The Home and the Race

 •  36 min. read  •  grade level: 4
The people of Israel never ought to have left the land; but wherever Israel went, even if it were to Assyria, they were God's people still. And thus we find in Hebrews, wherever we are, we are still God's people-His people now after a new manner. We ought not to wander, but, even if we do, we are still God's people.
In the tenth chapter we are worshippers; " once purged " we have " no more conscience of sins." Oh, but, says some one, I do still sin!- But I road, your sins and iniquities I will remember no more. He has called us brethren. He is not ashamed to do so; and of what order is that?-It is a new creation. There is no sin there. "Whosoever is born of God sinneth not."
Well, I am constituted a worshipper; and a worshipper once purged has no more conscience of sins; he has " boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." The argument of the chapter is this, that we have not to try to get to heaven, for the One who came down from heaven is there, and He is the measure of my nearness to God. You may say, I often act in in the flesh. Then you must repent, but God never sees you in the flesh; if you go back to that old ground there is nothing but judgment for you, unless you judge yourself. If you were near God as a believer, you would find there was not a thing between you and Him; the man who talks of clouds has never been near God. We are God's people quite in a new way; " He is not ashamed to call us brethren." Could the brethren of Christ be chargeable in the presence of God?
This chapter unfolds to us Christ coming down here to do the will of God; He came to measure our distance from God, to bear our sins and our iniquities and now we have boldness to enter into the holiest by His blood-" by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." It is not only by the blood of Jesus; every person who is saved, is saved by the blood of Jesus Christ; but you cannot say that to every one of these saved souls the veil is rent. Mark, he does not say and by a new and living way; that would imply that there were two doors. It is "through the veil, that is to say, his flesh," and that is the real difficulty with souls; there is no difficulty as to the blood; but to understand this you must get off carnal ground on to spiritual; " Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more."
" Boldness to enter into the holiest." It is the happiest place; it is the home of the heart in the brightness of God's presence. There is no place that I have such a right to-that I am so fully entitled to-as that place. My Father likes me to be there. Paul does not tell you what the nature of the place is, as to your enjoyment of it, but he just tells you of the place. We do not get here so much as we find in the parable of the prodigal son. I go in where I have a right to go, and there I find Christ to be, not only the One who has come down to find me in my sins, but I find Him as the One who has gone up; and thus He, who has measured my distance from God, is the One who is the measure of my nearness to Him; and I enter into that place by the One who sustains me there.
Now I find that the gospel is preached in three different ways. Some preach, very sincerely, Christ as bearing the judgment of sin; and very true this is, otherwise how could you face God? Many a person has only got this, and is therefore never pleased but in hearing a gospel sermon; it is not that he has not got forgiveness of his sins, but he is not quite sure of it, and wants to look at it again and again, like a person reading over a balanced account. The second way of preaching the gospel is, I admit, a very full gospel, but it is defective. It is, that God so loved the world as to send His Son to bring us to heaven. Now there is just one word here that makes it defective, and that is heaven. If you substitute " God " for " heaven " then you have a perfect gospel. But, as it stands, it has only brought you to a place instead of to God. True the judgment was upon us, Christ has come in and borne it, and gone up and opened heaven to us-all this is true; but you have not got it all unless you bring in the word God: " Christ has entered into heaven' itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."
To show you how connected this is with the gospel, I turn to the 15th of Luke. You have here the Lord announcing what the Father's delight is in receiving the prodigal. We have here three parables, and we find the answer to all in the case of the thief on the cross. There the Lord was the shepherd going out after the lost sheep; the Holy Ghost, figured by the woman who sought the silver piece, was there, opening the heart of the thief; and the Father, as we see in the rending of the veil, comes out to embrace him And then see how the Father says, " Bring hither the fatted calf." It is not a great way off that the prodigal is now; he is in the house; and this is not hereafter; it is now.
Are you studying to answer to the heart of God-to own God's love to you? I can never be fully happy unless I am where He likes me to be, and. He likes me to be in His house. True, we read in another parable, Luke 10, that He brings me to " an inn," and it is there my feet are; but where is my heart? A man may be at work all day in an office, but is not his heart in his home? Besides this how can you feast until you get into the Father's house? It is there that the fatted calf is. And you get no growth until you are in there. You must be " planted in the house of the Lord " before you can " flourish in the courts of our God." You may have no doubt that you are a child, but you will never learn the manners of a child unless you are in the place of a child. I say to any poor sinner who is only converted to night: You have not satisfied your Father's heart until you are in His house. Are you not to meet the desire of the Father's heart about you? Then you must begin there; you must be planted there; you have " boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." You do not even properly know justification unless you are there, because the mercy seat was in the holiest. If you look at the order in which Moses was to build the tabernacle, you will find that the ark was the first thing that was to be made; but man never reached it. How great the importance of our practically drawing near into the holiest!
Now what are the effects that are produced in one by being there-in the presence of God? you will find four in the 73rd Psalm-four marks by which you may know when you are in the sanctuary.
The first effect that we find in this Psalm is that God becomes the prominent object of the heart. " How are they brought into destruction as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image."-God in His greatness is before the soul; and it is always in a simple way that we find this out. In Philippians we come to Him making all our requests known, and what is the effect of it? That you get rid of the cares on your mind? No, but that you get Himself. The care is gone away certainly, but I have got God. I had the weight of the care; now I have the color of God. I come out with God upon me, and not the cares; I have got God's way of looking at things, and not my own; and, so I come out from His presence a different man to what I went in,, because I have got the peace of God. So here, the Person who entirely engages my mind is God Himself; He comes prominently before me. That is the first mark The second is: " Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.. So foolish was I, and ignorant; I was as a beast before thee."-You have got the sense of your own nothingness -that you are lower than a man-a very beast. As Job says, " I know thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholder from thee. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself." It is a painful thing, but a necessary thing to get a true sense of one's nothingness.
The third is: " Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand." That is one of the most wonderful and blessed things connected with the presence of God, that I am never so sure as when I am in it that I am an object to Him. " I am continually with thee " Though I am nothing at all, yet I never before was so confident that I am an object to Him. And where would you ever get that sense but in His presence? And, if man could see this before heaven was thrown open, how much more you and I! "Thou hast holden me."
But now the fourth effect, which is always the result of the third, is that He becomes an object to me. " Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." It is practically what the Lord taught His disciples when He brought them into a scene where there was nothing but Himself-where there was " no bread." Have you got Him thus are you satisfied to have nothing but Jesus? Did you ever see one about to die delighted with Jesus? There is " no bread " then-nothing there to sustain the flesh, nothing but Him.
Scripture never contemplates a believer as being in a lower class than that of knowing the Father: " I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father." This knowledge affects you every hour of the day; you show it in every little thing here and there.. What did God send His Son for, but that you might find your enjoyment in His presence? And, if you have never gone unto the Father's house, never taken the child's place, how can you grow?
The Lord lead our hearts to understand it. I see people trying to act here for the Lord who have not got a home, but how can you be a pilgrim and a stranger here if you have not got a home in heaven? I am a pilgrim here because I am going home; I am a stranger here because I am not at home. I say to every evangelist: You have not done your work until you have landed a soul in the. Father's house-until you have placed him in the home: it is there he is formed according to the scene in which he is set. Saints think that God will, educate them at a distance from His presence; He never does that I know of. I do not believe a soul ever gets any line of instruction but in the presence of God. Daniel is afraid of the glory of the Lord. The Lord says: "'Stand upon thy standing." But, you say, how am I to get into heaven? Well, all I insist upon is that unless you know your place in the Father's house-unless you know your home-you have not answered to the heart of God; you really say, Christ has accomplished it all;. He has given me the place; but I. have never gone into it!-Then you have never yet been able to praise Him; and it is " Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me."
But there is always a tendency in us to go back. So the twelfth chapter looks at the danger of the saints falling back from what their calling was.
In this epistle it is first the worshipper, as we have seen, and then the racer..I soar into my true place when I am a worshipper; and, in one sense, worshipping is the easy thing of the two; it is easier than racing, for in the race there is need of patience-of holding out; which is what patience means..
The race is not service, but a man is not a true servant who is not a racer. There is always a certain weakness about his service. The whole of the church of God is like an army that is demoralized. It is no use a man saying, I will return to my duty; he must return to his standard if he want to be of any use; it is his standard that marks him as belonging to the royal army. 'That is the testimony for us. The apostle writes to Timothy: " Be not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord." The race is the testimony. The testimony is to maintain the position in which we have been placed-to maintain our standing. It was for the sake of the testimony that Christ "endured the cross, despising the shame;" it was not to save us, though of course it did; but the point here is that he went to the cross to maintain what was due to God upon the earth. And so in the tenth chapter we read: " Ye endured a great fight of afflictions;" that is not service; " partly, whilst ye where made a gazing stock, both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye, became companions of them that were so used;" no service in all that. But they were set for heaven, and as Jews they were refusing all that Jews had by right on earth, " knowing that they had a better and an enduring substance." They had set out on a race, so it is not only, " boldness," now, but " Ye have need of patience." I can go home with boldness, but I have to run the race with patience. It is -an immense thing to the heart to know that there is now not a single thing between me and the brightness of God's presence. I can always go home; that is an easy thing; there is no place for me like home even if I fail; I shall get no quarter; I shall be rebuked; but if you have failed in the race, go home; it is the only place for the heart to recover in-the only place in which to get fresh, strength for action. " You Have need of patience;” that is, that you may get to heaven. I have boldness to enter" there now; that is where my heart is. Why? because Christ is there, the delight of my heart. I never get a landing place anywhere but in the Father's house; God has set my heart nowhere but in His own presence. So I enter there with boldness, and I run on here with patience; sand, you can well afford to be patient, for "yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." "Now the just shall live by faith."
This cloud of witnesses had a certain thing to maintain for God 'here upon the earth, and now you have to do the same,' and you are not, to give up that race; you have " need of patience " in it. You are going to heaven because Christ is in heaven. When I am doing this I am a racer. A worshipper is one who delights in the presence of God, because he is there in divine acceptance; but a racer comes from his home to run. The worshipper is in the holiest of all where God is. It is not when I have run the race that I come to be a worshipper. What I want to make evident to the soul is that you are to be a racer as well as a worshipper. You Will not have the heart to be a racer unless you are a worshipper, for where have you got anything to sustain you down here?
In the eighty-fourth 'Psalm you get a twofold blessedness. There is, "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house", before you get "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of those who passing through the valley of weeping make it a well." You have the home' before you set out on the race. The one who dwells in the house " will be still praising thee," He will be always doing it. And after that comes the other blessedness, for it is another thing altogether; it is a race through a vale Of tears; but, even there, -whilst passing through such a scene as that, you come as a servant; you come 'to serve others in it. But, whilst serving, your characteristic mark is that you are racing; you are not at home in the place in which you serve.
The great point in the recovery of truth-in this present day is, that you are to bear testimony to Him who is not here; and thus, whilst serving others, I am not serving in an earthly way, but in a heavenly way. " He that is greatest among you,' et him be as the younger,; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." Of course I have compassion on the poor, and seek to serve them, but it is not as a reformer that I do it, but as one who has heavenly principles and heavenly tastes, as one who is a pilgrim and a stranger here because this is not my home, and so I am bearing out the character and manners of my home here where it is not.
I turn now to a Scripture or two to give you practical illustrations of the race of which have 'been speaking. First we will look at 'the third chapter Of Philippians.
Here we find 'three 'things. In the eighth verse we read: " Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency orate 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." Here I get my, object. The apostle tells me in these words what his own practical walk in the wilderness was: he had but one object-Christ.
If I talk to a painter who is studying a work of art, I find that he is imbibing the beauties he is studying; and just so I study Christ, but with this very great difference that, as I study Him, I am formed like Him; as I study the beauty of Christ I am growing like Him; nothing can be More captivating to the heart, than this growing like the Person whom I love; and, as I grow like Him, I get more enlarged power and taste to appreciate Him;. I so admire Him, that I give up the old man altogether. There are two pictures hanging on that wall; one, the most beautiful painting that you can possibly imagine; the other has some lovely tints in it. Surely I shall surrender the latter, when I can have the former. Now that is just what the apostle is doing here; he is not merely giving up man's evil things, but it is the good ones that there are in nature, even these he will not have, that he may get Christ in a deeper fuller way. I give UP all the beauty of the old picture, in order that I may have the enjoyment of the far greater beauties of the new. The beauties in Christ are of a lasting nature; the beauties of nature will not stand. Nature gives way under pressure, not so Christ: the Lord would have loved His mother no matter how she might have behaved to Him; her badness would only have brought out His goodness. And it is not only the deformities of the old picture that I have to give up: the Lord saw the young man and " loved him "; and I often think how beautiful are the touches of nature that I see. But it is not permanent. So the apostle says, I can give up what is gain to me " for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."
We get the second thing in the thirteenth verse. " Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this 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." Here I get my mark. I am pressing towards the mark "for the calling of God on high," as it is literally. Now that is the race. I am now a racer. I have not only an object while here, but I have a mark towards which I am racing. I am going to Jesus where Jesus is. When did Paul see his object? When he was converted; he saw Jesus in the glory; and so he could say, I am going to that point; I am giving up everything to get there; I must run on till I get to where Jesus is.
And how am I to get there if I do not know where He is? And how am I to know Him without seeing Him where He is? And how am Ito see Him so that I may make Him my object? -Well, look at Him! Look at nothing else, and you will soon see Him. In Canticles the bride cannot find her Lord, and what does she do? Why she says: I will portray Him; so she. describes Him. And then what does she do? She goes down to the garden of spices, and there she finds Him. Scripture gives you the features of Christ -gives you His portrait; and, if you only get hold of that portrait, your heart burns within you. It was just so' with the disciples going to Emmaus; the Lord-presented Himself to them in the Scripture; He, by divine skill, portrayed Himself to their souls', and afterward He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
Are you, like the bride in Canticles, studying Christ? Are you searching' for Him? People think 'they can acquire all this without any trouble; but I tell you plainly it is' not so; the Lord knows His own worth too well ever to disclose Himself to any who do not value Him. No, Ile- does not make little of His' own love. Did you ever yet give up a single thing for Christ? If there are people who have never, given up anything for Him, how then can I suppose that He is their object? and how can they expect. Him. to make Himself' known to. them?
The two great things which mark Christianity, are the Person; and the place―what the, apostle is insisting on in Hebrews is the place; and the place-is the -most difficult thing to get souls to accept, because people will have earth and not heaven. But you must get the place first; for; how can I. find any person unless- L know the place he is in? If I were, the place I should. soon find the person; so in -Hebrews- AI is the place that is insisted on. Of course, you -end Christ as your' Savior first:
Well, what is the effect of my getting there? It is that I give up things here. And mark, it, is " things" now. And it is not-Only giving-them up, but 'it is forgetting them. When a person is remembering the things he has given up, lie is'' going back to them in spirit; as it says in the eleventh of Hebrews: -"If they had been mindful of "-that is if they had remembered- "that country from whence they came out, they" might have had opportunity to have returned."
Now where-are you racing to? 'I believe there is a moment in which the soul knows that it has got the mark.
The third thing we get in the- twentieth verse. "Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord' Jesus Christ." Here I get my hope. Now I saw the doctrine of this verse for years before I could shape my life to it. It was not until I saw that I was a stranger here, a heavenly citizen, and therefore not answerable for 'the' state of -things here. I am not a citizen, of this world; I belong to heaven, and I am looking for the Lord to dome and change the whole state of things here, arid when He comes I am to be " fashioned like unto: his glorious body."
These three things; the object, the mark, and the hope are what characterize the saint Walking through this world, and, if they mark his path, he can turn round on the world and say, I have got " the mind of Christ; " and "-Christ' shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death."'
Now to be clear as to what the race is: It is going to the place where Christ is and that is the place for my heart: It is only as my heart is there now-only as I have got hold of what is, above-that I can really walk here according to the testimony.
The first Scripture I turn to is the fourteenth of. John. There the Lord is going away, but He says: " Let not your heart be troubled. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." He brings- forward the place. The way He comforts us is that He is gone away to prepare a place for us. I hear people say He is preparing it for us.—That is incorrect. His going there was what prepared it, and it is ours now, though of course we are not actually in it as to our bodies. Isaiah says: " 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." There are folding doors into that bright' scene, and they are closed. But Paul says, I have seen through them; they are thrown open now; there is a, place for me inside them, and it is there my heart is, because it is there that Christ is. I know nothing that so takes the delight of the place here out of my heart as knowing the place that I have there.
People say, We shall get heaven when we die. It is not so. We have got heaven now; we shall go there when we die. It is 'a given thing; it is not a thing to get. Heaven is a place, and it is mine now. Glory is a condition; it will be mine then. Glory is the display of God according to His attributes. Saying that I do not get heaven till I die is what does all the mischief. If I do,
not get heaven till I die, then I must have earth till I die; and that is just where many a Christian is, and what gives the character to his walk; Satan wants by this to throw you out of the testimony.
Christ has been rejected; they put Him to death. God now turns that to your account; He calls Him to heaven, and unites His people to Him there. " I go to prepare a place for you." And " I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am-where I am-there ye may be also." Thus I have a Head in heaven; and the Holy Ghost is on earth, forming the body and binding it to that Head in heaven. And this is all defeated if I say I shall get heaven when I die. God has revealed these things unto us by His Spirit. The apostle shows us how much more Christians have got than ever Isaiah had any conception of. " He hath revealed them unto us." And yet many, in spite of all He says, have no idea of what is inside the folding doors. Though I have not got inside yet, yet I am looking in by the Spirit of God, and, as. I look, I run I am a racer; " I press towards the mark; " I am going to the place where Christ is, and where I have a place.
You get this practically illustrated in the seventh of Acts. " Stephen, being 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." Here the way into heaven is inaugurated; the doors are opened, and that is where Stephen is running to. You may say, but that was only a vision! No; it was more than a vision: it Was the truth as to heaven inaugurated. Every truth in the word is inaugurated. with great ceremonial; all the beauties of it are to be, traced in it the very first' time it is spoken of; you get its characteristic' elements at the introduction of it, just as a baby is atman, only undeveloped:: Ask me, for instance, about-the truth of, the '.church, and I go back for it to the sixteenth of' Matthew. Ask me' about. Babylon; and I go, back to the eleventh of Genesis'. Ask me about salvation, and I take you to the thief on the cross.
Thus here, in the seventh of Acts, I see a new line is Opened to me, and the Holy Ghost leads me up it to see Christ: In Elijah's time God sees he has grown weary, and God says to him I must take you up; there in nothing else for it: So then, when-Elisha asks;'" I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me," Elijah says, "If thou see me when am, taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee." The whole point was in his seeing him taken up. That word " taken up" is repeated four times in the first chapter of Acts. The Lord Him self has been taken up to heaven, and this proves that all is over here now, and that you must' look to heaven for everything. That saint will not; get on who, when he draws up his blind in the morning, cannot say: There is not one thing in this wide world for me to-day; I draw all my supplies from heaven.—As surely as Israel got manna, from above, so' surely do I get all my supplies from heaven.
So Stephen looks up "steadfastly into heaven." It was no use his looking down to earth, though' he was a Jew. He looked up, and he saw Jesus at the right hand of God. The Holy Ghost led' his eye up there.
If a person say to me, I have the Holy. Ghost' in me; I say, Well, where does He lead you to? Is it to earth? Never! My heart is carried by the Holy Ghost into a new region, and I rest there. The Holy Ghost never turns the eye to earth. " Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." It is a- remarkable' word that; because it is not simply "affection," but it is " Set your mind on things above." People say, How am I to be where Christ is?. " Set your mind on things above," and you will soon enough be there.
We have each of us got a home and a work. I am at home when I am in the. land; ram at work when I am down here on earth. I am; eating the old corn of the land when I' am home; I have the manna when I am at my. work. The manna is Christ on earth, " the' bread of God come down from heaven;" " the: old corn of the land," is Christ in heaven. When.' you go home you relax; you are at your ease; you are at home. I have got bright clothes―, beautiful clothes; but they are only fit for home. I could not appear in them at my work; I have to cover them all up with armor. And what is this armor?-It is character. The devil will soon trip me up if I-have not this.
Stephen says, "I see the Son of man:" That is his testimony. Our testimony at this present! Time is to a Person. It is just the same thing in the ninth chapter, where He says to Saul: " Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Before this the testimony had been to a thing, but now it is to a Person. When you talk of the race, it is that you are running on to a Person. But, if you do not go to the place, how can you maintain the character of the Person who is in that place?
Christians, thousands of them, fall short of the testimony. I do not find it generally among Christians at all; I do not find it in theological books. Christians who are even very sincere have fallen back altogether to the testimony of a previous day. Our testimony is to represent on earth the Man who is not on earth, but who is gone into heaven. The apostle had set them in heaven; he had shown them that Jesus was in heaven; and now he says, If you give up going to heaven you will lose your race. I would just say here, that there never was a heresy but it took its rise in the overstraining of some singular truth, giving it an undue prominence, and thus destroying it;-that is what a heresy is. So I say a truth is not the testimony; a Person is the testimony; and, if you insist on a truth unduly, and persevere in it, you will become a. heretic.
All that were in Asia turned away from Paul. Why? Because he wanted them to turn away from the man here, and they would not. They would not give up things here; so they gave up Paul, and followed Peter. Only Paul was sent to bring out that the Man whom he had seen in glory was now the only one to be represented on earth. If I want to learn how to be a servant I must learn it from Christ. Paul says, There is now no man for God on earth but Jesus, Whatever I would be I must learn the grace, and manner, and ways of Christ; it must be Jesus only, that " Christ may be magnified in my body."
Now mark; The Lord says: " I am Jesus." I understand this myself, but I am not sure that I can give to you my thought as to it. Suppose the Lord were to walk into this room, and were to say: I do not see any of the old man in any one of you; I see nothing but myself. What a wonderful deliverance this would be for many a saint! He sees nothing He acknowledges nothing in the saints but Himself. Paul was to go forth and maintain that this wonderful Man in heaven, whom they had refused; is the only Man now on the earth; he goes forth, as we read farther on, and preaches that " Jesus is the Son of God." That is the testimony: this Man in heaven whose body is on the earth. All has passed away except this blessed One. And Paul has to learn in his own soul the wonderful manner in which God can place him in the light of His own glory, without one single charge against him, without one single spot upon him. The Holy Ghost comes in and seals it to his soul, as he says in Galatians: " When it pleased God to reveal his Son in me;" so that God can say, I now see nothing there but my Son.
What a relief to my heart! If Jesus walks in He says: I see nothing but myself. And as to me, -I can say: " I -am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but -'Christ liveth in me." But what about the life that you live?- It is "by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me;" it is Jesus only. Therefore it is, " Be not -ashamed' of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner." I may well not be ashamed” of that which can set me, a. sinner, in His own bright presence without a single thing to hinder. I turn now to the twelfth of Hebrews just to notice two points. First: What the strength is that is-to carry you-in the race. It is faith. The moment a -man is influenced by what he sees it is not faith; it may be prudence, but it is not faith. In the twenty seventh of Acts three great arguments were brought to bear on Paul, but they had no effect on him; nothing diverted him from 'faith. The owner of the ship said, " The haven was not commodious to winter in."- There was self interest. The passengers " advised to depart thence, if by any means they might attain to Phenice there -to winter." There was prudence. And then " the-south' wind blew softly." There was providence. But Paul said: I am not to be swayed by any one of them am to be guided by faith. And what is faith? Faith is simply reckoning on the word-of-God. All three were against him, but he was not to be moved by any one of them. The wind veered right round to the east, and of what value -then were the words of either the owner of the ship or of the passengers? and of what use was-it the south wind having blown softly before they sailed? You are to be guided by nothing but faith; prudence will not do; faith is lost when prudence guides.
When things seem most hopeless, then is the time that faith is tested. Faith will bring us into suffering. The greatest One suffered here, and why do not we suffer more? It is because we are not able for it. There will. be a " trying of your faith." And remember “trying “is not trial. " Trial is pressing a horse over a five-barred gate when he cannot go over three. “Trying " is riding him over three when he can go over five. He will like it; it only exhilarates him.
Now a word as to running foul. Many a person is not rightly in the race course; but to run fair you must run between the posts. Now there are two posts on the race course. One is: “Lay aside every weight;" the other is': " The sin which doth so easily beset." There is the outside and the inside the weights outside, and the besetments inside. A man running says: This cloak is =too heavy for me, I will take it off. It is a weight that hinders him as he runs. A weight is anything outside that prevents you from being a heavenly man. It may be reading the newspaper-it may be anything; there are more weights than one; and, if you begin taking off weights, it is wonderful how many you will find to take off. People say: Oh, it is only a little thing!―Well take it off even if it be only a, little thing. It is well said: "Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves."
The other post is " The sin which `doth so easily beset." It is not any particular sin; it is the whole body of sin. And that is inside. It is the working of the flesh; and faith is the only power to throw it aside. So -it says " Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin." I am going right against the current; I am refusing the thing here. And so the consequence is people will not have me; " All they which are in Asia be turned away from me." What a lamentable thing that all should turn against him; that there, where he had done all his work, all that he could count on is one solitary family.
The Lord lead our hearts to see what a real place of honor and distinction we have. He has called us to bear-the mark of the heavenly Man to represent the One who is not here; and it is a positive delight to the heart to do it. I am not here to represent the man who is here; neither am I to set up or do anything for him. I 'am to maintain the Man who is not here, and I am not ashamed of the testimony. He is the One who maintained it for God, cost Him what it might; and as I run with patience this race that is set before me, I do it " looking unto Jesus, 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."
(J. B. S.)
It is a question of holding the Head―not of holding the body. As we hold the Head we, so to say forget the members; and then every member, the most ill formed and the most uncomely, looks beautiful in the light that comes from above. (W. W.)