Blackrock Lecture 4: Him That Overcometh

 •  26 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Heretofore I have endeavored to bring before you, first of all, what the church is in the truth and actuality of it, as the body of Christ in purpose and result, according to the counsels of God. That which it will be when Christ — the second Man — the last Adam — possesses manifestly all His glories; the church then “his body, the fullness of him who filleth all in all.” We also looked upon the other aspect of the church as Christ’s body on earth, constituted and maintained in its unity as “one body,” by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Then we traced from scripture the house of God as the professing body here below; and lastly, we saw the judicial attitude in which John presents Christ as to it, “with eyes like unto a flame of fire”; an aspect in which Paul could not, I think, present Him. It is more His province to present a heavenly Christ gone up as man into the glory of God; and he does not bring Him down again. Of course, that He will be manifested in judgment, is in Paul’s writings too; quite true and needful in filling up the word of God.
It is very blessed, beloved friends, to know that we are united to Him, who is the Judge of quick and dead, by the Holy Spirit sent down. We have eternal life in Him, and we stand in complete redemption. There is not a single shadow judicially, between our souls and Christ.
But still He is going to spue the professing body that bears His name here out of His mouth, and I do not want to be identified with the state for which He will thus reject it; I want to be an overcomer. I do not say it is possible for a true Christian to be spued out of Christ s mouth; but he may, alas! be found at this moment identified with that state that is utterly nauseous to Christ.
There is much said of the blessings to the overcomer in these scriptures (Rev. 2; 3). What is the meaning of an overcomer? He is not a person who is standing fast when things are all in order. Take Adam in the Garden; had he to overcome in anything? No. Then, when overcoming becomes necessary, what is the fact? Things have got into disorder; the mass have gone right away. A flood tide brought them in; the ebb came and swept them right away. Now when things were so, the overcomer has to stand fast for Christ in the scene; and he is the very one to whom Christ’s heart is drawn out in a way that could not have been when the whole body was going on well.
It was in the dark day of Israel’s ruin that Elijah and Elisha were sustained; there were none such men in the palmy days of Solomon. The faith that carried Elijah through such days of ruin for God, was answered by his being taken to heaven in a chariot of fire!
The overcomer was one who when he found that the people of God were drifting away from a state suited to him, was stemming the stream. If you ever swam against a stream, you know what would come of your missing a single stroke and where it might land you: and it is one thing, beloved friends, to have gained a firm foothold, and another to keep it — one thing to have the intelligence of a divine place, and another altogether to maintain it in power.
On the last occasion on which I addressed you, I noticed that in the messages to the Seven Churches you get no individual directions as to what to do. You get rewards promised the overcomer, but you are not told how to overcome. Many say, Look at all the evil that is in the seven churches and the like, and the Lord does not direct His people to leave them! Shall I tell you why? For this reason: you never have in them a single direction as to what you are to do, but one. That is, you are to “hear,” the church? no; it is a judged thing but “what the Spirit says” to her; then you find the blessing promised “to him that overcometh.”
Turn with me to a few scriptures in the Old Testament, that we may see how others overcame in an evil day.
In Exodus 32 we find a fine case of this character. Israel had been called out of idolatry; Abraham first, and then the whole nation, to be the witness of the one true God. But the moment poor man gets anything committed to him he fails. Moses had gone up to receive the law from Jehovah, and the people of Israel and Aaron were below. As soon as they lost sight of Moses, they made a golden calf; they went back into idolatry; into the very thing they had been called out of.
So with the church of God. She was called to walk outside of man and flesh altogether; the first thing she does is to fall into walking in the flesh. You find murmuring over a question of the funds in Acts 6. In Acts 2 they were “all filled with the Holy Ghost”; when we come to Acts 6 they were to “choose men full of the Holy Ghost.” You see they were not all full then.
Well, here in Exodus 32 Moses had gone up into the mountain, and Aaron had made the calf of gold; coupling the name of Jehovah with the similitude of a calf that eateth hay! And they said “These be thy God’s, O Israel,” &c. Now I only recall this well-known history to show how Moses and Levi overcame. God sends Moses down, and he saw the calf and the dancing. He took the tables of the law which God has given, him, and brake them beneath the mount. Why does he act thus? Through entering into God’s mind, from being with God. He does exactly the right thing at the right moment. It was the instinct of divine communion. Beautiful action of Moses! The glory of Jehovah was cared for, and the safety of the people too. The breaking of the tables met both; for if the law had come into the camp it could only have been their destruction, and where then would have been the witness of what He was in His own nature?
Mark verse 25. Moses had been given Aaron through his unbelief at the first, and of all he led him into the deepest trouble. So it is always. We bring a thorn on ourselves by our unbelief, and then the time comes when it rankles and gives us many a bitter moment. See Abraham, too, he goes down to Egypt and gets the Egyptian maid. She was a thorn gotten in that land of darkness. See how he reaped what he had sown through her.
It is always so. God says, as it were, Well, you cannot rise to me, I will come down to you. Then we find how much better had we risen up to Him, surmounting all the mountains of difficulty unbelief had conjured up.
Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said — and oh, let it be a word for every conscience I address, may each one be bent on standing for God down here — he said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me; And all the tribe of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.” Splendid action in faith in overcoming. They stood in faithfulness for God before men, and they earned the glorious privilege of being the priestly tribe! And this is the true character and basis of all priesthood It is one thing to be by grace a priest of God, as all Christians are, but quite another to earn our priesthood by consecration to God. It is just in the measure we have been faithful before men for God, that we can stand before God for men!
Moses says, “Who is on the Lord’s side,” and the tribe of Levi respond to the call. They separated themselves in faithfulness from their brethren who were unfaithful to God, and consecrated themselves for their priestly place to be the priestly tribe; for they had not hesitated when the moment came to choose between God and man. The Lord, so to say, never forgot it to Levi.
If I turn to Deut. 33, and examine the blessings of the tribes, I find Moses takes up two especially, Joseph and Levi. “And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor know his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.” The lights and perfections (Thummim and Urim) of the relationships of Jehovah with His people, and of His people with Jehovah, would be his. There was intercession too with the Lord; “They shall put incense before thee,” and teach Jacob His judgments and Israel His law. This was overcoming in Levi.
In the next chapter of Exodus (33), Moses took the tent and pitched it outside the camp. There was no command from God to do this, but he acted in the intelligence he had gained from being with Him. All who sought the Lord from that guilty camp came outside to this separated spot. And the cloud or presence of Jehovah came down and talked with Moses as a man talks with his friend. Here you find another action in overcoming. The camp had utterly failed. Well, says Moses, I will not go with the evil. He sees that if the Lord was to go on with the people there must be separation from the evil to Him.
It was, the most glorious moment of that blessed servant’s career. If you turn to Num. 12 you will see how the Lord appreciated the action. “My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house,” “With him will I speak face to face.”
Now I turn to another “overcomer” in Num. 25. A moment of deep corruption (had arrived, and the Levite Phinehas, with his javelin, acquired an “everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God” when corruption was spreading its foul stain on His people. It mattered not if in former days Levi and Simeon were the closest allies in wickedness (Gen. 49:5-75Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 6O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 7Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. (Genesis 49:5‑7)), now came the moment: when God was everything, and Zimri the Simeonite falls by the javelin of Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest! This was overcoming; this was the son of a priestly tribe qualifying himself under testing for his priesthood a priest amongst the priests!
If we now turn to Judg. 7, we shall find overcoming, when it was a case of natural blessing which drew others off the path. I read of Gideon’s little band who overcame. First, we find that in this day of battle with the Midianites, the army of Israel went out thirty-two thousand strong. And the Lord said, “The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, My own hand hath saved me.” It is God’s way to work in the weakness of man, “that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” Twenty-two thousand who were “fearful and afraid” returned from the host. “And there remained ten thousand. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I shall say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.”
Fear and difficulty were the tests for the first time, and those who had stood these tests, and were neither fearful nor afraid are now tested with a natural blessing, and nine thousand seven hundred fail! Only three hundred now stood the test. How many souls have received vigor and strength by passing through a strait with Christ; but when a moment of ease comes, when nature can let itself out, and the loins are ungirded, failure and disqualification ensue. See David in the days of his rejection, what a noble path of faith was his! Yet when at ease and at home, with ungirded loins, he drops into the path of gratification of self. How deep was his fall in the matter of the wife of Urias! “The time when kings go forth to battle” had arrived; “but David tarried still.” Oh what failure; what bitterness ensued!
So here with Gideon’s army. Only three hundred stood the test. Their hearts were in God’s battles of that day. They did not in the ascetic zeal of flesh refuse the blessing as it came in their way, but they were not entangled by it. That was the point. Like Jonathan dipping his staff in the honeycomb and passing on, he was refreshed. Other interests pressed on his heart, and he passed on with enlightened eye.
The test was, “Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise everyone that boweth down upon his knees to drink.” The one snatched the blessing hastily and passed on: the other partook of it at ease. Israel wanted the first, and so did God. And God delivered Israel by the three hundred self-denying men. The victory was won. And God is delivering the many at the present hour, by means of the faithful, prayerful earnest, self-denying few; while thousands are sunk in the ease of things around, in carnal enjoyment and rest.
I turn to another “overcomer” in Jeremiah. His pathway is a very striking one. Cradled, as we may say, in the lap of the finest revival that ever took place in Judah — the bright day of Josiah, which followed the drear and evil day of Manasseh.
I may remark that there were two great revivals in the history of Judah’s kings. That under Hezekiah, and that of Josiah. The first was characterized by faith. You will remember how Hezekiah prayed and spread the letter before the Lord, and the Lord came in and destroyed the army of Sennacherib. But Josiah’s revival had another characteristic, which was attention to the Word of God. The roll of the book was found, and then came the wondrous revolution effected by this judging of all things by that perfect standard.
In analogy you have these two revivals in the history of the church. That of the Reformation was characterized by bold faith, breaking up existing things; and although the word of God was in measure. the basis of appeal, things were not judged according to its standard. Rather was it a reformation of that which seemed to be the church around. In the present day, another action has come, and God is leading souls back to scripture; and close attention to the word of God gives a character to the action of His Spirit in souls at the present time.2 Everything is judged to which the veneration of centuries and the antiquity of ages lent a charm, and led souls away from scripture; and God has taken care, in His infinite, boundless mercy, that when He has commended us to scripture in these last days, we should find in it everything needed for the exigencies of every hour.
Press the word of God on people and they give you up. They say the times are changed. It might do then, but it will not do now. It needs courage to obey it, no doubt: courage with oneself, courage with others. But he that obeys God in a world like this, is owning God in a world that disowns Him. People may say they have it. But do they keep — observe His word, and not deny His name. “Be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law,” &c. It is true Christian obedience, the obedience of Christ, to have no will of our own, the new man living by, and guided by every word of God.
God is recalling His saints now to — not primitive, but original Christianity. This tells us, too, how near is the coming of the Lord.
Well, Jeremiah’s history commenced in the days of Josiah’s passover. He sang the Lamentations when that faithful king was slain. There have been men whose ministry has left a big mark, so to say, behind them; it was not so with him (unless what he has written). He was the voice of God to His poor people as long as they had an ear to hear. Look at chapter 13. What does he say? If you do not hearken to His words, I will go and weep for you before the Lord (Jer. 13:15-1715Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. 16Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive. (Jeremiah 13:15‑17)).
It was a day too when they could boast, “The temple of the Lord are these” (Jer. 7:1-111The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. 3Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. 4Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these. 5For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; 6If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: 7Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. 8Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? 11Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:1‑11)); and yet add, “We are delivered to do all these abominations.” How like the cry of some: We cannot help the evil, and it is the best thing we can find, and the like. It was a day like the present in more ways than this. The ecclesiastical party boasted that the law should not perish from the priest, nor the counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet: “Come and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words” (Jer. 18:18, 1918Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words. 19Give heed to me, O Lord, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me. (Jeremiah 18:18‑19)). The testimony of God was refused and the plea of antiquity and succession set up.
Oh how like the present hour! When there is a stand made for the testimony of God’s truth by a few simple souls, who are they who are the most hitter opponents? Those who claim to be the conservators of what is divine! Yet they alike oppose the testimony God gives, and the evidences of God’s work in others, and sink down into more complete darkness and hostility to God than before.
In Jer. 15 we find Jeremiah’s path; “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thine name, O Lord God of hosts.” He eats the word, digesting it and making it his own. Now, what was the effect? “I sat alone!” It separates him from all, to God. Then the answer of God comes; God owns the position. Mark, too, how his own faithfulness was the ground of his being used to others; he earned the place; not of course that it was not grace that bestowed it upon him, and used him too, I grant it was, fully. Now, says the Lord, “If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth. Let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brazen wall; and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the Lord.” This position of separation to the Lord, was a tower — a citadel of strength in an evil day; a position where all who loved His name could come.
If I turn to Paul in the New Testament (Eph. 4), I find that it is no vague separation to some indefinite object. I find what we have in the midst of the scene. I “beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit” &c.” There is a difference between the calling (vocation) here named, and that of Hebrews (3:1). In the latter it is individual; in the former, connected with the corporate calling of the church — “one body “ — a “habitation of God through the Spirit.” Now he says, Do you walk worthy of it. Still I must know my calling, before I can do so. Here it is plain enough. I might as well say my salvation is of no consequence, as say that my pathway is of no consequences as a member of Christ. Both rest simply and immutably on the word of God. If I accept one I am bound to accept the other. I dare not say, Christians have failed to follow what has been given, and this exonerates me. Such reasoning would not stand before the Lord for a moment. If I say, Things are in hopeless confusion. So they are, but will this state of things, will putting the blame on others, exonerate you?
Has the Holy Spirit left the church? Has the divine fact that “ There is one body and one Spirit” changed? No. He is here, and maintains the unity of Christ’s body on earth as truly as ever. The simple question is, Has He failed? But you say, It is all scattered. I am told there are thirteen hundred sects in Christendom! How can I set things to rights? Well, supposing you cannot (and it is true), you must begin with yourself, and set yourself to rights! This is the first thing. Just as Jeremiah did in his day; the word of God digested in his soul isolated him but not for long, for he was to be God’s mouth to separate the precious from the vile.
There is the intrinsic, real thing, “one body, and one Spirit” with “one hope.” Then cones the unity of profession, “One Lord, one faith (that is, one common creed, not Jew, or Pagan) and one baptism”; of course the baptism of water, which introduces into the sphere of profession. Then you get the third circle, the widest of all, and yet coming down to what is most intimate of all; “One God and Father of all; who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” He is “above all”; that is His supremacy. “Through all”; He permeates everything. Then He returns to the saints, He is “in you all”; He is in relationship with them according to the character of the name of God and Father. Just as one owns a great estate, but he dwells in the house on it, and so possesses it; so will God do in the church by-and-by. He will take possession of “His inheritance,” in and by the saints, with Christ, as He did the land of promise of old, in His people Israel.
There are thus three great circles of unity. They bear a certain analogy to those you find in John 17.
Secondly, you find the unity of divine fellowship and consequent testimony to the world around in grace (John 17:2121That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)) this was seen at the first moments of the history of the church at Pentecost.
Thirdly, the perfected unity of glory, which will be by-and-by, when the world will “know” what it might have “believed” through the second if we had been faithful (John 17:2323I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)); this will be the displayed unity of glory in the millennial day when there can be no possible failure.
To return; we find that the Holy Spirit has maintained intact this unity, no matter how men have externally broken up the church of God. Thus we find something definite to guide us; we can come together to the name of the Lord, when we have cleared ourselves from the evil and falseness and profession around us; even the feeblest few, and we find “One body and one Spirit” abides.
This “unity of ‘the Spirit” embraces all members of Christ who are not under discipline, and even Christ Himself as chief of it. It is a basis which embraces and contemplates the whole church of God, and yet in its character it must be suited to Christ. It is not merely the unity of Christians, it is comparatively easy to have this. Easy to say, Let us sink differences and be together, and then attach Christ’s name to it, and call it unity. The fashion of the day is to make a union and attach Christ to it nominally. The Spirit of God, on the contrary, attaches unity to Christ.
People reason, Are not all believers, however they walk, members of the body of Christ? I admit it most fully nay, you may say, I cannot deny it! Abstractly they are members of “one body,” and the Spirit of God maintains its unity. But when I come to practice I cannot own that all are “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit.” I speak of practice, diligently seeking to realize by the power of the Spirit that unity in which we have been formed.
What God commends us to is that unity, which embraces all members of Christ, and yet allows of nothing that is unsuited to the Chief of this unity, who is Christ Himself!
There is a marked difference between being in the abstract “one body,” and the observance of this practically.3
Let us examine what Paul says in 2 Timothy 2. He sees the house of God in ruin when he writes this letter to his beloved son in the faith. In his first epistle we find the orderings of things when things were in order; in the second, the path of the saint when things were in disorder.
In 2 Timothy 2:1919Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19), he says, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his; and, Let everyone that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” We cannot say, The whole thing is in ruin; we are delivered to this corruption. No. Fundamental truth has not changed, and although the ruin cannot be remedied, we are responsible for this. The Lord sees a great mass of profession and says, I know them that are mine in it. Then we have the responsibility of those who name His name, they are to “depart from iniquity.” This we have touched upon before. I need not say another word if souls have not gone this far. Then He takes up the analogy of a great house, with vessels to honor and dishonor; the man of God has to purge himself from these, that he may be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, like Jeremiah, and meet for his Master’s use. He cannot go on with what is untrue nor can he set things to rights; this then must be his path, to be an “overcomer” in the scene around. If you find what is right and what the Lord would have you do, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Now he goes on to say, “Flee also youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Nothing can be clearer to any heart subject to the word of God. I have to watch my own heart, lest the enemy find an open door, to ruin a path of outward separation from evil by inward unholiness. Then I find those in verse 22 with whom I can — nay, I am bound to walk. It is not a lonely pathway, for thank God there are those “that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” to be found.
This is the action of the Spirit of God amongst the saints at the present moment, separating “the precious from the vile.” The Lord has it in His heart to awaken His sleeping saints, that they may not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
Then a person may say, Why these people are open to the same difficulties as at the first when the evil came in. How will they deal with them? Well, I find in the next chapter (2 Tim. 3), “Thou hast fully known [had perfect understanding of] my doctrine, manner life,” &c. “Continue thou in the things thou hast heard of me,” &c. Paul’s “doctrine” is the resource, and never to be surrendered; and we can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and such action will have all His members in view, though they may have no intelligence of their privilege and responsibility. If walking in the truth together, the action is not merely towards each other; our action radiates towards, and has reference to every member of Christ, no matter in what association he may be found.
But it will be easily seen, that this is not standing fast as when things were in order, but overcoming and getting back to divine principles when things are in disorder.
All our path God makes so plain for us, that we need have no difficulty in an evil day. It is an evil day, but the very evil makes the path the more plain for the single eye.
The Lord gives us in full measure, then, to know what it is to overcome. We each and all have something to do; and the great thing for each is to do that for which we have been left here by Christ. We may do much and largely, and not do our first works, or that to which God has called us. See Saul; he was raised up to de liver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines (1 Sam. 9:1616To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. (1 Samuel 9:16)). He slaughtered Ammon, “so that two of them were not left together” (1 Sam. 11:1111And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together. (1 Samuel 11:11)); yet failed in what God had set him to do. We have to seek His mind, and not argue for expediency, and what we think is right. Nothing God meets so blessedly as the single eye. When our eye is single, the whole body is full of light, having no part dark; and the heart walks peacefully with God. It is due to Christ that so it should be. Do I love Him? Than let me keep His commandments. We need personal devotedness to Him, and it is humbling that we find so little of it, in days when He is imparting such light to our souls. We need the alacrity of heart that bows to His will in the most trivial thing, and it brings its own joy from Him who has said to us, “If ye love me keep my commandments.”
 
1. These two parts were taken up on two occasions, and formed the subjects of two lectures. This will account for the manner of their presentation to the reader.
2. I do not say how far of course there has been the bowing of heart in His people to the word of God, to any great extent. Still it is to scripture God commends us. We have the truth there, and “He that is of God ‘heareth us” (that is, Apostles and apostolic writings). See the address of Paul to the elders at Ephesus Acts 20: and the close of 2 Timothy 3, 1 John 4:5, 65They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:5‑6), &c.
3. If Ezra and his remnant came to Jerusalem, they found a divine center of gathering for all Israel; they could exclude none who could show their genealogy — this was needed, for it was a return. Still if Nehemiah and his company come later, it will not do to make a fresh city and temple and call it Jerusalem, because in the abstract all were Israelites. They must follow where others had been led of God, and thank God that His grace had wrought in souls before they appeared on the scene.