Bible Treasury: Volume N5

Table of Contents

1. 2 Peter 1:17
2. 2 Peter 1:18
3. 2 Peter 1:21
4. The Friend of God
5. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 13. The Covenant With Moses, and That With the Fathers: the Mosaic.
6. Exodus: 3. Israel Made to Serve With Rigor
7. Gospel Words: 101. Your Heavenly Father Knoweth
8. Joseph: 23. Joseph Sends for Jacob and All
9. The Church of God in the Millennial (Sic) and Eternal State.
10. Proverbs 23:1-8
11. Proverbs 24:10-18
12. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 8. Appeal to Conscience. Acts 7:61-53
13. Joseph: 1. Introduction
14. God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts
15. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 1. The Duties of the Sanctuary
16. Proverbs 15:8-17
17. Gospel Words: the Sermon on the Mount as a Whole
18. Either in Adam or in Christ? Part 1
19. 2 Peter: Introduction
20. What Is the Bearing of 1 Peter 4:15-16?
21. Advertisement
22. Joseph: 2. His Early Days
23. God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the Passover and the Unleavened Bread
24. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 2. Blasphemy Judged With Other Evil
25. Proverbs 20:24-30
26. Gospel Words: Alms
27. Either in Adam or in Christ? Part 2
28. Life and Death
29. 2 Peter 1:1
30. Advertisement
31. Scripture Queries and Answers: There Go the Ships; A Gloss, or of God?
32. Advertisement
33. Joseph: 3. And His Brethren
34. God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the Sheaf of Firstfruits
35. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 3. The Land and Jehovah's Earthly Purpose - the Sabbath Year
36. Proverbs 21:1-8
37. Gospel Words: Prayer
38. Brief Meditation on Mark 9
39. Either in Adam or in Christ? Part 3
40. 2 Peter 1:2-3
41. Conscience and Christ
42. Scripture Queries and Answers: Peacock; He Who Runs May Read It
43. Advertisement
44. Joseph: 4. Prospered in Potiphar's House
45. God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the New Meal Offering of Two Wave Loaves
46. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 4. Year of Jubilee
47. Proverbs 21:9-15
48. Gospel Words: Vain Repetitions in Prayer
49. 2 Peter 1:4
50. From Judaism to Christianity
51. Eternal Life
52. Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek Translated
53. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Future Jewish Remnant
54. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Calling and Inheritance in Ephesians and 1 Peter
55. Advertisement
56. Joseph: 5. Suffering for Righteousness
57. God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement
58. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 5. Jubilee the Standard of Value
59. Proverbs 21:16-23
60. Gospel Words: Fasting
61. Man's Hatred and Christ's Love
62. John the Baptist
63. 2 Peter 1:5-7
64. Moses or Manasseh?
65. Joseph: 6. Blessed in the Tower House
66. God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the Feast of Tabernacles
67. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 6. The Right of Redemption
68. Proverbs 21:24-31
69. Gospel Words: the Salt of the Earth
70. Part With Christ (Duplicate)
71. 2 Peter 1:8-9
72. Strangership
73. Scripture Queries and Answers: John 3:35-36
74. Scripture Queries and Answers: Speaking in the Assembly
75. Advertisement by W. Kelly
76. Joseph: 7. With the Dreamers in Prison
77. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 7. The Dwelling House
78. Proverbs 22:1-7
79. Gospel Words: A Forgiving Spirit
80. Thoughts on John 16:27-28
81. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 1
82. Not Sinai, but Zion, With Other Coming Glories Heavenly and Earthly
83. 2 Peter 1:10-11
84. Scripture Queries and Answers: Article Before "Eternal Life"; Head and Chief
85. Advertisement
86. The Chief Cup Bearer's Dream
87. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 8. Poor Brother in Decay
88. Proverbs 22:8-14
89. Gospel Words: the Light of the World
90. God the Father Manifested and Glorified (Duplicate)
91. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 2. The Appeal - Abraham
92. 2 Peter 1:12
93. Christ the Source of Immortality: Review
94. Advertisement by W. Kelly
95. The Chief Baker's Dream and the Issue
96. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 9. Poor Brother Sold
97. Proverbs 22:15-21
98. Gospel Words: the Treasure and the Heart
99. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 3. Joseph and His Patriarchal Brethren
100. 2 Peter 1:13-14
101. Brief Words on Genesis 22:1-14
102. Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch
103. The Rechabites
104. Scripture Queries and Answers: Deity of Christ; Reality of the Mount of Transfiguration Scene; Paradise and Kingdom;
105. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Saints in Revelation 6:9
106. "Chef" or "Head" in the French New Testament
107. Advertisement
108. Joseph: 8. Pharaoh's Dream
109. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 10. Incentives to Obedience in the Land
110. Proverbs 22:22-29
111. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 4. Appeal to Moses Next
112. Life in Resurrection
113. 2 Peter 1:15
114. Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch: Ezra
115. Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch: Ezekiel
116. Advertisement
117. Faults and Forgetfulness Confessed
118. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 11. The Poor Brother Selling Himself
119. Gospel Words: the Birds of the Sky
120. Gospel Words: the Birds of the Sky
121. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 5. Moses in Midian
122. Why Do I Groan? Part 1
123. 2 Peter 1:16
124. Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch: Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Later Prophets
125. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Holy Spirit
126. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Manner of Our Seeing God
127. Mr. Beaumont's Testimony
128. Advertisement
129. Joseph: 9. God's Interpreter
130. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 12. Jubilee Concluded
131. Coronation of Joash
132. Proverbs 23:9-18
133. Gospel Words: the Lilies of the Field
134. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 6. Moses in the Wilderness
135. Why Do I Groan? Part 2
136. Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch: Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Later Prophets
137. Scripture Queries and Answers: Two Great Lights; Man Reduced to Beast; Thy Seed; Recovering of Sight to the Blind
138. Scripture Queries and Answers: Isaiah 7:14
139. Scripture Queries and Answers: What Has He to Offer; Church Presented to the Father at Pentecost
140. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Name Used in Baptism
141. Scripture Queries and Answers: Whosoever in 1 John 3:9; 5:1, 18
142. Heathen Theories
143. Advertisement
144. Joseph: 10. His Counsel and Promotion
145. Proverbs 23:19-28
146. Latter-Day Kings of the Book of Daniel: Part 1
147. Thoughts on John 17
148. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 7. The Tent Exchanged for the Temple
149. Why Do I Groan? Part 3
150. The Pathway of Faith
151. Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch: the Kings and the Prophets
152. Advertisement
153. Joseph: 11. Governor of Egypt
154. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 13. The Penalties of the Violated Covenant
155. Proverbs 23:29-35
156. Latter-Day Kings of the Book of Daniel: Part 2
157. Gospel Words: the Morrow
158. Why Do I Groan? Part 4
159. The Obedience by Faith
160. 2 Peter 1:19
161. Active Neology
162. Historical Sketch of the Brethren
163. Advertisement
164. Joseph: 12. His Brethren Bow Down to Him
165. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 14. Sterner Woes on the People and the Land
166. Proverbs 24:1-9
167. Gospel Words: as Having Authority
168. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 8. The Fury of the Jews and His Sight of Jesus on High
169. 2 Peter 1:20
170. Sent by Whom?
171. The Only Key to Daniel's Prophecies
172. The Monthly Magazine Interpreter
173. Advertisement
174. Joseph: 13. Proves His Brethren
175. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 15. Israel Repents and Jehovah Remembers His Covenant With Their Fathers
176. Behold My Servant: Part 1
177. Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 9. The Christian's Death Under Man's Hatred
178. Strength Through Faith
179. Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch: Ruth and Judges
180. Lights in the World by F.E.R.
181. Perilous Times: Review
182. Scripture Queries and Answers: Preaching Election
183. Scripture Queries and Answers: Acts 20:25
184. Scripture Queries and Answers: John 1
185. Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek in 1 Thessalonians 4:13
186. Scripture Queries and Answers: 1 Corinthians 5
187. Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek Translated
188. Scripture Queries and Answers: Christ as Head
189. Advertisement
190. Published
191. Joseph: 14. His Brethren in Self Reproach
192. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 16. Personal Vows
193. Miriam or Michal?
194. Proverbs 24:19-26
195. Behold My Servant: Part 2
196. The Believer's Place in Christ: Part 1
197. 2 Peter 2:1-3
198. Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch: New Testament
199. Christ's Cry and God's Answer
200. The Spirit's Work (Duplicate)
201. Adam in Harmsworth's Encyclopaedia
202. The Apocrypha Just Now
203. Advertisement
204. Joseph: 15. Jacob Resists the Demand for Benjamin
205. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 17. Beasts or House Devoted
206. Proverbs 24:27-34
207. Behold My Servant: Part 3
208. The Believer's Place in Christ: Part 2
209. Growth Through the Truth
210. 2 Peter 2:4-5
211. Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 5:12
212. Scripture Queries and Answers: Reading Human Writings
213. Scripture Queries and Answers: Meeting at the Beginning of the Day; Set Meetings for Praise, Prayer, Etc.
214. Advertisement
215. Joseph: 16. Jacob Lets Benjamin Go
216. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 18. The Devoted Field Sanctified to Jehovah
217. Proverbs 25:1-7
218. The Rejected Man: Part 1
219. Behold My Servant: Part 4
220. Unto My Name
221. No More Conscience of Sins
222. 2 Peter 2:6-8
223. The Prize of Our High Calling: Part 1
224. Scripture Queries and Answers: Explanation of the Leper
225. Scripture Queries and Answers: Daniel 7-9; Revelation 13, 19
226. Scripture Queries and Answers: Luke 13, 15
227. Joseph: 17. Benjamin With the Rest Meets Him
228. The Closing Types of Leviticus: 19. Concluding Regulations in Leviticus
229. Proverbs 25:8-14
230. The Rejected Man: Part 2
231. Behold My Servant: Part 5
232. Prince of Rosh Gog
233. 2 Peter 2:9-11
234. The Prize of Our High Calling: Part 2
235. The Church of God - Its Members and Unity: Review
236. Scripture Query and Answer: 1 John 5:18
237. Advertisement
238. Joseph: 21. The Crucial Test Applied
239. Exodus: Introduction
240. Proverbs 25:15-20
241. Behold My Servant: Part 6
242. 2 Peter 2:12-16
243. The Prize of Our High Calling: Part 3
244. Scripture Queries and Answers: Matthew 24-25
245. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Lord's Table
246. Scripture Queries and Answers: God's Unspeakable Gift
247. Scripture Queries and Answers: State Characterizing the Child of God
248. Whitefield's Journals
249. Advertisement
250. Joseph: 22. Judah's Plea
251. Exodus: Israel in Egypt
252. Proverbs 25:21-28
253. What Have They Seen in Thy House?
254. The Law Through Moses, Grace and Truth Through Jesus Christ
255. 2 Peter 2:17-20
256. The Christian's Special Privileges and Relationship: Part 1
257. Divine Purposes in Human Suffering
258. The Prize of Our High Calling: Part 4
259. Scripture Queries and Answers: God's Kindness to Us
260. Scripture Queries and Answers: Question on Separation
261. Scripture Queries and Answers: Sect
262. Scripture Queries and Answers: Godhead Poured Out on the Cross a Wrong Application of Scripture
263. Fragment: Service of Christ
264. Advertisement
265. Joseph: 23. Made Known to His Brethren
266. Proverbs 26:1-7
267. Unity and Separation
268. The Christian's Special Privileges and Relationship: Part 2
269. In Christ God and Man Thoroughly Manifested
270. 2 Peter 2:21
271. The Higher Criticism: Part 1
272. JND and Bethesda
273. Exodus: Pharaoh's Malice and God's Blessing
274. Proverbs 26:8-16
275. Man's Judgment of Charity and the Christian's
276. 2 Peter 2:22
277. The Higher Criticism: Part 2
278. Scripture Queries and Answers: Luke 16:9
279. Scripture Queries and Answers: Hades and Paradise
280. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Samaritan Woman
281. Scripture Queries and Answers: Moses in Acts 26:23 and Luke 9:30
282. Scripture Queries and Answers: Acts 2:30
283. Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 6:4
284. Scripture Queries and Answers: 1 Corinthians 5 - Leprosy and Leaven
285. Advertisement
286. Advertisement
287. Published
288. The Accepted Man: Part 1
289. The Accepted Man: Part 2
290. The Accepted Man: Part 3
291. Baptism and the Lord's Supper

2 Peter 1:17

It is to be noticed that angels are not seen on the mount of Transfiguration. Yet we know that, when the day arrives for the establishment of His kingdom, the Son of man will come in the glory of His Father with His holy angels, or, as Luke puts it fully, “in His glory, and of the Father, and of the holy angels.” Here not a word is breathed about them. Men are prominent, two saints in glory of the past that represented the law and the prophets, three of the present “better thing” in their natural bodies. The delights of Divine Wisdom were with the sons of men; the Life was the Light of men, and so when He deigned to enter on His earthly mission and work, He took not hold of angels but of the seed of Abraham, not only for all that the promises to the fathers assured, but for heavenly and eternal counsels.
But there is more that we do well to observe, the unmistakable voice out of the cloud of the Divine Presence, not in thunder but in accents of the tenderest love, and in evident answer to Peter's well-meant but utterly unmeet desire to exalt His Master. The Father alone knows how His Son should be honored; as He indeed loves the Son supremely, and has given all things to be in His hand. Let us too hear the Father.
“For he received (literally, having received) from God the Father honor and glory, when such a voice was borne to him by the magnificent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I found my delight (or, complacency)” (ver. 17).
The Lord Jesus was Man, the Messiah, on the road to the most extreme humiliation, even to the death of the cross, and by none so keenly consigned to it as by His own people, the Jews. Such was the ruinous blindness and the guilty unbelief which pervaded mankind. Hence to encourage His feeble followers in a path of suffering, least of all anticipated by themselves, it suited Him Who is wise and good and righteous to rise above all natural limits which ordinarily prevailed, and to manifest in the most unwonted fashion and impressive way His predestined exaltation in the coming kingdom. This indeed is not even yet come; while Israel abides in hard incredulity, and the church is meanwhile called to its special blessedness in heavenly places. Then, the Jew too shall become object of God's healing mercy, as the Gentile now does, though rapidly abandoning the truth for the crisis at the end of the age like the mass of Jews.
Hence, in view of Christ's sufferings, and His glories to follow in due time, not only in the heavens but on the earth, grace gave to chosen witnesses this extraordinary anticipation on a small scale but with divine depth and power. As He prayed (so Luke tells us, who speaks most of His human perfection), the fashion of His countenance became different, and His very raiment white, effulgently so. And the two men of olden time, so renowned for fidelity to Jehovah and His people, talked with Him, the central Object for saints above or below; they appearing in glory spoke of His departure which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. How full of interest and instruction! One was the promulgator of God's law, the other its restorer and vindicator when Israel apostatized and worshipped Baal. Yet it was of our Lord's death they talked, not of the law. Where was anything comparable to His death? and how ominous, “in Jerusalem”! Thereby alone was God glorified morally as to sin; there Satan forever defeated; there man's sin, and the Jew's was darkest; there grace shown to the uttermost; there the judgment of our sins so borne, that God can only justify the believer in Jesus. What had either Moses or Elijah revealed to them that could fairly be put alongside of these truths? Yet they are the common faith of Christians, the faith once delivered to the saints.
Peter who was there does not say a word about His wondrous converse; and Luke who was not there is the only one to record it. Nor was Paul at that time anything but a Hebrew of Hebrews, as to law a Pharisee, ignorant of Christ after the flesh, knowing Him only as dead, risen and ascended to heaven, and in no way cognizant of the days of His flesh. What it proves is God's design and power and will as to inspiration; who gave to each writer what consisted with His purpose by each. Here the apostle, having before him the power and coming of our Lord Jesus, testifies the honor and glory He received from God the Father, when initiated into that mystery which transcended all the secret mysteries of the heathen; as much as the Father and the Son in truth and love transcended their wretched divinities, morally contemptible on their own showing, whether in their fables or in moral effect on their votaries. But it was in view of the coming kingdom and Christ's revelation to introduce it, with which this and the former epistle teem.
Peter does however speak here of “such a voice being borne (or uttered) to him by the magnificent glory: This is my beloved Son in whom I found my delight.” Soon, soon, would be proved by His departure in Jerusalem, that the city over which He wept saw in Him no form nor comeliness that it should at all desire; yea, hid as it were its face from Him, as an aversion of men and as smitten of God and afflicted. But here is attested by the voice out of the glory, This is my beloved Son in whom I found My delight. So it had been in eternity before creation; so it was when the world was made by Him, and in all the dealings of providence, in the secret working of grace with individuals, and in the public government of Israel under the law. So still more when the incarnate Word presented that object of His everlasting complacency as man on earth in unwavering dependence and obedience on His way to death for His glory, for man's salvation, for the church's blessedness, for His people's deliverance, and for the reconciliation of all things.
But Peter here too omits, what all three Synoptics tell us, the “hear Him” so important for their purposes, but not for God's task assigned to himself. Christ had lost nothing of His eternal glory by His extreme humiliation even to the cross. On the contrary, as He had thus glorified God both as Father and as God, so He was the object for God the Father to glorify; and here in view of His coming kingdom, incomparably more glorious in itself and in Him who would display its full character and power than ever Rabbi had conceived. Their aspirations and anticipations were as short of it as of Himself, the true Messiah and the beloved Son of God.

2 Peter 1:18

As the apostle once more recurs to the Father's voice, let us follow him also.
“And this voice we heard uttered (or, brought) out of heaven, being with him on the holy mountain” (ver. 18).
The three apostles were truly eye-witnesses of the Lord's majesty, all the more wondrous because it was His power and coming for a brief view in the midst of His humiliation in grace for God's glory. Every part of the scene before their eyes was a magnificent testimony to the future kingdom of the Son of man beheld on a small scale, before the Lord come to establish it in its visible grandeur and its appointed season before the universe. But the emphasis is manifestly laid on “this voice we heard,” borne out of heaven as it was, when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
Already had the Father's voice been heard in terms identical with these now recorded, save the pregnant construction of εἰς ὃν for ἐν ᾦ in the Gospel which makes no difference in translating. But none as far as we know, heard the first time but the Lord Himself and the Baptist, though the Lord adduced it as one of the four testimonies to His personal glory which proved the Jews to be thoroughly unbelieving: John the Baptist His predicted herald; then the greater witness which the Father gave Him to complete; next, the Father that sent Him had Himself borne witness concerning Him by His voice; and lastly the scriptures, to which He assigned a very great place (John 5). But man's will can resist any and all, as the Jews then verified to their ruin, and will another day and in another form, as He then warned them.
The occasion too was quite different. For the grace of the Lord Jesus led Him to take His place with the feeble remnant of the Jews who obeyed John's call to repentance, and came to the Jordan to be baptized as they did. Holy, guileless, undefiled, He associated Himself with those who had nothing but sins; yet as they confessed them, the first mark of awakened conscience bowing to God's call, He would not stand aloof though He had not the least evil to confess. It was the perfection of man's position in lowly active love; and so He, the Righteous One, corrected John's reluctance in the gracious words, Thus it becometh us (you and Me) to fulfill all righteousness. “And Jesus being baptized went up straightway from the water; and, behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him; and, behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The heavens opened to Him, the Holy Ghost's descent as a dove on Him, the Father's voice expressing His delight summed up there and then, bore witness to the divine delight in Him and never so much as in that act of humiliation in grace.
Yet at the mount of Transfiguration the immediate occasion of the voice again heard, and by the chosen witnesses, was Peter's own attempt to honor His master in the highest way he could then suggest. But to put Him on a level with the chiefs of the law and the prophets would not suit the Father. “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.” And the terrified disciples fell upon their faces; but lifted up at the touch and the comforting words of their Master, they saw no one but Jesus, alone with themselves. He was to be heard, He paramountly, He the truth. Others at best wore His forerunners.
As noticed already, Peter here was not led to recall this last part of the utterance given in all the synoptic Gospels. His aim was to concentrate attention on Jesus as the center of divine affection and glory; theirs was also to attest Him as the complete fullness and revealer of all the truth. Matthew gives the Father's voice undiminished: as his province was to show the full consequence of the rejected Messiah, His larger glory as Son of man, and higher still as the beloved Son of God, the Rock on which the church was to be built. Mark and Luke omit here the expression of God's complacency in Him, so as to throw stress on hearing Him, the former as the Servant Son in the gospel; the latter as God's Son, yet fully man. Our apostle omits the clause they carefully record, not because he could or would forget it, but to make the more prominent the good pleasure the Father had in Him, His beloved Son.

2 Peter 1:21

The last verse of our chapter gives the reason why no prophecy of Scripture can be limited to its own isolated solution, but forms part of a vast circle of divine predictions centering in Christ and His kingdom.
“For no prophecy was ever brought by will of man, but [holy] men spoke from God, moved (or, borne along) by [the] Holy Spirit” (ver. 21).
It is not surprising that those who are only conversant with man, his thoughts, sayings and doings, believe not in prophecy any more than miracle, and despise grace and truth. For all these are of God, and utterly impossible save by His power: grace and truth are only in and through our Lord Jesus. If we now turn our attention to prophecy, consider how Isaiah the prophet was led to triumph over heathen prognosticators and idolatrous stargazers, as Moses did over the magicians of Egypt, and Elijah over the priests of Baal.
“Produce your cause,” we read in Isa. 41:21 &c., “saith Jehovah, bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob; let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things what they [be] that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye [are] gods; yea, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye [are] of nothing and your work of naught: an abomination [is he that] chooseth you. I have raised one up from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name; and he shall come upon princes as [upon] mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay. Who hath declared from the beginning that we may know? and before time, that we may say, [He is] righteous? Yea, [there is] none that showeth; yea,[there] is none that declareth; yea, [there is] none that heareth your words.”
Here the challenge was beyond any votary of a false god to take up, though the demand was small compared with prophecy of scripture. It was beyond man's will to speak even in an isolated way of a future person or event. But those given by God's will are each part of an immense web which He has woven, on which is indelibly traced His purpose of glorifying Him who gave up the glory proper to Him as divine, that He might become man and by His death and resurrection conciliate the most jarring principles and join the most opposed persons. He will take away all the sins and iniquities of believers; He will establish righteousness, peace and joy over all the earth where self and will wrought only evil and mischief. He has defeated and will defeat the subtle and mighty adversary and all his host. He wins back the weak rebels (deceived to set God at defiance) into repentance, meekness and humility, rejoicing to be the ready servants of His will; and God deigns to make them His children, and His sons, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. They enjoy even here and now fellowship with the Father and the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, in this working on life in Christ; and they reign with Him when He reigns before the world, as forever before God.
Nor is it only that the reconciliation is what we receive now; but it will embrace the heavens defiled by the enemy's evil, and the earth where he, through man's servitude, set himself up as prince and the god of the world. Through Christ's death on the cross all things shall be reconciled unto God, whether the things on the earth or in the heavens; not those who live and die despising alike the unseen God and His Son who stooped so low and suffered infinitely for sin that God might be able to say righteously to the worst, Be reconciled to God. And as He will have the risen saints above with Christ, and give His children their special joy in the Father's house, so too to share Christ's glory before the universe. Nor shall anything fail of His magnificent plans for the earth, when Israel shall be delivered from his stiffneckedness, and adore the crucified Messiah, and rise out of all abasement to be God's son, His firstborn nationally upon the earth; and all the nations shall abandon their shameless idolatries, and willingly own the long guilty people to be the seed Jehovah has blessed. “And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister to thee; and the nation and kingdom that will not serve Zion shall perish,” when Messiah reigns, and Israel are under the new covenant.
To all this the will of man is adverse; but were it ever so zealous to help, who is sufficient but God to take in a range so vast, deep and high? Hence the only possible power is that of the Holy Spirit; and God has deigned, in His great love of man's blessing, to tell us beforehand of those coming glories of Christ, as through men He also predicted His sufferings. It was a competency so entirely conferred by God's grace, that now to pave the way for the apostasy Satan has raised up a new school of men in all the world's seats of learning, and very largely among the clerical and ministerial ranks, who agree in nothing so much as that true prophecy is impossible. They thus bear on their forehead and hands the stain of infidelity, and spend their activities in propagating their lie about a large part of both Testaments as God's truth.
Yet the fact is that direct, formal and avowed prophecies abound in scripture, positive and definite, some of the largest and loftiest character, and others minute to a degree that none could expect who is not familiar with the most condescending tenderness in God. But also the narrative of persons and facts from the first book of the O.T. has a deep scope of prophecy below its surface. The same principle applies to His instructions for His earthly people which none but the unspiritual fail to see running through not Genesis only but Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and in a less degree Deuteronomy, and really scripture in general which is not open prediction. Who but God was sufficient for these things? Truly when we accept and understand as well as believe that no prophecy was ever brought by will of man, but men spoke from God moved by the Holy Spirit, we can but say, How gracious of God! how needed by us!

The Friend of God

James 2:23.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten of whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called, accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb. 11:17-19). The presence of sin in this world shows itself in its results and effects of dishonor to God, and of sorrow and toil for man all his days, with death at the end to be followed by judgment afterward. But it has given God occasion to reveal Himself in grace in the person of His beloved Son, not only with a view to the final restoring of all things by Jesus Christ now hidden in the heavens of which God has spoken by the prophets from the beginning, but also that the fruit of the Spirit and of faith might be fully developed in those who were once sinners, saved by grace and standing in righteousness of faith, approved of God in Christ. It is indeed wonderful that, after all man's sad history set before us in Old Testament scripture and now closed up at the cross, the righteousness which is of God by faith of Jesus Christ should be unto all (in presentation) while effective upon all them that believe. But God delights to conduct the believing soul, now accepted of Him, to far greater spiritual elevation than any to which unfallen man could ever have been advanced, and develops in him fruits of such excellence as would have been impossible in a world in which everything answered to the will of its Creator. It is good to notice then that righteousness which is of faith, and essential for subsistence before God, is first revealed in Gen. 15:6 in connection with the earliest and most elementary exercise of the principle of faith in the beginning of Abraham's pathway, while the apostle Paul in writing to the Romans and Galatians carefully maintains the same connection (Rom. 4:3, Gal. 3:6).
But James pleads with equal necessity as to the saints, and with equal wisdom as an inspired teacher, for the principle of justification by works, and refers to the latter and more fully matured example of faith quoted above, justifying his title of the “Friend of God,” referring indeed to the righteousness of faith as an already revealed principle. “And the scripture was fulfilled” (James 2:23). The title must have had its origin in connection with Gen. 22 and not Gen. 15. Had it been otherwise what confusion there would have been for our souls? The earlier scripture shows us our God can accept and justify a sinner that believes. The latter shows us what God can make of a justified man under His own special training. The great central doctrine of Paul's gospel has for its foundation in fact before God the death and resurrection of Christ, “delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification.”
Gen. 22 sets before us in a figurative way the only-begotten Son of the Father in the full enjoyment of the Father's love, in the world the place of man's responsibility, and in His devoted obedience to the Father going far beyond all that could possibly have been required of man as such merely. He became obedient unto death. Righteousness, obedience, His love to the Father and His love to us, took Him into the very place where sin had brought us. Then came the intervention of divine power. He “was raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father” for the perfect display of righteousness in His present exalted position on the Father's throne. These blessed truths are (of necessity) but imperfectly shadowed forth in the type. Instead of the glorious ascent from the lowest parts of the earth to the Father's throne, there is angelic interposition that the hand of Abraham might be stayed, and what would otherwise have been an unfinished sacrifice, completed and accepted by that which God Himself had provided.
Instead of the revelation of accomplished righteousness in which every believer stands accepted, there Was the oath of God pointing Abraham still onward to Him who should be received (not in figure but actually) from the dead, in life, and glory, and blessing. Without doubt God had His own delight in all this. The thoughts of God were concerning His own beloved One: the divine counsels and plans could only be fully accomplished by one who could say, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” But there is another side to this: it was in God's heart to bring blessing to man by the very One in whom He Himself shall be glorified. Just as Abraham was required to surrender Isaac through whom alone the promises already received could be made good; so would the godly in Israel when the Lord Jesus actually came to them have to give up an earthly Messiah that they might receive a heavenly Christ and for the time abandon all hope of earthly blessing and glory in display here, receiving instead the Holy Ghost who should bring heavenly things to their knowledge and communicate to their hearts all that concerned Christ risen and exalted in the heavens. It was not until the Spirit came that they were at all able to appreciate this change from earthly things to heavenly and from a Christ living and walking amongst them to Christ glorified and known only by faith. Hence the insistence upon this by the Spirit in this Epistle to the Hebrews, and especially in chap. 11.
The twelve apostles seemed to enter more readily into the spirit of their Master's teaching when they were first in His company, than at the close of His ministry when dullness and incapacity to understand characterized them. They were disinclined too; the cross and the separation which death would bring were most unwelcome to them. Compare John 1 with its rapturous confessions of faith in Him. “We have found Him” etc. with chapters 13-21. “Show us the Father.” “How, is it that thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us and not unto the world?” “Why cannot I follow Thee now,” etc. Abraham had honored God before by faith and obedience, he had been for a long time a fruit-bearing plant. But now as the result of the skilful pruning and purging of the divine husbandman (John 15:2), fruit of such exceeding excellence had been produced that God was glorified and man could be blessed.
The good olive tree (Rom. 11:24) was here seen at its best in its “fatness wherewith by me they honor God and man” Precious in itself as an example of faith, it was most applicable to the Hebrew saints partakers of a heavenly calling, and accentuates the contrast between the Jewish and Christian positions. The former is limited to earth; the latter connected with a Christ seen by faith in heaven itself, crowned with glory and honor; so that Isaac passes into the heavenly position typically to whom the Servant conducts the Bride chosen of the Father. G. S. B.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 13. The Covenant With Moses, and That With the Fathers: the Mosaic.

Lev. 26:1-13.
Chapters 26 and 27 wind up the book as an appendix: the first on the obligations which bound all the people of Israel; the second on the vows of the individual.
Chap. 26 opens with the prohibition of image worship, and with the reverence due to the sabbath and the sanctuary of Jehovah, the pillars of the law; the very evils to which man was most prone (vers. 1, 2). This is followed by His blessings on their obedience (vers. 3-13).
“Ye shall make yourselves no idols, nor rear yourselves carved image or statue, nor shall ye set up a figured stone in your land, to bow down unto it; for I [am] Jehovah your God. Ye shall observe my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I [am] Jehovah. If ye walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit; and your treading out (or, threshing) shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing-time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land securely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make [you] afraid: and I will put away the evil beasts out of the land; and the sword shall not go through your land. And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword; and five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. And I will turn my face toward you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. And ye shall eat old store and clear off the old because of the new. And I will set my habitation among you; and my soul shall not abhor you; and I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I [am] Jehovah your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you walk upright” (vers. 1-13).
The sons of Israel of all men had the least excuse for idolatry. Those who heard His voice out of the midst of fire, and besought a mediator lest they should perish, saw no similitude, and heard Him denounce the heathen device of representing Him by any likeness of the creature in heaven above, or on earth beneath, or in the waters that sink below it. He could not be true God if He tolerated bowing down to another god. Real service must be His exclusively; yet Aaron's deplorable weakness here betrayed itself at the beginning of their history, and Solomon's even worse in its zenith. There too lay the continual warfare of His true prophets with the false who misled kings and priests and people, till there was no remedy; and He who loved them had to say, “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it. And it shall be no [more], until he come whose right it is; and I will give it [him]” (Ezek. 21:27).
But there was another thing hateful in His eyes, where they set up no strange god. Nor is anyone more explicit in denouncing their profane irreverence and shameless hypocrisy than Malachi, the last of the post-captivity prophets. We know from his contemporary Nehemiah how His sabbaths were then profaned, and His sanctuary set at naught. The sabbath had a special place in the decalogue as flowing simply from divine authority, prescriptive and not in the same sense moral as the other nine commandments. It was instituted as a sign of creation and a pledge of God's rest; and God imposed it in His law for Israel, the measure of man's responsibility, as a sign to them as His people. A new day, the first day of the week, is the day of Christ's resurrection, the Lord's day for the Christian, as the day of the new creation in Him, and of sovereign grace to us who now believe for heavenly glory as His body and bride. The sabbath is in no way abrogated or changed or spiritualized, but must be fulfilled in all its own blessedness for man on earth, and for Israel God's firstborn among all nations, when idols vanish forever, and the sanctuary of Jehovah shall never be profaned more.
The conditional blessings are for Israel obedient to their God, Jehovah, and earthly, however rich; they are not those characteristic of the Christian, whatever special pleaders argue. If Israel walk in His statutes submissively, rain is assured in due season, the earth will yield its produce, and trees their fruit; the threshing reaches to the vintage, and it to the sowing time. Bread to the full should be theirs, instead of selling it for their other wants, and safety within their dwellings. Nay more, neither evil beasts, nor hostile sword should alarm. “I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall terrify.” “And ye shall chase your foes, and they shall fall before you by the sword,” five chasing a hundred, and a hundred putting ten thousand to flight. “And I will turn my face toward you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.” The old store will abound beyond their eating and need clearing away because of the new. And, better still, “I will set my habitation among you, and my soul shall not abhor you; and I will walk among you and be your God, and ye shall be my people.” As He began, so would He continue: “I [am] Jehovah your God, who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondman, and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you walk upright.”

Exodus: 3. Israel Made to Serve With Rigor

Exod. 1:8-14
So rapid an increase in the population of Israel did not fail to arouse the attention and the fears of the Egyptians, when the memory of Joseph and of his services had passed away.
“And there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. And he said to his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel [are] more numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass that, if war occur, they take side also with our enemies and fight against us, and go up out of the land. And they set over them task-masters to oppress them with their burdens. And they built store-cities for Pharaoh, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and spread; and they were distressed because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor; and they embittered their life with hard labor in clay and bricks, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service with which they made them serve [was] with rigor.” (verses 8-14).
The wisdom of the world overreaches and defeats itself. It was bad policy for the Egyptians to live in idleness and luxury, and to leave their works of hard toil and skill as an oppressive burden on their servants. It was a good apprenticeship for those who were to be mighty as well as populous, and to possess the gate of their enemies. In any case the righteous Lord loves righteousness, and is indifferent to injustice nowhere, least of all when done to the family of “the friend of God.” None shall prosper who are unfair or cruel to his seed. “I will bless them that bless thee,” said Jehovah to Abram, “and curse him that curseth thee.”
In the present case it was a breach of the friendly understanding which set Israel and his sons in Goshen. There had never been hostility. The sons of Israel were in no way prisoners of war or captives in any way. They had given no reason for suspicion of seeking dominion over Egypt. They had never abandoned the hope of returning to Canaan as their land of promise. The burial of Jacob proclaimed this loudly; the unburied coffin of Joseph, still more loudly. Yet did the king who knew not Joseph dread the increasing number and strength of a people which served now as if due for a long while. Nor this only. Come, said he, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass that, if war occur, they take side also with our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land. Was this in any degree just? And is an unjust policy “wise” in the long run, or in itself justifiable?
No doubt it is so that the kingdoms of the world have ever acted. God is not in their thoughts, even if He be on the lips of any. Selfishness reigns publicly as it governs individually. So it was increasingly when kings ruled over Israel and Judah with a slight exception. So it was when Babylon followed and the other world-kingdoms of Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome: So it will not be when He comes whose right it is beyond every other ruler. But before that King reigns in righteousness and princes rule in judgment, a dark page of prophecy must be fulfilled not in blood only but in burning fuel for fire, and such overturning of things above and below as the world has never known. Out of that hurly-burly Israel shall emerge as Jehovah's people, His Son reigning in Zion, and they shall dwell in the land that He gave to His servant Jacob, when He shall have executed judgments on all those that despised or spoiled them near and far off, and they all shall know that He is Jehovah their God.
Meanwhile man's will had its way; as Israel built store-cities for Pharaoh, Pithom, and Raamses (or Rameses). But God's providence acted also; for the more the Egyptians afflicted the Israelites, the more these multiplied and spread. Therefore were their masters vexed with fear and horror, and hardship was added to their bondage. The Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor; or as is so graphically described in the text, “they embittered their life with hard labor in clay and bricks, and in all their manner of labor in the field: all their labor with which they made them serve was with rigor.” It was quite different from the conditions of slavery once in the West Indies, and later still in the Southern States of America, where such malice was the exception, yet with a race never in honor but degraded grievously. But the face of Jehovah is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth, even in a day when the moral foundations are out of course. His eyes are upon the righteous, and His ears unto their cry. But the furnace became hotter still, and the divine intervention took a more definite and impressive shape.

Gospel Words: 101. Your Heavenly Father Knoweth

Matt. 6:31, 32
How wholesome, direct, and complete is the Lord's rebuke of earthly care!
“Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat, or What shall we drink, or With what should we be clad? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (vers. 31, 32).
As the Lord began, so He closed, His charge to the saints against anxiety in the earthly life. He purposely presents the homely commonplace of daily fare and clothing. The birds of the sky He adduces as the witness of bounteous provision without solicitude, and the unequaled splendor of the lilies of the field, as a rebuke to troubled efforts after vain show. The sentiment and the phrase of vers. 26 and 31 are substantially alike; but in the latter He exchanges “ye” and “your” into the more tender and family expression “we.” Each is as it should be, and both make His word only the more touching as well as complete.
The poor as to the world are habitually burdened and distressed on both accounts in their daily and domestic life. But the noblest and the richest spend much time and thought on their food and attire; and the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, have their mortifications among the highest. And if, as things are, the majority of Christians are too much like others, it only confirms the wisdom and goodness of the Lord in deigning to say so much to elevate the motives and form the ways of His own according to the mind of God.
Yet there are a few here and there all over the earth who hear His words in this discourse as elsewhere, and seek to do them from the heart. Nor do they fail to find their blessed account in pleasing Him, apart from the world and its things, with happy deliverance from all its anxieties and selfishness. Is not this what the Lord here enjoins on all that bear His name? Do these lay His will to heart when temptation arises to settle down in earthly comfort if not luxury and show? Is this consistent with being pilgrims and strangers on the earth awaiting glory on high with Him?
No doubt it is what men of the world do, who mock at faithful stewardship as fanaticism, and ignore being not their own but bought with a price to glorify Him with their bodies. If not their lips, their life says, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die; yet their constant study is to spin out their mortal life, with no real heart for the resurrection, no habitual joy nor practical value for Christ as their life. Is it not to “mind earthly things,” and to forget day by day that “our commonwealth is in the heavens, whence also we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory according to the working of power which He hath even to subdue all things to Himself?” “For” as He says, “after all these things the Gentiles seek:” the contrast He seeks in His disciples. O let us too seek it in our ways for the little while, and thus help to impress it on such as wish to make the best of both worlds, a shameless motive and character for those who are Christ's.
Are we then left without consolation or resource? Far from it. The Lord winds up with blessed cheer to such as seek to be faithful; “For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” And is it not the Father's pleasure to consider every need of every child? Who can pretend that He does not abound in all good things? or that He would not have us to confide in Him, not in ourselves? Be it yours to abjure self, and “cast all your care upon Him, for He careth about you.

Joseph: 23. Joseph Sends for Jacob and All

Gen. 45:16-28
THUS was Joseph led tenderly to care for his father and his brethren, as he was enabled to administer for the relief of Egypt and its surrounding peoples, that the exceeding and long plenty should not be wasted but turned to provide against the distress of the equally long famine which followed. Thus those who heard the word of God could see the hand of God accomplishing what the divinely-sent dreams portended of the ruling place which Joseph was to fill, and this not only in patriarchal limits but far beyond, while accomplishing God's ways with His choice line as made known to Abram in Gen. 15 “And the report [or, voice] thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying Joseph's brethren are come; and it was good in. Pharaoh's eyes and in the eyes of his bondmen. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, say to thy brethren, Do this: load your beasts and depart; go into the land of Canaan, and take your father and your households, and come to me; and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. And thou art commanded—this do: take waggons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and fetch your father and come. And let not your eye regret your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt [is] yours. And the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them waggons according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way. To each one of them all he gave changes of raiment, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred [shekels] of silver and five changes of raiment. And to his father he sent this: ten asses carrying the good things of Egypt, and ten she-asses carrying corn and bread and food for his father by the way. So he sent his brethren away, and they departed ; and he said to them, See that. ye fall not out by the way. And they went up out of Egypt and came into the land of Canaan to Jacob their father. And they told him, saying, Joseph [is] yet alive, and he [is] governor over all the land of Egypt. And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had spoken to them; and when he saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. And Israel said, [It is] enough; Joseph my son [is] yet alive: I will go and see him before I die” (vers. 16-28). No circumstances could be devised by man's wit so favourable for the entrance of Jacob and his sons into Egypt; and none could be conceived more simple than the plain facts of the case, to give Joseph the administration of the land, attaching to him alike the king and his subjects. If they did not surpass fable, they were true; and they bear thus the clear impress of God's ordering, as they prefigure that which the prophets pledge in Jehovah's name of what a greater than Joseph was exalted to do when rejected by His brethren to sit on God's right hand in richer supplies to a famished world, and about to make Himself known “the second time” to His brethren with broken hearts and deep repentance, entering for the first time their real and unchanging history of obedience, when all the nations shall indeed be blessed in the one Seed, which is Christ as the apostle speaks in Gal. 3:16.
Even in the world that now is, how rare to find a king and his servants united through respect for an alien governor to yield a hearty and harmonious welcome to his alien fathers and brethren! And Egypt had its strong prejudices then as it is known to have had for ages afterwards; and to none could it be so strongly opposed as to those who confessed God (unknown to them), who denied their gods, with that exclusiveness which ever must be where divine truth is consciously professed. So it was with the believers of Israel; and so it is with the faithful Christian. Neutrality in God's things condemns itself as false and evil to such as know Him.
Here at any rate they had special reasons showing no doubt that the Egyptians, king or people, could not deny how warm a reception was proffered to all the kin of Israel for Joseph's sake. The very waggons suggested by the king and left for Joseph to supply played their part in assuring the father to credit the tale, which made his heart fail at first, that Joseph still lived. “The Jews ask for signs;” and there it was in the means of going down into Egypt which his sons could not have provided, as indeed in much more which his loving and bountiful son gave for the whole of them, Benjamin in particular, and his father yet more.
But we can recognize words, so characteristic of Joseph and so suitable to his piety, which scarce one but he would have thought of at such a moment of excited wonder and self-judgment. “See that ye fall not out by the way” is the last thing for a forger to invent, the expression of godliness and affection in perfect keeping with him who uttered the words.

The Church of God in the Millennial (Sic) and Eternal State.

This is another of the attempts at a Blackburn booklet. The writer ought to be silent, knowing nothing as he ought and having all to learn beyond the elements. He confounds “the man of sin, the willful King of the land,” not only with the imperial Beast or apostate Roman empire that is to be, his ally, but with the king of the north, the antagonist of both! Compare his pages 5 and 6. Such confusion is unworthy of the first form in the school of prophecy. Nevertheless it reflects their chief.
But even one so crude as Mr. M. is not so unprincipled as to count all Christians gathered unto the Lord's name (p. 9); he owns it as the real living distinction of those subject to Him and His word. In p. 10 he confounds the countless crowd of Gentiles who come out of the great tribulation in Rev. 7 with the heavenly saints (including the church), distinguished from them in that very scene as the twenty-four elders, which in p. 15 he does not deny to express the royal priesthood. See also pp. 16, 17. He raises the question as to “the guests” in Rev. 19, but has no answer save the childish tradition of Christendom that all saints are the church or bride of the Lamb. But this is confusion worse confounded. For to say nothing of the O. T. saints who best correspond with those invited to the heavenly bridals, the marriage is consummated above before the Lord destroys His enemies, and Satan is bound, and the Apocalyptic martyrs are raised, and the millennial reign ensues; wherein will be a harvest of saints on the earth whom it is sheer folly to call the church or part of it.
It is equally so to count Rev. 4-6 “a forecast of millennial rule”? It is really to show the heavenly saints (after the church-state here below closes in Rev. 2; 3) around God's throne before the preparatory judgments, the great tribulation, with the Beast, and the False Prophet, and other wicked agents at the end of the age. How can people overlook that, when the prefatory vision is fulfilled, out of the throne proceed lightnings and voices and thunders? Now this is as different from “the throne of grace” which we now know, as it is from the millennial day when a river of life bright as crystal proceeds out of the throne of God and the Lamb Who can fail to recognize that the day of grace, the brief interval of judicial dealings when we are caught up, and the era of the glorious kingdom, are thus discriminated? But all beyond the prophetic alphabet is a muddle here. Rev. 4-6 in no way indicates the form of rule, as he says, during the thousand years, but an interval after the rapture of those symbolized by the twenty-four elders, before the millennium begins.
As little does the writer understand the unities of John 17 “All mine are thine, and thine are mine,” are things, not persons. The first unity in ver. 11 was for those around Him in respect of their unique work. Again, the “all one,” in 21 were (from ver. 20) demonstrably prospective, but only up to the Lord's coming (not subsequently), as pointedly distinguished from the unity of glory in vers. 22, 23, when the world will (not believe but) “know” that the Father sent the Son and loved the then glorified saints as He loved Christ. For they are manifested in glory with Him. It is the Newtonian scheme which involves this tract in utter darkness, and hinders its writer from seizing the truth which he vainly opposes with no small self-complacency.
Needless to say that to Mr. Darby belong his Collected Writings, of which I was simply Editor, not author, as he strangely seems to think. What he cites thence is as sound, as his objection is futile. Till I read p. 20, I had no notion that A. Pridham had departed so far from the truth he once seemed to hold. O these days of declension! How long too they have been in progress! For his volumes on the Scriptures were widely circulated and much cried up by the company he joined some years before his death. Did they know no better than such earthly views? What sufficient proof has even been given that the judaizing root of error has ever been thoroughly extirpated?

Proverbs 23:1-8

Here we have the cautions of wisdom against self-gratification and seeking the riches which furnish its means.
“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider well who is before thee, and put a knife to thy throat, if thou [be] a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties; for they [are] deceitful food.
Weary not thyself to become rich; cease from thine own intelligence. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon what is not? For indeed it maketh itself wings, and it flieth away, as an eagle toward the heavens.
Eat thou not the meat of [him that hath] an evil eye, nor desire his dainties. For as he thinketh in his soul, so [is] he. Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart [is] not with thee. The morsel thou hast eaten thou shalt vomit up, and waste thy sweet words” (vers. 1-8).
In Luke 16 our Lord depicts the easy-going gentleman, not an infidel but orthodox, who lived to indulge himself, clothed in purple and fine linen, and making good cheer in splendor every day. But, dead and buried, in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, the immediate consequence of living to self and not to God. But here it is rather the danger to one not used to luxury; and he is told to consider what, or who, is before him, and to put a knife to his throat rather than yield to self-indulgence. “Give us this day our sufficient (or necessary) bread” as the Lord told His disciples to pray. Dainties are deceitful food even for a Jew, how much more for a Christian!
If possible, more insidious and absorbing is the danger of seeking and setting the mind on being rich. Here it is not the mere appetite one has to guard against, but to cease from one's own understanding, so apt to find good reasons for an evil and selfish thing. The apostle declares that those who desire to be rich, even if they avoid by-paths to it, fall into temptation and snare, and many unwise and hurtful lusts which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of every evil; after which some having aspired have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Hence it is their uncertainty, as well as our own self-confidence, that is graphically described. Our wisdom is to set our mind on the eternal weight of glory where Christ is, and to look not on the things that are seen; for how transitory these are, while the unseen are eternal. Wealth, says the wise man, does indeed make itself wings and fly away as the eagle to the skies.
There appears to be a link of connection between the counsel in ver. 6, not to eat the bread of one that has an evil eye, with setting the mind upon what is not in a covetous way as in ver. 5. And this tends to bind up ver. 4 both with what precedes and with what follows. For the desire of money is far less commonly for its own sake than in order to enjoy with more ease the things of the world and of human life. And the table forms no small part of these in general. But the point here pressed is to beware of accepting the hospitality of the insincere, who really begrudges the guest what he eats or drinks, while with his lips urging him to partake freely of his store. Far otherwise is such a host as he thinks in his soul. He says to thee, Eat and drink; but his heart is not with thee. The prophet Isaiah, looking to the King's reign in righteousness, lets us know that so it will not be in that future day of bliss for the earth. The vile person or fool, like Nabal, shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl or crafty be said to be bountiful. The wicked now strive to appear what they are not, and not to manifest what they are. For at heart men are ashamed of what they know themselves to be.
Can any discovery among professed friends be more sickening than to find, that one's welcome was a vain show, after being taken in by it? This is here represented energetically in ver. 8. The morsel thou hast eaten thou shalt vomit up, and thou shalt waste thy sweet words: that is, the thanks you expressed, when you thought his invitations were as cordial as kind. From ordinary life up to the most solemn acts of reverent faith and love, to eat and drink together is regarded as an act of hearts united. So much the more painful when one finds it wholly insincere.

Proverbs 24:10-18

Courage is tested in the day of trouble which gives the occasion to show its worth. But it shines better in delivering those who are in it; and this with integrity before Him who sees, to whom each owes his preservation and who takes account of man according to his work. He would have one to enjoy the good He gives, but consider wisdom and the issue. A wicked man is warned against lying in wait against the righteous man, who if he fall will surely rise, whilst his enemy stumbles into ruin. Nor does it become one to rejoice at the fall even of an adversary; lest Jehovah see it, and not for nothing.
“[If] thou losest courage in the day of trouble, thy strength [is] small.
Deliver those taken forth to death, and withdraw not from them that stagger to slaughter.
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not, will not he that weigheth the hearts consider it?
And he that preserveth thy soul, he knoweth [it]; and he rendereth to man according to his work.
Eat honey, my son, for [:it is] good; and a honeycomb [is] sweet to thy taste,
So consider wisdom for thy soul; if thou hast found [it], there shall be a result, and thine expectation shall not be cut off.
Lay not wait, wicked [man], against the dwelling of the righteous; lay not waste his resting-place.
For a righteous one falleth seven times, and riseth up again; but the wicked stumble into disaster.
Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thy heart be glad when he stumbleth;
Lest Jehovah see [it], and it be evil in his sight, and he turn away his anger from him” (vers. 10-18).
A day of trouble naturally alarms and bewilders one who has not faith and hope in God. Even the believer, distressed after the word of Christ emboldened him to join his Master on the sea, “when he saw the wind boisterous” was afraid and began to sink. Had he looked off to Jesus, his strength had been great; for there only it lay. Little faith is little strength. Jesus is the same to us whatever the sea or the wind; and Peter apart from looking to Jesus would have sunk equally on the smoothest sea without a puff of wind.
To use strength for ourselves has no worth; but to deliver those that are in peril of death unjustly, from whatever source public or private, becomes a righteous soul. It is a duty independent of either friendship or neighborly claim. The Samaritan was the Lord's answer to the lawyer's question, Who is my neighbor? Without the least thought of justifying himself, he becomes neighbor to the sufferer who needed his help.
In vain did the priest and the Levite say of the man lying half-dead on the opposite side of the road, We knew it not: Jehovah considered it.
The conviction that He preserves one's soul brings His knowledge of all before the heart, as we may believe it moved the Samaritan to mercy, besides the certainty that He renders to man according to his work.
Honey is a good thing naturally where God made all things good, nor did He begrudge the honeycomb sweet to the taste in a land flowing with milk and honey. He had pleasure in providing good things freely for man, though He knew man would abuse them all.
But what is wisdom to thy soul? The communications of Jehovah are sweeter still, says Ps. 19, If thou hast so found it, “there shall be a result, and thine expectation shall not be cut off.” He that does the will of God abides forever.
The next is a warning to a wicked man to beware of craft or violence against the house of the righteous. Does not Jehovah see?
It is true that the righteous may fall ever so often— “seven times,” yet he riseth again; as the wicked do not but stumble into disaster. Look on the one hand at David; and at Shimei, Ahithophel, Absalom and Joab on the other.
How selfish and base to rejoice in the fall of an enemy! It may please the subtle enemy and the flesh too; but let not your heart be glad that he stumbles. Else Jehovah will surely see, and be displeased, and turn away His anger from him. And to whom? Let your conscience answer.

Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 8. Appeal to Conscience. Acts 7:61-53

We can see from the use made of the prophet Isaiah respecting the temple, what an advance was made by Stephen, beyond the Twelve even as the spiritual precursor of the apostle Paul (dead in sins as he was then, and the avowed antagonist of Stephen). But how he speaks directly to the conscience of the Jews, exasperated by his trenchant application of the O. T.
“Stiffneckcd and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers, ye too. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand concerning the coming of the Righteous One; of whom ye now became betrayers and murderers, being such as received the law at angels' ordinances (or, injunctions), and kept [it] not” (vers. 51-53).
Loving and devoted even to death that his Jewish brethren might judge their sins and receive the grace of God in Christ, he thus delivered the most scathing summary of the people's sins from first to last. Yet he did not go beyond what all in whom God spoke, from Moses to Malachi, had testified here and there in their pleadings with them for the glory of Jehovah. With all their self-complacency they were “stiff-necked” in heart and ears. The outward sign in the flesh only made their total lack of its spiritual meaning more glaring. The flesh was strong instead of being judged as evil.
It was themselves who were resisting the Holy Spirit, “ye” pre-eminently. Without doubt, as already proved from Holy Writ, their fathers had so done: this ought to have been a warning to them. Alas! they also followed the same baneful course; and they did so “always.” They had no just sense of God's grace in calling out Abram. They were like their ancestors who opposed Joseph and Moses. They broke the law, before it was deposited. They resembled the generation which had the tent of the testimony in the wilderness, but did homage to false gods. They boasted of the temple of Solomon, but rebelled against the Most High who is far above all that the hand makes. They killed the prophets who announced the Messiah; and in their own day they did worse than all before them by delivering up and murdering the Righteous One Himself.
It was no exceptional outbreak, but their habit. And so the Lord had told them in Matt. 12:31, 32. “Every sin and injurious speaking shall be forgiven to men; but speaking injuriously of the Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whosoever shall have spoken a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in that which is to come.” The evil and adulterous generation only waxed worse, after Christ's atoning work; so that when they spurned the gospel, nothing but judgment could be their portion; partially when the Romans under Titus took away both their place and their nation; fully under Antichrist, when the mass perish, and a believing remnant becomes a strong nation, the generation to come.
God's faithful grace had raised up true prophets in face of the many false, and those were persecuted by their fathers as faithless as themselves. Could they mention one who escaped that lot? And if any were more than usually gifted and privileged to announce beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, they were killed by their unrighteous ancestors who could not endure His coming to destroy them and their idols, with the corruptions in their train. Their rebellion against Jehovah and His anointed had only very recently culminated in their becoming, not those who say, Blessed be He that cometh in the name of Jehovah, but Crucify, Crucify Him, “of whom ye now became betrayers and murderers.” Yet He was the Holy One who, as He drew near and saw the city just before, wept over it, saying, “If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong to thy peace! but now they are shut out from thine eyes. For days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall make a palisaded mound round about thee, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children in thee, and shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou knewest not the season of thy visitation.”
And what was their glorying in the law but a vain and empty boast? They received it no doubt with the most solemn inauguration at Sinai. He shone forth from Paran, and He came from the holy myriads: from His right hand went forth a fiery law to them; or as Stephen said of their characteristic position, ye “received the law at angels' ordinances, and kept it not.” A law that is not kept must only condemn the guilty. What blindness to brag of a law which they did not obey! But so it ever is, where man without faith in the Savior pretends to honor God.

Joseph: 1. Introduction

Of the many biographical sketches in the Bible none for interest exceeds that of Joseph. It therefore attracts those of tender years not yet hardened by intercourse with the world, or sophisticated by the spirit of the age. It is distinguished even among the patriarchs by domestic affections no less than hatred of evil, by personal purity sustained and guarded by faith, by the favor of Jehovah that communicated His secrets to one that feared aim from youth, throughout an unusually diversified life and the extremes of slavery, of prison, and of the highest position next to the greatest throne then on earth without a cloud, the most prudent and kind of viziers in times of abundance no less than of famine, the most skilful of statesmen for his master's interest. Again what can one think of his filial honor to his father? what of his gracious returns to his envious and spiteful brethren (only short of his blood)? And though for a believing Israelite he seems to have gone far in complying with the words of a heathen, and to have risen up to the airs of a great lord as to the manner born, his heart sustained the divinely given hopes of Israel, as evinced by his punctual heed to his father's burial, where lay Jacob's father and his father's father.
Nor did his earthly rank in Egypt dim his own faith before his death, that God would surely visit his brethren and bring them into the land promised by His oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He too took their oath when that day came to carry up his bones hence along with them.
The long desired son of his mother Rachel, herself his father's first and tenderest love, he derived a name from her (Gen. 30:23, 24), Joseph i.e. adding; which pointed to another son, the son of his father's right hand, who was to be the occasion of her death. Sadly impatient with God's dealings in her case, grace opened her heart to Jehovah's goodness and gave her to look on through her son of unexpectedly wondrous destiny to another son, about to be born in Palestine, the little one who should become great both in the land and to the ends of the earth in its own season. For Benjamin figures in that day of earthly power and glory. Joseph is the vessel of divine wisdom in humiliation, despised by his brethren, suffering from them, and sold to Gentiles who punish him yet more; but unknown to Israel, exalted to the right hand of power for unmeasured blessing to both, and married to a Gentile wife, the names of whose sons testify to his forgetting his past toil with his kin, and his fruitfulness in another land. Yet at the end like Christ he that was separated makes himself known to his brethren whom he established in the best of the land. Even from this brief summary the reader will gather how hard it would be in all O.T. scripture to find so rich a mine of typical wealth, so varied and comprehensive a figure of the Lord Jesus.
Hence the history of Joseph abounds in the forecasting of the lights as well as the shadows of Christ, and thus is singularly instructive in the ways of God. This is all the more striking, because it is found in an unvarnished and perfectly reliable history, when man's annals, or even monuments, afford but a flickering gleam But all that these remains tell us goes to prove the perfect accuracy of that which the closing chapters of Genesis disclose of that land which was to be the nursery of Israel, where they were led on from a family group to become a people, Jehovah's people, waked up under oppression to the knowledge of their peculiar relationship to the Eternal, and at length from the furnace of affliction to that deliverance, which had His blessed mission in their midst, of which the second book of the Pentateuch treats so copiously.
It appears (for we must not say more when we go outside scripture) that the ordinary succession of native rulers was interrupted for more than two centuries by the invasion of Shepherd Kings from Syria (Hittite or Khita); and that the sudden rise of Joseph occurred during the reign of Apepi, the last of this foreign or Hyksos dominion. If this be so, it accounts in a great measure for the rupture made with the set ways and jealous forms of an old civilization, in the exalted place to which Joseph was advanced, in his long continued rule, and his marriage with the daughter of Potipherah the priest in On (Heliopolis); still more perhaps for the readiness with which a shepherd people were given a quarter so valuable as Goshen, not far from either the royal residence on one side or the frontier of Palestine on the other. The abomination of a shepherd lay in the native eye, not in those who favored Joseph and his brethren, but in the restored native rulers, who soon after regained the upper hand, knew not Joseph, and proceeded to persecute the chosen people. This providential concurrence we leave. God is above circumstances, though His wisdom is often shown in His availing Himself of them on behalf of His plans.
But whatever be the worth of these thoughts as to the then circumstances of Egypt and its rulers, there is certainty of God's directing hand, in His allowance of all the unworthy ways of Jew and Gentile in Joseph's early history, to bring about that very position of lofty distinction which, when foreshadowed, drew out the hatred of his brethren. His duty changed its form from his father's house to that of a foreign master, and from shame, even in the keep of a prison, to the highest rank in the realm.
But it was everywhere the same obedience in the sight of Jehovah, the same prosperity for all that he touched. He was tender even to tears as he was firm of purpose, clear of insight too, and resolute in execution, a man of mark and modesty, who rose to the command of every occasion without the least self-seeking. Jehovah was with Joseph, as Joseph was subject to Jehovah: a rare man among the Jewish people or any other, look where and when you will.

God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts

In considering this important subject in Lev. 23, there appear to be two prominent and blessed thoughts in the mind of the Lord. In the one, He strikingly sets forth His purpose to establish a rest for Himself; and in the other, to gather a people around Himself, that they may share that rest. Though the rest is before Him, it is not yet reached; neither are those called to share it yet gathered. Further, it has to be seen, how far the appointed Feasts have passed from Type to Antitype. Again, whether a rest for the earthly scene, in the form of Christ's Millennial reign of righteousness and peace, or the eternal rest, it is quite clear that neither the past nor the present has presented either; so that the rest must be looked for as yet to come.
That these Feasts were to have their actual fulfillment in their literal form is plain, irrespective of their antitypical meaning; they in their order, fixed by Jehovah, had to be maintained by Israel, whatever their spiritual significance. There being seven feasts is notable, especially considering that a period of time is connected therewith. They give a complete history of the ways of God.
With this we may compare what the Lord Himself taught on the seven parables of Matt. 13, and, later still, with the seven churches of the Revelation (in Rev. 2 & 3).
Whilst bearing in mind therefore the responsibility of Israel to heed each and all of the appointed Feasts, scripture beyond this warrants the conclusion, that like the seven parables, and the seven churches, they have their importance historically; and not least will they be seen to make known the person and work of God's beloved Son, and of His redeemed as associated with Him. It is also clear, that the teaching looks forward through the whole vista of time, even to the eternal future of bright glory, the never-ending Sabbath of the ever blessed God.
In looking at the Feast of the Sabbath, it is evident that the Lord intended it should stand out in its own dignified importance, being treated as unique in itself. The true thought of the Sabbath appears to be, His rest after labor; an order maintained throughout scripture by God Himself, and His beloved Son. Here it is thus enjoined upon His people (ver. 3). The closing account of creation is the first given proof, when after six days' work God rested on the seventh day, and blessed and sanctified it. But this rest was soon broken up by Satan's lie received and acted on; which resulted in the ground being cursed for man's sake, and himself turned out of Paradise. Throughout the book of Genesis no mention is made of the Sabbath, indeed not until God's earthly people were redeemed from Egypt, and brought to Him in the wilderness. There, in the ways of divine grace, Jehovah in Ex. 16 instituted the Sabbath in connection with the Manna that preceded it. Israel was enjoined to gather a portion each day, but double on the sixth, laying up for the seventh, which the Lord declared to be “the rest of the holy sabbath” unto Himself. It is no longer His creation an d rest, but the gathering of manna, and rest; which surely testifies to the blessed Christ becoming the True Bread come down from heaven, by Whom rest would be established for us also.
If pure absolute grace is shown in the timely boon to Israel of that which shadowed the gift of God's beloved Son as the alone provision for living bread, and rest, how marked the change, combined with the ground of Jehovah's dealing, manifest in the connection and mention of the Sabbath!
But Israel in Ex. 20 passed from grace to law, having through Moses pledged their obedience as the condition of blessing. Thereon the Sabbath was enjoined as a part of the law; for they were to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy:” an authority embracing, in solemn detail, the family, the employed, and the very cattle.
Moreover in chap. 31 it was to be a sign between Israel and Jehovah, who sanctified them. But if Jehovah kept in view a rest, man totally failed, both as to creation, and the law.
With regard to the latter, after long testing, Ezek. 20 charges the people with rebelling against Jehovah and polluting His Sabbaths. Before this Canaan had been set before them as a place of rest. Yet in this too they signally failed, for the mass who originally started fell in the wilderness; and even Joshua, their new and faithful leader, did not bring them into promised rest, seeing that David, at a later day, spoke of a future rest (Heb. 4:7-9).
Before explaining how these facts are used by the Holy Ghost, it may be well to follow up Israel's sin and failure in connection with the position and action of their Messiah respecting the Sabbath. The Gospel of Matthew, which has a special instruction for Jewish ears, will suffice; especially the account in chap. 12, bearing in mind the position of Jesus in the previous chapter. There He had been morally rejected, not only in His forerunner, but personally. Consequently He turns from the whole scene to His Father, owning Him as Lord of heaven and earth, and in the dignity of His own person as the eternal Son, invites the weary and heavy-laden to come to Him for rest. Instead therefore of kingdom-rest by and by, He now offers soul-rest. In the following chapter the position and practice of the rejected but true David as to the seventh day Sabbath is seen by His vindication of His disciples, when they plucked and ate the ears of corn. He thus silenced the scrupulously religious Pharisees, and bade them learn that mercy and not sacrifice was what God desired.
Then He Himself goes farther and heals the withered hand on the Sabbath, thereby testifying to His own saying that “the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” Such a blow struck at their formalism brought out their rage and desire to kill Jesus. Alas! when it was eventually done, they kept sabbath while the Messiah was lying in the tomb. Happily, another path was before the Lord, which He in the absoluteness of divine grace states (John 5) when the Sabbath was again in question, “My Father worketh hitherto and I work” up to the deepest which His Father had given Him to do. If the cross of Christ brought out Jewish, as well as Gentile, hatred to God, and crushed out every hope for man in the flesh, it is there and there only that
God was glorified as to sin, and that a righteous basis was laid to make good all the divine counsels, and the eternal rest ever in the mind of God. In the anticipation of the infinite results of that work, how significant are the words of Jesus! “I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” How well calculated to open out the bright future, of God's eternal rest!
It is in view of this, that the Epistle written to the believing Hebrews sheds light, both on the present position of their Messiah, and the promised rest. The Son of God, Who had glorified God, in Himself purging our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Moreover as to the world to come (or age of long promised glory), the Son of Man, Christ Jesus, has all put in subjection under Him, already crowned in heaven with glory and honor. Thence the Christian knows that the sabbath of rest is above, whilst encouraged in the place of labor and sorrow. “There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God,” this future rest of God, earthly as well as heavenly. Rest of conscience is not the point here, for this would deny the truth insisted on in chap. 10:12-14, where Jesus, having completed His work, is “forever sat down”; and by His offering the believer is forever perfect as to conscience. Rest in this sense being the believer's abiding portion, the order now is—using diligence and then rest; so that Christ giving present rest in His right as the Son of God, and the rest which His finished work gives to the conscience, are blessedly consistent with the rest of God in future glory. Then toil shall be o'er and God's eternal day enjoyed. Like the joy of the father with the prodigal, it began and knows no end.
Vain is it therefore to seek rest here, or debate upon the Jewish Sabbath, which so many now unwarrantably confound with the Lord's day. Important as the Lord's day is for the Christian as the day of privilege in worship and service, it turns distinctively on Christ risen and the new creation. But God shall have His rest for and with His people in the millennial sabbath, and finally in the eternal day. That glorious time is briefly spoken of in Rev. 21:1-8, where it is written, God will make all things new, and the tabernacle of God shall dwell with men; death, pain, and sorrow shall be no more, and God Himself shall wipe away all tears. Then will He rest in His love, and His people share the rest of God through an unclouded eternity. Bright indeed the present prospect to energize the Christian's daily labor, and to calm amid the conflict, as the Holy Ghost leads into the realities of the rest secured by Jesus for the people of God.
( To be continued).

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 1. The Duties of the Sanctuary

Lev. 24:1-9.
After the Feasts comes a new section of this third book of Moses, which we now propose to consider. It consists of a rather miscellaneous group of particulars not yet laid down in the book.
The first words treat of the provision for the candlestick and the table before Jehovah continually.
“And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel that they take unto thee pure beaten olive oil for the light to light the lamp continually. Outside the veil of the testimony, in the tent of meeting, shall Aaron dress it from evening to morning before Jehovah continually: an everlasting statute throughout your generations. Upon the pure candlestick shall he arrange the lamps before Jehovah continually.”
“And thou shalt take fine wheaten flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof; each cake shall be of two tenths. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the pure table before Jehovah. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon [each] row; and it shall be a bread of remembrance, an offering to Jehovah. Every sabbath day he shall arrange it before Jehovah continually on the part of the children of Israel: an everlasting covenant. And it shall be Aaron's, and his sons'; and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it [is] most holy unto him of Jehovah's fire-offerings: an everlasting statute” (vers. 1-9).
It is important for us to feel the part which God devolves on His children and expects from them, unless He be indifferent to His honor or their blessing. So it is here with His people. What a privilege and responsibility for the sons of Israel! They could not enter the holy place: the covering or curtain forbade it save for the priests. But on all the children of Israel lay the charge of providing pure olive oil beaten for the light of the sanctuary outside the veil of the testimony to cause the lamps to burn continually.
The meaning of the type is plain, That light was the exhibition of God in Christ who is the True Light. Light He was on coming into the world which lay in darkness; He was the light of men; He sheds His light on every man. There the Fathers are as dark as the Friends; for nothing can be more preposterous than that every man is lighted. On the contrary, every one, as man, is still darkness: so the apostle declares even of the elect in their natural state. And so terrible is this spiritual darkness that even the presence of the divine light did not dispel it, as darkness yields to light naturally: the darkness in that case did not apprehend the light. Nor is it without moment to see that it is on His coming into the world that the light so manifests every man. The common rendering, as in the A.V., is both grammatically and dogmatically false. It would require the article to mean “that” cometh. As anarthrous, it must mean “on coming.” But “on coming” has no distinctive force here, save as said of the true Light; but as predicated of Him, it is full of interest and instruction. Said of man, it not only adds nothing beyond that he is a man, who must therefore have already come into the world; but it might impart the strange notion that man is thus enlightened on his coming into the world, which yields no good sense.
Here however it is the same Light, yet not as when on earth He was “the light of the world.” He is the light shining in the sanctuary, the light of God for those who have priestly title to enter there during the darkness which rests on the Christ-rejecting people. For as we are told in the detail of ver. 3, “in the tent of meeting Aaron shall order it from evening to morning before Jehovah continually.” It is the function of the high priest (and we know Who He is that thus acts in heaven itself), not in the hand-made holies, the figures, but in the true. We know also what the oil denotes which caused the light to burn. It was the Holy Spirit given without measure. It was in that Spirit that the Lord met the tempter; in that Spirit that He was anointed for His service of every kind; in that Spirit that He offered Himself spotless to God. So was He raised from among the dead; so when risen did He charge the apostles whom He had chosen; so the Revelation speaks of Him as having the seven Spirits of God, not only in dealing with the churches, but in view of the crisis of judgment that follows to bring in and rule the world-kingdom. It was His perfection as Incarnate never to speak or act otherwise where we who have the same Spirit so often and sadly fail. Here we have Him under the figure of the candlestick displaying the light on high.
Again, the pure table with its twelve loaves of fine flour represents Him as the heavenly food of the priests, Him Who was also the manna that came down for the people on earth. And as the spiritual fullness was aptly couched under the seven lamps of the candlesticks, so the twelve loaves pointed to the human or administrative fullness of Christ. We readily see the same principle in Israel, in the twelve apostles, in the complement of Israel and of Judah, in the Revelation, in the gates &c., of the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. Jesus was also the bread of life as man; and if Israel see this not yet, any more than the light of heaven, we whom by grace He made priests delight in both. For what nourishment is there not in that glorified Man whom we henceforth know and feed on (2 Cor. 5:16, 17)?
Nor must we omit to take into account the pure frankincense upon earth now, for a memorial, our acceptance in all the grace of Christ, the fragrance before God. We see the sabbath too here, as it followed the manna, as historically shown in Ex. 16. It is on Christ that rest for its depends, not on the Spirit in us, which is our help and power; but He, Christ, is our peace before God. Only the priests eat of Him thus, and they only in a holy place. “For it is most holy unto him of the fire-offerings of Jehovah:” a statute forever, as was the ordering of the candlestick, both figures of Christ in God's presence.

Proverbs 15:8-17

Here we have admonition of still graver character.
“The sacrifice of the wicked [is] an abomination to Jehovah; but the prayer of the upright [is] His delight.
The way of the wicked [is] an abomination to Jehovah; but him that pursueth righteousness he loveth.
Grievous correction [is] for him that forsaketh the path; he that hateth reproof shall die.
Sheol and destruction [are] before Jehovah; how much more then the hearts of the children of men!
A scorner loveth not that one reprove him; unto the wise he will not go.
A joyful heart maketh a cheerful countenance; but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.
The heart of the intelligent [one] seeketh knowledge; but the mouth of the foolish feedeth on folly.
All the days of the afflicted [are] evil; but a cheerful heart [hath] a continual feast.
Better [is] little with the fear of Jehovah than great treasure and disquiet therewith.
Better [is] a meal of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred therewith.”
It was natural and a plain duty for a Jew, in case of a transgression, to bring the appointed offering to Jehovah. But this however was not only unavailing for the godless, but added fresh insult to God, unless with self-judgment before Him and that hatred of the evil committed which would work deeper care and vigilance against repeating it. If it were only to get rid of uneasiness, the man would be weaker than before, and more ready to sin afresh, and offer his sacrifice again. Integrity of repentance was indispensable. Accordingly the heinousness of such self-deception as compounding with God for sin is here strongly pointed out. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Jehovah.” This is as certain, as that He has delight and favor in the prayer of the upright. He looks into the heart.
Nor is it only the perversion of a religious duty that is abominable in His eyes, but “the way of the wicked” in general; whereas He loves one that pursues righteousness, that is, practical consistency with his relation to God and man. This never was nor can be for fallen man unless he be born of God. Such were those that looked on to the Messiah. Blessed are all who have their trust in Him, said Psa. 2:13; and only those.
Meanwhile there is a righteous government of God who ever concerns Himself with the state, and not only the delinquencies and iniquities, of His own, even if not within the Abrahamic covenant. This and its present consequences even the patient and pious Job had to learn, and yet more his three “comforters of distress” and “physicians of no value.” He disciplines those He loves for their good. Here we read of “grievous correction for him that forsaketh the path,” leaving the time and way rather indefinite; but all is plain for him that hateth instruction—he “shall die.”
It is indeed a serious thing, but withal blessed if in faith, to have to do with a living God who searches, as the Lord Jesus does, the reins and the heart. When His grace is really known, it is a joy to welcome His search against unconscious self-love or levity; and one can plead, Search me, O God, and know my heart; prove me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any grievous (or idolatrous) way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting. Here it does not go so far as Psa. 139, but says, “Sheol and destruction (Abaddon) are before Jehovah: how much more then the hearts of the children of men!” All things are naked and laid bare to His eyes with Whom we have to do.
A scorner is a bolder sinner against God and his own soul. He loves not to be reproved: “unto the wise he will not go.” Self is his aim and practically his God, and folly his life, which makes him a contemptuous refuser of all wisdom from above.
But next we read that a joyful heart maketh a cheerful countenance; just as the spirit is depressed or broken by sorrow of heart. Otherwise life is hollow, and a vain show. There can be no reality in the joy, and no rising above sorrow of heart, unless we are open and right with God. He would have us depend on Him with confidence—in His mercy and favor in Christ. We wrong Him if we so yield to the sorrow, as to break the spirit.
Then, how true it is that a man of understanding seeks knowledge He knows his shortcoming, and desires to fill the gap. But the mouth of the foolish feeds on folly, as he has no care for, and no perception of, wisdom.
There is danger for the afflicted to give up all their days to their grief; but this is to occupy one with nothing but circumstances of sadness. How wise to turn to Him who makes all things work together for good! This makes the heart cheerful, which is or has a continual feast.
Then one proves that “better is little with the fear of Jehovah than great treasure and disquiet therewith;” and “better a meal of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred therewith.” The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; and many waters cannot quench “love,” neither do the floods drown it. Love, as the N. T. pronounces, is the bond of perfectness.

Gospel Words: the Sermon on the Mount as a Whole

As the different parts of our Lord's wondrous instructions have been before us from time to time, though not in the orderly form, it seems not without interest to survey it comprehensively. Also it is well to take note of the striking difference between the task assigned to the First Gospel as compared with the Third. In the latter we have various portions dealing with the persons or things to which the instruction applies; whereas the former presents all in an unbroken fullness. Hence if we had not Luke's Gospel, we should not have known the interruptions, which in fact did occur, on the occasions for drawing out the teaching applicable.
It is known that many excellent persons have tried to make out, for the clearing up of what enemies treat as discrepancies, that our Lord repeated the same or very similar instruction under different circumstances. Assuredly on the one hand no one would affirm that the same truth may not have been often reiterated in the course of His service here below. But on the other there is no proper ground for doubting that the Spirit of God has in a remarkable and deeply interesting way presented the same teaching in a differing connection and with distinguishable shades, according to the divine design of the books which incorporate it. Thus there is no need to conceive a new rehearsal, in order to reconcile (as it is called) the writings, or to vindicate the credit of the writers. It is on the contrary the wisdom of God in which the Holy Spirit acted when He thus directed the so called Evangelists. For we must not assume that Matthew and Luke entered fully into His reasons for so inspiring them. What is certain is that they were so led of Him as to give us the truth of God, the more perfectly to fulfill His purpose in each.
Take, as the first instance in fact, the account of Luke 6:12-49, and compare it with the chapters of Matthew; as also Luke 11:1-13. and 33-36. Quite aware that pious men have argued from “the plain” in Luke 6:17, opposed to the “mountain” in Matt. 5:1, one is constrained from the clear evidence of both to reject such a solution of the difficulty felt as to the identity of the discourse at the same place and time. For Luke's language does not mean “a plain,” but rather a level place or plateau on the mountain, up to which the Lord went to pray all night, before calling the chosen twelve, and then coming down with them, so far as to meet a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of the people out of all Judea and Jerusalem. It was clearly the same discourse; but the Spirit acted, not as a mere reporter (which is not the manner of inspiration) but as an infallible editor, as it were, for the distinctive design of each Gospel.
Hence we may observe that Matthew does not relate here the apostolic institution, as Luke does at this time and place, like Mark, who omits the sermon as being occupied with His work rather than His words. Matthew was led to reserve that call as its fitting place to the mission to Israel in his chap. 10. which corresponds with the beginning of Luke's chap. 9. Ignorance or error is out of the question for the Evangelists, but too true of those who carp at what they do not understand. The first striking distinction in the discourse is, that in the briefer sketch Luke was given the address personal, “ye,” not the abstract “the” as in Matthew before the final benediction of verse 11; while Matthew was led to reserve his far fuller woes till chapter 23 which was a later time.
The Kingdom has no such place in Luke as in Matthew. It is those that gather to Christ and follow Him truly who are blessed; and thus for man as he is, outside and despising Him. The contrast of what Messiah authoritatively said with what was said to the ancients is peculiar to Matthew. Luke gives fully the great and new morality of loving our enemies, being merciful as our Father also is, not judging or condemning, but remitting according to the divine pattern; as Matthew gives the pointed teaching on practical righteousness in acts and words, prayer and fasting, as directed against hypocrisy; and the prayer for disciples comes in here in his chap. 6:9-13. In Luke it is not only reserved for a moral connection with heeding the word as the appropriate exercise of life according to God, but we learn too that it was the Lord's answer to a disciple's request. To record this in Luke's Gospel was as suitable, as to leave it out in Matthew's who presents the Lord in all meekness but full of authority, without taking notice of any such human circumstances.
This too explains why the First Gospel gives it not only as an unbroken whole, but in immediate sequence of a very broad and general view of His service and the wide impression produced (Matt. 4:23-25). In a similar way His teaching next follows, though historic detail was given later.
But not to see that these ways of the inspiring Spirit are perfect for the adequate revealing of Christ's various grace and glory, and in no less admirable adaptation to man's condition and wants—to conceive that they are blemishes of human infirmity, is indeed to be dim-sighted if not blind. Such are those who, if they do not altogether deny God's word, “Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike; Willing to wound, but yet afraid to strike.” But if we are to be kept in these difficult and dangerous times, if we are not to be carried away by superstition or by skepticism, we need uncompromising adherence to scripture and dependence on His guidance who inspired every word from God but through man, and to be now characteristically (I do not say absolutely) able to say, as could not be of old, “we know,” as we read in the Epistles of Paul and John particularly, not said of themselves only but of Christians their brethren, who have God's Spirit dwelling in them.
As to the sermon, it is instruction in the righteousness proper to all that enter the Kingdom of the heavens. Those born of the Spirit alone can meet the state of soul blessed in the Lord's eyes. It is not a requirement as on Sinai, but Christ's description of such as suit the Kingdom. Not a word of grace to sinners is uttered. It is not the gospel of God's grace to the lost, but His words for His disciples; and personal obedience is the rock at its close. To misrepresent this is mere error; and it is evangelical men who find most difficulty. Others no doubt are wholly wrong; but we must not confound it with redemption or saving grace.
Chapter 5 is not only a sketch of what the blessed ones are, but with the authority of Law and Prophets fulfilled, not weakened, the higher conduct suited to the Kingdom, in contrast with what God of old forbore with, now that the Father's name is revealed, and relationship with Him.
Chapter 6 speaks of the inner life or ways as seen of the Father, distinct from the world, and its cares apt otherwise to be absorbing.
Chapter 7 shows their due attitude to others, saints or sinners, with counting on God encouraged, and avoidance of false prophets (no matter what their gifts), and practical submission to Christ's words.
Now, my reader, if you have not judged yourself as lost and found by grace, salvation in Christ and His work, how can you face the Sermon on the Mount? It is far more to be dreaded by you than the Ten Words of Sinai with all the terrific sights and sounds which accompanied them. Jesus invites and urges you to come to Him, and even assures that “him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Have you ever so come? Come now. Delay here is most dangerous.

Either in Adam or in Christ? Part 1

I have thought, on weighing the request of some as to a paper on the great principles of our being dead and risen with Christ, that a review of the progressive character of the blessing, connected in scripture with it, might be profitable for all. I have not the expectation of satisfying myself in what I shall present; but, as my purpose is to follow scripture, I may be able perhaps, in the Lord's goodness, to help others.
There are three great points to consider as regards sin (and I speak and purpose speaking entirely in a practical way): sins actually committed, involving us in guilt as regards deeds done in the body; the principle of sin as a law in our members, sin in the flesh; and separation from God. But in this last respect there are two aspects—separation of heart, and judicial separation. Both must be remedied.
The root of all sin is not in the lusts in which it is so hatefully shown, but in having a will of our own, the departure of the will from God, the will to be independent, free to do our own will. “Who is lord over us?” When we do thus separate from God, we must have something; we cannot suffice to ourselves, and we sink into lusts—lusts in which our will works.
There is indeed another element which seems to me to have preceded both lust and will in man's fall, namely, distrust of God, which left him to the working of both.
Happy and confiding in God, he had no need to seek happiness in any other way; but Satan suggested to him that God had kept the forbidden fruit back from him, because, if he ate it, he would be as Elohim (God). Lust by this got entrance.
All this has to be remedied, and remedied according to the glory of God. Is that remedy a return to the old estate of man, a restoration or reestablishment of his original paradisiacal state? is it that which is new new, that is, as regards man? The answer is simple it is wholly new. It is blessing in the last Adam, who is the Lord from heaven. Man remains man, and the individual remains the individual; all their responsibility in their previous state is recognized, and the glory of God provided for and vindicated as to it; but the state and blessing into which they are brought, as brought to God, is a wholly new one. It is God's way of doing this, and what He has done, which we are now to inquire into, according to the true and blessed word of God, who only can reveal these things.
It may be well first to turn to the responsibility of man as such, though the thoughts and purposes of God preceded it all. But the revelation of them came after it, as we shall notice, with the Lord's help, farther on.
Responsibility attaches to every creature who is placed in intelligent relationship with God. Where-ever there is consciousness of such a relationship, there is obligation to God in it. It may be (1) in a holy nature, and obedience delighted in; (2) in an innocent one, and little else but thankfulness known, save so far as we know it was in Adam, as obedience may be tested by commandment; or (3) it may be in a state of sin, which does not alter the fact of relationship in which the fallen being stands, but his whole state is in such a relative place. The first is the condition of the elect angels preserved by God, so that they have not left their first estate. The second was Adam's state before his fall. We may stay a moment to, contemplate a state which passed away as if it were one intended only to give a lovely picture, that men might learn what it was, but incapable of lasting, the bright but peaceful freshness of morn for one who rises early to a busy and wearying day. Little is said of it, nothing of its joys. It was the true and real but transitory ushering in of that in which all moral truth has been brought out of a scene which results for faith in a head anointed with oil, and a cup running over, favor that is better than life, and dwelling in the house of Jehovah forever, our Father's house, but not in itself the green pastures and waters of quietness which are the natural effect of the hand and guidance of the Good Shepherd.
The knowledge of good and evil was not there. The enjoyment of a good conscience was not there in the exercises which keep it without offense; there could not be a bad conscience. The peaceful natural enjoyment of goodness was there, and no thought of evil disturbed it. God could be thanked and praised, His gifts enjoyed. Evil, sin, sorrow, conflict, passions, were unknown. It was a peaceful scene and a happy scene; occupation in what gave natural pleasure, innocent pleasure. They were set to dress the garden and keep it, and all was pleasant there; no want was there, nor would suggest itself. One only moral point bore another character, and tested willing subjection to God, namely, the ready acceptance of the divine will by a confiding soul. If man was to be a moral being at all, he must have obligation and responsibility somewhere: not in any object which supposed evil lusts, for he had none. It was obedience that was required; and simply obedience. What was forbidden would have been no sin, had it not been forbidden. It did not suppose sin in man; confidence in God would have made it easy, and a delight. A dutiful child assumes the goodness as well as the rightness of a command, and both, as well as the duty to obey. In fact, up to the temptation all went on in peace.
This was the difference of man's and Satan's sin. He abode not in the truth, for there was no truth in him. Man was tempted into the knowledge of good and evil. The destruction of confidence, as we have said, lets in will and lust. It was dreadful to belie God's goodness in the midst of blessing, and to trust one who could call it in question. All was really over then; for man was far away from God, had ceased to believe what He said—had ceased to believe Him good—alas! no uncommon case since. But will and lust brought in this transgression at once, when the heart was away from God, and trusted itself and Satan—the history of our hearts ever since. Man had departed from God, sin had come in, transgression, and (by the fall) conscience, or the knowledge of good and evil. Up to this, righteousness and holiness were unknown to man; they require the knowledge of good and evil. But thus the normal relationship of man with God had closed; his responsibility could not, for he was a creature, and God his Creator. Nor was that all. He had himself the knowledge of good and evil, or (to make it intelligible) of right and wrong. His responsibility had taken the form of conscience, and relationship to a God forsaken indeed, but known (so far better as conscience makes us know Him) as a Judge.
Into God's rest, Heb. 4 teaches us, man in creation never entered. Such natural peacefulness without combat, as he may then have had for a moment, cannot be on earth now. “There remaineth a rest for the people of God;” where nature, then a new and divine one, will have it in fullness of blessing in God's own presence. There all will be according to the nature we have, without a disturbing element, yea, according to God's own nature, when we enter into God's rest.
But on the fall sin and responsibility ran on together in the place into which man, who had fled from God, was drawn out by God; and the world as such began. But man was separated from God, though He overruled all things. That which God has wrought for us as regards this state, and the accomplishment of His own counsels in grace towards us, is this: perfectly meeting, according to His own righteous requirements, our state of sin connected with man's responsibility; closing, as to our standing before Him, our whole Adam life; laying a foundation, according to His own glory, for our being with Himself in that glory, in a new state altogether; giving us the life in which we can enjoy it; giving us the energy, revelations, and power of the Holy Ghost, by which, in this scene of combat and ruin, we may (through what He has given and done) be in relationship with Him according to the place He has set us in, and look forward to the glory; and finally, introducing us into the rest with and like Him, who being our title, is also our forerunner in glory—all in and through the second Man, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ.
As to responsibility and its effects, I may be brief. The place in which man was set according to God, the only place he had according to Him, he has wholly lost. He had turned away from God in heart, had fled from Him, through his newly-acquired conscience, and has been driven out—that life and sin might not go on forever together in the world. Return was precluded. This state and standing was in itself that of one wholly lost. Man was away from God. Mercies might and surely did remain, but place and relationship were wholly gone. In the judgment on the author of the calamity a promise was given, not to Adam but on which faith might rest, that Another should arise, and, through His once suffering, totally destroy the power of him who had brought in the ruin. The Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. This was simple promise and grace in another than Adam.
The two great principles of responsibility and life-giving had been set up in the garden. Man had failed in the first; and, having failed, was debarred in that state from perpetuating evil by the second. He could not be innocent and die. He could not be a sinner and allowed to live forever in the place of responsibility in wickedness. It would have been a horror. Return to innocence is in the nature of things impossible when good and evil are known.
But man was to be tested, having the knowledge of good and evil, and the pretension with it to be good and righteous. The result, though of all importance, I state rapidly, because it is surely familiar to most of your readers; and only, as necessary, do I recall it here.
Man has been tried, left to himself, though not without ample testimony and ground for faith. The earth was corrupt before God and filled with violence; and the judgment of God, in the deluge, closed a scene which had become intolerable in every way.
But the world, yet again, would not retain God in its knowledge, and, in its various national divisions, worshipped demons; for man must have some god.
God then began the distinct history of grace.
Promises were given to one called out, who became the spiritual, and to some, even natural, head of a race set apart to God: Abraham became the heir of the world. The great spring of hope being thus established, as the apostle reasons to the Galatians, the question of responsibility on the footing of revelation and special relationship was renewed: first, on the ground of requirement, man's obligations according to the true and perfect rule of them; secondly, on the ground of promise and grace.
The law was given by Moses. Israel, God's called and redeemed people, undertook to inherit the blessing on the footing of doing all that Jehovah said to them; and a just rule of outward relative conduct to God and their neighbor (and that, reaching to desire or coveting) was given to them. We know the result. The golden calf began, the Babylonish captivity closed, their path.
The second trial was on the ground of promise and grace, when Christ came and presented Himself in forgiving mercy and healing to Israel. It resulted in His rejection by His people; and they were finally cast off, to be restored only by sovereign grace, the grace of One faithful, at any rate, to His own promises. Isa. 40-48 treats of one; 49-57, of the other of these trials.
But this last proof of man's state went farther. It was really a trial of man as man. As regards the law, the blessed Lord brought out a deeper essence than the Ten Words—loving God with all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves; and, as regards grace, He was the goodness of God manifest in the flesh, the Light of men. It was not promise; it was the love of God—God present in love. But man's sin was thus fully brought out. For His love He had hatred. As God is love, He was hated, instead of loved with all the heart; as man, in gracious goodness and righteousness, they were His murderers instead of loving Him as themselves; they hated Him without a cause. This was too in full grace, Gentile wickedness being full, law-breaking in Israel already accomplished. But, though in the way to the Judge, they would not be reconciled; and man's heart was fully tested by God's goodness.
The cross was the distinct witness of Israel's and man's sin. The mind of the flesh, of what man was in himself, was enmity against God. It had been fully tried and tested, and that by goodness. Its evil and will were only more and more brought out. It was manifested in its will (pure evil in the presence of pure good), not only by sins, though these abounded, but by the principle of sin and hatred of God. Amiable creature qualities there might be; but enmity against God—self—was its root.
Was the flesh to be restored, or a new life and blessing to be brought in by Christianity? Is it the restoration of the first Adam, or salvation in and by the Last? Where is the place, the scene, in which the blessing is to have its result? To what does the life it is enjoyed in belong? To answer these questions we must look to the positive revelation of God, however that may be made good in the conscience when known.
I say, we must look to the purpose of God as revealed, to know fully what His mind as to this is. But we must look to the responsibility of man too; to the guilt under which he was lying as child of the first fallen Adam. For God's glory is affected by it.
I shall first call attention to the purpose of God Himself as revealed in Scripture. Eph. 3 (as other passages) speaks of a mystery hidden from ages and generations, hid in God. But it adds, that now the manifold wisdom of God is known by the church, “according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There was then a plan, before ever responsibility began, of glorifying God by the church in and with Jesus our Lord. This precedes responsibility, which begins with creature relationship, and was dependent on it. Creation was the sphere of responsibility. Purpose belonged to God.
Nor is this all. Paul's apostleship (Titus 1:2) was “in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” So 2 Tim. 1:9: God “hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ.” The life which we have as Christians, new in us, is in origin before the worlds. “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son; he that hath the Son hath life” –that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us. This present world and time is but the scene where all this is developed and brought to light. Thus in Eph. 3, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” So in Titus, “But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching.” So in 2 Tim. 1:10, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel.”
It is not, remark here, that there is a predestination of individuals, important as this may be in its place, but that the church, eternal life, the promise of that life, our present saving and calling, had their place before the world existed. The life itself had, in the person of the blessed Son of God. And though from Adam individuals may have been, and were, quickened, they differed nothing from servants in their revealed standing. Life, the church, incorruptibility, our salvation and calling, have been brought to light and revealed, yea, as to the church, begin to exist since Christ came. But we must now inquire into the application of these truths, and how they are brought to bear on the child of Adam; how he has a part in the blessings contemplated in this purpose.
“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The blessed Son of God became Son of man, the last Adam, the Second Man. He came as man before God, born of a woman, as under the law (Gal. 4:4). In both He perfectly glorified God; walked as the obedient man, in the midst of temptation; and, as the law in the highest sense required, loved God with all His heart, and His neighbor as Himself. Victorious over Satan, as the first Adam had succumbed to him, He humbled Himself in obedience instead of seeking to exalt Himself by disobeying. In this God was perfectly glorified by man in Christ's person. Responsibility even in the most adverse circumstances, and every way put to the proof, was fully met; so that as man God had nothing to claim and found His delight. This was perfect as between Him and God, but redeemed no one. He abode alone, only so much the more perfect because He was, but still alone in it. As to His own perfectness, He could have had twelve legions of angels, but He did not come for that. Still this was an immense truth as to man and God and His glory. God had been perfectly glorified by a Man there, in the scene where He had been dishonored.
This in itself was of immense moment and to the glory of our blessed Lord. Not that this could be tested without His death, for the question was till then (not for faith but for fact), Will He be faithful in spite of everything? He was. His death threw back the light of absolute unmingled obedience on all His life from His birth on. He came to do God's will: His will was the spring of all Christ did; and if He had to learn what obedience was in this world of sin, where it had to be made good, He was, in spite of all suffering, obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He was the blessed, gracious, perfect man but the obedient man, as Adam had been the disobedient one—the obedient One in the midst of all suffering and trials, as Adam was disobedient in the midst of blessing. (To be continued).

2 Peter: Introduction

The authenticity and genuineness of the First Epistle needed not a word. It seems never to have been disputed from the first. Not so the Second. Eusebius, who died about A.D. 340, tells us (H.E. iii. 25) that among those scriptures that were controverted, but recognized by most (the many) was this Epistle. Even he did not dare to class it (as the Epistles of James, Jude, and John (second and third) or the Revelation) with the spurious; but he does not count it like the other books of the N.T. accepted by all without question.
Yet on its face the writer declares himself with yet more carefulness than when he wrote before, not “Peter” only but “Symeon Peter,” name and surname. So, at the Jerusalem conference on the Gentile question, James speaks of him (Acts 15:14) as “Symeon” (the Aramaic form of “Simon”), though historically designated “Peter” just before (ver. 7). A forger would have strenuously avoided any such shade of difference, superficial though it be; as he never would have conceived still greater care to attest thus minutely the Peter who added this Second Epistle. For he now was led with all holy energy and apostolic authority to denounce the false teachers that were to corrupt more and more the Christian profession, and the scoffers walking after their own lusts, willfully blind to the day of the Lord, through unbelief and materialism.
The late Bp. Christ. Wordsworth, though loyally defending the true inspiration of this Epistle, seeks to palliate the hesitation raised (at least in the third and fourth centuries). He pleads that, as “Writings were forged in early times by heretics in the names of Apostles, especially in the name of Peter,” it was therefore incumbent on Christian churches to be on their guard, and not to receive any book as written by an apostle and as dictated by the Holy Spirit, before they were convinced by irrefragable proofs that it was apostolic and inspired. “Little harm would arise from a temporary suspension of judgment. If the Epistle was what it professed to be, viz., a work of the Apostle Peter, then in due time it would not fail to be universally received as such. But if it was not what it claimed to be, then perhaps heresy might steal into the church under the venerable guise of an apostolic name, and the church might be convicted of reading a forgery as the word of God; and then the credibility and inspiration of those other hooks, viz, the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the thirteen Epistles of Paul, which had already been received by the Church, would be impugned; they too might be exposed to suspicion; and thus the foundation of the faith would be in danger of being overthrown. It was therefore the duty of all churches to take time to consider, before they received any book as the writing of an Apostle. It was their duty to doubt.”
The error here is serious enough; and Dr. W., a grave and sincere prelate (far above trickery), puts it in its naked deformity. “It was the duty of all churches” to doubt! How little did he mean to surrender the ground of faith! Ecclesiasticism led him thus astray. It is never a duty, even for the simplest Christian, to doubt Scripture, but only to believe; and if so, what about the duty for all churches, or even for any church, to doubt? Really, it was suicidal, and an utter dishonor to God who inspired the Scriptures, and a shameless failure on the church's part. One of the haughtiest sins of Popery is to set up the claim of the church to decide what is scripture. Whether they vest this prerogative in the church, in the ecumenical council, or in the Pope, makes no radical difference. In every form the bringing in of any authority but God's is treason against His glory.
So far is man, whatever his position, privileges, powers or responsibilities, from having the duty of judging God's word, it is it that judges man. For man to doubt God's word, or to sit in judgment to pronounce it His or not, is an overthrow of all righteousness and of all grace, one might add of all decency. It is at the peril of any soul, and peculiarly inconsistent with the Christian, or the church, to question what He has written. The Lord has decided for the intrinsic authority of His own words, to say nothing of His unvarying reverence for all scripture as the full and final sentence of God's mind. “He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my sayings hath him that judgeth him: the word which I spoke, that shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken from myself, but the Father that sent me, himself gave me commandment what I should say and what I should speak; and I know that his commandment is life eternal. What therefore I speak, as the Father hath said to me, so I speak” (John 12:48-50).
The Holy Spirit is no less precise in affirming the same principle in Heb. 4:12, 13. “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” What words could more directly refuse the monstrous assumption of the church pretending to accredit scripture, or the still more horrible assertion of its duty to doubt?
There is no evidence that the question raised as to 2 Peter was in the first century. We hear of it much later in the fourth century when unbelief and unspirituality had long prevailed to the decay of faith and the prevalence of heterodoxy, to which the open and sanctioned worldliness that followed gave great impetus and wide currency. The death of Peter no more invalidated his Second Epistle, than Paul's death for his Second to Timothy. This is a mere imagination of circumstances to account for a much later and a wholly ungrounded hesitation about our Epistle. The supposition of delay at first, and the collection of evidence from various parts, before the Epistle was received on the church's verdict of its genuineness, are but an amiable dream.
The Second Epistle, like the First, eminently bears on daily life, but with less doctrine, as is natural, being avowedly written afterward to the same persons. Both are hortative; but the Second pronounces, as the First does not, a solemn warning on closing evils, with the severest denunciation of false teachers denying the Sovereign Master that bought them. These bring on themselves swift destruction, and mislead many into their dissolute doings, whereby the way of truth shall be blasphemed; as also by covetousness with feigned words they make merchandise of the saints. Hence prominence is given to these appalling enormities under the garb, not only of professing Christians, but of accepted teachers. This, at a later date at least, struck superficial observers so strangely as to raise a question of the authorship. But they ought to have recognized the selfsame spirit in the early episode of the apostle's dealing (Acts 8:18-24) with Simon of Samaria, the sorcerer of old. The fervor of love which characterized his evangelizing kindled into a flame against the profanity of the baptized man, who thought to obtain the gift of God with money. Peter therefore pointed him out for the warning of others, yea, of himself as in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. The advance and spread in corruption now descried by the Spirit called for still more energetic terms of abhorrence; as the last chapter exposes the latter day infidel mockery in a philosophic form.
After the suited salutation in chap. 1:1, 2, the apostle presents grace's foundation of all things for life and godliness in what was already given, even to becoming partakers, not of human nature ameliorated, but of a divine nature through God's precious and exceeding great promises, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But for this very reason there is need of diligence to make our calling and election sure (3-11). This he shows them in view of his speedy departure, not by any hint of apostolic succession, but by leaving the truth with them, and recalling the wondrous sight vouchsafed to him and two other chosen witnesses of the power and coming of our Lord on the holy mount, even in the days of His flesh, and the Father's voice out of the excellent glory: the divine miniature of the kingdom, in confirmation of the prophetic word, with a hint of a blessedness and hope more surpassing still for their hearts (12-21). And he explains that no prophecy is of its own solution, but rather forms a whole by divine purpose and power converging on God's kingdom.
Then in chap. 2 is the apostle's indignant prediction of the ungodly issue, the germ of which was already at work, and its judgment sure and unswerving from God. It is thus the complement of the First Epistle. As the latter was occupied with the suffering of the righteous from a hostile world turned to their good; so the former tells of the doom that must fall on the corrupting false teachers who hypocritically made truth and righteousness a mockery. The judgment on angels that sinned, on Noah's ungodly despisers, on godless and unclean Sodom and Gomorrah are set out as fore-runners of the punishment that awaits the still more guilty that now follow Balaam in his unrighteousness; whatever their highflown words of vanity, they despised lordship, and were slaves of corruption.
Chap. 3 follows up God's righteous government of the world to the uttermost, in dissolving the heaven and earth that are now, and so, purging the world of all associations with ungodliness, to bring in new heavens and a new earth wherein righteousness dwelleth. But the apostle is not content with withdrawing the veil from the destruction, not only of the corrupt, of covetous and insubordinate, but of the skeptical who rest on the stability of things material, which also perish. The saints who believe in God's promise, and wait for these awe-inspiring displays of divine retribution to come, he would have to be found of Him in peace without spot and blameless.
Thus any unbiased Christian apprehends clearly, even if he had not the inspired writer's word for it, that the two Epistles came in the power of the Holy Spirit from the same hand, mind, and heart: the one specially regarding God's present government of the righteous; the other as specially that of the unjust in the future. Only together do they complete the great theme, and this in the style of the great apostle of the circumcision, wholly different from that of James, or John, or Paul, while Jude has his own distinctive character, as can readily be proved in its season. “Ye therefore, beloved, as knowing [things] beforehand, take care lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own steadfastness; but grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him the glory both now and to eternity's day! Amen.” The close is as directly practical as the beginning; so indeed, rightly applied, is all scripture, and every scripture, as surely profitable for man, as it is inspired of God. But through Peter it is peculiarly evident, and in his Second Epistle no less than in the First. Yet all is based on Christ's accomplished redemption, the possession of a new and divine nature to preserve from corruption, and a living hope through His resurrection Who is gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him.
But the Catholic principle is false, that the church teaches; for it is taught by those given as teachers by the exalted Head. Nor is it the church that preaches, but evangelists equally given by Christ in glory. The Protestant is just as false, who asserts the right of every man to private judgment. This directly tends to rationalism, and deifies man, as the Catholic does the church. The truth is that God has the right and the authority to send His gospel to every man; and woe be to every man that despises it. So God addresses His word in general to the Christian and the church; and woe be to such as do not bow and bless Him for it. Hence it is quite exceptional when those divine communications, however deep, are sent save to the faithful as a whole, either in this or that place, or quite unrestrictedly. There are three letters to two chief rulers, who had a special place as His servants in the word, and as apostolic envoys. Yet the richest unfoldings of grace and truth in the Epistles were not addressed to officials, but expressly to all the saints or to the church. Now is it not almost blasphemous to say that the saints or the church addressed had the duty of doubting? How a Christian could be beguiled so to think is the marvel. But human tradition and corrupt ecclesiastical habits account for many a mistake.
Take the N.T. facts. Did the church of the Thessalonians doubt the first of Paul's Epistles unexampled as it was? Did they not accept without question his written testimony, as they had his oral a little before, not as men's word—but just as it truly is—God's word, which also works in the believer, certainly not in the doubter? It is the more pertinent, because the Second of these Epistles exposes the fraud of a letter pretending to have come from the apostle, which had imposed on some at least. Thenceforward his salutation with his own hand in every Epistle is the token to guard the saints; yet far from him, or even them, the pestilent and unbelieving thought that their church, or any other church, was temporarily to suspend judgment—no, not even when they, or some of them, had just been drawn into error by a deceiver.
And if the sign-manual of Paul sufficed, surely also that of Peter, or Symeon Peter! The name might be a possible question; and this it was not difficult to ascertain. Silvanus a prophet (Acts 15:22) was the bearer. But this settled, there was nothing, when the Second came, but to receive as from God what His inspired servant conveyed to the same saints who had his First Epistle. Examining its contents for the church to accept it would have been a snare of the enemy. The inspired word was to judge their conscience; not they to judge it, but to have their hearts invigorated and souls cheered by His grace and truth through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Again, not only did the inspired writer preface his name and apostolic title in fuller fashion than when he wrote before, but he refers to personal facts, one of the weightiest import, the other of the most exclusive nature, early in the Second Epistle. He pathetically tells them of his knowledge that he was speedily to put off his tabernacle, as his motive for sending them a permanent testimony of what they needed for their continued remembrance. Then he introduces the most magnificent and unique scene ever vouchsafed on earth to saints, himself and his two companions: the transfiguration of the Son of man, acknowledged by the Father as His beloved Son, far above Moses or Elijah, with whom the apostle then foolishly placed Him, as if they could be on common ground. “Hear Him;” and as the voice out of the cloud came, Jesus was found alone. Therefore this Epistle must be either a base imposture, or the last words of love from that apostle.
Nor is there a part of the N.T. more pregnant with wise and holy counsels, suited to the wants of the. saints, or more characteristic of him that wrote it, following up his former letter. For as his First set forth God's righteous government of His children, founded on His grace which called unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, so his Second adds that righteous government about to fall on the corrupt false teachers, such as bring in by the bye heresies of perdition (chap. 2), as well as on the infidels that rest on the world's stability to mock at the coming of the Lord (3). The Second accordingly is needed to complete the First; just as that to Colossian saints from the apostle Paul completes what he wrote to Ephesians (the fullness of the Head, and the body His fullness). It is to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The two Epistles of Peter dwell alike on the all-importance of the gospel, so blessed already, yet on the one hand surrounded by a world of persecutors as well as by immense dangers from evil men within and without. It is this development of evil which draws out the energetic sketch of the misleaders in all the second chapter, and of the skeptical enemies and their doom, down to the dissolution of all things, in chap. 3. Both led speculative persons, like the untaught and ill-established of whom he himself speaks in chap. 3:16, to question that Peter wrote it. No doubt that solemn warning has a stamp of its own necessarily different, not only from the First Epistle, but from what precedes and follows it in the Second. But can any objection be shallower? Its nature demanded an unsparing denunciation entirely out of season elsewhere. But when he is occupied with the souls of the saints as in the First Epistle, his style in the Second is impressed and instinct with the same ardent, fervent, practical earnestness in love and godliness, peculiar in its manner to him beyond any other writer in the N.T. And how beautiful his allusion to “our beloved brother Paul also,” as well as marked contrast with well-known patristic impostors who set the one against the other!

What Is the Bearing of 1 Peter 4:15-16?

Q.—What is the bearing of 1 Peter 4:15, 16, which seems passed over in the exposition we have had?
A.—The text strictly rendered may be thus given with remarks on it: “For let none of you suffer as murderer or thief or evil doer, or as spy on another's matter; but if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but glorify God in this name.” The same excellent witnesses, which do not give the latter half of verse 14 (in Text. Rec.), have here not “part” or “behalf” but “name,” which quite falls in with the first half. The moral sense of mankind utterly condemns the first three offenders; yet into what might not a follower of Christ slip if he turned aside? He had learned the hollowness of the world's estimate of evil, and therefore is the more exposed if he cease to walk by faith and constrained by the love of Christ. He had also learned the new and dear relation (with its resulting duties) of the holy brotherhood into which our Lord has brought us. Therefore, if love as well as faith did not guide him practically, who in such danger of prying into other people's affairs? For, if in a bad state, he would be sure to regard others as no better than himself: how wretched an excuse for or justification of his own faults! But if he suffered as a Christian, what an honor! The world gave this name as a taunt to the disciples of a rejected and crucified Christ. Faith knows Him dead and risen and glorified at God's right hand, and looks for everlasting glory together with Him, and that the very world will know Him thus at His appearing. What is the grandest throne on earth but brief and mean in comparison? For, besides the millennial display, we shall live through Him unto the ages of the ages, reigning in life through the Savior.


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Joseph: 2. His Early Days

Joseph, it appears from comparison of clear dates in scripture, was born in his father's ninety-first year. He was the elder son of Rachel, long desired by his mother, and at length given of God, when her impatience had met its just rebuke. Leah had her six sons already born; and a daughter followed who later became the occasion of shame and grief to her kin, of a reckless and revengeful desolation to Hivite Gentiles, far beyond the demerit of the one that wronged her.
We need not repeat the tale of Joseph's birth, and of the remarkable utterance of his mother with the name given and the anticipation of the one who was to be son not of her sorrow only but of her death. In Jer. 31:15-17 is a very touching reference to Rachel and connection with the affliction of “her children” in the day of the captivity to Babylon, but looking to the blessed time of gracious reprisal when Jehovah will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. “Thus saith Jehovah, A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, bitter weeping: Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are not. Thus saith Jehovah, Refrain thy voice from weeping and thine eyes from tears; for thy work hath a reward, saith Jehovah; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for thy latter end, saith Jehovah, and thy children shall come again to their own border.” Between the prophecy and its fulfillment in the coming days of Israel's restoration and national blessing, it is applied to the murderous onslaught, in vain meant for Jesus, which Herod brought on all the boys from two years and under that were in Bethlehem and in all its borders. In all their affliction was He afflicted, though exempted from that blow for the anguish of His rejection unto death, under the hatred of His own people and the infinitely deeper suffering in atonement at God's hand for their sins.
Not only was the birth of Joseph an epoch for the spirit of his mother (elsewhere dilated on), but we find Jacob thereon awakening to his due place and to his country associated with the promises of God. “And it came to pass when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, Send me away that I may go to my place and to my country.” The needed discipline was not ended: Jacob had yet to learn more of himself under the good dealings of God. There was still a sadly mingled crop to be seen. But thence we see his heart turned toward the land from which he had been long an exile through his mother's devices and his own. If he served Laban longer, God took care to bless his own portion so conspicuously that the sons of Laban wished him gone, and the word was given which decided him to flee. Then the return by God's grace, notwithstanding his crippled weakness, became no less an epoch for Jacob.
Next, we turn to chap. 37, “The generations of Jacob,” where Joseph, young as he was, becomes the leading figure, with his brothers a dark background, and God at work in a remarkable way.
“Joseph, being seventeen years old, was tending the flock with his brethren; and he was a youth with Bilhah's sons, and with Zilpah's sons, his father's wives; and Joseph brought their evil report to his father. And Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was his son of old age; and he made him a sleevecoat of many colors. And his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, and they hated him and could not speak to him peaceably. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and told his brethren, and they hated him yet the more. And he said to them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed. And, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves came round about, and bowed down themselves to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed rule over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more, and, behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down themselves to me. And he told [it] to his father and to his brethren; and his father rebuked him, and said to him, What [is] this dream that thou hast dreamed? shall I indeed come and thy mother and thy brethren, to bow down themselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying” (vers. 2-11).
The witness of their evil ways and his father's love made Joseph hateful to the sons of the servile mothers. Nor did the distinctive robe which Jacob gave Joseph soften their asperity, nor yet his two dreams. “Fury is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before jealousy?” Whether it was wise or comely to rehearse his dreams to those who had no love for him may be a question; but the dreams were of God, as the effect on his brethren was of the enemy. Even to his father the second was distasteful, though he kept it in mind. But as all that is recorded stamps Joseph as a pious youth, of moral courage, of faithfulness toward the erring, of a lowly mind that wondered at the dreams as much as any or more; so he too like his father could hardly shut out from his spirit that God betokened some singular exaltation in due time; and the strengthened repetition could not but confirm, as indicating that they were not casual, but from above. This however always provokes adversaries to madness and revenge, while, strange as it may be in their eyes, God turns even their spite and wicked ways to the accomplishment of His purpose, as we shall see beyond fail in the history.

God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the Passover and the Unleavened Bread

IT has been seen that God's sabbath of rest depended on the person and work of His beloved Son, in order that others might share it. It will be no less clear that the sacrifice of Christ alone settles the question of sin, and gives souls a new beginning with God, as well as a holy and righteous title to present peace and coming rest.
The Passover, whether looked at as following or apart from the Sabbath, ranks first in importance even in the typical order. This Israel as a nation had already been taught in their start with Jehovah. Ex. 12 speaks minutely of their appointed beginning with the sacrifice and shed blood of the Paschal Lamb. This was the only ground of difference between them and the Egyptians, as well as the exclusive means of escaping the righteous judgment of God. Typically it raised the question of sin, and settled it on behalf of the guilty who bowed.
Their part was obedience to the divine command; to sprinkle the blood of the slain lamb upon the lintel and side-posts of their houses, and inside to eat its roasted flesh with bitter herbs. Thus, and only so, were they secure from the destroying angel, who, seeing the sprinkled blood, passed over them as assuredly marked off for Jehovah's mercy.
Judgment being settled, the feast of Unleavened Bread, in its most important connection, follows. But the typical appointment of the Passover remains in the order of the Feasts of Jehovah, as well as its blessed and perfect antitype, for the believer in this day. The lamb slain and the blood sprinkled, on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, laid the foundation of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, as with it came the hour of solemn judgment executed on the Egyptians. It may well be spoken of as a night to be long remembered. Indeed the Passover was instituted, to be kept henceforth by Israel as a memorial throughout their generations. It was observed in Egypt, the place of judgment, enjoined upon them in the wilderness, and kept by them on their entrance into Canaan, under the very walls of Jericho. In the course of their national history the keeping of the Passover retained its fundamental significance.
Alas! like all other divine appointments, it was neglected, though revived from time to time when the power of the written word called them to Jerusalem to keep this feast. When they were under the empire of the Romans, their going up to Jerusalem to keep the Passover is frequently spoken of in connection with Jesus. He who came according to promise and prophecy, and proved His presence by many signs of power and grace, was despised and rejected with hatred even unto death. That hate was willfully carried out, in the full energy of flesh and Satan, when the Lord Jesus spoke of keeping the last Passover with His disciples.
So Luke 22 solemnly declares when the precious details were gone into by Him who knew all from the beginning to the end, with the crowning fact that He who was about to become the antitype to Israel's paschal lamb touchingly said, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” His sufferings were in obedience unto death, even the death of the cross; His body given and His blood shed, when He through the eternal Spirit offered Himself as the spotless victim to God.
Then again, as the one and only true sacrifice, when suffering on the cross the righteous judgment of God due to sin, He became the antitype of the paschal lamb; yea, the Lamb of God, to bear away the sin of the world. There, in and by Him, judgment was exhausted when, so to speak, the action of the fire spent itself on Him who knew no sin and yet was made sin, suffering once for sins, Just for unjust. This being once and forever accomplished, it is no longer Israel's feast pointing onward to Christ; for the appointed Savior has not only come and died, but God has raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand: the proof that the question of sin is settled, leaving no further offering for sin.
Indeed, Rom. 3 plainly states how and by what means God showed His forbearance in “passing over” believers in the past through the blood of His Son. Now it is added that He is just and the “justifier” of him that believes on Jesus. Moreover, the apostle Peter writes, giving peaceful certainty in the knowledge of present redemption by the precious blood of Christ, who was without blemish or spot. Such was the Lamb fore-ordained before the world was, or sin entered it, but manifested for all that by Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, that their faith and hope might be in God (1 Peter 1:19-21): an advance truly on the type of the slain lamb, with its sprinkled blood, which shut God the Judge out. For the believer is now cleansed and justified by God through faith of Jesus in redemption with the added proof of the Lamb risen and in glory.
The Passover having run its typical course, and redemption being accomplished by Christ the Lamb of God, the feast of Unleavened Bread necessarily follows in its intimate connection, as will be seen both in type and antitype. On the same evening as the Passover, Israel was commanded to keep the feast for a whole week, in both a negative and a positive way. No leaven was to be allowed in their houses, and from the fourteenth till the one-and-twentieth day of the month, they were to eat unleavened bread. Already, on the night of the Passover, had they eaten of the roasted lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs, with feet shod, loins girded, and staff in hand, ready to quit the place of slavery. Henceforward they must shape their ways and feed on what God their Savior appointed for them. It was no question of choice or opinion on their part. Jehovah's mind was clear and express: no leaven allowed through all the seven days, and only unleavened bread to be eaten. To neglect either would involve, not only the loss of privilege, but cutting off from the congregation. None could with impunity despise the appointed memorial that Jehovah brought them out of Egypt, as He declared: “Therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever.”
This is confirmed when again commanded in Deut. 16, where obedience is laid down in view of entering Canaan, to which is added the place of Jehovah's choice, where the Feasts should be kept, as well as the unleavened bread should be eaten (as the bread of affliction). Leavened bread was absolutely excluded. “Neither shall any of the flesh which thou sacrificedst the first day at even remain all night until the morning.” The lamb's flesh must not become ordinary food but be treated as holy.
Thus is shown the intimate connection of these two feasts, in privilege and responsibility as clearly appears in the antitype. Indeed, 1 Cor. 5 will at once manifest the way the Spirit of God applies it both to awaken the church of God at Corinth to its slighted privilege, losing the sense and object of the sacrifice of Christ, and also to the holy obedience proper thereto in the exclusion of all leaven. He who laid down what Israel should do, and what they should not do, fully understood its significance, and it was only for them to obey His word in the way and time appointed. Now that Christ, the antitype, has come, it is no longer the shadow or figure of truth, but the abiding reality made good by Him in and by whom God was perfectly glorified at the cross, where the leaven of evil was fully judged, and holiness as well as righteousness everlastingly established.
Such is the mighty sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb, who maintained what God is, and met all that His people needed. Hence it cannot be wondered at that such a death should be the God-given basis of life in holiness and truth. To allow sin, which leaven implied, defiled the assembly at Corinth, and testified that holiness in practice was wanting. But this is to deny what the death of Christ claimed in life, walk, and associations. Therefore they were not keeping the antitypical feast of unleavened bread; for known leaven was allowed in their midst. Being truly a redeemed people, they were unleavened before God; and such was their obligation to be as an assembly before the world. Hence they must put out the leaven, as it is written, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed [for us], therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7, 8).
Clearly here the combined feasts of Ex. 12 have their practical antitype, and explain their intention as to purity of walk and conduct, measured by Christ and His sacrifice, where holiness and truth were seen, and maintained in perfection, to the glory of God, for life and salvation to His people. Infinite is the grace to be thus bound up with the person and work of Christ, so as to have a holy and righteous beginning with the living and true God, and a secured title to eternal bliss and glory. No less, throughout the complete earthly pilgrimage as set forth in the seven days, are we to keep the feast, guarding against all evil on the one hand, and walking in the fear of God and true sanctification on the other, whilst we cherish that deliverance known by the death of Christ, God's own Lamb, the foundation of all.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 2. Blasphemy Judged With Other Evil

In marked contrast with the provision for the full light of Christ to shine uninterruptedly in the sanctuary, till the morning without clouds, during the night, and in connection with the pledge of blessing for all Israel, stands the public insult to Jehovah, which is here recounted with His judgment on it.
“And the son of an Israelitish woman, but who [was] son of an Egyptian man, went forth among the children of Israel; and this son of the Israelitish [woman] quarreled with an Israelitish man together in the camp. And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the Name, and cursed; and they brought him to Moses (and his mother's name [was] Shelomith, daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan). And they placed him in ward, that they might decide at the mouth of Jehovah. And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Lead the blasphemer outside the camp; and all that heard shall lay their hands upon his head, and the whole assembly shall stone him. And thou shalt speak to the children of Israel, saying, Every one when he curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of Jehovah shall certainly be put to death: all the assembly shall certainly stone him; as well the stranger as the homeborn, when he blasphemeth the Name, shall be put to death. And he that smiteth any man mortally shall certainly be put to death. And he that smiteth any beast mortally shall make it good, life for life. And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbor as he hath done, so shall it be done to him, breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him. And he that smiteth a beast [mortally] shall make it good; and he that smiteth a man [mortally] shall be put to death. Ye shall have one law; as the stranger, so the homeborn; for I [am] Jehovah your God. And Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they led the blasphemer outside the camp, and stoned him with stones. And the children of Israel did as Jehovah commanded Moses” (vers. 10-23).
The first portion of the chapter is the clear type of Christ, not only as the light of the heavenlies during the dark night for Israel on earth, but as the pledge by-and-by of their twelve-tribed fullness through the grace of Christ. Here we have not the shadows of good things to come, but the sad fact of Jehovah's name blasphemed meanwhile on the earth, where the responsibility lies to be His witness in reverence and righteousness and truth. Here is the sample, alas! in this one man of Israel after the flesh, the son of an Israelitess and an Egyptian father: an unhallowed union, the fruit of which reviles the holy Name. No doubt all flesh is as grass; but Israel was to be holy to Jehovah. And surely this is the most weighty step a woman (symbol of a state) takes in this life naturally. But Shelomith married an Egyptian, one of that oppressing world out of which Israel was brought with a high hand by Jehovah.
It is not that sin of idolatry for which they were to be swept off the land into Assyria; and especially even the royal tribe, when it apostatized, into Babylon. Here it is defiance, cursing the true God, or blaspheming Jehovah. This became emphatically true, when, weaned meanwhile from idols, they disdained and blasphemed the Name in the Messiah, Himself also Jehovah their God. Therefore are they given up nationally to a worse than Babylonish captivity. They are under the curse of Him they reviled, and the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thess. 2:16).
Therefore also, as they despised Him who suffered for sins, all their other sins, as in the verses that follow, come up against them. They have not even the temporary relief in the blood of calves and goats offered for their transgressions. They have in God's righteous judgment neither king nor prince, sacrifice nor statue, ephod nor teraphim. But the heavenly reality, the dead but now risen Christ, in the tabernacle not made with hands, is the sure token that more than all they lost they will find provided by Jehovah in the mercy that endures forever, when they shall say, Blessed He that cometh in the Name of Jehovah. For repent they surely will, as it is the promise of divine grace, and turn again, that their sins may be blotted out; so that there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of Jehovah, and that He may send the Messiah that has been fore-appointed to them. He is now in the Sanctuary above, where the heavens received Him, after His atoning work was done, till times of restoring all things, of which God spoke by His prophets since the world began. The security is on high where only faith's eye can reach; but it is unfailing before God, and awaits the moment when the gathering out of every nation as well as out of Israel is complete to join the Lord in the air. Then renewed dealings follow on, to form a godly remnant of Jews, His missionaries to preach the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations before the end come, when the day of Jehovah ensues for the judgment of the quick throughout all the habitable earth.

Proverbs 20:24-30

IT is very certain that dependence on God alone secures a clean or righteous walk. So it was of old; so it is now. Man needs direction from above, and grace too, that in this world of pitfalls and confusion his ways may please the Lord. This is most impressively pointed out in the next words.
“The steps of a man [are] from Jehovah; and how can a man understand his own way?
[It is] a snare to a man rashly to say, [It is] holy, and after vows to make inquiry.
A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
Man's spirit [is] Jehovah's lamp, searching all the chambers of the belly.
Mercy and truth preserve the king, and his throne is upholden by mercy.
The glory of young men [is] their strength; and the beauty of old men the hoary head.
Wounding stripes purge away evil, and strokes [purge] the chambers of the belly” (vers. 24-30).
It is not a weak one's goings but a strong man's, which are here said to be from Jehovah: how blessed, as well as necessary, to know Him who knows the end from the beginning, to whom the night shines as the day, and the darkness is as the light! Him faith can count on to direct the steps.
Jephthah was rash in the vow he made, but he stood to it and bore the consequence. Not so Ananias and Sapphira; but their deception did not shield them from death. We are bound to weigh seriously what we say before God, and not to retract for selfish reasons.
A wise ruler is not one who is too amiable to punish the wicked. The very aim and reason of his office is to be God's minister in externals, and a terror, not to a good work, but to an evil one. It is the more imperative, if men conspire, to scatter them and crush their power fearlessly.
Man's spirit is Jehovah's lamp, and so, far beyond that of a beast that goes downward. But it is going beyond scripture to boast of the great soul of man, and against scripture to say that it is the light which lighteth every man. For this is Christ alone; and the real meaning of John 1:9 is, that the True Light is that which, coming into the world, lightens, or sheds light on, every man. It had been another state before He came thus. The Incarnate Word so deals with every man, high or low, Jew or Gentile. Conscience is a solemn inward monitor for God against sin. Christ when He came did incomparably more—made every one and thing manifest in due character. Divines for ages are apt to talk like the Friends or the heathen: how little they have learned Christ!
Here again we learn that the king is preserved, not by inflexible firmness against the wicked, but by “mercy and truth.” Negative qualities fail to sustain. “His throne is, upholden by mercy” a godlike prerogative. He needs love as well as fear, not only for the people's happiness but for the stability of his rule.
It is folly and blindness to set young against old, instead of helping them to profit by an experience of great value which they lack. Let the old admire the energy of the young, and the young fail not to own the beauty of the gray head.
Stripes that wound we all need from time to time; for nothing less probes and cleanses the hidden evil that is at work. The deeper the mischief, the more painful the corrective that must pierce to its core. Such a chastening is not pleasant, but causes grief. Afterward it yields peaceful fruit of righteousness to those exercised thereby.

Gospel Words: Alms

The Lord takes for granted that His disciples would walk righteously before God in alms, prayer, and fasting. He is not satisfied with bidding such give to him that asks, as in the preceding chapter (42), and from him that would borrow not to turn away. It is by the grace of Christ in contrast with legal narrowness. Here we have the single motive of pleasing our Father that is in the heavens. Thus would their light shine in Christ as believed and confessed by them, not their righteousness be done before men to be seen of them, which is the object expressly forbidden. As in alms we have the needy and distressed of mankind directly brought before us, we have this followed up by prayer to our Father in the closet, fasting subjoined to set aside self-indulgence for the body and leave room for humiliation before Him: thus dealing with man, apostles, self and God, in ways suited to the Father revealed by the Son.
“When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by men. Verily I say to you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; so that thine alms may be secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will repay thee.”
It is not the habit of giving or lending in liberality of heart, unstintedly and unselfishly, but that merciful consideration of the wretched and suffering, which becomes those who serve God in a fallen world (James 1:27). Each duty has its place. Both adorn the teaching that is of our Savior God, as we are called to do in all things. Prudence may question, common sense hesitate; but faith acts on His word, and without faith it is impossible to please Him. It is no question of doing another's will, but of Christ's will.
In all cases the snare is ostentatious, doing our righteousness before men to be seen of them. Otherwise, says our Lord, ye have no reward of your Father that is in the heavens. He lays the utmost stress on the manner and the motive with which the act is done. Display in the doing of alms He compares to sounding a trumpet before the doer, and denounces it as what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, within and without where people meet and pass. Can anything be conceived baser than a son of God playing a part to win the notice and approbation of men? How solemnly He adds, Verily I say to you, They have got their reward!
How elevating it is for the soul, in having to do with the relief of distress among men, to act in secret, and in the sight of the Father that seeth in secret as the One to repay! It is not enough to exclude other men. To bring Him in and in secret is essential to the purity of the case. It is He who is above all, and through all, and in us all; and the least of His gifts to us is what enables us to help the suffering and the needy. To leave Him out is the essence of unbelief. To bring Him in is what we as His children owe Him in love and honor, the witness of our dependence, of our gratitude, and of our loyal service.
We have only to look at the ways of men in Christendom, in order to learn where neglect of the Savior's teaching leads His disciples, and the influence of self, not only on the world but on the godly swayed by the spirit of the age. What notoriety! What emulation! What boasting or pride, and even ambition! What a contrast with Him who being rich for our sake became poor, that we by His poverty might be enriched And how striking that not in rich Corinth but in the poor churches of Macedonia, scripture tells us of the grace of God bestowed in this way; how in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their free-hearted liberality It was not even according as the apostle hoped, but beyond; and the secret of it was, that they gave themselves first to the Lord, and to us by God's will. Thus is genuineness of love proved.
But there is another invaluable word of the Lord as to this which calls for our heed. “But thou when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; so that thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will repay thee.” It is not only from others but from ourselves that such doings should be hidden. Self is a subtler evil than men. The action of grace is defiled and becomes a poison to me and a dishonor to God when I think of it with complacency. If rightly done, it was passed to our Father for His remembrance, not ours.
Here lay Job's failure, which no inflictions of Satan, nor unsympathy, nor yet suspicion, of friends even touched. He was a most gracious man, but he thought of it, and not of God only who wrought in Him. To this he must be and was brought: to boast only in God, judge himself, and submit with all his heart. Part of the lesson was that his left hand should not know what his right hand did. This on the contrary, up to the end of his appeal (Job 31), he knew only too well. But all was changed when, instead of looking at fruits of grace in himself, he saw God in very faithfulness withering up all self-satisfaction. “I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).
Thus we hear that even in alms the Father in secret must be the motive in order to make it acceptable to Him. The Lord insists on inward truth. O my fellow-sinner, how can this be while you are dead in trespasses and sins? “Ye must be born anew;” and life, this new life, is in Christ only. But He is the object of faith set for this purpose by God. “He that believeth hath life eternal;” and as Christ is the source, so is He the strength of that life. “I live; no longer I, but Christ liveth in me.”

Either in Adam or in Christ? Part 2

As to this God had been glorified in man; but He was thinking too of all of us, of His glory in grace and purpose. He was going to bring many sons to glory. But these sons were found in sin, to guilty too in fact in every way. All that the first Adam produced hateful to God was thus to be removed; and where grace and God Himself had been revealed in Christ, it only, as we have seen, drew out hatred in man. Other questions arose, though questions connected with sin in one way or another: death which stood out against man; and as regards the Jews, there was the breach of the law and positive transgression; and in rejecting Christ, not only man's common sin, but the rejection and the loss of the promises in Messiah, the promised Seed. Messiah was cut off and (surely the only true translation) “had nothing.”
But we may now see what, in the substance and purpose of it, was the import of the cross. As regards the previous Adam state and its fruits, and (I may add) any special transgressions of Jews against law, it was by the deep and blessed work of atonement, the total putting away of all guilt for the believer, all the fruits of the old nature being blotted out and effaced—gone out of God's sight. So it proved the righteousness of God as passing over in forbearance the sins of Old Testament saints (Rom. 3), and sets the believer now, Jew or Gentile, righteously clear in God's sight before Him in peace—this as regards the sins of the old Adam, or, if a Jew, transgression also under law. They are gone. The work as to this had a double character: the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat so that it should be presented to all, it was the righteousness of God towards all; and as the sins of His whole people, they were confessed and borne, so that there were none to impute.
This met responsibility as to the old man. As children of Adam we were under guilt in this place and condition. All is perfectly cleared; and we are before God white as snow, righteously owned as clear. But there was the tree as well as the fruit; the evil will, the lawlessness of nature Jew or Gentile—by nature the children of wrath. But Christ has died a sacrifice for sin. “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin [a sacrifice for sin, περὶ ἁμαρτίας] condemned sin in the flesh.” Sin in the flesh, the principle of evil working and producing sin in us, is condemned. I do not say sins are, but sin; but it is condemned when a sacrifice was made for it—when it was put away by Christ's sacrifice of Himself. It is not forgiven; we doubtless are, as to it. An evil principle cannot properly be forgiven; it is condemned, but put away judicially by atonement in the sight of God by Christ's sacrifice. All that constituted the old man in God's sight is put away wholly in Christ's death, and that judicially by a work which has glorified God as to it; it was what became Him
Thus far God has been glorified by Christ's perfect personal obedience as man, and by His work in atonement for sin. This work indeed for sin goes much farther. The whole new estate of the universe is founded on it. As remarked elsewhere, all God's dealings with this world are now on the ground that sin is there, and must be, because it is there. But Christ has wrought a work in virtue of which God's relationship with the world, the new heavens and the new earth, when all is accomplished, will be on the ground neither of innocence nor of sin, but of righteousness. He is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin (not the sins—this He does not do, as falsely cited) of the world. But as to this object of Christ's death, that is, for man as a sinful child of Adam and sin in the flesh, this is not all. Christ not only died in consummation of ages (that is, when man's probation was fully gone through, as we have seen) to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, but He died to sin. He, the sinless One, closed all His connection with the whole fallen Adamic scene and Adamic state of death. He, ever sinless in it, had come into this scene in grace, walked up and down in it, had been tempted in all points, and carried obedience on to death. He had thus done with the whole scene, and with the sin which He had to say to as long as He was here, though it had only proved at the end, as a result, that He knew no sin, that He lived as a man out of it and above it. Had He stopped short of death, that could not have been said, though now we can say so; we know He died to it.
Thus Christ was no longer connected with man in the state in which life in man was sin, though in Him sinless but tempted, and by temptation even to death proved sinless. Satan had tried to introduce sin into it in Him, but in vain; and now He died to it, ceased to be associated with man in that way absolutely by death. The estate of life in which He had thus to say to man ceased. He destroyed the power of death then, and annulled his power who had it, by undergoing the full extent of it, and rose into another condition of human life, in which man had never yet been at all, the firstfruits of those that slept. But the resurrection of Christ was not only divine power in life, and that in Christ Himself, who had authority to lay down life and authority to take it again; there was another truth in it. Divine righteousness was shown in it. He could not be holden by it, but all the Father's glory was involved in this resurrection. His person made it impossible He could be holden of it. His Father's glory, all that the Son was to Him, was concerned in His resurrection; but, He having perfectly glorified God in dying, and finished His Father's work, divine righteousness was involved in His resurrection. And He was raised and righteousness identified With a new state into which man in Him was brought; and more than that indeed, for more was justly due to Him—He was set in glory as man at the right hand of God.
But for this another thing was needed. Not only did the blessed Lord for us who believe meet all our sin as children of Adam by His death, so as to clear us according to the glory of God from it all in His sight, but He perfectly glorified God Himself in so doing. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him.” So John 17:4, 5. Hence, as stated in both these passages, man in the person of Christ entered into the glory of God. But it was wrought for us; our sin was put away by it. Christ, as having thus glorified all God is, is our righteousness. We become thus the righteousness of God in Him. We have a positive title to enter into that glory as regards righteousness, though owning it all to be grace (grace reigning through righteousness), and rejoice in hope of the glory of God, by the work and worth of Christ. “As He is, so are we in this world.” But this took place in Him as entering into—beginning in His person—a new place of human existence, a risen Man entered into glory. The power of eternal life was in it. Dead to the old scene and all that state of being and place and ground of relationship to God, He lives, in that He lives, to God. Christ has thus His perfect place of acceptance as Man with God, and we in Him. He is gone in the power of divine life, and according to divine righteousness, into divine glory.
A further truth connects itself with this. Christ risen and ascended has sent down the Holy Ghost which unites us to Him; so that we are in Him, members of His body, sitting in Him in heavenly places. Moreover, the Holy Ghost dwells in us. I will, with the Lord's help, take up this farther on, but only notice here, in connection with Our present subject, that the Holy Spirit makes us clearly know the efficacy of Christ's work and our redemption; so that we are at liberty, knowing on the one hand that our sins are put away, on the other that we are in Christ. He is the earnest of the glory, the Spirit of adoption, and sheds the love of God (who has done all this) abroad in our hearts. We know that we are in Christ, and Christ in us. Yea, we dwell in God, and God in us; and we know it. His presence is more than this; but I reserve this part for a moment to consider our place in Christ.
The double effect of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ will be noticed here. There was, we have seen, responsibility to God on one side as born of Adam in the world, and God's purpose on the other, to bring us to glory and privilege in the last Adam. Christ has perfectly met one for us, and entered Himself, consequent on the work of redemption into the other. He has glorified God as to the first Adam's state, but has died to it; not that He was ever in any of the sin of it, save as bearing it, but as with us here below as man, in like manner taking part of flesh and blood with the children in the likeness of sinful flesh, and made sin for us on the cross, when fully manifested as in that state knowing no sin. Now He is entered into the glory, the glory He had with the Father before the world was, as the last Adam according to the purpose of God as to man, and according to righteousness (John 16; 17).
Our state, our salvation, hangs on this: and we may add, the whole condition of the Jews or the fulfillment of promises on the earth. The sure mercies of David are based on and identified with the resurrection of the Lord, as surely as He died for that nation also.
The cross is for God's glory, our salvation, and our state before God; it is the turning-point of everything. First, our sins, and sin, are put away. All is clean gone in God's sight according to God's glory. But as alive and having our place in Christ, we see, and are in, Him as having died to that whole estate and condition, suffering as Son of man. The cross, as it showed man's rejection of Him as come into the world in grace, so it breaks in an absolute way (nothing so absolute as death to close our connection with what we lived in, and the rather as He was rejected in will by man) with all He was in as alive down here. Our guilt as responsible men has been perfectly met for God; but we have done too in Him as to our life and standing before God with all down here by the cross. We are baptized to His death. It is the point we come to—we are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live, but not we, but Christ lives in us. We “are dead, and” our “life is hid with Christ in God;” we are to reckon ourselves dead. Hence we say with the apostle “When we were in the flesh.” We are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of Christ dwell in us; if not, we are none of His. If we are Christians, our only true standing is in Him, as having died and risen from the dead.
I can well understand a Christian knowing only that, as a sinner, as guilty, Christ has died for Him, and so seeing what he can rely on before God as judge; and he is blessedly right. But his true standing, his place with God, is in Christ risen. “If Christ be not risen, ye are yet in your sins;” and in this is for the Christian, as quickened, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes him free. The standing and life of the Christian, as such, rests in this; for he is risen with Christ, in this place before God, not in Adam state or nature: Christ has died, the Just for the unjust, so that he is not for faith in that at all, but alive from the dead through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But, further, Christ has gone up on high, as man, into glory, and as His work was for us, righteousness must put us there. All beyond the cross is not thus meeting our responsibility, but bringing in God's purpose. The good pleasure of His will was to give us sonship with Christ, adoption and glory with Him. Yet this according to God must be in righteousness and holiness too. It is righteous, for God has been perfectly glorified in His whole being and nature by Christ on the cross. And we know the firstfruits of this in His being glorified (John 13; 17); but thus it becomes according to sovereign grace and purpose indeed, but righteous, that we should be in the glory with Him. It was free purpose, but now according to what God is, righteous, and according to His holiness too, for Christ is our life withal—not our sinful Adam one—a nature which cannot sin, for we are born of God. Thus the flesh is judged as entirely evil, and we are of God; and, through grace, according to righteousness, our standing is in Christ before Him.
The Holy Ghost the Comforter is therefore given us as soon as Christ went up on high; and thus we know not only that we are risen with Him, but that we are in Him and He in us. This sets our standing, and consciously so, through the Holy Ghost in Christ; sitting in heavenly places in Him, accepted in the Beloved: a blessed place; but this in purpose. Responsibility was there. It has been met according to God's full requirements. His resurrection is the witness of that, and so insisted on in Romans (not ascension there); so 1 Cor. 15:17. We are justified through His blood. But there was a value in Christ's work for God's own glory, His righteousness, majesty, love, truth, all He is and according to purpose. This, done for us (good and evil being known) and in the way of redemption, gives us a righteous and blessed place in perfect love in the presence of God and our Father, according to a life and nature, and in a place which Adam innocent had not at all. Our place in heaven is founded on the glorifying of God: Eph. 1 brings this fully out.
I may add collaterally that, through far inferior and national (yet divinely given) joys and promises, this is true of Israel—true, I mean, that the death of Christ has broken all relationship with God founded on flesh, or connected with their standing as heirs of promise as to it, though to secure them on a surer basis. He who was heir of the promises came, as a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers. But if Israel in the flesh was naturally heir to them, Jews by nature, He labored in vain, and spent His strength for naught and in vain. His people would have none of Him The bill of their divorcement ran thus: “Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer?” Often would He, the Jehovah of Israel, have gathered Jerusalem's children; and they would not. If they had but even now known, in the day of their visitation, the things that belonged to their peace I but now they were hid from their eyes. Not only was Israel thus shut out according to their title to the promise, but the Messiah must give up, as thus come in the flesh, all that belonged to Him as so come in the flesh, though His work was perfect and with His God. He was cut off, and had nothing (so only can Dan. 9:26 really be translated). But this, by the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God, brought Israel, like the Gentiles, under pure mercy, as the apostle teaches us in Rom. 11; and God, ever faithful to His promises, His gifts and calling without repentance on His part, accomplishes them, but in pure grace, and yet in righteousness, through Christ's dying for that nation; and the mercies of David are assured in His resurrection from the dead. They indeed will enjoy the blessings of the new covenant and all their promises down here, but through Christ's death, and based on His resurrection. But, as in a deeper and more absolute work in us, their blessings are given with the complete setting aside of all their old standing under the old covenant in flesh, and founded anew on the cross and the resurrection of Christ. But this by the bye. ( To be continued).

Life and Death

No question has ever troubled men more than this great riddle of life and death. Nor has science as yet advanced one single solution, nor ever will. The philosopher in his theories gets back to what he calls the Great First Cause, but there he stops; and the reason is plain enough, for he cannot pass outside the limit of things natural and seen, beyond which the solution of this riddle lies. True it is, that the word of God has stated the whole case and solves for believers every difficulty; but, it being “spiritually discerned,” even the wisest man, if unenlightened by the Spirit of God, cannot accept or understand its truths.
Man was formed in the strength of his manhood, nor were there any influences of decay or any signs of death upon, around, or before him. All was life. But God had proclaimed that in the day of disobedience he should “surely die (Gen. 2:17).” We know the true and awful story of the fall: indeed its sad evidences are around aria in us all to-day. But Adam did not expire at once. True it is that death set in, and that in this sense from the moment of his fall he was a dying man; but what did actually happen was that he became an outcast from the presence of God. This was “death” in a most terrible aspect. The bodily act of dying was but a small thing, compared to the spiritual death, the separation from God, which was beyond measure appalling, as it surely ends in judgment everlasting.
Till now God had provided all things and man lived but to enjoy the manifold blessings in the garden of Eden. Now, he was an outcast condemned to toil for his daily bread, and to see in the thorns and thistles, with which his own hands had to fight for the mastery of the soil, the bitter fruits of his disobedience, which called to his mind unceasingly the fact that he was mortal. Yet in the very hour of judgment came the promise of mercy (Gen. 3:15), through the Seed which should bruise the serpent's head. And it is our privilege to-day to look back over the long years and see the promise fulfilled in wonderful perfection.
Some deem it strange that throughout the Old Testament we have but three or four scriptures pointing to eternity. The most striking perhaps comes from the lips of stricken Job, whom God was schooling in adversities, for in the middle of his affliction he could cry out “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). Here then he points to One who lives untouched by the power of death, a living Redeemer, life-giving as we know as well as living.
In a later day God gave His rebellious people the choice of “life and good, and death and evil” (Deut. 30:15). I do not suppose that their choice in any way affected their allotted span of years, but it did affect their position Godward.
Life was a state of communion resulting from the obedience of faith; whereas death was the reverse.
The apostle Paul writing to the Romans tells us that “death reigned from Adam to Moses”! Did men then live from Moses onward? No! but it was through Moses that God instituted a probational order of things For at the hand of Moses came the schoolmaster or child-guide (Gal. 3:24) unto or up to Christ. Not that the law typified Christ, but that it convicted man of sin and of his need of redeeming blood.
Again through Moses, the tabernacle, pointing Christward in its every detail, was constructed. Above all through Moses came the Aaronic or mediating priesthood by which God condescended to act towards man. Again, after Passover and the Red Sea He came to dwell with men conditionally, and to commune from the mercy-seat; for men were guilty and condemned by the very giving of the law, and mercy was needed most of all. The law pointed to the need of life, and though it was in no way against the promises of God (Gal. 3:21), it could never of itself give life. As yet redemption was only in a figure; and although the new dispensation of ritual pointing at life was established, life in its true sense could not yet be said to have come to dwell with or in men.
It was the intermediate stage leading Christ-ward. The absolute reign of death was no longer in power; but the absolute reign of life was not yet established. There was still the veil of separation there; but its very texture showed that it was not forever, and behind it life was wonderfully symbolized. Over the people still hung the fear of the condemnation sounded later in the dread word “Ichabod” (1 Sam. 4:21). The glory that was with them was conditional upon their attitude. Sins under the existing state of things could never be taken away; for the very priesthood was but human, and prone as other men to fail. But this same state of things, imperfect though man had made it, pointed toward the greater future blessing. And this in all its fullness came in Christ. He came bringing life in Himself; for “in Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
Early in His ministry He proclaimed “He that believeth hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (or rather judgment), but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). He ever pressed the essential need of being born again (John 3:3), “born of the Spirit"; and to impart life to all who owned their need of it (John 10:10) was His chief mission. “The wages (though not the full wages) of sin is death” was the word of doom; not only the cutting short of man's earthly span but far more the separation from God, and this of course including corruption both spiritual and bodily, all ending in the lake of fire. “But the gift of God is eternal life (in the fullest sense) through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Here then was the One who had power to establish communion between fallen but repentant man and God; for this had been implied from the fall. So, as man came Christ Jesus the Son of God, in whom was life; and this right through from the manger to the cross, so gloriously manifested by the angel's words to the astonished but rejoicing hearers at the tomb, “He is not here, but is risen.” He, in whom was life, could not be overcome of death; but on the contrary death everywhere gave way before Him where it was felt and acknowledged.
The remission of sins was only possible by blood (Lev. 17:11, Heb. 9:22). Nor could reconciliation be accomplished without death and blood-shedding, and this not of bulls and goats “which can never take away sins.” Therefore He said, “Lo, I come... to do Thy will, O my God (Psa. 40:6);” and we know how perfectly that will was wrought out. Death was vanquished, and the grave with all its terrors was overcome by Christ alone. No longer did the veil separate man from God, for from top to bottom it was rent as by God's own hand. The way into the holiest was made open (Heb. 10:19, 20) to all believers through the blood of Christ. The separation from God and from His unhindered blessings which resulted from Adam's sin, was now in the second Adam removed. A direct means of communion with God was now open to all men by faith. No longer was the entry into the holiest the prerogative of a high priest, but all that believe from every nation under heaven were called into its holy blessings (Rom. 5:2, 18).
Now the “free gift” was offered to all (through the perfection of the work of Christ) conditional upon nothing but man's confession of his need; and acceptance of Him “Eternal life” is the knowledge of God and of His Son (John 17:3). Without such a personal and individual appropriation of this actual communion with God, the life was unattained and unattainable. It could not come by rite or ceremony at the hands of men. It comes solely through the agency of the Holy Spirit, convicting of sin and pointing to Christ the Son of God and the Son of Man as having atoned for sins upon the cross.
Are we then as well off as Adam before the fall? Surely incomparably better! for we have promises of glory (1 Cor. 6:3; 1 John 3:2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10) which Adam never knew. We have “eternal life” (1 John 5:13), and we know it now, communion with God by the indwelling Spirit; and “life everlasting in the world (age) to come” (Luke 18:30), with the cheering and splendid assurance that nothing can separate us from these blessings (Rom. 8:39). The legacy of Christ was a promise fulfilled at Pentecost, and as true to-day as then, God dwelling in and with man by the Holy Spirit through redemption (John 14:16; Rom. 8:16; Acts 7:48 Cor. 6:19). Thenceforth for us was to be no temple of God built with hands, but the individual believer became ipso facto, consequent on the redemption that is in Christ, the temple of God Himself; as also is the church or assembly of God (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:16). Such a state of blessing can be arrived at solely by faith in God and His Word.
The fall with its resultant separation from God, expressed in death now and judgment to come, must be acknowledged and confessed, not only for the race but individually; and God's reconciliation by Christ's work, together with the gift of eternal life, must now be accepted as the only way to God. He who is that life Himself died to give us life, was forsaken that we might be made nigh, and told us that He alone is “the way.” Moreover He has told us that none can come to the Father but by Him. He has told us too (can we praise Him sufficiently for it?) that whosoever cometh to Him He will in no wise cast out (John 6:37). L. L.

2 Peter 1:1

The first notable trait in this Epistle is that the writer not only repeats the new name Christ gave him (Matt. 16:18) with his apostolic office, but adds his old one, object of divine mercy, with the confession of absolute subjection to his Master conveyed in “bondman.” Paul loved so to call himself, and Jude, and John. The Lord Jesus had drawn it out of that shame and degradation which only it could have in the estimate of the first man, and had invested it in His own person, when the Word became flesh, with all that is right and lovely and devoted in the sight of God and to the faith of those who have communion with Him.
For who such a bondman as He who, being originally in the form of God, counted it not an object for grasping to be on equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking a bondman's form, becoming in likeness of men; and being found in figure as man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even to death, yea death of the cross? Nor did it stop there; for He gave before His departure the beautiful pledge of carrying on in heaven the lowliest service of washing the feet of His own, as the Advocate with the Father. Nor did this satisfy His love; for He also intimated that, when those bondmen of His, whom at His coming He shall find watching with girded loins and burning lamps, are thenceforward blessed on high at His coming again, He will gird Himself, and make them recline at table and come forth and serve them. Nay, when He shall deliver up the kingdom to the God and Father, all things having been subjected to Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subjected to Him that subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all. As He will never cease to be man, He will abide throughout eternity bondman, without derogating from that deity which He ever shares as Son equally with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It is Christ who alone gives us the full truth, and so of bondman as of all else. It is in an evil world, the place of active and suffering divine love which He loved so well that He will never give it up.
The same privilege and duty of love the Lord laid on His disciples, as we read repeatedly in all the Gospels, and in varying form. Let it suffice to quote what Luke (22) gives us at the last Supper; for he it is who brings together the deepest moral contrasts, if to man's shame, for the believer's profit, and above all to Christ's glory. “And they began to question together among themselves which of them it could be who was to do this [i.e., give Him up]. And there arose also a strife among them which of them should be accounted to be greatest. And he said to them, The kings of the nations have rule over them, and those that exercise authority over them are called benefactors. Ye however [shall be] not thus; but let the greater among you be as the younger, and the leader as he that serveth. For which [is] greater, he that reclineth at table, or he that serveth? [Is] not he that reclineth? But I am in the midst of you as he that serveth?”
The apostles by grace were enabled to make His bondman character their own. O what a contrast with His servants too soon, and ever since, especially with such as claimed to have the succession, though by no means confined to them! It is no doubt a hollow name of pride where taken up in word only; but what is comparable with it when in power? To be somebody is the desire of fallen man, the world's spirit; to give up all in love and obedience is Christ's, who alone really had all things. It is our pattern now. Greatness according to Him is to be a true servant; and to be chief is to be a slave, as He became, who not only served every need, but gave His life a ransom for many, His peculiar glory.
Peter therefore in his later Epistle, while he does not hide his Jewish name of nature with all its failure, puts forward before his apostolic title that lovely name of “bondman”; which more than ever shone in his eyes, so needful and good for the saints to ponder, delight in, and appropriate.
“Simon Peter, bondman and apostle of Jesus Christ to them that obtained like precious faith with us in virtue of [the] righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (ver. 1).
“Bondman and apostle of Jesus Christ,” he writes to the same saints as before (3:1). But the terms now employed strikingly differ, yet have they an equally appropriate application to those of the Jewish dispersion in Asia Minor, who believed in Christ. In his First Epistle he was careful to describe them as sojourners elect according to foreknowledge of God the Father by the Spirit's sanctification unto obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ. This was a pointed and elaborate contrast with their previous position as of a chosen nation to Jehovah, severed from others by the fleshly ordinance of circumcision, and held to obedience of the law under the penal sanction of the blood of victims (Ex. 24) which kept death before them if guilty of transgression. Here in the Second Epistle they are said to have obtained like precious faith with the apostle and his brethren and theirs, in virtue of their God and Savior Jesus Christ's righteousness.
“Like precious faith” raises no question of measure of faith in those who believe, but asserts that what is believed is equally precious for the simplest Christian as for an apostle, in its source, agent, object, and result. It is that full revelation of God in Christ, and not merely from God as had been from the first.
There is however a remarkable expression that follows, differing wholly from “the righteousness of God” as used by our Lord in Matt. 5:33, as this does from its use by the apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans and elsewhere. Yet one is as true as the others, and all are in harmony as alike from God. It is therefore of interest and moment to distinguish them, whilst they all three agree in meaning God's moral consistency with Himself in varying aspects. In the First Gospel the disciple is enjoined to seek first, not the supply of our natural wants for which we may count on our Father's care, but “the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” This was then revealed in Christ, God's power and authority supreme, and in all goodness but consistency with Himself. To this the new nature responds in subjection and love; and this the disciples were to seek first, assured that He would see to all their need. But there is not a word about redemption, or saving lost sinners, but saints answering to what the Christ brought out to faith in Himself and His teaching.
Again, in Rom. 1; 3; 8; 10:4, we have the gospel of God based on the work of Christ, and sent out to all mankind on the very ground that they are lost. It is therefore a righteousness that justifies the sinner through the faith of Christ; God's righteousness grounded on His redemption, not man's, so that he, believing His witness to Christ, is justified by Christ's death and resurrection. God can afford through the Savior to bless him, whatever may have been his ungodliness, according to His cleansing blood and risen power.
But in our text it is not the believer obtaining God's righteousness through faith, but obtaining faith by the righteousness of their God and Savior Jesus Christ: a quite different truth, and peculiar to the remnant which God ever has in Israel. Branches may be and are broken off, but some, not all. There are ever the elect that obtain, while the rest are blinded; so it is at the present time, and so it was of old. They only of all men have this privilege, a remnant according to the election of grace. Of no other nation can it be predicated. As theirs were the fathers, so still better the promises. Accordingly the apostle here attributes their receiving Like precious faith to the righteousness of Jehovah-Messiah, Jesus their Savior and God. He at least was faithful to the promise, and in virtue of it they were given to believe, no less than the apostle and the saints in Jerusalem. So Peter had preached on the day of Pentecost; “for to you is the promise and to your children, and to all afar off, as many as Jehovah our God may call.” Them too He called, and they by grace believed; but it was in His righteousness— “our God and Savior Jesus Christ's.”


“The Historical N.T., being the Literature of the N.T. arranged in the order of its literary growth and according to the dates of the documents: a new translation, edited with prolegomena, &c. by James Moffatt, B.D. Second and revised edition. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 38, George Street, 1901.”
The very title of this humanitarian book will suffice to reveal its unbelieving character to men of faith. Nor need it surprise any to read from the start extracts from Martineau, Westphal, and Goethe, occupying page 5 It is the “historical” method of neology, applied by Dr. Driver to the O.T., and here to the N. T. Under cover of a literary investigation the enemy seeks to undermine and overthrow its divine authority. “The enemy,” one says; for we need not impute such a consciously sinister design to the author. God in any reality is excluded from the N. T. as from the Old. Man takes His place with entire self-sufficiency.
The work is avowedly “a pioneering edition.” For the modern research, chiefly German, pushed forward of late by British and American disciples, is not at all satisfied. Nor will the impulse let them rest, till “the apostasy first come, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,” as the apostle warned at an early day. Development is the key-note, whether for Christianity, or the testimony of apostles and prophets in what is commonly styled the New Testament. Were God in Christ frankly acknowledged to be its author, whatever the instruments to do His work according to His own perfection, such an idea as development must be regarded as intolerable; especially as the latest of its inspired writers takes such pains to repudiate it (1 John 1:1-4; 2:24-27; 4:1-6 John 9-11).
As yet, the historical or new critical school professes to own that the scripture conveys, contains, or represents the word of God; they deny that it is the word, while admitting that it is to be the word of God written. This admission, if it kept its promise aright, would be loyal; but to their mind it means that the writing partakes of the fallibility of the writer, instead of being the perfectly true and reliable reflex of God’s mind which admits of no question. For, it is the writing, the scripture, “every scripture,” which the apostle declares to be God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). The issue, for the pioneer at the present juncture, is that the bulk of Paul’s Epistles appeared first, from those to the Thessalonians to the Colossians and Philemon; then came 1 Peter; after it the Synoptic Gospels, Mark first (save 16:9, &c.); then the Epistle to the Hebrews; afterward Luke’s Gospel and Acts next; then the absurdity of the Apocalypse of John, before his Gospel, the Epistles 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, being attributed to another John! The Pastoral Epistles are supposed to follow long after Paul by his scholars! 1 and 2 Timotheus, with Titus, before 1 Timothy!! After these came the Epistle of James, then of Jude, and lastly of 2 Peter (“during the course of the second century, and probably in its first half”), the fragment of Mark being added before the Pastorals. This bold tampering may be illustrated by the effort to turn Ro. 16:1-20 into a note to Ephesians, and 2 Cor. 10-13:10 into an intermediate letter. Who can set bounds to the mania of speculation? Lachmann’s pranks were bad enough, however clever, on the Iliad of Homer; but how sinful the profanity in dealing with scripture, and how mischievous to all who are proud of such cobwebs!
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Scripture Queries and Answers: There Go the Ships; A Gloss, or of God?

Q.-Psa. 104:26. Does it not seem remarkable that the Psalmist, in the midst of the rehearsal of the works of God, should introduce a work of man 9— “There go the ships.” Is there just ground for the supposition that by ships are intended fleets of the little nautilus (“which spread their thin oar and catch the driving gale”), creatures of God? Vers. 27-29 seem to exclude the idea of ships being meant. C.J.D.
A.-No doubt the allusion to “the ships” in ver. 26 is a singular and notable introduction, between the marine creatures small and great before, and the one specified after. But the reference has all the more force. The ships glided majestically, and are ever an object of interest to the observer; while the bulky creatures that played within its waters did not escape notice, though not so continuously. “Moving things countless” naturally led from living creatures of the deep to the ships which made their way visibly across the sea. Even they for the purposes of those concerned (and how wide these interests all over the world!) were as dependent on God's care as any of its objects which the Psalm contemplates from the heavens, and the earth, the mountains, the valleys, the springs, the grass and the herb, the wine, oil, and bread, the birds and the wild-goats, the sun and the moon, the monarch of wild beasts and the monarch of creation, before the great and wide sea comes before us.
On the other hand the Nautilus, interesting as it is, presents no such conspicuous object on the sea. Here and there it may abound as in the warm waters of the Pacific and the Australian Oceans, and off the coasts of Asia and Africa and some of their islands. But even so they make no show on the smallest scale comparable to “the ships;” they are as a snail on land compared with the house of man. So rare was the sight of one at sea, that the scientists say “the recovery of this interesting animal was reserved for a British voyager (Mr. G. Bennett, who describes its capture on 24 Aug., 1829, in his “Wanderings in N.S. Wales,” &c) It struck them as “like a small dead tortoise-shell cat”; and this being so unusual a sight there led to the sending the boat, alongside at the time, to ascertain its nature. Is it conceivable that genus Nautilus of the first Fam. Nautilidae, of Order B. Tentaculifera of D'Orbigny [Prof. Owen's Tetrabranchiata] of the Cephalopoda, should be here meant? “The ships” are an exception, but one so graphic as to fall naturally into this wonderful picture around man as its center according to God: no sufficient reason appears to warrant their exclusion.
Q.—John 8:1-11. Is this story a gloss, as so many of the learned reckon, or is it of God? L. L.
A.-When celibacy was an idol, we can understand how unacceptable were the Lord's words. Even Augustine attributed its omission to infirm or no faith. Yet bearing in mind that our earliest copies are of that age, we see marks proving a willful omission, with ample testimony to its existence. But the Christian can recognize the Shepherd's voice, such as no forger ever invented, and can note that the fact supplies the occasion for the discourse that follows, as in chaps. 4; 5; 6, which otherwise would deprive chap. 8 of its analogous starting-point. Beyond just question it is of God.
Q.-Does not ξύλον, tree, and σταυρὸς, imply not the traditional form of a cross, but rather a pole or stake? L. L.
A. The “tree” was rather generic; and even the Jews used it as a sign of curse and degradation, after killing the evil-doer. The “cross,” as more specific, sometimes applied to impaling, at others to suspending the body from the middle, but still more widely to proper crucifixion by nailing the sufferer to an upright beam with a transverse to which the stretched arms were fastened. So the inspired description proves it was in our Lord's case; where there was also an elongation of the central board, bearing over the head the memorable words which Pilate wrote to the dire offense of the Jews. Its form then resembled, not an X as some fancy, but a T with that headpiece surmounting the center of the cross-beam, pretty near what is generally conceived.


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Joseph: 3. And His Brethren

The dreams of Joseph were God-sent, and as real in the event, as realities of others are but day-dreams. And what a mercy it was for his half-brothers, who were not in heart brothers, that their cruel purpose took effect but in part, and was turned in divine goodness, wisdom, and power to bring about the elevation which they hated as much as they envied. Cain-like their intent was to slay their brother. And wherefore? Because, at the bottom of all, their works were evil, and their brother's righteous.
“And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. And when they saw him afar off, and before he came near to them, they conspired against him to put him to death. And they said one to another, Behold, there cometh that master of dreams! And now come and let us kill him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say, An evil beast devoured him; and we will see what becometh of his dreams. And Reuben heard, and delivered him out of their hands, and said, Let us not take his life. And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood; cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness; and lay no hand on him (in order that he might deliver him out of their hand, to bring him again to his father). And it came to pass, when Joseph came to his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of the colors that [was] on him; and they took him and cast him into the pit. And the pit was empty: no water [was] in it. And they sat down to eat bread; and they lifted up their eyes and looked; and, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, and their camels bearing tragacanth and balsam and ladanum, going to carry [it] down to Egypt. And Judah said to his brethren, What profit [is it] if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he [is] our brother, our flesh. And his brethren hearkened. And Midianitish men, merchants, passed by; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty [pieces] of silver, who brought Joseph into Egypt. And Reuben returned to the pit, and, behold, Joseph [was] not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned to his brethren and said, The child [is] not; and I, whither shall I go? And they took the coat of Joseph, and killed a buck of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; and they sent the coat of the colors, and had [it] brought to their father, and said, This we have found; discern now whether it [is] thy son's coat or not. And he discerned it, and said, My son's coat! an evil beast hath devoured him. Surely torn in pieces is Joseph! And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, For I will go down to my son mourning to Sheol. Thus for him wept his father. And the Midianites sold him into Egypt to Potiphar, a chamberlain [lit. eunuch] of Pharaoh, captain of the executioners (or, lifeguard)” (vers. 17-36).
Such is the simple but most touching account Moses was inspired to give of the atrocious wickedness on the part of Joseph's brothers, heads though they were of the tribes of Israel. Who but God would have told the tale, with whatever difference in Reuben and Judah? How evident that in Jehovah alone can one boast, and that the objects of His choice are in themselves nothing and worse than nothing! Yet in the midst of heartlessness toward the guiltless sufferer and the father who had sent him in love rises the foreshadow of Him that should come, a greater infinitely than Joseph. He too was the Beloved of His Father, and sent as Son of man in quest of the lost. It was His to arouse the enmity of His brethren after the flesh and beyond all as the Faithful Witness who drew out man's evil by divine good, and in all things pleased God the Father.
But in how many soever ways of love, enough was done and is written to show how the Holy One of God was before His eyes who knows how to effectuate His deliberate counsel and foreknowledge, not only in spite but by means of the apostate unbelief of the Jews, and of the hands of lawless Gentiles, in their blind pride alike knowing not what they did, yet knowing more than enough to make both utterly inexcusable. O what a Father! O what a Son, given up by His brethren after the flesh, Messiah and withal Jehovah, ready to die for their sins, as none other could or would! For His price too was silver paid, as in the case of another Judah: a goodly valuation for the Lord of all! O what is man, be he Jew or Gentile! and what is God but the God of all grace! And what Jesus, full of grace and truth, who if He drew out by His perfection, as God to man and as man to God, the causeless and uttermost evil of man as a whole, died as the efficacious propitiation to purge every sin in those who repent and believe the gospel of God in His Son's death!
Nor is it only that peace was made through the blood of Christ's cross for believers who once were alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works, yet now reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, by which and nothing less it could be. But in virtue of the same death He will at His appearing reconcile all things, whether the things on the earth or the things in the heaven. God's blessed work of gathering out His heirs, the joint-heirs with Christ, to reign with Him in that day must first be completed. Then man's and Satan's accursed work of the apostasy and of the man of sin, the spurious Messiah set up in God's temple and worshipped as God by Jews and Gentiles, will bring down summary judgment by the appearing of His coming. But the manifestation of the Son of God, and of the sons of God in the same glory, is followed by the deliverance of the whole creation that now groans together and travails in pain together unto now. The work that followed Joseph's elevation over Egypt, so striking for its beneficence not only to the heathen but to all the Israel of that day, how small in comparison of a deliverance worthy of His person and of His reconciling work wrought in the cross, wherein God was glorified even as to sin forever; for there met face to face man's sin in its height and God's love in its depth! But where sin abounded, grace more exceeded; and God could send His glad tidings, yea His best, to the worst of men, “beginning,” as the Lord Jesus told them, “with Jerusalem.”

God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the Sheaf of Firstfruits

This sheaf is most important, and fraught with deep instruction, as the antitype with its application declares and teaches. Jehovah's command was, “When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before Jehovah, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it” (vers. 10, 11). Evidently the wave sheaf is in character with all the fruits of the land, to be offered by Israel, as enjoined in Deut. 26. All necessitated being in Canaan, and to reap the produce of the land, so as to offer the firstfruits to Jehovah Who had pledged Himself to Moses in Exodus not only to deliver them from Egyptian bondage, but to bring them “unto a land, flowing with milk and honey”: “a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of oil olive and honey, a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness.” It cannot be surprising that Jehovah's claims should so fully and distinctly be stated, and that with holy jealousy of being first. Whether corn, fruit, or any produce of the newly possessed land, He who gave it was to have the firstfruits, which should ever keep their hearts in the conscious sense, and becoming gratitude toward the Divine Giver. That which comes from God should return to Him, in the supreme blessedness, not only of being worthy to receive the firstfruits, but as the source, of every good and perfect gift.
How far Israel answered to the claims and privilege, their history in sin and disobedience too plainly declared. They forgot Jehovah their God, and neglected His ordinances, which involved His righteous judgment, in the loss of the fruit of their land; and finally of the land itself.
Infinite the wisdom of divine purpose, and marvelous the grace, that the antitype was the reserve, to make good what Israel's passover shadowed forth, as already seen in the death of Christ. It will also appear that Jehovah's appointed sheaf of firstfruits finds its alone antitype in Christ Himself, in whom God has found His blessed portion, as the Firstfruits of the new creation, where all is of God. If Christ, as the true Paschal Lamb, laid the foundation in His death for the glory of God, is it not in Christ risen up from among the dead, that God displays His righteousness in power and glory? Therein also, Christ is emphatically declared to be the antitype as the Firstfruits in resurrection. Corn is a significant figure, being used by the Lord Himself, which as the sower He sowed to produce the wheat, to be duly reaped for the heavenly granary. In John 12 He unmistakably refers to Himself when answering Philip concerning the Greeks wishing to see Jesus. What was then before Him was the solemn moment of His cross and death, when He must be alone with God: for He, the corn of wheat, must die, if others were to be associated with Him, which He most definitely states. “Verily verily, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
This fact of itself is the death-blow to the propounders of the erroneous teaching of union with Christ incarnate. For clearly He was alone in His pure, holy, spotless life, as He was in death; where His absorbing desire was that the Father's Name might be glorified, as the Father would glorify Him. Yea, the corn of wheat dying points not only to the death of the cross, where all man's need, even to his moral end, was met, but to the believer's sad history forever closed for faith. Not this only but it was the direct highway for Christ to become the Firstfruits, and the antitype of the true wave-sheaf presented to Jehovah, to which is added “to be accepted for you.”
The Lord's disciples were unconscious when eating the last Passover with Him (Luke 22) that He was then to become the antitype, as also they were ignorant respecting His resurrection as the Firstfruits; although He had plainly told them, that the Third day He would rise again, thus fulfilling the type of the morrow after—the Sabbath. Very early in the morning of what would henceforth be called the Lord's Day, the loved ones ignorantly brought spices to embalm their Lord; but they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher, and they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. At the tomb they were challenged, if not rebuked, by angelic voices saying, “Why seek ye the living one among the dead. He is not here but is risen.” The amazing truth, that He who died and was buried had become the Firstfruits in the field of resurrection life, was the living proof that all was over as to the cross and the grave; and that Christ the Firstfruits from the dead, had once and forever triumphed over sin and Satan, death and the grave. Though Mary Magdalene vainly waited at the grave, hoping to find the dead body of her Lord, yet her devoted heart was rewarded by being the first to behold her risen Lord and Savior, though not to handle or have Him as heretofore.
Is it not a touching intimation, and precious aspect of the presented wave-sheaf? The Lord in following Mary's confession as Master, said “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father” (adding also the truth of association with Himself as the fruit of His death). “But go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.” Not only was it the ascending to the Father after the Lamb was slain, but all the Father's will in life and in death had been fully completed, so that He was raised by the power of God as by the glory of the Father. Thus is He presented as the Wave-sheaf no less in and by whom His brethren are set apart and accepted. The application to Christ the Firstfruits is most positive in 1 Cor. 15 and also to His own as associated with Him. Therefore is it that the dead in Christ who have fallen asleep would be raised, and with the living be changed into His image. For the divinely appointed order is “Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.”
“And in the day when ye wave the sheaf, ye shall offer a he-lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt-offering unto Jehovah. And the meal-offering thereof [shall be] two tenths of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto Jehovah [for] a sweet savor: and the drink-offering thereof [shall be] of wine, the fourth of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor fresh ears, until this selfsame day, until ye have brought the oblation of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings” (vers. 12-14).
Thus the type is established in its true dignity in the risen Lord, with its presentation, acceptance and divine application; not omitting the accompanying sacrifice of the Burnt-offering, the Meal-offering, and Drink-offering. Such must be offered and accepted with the Wave-sheaf, before Israel could eat of the corn of the land, declaring beyond mistake Jehovah's claim and portion first, which in the antitype is blessed and important. To whom should the Lord present Himself, but to His God and Father who gave Him? “I came forth from the Father into the world; again I leave the world and go unto the Father.” In the significant space of His life and death is accomplished the whole will of God. Who could estimate all His devotion expressed in the Burnt-offering, and the Meal-offering, as the one to whom it was rendered? with the Drink-offering in the joy and delight He had in doing it? Blessed be God the acceptance and estimate rested with Him; not on the one hand with angels, nor on the other with those who share the eternal benefits of the Wave-sheaf and the varied offerings, though it will be the theme and adoration of the redeemed throughout eternity. But God has His own delight and satisfaction in the Son Himself, and in all that He has done.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 3. The Land and Jehovah's Earthly Purpose - the Sabbath Year

1. the Sabbath Year: Lev. 25:1-7.
The Feasts had given the entire circle of divine purpose and ways leading up to its effectuation, etc. (chap. 23). Chap. 24 presents, in a remarkable and concise twofold, the unfailing priestly light in the Sanctuary, whatever the darkness of Israel might be temporarily to their shame because of their rebellion and blasphemy of His Name. This is vividly set forth in the fruit of a mixed marriage in the same chapter and its unsparing doom. Now follows, in a seventh sabbatic year, and the jubilee when seven sevens of years pass, Jehovah's pledge that His mercy endures forever, and this for His land, for His people; as it is written in Deut. 32:43, “For He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful to His land, to His people.”
Jehovah means to bless all families of the earth in Abraham, and in his seed, the true (not the figurative) Son dead and risen; and so the apostle could justify, by its first clause, the gospel to every creature, and those that believe of the Gentiles, rejoicing with the Israel of God, all such fleshly distinction gone in the church. But the fulfillment for Israel, and the nations as a whole awaits the day of Jehovah; when after overwhelming judgments on both, and on apostate Christendom most of all, the Crucified, Jah the Savior, shall reign over all the earth. In that day shall there be one Jehovah, and His name one, all idols consigned to the moles and to the bats. Yet though mercy will surely bless the nations, even Egypt the old oppressor and Assyria that punished them for their idolatry, Israel shall still be expressly Jehovah's inheritance. No other is holy and pleasant here below. By the Christians, during Israel's night, as for the faithful elders, is seen a better land, that is, a heavenly, and not as by them afar off, but themselves brought nigh and lit up with the light of Christ, their life, known far more fully by sovereign grace. How can any, with the N. T. and the Holy Spirit as now given, doubt it for a moment? No wonder that such children are gloomy, under notions so defective (to say the least), and occupied overmuch with creature evil, to the loss of the spiritual good to be enjoyed; for whatever the reproach and the suffering, we more than conquer through Him that loved us.
The Jews are exiles again, and far longer the time required for their blind hatred of their, of Jehovah's, Messiah. But they shall yet sing, “His foundation is in the mountains of holiness. Jehovah loveth the gates of Zion more than all the tabernacles of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.” At that very time God will have visited the judgments of saints and apostles and prophets on the corrupt city of confusion, which has so long dazzled the eyes of the superstitious as the false eternal, doomed to God's burning, the smoke of which is to go up to the ages of ages, when the earth as well as the heavens rejoice. Neither London nor Paris, neither Berlin nor Vienna nor yet Moscow, has the smallest claim to a sacred title. It is quite easy to understand that successful merchants, soldiers, and scientists think otherwise; but what is the worth of any opinion of man? The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God abides forever. And the Christian can say so with an emphasis and joy unknown as yet to the Jew, if he but know his calling upwards, waiting for the Lord to receive him to Himself for heavenly glory as well as reigning over the earth in that day.
“And Jehovah spoke to Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When ye come into the land that I will give you, the land shall keep a sabbath to Jehovah. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years shalt thou prune thy vineyard, and gather in the produce thereof; but in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest for the land, a sabbath to Jehovah. Thy field thou shalt not sow, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of itself of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, and the grapes of thine undressed vines thou shalt not gather: a year of rest shall it be for the land. And the sabbath of the land shall be for food for you; for thee, and for thy bondman, and for thy handmaid, and for thy hired servant, and for him that dwelleth as a sojourner with thee, and for thy cattle, and for the beasts that [are] in thy land: all the produce thereof, it shall be for your food.”
Now here was to worldly ears the strangest edict ever imposed on a people. Nebuchadnezzar, despotic as he was, could not dare to issue it; nor Cyrus the Persian, nor Alexander. Julius Caesar or his imperial nephew would have counted it stark madness. Jehovah laid it down as a matter of course for a people separated to Himself; and this early in their wilderness history. For it is intimated that He spoke it to Moses in mount Sinai, whence they moved early in the second year; as then He told them of their coming to the promised land, though many years through their sinful folly must pass till the rebellious generation was followed by another one. He knew the end from the beginning, and has communicated to His own what was good for them to know, let the miscalled higher critics revile as they may. Nor did Jehovah ever fail to make good the extraordinary means He adopted, as explained in vers. 21, 22. He gave them, while Israel obeyed, the produce of three years on every sixth year, to carry over not that year only but the sabbatic and the eighth, when they sowed and waited for its harvest. It was therefore a constant exertion of divine power and goodness to a people whom He thus encouraged to trust and honor Him. But Israel soon became restive under His control and authority, and contrived to be “like all the nations,” growing mad on strange gods beyond any. Retrograding they violated the Covenant, and made it impossible for Jehovah to perform His wondrous part, unless He consented to His own dishonor.
The Sabbath had a great and holy interest from the beginning. It was God's rest from creating to make; but man sinned and failed to enter. It reappeared in His dealings of grace before Israel reached Sinai, when it was marked out after the manna was given, type of rest after the living bread from heaven. But Israel liked not that bread of God, and lusted after flesh, confiding in human ability to keep the law which embodied the Sabbath as a divine command. It became a sign to Israel, a sign of God: rest to faith, when God introduced any new principle in the great book of redemption, Exodus. But Israel despised and ignored His sabbaths, though every week closed with one, and the first month had an added one to which Messiah's death lent a most solemn import, with the sevens till Pentecost; and the seventh month more openly still, with its Day of Atonement, and its Feast of Booths, with its first day and eighth extraordinarily. But the sabbath year was the same writ large to be read and seen by all men. It brought into prominence the land: “a year of rest for the land,” of which Jehovah was landlord, and Israel His tenants at will.
O that His people had hearkened, and Israel had walked in His ways! But they would none of Him to their own ruin, to this day even worse than of old, but not forever. No: the land is His, and He will give it again to them, no longer on the condition of their faithfulness to Him but of His to them in mercy; when they are brought down truly to feel that mercy alone suits either their sin and ruin, or His grace and truth as their Savior God. God's rights remain to faith when man, yea the chosen nation, sinned away all pretension to right on their part. It is true that an unparalleled tribulation must be the last chapter of the Jew without the true God and His Anointed, alas! under the antichrist, the man of sin, “the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jer. 30:7). Yes, Jehovah will be merciful to His land, to His people.
The sabbath year was also marked by the liberation of a brother who had become a bondman to an Israelite; for what anomalies might not be till Messiah come and reign over them? But even during the day of evil through one man's weakness or fault, and another man's availing himself of it for his selfishness, in that land only was the sign of the good time coming, and of Him who is competent to put down all enemies. But even now Jehovah insisted on all that heeded this law, that after six years of bondage the Hebrew slave could claim liberty. “In the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee” (Ex. 21, Deut. 15:12); and when sent free, he was not to “go away empty.” The law made nothing perfect; but it was a righteous, good, and holy check on man. It was not Christ and redemption, or the Spirit and the new man; so that neo-critics, who complain of things then as not on the Christian level, only betray their ill will and ignorance.
Again, the seventh or sabbath year was Jehovah's release for the insolvent Hebrew (Deut. 15:1-15), It is beautiful and affecting, how the lawgiver was inspired to appeal to the hearts of those who had, on behalf of the poor brother that had not. But the divine mind was clear and express in this beneficent obliteration of debts in the year when His own bounty was so conspicuous to His people, spite of sad faults.
There was the further care of His wisdom, that “at the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before Jehovah, thy God, in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing” (Deut. 31:10, 11). Thus admirably was it provided, unless rebellious wickedness hindered, that every Israelite, men, women, and children, ay, “and thy stranger that is within thy gates, should hear and observe to do all the words of this law.”
But as unbelief led to idolatry, so even before this, to profane the sabbaths of every kind, of days and years, as we find predicted in Lev. 26:14, 15, and accomplished in the carrying away to Babylon for seventy years (2 Chron. 36:20, 21). Alas! it is the old, old story of man's failure in every duty, and from the earliest; for what meant the setting up the calf of gold which Aaron made to the people's mandate, before the tables on which Jehovah deigned to write His law were brought down by Moses? These however are only the wretched ways of man; but days come, when all will be recovered by a poor and afflicted and repentant people under Messiah and the new covenant. Then will be fulfilled all the pledges of the sabbath year, and incomparably more every promise and every prediction to God's glory and the blessing of Israel and all the nations; as the heavenly saints will enjoy still higher and richer blessings with Christ above.
Here again note the testimony to Jehovah's beneficence to the humble and the needy and the stranger that sojourned with the Israelite, to their cattle, and to the very beasts in their land: none forgotten, all provided; though in the sabbath year not a field was sown nor a vineyard pruned, not a field reaped nor the grapes gathered. What a witness for God, if Israel had obeyed! But they disobeyed here as elsewhere; and were it not that Jehovah changes not, the sons of Jacob had been destroyed hopelessly. But He looked on to Messiah and His sacrificial work awaiting in the latter day their repentance in His grace. Then will He blot out their transgressions for His own sake, and will not remember their sins. Then the deaf shall hear, and the blind see. Then shall the lame leap as a hart, and the tongue sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break forth, and torrents in the desert. And the mirage shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitations of wild dogs where they lay, grass with reeds and rushes. In short, sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Proverbs 21:1-8

In Jehovah's hand is here shown to be the heart, whether of the highest or of the least; then what pleases and displeases Him, with the issues, for the evil or for the good.
“The king's heart in Jehovah's hand [is] brooks of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
Every way of a man [is] straight in his own eyes; but Jehovah weigheth the hearts.
To exercise justice and judgment [is] more acceptable to Jehovah than sacrifice.
A high look and a proud heart, the lamp (or, tillage) of the wicked [is] sin.
The thoughts (or, plans) of the diligent [tend] only to plenteousness; but every hasty one only to want.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue [is] a fleeting breath of them that seek death.
The robbery of the wicked sweepeth them away, because they refuse to do judgment.
Very crooked [is] a guilty man's way; but [as for] the pure, his work [is] right” (vers. 1-9).
Of all men a king's heart from his position and duty might instinctively seem reserved and inflexible; but who resisteth Him that secretly rules as He will, even in the worst of circumstances? He will reign righteously and for the largest blessing, when the world-kingdom is taken. But even now the king's heart is in His hand Whom he may not know or disdain. Little as he thinks it, he subserves Him, as brooks of water the man who controls every rill for his gardens, his vineyards, or his fields. It is turned as He pleases.
It is natural to man as he is to count right every way of his; but the solemn truth for every one is that Jehovah weighs, not the acts only, but the heart. All things are naked and laid bare to His eyes with whom we have to do: let us never forget it.
Unless men be reprobate, they are apt to be religious after a sort and a measure; and their sacrifices are a resource too often for indulgence in sin. The sacrifice to God who gave Christ to suffer for our sins is a wholly different matter, the resting-place of faith, and the start of holiness. To do judgment and justice flows from it, and is indeed acceptable to God if with faith; as sacrifice without faith is nauseous and presumptuous.
Haughty eyes, and a proud heart, how abhorrent to God and unbecoming in man! It is sin unequivocally; the tillage of the wicked, their business, or their glory; their lamp or sinful field. The meek shall inherit the earth; Christ's time is their time. The present is the evil age. Diligence, directed by thought or plan, tends to plenteousness; as haste destines every one that so acts only to want; for haste leads to mistake, and mistake to loss, and loss to ruin. On the other hand the getting of treasure by a tongue of falsehood, even if it succeed for a while as it may, ends in worse ruin, like the fleeting breath of those that seek death, happy neither here nor hereafter. Truly they seek death without knowing it. Others who are bolder than to deceive resort to robbery in their wickedness; because they refuse to do judgment, their end is destruction. It will drag or sweep them away whence is no return. Christ is the only true and safe way; and we can now say He, the Son, is the way to the Father. The guilty man's way is not evil only but perverse or strange; for he does not stick at anything. The pure man on the contrary is upright in his work, carrying conscience with it, and pleasing God. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.

Gospel Words: Prayer

It is the same principle with prayer as with alms. The disciple of Christ has nothing in common with the hypocrites, whatever they say or do, or do not. The Son has made known the Father's name to us, and made it known still more intimately and deeply, in association with Himself, on and since He rose from the dead. It was not only the wondrous message through Mary of Magdala, “I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God;” but that resurrection day at evening the Lord came and stood in the midst, and said to the disciples, Peace to you, showing them His hands and His side. Again He said “Peace to you: as the Father sent me forth, I also send you,” and having said this He says to them, Receive [the] Holy Spirit; whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Such is the added Christian privilege, even before the Pentecostal gift was conferred, and the special gift the apostles had as such, like prophets, teachers, &c. in their place. O what responsibility, not only to rejoice but to pray unceasingly, flows from such a relationship! and how apt are we to relax or forger! But if we are thus blessed and have in our measure and way such a mission, we have no place to covet; for we have Christ's. And we as His epistles know that we are called to walk in the faith of His grace that we may not shame Him before men. Having received His word, it is our constant call to pray, that, living in the Spirit, we may walk in the Spirit. And the Lord, alone perfect here and everywhere, impresses His principles on His own followers. He is their life in order that there might be an inward living relationship.
“But when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may appear to men. Verily I say to you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door pray to thy Father that is in secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will recompense thee.”
This secrecy is still easier, and no less essential in prayer, the most constant of all relative duties. Many saints find a great incentive with others in supplication; and this has its suited and weighty place, as the Lord elsewhere urges. But here as the habitual privilege and claim of relationship to our Father, how careful He is in bidding saints like us to “enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door pray to thy Father that is in secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will requite thee.” How delightfully simple, yet how deep and wise! It is just between the soul and God, and now His Father and our Father, as Christ knew Him and declared Him to us. Solemn and holy it is to meet our Father alone and expressly, as to everything of need, sorrow, or joy.
What a contrast with the arrangements that have prevailed in Christendom, which press formal prayers in a public building once, twice, or oftener in the day! When the Lord enjoined the united petitions as giving ground for an answer from above, it was a specific need as the context in Matt. 18 makes plain. But nothing superseded the normal habit of individual secrecy in prayer to our Father. And it will be the comforting resource of the godly remnant in days to come, as we may trust, when things arrive at such a pass that joint public prayer is impracticable. But now, when the world's feeling is too indifferent to punish or hinder open prayer, can anything give more weight when we come together in assembly than the cherishing of individual prayer in the shut chamber to our Father that sees in secret, as He will surely requite?
Now what can you say to this, dear friend as yet not born of God, but only God's offspring like the heathen Athenians or men of the world generally? Will you not own frankly that it sounds the most irksome bondage to you, and that you in no way pretend thus to live to God? Till you are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, knowing your sins blotted out by His blood, and yourselves brought nigh to God, you cannot freely cry, Abba Father. For mere profession, however requisite in the renewed soul, is offensive to God in those dead in sins, as we all were till we found life in Christ by faith. Then such prayer as this suits both our need and our blessing. For, though redeemed in soul, we as to our bodies await redemption at His coming, and meanwhile have to do with an evil world and a subtle foe on the watch to ensnare and defile us. Therefore do we need so to pray without ceasing.

Brief Meditation on Mark 9

The division of the Bible into chapters and verses, which is said to have been accomplished by the learned editor R. Stephens “inter equitandum,” while he was journeying from place to place, may not be ideal, and is certainly unfortunate here and there; but no one can question the felicity of the arrangement that makes Mark 9 a separate chapter. It is a perfect and majestic whole, peculiarly vivid in this the most graphic of the four Gospels. It has been called a picture of heaven, earth, and hell. It is full of divine dignity and mystery, of attractive beauty and grace too, as also of awful solemnity in the closing verses. One only shines out in His unapproachable perfection whether on the Holy Mount or on the troubled plain. Of the rest, those other than the Savior who come before us, one only wins our Lord's marked approval. It was not one of the twelve. On the contrary they were hasty to resent what they doubtless considered the irregular activity of the man who cast out demons in the Savior's name. A certain mistaken zeal for their Master very probably mingled with their motives; but they had to learn, as we have, how constantly the flesh is prone to act on the side of exclusiveness or of license. And who may presume to say which is the graver fault always?
It is interesting to note that here it is John who voices the feeling of the disciples in forbidding the man. Usually, as we know, it is Peter who is spokesman, which may have led some to overlook the energetic character of the former. The truth is that the apostle John, like all who really love much, had a very ardent and strenuous nature. No weakling was he, nor was it in words of gentle irony that our Lord called James and John “Sons of thunder.” It was well to be a Boanerges. The Lord, who had endowed them with their several ability, and given them a gift suitable to that ability, sealed it, so to speak, when (see Mark 3:17) he gave them that striking appellation. It was no word of reproach, as a well-known writer (Mark Guy Pearse) suggests. Who could thunder as Christ Himself? He always thundered at the right moment; the disciples, like ourselves, and like John on this occasion, at the wrong time. Had it been a question of the Lord's Person, had the man, instead of casting out demons in Christ's name, ascribed the Lord's expulsion of demons to Beelzebub, this had been another thing. For he that is not with Christ, where His divine glory is assailed—ay, and His human perfectness likewise—is against Him, and scatters abroad, (Matt. 12:30).
But here it was no question of disloyalty to Christ, but rather of one, who was true to the light, no doubt the growing light, he had, and who, we may confidently believe, was afterward brought into a place of greater nearness practically. But mark how no outward connection with Christ or correct ecclesiastical standing in itself conveys intelligence or place, at least until self is judged.
Often a less intelligent soul, at least one less enlightened, is the more devoted saint. It should not be so, no doubt; but there is always the danger of being puffed up by knowledge, whereas love builds up. In no wise is a slight intended on the importance of true ecclesiastical position; but it is well not to forget the privilege of owning all that is according to Christ.
Yet this is to dwell perhaps too prominently on a particular point to be in place in a brief meditation on the chapter generally. First, then we have the scene of dazzling glory to which the three chosen disciples were admitted, which they so feebly apprehended, and which so little influenced them, that not only did they subsequently grievously misapprehend the Lord's mind (ver. 38), but actually disputed one with another who should be greatest—clearly a lower descent still. How great the contrast between the Master and the disciples! The transfigured Lord in His robes of light speaks of His approaching death, of His Exodus (see Luke 9); the disciples, eager for a little brief authority, discuss who shall be leader, amid the ordinary conditions of their humanity.
But we have another picture. The Lord has come down from the mountain, and we note a circumstance recorded by Mark alone of the synoptists, “Straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him” (ver. 15). It would seem that the glory still lingered about the Lord's face. Not only is this a probable explanation of the eagerness of the crowd to approach our Lord, but it points an exquisite contrast with what occurred of old when the great Lawgiver descended from Mount Sinai. Then Moses had to veil his face. It was law, not grace; and the people, at any rate, could not look upon that searching radiance. Here they are irresistibly attracted; but what a scene for the Savior after the brief sojourn on the mount! No longer the calm intercourse of the Christ with two chosen witnesses, one of whom His own hand had buried, the other raised without dying, but a scene of dire distress. And the Savior is graciously at hand to supply the need, typical of what He will do when He ushers in the millennial day. Then His own will haply be less impotent than they showed themselves now. For, while full of their own consequence, they were powerless to heal the sufferer who had been brought to them. But the Lord is there, back again in the scene of sorrow and distress. Let us listen to the gracious words that fell on this occasion from His lips.
Evidently the father of the demoniac comes next to the man who cast out demons in Christ's name. At first it is true he seems not to have been sure if our Lord could heal his son. The case was of long standing (ver. 21), and seemed inveterate; but our Lord at once tells him that the real question is, not whether He can heal, but whether the father can believe. That was where the doubtfulness lay. Then the man makes his well-known confession. How grateful to the Lord who had just before deplored the unfaithfulness of that generation! May we not say it must have been more acutely painful to Him as just coming down from the mount of His transfiguration? For, needless to add, He estimated at its true worth the momentary interest of the multitude. He knew what was in man.
A word only on the closing verses. The most solemn words as to future punishment are the Savior's words. The thrice repeated refrain is indeed, as one has said, a “solemn dirge “ What writings of philosopher or sage can compare with these burning sentences! Then we have two verses of the deepest importance, setting forth much vital truth under symbolic terms, the fire which must salt every child of Adam, now or hereafter; the salt that typifies the preserving power of the grace that delivers and saves. R.B.

Either in Adam or in Christ? Part 3

I may add that what came on man by sin, death, as well as an awaiting judgment, Christ has truly gone down into, and broken its power for the quickened soul forever. Resurrection has told its tale, and the power of death as the dread of judgment is gone for the believer forever.
But this is not all. The Holy Ghost has been given to dwell in us, for we are cleansed. And as Christ has done that work which is the foundation of the eternal blessing of heaven and earth, so the Holy Ghost has been given to us to unite us with Christ and dwell in us, so as to set us, as in Him and He in us, in the center of the whole scene of His glory. This will be perfectly so in the ages to come. But even now, not only are we one with Him, according to Eph. 1, but the Holy Ghost is in us, and the apostle looks to our being strengthened with might by Him in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, that we may be rooted and grounded in love, and able to comprehend all the glory on every side, length and breadth and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, filled even to all the fullness of God. Thus it is we are a testimony. Thus it is that glory is to God in the church throughout all ages. Thus the way Christ the blessed Lord has perfectly glorified God Himself, on the cross in His death, brings us into that glory according to divine purpose in and with Him, and fills us with the Spirit, that we may be able to comprehend all the glory of which Christ is the center, and know the love which has made the glorious One bring us so into the center of all with Himself to whom all glory belongs (all things that the Father has are His, and we, His children, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Him)—not only bring us with Him there, but, better yet, give us Himself, and with Him a place with Him in the Father's love.
The result is this: the whole standing, condition, or estate in life of the believer is changed, not outwardly as to the body yet, as is evident, but in relation to God, and that really by a new life. He is as completely out of the old as a man is out of the life of his former state when he has died; and now he looks to live with Christ who is risen; yea, in spirit as having partaken of life from Him when risen, he can say he is risen with Him. His place before God is in Christ risen, not in Adam in the flesh. But as he is there by the death and resurrection of Christ, he is there according to the value of what He has there wrought; that is, all his sins, all he was in the first Adam, atoned for and put away totally and wholly out of God's sight. He is fit, according to God's own work and nature, for God's sight and presence. Morally he is justified before God; and, as regards God's nature and presence, he must be fitted for it to be in it. And Christ has perfectly glorified God Himself.
Harmless, holy, in love we must be to be there. Hence in Eph. 1:4 it is not said “according to the good pleasure of His will.” We must be that according to God's nature. But here, as we have seen, we cannot leave out God's purpose, if we would know His mind about us. His good pleasure was to predestinate us to the adoption of sons, and bring us in glory as such into His presence. Such was the worth of Christ's death; so did He therein glorify God, that this purpose is righteously accomplished, and He becomes our life as risen that we may have this place, and He, in unspeakable goodness, be the Firstborn among many brethren.
But there is yet more. He in an especial way loved the church, and gave Himself for it; and thus it has a place with Himself as His body and His bride, which He nourishes and cherishes, as a man would his own flesh. By the Holy Ghost, consequently given to us, we know our place thus given to us, sonship in present consciousness, the bride's relationship in divinely given knowledge. For the former ( sonship) is individual, the latter clearly not. So far we learn what closely connects itself with it, that individually we know we are in Christ and Christ in us. But we are members of His body [of His flesh, and of His bones]. We are consciously in Him in the presence of God, holy and without blame before Him in love, and the Father's children by Him: “as He is, so are we in this world.” This, according to God's purpose, is justly founded on His perfectly glorifying God in His offering of Himself. This is our place with and before God, a perfect one as and in Christ: Eph. 1 brings it most richly before us.
This is privilege, not testimony, save as all privilege rightly so acts as to produce testimony. But, besides, Christ is in us; the Holy Ghost dwells in us individually and in the assembly. And here present joy, responsibility, and testimony come in. We have fellowship ( the blessed Lord being our life) with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, that our joy may be full; we abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost; the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us. Yea, “we know that we dwell in God, and God in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.”
Our responsibility depends on this too. It is often thought that responsibility is connected with uncertainty; but it is a mistake. Responsibility is founded on the relationship we are in. If we are always in it, we are responsible to act rightly in it. My child cannot be other than my child. Hence he is always bound to act and feel as my child. Were he not in the relation, he would not; and so of others. We are not to grieve the Holy Spirit of promise by which we are sealed to the day of redemption. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost; we are not to use them for sin. We are to walk worthily of the calling wherewith we are called, in the unity of the Spirit.
Hence, when the apostle has shown the church in that unity as the dwelling-place of God, and us all heirs of glory in our position in Christ, he prays according to the riches of that glory, that we may be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith. And thus God was to be glorified in the church by Christ Jesus—this by a power that works in us. This becomes thus testimony. So the church is a testimony to principalities and powers in heavenly places. So are we called on to mortify our members on earth; to apply the cross to all the workings of flesh in us and every movement of our will; to mortify by the Spirit the deeds of the body. And the result, as in Paul, of hearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus is that the life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal body.
Thus our being in Christ is the highest possible place as to standing, and perfect. But God's dwelling in us, our being individually and collectively His habitation and temple, Christ's dwelling in our hearts by faith—here is the power of fellowship grounded on our standing. Here our responsibility, our state is tested, as compared with our standing, not to put this to doubt but to use it; here are the character, means, and way of our testimony.
We then are to reckon ourselves dead; we are not in the flesh at all, but in the Spirit; in Christ who has died, and justified us as to all we were in Adam, before God; alive to God through Him, and in Him members of His body. We are not to know ourselves as alive in the flesh, but as having died and risen again; not to know even Him after the flesh (that is, as down here connected with man and with Israel, as in the world) but as passed through death to all here, and by resurrection into glory and a new state, to begin and be the Head of a new creation, of which we are the firstfruits.
I do not pursue the consequences of this as to law, conflict, and other collateral subjects. My object was to lay the great basis of truth as to it, as Scripture states it. We must look at the atonement in all its truth to know it thoroughly. No compassionate remembrance of weakness was there, no patience with poor dust and ashes as we are. God had no need—it was not the time—to consider weakness, as if the spirits should fail before Him, and the souls which He had made. One was there who could drink the cup, made sin before Him; and all the outgoings of the divine nature against sin were let loose against sin, as such, on One able to sustain it, that sin might be put away out of God's sight according to His nature; and eternal blessing might be in righteousness before Him.
Our special place must then be sought in His purpose. The foundation in righteousness is according to His nature: not merely the putting away of the old thing, needed for God's glory as it was, rebellion, and disobedience, and sin; but Christ by glorifying God entering as man into (yea, beginning) the new thing, the fullness of which will be in eternity, and in that the First-begotten from the dead, the Head of the body, the church, and withal the Firstborn among many brethren conformed to the image of God's Son in glory.
The Lord make us to know how truly it is all new. If permitted, I may enter more specifically into the prayer of Eph. 3, and compare it with that of the first. For the present I confine myself to a skeleton of the whole subject. The reader will find the question of righteousness, and the essential character of the new thing through death and resurrection, treated of in the Epistle to the Romans; the purpose of God, our place in His presence in Christ and His dwelling in us to fill us with blessing, in Ephesians. Hence, as to doctrine, Romans does not go beyond resurrection; Ephesians goes to ascension and union. (Concluded).

2 Peter 1:2-3

“Grace to you and peace be multiplied in knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (ver. 2).
The text of the salutation in ver. 2 differs from that in the First Epistle only by the addition of the words, “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”; which reappear in its course substantially elsewhere. They are characteristic of the Second Epistle, and of great weight and worth where living faith accompanied that full knowledge.
Yet the solemn fact is shown in chap. 2:20-22 that such a full knowledge might be only in the flesh, and end in a last state worse than a first, or total ruin. So we read in Rom. 1:18 of men that hold the truth in unrighteousness: very zealous for an orthodox creed, but quite unrenewed, and hence holding fast the truth with unrighteousness. The faith, Christianity, is so rich in knowledge of the utmost interest, that the natural mind, where the conscience is not before God, nor the soul purified by obedience of the truth, may deceive itself and readily acquire much, which only puffs up, instead of building up. It is never in this case receiving the love of the truth, that they may be saved; but their mastering the truth, as they would any department of art or science, rather than being searched by truth, and subject to it, unto salvation. In a word there is no repentance Godward, but intellectualism. When Christ is the object and the life, the truth is known and loved, while it also frees from bondage of every sort to make one all the more bondman of Jesus. Thus it was that the apostle desired “grace and peace multiplied in full knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
It was of great moment for the Christian Jews to learn (and indeed it is imperfectly understood in Christendom) that, before our Lord came, the knowledge of God though true was vague, comparatively speaking. Yet all the O.T. saints looked away from themselves to Him in the sure hope of the woman's Seed to destroy the enemy. They knew Him as a faithful Creator and Preserver and Savior, and by sacrifice too. His ways with Adam and Abel, with Enoch and Noah, gave ever-increasing light; though but partial, it was blessed. To Abraham more was vouchsafed, and the name of the Almighty, as a present help in the midst of the race ripening for judgment, was no small thing. Much more became known when through Moses He gave the name of Jehovah the Eternal, as the grand national watchword to Israel His people, the security of their final and everlasting blessing on earth under His government, whatever their changes meanwhile.
But the Lord Jesus has given us the knowledge of God His Father as He knew Him, generally in the days of His flesh, fully in His resurrection and ascension, that we might know Him as His Father and our Father, His God and our God, in the new creation consequent on His atoning death. What was all before in many modes and many measures, compared with this fullness? As the “beloved” disciple says in his First Epistle (v. 20), “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” Is anything so wonderful, gracious, and practical, as the truth now made fully known? It could not be till He came who knew it Himself perfectly, and died and rose and ascended that we might be brought, as far as is possible, into His relationships, and have the Holy Spirit given to know it this day (John 14:20). Such is Christian knowledge of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As the Father is revealed, so the Son reveals, and this only in its living reality by the Holy Spirit. It is the full revelation of God, confessed in our baptism, and needed, as it ought to be enjoyed, every step of the way till our pilgrimage closes in His coming to take us on high that where He is, we also may be.
“As his divine power hath granted to us all things that [are] for life and godliness through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and excellence” (ver. 3).
Such is the apostle's testimony to the intervention of God's grace in salvation. Who knew better than the chief workman on the great Feast of Pentecost when three thousand souls were added in one day? Who could testify as he of the power of God that wrought outside to save multitudes, and against evil within judicially, and assuredly not less in the devotedness with one heart and soul to Christ in love, which rose above all selfishness? Who could speak more nearly of the miraculous energy vouchsafed in those early days when, notwithstanding the awe that reigned, the sick were even carried into the streets and laid on beds and pallets, that, as he passed by, at least his shadow might overshadow some one of them; and this not of Jerusalem alone, but from the cities round about, the sick and the possessed, who were healed everyone?
Here however he speaks only of the divine power in its ordinary but supernatural operation. It is God's prerogative to quicken souls that were dead in their offenses and sins; the Father in communion with the Son gives life. He calls out of darkness into His wonderful light—yea, makes us, once darkness, now light in the Lord; once hateful and hating, to love because He first loved us. Think, too, of the relationships He confers on the Christians, His children and sons, yea, as the First Epistle said, a holy priesthood, and a royal one. Others we might recount; for, being Christ's, all things are ours, with the Holy Spirit ever indwelling since we rested by faith on Christ's redemption, that there might be power as well as capacity. How truly His divine power hath granted all things that are for life and godliness!
Jews, we know, ask signs, Greeks seek wisdom. Never were such signs of power and of goodness as in Christ; yet the Jews rejected Him. Never was such wisdom of God as in Jesus; yet the Greeks, the world, disdained Him. Had the rulers of this world known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but none knew. They were blind in unbelief. And a new thing was brought in; not yet the expected kingdom restored to Israel in power and glory, but “some better thing” in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,” who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him. Hence, carrying out what was surprising even to the Twelve, His divine power has granted to us even now all the things that pertain unto life and godliness. For the Christian is called to the life of faith in all reverence and godly fear, as having nothing yet possessing all things, sharing now Christ's reproach, while looking at the things unseen and eternal.
Such is Christian faith, which the apostle set before these saints, once Jews, in his First Epistle; and confirms with point and solemnity in the Second against all corruption and scoffing. Therefore from the start he would establish their confidence in the provision of grace for all wants, weakness, and dangers. Even the Jews were counted Atheists, because they had no images. How much more open to the charge were Christians without visible temple, altar, or sacrifice! Yet they, and they alone, knew the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He sent. They alone had, now that Christ was on high, the other Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom the Father sent in the name of Jesus to be with them forever, and to be in them, consequent on Christ's death and their acceptance thereby.
This was but part of the “all things” His divine power has given us for life and godliness. For we have now also an entirely new revelation, fully conforming to the O.T. which they had from of old, but conveying what was now suited to God, no longer hidden in the holiest whence His people were strictly debarred, but fully manifested in Jesus, His Son yet Man, perfect God and perfect man in one person. This involved a total change for all who now believe. We have redemption through His blood, and we await His coming for redemption of the body as well as of the inheritance. We are baptized in the power of the Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks, all fleshly distinctions therein gone which were strictly maintained in the O. T. We have a great High Priest gone through the heavens as He is, Jesus the Son of God, to sympathize and intercede; and if any one have sinned, we have with the Father Him as Advocate, the Righteous One that is the propitiation for our sins. And we have a hope no less precious and high, that He is coming for us, we know not how soon, to receive us to Himself for the Father's house, as well as to display us in the same glory with Himself before the world when we shall reign with Him. Hence we need, and we have, a new and special revelation in what is called the N.T., to guide us, not of the world as Christ is not, in His path till He comes. The Gospels, the Epistles, and the Revelation furnish this perfectly by the Spirit as our guide into all the truth.
We see how carefully the apostle guards the truth from mere speculation or sentiment. Knowledge that puffs up is as far as possible from his thought, save in these who had nothing else along with their dissolute or unrighteous ways. There may be a knowledge of God and of Jesus which never rises above the human mind, leads into no communion with God, has not even moral roots in the conscience and heart, and is ever liable to heterodoxy, because it is only natural. But the knowledge which he commends to the saints is what his fellow-apostle John treats as life eternal, and he himself as the means of life and godliness; for our apostle is ever intent on practical result. For this indeed divine power cannot but be needed, as the saints are here cheered by the assurance of it.
Its working is strikingly expressed, “through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and excellence.” Man is fallen, and thus is in a condition wholly different from his first estate. Then his duty was to obey, in thanksgiving to God for all the goodness that surrounded him. But with his disobedience came ruin not only for himself but for the creation of which he was head. Departing from God, he was an exile from paradise, a sinful dying man; and so the race in and by him. All deliverance hung on Another, the woman's Seed, who crushed in heel should crush the Serpent's head; a Man, but necessarily more than man thus to deliver by the utter defeat of Satan. From that day forward faith clung to the Coming One, later called Son of God, and Son of man, Messiah, in Psalms and Prophets. But only the N.T. brings out the truth with all simplicity, clearness, and depth; and not His personal glory alone, but His reconciling work shining out in divine light.
This salvation is by God's call; and one quits self, man, the world, sins and all for the object of faith He sets before us. Hence God calls us by His own glory and excellence. It is in Christ, but it is His own glory and excellence, not ours. Instead of staying where we are, which had been quite right if sin and ruin had not come in, we turn to One in heavenly glory who here suffered for our sins, that we should be not only forgiven but with Him there; and even here and now, while we are weak indeed, to enjoy that excellence which goes out of Him to preserve and guard us in the present scene of evil. We leave all by faith for Him. Our calling is the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14); and there will the prize be. But there is He, dead and risen now; and to Him the sinner looks to be saved, for His is the power that keeps from the paths of the destroyer. He that rests where he is rests in self and sin, blinded by the enemy. The voice of Christ awakes him to his lost condition; and he, obeying the word, repenting toward God, and believing on the Lord Jesus, is called by His own glory and excellence. The Savior is there, and associates him who believes with Himself above in hope, thus separating him from the evil in him and around him.
It may help souls if we illustrate the same by the words of the apostle Paul in Rom. 3:23; especially as their sound is as familiar as the sense is not. “For all sinned, and do come short of the glory of God.” The first clause is plain; but what of the second? By sin man lost his place on earth as well as his life as it was. It became a question of meeting the glory of God, or of being cast into hell. And this is only met by the Savior and His work on the cross to fit the sinner by faith in Him for heavenly glory. Otherwise he is content with himself, neglects so great salvation, and refuses the Savior who will judge him at the last day. He verily comes short of the glory of God; whereas the believer rejoices in hope of it. Without the blood of Jesus we could not stand by faith before the glory of God; but, knowing that His blood cleanses from all sin, we are entitled there to stand in spirit even now, and thus do not come short of it. We are called by His own glory and excellence.
Justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, we repent toward God, we judge ourselves, and (instead of resting here on ourselves) we go forward in faith to Him who is at God's right hand, thereby entitled to boast, no longer in self, or man, or the world, but in hope of the glory of God. Meanwhile we are guarded in (or, by) His power through faith for the salvation even of our bodies in that day. But it is by His own (not our) excellence and glory that He called us, instead of license for ease, worldly honor, or natural enjoyment. Hence says the apostle Paul as the right experience of a Christian, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them dung, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, that which is of the law, but that which is of God by faith,” etc. “Not that I already attained, nor am already perfected, but I pursue, if also I may apprehend, seeing that also I was apprehended by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8-12). Instead of abiding as unfallen man ought in his first estate, there is but one thing, forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things before, to pursue toward the goal for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Conscience and Christ

Conscience is a law but in a figurative sense, because God has placed it as a monitor, taking care that, when sin came in, conscience should come in with it. But it is the opposite of true law, serving for those having no law (Rom. 2:14); and God describes it by man's becoming “as one of us, knowing good and evil” in himself (that is, not imposed by authority to which he had to answer as responsible). To apply such a thought to God is absurd. I could say, God is a law to Himself, just meaning He was under none, but that His own perfection made Him always act as He does. As a fact, fallen man has the knowledge of good and evil, which is not a law, even so in the sense of a rule, for it may be vitiated, as in Saul and millions else, “I thought I ought.” It is the faculty of making the difference, and holding one thing for good and another for evil, making the difference between good and evil in my mind, whatever my rule may be.
But you cannot speak of being “subject and accountable” when speaking of God. Obedience, conscience, and law, or the rule of conscience, are all distinct things. Obedience refers to authority, law to a rule imposed, conscience to my making a difference between good and evil, i.e. right and wrong, in myself, if there was no authority, no obedience, no law. For that is as God does. I have no absolute standard of right and wrong till I get the Second Man. In God I have sovereign love, learned in Christ's sacrifice, and I have a divine purity in a new nature which cannot sin. But to make a creature have the nature of the Deity as his absolute standard falsifies duty, because God, as such, cannot be in the relation man is in, and duty flows from this.
Hence when the Decalogue was given, there is no revelation of God's nature, but simply man's obligation towards God and his neighbor; and evil is already supposed as it was not before the Fall. Christianity says, “Be ye imitators of God as dear children,” when we are such, and gives Christ as the pattern—perfect as your Father,” but He is Father first. “God commendeth his love to us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In Him were the two poles of perfection: absolute self-sacrifice (not merely loving a neighbor as oneself, which is no divine perfection, and cannot be) “for us” (which is purely divine, no worthy object but divine goodness), and “to God” (which is absolute human perfection, divine indeed but still of Him a man). The law knew nothing of this, but man's duties where he was. But Christ was God manifest in flesh; and this is our pattern.
That the law is the idea of the divine image is mere nonsense; for that image is not thought of in it, but man's duties toward God and his neighbor, which in the nature of things cannot apply to God. Christianity alone has it in principle, because Christ has come, the Second man, not the first. This makes the idea false, as it falsifies the nature of law. The first Adam is the history of responsibility in man, both innocent, and a sinner; the Last Adam, the Second man, is the display of God in man, the perfectly obedient Man. He was born under law; but He was much more than that—God manifest in flesh, which is not law at all. J.N.D.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Peacock; He Who Runs May Read It

Q.-1. Job 22:30. What is the meaning of the first clause?
2. Job 39:13. Can the peacock be meant here? Q.
A.-1. There is no “island” expressed in either the Sept. or Vulgate, which removes one difficulty. But Schultens seems to have perceived first that the word so translated is a negative, as we see in Ichabod. That sense therefore is quite opposed by those two ancient versions, and it should run thus: “Him that is not guiltless shall He deliver: yea, he shall be delivered by the pureness of thy hands.”
2. The A.V. is far from a correct representation. The peacock seems first known, even to Israel in the days of Solomon, and the name is Indian Hebraized. It is the ostrich which is really in the first clause, contrasted with the stork in the second. “The wing of the ostrich flappeth joyously (or, rejoiceth): but hath she the stork's pinion and plumage?” This the Revisers considered a figure, in order perhaps to smooth the connection with what follows, and say “are her pinions and feathers kindly” (and in the margin, “like the stork's”). But assuredly the peacock is not meant here, a bird more striking for its splendid tail when expanded, which does not enter into the description given; whereas the ostrich, unlike the stork for power of flight, runs with the utmost rapidity, and is devoid of that parental fondness which characterizes the stork. The same ancient versions are vague enough.
Q.-Hab. 2:2. What is the true bearing of the last clause? There seems some confusion in the quotation of it that one almost invariably hears. Is the Synopsis or Dr. Pusey right in their view? They say that “he who runs may read it,” i.e. that it was to be written so plain as to be read by the hasty glance of one that hurried by. Is it really so? Q.
A.-There can hardly be a doubt that most versions are right, but the commentators wrong, even those who have rendered the Hebrew correctly. The translation of Isaac Leeser, generally correct, is here faulty and in accord with the common mistake, “that every man may read it fluently.” Is the misunderstanding due to the influence of popular misquotation? For the word is written plainly, not “that he who runs may read it,” but “that he who readeth it may run” —just the opposite. The inference may be merely that the reader need not stop; but may it not be the more worthy one of earnestly pursuing the work of making known the revealed purpose of Jehovah for others also to profit thereby? When the crisis comes, as we are told by another prophet, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge (surely of a spiritual and higher sort than of the stars or of the fossils, of chemistry or of electricity) shall be increased. Assuredly the need of that is as great as it is all-important.


by W. Kelly (Shortly)
THE PSALMS, a New Version, with short Notes... cloth, 2/6
LONDON: T. WESTON, Publisher, 53, Paternoster Row.

Joseph: 4. Prospered in Potiphar's House

It is not without a profoundly moral purpose that, before Joseph's history is continued, the Spirit of God, in chap. 38 discloses the debased state of Judah. We have already seen that the sensual Reuben was the only brother to show the least natural affection, or at least pity, to Joseph. It was he who suggested the pit, from which their offending brother could not escape, in order to bring him to his father again. But Judah, in Reuben's absence, took the lead in taking him out and selling him to the Ishmaelites, who in turn sold him to an Egyptian master. What a presage of Christ, suffering first from a faithless Judah; then too from the Gentile world! Divine history is as truly predictive in the types of the law as in the heart-breathing of the Psalms, or the more direct prophets. And so all must be, if scripture be God revealing His grace in Christ, His own delight, and the only salvation for wretched guilty man.
Judah, about to be not only the pre-eminently royal tribe but the progenitor of the King of kings, is to take profanely to himself a daughter of Canaan. No wonder that wickedness slew his firstborn, and infamy his brother. No wonder that the widow had no regard from the third. But how shocking her shameless and incestuous vindication of right! how self-righteous Judah's readiness to burn the mother of babes unconsciously his own, one of whom is carefully marked out in Messiah's direct line! Such is man, and such Judah; but such too is God. Where heinous sin abounded, grace much more exceeded. Let us now turn to what follows.
“And Joseph was brought down into Egypt; and Potiphar, a chamberlain of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian man, bought him of the hand of the Ishmaelites who had brought him down thither. And Jehovah was with Joseph; and he was a prosperous man, and he was in his master the Egyptian's house. And his master saw that Jehovah [was] with him, and that Jehovah made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found favor in his eyes, and served him; and he made him overseer over his house, and all [that] was his he put into his hand. And it came to pass, from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that was his, that Jehovah blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of Jehovah was on all that was his in house and in field. And he left all that [was] his in Joseph's hand, and took cognizance of nothing with him save the bread which he ate” (vers. 1-6).
Little did the Egyptian anticipate the treasure one small price brought to his house. But the explanation is not far to seek, and it makes all clear. “Jehovah was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man.” Never before was the word so emphatic. Not that Jehovah had not been with him at home or abroad hitherto. Jehovah was with him when he gained his father's confidence and love. Jehovah was with him when by his fidelity he earned the envy and hatred of his brethren. But now of him, a bondman in a strange land, it was said with marked force. Yet who but one inspired of God would have so written of one torn from his father's house, and this by his own brothers, who sold him for a slave, instead of taking his blood or leaving him to perish of hunger. But Jehovah was with him all the more because the need was greater. The favor of divine light shone on him even then; and it made him hateful in the eyes of wicked kinsmen who ought to have loved him, if they understood not but only disliked what seemed to his honor, besides the rancor for their evil report which he felt bound to carry to the father for their good.
In the Egyptian's house he recognized a new sphere of duty, and looked to Jehovah that he might serve Him and thus best serve his master. His eye was single, and the whole body full of light. Delivered from a cruel death which seemed imminent, he humbled himself under the divine hand, and sought to do diligently and conscientiously what lay before him day by day to please the Master above. Hence the prosperity that surrounded him and made him master of the situation. Never had Potiphar or any other such a slave: in him was neither self-seeking nor eye-service. “And his master saw that Jehovah was with him, and that Jehovah made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” One cannot wonder that things went wrong under such a mistress, when no Joseph was there, only the bondmen. But now there was a force for good at work with the most marked results of blessing which the discerning eye even of a heathen did not fail to see. “And Joseph found favor in his eyes, and served him.” Not heart only, but faith was in his work; and this gave a new character and power, which a shrewd master with large experience of human deceitfulness and incompetence made him appreciate all the more.
As he was faithful in the least, his master promoted him to greater tasks and much more honorable. “And he set him over his house, and all that was his he put into his hand.” This was no small sphere of service, and involved the administration of an immense establishment. For there is ground to accept the view that Potiphar had command of the White Castle at Noph (or Moph) of the prophets, the Memphis of Greeks and others of later times. But extensive, varied, and new as it was to him who had been so lately and singularly introduced, “Jehovah blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of Jehovah was on all that was his in house and in field.” For “A wise man's heart is at his right hand,” says Solomon.
At a later day, when Israel had become a kingdom and so rebelled against Jehovah that even Judah was carried into captivity to Babylon, we have like faith and allegiance to Jehovah in Daniel and his three companions. On them too for their separateness to His honor the favor of Jehovah rested; and, in a way similar to that of Joseph yet to come, Daniel rose to the highest elevation in the empire of Nebuchadnezzar, and the rest also to high honor. But they knew no such sufferings as fell to Joseph, nor were they proved in such experience of slavery from its lowest form as was his lot. For there was all the difference possible between the house of Potiphar, to say nothing of the dungeon to which he was afterward assigned, and the palace of the first Gentile world-kingdom wherein they were tried. Yet the trial of faith and its bright results were beautiful in their case as in Joseph's before he rose to his great eminence. Here it was manifest blessing in his servitude, and his master's trust at last without limit. “And he left all that was his in Joseph's hand, and took cognizance of nothing with him, save the bread which he ate.” Corruption was in that house, as it came out soon in a shameless guise; but till then “Jehovah blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake.”
How wondrous His grace then shown! how much more now, if the eye of faith were not dim!

God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the New Meal Offering of Two Wave Loaves

Lev. 23:15-22
It is clear, that the Feasts have not only their intended place with Israel, but indicate a divine order in the time when each would find its antitype to the end of all things, when all would have their holy fruit in eternal rest and glory. In this order as in all other things, how entirely everything depends on Christ, the Second man, the last Adam. The Lamb slain once for all annulled the power of death, and as the risen One He lives to die no more, has become the victorious Firstfruits as well as the real and purposed Wave-sheaf, presented to God and accepted by Him for those for whom Christ died, as was expressed in the type, “It shall be accepted for you.”
This then opens the way for the new Meal-offering, as it is written. “Ye shall then count unto you from the morning after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave-offering, seven sabbaths shall be complete; even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath, shall ye count fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meal-offering unto Jehovah. Ye shall bring out of your habitations, two wave-loaves of two tenth deals of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven: firstfruits unto Jehovah” (15-17.) The time and character of the offering, with its state, are clearly defined. Though but little is recorded of the Feast, it is implied like the Passover, that it actually took place in Jerusalem, at Pentecost, the time of the descent of the Holy Ghost, its antitype. The space of time, between this Feast and the Wave-sheaf, is definitely stated.
That Christ after the Passover or the Cross, was not seen by the world that crucified Him is clear. Nevertheless He alive again for evermore made Himself known to His disciples from time to time, during those forty days of His risen life. But seven sabbaths must be complete before this next Feast could be accomplished. Accurate indeed was the time of our God, as when the fullness of the time had come, He sent forth His Son. So in this case, when the fiftieth day set in, the Holy Spirit came to make good the new Meal-offering of two wave-loaves, composed of those hitherto His Jewish disciples attached to their Messiah for His kingdom. They had witnessed His rejection, and crucifixion, but also during forty days to their great joy, the same Jesus had been seen and heard, contemplated and handled in resurrection. Next, after tarrying ten days at Jerusalem in prayerful expectation, the promise of the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled. Not only had the wave-sheaf been presented but the risen Christ was glorified. Consequent upon it, the two wave-loaves were formed as a thing entirely new, and to occupy an unparalleled place in the ways of God on earth, which might well suggest both the number and the nature of the offering, with the exceptional fact of leaven baken in it.
The distinctive and wondrous truth at Pentecost, and still running on, is the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is forming the church as the body and bride, for the exalted heavenly Bridegroom. This, for other purposes, was not revealed when the Spirit first came. Moreover the type does not present “one body and one Spirit,” the church formed as it will be presented in glory, pure, holy and spotless, but rather taking her place in the ways of God upon earth, as a witness to her being associated with a heavenly Christ, and to reflect Himself during the hour of His absence. For its fellowship in the breaking of bread in the expression that was to be of the one body, the Lord had provided the one loaf. The new Meal-offering evidently means those that are Christ's now gathered upon earth; where though having life in Christ risen, and being indwell by the Holy Spirit, yet leaven, typical of sin, remained in them. For while the flesh is condemned and gone in Christ made sin for us (Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21) before God, still it remains in the believer though he is bound not to allow its activity. The same Spirit, that presents the two wave-loaves with the leaven is the power to give superiority over the flesh, the world, and Satan. Notice that the type says “baken leaven,” implying that, though there, it was not to work. Alas! it did so very early in the church's history to the dishonor of the Lord and the grief of the abiding Spirit. Yet the new oblation was to be of two tenth deals of “fine flour”; and “they are the firstfruits unto Jehovah,” manifesting how intimately the newly formed association was by the Spirit bound up in life and acceptance with Christ the Firstfruits. So the apostle John declares of all Christians, “As he (Christ) is, so are we in this world,” whilst awaiting His full likeness at His coming. Then the leaven within will be completely gone, to the eternal praise of Him who died for that holy and blessed end. Meanwhile, the accompanying sacrifices to be offered shed their light and beauty, for acceptance and joy as well as for answer to the leaven within for unhindered communion. With the Wave-sheaf were only sweet savor sacrifices, as was due to Christ alone. Here were the same, fuller for the need; but as with the First-fruits, wherein was signified, the savor of Christ's perfect obedience in life and death; so here no less associated with the presentation of the wave-loaves. Thus is shown how blessedly God's estimate and Christ's savor would rest upon the new Meal-offerings, together with the Drink-offering that testifies to the joy in the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams; they shall be a burnt-offering to Jehovah with their meal-offering and their drink-offerings, an offering made by fire of sweet savor unto Jehovah. Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin-offering and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace-offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits, a wave-offering before Jehovah with the two lambs: they shall be holy to Jehovah for the priest. And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, [that] it may be a holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work: a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations” (vers. 18-21).
But in contrast with the Wave-sheaf type of the risen Christ were the sin-offering and the two lambs for a sacrifice of fellowship or peace-offerings. Thus, however blessed the church may be, was expressed the infinite and essential distinction of Christ. In the sin-offering the baken leaven was adequately met, and the basis for the blessed privilege of communion, was laid by the peace-offering. Whether acceptance or the joy of communion and no less divine testimony, all awaited the descent of the Holy Spirit, to be made good by the antitypical wave-loaves. This was largely displayed in Acts 2, both in communion, and testimony, when the bonds of unity and oneness gave witness to its precious fruit.
It was then that outside testimony brought in three thousand souls, and inside “they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and the prayers.” A new thing indeed in the ways of God on earth, still in principle going on by the Holy Spirit, until the antitype of the wave-loaves has run its course of completion, when Christ the Firstfruits, and His church, are found together in heavenly glory, to make way for further purposes on earth, as will appear in the Feasts to follow.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 4. Year of Jubilee

Deeply impressive as the sabbath year is in ushering in this chapter, more outward and imposing and thorough-going is the jubilee when seven sabbaths of years were fulfilled, or forty-nine years. This therefore is next introduced in a general way with details to the end of the chapter.
“And thou shalt count to thee seven sabbaths of years, seven years seven times; and the days of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to thee forty and nine years. And thou shalt cause a sound of the trumpet to go forth in the seventh month on the tenth [day] of the month; on the day of atonement shall ye sound the trumpet throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the year of the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty in the land to all the inhabitants thereof: a jubilee shall it be to you, and ye shall return [every] man to his possession, and ye shall return [every] man to his family. A jubilee this fiftieth year [shall] be to you: ye shall not sow, nor reap its after-growth, nor gather one of its separations. For it [is] the jubilee; it shall be holy to you; out of the field ye shall eat its produce. In this year of jubilee shall ye return [every] man to his possession” (8-13).
As there was a sabbath day and month, so also a sabbatical year and one after seven times that year; this last being the jubilee, when the cycle of seven sabbatical years was completed. The first two referred to the people with Jehovah; the last two to the land. So it is with us now that the Spirit of God carefully brings out the individual's true and full relation to God, before our corporate privilege is unfolded, as we may read in the Epistle to the Ephesian saints. So here, after days of sin, sorrow, and ruin, it is the day anticipated in these pledges by the way whereon Jehovah who chose Israel will remember His people, even to the joy of the nations long envious and scornful; when He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful to His land, to His people. The land is prominent in the sabbatical year, still more completely in the jubilee.
Hence the explicit care to base the jubilee on the offering and acceptance of the atonement-day, the most solemn sacrifice of the year. The cornet which was to sound so loud and bring in the proclamation of liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof was not on the first of the seventh month but on the tenth. The first was a sabbath too, and distinguished by a memorial of blessing the cornet. It too was a holy convocation: no servile work was to be done, and a fire-offering made to Jehovah. But the tenth was the fast when no work was to be done, with the most peremptory warning that every soul not afflicted on that same day should be cut off from among his peoples, and that every soul doing any manner of work on that same day Jehovah would destroy from among His people. Christ's atonement alone accounts for this. Therefore the repentance in dust and ashes; therefore too the exclusion of any manner of work. His work, His suffering for sin, explains it all.
The “liberty” which immediately follows is the answer to that work of atonement completed and accepted. It is quite a different liberty from that deliverance from the law of sin and death which we know as Christians as traced in Rom. 8, 2 Cor. 3 and Gal. 5 The jubilee is in no way the type of what pertains to the Christian or the church, but of Israel for the land when Jehovah's people shall be brought into their full promised blessing. Pentecost typifies what we now enjoy by the gift of the Spirit, consequent on Christ our passover sacrificed for us, and His resurrection shown in its wave-sheaf and the wave-loaves, till at an untold moment the heavenly saints are changed and caught up to meet Him for the Father's house. Only this was a mystery not yet revealed in scripture but hid in God. After that, when time begins again to be counted, in the seventh month comes a new series of divine dealings to apply the already accomplished work of atonement to Israel, awaked from their long slumber of death on the first of the month, then brought by self-judgment and humiliation under the atoning sacrifice in power of truth, at length the feast of glory for time and even eternity.
It is here too that the jubilee finds its just place and true application; for it has its peculiar place for Israel so marked that it is treated here distinctly from the greater cycle of the Feasts of Leviticus. It has nothing whatever to say to any joy for us in the resurrection when the last trumpet sounds for our joining Christ on high to be with Him above. It concerns characteristically the people and the land; for Christ is to have glory everywhere, and a suited people for the earth as well as the heavens. Here the theologians are sadly astray and short of the truth. And the N. T. is as clear about it, as the O. T. is full of it. The fiftieth year the Israelites were to hallow, and proclaim in the land for all the inhabitants thereof. It is the era when all Israel shall be saved too, when all Zion's children shall be taught of Jehovah, and great shall be their peace. They shall be all righteous, and possess the land forever as the branch of Jehovah's planting, the work of His hands, that He may be glorified. The type was but the shadow of a greater antitype. But it is of Israel's blessedness here below when Messiah reigns.
“A jubilee shall it be to you, and ye shall return every man to his possession, and ye shall return every man to his family.” We can readily perceive how appropriate such consolation is to poor distressed Israel. They had a vested interest there, and from Jehovah, but by their own self-confidence held on the tenure of law, that is, of their own righteousness. Alas! they violated their law in every way. They were as mad as Babylon on their idols, and the Jews were exiled to Babylon, as the rest had been to Assyria. And when a remnant of Jews returned in God's goodness for the coming of Messiah in due time, it was but to reject and have Him crucified by lawless hands; as they also refused the Spirit's call in the gospel, and especially rose up against it for the Gentiles. For all that Jehovah waits to be gracious; and when the Gentiles, instead of standing by faith and continuing in goodness, claim all for themselves in pride and denial of Israel, they too shall become objects of judgment. Then God's mercy shall flow like a river on Israel repentant and believing; and the jubilee shall sound for the long distant and deaf, the atoning sacrifice being received in faith and true affliction of heart to the denial of self and all manner of work. Liberty shall be proclaimed, and a return shall be for every man, and for every man to his family. As the land shall mourn, every family apart and their wives apart in self-judgment, so all will be united in joy when the restitution of all things arrives. “A jubilee this fiftieth year shall be to you.”
Such language has a force to Israel as it has to no other people, because Jehovah gave them the land of His choice for them, as for none else. Still less can the words have fitness for the Christian or the church, chosen out of every family, and brought into union with Christ, so that henceforth as Christians we know no man according to flesh. We belong even now to a dead and risen Christ and are a new and heavenly family, not man's but God's for glory on high. And what is the possession to which every Christian returns? The notion becomes an absurdity. We had nothing in our natural estate as children of wrath; we had only sins and sin. There was no earthly paradise for fallen man to return to, nor yet possession in the land of Israel for a Gentile. To us all our portion as Christians is above nature and heavenly; and it is what sovereign grace gives us in and with Christ. Only thus could heavenly glory be ours, and all we enjoy as members of His body and shall inherit in that day.
So also the provision that follows, like that of the sabbatical year in vers. 11, 12. “Ye shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in its separations (i. e. the fruit of its undressed vines). For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy to you: out of the field ye shall eat its produce.” It is a little testimony to the great change when the land shall be no more barren or reluctant, but yield its increase with all fullness, to honor the great King and greet His people no longer small of mighty and exalted and blest. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress, and instead of the nettle shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to Jehovah for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” How apply such words to the Christian and the church, save to drag us down from heaven to earth, and to deny Israel's hopes under Messiah and the new covenant? No, it is for them, not about us, that we read, “In this year of jubilee ye shall return every man to his possession.”

Proverbs 21:9-15

Next we have the vivid sketch of one who has to do with a helpmate whose willful temper is the source of continual chagrin and shame. Yet the word of wisdom gives good counsel to relieve and comfort notwithstanding such a calamity.
“Better to dwell in a corner of the housetop than with a contentious woman in a wide house [or, house of society].
The soul of the wicked desireth evil; his neighbor findeth no favor in his eyes.
When the scorner is punished, the simple becometh wise; and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.
The righteous considereth the house of the wicked: the wicked are overthrown to ruin.
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry, and not be heard.
A gift in secret pacifieth anger; and a present in the bosom, vehement wrath.
[It is] joy to the righteous to do justice, but destruction to the doers of iniquity “(vers. 9-15).
A contentious woman is of necessity a trial to every member of the household, but most of all to her husband. The house may be roomy, but only jars follow her; and if visitors call, it is but to increase his pain. No better place is there for him than to find a corner in the housetop; there can quiet be found, and, for piety, access to the Highest.
The soul is the living man's center; it is himself, the seat of his will. If this be unrenewed by, grace, and therefore under the enemy's dominion, he has pleasure in evil, not only himself doing things worthy of death, but enjoying the evil of others. What room is there in such a heart for loving another, whatever his need or distress? Favor in his eyes there is none even for the nearest neighbor.
The scorner has not only no respect for what is excellent, but affects to despise it and actively hates it. When such a one meets an exemplary retribution, it is a wholesome lesson to the simple who takes warning against that wicked way. But the wise, when he is instructed, receives positive knowledge for good.
So again the righteous is not merely grieved at the house of the wicked, but considers it to solemn profit. And no wonder; for the wicked are overthrown to ruin, even in this world.
Then the world is full of want, suffering, and misery. Is anyone disposed to stop his ears at the cry of the poor? God is not mocked, but resents hardness of heart; for “he also shall cry, and shall not be heard.”
On the other hand even the angry are not insensible to a gift if it be in secret. It would be resented if others saw or knew, or if the donor were prominent or talked. It is not only bad men whose anger is thereby pacified. See the effect on David when Abigail brought to his bosom a reward that exercised his conscience.
To the righteous it is their life and joy to do what is right, as it is a great sorrow when through any lack of care they, may fail. But nothing is so uncongenial to the workers of iniquity, ever in quest of gain through wrong. And destruction must be their portion. For there is not a creature unapparent before God, but all things are naked and laid bare to His eyes.

Gospel Words: Vain Repetitions in Prayer

Having laid on the individual secrecy in prayer to the Father, the Lord widens here His injunction, and warns His disciples against a habit unworthy of Him, and of them too in so blessed a relationship, though it had to be still more deepened and elevated on His resurrection day, and in view of His ascension to heaven. It might be, as it was, a natural feeling which thus wrought even in heathen. The Lord looks for and inculcates what is supernatural.
“But when praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles; for they think that they shall be heard by their much speaking. Be not therefore likened to them; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye beg of him.” It is not a warning against a hypocritical spirit. Of this He spoke first, as they were Jews, a people responsible to observe God's law, but faithless for the most part, and the orthodox among them prone to high pretensions, moral as well as ceremonial, with a heart far from Him. Therefore He inculcated the value and duty of prayer to the Father in secret, as the contrast with the hollowness of prayer to be seen of men.
Notwithstanding His words, the evil grew till in the fifth century it reached its height of folly in Simeon a Syrian who at the last erected a pillar on which he might stand, elevated at first six cubits and at last forty. On the top was a space three feet in diameter, surrounded with a balustrade, and here he stood day and night in all weathers. During the night and till 9 a.m. he was supposed to be constantly in prayer, after stretching out his hands, and bowing so low as to touch his toes with his forehead. Someone who attempted to reckon these prostrations counted up no less than 1244. At nine he began to address the superstitious crowd below; for, strange to say, this religious mountebank not only heard and answered to such as were present, and wrote to the absent, but took on him the care of the churches and corresponded with the highest dignities in both church and state. As evening approached, he dropped these activities and resumed his repeated prayers as before. It is recorded that he partook of food but once a week, and never slept, thus spending with a coat and cap of sheepskin some seven and thirty years, and dying in the attitude of prayer in his sixty-ninth year. His scholar and chronicler Antony tells us that he went up after three days and that his dead body gave forth a sweet odor. So naturally allied is deceit to these quasi-spiritual shows.
But here our Lord reprehends a far more prevalent snare. “When praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles.” The words occur nowhere else in the New Testament, nor did the Seventy employ them in the Greek version of the O.T. Nor is par. found in any writing independently of ver. 7 till 500 years after Christ. There is therefore divergence of views as to its precise meaning. This is not the occasion for such a discussion; and though it has been sought to derive what is peculiar from the Hebrew for “unadvisedly” or “rashly babbling,” the context tends to support the Authorized Version.
It is quite unworthy of the Father, and even of His children thus to trifle in prayer. There are no doubt occasions for long persistence, as well as earnest repetition, in prayer. Our Lord Himself is the example of thus spending the night through, and of praying over and over again the same words. Neither of these special supplications could be reprehended in others where they are seasonable and requisite. But there is scarce any habit more common, even among believers, than lengthy utterances which are not prayers at all. For they express the individual's views sometimes of the discourse preceding, his own or some other's, sometimes of all he can muster of the varied circumstances of the church, or at least his own party, and of all the world outside. Occasionally if not often the one in the attitude and form of prayer forgets that he is speaking to his Father, and slips unwittingly into what sounds like teaching Him the doctrines which delight himself.
These things ought surely not to be. What reverence becomes one by grace entitled to say, Abba, Father! What deep sense of His majesty and holiness who has shown infinite mercy to such as deserved everlasting judgment! How often do we not fail, however favored we may be, in judging self and grieving the Holy Spirit! The royal preacher could say of old, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and set not thy heart to utter anything before God; for God is in the heavens, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through a multitude of business, and a fool's voice through a multitude of words.” How much deeper should be our humility whom, notwithstanding a far fuller sense of our evil and of His grace, He calls His children! How sad the inconsistency, if kept from Pharisaic hypocrisy, to drop into the inconsiderate foolish verbiage of Gentiles!
We are brought to God at an infinite cost. We are taught our utter vileness as well as our shameful sins. When we draw near to pray, ought we not to have the hallowing solemnizing effect in weighing our words, whatever the love that invites us into His presence? Then we may be without anxiety as to anything, but in everything make our requests known to Him by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. He loves that we should confide in dependence on Him. Let us never forget that “our Father knoweth what things we have need of, before we beg of Him.” To think that we shall gain a hearing by our much speaking is a dishonor to Him and even to us.

2 Peter 1:4

The apostle proceeds to explain through what God has granted now, not the manifested kingdom of the Messiah for this is postponed to the day of His appearing in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, but the greatest promises, as he calls them and precious, whilst we await Him walking by faith, and not by sight. For what are those of earthly glory and power for Israel on earth in comparison? Ours are association with Christ in heaven. In short another order of blessing now goes on. It is what we call Christianity.
“Through which he hath granted to us the greatest and precious promises, that through these ye may become partakers of a divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world in (or, by) lust” (ver. 4).
These words are the weighty expression of truth peculiarly appropriate to and needed by the persons addressed, but of permanent value for all saints since then to our day. “Which” refers to God's own glory and excellence, whereon we have dwelt the more because the force is quite lost in the common Greek text, and the current translation. No less a standard suited His call. He would have the called to estimate the total difference of that object which was familiar to them as Jews under law. To live long on the earth and be blessed in basket and store presented an incomparably lower prospect; and a hopeless ground, if one applied it spiritually to such sinful creatures as they were in God's sight, a ministry indeed of death and condemnation. The gospel proclaims grace reigning through righteousness unto life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord; it is a ministry of the Spirit and of righteousness, even God's righteousness which we become in Christ. Therefore are we always confident, even in view of death and the judgment-seat of Christ, because God holds us for the very triumph we know in Christ, and has also given us already the earnest of the Spirit till we too are glorified.
Hence we can understand the bounteous provision of His word that we enter intelligently into what He has communicated to us in the carrying out of His gracious purpose. Through His own glory and excellence He has granted us the greatest promises, far more elevated than any given to His earthly people Israel. Take as a little example what the apostle himself had said in the early verses of his First Epistle, and its first chapter. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His much mercy, begot us again to a living hope through Jesus Christ's resurrection from among the dead, unto an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance, reserved in the heavens for you who are kept (or, guarded) in (or, by) God's power for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” He does not, in the verse we are considering, repeat what these precious promises are, now proposed to the precious faith of the Christian. But this one sample may suffice to show their general character in contradistinction from the earthly hopes which once sufficed to fill them with satisfaction and pride in the highest degree, and so greatly contributed to their unbelief in the Messiah.
The Christian promises do not at all lend themselves to human feeling or worldly ambition. We can easily understand how the Jew might carnally delight in looking on to the day when, as Isaiah predicted, kings shall be Zion's nursing-fathers and Gentile princesses her nursing-mothers. Then they shall bow down to her with the face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of her feet. Then the sons of the strangers shall build up her walls, and their kings serve Zion, and her gates remain open continually day and night, to bring in to her the wealth of the nations, and their kings in triumphal train. For the nation and the kingdom that will not serve Zion shall perish; and those nations shall certainly be laid waste. It would be easy to accumulate, as any Christian can verify from the prophets generally, no less glowing visions of earthly glory assured to converted and restored Israel, when the day of Jehovah dawns. But here too a single inspired voice is surely enough.
Flesh in its unbelief and vanity among professing Christians may abuse every word of God. But the exceeding great and precious promises held out to the Christian do not in themselves afford any real handle to carnality. They presume the Lord's coming, and our body of humiliation transformed in order to be conformed to the body of His glory. In that day assuredly there can be no perversion for the Christian in heaven, nor will there be for Israel on the earth, all righteous under Messiah and the new covenant. It is here in an evil world ruled by Satan, and with flesh still in us that we are ever exposed to danger. But those promises has God granted to us, says the apostle, “that we may become partakers of a divine nature.” For it is in the exercise of His own will that the Father of lights begot us by the word of truth.
It was not a mere operation, however excellent and powerful, on the mind. This of course there was. Conscience was penetrated and overwhelmed with a just sense of our sins and evil state; the heart was exercised truly before God by His manifested love in Christ and His work. But, besides, a new nature was imparted, and this no less than supernatural in character. We were born of God, not only sons by adoption, but given the title and reality of His children (John 1:12, 13). Throughout the Fourth Gospel the divine design was to declare life eternal in the Son of God, to manifest its character in Himself and His ways and words, but also to announce that this life gives, all the more distinctly because He was the rejected of the Jews and man—the world in short. From chap. 3 to 20 this is written with more than sunbeam brightness; and if now denied by those who once rejoiced in that light, it can only be through the darkening power of Satan.
O.T. saints had life in the Son; they were God's children: without it they never could have walked in faith and fidelity as they did, nor share in the resurrection at His coming, nor reign with Him. But it was only revealed as a known, conscious, and present reality in John's Gospel. Its future privilege for converted Israel and the Gentile sheep (Psa. 133, Dan. 12:2, Matt. 25:46) is plain; and then, and even before, we shall have it, if deceased, in a resurrection for the body, as now we have it in our souls as a revealed and existing certainty. To doubt, darken, or deny this fundamental truth of Christianity is of the evil one; is connected with false doctrine as to Christ's person, and more or less the loss of almost all the truth characteristic of the Christian and the church.
Nor does it depend only on the phrase life eternal, or on the Gospel and First Epistle of John—the revelation of that blessed phrase which some would pare down to extinction. The apostle Paul intimates the same gift of grace substantially in other forms of speech suited to the scope given for his teaching. Let us look at the Epistle to the Romans only, though others are just as plain and abundant. He tells us of life in the future (Rom. 5:17, 21), but of “newness of life” in which we should walk now (chap. 6:4); he bids us reckon ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus whilst here, and yield ourselves to God as alive from among the dead already (11, 13). In chap. 7:4 he says to those knowing the law that they were made dead to the law through the body of Christ to their being Another's that was raised from among the dead, in order that they might bear fruit to God—an impossibility without life in Christ, serving too in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter. It would be mere letter in the way of exposition to deny that such a life is eternal, though the term is not employed. Again in chap. 8:2, what else was life in Christ Jesus?
No doubt in Christendom, and in its most evangelical circles there is the utmost feebleness as to a real spiritual life communicated now to the believer. Hence there is a dangerous tendency either to the amelioration of the old man, or to a miserable blank, as if we had but the flesh, and the Spirit of God only to guide and reprove according to need. It is a sad loss to overlook Christ in us, Christ as truly the life of the saint as the fallen Adamic life is shared by the race.
This is, according to Peter's line of things, implied in “a divine nature” of which, he tells the saints, they had become partakers through the divine promises God had granted them, “having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust,” the spring of the evil. He does not speak of life eternal as John was given to do, nor of death and resurrection with Christ as Paul; but he presents the moral result, inseparable from the truth as each of them put it, and as important for the believer to apprehend and enjoy. Therefore he speaks of the same substantial privilege as partakers, or possessors in common, of a divine nature with the moral blessing annexed of “having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” The one description looked more at the divine character into which the believer entered to form his practice day by day; the other, the negative side of the evil and danger from which grace had given the saints escape through faith: both eminently falling within the range of the truth on which the apostle loved to dwell. Of its source in Christ the Mediator, John delighted to testify; as Paul, on the association with Him to which His work entitles the believer in deliverance not merely from sins but from sin.

From Judaism to Christianity

We Gentile Christians, who have not been under the bonds of the law and have the N. T. Scriptures the key to the O. T., should consider how great is our privilege above the believing Jews in the early days of Christianity. They had only Moses and the prophets; and these did not reveal the great and wonderful change which would take place after the cutting off of the Messiah, the parenthesis between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy (9:25-27), a few passing hints excepted which only shone out after the True Light came or rather when the Spirit led beyond what they could previously bear. That system ceased which had been ordained of God for Israel and had existed for fifteen centuries: “carnal ordinances,” which men could see with their natural eyes, and in which every soul of Israel might take a part. All that was now set aside by spiritual sacrifice and by the priesthood of every believer become a priest, Christ Himself in heaven being their great High Priest. It was no longer sights and sounds acting on the senses, but now eternal and unseen things discerned only by the eye of faith.
Hitherto Jerusalem had been the place wherein God had chosen to put His name; thither they were to bring their sacrifice and offerings, and there at the altar where He recorded His name He was to come and bless them (Ex. 20:24). But under the new order of things how great the change! Jerusalem is no longer the place where men worship truly. “The hour cometh,” said the Lord, “and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-23). It is well to remember that these believers did not see this written till more than fifty years after Pentecost. Neither James, nor Peter, nor Paul when he at first comes on the scene, unfolds as yet such a truth so far as we know. The time had not arrived till a late day for Paul to tell them, “Let us go forth to him without the camp (the Jewish system) bearing his reproach.” This they were not yet prepared to do. Neither were they told till then, “We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle” (Heb. 13). This last the saints in Jerusalem had been all doing, and continued to do till the Epistle to the Hebrews was written, more than thirty years after Pentecost.'
If we take these things into serious consideration, we shall the better understand how these saints could continue to follow Moses, “all zealous of the law,” for so many years after the cross. How many saints think that from the moment of the utterance of the Messiah's dying words “It is finished,” when “the vail of the temple was rent in twain,” there was an end, not merely in principle before God but in fact, of Judaism, material sacrifices, priests, temple, with all other legal ordinances? In Acts 6:7 we read of a great crowd of priests obeying the faith; and Christians who read it now jump to the conclusion that they then gave up all sacerdotal functions, because the Lord added them to the church. But this is premature; there is no ground to believe it, but that they continued their service in the sanctuary. How slow most of us find it to apply a principle so new, strange and deep!
If we pay attention to Heb. 8:13, we see that the first covenant which had ordinances of divine service and a worldly sanctuary “was becoming old and growing aged,” and thus ready to vanish away. Thus the Levitical regime had not yet disappeared; and it was made known to the Christian Jews only at the close, before the city and temple fell under public and divine judgment. A little later (viz. A.D. 70), Jerusalem was destroyed and not one stone left on another of the temple. Then Judaism finally passed away. Its death-blow had been given at the crucifixion. During this interval God patiently bore with the “untoward generation,” delivering out from among them “daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). Up to this the Jewish saints continued to worship according to the law and the prophets; to which they superadded elementary Christian truth, putting the new wine into the old skins. “They continued with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house (or, at home)” (Acts 2:46). Here we see the two things going on together. Their old reverence and attachment to the temple was evidently retained.
We know with certainty that up to Acts 21:20, or some twenty-seven years after Pentecost, the many myriads (or ten thousands) who believed were all zealous for the law. Among these James who was “a pillar” at Jerusalem, and even Paul too who “had come with offerings and alms to his nation,” were not behind in deference to the Mosaic routine. It was at James' instigation that Paul agreed to prove his subjection to Moses, and that he did not, as had been calumniously reported, persuade the Jews who dwelt among the Gentiles to forsake Moses and the customs, and the circumcision of their children. Hence Paul went, with others who had a vow, into the temple, and, had he not been hindered, would have offered the offering which was ordained for the Nazarite. Clearly he had not learned the truths he was taught some years later after his arrest and first imprisonment.
But can it be that these many thousands of believing Jews who were all zealous for the law were guilty, when offering a lamb, of the terrible crime equivalent to “cutting off a dog's neck”? Or would any one of them in offering an oblation be as if he offered swine's blood” (Isa. 66:3)? No. This solely refers to the future day when the man of sin, Antichrist, sits there, and the temple is the scene of apostasy and defiance of Jehovah, and the temple is not owned but for judgment, and the sacrifices utterly abominable in His eyes. What has all this to do with the temple, where after Pentecost Peter and John used to go up statedly for prayer? Is it possible for God to permit of such adhesion if the old ritual was so evil in the Jewish saints, without raising a voice against continuance in it for so many years?
So far from it indeed, that long after His devoted servant Paul was in prison for what many call building again the things he had destroyed, the Lord comes to him to comfort him without uttering one word of rebuke for what the advice of James brought upon him “Be of good cheer, Paul,” says He, “for as thou hast testified of Me at Jerusalem (what was the testimony?), so must thou at Rome.” Peter had early a vision to direct him to go outside the Jewish fold and learn that “what God had cleansed” was not common nor unclean. His preaching in Acts 3 does not rise above the earth: blessings for Israel if they would repent, “when times of refreshing would come from the presence of the Lord.” Peter clearly had much to learn. Had the teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews been given to the Jewish disciples in the early days of Christianity, they could not have continued on the old lines without being guilty of despising God's word and offending Him. How far it was agreeable to God or accepted, we cannot say; but if itself utterly offensive, it is unlike God to allow all the saints, apostles, prophets, etc., to continue sinning without remonstrance. We see what the consequence must have been if, after abandoning the shadows for the substance in coming to Christ, they fell away from Him and went back to the shadows. It would be “crucifying for themselves the Son of God and putting Him to shame” (Heb. 6). Up to this time the saints had evidently followed Moses, and, although believing in the Messiah, had failed to apprehend the results of His death, resurrection, and ascension. They had not profited by the Jewish elements as read in the heavenly light. The time had now arrived when they must “leave the word of the beginning of Christ, and go on to what belongs to full growth.” Theirs was a heavenly calling. Jerusalem was not, nor ever had been, the place for worshipping the Father, revealed by the Son. It was now their privilege to enter in spirit into the holiest where Christ had entered, as their great High Priest; into no figures of the true but heaven itself, the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man. Thenceforth all the Jewish saints, like all believers, are invited to approach within the rent veil, having boldness to enter, in virtue of the eternal redemption which Christ obtained, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. Such a condition the blood of Jewish sacrifices never did nor could procure.
Blessed this was for those now by faith familiar with the old sacrifices, etc., to know them more than fulfilled in Christ. But one must perceive what of divinely given courage it required, added to faith, in order to turn away from that which was dearer than life to a godly Jew; established as it had been by Jehovah's judicial authority under which every transgression received a righteous retribution. No Gentile believer of this day in leaving any of the sects or human organizations, which never were of God but of man's device, can be compared with a Jew giving up what till then had God's sanction and command in all its details. It is plain that the believing Jews added Christianity to their Judaism; and most patiently did God deal with them.
But it is no less plain with what warmth Paul writes to the Gentile Galatians who were adding the law to Christianity. How scathing are his words! “O senseless Galatians, who bewitched you?” etc. (3:1). “Whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye have fallen from grace” (v. 4). “If ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing” (2). They were also observing Jewish festival-days and months and times and years. To Gentiles they were beggarly elements (4:9), a return in principle to idolatry from which they had been delivered.
But Christendom, not satisfied with Jewish festivals, has added to its calendar many pagan festivals with Christian names and so-called saints-days, some of them of reprobate character, like St. George of merry England, merry in being patronized by a scoundrel after his death a saint! Can we close our eyes to the manifest increase of ritualism everywhere? Rome has spread the leaven in almost every section wherever the Lord's name is named. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” as Paul told the Judaized Galatians (v. 2). Christendom is advancing far and fast in this evil direction. The end we read in Rev. 14; 15; 17; 18, as well as in 2 Thess. 2. God calls, as He has called long, His people to come out of her, lest they partake of her sins, and so receive of her plagues (Rev. 18:4). We may and must be accused by the old serpent; but we ought not to be deceived, as the whole world will be. J. S. F. C.

Eternal Life

To avoid personality both lecturer and publisher are not named. But it is due to the Lord and His own to warn against what is calculated in this tract to deceive the simple. If it were an honest recantation of the recent error, all would hail it; but it is a crafty effort to adopt as far as possible the language of those who can say that Christians have life eternal now, while denying that they have it in any real sense, and confounding it with Christ's raising us up at the last day when its result is made good for the body. The late defender of this false doctrine was candid, compared with the new one; “It used to be commonly said, I know that I have got eternal life. Why? Because scripture says, He that believeth hath everlasting life.'“ Alas! no reason could be better, if there were living faith too. But that defender openly at least avowed his unbelief, and thought he had persuaded people to think that no believer has the thing itself but only a promise, not the thing promised. The present defender of the same unbelief laboriously tries to make people believe that they can say and unsay, and think this is upright instead of being a cheat.
He starts with saying, “You must never confound the Gospel of John with the Epistle;” but he is all wrong himself. For not only does the Epistle speak of the eternal and only-begotten Son like the Gospel, but the Gospel is throughout the unfolding of the Person become Man on earth; and the Epistle as truly as the Gospel, though briefly, as a divine Person with the Father before His incarnation. Again both Gospel and Epistle alike testify His present glorification. But as the Epistle followed the Gospel and supposes it known, so it even more subtly and beautifully identifies Christ with God, purposely passing from Him to God and from God to Him in a way which all false doctrine ignores, and which orthodox theology does not understand or enjoy.
As to confounding eternal life with everlasting existence, who does this but the grossly ignorant or heterodox men who talk of conditional immortality? Perhaps however those whom he addressed may have needed this elementary truth. Hence he turns to confounding the new birth with eternal life. But here he is again utterly wrong. The Lord did unfold life eternal in its Christian fullness as now revealed. It is a false inference that the O.T. saints in being born anew had not life in the Son, though they knew it not as we do, or ought to do. What is this life but eternal, as no one ever questioned till of late? Those must be ill-instructed indeed, who are “accustomed to think of life as only the vital spark.”
Our Lord Himself, in John's Gospel (6:35-40, 10:10) makes it certain that the use found here of John 5:24; 17:3, or any other text is mere human reasoning to oppose the truth, if “involves” means that the believer could not have life eternal till the new creation (4:9, 10). So does the Epistle refute the thought. He that ate of the living bread, that is, Himself incarnate, had life eternal; and if it were a work of the Spirit, he went on to eat His flesh and drink His blood (51-59), when he was also assured of having that life, instead of its being annexed to Christ's ascension (63) where it is not said, as there was no need to say it. But this system, if true, ought to have it exclusively there. Hence also the absurdity of saying, “'That which was from the beginning' supposes the first man set aside,” save in God's mind. It was Christ incarnate, before the work was done, or Himself the risen man in glory. Is it not impudent, and misleading for such a defender to speak thus, “you say you have eternal life: no one disputes it for a moment;” when he knows well, that this is the very truth which was not only disputed but denied? Alas! it is what one has seen before: when the truth is lost, untruthfulness follows; especially where the desire is to shirk a plain profession of what has been exposed and discredited.
Nevertheless this defender does here and often contradict his late leader. For he utterly denied eternal life as a present possession for any: it “is God's purpose for you” — “mine in title, but to say that I have it is another matter.” This is given up by the lecturer, who dares to say that “no one disputes for a moment” what exactly contradicted it. Think of another glaring contradiction. It was then taught that “eternal life refers to earth (!) I don't think we should talk about eternal life in heaven” (!!) with the wild talk about a sphere. Here on the contrary the change is complete, and heaven is insisted on as “the sphere, or home, of eternal life.”
In p. 10 the cloven foot appears. Even for the believer now to be born again is severed from life eternal, and has it not yet till redemption, and the Spirit's gift. It is quite true that no one is indwelt by the Spirit till he is by faith washed from his sins in Christ's blood. But to say that eternal life and the Holy Ghost go together is the system, and unscriptural. Where does Scripture couple them thus? In Scripture faith in Christ is associated with eternal life, and in the most immediate way” hath,” and not merely shall have. But the gift of the Spirit is consequent on faith in Christ's work, His blood or redemption, not on life eternal; for it is allowed that even John 4:14 looks on to the glorious result, whatever the intermediate joy.
Again, it seems a pity that one who used to be a fervent evangelist should, in setting up for a teacher, alas! be a false teacher, and extremely inconsistent too with the system he was supposed to defend. For the system ostensibly expounded, and never repudiated, was, that “there is a gulf between you and it [eternal life], and you have to pass over that gulf,” and again that “there is no truth in the assertion that eternal life was communicated this side of the bridge,” and that “the gift of the Holy Ghost” is what is communicated, not life eternal, but He the well of water springing up to eternal life. What wretched cloaking, and tinkering, and concealing the change in most important respects, while still pretending to be the same!
Take further the lecturer, with his “objective and subjective,” which he either misunderstands or misapplies. If we have life in the Son, it is not objective but subjective. It is our new being and a divine nature we never had before; and it is or ought to be in exercise throughout our life. “I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live I, but Christ liveth in me,” &c. This is not called life eternal as it was from Paul's pen; but it is what is so called by the apostle John, to whom this great truth was given to make known. It is also a mere blunder to say that the indwelling Spirit (and this is the question) is subjective; for though He has a subjective place like Christ even in life, He is regularly and truly revealed as a real objective Person, witnessing with our spirit, helping our infirmity, interceding for us according to God, guiding into all the truth, and thus glorifying Christ in every way as regards us.
The remarks on 1 John 5:13 seem only brought in apparently to support his leader, while on the contrary they really oppose. What then is the meaning of “it says so,” and in italics? The notion that “knowing” there is objective, as first conveyed to faith, is merely an error, whoever “said so.” It is on the contrary inward and conscious, which the apostle desired for the family of God. But the system, here revised and altered by its defender, denied any possible inward consciousness, because it did not allow but refused any real present possession for the soul.
So far one may hail a rent in this flag of unbelief, though totally without the candor to acknowledge its departure from the system. It is partial homage to the truth; yet its apparent design is to deceive the simple folk who think that there is no change. It is to be hoped that the lecturer is not so far gone as to follow his leader in holding that Christ became (instead of was) the Word, the Eternal Word; or that, in becoming man, He became an incomplete and imperfect man (if He had no soul), but had His personality in the divine Word or Son: Monotheistic heterodoxy without doubt and never yet purged out, but hidden leaven still at work.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek Translated

Q.—Γέεννα, κρίσις, αἰώνιος. What light can you give on these? Lightfoot, Plumptre, Farrar, and others eminently learned, held “aeon,” “aeonion” against “eternal,” everlasting, etc. Where and how do they depart from scripture truth? T. O. B.
A.—Without doubt many learned men have written in unbelief as to these solemn terms in the N. T. The unbelief displays itself generally in undermining the divine authority of scripture, and particularly in enfeebling and darkening such words as intimate the everlasting character of God's judgment of sin. What evidence is there that the late Bishop Lightfoot was thus guilty? As he used αἰὼν for the world of eternity, and another form of it for “eternal” in his note on Gal. 1:4, it is certain that he held a quite opposed conviction, and unless proof therefore be given that he changed, let us believe that the imputation is erroneous. But the truth depends on God's word, not on man's opinion which is of no real worth.
1. Γέεννα, Gehenna, was derived from the valley of Hinnom so often spoken of in Kings and Chronicles, the receptacle for burning all that defiled, and became the figure for the place of endless punishment.
The N. T. and especially the Lord Himself deepens its usage from anything seen outside of Jerusalem to what we in English call Hell, with which Hades (referring to departed spirits) ought never to be confounded. No spiritual mind can doubt that He taught its final and everlasting character in Matt. 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5.
2. Not less certain is it that, unless modified by limiting words αἰὼν and αἰώνιος are regularly used in the N. T. for “eternity” and “eternal.” Though even heathen philosophers, used to express themselves in their native tongue of the purest Greek, and with their utmost precision, contrast both substantive and adjective with what began to be and was transitory. It is not credible that any fairly read man could be unaware that Plato sets them distinctly in this opposition. Take for example his Timæus (Baiter, Orelli and Winck. p. 712); and again Aristotle in his De Ccelo (Bekker, i. 279), at the end of which chap. 9 lays down that αἰὼν derived its name ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀεὶ εἶναι, from being forever. If these heathen had heard of God's awarding such a doom to guilty sinners and dreaded it for themselves, they too might have resorted to the shift of an “age” and “age-long” like the skeptical among whom so many divines, especially in our day, are not ashamed to stand. Did any flatter themselves in an understanding of Greek better than these two ancient philosophers? Can any sober person doubt that the denial of Farrar, Jukes, &c., is inexcusable? One sentence of the apostle (2 Cor. 4:18) demolishes the error. For he too sets in open antagonism the things “temporal” with the “eternal” (αἰώνια): how could this be, if the “aeonia,” were as transient as the temporal?
3. Neither are these speculative persons more reliable as to κρίσις, or judgment. No doubt the A. V. in more ways than one presents confused and inexact renderings of the verb, and its derived substantives; as in the mistakes of Rom. 14:22; 1 Cor. 11:29, etc., so in John 5:24, 27, 29, κρίσις, instead of being uniformly translated “judgment,” as should be in all the three cases, and everywhere else. For it certainly in all means God's everlasting judgment, as being contrasted with “life eternal,” the portion of believers only. The solemn truth is that the wicked are raised for it, a resurrection of judgment. What can be clearer than that raised for it does not mean extinguished in it? So in Rev. 20; 21 we are assured that the wicked exist forever in their awful resurrection, as the righteous in their blessed and holy resurrection. In the fullest account of the eternal state (Rev. 21:1-8) we see the New Jerusalem and the blessed then on the new earth. But we also see the accursed in the lake of fire, when God is all in all. So in Heb. 9:27, 28, “judgment” for the heedless wicked is contrasted not with life eternal but with salvation. Annihilation has no basis whatever. What wisdom it is to believe God in subjection of heart! What folly to weaken, evade, or pervert such a warning!
Though conditional immortality has seduced some children of God, it is really unbelief of the great distinctive fact that man alone became a living soul by the inbreathing of Jehovah Elohim. Like other infidel speculations, it alike leaves out God and debases man as such into one of the mere forms of animal life. The inbreathing of God made man's soul immortal. This did not save from a sinful act, any more than it gave the believer life eternal now and immortality for the body by-and-by. Conditional immortality destroys the true nature and place God gave man, as His offspring, in contradistinction from all other animated beings on earth. It supposes man to be only an animal with inward power superior to that of a dog or a horse; and with this lie against the truth as to man as man, it overthrows his responsibility as a creature to obey God. Who thinks that a dog has any consciousness of God, or fears having to bear His judgment of sins? But scripture declares this of man; and all experience confirms that man, when guilty, cannot avoid reference to the God he dishonors, however much superstition or infidelity may strive to efface it.

Scripture Queries and Answers: The Future Jewish Remnant

Q.—What according to scripture is the character of the future Jewish remnant, after the rapture of the saints, before Christ and they appear together in glory? DISCIPLE.
A.—Take the following concise answer in the words of another.
They are godly; under law; upright in heart, yet confessing their people's blood-guiltiness; they are looking for Jehovah's intervention against their enemies. They are persecuted under the beast; betrayed by their false brethren who have received the Antichrist. All these sorrows find expression in the Psalms. In using them they begin, as I understand it, but dimly at first, to perceive that some One has been in these trying circumstances before them; One who when He cried to Jehovah, was heard. “This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles.” This encourages them to cry that He may deliver them. Gradually the thought of His being more than man dawns and grows on their souls. Jeremiah may tell them, “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man” (17:5) while Psa. 2 will say, “Blessed are all they which trust in him.” This seems a contradiction; but the perception of His divine nature is gradually but effectually taking its place in their souls, until the moment comes when He appears to their deliverance, and they look on Him whom they pierced and mourn, and find Him to be Jehovah's fellow—nay, Jehovah Himself.

Scripture Queries and Answers: The Calling and Inheritance in Ephesians and 1 Peter

Q.—What is the difference between the calling and the inheritance as in the Epistle to the Ephesians, from the same terms in the First Epistle of Peter? J. C.
A.—The Apostle Paul was given to reveal the calling and the inheritance in all the height and depth, length and breadth of the glory of Christ, the Son and glorified man in the heavenlies, the Head over all things and Heir of all things, our portion one with Himself and joint-heirs with Him.
The Apostle Peter was inspired to present rather the Christian's heavenly calling and place, and God's family, His priests and kings, in contrast with Israel's hopes; and therefore to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance reserved in the heavens for those that are here, guarded by God's power through faith for the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. It is not a great mystery as in Eph. 5:32, respecting Christ and respecting the church; any more than the mystery of God's will and purpose (Eph. 1:9, 10) in setting Christ at the head of the universe heavenly and earthly, the inheritance in its fullest extent.
Q.—1. What do you consider the force of the two expressions, “in Christ,” and “in the Lord"? 2. What means, as said of marriage, “only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39)? G. B. E.
A.—1. Though they approach nearly, there is a shade of difference, the first rather expressing privilege, the latter responsibility. 2. This is certainly so in the case proposed. Two persons might be “in Christ,” truly attached in affection, but the one entering into the full relationship of the Christian, the other hardly rising in faith or practice above a simple believer, content with remission of sins and general care as to moral walk, and in a false position ecclesiastically. Would it be “in the Lord” for such to marry? Can two walk together before Him who are not agreed in a duty so important for His glory?


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Joseph: 5. Suffering for Righteousness

Every reader of the book of Genesis can see the larger space given to his life than to any of his fathers, even to the first and greatest of them all. We may profitably ask why; nor is the answer doubtful, for it is the key to all the O. T. No one in these early days was in so striking and varied ways the type of Christ. Nor did any other arise till David was given pre-eminently that place, both in humiliation and on the throne, to say nothing of his own inspired outpourings in the Psalms.
As seeing Him who is invisible, Joseph repelled the temptation, through which he passed unsullied, and meekly suffered under the false imputation of the shameless lady who sought his seduction. It is evident that he, a young man, not only resisted her importunities, but was careful not to wound his master by the proof of the wife's guilty passion and still guiltier revenge on the blameless. For lust, whether gratified or not, soon turns to hatred: so we see in Amnon, as in this depraved woman.
“And Joseph was beautiful of form, and beautiful of countenance. And it came to pass after these things that his master's wife raised her eyes on Joseph,... But he refused and said to his master's wife, Behold, my master takes cognizance of nothing with me: what is in the house, and all that he hath, he hath given to my hand. None [is] greater in this house than I; nor hath he withheld from me anything but thee, because thou [art] his wife. And how should I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, and he hearkened not to her,... And it came to pass about this time that on a certain day that be went into the house to do his business, and none of the men [was] there in the house. And she caught... and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and ran outside. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had fled outside, that she called to the men of her house, and spoke to them, saying, See, he hath brought in to us a Hebrew man to mock us: he came in to me.., and I cried with a loud voice; and it came to pass when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and ran outside. And she laid up his garment by her till his master came to his house. And she spoke to him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant whom thou hast brought to us came in to mock me; and it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled outside” (vers. 6-18).
Egypt, a land of strange anomalies, was remarkable for the combination of a very high standard of morals in theory with extremely lax practice. If one cannot accept the exaggeration of Brugsch (Histoire d' Egypte, 17), we may safely receive Prof. Rawlinson's statement that “the Egyptian women were notoriously of loose character, and, whether as we meet with them in history, or as they are depicted in Egyptian romance, appear as immodest and licentious. The men practiced impurity openly and boasted of it in their writings,” etc. (Hist. of Ancient Egypt, I. ch. iii. 104-107, 147, 292, 552; II. 361, 362, 404). There is extant “The Tale of the Two Brothers,” which experts believe to have been written near the age of Joseph, which tells the tale of female dissoluteness from an Egyptian witness, a romance or novel as it is written to warn of the ruin to which such courses lead. Herodotus, as is well known, charged them with no less immorality at a later day (ii. 60, etc.).
Another remark may here fittingly be made. Learned skeptics have too hastily objected to the freedom which the incident supposes for the mistress of the house, apart from anything wrong. But such men only betray their prejudice, and, it must be added, their ignorance of Egyptian domestic life in that day. The very monuments bear testimony to the liberty which women, and especially the wife or mother, then enjoyed; but these objectors are as ready to credit that testimony as to distrust the Bible. Yet we need not labor so small a point.
Here then we have the holy youth resisting the tempter, and enduring grief, suffering wrongfully. And this is grace in the day of trial. For what glory is it if, when ye sin and are buffeted, ye shall take it patiently? But if when ye do well and suffer, ye shall take it patiently, this is grace with God. For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps; Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; Who when reviled reviled not again, when suffering threatened not, but gave [it] over into the hands of Him that judges righteously; Who Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, in order that, being dead to sins, we may live to righteousness; by Whose stripes ye were healed. Of the atonement Joseph could be no real type; but of Christ's suffering unjustly and in grace he was a blessed foreshadow.

God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement

It has appeared, from the Feasts already touched on, how God, in His infinite wisdom, sketched in brief His intended ways—ways carrying us on through centuries with all the varied history as to Israel and all the nations. It was in view of His declared intention of having Israel as the head, and not the tail, of the nations. Thus is the earth ordered in relation to His people, as was stated by Moses in their early history, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. For Jehovah's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance” (Deut. 32:8, 9).
This treasure and portion Jehovah has never yet truly possessed. For as the antitypical Passover and Wave-Sheaf testify that Jehovah, their Messiah, was by the Jewish builders cast out, and despised and set at naught, whilst exalted by God to heaven, so from thence the Holy Spirit has come, and remains, the clear and positive antitype to the Feast of Weeks. During such time Israel are out of the land, scattered and peeled all over the earth, bearing the marks of Jehovah's displeasure, especially Judah for their guilt in crucifying their Messiah, and willfully saying they had no king but Caesar; also, “His blood be upon us and our children.”
Ever since their Messiah's death, judicial blindness has rested upon them; the like condition is alas! rapidly overtaking Christendom, which for its sin and unbelief must be cut off by judgment, and Israel will again be brought into prominence. True, before Jehovah's action of gathering His earthly people, they may reappear in Canaan, as stated by the Prophet, “They shall gather but not by me.” Moreover their Messiah testified that they would become a prey to antichrist, saying, “I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43).
Notwithstanding all this, the unconditional promises coalescing with the new covenant await their fulfillment in full and complete blessing. For their still rejected Messiah will then be king in Zion, reigning gloriously over Israel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. In view of this, after the Pentecostal period, the Feast of Trumpets, under the figure of the moon, heralds the reflected light to shine on them, and summons them, not only by the blowing of the trumpets as in the days of the type, but as it is termed, by the “Memorial” to regather them in antitypical blessedness.
Before this moment, the twenty-second verse touchingly shows Jehovah's care and provision for the poor, at the end of the harvest, and outside those contemplated in the closing Feasts. The remaining corn should be for the poor and stranger to glean, and thus share the portion of those gone before who are to come on the scene after the coming of the Lord for His saints. Those slain shall be blessed and share heavenly glory with Christ. Yea, “blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth;” and blessed and holy those that suffer death for Christ and the truth's sake, for they shall have part in the first resurrection. Though not raised till later, they will nevertheless reign with Christ (see Rev. 20:4-6). Such poor and forgotten ones will thus be honored and blessed, as intimated in the wonderful order of the type, which may enhance its application.
Respecting the blowing of trumpets, Num. 10 sheds light on their purpose, also on those responsible at the appointed time, and their distinct object. Two silver trumpets were to be made of a whole piece, “that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.” The priests, Aaron's sons, must blow them according to Jehovah's appointment, for gathering, guidance, or alarm of impending danger. Of this the scriptures from time to time give samples, some of a most humbling character; whilst others clearly are prophetically given in relation to the day of the Lord and Israel's future, in view both of judgment and of their after restoration to blessing.
Many passages in the Prophets are instructive as to detail; but Joel 2 will suffice to show that the trumpet is to be blown in Zion, and the alarm sounded because the day of the Lord cometh; bringing first judgment, then blessing. The people are to be gathered for fasting and repentance, and finally for blessing and glory on earth.
It is evident therefore, that the summons by the trumpets denoted an unfulfilled epoch in the experience of Israel, when they will respond to the call at the time distinctly future. “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” To this period of Israel's summons the varied books of the Psalms assuredly apply, when Jerusalem will be the joy of the whole earth and the prayers of David are ended in the full cup of peaceful blessing under the true Solomon. The preliminary summons with its pointed allusion is thus stated in Psa. 83 “Blow ye the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, in our solemn feast day.” The new moon and solemn feast day, when responded to in the reflected light of Israel's new beginning, will gather them for the following feast with their God-given experience, to know and value the one and only work of Atonement, accomplished in the death and shed blood of Him, who died for the nation of Israel, as well as for the salvation and gathering of the children of God.
Blessed indeed for us who now believe is this teaching or lesson in the ways of God, but not least for Israel's nearing future, to learn the feast of Atonement, when on the tenth day of the same month with the blowing of trumpets, “there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you"; and ye shall afflict your souls “and offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah and ye shall do no work that same day.” For this most important feast, Lev. 16 and Zech. 12 will furnish deep instruction later as to Israel's experience yet to be made good in the glorious antitype. Hence in the feast, the people's part in the day of Atonement is distinctly stated, namely, “ye shall afflict your souls and do no work.” Both are one as to this. But Lev. 16 also minutely gives the work of the High Priest in which Israel took no part. As the representative of all Israel, he took the blood of the slain bullock and goat, sprinkling it before and upon the mercy seat, thereby declaring that, only by death and shed blood, atonement could be made. This is in character with the passover, and both find their perfect answer in the work of Christ, who has in the value of His own blood entered heaven; from whence He will return to make good in the very people that crucified Him the benefit of His atoning work, when they shall indeed look on Him whom they pierced.
Then a corresponding work in them will follow the work done for them. This has ever been the case; but the distinct and perfect work of Christ for souls is often confounded with the work of the Spirit of God in them, to the hindrance of enjoyed peace with God, which Christ Himself made by the blood of His cross. Truly repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus must be enjoined upon souls in relation to heaven; as affliction of souls, and no work, will be Israel's experience when brought into peace and blessing upon earth in the value of the atoning blood. Then by a divine work of grace they will learn Jehovah's intention to have Jerusalem again inhabited, and by the people spared through all their great and final tribulation. So He saith, “And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,” etc. (Zech. 12:10).
Supplication and mourning will mark them, from royalty and priestly dignity to families generally, even to husbands and wives mourning apart. Then, no longer scoffing and turning their backs on their Messiah, they will look on Him whom they pierced and say, “Lo this is our God: we have waited for Him.” It is then they will prove the value of the water and the blood, when Isa. 53:3-6 will be intelligently hearkened to, both expiation of their sins by blood, and the purifying power and cleansing of the water; as it is written “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1).
Such are the privileges in boundless grace Israel has in store, associated with their coming Feast of Atonement, when Jehovah will speak peace to His people, who will never more return to folly, or fall under the yoke of the oppressor. Alas! ruin will be the case of the apostates, “the many” Daniel speaks of, justly doomed to shame and everlasting contempt. But it is to those in whom the Spirit will work in grace according to the new covenant that the day of Atonement applies, as also the following Feast.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 5. Jubilee the Standard of Value

The position of Israel on earth was unique. They were the only people over whom Jehovah's name was called. “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen: in order that ye may know and believe that I am He; before Me was no god formed, and none will be after Me.” So the apostle, instead of depreciating their privileges, says in Rom. 9:4, “Whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the law-giving, and the service, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever.” It was they who in their blind unbelief stumbled at the stumbling-stone, the infinite grace of His humiliation, and His obedience unto death—the death of the cross, which shut out from the eyes of their heart the height of His glory far beyond that of the Messiah.
But even in the matter of the land allotted to each Israelite, we see a standard of valuation which was meant to keep before them their peculiar relation to Jehovah, as well as their bright prospect, whatever the failure or the chastening, whatever the change even to exile. For a restitution of all things awaits them on earth under the Messiah, the ground of all their blessings.
“And if thou sell aught to thy neighbor, or buy of thy neighbor's hand, ye shall not overreach one another. According to the number of years since the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbor; according to the number of years of the crops he shall sell to thee. According to the greater number of the years thou shalt increase the price thereof; and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price thereof; for it is the number of the crops that he selleth to thee. And ye shall not overreach one another; but thou shalt fear thy God; for I [am] Jehovah your God” (vers. 14-17).
But like everything else here below committed to man's responsibility, the polity of the theocracy broke down through the rebellion of Israel. Those who were nationally set apart to Jehovah sought to be like the nations, that they might have not only a king but other and false gods. Thus the warnings given in His ordinances were trampled under foot. Has therefore the word of Jehovah failed? Far from it. Israel, having gone astray, has borne the chastisement and has yet more and worse to bear before the blessing. But the word of God shall stand forever: even while the ruin is complete, and before the manifested blessing comes for Israel and the land, we have it for our profit by faith.
To the Jew it ought to have been a precious resource that underneath such regulations as these the principle stood that the land belonged to Jehovah. This secures inalienable title for Israel in the long run. The Gentiles have trodden down the land and its capital for many centuries; but their times shall be fulfilled. The last empire is doubtless to revive in a portentous way, and shall be destroyed, not by conquest or decay, but by divine judgment. So shall be destroyed the Antichrist, the lawless king in the land; the Assyrian, or King of the North; and later his gigantic patron, Gog, Prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal: these, with their allies and followers too, constitute all the nations of the earth. Their downfall in the day of Jehovah will make way for Jacob to take root. Israel shall blossom and bud; and they shall fill the face of the world with fruit. In that day shall be a root of Jesse, standing as a banner of the peoples: the nations shall seek to it; and his resting-place shall be glory.
How obvious the comfort thus rendered to the believing Israelite, who would enjoy the blessed assurance of Jehovah's loving interest in His people! Thus He secures the restoration of the property assigned, in spite of all their errors and imprudence, or the over-reaching of others meanwhile. We know that, among Gentiles who know not God, reigns a general anxiety as to both persons and property. To Israel only was there the divine guarantee at every half-century. But what when this beneficent pledge is incomparably exceeded in the great Jubilee? Then “Behold, these shall come from afar; and, behold, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Shout, ye heavens; and be joyful, thou earth; and break forth, ye mountains, into singing; for Jehovah comforteth his people, and will have mercy on his afflicted ones” (Isa. 49:12, 13). No loss of liberty or land more; “for as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, saith Jehovah, so shall your seed and your name remain” (Isa. 66:22).
But before that day, and as long or far as there was fidelity to Jehovah and His word, they were bound in selling or buying the land, or rather the lease of it, by the jubilee as instituted by divine command. Personal equity was not all, but Jehovah's valuation of the worth of its produce till the jubilee. A regularly recurring miracle accompanied subjection to His law. It was not, as for the Christian and the church, a constant hope of Christ's coming suited to the heavenly people; but the earthly people had their times and seasons, and the value of their sales according to the distance or the nearness of the jubilee. We are not of the world, and should always wait expectantly.
The Israelites were not to overreach one another; and, if obedient, had a free insurance of life, liberty, and land from Jehovah. “Thou shalt fear thy God; for I [am] Jehovah your God.” What could be more simple and sure for an earthly people? If rebellious, how could they expect it? God is not mocked.

Proverbs 21:16-23

A cluster of observations is here found of divine value for warning and wisdom in practical life.
“The man that wandereth out of the way of intelligence shall rest in the congregation of the departed (or, shades).
He that loveth pleasure (or, mirth) [shall be] a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.
The wicked [is] a ransom for the righteous, and the treacherous in the stead of the upright.
[It is] better so dwell in a desert land, than with a contentious and irritable woman.
[There is] a desirable store and oil in the dwelling of the wise one; but a foolish man swalloweth it up.
He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honor.
A wise one scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of its confidence.
Whoso guardeth his mouth and his tongue guardeth his soul from troubles” (vers. 16-23).
The goodness of God leads to repentance, and the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom. Christ attracts the heart, the one Mediator between God and men. He is the way, the truth, and the life, always the object of faith to the believer. Here is the way of wisdom; and the man that wanders out of that way shall abide in the congregation of the dead, far from God (16).
Next, we have the man that loving mirth or pleasure, and wasting life's time and work in that vain pursuit, must pay the penalty of indigence. Just so he that devotes himself to wine and oil, or enjoyable living, cannot acquire wealth for any worthy or legitimate end (17). Present indulgence forbids future profit.
Then a still more pronounced character comes before us, a wicked person as such. Even in the then and present evil age, when the divine government is not yet in manifested power, who but the blind can fail to see in the downfall of the wicked a ransom for the righteous from destruction, and the transgressor laid in the pit he dug for the upright? Everyone acquainted with scripture will remember how its history teems with such proofs. But outside its range, and in rather modern times (little beyond two centuries ago), take the return of the cruelly banished Waldenses, who were enabled to make their way back to their father-land, few in number and with no external military aid, against French and Italian armies of disciplined soldiers, against the Pope, the priesthood, their Romanist countrymen, and even their own sovereign of Savoy till he was ashamed to destroy the bravest and most loyal of his own subjects. Not that I for one defend fighting for rights; but God pities the oppressed that cry to Him, even if mistaken like most of their fellow-Christians (18).
Further, we hear of the sad hindrance to peace and comfort in the home from the presence of a contentious and irritable woman. Who has not seen the misery of having to do with such a one presiding? To dwell with a termagant of this kind is worse than living in a desert land (19).
Next, we are told of what is good and wise, and the advantages which ensue. The wise as the rule lack no good thing even in their earthly dwelling; for they aspire not nor covet, contrary to wisdom and the fear of Jehovah. The foolish live in ease, and swallow all up; and who is to blame but themselves (20)?
Again, he that pursues righteousness, and mercy (that is, faithfulness in relation to Jehovah and to mankind according to our true place as well as kindness also), finds “life, righteousness, and honor” —his own at compound interest. “His own,” did I say? say rather God's excellent gift. For none can so walk without faith in God and pleasing Him (21).
Nor is it only that the dwelling of the wise has a desirable treasure therein; but if danger threaten, a wise man surmounts all opposed—scales the city of the mighty, and cuts down the strength of the confidence thereof. What can force avail against wisdom (22)?
Moreover, valuable a faculty as good speech is, it is wise to spare the tongue as well as the mouth. The time, the tone, the way, and the end have all to be considered, lest a fair intention might not only fail but provoke. As the mouth has to beware of taking in beyond what is right and good, so the tongue of letting out what is not edifying. To keep one's mouth and tongue as in God's presence is to keep the soul from troubles without end (23).

Gospel Words: Fasting

It remains for us to weigh our Lord's words on fasting, as the third part of His teaching on “righteousness” (not “alms”) in the first verse of the chapter. Prayer holds the intermediate place between alms and fasting, the pious and holy basis to guard the other two, binding them up with faith against formality.
“And when ye fast, be not gloomy-faced as the hypocrites; for they disguise their faces, so that they may appear to men fasting. Verily, I say to you, They have their reward. But thou while fasting anoint thy head, and wash thy face, so that thou mayest not appear to men fasting, but to thy Father that [is] in secret; and thy Father that seeth in secret will recompense thee.”
The Lord does not so much enjoin fasting as bring it like prayer under the Christian principle of having to do with our Father in secret. It falls under the individual life of faith. Yet He undoubtedly sanctions and approves of it when so practiced; and this independently of the more open and united aim, such as we find in Acts 13:2, 3; 14:23. He also intimates its value for spiritual power. Pious men have ever felt and must feel its appropriateness in chastening the soul before God, where public or private need called for humiliation. But even in Mark 9:29 it is well to note that the two most ancient copies ignore “and fasting,” as they with other authorities also the entire verse 21 of Matt. 17, nor is there a word corresponding in Luke 9. The apostle however who more than others was given to stand for liberty in Christ speaks (in 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27) simply and piously of “fastings” and “fastings often” in his service, to the rebuke of that levity which the Corinthian assembly betrayed, and which characterizes modern Christianity, save where superstition and self-righteousness give it an artificial moment in very different eyes.
In Matt. 9:14, etc. the Lord shows its true place and time in answer to the disciples of John saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees often fast, but Thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said to them, Can the sons of the bride-chamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them; but days shall come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast.” Neither those who were only disciples of John had any real appreciation of the Bridegroom's presence, nor still less the Pharisees filled with forms and self-righteousness. It was joy to the believing disciples of Jesus. Feeble as they were, they had left their all for Him, and they tasted a divine bliss in Him wholly unknown to the others, who were wholly unprepared for the awful purport to them and the Jews of His being taken away, little as the true disciples as yet comprehended that solemn approaching fact with its immense consequence. The joy of Messiah's presence made fasting altogether inappropriate. Those who tasted none of it were blind to Him whom God's grace had given and sent. Greater still would be their darkness, when the Bridegroom should be taken away. Then would those that believed and loved Him fast, both spiritually and literally.
It might not be like Jews accompanied by rending of garments or with sackcloth and ashes, but deeper communion with God's mind than could be known before the Holy Spirit came to make it good. And fasting among Christians is all the more striking because of the peace, joy, and boundless delight they have in the love of Christ, and fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Still if loyal to Christ we cannot but have the constant sense of His rejection, and of the judgment ever impending and certain to fall on the guilty world, and all the more because it pays Him the hollowest of lip homage. Yes, days are come when the Bridegroom thus ignominiously taken away is still absent, and fasting lends itself to mourners, whatever their even enhanced joy in being united to Him as members of His body, a privilege never dreamed of before, and the joy of grace in the revelation and active working of a Savior God to lost sinners, Gentile no less than Jew.
But Christendom perverted fasting, through vain philosophy, into a reflection on the creative glory of God. And abstinence from meats, which He created for thanksgiving, was early turned into human merit, and the lie of inherent evil in matter. Grace and truth through Jesus Christ were thus denied; and days of fasting were imposed, as ecclesiastical history records, first by custom, and afterward by legal sanction. In the second century, if not in the first, the fatal error also drawn from philosophy was in full swing not for their life and complete cleansing by His blood, but of a twofold rule, the one for the despised flock of God, the other for the spiritual superior; the one the Precepts for all sorts, the other the Counsels of Perfection for those who aspired to a higher life, which issued in asceticism and grew into monasticism. Who can wonder that God poured contempt on these unbelieving efforts to improve the first man, by letting the flesh with all this inflation break out into the grossest immorality on one side, and legendary falsehood against God on the other? But this too was just what was found with older Platonists and Pythagoreans, who taught that it was not only lawful but commendable to deceive and lie, for the sake of truth and piety. Hence, even in those early days the large harvest of forgeries which are coming to light in our days, the witness of the rapid departure from the Christianity taught by the inspired apostles, long before the papal system systematized it and enforced it on pain of death.

Man's Hatred and Christ's Love

God has not left us in darkness as to our state, nor as to His ways in grace toward us in that state. The blessed truth of Christ's coming in love to this world, before He comes in judgment, is a testimony to our state, but also to the love of God toward us in that state; and if we neglect this testimony, we have to come before Him in judgment. “Every knee shall bow;” but there is all the difference between bowing to Him as a Savior and as a Judge. If we come to Him in grace as a Savior, we find our sins dealt with in another way than judgment. If my creditor comes to claim a debt, and I have nothing to pay, it is all over with me; but if he comes to pay it, I am clear. So we must have to do with God in one way or the other: if, as having our sins dealt with on the cross, it is putting them away; if in judgment, it is imputing them to us.
The gospel is the testimony of what God has done before the day of judgment, that man might not have to answer for his sins. It is only in Christ. For God cannot approve of iniquity—that is impossible. But it is very different to insist upon the payment of a debt, and to come and pay it. The gospel is the testimony of what Christ did as Savior before He comes as Judge; and this testimony is for us to believe.
There is the work of the Spirit of God, which gives us a sense of our sins. There is Christ's work done outside us, by which sins are remitted and forgiven to faith. There is the testimony of the Holy Spirit to give believers the knowledge of that work; for if unknown, I should be as wretched as before.
We have in this scene what the human heart is when fully brought out (for it does not always show itself). We see, too, a work in a man, and a work for a man; and then the consciousness of it wrought in his soul. God makes us know forgiveness; He has not given His Son that we should be ignorant of it. I cannot talk of walking with God, if I do not know whether He is going to condemn me, or not. Who ever heard of a criminal walking with his judge?
In looking at mankind, you will see how all were against the Lord Jesus. And why? He had healed their sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, so that Pilate could say, “Why? what evil hath he done?” I cannot call myself a Christian without saying that the world has crucified the Son of God; and the terrible fact for it is, that all His works showed Who was there. God had said, “I have yet one Son: may be they will reverence him when they see him.” But His revelation of what God is only brought out man's enmity: and now God has to say to the world, What have you done to my Son? What did He do to you? Nothing but good. Then why spit in His face, and crucify Him? If any one had done so yesterday to my mother, could I go and be “hail fellow, well met,” with him to-day? Man has done this, but when the light comes in, he confesses that he has done it, and that he cannot answer one charge in a thousand.
The world is under judgment, and assuredly will come to an end: this is owned after a fashion, and yet men go on with it, as if it were fabulous or uncertain.
The law comes to tell man what he ought to be: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;” “Thou shalt not covet.” But I know I have not loved God, and I do covet. I have broken the law through and through; and if I offend in one point, I am guilty of all. It is very simple: I tell my child not to do three things; he does not care one bit to do two of them, but he does the third, which he does care about. A man must be a monster of iniquity to have committed all the sins in the world
If you apply the law, “there is none righteous.” God however does not say this in the day of judgment; but in the day of grace He warns us. He tells us beforehand in mercy what His judgment as to us is if He were sitting on the great white throne: could it be any plainer than we have it in Rom. 3? Can a man stand up after that, and say, I am righteous? Is this the way to meet God? Is He a liar? or is man faithless?
People talk about mercy; which means they hope God will think as little about their sins as they do. A man has committed, say, ten sins, and yet he hopes to go to heaven; if he has committed eleven, he thinks that is not too much; if a hundred, he hopes still, for he has no true care for holiness. One sin shuts out from God; but the door is not shut to any, if they own their sins. If I am set to wash this table, it is not a question whether there are five spots or fifty, but can I wash it well?
But a sinner is worse still. See how man only mocks the blessed Son of God, every detail” of the scene at the cross gives us a picture of what man's heart is.
Man is never ashamed of a false religion. A Mahometan will say his prayers in the market; and if you are making a bargain with him, you may wait till he has done. A Hindu is not ashamed of the worship of his false gods. But a Christian is ashamed of Christ! And so the Lord says, “Whosoever will confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father and the holy angels.”
The chief priests, who were set to intercede for weakness, cry out for His blood. Pilate, who was to judge the guilty and protect the innocent, washes his hands of the innocent. His own disciples flee from Him. What is man?
If two men are hung together, when did you ever hear of one insulting the other, unless he had brought him into the trouble? But when it comes to Christ, even they railed at Him. The human heart is enmity against God. The moment they have the opportunity, they all trample upon Him. Thank God, He was there in grace; but it shows what our hearts are. We all know some are criminal and vicious, and some are not. But the prodigal son was as truly a sinner when he crossed his father's threshold, as when he was eating the husks; and that is where we all are.
Do you not like to do your own will? Do you not see it in your children? You find it even in them. And this is what sin is. The law condemns it, but it condemns me too: do not fancy that it only condemns the sins. It says, “Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” It does not save but curses.
The law only shows what we ought to be, but does not tell us what we are. If I apply a right rule to a person who has cheated me, what does it do? It condemns him. The law does not give life nor help, but only a measure of what a child of Adam ought to be. God tells us what we are, and He tells us before the day of judgment comes, that we may lay it to heart, and find His remedy. When Christ came, He put His sanction upon all that, for it was His own law; but He came in quite the opposite way. The law claimed the debt: Christ paid it, and this is grace! “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” God came into the world because we were sinners. He did not stay in heaven and say, You behave well, and all will be well; but He came down, because we were all wrong, to save sinners.
Who put it into God's heart to give His Son? Did you? Did the world? Why, it was in God's own heart to do it! He so loved the world, that He gave His Son. I can trust God's heart more than I can trust my own. For there is no inconsistency in His heart: He is not double-minded; and I know His thoughts of mercy concerning me and you.
But more than that: Christ died for us. Why should I go to pull a person out of a ditch, if he is not in it? Why did He taste death? Because we were under death. Why, take the cup of wrath? Because we were under judgment. What was all His sorrow about? My sins. Oh! I say, what unutterable love His, and what a sinner I must be! It gives honesty of heart, not excusing ourselves, like Adam—hiding our sins if we can, and, if not, excusing them.
If a friend comes to pay my debts, do I not take care to bring up every farthing I owe? The effect of God's love is to give honesty of heart. I believe His love; I am glad to tell Him everything, or rather to know that He knows beyond all that I can tell Him. He has come to clear us completely; and this produces honesty, instead of concealment.
God is light and love, and He must be both wherever He comes. If He comes in light, and shows me where I am, He comes in love to forgive.
Look at the poor woman who was a sinner. There was one heart in the world she could trust, and this was God's heart. Did she hide her sins? No; she came weeping and confounded about them, but she trusted the Lord; she trusted the love that brought the light to her. The great man of the house said, This man is not a prophet. He was so dark, as to have God in his house, and could not find it out: the poor woman did.
Take Peter in the ship. He goes up to Christ, and says, Depart from me. What did he go to Him for, then? He was drawn to Him by the sense of what He was, and, when there at His knees, felt he was not fit to be there. But Jesus said, Fear not.
Again, look at the converted robber. There was the Spirit's work in him, and the Lord's work for him. What does he say? The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; it is the sense of what God is. He says to his fellow, “Dost thou not fear God?” Then he confesses his sins; he owns he is suffering justly. God's light had reached his soul.
We have been saying the world is wicked; and so it is; but when the light comes, I confess that I am wicked. An honest conscience owns its sins; “we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our sins.” But he adds “This man hath done nothing amiss.” How did he know this? He had never been with Christ; he was taught of God; he could guarantee that Christ never did a wrong thing. Do your hearts pass their word for it that He never could? Has He been sufficiently revealed to your hearts for this?
Then he says to the Lord, “Remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom.” He was dying the death of the gibbet. The sign that God had come into the world was a babe lying in a manger; and He ended on the cross, all the way through having not where to lay His head. What faith in this poor thief! No matter, if all the world was against Him, He was a king, all the same; and he says to Him crucified, You will come in your kingdom.
What was he thinking of? He was in an agony of pain on the cross, but he does not say, “Save thyself and us.” He owned Jesus to be the King, but does not ask Him to spare him one bit of pain—only, “Remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom.”
How could he—he that was a robber—have such confidence in Him? Because what the light and love always do is to give confidence. What to one that was a robber, who had just owned he was suffering justly? Can you trust Him like that man, honestly confessing your sins, but confiding in God's heart when you own them? Do you trust Christ's heart? If you do not, you do not know Him, for above all He is trustworthy, and for any one.
God gives us striking examples that they may strike us. All are not robbers, but it is really the same ruin by sin for us all. Have your hearts had Christ so revealed to them, that, honest in your conscience before God, you trust God, when you know what you are? See the poor woman trusting Christ with all her sins before her. That is not so easy always; for if our sins are before us, we reason, and wonder how God will receive us. Are you wondering how God will receive you? Then you have not met Him yet, or you would know how. When the prodigal came to his father, he said nothing about, Make me as one of thy hired servants. And why not? Because his father was on his neck, kissing him as a son.
The robber owns his sins, but trusts Him. Then we hear the Lord's answer, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Now is the Son of man glorified, for to-day shalt thou be there with Me.
The poor robber was bearing the punishment of his sins from man; but who was bearing it from God? The One who hung beside him. “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” When I have confidence in Christ, I can and must go to God; for I find Christ on the way; and what is He doing there? Judging me? No; bearing all my sins. There is that blessed One, whom I have been despising all my days, and I believe that He has taken my sins and borne my burden. Yes, He has taken them all, and I shall not bear them. Trust Him, no matter how bad you are: if you cannot trust yourself or any man, trust Him.
If He has won my heart to this confidence, I find that He who is going to be Judge has already died for my sins. How then can He impute them to me? Supposing, of course, that I have owned and confessed my sins, and am coming to God about them, I find the wonderful truth that Christ has been bearing them, and that God has dealt with them, having laid them upon Christ. If I look beforehand to the day of judgment, I see in the Judge the Man who bore all my sins. How then can I dread Him? I find that God, because of my sins, has given His Son to bear them all into a wasteland, not inhabited.
The work for me is totally finished, but it is not finished in me. I ought to grow more like Him every day; but the work for me as regards my guilt is finished; and if it is not perfectly finished, when is it to be? He cannot die again, cannot suffer again, cannot drink that dreadful cup again. He suffered once, and cannot again. That cup made Him sweat great drops of blood in only thinking about what it was to be made a curse for us; and He will not drink it over again. He is set down because the work is done.
How little men thought they were sending the poor robber straight to paradise, when they sent to break his legs!
But now, about knowing it, for that is the important point, the Lord told him he was to be with Him that day. Was he, or was he not, to believe it?
It happened to him, but it was written for us. If I come to Christ, I know He has finished the atoning work, and has blotted out my sins. The work was done once for all, and through the grace of God brought to me. Knowing no other name under heaven whereby I can be saved, I am told the Lord Jesus has blotted out the sins for all that believe, and I know it! He has gone back into the glory, because He has finished the work. The Holy Ghost brings it home to our hearts, and He says Christ has finished the work. As in Rom. 4, “He died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification.” His resurrection is the proof that God has accepted the work. If Christ be not raised, ye are yet in your sins; but if raised, He has borne them, and I who believe am not in them.
What part had we in the cross, that is to say, in bringing it about? Nothing but our sins, and the hatred that killed Christ. Such is all men do! And this is what humbles us, and makes us dependent on the grace of God—we say, my sins brought Him there; but God, instead of putting me away, put them away.
Why is the gospel preached? Is it that we should know it, or that we should not? Christ has made peace by the blood of His cross; and how careful God is to show us this, that we may be happy! Defiled, I am cleansed; guilty, I am justified. Do you say, but I have offended God dreadfully? So you have, but there is forgiveness with Him that He may be feared. God has nothing against faith: Christ has borne all for the believer. He took the fruit of my sins, and I receive the fruit of His work. If we come thus to God, the very Christ who put our sins away is the very Judge before whom we shall appear. How do believers come before the judgment-seat? “Sown in dishonor, raised in glory.” He comes, and receives me to Himself; and this is the way I get to the judgment-seat. How can the believer fear, if, when he sees his Judge, he is like Him?
What opened the Samaritan's heart in John 4? Not speaking about the living water, but “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” Her heart was opened by her conscience being reached. “If thou knewest the gift of God.” He gives, and does not impute. If you knew Who it was that came so low as to be dependent on a woman like you for a drink of water, you would have confidence in Him. And so would you, if you knew why the Son of God came down to a manger and a cross; you would have confidence in Him.
And that is what God is doing in Christ—winning back the confidence of man's heart, when he cannot trust Him because of his sins. The love of God came into the world when men were in their sins. There was love enough in Christ to give Himself.
Do you believe that love? If so, there is the plain statement, “By him all that believe are justified from all things.” He did not bear half, and leave me to perish by the other half. Accordingly when I come to Him, I find that instead of meeting me in the way of judgment, He has met me in the day of grace.

John the Baptist

It is evident that John the Baptist holds a unique place among the outstanding servants of God of whom we read in the Bible; there was no greater born of women. So says the unerring voice of our Lord; but also the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Clearly not because such a one is in himself greater than that strenuous missioner, but because of the wonderful position that grace was about to confer upon the simplest believer who has part in the “kingdom of heaven,” and of all therein involved. But John was great in his individual position, as were Abraham and Joseph, Moses and Elijah. In short the Baptist was the link between Judaism and Christianity. He was also (and this was a still higher distinction, though bound up with the former one) the Forerunner of the Messiah, His Messenger, as he is styled in Malachi, and duly appeared in Judaea to herald Him to whom all the prophets had borne witness, and whose shoes' latchet John says he was not worthy to stoop down and unloose. This, we know, was the office of the humblest slave. Such was the reverence paid by the Baptist to the Lord Jesus. Whatever the grace shown us (and faith loves to appropriate in proportion to its vigor), still we can never be too reverent. An intelligent appreciation of Christian liberty is not more becoming than the humility that would veil the face and the feet (Isa. 6).
Now this reverential attitude on the part of John the Baptist was displayed on the occasion of the Lord's baptism, when He, in lowly grace and desiring to fulfill all righteousness, took His place with the faithful remnant, and submitted to be baptized by His servant. It was indeed natural for the latter to demur, nor did such diffidence in the least indicate a weak character. There is no necessary connection between reverence and weakness, any more than there is between weakness and affection. Rather is it the other way. At any rate John was habitually stern, as the burden of his mission was a vehement call to repentance. No doubt he did not then enter very clearly into what lay before his Master, spite of many a pointed prediction and pathetic forecast in psalm and prophecy. It was his to warn solemnly of coming judgment as he told of Him Whose fan was in His hand, and Who would thoroughly purge His floor, burning up the chaff with fire unquenchable. Yet the same John was the first to point to the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. This is in keeping with what we often find in Scripture, viz. the union of opposites. It was one of the seven angels that had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues that showed to another John the Holy City.
Thus, although the general purport of his message was judgment, the Baptist bore striking and comprehensive testimony to grace, and to the Savior's work. Afterward, it is true, he was fain in a moment of dejection to wonder whether after all Jesus was He that should come, or whether another was to be looked for. Some expositors, we know, anxious for the credit of this most honored servant of Christ, have explained his question as asked on behalf of others rather than his own. But such carefulness is unnecessary. One only was perfect, who always said and did the right thing; and He was more than man, though most truly man. At the same time we need not wonder if John was depressed. Think of the gloom of his surroundings in Herod's prison. Thence it was that he sent two of his disciples to our Lord to prefer the question alluded to above.
But earlier how nobly the same John had answered those who told him that all were flocking to Jesus. Did they think it would fret his spirit? At least they seemed not to understand this desertion on the part of his disciples. Probably there was honest perplexity in their minds. So John tells them that far from feeling slighted, he was glad, and his joy was thereby made full. He had told them he was not the Christ, and he gladly retires that the Christ may be all. What if he had to decrease day by day, while Jesus increased? This was but the heightening of his joy. He was the friend of the Bridegroom, and he rejoiced greatly to hear the Bridegroom's voice, not to hear his own. What a lesson for us! Still the Lord deigns to speak through the faltering lips of His servants. R. B.

2 Peter 1:5-7

We have seen how carefully from the first the apostle was led to point out the distinctive character of Christianity in dealing with souls. It was not now the law, as they had known, demanding consistency with obligations to the God of Israel from a people in the flesh already formed and owned, as well as directed by a divinely appointed priesthood to maintain them according to the legal covenant for the trial if thus they could stand in His sight. The result was not only idolatry but the rejection of their own Messiah, the Righteous One, and, as He told them, in the consummation of the age the reception of the antichrist (John 5:42), the man of sin, and the destruction of that generation with him. The gospel is founded on the wholly different principle of sovereign grace; another character of things follows with results in manifest contrast. It addresses Jew and Gentile as alike guilty and lost. It calls them by faith in Christ to the God that reconciled us to Himself by the sinless One whom He made sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in Him. Therefore is the ministry of reconciliation to win sinful souls through the saving grace of God; and the ministry of the church to nourish and guide the saints into and by all the truth, Christ being the great Priest, Advocate, and Head, etc., and the saved made kings and priests now in title and enjoyment, manifestly so in the day of glory.
Hence the stress here laid on their having received like precious faith (ver. 2), and (vers. 3, 4) on the same knowledge of Him that called by His own glory and excellence, through which He hath granted to us the greatest and precious promises, far beyond those to Israel. . .that through these they might become partakers of a divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world through lust. For Peter ever insists on plain moral realities. For these no ordinances or institutions avail. In Christianity there is and must be the direct communication of God's grace and truth in Christ to the soul, and the consequent knowledge of God, with approach to Him in the confidence of His love and of our own nearness to Him in known favor, all sins being forgiven. For it is indeed no energy or desert on our part, but His divine power that has granted us all the things that pertain to life and godliness. Faith is the appropriating means.
Yet is much more needed on our part, which the apostle proceeds to enforce. A divine nature requires all care and diligence that it may grow; and as its spring and fullness are in Christ, and it is communicated and revealed to us by the word through the Spirit's agency, so is it formed in all that is suited to it by its requisite food and exercise, aims, and objects.
“But for this very thing also, bringing in besides all diligence, in your faith supply virtue, and in virtue knowledge, and in knowledge temperance, and in temperance endurance, and in endurance godliness, and in godliness brotherly affection, and in brotherly affection love” (vers. 5-7).
It is evident that the apostle is here enforcing experimental reality in the saints. But the Auth. Version hardly gives the force adequately. It is not “And besides this,” but an energetic call for what is due to the grace of God in communicating the signal blessing of being sharers in a divine nature through faith in His very great and precious promises. Even a fleshly mind might and does deduce from the power and certainty of divine grace that there is room for earnest and practical purpose of heart on the part of the believer. But scripture enlarges the argument, warns against sloth and easy-going, and summons to assiduous diligence on all sides. For this very reason also are they, along with what they had already, to apply diligence in every way.
Thus it may be seen that salvation, as Peter was given to view it, is not regarded (as in Eph. 2:8, 2 Tim. 1:9, and Titus 3:5) as complete in Christ, but rather a process going on to the end of the journey through the desert (as also in the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Philippians, Hebrews, etc.). They are distinct aspects of the truth, and one as true though not so elevated as the other, but both highly important to hold fast and discriminate. For it is our privilege as full-grown, or in that sense “perfect,” Christians to enjoy the unclouded certainty and comfort of a salvation so complete, that we are not only quickened together with Christ, but risen together, and seated down together in the heavenlies in Him. For this we must turn to the later Epistles of the apostle Paul. Yet none the less are we, as full grown too, to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that works in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure, with the prize in view, and at the goal of His coming as Savior to conform our body of humiliation unto His body of glory (Phil. 2; 3).
We are already by grace partakers of a divine nature; but we are still in a body not yet redeemed, and passing through a world of corruption through lust. And we that are in the tabernacle do groan, being burdened, not as once when in bondage, but because we are only freed in the Spirit and have still to await sonship in full, the redemption of our body (2 Cor. 5, Rom. 8). Hence we need meanwhile to bring to bear all diligence in presence of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Nor is it only a question of our weakness and exposure, if unwatchful to prayer or in any measure heedless of the word; for we belong to the Father and the Son, and are bound to witness a good confession by the Holy Spirit in word and deed.
It is assumed that all those addressed have faith, and are therefore not told to furnish it. But that we might be formed spiritually, or grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as is said later, we are exhorted here, not exactly to “add to” our faith, but to “supply in it” virtue, or spiritual courage before a hostile world. Phil. 4:8 has been cited vainly to oppose this: whether moral worth or spiritual vigor, it is just as clearly the sense there as here. A sense more vague would enfeeble both texts. It is the first out of seven requisites here laid down for practical need and power. The Christian has urgent occasion for them all, and it might be on any day and every day; so that we are not to conceive a progress from one to the other by successive stages, however wisely the order is here given by His power who inspired the writer. There is a perceptible rise in their character; but the principle of each and all more or less marks the believer from first to last, though here he is called very impressively to make them all his own.
Assuredly the youngest saint quickly finds the value of supplying in his faith virtue or moral power. This he needs to support faith, that he may not swerve from his new-born capacity of seeing things in God's light, instead of using the light of his own eyes or those of other men. As the Lord Himself, after He was divinely acknowledged the Son of God, was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, so it is with each son of God by faith in Christ Jesus. We too in our measure are put to the proof, and need courage to resist the adversary, steadfast in faith, and subject to scripture. The confession of faith makes one an immediate mark for Satan's attack. But we have to apply scripture in due season. It may be for the babe the guileless milk of the word; but this is just the food whereby he grows unto salvation. It may be rather the solid for those of full age. In any case it is not the mere bread of man's labor, but the revelation of God which is the means of growing up unto Christ in all things. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” His word quickens. It reveals Christ the life-giver, and thus associates the quickened soul with God Himself immediately.
But clearly spiritual vigor is not all. Knowledge is necessary as well as courage. Scripture supplies it reliably, and in the N. T. both amply and with special precision to Christian privilege for direction and instruction. How beautiful the scene which Luke 2 presents of our blessed Lord, at twelve years of age, sitting in the midst of the Jewish teachers, both hearing them and asking them questions, when all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers! He was true man as well as God, advancing in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and men. As partakers of a divine nature we have a new capacity from above; and yet more we received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is of God, that we might consciously know the things freely given us by God. There is thus the fullest provision made for these wants, and no excuse for a Christian's ignorance of divine things. The natural or foolish man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But the spiritual discerns all things, and himself is discerned by no one. For which knew Jehovah's mind, who shall instruct Him? But we have Christ's mind. How wondrous yet true is this abiding privilege of the Christian!
Again, “in knowledge” supply “temperance” or self-control. Knowledge, however precious, has its danger of puffing up, and begetting contentions; and in itself it is a poor safeguard against lust, feeling, or passion. There is therefore the utmost need of self-restraint. Against such a guard there is no law: rather is it a calm preservative against inflation, and so falling into the fault of the evil one, as well as reproach and his snare. At no time do we more need to watch than when our feelings are acutely wounded. For they only blind us to the character of any hasty impulse and hurry us to sacrifice every Christian consideration to self. But this we are bound to distrust. It was exactly what in no case or degree wrought in Christ, who ever bowed to His Father in accepting from Him the utmost slight, dishonor, and contempt which came from those among whom He went about doing good, especially from God's people in their unbelief.
No doubt, there is the deeper pain if our trial come from His children, and the keener if from such as we specially trusted and valued. But the point for the soul, and above all for God, is not what this one has done or that said (lest it should rankle and inflame), but am I above it all by grace? am I self-restrained through (not self, but) Christ working in me? This enables one not to brood on what provokes, but to think on the things lovely, and of good report, which heat on our own account makes us forget. If others stumble, am I manifesting Christ?
But there is suffering for righteousness, if not for Christ's name, that is never far or long from a Christian's path; and thus he has need of self-control supplying “endurance.” He is not to quail if called to suffer ever so wrongfully. How unworthy, natural as it is, to complain because of this! Would it be any satisfaction, or real alleviation, if one deserved it? “For it is better, if the will of God should will it, to suffer as well-doers than as evil-doers.” “But if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but glorify God in this name.” Yes, believers have need of endurance. Let us then, in “self-control” that puts a quiet but needed check on ourselves and on every device of self-will, supply “endurance” under any wrong inflicted by others. This is quite compatible with, not reserve, but plain rebuke of a saint who so errs.
Yet another want of at least equal or greater weight is next urged: “in endurance godliness” or piety. What more momentous for the soul than preserving the links of reverence and affection, of dependence and obedience, in fresh and constant exercise with God and our Lord Jesus! Yet such is the pressure of work, to say nothing of the course of the age, the deceitfulness of riches, the disappointment at loss, or lusts of other things, that the peril from any earthly preoccupation is great. But here we are reminded to supply godliness in its constant place. To confide in Him, to bow implicitly to His will assured that it is the best, is all the more blessed in the pressure of the persecutions that try our endurance. For indeed He is good, and does good, overcame evil in our case with His good, and strengthens even us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. If we do not know what we should pray for as befitting, we do know that all things work together for good to those that love God. And surely this our piety feels. To the same end he bade them in his First Epistle (3:14, 15) not to fear the world's fear, nor be troubled, “But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord,” as He had Jehovah always before Him.
Then we are reminded that paying God His due takes nothing from “brotherly affection,” but on the contrary both cherishes and controls it; for in godliness, which is fitting and necessary to be supreme, we are told to supply this exercise of grace. As the apostle Paul wrote concerning it to the young and dear Thessalonian converts, “Ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. For also this ye do toward all the brethren in the whole of Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, to abound yet more.” Nevertheless brotherly affection has its limits because of its nature and its objects; for it is not God, and it may often let in what shuts Him out. Thus brethren too frequently slip into evil of one sort or another; and if brotherly affection be pressed (as commonly it is) as the acme of love, what mischief must arise for the saints! and what dishonor to the Lord and the truth!
Therefore mark the divine wisdom and the profit for us, in that the apostle here distinguishes, instead of confounding, “love”; for he closes with “in brotherly kindness love.” Higher than this last he could not rise; for not only is love of God, but God is love. It is of all moment that in brotherly kindness we should supply that love which is of God, and which God is. Nothing here evinces the wretchedly fallen state of Christendom more than the chorus of commentators who think of nothing beyond brotherly kindness save love to all mankind, even enemies, overlooking the source and power of all good. So Alford and Wordsworth, Bloomfield, Webster and Wilkinson, &c. among moderns speak for most shades of modern theology; and the ancients as far as one knows are no better.
Even John Calvin's remarks, which were consulted after writing thus, are singularly meager, passing by the beautiful circle of truth here given us. From virtue and knowledge he turns off with few words to brotherly affection, and has no more to say of love than “Charitas latius patet, quia totum humanum genus complectitur” (“Love extends more widely, because it embraces the whole human race”). This is enough to represent the mind of the Reformers, of whom Calvin was regarded as the chief expositor. It is wholly defective and erroneous; for such a view loses what one of them calls “the crown of Christian virtue.” Surely it would be, not a meet climax, but a descent from the deep and faithful character of special affection toward the holy brotherhood to universal and benevolent love for men as such. He speaks like the author of Saturday Evening, chap. 12, who was far too humanitarian.
On the contrary it is an immense and blessed elevation from that affection, high as it is, to “love” in its fullest nature. And so speaks the apostle Paul who communicated not a little to his brother apostle of the circumcision for both his Epistles, and wrote to the Galatian brethren, after pressing on them “bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering,” with a forbearing and forgiving spirit. “And over (or, to) all these, love which is the bond of perfectness” (3:12, 14), as he wrote to the Colossians at a later day. Nor need we quote the Epistles of John, rich as is their contribution of proof to the same effect. The reason too is quite plain. God's nature in its active energy of love is the complement of all, the standard withal that strengthens us against every evil. Love, as known in Him, of which Christ is the full expression, while the most expansive of affections as it is necessarily, maintains all His character intact, refuses any sacrifice of His rights to indulge or palliate a brother's fault or error, and rises to its full height in God.
Yet how deep and wondrous this is in the God who gave His beloved Only-begotten Son that we, lost and dead, might live through Him, who was sent into the world with life eternal in Himself for every one that believed! yea, to be the propitiation for our sins, that the evil in us, intolerable to Him and grief and abhorrence to us, might be blotted out forever! Not that we then loved Him, but He us to the uttermost: wherefore we do love Him whose perfect love casts out fear. We love, because He first loved us. God is love; and he that abides in love abides in God, and God in Him. Thus love gives its best force but also its preservative guard to brotherly affection; whilst it has its own highest and deepest scope according to its divine spring, nature, and character. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11); but he never says that we “ought” to love God; for this we do, if indeed called according to purpose. It may be hard sometimes to love a brother when naughty; but we do love God always. What does it tell to leave this out?
It may be of interest for some to know that the too famous Bp. Warburton preached a sermon on these three verses, entitled, “The Edification of Gospel Righteousness” (Works, v. 123-143, 4to, 1788). But able as it is in his peculiar fashion, and not without his strong impression of its divine wisdom, it is vitiated by his ignorance of grace and truth, and so completely that he takes for granted (p. 127) that the N. T., here as elsewhere, refers us to what the Religion of Nature (!) taught concerning virtue for example.

Moses or Manasseh?

Q.-Judg. 18:30. The Revised Version substitutes “Moses” for “Manasseh” in this verse. Has this change good authority? INQUIRER.
A.—The R. V. is not without good reason for the change from “Manasseh” to “Moses.” Even D. Kimchi, a famous Rabbi, allowed that the copyists were ashamed that a grandson of the legislator should have sunk into becoming the priest of an idol, and sought to conceal the fact by the substitution of “Manasseh.” De Rossi as well as Kennicott have the witness of MSS. for the true reading. Even in the Masoretic text there is the remarkable and suspicious circumstance that the “n” is written above the proper line. Now this is the only letter in the unpointed Hebrew, by which the one name differs from the other.
It may be added that the two incidents at the end of Judges (chaps. 17; 18, and 19-21) are not in chronological sequence of what precedes (as a careless reader might assume from their place), but occurred in the early days of its history. Both took place in the second generation after Aaron and Moses, as attested by Gershom's son in the one, and by Phinehas in the other. The aim of both accounts was to show how deeply Israel was even then corrupted Godward and manward.
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Joseph: 6. Blessed in the Tower House

We can readily conceive the difficulty for Joseph's master created by the wife's perfidy. On the one hand was the proved unimpeachable trustworthiness of his slave; on the other a wife capable of such solicitation must have long betrayed her evil character in many ways if not in that, so as to make her credit dubious. Still she was his wife; and whatever her bold, impudent, and malicious fraud, we hear of no effort on Joseph's part to vindicate himself by exposing her wickedness. A simple denial of the evil she laid to his charge would not avail against the natural indignation of a husband unwilling to search narrowly into the terrible alternative.
“And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife which she spoke to him, saying, After this manner did thy bondman to me, that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph's master took him and put him in the tower-house, a place where the king's prisoners [were] confined; and he was there in the tower-house. And Jehovah was with Joseph, and extended mercy to him, and gave him favor in the eyes of the chief of the tower-house. And the chief of the tower-house committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that [were] in the tower-house; and whatever they were doing there he did. The chief of the tower-house looked not to anything under his hand, because Jehovah was with him; and what he did Jehovah made to prosper” (vers. 19-23).
Unnatural as was the cruelty of his brothers which ended in his slavery, baser still was the fresh trial through a woman's guilty rage. In them both Joseph suffered, for love and for righteousness' sake. In both Jehovah stood by His wronged servant, and caused His favor to rest on him even during the time of his sufferings. Never had his master a slave so efficient and prosperous. Never had chief of the tower-house such a prisoner. Which of the king's grandees in disgrace had ever so won his confidence? In both cases the secret of all was that Jehovah was with Joseph. Brothers, strangers, or jailers made no difference. Violence did not overcome him, any more than corruption; he overcame evil with good; and the heathen recognized it, if the evil state of his brothers blinded them for a while. It was hard enough for a free man to be sold into slavery; it was harder still for a pious man to be condemned for a crime, to which the false accuser had invited him in vain. But Jehovah was with Joseph, and extended mercy to him, and gave him favor where it might least have been expected. Slaves and felons do not as such approve themselves in the eyes of their guardians, as everyone knows.
But God abides the same forever, and in fact now reveals Himself more endearing still as Father to all that believe since the Son came thus to reveal Him. The enmity of the world was even more pronounced when the true Light shone, and made the darkness visible universally, and the ancient people of God deeper in their enmity than the blind Gentiles. In Christ was no sin; and thus He, the righteous One, convicted them as only the guiltier sinners, because of their blasphemous unbelief along with religious pretension. And what were Joseph's sufferings compared with His? Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures. Once (and it was ample) He suffered for our sins, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God cleared of all charge or condemnation. None but Christ could thus suffer for us; for all others had sins to be atoned for. He alone who knew no sin could be made sin for us, as God made Him on the cross. His sacrificial suffering there furnished the efficacious ground for God's righteousness, not only in raising Christ from the dead, but in justifying all that believe on Him. Thus, where sin abounded, did grace all the more surpass; and man's total failure in righteousness is answered in the cross which lays the necessary, adequate, and blessed ground for God's righteousness which we become in Christ.
But though none but Christ could suffer for sins, we who believe on Him are called, when doing well, to suffer and take it patiently, as grace with God. So the apostle suffered the loss of all things, and went on counting them but refuse to win Christ on high and be found in Him, not having his righteousness that is of law but what is through faith of Christ, the righteousness of God on faith: to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed to His death, if anyhow he might arrive at the resurrection from among the dead. This was undoubtedly the bright personal experience of the apostle; but it is divinely communicated to us for our like edification, and open to every saint in the power of the Spirit Who alone can make it good in our spirit and conversation. See how his faith shone in what he wrote at the last to Timothy when with a slight exception all those in Asia turned away from the apostle, “ashamed of his chain.” Yet looking for the punishment of death, he sees the crown of righteousness laid up for him, and tells how, when no man stood with him, the Lord did and should deliver him from every wicked work, and preserve him for his heavenly kingdom.

God's Purposes and Ways in the Feasts: the Feast of Tabernacles

It has been seen that a new era distinctly marked the ways of God in the blowing of Trumpets which led to the unique and eventful Day of Atonement: a time which not only contemplates those concerned being in Jerusalem, but that their mourning and bitterness is associated with the return of their Messiah from heaven to the very spot and place from which He ascended. The final Feast of Tabernacles is evidently dependent upon Christ Himself coming to introduce and establish the day of glory; then this closing Feast will be truly kept and continued from year to year at Jerusalem, the divinely appointed metropolis of the whole earth, the city of the King of kings, and Lord of lords. He it is Who will sit between the cherubim, and, as the Royal Priest in true Melchizedek power and glory, will establish and bless in righteousness and peace.
This blessed time, the theme of Psalms and Prophets, will be known by Israel, when after beholding the wounds of their pierced Messiah, they will be brought under the value of the blood of atonement, and what is written of the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23) will be accomplished, incomparably beyond the typical language thus stated. “Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah, on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you, and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah; it is a solemn assembly and ye shall do no servile work therein.” Then follows the special feature of the feast. “Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto Jehovah seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day, the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and ye shall rejoice before Jehovah your God seven days,.... Ye shall dwell in booths seven days... that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths.” This joyful assembly should begin and end on the sabbath, with the addition of an eighth day. But it begins after the vintage and ingathering of the harvest; which implies that the land and people had been cleansed, not only by discriminating, but also by utterly unsparing, judgment when the bad will have been removed and the good grain gathered in, as to which the prophetic Jewish scripture of Matt. 24 is instructive. At the appearance of the Son of man the tribes shall mourn, when they shall see Him coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Clearly the elect of God's earthly people is here meant to be gathered to celebrate the harvest feast on the first sabbath. It is a statement distinctly Jewish, denoting the renewal of the Jewish feasts and sabbaths in their own land: a fact not true since the scattering, after crucifying their Messiah.
Strange as it may seem to the Christian who is enjoined (as being dead and risen with Christ) against having to do with holy days, new moons and sabbaths; yet Israel will again keep her sabbaths and feasts. Indeed both the Passover and Feast of Tabernacles will be obediently observed as well as the revived sacrifices and priesthood. Not as once pointing on to the Antitype, but in the instructive retrospect of His having come, and made good for them in manifest glory all that Jehovah shadowed forth, as His sovereign intention of grace for the nation, for whom their Messiah died. Not only was the blood of the everlasting covenant shed by Him Who is raised and glorified, but in due course its application to Israel of Abraham's unconditional promises (as yet unfulfilled) will be made good, with all their glorious accompaniments. Many Old Testament scriptures testify to Israel's coming glorious kingdom; but Ezekiel gives a striking order from chap. 36 to the end of the book, where the future is set forth as to the land, people, city and temple, with its restored ritual, crowned with the closing words, “Jehovah is there.”
Chap. 36. deals with Israel's uncleanness when Jehovah their God will give them a new heart and spirit. “And ye shall dwell in the land which I gave unto your fathers, and ye shall be My people and I will be your God.” When cleansed from all their iniquities, and dwelling in their cities, they shall say, “This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden.” Moreover the remarkable vision of the figure of dry bones, giving the present state of Israel dead and buried among the nations, declares their restoration and union as one people under the antitypical David, their king. Wholly lost, and unknown to man as the ten tribes are, Ezek. 37 shows them definitely gathered back to their land at the appointed time, as well as united to Judah as “one stick,” which has never been the case since the days of Solomon. “Neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more.” Jehovah also declares, “My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” Such holy and blessed statements may well be followed by the description of the coming glory of the temple and city, with the appointed sacrifices, sabbaths, and feasts, leading to the celebration of the passover before their temple with its returned glory. Then assuredly they will read their glory, blessing, and redemption, in the light of the Cross, which the Passover and the varied sacrifices will declare beyond all typical days. Thus, when reaping the full harvest of the precious fruit of the death of their Messiah, they as a united blessed nation will be fitted to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
The remembrance of their long history will heighten the value of the death of Christ, which secured everything and righteously laid the basis of the new covenant. Nor this only, for their booths on their houses will recall the wilderness life and path, when they dwelt in tents with the given shade, tears, and overcomings, which the thick trees, willows, and palm branches may severally signify, as doubtless will be the lesson learned to call forth their joyful praise and worship, as they appear before Jehovah of hosts in His sanctuary. That this Feast will be held when the Messiah, the King of glory, is in His temple, is clear from Zech. 14.
Moreover, it will be kept year by year, at the time when the representatives of the nations of the earth go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, adding, “And to keep the feast of tabernacles.” Then the precious things recorded in Isa. 60 about the future sanctuary of Jehovah and His people will be realized, when He will make the place of His feet glorious, and Jehovah shall be unto them their everlasting light, and “thy God, thy glory; and the days of thy mourning shall be ended; and they shall inherit the land forever.” When the glory of Jehovah is then risen and shining upon the land, and peoples, Gentiles and their kings will minister to them, like the queen of Sheba, beholding with wonder, and bringing glory and riches in homage to the true Solomon, the King of glory, Israel's reigning Messiah. Such will be the sabbath and complete circle of the seven days' joy and glory, the last and final Feast of Tabernacles to continue surely through the full and perfect reign of Jesus, the King of the Jews, and King of the whole earth.
Moreover, does not the eighth day imply going on to the skirts of eternal rest and glory, when dispensations will close, and millennial glory will be merged or established in that period when God will be all in all? Then will the fruit of redemption in the eternal blessedness of God's own rest be fully realized in the stability of the new heaven and the new earth. Surely in the retrospect it only remains for those having part in it to bow in lowly worship at the little seen and touched upon of the marvelous wisdom in the ways of God, past, present, and future. Above all we bless His Son Who, by His death as the one and only effectual sacrifice, so glorified God, as to secure these precious results both for the heaven and the earth; for the church above and Israel below. Both await the coming of the Savior. The heavenly saints meet Him in the air, to go into heaven for the marriage of the Lamb; and Israel, when for them His precious feet shall again touch Mount Olivet, shall have the earthly kingdom and glory.
Till then may the teaching and lessons in the wonderful ways of God be better known in sanctified grace and power, make the word of God a deeper reality, and beget an intelligent holy walk, till our Lord and Savior make good His word, “Surely I come quickly.”
What Israel will presently learn of the mind of the Lord and His marvelous ways, the heavenly people are now privileged by the Spirit of God to know still better, and can already exclaim:
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out... For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things, to Whom be glory forever. Amen.” G. G.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 6. The Right of Redemption

Here as elsewhere is no hiding of the people's failure in responsibility. Each would surely have his portion in Jehovah's land. Each was to enjoy the sabbath year of the land to Jehovah. For each throughout all the land the joyful sound of the jubilee should sound after forty-nine years, proclaiming liberty and return, each to his possession. Not because they were more numerous or able, nor yet that they were more righteous than others, had they been chosen; but because Jehovah loved Israel, and because He would keep the oath He had sworn to their fathers, He brought them out with a powerful hand from the then greatest kingdom on earth that oppressed them, redeeming them out of the house of bondage, and giving them these pledges of unfailing rest and deliverance for the day when judgment falls on the inhabited earth. But Israel shall have the kingdom under the whole heavens under the Son of man: an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom which shall not be destroyed.
Yet it is a great mistake to confound this coming day of blessing for His earthly people with the secret hid in God, and thus from ages and generations, for Christ's glory in the heavens and the joint-heirs with Him, His heavenly bride. Restitution of all things now ruined here below is quite different from that glory which is above the world, wherein all distinction between Jew and Gentile disappears; because Christ is “the all” for all on high, in the faith of which the Christian and the church are called now to walk. In the world to come, whatever the blessing to every family on earth, the daughter of Zion shall have the first dominion; for great will be the Holy One of Israel in the midst of her. The glorified above as one with Christ shall with Him share the universe. He is given head over all things to the church, His body.
Meanwhile on the side of man failure is anticipated and provided for; and here is contemplated the first case of loss through poverty, the form which failure must take in this type; and which we know in a still deeper way.
“If thy brother grow poor and sell of his possession, then shall his nearest of kin come and redeem what his brother sold. And if the man have no one having right of redemption, and his hand hath attained and found sufficiency for its redemption, then shall he reckon the years since his sale, and restore the overplus to the man to whom he sold it; and so return to his possession. And if his hand, have not found what sufficeth to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee; and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.”
“If” is a serious word for man. No doubt it is righteous; but the fact is that the first man breaks down and fails in his responsibility. He is fallen and a sinner; and of this Israel in the past is the constant witness. Every help that mercy could furnish, while law governed, Israel enjoyed, priesthood, offering, sacrifice. But the failure was ever more and more; and the rejection of their own Messiah, added to their previous idolatry, made their tenure of Jehovah's land impossible, and their scattering over the earth complete, till the repentance of a godly remnant and return to their Messiah in heart. This will be of Jehovah's mercy enduring forever, and through the atonement which grace applies to Israel in that great day. For Jesus will then be owned as the Kinsman Redeemer. And He will indeed come to redeem. The right is His, and He will not fail to recognize and apply it, in everlasting mercy.
But Israel must be made willing. And so it shall be in the day of His power. They refused Him to their own sin and shame and loss in the day of His humiliation, proud as man is so often of his poverty, and blind to his need of grace. Kin otherwise will have failed, and their own hand will have attained to no sufficiency. But grace will count that the time of suffering is accomplished, and that iniquity is pardoned through Him that loved His people and suffered for their sins. It is quite a mistake that mankind is here in question, however wide the gospel call. But redemption, whether for forgiveness of sins, or deliverance of the body, is of believers only. The theologians forget relationship, or vaguely misapply it. We hear of a brother who had his possession lost through unfaithfulness, and restored through grace triumphant over all difficulties. And Israel will be the standing and public witness, both of the loss through evil, and of the gain through grace. Yet the merit is not theirs in any way but only of Jesus, as the grace here and in every case is of God delighting in good of His own nature and of His own will, which rises above creature weakness and worthlessness, whatever the fruits of His Spirit in any.

Proverbs 21:24-31

We have seen that “slow to speak” is a safeguard against troubles; we now hear how evil it is to be swift to wrath and its expression. How many are the evils of humanity as it is!
“A proud [and] arrogant one, scorner [is] his name, dealeth in haughtiness of pride.
The longing of the sluggard killeth him; for his hands refuse to work.
He longeth greedily all the day; but the righteous giveth and withholdeth not.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more [when] he bringeth it with a wicked purpose!
A false witness shall perish; but the man that heareth shall speak enduringly.
A wicked man hardeneth his face; but the upright, he ordereth (or, considereth) his way.
[There is] no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against Jehovah.
The horse [is] prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance [is] of Jehovah” (vers. 24-31).
If self-control in speech protects from many a trouble, how different is the scorner's lot and reputation! For pride and arrogance can brook no difference, haughty to superiors and disdainful where they can dare it. O what a blessed relief to learn of Him who was meek and lowly in heart! Yet was He the Son of the Highest, who bowed absolutely to His will, when despised, rejected, and loathed of men. “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight!”
Honest labor has its duty, its interests, and its satisfaction. Sloth, which shirks from the work of the hands, leaves all the more room for carking care because of its fruitless desires, disappointed even to death.
The empty longing fills the day, in vain for the man himself and every one else. The righteous on the contrary, with a conscience exercised in the duties of his relationship, has the means through his diligence to open both heart and hand ungrudgingly to the need around him.
Jehovah has respect to the person before his offering. If it be a wicked person, how could his sacrifice be other than an abomination? So in Isa. 66:1-4 we read of the apostate Jews in the latter day: they may trust in the temple they build, where once the Lord of glory filled it; they may sacrifice a lamb, and offer an oblation, and present a memorial of incense, but they are no better than a dog's neck or swine's blood, or blessing an idol in His eyes who looks for and to the afflicted and contrite that tremble at His word. Worse still is it to bring a sacrifice with wicked aim, as superstition does.
Witness-bearing is the more solemn, because done with deliberate purpose and before God avowedly as well as man. To be false thus is indeed ruinous; but to hear the call and speak the truth is to honor God and serve man, and such a one speaks unchallenged and abidingly.
A wicked man has no shame, he acts and speaks with no restraint. Not so the upright, who looks up for the direction of his way, and considers well his steps.
No axiom so sure as that every claim to wisdom, understanding, or counsel against Jehovah is utter folly. Only destruction can be the end of such a policy.
And in vain is it to trust in ordinary means without Him. The horse may be prepared for the battle; but the victory is with neither the rider nor his horse. Deliverance is of Jehovah.

Gospel Words: the Salt of the Earth

The Lord had laid down in vers. 5-9 the distinctive moral qualities suited to the kingdom of the heavens, with the supplemental blessednesses in sufferings (10-12). He now proceeds to state definitely their position here below according to His mind. The first is given in ver. 13, answering to righteousness, as we saw in the earlier qualities He endorses; the second in 14-16, answering to the outgoing energy of grace, remains for its separate notice in due season.
Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It availeth for nothing any more but to be cast without and trodden under foot of men” (ver. 13).
The disciples were familiar with salt not only in ordinary life but in the oblation to Jehovah,
“the salt of the covenant of thy God”: “with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt” (Lev. 2:13). And so we read of “a covenant of salt”: as expressive figuratively of what was to be preserved inviolate and unchanging (Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5). Accordingly the Lord, in Matt. ix. 49,50, declares that “every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt [is] good; but if the salt become saltless wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another.”
If fire represents God's avenging judgment of evil, salt does no less clearly His preserving power in relation with Himself. For, as the Lord lets us know, the figures of the law are now by and in Him translated from the past shadows into present and everlasting realities. There is therefore a necessary dealing with “everyone” because all are ruined by sin. Faith bows to this now, as unbelief braves the warning to find it solemnly true and too late vindicated for eternity before the great white throne, and the unquenchable fire that follows. But as grace sent the Savior to bear God's unsparing judgment when He made Jesus on the cross sin for us, so the believer judges himself all the more when he recognizes in Him that suffered without the gate the true and divine sin-offering, consumed to ashes without the camp; Whose blood enters in all its value the holy of holies, and entitles himself boldly to approach even there, with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having the heart sprinkled from a wicked conscience, and the body washed with pure water.
He then, there, and thus was salted with fire in a way of absolute perfection as none other could be, as those who reject Him must be in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. But all who believe enjoy the full efficacy of that fire of God which He endured for our sins, whilst given to judge ourselves as in the sight of God and to reckon ourselves dead with Him to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus; for he that died is justified from sin as well as sins. We have also the privilege of “every sacrifice salted with salt.” It is not only that “our God is a consuming fire” against every evil thing, every inconsistency with relationship to Him and with His nature; but as offered to God, our bodies even as a living sacrifice, we know and have the seasoning with salt that we may be kept pure and incorrupt, abhorring any working of flesh as vile and condemned in Christ's death.
The disciples had yet to learn that wondrous and mighty sacrifice of His; but here they find themselves set in the only position which suited Him, and them too associated with Him. Its moral nature, not only inwardly but publicly, is here conveyed by the words. “Ye are the salt of the earth.” To the Son as to the Father anything but this pure and purifying or at least preservative savor was intolerable for the kingdom of the heavens which they were to enter on the earth. The law, as we are told, made nothing perfect. And Moses, in view of Israel's hardheartedness, allowed what could not be when God was revealed in a Son. In that divine light He looks for suitability to His holiness. How it was to be made good in them they did not yet know; for the discourses on the mount did not unfold redemption nor yet the new birth. But there could be no doubt that this was the plain and certain expression of the place in which the Lord set His own.
Let it be noticed that they, and only they, and they emphatically, were “the salt of the earth.” The Lord does not say the salt “of the world.” This will come for fuller elucidation when we consider what was meant by their being “the light of the world,” not of the earth. But when thus distinguished as here, we may remark now in pointing out the force of our text, that “the earth” means that ordered scene where God had dealings beyond other parts. It was then as of old where Israel was set; as it was about to be enlarged by the outward profession of His name far beyond the land of Palestine. The Lord accordingly begins with that position of conserving purity, alike privilege and responsibility. “Ye are the salt of the earth.” Less or other than this was unrecognizable since He, the Son, came and called into association with Himself. The life He communicated to the believer, and the redemption He would accomplish for his sins, would be explained fully in its season. But here He shows what consisted with the Father, as well as the kingdom He would establish.
But He adds words—most grave words— “If the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” Profession there would be, and an excellent thing it is, if it be a heart testimony to God, true not only in word but in deed. Here, at the beginning and still more clearly at the end of His communications the Lord prepares us to expect what soon and increasingly became evident how hollow and false it was to become; and He intimated by His question and comment that the true and holy savor if once lost would be irreparable. Whatever grace might work individually, or with a few here and there, the pure position cannot be restored. Salt is itself. Nothing outside can give the saltness that disappears. Wherewith shall it be salted?
He goes farther, and pronounces its unfitness even for the useful purpose of fertilizing supplied by that which is most offensive. Saltless salt is unavailing even to manure the earth. It is only fit to be thrown outside, and trodden under foot of men. And so it will be, as it has been. When Christianity vanishes and only a savorless Christendom remains, men have trodden it down as more worthless than Judaism or even Gentilism, and the more insufferable as so much prouder and more persecuting. And so it will be when the final blows come for Babylon; and the powers which once had their illicit commerce with her shall hate the harlot, and make her desolate and naked, and eat her flesh and burn her with fire. Not only is God strong in judging her, but she shall be trodden under foot of indignant men.

Part With Christ (Duplicate)

Three things, beloved friends, especially come out in this chapter: first, the full and complete finishing of the work which the Father had given the Lord Jesus to do; second, while that gives the full consciousness of the place we are in with God, there is very jealous care for the holiness and watchfulness in the path in which we are called to walk down here; and third, the blessed and gracious love of the Lord, “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” All the way He made Himself a servant in order to minister to us.
It is important for us as Christians to see our place with God in Christ, to know distinctly what that place is. Many sincere souls stop short of this, and do not know their relationship with God, through what the blessed Son of God has done already in dying for them and bringing them to God; and at the same time, how it all bears on holiness of walk.
The Lord shows here that no defilement can be allowed, and then adds its measure. Suitability of walk and conduct flows from the place you are in: you cannot expect any one who is not a child or a servant to behave as a child or a servant. Evidently then it is of all importance to know the place I am in, as all my duties flow from it. The moment the relationship is there, the duties are thence; but none can get the relationship by doing the duties.
It is therefore of all importance to see the connection between the grace of God that brings salvation, and our walk and conduct. We must see what the relationship is before we can have the consciousness of its duties. The Lord would bring us, perhaps through painful exercises, to the consciousness of the place we are in; and the gracious, loving provision there is for us in that place, never to allow unholiness. If it were only the being saved, this would be a blessed thing; but He brings us into positive relationship with Himself, in infinite love and perfect righteousness. He came into a world of sinners for this. We have the treasure in earthen vessels; but the relationship is settled: “Ye are all the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Therefore His first word to Mary after His resurrection is, “Go and tell my brethren, I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” My Father is your Father too. He puts them into His place, having brought them into it; and tells them where He has brought them.
But this is not all. The moment I estimate the cross according to the word of God, I learn, as the apostle says, “If one died for all, then were all dead.” We see One who came in unspeakable love to save us. For God, as it were, said, I have yet one Son: one thing I can do to see if I can waken up right thoughts and feelings in these husbandmen. But when they saw the Son, they cast Him out and slew Him. In calling ourselves Christians, we profess to be in a world which has cast out the Son of God; we are in a world of sinners, condemned sinners.
God was dealing with man. He tried and tested man, who had got out of his place where God had put him in Paradise, to see whether He could reclaim his heart. But all this ended in bringing out the condition in which man was. It proved that he preferred anything to God—money, pleasure, duties (I do not speak now of sin). No object is too small to govern the heart and to shut out Christ. Take dress: is that too small? Take money: is it? It is the same case with all our hearts. You never found a natural man thinking of Christ as the object of his heart. If alone in a room for two or three hours, he thinks of his sorrows, or of his joys, but not of Christ.
You never find a man ashamed of a false religion. Of gods that even man might be ashamed of, they are not ashamed; but true Christians are ashamed of confessing Christ. People are ashamed of the true God; but of a false religion, never
Any and every object in the natural heart has displaced Christ. I own Jesus the Son of God has come and died for me, and do I prefer a bit of dress to Him? All this tells us what scripture says: that the carnal mind is enmity against God, every object being dominant over it; and even when we do love God, how often we are ashamed of Him!
It is not now a question of trying to arrange ourselves a little and set things straight. But the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost: this is my natural condition; I am lost.
Where men find their enjoyment, only bring Christ in, and it is all spoiled. The natural man never enjoys Christ, and as Christians we have to watch ourselves, lest we slip more or less into that state of things.
First comes the honest conviction that I am lost, and then I believe what God has done: that is another thing altogether.
The law came to require righteousness from me; but He came to bring salvation to me, because I was lost. Owning myself as a sinner, I cannot of course go into heaven as a sinner. So the question is, What has He done for me that I may be cleansed? Supposing I have been brought thoroughly to confess that I am lost, and I turn to Christ, what do I find there? That when I did not think of God, He was thinking of me. This is the truth; and I have then, with no seeking of mine, what the spring of God's thoughts and heart were towards me: He spared not His own Son. Acknowledging myself as a sinner, I find what the blessed Son of God has done. I find the spring of His heart. He cannot allow sin, being perfect in holiness and righteousness; and I find Him doing what love always does when it is real, considering the whole state of its object. I was dead, and He comes into death; judgment was against me, and He takes the judgment.
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. In Him I see One coming in love and goodness and grace. This astonishes me, as it did the poor woman by the well. He must bring us into truth and light. He says, You are vile, not fit to show your face to a decent person. But there is the revelation of God in Christ. It comes not as a claim upon me, but as grace to me. It tells me I am a sinner; or why should it come? It brings God's love out to me. If the highest measure of grace is the cross of Christ, it is the very thing that shows me where I was. Why should He go down into so dreadful a ditch, if there were not some there to pull out? This perfect work is done. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Therefore He is set down at the right hand of God, accepted by Him. God gave Christ in love and accepted Him in righteousness. God is satisfied, more than satisfied—glorified about sin. The cross is the place where good and evil met absolutely. All the evil of man was shown out against Christ. He was going about doing good, healing all their diseases, and even Pilate could say, What do you kill Him for? It was enmity against God.
But if all the wickedness of man's heart be there, what do we find on the other side? Absolute obedience and perfect love to His Father. “That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” Where do we learn love? “Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us.”
There is no such perfect display of perfect righteousness anywhere, as in Christ drinking that dreadful cup. There is most solemn righteousness, yet the perfect love of God to the sinner too. If we look at the moral glory of the cross, the whole question of sin is perfectly settled, and God has glorified Christ above. For what did He die? For my sins, according to the scriptures. If I come as a poor vile sinner to the cross, I see Him bearing my sins in His own body on the tree, and now in glory. Has He got them there? I see Him standing here for me in righteousness, drinking that dreadful cup, the very thought of which made Him sweat great drops of blood. Then, having purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. He is not like the Jewish priests who were often offering the same sacrifices, but He forever sat down because the work is finished. If the work is not perfect, it never will be. I am not speaking now of your appreciation of it, but of the work itself; if we live near to God, we shall appreciate it more every day. But the work is done.
We have then, beloved friends, this blessed truth—that coming to God by Him I find that work which is a proof of the love of God to me when I was a sinner, and I find it done and accepted when I was a sinner. Of course my soul is purified by obeying the truth too, or I should not care about it in that way. Christ is waiting till His enemies are made His footstool, having brought me to God by that work. And God is active in His love to put it before us in every shape in which it can meet our need. Do you say you are guilty? but God has justified you. Defiled by sin? yes, but God says, I have cleansed you with the precious blood of my Son. Do you say, Oh! I have offended God dreadfully? So you have; but I have forgiven you. Then the Holy Ghost came down at Pentecost, and is given to every one who believes. “In whom, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” “If any man confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.” O that those words rested in our hearts and consciences, beloved friends! There is the place we are brought into; but we shall not get fully into the glory till the Lord Jesus Christ comes again. “I will come again and receive you unto myself.” “When he shall appear, we shall be like him.” “The glory thou hast given me, I have given them.” The purpose of God is (I am speaking to you as believers) to bring us into the same glory as His Son.
I earnestly desire for your hearts, that you should get clear hold of this—how all is cleared of the first Adam, that we might have all the blessing the last Adam gives. He became a man that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren. The dignity of His Person is always maintained; but He will never be satisfied until He sees you there in the same glory with Himself and as Himself forever.
If I pay a man's debts, and leave him without a farthing, he is a ruined man still, But Christ has paid our debts, and has, so to speak, given us an immense fortune besides. “As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” The scripture teems with passages which show the way in which we are associated with Himself. As soon as Christ was gone up into heaven, the witness of divine righteousness, the Holy Ghost, came down, that we might know it. “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father.” How can I say Father, if I do not know I am a child? It would be hypocrisy. If the conscience is purged by the blood of Christ, relationship is known by His Person, and then I must walk as a child; but I must know that I am a child first. We cannot expect people to walk as Christians if they are not Christians. Something else has to come first: they have to confess Christ, as well as their sins, and be saved.
Now if you believe in the Lord Jesus, beloved friends, can you say, I know I am in Christ? “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” We have to manifest the life of Jesus in my mortal body; but we must have it first. How can I manifest it if I have not got it?
Have I listened to that word, “My Father and your Father,” &c. He has brought me into the same place as Himself; and I am waiting for God's Son to take me there in person. Death has lost its sting, and if I die, it is to be with the Lord, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” The full result will not be till He comes again, and the marriage of the Lamb takes place; we are not in the glory yet, we know.
We might think that, Christ having gone up into glory, all His service was over. But it is not so. Love never gives up itself, and never gives up the happiness of those it loves. If a child goes wrong, the Father's heart yearns over him; he may have to punish, but the heart goes after him. Christ's love is perfect, and it never gives up its service if it can make the loved one happy; and this we find here. The supper was come. He came from God, and was going back to God in all the blessed perfectness in which He came; and what does He do? It is as, “I am among you as one that serveth.” Is there an end of His service now? No; He rises from supper, testifies He cannot stay with them here, but tells them He must have them with Him there. He could not stay as Messiah. I am going away as your Forerunner, “I go to prepare a place for you.”
This is in two ways. First, He is as priest, serving, “He ever liveth [think of that!] to make intercession for us.” This is not exactly for sin, but that we may not sin. I am a poor tempted one upon the earth, and He always at God's right hand occupied with me.
But in this chapter there is another thing. Supposing I do sin, how are my feet to be washed? This alludes no doubt to the custom of the priest's consecration. His body was washed when he was consecrated. But whenever he went to do anything at the altar, he washed his hands and feet. It was as much as to say, There must be holiness. “He that is washed (or, bathed) needeth not save to wash his feet; he cannot be regenerate over again. The word used for washing the body and washing the feet is not the same in the original of this chapter; one means bathing complete, the other partial.
We are cleansed by water and by blood. But then there is always this danger: here I am, walking through this world always ready to defile me. There is the danger of picking up dirt upon my feet. When the Lord goes into heaven, He takes what heaven is as a measure of our walk. He does not pray that we should be taken out of the world, but kept from the evil. Looking up to the Lord in glory, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory. “Every man that hath this hope on Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” Seeing Christ in glory, I know I am going to be like Him, and my heart wants me to be as like Him now as ever I can. This is what Paul meant, “that I may win” Him. He sees Christ in glory, knows he is going to be like Him, and now tries in every possible way to imitate Him here.
But supposing we fail—there is no excuse for doing so, it is our own carelessness and neglect—yet He says, I am going up on high, and I shall wash your feet. I have washed you here: “already ye are clean by reason of the word that I have spoken to you.” Peter was ashamed of seeing the Lord there like a servant to wash his feet; but when he hears he must be washed, he says, “Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” No; He says, That is enough. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.... and he is the propitiation for our sins.” The propitiation is unchanged, but another service comes in. If I have sinned, I do not say that I am not under the blood of sprinkling, but, Can the Father have fellowship with an unholy thing? No! Yet the word says, “If any man sin,” not “if any man repent.” The advocacy, to be sure, brings us to repentance.
If only I have let an evil thought come in, do you think God has communion with that? It were blasphemy to say so. I have found my pleasure, if only for a moment, in what made Christ's agony on the cross. Horrible to say so; but if it made His agony, it cannot be imputed to me. I am convicted, and humbled, and, like poor Peter, led to repentance. It was not because he repented that Christ prayed for him; but Peter repented because Christ prayed.
What is given in the present service of the Lord Jesus is this: if by anything I defile my feet, He takes away the taint, because I belong to His place. He does not raise the question whether I still belong to it; He acts because I do belong to it; “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” Holiness is maintained, because I am in this relationship. God says, I cannot have defiled people in My house; He chastens that we may be partakers of His holiness. He brings the word of God, which reveals what I am, to bear upon my conscience. He restores my soul, and leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
The Christian is standing between the first coming of Christ, which accomplished redemption, and His second coming which takes him to glory, Meanwhile the Holy Ghost is given to every one that believes; He makes me cry, Abba, Father, being seal or witness that I am a son, and is the earnest of the inheritance. He gives me the certainty of the efficacy of Christ's work when He first came, and leads my heart on to the glory.
But there must be holiness, and I find grace still working and giving me the measure of what I am. He tells me I am going to be like Christ, and he who has this hope purifies himself; and here is the measure of my walk— “even as He is pure.” Not that I have attained, I never shall until I am with Christ; but I ought to be always going on, never to soil my feet, that is to do nothing inconsistent.
Scripture, let us remark, speaks of three things: we are to walk worthily of God, who has called us to His kingdom and glory; worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing; worthily of the vocation wherewith we are called. The standard is put before us in these three shapes.
There is thus the perfect settled consciousness of the relationship into which we are brought; then the conduct which suits those who are in this place; and the provision of grace, if we fail.
Do your souls know, beloved friends, supposing you profess it, that you in conscience have got hold of the efficacy of His work? “Peace I leave with you”; can you say you have it? Do you fear the judgment-seat? There is no place in which a Christian may be so bold, because raised in glory, as He is, so are we. Do you believe that your sins will be no more remembered? Many a one sees it in scripture, and says it is true; but can you stand in thought before the judgment-seat, in the consciousness that it is yours?—that you are become divine righteousness in Christ before God?
One more question. If you can thus stand, are you seeking to be in everything the epistle of Christ? whatever you do, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus? We shall need carefulness, searching of the word, &c., exercises which make good soldiers. The motive is the great thing. If I love my father, and he wishes this book to be laid this way instead of that, I put it so because I love my father.
The Lord give us to have His will as the one object of our lives, the motive of all we do, remembering that we are not our own but bought with a price. May He give us to have our eyes upon Him, that we may know His love and seek His will! J. N. D.

2 Peter 1:8-9

The apostle enforces the importance of that diligence to which he had exhorted saints by a twofold consideration expressed in verses 8, 9. In the first of these he points out the blessing of being thoroughly furnished in our practical state for every good word and work; and in the second, the blighting effect of negligence as to our state.
“For these things being in you and abounding make [you] not idle nor unfruitful for the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ: for he with whom they are not present is blind, shortsighted, having forgotten the cleansing of his old sins.”
These varied qualities, set forth in a just order, were all of them requisite for the Christian character. The disciple is not above his teacher, nor the bondman above his lord. The Christian follows Christ and is His witness in the ways of every day. “Ye are our epistle,” says Paul to the Corinthian saints when recalled to obedience, “written in our hearts, known and read of all men, being manifested that ye are Christ's epistle ministered by us, written not with ink but Spirit of a living God, not on stone tables but on the heart's fleshy tables.” The new divine nature does not imitate outward points of moral propriety, but beholds Christ objectively, which with delight in His perfection works inwardly. Hence it participates in everything that pleases God, and is particularly vigilant where an awakened conscience has felt and judged special failure. So we read here “These things being in you.” Divine life works energetically in every right direction.
But the apostle was led to seek more. He urges that these things should “abound” also; and this they do where Christ dwells in the heart by faith. No doubt the words in Eph. 3:17 go out immensely farther; but Christ is and must be the spring and strength of the heart for all that is acceptable to God. The exercise of the heart in the full confidence of Christ's love promotes growth in what is good. These things are therefore not only a real subsistence in the Christian, but also abound in dependence on His grace. Nor do troubles distract, if instead of intensely occupying ourselves with them, we are simple in casting the burden on Him, who cares for us, and delights in hearing the cry of faith's confidence in Him, and gives His own peace to guard our hearts and our thoughts by Christ Jesus. If we be ever so pained, the new nature, while in no way sparing self in ourselves or others, gives us to turn to its own congenial occupation with what is pure, true, noble, just, lovely and of good report, to think on these things, rather than to be occupied with evil.
What is the effect? They “make you not idle nor unfruitful for the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It was a change for the worse when the A. V. for “idle” rendered the word “barren,” and led so many readers and preachers to guess what the difference could be between “barren” and “unfruitful.” But there is no room for doubt or difficulty. The first word is elsewhere properly translated “idle” in the A. V., as it should be here; and so Tyndale, Cranmer and the Geneva V. had given. Wycliffe and his follower, as well as the Rhemish, have “voide” or “vacant” (as the last), which can hardly be said to have any just sense.
If the practical characteristics of Christianity abound in the saints, they themselves would be neither idle nor unfruitful. How unworthy to be idle, not only as standing in so blessed a relationship and possessed by grace of a new nature so excellent and repellent of every evil thing! How unworthy to be fruitless, if branches in the True Vine, such as those whom the Father purges that they may bear more fruit (John 15:2, 1 Peter 1:17)! “Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit; and ye shall be my disciples” (John 15:8). So the apostle Paul prays for the Philippian faithful that they might be pure and without stumbling for (or, against) Christ's day, “filled with the fruit of righteousness that is through Jesus Christ unto God's glory and praise” (Phil. 1:11).
The holiness of the new nature makes all sin to be hateful in the believer's eyes. But as the flesh is still in us, and ready to work and manifest itself, there is the constant necessity of prayer and the word watchfully applied in self-judgment. The brotherhood too has unceasing claims that we should never wink at sin but abhor it both in brotherly affection and yet more strongly in that love which strengthens us in keeping His commandments and in rebuking a brother's disobedience and every iniquity. And if we cleave with purpose of heart to the Lord, can we be insensible to mankind around who remain, as once we were, unintelligent, disobedient, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another? If idle in confessing earnestly according to our measure the saving grace of God in the gospel, we cannot be but unfruitful “for the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Where is our heart then for God and His Son, for saints or for sinners? For what are we, since our deliverance, left in such a world as this? Is it not that God in all things may be glorified, as far as His children are concerned, through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the might for the ages of ages, Amen?
But the other side is next noticed, and we do well to take heed. “For” (this is the true connective, not “but”) “he with whom they are not present is blind.” How sad that such a description should apply to one bearing the Lord's name! For had not Peter in his First Epistle set forth Christians as loving Him whom they had not seen, and not now looking on but believing, they exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory? Theirs was no mere natural but supernatural sight in God's wonderful light. What a fall from divine privilege to be “blind,” or even short-sighted! It is the lack of spiritual perception by the neglect of communion with God, the result of habitual indifference and self-seeking, to the slight of Christ, and grief of the Spirit.
It is explained by the next word, “shortsighted”: the things afar off, the heavenly, are no longer the objects before the eyes of the heart. Thus things that are near and before all mankind absorb the mind. It is a worldly spirit actively at work after the things of the world, and not those which the Father loves. Because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world, as the apostle John urges. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. The knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is hindered and its separating power annulled, if we thus look, not at the unseen, but at the seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.
Another immense loss too follows: “having forgotten the cleansing of his old sins.” It is not that a soul may here deny the truth of the gospel, or oppose his justification by faith of Christ and His work. But enjoyment of peace with God is gone. For the Holy Spirit, instead of bearing present witness to his spirit that he is a child of God, testifies to his inconsistent and evil state. The doctrine, however certain and true, that the worshippers once purged have no more conscience of sins ceases to be his joy, and becomes forgotten. His conscience is not clear but troubled as to his condition, instead of being trustful and bold before God. Till he is thoroughly self-judged, he feels when he reflects that his own heart condemns him; and if so how much more must the God who is greater than our hearts, and knows all things!
Is it not in this duty and sense that he incurs forgetfulness of the cleansing of his old sins? It is not that he either gives up the truth or despairs as to himself; but there is no comfortable consciousness of that cleansing of our sins which the very gospel proclaims to every believer. How can it be otherwise in that government which God as Father keeps up with His children in our time of sojourn here? When the cleansing of one's old sins is truly remembered, it acts on the soul to cleave to Him who for us died and rose, and strengthens us to hate evil of every kind, especially in our own ways. To forget the profession of being purged from one's sins is to lose the power and duty of practical purity; and to be a Christian becomes but a name.


“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). Few things are more difficult of realization than that the world of today is evil in character, and that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are delivered from it by Him who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world (or age) according to the will of God and our Father (Gal. 1:4). It is not here deliverance from wrath, although included of necessity, but deliverance from a system or order of things which has been built up by man under the influence of its prince. Both have been judged morally at the cross. “Now is the judgment of this world. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).
True, the execution of judgment is suspended and the Holy Spirit is using the interval as a day of salvation, gathering souls, and He who was lifted up receives and delivers them. And this is accomplishing the will of God our Father. Our position then in the world, according to this new relationship must be that of strangers and pilgrims. It is not merely that we seek it as such. It is the character of a heavenly relationship made good in our hearts by the Spirit of His Son (Gal. 4:6). It is noticeable that in this epistle the saints were under bondage by law, and far from realizing their privileges according to the work and glory of Christ. Yet the apostle in the most absolute way affirms the nature and the power of this new relationship as to them. The fact itself remained unaltered by their folly in falling from grace to law. He says, “Because ye are sons;” while they had lost the sense of so near a relationship. The Holy Ghost had been sent into their hearts, and was yet crying “Abba, Father.”
The apostle John too places the family of God in absolute contrast to the children of the wicked one, and insists that the love of the Father and the love of the world are irreconcilable. The Spirit again encourages the Hebrew saints as partakers of a heavenly calling to take up their new place and privileges, including access to God within the veil (Heb. 10), and exhorts them earnestly (in chap. 13:13) to go forth unto a Christ rejected by the Jews as well as by the Gentiles. Indeed the two things are closely connected, “Inside the veil,” and “outside the camp.” To give ever so intelligent an assent to the truths of Christianity will not make anyone a stranger on the earth. But if the Spirit of God occupies my heart with Christ Himself, especially in His heavenly glory and His things, a character will be given to my walk and testimony here, which the world will neither understand nor care for, but hate. Compare John 15:18-21; 1 Cor. 15:48; 2 Cor. 3:18; 5:15-17, etc. The more truly and fully Christ's character is displayed in the believer, the more practically will such a one be a stranger in a world which has seen and hated both the Father and the Son (John 15:22-25). It may help us to realize this if we recall evidence of patriarchal faith, thus proving itself the more remarkable, because of the necessarily incomplete revelation which formed their testimony. They only saw the promises afar off; we are made nigh; and to us they are accomplished in Christ. Yea, the mystery has been declared which was hid in God in ages past. The revelation of the Christian's heavenly calling and hope, and the exposure of man's true character at the cross, should make it easy for us to maintain the pilgrim character.
Presuming the reader has made himself acquainted with the fruits of faith enumerated in Heb. 11, let us mention some, which more especially illustrate the strangership of the heavenly man who has embraced the promises. In Gen. 23 we see the dignity of faith in Abraham, ref using to make his sorrowful experience at the moment an occasion for being a debtor to the world in however small a degree. We know that at such seasons the heart is peculiarly susceptible of sympathy, as we are open to be off our guard, and to accept what at other times we should refuse. The whole land was given to him and to his seed in promise; but not a foot of it was in actual possession. God had enriched him, and the world could but acknowledge it. “Thou art a prince of God amongst us” (see margin); but he confessed himself “a stranger and sojourner amongst you.” Faith had made him such, and in a deep trial like that faith must or ought to rule. For a “friend of God” to accept a gift from a judged world, to anticipate the promised blessing, would be inconsistent with that high and holy intimacy which he was privileged to know.
Turn now to Moses the destined deliverer of God's people. The name which he gave his son expresses this principle (Exodus 2:22), a stranger here. He himself was first and last given up to death as his people were, but “drawn out,” he was delivered from “this present evil world,” as he in faith identified himself with the people of God, and placed himself at their disposal, only to be contemptuously rejected, his authority questioned, and himself exposed to the wrath of the king. In all this he was a type of Him who came in grace into the midst of His people, and knew their sorrows. But, by them He was rejected, and delivered to the Gentiles. Moses fled from the wrath of Pharaoh, yet nothing could alienate his heart from the heirs of promise. They might refuse him as a judge; they could not prevent him from suffering with them, strangers as they were, in a land which was not theirs. He by faith cheerfully accepted the place of a stranger in a strange land. In the failure of his long cherished plans for the deliverance of Israel he recognizes the hand of God, bows to his will, loses all confidence in the flesh; so that when God's time arrives, he scarce believes it possible that any real use can be made of so weak and worthless a one. Yet the power of God fills him and makes use of him for great things.
Let us turn from this subject to another servant of God who had to learn the same lesson and to walk in the same path of strangership and rejection. David, anointed king of Israel, was used of God to accomplish a mighty deliverance; but he must submit to the prelude of a protracted trial of faith. Saul who should have been foremost in acknowledging what God had wrought by his hand professed ignorance of him (1 Sam. 17:56). It is difficult to believe that he had forgotten all about one whose minstrelsy had benefited him so materially (chap. 16:23). But it illustrates the solemn fact that the world easily and willingly ignores the development of God's purposes for man's blessing by his chosen instrument. “Who is David?” and “who is the son of Jesse?” said another who refused his claims and despised his person (1 Sam. 25:10). “I am become a stranger with my brethren and an alien with my mother's children” (Psa. 69:8) tells of the deep sorrow of a loving heart, forced into such a place of isolation by faithfulness to God; while of course in its application to the blessed Lord Jesus it receives its perfect fulfillment alone in Him who entered more fully than any other into every character of suffering which can come upon the servant of God in the world.
Let me close with another sample from the life of this blessed saint of God (1 Chron. 29:15). It was toward the end of a long and honored life in which God had used him, greatly for the blessing of His people. A moment of triumph too it was; for the dearest object of his heart's desire was about to be accomplished. God's purpose as to the succession had been made known to all Israel; when the privilege denied to him was to be conferred upon the son of David, to build a house for the name of Jehovah. David had long been aware of this and, happy in submission to God's will, had prepared with all his might for that house. At such a moment he leads the praises of the great congregation and confesses, “For we are strangers before thee and sojourners.” Was it the right moment for such an avowal? Yes indeed! How different the blessing of that time, from the ruined condition of things at the close of Saul's reign! Compare 1 Sam. 28:7.
Yet even this could not satisfy the heart of God or exhaust His purposes of blessing for His people. The brightest picture the world has ever witnessed is but a faint foreshadowing of the glory of millennial days. Then all shall depend not on what grace deigned to accomplish by such ones as Moses or David (themselves only failing men), but upon Him who shall be fastened as a nail in a sure place. Faith refuses to rest in anything short of perfection. When the name of the city shall be Jehovah-Shammah,” strangership shall give place to citizenship. Every promise of blessing shall be abundantly, yea more than, fulfilled. While we wait in patience for the heavenly glory of that blessed day, may it be ours to live and walk in the power of the Spirit, and under the realized influence of heavenly things. For our citizenship is in heaven from whence also we look for the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, who will introduce us to the prepared place in the Father's house and make us quite at home there with, Himself. G. S. B.

Scripture Queries and Answers: John 3:35-36

Q.—John 3:35, 36. Have we to consider these verses as not the utterance of John the Baptist, but of John the writer of the Gospel? INQUIRER.
A.—I think that internal evidence is clear that the testimony of John the Baptist closes with ver. 34; and that vers. 35, 36 are the comment of the Evangelist. For John's answer from ver. 27, however given of God, does not exceed what was within the measure of his spiritual knowledge; whilst the concluding vers. 35, 36, are the reflex of the deeper and higher truth which the Lord taught His disciples. We may see that such a comment is in the manner of the Evangelist in chaps. 1:16-18; 2:21-25; 7:39; 8:27, 30; 11:51; 12:33, 37-43, etc.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Speaking in the Assembly

Q.—Is there any restrictive rule as to speaking in the assembly? MATHETES.
A.—Certainly in 1. Cor. 14:27-29 there are restrictive rules put as to speaking in the assembly. The very disorder in the church at Corinth furnished the occasion for the profit of all afterward. “If any speak with a tongue, two or at most three, and in turn (or, separately), and let one interpret; but if there be no interpreter, let him be silent in an assembly, and let him speak to himself and to God. And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.”
The apostle had just laid down the great principle, “Let all things be done to edification.” Then he applies it to the two typical or representative cases; to a tongue on the one hand; and on the other to prophesying. He begins with what the vain Greek mind affected most, speaking with a tongue, because it was so open and surprising a witness of divine power. It electrified people. But in an assembly, if alone, it did not edify. Therefore if he who had “a tongue” could not interpret, or no interpreter was there, he must be silent and content with speaking to himself and to God: an excellent lesson, where there was the desire to display that gift. Even if there was an interpreter, edifying required only two or at the most three.
Next, he turns to prophesying which had the highest character of direct edifying, and directs that two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge, not add their contributions, which could only distract instead of edifying, but rather hinder the profit of what came from God. Under this regulation comes teaching of any kind “in assembly” for edification, encouragement, consolation, exhortation, warning or any other spiritual aim. More than “two or three,” even if possessed of the most weighty of God's gifts, is forbidden in the most distinct and absolute way.
The question is, if we believe that grace still preserves meeting “in assembly,” and if we in divine mercy cherish so signal a privilege, spite of its absence in general, are we subject to the “Lord's commandment” in these things as in all else? It is to be feared that many forget it, and think that prevalent ruin opens the door to laxity and self-will. Perhaps others too have heard not many years since of no less than eight speakers! occupying a professedly Christian assembly, and rather boasting of this plethora of talk, as if it were a proof of zeal, simplicity, or the freedom which the Spirit of the Lord creates. It really indicated their lack of intelligence or subjection to the inspired word which they could not but know, but failed to recognize; and love of letting their voices be heard on such a solemn occasion, which is meant to witness that God is verily in or among the saints.
In vers. 34-36 is another and a prohibitory rule, “Let the women keep silence in the assemblies; for it is not permitted to them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for a woman to speak in an assembly. What! went the word of God out from you? or came it to you alone?”
Such is His regulation of His assembly. Would we as Christians prefer, or even tolerate for ourselves, an assembly independent of God, where man speaks as he pleases? How necessary it is to judge ourselves, especially if we exercise the title to judge other people. What is more excellent than obedience?

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Joseph: 7. With the Dreamers in Prison

It is the way of God to give prophecy in a time of present ruin, that those who sin may be finally warned, and those who believe may be sustained by the hope of “some better thing” in His grace superior to all the powers of evil. Such it was in the midst of His earthly people when He was mocked in His messengers, and despised in His words, rising up betimes and sending, because He had compassion on the Jews and on His dwelling-place, till there was no remedy. As His wrath arose and fell upon them was exactly the time when the prophets, not content with oral predictions, wrote more formally and fully. Such is the plain matter of fact in the O. T. Here too we find the same principle in the first book of the Pentateuch, given through Joseph the witness of supernatural light in very dark circumstances, and of divine interest even in the comparatively insignificant changes of man; as He had already both gloriously and graciously intervened in announcing for faith the Second man, on the fall of the first in a lost paradise.
“And it came to pass after these things, the cup-bearer of the king of Egypt, and the baker, offended their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth with his two chamberlains, with the chief of the cup-bearers and with the chief of the bakers; and he put them in custody, in the captain of the life-guard's house, into the tower-house, the place where Joseph [was] imprisoned. And the captain of the life-guard appointed Joseph to them, and he served them; and they continued for days in custody. And they dreamed a dream, both of them in one night, each his dream, each according to his dream's interpretation, the cup-bearer and the baker of the king of Egypt that [were] imprisoned in the tower-house. And Joseph came in to them in the morning, and looked on them, and, behold, they [were] sad. And he asked Pharaoh's chamberlains that [were] with him in his lord's house of custody, saying, Why [are] your faces sad to-day?”
Joseph had served as a bondman in Potiphar's house. Now he served as a criminal in the tower-house, falsely accused of what was true of his accuser. But his faith remained simple, peaceful, and bright; and we note its effect on those who had no faith themselves, yet highly valued faithfulness. Joseph was charged by the captain with the care of the king's chamberlains. As before in the house of his master, so now in the governor's state-prison, he became the responsible agent: whatever was to be done there, he did it. Jehovah was with him in each place of trial; and what he did, Jehovah made it prosper.
But it is in God's hand to work out His purpose. And as in his own dreams much had been divulged, while he was a young freeman in his father's house, which drew out the envious spite of his brethren, grace gave him now the opportunity of light from above on the dreams of his fellow-prisoners. So little were they instructed by their having each a suited dream the same night, that their visage presented similar sadness to their gracious and sympathetic attendant the next morning. His soul entered into the iron; but love rose superior to evil, and flowed out readily.
In all this Joseph typified Christ who shone to the eye of faith in His humiliation with a grace even beyond glory. He was manifestly the wisdom of God, where human wisdom proved itself utterly weak, foolish, and malicious. He was the prophet raised up from among His brethren, like to Moses, yet greater and with the highest authority. The deeper the enmity, the more He opened things to come, as not only the Christ for Israel, but the still more glorious if rejected Messiah, the Son of man, that all the peoples, and languages should serve Him: a day not come yet though fully revealed, when He shall be displayed as the power of God. How awful the portion of those bearing His name who help the world to despise His words which will surely be accomplished to the ruin of all His adversaries! Christendom is even more guilty and pretentious than His poor blinded people who cried, His blood be on us and our children; as alas! it is till they repent, as they surely will in God's mercy. But this is not to be now while the church is here.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 7. The Dwelling House

It is the people and the land with which Jehovah connects redemption. Both were objects of His gracious choice. Both have fallen under the greatest change through contempt of His goodness on man's part, and opposition to His will, even to rebellion and apostasy. But Jehovah will triumph on behalf of both, but by His own mercy in Christ the Redeemer, when Israel shall sing, Not unto us, O Jehovah, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy loving kindness and for Thy truth's sake. The redeemed of Jehovah whom He had redeemed from the hand of the oppressor, and gathered out of the countries from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, shall give thanks to Jehovah, and say that He is good, for His loving kindness endures forever. What a contrast with man's way who starts with confidence, and whose hopes tell a flattering tale; but, looking no more truly to God than the beasts that perish, he has this of His hand to lie down in sorrow. And none will have this more bitterly and manifestly than such of Israel as presume on their name and privileges as His people while their heart is far from Him—and under the enemy's power. But blessed are all who have their confidence in the Son—in Jehovah Himself. And Zion shall put on her strength, Jerusalem her beautiful garments; and her waste places shall break forth, for Jehovah comforts His people, and redeems her as well as them.
The truth is made more emphatic in the type by making an exception of what man builds, a dwelling-house in a walled city. “And if any one sell a dwelling-house in a walled city, then he shall have the right of redemption up to the end of the year of the sale; for a full year he shall have the right of redemption. But if it be not redeemed until a whole year is complete, then the house that [is] in the walled city shall be established forever to him that bought it throughout his generations; it shall not go out in the jubilee. But the houses in villages that have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country; they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubilee. But [as to] the cities of the Levites, the houses in the cities of their possession, the Levites shall have a perpetual right of redemption. And if a man redeem from one of the Levites (or, one of the Levites redeem something), then the house that was sold in the city of his possession shall go out in the jubilee; for the houses of the cities of the Levites [are] their possession among the children of Israel. And the field of the suburbs of their cities shall not be sold; for it [is] their perpetual possession (vers. 29-34).
It was the dwelling-house in a walled city which thus lost its claim to redemption at the jubilee. The seller had the right to gain it back during a full year from its sale; after that, if not bought back, it passed forever to the possession of the purchaser. Though it was built on the land which God gave the Israelites, its privilege of divine gift was vitiated by the prevalence of man's failure, as a twofold witness may show us. “For every house is builded by some one.” It is only a man that builds it. But the God that built all things claimed the land as His and gave it to His people as their landlord, to make it all the surer as He will prove it to be in the great jubilee, when every intruder vanishes, and He reinstates His people, who had lost it meanwhile over and over again by their departure from Himself. The land will go out free for the Israelite in that day by Jehovah's vengeance on their wicked enemies, and His mercy toward themselves, at last repentant in dust and ashes and resting on the atoning blood of Him whom they now refuse and despise. But the dwelling-place which each built or took from the Canaanite was no such gift of God as the land of promise.
And this was made still more precise by the added feature of being “in a walled city.” For here is not merely man's hand everywhere apparent in his dwelling-house, but yet more the “walled city” marks the presence if not the prevalence of the enemy's power. There is therefore recourse to such a human measure of protection, which tells the tale how little as yet the Israelite enjoys His full privilege when they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. No doubt it will be because a King shall reign in righteousness, far beyond David or Solomon, His feeble types. And the man who is God, and Jehovah's fellow, shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And then shall the Spirit be poured from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest; and His people shall dwell in a peaceful habitation, and in sure dwellings and in quiet resting-places.
So, when the work of dealing with Israel's enemies is in process but not yet complete, we hear in Ezek. 38 Israel shall then be gathered out of many peoples into the land bought back from the sword. But the chief of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, unmoved by the downfall of the head of the western powers in league with the Antichrist, and even by the destruction of the eastern hordes who opposed the west, persists in his mischievous purpose of self-aggrandizement, and hopes by coming down on Israel's unprotected appearance to become overlord of the earth. “Thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go up to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to seize the spoil and to take the prey; to turn thy hand against the waste places that are inhabited, and against a people gathered out of the nations which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.” But Jehovah will prove Himself the true and glorious bulwark of His people, and pour upon this last enemy and all his hosts, before the proper reign of peace over the earth begins, overflowing rain and great hailstones, fire and brimstone. So it shall be upon the mountains of Israel; nor will that exemplary punishment suffice. For Jehovah will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell at ease in the isles. Their walled cities, their fortifications, their formidable navies, will be a vain defense, for it is the day when the risen Lord will judge the inhabited earth; and they shall know that he is Jehovah (Ezek. 39:6).
Hence the house in the country parts, not thus protected, fell under the principle of the land, retained the right of redemption, and should go out in the jubilee. The strength and shield of man must fall in that day, and the defenseless that confide in Him shall triumph, when the fastness of the high defenses of men's walls will He bring down, lay low, bring to the ground, into the dust.
On a similar principle too the house of the Levites fell under His care who calls them to be His servants, and had perpetual right of redemption. Even if sold in the city of his possession, it must go out at the jubilee. On the other hand, their fields in the suburbs of their cities could not be sold. They must abide their perpetual possession, as God's sacred gift to them; and this He will see to when He comes whose right it is to repair all wrongs and failures for His own that wait for Him.

Proverbs 22:1-7

Even in a day when Israel was under probation and the earthly government of Jehovah with present results for good or ill, there could not but be the working of great moral principles in those that feared His name, far beyond what the natural man covets.
“A name [is] rather to be chosen than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.
Rich and poor meet together: Jehovah [is] the maker of them all.
A prudent one seeth the evil and hideth himself; but the simple pass on and are punished.
The reward of humility, the fear of Jehovah, [is] riches and honor, and life.
Thorns, snares, are in the way of a perverse one; he that guardeth his soul keepeth far from them.
Train up the child in accordance with his course; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant of the lender” (vers. 1-7).
It is usual to supply the word “good” in the version of the opening clause of this chapter. But this is so necessarily implied as to seem needless. For who could suppose that a false pretension is of any value? One's name in scripture is the manifestation of what one is: the object of the heart determines the character; and here it is supposed to be what is excellent in God's eyes as well as man's. Hence loving favor accompanies it; which is far from due to silver and gold, often the portion of the worthless.
In the essentials how little is the difference! Alike they come into the world, and alike they stand when the world passes away. “Rich and poor meet together; Jehovah is the maker of them all.” This the poor man is entitled to remember, and the rich man ought not to forget. Job had it distinctly before him: “If I despised the cause of my bondman or of my bondmaid, when they contended with me, what then should I do when God riseth up? and if he visited, what should I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?”
The value of prudence in a world like this is next urged. The circumspect sees the evil and seeks timely shelter; the heedless goes boldly forward and suffers the consequence.
Humility of a true sort, the fear of Jehovah, has its reward in riches and honor and life, which greater ability misses for the lack of it.
The crooked or perverse man finds painful experience on his way, thorns, snares; whereas he that guards his soul keeps aloof from all such trials.
Early training, whatever the exceptions, has its good result. Train up the lad according to his course; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. So it was with Isaac thus trained by his father. Solomon's course was a much more checkered one, though we may hope there was repentance.
It is a difficult thing for a man of money to avoid airs with him that has none, and particularly if the latter puts himself under obligations to him. But faith delivers from this snare, and still more when there is a real living Christ.

Gospel Words: A Forgiving Spirit

The Lord was not content with this impressive call for practical grace in the prayer prescribed to His disciples: “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgave our debtors.” He immediately after follows it up with emphasis.
“For if ye forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you [yours]; but if ye forgive not men their offenses, neither will your Father forgive your offenses.”
There is such confusion in Christendom as to the forgiveness of sins that the true force of the Lord's solemn words is lost for the most part. The vast majority have so hazy a view of eternal redemption that they fear to believe in the full and abiding efficacy of Christ's work. The glad news, or the gospel, of God is thus for them shorn of its power. They are no better off than a Jew who brought his offering, confessed his sin, and went away with the comfort that it was forgiven. As he had to offer often, so the ill-taught Christian talks of his need to be resprinkled again and again with that blood, though expressly said to be shed once for all.
What blindness, if we adduce nothing else, to the testimony of Heb. 10:1. The perfect sacrifice has caused the imperfect to cease. The worshippers once purged have no more conscience of sins; in plain contrast with the Levitical sacrifices, wherein is made year by year remembrance, as the Christian is entitled to remission of sins. Christ came to take away the temporary, and to establish the everlasting. Therefore, when He offered one sacrifice for sins, He forever [in continuity] sat down on God's right hand. He had done all perfectly to blot out the guilt of His friends (once His foes); and took His seat as its triumphant proof, from henceforth waiting till His enemies who reject Him and His work be set as footstool of His feet. Then He will come forth and tread them down in their open rebellion at the consummation of the age. But to the Christian the Holy Spirit testifies that their sins and their lawlessnesses God remembers no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no longer an offering for sin: everything of the kind is superseded and more than fulfilled in that of Christ.
But here faith fails, because God's word is not received in its own divine and conclusive authority; and thus are souls defrauded of peace and joy in believing; and entire devotedness to God is curtailed, bought as we are with a price so incalculable. This unbelief is helped on by confounding things that differ, like our text with that complete redemption which rests solely on Christ's cross. Still more when such blessed institutions of Christianity as baptism and the Lord's supper were made saving ordinances, not figuratively but intrinsically; and a clerical class was made necessary and of divine right to apply them with due effect to the laity: a figment which outdid the highest claims of Jewish priesthood, and in principle denies the gospel.
But while the Lord does not, here or in any part of His teaching on the Mount, refer to that redemption which He was to accomplish, He has a weighty lesson to enforce on His disciples in cultivating a spirit of grace. If the Jew in general could not rise above the law in its distance from God, the fear which made the very mediator full of trembling, and the readiness to denounce and curse which it engendered, grace is the atmosphere in which the Christian lives and flourishes. No doubt it is through righteousness; but withal it is grace reigning.
What was it that drew to the Lord Jesus even from John the Baptist? What was it that in spite of a legal environment at length blossomed and bore fruit so sweet in Peter and John and James and a noble army of martyrs and confessors? What was it that melted Paul's heart of steel and made him the most ardent and suffering witness to the world of Jesus Christ and Him crucified? What else could begin with the proudest, most self-satisfied, stiff-necked, and rebellious race, and transform them into the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, the hungering and thirsting after righteousness, yea the merciful, the pure in heart, the peace-makers, persecuted for righteousness' sake, and even for His sake, for whom the nation and its high priest judged crucifixion only His due, and so fulfilled the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets?
As it was the grace and truth which gave the disciples life, and would give it abundantly in the power of Christ's resurrection, so would follow that full and abiding remission which only His blood secures, and this uninterruptedly. But sin indulged does interrupt communion with our God and Father, and needs the advocacy of Christ to cleanse the feet thus defiled, by the washing of water by word. His blood retains intact its atoning virtue; but the word is applied by the Spirit in answer to Christ on high, and he that sinned repents in dust and ashes. For this is He that came through water and blood. We need and have both, and cannot do without the water from first to last, as we have had the blood once for all. Whoever ignores, or (still worse) denies, the twofold provision of grace, undermines redemption and muddles the truth of God.
Now the Lord specifies an unforgiving spirit as intolerable to our Father in His daily government of His sons. And no wonder. It is to go back from grace to law, from Christ to wretched self. Hence, as in the prayer, He urges grace toward those who may offend us ever so painfully, and love which He commends to our loyal and tender warning of its lack practically as hateful in His eyes. “For if ye forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your offenses.”
O you who keep up your resentment, and brood over the offenses (often exaggerated if not imaginary) of others, beware. You, a Christian, if so, are in utter default of this characteristic duty, as unlike Christ as you can be. Need one say that you are as unhappy as you are hard? Is it nothing to your high spirit, degrading as this is to a Christian, that “your heavenly Father will not forgive you your offenses” Trifle not with so bad and proud a state, and no longer grieve the Holy Spirit of God who sealed you. Let not the sun set upon your wrath, nor give room for the devil.

Thoughts on John 16:27-28

The Lord had much to tell His disciples of the Father. But hitherto, as He says in ver. 25, He had spoken to them in proverbs, as they were able to bear it. Then He went on to say that the hour was coming when He would speak to them plainly of the Father. Clearly this hour dawned at Pentecost, and it is interesting to see how what we have here accords with the statement in Acts 1:1. “All that Jesus began, both to do and to teach.” In the one passage we have the clear intimation that our Lord would instruct His servants at a coming hour; in the other the blessed fact is implied in the striking word “began,” which is far from being otiose, as indeed naught in holy scripture is or could be. In short it marks the continuity of what our Lord did on earth with what He did after His resurrection and ascension.
Hereby we learn incidentally how impossible it is to isolate the persons of the Godhead. If “in the days of His flesh” the Savior cast out demons by the finger of God (Luke 11:2), by the Spirit of God (Matt. 12:28); if through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God; if again, it was through the Holy Spirit that He gave commandment unto His chosen apostles, it is equally true that what the Spirit revealed at and after Pentecost was virtually revealed by the Son. “I shall show you plainly of the Father” (ver. 25).
But, if that fuller revelation still tarried a while, the Lord does tell the disciples in the clearest language truth concerning Himself which it was of all consequence that they should know, and which it was supremely blessed to hear from His own divine lips. Needless to say, it is also truth most instructive for us to ponder. I allude now to the closing sentence of ver. 27, and to ver. 28. Let us read the passage as it is more accurately given in the R. V. “I came forth from the Father. I came out from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father.” The careful reader will note some difference between the above and the A.V. In the first place “Father” is found instead of God in the first statement; secondly, there is the distinction of “came forth from,” and “came out from.” Together they give us the fullness of the truth. As one has said, “no phrase could express more completely unity of essence than the original of these words.” Nor was it the first time that the blessed Lord had held such language. In the eighth chapter of this Gospel we read (ver. 42), “I came forth from (ἐκ as here in ver. 28), and am come from God” —words wholly inexplicable and unintelligible except as a statement of the essential Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is “very God of very God.” And how blessed, as remarked above, to have all this truth as to His person from Himself. The former expression “I came forth from(παρὰ) the Father” implies the leaving of the Father's side; the latter, “I came out from (ἐκ) the Father,” points as we have seen to the true Sonship of the Savior.
It is also interesting to notice that there is a third preposition (ἀπὸ) found in the 30th verse of the sixteenth chapter, and also in the third of the thirteenth. It is sufficient to point out that as distinguished from παρὰ it marks the separation involved in the Incarnation while the latter word emphasizes the fellowship between the Father and the Son. And all these wonderful shades of meaning are conveyed in the original with a directness and a simplicity that I suppose no other language but Greek is capable of. It is matter of common knowledge that this tongue is unique in its powers of subtle precision. Learned men may praise the accuracy of Plato, and cleverness of Aristotle; the believer, learned or unlearned, can feel and admire the profound and striking accuracy of the Scriptures of God.
“I leave the world, and go unto the Father.” Thus does the blessed Lord return to Him from whom He came. True He was always the Son of man who is in heaven. But divine intimacy could not be enjoyed when the sinless One was made sin during those three hours of supernatural darkness. Then and then only does He say, “My God, My God.” “Father” precedes and follows in the well-known utterances on the Cross, whereby God can in very deed be the Father of all who believe in His Son. “Ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26).
The consideration of points like these leads us perhaps into what may be called side-tracks of the truth. They may possibly not come within our purview when expounding the broad principle of evangelical or ecclesiastical doctrine. They may suggest the microscope rather than the telescope, but they are none the less highly illuminative. R. B.

Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 1

I trust it may be of profit as well as interest to look a little into the inspired account of so blessed a saint. This closes the first phase of the church, confined to Jerusalem. Philip's work opens the second, when the word of grace goes to the Samaritans and farther still. The Gentiles are to hear through (not only the great apostle of uncircumcision, and the mission of Peter too, but) the free action of the Spirit in such of those scattered by the persecution as evangelized the Greeks also in Antioch.
Chap. 5 attests power in every form: the Holy Spirit that indwelt the church avenging by Peter hypocritical deceit within, followed by blessing inward and outward; unseen power delivering the injured apostles from the world's persecution; and power over men's hearts as in Gamaliel's intervention.
Increase of numbers was followed by internal weakness: the waning of love, and the rise of jealousy, were it only fed by so slight a difference as that which divided the home-bred Jews from those who freely used the Greek language and the Greek version of the scriptures, the Septuagint. “There arose a murmuring of the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily ministration. And the twelve, having called the multitude unto them, said, It is not proper (or, pleasing) that we, forsaking the word of God, should serve tables. Look out therefore, brethren, from among you seven men of witness borne, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we will set over this business; but we will persevere in prayer and the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and, having prayed, they laid [their] hands on them.”
The daily ministration of food grew out of that singular and touching fruit of the Spirit produced among the saints since the day of His descent at Pentecost. For all that believed were together and had all things common, selling their possessions and substance for distribution to all, according as any might have need; and this in pure grace, not by requirement. To carry out the duty holily and efficiently needed time and judgment as well as diligence and wisdom, especially as the sphere extended daily. The apostle justly felt that it was not for them to curtail the claim of prayer and the ministry of the word. Here men of God, not set in their place, might profitably devote themselves to this labor of faith and working by love, without which nothing can go well, even for external things.
Here we have to remark the wisdom with which the apostles ruled. They did not choose the seven men of attested fitness for the work. They bade the multitude of their brethren to look out such men, full of the Spirit and wisdom. Yet they gave it an official stamp which neither the whole multitude, nor any individuals but themselves could confer, as acting for the Lord, the source of their own apostolic authority. For the apostle was in the highest degree, not only a gift from the ascended Christ, but an authority called to confer it also in His name. “The seven” were no immediate gift from the Head to the church, like evangelists or pastors and teachers (Eph. 4). They had a charge needing appointment by the due authority; and so the apostles established them in their place of administration which concerned earthly wants, and lent them solemn ground of responsibility, in the eyes of all as well as their own. But the multitude of the disciples chose them.
It was not so in the case of elders or presbyters, as we learn from chap. 14: 23; where the apostles Paul and Barnabas are said to have chosen (compare Acts 10:41; 2 Cor. 8:19) elders for the disciples in each assembly. Accordingly, when the apostle left Titus in Crete to act for him in his absence as an apostolic delegate, he directs him to set or establish elders or bishops in every city as he gave him charge. In other words, the apostles directly or indirectly chose and set the elders in their places. The multitude did not act. Elders were chosen for them, and established by apostolic authority.
There was nothing arbitrary nor inconsistent, but a divine principle in each case. It was the multitude which gave the funds for the public distribution. To all therefore was given a voice in the selection of acceptable ministrants. This in no way applies to elders. Theirs is a question of spiritual, moral, and even circumstantial qualities fitting them to preside or rule. Hence for choosing right men a nicety of discernment was requisite, which was far beyond the saints generally, and, if we bow to scripture, reserved to an apostle or his delegate. Gifts (δόματα) were given directly by the Lord: whether those that laid the foundation, as apostles and prophets; or those that, build on that foundation, as evangelists, pastors and teachers, who needed no such apostolic establishment as the local charge of “the seven” or that of the elders.
Though “the seven,” for an office peculiar to the state of things then existing in Jerusalem, are not called “deacons,” their work was generally analogous to that which was designated by the latter term, when the peculiarity vanished. The deacon was the regular title for those charged with the duties of external service; and so appropriately styled. If grace for such a work is overlooked, the deaconate degenerates into a mere demand for business tact to the dishonor of God in the church, helping on the descent to the world's level.
The word of God, with the prayer which drew down application in power and unction, was the fitting work of the apostles. Men might beat and threaten worse; but it was in vain to forbid or oppose their speaking in the name of Jesus, seeing they were witnesses that God raised up and exalted by His right hand Him whom the Jews by instigation of the priests slew by hanging on a tree: God must be obeyed rather than man. They therefore went their way from the council's presence, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored for the Name: and every day in the temple and at home they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus as the Christ.
But remembrance of the poor saints is precious in the Lord's sight; and it was wise and gracious to cut off occasion from these that murmured. The twelve, like Paul later, were as the rule averse from meddling with money, and only touched it under strict provisoes that the ministry might not be blamed. But what do we see here? If Hebrews of course in Jerusalem preponderated over Hellenists, it is notable that the names of all “the seven” whom the multitude chose, and the apostles appointed with prayer and hands laid on them, seem Hellenistic. If they were not Hebrews (for we know that Andrew and Philip among the apostles were not Hellenists), it was grace abounding practically, not man's way of prudent compromise. Now grace inspires confidence as it expels suspicion. Grace indeed is to the Christian and the church what law ought to have been to Israel. But the heavenly people no less than the earthly forgot their calling; and judgment will surely be executed on the evil at His coming who is to be exalted with His own in heaven and on earth. Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not tarry.
The appointment was followed by marked blessing on the word of God, so that the number of the disciples in Jerusalem was very greatly multiplied; and a new evidence appeared of which nothing was said till now: “a great crowd of the priests obeyed the faith.” We should not be justified in inferring that they as yet in the least suspended their sacerdotal duties in the temple, but rather that the truth gave them more zeal and conscientiousness in their discharge. It was at a comparatively late day, and in fact only a little before the destruction of Jerusalem that they received the call to go forth unto Jesus without the camp, bearing His reproach, and possessed of no abiding city here, but seeking the one to come. How little they yet realized that this one sacrifice for sins now supersedes, because it more than fulfills, all sacrifices!
Another fact of immense moment came to view. “Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people.” which thus wrought then as He works now, seeing that He is alive again for evermore. And it is written that we may believe and obey: for the Spirit who is the agent of power was sent forth to abide forever; and He is faithful to His work in thus glorifying Christ.
It would seem from the false accusation that Stephen was led of God beyond even the apostles in seeing and following the power of the Christian testimony. He may have profited by the Lord's prophecy on Olivet beyond the four who heard, or by other kindred discourses of our Lord, which no doubt in some way percolated among the faithful and convinced him that the temple was doomed to fall, and the Jews to suffer a still wider dispersion than to Babylon. This might readily give occasion to a charge of blasphemy; and the allusion in chap. vii. to the prophet's words confirms it. All proves that he was a teacher of marked intelligence and power.

Not Sinai, but Zion, With Other Coming Glories Heavenly and Earthly

“For ye are not come to a palpable thing and all aglow with fire, and to obscurity and gloom and tempest, and to trumpet's sound, and a voice of words, which those that heard deprecated that a word more should be addressed to them; for they were not able to bear that which was enjoined: And, if a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned; and, so fearful was the scene, Moses said, I am affrighted and trembling all over. But ye are come to mount Zion; and to a living God's city, heavenly Jerusalem; and to myriads of angels, a universal gathering; and to an assembly of firstborns, enrolled in heaven; and to God judge of all; and to spirits of just made perfect; and to Jesus mediator of a new covenant; and to blood of sprinkling speaking better than Abel” (Heb. 12:18-24).
Let us look at this wonderful contrast drawn between the people under the law, after which so many uninstructed and unsteady of the Jewish confessors of the Lord Jesus were hankering, and the Christian privileges to which the gospel entitles all who now believe. Therefore was the Epistle written to wean them from an unbelieving return to a covenant which the prophet, who predicts a new one of divine grace and blessing to come, makes the first old and nigh to vanishing away (chap. 8:8-13). The sin, folly, and danger of such unbelief is vividly set forth here in Heb. 12:18-21.
Hence this word boldly declared to the circumcision that confessed Jesus, “ye are not come” as the Jewish people in their fathers came, to Sinai, a mountain that might be touched, before all eyes in its stern and barren and solitary grandeur. Then also was a state of burning with supernatural fire still more terrible than anything ordinary, along with obscurity and gloom and tempest. What an unearthly and strange aggravation (attested in Ex. 19 and Deut. 4, 5.)! and a trumpet's sound, never heard before nor since, which waxed louder and louder in its awful summons; and a voice of words audible to every soul as God's, more terrifying than all the rest in majesty and deadly meaning for the conscience! Therefore did they above all deprecate this voice that they might hear no more, but Moses on their behalf. For was it not charged that even a beast, unconscious of sin, if it touched the mountain, should be stoned? How then could a poor sinful Israelite stand? And so fearful was the scene, that the very mediator on whom they set their hope said, as the inspired writer could avouch, I am affrighted and full of trembling.
How truly the law was a ministry, not of life and the Spirit, not of pardon and peace, but of death and condemnation! Could God have made it plainer than that, in itself and in its accompaniments, it was to make sin exceeding sinful, and to warn sinners off the delusion that the least help for the sinner lay within its condition? Salvation must come through another, the Messiah; salvation is and must be of God's grace in Him, of whom God had spoken from the day sin entered man and the world (Gen. 3:15); as He confirmed it by many signs and tokens and sacrifices and deliverances throughout the O. T., which no believer that searches can overlook.
Alas! it is not only that Jews are still obdurate. Christendom is more guilty still; and as faith in grace and truth declined, a judaizing reaction has tainted it everywhere. Hence the more ancient bodies have revived the temple, altar, sacrifice, and priests (some with its three orders of high-priest, priests, and Levites). The more modern societies follow the synagogue with its preachers. Both are now flooded with rationalism, superstition, heterodoxy, and worldliness; and this in their all but universal prevalence and alarming growth. Sight and sound, learning, science, sentiment, oratory, show, carry away high and low, with the utmost zeal to gain the masses, but gold and silver also, earthly rank and reputation. Thus is the cross of Christ (abused in a material or idolatrous form) undermined and overthrown on earth; and His heavenly glory in dogmatic and practical power utterly ignored, as is the Holy Spirit's presence and action and testimony to both set aside more and more. It is Judaism and Gentilism supplanting Christianity; and his is Christendom.
Next is the divine picture for Christian eyes, as presented to correct and instruct and warn the Jewish confession (22-24). “But ye are come to mount Zion;” etc. It is a coming, not actually in letter, but in spirit by faith, even if only professedly so. Sinai was the original standing of Israel, their proudest boast. What nation could truthfully say that the living God appeared unequivocally as to them in giving His fiery law, spoken directly and afterward written on tables of stone by His own hand? But ye, Christians, have come to the mountain of grace, not law.
Such then is the principle of Zion. 1 Samuel tells us of the priests corrupt and profane; of the ark taken, of Ichabod written even on their religion and state; of the people sick of Jehovah in their midst, and demanding a king like the nations, in disobedience of the prophet; and their king disobedient like themselves, and pursuing him whom Jehovah chose till he wearied of faith, and the king sought a witch and fell with his three sons by Philistine hands on mount Gilboa. David came at length to the throne of all Israel; but Jerusalem, the future and true metropolis, was so firmly Jebusite, that they taunted him with the insult that the blind and the lame could hold the fort in his defiance. Nevertheless David took the stronghold. of Zion; and there was the king's palace, as the temple later on Moriah.
Thus Zion became the most marked. sign of royal grace; but it awaits great David's greater Son to prove and display it effectively and forever. And the day hastens. He whom the Jews rejected in reckless hate shall sit on the hill of Jehovah's holiness in royal glory as well as grace. It is not heaven, as the Socinians expound; nor is it the church, as the theologians of Christendom dream. It is the center of the kingdom restored to Israel, when they repent and are converted to their true King. Compare Psa. 2; 9; 14; 48; 68; 69; 76; 78; 84; 87; 110; 128; 132; 137; 149. The Prophets abound in similar anticipations, as Isa. 1; 2; 4; 12; 24; 33; 35; 40; 49; 51; 52; 59; 62; 66; Jer. 3; 31; 50; 51. See too Mic. 4; 5; Joel 3, Obad. 17; 21, Zeph. 3, Zechariah 1; 2; 8; 9.
Zion therefore is not merely like Gerizim a pledge of blessing at the start, but an ever recurring signal of sovereign and royal grace triumphing after utter sin and shame and ruin. No mountain named in the Bible suited the aim here so admirably as Zion, the Zion of scripture, not the whimsical substitute of theology, “the catholic church” as even Cromwell's Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, the able and excellent J. Owen makes it to be, militant and triumphant, and to this end omits the copulative (Works, 24. 329, Goold's Ed.). But here we may add that almost all editors of the Greek Test. as well as the commentators almost universally fall into error sometimes repeatedly, by not heeding the plain and sure fact that the conjunction (καὶ-and) connects with Zion each new and distinct link in the chain of glory. In the next page after, as in the text of the page before, it is given correctly; but such laxity makes sound exegesis impossible. The most prevalent instance is in joining “general assembly” (as in the Auth. V.) with “the church of the firstborn;” of which Dr. Owen of course is also guilty, to the destruction of all right intelligence of the context. The least skilful of handlers could not have the hardihood to construe “God the judge of all,” “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,” and “the blood of sprinkling” etc., as the further description of the catholic church; but they do strive hard to merge “the spirits of just men made perfect” in the same object.
Even J. A. Bengel (Gnomon ii. 467, Ed. 1836) lumped “myriads of angels and firstborns” in one category, so as to make out his double sevenfold; whereas the latter consists really of eight, not of seven. Yet in the next p. 468 he properly asks, who would join together as synonyms the church of the firstborn with the general assembly of angels? Nevertheless, who knows not that able men of research like Dean Alford, and Bp. Chr. Wordsworth, and Bp. Westcott, persisted in the same false punctuation, and in joining more or less two categories so different as the angels and the church; as the erudite Bp. J. Pearson laid down in his famous exposition of the Creed since 1658? The perplexities of the learned are great and varied, as F. Delitzsch here speaks of three closely connected questions, and among the hardest in our Epistle. But, whatever the connection, the difficulty is largely due to overlooking the help rendered by the conjunction as the introduction of each added object after the first, or Zion. The neglect of this threw even so eminent a preacher. and teacher as J. Howe into confusion like almost every other, as we may see in his use of this scripture everywhere, particularly in his sermon, or part of it, dedicated to Lady Russell. Lesser lights we need not notice.
The inspired picture then starts as a great principle from the spot of all on earth most ennobled by its associations to believing Israelites. For though the Epistle would bind their hearts and relations with Him who sits in heaven at God's right hand (and therefore Christian truth, above all visible forms and shadows), care is taken to notice briefly by the way the people of God and their hopes of the Kingdom and rest on earth also (chaps. 2; 4).
Next, we read, “and a living God's city, heavenly Jerusalem.” There is thus no connection with a dying David's city, but a rise from earth to heavenly glory, as this Epistle testified of Abraham's case when in the land. For “by faith he sojourned as a stranger in the land of promise as a foreign [country] having dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob the joint-heirs of the same promise; for he waited for the city that hath the foundations, of which God is architect and builder” (chap. 11:9, 10). The same truth is if possible more plainly stated in vers. 13-16. It will be in addition to what their seed will have on earth under Messiah and the new covenant for their joy and the blessing of all the families of the earth; their own seat of glory above as risen saints. Not that we should confound the coming and abiding city on high of which this Epistle speaks with the holy city in Rev. 21:9, which was seen coming down out of heaven from God, For the Epistle never rises to the mystery in the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians. When “church” is spoken of in chaps. 2 and 12 in this context, it is not in its unity but in its constituents, as “of first-borns” proves. Its city is a place of glory which risen saints are to occupy. But in the Revelation it is what the church is to be, and not where; not objective but subjective, as men say. For it would contradict scripture, to infer that Abraham or any other O.T. saint had any idea of that union as the one body with its heavenly Head which is its essence, being the great mystery expressly declared to be not made known to the sons of men, the mystery or secret hid, not in scripture, but in God, and now revealed to the holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.
Then we hear, “and to myriads of angels, a universal gathering (or, myriads, universal gathering of angels).” A multitude of this heavenly host at the Incarnation hailed with unjealous delight the Divine Savior's birth as man, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men. Here they are seen as the indigenous denizens of heaven in festal assembly, rejoicing in the results of grace for men on earth.
But now follows not only the glory of God seen above supremely, but first an unexpected sight: those who, expressly as lost ones saved irrespectively of special promises (after all seemed a hopeless ruin of Jew no less than Gentile in the cross of Christ), were brought into the nearest association with Him for heavenly places. “And an assembly of firstborns, enrolled in heaven” by sovereign grace as angels are not, and called to reign with Christ which a created angel never is. If we do not hear of them as Christ's body and bride of the Lamb, as the apostles Paul and John speak elsewhere, their being heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ is here recognized in the remarkable title of these as individuals. Contrary to nature which admits of but one in human limits, here they were all and equally first-borns, as He who in His own right infinitely above them deigned to treat them as His “fellows,” in no way ashamed to call them “brethren” (chaps. 1: 2), His holy brethren partakers of a heavenly calling, not like Israel of an earthly one however grand. They were enregistered in heaven as their proper fatherland in sovereign grace.
Thence we ascend to Him who is supreme. “And to God judge of all.” Judicially He had been known, though by few comparatively in O.T. times, as in the age to come here contemplated He will be universally manifested, proved, and confessed. So for instance He is celebrated in Psa. 1, to take one witness out of many. “El Elohim Jehovah hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth. Our God will come and will not keep silence; fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He will call to the heavens above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather to me my godly ones, those that have made a covenant with me over sacrifice! And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is judge himself.” Isaiah points out (24:21-23) His action still more loftily and profoundly: “And it shall come to pass in that day Jehovah will punish the host of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth on the earth. And they shall be brought together, an assembly of prisoners for the pit, and shall he shut up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited. And the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for Jehovah of hosts shall reign on mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients [in] glory.”
As God is and must be the summit of glory, it is clear that, if another step be added, it is to come down from Him on the other side. And this is just what we see next. The richest manifestation of grace in Christ is toward the church; and this we had, before we were directed to God in His judicial capacity, the great burden of O.T. expectation, which is to be displayed in the Kingdom, which our Lord taught us to consist of two distinct parts, not only the heavenly kingdom of the Father, but also the Son of man's kingdom, out of which His angels shall gather all offenses and all that do lawlessness. God as judge of all prepares the way naturally for the saints in O.T. days who knew Him thus, yet walked in hope of Messiah. “And to the spirits of just [men] made perfect” fits those saints more aptly and fully than any other class. They all died according to faith, having promise but in no way its accomplishment; whereas the church of first-borns did not begin to exist as such till the Son and Heir of all things, being rejected of Jew and Gentile, suffered for sins on the cross, rose, and ascended to heaven; whence He sent forth the Holy Spirit to commence and establish that new creation by baptizing those that believe into one body, Christ's body. These spirits are the elders that obtained testimony before the Lord came, and are here grouped as spirits of men who had finished their course, but not yet crowned or enthroned till their bodies are glorified at Christ's coming. No more exact phrase could be used about them; nor any less adapted to the church, even if we had not the church already, which must have a surviving part on earth when the Lord comes, instead of being all separate “spirits.”
The seventh object we come to here is, “and to Jesus mediator of a new [or fresh] covenant.” This is a remarkably precise and significant clause. It is not said that we are come to the new covenant, which, as Jer. 31:31 34 tells us, is to be made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the first covenant at Sinai where all hung on the people's faithfulness to Jehovah, and, as they were unfaithful, to their ruin till this day. The new covenant is on the opposite principle of His grace and faithfulness to them, when He will put His law in their inwards and within their heart; and He will be their God and they His people in His love and power, not on their responsibility. They shall all know me from the least to the greatest, saith Jehovah; for I will pardon their iniquity, and their sins will I remember no more—the great hindrance to knowing Him being thus taken away. To this state of Israel we are not said to have come, but to Jesus its mediator, as is indubitable; and we enjoy “the spirit,” if not “the letter,” of that covenant, on the principle of grace in contrast with law, as 2 Cor. 3 intimates. But there is more here implied in this, the only place where occurs a “fresh” covenant in the N. T. Its force appears to be that, however long that covenant of grace got suspended for the ancient people of God in their unbelieving Lo-Ammi condition, it awaits their sure and repentant acceptance of it, as “fresh” as when founded on the only sacrifice by which it could come to them.
The last is “and to blood of sprinkling speaking better than Abel.” Here we descend to earth again, but it is not to the central seat of Zion, from which we rose. It is the earth in all its extent, with any such exception as is due to God's indignation during the kingdom before “a new heaven and a new earth” in their absolute form, and for the everlasting state, as in 1 Cor. 15:24, 2 Peter 3:13; and Rev. 21:1-8. As the blood of Abel cried to Jehovah from the ground and brought a curse (Gen. 4:10-12), Christ's blood of sprinkling has reconciling power, in virtue of which when He is revealed and the sons of God along with Him in glory, all things (not all persons) that were dragged down through Adam's sin shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. We even now know by faith the liberty of grace, as Rom. 8:1-4 teaches, and Gal. 4 v. and many another scripture. This the groaning creation cannot from its unintelligent nature enter into and enjoy through the Holy Spirit, as is now our portion. But none the less shall the whole creation which fell with the first Adam share the blessed power of the Last Adam when He appears, not only to save Israel, but to gladden the wilderness and the dry land; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose or lily: not a leaf or an insect too tiny to expand to His honor in that bright day of glory.

2 Peter 1:10-11

Here again in these concluding words of the introduction we may see the practical earnestness which eminently characterizes our apostle. His aim is not dogmatic clearing up but spiritual power for every day.
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, use diligence to make your calling and election sure; for in doing these things ye shall never stumble. For thus shall be richly furnished to you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (vers. 10, 11).
The true knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord is characteristic of Christianity, and rises far above what the law and the prophets conveyed, excellent as they were and are. But that knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the gospel communicates, is meant to make us, as partaking of a divine nature, neither idle nor unfruitful meanwhile. Flesh has to be judged, and the world held aloof by such as have escaped its corruption by lust. We need, as all life does, to grow by suited divine fare; and we are called to do God's will.
There are the due affections to cultivate around us and upward. The pointed warning was just given of what surely follows indifference to the moral side, the blindness that ensues, the shortsightedness as to God's own glory and excellence, Jesus crowned with honor and glory in all that becomes our relationship and dangers here ever present. Otherwise one forgets the gracious and solemn remission of the gospel, and the meaning of baptism to Christ's death at the start of the Christian profession.
Thus the diligence called for in vers. 5-7 is impressed in another way in vers. 10, 11. There it was in faith as the starting-point to furnish the necessary and blessed elements that form Christian character, from moral courage to divine love reproduced in the heart and ways, with the happy result where they exist and abound, with the sad effect where they are lacking. Here looking at both sides the apostle exhorts his “brethren” all the more to give diligence, not merely to bear in lively recollection, in thankfulness, and exercised conscience, their first confession of divine grace to them as guilty sinners, but “to make their calling and election sure.” In our fallen state, as in the world, there is nothing at all to help for life and godliness. The fairest show in flesh is the most deceptive and dangerous; and if Gentiles, like the Galatian and the Colossian brethren, were so prone to this snare, how much more were those who had been Jews, both to slip back from grace, and to make it a creed to own, instead of the spring and proof and joy of faith?
It is plain that the fresh appeal is to our state and consequent course and character of walk. The very order of the terms indicates this; for on the side of divine grace election according to scripture necessarily precedes calling. God's choice of the Christian is in eternity; as His calling of us is in time out of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). So in the opening of the First Epistle the saints were said to be elect according to God the Father's foreknowledge; but it was in virtue of the Spirit's sanctification that they were separated unto the obedience and blood-sprinkling of the Lord Jesus Christ. The well-known summary in Rom. 8:28-30 is still more precise and full. “And we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those that are called according to purpose. Because whom he fore-knew he also predestinated [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he should be firstborn among many brethren. And whom he predestinated, these he also called; and whom he called, these he also justified; and whom he justified, these he also glorified.” Thus the chain of blessing is completed when the many brethren are brought even as concerns the body into conformity with their glorified Lord. The order is as clearly of God's grace; as that in our text, where calling comes before election, is of its actual application to man. And this is in keeping with the context which deals with the present moral government of souls.
The passage answers in its place to what we have in 1 Peter 1:17, 18: “And if ye call on him as Father that without respect of persons judgeth according to the work of each, pass the time of your sojourn in fear, knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptibles, silver or gold, from your vain manner of walk handed down from fathers, but with precious blood of Christ as of a lamb unblemished and spotless,” etc. The fear enjoined is not from lack of certainty in our redemption, which on the contrary is enforced with all power and clearness. It is filial fear strengthened by the only efficacious sacrifice, but tempered because a Father holy and impartial watches over every step of our pilgrimage; and as He will not condemn us with the world, He chastens because He loves us too well to gloss over our failures. Here Christian responsibility is pressed, that there should not be inconsistency in our ways. His calling like His election is a matter of sovereign grace, and admits no question. But the case is different when we hear of our calling and election. Here negligence disorders the walk, and compromises our profession of His name, takes away our joy and enfeebles or hinders our testimony, and all the more if our conscience be tender. The heart condemns us, as is said in 1 John 3:20; and how much more does God, who greater than our heart knows all things, and draws us into self-judgment, so that it should not condemn us!
Practical fidelity, then, is urged the more with diligence to make our calling and election sure; “for doing these things” which please God, and are His will concerning us, they are made firm to our enjoyment, instead of being loose and unstable by a careless state; and so one may add, they are to others who look for our ways agreeing with our words. Walking in dependence and obedience we shall never stumble. It is therefore a most humbling thing when one thus trips by the way, and mistakes his own will or the enemy's suggestion for the Lord's guidance. How painfully it is learned that all knowledge here fails; and that we must be brought to deep self-judgment, and vigilance in looking to and leaning on the Lord that we may follow Him closely. For any one can see a failure, and flesh can censure without measure or heart. Grace alone can purify according to the standard of the sanctuary; but this may be retarded by failure in penetrating to the roots of what misled. And here it is ourselves who are to blame; for there is in Christ and the word all resource to meet the need, yea, so as to strengthen one's brethren also, as Peter himself had to learn, and learned so well.
But more encouragement follows here. “For thus shall be richly furnished to you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Here again it is not a predicted fact that is intended, but the full realization even now by the soul that walks blamelessly before God. Thus it is that the entrance into the kingdom should be furnished. One is thus enabled to anticipate in rich measure the everlasting kingdom. So the Spirit was pleased to describe it. At any rate it is not put as a mediatorial display of glory in reigning over the earth for a thousand years, blessed as this will be; but rather what is unchanging. For there is also revealed that His servants shall serve Him and see His face, and reign forever and ever.
Here then to those walking by grace faithfully “shall be richly furnished the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Not only is evil avoided, but there is nothing to dim the eyes or burden the heart. And the future glory is made richly to fill the soul as that which, as it belongs to Him, is shared with us, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. We are thus led into it for heart enjoyment; for the Spirit, being ungrieved, is not stopped by our errors and wrong-doing to humble us, but can show us things to come. “He shall glorify me, because he shall receive of mine and shall declare [it] to you.” The entrance into it shall be richly furnished in the case described for practical joy and power over all that is present, whereby Satan seeks to dazzle and occupy the unwary.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Article Before "Eternal Life"; Head and Chief

Q.-1 John 5:20. The article before “eternal life” in this verse is said not to have authority sufficient to retain it in the Greek. What difference does the presence or absence of the article make for this passage? In the controversy during recent years on “life eternal” I have seen it stated, that the absence of the article here renders this passage to mean that “life eternal” is “characteristic” of Christ, not that He is personally “the life eternal.” INQUIRER.
A.-In 1 John 5:20 the oldest and best authority excludes the article before “life eternal.” But it is only a novice in zeal for his notion that could thence infer that the phrase is characteristic and not objective. For the article before “the true God” is passed on by the connective particle to “life eternal” also according to a well-known principle of its usage. “The true God and life eternal” are thus bound up with our Lord Jesus Christ in the striking way peculiar to this Epistle, which combines God with Him, or as here with life eternal. The case therefore is not only an oversight, but a cogent proof against those who would separate them. Had the article been repeated before “life,” it would have made them distinct objects, the very thing which the apostle avoided. The opening chapter 1(ver. 2) is most emphatic in predicating objective reality of “the life eternal,” both with the Father before He became flesh, and when He was thus manifested. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” especially for such as hastily seize a superficial appearance in questions so grave and momentous, where truth and safety are found only in entire subjection to the written word.
Q.-Col. 1:18, Head of the body. Is there any ground for deducing from J.N.D.'s French Version, that he by “chef” denied Christ to be “head,” and made Him only “chief”? A.V.
A.-Those who talk thus have no other ground for their notion, than their own will to lower Christ, along with ignorance of the French language, which treats “tête” in this connection as antique and prefers “chef” in the same sense as its substitute. The real word in the context for “chief” is “first-born,” both in creation (ver. 15), and in new creation (ver. 18). But the word employed by the Spirit of God in this last verse for “head,” “head of the body,” means this and nothing else; and Mr. D. never allowed a thought of anything short of it. Nor could any one familiar with his writings or oral teaching have the least question about it. The indulgence of such baseless speculation, both as to his faith and yet more seriously as to scripture, betrays the spirit of error in opposition to the Spirit of truth.


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The Chief Cup Bearer's Dream

God had tried His dear child, and would try him longer. Yet this was an honor to Joseph, who was given not only to believe but to suffer for His sake. But the chain of providential links was being forged which would raise the suffering Israelite from the dungeon to the highest position in Egypt next to the throne. The dream of the chief cup-bearer was an important link in that chain.
“And the chief of the cup-bearers told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine [was] before me; and in the vine [were] three branches; and it [was] as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, its clusters ripened into grapes. And Pharaoh's cup [was] in my hand; and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. And Joseph said to him, This [is] the interpretation of it: the three branches [are] three days. Within yet three days will Pharaoh lift up thy head, and restore thee to thy place; and thou shalt give Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his cup-bearer. Only have me in thy remembrance when it shall be well with thee, and deal kindly with me, I pray thee, and make mention of me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon” (vers. 9-15).
God works often by simple means, as here by such a dream as fell very naturally to this official of Pharaoh's court. Yet was it truly prophetic; and only a prophet was enabled to give its unequivocal meaning. Here the wisdom of God was as evident as in sending the dream. No one looks for the unities of time and place in such a vision. The events of months, or years, might be crowded into a single transaction, as in the vine budding and blossoming and yielding grapes, and wine fit for a monarch's cup. Nobody ever heard historically of so rapid a result in the hands of a cup-bearer, without a wine press or vat, or the storage in jars, seen on the monuments, and some tomb-walls dating even before the Hyksos. For wine-drinking to excess is known to have prevailed, especially at certain festivities. So that it is without warrant to assume that the liquor pressed out into the king's cup was meant to imply literally mere grape juice from the cluster rather than the fermented issue. But this is an insignificant point, save to a teetotaler's mind.
The remarkable point which Joseph was given to seize is the precision of the three days indicated by the three branches. No priestly interpreter in Egypt would have ventured to say, as Joseph did at once, “The three branches are three days. Within yet three days will Pharaoh lift up thy head, and restore thee to thine office.” It might, if a guess, have been more probably three months; but no. The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear Him; and even more was given here, the exercise in Joseph's spirit, and the divine wisdom that sent the vision to the Egyptian official, with a sadness at its arrival so soon to end in his joyful reinstatement. Interpretation of what God says or does belongs to God, who communicates it as He will, and as the rule, to those whom He loves, even in circumstances of the deepest humiliation. For in this Joseph aptly figured what was verified in the blessed Lord Himself here below.
We too may have dreams; and one may not say that all spring from the busy working of the brain, or that God may not deal thus as of old in slumberings on the bed, to withdraw man from self-will and hide pride from him. But we have as believers, and especially as Christians, far better than such comparatively vague intimations. We have the scriptures in all their fullness, revealing God, His counsels, work, will, and ways, from eternity to eternity. We have also the Holy Spirit sent from the Father and the Son in heaven, and never to leave but abide with us and in us, Who when come was sent to guide us into all the truth, and declare to us the things to come, glorifying our Lord Jesus in both. He is the standing, intimate, and ready interpreter, not like one among a thousand, as Elihu says, nor even as Joseph supernaturally endowed, but a divine Person dwelling in us. May we have grace to abjure all that grieves and hinders, and to cultivate what is of Himself so as to enjoy the privilege and the fruit more and more.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 8. Poor Brother in Decay

Here we read a new statute respecting the poor brother fallen into decay. It does not touch on what might be done by his nearest relation, or by his own recovery, as in vers. 25-28, but on loving succor where there was no such resource from without or from within. For Jehovah encouraged compassion in His people, of which they had been so richly the objects from Himself. Nothing more alien from His mind, among His own and even to strangers, than the spirit of independence of which the Gentiles are proud in their self-sufficient ignorance of God.
“And if thy brother grow poor and be fallen into decay beside thee, then thou shalt relieve him, stranger or sojourner, that he may live beside thee. Thou shalt take no usury nor increase of him; and thou shalt fear thy God, that thy brother may live beside thee. Thy money shalt thou not give him on usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. I [am] Jehovah your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, to be your God” (vers. 35-38).
Three divine principles are here applied to the duty of the Israelite, standing in a relationship to Jehovah peculiar to that people of His choice, whatever the mercy it may involve as it does to the stranger; for God abides good in Himself and to all, and will not suffer His people to forget it, though prone to do so as scripture proves, to say nothing of experience.
(1) It is His grace which gives prosperity to any. Only unbelief is blind to His overruling who counts the hairs of our head, and without whom not a sparrow falls unheeded. Man, sinner alas! as he is, is no object of indifference to Him. The Israelite was then precious to him for the fathers' sake, as he will be by-and-by not for them also but incomparably more for Him whom in repentance and faith they will own as their Messiah, so long despised, their all-gracious and Almighty deliverer when ready to perish under the Antichrist and to be swallowed up by the nations. But even from early days He would have them pitiful to their brother, or even a stranger and sojourner by their side, that he might live and not die. It was grace that called out Abram from beyond the Euphrates, where their fathers in old time dwelt and even served other gods. It was grace that sent Moses to plague Egypt which oppressed the sons of Israel, and brought them out of the iron furnace across the Red Sea which covered their enslavers. When the same power should destroy the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the rest who dwelt in the promised land, they were bound to remember that all was of His grace, and that He enjoined it in due measure on those who prospered on behalf of their decayed brothers. It was no small grace which inaugurated the emerging, if not birth, of His people, when brought forth out of the land of Egypt to receive the land of Canaan, and have Jehovah their Savior and guide and governor to be their God,
Just so we, Christians, are privileged and bound ever to look back and cherish our beginning, the foundation of all our blessing in Him who died, rose, and ascended to the highest heaven for us. This rises far above what was given or possible to Israel; for we can say, and ought to know by divine teaching, we are quickened and raised together with Christ and made to sit together in Him in the heavenlies. And as we are such a workmanship as this, His body who is Head over all, so were we created in Christ Jesus (for it is a wholly new thing) for good works which God before prepared that we should walk in them, a new walk in many respects because of and suited to such a unique relationship.
Israel had to represent Jehovah and do His will as given to dwell in His land. If the strange gods gave a license to every passion of sinful man through the working of the great enemy of God and man, the Jew was called to practice mercy, as belonging to and confessing Him who delights in mercy. How could He maintain a people in His land, the good land flowing with milk and honey, where His eyes rested continually, if they set His will at naught and abandoned Him? They had deliberately taken their stand on their obedience of His law, and must abide the consequence. Mercy obtained is a valid ground for expecting mercy to be shown; and the law bound this on the Jew as we see here.
But there was also the powerful influence of hope, which governs the regulations of all this chapter. The Jew was called to act in view of the jubilee, and was inexcusable if he put it from his eyes in his conduct. When a brother was decayed, he was to bear in mind the deliverance that ere long would surely come, and thereby be strengthened to assist the need, and not to make it an occasion for selfish greed by interest for a loan, or return of food to increase his own store. For Israel in the land was not to be a merchant like the Canaanite; but the striking contrast of the Jews now among the nations, enriching themselves in this way beyond all others, the banking masters of the world. They have for the time lost their true place, because they became apostate from God, first by idolatry, then by rejecting Jesus the Christ; as they will descend lower still by receiving the Antichrist, Even on their return from Babylon, which was to see the Messiah in humiliation, they made the divine command of no effect by their tradition; and selfish interest prevailed over goodness and mercy, till unbelief wrought to the utmost.
But what has Christendom to say as to this? Has it the face to reproach the Jew? Christendom that has oppressed, plundered, and cruelly persecuted the Jew, instead of being a city of refuge to the man-slayer, till the death of the anointed priest (that is in antitype, till Christ closes His priesthood on high)! Thence He will come for judgment, and the believing homicide will be cleared and enter on his inheritance; but the blood of guilt shall lie on the unrepentant murderer who persists in his unbelief to helpless ruin.

Proverbs 22:8-14

Next we have an alternating series of characteristics to strive against or to cherish, with only evils following, which call for our heed.
“He that soweth unrighteousness shall reap vanity; and the rod of his wrath shall have an end.
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed, for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out, and strife and ignominy shall cease.
He that loveth pureness of heart [with] grace of his lips, the king [shall be] his friend.
The eyes of Jehovah preserve knowledge, but he overthroweth the words of the treacherous.
The sluggard saith, A lion without, I shall be killed in the streets!
The mouth of strange women [is] a deep ditch; he with whom Jehovah is indignant shall fall therein” (vers. 8-14).
To begin here injustice is to end with mischief and disappointment; yet if this sours the temper and leads to wrath, its effect is neither great nor long. It is the O.T. analogue to Gal. 6:7, 8: “Be not deceived. God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall be also reap. Fur he that soweth to his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life eternal.”
The bountiful eye, on the contrary, does not wait for the appeals of want, but looks out for it in this world of disorder and distress; and his hand and heart go with the good will of his eye; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. And such a one is and shall be blessed.
The scorner is not only ungodly and a sinner, but a source of mischief where he enters. Would you have contention to disappear, you must get rid of his presence, for it surely brings strife and shame along with it.
How different with the man who joins love of a pure heart to grace on his lips! He is a treasure, not only in private but for public complications. The king seeks such a one for his friend. It is the combination that is so rare.
Even in a world of deception, before the king shall reign in righteousness, when eyes are dim and ears dull, where the vile is called liberal and the churl bountiful, the eyes of Jehovah preserve knowledge, which otherwise would perish from the earth; and He overthrows the words of the treacherous, were they as high as Haman in the eyes of Ahasuerus.
Again, the sluggard who likes to lie abed says in his foolish fancy, A lion is without, I shall be killed in the streets! He is blind to the worst enemy that besets his chamber and enchains his soul.
But the mouth of strange women is yet more dangerous to the unwary, “a deep ditch” for such as yield to her snares. He who falls therein is apt to sink indeed to utter ruin, or, in the energetic phrase of this book, he is one against whom Jehovah hath indignation.

Gospel Words: the Light of the World

Here the character of the position for the disciples goes beyond “the salt of the earth.” For this was expressive of righteousness; a righteousness not outward like that of the scribes and Pharisees (which sought reputation of man, and was little beyond the pride of a Stoic), but lowly and real as in God's sight. Whereas “the light of the world” is the shining forth of grace, and inseparable from the confession of Christ in that respect. Salt preserves, but does not make everything manifest as the light does.
Ye are the light of the world: a city set upon a hill-top cannot be hid. Nor do they light a lamp, and put it under the dry measure but on the lamp-stand, and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Thus let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father that is in the heavens (vers. 14-16).
“The world” had no such special dealing of God as “the earth.” There moral darkness had reigned, which the light was to dispel as far as He gave it scope and power. Redemption, Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, would give the light a penetrating energy unknown before. For such was the deadly pall which overhung the favored land during our Lord's earthly sojourn that, contrary to nature, the darkness resisted the light, and “comprehended not” even the True Light in His person. But when He rose victorious over all the power of the wicked one, the old commandment became the new, and was true not in Him only but in us, Christians, because the darkness is quite passing and the true light already shines.
This is confirmed by the figure which follows and carries the truth out farther. “A city set, or situated, upon a hill-top cannot be hid.” The sphere is no longer the circumscribed area of the earth or land, but, as for another aspect we read, “the field is the world.” The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ would make Himself known at least in testimony, before power effectuates His will far and wide. As perfect love He came down in Christ to man; but the world knew Him not, and His own people received Him not, yea insisted that He should be crucified. Now He sets Christ in the heavenlies above every principality and authority and power and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that to come, and put all things under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. And they, His disciples, are the light of the world: a city set upon a hill-top cannot be hid. Once darkness, they are now light in the Lord, and responsible to walk as children of light, corporately as well as individually. For the fruit of light is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth. They are to prove what is agreeable to the Lord, and to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather to reprove them.
Men treat their light more fairly than Christendom does the light of which our Lord spoke. Men shrink from natural darkness, its inconveniences, and its dangers; and when they light a lamp, they do not put it under the dry measure (which of course would quite hide it) but on the lampstand, and it shines to all that are in the house. But Christendom fears the light that exposes its neglect of scripture, and of the Holy Spirit's guidance, and of Christ who is and ought to be the all. Therefore, Christianity and the church being sadly misrepresented, all the privileges and duties suffer in the same proportion; as the Lord and the apostles prepare us to expect. But the faithful are bound with humility yet in courage of faith to let the light shine; for it is not of self, but the confession of Christ in everything going forth as God has taught them, whether men hear or forbear. It is meant by our Lord to shine to all that are in the house, and beyond too.
Do we want to make known God as He is? Christ is His image and alone perfectly represents Him. Would we show Him as Father? He the Son declares Him and is the way to Him. Would we see man as he ought to be? It is not on the first man we must look but on the Second. Would we measure the true wickedness of Satan? It is in his direct, constant, personal hatred of and antagonism to Jesus the Son of God. Do you crave the sight of life eternal in the midst of this evil and guilty world? There it is in word and deed fully revealed in the same Lord Jesus. Would you consider death in all its solemn nature? It is He who manifests it. Would you look at life in risen power? Jesus alone and perfectly discloses it. Do you wish a true sight of the highest heaven? It is where the Father received Him with the fullest love and glory. Would we warn of hell? It is the everlasting fire, in which all that despise, hate and reject Him must have their portion with the devil and his angels. Christ is the light that makes everything and one manifest.
So it might be shown in the whole range of privilege and duty and from the least thing to the greatest. He is the measure of love and holiness, of service and worship, of devotedness, of suffering, and of communion. He is the standard of sin and of judgment no less than of righteousness. And as the Father is only known through and in Him, so the Spirit acts to make all good in the believer, that we might be delivered from all our thoughts and imaginations, and be led into all truth and kept.
“Thus let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good (or, comely, καλά) works, and glorify your Father that is in the heavens.” This is practical Christianity in its outgoing, as the salt is the preservative power of purity which we always need to have in ourselves. It is to confess and live Christ, not only in secret which is essential and so pressed elsewhere before Him who sees there, but also truly and unflinchingly before men. Benevolent works are no test, and are not what Christ looked for and here expresses. He spoke of works excellent in the sense of what suits the Father and the Son, and of which the Holy Spirit is the sole power in us. It is not His mind to let our good works shine before men, but our light, or confession of Himself in word and deed.
Nor can anything other or short of this secure the end He proposes. For I might dole out all my goods in what men call charity, or deliver up my body to be burned without confessing Christ, and therefore without in any way glorifying the Father. There is neither light nor love without the faith and the confession of Christ; and self might thereby be honored, but not the Father. Whereas let the light of Christ shine in your confession; and when men see right works in accordance with the will of God, they glorify not you but the Father who is the spring and aim of what you do.

God the Father Manifested and Glorified (Duplicate)

The more we search into the words of Jesus, the more we see how entirely it is a new thing that He sets up on the ground of the redemption He accomplished.
“I have glorified thee upon the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, O Father, glorify thou me.” While the divine nature of the Lord Jesus shines out upon every page of this Gospel, not only doctrinally but in a thousand things when the eye is opened to see it, yet He never goes out of His place as man, the place He had taken in order to fulfill the Father's will. It was the very thing Satan wanted Him to do. He tried in the wilderness to make Him leave it when he said, “Command that these stones be made bread”: act from your own will, do not stay in the place of a servant. But the Lord would not listen for a moment, and says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” He had taken the place of a servant; and, being in that place, He never went out and never will go out of it. Therefore He does not say, “Now I will glorify myself,” but, “glorify thou me;” yet it was “with the glory I had with thee before the world was.” Thus, while we see His title to the divine place, at the same time He never goes out of the place of lowliness and humiliation. He could speak of “the Son of man which is in heaven,” and yet walk about the earth as one that served. He came down to death, but He “gave up” His spirit. God was shining through the humanity of Jesus; and it is the joy and blessedness of the saint who has eyes to see (for He came in a shape in which I can see it), that he was down here a Man amongst men, but it is God whom I see there! God's power was manifested in creation; but we see nothing of His heart there. But when God is manifest in the flesh, we find all His perfect grace and goodness. There are both sides, and if one lose either, he loses everything. If He is only a Man, blessed grace and beauty are seen in Him; but I have really a Man who is so much better than myself that He could have nothing to say to me. If He is only God, a little bit of His glory terrifies me. But we have divine love serving; and the more we contemplate it, the more blessed we shall be. There is another thing. We cannot enjoy aright the bread of God, the true Manna come down from heaven, unless we first eat His flesh and drink His blood—unless we come by His death. We may be attracted by His grace, the Spirit showing it and drawing the heart, as with the boor woman who was a sinner: the grace that was in Him attracted her heart, and she goes into the house.
She had seen divine goodness and love so completely above all the evil in love and holiness, that He could bend down to all the evil (not allowing it of course). What a revelation of God we have in the Lord Jesus! He comes down to us where we are in our sins, but that would be nothing if it were not He who comes down. For I should say, “I have seen blessedness and holiness; but I cannot stand before it.” We must remember that love never gave up holiness; but there was His blessed testimony to a love which never gave them up, and could bend down to sinners and come to them; “for God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He never says, “Come unto me” until He had come in perfect grace and holiness to them. But the moment He had thus come, He presents a blessed Object to attract the heart: the blessed Son of God come down to the place of sinners and of sin; and there is nothing like this and never will be! It is the one thing in which everything centers; all the purposes and counsels of God made good in that “I have glorified thee upon the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” The Son of God is exalted in consequence of what He has done. He has finished the work and glorified God as He never could have been glorified except for sin. This may sound strange: but what was in the heart of God never could have been shown out in any other way, as it has been shown at the cross. He displayed His power in creation; but when I come to the case of sinners, all that God is in goodness, grace, and patience comes out as it could not have done with an innocent man. All that is most blessed is unfolded when good and evil come out, and that to a meeting-point. Satan's and man's hatred found its complete utterance; it was shown in a fully complete way in the rejection of the blessed Son of God come in love. Every possible detail in which evil could be—proud treachery, base abandonment where love had been, injustice in the judge who should have defended the innocent, the priest (who should have pleaded for weakness) pleading against Him—everything man ought not to be was shown out then, man's enmity definitely proved when God was there in love, and in the perfect manifestation of what man ought to be in obedience.
All that God was in love met all that man was in evil, when Christ was made sin for us. It is clear that creation could not thus glorify God. What has creation to do with sin, except that it has been spoiled by it?
Sin having come in, God was dishonored in the creature of His delight; and the blessed Lord who had God's glory perfectly at heart puts Himself forward, is made sin for us, and the righteous judgment of God goes out against sin.
God was there manifesting such unspeakable love as could not have been manifested except for sin, and at the same time fully establishing His righteousness and glory. The cross was the pivot on which turned all that went on in the counsels of God before, and all that will be in the new heavens and new earth hereafter.
We cannot sit and contemplate the blessedness of the life of Christ unless we first come in by the death of Christ. Am I not a sinner? And do I sit down and say I am competent to estimate all that beauty and blessedness? What! with my stupidly debased mind? No, if I come in truth, I must come as a sinner; and then I find the grace that suits a sinner. I must meet Him in the grace that meets my need; or I must meet Him in His glory when He comes to take vengeance on them that know not God.
But when gone into the holiest of all through the rent veil, then I can turn on God's side of the cross, and look back at all that it was to Him, and all that His life was in leading up to it; and thus I can eat the manna after I have eaten the flesh and drunk the blood. It is impossible that a sinner can come with a divine mind, and meditate upon all His perfect divine life upon earth unless He first comes through the cross. There is no truth else. How can I talk about contemplating God till I know His mercy? But I go in through the veil and am at peace, perfectly reconciled to God, not a question about me left, not with the spirit of bondage, but with the Spirit of adoption. I know that He has said, “I go to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Then, being at perfect peace, sitting in the heavenlies by the counsels of divine love, I can turn back and look at what that offering was by which I have come, and see its intrinsic value. It is of infinite value! He could say “Therefore doth my Father love me.” All our thoughts are poverty itself; but there is that aspect to the soul by which I can sit down and adore and worship.
This is a far higher thing than eating the flesh and blood. When I come as a sinner to the cross, as I must, what is the ground on which I come? My sins.
A young Christian has got forgiveness and he is full of his happiness; he is thinking about himself. No one can come in any other way, I would most strongly insist upon that; the first thing is to get washed. But we may see the character of what is meant in a very simple way. For coming about his own sins, he measures the grace and goodness, and the comfort and blessing, by the fact that Christ has met all those sins. But when I have come and am in perfect rest, then I can sit down and eat Him, eat that Bread come down from heaven—what I shall eat forever and ever! It is blessed to see in the sacrifices how this is always kept in view. In the peace-offering the fat was burned; it was Jehovah's part. The priests (all Christians) eat the flesh of the sacrifice, and the people who were invited eat it; that is, they entered into the blessedness that it was to God.
We get in these sacrifices the difference brought out. In the sin-offering, something wrong had been done; and they had to bring their offering; but it was not a sweet savor. The blood was carried within the veil; but the beast was burned without the camp.
The burnt offering was not for sin, and yet it would not have been there except on account of sin; Christ offered Himself without spot to God, and by the grace of God He tasted death for every man.
Note here, the sin and trespass offerings are directly in connection with our responsibility. He has borne the sins which we have committed; but then there is another thing—not only what we have done, but that our hearts should also feel where we were. Not only, “What hast thou done?” but as God said to Adam, “Where art thou?” Where was he? Away from God, and getting further away from Him if he could! This is the dreadful thing. He had sinned; but it was far more to be away from God, “without God in the world;” and “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” at the end. That is what man is.
We are not in paradise; and where are we? The first grand evidence of wickedness in Cain was that he did not know he was away from God. He was so utterly far from God that he never found it out! He had not the sense that he was totally away from God; he thought he could go and worship Him, and offer the fruit of his toil as if nothing had happened; but he did not enter one atom into the thoughts of God.
It is a picture not of the open rejection of God in an outward way, but of the utter dreadful insensibility of the human heart as to where we are. Abel recognized that he was outside; and that Another must make atonement. He owned where he was. The one came as if there was nothing the matter, nothing gone wrong; the other recognized that he must have an atonement, or he could not come to God at all.
The condition of man was definitely brought out at the cross of Christ: “If one died for all, then were all dead,” dead in trespasses and sins; and if so, there must be a new creation. “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
The first man is cast out of paradise and he is insensible; but we have Christ, the second Man, brought into a far better Paradise, and we are brought in with Him. “To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” The second Man is brought into it; and we are made one with Christ—members of His body.
When looking at the wondrous glory of the church of God, if we would have these blessed truths really and solidly in our hearts, we must get thoroughly hold of the foundation. If I can look up, and say, It is all mine, an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ, a member of His body—that I am given to enter into the joy of my Lord, that when He shall appear I shall be like Him—to enable us to hold the reality of these blessings, not only as scriptural statements, but healthily in the soul, we must enter into the truth of Christ having gone in grace where we were; and then we learn it could not have been otherwise.
When I behold the blessed Son of God going down as man into death, then I see that glory is the natural consequence. I do not get this till I believe His bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. This makes it not a mere matter of head knowledge, but one which calls forth the adoration of our hearts.
I believe that God made Him sin, and that He gave Himself for it; and then I find another thing full of awe: He drank the cup of wrath due to me. I find Him going down into the place where there was no patience! God has patience towards us; He is long-suffering towards us; but with Christ made sin there was no long-suffering, no patience.
He was made sin: no hiding or covering up of sin there. Christ brought it right into the very presence of God who was dealing with sin; and His cry upon the cross was, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
In Psa. 22 He speaks of all the external troubles; but then He says, “Be not thou far from me” —the very thing He was! There and then we find Him taking this place, bearing our sins. But now look at the other side: “Now is the Son of man glorified.” It was in man that all the glory of God was made good, not merely the putting away of sin that we should not be judged, but the ground laid, according to the glory of God, for man to be in the glory of God—a totally new thing!
It does not follow in itself that I must be in the glory because I am forgiven. But here I find the blessed Son of God takes this place before God as man, tasting death, offering Himself without spot. The One who knew no sin presents Himself, the spotless Lamb of God, not only to bear my sins, but to put away sin, and thus to glorify God. How wonderful that in man this should be done!
Everything that God is was in question. Yet He does not say, “I have borne the sins of my disciples,” but “I have glorified thee.”
How could God have glory where sin was, where everything was corrupt, and Satan had got the upper hand? Christ puts Himself there, and takes all the sin and all its consequences; thus He glorifies God. And now all the counsels of God can be accomplished, and Christ takes the glory as the fruit of His work. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me.”
We see His perfect life through the testing of God in the meal-offering, and nothing but a sweet savor comes forth. But when we look at the burnt-offering, death is there. Christ comes in and glorifies God in the place of sin and death; and then we see death destroyed, the power of Satan broken, judgment gone, and, as the result of this, Man takes His place with God!
The first man, once innocent, brought in sin, failed in every way, was conquered by Satan, and dishonored God. But before judgment comes, the second Man brings the triumph of Satan to a close. He comes here, and in that very place was made sin, when all that was in God was perfectly glorified in that place of sin and death and judgment. And now all the counsels of God come out, which could not have been before.
God had been dealing with man on the ground of his responsibility. The more we look, the more we see God setting man up in goodness and uprightness, and man always failing. Adam ate the forbidden fruit; Noah, brought out into the new earth, got drunk; Israel worshipped the golden calf; the priests offered strange fire on the first day of their office; Solomon loved strange women; Nebuchadnezzar, when government was committed to him, exalts himself and casts the three young men into the fiery furnace. The first thing which man does with that which God gives him is always to spoil it. It was the same thing with the church also: “all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.” This is what we find man is! But One Man comes and in the very place where all this was true, and ripened out to its full extent of evil, He was made sin who knew no sin. He stands before God in that character: all is dealt with; and a foundation is laid which nothing can shake!
It is a precious thing to have some little sense of what Christ was doing: fathom it of course we never can. Not only are my sins effaced, but Christ had God's glory perfectly at heart; and now this is fully established, it comes out that what God had at heart, before the foundation of the world, was to have man with Himself in glory. His delight was with the sons of men; and what does He do? He puts them in the same place as His own Son: they are sons too, and they have the glory with Him. He has finished the work and gone into the glory; and this gives the Christian's place.
He will come again in glory, and we have complete association with Him, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
“If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” It is the next thing. He will not wait till the kingdom is set up. The disciples saw His glory on the Mount; but they did not see inside the cloud from whence came the Father's voice.
The union of the church with Christ was never revealed until the foundation was laid; and then God says, “I am able to do this in virtue of what Christ has done, and I will have you perfectly with Myself.”
Christ was not merely the sin-offering but a whole burnt-offering, in order that God might be perfectly glorified. The Man who has done this is in the glory; and such is the way I get in!
“I have manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me.” The whole of this chapter speaks of the Father's name. It is not the Almighty, Jehovah, Most High as He will be known in: millennium, “most high God, possessor of heaven and earth;” but it is the Father, putting us in the place of sons.
People very little realize this when they talk of “our Father,” and say, “Thy kingdom come.” What is the Father's kingdom? People do not notice words. It is astonishing how our wretched hearts glide over scripture as if it were ice.
He is Almighty, but this name does not save. He is Jehovah, but this name does not save. But if the Father sent the Son, it is that we might live through Him; and that He might be the propitiation for our sins; that the world through Him might be saved. This is salvation, also eternal life; and the Holy Ghost is given in virtue of the precious blood of Christ, giving us association with Himself, making us sons as Christ is a Son: we are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.”
He says, “I have manifested thy name.” We find He had been doing this throughout this Gospel. “The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him;” but they as yet dull and ignorant, not having the Holy Ghost, could not recognize it; they had not the Spirit of adoption whereby they could recognize it.
See chapter 16:29, 30. He had been telling them that the Father had sent Him; but they do not understand a word of it, and only say, “By this we know that thou camest forth from God.” And we often see the same thing now in those who have not the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father: the name of Father is not known.
I do desire that, while our hearts get peace through seeing Him made sin for us, we might also see what He was for God in the place of sin.
We are not only forgiven and cleansed, but we stand in the whole value of that work of which Christ could say, “Therefore doth my Father love me.” The act itself so infinitely glorified God that He could give it as a motive for the Father's love to Him.
“Holy Father, keep them through thine own name which thou hast given me.” He puts them in the place of sons, and looks to the Father to keep them according to that Name.
The world had no part in that; men must have life to be children, and must be born of God.
He puts us into the present consciousness of the place into which His sacrifice has brought us, that is, His own place in all its blessedness: the veil rent, the heavens opened to us, sealed and anointed by the Father, owned by Him as His Sons. When He was here as Man, at His baptism the heavens were opened, He was sealed and anointed; and the Father owned Him as His Son (which is the first time that the Trinity was fully revealed); and then He goes to be tempted. He takes the blessedness of the place with God, and stood in that place as a man, and then goes into the conflict like us.
Look at Phil. 2:14, 16. Take this sentence, and word by word it is a statement of what Christ was. We are in a wicked generation—exactly what Christ was; sons—what He was; light in the world—He was the Light of the world; holding forth the word of life—He was the Word. Take it word by word; and we are in it all! He puts us into His place before the Father, and gives us His place of testimony before the world.
“That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” How does He bring that about? This Man was upon earth, the Son of man, the Father talking with Him in all the delight He had in him; and He says, “Whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.”
Are our hearts taking this place? Where was His spring of delight and joy and blessing? His Father. And have you anything of the joy of Christ fulfilled in your hearts?
You may tell me your thoughts are weak and poor; and I am sure they are. Our hearts answer miserably to all His love: but this is where He has brought and placed me; this is what is in His heart if I cannot trust my own! But, while we see all the glory before us—going to be in the glory of God, our souls should also look about the foundation it is all built upon; and if you have forgiveness, the Lord give you to see what you are as belonging to the Father's world.
If we see how completely He has glorified God, so that glory for Himself, and for us too with Him, is the natural and necessary result, it must surely humble us, while it brings in adoration. I cannot look at the Lord Jesus going down in grace into such a place, without adoration, forgetting self in the presence of such wondrous grace. And it keeps the heart subdued.
The Lord give us to have Him before our eyes and hearts, that we may be occupied with Him and satisfied with Him, and that in some measure we may walk as He walked through the words which He has given us. J. N. D.

Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 2. The Appeal - Abraham

Acts 7:1-8.
It is notable how mild was the challenge of the high-priest. He like the rest seems for the moment overawed by the radiance that shone in Stephen's face. It could not but have reminded them of Moses at a critical point in Israel's history as well as of his own; and now he was accused of speaking against Moses, the sanctuary, and the law, yea of threatening the temple's destruction.
“And the high-priest said, Are these things so? And he said, Brethren and fathers, hearken. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, Go out of thy land and out of thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. Then going out of the land of the Chaldeans he dwelt in Haran; and thence, after his father died, he removed him into this land in which ye now dwell. And he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot-plant; and he promised to give it him for a possession, and to his seed after him when he had no child. And God spoke thus, that his seed should be a sojourner in a strange land, and they shall enslave them, and entreat [them] evil four hundred years. And the nation to which they shall be slaves will I judge, said God; and after these things they shall come out and serve me in this place. And he gave him a covenant of circumcision; and thus he begat Isaac and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob, the twelve patriarchs” (vers. 1-8).
It might seem astonishing (if we did not know from God what the heart is) that so many men of ability and learning have failed to apprehend the admirable power and nice relevancy of Stephen's answer. But evidently the inspiring Spirit attached to it signal importance, as shown in more space devoted to it than to any other in the book of the Acts. Its force as an appeal to Jewish conscience assembled in council, sealed in Stephen's blood, is another though awful proof of its cogency. Had it consisted of, or only contained the “demonstrable errors” which some have dared to impute, it must have fallen at once through its own impotence under men's contempt. Not so; it was the energy of indisputable truth which pierced through forms to their hard hearts; as it roused their indignation to white heat, when their own sad history of unbelief, disobedience, and opposition to God was proved from holy writ to be as applicable to their present state as it had been to their forefathers in early days.
“The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia.” What unanswerable evidence of sovereign grace! To overlook it springs from a wicked heart of incredulity in turning away from a living God, and hardens the soul in self-sufficiency, so that His voice is distasteful, disliked, and dreaded. Yet had they not often heard and read Joshua's testimony (Josh. 24:2, 3)? “Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, our fathers dwelt of old time beyond the river, Terah father of Abraham and father of Nahor; and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from beyond the river, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.” Assuredly it was not Stephen who slighted Jehovah's call of him who was to be dignified pre-eminently as “the friend of God.” It was many centuries before the law, far away from Canaan, expressly before he dwelt in Haran; it was in Mesopotamia, infamous as the mother of idolatries, and the prison to which idolatrous Judah was sent, judicially captive, for that sin.
Nothing can be conceived finer than the exact discrimination given to this holy man of God in beginning with Abraham. He first was not only chosen by grace, but called out of open departure from the true God, from country and kin devoted to other gods, to be the head of a family, and at length a people, whether in flesh like Israel, or (when Israel lost place for a while by apostasy) by believers spiritually as now separated to God for Himself, His own peculiarly. It was first outward, first what was natural, not spiritual which only came to light when the Jews rejected their own Messiah. The principle was plain in Abraham, though even in his case darkened and delayed by yielding to human feeling. For though he went out of his land, he did not get out of his kin, but dwelt with his father in Haran till Terah died, Then only God removed him into the land in which the Jews gloried as their dwelling.
It was not so with Abraham. He was a pilgrim and stranger in Canaan; and this by divine design: so far was Jewish boast from God's mind which Abraham enjoyed by faith. Faith brought him out of the land of the Chaldeans; but how in Canaan? “By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise as not in his own [land]; for he looked for the city which hath the foundations” (Heb. 11:8-10). The Jews, like unbelievers at all times, are on the ground, not of faith but of tradition and external privilege. But the God of glory gave Abraham no inheritance in it, not even a foot-plant, and He promised to give it him for a possession, and to his seed after him when he had no child. Abraham thus lived on promise and walked by faith, not by sight. This has its highest form and power in Christianity; and its opposite is in Judaism as then, especially in such as hated Stephen.
How strange that any Christian should be so dull as not to perceive that this very exordium is brimful of what exposes the Jewish antagonists of fighting against their own scriptures and the God who sent the Lord Jesus in their hatred of the gospel testimony. We shall see that all the statements which the chapter records follow up the same yet ever growing evidence urged on their hearts, if peradventure they might hear and live. But none are so impervious as those who rest on an ancestral religion with godly men in the line, who suffered in their day for their living faith from those who had not faith, the predecessors of those who resist the truth to-day.
“And God spoke thus, that his seed should he a sojourner in a strange land, and they shall enslave and entreat [them] evil four hundred years. And the nation to which they shall he slaves will I judge, said God. And after these things they shall come out, and serve me in this place.” At no time was there a more conspicuous proof of God's interest in them, than during those centuries, and the time of deliverance studded with miracles and still more glowing prophecies which followed: a time in every way striking both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but entirely apart from establishment in the land of promise. Never was there a more awful display of His displeasure and of blows in His wrath which befell their oppressors. Never was there a more wonderful witness in the past of His adoption of Israel as His own people, redeemed from the world's bondage, and its then mightiest and proudest monarch. When was a people like Israel carried through the desert by His own constant presence and faithful care, spite of as constant refractoriness even to rebellion on their part, kept as they were solely by Him with not a merit or a resource of theirs?
As His mouth had threatened judgments on injurious enslavers, so did His hand perform in due season. And this dealing of Jehovah the God of Israel fills the Law, and the Psalms, and the Prophets, which predict yet greater glories to come when they own not only their idolatrous evil but the still more heinous one of rejecting their own Messiah. Could any line of argument more lay bare the character of Jewish opposition to Stephen, or more powerfully support his testimony? For “this place” where they were to do Jehovah religious service in chap. 7:7 was as different as possible from “this holy place” or “this place” in chap. 6:13, 14. The one had the magnificence of “great stones and costly,” and the splendor of gold and rich array; the other, the awe-inspiring and evident display of divine majesty in the true God proclaiming His law to His people in the wilderness of Sinai. Was the sublimity greater in Jerusalem or the temple from which the glory was departing? “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Men are apt to boast when they have least ground for it, and every title reason for humiliation; and this was Stephen's plea.
Another word is added in ver. 8, the pertinence of which one could not expect to be felt by those who only see the surface of scripture. “And He gave him a covenant of circumcision; and thus he begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob, the twelve patriarchs.” God after the deluge had established His covenant with Noah and with his seed after him; “and with every living soul that [is] with you, of bird, of cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark—every beast of the earth;” henceforth, no flood to destroy the earth. Of this everlasting covenant, God set His bow in the clouds (Gen. 9) as sign. It was God's covenant with nature, and as permanent as nature itself for an earth inaugurated by sacrifice (chap. 8). But the covenant with Abraham, of which circumcision was the sign, had a far deeper significance.
Important as God's institution of government was for man on the earth, the foundation of a stock in Abraham, separated from demon worship to the one true God, the Almighty, to be their God in their generations for an everlasting covenant, was incomparably deeper. But even this was far from the narrowness to which Judaism reduced it; for if the covenant of circumcision was with Abraham, he should be father of a multitude of nations, and kings should come out of him. Hence its sign was not to be in the clouds for every eye to see, but in the flesh, with which it dealt war to the knife, proclaiming death on it as unclean; not merely purity demanded, but death in figure of Christ's death for His own, naturally as unclean and ungodly as others. It was not of Moses but of the fathers, as the Lord told the Jews (John 7:22), proud of the law which none of them really kept, as thus too all came under its curse. But as a shadow, whereof Christ was the substance, it was most instructive, as the confession of flesh cut off unsparingly to be God's people, instead of the vain endeavor to ameliorate it by ordinance, morality, or philosophy.
With Abraham therefore circumcision began and was to be perpetuated in his seed after the flesh, and even with any stranger born in their house, the imperative sign of Jehovah's covenant in his flesh. But the Christian enjoys it in the better way of the spirit, circumcised with circumcision not done by hand, in the putting off of the body of the flesh in the circumcision of the Christ (Col. 2:11). Here we are carefully told that “thus he (Abraham) begot Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day” (the day of resurrection and its glory according to that new estate for the believer according to the counsels of grace). In Gen. 15 he believed God, who reckoned it to him for (or, as) righteousness; he had been called out, and obeyed the call, as separated to Jehovah, both in uncircumcision. But it was after his circumcision, and in the full order of the covenant that he “thus begot Isaac and circumcised him the eighth day.” So it went on henceforth regularly in the line: and Isaac [begot] Jacob; and Jacob the twelve patriarchs? It was a privilege conferred on strangers, on slaves; though so requisite for every male in Israel that he who neglected it was to be cut off from his peoples for his breach of the covenant. Who best maintained its spirit Stephen, or his adversaries? Who can intelligently aver that Stephen beat the air in this brief outline? Great men are not always wise, indeed never so, when they judge scripture.

2 Peter 1:12

A great principle of God appears in the words that follow, to which we do well to take heed. For the proof is abundant and plain, and a serious warning at this very time, and at all times, of the peril to God's glory, so far as His saints are concerned, from neglecting it.
“Wherefore I shall be ready always to put you in mind of those things, though knowing [these] and established in the present truth” (ver. 12).
Can anything give clearer evidence of the all importance of the written word, not only to communicate the truth on divine authority, but to keep it intact in the living remembrance of the saints, than the earnestness with which this inspired bondsman and apostle of our Lord impresses its need in his last message?
We learn, from Gal. 1:6-10, how prone those mercurial Gentile brethren were, under evil influence, to forget even the fundamental principle of the gospel they had heard from the greatest preacher that ever lived. “I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel, which is not another [one]; only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But if even we, or an angel from heaven, proclaim a gospel to you besides [or, other than] that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we said before, now also I say again, If anyone preach a gospel besides that which ye received, let him be accursed. For am I now persuading men or God? or am I seeking to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be Christ's bondman.” We learn also from 1 Corinthians, that the vain Greek mind in the capital of Achaia, where the same apostle had preached and won much people to the Lord, was soon slipping away, when his back was turned, from the ways and will of God, even to the compromise of the resurrection, though not of the immortality of the soul, which philosophy favored and the first man might and did misuse to exalt himself. Hence that first Epistle, early as the date was, reproved their carnal schools with leaders, their low moral sense, their worldliness in going to law, their tampering with idol feasts as if nothing, and the laxity as to natural relationships. Even the gospel demanded re-statement in chap. 15, as their disorders at the Lord's supper, and in the assembly, called for rebuke and rectification in chaps. 11 and 14. Nor need there be more than a reference to the “doubtful disputations” which endangered the peace of the saints in Rome; nor to the preaching for envy and strife of some at Philippi, nor to others who caused weeping to the apostle while he named it, enemies as they were of the cross of Christ, whose end was destruction, whose God was their belly, and their glory was their shame, who minded earthly things. Nor does the Epistle to the Colossians here call for notice, though it might well be a lengthened and appropriate one in view of the havoc which threatened those saints from the inroads of Gentile philosophy and of Jewish elements on the glory of the Head and the unity of the body with Him. We know too that the Epistles to the Thessalonians were written among other things especially to disabuse those young Christians of error: the first, as to the departed saints at Christ's coming; the second, as to His day for the living saints. Then the letters to the trusty fellow-laborers, Timothy and Titus, explicitly deal with falling away from the faith, profane babblings, with vain talkers and deceivers, specially those of circumcision; and in every case supplying the adequate remedy in God's grace and truth, as we ought to learn.
Eminently instructive is the opposite snare exposed in the grand Epistle to the Hebrews. Therein the apostle sets out the glory of Christ in person, office, and work, to deliver the circumcised believers from their traditional attachment to Judaism with its priesthood, ordinances, and sanctuary, from which they had not got clear after so many years of knowing Christ. But the Spirit of God would no longer tolerate this dullness, natural to babes, but inconsistent with the solid food of full-grown men, who have their senses exercised for distinguishing both good and evil. There is therefore exhortation from God to take their true Christian place of entering with boldness into the holies by the blood of Jesus, and of going forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. This was expressly before the destruction of the city and the temple; that the saints might shake off their old swaddling clothes, thoroughly and only Christ's by faith, before the coming acts of God's providence.
The later Epistles are just the fullest on the impending ruin of the professing church, the latest of all (Jude's and John's) pointing out apostasy at the end with the Lord's unsparing judgment. For “the last hour,” however it might be prolonged in divine patience, was characterized even then by “many antichrists,” the sure token of “the Antichrist” to be destroyed in the day of the Lord.
Even this short survey of inspired correction is the most convincing proof how dependent the Christian saints were on fresh scripture to guard our souls from forgetfulness of the truth and the aberrations from all round its circle provoked and promoted by the spirit of falsehood. But, besides this, food was provided in due season. To the Roman saints the apostle only refers to revelation of a mystery or secret as to which silence had been kept in everlasting times, but now manifested, and by prophetic scriptures according to the eternal God's command made known for obedience of faith unto all the nations. But it was not here revealed. Nor was it to the Corinthians in its heavenly side but only in its earthly working; still less to the Galatians or the Thessalonians. Not till he was a prisoner in Rome did he unfold it fully to the Ephesians and the Colossian saints, and thence to the church gradually far and wide. The word is the truth, and its written form under the inspiring power of God adds to it His abiding permanence as alike the supply and the standard for His children.
Nor can it be doubted that to-day beholds the most fearful and widespread and deadly onslaught on scripture ever since the apostles departed. At all times had men had yielded; and with more or less daring circulated their doubts and disbelief. But now so shameless is unbelief that the seats of human learning are its citadels; and theologians vie with scientists and literary men in thinly if at all disguised denial of God's word from Genesis to the Apocalypse. Divine revelation is therefore a burning question to-day; and the more because it taints largely and deeply every sect in Christendom.
And how fares it with such as abjure a sectarian place? Has it not been affirmed among such, orally and in print, that the church needed not scripture, at least if walking decently and in order? Again, “it is no good sending out Bibles if there are not preachers”? Again, “the word of God is in the scriptures”? Not that scripture is the written word but Christ is the word of God? That “the scriptures are more the record of it, than the thing itself”? We are all familiar with such language among adversaries of the truth; but how solemn that such phrases of incredulity should pass as from God's Spirit among the more ignorant of those once most staunch for the Bible! And how still more solemn that such impiety has not been judged on the guilty and repudiated with horror and humiliation by the more intelligent! Are there not some true-hearted enough for God and His word to be above the dread of consequences?
There is another phase of unbelief which prevails among such brethren as claim to be the faithful in disowning and separating from that depraved confraternity. Their danger made itself manifest from the time when both these parties, now opposed, staked all on what they called assembly-judgments. It was a phrase unknown in days when faith and patience reigned, and scripture was demanded and given for every legitimate judgment. No right-minded saint conceived of a godly action save in obedience of the word. What honor the Lord habitually put upon it! But just when party-spirit was beginning to blow up ecclesiastical fire to a white heat, and scripture was found unavailable to justify an extreme and revolutionary action desired, the strange proceedings brought in strange phrases.
Scripture was denied to be necessary, when it could not be produced. Very distressing became the course of these brethren who claimed all the faithful qualities and denied them to those who blamed their doings as without and beyond scripture. It was laid down that all were bound by an assembly-judgment, however partial or hasty, nay, even if known to be wrong! And this, not only prima facie but excluding in future any revisal, when it was distinctly urged that the right should alone be done by such as were assured of error.
No, there could be, there ought to be, no rectification, no owning of a wrong! An assembly-judgment, once made, must be accepted as irrevocable, even if known afterward and certainly to be unrighteous and erroneous! This did not matter; it was bound on earth and in heaven! Therefore the prime duty henceforth of the intelligent saint was to accept this as due to the Lord's word and name! The natural home for such fanaticism seems to be Babylon.
No doubt in regular cases of discipline, conducted according to scripture, the assembly is entitled to pronounce in the Lord's name, and individuals are bound to hear. Even then elder men acquainted with facts well knew that, in ordinary times, errors if unredressed might be fatal, and that unsound decisions were abandoned to the Lord's honor and the assembly's shame, yet so done heartily for His name's sake. How much more was it called for, when souls were perplexed, agitated, and prejudiced on all sides; when the unprecedented step was taken, as in the world's way to change the venue, and this not as even there to secure impartiality, but to judge a question where strong bias for and against was known to exist! Hence some were satisfied that there was no scriptural authority for such a case, declined even going to hear, and only staid in fellowship till there was no remedy, and a case occurred which compelled them to act according to conscience guided by the word.
These samples of the need, not exemplified among the distant denominations, but among saints who were once simple, gracious, and faithful, may help, as really existing facts, to show how invaluable was the help of which our apostle here speaks to the saints. He should be ready always to put them in remembrance of these things, just before urgently pressed on their heed, though they knew them, and were established in the truth present with them. How considerately he appeals, and gives them credit for the utmost possible! He was truly a bondman as well as apostle of Jesus Christ, and ruled not over their faith, but as with Paul a fellow-worker, not only of their joy, but of their stability and safety.

Christ the Source of Immortality: Review

As two copies of this pamphlet have been sent to me this week, it seems called for to let Christians know how false and evil, dangerous and degrading it is. How shocking to teach that man, like the brute which perishes, has no more than animal life, unless he believe in Christ for immortality! This is to fall below very many of the heathen, who did and do believe in the soul's existence after death. In general men dreaded death as leading to judgment, save Brahminists, Buddhists, etc., who essayed philosophic schemes to soften or destroy their fears. But here are men bearing the name of Christians who are not ashamed to appeal to scripture for pretended proof that the crowds of unbelieving men, however endowed with intellect and thus superior to brutes, are only animals, and need not be alarmed at everlasting judgment.
No doubt they can quote as allies men like the late Sabellian Abp. Whately, the Congregationalist Dr. Dale, the Wesleyan Professor Beet, and, as at least they claim, Mr. W. E. Gladstone. But they are either ignorant or unscrupulous (as here, p. 45) to include Mr. J. N. Darby among a class whom he pitied and abhorred. Mr. D. did teach in “L'Attente Actuelle de l' Eglise” &c. (Hopes of the Church, etc.), when asserting the truth of the resurrection, that the idea of the soul's immortality has no source in the gospel, but from the Platonists who thereby replaced, as they quite ignored, the risen body. But he never doubted the immortality of the soul, as a truth conveyed even from the beginning of the O. T., and confirmed throughout all the scriptures to the end. Yet the truth is that it had no source in the gospel, and was misused by the Platonist; as I pointed out many years ago to Mr. E. White, when guilty of the same inexcusable misunderstanding. The Jews, save the materialist Sadducees, had from the O.T. no doubt of the soul's immortality; which proves that it is a truth independent of the gospel.
“God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion” (Gen. 1:26). How solemn the language! how strikingly different from that which ushers in other creatures for the earth, waters, or air! In chap. 2 where relations are stated (as Jehovah is added to Elohim), the distinction is carefully carried on morally. Into man's nostrils exclusively did Jehovah Elohim, after forming the man of dust of the ground, breathe breath of life. All the lower creatures become living souls without any such specific act: only thus did man become a living soul (ver. 7).
Here is the ground of man's immortal soul; and the body alone is called “mortal,” never the soul. Hence is man responsible to God, as no lion, or whale, or eagle; which animals cannot therefore be said to sin like man, any more than to repent; nor do they need life eternal or atonement, nor rise to give account to God for the things done through the body. Think of an error among professing Christians, not only so baseless but so debasing as to put “God's offspring” as the apostle recognized even the idolatrous Athenians to be, on the same level as a dog or a pig! The unsophisticated soul, certainly one born of God, feels (awful as it is to confess it) that his sins deserve everlasting punishment. Nor does scripture weaken but give certainty and power to that overwhelming conviction. And the Savior in particular says, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you, whom ye shall fear; Fear him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into Gehenna; yea I say to you, Fear him.” Think of the reckless unbelief that rejects the Lord's warning under cover, or through the doctrine, of conditional immortality!
See how the Lord in Luke 16:19-31 refutes this unholy falsehood. It is expressly to lift the veil off the state which follows death—not here resurrection but death. The pious beggar passes from his sad lot on earth through death, carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man that lived to self, not to God, died, was buried, but in Hades lifted up his eyes, being in torments. How dare a believer give the Lord the lie, how at least ignore or pervert the plain truth? The soul of every sinner, the worst, is as immortal as the saint's; but one is for judgment, as the other for life, not Adam's but Christ's, for God's everlasting glory, as we are told. The torments of Hades are not the lake of fire, as Abraham's bliss is not reigning with Christ. But wretchedness and suffering immeasurable begin for the lost soul before judgment seals it for the body as well as the soul; and happiness far more for him who departs to be with Christ. The heterodox notion of conditional immortality, which, the learned but eccentric Henry Dodwell (1708) favored, is a mere, wicked, and pernicious imposture.

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The Chief Baker's Dream and the Issue

The fellow-chamberlain ventures to rehearse his dream after the chief cup-bearer. How little did he anticipate its dread import!
“And when the chief of the bakers saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, I also [was] in my dream, and, behold, three baskets of white bread [were] on my head. And in the uppermost basket [there was] all manner of victuals for Pharaoh that the bakers make, and the birds ate them out of the basket upon my head. And Joseph answered and said, This [is] the interpretation of it: the three baskets [are] three days. In yet three days will Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and hang thee upon a tree; and the birds will eat thy flesh from off thee.”
“And it came to pass the third day, Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast to all his bondmen. And he lifted up the head of the chief of the cup-bearers, and the head of the chief of the bakers among his bondmen. And he restored the chief of the cup-bearers to his office of cup-bearer again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. And he hanged the chief of the bakers, as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief of the cup-bearers did not remember Joseph but forgot him” (vers. 16-23).
It is clear how far the chief baker was from seeing anything to discourage his telling his dream to Joseph. But God gave Joseph the discerning ear which perceived the immense difference of the cup-bearer's action that Pharaoh should drink, from that of the birds (not the king) eating out of the basket upon his head. In no way is the credit given to his natural intelligence. The secret of Jehovah is with those that fear Him. Joseph was one whose faith was habitually in exercise: who knew that God remains the same in the midst of heavy trials, which had changed only from each great sorrow into a greater. In his lowest abasement he looked up for wisdom to its only source, and was called by His power to solve the enigma for good or for ill in the cases which came before him. For if he confided in Jehovah, his love too went out in compassion to fellow-sufferers whose countenances without a word betrayed the anxiety which their dreams cost them. Was it not faith working by love?
That both should have dreamed characteristic dreams in one night he did not impute to what men call chance. If they were sad because there was no interpreter to explain what they instinctively felt to be of the nearest interest to themselves, Joseph as simply reckoned that interpretations belong to God, the giver of every good gift, and of every perfect giving. So He is the answerer of faith's cry to Him, though unheard by any other ear.
Yet Joseph could not but know the serious and speedy fate that hung over the chief baker. We may notice therefore that he made no appeal to him for remembrance. To the chief cup-bearer only did he say, “Think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, to me and make mention of me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.” There was nothing random in his words; nor was there any selfish desire for such royal favors as men expect. He sought simply to be delivered from the strange parody of justice inflicted on the righteous one through disappointed lust and falsehood.
In both cases the time was short, as indicated by the dream and interpreted by Joseph. On the third day the two chamberlains had each his head lifted up by the king, on his birthday; but the chief cup-bearer rose to his office near Pharaoh's person, the chief baker to the gallows. It became the cup-bearer to remember the striking service rendered by the prophet in the dungeon. But as far too commonly occurs in this world of sin and self, the spiritual benefactor was quite forgotten. For we are expressly told, that two full years passed away to try the faith of Joseph, when God wrought in His providence to make the same difficulty felt in the royal court as in the tower-house, and thus to rebuke the ingratitude of the cup-bearer, oblivious of him who had been stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews, and who also had done nothing why they should put him into the dungeon. “They hurt with the fetters his feet; into iron went his soul, until the time his word came [to pass]. Jehovah's saying tried him.” Yet he that sowed in tears would in due time reap with rejoicing. Joseph was but matured for the vast and difficult task to be assigned him without the least ambition on his part. How this was brought about the chapter that follows explains with all simplicity.
It may be noticed that Joseph is ever the interpreter, if not also the mouthpiece, of God's mind, and this in the future far off or near, beyond all creature prognostication. He was now at his lowest point of humiliation, as a dead man out of mind among the Gentiles, as before doomed to death by his own brothers, here the herald of restoration on the one hand, and of extreme judgment on the other. Little his brothers knew that they in their envious hatred were only the means of bringing to pass his exaltation for their own homage and preservation.; little could the Gentiles anticipate that the punishment so unjustly inflicted on him the guiltless was the necessary link in God's wonderful chain to have the administration of the world-kingdom committed to his hand Yet from the prison which he endured for years, as an evil-doer of the worst imputation, he was about to pass at one step to the highest dignity and the largest power. “Only in the throne,” as the king said, “will I be greater than thou.” “Without thee shall no man lift up his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.”

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 9. Poor Brother Sold

There is a condition still more lamentable than the decay of poverty. The Israelite might be so reduced as to sell himself to bondage; and this condition comes under divine regulation to the end of the chapter. Here we may notice its first part.
“And if thy brother grow poor beside thee, and be sold to thee, thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond-servant: as a hired servant, as a sojourner, he shall be with thee; until the year of jubilee he shall serve with thee. And he shall go out from thee, he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his father he shall return. For they [are] my servants, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as they sell bondmen. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigor, and thou shalt fear thy God. And thy bondmen and thy bondmaids whom thou shalt have—of the nations that are round about you—of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of those that dwell as sojourners with you, of them shall ye buy and of their families that [are] with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall be your possession. And ye shall make them as an inheritance to your children after you, to inherit as a possession: these ye shall make your bondmen forever; but your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor” (vers. 39-46).
Whatever the disorder created by sin and its resulting miseries, Jehovah provided merciful checks, especially for the people of His choice till the day of restitution, of which the jubilee was the recurring foreshadow. The Israelite might through sheer distress be sold to one of his brethren, but never in perpetuity. Ordinarily it was but for the term of six years of servitude, and on the seventh he went out free for nothing, as we know from the deeply interesting “judgment” with its details in Ex. 21; 2-6. But, if as here with no such limit, the year of jubilee reinstated him. Meanwhile Jehovah imposed the duty on his Israelitish master that he should not be treated as a bondservant, but as a hired servant, as a sojourner and not a slave. Then should he go out from his employer, and his children with him unconditionally. The sale of bondmen did not apply. On the contrary he lifted up his head as free, and all his, returning to his own family and to the possession of his fathers.
With such considerate care did Jehovah provide for His people, whatever their improvidence. How affecting and securing the ground on which He laid it down! “For they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt.” There superstition took care of the priests who kept them in unceasing bondage to false gods who were but demons without truth or pity. The Eternal, who rescued Israel out of that house of bondage and iron furnace, did not hinder as yet such an Israelite as broke down in his responsibility from tasting the bitter effect of his or others' wrongs. But He restricted the chastening to measured times, and gave the sure hope of merciful return: the pledge of a glorious one forever, when the Divine Deliverer shall rescue them from sins and sufferings no less than enemies, and Himself be the ground of a holy freedom and an unfailing inheritance, as due to One who is David's Son and David's Lord. What a joyful sound will be the trumpet voice of the true and full jubilee, which needs not but precludes repetition!
When it was only a nation favored of Jehovah, the law did not interfere with an Israelite buying slaves, as we see in vers. 44-46. They were free to have such slaves of the nations round about them, or even of the sojourners with them. Neither could claim the relation of their own brotherhood holy to Jehovah: of both they might buy, and make them their possession, and leave them as an inheritance to their own children after them, their bondmen forever. And even in the day, when the creation shall be delivered from its present groans and thralldom, when the church shall share Christ's glory above and over all things, when Israel shall own the crucified but all the more exalted Messiah, the Son of man and Heir of all things, kings here below shall be nursing fathers of the Jew never more to be despised or persecuted, and queens their nursing mothers. Strangers shall build up Zion's walls, and their kings shall minister in that day.
Aliens shall be their plowmen and their vine-dressers. For that nation and kingdom that will not serve Zion shall perish. “But ye shall be named priests of Jehovah: men shall call you the ministers of our God. Ye shall eat the wealth of the nations, and to their glory shall ye succeed.” Need one refer to more decisive proofs of the change that awaits Israel under Messiah and the new covenant? And the time hastens: the zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.
It is infatuation for Gentile theology to take any of this away from the hopes of Israel. True Christian faith maintains it all for the Jew when his heart shall turn to the Lord whom they despised to their own sin, shame, and loss. But God's gifts and calling stand without a change on His part, who awaits and will bring out their salvation in sovereign grace. Our calling is above: we can well afford to set our mind on heavenly things. Their portion will be all blessing and glory on the earth, and in their own land, then the joy and boast and crown of all lands. The word of our God, Israel's God, shall stand forever. God has provided some better thing concerning us [who believe while the Jews are impenitent] that apart from us even those who of old believed but received not the promises should not be made perfect. We shall all enjoy our proper portion practically at the same time to God's glory in Christ.

Proverbs 22:15-21

THESE brief moral axioms here close with the following pair, the thoughtless child, and the calculating adult, which we do well to lay to heart.
“Folly [is] bound in the heart of a child: the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his [wealth], he that giveth to the rich, surely [cometh] only to want.
Incline thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thy heart unto my knowledge.
For [it is] a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee: they shall be together fitted to thy lips.
That thy trust may be in Jehovah, I have made [them] known to thee this day, even to thee.
Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest report words of truth to them that send thee?” (vers. 15-21).
It is a sure and solemn thing that folly is no calamity from without, but bound in the heart, and this not only when in the conflicts of busy life, but from our early days, departed as all now are from God by nature. “Folly is bound in the heart of a child”: exemption there is none from the most tender age. Nor does the utmost love or care adequately restrain folly. There is the rod of correction to drive it far away by Jehovah's prescription and with His blessing. It is the folly of a father or mother to think their way better than God's.
With the grown up another snare is too common: to oppress the poor in any form of increasing one's means; very especially to commend oneself to the rich by gifts they do not need. God's eye is on this folly too; and such “come to want” as such selfishness deserves.
To give heed to the words of the wise is itself a wise thing, to apply the heart as well as the ear to such as know better than ourselves. How sad the self-sufficiency that doubts it!
These words if kept within give satisfaction and pleasure; whereas all else palls and becomes distasteful, if not a shame. Nor is this all. They contribute to our own growth and the help of others by the help they render and the confidence they inspire. Thus do they become “together fitted to thy lips.”
But there is a better effect still, “that thy trust may be in Jehovah.” Therefore are such words made known; for who otherwise is sufficient for them? and what good is there that we have not received? Surely we do well to mark precisely the debt of each of us, “this day, even to thee.”
Further, let us not overlook the enhanced value of excellent things in counsels and knowledge by their being “written” to us. However good oral instruction, there is no small danger of mistake in the hearer, and still more of letting slip even what we understood. But we can read again and again what is written, and make it our own more fully. Hence the signal profit of scripture, as the permanent word of God to our souls, as nothing else can be.
A similar advantage, here noted next, scripture possesses, is “that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth.” Pure science has nothing moral in it, still less an affection, and least of all makes known God to the soul, and in His true relationship to me. This is just what His word does communicate in all certainty, for His word is truth of that spiritual kind. Unbelief makes the truth of God the most uncertain of all things, like heathenism with its gods many and lords many, but the one true and living God unknown.
How good too is the fruit resulting to others! “That thou mightest report words of truth, to them that send thee” as a trusty representative, or that “send to thee” for advice in difficulty. Does not God give songs in the night, Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?

Gospel Words: the Treasure and the Heart

The moral principle here laid down by our Lord calls for our deep and constant heed; and the more, because the flesh ever deceives, and struggles against it, to indulge itself under fair disguise and for reasons seemingly strong and excellent. But we walk by faith, not by sight, and only so rightly.
“For where thy treasure is, there thy heart will also be.”
Where faith is not, a present object engages the heart, and becomes the treasure. It is self in one shape or another, whereby Satan is the master, and not God: what then must be the end for eternity? The most prevalent is what our Lord calls “filthy lucre”; for money is the readiest means of gain for gratifying carnal lusts. It may be the heart abandoned to the pleasures of sin for a season. Power again is the ambition of some, as fame is of others. Also it may take a religious direction as readily and more dangerously than a literary one, or for worldly honor. In such ways men perish, even where no grossness appears, but the nicest refinement.
Christ alone delivers and preserves from all such snares. He is given and sent by God to win the heart by His ineffable grace, adapting itself to our guilt and misery and worthlessness through sin, to save the vilest from his evil, to reconcile unto God, to be life as well as righteousness to him who had neither, to associate with heaven, and thus separate from the world not only in all that is evidently bad but in all that claims to be good or its best, that we should no longer live to ourselves, but to Him who for our sakes died and rose again. And as this is for the Father's glory, so is it by the Spirit's power who is here, sent forth now from heaven on and since Pentecost, to glorify Him who never sought His own will but at all cost that of God.
Christ is therefore the true treasure, and in and by Him the riches of God's grace, yea and far beyond all question of need, to the praise of the glory of His grace which will make us like Himself before Him, not only in nature but in relationship as far as this can be. But we have this treasure meanwhile in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves. “Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Hence our Lord urges our not laying up for ourselves treasures upon the earth where moth and rust spoil, and where thieves dig through and steal; but to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust spoils, and where thieves do not dig through nor steal. “For where thy treasure is, there thy heart also will be”! The heart follows necessarily the object of its affection; and Christ, the treasure of the Christian, was not of the earth but comes from above, from heaven, and above all. “What He hath seen and heard, this He testifieth; and none receiveth His testimony. He that received His testimony set to his seal that God is true. For He whom God sent speaketh the words of God; for He giveth not the Spirit by measure. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things [to be] in His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath life eternal, but he that obeyeth not (or, is not subject to) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:32-36).
It is not only then what the treasure is, but where that the Lord presses on our heed. And this truth of the treasure in heaven derives great accession and force from our Lord's ascending where He was before (John 6:62), no longer Son of God only as He came down, but Son of man as He is now also in heavenly glory. For this is the proper and full way in which the Christian knows Him. Wherefore we henceforth know no one according to flesh; but if even we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we know [Him] no longer. So if any one [be] in Christ, [it is] a new creation.
To Christ glorified is the Christian united by the Spirit, now that he rests on redemption accomplished. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Only then and there could it be. Hence having died with Christ and being raised together with Him, we are exhorted to seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God, to set our mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For we died, and our life is hid with Christ in God. And we wait that, when Christ our life shall be manifested, we too shall then be manifested with Him in glory.
We may notice that in Luke 12 the connection of this truth expressed more broadly (“For where your treasure is, there your heart also will be”), is not only with the warning of the precariousness of all save a treasure in the heavens, but with the Lord's coming as a proximate hope. “Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; and ye like men waiting for their own lord whenever he may leave the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh they may open to him immediately.” It would be scarce possible to conceive words more clearly indicating the call to be constantly looking out for Him.
Altogether the aim is unmistakable if we are walking in the Spirit. We are now “heavenly” in title (1 Cor. 15:48, 49), and we expect on the surest authority to realize it even for our bodies at His coming. Let us see to it meanwhile to live, serve, walk, and worship, consistently with our faith and our hope. Nothing short of this is the Christianity of the N.T. when the many things were known which the disciples could not bear till they had redemption through His blood and the gift of the Spirit. When the Spirit was come from Him on high, He did not fail to guide them into all the truth.
Reader, beware of being deceived. If you are not a disciple of Christ, if not born of the Spirit, the Lord's exhortations are inapplicable to you: you are not yet one of His. Own your evil and guilty state before God. Own Him the only efficacious Savior, the Son of man come to seek and to save the lost. Then indeed such words as His to the disciples will be precious and blessed by grace to your soul. But you must be born anew, born of God, to receive and understand them. Beware of those who deify ordinances to Christ's disparagement, and their own vain pride of a baseless office.

Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 3. Joseph and His Patriarchal Brethren

Joseph and His Patriarchal Brethren. Acts 7:9-16.
At this point the defense carries us on to the first of two signal types of our Lord, which yield overwhelming evidence to every true heart and exercised conscience.
“And the patriarchs, envying Joseph, sold him into Egypt. And God was with him, and delivered him out of all his tribulations, and gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he appointed him chief over Egypt and all his house. But a famine came upon all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great distress; and our fathers found no food. But Jacob, having heard of there being corn in Egypt, sent out our fathers first; and at the second [time] Joseph was made known to his brethren, and the family of Joseph became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and called down to him his father Jacob, and all [his] kindred, seventy-five souls. And Jacob went down into Egypt and died, he and our fathers, and were carried over to Sychem (Shechem), and laid in the sepulcher which Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Enamor of (or rather, in) Sychem” (vers. 9-16).
Here it is no question of unclean Canaanites or oppressive Egyptians, nor is it the failure of a saint through amiable feeling, or the pinch of want. The heads of the tribes of Israel betray their evil state from the first. Nor was there any just ground of provocation, but insubjection to the father, hatred of their godly brother, and rebellion against the mind of God. They envied Joseph and, even when they gave up their deadly purpose, sold him away into Egypt. Pride of position hates the faith that rebukes it, the spirit of grace in deed and truth, and proceeds to enmity beyond measure, more cruelly than the world.
Not a word does Stephen say of the Lord Jesus, yet who could fail to see the parallel between the Just One, and the guiltless object of patriarchal jealousy? Could any one doubt that his was no ingenious device to serve a desired turn, but the unquestionable lesson of their own scriptures? Had not the first book of the law God's moral aim and spiritual purpose in laying bare the base conduct of the fathers, and the sufferings of Joseph? Even their scribes did not limit scripture to a passing person or circumstance; the Pharisees confessed its divine authority; the chief priests, the elders, and the doctors of the law owned that under the surface it is full of reference to the Messiah, the hope of Israel. To confine it to its more immediate bearing literally was to deny its prophetic character, and betray oneself a skeptic or Sadducee.
So plain and direct were the facts in Genesis that it was enough to state them with all brevity. Yet when they are duly weighed, their more profound application becomes apparent; and God's design thereby is as important for souls, as it is worthy of Himself. Israel's wickedness through unbelief is as manifestly foreshewn, as Messiah's humiliation and rejection by His brethren. Such was Stephen's thesis, which he could not but speak out if he cared for the Lord and for their souls. Disdain it they might, but it was just the truth they needed then as they do still. But if the Jews be prominent as they are, Gentiles share the same sin. It is at bottom the common guilt and ruin of all mankind, as the cross proclaims.
Equally certain is it, that as God was with the abhorred Joseph, so was He in all fullness with Jesus, the object of divine delight as He was the depositary of wisdom to His glory; and when delivered out of all His tribulations, deeper than ever befell any, God highly exalted Him and set Him at His own right hand. But if it was not the Israelitish kingdom, of which Zion is the center, this only confirms the propriety of the type. It was the administration of a kingdom wholly different from the day when He shall be the one king of all the earth as well as of the chosen people, coming in manifested glory on the clouds of heaven. That day is in no way arrived, as it surely will. But the despised and rejected One is exalted on His Father's throne, not yet on His own; and He has all authority over a kingdom as extensive as the world in a form quite special which He received when cast out and separate from His brethren. Of this Joseph's exaltation by the king of Egypt is the striking shadow, made chief over Egypt and all his house.
But as Joseph predicted in his sphere, so did the Lord in His far higher and greater deal with all the world. Yet famine and great distress of every kind His grace can use for even that mercy and blessing. But in order to be blessed the sinner must feel his evil state, and Himself work too, that He may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from him, deliver his soul from going to the pit, and give him to see the light. Food for the inner man is only from Him, as the sons of Jacob found none in Canaan; and their father, hearing of it in Egypt for the fulfillment of divine purpose, sent them there, where Joseph had provided for a famished world, and his heart yearned to supply his father and his brethren, little as they knew, who sold him away there. They thought evil against him; but God meant it for good, and to preserve them a posterity in the earth and save their lives. How much more was this verified in the greater than Joseph!
Nevertheless the blindness was to pass from the guilty brothers. No thanks to them, but to his grace who on the second time was made known to them. So it will be for the Jew when the Lord fulfills, yet exceeds, the type as He ever does. The repentance will be as deep as their faith will be living. “And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only one, and shall be in bitterness for him as one that is in bitterness for a firstborn.” How touchingly even the type exhibits this inward word in Judah's plea with Jacob that Benjamin should go as was required, and with Joseph for Jacob when he owns that God had found their iniquity, offering to abide as bondman in lieu of Benjamin! How yet more when Joseph weeping aloud made himself known to his brethren! Yes, it was to save their lives, and many more, with a great deliverance.
Nor was this all. “In the best of the land,” said the great king, “make thy father and brethren to dwell”... “And Joseph placed his father and his brethren in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.” For this type looks at a far wider circle of blessing than Canaan; just as the rejected Son of man is destined to have dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve him. Compare too Isa. 49—It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. But this in no way hinders the special honor and nearness of Israel; for the Gentiles shall bring Zion's sons in their bosom, and carry his daughters on their shoulders; and kings shall be thy nourishers, and their princes thy nursing mothers. They shall bow down to thee with face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet. This future earthly glory however is not at all noticed by Stephen, who speaks here to conscience in view of Jewish unbelief and sin against the Lord, as this only was then seasonable.
As no small objection has been taken to verses 14-16, suffice it to say that Stephen cites the number (75) of Jacob's kin, not as the Hebrew gives it (70), but as in the Greek version, the Septuagint, which adds these to the two sons of Joseph in their descendants, &c. It is only a further addition; as in the Hebrew itself we find 66 as well as 70 according to a differing point of view. The difficulty in the last clause of ver. 16 is more considerable, and lies mainly in the name of Abraham where Jacob might have been expected with burial of his sons in Sychem. That Stephen was ignorant of the Hebrew enumeration (66, and 70), or confounded the sepulcher in Hebron with that of Shechem, is too absurd, save for a rationalist. How impute it to one so perfectly at home with the inspired history, not only in its obvious facts, but in their spiritual and prophetic import, to which the natural mind in the learned is as blind as it is in the unlearned? It was not without motive that he should draw attention by the way to the burial of the heads of the tribes, not with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but in the seat of their Samaritan rivals. To account for the insertion of Abraham here, and for the peculiar description of the purchase from the sons of Hamor in or of Sychem, is another thing.

2 Peter 1:13-14

It was not enough then that the saints should know the things which the gospel communicates to them, nor even that they should be established in them. Those grand facts of divine grace with the moral responsibility they involve are “the present truth": Jesus the Messiah actually come, rejected by the chosen nation, as the prophets did not omit to announce and the basis of all, yet easily let slip, because of the glowing visions of His kingdom not yet accomplished but apt to eclipse what was deepest and essential. Hence the earnestness of the apostle to impress on his brethren the truth which was then before them, so distinct from the past and from the age to come.
It is, as he had said, the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (ver. 2); the knowledge in particular of our Lord Jesus Christ (ver. 8), without which none can know God as He now needs to be known. In vain people cried up that which was so precious in foregoing time. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and none greater than John the Baptist had arisen among those born of women. But from his days the kingdom of the heavens suffered violence, and men of violence seize on it. It is now a question of faith breaking through every difficulty and obstacle in the power of the Spirit to receive the Son of God come, which necessarily tests every soul of man. For this is life eternal, that they should know the Father revealed by the Son whom He had sent to this end. What was any knowledge compared with that? In vain they talked of “father Jacob,” or of all the fathers from Abraham, who exulted that he should see Christ's day, as he by faith saw and rejoiced. For One was come, who, though man also, could say, Before Abraham was, I AM. This changed all for faith, and made inexcusable the unbelief that only stuck to the past.
To slight “the present truth” was to lose God and His Son. For it alone puts the believer into living relationship with God, and makes available His divine power which has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness; for this is inseparable from the knowledge of Him that called us by His own glory and excellence. It is in fact what we mean by Christianity, as the life no less than the faith we confess; and therefore it involves growth practically as we have seen in all that becomes the Christian, of which God is the judge, who deigns to instruct us with all precision, as having become partakers of a divine nature, and thus escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in likeness of flesh of sin and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous import (or, requirement) of the law might be fulfilled in us that walk not according to flesh but according to Spirit. For He slights mere forms now and will have reality in those that are His. The greater the present privileges, the more are saints to be diligent to make their calling and election sure, avoid stumbling, and have richly furnished to them the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For as another apostle dear to Peter says, “he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
But practically believers are exposed to such injurious influences, distractive of spirit and attractive to flesh, that they are like watches in need of habitual winding up. It is not enough to know and to be established in the present truth. Therefore the readiness of the apostle always to put them in mind of these things (ver. 12). Here again he reiterates it as their urgent need while he lived, and in view of his speedy departure.
“And I deem [it] right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting [you] in mind, knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle is speedy, according as our Lord Jesus Christ manifested to me” (vers. 13, 14).
Whoever believes, as every Christian is bound to believe, that the great enemy sets himself most against all that God has actually in hand, can readily understand the importance of this care for the saints. It was always so. Cain and Abel were severally put to the proof by the then urgent truth of sacrifice, which faith prized and unbelief disdained. Enoch and Noah both recognized the old truth, but were tested by, and faithful to, what God revealed to each in their day. Abraham held all that went before, but believed in the promises and confided in the divine revelation of “God Almighty” to himself, a pilgrim among races to be destroyed for their iniquity. Israel again had God bringing them out of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the land of Canaan, under condition of the law which they undertook to obey in their self-confidence. The Christian begins with redemption by His blood who gives us life eternal, walking in the light of the true God revealed in love and calling us to His eternal glory. In every case power of faith shows itself in specially appropriating “the present truth,” whilst valuing all that had been made known previously, because it was all God's doing and communicating.
But, if this be true as a principle, the infinite nature of God's revelation of Himself in Christ makes the actual deposit of faith precious and momentous beyond all comparison. It is not merely revelation from God but of God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are now made known through our Lord a man, and in His work of redemption who is now consequently in heavenly glory, and, by the Spirit sent forth from heaven, the Spirit of God and of glory, rest on the Christian. Not that our apostle makes known all these wondrous privileges, individual or as the church, Christ's body; but he does insist on the all-importance of the knowledge of God, which is now the portion of faith, beyond what could be before Christ came, or what is to be displayed in the kingdom to the world by-and-by.
It was the inspiring Spirit who laid this duty on the apostle, knowing that his time was short, and the putting off of the earthly tabernacle at hand. Of tradition, in the sense of handing down man's oral addition, he never thought. What had this done for men before the deluge or after it? What was the issue of pretending to it in Israel or in Christendom? The prophet spoke out on the worthlessness of the fear of Jehovah taught by a commandment of men; the Lord still more decidedly, as transgressing the commandment and making void the word of God on account of their tradition. Inspiration makes it not a word of men, but as it is truly God's word, which also works in those who believe, and clothes it with divine permanence when written in the Spirit.
So the apostle Paul bade Timothy abide in the things which he had learned and was assured of, knowing of whom he learned, and that from a child he had known the sacred letters that are able to make wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. This of course refers to the O.T. But he adds more: “Every scripture [is] God-breathed (or, inspired), and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction that is in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly fitted for every good work.” It is a sentence framed expressly to embrace not only whatever of the N. T. had already appeared, but every part of it that remained to be written. Terms could not be devised more simply or absolutely predicating God's authority of every part of the written word. To call it genuine or authentic was wholly short of what is conveyed. It was inspired or God-breathed, that we might know the things freely given to us by God; and this spoken in words, not taught by human wisdom, weakness, defect of any kind, but taught by the Spirit. Thoughts and words were alike spiritual, that the result might be God's word certain and complete.
Our apostle, like Paul, had his dissolution before his eyes as well as the increasing evil through false teachers in depravity, and skepticism. Both are distinct in pointing to scripture as the great safeguard. As they alike set aside tradition, so they exclude any thought of apostolic succession. Grace might raise up faithful men to teach the truth they had learned, or even to instruct others competent to communicate it. But scripture alone is the rule of faith, the sole unerring standard given of God to all His children whereby to test what they hear; and it is all the more blessed and necessary, as wicked men and impostors advance for the worse, leading and led astray. Scripture alone has divine authority. Therein God speaks directly to every soul; as indeed the apostle John also expresses it in his First Epistle, We [the inspired, apostles and prophets] are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (chap. 4:6). No one honored scripture as Christ did from first to last, on the cross, and when risen from the dead. He even set the written word as a definitive witness beyond His own spoken words (John 5:47).
These are but a portion of what might be cited to explain what the apostle here felt as guided of God to write these last words of his. Tradition must be a foundation of sand; and the foundation of the apostles and prophets is too well laid by divine grace to admit of a supplement, either of a vague and imaginary apostolic succession, or of a rival twelve set up by modern prophets. Scripture must be itself complete to make the man of God complete and fully equipped for every good work. But divine power is needed to receive, enjoy, and carry out the written word; and this is imparted to every Christian in the gift of the Holy Spirit abiding in and with us forever. Yet that word is the only standard. With his departure in near view the apostle would write his last inspired words to stir up the saints by recalling what is easily forgotten, but by his speedy departure made the more urgent, “according as our Lord Jesus Christ manifested to me.”
Peter remembered the grave lesson he had learned through Paul at Antioch, when he himself failed to keep in mind the truth conveyed so vividly by the vision at Joppa and its fulfillment in Cæsarea, the grace of God to Gentile now as to Jew. The pillar of the circumcision stood condemned, and he who was entrusted with the apostolate of the uncircumcision resisted him before all, and for the truth's sake recorded so great a failure in scripture. For little as it might seem to carnal eyes, it was dissimulation to please certain that came from James, compromised Gentile liberty, and surrendered the truth of the gospel. God thus took care to register it as such, the overwhelming disproof of an infallible Roman see, even if there had been evidence, which there is not, that Peter was the founder of the church there, or its first bishop. So tradition says, and the credulous believe, not only without but contrary to the clear testimony of the written word. Nor did Paul found it, but wrote his Epistle to the Roman saints before he was carried there a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles, as at length also His martyr there.
Yet Irenæus, who stands above all the fathers in the second century as Clemens of Rome above those in the first, tells us, in his book III. against Heresies, that Matthew brought out his Gospel in Hebrew, “when Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and founding the church.” This the famous and we may say first ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius, adopts (H.E. v. 28), though an error irreconcilable with scripture; as he had before (2:25) from Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, that Peter and Paul had founded the church in Corinth before going on to Rome for a similar work. Paul we know to have been its planter, not Peter. Can anything more plainly indicate the absurdity of trusting tradition even of early days, in presence of the sure light of God's word? Yet all goes to justify our apostle in his zeal to leave nothing for edification to such a haphazard channel, but to write all needed to help, guard, and stimulate the saints in words taught by the Spirit, that they might thereby be brought face to face with Him who inspired these exhortations. Thus only can we know and have communion with God.

Brief Words on Genesis 22:1-14

The well-known saying of the famous Bishop of Hippo, that in the O. T. the New is latent, while in the N. T. the Old is patent, has no more striking justification than in this familiar chapter, which has an interest far beyond what attaches to the personal exercises of Abraham. Not but what the trial of the patriarch's faith is both most important in its place and most valuable for our instruction. But, as every believer knows, we have here a divinely drawn picture of the Atonement. What does it matter that the incident took place some two thousand years before Christ, but that it enhances the overwhelming proof that the writer was inspired by the Spirit of God?
But before attempting to look at the story in its typical aspect, let us try to note a few points in the narrative itself. God tried Abraham, as He ever does those who are truly sons (Heb. 12:8). And mark that God graciously tested His servant in such a way as to make prominent the very characteristic with which he was best equipped. He was very strong in faith; and God puts him to a supreme test. So I suppose that if any be marked by love, or grace, or wisdom, etc., the Lord will sometimes give such the opportunity of sealing, so to speak, their possession of such “fruit of the Spirit” by some special exhibition of them in circumstances naturally calculated to make manifest our human limitations. At any rate here we see Abraham strengthened to surrender even his well-beloved son at the call of God.
Next note how responsive Abraham is. God calls, and at once comes the reply, “Here am I.” Then consider how all that would make the demand still more terrible to nature is emphasized, not minimized: “Thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest.” Such minute traces have we of the Divine knowledge, and the Divine interest. Nor is anything left to Abraham's choice in the matter of locality. The sacrifice was to be on one of the mountains that God would tell him of. So must it ever be. In the service of the Lord all must be ordered by Himself, and in accordance with His will. Accordingly Abraham goes to the place of which God had told him. He did not, like Jonah, go west when told to go east, though the task laid upon him, being so personal, must have been far harder. Nor was it a brief trial—a matter of moments or even minutes. It was not till the third day that Abraham saw the place afar off. Imagine the deep exercise of the father's spirit during those solemn days. Yet we note the serene confidence with which he answers Isaac, who naturally wondered where the lamb for the sacrifice was to come from, and won the response, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt-offering” —prophetic words indeed, and that doubly so, with far off pathetic promise of Calvary. How much Abraham saw of hidden meaning in his own words we know not—perhaps nothing—but it is surely there, even if he thought only of an immediate succor.
And now Isaac's eyes must have been opened to the imminence of the offering, when, the last initiatory rites having been performed, he lay bound upon the altar. We know how in the dread moment God appeared, and arrested that obedient hand. We know too how the father's faith was crowned, and the living Isaac unbound. Thus was Abraham bidden to spare his son by Him who spared not His own Son. No ram was found in the thicket in the stead of the blessed Lord. No Barabbas might take the place of the true Son of the Father.
And now let us briefly note one or two more details that clearly point to the great mystery (I use the word in the scriptural sense of revelation) of redemption. We read that “they went both of them together,” and this statement, twice recorded, most significantly suggests that wondrous understanding between the Father and the Son in the blessed Trinity, between both of whom was the counsel of peace, as we read in Zechariah (vi. 13). Again in the words “I and the lad,” as we read in an earlier verse, it is not fanciful to see another indication of the perfect accord between the Father and the Son. It is a picture truly; but when the light of the N. T. is thrown upon it, how luminous it stands out in every detail as pointing to the work of our Lord, even, as we have seen, emphasizing the common purpose that actuated the three Persons of the Godhead. Our great poet Milton recognized this in the words he puts into the mouth of God the Father in reply to the pleadings of the Son, (“All Thy request was My decree"); and, though it is possible to read into these words an Arian twist, at least if we are aware of the poet's doctrinal proclivities, yet it shows us how all thoughtful believers must recognize the immense share that God the Father takes in the salvation of mankind. It was the Father who sent the Son, (what must it have cost Him to deliver Him up for us all?) and if Abraham felt so keenly in the case of his son, who yet, he had confidence would be restored to him, what, we may reverently say, must it have been to God not to spare His only Son? We cannot make too much of the Savior; His indeed was the humiliation and the suffering, if we do need to be reminded of the love of God the Father. Truly we do not honor the Father least when we honor the Son; but the Father seeketh worshippers, and sometimes He only gets our prayers.
Thus briefly and inadequately has it been attempted to say a few words on this peculiarly interesting chapter.
The chapter was brought more immediately to the mind by recently reading that it is among those portions of the Bible that a Canon of the Church of England, who is starting an unhallowed Index Expurgatorius, would exclude from the “lessons”! How true it is that, when we pronounce a judgment, we virtually are judged. Could blindness and daring go farther? And what would this blind leader say of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which Abraham's wonderful faith is singled out for emphatic eulogy? May such unholy handling of God's word give pause to some who are ready to go a certain way with the destructive critics. Happily there are many thousands in his communion to whom the Canon's words will have given deep pain. R. B.

Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch

Objections do not destroy the historic character of the Pentateuch. But it is well to remember, that, independently of all solutions of difficulties, there is testimony sufficient to prove its genuineness and Divine origin. That testimony is found in the books of the Old and New Testament. It is possible to trace the existence of the Pentateuch in every age, from Malachi to Joshua: that is sufficient to prove its genuineness. It has the sanction of the Savior and His Apostles, and that will prove its Divine origin. The question may, however, occur to some minds, How do we know that the Pentateuch, which we now possess, is that referred to by our Lord, and cited by Hebrew writers?
To this the answer is, We have most satisfactory proof of the identity. The Pentateuch has descended to us in at least four independent channels. The whole people of the Jews, Rabbinists and Karaites; the Greek, Syrian, and Roman churches, all possess a Pentateuch. It stands at the beginning of their Sacred Scriptures. And those different copies—the Hebrew, Chaldee, Greek, Syriac, and Latin, all so wonderfully agree, as to leave no doubt of identity. The present Jews have received their Hebrew copies, and the Chaldee translations, from those who dwelt not only in Jerusalem, but in Babylon. The Pentateuch of Eastern, and Western, Indian, African, and Chinese Jews is the same. The translation possessed by the Greeks is that received at the time of their conversion, and has come down in a perfectly distinct channel from the Hebrew. There was no love between Jews and Greeks, so as to induce the latter to conform their Scriptures to those of the former, and yet the Greek Pentateuch is manifestly a translation of the Hebrew possessed by the Jews. The Syriac version agrees still more minutely with the Hebrew; and yet the intercourse of Syrian Christians with Jews was as little as that of the Greeks.
With regard to the Latin, there is the same agreement, and the same independence of transmission. Between Jews and Christians there was a wall of separation which entirely prevented either from borrowing of the other. Amongst Christians themselves there were differences, both in language and theology, sufficient to prevent collusion. The Greek translation was not made from the Syriac; nor the Syriac from the Greek. They are entirely independent one of the other; and yet all present to us, with a few unimportant differences, the same Pentateuch. The Hebrew is that which the Jews received from their fathers. The Greek existed before the Incarnation of the Savior. The Syriac version was made, as is generally supposed, early in the second century, probably before that time. We have, therefore, four independent witnesses to prove the identity of the Pentateuch which we possess, with that which was known to our Lord. And to these might be added the testimonies of Philo and Josephus, in whose writings sufficient portions of the Pentateuch are found to prove the identity of their copies with ours, and their belief that Moses was the author.
But, from the days of our Lord to the time of the last canonical Hebrew writer, there is a long interval. How can it be known, therefore, that the Pentateuch as then existing was that received from Malachi and his contemporaries? Here again there is a chain of sufficient testimonies. About one hundred and thirty years before Christ, the grandson of Jesus, the son of Sirach, translated the book of Ecclesiasticus into Greek. That book is acknowledged to be genuine, and has so many references to the Law as to prove the identity of the book so called. The first book of Maccabees, also received as authentic by modern critics, carries us nearly fifty years farther back. The mad efforts of Antiochus Epiphanes to destroy the book of the Law; and the zeal, not only of the priests, but of the common people, ready to die rather than disobey it, attest the existence of the book, and the popular belief that it was from God. That our Pentateuch existed, and was received as the law of Moses, one hundred years earlier, that is about two hundred and eighty years before Christ, is attested by the fact that it was then translated into Greek by Alexandrian Jews. Their version, commonly known as Septuagint, is that quoted by Evangelists and Apostles, and handed down to us by the Greek Fathers; and of whose agreement with the Hebrew we have already spoken.
Nor is this by any means all. The Providence of God has preserved a still more ancient testimony, in the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its existence was known to the Christian Fathers; but for a thousand years it lay concealed, and at last came forth as from the grave, to assure us of the identity of the Pentateuch. Suppose that in that long interval some doubter had said, The Samaritans were a distinct and rival sect, hated by the Jews, and hating in return. Josephus, and the Fathers of the Church, and the Rabbis, all bear witness that they had a copy of the Pentateuch: bring it forth and let us compare it with the Hebrew and Christian copies, and see whether they agree. How would he have triumphed had the Samaritan copy been produced, and found to differ altogether from those of Jews and Christians! But what is the fact? The Samaritan copy has been produced, written in a character equally unknown to Jews and Christians.
A little remnant of the people still exist to present it to the world. And lo! with the exception of a very few passages, it is the same in narrative and legislative enactment as that known to the Synagogue and the Church. This testimony carries us back to the erection of the Temple on Mount Gerizim, to the days of Sanballat, that is, to the time of Nehemiah, and the close of the canon of the Old Testament; and assures us not only that it existed, but that it was not and could not be a compilation of those times. Manasseh, of the family of the high priest, being excluded from the priesthood because he refused to dismiss his heathen wife as the Law required, does not protest against this Law as ungenuine, and therefore unworthy of obedience; but, when he leaves the Jewish people, imposes its yoke upon his Samaritan friends. Such conduct can only be explained by Manasseh's firm conviction that its origin was divine. Its acceptance by the Samaritans testifies a similar conviction on their part, produced by what they had already learned. At all events, the Pentateuch then existed, was ever afterward preserved by the Samaritans. and their copy now shows the identity of their Pentateuch with our own.
(To be continued).

The Rechabites

It is always easier to follow tradition than the written word of God; in doing so the conscience is not exercised, and we avoid the difficulty (sometimes a serious one), of giving reasons for our conduct. It is enough that we have been brought up from our infancy to believe and practice certain things, and to walk in a certain path: if right and good for our elders, why not for us? The Lord Jesus, in His ministry at Jerusalem, was frequently in conflict with the Pharisees about this very thing; as many passages in the Gospels (especially Matthew's) bear witness. That which has been handed down from father to son may not be bad in itself—it may have been good, at least for the time; but there is a false standard and a human authority set up in the soul, which, if it does not deny that of the word of God, will assuredly give it the second place. The Pharisee, attempting to approach God in all the excellence of his religious character (Luke 18:12), puts his fasting twice in the week, before the payment of tithes: the former was not enjoined in the Mosaic law, the latter was. The word of God in its direct application to the soul, judges and humbles one, while traditional observance fosters spiritual pride.
To walk in a path which my fathers have trodden before me, and marked out for my guidance, however attractive to the soul who desires rest, will not satisfy an awakened conscience or provide an answer when one is challenged. “What dost thou here, Elijah?” is a terrible question for every one who cannot justify his position by the word. It was comparatively easy for the disciples when the Lord was with them, and they could go to Him in all their joys, their sorrows, and their difficulties; but He warned them of a time of peril when the words He had spoken, brought to their remembrance by the Holy Spirit whom He would send, would in a way compensate for His own absence, and give them also a spiritual enjoyment of His own, and of His Father's presence with them (John 14:23).
It would seem that the Rechabites had continued as long as possible the observance of their father's commandments. Their filial piety was fully acknowledged, and rewarded (ver. 19). But in a day of ruin or of judgment, the word of the living God alone can give strength to the soul and shed divine light upon the path. It meets us in all circumstances and conditions; it reveals the true character of what is exercising and distressing the soul; it answers every question, and enables one to tread the path of obedience and dependence with more confidence than ever; because I have been to God about the evil, and have got my answer.
Obviously the sons of Jehonadab could not do this. That which was their rule of life was not to be adjusted to the new circumstances which befell them. And this is where any human creed or system betrays its weakness. The Rechabites could not consult their father in the emergency, as is the believer's privilege now; and so it seems that they did the very worst thing possible. Jerusalem, the holy city, must surely be a haven of refuge, a sacred place that the Chaldean could not and dare not touch. But alas! Jerusalem was doomed, highly favored, yet all the more guilty. The wrath of God fell heavily upon it.
The Spirit of God takes advantage of their recourse to that very place, in the way of testimony to the nation; and this without either sanctioning or condemning the manner of life of the Rechabites, or their partial departure from it under the pressure of fear. This was not the point; but their faithfulness was an object lesson for the Jews, and gave point to an earnest appeal to the conscience of the nation at a time when the Judge was at the door. It must have been a strong temptation; for God's faithful and suffering servant took them to the sacred house of God, with witnesses amongst whom was a “man of God.” They might have thought that in such a holy place, and invited by such men, they could be absolved from their ordinary obligation. But they stood the test. God's purpose was gained; while His people pursued their guilty way to the bitter end.
In the history of Israel under the reign of Jehu, we have no mention of Jehonadab's charge to his sons; yet he himself is brought before us (2 Kings 10) in such a manner as suggests that the Spirit of God was creating and maintaining, beneath the surface of national life, piety and godliness in not a few humble souls, whose eyes were opened to the enormity of the evil of the state religion established by Jeroboam. First, its effect was to make God a stranger to His own people and in His own land. To this was added by Ahab the worship of Baal. Hence Jehu had been commissioned to execute the judgment of God upon the house of Ahab. Jehonadab hears of it, and his heart goes out in loyalty and devotedness towards this external servant of God. When he goes to meet him (ver. 15), Jehu at once displays his true character: “Come with me and see my zeal for Jehovah,” is the language of one whose heart was devoid, as of faith and piety toward God, also of love and pity for man. His methods were brutal and treacherous, while he yearned for the approbation of man, and especially of such a one as Jehonadab who had doubtless a reputation for religion. We read no more of the latter, who must have had a sorrowful experience in his company (vers. 18-28). It was soon proved that putting down Baal worship, because it suited him, left him free to continue the sin of a self-devised and politic religion already judged by God (1 Kings 13), because this suited him. The spirit of Jehonadab, grieved and crushed within by such affronts offered to Jehovah, led him into such a manner of life as testified of his moral judgment of the evil, and of his refusal to enjoy himself or to be even a citizen of that land, which had made the worship of Jehovah impossible, except indeed individually through grace.
We have thus two distinct types of service contrasted; and we have their counterparts to-day in Christendom. The one is all fire, zealous, energetic, and self-assertive; it seeks the fellowship and sanction of such as are known to be godly. But faith, obedience, and dependence, are strangers to such men. “Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord” expresses their real character; and they will in due time come under the just judgment of God. On the other hand “he who doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
Centuries after that meeting of Jehu and Jehonadab, when the apostate kingdom of the ten tribes was judged and the people went into captivity, such as had sighed and cried over the abominations practiced amongst God's people (Ezek 9:14), were still maintained and acknowledged by God. Obedience is ever precious in His sight; therefore it was that He said, Jehonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever. G. S. B.

Scripture Queries and Answers: Deity of Christ; Reality of the Mount of Transfiguration Scene; Paradise and Kingdom;

Q.-John 1:1, 2; 17:3, &c. What scripture would you bring in support of the deity of Christ?
1. John 17:3 refers to the “Father” as “the only true God.” A man belonging to the “Faith” sect points out that John 1 makes a distinction between “the word was with God” (should be “the God”), whereas “the word was God” (is not “the God"); and that this prevents him from accepting the statement that Jesus is God in the full sense that the Father is the true God as in John 17
2. I don't understand Greek, but I notice the verse in the R. V. is weakened by the margin “thy throne O God is,” &c. (Heb. 1) which you have quoted in a back number of T. N. & O. in support of the deity of Christ.
3. What answer would you give to those who dismiss the reality of the mount of transfiguration scene, and its proof in favor of the present conscious existence of Moses and Elias, by stating it is only a “vision”? What about “the heavenly vision”?
4. A “Faith” man argued that “the kingdom” and “Paradise” are the same or similar as “When thou comest into Thy kingdom,” with “This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” In proof of it, he pointed out that man in Paradise was set over the works of God's hands, and that Paradise was the kingdom, or the beginning of it. QUERIST.
A.-The very first chapter of the first Gospel proves Jesus to be not only the Messiah genealogically, but God and Jehovah. He is Emmanuel, or God with us (Isa. 7); and He should save His people, Jehovah's people, from their sins. He could say, “Before Abraham was (came into being), I am,” the ever being One, or, as in the Revelation, the Alpha and the Omega, First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He was, is, and ever shall be God. No Christian doubts but affirms that He, the Word and Son, became man, but also that He was eternally God. True Christianity depends on His person, as His word assures us who believe; and the denial of it will be, for those guilty of it, their perdition no less righteous than true. So in Rom. 9:5 Christ is declared to be over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
1. As the Father is the true God, so is the Son (1 John 5:20); and we might add the Holy Spirit also. This is proved of the three Persons, if we compare Isa. 6 with John 12:41, and Acts 28:25-27: all the truth, and grace, and glory pertain to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, alike God and Jehovah.
The “faith sect” must be a burlesque of faith, a school of nothing but unbelief. The man referred to understands Greek no better than Querist who owns his ignorance honestly. For the distinction in John 1:1 has nothing to do with the alleged difference, but only with the predicative usage, which in Greek requires the absence of the article, as every scholar knows.
2. Psa. 45:6, 7 is expressly cited by the inspired writer of Heb. 1:8, 9, as proving the Son to be God as well as man.
3. The Transfiguration scene had for its object to give a living sample of the Son of man's future kingdom to the three chosen witnesses; and, as its still more important effect, to make known the glory of Jesus as the Son of the Father, before whom the great representatives of the Law and the Prophets vanish; “hear ye Him.” That Moses and Elijah have “present conscious existence” required no such a display; they were like the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and indeed not only all saints, but all souls of men. God is not God of dead but of living; for all live unto Him. “But I say to you, my friends, Fear not those that kill the body, and after this have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom ye shall fear: Fear him who after he hath killed hath authority to cast into hell; yea, I say to you, Fear him.” It is to trifle with Him, when any essay to treat the Transfiguration, or the apostle's “heavenly vision,” as unreal. God is not mocked.
4. The unbeliever's argument, if so be it can be called, to identify “the kingdom” with “paradise” is mere trash and confusion, and not even the least bit of sound reasoning. The Lord that day entered paradise, and so did the saved robber. The Kingdom will be at His coming. The paradise of Adam was ruined by sin; the paradise of the second Man and last Adam stands in the righteousness of God, and was open that very day to him that had faith in Jesus. Of Him spoke Psa. 8 prophetically, not retrospectively of the first man that fell.

Scripture Queries and Answers: The Saints in Revelation 6:9

Q—Rev. 6:9. Who were these saints, and by what means brought to God?
A.—It is certain and clear that these saints in question were not of Christian standing, but apparently believing Jews, called after the translation on high of the heavenly saints (of the O. T. as well as of the N. T.), and seen around the throne under the symbol of the twenty-four crowned elders. They on the other hand were seen underneath the altar, as victims offered up to God, “the souls of those that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice,” not at all as Stephen did in Acts 7, but like the godly Jewish remnant in the Psalms and the Prophets, “saying, How long, and [or, sovereign Master], holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth? And there was given to them each a white robe; and it was said to them that they should rest yet a little while, until both their fellow-bondmen and their brethren who were about to be killed as they, should be fulfilled.” Their resurrection to reign with Christ was to come; and Rev. 20:4 describes it for them in Rev. 6 and those to follow them in Rev. 13
We are not told, as far as I know, by what means they were brought to God; but there is no difficulty in conceiving that He may have wrought immediately by His grace through the word in some, who were used to act on others, as He has often done even in our day where the more ordinary means failed.

"Chef" or "Head" in the French New Testament

O. P. on “Chef” in the French N. T
A LETTER from O. P. gives ample corroboration from the old standard French Dictionary of the Academy that those who fancy some other sense, and not “head,” do not know what they write about. No other sense suits the matter in question. There are other dictionaries of later date and of great repute for research; but nothing to shake that sense. After all, as the Greek is the original, this only is divinely authoritative, and “head” is the, only possible sense, as required also by the correlation with body. But when men drift from truth once believed and confessed, they flounder into new follies as higher truths. So did the old Gnostics.


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Joseph: 8. Pharaoh's Dream

“God however did not forget, and kept Joseph in mind. Faith is tried to our profit (ver. 1), but never disappointed in result.
“And it came to pass at the end of two full years (years of days), that Pharaoh dreamed; and, behold, he stood by the river. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, well-looking and fat-fleshed; and they fed in the reed-grass. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill-looking and lean-fleshed; and they stood by the kine on the bank of the river. And the ill-looking and lean-fleshed ate up the seven well-looking and fat kine. And Pharaoh awoke. And he slept and dreamed a second time; and, behold, seven ears of corn came up on one stalk, fat and good. And, behold, seven ears, thin and parched with the east wind, came up after them. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven fat and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, [it was] a dream” (vers. 1-7).
We may notice how appropriate the dreams were, as ordered of God throughout for each case. In Gen. 37 what more simple and suited to those in view than Joseph's sheaf rising up and continuously standing, whilst the other sheaves came round about and bowed down to his sheaf? or the even more emphatic vision of the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowing down to Joseph? A dream so plain, vivid, and startling as to need no interpreter, and to incur the rebuke of his dearly loving father. Darker and more adapted to an Egyptian were the dreams of the chief cupbearer and of the chief baker in chap. 40, and as matter of fact beyond any interpreter among the experts of their race, the lack of whom they lamented. He who owned a living God alone was enabled to expound its prophetic meaning, soon to be punctually verified as he said. But here in the chapter before us, how wild and strange and portentous the double dream sent to arouse the king! Yet the “river” is expressed by a word pointing beyond question to the Nile, and so is the marsh-grass on its brink which cattle loved to browse. But egregious as dreams may often be in confusing the proprieties of person or object, of time and place, here it is heightened to the utmost, first by the ill-looking and lean kine eating up the fine-looking and fat ones, next by the thin and parched ears of wheat devouring the fat and good ears that grew on one stalk.
Who that believes God's word can doubt that the wonders so opposed to nature were all the more evidently of divine purpose? But that purpose was worthy of His goodness and compassion. In a world of sin and suffering, of death and moral ruin and wretchedness He works alike by uncommon bounty and by the hard pinch of want; and for the good of souls yet more by the pain than by the prosperity, that in his anguish the heart might consider why such an affliction came from such a God. The teaching of the two dreams was enigmatic in their forms, but identical in the aim; abundance to the fullest followed by the most abnormal consumption. But why the seven kine and repeated? why the seven ears of corn no less repeated? This needed His interpretation who sent the dreams, Man's power was powerless to open the lock. Wisdom was essential, not that which is earthly, sensual, devilish, but what comes down from above.
To whom did God give the key? To the humbled sufferer in the dungeon. The hour of his vindication was about to strike, and his exaltation at a bound from the deepest though unmerited dishonor to the highest position a subject could fill, always excepting the Antitype foreshadowed by both, yet with whatever resemblance beyond all comparison. But even then what a scheme of goodness while the evil day still dragged its slow length along! The abundance was not to be wasted in a luxurious and injurious waste; the famine was to be alleviated by a wise policy so as to consolidate the king's authority and power and means, instead of breeding discontent and despair and revolution. Joseph had the place of honor and administrative wisdom, after his long endurance of shame and grief at home and abroad; his father to be permanently comforted, and filled with joy overflowing after his life of trial and change beyond his father's; and his brethren to be rebuked and humbled before his grace and glory, with verification of those dreams in his youth which then only increased their base envy and aggravated their hatred of his purity and love.
But if we may not run on longer in the anticipation of this great and sudden change, let us think of the deep and divine prophetic outlook which underlies even such a history as Genesis supplies. Let us abhor the blind and destructive incredulity, which perverts by false-named knowledge, or the modern veil of “higher criticism” over real infidelity. Let us delight in the written word of God, which would and does unite a simple unvarnished and true tale, which even a child can take in and enjoy, with moral wisdom at the time and for all time. It is the Holy Spirit's vision of Christ's coming both in humiliation and rejection by Jew and Gentile, and in His administration of the Kingdom in power and glory to the blessing of both in the mercy of God at the end. Then He who chastised the unbelief of them all shall show mercy to all manifestly, and with universal confession of the once despised Jesus. O depth of riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable His judgment, and untraceable His ways! For who knew Jehovah's mind? or who became His counselor? or who first gave to Him, and it shall be given to him in return? Because of Him, and through Him, and for Him are all things: to Him be the glory for the ages. Amen.

The Closing Types of Leviticus: 10. Incentives to Obedience in the Land

JEHOVAH did not fail to encourage His people in subjection to Himself as their God, and in a way suited to their position in the land He was about to give them. By their own act their tenure depended on their fidelity; but He exhausted all means to explain, and stimulate, to strengthen and cheer them. Yea, He would act on their behalf in mercy and judgment; and they shall celebrate soon in everlasting song.
“Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield its fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for the three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the fruits, the old, until the ninth year; until its fruits come in, ye shall eat [of] the old. And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land [is] mine; for ye [are] strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land” (vers. 18-24).
Obedience is indeed the essential claim of God on the creature, and the creature's inalienable duty. But even innocent, sinless, man never stood in it, but failed; and this very soon, when tested, as the opening facts of inspired history prove to every soul that fears God and trembles at His word. How much less did or could fallen man recover his balance? One perfect exception at length appeared, the hope of Whom acted powerfully on all who waited for Him in faith; but all others departed more and more sadly from God, and hardened themselves in disobedience and self-will with ever growing boldness of unbelief.
That exception however was the Creator become man; Who demonstrated the incurable evil of fallen man, only made worse by corrupting or defying all God's remedial means. Worst of all, He proved favored man's hatred of God come in nothing but goodness, for God was as far as possible from judging and publishing man's iniquity, but revealing Himself in sovereign grace. Man's answer was enmity to God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing to them their offenses. Thereon God would and does now act in Him for His own glory, bringing in the gospel of His grace, and the church Christ's body. Then obedience assumes its fullest character in those that are His elect according to God the Father's foreknowledge by or in the Spirit's sanctification unto obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ. The Christian by grace obeys God as a son after Christ's pattern, though he receives His blood-sprinkling to do it. It is in full contrast with Israel under the most solemn sanction of death if they violated the law (Ex. 24:7, 8,); as they shortly did thoroughly. But what can we say of our obedience either individually or collectively? Its very nature is ignored. The total ruin of Christianity proper is attested by the boast of Christendom in its twofold shame of Jewish ordinance and of Gentile philosophy.
But the land itself no less attests the no less ruin of the Jew. Does Israel therein dwell in safety? Does the land yet yield its fruit? Do the people of God eat their fill, and dwell therein in peace, honor, blessing and glory? When under the Messiah and the new Covenant, it will assuredly be so. No longer will they say, what shall we eat the seventh year? Jehovah will bless them every year, not when, by the political help of friendly Gentiles, the Jews, before the harvest and after the blossom, are becoming a ripening grape. Not so: the sprigs shall be cut off, and the spreading branches cut down. They are not yet a people prepared for Jehovah. The veil still lies upon their heart, which will not truly have turned to Him. They do not yet repent at the feet of the Crucified Messiah; and they shall be left together to the ravenous birds of the mountains and to the beasts of the earth, who shall respectively summer and winter upon them. Yet the same inspired prophet declares, following up their bitter disappointment, “In that time shall a present be brought unto Jehovah of hosts” of that very afflicted people, not with worldly aid without faith, to no provisional region half-way, but to the place of His name, the Mount Zion. There shall they be ranged in the land, yet in a wholly different order from that under Joshua, and carefully from north to south laid down in Ezek. 48 but with parallel lines from east to west, then only to be for all the twelve-tribed nationality of Israel.
The Jews are still under the retribution, not only of the law broken in all ways but of the Messiah rejected. So the prophet Isaiah forewarned in his second and still more mature and profound portion, which depraved wits will have to be of his nameless double. Jerusalem is trodden down of Gentiles till their seasons are fulfilled. And the Jews must face a darker page of sin and woe, when the mass of them in the land shall receive the Antichrist for King, as their fathers rejected the true Anointed. Then shall be seen the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory; and when these things begin to come to pass, a godly Jewish remnant look up and lift up their heads, because their redemption draws nigh.
Jehovah will vindicate His rights in that day. “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity,” whatsoever the pretentious pride of Gentile masters. “For the land is Mine.” Strangers and sojourners with Him had been the men of Israel. But thenceforward He will hide His face no more from them; “for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah.” The right of redemption which they were responsible to grant in all the land of their possession, He keeps for the fit moment, and will triumphantly proclaim to their everlasting joy. And what unselfish joy will be the glorified church's in that day looking down from the heavenly places, and praising Him who is the giver of every good giving and every perfect gift, and of His Son through whom it all comes righteously, and of His Spirit in virtue of whom it can alone be divinely known and enjoyed.

Proverbs 22:22-29

THE apothegms before us have all a prohibitory character save the last which is a positive example to be followed and honored.
“Rob not the poor, because he [is] poor, neither oppress the afflicted in the gate; for Jehovah will plead their cause, and despoil the soul of those that despoil them.
Make no friendship with an angry man, and go not with a furious man; lest thou learn his paths, and get a snare to thy soul.
Be not of those that strike hands, of those that are sureties for debts; if thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set.
Hast thou seen a man diligent in his work? He shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before the obscure” (vers. 22-29).
It may seem singular to say, “Rob not the poor,” and in particular “because he is poor”; but it is a warning especially: so base, selfish, and cruel is human nature as now. The rich who might appear the more inviting prey to the unscrupulous are able to take care of themselves in ways that the poor would or could not essay. Hence bad men flatter the rich for gain, whilst they also rob or oppress those who ought to be objects of pity. But Jehovah has His eye on such villainy, at the very gate whence justice should flow, pleads the cause of the poor and the afflicted, and repays heavily those who despoil them.
With one given to anger it is hard to keep friends, and unsafe to make a friend; and to go with a furious soul is to run the risk of learning his ways, and thus to get a snare instead of a deterrent. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, says the apostle; not to hear him in this is to give place to the devil. Even if we have grave reason, the only right Christian feeling is to forgive; and if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses. You who are so slow to forget your wrongs, perhaps imaginary, do you believe Christ's words?
If one realized the duty of having to pay, in any bargain that is made, or suretyship which one agrees to, there would be a serious consideration whether God approves and leads the way. But as drowning men catch at a straw for life, so the imprudent lose their own means, and then seek to draw to their help their trusting friends, even if these have little or nothing to spare. It is a trifle, say they or a mere form without risk; for it is sure to answer. The sanguine and the improvident thus ensnare others into their own ruin. How homely and pungent the hint! If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away the bed from under thee?
Another dishonesty is then held up to censure, in which men are apt to cheat craftily rather than with open violence. The ancient landmark set by thy fathers is to be kept contentedly, and without allowing a covetous desire.
Lastly, it is well to regard a man diligent in his work in a world where so many begrudge their time, care, and labor. No wonder that one who does his business with conscience, despatch, and skill makes himself at length an object for the king's honor if not need, leaving behind the obscure with whose company he began. Those who rule value industrial integrity.

Stephen the Christian Protomartyr: 4. Appeal to Moses Next

Appeal To Moses Next. Acts 7:17-28.
Still more prolonged is the use made of this even fuller type of Messiah. This we may examine according to the three divisions of his life; each of forty years, in Egypt, in Midian, and in the wilderness.
“But as the time of the promise drew near which God assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until there arose a different king over Egypt who knew not Joseph. He dealt subtly with our race, and evil-entreated the fathers, to make their babes outcast that they might not live. At which season Moses was born and was fair exceedingly [unto God]; and he was nourished three months in his father's house. And when he was cast out; the daughter of Pharaoh took him up and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was instructed in every wisdom of Egyptians; and he was mighty in his words and works. And when a space of forty years was being filled to him, it came up on his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one wronged. he defended and avenged him that was oppressed, smiting the Egyptian. And he thought that his brethren would understand that God by his hand was giving them deliverance; but they understood not. And the next day he appeared to them when contending, and urged them unto peace, saying, Ye are brethren: why do ye wrong one another? But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who established thee ruler and judge over us? Dost thou wish to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday?” (Vers. 17-28.)
The time of promised deliverance drew near, but it was not yet come. A different king over Egypt arose, who knew not Joseph, and looked askance at the growth and rapid increase of the Israelites. The providence of God raised up a fitting instrument for His merciful purpose. But even Moses must learn dependence on Him, and that neither the advantage of his person, nor the training in Egypt's wisdom, nor the court influence of Pharaoh's daughter, could avail to effect that purpose to His glory. Yet who was ever more strikingly marked out by divine providence, and who had better human means and opportunities? Though an outcast for death, he nevertheless was nourished by the princess royal as her own son. Not only instructed in all that Egypt could teach, but mighty in his words and works, who so proper as he by the favor of the king to lead God's people peacefully, out of Egypt and their frontier sojourn to the promised land? But no: this would have been man's method and the world's wisdom to the praise of Moses' genius and prudence, and in no way a foreshadow of Christ.
Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ: as Joseph was a witness of it even in Canaan, so was Moses now in Egypt. “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be evil-entreated with the people of God than have temporary enjoyment of sin, accounting the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked off unto the recompence” (Heb. 11:24-26). Thus grace wrought in practical righteousness; it ought ever to do so in the believer, as it perfectly and ever shone in Christ. It was in Moses the eminent proof of his faith, relinquishing advisedly every gain which providence had given him of a circumstantial kind, that no flesh should glory, but that he who glories might glory in Jehovah. Nor was it only that he turned his back on the world's power, splendor, and pleasures, for Jehovah, leaving any charge of ingratitude to the royal preserver and munificent patron of his life up to mature manhood. He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, His poor faulty people in their present low and degraded estate, rather than enjoy what was sinful and ungodly. He appreciated the actual bond of God to His people, and unreservedly acted on it in faith. Grace enabled him not only to see but to do the truth.
The reasoning of prudence would have kept him where providence cast his lot without will of his own. Faith pierces through all such pleas or excuses, because it follows God's love to His own, even in their abasement; as Christ did thoroughly, who never yielded to premature energy, but waited in patience, suffering meanwhile to the uttermost. Any other principle however it be disguised is worldliness; and Moses is a blessed sample of fidelity, whatever mistake may have mixed up with it. The word to the Christian is plain: “not minding high things, but going along with the lowly.” It is the very reverse of “condescending” to them; for this retains pride of place while affording countenance. Compare our Lord's words in Matt. 20:25-28. “Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your servant; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Thus holiness to God is ever separateness from evil, but also identification in heart and way with His people. But faith is now tried, and its path never long runs smooth. And here we are shown that Moses, when about forty years old, had it on his heart to visit his brethren the sons of Israel; and seeing one wronged, he defended and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian. Hating unrighteousness, he punished the oppressor of his brother, heedless of the consequence. But the following day his love met a rude repulse, and this not from an Egyptian but from an Israelite, whose wrong was now worse; for he rejected the intervention of Moses to make peace, when he spoke to their heart of their unworthy contention. He that did the wrong to his neighbor—it is ever so—resented the love that sought their good, and thrust Moses away. He did worse still. “Who,” said he, “made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday?”
The time of deliverance was not yet. Moses so far was mistaken. He had not yet fully judged himself; he unconsciously was off his guard in using his might in words and deeds. The people must be brought down lower must cry to God under their bitter burdens, the Egyptians be forced to wish Israel good, and proud Pharaoh be crushed to nothing under God's mighty hand. Moses thought that his brethren would understand that God by his hand was giving them deliverance. But they understood not. And this is a far more searching trial than any fear of Egyptian anger. The Lord, who never failed, as Moses and others, suffered incomparably more than all for His people's unbelief, yea from His apostles' inability to understand Him, till He died and rose and sent His Spirit from heaven to lead them into all the truth. Man despised Him, and the nation abhorred. “We hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”
The saddest and most painful thing was His brethren's alienation. In this Joseph and Moses were types of Him; but each in a somewhat distinct way, the better to foreshow Him. Joseph was separated from his hating brothers, to rise through a humiliation still deeper where he was as a man that has no help, cast away among the dead and remembered no more. From all this he rose at once to be the highest next to him on the throne, quite outside Israel over the Gentiles. Moses was forced to flee from his brethren who would have valued his turning to account the world's influence, and cared not for his going down in love to share their affliction. But his heart was ever with them in his separation from them, and awaited the time to return for their deliverance from Egypt. Nor can any fact more clearly mark the difference than that he called his son Gershom, “a stranger"; while Joseph called his eldest Manasseh, “forgotten.” For such he was, in no way settled down in Midian; but his affections were with his poor brethren, and he looked for the day when by his hand deliverance would come for them.
In Joseph's name for his eldest we have the other side of what was so fully verified in Christ; for God had made him forget all his toil, and all his father's house; as the second was named Ephraim, or fruitful, in the land of his affliction. But Gershom expressed that Moses was a stranger in a strange land, and Eliezer's name only comes in later, My God a help, when Moses under Jehovah's power had delivered the people. So carefully does the inspiring Spirit deign to keep us even in typical shadows from the narrowness of the human mind or will, and lead us on to delight in the largeness of divine grace in our Lord Jesus.

Life in Resurrection

The great principle upon which a Christian stands is as to what is his life, and from whence it flows. The Christian is said to be raised from the dead—to have risen with Christ; and whatever is not thus quickened and risen is not of Christ. “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
All blessing and comfort is associated with this life in resurrection. There is the entering on a new position, and the setting aside forever of all previous and natural relation.
The apostle alludes to this in the preceding chapter, where he says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” And again, in chapter 3:1; “If ye then be risen with Christ.” The principle of life flows then from this: that he is dead, dead with Christ, quickened with Christ, risen with Christ; thus manifesting his practical identification with Christ in all things.
In Eph. 2 it is said, “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins,” to manifest “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” The same power which wrought in Christ's resurrection is effectual now for the spiritual resurrection of His people.
“God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
The Christian then, being quickened along with Christ, has the resurrection life of Christ, and is privileged to sit in Him in heavenly places, unto eternal life, as Christ is now sitting at the right hand of God; and the consequence of this position, when made known to the soul, is to bring in a rich revenue of joy and comfort, even “joy and peace in believing.”
Now, where an individual is not in this position, it is just to be under all his trespasses and sins—to have them upon himself. He is a sinner, as all are; but he is nothing else than a sinner in thought, principle, affection and standing—all that he is; and he is nothing else.
Perhaps he may not outwardly have manifested as much sin as others. He may have been restrained by regard to decorum; he may not have been placed in such circumstances as to draw it out equally with others. He may not have had the opportunity as others of appearing as great a sinner; but still he is a sinner, and nothing else. If he has in thought, word, or act, committed one sin, that is the evidence that he is a sinner, as one bad fruit evidences the unsoundness of the tree.
When did he get the inclination to transgress? No union of outward circumstances could have brought forth what was not within.
Now there is no association of principle with God as long as man remains in that state; but it decidedly manifests his departure from God. It was that which caused Adam to be driven out from the presence of God—actual transgression, arising from dissociation of principle from God. And all Adam's responsible posterity have actually gone astray; and so their natural position is, “alienation from God;” and (except those who have received the new life, being dead with Christ and risen with Him) that is just the position and standing of every individual. There is no difference as to their being driven out—all were driven out in Adam. As it says in Romans, “There is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
There is one grand sin which leads men to the commission of all others—the desire to please themselves. If this has once been acted on, it constitutes that man a sinner; just as the breach of one law of the land stamps a man a criminal. We do not require him to run through the transgression of every law in the statute book in order to bring him in guilty. His having broken one is the evidence of his guilt: we need no further proof.
While acting then on this as a principle, we are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. There is no life, no love, in us; as our Savior said to those by whom He was surrounded: “I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.” Now this is the real fact, that there is no assimilation to God in man's natural state, but the contrary principle—hatred, enmity.
But this is the position of every individual of the human race, until called out of the general mass by divine grace. He is sprung from Adam, associated with him in his sin, as to its guilt not only of leaving God but of positively rejecting Him. That is the world he loves, belongs to, and forms a part of; and whether his transgressions are few or great, he is doomed to destruction, if he continue so to the end.
Just as in the case of the flood—doubtless there was a wide difference in the amount of actual delinquencies among the sinful inhabitants of the world at that time; but none were saved but Noah. Many might even have bid fair to be saved, so as to be near the ark; but none were saved except such as were in the ark. So in Sodom: many had not so openly exhibited their enmity to God as others; and yet, in the general conflagration, Lot alone escaped: and why? Just because all the others, without distinction, were opposed to God—were quite opposite to Him in every principle, and consequently had come to that state of exclusion from God's presence.
If so, we are at present without God in the world; and to be forever without Him is perfect misery. And is not this really the present position of the world, though men are unconscious of it? There is a veil cast on futurity, as it regards them. They are occupied in the pleasures, amusements, profits, and pursuits of a Christ-rejecting world. But when the veil is raised, then will their position be disclosed. And whosoever is of Christ will have Christ's portion; they will enter on the enjoyment of that portion, which by faith they now see is prepared for them.
By faith alone have we any of these exceeding great promises now. Now is the time for us to ascertain by faith our personal identification with Christ. Now are we to know our interest in Him. The time is coming, yea, swiftly coming, when we shall know even as we are known; and as we are now quickened, raised, and exalted, what should be the effect but to manifest our identification with Christ, in a union so close and abiding that Paul says, “We are members of his body [of his flesh, and of his bones]”?
Christ went down into death for our iniquities, though holy, yet accounted guilty. He did suffer the penalty of sin, and was brought “into the dust of death.” He became dead.
Having thus been made sin, He rose again—He is a risen Christ. A risen Christ is one that was dead; and it is with a risen Christ that we have now to do. This state of blessedness He reveals to the soul by the Spirit of truth. He reveals what He had done in man's estate for man as having borne our sins, and thus evidencing that “the wages of sin is death.”
The believer then knows experimentally what Christ was doing here. He was bearing sin on the cross, and making the sacrifice of Himself to the justice of God, “it pleased Jehovah to bruise him.”
Now there is the point on which the Christian rests: the power of the recognition of God's pleasure and God's approbation in the sufferings and sacrifice of Christ; the point at which we feel the woes of Jesus inflicted. It is not the external perception, irrespective of a personal interest in His unexampled afflictions, such as the daughters of Jerusalem felt, when they bewailed and lamented Him. “Daughters of Jerusalem,” said He, “weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
To weep in tender sympathy for human sufferings and woe does not testify a union of sentiment with God; but the recognition of the wherefore “it pleased Jehovah to bruise him,” leading us to sorrow for these sins, and to rejoice at the Lord's approbation of their removal. This is a godly affection; this brings to the soul a perception of Christ's woes, when He says, “Thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” When the cup of suffering was presented to Him, mixed up with the bitterness of our sins—holy, yet agonized—sinless, yet bruised: does not this present us with the view God must take of sin? When we see, not the perpetrator, but only the bearer of sin exposed to such unexampled sufferings; and yet where, in what position, can we perceive so clearly, and completely the riches of divine grace, and love, and mercy, as here? “He spared not his own Son.”
It is not merely the fact that He was left as it were to the unmitigated rage of man; it was not merely that Adam's sinful race were permitted to “persecute and take him;” but God Himself withdrew the comfortable perception of the light of His countenance, which extorted from Him that bitter cry, “My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” The prophet, in the prospect of this event, declares in Isa. 53 “He had done no violence, neither was deceit found in his mouth: yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him” —and why?
There must have been some great concern passing between heaven and earth; some wonderful transaction pending betwen God and man; some immense negotiation which was now to be decided, sufficient to awaken the world, and into which the very “angels desire to look.” There must have been a something great and tremendous to have had such consequences attached to it; to have seen Him of whom the Father's testimony was, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and yet “pleased to bruise him!”
When this great mystery is understood (and none but a believer can enter into the spiritual perception of it), the soul is brought out of a state of death and darkness, and is translated into life and light. It then sees and feels what it was that caused the Father to bruise Him, and the Son willing to be bound.
When the believer sees Christ reduced to that state of suffering as to “cry, ‘Now is my soul troubled,' then the believer himself experiences something of this soul-trouble; when he hears Him exclaim, “The waters have gone in, even unto my soul!” and sees Christ “sore amazed, and very heavy,” then he participates in spirit in it; he sees, feels, believes it; and, seizing in it the evidence of the love of Christ, is glad, and rejoices.
And now, what were all these sufferings about? Sin, sin was the cause of all, and such sin as to draw down such fearful consequences on the bearer of it—how tremendous! Now, if we are not such wrath-deserving sinners, for whom was it undertaken? Assuredly not for us. If we have not come to the consciousness that our individual sins were so aggravated that in full justice they deserved what was laid on Jesus; that as He was bearing our sin, so was He bearing the penalty of it; if we are not brought to see these sins as ours, and the guilt of them ours, we have no consciousness of assimilation or union with Christ.
If any of you can say, “I know nothing of this soul-trouble; this does not describe my feelings and state,” then what have you to do with the promises of eternal life to the miserable, wretched, sinful?
If you can say, “It is not so with me; I do not think myself so bad as to draw down such heavy judgments upon me individually; I am not worse than others, and sin is not such a grief to me;” then assuredly all these sufferings and agony and woe cannot be, manifestly, about you.
If the consciousness of it has not been to make you “sore amazed and very heavy,” troubled and oppressed, then is Christ crucified no concern as yet of yours. But if we have seen and received the truth, that the death of Christ was the wages of our sins; if we have felt and understood the meaning and sense of His sufferings and death, and by appropriation can lay claim to them as ours, then the resurrection comes home to our souls with a quickening and revivifying power.
If we have seen Him really bearing the consequences of our sins, brought into the reality of death for us; if we can experimentally understand Christ on the tree, bearing the heavy burden of His people's sins—so heavy, that they bore Him to the very dust of death and brought Him low, even to the cross; if we can see Him rising without them, having blotted them out by His precious blood; then are we in a state to enter into the perception of that glorious privilege, “having forgiven you all trespasses.”
Though our sins brought Him down to the grave, yet they could not hold Him there; “because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” He rose, having triumphed over sin; He left sin no longer on His people or Himself, but washed it all away, never to appear against them, never again to draw down heaven's wrath.
The grave then has borne witness with us that He was dead; that He put away sin, rose above it and every enemy: the full tide of His people's iniquity was here expiated, and forever! Absolute justice poured down the punishment which it deserved, until sin was no more.
Christ, having risen from the dead, became the living witness that the justice and truth of God were forever satisfied. Had there been one sin unatoned for, there the surety must have remained. “Thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the very last mite” —that is what the law exacts; but the penalty was paid in all its demands, and divine justice perfectly satisfied.
There was no more required, nothing more demanded; and all this in perfect accordance with the purpose, counsel, and determination of God. The sins were owned, were confessed in penitence and shame, were mourned over, and the bearer held up to heaven, on which were to be inflicted the terrible effects of God's wrath. That wrath He met, and thus forever settled the question between God and sin.
There is no more suffering for sin; the controversy is now at an end forever. Now the believer has done with sin, as regards God's anger and condemnation; he also is risen, risen with Christ—has recognized it as his sin which is put away by the Redeemer, as though He was accounted the guilty one. Seeing this, he sees his sin condemned; if he did not, it would be to suppose that the sufferings were not commensurate to the extent of sin; that the death of the victim has not expiated all; that sin is not done away with; but the believer, who is conscious of having risen with Christ, sees sin gone, forgotten, no more to be remembered. It is actually gone as regards us (believers); and in that position we are actually standing in the presence of God, justified from all things, risen with Him without sin unto salvation, brought up before God in a justified state.
Who then can (or shall) lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God Himself that justifieth; it is Christ Himself