Scripture Truth

Table of Contents

1. Scripture Truth
2. The Scriptures of Truth
3. On Philippians 2 and 3
4. Papers on Service
5. The Authority of Scripture: No. 1 - The Necessity of a Revelation
6. The Joys of the Man of Sorrows
7. "Full Assurance"
8. Effective Service
9. "Creation": No. 1 - Introductory
10. The Word of God
11. Replies to Scripture Questions
12. Christ in the Minor Prophets: Introduction
13. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
14. The Lord and His Disciples: No. 1 - Power and Grace
15. Divine Facts
16. Papers on Service: The Condition of Men
17. The Perfections of Jesus: Prophet, Priest and King
18. The Authority of Scripture: No. 2 - The Fall
19. How May Christ Become a Living Reality to the Soul?
20. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
21. Does God Care?
22. Replies to Scripture Questions
23. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 2. Habakkuk
24. "Creation": No. 2 - God's Preface
25. A Friend Indeed
26. The Fear of God
27. The Unchanging One
28. "Your Own Salvation"
29. Missionary Hymn
30. The Mystery of God: Introductory
31. Papers on Service: The Evangelist
32. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
33. Qualities of a True Servant
34. Sacrifices
35. Various Aspects of the Death of Christ
36. The Spirit of Truth
37. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 3 - God's Center of Blessing
38. Answers to Correspondents
39. Love's Mystery
40. Outward Bound!
41. The Lord's Supper
42. "Creation": The General Idea of the Preface
43. Papers on Service: The Heart's Purpose
44. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
45. Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: No. 2
46. The Perfection of Scripture
47. How May Christ Become a Living Reality to the Soul? Second Series of Replies
48. The Mystery of God: No. 2
49. Tribulation
50. Resurrection: No. 1 - The Key to the Position
51. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 4 - Amos
52. The Authority of Scripture: No. 3 - Man Accountable to God
53. Answers to Correspondents
54. "Thou Remainest"
55. Communion, Worship, and Service
56. "Things That Please Him"
57. How May Christ Become a Living Reality to the Soul? Concluding Series of Replies
58. The Mystery of God: No. 3
59. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
60. The Authority of Scripture: No. 4 - The Heathen
61. Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: No. 3
62. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 5 - Hosea
63. The Ten Gates of Jerusalem
64. "Creation": No. 4 - Further Proof
65. Answers to Correspondents
66. "At His Feet"
67. The Present Purpose of God
68. The Mystery of God: Conclusion
69. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 6 - Jonah
70. Resurrection: No. 2 - The Believer's Peace
71. Fellowship in the Gospel
72. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
73. Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: The Peace Offering and the Sin Offering
74. "Creation": No. 5 - The Fourth Day
75. The Story of a Great Revival
76. Christian Fellowship. No. 1: The Christian's Calling
77. "One Shepherd"
78. Answers to Correspondents
79. At His Feet
80. Eternal Life
81. Papers on Service
82. The Authority of Scripture: No. 5 - The Responsible Man
83. God and Man
84. Peace: As Presented in the Gospel of Luke
85. True Knowledge
86. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
87. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 7 - Zephaniah
88. "Creation": No. 6 - The Fifth and Sixth Days
89. The Old Testament Scriptures: Their Authority and Value
90. Answers to Correspondents
91. The Dignity of the Gospel
92. Prevailing Prayer
93. The Stone of Israel
94. "Not of the World"
95. Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: Adam's Deep Sleep
96. "Alive for Evermore"
97. The Authority of Scripture: No. 6 - The Man of God's Counsels, Part 1
98. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
99. "Part With Me": The Constancy of the Heart of Christ About His Own
100. Resurrection: No. 3 - God's Victory
101. "Creation": No. 7 - Man
102. "All's Well"
103. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 8 - Nahum
104. The Fatherhood of God
105. Papers on Service: An All-Around Ministry
106. The Morning Star
107. He Maketh the Storm a Calm
108. "Praising and Blessing God"
109. Thoughts on Service
110. Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians
111. The Law of Increase
112. Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: Coats of Skin
113. Resurrection: No. 4 - The Test Case
114. Prayer
115. "Who Will Show Us Any Good?"
116. The Gospel in the World: The Mission, The Missionary, and the Field
117. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 9 - Micah
118. The Authority of Scripture: No. 7 - The Man of God's Counsels, Part 2
119. Answers to Correspondents
120. Suffering and Glory
121. God Our Shield
122. The Cross
123. Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: Abel's Offering
124. Resurrection: No. 5 - The Pattern of the Believer's Place
125. The Gospel in the World: No. 2 - The Early Centuries After Christ
126. Bible Study - 2 Thessalonians
127. Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Will Provide
128. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 10 - Haggai
129. The Son of God
130. Correspondence
131. The Ark of the Covenant
132. Answers to Correspondents
133. The Cream of Christianity
134. Mercies. (Selected).
135. The Gospel in the World: No. 3 - The Middle Ages
136. The Life of the Christian
137. The Authority of Scripture: No. 8 - The Resurrection
138. His Care and His Delight
139. The Sluggard
140. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 11 - Zechariah
141. The Knowledge of the Father
142. A Much-Maligned Coin
143. Bible Study - 2 Thessalonians
144. Baptism
145. Atonement
146. Faith
147. Hymn
148. Answers to Correspondents
149. "Thou Art the Same"
150. Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 12 - Malachi
151. Fragment on Repentance
152. A Hawthorn Tree in the Dreary Winter
153. The Knowledge of the Father
154. Thoughts on Service
155. The Gospel in the World: No. 4 - Modern Times
156. Bible Study - 2 Thessalonians
157. God's Purpose
158. The Authority of Scripture: No. 9 - Propitiation
159. Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: Satan's Overthrow
160. "Grace for Timely Help"
161. Resurrection: No. 6 - The True Beginning
162. Answers to Correspondents
163. Unchanging Love

Scripture Truth

The title of our magazine will be sufficient evidence that we wholeheartedly accept the Scriptures as given by inspiration of God, and as such we hold that they have authority to bind the conscience, and are the final court of appeal in every question of doctrine and conduct. They are replete with comfort for the saints of God, and are all-sufficient for correction and instruction in the way of righteousness; so that by them the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. The Scriptures will always be prized by the children of God, not only because they come from God, but because they speak of Christ, and indeed it is only as this is seen, and Christ is loved, that they are understood.
We shall endeavor, as time and space permit, to draw out from the Scriptures the things concerning Christ, believing that the surest way of preservation from the seductive movements, doctrines, and spirits that abound, is occupation with that which is good; “for who is he that shall harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good.”
All good is centered in, and flows from Christ; and it is as He is paramount in the lives of His people, that they are happy themselves and useful to others. Then Christianity becomes a reality — no longer visionary, but practical; no longer mere doctrine for the mind (important as that is), but power in the life.
We have a link — an imperishable link — with all who love this living Lord and Savior in sincerity and truth. In His name we greet you. May we seek earnestly to build ourselves up in our most holy faith, to pray in the Holy Spirit, and to keep ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

The Scriptures of Truth

(Extracted)
We cannot be reminded too frequently and too emphatically of the authority of Scripture, and of the relation in which every Christian stands to the Word of God.
According to the Scriptures, Christ died, and according to the Scriptures, Christ rose again, and all divine truth which is necessary and salutary for us, is taught by the Spirit through the prophetic and apostolic word.
The Scriptures are above every age: for they were written by the Eternal Spirit; and our wisdom is to receive Scripture teaching with absolute childlike faith, and to receive it according to its own method, not mixing it up with the enticing words of human wisdom, and the thoughts and terminology of the schools.
The Scriptures reveal Christ, and they judge everything that prevents our walking by faith in Him. Solemn and stern are their voice, but the blessed result to those who tremble at the Word of God, is that they are directed to look off unto Jesus, who is the way of life to the wise, and thus they are kept from the evil that is in the world.

On Philippians 2 and 3

H. Nunnerley
Going down and pressing up.
Philippians 2:3, 5-8
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Philippians 3:7-10
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count-them but dung, that I may win Christ.And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection ... .”
THE secret of peace among Christians is found in Philippians 2, and the secret of progress in Philippians 3.
If strife and vainglory disturbed the peaceful circle at Philippi, Paul directed their thoughts to Christ in humiliation; or if earthly greatness attracted them, he turned them to Christ in glory.
In these two chapters there are two mountain peaks with the valley of death between.
How graphically the apostle brings before them in Philippians 2 the mind which was in Christ Jesus. He begins with the lofty height whence Christ came. Subsisting ever in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Seraphim veiled their faces as they cried one to another, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Angel and archangel did homage to Him as Lord and Master; their honor, as their joy, was to do His bidding. His dwelling was in light unapproachable-a light too bright for mortal sight. Very God in form and substance.
The first step in His downward pathway was to lay aside the form of God. The net to take upon Him the form of a servant; but His Person was unchanged. A monarch does not cease to be the same mighty potentate when his robes of State and throne of dignity are laid aside. Christ did not cease to be what He was before when He became flesh and dwelt among us.
In days like these, when His Manhood is exalted at the expense of His Godhead, we cannot insist too much on His deity, or dwell too fully on the incommunicable glory of His Person. Mighty in power, and wonderful in working, He — who in the form of a servant became a real, true, blessed man, made of a woman — was, is, and ever will be, “God over all, blessed forever!”
Scripture constantly reminds us of this. The smitten Shepherd is Jehovah’s fellow. The betrayed Savior, crucified in weakness, is the great I AM. The lowly Man, who sat wearied on Sychar’s well, is the “Creator of the ends of the earth, who fainteth not, neither is weary.” The Man whose days were shortened, and strength weakened, is the same whose years have no end. He who carries the lambs in His bosom, has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand. He who slept in the storm could still that storm with a word. The Person is one, though varied in His circumstances, form, and condition. Jesus and Jehovah are one in essence and being.
Going downward, and passing by all angelic beings, He took the form of man — a lower grade of creation than angels. He emptied Himself, and became the dependent One. He who had been accustomed to command, now stooped to obey. Never was obedience like His! His meat was to do the Father’s will. His life was lived on account of the Father. In a world where everybody sought to go up, He sought to go down.
He was meek and lowly in heart. He lived a life of constant dependence, unflinching obedience, perfect confidence, and unbroken trust. He knew the blessedness of the man who trusteth in the Lord. His ear was open morning by morning to hear as a learner. He could wait two days before going to the grave of Lazarus; but having got the commandment, all the enmity, hatred, and murderous plans of the Jews could not stop Him.
This is the Man whose mind is to be in us. This is the corrective for strife and vainglory, and the secret of practical unity. We have no height from which to descend, no reputation to lay aside, no stoop to make. It ill becomes us then to seek to go up where He went down.
The self-emptied One not only became the dependent One, but also the humbled One. What a mighty stoop this was! a stoop expressing more fully the mind which was in Him. The law had said that obedience to its precepts would ensure to the obedient one, continuance of life; then death could not claim Him. He had a right to live, for He had magnified the law and perfectly shown what a man should be for God. He had neither inherent nor contracted sin. He could have rightly claimed when His life on earth was finished, a convoy of angels to carry Him back to the heights of glory. Instead, He chose the way of death, for obedience lay there.
What a death! A cross between two malefactors. He, the only one who needed not to taste death, voluntarily descended into the lower parts of the earth, and endured a malefactor’s cross with all its shame and ignominy. What a pathway! Lower and lower, down and down, less and less, until He reached the deepest and darkest point of degradation.
Disobedience brought Adam into death.
Obedience brought Christ into death.
Disobedience in Eden grasped at the highest.
Obedience brought the high and lofty One down to the lowest.
Going down is not pleasant to nature. Giving up, and giving way, is that to which we are all averse. It is only as Christ fills the vision of our souls, and the dove which rested upon Him in His earthly pathway controls, that peace, unity, and like mindedness will form and mold a company of saints. They all kept rank in David’s day, because all were of one heart to make David king.
Philippians 3 presents Christ Jesus once more in the place from whence He came. He left the mountain top to come down, has passed through the valley of death, and has now ascended again.
He is the same Person, but how changed His circumstances from those which were His when here! He is still a Man, but Man set in the highest dignity. He is no longer in degradation. The humbled One is now the exalted One. The shameful cross, and the borrowed tomb, have been exchanged for the glorious throne of the Majesty on High. The despised Nazarene now bears a name to which beings heavenly, earthly, and infernal must bow. None humbled himself as He. None has been exalted as He. The glorious height, where the emptying began, has welcomed Him back again; the Man Christ Jesus is Lord of all.
He still retains a servant’s form, and is as truly and really a man as in the days of His flesh, but man in new accompaniments of being. Weakness and weariness over, He is the same Jesus in a glorious spiritual body. He that descended is the same also that ascended. No change in the Person. A Man is in the glory of God, and yet Himself is the God of Glory. Paul calls Him “My Lord,” and esteemed the knowledge of Him to be the very highest knowledge; so the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus was that upon which his whole being was set.
Paul could not empty himself, but he could strip himself. One after another the rags of self-righteousness were cast on the dust heap. Forgetting the things that were behind, he pressed on toward the mark, the prize of the high calling of God. Christ Jesus had laid hold of him, he longed to lay hold of Christ Jesus; to grasp all that for which he had been apprehended.
If the descent carried his blessed Master to a self-sacrificing death, Paul was willing to travel that road, if he could but be in company with Him. If the ascent carried Christ into a scene of glory, Paul would gladly part with everything that would bind him to earth and the flesh, in order to join his Master there. He could weep for those whose minds were set on earthly things, for his was engrossed with things of heaven.
Devoted servant of a once humbled and now exalted Lord, his word to us is “Follow Me.” His conversation was in heaven, his living links were there.
It was from thence he looked for his Lord, as Savior, so that in every way he might be perfectly like his Master, in a body fashioned like to His glorious body.
May we learn from Him how to go downwards, and how to press upwards.
How to tread Christ’s pathway here, and seek Him in glory there. How to follow in humiliation, and reach Him in exaltation. Thus, and thus only, shall we be free from strife, vainglory, and earthly-mindedness, and walk in peace with one another.
Let us remember, Christ in humiliation is our Exemplar.
Christ in exaltation is to be our Magnet.
The glorified One would produce in us the gracious traits of the once humbled One.
The true Christian is an anomaly, he must go down and go up at the same time, nor can be exalted but as he humbles himself.
“O patient, spotless One I our hearts in meekness train,
To bear Thy yoke, and learn of Thee, that we may rest obtain.
O fix our earnest gaze so wholly, Lord, on Thee,
That, with Thy beauty occupied, we elsewhere none may see.”

Papers on Service

Every Christian is the bondsman of Jesus Christ; simply accept that, and it will be a great help to you. Has Christ the right to you? to all yours? Yes, you are His slave. Paul delights to call himself bond-slave. People in their natural amiability talk of the emancipation of slaves, but they carry it much further, they emancipate themselves. There is a very great claim connected with being a slave. Your master has full right over you. All yours belongs to the Lord. If you are a slave you cannot claim anything for yourself. Well, this is a great principle to get hold of, and you do not understand service until you do.
Very often we act as if we thought we were volunteers, that we may serve or not, just as we please. Not at all! You are slaves and have no option.
If you are a slave, you have no right to do anything but at the dictation of your master. “Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” He has bought us (therefore He is the Savior of the body in that sense), and you ought to be glad that He has; the more you dwell on it, the more pleased you will be to be His slave. We ought to be able to answer all who ask, why do you do so and so? I am doing it righteously, I am Christ’s bondsman to do His pleasure; not what I like, but what He likes. To establish this turn to 1 Corinthians 7:22-23. “He that is called in the Lord, being a servant (slave), is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the servants of men.”
You should be glad that you are a slave, because He is such a wonderful Master. It is here believers fail. They do not start with the fact, that they have a Master, who has a full right over their whole life. It is not what you think you can spare Him. If you are honestly and fairly in His hands as His slave, you may be quite certain He will take much better care of you than you could take of yourself.
People talk of fidelity, but do they begin with fidelity to Christ? If you are not right with Christ, you will be feeble elsewhere. If you are not right at the top, how can you be right anywhere else?
BE not so anxious to give out, that you never take in. Be not in so much hurry to do, that you forget to be. This is the haste that makes no speed. Old Nat had a large wood pile before him, and he sawed very hard to make that pile smaller. His saw needed sharpening and re-setting so badly, that it was dreadful work to make it go at An honest neighbor stepped up to him, and said, “Nat, why don’t you get that saw sharpened? If you got that put to rights, you would do a great deal more than you are doing.” “Now then,” replied Nat, “don’t you come bothering here, I have quite enough to do to saw that pile of wood, without stopping to sharpen my saw.”
It is needless to point the moral of that anecdote; take note of it, and in future act accordingly. It is a waste of time, not an economy of it, to dispense with study, private prayer, and due preparation for your work.
Those who serve the Lord have more cause to pray and read their Bibles, than any other people in the world. It was a very wet day the last time I was at Cologne, and I occupied a room in the hotel, which presented me with a highly picturesque view of the public pump. There was nothing else to see, and it rained so hard that I could not shift my quarters; so I sat and wrote letters, and glanced at the old pump.
People came with pails for water, and one came with a barrel on his back, and filled it. In the course of an hour that individual came several times; indeed, he came almost as often as all the others put together, and always filled up his vessel. I rightly concluded that he was a seller of water, and supplied other people, hence he came oftener and had a larger vessel than anyone else.
And that is precisely our condition. Having to carry the living water to others, we must go oftener to the well; and we must go with more capacious vessels than the general run of Christians. Look then, ye who would be Christ’s servants, to your personal piety, and draw largely from the source and spring of all good.
Going through the famous factory of Sevres the other day, I noticed an artist painting a very beautiful vase. I looked at him, but he did not look at me; his eyes were better engaged than in staring at a stranger.
There were several persons at my heels, and they all looked at him, and made various observations, yet the worker’s eye never moved from his work. He had to paint the picture on that vase, and what benefit would he get from noticing us, or from our noticing him? He kept to his work. We would fain see such concentration and abstraction in every man who has the Lord’s work to do. “This one thing I do.” Some frown, some smile, but this one thing I do. Some think they could do it better, but this one thing I do. How they could do it may be their business, but it certainly is not mine.

The Authority of Scripture: No. 1 - The Necessity of a Revelation

James Boyd
No. 1. — The Necessity of a Revelation
It is late in the history of the world to be going into the question of the origin of a book, which began to be written about four thousand years ago, and the writing of which extended over half that time; but late or early, the question seems with some people to be still undecided, and open to debate; and certainly the antiquity of the dispute does not in the least lessen its importance, neither does it tend to diminish the ardor of the combatants, nor the interest of the onlookers.
It is a question which no thoughtful person will ever relegate to a secondary place in man’s pursuit of knowledge, for the tremendous claim made by the Book itself, causes the question of its title to that claim, to take the precedence of all others. Nor are men really able to treat the question with indifference. The sang-froid which characterizes some who profess to have settled the matter in favor of thick darkness, as opposed to a revelation from God, bears the stamp of being only skin-deep, and not the outcome of honest conviction.
It scarcely needs to be asserted that the leaders of the world bear the Book no goodwill, but rather the opposite, and therefore has it been subjected to ceaseless hostility, and to a criticism more fierce than that which has fallen to the lot of any other writings. It has been, and is, more fervently loved, and more intensely hated, than all the rest of the world’s books put together; and the strange thing about its history is, that the house of its supposed friends is the place where it has been most sorely wounded. Those who have been foremost in their protestations of zeal in the service of its Author have shown themselves to be its worst enemies, and in their custody it had to remain for ages “a prisoner in bonds.” How it survived the persecutions to which it was exposed, is almost as great a miracle as is the way in which it was given to man.
Thank God, the days of its incarceration are over, and it is free to tread its pathway of blessing throughout the wide world. In the days of Luther a moral resurrection took place through the grace of God. The German monk who eventually shook the throne of the proud bishop of Rome, saw in the dim cloister, through its sacred page, a light above the brightness of the sun; and when his voice arose heralding in the ears of men, the life-giving words of the dusty roll, the wheel of the papal chariot became scotched forever, the powers of darkness were alarmed, and hell stood aghast before the boldness of this daring man. The power of God made itself felt, and the tiara trembled on the brow of him who trafficked in the souls of men, as he saw the hope of his gains vanishing from before his eyes. Men began to speak their minds more openly, the priestly bondage under which they had groaned was no longer discussed in whispers, and even kings began to breathe more freely, for the epistle of the apostle to the Romans now clung at the throat of the Italian prelate. Such is the power of this most wonderful Book.
It declares itself to be of heavenly origin: the very words of the living God, breathed into the hearts and minds of His servants, and penned by them as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. No other communications on earth make such claim to universal homage. The writers dive away back into the past eternity, before sun, planet, or attendant satellite gleamed forth upon the brow of heaven; and bring to light the secret counsels of the eternal Father. It shows us those counsels worked out in time by the eternal Son, in the power of the eternal Spirit; until the final result of all the activities of the triune God, bursts upon our vision in a new heaven and a new earth, crowned with the glory of the tabernacle of God, in the midst of redeemed creation, in which righteousness shall dwell forever.
It tells us of the beginning of all things, of the fall of the devil, of the fall of man, of God’s gracious dealings with the latter when fallen, of the love of God, of the death of Christ, of His resurrection, of His session at the right hand of God, of His coming again, and of the subjugation of everything to Himself.
It leads the heart and mind into things unseen, and regales the soul with unutterable delights in the sanctuary of eternal love. It opens up before our vision the blackness of darkness, the God-forsaken region of despair, where ceaselessly rage the tempests of almighty wrath. It brings to light the corrupt God-hating heart of fallen man, and the infinite and holy love of a Savior-God. It guides us to the fountain of all good; and shows us, but brings us not nigh, the source of evil. It describes the ceaseless conflict between these two opposing forces adown the black history of a fallen world, until the day in which the battle is brought to a conclusion by the triumph of good; and the heavens and the earth are purified from the presence of evil, which finds its place, with the Devil who brought it into existence, in the lake of fire, the eternal abode of that “liar” and “murderer.”
It declares that God is love. Creation presents Him as infinite in wisdom and power, but we see evil rampant around us, and man beneath its merciless hoof. There are ‘ traces of His goodness everywhere; and in the midst of its unutterable woes, gladness of heart visits the most unfortunate. But the fact that the griefs of the human race are so freely interspersed with innumerable joys, only makes the puzzle of man’s existence all the more intricate and difficult of solution. If it were all evil one would be in measure justified: in attributing the creation to the caprice of a demon, and were it all good the aspersion of the true character of God would be unpardonable; but to find these two principles everywhere, and mixed together in a struggling and hopeless melee, with evil ever apparently triumphant, is bewildering to the finite mind.
The woes of the human race are beyond the possibility of exaggeration, and seem to rise up at every turn as a witness against the notion of infinite goodness; for if God be all powerful, how is it that for so many millenniums His creature has been left in this corner of His creation to welter un-pitied in his wretchedness? Can the Creator be indifferent to the woes of His creature? Who can tell us? Is there no voice from Him?
I am certain if there is no revelation from God, there is no God. But the whole universe around me bears witness to the reality of a Creator, and although the visible things do not contain the secret of the nature of Him who brought them into existence, there is enough of evidence borne by them, to convince every intelligent being that He, without whom a sparrow cannot fall to the ground, could not leave His poor creature without some ray of light as to how he stands with respect to His holy and righteous will.
The idea of a universe such as surrounds us, without a Creator, is to me unthinkable; and that man should be brought forth to fall a prey to his wretched lusts, and to grope his weary and painful way to the grave in suffocating gloom, squabbling with his fellows about questions upon which none can boast of having one ray of light, and which never can be solved, is just as unthinkable. I find myself so formed that I am unable to get away from the idea of a Creator, and One with whom I have to do; I am also impressed with the fact that my Maker is beneficent, for of this I see abundant traces on every hand; and I am sure of this also that He has not left man in any clime without witness as to His beneficence. I have tried to get away from the thought of a Being with whom I had to do, and I have not been able; I have done my best to get out of my mind the conviction that He has spoken, and in this I have been likewise unsuccessful. Where, and how, He has spoken, is another matter, but spoken He has, of this I am convinced.
Man must have some light, and God will give it to him, even though he is certain to be unfaithful to it. Without testimony I am sure God will never leave him. I am not at present saying from whence such thoughts came to me; I am only speaking of the way I seem to be impressed as I look around me, and meditate upon that which I see taking place on the earth. We would be worse off than the beasts had we no light from God, for they are not burdened with the terror of having to do with Him, and we are. The question is not, Has God spoken? but, How?
I shall be told at once that it is not by the Bible. But I must ask, Why not by the Bible? Shall I be met with the stereotyped objection that it is full of contradictions, and is altogether wrong as to the plan of the universe; that it makes it geocentric, and has spoken of the earth as a plain. It has done nothing of the kind. It is so carefully written, that its statements never jar upon the mind of the most advanced scientist, nor do they cause the most illiterate to move in the direction of astronomical discovery. But may I ask, what impression does the universe convey to the mind of the ordinary mortal, as he looks abroad into the starry night from his cottage door? Will he not conceive of the earth as a flat plain, and the dome of heaven as a hemisphere, resting upon the rim of the earth? Could He who is infinite in wisdom have made the visible things no other way? The truth is that the heavens and the earth are so ordered that moral impressions are conveyed to the mind. Everything away from earth is upward and above man, and man is made to look upward to God who has His dwelling-place in the heavens. The Bible has a way of its own, by which it leaves these impressions undisturbed. If it gave other impressions, and taught the Newtonian theory, we might with some show of reason conclude that the God of creation is not the God of the Bible. I am not attempting to prove by this, that the Bible owes its origin to the Creator, I am only showing, that if the Bible leaves undisturbed the impression that creation itself gives to the naked eye of the ordinary observer, that is no proof against the divine origin of the Scriptures.
There are many other objections advanced by the infidel mind of man, but they are all equally worthless, and have been disposed of again and again. Man naturally hates the light, and this is why the Bible is ever the great object of attack. But though man may, and does, hate the light, it has come into this dark world for the salvation of his immortal soul. What other light has he which shows him God fully declared? He is of few days and full of sorrow, and in the end has to submit to death, and where it will land him he knows not. It is a foe fronted with terror, blind to the sight of misery, deaf to all entreaties, and dumb with regard to where it conducts its victim. It has been in the world for nigh six thousand years, and men know as little about it today, as they did at the beginning. Men hope it will lead to something better than the present life, but what proof have we that the region into which it leads, is not more replete with horrors than is the one out of which it conducts us? Were it an angel of light sent to escort us into a scene of joy and endless tranquility, would its aspect be so full of terrors, or its weapon so dreaded? Surely not. We need some light from God, for death gives us no reason to suppose that, however bad it may be here, it is any better beyond. A beneficent Creator will not leave His creature without testimony. A revelation is a necessity both for His glory and our blessing; and this revelation we gratefully recognize in the Scriptures.

The Joys of the Man of Sorrows

J. C. Trench
“Behold, and see If there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, where with the Lord has afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger!” (Lam. 1:12).
It is precious for us, as we think of the Lord Jesus in the midst of contempt and rejection while here on earth, to learn somewhat of those things which gave deep joy to His heart, and which sustained Him in that pathway. Let us look at a few of them.
1. Doing the Father’s Will
“Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God” (Psa. 40:7-8).
“I came down from Heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38).
“I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29).
Here was the motive that led Him to leave His glorious heavenly abode, and become a homeless Stranger in this sinful world, and to suffer, bleed and die. He delighted to do the Father’s will.
2. Seeking and Saving the Lost
In carrying out the will of God, our blessed Savior found special joy in seeking and saving lost sinners. When, at 30 years of age, He emerged from His long retirement in the humble domestic circle of Nazareth, and entered upon His public service and testimony, He at once identified Himself with the movement so distinctly “of heaven,” evidenced in that wonderful revival in the land, which led to multitudes of convicted sinners wending their way from every quarter down to Jordan, to hear the preaching of John the Baptist, calling them to repentance, and declaring the knowledge of salvation by the remission of ‘their sins.
Mark well, this was the Lord’s first appearance to the world; and this, His first public act, is in the highest degree significant, as intentionally demonstrating in what direction lay His interests and His sympathies. Not with the mighty, the wise, and the noble, not with the self-righteous and the self-satisfied, but with the poor, the brokenhearted, the captive of sin, the blind and the bruised, as His first sermon, given us in the next chapter (Luke 4) expressly declares.
And how magnificent is the joyful outburst of responsive delight with which the Father, from the opened heaven, acclaims Him, as He beholds Him thus engaged; while at the same moment the Holy Spirit descends upon Him, and the voice is heard, “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
Later on, when publicans and sinners, attracted by His grace, drew near to hear Him, and the Pharisees taunted Him, saying, “this man receiveth sinners,” we are permitted to hear His defense.
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it upon his shoulder, rejoicing” (Luke 15:4-5).
He was the Shepherd, who, finding His sheep, layeth it upon His shoulders rejoicing; nor does He rejoice alone, for, when He cometh home, He calleth His friends and His neighbors together, saying unto them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.”
And do we not remember what Jesus said to His disciples, when they found Him without food after His interview with the poor outcast at the well of Sychar? “Master, eat,” they say to Him; to which He replied, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” How these precious words let us into a little of the deep sweet joy He had in bringing salvation and living water to one unhappy soul I Reader, are you altogether a stranger to such joys?
3. Revealing the Father
But it was not only in the seeking and the saving of the lost, that He found joy, but also in that which is connected with their subsequent spiritual enlargement and growth.
In one of the darkest periods of His earthly pathway, when His dear servant John the Baptist, wearied with long imprisonment, had begun to doubt Him, as shown in the question sent to Him, “Art Thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”; when cities where most of His mighty works were done, repented not; when He was denounced as a gluttonous man and a winebibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners; when all things looked dark and forbidding and sorrows pressed hard on His loving heart; could He then find any joy? Hark!
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.”
“All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.”
And He turned Him unto His disciples, and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see.” (Luke 10:21-23).
Now what was it that gave Him joy in that dark hour?
There was, on the one hand, the intimacy and communion in which He Himself ever walked with His Father, which no adverse influence could touch; and, on the other, the joy of knowing that the gracious work of bringing others — the “babes” — into this intimacy was unhindered — a work in which He and His Father were one. Babes, if they know but little else, “know the Father,” and this is, after all, to know very much. But, mark, Jesus rejoiced that these blessed things were revealed to babes, while the wise and prudent of this world remained in darkness as to them. And He rejoices still that you and I should know His Father as our Father, and His God as our God, and that we should nestle closely in His bosom. What a sweet and peaceful retreat amid the storms and stress of this poor world! Reader, do you know anything of this joy, which Jesus knew to the full?
4. Seeking a Bride for Himself
But, if it were possible, the Lord has still a deeper joy in finding the treasure, which lay hid in the field (i.e. the world), “which,” to quote the passage, when he “hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matt. 13:44). This treasure, which the Lord saw hid in the world, was the Church, which is formed of all His redeemed ones since the day of Pentecost, and baptized by one Spirit into one body. It is to Him a treasure so great, that, for the joy of securing it, He shed His life’s blood, and bought the field; and, as the next parable indicates, the Church was to Him as the pearl of great price was to the merchantman, who, to secure it, went and sold all that he had and bought it. So the blessed Lord has not only bought the world for the sake of the treasure, but He has redeemed us to Himself by His blood, that He might win the Church for Himself forever.
And fast the moments are speeding us on to the time, when His chiefest joy will no longer be a prospective one, but He shall come to claim His Church, which is His Bride, for she, next to His Father, has the deepest place in His heart. Long before time began to run its course — before all worlds — the Father gave the Church to Jesus, as tilt: great expression of His love to Him. She is the object of the purposes and counsels of God, from all eternity, and is destined to be for the delight and glory of Christ forever and forever.
When the rebellion of Adam’s race culminated in the murder of the Son of God, proving, its hopelessness and resulting in its condemnation, God began, by the power of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven at Pentecost, to form the Church, gathering those who form it, out of the world by the gospel, and uniting them to the exalted Christ as their Head.
It is of the Church, made up of every redeemed one, that it is written:
“Christ also loved the Church, and gave Him self for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27)
He has been nourishing and cherishing her, as His own body, throughout her sad and lengthened history, but soon He will come — the day of His patience over: and with a shout of joy — the glad enrapturing shout of hope fulfilled — He will descend from heaven and claim her as His Bride. Then, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead shall be raised, and the living, changed into His likeness, shall meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-17); and He will take the Church into her destined place in the Father’s house in heavenly glory, to be forever with the Lord. Hallelujah I May God stir up His saints to more fully realize the love and longing of the Lord for them, so that, when He says, “Surely I come quickly,” the glad response of their hearts may be “Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
5. The World to Come
Hebrews 12:2, speaks of yet another joy:
“Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This, I judge, embraces all that the Lord Jesus was to enter upon as the result of His resurrection from the dead, and His being exalted as Man to the right hand of God, to become the center of the universe — all that which the assembly of the first-born ones, the spirits of just men made perfect (Old Testament saints), the angelic hosts, restored Israel, and the universal gathering (Heb. 12:22-23), will, each in their respective ways and spheres, contribute to, in the “dispensation of the fullness of times,” when everything in heaven and earth will be headed up in the Lord Jesus Christ. But who could limit “the joy that was set before Him?” May it not look on further still to the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and where God shall be all in all?
6. The Rewarding of His Servants
But the Lord will have yet a further joy in rewarding those, who have been faithful to Him in His absence. After the rapture of the saints, there will be the manifestation in glory of all, and “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” “whether it has been good or bad” (1 Cor. 3:8-15; 2 Cor. 5:10); and glad shall we all be to see burned up everything which did not meet with His approval. But all that has been the result of love to Him will stand, even though it be but a “cup of cold water” given for His dear Name’s sake, sand we may be sure that the reward at the loving hands of our blessed Master — who always magnified, beyond recognition, the little service of His poor disciples — will altogether exceed our highest expectations.
Happy indeed will it be for those who are privileged to hear from His lips the inspiriting words, “Well done, good and faithful servant:... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”... (Matt. 25:21). It is the Lord’s own joy that the servant is called to enter.
May each dear servant be found: at his post, seeking more earnestly to live to Him, until that bright day when we shall hear His shout calling us Home.
“Lead me, O Shepherd with the stricken side,
And wounded palm,
Beside Thy waters calm.

My soul is weary by the sorrowing tide
Of sin’s dark sea:
Lead me along with Thee.

Lift me afar from passion’s fevered cry,
And bid depart
The pride that blinds my heart lie,
With shame confest,
Thy songs of quiet rest.”

"Full Assurance"

Edward Cross
Its Significance as found in the New Testament.
The places in which this expression occurs are, Hebrews 7:11, “full assurance of hope;” Hebrews 10:22, “full assurance of faith;” Colossians 2:22 “full assurance of understanding;” and 1 Thessalonians 1:5, “with much assurance.”
The true meaning of the word “plerophoria,” translated “full assurance,” is bringing the matter to its fullness or completeness.
It is found only in the New Testament, and in patristic writings. It is not in the language of common life. The thing represented by it having no place in the world, the world has no need of the term: but with the coming of the gospel a new light is presented to faith, and a new term is provided to express it. A cognate word in a verbal form “plerophoreo” occurs also in the following passages, which we shall consider in the order in which they occur, placing in italics the words which are equivalent in the authorized version.
Luke 1:1. — “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us.” Here is a most important statement, made by one who was a contemporary of the events which he records, and who, speaking in the name of others, who were eye-witnesses of these things informs us that they were “most surely or fully believed among them.” It is the fashion today to throw doubt on all that rests accredited on the authority of Scripture, as though its testimony was insufficient; but, apart altogether from the fact of its being “divinely inspired,” no testimony could be of a higher order than that of men who were “eyewitnesses” of the facts and “ministers of the word,” and who, having no worldly object to gain thereby, but contrariwise standing to lose all they had, even life itself, being opposed, as they were, both by Jewish bigotry and by Pagan hate, still saw enough in what passed before their own eyes, to hand down to us in this incontrovertible manner, the statement that these things were “most surely believed” among them.
Romans 4:24. — The same word is used of Abraham who was “fully persuaded that what God had promised He was able also to perform.” In this fact he found strength in faith and thereby “gave glory to God.” True, the promise was a mighty one, — as the stars of Heaven for multitude, “so shall thy seed be.” And how was this to be accomplished? By what power was it to be effectuated? The forces of nature were dead; all human hope had failed, as a river dried up from its source. What then remains for him? The promise of God and His power-power that could quicken the dead, and call things that are not as though they were.’ This was the “full assurance” of his soul: by this he gave “glory to GOD:” and therefore, the comment of the Spirit upon it runs, “it was imputed to him for righteousness.”
Romans 14:5. — Similarly when questions of doubtful disputations arise, and one man is weak in the faith, while another is of a different cast of mind, the strong is apt to despise the weak the weaker to judge the stronger. Thus will works in both, and God is left out by them. In such matters, and there are many such, where there is no explicit scripture for definite direction, each should let the other alone to the exercise of his own judgment before God, and not meddle in what he could not settle for another’s conscience. How naturally we fall to meddling in matters other than our own! how anxious we are to press our views on other people, and after all, what should we gain if we succeeded? We should but falsify our own position, by assuming an authority we do not possess, and we should ruin the conscience of our weaker brother by coming between his soul and God. How simple and how perfect is the Scripture, and how completely it settles all such cases: “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
2 Timothy 4:5. — Again, in view of the evil days depicted by the apostle, when teachers and taught would forsake the truth and turn aside to fables, Timothy is exhorted to that sobriety and watchfulness of mind, which refuses every false influence; to endure afflictions; to do the work of an evangelist; and so, as our word here used again imports, to “make full proof of his ministry,” to fill it up to the full measure, and there can be nothing more important, or more encouraging than this. The tendency is when things get slack to get slack with them. You play a losing game and you have no heart for it. You have no back to support you, no future to attract you. But here it is all the reverse. God is the first and the last of everything. Christ has died and risen again, and is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, waiting to take to Himself His great power and reign. And so the apostle encourages Timothy to the greater energy, as there was the greater need; and is there not a voice in this to the servant of God today to cheer, and to encourage him to trust and not be afraid; but to continue according to the grace given, to serve the Lord in all humility and faith, seeking to “fill up to the full measure” the ministry allotted to him, however small and inconspicuous that service may be?
2 Timothy 4:17. — So under circumstances of exceptional trial, the apostle tells us that the Lord stood by him, and strengthened him, so that through him the preaching should be fully made, using the same word as before (2 Timothy, 5:5), as though to encourage him thereby; and thus the last testimony he left behind was as complete in itself, as that of his happiest and most favored days.
How perfect is the Scripture; how encouraging for the child of faith, and how fully it maintains the glory of God with undiminished luster from the beginning to the end.
The consideration of the foregoing Scriptures will enable us more intelligently to apprehend the force of the word, which forms the heading of this article, and which occurs as follows:
Hebrews 6:11 — Here the apostle urges on them to show “diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end.” He earnestly desired this on their behalf. It is one thing to enter on a course; it is another thing to pursue it patiently to the finish. The path of faith demands constant exercise of soul. To the slothful it is strewed with difficulties; but the way of the righteous is raised up like a causeway above them all. The danger for the Hebrews was, lest, like their fathers of old, through an evil heart of unbelief, they should depart from the living God, instead of holding the beginning of their confidence steadfast to the end. But seeing that God had promised, there was sufficient security in His word, backed up by His oath, to give not merely a hope, but the “full assurance of hope” right through to the consummation of it.
Hebrews 10:22. — But more than that, not only was the journey through the wilderness thus provided for right into the Promised Land, but the way into the very holiest of all — the sanctuary of God’s immediate presence, is opened now for faith, as will Heaven itself be in fact by-and-bye, by the blood of Jesus. In Judaism a perpetual round of sacrifices was kept up, which could never put away sin, nor perfect the conscience, nor give the offerer a righteous title to draw near into the presence of God. The veil remained, a lasting sign that the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest. God had not yet appeared in the glory of His grace to man: man had as yet no title to approach the glory of the divine presence.
But now in language alike simple and magnificent, positive and consequential, and in which a title and a command is given to every child of faith, the contrast between Judaism and Christianity is strikingly set forth in the words with which the apostle concludes his argument, “ having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God: (1st), Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith ... .; (2nd), Let us hold fast the profession of our hope — [A. V. reads “faith”] — without wavering: for He is faithful that promised; and (3rd), Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works... and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.”
Colossians 2:2. — The ministry of Paul had a twofold character: he was minister of the gospel, Colossians 1:23, and he was also minister of the church, Colossians 1:25. To this latter ministry belongs the mystery which had been hidden from ages and generations, but is now made manifest to the saints, with all the wealth of the glory of it among the Gentiles-Christ in them the hope of glory. This is the completion of the Word of God, (vs. 25); the top stone of the revelation, in its most extensive and far-reaching results; the climax of the purposes of God in the creation first, and in the final reconciliation of all things to Himself by Christ.
The glories of Christ are wonderfully set forth in this epistle — His glories as Creator and His glories as Redeemer. As to the first, He is:
1st, The true image of the invisible God.
2nd, He takes precedence of every creature.
3rd, As Creator He gives its character to creation.
4th, He is the active instrument in creating it, as well as,
5th, The end for which it was created.
6th, He is before all things.
7th, By Him they all subsist together.
But there is the power of death to deal with, and, either He must annul it, or, as we should say, humanly speaking, be annulled by it. But having annulled it, He is, in this new sphere, where “there is no more death,” (Rev. 21:4),
1st, Head of the body, the church.
2nd, As the beginning of it, He takes precedence there too, as before in creation, that in all things He might have the first place.
3rd, All the fullness is pleased to dwell in Him.
4th, He is the maker of peace by the blood of His cross.
5th, He is the Reconciler, restoring everything into right relationship with God.
6th, He is the fulfiller of the Word of God, giving it its whole scope and the fullness of all that was expressed or implied in it.
7th, He is the true wealth of the glory of the mystery among the nations, “which is Christ in them the hope of glory.”
Plainly this is a subject of indeterminate scope, of boundless extent. Who can understand it? It is beyond all human thought: outside the range of all human conception: and the mind lies prostrate at its portals, waiting for a guide to introduce into the contemplation of the mysteries within. No wonder, then, that the apostle tells us of the great combat he had for them, “that their hearts might be encouraged, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the full knowledge of the mystery of God in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Thus, while the problem is the greatest that can engage the mind of man, we are encouraged to address ourselves to it in humble dependence on the Spirit of God, in the knowledge that His desire for us in respect of it, is that we should reach out intelligently to all riches of the full assurance of understanding to the full knowledge of the mystery of God.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 — It is very interesting to note the power and freshness of the gospel, and the reciprocity of affection between the apostle Paul and his beloved converts at Thessalonica, coming out as it does in such a salient manner in this Epistle.
The full import of the cross is not the subject of his preaching at Thessalonica. Here he has to do with Jews and Pagans pure and proper; and we learn the effect of his preaching amongst them, how they “turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, our deliverer from the coming wrath”; for indeed, as he says, “our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance.”
Colossians 4:12 — We have already noted the great conflict which Paul had for the saints, so now we find a similar conflict on the part of Epaphras, his “dear fellow-servant,” who was one of themselves, and perhaps also among the first of those who preached the gospel there, that they might stand perfect, (i.e., in the maturity of full growth in Christian manhood), and “FULLY ASSURED,” in freedom and dis-enthrallment from doubts and misgivings, in everything connected with the complete will of God, ranging as that will does over the vast sphere of all created things, with a view to His good pleasure, according to the wisdom that forecast it all to the glory of the “Kingdom of His dear Son.”
Into the full assurance and the fellowship of this we are called according to the invitation of His infinite love. And how, in view of all this, ought we to be stirred, as were Paul and Epaphras, to labor fervently with renewed, or perhaps newly awakened energy in prayers, for ourselves and for one another, that we might more intelligently apprehend and stand firmly without wavering in that for which we have by divine grace been apprehended.
These are the passages in the New Testament in which this word is used; and in a day when everything is called in question by the presumptuous meddlesomeness that can disturb everything and can settle nothing, it is well to know objectively, and to enjoy subjectively, in the undisturbed repose of our souls, the full assurance which God has in His mercy provided as the heirloom of His people here.

Effective Service

F. B. Hole
Christians are always affected, more or less, by the prevailing spirit of the world which surrounds them. In the days of primitive Christianity this was illustrated by the Corinthians, who, dwelling in a city noted for its luxury and license, soon had these evils springing up in their midst. (See 1 Cor. 4:8, and 5:1). One of the most striking features of the day is its general shallowness, and lack of that force and serious purpose which deep conviction gives; and nowhere are these sad features more painfully pronounced, than in the bosom of the Church of God.
Brethren, we shall not fail in our pathway of testimony upon earth because of lack of knowledge, but rather because, though knowing much, we are not utterly possessed by it, and hence feel so little. We resemble some broad but shallow lake, rather than a well of small circumference, but deep. IT IS THE MAN OF DEPTH AND FEELING WHO IS EFFECTIVE IN THE SERVICE OF GOD.
As an illustration of a man who powerfully affected his fellows, take Ezra. Failure and trespass began to appear in the shattered remnant of Israel, that returned from Babylon, and the old sin of intercourse with the people of the land threatened again to ruin them. It was an emergency indeed. Ezra called together no committee; he laid no elaborate plans for reforming this abuse; he just FELT things before God, and as they affected God. He so felt things that he rent his clothes, plucked off his hair, and sat down astonished, until, realizing the full extent of things, he fell on his knees, and commenced a memorable prayer of confession, by saying “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God” (Ezra 9:3-6).
Then as Ezra was himself moved, others were moved with him (vs. 4). Indeed, as the work of God in repentance and confession deepened in him, so the power of God radiated forth through him, until “there assembled unto him out of Israel, a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.” (Chapter 10:1) In result there was a national cleansing from their false associations, and the plague was stayed.
What a contrast between the noisy and ineffective machinery of man’s making, and the quiet ease and grace of a heaven-sent movement. But that movement works through a man who feels things with God.
Jonah illustrates another phase of the same thing. He was one of the most effective preachers of antiquity. Though addressing a people of great wickedness, and carrying a message of judgment — always an unpopular one — yet his simple words produced astonishing results. To a man, the Ninevites sought the face of God, and turned from their evil way (Jonah 3:5-9).
Why such extraordinary power with the message? Was it not because the man who cried “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” came up to his mission, fresh from an overthrow himself? Jonah learned experimentally what it meant to be overthrown by God. When, in the belly of the fish, all God’s billows and waves passed over him, the agony of it must have burnt into his soul in a way never to be effaced. When therefore this man preaches an overthrow, there is a power, a pungency, a heaven-born velocity about his words, that is otherwise unknown.
Brethren in Christ, it were better for us to master well one lesson in the school of God than to acquaint ourselves with much in a superficial way.

"Creation": No. 1 - Introductory

S. L. Jacob
No. 1. Introductory
God alone is Creator, we are, and shall always be, His creatures; notwithstanding the nearer and more blessed links formed by redemption. Moreover we have special links with the particular creation of which Adam was made head. The Holy Scriptures begin with describing this creation, and in the closing book of Revelation when God takes up His rights, it is as the Creator that He is manifested and worshipped.
The allusions to God as Creator, and to His creatorial works, are very frequent in Scripture, and often most strongly emphasized. For examples of this, read Isaiah 40 and the last five Psalms. These foreshadow the day when every created thing will burst into praise, and not till then will the purpose of this creation be fulfilled.
Seeing that these things cannot be gainsaid, and that even Redemption is based upon God’s right as Creator (for only He who created can have the right to redeem), we do well to consider:
(1) God’s object in this creation;
(2) Our proper attitude towards God as Creator, and towards creation in general; and
(3) How God’s object will be fulfilled.
God’s Object in This Creation
God’s object is very clear: He created all things, and He did this for His own pleasure (Rev. 4:11). To remember this will be a great help.
It is generally assumed that all creation, animate and inanimate, over which man has dominion, was intended for man’s benefit only, but this is a mistake. For man’s benefit indeed all these things were created, but only subordinately to their being for God’s pleasure. God must come first, and be pre-eminent in everything. The olive tree’s fatness is that whereby God and man are honored, and the juice of the vine is that which cheereth God and man” (Judg. 9:9-13).
But how can God have pleasure in creation? God is a Spirit, He dwells in the light which none can approach unto; none hath seen nor can see Him, and to Him belong honor and power everlasting. Matter, as such, cannot please Him. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse, He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man “(Psa. 147:10). He takes pleasure in spiritual things, or in that which serves spiritual ends. Therefore, if He has pleasure in creation, it is because creation is made subservient to such ends.
Every diligent student of the Scriptures is aware that these writings are full of pictures, that they abound in types and shadows, in parables and allegories, in visions and revelations, in figures and metaphors. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter” (Prov. 25:2). In very truth there is, comparatively speaking, little else in Scripture. What is Psalm 78? It is history, but that history is a parable (see verse 2) illustrating the administration of the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 13:35). And so also all history divinely recorded is a parable, for “these things happened unto them for types: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (ages) are come” (1 Cor. 10:11).
What mean the colors, the materials, the arrangements, the measurements of the tabernacle and of the temple? Is the attention to be concentrated on the things themselves and their material beauty, or on the spiritual significance only? Surely the latter.
Every word of God is full of spirit and life, and through these material types He would communicate spiritual things to us.
It is true that, “that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; afterward that which is spiritual;” but it is equally true that God had always the spiritual before Him, and the natural was only the means of reaching the spiritual.
That man’s conception of God must be poor indeed, who thinks that it was when the first Adam fell, that He planned the last Adam. God ever had the last Adam before Him, and though the first Adam preceded the last in order of manifestation, yet the last was ever the first in the mind, and thought, and purpose of God. It will be evident then, that God must have made all things which are visible, for the express purpose of illustrating the invisible and spiritual world.
The heathen have no direct revelation from God, yet it is written, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them for God hath sheaved it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19, 20).
And if this be true of the heathen in their darkness, how much more is it true of us who have the key of all knowledge in Christ. If the heathen should see the invisible in the visible, and through them learn God’s power and Godhead, what wealth of illustration must there be stored up in creation for those who have the anointed eye to see aright.
To this agrees Psalm 29, where it is written, “In His temple every whit of it uttereth glory” (see margin). For those who are in the sanctuary, the secret of God’s presence, the whole created world speaks of the glory of God, it displays His character, for the subject of the psalm is the majesty of God as seen in nature.
In the case of Job it is remarkable that though Elihu, God’s messenger, spoke to him about the finding of a ransom and of deliverance from the pit, yet God spoke about creation, (this being His special testimony to men in that day), and when He had finished, then Job said, “I have 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 42:5-6). What caused this? Evidently the setting forth of the invisible God in that which He created, for there is a spiritual teaching behind the descriptions of created animals or things, skewing that God was above all, and able to bring low and abase even the mighty and the proud (Job 40:12-14).
God often alludes to the animal world as having a voice for man. The ox knoweth its owner, and the ass its master’s crib: “but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isa. 1:3). See also Jer. 8:7.
How constantly our Lord turned to created things to illustrate spiritual things. The sparrows, the lilies, the corn of the earth, and the fish of the sea were all pressed into His ministry-and never man spoke like this Man. To Him everything spoke of the ways of God, His Father, and He would have us to listen to these myriad voices which minister such comfort to the anointed ear.
Our Proper Attitude Towards God As Creator and Towards Creation
God must have sovereign rights over all creation, and the creature can never be independent of the Creator. In the 104th psalm (the psalm of true science), the Lord is clearly set forth as the Creator and sustainer of all things in life. “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.” “These all wait upon Thee: that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That Thou givest them they gather: Thou openest Thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth.” He who does these things is the living God, the Preserver (N.T.) of all men, and especially of those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10).
Whatever else therefore may come in, we must ever remember that all that man has, is the gift of God, and he is responsible to God, because He is Creator and Preserver. This responsibility can never be set aside; do what man will, it must remain, and woe be to him who refuses it, or allows any man, or anything, to come between God and his soul. On the other hand, no man, be he heathen or otherwise, ever seeks God in vain (Heb. 11:6). Well would it be for men, did they know no more, to take up the cry “But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand” (Isa. 64:8).
But as Christians, we have also other relationships with God. We have been redeemed from our fallen condition, and can enter into the old relationships in a way impossible to those who have not received the full revelation of God in Christ. We do not make light of God as Creator, because we know Him as Redeemer on the contrary, we delightedly own His claims; and if we suffer according to the will of God, we commit the keeping of our souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19).
But we are part of creation, we are in touch with it all day long, it is in a myriad ways before us every moment. What should be our attitude towards it? In the early centuries of the history of the church on earth, the idea was most prevalent that matter was more or less evil, and the more the Christian could abstract himself from all created things, the better. This was the era of the ascetics. Monasteries and nunneries abounded. Numbers of Christians lived in deserts and in caves; and the greater the austerities that were endured, the greater the supposed sanctity that was imparted. This was, however, but the presentation of flesh to God, and was of no value, but rather very hurtful (Col. 2:20).
Now, the swing of the pendulum has gone far in the other direction. It is a grossly material age, inventions of all sorts minister to the delight of the flesh and of the eye; the mind of man is exalted; his wants and desires are many. There is a constant hustle of work or pleasure seeking, very little time for quiet meditation, and little dwelling in the presence chamber of God, where the voice of Christ can be plainly heard, Now the believer’s true attitude towards creation is very different from either of these ideas. He should be characterized by godliness (or piety), and his attitude should be that set forth in the 1st Epistle to Timothy, where he is exhorted to have love out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned; to continue in prayers, thanksgiving, and intercessions for all men; whilst the woman is to be modestly appareled, and to show good works.
There is nothing ascetic about the real Christian, he is marked by cheerfulness. He accepts God’s mercies without fear, whether His mercies in the marriage state, or in created things. He knows that every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and God has given us richly all things to enjoy. If, however, he knows how to abound, he knows also how to be abased; having food and raiment he is content. He does not love money, but is ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up a good foundation against the time to come, in order to lay hold on that which is really life. Therefore he finds his enjoyment in the activities of love rather than in self-indulgence.
There is a wonderful unity, yet marvelous diversity in creation. With men a multitude of things are produced to the same pattern, but all God’s works are diverse. This is true of all created things, from a grain of sand to the mighty orbs that glitter in space; though there may be a family likeness, there are no duplicates. The physical world in this respect is also figurative of the spiritual. There are “diversities of gifts,” there are “differences of administrations,” there are “diversities of operations,” but “the same Spirit,... the same Lord,... the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Cor., 12:4, 5, 6).
It would be well if Christians learned this lesson, for then would cease the effort to force all into the same mold; there would be the glad recognition of the varied workings of God for the good of the “one body;” and that beautiful unity in diversity, which is the product of the eternal wisdom of God, would not be marred by the folly of men.
The great relationships of life which God has ordained in connection with this creation, are full of instruction. These are three in number: Parent and child, husband and wife, brother and brother; typifying for us the divine relationships that exist between (I) God the Father and all those who are His sons by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26); (2) Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church which is His body (Eph. 5:32); and (3) “ those whom the Lord is “not ashamed to call brethren” (Heb. 2:11).
It was evidently God’s intention that the spirit of these family relationships should be maintained in the Church; but, alas! how men have failed in this; instead of oneness maintained in the meekness and gentleness of Christ, Christians have become divided into a number of hostile camps; and instead of a family full of love, covering, for the Father’s name sake, the frailties and failures of others, there seems often a positive delight in exposing and exaggerating these, and a desire and determination to be rid of some for whom we should be prepared to lay down our lives (1 John 3:16), simply because they cannot pronounce our shibboleth, or work according to our methods.
Now a Christian must be trained in the family, if he is to be of use in the Church; “for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5). (Note the change to the gentler word when the Church is in question).
The ignoring of this most important principle has wrought much disaster in the Church; men whose houses are disorderly, have brought ruin and trouble into the midst of the Church by attempting, in that more important sphere, a rule for which failure in their own houses had proved their incompetency.
How God’s Object in Creation Will Be Fulfilled
God cannot fail. His purpose to have pleasure in all creation must therefore be fulfilled; all things must accomplish the spiritual ends for which they were created, and these spiritual ends are that they may speak, by way of illustration, of God and His ways in Christ.
The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; but it will be delivered out of the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God; for the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-22).
The animal creation is in pain and grief by reason of sin, and God sees its suffering and counts, its sighs, as looking forward to the day of redemption and glory that is coming.
But the whole creation is involved in the ruin, inanimate at well as animate, and the whole is to share in the liberty of the glory of the children of God. Liberty is freedom to do the will of God. Glory is the display of God in character and ways; and creation is looked upon by God as longing (though of course not intelligently so), for the time when it will all fulfill God’s pleasure, and delight His heart, by showing forth His ways in a manner that it cannot do now, blotted and marred as it is by sin.
Then will Psalm 148 be literally fulfilled. Sun, moon, stars and waters, fire and hail, snow and vapors, mountains and hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, as well as animate creation, even to the smallest insect, will all tell forth the praises of God in that manner for which they were originally created; and the Creator will then reach for the first time His desired object in every single thing that He has created.
This will all be brought about by and through Christ. He is the Creator for “by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (or subsist)” (Col. 1:16-17).
But sin having marred all creation, He who is the Creator has become the Reconciler (Col. 1:20). By the blood of His cross peace has been made — on this is based the effectuation of reconciliation, now, in respect to Christians (who are already reconciled), and, by and bye, in respect to all things both in earth and heaven.
Then will God find His pleasure in all creation, and all things will fulfill His will. This passage agrees, therefore, with the others we have been considering before. Ephesians 1:9, 10, is also on the same lines. The whole universe is to share in the blessings of reconciliation as typified by the tabernacle, first sprinkled with blood and then anointed with oil.
Then will all that God hath spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began find fulfillment, and He will have the satisfaction of all His desires in all creation. Israel will be a righteous people keeping the truth, the nations will all be blessed under the gracious sway of Christ carried out through the heavenly city above, and Jerusalem on the earth, and every heart will throb with delight to see Christ exalted and God glorified by everybody and everything which God has made.
Then when this creation has served its purpose it shall be set aside, for it is written, “Thou’ Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail” (Heb. 1:10-12).
Then will all creation be altered to suit the new condition of the eternal state; for there will then be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness; and for that a new pictorial, which we cannot understand now, will be required. So the present will be burnt up, and all will take new shape for the ages upon ages yet to come. The Church, however, will abide in its glorious connection with Christ; will ever be inexpressibly near and dear to His heart; and will have the first place in all the glories displayed in creation in that day, as well as intimate and secret relations with Christ that no created intelligence will share.
In the meantime may we learn how to pass through this world as sent into it, yet preserved from its evil influences; abiding in Christ, dwelling in the sanctuary, yet able to shed the radiance of Christ in all the paths in which we tread and on all we meet; and, being in Christ’s secret, may everything have a voice to us speaking of God’s glory and of His ways in Christ.

The Word of God

Scripture, which is the Word of God, is His gift, the revelation of spiritual truth in a written record. The language of Scripture accordingly is perfectly unique; it possesses an indescribable something which is not found in any other writings; the Spirit, who seeth all things in their depth and reality, and who knoweth the end from the beginning, speaks here in a way so profound and comprehensive, that the wisdom and experience of all ages cannot exhaust His meaning, and yet with such simplicity and definiteness, that all childlike hearts find guidance and consolation in their daily path of duty and trial....
“It is written” should be in the heart of every Christian. “It is written” should decide every controversy, settle every doubt, and overcome every difficulty....
All tampering with Scripture as the sole and sufficient rule of faith and practice, and all tampering with conscience as bound by that rule, is a guilty resistance of the authority of Christ, and a perilous thing to our own welfare.
“The pride of the Pharaohs is fallen; the empire of Caesar is gone; the avalanches that Napoleon hurled upon Europe have melted away, but the word of the Lord endureth forever. Every day proves how transient is the noblest monument that man can build, and how enduring is the least word that God has spoken. Tradition has dug many a grave for the Bible; intolerance has lit many a fagot for it; many a Judas has betrayed it with a kiss; many a Peter has denied it with an oath; many a Demas hath forsaken it, but the word of God still abides.”..

Replies to Scripture Questions

J. A. Trench
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
What is the meaning of “water” in the above verse, and figuratively in Scripture?
Water is the symbol of the Word of God applied to the soul, in power, by the Spirit of God. A reference to other Scriptures will prove this.
Compare the expression we are considering in John 3:5, “born of water,” with James 1:18, where we read, “Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth;” and with 1 Peter 1:23, which runs, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” Then turn to Ephesians 5:26, where we find the water definitely identified with the word in the expression, “The washing of water by the word.”
Water purifies; hence by the use of the symbol more is conveyed than if it had been simply said “born of the word.” It includes the effect produced, as well as the instrumentality used of God in this, the beginning of all His ways with us in grace.
In the types water has as large a place as the blood. Both flowed from the pierced side of the Lord Jesus in death.
“One of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” John 19:34.
This is the historic order, and in it the blood comes first, as the basis of everything for God’s glory and our blessing. In the order of application to us, as John in his epistle (chap. 5:6) gives it, the water comes first: “This is He that came by water and blood... and it is the Spirit that beareth witness.” The Spirit it is who applies the word to the conscience, by which mighty operation of sovereign grace we are born absolutely anew. The effect in us is the conviction of sins; and when faith rests on the testimony of the Spirit to the value of the blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin, He (the Spirit) can take up His dwelling-place in us to be the power of the enjoyment of all that we have been brought into by the water and the blood: and the Christian position is then complete.
But fastening our attention on the water, it is important to see that there is a double application of what it represents, as in John 13:10: —
He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.”
There is first, as we have seen, being “born of water and of the Spirit”; this answers to the first washing mentioned in John 13:10, and as it is the communication of a new life and nature, cannot be repeated: we are “clean every whit.” Nor is this by any change in the character of the flesh in us: “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and there can be no purification of it. The word applied by the Spirit to our souls, carries with it the sentence of death upon all that is of the flesh. God could do nothing with it but end it in judgment, Genesis 6:13 — a judgment He carried out for faith in the death of His Son, Romans 8:3. Thus the water was found where the blood was, in His death. It is on the one hand, the end of the flesh in total condemnation, and on the other, the introduction of a life in which we can live to God and enjoy Him forever.
But we have to pass with this life through a defiling world, where all that meets the senses tends to hinder communion with Him who is our life. Hence the need of the second application of the word, symbolized by the Lord’s touching service to His disciples, (John, 13). He girded Himself with the towel, and pouring water into a basin, He began to wash their feet, and wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. It was, as Jesus tells Peter, that we might have “part with Him” when He is gone, that is, as having departed out of the world to the Father (vs. 1). We have to go through the world out of which He has had to depart, and therein lies all our need: liable to contract defilement at every step, or at least that which would bring moral distance between our souls and Him, He knows how to apply His word to bring back the soul to the enjoyment of His presence, in His ever faithful and unfailing love, that there may not be even a shade of reserve between us and Him. That first action of His word by which we were clean every whit in the divine nature could never be repeated, this is needed continually. Nor does He leave us to apply it to ourselves — (if I wash thee not) — though He may use any of us who have learned in the school of His grace, in this privileged service to others (vs. 14.).
It is of interest, as helping to bring out the distinction all the more clearly, that the Lord employs two different words in this l0th verse according to their clearly defined usage in the Greek version of the Old Testament. “He that is washed” (or bathed ‘), as applicable to the whole person, is the word louo, used of the washing of the priests on the day of their consecration, Exodus 29:4. “Needeth not save to wash (nipto) his feet” is that used for the washing of their hands and their feet in the laver at the tabernacle door, every time they went into the sanctuary, Exodus 30:18-21. And the words are never interchanged. But, in noting this, we must remember the difference between preparation for priestly entering into the holy places, as in the Old Testament, and this wonderful service of the Lord for us, that we may have the constant enjoyment of His presence as having gone to the Father.
May our hearts be more deeply affected by the love that would not leave a spot on our feet; and may we yield ourselves up to the searching action of His word upon us, when it is needed that He should apply it, rather than be content to walk at a distance from Him, clinging to something that maintains that distance, to His dishonor and our own incalculable loss.

Christ in the Minor Prophets: Introduction

H. P. Barker
Introduction
Somewhere in America there exists a copy of the famous “Declaration of Independence,” in which the words appear to be flung down upon the parchment in the most haphazard fashion. No order is at first discernible, and one gets the impression, upon viewing the document, that some accident must have happened to the printing-machine that produced it. Instead of running on smoothly in straight lines, the sentences seem to be thrown about anyhow, and the result is most perplexing.
On further inspection, however, it begins to dawn upon one that underlying all the apparent disorder, there is some design. And suddenly that design stands out before the eye with startling clearness, and one sees that one is looking at a portrait of George Washington. The words and sentences serve to form the familiar lineaments of his face. The arrangement, at first so mystifying, is now seen to have been adopted in order that Washington himself might appear in the midst of the historic “Declaration” with which his name is so closely connected.
In reading the Minor Prophets one often finds similar cause for perplexity in the way that narrative, appeal, promise, and threat are often thrown together without any apparent order.
Yet, on closer examination, one is convinced that there is a line running through each prophecy. Indeed it must be so, for these testimonies are Divine. Where then shall we find a clue to the maze?
The object of these papers is to answer this question by showing that Christ is the theme of these twelve wonderful books. “To Him give all the prophets witness.” Just as the face of Washington looks out from the old document which we have described, so the face of Christ looks out at us from the chapters of these old-time prophecies. He is to be found in the little read pages of Joel and Zephaniah, as well as in the better known passages of Isaiah and Daniel. It should be our constant object, in reading the Scriptures, to see how Christ is presented in its different parts.
I cannot forbear to transcribe here the glowing words of one who not long ago finished his course of service on earth. Says he:
“The truth is that the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, is the constant object of the Holy Spirit where He speaks of any object or office supremely excellent, no matter what its shape or nature. If it be a great priest, prophet, or king; if it be a savior, conqueror, or judge, always the One whom the Holy Spirit contemplates from beginning to end is Christ; and it will be the same with our interpretation, where the Holy Spirit identifies our spiritual affections with Christ, and forms our minds according to God’s purposes and ways. Thus, in fact, the Spirit of Christ is characteristic of the Christian. Surely he of all men ought to be the first to see this running through the written word. So, among the apostles, we find constantly in Paul — but, indeed, it belongs to the New Testament generally — this quickness of scent in the fear of the Lord, which sees Christ everywhere.”
We do not, of course, find Christianity in the prophets, but we find Christ there. And we need this “quickness of scent” which perceives Him everywhere. We shall then delight to trace Him in His past humiliation and His coming glory, and to study Him, though in other connections than those in which we know Him. With that which belongs to His present session at the right hand of God, with the Church, His Body, and the heavenly relationships in which we are set as members thereof, prophecy has nothing to do. But its central object is that same blessed One, who has endeared Himself to us, and who has unveiled to us the heart of God.
The reader, then, will not expect to find, in the papers that follow, any detailed exposition of the minor prophets. Able pens have already made such available.
On the other hand, to show how Christ is presented in the various prophecies, will surely be no small help in the exegesis of these twelve books. And it is this which the writer has in view, and for which he seeks grace and help from God.
Obadiah
The vision of Obadiah. Thus said the Lord God concerning Edom;.... The pride of thine heart deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.... All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee. Obadiah 1, 3, 4, 7.
What leads up to the special presentation of Christ which Obadiah has been inspired to give us, is the fact that God’s unsparing judgment had been declared against Edom. Jeremiah had already announced this, and from the 49th chapter of the book which bears his name the first half-dozen verses of our prophet are quoted.
Edom, with all its pride, was to be brought low. Though exalted as the eagle, and dwelling among the stars, God Himself would abase that boastful nation; He would destroy its wise men, and shatter to atoms the confederacy, by means of which it hoped to secure prominence and permanence in the earth.
All this had been foretold by Jeremiah, and is now re-iterated and emphasized by Obadiah.
Has this old-time message no voice for the men of today? After all, Edom is but a sample of the world at large, just as a block of coal taken at random from the pit, shows the quality of all that remains in the mine.
Did human pride ever reach a higher level than in this twentieth century? Has confederacy ever been more sought after than today? Think for a moment of the world as it lies around us. Think of the onward march of civilization; of the achievements of science; of the spread of knowledge. How men boast of all this! Of a truth they say in their hearts, “Who shall bring me down to the ground?” Do they not exalt themselves as the eagle, and set their nest among the stars?
Consider, too, how the principle of confederacy is emphasized in the world today. There are treaties and alliances binding the nations together. There are trusts and combines amongst capitalists and manufacturers, unions and associations among their workmen. There are societies for this object and for that.
All this was found, in germ, amongst the Edomites. They had their men of learning, their doughty warriors, their fortified cities. They had adopted also the principle of confederacy, and had allied themselves with other nations, to make common cause against God and His people.
No doubt the prophecy looks on to the last days, when Edom shall re-appear and shall have a leading place in the great confederacy of nations, which, in alliance with the resuscitated Assyrian, will come up against Jerusalem.
Some of the nations which form this great hostile alliance are mentioned in Psalm 83, and Edom is given the first place in the list. “They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against Thee; the tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites,” etc.
Now read verses 10 to 14: —
For thy violence against thy brother Jacob sorrow shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever. vs. 10.
In the day that thou stoodest on the other side ... .and foreigners entered into his gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them... thou shouldst not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity... vss. 11, 13.
... Neither shouldst thou have stood in the crossway to out off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress. vs. 14.
Here Obadiah brings forward another trait which marked Edom, and he does so, it appears, in order to introduce the testimony of Christ. This trait, already hinted at in the quotation from Psalm 83, was a rancorous hatred against the people of God. “Thy violence against thy brother Jacob” is declared to be the special reason why Edom should be covered with shame and be cut off forever. A remnant from Egypt, Assyria and other nations will be spared to enjoy the blessing of Christ’s supremacy, but none from Edom. “There shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau” (ver. 18).
Edom, or Esau, it must be remembered was Jacob’s brother. For this reason the Edomite was to be treated with special regard by the Israelite, and was to have certain privileges in connection with “the congregation of Jehovah,” which were not accorded to other Gentiles. “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of Jehovah in their third generation” (Deut. 23:7, 8).
But from the beginning Edom had shown spite and ill-will against Israel, both nationally and individually. When the Israelites required to pass through the land of Edom to reach Canaan, permission to do so was peremptorily refused. Moses sent a most conciliatory message, undertaking to damage neither fields or vineyards, and to pay for the very water which they should drink. But “Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border,” and thus showed himself even at that early date to be an implacable and spiteful enemy. (Num. 20:14-18).
Another instance of this perpetual hatred is seen in the conduct of Doeg, an Edomite in the service of Saul. David, the Lord’s anointed, had not yet come to the throne. Hunted and threatened, he fled to Ahimelech the priest, who treated him kindly and supplied him with bread. But the treacherous eyes of the Edomite witnessed the transaction, and he lost no time in informing Saul, and thus procuring the death of eighty-five men of the priestly family.
“I knew it!” cried David, when he was told of the cruel deed, “I knew it that day when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul” (1 Samuel, 22:22).
Obadiah mentions yet another instance of this unbrotherly hate on the part of Edom. He refers to the day of Jerusalem’s capture, when the children of Judah were carried off into Babylonian bondage. “In the day that thou stoodest on the other side,” he says,... “foreigners entered into his gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them” (verse 11). Then comes a terrible exposure of the Edomites’ conduct. They had rejoiced over the downfall of the children of Judah, had laid hands on their substance, had stood in the crossway to cut off any straggling fugitives, and had actually given up to the cruel Babylonians those that had escaped.
It is in this connection that we find the footsteps of Christ, as we read between the lines of Obadiah’s solemn charge. We see, in studying Hosea, how Christ took the place of the true Israel before God. He was the Son, called out of Egypt. And in grace He identified Himself with the remnant that feared God, entering into their sorrows, feeling the bitter smart of all their woes, suffering because of their afflictions, groaning under the burdens which weighed so heavily upon them. This is quite a different thought from that of His atoning sufferings. No doubt He made atonement for Israel as well as for us. But we do not get His atoning sufferings in Obadiah. Nor is it merely His suffering for righteousness’ sake. In a very real way (and after a manner that endears Him to our hearts as we trace Him there), He took upon Himself the afflictions and oppressions under which His people groaned, and felt the cruel pangs thereof in His own spirit.
And so, if we compare Obadiah with the close of Luke’s gospel (Luke 23) we have no difficulty in finding Christ in the narration of His people’s sufferings at the Edomites’ hand. Herod was the cruel prince of Edomite blood, whose hatred flamed up against the One who had in grace come to His people as their deliverer. From the hour of His birth the Edomite had sought to slay Him, and when the final scenes were enacted, so soon to reach their culminating point upon Calvary, the Edomite was there to add fresh pangs to the sufferings of that Holy One.
Edom, according to Obadiah’s prophecy, made himself one with the Gentile oppressors. So, we read, Herod and Pilate, the Edomite and the Roman, were made friends together in their enmity to Christ.
Edom “rejoiced over the children of Judah,” and “spoke proudly in the day of distress.” And Herod, when he saw Jesus, and felt that He was in his power, “was exceeding glad,” and, with his men of war, “set Him at naught, and mocked Him.”
Edom stood in the gate of Jerusalem in the day of Judah’s affliction, to look on their calamity with triumph. Even so it is significantly stated of Herod the Edomite in the day of Christ’s affliction: “himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.” He was upon the scene, to add gall and wormwood to the already full cup of the afflicted Sufferer.
Worst of all, Edom “delivered up those of his that did remain.” And the evangelist narrates of Jesus, how Herod sent Him again to Pilate.” There you read the malice of the Edomite In the last days, when Edom and the confederate nations come up against the, chosen people, it will be a comfort indeed to those that are godly, to have the sympathy and support of Him, who has Himself felt the bitterness of the Edomite’s hatred. They will have Him as the support and stay of their troubled hearts, and He who knows so well what every phase of their affliction means, having gone through it all Himself in grace, will be able in a wonderful way to minister solace and strength to them.
“For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen; as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee...” (vs. 15).
Not only Edom, however, but all the nations are guilty of enmity to Christ; all have arrayed themselves against Him, whether personally, in the days of His flesh, or as represented by Israel. And, therefore, in verses 15-16, all the nations come into view for judgment, not so much for their sins, but for the way they have acted towards Christ — Christ in His Jewish brethren. The whole of the great world system is going to come under judgment, with its pride, its confederacies, and its hatred of Christ.
“But upon Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness...” (vs. 17).
“And saviors shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s” (vs. 21).
But there is salvation and blessing in store for the house of Jacob, and God will make it evident in that day that it is all connected with Mount Zion. “Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance.” Besides this, rule will be established over the world, and this too, in connection with the mountain that God has been pleased to choose, for “saviors shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be Jehovah’s.”
Mount Zion brings before us the great principle upon which God will act in blessing for the earth when the day for it arrives. It is the spot upon which He set His choice (Psa. 132:13) when everything committed to the hands of men had broken down. It speaks of Christ, risen from among the dead, the One in whom all God’s purposes of blessing for men, are made good. We Christians are already come to Mount Zion in a spiritual sense, as we are told in Hebrews 12, and we get the benefit of the two things connected, in Obadiah, with the literal Mount Zion, namely, deliverance and rule.
Deliverance from the power of the world and earthly things, is enjoyed as the soul is established in that which Zion typifies. It is realized when we get consciously on to the ground of God’s purpose, and see how everything finds its foundation and center in Christ.
We come under His blessed rule, too. He brings the light of God’s world to bear upon us, and that light governs us as we see it shining in His face. The glory that is to irradiate the universe, beams already in the face of Christ; the blessing that is going to be shed abroad through the whole scene, is even now brought to light in Him, for the present joy of those who are His.
The “saviors” of verse 21 are doubtless those who will carry the influences of Zion far and wide. Raised up for the purpose, they will be appointed in connection with the administration of Jehovah’s kingdom to go north, south, east and west, and spread abroad the beneficence that abounds in that holy mountain.
The prophecy belongs to a future time, but, thank God, there are those who answer to these “saviors” in our day. There are those whose eyes have been opened to see the glories that shine in the face of Christ. And as these glories are written in their hearts by the Spirit, they are able to preach Christ Jesus for the enlightening of others, that thither other hearts too may turn. Their ministry ever draws to Christ Himself, and tends to move our souls off the line of human responsibility, and establish them on the line of God’s purpose. No small service this, to render to the saints of God. Would that we could help one another more in this way.
Obadiah’s object was akin to this. His name means “servant of the Lord,” and it was his privilege to render a very real service to those who lived in his day, by exposing the true character of man’s world as represented by Edom, and by leading the hearts of God’s people, to that bright world which He will yet bring in, of which Zion will be the center, where Edom will have no place, but where Christ will be supreme.
Obadiah, it is true, deals with the earthly part of that world of blessing. We Christians, have our portion in the heavenly part thereof, and enjoy a relationship, and a knowledge of God, that far transcends that of Israel. But the earthly side is in great measure typical of the heavenly side, and though we must not look in Obadiah for Christianity, we can find in his short prophecy that which brings Christ before our hearts, first in His sorrow and humiliation, then in His glory, as the true Zion, in whom all God’s blessing is made secure according to His eternal purpose.

Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians

Ed. Cross
Preliminary Remarks
It is very appropriate that the section of “Scripture Truth” more especially devoted to the exposition of Scripture, should commence with the study of the Epistles to the Thessalonians. They are generally regarded as being the earliest written records of Christianity, as they are undoubtedly the earliest of the apostles’ writings; and they present to us the freest, simplest, and most objective form in which the fundamental truths connected with the Kingdom of God, and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ are set forth.
It is intended that the simple and direct exposition of Scripture shall form a prominent feature of this periodical; and all interested in the matter are earnestly besought to help in prayer that the Lord may vouchsafe in abundant measure the spirit of grace and wisdom to writers and readers alike; so that what is put forth may be for the glory of His name in the unfolding of the truth, and for the blessing and edification of many of His dear children. To this end the subject must be approached by both writer and reader with becoming reverence, and in the full sense of dependence on the Holy Spirit; not with the object of merely furnishing our minds with knowledge, but with the desire that our souls may be so informed by the truth, that we may be enabled thereby to walk worthy of Him “who has called us unto His kingdom and glory.”
Important at all times, it was never more so than now, that the Christian should address himself, in dependence on the Spirit, to the direct and serious study of the Scriptures. It is to be deplored that the people of God generally are far too lax on this point. The Scriptures are not systematically taught in the family at home; neither are they read in private, and studied with the seriousness that is due to them. On the importance of this much stress is laid in the Scriptures themselves, as may be seen in such passages as Deuteronomy 4:9, 10; 6:7; Psalm 1:2; 17:4; 119.; etc. Timothy had evidently been trained after this good old fashion to which the apostle so approvingly refers in 2 Timothy 3:15. For the furtherance of this study of Scripture in a serious and systematic manner may the Lord give grace, and deign to make it profitable to both writer and reader alike.
Thessalonica was situated on the Thermaic Gulf of the Ægæan Sea. It was rebuilt and enlarged by Cassander, who named it after his wife Thessalonica, a sister of Alexander the Great. Since that time it has played an important part in history, both ancient and modern, and under the corrupted name of Salonika, it is still, next to Constantinople, the most important town of European Turkey. It has been from early times, and still is, a great resort of Jews, as may be seen by the fact that with a population of 70,000, 10,000 are professing Christians of the Greek Church, while 35,000 are Jews, possessing 36 synagogues, and carrying on the chief trade of the city. Possibly this was a factor in determining the apostle to pass on through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica, where he could address himself to a considerable number of his own countrymen with the glad tidings of which he was the messenger; according to what he says elsewhere, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” — Romans 1:16.
Of the character of his preaching there we are not left in doubt. In Acts 17:1-13, we have many interesting details as to his visit to that city. During his stay there, he devoted three Sabbaths in a special way in reasoning out of the Scriptures with the Jews in their Synagogue, opening and laying down: first, that Christ must needs have suffered; and second, risen up from among the dead; and third, that Jesus, whom he preached to them, was the Christ, the true Messiah, who was to fulfill their hopes of the coming kingdom.
We are not to suppose that Paul’s stay at Thessalonica was confined to the three weeks mentioned above, nor that his preaching was to the Jews only. From 1 Thessalonians 1:9, and 2:4-11, we gather that many of his converts were Gentiles, and that he must have stayed in the place for some considerable time. But keeping in mind the three leading facts of Acts 17:3 will help us better to understand the principal features of what will come before us in detail in the two Epistles to the Thessalonians. In style these epistles are simpler in language and less involved in thought than his later epistles. The great truths of the gospel, however really they may be implied here, are not argued out either from a methodical or a polemical point of view, as they are in the Epistles to the Romans or Galatians. He does not here speak of the doctrine of righteousness, or of justification by faith, or of the believers part as identified with the death of Christ, or of the cross from a judicial point of view; but on the other hand he lays stress on the sufferings of Christ, the triumph of His resurrection, and the hope of His coming again.
This was important at the start of Christianity. We must remember that the gospel had to satisfy the just hopes of the thoughtful Jew, as well as to bring the light of mercy to the Gentile in the establishment of a kingdom which would be the glory of the one, and the blessing of both. The full bearing of the cross of Christ in the settlement of divine righteousness so that grace might reign unto eternal life, as also the special heavenly hopes of the Church were to be brought out in due course in his later epistles; but they are not the subject matter here. Of course there is nothing contrary to or inconsistent with them: it could not be so, where all is under the inspiration and direction of the Spirit of God. But whether or not the apostle’s own mind was as yet fully in the light of them, as appears in his later epistles, he is not here led of the Spirit to unfold them as he does elsewhere.
“There is a time for every purpose under heaven,” the wise man tells us (Eccl. 3:1); and it was as timely to address to the Thessalonians the epistle written to them, as it would have been untimely to address to them the Epistle to the Ephesians, or that to the Colossians. There is neither confusion nor contradiction in Scripture between the heavenly purposes of God for the ages, and the governmental principles on which order will be established in the universe. Each is a hand-maiden with the other in their respective spheres for the accomplishment of the great problem of the glory of God, and His good pleasure founded and built upon a basis that cannot be moved.
The object of the apostle at Thessalonica was to preach Christ to the Jew first and also to the Greek; to meet their difficulties in regard to the sufferings of Christ and His resurrection; and to prove to them that these things did not militate against the claims of Jesus to be their Messiah. Such being his object, the opposition to him, as was natural, arose from the Jews themselves. Later on, in Romans and Galatians, his object was to unfold the great doctrines of the cross, the nature of life in Christ, and as a consequence, “deliverance ‘ from this present evil age.” To this the opposition arose from the ranks of Judaizing Christians. In Ephesians and Colossians he unfolds the hidden counsels of God from eternity: and the “great mystery” of Christ and the Church: with the reconciliation of all things to God; and as his subject increases in greatness so does the opposition to it. It is no longer a wrestling with flesh and blood, but with all the powers imaginable that can be ranged against it, with wicked spirits in the heavenlies. (Eph. 6:12).
Although 1 Thessalonians is rather practical than doctrinal, and does not therefore lend itself to the analysis of an ordered treatise developed on lines of thought in a consequential way, yet we may in a general way perhaps divide it into two main parts — chapters 1.-3. being of a more personal kind, in which the apostle pours out his feelings towards them in his joy at the good tidings that Timothy brought him of their state; and chapters 4.-5., being exhortations to them prompted by the love that was so fervently desirous of their furtherance in the faith, and their fullest blessing (Chapter 5:23). — In this latter section is given a special revelation as to the rapture of the Church, in order to comfort the hearts of those who feared that their departed brethren would not share in the glories of the kingdom for which they looked.
We shall now address ourselves to the consideration of the epistle in detail.
(To be continued).
EDITORS’ NOTE: Readers are invited to send us, in the first week of each month, brief expository comments on any or all of the separate verses contained in the portion to be considered the following month. Comments considered helpful, will be published, as far as space permits. This will constitute a kind of Bible Reading by post, which we trust may be profitable to contributors and readers alike. The portion to be considered in the February issue is Chapter 1 of the epistle.
No foe can cross the protecting circle of the Everlasting Arm.
Why should I start at the plow of my Lord that maketh deep furrows in my soul? I know that He is no idle Husbandman, He purposeth a crop.
A Christian is the world’s Bible. In many cases a revised version is much needed.
It takes more time and patience for God to fit us to receive blessing, than it does for Him to bestow it.
An unbroken career of prosperity might result in abundant leafage; but there would be little fruit, if the Divine Husbandman, with infinite wisdom and foresight did not trim and prune the branch.
God pours into those who pour out. When any soul comes to the conclusion that he or she is full, and begins to button up the garment and hold it there, it is gone.
Attachment to Christ is the only secret of detachment from the world.
THE GOSPEL. — Every child knows the meaning of the word gospel, but no saint in the sanctuary knows all its music.
A little child will simply and affectionately tell you that the word gospel mean’s God’s spell, good news, glad tidings; and the child is etymologically correct. But etymology is only a little latch which we lift, in order that we may pass through the portal into the infinite reaches of divine love.

The Lord and His Disciples: No. 1 - Power and Grace

J. T. Mawson
No. 1. — Power and Grace
OUR attention is often arrested by the very remarkable contrasts brought together in the Scriptures, things that according to the reckoning of men could have no affinity, are found to run together and enhance the greatness and beauty of each.
An instance of this is seen in connection with the Lord and His disciples on the glorious resurrection day. His death had scattered them, for it had been told in the prophetic word, that at the smiting of the Shepherd the sheep would be scattered. But the power of God had brought again from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep, and the news of this stupendous fact had spread amongst the sorely perplexed and brokenhearted flock.
How busy were those Galilean women that day, “the King’s business required haste,” and in the gospel of the King it is recorded that “they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy, and did run to bring His disciples word” (Matt. 28:8).
On the evening of that day they were gathered together, the last of them drawn to that blessed tryst from distant Emmaus by the Lord’s personal service to them; and being thus gathered, two things commanded their thoughts and filled them with wonder: (1) The Lord is risen indeed, and (2) hath appeared to Simon. Nothing could be of greater moment to them than the first, for it was the manifestation of their Lord’s victorious power, and was the confirmation of all things which He had spoken to them. And though they did not understand at the time, what the results of this glorious resurrection were, yet it must have opened a new world to their souls, and shown them that what, in their eyes, had been weakness and defeat had become the veritable triumph of God.
But how could they meet the risen Lord? had they not forsaken Him in the midst of His exceeding sorrow, and might He not in consequence discard them for others more faithful and worthy? They might have thought so, and gone to hide themselves from Him for very shame, but — He had “appeared to Simon.”
They do not say He hath appeared unto the Magdalene; they knew that her eyes had been the first to look upon Him, but there was nothing remarkable about His appearing to her, for she — devoted heart — had stood bereaved without the empty tomb, weeping out her sorrow, because she knew not where her beloved Lord lay. The world was a wilderness night where, no comfort shone because the Lord was gone. It was no surprise to them, or to us, that since He was risen, He should appear to Mary.
But to Simon! who had abandoned his Master, and had proved the veriest coward in the presence of the scorning of a servant maid; who had denied his Lord with oaths and curses — that He should appear to Simon filled them with wonder.
So the two marvels are linked together by them, and in the Holy Spirit’s record for us.
His MIGHTY POWER had brought Him from the grave.
HIS TENDER GRACIOUS LOVE had carried Him even to Simon.
It was this Lord who stood in the midst of them; the powers of darkness had been smitten before Him, and the failure of His followers had not changed Him. He was all-sufficient for every foe without, and for every failure within. No wonder then that it is recorded that the joy of seeing Him was so overwhelming, that they could scarcely believe. But their doubts were speedily removed, they saw the Lord, and it is also our privilege to see Him — their Lord and ours — who had risen indeed, and appeared unto Simon.
We need Him as much as they did, for the malignity of the devil is not one whit less now than then, and we have to mourn failure and sin as terrible as Simon’s, for the Church has not kept His Word, and has often denied His Name. But Christ remains unchanged, and every purpose of God, with every hope of His people, hangs alone upon Him.
How blessed then to know that this same Lord is in the midst of His saints today!
Days of stress and trial they are, in the which the devil is seeking to stamp out all testimony for God, both as to the true word of the gospel, and in the lives and unity of His own.
But He abides. If His pilgrim people are treading a wilderness journey in the which they are conscious of fierce opposition, of their individual needs, and much failure, He says to them, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” so that they may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” — Hebrews 13:5-6.
Or if His servants go forth to spread His gospel according to His own command, He says, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end” (Matt. 28:20), so that while they feel their weakness, they have no cause for discouragement.
Or if His saints gather together because they love His name, desiring only to please Him, He says, “Where two or three are gathered together unto My name, there am I in the midst” (Matt. 18:20).
Having Him, we have an infinite and eternal sufficiency, what need for ought beside? Having Him; we can well dispense with wealth, power, eloquence, wisdom of men, and all the things that attract and charm the unregenerate mind and heart; for in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is the power and wisdom of God. He is full of grace. He is our Shepherd and Bishop, our Master and Lord. We must cleave to Him alone. He is our rallying point and our support.
To rely upon our fellow Christians, or to turn to men, whom we deem to be spiritual, for help and support, as some would have us do, would be as futile as it would have been for John to have leaned upon Simon in the hour of trial, but we may all (as John did) lean upon the Lord (JOHN 13:23), and He faileth not.
If we fail, there is restoring grace with Him, and He knows how to apply the balm to hearts broken by a sense of sin, even as when He appeared to Simon. Well may we then lift up our heads, and take courage, having hearts made glad by the sense of what He is.
Second-Hand Godliness
Second-hand godliness is a poor affair — we want that which leans upon God alone. We see too many Christians depending one upon another, like houses “run up” by “jerry builders,” which are so slenderly built that if you pulled down the last one in the row, all would follow. Be not a “lean-to” of this kind, but steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
One cannot honor Christ in one’s walk, and at the same time walk with those who dishonor Him.
No child of God can live on past experience; yesterday’s manna will not feed him today. God comes with fresh supplies of grace, but the heart must be open to receive them.
If our life is all in public, it will be a frothy, vapory, ineffectual existence, but if we hold high converse with God in secret, we shall have power in that which is good.
The gentleness of Christ is the comeliest ornament that a Christian can wear.

Divine Facts

H. D. B. Jameson
“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them” (1 Tim. 4:15).
There is nothing by which men are so deeply moved, or so profoundly affected, as by the simple conviction of great divine Facts. Theories may interest the mind, and that interest may suffice to hold the attention for a time; but mere theories accomplish nothing that abides. That, on the other hand, which is used in bringing to pass mighty results, which are eternal in their character, is the simple naked truth of God, in its own solitary grandeur and magnificence: the outlining to men of divine facts of utmost simplicity but tremendous import. Let us, without following out the detail, look at some of the greatest of these briefly and earnestly:
1st. God Is
Seek to get hold of, and to be taken hold of by, that greatest of all verities, the fact that “God is” — that God lives today. Satan well knows the profound effect of this as a fact accepted and present to the soul, and therefore his constant effort is to obscure and occupy the mind with a thousand trifles of a changing world, in order that God be denied His rightful place in the heart as a living reality.
The Bible commences with the words, “In the beginning God...” In this simple but majestic way are we introduced, in the very first sentence of the Book, to the great reality of the existence of God.
In Hebrews it is laid down as a first essential that, if any would come to God, he “must believe that He is” (Heb. 11:6): and it is worthy of remark’ that this epistle especially emphasizes the great fact that God is the “Living God.”
Four times over is that striking expression repeated, twice in connection with the present time and twice in connection with the future; (Gen. 3:12; 4:14; 5:31; 12:22); twice is it linked in warning with the fate of the apostate, and twice on the other hand with the blessing of the believer. In each connection what is prominent is the fact that He lives.
All creation bears witness to Him. Every blade of grass and tiny drop of dew, every mountain peak and verdant valley, each shining star in the heavens and each mighty planet as it ceaselessly travels its vast appointed orbit, bears mute but eloquent testimony to the fact that God is.
There is mighty inward witness, too, for man has been, of divine intent, so formed and so constituted, that he cannot get away from the secret conviction in his inmost soul, that God is. Man is not like an animal; when he was created the Lord God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” — a being with a capacity to know, enjoy, and have to do with the living God.
Eternal, immortal, invisible, dwelling in unapproachable light, infinite in holiness, righteousness; power and love, all seeing, all present, and almighty — God is.
2nd. God Has Spoken
This is the second great fact which demands the attention of men, for God is not only an all powerful and eternal Being, of whose existence we must take account as a tremendous fact, but He has spoken to men, and in the Scripture of Truth these divine communications make their universal appeal.
In times past God spake by the prophets; then, such is the wonder of divine grace, He deigned to enter manhood, and, in the deepest, fullest, and most final way, He spake in the Son: Who Himself is the Word of God, the exact expression of the Divine Being. But what we here consider is the inspired record of the whole testimony of God, the book in which He has addressed Himself, and does address Himself, to men today — the Bible.
The Bible comes to us directly from God. In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and again in 2 Peter, 1:21, that “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
If the Bible be not a direct revelation from God to men, then it stands utterly discredited in that which is fundamental to its possession of any authority over the consciences of men. But if it be, in deed and truth, inspired, as it claims to be, from cover to cover — (“all scripture”) — and inspired not only as to the truths contained, but as to its very words, its numerals, and more, its very letters (for the whole argument in Galtians. 3 hangs on the inspiration of the letter ‘s’ in a word quoted from Genesis 22:18), then with what reverent attention and unique interest should we receive these divine communications!
3rd. The Incarnation
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”... “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14).
From out a myriad worlds this tiny planet in God’s vast universe is chosen to be the theater for the display of all that God is in the might of His victory over the powers of evil; — from out unnumbered hosts of higher intelligences man is chosen for this high purpose; and into the very world in which we live and move, a world moreover of sin and rebellion against God, the mighty Inhabiter of Eternity, the High and Lofty One, is born a Babe! Oh, marvelous fact I the mighty Creator on whose uttered word hang countless worlds, come in matchless grace into manhood, into the condition of His lost and fallen creature.
We do not dwell here on the wonders of that life, its purpose as regards man, and as regards the wider question of good and evil and the glory of God, nor on the infinite perfections that shone in Him who was very God yet very man, but concentrate our attention on the great fad of incarnation, for this world has been in deed and in truth visited by the Son of God!
4th. “Christ Died”
We pass not on to the stupendous results which flow from Christ’s death, but tarry to think of the verity itself. That simple fact of mighty import contained in two words of Romans, 5:6, “Christ died”!
I point you back to the moment at which this occurred. In the long history of this world, from the time when in far back ages “its deep foundations on nothingness were laid,” to the time when, at the conclusion of all God’s ways, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and all these things shall be dissolved — in all the history of time no moment has presented issues so vast as that moment of time in which Christ died. Nay, more, in all the history of eternity (if the word history can be applied to so limitless a conception) no instant has been pregnant with results so tremendous as that instant in which Christ died!
The Death of Christ! What words can picture that scene of scenes — the thronging hosts of darkness there gathered in hostile array, and the measureless hatred that would crucify infinite Love; the horror of great darkness that gathered about the soul of the suffering Man of Sorrows, and the uttermost distance and abandonment of the forsaken One; the storms of almighty wrath that beat upon the open bosom of the great Substitute and Sin-bearer, and the fathomless depths of those waters of death into which the Savior descended; the heights to which sin there rose in its onslaught on the very Highest, and the higher heights of all conquering Love; the infinite perfections of the Crucified, and the glory of God shining in the darkness of Calvary in splendor without a parallel — every divine attribute supremely glorified: infinite Righteousness, Holiness, Wisdom and Power alike resplendent in that scene of unmeasured Love, where perfect goodness gains its supreme and everlasting triumph over evil, and where all that is infinite finds its eternal center. Oh the mysteries, the heights and the depths of the death of Christ! The ages of eternity will not suffice to exhaust the deep meaning of these two words “Christ died.” My soul, ponder! wonder! and adore!
5th. Christ Is Risen
He has been here, and the world around about us has been actually traversed by His blessed feet; but, look as you may, He is not here today. Somewhere in Palestine is a place, which the wise providence of God has prevented our actually locating: there is His grave-the very spot in which His holy body was laid; but if we could look in yonder grave today we should find that He is not there.
Where, then, is He? The 3rd chapter of 1st Peter gives reply in words that tell us of “the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him.” He is there! We need to lay hold of the FACT that Christ is risen. He is not a “spirit,” as many conceive of Him, but a real living Man seated at this very moment in heavenly splendor in the glory of God, and having in His hands and feet the marks of earth-given wounds.
6th. The Holy Spirit Is Here
We do not dwell on the results which flow from the presence of so wonderful a Person, but invite attention to the bare fact itself, that here on earth today the third Person in the divine Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, is present and is dwelling (John 14:16-17). In Old Testament days He did not dwell on the earth, though He exercised influences over men here, but at Pentecost He came Himself to take up His abode on earth, in and with the Christian company. He is here. To theorize on the matter, however correctly, will not affect us, but if we ponder the truth itself we cannot but be moved by a fact so immense.
7th. Christ Is Coming Again
The last statement of the inspired volume is “Surely I come quickly” — a clear and positive declaration. Here and in many another passage of Holy Writ is distinctly brought before us the fact that Christ is coming again.
The doctrine of the second coming of Christ is accepted by multitudes of Christians today, but doctrine alone does not affect men. What we need to get hold of is the fact itself, the immense fact, that He, who has been here, is coming again.
Just as the instant came when Christ was born in Bethlehem and Micah’s prophecy written 700 years before was fulfilled; just as the appointed hour came round when Christ should become a sacrifice for sin, and Christ died, thus fulfilling Scripture; and just as the third day, long foretold, at last dawned, when Christ arose, according to the Scriptures, so the day is actually fixed in God’s account, and the very moment is appointed and fast drawing near, when this last great prophecy will be fulfilled and Christ will — COME. We never were nearer to that instant than we are Now.
Oh, may the Lord awaken us from all that is merely theoretical, and give us to take sober account of these immense facts, thus shall we be divinely and profoundly affected in heart, life and ways.

Papers on Service: The Condition of Men

“An All-Around Ministry”
The Condition of Men
You will not attempt to teach a tiger the virtues of vegetarianism; but you might as hopefully attempt that task as try to convince an unregenerate man of the truths revealed by God concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment to come. These spiritual truths are repugnant to carnal men, and the carnal mind cannot receive the things of God. Gospel truth is diametrically opposed to fallen nature; and if I have not a power much stronger than that which lies in moral suasion, or in my own explanations and arguments, I have undertaken a task in which I am sure of defeat. Except the Lord endow us with power from on high, our labor must be in vain, and our hopes must end in disappointment.
The Servant’s Need
“Who is sufficient for these things?” We are weak, exceedingly weak, every one of us. If there is one weaker than the rest, and knows that he is so, let him not be at all cast down about that: for the best man, if he knows what he is, knows that he is out of his depth in this sacred calling. Well, if you are out of your depth, it does not matter whether the sea is forty feet or a full mile deep. If the sea is only a fathom deep, you will drown if you be not upborne; and if it be altogether unfathomable, you cannot be more than drowned. The weakest man is not, in this business, really any weaker than the strongest man, since the whole affair is quite beyond us, and we must work miracles by divine power, or else be total failures. If, therefore, omnipotence be not within hail, and if the miracle-working power is not within us, then the sooner we give up the better. Wherefore should we undertake what we have not the power to perform? Supernatural work needs supernatural power; and if you have it not, do not attempt to do the work alone, lest, like Samson, when his locks were shorn, you should become the jest of the Philistines.
This supernatural force is the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God Himself. It is a wonderful thing that He should work His marvels of grace through men. It is strange that, instead of speaking, and saying with His own lips, “Let there be light,” He speaks the illuminating word by our lips! Do you not marvel at this, and that He should treasure His gospel in these poor earthen vessels, and accomplish these miracles by messengers who are themselves so utterly unable to help Him in the essential parts of His heavenly work? Turn your wonder into adoration, and blend with your adoration a fervent cry for Divine power. O Lord, work by us to the praise of Thy glory!
Do Your Own Work
Charles the Twelfth of Sweden had his secretary sitting by his side, writing from dictation, when a bomb-shell fell through the roof into the next room. The secretary, in alarm, dropped his pen, upon which the king exclaimed, “What are you doing?” The poor man faltered, “Ah, Sire, the bomb!” The king’s answer was: “What has the bomb to do with what I am telling you?”
You will say that the secretary’s life was in danger. Yes, but you are safe in any case, for by your side is the Master, whom you serve, and no evil can befall you. Watch on, work on, leave the times and seasons with God. If He has made you a preacher of gospel, or given you service of any kind, you must attend to His work; you must continue to deliver your message even though the earth be removed, and the mountains cast into the depths of the sea.

The Perfections of Jesus: Prophet, Priest and King

J. T. Mawson
Prophet, Priest and King
“Whatsoever things, are lovely.... think on these things,”
We waste no time when thinking of Jesus, for every thought of Him yields present delight and is of eternal value. All the wisdom that the minds of men can evolve will pass like smoke, but every Holy Spirit given thought of Him will abide as a priceless possession forever. It is the understanding of Him which “is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold of her, and happy is everyone that retaineth her” (Prov. 3:14-18).
To the anointed eye, and opened ear, and devoted heart the Bible is full of Jesus and His beauty. He shines forth in the Old Testament through type and shadow, and no types are of greater interest and instruction than those in connection with the tabernacle in Israel.
The tabernacle in its largest interpretation is figurative of the wide universe of God, when everything in it will be subject to His will. It sets forth that vast realm in which His glory will be displayed in and by Christ; this is the meaning of the expression translated in the authorized version “a worldly sanctuary” (Heb. 9:1).
There were three parts to it: the courtyard, the holy place, and the holy of holies; in this latter God dwelt in the midst of His people, and as nothing unsuitable to God could be allowed to abide in His dwelling-place, the things which He commanded should be there must typify that which is delightful to Himself. These things are enumerated for us in — Hebrews 9:4 “The golden censer, and the Ark of the Covenant overlaid round about with pure gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.”
The Ark of the Covenant was a type of Christ, it was made of an imperishable wood and overlaid with gold, the former speaking of His spotless and incorruptible humanity, the latter of the Divinity of His Person. He was here on earth “God manifest in the flesh,” very God yet perfect Man. This incarnation is a great mystery which the mind of man cannot fathom, but faith accepts it as the revelation of God, and, like the wise men from the east, bows down in adoration before the glory of the Person thus presented to us. In this ark were the three things referred to in our verse, and to them we will direct our attention.
The Golden Pot That Had Manna
The manna was that with which God fed His people in the wilderness. It conspicuated their complete dependence upon Him; but He was a God who never failed them, and this “corn of Heaven” fell for their needs throughout those forty years. They wearied of it and cried in rebellion against the Giver: “Our souls loathe this light bread” (Num. 21:5). But God said of that which they despised “Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony to be kept” (Ex. 16:33-34). It was as though God said “That manna is precious to Me, the people may despise it, but it shall be preserved in My dwelling place forever.”
But its preciousness lay in the fact that it typified Christ: that which was the food of men entirely dependent upon God, prefigured Him who came down from Heaven to live a life of complete dependence, and to tread the road of perfect obedience to God’s will. This was man’s true place Godward, and Jesus came to stand where all beside had fallen before the tempter’s power.
Though He was the Lord of Glory He was born in Bethlehem of Judea and laid in a manger; and the external lowliness of His birth was but the sign of that inward lowliness of heart which was perfect in Him. From that lowly advent to His glorious departure He was always dependent upon God, for He could say “I was cast upon Thee from the womb!” The devil brought all his wiles to bear upon Him, but Jesus stood firm in that dependence, and refused to look in any other direction than upward to God for all His need.
That life of dependence was also one of obedience. His ear was wakened morning by morning by His Father’s voice; He listened as the learner to His Father’s instructions, and went forth to fulfill His words, and do His works, no more and no less; this was His very life, His meat was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work.
The people saw His works and had to say “He hath done all things well.” His enemies heard His words, and were compelled to confess “Never man spake like this Man.” But did He take the praise of it to Himself? Nay, He said “The words are My Father’s words, and I do the works of Him that sent Me.” He was the Man without pride, the Bread of God come down from heaven to give life unto the world.
But while all this was manifested before the eyes of men, there was that which they could not see. They beheld a Man who refused the path of ease and chose the path of sorrows, Who refused to receive the preferments of the rich, or popularity with the poor; they could not understand Him, and hated Him in consequence. Even His disciples rebuked Him for it, but they did not know the motive and spring of that blessed life. He lived on account of His Father. His only motive in life was to please His Father, every throb of His heart was true to the One who sent Him. He was controlled and governed by His Father’s joy, His Father’s will. He was always one in mind and heart and purpose with His Father who sent Him. Thus He filled the infinite heart of God with satisfaction, while there shone forth from Him the glory of that grace which can fill with joy the heart of every creature beneath the sun.
But just as Israel loathed the manna, so men loathed the Sent One of God.’ “He was despised and rejected of men, and when they saw Him there was no beauty that they should desire Him.” And He had to say “Mine enemies speak evil of Me, when shall He die and His name perish” (Psa. 41) They wished to see and hear of Him no more, and a shameful cross was the end of that life, as far as men were concerned.
But God hath highly exalted Him. The precious manna has been placed in the golden pot, and put in the very dwelling of God. Not one thought, or word, or deed, or motion of the soul of that blessed humbled Man will ever be forgotten. The glory of that life shall fill eternity with its fragrance. Its imperishable beauty is now enthroned at the right hand of God, for He is there, and what He was, He is, and ever shall be.
But His exaltation has not increased His worth, for that were impossible. The Father’s throne is the only suited place for Him; and as He was here, so He ever will be there, the joy of God’s heart, and the wonder and joy of all the redeemed.
It was while here on earth in this lowly pathway, which led only to the cross, that He was the great prophet of God. He always delighted to speak of Himself as “sent,” and as the Sent One He fully declared the One whom mortal eye has never seen. He did this in all His words and works, and the revelation of God could not be more complete. It will abide forever; but as imperishable and eternal as the nature of God thus revealed, will be the perfections of Jesus as the Revealer of that nature.
Aaron’s Rod That Budded
There had been rebellion in Israel, and God instructed Moses to take the rods of the princes, one rod for each tribe, saying to him: —
“Thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you. And it shall come to pass that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom; and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you” (Num. 17:4-5).
Twelve dry staves were placed there as the sun went down; but when the morning dawned “the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth blossoms, and yielded almonds.”
The almond is figurative of resurrection, and in the blossoming of the high priest’s rod we have a striking type of the priestly office of the Lord Jesus, exercised in the power of resurrection. He could not be a priest on earth (Heb. 8:4), but having been raised from the dead, He has entered into the presence of God there to appear for His saints. This is His present position and service, the doctrine of which is unfolded for us in the Hebrew Epistle.
The chief result of the budding of Aaron’s rod was the removal of the murmurings of the people (verse 10). There is unmeasured comfort for us in this, for we are compassed with infirmity; all kinds of opposition confronts us in the path of faith; and there is also the chastening hand of God upon us, that we may be partakers of His holiness. In the midst of these things we should certainly become discouraged and murmur and repine, had we not an High Priest who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and Who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way. In the power of infinite and quenchless love He ever liveth to make intercession for us ‘ and His mighty intercession cannot fail. And though we see Him not with mortal eye, yet we know His sympathetic heart, for He made it known on earth; His tears were mingled with those of the weeping sisters by the grave of Lazarus, and He is just the same today, and we may prove as they did that His love is greater than the greatest sorrow that we can feel.
It is written “whoso offereth praise glorifieth God,” and He has redeemed us, that we might praise Him in the new song. The devil knows this, and uses every effort to make murmuring take the place of singing, so that God may be dishonored instead of glorified, But Jesus is our great High Priest that we might not fail in this way, and the resources of His grace are inexhaustible. He lives that we might draw largely upon these resources, so that the path of complete dependence upon God may be to us the path of great joy; and thus the very circumstances that the devil would use to make us murmur, become the cause for sweetest praise, for they turn us to Christ, and are the means of enabling us to experience His grace and sympathy, as we could not otherwise do. We have a most instructive example of this in the case of Paul, who was greatly tested by the thorn in the flesh; but to him the Lord could say “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness; and Paul’s response to this was” most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities” (2 Cor. 12:9). He was more than a conqueror through Him that loved him.
But the Lord Jesus also fulfills His priestly services towards us ‘because we are sons of God. God is “bringing many sons to glory”; they are so precious to Him, and such is their dignity, that He could not commit them to the care of an archangel; there is only one Person great enough and competent for this charge, even the One who is so constantly spoken of in the Hebrew epistle as Jesus. In obedience to the will of God, and to carry out His plan with regard to His people, He has become the Captain of our salvation; and “ such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners; made higher than the heavens;” and Who is able to save to the uttermost all “that come unto God by Him.” (Heb. 7:25, 26). He cannot break down or fail in this service to God’s blood-bought sons; His mercy, faithfulness, and power are all engaged to bring them safely home, because they belong to God; and it is His delight, as the Servant of God’s pleasure, to do God’s will with regard to them.
A little child wanders from its home, and is in danger of being hurt in the crowded thoroughfare, but a dear friend of that child’s mother sees it standing all bewildered amid the whirling traffic. He takes it in charge and because it is hungry he feeds it, because it is tired he carries it, and at length bears it through all the dangers of the street to the mother’s arms. That means much to that child, but who can tell how the mother will appreciate such a service!
So it is the heart of our great High Priest is full of compassion; He feeds, and carries, and cares for us,
“His watchful eye shall keep
Each pilgrim soul amongst the thousands
of God’s sheep,”
until at last we reach the home of our God. We shall praise Him forever for this service of infinite love to us, but if it has meant so much to us, what will it have meant to God? How will He appreciate it? Every beloved child brought safely ‘home, in spite of all the wiles of the foe; brought home too, with songs of gladness, instead of voice of murmuring. We may be sure that God will never forget this. The rod that budded shall be associated with the pot of manna, and laid up before Him forever. The faithfulness of Jesus, in accomplishing God’s will as the High Priest of His people, will never be out of God’s memory, and it shall shine in imperishable glory to the utmost bounds of the universe of God.
The Tables of Stone
God brought Israel out of Egypt to be a kingdom for Himself, in the which His will should be maintained and His righteous character manifested; and this will and character was embodied in the ten commandments. The first tables were broken e’er ever they reached the camp of Israel, for the people had already violated the laws they contained. But God, in mercy, said to Moses:
“Hew thee two tables like unto the first, and come up unto Me in the mount and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou breakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark” (Deut. 10:1-2).
The tables of stone foreshadow the time when the once-rejected Nazarene shall have dominion to the ends of the earth. This is evidenced by the fact that they alone were placed in the ark when the temple of Solomon was built (1 Kings 8:9). The temple glory is the glory of the millennial kingdom, while that of the tabernacle sets forth what is eternal.
Those commandments were broken by Israel, but when the true King comes they will be kept throughout His far-stretching domain; He will administrate according to them for the glory of God. The first request of the kingdom prayer is that God’s will shall be done on earth, and this prayer shall receive an abundant answer, for God will have everything that He has introduced perfectly fulfilled.
Jesus was “born King of the Jews,” but He did not at once take up the scepter of government, for “His own received Him not;” and since those laws had been broken by those to whom God gave them, He, as the true Israelite, must keep them.
The law was maintained inviolate in His heart, it was His meditation day and night, He saw the glorious things in it, He fulfilled and magnified it, for He was the One who loved the Lord His God with all His heart, and His neighbor as Himself. He showed the way of righteousness for all His subjects, by being completely subject Himself, and by that subjection has proved His right, as well as His competency, to rule. But righteousness is not the only quality that the Lord as King possesses. He presented Himself to His people as meek and compassionate: to Him the blind and the lame came in the temple, and as their King He healed them; all evil fled before His blessed touch, and so glad were the children made by His presence that they could not refrain from singing, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” It was this King that was despised and crucified.
But He is coming again; His enemies shall lick the dust; all kings shall fall down before Him, and all nations shall serve Him. He will arise with healing in His wings, and deliver the needy when they cry; He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds. For one glorious millennium this poor sin-riven earth shall be at rest, righteousness shall flourish, all shall know the Lord, and peace shall cover men as a garment. But all this will be because of the greatness of the King, in whose heart the law of God is enshrined.
The kingdom will be right because the King is righteous. He will administrate on God’s behalf, and govern His people as a Shepherd, and maintain them in the ways and will of God by the power of His priestly grace — for He will be a Priest upon His throne (Zech. 6:13) — so that not only will that law have been carried out by one perfect Man, but it will also be maintained and administered by that Man in a wide-stretching kingdom for the eternal glory of God. No one but Jesus, in whom infinite perfections dwell, could carry this out; and when He has done this, then shall He give up that kingdom to God.
But though that reign of woo years shall come to an end, the glory of the King will not be forgotten. The tables of stone are placed with the rod that budded, and the pot of manna, in the dwelling-place of God; and when this creation has served its purpose, and been folded up as a garment and set aside, the perfections of Jesus, as Prophet, Priest, and King — the full, making-known of God in all His ways with men — shall be the eternal glory of the new heavens and the new earth.
Meantime while these perfections are hidden from the eyes of the world, believers have boldness to go right in to the presence of God where they forever shine; for the precious all-atoning blood is there upon the Mercy Seat, and that blood is their title to be there (Hebrews 10:19-22). There in the very presence of God they may feed upon Christ as the manna; be maintained by Him as the rod ‘that budded; and have Him for a pattern as the tables of stone; and as their souls enter into the glories of Christ which yield such delight to God, they are able to use the golden censer — which is symbolical of worship — and pour forth their hearts in adoration before the God whom Christ has fully declared.
From out the gloom of sin’s dark night,
And direful fear of wrath to come,
Our souls have passed, drawn by a light
Above the brightness of the sun.

Where rolled death’s billows, brightly
shone
That light of love with fervent flame;
Now throned amid the glory, Lord,
Thy love for us is still the same.

Within our souls there riseth up
A love responsive unto Thine;
We long to see Thee in that place,
Where all Thy glories shine.

No breath of time shall ever quench,
This holy flame of love to Thee,
For that which Thine own hand hath lit,
Shall burn eternally.
Faith never goes home with an empty basket.
As you pamper the flesh you hamper the Spirit.

The Authority of Scripture: No. 2 - The Fall

James Boyd
No. 2. — The Fall
No other book has ever received a similar amount of attention at the hand of friend and foe. The contentions concerning its sayings have been continuous, cruel, and sanguinary. Hell has stormed at it, earth has hallooed after it, and fires have been kindled with the parchments upon which it was written; but its lovers have succored it, sheltered it, cherished it, studied its pages, imbibed its life-giving utterances, and with the precious volume clasped within their trembling hands, and its heavenly truths engraven upon their hearts, they have passed away from earth into the presence of Him of whom it speaks. It has been loved with all the love of the human heart under the influence of heaven, and it has been hated with all the hatred of the soul under the influence of the abyss of evil. On its account men have ever been ready to kill, or to be killed. The world will not have it, and yet it remains in it. The mare it has been persecuted, the more it has multiplied and grown.
In defense of its sayings the hearts’ blood of thousands has been freely poured forth. Its followers have been counted the offscourings of the earth, and have been murdered without mercy. They have been reckoned by the world as sheep for the slaughter, cast out among the unclean, the lawless and the transgressors; hunted among mountains, dens, and caves of the earth, and slaughtered wherever they were found. But when the world was finished with them, God came out and wrote their epitaph, and it reads thus: “Of whom the world was not worthy.”
Like Him of whom it testifies it finds itself in a world hostile to its teachings, and therefore is it despised and rejected of men; but like Him it passes onward in its unostentatious pathway of mercy, doing good, and healing all oppressed of the devil, for God is with it.’ Into an evil world it has come, but were the world not evil it would have no mission here. Had man remained as God made him such a revelation would have been unnecessary, for when he was made he had all the light needful to maintain him in the relationship in which he was placed with his Maker. But fallen man must have light beyond what was required for an innocent creation, if ever he is to be recovered for God.
But the wiselings of today will not believe that man is fallen. If he is not fallen he must be as God made him, and if he is as God made him I fail to see how he can be improved. Yet those who contend against the truth of the fall, are the people who are loudest in their demands for such legislation as will enable them to set about improving the race. Could I be led to believe that God made man as he is, I would have to discard the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and substitute in His place an evil being. It is impossible to entertain the idea of a Creator, and have any other thought than that everything created by Him has been created for His pleasure. And indeed this is just what Scripture teaches: “For Thy pleasure they are, and were created,” (Rev. 4:11). Therefore if there has been no fall, and men are as He made them, and consequently just in the condition in which He takes delight, and if He takes delight in them as I see them, what kind of a Being is He? Men make things in which they can take delight, and by which they may be served, and no man will intentionally and premeditatedly make anything that will be a grief to his heart. And I am sure the Creator will not. Therefore He must be understood by the state, the moral state, in which His creature is created.
Now the heavens are said in Scripture to declare the glory of God (Ps. 19.), but the earth never. Looking upward at the heavens with our natural eyes everything appears to us in the most perfect order. There is no confusion there, no conflict between the heavenly bodies, everything moves in the most perfect harmony together; there is no trespass committed by one inhabitant of the blue expanse against its neighbor; there is no noise of contending forces; one spirit seems to permeate the vast heavenly host, and all is peace. But when we turn to earth it is hell let loose. A pandemonium of discord jars upon the ear. Violence and corruption are seen everywhere. Scenes of horror fill the vision, and groans of despair grate upon the ear. Hatred, falsehood, outrage, murder, and suicide, stalk naked through the land. Pestilence, famine, hunger, nakedness, and death, cause the shriek of anguish to drown the revelry of gladsome day, and rend the bosom of the black-browed night. And I am told man is not fallen!
We are told that man is just is he should be at the present moment of his history, but that he will not ever be thus. He is struggling upward, and the goal is within measurable distance. Is it? From my observation of the progress things are making I should say he is struggling downward, and making very rapid progress in his descent. That men are better educated than they were a century ago is not in question. Possibly the poor eat better, and are better clothed also; but that men are more moral, that they love one another better, that they are more law-abiding, that they are less selfish, that they are more faithful in their relations of life, and that they are more to be trusted than they were a century ago, I do not believe. Take away the steam engine and the dynamo-electric machine; dispense with railway, telegraph, and telephone, and with all the trappings of the present century civilization, and have a good look at society, and you will find little to boast in above the savage.
We are told that nobody believes the Genesis account of the fall. One often wonders what kind of company these Bible critics keep. I think I might safely undertake to find some thousands of people who have never questioned it; and these are not men who readily take things for granted. It is asserted that the offense committed by Adam in the Garden of Eden was of too trivial a nature to entail such consequences. But this seems to me to be a very superficial and foolish kind of reasoning. I fail to see that it could have made any real difference what test it might have pleased God to apply to man. The gravity of man’s offense is not to be estimated by the intrinsic value of the article purloined; there was nothing in that at all. He might have eaten of that tree as well as of any other had it not been forbidden. The interdiction against eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ought not have been difficult for Adam to observe; it was not a heavy rent to pay for such a large estate. He was the vice-regent of God upon earth, made so by his indulgent Creator, and the tree which was forbidden to him was the witness that the earth and the fullness thereof were the Lord’s, and that Adam was not sole proprietor. The tree became a test of his loyalty to his Creator. The tribute demanded from him was a mere bagatelle, but this very fact made his transgression all the more inexcusable.
Had the toll demanded from the creature been a heavy tax upon his resources, compassion for the rebel would have been more pardonable, but the trivial tax upon such enormous wealth brought to light the hidden secret of the rebel’s heart, and the creature is manifested in his attempt to grasp Divinity itself. This was the bait which the arch deceiver of mankind dangled before the eyes of his victim, and which tempted him to transgress the commandment. Why should he have desired to be on equality with God? He should have had confidence enough in the goodness of his Creator to have enabled him to refuse such a bait.
But I need not waste words in bringing the gravity of the offense of Adam into light; the reader knows his own natural heart well enough to be conscious of the fact that, if he were able to bring its desires about, no one would occupy the throne of the universe but himself. In this world every man seeks to get all the power into his own hands, and had he the throne of the world it would not satisfy him, he would want the throne of the universe also. This suggestion instilled into the heart of Adam by the devil will reach its culmination in the “man of sin,” who will allow no one to worship any god but himself. He will take the place of God upon earth, and will put to death all who resist his blasphemous pretentions (2 Thess. 2. and Rev. 13).
But in spite of man’s denial that he is in a fallen condition, and in spite of his claim to be something, he is really ashamed to come out in the truth of his condition. We shelter ourselves from the inquisitiveness of our neighbors, and resent every attempt made by them to scrutinize our affairs. It may be nothing but idle curiosity prompts them to get near to us, but it is not because we know this that we so strongly resent their advances, and determine to hold them at arm’s length. Were we certain they could not find anything discreditable about us, we should not be so upset by their unmannered curiosity. Were everything that could be known about us creditable to us, we would be glad to be manifested before the assembled universe. But we shrink from exposure because we are unfit to be seen as we really are. This is very strange, especially as we know that others are no better than ourselves. They shrink from our penetrating gaze as timidly as we do from theirs.
But the knowledge of this does not help us, or make us bolder, for each of us has got his own secrets, of which he is rightly ashamed. Like Ham we are ready to sneer at the nakedness of our neighbor, but we are all very careful, when in our senses, not to babble into the ear of the world the secrets of our own guilty lives. My neighbor does not know me as I know myself, and I am determined that he shall remain in his ignorance. We keep our respective distances. I do not pry into the thoughts of his heart, and I expect the same consideration from him. This is all “fig leaves.” We are very pleased to find that people do not walk about in their naked hideousness; and should one of us expose himself in his moral degradation, we feel it to be an offense against all that is becoming, and insulting to society. Each person is at liberty to think whatever he pleases, and he may do what he pleases, as long as it does not injure his neighbor, but he must be careful that it does not get abroad. He must wear the “fig leaves,” or become ostracized from society.
Some of these haters of the Bible cannot understand any intelligent person continuing to believe in the fall of man as it is taught in Genesis. We are told that the legend was in existence as oral tradition long before Genesis was written. How it could be otherwise I am at a loss to know, and were it otherwise the fact would go far to prove it mere fiction. That the human race could be ignorant of the fall until Moses wrote the account of it is inconceivable. It was bound to travel with the posterity of Adam down the centuries. No doubt it would lose nothing by the telling in its travels, and therefore is it found in distorted forms in various countries, but in Genesis we have it in its simple naked truth.
We are told by some that it is scarcely alluded to in the Old Testament writings. Why should it be? Where was the need for constant repetition? It is referred to however, but had I found it very frequently referred to by the prophets, it would greatly have depended upon the setting in which I found it, whether my suspicion as to the writers’ faith in it would not have been aroused. Indeed it is seldom referred to in the New Testament, and when it is referred to, it is not hard to see the writer takes it for granted that those to whom he writes do not question the fact. It has no need to be proven in a world like this.
The difficulty with the philosophers of the world seems to lie in the fact that, whether man be fallen or not, his moral state is far from being satisfactory. As a general thing God is either altogether left out, as regards the theories of these men, or everything is God, whether it be man, bird, beast, reptile, or sponge. A God who is objective to His creation, neither of them confess. The evolutionists have got the whole creation upon a ladder whose top and bottom are both alike enveloped in impenetrable gloom. What he came from and what he is to arrive at are wrapped in obscurity. They think man is advancing toward a perfect state, but what that state is to be they know not. Some of us are quite certain that man is retrograding. That those who call themselves Christians are on the down-grade, no one will question who reads the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and believes it to be a true account of the state of things in the Church at the beginning.
That men in these Islands are better governed than they were in the middle ages goes without saying, but if the crowd were let loose today, who would not tremble for the consequences? The deeds of the French revolution, if not worse, would be repeated. I fail therefore to see how men are better morally. I may be told that the fact that good laws exist is in itself a proof of a better moral state. I cannot accept it, for men do not make laws for themselves but for their fellows. Those who make them are often found guilty of breaking them. The luster of the world is artificial; what is natural is corrupt. Under an apparently well ordered community smolders a veritable hell of horrible rebellion, and this the powers that be will learn one of these days.
Those who think they see God in everything, are, in their own imagination, themselves God; and the fall is the incarnation of God in nature, so they tell us. This mysterious Power, which is themselves and the sponge, and all that lies between in the way of life, is finding expression in the universe, and they tell us that it is only as we read Him in the universe that we can know anything about Him. God, we are told, can only know His own capabilities as He is confronted by opposing forces, therefore He creates the forces that He may become known to Himself. If I could so degrade myself as to accept such a horrible idea, I would be very much interested to know what He thinks of Himself, when He sees Himself in the universe 1 Is this great mysterious Power contemplating Himself in the battle field, where men, who know not why they are pitted against one another, maim and murder until their feet slip in the hot red heart-blood of friend and foe? I wonder what the “god” of these men’s imagination thinks of himself as he looks at the violence and corruption which fill the earth, and at nature foaming at the mouth and “red in tooth and claw with ravin”!
How strange it is that man will have anything as a god, rather than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The reason, surely, is that if I confess Him, I must myself go down in the dust in His presence, and confess myself to be a poor, fallen, unworthy sinner, dependent upon His mercy and grace for my salvation. Pride has no place in the presence of the true God, and therefore must the proud heart of man be ever in deadly hostility to Him. Blessed be. His name, He can so work in His grace in our hearts that we are made to acknowledge the truth of the Book which discovers us to ourselves, and, turning to Him in the judgment of ourselves, to leave the decision of our eternal welfare in His own hands.

How May Christ Become a Living Reality to the Soul?

On several occasions recently questions akin to the above have been put to us by young men. The questions are a cause of thanksgiving, for they denote a yearning of soul after the Lord and His things, akin perhaps to that which possessed the heart of David when he cried, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God” (Psalm, 42:1-2).
We might quote from such letters of inquiry did our space permit;, letters which whilst giving, as we have said, cause for thanksgiving, yet also bring sad thoughts, for we find that some are inclined to question whether after all there is reality in Christianity, and whether the acceptance of Christ does make any difference in the life. The superficiality and increased worldliness of many who profess Christ, and the terribly deadening effect of the widely spreading “new theology” doctrines will account for much of this, but it behooves all those who love the Lord in sincerity and truth to look to their ways.
In this connection we venture to quote from a contemporary magazine the words of one who seems to have touched the spring of things. He writes: —
“Eyes are fixed upon each one of us who names the name of Christ. They are eager eyes, hungry eyes, the eyes of imprisoned and perishing souls; and while those observers may make no comment, they are asking within themselves: ‘ Does it make any difference in one’s life?’
“What answer do they get to that question as they regard your life and mine? What are they reading day by day, and what conclusion are they reaching? The answer will be found in the answer to that other question: Unto whom are we living — unto self or unto Him?’
“Living unto Him is the normal, and hence the happy and fruitful life for them that live.’ The believer is in Christ.’ His interests are where Christ is, at the right hand of God.
“To live for self, to go on in the old ways, to be making provision for that old man’ with whom God could do nothing — and whose corrupted nature brought the Prince of Life under the power of death, even the shameful death of the cross — to seek gratification among the perishing things of a dying world, is to them that live’ an utterly abnormal existence, which can yield only disappointment and loss of peace in this life, and of rewards in that which is to come. Moreover, abiding in Christ is the condition of fruit-bearing (John 15:4, 5); and even if it were possible for a living one to find gratification, sustenance, and occasional pleasure in a dying creation, the consciousness of the waste and unprofitableness of such a life would rob it of all real joy.”
So much for those who are established in the knowledge of the Lord. We will seek now to help those whose desire is expressed in our title, and in order to do so as effectively as possible, we offer reply to the question raised in the words of several contributors.
Answer (1)
W. B. Westcott
The historical fact of Christ — that He lived and died — is generally admitted today.
Speculation and argument as to the nature of His Person, and the value of His life and death, are as numerous and contradictory as ever, but few persons doubt that He was actually on earth.
An historical personage, however, great as he may be, does not in any way affect my heart or draw out my affections. I may admire his life — as it is recorded for me — and even try to imitate it, but there the matter ends.
With Christ, however, it is different. There have been thousands who have laid down their lives for Him, and at this moment there are tens of thousands who love Him more than all beside.
The reasons for this are simply that He lives and that He loves. Caesar is dead, Mahomet is dead, Napoleon is dead, but Jesus lives.
This is the great fact to lay hold of if we wish Christ to become a reality to our souls. Christianity does not consist in a creed, nor a collection of sayings, but in a Person known and loved, whose present influence is seen in the transformed lives of men regenerate.
It is wonderful to consider that in the world today there are living numbers of men and women whose lives are controlled and whose ways are ordered by a Person they have never seen! This would be entirely visionary and sentimental if such people were not assured by evidence completely trustworthy that this Person is Real, and Living and Mighty.
This knowledge they have gained from the Book that speaks so fully of Him, and which has been interpreted to them by the Holy Spirit, whose mission is to make Him known.
How then is the Lord Jesus Christ to become a reality to me? In the same way in which many a heart in heathen lands has learned His preciousness. They believed the report of His greatness, His love, and the value of His precious blood, and thus their hearts were won. Never had such news fallen upon their ears before, and the wonder of it filled their souls. Let us in these favored lands — upon which the sun of the gospel never sets — sit down and meditate, as though the truth were new to us, upon the life and death, the resurrection and the glory of the One who died for us.
One sentence in itself would be sufficient to amaze, to captivate, to thrill the heart.
Listen! “ ... The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Eternity itself will not give time enough to enter fully into the meaning of these wondrous words. Say them to yourself — if you would have Christ become a reality to your soul — as you walk along the street, as you stand behind the counter, or in the shipyard or the factory. And ever bear in mind that He loves His own to the end, and that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever — yesterday, when He died for you, to-clay, as He lives for you, and to-morrow, when He comes to take you to be with Himself forever.
“Who is this me?” said Martin Luther, referring to the text above-quoted; “Christ delivered Himself up for me; yes, for me, who am such a wretched and miserable sinner. Say me’ with all thy might, print this pronoun me,” me,’ — for the word is written for thee — print this pronoun indelibly on thy heart, and thou hast the gospel of Christ.”
If I would have Christ to be a reality to me I must be assured that I am a reality to Him — in other words that He takes a personal interest in me — in my salvation, in my pathway, in my service.
To reason thus will not fill me with a sense of my own importance, but will cause my heart to overflow with praise to the One who, though so great and glorious, condescended to notice, to love, to die for, even me.
Very helpful, too, will it be to form the habit of taking the Lord Jesus Christ into my confidence about everything that interests me. Nothing is too minute to tell Him of, and no one is so true, so wise, so loving.
Needless, perhaps, to say, I cannot company with Christ, and realize His presence, apart from the Holy Spirit. Therefore is it of all importance not to grieve the One who dwells within me. If I sin, a shadow falls at once upon my spirit, and the Lord withdraws. Confession, then, is a necessity if I would be restored, for it is written “without holiness shall no man see the Lord.”
Neglect of prayer, hasty and careless reading of the Scriptures, slothfulness or undue activity in service, a sectarian or bitter spirit, indulgence in some harmful habit, worldliness — these are some of the things that make Christ alien to the heart He fain would fill. And yet —
“Still sweet ‘tis to discover, if clouds have
dimmed my sight,
When passed, Eternal Lover, towards me,
as e’er, Thou’rt bright.”
One thing must be emphasized as a sine qua non’ in connection with our question.
I must be much alone with Christ, if He is to become a reality to me. Service, the communion of saints, the general meetings for prayer or worship — none of these can be substituted for the quiet hour in which the Lord Himself speaks to me as no one else can do.
Answer (2)
W. Bramwell Dick
Let us open our Bibles at Acts 7, where we read of a man to whom Christ was a living reality. Stephen had trusted Christ, he had preached Christ, and now he was about to die for Christ’s sake. Surrounded by his enemies who clamored for his blood, they “saw his face as it had been the face of an angel (ch. vi. 15), though he did not know it. With no uncertain sound he presented the truth till they winced and winced again. The critical moment arrived, every man took stone in hand to hurl at God’s honored servant, but for an instant they were held in check, while he “full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into Heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God” (ch. 7:55-56.) What a sight! Is it any wonder that, after that, he kneeled down and prayed for his foes; and while they might claim that they murdered him, the Holy Spirit records — “he fell asleep.” Thus it was with one who died. Now let us see how it worked out in one who lived.
Witness of Stephen’s death was a young man called Saul. He had seen how, with Christ as a living reality, one of His servants could die, soon he was to learn how, with Christ as a living reality, he should live. Arrested by a light which blinded him to this world ever after, he heard a Voice that dulled his ears to every sound of earth; he saw the face on which Stephen gazed, and at that moment the citadel of his life was captured, his heart was won, and his experience has been well expressed in the familiar lines: —
“I have heard the voice of Jesus,
Tell me not of aught beside;
I have seen the face of Jesus,
And my heart is satisfied.”
From that day the Lord Jesus Christ was everything to him. Probably the world labeled him a monomaniac; he was a man of one idea. His desire was to live Christ (Phil. 1:21); to preach Christ (Gal. 1:15-16); and that in his converts Christ might be formed (Gal. 4:19). Thirty years after conversion, after experiencing vicissitudes and trials such as no other servant of Christ ever had, stripped of everything in which as a natural man he might have boasted, incarcerated in a Roman prison, he wrote to the Philippians, “To live is Christ” (1:21); to depart is to be “with Christ” (1:23); in chapter 3 he reviewed the past and wrote, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (vs. 7). Contemplating the present, we find him pressing on that he might know Christ (3:8-9-10); while looking on the future he told them he was looking for Christ (vss. 20-21).
Here we have a sample man to whom Christ was a living reality. Right across his history from conversion to martyrdom may be written CHRIST, for in him Christ was expressed. In looking, then, at his career, we have the answer to our query. The Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God, the mighty Conqueror of Calvary, the Rejected of earth, the Accepted in Heaven, the once Thorn-crowned, now crowned with glory and honor, led him captive; the great love that led Him to die for the chief of sinners, filled and thrilled his whole being. He whom God had enthroned in glory, Paul enthroned in his heart; he surrendered every crevice of it, he gave him the key of his whole future existence; and he brooked not for a single moment anyone or anything that threatened to rival Christ’s place in his affections.
Someone may remark: “But he was an apostle.” He was; we are now considering, however, his experience not as an apostle, but as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is open to every true Christian who reads these pages. Christ, then, will become to us a living reality, as we get to know Him where He now is; as we realize that He who fills the throne of God, and will shortly occupy the throne of the Universe, claims the throne of our hearts; and as we unreservedly place ourselves under His blessed rule.
This is not accomplished by a series of pious resolutions, nor by a process of lopping off or giving up; it is gained when we “swing the heart’s door widely open,” and “bid Him enter.” Then everything unsuited to Him is displaced; He fills and He satisfies. Then, whether the maid in the kitchen or the mistress in the drawing room, the tradesman at the bench or the employer in the office, the obscure tract distributor or the better known gospel preacher, in any and every sphere, Christ is a living reality, and we become living “epistles known and read of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2).
Shall we bend our knees, close our eyes, and conscious that no eye but His is upon us, and that no ear but His hears us, say: —
“Just as I am — Thy love, I own,
Has broken every barrier down:
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come!”

“Just as I am — of that free love
The breadth, length, depth and height
to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O, Lamb of God, I come!”

“Just as I am — by Thee set free,
That Thou mayest now become to me,
A living, bright reality:
O, Lamb of God, I come!”
=============================
Never was there a lock of soul-trouble yet, but what there was a key to open it in the Word of God. For our pain, here is an anodyne; for our darkness, a lamp; for our loneliness, a Friend.
A cripple on the right road is surer of the prize than a racer on the wrong.
Holiness is practical orthodoxy, and should walk hand-in-hand with doctrinal orthodoxy.
The great guardian principle of all conduct in the Church of God is personal responsibility to the Lord. No guidance of another can ever come in between an individual’s conscience and God. In Popery this individual conscience is taken away.
Your testimony now is to be enjoying Christ for yourself, and not to be looking at your testimony to the saints. As you enjoy Christ for yourself, saints will find it out, and that will be your testimony to them.
There is always energy in the Spirit. He is the untiring Servant of the Lord’s glory, and if we are led by Him “dull sloth” and lethargy will be cast aside. We are exhorted to walk in the Spirit, not rest, or sit still, but “walk.” The Spirit would move us onward and upward toward the goal, with the love of Christ holding the soul in its almighty grasp.

Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians

Edward Cross and Others
Comments preceded by the letter (R.) are communicated by our readers; those furnished by the contributors mainly responsible for this series of papers are preceded in each instance by their initials; whilst editorial comments are distinguished thus — (ED.).
1 Thessalonians 1
1 Thessalonians 1:1
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(ED.) — Of the three here mentioned the writer of the epistle is Paul. This is evidenced by verse 18 of chapter 2., where he says “Even I, Paul,” and by what follows; but, rendering honor to whom honor is due, Paul associates with himself, in the letter, the two who had been associated with him in the actual preaching of Christ which had brought these Thessalonians into blessing (see Acts 17, where Silas is evidently the person Paul speaks of as Silvanus), and in later service towards them (see Chapter 3:2 and compare 1 Corinthians 1:19, “The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus”).
Silas was a prophet, diligent in his service, and one of the “chief men among the brethren” (Acts 15:32, 34, and 22), whilst Timothy, who is mentioned last in order of the three — for there is always a beautiful fitness in the inspired writings — was evidently much younger both in the faith and in years (Acts 16:1; 1 Tim. 1:2 and 6:22).
(E. C.) — It is significant that here there is no mention of Paul’s apostleship, which is so distinctly asserted in the opening verses of other epistles, such as those, to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians, etc. Inquiry as to the reason for this leads us to note, briefly, the purpose of this epistle, and the state of those addressed.
The occasion for the writing of the epistle was the good tidings brought by Timothy, whom Paul had sent to inquire as to their state, knowing the affliction they were called upon to endure for the gospel’s sake (ch. 3:6). He was greatly comforted by what he heard, and out of a full heart he writes to encourage them, as well as also to perfect that which was still lacking in their faith (ch. 3:10), — though this he does rather from a moral and practical point of view than from one doctrinal and instructional. Not that the great truths unfolded elsewhere in his later epistles are ignored here; but their discussion is not yet called for. The epistle is not marked so much by depth of thought, profound reasoning, defense of the truth questioned or attacked, or by the revelation of hidden heavenly and eternal mysteries; but rather by the warmth of affection, and the burning desire of laboring love, the simplicity and exuberance of expression proceeding from a heart overflowing with a fresh and fervid spirit towards his newly converted children in the faith. Soon he will have occasion for words of authority and rebuke; but here we have only words of comfort, exhortation, and instruction, opening out as they do with thankfulness and prayer, and sealed at the close with “an holy kiss.” Therefore we have no mention here of his apostleship. It is as unnecessary as it would be inappropriate. Elsewhere he will use the authority of that title. Here it would be out of place.
So, too, he does not speak of his apostleship to the Philippians, “Inasmuch as both in his bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel they were all participators of his grace”: nor again in writing to Philemon, his “dearly beloved brother and fellow-laborer without whose mind he would do nothing”: there too it would be out of place; and in this epistle the pressure of authority is not needed, but rather the consolation and exhortation of sympathetic love.
(E. C.) — His address is “to the assembly of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” They alone are so addressed. The Corinthians are addressed as “the assembly of God,” etc, It was intended to emphasize that fact in contrast to what was merely human, and the repetition of the word “God” is characteristic of 1 Corinthians “The assemblies of Galatia” are addressed as the aggregate of those so associated in that province. Elsewhere Paul writes “to the saints,” etc. thus giving them their personal calling and character. Here he writes “to the assembly of the Thessalonians,” which is distinguished from other assemblies in that place as being “in God the Father” in opposition to what was pagan, and “in the Lord Jesus Christ” in contrast to the unbelieving Jews. They are thus set at once in the fullest measure of revealed grace in God the Father and in the direct consciousness of individual responsibility to the Lord Jesus Christ (compare 1 John 2:22). This starts, if I may so say, their Christian career.
(ED.) — “In God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Here, in the first verse of the first apostolic letter to the youngest of the churches addressed in Scripture, is the full revelation of God in Christianity; and though those addressed were only babes in Christ, they were in the same glorious light as the most experienced saint of God. They needed, undoubtedly, to be instructed in the truth of these relationships in which the gospel had placed them, and this truth is most blessedly unfolded in John’s epistle, but they needed no further revelation, for they were in the full shining of “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ;” all is wrapped up in this — the divine nature and eternal life, though these things are not the subject of the epistle.
(J.C.T.) — This is the only church spoken of as “in God the Father.”
They were babes in Christ, and it is of such that the apostle John writes in 1 John 2:13 — “I write unto you little children because ye know the Father.”
(R.) — “Grace be unto you and peace.” The ordinary Greek salutation is almost equivalent to the word “grace,” while “peace” is the ordinary Hebrew greeting. Taken by the Holy Spirit into the service of God, the words are greatly enlarged and deepened in meaning. Grace expresses God’s attitude towards men: peace, the result to all who receive that grace in Christ. Thus they sum up the gospel, and are used by the apostle in all his epistles.
(R.) — What is very noticeable in this chapter is the number of couplets and triplets of words and expressions which occur there, and indeed throughout the epistle. This may possibly be in view of adequate testimony, which these young converts required to strengthen and support their faith, for “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established,” and “a threefold cord is not easily broken” (2 Cor. 13:1; Matt. 18:16; Eccl. 4:12). Thus, for example, notice verse: Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus; verse 3, work of faith, labor of love, patience of hope; verse 5, in power, in the Holy Spirit, in much assurance; verse 6, in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit; verse 8, Macedonia, Achaia, in every place; 2:3, not of deceit, uncleanness or guile; 2:10, holily, justly and unblameably; 2:11, exhorted, comforted, charged; 2:19, hope, joy, crown of rejoicing; 3:2, brother, minister of God, fellow-laborer; 4:16, shout, voice of archangel, trump of God; 5:23, spirit, soul and body; etc., etc.
1 Thessalonians 1:2
“For you all, making mention of you in our prayers;”
(E.C.) — At once his heart bursts out in thanksgiving and in prayers for them all. Mark the fullness and overflowing of his spiritual affections on their behalf. How beautiful to contemplate! How lovely to dwell upon! Here is the thing as it ought to be. Here are the true pulsations of the Spirit of God.
Love, the great power that begets; love, the true nurse that cherishes the offspring that is begotten of it. And is it not the same Spirit in the gospel that begets today? Is it not the same Spirit in the assembly that cherishes that which is begotten? How earnestly therefore should we seek to cultivate this love, which is the greatest, the mightiest power of all.
(R.) — “For You All.” Christians differ in attainment, but there is always something of Christ in each, and hence always something for which to thank God.
1 Thessalonians 1:3
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;”
(E.C.) — Rightly too, as we can understand, the opening chapter of this prefatory epistle, if I may so call it, of Christian truth begins with the essential principles and characteristics of Christian life, the faith, hope, and love, which are its intrinsic qualities, the spring and power of the work, labor and patience in which it is expressed.
Christianity is not a pastime. The Son of God did not become incarnate merely to make us happy. He is our life, not merely a relief — a life energized by His own Spirit to the glory of God. We see it at once in these Thessalonian saints in its nature and in its fruit — the true expression of vital Christianity here on earth: — in faith that rises above the visible, and takes hold. of God, above all circumstances, and addresses itself to its allotted task with a single eye to His glory: — in hope that seizes the invisible, and realizes the promises, so that, with the future present to its view, it endures patiently the trials of the way, knowing that the exercise which is but for a moment will issue in eternal glory: — in love which is the potent spring of all blessedness, the very nature of God Himself, the almighty never-failing power of all good. This is the practical character of Christian life. This is the subject matter before us in the epistle. Other epistles will treat of the doctrines of Christianity; this treats of the characteristics of Christian life.
(ED.) — That faith, love and hope are the innermost springs of vital Christianity is evident from 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
(E.C.) — Observe the contrast in Revelation 2, where the Lord speaks to the Ephesians, saying, “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience... nevertheless I have against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent...” Work was there, labor was there, and patience was there — the outward form and habit abode, but the secret springs of life had failed — they had left their first love. Declension had set in, and declension of a most serious kind, involving, if not repented of, the removal of their candlestick as being no longer a proper testimony for God, and issuing in a long line of increasing corruption, until every vestige of Christianity is lost in the final apostasy, and the whole scene is swept by the devastating judgments of God. What a finale! And what a contrast to the freshness and beauty of this opening picture of Christian life at Thessalonica! How it should affect us! What serious reflections in us it should produce! And how earnestly should we seek grace and mercy from the Lord to enable us to walk humbly before Him, duly cultivating the springs of Christian life in our souls, so that we may escape the corruption that is in the world through lust! (Compare Psa. 1; 2 Pet. 1:11).
(R.) — Here we have that acceptable work which faith produces and prompts; labor which is the product of love, not of legal bondage; and patience born not of mere resignation to the inevitable, but of confidence in ultimate triumph.
1 Thessalonians 1:4
“Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”
(E.C.) These fruits of grace amongst them (verse 3) were an evident proof of their election of God.
(R.) — The word here used for “knowing” intimates that his knowledge came not by revelation, nor by intuition, but from observation; hence the rest of the chapter recounts what led Paul to conclude that these Thessalonians were among the elect of God.
1 Thessalonians 1:5
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”
(E.C.) — This tells not of the subject of the preaching, but of the manner of it, and the effect on them. Mark also the redundancy of expression in the threefold way in which it is expressed. In the exuberance of his feelings his language is molded in the same spirit. They received the Word of God objectively in power, instrumentally in the Holy Spirit, and subjectively in much assurance. Moreover, this testimony rendered to them in word was confirmed by the lives of those who had brought it to them in their midst.
1 Thessalonians 1:6
“And ye became followers of us, and of I the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the holy ghost:”
(J.C.T.) They became followers of the apostles, and of the Lord. To the Corinthian believers the apostle wrote: — “be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) we shall make no mistake if we follow the apostles as they followed Christ.
(R.) — The reception of the Word brought them into “much affliction” that was the outward result, but it also brought them into much “joy of the Holy Ghost”-that was the blessed inward result.
(J.C.T.) — Peter and John “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name.” There, too, we see joy and affliction going together.
(R.) — Contrast with this Matthew 13:20-21, where again we have the same three things associated, viz., the “reception of the word,” “joy,” and “affliction.” There the “word” is not really received in faith, so the “joy” is only superficial, and “affliction” is not patiently endured, but overwhelms.
1 Thessalonians 1:7
“So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.”
1 Thessalonians 1:8
“For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.”
(ED.) — Connect this with the last clause of the preceding verse. A joyful Christian is a good example.
(R.) — The word “ensamples” may be better translated “models.” These Thessalonians were “models to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” No other company of saints is thus spoken of in Scripture. To the Philippians, Paul and Timothy were models (ch. 3:17); Timothy was exhorted to be a model of the believers (1 Tim. 4:12; see also Titus 2:7, model of good works); the elders were to be models to the flock (1 Peter 5:3); but the Thessalonians alone, simply as saints, are spoken of as models to all around.
(E.C.) — These Thessalonian believers had become witnesses themselves, in their own lives and conduct, of the emancipating and uplifting power of the gospel in such wise that there was no further need for others to speak anything. And this is as it should be. Here is the true and visible effect of the gospel, bringing the saving light of God to souls, and enabling them, as saved and in the liberty and power of salvation known and enjoyed, to serve Him gladly in word and work. Here was the effect of the word of life seen in the Christian lives of those who had received it. Would that it were so seen amongst believers today. Let us pray earnestly that it be so.
(J.C.T.) — First, the practical life — “ensamples to all that believe,” then, “sounded out the word of the Lord.” It is a great thing when testimony flows out of the practical life.
(R.) — “The word of the Lord” is the message from the Lord, which is delivered with His authority, and made effective by His power.
(ED.) — Macedonia (now part of Turkey) was their own province, — there first is their witness rendered; then Achaia (the adjoining province, corresponding approximately to Greece); then more widely still. This is ever the order in Scripture, we must first be faithful in that which lies nearest at hand, then widen out. It is thus in the words of the risen Lord to His disciples, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both (1) in Jerusalem, (2) and in all Judea, (3) and in Samaria, (4) and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:18). The sphere of witness ever widens, but it begins at home.
1 Thessalonians 1:9
“For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;”
(R.) — The first clause of this verse shows that not only had the remarkable religious movement at Thessalonica influenced believers elsewhere (1 Thessalonians 1:7), but it had become a matter of general report, “a new thing” (Acts 17:21), of sufficient interest to give a zest to conversation even among men for whom the story had little significance.
Then is stated their deliberate turn to God from idols. Note the order, it is to God from idols; the motive in this conversion was not that they were repelled by the grossness of their idols, but that they were attracted by the grace and character of God.
(J.C.T.) — The order is important. Having got God, they could afford to drop idols. We must have the good, to enable us to drop the evil.
(E.) — “Living and true” is in contrast to “idols,” which are both dead and false.
(E.C.) — The power of idolatry was broken — the world worship of false gods, dead images of its own passions and fears.
(R.) — The word used for “to serve” signifies to discharge the duties of the purchased slave, to which there were no limitations either in the kind of service, or in the time of its performance. The whole life of the Christian is to be lived in obedience to the will of God.
1 Thessalonians 1:10
“And to wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
(ED.) — The second advent of the Lord Jesus occupies a prominent place in this epistle, and is mentioned in every chapter. It is to be the bright hope of the Christian, whether newly converted as were the Thessalonian believers, or long on the way as were the assemblies addressed in the last chapter of Revelation (verses 16-20).
(ED.) — “Raised.” Here is the cardinal truth of the gospel, and the demonstration of the mighty power of God.
“From the Dead.” In these words is enshrined the wondrous story of Calvary, where shines in all its splendor, its infinite depths and heights, the love of God, which, known and enjoyed, forms the hidden spring of the Christian’s glad service of the living and true God.
(J.C.T.). — Mark then what lay before them, and filled up their future: “Wrath.” The coming wrath I But what a contrast now. They were waiting not, for wrath, but for God’s Son from heaven, even Jesus; Who, having borne all the judgment Himself in His own body on the cross, had taken out of their future all wrath, and filled it instead with Himself! Blessed exchange! And this He has done for us. We wait not for death, or judgment, but for Him!
Their Past — Idolatry.
Their Present — Serving the living and true God.
Their Future — The coming of God’s Son from Heaven — Jesus, their hope and ours!
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EDITORS’ NOTE: Readers are invited to send us, in the FIRST week of each month, BRIEF expository comments on any or all of the separate verses contained in the portion to be considered the following month. Comments considered helpful, will be published, as far as space permits. Questions are also invited as to the meaning of any verse or part of a verse, on which special comment is desired. The portion to be considered in the March issue is Chapter 2 of the epistle.

Does God Care?

A. J. Pollock
It Did Not Look Like It
The accepted man, Abel, murdered in jealous hate by the refused man, Cain. It seemed for the moment, to be a sorry price to pay as the cost of God’s acceptance, though this latter was by virtue of his offering, type of our standing in God’s favor through the excellency of Christ’s offering. Abel was murdered, and this only hurried him into the everlasting peace of God’s presence. Was his usefulness on earth then cut short? Nay, he has preached longer than any preacher ever known. For one thing he began earlier than any; he was the first to die, and he being “dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4). His lips are more eloquent in death than they could have been in life. Ask Abel, “Does God care?” What answer will he give? There is only one possible answer, earnest and emphatic.
It Did Not Look Like It
The rough spoken lord of Egypt made it impossible for Jacob’s sons to return for corn, unless Benjamin was with them. The old man, bereaved of his loved wife, Rachel, and her firstborn, Joseph, clung with passionate affection to Benjamin, the sole link with that particular past. When at last he was compelled to part with him, he gave vent to his grief, “Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away’: all these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36). Were they -against him? He could not see far enough. Little did he think that the shadow of dreaded bereavement resting on his spirit, was in reality but the breaking of the clouds. Instead of losing Benjamin he was about to regain Joseph, and in regaining Joseph, every pinch of want would be a thing, of the past, as he lived in the land of Joseph’s providing, and received of his bounty, even though all the rest of the earth was famine stricken. Ask Jacob, “Does God care?” Hear him say to Joseph for answer, “I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo! God hath showed me also thy seed.” (Gen. 48:11).
It Did Not Look Like It
The children of Israel groaning under bitter bondage, smarting under the whip of the cruel taskmaster, their would-be deliverer doing nothing more heroic for forty long years than keeping the flock of his father-in-law at the backside of the desert. And when he made his first effort to gain release for his oppressed countrymen, it was only to make their plight still worse, as the word went forth that no more straw was to be given to the people, and yet the tale of the bricks was not to be diminished. When the people murmured against Moses, they did not look far enough. Could they have seen what lay before them, how differently they would have viewed things! To the question of “Does God care?” the song on the Red Sea’s banks gives triumphant answer.
It Did Not Look Like It
God’s anointed hunted like a partridge on the mountains, a king without a throne; at best a motley crew around him in the cave of Adullam, those distressed, in debt, discontented, all with their lives in their hands. It was a rough experience, and patience and endurance were sorely tried; yet tribulation taught David happier lessons than the prosperity of the throne. Those years of tribulation produced the Psalms, which have comforted the saints of God well nigh three thousand years. When Doeg, the Edomite, tells Saul that David had come to the house of Ahimelech, hear the answer of David’s heart to the question “Does God care?” “Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? The goodness of God endureth continually” (Psa. 52:1); when the Ziphims come and say to Saul, “Doth not David hide himself with us?” his response is, “Behold God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul” (Psa. 54:4); and when he flees from Saul in the cave, he can sing, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psa. 57:7). So it ever is. God does care, spite of appearances to the contrary.
It Did Not Look Like It
What a scene of imposing splendor! princes, governors, captains, judges, treasurers, counselors, sheriffs, and rulers all going one way. But three men stood against the swiftly flowing tide.
How easily might the three Hebrew children have asked in doubt “Does God care?” Would it not be well to submit, and bow to the image of gold? But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had but one thought. To bow to God? Yes! to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image? Never! The king, full of fury, commanded the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than its wont. What must the feelings of the three Hebrew children have been as the most mighty men in the army bound them in their coats, their hosen, their hats, and their other garments? But God was sufficient even for a pass like this The fiery flames with their scorching breath destroyed the mighty men, whilst they burned the bonds of those devoted youths, and set them free to walk where never mortal man had walked before, upon a pavement of molten fire, without the smell of fire upon them, not a hair of their head singed, and in the best of company, that of the Son of God. The inside of the furnace was better far than the outside. Not victims, but victors were they! delivered by their’ God; the king’s word changed, and his decree altered into giving universal respect to a God who could so act — this was the unexpected result of their faithfulness and constancy. God cared! And what will He not do for us if we stand true to Him?
It Did Not Look Like It
At the end of a faithful course, after years of evangelizing and planting churches, the apostle Paul had to say, “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15). “I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds” (chap. 2:9). “Demus hath forsaken me — only Luke is with me” (chap. 4:10). What a contrast! he, who had been in the forefront of the fight, to be forsaken and alone! Yet when he writes, a prisoner, from Rome, with martyrdom before him, he can say to his beloved Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4); and, as we read the epistle, we can note the long vigorous stride the aged spiritual athlete takes as he exultingly cries, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (chap. 3:14).
Should this not encourage us? Are we forsaken, left alone, isolated? Then is the time to lean upon the Lord Himself. We may with grief see the multitude turn away, but like Paul we may unmoved press on. In whatever circumstances we are, He is sufficient for us. To have His company, and His smile, is essential. Nothing else is.
Scripture teems with illustrations of how God cares, and how shortsighted man is in looking at events happening to him. Yet with such a wealth of illustration, how little we are prepared to bring God into our calculations; how we leave Him out, thus losing both in peace of mind and steadiness of purpose.
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
Surely we need never raise the question, “Does God care?” but henceforth calmly rest in the abiding sense of His ceaseless and untiring love.

Replies to Scripture Questions

J. A. Trench
“Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.” Luke 16:9.
What is the meaning of the Parable of the unjust steward and unrighteous mammon?
Man is set forth in the unjust steward, who, failing at every aspect of his responsibility, has been proved to be no exception to the rule, when entrusted with the stewardship of his lord’s goods. He wasted them, and must lose his position as steward. But the goods lie over in his hands for the present; and the point of the parable is the prudent, if unscrupulous, use he makes of this his opportunity, in view of the future.
There were these debtors of his lord’s; he will reduce his master’s claim upon them, by half in one case, by a fifth in another, and so make friends of them for his own prospective advantage, when put out of the stewardship. “And the lord” — mark, not the Lord Jesus, but the lord of the steward in the parable — “commended the unjust steward because he had done wisely [or rather “prudently,” a word more suited to worldly wisdom]: for the children of this world are in their generation more prudent than the children of light. “So much for the parable; now for the application. (vs. 9.)” And I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail (that is, when ye die) they may receive you, — or rather, for it is a common usage of Luke’s (see Luke 12:20, A.V.; 6:38, 44; 23:31) — ye may be received into everlasting habitations.”
But why is it called “the mammon of unrighteousness”? Because all accumulation of property in one man’s hand, more than in another’s, belongs to man’s fallen state in this world since sin entered into it-a condition of unrighteousness. Hence in verse 11 the Lord speaks of it as “unrighteous mammon.” But can what is thus solemnly characterized be possibly fit to be turned to profitable account by the Christian? It can; he can use it in view of where he looks to find his eternal home. It is “that which is least” (ver. 9-10) in the estimate of God. But how many have found the possession of wealth the most crucial test. Only by all the grace revealed in Luke 15 can any of us know “how to abound” — (“to be abased” is not so testing) — and be faithful in it. Possessions here wind themselves round the heart, and give man a false place amongst his fellows, ministering to his pride, and shutting out God. Hence (ver. 13), it is impossible to make both God and mammon the object of the heart — impossible to make the best of both worlds; either one or the other, but not both. Grace teaches us to sacrifice the one in view of the other, the present in full view of the eternal.
“If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own”? And herein lies what is so important as to possessions here, in the moral bearing of the parable. They are not our own. They are “that which is another Man’s” — the Master’s goods, according to the parable, which happen to lie over in our hands before our stewardship has been finally taken away. If looked upon as our own we might be tempted to spend them upon ourselves, or hoard them up — heaping treasure together in the last days, as James 5:3, says. But seen to be wholly “another man’s,” we can afford to be liberal in our use of them, and to lavish them on every interest of His, in view of that scene where we shall receive our own things. All we have here is His then, to be used in view of eternity; our own things lie there with Him, where we look to be received, when our earthly course is closed. It is only by such an estimate of money, to speak plainly, that we can be delivered from the influence of what governs so powerfully the heart of man.
Not that in any way faithfulness here, gives, or enters into, a title to be received there. This is found alone in the grace that receiveth sinners, and first has to seek them (chap. 15:4-10), that there might be any to be received (verses 11-24). And what a reception! But the same grace thus known and bestowed, produces a character suited to itself in the objects of the grace: that having been faithful in that which was anothers, we may receive our own things in His blessed presence forever. It is to be observed that, so far from any condoning of the steward’s dishonesty, he is given the title of “the unjust steward” (verse 8); and that when verses 10-12 apply the instruction of the parable to the disciples, it is not prudence but faithfulness in the disposal of earthly things that the Lord commends.
I conclude by noting that the connection of the Lord’s teaching in these chapters 14.-16. is very apparent, not only as we have seen in the revelation of grace, and its objects and effects; but also in the unbelief that in chapter 14 refuses the invitation of grace and is exemplified in chapter 15. in the unbroken, self-righteous, elder son, who is able to pretend that he never “transgressed at any time thy commandment,” because in fact he had reduced its righteous claims, like the unjust steward, in order to prosper, it may be, in this world, as the rich man in the last parable in chapter 16, but only to find his end in a hell of torments. It is the same character of proud unbelief that runs all through.

Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 2. Habakkuk

H. P. Barker
No. 2 — Habakkuk
A bright outlook in a day of discouragement.
Habakkuk 1:1-4.
The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
O, Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save.
Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
Habakkuk was a man who keenly felt the state of things amongst the people of God in his day. Looking around he saw deeds of violence; strife and contention abounded where peace should have reigned. The wicked seemed ever to have the upper hand, and made the righteous groan under their injustice.
It was difficult for the prophet to understand why God should not put an end to such a condition of things. Why did He not intervene in power, for the destruction of evil doers, and the salvation of those that put their trust in Him? How long would He refrain from hearing the cry of His distressed saints? Was there to be no unraveling of the tangled skein of iniquity? no escape from its meshes for those that loved righteousness?
Habakkuk’s perplexity led him to cry to Jehovah, to get into His presence, and inquire of Him concerning the things over which he mourned. As a result, he got a wonderful view of the day of Christ, and learned what God’s path for His people was, until that day should come. In this way he was let into the secret of how to be an overcomer in an age which to sight and sense was dark indeed, but which to faith was bright with the golden light of promises that fixed heart and hope upon One that was yet to come.
How close a parallel exists between the days when Habakkuk lived, and the days in which our lot is cast! As we look around, do we not see even in the circle that professes Christ’s name, much to cause us deepest grief? ‘What of the love of money, the love of pleasure, and other forms of worldliness in which so many Christians are entangled? What of the general coldness of heart and indifference to the claims of Christ? What of the abominable anti-Christian doctrines now proclaimed from the house-top by men who once gave promise of better things? What of the bickerings and strife, the divisions and heart-burnings amongst those who should be found walking in peace and unity? A thousand other things might be mentioned, any one of them enough to make the tears start from our eyes, and to prostrate us before God, crying “O Lord, how long?”
If we feel these things we shall be prepared to learn, as Habakkuk did, what the path is that God would have His people pursue. And our hearts will be held spellbound in anticipation of the bright day when Christ will be manifested, and when earth’s age-long blight will be removed, and the whole scene filled with that which is of God.
Habakkuk 1:5-6, 9, 11, 13.
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling-places that are not theirs.
. . . .
They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.
. . . .
Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.
. . . .
Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
In His answer to the prophet’s cry, Jehovah first calls attention to His own work. “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously, for I will work a work in your days.” This is the passage quoted by Paul when preaching Christ at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:41), and his use of it shows that something further was in the mind of God, when He uttered the words, than His dealings in judgment by means of the Chaldeans. It is in Christ that these wonderful words find their fulfillment. He is the One that God ever has in view, whatever work He puts His hand to.
Thus when God calls upon Habakkuk to have regard to His work, we may be sure that it is Christ that He has before Him. The way He takes may not be easy to trace; the evidence of His hand being at work may not be clear (save to him who has ‘an opened eye), but all the time God is working, and always with Christ as His great object. If He works in a sinner’s heart, it is that the sinner might be brought to Christ. If He works in the souls of His people, it is that Christ should have a greater place in their affections, and that He should be formed in them. And if He works upon the wider arena of the world’s history, it is all with the same great end in view, the introduction of Christ, as the One to whom supremacy must belong.
The grand climax of God’s work is not yet reached. It was still further off in Habukkuk’s day than it is in ours; but the contemplation of it must have been rest to his heart, especially when God went on to tell him, that He would bring the Chaldeans up against the children of Judah to carry them into captivity, and to be God’s scourge upon them because of their wickedness. For before this work of God could be brought to its culminating point, two things must happen; first, His people must be humbled and taught to walk in His ways; second, the nations must fill up their cup of iniquity, and thus become ripe for judgment.
Of course the atonement of Christ was also necessary, but that is not the subject here. The prophecy, though having a reference to what was immediate, without doubt looks on to the future, when the church will have been taken out of this world (1 Thess. 4:16-17), and God will begin to work in the scattered children of Jacob to bring them to repentance, and finally into the promised land again. Then they will cry out to Jehovah, as they see the prevalence of evil and the power of the wicked one. They will wonder that God should allow the oppressor to tread them down, but they will learn that they are being chastened in view of their ultimate blessing; that the iniquity of the nations having risen to a head, they are ripe for judgment; and that God is about to bring to pass that for which He has wrought through all the ages — a universe filled and ruled by Christ.
Habakkuk 2:1-3,14.
“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”
. . . . .
“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Habakkuk was consumed with grief for his people, as he contemplated the cruel oppressions of the Chaldean enemy. But his heart had caught a glimpse of a brighter day, so he says “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me.”
And as he looked out upon the horizon of God’s future, he saw a wonderful vision of what was to come. The day of its fulfillment was yet far distant, but he was to record the vision, so that in reading it, men might run. That is, I suppose, they were to run, in their affections, from the evil world they saw around them to the bright world of which Habakkuk spoke. Thus they were to hasten towards it, while actually they were to wait for it. Rather let us say they were to wait for Him. For guided by the inspired quotation of this passage in HEBREWS 10:37, we find Christ here also. It is He that shall come and will come, and will not tarry. The glory that Habakkuk saw, all shines forth from Him. He is the sun whose beams will illumine the whole realm of God, and it is for Himself that every heart that “loves His appearing” waits.
Habakkuk 2:4.
“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”
For this, faith must be in exercise. There was, in our prophet’s day, as in ours, an unbelieving generation, who would not believe in the work that God was doing, even though it was told them. On the other hand, there were “the just,” and these would find food for their faith in the vision given to Habakkuk. Faith would make it all so real to them, that their hearts would be connected by faith with the age to come; and this would be, as it were, life to them. They would live, by their faith in that glorious time that was promised, though all around seemed to contradict their hopes.
How happy thus to be able “to look beyond the long dark night and hail the coming day.”
In Christianity, brighter and better hopes are the portion of God’s saints. Their outlook is a heavenly one, and their destiny is the Father’s house. We do not get Christianity unfolded in the Minor Prophets, nor the hopes that belong distinctively to Christians. But He is there, to whom we belong, though in other relationships than those in which we know Him. Here in Habakkuk He is seen to be the object around which all the earthly hopes of the people of God center, as they long for the promised day of the kingdom — the day when Christ, as the promised King, shall come, and take to Himself His great power, and reign.
Habakkus 3:2-5,10-11,13.
“O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.
And His brightness was as the light; He had horns coming out of His hand: and there was the hiding of His power.
Before Him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at His feet.”
. . . . . . .
“The mountains saw Thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of Thine arrows they went, and at the shining of Thy glittering spear.”
. . . . .
“Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, even for salvation with Thine anointed; Thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah.”
The prophecy of Habakkuk ends with what is really a psalm of praise, magnificent in its description of the inauguration of that day. What gives rise to it is a desire on the prophet’s part that the work of God should prosper. The enemy’s handiwork was, alas, only too visible on all sides. But Habakkuk’s soul had been established in the truth that God was working, and would work, for the accomplishment of His own purpose, and he now prays that that work may come into prominence: “O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years.”
In accordance with this the prophet is carried on, in spirit, to the great day on which his hopes were fixed. He saw the intervention of God for His people, and the utter overthrow of their adversaries. Had sea and mountains, sun and moon, been made subservient to God’s ways with Israel in the past? Even so shall it be in the future, when pestilence and fire, and other forms of judgment shall announce the advent of Jehovah’s day.
Habakkuk 3:17-19.
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”
This was enough for Habakkuk. His soul had dropped its anchor in the calm haven of God’s sure promise, and he could rejoice in the Lord. Everything around might seem to wax worse and worse; the fig tree might not blossom, nor the vines bear fruit; the olive trees might be barren, and the fields yield no crops; flocks and herds might be cut off from the fold and from the stalls; outward prosperity might all be a thing of the past; the power of evil might be in the ascendant, and those who fear the Lord a small and weak remnant. But the prophet’s eye was not upon things of this sort. From all the failure and discouragement he looked away to the day of God’s triumph, and his heart beat with gladness. He could joy in the God of his salvation. His portion was in “high places,” and he could walk there already by faith. His feet were like those of the hind, able to spring forward from this age of darkness and gloom into the age of glory and joy.
Can we not do the same? We are not dependent for our joy upon environment. Things in the Church, as well as in the world, may be as bad as they can be; defection after defection may take place; “they of Asia” who turned aside from Paul, may be followed by thousands who care little for his doctrine; Christianity, as publicly professed, may be shorn of its glory as a heavenly thing, and its robes besmirched with the filth and mire of earth. But God’s purpose remains firm, and Christ is the One who is going to bring it all into accomplishment. Then let our eye be fixed upon Him. No failure or breakdown can ever intrude into that scene of which He is the center; He makes our feet like those of the hind. We spring, as it were, from the midst of all that surrounds us, right into that other world, where, in its heavenly part we shall dwell with Him, as sons before the Father’s face. These are “high places” indeed, and He makes our feet to walk therein, even now. We are privileged to explore the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.
A Futile Labor
The rat which set to work to gnaw a file supposed himself to be making good progress, as he saw a pile of white dust slowly increasing under his labor. But when he found that he had used up his teeth and made no impression on the file at all, it put a different complexion on the operation.
It is even so with the Scripture of Truth, the cavilers and scholars will wear out their critical teeth in the attempt to destroy it, but when their little day is over and their vaunted intelligence has perished, the Word of God will remain unimpaired in strength, not one jot or tittle of His word shall fail.
Troubles
A black cloud makes a traveler mend his pace, and mind his home; whereas a fair day and a pleasant way waste his time, and that stealeth away his affections in the prospect of the country. However others may think of it, yet I take it as a mercy, that many times some troubles do conceal my comforts; for I perceive if I should find too much friendship in my inn, in my pilgrimage, I should soon forget my Father’s house and my heritage.
Ruminating upon trouble is bitter work. Children fill their mouths with bitterness when they rebelliously chew the pill which they ought obediently to have swallowed.
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Holiness consisteth not in a cowl or coat of black. When God purifies the heart by faith, the market is sacred as well as the sanctuary.
I would rather walk in the dark, holding to the word of my God, than trust in the light of the brightest day that ever dawned.

"Creation": No. 2 - God's Preface

S. L. Jacob
No. 2. — God’s Preface
God has given to us a wonderful Book, the most human of all books, with the individuality of each human penman strongly seen in his writings, yet it is altogether divine, and bears the impress of God as its Author on every page.
But how can we be sure that this Book is God’s Book? Well, there is no rival in the field, that is something. To exalt the Koran, the Vedas or other ancient writings to the level of the Holy Scriptures is but an evidence of ignorance.
When from a distant lighthouse we see a lamp of 100,000 candle power flashing its light across the sea, we own the cleverness of the inventor; but when we see the mighty sun, and realize a little what it is, and what it does, we feel that only the Almighty mind and hand could have produced it.
So as we learn how great the Book is, how marvelous the Person who is its theme, and how unspeakable are the results that it effects, we are compelled to own that mere skepticism is born of ignorance.
Christians need no apologetics, but we do need to have the glories of revelation unfolded to us by the Holy Spirit, for as one glory after another is unveiled before our wondering gaze, faith is strengthened, and the mists of unbelief are dispelled.
An insight into the purpose of God, and into the testimony which He has given beforehand of that which is to be displayed in a future day, helps to this end. God had planned all that He is accomplishing, and these plans were all recorded centuries ago; not necessarily in such a manner as to be discovered by the careless: God’s plans are not for them, but for those who seek understanding as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures (Prov. 2:4); these are richly repaid for their toil. God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7); and there is no failure with Him. The apparent failures we see all through the Word, have only been allowed in order to enhance the greatness of the display of God; for God is surely and steadily carrying out His plan absolutely undisturbed by anything either man or the devil may do. He has never had more than one thought, which is to reveal Himself to men in and by Christ; as has been well said,” God has spoken but one word, and that word is Christ.”
The Book of Genesis
Let us now turn to the beginning, for the beginnings of things are always important, for what is not begun well is not likely to end well, and we could have no confidence in that, the commencement of which was not good. Some conceive of redemption as if it were a mere afterthought, a remedy for the fall, and the healing of a terrible breach, but that is far from a true conception. Out of that which has been allowed to come in by the way, God designed to produce, by redemption, a brighter glory and a greater good than ever existed before the fall. On the very forepart of God’s book is that which tells us of God’s plan, prepared beforehand, perfect in its inception, as it will be perfect in its accomplishment. This must be the case because God is the architect and constructor of the whole edifice. Nevertheless, God’s judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out, save as He is pleased to reveal them, and Himself.
Genesis comes naturally as the first book of the Bible, and forms a prelude to the whole. Whether it was actually the first to be written, or not, matters nothing. In its own distinctive subject no other place befits it except the one which has been given to it (by doubtless divine arrangement) with the consent of all. It is well called the seed plot of the Bible, and what we see in its inception in Genesis is seen to be worked out in full in the book of Revelation; so that the latter is the complement of the former.
This book of Genesis consists of a preface or introduction, that is, chapters 1 and 2:1-3 (which for convenience sake we will henceforth call the first chapter, the chapters here being badly divided) and ten portions of unequal lengths all commencing with the word “generations.” The opening verses of these ten divisions are as follow: Chapter 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 37:2.
The word “generations” is not used here as generally in human language, for we are told “these are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” We do not in ordinary language speak of the generations of the heavens and of the earth, or of such things. Once when musing on the subject we said to ourselves, it must mean “histories,” and turning to the late J. N. Darby’s New Translation we found in the text (chap. 2:4) the word “histories,” and in the margin “Hebrew Genealogies,” and in chap. 5:1 in the text “generations,” and in the margin “or history.” This proves that others have had the same thought.
A perusal of the passages themselves will make it evident that in all the cases mentioned, unless it were the first, what goes before is never in question but always what comes after; we may therefore be sure that the first case also follows the same rule, that is, it deals with the subsequent history, and is not a recapitulation of that which precedes.
Matthew 1, which begins “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ,” is no exception. It has been thought that because, genealogies follow, therefore genealogies are the generation, but this is not so; the whole Gospel of Matthew is the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, that is, of those who are of His generation, or seed; while the genealogies recorded are given to show that Jesus Christ was the rightful King, and to connect the New Testament with the Old; and then the gospel goes on to show how Psalm 22:30 is fulfilled, where it is written, “a seed shall serve Him: it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.”
We find then that the greater part of the book of Genesis consists of ten histories of deep import, and in these ten histories God is giving us the great principles which cover the whole period from the creation of man to the end of the millennial day; not principles of good only, but of good and evil, both worked out experimentally, to the end; but before these histories begin, there is a short portion dealing with the creation of all things visible (not so large in scope as Colossians 1:16). This small portion is an introduction or preface to these histories. This preface is really a preface to the whole of God’s work, and contains in it prophetically a wondrous panorama of all God’s dealings, both with the whole world, and also with an individual soul (for the latter is only the former in miniature), beginning from the fall, and ending with the Sabbath of God’s rest, and the triumph of good over evil. If this be so, what grandeur does it impart to these Holy Scriptures, and what an insight into God’s plans. What solid ground does it give for the feet of those who rest on the immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, as we see the vast plan being worked out, and how Christ is magnified before our souls, for He it is who will carry out every jot and tittle of all the plans and purposes of God.
We believe we shall have no difficulty in proving these things, but at the same time we are painfully conscious that we cannot do justice to the subject, for it is so vast, and our knowledge of it so small. Nevertheless the theme has been one of great spiritual enjoyment to us for a long period, and we hope to be able to say enough, by way of suggestion, rather than of explanation, to make the subject profitable to our readers.
General Principles
In a former article on creation we sought to show that God being what He is, and His ways being as described in Scripture, it is impossible that He should form, or speak of material things except to teach us spiritual and moral things.
We do not now propose to go over this ground again, we will accept it as proven, and we will proceed to inquire into the purpose of this opening preface to God’s Book, which must necessarily have the deepest significance.
Certain principles may be here enunciated, which are of great help in reading the language of symbols, and in the understanding of the ways of God; these are three, as follows: —
(1) The language of symbols is most definite and distinct, and we have no more right to change the current meaning of a symbol to suit our preconceived ideas, than to change the meaning of a word for the same cause; yet many, otherwise reverent, often play fast and loose with symbolic meanings to suit their own views. This is altogether irreverent, and shows lack of confidence in God, and in God’s book. A flagrant example of this is seen in the use of the symbol leaven.’ Throughout the whole of Scripture this most distinctly means corruption and evil, yet because of the general unwillingness to accept this when the kingdom of Heaven is in question (Matt. 13 and Luke 13) the symbol is made to mean what is excellent and good, and the mysteries of the kingdom unfolded by the Lord, are therefore entirely falsified. But we must not condemn others, for who has been faultless in this matter?
(2) God never begins with that which shall be, which will abide and is perfect and according to His purpose; but always with something inferior, in order that we may learn by way of contrast — the only way ‘ indeed in which finite beings can learn — because thus only can we be trained for the high destiny which God has for us as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ in the inheritance. This principle is unfolded in 1 Corinthians 15:46, where it is written, “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, afterward that which is spiritual.” This principle is of immense value; see also Jeremiah 18:4.
(3) When God has brought in anything, albeit it is temporary and provisional, He does not set it aside until He has thoroughly tested and proved it, and found it wanting; then it must make way for that which will abide. This is shown in Hebrews 8:7-13, where it is written “For if that first (the word covenant is not in the original) had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.”... And again, “In that he saith a new, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
Now bearing these things in mind let us ask the purport of this first chapter. It is generally supposed that it describes God (after the original act of creation) as writing upon a blank, and furnishing it with what is good, and that a perfect state of things is portrayed at each stage. We venture to suggest that on the contrary, we see the introduction of good into a scene of evil, without eliminating the evil, and in consequence it is the conflict of good and evil which is portrayed, with the ultimate triumph of the good. The second verse brings into view a fallen world with God at work for blessing, overcoming evil with good. That is, God is not presenting to us here a perfect world which has since fallen, but the world we now live in, the evil foreseen and provided for, and triumph assured. When we see this we then begin to understand how vastly better is God’s thought than our preconceived ideas. We now proceed to prove the above statement.

A Friend Indeed

While distributing gospel booklets in a village on the Northumberland coast, I handed one to an old fisherman. He read the title, “A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed,” and his face brightened into a smile as he added, “Yes, and the best Friend is Jesus.”
We were at home with each other at once, and he was soon telling me that he had known the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior for more than forty years; he had passed through stormy seas during that period, he said, but the Lord had never failed him.
As the tears began to roll down his weather-tanned cheeks, I judged that he had a story to tell, and so asked him about the storms.
He said: We had four sons and we lost them all in two years. They were 28, 26, 24, and 21 years old, but they were all the Lord’s, and we shall meet them again.
When the last of them came to die, his mother and I were sorely troubled, and he said to me, Father, you and mother look very down, what’s wrong with you?”
“Why,” I said, “my boy, we don’t like the thought of losing you; it’s that that makes us down.”
“But,” he replied, “you’re not going to lose me, Dad. I belong to Jesus, and I’m going home, and you’ll come soon, and we’ll all be united again; but give me the hymn-book, and I’ll sing a hymn to cheer you a bit.”
“You’re too weak to sing, my boy,” I said. But he at once replied, “Give me the book and let me try.”
And so the book was given to him, and he opened to that sweet hymn, and began to sing,
“Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly.”
He got through the first verse of it, and then found that what his father had said, was true, he was too weak to sing.
So he handed the book back again, and said, “You sing the next verse, father, and I’ll wave my hand to the tune.”
With halting notes the father sang,
“Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.”
And while the father sang, the dying lad, with a glad light upon his wan face, waved his hand to the tune, but ere the father had finished the verse, that feeble hand fell, and the ransomed spirit rose to be with the One who had gilded his bed of death with light.
My tears fell with those of the bereaved father, and. as we shook hands and separated, I could not help feeling, perhaps as never before, how good it was to know the best of Friends, whose love could drive the fear of death from the heart of the dying lad, and make him sing upon the borderland; and whose grace and love could also sustain the bereaved hearts left behind, so that they could say, “The best Friend is Jesus. He has never failed us.”
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Across the will of Nature, leads on the path of God;
Not where the flesh delighteth, the feet of Jesus trod.
Oh, bliss to leave behind us the fetters of the slave,
To leave ourselves behind us, the grave-clothes and the grave!

Should hap the path be narrow, and steep and rough and lone,
If crags and tangles cross it, Praise God! we will go on!
Scarce seen, scarce heard, unreckoned, despised, defamed, unknown,
Or heard but by our singing; ON, Christian! EVER ON!
“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”

The Fear of God

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).
We are impressed by the great need of the fear of God when dealing with divine things. No one can rightly either minister the truth or receive it who is not walking in this fear. To traffic in the things of God without it is disastrous, and the man who attempts it can only miss his way, and wander into the bog of error, where, lured on by the will-o’-th’-wisp of human thought, he is in danger of becoming enshrouded at last in the outer darkness of total apostasy.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes” is the Divine declaration as to man in his natural state, and this lies at the root of all his folly; but this awful condition is not only seen in notoriously profane and Godless men, but it is painfully prominent in many who pose as ministers of righteousness. They have laid rude hands upon the precious Truth that proceeded from the Father, which was fully declared by the Son in Manhood, and which is now unfolded to the subject heart by the Holy Spirit. With glib and impious lips they have dared to deny these great verities and to proclaim in their stead God-dishonoring doctrines, pernicious things, profane and vain babblings, the doctrines of devils.
These things “eat as doth a canker,” they spread like leaven, and the authority of the Word has been weakened thereby in the souls of many.
Saints of God, have we taken sufficiently to heart the fact of this open and blatant apostasy? has it caused us to grieve in secret, and driven us to our knees in prayer, that God in His great mercy would revive in the hearts of His people the fear of the Lord, and a holy reverence for the Scriptures?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and by it we depart from the paths of folly; it clears away the fogs and mists that gather about the soul; it delivers from that fatal color-blindness which cannot discern between truth and error; by it things become sharply defined and set in their right relations, and as a ship is held in its course by the helm, so the soul is kept by the fear of God in the track of eternal truth, and that irrespective of the thoughts of men, for when God — the LIVING GOD — is a reality, men and the things of time shrink into their proper insignificance.
In the fear of God we shall be reverent listeners to His word; it will be to us as the candle of the Lord searching our inward parts, and bringing us to heart-renunciation of everything that would lead from God. By that word our souls shall live, and in the light of it our feet will discover straight paths. We shall be in subjection to the Holy Spirit, so that we may know the Divine interpretation instead of leaning on our own understanding, while our souls will be filled with adoration, because of the holy privilege afforded us of having to say to these things at all.
Malachi’s days were days of great departure from the truth, but in the midst of all the darkness that enshrouded the mass, there were those of whom God signified His especial approval — these “feared the Lord and thought upon His Name,” and they were accounted of, the Lord of Hosts as His “special treasure” (Mal. 3:16,17, margin).
That was at the end of the last dispensation; we are now evidently near the end of the present day of grace; “wherefore.... let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

The Unchanging One

James Boyd
“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
How cheering, refreshing, and establishing it is to be brought into contact with One who is infinite in goodness, grace, righteousness, holiness, and love; and who never can be different to that which, at our earliest introduction to Him, we found Him to be: One upon whom the lapse of ages leaves no mark of change! Such is Jesus, the subject of this epistle, in which the old order, like a dissolving view, melts from before our vision, leaving to fill the scene that which is new and eternal, radiant with the glory of God.
And how often has the passage at the head of this paper spoken peace to the soul disquieted by the capricious and changeful nature of the selfish principles of the fallen creature, who no longer ago than yesterday may have been brimming over with evidences of most tender affection, and today may, in spirit and deportment, have become as cold, cutting, and severe as the January east wind. It has ministered comfort, consolation, and encouragement to thousands perplexed and weary with the ever varying condition of things with which we are compassed in this world of restlessness, confusion, envy and falsehood. It presents to the shipwrecked and hopeless mariner an island of peace in the midst of a turbulent and treacherous ocean. It is a shelter for the battered and toil-worn wayfarer, alone and lost in the pathless and storm swept wilderness. It is an invulnerable citadel, into which the besieged and war-broken may retreat, and thus escape the anguish which is invariably the lot of those who foolishly trust their happiness to the vicissitudes of a world in rebellion against God and agitated by the fell destroyer of the human race.
How good it is to be brought to the knowledge of this changeless Jesus! He came into this world, which was without moral foundations, that man should have a firm rock upon which he might plant the foot of faith, and be assured that amid the crash of everything that seems stable in the universe, it could not be shaken. He came to illuminate the benighted vision with the gracious light of God, and to warm into life the cold dead human heart with the holy love of God. See Him at the well of Sychar, and hear Him speak of the gift of God to a poor sinful creature, for whom no one else had a word of comfort. There He is the giver of the living water, which alone can give satisfaction to the thirsty soul. See Him in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7), the Creditor in the midst of His debtors, speaking only of forgiveness.
See Him at the grave of Lazarus, the Resurrection and the Life, mingling tears of sympathy with those of the two bereaved women, before His almighty voice awoke the echoes of the dull domain of death and Hades, and called back the dead man to life. See Him amid a multitude of publicans and sinners, and hearken to the words of grace which proceed out of His lips, until you hear the throbbing of the heart of God, as He enfolds in the arms of His immortal love a prodigal come back from the far country, naked except for those rags which bore witness of his rebellious and disgraceful career. See Him in the temple and synagogue, and in the streets and lanes of the city, and hear Him tell in the ear of devil-deceived men and woman the grace and love of God.
See how He feels for the diseased, the demon-possessed, the blind, and the broken-hearted, until you learn what those mean who say: “Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” See Him amid the gloom of Golgotha, dying for the ungodly, and praying for His murderers; and you contemplate Him, stricken, smitten of God and afflicted,” may you be able to say: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53). And then think of Him as the same yesterday, today, and forever. Oh, the deep, deep blessedness of knowing Him — learning Him in His pathway down here, and knowing that He is just the same blessed, living, lowly, gracious Savior now that He is on the Father’s throne. May both reader and writer get to know Him better every day of our pilgrim journey through this world, until we see Him face to face in courts of light.
But consider the setting of this short, simple, peace imparting sentence. In verse 7 we are exhorted to remember them who had (not have) the rule over us, who spoke to us the Word of God. They have gone from our midst. Their voices are no longer heard amongst us ministering the living Word, but we are to call them to mind; and considering the issue of their conversation we are to imitate their faith. Then in verse 9 we are warned against those who would introduce divers and strange doctrines. Between that needful exhortation and this very wholesome warning we have the brilliant and comforting truth shining like a silver star: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
Whether it be the gospel to the world or ministry to the saints, Christ must ever be the subject (Rom. 16:25; Acts 28:31). He is the living Word, the spirit of all Scripture. It was Christ the apostles preached and taught, and there is nothing else for saint or sinner today; and He never changes. John, writing to the babes, says, “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning” (1 John 2:24). The devil brings in novelties, and the human mind loves them and revels in them. And just because men love them, they flatter themselves that they are parts of the truth, but alas, they are but “sporting themselves with their own deceivings.” That which turns away the heart from Christ is a snare of the devil. We are told we must not hold too obstinately to old forms, but must advance with the times; but the whole truth has come to light in Jesus, and there is no change in Him.
It is affirmed by men of science that signs of decay are visible in some of the heavenly bodies. The sun seems to be giving evidence that he has passed the meridian of his years; the moon is a defunct world, and the earth is in the sear and yellow leaf. This is just what Scripture tells us in those remarkable words which were addressed to Jesus, when in the sorrow of His soul He drew near to the gates of death, stricken for the transgression of believing sinners: “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands: they shall perish, but Thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed” (Psa. 102:25-27; Heb. 1:10-12). Peter tells us that the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the elements melting with fervent heat, and that the earth also and all the works that are therein shall be burned up, but that we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3).
The nature of the change which will pass over the universe has not been revealed to us, we do not need to know it. We are confident however of this, that He who built it at the beginning to serve His purpose, and who in infinite wisdom allowed the enemy to defile it with the stain of sin, is able to cleanse it from the presence of that which is so hateful to Him and so ruinous to the creature, and to fill it with light and blessing, and make it the abode of righteousness. To accomplish this, and to set man in new and eternal relationships with God, He laid down His life. The Creator is the Redeemer. He who stooped down to know what human weakness was, and who had His days shortened, is the same one who then, as now, was upholding all things by the word of His power. What creature mind could compass such a thought? No man knoweth the Son.
But not only must the material universe undergo a change, a much greater change must pass over man himself. The old order no longer occupies us; angels, Moses, Aaron, the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the covenant-in a word, the whole earthly order disappears before the face of Jesus, and we are exhorted to abandon the shadow for the substance, types which pass away for realities which abide forever. And for this state of things a change must take place upon us. We are heirs of a kingdom which cannot be moved; but except a man be born again he shall never see it (John 3). Man must have a new nature, as born of God, or perish forever.
The wonderful thing about man is that he can be changed. I do not for a moment doubt that God, who knew the end from the beginning, and had His counsels formed with regard to all His works before He put in operation His creative power, so made man that he could be changed in the whole principle of his being. We are not told anything about angels to lead us to suppose such beings capable of being changed. Some of them have fallen away from God, and an opportunity of salvation does not seem to be granted to them. Man is the creature chosen of God in whom His workmanship of grace is to be displayed. What He has wrought as a Savior will be brought to light in ransomed human beings.
And what a change He is capable of making in His rebellious and ruined creature! Hear what He says to the headstrong, intractable Simon. Peter: — “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not” (John 21:18). And what made that change? Age? Never. As to nature it is ever true: “The child is father of the man.” That change was wrought in Peter in the school of God, and by Him who Himself changes not.
And consider the insolent overbearing Saul of Tarsus; that proud, self-righteous, Christ hating Pharisee. Wolfish in his nature, and getting the first taste of blood at the martyrdom of Stephen, he ever after seeks to satiate his ravenous appetite with the slaughter of the sheep of Jesus, until met on the highway of his merciless career by Him before whose subduing power nothing is able to stand. What meekness, gentleness, patience, tenderness, and lowliness were wrought in this striking subject of the grace of God! What ceaseless solicitude for the salvation of the lost! What care for the flock of Christ! What devotedness to that holy Name once so hated and persecuted by him! And this wonderful change effected by Him who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever!
And has not the reader, as well as the writer, come under the changing influence of this changeless Person? From that throat, which was once an open sepulcher is exhaled the perfume of immortal love. That mouth, once “full of cursing and bitterness” is now replete with blessing. That tongue, long accustomed to “deceit,” now spreads abroad the word of truth and life. Those Ups, which once concealed the deadly “poison of asps,” are now pregnant with life-imparting grace. Those feet, once “swift to shed blood,” now “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,” run joyfully in the pathways of mercy. A new power, that of the Holy Spirit, has taken possession of the earthen vessel, the members have become instruments of righteousness, the will of God is done, and the soul finds eternal rest. The glory of the Lord, with all its life-giving and attractive power, shines full upon our hitherto benighted hearts, and we become changed into the same image (2 Cor. 3).
One more change will complete our blessing, and place us beyond the need of change forever. I refer to the change which shall pass upon our mortal bodies. We look for the Savior from heaven “who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.” Then we shall be like the Lord and with Him forever in those
“bright and blessed scenes
Where sin can never come;
Whose sight my longing spirit weans
From earth, where yet I roam.

Like Jesus in that place
Of light and love supreme,
Once Man of Sorrows, full of grace,
Heaven’s blest and endless theme.

Like Him! O grace supreme!
Like Him before Thy face;
Like Him, to know that glory beam
Unhindered, face to face.”

"Your Own Salvation"

J. T. Mawson
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12-13).
We were sitting in a room where played a little baby boy; he had just begun to walk and talk, and was putting his new found powers to the test. As he tremblingly ran from one chair to another, we heard him say to himself, “Mind the fender, C.” A careful mother had warned him of the danger that lurked just there, and he was now repeating her warning to himself, and so working out his own salvation in respect to it.
God has warned us, in His word, as to where the dangers lie, and as we keep His word in mind, and are obedient to it, we too work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. “Concerning the works of men, by the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer” (Psa. 17:4).
But not only are we preserved from danger by the wholesome fear of it, but also by the attraction of something greater and better than the temptation presented. In ancient Greek mythology we read of the Sirens, beautiful in voice, but malignant in soul. They lived by the sea, and sang their sweetest songs as the ships sailed by, in order to lure the mariners to destruction on their treacherous shore.
When the Argonauts set sail for Pontus in search of the Golden Fleece, they knew that they must pass this point of danger, and that they might not be turned from their purpose by the seductive songs of the Sirens, they induced Orpheus, the greatest poet and singer of those mythical times, to accompany them.
Every day of that voyage he poured forth his most enchanting strains in the ears of those sailors, so that when they came to the point of danger the Sirens sang in vain, the Argonauts passed them with contempt — for the charm of the inferior music had been broken by the sweeter strains that filled their ears.
It is thus that God works in His grace. Christ is presented to us in all that wonderful charm that has won our hearts, and with the eye and heart filled with His surpassing beauty, our souls are proof against the false glamour which only attracts to destroy. The same holy Word of God which warns us of danger around, also unveils for us the excellencies of Christ.
But this passage is often used as though it meant work for salvation. This is altogether wrong, for Scripture cannot contradict itself, and there we read, “By grace are ye saved... not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:7-8).
The passage supposes that there is that within — life, nature and power — by the exercise of which we are preserved in the path of God’s pleasure; and this is only found in those who have been saved by the grace of God.
When in the Transvaal, we went down into one of the gold mines there, and saw the quartz being worked out from the bowels of the earth; then presently we saw the bars of yellow metal all ready for shipment for the English mint. The gold was there in the mine first of all, but it had to be worked out to be of profit to the owners. So it is with us who believe, there must be exercise, and diligence, and work, so that that which God has placed within us may be worked out for His praise and glory.
But only a gold mine can produce gold, you would work in vain for it in any other mine. And so it is only the truly saved person who can work out salvation.
But there is still a point of greatest importance in the passage, which must not be overlooked; “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” We have no power in ourselves naturally (a great deal of the disappointment in the lives of Christians is because this is overlooked), but God works in both the will and the energy. As some mighty electric-dynamo supplies the factory with the force needful for the production of that for which it was erected, so God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, works in us His will and way, so that we may follow the Lord wholly, and give pleasure to Him who has bought us at so great a cost.
Our place is to obey Him, to yield ourselves to Him alone, having no confidence in the flesh.

Missionary Hymn

William H. Westcott
Tune-723 Bristol Tune Book.
Father, in days gone by
Thy people sought
Thy face, Longing that souls might be
Reached by Thy saving grace.
Thou gav’st the answer then,
In blessing far and near;
Saving the souls of men
From sin and guilt and fear.
Father, save!

Bowing together here,
Thy people of today,
Thou dost, in Jesu’s name,
Drive unbelief away.
Faith’s holy confidence
Is resting now on Thee;
O Thou that hearest prayer,
We would Thy blessing see.
Father, save!

Think of those distant lands,
Where lived Thy saints of old;
Let Naaman’s leprous home
Again of grace be told.
Let Israel’s captive souls
Hear of Thy gospel free;
And Zion’s hills resound
With songs of liberty.
Father, save!

Let Egypt’s ebbing grace,
As tidal waters turn;
Nor let her rulers now
Thy gracious dealing spurn:
Let Pharaoh’s starving land
Again her Joseph see,
In Jesus who has died,
And risen again to Thee.
Father, save!

Down Eden’s valleys, Lord,
Let living waters flow:
And Adam’s fallen race
Thy full salvation know;
And ‘midst the thorny woes,
Euphrates knows so well,
May those who know its balm
The Savior’s mercy tell.
Father, save!

And, oh! not there alone,
But far across the wave,
How China’s plaint awakes,
The prayer that Thou wilt save!
Her millions passing on,
Approach a fearful end;
O God! stretch forth Thine hands,
And mighty blessing send!
Father, save!

But how the heart grows faint,
And then o’erflows in grief,
Thinking of India’s sons,
So long without relief;
While Africa’s weary hosts,
Down-trodden and oppressed,
Seem silently to stand,
Yearning for heavenly rest.
Father, save!

Let all our hearts arise,
Alive with heavenly glow;
Moved by Thy Spirit, Lord,
With love’s deep stream to flow;
And if in foreign lands,
Or this, Thou bid’st us roam,
Oh! for Thy mighty power,
To call Thy wanderers home.
Father, save!

The Mystery of God: Introductory

J. Alfred Trench
Introductory
What a complete revolution was involved in the ways of God, when, by divine inspiration, the prophecy of Caiaphas was recorded, “that Jesus should die for that nation, and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:51, 52). Nothing of the kind had ever been intimated in Old Testament scriptures. It announced the close of the special exclusive relationship of the nation of Israel to God which had been maintained for long centuries. Of them He could say, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2).
The accomplishment of the purposes of God as to that nation was most surely before the Lord Jesus as one object of His death, even as Caiaphas (not of himself) had prophesied. But there was another object nearer and dearer to His heart; and I desire to raise the question as to how far this object has been laid hold of by us in the faith of our souls. If we have rested on His death for our sins, and know anything of the deliverance He has wrought for us by that death, from sin, and from the law which was the strength of sin, and from the world, there is nothing that should touch our hearts more deeply than the knowledge that the blessed Lord died that the children of God, hitherto scattered, with no consciousness of their relationship to Him, or to one another, should be in that condition no longer, but gathered together in one on earth.
“One Flock”
There were children of God then, owned in their relationship by God, but awaiting the revelation of this great fact, for any enjoyment of it. They were of the Jews and of the Gentiles, but had no sense of the family bond. Nay, by God’s own institutions they of the Jews were separated from those of the Gentiles by a middle wall of partition — the law of commandments contained in ordinances — that acted both to keep them at a distance from God and from each other. We learn how real the barrier was, and how impossible for even those that were of God to be one while it existed, from the very remarkable steps that were taken by God to induce Peter to carry to the Gentile, Cornelius, words whereby he might be saved, so that he might be consciously brought on to the ground of accomplished redemption, albeit he had already evidently been born again, and manifested many a fruit of the work of grace in him.
But there were divine forces preparing the way for such a drawing together of those who had been the subjects of God’s mighty operation in grace. John 10 teaches us that the Lord Jesus had entered into the sheepfold of Judaism as the Shepherd of the sheep; not to shepherd them more directly than heretofore amid the mass of the people, but that they might hear His voice calling His own sheep by name, to lead them all out of the fold, Himself going before them as their guarantee for the path, and forming the attractive object for their hearts as they followed Him.
But not only so, in verse 16 He says: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice: and there shall be one flock (no longer fold), one Shepherd” (N.T.). By His own voice heard in the inmost soul of Gentile as well as Jew, a precious link was formed between each sheep and Christ Himself; and thus His flock was constituted in all the blessing that He had been opening out for those who entered in by Christ as the door (vss. 9-15), which blessing is founded on His laying down His life for the sheep.
If there was no actual relationship between the sheep, there was between each of them and Christ in the most real way. They had heard, and hear His voice as it still speaks through His word; He knew them each one, as none other could; He had loved them with a love that gave Himself for them, and they had but to follow Him. He would impart to them eternal life, and none should ever catch them from His hand; they were the Father’s gift to Him, and His Father’s hand was also laid upon them to secure them to Him: there could be no perishing of the life within, and no force without could separate them from that all-powerful grasp, for the Father and Son are one. What a Shepherd! and how blessed to be of His flock. But “the mystery” was not yet.
One Family
But more than this was involved in the relationship of children. There was a family that God had formed for Himself. When the Creator of the world came into it, it knew Him not; when He came to His own special circle of Israel, it received Him not; but to as many as received Him God gave the right to become children of God, “even to them that believed on His name; which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13). By the death of Christ, as one cherished object of it to Him, these were to be gathered together in one, in relationship with each other, as with Him.
John 17 helps us to enter a little into the deep place this oneness of the family of God had in the heart of the Son; there we are allowed to draw near, and hear Him pour out all His hitherto untold desires for them, into His Father’s ear. This oneness comes out in three aspects of it. (1) The Son had kept those whom the Father had given Him out of the world in the Father’s name, while He was with them: in leaving them He commits them to the Father to keep in that same blessed name of Father, of which He had been the full revelation — “Holy Father keep them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me (as it must be read), that they may be one as We” (vss. 11-12). What a thought! They were to be one among themselves, in heart and mind and object, even as the Father and the Son were one, in an identity of interest He had just expressed in the words” All mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine.”
We may see how, for a brief moment, in the power of the Spirit and of the grace that was upon them all in the early chapters of Acts, this oneness was realized, when “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that aught of the things he possessed was his own” (vs. 32). It was a lovely expression of what grace by the power of God could produce. But it did not last.
(2) The Lord then gives another character to the oneness that He sought for us.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they may also be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me “ (verses 20, 21).
Here we all are expressly brought in, as those who have believed through the apostolic word. “One in Us “ — this oneness then was to be brought about as we each one abode in the Son and in the Father, enjoying fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, which is the essential privilege of the life we have been brought into (see 1 John 1:3; 2:24). For what is fellowship with the Father but to have common thoughts with Him about His beloved Son, as He presents Him to us as the object of His own delight; and what is fellowship with the Son, but having communion of thought ‘With Him about the Father, whom He has made known to us? Oh, if we knew and had but walked in the power of such communion, we should then have had no other thoughts but what we shared in this communion, and so have been kept in oneness with each other; then the world might have seen and believed that the Father sent the Son.
Well may we hide our faces in shame as we look upon the scattering of the family of God that began so early and has been ever increasing, and own in sorrow of heart before Him-all the deeper because of the grace of the Son that makes no allusion to it to the Father-how complete our failure has been, and how we have each contributed to it. No wonder the world is skeptical.
(3) But all is not told yet. The Lord passes on in His unfathomable love to present us before the Father in a character of oneness that nothing can disrupt, where no failure is possible, and which He can speak of as “perfect” for the first time. It is the oneness of the given glory of Christ — “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them” — Christ to be displayed in us as perfectly as the Father in the Son — “ and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know “ — if too late for it to believe, and enter into the blessing — “ that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me “ (verses 22, 23). Thus in spite of the work of the enemy, and the heartbreaking collapse of faithfulness in us, our blessed Lord will see of the travail of His soul in His heavenly people, as well as His earthly. He will be able to display us perfect in one in His glory to the astonished world. But who could conceive His adding to this that the world should know, when it sees us in that glory, that we have been loved of the Father, even as Jesus was loved when He was here.
One Assembly
But all this was anticipative: “the hour was come” for the heart of the Lord, and He was claiming the consequences of it for Himself and for those given Him out of the world. The full truth of the relationship into which they had been brought would only burst upon the disciples, when, from a Risen Christ, they received that wonderful message through dear Mary of Magdala, “Go to My brethren” (now first owned as such) “and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.” It was the wonderful fulfillment of the first clause of Psalm 22:22, “I will declare Thy name unto my brethren.” The Sanctifier and the sanctified ones were “all of one” (as set forth in the reality of the Lord’s Manhood in resurrection), “for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11).
And now the second part of Psalm 22:22, was to be fulfilled — “In the midst of the congregation (or ‘assembly,’ as the Holy Spirit interprets in quoting the verse in Heb. 2) will I sing praise unto Thee.” For the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, came Jesus, and “stood in the midst” of them (John 20:19). He had walked alone as man, in blessed relationship with God and the Father. This relationship found its first full expression down here in Him; but now, as the fruit of the work accomplished when the precious seed of corn fell into the ground and died, He was no longer alone; but was able to declare the full association of His own with Himself, in all He was about to enter into as the ascended Man — His Father was their Father, His God was their God — and He Could lead them, too, in the song of praise, a song which was His own first, as He came out of the darkness and sorrow, but which is now also suited to us whom He has brought into the light and joy into which He has entered.
As regards what is individual, nothing could go beyond the blessedness of this present, heavenly association with Christ, which is doctrinally opened out to us in the teaching of the epistles, especially of Paul and John, and of which the Holy Spirit has come to be the power of our enjoyment. And as we have seen, it involves our relationship with one another as brethren, that the divine love wherewith we are loved may be expressed in our ways with one another.
But we have not yet exhausted the fullness of the resources of that love, nor touched upon the subject which forms the heading to this paper, namely, “The Mystery.” That was still “hid in God,” and we must now seek grace, and the power of the Spirit of God, to enter into that which can only be known by revelation.
This is really the force of “mystery.” It does not mean what is mysterious, for there is nothing of this when it is known. But it is that into which we need to be initiated by divine revelation and teaching. There will be no such initiation needed, for instance, when the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. The Kingdom as such does not enter into the mystery, is not the subject of it.
The first intimation of a corporate relationship in which the saints were to be formed (while as to accomplishment it was yet future), is found in Matthew 16, where, in answer to a direct revelation from the Father, Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
This confession involved the complete triumph of the One whose glory Peter thus confessed, over him that had the power of death — a triumph evidenced and proved by His resurrection.
The Lord also revealed to Peter, that upon the rock of the glory of His Person, thus confessed, He would build His assembly, nor could all the power of Satan prevail against this divine work. Peter was proved by his faith to be already a living stone, ready to be put in its place when the building should begin. In 1 Peter 2 this privilege is made good to all, who by faith come to the living Stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious. These are, as living stones, being built up a spiritual house, and are ever growing, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 2, by this divine workmanship to a holy temple in the Lord — a structure yet to come out in a new heaven and new earth as the Tabernacle of God, the eternal habitation of the brightest manifestation of the glory of God.
The building began at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down upon all who were His, and God thus took up His abode even from the first in the dwelling formed for Him.
But this aspect of the assembly formed no part of the mystery. The blessed thought and purpose of the heart of God, to take up His dwelling place among a redeemed people, had not been hid from other ages. He brought it out when He delivered Israel from the power of Pharoah (figure of the prince of this world), who held them captive, and the first full type of redemption is presented not only in the blood on the door posts of their houses for God’s eye in Egypt, but in the death and resurrection of Christ as shadowed forth in the Red Sea.
If it is not certain that it comes so early into the song of Moses and Israel as Exodus 15:2, we find it fully in verse 17, where it becomes a revelation. “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, the place, O Lord, which Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established.” (See also Ex. 29:42,46.) This was a material sanctuary; His dwelling place is now a spiritual house, the one the shadowing forth of the other; though a material sanctuary will have its place again on the millennial earth.
But “the mystery” was still unrevealed. Yet it was brought about by that to which we have already referred, namely, the advent of another Divine Person, the Spirit, given from the glory of Christ, to dwell in and with us; but revelation was needed to bring us into heart intelligence of what had taken place.
(To be continued).

Papers on Service: The Evangelist

Selected
The Evangelist
There are vacancies in the heart of Christ, and the evangelist is gifted to go out and seek the lost ones to fill these vacancies. He starts from that heart, knowing what a shelter it is. He knows how it loves and cares for them, and so he goes out to seek the lost and bring them there. He is like his Master who came to seek and save the lost, and he knows the delight of heaven over one repentant soul.
A happy and blessed path is his. Himself a gift from the Lord to men, he must be qualified by the Holy Spirit for his work. As God’s herald he takes his stand in the world, and announces the good news of salvation to sinners, for all who will receive it.
It is not a partial amnesty that he is commissioned to promulgate, nor is it a mere pardon, however graciously conceded, that he is sent to declare. He speaks of pardon, but of justification also. He speaks of deliverance from wrath, but he speaks of everlasting blessedness likewise. The threshold of hell shall never be crossed by those who give heed to, and rest in what he proclaims; and he is empowered to tell that the door of heaven has been opened to receive all who believe. The wrath of God is averted, because His Son has endured it for sinners and the favor of God can be enjoyed, because those who believe are now accepted in the Beloved.
In the day of Israel’s deliverance the words of the prophet will be fulfilled: “Beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good” (Isa. 52:7). But beautiful even now, not only upon the mountains, but on earth, in valley, plain, hill or city, on shore or at sea, is the proclamation of the gospel of peace, till the Lord shall descend into the air, and this day of salvation shall close.
Conditions Necessary for Power
Among these conditions I notice, first, a simplicity of heart. The Lord pours most into those who are most empty of self. Those who have least of their own shall have most of God’s. The Lord cares little what the vessel is, whether golden or earthen, so long as it is clean, and disengaged from other uses. Only then is the cup prepared to receive the living water. If there was something in it before, it would adulterate the pure water of life; or if what was there before was very pure, it would, at least, occupy some of the room which the Lord seeks for His own grace.
The Lord therefore empties us, that we may be clear from prejudice, self-sufficiency, and foregone conclusions as to what His truth ought to be. He would have us like children, who believe what their father tells them.
We must lay aside all pretense of wisdom. Some men are too self-sufficient for God to use. If God were to bless them largely they would talk in Wolsey’s style of “Ego et rex meus” (I and my king); but the Lord will have none of it. That straight-backed upstart letter “I” must bow itself down into its lower-case shape, and just look like a little pot hook (i) of a thing, and be nothing more. Oh! to be rid of self! Oh! to quit every pretense of wisdom!
We need, and may the Lord give to us, great humility of mind! It ought not to be an extraordinary thing for us to accept what God says. It ought not to take much humility for such poor creatures as we are to sit at the feet of Jesus. We ought to look upon it as an elevation of mind for our spirit to lie prostrate before infinite wisdom. Assuredly this is needful to the reception of power from God.

Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians

Edward Cross
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
1. For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
2. But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
3. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
4. But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts,
5. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:
6. Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
7. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
8. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
9. For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
10. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holly and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11. As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as father cloth his children,
12. That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
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Before passing to the consideration of the second chapter, let us look once again, briefly, at the closing verses of the preceding chapter, for these give a certain scope and setting to the whole epistle:
“... how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
The state of the pagan world in general, as of the Thessalonians in particular, is depicted here, and more fully described in Romans 1, as sunk in idolatry, addicted to the worship of those who are described in Deut. 32:17-21 as “no gods.”
How the anger of God was provoked against them on this account, and His wrath stirred up against them to their destruction, is fully set forth as a warning to Israel by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy — compare Deut. 4:14-28; 7:23-26; 11:16-17; 12:29-31 and so forth. And terrible were the denunciations made to them should they forsake the worship and service of the Lord God, and, reverting to the idolatry out of which Abram had been called (Josh. 24:2), follow the example of the surrounding nations.
They were thus, both of them, Israel and the nations alike, amenable to the wrath of God; nor was there the possibility of escape, when once His hand in the fury of His anger was lifted up. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them. I will spend mine arrows upon them,” etc. (Deut. 32:21-23).
These words are addressed to Israel, but their echo is heard among the nations around. How blessed amidst the rolling of such thunders to hear the gospel sound, telling of “Jesus, our Deliverer,” — Deliverer of every believer, Jew and Gentile alike — “our Deliverer from the coming wrath,” a wrath as certainly coming as the fact of it had already been made known (cf. Eph. 5:6, Col. 3:6).
“Ye turned to God from idols,” denotes rather the general idea of their conversion than its specifically Christian character; they turned from the idols they had served to the God whom Paul preached to them — to serve Him whose true character is the “living and veritable God,” and to wait for His Son from the heavens, even Jesus, our Deliverer from the coming wrath already announced.
He is the living God, in contrast to dead idols — “no gods” who have no life in them. “Behold ye are worse than nothing and your work is of naught “(Isa. 41:24, margin). Such is the idol in itself: the worship of it is rank corruption.
He is the true, the veritable God, in contrast to what is merely specious and shadowy (cf. Jer. 10:10; 1 John 5:20).
“To wait for His Son from heaven.” This was their hope, and this hope, the coming of the Lord, characterizes the epistle. It has been well said that “hope is the keynote of this epistle, as joy is of the Epistle to the Philippians” (Ellicott). In every chapter the corning of the Lord is set forth. In one aspect or another of it, it is the characteristic hope of the Christian. Thus it is presented:
In 1 Thess. 1:10 in connection with the deliverance to be brought about at that day.
In 1 Thess 2:19 with the joyful reunion of the saints and those who have labored amongst them.
In 1 Thess. 3:13 with the present sanctifying effects produced by the consequences of the responsibility that will be then manifested.
In 1 Thess. 4:14-17 with the rapture of the saints and their coming again with the Lord at His return.
In 1 Thess. 5:2 with “the day of the Lord” and the judgment that will then come, as already pronounced, upon the unbelievers.
And in 1 Thess. 5:23 with his desire that the saints should be preserved blameless in view of that day, fraught as it is with so many mighty issues.
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Chapter 2
In the preceding chapter, Paul dwells thankfully on the fruits the gospel had produced in those whom he addresses; in this chapter he discusses seriously, in the full sense of the responsibility attaching to it, his own conduct as a servant of God in their midst.
There he spoke of their faith, hope and love, the essential and internal elements of Christian life, evidenced in its reality by the work and patience and labor that accompanied them; and also of the external evidence of the power of the gospel over them, seen by all as they turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven. Here he speaks of the boldness, the uprightness, the-faithfulness, the considerateness, the tenderness, the untiring and unselfish devotedness of his ministry amongst them; able as he is (happy man!) to call them and God to witness how holily and justly, and unblameably he, with his fellow laborers, had behaved themselves among them that believe, at once manifesting the gentleness of a nursing mother, and ministering the wise counsel and instruction of a devoted father amongst his children. It is a beautiful and grateful picture to study; and as the mind dwells upon it, it is refreshed from the springs of spiritual life that come bursting up from their source, with all the instinct of holy affections as yet unrestrained by the coldness or defilements of this nether world.
Why is it that we do not get more ministry from the epistles to the Thessalonians? Why is it that much of what we do get is of a merely doctrinal kind, where doctrine, as such, has so little place? Is it that the affections of life amongst those who believe are so little developed, or have become so atrophied for want of being properly nourished, that we are but little capable of appreciating that which, by contrast with the highest gifts, the apostle calls the “more excellent way?” (1 Cor. 12:31). Or is it that we are more occupied with the ordering and administration of our relationships than with the fulfillment of them?-that our heads have got beyond our hearts, and both beyond our feet? Let us take heed to the word, “these things ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
We notice here, as before, the same fervency, the same superlative style, his thought amplified in triplets, as though words could scarce express the over-flowing of his feelings. Tense and short he can be when the occasion requires — “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached let him be accursed: As we said before, so say I now again,.. let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9-10). One word of sharp and extreme animadversion is there enough, and he will not use a second, even though he use it twice. But here, how different I words are piled up to give vent, as it were, to the feelings with which his heart is charged towards his beloved children in the faith.
Doctrine is no doubt necessary in its place, and the full understanding of all the glorious purposes of God for the ages, as revealed in the Scriptures, is of the utmost importance for the proper and intelligent enjoyment of the Christian; but here we have the spring that vitalizes all the rest, without which these vast and far-reaching truths, given for the glory of God and for the blessing of His people as in a land flowing with milk and honey, become as barren as the steppes of Tartary, as arid as the sands of the Sahara desert. Made known for the glory of God, the Giver, and for the blessing of man, the receiver, they are ofttimes taken up by the mind of man for his own glory, and they thus fail in the purpose of their revelation, whether for God or man. Life we must have, whatever else we have: and life, divine and spiritual life, has its spring and expression in love and the holy affections that flow from it. Doctrine must surely be maintained at the height of the revelation as given of God: but the soul must be nourished in the affections that give it life and unction.
1 Thess. 2:1-2
He designs to encourage them to patience and constancy in the sufferings through which they were passing; but he does not exhort them to travel a road by which he himself had not gone. He does not drive them. And so likewise Paul can speak of his own sufferings, and the shameful treatment to which he and his fellow laborers were subjected at Philippi, and how “we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.”
1 Thess. 2:3-8
It is most interesting, and affords instruction worthy of the most serious consideration, to note the profoundly serious way in which he regards the trust of the gospel committed to him by God, always associating with himself in this service to the Thessalonians his fellow laborers, Silvanus and Timotheus. How bright the saving light of the gospel thus appears as first sent forth into this poor dark world! What a message to carry, and what messengers to carry it! Here the curtain rises on a new scene where the God of Heaven proclaims the supremacy of good in a world lying in the wicked one; this gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes.
He charges the saints at Thessalonica that they should walk worthy of God, who had called them to His own kingdom and glory; but first he vindicates his title to give such a charge to others.
Mark well the things that were absent from this exhortation and then note that which characterized it. It was free from deceit, uncleanness, guile: they spake “not as pleasing men but God, which trieth our hearts”: they used no flattery nor pretext of covetousness: and this was not said lightly, God was their witness: nor did they seek glory of any human source, though as apostles of Christ they might have clothed themselves with the weight and consideration of their commission. No such object commanded them, no such desire impelled them. If not, what then? What motives did govern these honored servants of God? What motives should govern and characterize His beloved servants today? The answer is beautiful and before us. First, fidelity to Him whose servants they were, “not as, pleasing men but God which trieth our hearts “; and second, tenderness and love towards those whom they were sent to serve. And what exquisite refinement and depth of feeling is evidenced in their manner of behavior towards them Gentle as a nursing mother with her own children, desirous of imparting not the gospel of God only but their very selves, because they had become so dear to them.
1 Thess. 2:9
Nor does any false modesty prevent his calling to their minds how they had labored and wrought night and day so as not to be chargeable to them in the way of monetary expense, while preaching to them the free grace of God. On this point Paul is more than ordinarily emphatic. In one place he calls it his reward that in preaching the gospel he would make it without charge (1 Cor. 9:18). Elsewhere he says that as the truth of Christ is in him no man shall stop him of this boasting (2 Cor. 11:10), and of this we have proof in his closing address to the elders at Ephesus, in these memorable words: — “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have skewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:33-35). What a man! What a servant! What an exponent in his own life and ways, of the gospel that he had received from God! of the gospel which he preached to others.
1 Thess. 2:10-12
What forceful eloquence therefore in his words where he calls them and God to witness “how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe;” and how touching his appeal to their own personal knowledge — “how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father,” taking individual interest in every separate child in the family that they should walk worthy of God — the God who had called them, to His own “kingdom and glory.”
In Ephesians 4:1 he exhorts them to all lowliness (mark the word all, for it is forgotten), meekness, longsuffering, and the like, as he beseeches them to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called.
In Colossians 1:9, 10, his constant prayer and desire for them was that they might be filled (mark the word filled) with the complete knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that they might walk worthy of the Lord.
Here he dwells on the testimony of a holy, righteous, and blameless life in the sight of others, even as “the kingdom of God is... righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; for he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable’ to God, and approved of men” (Rom. 14:17-18).
Additional Notes by Readers.
1 Thess. 2:1
The apostle recognized these Thessalonian converts as “brethren,” the new relationship formed in Christianity. Paul himself was a Jew, these one-time idolaters were Gentiles, but now in Christ Jesus they were all one.
1 Thess. 2:2
In this epistle God is present to faith as the living and true God. To such a God had these Thessalonians turned. Hence we can understand the way the apostle links every movement of saints and servants directly with Him, for everything connected with the apostle’s work arose from the activities in grace of the living and true God. Thus: bold in our God; gospel of God; allowed of God; God, which trieth our hearts; God is witness; God, who hath called you; and so through the whole epistle.
BOLD IN OUR GOD. — This boldness was not mere natural courage, but the calm fearlessness that comes of consciousness of the presence of God.
1 Thess. 2:3
OUR EXHORTATION. — On those who were persuaded of the truth of what Paul preached (Acts 17:2, 5), the missionaries had urged certain practical considerations; this is here described as “our exhortation.”
IS NOT OF DECEIT (ERROR). — They had not themselves been carried away by any wiles of error, neither had they sought to mislead others by such wiles (Eph. 4:14). They had not been deceived, neither were they deceivers; see 2 Tim. 3:13, where the word is used which is translated in this verse “deceit,” but which is usually and more correctly translated “error.”
NOR OF UNCLEANNESS. — Compare the description of the false teachers in 2 Peter 2:18, where sensuality and error are again associated (see also Jude 4). Corinth and Thessalonica were both cities wherein gross vice was consecrated to the service of religion. Christianity, Paul declared, did not share the character of the old religion. Compare Chapter 4:7.
NOR IN GUILE. — The preceding words deny a wrong source and a wrong motive; this denies a wrong method. The meaning of the word is best seen from its first New Testament occurrence (Matt. 26:4), where it is translated “subtlety.”
1 Thess. 2:4
Here the choice is between pleasing God and pleasing men, and the Lord Jesus Himself is the pattern: He always did the things that were pleasing to His Father (John 8:29).
In Romans 15:1 and 2, and in 1 Corinthians 10:33 (which is to be interpreted by verse 24 of the chapter), the choice is between pleasing ourselves and pleasing others. Here again Christ is the pattern: He pleased not Himself (Rom. 15:3. See also Phil. 2:4, 5).
1 Thess. 2:5
The glad tidings were their own commendation; they did not require flattering words to be added to them, or anything which was merely human.
A Cloak, that is — a pretense, something assumed to mislead others as to one’s real motives. The word is well illustrated in Acts 27:30, where it is translated “color.”
GOD is WITNESS. Concerning flattery, which is of the tongue, he appealed to his readers; concerning covetousness, which is of the heart, he appealed to God.
1 Thess. 2:7
GENTLE. — Note the contrast with the false apostles of 2 Corinthians 11:13, 20.
1 Thess. 2:9
NIGHT AND DAY. It is very interesting to note that the almost invariable Old Testament formula is “day and night,” whilst in the gospels and epistles the order is usually reversed — night and day. Why is this? May it not run with the trend of the periods, the one towards darkness, the other towards light? “The darkness is passing and the true light already shines” (1 John 2:8 JND).
1 Thess. 2:10
AND GOD ALSO. Always God is the Judge. This is a bold appeal — from the world that knew little of them to the Church that knew more, and, finally, to God who knows all. Compare with this 1 Corinthians 4:3, 4 where again the apostle appeals from man’s day, that is, the world, to “you,” that is, the saints, from the saints to his conscience, from his conscience to his Lord.
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EDITORS’ NOTE: Readers are invited to send us, in the First week of each month, BRIEF expository comments on any or all of the separate verses contained in the portion to be considered the following month. Comments considered helpful, will be published, as far as space permits. Questions are also invited as to the meaning of any verse, or part of a verse, on which special comment is desired. The portion to be considered in the April issue is Chapter 2:13-20, of the Epistle.

Qualities of a True Servant

J. Wilson Smith
1 Thess. 2:1-12
The first twelve verses of this chapter give us twelve qualities of a true servant of Christ, and should be pondered carefully.
Humility
The apostle invokes the witness of the saints to the character of his service among them, and a better witness he could not have called. He says ye “know... that it was not in vain;” that went without saying, since they themselves were the fruit of his labors — the standing proof of the God-given ministry they had received through him. yet he only says that his entrance among them was “not in vain.” He blows no high-sounding trumpet, nor does he tabulate splendid results. he might have done so, but he simply says that it was “not in vain;” and in such an expression we have the first sign of a true servant of Christ, we mark his deep and genuine spirit of HUMILITY.
Courage
They knew, he affirms, the suffering and insults which befell him in his labors at Philippi, even as we know that the inner prison of that city was the cradle of the church in Europe, and that the stripes and prayers of the apostle and his fellow laborer there were the seed of the great harvest of that continent.
They knew his adversities, but they saw that such things did not deter him in the glorious work to which he had been called. Thus their own sufferings were endured by their father in Christ. The gospel which he preached, and which they believed, met with opposition; but this was to him no hindrance to his labor in it. He was bold in his God to preach it. Here we see his COURAGE.
Purity
“Deceit” may well stamp the pleading, of the serpent; “uncleanness” that of the servant of unrighteousness and the seeker of reward like Balaam; and “guile” the ways of the Pharisee, for all such may become angels of light and masters of vile deception; but this man of god used no such artifices. he had the gospel of God for his subject; and, with such a subject, he could not but be true. His exhortation was marked by PURITY.
Fidelity to the Truth
A sacred trust was this, indeed, committed not to cherub, or seraph, or heavenly being, but to mortal man, so that he should be the channel through which waters so pure should flow to all around him. Never was trust more sacred, or privilege more exalted. and, as under this charge, this servant had the pleasure of God before him. Oh! how easy to tickle the ears of men and to preach smooth things; to pare down the gospel to human ideas or wishes; to put darkness for light and light for darkness; to please men by a denial of sin and eternal punishment, and the holiness of god and the atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ! How easy to flatter fallen man into the belief that he needs no “new birth,” no repentance, that he can save himself, that heaven and hell are mere ideas; that God is only merciful and that “judgment to come” is a fable! How pleasing is such flattery to men. yes, but such a falsification of the revealed mind of God must bring judgment upon its authors. Such a man was not Paul. He was marked in his preaching by FIDELITY TO THE TRUTH.
Sincerity
Flattering words are the very worst words anyone can use. May we avoid all flattery. In this case Paul appealed to their knowledge of facts. They knew full well that he never flattered; but then might he not have coveted? He did not, and in this secret matter, where, perhaps, no human eye could see, he calls god to witness. In all this we learn his SINCERITY.
Contentment
This was the proof that he did not covet. As an apostle of Christ he might have been burdensome, he might surely have enjoyed the carnal help of those to whom he carried spiritual blessing; but he made no such claim; “neither of you, nor yet of others,” sought he that pecuniary gain to himself which he might have had as being an apostle. in this we see his CONTENTMENT.
Gentleness
Here we have the opposite of covetousness. a nurse or a mother cherishing her children gives a beautiful idea of care and solicitude for others. Naught here of the “thief” whose object is gain, the “hireling” who serves for pay, or the “wolf” that scatters the flock (John 10), but the gentleness of the mother, the charming tenderness, the faithful love, the restoring touch, the absence of force and violence and the cruel sword. No proud anathema or distant frown, but the love that bears and forbears and that uses towel and water (John 13). May God grant us all more true GENTLENESS.
Affectionate Desire
To impart the gospel is no small privilege, for imparting is more than preaching; but the imparting of the soul, the life, for those to whom you preach! Who of us knows anything of this? It is death for the sake of others. The preaching that proceeds merely from the brain may be very clear, but it is utterly powerless. The whole soul must be in the labor — the very life, so to say, must be communicated! Oh! It must be heart work. Yes, heart work! Call it a human effort if you please, but the man who preaches from the heart is just the man who knows best that the merely human element is useless. But it is “out of the belly” that true living waters must flow (John 7:38), else they are but “ice-floes.” Here we find the servant’s AFFECTIONATE DESIRE.
Devotion
Their memories could bear witness to the incessant toil of this servant of Christ. His object was to preach the gospel, and that without charge on any but himself. This involved manual labor night and day, he found no work excessive, no drudgery painful, so long as he could make known freely, and without the monetary assistance of any, the precious ministry committed to him. It need hardly be added that in such extraordinary DEVOTION we read the invaluable lesson of laboriousness.
Godley Behavior
To such a manner of life they were witnesses, for it was lived in their presence; but God, too, who seeth in secret, was a witness of the hidden springs of the life of his dear servant.
Time would fail to dwell on the holiness, justice, and unblameableness which should lie behind all Christian service and testimony. Without them all outward activity is in vain. No life is so really beautiful as one marked by these qualities. Everyone should be known by his GODLY Behavior.
Fatherly Solicitude
They knew this fatherly care. Everyone of them had been counseled and advised by the apostle separately, tenderly, not merely from the platform, but one by one in such a way that none of them could fail to see a solicitude for his welfare that found its source in the warm affections of a father. Thus we see the working of FATHERLY SOLICITUDE.
Minstry Rightly Aimed
This is the aim of the service of the true servant of God. The call was of God, but the instrument was the servant. The objective was, first the kingdom, and then the glory; and with no object short of this the laborer toiled; and, in view of this, he pressed on them a life, and course of conduct, that should be worthy of God. Here we have a MINISTRY RIGHTLY AIMED.

Sacrifices

T. R. Weston
Hebrews 13:15-16
The sacrifices mentioned in the Old Testament, of whatsoever character they were, pointed only and altogether to the one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is recorded that “once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” and that He offered “one sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 9:26, and 10:12).
When the efficacy of this sacrifice is duly appreciated, the soul becomes settled in the fact that there is no more sacrifice for sin necessary or required. To think otherwise were indeed to detract from the infinite value of Christ’s one offering.
The thought that something propitiatory is still necessary to be offered by us to the Deity is natural to men, and this thought is the cause of all the idolatry in the world, and Christians are not by any means free from it.
It is in the Epistle to the Hebrews that the eternally subsisting value of the death of Christ is unfolded, and it is in the last chapter of this epistle when all questions of atonement and sacrifice for sin are seen to have been settled by the one offering of Jesus Christ, that the response from the believer’s heart for the blessings received is stated. This response is spoken of as “sacrifice.”
The sacrifices that the Christian is privileged to offer are twofold, one towards God and the other towards men, reminding us of the law — of the two tables of stone, one of which spoke of man’s duty towards God, and the other of his duty to his fellows (Ex. 20). That law was utterly broken by men in every point of it, but now on the ground of accomplished redemption, the Christian has become possessed of a power to do that which was impossible under law, and in this new power he can make use of the resources of grace stored up in the Lord for him.
The first exhortation runs: —
“By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).
This is the result of the great benefits we realize and enjoy, secured for us through the one sacrifice of Christ.
We see the thought graphically expressed in the case of the one leper who returned to give glory to God; ten were cleansed but only one came back to the Blesser. (Luke 17:15). Many Christians today are, like the nine, occupied with the forms and ceremonies of cleansing, and do not realize that they have been cleansed once for all, by the blood of Christ, from all their sins and iniquities. It is our privilege to be like the tenth, giving the sacrifice of praise, the wellings over of peace and joy in believing, to God.
This is to be the continual sacrifice of all Christians.
Praise should ever occupy the lips of God’s people. What blessed fruit from lips which aforetime gave expression to words full of bitterness!
God having had His portion from His people, and they being now free from self-occupation, they are able to look upon this world in the mind of God and act towards it accordingly.
“But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb. 13:16).
Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and went about doing good; and we, being anointed by the same Power, are in our measure to follow in His steps.
As the Lord has blessed us we should seek to communicate to others, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus when He said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
The apostle John speaks of this obligation when he says: “Whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” James equally presses the matter when he says: “If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled’; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?” (1 John 3:17, James 2:15, 16).
We see now the character of the sacrifices which can be rendered by us and are so well-pleasing to God.
Dear Christians, are we so occupied? — giving to God His due meet of praise and thanksgiving, and bestowing upon men (especially those who are of the household of faith) those temporal blessings and mercies which are in the power of our hand to minister.
There is nothing legal about this, it is the outflow of the divine nature, and it is thus God would have His people occupied in this world while waiting for the glory so soon to be revealed.
What a cure these simple truths would be for ennui and idleness. Carrying out these apostolic directions, the body of each Christian would become a living sacrifice, and we should thus prove in the actuality of our lives the perfect and acceptable will of God — not exhibiting a dead, lifeless faith, but becoming living exponents of the grace of our God day by day.
The apostle Paul fully realized this character of service when he said, in writing the epistle which of all others unfolds practical Christianity, namely, that to the Philippians, that he was ready to be poured out as a libation on the sacrifice and service of their faith, willing to do them every spiritual good, and communicate to them of all those eternal things of which he had been divinely appointed an apostle and minister; and concurrently he similarly commended the gifts and ministrations of the Philippians, stating that they were an odor of a sweet savor, an acceptable sacrifice, agreeable to God (Phil. 2:17, and 4:18).
May the Lord graciously put His people in the line of these things, that they may render intelligent service, and be able to rightly apportion what is due to God, and what is due to man, that they may be kept free from thinking that anything they can do, is or can be of any propitiatory value, all that side of things having been forever settled by the ONE OFFERING of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In conclusion we see that all these sacrifices are to be freely offered of a ready mind, not of constraint or of necessity; it says in the first place “let us offer,” and in the second place, let us “forget not” to do these things, being assured that with both the one and the other of these sacrifices God is well pleased.
We know God is infinitely pleased, yea, glorified, by the sacrifice which His Son has offered to Him, and which indeed is the only basis upon which He can accept any sacrifice from us.
Indeed we cannot properly touch these things at all if our minds and hearts are not in the enjoyment of that perfect clearance before God, which flows from the redemption work which the Lord Jesus Christ has Himself wrought for all who believe on Him.
Do not imagine that the choicest blessings are placed upon some high shelf, so that you will have to grow tall or climb high to reach them; they are placed within the reach of the lowly, and if you would have them you must stoop.
If we are clear upon the fact that good works are not the cause or means of salvation, let us be equally clear upon the truth that they are the necessary fruit of it.
Men of faith are not idle men.

Various Aspects of the Death of Christ

H. Nunnerley
The death of Christ! Who can rightly set forth its virtues or define its all-embracing scope? In it, God’s love has been fully declared; by it, His nature glorified. Calvary is thus the center of the moral universe; it stands between two eternities; the outcome of purpose and counsel before the world began, its stupendous and far-reaching effects shall continue throughout eternal ages.
It is the burden of the Old Testament. Genesis to Malachi teem with references to it in type and shadow, sacrifice and offering, prophecy and psalm. The facts recorded in the New Testament confirm the predictions of the Old, and so perfectly answer to them in every detail, that atonement becomes interwoven with every part of Scripture.
Christ’s sacrificial work was foreshadowed in Abel’s firstling, the blood-sprinkled lintel and door-post in Egypt, and by every bullock, lamb, and ram offered in connection with the Mosaic ritual. Christ was prophetically announced as the Sin-bearer in Isaiah 53:6, for God laid “upon Him the iniquity of us all”; as the Forsaken One of God in Psalm 22:1; and the Man against whom Jehovah’s sword awoke (Zech. 13:7). These and many other scriptures point to His death as vicarious in its character.
He did die as a martyr at the hands of man, for by wicked hands they crucified and slew Him (Acts 2:23); but this was not atonement, it only demonstrated the evil of man’s heart, his utter badness in the presence of perfect goodness in Christ.
The nails with which men pierced His hands and His feet, the thorny crown placed in derision on His brow, were wounds He received in the house of His friends; but these did not remove one sin.
Christ was not on the cross simply as the “result of the religious bigotry of an unenlightened age,” but by the “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). He was there to give effect to purposes of blessing in God’s heart before the world was. He became a Man in order to die. Having waived His supremacy as Ruler, He took a servant’s form, and constantly reminded His disciples, during His life, that He knew a death awaited Him, which would be of the nature and character of a sin offering. He expressly affirms that His object in coming into this world was to give His life as a ransom. — Mark 10:45.
Let us briefly consider two aspects of Christ’s death.
First — as meeting the claims of God in His holiness.
Second — as discovering the excellencies of Christ’s Person.
The first is typically set forth in Leviticus 16. The offerings on the great day of atonement were not for particular offenses as were the trespass offerings. The sacrifices on this day tell us in symbolic language that God’s rights take precedence over all others. The majesty of His being, the holiness of His nature, demanded that which should meet the claims of His throne.
God is the moral Ruler of the universe. He alone can fix and determine the penalty due to the infringement of His laws. In human things judges administer laws not according to the prisoner’s view, but as they affect the throne. The prisoner at the bar is amenable to His Majesty the King. A man in wronging his neighbor infringes a law on the Statute Book. That book fixes the penalty, not the wrongdoer, nor the man he has wronged.
God had fixed the penalty due to sin, and determined that which was needful to remove it righteously from before His eye. None but He could pronounce sin’s due, and none but One who was His equal could make a suited and sufficient atonement.
Alone, clad in pure linen, enveloped in a cloud of incense, beaten small, the high priest entered the holy of holies and carried the blood of the bullock, and the blood of the goat, and sprinkled it on and before the mercy-seat where God dwelt in thick darkness between the cherubim (Lev. 16:11-17). Striking figure of Christ, pure and spotless, offering Himself on Calvary’s Cross in the thick darkness.
Every blow which had previously fallen upon Him from the malice of Satan, or the wicked hands of men, only brought out the sweet fragrance of the sacred Person of the one and only absolutely holy and perfect Man. Pure in life; ‘perfect in death, in all His excellencies He offered Himself without spot to God. In those three hours of darkness on the cross He entered into the great question of sin as viewed by, and relating to God.
With unshod feet we here stand on holy ground. None shall ever know what passed between the holy Victim and the holy God, when, shrouded from the gaze of man, He suffered for sins. The true nature of sin, its heinousness in the sight of God, is alone expressed at the cross. Its true meaning and God’s abhorrence of it, no tongue can utter, no mind conceive. The unutterable agony of those three hours on Calvary, when from the anguished depths of His holy soul that bitter cry was heard, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” no creature mind could ever measure or comprehend.
Alone went the high priest into the holy of holies when he carried the blood within the veil. No man with him (Verse 17). Outside, every Israelite and stranger was forbidden to work on that day. The entire work was wrought by one man. That man prefigured Christ. “Christ being come an high priest of good things to come... by His own blood entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11-12). Alone Christ made atonement, and none but He could make it. It is now complete, for His precious blood has been shed. The matchless worth of His Person imparted all the excellency to His work. His perfect knowledge of what sin is in God’s sight, and the fact that He is God’s equal and His fellow, enabled Christ to present to Him a sacrifice so perfect, so all-sufficing, that God has been glorified in every attribute of His being.
“None but He, in heaven or earth, could offer that which justice claimed.”
HE COULD. HE HAS.
Expiation has been made, God’s holy claims have been met; and satisfaction has been rendered, suitable to, and in accordance with, all that righteousness demanded.
Atonement is a work presented to God, glorifying Him and meeting His holiness. The blood shed on Calvary alone makes atonement. “Following Christ’s example,” “serving our fellow sinners,” “working in the slums,” is no part of atonement; the whole power of atonement is in the blood. “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). It is not the blood coursing in the veins of a living man; even the pure, spotless, holy life of Christ did not make atonement. That life had to be given up in death, the blood had to be shed upon the altar as a propitiatory sacrifice. We cannot be too clear on this great truth, this cardinal aspect of the death of Christ. The perfection of His life and ways proved His suitability to offer Himself as a sacrifice of sweet savor, holy and without blemish; but the blood stands absolutely alone as meeting God’s claims, and vindicating His holiness. It does not help to make atonement, nor is it part of atonement, it is that which alone makes it. Atonement was not complete until Christ was actually dead.
The claims of God’s throne have been met, sin condemned, its sentence executed, and a righteous basis laid on which God can now make known His grace to the worthless, and salvation to the vilest. The cross is a witness to God’s holiness, a way by which His love and goodness can flow out. The Excellency and worth of the Sacrifice there effectuated is witnessed by the fact that the Purger of sins, the Maker of atonement, is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3).
In Christ’s death is seen righteousness against sin, for He suffered and was not spared, God’s majesty was there maintained, and a holy basis secured enabling Him to exercise forbearance toward this world (Rom. 3:25).
But the death which secured God’s glory witnessed to Christ’s perfection. He not only “restored that which He took not away” (Psa. 69:4), but displayed Excellencies inherent in Himself. He gave Himself up that every attribute of God might be perfectly glorified and displayed; but how His own personal worth is discovered at every step! If we think of God, what devotedness to His glory! what obedience to His will 1 what self-sacrifice! for it was a voluntary act on His part, as evidenced in the words: “I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again.”
No mere creature could thus command his own life. Christ laid down His life; it was not taken from Him (John 10:18). The loud cry testified that He did not die from exhaustion. Pilate marveled that death had taken place so soon; but the soldier’s spear brought forth its witness, for forthwith came there out blood and water. Voluntarily He yielded up His life.
Could a mere man do this? Impossible! Jesus became man in order to die, “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death,” tasted death by the grace of God for men (Heb. 2:9), but never ceased to be the same Person He was before He became man, therefore could He will as none other. Thus the only Man who had power to lay down and take up His life, laid it down as a willing Victim; and, in the very act which brought such profound suffering could justify God, saying, even when forsaken, “Thou continuest holy” (Psa. 22:3). Because death is the wages of sin, part of the judgment of God, He passed through it, and thus “finished” a work which saves men, glorifies God, defeats Satan, and expresses a love that passeth knowledge.
Behold then perfection! Personally, intrinsically, morally. How obedience to God shines out! How devotedness to His will! How love to poor guilty man! What purity, what holiness, what grace, what compassion, what goodness! How it bows our hearts, as gazing upon the holy Sufferer, we say with adoring hearts — “The Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Other aspects of Christ’s death we shall (D.V.) consider in our next issue.
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Ebenezer
We feel something of the mind of Sir Francis Drake, who, after he had sailed round the world, was buffeted with a storm in the Thames. — “What,” said he, “have we sailed round the world safely and shall we be drowned in a ditch?” So do we say this day. Helped so long, and helped so often! God is our refuge and strength, and very present help in trouble. Why should we fear?
Stability
A mind on wheels knows no rest; it is as a rolling thing before the tempest. Struggle against the desire for novelty, or it will lead you astray, as the will-o’-the-wisp deceives the traveler. If you desire to be useful, if you long to honor God, if you wish to be happy, be established in the truth, and be not carried about by every wind of doctrine in these evil days.

The Spirit of Truth

H. D. R. Jameson
“I will pray the Father; and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of Truth: whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
In chapters 13 to 16 of John’s Gospel, we have the words of instruction and comfort addressed by our blessed Lord to His sorrowing disciples in view of the period of His present absence on high. In each of these chapters, save the first, the coming of the “Spirit of Truth” is presented in differing connections: let us look a little now at His coming as presented in the 14th chapter in the verses above quoted.
Jesus was going away; He could not abide with the disciples forever: the claims alike of infinite love and infinite holiness necessitated His departure in a way they could not then understand, and sorrow filled their hearts. But He would pray the Father, and in response to that prayer the Father would send to them another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth; and, mark, He abides with us forever. How precious to know that His presence with us today is the immediate result of the prayer of Jesus on our behalf!
The title given to the Holy Spirit here as “The Spirit of Truth” is full of significance, occurring as it does just after the Lord Jesus had spoken of Himself as “the Truth” (verse 6). Christ is “the Truth”: in Him God is fully declared; and, moreover, in the light of the full shining forth of God in Him, all things are seen in their true relative positions. In Christ therefore the whole range of truth is presented objectively before us for the faith of our souls.
But this is infinite, and hence we can understand the need of a power within commensurate with the greatness of the revelation without and this we have in the Spirit of Truth in us and with us; for the Spirit of Truth is the power and light and witness in us subjectively of all that Christ is objectively as “ the Truth.”(He is more indeed than the power of it, for, on the subjective side, He is the thing itself. He is” Truth” — 1 John, 5:6).
Now the coming of the Spirit of Truth, as presented in this scripture, brings immediately to view, in the most striking contrast, two distinct and sharply defined circles, namely, the “world” and the “you.” His coming and presence marks out these two circles in a distinction the one from the other which is vital and eternal. They cannot overlap.
There is on the one hand the “world”: it does not, indeed cannot, receive the Spirit of Truth, for it “seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.” On the other hand in blessed contrast we have the “you”: the divine circle here on earth where the Spirit dwells. Of these it can be said “ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you.”
“In” is an explanation setting forth the way the Spirit would be with them: He was not to be external to themselves, as Jesus was whilst with them, but He would be with them by being in them. But the great thought in the passage is that whereas Christ could not remain with them, the Spirit of Truth, who was to come, would abide with them forever.
He would be with them moreover as the Spirit of Truth. In the “world” there is not one ray of divine light, but in the divine circle here on earth (the “you” of this verse) the truth and light of God are known, enjoyed and set forth; for there the Spirit of Truth dwells, maintaining in the hearts of all in that circle the glorious light of Him who is — “the Truth.”
We have before us then but the two circles, the world on the one hand and the Christian circle on the other; and this brings us in the very simplest and most elementary way to what is collective. “He dwelleth with you”: that is the divine circle on earth. Though every believer is indwelt, yet we are not indwelt by the Spirit as so many isolated units; the whole Christian company is in view.
Now this truth is of the greatest practical importance and worthy of earnest attention and consideration, for if we would have the unhindered gain of the Spirit’s presence here, our minds must have the same outlook as His, and our service contemplate no smaller circle than that in which He dwells, and which is the sphere of His marvelous operations — that wide and blessed circle within the everlasting affections of Christ in whose Name He comes (vs. 16).
The Lord grant it may be so, for His Name’s sake!

Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 3 - God's Center of Blessing

H. P. Barker
No. 3. — Joel
God’s Center of Blessing
Joel 1:1-19
“The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.
Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?
Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.
The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the Priests, the Lord’s ministers, mourn.
O Lord, to Thee will I cry.”
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In the days of the prophet Joel, the land of Judah was visited by a terrible plague of insects. Such a thing had never been experienced before; and so fearful was the scourge, that generations yet unborn were to hear the story of the dire calamity which had befallen the land.
Devastation had spread on every side. With first the palmerworm, then the locust, then the cankerworm, then the caterpillar, nothing had escaped. The vines and the fig trees were destroyed, the fields of wheat and barley were laid waste, the grass of the pastures was consumed, and the whole land lay in utter desolation.
But what caused the prophet special grief amid all this sorrow was the fact that the meat offering and the drink offering were cut off from the house of the Lord. The means were no longer forthcoming to keep up these sacrifices. Twice in chapter 1 is this fact lamented, and no wonder, for the meat and drink offerings spoke of Christ. And now they had ceased, and as God looked down from heaven there was no longer anything in Judah that presented Christ typically to His eye.
Here then we get the dark background of the prophecy we are to consider, a prophecy which brightens into such glorious splendor at its close.
We must remember that all these things have a moral bearing. The desolation all around was the counterpart of the havoc that sin had wrought within. The people had grievously wandered from Jehovah, and their state was such that He could take no pleasure in them. The whole scene was one of ruin and departure from God.
Were there none that felt all this? None that viewed things according to God? None that groaned in secret over the condition of the land and the people?
Yes, there was Joel. No doubt there were others, godly men who feared Jehovah, just as in Elijah’s day there were 7,000 who did not bow the knee to Baal. But Joel comes before us here as the one who mourned over the state of things, and carried the burden of his people’s trouble upon his spirit. And who can fail to recognize the voice of Christ in the way he speaks? Who is it, think you, that speaks in verses 6 and 7 of “my land,” and “my vine,” and “my fig-tree”? Who is it that in verse 19 cries out, in the midst of all the stress, to Jehovah, as the One in whom alone a resource and refuge is to be found?
It is, I believe, the blessed Lord, in the spirit of prophecy, identifying Himself with His people in their woe, Himself feeling the pressure that is upon them, and giving voice to the feelings that the Spirit of God would produce in them through the trial.
Precious Savior!’ with what deep delight can we, who know Him in a still more intimate way, and stand in a still closer relationship to Him, trace out His ways of grace with His people of old!
But the state of the nation was hopeless. The meat and drink offerings ceased; the people had, so to speak, lost that which was a presentation of Christ, and what possible hope could there be apart from Him?
Joel 2:1-13
“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.
A day of darkness and of gloominess....there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth His word.
Therefore also now, saith the Lord..... turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”
But in chapter 2 the whole situation is changed. God brings forward His great resource. If there was no outlook for Judah but one of darkness and despair, if their sky was covered with murky clouds without a gleam, their extremity gives God His opportunity to bring in that which He ever had in view, and which is completely secure from all possibility of breakdown, the fruit of His own counsel.
So in chapter 2 the whole situation is changed by the introduction of Mount Zion, and the prophecy forthwith carries us on into the future.
The plague of insects is then seen to be figurative of a still more terrible scourge that should come upon the land and the people of Israel in the last days (days yet to come); a time of which it could be said with even greater truth than with respect to the devastation by insects “there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.”
Into the details of the prophetic future I do not propose to enter, for my subject is not exactly an exposition of the book of Joel, but to show how Christ is presented therein. But we must have some understanding of what is referred to, in order that we may see how God brings in His great resource.
In the last days, when the Jews are gathered back to their own land, and are again acknowledged by God as His people, a great enemy will come up against them from the north. This enemy is not to be confounded with the Antichrist, nor with the great king called in Scripture “the Beast,” who reigns over the empire of the west. This other enemy who comes up against Jerusalem from the north is frequently referred to by Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and other prophets, and is generally spoken of as “The Assyrian.” The first part of Joel 2 describes his invasion of the land of Israel and the manner of his army’s advance upon Jerusalem. Terrible indeed will be their coming. With sword and flame they spread destruction all around, “nothing shall escape them.”
But it is not to the enemy, or to the havoc that he works, that God would direct our attention by His servant Joel, but to the way He brings in Mount Zion as His resource. In connection with Mount Zion we have the utter overthrow of the enemy and the final deliverance and blessing of God’s people.
Now, of course, all this is yet future. But there is a passage in Hebrews 12:1 would like to remind you of: “Ye are come unto Mount Zion.” Zion has not yet come; the blessing of God which will be secured for the earth in connection with it is still in abeyance. But though Zion has not yet come, we (Christians) have come to it. That is what Hebrews 12:22 states. The meaning is clear enough. Zion is really a type of the Risen Christ, the One in whom God has made His blessing sure, not on the ground of fulfilled responsibility on man’s part, but on the ground of His own purpose. When everything on our side had broken down, and every claim upon God forfeited, He was pleased to set forth Christ as His great Resource, the One in whom blessing is treasured up for man, according to His own purpose, and in such a way as to be eternally secure from all fear of breakdown or forfeiture.
I have no wish to follow in the steps of those who “spiritualize” the prophets, and make their references to Israel apply to the Church, and who interpret all the literal blessings promised to the chosen nation as referring, in a spiritual and allegorical way, to Christians. Great harm has been done by that sort of thing.
When Israel is spoken of, Israel, not the Church, is meant. When the Jews are mentioned, the reference is to them literally, and not to Christians.
At the same time we Christians have come to that of which the literal Zion is a type, and with that thought in mind I will ask you to look with me at the seven passages in which Joel speaks of Zion.
1. Joel 2:11
The first thing is that from Zion an alarm is sounded. The effect of it, in the future day, is described in verse 11.
The calamity under which they suffer is recognized as coming upon them from God, the devastating army was executing His word. Then a proclamation of God’s goodness follows, and a call for fasting and repentance.
Now see how that applies to us when we think of Zion as a type of Christ. In Him we have a perfect expression of God’s grace and goodness, and the first effect of that upon our souls is to bow us down in repentance. An alarm is sounded, we acknowledge our lost condition and fall at His feet. It is a great mercy to’ be able to learn our state in the light of the Risen Christ, for by this means we learn it in the presence of infinite grace. Otherwise, like Judas, we should be filled with remorse at the discovery of our condition, and with bitterness in our hearts we should turn away, as he did, into the darkness of eternal alienation from God.
We cannot be too thankful that it is from Zion that the alarm has been sounded; that is, that the light that has shone upon us, and brought us down (as it did Saul the persecutor on the road to Damascus), is the light of the grace of God in Christ risen.
2. Joel 2:15-21
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children: Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people.
Fear not, O land: be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.”
Again the trumpet is to be blown in Zion, not this time to “sound an alarm,” but to gather the people together that they may learn how God is going to intervene for them. Though they have sinned and have suffered, they are His people, His heritage, His land, and He is jealous on their behalf, The enemy has done great things; God has allowed him to; but now He shows Himself to be on the side of His people, and the promise is “The Lord will do great things” (verse 21). The great things that He would do for them would far surpass the great things that the Assyrian had done against them.
Again let us remember that we have come to Mount Zion. In Christ God has set forth a great rallying point for man, and in Him we learn the precious truth that God is for us (Rom. 8), The enemy’s power may be ever so great, but can he touch us if GOD is on our side?
This is a most establishing thought. We begin by seeing that God’s judgment is against us, and righteously so, because of our sin. Then we see how Christ has been down under that judgment, and has borne it for us, and that now God Himself is righteously for us. It is not merely that in Christ we have a complete settlement of the question that stood between God and us; but that the question between God and the enemy has been settled, by the utter overthrow of the latter, and the right secured for God to come in on our behalf, as our Deliverer, as the One who is for us. We have the light of this in Christ Risen, the true Mount Zion. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God.” (verses 26 and 27).
Then, the gift of the Spirit is promised. The “wonders” of verse 30 happen, we read, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. But “afterward,” it says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” God will be able to dwell with complacency among His people, and to signify His pleasure in them, as children of Zion, by pouring out His Spirit upon them.
To all this we, Christians, have already come. After learning that God is for us, we learn that we are on a new footing before Him, associated with the risen Christ, “children of Zion.” We can now take account of ourselves as the companions of Christ, and of His order. We live of His life, and have received the gift of the Spirit. As the companions of Christ we share in His anointing. He always retains His place of pre-eminence (how gladly do our hearts accord it to Him!), but we have His Spirit, and are thus able to enter into the joys of the new position into which we are brought as “children of Zion,” companions of the Risen Christ.
3. Joel 2:23-31
“Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh.
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”
The people now become identified in the mind of God with Zion, and are addressed as “children of Zion.” Suffering and sorrow are things of the past, joy and gladness fill their cup to overflowing. “Ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,” they are told, “and praise the name of the Lord your God that hath dealt wondrously with you: and My people shall never be ashamed.
4. Joel 2:32
“And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom, the Lord shall call.”
Here we find that salvation, or deliverance, is in Zion for Israel in the last days, but it is in connection with the call of God, and will be made good in a remnant. It will be there for all, for “whosoever shall call,” but the call of God has to come in to make it effective. He calls a remnant, and this remnant get all the good of the deliverance that is in Zion. Again I quote that passage from Hebrews 12 that I am using as a key to these prophecies: “Ye are come unto Mount Zion.” We have, in Christ, the One in connection with whom the call of God is made effective, and in whom we therefore have deliverance. In Him, blessing for man is lifted entirely off the plane of responsibility, and put on the ground of the call of God. 2 Timothy 1:9 brings in salvation in this connection. God’s purpose and grace are spoken of as having been given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began. According to this (and not by any means according to our works) is His salvation and holy calling. In speaking of salvation in this way we must not limit it to salvation from hell. It is salvation from every form of power that the enemy can bring against us. Those who get the good of this great salvation are those who are the subjects of the sovereign call of God, and who are connected, according to His purpose, with Zion, that is, with Christ risen.
5. Joel 3:1-16
“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem.
Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision (threshing); for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision (threshing).
The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.”
In this last chapter the prophecy looks on to the time of full blessing and glory. But first it shows us how the world has to be prepared for it by the sweeping judgment of God upon the nations. Zion is the place from which that judgment goes forth. The nations are summoned to the valley of Jehoshaphat (which means “Jehovah judges”). They are seen in their multitudes in this valley of threshing. Then the Lord roars out of Zion, and the very heavens shake at the sound. But for His people He has something very different in store; He is their hope, or their “place of repair,” their “harbor,” in that day It is a solemn thing to remember tha the Risen Christ is not only the Fountain, head of blessing but the Executor of all judgment. The guilty nations will meet their doom at the hands of a Man, no the man of their choice, but the Man of God’s choice. If He is to hold the universe for God and fill it with what is agreeable to Him, He must first remove all that is contrary. That involves judgment. It is a necessity, if the blessing centered in Christ is to fill the earth, that what blocks the way should first be removed. And Christ, the Mighty One, will gird His sword upon His thigh, and will sweep out of His kingdom all things that offend.
But we “are come unto Mount Zion.” The world, for us, is already a judged thing. In Christ Risen we have arrived at the blessing with which the whole earth is to be filled, and all that is outside of that lies under judgment. That is how we view things from the standpoint of the Risen Christ. It was Paul’s outlook when he said “the world is crucified to me.”
If a Christian is going on with the world, it is evident that he does not realize this. But Zion is a great reality, and involves the disappearance in judgment of man’s world as a vast moral system. How happy to be able to say that for us it has gone already. It no longer holds us by its power, for its true character has been exposed in its rejection of Christ.
In times of war, a well-equipped naval port is the “place of repair” for the king’s vessels. But from the same place engines of destruction go forth against the enemy’s fleet. That is like our scripture. In Christ Risen there is a harbor, a place of repair, for His people, and from Him destruction will go forth against all that has wrought confusion and damage in the world.
6. Joel 3:17
“So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem he holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.”
Here we find a very important thing. Not only will God establish blessing in Zion, but He Himself will dwell there. He will take exclusive possession, no stranger’s foot shall ever again defile that holy mountain.
To this, also, we are come. For in the Risen Lord we are brought to the very dwelling-place of God. Not only do we find God fully revealed, for the blessing of His people, but that He is pleased to dwell in their midst, in infinite rest and satisfaction. God could not dwell in a scene where there was anything contrary to Christ. But where the excellency and fragrance of Christ pervades the whole atmosphere, where all is of Him, God can dwell with unspeakable delight.
As children of Adam, men of that order, there is nothing in us that God could look upon with pleasure. But as in Christ, God can find the most perfect satisfaction in us. How is that? “If any man be in Christ there is new creation,” and, viewed in that light, there is nothing in us or about us but what is of Christ. And in a house where every stone is part of Christ, where nothing is visible but Christ, where His fragrance pervades every part — in such a house the blessed God dwells, He makes His home there, with unutterable delight.
The practical result in us, should be holiness. When God dwells in Zion, Jerusalem shall be holy. And holiness is more than mere abstinence from sin. It involves the exclusive possession of us by God, so that “no stranger” has any part in us.
7. Joel 3:21
“The Lord dwelleth in Zion.”
Here the fact that we were considering just now is again stated, but in this case it is spoken of as the great end that God has in view. Reading verse 17 and no further, one might think that holiness was the end, and that God’s dwelling in Zion was merely the means whereby this end might be secured.
But it is not so. Holiness in itself is not an end or object. I say this because there are plenty of Christians today who seem to make holiness their great object. I believe they have a very faulty notion of what real holiness, according to God, is. In the way they pursue it, they really make SELF, in a most subtle form, their object. How fearfully insidious a thing is self! What could seem more right than to aim at a holy life, and an experience of continual joy? But how that ugly “I” shows itself even in connection with a desire of that kind! How nice if “I” could be holy and good, and if “I” could have this wonderful experience. I do not want to be uncharitable, but I know of no people more self-occupied and self-complacent than those who imagine that they have reached this state and enjoy this wonderful experience.
God’s great end, however, is that He might dwell. With that there must, of course, be holiness. But holiness, in itself, is not the object. If we have any object or end before our souls short of God’s end, we shall be losers.
How good to have before us God’s great end, namely, that He is pleased to surround Himself with a universe filled with Christ, every part of it fragrant with Him, and there to dwell. It will actually come to pass in a day that is ever drawing nearer (never so near, thank God, as at this moment), but it is already established in Christ, and we have come to this by faith, and by faith may enjoy the glory of it now in some measure.
When Susanna Wesley was asked how she managed to bring up such a large family, and all of them in the, nurture and admonition of the Lord, she gave this never-to-be-forgotten answer — “ There is no mystery about the matter. I just took Jacky alone with me into my own room every Monday night, and Charles every Tuesday night, and Molly every Wednesday night, and so on, all through the week: that is all.”
And did she not get her reward, when one of her family came forth from his mother’s room to be the great and God-honored evangelist he was, and another stepped forth to be one of the sweetest of singers in our modern Israel.

Answers to Correspondents

The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day
J. A. P. — The Sabbath is distinctly connected with the first creation; it marked the completion of God’s work therein; and then, all being “very good,” He “rested from all His work which He had created and made.”
When God separated Israel from the nations, He gave them the law which, if kept, would have enabled them to enjoy the blessings of the first creation, for theirs were earthly blessings, and the Sabbath was given to them as the sign of His covenant with them as ‘a people in responsibility on earth (Ex. 31:13 and 17).
But as God’s Sabbath was broken in upon by sin in Eden, so Israel failed to enjoy it because of their transgressions, and in consequence God had no rest or satisfaction in them. Thus, when Jesus came to earth, there was no Sabbath for Him, for sin was here; and He had to say “My Father worketh hitherto and I work.”
But the Sabbath as given to Israel (along with everything else that belonged to the old covenant) was but the shadow of good things to come; Christ is the substance; in Him alone could rest be found. This the Pharisees refused. They held to the letter of the law, which could only slay them, while refusing Him, who was the spirit of it, and who alone could give life and rest.
Everything is changed for the Christian. Old things have passed away, and his blessings are not connected with earth, but heaven. He has not to labor six days to keep the law, and enter into rest if he does this; for he owns that he has come short of God’s standard, and that the law could only curse him; but he has turned from the law to Christ who bore its curse, and his soul has entered a new day, with not rest at the end of toil, but rest when he begins to serve the Lord in newness of spirit.
Nothing could prove the utter breakdown of man in his place of responsibility in God’s creation like the fact that Jesus, who was the Creator, lay in death on the Sabbath day. Nothing proves the greatness of His triumph and the completion and perfection of His works as does His resurrection from the dead, which took place on the first day of the week. That is the day of days for the Christian: the day of a great triumph, the inauguration of a new creation, all secured in, and to be brought into full completion by the First Begotten from the dead. The day is distinctly honored in Scripture. The Lord appeared to His disciples on it on at least two occasions; the early disciples met on it to commemorate the Lord’s death in the breaking of bread; and it is distinctly spoken of as the Lord’s day in Revelation 1. Because of this the Christian cannot view it lightly, though he does not regard it at all in the light of the Sabbath, which belonged to the old creation, to the dispensation of law and shadows.
When God takes up Israel again and places them as His redeemed earthly people, secure from harm in the land of promise, then the Sabbath will be kept according to the mind of God; that is future.
But Christian blessings are not earthly, but heavenly. Before the earth was, or any covenant existed between God and man upon it, our heavenly, holy calling, and all the blessings connected with it, were purposed and secured for us in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:9).
Our Lord’s Humanity
— F. writes as to the use of the expression “condition” on page 34 of our February issue, as applied to our blessed Lord in the words, “Come.... into manhood, into the condition of His lost and fallen creature,” and fears lest these words should give the impression that Christ partook of the sinful mature of man. Far be the thought! The Son of God in incarnation was absolutely unique. In Him was no trace or taint of sin; His every thought and word and act was of, and according to the Spirit of God.
But while earnestly insisting on this, it is needful also to insist on the reality of His manhood, for there is a phase of doctrine abroad today, which seems to view the Lord Jesus as having merely assumed the form of man, and nothing more. That is not the truth; else we had no real Savior, no true Substitute or Mediator. His was not merely the outward form and likeness, but also the whole condition that belonged to humanity (always perfect in Him). He was in all points tempted like as we are, sin apart (Heb. 4:15, N.T.). He could “hunger” and “thirst,” and knew what it was to be “wearied” by the way; He came into manhood, too, in all the reality of that condition of being Godward (Heb. 5:7). Moreover, though the suffering and weakness is over, He still retains His manhood in resurrection. See Hebrews 2:13: “Again, I will put My trust in Him.”
The mystery of incarnation is inscrutable, but through it is presented to us, for the adoration of our souls, One who was, is, and ever shall be, God over all, blessed forever, and yet is the peerless “Man Christ Jesus.”
The Kingdom and the Church
W. R. — Your question as to the kingdom of God and the Church opens up a very large subject, and one which the space at our disposal this month will not allow us to go into. For a full and clear unfolding of the truth of the kingdom we recommend you to get a copy of a book on that subject by J. A. Trench (price 4d.) from the office of this magazine.
As to the Church, in its completed aspect, it will be made up of all believers on the Lord Jesus in this present period, that is, from Pentecost to the coming of the Lord (see 1 Thess. 4:16-17). These are all indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and thus linked up with Christ, their risen Head in Heaven. A series of articles commencing this month, in this paper, entitled “The Mystery of God,” will, we trust, be helpful to the understanding of this great subject.

Love's Mystery

“The Son of God... loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
LOVE — uncaused, loving me!
From far Eternity,
In sovereign mystery
Of Thine election!
Low in subjection
Worship! Thee

BLOOD — poured out full for me!
On dark Golgotha’s tree,
In awful mystery
Of Thy salvation!
Faith’s adoration
Bring I to Thee!

GRACE — lavished still on me!
All worthless though I be,
In daily mystery
Of Thy heart’s kindness
Through all my blindness! —
Praise be to Thee!

HEAVEN-opened wide for me!
For all Eternity! —
Love’s last, long mystery!
O consummation
Of God’s redemption,
Wait I for Thee!
“Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Outward Bound!

W. H. Westcott
Romans 15
18. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
19. Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum. I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
20. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:
21. But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
22. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.
23. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
24. Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in, my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.
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In translating the Epistle to the Romans for the benefit of natives converted to God from heathenism, its beauty and largeness have been more impressed upon me than ever.
Not to speak now of the early chapters with all their importance for our souls’ establishment in grace, there are some excellent considerations at the end, which show the spirit and faith of the great vessel, whom God chose to be His servant to minister Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. I refer to the Apostle Paul, and to his communications by the Spirit in the fifteenth chapter.
It is a peculiar feature of the present dispensation that God has set aside all national or hereditary religion, as exemplified in His chosen nation of Israel (and no other nation is ever spoken of in Scripture as His chosen), in favor of the testimony which embraces all the Gentiles, that is, every nation and tribe under the sun.
Accordingly the apostle, in fellowship with the heart and with the purpose of God, took first the whole region from Jerusalem to Illyricum as his parish, and fully preached the gospel of Christ. To our Lilliputian minds it seems almost incredible (see the map of Paul’s travels and the area involved); but in all his labors the power of the Spirit of God was with him. Hence souls were everywhere brought to the knowledge of God revealed in Christ Jesus the Lord, assemblies were planted and watered, the mystery of the gospel was communicated.
The measure of saints’ intelligence and faith everywhere varied, and we might suppose that this great vessel would now surrender the evangelistic side of his work to younger men, and devote himself to pastoral and teaching labors in the meetings already formed. Such might have been the human expedient, but it was not the Divine mode, in regard of his service. As long as there remained any part in that district in which Christ had not been named, he felt that there was not only a justification for his working in it, but a call to take the gospel there; yet at the time of writing he felt that the ways of God took him onward. “Having no more place in these parts” was, for him, the loosening of the tether that bound him to them.
Now Rome and Italy were next in order as his thoughts went westward. But since at Rome was a large and prosperous assembly at the time, he did not regard that place as a terminus by any means; on the contrary, his thoughts went on to regions beyond them. He would spend time with them truly, and would impart some spiritual gift that they might be established; but a deep yearning possessed him to launch out into the deep. Spain lay beyond; Spain in the grip of the enemy of the Lord whom he served; Spain where might be found other trophies of the saving grace of God, and other members of that body, of the truth as to which he was constituted minister.
But do notice the words, “For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you” (vs. 22). For what cause? Because there still remained, up to the time just previous to the writing of the epistle, some towns where they had not heard of Christ. But once these were evangelized, Paul had no hesitation about leaving the assemblies with their local helpers in the care of the Lord and of His ever present Spirit, nor about plunging afresh into heathendom.
Does it not encourage and widen our hearts to read, “It is written, To whom He was not spoken of, THEY SHALL SEE; and they that have not heard SHALL UNDERSTAND”? If we wish to be certain of converts to God, men who will both see and understand Him of whom the gospel speaks, we may look for them confidently among men who have not heard before, and to whom He was not spoken of before. It seems to me that the normal movement of a saint’s heart must be forward. A steamer is built for forward movement. It is capable of navigating to the rear, for there may be some poor fellow, who falls overboard, to be picked up; or there may be occasional short-sightedness that nearly produces collision-and it is better to go astern a bit than to send one’s fellow-navigators to the bottom; or it may be necessary to go backwards to get out of dock, or to get clear of other craft in harbor. But all this is abnormal, and the owners of the steamer would be very dissatisfied with their investment if she were not usually going full steam ahead on their business.
I understand this to have been the spirit of the apostle. He could put into Ephesus, and stay there a long time at the Lord’s will; he could linger over Galatians, who seemed like subjects for the lifebelt or the lifeboat rather than sturdy mariners for God; but his evident business from Jerusalem to Illyricum, and again from Illyricum to Spain, was “full steam ahead” to regions where Christ was NOT NAMED. This was the port of destination. Here is one of the notes in his log-book: “We are come as far as to you also in the gospel of Christ,... having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you, according to our rule abundantly, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you” (2 Cor. 10:14-16). If he went to Rome as he planned, it is thus he speaks: “I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you” (Rom. 15:24). Thitherward! Thitherward!! THITHERWARD!!!
We are not apostles now; in fact, we are very poor witnesses of our Lord at best; and the state of the assembly calls for constant care and prayer; but I judge we shall very greatly help saints by cultivating the apostle’s spirit of active testimony to the Lord. Nine hundred and ninety in every thousand may be fixtures in their own localities by business ties and other lawful claims; but let our hearts go out thitherward, thitherward. Whither? To where Christ is not named.
I am convinced that largeness of heart in such lawful directions would preserve from much introspection, and from much striving about words to no profit. A sound, active frame, healthful and vigorous, throws off microbes, where a frame enfeebled by inactivity absorbs and assimilates them.
May the Lord enlarge our hearts.
Shake off earth’s sloth!
Go forth with staff in hand while yet
‘tis day;
Set out with girded loins upon the way,
Up! linger not!

Fold not thy hands!
What has the pilgrim of the cross and
crown
To do with luxury or couch of down?
On! pilgrim, on!

The Lord's Supper

J. T. Mawson
“In remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:25).
Every incident recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures by the Spirit of God, has for its chief purpose the exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ; and as He rises in His surpassing glory before the soul, all divine truth takes its right place in the heart, and the Christian is edified and established according to the will of God. To acquire knowledge of doctrine without this is disastrous, for the flesh is puffed up thereby, and the possessor, falling into the fault of the Devil, becomes enwrapped in the worst of error.
The re-telling of the institution of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-25) seems to have this character in a special way. In the first place, we notice that the apostle had received direct revelation from the Lord as to it for the Gentiles. In no other passage have we these words used — “I have received of the Lord,” though in connection with the coming of the Lord (1 Thess. 4.), we have something similar, marking these two things out for special notice: the Lord’s Supper — the reminder of His great love to us in the past; and His coming again for us — proof that that precious love does not and will not wane.
But not only did the apostle receive a revelation from the Lord as to this, but he was also inspired by the Holy Spirit to record that revelation in the epistle addressed to all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours, so that the subject has received double emphasis, and should command the earnest attention of all who love the Lord.
If a human mind had been left to its own wisdom in the recording of this incident of incidents, we should probably have been told that the Supper was instituted on the night before the crucifixion, for that which is the greatest thing in the mind would have been uppermost. But a divine hand has drawn the picture, and the object seems to be that the constancy of the love of Jesus should be thrown into the brightest relief by the dark background of the betrayal.
We recall that scene: from the world’s cold rejection and bitter hatred Jesus had withdrawn with His own into the upper chamber. Oh, how He loved them! He knew that without, the Pharisees had plotted His death, that even then the moment was at hand when the rabble would lay violent hands on Him, but nothing better than this could be expected from a world of which Satan was the prince. Yet surely His sorrow-charged heart could find rest and solace in the midst of His chosen twelve? Nay, it was then and there that He had to say, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me” (John 13:21). What anguish must have pierced His heart as He gave utterance to these words “one of you.” He had watched over them with an infinite tenderness. He had shielded them from the rude blasts of a devil-deceived world, and had been their Comforter and Guide in every trial. He had prayed for them while their weary bodies slept, and had taught them when they woke;’ no tongue can tell how precious they were to Him, but at the end He has to testify, “One of you shall betray Me”!
It was reserved for the flesh to display itself in that little circle in a way that was impossible elsewhere, so that its hatefulness might be demonstrated and its incorrigibility undeniably proved. It is vain to talk of the elevating effect of environment, and to plead that if the conditions in which men live were altered they would be different. No man could have had greater privileges or better opportunity than Judas, yet at the end of three years “familiar” friendship with the Son of God, he betrayed Him with a kiss, and that for the price of a slave. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and the flesh in which Judas lived and acted is within every one of us. We do well to keep this in mind.
But this did not change the heart of Jesus: indeed it was with this terrible disclosure of the flesh in full view that He instituted the Supper — that which was to be throughout all time a reminder to “His own” of a love that was quenchless and eternal, a love which would buffet the fierce billows of death on their behalf, that would give Himself for them.
We are taught important lessons by the contrasts in Scripture and here we light on one of a most striking character. Peter heard the words of Jesus, “one of you,” but he did not believe that he was capable of so vile a deed; he was forward in protesting his devotion to his Lord, he was prepared to stand by Him even unto death. All others might fly before the foe, but Jesus might rest secure in his support. Peter was a self-confident man, and he did not see why the Lord should not put the same confidence in him as he put in himself.
It was there that the flesh had him at an advantage, and the consequence of this self-confidence was, that he slept while his Master watched and wept, he fought in the excitement of nature when his Master was calmly submissive. He stooped to console himself at the fire of his Master’s foes. He denied Him with oaths and profanity, and is seen at last in the pitiless night a conscience-stricken and heart-broken backslider.
John also heard his Master’s words; he made no profession above the rest, but he was near to his Lord, and it was as though he said, “Master, I hear what you say, and believe your words, and I can neither trust my own heart nor the heart of any of my fellows, but I can trust Yours,” and so he put his head down upon Jesus’ breast (John 13:23).
This was confidence in the Lord instead of self, and mark the result. John went in with Jesus to the palace of the high priest, and he stood so near the cross during the last great sorrow that Jesus could turn to him and say, “Behold thy mother” (John 19:27).
What a comfort it must have been to the tender heart of the Son of God to have had one near to Him at that moment, whom He could trust, and to whom He could commit that precious legacy.
But this could not have been if John had reposed in his love to Jesus instead of Jesus’ love to him.
So the night of the betrayal, and the Lord’s supper, are linked together for us in the holy record, that we might not rely upon that which is utterly untrustworthy as did Peter, but upon Him who can never fail us. And it is as though His own lips exhorted us to the partaking of His supper that these things might be kept green in the memory. In it He Himself is brought before the soul, for it is, “This do in remembrance of Me,” and we do well to lay the emphasis on the “Me.” All that He is and ever will be in the depth of His love for us and the strength of His unlimited devotion to God shone out in His death. As He hung with head bowed upon a cross of shame, and blood flowing from spear-rent side, having tasted death as the judgment of God against sin, the full tale was told. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it” (Song of Sol. 8:7). To the uttermost extremity that love would go, that God might be glorified, and we might be saved.
“Oh! what a load was Thine to bear
Alone in that dark hour,
Our sins in all their terror there,
God’s wrath and Satan’s power.”
It is Himself: what He endured, and the perfection which shone in the midst of that darkness, that we are given to recall in His Supper, until our souls are filled with adoration and worship. And from the remembrance of Him, if rightly affected thereby, we shall go forth having no confidence in the flesh, but rejoicing in Him: not to rest in our love to Him, but His to us, and so shall we be His friends to whom He can commit some precious charge to keep for Him in this world.
If the flesh displayed itself in the betrayal, it met its full condemnation in the death of Jesus; for He who was ever the holy, spotless Son of God, came in the likeness of sinful flesh, and submitted Himself to its full judgment.
This is a deeply solemn side of the subject, and it is here that the exhortation comes in, “Let a man examine himself (or ‘let him be self-judged’), and so let him eat “ (1 Cor. 11:28). The flesh in us which brought the Son of God into the judgment of death, must be judged by those who partake of that supper. But to judge the flesh is not to hold it in check by some legal resolve or method, but to be wholly taken up with and dependent upon the One whose love, shone forth in death, and who lives evermore to be the satisfying object of the heart that knows Him.

"Creation": The General Idea of the Preface

S. L. Jacob
The General Idea of the Preface.
Genesis commences with the words “In the beginning GOD.” God precedes all things, and by His word were all things brought into being. Next we come to the original act of creation: of this nothing is said but that God created. We know not in what far distant ages this may have been, nor what interval of time separates verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1. In other scriptures we are given just a glimmering of what may set forth some long past terrific cataclysm which followed on the inception of sin in angelic beings, and which overwhelmed the fair creation of God.
Into those secrets of the ages past we are not initiated, but in verse 2 is brought to view a world in a condition other than that in which it was created. At this point begin the dealings of God with the earth and the heavens in view of man, and in particular in view of the Man of His counsels, in whom the whole conflict between good and evil should be brought to a triumphant issue in the eternal victory of good.
In verse 2 we read “the earth was without form.” In Isaiah 45:18 the inspired statement is made, “He created it not in vain.” The word translated “without form” in Genesis 1 is the same word as is translated “in vain” in Isaiah 45. Unmistakably, then, the earth was not, in the second verse of Genesis 1, as God created it. Moreover, unrelieved darkness was upon the face of the deep: this was not of God. According to the universal meaning of the symbol, “darkness” here presents the state of a lost world (similarly elsewhere of a lost soul), fallen under the power of sin, alienated from God, and without remedy unless God intervened.
But the next sentence speaks of God’s work, for “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” God being at work, all must be well eventually; but everything must be done thoroughly, deliberately; there must be no haste, for spiritual and moral work is portrayed, and such work cannot be hurried. He that believeth shall not make haste, because God does not make haste. The word for “moved” in this passage is remarkable; it is quite different to the word “moving” in the l0th verse, or “moveth” in verses 21 and 28; it is only used twice elsewhere in Scripture, viz., in Deuteronomy 32:11, “As an eagle... fluttereth over her young,” and in Jeremiah 23:9, “All my bones shake”; so that it is evident the motion is not progressive as in the other cases in Genesis 1, but vibratory or oscillatory. God moved and continued moving. What a change from the stillness of death I God is a living God; by Him all things are preserved in life (1 Tim. 6:13 JND); all is activity with Him, and He impresses activity on all things. Nothing is still in Nature; even the most rigid body, such as a steel blade, is composed of particles in rapid vibratory motion. Otherwise there is nothing but death and dissolution for things animate or inanimate; and rest is not cessation from motion, which would be stagnation, but by the triumph of good over evil, so that conflict may cease, and the activities of love flow on unchecked.
The Proof — The First Day
The proof that good and evil are here symbolized comes out clearly in the first day’s work. “And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Before, it was all dark; now the light had come in: and the light was good, very good, whilst the darkness speaks of evil.
The passages are numerous by which it could be proved that this is the meaning of these symbolic words: that is, light always speaks of good, and darkness invariably refers to evil, either directly or indirectly. Thus, “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). Again read 2 Corinthians 4:4 (which we quote from JND Trans. as more correct): “In whom the god of this world has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, so that the radiancy of the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine forth for them.,  ... Because it is the God who spoke that out of darkness light should shine, who has shone in our hearts for the radiancy (see marginal note) of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Here is the darkness — moral and spiritual — but the light must shine brighter and brighter till in the end those in whose hearts it has shone shall appear in all the beauty and glory of Him who has shone upon them, in that heavenly city where there will be no darkness and no night, “For there shall be no night there,” for the glory of God shall lighten it, and the Lamb will be the light thereof.
In the meantime, however, there is the darkness as well as the light, the night as well as the day, the evening as well as the morning, and one must succeed the other until the light completely triumphs. It is still the night in the world’s history, though “the night is far spent and the day is at hand” (Rom. 13:12). True “the darkness is passing (not past as in the A.V.) and the true light already shines” (1 John 2:8, New Trans.); but still both are here, and in the history of each individual soul there will be many evenings before the many mornings, till the last grand morning dawn. There must be many nights before the various days of the many experiences through which God has to pass us till night be no more.
Weeping must still endure in the evening (margin) if joy (or singing) is to come in the morning (Psa. 30:5), for we are still in the veil of tears; sorrow there must be, and pain and deep grief; death is still here, and death must work in us if life is to work in others; and there is no growth, no blessing, save through the various exercises through which our Lord passes us. The valleys must be crossed before we reach the hills, and each hill leads to another valley, to lead again to a higher height of Christian joy and experience. There is no such thing as one unbroken pathway ever upward in the Christian’s experience; the most placid life (judged externally) has still its storms and its calms, its depths and its heights, its tears and its joys, its agonies as well as its ecstasies. This is God’s order in this fallen world, and he who seeks to evade the sorrows will not participate in the joys. If there be not the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, how can there be a share in the reigning?
All this, and much more, is spoken to us from the opening verses of the Bible.
What is true of the individual is also true of the world; Zion must travail before she brings forth her children; it is the barren woman, or the desolate wife, who has suffered, that brings forth the most and best children for God. There must be the travail that effects nothing (that is, darkness and night in sorrow), Isaiah 26:17-18, before the travailing where a nation is born at once (that is, light and day) Isaiah 66:8. It is thus we learn how bitter and how evil a thing it is for a soul, or a world, to have departed from God; and how exquisitely sweet it is to see the blessed light of the glory of God, which shines in all its beauty in the face of Jesus Christ, dispel and overthrow the darkness; and then to know that we are to go out from that light into the darkness no more. For though there must be at present the darkness as well as the light, the night as well as the day, yet once the light has shone upon us, it is never the same darkness as before, and the second evening and morning is an advance on the first, and so on until the glorious consummation at the end.
We are children of the light, and sons of the day (Eph. 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:5 JND), and God our Father is taking great pains with our education, for as of the light we are to share in the glories of the reign of our beloved Lord, so that all that is being worked out in us in much sorrow here, is to come out in all its value in that day, for the glory of Him who has redeemed us.
Thus these few opening verses are quite sufficient to prove our point, but there is much more. It is better to have thus portrayed before us the actual world in which we live, with its ups and downs, its sorrows and its joys, its training and its progress under the hand of God, than a world which none, save Adam and Eve for a brief moment, ever saw. If we want to see God’s world we must learn to see the world of God’s purpose, not a world which was lost in one brief moment and can never be again; the former excels the latter as much as Christ excels Adam; the difference is infinite, immeasurable, but God is working all out in His own matchless way, and in these seven days of God we see how He does it all.
All is effected by the Word of God; eight times in this first chapter we get, “And God said;” “He commanded, and it was done,” “He commanded, and it stood fast.” Yet as one has well said, the nulls of God, grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small, for He must do the work so thoroughly; and when He has finished, evil and darkness shall never raise their heads again, and the accomplished glory will be of such a character that it will never be tarnished, for it must be such that it will satisfy the heart of God the Father, and be an adequate expression (as far as God Himself can effect this) of the work and Person of God’s beloved Son, and of the agony He endured for the glory of God and the unspeakable blessing of the creature, especially of man.
EDITORS’ NOTE. — These papers are intended to be suggestive rather than dogmatic, to be stimulative of study rather than to present its final and completed results as to the detail of a subject at once so great and so seldom considered.
Beware in your prayers, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, above all that you ask or think.
Obedience is in the present tense.
It is not the bee’s touching on the flowers that gathers the honey, but her abiding for a time upon them, drawing out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most on divine truth, that will prove the choicest, strongest Christian.

Papers on Service: The Heart's Purpose

Selected
The Heart’s Purpose
I thank God I was led in anywise to think of serving the Lord. The first thing that attracted my heart from my very youth was that I must serve Him. I know very well how I have neglected it, and wavered from it; but the Lord never lets slip from you a real purpose of your heart; no matter how many years you may be, as it were, unattached, still He keeps it in mind, and as sure as possible it will come, and this is an immense comfort to one’s heart.
“Not in Vain”
Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; if you do not see souls saved today, or tomorrow, still work on. Ours is not the unrequited toil of Sisyphus rolling uphill a stone which will rebound upon us, nor that of the daughters of Danaus who sought to fill a bottomless vessel.
Our work may no more quickly appear than the islands which the coral insects are building below the blue waves of the southern seas: but the reef is rising, far down the foundation of the massive structure is laid, and its walls are climbing to the surface. We are laboring for eternity, and we count not our work by each day’s advance as men measure theirs: it is God’s work, and must be measured by His standard.
Be ye well assured that, when time, and things created, and all that oppose themselves to the Lord’s truth shall be gone, every earnest word spoken and every importunate prayer offered, and every tiny bit of service rendered for Christ’s sake, shall remain embedded in the mighty structure which God from all eternity has resolved to raise to His own honor.
The Gospel
The gospel is God’s power to save: we know that for every case of spiritual sickness we have an infallible cure; we need not say to any man “we have no good news from God for you.” There is a way of getting at all hearts. There is a joint in every sinner’s harness, though he be an Ahab, and we may draw the bow hopefully, praying the Lord to direct the arrow through it. We believe in the Holy Spirit, and feel that He can win a hearing and carry conviction to the hardest conscience.
We do not expect the gospel to be loved by all mankind, it will not become popular amongst the great and noble, for we remember the word, “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called,” but we do not believe that the gospel has become decrepit through old age. When the foolish wise men of this age sneer at the old gospel, they render an unconscious homage to its power. We do not believe that our grand old castle and defense has tottered down because men say it is so. We recollect Rabshakeh, and how he reviled the Lord, and how, nevertheless, it happened to him as the Lord said: “He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there.... By the way that he came, by the same shall he return.” We have seen enough philosophies go back to “vile dust from whence they sprang,” to know that the whole species of them is of the order of Jonah’s gourd. We therefore in confidence wait, and in patience bide our time. Victory is sure.
Power
Power is the ability to act rightly, at any moment in any case. Faith in God always ensures power, and then we act for Him, irrespective of men and their judgment.
Power is never violent; mere strength can be very violent and impulsive, but power is even and equal to the occasion, be it great or small.
Samuel, more than any of the judges in Israel, was a man of power, for he availed himself of the power of God by prayer; he is an example to us. As we pray, we have power with God; so the man of prayer is the man of power. Great, glorious, and most blessed is it to be going through this world in the power of Christ, unswerving in pursuit of our service, and unruffled in our manner, however aggravated. Encompassed with infirmity, and assailed on every side, but made equal to every emergency by His grace and power.
I have noticed, too, that if God’s power comes to a man with a message, he not only has childlikeness of mind, but he has also singleness of eye. Such a man is all ear. He honestly and eagerly desires to know what God’s mind is, and he applies all his faculties to the reception of the divine communication. As he drinks in the sacred message with a complete surrender of soul, he is resolved to give it out with the entire concentration of his mental and spiritual powers, and with a single eye to the glory of God. Unless you have but one eye, and that one eye sees Christ and His glory in the salvation of men, God will not use you. The man whose eyes cannot look straight on must not be reckoned as a servant of the living God.
True Faith
True faith will make us independent of man. The man who believes in God, in Christ, in the Holy Spirit, will stay himself upon the Lord alone. He does not wish to be solitary, or singular, yet he can by himself contend for his Master; and when he has most human helps, he sedulously endeavors to wait only upon God. If you lean upon your helpers when you have them, you may have to realize the terrible meaning, of the ancient word “cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” Let those that have zealous helpers be as those that have none, but let us be as free of all carnal confidence, as if we stood like Athanasius against the world, and had no one to speak a good word for us, or to bear a portion of our burden. God alone suffices to bear up you unpillared firmament. He alone balances the clouds, and upbears them in the heavens. He kindles the lamps of night and gives the sun his flames of fire. He alone is sufficient for us, in His might we shall do His work.
Further, true faith gives us courage under all circumstances. When young Nelson came home from a bird-nesting expedition, his aunt chided him for being out so far into the night, and remarked “I wonder fear did not make you come home.” “Fear,” said Nelson “I don’t know him.” That is a fitting speech for a believer when working the work of the Lord. The Lord is on our side, whom shall we fear? If God be for us, who can be against us?
The Hidden Springs
We must eliminate from our minds and hearts the thought of the quantity rather than the quality of service; one man may be able to accomplish more, and in the eyes of the world altogether overshadow another, but God will go down to the heart and there take cognizance of the motives. Passing through all outside show and to the depths of the soul, and finding it in harmony with Himself, He speaks His approbation, and gives His “well done.”
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Taking Men Alive
Every man in the world is going to be “taken alive” by someone; this is evident from two passages of scripture. The Greek word zogreo, which means “to take alive,” is used twice in the New Testament: First in Luke 5:10, where the Lord proposes that those who follow Him should “take men alive” for Himself; and again in 2 Timothy 2:26, where we are told that some are “taken alive” by the Devil at his will. How solemn a consideration is this, for this catching alive is going on unceasingly, and men are being caught either in the gospel net for the kingdom and joy of the Lord, or by the snares of the Devil for the eternal darkness of hell.

Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians

Edward Cross
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
For ye are our glory and joy.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13-14
Seeing then that it was God who was calling them, it was His word they heard and not the word of men. The emphasis lies not on what they heard, but on the source and authority of it; and so the apostle says, “having received the word of the report of God by us [that is, the word which we preached to you], ye accepted, not men’s word, but, even as it is truly, God’s word, which also works [is operative] in you who believe” (New Translation). Similarly “the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth” (Jonah 3:5). The word they heard was not to them the word of the prophet merely, but the Word of God.
Moreover, with these Thessalonians as with the Ninevites, it displayed its own energy as the Word of God in their souls: it became operative through faith, as was evidenced by their enduring sufferings at the hands of their own countrymen, even as the churches of Judea did from the Jews.
1 Thessalonians 2:15-16.
These latter were at the time the most pronounced foes of Christianity. From the beginning of their history the category of their crimes had been terrible, and the judgments that had befallen them from the hand of God in consequence had been exemplary. This list had been immeasurably increased and their character still further emphasized by their conduct in recent times, as the apostle says: “[they] have both slain the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and have driven us out by persecution, and do not please God, and are against all men” (New Translation); while their blindness is completed in their “forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway.”
By the title “Lord,” which he uses here, he enhances their guilt, and sets the heinousness of their sin in the strongest light: by the word “alway” he shows the unbroken, unchanging character of their conduct through all time, from the beginning of their history right on. (Compare Deut. 1:26; Deut. 9:24; Acts 7:51).
An unbelieving people from the beginning, they had been visited in the government of God with varying judgments from time to time; but now wrath had fallen on them to the uttermost. In a few years — some fifteen from then — destruction and misery were to overtake the nation, their city was to be demolished and themselves scattered over the face of the earth, as they are to this day, awaiting the still more crucial troubles that shall befall them in “the latter days.” Then will be “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), when the crisis of their unbelieving history will have arrived, and the final wrath of God will be culminated in them.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-18
In what touching words the apostle here describes his emotions. Feeling the bereavement of separation from ‘them for a little moment in person, not in heart, through circumstances over which he had no control, his longing was the more increased to see them “with much desire;” and once and again he essayed to do so, but — and the reason he gives for his failing to do so is remarkable — “Satan hindered us.”
Who, in the face of such words, can question the actuality and personality of this mysterious power? Satan, the evil spirit, the adversary, by whatever agencies or means he acted, was the hindering power to oppose the purposes of God for the comfort and blessing of the saints through the personal ministry of the apostle. This opposing power is ceaseless and varied in the forms in which it manifests itself, but it is specially signalized as Satan’s to these souls newly converted from its thralldom (Cf. Job 1:6; Zech. 3:2; Rev. 12:7-9).
“Satan hindered”: what the means were which he used is not revealed. Nor is the mystery of the existence of this power cleared up for the curiosity of “fleshly minds” “intruding into” things not made known (Col. 2:18). But the existence and personality of this power, and its direct and ceaseless opposition to God with the desire to thwart His purposes, are put beyond all doubt by the Scripture record: while its constant rebellion against the will of God — the proud will of the creature against the Creator (1 Tim. 3:6) — and its final and complete overthrow, is the uniform theme of Scripture from Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 He is called “the god of this world” — this “age” (2 Cor. 4:4), and “the prince of this world” (John 12:31): and seeing that Scripture constantly attributes to him such authoritative power (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13; Eph. 2:2), it would be folly indeed to treat lightly, or fancifully, so real and so terrible an enemy both of God and man.
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
From all this how naturally and simply the apostle’s mind turns to the time when no power of the disturber will be there to hinder in a brighter scene, in the presence of the Lord Jesus at His coming, the fulfillment of his desire, which will in due course be realized, even though it be postponed till then.
And with that thought a new element is introduced into the character of “that day.” In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, it is connected with the coming of the Son of God, and the deliverance He will then accomplish for His people: here he is concerned with the fact that He will gather them all together into the joy of His presence. The delivered ones will be united with those who have been instrumental in their deliverance, each to increase the other’s joy.
And how surpassingly true this will be of Him, of whom primarily and preeminently it is written, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing His sheaves with Him” (Psa. 126:6).
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” In this same spirit sang Samuel Rutherford:
“Oh! if one soul from Anworth
Meet me at God’s right hand,
My heaven will be’ two heavens
In Immanuel’s land.”
May we, too, take fresh courage, and remember the words of the apostle: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: No. 2

H. Nunnerley
Paper No. 2
We have already considered:
(1) Full atonement effected, and God glorified in His holiness, at Calvary.
(2) Christ’s nature and perfections there manifested.
We will now briefly look at the death of Christ as the revelation of God’s love in its fullness, and as meeting man in regard to his sins.
Who can fathom the heights and depths of those wonderful words — God so loved... that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16)?
So loved! He “so loved” His creature, His fallen, ruined, sinful creature, that He gave the very best gift of heaven. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In this was manifested the love of God toward us. The love was always in God’s heart, Christ’s death did not put it there, nor did His sufferings alter God’s feelings toward this world, but they were the expression of that love in all its fullness. God spared not His Son, because He would spare us. God gave His Son to suffer for sins, because He wanted us near to Himself. He died to bring us to God — to God’s heart of love now, hereafter to God’s home of peace and love forever.
This love of God is holy, compassionate, forgiving and spontaneous. Its holy character is seen in Christ’s suffering for sin; its compassion, in giving Him for helpless, undone sinners; its forgiving nature, in its being shown toward His enemies; and its spontaneity, in that it was the outcome of His essential nature and being — unsought, unasked, by those who are its objects. God is love. The cross, the death of Christ, declares this as nothing else: there God is made known.
The Father sent the Son.
The Son, through “the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot” (Heb. 9:14).
The whole Trinity was deeply, intensely concerned, and each Person therein had a part in this great work. God was never really known in love or holiness until the cross. Now, His intrinsic being has been revealed; Christ’s death has brought to light His love — boundless, causeless, matchless, eternal.
“Love that no tongue can teach,
Love that no thought can reach,
No love like His.”
This love of God is a holy love: God is “light” as well as “love”. The cross shows how mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. That which light demanded, love provided; the righteous claims of light were met by the gracious provision of love.
Love was fully expressed when God gave His well-beloved; holiness fully manifested, when He hid His face from Him, whom He “made sin” for us.
These heavenly wonders, these divine mysteries, these apparent contradictions, these stumbling-blocks to the subtle reasoner, are the joy and delight of the believer. In them he discovers God revealed as He truly is, and in that revelation he learns how God can be just and the Justifier, and that not only is the love of God fully declared, but that God, thus revealed in love, maintains His holy, righteous character.
But, further, the death of Christ is also God’s perfect provision for sinful man. In part we have already considered this wondrous death on the side of atonement, but let us examine a little more closely the two-fold aspect of the sacrifice of Christ as it is presented in Leviticus. 16. In verse 15 of the chapter we read how the blood of the bullock and the goat were carried into the holy of holies by the high priest, veiled in a cloud of incense, thus offering typically a propitiatory sacrifice to the outraged majesty of Jehovah. So Christ in His death removed the dishonor brought upon God by His sinful creature, man, and glorified God as God, in all that pertained to His rights as Creator, and His claims as the Governor of the universe, as well as in the essential attributes of His being.
This aspect of the work of Christ is Godward (though man be in view, see verse 16); it is therefore of supreme importance. The throne must be propitiated ere the sinner can be pardoned; nor does it follow, of necessity, that pardon is involved in propitiation. Thousands refuse to bow to Christ, and ignore God’s commands to repent and believe the gospel, but this in no way alters the value of Christ’s death God-ward. At the cross, God was fully glorified in His nature and in all His attributes by One able to take account of all that sin was as affecting the throne of God and to meet the utmost requirements of that throne in respect of sin. This He has done God has been glorified as to the whole question of sin, and His throne propitiated, and He who did it is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Founded on this, flowing out from it, and connected with it, though distinct in aspect, is another side of the death of Christ, which is typified in the second goat of Leviticus 16:10. Here we learn that the same work which has glorified God inside the Holiest, also atones for man’s guilt, and is a righteous basis on which God can justify the ungodly sinner outside.
Picture that second goat standing with’ the hands of the high priest on its head: listen! he is confessing Israel’s sins — all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins — and thus transfers their guilt to the goat: the goat becomes their substitute. Then, burdened with their transferred load, it is conducted by the hand of a “fit man” (margin “a man of opportunity”) into a land of separation, uninhabited, outside the camp, to perish (vss. 21-22).
God was thus teaching Israel that their guilt had been removed, their sins banished into a land of forgetfulness, on the head of the goat; and teaching us that Christ is the Substitute and Sin-bearer, as well as a Propitiatory, or Mercy-seat.
Rest then the eye of faith upon the holy Victim on the central cross of Calvary, and listen to the testimony of the Holy Spirit that Christ’s work on the cross is vicarious and substitutionary: “His own self bare our sins, in His own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24).
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3).
Peter tells us He took the guilty sinner’s place, and suffered in his stead; Paul also tells us “He gave Himself for our sins” (Gal. 1:4), and then adds — what I trust each one who reads these lines can add — his own personal interest in the vicarious sufferings of the Sin-bearer: “the Son of God... loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
“In my place condemned He stood
Sealed my pardon with His blood.”
Yes, every believer is entitled to say, “it was for me He suffered, for — or instead of — me He bore the judgment, drank the bitter cup, endured the hiding of God’s face. It was for me all the accumulated punishment due to my sins was concentrated upon Him on Calvary, it was for me He descended to the lower parts of the earth, went into the dark domain of death, bowed His head, gave up the ghost, and thus finished the work of substitution, propitiation and atonement.”
The just One died for the unjust ones, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, it is in virtue of His stripes that healing is ours. Those opposites, sin and Jesus, were brought together on the cross; the sinless One was made sin.
There Jesus took our sins upon Himself, answered for them, bore them, exhausted the judgment they deserved, and took them away from before God.
The sting of death is sin, the wages of sin is death: never was death’s sting so intensely known, never was death so solemnly tasted as sin’s awful wage as in the death of Jesus. Banishment from God’s presence was God’s sentence on Adam; into the deepest meaning of that banishment Christ entered, and thus made a way by which His “banished” can be brought back again, for through His work on Calvary death is now abolished and distance removed.
Nay more: of such surpassing excellence is that atoning work, so complete and perfect the removal of “sins, iniquities and transgressions,” that God can declare of every believer “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:12), — no more forever — they are removed as “far as the east is from the west,” and shall never again be “imputed,” or laid to their charge.
Calvary witnessed the true Day of Atonement; Jesus is the “man of opportunity,” God’s “fit man” for our extremity, our Substitute, our Sin-bearer. He glorified God as to sin, and also carried away our sins, burying them forever out of God’s sight; for when He rose, He rose absolutely free of both the sins and the judgment due to them. In contrast to all the types, He consumed the “fire” which fell upon Him, exhausted the judgment, and is today in heaven in all the favor of God, without one of the sins He bore on the cross, and each believer is as free of them as He is.

The Perfection of Scripture

A. Saphir
On the testimony of the Lord Jesus and the apostles I receive the Scriptures as God’s word.
Not as a critic dare I approach this Book as if it were an ordinary book, which I may hope to master and fathom. It is above me, and I cannot exhaust its fullness; it knows me, even the hidden things of the heart; it judges me, bringing me into contact with the all-seeing God.
I enter with reverence into the temple of Scripture, which from the height of God’s eternal counsel, and out of the depths of God’s infinite love, beholds and comprehends all ages, and is sufficient for the guiding and perfecting of souls in all generations.
But while I thus stand in awe, beholding the grandeur and infinite depth of the Scripture as one organic spirit built temple, I am not paralyzed by the divine perfection and infinite depth of it. Instead I feel at home and as in a peaceful and fragrant garden, for such is the love, such the perfection of God that even a child may know the Scriptures, and be made by them wise unto salvation.
And while it may be given to me in some favored moment to take a comprehensive view, and to behold somewhat the breadth, and height, and depth, I know that every word of God is pure, every name which He has revealed, every promise which He has given is perfect, and it is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.
Thus I possess the whole in a little fragment, and can say with Luther, “In Scripture every little daisy is a meadow.”
“A Little While.”
Words by Isabella Batchelor Music by L. A. Wescott
1. Only “a little while” the watch of sadness:
The dreary night. And then thebanquet
of immortal gladness: The morning bright

2. Only “a little while” the heavy burden: The troubled breast.
And then the coronet of starry radiance: The perfect rest.

3. Only “a little while” the battle dirges: The ocean’s roar.
And then the everlasting songs of victory: The stormless shore.

4. Only “a little while” the mournful partings: The wailing knells.
And then the meetings in the pearly mansions: The bridal bells.

5. Only “a little while” the icy winter: The lonely gloom.
And then the fragrance of eternal summer: The joy of home.

6. Only “a little while” the light affliction: The furnace fire.
And then the weight of glory bright exceeding: The golden lyre.

7. Only “a little while” the cruel woundings: The dangers rife.
And then the Savior’s blessed love enfoldings: The endless life.

How May Christ Become a Living Reality to the Soul? Second Series of Replies

H. D. R. Jameson
Second Series of Replies.
Answer (3)
That which makes Christ a reality to the soul is faith, for faith it is which is the evidence, or conviction, of things unseen (Heb. 11:1) and are our Lord departed from the realm of sight, He said to His disciples “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1); that is to say Christ is now, on high, an object for faith.
When, then, faith has become dimmed in the soul, and Christ no longer shines personally before the Christian, we do well to see first, whence faith is in its source, and second, what are the things which directly tend to the overthrow of that faith, and bring in darkness where light once shone.
As to the source of faith, it comes, as indeed does every good gift, from God (James 1:17 and Eph. 2:8), but mediately it becomes ours through the Word of God, for “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). This scripture relates no doubt to the first dawn of faith within the human soul; but, if that be its source, need we wonder that where there is neglect of private reading of God’s precious Word, or of tarrying in the presence of Him of whom that Word speaks, and who is Himself the Word, faith becomes dim within, and Christ seems to fade from before the vision of the careless Christian?
But to pursue the subject and take up the question of the positive hindrances to faith, it is remarkable that the epistle which is especially concerned with the subject of personal piety (1 Timothy) brings before us three well defined practical reasons for that darkness of soul which many have now to deplore. Each of the following passages brings before us that which practically means the overthrow of faith, but in connection with different causes; affecting first, the conscience; second, the heart; and third, the mind.
(1). “ Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Tim. 1:19).
The first and most effective blow at faith is struck when a good conscience is surrendered, for sin and Jesus are diametrically opposed; there is therefore no limit to the darkness which may overtake a soul when once it begins to give up the practical maintenance of a good conscience.
(2). “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10).
Here we see how departure from faith is brought about through the avenue of the heart — the lust of other things entering in. Christ must be supreme. If He be not given the first place He can no longer shine brightly before the vision of our souls, and darkness must follow. How earnestly then should we hearken to the exhortation, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”! (Prov. 4:23).
(3) “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Tim. 6:20-21).
Here the mind comes in. Man has been made in God’s image and likeness, an intelligent being, and the mind has accordingly a wonderful place in Scripture. We are not to despise it; but it is to be a mind formed by the Truth, that is, the testimony of things as they really are, which is what we get in the inspired Word. A mind, on the other hand, distracted by the ever changing theories of that which cannot truly be called science, or knowledge, for it is not the truth, is in very real danger, of which God in His goodness gives us solemn warning here, for that way lies thick darkness.
Our wisdom as Christians will most assuredly be to hearken earnestly to these divine instructions; and guarding mind, heart and conscience, to give time to daily study in His own presence of those words of spirit and life which are the food of faith; thus shall Christ Himself be, and abide, a blessed reality to our souls!
Answer (4)
W. Bramwell Dior
We may learn a lesson and receive a warning in what is recorded of one to whom Christ had ceased to be a living reality. Casting our eye on 2 Timothy 4:10, we read — “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” In this pregnant sentence we have the story of the spiritual downfall of a child of God. That he was such, we cannot doubt. In Colossians 4:14, Paul sent greetings from Demas, while in writing to Philemon he referred to him as his “fellow-laborer” (Philem. 1:24). We feel sure that he who wrote “lay hands suddenly on no man” (1 Tim. 5:22) would not have alluded in such terms to Demas, had he not at that time been a fellow-laborer in the true sense of the word. There must have been a time, we conclude, when to him Christ was a living reality, and when to serve Him was his desire. What, then, caused his declension? He “loved this present world.”
The world, we understand, is looked at in Scripture in, at least, four ways: the material earth (Acts 17:24); the people in the world (John 3:16); the world system (1 John 2:16); and the present age, or present course of things (Gal. 1:4), This last, we believe, is what is meant in the verse now under consideration. We are not told that Demas fell into gross sin, he might not be termed by others a backslider; he may have continued the outward observance of things religious, but he was affected by the spirit of the age. Instead of observing the clear line of demarcation marked out by Paul, (on account of which, we judge, he was deserted by all in Asia), Demas, it may be, thought that by compromising with the world, he could elevate his fellow-men; his presence amongst them might have a restraining influence upon them, and thus he could do more to further the interests of Christ than Paul who, bound with a chain, lay a helpless captive in prison. This reasoning sounds plausible, but God’s thoughts are not as our thoughts (Isa. 55:8).
It is written, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4); and “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
To touch pitch is to be defiled, and to go into the world, even though it be with the best intentions, is to be degraded to its level, and to be no longer of any service to Christ. Whatever was Demas’s motive when he started, once on the down grade, descent was rapid. And the last word recorded of him is that he “loved this present world.” Christ was obscured by the world; his love for Christ was eclipsed by his love for the world, his desire for Christ’s appearing was extinguished by his desire to be distinguished in the world, and his testimony was in vain.
Thus there passes from our view this erstwhile soldier, who, in the day of battle, proved false to his Lord, forsook the standard and went over to the enemy. Surely there is a reason for this sad verse being placed on the page of holy Scripture. Are we not in danger today of going in the way of Demas? The world bids for our friendship. “Come to us,” it says, “and you will do us good. Give up your puritanical notions, and adopt our ways and methods. Countenance our amusements and join in our pursuits, then will we consider your views, and religion will suit us.” The spirit of the age is to acquiesce in this semi-worldly, quasi-religious state of things, and those who do not fall in with this are considered bigoted and narrow-minded.
How many Christians have been caught in this current, and, carried out of their true course, are, so far as testimony for Christ is concerned, but useless derelicts stranded on the rocks of “this present world.”
Ere we conclude we venture to call attention to all that we are permitted to know of the close of Paul’s history as recorded in this same chapter. He who, being a man of like passions with ourselves, could write “be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1), is a pattern man. He had now reached the end of his journey. He knew that his work was finished, and that, not on account of Nero’s sentence, but because of his loved Master’s call, the supreme moment was just at hand. Let us hearken to his closing words, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
The valiant warrior put off his armor, laid aside his sword, resigned his commission into His hands from whom he had received it, and was ready to pass from the prison-house of Nero to the presence chamber of the King. He was about to step up even then, in anticipation of a day yet to come, when he should receive the “crown of righteousness” from the Lord, “the righteous Judge.” We believe this title indicates the delight the Lord will have in that day, in showing how much He appreciates the loyalty of those who, in this day are true to Him, and who love and long for His appearing.
Thus the curtain drops upon the history of one to whom Christ was a living reality from first to last. Whether in the flush of the joy of first acquaintance with Christ, or in the severe test of endurance throughout a long and chequered career, or with the prospect, as in this chapter, of early martyrdom, it was Christ, only Christ, and nothing but Christ.
May it be so with us, assured that as our eye is fixed upon, and our heart is engaged with that living Person at God’s right hand, so will He become a living reality to us; He will command our affections; He will dominate our lives; “to live unto Him who died for us, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15), will be our constant wish while to see His face will be our profound desire.
“Jesus! Thou art enough
The mind and heart to fill;
Thy patient life to calm the soul;
Thy love its fear dispel.

O fix our earnest gaze
So wholly, Lord, on Thee;
That with Thy beauty occupied,
We elsewhere none may see.”

The Mystery of God: No. 2

J. Alfred Trench
2nd Chapter
Taking up again the little company of disciples where we left them in John 20, with the Lord in the midst, we note the significant action with which, as the last Adam, a quickening Spirit, He breathes on them on that resurrection day, saying “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” This was not the Spirit actually given, as we shall see, but rather the Spirit as the power of life, to bring them into the new position of that life as it now existed in a risen Christ, a life past every question of sin, death, and the judgment of God, the power of Satan being wholly broken — “life... more abundantly,” as He had spoken of it.
But they had yet to wait for the promise of the Father, “which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For... ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” They were already associated individually with Christ as the Risen One, in all His place of life and relationship with His Father and God; but now the Holy Spirit was about to come to form them into corporate relationships, on the one hand with God as His house, as we have seen, and on the other with Christ as His body, of which there had been no word as yet in Scripture.
The One Body
Who can estimate sufficiently the momentous consequences of that wonderful Pentecost, when, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, the building of the Assembly began, and God took up His dwelling-place in it! But at the same moment those who believed were all baptized into one body by the same blessed Spirit given to them. God had thus not only carried into effect His declared purpose to dwell in and amongst His redeemed as His house; but also, all unconsciously to them, had formed them into corporate relationship with Christ. Of this latter no hint had been given in Scripture.
It was one thing that a Divine Person should thus have come down upon earth to fulfill what had been in the counsel of God from eternity: quite another that He should be pleased to reveal what He had done, that we might be brought into the intelligence of it. But it is His desire that we should know this great truth. Of what absorbing interest then it will be if we may be allowed, with bowed hearts before God, and in dependence upon divine teaching, to trace the progress of the revelation.
The martyrdom of Stephen prepared the way for this revelation, for it was the answer of the guilty nation to the last testimony God had to address to it by the Spirit, through Stephen, according to the intercession of Christ for them on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Pending the result of this testimony, the Lord Jesus is seen by His servant, standing at the right hand of God — not yet sat down. But when they stoned Stephen all was over.
It is recorded that they who stoned Stephen laid down their clothes at the feet of the young man, Saul of Tarsus, who thus became the formal witness of the last possible expression of man’s enmity against Christ in the glory of God; but God, in infinite grace, took up this same young man to be the vessel of the testimony of the last and greatest possible expression of the love of God to the man that could only hate Him. Thus it is that he speaks of himself as the chief of sinners, in whom, “chief” as he was, the whole long-suffering of God had been shown forth, “for a delineation of those about to believe on Him to life eternal” (1 Tim. 1:15, 16. New Trans.).
We all have been converted on the same principle as Saul of Tarsus: namely, that all God’s ways with the race, putting man to the proof of what was in him, are over, with the result of man’s proved irreconcilable enmity against God. And now if sovereign grace breaks down our proud wills before God in the discovery of it, and subjects our hearts to the Son of God in glory (in whom, in the judgment of the cross, the end of all flesh had been reached for God and for faith), it is that, taken up in Him as our life, righteousness, and acceptance, God may show in us to ages yet to come how far His grace could go.
The Revelation of It
But I am anticipating: Acts 9 gives us the astonishing details. Saul, true to the characteristics of his tribe, ravening as a wolf (Gen. 49:27) against the lowly men and women who dared to confess Jesus the Lord, thought to blot out the very memory of His name from the earth by dragging them to prison and to death; and “being exceedingly mad against them he persecuted them even unto strange cities,” and so was on his way “with authority and commission from the chief priests” to prosecute his deadly work at Damascus, when suddenly the arrest came. A light from heaven above the brightness of the mid-day sun shines round about him, and, fallen to the ground, he hears a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” And to Saul’s immediate question “Who art thou, Lord?” the answer is “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.”
What a revolution does this effect in his whole being! what a discovery of what man is at his best before God! With all his strict conscientiousness, earnest religiousness, and blameless outward walk, he was yet the most avowed enemy of Christ in glory the world had ever seen. But I do not dwell upon that pattern of every subsequent conversion, but call attention to the marvelous revelation contained in the words by which the Lord convicted Saul, “Why persecutest thou Me?”
What meant that “Me”? It meant that the persecuted saints were every one of them united to Christ in glory by the Spirit who dwelt in them: they were members of His Body, that which He accounts to be Himself, even as He had become their life. There had been nothing like this before. The assembly had been formed into this relationship at Pentecost, but this was the first intimation of it: the whole truth of it was involved in the words that fell so strangely from heaven upon the ears of Saul. It was, in principle, the mystery, which was ever after to characterize his ministry; even as the Lord had further to say to him, “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee” (Acts 26:12-16).
The doctrine of the mystery, till now so carefully kept out of the divine communications, had yet to come fully out through Paul, the vessel raised up to be the minister of it. But when all is told, nothing can surpass what was contained in the precious words of the Lord, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” Let us put it to ourselves individually, “Have I entered into the reality of being united to the Lord in glory by the Spirit dwelling in me; and that thus I am a member of the Body of which He is Head, and of which all who are Christ’s are fellow members?” To really believe this will affect the whole current of our lives from the moment it bursts upon the soul: first, in drawing out adoring affections to Him who has taken us into such intimate union with Himself in love so inconceivable; then in all my relations with my fellow Christians, everyone of whom is, with myself, a member of that one Body by one Spirit. Scripture, I need hardly add, knows nothing of any other body.
The Ministry of It
Let us turn then to the ministry of the apostle through whom it has pleased God to bring out this wonderful secret of eternity. It is not the subject of the Epistle to the Romans, wherein we have that which is of primary importance for our souls: how in righteousness God can take up sinners, such as we are, to justify them, and set them in Christ before Him, by His death and resurrection, and the power of the Spirit given to dwell in them. But he cannot close the epistle without letting out what was in his heart:
“Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.”
“But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets [or prophetic writings], according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:25-26).
How magnificent the outburst of it, now that it was God’s will that what had had such a deep place in His heart, but which had been hidden there throughout all the ages of earth’s history, should come out, and be made known to all nations: and that, by His commandment! Nor was it to be made known merely to enlighten and establish us, but to produce the very real subjection of our souls to the revelation; for “the obedience of faith” is what God looks for now as the only true answer to His wonderful grace.
To the Corinthians, Paul can only allude to it (1 Cor. 2:6-10), the spirit of division was amongst them. They were carnal, walking as men, and making much of their knowledge and gifts. But enough comes out in the apostle’s words to have moved any heart, as to what they were losing by their low state spiritually. There was the wisdom of God, which was not of this world nor of its leaders. Those who were in Christ in the faith of their souls, would recognize it as this. This wisdom was contained in the “mystery”, which is brought in here, not as the subject matter of revelation, but as giving its character to this hidden wisdom of God, which was “ordained before the world unto our glory”, as he does not hesitate to tell us.
And now mark the principle of it. The wisdom of God centered in the Lord of glory, whom the leaders of the world crucified. And, to bring out its characteristic blessedness into the strongest relief, the apostle quotes from the prophecy of Isaiah as to how it had been in his day: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him”. And there the quotation is too often left, whereas the apostle’s design is to contrast the present state of things with what existed in the prophet’s day, and so he adds, “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God”. So that all that had been wrapped up in the heart of God for those that love Him, unseen, unheard of by them, and never for a moment conceived of, had now come out to be the revealed and possessed portion of faith by the power of the Spirit. The inspired revelation of these blessed things of God’s own nature and counsel is alone by the Spirit, the communication of them is in words that He alone could teach, and our reception of them is as equally and absolutely by that same blessed Spirit (verses 10-14).
Oh! how incalculable the loss, if our state is such that the power and the blessedness of such a revelation of God’s wisdom in the mystery is hindered! Yet so intimately does the truth contained in it affect the practical walk of the saints in their relations with one another, that when the apostle comes to this latter subject in Romans, and much more fully in 1 Corinthians, he cannot but bring in what flows from union with Christ by the Holy Spirit according to the mystery. I refer to Romans 12:4, 5, and 1 Corinthians 12. But he does not there enter into any development of those counsels of God for the glory of Christ, which give the mystery its full blessed character. For this we must go to the Epistle to the Ephesians.
“Look well to your integrity, and leave your prosperity to the Lord.”

Tribulation

“We glory in tribulations also” (Rom. 5:3).
It would be impossible to glory in tribulation were it not (1) for the knowledge of the object in view, and (2) the experience of the power of the love of God which sustains the soul while passing through the trial.
It is with us as though a gifted sculptor carried to his studio a block of marble, and began to chip away at it with mallet and chisel. If the marble were endowed with feeling and speech, we can understand it saying, “I do not like this constant chipping.”
But the artist replies “Let me show you what my intentions with regard to you are;” and setting before that rough and shapeless block the model that is in his mind, the creation of his consummate genius, he says, “See, you are to be exactly like that, that is my purpose for you, and the chipping from which you shrink is the only way in which it can be brought about.”
Then replies the marble, “I will endure the tribulation,” and at each blow is henceforth able to say “That brings me so much nearer the master’s design for me.”
We have been predestinated to be “conformed to the image of God’s Son” (Rom. 8:29).
Fellow Christians, this is God’s great design for us. To be like the risen Christ, like Him in thought and ways and spirit and body. Nothing less will suit the matchless love of our God.
This glorious purpose is set before our souls, and as we behold it, God would have us say “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28). We have been called according to this wonderful purpose, and the chipping of the chisel of the great Master Sculptor is to bring us into moral conformity to Christ now, as we shall be actually when He comes.
It is when this is before our souls that we can glory in tribulation, and say as we feel each blow, so unpleasant to nature, “Thank God! This is but to bring us so much nearer the perfect Model, and to free us a little further of the ways of the flesh.”
But while the hand of our God applies the chisel, He stands very close, so to speak, to the marble, and makes us realize by blessed experience what the power of His love is which can sustain us in all trial, and in this way we gain in the knowledge of God, as we could not apart from the testing: this experience is blessed compensation and fills the soul with a hope that cannot fail.
“If ye endure chastening” (Heb. 12:7).
There are three ways in which we may act under the chastening hand of God our Father. We may despise it, say perhaps “Oh, such things will and must happen;” or we may faint under it — become depressed and begin to doubt the love of God. Or we may be sustained by the grace of the One whose love sees the necessity of the chastening, and in consequence glorify Him.
There are three birds, which each act differently in a rain storm. The duck, which is altogether indifferent to it — it despises it; the hen, which is then the most miserable object imaginable — it faints under it; and the robin, which sings its sweetest note when the storm rages. We are like one of the three; if like the duck or the hen, then the devil has the advantage over us, but if like the robin, then we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. It is faith — true, constant, living faith in Him, that can sing “All, all is well” even in days of storm and sorrow.

Resurrection: No. 1 - The Key to the Position

F. B. Hole
No. 1. — The Key to the Position
When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he was about to depart from the field of battle, and enter upon the bliss of being with Christ. He had been in the thickest of the fight, and now the tide of conflict was beginning to run against him: the adversaries were growing bolder, and many a deserter was leaving the ranks; yet his words breathe forth a dauntless courage and supreme confidence in the great Captain, who will ultimately lead His forces to victory.
But the very fact of the aged warrior, Paul, laying down his armor, must only make the young man, Timothy, gird his the more tightly on, and prepare himself to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). He is to “stir up the gift of God” which is in him. He is not to be “ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,” but rather to be a “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:6, 8).
The mighty adversary in the conflict is a foe of sleepless vigilance and consummate skill. Every military commander of outstanding genius has been marked by two things: first, he was able to quickly locate the exact spot in the enemy’s defense which was the key to his position: second, he was able so to manipulate his own forces as to make that point his objective, and sooner or later deliver a crushing blow there. We may be sure, therefore, that Satan, the secret energizer of all man’s opposition to God, has from the beginning, and all along the line, been aiming his blows at that which is at the very heart of the truth of Christianity.
Let us glance at the epistle itself that like Paul we may not be “ignorant of his devices.”
2 Timothy 1:1-10. The apostle encourages Timothy by lifting the eye of his soul from himself, and even from the field of conflict below, to GOD, and to those purposes of His ‘which shall never fall to the ground, since they find their place of undisturbed repose “IN CHRIST JESUS,” and further by reminding him that in spite of apparent defeat, victory is sure, for the great Commander Himself, “our Savior Jesus Christ,” has already, single handed, achieved it. He “hath abolished [or ‘annulled’] death, and hath brought life and immortality [or incorruptibility’] to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).
What an inspiration this is!
2 Timothy 1:11-18. Having breathed in fresh life and energy, Timothy is bidden to calmly view the actual position of the conflict as committed to the saints of God below. How dark the picture! Paul, lying in a Roman dungeon with martyrdom before him; “all they which are in Asia” — his own converts, including those at Ephesus, the capital of that province, where much of his finest work was done — had turned away from him: it may have been to run eagerly after new teachers, who were already developing the deadly theories known afterward as “gnosticism,” so that even the “form of sound words” was in danger of being given up.
2 Timothy 2:1-6. Here are given the qualities required in the good soldier of Jesus Christ. Danger and the rolling tide of disaster must only stiffen his back. “Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” He needs the faithfulness of a witness, the endurance and devotion of a soldier, the obedience of the athlete, the patience of the farmer.
2 Timothy 2:7-19. Having brought Timothy thus far, the apostle now discloses to him the great key to the Christian position against which all the enemy’s assaults are delivered. Verse 7 is a preface showing the deep importance of it. Verse 8, containing the disclosure, is poorly translated in the A.V. The R.V. is better — “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel.”
CHRIST RISEN is the key.
If we may paraphrase the apostle’s inspired words, it was as though he said, “My gospel presents to you Jesus Christ in two ways, as incarnate upon earth, come of the seed of David, and as risen from the dead. Maintain both; but since you are not Israelites, but Christians, risen from the dead’ comes first as of paramount importance to you; let go that and the day is lost.”
Already Satan’s forces, led by Hymenæus and Philetus, were being launched against this truth (verses 17 and 18). Not that it can be really touched. Christ is risen. The foundation of God stands sure. Thanks be to Him! Yet, if forgotten or denied, the key of the position is left in the enemy’s hands, and disaster to our faith is sure.
The Corinthian believers illustrated this. They had in their midst grave immorality unrebuked (chap. 5.); party spirit was rampant amongst them (chap. 1.); and disorder marked their coming together to partake of the Lord’s supper (chap. 11.); but it is not until we reach chapter 15. that we find the root, in that the resurrection was being questioned in their midst! Moreover Paul immediately shows them the effect of this, not only on Christian behavior, but Christian doctrine. Read verses 13 to 19 and learn that if the resurrection of Christ be unreal, Christianity itself is dissolved like the unsubstantial fabric of a dream.
Has not all this a loud voice for us who live at the end of the Church’s conflict upon earth? Instead of being as in her first years “comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners,” she has become in her responsibility on earth an outward wreck, torn in every direction, alike the prey of enemy without and traitor within, till the poet had to write —
“With a scornful wonder
Men see her sore opprest,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distrest.”
Early in her history “Jesus Christ, risen from the dead,” faded from her memory. The thought of Him as a risen, heavenly Man was almost lost; if He was remembered it was as a babe in the arms of His virgin mother, and that only in a carnal way. Hence the Church lost her heavenly character, forgot her heavenly hope, and settled down into the corruptions of the world around.
If any revival has in these last days visited us from on high, it has been as He, the risen One, has shone as the Morning Star into our hearts.
His appearance in the midst of His disciples on the resurrection day transformed them, so that instead of huddling together like a flock of frightened sheep, they stood forth filled with the Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, as bold as lions. The faith of Himself as the risen One will do all this for us today.
Christian men and women, may this faith be ours! To have His resurrection as an article of our creed is not enough it was an article of the Church’s creed all through the dark ages. It is Jesus Christ Himself, raised from the dead, shining before the faith of our hearts, that we need.
Then hope will burn brightly, and the fort of true, God-given Christianity will be held, till those words come true with which the poet closed his verse —
“Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, ‘How long?’
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.”
“Unto the upright there ariseth perception goes along with, integrity of light in the darkness:” clearness of purpose.

Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 4 - Amos

H. P. Barker
No. 4. — Amos
Amos 1:1
“The words of Amos who was among the herdmen of Tekoa. which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.”
Amos 1:3 – Amos 2:6
Thus saith the Lord; “ For three transgressions of Damascus, ... .of Gaza, ... . of Tyrus,... of Edom, ... of Ammon,... of Moab, ... of Judah,.... of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof.”
Amos 3:1-2
“Hear the word that the Lord hath spoken against... the whole family... brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
Amos 3:7
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”
The prophecy of Amos belongs to a period when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were at the zenith of their glory. Illustrious monarchs filled their respective thrones, and during their long reigns of forty-one and fifty-two years, secured a state of prosperity for their subjects that had not been enjoyed since the palmy days of Solomon.
Worldly prosperity, however, is a transient thing at best. Of this we are reminded by the mention of the great earthquake by our prophet (see also Zech. 14:5). Perhaps nothing is better calculated to make men see the flimsiness of their greatest works than the shaking of that whereon they are all founded. But it is a lesson men are slow to learn. What are all the political plans of today, the schemes of reform and of national expansion, but the work of builders engaged upon a structure that is to be shaken to pieces before long?
In contrast to this, we (Christians) receive “a kingdom which cannot be moved” (Heb. 12:28). We are brought to that which is eternally stable, and beyond all liability to change or decay. Unless our souls are really established in the truth of this, we cannot “serve God acceptably,” for our thoughts and hopes will be largely taken up with things that belong to the earth, so soon to be shaken. If, however, we make’ our home by faith amid “those things which cannot be shaken,” we become ourselves steadfast and unmovable, abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
Amos, himself a man of Judah (an inhabitant of Tekoa), concerns himself for the most part with Israel. The rupture between the two tribes and the ten still existed, but the prophet, directed by the Spirit of God, does not confine his testimony to the tribes with which he is directly connected. His words are addressed to “the whole family” which had been brought out from Egypt (ch. 3:1). Here there is no trace of the selfishness that would consider none but those with whom we have immediate links. In spite of ruptures and dissensions, from apostolic days to the present time, the Church of God is one under His eye. There is one body, one flock, one “household of faith,” which we are to serve. Indeed, our sphere of service and testimony is wider still, for we are bidden to “do good unto all men,” and to go into “all the world” with the glad tidings, and even in our prayers to have “all men” in mind. In this way the character of the blessed God is set forth, for He desires the salvation of all (1 Tim. 2:4).
But though Amos had “the whole family” in view, his words of warning are intended specially for the house of Israel. Why then, it may be asked, does the prophecy begin with the doom of six Gentile nations? For a very cogent reason. Jehovah had said of Israel that “the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Num. 23:9). Yet Amos here presents us with a list of eight guilty nations, in which Judah and Israel are the last included, and marked out for doom, in exactly the same formula of words as are the other six. They had, by their sin, forfeited all special recognition by Jehovah. As to their state, they were even as Damascus, Philistia, and Moab before Him, and are mentioned alongside these heathen peoples in a way to reach their consciences, and stir up their remembrance of their peculiar place in God’s favor.
Special privilege carries with it special responsibility. This important principle is enforced in the prophecy before us. “You only have I known, of all the families of the earth: therefore will I punish you.” The nearer the relationship, the more serious the sin, and the more severe the punishment.
Another great principle is laid down in Amos 3, namely, that when God designs to do anything, He makes it known to His servants. This is true, whether He has blessing or judgment in view. His hidden purposes are revealed to His servants. They are honored with His confidence, and are let into His secret. It is the same with us Christians. God has been pleased to let us into the blessed secrets of His mind, and to reveal to us, for our present joy, and as subjects for our testimony, that which He will by and by display to millions of wondering eyes.
Amos 3:12
“Thus saith the Lord; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs. or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out...”
Amos 5:3-14.
“For thus saith the Lord God; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.
Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.
Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.”
Judgment, not blessing, is the theme upon which Amos dwells in the first part of his prophecy. The very fact, however, of doom being pronounced upon the guilty nation, is the occasion of reference being made to One who should deliver a remnant.
Here, surely, we trace the footsteps of Him, who is the Object of our study in these pages. He comes before us here as
The Shepherd-Deliverer
The nation, as a whole, would be given as a prey to the adversary, but a small handful would escape. Israel’s Shepherd would deliver “a piece of an ear” from the mouth of the lion, and in connection with this remnant, God’s promises would be fulfilled. There could not be even this little remnant were it not for the delivering grace and power of the Shepherd. When restored to their land and blessed with the bounty of God, they will own that they owe it all to Him. They have been in the lion’s mouth, and while multitudes have perished, they have been delivered. And Christ is the One who has done it. All praise and glory to Him.
In Amos 5 this remnant of Israel comes still more distinctly into view, a mere tithe of the whole, a hundred left out of a thousand, and ten out of a hundred. They are characterized by prudence, or wisdom, in the “evil time.” The power of oppression seals their lips, but in their hearts they hate the evil, and love the good, and they experience the goodness of the God of hosts. Thus they live before Him.
Amos 7:2-10
“... then I said, O Lord God, forgive, I beseech Thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small...
Then said I. O Lord God, cease, I beseech Thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small....
Then Amaziah the priest of Beth-el sent to Jeroboam, king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words.
Amos 8:10
“... I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son...”
In Amos 7 Amos himself becomes a type of Christ as
The Great Intercessor
The name of Amos means “Burden”, and in his measure he carried the burden of Israel’s sin and woe upon his heart, thus foreshadowing the One who did the same in a far deeper way. The prophet, acknowledging the smallness and helplessness of Jacob, beseeches God on his behalf. His prayer is effectual, but his service and testimony are rejected of men, and priest seeks the aid of king to rid their land of his presence. He was not officially a prophet, being a mere herdsman, but God was with him, and those, therefore, who rejected him were fighting against God.
All this speaks eloquently to our hearts of Christ. No graduate in the “schools of the prophets” was He. Coming of lowly birth, He was God’s messenger to Israel. He bore upon His heart the burden of the nation’s woes. Yet He was set at naught by them, despised for His lowly birth, a mere “carpenter’s son” in their eyes. Priest and king, Caiaphas and Herod, conspired to rid themselves of Him, and the cross was His award.
But He has not given up Israel forever, and in the coming day they will prove how mighty His intercession has been on their behalf. To Him they will owe the joy and blessing which will be theirs, beyond all conception, in that day. But the first results of Christ’s mighty intercession for Israel will not be joy or glory, but bitter repentance. Conscience will be awakened, and the discovery made that He whom they crucified as an impostor was their Messiah and Deliverer. The scene between Joseph and his brethren will be re-enacted upon a grander scale. Sackcloth will be upon all loins, and baldness upon every head when they thus mourn “as for an only son.”
We are reminded thus, of Christ as
Israel’s Hope —
THE ONE TO WHOM ISRAEL WILL TURN IN REPENTANCE.
What a moment it will be for Him! His love for the chosen nation has not waxed cold, and with infinite joy He will welcome them to His arms. Shall we refuse to find pleasure in the contemplation of this because we have no direct part therein? Perish the thought! The heart that loves Christ will rejoice to know that He is gratified, and that with streaming, tear-filled eyes, Israel will turn at last to her rejected Messiah.
Amos 9:1-9
“... I will slay the last of them with the swore... Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob...
“... I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.”
Amos 9:11-15
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, ... and I will build it as in the days of old.
“That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my Name, saith the Lord that doeth this.
“... the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed;...
“And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel,...
“And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.”
But the nation at large must go in judgment, “all of them”, to the very “last of them” (chap. 9.).. Only the election of grace will be preserved, and of these “not the least grain” will perish. In the midst of these preserved ones, “the tabernacle of David” will be raised up. The existing state of things under Uzziah and Jeroboam II would be ended, and God would revert to David, and secure permanency for him, and for his order of things. Here, too, our thoughts are carried off to Christ, the true David, as
The Man of God’s Counsels
Upon Him, from the beginning, God’s choice has been set. Everything here has fallen into decay, and every man that has lived has contributed to the ruin, but when the appointed time comes, that which God has purposed will be brought in and established by Christ: none but He could accomplish this. In that day, even the heathen will share in the blessing. As for Israel, they will be planted upon their land, no more to be “pulled up.” Then shall the plowman overtake the reaper, and happiness be the portion of all.
The pivot upon which all this turns is CHRIST. As we have seen, He is brought before us in Amos, (1) as Israel’s Shepherd, rescuing a remnant from the lion’s mouth; (2) as Israel’s Intercessor, beseeching God for them, that at all events some might “arise;” (3) as the One for whom Israel will mourn, and to whom their hearts will turn; (4) as the true David, who will bring in the state of blessing and peace which God has from the beginning purposed for His people.
Into all this Christianity does not enter. But there are precious lessons that Christians may learn, and it is food for our souls to contemplate Christ whether in connection with Israel, or ourselves.

The Authority of Scripture: No. 3 - Man Accountable to God

James Boyd
No. 3. — Man Accountable to God
Conscience came in by the fall. Then God said, “The man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3). This the Scriptures declare; and we know that man does possess a conscience, whatever may have been the circumstance under which he came to possess it. It is the intrinsic power by which he is able to judge of good and evil when they come before him.
It has been contended that what men call conscience is simply the result of education; but when we hear the Creator say that the ability to know good and evil made man “like one of us,” it is clear that, in the Scriptural sense of the word, education has nothing to do with the creation of such a faculty. It is not beyond being affected by education; it may be blinded, where the soul is schooled in error; benumbed also, where it has been ill-treated; but it is not the effect of education, or the result of coming under an imposed rule of life. The judgment which God passes upon actions is His own judgment, having nothing whatever to do with law, or environment, or anything external to Himself.
Man came into possession of this faculty by his disobedience. It is fallen man who has this conscience. He knows good and evil, but knows the evil as something which has power over him, and good as a thing to the possession of which he can no longer lay claim. Yet he does not like to confess this. He will say a great deal in favor of himself, a great deal in favor of man in the abstract; but he has the inward consciousness of his own imperfections. He knows that, to an extent, evil has the mastery over him; and his fellowmen he regards with distrust. To get along through the world at all, he finds it necessary to place a certain amount of confidence in his fellows, but just as little of that as will serve the end he has in view; and when that confidence is abused, although he may become very angry, he is not greatly disappointed, for it was with a certain amount of hesitation he trusted him at at all. He knows a little about himself, and from what he finds in himself he judges his neighbor; and in this he does not greatly err, for all men are alike evil.
It is not the Bible alone that tells men they are not what they ought to be (which is equivalent to saying that they are not what God made them, for if they are what God made them, they have no business to seek to be anything else), though he is there described from the tip of the leaf to the very roots of his moral being; but he has the witness in his conscience that there is a great difference between him and a perfect being. Each man is ashamed of the wicked thoughts which inhabit his own breast, though he knows very well that they are not morally worse than the thoughts of the man at his elbow. In a world of sinners he is ashamed of being a sinner, and, therefore, he makes efforts to hide the nakedness of his lamentable condition from the scrutiny of his neighbor, whose condition he knows to be no better than his own.
However unpleasant it may be, man cannot get out of his mind the thought that there must come a time for the settling of accounts, a day in which he must give account for the deeds done in the body. He is unable to shake himself free from this suspicion, for he knows that he holds his fellows accountable for their actions, as far as they affect his interests. They may plead, in extenuation of their offense, that they are just as they were made, and their actions were only the manifestations of the nature with which they were born, but he would not accept this as sufficient excuse for their transgression. He would tell them they should be different, or at least they should act differently with regard to him. Their paltry excuses would fall upon deaf ears.
But if this be so amongst men, it must be admitted that God has rights, which must be respected as well as those belonging to men. He cannot be the only one who has got no rights of any kind. I have responsibilities with regard to the throne of the kingdom of which I am a subject. Has God a throne? Are men His subjects in any sense? Does He hold them accountable? or has He thrown the reins upon the neck of humanity? If I am accountable to Him, and if He has got rights over me which I ignore, what will happen? Do I go free? Is He to receive no compensation? If so, God has practically no rights, for He is either indifferent to my trespass, or He is unable to safeguard His rights: I trespass upon them with impunity; offense exists only in name, and there is no righteousness.
Do not tell me that men are punished for their offenses in the present life, and that there can be nothing after death in the way of stripes for sin, for suffering in the present life is not always the effect of sin committed by the one who suffers. Men are born cripples, blind, deaf, idiotic; how have these transgressed? The transgressor often goes through life without the least mishap. When, and in what way, does the punishment of such take place? How is the man to be punished who has wronged, hated, cursed, insulted, and robbed his neighbor? and how is he to be punished who has given all this back with interest?
The self-respect of a man will often keep him from loose company, but he will not allow that his Creator has any partiality for the pure in heart, more than for the abominable. Man hates the good and loves the evil, and in spite of his self-respect, his actions prove his preference for the latter; but he has a conscience which approves the good that he hates, and condemns the evil that he loves; and yet if both are alike to God, what right have I, who am His creature, to make any distinction? Good is evil, and evil good; right is wrong, and wrong right; filthiness is purity, and purity filthiness: this must be so if everything is alike to God.
The principle of accountability is found all the world over, however men may seek to shirk it. If I trespass upon my neighbor, he will very quickly let me know that I cannot do this with impunity. I may have a desire to trespass upon his property, to appropriate for my own use that which he claims as his. He does not excuse in me the covetous spirit which possesses me. He will tell me that I have no right to that which he has inherited, or purchased with the sweat of his brow, or bought with his money; and though the selfish spirit in others might not much object to see him defrauded, they must, in order to safeguard themselves, acknowledge the righteousness of his claim.
How is it that the intelligent creation has been placed upon these moral foundations? Are we to be taught nothing regarding God by all this? How and why is it, that such a principle is found in the minds of men? Why have we been set in relationship with one another, so that such obligations exist? The thought of righteousness, truth, love and peace is found in the hearts of men, and they are the principles upon which relationships with one another are established. Why is this? Could not another order of things have been established, where such principles would have been unknown?
That these principles have been founded is enough for me. I know no relationship which does not carry with it responsibilities. Has man no relationship with God? If not, he is nothing but a beast. He may be the cleverest beast there is, but he is nothing more if he has no link with God. That which elevates man above the brute creation is his link with God. Put aside the idea of accountability to God, and you have degraded him to the level of the brute creation. His cleverness does not give him any moral pre-eminence. He may be the most clever and inventive of all the brute creation; and when you have said that, you have said all that can be said if he has no responsibility to God. This is how man dishonors himself when he casts off God. This is where he brings himself by his infidelity. And yet, were he injured by a beast, you would not find him saying it had no right so to act. He does not after all connect the thought of responsibility with the other beasts which are less clever than he is.
In this world men, who have themselves no honorable distinction, boast of their connection with those who have. Like certain planets, their glory is derived from the orb to which they are attached; having no glory of their own, they attract no attention once they are robbed of their connection with their brilliant center. It is so with man, whose dignity consists in his having to say to God. It is because of this he has been formed to walk erect, and lift up his head to heaven, in contrast with the beast who looks downward into the earth, from whence he sprang and into which he sinks again. Man became a living soul by the inbreathing of God; and this returns to God who gave it; not so the beast, which was made a living soul by the fiat of God, and whose spirit, as well as his body, goes back to the earth again (Eccl. 3:21).
The Scriptures tell us it was this abandonment of God on the part of man that brought all the evil into the world at the beginning. That he has proved himself to be very clever and inventive is unquestionable, but he has used his cleverness to set himself up in independence of God. He has built up and embellished a world for his own glory and the gratification of corrupt fallen nature, and the door of which he has carefully bolted against the knowledge of God. Moralists are not wanting either, for people have consciences and wants, and fears for the future which require to be set somehow at rest. We are told that all will come right in the end; good will be the final goal for all; man is at present building his own heaven, or scooping out his own hell by his works; and after all, misery is not eternal, for the sinner must be given chance after chance, either in the present life or in some other undefined existence, until in the end he reaches perfection.
This is the human mind gone stark mad. It is against all reason and experience, leaving Scripture out of the question. It is the downgrade with most people in, the present life. A child is more free from guile, hypocrisy, deceit, envy, and every kind of wickedness, than a grown person. All experience goes to prove that there will always be the downward tendency unless some powerful intervention outside man himself comes in to stay it. The child, as I have said, is more innocent of evil than the adult. I do not say the tree is different in old age from what it was in its youth, for trees do not change their nature. The nature of a man is the same in an infant as it is in a centenarian, but the development of that nature means an evil life. There is no upward tendency; it is all downward. Give a man another chance, and will he do any better? His past experience will not help him, for every man knows that the way of transgressors is hard, and that satisfaction is not found in the fulfillment of the lusts of the flesh; but the lusts of the flesh they will fulfill, even at the risk of eternal damnation. No danger is a sufficient deterrent in the pathway of lust. I do not mean lust in any unclean sense, but the desires of the carnal appetite. And is there no one, and nothing, with ability to throw light upon all this confusion and unspeakable tangle of discordant ideas? Is there nothing which can put everything in its proper place, so that we may come to know the whole truth of the matter? What is there under the sun which can solve for us the problem of life? What about death — its gloom, horror, silence? Will the dead come forth again? Must we give account to God? What is the disposition of Him to whom I am responsible? What is His nature? Is He hard, unkind, cruel, envious, careless as to my happiness or misery? Is He like men, as I know men? Who can answer these questions to the satisfaction of my heart? The Bible, and the Bible alone, comes to my rescue in the midst of the surrounding gloom, and sets sin, death, judgment, God and man, heaven and hell, paradise and perdition, before me in their true light, and my darkness is dispelled, and worship fills my soul.
Bible Reading
A man tells me that he reads the Bible through once every year. I reply, no man can read the Bible through. This he can do literally, measurably, externally; he can utter articulately and distinctly every word in the Bible, but he has not read the Bible through. It has no “through.” It grows as it is read; it turns the reader back again; he cannot read the twenty-third Psalm without turning back to see what the twenty-second says; and when he has found “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” he can get into the twenty-third, which says “The Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want.” The Bible calls for recapitulation, review, another study of the last page; and so it lures its readers on by sending them back, that they may not drop a single ear of corn which they have gleaned in the field of revelation.
Prayer
That time is never wasted in which a man stays to pray before he goes to work.
“I Will Fear No Evil.”
A mother one morning gave her two little ones books and toys to amuse them, while she went to attend to some work in an upper room. Half an hour passed quietly, and then a timid voice at the foot of the stairs called out, “Mamma, are you there?”
“Yes, darling.”
“All right, then;” and the child went back to its play.
By and by the question was repeated, “Mamma, are you there?”
“Yes.”
“All right, then;” and the little ones reassured of their mother’s presence, again returned to their toys.
Thus we, God’s little ones, in doubt and loneliness sometimes, look up and ask, “My Father, art Thou there?” and when there comes in answer the assurance of His presence, our hearts are quieted.

Answers to Correspondents

Manna — The Omer
Just as no house in Egypt was too big for the lamb — setting before us the sufficiency of Christ’s death to meet our lost and ruined and sinful condition — so no man’s eating was too great for an omer of manna (Ex. 16-18) i.e., the life of Jesus, what He is in Himself, as expressed in His life of dependence on earth, is sufficient to feed, sustain, and satisfy the greatest desires of the new life. That one omer was also laid up before the Lord, would signify that He is also all-sufficient for the satisfaction and delight of God (Ex. 16:33).
Baptism
R.J.R. asks several questions as to Baptism. To these we offer reply as follows: —
The “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 is Christian baptism, and stands in connection with “one faith” and “one Lord.”
Christian baptism is by water (Acts 8:36-38), in the light of God fully revealed (Father, Son and Holy Spirit, of Matt. 28:19), and is unto Christ as Lord. It is both an ordinance (that is, an authoritative instruction) and a privilege.
Israel was baptized in the cloud and in the sea to Moses (1 Cor. 10:2): Christians are baptized to Christ, who is the Antitype of what Moses was as the deliverer of God’s earthly people. Read Romans 6:2 and Gal. 3:27, where “into” should properly be read “unto”.
In the examples referred to (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 19:5) the record does not assume to state the whole formula of words used on the occasion of each baptism, but singles out for attention that which was distinctive, that is, the name of the One who had just been rejected and crucified, but whom God had exalted, and in connection with whom alone was any place of refuge and safety opened out to the guilty and the lost.
As to the most correct formula to be used, the expressions found in the Acts are really involved in the words given in Matthew 28:19 (that scripture, be it noted, does not limit the formula used to only the words there given), but we think Scripture supposes that definite recognition in baptism of the Christian place in subjection to the Lord, which is so explicitly conveyed in the expressions used in Acts. This would mean baptism “unto the Lord Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” We may remark that the closing verses of Matthew 28 do not contemplate the disciples in exactly the distinctively Christian relationship, but, in their scope, reach out so as to include evangelizing by the believing Jewish remnant in a coming day.
Ephesians 4:5 does not allude to baptism “with the Holy Ghost.” This latter must not be confounded with our individually receiving the Holy Spirit of promise, who comes to indwell each of those who have believed the gospel (Eph. 1:13).
Baptism with the Holy Spirit is (in this dispensation) spoken of in relation to that which is collective. The expression is used firstly as to what occurred on the day of Pentecost, when the “one Body” was formed — though the truth of it was not revealed until later — (Acts 1:5; 1 Cor. 12:13), and secondly, as to the distinctive bringing in of the Gentiles, so that they might be of the “same Body” (Acts 11:16 and Eph. 3:6).
Baptism by or with the Spirit (for it is the same word) was thus initiatory to the Church’s collective relationship to Christ as His Body. This is not repeated, and as we come individually to believe in Christ, and individually receive the Spirit, we find that we come into a wonderful collective relationship with Christ as His body, the assembly, which was formed long ago by baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Baptism by water on the other hand is entirely individual, and is initiatory to the Christian position as bearing Christ’s name; in it we each one become identified with the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ — “as many... as have been baptized into [or unto’] Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
John 5:21
T.M. — “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. — We do not think what is here said as to the Father refers to” His work in souls in Old Testament times. “In the first place “raising” the dead is not a work in the soul, and secondly, we do not think there is any point of time in the passage at all. The statements are characteristic. What is true of the Father, as to the essentially divine power here spoken of, is true also of the Son, who is co-equal with the Father, and exercises quickening power in respect of “whom He will,” albeit taking the place in manhood of a recipient, even as to that which belongs to Him in His own proper rights as a divine Person (see the connection of the statements in this verse with those in the two verses preceding).
Verbal Inspiration
R. — We do not see any difficulty as to “verbal inspiration” in the fact that in what seem to be identical addresses, Matthew should use the term “Kingdom of Heaven,” and Luke “Kingdom of God.”
During the three years that the Lord spent with His disciples, He must have instructed them, not only as to that character of the Kingdom which Matthew presents to us, but also in that which is peculiar to Luke. And as much of what the Lord said, and did, is not recorded at all, we judge that what seem to be identical utterances are not so.
When the Holy Spirit inspired these writers to pen their gospels, He controlled their thoughts, and brought to their minds just those words of the Lord, which are in perfect keeping with that presentation of Christ, which it was their part to portray. Thus all is in beautiful order, and divine inspiration is evidenced at every step.
NOTE. — The tune to Missionary Hymn published last month on page 70, is, as is there stated, No. 723 in the old editions of the Bristol Tune Book, but it should be added that in the new edition of that book the tune referred to is No. 742.

"Thou Remainest"

“Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever” (Lam. 5:17).
Forever Thou remainest — Thou whose name
Is Alpha and Omega, First and Last,
Jehovah — Jesus, changelessly the same
In future, present, past.

Amid the rolling years of changing time,
The shifting sands upon the ocean shore,
The coming and the passing, how sublime
This thought — for evermore!
“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

Communion, Worship, and Service

Charles Hickman
John 12
John 12:1-8.
“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.
“There they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.
“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
“Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray Him,
“Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
“This He said, not that Hhe cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
“Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this.
“For the poor always ye have with you; but Me ye have not always.”
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The home at Bethany was always a place of rest and comfort for the Lord, and in this chapter we see the whole family that He loved so well contributing to His joy; Lazarus sat at the table with Him — a figure of communion, Mary anointed His feet with ointment — a figure of worship, while Martha served. These three things — communion, worship and service, go to make up the present privileges of every Christian.
Communion stands first, and is the spring from whence worship and service flow; moreover it is this that the Lord particularly desires. He is not satisfied with the hope of having us with Him in heaven presently; He wants our company now. This is strikingly proved by His tender appeal to the Laodicean church, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Do we desire His company as He desires ours?
It is impossible for us to have communion with Christ, if we are walking in a way that grieves the Holy Spirit. We need to judge ourselves in what may seem little things. In the Song of Solomon we read: “Take us the foxes,” but it does not stop there, “the little foxes that spoil the vines.” I will call your attention to one or two little foxes that spoil the vine of communion. The first shall be — spiritual sloth. Diligence has a large place in the Word of God. It is the diligent soul that shall be made fat, and apart from spiritual diligence you cannot know very much about communion with the Lord.
Another little fox is neglect of prayer. It would be a very interesting thing for each of us to see how much time we spend in prayer. There is no such thing as maintaining communion apart from a prayerful spirit. It is good to live in the spirit of prayer. You can pray while walking down the street — you can pray while at your business, but never neglect to spend time alone with the Lord.
Another little fox that spoils the vine of communion is anxiety. It is impossible to have communion if weighed down by a load of care. Hence it is written “Cast [or roll] thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee” (Psa. 55:22). The Lord wants us to roll every care upon Him, so that our hearts shall be free for communion with Himself.
There is another fox, and it is very little, for it creeps in so easily. It is worldliness. You cannot walk with Christ and the world at the same time. Remember the prayer of the Lord Jesus in reference to His disciples: — “ I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth “ (John 17:15-17).
The world has rejected and murdered the Lord Jesus, and if our hearts are true to Him we shall not desire its favors.
If you go on in the spirit, and with the pursuits, of the world that murdered your Savior, you will not know the joy of communion with Him.
Now let us consider the case of Mary. We read:
“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.”
Elsewhere we read that “Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word” (Luke 10:39). At the feet of the Lord Jesus she had learned something of His perfections, and her soul was filled with adoration. In the intelligence gained in His company of what was suitable, she took the box of ointment at that hour preceding the Lord’s death and anointed the feet of Jesus.
I do not think that, Mary was a rich person; if she had been rich, the Holy Spirit would not, I judge, have spoken of the ointment in the way He did. I am under the impression it took all the money she possessed to purchase it. She would say “Christ is worthy of everything,” and she expended her all upon Him. Judas said the ointment was worth three hundred pence. But I would rather have the statement of the Holy Spirit: He said it was “very costly.” Her appreciation of Christ was precious to God. We are told that the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. This is a true figure of worship flowing out from a heart filled with love to Christ, and it is very fragrant to God, and precious to Christ, and no higher privilege could we have than this; but there must be communion if there is to be worship. Do not try to reverse the order. First communion: you walk in His company; then as the heart is filled with His beauty, there is the outflow of worship to Him.
In Martha we see intelligent and loving service. If you look at the narrative in Luke 10 you find failure there: she was cumbered with her service. But in John 12 there is no failure. Lazarus was right, Mary was right, and Martha was right: each was right because Christ had His rightful position — He was the supreme object of each. I make bold to ‘say, that Martha was as right in her service, as Lazarus in his communion, or Mary in her worship. Love always wishes to serve its object. If I saw a person who did not wish to serve one whom he professed to love, I should say the love was not real. And how great is the privilege of serving Christ in the scene of His rejection! In heaven everyone owns the Lord Jesus; mightiest spirits fly upon lightning wings to carry out His commands. But in the world, where He is despised and rejected, we have now the honor of owning Him as Lord, and of doing His pleasure. You may feel that your service is poor and feeble, but if it springs from love to and communion with Him He greatly appreciates it.
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The Sphere of Service
The true homeland of the Church is “in Christ Jesus,” and all who know Him not, whether at home or abroad, are the one great outland,’ which is the field of gospel work. We must preach Christ to all, for to their need of Him there is no exception, and to His power to save there is no limit.
The presentation of Christ to all is our supreme business. This was placed beyond question by His parting charge, to go into all the world, and to preach the gospel to every creature. Through all these centuries the charge has come down to the present generation, telling of a purpose and desire still existent in the heart of our ascended Lord.

"Things That Please Him"

H. D. R. Jameson
Deuteronomy 14
4. These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep...
6. And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cad among the beasts, that ye shall eat.
7. Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.
8. And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you:...
9. These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat.
10. And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat: it is unclean unto you.
11. Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
12-18. But these are they of which ye shall not eat; the eagle... the vulture... the owl, and the night hawk... and the bat.
19. And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.
No portion of the inspired Word is ever obsolete: unchanging as the God it reveals, it sheds its enlightening rays on the path of the believer in all ages. Indeed its course is like that of the just: it “shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” so that what was but dimly understood at the outset is now resplendent with heavenly significance to those “upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11).
To the unbeliever whose darkness has not been lightened, as has ours, through grace, such a chapter as that which we here consider possesses no present meaning or value; but to us are given two keys, which, used in dependence upon the Spirit’s guidance, cause the Scriptures to yield to us of their rich and varied store.
The first is that Christ is the One who is before the mind of the Spirit in all the Scriptures: of Him they are full, He is the theme and burden of the whole, and no part is rightly understood save as it is looked at in relation to Himself (John 5:39; Luke 24:27). The second key is this: “Whatsoever things were written, aforetime were written for our learning.” That does not mean that we are to interpret Old Testament Scriptures relating directly and primarily to Israel as though they immediately contemplated the Church — which indeed they do not. But they are there for our learning, (all of them, “whatsoever things were written afore-time”), and precious is their teaching.
Let us seek now to apply these two keys to the understanding of the teaching of the chapter from which leading verses are quoted above.
For Israel we have direct instruction as to what living creatures were “clean” in the sight of God — what He could approve; what they might eat of; what (in a more limited way) they might offer in sacrifice. This was typical, as was also the history of Israel (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11). Things then ordained were but a “shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 10:1).
In what is stated distinctively of all that which was “clean” in Jehovah’s sight, we have Christ brought before us in that which was pre-eminently and perfectly true in Him — the contemplation of this is food to our souls: of this we may eat. At the same time we have the traits presented which are pleasing in man generally as under the eye of God in an evil world, and here is instruction for our path. These are “things that please Him” (John 8:29).
Separation in the Power of Good.
Throughout Scripture the feet, when viewed typically, are identified with the pathway or course of a man in this world (compare Psa. 119:105), and so the feature first treated of is the hoof; and here at once, in verse 6, we have “division,” or “separation,” brought into prominence: an animal which God could account “clean” must have a divided hoof. That is but a shadow or type, but it is a shadow or type of a reality. When by the word of God light appeared in Genesis 1, then, immediately, darkness is put in contrast, and we get it stated “God divided the light from the darkness.” This is a principle that runs through all the Word of God, and which will have its ultimate issue when God by the “great gulf fixed” makes the stupendous division between good and evil, which at the “great white throne” is consummated and determined as final and eternal (Rev. 20).
Meantime the same principle of separation is to govern us. As to iniquity itself, the scripture saith: “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity”(2 Tim. 2:19); and as to some given up to its sway: “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
But the “clean” animal not only divides the hoof, but also chews the cud; that is to say, this is not to be a mere outward separation as that of the Pharisees, or of the merely natural separatists contemplated in Jude 19: it is to be a separation produced by inward acceptance and appreciation of the precious truth of God — the truth received in the heart, meditated on there (which answers to “chewing the cud”), and brought into practice in a separation from iniquity, which is carried out in the power of what is good, inwardly known and enjoyed. This it is which alone is pleasing in the sight of God.
How perfectly is all this exemplified in Christ, the “blessed” Man of Psalm 1, who is seen, in verse 1, as to what is outward, as the Man that “walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful”; and as to what is inward, it is said in verse 2, “but His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth He meditate day and night.”
Many are occupied with what is merely negative, that is, with “separation from evil,” but this is useless, and worse, if it does not go along with, and proceed from the enjoyment and power of positive truth. This is emphasized by the instruction that an animal even with a divided hoof was not “clean” if it were without also the other equally important typical feature of chewing the cud.
Amongst the latter class were “swine” (verse 8); and here we may remark on the perfect unity of Holy Scripture, for when, in the epistle of Peter, some are brought before us Who were not really converted, but had professed and even attempted a separation from the pollutions of the world, which did not proceed from a heart right with God, the simile which describes their retrogression to their own proper state is that of the return of a “sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
Separation, then, in its true and divinely pleasing aspect, is of the character contemplated by Moses when he prayed:
If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? is it not in that Thou goest with us? SO SHALL WE BE SEPARATED, I and Thy people from all people that are upon the face of the earth (Exod. 33:16).
For the New Testament counterpart to this see 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25:
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
And thus the secrets of his heart are made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
Here in the abundance of that which is for “edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3) the presence of God with them is manifest even to the unbeliever; and those so marked are thus separated essentially in the power of good.
Remarkable is the contrast to this in Proverbs 18:1-2: —
The separatist seeketh after his own pleasure; against all that is beneficial he showeth his teeth.
The fool hath no delight in understanding; but only that his heart may reveal itself therein. (Delitzsch’s translation.)
Here no thought of the edification and good of others is present: the separatist treads a path of separation in pursuit of that which is pleasing in his own eyes, his own separate view and cherished ideas; whilst to all that is really beneficial his mind is opposed. The moral source of this is seen in verse 2: he who is there contemplated has not the necessary second mark of that which is “clean,” that is, that of “chewing the cud”; he delights not in good, in understanding itself; indeed in it he perceives no gain saving in so far as it may serve the end of self exaltation.
Thus we have divinely portrayed for us both the character and source of that merely schismatic separation which is an abhorrence to God, and also in bright contrast that energy of positive good which essentially separates those in whom it is active, according to God.
Reverting to our chapter we note that on the other hand there might be the chewing of the cud without the dividing of the hoof (verse 7). Such also were “unclean” in the sight of Jehovah. The possession of light but adds to man’s condemnation if he be not thereby affected and separated from what is unsuitable, to the One from whence that light proceeds.
Movement
Now as to what were in the waters: in verse 9 we read, “These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: and whatsoever hath not fins and scales may ye not eat; it is unclean unto you.”
The caudal fin, or tail, is the principal organ of locomotion in the fish, whilst the dorsal and ventral fins serve to balance it in the water that it may pursue a directed course; the scales form the protective covering of the whole body. Bearing in mind these simple uses of the distinctive and well known features brought before us here by the Spirit, we may pass to the consideration of the obvious typical teaching of these verses.
The waters in Scripture (in their wide aspect, as seas, etc.), typify the peoples (Rev. 17:1.5). The living creatures found in the waters were only “clean” in the sight of God — speaking always in the typical sense — if they were marked by two things: firstly movement not aimless movement, as the motion of a jellyfish drifting with the tides, but directed movement in an ordered course; and secondly, an efficient protective covering.
It is thus with the people of God. They are found in the midst of men, and their lot is to pass in and out amongst men in the pursuit of their daily duties and the ordinary affairs of life, but if they are to be pleasing in the sight of God they must be marked by these two things, the first of which is movement. This is a principle which obtains all through the believer’s pathway. When Israel began their history with God as a redeemed people, by eating the Passover in the land of Egypt, they did so with loins girded, shoes on their feet, and staff in their hand; and that very night, delivered from judgment, and enriched with plenty, they began to journey towards the promised land — “the children of Israel journeyed” (Ex. 12:37). Thenceforward movement was to characterize them, not settling down in any place short of the Promised Land. True, they wandered a good proportion of the years, but that was through unbelief; it was not the divine thought for them. When we reach the point in Israel’s typical history, at which they beheld the brazen serpent and reached the springing well, then immediately we read of their “setting forward” and “journeying,” and from that point the record of their successive encampments (Num. 21:10-20) reveals persistent unwavering movement, stage by stage, in as nearly as possible a bee line for the outposts of the promised land; and victory marked their progress (verses 21-34).
The Christian is not to settle down here, is not to drift aimlessly through life; but his loins are to be girded, and he himself is to be marked by movement — movement in an ordered and directed course, a course marked out for us by the blessed Lord Himself (for in Him all that should mark the Christian shines most perfectly); and the issue of that path is glorious (Heb. 12:1, 2). Paul too, with Christ before him, could write “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus;” and then he urges others to be “thus minded” (Phil. 3:13-16).
Protection
Then the second point is protection from what is without. Now the Christian needs this. He is in an evil world, and he needs what answers to “scales” in the verse before us — that which will protect him from the seductive influences of all that is around. In what does this consist? Not in a set of rules; law could never form an efficient protection, and the Christian is not under law but under grace.
What then? Look at 1 John 2. We read: “These things write I unto you that ye sin not.” That is not mere prohibition of sin, not a statement simply that he was writing to them with direction that they should not sin. In chapter 1, of that epistle we have a marvelous unfolding of eternal life made known to men in Christ, and brought before us in Him for our souls’ communion. There is opened up to us fellowship with the Father and the Son that our joy may be full, and, along with that, other privileges which belong to those “in the light” (as all “begotten of God” are) — namely, fellowship one with another, with the knowledge of perfect cleansing. It is in the power of the positive good and blessing here unfolded that the Christian is kept from sin. These things were written to them that they might not sin, for in the present possession of heavenly joys the pleasures of sin lose their attractive force, and the Christian is preserved.
This will be perfectly exemplified in the heavenly city by and by: its gates are never closed, yet “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth;” there is “no night there,” and evil is absolutely excluded in the expansive and expulsive power of positive good, for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof (Rev. 21:23-27).
Then, as always, for supreme exemplification we turn to Christ Himself, who could say “the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me” (John 14:30). In Him absolutely and always was there the perfect intolerance of evil in the power of perfect good.
Light and Love
Next in order we come to the birds. These were all “clean,” save some specially enumerated. These latter all appear to possess one or more of three outstanding characteristics, that is, they are either birds of prey, as the eagle, vulture, and kite; birds of night, as the night-hawk, great owl, and bat; or birds of foul and unclean habits, as the lapwing (or hoopoo).
The birds that were unclean show by contrast that which in the believer is pleasing in the sight of God. He feeds not on the dead, as do vultures and the like, nor is his pleasure in that which is foul, as the lapwing: his food is Christ, the living bread, and his delight is in the things that are lovely, that are honest, that are of good report (Phil. 4:8). He is not of the night, but is a child of light, and belongs to the coming day towards which his eager footsteps ever press, “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12).
He lives not at the expense of others, as do birds of prey. Divine love has reached him at infinite cost to itself, and, learning in his measure the lessons of that love, he begins himself to live, first, unto Him who died for him and rose again, and second, for the good of others — to give, not to get; to spend and be spent. “He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
“Things Above”
Lastly we have the creeping things that fly (or were winged). These were all unclean. The characteristics of those typified under the figure of creeping things, may readily be recognized in the following lament of the apostle Paul when writing to the Philippians. “Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”
The parallel passage, Leviticus 11, intimates that there were certain exceptions to the rule that all such creeping things were “unclean”: yet the exceptions but serve to emphasize the typical teaching of that which was written, for these exceptions were marked as having “legs above their feet to leap withal upon the earth,” as the locust and grasshopper (verses 21 and 22). These possessed a length of limb which enabled them to leap, to rise above the earth. Thus it is with the believer: though on the earth and found in exactly the same earthly relationships and circumstances as the unbeliever, yet he possesses in the Spirit’s power the ability to rise far above the things of earth and enter into that which is spiritual and invisible: as “risen with Christ,” he is able to have his mind on “those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1, 2), yea, through the Lord Jesus Christ and by that same Spirit he has access even to the Father (Eph. 2:18).
May the Lord give us to seek that which is thus brought before us as “well pleasing in His sight”: the separate path in the power of good; constant and definite movement in the ordered course; the expansive and expulsive power of heavenly joys; the unselfish life in this, the world’s night, along with an eager outgoing of heart to the coming day; and with, lastly, the soul’s present home in that which is above and beyond all that is merely of earth.
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The Green Pastures
“Oh that we used a wholesome frugality in our reading of uninspired books and tracts, and that we possessed a healthy appetite for the nutritious and strengthening Word of God! That we would not confine ourselves to our favorite chapters, but launch out into the free, majestic, infinite ocean of Scripture! That we fed on the green pastures, so spacious and so varied! Let me entreat the young especially to read the whole Scripture, copiously, regularly, and systematically.”
Have Faith in God
“I was writing to a friend in Canada whom I knew to be a true servant of the Lord working in entire dependence upon Him, when it occurred to me that he might be in need; I took my pocketbook out and found that a two-dollar bill was all it contained, and moreover that was all that I possessed, so I put it back, saying,” I shall need that myself.”
But I could not shake off the thought that had laid hold of me, and as I was enjoying the hospitality of a friend at the time and so had no immediate need, I put the bill in the letter and carried it unsealed to the post. On reaching the post-office it was evident to me that it must go, so I sealed it and dropped it into the letter-box. I had no sooner done so when a cheery voice said “Good morning, glad to see you, but I can’t stay,” and with a hearty shake of the hand he disappeared, he left something in my hand, however, which on examination proved to be a two-dollar bill.
The one to whom that bill was sent replied that it came to him just at a moment when he was being sorely tempted to doubt God’s care of him, and that it had turned his doubts to praise.”
In all circumstances make God the great circumstance.

How May Christ Become a Living Reality to the Soul? Concluding Series of Replies

J. T. Mawson
Concluding Series of Replies.
Answer (5)
Our steamer was expected to reach a certain small coast town on a West India island about daybreak, for the disembarking of passengers, and we knew that we ought then to see one of the most beautiful sights that nature could present. A high range of mountains, shading away from bright green at the foot into a deep purple at the summit, reared their heads against the glorious blue of a tropical sky, while waving at the base of them were the feathered palms as of some fabled land, and all the picturesque surroundings of a lovely bay. We were up betimes waiting for the morning to break over the eastern waters; but when at last it did appear, we saw not the landscape that we had expected, for a heavy bank of cloud hid those mountains with their gorgeous colorings from our view.
Those who had not seen them could scarce believe that they were there, and if they had not been indelibly photographed on our minds, we too should have questioned their reality, so that even to us, being thus obscured, they were but a memory. It is often thus with the things of God; the clouds from the world arise to obscure the bright prospect, or the foul miasma of the flesh wraps the soul in its embrace, then the sense of the reality of these things passes away, and the sweet serenity and calm of the uplands give place to the restless fever of a soul out of communion with God.
Things nearer at hand remain in view — perhaps the fellowship of Christians, or some service undertaken in the brighter days — but the joy, the charm, the reality are gone, everything seems out of focus, for Christ is not seen as the great central Object throwing everything else into its right relation. Then the question arises as to the reality of these things, for no things are so unreal as divine things to the soul out of communion and under the cloud of what is temporal. It may be the memory remains to increase the unhappiness, but Christ is not a present living reality.
Under such circumstances what is to be done? There is but one way of escape, and that is to seek the presence of God. We may go to Him assured that He is more desirous that we should live in the power of divine things than we can be, moreover He, who brought us into them at the beginning, is the only One who can restore the joy of them to us when that joy is lost.
If we fear Him we shall go to Him, and the fear of the Lord is the first necessity of our lives, every mystery is made plain to those who fear the Lord, for the secret of the Lord is with such. It is in His presence, away from the deadening influences of things temporal, that we hear His voice, and we must pray the Psalmist prayer, “Be not silent to me, lest if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit” (Psa. 28:1). If God’s voice is not heard, and we are not in exercise, we are like the un-quickened multitudes that know not God.
The World
In the presence of the Lord we get a right estimate of the world, and our souls respond to His judgment about it, as given us in the Scriptures.
The Word of God is most insistent and emphatic as to the world. Jesus said of it, “It hated me’ (John 15:18). He also said of His own,” I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19), and, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). Paul, by the Holy Spirit, said, “The princes of this world... crucified the Lord of Glory” (1 Cor. 2:8). John said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). James said, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). It is evident then that we cannot find our delight in worldly pursuits and in the things of Christ at the same time. We cannot hug the world and know the reality of divine things: there is no co-mingling between them, and on our part there must be, there can be, no compromise. To adopt such an attitude will be to be thought eccentric, and indeed if our souls find their center in Christ, we shall be eccentric to the world, for it hated Him, but we shall be concentric to all in the circle of the Father’s love, for the Father finds all His delight in His Son.
The world is but a vapor that shall pass away with all the lust of it, even as the clouds that hid the mountains disappeared before the advancing day; when this comes to pass in actuality, then shall Christ stand out in His inherent and eternal beauty before the admiring eyes of a universe. But in the presence of God our faith judges the world even today, and this clears the vision so that those things which are invisible to carnal eyes come into full view, and are the greatest realities of the life.
The Flesh
No Christian loves “the flesh,” and there are times when the soul’s hatred of it is most intense, and the agony of being overcome by it almost more than can be borne; and yet victory comes not. The reason for this is often that underneath all the desire after Christ, there is the reserve of some part of the life, or some time in the day, for self and gratification of the flesh. Augustine in his confessions tells us that he used to pray “O God make me pure, but not just now”.’ and many another heart has had that secret thought and desire even if the prayer has not risen to the lip.
There are three things the remembrance of which will help us:
1. The flesh is the great rival to the Spirit whose delight is to occupy us with Christ.
2. It will always mar our enjoyment of Christ’s things.
3. All the time spent in it is lost time.
But neither the world nor the flesh will be truly judged by our occupation with them, or even by a close investigation of their godlessness, nor shall we turn from either because we have suffered loss at their hands.
It is when there is borne upon our souls by the power of the Holy Spirit what the cross of Christ means, that we shall be able to say, “The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14), and that we “have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3).
For this we must go to God: in His presence our thoughts will give place to His, and grace, power, and mercy, will be given for a walk of separation from the evil things, and the joy of the knowledge of Christ as the risen and exalted one who loved us and died for us, will be a great and present reality.
Answer (6)
J. Wilson Smith
If Christ is no reality to a man it would be well for him to ask himself the question, “is Christ aught to me? Is His name anything more to my mind than a sound which I have been taught to venerate? Have I ever been brought into such contact with Him that I have consciously received blessing at His hand? Have I proved, in a truly sensible way, that He has touched and enriched my soul?” Let this inquiry be first answered.
Then it may safely be said that, in the experience of the true Christian, there are varied degrees and measures and unfoldings of the Lord to him. He may pass slowly perhaps from the time when he said in pride of heart “All of self and none of Thee,” to the time when, by grace, he prayed: — “Some of self and some of Thee;” and then to that when, by that same grace, he cried: — “None of self and all of Thee.”
This, indeed, is the blessed climax, and suggests to us the words of Paul: — “Nevertheless I live, yet not I.” In his case, “self”, (and what a mountain of evil is “self” I) had been morally displaced by the Lord Jesus Christ, who had become his life in true practical reality. Yet the same climax may, and should be reached by all.
But just as there is continuing advance from the time when the first beams of light irradiate the eastern sky, until the hour when the sun reaches its zenith in the heavens at noon of day, so there may be, and must be, progress in the Christian’s apprehension of Christ.
The bride in the Song of Solomon begins the path of such progress by saying: “My Beloved is mine and I am His” (ch. 2:16). Her initial apprehension is her own wonderful possession: — “He is mine!” What a sense of reality is here!
But then, after a while she says: — “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine” (ch. 6:3). This indicates growth — her possession is not so prominent now as the dawning apprehension of the thought: “I am His.”
Finally she declares: — “I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me” (ch. 7:10). Here self is lost in the consciousness of His satisfaction in her.
How forcibly real and simple is the knowledge of Christ! and in this line no experience can be of greater value. Was it not with this in view that the great apostle of Christianity bowed his knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and prayed (as in Eph. 3) “that He would grant them according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith” [thus becoming to them a living bright reality as the abiding tenant of their affections] “and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge”; so that, while they loved Him, they might learn more fully His love to them — a love beyond knowledge.
This is the great study, and object, and aim in Christianity: and, on account of it, the four inspired Evangelists wrote their separate descriptions of Him who was everything to them — their endless theme and story — till they finished by saying that the world itself could not contain the books which should be written. For this glorious reality, apostles lived and suffered and died; whilst today in the apparent wreck of everything divine, we are sustained in triumph by the Spirit-given consciousness of a living, loving Christ on high who is everything and in all!
Answer (7)
H. P. Barker
Let your thoughts travel for a moment round the whole circle of your Christian friends. Then fix them upon the one whom you esteem more than all the rest. Perhaps this will be the dear servant of Christ who was used of God for your conversion. May be it will be one who has been a great help to you in your Christian life; or possibly a godly parent who has many a time prayed for you and with you.
Imagine that you are staying for a time under the same roof as that honored friend of yours. One night, after he has retired to his room, you hear a sound as if he were talking to someone. And so he is. It is his voice in prayer that you hear; he is talking to God.
You cannot but hear what he says, and your attention is riveted when you catch the mention of your own name. Your friend is praying about YOU !
And how he pours out his heart in earnest supplication on your behalf ! He seems to know all about you, your daily trials and struggles, your temptations and failures, the pressure that sometimes seems almost too great to bear, and your lack of strength to carry life’s burden. He speaks, too, of unknown and unsuspected dangers that surround you, and of snares that Satan sets for your feet. And he mentions your earnest longings after the things that are true and good, your desires for closer communion with God, and your feeble endeavors to serve Christ.
In connection with all these things your friend prays for you, earnestly, beseechingly, importunately, mentioning your name again and again.
What you hear fills you with comfort. You say, “I am sure God will answer the prayers of His dear servant,” and you realize the immense blessing of having someone to offer “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man” on your behalf.
But now transfer your thoughts from your friend to your Savior.
Your ears cannot hear Him, but He is interceding for you as really as if they could. He mentions your name; He knows all about you. He has watched your faltering footsteps and has encircled you with His protecting care. He loves you more than tongue can tell. He died once, for love of you, and would be willing to do so again if it were necessary. Day and night He thinks of you. He is nearer to you than any earthly friend can be, and His intercession is mightier than any that such can offer. Does not the thought of this cheer and encourage you?
Sit down quietly for a few minutes and think. Close your eyes and say to yourself: “My Savior is thinking of me. He is interceding for me in Heaven. He never takes His eyes off me. He loves me tenderly, faithfully and forever.”
Then get down on your knees and talk to Him as if your eyes could see Him. He hears every word that you say.
And when you rise from your knees I venture to think you will know what it is to have Christ as a living reality to your soul.

The Mystery of God: No. 3

J. Alfred Trench
3rd Chapter
Having seen then the mystery, which had been hidden in God from ages and generations, now revealed to Paul and committed to him as minister thereof, we must pass on to his epistle to the Ephesians, in order to trace the full unfolding of this precious truth.
The Development of God’s Counsels
And now how important it is for us to observe the way God takes with us, when, in such grace, He would communicate what had ever been in the depths of His own being. All His thoughts and counsels center in Christ; and we find that He first of all sets us in the light of these counsels as to our individual place in Christ (Eph. 1:4-7).
But before the apostle can go into the orderly presentation to us of what was filling his heart, he finds relief in worship (for worship is simply the overflow to God of a heart too full to contain itself): — “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.” May this be the effect produced upon us as the fullness of the blessing opens out to us.
The stand-point to which the Spirit conducts us, is that of the eternal nature of God; for we read “according as He hath chosen us in Him (Christ Jesus) before the foundation of the world.” For “choice” is simply the expression of what perfectly suits him who chooses.
It is not the activity of counsel yet, but just the expression of God’s own nature; and how astonishing the thought: ‘He chose us in Christ!’ But if in Christ, it will be found to be in all that He ever was to God; and so we read “that we should be holy and without blame,” and “before Him” — before His own satisfied gaze-and “in love,” as the object of God’s delight: just what Christ is, and was manifested to be when here (see Matt. 3:16, 7).
True, Christ was alone then in the place He had before God; and only by redemption could He bring us into it. But it is not our being brought into it that is in question in these opening verses: it is how God saw us in Him in His own thoughts about us, before ever the foundation of the world was laid.
But in what relationship will divine and sovereign love be pleased to set us who are the objects of that love? Would angelic relationship have ever been conceived possible by us? It would not do for God. He had myriads of angels that excelled in strength, and ever did His pleasure: but they were only servants. He wanted sons — sons to surround Him in His home of light and love with the cry of Abba Father: accordingly we read “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children [or sonship’] by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Eph. 1:5). Sweet thought: He had counseled this for His own ineffable satisfaction: not merely for our blessing, but according to the good pleasure of His will. And this relationship was set forth in Christ when the voice from heaven (Matt. 3:17) addressed Him as the Son. Nor is even what was there connected with the place the Son had in his Father’s heart — “this is My beloved Son” — reserved from us; for to the praise of the Flory of His grace “He has taken us into favor in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6, New Translation: where see note).
Then once more His grace is brought out, not in the glory of it in this case, as in verse 6, but in its riches to meet us in the poverty of our need — “In whom, we have redemption through His blood... according to the riches of His grace.” For this was the righteous ground of the accomplishment of all that was thus projected upon the page of revelation, of what had been in His heart for us from eternity.
Now it is only when the revelation of the individual Christian position according to these wonderful counsels of God is thus complete, and revealed by the Holy Spirit for faith to enter into and enjoy by the power of the same Spirit, that God counts upon our being free, so to speak, to enter into His interests for Christ. His grace is then seen abounding in all wisdom and prudence in bringing out to us these counsels. “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one [or head up’, as it really should read] all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” This is the mystery then in its widest range: for what could go beyond not only all things being put into subjection to Him (which had been announced before, and will be fulfilled in the last of earth’s times, that is, the kingdom), but the whole universe being brought into relationship with Him as its Head; which, when the times have reached their fullness, is now revealed to be the end and object of God in instituting them? What an expanse of glory opens up to our souls as we are enabled to delight in the place which God had purposed in Himself for Christ, and which He in unspeakable grace is now pleased to make known to us.
But that is not all. For in the very next words we learn that in Him we have been made heirs of that whole inheritance of glory, having been predestined even to this “according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory.” The opening verses presented to us His calling in what is, beyond all thought, above us: here we have what is below us, in the inheritance that answers to such a calling — “ the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (vs. 18). Only it is to be carefully observed that this expression does not mean that the saints are His inheritance, as is constantly said of Israel. We are heirs of the inheritance which is Christ’s, and which has been presented in the whole extent of it in verse 10. But if it is in Him we enter into it, it is in us He takes possession of it. Daniel 7 helps to explain the thought. In verse 14 of that chapter we read, “there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom;” in verse 18 we read that “the saints of the high places” (margin) take it and possess it forever. The sign of His taking up the inheritance is that He puts them into possession. So here in Ephesians it is “the riches of the glory of His inheritance,” but taken up before the universe by putting the saints into it, and hence it is “in the saints.”
That this is the force of the expression is greatly confirmed to us when we find that, because we do not enter upon any part of the inheritance till Christ does (when it will be time enough for us), we have meantime been given an earnest of it (Eph. 1:13-14). In Him we have been sealed for God with the Holy Spirit, when we believed the glad tidings of our salvation. But the Holy Spirit is also the earnest for us of our inheritance, until the day when redemption is put forth in power, and the inheritance is actually taken up. Could anything give a greater conception of the extent and glory of it than to have such an earnest?
And yet what is more precious still for our hearts is the way we enter into the inheritance. When God set Adam at the head of everything in the lower world, He gave him Eve to share with him the fair inheritance, so soon to be dragged down by him into the bondage of corruption. But no thought of God will fail of its accomplishment. Adam was but the type of Him that was to come; whom God will set, according to His counsels for His glory, at the head of everything in heaven and earth. Nor will He be alone in that day of glory: He will have His heavenly Eve to be heir and sharer with Him of it all. And so the wonderful Ephesians 1 of God’s counsels does not close without bringing Christ out as “Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22, 23).
The Divine Masterpiece
Ephesians 1 is then the unfolding to us of the thoughts and counsels of divine love that centered in the Beloved Son of the Father, involving for us not only an individual place before Him in Christ, but a corporate relationship to Christ as His Body, the Assembly. And in this epistle alone, as connected with the counsels of eternity, the Body embraces the aggregate of those who are Christ’s, from Pentecost till He comes again, when the assembly will be complete, and “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” In every other passage the Body of Christ is either the whole company of the saints at any given time on the earth, where the Holy Spirit is to maintain it in its unity: or the local expression of this in all who are His in any given place.
In chapter 2. we come to the wonderful work of God in time, by which the Body is formed out of the material of Jew and Gentile, who were both alike dead in sins, but who are quickened together with Christ, raised up together, and seated together in Him in the heavenlies: that in the ages to come He might skew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (verses 6-7).
In the latter half of the chapter we have the actual subsisting assembly here on earth viewed also as the household of God, and as a building fitly framed together, growing to a holy temple in the Lord, but which even in its present state has become the habitation of God through the Spirit (verses 19-22).
Chapter 3 comes in parenthetically to give us Paul’s part in the work; and there is a further development of the mystery made known to him by revelation, “which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be co-heirs and of a co-body and co-partakers (if we could read it in this way to help as to the force of his words) of His promise in Christ by the gospel” (verses 5-6).
Observe how he especially presses the aspect of it as it concerns us Gentiles. For there had been thousands of Jews formed into the body from Pentecost, before one Gentile was brought in.
The apostle had a double ministry, and he himself was greatly affected by what he carried to others, for he felt himself to be less than the least of all saints. Would that we were affected in our little measure in the same way! This double ministry was, 1st: “to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” — what a gospel that was for the preacher! — and, 2nd: “to make all see” — this is the word for the eyes of the heart being “enlightened,” see Ephesians 1:18, — “what is the administration of the mystery.” Fellowship, the word used here by the transcribers, is a very precious part of it: but the apostle really uses the larger word (like the one used in sound, and therefore easily mistaken for it by the copyists) which takes in the whole practical carrying out of the Assembly’s relationship to Christ as His Body on the earth (verses 8, 9).
But oh, if only we had hearts to be more affected by the truth, how well it might move us to have the truth of the mystery, that from the beginning of the ages had been hid in God, thus revealed to us! By the mighty fiat of His word He had called all things into being, and therein displayed His eternal power and Godhead, but He had kept this hid in Himself throughout the lapse of the ages. But now that the Assembly was formed, and united to Christ as His Body by the Holy Spirit come down at Pentecost, — one body out of the most opposed nationalities of the world, — and the administration of it committed to Paul, it was God’s intent that now unto the principalities and powers (the highest created intelligences) in the heavenlies, might be known by the assembly the manifold wisdom of God.
To use an earthly illustration of what is so far beyond our conceptions, it is as if a painter, having produced many works of art, had resolved to concentrate all his resources upon one great masterpiece. This is what God has done in His own divine way: this is what the assembly is to Him; His masterpiece, in which all the varied resources of His wisdom are seen. For if little (alas, how little!) thought of by us, who are of the Assembly, yet the heavenly intelligences can discern the skill and beauty of the divine workmanship; even though through our unfaithfulness to the light and truth of it communicated through the apostle, the Assembly that should have answered to it, has become, on its responsible side, the sport of Satan, and the scene of the worst failure ever manifested in His people here.
Beloved in the Lord, who can read the inspired words, and enter in any measure into the place of the Assembly before God, whether as the fruit of the counsels of His love, or as the effect of His mighty operations in time, or as now made the depository of all He had planned and carried out for the glory of Christ in it, without being filled with shame: not only as to the way the whole truth of it was lost for ages, but as to the feeble impression made upon any of us, when in these last days, by an energy of the Spirit in testimony, God has presented the truth to the hearts and consciences of numbers of His own? What insensibility and indifference and practical unbelief has been manifested by us! May we be humbled in His holy presence, that the highest truth — always the easiest to let slip — may be once more revived in the affections of His saints.

Bible Study - 1 Thessalonians

Edward Cross
1 Thessalonians 3
1. Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;
2. And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
3. That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
4. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
5. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.
6. But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:
7. Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
8. For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
9. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
10. Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
11. Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
12. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
13. To the end he may Stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
1Thessalonians 3:1-3
As in the preceding chapter we see the devoted and self-sacrificing love of the apostle, as of a nursing mother and of a father cherishing, instructing, and bringing up their children with tender care: so here we see the anxiety with which he thinks of them as exposed to the perils and sufferings of their new pathway.
It is instructive and inspiring to see the various feelings of the Spirit of Christ brought into play in the ministry of His servant, and the emotions that fill his breast. His work was not the work of a mere preacher. The least part of it was the preaching. apostle, evangelist, preacher, pastor, teacher, father, mother, friend, and lover, all in one, he sought not their’s but them. He sought them at the cost of all he had — himself. He sought them not merely for their present, but for their eternal, their highest good. He sought them, not for themselves and their welfare merely, but for the Lord Jesus Christ and for God. He was a servant in the true sense of the word; and with the perceptions of the Spirit, and the presentiments that are alike the pleasure and the pain of true affection. Nor is he alone in this, though surely foremost. Others are joined with him in the same spirit; and in the same unselfish spirit he joins them with himself.
As we have already remarked, Thessalonica was the resort of a large colony of Jews, and the place was greatly under their influence, even as it is to this day. Now the Jews were, as I might so say, the hereditary enemies of the testimony of God, and therefore of Christ and of Christianity (ch. 2:15), and it was therefore no wonder that the Christians at Thessalonica suffered sorely at their hands. In Acts 17 we read that they succeeded in chasing Paul out of Thessalonica, and not content with that, they followed him to Berea and stirred up against him the people in that place also, so that from there he had to leave for Athens. Carrying therefore in his mind the sense of the persecuting opposition from which he himself was suffering, he was naturally in much anxiety about the baby converts he had left in Thessalonica, and in his tender solicitude on their behalf he elects to be left alone in solitude at Athens (and how solitary he must there have felt!) — and he sends Timothy back to them to inquire of their welfare, and to establish and exhort them concerning their faith, encouraging them that no man might be moved by these afflictions.
1 Thessalonians 3:4
Already he had foretold them that tribulation is the appointed lot of the believer. In this statement there is nothing new. The Lord Himself had clearly foretold it to His disciples, (John 15:20-25; 16:2-33). It is the necessary adjunct of the testimony of God in a world that hates Him: and it was not only the preaching but the portion of the Church from earliest times (Acts 5:41; 14:22).
But from then till now, and so it ever will be, that the north wind is as necessary for the garden as is the south wind, “that the spices thereof may flow out” (SoS. 4:16); and while the storm of persecution may do some damage, yet nevertheless, generally speaking, it does more good. Some indeed think that when they are saved, they are saved from all trouble; and they think it strange when some fiery trial overtakes them. The apostle says rather “Rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12, 13). As well might a sailor expect to learn navigation on a duck-pond, as for a Christian to follow Christ, and not take part in His sufferings. “If they have ‘persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” It is the royal lot of the Christian, and therein “the Spirit of glory and of God” resteth upon him (1 Peter 4:14): although we none of us like it.
1 Thessalonians 3:6-10
How greatly therefore was the apostle comforted in his own distress and affliction by the good tidings that Timothy brought him of their faith and love, and of how they reciprocated his feelings towards him, and desired to see his face, even as he did theirs. He is comforted in all his distress by their faith; and what intensity of feeling is betokened in the words “because now we live if you continue to stand firm in the Lord” (Lit. trans.). Joy in their present standing, comfort in the lowliness of their faith, solicitude as to all that was still before them: — “if you continue to stand firm in the Lord.” Their trials were not yet over, nor was the goal reached: so that while his heart is filled with thankfulness to God, and joy before Him on their account, he is also importunate above measure in prayer, night and day, that he might see their face, and perfect that which was deficient as to their intelligence in the faith.
And how natural and unaffected is all this: the exposure, the laying bare of those deep and tender feelings of the heart that cannot be hid I And how it invests Christianity with an open, frank transparency, a ‘deep and vital reality, an earnest and practical expression, which is too easily lost sight of amidst the withering controversies of terminology, and the profitless disputes of words which loom so largely before the apostle’s mind as the rank growth of later times (cf. 2 Tim. 2:14-23).
1 Thessalonians 3:11
The grammatical structure of this verse is remarkable. With two nominatives the verb “direct” is in the singular. The same construction occurs again in 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17; but the order of the Persons there is changed. As another has put it, “God the Father and Christ the Lord forming, so to speak, one in the thought of the apostle’s mind, though personally clearly distinguished,” each individually, or both collectively, are rightly addressed in prayer (cf. also 2 Thess. 3:5-16).
1 Thessalonians 3:12
He prays (ver. 11) that his way may be directed to them, if such be the will of God: but (ver. 12) under any circumstances his heart enlarges towards them, and enwraps them in his own spirit, breathes into them, and as it were feeds them with his very breath, in his desire that in any case, whether he sees them or not, “ the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another and toward all men, even as we do toward you.”
Too often we are content to love those that love us, and them not very much. But the word of the gospel teaches us to “love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:27, 28). We see how necessary it was to inculcate such pure and wholesome teachings on these, who were till so recently, poor benighted pagans. We might add, how important for those who teach to themselves practice, lest their guilt become doubly dyed, and their judgment correspondingly severe. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
The Thessalonian saints had seen a living illustration of this doctrine in the spirit and conduct of those who, at the risk of their own lives, had come to preach it to them, and to practice it amongst them; and who could now use the moral weight of their own behavior amongst them, as being the exponents themselves of what they had taught to others. Happy men! May we seek each one to be animated by and to carry out into practice the same spirit.
“Jesus bids us shine,

You in your small corner,
And I in mine.”
1 Thessalonians 3:13
Notice too that he puts love (ver. 12) before holiness (ver. 13). Holiness is not the life of the Christian; but love is. It is a holy love. But it is love, divine love, the very nature of God Himself and of the child of God, that produces holiness: not holiness that produces love. And as this is connected with the responsibility of the Christian it is therefore referred to the presence of “God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
It is not a question here of going into the Father’s house for the enjoyment of all the grace connected therewith; but though God is always our Father, still it is here at the time of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when the consequences of Christian responsibility will be manifested, and it will appear how far we are unblameable before Him. This must not be lost sight of in the remembrance of His grace: and again His grace must not be beclouded in view of this. This will be the holy judgment of God at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ with His holy ones, when every secret will be searched and every hidden thing laid bare.
But he is careful to say it is all “before God, even our Father.” And with this are closely connected the words of the apostle Peter: “as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.... and if ye call Him Father (Lit. trans.) who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Pet. 1:15-17). We need to distinguish between, but not to divorce these two great principles: the government and the grace of God.
——————————————-
We must have faith, not only in the form of fixity of doctrine, but also in the shape of constant dependence upon God.
A whole Bible for my staff, a whole Christ for my salvation, and a whole world for my parish.
You can work without praying but it is a bad plan and your work will be mainly barren. But you cannot pray in earnest without working.
Rest in the Lord, my soul;
Commit to Him thy way.
What to thy sight seems dark as night,
To Him is bright as day.

Rest in the Lord, my soul;
He planned for thee thy life,
Brings fruit from rain, brings good from
And peace and joy from strife. [pain,

Rest in the Lord, my soul;
This fretting weakens thee,
Why not be still? Accept His will;
Thou shalt His glory see.

The Authority of Scripture: No. 4 - The Heathen

James Boyd
No. 4 — The Heathen
The question of the heathen, who have never been favored with the message of the grace of God, will naturally arise in the mind of the reader. That they will never have to give account to God for the way in which they have treated a gospel which they have never heard goes without saying. It is a principle of Scripture that where little has been given, little shall be required; but to whom much has been given, from him much shall be demanded (Luke 12:48). The heathen can only have to give account for the way in which they have treated whatever light they may have had given them of God. The difficulty which arises in the minds of men in connection with their accountability to God has its origin in the fact, that in the heart of each lurks the latent desire to at all costs justify himself. It is natural to him as a sinner, and is a great proof of his fallen condition.
Surely the Creator has a right to do as He pleases in and with His own creation. If man has not answered the purpose for which he was created, God must please Himself as to how He shall deal with him. He may condemn him without giving him any opportunity of salvation, as He has done with fallen angels; or He may act toward him in the way of grace, as He does to men generally; or He may save him by His sovereign mercy, as He does the elect; and who can call His ways in question? He made man, to begin with, and His rights over him are supreme. He can kill and make alive, and He does so without consulting His creature. The whole universe is completely in His power, and it must be so, for it is the work of His hands. The fallen sinner may rebel against His decrees, and attempt to grasp the authority which can be His only, but whether as an object of mercy or of wrath he must learn that the fear of the Lord is the thing for him to cultivate, for this is true wisdom.
It is important to get right ideas of God. I do not mean only in His grace, which must be learned in the gospel, but as a Creator. “Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest Thou? or Thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isa. 45:9). I have not yet come to consider what God makes, or what He does with what He makes; I am only seeking to show, that if you allow the idea of a Creator at all (and a man must be mad who does not), you must allow that He has a right to do just as He pleases; to make what He pleases, and to do that which He pleases with the thing that He has made. No one ever yet gave God this His rightful place but Christ, who, having taken the place of man, maintained that place consistently, to the glory of God, from the manger to the cross. He held Himself here at the disposal of God, and though He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, yet He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. That it was the will of God was a sufficient explanation of every circumstance in which He found Himself.
I have dwelt long upon this principle, because of its importance in our consideration of God’s ways with men in His dealings with the world. That no man has been, or could be, clothed with unlimited authority, and be so free from outside influences that he could carry out the desires of his heart I suppose no one will question. Many considerations conspire together to prevent the greatest despot from working out the conceptions of his evil mind. There is the fear of degrading himself in the eyes of others, or of how the thing may recoil upon his own head. There are always outside influences at work which prevent men having their own way completely. Were it not so, a man with unlimited power would destroy the whole human race, and end all by the destruction of himself.
But God cannot be brought under any influence whatever. And yet man’s thought of God does not rise higher than himself: “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Psa. 1:21). Naturally we think of God as an evil being, and fear to have to do with Him. Being evil ourselves we cannot take in the thought of a Being supremely good: we think of Him as niggardly in the dispensing of His benefits, and vindictive in the execution of His judgment. The god of man’s conception is a demon, an evil and cruel being, endowed with the same kind of passions as himself, and influenced, in all his ways with men, by selfish considerations. To come to know Him in Jesus is to be brought out of darkness into marvelous light.
Another thing I would say before referring to the light Scripture gives us as to the heathen. Nothing can be perfectly known by the creature. This is so self-evident that I need do no more than mention the fact. The creation itself is beyond us. I know that it exists. I see it, feel it, am part of it. I see the relation which certain things bear to others. The sun, moon, and stars appeal to my senses as the handiwork of an all-wise, almighty, and supreme Being, and from them I drop down to the consideration of a globule of water or a grain of sand. But what do I know of these things? What are they made of? I may be told water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen. But what are these gases? I may know a great deal about created things, how they will behave under certain conditions, the uses I may be able to put them to; but what they are in themselves I know not. The Creator does, but the creature cannot know what the creature is. We know all that is necessary for us to know, or perhaps I should rather say, we are capable of knowing all that God deems good for us to know. May we be content with this.
Had man remained in innocence he would not have needed a revelation from God. It was when he sinned this became necessary, and he gets it at once. He has never yet left any of His creatures without witness regarding Himself. Man being like a planet out of his orbit, nothing remains for him but destruction, unless he can be recovered and brought into right relationship with his Center. When man wheeled willfully out of his appointed course, His Creator at once intervened, and pointed the way back to righteousness, peace, and salvation. Abel took that way, and found it paved with the favor of Jehovah; Cain refused it, and became a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth. Cain had all the light that Abel had, but he was unfaithful to it; and the whole antediluvian world was not less favored, though with few exceptions the testimony of God was scorned.
There does not seem to have been any practice of idolatry until after the deluge. It may have been the tradition of the fallen angels which Satan took up, by which to ensnare men, and entice them into demon-worship. Anyhow, almost immediately after the flood mankind fell into idolatry, and idolatry is demon-worship (1 Cor. 10:20). The idol itself is nothing, but what is behind the idol, and which fills the heart and mind of the worshipper, is a demon. The gods of the heathen are evil beings, and the worship of demons became universal after the flood.
It was not any lack of testimony on the part of God, which brought about this state of things, but the hatred of God natural to the human heart. We have the downward career of the sons of Noah into the moral quagmire of corruption brought graphically before the vision of our souls in the first chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. They sinned against the light which they had from God, and they were, the apostle says, “without excuse.” They had all the light possessed by Abel, Enoch, and others, and these had found it sufficient to guide their footsteps back to the Source of life and happiness; and indeed they were still more favored, for they had seen by the intervention of God in the deluge how well He was able to deliver the godly, and judge the rebellious. Added to this they had the testimony of creation, the visible things bearing testimony to the invisible. The eternal power and divinity of the Creator comes to light in the works of His hands, leaving those who bow down to the idol without excuse.
This is just as true today as it was then. The heathen have the heavens declaring the glory of God, and the firmament showing His handiwork: day uttering speech unto day, and night unto night teaching knowledge. There is neither speech nor words, yet is their voice heard through all the earth, right to the extremity of the world (Psa. 19).
There are also evidences of His goodness in the fact that He gives sunshine, rain, and fruitful seasons, “filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14). The object of it all is that men might feel after Him and find Him, for He is not far from any one of us (Acts 17). Man has gone far from God, and his great desire is always to increase the distance, but God has not gone far from man. The distance lies in alienation of heart and mind, and therefore man being a God-hating sinner, the distance to which he has gone is immeasurable; but God pursues him in the grace and love of His heart, ready to fall on his neck and cover him with kisses (Luke 15) the moment he, in the sorrow of his soul, turns round and begins to feel after his Creator, whom he has so heartlessly abandoned.
We are told by Paul (Acts 17) that the times of this ignorance God winked at (overlooked, or dealt with in no special way), but left man to the testimony of the visible things, against which he sinned grossly and provocatively, while wallowing in every abominable pollution that suggested itself to his corrupt and devil-deceived heart. He had sufficient testimony given him by God to light his way back to Him from whom he was gradually drifting farther and farther away; but to this he paid no regard, for the service of Satan was connected with a license for the flesh, which the idea of a holy and righteous God forbade. Because of this, the service of their fell destroyer was considered easy, his bondage was delightful, God was forgotten, and darkness reigned supreme.
It has been thus from the beginning. The testimony of God by Noah was despised, the law was trampled underfoot, the prophets were stoned, and those who foretold the coming of the Messiah were murdered. And has it been any better under the gospel dispensation? The Jews despised it, it went out to the heathen and there few believed it, and in Christendom, which is supposed to be the result of the preaching, comparatively few believe it with their hearts. Men seem more concerned about what is to be the fate of the heathen than they are about their own souls, or about the multitude around them, who, with the gospel ringing in their ears, go heedlessly down to a lost eternity.
The state of the heathen is brought forward by many to discredit the Scriptures. They foolishly imagine that because they have had no testimony of the grace of God presented to them, they cannot be held amenable to the judgment of God. But this conjecture arises from the erroneous idea that men shall be judged for the rejection of the gospel only. That men shall be judged for the rejection of the gospel is true regarding those to whom it has been preached, but all men are amenable to the judgment of God, whether they have heard the gospel or not.
We are told in 1 Thessalonians that the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with the angels of His might, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This will take place at His appearing, and is spoken of as the judgment of the living. It is “When He shall come.” Here we have two classes of people upon whom the judgment falls, namely, them that know not God, and them that obey not the gospel.
But in Romans 2:12-16 we have a very plain statement made by the apostle referring to this very question. He says, “As many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.... in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” The Gentiles sinned “without law,” the law was never given to them. They shall be judged by the light given by creation, natural conscience, and the goodness of God manifested in His providence. They shall perish: they have been altogether unfaithful to the light vouchsafed to them. The Jews to whom the law was given shall be judged by it. Christians are not supposed to come into judgment. If they were truly that which they are by profession they would not come into judgment, for in Christ the believer is already justified from all things. Still because of the unfaithfulness of those favored with such abundant light, the time has already come when judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17).
Judgment will be according to privileges enjoyed. Therefore the soul who has heard the gospel and rejected it shall have the heaviest sentence; the Jew comes next in responsibility, as having the law, priding himself in the possession of it, and dishonoring the Lawgiver by the breaking of it. Last and least in responsibility come the heathen, who have had neither law nor gospel. He who knew his Master’s will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he who knew not, and yet did commit things worthy of punishment, shall be beaten with few stripes (Luke 12:47,48). The judgment of God will be according to truth against such as do evil: “To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality (or incorruptibility), eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (Rom. 2:7-10).
That the Judge of all the earth will do right there ought to be no question in any mind; but whatever He does the wisdom of the creature is to submit himself to it. The creature cannot be the judge of his Creator. In the way in which the Creator has been pleased to declare Himself, in that way both reader and writer must come to know Him. I take the perfect account which He has given of Himself in the Word of truth; I contemplate Him in His love, grace, righteousness, holiness, power, wisdom, majesty and might, and my heart is filled with thanksgiving that I have found Him to be such as the gospel reveals Him, and such as my natural heart never for a moment thought Him to be.
I think of Him in His mercy on the one hand, and in His judgment and wrath on the other, and I am not terrified before Him, for I see nothing even in the lake of fire inconsistent with His holy love. He has come to light in Jesus: there His heart is revealed, but from those lips from which rivers of grace flowed forth, there came the testimony of a judgment which in its severity turns the most terrible utterances that ever burned upon prophetic lip into tides of mercy. His enemies had to say “Never man spake like this Man,” and surely no one ever did, for no one knew what He knew. When He spoke, the breathings of the heart of God were heard, but mingled with it all the tempests of eternal wrath broke upon the ear. He brought everything to light. The heart of God, the heart of man, the heart of heaven, and the heart of hell. All is in the light now, and men everywhere are seen to be without excuse, and all will find Him justified when He speaks, and clear when He judges (Psa. 51:4).

Various Aspects of the Death of Christ: No. 3

H. Nunnerley
Paper No. 3
The historical records of Christ’s death are in the gospels, the doctrinal teaching in the Epistles, the typical teachings in the various sacrifices in the Old Testament.
The first four chapters of Leviticus describe the offerings connected with the brazen altar, and that altar was foursquare.
Shall we view each side of this brazen altar, and reverently contemplate the mysteries of the sacrifice of Jesus as unfolded in the burnt-offering, the meat-offering, the peace-offering and the sin offering? They typify the all-various perfections of the holy Sufferer.
The Burnt Offering
First in order is the burnt-offering. This side of the altar shows us Christ presenting Himself of His own voluntary will, in all the perfection of His Person, without spot to God. The sacrifice — as a whole — was placed on the altar, then the fire consumed it; all of it went up as incense, a sweet savor to God (Lev. 1. 9); indeed the very word used for the burning here is the word used for burning the sweet incense, and means “to ascend,” “a burning upward,” whereas the word for burning the carcass of the sin offering outside the camp is to “descend,” “a burning downward.”
The ashes of the burnt offering had to be carefully gathered up, and carried to a clean place. So precious was the burnt offering to God that the fire was never allowed to go out, it was to burn all night (Lev. 6:9).
It is night in this world. Christ, its true light, has been rejected, and the world remains in darkness.
During His absence it is the privilege of each ‘believer to enter into the preciousness of Christ to God, to contemplate Him as giving Himself “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor,” to share the Father’s delight in the sweet fragrance of that blessed One who said “therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again.” No wonder that this fire was never to go out, but that each morrow fresh wood was placed on the altar, telling of the ceaseless, changeless delight of heaven in Jesus.
Moreover we have our portion there. It was a sacrifice to God but it was for us. “It shall be accepted for him — the offerer — to make atonement for him” (Lev. 1:4). Our acceptance is in the offering which above all others delineates the infinite perfections of Jesus in His whole-hearted surrender of Himself for the accomplishment of the will of God in an atoning death — inward perfections, discernible by the eye of God alone, which give it its intrinsic value.
The skin of the sin offering was burnt without the camp, whereas the skin of the burnt offering became the priests’ portion (Lev. 7:8). The first mention of skins in Scripture is in connection with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21), and the thought presented is that of clothing, that in which they were to walk here before God.
In the sin offering the sacrifice is viewed as identified with the sin of the offerer, and hence it could not be burnt for a sweet savor; but in the burnt offering the offerer is viewed as identified with the excellencies and perfections of the offering, which went up as a sweet savor to God: the believer thus stands “accepted” with God in all the sweet fragrance and acceptability of the sacrifice of Christ.
In the consciousness of this, we, as each day rolls round, should adoringly contemplate this side of the brazen altar, consider the spotless, unblemished sacrifice there offered, all the inward parts washed with water (thus fitting them to typify the sinlessness, purity and holiness of Christ), the entire sacrifice emitting an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God.
It was Christ’s whole sacrifice of Himself to God, it was the perfection of His obedience fully manifested. The “fire” which fell upon Him served to bring out in sweetest fragrance His excellencies, the personal worth of the willing Sufferer offering Himself through the Eternal Spirit without spot to God.
The burnt offering was to be unblemished: how true this was of Christ, spotless without, unblemished within; in perfect obedience and love to the Father His death rises up as a memorial ever before God of a work in which He has been fully glorified, and in which we are fully accepted. All the delight God finds in the perfectness, purity and devotedness of the Victim is the delight in which the believer is set, his abiding standing before God.
The Meat Offering
The second chapter details the meat offering. This connects itself with that aspect of the sacrifice of Christ most nearly allied to the burnt offering. In this offering no blood was shed; in it not the death of Christ was prominent, but His spotless life — albeit a life which was tested and tried even unto death.
The meat offering was of fine flour, oil and frankincense. The fine flour speaks of His perfect and even humanity, the “corn of wheat” that should fall into the ground and die (John 12:24). He was “that holy thing... the Son of God” (Luke 1.35); the oil speaks of the Holy Spirit pervading all that life; and the frankincense of its sweet fragrance Godward. The memorial of it was burnt by fire upon the altar, and ascended as a sweet savor to God: on the remainder the priests were to feed.
This offering presents the perfection of Christ as a Man in His life here, a Man who has been tried and tested (for of this the “fire” speaks) in every way — by the malice and enmity of men, the treachery and faithlessness of His disciples, the ceaseless opposition of Satan, and finally by the awful fire of divine judgment, yet each test but brought out His personal perfections.
Heaven opened to express its delight in this lowly, gracious Man. Misunderstood, despised, hated, having nowhere to lay His head, He passed on seeking not His own glory, reviled yet reviling not again, meek and lowly of heart, living on account of the Father, dwelling in His bosom, and ever doing those things which pleased Him.
This is the Man whose ear was opened “morning by morning,” who lived not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God. “A body hast Thou prepared Me,” “Lo, I come to do Thy will,” was the language of lip and life. The manner of His death was the climax of a lowly dependent life: the burnt offering displayed a Victim excellent and perfect in death, the meat offering the perfume of a life lived to God, and ever subject to His will, even to death itself.
Who can conceive the ineffable delight of the Father’s heart in the Son of His love thus living and dying to do His will, and having no other object or purpose.
The mind of this lowly One is to be ours, we are to walk in His steps, the steps of a will-less, self-abnegated, self enunciated Man, for Christ pleased not Himself, whether in life or death. He has left us an example that we should follow in His steps.
But please note carefully His offering of Himself in this aspect is not that of a sin-bearer, it does not make atonement, it simply sets before our adoring gaze the Man Christ Jesus in His pathway through this world, and how perfect He was everywhere! No “honey” — mere nature’s sweetness, no “leaven” — nature’s evil, entered into that spotless life; but “salt” was there, for neither did corruption mark Him in life, nor feed upon Him in death; He saw no corruption, but lived and died anointed and led by the Holy Spirit, the one Man who never swerved from start to finish, thus demonstrating His personal fitness as a spotless victim.

Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 5 - Hosea

H. P. Barker
No. 5 — Hosea
1. The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
2. The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms. and children of whore-dome: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.
9. Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
10. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered: and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
11. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head.
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Under certain circumstances mild measures avail nothing: only those of an extreme and drastic kind are of use. The state of Israel had become such, in the days of the kings mentioned in the opening verse of the prophecy before us, that mere words were futile. They would fall upon ears that were utterly deaf.
So “the beginning of Jehovah’s word by Hosea” was an action which must have been extremely repugnant to himself, but which should call attention to the backsliding state of the nation, and to the judgment that must inevitably ensue.
But the Spirit of God does not delight to dwell upon evil; though He may employ it as a dark background, to set forth in all the more striking relief, the glory and the blessing which are in the purpose of God for the earth.
Especially do we notice this in Hosea, where after briefly, but solemnly, portraying the terrible condition of Israel, he passes on to dwell upon the glories of the day of Christ. And it is exceedingly precious to the heart that loves Him to observe how the prophecy makes all the coming blessing to center around Him.
The One Head
He is first spoken of in Hosea as the ONE HEAD under which the divided nations of Judah and Israel will be reunited in that day. This He will be, not only by God’s appointment, but by appointment of the people themselves.
Having turned with true repentance to the God of their fathers, and their stony heart being exchanged for a “heart of flesh,” they will joyfully fall into line with God’s gracious appointment, and will with one voice acclaim Him, whom God has given them, as their Head.
The breach between Israel and Judah dates back to the days that followed the reign of Solomon. Though allowed of God in His government, it was none the less through the folly of His people that it was brought about. But when Christ gets His place in the hearts of His restored people, the breach will be forever healed.
The unity of the people of God evidently lies very near to His heart, and the Holy Spirit seems to take special delight in dwelling upon it, in connection with the coming day. Elsewhere we read: “I will give them one heart and one way” (Jer. 32:39); “And I will make them one nation... and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided... any more at all... and they all shall have one Shepherd” (Ezek. 37:22-24); “In that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one” (Zech. 14:9).
If Christ will be the bond of unity in that day, how much more is He such today, when believers are members of His body, which is one! And it is as we give Christ His place in our hearts, and in our midst, that practical unity results.
These are days when amalgamations and confederacies of all sorts are devised. To none of these would we attach much importance. But we greatly desire to see Christians laying increasing emphasis on what unites all the children of God, rather than or; the differences that divide them, so that there may be a drawing together, on spiritual lines, of those whose hearts beat true to Him, and who “love His appearing.”
Israel’s Husband
Hosea 2:14-19.
“Behold... I will give her the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
“And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call Me Ishi; and shalt call Me no more Baali...
“And I will betroth thee unto Me forever.”
In Hosea 2 we find the restoration of Israel described from the standpoint of Jehovah’s faithful love. He will be known to His people by a name that expresses that love. “Thou shalt call me Ishi (my Husband); and shalt call me no more Baali (my Lord).” We must ever bear in mind that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New. And in this place He, the Jehovah-Jesus known to us in grace, is addressed as ISRAEL’S HUSBAND. After all her years of wandering and apostasy, she will be brought to know the love that has followed her unfailingly. Her coldness of heart will be gone, and warmth of affection will spring up there, towards that blessed One who is Israel’s Bridegroom, as well as ours.
Israel’s King
Hosea 3:4-5
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim.
“Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.”
Then in Hosea 3 Christ is brought before us as the true David, ISRAEL’S KING. The long period of scattering when without king, or prince, or sacrifice, (and without the idolatrous symbols of the false worship to which in the past they had so often had recourse) they have wandered homeless among the nations, will be over. They shall return and find the Lord, and “David their king.”
Regal honors will then belong to the One disowned at Calvary. Do not our hearts rejoice at the prospect? Is there one so selfish as to say, “I am not interested, because the scene referred to is not one in which I personally am concerned?” Are you not concerned in what concerns Him? Are you not interested in all that will give Him pleasure and conduce to His glory? When you sing “The crowning day is coming by-and-by,” is it only your crowning day of which you are thinking? Is it nothing to you that His crowning day is coming? May God deliver us all from such pitiable selfishness The remaining chapters of Hosea are full of instruction, but we pass over much, because our search is for Christ, in these old-time prophecies.
But it may be remarked in passing that knowledge, the knowledge of God, is a very great point in Hosea.
Israel’s declension is traced, first of all, to the lack of knowledge of Jehovah’s bounty. “She did not know that I gave her corn” (2:8). But in the day of future glory, when Jehovah betroths her to Himself, she shall fully know Him. “Thou shalt know the Lord” (2:8).
Meanwhile, the prophet has to mourn over this lack of knowledge: “there is no truth,... nor knowledge of God in the land” (4:1). This was the cause of all the trouble: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;” they had “rejected knowledge” (4:6).
It was this, too, that stood in the way of their return to God: “they have not known the Lord” (5:4).
But when repentance is wrought in them, and they are raised up, and live before God, then shall they know, and shall “follow on to know the Lord.” (6:3), and they will learn that this is more agreeable to God than anything else: “the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (6:6).
Mere profession would not do. Though Israel cried “My God, we know Thee” (8:2), it was in vain.
But even then, amidst all the surrounding corruption, those who, like Hosea, groaned over it, and sought the Lord, should be brought into the real knowledge of His ways. “He shall understand these things... and he shall know them” (14:9).
To know God, is to be brought to the Fountain-head of all blessing. There can be no happiness for the creature comparable to the revelation of the Creator in beneficence and love, and in a relationship in which He delights to have us before Him as sons. I speak now of the knowledge that is the portion of Christians. If God has revealed Himself fully, that means full blessing for us. Nothing can possibly transcend the unspeakable bliss of being brought to know God, in the fullness of His love, as revealed in His Son.
Israel’s Representative
Hosea 11:1
“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”
But we turn, finally, to one more reference to Christ, in the pages of Hosea. The inspired quotation by Matthew of Hosea 11:1 enables us to find Christ here too (compare Matt. 2:15). For when He came to earth He identified Himself in grace with Israel’s history-the sojourn in Egypt, and the temptation in the wilderness (compare Matt. 4:1). Where Israel had been the subject of God’s preserving care, there He also trod, (His faithfulness displaying itself in shining contrast to Israel’s failure), so that He might, in a very real way, be able to sympathize with, and support and succor the hearts of His people in days to come, when God shall again bring them from the lands of their oppression, and cause them to pass through the wilderness; (See Ezek. 20:34,35; Isa. 11:16; Hos. 2:14) before establishing them in the land which He has promised them.

The Ten Gates of Jerusalem

James Green
Nehemiah 3
When the remnant of Judah returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon, they were few in number and had many enemies, but they determined in the fear of the Lord to repair the ruined walls of the city.
This was a great work, but it was “the work of their Lord,” verse 5, and He had stirred up their hearts to do it. They felt that His name was dishonored, and His city lying in ruins, and though the work was “great and large,” and they were “separated upon the wall” (4:19), they had the support of Him whose cause it was, so that they were able to complete their labor.
It is interesting to notice that the whole city is mentioned in this chapter:
Verse 1. — Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate.
Verse 32. — And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.
No part of the wall was overlooked and every gate was repaired; one man could not have done all this, but each man could build the part over against his house; and as they built each in his place they had the whole in view, there was no clashing one with the other, they were “workers together” in “the work of their Lord.”
An important lesson is taught us here: nothing less than the whole circle of God’s truth and work must occupy our thoughts. There is the Church, the Body of Christ, and the gospel; our affections must not be narrowed or cramped or set on a smaller circle. We may not be able to do great things, but what we do must be done with the whole of God’s interests in view: the work is great, but it is one in which we have no need to allow our weakness to discourage us, for the good hand of our Lord will be with us, as we are in communion with Him, so that we may act upon the apostolic exhortation “Quit you like men.”
The Sheep Gate
The first of the gates to be repaired was the sheep gate, and at this gate we must all start. Happy is that soul that has heard the Shepherd’s voice, and can say “The Lord is my shepherd.” He came seeking the sheep. He was the good Shepherd who laid down His life for them (John 10:11).
What deep affection throbs in those words, “MY sheep”! (John 10:14). Oh, the wonders wrapped up in that companion word “His own”! Angelic intelligences served Him; worlds on worlds have been called into existence at His bidding: yet amidst the whole universe that He has brought into existence by His power, there is one company He calls “His own”, His very own, the flock for which He gave Himself, out of the depths of infinite love. Fellow-believer in Jesus, you and I, through grace, form part of this flock: He gave His life for us, and that is why we must begin at the sheep gate, and truly we must also end there, in the eternal anthem, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen” (Rev. 1:5, 6).
The Fish Gate
Ver. 3. — “ But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build.
This seems to be the gospel gate. When we have been established in the precious truth that we are Christ’s sheep, it is our privilege to go out and fish: fish for souls. God would have us earnest in this blessed work: the heart of the Lord was set upon it, for He said to His disciples, “Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).
We can all be of some use in this service. If you cannot preach, you can pray for those that do. There are more results from prayer than we think. Many a servant of God has had his heart rejoiced by seeing souls brought to Christ without knowing, perhaps, what lay behind the success of his labors: someone out of sight and unknown had been crying to God to save souls, and the blessing had come that way. Beloved saints of God, let us pray. May we be kept closely in touch with this work of the Spirit of God, and so help to build “the fish gate.” Keep this repaired and wide open, that men may “be added to the Lord” daily. There is one important verse (the fifth) in connection with this.
“But their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.”
It is His work; He came into this world to seek and to save: shall we be found negligent in this service of grace? It is a wonderful privilege to be associated with Himself in any way; let us not be like these men of position that put not their necks to the work of their Lord.
The Old Gate
Ver. 6. — Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada.”
Here it was the old gate, reminding us of the passage: “Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16).
The old paths have been choked up; the old ways need clearing. There is many a saint of God who needs to have the old gate repaired, to be built up in that which was established from the beginning in Christ. Satan is ever ready to provide something new — the latest thing. May God remove the rubbish and enable us to build up our souls in the truth, as old as the thoughts of God Himself, that which existed in His eternal purpose before all worlds. Man ‘ changes: God does not. He has established all the blessed truth in the death, resurrection and ascension of His beloved Son, and those who by His grace are built up in that which was from the beginning, are able to help others back to the old paths.
The Valley Gate
Ver. 13. — “The valley gate repaired Hanun ... ”
Before we can go up, there must be the going down. We may feel our lack of power, and how feeble are the desires of our hearts after Christ: we may feel how little we have the conscious knowledge of divine things; but do we remember that these things can only be gained by the way of the valley of humiliation? In the years of the past we may have longed that the realities of God might be the controlling power in our lives: He longs to satisfy that desire, but it can only be brought about in the “low places.” It is a wonderful moment when we are willing to be led into the valley, and have to do with God there. There must ever be a going down before the going up, the valley before the mountain, the cross before the crown, the sorrow before the reigning. This is always God’s way, that we may be “bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (2 Cor. 4:10).
The Dung Gate
Ver. 14. — But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab...”
The Apostle Paul knew something of this place; he had no place or position in this world; he accepted the cross, and in his practical experience had to say, “We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (1 Cor. 4:13). What do we know of the path of rejection? How much we shrink from it; and yet, what shall we say when we think of that way, un-cheered by earthly smiles, which was trodden by the Son of God? He, the Eternal Son, the Infinite One, was cast out, rejected, rebuffed, scorned, despised, spit upon! What is any little slight put upon us compared with that? May we truly accept in heart occupation with Himself His own path, “disallowed indeed of men.” He has no other place for us here, “It is enough for the disciple to be as his Master” (Matt. 10:25). This is left to us as a legacy, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29). It is a faithful saying: “For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:11, 12).
The Fountain Gate
Ver. 15. — “But the gate of the fountain repaired Shallun the son of Colhozeh...”
The builders did not stop at the dung gate; if you know something of what it is to be an outcast, there is the gate of the fountain-the fountain of the fourth of John, springing up to everlasting life.
This gate, as the remainder of verse 15 shows us, is intimately connected with the king’s garden by the pool of Siloah (which is by interpretation “Sent,” John 9:7), and with “the stairs which go down from the city of David,” which He, the Sent One, descended, when He laid aside His Messiah glory, that He might open up the way for His own into the garden of His own delight: the Father’s love (John 14:1).
It may be our portion to be cast out here, indeed it must be; but at the same time in the power of the Spirit we may have the foretaste of the joys eternal, which shall be the unending portion of the “many brethren” (Rom. 8:29), with Him, the Firstborn, in the Father’s house. “With Thee is the fountain of life” (Psa. 36:9).
The Water Gate
Ver. 26 — “The water gate towards the east.”
If there is the springing fountain of John 4:14, there must also be the flowing waters of John 7:38. If the fountain within us springs up to God, there will be the flowing out also of streams of living water for thirsty souls around. How great a privilege to be channels of that of which Christ is source. Why is it that often we have to mourn our weakness? Is it not that we lose sight of the presence of the Holy Spirit? “But this spike He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive” (John 7:39). Is the Spirit’s power weakened? Thank God, He is ever the same, and is not less occupied with the whole interests of God than ever He was. If, then, in our souls’ history, these seven gates are truly repaired, and the Holy Spirit has His true place of control within us, He will see that the three remaining ones are set up.
The Horse Gate
Ver. 28. — “From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house.”
The horse is used in Scripture as the symbol of power; and power, whether for joy, worship, service or endurance, is always connected with the Spirit of God. He it is who recalls to us the words of our Lord; leads us into the deep things of God; and, unveiling the future, shows us things to come, that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit, and so repair the east gate.
The East Gate
Ver. 29. — “ After him repaired also Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the east gate.’’
And what is the east gate? It is the gate of the sun-rising. How often do we take our stand there, beloved, and lift our wishful, longing eyes in hope, waiting to see the Morning Star arise?
Christ is coming! May we be as men that wait for their Lord. When first that precious truth was brought home to us, we laid our heads down on our pillows and said, “Perhaps before the morning we shall see His blessed face.” Is this hope as fresh as it was? Is it less bright in our souls than when it first came to us? It ought to have grown brighter, for we are nearer to it now than ever we were — nearer to that moment when we shall see Him as He is. “The Spirit and the Bride say, come.” “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:17 and 20).
There is only one gate more — ten in all — for the wall in Nehemiah is connected with us in our responsibility here, and ten in Scripture stands for this. There are twelve gates in the heavenly city of Revelation, for there all is perfect, for the true administration of God’s will with men: twelve stands for this.
The Gate Miphkad
Ver. 31. — “After him repaired Malchiah the goldsmith’s son... over against the gate Miphkad.”
That word, “Miphkad,” is translated in 2 Samuel 24:9 “number,” and in Ezekiel 43:21, “appointed place.” Beloved saints, that blissful moment is soon to dawn when God shall make up the number of His elect in the appointed place; soon the Lord will fulfill His own word for us, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).
May God grant us to keep before our souls the whole circle of the truth, with which the Spirit of God is occupied: not one part of it but the whole; and that our hearts may rejoice in carrying on “earnestly,” like Baruch in ver. 20, any part of that work which falls to our lot; and that every saint of God may have his or her place in our prayers.
There is just a word for our sisters in connection with the building of the wall. You will find in verse 12 that the daughters of one of these men took their share in the work: — “And next unto him repaired Shallum,... he and his daughters.” I think that is very precious; everyone has some work to do, something to build up of Christ in the soul of another, however obscure her place may be. You have the opportunity for passing on that which has been made precious to your own soul, to those you come in contact with. Whatever you yourself, dear sister, have received of Christ, pass it on, and His Name shall be glorified.

"Creation": No. 4 - Further Proof

S. L. Jacob
No. 4 — Further Proofs
6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second’ day.
9. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
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On the second day God speaks as before (His word is the source of all the good), and the waters are divided from the waters by an expanse (as in the margin, for firmament does not seem to be the right word).
In connection with the second day’s work there is the remarkable omission of the words “And God saw that it was good.” This omission alone would prove the point we have pressed. The apparent reason for this is that nothing was actually formed at this time, only the expanse was caused to divide between the waters. But further, the region of the air — the expanse — is evidently Satan’s seat, for he is called “the prince of the power of the air;” it is probable that this region is peopled with evil spirits, which occupy the heavenlies (Eph. 6:12), and that for this reason God could not pronounce it good. Moreover historically it was in the period symbolized in the second day that God had to destroy the world by the flood.
What we get in this chapter is not the purpose of God pure and simple, but the ways of God for the working out of that purpose. In this work innumerable hindrances are allowed by God, but these are all overcome and the blessedness of the result enhanced thereby.
As there was a division on the first day so there was also a division on the second day; and every Christian knows that experimentally this is the case in the history of the soul. There was a time when these divisions had not taken place, and we knew not what was within us. But when the light began to shine, then we began to discriminate, to see what was of Christ and what of Satan, what of the Father, and what of the world, what of the Spirit and what of the flesh. Each bit of increased light, and each further step in the gracious work of God, emphasized these distinctions, often at great pain to ourselves; for the painful character of the experience of Romans 7 is due to learning one of these distinctions, and the first result of these divisions within must necessarily be painful and give rise to great exercise of soul. Yet painful as they are, the soul must travel by this road in order to enter into the blessedness which lies beyond.
We have already seen that the history of the soul is in miniature the history of what is collective; and God’s dealings with men show that though He is working to gather in, not to divide, yet He must divide what is of Himself from what is not, in order to gather what is of Himself into one. Yet He is very patient and full of long-suffering: good and evil will be found together in the world till the end, and then the final severance between them will be effected by those more capable of doing this than poor fallible man (Matt. 13:28-30, 39 and 40). There is a division now which is right, as in 2 Corinthians 6:17; and there is division which is wrong, as in 1 Corinthians 12:25 and Jude 19.
The Third Day
On the third day it is twice repeated: “and God saw that it was good!” and the progress is now rapid. The waters are gathered together into one place and are called Seas, the dry (“land” is in italics) appears and is called Earth. Here again the same character of opposites can be noted. Earth in this chapter has a double meaning. In the first verse it is earth in contrast with heaven: meaning not what is bad, but inferior to the other, and therefore liable to be superseded. This is the whole argument of 1 Corinthians 15:47-49. Fallen man is not there in question; not sin, but only origin; an earthly origin is defective by reason of the glory which attaches to the heavenly, therefore is the earthly image unsuited to the heirs of the kingdom of God whose origin is heavenly, and who thus must bear the heavenly image. Blessed be God, this must be our portion through Christ the heavenly One.
However in the portion we are now considering, verse 10, it is different, here the earth signifies what is stable, in contrast with the seas which are unstable. In the eternal state there will be more sea, it will not be needed. Now the seas are needed: for physical reasons we could not do without them. Nor can we do without what they signify spiritually: that is needful for the carrying out of the education of our souls. In the Lord’s prayer to His Father for His own, He said “I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil” (John 17:5). How often has this been forgotten. How fearful were, the results of asceticism and monasticism, and the withdrawing from the world in the early centuries of Christendom. And though we do not fall into the error in the same shape in this day of ease and luxury, yet there is another phase of it into which we may easily fall, even that of seeking to seclude ourselves within the barriers of a specially selected company of saints all conforming to our own mind and standard.
The result of such seclusion might be a certain quietude, arising from escape from much of that disciplinary exercise which should properly be ours as, on the one hand, passing through an evil world, and, on the other hand, as having our part in the professing church into which evil has been permitted to enter. But that kind of quietude is anything but desirable and can only issue in stagnation and spiritual death. As to fact we are in the midst of evil on every hand, and we must be found actively resisting the evil, or we shall die. When Christ comes, and we are changed into His likeness, it will be different; but now imperfect beings such as we are, having within us the flesh as well as the Spirit, need such a world as this is, for our souls’ education; and every attempt to form special companies must certainly defeat the object aimed at. It has been well said, we have not to make or seek a company, but we find company (a very different thing) if we follow on the lines of 2 Timothy 2:22.
The earth then is stable and is often used symbolically for Israel under the government of God in contrast with the lawless Gentiles, or the wicked who are like the troubled sea which cannot rest. The kingdom of grace gives us solid ground under our feet, in contrast to what existed before we saw or entered the kingdom (compare Heb. 12:26-28). The same thing was presented in figure in Israel’s history when the throne of David was established in Zion, in contrast to what was before, when in the days of the judges every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Our hearts are to be established with grace, and we are not to be occupied with meats (outward things) “which have not profited them that have been occupied therein” (Heb. 13:9).
Upon this, the third day, the earth is made to bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth. Here is almost infinite variety, yet a most blessed unity. What a contrast we see in the ways of men. They will either be lawless or legal, either allow any kind of license or else attempt to conform all to one rigid pattern, whereas God’s way is unity in extraordinary diversity. Yet all are alike in this, each has the seed in itself, each must yield fruit after its own kind, and each must reproduce itself. The penalty of failure in reproduction is extinction.
Thank God for this. How badly we should have fared but for this comprehensive law of God. The Christian must conquer or be conquered. There is but one step as it were from the victories of Joshua to the miseries of the times of the judges. To cease to advance is to rapidly retrograde. To cease to evangelize is to stagnate. To build up ourselves alone, and to pay little heed to feeding the flock of God, is to call down judgment on ourselves (Ezek. 33:8-10). May we take heed to these parables. God must have fruit, or we must make room for others (see John 15:2). In a sense we may say with Rachel “Give me children or I die.” No splendid light, no wondrous talents, will exempt us from these blessed laws of God. Everything which God has given He has given to be used, and woe to him who seeks to evade these responsibilities.
All nature, whether in the vegetable or animal world, speaks of reproduction. Nations which, like France, seek to evade these principles, will deteriorate and die. Let the Christian take heed to it also: there must be spiritual fruit and reproduction, not in the sphere of a select company, but in the Church and in the world. God saw that it was good. May He see this with us also. He is looking for fruit, namely, the reproduction of Christ. Are we willing to lose our lives and die that we may bring forth fruit unto God? In all these things Christ is alone the key.
Moreover there is no room for selfishness in connection with our subject: every herb and every tree yielding fruit was to be meat for others (verses 29, 30). Are we prepared for this? We must suffer if others are to be nourished. No evasion of this is possible. Bread corn must be crushed to be food for the eater. In this world all life comes out of death, and goes into death again that life may be reproduced; and it is well. All speaks to us of God’s ways in Christ, and one single plant of coarse grass may teach us more lessons than we can assimilate in a life time.
There had to be the formation of the earth before the herb and the tree could be produced. Yet when the earth appeared then these appeared also. So when God’s king (David) appeared, then in him was found God’s sweet singer of Israel, and in figure we have the “light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the, earth by clear shining after rain” (2 Sam. 23: 4). Blessed are they who have seen this morning in their own souls.

Answers to Correspondents

The Fall, and the Generations of Adam
J. L. inquires of what kind was the forbidden fruit of which Adam and Eve partook; also why Cain is not included in the “generations of Adam.”
As to the first question Scripture does not enlighten us, nor is the answer of the smallest importance, for the seriousness of partaking of that fruit evidently lay, not in any evil properties inherent in the fruit itself, but in the fact that it was placed there as the necessary test of man’s loyalty to his Creator.
The bounteous provision of “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” left man without any excuse or natural inducement to infringe the one positive precept laid upon him; which, small as it was, served the necessary end of practically defining the proper relations between Creator and creature.
As to the second question, it is very evident that there are two lines presented to us side by side in Genesis 4 and 5. — two orders of generations.
The first (for the natural always precedes the spiritual, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:46), in Genesis 4, is the worldly line — Cain’s line. Cain was a guilty and unrepentant exile from God in the land of Nod (wandering”). He founded the first city, and with his descendants Scripture records the rise of the arts, luxury, music, and poetry, but along with distance from God and moral degradation. The whole of this line perished in the flood.
In chapter 5 we can trace the line of faith, which is derived through Seth (“appointed”). In Noah the line of faith passed through the flood; and through that line is traced the genealogy of Christ in Luke 2 Throughout Scripture these two lines are separate and distinct whilst every attempt at co-mingling the two has been disastrous.
In Genesis 6:2, we read of a certain co-mingling of the two lines, resulting in moral corruption which brought on the flood. In the history of this dispensation [historically at the stage represented by Pergamos (“intermarriage”) in Revelation 2:12-15] a sadly similar mingling of the ostensible line of faith and the worldly line has taken place, with the disastrous results we see all around us today, and which will issue eventually in the rejection and judgment of that which professes Christ’s Name but bears not His character (Rev. 3:16 and 19:2).
“Sleep Through Jesus”
W.R. inquires the meaning of “them also which sleep in Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:14).
Those spoken of in this expression are identical with those described in the 16th verse as “dead in Christ.” For us Christ tasted death in all its meaning, and for us it is robbed of its sting, so that the death of a believer can be spoken of as “sleep.”
Rightly translated the preposition should be translated “through” not “in” Jesus. These have fallen asleep through Jesus.
Observe the perfection of Scripture; Jesus is the name which describes our Lord as man personally, thus believers are not spoken of exactly as in Jesus, but in Christ, “the anointed,” which is the title under which we come into relationship with Him in resurrection (Acts 2:36).

"At His Feet"

Adapted
“Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word....But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:39-42).
Oft comes to me a blessed hour,
A wondrous hour and still —
With empty hands I sit me down,
No more to work or will.

Now all my labored thoughts have ceased,
I rest me at Thy feet,
And calmed by Heaven’s eternal peace,
I hear Thy words so sweet.

Erewhile I reasoned of Thy truth,
I searched with toil and care;
From morn to night I tilled my field,
And yet my field was bare.

Now, fed with corn from fields of Heaven,
The fruit of hands Divine,
I pray no prayer, for all is given,
The Bread of God is mine.

There lie my books — for all I sought
My heart possesses now.
Blest words are they which tell Thy love,
That love itself art Thou.

One line I read — and then no more —
I close the book to see
No more the symbol and the sign,
But Christ revealed to me.

I sit, an infant, at Thy feet,
Where moments teach me more
Than all the toil, and all the books
Of all the ages hoar.

And thus my worship is, delight —
My joy to see Thy face,
With folded hands and silent lips
Within Thy holy place.

The Present Purpose of God

The Editors
There are two things that ought to have a governing place in the hearts of all God’s people on earth, two things that should have this place because they are the direct outcome of the sufferings and death of Jesus, and not merely the outcome, but the very cause of those sufferings, for they form the great purpose of God that lay behind that mystery of sorrow and woe. These two things are, on the one hand the gospel of the glory of Christ going out to every creature under heaven (2 Cor. 4:4 and Col. 1:23), and on the other hand the gathering together in one of the children of God that were scattered abroad (John 11:52).
The gospel in its magnificent universality, and the binding together in an indivisible unity of all who believe it: this is the intent of eternal love; for this the Son of God suffered and died; and to make this an accomplished fact the Holy Spirit has come down to earth. No Spirit-energized man could be satisfied, or rest from his labors, as long as any of Adam’s race are ignorant of the glad proclamation; and no man who is intelligent as to the mind and purpose of God will be contented that sinners should know their sins forgiven merely; he will earnestly desire that the truth of God’s unity may become a practical thing in the hearts and faith of all who believe.
The supreme efforts of Satan are directed against these two things. He will hinder the gospel from reaching men if he can; or if he fails in this, he will mar the testimony and power of the second; hence we are called upon to do battle with him. For this we need to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might;” and to put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph. 6:10-12).
Now the chief part of this conflict is waged by prayer. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication” (Eph. 6:18), and the object of the conflict in prayer is twofold: first “for all saints,” and second that God’s ambassadors might boldly declare the mystery of the gospel (verse 19).
The disciples did not readily grasp the meaning of the Lord’s coming to earth: they “trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” “ISRAEL” stood out in large capitals before their eyes, so that even the glory of Christ took a secondary place; therefore He had to open their understanding,’ so that they might grasp the drift of all prophecy, and live henceforward in the glory of the truth that “thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46,47).
There are many in the direct succession of this early blindness: the vision’ of the soul is limited or warped by some point or line of truth that has been exaggerated out of its true relation, or by some narrow circle of interest, and the gospel among all nations has become of little importance. Many excuses are made for this lukewarm condition, and it is even boldly declared by some that the time for the gospel to every creature is either past, or has still to come.
We need to be carried to where those disciples stood, that our understanding may be fully opened to God’s great and gracious purpose. There in the midst of them was the Lord, with the fresh wounds in hand and side and foot; He was there to tell them that He had suffered, not because men hated Him, but because God loved them, and would have all to know this blessed fact. Thus was the prophetic word confirmed by the Son of God in resurrection, after all the suffering was accomplished.
What enlargement of soul this gives how it lifts out of all petty and narrow notions, and fills the soul with the glory of God’s character! and what surpassing glory it gives to that cross of shame! for by it the door of repentance has been thrown open to all mankind; and thus the moment a sinner turns to God, from no matter what clime or nation, he discovers that God is a pardoning God.
To be God’s ambassadors carrying forth the glad tidings of repentance and remission, beseeching men to be reconciled, is an unspeakable privilege; to be associated in any way with this mission is a favor that the chief of the angels might covet; but it is reserved for those of the sons of men whose souls have been brought under the sway of that love which is without limit or end.
But the crown of the gospel is the gathering “together in one” of the “children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:52). The gospel turns our eye outward to a mighty circle, including all nations, a circle of which a shameful cross stands as the center; and we see the love of a Savior-God streaming out from that wonderful center to the utmost limits of that great circle. But this gathering “together in one” which is effected in “the mystery of the gospel” shows us every individual unto whose heart that light has shone, whether he be Greek or Jew, “Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free” (Col. 3:12), linked up in an indissoluble bond to the risen and exalted Christ: He has become not merely the gathering center but the Head, and they are the members of His body on earth. It is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that this is accomplished, and in spite of all the efforts of the devil to scatter and divide, this unbreakable unity remains under the eye of God, and the truth of it will ever be a precious treasure, guarded by a purposeful faith in the hearts of all who walk in the Spirit, and answered to practically by the endeavor in all lowliness, meekness, long-suffering and love, “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
To be indifferent to this, in which is made known “the manifold wisdom of God,” is to skew ourselves to be but babes in Christ, and not merely babes but dwarfs, stunted, having settled down to something short of God’s purpose for us, and as a consequence growth has been arrested; and to concentrate our thoughts upon any narrower circle, and so become sectarian in spirit, is to give evidence of carnality. The contrast to this stunted, dwarfish, and carnal condition that can only feed upon milk and not meat (Heb. 5:12,13), is set before us in Ephesians 4, where we read of the divine intent for which gifts are given from Christ on high: “for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
These two great things formed the ministry of Paul the apostle (Col. 1:23-27); for the furtherance of them he was prepared to die a thousand deaths ‘ and they will govern every heart that loves the Lord, and is set for His glory undaunted by all the scattering and dividing that “the wolf” has effected, until the day of glorious consummation when Christ shall present the Church “to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”
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We have no sounding-line where with to measure the depth of Divine love.
Many preachers have built a tower of theological speculations, upon which they sit, like Nero, fiddling the tune of their own philosophy while the world is burning with sin and misery. They are playing with the toys of speculation while men’s souls are being lost.
No service in itself is small,
None great, though earth it fill;
But that is small that seeks its own,
And great that seeks God’s will.
I knew a man who wasted his life trying to reconcile two of God’s attributes while all about him men and women were dying un-reconciled to God.
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