The Apostolical Doxologies

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" All Thy works shall praise Thee, O Lord, and thy saints shall bless Thee." This is an end most worthy of God; and it relieves the mind from many an anxious exercise to keep steadily in view that self-manifestation is the end of all God's action; or, in other words, His own glory. What may be needed in order that God may display Himself, can alone be known to God; but it is well to lay down this as an axiom, that all the works of God-all His dealings with men in His various dispensations-are necessary unto His own great end, the making Himself known. This will be fully brought out in that final dispensation, when " God is all in all." The unintelligent creation shall praise God. All intelligent beings, whether created or redeemed, shall praise Him-even angels who have not tasted redemption themselves, do yet praise God for redemption, as that which most distinctively and prominently makes Him known. Angels own with admiration the worth of the Lamb. He is the object of their admiration as well as of their adoration. (Rev. 5, Heb. 1:66And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:6).) " Bless the Lord, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye His hosts; ye ministers of His that do His pleasure. Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul."
Praise is silent for God in Zion, for Israel is blinded unto this day: and as for creation, it "groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now;" so that there can be no expression of praise either from Israel or creation. But the Church can now praise-yea, the saints can now bless. The essential elements of the Church's praise are fervency of affection, depth of intelligence, admiration and adoration. It is praise of the highest character. She can "Sing praises with understanding." Praise is the proper element of the Church. " 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." But praise cannot be forced; it must be spontaneous: it is in vain for those that wasted Israel to say to Israel, " Sing us one of the songs of Zion." They could not " sing the Lord's song in a strange land." The heart must be suitably attuned to praise. Melody must be made in the heart to the Lord ere it is intelligently expressed with the lips in praise. Hence, the heart established in grace and occupied with Jesus, marking the thoughts and ways of God as they are manifested, alone understands the comeliness of praise. In marking the apostolical doxologies, we can hardly fail of perceiving that they are the expressions of an overflowing heart, filled with wonder and admiration, on account of the grace and wisdom which God Himself is discovering to the spiritual understanding. Sometimes a didactic discourse is interrupted by a burst of intelligent praise. Sometimes the soul bursts out into rapture, in contemplating the specialty of the relation of Jesus to itself. Alas for our hearts! so " slow to believe." How little intelligent praise do we find among Christians. It is indeed recognized as part of the worship of Christians. The doxology-" Gloria Patri"- is of ancient date, even earlier than the Nicene Council, and is a valuable testimony to the faith of the Church; yet in its prescribed use how little are the affections called out; how hearty as well as intelligent is the simple "Amen" of the Apostle in Rom. 1:2525Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 1:25). It interrupts indeed the course of his argument, but he could not announce the Creator " blessed forever," without adding his " Amen."
The first formal doxology is found at the close of the eleventh chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. It is very brief-" To Him be glory forever. Amen." But brevity is here becoming; for the doxology is the utterance of a soul absorbed in admiration both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The Apostle had rapidly glanced at Israel's past history, his soul yearned in tenderness over their present blindness; again it warmed with joy at the thought of the Deliverer coming out of Zion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. What deep instruction did the survey unfold to his soul! The purpose of God in election and calling so fully vindicated. Legal righteousness unattained, but righteousness by faith in Christ fully established. The failure of that which had been outwardly dispensed, and the security of a remnant. The diminishing of Israel, the riches of the Gentiles. Gentile high-mindedness warned by what had happened to Israel. Israel enemies for the Gospel's sake, and yet beloved for their fathers' sake. Israel's actual blindness subserving the great end of bringing mercy and truth together, since they are to be received even as sinners of the Gentiles on the ground of mercy, and on that ground alone God ful- filling to them all his promises-not because of their worth, or their righteousness, but because of His mercy and His truth. How different is inspiration from a mere didactic style. The Holy Ghost in informing the spiritual mind calls out spiritual affections. Man often regards the Gospel as a theory, as a plan of salvation; but the Holy Ghost. deals with the conscience and affections of men. The Apostle, under his guidance, could not dismiss this subject without an expression of his admiration-"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom- and knowledge of-God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" And who is the expositor of these ways but God himself-not only as revealing them, but as being himself the Originator, Cause, and End of all things. "For of, Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things." This solves many a perplexity. That which is hidden from the wise and prudent, because they attempt to master infinity by that which is finite, is plain to the babe. He recognizes God, and the difficulty is solved; and. then how suitable the brevity of the doxology-"To Him be glory forever. Amen." Everything is lost sight of but God; and God himself manifested most blessedly, even through the folly, weakness, ignorance and sin itself of the creature.
The next doxology in order is found Rom. 16:25-2725Now to him that is of power to stablish 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, 26But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: 27To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. <<Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.>> (Romans 16:25‑27). It is one of a class most interesting for our study, because it concerns the manifestation of the perfections of God in relation to ourselves. It shows the ability of God to do that for us which we, cannot do for ourselves. We find similar admiration of the power of God expressed in the doxology Eph. 3:20,2120Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20‑21), and also in Jude 2424Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, (Jude 24),25. The Epistle to the Romans might well close with the fifteenth chapter. In the latter part of that chapter the apostle had to write of that which personally concerned himself, and especially of his desire and intention of visiting Rome; and closes with the brief yet complete benediction, " Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen." The sixteenth chapter is like a postscript, commending Phoebe to their notice, and distinctively saluting individuals by name. It is in such notices that we derive instruction which could hardly be conveyed by systematic teaching. It is the expression of the mind of Christ in the apostle. What a readiness there is to link others to himself. The acknowledgment of oneness in Christ, one body hut many members, was a deeply practical truth in the soul of the apostle, and he never missed the occasion of manifesting his delight when oneness in Christ had been the means of specially associating him with individuals. It is often so in family relationship; brothers and sisters are, by circumstances, thrown as it were into pairs, and this tends to heighten the closeness of their actual relationship. So the apostle, in the house of God, the church of the living God, delighting in common sonship and common heirship, found the common tie strengthened by being able to regard individuals as fellow-helpers, fellow-prisoners, fellow-soldiers, yoke-fellows; fellow-travelers. There was a power in the thought of fellowship which greatly enlarged his heart. After these salutations, the epistle again closes with the benediction, "The grace. of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." The benediction is repeated after the salutations of several individuals to the saints at Rome. Then all is closed with the doxology, "Now to Him that is of power to stablish 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, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. In all this there are marks of divine skill. It has pleased the Holy Ghost to convey his doctrinal teaching in the epistolary form. In this form there is abundant room for the flowing forth of the affections. In the former doxology the apostle seemed lost in the contemplation of the discoveries which he was the channel of communicating to others; now his thoughts turn, may we not say anxiously turn, to those before whom the great outline of the marvelous and gracious dealings of God with man had been so clearly laid down in his gospel. He well knew that, not the blessedness of the truth so revealed, not the wonder of its being preached to Gentiles, not its suitability to their necessities in its great leading truth of righteousness without works, connected as it is with the hope of glory, not authoritative apostolic ministry, could establish their souls according to his gospel, when an evil and deceitful heart within, the power of circumstances without, and the wiles of a spiritual adversary were all in combination against that gospel. Their souls must be practically linked with God. Faith in the power and wisdom of God could alone establish them. How delicately were the saints at Rome thus instructed. He hands them over to God for safe keeping. He could have no confidence in their stability; but be had all confidence in the power and wisdom of God to establish them for his own glory. How easy to say, that "God is Omnipotent," or "God is All-wise," yet how hard to apply the truth. The ascribing Omnipotence to God is the denial of power to the creature. If God be "the only wise God," "the blessed and only Potentate." then have we neither wisdom to guide nor strength to keep ourselves. "All things are possible to him that believeth," because faith is in God, to whom all things are possible. " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," because faith looks to the Lord as the only one capable of guiding through a deceitful and perplexing path. God can do it, God will do it. ".He will keep the feet of his saints," getting himself the honor due unto his name, in taking up that which is weak and foolish in itself, keeping and establishing such in the truth, whilst the wise and prudent stumble and fall. It is a wonderful thing that any of us are kept according to the gospel which the apostle preached. The history of Christendom is but the proof of departure from that gospel which the apostle so emphatically calls " my gospel." Human authority and human wisdom have reduced the gospel to articles of faith and a system of ordinances. The very thought that the omnipotent and only wise God can alone keep the soul established in the faith is abandoned. The gospel of Paul, in its riches of grace and its riches of glory, has been reduced by men to the least possible minimum of truth necessary for salvation. The display of the glory of God in the salvation of a sinner; through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, is well-nigh forgotten. Arid the great present end of the gospel, in giving the soul happy confidence in the presence of God is done away with. That God is of power to keep and establish may be admitted as an abstract truth; but that He does this so as to make known his wisdom to other intelligences, in keeping the weakest of creatures, opposed by the strongest of enemies, from being overthrown-in keeping the most fickle in stability-in giving to ignorance itself real wisdom-is only apprehended by faith. And faith gives the glory where it is due. "To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen."
Although formal doxology has no place in the Epistles to the Corinthians, yet there is a very peculiar character of praise found in the first chapter of the second epistle. The utterance of the lips is from an overflowing heart. The deep anxiety of the soul of the apostle, in dealing with the Corinthians, was compensated by his practically learning what the mercies and comforts were which God had in store for him. He would never so have learned this lesson, but for the sorrow and trial into which his service to the saints at Corinth had brought him. But if these mercies call forth gratitude, his soul rises higher than the mercies-to the Source of them. " Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort." It was not the subject matter of that which he had to communicate to the Corinthians, but his own experience of God which called out this overflowing of a grateful heart.
In the Epistle to the Galatians, the address of the epistle closes with a brief doxology. But the address itself contains deep doctrinal truth-the very truth which met the special error of the Galatian Churches. In the third verse we find the usual for a of the apostle's benedictory address. But under the circumstances of his writing, the very mention of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ seemed to bring before the mind of the apostle the shame and dishonor cast on the perfect work of Christ by these fickle Galatians. They were in reality turning back to the course of this present evil age, to deliver us out of which Christ had given "himself for our sins, according to the will of God and our Father." How the recognition of the one amazing truth of "The Cross" served, to the soul of the apostle, as the answer to every argument for the law. The law could never deliver from this present evil age. But after knowing deliverance from this evil age, on which the judgment of God was about to come, to go back to it again must be the most fearful infatuation. And it could only arise from losing sight of the Cross of Christ, in which the apostle saw the glory of God so illustriously displayed. And therefore he closes this most brief, but most comprehensive statement of doctrine with the doxology, " To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
In the Epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle's object is not to correct error, but to make known to them, and through them to the church at large, those rich revelations of its heavenly blessings in Christ-its union with Christ and its position in heavenly places in Christ. The apostle closes his doctrinal teaching with that magnificent doxology in the end of the third chapter, so strictly in keeping with the wonderful doctrine of the previous part of the epistle, " Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end. Amen." The real force and practical power of this doxology is sometimes lost by using part of it as an abstract proposition-that " God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." This is undoubtedly true; and in perplexities, when not knowing which way to turn, it is well to remember, that " with God all things are possible." But such a use of these words will be found-to divert the mind from the full and blessed thought contained in them as uttered by the apostle. His soul retraces the communications made to him of the previously hidden mystery, and which by him was now to be made known to the sons of men. He is rapt in admiring love, and his heart finds vent in this burst of praise. Let us retrace with him the wondrous things unfolded. At the outset, we find that his heart overflowed with thankfulness at the vastness of the subject which he had to communicate. He could not speak of it in, a mere cold didactic manner; it is an utterance from the heart. In reading the first -fourteen verses of the epistle, we see that the Holy Ghost does not• bind: down the tongue which he uses as his pen to the rules of human rhetoric; yet whose heart has not warmed, and his soul beamed With fresh intelligence, as he reads from time-to time this passage? How different from reading the same truths in systematic theology. The subject imparts grandeur to the language in. which it is con-. vexed; and such dignity, such blessedness, is alone resolved into that which is in God himself, " according-to. the good pleasure of his will according to the riches of His grace "-" according to his good pleasure which he hath proposed in himself "-" according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Why are we so little intelligent in the things of God? Is it not that we come to be taught as " wise and prudent," instead of being as babes who look to God to give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation? Is it not that we often practically forget our only standing, namely, sinners saved by grace: sinners to whom God can make known what He can do for His own glory-for " the praise of the glory of His grace"-for " the praise of His glory "?
In all this, we find the heart of the Apostle " inditing a good matter." Then follows a prayer that the saints might know what their blessings really are, and especially what was the character of that power of God which, had reached to them and wrought in them. This is described as "the exceeding greatness of the power of God." It has no parallel in creation or in destructive judgment. It is the triumph of God over every obstacle. In one instance alone has it been fully exemplified-in the resurrection, ascension, and present session of Christ at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. This is the character of power by which God, " to whom all things are possible," is alone working unto real blessing. It has wrought in us who believe, and it is still the power with which faith has to do. " Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?" He has raised Jesus from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places. He still acts " according to the working of His mighty power." Yes, poor trembling believer, it has wrought in you, and it yet remains to Co publicly manifested that it has wrought in you. Let it not surprise you that you are unable to give to others more convincing evidence that such power has wrought in you. Others may see a change of character and ascribe the change to many an influence; but a power has opened your eyes to see a blessed object you never saw before; a power has unstopped your ears to hear the very words which have been uttered as to the deaf a hundred times before; a power has given you new sensibilities, new fears, new affections. To the eyes of others you are a changed man-in your own soul's inmost apprehension you are a new man-so really a new man as to be able to judge yourself. " Old things are passed away-behold all things are become new." Various moral influences, and various circumstances may alter the character (yet no truly converted person ever can feel confidence from his own change of character); but it is one power alone which turns a man from himself, to see, delight in, and live on an object outside himself-even Christ-in the glory of His person-Christ in the perfectness of His work, and that power is the same which God wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. The power is manifested to be the power of God by being without effort. It is not perceivable to sense in its actual working. It works silently and secretly, yet how mightily. The fact exhibitory of the exceeding greatness of the power of God-the resurrection of Christ-caused little noise in a world, the field for the display of the energies of man. It was to the world a mere question of Jewish superstition, " concerning one which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." And so now the mighty power of God in quickening a soul is unheeded. It goes on silently and secretly, and will alone be palpably demonstrated in the glorious resurrection of the saints. But faith is the result of, and has to do with, this power, and carries it on to its blessed results. Has it wrought in Christ-raised Him from the dead-seated Him in heaven; so also has it wrought in us-dead in trespasses and sins-and has made us alive in and with Christ-raised us up, too, with Him, and has seated us together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We dare not say that anything short of this is our portion, if the same power which has wrought in Christ has also wrought in us. And it is interesting to mark the very difficulty of defining with any degree of precision where the prayer of the Apostle in the first chapter closes. It would almost seem as if the Holy Ghost led the Apostle from prayer to holy musing, and thus brings out the deep instruction as to our portion, in chapter 2:1-10. The double action of the cross of Christ, no less manifested in bringing into happy accord the most separated classes of men, than in bringing man as a sinner separated from God, into nearness to God; the wondrous " one new man"-his privilege of access to the
Father by the one Spirit through Jesus-the new Temple still rearing-yet even now the habitation of God by the Spirit. The Apostle goes on to application; but here there is another interruption, for the practical application is resumed at the first verse of chapter iv. He is (surely the Holy Ghost so leading) turning aside to speak of the special grace given to him as the Apostle of the Gentiles; of his deep understanding in the now revealed mystery, and of the Church itself being now used as the means of instruction to principalities and powers in heavenly places, and all this according to the eternal purpose of God which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Highly favored Church! highly honored Church! but still subordinate to that which is higher-her own Lord-her own Head. Never has the Church so deeply fallen as when occupied with her own glory and beauty, her highness and dignity. She has regarded herself instead of Christ as the end of God. She is indeed called according to the purpose of God, but that " purpose is in Christ Jesus our Lord." What confidence of access does this give to us. And how truly is the Church exalted when her one absorbing thought is the honor of her Lord and Head. Then follows another prayer-blessed mode of instruction -very different from the prayer in chapter 1. It is a prayer for the present power and enjoyment of our own blessings-strength "by the Spirit in the inner man "-" Christ dwelling in the heart by faith"-the blessed anticipation of His receiving us to Himself, and being with Him where He is. It is a prayer for us to take our place in the love in which we are set, and thence to survey what that love really is; and this prayer closes with the doxology above noticed. Can we not trace the mind of the Spirit in this doxology? That we may know the order and character of the power according to which God is acting unto blessing, is one subject of the prayer in the first chapter. It is the poorer which has reached to us-and is in present exercise toward us. Difficulties and perplexities there will be in seeking to maintain a Church position and Church privileges; difficulties the greater the more we apprehend the real dignity of our calling; difficulties again enhanced by the known fact of the unchangeable evil of the flesh, for it is said to those seated in heavenly places in Christ: " Let him that stole steal no more." " Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth. He no less regards our actual condition in the flesh, than He reveals to us and leads us into the enjoyment of that which we are and which we have in Christ. Difficulties there will be to maintain " the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," when there is at one and the same time to be found in every one of us naturally, principles and dispositions alike attractive, repulsive and divisive-difficulties surely greater than ever, when our habits, thoughts, and feelings have all been formed on the actual state of the Church in its divided and scattered condition, so that the very term "Catholic" has been well-nigh synonymous with corruption. But what difficulties are insuperable to that power which is toward us, which has already triumphed over more signal difficulties-raised up Christ from the dishonor of the grave, after he had "borne our sins in his own body on the tree," and set him in the highest place in heaven; that power also which has quickened us who were dead in trespasses and sins; that power which has so broken down by the Cross and Resurrection all that which separated the two most opposite of men, Jew and Gentile, as to lead them " with one mind and one mouth to glorify God." All natural and moral impossibilities have been overcome by this power, and that power is still illustriously displayed in guiding the poor weak and worthless creatures that we are in ourselves, in circumstances so perplexing that human wisdom and prudence are utterly at fault. It is not thus, in one sense, that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places is made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God. " Have faith in God." Here is our great defect; nothing can make up for loss of faith in God. The wisest rules and the most honest admiration of them must fail to meet the ever-growing difficulties in the path of the Church. But God "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh, in vs." How tenderly are we thus committed to him who is of this ability. Does it not speak to our hearts, more pointedly than the most solemn warning? That which is so wonderful in its revelation, so blessed even in its feeblest apprehension, is alone safe, whilst we hang by faith not only on God's power for us; but on God as actually exercising the very power in us which raised up Christ, and has quickened us. Surely we can say, " The Lord hath triumphed gloriously." Let us seek to say with intelligence-" O my soul thou hast trodden down strength." His alone is the power and glory, whether he triumphs for us or in us. And it is well to notice by the way, that in this the Saints have, under all circumstances, their alone title and security for power of action, according as the Church should act. There is God-the living and true God-and whatever be their weakness, He " is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." " Lord, increase our faith." All may appear in ruin, disappointment in the fondest expectations be bitterly tasted; death written against ourselves, and on everything-but " God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."
And all the most humbling discipline may be turned to account in this way-that we trust not in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead. " Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages; world without end. Amen."
The suitable brevity of the doxology, Phil. 4.20, will be readily acknowledged. The apostle had reckoned largely and confidently on his God. " But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." The apostle was very closely bound up with the Philippians in the fellowship of the gospel. They alone of all the churches planted by him had communicated to his temporal necessities. He in return makes over to them, in the above bold words, that blessing of the Lord which maketh rich, and with which no sorrow is added. Fellowship in the gospel, branching out into various kindly communications between himself and the Philippians, leads his soul to the primary source from which it all came, and to which, as an end, he would have it all directed-even the parental love of God. "Now unto God and our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."
The next in order is the very sublime doxology, 1 Tim. 1:1717Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17), " Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." The soul of the apostle was filled with the thought of " the glorious gospel of the blessed God." He seemed to himself to be the special instance of the glory of the gospel of the grace of God. It could meet his case, who was before a blasphemer and persecutor, and injurer. And what a blessed God He must be whose grace could not only abound over all this sin, but cause that the very one who had been so conspicuous as a persecutor and blasphemer, should now be more conspicuous for faith and love which is in Christ Jesus! And 0 what a blessed God, not only thus to triumph in his grace; but to entrust him with the ministry of this so glorious gospel! There is not only a heart overflowing with thankfulness-" And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord "-but the heart also is filled with admiration, and finds vent in this doxology. The glory of such grace will be forever attributed " to the King eternal, immortal, invisible." The apostle rendered it now with the deepest personal feeling indeed, yet still regarding himself as a pattern and specimen of those who should hereafter believe on Jesus unto eternal life. Such attribution of glory would spring forth from all the redeemed as with one mind and one mouth. It is no passing doxology; it is addressed to " the • King eternal," etc.-addressed to Him as such by the apostle on earth, but to be continued with deeper intelligence in heaven. But what a crowd of thoughts do we find here-" the King eternal "-the one who had ordered every age and every dispensation that he might fully manifest himself; " immortal" (or "incorruptible," as in Rom. 1:2323And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:23)), untainted by all defilement, even in communicating with defiled sinners in a defiled world- unsullied in His own perfections in dealing with them in the riches of His grace-and able too in His mighty power to raise that which is sown in corruption in incorruption. " Invisible," although all things visible declare His " eternal power and Godhead;" " invisible" to human search in that which displays His highest glory, and yet fully seen in " the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of, the Father." "The only wise God," as only able to make Himself known; wise as only able to make the creature happy; wise in His glorious gospel which so harmonizes the knowledge of the blessed God with the blessing of a ruined sinner; " the only wise God" as using the fittest instruments for the accomplishment of the purposes of his grace, even the blasphemer and persecutor, to tell out to others the riches of the grace and the riches of the glory of the gospel. " To the only wise God be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." As " the glorious gospel of the blessed God" has illustriously brought out the distinction of the persons in the Godhead; for it is impossible to see redemption aright without very particularly apprehending and duly appreciating the doctrine of the Trinity. The doxology appears especially addressed to the Godhead-the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And the context is remarkable-" The glorious gospel of the blessed God"- and " I thank Christ Jesus our Lord" -" and the grace of our Lord"-" that in me first Christ Jesus might spew forth all longsuffering." The deity of Christ, the glory of the Person of the Son, the Image of the Invisible God, and the Sender of the Holy Ghost, appears to have been before the soul of the apostle. In other passages, Christ as Mediator may be more prominent; but in this the glory of His Person, on which all redemption is suspended, is more conspicuous. Thus in the previous doxology (Rom. 16), we have, " To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever." Here it would seem that the apostle was, for his own soul's joy, regarding Jesus Christ, in His own proper glory as the great Center of everything. Seeing the Godhead displayed by Him-" the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily"-he bursts forth into this blessed utterance. And so far as it is possible for us to know God, and delight in Him, it will be in Christ Jesus and through Christ Jesus, forever and ever.
There is a brief doxology in the last chapter of this same Epistle to Timothy, verses 15, 16, brief, yet full of interest. The contrast in the apostle's mind was "gain," or the present advantages which one might have as a Christian, especially its mitigation of the hardships of the slave, and eternal life without present advantage. The one was appreciable by the senses, the other only by faith. The one would be acquired by that to which, alas, the glorious gospel of the blessed God in our corrupt use has led-even contention for the rights of man, the other would only be grasped by fighting "the good fight of faith." The one was visible, palpable, and present; the other unseen and not present, but only the subject of a confession which seethed contradicted by appearance. It is this confession which the apostle exhorts Timothy to keep in its integrity, till the need of confession would cease in the full display of the subject of confession, whether it be the glory of Jesus Himself, or that of His saints in Him and with Him. " I give thee charge in the sight God, who quickened' all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen or can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting: Amen."
Abraham stood before God as the Quickener of the dead, so that the things that were not became to Abraham as though they were. In this passage God is described as quickening all things., The confession of Timothy appeared to some as though it were unto a nonentity, but God gave vitality and existence unto it. Jesus Christ Himself had witnessed to the truth of His own kingship in the midst of circumstances which appeared entirely to contradict it. But the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ would clear up every doubt and difficulty, and this appearing would be in the time of God, the proper suitable time; even as there was a fullness of time in the divine counsel for the incarnation, the suitability of which even we ourselves can in some sort discern, and a set hour for the Cross; which no man could hasten, so is there also a fullness of time for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, of which God is alone the judge, but His times are the right and proper times. " Him [Jesus] God raised up the third day and showed Him openly: not to all the people, but to chosen witnesses"—but "in His times" God will show publicly, to all, the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. No trace of doubt shall rest on the mind of any of His intelligent creatures as to the glory of His person, or as to this Glorious One being Jesus the crucified. If we may reverently speak, without intruding into things which we have not seen, " His times " will be, after there has been the full display of human energy and its sorrowful failure to secure human happiness. "Behold, it is not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labor in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity." And then shall God, as the BLESSED and ONLY POTENTATE, display Himself in this character, and all the attributes which follow, in showing the appearing of Jesus. To Him the Spirit in the apostle ascribes " honor and power everlasting." That which man has arrogated to himself will then be publicly ascribed to God. But the church tarries not for the future; that which is eternal is to her as now, and therefore the denial of honor and power to God alone by men's asserting both to themselves is, by the church, now attributed to God. " To Him be honor and power everlasting. Amen."
The doxology, brief as it is, 2 Tim. 4:1818And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18), shows us how readily the heart of the apostle turned everything to the account of showing forth His praise who had called him out of darkness into His marvelous light. The apostle had, in his ministerial sufferings', drank deeply into the cup of his once-rejected but now glorified Lord. Desertion was the Master's portion in His hour of trial-" all His disciples forsook Him and fled." And when his faithful servant and witness stood before Caesar to answer for himself, " no man stood with him, but all forsook him." " Be it not [says he] laid to their charge."- " But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that my preaching might be fully known, and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." In his case tribulation had wrought "patience, and patience experience, and experience hope." And such confident hope! " And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom." It is to the Lord, to Jesus, to whom he attributes the glory of his present deliverance, standing by him when others had forsaken him, and rescuing him from the very mouth of the lion. It is to the same Jesus he looks for future deliverance, and for certain keeping unto his heavenly kingdom. His heart must utter-" to Him be glory forever. Amen."
O what hair-breadth escapes! O what prompt deliverances will the saints in glory be able to retrace, when they shall fully know the care of their Shepherd Lord! How wise to train the heart to mark such deliverances now, and to ascribe the praise to Him. Surely, " He that is our God is the God of salvation."
We find a brief doxology to the Lord Jesus, Heb. 13:2121Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:21), having reference to Him in one of His ancient characters as Shepherd of Israel. " Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." But what deep interest is given to these words when we apply them to Jesus; the Good Shepherd, who had laid down His life for the sheep and set up a new fold for them in heaven, into which He Himself is the door, and where the sheep find safety, freedom, and pasture. The smitten Shepherd was brought again from the dead. What grace was shown in this: how illustriously is God displayed as the God of peace. "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." To Him, the still-rejected One of Israel, but exalted by God, and owned by every believer, as the substance of every Jewish ordinance and office-" To Him," says the admiring soul of the apostle, " be glory forever and ever. Amen."
How appropriately the doxology in 1 Peter 4:1111If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11) is introduced, we can justly estimate from sorrowful experience of failure in the end proposed by the apostle as to the use of gifts. The ministry of the manifold grace of God should be unselfish and mutual, under direct responsibility to God, so that the grace and power of God might be seen in the gift, and that man should not arrogate to himself either glory or power from the possession of a gift. What readiness do we find in our own hearts to leave out God himself as the end of all lie does in saving us, and of all the grace He confers on us. It is God, known and seen in Christ Jesus, and acting through Him, "to whom," says the apostle, " be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
From the circumstance of the same doxology being found in the next chapter, we might judge that there is a leading thought in the mind of the apostle. " Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," most suitably comes from Him who had known by bitter experience the broken reed of self-confidence. But after that bitterness he had deeply known the power of restoring grace-" when thou art converted strengthen thy brethren." With what intensity of meaning do these words come from the fallen and restored Simon. " But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory, by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." It is the apostle who had been so strong in fleshly confidence, who says, " kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." It is the same apostle who said, " Lo, we have left all and followed thee; what shall we have therefore "-who says, " be sober, and hope to the end for the grace to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." He is now occupied with the God of grace and His ability to keep. Had Peter stood steadfast in his fleshly confidence, the glory and power might be claimed by Peter. But, knowing the wonderful power of restoring grace, glory and dominion are ascribed to God " forever and ever. Amen."
The close of the Second Epistle is with a doxology, following a precept:-" But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen." This Epistle treats largely of disastrous times-" false teachers bringing in damnable heresies, so that the truth itself shall be evil spoken of." Doctrinal pravity is shown in its connection with moral pravity, and a return to the pollution of the world. Where then is security? The occupation of the heart and soul with grace, and the deeper study of the Lord Jesus Christ. Two things scarcely separable; for unless the heart be established with grace it cannot well study the Lord Jesus Christ as an object of the deepest interest. The habit of the soul to give Him glory now, is but anticipation of what will be the effect of the deeper knowledge, both of grace and of the Lord Jesus Christ, which the saints will have in glory. " To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen. '
The Epistle of Jude opens to us a very special feature of the corruption of the faith once delivered to the Saints. That the grace of God should be perverted into the rights of man„ is, at first sight, monstrous, yet is capable of being historically traced. Such a corruption is nearly allied to another form marked by the Apostle Paul: " Men shall be lovers of their own selves." Thus inverting the leading practical feature of the gospel, by putting self-seeking in the place of self-denial. These cognate forms of corruption have sprung from the early attempt of putting the new piece to the old garment, by men using the precepts of the gospel, so far as they would conduce to present advantage-" considering gain to be godliness." The assertion of the rights of conscience contains the important truth, that God has never entrusted to any one dominion over the conscience of his fellowman. But still if it be only so far stated, it is but partial truth, which necessarily leads to erroneous consequences. There needs to be the positive Statement as well as the negative-that is, that God, and God alone, has dominion over the conscience, and requires it to be exercised before Him by each individual. And it will be found to make a very material difference in the state of the soul, whether the right of God to be obeyed be asserted or the right of conscience. How readily, under the plea of conscience, will self-will find a shelter; whereas when the authority of God is recognized, the alternative ever is, "We must obey God rather than men." But when the Gospel of the grace of God is so perverted as to be made the sanction for self-will, it is regarded by God as the denial of the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ; and as a necessary consequence, the contempt of dominion (lordship of every kind) and speaking evil of dignities. The avowed denial of the Lordship of Jesus, brings out the climax of evil; for it is, in fact, the denial of the Christian profession; " If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus;" " Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Men say" Our tongues are our own, who is lord over us!" The answer of faith is: "The Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment." They are very evil days indeed, when the grace of God is avowedly made the shelter for human willfulness; then the duty of the saints is twofold, to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; " and to build themselves up on their most holy faith." In every corruption of the faith, there has been the tendency in the saints to remedy it by human arrangement, but the Apostle leads the soul back to the original principles of the dispensation, both to show the greatness of the departure from the Divine original, and the remedy by returning to God Himself. However conscious we may be that the sanctity of Christians is very low indeed, we do not readily trace the defect to some unsoundness, practical unsoundness, in the faith. The Lordship of Jesus is the only sanction to any act of the Church on earth; so far as that act is recognized in heaven. It is thus the Warrant runs:-"Irt the name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit with the power of our LORD JESUS CHRIST." Or again, in private walk, " Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Soundness in the faith has to do with the sanctity and discipline of the Church. But in evil days, the heart is necessarily much discouraged in contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, and is readily disposed even to compromise the faith for the sake of peace and quiet.
It is when the greatness of the corruption of the faith is in measure discovered (for what portion of the faith once delivered to the saints has escaped untainted?) when the very grace of God has been made the shelter of human willfulness, and the Divinity and Lordship of Jesus so denied, that men own no constituted authority at all, that the heart becomes ready to sink, and to give up all as lost, and to consider it as utterly vain to attempt to stern the general current which is carrying all along with it. But there is one, and ever the same resource to faith, and that is God Himself. And how blessedly does the Apostle, who has so graphically portrayed the corruption, and pointed out to the saints their duty in the midst of it, close his Epistle with this magnificent doxology:" Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling."
One alone is able to keep us faithful in the midst of unfaithfulness-to cause us to know the grace of God as teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts-to make the practical acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus, the basis of the acknowledgment of all lawful authority; and He is the only God, but He is also a Savior-God. But not only is He able to keep us in the faith, but to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Alas, the very feasts of charity had here been tainted by intruders, and the saints might well be fearful of contamination; but the only God and Savior was,, able so to keep, as to present them blameless in the presence of His own glory. This is indeed a surprising thought. The very glory in which He would be revealed to execute judgment on the ungodly was, that before which He would present His saints. But when it is added " with exceeding joy," surely the soul can only admire and adore. Does the Leper say, "Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean;" the answer is ready: " I will; be thou clean." Does the soul of the saint, awakened to an alarming sense of all that is against it, and the prevalence of corruption on every side, say, "Keep me, and I shall be kept; hold me up, and I shall be safe." The answer is, not only that He is able to keep and to present faultless before His own glory; but that it is His exceeding joy to do so. (See Zeph. 3:1717The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17).) How have we, even after the great fact of the Incarnation, gone back to the abstract idea of God, instead of beholding in " God manifested in the flesh " the love as well as the power of God, interested in our security. God has "the river of His own pleasures "-" He delighteth in mercy," and makes this known to us for our joy and comfort. There appears great propriety in the attribution of the praise to God as the only God our Savior, as well as in that which is here specially attributed to Him. It is to God, in the character in which He was denied-God in Christ-" the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ," that the glory is here attributed. It is in this that the value of the faith once delivered to the saints is perceived. An abstract idea of the unity of the Godhead, necessarily cuts off all intercourse between man and God, because man is a sinner, and holiness without intercourse with God is impossible. But when Jehovah says, " There is no God else beside me: a just God and a Savior: there is none beside me." The very idea brings God into contact with man. And when this became manifested in the Incarnation and the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, the denial of the real proper Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ necessarily deprived 'salvation of its groundwork, and faith of its sanctity. It is to God in Christ-God as a Savior-God, that the Holy Ghost by the Apostle attributes that which was denied to Him by man. They denied Lordship, and spoke evil of dignities; he ascribes "glory and majesty, dominion and power, to Him;" and this glory, this majesty, this dominion, this power, would be especially manifested in keeping the saints from stumbling in evil days, and in presenting them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy; so that whatever further display there might be in future ages of the glory, majesty, dominion and power of Jesus Christ, the only Lord God and our Lord, the saints themselves would be the most blessed illustration of it, and occupied both in exhibiting it and acknowledging it forever and ever.
The latest Apostolical doxology is one of peculiar interest and instructiveness. The opening benediction of the Apostle John to the seven Churches of Asia is markedly distinct from similar benedictions in the Epistles. But although the Lord Jesus is mentioned under titles not used on any such occasion in the Epistles, namely, as "the faithful witness, the first-begotten from the dead, and Prince of the kings of the earth," the Spirit in the Apostle gives utterance to the expression of the feelings of his own heart on the mention of the name of Jesus Christ, and attaches to it in its own and our name, that most touching doxology: "To 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." And is there a scene opened to us in this wonderful book, where the soul will not be led to remember this doxology for its repose? It is the characteristic utterance of the Church, just as in the closing chapter we have the characteristic response of the. Church to the Lord's own announcement: " Surely I come quickly-Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." The doxology here, if the expression may be used, springs from personal feeling. Spontaneousness and intelligence are alike conspicuous in it. It is not what Jesus Christ is as revealed in the Revelation, but that which He is to her to whom the Revelation is given. When every knee shall bow at the name of Jesus, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue confess to the Lordship of Jesus-those associated with Him in heaven, His own bride, whilst gladly owning all which others own, shall specially mention that which He is to her, and that too when arrayed in royal and priestly majesty. That very majesty shall testify to the preciousness of His blood; and instead of attempting to rival or eclipse His glory, will be the very occasion of most entirely ascribing all glory and dominion to Him. Happy Church-so happily saved, as to find her highest joy and dignity in ascribing all glory to Him. Happy Church, to be forever in dependance., and inheriting all things; to be continually ascribing the right and title she alone has to such an inheritance, to the same blood by which her sins have been washed and she presented by Jesus to Himself without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, and presented by Jesus to God and His Father as kings and priests. "To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."