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40. "A.," London. We can only render unfeigned thanks to God for the good tidings of your Sunday School. May the blessed work prosper abundantly! The monthly prayer meeting and the conference over the word are of the utmost possible importance. We feel assured that if the superintendent and the teachers were more on their knees together before God—more drawn out in earnest united prayer for the salvation of the children, we should be cheered by more glorious results. In tins—as in so many things beside—may we not apply the pungent words of the inspired apostle James, "Ye have not, because ye ask not?" Oh! for more deep-toned earnestness! May the good Lord stir us all up more and more! With regard to practical details, dear friend, we can, with fullest confidence, leave them in the hands of our gracious Lord. May He graciously bless you, and all your dear fellow-laborers! Language utterly fails us in seeking to express our interest in the precious and interesting work of Sunday School teaching; and we feel deeply thankful for the growing interest among our friends, in that branch of the Lord's work.
41. " X.," Montreal. It would be hardly possible for an assembly to act in the case named. Scripture is totally silent on the point. For our own part, we utterly detest the idle habit to which you refer; and as to the extent to which it is carried, and the results produced, as detailed in your letter, we consider it most deplorable. May the Eternal Spirit enable all believers to keep under the body and bring it into subjection! It is sad and humbling to witness the way in which many professing Christians yield to their bodies, in the way of stimulants, narcotics, and their entire regime. In many cases it would seem as though the body were the master instead of the servant. We do not, of course, refer to cases in which really delicate health demands specific medical treatment, but to those in which no such plea can be urged.
42. " Η. N. W.," Harrow. Acts 7:3838This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: (Acts 7:38) refers to the congregation of Israel, and has no more to do with the New Testament doctrine of the Church, than the word "assembly" in Acts 19:4141And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly. (Acts 19:41). The glorious mystery of the Church is not to be found in the Old Testament, save in the way of type or shadow.
43. " Η.," London. It must be entirely a matter between your own soul and the Lord. We ought not to do anything with a doubtful mind, or anything on which we cannot, with perfect confidence, ask God's blessing. This is a great broad moral principle applicable to all Christians, in all their circumstances. As to the special case which you have laid before us, we question how far you are responsible for the use which your customers make of the article you name. There are some things which could not possibly be made a good use of; as, for instance, an infidel or immoral book; and hence we could not sell such; but we can see nothing wrong in the sale of the little flower you name. True, it may be, and is, turned to a superstitious use; but it need not be so, and was not till lately. If people in business are to be held responsible for the use which may be made of their goods, the question would be interminable. Still, dear friend, it is of the very last importance that we should exercise ourselves to have always a conscience void of offense both toward God and man. May the Lord Himself be your teacher and guide! May He keep you walking in His presence, and satisfied with Himself! Then all will be right.
44. "I.," Dublin. You seem to confound two things which are quite distinct, namely, man speaking by inspiration, and the Holy Ghost telling us what man has said. If Eliphaz and his two friends spoke by inspiration, then what is the meaning of the following words, "The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job?" We believe in the plenary inspiration of the book of Job. We have every line of it (speaking of the original) by the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost; but we do not believe that men who said wrong things, and thus evoked the wrath of God, were inspired in saying them. The same remark applies in a thousand other cases as well as to the book of Job. There was no need, dear friend, to say you are not a caviler. If we deemed you such we should not trouble to write a sentence in reply. We are always glad to meet honest difficulties, even though we may marvel at many that arc started.
45. " C," Stratford. John 15:22Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:2) teaches us that the Father, in His character as husbandman, removes from the sphere of fruit bearing the unfruitful branch.
46. " E. P.," Pembroke Dock. How could any one possibly stand in the relationship of a child of God until be is born again? We cannot understand such a question. 1 Tim. 4:11Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1 Timothy 4:1), and John 15:66If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:6), have nothing whatever to do with the security of the believer. The former refers mainly to the Romish apostasy. The latter treats of the question of fruit-bearing. It is very necessary, in interpreting any particular passage of scripture, to take in the scope and bearing of the entire context, and to view the context itself in the light of the entire circle of divine revelation. Thus we shall be preserved from one-sided and contracted views of holy scripture, which so tend to hinder our spiritual growth, and to mar our enjoyment of the whole truth of God.
47. " S. D.," Chichester. 1 Pet. 4:66For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:6) teaches us that glad tidings—the promises—were announced to those who have since passed away, in order that, by receiving them, they might live according to God in the spirit; or, by rejecting them, they might be judged as men in the flesh. The principle is the same now as then, however the character of the testimony may vary. Hence the apostle says, " For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead." Wherever a divine testimony is delivered, whether in Old Testament times or New—whether in the days of Noah or at this present time—the alternative is, "Life in the Spirit," or " Judgment in the flesh." It is thus we understand the passage.
48. "E. W.," Folkestone. Mark 9:4040For he that is not against us is on our part. (Mark 9:40) sets forth a most solemn truth for all who are out of Christ; and a great practical truth for all Christians. " Every one shall be salted with lire." This refers to the future judgment of all who die in their sins.” “Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." This refers to present self-judgment exercised by all Christians who will present their bodies a living sacrifice to God. We are delivered, by the death of Christ, from the salting with fire; and we are privileged to know the preservative power of self-judgment.
40. " W. Α.," Brooklands. The parable of the laborers, in Matt. 20, does not apply to the salvation of sinners at all. It applies to Christian service, which shall be rewarded, not according to our thoughts of its value, but according to the Master's sovereign will and pleasure. A very wholesome truth!