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There is a tendency in all our minds "to savor the things of man," so as to draw human conclusions from the direct revelation of God. The affection of Peter, as well as his understanding, forbade the thought that "the Son of the living God" should suffer. It is well for us to profit by the Lord's rebuke to Peter. The thoughts of God are not as our thoughts. And that which has originally been matter of direct revelation from God, is only really apprehended by revelation. The Holy Ghost, "the Spirit of truth," is "the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation"; and His direct teaching is needed by us to perceive the bearing of that which He himself has inspired others to write. Now the way of man is to regard that which God has revealed in the inspired writings, as subject-matter for him to speculate on, and from which he may safely draw his own inferences. Hence he stumbles at the very threshold, and instead "of obeying the truth," he makes truth subject to his own understanding. But God is pleased "to hide from the wise and prudent that which he reveals to babes." They having an unction from the Holy One, depend on the teaching of that anointing, and which is the truth, even in Him, who is the truth, Jesus Christ the true God and eternal life. But in those who have the unction, the savoring of the things of man in the things of God, is often found. Christians have tried to make out an orderly narrative from the four gospels, by harmonizing them, and thus the varied aspects in which the Holy Ghost presents Jesus to our souls is reduced to the level of human biography. But it is not the way of the Holy Ghost to present scenes to us after the manner of man's history, his way is not as our way, neither his thoughts as our thoughts. The object He has to hold up to us cannot be so touched, without disparagement to the person and glory of the Lord Jesus, and His way is not to gratify a prying curiosity, and to satisfy the mind with a readily received theory; but so to exhibit Jesus in the glory of His person and the depth of His grace, that whether it be our wants as sinners or the desires of the renewed heart, they may be fully met in Him in whom is centered the manifold wisdom and manifold grace of God. The attempt at an orderly biography entirely hinders this.
That there is precision and accuracy in the terms used by the Holy Ghost dare not be questioned. But it is His precision and accuracy, and not according to man's thoughts; and the attempt at human accuracy in that which God has revealed will hinder instead of helping our instruction. We make definitions of the terms used by the Spirit of God, instead of leaving it to Himself to define those terms. "The things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." The Scripture is emphatically the word of God; and if it be received as the word of God, it will ever be in the character of little children, in dependence on the immediate and direct teaching of the Holy Ghost Himself. Many Christians who apprehend doctrinally, as well as by experience their own vileness, so as to find the need of habitual living on Christ as their sanctification, do not so readily acknowledge their own ignorance, as to lead to habitual dependence on the Spirit of Truth to guide them into all truth. Systematic theology often leads real Christians into a measure of self-complacency, and tends to make them measure the knowledge of others by their own. The teaching of the Spirit ever humbles; and in this line also we find the apparent paradox that growth in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is accompanied with a deeper sense of our own ignorance. But so it must be when we really study Him who is the wisdom of God.
The foregoing thoughts have arisen in reflecting on the bearing of the word "leaven," as used by the Holy Ghost. In the law, that teaching-shadow of good things to come, leaven was forbidden. "Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven (Ex. 34:2525Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning. (Exodus 34:25))." Again, "No meat-offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire." Both these are shadows, of which the substance and reality is Christ Himself. In the blood of His sacrifice there was only to be found His own singular perfectness; even the very rendering it was the perfection of obedience; and, while it was a sacrifice of blood-shedding, it was, at the same time, an offering of a sweet-smelling savor unto God. And so of the meat-offering, the expression of that perfection of character in which God Himself could take complacency; it was singular; nothing could be added to it; nothing taken from it; while, even in "His own" (John 13), as to character, how much is wanting, how many flaws need to be removed.
But there are two remarkable exceptions in the law, in favor of leaven. Thus, we read: "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow 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 number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat-offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the first-fruits unto the Lord (Lev. 23:15-1715And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. 17Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:15‑17))." The body of this shadow, the reality of this feast, was manifested when the Day of Pentecost was fully come; and the Church was formally set up on earth by the coming down of the Holy Ghost from heaven. This is the real new meat-offering unto the Lord; even those who have the "first-fruits of the Spirit," and are, thereby, "a kind of first-fruits of His creatures." While our hearts rejoice in the knowledge of what the Church is as presented in Christ and through Christ "holy and unblameable, and unrebukeable" before God in heaven; we know, also, full well what it actually is; but even as it is actually with the' divine recognition of leaven in it, it is a new meat-offering unto the Lord. In the world, though it be sorely tempted and tried as it is, mourning over its own declension, ashamed and confounded and self-loathing, it is still the Church, the gift of the Father to the Son; the object of the Son's perfect love, and inhabited by the Holy Ghost. It is regarded here, while the leaven is in it, with the same love as that with which it is regarded in heaven, where it is only seen in virtue of Christ's sacrifice in the unleavened perfectness of Christ. Soul-cheering truth in such a day as this, "brethren beloved of God"! It is the one object on the earth of present divine complacency, because it is "accepted in the beloved"; and, regarded in this light, "rebuke, discipline, and chastening," are only proofs of divine love.
The law of the peace-offering is remarkable. "This is the law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. Besides the cakes he shall offer for his offering leavened bread, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace-offerings (Lev. 7:11, 1211And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. 12If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. (Leviticus 7:11‑12))." "Christ is our peace"; the joy of a believer is in Him, from Him, and through Him. In its highest aspect it is unaccompanied with leaven, "in whom, though now ye see Him not, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." But there are many occasions in which, although Christ be the source of our joy, natural susceptibilities may enter. Such might have been raised in the bosom of the Apostle, when he says to the Philippians, "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again."
When the tear trickles down the cheek on witnessing any manifestation of the grace of God in converting a soul -in answering prayer -or sending an unexpected deliverance -there is frequently found the leaven of the peace-offering. In many cases, too, when anguish of spirit has brought on bodily malady, and the soul is set at liberty through the reception of the truth, so that joy and thanksgiving take the place of mourning and depression, it can hardly be denied that the feelings of nature enter into the expression of gladness for deliverance. The source and cause of the joy is unleavened; it is Christ Himself; but there is that which accompanies the joy, partaking of the character of leaven, because natural feelings almost necessarily find their entrance. There is danger of only regarding natural emotion; and that danger has been so manifest in the downward road of the great professing body, that Christians, in avoiding that path, almost seem to forget that they have any peace-offerings. Even in the days of allowed shadows, the very shadow was perverted. The harlot can say (too faithful picture of the corrupt Church), "I have peace-offerings to-day; this day have I paid my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee (Prov. 7:6-236For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, 7And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, 8Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, 9In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: 10And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtile of heart. 11(She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 13So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, 14I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. 15Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. 16I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. 17I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 19For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: 20He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. 21With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; 23Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. (Proverbs 7:6‑23))." It is thus, too, in later days, that the prophet rebukes Israel: "Come to Bethel and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years; and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings; for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord God (Amos 4:4, 54Come to Beth-el, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: 5And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord God. (Amos 4:4‑5))." There lacked the liking for such ordinances in which the worshiper took no part himself, but which was either wholly rendered to God or the portion of the priest. But where the chief part belonged to the worshiper, there they liked to seem religious. And so, in the history of the Church, the great realities centered in the precious work and offices of Christ. The food of the quickened soul, and the ground of its joy, have been passed over, to make way for a form of godliness into which nature can readily enter, such as in the christening and wedding. Here it liketh men well to be religious; the leaven so entirely predominates, that there is no remembrance of "the unleavened cakes with oil"; no spiritual thought whatever relative to Christ; so that persons who despise Christ's work, and hate the doctrines of grace, would be grievously scandalized if they were not married, or their children baptized, after a Christian fashion. The popular meaning of the word "holiday" most significantly proves that God's permission of leaven, in the peace-offerings, has been perverted by men into the denial of the doctrine of the cross of Christ.
But this abuse ought not to hinder real Christians from having their peace-offerings. The word still remains "Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." There is and there ought to be, a holy jealousy in our souls lest we only like "sacrifices with leaven"; but we have to watch against a morbid feeling arising from this very jealousy. It is "the oil of gladness" with which Jesus anoints his fellows. There is joy in the Holy Ghost, joy from above brought into the sorrow here below; and while one who loves the Lord Jesus Christ cannot but be sorrowful at witnessing the joy of the world, so soon to be turned into sorrow, he is still to be "as always rejoicing," whether he look back to the cross, at present circumstances, or onward to the future, or upward to God. The Holy Ghost glorifies Jesus, and taking of his things and showing them unto us, turns everything to profit. And if "fearfully and wonderfully made," we find it hard to distinguish between the flesh and the spirit, Jesus above can separate the precious from the vile, and we must not deprive ourselves of the sober, holy joy of the Holy Ghost, because we cannot exactly analyze our feelings. There was leaven in the peace offerings. The characteristic of real Christian joy would be equable cheerfulness, so distinct from mere temporary excitement often followed by depression. Hence the word, Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be ye filled with the Spirit. "
When we turn to the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles, we find very interesting instruction from the use of the word leaven; whether used figuratively of doctrine or practice, or as representing the process of the little leaven which leaveneth the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:66Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6): Gal. 5:99A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)); or as embracing both these thoughts.
It is first used by our Lord in the remarkable series of Parables in Matt. 13. "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." It is the process of leavening which is prominent here -resulting in a leavened mass. The Lord had previously given the reason of His teaching in this way. "Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." The truth concealed under the parable will alone be elicited by the spiritual, and conclusions of the most opposite moral bearing will be drawn from the same parable by the acuteness of intellect, and by the spiritual mind. The same parable is like the pillar of the cloud in the night time, darkness to the Egyptians and light to Israel; it blinds the acutest intellect, but it gives deep instruction to the humble, who depend upon the teaching of the Holy Ghost. Before our eyes Christendom stands out as a leavened mass, the leavening process has gone on and is still proceeding; a result has been produced, and that result is by common consent called Christianity. "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened." There are two principal modes of corruption traceable both in the history of Israel and that of the Church; but both involving the same principle, the loss of their separateness, which was in fact their glory and their strength. Israel would be as the nations; when" to dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations" was their real glory. Israel leaned on an arm of flesh, on Egypt or Assyria, their house of bondage or prison-house, when the arm of the Lord was their strength and salvation. Thus also Israel changed their glory for that which doth not profit," adopting the idolatry of the nations into the worship of the true God. "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." It may be difficult practically to separate the two evils one from the other, either in the case of Israel, or the ut with respect to the Church, there is an intended distinction in the figure of the woman putting leaven in the mass, and "the harlot with the golden cup in her hands, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. " It is the difference between what the woman does with that which is committed to her charge, and what the woman receives for the favors she bestows; "for they give gifts to all whores" (Ezek. 16:3333They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom. (Ezekiel 16:33)). Both the household woman and the harlot help on to the rearing of Babylon, but in different ways; and the quiet plausible way of the housekeeper is less suspected, but not less dangerous, than the barefacedness of the harlot. In plain words, the gradual way in which the Church has insinuated itself into the world, is by no means so transparent an evil, as the open manner in which the Church has received the world into itself. Men are sharp-sighted enough as to the latter, and constantly inveigh against ecclesiastical cupidity, because they have, almost by common consent, made the Church to consist of ecclesiastics, and feel themselves justified in doing, for their own selfish ends, that which they condemn in an accredited ecclesiastic. Men judge their clergy by a higher standard than that by which they measure themselves; and there is but retributive justice in this, for, if the position claimed by clergy, be entirely opposed to the whole tone of Christ's teaching and that of His apostles -if they are in principle a usurpation of Christ's prerogatives -they necessarily lay themselves open to such a partial judgment; for they have deluded men into the notion that they are a distinct class. But while no eye is so discerning as that of the men of the world, as to the inconsistencies of even real Christians, especially in their pursuit of the honors of the world, they themselves are glorying in the leavened mass which they call Christianity. they speak of the Christian world with commendation; they regard such Christianity, not as a corrupt system prophetically announced, but as though it were the proper fruit of the Gospel of the grace of God. Ignorant of what the Church of the living God is, they believe the outward likeness of the kingdom of heaven to be that reality, which is the Church of the living God. The manner of the leavening process is to be discovered by attending to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Himself. If we once receive the truth, that separateness unto God is the real blessing of the true Church; we can readily conceive how that the attempt to incorporate its privileges with the world (whatever might be its influence on the world) would mar that separateness. The result produced would be something spurious, in the midst of which the real Church would be hidden; but the effect would be, that to the eyes of men the real Church would be overlooked, and the corrupt mass become invested with its privileges. When we read the solemn admonition of the Lord, spoken to His disciples in the audience of the multitude, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you;" we get at once a clue to the mode of the leavening process, which has produced that anomaly a Christian world. If we cannot state exactly the commencement, we know that the mystery of iniquity was at work in the Apostle's days {2 Thess. 2}, and that the germ of every false doctrine had then its rise in the Church. This also we know, that it is by the power of the Holy Ghost alone accompanying the preaching of the pure word of God that souls can really be converted to God, and become living stones of the temple of God. Now to such a power the Church could not openly pretend; and therefore it became necessary for the Church to make a way of investing men with all her privileges, by leading them to the external observance of things which real Christians did, but which they did because they knew the power of redemption in their own souls. It was in the power of man to change one outward form for another; and his own native powers of mind might be convinced of the folly of idolatry. He might be turned from idols without being turned to God; he might observe Christian ordinances without any spiritual understanding. He might worship with those who worshiped God in the spirit, and yet himself not know what he worshiped. And where does the responsibility rest? Surely with those who had given that which was holy to the dogs, for the "dogs" are those "without. " It was the mistaken way of doing good by those who would try to persuade themselves that they were conferring a benefit, when they knew, after all, that there was no reality in it. At best it was a pious fraud. And now when men are told that they are only Christians in name, and that their profession only enhances their responsibility, and will issue in more awful condemnation, they turn on them who thus speak the truth and "rend" them. Their very profession is the greatest possible hindrance to the preaching of the Gospel. And with respect to the precious pearls, all the doctrines of grace, and privileges of true believers, they are trodden under foot as worthless. What is the death and resurrection of Christ but mere history to the mind of the great professing body? what the privileges of sonship -so marvelous in the eyes of a believer, but a mere unmeaning name to one who has been taught it by rote in his childhood, so that he would scoff at its avowal? Esau, the profane one, is the just type of the great professing body, desiring to inherit the blessing, and yet despising the birthright. The Lord further teaches by two homely yet remarkable figures. "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish; but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." Here we are taught that the attempt at uniting new and old will end in disaster. The "new" may be good, intrinsically good in itself, which is the case here supposed, but it will neither fit in nor amalgamate with the old. The attempt to add on Christ to John the Baptist, instead of regarding their missions and ministries as in direct contrast the one with the other -in other words, the attempt to apply the way of grace as exhibited in Christ to the way of righteousness as exhibited by John, would end in thorough disregard of the righteousness and holiness of God, and fritter away the Gospel into the notion of a remedial law. The popular idea of the Gospel too plainly illustrates the result of putting the new piece to the old garment. The immutable justice and holiness of God -the effectual finished work of Christ in atonement for everlasting salvation -the total depravity of man, and the necessity of his being born again by the quickening power of the Holy Ghost are alike neutralized by the attempt at putting the new piece to the old garment. "The rent is worse." There is "a form [or outline] of knowledge and truth in the law." It tended to show man the inapproachableness of God, and his distance from God; it tended to produce a fear of God, although a slavish one. But when the breach of the law was attempted to be healed by making grace supplementary to the law, thus virtually casting contempt upon the riches of God's grace, both law and grace perished together; and the result is that conventional righteousness which makes the will of man and not the will of God to be the arbiter of right and wrong. The other attempt at forcing men who know not Christ to act on the principles of Christ, being necessarily modified by the desire to produce a present result, has issued in that anomaly -a Christian World -the wine lost because the reality and power of Christian principle is entirely lost -"the bottles perish," for the world is ignorant of its condemnation by the very fact of its being recognized as Christian. How entirely the mass is leavened, has ever been forced on the con-science of those, who, in their endeavor to maintain "a conscience void of offense towards God and towards men," have, through this strange entanglement, found fealty to Christ regarded as turbulence to the state or society, and obedience to constituted authority implicating them with falsehood and superstition. Religious acts have been enforced by civil authority and civil acts, the most foreign to the Spirit of Christ, stamped with his name Me end of all this confusion is fearful judgment; as it is written, that thou "shouldest destroy them which destroy or corrupt the earth. "
We find another force of the word leaven (Matt. 16:66Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6)). In this passage it is that which leavens, rather than the process of leavening, which appears most prominent. "Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." The ignorance of the disciples has furnished us with the sense in which the word leaven is here used. "Then understood they how he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." This doctrine is at the root of all false religion. It is the demand of man's mind to subject God to his mind, by asking other credentials of himself, than those he is pleased at the time to give. Thus Jesus Himself, the actual "sign" so long since predicted, even Immanuel, proving his mission by the most astounding miracles, is asked for a sign from heaven. The Pharisaic formalist and intellectual Sadducee alike agree in this, to have a God according to their own thoughts -a God who shall uphold them in their good opinion of themselves. The Lord draws not the line between them, but classes both under the phrase, "a wicked and adulterous generation," to whom no further sign should be given than that of Jonas the prophet, the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Himself. "He left them and departed." But the leaven is still the same, working in persons apparently the most opposite -it is the grand prevalent doctrine of unbelief, that the will of man, and not the will of God, is to decide what God is and what God ought to do, even when it is a question of the salvation of a sinner. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" is applied to morals (in 1 Cor. 5) and to doctrine (Gal. 5:99A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)); and solemn is the warning. In a congregation of Christians there can be hardly such a thing as the sin of an individual only affecting himself. "Looking diligently, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." And so of false doctrine -all are liable to mistakes and errors, and even to intellectual difficulties; but these will not amount to false doctrine, until, in the pride of his mind, a person thinks he is going to set others right, or in the spirit of party, seeks to draw away disciples after him, then "their word doth eat as a canker."
The passage, 1 Cor. 5:6-86Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6‑8), is of instructive interest; because it so fully recognizes the two aspects of the Church -its unleavened aspect -"as ye are unleavened"; in its presentation in Christ before God, and its actual aspect, as that wherein leaven is recognized as being -"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump." In the one aspect, it can ever be said, "God hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel;" in the other, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." To the understanding of man it appears a strange thing, that perfect acceptance with God should be compatible with the idea of the Lord Himself trying the heart and searching the reins. But it' is all plain to faith -and the righteous live only by faith -of what Christ is, and what he is in Christ. In Christ he sees the Church as "unleavened," and the holy discipline of God is ever unto this one object -that the actual condition of believers may more correspond to their true condition as accepted in the beloved. "Purge out therefore the old leaven; that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened; 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 the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." There is such a thing as Christian attainment, but is not the attainment of a standing before God; that is given to us in Christ Jesus. "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand." But there is attainment in the soul's progress in conformity to this standing so wondrously given to us. This attainment was the desire of the Apostle (Phil. 3), and in this his language must ever have been so long as he was in the flesh -"not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect" -for nothing would satisfy the cravings of his soul until he actually was in that perfect conformity to Christ, for which he had been apprehended of Christ. In this respect, the way of God is so different from our way, and so pre-eminently above it. It is objective. He holds out to us what He by his grace has already made us to be in Christ; and while thus comely in the comeliness which He has put upon us, there is ever the danger of our trusting in our beauty, as though we had anything out of Christ. In his infinite wisdom, while perfectly knowing the inward craving of the soul after that perfectness which is ours in Christ He Himself, by the searching probe of His word, discovers to us all that we are in ourselves -our folly, vileness and ignorance. In doing this, he makes us, in peaceful calmness, increasingly value the word, "as ye are unleavened" -at the very time he addresses to us the word, "Purge out, therefore, the old leaven."
The Present Testimony 3:476-489 (1851).