lev. 10:16-20
In the opening of the chapter we have seen God's great dishonor and man's great transgression, in presence of signal grace and not merely of creature responsibility. To this the priests were exposed, and therein the elder sons of Aaron fell. It was despising the Burnt-offering, and God's fire in its acceptance. Then came instruction to guard them against the expression of grief or the allowance of excitement. In these others might indulge, but not those who had the privilege of drawing near to His sanctuary. Their communion too with the holy oblation to Jehovah, and with the more freely enjoyed sacrifices of Peace offerings was duly explained. There remained the solemn injunction that the priests should eat the Sin-offering. Their failure in this respect closes the chapter, deeply appealing to us who, though of a heavenly calling, are no less apt to forget what it speaks to our souls and means before God.
“And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin-offering, and, behold, it was burnt up; then he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons [that were] left, saying, Why have ye not eaten the sin-offering in the place of the sanctuary? For it [is] most holy; and he hath given it to you, that ye might bear the iniquity of the assembly, to make atonement for them before Jehovah. Behold, its blood was not brought in within the sanctuary: ye should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded. And Aaron said to Moses, Behold, to-day have they presented their sin-offering and their burnt-offering before Jehovah; and such things as these have befallen me! And had I to-day eaten the sin-offering, would it have been good in the sight of Jehovah? And Moses heard, and it was good in his sight” (vers. 16-20).
Thus the rest of the priestly house, though not guilty of the error fatal to Nadab and Abihu, broke down in a weighty part of their obligations; and all this was, sad to say, at the very start. So humiliating is God's history of man everywhere and at all times, as we may trace from the first Adam to the Second man Who never failed. How blessed for God is His coming and work, and for us who so deeply need it!
Perhaps it would not be possible to find a more wholesome warning for our souls in relation to our brethren, alike set free by the work of Christ to draw near to God, and exhorted as having boldness to enter into the holies by virtue of His blood through the rent veil. It is no presumption, but the “boast of hope” which we are called to hold firm unto the end, that we are in very deed His house, as truly as, and far more blessedly than, the priests were Aaron's. It is a real and rich part of the harvest of blessing we enjoy through redemption; and the Aaronic was comparatively imperfect.
But if we are entitled even now to far greater boldness and access in confidence through the faith of Him, we are bound to identify ourselves in grace with the failures of our brethren, as they with ours. None but the Savior could atone for us. His sufferings on the cross could alone avail to bring us to God. Whatever we had been, He now did reconcile us in the body of His flesh through death; and in Christ Jesus those who were far off are become nigh by His blood, Who is our peace and made the most opposed one, having broken down the middle wall of partition and annulled the enmity in His flesh, that He might form the two in Himself into one new man. Thus it is through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Yet as a fact we all and often offend; and we are exhorted to confess our sins or offenses to one another. Is this all? Far from it, we have to fulfill the type before us, to eat the Sin-offering in the sanctuary, to make the offense of a saint our own seriously in grace before God.
This goes far beyond the kindest feeling. It is so both in the deep sense of what is due to God, and as if we ourselves had offended. This is to bear the iniquity of the assembly, savoring the things that are Christ's, not those of men who would palliate and excuse. Hence it was to be eaten, not in a clean place only like the Peace-offering, but in the holy place. Propitiation had its unique moment; but priestly grace has also its due place and season in nearness to God.
So the Lord, when indicating by His symbolical action in John 13 the gracious but indispensable work He was about to carry on for us on departing to the Father, lets them know that they too were to wash one another's feet. In this it is communion practically with Himself. But here we are as apt to fail through ignorance or carelessness, as Peter did doubly on that occasion.
The apostle Paul too at a later day, who could not but censure the insensibility of the Corinthian saints in 1 Cor. 5, had the joy of learning that they were made sorry according to God, as he expresses it in 2 Cor. 7:9. “What earnest care it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what longing, yea what zeal, yea what avenging! In everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter.” Again, to the Galatian saints he writes, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” instead of meddling with the law of Moses to the hurt of themselves and of each other. Individual responsibility remains true: each shall bear his own burden; but grace would bear one another's burdens.
Intercession with our God and Father is a precious privilege which it is our shame to neglect. It keeps God's rights undiminished, and exercises the heart in saintly love. Let us never forget that grace condemns evil far more profoundly than law did or could; but it holds fast Christ in life and death and thereby the erring believer's title, as it is in unison here below with what He is doing on high as Advocate with the Father.

Proverbs 10:1-10

This chapter begins the less consecutive communications of the book, after the rich presentation of sententious wisdom of more general character seen in the previous nine. We are now introduced to those detached and pithy moral axioms, given to instruct the mind and fasten on the memory for profit day by day.
“The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son [is] the grief of his mother.
Treasures of wickedness profit nothing; but righteousness delivereth from death.
Jehovah suffereth not the soul of the righteous to famish; but he repelleth the craving of the wicked.
He cometh to want that dealeth [with] a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
He that gathereth in summer [is] a wise son; he that sleepeth in harvest [is] a son that causeth shame.
Blessings [are] on the head of the righteous; but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. The memory of the righteous [is] blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot.
The wise in heart receiveth commandments; but the foolish of lips shall fall.
He that walketh in integrity walketh securely; but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.
He that winketh with the eye causeth grief; but the foolish of lips shall fall” (vers. 1-10).
In the first verse is stated the importance of cultivating wisdom in a son, not the acquisition of such knowledge as distinguishes among men or promotes the interests of the family or of himself. Vanity and pride, selfishness and greed, are thus guarded against. That is commended which cannot be without the fear of Jehovah. How sad if God's people were as indifferent as the Gentiles that know Him not? Is Christendom really better now? Is wisdom the aim of the School Board or the Education Council? It makes “a glad father “; as its absence cannot but fall as grief to the “mother” especially. How many sons bright, applauded, and successful end in shame and ruin!
The second carries out the warning of the first verse. “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing.” They may dazzle, and furnish the amplest means of self-gratification. But the end of these things is death; and God is not mocked Who will judge by Him in Whom was no sin, but only obedience in love. Righteousness is consistency with our relationships, the first of which is with Him Who is out of sight and forgotten. Now, as Solomon owned publicly when at the height of his earthly blessing, “there is no man that sinneth not,” righteousness cannot be for any man without looking out of himself to Him Whom God ever meant to send, as all that feared Him knew. The prophets here but emphasized what the faithful acted on from the beginning. To be self-satisfied, or indifferent, is to be unrighteous radically. To believe God and look for the Savior is alone right. He gives one to be righteous as well as justified: “he shall live by his faith;” and there is no other way. Righteousness therefore it is that “delivereth from death.”
Ver. 3 appropriately adds the comforting assurance that Jehovah, Who tries the righteous for their good in an evil age, “will not suffer the righteous to famish; but he repelleth the craving (or, the desire) of the wicked.” There is a righteous government in the midst of all sorts of difficulties, snares, and moral contradictions; the most Willful finds himself checked, as the most tried is sustained and cared for.
In verses 4 and 5 heedlessness is shown to work ruin, no less than more pronounced evil. It was not for such indifference that God made man in His image after His likeness; and when he fell, he got a conscience to know good and evil, as was not nor could be in a state of innocence. So we have, “He cometh to want that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” As man, it is good for him to eat bread in the sweat of his face. An idler is open to evil as well as poverty; the diligent works not in vain. Again, when all is bright and abundant, folly takes its ease and enjoyment; but he is a wise son that gathereth in summer. Thus he that sleeps when he ought to reap diligently must inevitably cause shame, whatever the love of those who are nearest.
Then verses 6 and 7 contrast the portion and the memory of the righteous with the wicked. While blessings are upon the head of a righteous man, to adorn and protect him, the mouth of the wicked is covered by violence, or violence covers it. They proceed farther in ungodliness, and their folly at length becomes evident. Whereas the memory of the righteous man lives as blessed, and the very name of the wicked shall rot.
Wisdom is manifested in lowly obedience (vers. 8, 9). “The wise in heart receiveth commandments; but the foolish of lips (the marked contrast) shall fall.” Man's true elevation is in looking up to Him Who deigns to guide the needy by His counsel. The foolish of lips proves that he neither knows whence wisdom comes, nor distrusts his own emptiness, and therefore shall he fall. But wisdom of heart does not stop at hearing but receives to obey, and is blessed in his doing; and so we are told here, “he that walketh in integrity walketh securely; but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.” He may be sly, and hope to lie concealed; but He Who sees all discloses the evildoer even in the dark day or night.
Very pregnant is ver. 10. “He that winketh with the eye causeth grief.” He may be ever so on his guard, he may not go beyond a sign of his evil eye; but he “causeth grief,” and without defining it farther. It may be grief to himself as well as to others. As before, here it is added that the foolish of lips shall fall. He is not a crafty dissembler, but falls through his outspoken folly.

Gospel Words: the Blind Man of Bethsaida

Mark 8:22-26
This is the later of the two miracles peculiar to the Gospel of Mark. As in the former the Lord led away the deaf man, who could not speak aright, from the crowd apart, so here He took hold of the blind man's hand and conducted him out of the village. The mass of the Jews had already had ample signs in testimony of Who and what He was. It was but for greater hardening of their hearts to see more. They might get their sick healed, they might eat of the loaves He made and be filled; but even the most orthodox sought from Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him; so that He could only groan in His spirit and say, Why doth this generation seek a sign? Had He not given them countless signs? In the sense of their unbelief, which a Syro-Phoenician woman's faith rebuked, the Lord leads aside from the multitude, though He still acts in compassionate grace. This could not fail where they bring distressful need before Him, the Servant not more righteous than gracious.
“And they bring him a blind man, and beseech him that he might touch him. And taking hold of the blind man's hand, he led him forth out of the village, and having spit on his eyes, he laid his hands on him, and asked him if he beheld anything. And having looked up he said, I behold men, for I see [them] as trees, walking. Then he laid his hands again on his eyes, and he saw distinctly, and was restored, and saw all things clearly. And he sent him to his house, saying, Neither enter into the village, nor tell [it] to any one in the village” (vers. 22-26).
It is the gospel of His service; and here, as throughout, we are made to behold the perfect manner in which His mighty works were done. It is not only the power of God ever ready to heal the sick and those oppressed by the devil. The way in which He answered every such appeal was worthy of the Son of God become servant to glorify God and win man. He put His fingers to the deaf man's ears, He touched the ill-speaking tongue. He laid His hands upon the blind man outside Bethsaida. There was no necessity for any such actions. He had but to speak, and it was done. But love is far beyond power; and when man has power to wield it in ever so limited a range, how little he thinks of love! Least of all does he, conscious however scantily of his sinfulness, look for love from the God he slights and dreads. The Lord in the way He wields divine power manifests divine love, and as Man in the midst of men. Nor is there the smallest ostentation but its marked absence: all is done in genuine simplicity as well as tenderness.
We may notice too that in the two miracles the Lord uses His own spittle, as He did also in the cure of the man born blind (told us in John 9). Whatever the reality and lowliness of the humanity He had taken up in His grace, there was divine efficacy in His person; and the sign of this He applies in all three cases, each having its own distinction. When He touched the tongue, He looked up to heaven with a groan, and says to the man, Be opened; and immediately the happy result follows. When He mixed clay with what came of Himself and anointed the born-blind man's eyes, He told him to go to Siloam and wash; and only then did he come seeing. Here the very intent was to mark by the twofold act of laying His hands on his eyes that the Lord would not have the cure partial. It was much to behold men, like trees, but walking. Yet the Lord would not let him go thus; He would give him to see distinctly. He therefore laid His hands upon his eyes, so that he was restored and saw all things distinctly. It was simply the way of love that the blind man might know the deep interest of His heart Who might have dispensed with any or all of these circumstances, and have effected the perfect cure with a word. But what a blank for the man and for our hearts, if it had been only so!
Indeed the instruction was great for the disciples who were then in a measure learning of His ways with Whom they were, and learned far more when He was gone and the Holy Spirit come. The former was no unmeet emblem of Israel's state, and had a sample of the powers of the world to come when the weak remnant shall become a strong nation, with ears opened and tongue loosed to speak Jehovah's praise. The latter in the partial cure might well remind the disciples that they during His earthly ministry did not see more clearly than the man when His hands were laid on him. once. How different when God raised Him up from the dead whereof they were witnesses! Then, He being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit, how great the blessing! Faith needs to have its perfect work, as well as patience. How often men stop short!
How is it with you who read these words? How are you treating Him, His words, and His works? You have to do with Him, whether you will or not. For the hour now is, when the dead have the voice of the Son of God sounding in their ears, and they that hear live. For this He when here prepared men. If He be the rejected Messiah, He is the Son of man and thus the destined Judge of mankind. How would it be with you if the hour of His judgment were come? Could you stand unabashed and unscathed before Him Whose eyes will be then as a flame of fire? Who searches the reins and hearts? Who will reward each according to his works?
What thanks shall one render, when one believes that the same Jesus is the Son of God, not only the true God but eternal life, ready and willing to give life eternal to you who can find it no where else? This is the way, the best way for a saint, the only way for a sinner, to honor the Son. It is to believe on Him; for indeed He is the way, the truth, and the life. Thus believing you do not come into condemnation, but even now have passed from death unto life. So He declares; so may you believe, and never be confounded.

1 Peter 1:10

The concluding verses of the introduction refer to salvation as far as it was originally disclosed to prophets, and now fully presented as glad tidings by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven, consequent on the sufferings which were to befall Christ and the glories that should follow, while we await that power which will even externally deliver from evil at His appearing. The brief unfolding here given was of extreme moment for the believing remnant whom the Apostle then addressed and all such as might follow. They had little difficulty in apprehending that the Lord in that day will not only accomplish the blessed and joyous prospect for the earth, but for the heavens also. Salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time, comprehends, though it be not limited to, their entering on an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfailing, reserved for them on high, whilst they need to be guarded in God's power through faith meanwhile. It is but soul-salvation now, the pledge of what is final, complete, and glorious in that day. The rejection of Christ and His absence on high brought in meanwhile a necessary modification which tests every soul of man, and not least those who had the early and partial revelations of God.
The unbelieving Jews sought to solve the difficulty by the fiction of two Messiahs: one the son of Joseph, of the tribe of Ephraim; the other the son of David, of the tribe of Judah; the first, to contend and suffer death; the second, to conquer and reign gloriously and forever. The Talmud taught it; the later Targum applied it to Song of Sol. 4:5, 7:3; and the Rabbis Solomon Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and D. Kimchi popularized it. Now we know that the Old Testament leaves no conceivable opening for two such personages, but lays the utmost stress on their being different states of the same Anointed of Jehovah. He was indeed the Son of David, not through Mary only as in Luke 3, but legally too through Joseph who was of Solomon's royal stem as in Matt. 1 And, what was of immeasurably deeper importance, He and He only of David's sons was David's Lord, as in Psa. 110:1 cited by Himself to confound the haughty adversaries who doubted and despised Him. The crowd then, and probably their leader, had not yet invented the delusion of a double Messiah; but they left no room for His sufferings, and cared only for His earthly glory as their vested right. Hence when He said (John 12:32), “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all to me” (this He said signifying by what death He was about to die), they answered, “We have heard out of the law that the Christ abideth forever: and how sayest thou, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
As we shall have more to say, when we look closely into ver. 11, we turn here to examine the details of what precedes in its due order.
“Of which salvation prophets that prophesied of the grace that [was] toward you sought out and searched out” (1 Pet. 1:10).
So we learn from Gen. 49:18. “Salvation” was identified with the coming and work of the Messiah. The believers little if at all understood how it was to be; but they had no doubt of the saving grace which would then be manifested. They recognized signal acts of deliverance meanwhile, as in the days of Moses the miraculous passage of the Red Sea; as in the work which Jehovah wrought by Jonathan; and as later still in Jehoshaphat's day, when the sons of Ammon and Moab and those of mount Seir destroyed each other to the relief of Judah whom they had menaced with ruin. But they looked on to the latter day as the goal of their hopes, when Messiah should establish the salvation fully and forever. How clearly it is “grace,” not of works whereof flesh might glory.
Hence in the Psalms we hear as in Psalm 14:7, “Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When Jehovah bringeth back the captivity of His people, then shall Jacob rejoice, Israel shall be glad.” In the second book Psa. 53 similarly concludes, “Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of His people, then shall Jacob rejoice, Israel shall be glad.” The times were dark, and growingly darker; but if the godly remnant fall back on what God, Elohim, is when covenant privileges were no longer enjoyed, they anticipate in faith God's scattering the ruined foe, and long for final salvation to come out of Zion as His center, when His people as a whole should return with everlasting joy. It is certain too from Psa. 67 that the Spirit of prophecy, if the written word had been but heeded, regards God's mercy to Israel as His way to extend His “saving health among all nations.” Sovereign grace is not more sure and definite than rich and free. “Let the peoples praise Thee, O God, let all the peoples praise Thee. Oh let the nations be glad and sing for joy! for Thou shalt judge the peoples with equity and govern the nations upon earth.” Nothing can be in more marked contrast with Jewish narrowness. Salvation is neither of prescriptive right, nor of personal merit, but of “grace.” And so will sing in a day yet to come, both the nations, and all Israel that shall be saved.
It is of deep interest to observe that the next Psa. 68, has for its central truth the Lord ascended on high, the mighty conqueror, Who, as He “received gifts in man” (i.e. as such), gave gifts to men. So the Apostle could add, without citing the words which await divine grace in its future activity, “yea, the rebellious also, for the dwelling of Jah Elohim [there].” Alas! the Jews are still rebellious; but the day hastens, when they shall look up and say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah; and He will assuredly come with a blessing never to pass away. Their God is the God of salvation; and so they are to prove, when in answer to their cry He rends the heavens and comes down, and all their righteousnesses are as a polluted garment in their eyes, as indeed they are, and He clothes them with the raiment of salvation and praise. But we must refrain from citing more from the book of praises.
None need wonder that the prince of prophets is pre-eminently rich in speaking of salvation so divine. In Isa. 7 which closes the first section of his prophecies, Isaiah predicts that Israel shall say, “Behold, God is my salvation: I will trust and not be afraid; for Jah, Jehovah, is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation. And with joy ye shall draw water out of the wells of salvation.” This follows beyond doubt the introduction of Messiah and His future reign in Isa. 11. In Isa. 25:9 he says when drawing to the end of the next section with various and prolonged thanksgiving, “Behold, this is our God: we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is Jehovah, we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” So in Isa. 26:1, “We have a strong city: salvation doth He appoint for walls and bulwarks.” In his third section, where the final troubler of Israel is revealed with a “woe” to him, Isa. 33, we have in Isa. 33:2, “Jehovah be gracious to us; we have waited for Thee. Be their arm every morning, yea, our salvation in the time of trouble;” then in Isa. 33:22, “Jehovah is our judge, Jehovah our lawgiver, Jehovah our king; He will save us.” Again in Isa. 35:4, “Be strong, fear not; behold, your God: vengeance cometh, the recompence of God! He will come Himself, and save you.” In the middle or fourth section of history we could not look for more than such a typical reference as Isa. 38:20. But in the fifth where “My servant” appears, we have ample testimony and in forms of great variety beyond the words “save” or “salvation.” He restores, redeems, forms for Himself, pours water and His Spirit upon them, as His witnesses and His servants as He is the God of Israel, the Saviour, “a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isa. 45:21-22; see also Isa. 45:8,17; Isa. 46:13). In the sixth division, where Messiah comes out fully and His rejection, salvation is still more conspicuous, as in Isa. 49:6,8,25; 51:5,6,8; 52:7. Who can be surprised that discerns the Saviour suffering, and exalted, in Isa. 53 where we have the fullest and clearest witness to Him and His work, though the expression of “save” or salvation there occurs not. But many other words point to that truth and the meritorious and efficacious cause, as in Isa. 53:5,6,8,10-11,12. In the seventh or last part we have its express and abundant mention, as in Isa. 59:1,11,16-17; 60:18; 61:10; 62:1; 64:5.
In Jeremiah it is enough to refer to Jer. 25:20; 33:10-11; 46:27; in Ezek. 34:22; 36:29; 37:23; Hos. 1:7; Zeph. 3:17, 19; Zech. 8:7, 13; 9:16; 10:6; 12:7. Only it would be a mistake to imagine that other prophets did not predict the same thing in other words. See for example Daniel (9:24) who confesses the sins of Israel and pleads the Lord's righteousness and name. Then comes the answer of a definite time, when the transgression should be closed, and an end made of sins, and expiation for iniquity, and everlasting righteousness brought in, and the vision and prophet sealed, and the holy of holies anointed. So it is with others, each in differing forms.
Nothing then can be plainer in result than that prophets predicted concerning the coming salvation, which did not fail for such as believed the gospel, like those to whom the Apostle addressed this Epistle. For what if the mass of the Jews were without faith? Their unbelief did not make of none effect the faith of God. Those who submit to His righteousness in Christ reap the blessing.
Prophets before them, we are told, diligently sought and searched diligently concerning that salvation. Their prophesying did not supersede the need or the profit of sedulous research, but rather stimulated it. No honor in prophesying saved its instruments from seeking and searching earnestly to understand what was given them to predict out of the fullness which is in God. Dependence is and has ever been called for, with confidence in His goodness and His tender consideration of our own ignorance and weakness. But the gift of His word encourages us to wait on Him for understanding it as far as pleases Him. So did inspired men, as we see notably in Daniel, for a case at hand, as well as for what would only be in the time of the end. Nor can any incidental fact more distinctly prove how truly prophecy was not of man's will nor shrewd guess of wit, but of God, Who spoke or wrote by His servant in the Spirit. For he had still to sift it with all diligence to understand what he had thus divinely uttered. Salvation was a rich blessing from God, transcending all that they possessed in gracious privilege and bound up with Messiah's day, which God alone gave prophets to anticipate. But what they prophesied, they needed to weigh and examine deeply to make truly their own, in whatever measure of intelligence that might be.

Christ as High Priest Entering Heaven and as King of Kings Coming Out: Part 1

It is the believer's privilege to see and judge everything in view of Christ; for He has not only revealed what God is in His nature and character, but fully brought out what man is. He has moreover made good at the cross, in and by His death, both the claim and the glory of God as to sin, having vindicated His majesty infinitely beyond the power of evil. If the cross encountered man's darkness in the deep and varied and complete guilt of a Christ-hating world, it was blessedly and forever answered by the light of God's glory on the throne above. Yea, it may be said most truly that man in the person of Adam was turned out of the earthly paradise because of his sin; but Christ the Second Man has entered heaven in virtue of redemption accomplished. It is God's righteousness.
The fact of Christ entering heaven testifies to the Jew and the Greek, that He was rejected, being refused His every right and title. For those who should have hailed Him as their true King said, Away with him, we have no king but Caesar; and in place of His temple and throne, they nailed Him to the cross, thereby sealing judgment on Israel, man generally, and the world.
But what says heaven of Christ now hidden there? What says the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven? Let us learn God's testimony to the wondrous sacrifice Christ has offered up, and the present blessed privileges to be known and enjoyed by believers in Him. They are immensely beyond what ancient shadows and types pledged; as the Epistle to the Hebrews plainly teaches. There Christ is presented as the antitype to Aaron the high priest who, on the Day of Atonement, entered the “holy of holies” with the blood of the slain bullock and the goat, sprinkling it before and on the Mercy seat. This secured redemption to Israel, priests and people, though only of value for twelve months; hence its repetition year by year. Even so Aaron must retire, from the presence of Jehovah, without the veil and never enter at other times under the penalty of death. Such was Israel's representative, entering the earthly tabernacle by blood, for the yearly redemption, as the divinely appointed means of maintaining an earthly nation. Who on earth could boast its like? But how vast the difference for the believer to-day, founded on the infinite sacrifice of Christ the Son of God. He came at the consummation of the ages, at the close of man's trial, to settle the question of sin by becoming the sacrifice for it. On God's part this He did, as Heb. 9 & 10 solemnly declare, when “through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God.” By His shed blood atonement was made. By the same death of Him the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom; though the declaration of the truth (as in the varied aspects and application of His atoning death) was reserved for the timely moment to unfold, that Christ by His own blood entered in “once for all” into the holy of holies, having obtained eternal redemption.
It may truly be said, all other wonders sink into insignificance in the light of Christ's death; yet its results, in the antitypical Aaron entering heaven, associated with His precious blood, by which eternal redemption was secured, may truly fill us with praise. No more offering for sin; no more blood of atonement to be shed. The One Who became the only sacrifice for sins on the cross is declared to have forever (in perpetuity) sat down on God's right hand. Thus the counsel of peace is between them both. God the Judge of sin, and Jesus the sacrifice for it, Who met for judgment at Calvary, are now together in heaven for indissoluble peace, and this to all the redeemed, God's new creation. Already not alone the conscience, but the heart and ways of every believer are called in matchless grace to be in unison with it. By one offering He has perfected forever those sanctified or set apart to God in the value of His blood, which meets the majesty and the glory of God's throne. Not only has Christ by His blood provided eternal redemption for faith in present unbroken blessedness to know and enjoy, together with a conscience purged from sin; but heaven itself is open for the believer to follow his precious Savior into the true sanctuary. There assuredly, as a purged worshipper, he in spirit finds his liberty and home, before that same holy and blessed God he once dreaded.
Strange indeed, that consecrated places of worship should be set up on earth to imitate the Jewish worship in the temple. Has not Christ entered heaven? and while He is hidden there, has not the Holy Spirit come to witness to His finished work and present exaltation? Thereby is given corresponding effect to believers, so as to draw near to God in the holies through the rent veil, as worshippers in full liberty and known blessedness. Do we not possess Christ on high as the Great Priest over God's house, which house we, believers, are (Heb. 3:6; 10:21)?
What now is the material temple? How contemptible its imitation, with its flowers, music, pictures and all other human aids to worship! How sad to accommodate or reduce the work and person of Christ to buildings, with a ritual earthly and sensational! Are we not now called to spiritual worship, in blessed association (for all true believers) with Himself on high? “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the [holy of] holies by a new and living way,” we are exhorted to draw near with a true heart.
The privilege was unknown and impossible in the typical days of Israel. Even Aaron himself had it not. Yet an assumed earthly ritual after his pattern (which ignores all believers as the only priests on earth, having free access to God in the heavenly sanctuary) is adopted growingly in Christendom, and sanctioned, alas! by those responsible to know better who act otherwise. Did they heed Christ, as having come, been nailed to the cross and gone into heaven, with the heavenly privileges ensuing to His own, true Christian worship in the Holy Spirit's power, they might learn; and they would refuse all which denies it, whilst awaiting the promised return of our hidden Lord and Savior.
If the truth of Christ the High Priest entering the holies is thus significant, and exceedingly precious in opening up the heavenly privileges for the believer of to-day; Christ coming out of heaven as King of kings is most solemn for the world, and has its voice for all pursuing its course. Since the departure of Christ to heaven, men have largely been dragged into the profession of His name, but with the heart and mind quite unchanged toward God. This really adds to the condemnation of Christendom. For there remains the standing fact, that God is at issue with the world about His beloved Son. The cross is its abiding witness; not this only, but the personal presence of God the Holy Ghost Who, as stated in John 16, gives demonstration in a threefold form of coming judgment. “Now is the judgment of this world” said He; and in view of His leaving the world, “The world seeth me no more” is solemn. The gospel moreover coming from heaven did not alter this. On the contrary the gospel supposes that man is lost and the world become a ruin. It does not propose to improve either, nor yet to rule the earth in power and righteousness, as the kingdom will ere long. The gospel saves men by faith, and calls them to heavenly glory with Christ.
(To be concluded, D.V.)

The Principles Displayed in the Ways of God Compared With His Ultimate Dealings: Part 2

The testimony of the Holy Ghost, in patience, called them who had put Him to death to repentance, but the call was unheeded and the guilt remained upon them. And thus closed all God's dealings with the earth, as presenting means of blessing to their acceptance, and Christ the Lord, the Son of man, must return, sent by the Ancient of days, before the principles of blessing held out, and the revealed means of relationship with God, could be made good in power and available in blessing.
In all this it will be evident that the church of God does not at all enter. The scene had for the time closed, in which these various principles were developed on earth, to be resumed in power when Christ returns there, to whom all the title and blessing belongs. Meanwhile He is hid in heaven, and unites to Himself a heavenly people outside all these ministrations, to be associated with Himself, as a better Eve, when He shall take the inheritance and accomplish all that God has held out to man.
Yet in one point evidently there is connection, that is, in Abraham. Although there be higher principles of blessing which have formed the subject of promise, such as being united to the Christ, members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, yet Christians do come in under Abraham as heirs of promise, as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, walking by faith, called out of the world. Thus they fill up the gap during the power of the Gentiles, guilty of rejecting the Lord, and the setting aside of the Jews for their despisal of Messiah, until called to take their place in the heavens with the Lord. In Christ we are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise, though God has reserved some better thing for us. But as the church, she is entirely outside all this, unknown and a mystery, till the time Israel was set aside, and there was nothing but what unknown and sovereign counsels might introduce, under God to keep Israel again for repentance and blessing.
This very plainly shows the distinction of the church from all earthly position and promise though manifested there until God shall again begin to act from the throne on the nations, and take up again His questions with the earth then in judgment, as heretofore in grace. But to His judgment men will be as callous as they have been to grace, till it assumes a character which there is no escaping, and when despair will be as complete as revolt and self-will were before. It does not enter into the subject of this paper to treat of the details of that day. The judgments on the Gentiles are the subject of the Apocalypse; the state of the Jews, of the Old Testament prophecies chiefly. After a moral preparation in the hearts of the Jews, the presence of the Lord Jesus will at once bring in the accomplishment, not only of promises made to them, but the concentration in His person and kingdom in the power conferred on Him, of all the scattered elements of the Divine ways previously revealed.
It may be remarked, that I have left prophecy out of the list I have given of manifestations of Divine intervention. The omission was not forgetfulness. A prophet was one by whom God sovereignly maintained His relationship and connection with Israel, and even in a measure with the world, when there was entire failure. It took place in every dispensation, and was not properly one, but ran through all, though God acted by it in emergencies. It revealed God and foretold Christ, but evidently was to cease when the things it spoke of were accomplished, for then it had no place. Its character was the sovereign intervention of God, not the development of His ways. Therefore as we see, it was in exercise at all times, when, as regards those ways, man had failed. It showed and reproved the failure, and encouraged the faith of the Jew, faithful among the faithless, in the enduring fidelity of the Lord, pointing out with an increasing fullness the intervention of God in power, when the faith that made its way through the power of evil would be no longer needed, because that evil would be set aside by power. Hence we find it in Enoch before the flood, in Noah, in the patriarchs, and, in a particular manner, in Samuel, when Israel had failed under the theocracy, and in Israel departed from God, and in Judah become unfaithful in her kings.
I do not touch here on the character of prophecy in the church, as spoken of in the Epistles. The church was based, as we have seen, on the failure of everything; and to it, and in it, the mind of God was specially communicated. To that which takes a definitely prophetic form the above remarks, however, fully apply in principle. Only the church counted faithful is made the depositary. We have prophecies in Thessalonians, Timothy, Jude, and Revelation. In the latter case, the part fully and properly prophetic treats of the world and the apostasy, or of the Jews; so that it takes a distinctly prophetic character, and returns to the principles stated above. The prophetic character was accomplished in the Lord at His first coming, as far as regards His person.
The priesthood does not enter either in its Aaronic character into the ways of God with man. It was the means of approach of man to God, and subsisted in connection with the existence of His people without a king and under the kings. It supposed an accepted earthly people, so far as it was in daily exercise, though there might be particular failure. So far as the acceptance of the people was in question, it was hidden within the veil. In this character it is Christ's present position as regards Israel, for we know the acceptance (the veil being rent). It existed under different dealings of God to maintain individuals in their position, and was not positively itself one.
J. N. D.

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Mark

Chap. 5 Divine Design.-29. Mark
The second Gospel has for its design the setting forth of the service “of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” He who at first failed but at length was pronounced “profitable for ministry” was just as suitable in the power of the Holy Spirit for that task, as Matthew called from the receipt of customs to be an apostle was for the first Gospel. Christ Himself serves in the gospel, and does mighty works accompanying it, as Mark describes. Before proceeding farther, the precision which Mark furnishes, partly by his characteristic “straightway” that so often occurs, partly by a perhaps still more definite specifying of time e.g. in chap. 4:35, enables us to clear up some difficulties in the different order of the events related in the three Synoptic Gospels. From a careful comparison it results, that of the four inspired writers, two were led to abstain save in the rarest degree from chronological order, two from their respective designs subordinate that order where requisite to a grouping of events or discourses independently; and of the two in each case one was an apostle, the other not. Matthew and Luke were from time to time not bound to simple historic sequence; whereas Mark and John as the rule adhere to it. None can be justly called “fragmentary “; for each has a specific design impressed on the work, and all that is inserted or omitted may be accounted for on this principle. Where an incident illustrates that which belongs to the scope of all four, they all introduce it, as for instance the miracle of the five loaves and the two little fishes. Where it falls in with the province of one only, there it is given and nowhere else; as the temple tax in Matt. 17, the deaf stammerer in Mark 7, the penitent woman in Luke 7, and the Samaritan woman in John 4, to mention but one of the many facts, signs, and discourses peculiar to each, and to John abundantly. In some cases three give the same subject matter, in others but two. But this is not all; whilst there are notable phrases and words common to all, there are quite as notable differences in the mode of communication. Hence speculative minds are tempted to irreverent cutting of the knot they cannot untie; whilst unexercised souls fail to gather the profit intended of the Spirit through every shade of difference. For it is a perversion of the truth, that the writers were inspired, but not the writings. If 2 Peter 1:21 warrants the former, still more explicit and distinctly applicable is the claim for the latter in 2 Tim. 3:16. In the verse preceding we have the “sacred” title of the O. T.; but in verse 16 the Spirit of God pronounces for “every” thing that falls under the designation of “scripture.” It is not a question of human infirmity but of God's power. Every scripture is inspired by God (θεόπνευστος). Not only were the men inspired, but so according to the apostle Paul is the result. Ordinarily their writing, like their words, would have been liable to the imperfections of human speech and the limitations of human thought; but every scripture, every writing that comes under this category, is God-breathed, and in no way “left” to the mere accidents of human faculties. To mix up with inspiration the manifold errors of copyists in the lapse of ages is illicit and illogical, not to say dishonest; for this is quite another question. All we contend for is the divine character of indisputable scripture.
Differences then there are; but instead of being the discrepancies which unbelief hastily and improperly calls them because of ignorance, they are the beautiful and instructive effect and evidence of God's varied design. Take Matt. 8 as an instance: “a solemn assembly of witnesses,” as one justly calls it. The leper came in fact long before what is called the sermon on the mount. “And, behold,” in verse 2 ties us down to no date. But as the Holy Spirit had already given a summary of the Lord's deeds of gracious preaching and power in Matt. 4:23, 24, so He presents details of His teaching in chaps. 5, 6, & 7, and of His miracles in chap. 8, and again in another way in chap. 9 where the date yields to deeper considerations, and selected proofs are grouped together designedly. In Mark 1:40-45, where no such purpose operates, we see its place historically. Luke confirms the fact that it was on “one of those days” when Christ was in Capernaum, and before the healing of the paralytic, which in Matthew is reserved for the first case in chap. 9
But, to look into details, the leper's cure fitly attested the present power of Jehovah-Messiah which opens Matt. 8 And as this proved His grace toward the Jew that came in his uncleanness and faith (however faltering), the Gentile centurion's great faith next follows, and here only is connected thus. In the Gospel of Luke it has a different place; in Mark it has none. The third fact in chap. 8, the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, so interesting to a Jew and assuring that grace to the Gentile did not turn Messiah's heart from Israel, seems here inserted with that design; whereas historically it preceded both the previous miracles in date, as shown in Mark 1 and Luke 4. So of course did the healing of many demoniacs and sick on that evening after the sabbath, in fulfillment of Isa. 4. It is not in the least difficult to believe that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to introduce at this point what Luke presents in quite a different connection (chap. 9:57), and with an addition too. The harmonists who imagine duplicates are no more faithful than the commentators who tax the inspired with discrepancies. The conversation whenever it occurred seems given in the first Gospel to show the great vessel of divine power and grace i.e. the Messiah consciously rejected, the Son of man having nowhere to lay His head, yet claiming from a disciple to he followed, even if a father lay dead. We know too for certain that the storm which He rebuked, and the deliverance of the demoniacs took place after the parables of chap. 8 were heard and explained.
The septenary of chap. 9 is a similar collection of witnesses, following that of chap. 8 which indicates not only His divine power displayed in Israel, but the growing hatred and jealousy which it excited in the Scribes, till it culminated in the Pharisees who sought to poison the multitude with their blasphemy, “By the prince of the demons he casteth out demons.” But no more evidence is needed, that Matthew was led, where it was required, to state facts and words so as best to give dispensational order; as Luke was led in no less a degree to present moral order. Take the Lord's genealogy as a clear proof, not in chap. 1 but in chap. 3 after the statement of John put in prison, and of the wondrous scene of his baptism following, though of course it long preceded what is here recounted. Take again the temptation where Luke puts the third act in the second place, as the moral order; whereas the actual fact as represented by Matthew coincided with the dispensational which it was his function to make known. This necessitated the remarkable omission which the true and ancient text testifies, as distinguished from the common error introduced by copyists, harmonists, and the like, whose false assimilations provoke the rather more evil doubts of their opponents.
How full of interest, as bearing on divine purpose, to observe that in the Gospel of Mark there is no account of the Lord's reading of Isa. 61 and preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth, any more than Matthew or John gives it. For Luke 4 it was reserved, as Christ's grandly suited introduction to public service, as we shall see more fully in its place. The introduction for Matthew's Gospel was the striking but wholly different application of Isa. 9 where the light shining in despised Galilee was promised. Nor was Mark given to state this, but only Matthew, whose also it was above all to point out the fulfillment of prophecy in the still more despised Messiah; as he only had mentioned the visit of the Magi, and the flight into Egypt, and the slaughter of the babes, all bearing in the same direction.
Again, Mark was not led to present the remarkable healing of the centurion's servant, which has so prominent a position in the First Gospel, and a still greater length in the Third. The leper's cleansing Mark does give, followed by the healing of the paralytic, and very graphically in both cases; but there was no design by him to bring in the witness that Jehovah's power would call in Gentiles when Israel should be cast out, as in Matt. 8, any more than to show, as in Luke 7, the faith of the Gentile, not so seen in Israel, which recognized the power of God in Jesus to command sovereignly and in love; and this in a soul so humbled by grace as to discern His people in the degenerate Jews, loved and honored for His name' sake.
So further in the First Gospel and the Second we have no account whatever of the widow's son raised from the dead outside Nain. It had no connection with their scope in particular, and we may presume that it was therefore here omitted. But it had the utmost importance for illustrating divine power in the highest form united in our Lord Jesus with the fullest human sympathy; and so it is exactly in accord with the special aim of Luke's Gospel where alone it is found.
On the same principle we may account for a vast deal of intermediate matter given in the central parts of the First and Third Gospels, which does not appear in the Gospel of Mark. We are thus delivered from the theories which have occupied many learned men to the hurt of themselves and of those who trust them. For they have sought on human grounds to explain the different phenomena of the Synoptic Gospels, some advocating a common document, others only a general apostolic tradition. Again, a supplemental intention has been attributed to those that followed successively the first, for his own contribution to the sum as it gradually appeared and grew. Had they believed in the special design imprinted by the Holy Spirit on each and every one of them, erroneous speculation had been spared to the honor of God's word, and to the spiritual profit of His children. The differences which undoubtedly occur would then have been known to be in no case discrepancy, but springing from God's wisdom, not man's weakness, and adding incalculably to the witness of Christ, and consequently to the spiritual intelligence of him that accepts all from God in faith of His love and truth.
Mark 1 presents neither genealogy nor early history, as we have in the accounts of Matthew and Luke. Yet this is not due to his abridging previously well-known facts, but to the divine design which made a genealogy here out of place: the service even of such a Servant did not call for it, Here as every where none so much abounds in striking details. The forerunner is briefly introduced preaching and baptizing. Jesus too is baptized, and then tempted of Satan; here without the details given by Matthew and Luke, yet only Mark speaks of His being with the wild beasts. When John is imprisoned, Christ begins His public service, saying, “The time is fulfilled.” Calling certain disciples to follow Him, He promises to make them fishers of men. His words and works attest the truth. The unclean spirit is cast out publicly. Simon's mother-in-law is healed of fever, and forthwith ministers to them. Sick and demoniacs are alike set free in numbers. He goes to preach; for this He is come forth. He prays without seeking fame; and a leper is cleansed with His touch as benignant as His word in divine power, love, and compassion.
In chapter 2 are given minute details of the paralytic, not healed only but forgiven (for sin is the root of evil), and made to walk, that they might know the Son of Man's title on earth to remit sins: a title which causes the Scribes to blaspheme. He goes on in grace to call a despised tax-gatherer to follow Him, eats with those whom the Pharisees branded as sinners beyond others, and vindicates it as His mission: “I came not to call righteous but sinners.” What a Savior for guilty man! Any truly righteous were already called: He came to call sinners. Those who believed were to rejoice in His presence there: let John's disciples and those of the Pharisees fast in unbelief of Him; full soon should His own have reason to fast. Besides, the new truth and power of the kingdom cannot without loss mix with old things. The sabbath itself was made for man, and the Son of Man is its Lord, not its slave as Pharisees wished.
Hence in chapter 3 He on the sabbath heals a man with a withered hand. He was here, sabbath day or not, to do good and save; but the orthodox counseled with their time-serving adversaries how to destroy Him. If He withdraws, it is to heal and deliver more abundantly; and after being alone on the mountain, He calls and appoints twelve, whom He would, to carry on the work of grace in power like His own. For He did all in the Spirit; but such was His unflagging zeal that His relations called Him deranged; and such His power, that the scribes from Jerusalem imputed it in their malice to Satan. Thereon He pronounces sentence, and announces His relationship, not after the flesh, but with him, whoever he be, that does the will of God.
Accordingly in chapter 4, seated on board ship, He teaches the new departure, contingent upon the people's apostasy, and takes the place of the Sower in the world, such that three parts of the seed come to nothing, and only a fourth by grace takes effect in varying measure where conscience works before God. Light is to shine in service; the veil no longer hides; and he that has gets more, as he that has not loses all. A parable follows peculiar to Mark, and emblematic of the Lord's ways in service, Who works throughout and produces all, yet hiddenly now till the harvest is come when He reaps. The parable of mustard seed illustrates the outward rise from little to a great show on the earth. Such would be the abnormal result of service in man's hand. The evening closes with the storm on the lake, Jesus asleep in the boat now filling, and the alarmed disciples awaking Him Who in two words made a great calm.
In chapter 5 we see Him met by the fiercest of demoniacs, Legion; for many spirits were there. Jesus, expelling them from the possessed, let them enter a great herd of swine which bore witness to their evil power in rushing at once to destruction; while the man sat clothed and in his right mind, beseeching to be with Jesus. The time however is come, not yet for this, but to testify to his friends what great things the Lord, even Jesus, had done for him; while those who heard alas! besought, not Legion, but the Lord to depart from their borders. And Jesus departs. On the other side Jairus beseeches Him to come and lay His hands on his dying daughter. As He went, a woman touches Him secretly and is healed of her issue of blood; the Lord will have her too in the light and without fear. The damsel now dead is restored to life, as the Lord will do for Israel by-and-by. This closes the first part.
Then chapter 6 lays bare the unbelief that could not deny His word or work, yet stumbled at His humiliation in the grace which escaped them. So the Lord before His departure began to send forth the twelve with power over unclean spirits, but without resources of their own; He could control men's hearts as He pleased. Meanwhile Herod is shown as troubled in conscience because of John as well as Herodias, dreading the report of Jesus as a resurrection of John. And the Lord gives the disciples, full of their great work, their needed quiet with Himself, while He waits on man's wants and satisfies the poor with bread.
Then sending away the multitude and the disciples by ship to Bethsaida, while He went on high to pray, He appears to them toiling in vain against contrary wind, and walked the water as if He would pass them, but immediately rejoins them on their crying out in fear; and the wind ceased. When they reached land, those who once wished Him to depart bring their sick, earnestly seeking that they may be healed.
Chapter 7 manifests the superficial worthlessness of the religious chiefs and their tradition.
Man's heart was a spring of evil; but grace reveals God's heart, even to the Syro-Phoenician, and His power to deliver her demoniac daughter; whilst the deaf stammering one, like the Jewish remnant, is led apart and healed, that he may hear and speak to the praise of God.
In chapter 8 a fresh pledge, in the seven loaves multiplied, is given of divine compassion to the poor of His people, as also of His power to make the blind, again led outside, see clearly. The leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod was evil; yet the disciples, though ill-affected by it, had no uncertainty as to the Messiah, but like Peter confessed. Him. This however must yield to the deeper glory of the Son of Man in His rejection and death; but it was too much for Peter, who deprecates it and is rebuked of the Lord, even insisting on a path like His own for His followers and at all cost.
In chapter 9 His glory as Son of Man and Son of God is presented to witnesses on the hill, while below even His own failed in faith to use His name against Satan. How painful to the Lord! How humbling to the disciples! “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you, how long shall I suffer you?” Only His presence in a coming day will deliver the people from Satan's power. Meanwhile it is a question of faith for individual deliverance. Power depends on faith; the ability is in the believing. Jesus acts by His word in power. But He goes on to be slain and rise the third day, whilst they understanding nothing dispute who should be greatest, and have a little child set before them as their right example. Even John is jealous for “us” rather than for Christ; but the Lord in grace owns all He can. Woe to the despiser of the little ones that believe! Woe too, when hand, foot, or eye causes to stumble! It is not earthly judgments, but unquenchable fire that awaits the unbelieving; as believers are to have salt (the preservative power of the truth) in themselves, and peace with one another.
Chapter l0 shows our Lord vindicating the relationships as God ordained from the beginning; He insists on the purity of marriage, and blesses babes. Yet while appreciating the blameless young man, who sought everlasting life (not to be saved), He denies goodness in man, and lays bare love of means and position, which is ruin, as he left Jesus to go away in sorrow. The Savior thereon dwells on the danger, not blessing, of wealth, to the astonishment of His own; and when Peter boasts their self-denial, the Lord declares the sure remembrance of every loss for His sake (and the gospel's, peculiar to Mark), not only spiritual gain now but life everlasting beyond, with the caution that many first shall be last, and the last first. Then His death and delivery to the Gentiles are announced, and the ambition of Zebedee's sons corrected, as well as the displeasure of the ten, by the cross as God's pattern in a lost world.
The last presentation from ver. 46 begins with blind Bartimaeus appealing to David's Son and receiving his sight, as Israel will in due time. In chapter 11 He is presented as the anointed King, and owned with hosannas; He pronounces on the barren fig-tree which is seen withered next morning, cleanses the sanctuary, and exposes the incompetence as well as insincerity of the officials who demand His authority.
Chapter 7 sets forth in a parable Israel's rebellion and Messiah's rejection but exaltation, and in few words the hypocrisy of the question as to Caesar, to whom they were no more subject than to God. Then the Sadducees (who talked of resurrection to undermine it and Him) hear the truth which refutes their error; and the intelligent scribe has the moral sum of the law laid down for his encouragement. Jesus puts the question how David's Son is David's Lord; which is life to him that answers it according to God. But alas! religious show and pretensions with selfishness end in more severe judgment; while the widow and her mite have everlasting record.
In the brief form of the prophecy in chapter 8 the special aim of the Spirit is evident from the fullness given to service past or future; so it is, not only in the center, but near the end. Hence in that character “the Son” does not know; yet He gave to His bondmen their authority, and to each his work. Nowhere else is service so distinctly noticed.
The end approaches in chap. 14, His final rejection, death, resurrection, and ascension, yet “working with them” still as the Lord. The chief priests plot, but God's will is done. Love anoints the Lord's body for His burial; the traitor makes his sad bargain with the rejoicing chief priests; the last passover is eaten, and the Lord's supper instituted. Peter is warned, and all three sleep while the Lord goes through the agony in Gethsemane. Judas then leads the band that takes Jesus, and the high priest condemns Him, not for the false witness of others but for His own confession of the truth, while Peter denies Him thrice and with oaths.
Chapter 15 shows us Jesus delivered to Pilate, the Gentile judge, who owns Him guiltless and knows the chief priests' envy, but gives Him up to be crucified. Thereon ensues the scene beyond all before or to come. The Messiah, the righteous Servant, forsaken by all, even by God (for so it must be for our sins), expires on the cross; the centurion in charge confesses Him Son of God; and Joseph, an honorable councilor, lays His body in his own rock-hewn sepulcher.
In chapter 16 we have His resurrection briefly told by an angel to the women that saw the sepulcher open and empty. They were too fearful and amazed to say anything. In the second part of the chapter, of which some unreasonably and unbelievingly doubt, we have the Lord appearing to Mary of Magdala who is disbelieved; then manifested to the two going to Emmaus, as afterward to the eleven at table, with reproof of their unbelief. Yet did He give their great commission of the gospel to all the creation, with signs following those that believed. And if He risen and ascended is styled “Lord,” none the less true to the design is He said to be “working with them” and confirming their words, as His servants went forth and preached everywhere. Here only in the N.T. have we the fact historically stated, however briefly. Can specific purpose be clearer first and last?

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Isaac: 21. The Sons, Esau and Jacob

Gen. 25:27-34
Now the difference in life and manners in the two sons was an issue of deep moment for each, and a warning for every reader who needs God's grace.
“And the boys grew; and Esau became a man skillful in hunting, a man of the field, and Jacob an upright man dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because venison was to his taste (or, in his mouth), and Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob boiled a dish (or, boiling), and Esau came in from the field, and he [was] faint. And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, pray, with the red—the red thing there, for I [am] faint. Therefore they called his name Edom. And Jacob said, Sell to-day thy birthright to me? And Esau said, Behold, I am going to die, and what [is] this birthright to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me to-day, and he swore to him; and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave to Esau bread and the dish of lentiles; and he ate and drank and rose up and went away: thus Esau despised the birthright” (vers. 27-34).
As the boys grew, it became plain that Esau had no faith, and that Jacob had. The life, far more truly than the lips, indicated where the heart turned and where the treasure lay. Of those from whom they sprang, it is written that “all of these died in faith,” or according to faith. They had not received the things prescribed; from afar they saw and saluted them, confessing thereby that they were strangers and sojourners on the earth (or, land), of which dwelling in tents was an express token (Heb. 11:9, 13). It was not so with Esau. He had no relish for the believing and expectant posture of the patriarchs. He threw off all the lessons inculcated by the life and confession of his father and his grandfather. Nimrod was his prototype, not Abraham; still less was He the Object, Who shone before the eyes of all the elders that obtained testimony in the power of faith. He chose and gave himself up to the exciting pursuits of the chase; he became a man skilled in hunting, a man of the field. He was bent on visible and present gratification, finding his pleasure in its vicissitudes, in its demand on craft and resources of every kind, and even in its occasional dangers as well as its successes. As with that rebel whom he thus far emulated, God was not in any of his thoughts. What cared he for that bright expectation of victory over the power of evil, through One more than man Who should nevertheless come of woman and taste of the sharpest suffering though triumphant? The unseen was nothing to Esau, whose heart was filled with his own things of every day, catching and killing the animals without reason.
Jacob, on the other hand, could be described as an upright man dwelling in tents. He was an heir, with Isaac and with Abraham, of the same promise. The like faith produced like fruit. He waited for the city that has the foundations, beyond all that earth can furnish, of which God is artificer and master-maker, or demiurge. He had not a little to watch and contend against in his natural ways; but he looked beyond present scenes and so was kept from living according to motives of self-will with no object above the earth. His walk was feeble compared with Abraham, and checkered compared with Isaac. Still he could say ere he departed that God tended him all his life long, and that His Angel redeemed him from all evil. Esau could not and did not speak of any such shepherd care, of which he never felt the need and would have been ashamed. The earth as it is was his one field of enjoyment, and its wild creatures the object of his skilled toils. The future of divine glory was no more to his heart than a dream that is told. But Jacob, faulty as he was, did prove the watchful and gracious care of God now, and wait for “that day.” It is this only which gives integrity before God, without which “dwelling in tents” had been no more than to the Bedouin; but with him it was the mark of his pilgrim character and hopes.
Alas! the faults of children often betray the carelessness or worse of their parents. Partialities, as in ver. 29, may be natural; but they bring inevitable chastening. A parent on the one hand may like a character the most distant from his own, as we see here Isaac did; or there may be preference given to one that resembles, as appears in Rebecca. They had been more blessed and more a blessing, if they had commanded their children with vigilant love in faith, as Jehovah said of Abraham in Gen. 18:19. Here the inspiring Spirit had a humbling tale to tell, as we learn the retribution in God's moral government.
Passing hunger led to the gravest results. Jacob sod a pottage of lentiles the day when Esau returned faint and famished (ver. 29). This gave the occasion. Jacob earnestly sought that title which to his forefathers and his descendants was bound up with blessing; and he knew that his brother had no such value for it. He therefore availed himself of Esau's need to strike the bargain. “Feed me, pray, with the red, that there,” said the spent hunter. “Sell me to-day thy birthright,” eagerly replied the unbelieving believer.
Thus Esau, ever open to the present, agreed and swore to it (30-33).
“And Jacob gave Esau bread and the pottage (or, dish) of lentiles; and he ate and drank and rose up and went his way,” with the simple and solemn comment, “thus Esau despised his birthright.”
No doubt, the edge of his appetite was keen, and the dish before his eyes was tempting to the hungry hunter. But had he no father that loved him, no mother to pity and provide? Blame Jacob as you will for seizing the opportunity for what he valued if Esau did not. And this was now evident: no hunger and thirst for him an hour longer. “That red there” he must have at once, cost what it might. Let others be for Christ's sake “in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings, in cold and nakedness.” What was that to one who lived only to please himself? He could not fast another hour. “Behold, I am going to die, and what is this birthright to me?”
Ishmael, the bond-servant's son, was evil enough. Born of the flesh only, he persecuted him that was born after the Spirit; he mocked the son and heir of Abraham born under circumstances which pointed to God's intervention for all who believe. But Esau was all the more guilty because according to prayer and prophecy he was born of the heir of promise, with whatever of advantage over Jacob that an earlier birth could give. Was not he equally with Jacob brought up in the familiar sound of God's word and ways as far as this is known? But tried in a way which to a hunter should have been comparatively light, and with resources at hand which never had failed, and which it would be monstrous to conceive could fail his urgent need, he deliberately sold his own birthright “for one meal” (Heb. 12:16), and thus incurred from the Holy Spirit the awful stigma of a “profane person.”

Priesthood: 14. Law of Land Beasts

The Law of Land Beasts, Clean and Unclean. Lev. 11:1-8
The preceding chapter announced that the priests were to differentiate between the holy and the unholy, and between unclean and clean. Here we have details pointed out among the living creatures of every sort, and first among the beasts on the earth. Those who drew near to God as their standing privilege were to decide according to the divine word.
“And Jehovah spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, These [are] the animals which ye shall eat among all the beasts that [are] on the earth. Whatsoever hath cloven hoofs, and feet split open, bringing up the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Only these shall ye not eat of those that bring up the cud, or of those with cloven hoofs; the camel, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you; and the rock-badger, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you: and the hare, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you; and the swine, for it hath cloven hoofs and feet split open, but it bringeth not up the cud, it [is] unclean to you. Of their flesh ye shall not eat, and their carcasses ye shall not touch, they [are] unclean to you” (vers. 1-8).
Eating here as elsewhere is emblematic of communion. One appropriates what is thus taken in. But, sin having entered with all the disorders which ensue, it is given to God's people to have His gracious and wise direction, instead of being left to themselves and the varying caprices of independent judgment. As a general principle the difference of clean and unclean was known in early days. So we find Jehovah directing Noah to take to him of all clean animals by sevens, but of those not clean two, a male and its female, to enter the ark. And on this Noah acted when he built an altar after the deluge as his first recorded act, and offered up holocausts of every clean beast and of all clean birds. For the tenure of the post-diluvian earth hung on sacrifice.
But now that the priests were consecrated, particulars follow. Israel must have no fellowship where the outward walk was not firm, and this, associated with the inward work of full digestion. The two requisites among the land animals are here marked respectively, by the cloven hoofs, not in part, but feet quite split open, and by chewing or bringing up the cud. One only is insufficient. Both must co-exist to meet His mind for His people. Hence the cases are explained of animals familiarly known to them.
On the one hand, the camel must be unclean to them, because it had not cloven hoofs, though a ruminating animal. The rock-badger, in the Authorized Version called the coney, was in the same predicament; and similarly, as a fact, the hare. On the other hand stood the swine, which did not chew the cud but swallowed its food voraciously, though it had cloven hoofs and feet quite split open; it should be unclean to them. They must neither eat their flesh nor touch their carcass.
Scripture is explicit on these qualities. A walk not according to flesh but according to Spirit, is indispensable in those whom the law of the Spirit of life in Christ emancipates from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8). That the Spirit of God dwells in the Christian is a great and sure truth; but it is the very ground on which he is to glorify God in his body. We are exhorted to cleanse ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God's fear; and this as having the promise of His dwelling in us, and of receiving us as a Father, on our coming out from those not of Him, separate to Him, and touching nothing unclean (2 Cor. 6). Thus the inward reception and effect of the truth must go along with outward activity in order to form and manifest what God sanctions.
They then that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. But is this all that is requisite? Surely not. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” “Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man shall sow, this also shall he reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh from the flesh shall reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit from the Spirit shall reap life eternal. And let us not lose heart in doing well, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” Here again we see the absolute necessity of combining a clean walk with the inward principle of a life nourished by the word of truth, by which we were begotten by God's will unto Himself. New creation alone has value in His eyes; for the old is fallen through sin, out of which is no way save that cross of Christ which proclaims the love and light of God in Him Whom the world hung there, as loudly as it does to the end its own fatal evil and ruin in so treating Him.
Hence it is as vain to rest on inward meditation only as on outward mortification alone. For either thus is but self, a vain boast in the flesh, in total ignorance of both God and man. But His grace meets man unclean, willful and proud, in and by His Own Son, yet man without sin, to die for him and suffer for his sins, in resurrection entering a new condition, wherein He gives those who believe to live of His life and receive the Spirit of God, that we may walk accordingly, as we await His coming to take us to His own abode, the Father's house.
Such love in God is the source, not only of faith, but of life in those that believe. So the apostle prayed that love might abound more and more in full knowledge and all intelligence (or, discernment), and approve the things that are excellent, in order that we might be pure and without a stumble unto Christ's day, being filled with the fruit of righteousness that is through Jesus Christ unto God's glory and praise. Nothing less than this could satisfy the heart's desire that knows Christ. It is therefore clean opposed to nature's walk in those whose God is the belly, and glory in their shame, who mind earthly things. It is to win Christ in heaven—this one thing, forgetting all behind, and pressing on goal ward toward the prize, to apprehend that for which also one was apprehended by Christ (Phil. 3).
So the apostle did not cease to pray for the Colossians, though they had not seen his face in flesh, that they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. But was it to end in that inward enjoyment? Not so. It was “to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing in every good work, bearing fruit and growing by the full knowledge of God.” Thus is the believer to unite making the truth his own by inward digestion, and walking with firm and vigilant steps the path of Christ in a world of slippery places and defilements manifold.

Proverbs 10:11-21

In the verses that immediately follow, “the mouth” has a predominant place for good will, though labor or its fruit is noticed by the way, no less than heed to instruction, as in vers. 15-17.
“The mouth of a righteous one [is] a fountain of life; but the mouth of the wicked covereth violence.
Hatred stirreth up strifes; but love covereth all transgressions.
In the lips of one intelligent wisdom is found; but a rod [is] for the back of him that is void of understanding (or, heart).
The wise lay up knowledge; but the mouth of the fool [is] near destruction.
The rich one's wealth [is] his strong city; the poor's destruction [is] their poverty.
The labor of righteousness [tendeth] to life, the revenue of wickedness to sin.
Keeping instruction [is] life's path; but he that forsaketh reproof erreth. He that covereth hatred hath lying lips; and he that uttereth slander [is] a fool (or, vile).
In the multitude of words there wanteth not transgression; but he that restraineth his lips doeth wisely.
The tongue of the righteous [is as] choice silver; the heart of a wicked one [is] little worth.
The lips of the righteous feed many; but fools die for want of understanding” (vers. 11-21).
The mouth has a widely different intent and character in man from the beast, where it expresses animal need, innocuous or baneful to others. Man's mouth has a nobler purpose and unique, as the means of expressing his inner nature in relationship, not with the realm of nature which he is set to rule, but, in subjection, with God Whom he represents, or alas! misrepresents. Here it is the mouth of a righteous man, and is said to be a fountain of life; for this is the divine mind as to such a one in the desert world. He is not merely seen of God providentially as Hagar by a fountain of water in the wilderness, which was called accordingly. He endures as Seeing Him Who is invisible. He becomes thereby an active source of blessing to others, and of blessing toward that nature which has in it now the taint of death through the sin of man, its first typical head, before the Second Man (the unfailing and true Head) restore all things as He surely will in due time. Meantime the righteous man's mouth by grace is a fountain of life. He is a witness of God in Christ; and as he believes, therefore so he speaks. With the wicked it is wholly otherwise. His mouth not only utters the violence of self-will and ungodliness, but does yet worse in covering the violence he feels, which if disclosed might lead to wholesome caution or restraint and solemn warning.
“Hatred” is next brought before us, the precise reverse of God in His love, the transcript of Satan in his malice. So evident is its association that it is needless to state its parentage; it is “as Cain,” who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. But, even if in its lightest form, it “stirreth up strifes,” resenting all interference with man's will, as God is nowhere in its thoughts. “But love covereth all transgressions.” Such is the deep feeling of the divine nature in a man of God. Personal resentment is far from the heart. He is pleased to forgive and forget. So the apostle repeats (1 Peter 4:8) that love covers a multitude of sins, as James similarly concludes his Epistle. Yet even Israel, not Christians only, were to be holy; and if a false witness rose up and was convicted, when both stood before Jehovah, then, instead of covering, they were bound to do to him as he meant against his brother, and so put the evil away from among them. Any other course is Satan's work by setting one scripture to annul another, instead of obeying all. To bring human feeling into such a case is as contrary to the gospel as it was to the law. “Do ye not judge them that are within?” “Holiness becometh thy house, O Jehovah, forever.” This is as inalienable as love's privilege to cover all transgressions personally. When our Lord on the mount taught His disciples not to resist evil (Matt. 5:38-42) according to the law of retaliation, it was for Christian life in its individual walk. The same Lord insisted on unsparing judgment of evil in the church. So we all know how wrong it is to efface 1 Cor. 5 in practice by forbidding the uprooting of the tares in Matt. 13:29. How unintelligent and blind!
Again, we are told that “in the lips of one intelligent, wisdom is found; but a rod is for the back of him that is void of heart” (or, understanding. How true is this and evident experimentally! It is not only that every intelligent man has wisdom, but in his lips it is found. How self is betrayed in seeking it otherwise! Who would look for wisdom elsewhere unless he (perhaps unconsciously) wanted his own way? On the other hand, he that lacks heart in the moral sense deserves the rod for his own chastening. If his eye were single, he could not want light.
Another blessing comes to wisdom. It does not lose what it has, but grows by grace. “The wise lay up wisdom.” Acuteness or originality may not and often does not turn to profit the most brilliant and even useful ideas; but wisdom keeps and uses what is given from above. Just as the fool's mouth, however voluble, utters nothing of real value, but has ever at hand ample elements for mischief and “near destruction.”
The next couplet seems to state this simple fact, and not without irony. “The rich man's wealth is his strong city; the destruction of the poor is their poverty.” So they think, and others say; yet riches have wings and may fly away; as the poor, if godly and content with the will of God, have great gain.
Compared with the rich, we have now “a righteous man's labor,” which has the stamp on it of tending “to life.” On the other hand, “the revenue” (it is not said, the labor) of a wicked man tendeth “to sin.” How cheering for him who accepts the portion, though it be in a ruined world, of eating bread in the sweat of his face! and how sorrowful is the course of a revenue, were it ever so abundant, flowing into sin!
Then follows the practical test: “Keeping instruction is the path of life,” as surely as “he that forsaketh reproof erreth.” For not to hear only, but to keep instruction, is of great price; whereas to dislike, and so forsake, the “reproof” of our manifold faults, is the way to go astray, one knows not how far.
Next, we hear the yet more solemn warning against hypocritical its character and natural issue, and God's judgment of it, whatever men say. “He that covereth hatred hath lying lips; and he that uttereth slander is a fool.” So He says Who searcheth reins and hearts, which we cannot do and so need to profit by His word. Malevolent lies, when laid bare, thus prove hatred that was covered up, and the sending forth of slander evinces the fool. The divine oracle does not stoop to the deceiving politeness of society, but speaks out that all saints may hear whether for comfort or for admonition.
Further, we are cautioned against overmuch speaking, as our Lord denounced vain repetitions in prayer like the Gentiles, and long prayers in public like the Jews. It is well at all times to watch and refrain, save in peremptory duty. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not transgression; but he that restraineth his lips doeth wisely.” Let us not fail then to ask the Lord to set a watch before our mouth, and keep the door of our lips, as in Psa. 141:3. Our evil nature is too ready to watch our neighbor's mouth to the shame of faith and love.
The tongue of the righteous, as we are told in ver. 20, is as choice silver. This is apposite and suggestive. We might have thought other metals might have suited not less well. Many a tongue that is not righteous cuts like the brightest and sharpest steel. But as silver in sanctuary associations pointed to grave, and gold to righteousness divine, so in usage among men silver is specially adapted for probing wounds without corrosion or festering. So is the tongue of the just, always with grace, seasoned with salt. Hence the apostolic call on “the spiritual” to restore one overtaken in any trespass: the unspiritual is apt to be severe, the carnal would be careless and resent true judgment.
The following verse (21) pursues and defines the positive blessing. “The lips of a righteous man feed many.” On another side we hear, “but fools die for want of understanding.” The bread which Jesus made and gave through His disciples fed the multitude, with more at the end than at the beginning; and this is what the righteous soul finds in Him for many in their many wants and in a thousand ways. Him they are called to testify, and their “lips” will as certainly “feed many.” Just as certainly do fools who believe not in Him though they may hear with their ears, “die for want of understanding.” His flesh, which the Son of man gave us to eat, and His blood to drink, is the most precious grace on His part, and the most needed truth on ours; but upon this many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. How true and sad to say, that “fools die for want of understanding!” It is the perverse heart, insensible alike to its own sinfulness, and to the goodness of God, Who in Christ went down to all depths to save the lost at all cost.

Gospel Words: the Widow's Son Raised

Luke 7:11-17
As this is a miracle peculiar to the Gospel of Luke, it strikingly illustrates God's design therein. Luke alone tells us of the penitent woman sent away in peace, of the good Samaritan, of the tax-gatherer in the parable self-judging and contrasted with the self-righteous Pharisee, of the prodigal son, of Zacchaeus, of the converted robber: all of them cases of overflowing grace. So it is here where the gracious power of God manifested itself, and this in the man Christ Jesus, and with marked commiseration of human grief. All this and more was in the Savior, as God would have all men know.
“And it came to pass the day after that he went to a city called Nain, and there went with him his disciples, and a great crowd. Now, as he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, there was carried out dead, an only son of his mother, and she a widow, and a considerable crowd of the city was with her, And the Lord seeing her had compassion' on her, and said to her, Weep not. And coming up he touched the bier (or, open coffin), and the bearers stopped. And he said, Youth, I say to thee, Awake. And the dead sat up and began to speak; and he gave him to his mother. And fear visited all; and they were glorifying God, saying, A great prophet is arisen among us, and God visited his people. And this report about him went out in the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding country” (vers. 11-17).
The power in which the grace of Christ acted was not limited to sickness, even so extreme as leprosy or paralysis. It was not confined to Israel: faith drew it out mightily in answer to Gentile appeal. Here without an appeal we see it supreme over the ravages of death, and with exquisite tenderness toward sorrow otherwise hopeless. Outside the gate of Nain, still called Nein, and mounting the steep declivity of Jebel Duhy, or Little Hermon, with its many sepulchral caves, the Lord and His disciples, with a great crowd following, met another great crowd drawn together by the funeral of a young man, a widow's only son. With a heart full of pity He said to the mother, “Weep not.” They were words in vain from other lips. To men it is appointed once to die; and the young man was really dead, as the inspired physician attests. Man born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble. There is hope of a tree, even if it wax old and the stock die in the ground; through the scent of water it will bud and put forth boughs. But man dies and is prostrate; yea, man expires, and where is he? The waters retire from the lake, and the river water dries up; so man lies down and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they awake not, nor are raised out of their sleep.
But now the Second Man was here, the last Adam. The Kinsman-Redeemer was hard by, and uttered words of hope to the widowed mother, stricken afresh and without hope. The strong one fully armed, who had the might of death, thought to keep his own credit and his goods in peace; but a stronger than he had come upon him and overcome him, and would take from him his whole armor wherein he trusted and divide his spoils. As a sample of this the Lord touched the bier, and the bearers stood still; and His voice was again heard. This time He spoke to the corpse, Youth, I say to thee, Awake.
Never was such a call uttered or heard before. The great prophet Elijah prayed and stretched himself over and over again on another widow's child; and Jehovah hearkened to Elijah's importunate supplication (1 Kings 17). He too that asked and received a double portion of Elijah's spirit with no less prayer and urgent effort labored for another dead child, and was heard for his faith. So in later N. T. days Peter ventured not to say to the body of the deceased disciple, Tabitha, Arise, till he had knelt down and prayed, any more than Paul when he fell on the dead Eutychus and enfolded him in his arms.
How different His bearing Who alone is the Resurrection and the Life! “Youth, I say to thee, Awake.” Yet He Who by the act thus done was marked out Son of God in power by resurrection of a dead man, habitually called Himself the Son of man, as it is carefully shown in chap. 3 of this Gospel. And He Who subsisting in the form of God counted it not rapine (or, prize to be clutched) to be on equality with God, in the perfection of human affection gave the youth (no longer dead but sitting up and speaking) to his mother. How able, how willing, is He to help the tried! How suited and ready to sympathize with our infirmities!
Do you, my reader, answer that this was a miracle, and therefore exceptional? Learn then that, though true miracles, His miracles, like His words were written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name. Be assured then of a love in a human heart infinitely beyond man's, even the love of God shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us. His voice now appeals to you in the gospel. For the hour now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. O you that read, hear Him and live. Why should you die? Why despise grace and truth in not hearing them? Listen to Him again: “Verily, verily, I say to you, He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath life eternal, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).

1 Peter 1:11

Let us now consider what is revealed as the object of this research. “Searching what or what sort of time the Spirit of Christ that [was] in them did indicate when testifying beforehand the sufferings that [were] for Christ, and the glories after them” (1 Pet. 1:11).
A mind was at work far beyond that of prophets, yet at work intimately in them; “the Spirit of Christ,” a phrase the more striking because not till long after did the Son become the Christ. But what He was disclosing looked on to that wondrous fact and testified of Him beforehand in that character. It is somewhat as in Heb. 2:17 the Apostle speaks of Him as High Priest, whereas He only became a priest properly when He rose from the dead and went to heaven. This some not perceiving have been led on by the enemy to cast the precious truth of propitiation into the chaos of their own error, which denies to His cross its moral glory, and gives it to a fable.
Be it observed that the language employed is unusually precise. The sufferings are said to be not merely “of” Christ, but “for” Him. They befell Him not simply as a fact, but were appointed unto Him; just as the grace was “to you-ward,” so were the sufferings to “Christ-ward.” Christ is never by Peter used mystically as in 1 Cor. 12:12, but exclusively and strictly in person. Compare especially 1 Pet. 4:1,13.
Nor are we left in doubt what the Spirit of Christ that was in prophets of old did signify, seeing that He testified beforehand, not only the glories of the anointed One Whom all saints awaited, but What at first sight seems beyond measure strong, the sufferings destined for Him which precede. This it was that the astonished disciples were taught by the Lord Himself, both before His death and after His resurrection, and nowhere more clearly than in the Gospel of Luke. “So shall the Son of Man be in His day (i.e. His appearing in glory). But first must He suffer many things and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:24-25). Again, when risen He said (Luke 24:26), “Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter His glory? And, beginning from Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Who could wonder that they should afterward say one to another, Was not our heart burning within as He spoke to us on the way and as He opened to us the scriptures? Now that He is gone, His Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is come to guide us into all the truth.
The saints addressed, like all other Christians, come between the sufferings that came unto Christ, and, if not the glory, certainly the greater part of the revealed “glories” that should follow. For it is plain and sure that the magnificent scenes of the last days, times of restitution of all things whereof God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began, await His coming from the heavens to take the earth and all the universe under His direct and manifested sway.
Messiah, ascending as a conqueror on high, was clearly made known in Psa. 67:28, and His receiving gifts as Man, that Jah Elohim might dwell in Israel, still regarded as the rebellious till He make Zion His abode forever. Then, on the one hand, God will smite the head of His enemies; and, on the other, princes shall come out of Egypt: Ethiopia shall haste to stretch out her hands unto God, and the kingdoms of the earth shall sing praises to the Lord. The same great truth is reiterated in Psa. 110—the scripture Christ Himself recited to confound those who denied His divine dignity as David's Lord. Both psalms strikingly pass from His exaltation in heaven to the day of His wrath. Then Jehovah shall send forth the rod of Messiah's strength out of Zion, and He shall rule in the midst of His enemies.
What is being done for His friends meanwhile is developed only in the New Testament generally, as here in particular. Room is left for it in the O. T. It is the grace come to the believing remnant, as to us who believe from among the Gentiles, before the generation to come is born again for the days of the displayed kingdom. Undoubtedly He is received up in glory (1 Tim. 3:16); but this is part of the mystery of piety, there made known by the Apostle of the uncircumcision, and found so largely explained and applied by him in his epistles, as it is used briefly and powerfully in what lies before us (1 Pet. 1:21; 3:22).
But there are “glories” to come, which give object and exercise for that hope which is a bright and large part of the truth, so characteristic of Christianity, and so difficult for a Jew as such to apprehend. Hence one perceives how unpalatable to a rabbi it is to read in Dan. 9:26 that after a definite interval Messiah the Prince was not to come merely, but “should be cut off and have nothing” i.e. of His Messianic rights, which is the true force. It was ruin to the benighted and faithless people; it brought destruction, as the context shows, on the city and the sanctuary. The facts and the prophecy which revealed this and more, they themselves cannot deny. Yet are they still impenitent, unbelieving, unblessed, and disposed to deny a great prophet, who shed light on what and what sort of time the Spirit of Christ was signifying, as was done in various ways.
But those who believe the gospel, Jews or Gentiles, come in according to the new principle of sovereign and indiscriminate grace to save souls. The Saviour, rejected by the Jews as a whole, is gone up on high, not at once to introduce the Kingdom in power and glory as even the apostles at first expected, but to inaugurate the mysteries of the Kingdom, itself a mystery, while He sits at the right hand of glory above. This it was which perplexed prophets of old, and not only the sufferings destined for Him Who might well have seemed the last One to suffer. Yet so said the prophetic word, so testified beforehand the Spirit of Christ that was in prophets: the Servant Righteous beyond all comparison was to be equally the sufferer beyond comparison. Suffering is an enigma to all who believe not what sin is before God; but even to those who did believe of yore, which of them so read the riddle that the Christ was to fathom its depths? For He was to suffer, not only from man because He was faithful to God, but, yet more overwhelmingly as it must beyond controversy be, from God because He was faithful for man, for sinful man! Yet Daniel is equally clear that the people are to be delivered after a time, the last time of distress without parallel, when blessed is he that comes to those days, and the prophet like all the righteous dead shall then stand in his lot, as part of Christ's glories to follow, when He shall reign, not as Son of David only, but with the wide and everlasting dominion of Son of Man.
Long before the prophet of the captivity, the lowly seer of Moresheth-gath, testified (5:1-3) of the Judge of Israel smitten with a rod upon the cheek. Even a Rabbi cannot mistake that He was to be born in Bethlehem, though overlooking on the one side His rejection, and on the other His going forth from of old from everlasting days. Knowing Him not, they in judging Him fulfilled also the voices of the prophets which were read every sabbath. “Therefore will he give them up until the time when she that travaileth hath brought forth.” The birth of the new-born Israel is thus postponed; while Christ sits, rejected by them but exalted by the right hand of God to the blessing of such as Peter was writing to. When that day comes (the prophetic terminus of glory for Israel and the earth), “the residue of His brethren,” instead of being added together now to form the church as on and after Pentecost, “shall return unto the children of Israel.” Then shall He stand and feed them in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God. And, instead of being scattered as now, outside their land, they shall abide: for then shall He be great even to the ends of the earth. And this [Man] shall be Peace. When the last head of a great country, the leader of the outside nations, shall come into the land, it will only be to find power there, not the previous weakness. Then the enemy's land shall be wasted retributively; and the remnant of Jacob be not only as a dew of blessing in the midst of the peoples, but also as a lion among the beasts of the forest.
Here again was no obscure intimation of the sufferings to come for Christ and of the glories that are to follow them. But seek diligently and search out as they did, no small difficulty remained, even for those who pondered the wonderful words of Isa. 49:1,4-9, 52:13-15, and 53, the most detailed and luminous of all: the sufferings which awaited Messiah, and the glory of His people Israel. But there was also a covert allusion in Isa. 65:1-2, of a time, and a singular sort of time, when God would be found by the heedless Gentiles, and find in Israel a people disobeying and opposing; just as Moses of old predicted (Deut. 32) that God would provoke them to jealousy through a no-nation, and anger them through a nation void of understanding.
But we know that even those who were blessed in seeing and hearing what many prophets and kings desired to see and hear, so little realized our Lord's clear and repeated explanation of His coming death of rejection and ignominy, that they were utterly staggered when it came to pass. “We were hoping,” said two of them no more downcast than others on the resurrection day, “that He it is that was about to redeem Israel.” His sufferings in redeeming by His blood, so far from entering their hearts, were the stumbling-block; whereas, as the Lord assured their troubled souls, this was both the only way consistent with God's character and their moral necessities, and the very truth set out in the scriptures. He must be a suffering and an ascended Christ: as emphatically for the Christian now going to heaven, so for Israel and the nations to be blessed on the earth by-and-by under His reign of glory.
In fact, however, the first prediction in the first book of scripture made known to the instructed ear what prophets searched into, and what the apostle explicitly states here with all clearness of light from Christ dead, risen, exalted, and about to appear in glory. The figurative terms are intelligible and expressive. The woman's Seed (in itself a phrase as gracious as startling and unique) should have His heel bruised, but bruise the serpent's head: a victory over the power of evil complete and final, but not without keen suffering. Again, blessing even for all families of the earth, when idolatry had overspread them, was promised in Abram's seed in Gen. 12; but fuller light came in chap. 22 when the father's only son is seen risen from the dead in the same parable which presented him previously as the lamb God would provide for a burnt offering. Thereon Jehovah's oath which distinguishes, in a way which the apostle Paul gives us to understand, the numerous seed which shall possess the gate of the enemies (as in O. T. prophecy), and the Seed, without any such number attached but “one” only, in Whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed; which Gal. 3 applies to the grace come now to Gentiles no less at the least than to Jews who believed. What a testimony is this to “the sufferings Christ-ward, and the glories after these things"!
The same principle might readily be shown in the history of Joseph, suffering in the pit at the hand of his brethren, and then both sold to Gentiles and consigned, if not to death, to the Gentile prison, but exalted to rule the world, administering its power with the same wisdom that had been manifested in previous humiliation, to the glory of him who sat on the throne. We at least are inexcusable if we cannot clearly discern what prophets may have duly searched. Add to this, that so it was before he made himself known to his guilty brethren whose sins he forgave and life he preserved, no less than for the Egypt-world that he governed. Can one fail to read here another application of our text? Nor would it be difficult to trace a fresh testimony beforehand in the blessing Jacob a-dying pronounced on his sons, yet to be fulfilled, for the good portion at the end of days, if we may not now speak of it all more particularly.
Genesis is not singular in this respect. So it might be shown in the types of Ex. 12 and Ex. 14-15. So too throughout the earlier and the later prophets. The Book of Psalms is quite as rich in the same witness borne beforehand unto Christ. What can be deeper, what more undeniable, than the testimony to His sufferings and His consequent glories in Psa. 22 and 102? These may be the fullest; yet are they but a part of what presents both, in that rich collection which the Lord loved and used so perfectly, and prophets searched not in vain, though at a great interval, in their day.

Christ as High Priest Entering Heaven and as King of Kings Coming Out: Part 2

Alas! Satan was made known as the god of this age, blinding the mind of the unbeliever. Christ's resurrection too, which justifies all who believe in Him, becomes the distinct evidence of coming judgment. So the apostle presses at Athens in the heart-searching language: God “now commandeth all men everywhere to repent,” because “he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30, 31). Thus scripture is emphatic, proving how God holds the world guilty respecting His Son, in its hatred of Him come in love and grace and in the glory of His own Person. What availed His presentation according to promise and prophecy? What, that He was the rightful God-appointed King? The Divine Son and the King were the final truths raised, and rejected by the world's representatives, religious and civil. They chose Barabbas and killed the Christ, God's Son, thereby closing the responsibility both of the nations (Nebuchadnezzar's image) and of boastful religious Israel with its divinely given temple, earthly priesthood, and typical ritual.
It is blessed to know that all the sin of the world can never alter the purpose of God respecting His Son, as His appointed heir, to rule and reign for Him, when He comes in universal dominion as Son of Man and as King in Zion over all the earth. The Old Testament scriptures abound with the glorious prospect. The very Epistle to the Hebrews (which declares His present heavenly priesthood, and our worship in holy liberty before God without a veil or the smallest distance) speaks most clearly of the coming age of glory, and blessing under the headship and rule of Jesus the Son of man. Chapter 2 speaks not of angels, but of Jesus as the Lord's appointed One to have all in subjection to Him.
But we are called to faith and patience in this gospel day, when so many are deceived as to its nature and purpose; which is, to take out of the world a people as God's sons for heavenly glory. If the believer knows what is to be for Christ, and sees things around exactly the opposite, faith, resting on God's intention as to the nearing future for Him, looks meanwhile up into heaven, beholding Him crowned with glory and honor there. But in these delusive times of outward greatness, of human boasting and pride, it may solemnly be asked, When, how, and by whom are the rights, honor, and glory of God's King to be established? Surely God Himself will not fail to bring back His Son by ways and means and at a time least expected by the world, putting forth an irresistible power to subdue all enemies. The voice of scripture speaks plainly of righteous judgment preceding and accompanying the appearing of the King of kings from heaven, to establish His kingdom in power and glory.
In particular, “the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him,” most emphatically makes known the coming glories of the once-suffering and now exalted Lamb. His worthiness, and redemption rights are in heaven declared, in view of being established, displayed, and universally owned. Yet, be it observed, seals are broken, trumpets blown, and vials poured out in their varied degrees of wrath, all before the shining forth of the hidden King of kings. Amid the closing sorrows that usher in His return, voices in heaven in Rev. 11 state that the hour is come for the world-kingdom of our Lord and His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever. The redeemed elders celebrate it by falling on their faces and worshipping God for having taken to Himself His great power and reigning. But earth is at issue as to this; for the nations are angry that God's wrath is come. This discloses the guilt veiled though it be under religious profession. The nations of the earth wilt then prove to have nothing but hatred and opposition to God and His Anointed.
Ponder it, reader, in this year 1900, when so much comes out eventful in Christendom with nations boastful of progress but jealous-eyed. All testifies to mutual fear but also to impending judgment; all leads on to the unwelcome introduction of God's Anointed; Who, according to Psa. 2, will have the nations for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. Then no longer hidden in heaven, like Joash the type in the temple of old, He comes forth from above; as we see in the emblem of glorious conquest seated on a white horse, “the Faithful and True,” Who will judge and make war. Such is the description of Rev. 19:11-16, when the Lord Jesus will appear to this guiltily deceived world. Oh! the woe for those who now refuse Him as the Word of God in patient, matchless grace, only to be exposed to Him under the same title in unsparing judgment Then shall fall the little stone smiting the image of Dan. 2 in its last stage. For Christ is to smite the nations, and rule them with the rod of iron. The fierceness and wrath of Almighty God is His unmistakable testimony to Christ coming out of heaven to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Thank God, the believer's hope is heavenly, in character with his heavenly life and position, not of the world as Christ is not, but awaiting the fulfillment of His parting promise, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” Oh to view things in accordance with God's thoughts and purpose for Christ the only Savior, no less than Ruler of the kings of the earth; Who will, after cleansing by judgment, fill the whole scene with glory and blessing, with peace and righteousness. G. G.

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Luke

Chap. 5 Divine Design.—30. Luke
The third Gospel is distinguished by its display of God's grace in man, which could be only and perfectly in the “Holy Thing” to be born and called the Son of God. Here therefore, as the moral ways of God shine, so is manifested man's heart in saint and sinner. Hence the preface and dedication to Theophilus, and the evangelist's motives for writing; hence also the beautiful picture of Jewish piety in presence of divine intervention for both forerunner and Son of the Highest to accomplish promise and prophecy, as announced by angels (chap. 1). The last of the Gentile empires was in power when the Savior was born in David's city, and Jehovah's glory shone around shepherds at their lowly watch that night when His angel proclaimed the joyful event and its significant token, with the heavenly host praising as they said, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, in men complacency (or, good pleasure). God's Son, born of woman, was also born under law, the seal of which He duly received; and the godly remnant seen in Simeon and Anna, that looked for Jerusalem's redemption, testified to Him in the spirit of prophecy; while He walked in the holy subjection of grace, with wisdom beyond all teachers, yet bearing witness to His consciousness of divine Sonship even from His youth (chap. 2).
In due time, marked still more explicitly by the dates of Gentile dominion and of Jewish disorder, both civil and religious, John comes preaching, not here the kingdom of the heavens, nor yet the kingdom of God, but a baptism of repentance for remission of sins. Here alone and most appropriately is quoted from Isaiah's oracle, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God “; here only have we John's answers to the inquiring people, tax-gatherers and soldiers; and here too is stated anticipatively his imprisonment, but also the baptism of our Lord; and here only is given His praying, when the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him, and the Father's voice, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee am I well pleased.” And the genealogy is through Mary (as she throughout is prominent, not Joseph as in Matthew) up to Adam, as becomes the Second Man and Last Adam (chap. 3). It may help if it be seen, that “being, as was supposed, son of Joseph” is parenthetical, and that “of Heli, of Matthat,” &c., is the genealogical line from Mary's father upward.
Then follows His temptation viewed morally, not dispensationally as in the first Gospel; the natural, the worldly, and the spiritual. This order necessarily involved the omission in chap. 4:8, which ignorant copyists assimilated to the text of Matthew. The critics have rightly followed the best witnesses, though none of them appears to notice the evidence it renders to plenary inspiration. Divine purpose is clearly in it. Thereon He returns to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and at Nazareth in the synagogue He reads Isa. 61:1, 2 (omitting the last clause strikingly), and declares this scripture fulfilled to-day in their ears. In that interval, or within the acceptable year, Israel as it were goes out, and the church comes in where is neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christ is all and they one new man in Him. Then when His gracious words were met by unbelieving words on their part, He points out the grace of old that passed by Israel and blessed Gentiles. This kindled His hearers to murderous wrath even then, whilst He, passing through the midst of them, went His way. At Capernaum He astonished them publicly with His teaching and cast out an unclean spirit in the synagogue, as He brought Peter's mother-in-law immediately to strength from “a great fever,” and subsequently healed the varied sick and demoniacs that were brought, while He refused their testimony to Him. And when men would detain Him, He said, “I must announce the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for therefore was I sent” (chap. 4). It is a question of the soul yet more than of the body.
In connection accordingly with preaching the word of God, we have (chap. 5) the Lord, by a miracle that revealed Him, calling Simon Peter (who judged himself as never before) with his partners, to forsake all and follow Him: an incident of earlier date, but reserved for this point in Luke. The cleansing of a man full of leprosy follows, and after the healing of multitudes He retires and prays; but as He afterward was teaching in presence of Pharisees and law-doctors, He declares to a paralytic the forgiveness of his sins, and, to prove it, bids him arise, take up his couch, and go to his house, as the man did forthwith. Then we have the call of Levi, the tax-gatherer, and a great feast with many such in his house; but Jesus answers all murmurs with the open assertion of His coming to call sinners to repentance, as He defends the actual eating and drinking of His disciples by their joy in His presence with them: when taken away, they should fast. In parable He intimates that the old was doomed, and that the new character and power demand a new way; though naturally no one relishes the new, but likes the old.
Chap. 6 shows first, the Son of Man Lord also of the sabbath, and secondly the title to do good on that day, which filled them with madness against Him. Next, going to the mountain to pray all night to God, He chose twelve and named them apostles, with whom He came down to a plateau, healing all that came under diseases and demons. Then He addresses them in that form of His discourse which falls in perfectly with our Gospel. The great moral principles are there, not contrast with law as in Matthew, but the personal blessedness of His own, and the woes of such as were not His but enjoy the world. Another peculiarity is that Luke was led to give our Lord's teaching in detached parts connected with facts of kindred character; whereas Matthew was no less divinely given to present it as a whole, omitting the facts or questions which drew out those particulars.
Then in chap. 7 He entered Capernaum, and the healing of the centurion's slave follows. Luke distinguishes the embassy of Jewish elders, then of friends when He was near the house; but the dispensational issue was left to Matthew. The raising of the widow's only son at Nain yet more deeply proves the divine power He wields with a perfect human heart. It was high time for John's disciples to find all doubts solved by Jesus, Who testifies to the Baptist's place instead of being witnessed to by him. Yet was wisdom justified of all her children, as the penitent woman finds from the Lord's lips in the Pharisee's house. Every-where it was divine grace in man; and she tasted it in the faith that saved, and in the grace that bade her go in peace.
In chap. 8 we see Him on His errand of mercy, followed not by the twelve only but by certain women healed of wicked spirits and infirmities, who ministered to Him of their substance. And the Lord addresses the crowd in parables, but not of the Kingdom, as in Matthew; after that He designates His true relations to be those that hear and do the word of God. The storm on the lake follows, and the healing of Legion in the details of grace, as well as of the woman who had a flux of blood, while He was on the way to raise the daughter of Jairus.
Chap. 9 gives the mission of the twelve empowered by and like Himself, and sent to proclaim the Kingdom of God, with its effect on Herod's bad conscience. The apostles on their return He leads apart, but, being followed by a hungry crowd, He feeds about 5,000 men with five loaves and two fishes multiplied under His hand, while the fragments left filled twelve hand-baskets. After praying alone, He elicits from His disciples men's varying thoughts of Him, and Peter's confession of His Messiah-ship (Matthew recording much more). For this He substitutes His suffering and His glory as Son of Man: they were no more to speak of Him as Messiah. Deeper need had to be met in the face of Jewish unbelief. The transfiguration follows with moral traits usual in Luke, and the center of that glory is owned Son of God. When the Lord and His chosen witnesses come down, the power of Satan that baffled the disciples yields to the majesty of God's power in Jesus, Who thereon announces to them His delivery into men's hands, and lays bare to the end of the chapter the various forms that self may assume in His people or in pretenders to that place.
Then we have in chap. 10 the seventy sent out two and two before His face, a larger and more urgent mission peculiar to Luke. On their return, exultant that even the demons were subject to them in His name, the Lord looks on to Satan's overthrow, but calls them to rejoice that their names were written in the heavens. To this our Gospel leads more and more henceforth. His own joy follows, not as in Matthew dispensationally connected, but bound up with the blessedness of the disciples. Then the tempting lawyer is taught that, while those who trust themselves are as blind as they are powerless, grace sees one's neighbor in every one that needs love. The parable of the Samaritan is in Luke only. The close of the chapter teaches that the one thing needful, the good part, is to hear the word of Jesus. It is not only by the word that we are begotten; by it we are refreshed, nourished, and kept.
But prayer hereon follows (as He was praying), (chap. 11), not only because of our need, but to enjoy the God of grace Whose children we become through faith; and in His illustration He urges importunity. Here again we have an instructive example of the divine design by Luke as compared with that in chap. 6 of Matthew. His casting out a dumb demon to some gave occasion to blaspheme, whereon He declares that he that is not with Him is against Him, and he that gathers not with Him scatters: a solemn word for every soul. Nature has nothing to do with it, but the grace that hears and keeps the word of God. So did the Ninevites repent, and the Queen of Sheba come to hear; and more than Solomon and Jonah was there. But if light is not seen, it is the fault of the eye; if it is wicked, the body also is dark. Then to the end the dead externalism of man's religion is exposed, and the woe of such as have taken away the key of knowledge, and their malice when exposed.
Chap. 7 warns the disciples against hypocrisy, and urges the sure revelation of all things in the light, with the call to fear God and to confess the Son of Man, trusting not in themselves but in the Holy Spirit. It is no question now of Jewish blessing; and He would be no judge of earthly inheritances. They should beware of being like the rich fool whose soul is required when busy with gain. The ravens and the lilies teach a better lesson. The little flock need not fear, but rid themselves rather of what men covet, and seek a treasure unfailing: if it is in the heavens, there will the heart be. And thence is the Lord coming Whom they were habitually and diligently to wait for. Blessed they whom the Lord finds watching! Blessed he whom the Lord finds working! To put off His coming in heart is evil, and will be so judged. But the judgment will be righteous, and worst of all that of corrupt and faithless and apostate Christendom. Whatever His love, the opposition of man brings hate, and fire, and division, not peace meanwhile. His grace aroused enmity. Judgment came and will; as on the other hand He was baptized in death that the pent up floods of grace might flow as they do in the gospel.
With the Jews on the way to the judge, and about to suffer from God's just government (at the end of the chap. before), the Holy Spirit connects in chap. 8 the question of what had befallen the Galileans. Here the Lord pronounces the exposure of all to perdition, except they repented. The parable of the fig tree tells the same tale; respite hung on Himself. In vain was the ruler of the synagogue indignant for the Sabbath against Jehovah present to heal; it was but hypocrisy and preference of Satan. The kingdom about to follow His rejection was not to come in by manifested power and glory, but, as under man's responsibility, from a little seed to wax a great tree, and to leaven the assigned measure, wholly in contrast with Dan. 2-7. Instead of gratifying curiosity as to “those to be saved” (the remnant), the Lord urges the necessity of entering by the strait gate (conversion to God); seeking their own way they would utterly fail. So He would tell them He knew them not whence they were, in the day when they should see the Jews even thrust out, and Gentiles sitting with the fathers, last first, and first last, in the Kingdom of God. Crafty as Herod was, it was Jerusalem He lamented, the guiltiest rejecter alike of God's government and of His grace, yet not beyond His grace at the end.
Hence chap. 14 points out unanswerably the title of grace in the face of form, and its way of self-renunciation, which will be owned in the resurrection of the just, not by the religious world which is deaf to God's call to the great supper. But if the bidden remain without, grace fills it not only with the poor of the city, but with the despised Gentiles. Only those that believe God's grace are called to break with the world. Coming to Christ costs all else: if one lose the salt of truth, none more useless and offensive.
In chap. 15 the Lord asserts the sovereign power of grace in His own seeking of the lost one, in the painstaking of the Spirit by the word, and in the Father's reception and joy when he is found; as self-righteousness betrays its alienation from the Father and contempt for the reconciled soul.
Then chap. 16 describes parabolically the Jew losing his place; so that the only wisdom was, not in hoarding for self but in giving up his master's goods, to make friends with an everlasting and heavenly habitation. Practical Christianity is the sacrifice of the present (which is God's) to secure the future (which will be our own, the true riches). Pharisees, being covetous, derided this; but death lifts the veil that then hid the true issue in the selfish rich tormented, and the once suffering beggar in Abraham's bosom. If God's word fail, not even resurrection would assure. Unbelief is invincible, save by His grace.
As grace thus delivers from the world, so it is to govern the believer's walk, who must take heed to himself, rebuke a sinning brother, and if he repent, forgive him even seven times in the day (chap. 17). Faith is followed by answering power. But the yoke of Judaism, though still existing, is gone for faith, as the Lord shows in the Samaritan leper, who broke through letter of the law, rightly confessed the power of God in Christ, and went his way in liberty. The kingdom in His person was in the midst of men for faith. By-and-by it will be displayed visibly and judicially; for such will be the Son of Man (now about to suffer and be rejected) in His day, as in those of Noah and Lot, far different from the indiscriminate sack of Jerusalem by Titus.
Chapter 18 shows prayer to be the great resource, as always, so especially when oppression prevails in the latter day, and God is about to avenge His elect, and the question is raised if the coming Son of Man shall find faith on the earth. After this the Lord lets us see the spirit and ways suited to the kingdom in the penitent tax-gatherer contrasted with the Pharisee, and in the babes He received, not in the ruler who, not following Jesus, because he slave to his riches, lost treasure in heaven. Yet he that leaves all for His sake receives manifold more now and in the coming age life everlasting. Lastly the Lord again announces His ignominious death but His resurrection.
Then (ver. 35) begins His last progress to Jerusalem and presentation as David's Son; and the blind beggar, invoking Him so, receives his sight, and follows Him, glorifying God.
Zacchaeus in chap. 19, chief tax-gatherer and rich, is the witness of yet more—the saving grace of God. But the Lord is not going to restore the Kingdom immediately, as they thought, He is going to a far country to receive it and to return; and when He does, He will examine the ways of His servants meanwhile entrusted with His goods and He will execute judgment on His guilty citizens who would not that He should reign over them. And next He rides to the city from the Mount of Olivet on a colt, given up at once by the owners; and the whole multitude of the disciples praise God aloud for all the powers they had seen, saying, Blessed the coming King in Jehovah's name: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. It is a striking difference from the angels' praise at His birth; but both in season. Pharisees in vain object, and hear that the stones would cry out if the disciples did not. Yet did He weep over the city that knew not even then the things for its peace, doomed to destruction because it knew not the time of its visitation. The purging of the temple follows, and there He was teaching daily; yet could not the chief priests and the chiefs of the people destroy Him, though seeking it earnestly.
Then in chap. 20 come the various parties to judge Him, really to be judged themselves. The chief priests and the scribes with the elders demand His authority; which He meets with the question, Was John's baptism of. heaven or of men? Their dishonest plea of ignorance drew out His refusal to tell such people the source of His authority. But He utters the parable of the vineyard let to husbandmen, who not only grew worse and worse to their lord's servants but killed at last his son and heir, to their own ruin according to Psa. 118:22, 23, adding His own solemn and twofold sentence. Next, we have His reply to the spies who would have entangled Him with the civil power; but as He asks for a denarius, and they own Caesar's image on it, He bids them render to Caesar Caesar's things, and to God the things that are God's; and they were put to silence. The heterodox Sadducees followed with their difficulty as to the resurrection; whereon He shows that there was nothing in it but their ignorance of its glorious nature, of which present experience gives no hint. Resurrection belongs to the new age, to which marriage does not apply. Even now all live to God, if men cannot see. The Lord closes with His question on Psa. 110, how He Whom David calls his Lord is also his Son. It is just Israel's stumblingstone, ere long to be Israel's sure foundation. Then the chapter concludes with His warning to beware of those that affect worldly show in religion, and prey on the weak and bereaved, about to receive, spite of long prayers, judgment all the more severe.
Chap. 21 begins with the poor widow and her two mites of more account than the richest in the offertory. Then, in correction of those who thought much of the temple adorned with goodly stones and offerings, the Lord predicts its approaching demolition, though the end was not to be immediately. But He cheers and counsels His own meanwhile. From ver. 20 to 24 is the siege under Titus, and its consequences to this day. Ver. 25 and the following look on to the future. The Gentiles are prominent; whence we have, “Behold the fig tree and all the trees” in ver. 29. Observe also “this generation,” &c. in 32, is in the future part, not in what is fulfilled. Lastly, vers. 34-36 give moral appeal. Here again we find Him teaching in the temple by day, and every night lodging at Olivet.
The last Passover approaches (chap. 22) and found the chief priests and the scribes plotting, when Judas Iscariot gave them the desired means. On the day of sacrifice He sent Peter and John to prepare, and the Lord instructs them divinely when and how: for as He said, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer,” and its cup He bade them take and divide it among themselves. Then He institutes His supper. As yet He had given no sign to mark the traitor, though He had long alluded to the person. Alas! they were even then contending which of them would be accounted greatest; whilst He explains that such is the way of the Gentiles and their kings, but they were to follow His example— “I am in the midst of you as he that serveth.” Yet He owns their continuance with Him in His temptations, and appoints to them a kingdom. He tells Simon of Satan's sifting, but of His supplication that his faith should not fail, and bids him, when turned again, or restored, to establish his brethren. After further warning Peter, He clears up the change from a Messianic mission to the ordinary ways of providence in vers. 35-38, and then goes out to the mount and passes through His agony with His Father (39-46) while the disciples slept. Then a crowd comes, and Judas drew near to kiss, and the Lord laid all open. He heals the high priest's bondman, whose right ear was cut off; but remonstrates, yet allows Himself to be taken Who could have overwhelmed them with a word. Peter denies Him thrice. The men revile the Lord with mockery and blows; and as soon as it was day, He is led to the Sanhedrin, and when asked if He were the Christ, He tells them of the place the Son of Man will take, and owns Himself Son of God.
Before Pilate in chap. 23 the effort was to prove Him a rival of Caesar; but though confessing Himself the King of the Jews, Pilate found no fault in Him. The connection with Galilee gave the opportunity for a compliment to Herod, who got not a word from the Lord; but, after with his soldiers insulting Him, he sent Him back, when Pilate again sought to release Him, as neither he nor yet Herod found evidence against Him. But the Jews only the more fiercely demanded a seditious murderer to be released, and Jesus to be crucified. Still Pilate made a last effort. But their voices prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that what they asked for should be done. Such is man; and such is religious man, even more wicked: “Jesus he delivered up to their will.” Simon of Cyrene had to prove the violence of that hour; and Jerusalem's daughters lamented with wailing. But the Lord bade them weep for themselves and for their children, and proceeds to Calvary where He was crucified, and the two robbers on either side. There He prayed His Father to forgive them as rulers scoffed and soldiers mocked. Even one of those crucified kept railing on Him; but the other became a monument of grace, confessing the Savior and King, when others forsook and fled. The centurion too bore testimony to Him; and if they made His grave with the wicked, the rich was there in His death, and with Pilate's leave laid His body in a tomb hewn in stone where never man had yet lain. It was Friday, growing dark, and sabbath twilight was coming on. And the Galilean women who saw Him laid there returned and prepared spices and unguents. Little did they know what God was about to do; yet they loved Him in Whom they believed.
On the first day of the week at early dawn the women came (chap. 24) but found the stone rolled away from the tomb and the body gone; and two in dazzling raiment stood by them to their alarm, who asked, “Why seek ye the Living One among the dead? He is not here, but is risen;” and they recalled to their minds His words in Galilee now fulfilled in His death and resurrection. Even the apostles disbelieved. And Peter went, and saw evidences and wondered. Then we have the walk to Emmaus with all its grace and deep instruction from the scriptures, not for those disheartened men only, but for all time and all believers. Next the Lord makes Himself known in the breaking of bread (the sign of death), and at once vanishes. For we walk by faith, not by sight. On returning to Jerusalem they hear how He had appeared to Simon; and as they spoke, the Lord stood in their midst, bids them handle Him and see (for they were troubled), and even eats to reassure them of His resurrection. He speaks further and opens their minds to understand the scriptures; a distinct thing from the power of the Spirit they were to receive in due time. No going to Galilee is introduced here; it was exactly suited to Matthew's design. Here Jerusalem is prominent, which was avowedly most guilty. So repentance and remission of sins “were to be preached in his name, unto all the nations, beginning with Jerusalem.” There too they were to tarry till clothed with power from on high. And thence, when the day arrived, He led them out over against Bethany, and blessed them with uplifted hands; and, while blessing them, He parted from them and was borne up into heaven.

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Isaac: 22. Jehovah Appears to Isaac

Gen. 26:1-5
The chapter opens with the account of Isaac tried by “famine in the land,” as Abraham had been a hundred years before. It was meant to put faith to the proof passingly, as the Canaanite then in the land tried it permanently. But well did father and son know that the time had not arrived for possession. For this the object of their hope must come in power; and the prospect of Christ's day, we may be assured, filled the heart of Isaac with joy, as we are expressly told of Abraham (John 8:56). Meanwhile they were content to dwell in the land of promise, as not their own, looking for the coming glory, not on earth only but in heaven too. Here therefore they bowed to whatever tribulation God might send. We shall see, however, distinctions as interesting as they are instructive.
“And there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine which was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines to Gerar. And Jehovah appeared to him and said, Go not down to Egypt: dwell in the land that I shall tell thee of. Sojourn in this land; and I will be with thee and bless thee; for to thee and to thy seed I will give all these lands; and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham thy father. And I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and to thy seed I will give all these lands; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (vers. 1-5).
Here we have Isaac's distinctive trial of faith. Abraham was called to get out of his land and from his kindred and from his father's house to the land that Jehovah would show him, as He did. But Isaac was charged not to leave, but to sojourn in that land. This had its own difficulties, which grace does not spare. Blessed is the man that endures temptation or trial; for having been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which He promised to those that love Him, and meanwhile the proving of our faith works patience. Isaac accordingly, expressly forbidden by Jehovah, did not go down into Egypt even under the pressure of famine in the land. Abraham, as we know, did go; but there he dishonored Jehovah, his wife, and himself, however rich he became in consequence.
Personally Abraham was a man of faith far more thoroughly than his son. And the son was forbidden where no interdict was laid on the father. Isaac was called, whatever it might cost, to abide in the land, and not go down to Egypt. The land, as all know, typifies heavenly places, as he does Christ, dead, risen, and in heaven, though the Philistines were there as yet uncleared.
This is the trial now. If we have been given to know that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, our responsibility is to walk worthily of the call wherewith we were called with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. It is in this very association that we are prepared to face the sharpest trial. We must expect to be visited by every wind of that teaching which is in the trickery of men, in craft for the systematizing of error; but we are exhorted to be truthful in love and grow up unto Him in all things, Who is the Head, Christ. Our conflict is not against blood and flesh, like Israel in their day, but against principalities, against authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. For this reason we need to take to us the panoply of God; and withal we need to pray at all seasons with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance. Our exposure is all the more because our blessing is of the highest: just as Isaac was the object of incomparable favor then, and called to abide where he was.
So are the saints now. What can match their revealed and blessed relationship? Is it possible to conceive greater privileges? Nothing is easier than to despise the pleasant land, and to cast longing eyes on Egypt. There flourish the resources of the world, the incentives to flesh, the pleasures of sin for a season. In the land such attractions are not; there was a famine as to all that feeds nature. But the word to those whose blessing lay in Canaan is, Go not down to Egypt: dwell in the land that I will tell thee of. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee and bless thee.
We are diligently to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as also we were called in one hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in us all. Far beyond the oath to Abraham is our security, far beyond the lands of Israel or earth is our inheritance, though we rest on the same One Who is the Seed of blessing for them and all the nations; and we boast a Father infinitely above their father Abraham.

Priesthood: 15. Law of Creatures in the Waters

The Law of Creatures in the Waters
Lev. 11:9-12
The second class of liberty or of prohibition relates to the creatures which people the waters, salt or fresh, in seas and in rivers.
“These shall ye eat of all that [are] in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas and in the rivers, these shall ye eat. But all that have not fins and scales in seas and in rivers, of all that swarm in the waters, and of every living creature (or, soul) that [is] in the waters, they [are] an abomination to you. They shall be even an abomination to you: of their flesh ye shall not eat, and their carcass ye shall have in abomination. Whatever in the waters hath no fins and scales, that [shall be] an abomination to you” (vers. 9-12).
Here the principle is plain. The Israelite was free to eat of the abundance of the sea whatever had fins and scales. In fact such fish were wholesome; and the marks were easy to discern, like the rules as to land animals. But what believer doubts that a deeper bearing lay under that which is written? As the apostle asked in 1 Cor. 9, Is it for the oxen that God careth, or doth he say it altogether for our sakes? Surely for our sakes was it written. And so we may be assured is the direction here. The moral truth figured by these regulations was what He had chiefly at heart, the spirit, not the letter (save in executing the law on the lawless).
The line had to be drawn here too where the Jew might and where he might not freely partake. A fresh lesson is taken from the denizens of the waters. As Israel was not to eat of every sea or river fish, the believer is again instructed what he ought to avoid. Two marks are specified without which he was forbidden to eat. If they had not fins and scales, he must not make them his own. Both divine direction and divine protection are required in all things and at every step.
As the fins were the organs which directed and balanced the movements of the fish, we can readily discern, what the possession or the lack corresponding to these means spiritually. The word applied to the way in the prayer of faith seems to answer to the provision for the fish in both the prescribed respects. For it is not enough to be born of God, nor yet more to be justified by faith. Beyond controversy to have a new nature from God and to be rescued from the burden of a sin-oppressed conscience are indispensable. We also need a living and constant power of direction that we may know and do His will, to move where He desires or refrain according to His bidding. Who or what is sufficient for these things? Only in subjection to His word can we find ourselves obedient, as the Lord Jesus was; and to this obedience we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his path? By taking heed according to thy word.”
Hence the all-importance of prayerfully using scripture, as we may read in Luke 10:39-11:4, and Acts 6:4. “Let my cry come near before thee, O Jehovah; give me understanding according to thy word.” This is as necessary to glorify Him in our souls as in our service of His name. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Zeal and energy otherwise expose to habitual danger. As men of God, we ought to trust neither our own hearts nor the direction of others. We ought to obey God rather than man. It is due to Him that we thus honor Him; and, looking to the Lord, we are entitled to count on the Holy Spirit to join His help to our weakness. Is He not a spirit of power, of love, and of sobriety? He will not fail to guide sons of God who distrust themselves and cry to our God and Father in the Lord's name. But it is through His word, and not our feeling and ideas. “I have refrained my feet from every evil path, that I might keep thy word.”
And what is there to compare with God's word against the enemy? “By the word of Thy lips I have kept from the paths of the violent.” It only is the sword of the Spirit; but here too we need all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, in order to wield it with effect. “Through faith” are we guarded by the power of God unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. But faith ever supposes and relies on His word. Otherwise one is prone to self-deception. Satan is as strong as we are weak; yet the word is, “Whom resist, steadfast in faith.” For the word assures us, that, so believing, we have the Lord to stand with us, to deliver from every evil work, and preserve for His heavenly kingdom. “Princes also did sit and talk together against me: thy servant doth meditate in thy precepts. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.”
To feed on anything which leaves Christ out, to do without His direction and preserving care, is and ought to be an abomination to our souls. So the finless and scaleless creatures that moved and were in the waters the Israelite was to shun; alive or dead, they must be had in abomination by him. If they were destitute of the normal guidance and protection, which that twofold provision represents, he was not only not to eat but to hold them as a horror. But all that had divine direction and protection, he could freely use and appropriate fearlessly. “I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts. The wicked have awaited to destroy me: I attend unto thy testimonies. I have seen an end of all perfection: thy commandment is exceeding broad.” Many are my persecutors and mine oppressors: I have not declined from thy testimonies.”

Proverbs 10:22-32

To the end of the chapter we have the blessing of Jehovah, in contrast with the fool, the wicked, and the sluggard, in their respective paths; the fear of Jehovah, and again the way of Jehovah, and the effects compared with the opposed evil.
“The blessing of Jehovah, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow to it.
[It is] as sport to a fool to do wickedness; but a man of understanding hath wisdom.
The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him; but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.
As a whirlwind passeth, so [is] the wicked no [more]; but the righteous [is] an everlasting foundation.
As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so [is] the sluggard to those that send him.
The fear of Jehovah prolongeth days; but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
The hope of the righteous [is] joy; but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.
The way of Jehovah [is] strength to the upright one; but destruction to the workers of iniquity.
The righteous one shall never be removed; but the wicked shall not dwell in the earth (or, land).
The mouth of the righteous one putteth forth wisdom; but the froward tongue shall be cut off.
The lips of a righteous one know what is acceptable; but the mouth of the wicked [is] frowardness” (vers. 22-32).
The Israelite was here called to remember that their God, Jehovah, the only unerring moral governor, is the blesser; and that His blessing makes rich. The day comes when Messiah shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall reign in judgment. In that day, as the rule, false appearances shall not flourish. The vile person or fool shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence forever. The very wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad; and no wonder, when He reigns Who made all very good, before the sin of man brought in confusion and every evil work. But then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp (or adder), and the weaned child shall put his hand on the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain. In that day will it be seen by every eye that the blessing of Jehovah makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. But even in this day of man when sin still reigns in death, godliness with contentment is great gain, whatever be the outward circumstances.
On the other hand the lively pleasure of moral folly is to do wickedness for a little while. What is the end of such sport, but death as part wages, and judgment as full? A man of understanding has wisdom, and the fear of Jehovah is his constant part as well as beginning. Moreover, the fear of the wicked is far from groundless, and if it heed not the goodness of God that leads to repentance, the suspended blow falls, “it shall come upon him.” Just so, even while it is still the evil day, the desire of the righteous shall be granted; for he asks of God what is according to His will, judging himself where, seeking more or otherwise, he yielded to vain thoughts. Why should he doubt care and mercy in any trial from Him whose grace justified the ungodly? No doubt, even now there are hours of exceeding pressure, here compared to a whirlwind. When it passes, where is the wicked? “No more.” The very distress which overwhelms him discloses that “the righteous is an everlasting foundation.” “Sluggishness” may not have the dark character of “wickedness” or of “folly” in the moral sense; but it is a two-fold wrong of no small dimensions. It is unworthy in itself, and dishonors the failing man by its purposeless ease; it is as vexatious to others “that send him” “as vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes.” How sad when lack of heed and diligence in a Christian exposes His Master's name to be ill-spoken of!
The apostle Peter cites a word kindred in substance to ver. 27 from Psa. 34 though the form differs. The fear of Jehovah is the source of strength and security for the weak in a world of evil and anxiety and danger. It “prolongeth days” for him who trembles at His word, not at the enemy; as “the years of the wicked” who has no such fear “shall be shortened.” For the same reason “the hope of the righteous is joy” now as well as at the end; whereas “the expectation of the wicked shall perish.” Not only is there the wearing chagrin and worry of disappointment to shorten his days, but he cannot shut out his dread of inevitable judgment and his mockery of perdition ends in the blackest despair.
In bright light shines out ver. 29 “The way of Jehovah is strength to the upright, but destruction to the workers of iniquity.” It is not here His “end” as in James 5:11, but His “way;” though they are alike worthy of Him, and also the reliance and comfort of faith, as His word reveals both. Oh what patience and long-suffering in His way, however dark and afflicting it seemed to Job and his friends! but what was the end? Could Satan deny its compassion and mercy? But His way corrected error for the upright, while its forbearance gives occasion to the destruction of such as work iniquity. They shall no more inhabit the earth, than the righteous be removed, in the judgment. They may foam out their own shames now; but “the froward tongue shall be cut out,” as surely as “the mouth of the righteous putteth forth wisdom.” It is the single eye to the Lord that gives the lips to know what is acceptable to God as well as man. The mouth of the wicked speaks frowardness according to the abundance of his heart; the good man speaks out of his good treasure, and this is Christ Himself.

Gospel Words: the Unclean Demon Cast Out

Mark 1:23-28; Luke 4:33-36
This miracle which Mark records as well as Luke may be noticed as the first wrought publicly on one a demoniac. Indeed it has a striking place in the opening of our Lord's service in the second Gospel, which is devoted to that display of its exercise. What truths are more needful for man to hear than that he is in one way or another under the thralldom of Satan? and that the name of Jesus alone avails to deliver him? Only it is as beautiful as it is blessed to see that the third Gospel depicts from the vision of Isaiah the grace and power in which He came, before manifesting man's wretched subjection to the enemy. It was given to Luke only to tell us of that matchless scene in the synagogue at Nazareth, before the solemn lesson that soon followed at Capernaum. How quickly men turn from wonder at grace in God and His Son to the wrath and hatred of their own offended pride I How slow to allow that their own will opens the door for their slavery to Satan!
“And there was in the synagogue a man having a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried with a loud voice, Eh! what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Didst thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out from him. And the demon, having thrown him down in the midst, came out from him, without injuring him. And amazement came upon all, and they spoke together one with another, saying, What [is] this word? because with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out” (vers. 33-36).
No doubt this case like others in the Gospels exhibits the aggravated fact of possession. It was not derangement here, but Satan's command of mind and body. Yet it is also observable that what is ordinary and presents none of the humiliating horrors of possession may be really more ruinous eternally. So we may infer from the Gadarenes, who were not drawn to Jesus by the deliverance of him that had the legion, but on the contrary besought Him to depart from their borders. In any way, how awful is the subjection! How gladly should men hail the true tidings God sends of a Deliverer in Jesus! Only believe on Him; believe God about His Son. Do you not need Him desperately? None less, none other, than Jesus can defeat Satan or save your soul.
Think of the fearful identification of the unclean spirit with the man, which his language reveals. “Eh! what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Didst Thou come to destroy us?” There is no creature in the universe which affords a lair so congenial for a demon as a sinful human heart. As long as you are far from the Lord, you are near and open to the power or wiles of the spirit of evil. He is your great enemy; the Lord Jesus is your greater friend. Reject not the Savior to your ruin. Be assured that He will receive you; if you cast your soul on Him, He will in no wise reject you. He came to seek and save the lost. If you own yourself lost, as indeed you are, He is just the Savior for you.
There is another notable word. “I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.” Yes, He was and is “holy,” even as God is, the Holy One of Israel. And this most appalls these unclean spirits, a Man, yet the Holy One of God No wonder that they believe and shudder. How portentous that sinful man when he hears neither believes nor shudders! yea, yet worse, that he believes after a sort without a shudder even at his own state and sure doom, if he abides as he is in his sins, neglecting so great salvation.
But “Jesus rebuked him,” refusing a demon's testimony; as the apostle did at a later day. God testifies by His word, as He was then testifying in Jesus, His Son and Servant; and the Holy Spirit is now sent forth to bear witness of Jesus, that you may believe on Him and be saved.
Not content with rebuking the demon, He commanded him to hold his peace and come out from the man he had made his prey. And the demon was compelled to obey. If he threw the man in the midst, as evidence of the powerful spirit, he came out from the man without doing him hurt, to the praise of the Lord Jesus. It was not “word” only, to which they were used; but this word was with authority and power in Jehovah's servant, His chosen. Amazement came on all then; but for a sinner to believe is far better still.
Oh! is not this the Savior that you want? He that died to annul him that had the power of death, He died for you, that your sins might be blotted out and yourself justified by faith in His name. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Such was the due time with God: why is it not your due time? What could God do more to meet your danger and your need? How could He better assure you of His deep compassion? No other sign could match what He has already given in the Crucified? Why should you ask or look for any other? Be sure God gave the very best.

1 Peter 1:12

We have next an interesting intimation made as to inquiring prophets, full of importance to us no less than to those the apostle was addressing—
“To whom it was revealed that not to themselves but to you they were ministering the very things which have now been announced to you through those that brought you glad tidings by [the] Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven; which things angels desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12).
There is no distinction more characteristic than the one just brought out. The Holy Spirit wrought in those of old as “the Spirit of prophecy"; and so He will work in days to come, as we learn from Rev. 19:10. Our brethren that have the witness of Jesus at the end of the age, when the final conflicts arise, will know the Spirit's action in a prophetic way, not as the one Spirit who baptized us into one body, the church, and who dwells with and in us individually (John 14:17).
Here we have the contrast drawn. It was revealed to the O. T. prophets that not to themselves but to us they ministered the things announced now to the faithful through the gospel. They prophesied of the privileges now enjoyed. The Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven at Pentecost is not giving a prophetic testimony to Jesus as then. He is as given to the Christian a Spirit of present communion in a way which was not and could not be, till Christ had come and accomplished redemption.
Fully is it admitted that all saints of old were born of God. If not born of water and Spirit, they could not see or enter the kingdom of God, as the Lord told Nicodemus. This was no privilege special to Christianity, as some shortsighted men conceive. It is indispensable for that kingdom of God in which shall come many from east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, as well as with the elders before them, and prophets and saints after them. Flesh and blood cannot inherit God's kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. But all the children of God without exception will have their part in it, as they that are Christ's are raised at His coming.
The saints of old, before He came in flesh and suffered as He did once for sins, could not have more than the Spirit of prophecy. And it appears from the Revelation, that so it will be again during the Apocalyptic crisis, when the heavenly saints are seen on high, and Jewish and Gentile saints will be separately called to bear witness on earth in the tribulation to come. All that is revealed of them in those trying scenes points to a distinct testimony and experience, resembling substantially that of the elders who had witness borne to their faith and through it, but with the faith and witness of Jesus too, as far as it is given them. They will look for His coming in His kingdom. But nothing indicates the possession of those privileges, individual and corporate, which we now enjoy through the Holy Spirit given to us.
They will not know that their bodies are Christ's members (1 Cor. 6), and that they are a living God's temple (2 Cor. 6); nor will it be theirs to say that they have put on Christ, in whom they are all one, and there can be neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, nor male and female, but who as being sons have the Spirit of God's Son sent into their hearts crying, Abba, Father (Gal. 3:4). It would be language beyond their intelligence to hear of the glory of His grace which God freely bestowed on them, in the Beloved, still more to be the fullness of Him that fills all in all (Eph. 1:23). Nor could they, as Paul exhorted the Colossian saints, give thanks to the Father who qualified them for their share in the inheritance of the saints in light, who rescued them from the power of darkness and translated them into the kingdom of the Son of His love. They in faith long for the glorious future He will establish, but they fast and groan in the present. The two witnesses prophesy (not, preach grace) in sackcloth, but with power to devour their enemies with fire, killing those who would hurt them, power to shut heaven, and over the waters, and to smite the earth, till their hour is come ere finishing their testimony. Symbolic and figurative no doubt, but symbols and figures of a state wholly foreign to that of the Christian and the church.
Far different is your position, says the Apostle, who have not only the prophetic testimony of old, but had glad tidings brought to you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven. Even the babes of the family have an unction from the Holy One and know all things (1 John 2:20); they know the Father, as well as their sins forgiven for the name's sake of Christ. The Christian dwells in God and God in him: what greater blessedness can there now be? He is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the earnest of our inheritance. We are children of God, kings and priests. We are Christ's body, and bride. We are heavenly in title and about to bear the image of the Heavenly at His coming. What precious, holy, or glorious privilege is withheld from us? In short, as another apostle says, “all things are yours;” not that ye in yourselves are anything, but that Christ is the whole sum and substance of blessedness. “All things are yours. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come, all are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” What a circle, and what a center!
How wondrous it is that the rejection of Christ which would prove the Jews returned from Babylon worse than their fathers banished there and elsewhere for their idolatry, as Isaiah and others foretold, is made by God's grace in the cross the turning-point of all blessing! It is the righteousness of God. Receiving it by faith now (while the people generally are as unbelieving as the nations generally) the remnant according to the election of grace enters into better blessings than if He had been received in the display of His Kingdom. For thus only in divine wisdom could these exceeding privileges be the portion of believers on earth with the further privilege of suffering, not only for righteousness but for His name. Truly, as the Epistle to the Hebrews says (Heb. 11:40), God provided, or foresaw, “some better thing” concerning us.
It is the interval after propitiation was made, Christ meanwhile exalted at God's right hand, and the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven, which gives occasion and ground for the special privileges of the Christian, and of the church as well as of the gospel. The Messiah had been cut off and had nothing (i.e. of His Messianic glory on Zion and over all the earth); but He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father for another and higher glory; and by-and-by He will appear for the promised glory. Christianity comes in between.
Thus the joys of communion as well as peace in Christ are tested fully. Also love has the freest scope, in the endurance of suffering for good rather than evil, and in earnest service both in the church and in the gospel. And hope again acquires its highest character, no less than spiritual understanding in our waiting for Christ's coming and the glory to be revealed in the last time. The new blessedness is so rich and peculiar, that the Holy Spirit, besides illuminating the ancient oracles of God, was about to indite another divine volume, and expressly in the leading tongue of the Gentiles of which this Epistle forms a part. It is written in Greek, not in Hebrew, even when addressed to believing Jews or to the twelve tribes of Israel. Nothing short of this would set forth the new things adequately, beginning with Christ's advent and atoning death, and closing with that great prophecy, which, while it crowns all the predictions, fitly concludes the entire revelation of God.
Who can wonder that the verse ends with “which things angels desire to look into.” Angels were upheld by the Son. They were enabled to keep their first estate. They did not need redemption like guilty man. But they were permitted, not only to shout for joy when the corner stone was laid in founding the earth, but in the multitude of the heavenly host to praise God at the birth of the Saviour, and say, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men. It was not that they doubted; but what wonder and awe, yet eagerness withal, must have filled them as they bent down to apprehend what His sufferings meant, and indeed His humiliation at large, and the glories after these! Oh, what lessons to learn of God in men, and above all in that one Man Who best proved the divine complacency in mankind!

False Prophets

1 John 4:1
This word is addressed to those who know Jesus as not only Savior but their Lord, to whom their allegiance and obedience is due. Happy those who look wholly to His good pleasure for their guidance. They ought also to know that this is a time when allegiance to Him is put to the test. It will be quite a different proof than heretofore, because Satan will deceive ever with more deceivableness of unrighteousness. The deception begins with unbelief in the Lordship of Jesus and by in subjection to it, and in speaking therefore as of the world, and not as of God for heaven, but often commending what is earthily religious and thus enhancing the deceit.
We are desired to “prove the spirits,” to bring them to the proof by the work of the prophets who speak by these spirits. First, they must be proved by their work, which is not confessing Jesus come in flesh, and therefore Lord of all men. Secondly they speak as of (ἐκ) the world. These are two very plain things, so that there is no need that simple men should be deceived. Yet the want of holding fast Jesus as Lord may lead even the elect into danger. Obeying Jesus as Lord will disown what He disowns, will make a good confession of the hope He has left, and will worship in the power of the Spirit that is of Him and the Father.
We must not suppose that having “that of the antichrist” makes those, who by this spirit speak as of the world and its hopes, like men possessed so as to act violently and madly; they would in this case be quickly suspected or disregarded. They require to be tested in the knowledge of God and of Christ, because they soberly lead from God and His obedience. Persons would gain no credit, and this their master knows, if they were to proclaim principles that would shock mankind. In order to persuade men they must propose some advantage, something that does honor to mankind and not dishonor; and no one is taught in the honor and reward of obedience to Christ. A condition that would need forgiveness of God they repudiate. They say that man in his own honor and dignity, and educated therein, has a true nobility; that death is no judgment of God; and if they acknowledge a continued existence after death (not a restoration of the dead to life by the power of God), it is to their own honor, and the extension of the self-importance with which they have dignified themselves. With a future life, however, they trouble themselves but little.
The mark given, in addition to the denial of Christ come in flesh, is that they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. What is now more common than these two marks? God warns us now against them. Against the world He has already warned us (1 John 2). The world perishes, and its works. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are of the world and not of the Father. The world will be judged, and the works thereof; but of this scoffers are willingly ignorant. They have known, or at least know, the testimony, and reject it. No one can get rid of the judgments God has appointed in His word. Disbelief alters the truth of not one thing. What is, is; and what shall be, shall be. Man does not make anything untrue by his disbelief. So nothing false can be made true, because I am deceived by it, even if it were to my ruin; nor do my convictions make any true, nor bind God in His judgments, or else my judgment would bind God. Men deceived by themselves are easily deceived by others who prophesy according to the blindness of the people. Who is so foolish as to infer that a man thinking he sees, or has a true mental apprehension of a thing, will make it certain?
God is never moved from His throne, and He will be justified in the day when all things will be judged; and if my affections are with God, I say, “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” Now God has revealed the resurrection of all men; and they will stand just as they now are to be tried, in their present capacity of conscience, by His presence, and not by their own thoughts; and their judgment will be final, and righteously so, for God has not failed to make known His goodness and His word. A true prophet believes that Jesus appeared in flesh, and will come again to blessing or to judgment. Such a one therefore speaks of things to come; he speaks of the peace made by blood, and that God in love receives men for the sake of His Son Whom He has given.
Now false prophets are in this scripture portrayed. They prophesy false things; they reverse God's judgment of the world. They speak of its capacities and its greatness; of man's perfectibility, and of the world's institutions becoming his noble condition; and the world hears them. How quickly are men's ears caught by the false evangelist, by the pretenders to inspiration! How Christ's coming to judgment, how His Lordship over the world, is scorned, though the price was paid for man's deliverance from Satan, in spirit, soul and body!
It is quite true that at present some men have not gone as far as others in the denial of the Lordship of Jesus; but their words and position are in a strange contradiction one to the other. Religion is not always rejected by those who listen to the false prophets; but few would listen if any more than accidentally speak of it. Man is so formed of God, that some acknowledgment of Him is natural and necessary as a right condition of his existence: wholly to reject is to denaturalize himself. But they do not acknowledge Lordship in Jesus; and the world hears them. Politics, as we know them, are an unbelief of Him as Lord. Man is sufficient to himself, the ground of measure for his own country and with others; as the Egyptian said of the Nile, “The river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.” It is a simple character to try them by, and it seems a sweeping judgment. But God judges all things in truth, and gives a simple rule to judge by; and all not in Christ will be found not of Him. A false prophet is one not confessing Jesus, and their word is as of the world, independently of God; and the world heeds them. These are they that speak by what is of antichrist. The apostle says “many false prophets are gone out into the world.” If any one knows the true extent of the call God has thus made and by those that hear, he listens to none of that class.
For the spirits and the prophets speaking by them are portrayed; and because they do the reverse of what true prophets do, they are false. And they are spoken of as to appear in this “last time,” when all things hasten to the day of God's interference in the world by His judgments against the rebellion; and the spirit is called “that of antichrist,” because it is set against the Lordship of Jesus over the world (to which must be added denying the Father and the Son), and will fully exist in the antichrist when he is manifested. Those who are of God overcome the seduction and turn away, because they have the Spirit in them that is greater than the spirit in the false prophets.
But let us not conceal from ourselves how plain the distinction is made by the word of God between one spirit and the other. Nor let us think less of the grace of God in Christ to man, or to ourselves who believe; for “of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” We are possessors of Christ, and own the Lord of Whose glory we are partakers, but separate by a clear undeniable separateness from all that the false prophets speak of. “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty.” Doing good to all men, and loving one another for God and our hope's sake, our works shall be owned of Him when He shall come; and they shall be judged for “all the hard speeches they have spoken against Him.”
It is unbelief in us to have anything to say to any of these matters. We return as the dog to his vomit when we do so. We must not be deceived by words of honor and of noble sentiments. When men do well to themselves, men will speak well of them, as is said in Psa. 49. Our rule is, “Whom the Lord commendeth.” But for us they are condemned, though we confess ourselves always sinners saved by grace.
But if the spirit of antichrist is at work, the same will produce a false prophet far above the rest. How wise is the arch-enemy! Will he let the world see this all at once? None was ever wicked at once. No man ever gained his fellowmen by proposing a thing as evil but as good. But you have here, in the description of the false prophets and their works, the sure marks of the beginning; and they lead surely to the end. Those spoken of speak as of the world, and the world hears them. Men again now perhaps dispute about religion, and about this or that being the right one. God says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” His commandments are to believe on the Son of God, and to love one another in this faith.
Everything is now slipping from its place. Everything not founded on Christ and His word, and to the exclusion of everything else, will soon be in the enemy's camp. Take with you a single eye, and your whole body shall be full of light: otherwise you will slip away into the dominion of evil, and at last of Satan. Do not be deceived by the name of religion. The crucified One is God's power unto salvation. It is a matter of faith and of holding fast. Disbelieve the false prophets. Believe God, and the devil will flee, and yourself be left to rejoicing of hope, and rest (with those that from the first declared God's salvation) when the Lord shall be revealed from heaven with His Mighty angels, and those who troubled you righteously receive tribulation, being punished with everlasting destruction from His presence, which will then have become yours in joy evermore. Let us now be fain to pluck out of destruction those in whom we discover that God keeps a conscience to the Lord alive in their breasts.
This then is the present state and one we shall see more and more accomplished. But there will be a great false prophet (Dan. 11:36, &c., 2 Thess. 2, Rev. 13:11, &c., 19). The power he will receive of Satan will be very great. His business will be to commend the Beast to whom Satan gives his power and throne and great authority; him the false prophet, or Beast from the earth, will commend to mankind by signs, wonders, and miracles, even fire from heaven in men's sight, to cause them to obey the Beast from the sea whom Satan has set up imperially as man's glory and boast.
It is one fashion of present unbelief to deny the existence of Satan, the adversary. There can be no greater cause of any falling into his toils; because when miracles and wonders are done, they will be ascribed to God, and thus men will give credit to Satan and be deceived. But scripture (and a sad and woeful sign of Satan's power is it when scripture is kept from people's hands) is express on the subject, that as miracles were wrought at the beginning of Christianity, so miracles at the close of the age will be from the evil one, not from God. Men then will have no eyes to discover the deceit, but will wonder and worship. The false prophet will without doubt find his representatives, who by the same deceit will commend the same lie to those subject to them, not to God; indeed of all whose names are not written in the slain Lamb's book of life. It is a sure word that Christianity falls not into forgetfulness or ignorance like heathenism, but into apostasy, and in the fullness of human intelligence and hatred of Christ.
The false prophet will receive his doom with the head of the Roman Empire, which is yet to rise from the abyss, as we learn from Rev. 17 and other places of scripture in the N. & O. T. Testaments. Comparing this with chap. 8:11, we have his miracles to deceive. But he has also the character of a worldly power, as in Dan. 11:36, &c.
It is not said that the prophets mentioned in 1 John 4 do any miracles. Their task is more ordinary; their primary character is, that they do not confess Christ come in flesh. They say as it were “Who is Lord over us?” They speak as of the world, and of its religion. But the time comes when the world, through hearing of them, is ripe in the deceivableness of unrighteousness to fall into the last snare of the enemy. At length the great false prophet, and those connected with him, will bring men into the last measure of deception and rebellion against the Lord. The time is not far off. It is written that in the last time false prophets shall come on the earth and speak by the power of antichrist. And this is written to warn and quicken those who confess the Lord, that they also be not deceived. P. T.

The Inspiration of the Scriptures: John

Chap. 5 Divine Design.—31. John
Can it be doubted by any serious reader that the fourth Gospel presents the Lord pre-eminently in His divine aspect? He is the Word Who in the beginning was with God and was God. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. He was made (or became) flesh; but none the less the Only-begotten is Son in the bosom of the Father, as we hear in the wonderful opening (chap. 1:1-18) of the three introductory chapters. Indeed most of chap. 4 is before His public ministry commences in Galilee after John was put in prison. Chap. 1 is striking in its enumeration of His various titles, and in setting forth the work which on earth (ver. 29) or from heaven (ver. 33) none but a Divine Person could do. Chap. 2 prefigures the bridal joy He will usher in at His coming, and the judgment which is to cleanse the temple in Jerusalem; but it is as risen from the dead, as He announces. Man, however, was quite unmeet. Hence chap 3 insists on his being born anew as indispensable even for the earthly things of the kingdom. But the Son of Man lifted up on the cross opens the way for heavenly things and life eternal, being in truth also the Son of God given in love to the world that the believer might be fully blessed. And the chapter closes with John's witness to His glory as above all, Whom the Father loves and has given all things to be in His hand.
To the woman of Samaria (chap. 4) the Lord opens the free giving of God in the Son stooping to the uttermost, yet giving not life only but living water, the Spirit, as a fountain within; as He goes on to the hour when the true worshippers worship the Father in spirit and truth. Not only does she own Him as the Christ, but many of the Samaritans believed because of her word, and many more because of His, confessing Him the Savior of the world. When at Cana, the dying son of the courtier is healed by His word, though the father's faith at first was short and corrected by the Lord.
In Jerusalem (for this Gospel tells of His often working there), at the pool of Bethesda, He brings out His quickening and raising power, with a resurrection of judgment for unbelievers, in a discourse which grew out of a man long infirm being immediately made well. The latter part of chap. 5 points out man's responsibility because of the ample testimonies afforded.
Chap. 6 opens with the five loaves in His hand feeding five thousand men, and the Lord owned as the Prophet, refusing at present to be King, goes as Priest on high but will return to His own, tempest-tossed as they were, so that the ship at once reaches the land. The discourse follows, or rather discourses (see ver. 59), in which He speaks of Himself coming down from heaven as the bread of God; next, giving His flesh to be eaten and His blood drunk; lastly, the Son of Man ascending where He was before: the Incarnation, the Redemption, and the Ascension, the “common faith.”
Chap. 7 completes this portion by the disclosure that, though the time was not yet come to show Himself to the world as He surely will when He comes in His kingdom, He would give the Spirit when glorified, like rivers flowing out. It is the Spirit for bearing witness, as in chap. 4 for worship. Judaism is in all these chapters set aside for Christ, Who is really and in power what it was in figure, not to say much more.
In chap. 8 we have Christ, the Son, yea God, manifested by His word, but rejected; in chap. 9 manifested by His work, and equally rejected by those unbelievers who pretended to see, while the once blind from birth believed, saw and worshipped Him. Chap. 10 closes this section by the Good Shepherd service of the Son, one with the Father, Whose word and work are the resting-place of His sheep, not Jews only but Gentiles, and even now one flock, one Shepherd.
The next portion gives the testimonies borne to the Lord Jesus; and first in chap. 11 as Son of God in power of resurrection shown on Lazarus, already not dead only but buried, “for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” The Jews, dead to all but self and present interests, are only afraid of the Romans; and Caiaphas, more wicked than Balaam, prophesies the expediency of one man (albeit Son of God!) dying for the people. Yes, grace in God sent Him, grace in Himself came, to die; but what blind and blasphemous iniquity in that expediency, whereby the whole nation morally speaking did perish, and their priesthood notably! In chap. 7 Mary's anointing Jesus' feet with the costly unguent is told, censured by the heartless covetousness of Judas about to betray Him. But the testimony is next given to Him as King of Israel, Son of David, when entering Jerusalem. Here the Greeks desire to see Jesus, Who answers, “The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified,” and announces in His solemn formula the necessity of His death to bear much fruit. Thus could Gentiles be fellow-heirs as well as Jews in God's rich grace. But if man was insensible, the Lord realized the sacrifice; and the Father answered the trouble of His soul with the assurance of glorifying His name again, as He had already, to wit in resurrection. The Lord, no longer in figure but in open speech, explains the judgment of the world and of its prince, because of His rejection on the cross; whereby He becomes the center for all, whether Jew or Gentile, the One by Whom alone the believer comes to God. From ver. 37 the evangelist ponders on the situation of Jewish unbelief, as owned in Isa. 6 and 53, putting God's seal on the prophet. It is the more awful because many even of the rulers did believe, but feared to confess through loving the glory of men rather than of God. From ver. 44 it is Jesus in His last charge publicly laying bare the root of things. It was not Himself only come as light and to save: the word He had spoken should judge in the last day. The Father Who had sent Him, and Whose commandment is life eternal, was behind and above all.
Then in chaps. 8-17. we have the communications that open out the coming association with Christ in heaven, which was a wholly new thing after the breach with the Jew, chap. 17 completing it by giving us to hear His communion with His Father thereon. The first of these presents Christ in the significant act of washing the disciples' feet, with (not blood but) water. It is His advocacy for us now in heaven with the Father, interceding for us, as we on earth are called to do for one another (14). Advocacy is not to form relations, but to restore communion when interrupted by sins: as generally misunderstood now as by Peter then, to the shame of those who have the Holy Spirit given them. Judas is excepted, whose betraying Him He most touchingly discloses after supper; “and he went out immediately; and it was night!” Thereon, in terms of infinite depth, the Lord says, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God also shall glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” There is the ground and the display of the righteousness of God in its highest character. The blessing proclaimed in the Gospel is its result to us in His grace. Here we have all fully in Christ, where none as yet could follow. Yet all are exhorted to love one another as His disciples. If Peter trusted himself, he should learn what he himself was by denying Him thrice.
Chap. 14 follows, comforting the disciples on His departure by the blessed hope of His coming to receive them for the Father's house, whither He was going to prepare a place for them: a wonderful statement indeed of that wonderful hope. Next, He points out what the Father is Whom He had been showing while here, words and works alike the Father's; as they should do even greater works because of His going to the Father. Obedience was to be the witness of their loving Him; on His part, the Father at the Son's instance would give them another Advocate, the Spirit of truth, to dwell with them forever, yea to be in them. Hence in that day they should know that Christ is in the Father, and they in Him, and He in them. But obedience should only be deepened, not of His commandments only, but of His word. Here comes in the Christian's responsibility, and in the Father's government of our souls more enjoyment follows fidelity. Indifference to the Savior's words proves that one loves Him not. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father would send in His name, should teach them all things, as well as recall all that Christ had said. He leaves them peace, and gives them His peace. Why then be troubled or fear? Love to Him would rejoice that He was going to the Father. Now that He is rejected, the enemy acquires the title of Prince or Ruler of this world: but his coming finds nothing in Christ, Who loves the Father and obeys, as Adam disobeyed, unto death.
Chap. 15 treats of Christ as superseding Israel (fully proved an empty vine, and worse), and the disciples as branches, responsible to bear fruit, but only doing so by abiding in Him. Not life, still less unity of the members with the Head, is in question, but practical cleaving to Him in order to fruit. Those who do not are cut off, as hollow professors. Keeping His commandments is to abide in His love; for here it is ours to Him in daily practice, not His to us as in the gospel. Even here His love to us is the spring and pattern of ours one to another; but it is as friends, who once were enemies; and He chose us to bear fruit abidingly, telling us all He heard from His Father, and assuring us that what we ask of the Father in His name, He will give us. He urges mutual love in the face of the world's hatred, as of Him, so of those who must expect persecution for His sake, and are avowedly not of the world. Christ's words and works had only brought out hatred of Him and His Father—a sin outdoing all other sins. But the Advocate when come would testify of Him, as those also did who were with Him from the beginning.
In chap. 16 we have distinctly the presence of the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus sends; and He, when come, demonstrates to the world sin, righteousness, and judgment; as He guides the disciples into all the truth, and announces the things to come, thus glorifying Christ. It was but a “little while” in contrast with Jewish expectation. Meanwhile how wondrous to have the Father plainly revealed, and to be loved of Him ourselves, and to have peace in Christ with tribulation in the world!
Chap. 17 crowns all with the Son's spreading before the Father His person and His work, as His double plea for glorification, but in order to glorify the Father, in the objects of their common love beyond all thought of man. He requests that they should be associated with Him before the Father as well as before the world; and at length be with Him and behold His glory, and, meanwhile, yet more know the Father's name with its blessed consequences.
Chap. 18 commences the final scenes: the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the blasphemous unbelief of Annas and Caiaphas, the guilty yielding of Pilate against his conscience, and the guiltier clamor of the Jews who prefer Barabbas. In chap. 19 Pilate scourges Jesus, but vainly strives against spite till the chief priests disavow the Christ of God in the apostate answer, We have no king but Caesar. The only One that shines with divine dignity and grace is Jesus, as this is the design of the Gospel: not His agony in the garden, but the prostration of the band at His name; not the forsaking on the cross, but, “It is finished,” and the dismissal of His spirit; for He, and He only, had authority to lay down His life (soul) and to take it again. Here too is noticed the piercing of His side after death, and the blood and water that came out, as John testifies in the Gospel and applies in his First Epistle. Also Nicodemus reappears, and Joseph (whatever man designed) “with the rich in his death.” In chap. 20, early as Mary of Magdala came on the first day of the week, she found the stone taken away from the tomb. Peter and John run at her call, and see the evidence of His resurrection. They had not as yet known the scripture that He must rise. Such faith is powerless. Mary knew no more, but remained weeping; when first angels, then the Lord, ask her why she wept. All was known when He said, “Mary.” He forbids her touching Him (not so was the Christian to know Him, but as glorified), and sends His message of full grace to His brethren, I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God. At evening within the shut doors they were assembled, when Jesus stood in the midst, announces peace to them, and gives them their mission of peace, with administrative remission and retention of sins. Thomas was both absent and unbelieving; but eight days after he was with them, and Jesus comes, though the doors were shut, and again salutes them, with full acceptance of Thomas' challenge to shame him into faith, so that he cries, My Lord and my God. The words that follow confirm the conviction that he typifies the Jew brought to see and believe, after the Christian is called to the better part—believing without seeing.
Chap. 21 appends typically the millennial haul of many great fishes from the sea of the nations, in contrast with the catch now (as in Luke) where the nets break and the boats are sinking. Peter is then probed, but reinstated before his brethren and entrusted with Christ's lambs and sheep. Besides, he is assured of that portion by grace which could not be in his self-confidence. Next John has his place defined enigmatically; not as the earliest tradition said, that he should not die, “but if I will that he abide until I come, what [is it] to thee?” All is left in suspense. John remained, when all the rest were gone, to point out the passing away of the churches, “the things that are,” and to predict the judgments on the world which precede the Lord's return in visible glory, when He will take His great power and reign.

The Spirit's Work

We see the Spirit's work in creation, in the Sam-sons, Jephthahs, Sauls, and even in Balaam. We see it in the prophets calling back to the law, and foretelling Messiah's sufferings and the glories to follow. But here though called the Spirit of Christ, yet it was a divine Person working in a divine way to manifest divine power, or deal with God's people from without. This went on till John, who was Messiah's forerunner. It was a transition time.
Then on Christ as Man the Holy Spirit came down as a dove. He was anointed and sealed, but He only—on this to be declared Son of God by John. And then the heavens opened, and the Father owning Him as His Son, the Man that was there anointed, the Second man and Last Adam, personally though yet alone. For except the corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it must abide alone. Even then Christ was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to overcome for us, fully tested here below. Through the eternal Spirit too He offered Himself without spot to God. But He was alone.
But then (what no heart can tell or fathom) the blessed Son of God, the lowly One and the Just, was made sin for us; and we can say, He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Now He is risen. All that is passed. That wonderful atonement has been made, in the very place of our sins, in absolute and perfect obedience and in love to the Father—God perfectly glorified. Sin, death, Satan's power, God's forsaking in judgment against all sin; all are passed. And man, owned of God, and having glorified God as made sin, is passed into the divine glory to begin all afresh in a place the consequence of redemption. Thence too, having in that place received the Holy Ghost, Christ sent Him down to believers (not to man in the flesh or the world, though the gospel goes out thereby), to associate them with and unite them to Him Who, glorified, begins all afresh. J. N. D.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Who Shall Declare. . .; Grave with the Wicked; Tares; Their Angels; Little or Believing One;

Q.-(1). Isa. 53:8. What is meant by “Who shall declare his generation?” H. D.
(2). Isa. 53:9. How are we to understand “His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death?” R. M.
A.-(1). It appears to be as contrary to general usage as to the particular context, that we should here conceive “posterity” (even though of course in a spiritual sense). The meaning is rather His contemporaries. How blind they were, not only to His glory, but to the wondrous work His humiliation was about to achieve by His atoning death on the cross! They in their murderous hatred were but hurrying on that which would give effect, in the grace of God, to taking away the transgression of His people.
(2). The next verse refers, not only to the grave which was appointed to one reckoned with lawless men, but to that honor which God took care should notwithstanding be paid in His burial. As is well known, “the wicked” is plural, whereas “rich” is singular. The simple facts are thus the best comment on the prediction. Man proposed, but God disposed, Who alone could and did set it out long before. Men assigned Him in his thought a grave with the wicked, but He was in fact according to His purpose with a rich man in His death.
Q.-What is the real bearing of Jer. 31:22? Bp. Pearson treats it as the prophet's prediction of the Incarnation, as you will know, declaring this interpretation “ancient, literal, and clear.” “Ancient” it may be, both for Rabbis and Fathers; but is it either literal or clear? Is it the truth intended? E.
A.-The context clearly looks on to the gathering of all the families of Israel, not to a mere remnant of Jews provisionally (in a day when Jehovah will be their God) and they His people. He that scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a flock; when priests and people shall be satisfied with His goodness (vers. 1-14). Rachel's tears are to be no more; her children instead of perishing shall come to their own border. Ephraim turns and repents; and Jehovah says He will surely have mercy on him (15-20). Then, as filling up the beautiful picture of Israel's return, we hear the call to set up way marks and signposts, yea to set their heart toward the highway, once of sorrow, now of joy; for Jehovah bids the virgin of Israel, forgiving all past delinquency, to “turn again to these thy cities.” “How long wilt thou wander about, thou backsliding daughter?” What has one word of all this to do with the miraculous conception, all-important as it is in Isa. 7:14? “For Jehovah hath created a new thing in the earth; a woman shall encompass a man” (22). No matter what their weakness, they need not fear the strong, but should go round about him. The word here used is never employed to express any such idea as is assumed, but is suitable for a phrase that imports one out of weakness made strong. And this is confirmed by all that follows to the end of the chapter. Even Calvin, unintelligent as he was in prophetic truth, understood the verse correctly. The Incarnation rests on grounds so plain and solid as to need no forced construction. For a female compassing a mighty one has nothing in common with giving birth, but rather to freedom and exemption from his power, however weak in herself. Usage quite agrees with the force of the words. Where is the phrase applied to gestation? Scripture speaks similarly where any strikingly divine intervention wholly distinct appears; as, for instance, of the earth opening its mouth to swallow the apostate rebels, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Num. 16:30). The phrase employed therefore embraces a far wider range than the Incarnation, to which the terms of a woman compassing a man are in themselves wholly alien.
Q.-Matt. 13:5, 6. Can a believer lose life eternal? R. C.
A.-It would not be life eternal if it could be lost. Animal life can perish; but even the soul is immortal for man, being inbreathed by Jehovah-God (Gen. 2). How much less can that life perish, which the believer hath (not merely shall have) in Christ, the Son of God! What then means the withering away of what sprang up on the stony places? Our Lord explains in vers. 20, 21. There is more than one way of ruin for mere professors of His name: 1st. Satan hindering the entrance of the word, as in ver. 19; 2nd. as in vers. 20, 21 the flesh receiving the word hastily without conscience before God, and therefore quickly giving up under pressure; and 3rd. as in ver. 22, the anxiety of this age and the deceitfulness of wealth choking all fruit, the necessary issue of life. It is the world. He who hears in faith is no longer Satan's prey and does bear fruit, though even so the flesh and the world may hinder the hundredfold which ought to be.
Q.-Matt. 13:25. What is the true force of the word (ζιζάνια) translated “tares” in the A. & R. Versions? Is there any ground for the strange notion, among many of old to our day, that the noxious weed intended is degenerate wheat? QUERIST.
A.-The word beyond doubt means “darnel,” which is in Latin “lolium,” or “l. temulentum” because of its deleterious properties. The “tare” or vetch is in Latin “vicia,” and, far from being a noxious weed, a leguminous grain wholesome in itself and useful to the agriculturist in spring and winter for feeding his cattle. There is no more ground in natural science to confound tares with darnel than there is in philology. The things are as distinct as the terms. Nor is there the smallest evidence, since man began to observe, that wheat ever degenerated into either. It is a mere and baseless fancy. Yet so farmers talked and fathers wrote, to say nothing of natural philosophers like Pliny of old, and grave divines, as Dr. J. Lightfoot down to Abp. Trench, who goes so far as to treat as a Manichean error that wheat and tares (or rather darnel) are different in kind, and their spiritual counterparts incapable of passing from the one into the other I As his assumption is not the fact in natural history, so it is a mistake doctrinally to deduce from our Lord's words that the sons of the kingdom and those of the evil one are interchangeable. They are viewed as the results of the respective sowings. It is still more palpably the error of ancients and moderns to overlook our Lord's interpretation of “the field” as “the world.” To regard it as “the church” opens the door to confusion and evil without end, as every Christian ought to see.
Q.-Matt. 17:10. What mean “their angels?” R. M.
A.-Not the spirits, but the angelic representatives, of the little ones. Compare what is said of Peter in Acts 12:15. It is well however to abide within the limits of what is revealed without prying beyond. See Col. 2.
Q.-Matt. 18:5; 19:13-15. Is it a little one only, or a believing one, or both? R. M.
A.-The Lord at the beginning of the chapter corrects the ambition of the disciples by the figure of a little child as far as possible from any such thought. But it is certain from ver. 6 that He goes forward to the “little ones that believe on Me.” But it seems worthy of Him before closing the subject to give us comfort in a more distinct way than elsewhere respecting “little ones” like the one that He called and set in the midst of them. How many die at an early age? Do they perish? We are not left to spiritual instinct, or to reasoning from general principles. Nor is it the unbelieving and unspiritual plea that they are “innocent.” They do belong to the fallen race, for whose sake the good Shepherd came and died: “even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Are we not entitled to look beyond those that believe to “these little ones” for assurance that, if called before believing could be, they are not to perish? Compare also chap. 19:13-15.
Q.-(1). Mark 1:23, Luke 4:33-36. The late Dr. Trench, Abp. of Dublin, in his well-known Notes on the Miracles of our Lord (p. 233, seventh ed. 1862), speaks of the healing of this demoniac as “the second miracle” of the kind which the evangelists record at any length. Is this correct?
(2). He connects in p. 234 “the Holy One of God” in the accounts of this miracle with Psa. 16:10, as “the first appearance of this phrase.” Is it really so?
(3).Dean Alford in the fifth edition of his Greek Testament, 1 313, says that this demoniac's healing in the synagogue at Capernaum was “not immediately after the preceding. The calling of the apostles, the Sermon on the Mount, the healing of the leper, and of the centurion's servant, precede the following miracle.” Is this the fact? or ignorance of the chronology? QUERIST.
A.-(1). The Abp. cannot have carefully examined the relative order of the events in the Gospels; else he must have known that the cure of the demoniac at Capernaum was the first case of detailed account, and long before that related in Matt. 8:28-36. Mark and Luke are explicit that the cure in the synagogue at Capernaum was on the same sabbath when he healed Simon's mother-in-law, soon after the four apostles were called as Mark proves, whereas only Luke reserves that call for fuller development in the miraculous draft which so powerfully acted on Peter's soul (Luke 5:1-11). But both conclusively show that the cure of legion (Matthew telling us of two demoniacs) was after the day when the parables of the kingdom were delivered (Matt. 13), and the storm on the lake when the Lord rebuked the winds and the raging water.
(2). Dr. Trench is not less mistaken as to the phrase, “Holy One of God.” “Holy” here answers to ἅγιος, whereas the corresponding Greek in the Sept. rendering of the Psalm (and quite accurately) is ὅσιος. The former means strictly holy, as separate from evil; and this the angel announced even of the Lord's humanity, in a way never said of any other born of woman, nor yet of Adam unfallen. Compare also 1 John 2:20. The latter is often in the Sept. said of Christ as the “pious” or “gracious” One, which comes practically to the sense of “holy” as said of man, and “merciful” of God. This is the word that occurs in Psa. 16 as quoted in Acts 13:35, as also in Heb. 7:26. Psa. 89 is very instructive, in that we have the former said of the Holy One of Israel, our King, in ver. 18; whereas He is said to speak in vision of His Holy or gracious One in ver. 19, the One in Whom His loving-kindnesses or mercies centered.
(3). From what has been already remarked on Dr. T., it will be plain how far from all intelligence of the structure of the Gospels, and of Matthew's in particular, was Dean Alford. For there is no ground to doubt that the healing of the demoniac at Capernaum is the first recorded miracle of our Lord after calling the four apostles, that the leper was healed not long after, and considerably before what is called the Sermon on the Mount, and that the centurion's servant was not healed till after it, as is shown in Luke 6, 7 beyond cavil. Matthew was led to displace the events in order to group together a divine dispensational picture; Luke brings together events for the moral purpose which reigns in his account. Mark had no such reason to depart from the sequence of fact. Failure in apprehending the truth of things has wrought serious mischief in immature harmonies of the Gospels, and still worse in those whose lack of insight emboldened them to tax inspired men with discrepancies and errors.

Isaac: 23. Isaac in Gerar

What candor is in scripture! How truly divine Isaac was saved from going down into Egypt, whither famine had driven his father. He was guided so as to be a suited type of Him Who is now for us only in heaven. But he sinned in Gerar, as Abraham sinned before him. This ought to have been to him a solemn admonition, if he had remembered it as he ought in God's presence. Out of it the failure of one we love becomes a snare to repeat it, and it may be an excuse as not pretending to be better.
“And Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked him about his wife. And he said, She [is] my sister; for he feared to say, My wife, lest the men of the place slay me on account of Rebecca; because she was fair in countenance. And it came to pass when he had been there some time, that Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out of the window and saw, and, behold, Isaac [was] sporting with Rebecca his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac and said, Behold, she [is] certainly thy wife; and how saidst thou, She [is] my sister? And Isaac said to him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. And Abimelech said, What [is] this thou hast done to us? Lightly might one of the people have lain with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought on us a trespass. And Abimelech charged all the people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely (dying) be put to death” (vers. 6-11).
For the Christian it is the sure proof of a low and earthly state of soul to palliate a lie by toning it down to “incorrect speech.” One thus panders to the world's code of honor, where the truth is unknown, and an impeachment of veracity, however certain, demands wiping out with blood. Still more deplorable is the delusion which plays into the enemy's hand, as if no saint can be guilty of lying. Even the N. T. warns of the danger in Epistles such as those to the saints in Ephesus and Colosse, which treat of the highest privileges of the church. “Wherefore putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each with his neighbor; for we are members one of another.” “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” The repeated warning proves how readily it might be even among the best taught. Only ignorance or worldliness could think otherwise. In fact it is recorded for our admonition that such was the first sin after the great Pentecost.
But it is intolerable to compare or class with lying any mistakes of inadvertency or hearsay, particularly when there is care to correct them after the facts are better known. The essence of lying is the wish to deceive, whatever the motive; which may be to exalt self or to injure another, to evade through fear or to gain a desired end. There is no difficulty in discerning where the eye is single. Even the least esteemed or those of no account in the church are quite capable of judging matters of wrong or falsehood, though it would be absurd to expect from such a sound judgment on deeper questions. But as the O. T. does not hide or extenuate the fathers, so the N. T. lets us know how far in this very way might fall an honored apostle, who trusted himself and let drop the warning words of the Lord.
Is it not a most humbling element presented in Isaac's case as in Abraham's, that a saint may sink below the world's standard of morality? The king of the Philistines reproved Isaac for untruthfulness, and this in exposing that wife to dishonor and his own people to guiltiness; as either he or probably his predecessor had similarly denounced the same case of deceit in Abraham, made yet worse by his previous failure in a like way with Pharaoh in Egypt. Had Isaac borne all holily in mind, it must have proved a safeguard by grace, instead of a cloak for the flesh yielding through unbelieving terror. Let ourselves now see to it that we profit by the written word all the more, because He Who is the truth, now fully revealed, makes all such failure appear in its full heinousness.
There is an added element in the untruth of Abraham and of Isaac: the betrayal of the relationship of their wives Sarah and Rebecca by their own shortsighted selfishness. How blessed is the contrast of Christ, as the Husband of Israel, and the Bridegroom of the church! Compare Num. 30.

Priesthood: 16. Birds Unclean

Birds Unclean
Lev. 11:13-19
The next division handled is of the birds proscribed, which left other kinds free to the use of Israel.
“And these ye shall have in abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the osprey, and the sea eagle; and the falcon, and the kite after its kind; every raven after its kind; and the ostrich, and the night hawk, and the seagull, and the hawk after its kind; and the owl, and the gannet, and the ibis, and the swan, and the pelican, and the vulture, and the stork; the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe, and the bat “ (vers. 13-19). Of course the rendering in any case is but approximate, some of the names occurring nowhere else. Nor is there any aim at scientific terminology, but a practical direction for Jehovah's people, with a moral application now for faith.
Many birds of the heaven are characterized by qualities hateful to God for those He takes into relationship with Himself; others are unsuited to be the food of mankind. What can be more opposed to His character than fierce rapacity toward the living, and insatiable greed toward the dead?
The utility of these last as scavengers, in the actual condition of a fallen world, may be of no small value for men who settle down in the earth as it is, denying a primeval paradise for our first parents, or striving to blot out the proofs of their exile through rebellion against God. If the Israelite was forbidden to make such birds his food, the Christian is to have no fellowship with ways morally analogous; but to avoid and reprove them. If some of these birds boldly seek their prey by day, others find their congenial pursuits in the darkness of the night. There are birds as remarkable for lack of family affection as others for loving care. But in man what is even this without the fear of God? Some are of towering pride, others of loathsome lust after the unclean; some are known as of plain exterior, others of attractive beauty; some have quiet habits and natural kindness; others are boisterous, tricky, or otherwise offensive. But all symbolize traits with which we should eschew all communion. Christ is to be our food.
“Have the same mind one for another, not minding high things but going along with the lowly. Be not wise in your own eyes, rendering to no one evil for evil, providing things honest before all men. If possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men, avenging not yourselves, beloved, but give place to wrath” (Rom. 12:16-19).
“And such were some of you; but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
“Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have to distribute to him that hath need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but whatever is good for needful edification, that it may give grace to those that hear. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye were sealed unto redemption's day. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you. Be ye therefore imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved us, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not be even named among you, as it becometh saints; and filthiness and foolish talking or buffoonery which are not befitting, but rather thanksgiving.... Be not ye therefore fellow-partakers with them; for ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light... and have no fellowship with the fruitless works of darkness, but rather also reprove them” (Eph. 4:5).
But why cite more, when scripture so largely speaks similar language? Having Christ as our life, we are taught to feed on that heavenly bread, yea, to eat His flesh and drink His blood; for His flesh is true food, and His blood is true drink. He that eateth His flesh, and drinketh His blood, abideth in Christ and Christ in him. As the living Father sent Christ, and He lived on account of (not merely “by”) His Father, so, said He, he that eateth Me shall live on account of Me. Such is the communion that sustains the Christian. What is of the first man is mere offal, wholly unsuited and injurious to the new man.

Proverbs 11:1-9

THE saving grace of God instructs us to live righteously in the present age. It is far from all that He looks for in a saint. Sobriety He claims, and godliness also. But honesty in our dealings with men is indispensable, the lack of which wholly discredits any profession of piety. It betrays a covetous man, whom the Holy Spirit brands as an idolater (Eph. 5:5), and without inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. How hateful it was to Him of old, we see in the opening of our chapter.
“A false balance [is] abomination to Jehovah, but a just weight his delight.
Pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly [is] wisdom.
The integrity of the upright guideth them; but the crookedness of the treacherous destroyeth them.
Wealth profiteth not in the day of wrath; but righteousness delivereth from death.
The righteousness of the perfect maketh plain his way; but the wicked falleth by his own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright delivereth them; but the treacherous are taken in their own craving.
When a wicked man dieth, expectation shall perish; and the hope of evil ones perisheth.
The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
With the mouth a hypocrite destroyeth his neighbor; but through knowledge are the righteous delivered” (vers. 1-9).
“A false balance” is much more than an act of dishonesty; it implies the pretension to integrity, and withal deliberate purpose to cheat. It is therefore an abomination to Him Whose eyes behold, Whose eyelids try the children of men; as a just weight is His delight. Trickery in trade is a corroding evil, most of all fatal to such as gain a sullied or a seared conscience.
Pride readily comes in this poor world, where man poses as something when he is nothing and worse. But its shadow is close at hand: “shame cometh"; and this even here, before the judgment. For God resists the proud, and proclaims their abasement. But with the lowly is wisdom. He is not ever on the tenter-hooks of self. He looks above the petty ways of men, and refuses to be irritated even if wronged. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy.
It is not only unworthy devices in trade, or a self-exalting spirit, that we need to watch against, but perverseness in our heart and ways. Christ could designate Himself as “the truth.” He was absolutely what He also spoke. His ways and His words perfectly agreed. Are we begotten by the word of truth, and sanctified by the Spirit? Let us follow Him, finding it is our sin and shame if we turn aside in aught. How blessed to be truthful in love “The integrity of the upright shall guide them; but the crookedness of the treacherous destroyeth them.” A tortuous path ends in ruin.
Nor can “riches” avail to avert or stay God's displeasure, however they may shield and deliver in man's day. “Riches profit not in the day of wrath; but righteousness delivereth from death.” The just have a special resurrection (Luke 14:13). “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power.” Death is now our servant (Rom. 8:38, 1 Cor. 3:22).
Nor is it only that righteousness delivers from death; “the righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way; but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.” The man to whom grace has given a single eye sees the way straight before him; while the wicked needs no executioner, as he shall die by his own evil.
Death ruins the flattering expectation of a wicked person. In hades he lifts up his eyes, being in torments: they had been closed before, save to the lie of the enemy. “When a wicked man dieth, expectation shall perish; and the hope of evil ones perisheth.” “Thou fool” is then heard and felt in his despair.
How different is the lot of the just! “The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.” Even here the believer proves that God is his great Deliverer: how much more when the morning dawns without clouds! The wicked even here are not without evidence that God's eye is on them, to let them taste the fruit of their own way. “In the net which they hid is their own foot taken.”
“With the mouth a hypocrite (or, impious one) destroyeth his neighbor; but through knowledge are the righteous delivered.” Violence is not so dangerous as deceit, and no deceit is so evil as that which clothes itself with the name of the Lord and His word. But God causes all things to work together for those that love Him, and this “through knowledge,” through that which faith is now to learn, because God gives it in His grace. Thus is the righteous kept, yea garrisoned by God's power, whatever ill-will may plot to destroy.

Gospel Words: the Woman With a Spirit of Infirmity

Luke 13:10-17
This is a miracle which fell to Luke alone to record; and it sets before us the Man Who was Jehovah's fellow accomplishing His mission of grace in the midst of a race not only indifferent or hostile to God but hypocritical. Their perverse iniquity leads on those who ought to be intercessors to become adversaries.
“And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, a woman having a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and she was bowed together and wholly unable to hold her head up. And Jesus, seeing her, addressed and said to her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands upon her; and immediately she was made straight, and was glorifying God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus healed on the sabbath, said in answer to the crowd, There are six days in which one ought to work; in these therefore come and be healed, and not on the day of the sabbath. The Lord therefore answered him and said, Hypocrites! doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall and leading it away water [it]? And this [woman], Abraham's daughter as she is, whom Satan bound, behold, eighteen years, ought she not to be loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath? And as he said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed; and all the crowd rejoiced at all the glorious things that were being done by him” (vers 10-17).
The sabbath had often furnished occasion to prove the evil state of the people, especially of those in repute among men, as in Luke 6:2, 7, and 11. Here the Holy Spirit introduces the grace of our Lord, where the context tells of God's moral judgment of Israel, tested and aggravated by His presence, Who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil. But what was God and His grace to such as sought no glory but their own? They were only provoked by a love which condemned their ungodly self-seeking. Their heart was far from Him, and its deceits were veiled from themselves by religious forms. It is not the righteous, still less the self-righteous, but sinners whom our Savior calls.
While teaching in a synagogue one sabbath, the Lord beheld a woman, so long bowed down that she could not look up, and yet coming to hear God's word. Without an appeal from her or any other, He addressed her with words of wonder-working compassion. “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” Not content with what had fully sufficed, “He laid his hands upon her; and immediately she was made straight, and was glorifying God.” He had vanquished the strong one, and would take from him all his panoply wherein he trusted, and would divide his spoils. The Lord was entitled to proclaim release to the captives, and to set at liberty those who were bound.
The ruler of the synagogue, instead of owning and blessing God for His manifested goodness and power, was “indignant,” hating the grace which he could not deny, and thus proving himself to be under a deeper slavery to Satan than the delivered woman. His wickedness was all the worse for the zeal, in his answer to the crowd, he affected for the sabbath. “There are six days in which one ought to work; in these therefore come and be healed, and not on the day of the sabbath.” It was God Who had wrought in and by His Son; and would he shut one out from His mercy on that day? to say nothing of her lying in the bitter bondage of the enemy so many years.
“The Lord therefore answered him and said, Ye hypocrites! [for he had not a few who shared his half-hearted unbelief] doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead it off to watering? and this [woman], Abraham's daughter as she is, whom Satan bound, behold, eighteen years, ought she not to be loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath?” It was irresistible for the conscience; and hearts were gladdened by grace as evident as the truth. “All his adversaries were ashamed; and all the crowd rejoiced at all the glorious things that were being done by him.”
He, the Lord, has done a far greater and more enduring work. He has given His life a ransom for many. He has suffered once for sins, Just for unjust, to bring you to God, Who points you to Him for a greater deliverance, even redemption for the body with glory on high. Acknowledge then your desperate need; for you too are so bowed down by Satan through your iniquities, that you cannot truly look up. To your guilt and misery add not the hypocrisy of pleading religious obligations, when God proclaims in your ears the glad tidings of His Son, the Rescuer from the wrath to come. Neither working on the six days, nor rest on the seventh, can efface your sins; nor can the synagogue avail, nor saints or Virgin more than yourself, but “Jesus only.” He is the “one Mediator between God and men” (1 Tim. 2:5). “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house” (Acts 16:31). “In none other is there salvation; for neither is there any other name under heaven that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.” So said Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit to the rulers of the people and 'elders (Acts 4:12). So say not those who falsely claim to be his successors or their abettors.

1 Peter 1:13

Exhortation here begins, founded on the preceding verses. Now that Christ is come, and gone to heaven, having borne our sins, the believing Jews were objects of rich and sure blessing, far beyond what their fathers enjoyed before the law or since.
The glory is not manifested on earth as the prophets predicted, but this will have actual accomplishment in a new age. There is now an intermediate state for saints on earth before that new age: faith, love, and hope have their fullest exercise, after the sufferings destined for Christ were closed, while He is received up in glory. It is therefore before the revelation of His other glories to all the earth and indeed the universe. Our life is hid in God; but when He is manifested, so shall we be with Him in glory. The glories after His sufferings are not therefore complete, but in a large measure await His appearing at the end of the age.
Yet the glory in which He sits already at God's right hand has a momentous bearing on the soul individually and on the church as a body. Hence even now we exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory; for Christ, its spring, is glorified and we expect to be, now receiving the end of faith, salvation of souls, but not yet that of our bodies. Meanwhile we have for our profit, not only what prophets of old testified beforehand, but the still fuller light of truth announced since Christ by apostles and others, who evangelized in the power of the Spirit sent forth from heaven, as Father and Son alike promised. This is Christianity, not promise but accomplishment of redemption by Christ's work, and, as shown elsewhere, for Gentile believers as much as Jewish, though these only are addressed here by the Apostle appropriately to this message.
“Wherefore, having girded up the loins of your mind, being sober, hope perfectly for the grace that is to be brought to you at Jesus Christ's revelation (1 Pet. 1:13).
The allusion in the opening clause is evidently to their forefathers at the first passover: a memorial to them, a feast to Jehovah to be kept by an ordinance forever. “Thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand.” Could words or acts more graphically give us the living picture of a people screened from divine judgment, and leaving in haste the house of bondage for a land flowing with milk and honey? The Lord in Luke 12:35 employed the same figure, with others, to impress on His disciples their pilgrim character in waiting for His coming: in no taking their ease, but constant readiness to do His will earnestly, as was meant by their loins girt about. On occasions of active exertion the garments, instead of being allowed to flow loosely, were tucked up, that the work might be done without impediment. So would He now have our hearts engaged without wandering affections or distraction of mind. The blessing is assured to our faith; we love Him Who first loved us, and He with a love above all measure; whilst the prospect before us is glorious beyond all comparison.
The Apostle's phrase “the loins of your mind” renders inexcusable the notion of such fathers as interpreted it of chastity; for this would require another expression of quite distinct form. It seems strange that Calvin should characterize a turn so unintelligent in itself, and unsuitable to the context, as philosophizing refinedly about the loins. It is a wholly baseless importation of prurient ideas, natural perhaps to those who piqued themselves on a fair show in the flesh, which soon betrays its hollowness by falling into all manner of uncleanness. He himself however had no doubt of its quite different meaning, in the disentanglement of the Christian from all hindrance to devotedness.
There is another term which immediately follows, of great practical moment, “being sober.” It is expressly from its form a continuous habit; which is the more emphatic, because the form of the phrase before, with which we have been occupied, implies no less precisely the act done and settled; and such is the force of the hope which immediately follows. They had once for all girt up the loins of their mind; their hope was set with equal decision upon the grace to be brought to them at Christ's appearing. The nature of the case called for and explained these being accomplished facts in their souls. But the sobriety in question calls for unceasing diligence.
For there is much in the gospel and in the truth now fully revealed, which might naturally lead to the utmost enthusiasm. We see how it affected outside observers on the day of the church's birth. All were amazed and in perplexity when they heard Galileans speaking in the various tongues of the Gentiles the great things of God. Some mocking said, They are full of new wine. Apart from the striking phenomenon of grace which was thus ungraciously maligned, how much there is in Christianity if realized to fill the heart and lips to overflowing. Even the eminently wise Paul could say, “whether we are beside ourselves, it is to God; or we are sober, it is for you” (2 Cor. 5:13). Here no doubt it is the kindred thought of discretion that is expressed; but it is at bottom the same truth. Before God and to Him, the heart may rightly go forth in ecstasy; but when we think of men and even the saints, a more guarded feeling is well on our part.
Hence the same apostle exhorts the saints that were in Ephesus to guard against exciting causes. “Be not drunk with wine whereby is dissoluteness, but be filled with the Spirit.” Where He becomes the source and power of all within us, acts outward should be according to God's mind. Our singing even is meant to be so characterized that it may please Him Whom we praise, in no way carried away by sweet sound, but with the spirit and with the understanding also.
Hence then “being sober” is laid on us as a continuous duty. It is a figure naturally drawn, as all admit, from keeping clear of all intoxication, which for the Christian means the avoidance of everything apt to excite the flesh or spirit. Young Thessalonian believers are thus exhorted, “So then let us not sleep as do the rest, but let us watch, and be sober [the same word as here]. For they that sleep, sleep by night, and they that drink, drink by night; but let us, being of the day, be sober, having put on a breastplate of faith and love, and hope of salvation as helmet.” In 1 Peter 4:7 the word, in view of the end of all things having drawn nigh, is “Be of sound mind therefore, and be sober unto prayers.” (So also in 1 Pet. 5:8). Here it is not constant habit that is involved in the form of the phrase, but the soul's attitude due to so solemn a fact. Both appeals have their importance. The call in our 1 Pet. 1:13 is grounded on known redemption as our portion, whilst we journey through a wilderness world, with an expectation worthy of what God has already given us in Christ.
Of this he proceeds to speak in the next words, “hope perfectly for the grace that is to be brought to you at Jesus Christ's revelation.” One cannot doubt that it is the glory about to be revealed unto us, as it is put in the Epistle to